A new year is a new beginning, a clean slate, and a good opportunity to improve ourselves. Does hearing other people talking about New Year’s Resolutions get you thinking? Does it get to be too much for you? Lucky you! For Asian drama watchers, this kind of thing ends up being a lot more fun! We have some ideas for you of how to fall farther into the kimchi rabbit hole!
Find Something Local
For those of us who aren’t going to make it to Korea this year, there are Chinatowns, Koreatowns, or Japantowns in many large cities. They are fun to visit, but try to find something close by that you can experience. Look for specialty grocery stores, foreign movie houses, or yearly ethnic festivals. Many universities have activities for intercultural students. Having a Kdrama-themed party with friends counts in this category!
Extend Your Horizons
Try watching a drama from a new genre or a different country. If you have never watched a historical drama, try one this year. If you usually favor rom-coms, try a mystery. One evening when my husband and I couldn’t decide on a new drama to watch, we logged into Dramafever and watched 15 minutes each of several shows that came up on the browse menu. We weren’t pulled into any of them until we hit Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim and we just kept watching. It became a favorite and hadn’t even been on our radar.
If you have only ever watched dramas from Korea, branch out into Japan, China, or Taiwan. Languages sound different, and it may surprise you how much you have gotten used to hearing Korean! All these countries seem to have similar over-the-top comedy styles. You can see it in Korea’s Virtual Bride, in Japan’s Gokusen, and China’s Love 020.
Keep Track of What you Watch
It’s easy to go through the year watching the latest new dramas and not keeping a record, but it can be helpful to know what you have seen. Suppose someone asks you for recommendations, do you scratch your head and try to remember? “Um…I’m Not a Robot and…wait…what else is there?” It’s nice to have a list to check. Then you can say, “Oh, you like romances? Try Healer or Queen In hyun’s Man.”
Perhaps something in a new drama reminds you of something else but you can’t place it. It’s nice to be able to run over your list and let it jog your memory. You think Won Jin-ah in Just Between Lovers looks familiar? You look her up in AsianWiki but she hasn’t been in any dramas before. So you read down your list and come across Two Outs in the Ninth Inning and Mask and you exclaim, “Oh yes! She looks just like Soo Ae!” That doesn’t solve the problem of why they look alike, but you’ve pinned it down.
Make it Educational
There’s a wealth of related topics that you can delve into. It can be fun to get into the food of another country and visit a new restaurant or try your hand at cooking. You pick up on cultural differences by watching dramas. People argue over using formal or informal language. They use titles instead of names, which can be confusing, especially when the name is in the subtitle and something else is clearly being said. These are good things to research.
Study the language. You learn a few common expressions just by watching, but some of us want to watch without subtitles, or be able to visit the country and talk to people. Just learning the writing can be fascinating. If you learn Korean hangul you can decipher show titles and street signs. Some, like City Hunter, are English words written in hangul. Japan has a formidable amount of ideographs but you could tackle the phonetic hiragana. Considering how much I got into Elvish in high school, you’d think I would be better at this.
The main thing is to try something new. We at Dramas with a Side of Kimchi will keep you up on new drama trends. We hope you have fun with it!