It's said that a telltale sign that you've become a true K-drama addict is when you try to drag your friends into it.
I know I'm guilty of this. And the friends I've zeroed in on first, are my fellow Jane Austen enthusiasts. As a fan of Austen, making comparisons to K-drama is unavoidable.
Seeing how the lady has been dead and buried for 200 years; many fans of her work are starved for more. Something new, that can give them a similar romance fix. I think that K-dramaland is the perfect place for them to look.
For the purposes of this article, I'm going to narrow down my talking points to the most obvious of all K-drama-Austen comparisons: "Pride and Prejudice" and "Boys Over Flowers"
First, we have the...
Handsome and rich jerk
Fabulous wardrobe and questionable hair. I'm sensing a common theme here.
In Korea these men are known as "chaebols". And if K-drama is anything to go by, the country's chock-full of them.
The chaebol, much like Mr. Darcy, is arrogant and prickly on the outside. While harboring a burning passion for our heroine on the inside.
- Mr. Darcy snubbed Lizzie at the ball. An unimaginable faux pas and breach of etiquette.
- Goo Joon Pyo posts a note in Jan Di's locker. Making her an outcast to the whole school.
- Mr. Darcy admires Lizzie for her beauty as well as her brains.
- Joon Pyo becomes fascinated with the first girl to ever stand up to him.
- Mr. Darcy, once he realizes he loves Lizzie, helps her and her family, in secret.
- Joon Pyo goes out and buys Jan Di's family a whole new suite of appliances.
So you see? Same same but different.
And then we have our...
Poor but plucky heroine
Elisabeth "Lizzie" Bennet and Geum Jan Di. Girlpower incarnate.
It's hard to imagine a woman with a more independent spirit and sharp intellect than Elisabeth Bennet. It's also hard to imagine a girl with more guts and can-do attitude than Geum Jan Di.
In K-drama, it seems, that
no matter how poor and clumsy our heroine is; a rich and handsome man
(or two!) will inevitable find her completely irresistible.
Luckily, for the most part, what our K-drama women also have - is a lot of heart and fighting spirit. Jan Di stands up for her friend, by roundhouse-kicking her bully, no less.
Both Lizzie and Jan Di could have taken the easy way out and latched themselves onto the first rich man they came across. It would have meant an easy, comfortable life for them and their families. Their refusal to do so, until their hearts are in it, is simply inspirational.
Moving on to the issue of...
Skinship & pacing
one scene, Mr. Darcy helps Lizzie into a carriage by holding her hand.
After letting her go he walks away, flexing his hand, as if though he's been burnt by the heat. This is the first time that their skin has touched. Touching, in 19th century England, was simply not done. Even when Darcy and Lizzie danced together earlier, they were wearing gloves. So this is big.
For various reasons, a chaste attitude towards
skinship still lives on, on Korean TV.
Even if the show is all about the romance... half of the show's episodes will often go by without so much as a peck between the two lovers. It's all about the build-up. Carefully inching towards that glorious moment when they come together.
Back hugs. Learn to love them. They are the Korean equivalent to second base.
In K-dramas, emotion is conveyed with words. And when there are no words, there are glances. Loooong, wet-eyed, longing glances. Everything can be said with a look.
Korean drama come in all shapes and sizes. All drama however, generally move its romantic plot along at a slow and savory pace.
If your Austen-loving friend sneers at American RomComs because they, with their instant-gratification method, lack emotion and meaning... K-drama may be the answer for them.
The Koreans excel at setting the scene in such a way that even something small, like the two lover's fingers touching, can be deeply meaningful and emotional.
Etiquette & ritual
The bow. When to do it. To whom and how deep. Very important, in both England and Korea.
In 19th century England, etiquette and social conventions determined how people interacted with one another in intricate and deeply hierarchical ways.
In 21st century Korea, some of this still survives. There are rules to determine everything from how to address each other to how to share a drink together. How to pour, how to hold your glass, who should pick up the tab and who should piggyback who when (not if) they get too drunk to walk home.
There is so much going on, under the surface of the quiet and ceremonial manners of an Austen novel. It's the same thing in K-drama. The more you know about these rules and rituals, the more powerful it gets when a person defies them.
could continue the comparison by bringing up evil and manipulative
women in power positions, or meddling parents. But honestly... when was
that ever a plus?
When did you ever say "Boy, I sure do like that Catherine DeBourgh/evil mother." or "You know... all this needs is a cringe worthy family who will shamelessly throw themselves at the rich potential son-in-law."
No. We'd better steer clear of that. Let's keep our eyes on the prize, people!
We want to persuade our friend to join us. Not run away screaming.
Because of this, as my last point, I'd instead like to say this:
If all else fails... if appealing to their intellect and emotions didn't convince them to try K-drama: Go for the big guns.
Sure, it's childish and shallow. But they work, don't they?
In the privacy of our own living rooms where no one can hear, or judge, our fangirl/fanboy squealing... they work.
Everyone remembers the scene in the 1995 miniseries version of "Pride and Prejudice", when Colin Firth jumped in the lake. I know I wasn't alone in pausing, rewinding and watched it, over and over again, on repeat.
But your friend should trust us when we say that this is NOTHING compared to the endless parade of gratuitous shower scenes that pop up in every... single... drama.
If seeing hot men wet is your cup of tea, then K-drama's got you covered.
And then some.
Did you ever manage to convert a friend and make them a drama addict?
What show got them hooked? Let me know in the comments!