Author: hayliez

Elements to success of K-drama


Why does everyone watch Korean drama ? K-drama has found certain ways to promote their series using the Cinderella story, similar plots with unexpected twists, gorgeous cast, corporate with K-pop and Fashion to spread popularity, variety in characters, beautiful settings are the significance elements lead K dramas to its success.  


Cinderella is a very famous Western fairy tale. It starts with a poor unfortunate girl who has a step mom and sisters that hate her and always mean to her. One day she meets the prince, fall in love and live happily ever after. Does it sound familiar with “My Princess” where Lee-Sul is a typical poor girl who is given up for adoption suddenly find out she is a princess and fall in love with her prince charming whose grandfather owes one of the biggest company in Korea? She has a sister that dislike her and partner up with a mean girl,who loves her prince, to take her down. She does not have a great childhood and her father passes away just like Cinderella.



Goong is also another fictional  drama series about the Korean royal family. Chae-Kyeong is also a very typical girl from a middle class family who one day finds out she is getting married with Lee Shin the prince of Korea because of an arranged married agreement between her grandfather and the last king.  From a ordinary girl to a princess is every girl’s dream, using that Korean writters comes up with the modern Cinderella plot to attract young female teenagers and they successes based on how popular the two series that I mention above are.



It does not have to involve a prince or royal family to make a “Cinderella story” series, it can be a very handsome, rich, popular boy who is the leader at school and everyone wants to be his girl. Boys Over Flowers for example is a very famous Korean drama series that is well-known worldwide and it does not have anything related to actual Royal family but Goo Jun Pyo who is a leading male character is built like a prince figure. He is the only son of the most powerful incorporation of South Korea, he lives in a mansion as big as a palace with drivers and maids, drive the nicest car and go on vacations in fancy places. He falls in love with Geum Jan Di who is a girl from a poor family and that is when the Cinderella story begins.


Another elements that Korean drama series famous for is the attractive cast in every series. There is always a cold good looking “bad boy”, a pure innocent looking girl or a sexy mean woman who tries to get in between them and there is a gorgeous looking “player” who makes all the girl fall in love. Korean drama has it all and no one can deny that Korean actors and actress are by far one of the most good looking cast. I have heard people ask if every Korean look like that because they get some beautiful figure in drama series. Korean movies are like commercial they always pick the best looking cast and it is a very important element beside the plot in how successful the series would be.



When you watch a lot of Korean drama series you start to see the similarities in them despite how different the setting is or the details. In most movie, the girl and the guy normally hate each other at first, they argue all the time, pick on each other, get mad and fight but then fall deeply in love toward the end of the movie. So why people still keep watching and looking for new dramas ? It is because even though the plots have a lot similarities there is always a twist toward the end. There is always a moment when a secret comes out and changes everything like when Lee Yoon Sung in City Hunter find out his real father is the President who is supposed to be his enemy, it changes the whole situation and no one would have foreseen that. K-drama with same old plots but not really the same, you always have to wait until the end to tell.


In Korean drama series, you can find for yourself a character that you can relate to. Most of the girls or guys are just typical people like us and suddenly something happens that change their life from ordinary to extraordinary. Han Ji Eun in Full house is a writer who writes corny stories on the internet for a living until the day her friends trick her into selling her house to Lee Young Jae who is a good looking famous actor and of course they fall in love. From nobody she becomes the girl that every girl jealous of. That is how Korean dramas find its way to people’s hearts with the “ from just the typical girl today to the most popular girl tomorrow” story because everyone can relate to the character somehow.


Another reason why Korean drama series are so popular is its link to K-pop. Do you know the soundtrack of Boys over Flowers is performed by SS501 the band which Kim Hyun Joong a member of and Kim Hyun Joong is also Yoon Ji Hoo the second leading male character in Boys over flowers ? Using one of the cast’s band to produce soundtrack is “one stone kill two birds” method. The popularity of the band raise up with the success of the series. Before Boys Over Flowers people barely heard of SS501 and after the movies people started to download their music, along with downloading the series. When someone talk about SS501, they also talk about Boys Over Flowers and more and more people start to watch it.


Korean drama series also have a connection fashion that benefit both Korean fashion culture and K dramas. I remember when every girl used to wear the short jacket with floral dresses like Han Ji Eun in Full house, cut their hair to have it short like Geum Jan Di in Boys over flowers. Ji eun wears the same style through out the series and someone it becomes a trend. People start wearing it and it also help to spread the popularity of the series, once others start asking you where you get the style from; they start to watch Full House.


Last but not least, the setting of Korean drama series are usual breathtakingly beautiful and it does not stay within Korea. Full House was shoot in Phuket Thailand- one of the most amazing beach in Southeast Asia, City hunter has some scenes in Chiang mai Thailand with green tall mountains and huge elephants, First love of a Royal Prince also has episodes in Japan and Bali Indonesia where has the most clear transparent blue beach and white sand beach shore. Korean directors choose to shoot their series outside of Korea as a smart technique to promote their film worldwide and who does not want to watch a romantic comedy series with gorgeous beach as the setting ?


Although, there are many reasons why K-dramas are so popular not just among Korean audiences but also globally. Beautiful setting, Cinderella story, gorgeous cast with famous K-pop singers, promote new fashion trend, variety of characters which anyone can find themselves relate to make K-dramas everyone’s favorite. 




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Korean Modern Fairy Tales


From a ordinary girl to princess, from the least popular girl to be with the most popular guy who every girl wants; that is almost every teenager girls’ dream. Aiming toward young female population; Goong was created as a modern Korean fairy tale. Despite the dramatic plot, it also introduces audiences to another aspects of Royal family.

Chae-Kyung is an ordinary Korean girl who happens to attend the same school with Shin the Prince of Korean royal family. Unlike Shin, Chae-Kyung is from a middle class family but she always smile and nice to everyone around her. She and her group of friends always joke around and come up with crazy things to do like normal high school students. Everything changes when some men in black suite shows up in front of her house and take her to the palace where the King and Queen inform her she is going to marry Shin and become a princess due to the marriage agreement between her grandfather and the last king. This is when the fairy tale element comes in. Korean royal family, arranged marriage in the 21st century? Who does not want to believe any ordinary girl can become a princess?


In other hand, Goong brings audiences to another aspect of being in a royal family – Stress and Pressure. Chae Kyung from a happy girl who is always full of joys to a “doll” inside the palace surrounded by all the rules. She have people decided what she should say in public, what to wear, how to behave certain ways that appropriate. Being a princess is not just about the clothes, palace and title, from nobody Chae Kyung becomes every girl’s role model and that comes with a lot of pressure. Along with public reputation, she also has to learn poetry, read books about rules..etc. Every girl wants to be a princess but not every girl know what it takes to be one and Goong introduces that to people successfully. It is a drama series that fulfill the fairy tale elements but not forgeting the reality.

Goong is a series that find a balance between drama and reality. They let every girl fall in love with the plot of a ordinary girl waking up one day in a palace and become a princess but it is not all pink and magical, it comes with pressure and stress and sacrifice.
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My Sassy Girl = My “Not So Korean” Girl

my-sassy-girl-online-game“My Sassy Girl” is one of the very successful widely known Korean comedies. It is also one of the first Korean movies with very “strong” Korean female’s figure, a movie where male and female switch roles and against all the traditional beliefs of ladylikeness.


Gyeon-woo is getting on the subway where he meets the Girl who   later becomes the most important girl in his life. The Girl is drunk and cannot stand straight; she throws up everywhere and before  she passes out on the train she points to Gyeon-woo, calls him  “honey” so people think she is his girlfriend. From that moment  she becomes his responsibility. That is how the movie starts. The  Girl does not have a name. She can be anyone; she does not represent a typical Korean girl. She is just the Girl and she is sure to against a quiet, gentle, well-mannered Asian girl image. She drinks until she is wasted; she yells at strangers, fearlessly ready for a fight. While most of the movies in 2000-2005 are romantic movies where the main female characters are calm, “don’t speak until spoken to” girls; The Girl in is tough and bossy.


