Cultivating an Addiction

 Cultivating an Addiction  
     Many drama addicts try in vain to bring friends and family into the fold.  These shows and movies are awesome, why do others have trouble seeing it?  My immediate love of drama was made possible by a lifelong adoration of anime and movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Kung Fu Hustle. If you're like me though most of the people you're trying to convert have had little exposure to Asian entertainment, whether it be manga, anime or drama. If you truly want converts you have to foster an appreciation for the Asian style of entertainment.  Start with movies. A movie isn't a big commitment. It's easier to get someone to agree to sit and watch a two hour movie than a twenty hour drama.

http://media.mydramalist.com/cache/bbe/224538572900904878_c12f3420_f.jpg                               Only in drama land does the ghetto have such a lovely view.
Penny Pinchers - Funny is funny in any language and Penny Pinchers is funny. It's well done and  contains possibly my favorite "date on a budget" ever.  This will appeal to fans of No Strings Attached and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

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 JJ!OMG IT'S JJ!!!!  ahem, I mean... This is a spectacular film.
Heaven's Postman -A beautifully shot and acted romance, Heaven's Postman has a wonderful premise and will appeal to people who are fans of movies like The Time Travelers Wife or The Notebook, only it's got JJ in it so it's better!


                                                http://media.mydramalist.com/cache/bbe/224544849757658322_93d07199_m.jpg
See, Beanie Magic.
Yuuki -  I don’t like movies that are going to make me cry the whole time, but some people do and one of the best Asian tearjerkers is  Yukki. If your potential convert liked My sister's Keeper or Sweet November, they'll  probably like Yuuki.

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Is he brandishing a razor? Boss.
71: Into the Fire - Think, Saving Private Ryan and We Were Soldiers. This story about student soldiers at the beginning of the Korean war is said to have a very realistic feel. War is something that crosses all countries so there isn't a big cultural barrier here. 


http://media.mydramalist.com/cache/bbe/224551126614411766_c916977f_f.jpg 
I'd totally go back to the looney bin if Rain was there.


I'm a Cyborg But That's Ok -  Benny and Joon or Edward Scissor Hands are the western films that come to mind when I think of this movie starring Rain. Very well acted and certainly not your usual day at the movies, this is sure to get anyone's attention.

Once you get your beginner on the hook you can move on to dramas. The world of dramas is vast and the most important thing is to know your audience and present them with shows they are most likely to enjoy, but first there are a few things to keep in mind when suggesting dramas to a noob.

                                                       Things to Avoid
                http://media.mydramalist.com/cache/bbe/224554265042788488_8f72cea3_f.jpg
You have to work up to this intense level of cute.
1. ANYTHING in mandarin. Put down the rocks people! Give me a minute to explain! Some of my favorite shows are T-dramas, but if Fated To Love You had been my first experience with Asian entertainment, I probably would not have come back for more. Even the best T-dramas are rife with over acting and soap-opera-esque plots.  You have to be in the drama world for a while to realize that it's not that the production teams can't put forth a more realistic story with more realistic performances, it's that they don’t want to! For those of us who love drama that's part of the charm of T-dramas, but you don’t push someone who can't swim into the deep end, you give em floaties first.

http://media.mydramalist.com/cache/bbe/224573095613048820_9722a65c_f.jpg

Don't be fooled by the cute.  All they did in this drama was eat, clean and YELL.


2. Avoid dramas where there is a lot of spirited arguing. In dramas like Can We Get Married  and the original Full House where there is a lot of yelling between characters the subtitles can go by really fast and someone who isn't used to subtitles and doesn't know the language at all might have a hard time keeping up.

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                                                         She did huh now?

3. Stay away from dramas that rely heavily on stereotypical Asian plot devices. "What is she talking about? They're ALL Asian! How can we avoid it?" you ask. There are some dramas that really only make sense if you're Asian or have an understanding of how the culture is presented through entertainment. In dramas like Creating Destiny new comers may be left baffled as to why these adults don’t just tell their parents "NO!" Why someone would need to pretend to be a boy might also be lost on noobs. "How can you sell someone's house or register their marriage without their permission  and WHERE is that kid's parents?" are question you want to avoid until your potential convert has a taste for the drama juice. 

Below is a list of Dramas that I find most suitable for a novice. Now this is NOT City's list of the greatest dramas of all time,  nor is it the rosetta stone of trying to get your room mate into drama. This is just my opinion.

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If one of these dorks doesn't remind you of yourself in high school, then you were no fun.
1. Dramas like Reply 1997 and Nobuta Wo Produce are built around universal themes that will be easily accessible even to someone who has never so much as watched Pokémon. 

http://static.mydramalist.com/i/45/45093cee7921a4758af120d725b08303.jpg                                      

I see your Robin Hood and raise you Hong Gil Dong
     Show them Asian drama isn't so different. Dramas like Hong Gil Dong and The Princess' Man resemble the most familiar and beloved stories of the west. Exploit that!
                                             http://media.mydramalist.com/cache/bbe/224585649326555708_7aff6a87_f.jpg                                                    Pretty people never hurt your case.

