Drama Reactions & Reviews
Our love-hate relationship with drama remakes and adaptations
by | November 10, 2014 | 242 Comments

“They’re remaking another drama?” *Boo, hiss, wails.* I’m pretty sure that’s a familiar script for most of us who’ve been following dramaland for a while, and one that’s cropped up with particular frequency in recent months and years.

Adaptations and remakes are nothing new—people will retell new versions of old stories until the end of time—but the recent surge has spurred increased talk about the trend. I find it interesting to note the tenor of the commentary, because even though the fan voice tends to be united (in dismay, most often), the broader public response encompasses a pretty wide range.

I don’t have a singular stance that applies across the board—say, for instance, “remakes are the devil”—but there are enough issues in play that I think the topic merits its own discussion, separate from recaps and narrative-focused commentaries. So I won’t be making a central argument here (sorry, high school essay-writing lessons), because I don’t know that I feel one thing about this. Rather, I want to open the conversation and maybe see where it leads us. I guess I should warn you up-front that rambling is afoot, but you probably already know to expect that of me. No apologies!

(I realize that remakes and adaptations aren’t interchangeable terms, and I don’t want to lump everything into one catch-all pot: The manhwa-into-drama adaptation, for instance, is different from the cross-national drama remake, which is different from the movie-to-drama reboot, and so forth. These projects encounter a similar set of complications and pitfalls, so for the purposes of this discussion I’m often talking about them within the same overall context. But we’ll distinguish when necessary.)

Why can’t anybody leave a good thing alone? is the prevailing cry whenever another property gets snatched up for remaking, and it’s a knee-jerk reaction that seems both completely understandable and sadly futile. I feel that chagrin myself whenever Hollywood, for instance, takes something I love—something with nuance and character—and then proceeds to suck out its soul to replace it with empty gloss. (See: Il Mare (The Lake House) or My Sassy Girl or Oldboy. Or scratch that; don’t see them. And I’m more nervous than optimistic for upcoming drama remakes of Nine and You From Another Star; Good Doctor is less worrisome, mostly because I care less about that show but also because it’s a concept that I think would find a ready home in CBS’s medical-procedural stable.)

On the other hand, the Korean industry is just as often the perpetrator, and in those cases I try to keep an open mind that perhaps the end result will be worth the attempt, or that this latest version may even contribute something new to the dialogue. It probably has more to do with the fact that we cover Korean dramas here and not Hollywood ones, and I aim to keep hope alive as long as possible if only for my own mental well-being. (Who needs to introduce stress before it’s necessary? At least hope is its own reward.)

There are concrete reasons for producers finding the remake/adaptation an attractive option, and longtime drama fans are probably aware that the relationship between business and creativity doesn’t always tilt the way we want it to. (Okay, fine, it never tilts the way I want it to! But until I am a multimillionaire with money to spend on funding drama productions, I just have to accept certain bitter realities.) Remakes have built-in name recognition, and are much easier to launch than an original series that must be planned and produced from scratch. Personally I’d like to tell broadcasters to suck it up and just do the work—because I don’t care if it’s hard, I care if it’s good—but again, my unfortunate lack of millions is really getting in the way here.

I’d also like to put aside, for the moment, the broad lamentation regarding the dearth of original ideas. It’s not that the complaint isn’t valid, but I think we all agree that fresh stories are always desirable, and that more of those in dramaland would be nice. Nobody’s arguing for fewer original dramas! But it’s a preaching-to-the-choir sort of speech, of the kind the choir makes while beating a dead horse into a bloody pulp. There’s also the point one could make about there being no new stories under the sun, and if we’re taking that kind of absolutism to its extreme (i.e., retelling old stories is bad and therefore pointless), then perhaps we should all just curl up at home with our battered copies of Aeschylus, because once a story has been told, it must never be told again. *Hiss* *Shrivels from the sun*

The thing that makes adaptations and remakes both challenging and fascinating is: They serve two masters. One is the existing fanbase, whom you do not want to betray, while the other is the broader mainstream audience, whom you do not want to alienate by serving a small niche of insiders at the expense of new viewers. This is a tricky balance to strike and, as we know, not often done well.

The double-edged sword is especially keen when we’re talking about hot properties like Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers) or Nodame Cantabile (Cantabile Tomorrow), whose heightened profiles create immediate interest that is nearly impossible for a brand-new show to match. Not without substantial effort and cash, at least. It’s that same interest that makes backlash especially scathing, however, if/when fandoms aren’t pleased. And once you get one Boys Over Flowers breaking out and becoming a smash hit, everybody’s clamoring to get the next one, and then we just end up with a river of tears cried by sad manga lovers.

This is something we don’t necessarily see with adaptations like Three Musketeers or Surplus Princess, which almost don’t feel like adaptations because they’re based on well-known classics and thus are granted more latitude. But they, like the other dramas mentioned here, are doing the same job of taking K-drama twists to make things their own. (Maybe we can look to that as support for the argument that more freedom in interpretation yields better results. A shame that producers aren’t often granted that freedom, though!) Fated To Love You also had a funny trajectory in that the Taiwanese original was wildly popular at home and throughout Asia, and then the Korean remake was successfully exported and enjoyed a fresh wave of popularity in China and Taiwan. But that’s the anomaly.

It’s enough to make you wonder whether it’s better being an adaptation of an original property that wasn’t that popular, which mitigates the potential feeling of betrayal. Pretty Man and Tamra the Island were both manhwas that had smallish niche audiences, so when both dramas underperformed (Tamra because of low ratings despite a cult following, Pretty Man because it was a mess), they receded quietly, without incurring the level of netizen scorn reserved for more high-profile projects. The bigger the target, the harder they fall. (Other adaptations that came and went quietly: Birdie Buddy, Nail Shop Paris, Her Lovely Heels, Strike Love, A Man Called God, My Fair Lady (Take Care of the Lady), Mary Stayed Out All Night, and Hot-blooded Salesman, among more.)

This is also why, despite the impression that it’s easier to write a remake than an entirely new drama, that’s only true from one angle. New dramas aren’t hamstrung by the same expectations and prejudices that these remakes are, which are as much a handicap as they are a helpful guide. Dramas that try to make everybody happy may instead end up making nobody happy.

Because really, the baggage can be paralyzing, and choosing to honor that over a new vision could very well sound your death knell. Consider the drama that’s a so faithful and afraid of stepping out of line that it presents a story with exactly zero surprises. Yawn and yawner.

This is one aspect I find very enjoyable about Cantabile Tomorrow, because it’s just different enough that I appreciate where they’re trying to stretch a bit; the K-drama hews closely enough to Nodame Cantabile’s storyline to feel like an adaptation, but it’s thoughtful about where it chooses to deviate. The hero role of Yoo-jin is like Chiaki, for instance, but the overall flavor of the character feels like something Joo-won has created on his own. I have seen comments that Yoo-jin isn’t cold or harsh enough, and that because Tamaki Hiroshi played him more aloof, Yoo-jin is therefore wrong. I agree that Yoo-jin is the gentler version, but surely both actors still register on the “cold, gruff” spectrum of standoffish heroes, so neither interpretation strikes me as wrong. They’re two ways to interpret what the manga created, and frankly, I love that we have both.

Hana Yori Dango/Boys Over Flowers is another example where the heroes were clearly from the same mold—haughty, imperious, in desperate need of some humbling—but diverged in key ways, and I was also happy to have both portrayals to watch. (I do have to say that the heroines were unequivocally better in the Japanese dramas, though.)

I frequently see the argument “This didn’t happen in the novel/manhwa/anime, therefore the drama is wrong” leveled against a show as though the act of deviating automatically invalidates the choice. A bad choice is a bad choice, but let’s not assume that different necessitates bad. In this regard I find the intensity of the criticism against Cantabile Tomorrow surprising; to me, it’s a light, good-natured show that’s doing a pretty good job as a drama and as a remake, albeit with flaws in both areas. What I find odd is the way in which these remake debates can go askew and even revise history, misrepresenting the original dramas as infallible masterpieces and the remakes as worthless drivel. I have trouble accepting such blanket arguments. I found Hana Yori Dango superior to Boys Over Flowers in most ways, but man if Boys Over Flowers didn’t have a strange manic pull that sucked me in, in a way I didn’t feel with the J-drama. Being better in most things didn’t make it better in all things.

Nodame Cantabile is a case where I’ll actually argue pretty strenuously that the Korean version is improving on the execution in many ways, and feels more emotionally resonant than the Japanese drama did (for me! I speak for myself!)—the J-drama was fully enjoyable and I daresay nobody tops Ueno Juri as the heroine, but I thought it emotionally lightweight and very, very slapsticky. The Korean version is held back somewhat significantly by Nae-il being less relatable than Nodame, but I also think Yoo-jin and the side characters are doing it more for me here (okay, Mine is a draw with Il-lac). At first I’d wanted to cry at the thought of losing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 as Yoo-jin’s solo, until I heard the Grieg and felt the show had done the work to make the selection thematically relevant—it’s powerful, sweeping, and intense, which is reflected in Nae-il’s tumultuous response to it. And while the S Orchestra’s rendition of “Rhapsody in Blue” was inspired in the original, I thought the “Mambo” perhaps even a cut above as a representation of the orchestra’s character—all fast, crowd-pleasing fun.

All of which I say not to convince you to agree with me, but to present the argument that older isn’t automatically better. And that a new adaptation necessitates some new interpretation, no matter how familiar the story. And that a new version can sometimes build upon the older to draw out and improve upon the basis. I love the story of Nodame, but I wanted to feel more emotionally drawn into the world—and that’s what Cantabile Tomorrow gives me (even if I have to put up with some additions that I dislike, such as the teacher drama). Ultimately isn’t this a win-win?

Even so, let’s suppose for a moment that a remake is indisputably worse than the original—can we still agree that harping is an activity we’d like to see cease? Consider a scenario where you go to a party in a good mood, only to run into a guest who follows you from room to room pursuing an argument:

“The party I went to yesterday was better.”
“That’s nice.”
“It had better food than this one. Better music too.”
“It was better in every way.”
“So I hear.”
“I don’t even know why they bothered throwing this party.”
“I’m going to go over here now.”
“I’ll follow you, so that I can tell you more about all the ways in which the other party was better.”

Murder ensues.

It’s a curious exercise to watch the response to Cantabile unfold simultaneously with the response to Liar Game, because I’ve seen the original(s) for one and not the other. Hearing remarks that the original Liar Game is better is intriguing because I’m enjoying the K-drama wholly, and the possibility of a better version makes me curious—but it doesn’t make me like the K-drama any less. What’s the purpose in insulting one drama to elevate another? Ultimately my conclusion is the same: That I enjoy these K-dramas as K-dramas, and what I know of the world outside of those 60-minute episodes is incidental to how I feel about the show itself.

It’s why I’d argue that the mainstream television audience ought to always be the production’s priority over adherence to the original story, because in adapting this idea for this particular medium, you’d better make sure you serve this medium. If the remake makes an effort to find its own voice, at least it can stand on its own feet even if the fanbase hurls epithets and exits in droves (…though let’s be honest, sometimes it’s more like exiting in drove).

Because what worked in a different medium—or a different time, or a different cultural context—may not work in the here and now, so a remake does in fact necessitate deviation. A beat-for-beat remake, snatched from one time and plonked down in another, starts feeling like some hybrid monster, ill at ease in its own skin. Some dramas stand the test of time because we’re able to view them through the lens of nostalgia, or history; if you took Autumn Fairy Tale and set it in the present day, we’d have a lot less patience for what are now trite misunderstandings and melodramatic twists, even when those are the same moments that gripped our hearts and made us cry back in the day. It’s the misstep I felt with Strike Love, the 2009 baseball drama based on a 1986 manhwa that felt like it had been lifted wholesale from that time. It felt dated, as though nothing about it had been updated to reflect the new milieu.

To look at the issue from another perspective, it’s another interesting exercise to juxtapose these cases of criticized adaptations with those that surpassed their source material. Gaksital may have had its fans when it was a black-and-white manhwa, but the drama brought new dimension to the birth of a dark national hero and made us feel the range of emotions in hi-def, full-colored glory. Coffee Prince was a fluffy romance novel before a thoughtful PD transformed it into something modern, sentimental, and insightful. The drama version of Sungkyunkwan Scandal, based on a novel, took a familiar cross-dressing reverse-harem premise and elevated it with smart casting, adorable chemistry, and sharp directing choices. And The Moon That Embraces the Sun, for all its simplistic melodrama, was a juggernaut of a show that far exceeded the popularity of its novel inspiration.

City Hunter is an example of a K-drama that was really only an adaptation in concept—it was loosely based on the manga, but reset the scene, added a different backstory, reshaped the characters, and turned into a prequel, so that the end result resembled almost nothing of the original save for the title. But it succeeded by being a damn entertaining drama, regardless of its origins, and in my book that puts the drama into the plus column. Since I wasn’t much of a fan of the original to begin with, to me the 2011 K-drama was even an improvement on the source material (…though perhaps diehards of the 1980s manga might have a different argument to make).

These cases are much better, I think, than the flipside where a property is so intent on preserving the original that it forgets to be a drama. Because then you’ve failed before you’ve begun. (Other adapted dramas that were arguably as or more successful as TV shows: Painter of the Wind, The Return of Iljimae, Full House, Goong, Gourmet, Capital Scandal, and the big one these days, Misaeng.)

Speaking of which, Misaeng is currently positioned to become the next pop-culture sensation, and for good reason: It’s smart, it’s thoughtful, its portrayal of what it’s like to work in modern Korea is so keen as to be painful. It captures a zeitgeist that started with its webtoon, which was a sensation in its own right and has now reached bestseller status. What I find fascinating is how the drama production managed to capture the soul of the webtoon so accurately in such a different medium, which speaks to the consummate skill of its director. In Misaeng’s case, the spirit of the original has been transferred without necessarily copying everything frame by frame.

