Body swapping in "Secret Garden' with Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won

Body swapping in “Secret Garden’ with Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won

“Is this the drama with the girl who dresses up as a boy, but then dresses up as a girl and sneaks into an all boys’ school?” Asks my brother as he absent-mindedly plays on his phone whilst offering a running commentary on the drama I am currently watching.

This has become a running joke between us, used whenever I start trying to discuss any of the South Korean or Japanese dramas I have watched in the past.

It makes me laugh every time he says it. I roll my eyes, but I’m not really offended. I think all Asian drama fans are aware of a certain level of ridiculousness in a few of the series.

It got me thinking of what I love and hate about these dramas. I gathered some opinions from fellow UKP staff and it certainly added fuel to my fire. I wanted to get some perspective from individuals that had watched a wider variety of dramas than me, but it seems that there are some distinct similarities between all of them.

I thought I would share a few points here and hopefully gain a good response from any readers that are more experienced drama viewers than I!

[Disclaimer: just to make it 100% clear, personally, I only have South Korean and Japanese dramas as my specific points of reference here! Also, just incase – this post may contain SPOILERS as I have shown a couple of kiss scenes in the images!]

The humour.

Shuichi Nakatsu, Ikuta Toma, Hanazakari no Kimitachi e, Hana Kimi, 2006

Ikuta Toma as Shuichi Nakatsu in 2006 version of ‘Hana Kimi’

Anyone who has read any of my reviews for the site (thanks!) will know that I am a big fan of the Eastern sense of humour.
It is one of the few things that I can watch and physically laugh aloud at. Don’t get me wrong, I laugh a lot in life, but Western television programmes will rarely get more than an amused huff and a smile from me. Whereas, I have lost count of the times family have asked me what I am laughing so loudly at when I have been watching something South Korean or Japanese.

The humour is silly and often very physical, sometimes almost like that of a cartoon. Characters will sometimes randomly break the ‘Fourth Wall’ and address viewers directly, as well as show an awareness of their role as a character in a drama rather than as someone in real life.

The ‘drag and stare’.

This is more the 'stare' part...Jang Geun Suk and Park Shin Hye in 'You're Beautiful'

This is more the ‘stare’ part…Jang Geun Suk and Park Shin Hye in ‘You’re Beautiful’

The guy gets angry, proceeds to grasp the girl by the wrist and drag her away, sometimes for quite a distance. After the drag, the guy will often stare intensely and wide-eyed at the woman, communicating feelings of severe frustration through his facial expression alone before finally speaking.

Quite a common occurrence in dramas, right?
But honestly, what would you do if this happened in reality?
I’m sure I would never take kindly to anyone physically dragging me anywhere under any circumstances (unless in a sleeping bag or on a sled of some kind, because that’s just plain fun…).

If anyone tries to drag you anywhere against your will, I advise you to employ the ‘sit-down’ technique. Drop to the floor quickly and assume a position that will make yourself the least aero-dynamic you can be. Hopefully your ‘dragger’ will then see the difficulty of the task ahead and give up before they get too far…

The ‘Ken-to-Barbie’/Wall Kiss.

Jang Geun Suk, Park Shin Hye, You're Beautiful, Tae Kyung, Go Mi Nam, Kiss Scene

‘You’re Beautiful’ again! The character Tae Kyung kisses Go Mi Nam

Far be it from me to criticise cultural differences. Of course, Eastern culture is very different from Western in so many ways – one of which is regarding the concept of ‘skinship’.
The fact that I have only ever heard a word to describe intimate behaviour since I started learning about these cultures is testament in itself to this huge difference.
In many Western series a relationship will START with a kiss and often quite a passionate one at that, so the adjustment a Western viewer has to make from this to waiting 10 episodes for an action figure-like connection of lips in slow motion is quite a big one!

It’s not for perverted reasons that I raise this point, but rather the injustice I seem to always feel after becoming so invested in a pair of characters’ budding relationship through many episodes to then see them briefly and emotionlessly tap faces near the end of the series.

It’s sweet that each stage of the relationship is taken slowly and that each milestone is cherished (I think that’s how it always should be, in fact) but to be so wooden and unfeeling during a first kiss is a bit…*sigh*

The illnesses caused by exposure to rain/any kind of damp.

Heartstrings, Korean Drama, CNBlue, Jong Yong Hwa, Kang Min Hyuk

Kang Min Hyuk and Kim Yoon Hye in ‘Heartstrings’. She was in the rain for too long!

Here’s me learning in school that everyday illnesses are mainly caused by viruses and bacteria, until I watch Asian dramas and find out that is all a LIE!

Illnesses (aside from the more serious) are actually caused by going out in the rain without and umbrella or getting a drink thrown in your face! How could I not know that?!

Okay, so I can see where this is coming from – if you get wet and don’t get dry quickly, you become cold, which in turn makes you more susceptible to contracting any illnesses that might by milling around as well as a fever (in extreme cases).

But to go to the hospital for it every time?! No way.
Most people I know would avoid the doctors/hospital at all costs. Going there can sometimes seen like more of an inconvenience than a necessity to many. While this is NOT an attitude I recommend you adopt – I’m sure most people would be incredulous if you told them you went to the hospital because you got caught in the rain.

The eavesdrop in plain view

AKB48, Maeda Atsuko, Hana Kimi, 2011, remake

“We’re almost hidden! Shh!” in the 2011 Japanese remake of ‘Hana Kimi’ starring Maeda Atsuko.

A lot of dramas I have seen involve eavesdropping at some point or another. I guess this is to be expected, as the term ‘drama’ itself does imply that there is going to be some during the series.
What better way to stir it up then to have a character find out the truth that has been previously kept from them and not intended for their ears.

It’s edge of your seat stuff, but what I don’t understand is how obvious the eavesdropping individuals can make their presence in some of the programmes!

Many I have seen involve these characters barely concealed as they crouch behind a nearby bush, or perhaps stood around the nearest possible corner, through a crack in the door even.
Not only this, but if they are accompanied by another, the two may have a loud conversation but still get out unnoticed by those they are spying on.
Suffice to say, this isn’t an entirely accurate depiction of reality, especially if like me, you have a detective of a mother with a supernatural sense of hearing.

The fall-on-top-and-accidentally-kiss Kiss

Hana Yori Dango, Boys Over Flowers, Matsumoto Jun, Inoue Mao, Domyouji,

Matsumoto Jun fell on Inoue Mao in ‘Hana Yori Dango’ (Japanese version of ‘Boys Over Flowers’)

You know how it is, you are walking along, minding your own business and then someone bumps into you, pushing you over…not only this, but you only knock someone else as you fall and end up accidentally touching lips!

How embarrassing! But also, how implausible! I’ve fallen on a few people in my life (I seem to bring others down with me when I go), but I can honestly say I have never kissed anyone upon my landing.

It may have happened a few times throughout human history, but I bet all those people have laughed at the unlucky incident and gotten on with their lives. This contrasts what I have known to happen in a few dramas, where people are scolded or ridiculed for the incident as if it was their intention for it to happen.

However, if there are any readers who have that person they like but find it difficult to confess to – just pucker up and throw yourself at them! That way, if it ends badly, you can just brush it off as an accident.

I do love Asian drama series and understand that a lot are playful and ridiculous on purpose, but these are just a few traits that have left me slightly perplexed!

So, are there any ridiculous Asian drama habits you think have been missed here?

Let us know in the comment section and there may be a second addition to this post in the near future with your suggestions!

What do you love and hate about the dramas you have seen?
Perhaps it’s less of a hate and more a sense of bewilderment?

[Image source: Google Images].


About Author

I love writing (especially about K-Pop) and am trying to improve my skills with every post!