Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Beauty of Long Dramas

We all know that the typical Kdrama wraps up in the seemingly perfect 16-episode arch, with maybe a few extra episodes thrown in there if the drama does well or a few less if they're looking for a more compact story. But what about those long dramas? They've also been called daily dramas or family dramas. The ones with 30 episodes? 50 episodes? Or More?!?  Where do they fit in the Kdrama world? Many of you out there have been avoiding them due to their length, but my question to you is why?  Of those I've spoken with, the majority have never even tried watching one and therefore don't truly know whether they like them or not.  Well, I'm here to weigh in with my opinion and that is that those long dramas often end up being some of my favorite dramas. They are, in my opinion, some of the best dramas out there.  I'll start by listing a few things that are great about these lengthy dramas and wrap up with a few of my personal recommendations.

Things That Are Great About Long Dramas

1) Killer Character Development
One of the things that Kdramas have going for them is the character development - the way a cocky rich jerk can turn into the most caring man in the world for the woman he loves. The way the meeky and mousy assistant can learn to become bold and flashy.  Now double or triple the amount of time these characters have to develop and you end up with characters who have run the gamut of trials of life and have come through the other side as kings and queens of character. 

2) Strong, Beautiful Romances
It's hard to fit the entirety of a true romance into only 16 episodes.  Often we see only the beginning stages and don't often get a good feel for what the future holds. With lengthy Kdramas, we get to see the entire scope of our leads' romance, not just a part of it. Lots of times with these lengthy dramas, they'll even be interested in other people at the start. We get to watch their hearts turn, watch them fall in love and the best part about length Kdramas is that almost always is marriage AND at least 1 baby. We know what the future holds for our leads just as we've been through all the ups and downs of their past with them.  Not that it doesn't happen in the shorter dramas, it definitely does, but there's a greater likelihood in the longer dramas.

3) Lots of Great Characters and Multiple Storylines
If you're going to be a secondary character in a Kdrama, be a secondary character in a long Kdrama because likely you'll get the same amount of attention as the lead in a typical Kdrama.  Most of the time, these dramas focus around a family. So not only do we get to see the development and the romance of our main characters, but there's probably an entirely different plot going on with their siblings that just as rewarding.  Just like with the leads, we get to see them go through ups and downs, become better people, and fall in love and get married.  Honestly, watching a long Kdrama is like watching 3 different shorter Kdramas at the same time that all intersect. It's great.

4) Awesome Resolutions
This is probably one of my favorite things about long Kdramas, but it also incorporates the previous three items on the list. I've often talked about how an important deciding factor to how much I like a drama lies in the resolution. Are there any loose ends? Do we have a sense of what's going to happen next for our characters? The more resolution, the more I tend to love a drama. With the longer Kdramas, they've had so much time to develop this storyline and the character arcs, that by the time the end comes it's hard to find anything that hasn't been resolved. Usually every character has a happy ending, every conflict is water under the bridge, and only bright skies lie ahead.

Of course with each of these factors comes exceptions and I'm sure there is a longer drama that I do not love. And I know there are a few that don't have one of the factors from the above list, but generally most of the long drams I've seen have them all.

So now that I've laid my case as to why they're great, let me give you my favorite long dramas from shortest to longest.

1) Baker Kim Tak Gu - 30 Episodes
This is the shortest one on my list and probably the most popular. Now if that has something to do with the fact that it falls on the shorter scale of long Kdramas or the fact that its just an awesome drama I'm not sure. The plot focuses on a boy who was shunned by his father and saw his mother being kidnapped and spends all of his adolescence on his own searching for her. He ends up at a bakery where he becomes an apprentice due to his amazing sense of smell, which allows him to be a baking savant. But this bakery also happens to be the epicenter of the lives of many of his past acquaintances and all the past mysteries and dramas in his life begin to unravel.

Everyone I've known who has seen this drama is obsessed with it. The plot is just so good and the main character, played by Yoon Shi Yoon, is so captivating. Not to give away any spoilers, but there are some things about this drama that make it very unique so in some ways it does break some of the factors listed above, but one could argue that it doesn't as well. Either way, you should definitely watch it.

2) Creating Destiny - 31 Episodes
With just one episode more than Tak Gu, Creating Destiny is on the shorter scale of Kdramas too.  This was one of the first Kdramas that I watched and as soon as I finished it I declared it my "favorite Kdrama" and it stayed that way for quite awhile until I realized I had so many favorites. The story follows two young adults whose families had wanted them to get engaged as kids and now that they've reunited as adults, haven't let go of that wish. But feelings change on all sides as these two get to know each other and each family realizes what they're getting into.

The chemistry between the leads is so sweet and realistic, probably because it actually was real.  The actors started dating in real life and ended up getting married. Eugene plays the female lead and I think she is just so adorable that I love watching her in almost every drama I've seen her in. She's a female lead that stands up for herself, but doesn't unnecessarily walk over others either. Lots of great side characters and family relationships to keep you entertained and to keep your heart warmed.

3) Smile, You - 45 Episodes
This was the first really long drama that I watched and I loved every minute of it. The plot focuses around a rich family that loses everything and ends up moving in with the family of the man who had been there driver for years. They are humbled and have to learn to create lives for themselves out of nothing and adjust to the very strict way of life the driver and his family have employed to make ends meet.

I was interested in this drama when I saw that Lee Min Jung was the female lead. I was still a little bitter towards her for being an obstacle to the true love between Jan Di and Jung Pyo in BOF, but she absolutely shone in this drama and it turned her into one of my favorite actresses. The romance between the leads in this drama is really one that you can root for.

4)  Wonderful Mama- 48 Episodes
This drama has a great cast of characters that all work so well together. What's interesting is that many of the main actors in this drama are typically typecast as villains in other dramas, but here they more than prove their worth as leads. The drama centers around a wealthy mother who learns she has alzheimers and is worried her spoiled adult children won't last once she's gone. So she cons them into believing all their money is gone so they have to learn how to make it on their own and become real people in the process.

The concept is great, right? And the cast just works so well together. It's great because these characters just seem so spoiled rotten, but you quickly realize that they do have hearts of gold and they just need some refining. I love, love, love the romance. Can't put my finger on why but I just believe in it and can't help but rooting for them through any circumstance.


Okay, so there you have it. There's my PSA on why you should all be watching more long Kdramas. Please take my advice under consideration and maybe watch one or two.  Even if you don't like them, at least you'll know for sure, right?

Haha. Anyway, as always don't be a stranger, be a friend.

















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