And really the secret to success, for Misaeng specifically and for remakes in general, lies chiefly in the execution—more than casting or content, say, or buzz or faithfulness to an original idea. You only need to look at cases like Faith versus Dr. Jin to see how two very similar concepts (so similar as to incur legal battles) could produce two such disparate shows. Witch’s Romance produced a surprisingly charming remake earlier this year despite being a super-obvious story with no huge surprises, buoyed by its writing and pacing and charismatic leads. On the other end of the spectrum, Level 7 Civil Servant’s spy-meets-spy romance gave rise to one zippy, fun movie and one drama about which we will never speak again.

So maybe what it all boils down to is the most obvious statement of all, which I feel silly saying plainly for its obviousness: Don’t underestimate the power of a good story (or your viewers’ intelligence), and the question of who said it first becomes less important than the fact that you’re entertained—and we’re all really here for the entertainment, aren’t we? Make good dramas, and the audiences will respond. If you build it, they will come.

Images used, in order: Misaeng, Three Musketeers, Cantabile Tomorrow, You From Another Star, Nine, Boys Over Flowers, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Tamra the Island, Surplus Princess, Cantabile Tomorrow, Cantabile Tomorrow, Liar Game, City Hunter, Gaksital, Dr. Frost, Fated To Love You, Misaeng


242 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Rh

    K-drama cantabile fail because nodame is fujoshi with music talent not a weirdo. K-drama liar game fail because they forget the basic theme, the crazy battle of strategy manipulating other people, with grave effect for who loss the game.

    • 1.1 Hello

      I’m guessing you didn’t read the article past the title.

      • 1.1.1 talen

        My thoughts exactly.

      • 1.1.2 shf

        i just had to laugh at this because your guess was probably right. lol

        • shf

          and speaking of remakes, if anyone here is a watcher of Thai dramas, i give up on those remakes!

          do they have to make a remake EVERY TIME they have a young fresh face?? this is so annoying to me about Thai dramas! most of their dramas are on their THIRD remake!! INSIDE the country, not outside! for example, A was in this drama, now B comes along and is in the remake of A’s drama. Now, there’s young fresh faced C who’s going to remake the drama that B remade from A’s drama! I swear, do those Thai writers have no fresh ideas? STOP LETTING SOME 19 year old play a 30 something just for your remake!!

          Sorry, I just had to vent about Thai remakes because we’re on the subject of remakes.

          I loved the remake of FATED TO LOVE YOU. It seems these days, nothing is matching up to my love of the Korean FTLY. Everything else seems sub par to the summer I had with the K-FTLY.

          • pootah

            that’s their culture there. Why do you even bother? And besides, they have remakes for korean dramas which were quite decent. There are also other Thai dramas which are more decent than any other dramas. You can check on Hormones The Series if you want some fresh teen drama from Thailand.

    • 1.2 Emmy

      Haha, the irony of seeing this as the first comment after I have just finished reading the whole article.

      • 1.2.1 pitch

        Oh God, ikr?

      • 1.2.2 Ofl

        Haha.. That’s really funny !!
        Btw I felt what JB talk about consider a scenario where you go to a party in a good mood, only to run into a guest who follows you from room to room pursuing an argument,etc etc.. That’s what exactly what I felt everytime I go to read the recaps of CT.. 🙂

        • dreamcloud

          My thoughts exactly! It’s like about a third (or more) of the comments on each recap of CT have people comparing and arguing about the original and the remake.

          I think it would be better to enjoy and take what you can get. And I personally like CT very much, no matter how it deviates from the original, because even though it’s a remake it IS a separate drama. It’s better to sit back and enjoy the fun than to nitpick.

        • Because of Reasons

          Yup! I often feel the same reading the comments on the recaps of Liar Game.

    • 1.3 tee

      Sigh. Did you even read the article?

    • 1.4 houstontwin

      I have only seen the kdrama versions of nodame and liar game, and think that they are both very entertaining. They stand on their own merits.

    • 1.5 moon

      @Rh ohhh so you’re THAT guest from that party jb set as an example eh?

      • 1.5.1 azkiya


        guess so. but @Rh, try following other person when you whining ’bout the party, i believe JB is not a good choice here,haha..

        anyway, really like this post from JB.
        I’ve been wondering when will DB ‘explain’ the whole ‘chaos’ on the comment section surrounding CT, ‘coz for me it was just so confusing when i see people keep saying negative things about a drama in a comment section of the mentioned drama (i was like, okay, you’ve said it 1001 times, but these people here just want to enjoy it, so could you please blurt your negativity elsewhere?).

        that been said, i hope DB will stay as a place for us raving (and ranting) about k-drama, i love you all beanies, but for some of you (who is like the guest JB mentioned) i better put a straight face when i say my love, haha..

    • 1.6 doki2

      hahaha, my thought for K-Liar Game exactly the same. Similar with this was the Genius Game S2.

      What makes me worried about NC they just arrangements everything to make a new song. flow, timing, even the notes.
      For example, I like Rhapsody in Blue becoz its in acoustic-jazz version. Nodame and piano class included and play pianika. in Mambo, Nodame just played intro and that’s it. like in J-drama.
      Maybe they forgot to make music consultant and music division work together?

      It’s really love and hate. I decided to depend into recaps until drama finished was to lessen my worries. I still have hopes.

      Fighting kdrama!

    • 1.7 blo

      You must be a lot of fun at parties.

    • 1.8 mrmz

      This post being the first perfectly proves Javabeans’ post. It is an interesting thing to contemplate because I don’t think it’s something with can answer with “that’s right” or “that’s wrong”.

      I usually go for dramas with original stories but that’s becoming less and less available. I don’t usually watch remakes specially when

      -Completely satisfied with the original (Nodame Cantabile)
      -Did not stand the story itself of the original (Hana yori dango)

      However I’ve seen all versions of Itazura na kiss because even though ISWAK was addictive there was always something missing. Watching other remakes may cover the missing part but lacks elsewhere but in general the story is just guilty pleasure that I fall for EVERY TIME.

      To the Beautiful You is the a drama that shows the what gives remakes and adaptation a bad name. The problem here is when they take a popular story only to fill it with talentless pretty boys and idols to promote them. It sucks out the soul of the story. Hana Kimi may have had pretty boys but they were talented!

      As for remakes taking liberties, it really depends. I think it’s alright as long as the spirit of the story is here. A good example is The Three Musketeers adaptation, as a fan of the original novel, I enjoyed A LOT! The Liar Game’s kversion remake isn’t one I was planning on watching since the original satisfied me (more or less) but the change they made picked my interest and plan on checking it out soon.

      I think Javabean’s point is adaptions and remakes have always been happening and will keep on increasing. We should just keep an open mind and, even if remakes isn’t our thing, we should respect that firstly, that remake is an original to someone else, and also that some people will enjoy the remake more, as much as it pains us that “our original” is glossed over 😛

    • 1.9 [email protected]

      Aww, you weren’t invited to the party.

    • 1.10 SJ

      you don’t understand, do you?

  2. Aigoooo

    I find that this year’s remakes have been very good overall. In fact, I can’t think of a single one that has really been atrocious. And to be honest though, most of the remakes this year (except for Three Musketeers), I haven’t really seen the original so that help out a lot in not having any preconceived notions. It does peak my interest though in seeing the original so I can make the comparison. It’s definitely easier to remake something that hasn’t been on TV/film yet since you only have to worry about staying faithful to the story and characters instead of comparing actor’s talents (i.e. SEK and Ueno Juri).

  3. Nana

    Thanks. I do not have any opinion on this adaptation/at all except that when i enjoyed the drama i’d give the original a try. Anyway, will this be a chapter in your new book?

  4. harmonyfb

    I frequently see the argument “This didn’t happen in the novel/manhwa/anime, therefore the drama is wrong”

    I’ll cop to often being that person in regards to novel adaptations. But it’s always been my stance that the novel is better than any adaptation to begin with*, so seeing directors make ridiculous, unnecessary changes makes my blood boil. (*with one or two rare exceptions.)

    Often, US remakes completely miss the mark (US Coupling ::spits::, we shall speak of it no more!) Sometimes they work – The Office was great in both incarnations – but often, the industry sees only the popularity, and misses out on why it was popular.

    I don’t mind adaptations if they keep the soul of the story intact – Apocalypse Now was a fantastic adaptation of the novel Heart of Darkness, even though the setting, time period, and even some of the characters had been altered. (In the same way, the re-enactors-who-joust-on-motorcyles movie Knightriders was a pretty darn good adaptation of Herman Melville’s shipboard story Billy Budd.)

    You’ll note these are all US examples…and that’s because I largely don’t watch Japanese or Taiwanese dramas, and I don’t read manga or watch anime. So odds are, I haven’t seen the source material of any adaptations – heck, I might not even know it’s an adaptation.

    • 4.1 Anna

      Exactly. Lile what is the purpose of calling it liar game when you twisted everything , while we are at it why not give it a totally new name?.

      • 4.1.1 tweetpandora

        Oh dear I thought the ratings were good? Was planning to watch it later, I don’t mind a change in the setting, its the type of remake where if they don’t change anything form the J-version it would be really predictable and boring….

        • kirin

          Liar Game is a good drama. I’m speaking as an addicted fan who read the manga. However, it *does* have some major differences from the original (whether it’s the j-drama or manga). If you’re okay with that, you may just find it a fun ride, like me.

          At any rate, I’m getting tired of people comparing the different versions and complaining about the differences they see. It feels like they’re beating a dead horse at this point. That person who follows you from party to party, complaining how that party doesn’t match up to this one? That analogy fits perfectly with how I feel about Liar Game.

    • 4.2 tweetpandora

      I am with you, I HATE big deviations form the source material for remakes (not adaptations, I have little against adaptations) also make my blood boil, better to just call it something else in the end…

      • 4.2.1 harmonyfb

        I HATE big deviations form the source material

        I was particularly thinking of the character assassination of Faramir in the film version of The Two Towers. It made a huge thematic change, and there really was not a good reason to alter Tolkien’s original narrative (unlike, for example, the film’s change of Glorfindel to Arwen on the way to Rivendell – because the shortened format meant there was a need to pare down to essential characters.)

        • Rossi

          Oh god yes re: Faramir! He was my favorite character from the books and I was so looking forward to his onscreen adaptation. I was/am still a bitter fangirl. At least in the extended version, his character was adapted better.


          • harmonyfb

            ::fistbump:: I read LotR when I was 13, and fell desperately for Faramir. I was so looking forward to the movie version. I left “Two Towers” very dissatisfied. (But all was forgiven because they got The Coming of the Rohirrim perfect. “Ride, ride to Gondor!”)

            I may still be a little obsessed with this trilogy.

          • tweetpandora

            OMG me too, am a LOTR’s fanatic and couldn’t believe what they did to Faramir foe absolutely NO reason!! #justiceforfaramir indeed. I can swe why the Tolkien family are not on speaking terms with Jackson. That being said I was just so happy to have thw story told via a new medium even if it lost the nuance of the written material and made unnecessary plot addition’s and removals a little too many times

          • harmonyfb

            That being said I was just so happy to have thw story told via a new medium even if it lost the nuance of the written material

            Oh, don’t get me wrong – I adore the trilogy (except for those specific bits in Two Towers); it was like seeing my imagination painted directly on the screen. The casting was brilliant, the set pieces were perfect, and I cried with joy when I saw Galadriel’s temptation scene.

            Of course I have things I wish they’d left in – the scouring of the Shire, and Sam’s prayer to Elbereth in the caves – and things I wish they’d added, while they were about it (actual shieldmaidens at Helm’s Deep), but on the whole, I still regard it in starry-eyed wonder. 🙂 It’s not as good as the books, of course (and it’s about time for my every-five-year re-read), but it’s still pretty darn awesome.

    • 4.3 kpopholic1

      the Jdrama versions of hana yori dango, nodame cantabile, and liar game are sort of female centric series…

      the Kdrama remakes made it all about the first male lead, then the second male lead… and then reducing the female lead to a ragdoll that the two male leads will fight over. basically the kdrama romance love triangle treatment… and basically all other kdrama in existence.

      • 4.3.1 hajae

        Couldn’t agree more and basically one of my major problems when it comes to Korean remakes of female-centric dramas/manga/books that I love. I just know that the female character that I adore will be sacrificed so that the male characters will shine more.

        I feel that, for some reason, many females in Korean dramas are always defined by their significant other. I find the imbalance in character development disheartening, because it implies many things on their outlook of what a woman is.

    • 4.4 tee

      The US adaptation of Coupling was a crime against humanity. lool
      I usually have an issue with novels being adapted into movies also but i am always willing to give them a chance.

      The whining about jdramas/tdramas being adapted to kdramas has reached unprecedented levels and i just don’t understand why. I always advocate, give it a chance! Then you can complain.
      But keep in mind, an adaptation isn’t and shouldn’t be a straight copy. So be prepared to have some things change.
      FTLY for instance was a successful adaptation but i cant help wondering how better it could have been if they had changed some major (okay 1) major detail.
      Then there is Liar Game (kver) which is absolutely thrilling. I see complaints it’s not as thrilling as the jdoorama but, remember the korean audience is also different from the japanese audience.

      • 4.4.1 harmonyfb

        But keep in mind, an adaptation isn’t and shouldn’t be a straight copy.

        There’s no way you could make a straight copy from novel to screen, because the novel gives the reader insights that have to be communicated differently to the viewer.

        Sometimes, an adaptation of a novel will even add value to the novel (I’m thinking of the “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series, which improved the novels for me, because McCall-Smith’s prose is so very spare.)

