If you’re not up on your Asian languages, and aren’t quite sure whether the drama you’re watching is Korean, check first for the ubiquitous presence of food. If there aren’t at least 5 scenes involving food in a one-hour episode, it’s definitely NOT a Korean drama. Here are five more telltale signs:
1). Everybody cries. Men, women, children. Old and young. Heroes and villains. Cops and robbers. And they don’t just cry. They are racked with sobs when life deals them yet another unjust blow, or their eyes well as they confess a love that cannot be, or a single tear slides down their usually expressionless mask as they confront an abusive mentor.
2). Nobody texts. No matter how grave the crisis or imminent the deadline, the only action taken is to call someone’s cell phone over and over, always hanging up without leaving a message. So many tragedies could have been averted, if only they had texted!
3). If a loved one loses consciousness, gather around in a large crowd, and shout at them. There are many paths to unconsciousness in Korean drama:
- Hunger and fatigue due to working oneself to the bone for oblivious family members or unattainable lovers.
- Hypothermia due to brooding over upsetting news in extreme weather while grossly underdressed.
- Being brutally beaten by thugs.
- Erosion of fragile health due to multiple emotional shocks.
- Imminent death due to lingering (often hidden) disease.
- Imminent death due to assassin attack (mostly seen in sageuk).
- Car accident from speeding on winding roads in heavy rain at night.
- Hit and run (usually intentional).
But whatever the cause of the collapse, the remedy is always the same. Friends, co-workers, relations, and helpful bystanders surround the sufferer on all sides and scream “Wake up! Wake up!” Just what you need when your head is spinning.
4). Villains are people too. They have tragic backstories, flashes of honorability, even remorse. They only wanted to be loved. You can hardly ever hate them wholeheartedly (sigh).
5). Nobody calls the police. Are there police in Korea?? The exception is when someone is missing, in which case the police will track the location of the missing person’s cell phone, even if it’s only been a couple of hours, and give it out to anyone who calls them.
Apply these simple criteria, along with the food test, and you will soon become a pro at instantly recognizing Korean drama!
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