3.  Be mindful of production value. If something looks like crap or the costumes are really bad or you can't find good subs, no one who isn't into drama is going to want watch it, even if it's awesome. Protect the Boss and Rich Man, Poor Woman have the kind of professional polish you're going for.      

Follow these tips and you stand a good chance of watching your next Dramathon with a friend and not all by yourself!

Comments (76)

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  • Reply
    rainruma Aug 25, 2014

    Great idea for an article .....You made some very good points.....
    But somehow , when I wonder why I and many others have become addicted to Asian dramas , I think it is because they still have Idealized Values...
    For example : The good guys always win.... the bad guys always get punished..... there are Strong Family Values .... also...they put a very strong value on Friendship and Loyalty .... and Idealized Romantic Love is still more important than sexual gratification .... ..... ......

    .....These things, I believe , have a very nice "Feel-Good" effect .... they create an idealized fantasy world to escape into .... I am certain , that world does not exist , not even in Asia.

    I would love to hear what others think of my analysis ... I wonder if I am correct in my assumptions. !?!?

    my road to Asian drama addiction : searching for more Idealized romances , a-la "Pride & Prejudice", on Netflix ...--->>> "Hwang Jin-Yi" --->>> "A Moment to Remember" --->>> "The Man from Nowhere" ---->>> "Slave Hunters" ---->>> Jang Hyuk addiction ---- K-addiction ....... ........ ....... (not many happy endings above , but lots of feel-good moments in between ....like : unbelievable love/loyalty among friends , loyalty to a neighbor, an epic love-story , sacrifice for justice, etc.... all those idealized values) ! ...does anyone agree ?

  • Reply
    IvyTorres Aug 2, 2014

    Really? I thought Coffee Prince would be up there in getting a friend to get into drama! It was so good! It was one of the first dramas I actually completed! I first watched You're Beautiful and fell in love with it and finished it. Then I started on My Girlfriend is a Gumiho which I also fell in love with but for some reason I just haven't gotten around to finishing yet and then I tried Boys Over Flowers which I HATED. Sorry, I don't know why I just could never get into it. I love Lee Min Ho but I hated his character and I wanted to smack the main girl. I want to try the Japanese version and then maybe get back around to the Korean one but for right no that drama is a big NO.

    Anyways, just as I was finding myself becoming completely disinterested in dramas I came across Coffee Prince and FELL IN LOVE. It's one of my favorite dramas EVER even now that my list has increased a bit.

    In my opinion, I think it would be a good start with Coffee Prince but then again... my friends thought I would love Boys Over Flowers and I still cringe when I hear the name.

    Dramas I think would really get someone into dramas: You're Beautiful (just because it's my first), Coffee Prince, City Hunter, and Hana Kimi.

    (Yes, three of them are gender benders- now a cliche. But hey, they're GOOD gender benders and show why the genre is so popular now!)

  • Reply
    DirtyTeddy Jul 11, 2014

    For my room mate, I started with hardcore japanese dramas : Switch Girl and Hana Kimi. I think that the crazyness level of these dramas (mostly Switch Girl) is universal. Then, because I wanted her to have a taste in Korean Dramas as well, I decided to show her dramas with badass and successful woman lead, such as "I do I do", or just less cliché interactions like in "I need romance 2". But I agree with Reply 1997 : this drama is universal.

  • Reply
    misaki_mei Oct 31, 2013

    i started watching kdramas bcuz of heartstrings...

  • Reply
    Juniko May 16, 2013

    Loved that artcle ! Definitely going to use it on my mother. We started with Smile, then Nodame Cantabile, then I made a mistake with B. Virus and Faith (she dropped both), but now we're back on tracks with King2Hearts

    • Reply
      cityhunter83 May 21, 2013

      i tried watched BV when i first got into dramas, b/c i liked MSOAN and YB. it is just a downer.

    • Reply
      Juniko May 21, 2013

      Same here. My mom loved Nodame, so I wanted to give her a kdrama about classical music, but I really shouldn't have...

  • Reply
    sakuraKhey Jan 16, 2013

    I always recommend My lovely Samsoon or Nodame Cantabile depending on the personality of the person.

  • Reply
    addylovesbwood Jan 9, 2013

    i have a kdrama starter kit note on facebook I think these are great Kdramas for newbies... Your first drama should be one that stands out. Boys over Flowers was what got me into Kdramas.
    1. Boys over flowers
    2. Moon Embraces the Sun / Princess's Man
    3. 49 Days
    4. Miss Ripley
    5. Can You Hear My Heart

    • Reply
      LibradaJ Jan 10, 2013

      So, just flower boy dramas?