      • 4.4.2 Megumi

        I would have really agreed with your point about Korean viewers and Japanese viewers are different if the ratings of the dramas you mentioned were good, ‘Cantabile Tomorrow’ and ‘Liar Game’ have been flopping pretty badly in ratings, I don’t have any complaints about CT because I didn’t care much or have watched the full original Jversion, but, Liar Game is what I’m pissed about because I think they could have made that drama a hit if they had followed the same Jdrama path, as soon as they made Liar Game a reality show the drama turned fluffy in an instant, I stopped visiting the recap page recently because of the same reasons Javabeans laid out, that I might sound like a broken record to the ifans who’re actually enjoying it, but this article being the place to vent your frustrations or opinions I’m laying mine out, the main reason I was pissed is because I care for the actors/actress involved esp KSE and SSK, this drama could have been KSE’s breakout drama but sadly the drama is tanking on ratings, I think it’s more of a international Kdrama fans have different taste than Korean viewers, most of the time I find that the dramas Ifans love are not loved by Kfans and vice versa, trust me if the ratings of Liar Game was even mediocre I would not have complained one bit, I would have swallowed my disappointment about the plot, after all in Korea it’s mostly all about the ratings.

        • Megumi

          Sorry I forgot to mention who I was replying to, I was replying to @tee.

    • 4.5 eJc

      I laughed at your ‘Coupling’ & ‘ The Office’ comment because that’s exactly how I feel about them.

      Your novels-always-better-than-adaptation-(with 1-2 rare exceptions)-comment lets me scratch my head, though.
      I love books, too. But I also love movies & TV (incl. adaptions). I’m happy like little child under the Christmas tree if a favorite book of mine is adapted to the screen. Isn’t it a pleasure to see the chracters and their world come alive? Even if it has to be different from the books? To know more people will have the chance to meet them on screen?

      Vice versa, I go and buy a book if a movie has captured my interest (for beeing good or even bad) to see how the original author created the story. Like I did the other day for ‘Gone Girl’. Both mediums can be very entertaining, inspiring and challenging. I do not think that one is generally better than the other. And sometime adaption can even be better. Storys and ideas have always been adapted to different art forms and have influenced other artists ( e.g. fairly tales or Shakespeare to ballet, to opera, to theater, to movies, to book, to comics, …)

      Therefore, I don’t understand absolute comments of book lovers who condemn movie/TV adaptions in general. I agree with javabeans. I do appreciate how she presents different ways to look at the topic and never claims to not state her personal view. Movies and books are different media vehicles, and as javabeans explains “what worked in a different medium – or a different time, or a different cultural context – may not work in the here and now, so a remake does in fact necessitate deviation”.

      You have provided good examples where you think the ‘soul’ of the original books are captured well in the movie adaption despite the changes they made. I would argue that this ‘soul’ is like beauty in the eyes of the beholder. One will find it not truthfully enough to the original. Others will complain about the stiffness/ flaws it has because it’s not adapted enough to the possibilities movies are offering. Like javabeans stress “in adapting this idea for this particular medium, you’d better make sure you serve this medium. If the remake makes an effort to find its own voice at least it can stand on its own feet even if the fanbase hurls epithets and exits in droves…” Without the adaptions and influences the different media types have on each other we would miss out a lot.

      • 4.5.1 harmonyfb

        Therefore, I don’t understand absolute comments of book lovers who condemn movie/TV adaptions in general.

        Oh, I’m not saying adaptations are bad or worthless…just that the book is better. 🙂 (Cause books are always better. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

        My middle child makes a habit of watching film adaptations first before he reads the book, so that he can actually enjoy the film (otherwise, he’ll be constantly comparing one to the other.) On the other hand, I often will take a pass on a film adaptation of a novel I’m particularly fond of, as it will never measure up to the images of it in my head. 🙂

      • 4.5.2 harmonyfb

        Isn’t it a pleasure to see the chracters and their world come alive? Even if it has to be different from the books?

        Well, not if they’re too different. There comes a point where they might as well have just not even called it an adaptation (::”The Seeker”, I’m looking right at you::)

    • 4.6 Ofl

      The point of this article is everyone has different prefference.. Everyone have to respect it ! So why the fans of the original always chasing us ( who love the remake ) room to room only to pursuing arguments how bad the remake and how good the original over and over.. We do already know what you like from earlier.. that make us feel stressed and tired.. Why they don’t want to leave us enjoy the remake ?

      • 4.6.1 luma

        Lol.. that is their purpose. To make sure you are unable to enjoy the remake. Hahaha.
        However for me, no matter what they say, I will still enjoy the drama if I think it is enjoyable. Good drama is still good drama no matter what others said.

    • 4.7 Panda

      Coupling US version was awful. Just terrible

  5. couchpotato_md

    I love checking out remakes. J drama, Tdramas and k dramas have different tones and way of execution. Sometimes even the language adds to that nuance and feel of a drama. I’m partial to kdramas since I like the general tone that I get from kdramas.
    I like to check out cross cultural remakes to see the varying interpretation of the same material.

    I agree with you javabeans that sometimes we see a drama to be way better than it really is because of the nostalgia we attached to it. So its easy to belong to a fanbase and see a remake as lesser in quality and easily dissed it because we have upheld the original in a higher pedestal, not because its leaps and bounds better but because of the nostalgia we attached to it. For example, I love meteor garden because it was the first asian drama i saw outside of my country. Therefore, it will always be my favorite among the 3 adaptations. I hold Boys over Flowers on second place because I swear it has that “cracktastic” pull to it that is so hard to explain. I never finished Hana Yori version, I have a hard time watching j drama because of the the tone of the drama and the tone of the language itself sometimes distracts me from enjoying what I’m watching. I guess it boils down to each his own.

    Any dramas that you would like a remake of?

    I love to pieces “In Time with You ” and “Autumn Concerto” and would actually be interested to see a k version of these.

    • 5.1 Neyrie

      In Time with You and Autumn concerto are two of my fave Tdramas along with FTLY. I am okay with the FTLY korean version but the Taiwan version is still my fave.
      and i’d be scared to watch the Korean version of ITWY and autumn concerto cause the original was just perfect for me, and can’t think of any better way to do it. If ever they re-do it, I think I will pass.

      the adaptation to kdrama I wanna see is a manga I watched years ago, Honey Hunt. I gave me so much frustration and I think it was not continued but the story was all makjang. But it would be interesting how they will have the story move…
      another would be La Corda D’ Oro… I love love love tha manga and anime. would be awesome to see a live action version, whether Jdorama, Kdrama or Tdrama

      • 5.1.1 Joy

        I second La Corda D’Oro for a kdrama live action.

      • 5.1.2 doki2

        Oh, La Corda D’oro would be perfect in K-drama. It is full of youth life, sweet memories and handsome male characters. I like it \(^.^)/!

      • 5.1.3 ultramarineblue

        I second a remake of In Time With You! It was so touching!!!

      • 5.1.4 kirin

        Thirding La Cordo D’oro adaption. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Korean reverse harem drama, but I’d love to see it. Plus, Corda D’Oro is what got me to like classical music~ to this day Ave Maria is still my favorite classical composition. *is hit with a wave of nolstalgia*

        I would also love to see a Skip Beat as a Korean or Japanese drama. (The Taiwanese version is an abomination that I will not speak about.) Or that they’ll continue the anime version at least…

        • tweetpandora

          I am dying for a second season of anime version of skip beat!!

      • 5.1.5 Lezza

        Dropped in to say Thank You to all those in the thread who recommended the T drama / In time with you. Loved it so much!!

    • 5.2 soprection

      I think Korea could do great things with Autumn’s Concerto. I only watched the first episode but it seemed super melodramatic and Korea has melo down to a science.

    • 5.3 hajae

      It would be interesting to see a k version of Autumn Concerto, because finally, the lead will not die from cancer.

    • 5.4 pigtookie

      Autumn Concerto reminds me a lot of kdrama material. I don’t know if the story brings anything new to the table in Korea (like Witch’s Romance and FTLY) but it is a good story nonetheless.

      As for ITWY… It can certainly be redone, but here the two main actors and director made this show unique for me, just like the Jangs and the writer for FTLY gave the show their own unique flavor. If it is redone, I’d expect it to be a slightly different show albeit following the same story.

      These two are among my favorite Taiwanese dramas too, ones that I have more feelings for than FTLY or My Queen and would be more wary if a remake will do it justice. I really like the Korean FTLY reinterpretation of the characters.

  6. Carole McDonnell

    Wonderful article!

    • 6.1 mary

      Yes. I agree. :))) An excellent breakdown of my own confused feelings about remakes and adaptations.

      I’ve been on both sides of the “fandom”:
      – a crabby fan of the originals who hate the adaptation, and
      – a new fan of the adaptation who has not heard of the original.

      If anything, the more “heated” discussions lately just made me realize how important it is to respect someone’s drama tastes. Because it could just as easily be me being harangued to stop liking something.

      • 6.1.1 lili_ij

        Where’s the like button when you need it?
        Anyway, ITA!

        Also thanks javabeans for the article, well-written and insightful as usual!

      • 6.1.2 kirin

        + 2.

  7. tej

    It probably boils down to the fact that they cater to different audiences. It took a while for me to get used to the humor and anime-ish feel (note: Ouran High school,nodame,unobore deka and so on) in Japanese dramas. Maybe it’s just me, but when I like a drama ,I’m glad when it’s re-made cause I get to watch it again !

    • 7.1 harmonyfb

      ,I’m glad when it’s re-made cause I get to watch it again

      I dunno – sometimes it’s altered so much that it loses what I loved about the original (I’m thinking of the US adaptation of Life on Mars, which completely missed the tone and characterization of the original. It wasn’t a bad show, but it didn’t grab my heart the way the BBC original did.)

      • 7.1.1 skelly

        I have to agree. I am all for adaptations and remakes – a good story is a good story, after all – and I really, really like it when an adaptation puts a new spin or adds nuance that was lacking in the original.
        But if you are going to deviate from the main premise of the story, then please, don’t even call it an adaptation. For example, I think I would have enjoyed the Korean version of Nodame Cantabile if a) I wouldn’t have known about the jdorama or b) they had distanced themselves more from the previous version. It is just enough alike, yet lacking, to disappoint me (especially the cavalier treatment of the music and musicianship in general, which really annoys).

        • jessica

          i agree. nae il’s cantabile or cantabile tomorrow at least changed the title somewhat (because it’s a name) from nodame cantabile.

          but liar game got the same title when it could have at least tried to make a slight change like liar game show or something.

          same with fated to love you, they could have gone with destined to be together or something like that.

          but i prefer different titles, that would definitely make it seem different enough. and you, as a viewer, don’t get reminded of the other drama/manga/novel, etc.

  8. East

    Love this article. Hope to see more op-ed pieces like this in the future, JB 🙂

    • 8.1 harmonyfb

      Hope to see more op-ed pieces like this in the future

      Me, too!! 🙂

      • 8.1.1 jandoe

        Me three!!

        (though I can only imagine the amount of hours it took you to write this and have it ready-to-publish!)

    • 8.2 elaine

      i’d have to disagree though because javabeans didn’t even attempt to be objective enough, and instead painted people on the other fence (opposite from her point of view) as petty and unreasonable, and all those undesirable things that a normal human being wouldn’t want to be associated with.

      many people are unhappy for a lot of legitimate reasons. they don’t want a carbon copy, that was not the issue. they want producers who make an adaptation that retains the essence of what makes the drama.

      in sean’s documentary hallyuwood (that javabeans promoted here somewhere before), that you can see here – http://youtu.be/n5Z42r2UHno

      the president of group 8 production company (that produced boys over flowers, and cantabile tomorrow) even said at around 11 minutes into the documentary about korean dramas, and i quote:

      “the story (of korean dramas) is about an ordinary girl, the girl has to be always ordinary, not special, the viewers has to identify themselves with her, the guy has to be very special… always successful, handsome, rich, stuck-up, but not to the girl.”
      “when i see american dramas, even japanese dramas, it involves a lot of job-specific issues. BUT IN KOREA, WHATEVER WE DO, EVERYTHING GOES DOWN TO THAT ROMANCE, THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE TWO: THE BOY AND THE GIRL, I MEAN THE WOMAN AND THE MAN”

      and you know, that’s really some points to ponder about how stories/plots are treated in korean dramas, and how heroes (male leads) and heroines (female leads) are often depicted, and also how when they adapt from somewhere else, the essence changes, and the focus is different.

      • 8.2.1 East

        It’s an “op-ed” piece, as in “opinion editorial” piece. An op-ed is never objective. It’s subjective; presenting the writer’s opinion.

      • 8.2.2 Divyrus

        Look I get it ! There are legitimate reasons to be unhappy and be disappointed and bitter.

        I havent even heard of Nodame Cantabile before the remake news came on. And I don’t know classical music, not one bit. So I went in absolutely fresh into the k version and first two episodes had me enthralled !
        I mean it ! It was absolutely enchanting! There were moments when music was playing that I know I was making no moment at all, so captivated and into the world. And that feeling I haven’t felt in a kdrama. Maybe that’s got to be because of me listening to classical music for first time !

        And I agree that the later episodes are not up to the first two, because I am hungry for more music and I didn’t get it ! And with all the hate I saw about it, I did go to check couple of episodes of nodame.

        And I liked the heroine a lot, I instantly saw the reason for hate. But I didn’t feel the pull to see later episodes, because of the slapstick and I didn’t feel the pull of music there. All this is from a person who doesn’t know classical music. Just a regular mainstream viewer.

        So I understand the frustration of loyal fans!

        But that doesn’t mean you have to be a spoilsport ! And spread bitterness !
        State your opinion And leave !

        Let others enjoy!,

  9. StupidCupidinLove

    I’d rather root for the version I’m watching at that moment. Watching remakes leads to the inevitable comparison between the original and the remake and one of them will always fall short. Right now I’m enjoying Liar Game and I see complaints in the comments box that the K-version is not delivering and it makes me more determined to not watch the J-version; I already think the K-version is as good as it will ever be and I see no reason to make unnecessary comparisons.