Because of such a “rebellious” female figure as the main character, the roles of male and female in this movie seem to get switched. “ Behind a successful man there is always a woman.” is an old Asian saying simply mean traditional Asian/Korean women are meant to be behind the men and help them to success. In the movie, The Girl asks Gyeon-woo the reason why the sky is blue, why Korea has four seasons and why Gyeon-woo was born.Later she tells him they are all because of her and for her. It against the belief of women are men’s helper, the man in this situation exists for the woman.

My-Sassy-Girl-my-sassy-girl-2249398-323-266When the Girl visits Gyeon-woo at his school she makes him trade his sneakers for her heels. When they go to restaurants or coffee shops she is the one that order for both of them. She beats him in every single sports they play together. She always yell and hit him constantly. She is always the one who save him out of dangerous situations. Even in her fiction stories that she likes to write and make him read them despite how bad they are, she is still the “hero” and he is the “victim” to save. Clearly the Girl appears to be manlier than the boy in this relationship they have. In “My Sassy Girl” the Girl takes control, she leads and Gyeon-woo ( the boy ) follows, that is totally not what Asian/Korean believe in.

Even though, the Girl in “My Sassy Girl” is the odd Korean girl who against old beliefs of how a lady should act, she is unique and any girl can find herself related to her. Do whatever you want and be whomever you want to be despite your gender is the message of “My Sassy Girl” that get sent to audiences through the Girl.

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200 pounds versus the Korean belief of beauty ?

200 Pounds-Beauty

200 pounds vs “standard” beauty

200 Pounds Beauty” is a remarkable successful Korean movie with over 40 millions revenue. Even though, the ideal behind this movie is somewhat negative. Based on it, 200 pounds beauty does not exist no matter how talented that girl can be.

Kang Hanna is an overweight girl who has an amazing voice but she is considered “ugly” because she does not have that ideal body with curves in right parts of her body. She works as a phone sex employee and “ghost” singer for a famous singer- Amy who is very pretty but can not handle a note herself.  Hanna is secretly in love with Amy’s manager – Sang Jun but she overheard he says she is fat and ugly. Heartbroken Hanna has a massive plastic surgeon from head to toe. She changes her name to Jenny– a “perfect” girl with a “perfect” body. She becomes a singer and Sang Jun finally laid his eyes on her. Life is perfect until she starts to lose herself, lose “Hanna”, she begins to wonder who she is inside all the silicon bags, fake face and body.

The movie is a comedy but behind all the laughter it leaves me wondering if being beautiful is all about how you look in the outside regardless your characteristic. Kang Hanna – a sweet, nice 200 pounds girl works as a phone sex employee and back stage singer for another singer who has no real talent. Jenny – a girl with nothing real on her body but Hanna’s voice becomes a pop star. The only thing that different between Hanna and Jenny is Hanna has a big nose, small eyes, thin lips and weight 200 pounds while Jenny has a oval shape face, a sharp and pointed nose, full lips, pale skin tone and wear size 0. Through Hanna we can see if your appearance does not fit into the ideal Korean standard of beauty regardless how great you are at singing you are far from being a Korean pop star.

The ideal of getting massive plastic surgery to be seen, loved, feel beautiful has really negative effects in Korean teenagers. Especially when it is commons for high school girls to ask for “double eyelids” surgery as graduation gift. A simple procedure would make their eyes bigger and considered prettier in Korea.  It is not something wrong with their noses, eyes, lips that they need to get surgery. They need that painful, expensive surgery to be call beautiful regardless what they have to suffer through recovery. When skinny flawless looking singers and actresses are all over media, they feel the need to be like that. Just like Hanna, she does not feel alive until she becomes Jenny.

South Korea is known for its plastic surgery industry but it is scary how much Korean girls willing to pay to be “pretty”.Movies like “200 Pounds Beauty” promotes the wrong idea to Korean young women make them feel the need to go through painful procedure just to fit into the ideal beauty standards.

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Yoo, Julia. “Culture Shock! – Essay: “Beauty: The Korean Way”” Web log post. Culture Shock! – Essay: “Beauty: The Korean Way” N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2013.