Yes people, it’s true. I’ve had many false starts over the years, but I finally got into a k-drama. (K-drama stands for korean drama.) Now, I won’t go so far to say I’m a k-drama fanatic or anything, because I’ve watched the first episodes of a few different series and I could never get into them. But I finally landed on one I like. Nay, love.
If you live in China you can probably guess the one I like. My Love from Another Star. It’s one of the biggest hits in China right now. It’s about an alien (the hottest alien that has ever lived by the way) who gets stuck on earth because he helps, and falls in love with, a young girl. 400 years later, as he finally has a chance to go back home he meets a stuck-up bitchy actress who happens to be a doppleganger of the young girl he knew 400 years ago. I think you can guess the story line from there. (I’m only on episode 7 though, so NO SPOILERS!)
For the uninitiated K-drama is korean dramas which are wildly popular in asia. They aren’t exactly like our soaps, with season after season of the show continuing, but shorter stories told in about 20 episodes. (I’ve heard there are some longer historical ones but even they stop after a year.) They cover all genres, comedy, historical, sci-fi etc, and for the most part revolves around a love story. I’m not gonna say they’re classy TV, but they are high quality, and better then some of our dramas like Vampire Diaries and such. And surprisingly (or perhaps not?) they are mostly written by women. It’s good to see an international hit being fueled by the creative power of women.
K-drama is getting bigger in the west, I watch mine on Hulu, but Netflix has them too, and they have a cult following. But in China they are h-u-u-u-u-g-e. For example the one I watch has been viewed more than 12 billion times. That’s billion with a b. Not just big in China, but all parts of asia. And it has had its effect on pop culture.
In the show, the main character loves to eat fried chicken and beer, which set off a fad in China. (“Chicken and beer” being one of the highest used phrases on social media at that time, and now a common food combo at restaurants to attract customers.) And not only that, but according to this article, Chinese leaders talked about it at their recent meeting bemoaning the fact that China doesn’t produce anything nearly as popular. Yeah, that’s right, the Communist Party talked about a k-drama as a serious problem affecting china.
It just goes to show how meaningful “soft power” can be. You might be more familiar with Korean culture these days, especially with their music. (Gangham Style anyone?). It’s called the K-wave, and it’s something similar to anime and manga from Japan penetrating the world’s cultures. I think it’s only the beginning as well. Right now k-dramas are still in the fringes in western culture, with fanatical fans, but unheard of by most of the population. But I think it’s beginning to change, and with more wildly successful shows like My Love from Another Star I think you’ll be hearing about it more and more.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I still have 13 more episodes until the season finale so I gotta catch up!