Occidentalism
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Korean Vs. U.S. Soaps

January 10th, 2007 . by Darin

While this is more colloquial then most stuff we talk about here, the Digital Chosunilbo has an interesting (at least it was for me) article comparing American and Korean Dramas.

Devotees of U.S. soap operas are increasingly voting with their feet, watching them not only on cable or satellite TV channels but engaging in such illegal activities like posting episodes of popular dramas with Korean subtitles online just a few hours after they are broadcast in the U.S. Pundits say as their number explodes, the viewer ratings of Korean dramas are shrinking. More than 1.5 million such fans are estimated to be out there online, more than three times the number three years ago. The cable channel OCN posted two or three times higher viewer ratings than usual on its “CSI Days” in June and October, when it aired seasons of the U.S. crime drama “CSI” 24 hours.

Why do people love U.S. soaps so much? It is mainly because they offer something different from the familiar fare of domestically produced dramas. The Chosun Ilbo asked translators of subtitles of U.S. dramas to compare shows produced in the two countries.

Although I’ve seen plenty of Korean movies, I’ve never been much of Drama watcher no matter what the country of origin.  A long time ago the Marmot posted a video of Bobby Lee on MadTV showing America what this ‘Korean Wave’ boom was all about.  The video was hillarious, but unfortunelty it didn’t show the Korean Drama’s in a good light at all.  I’ve still yet to see any.

So that’s why I liked this article.  As I said, I’ve never been a fan of any type of Drama, but a few months ago when I was back home I saw an episode of Nip/Tuck, and it was awesome.  Recently I upgraded my internet service and now I have digital cable; which comes with Fox.  Every night at midnight I’m watching that show.   So if I like Nip/Tuck, will I be able to find an equally enjoyable Korean Drama?

Well, since I don’t really like romance soap operas or see threw secrets, I may not be finding a Korean Drama that’s been made just for me any time soon.  But Just like Bobby Lee on MadTV, Korean Dramas were nothing but a joke in Japan a few short years ago.  While the drama’s don’t appear to have changed, the public’s attitude to them has, (however it seems it’s changed yet again as the tide has gone out) so maybe mine will too.

No article about Korean Dramas can be complete without mentioning…

Incurable Disease: U.S. dramas deal with incurable diseases but only as incidental in such medical dramas as “House” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” In Korean dramas, however, incurable diseases like cancer and leukemia and memory loss play a critical role in moving the drama along. U.S. dramas rely more on clockwork plots than affliction.


17 Responses to “Korean Vs. U.S. Soaps”

  1. comment number 1 by: GarlicBreath

    uh oh… you talked about Korea with out words of worship. I predict that the Krazy Kyopo Klub (KKK) will be out yelling racist at anybody who dares not to worship Korean soaps. Darin’s edit: Was that really necessary?

    That being said, I do have a few comments. First is that Korea just copied Japanese soaps for years and because Korea had a ban on Japanese TV shows, until about a year ago, Koreans didn’t know about it.

    For me, I never watch Korean soaps becuase they are strange, pointless and mostly the same show over and over. Its like they copied a few good ideas and made some money and fired all the writers.

    Its just my humble opinion.

    (WJK and Kyopo Klub, go ahead and start howling racism now)

  2. comment number 2 by: Darin

    Well, you sure showed them now didn’t you. Got that out of your system?

    Generally it’s good practice to wait until someone actually does something before you retaliate; if you strike first it’s not retaliation, but instigation. Not that simple retaliation is a good thing either…

  3. comment number 3 by: Ocebey

    That’s what bushists in America call a rightfull preventive attack 🙂
    Thanks to GarlicBreath any idiot can now retaliate and blame him.

    On the overall there are no country on this planet that produces good soap like americans (with the exception of one english production one in a while). Japaneses Dramas are barely seeable and Korean ones actually almost never atain this barely seeable level.
    Now that there is more competition maybe every country will make more efforts to produce something good not just for movies but also for soap. Hoping to survive on his own domestic soil will soon cut it no more.

  4. comment number 4 by: uhoooooo

    Korean dramas are all comedies;
    it’s good to giggle and roll my belly when I’m in blue, thinking why the people in TV are so serious and act like blockheads.
    Maybe the makers including playwriters and producers are also all asses, with the Korean watching asses.

  5. comment number 5 by: wjk

    ha ha ha ha

  6. comment number 6 by: Errol

    U.S. dramas deal with incurable diseases but only as incidental in such medical dramas as “House” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

    This si where the journalist’s lack of knowledge of other cultures hurts him.or her.

