The KDrama Commandments

No, really. You look totally sane.

K entertainment is a slippery slope. One minute you’re bopping along content with your kpop…and then you find out that your #1 kpop boyfriend (he just doesn’t know it yet) is in a korean drama so you watch it…and then you watch something else that another actor in that drama was in…and then a friend tells you about another drama….and then you start picking them on your own and next thing you know its 2 in the morning and you’re sitting on your couch streaming kdramas to your tv (thanks netflix!) sobbing while having a serious craving for ramen.

You’re now a kdrama addict. Welcome to the club. We don’t sleep, we wait.

For the uninitiated, Korean Dramas are akin to the American soap opera, but in a format (and drama level) closer to the telenovelas of Spanish speaking countries. Korean dramas typically have a pre-determined run of episodes (occasionally extra episodes are tacked on due to popularity. This is almost never a good thing) somewhere between 15-20. Each episode runs an hour, without commercials (I think. This may just be my experience from watching it online).

Ever since my initial foray into kdramas via the action/adventure Iris (sort of starring TOP from Big Bang) I’ve become addicted. I’ve watched my fair share of dramas since then and…well. A pattern has emerged. There are certain things that are native to most genres of television, but in the kdrama world it almost seems like its a written via a plot-by-numbers book.

And thus, the KDrama Thirteen Commandments was born.

As a caveat, I must make it clear that I have not seen every kdrama. I also tend to not go for the historical dramas (yet). All of the kdramas I’ve watched, save IRIS, have fallen into the fluffy romantic comedy category, so keep that in mind.

On with the show.

Commandment 1: If thou art a rich and handsome man, you are a dick and will fall in love with a poor girl. Most romantic dramas seem to over rely on the girl being poor. Apparently, Korea has a Captain-Save-A-Ho complex.

Commandment 2: SHOWER SCENES. You will never see more than the female lead’s legs peeking out from under her impossibly short skirts. But the male lead will ALWAYS have a shower scene that serves no purpose except to titillate female viewers. Meanwhile, if the female lead happens to see him shirtless, she will most likely scream and cover her eyes, even if she is clearly too damn old to be scandalized by a naked torso.

Commandment 3: It is no big deal for two people to agree to keep their love going for a randomly determined number of years while one of them goes to America/Europe/etc. For whatever reason. Kdramas love a good airport cry fest.

Commandment 4: In Korea, you are either insanely rich or live in a one room shack. There is no middle ground.

Yi-Kyung's rathole in "49 Days"

Kim Joo Won's fabulous pad in "Secret Garden"

Commandment 5: Poor girls are always completely altruistic. They help everyone with their pluck and determination. The fight off criminals, take care of old people, work twenty jobs while going to school and STILL go hungry so their younger siblings can eat. If only some rich man would come along and help her…

Commandment 6: MAKEOVER SCENE!  If you are a poor girl, don’t fret. Inevitably a rich man will come along and buy you lots of expensive things. You don’t want them of course, because he is spoiled and mean and you are light and pure. But, on the other hand, eventually our destitute little heroine will find occasion where her poor people togs will not do. In this case it is perfectly acceptable for the male lead, the second male lead, someone’s sister, or a stranger to whisk ‘ol Cinderella here off to a location fully staffed with stylists and makeup artists who will work their magic. Bonus points if she makes her entrance via a set of stairs…so she can fall down them and right into the arms of the guy she is in love with…or the poor sap she isn’t.

Aw, honey. You tried it. Now let the pros take over...

MUCH BETTER. Now be careful going down those stairs...

Pshaw! Thank goodness this guy who is tortured with love for her was there!

Commandment 7: In real life the female lead (if she isn’t a villain) would be classified as a danger to herself and others due to her intense stupidity. She would also have broken several bones from being klutzy. And probably managed to drown herself while showering. You know the “manic pixie dream girl” trope? Thats the kdrama equivalent of restraint.

Its like the axis of evil...but with more pouting

Commandment 8: If the girl is confident, well dressed, and not borderline mentally challenged, SHE IS A BITCH. It doesn’t matter if bad things happened in her past to make her guarded and mean. She is the obstacle to one twu wuv and must be disposed of. Occasionally, she undergoes a full lobotomy and then someone decides to love her.

Sing it, Seul.

Commandment 9: If anyone is out in the rain or cold for longer than five minutes, they will become so sick that it will require that (female lead) the hot guy carries them (preferably on his back) to his home where he nurses her back to health, or (male lead) requires hospitalization/bed rest. Also, this holds true if the girl gets drunk. No one simply stumbles home to vomit up the booze and live another day. She always requires a piggy back ride and a pair of eyes to stare deeply into hers when she comes to in the morning.

Commandment 10: If a female walks away from a guy while they are arguing (or if he’s simply not done talking to her), he will grab her roughly by the wrist or forearm and jerk her back. Amazingly, they never manage to injure or bruise the tiny 90 pound object of their affection. However, a slap from a male villain? Bruising that lasts for days and requires makeup.

Commandment 11: There will be approx 3 scenes showing delicious Korean food (they manage to make plain ramen look mouth wateringly delicious) in every episode. It will make you hungry every time.

Commandment 12: If you are poor, eventually your rich boyfriend’s mother will offer you money to leave, slap you, or throw water in your face. In most cases, all of these things occur during the same meeting. In extreme cases, she will extend her reign of terror to include ruining the life of everyone who has ever looked upon you kindly.

Someone demolished your apartment building and left you homeless? How dreadful.

Commandment 13: The second male lead will repeatedly come to the aid of the female lead. Money, protection, a shoulder to cry on, willing accomplice in whatever manic pixie dream girl scheme she has cooked up, whatever she needs, he’ll do it. He is also in love with her. He is always smart, cute, well off but not as rich/powerful as the male lead,  and sweet as pie. He has no chance in hell. And he’ll probably end the drama alone…or hooking up with the formally evil female character (No, I have not forgiven Coffee Prince OR Greatest Love for these tragedies).


7 thoughts on “The KDrama Commandments

  1. I am STILL salty that Samsoon and Henry and Samsoon/Henry never fucking happened. I mean, COME ON. DANIEL HENNEY PLAYING A DOCTOR WHO IS ADORABLE. And he spends an entire scene just SMILING at her. UGH.

    I still think you should see a couple episodes of Jewel in the Palace. You wanna talk about mouth-watering looking food that makes you desperate to cram something in your face? BOY HOWDY.

  2. 1. I love that you said “salty”. You are such a Chicagoan.
    2. I haven’t watched that Samsoon drama yet. I keep forgetting. Also, do you do Netflix? They’ve been adding a LOT of kdramas. I keep obsessively checking to see if they’ve added Coffee Prince. I NEED to watch that again.

    • 1. 😀

      2. It is pretty fun, even if you want to punch everyone but Samsoon (and Henry) in the face a few times. Plus, the ending is incredibly revolutionary for a KDrama. Plus, Samsoon is a French Pastry chef, and the stuff she makes is drool-worthy. Plus, your boy Hyun Bin is in it.

      3. Sadly, Netflix streaming is off my radar ATM, but CrunchyRoll and Drama Fever stream through my Roku. OMG, LOVE THOSE SO MUCH.

  3. You left out the fact that KDrama heroines almost never hug a man back or say I love you. I am only on my 7th or 8th but a strong pattern is emerging. She may confess first, but he’ll always say “Sarangae” first. Never has a heroine said it so far.

    • Its funny because I was re-watching an ep of Coffee Prince last night after I read this comment and you are SO right. its like there is the requirement that she never says it first. Maybe its unladylike to them, lol. Thanks for reading!

  4. This is fantastic! And painfully true. I’ve been watching dramas for about three years (I got roped in by Kim Hyun Joong and Boys Over Flowers which was SO bad yet SO addicting)

    Most of the time I like the secondary guy better too, and it’s one of the reasons I just could not love The Greatest Love. Or You’re Beautiful. Or Flower Boy Ramyun Shop (I mean really? A high schooler instead of Lee Ki Woo?! *huffs*)

    I love that you included the delicious food scenes as a commandment, most people forget that they’re an essential part to the kdrama mix. I feel like having rice or ramyun every time.

    You forgot about the comatose patients who either lose their memory or just stand up as soon as they wake up (even though they’ve been laying there for a couple of weeks). Also; you will never ever forget your first love and if you don’t end up with them your life sucks.

    Aaah. Kdramas are so strange… I love it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s