Friday, November 17, 2006

Korean TV Dramas - love 'em or loathe 'em?

Over at Big Hominid there has been some discussion about Korean TV dramas. The discussion has been quite negative. It seems that the discussants, Kevin, Charles and Gord are no fans of this genre. Some of the reasons for not liking the dramas are lack of budget, poor script, and predictability.

Unless I am very much mistaken out discussants are all male (and I also think that they all grew up in the US). Not that there is anything wrong with that. I point that out only to suggest that Korean TV dramas are not aimed at US/Western males and therefore, it is hardly surprising that they do not like them. For example, I can't stand Star Trek and I have never seen 24 or Lost. I have zero desire to watch these programs based on what I understand these shows are about. They are not aimed to appeal to people like me. So while many people may praise these US TV dramas and wonder why others don't see their appeal, the same applies to Korean TV dramas. The problem lies not in the genre, but that the genre does not have you in mind.

I also think it is unfair to compare Korean dramas to US dramas for two reasons. Comparing the budget of Korean TV dramas and those of US is unfair - the size of the industries are too different to criticise one for not being as good as the other. The budget issue impacts all the other criticisms made. In terms of script and the presence of logical gaps, Big Hominid has already pointed out there are plenty of US shows with logical gaps. I imagine that US and Korea are not alone in having dramas that have logical gaps.

The predictability of Korean TV dramas can be viewed as a positive thing. You know exactly what you are getting - not only in terms of storyline. You can also be reassured that there will be no bad language, no real violence, and no smut (not sure that is the right word but we all know that Korean TV is far more conservative than US). And why not change the plot to viewer demand? The shows are made for the fans, listening to them makes good sense. I'd also be interested to know exactly how often that really happens. Korean TV dramas know their audience and they pander exactly to what we want to see. I think they are great.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui