javabeans: Have you noticed that it seems to be getting strangely more difficult to find subtitled dramas these days? I don’t have any numbers or figures to support this, it’s just a feeling I’m getting from reading comments and hearing about people’s difficulties watching things.
girlfriday: Yeah is it an actual problem to find the shows you want to watch these days?
javabeans: We’re not making this up, right? There’s always been some amount of effort required to watch dramas, but lately it seems to be getting worse.
girlfriday: Maybe you guys — our readers — are better equipped to answer, since you’re the ones searching for shows to watch and tearing your hair out over lack of subs (or not), and can tell us we’re just imagining things.
javabeans: We don’t use subtitles so we don’t notice as quickly as our readers might, but I did go on a search the other day and had a really hard time finding shows I expected to be able to find. They were either georestricted (“This video is not available in your region”) or only licensed by one site, which then might also be georestricted.
girlfriday: It’s interesting that there seem to be more sites where you can watch dramas these days, but somehow fewer shows you can actually get access to.
javabeans: I really hope this is not a new trend that will continue because we are, above all else, fans of access. One huge component in Hallyu’s popularity is access! Yes, the dramas are addicting, but also, there was a concerted push to make them available widely. That worked. Why is that not working now?
girlfriday: Maybe it’ll just cycle back to the days of video stores and analogue pirated copies of dramas.
javabeans: Or underground fan operations, requiring memberships and secret passwords. But now that streaming has become the standard form of consumption (…right?), I don’t know how we’d go back to the ye olde ways of bootleg videos, syncing SRT files, softsubs, and all that.
girlfriday: For those of us who started our drama-watching that way, it’s not a big deal, but then it becomes so much harder for new fans — where would they start? How would you get your friends addicted to your favorite show? I can’t go back to the days of burning and mailing DVDs. Though… I will if I have to!
javabeans: Or mailing external hard drives back and forth?
girlfriday: It probably says a lot about us that we always pack a hard drive when visiting each other.
javabeans: Yes, it says that we’re efficient. If access becomes even more restricted, I really believe that Hallyu’s prominence (visibility, popularity, REVENUES) would drop drastically. If you make something really hard for people to find, people will generally not go out of their way to jump through your hoops — they’ll just turn to other content that’s more available. You know, which is how people came to Korean dramas in the first place.
girlfriday: Yes. Why is this a mystery? More access, more fans!
javabeans: It’s a little early to be declaring doom, perhaps, but I do find it a little unsettling. I don’t want this to be the beginning of the end! I like dramas. Even when they’re stupid, I like the idea of dramas and want them to continue to be available and watched and loved.
girlfriday: I would cry if dramas became unavailable to watch. I probably wouldn’t know what to do with myself, frankly.
javabeans: Maybe get a life?
girlfriday: A LIFE WITHOUT DRAMAS?
javabeans: Apparently those exist. I’ve seen them in dramas.