If you haven't tried watching South Korean Dramas, then you definitely should. KDramas will always give you the feels. Whether it's cheesy romance you seek, hardcore drama, or playful comedy, then KDrama is the one you're looking for. Plus KDrama soundtracks are always a killer! Even for people who don't speak Korean.
For starters, what sets KDrama apart from western TV is that they have distinctive styles that absolutely spit out South Korean culture. Well technically, all TV series have that little touch of culture, but once you see a KDrama, you'll know it's KDrama. To explain it further, here are some KDramas based from western classic stories. You be the judge.
Surplus Princess/The Idle Mermaid (Twist to The Little Mermaid)
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Aired: August 7, 2014 - October 9, 2014
Just like the tale The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, Princess Aileen (Jo Bo-ah), the 18th mermaid princess of the mermaid kingdom, dreams of becoming human to be with Kwon Shi-kyung (Song Jae-rim), a famous chef, whom she believes is her true love. There's only one huge factor that greatly separates this KDrama from the original tale: the little mermaid is tech savvy (goodbye, dinglehopper. This mermaid knows everything.). All the modern gadgets and gizmos that fall in the sea are made waterproof. Quoting from the series, 'wherever the WiFi goes, Aileen goes'. She instantly became infatuated with Kwon Shi-kyung through a smartphone, and keeps up with the trends and everything about Kwon Shi-kyung. One day, while recording a show near the Han River, Kwon Shi-kyung accidentally falls in, mistaking Aileen's tail for a giant tuna. Aileen saves him from drowning by kissing him underwater.
Having met Kwon Shi-kyung once, Aileen then meets with Ahn Ma-nyeo (Ahn Gil-kang), a sea witch and a former merman to ask for the potion to become human so she can meet Kwon Shi-kyung again. Unlike the cruel sea witch, Ahn Ma-nyeo prevents Princess Aileen from becoming human; aware of the consequence of death if she does not find true love in 100 days. However, the princess' strong will to becoming human makes her do so. As a human, she lives by the name Kim Ha-ni, with Ahn Ma-nyeo acting as her uncle and protector. Ahn Ma-nyeo puts Kim Ha-ni in a shared house where she would live with unemployed people while trying to get with Kwon Shi-kyung. She learns a lot about the human world and its culture, and forms friendships who would then help her in her mission to be with her true love. Little does she know, her true love is closer than she thinks.
Surplus Princess is a comedic take on The Little Mermaid. If it's a modern fairy tale you're searching for, then Surplus Princess is the KDrama for you (watch out for those Disney's The Little Mermaid bits!).
Pinocchio (Twist to Pinocchio)
Genre: Romance, Drama, Comedy, Family
Aired: November 12, 2014 - January 15, 2015
We all know pretty much who Pinocchio is. Well in this KDrama, Pinocchio is neither a puppet or a real boy; it's not exactly a twist of the original tale, but the concept of not being able to hide a lie is consistent throughout the whole series. In this case, Pinocchio is a syndrome that causes a person who has it to hiccup whenever he/she tells a lie.
The story revolves around Ki Ha-myung/Choi Dal-po (Lee Jong-suk) and Choi In-ha (who was Pinocchio Syndrome, portrayed by Park Shin-hye) and their life as news reporters. Despite being in different networks and treating each other as family members, the two fight for their love and for news that only tells the truth.
Quick backstory: As a child, Ki Ha-myung was intellectually gifted. He grew up with his firefighter father, mother, and brother. Unfortunately, his family was destroyed by the media. Ki Ha-myung's father, the leader of the firefighting team, was held responsible by the media for the deaths of his men at a fire incident. The media's persuasive reporting, specifically reporter Song Cha-ok's (who turns out to be Choi In-ha's mother, portayed by Jin Kyung) report, made Ki Ha-myung's father appear to be a murderer, leading Ki Ha-myung to develop hatred towards news reporters. The effects of news reporters' believable stories cost the family their reputation; and with all the unpleasant events, Ki Ha-myung's mother decided to end everything in the sea with Ki Ha-myung.
A few months later, Ki Ha-myung appears to have been saved from his mother's suicide attempt. Turns out, he was saved by Choi Gong-pil (Byun Hee-bong) who is actually Choi In-ha's grandfather. At this time, Choi Gong-pil has a mental illness and believes that Ki Ha-myung (who he fished out of the sea) is his son Choi Dal-po who died 30 years ago. In order to prevent his illness from worsening, Ki Ha-myung, Choi In-ha, and Choi Dal-pyung (In-ha's father, portrayed by Shin Jung-geun) agreed that Ki Ha-myung may continue to live as Choi Dal-po. From there on, the Choi family knows only Ki Ha-myung as Choi Dal-po, and that Choi Dal-po and Choi In-ha are uncle and niece (even though they are of same age).
If you're a fan of unexpected twist of events, then you should definitely see Pinocchio.
Warm and Cozy (Twist to The Great Gatsby)
Hangul: 맨도롱 또똣
Romanization: Maendorong Ttottot
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Drama
Aired: May 13, 2015 - July 2, 2015
"Warm and Cozy", with original title, "Jeju Island Gatsby", is a rom-com TV series starring Yoo Yeon Sook and Kang So Ra. It was written by the Hong Sisters as a twist to The Ant and the Grasshopper; however, it can't be denied that the series is somewhat a lighter version of The Great Gatsby. The story revolves around two city dwellers; a laid back wealthy man Baek Gun-woo (Yoo Yeon-sook) and hardworking Lee Jung-joo (Kang So-ra), who fly to Jeju Island to start a new life. Despite their differences and clashing personalities, they eventually fall in love with each other.
So where's The Great Gatsby twist? Well the answer to that is so obvious--where else would it be other than the love story?
Baek Gun-woo is in love with his childhood sweetheart Mok Ji-won. Unfortunately, Mok Ji-won can only love a man who can satisfy her materialistic desires; and although Baek gun-woo comes from a wealthy family, his wealth is controlled by his older siblings as a way of disciplining him against spending such wealth. The restaurant, "Warm and Cozy" is the proof of Baek Gun-woo's love for Mok Ji-won; he had the restaurant built in Jeju Island (where they first met) in hopes that one day she'll come back and return his feelings.
There's the whole Great Gatsby love story down, but the story doesn't end there (plus Lee Jung-joo has yet to enter the story). Warm and Cozy has a darker side to it, and that pretty much ties the whole story together. You'd just have to watch it to find out! Trust me, if you love The Great Gatsby, then you'll love Warm and Cozy.
If you're in for something new, try watching these KDramas--most especially if you're really into western TV series; you'd clearly see the difference. Not only will KDramas satisfy your emotional cravings (and turn you into a KDrama fan), they would also give you a glimpse of South Korean culture. After all, the best way to learn about South Korea is to see everything in their perspective.