    The J-version of Nodame Cantabille was well done and when I watched it I wished it was a K-version. The Drama gods answered my wish and I’ve been regretting ever since. I haven’t watched the K-version enough to judge it but maybe it came at the wrong time for me. I’ll put it on my drama list that has dramas that require me to be in a particular state of mind to enjoy them (eg City Hunter, You Are Beautiful, Jejungwon, Tree With Deep Roots).

  10. 10 aicaramba

    Nodame Cantabile was the first Jdrama i watched specifically for the purpose of prepping to watch Cantabile Tomorrow. I have to say I was totally in love with the original going into the remake, that it was hard not to compare the two. However, as I followed the Cantabile Tomorrow, I find myself drawn so much more to its characters. The setups for the conflicts seem so much fuller that I feel their full impact. And Joo Won’s Chiaki is different enough that he merits a different set of love and adoration. It won’t hurt to love 2 Chiakis, right?

    • 10.1 Emmy

      Haha.. I have exactly the same experience as you. I have known about Nodame Cantabile, because my friends and I are classical music fans, and quite a few of them loved Nodame Cantabile. I never got interested to watch it until I heard that a K-drama was being made and I fell in love with the original.

      So far, Joo won has been doing an amazing job as Yoo-jin. I was watching Tomorrow Cantabile casually until episodes 7 and 8 came around and knocked my socks off. I love it that they’ve managed to keep what was most important in the story, that is the growth of the hero and heroine, yet tell it in such an effective, and equally heart-rending way.

      I definitely agree with Javabeans that I will miss some of the music from the original. It still pains me that Beethoven’s Pathetique will be left out of this adaptation, because I associate that piece so closely with Nodame’s pain and longing to realize herself, but I can definitely see why Liebestraum is a fitting replacement.

      All in all, I am happy that the K-drama version of Nodame was made. It definitely has its flaws, but it strikes all the right emotional notes that made me love Nodame in the first place.

    • 10.2 Heartoppaya

      Exactly my thoughts! I too watched (marathoned, actually) Nodame Cantabile to prep myself in order to watch and enjoy/criticize the kdrama. I loved Chiaki (Tamaki Hiroshi, in particular) so much that I would kiss the screen whenever he would do something squeeworthy. I became a true follower of Ueno Juri, Tamaki Hiroshi and Eita’s dramas. And after prepping myself, arming myself with the jdrama, I was like “bring it on!” to the kdrama and was ready to criticize and ridicule it. But I couldn’t do it. The kdrama actors drawed me in, and I’m a crazy lunatic waiting to see what happens next. I visit soompi and comment about Joo Won being Sex On Legs. I just can’t get enough of it. And I agree that while jdramas are all about slapstick comedy, kdramas are all about heart.

      • 10.2.1 Julia

        I watched the j-drama version of Nodame for the first time last summer, and I’m currently enjoying every episode of the k-version. While I agree with the comments praising Joo Won’s acting, so far I’m not seeing eye-to-eye with JB about finding the k-drama more emotionally resonant. (For me, anyway.) I feel like the k-drama has attempted to differentiate itself from the Japanese version by focusing on Yoo Jin and the wacky side characters–rather than Nae-il–to such an extent that it frequently feels like “Nodame Cantabile: Chiaki’s Story”.

        This is kind of a stretch, but when I watch ‘Cantabile Tomorrow’ I’m reminded of the many “Pride and Prejudice” retellings that re-write the novel from Darcy’s POV. I will always, always read those (I own, like, six of them), but they still feel like fanfiction, rather than independent, freestanding visions of a story. That’s the fundamental complaint I have about ‘Cantabile Tomorrow’–I like it, but I don’t think I’d enjoy it nearly as much if I didn’t already love the story, and I wasn’t constantly anticipating future plot developments.

        • hajae

          Agree, that’s the main problem I have with Cantabile Tomorrow. Although it’s told from Chiaki’s perspective, the heart of the show will always be Nodame. And when I have a less than stellar Nodame, it translates to my love for the drama.

          I may love Joo Won and all the other side characters, but I’m at a point where I don’t see why Chiaki and Nodame should be together.

          • Julia

            To be fair, I quite like the actress who plays Nae-il; I just don’t think she’s getting enough to do. The show keeps TELLING us she’s this magical musician who inspires everyone around her, but they don’t SHOW enough of it. That’s why I’m interested in this discussion of the value of remakes: I really feel like a sizable portion of my affection for this version is coming from my love for the story in its previous adaptations.

  11. 11 interesting

    Best part of this write up, the description of j-nodame fans. I liked j-nodame enough (not a huge fan, but I was entertained), I dropped k-nodame for personal reasons. However, the relentless scorn and nonsensical hatred for even the most insignificant of differences by j-nodame fans have left such a bitter taste that I might end up hating the show for their childish attitude alone. I’ve read infinite comments that surpassed the ridiculous into the hilariously delusional, taking the j-nodame into Magnificent Ouvre d’Art status that it doesn’t deserve at all.

    It can be a remake, an adaptation, or an original idea. The important thing is to get a good drama, that’s all that matters to me.

    • 11.1 Neseli

      I respectfully disagree with you.I am not a fan of Japanese drama version Nodame (I’m a fan of the anime) but I found the objection of the commentators in the thread of K-Nodame pretty valid and to the point (I followed the recap for the first three episodes.Don’t know if fans became unreasonable later on.

      Now I can give many arguments in support of why drama versions of Nodame(both Korean and Japanese) and Korean Liar Game don’t appeal to me but other remakes like Fated to Love You worked for me and adoptions like Three Musketeers and Misaeng intrigued me, but in the end isn’t it just a matter of taste?

      I’ve seen you expressing your disappointment in you recaps when fans rejected K-Nodame and recently there have been quite a few posts where it seemed you’ve tried to justify your fondness of the K-version and to give arguments in favour of it (That’s just my assumption based on my take on your writing so please don’t feel offended), but that’s not necessary at all, is it?
      If you like it, you like it.If they don’t, they don’t.It’s as simple as that. And the rule applies to dramas other than adoptions too. People have different opinion.It doesn’t mean the arguments put forward by those who don’t like the drama are right and by those who do are wrong and vise versa.

      Having said that, if I don’t like a drama, I’d personally drop it as soon as I feel my distaste for it is not going to change in the future…instead of complaining about it in every episode recap.There’s no point going into a drama thread and ruin the fun of those who are enjoying it.

      • 11.1.1 Neseli

        Sorry this was Not meant to be a reply but a separate comment!

      • 11.1.2 SS

        “People have different opinion.It doesn’t mean the arguments put forward by those who don’t like the drama are right and by those who do are wrong and vise versa.”


        “Having said that, if I don’t like a drama, I’d personally drop it as soon as I feel my distaste for it is not going to change in the future…instead of complaining about it in every episode recap.There’s no point going into a drama thread and ruin the fun of those who are enjoying it.”

        well said…but unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way.

        I have read Dramabeans for years although I lurked silently most of the time. Never have I seen such hateful and illogical comments dished upon one drama like Cantabile Tomorrow. If javabeans have not come out to urge for less bashing, I think Cantabile Tomorrow will be the first drama I watched but not read DB recaps and comments.

        I respect most NC fans who voiced out why they dislike CT and I can even see some of their points but I don’t have to agree with them and it’s fine. Most have left as there’s nothing for them to enjoy but some still remain. They are like that party mood killer which Javabeans captured in that hilarious conversation.

        I have just been called deaf and blind by one of these NC fans because I liked Cantabile Tomorrow and she doesn’t.

        • tweetpandora

          I believe Heirs and Lie to Me had similar scorn dished out by DB readers… to the annoyance of many who liked them, they also complained about party killing mood. So this is not new….

          • SS

            Ah sorry my mistake then. I didn’t like Heirs so I didn’t hang around to read. But yeah, every time someone brings up Heirs for no reason, it’s troll alert.

            If you don’t like a drama, just drop it. Even if not immediately, and you hang around a bit. you don’t have to keep bashing it. Maybe there is always this thing about making others see and agree with your views even if they don’t want to.

    • 11.2 Emmy

      I enjoyed both the Japanese and the Korean versions, and I definitely agree that it is frustrating how some fans will feel the need to bash the K-version, because it deviates from the original or is not as good as the original, etc.

      I love that the K-version is trying to be a work of its own, so borrowing from the much-loved material, while taking liberties to make the drama unique in its own ways. For me, that is perfectly ok and even welcome, because who wants to see a Korean adaptation that is EXACTLY like the Japanese, scene for scene?

      It would be great if more viewers of the K-version could keep an open mind and judge the K-drama on its own merits.

  12. 12 kpopholic1

    not really sure why you think the Jdramas original versions (hana yori Dango 2005, nodame cantabile 2006, liar game 2007) are dated when Jdrama fans have no trouble rewatching it, and new Jdrama fans still enjoy watching it for the first time now in 2014.

    then again, it is probably just objectivity coming into play… personally, I can watch Jdramas – any genre, any plot, any cast – and come out of it enjoying it. production and script are really good, and there’s definitely variety.

    for Kdramas, it is enough to read the drama recaps for me… I have to struggle to finish an entire Kdrama series because I have to like both the cast and the plot. otherwise it’s a no go definitely.

    Kdrama remakes are so different from the original, and though it may not be worse since there are people who seem to be enjoying it… but then it is NOT automatically better just because it is newer (2014).

    everyone recognizes WHY heirs is all kinds of awful, and yet that it is still a successful Kdrama in some kind of measures – ratings, popularity.

    so why is it difficult to understand that since Kdrama remakes somehow lost the theme/nuances of the originals, there will be people who will find fault in that? Kdrama remakes are just another heirs, people familiar with the original will find it awful… but it can still be a successful Kdrama in some kind of measures.

    • 12.1 Aigoooo

      My theory with Korea’s Heirs (and Boys Over Flowers) is this… There are enough delusional fangirls out there who will disregard ridiculous plot and bad dialog if you give them enough EYE CANDY. lol

    • 12.2 tweetpandora

      Soooo on point..

    • 12.3 Ofl

      So WHY you are trying so hard to make us who love the remake to believe that what you think is better.. And chasing us room to room to make us believe that the remake is bad even we still enjoy the remake… The point is you must more respect to everyone prefference !!

    • 12.4 SS

      Unlike you, I can’t watch Jdramas. A couple of friends recommended me some and I just couldn’t get past first episode on many of them. I finished Nodame Cantabile only because I planned to watch Cantabile Tomorrow so I wanted to know the story. I tried Liar Game J version also because I wanted to watch the K version and I could not even get past the first 10 mins.

      I don’t get the nuances or the ‘message’ that J dramas mean to convey. I cannot even relate to them. Since I finished watching Nodame Cantabile, I can say I did not get the raves about the production or music either. It was a fun and breezy ride, that’s about all.

      Does this mean J dramas are bad and K dramas are good? Or vice versa? I think we should just all accept that every one has their own personal preference and they can be very strong ones at that.

      So therefore do you see why despite J drama fans saying the original is superior, there are also others who disagree. We do not see eye to eye but we do not need to assert one’s superiority over another.

      People who are familiar with the J original are entitled to find the K remake awful but do not try to make us think or say the same.

      I have always been more of a Taiwanese and Korean drama fan and was trying to expand to J dramas but I wasn’t impressed. Now with this Cantabile Tomorrow debacle, it’s more than enough to make me swear off J dramas completely. It’s illogical but now, whenever I see a J drama, it just turns me off.

      I love the Taiwanese Fated to Love You and I had no problem liking K drama Fated to Love You for a good first half although I dropped it after the lead got amnesia. I didn’t go and rant about how terrible it was for the kdrama to deviate and sully the original. And please do not tell me it’s because Taiwanese dramas are inferior to J dramas so Taiwanese dramas fans have no cause to rant.

      I saw some bemoaning the change and deviation but that’s not just from fans of the original but for new viewers too. Surely, I did not see Taiwanese fans bashing the Korean remake like the way Japanese drama fans bashed Cantabile Tomorrow.

      I guess there’s something about various country-specific drama fandoms which I do not know.

      • 12.4.1 Mala

        I don’t think Taiwanese dramas have as many international fans or sites dedicated to them. Everyone generally holds that Meteor Garden was the best version for e.g. but I have hardly ever seen it brought up in discussions.

        I live in Asia and I would say that heaps of dramas barely make it to English sites. I think its partly because the Chinese and Japanese markets are sufficient for them whereas there is a definite K push for markets, they are quickest with subs, friendly pricing, streaming etc.

      • 12.4.2 anastassia

        I have been a korean drama watcher and addicted to it since 15 years ago. I started with Korean dramas and love the classic and believe they created a great drama, but later on Japanese manage to capture my heart more and make me finished the dramas and korean made me drop their dramas. Japanese has heart, and nuance that is very subtle and original. Heart-tugging story that not all dramatic watcher love to see. That one of stark differences I can say.

        • anastassia

          I don’t know how to feel about this article but I get the message you want to say. I have been an avid reader and follower for almost 10 years or more and I feel your writing is the best out there however I beg to differ on this matter.

          I have nothing against adaptation and I didn’t follow or say anything regarding the discussion of the following. It just me silently watched or dropped whatever my heart felt.

          I totally disagree when the commenters or you said that Nodame’s in Japanese version not that strong of emotional growth.

          What make I loved Nodame Cantabille the original is the sincerity, nuance, subtle emotional growth and massive heart.

          I watched Korean with no expectations and am ok with whatever differences since I’m no musical genius, I laughed and awe-struck with beautiful cinematography but something is bothered me on how they handle the material or original material from the anime. Not to be exact on how the execution but the heart and the soul of the story. But its ok then, I just leave those who like or love the K-version and didn’t read the recipes or follow the thread or discussion but I dropped the drama. I read in koalas playground for diff views and I respect both of your preferences and writing.

          However for all the commenters above that said that the Japanese version is more slapstick and K has more heart/emotional growth I totally disagree. Nomads Cantabille has more heart, subtility and sincerity that still manage to twist my heart until their movies.

          I think the preference is come to which genre and country drama do you LIKE/PREFER/LOVE more??

          I have been a korean drama watcher and addicted to it since 15 years ago. I started with Korean dramas and love the classic and believe they created a great drama, but later on Japanese manage to capture my heart more and make me finished the dramas and korean made me drop their dramas. Japanese has heart, and nuance that is very subtle and original. Heart-tugging story that not all dramatic watcher love to see. That one of stark differences I can say.

          Well, I love Japanese drama more because it has this intensity and rawness that Korean drama lacking of. And there is human, dark and slice of life drama that I can watch anytime. Also the comedic drama that just as fluffly. I watched Korean drama too but rarely it hooked me to the end.

          At the end, it comes to what is the writer, watcher prefers in terms of execution, nuance and characterisation.

          I as in general after been an avid watched of korean dramas, turned to be a BIG fan and always loved Japanese drama but I watched Korean too sometime if want another flavour.

          But we all have classic that we just love no matter how silly and for me it is Meteor Garden.

          Other adaptation I don’t really watched or bother or dropped so I don’t have anything say.

          Just that, each drama I want to feel their originality (of their own merit), sincerity of the writing from the depth of original story and…

    • 12.5 anastassia


      I agree with you.

  13. 13 Minx

    It’s a pattern with me usually, I watch a J drama or T drama and wish for a kdrama remake of it but most often than not I end up not watching (sometimes hating it even ) .. Case in point BOF (though I never wished for a remake in this case). I was a big fan of the original Hana Yori Dango and the hype over BOF made me watch it . Ten episodes down the line, I felt a blood boiling repulsion towards it, it was inexplicable. The slightest changes to the original bothered me. Eventually I gave up and resigned to the fact that I have way less tolerance to see a remake.

    I broke this rule of not watching a remake when I started with Tomorrow Cantabile (really liked the original) because it had Joo won and I adored him so much in almost everything especially Gaksital. The heroine though bothered me a lot and it’s not that she is bad from any angle, far from it but it was the same problem I had with Domiyouji ‘s korean adaptation of HYD – there is a lack of sensitivity somewhere in the portrayal of the character. Even in all its flawed glory the originals managed to touch my heart deeply. It could be just me and I am ok with that but it just saddens me.

    On the other hand I preferred the k version of fated to love you infinitely more but then by the end of it I got the overwhelming feeling of why are they together? After all this drama. Sigh. That’s a terrible place to be in while watching a drama.

    On the other hand adaptations like Gaksital , City Hunter really impressed me and made me wish for more such ones! Of the recent adaptations The Three Musketeers is really something else – loved it !!

    That being said I want dramas like Buzzer Beat to be remade with a slicker and improved plot and better actors. I am quite sure I won’t be regretting that one if done well.

    • 13.1 anastassia

      I understand your feeling with Nodame’s character in korean version.

  14. 14 Brenda

    So glad this is a topic of discussion, but at the same time it makes me wary of the diehard fans and anti-fans that are going to rush to this board.

    I loved the Japanese Nodame and i’m really enjoying the Korean version as well (though i fully acknowledge that both have their flaws, as well as why they are good in their own way). I wish people would just sit back and enjoy it rather than nitpick and everything, its terrible because when they do that it ruins the experience for the rest of us as well.

    Remakes and adaptions are always a big thing, just like how Hollywood loves their sequels, franchises and book/comic adaptions. Its going to generate a hoard of fans and buzz even if the actual execution is terrible. But if the execution is decent or even remotely good, then it will blow up and they reap in the profits.

    There are a ton of good and bad examples, I have tried to watch the Japanese liar game and i’m honestly not a fan of the concept or the execution or characters (i think it may have been the actual manipulation because it felt so childish compared to say something like Sherlock) so i’m glad to hear that the Korean version is having a different take on it.

    I’m also itching to watch Misaeng from all the good things i seem to be hearing! It’s going to be the first thing i marathon when i finish assignments and finish exams.

    • 14.1 Plus 9

      Agree! You should start watching Misaeng. I mean it. The characters, the story and the actors are really good there.

      • 14.1.1 kdramas

        I second the recommendation!! This show is just so wonderful – Siwan has been a great find for me! I adoooooree and feel very protective towards his Geu-rae!! ❤❤❤

    • 14.2 Emma

      “I wish people would just sit back and enjoy it rather than nitpick and everything…” Agreed.

      I’ve watched a lot of remakes and what I’ve found is that they mostly stay true to the original story and in the end, that’s the thing that keeps me coming back. Regardless of whether it’s the Taiwanese, Japanese or Korean version, I love the story behind Hana Yori Dango/Boys Over Flowers/Meteor Garden and because I do, I’ve seen all three versions multiple times. By the same token, I tried watching Liar Game and the story didn’t appeal to me, whether it was the Japanese or Korean version.

      I enjoy remakes because it’s seeing a different take on that story I love and there are elements I like and dislike. I think the key is for people to step back and realize that regardless of whatever artistic allowances, the show’s team makes, a remake is, at its heart, the same story fans fell for.

  15. 15 kyl

    For me, it depends on who is remaking the original and choosing a writer who can capture the essence of the original and give it a fresh twist. But in the end, I guess the final verdict is with the audience. I have nothing against most K-drama remakes since they derive from mostly mangas or animes or J-drama, and I don’t watch enough of these (I wonder what’ll happen if they do an adaptation of Vampire Knight or something). I tend to agree with JB; sometimes Japanese dramas is more slapstick eg. Hana Kimi, Nodame Cantabile so they don’t have enough emotional impact for me, whereas you know that K-dramas tend to go for the emotional bits even if it’s a comedic drama at first. I’d say that this is what K-dramas have that attracts audiences worldwide (besides hot guys and pretty boys): the ability to make emotional connection with the audience.

    Saying that, there are some pretty bad remakes out there and for that reason, I still find the original better. But it all depends. I’m pretty nervous about the remake of Nine.

    • 15.1 jessica

      i think you have a very limited exposure to japanese dramas if you think they are slapstick as a whole.

      a certain section of it is more slapstick, definitely, like the ones you enumerated, hana kimi and nodame cantabile. but these are the japanese dramas based on mangas, and has an ensemble cast and are targeted and are popular to a select audience. i like these kind of dramas but maybe the comedy are difficult for others to get into.

      there are melodramas like the 1 litre no namida (1 liter of tears) that i haven’t watched, since i don’t like melodramas so i can’t really offer much info on it. i have watched the 1 liter of tears movie (and the taiyou no uta, etc) though.

      there are crime procedural dramas, and the profession of the main character varies from the typical police detectives (boss, strawberry night, border), to university professors, usually in psychology but sometimes in other fields like physics and math/applied math (galileo, control, etc), and others.

      there are also work dramas about different professions such as hanzawa naoki (banking/economics), doctors (a lot but doctor x, with 3 seasons for one), teachers (again a lot, like gokusen, rookies, etc), fashion (first class — more on fashion magazine, real clothes — more on retailing). there’s also a drama about the air force (soratobu kouhoushitsu) and air traffic controllers (tokyo airport) if you can believe it.

      and then there’s a slice of life kind of dramas, like kekkon shinai, about women in various ages about their thoughts on marriage focusing on early 30-something woman who wants to get married, and a late-30-something woman who doesn’t want to get married

      there are a lot more, but this reply is already long enough. i suppose i just wanted to say, there’s definitely more to japanese dramas than slapstick comedy dramas.

      • 15.1.1 alua

        I just want to second what Jessica said.

        Honestly, if you dig into J-dramas, the type of dramas offered are much more diverse than k-dramas. Slapstick is just one genre – on the end of one extreme. The other end, I’d say, is slice-of-life, which K-drama just about never does.

      • 15.1.2 Thursdaynexxt

        @ jessica – haha, very true – there’s a jdrama about almost every profession under the sun, even tax collectors (Golden Pig/Ougon no Buta)!

      • 15.1.3 riverlystar

        this. i can relate to j-dramas much better because of it.

      • 15.1.4 erika

        word. i love J-Drama exactly for this very reason. diverse. dont get me wrong, I love K-Drama too, but K-Drama often very much seasonal, thus it can be very cliches. but i love it still.

        anyway, @kyl you should try to watch more J-Dramas. it has all kinds of genre in it and i believe that is what K-Drama is lacking.

        these are among my faces SPEC, Rookies, Mr. Brain, JIN, Hotaru no Hikari, Hungry!, Boku no Ita Jikan, BOSS, Border, Bitter Blood, Hero, Code Blue, Ryusei no Kizuna, Zenkai Girl, Priceless!, Change and more actually *too many to list*. they range from mystery, sci-fi, family, school, politic and more. what i love most is that they contains many life and moral values in it. give it a try. J-Drama episode is relatively shorter, each episode around 45 mins.

  16. 16 Altari

    I usually don’t watch remakes if I’ve watched/read the original material because I find it boring watching when I already know the story. The exception was City Hunter, which I loved probably because it was nothing like the manga. In fact I’m not sure why they bothered to call it “City Hunter”.

  17. 17 Perevell

    I have a sister who I persuaded to watch Cantabile Tomorrow, both of us having watched the japanese version and loved its slapstick comedy. She went into the first episode cringing and kept saying she didn’t like any of it and that the jap ver. was wayyy better, which I thought was terribly unfair.

    The problem with people watching remakes are their expectations. Once they’ve locked their minds onto the original version, that stubbornness just makes it harder to accept anything new. I liked both Cantabiles (while I never was a fan of Joo Won), just because they both have their respective charm. I see no problems with the cinematography, acting, sets, music etc. so it all comes down to preference on adaptations.

    MY problem with loads of drama watchers are that they have this nagging ‘I just don’t like the actor/ it’s not following the actual’ simple-conclusion-negative attitude which makes me want to pull out my (okay their) hair sometimes.

    My honest advice for everyone watching any new drama is to go in the 1st episode with an open mind. If you don’t like it, there should be a legit reason as to why, rather than (quoting a friend) “Ew, I can’t do this I hate his looks!” Maturity people, maturity.

    • 17.1 Yuna

      LOL the concept of ‘legitimacy’ is pretty subjective.Plus would you accept even if there were legitimate reasons? From your comment you seem to have the per-conceived notion all those who don’t like the remake are stubborn and crazy fans of the original!

      • 17.1.1 Perevell

        Haha I guess ‘legit’ sounds terribly subjective doesn’t it? What I meant was that reasons such as ‘I don’t like how the actor looks like to begin with/ It’s not following the original/ It can’t rival with the original’ aren’t very good reasons to not watch a remade drama in the first place.

        I don’t have a pre-conceived notion that those who don’t like remakes are stubborn and crazy of the original, I don’t know how in the world you came to that conclusion from what I wrote. All I was saying is that people have expectations for remakes, but loads of them go into it without an open mind.

        I’m a die-hard fan of Nodame, not to mention other mangas/manhwas which have been remade, but I like loads of remakes, and have good reasons as to why I don’t like the other half. Of course I’d accept legitimate reasons, it’s not like I expect everyone to like everything that I like.

    • 17.2 Aigoooo

      My rule of thumb is.. I always watch at least 2 to 4 episodes of a drama before deciding to bail or keep going because some dramas are just slow in character development or are still trying to find their rhythm. Case in point, I watched Kings2Heart and I absolutely hated the first few episodes coz Lee Sung Gi was such an ass in the beginning. But after 4 episodes, it got really good and I ended up loving the drama.

    • 17.3 jandoe

      Second everything you said! Especially about Kversion’s Cantabile haha, cos I’m not a fan of Joo Won (nothing crazy) before this but I actually really liked his Chiaki portrayal from the first episode. And yup, everything you said *nods*

  18. 18 Wag_a_Muffin

    Wow, insightful article. Japanese Manga/Anime was the gateway drug leading to me becoming addicted to Korean TV/Movies. So I have read (and watched) J-toons, but (confession) I have not seen a J-movie.

    My take? If it is well written, well cast, and well acted I don’t care if it is a remake OR an original. (Aren’t all movies somebody’s work on paper first?)

    If I loved the original and somebody makes a good K-version. I’ll watch it. If I loved the original and somebody makes a crap K-version knock off, (hoping for success just by name recognition) I’ll hate it. (And dump it after a few episodes.)

    • 18.1 jessica

      i agree. i don’t mind adaptations and remakes but it has to be well-written, at the very least.

      i mean, i expect a drama to be well-written in the first place. that’s important.

      if it is an adaptation and/or remake, with an available source material, there’s even more expectation and demand that it should be well-written because there’s already a format you can base on and improve upon.

      what does it mean to be well-written?
      well, you write a drama first and add the product placement later. if that’s not possible, at least attempt to make the ads less obvious and not the whole point of the episode (directly staring and pointing at you subway episode of tomorrow cantabile).
      you write characters with solid backgrounds, not someone who changes/acts/chooses one way or another just to create drama.
      you build on previous conflicts and not negate them as you go further on
      you build the world in the sense that if it’s a game show, explain the rules. if these people can commit crimes (stealing, etc) on a variety show which the former prisoner balked on doing because he thinks it’s not normal to ask a criminal to commit crimes in a television program but soon ended up participating, at least explain why he was hesitant (are there consequences? what are the consequences?) or was that just a throwaway line that doesn’t matter????

      i may not agree or like a certain premise, i.e. genius boy falling in love with an extremely stupid girl (it started with a kiss and itazura na kiss: love in tokyo) but establish that world and i’ll buy into it and i’ll watch.

      i may not like the lead characters, such as youth rebels and delinquents, i.e. ikebukuro west gate park but present them as is and don’t make excuses for them and just be matter-of-fact in presentation, thoughtful and realistic, and i’ll see where it goes until the end.

  19. 19 R

    Thanks javabean. Great article !

  20. 20 sisterkiller

    okay, here’s my take on why, when you love something, seeing it remade gets your hackles up. it’s like if you watched a drama and loved it to bits, and then they decided to re-air it, and you were so excited and sat down eagerly to watch it, and everything’s going swimmingly and you’re mired in nostalgia – and then suddenly, she’s not wearing the clothes she was wearing the first time. and suddenly his character does something that he would NEVER have done the first time. and, wait – that scene did not happen the first time!!! WHAT IS HAPPENING IT’S JUST A TINY THING BUT EVERYTHING FEELS WRONG WRONG WRONG.

    because you’re watching a remake with your head somewhat inside the original, it’s like someone decided to fuck with something you loved.

    that said, it 100% depends on the execution. some remakes turn out great, some are awful, and with some it truly depends on which one you saw first, or if you actually even liked the original much at all.

  21. 21 Sirey

    Any thing is better than Boys over flowers
    And shitty hunter an improvement of Ryo Saeba City Hunter? Nikki Larson? AigOooooooo

  22. 22 talen

    Thanks for your post javabeans. I have known of the manga and Japanese drama adaptation of Nodame Cantabile for a while now but some reason or other have neither read it nor watched it. So when Cantabile Tomorrow arrived I was quite enthusiastic, being a former (pretty crappy) piano player myself, I was ready for some classical music in my K-drama life. I have to say I really enjoyed the first two episodes. For me, the characters were fresh, different, strange, and I wanted to follow their journey.
    So when I began reading some very harsh criticisms of the show in comparison to the manga/ J-drama I was devastated, and had doubts about whether I should continue watching. Was it really that awful?? I regret reading those comments now and I still don’t understand why they influenced me so much. I did stop watching it, but I plan on returning to the drama again soon. I don’t care if it’s a measly comparison because I’ve nothing to compare it to. I’ll stop watching it if it just doesn’t interest me any more, not because Yoo-jin didn’t play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in this version or because Nae-il is portrayed as a ‘weirdo’. C’mon, Joo Won is pretty hot (shallow, I know). I understand the disappointment and frustration of adaptations/remakes that don’t meet people’s expectations but just leave it alone and let the rest of the audience make their own decisions. Ignorance is bliss as they say…

  23. 23 Marge



    • 23.1 harmonyfb

      That it is. I have no knowledge of the webtoon (though I may search it out later), but the show is fantastic (and very often difficult to watch.)

    • 23.2 lenrasoon

      YES and i love all the characters so much especially Chief Oh.

    • 23.3 damiann

      I’m liking Misaeng so frigging much.

    • 23.4 kdramas

      When Geu-rae sheds that lone tear in E7… my reaction was visceral to it!! *tears up again*

    • 23.5 Cocoboo

      Misaeng has been in the back of my mind, but I haven’t felt the real urge to see it. After reading this thread though, I think I’ll have to give it a chance real soon.

    • 23.6 Marge

      What bothers me is that they haven’t made an english translation for the webtoon. I’m dying to read it.

      I feel as though I’m not a genuine fan since i haven’t read that comic. *dies a little inside* but I suppose many of the fans haven’t read it yet?…… at the least the ones who don’t live in Korea 🙁

  24. 24 Plus 9

    Misaeng already break the 5% rating. One of the best drama this year. Misaeng Fighting!!!!!

    • 24.1 lenrasoon

      I was so happy when i saw the ratings, totally deserved. It’s the first TvN hit drama since Emergency Couple right?

      • 24.1.1 Muenchabench

        I’m think High School King of Savvy was a modest hit (between 2-3 %) but nothing like Misaengs numbers.

        I for one, wouldn’t mind reaching Answer Me 94 numbers. because I really love when the most popular something is also the best, (Only example I can think of is the Host at the top spot of box office grosses)

        • Marge

          High school King of Savvy is still one of my favs, the show was good for the heart. Sure, it deserves more attention and appreciation but the noise but rather satisfactory, I’d rather it didn’t go unnoticed.

          Perhaps, it’s one of the reasons why I’m becoming a TvN fan. Their shows are quite set apart from what’s usually seen in kdrama, the execution even is fantastic- plus the cast aren’t as popular as one would expect them to be, which is good.

          It’s drama but the actors/character’s potrayal often feels genuine. Misaeng’s one of the best series I’ve seen so far as I am quite picky with the shows I watch. The beauty and profound elements reminds of japanese drama, but this one is less dark and much more elevating. It makes empathise with the character, because it reminds you of yourself and the people you know, it’s mirrors humanity and life in it self.

          ;_; hands down for Misaeng.

    • 24.2 tweetpandora

      I second that, it is such a brilliant show, one of the best this year

  25. 25 Jenny

    I don’t mind remakes, sometimes I even tend to enjoy the remake just as much or even more then the original.
    I quite preferred the supporting characters in the kdrama adaptation of haken no hinkaku compared to the original.
    Something that surprised me in the beginning was just how much Japanese popular culture was adapted especially considering that it was banned in SKorea until recently.

    Talking about Nodame I was very carefully optimistic, not a fan of Joo Won but I adore SEK so I was psyched when she was cast as Nodame/Nae Il but somehow I’m not connecting to the kdrama version as I did with the original. I guess I just fell in love with the Jdorama characters (Mine <3 because I adore Eita and I'm so happy that he's become so successful)
    BOF was horrendous, HYD was actually my very first dorama that I watched and the remake could have been great (being a hit doesn't make it great) but Tsukushi could have wiped the floor with Jan Di.
    Hanakimi also comes to mind, a fun manga about a girl pretending to be a boy could have been great but the kdrama was turned into a angstfest. Not that the jdorama version remake with Maeda Atsuko was a good idea either and got panned.
    Liar Game haven't seen the jdorama and didn't care about the kdrama version. Even Matsuda Shouta couldn't make me watch it.
    Misaeng I've been enjoying it because it's quite different then most kdramas. It almost has a jdorama feel to it.
    Interestingly there's been very little remakes from kdrama to jdorama, (only 3 come to mind) but then kdrama's aired in Japan are viewed by older women. It would be interesting to see more adaptations like that.

    • 25.1 atz

      First Hanakimi is far better than the second version. From the drama, many back -then- not- so- famous actors turned into popular actors. The jokes are also very funny.

      BOF Korean version could have lead a different ending with Jan Di and other guy. They had better screen presence together.

  26. 26 Growingbeautifully

    It’s easier said than done, but I feel that if we go into any drama, we need to take it on it’s own merits first and give every drama a fair chance, before we compare.

    For the greatest possibility of enjoyment of any show, it is best (although not easy) to put aside as much prejudice, pre-conceptions and expectations as possible.

    Rather than give up a show before it ends, I’d like to give it a fighting chance to see if in the end I actually enjoyed it. Then whether it was better or worse or just different from the previous/original will matter less because I actually had a good time. If it was lousy, then it was lousy whether or not it is comparably bad or good.

    To give the producers their due, not all are out only to make a quick buck, but many really do want to entertain, to please their audiences and to keep their support. And there are many writers, (some perhaps even among us commentators), who feel that they could re-write or explore a a theme or scene in a more interesting way. I’d like to give them a chance, rather than put up a mental block, which precludes my ability to enjoy the show.

  27. 27 museofmanymasks

    ohh yay I’ve been wanting to talk about this but not enough to brave angry die-hards. I keep reading comments like “Korean writers ran out of ideas” (and often accusations of plagiarism in regard to any non-asian books/movies/ et. all which while I get it *looking at you king’s face* strike me wrong because umm duh an industry this big is gonna have to go through the right channels!) I was definitely thinking the same, that there is nothing new under the sun so the way some people talk we might as well not make anything (esp when it comes to romance because boy meets girl is the same pattern every time, even if you substitute it for boy meets boy or girl meets alien).

    I’m learning first hand that adaptions do not necessarily make writing any easier; it is in a sense to just start from scratch. *nervous chuckle*

    I had no idea certain things were adaptions, and yea some of these did very well. Overall my opinion is taken case by case. I don’t really read mangas/manhwas and I just started watching jdramas so I miss a lot of the comparisons. The ones I have seen: I watched the j-version of Nodame in prep and while I liked it I preferred the anime. I dropped the k-version because of time and was gonna read recaps and pick it up later but all the circular and childish arguments kinda killed my enthusiasm. Liar Game I only watched the first season of the original and got stuck. I liked the games and the shadowy-ness but was otherwise unattached and somewhat annoyed. In the k-version I like piecing the differences together but the games don’t have the same punch the second time around. Shin Sung-rok and Jo Jae-yun are my favorite characters while I’m more ambivalent to the leads’. At any rate thank you JB for addressing the elephant in the room!

  28. 28 blnmom

    Yes, I’m not sure what the problem is. If you don’t like a remake, DON’T WATCH IT, and for the love of all that is good, please stop commenting, episode after episode. JB’s annoying party guest scenario is spot on.

    • 28.1 lenrasoon

      MTE i stop reading the comments here (of Liar Game and Cantabile Tomorrow) because of this, it sucks all the fun.

      • 28.1.1 Emmy

        Maybe I should do that too.

        I love reading comments at dramabeans because it is so entertaining for me to read what other viewers have to say, and most of the time, it is a place where I find insightful comments with constructive criticism.

        Cantabile Tomorrow’s comments section is just depressing, and I sometimes get the feeling that some people are watching the drama just to find fault with it!

  29. 29 Ivoire

    Is there a Hollywood version of “Oldboy” and of “My Sassy Girl?” JB did not give any titles, so I was wondering about that (like “The Lake House” for “Il Mare”, for example).

    • 29.1 museofmanymasks

      The title for Oldboy is the same. Spike Lee directed. I think My Sassy Girl’s title is the same too but I’m not sure.

      • 29.1.1 Ivoire

        Oh OK, and thanks!

    • 29.2 Ivoire

      Also, JB mentioned this, ” Fated To Love You also had a funny trajectory in that the Chinese drama was wildly popular at home, and then the Korean remake was successfully exported back to China, where it enjoyed a fresh wave of popularity.”

      Did FTLY have a Chinese version? I thought that until the K. version came out, the only other version was Taiwanese?

      • 29.2.1 tweetpandora

        I think it might have been a slip of the tongue or different political view of Taiwan. The Taiwanese version was popular in china…

        • Ivoire

          I see… Thank you!

        • javabeans

          Oh no, that was entirely my error, I meant nothing political by it! I completely respect the differences between Taiwanese and Chinese dramas; I’ve fixed the article!

          • tweetpandora

            I thought so 😉

          • Ivoire

            OK, I see…

  30. 30 Thursdaynexxt

    I freely admit that I’m more attached to certain versions of shows than others, and have aired those views here and there! However, ultimately, an awesome remake will gain its own fans no matter what, and even a so-so remake can still be forgettably entertaining.

    At the end of the day, I’m certainly not into kdramas because of their originality – I enjoy them partly because of the same stereotyped characters and familiar tropes and re-used plots. (Although I agree that after the 10th remake or so of Pride & Prejudice or Titanic, the criticism and comparisons probably get less heated – they become just another well-worn plot, like Cinderella or The Little Mermaid.)

    If I don’t enjoy the show, well, I guess I’ll just have to try and stick to the old proverb, “if you can’t say something nice…”. Plus, I can spend more time watching stuff I like (it’s hard enough to keep up with the drama mill!) instead of dwelling on spilt milk. What’s aired cannot be un-aired, after all!

    • 30.1 tweetpandora

      I agree with you, I don’t comment on shows I don’t like much cause I will just stop watching them. But I find it strange that for some reason JB has decided to ‘defend’ Cantabile Tomorrow when other shows the majority of DB readers didn’t like similarly used to get panned by readers and JB herself sometimes….(i.e. Lie to Me, Heirs and Level 7….) So I find this article a bit…. I don’t know strange.

      • 30.1.1 jessica

        i agree, a lot of fans of other dramas discussed here with a lot of negative comments (such as heirs, boys over flowers, etc), felt bad also because of all the negative comments.

        maybe javabeans wrote this article in part because of all of what happened with the other dramas and mostly because she loves tomorrow cantabile and would like people to at least attempt to be er, open-minded about it. i don’t know.

        it’s still strange though.

      • 30.1.2 javabeans

        Hm, interesting point. I think a key difference is the remake context here (which wasn’t in play for Lie To Me, Heirs, etc.). I see a meaningful difference between criticizing a drama for being bad at what it does (which is a type of discussion we encourage), and criticizing a drama for not being something else (as in, a different version of the show that made different creative decisions). I would actually love it if the critique on Cantabile were more focused on what its weaknesses are as its own entity, without reference to a separate drama that exists elsewhere. ‘Cause we’re here to talk about the drama that’s in front of us!

        • Thursdaynexxt

          That’s true, jb, and I also agree that endless harping/broken record on the same points adds little to the discussion either.

          In the case of remakes, though, I do find it really hard to refrain from comparisons if I’ve seen the other versions, since it’s the very (perceived) weaknesses in Remake X that make me remember the strengths of the Original, where they did such-and-such better (granted, this is the sticky point where “weakness”, “strength” and “better” are all very subjective terms!)

          I can only describe it as kind of like how parents compare their children sometimes, even though they’re different personalities and individuals – if that makes sense!

          But thanks for tackling the topic, jb – been wondering what your thoughts were on this!

  31. 31 Bex

    I’m usually really open to remakes as I always hope that they build on their source materials and open the characters and world up more. Remakes generally do this but sometimes they make choices that just don’t sit right with me, for instance having the illness in fated to love you, when that became the central theme and problem of the show I just couldn’t get on board because it seemed a like a lazy way to add in tropes.

  32. 32 lenrasoon

    I can’t believe people saying Liar Game isn’t good, I think it’s one of the cases that it’s better than the original story, and the lead characters aren’t annoying and the story feels more believable being a reality show with shady behind the scene dramas.

    One thing i hate about the remakes is the annoying fans who keeps harping on the work instead seeing with a open mind or just stop seeing at all if you hate it so much, the exact way Javabeans illustrated above.