    “House” and “Grey’s Anatomy” are prime-time dramas. Korean soap operas should be compared against their natural progenitors “Days of Our Lives” and “The Young and the Restless” which have much more in common: interminable storlines, intertwined families, improbable medical recoveries and unrequited love.

  7. comment number 7 by: eli

    Japanese dramas are underrated. They can be formulaic but occasionally you get a good one, and because they’re only 10-12 episodes they are less likely to wear out their welcome. American dramas are extended well past the freshness date, usually long after they’ve jumped the shark.

  8. comment number 8 by: maximus

    US soap operas (like Days of our lives) are terrible. I agree on the prime-time dramas, it’s difficult to beat US.

    Brazil has outstanding soap operas, exported to all over the world.

  9. comment number 9 by: koreanmaster

    So which anti-korean point of view do you want to express with this article? you ridiculous australian? that korean dramas are shit? then why are japanese housewifes watching them? maybe you should just shut your page down and hunt some kangaroos.

  10. comment number 10 by: Darin

    Actually I don’t have any anti-korean point of view that I’m trying to express in this article. Until recently, I never had an interest in Drama’s, be they American, Japanese, or Korean. But I’ve started watching American drama’s, and just then I saw an article that compares American one’s to Korean one’s, so it caught my attention.

    If you had the common sense to pay some attention, you’d notice that Matt did not write this article, but I (Darin) did. I’m American, so there are no kangaroos around to hunt. However if you h ad common sense, your entire comment above wouldn’t have been written, so I imagine that’s asking too much.

    Good job of making GarlicBreath’s outburst valid with an equally amazing outburst of your own btw 😛

  11. comment number 11 by: koreanmaster

    you call it an outburst?

    It just criticizes that this report is SENSELESS as you are not interested in dramas. So why are you comparing US with korean dramas, when you don`t know anything about korean dramas?

  12. comment number 12 by: Darin

    You’re correct, I know nothing about Korean dramas. But I’m also not comparing them either, I’m reading an article written by someone who does know (or at least claims) about Korean dramas, who then compares them to American dramas, and then I am summarizing said article. Furthermore, in accordance with the information given in the article, based on my personal opinions at this point I’ve determined that Korean dramas aren’t for me. However, as I said in the post, “maybe [my thoughts on Korean Dramas] will [change] too.”

    And yes, I do call your post an outburst. You’re perfectly welcome to make outbursts as long as they aren’t too extreme, but be warned that people will respond to your comments such as I have. (Also, since you’re new, it’s pretty much impossible for you to know what the limits are, so you’ll get more lax treatment than others at first, but even so their is a line that can easily be crossed…. Enjoy.)

  13. comment number 13 by: koreanmaster

    The whole site here seems to be anti-korean as you can read in tha FAQ. So I assume that this “report” is hidden anti-korean.
    BTW if you knew about korean dramas and the korean wave, you would know that they “conquered” asia and even japan and know the producers try to gain ground on US territory. Maybe you heard aout “Dae-Jang-Geum” whích was already partially successful in the US.

  14. comment number 14 by: Darin

    It’s hidden so well, I didn’t even notice when I wrote it. 😉

    You’re correct as I’ve said many times, I do not know much about Korean Dramas. That’s why I read an article by a professional about them. Based on the information given in the article, they didn’t seem to be geared towards someone such as myself.

    The American drama that got me watching dramas was Nip Tuck. Have you heard of it? If you know it, perhaps you can recommend a Korean drama similar in style for me, and I’ll take a look.

    What’s “Dae-Jang-Geum” about? You say it’s pretty good huh? Maybe I’ll have to check that one out too.

  15. comment number 15 by: koreanmaster

    I don`t know Nip Tuck as i don`t live in the US.
    Dae-Jang-Geum is about korean history, dated in Chosun dynasty.
    I don`tlike it very much, but that is what foreigners are interested in.

    Korean dramas are more emotional than us soaps.
    No fun, action.

  16. comment number 16 by: Darin

    Chosun dynasty history huh? Sounds interesting. Do you know a place where I can by the DVD’s with English subtitles? I don’t speak Korean, so I’ll need subtitles.

    See, I’m not a very emotional guy in terms of the type of emotions that come out in dramas, so as I said in the original post based on the same information that was given in the article, Korean dramas are probably not for me.

    Thanks for you help and recommending a drama to check out; you sure are a good debater, and if you have any more recommended dramas for me, post ’em in this thread and I’ll check them out .

  17. comment number 17 by: koreanmaster

    try http://www.annyoung.com