    • Reply
      addylovesbwood Jan 10, 2013

      yes/no!! I don't think 49days and Princess man are flowerboy dramas... but honestly, I do need some sortof eyecandy... it just makes the drama easier to watch :)

  • Reply
    tomatipasta Jan 8, 2013

    i got myself hooked with lee min ho, one of my friends with jang geun suk and my sister with matsujun and lee hong ki, so don't ever forget the eyecandy because this is indeed the most powerful weapon

    • Reply
      anglachelle Jan 9, 2013

      I agree. I got to dramas because of Lee Jun Ki :-)

    • Reply
      Juniko May 16, 2013

      It was Matsujun for me

  • Reply
    LibradaJ Jan 7, 2013

    You forgot to mention anything about OSTs. They definitely play a large role in shows. My first KDrama was Personal Taste. Was not the best story but I LOVED the OST.

    Also, flower boys who can't act should also be one to avoid. I would list names but I don't need rabid fangirls attacking me. LOL

    • Reply
      TheTurbulentKnight Jan 8, 2013

      Same here, I started my first drama PT after listening its tracks on YT and I also have some names in Blacklist which I'm afraid to publish :P

    • Reply
      shallamar Jan 10, 2013

      Personal Taste was my first k-drama too. I always watched fanmade mvs with osts, and finally decided to watch PT first. So I agrree that OSTs do help!

  • Reply
    FullDex Jan 7, 2013

    I know what worked for me was 49 Days. It's what got my friend from watching only J-Dramas to any drama and my mother into dramas as well. With my mother, we were both home sick one day and she was reading so I popped it in. Around the middle of episode 2 I realized she wasn't interested in her book anymore. We finished the show in 2 days. Then she re-watched it 3 times, and I couldn't take it anymore, so I popped in Secret Garden for her which is now her favorite. I've created a monster and she keeps bugging me to show her new shows. She's currently on Sungkyunkwan Scandal.

    I have another friend who my friend and I have been trying to get her to watch one, and I'm thinking 49 Days might work for her as well.

  • Reply
    Moko Jan 7, 2013

    THIS post is awesome. Thank you. I might even try^^
    Though I think using Coffe Prince as referring to kdrama tropes is confusing. I didn't know that Coffee Prince used a cliche, so I thought is was fresh and different....until I found out. Still stuff like Hong Gil Dong (I love Robin Hood) made me watch korean dramas. You made definetly wise choices!

    • Reply
      cityhunter83 Jan 8, 2013

      it's not so much that coffee prince is cliche. in Coffee Prince, as in all gener benders, the writers present you with what is supposed to be a "reasonable" motivation for the leading lady to be lying to those around her. they do this so you sympathize with her. in Coffee Prince, the reason given is that she needs to pretend to be a guy to get and keep her job. even before the Coffee shop, it is implied that it's easier for her to work when people assume she's a guy. Most western people who dont know alot about Korean culture arent likely to understand how much easier it is for Eun Chan if she's a guy, b/c they have lived in a relatively equal society. it can be difficult to wrap your brain around a concept so foriegn, so it maybe best to leave those sorts of dramas for later.

  • Reply
    twistedangel1624 Jan 7, 2013

    I got my own mother into dramas :) lol it wasn't that hard, all I had to do was put on a funny romance drama and she and I would try to watch and finish the whole drama that same night even if it was past 1 or so in the morning XD I'm trying to get my best friend into dramas but she has yet to watch them yet so I'm hoping that there is one on the list that I gave her to watch that will spark an interest and hopefully an obsession like I have :) but thank you for the helpful tips! Now I know what to put on and what not to put on for certain people! Much appreciated!!!! :D

  • Reply
    NewKDramaAddict Jan 7, 2013

    Yup! I introduced a friend using RMPW. She loved it! She also watched A Gentlemen's Dignity. Next on her list is Panda and Hedgehog. That will totally suck her in!!

  • Reply
    yeochinmin Jan 7, 2013

    Nah, my friends and my some clasmates are already into dramas :>
    while some are still in the anime and manga world and refused to try dramas
    Most of them are into kdramas same as me :)

  • Reply
    fwaaaah Jan 7, 2013

    1) Too bad I don't enjoy Korean movies x) (haven't had a lot of experience with Japanese)

    2) HEY! My and a lot of people I know had Coffee Price as their first drama which made us fall in love with dramas! x)

    • Reply
      LibradaJ Jan 7, 2013

      If you don't like K Movies, you are watching the wrong ones. Also depends on what you like to watch. There are a lot of good ones out there.

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