    • 32.1 nana

      Agreed, one of the things that made the Queen’s Classroom watching experience enjoyable for me is that there wasn’t the usual annoying horde of fans comparing it to the j-version.

      • 32.1.1 jessica

        i didn’t watch queen’s classroom so i can’t comment. i heard though that there was a love line in korean version and she got married and er, that was really really strange coming from kaisefu no mita.

        mita the character (in my mind), will go on and help a different family so i couldn’t imagine her being tied down in any way.

        • nana

          I think you’re confusing it with The Suspicious Housekeeper (Kaseifu no Mita is the nanny one, right?) I actually didn’t watch that one past the fifth episode, so I don’t know if there was a loveline.

          • jessica

            you’re right. i was confused for a while. i don’t know why i mixed those two.

  33. 33 eny

    I’m not fan of a remake drama to drama or movie to movie because of one reason surprising factor is gone,that’s why i don’t like drama with similar plot too but there’s exception, it’s when i watch it because the previous version have interesting story but there’s something that i though lack in the previous version
    -Nodame contabile, i like the story but i hate the overate comedy so when i watch cantabile tomorrow i like it more,same thing to Nice guy(not a remake) i like the story but the acting doesn’t deep enough for me then i watch Queen of ambition with some similarity plot
    – Manga or novel adaptation is not a problem for me but with some deviation of the story sometimes i like the novel more, i read novel spoiler of empress ki, i like the novel version better.
    -Three musketeers is interesting novel adaptation the story deviate so much but i like it more than the original movie
    -Gaksital is the best korean drama i ever watch, doesn’t really know about the story in manga

  34. 34 IBELIS

    Overall remakes don’t really bother me, what I try to do is just enjoy. In the current Cantabile the only draw back for me is the female lead, she just doesn’t come off the same. I find her more irritating than quirky.

    Strangely I have the same problem with Liar Game, the female lead is so irritatingly selfless that she makes little to no sense at all. I don’t see her as kind and caring as much as thoughtless and foolish, because her choice’s don’t put just her at risk but others as well. So, I don’t like her.

    • 34.1 Bex

      iaaa this is my main problem with both of those dramas, also the kversion really could have benefitted from having it’s own games instead of copying the jversions.

  35. 35 DayDreamer

    I used to read a lot of manga and that led me to watch jdoramas which then led me to Tdramas and then finally Kdramas. One manga I especially enjoyed was Itazura Na Kiss. I watched the first Japanese adaption of it and found it very slapsticky. But it had intervals of heart that came from the manga so I liked it. Then I came across the Taiwanese version and that one blew my mind away. Like, it was sheer awesomeness. I watched it about ten times. It was so deeply beloved to me that when I heard there was a Korean version being made I did not even bother glancing at it because the Tversion was simply perfect. The fact that youtube commenters dismissed Playful Kiss as an awful remake delighted me. My favorite was still #1. Then came the second Japanese version and I also ignored that one. This one though was considered a better remake than all the other remakes except the taiwanese one. After finally putting a seven year distance between me and the the Tversion, I finally managed to watch the latest Japanese version and actually enjoyed it. No, I still find the Tversion better but I was able to enjoy the latter on its own merits.

    So moral of the story: fans of any version should create a mental distance from their favorite and look at a new version with an open mind. Even if it has to take years to do so.

    • 35.1 Bex

      iaaaaa itazura was what got me into dramas, the kversions wasn’t awful though now it’s ruined due to the lead’s scandal, but it certainly lacked chemistry and the female lead wasn’t as charming as the latest jversions lead.

  36. 36 OnAQIHMHigh

    Talking specifically in regards to j-drama to k-drama remakes, the main reason why I don’t like them is because the k-ver doesn’t retain the subtlety (and sometimes the acting quality) that was in the original. and I don’t think this is an invalid reason. I find k-dramas rarely ever have poignancy and that’s why I will purposely shift to watching j-dramas after a while.

    Another thing is that when they start deviating, a lot of plot holes start appearing because the story hasn’t been planned whereas if they follow the source material (with minor deviations), then there is a story to follow. I’m enjoying Liar Game but I do have to turn my mind off a little bit because the plot does have its flaws. If there weren’t other things that impressed me (i.e. side characters being more developed), I probably would not be able to watch it.

    Lastly, a lot of times the reason why adaptations are appreciated is because we can finally see the emotions/scenes we’ve been reading. But when the execution sucks or the scenes are changed too much, it becomes rather frustrating as a fan. Unfortunately there will be expectations – there was a reason the original was liked – and if those expectations keep getting broken (though it is easier to remember when they didn’t satisfy), I can see why people can be turned off from adaptations/remakes. Going beyond k-ent, I had a huge problem with Harry Potter because there were scenes I really wanted in the movies that never came up. (hp5 :'( )

    • 36.1 Joy

      I second your comment on Harry Potter which made me vastly disappointed from the 1st movie installment.

    • 36.2 jessica

      i love the harry potter books, but i’m also okay with the movies.

      there are some scenes though that i wish made it to the films, which i felt were important. but then the movies, the latter ones, are already long enough so, i don’t know.

      i do like ron weasley’s line about hermione sorting out her priorities when she said “we could have died, or worse, expelled”. i think hermione has a similar line in the book, but ron’s line in the movie was not in the book. ron’s line was really funny to me.

      as an aside, i have a friend who loves harry potter books so much she collects it in different language editions. all 7 of them. and the extras.

      • 36.2.1 happymess

        LOL I totally remember that one line from Ron.

  37. 37 tweetpandora

    I always watch the source material before the remake where I can and even try to read the Manga’s (time permitting) I feel like I want to honour the original source before seeing a remade version, which I think is less effort than coming up with the original story, even if the execution/getting it right can be more tricky. I really dislike remakes of recent material, I have nothing against adaptations tho. I really dislike big deviations from the original, the story often loses me at those points, case in point Fated to Love You and the change in the reason why they broke up, the rest of the show for the Korean one just then felt like a big old we will suffer and be apart for absolutely no reason. In the Taiwanese version it was clear why they had to part and why they took time to get back back together. I think redoing Nodame what just a big mistake and I am not surprised that they got it wrong, it would have been really difficult to transfer the humour to Korean media and it had to strong a cult following and its just too new, a lot of the ones with a strong cult following just fail (Playful kiss and for me Boys over flowers was just awful, I couldn’t even finish it…) This also applied for Korean media remade for Japan (case in point you are beautiful). I just finished Liar Game and will check out the Korean version when it ends. All in all I am a fan of adaptations, but definitely not of remakes, they hardly get them equal or better than the original source material…and aggravate me soooo badly in the process Grrrr

  38. 38 liz

    The problem is not the original, but their bias for the actor who played the role. They just can’t accept someone else. Since I don’t watch much Jdramas I don’t have an actor bias, and when I watch a drama without knowing who the actor is, I can see he for who he is, his acting not his hotness or looks.

    So many j-actors who can’t act at all but people says the drama and actor was the best than the kdrama.

    Hana Yori dango – the manga was a mess, too long and it was never a masterpiece. Fun but not something else like fans claim. The j-drama also not that good and the kdrama also didn’t do good. But fans love to say the jdrama is the best ever and etc. Ugh.

    I really dislike “the jdramas/original will always be the best”

    Like, I watched Kdrama “Queen of classroom” and really liked it, people said the jdrama was better and I went to watch it, to have fun all over again. What I ended seeing was bad camera works, and the kids acting wasn’t that good. I prefer the kdrama, but the fans of the jdrama just refuse to admit anything about the kdrama is better.

    Or lets talk about Proposal Daisakusen, the jdrama dragged – the acting was BAD, the main actor just can’t act to save his life, the main couple didn’t have much chemistry… and what Jdrama fans say? The jdrama was the best! The actors were better! What?

    I admit the kdrama dragged and had too many episodes. But I liked it better because it had different plots than the original. Both dramas dragged, but to say Jdramas was better? I disagree, It got really repetitive and it had less episodes than kdrama ver.

    Also the acting is better in the kdrama imo. The main couple had more chemistry too.

    • 38.1 jessica

      maybe you watch dramas based on actors but not all people do. for some, the plot is more important.

      for korean dramas, i watch mainly for the plot. it has to be interesting to me enough to even check out the first episodes.

      the lead characters in operation proposal are good actors but they are wasted on the awful plot and characterization.

      proposal daisakusen (the japanese version) may have less skilled actors but the plot and characterization was better.

      also, if you’re used to watching one kind of dramas, it may be difficult to get into other dramas because it’s different especially acting-wise.

      japanese dramas are more subdued and very subtle in terms of acting, compared to korean dramas and taiwanese dramas. korean dramas are big on gestures/facial expressions, and taiwanese dramas too but in a different sense.

      i think it depends on what dramas you prefer/identify with, of course you’ll like that more. i can generally identify with japanese dramas but i also watch and like a lot of korean dramas, and there have been several taiwanese dramas that i also like, and i’ve recently come across a chinese drama (from mainland china) that i love entitled “boss & me” or “shan shan, come and eat” so i mean consider checking out more chinese dramas even.

      • 38.1.1 anastassia

        Well said and I agreed on you of Japanese dramas!

    • 38.2 anastassia

      I disagree on your take about Japanese drama can’t act. Many can’t relate the subtlety and nuance of Japanese dramas because Kdramas actors and themes is melo, overacting etc. But Japanese dramas is more slapstick, comedic and funny.

      • 38.2.1 anastassia

        And they are NATURAL. LOVE them

      • 38.2.2 liz

        I disagree, there is a difference. The guy from proposital daisuken just can’t act. I watched other dramas with him.

        I do enjoy subtle acting, I prefer it than overacting.

        But some jdramas actors are just there for looks and no acting. Really no emotion at all. Same face in every scene.

        There is good jdramas actors, and I do like jdramas. But there are few. Jdramas are different but sometimes they ruin something good with some weird plot change that makes me hate it.
        Kdramas I can see it coming but some jdramas are just weird.

        The last jdrama I really enjoyed everything was Still, Life Goes On . Soredemo, Ikite Yuku

        • Steven

          Well, many J-drama watcher also say that the lead from Proposal Daisakusen can’t act. However, there are always actors and actresses that actually can’t act involved in any part of the world, including J and Kdramas. If you like Soredemo, Ikite Yuku, why don’t you look for other good Jdramas too? There are plenty of it.

  39. 39 maymay

    I have always wondered how I feel about remakes as a whole. For someone who has watched meteor garden,hanayori dango and boys over flowers (I still dunno how I did it), I enjoyed MG while it aired, loved HYD to bits, but was mildly bored by BOF. To enjoy a remake in different versions, I believe you have to have a certain appreciation of the underlying culture. Imho, the source material was japanese in this case so I felt a lot of the moments translated better in a jdorama, especially since I also read the manga. I think BOF was least appealing to me because by then the story was already way too repetitive for me and nothing else (ahem acting, Ost) elevated it much for my taste.

    And even if the story is good, a frame by frame reenactment is honestly plain boring. That is why I regretted watching Liar Games the jdorama in preparation for the kdrama version. It might not be an exact replica but for me, a lot of the good stuff comes from the interesting twists and I don’t think it could affect me as deeply as it did the first time. I still haven’t seen the kdrama version because I am hoping I’d forget about the details some time later and try again. I wouldn’t say the jdorama was perfect but the story kept me entranced until all I could do was finish watching all available episodes in a sitting. I do think the kdorama version should be able to improved on many of the caricature like characters but like I say jdoramas have always been quirky this way. I know because I am a manga/anime fan.

    Oh and I thought kversion of FTLY was very different from the original version. I actually liked both in this case. Well except the amnesia. Thats not different, just senseless. Lol.

    However I do agree that continual harping on the point for those who dislike a remake is pointless. I would just stay away until I feel like watching. Even if I do voice my concerns it wouldn’t be in all recapped episodes. Lol.

  40. 40 alias3

    Adaptations or remakes are seen as a potential money maker because the originals were successful. But many of them are tanked because they are not entertaining enough to majority of people except for minority of fangirls eg. Cantabile Tomorrow. They should be at least equal in quality or better otherwise be prepared to get crush and burn. I predicted TC was gonna be bad and it deliver.

  41. 41 cjt

    One small gripe and inaccuracy featured in the article: Fated to Love You (FTLY) was originally a Taiwanese drama. There is a major difference between dramas made within mainland China and those from Taiwan. The comparison is as considerable as saying Japanese dramas are the same as Korean dramas. When you say that FTLY was received well when it was exported back to China, I’m not sure if you meant Taiwan (its original home) or actually meant China (which was not its “home” to begin with).

    That being said, I have no doubts that FTLY the Korean version was well received internationally. Mostly because I felt the Korean version deviated from the story towards the latter half of the drama and the characters in the Korean versions were portrayed so differently (especially Jang Hyuk’s interpretation of the male lead) that FTLY could be viewed in a separate light from its original.

    I think when I view drama remakes and adaptations, I always take into consideration that it’s never going to stay exactly true to the original story and therefore, I can enjoy the remake and adaption on its own merits. However, in the case of the remakes such as Hana Yori Dango, and more recently Nodame Cantabile, I think the Korean remakes took away the magic of what makes the original so electrifying and brushed aside that vital element that made the original into a cult classic.

