by Benevolentia , October 31, 2020

Starter Kit: Korean

~ Part Four ~

A Starter Kit to get you kick-started on your K-drama Journey. To begin to start a whole new countries' drama database can be daunting, therefore I have made a starter kit just for you, to help you get started.

For the drama watchers out there that still haven't picked up K-dramas for some reason (perhaps you are only a Chinese, Japanese or Thailand Drama watcher like I once were), here is your chance to finally check out what the fuss is all about and join this club. 


Dramas For Beginners

Korean dramas will nearly always have a watch time of ~17hours, consisting of either 16 x 1hour 10min long episodes or 32 x 35 min long episodes.

Here are my recommendations if you are a newcomer to Korean drama. I did so according to different tropes and genres that I believe to be very beginner-friendly as a gateway to Korean dramas. 

Cross Dressing: 

Coffee Prince

Tags: Hidden Identity, Tomboy, Strong Female Lead, Rich Man/Poor Woman, Bromance, Hardworking Female Lead


Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

Tags: College Life, Friends To Lovers, Tomboy, Bantering Relationship, Male Chases Female First, Family, Sismance, Slow Burn Romance, Strong Female Lead

Thriller / Mystery:

Hello MonsterTags: Smart Male Lead, Investigation, Serial Killer, Secret, Criminal Profiler, Hidden Identity, Psychopath, Obsession, Female Chases Male First, Eccentric Male Lead


Tags: Housemates, Bromance, Funny Character, Single Parent, Friends To Lovers Cohabitation, Babysitting, Strong Friendship,

Thriller Romance: 


Tags: Double Identity, Hidden Identity, Strong Male Lead, Sassy Female Lead, Secret, Trauma, Badass Male Lead, Reporter, Hardworking Female Lead, Calm Male Lead


What's Wrong with Secretary Kim

Tags: Boss/Employee Relationship, Strong Female Lead, Rich Male Lead, Steamy Kiss, Office Romance, Arrogant Male Lead, Male Chases Female First, Calm Female Lead



Tags: Joseon Dynasty, Power Struggle, Corruption, Gore, Strong Male Lead, Nice Male Lead, Doctor, Death, King 

Historical Rom-Com / Cross-Dressing: 

The Tale of Nokdu


Know Your Actors

Get to know some great actors and actresses that have an amazing track record of always delivering on enjoyable stories and performances.


Know Your Basics: Language

In Korean dramas, they speak Korean, also known as Hangul.

The first confusion/surprise that I came across with Korean was that the Formal, Standard and Casual language. Korean culture/language has a big focus on respecting elders and formal manners. The speech form is based usually on your relationship with the person you are conversing with, or the setting/circumstance surround the conversation.

There are 3 basic speech forms:

- 격식체 (Honorific speech) is used when you speak to your superiors, customers, or strangers.

- 존댓말 (standard speech) is the common polite form that you can use at work or with someone you don’t know very well. 

- 반말 (Causal speech) is used among close friends, to somebody younger than you, or to children.

Here is an example for "Sorry" *often will change according to the tense, form and word.

Formal language will add the suffix:

- 합니다

- Hab Ni Da 

(written as "habnida" but read as "hamnida")

미안 합니다

Mi An Hab Ni Da 

(written as "Mian habnida" but read as "mianamnida" or "bianamnida" depending on the dialect)

Standard language will add the suffix:

- 요.

- Yo

 미안 해요

Mi An Hae Yo

(written as "Mian haeyo" but read as "mianeyo" or "bianeyo" depending on the dialect)

Causal language does not have any suffix 


 미안 해

Mi An Hae

(written as "Mian hae" but read as "miane" or "biane" depending on the dialect)

I found once I wrapped my head around these “forms”, I was able to understand many more jokes and jabs between the characters and in these stories.

Buzz Worlds

*Words that don't have English direct translation 

 “화이팅” Hwaiting!, could be translated as "Fighting!" and it's a word of support or encouragement.

“닭살” dalk-sal (read as "daksal"), literally means “chicken skin” and could be translated as "Goosebumps", it is a reaction to something cheesy.

“대박” Dae-bak (read as "debak"), means "jackpot / big win" or "awesome / great / terrific", can use be used to describe everything from a great party to a tasty meal.


Know Your Basics: Culture

Korean Delicacy 

A popular part of Korean Culture is their food and drinks, get familiar. :)

Tteokbokki *Spicy Rice Cakes

Jajangmyeon *Black bean Noodles

Korean BBQ

Soju *Korean Liquor

Finger Hearts

For Asians, throwing up hand gestures like finger hearts comes as naturally as a peace sign in the West. If you don't know what finger hearts are, I think you have been living under a rock. It's a prevalent part in Asian society.

Korean Censorships

Korean have censorship on tattoos, alcohol, cigarettes, weapons and nudity. They will be blurred, or cut out before the film can be released to the public.

*Check out this article for a Korean Censorship Guide.


Korea, like the other Asian cultures, will address people with “titles” instead of directly with names to add closeness. When addressing your seniors or mentors, they will be addressed as Seonbae, this adds respect. Commonly when meeting someone's parents or even the local corner store worker, they can be addressed as aunty, uncle, or depending on their age grandpa, grandma. 

Joseon Dynasty

Korean historical dramas will most likely take place in the Joseon Dynasty. The Joseon Dynasty ruled over a united Korean Peninsula for more than 500 years, from the fall of the Goryeo Dynasty in 1392 through the Japanese Occupation of 1910. During this period, there was strong societal pressure, any stray from the "norm" or act of defiance would result in punishment. Corruption was a common issue that would plague the royal palace. There was inequality, a strong contrast and discrimination from noblemen to peasants. In this period, Japan was a threat and their enemy, often evading Korea. It was a war. In 1910, the Joseon Dynasty fell, and Japan formally occupied the Korean Peninsula, of which it would further rule for 35 years.


Where to Watch Your Drama

Name a Korean Drama that you cannot find without English Subs. All if not, most of the Korean dramas released will have English Subtitles available. Nearly all can be found at either Netflix or Viki, the problem sometimes happens when: “Not Available in Your Country”, which is always an unfortunate message to see, but that is why we have VPN. :)


Quick Tips

  1. Monthly Subscription, especially if you are a stickler of legal streaming sites, and you're ready to start your journey of K-drama, I think it is worth it to get a subscription to Netflix at least (if you don't already) * Viki is free with ads.

  2. Suspend your disbelief, K-drama are great are teleporting you into another world, SO it can be very unrealistic.

  3. Bed Time: K-dramas are very addicting. One episode becomes five, and before you know it, it's 3 am, and you have to wake up in 4 hours for work/school!



If you are veteran to K-dramas:

  • How did your K-drama Journey start?

  • Do you have any tips for any Newcomers?

If you are a newcomer to K-dramas:

  • Are there any questions for us to settle any of your enquiries?


Thank You For Reading! Continue on your Drama Journey. 

BYE-BYE! ^.^

Edited by: Cookie (1st editor), Aya97 (2nd editor)