What are dramas, also known as doramas, you ask? They are essentially Asian miniseries/TV shows, usually told in a 16-24-episode story arc, ending with a definitive ending(highly refreshing after the indecisive and never-ending American shows). Of these, Korean dramas are by far the most popular(check out the if you so desire).
What is a dorama?
(credit to dorama_chat on Livejournal)
“Dorama is the Japanese word for drama. It is used to specify TV series from Asia, esp. Taiwan, Korea and Japan. The length of doramas depend on the country they are from. Japanese doramas tend to be 10 to 11 episodes long, one episode consisting between 45 minutes and 1 hour. Korean doramas tend to be about 16 episodes long, but depending on the genre (historicals can be up to 70 episodes long!) it may vary and in romantic series they consist of up to 26 episodes. Taiwanese doramas start at 16 and can run up to 30 episodes per dorama.”
What is the hallyu wave?
Korean dramas are by far the most popular of the Asian dramas and are largely responsible for sparking the so-called Hallyu wave,which is a surge of world-wide popularity for all things Korean, particularly Korean entertainment and dramas. “Since 2002 when the most well-known Korean drama was released- Winter Sonata, starring Bae Young Joon and Choi Ji Woo, there was a sudden and rapidly growing interest in Korean dramas amongst people from all over the world. This sudden interest in Korean dramas which also led to an interest in Korean culture for many people also became known as the Hallyu. The term Hallyu was first actually used by Chinese reporters who noticed the very rapid increase in Korean dramas and culture amongst the Chinese people and used the term Hallyu to refer to it. Today the term Hallyu has become a global term known and used by Korean drama fans and also by those interested in the Korean culture all over the world.” – Think South Korea
According to the hugely popular YA site which sells many Korean dramas,
“Over 90% of the people who are enjoying YA Entertainment’s Korean TV drama mini-series DVDs with English subtitles are NOT Korean. Why do non-Korean, English-speaking Americans love Korean TV drama mini-series? Why do they use words like “addicting” when referring to them? Here is what they are telling us:
1. Purely and emotionally portray love, friendship, tragedy, loyalty, respect, and general family values.
2. Highly romantic stories of people beating the odds to find and experience true happiness.
3. Relatively little violence and sex.
4. Cliffhangers, cliffhangers, and more cliffhangers from one episode to the next.
5. Each Korean TV mini-series refreshingly has an ending. No Season 2, no sequels, etc. Most series are between 10-20 episodes (each episode = 60 minutes).
6. Korean actors and actresses are BEAUTIFUL people.
7. Beautiful (and unforgettable) musical scores.”
If there’s any doubt to be had about the increasing and incredible popularity of dramas, particularly in Western countries, all you need to know is that dramas now have their own entire Wikipedia section(in English!) – Dramawiki
Recurring themes in doramas:
Things to expect from doramas:
-People who are afraid of needles
-People invariably getting sick after being out in the rain or cold(apparently, getting cold=literally getting a cold in doramas – they haven’t heard that that old wives’ tale no longer holds true. While we wait for them to catch up, we’ll enjoy the dramatic possibilities/soap of this)
-Piggyback rides. Generally, it’s the guy giving the girl one, but it’s quite often the other way around too
-Couple-bicycle rides, with the girl in the back leaning/holding onto the guy
-Beach scenes – there’s been at least one in, I believe, every single drama I’ve ever watched
-People getting drunk. This happens a LOT in Asian dramas, and includes everyone from the hero and heroine to minor characters
What to expect from Taiwanese dramas(with credit to uisceros at Livejournal):
1. Drinking/getting drunk (almost always the female lead)
3. The setting is Taipei
4. Bad boy/good girl
5. Rich boy/poor girl
6. Set in College (a lot of dramas are based on Japanese mangas, which are usually set in high school. The Taiwanese always set them in college instead)
7. A scene in which the girl accidentally falls/slips/faints in the shower/bath/sauna, so guy rushes in to save her upon hearing her scream and accidentally sees her naked.
Now that you know what Asian dramas are and a little of what you can expect from them, head over to the Drama Guide to start watching them!