    I very much looked forward to the Korean remake of Nodame Cantabile especially because Korean dramas are known for exploring the characters’ motivations behind their actions more extensively and since I love all the characters within that world, I was eager to delve more into their internal inspirations and what-makes-them-do-the-things-they-do. I agree with you that the Korean remake set out to make the story more emotionally resonant, however, if it really did that in the end is another thing entirely. The execution of this was not fleshed out before the drama aired, which made watching Cantabile Tomorrow so hard for me. Because I was all for the vision behind what the Korean remake was trying to do with the story, but its execution definitely did not do it for me, mainly due to the fact that Shim Eun-kyung was trying to play on both the slapsticky charm of the Japanese version of the character as well as the trying to emotionally hook you into believing her as someone who belongs in the Cantabile Tomorrow world. I agree with you that both the heroines in Hana Yori Dango and Nodame Cantabile were considerably better in the Japanese versions. And I don’t want to lay blame entirely on Shim Eun-kyung’s performance because I did enjoy her in other works (I do believe she is a good actress), but I think the entirely of Cantabile Tomorrow’s world was not thought out entirely, for me to become attached. Joo-won’s protrayal of Yoo-jin I think is what makes me want to like the drama, however, pair that with the disjointedness of the characterization of Cantabile Tomorrow’s world,…

    • 41.1 cjt

      …, I can’t help but be disappointed by the Korean remake.

      (sigh, went just over the character limit)

    • 41.2 jessica

      yes, thank you for pointing this out.

      taiwanese and chinese dramas are very very different even though they are both chinese. it took a while for me to even find a chinese drama (from mainland china) that i like although i have been watching taiwanese dramas for a long while.

      taiwanese dramas also have a wide range, there’s the idol dramas, then there’s the romantic comedies with somewhat slapstick comedy (that are very popular all over asia), there’s the melodramas (autumn concerto), there’s the typical family dramas that are fun to watch but very very long.

      i loved the taiwenese version of fated to love you but the korean version didn’t do very much for me. i just can’t get into the acting and quirks of the male actor in the korean version.

      • 41.2.1 jessica

        oh, and this is coming from someone who is also not fond of the characterization and acting of the male lead in the taiwanese version.

        for some strange reason though, i can put up with ethan ruan so i can watch joe chen. unfortunately, i can’t do the same for jang hyuk and jang na ra.

  42. 42 Muenchabench

    Overall I agree that any adaptation should be judged on the merit of its own work. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was for my book purist friend to always lament how awful the movie is in everyway because it slightly deferred from the book.

    One exception may be these potential Kdramas coming to US network television. Earlier I wrote about the best Kdramas for American tv and also vice versa. From here I realized that its the American format that could cripple these remakes. For instance, who would want to see You Who Came from the Starts stretched out 80 hours (or become a more comedic show, in which it then becomes Mork and Mindy)

    Whereas looking at it the other way, I could totally see American shows like Veronica Mars or the Good Wife being adapted to K-Dramas even though they were multi-season shows.

    Even looking at K drama examples with a few too many episodes, it proves my point that concise, tight storytelling > a meandering hamster wheel that never ends.

  43. 43 Giegie

    I really don’t mind watching remakes and adaptations, and I always try to watch with an open mind. Comparison is inevitable but I keep in mind that the production team and actors of the original and the remake are different, and I would actually find it boring if the remake version will completely copy the source material.

  44. 44 Peeps

    Hmm, interesting topic.

    I basically only have one thing to say about this matter: There’s a reason the beloved dramas are held so dear. There must be one core aspect of a well-received drama that caused someone to fall in love with it. If a remake manages to keep that aspect, even if everything is different, I’m pretty sure that person at least majorly enjoy, even if he/she falls in love with it, too. The tricky part for any director is to recognise that core aspect and execute it. Making it worse, each person has a different reason for falling in love with that drama.

    For example, I really didn’t like the first few episodes of Tomorrow Cantabile because Naeil was, simply put, a one dimensional weirdo-brat. There really wasn’t much to her. The reason I adored Nodame Cantabile was because it was a story about a group of people (especially a certain two who basically pulled each other up), overcoming the uncertainties of youth, braving their fears, and I especially loved how Nodame adored the piano even while she sometimes got scared of it. She inspired me to take up the piano again! She was somebody who was somebody even without Chiaki. So initially, I didn’t like Naeil. But in a later episode, she suddenly got a lot more interesting, just with a simple revelation that made her seem human again and I was on board with the drama, different as it may be.

    • 44.1 Rossi

      “There’s a reason the beloved dramas are held so dear. There must be one core aspect of a well-received drama that caused someone to fall in love with it. If a remake manages to keep that aspect, even if everything is different, I’m pretty sure that person at least majorly enjoy, even if he/she falls in love with it, too. ” THIS! ….your very much on point comment about how there’s always a core to a drama that caused it to be loved and that it’s this core that most be transplanted to a remake is the reason why so many remake fail in my opinion. For example, I love HYD because I love the characterization of the female protagonist and BOF failed on its heroine on so many level.

      My main beef with a Kdrama remake of a Jdrama,as mentioned by another person up thread, is that the characterization for the female lead tend to get shafted for the male ones’. For me, while I can tolerate a stupid male lead so some degrees, I just can’t do it when it comes to beloved female characters because honestly, we get few of them as is on the Asian drama landscape.

  45. 45 glitzmadrb

    I’m with you Javabeans. I do not really believe that the adaptation/remake should be the same with the original. I actually give more credit to remakes that deviate from the original; it takes guts to do that knowing that they will be criticized by the original’s fanbase. Like you’ve said, it’s all about the execution (and a little bit of casting also I think) to make it better than the original. The soundtrack is a factor too, it gives that additional oomph in the remake.

    Like Cantabile, I am a HUGE fan of the original, but I’m also LOVIN’ the Korean version. Comparing the two is inevitable, but I guess it would be boring if both were just the same, right?

    It’s my first time encountering Liar Game and Misaeng; I find both to be very entertaining. Particularly Misaeng, even if I am not Korean, I can relate my work life to the story.

    Therefore I conclude GO for adaptations/remakes! Making a remake stand out on its own is creative and challenging enough for it to be appreciated and encouraged.

  46. 46 Manong

    You hit it on the head when saying it’s all in the story and execution. There will always be those that are traditionalists that want a complete reiteration of the original. And when a remake is too on the nose there will be those who complain that there is no novelty–sometimes, funnily enough, it’s the same person. To be personal; I like tomorrow’s cantabile but do not understand the popularity of boy’s over flowers. It just seemed like a travel video.

  47. 47 Joy

    My personal experience with watching remakes ranked:
    1) Nodame Cantabile – Jdrama wins (both leads were awesomely kawaii and kakkoii; surprisingly TC got interesting since my SLS for Yoon Hoo kicked in)
    2) Jin – Jdrama wins (why do Koreans need to add romance into every drama?)
    3) Haken no Hinkaky – Jdrama wins (Shinohara Ryoko rocks as my fav actress)
    4) Liar Game – Jdrama wins but Kdrama is good too (i hate maths but jdrama made me pause every episode when they explain their intriguing calculations)
    5) Fated To Love You – Tie (Double Jangs are much better actors and Jang Nara’s characterization portrayal is excellent)
    6) Witch’s Romance – Tie (Ethan Ruan’s much hotter than Park Seo Joon but kdrama is less draggy)
    7) Hana Kimi – Tie (tdrama got me started in reading mangas; jdrama introduced me to Ikuta Toma who at that time looked like mini-Chiaki to me)
    8) Itazura na Kiss – Kdrama wins (preferred Hani over Xiang Qin, Mischievous Kiss is great too but i loved Hani’s spunkiness)
    9) Zettai Kareshi – Jdrama wins (I want to buy Mokomichi chocolicious body)
    10) Hana Yori Dango – Jdrama wins (Meteor Garden too passe, Geum Jan Di’s acting got on my nerves, Makino was just right)

    Although i watch tons more kdramas, but jdramas live action tend to win due to its tighter story direction within 10 episodes eliminating unnecessary fillers.

    Some possible kdrama remakes:
    1) Rich Man Poor Woman – selfmade IT chaebol romance
    2) Anego – noona romance
    3) Queen’s (至尊玻璃鞋) – noona romance
    4) Satorare – noona romance
    5) The Fierce Wife (犀利人妻) – simply wow
    6) Big Wife Little Husband (真愛找麻煩) – noona romance
    7) Hataraki Man – noona romance
    8) La Corda D’Oro – music and reverse harem
    9) Hotaru no Hikari – hilarious female centric live action
    10) Inborn Pair (真愛找麻煩) – contract marriage

    • 47.1 Liv

      1) Rich Man Poor Woman

      I actually don’t think this would be a very good kdrama remake, mostly because I believe j-doramas handle workplace drama much better. That is, the drama of work itself not the human/personality aspect. That said, I have not yet seen any of Misaeng, so maybe I’ll change my mind.

      The other problem would be trying to find a replacement for Oguri Shun (swoon)

      2) Anego

      There already is a Korean adaptation – Dal Ja’s Spring. A lot of fun to watch, but a totally different viewing experience

      9) Hotaru no Hikari

      But but…half of the fun in watching HnH is listening to Ayase Haruka say (/wail) “Buchoooouuuuu”.

      Then again, those 3 are amongst my favorite doramas, so maybe I just don’t want them touched… 😉

    • 47.2 ultramarineblue

      I just want to say thank you for the list because now I have more Jdramas I can check out 😀

  48. 48 LoveLoveLove

    So, I have watched both J-drama of Cantabile Tomorrow and Liar Game. I loved both of them so i was really exited when the news hit earlier this year for the k-drama remake. Now i am watching both of them and I love both of them.

    As For Cantabile Tomorrow, I loved how Yoo-jin’s character is toned down a bit from Chiaki’s character. to me J version is more like the manga and K version is more drama, lively and more realistic to life. I have to agree with certain criticism Nodame(Nae Il) character is receiving however it is not the actresses fault, the production wanted to perpetrate Nae Il how she is in the drama not the actress.

    The Liar Game, I actually like the K version because we get to see the game as if it is reality show hence also really realistic, and I liked the way So Eun actually carried money to her house in the beginning show a little bit of greed, where as j version is like returning 25 cent back to police. Also I like that we see the game host all the time makes the conflict more present. to me j version is more about the games and k version is more about the story of what happened to professors mom and so eun’s dad.

  49. 49 Sajen

    I don’t mind adaptations at all I mean if I did I wouldn’t be able to watch anything as it seems like 90% of the movies Hollywood makes are adaptations, and something like 95% of anime are adaptations. Some of my favorite movies are adaptations Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, the original Let the Right One In.

    In fact there are things that I would love to see adapted like I’d love to see live action adaptations of anything by Urasawa Naoki. Which ok there are three decent movies of his 20’th Century Boys and a wonderful anime of Monster. But you know I’d still really like to see a live action adaptation of all his work, of course his work really requires a multi season big budget format like what HBO does so most likely it will never happen.

    Remakes on the other hand I despise as they always fall short. Take for instance Let Me In the Hollywood remake of Let the Right One In. They pretty much copied the original scene for scene camera angle for camera angle and it still turned out to be a steaming pile of crap. Not sure how they managed that, must be a talent.

    • 49.1 Jenny

      Monster will be made, apparently Guillermo del Toro is in charge of it and there’s been a lot of talks with the mangaka himself.

  50. 50 Lisa

    Enjoyed this article and how it opened a platform to discuss adaptations/remakes. I tend to keep an open mind whether or not I’ve read the source material (manga/novel) or watched the first adaptation/subsequent remakes (drama/movie). Most of the time, if I’m already familiar with the story, I’m just curious at how the adaption/remake will interpret it.

    Usually, my initial exposure would be K-dramas or T-dramas because that’s what I watch. I don’t tend to watch J-dramas/anime or read manga, but if I like the plot, then I will be curious enough about the original story to read the manga. The reason for backtracking the manga before watching more remakes is to know the author’s intention and how it carried over into drama/anime. (For English books that get adapted to movies, I always try to read the book first before deciding if I want to see the movie. For Chinese kung fu or other books, I’d watch the dramas if they’re famous and sometimes go back to read the books if I like the dramas enough.)

    Hana Yori Dango: Started with Boys Over Flowers cuz of Kim Hyun Joong and that was all the buzz in 2009 when I went to Korea. I liked the story and characters. Then, I read the manga before watching Meteor Garden I & II and Hana Yori Dango. I even watched the China remake, Let’s Watch the Meteor Shower I & II. I think all 4 versions had their strengths and I ended up enjoying them all. U.S. remake was a complete disaster. I don’t think some stories transcend the cultural border all that well. It just feels different and awkward.

    Hanazakari no Kimitachi e: Watched T-drama first and liked the story. Decided to read the manga and check out To The Beautiful You. The K-version was mostly eye candy, so I enjoyed the T-version more though that ending was a little silly. Don’t think I watched J-version.

    Itazura na Kiss: Knew that It Started with a Kiss I & II were classics, so I watched them first. Totally loved the story and characters. Then, I read the manga, watched the anime, saw Mischievous/Playful Kiss, the old J-version, new J-version Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo, and currently waiting for Season 2 of this latest version. K-version had some changes that I felt were out of place, but I didn’t mind it overall. Old J-version was very strange to me, and I didn’t like it much. New J-version was a lot better and I got introduced to Yuki Furukawa, whose performance I really enjoyed.

    You’re Beautiful: Totally loved the story and characters for the K-version, which led me to watch the T-version and J-version. I liked the T-version remake more.

    Fated to Love You: Found out it was gonna be remade as K-drama, so I went to watch T-drama since it’s supposed to be a classic with all-time highest ratings. I was pleasantly surprised by the K-version because it veered off from the T-version but not in a bad way. I really enjoyed the Jang duo’s performance and the plot kept me guessing what was gonna happen next since the…

    • 50.1 Lisa

      (continued) since the trajectory was quite different from T-version as the plot progressed.

      Nodame Cantabile: Currently watching Cantabile Tomorrow because I was curious about this drama from all the hype about this story and I like music-related plots. Plus, I wanted to see Joo Won, who somehow reminds me of Yuki Furukawa, and the way the hero would treat the heroine gruffly. Heehee… I’m liking this K-version so far and feeling a connection with the characters as they show growth. Maybe since I haven’t watched J-version, I don’t have anything to compare to and can’t really understand why this remake is getting bashed on (much more so than usual in terms of remakes). In any case, I watch what I want to watch and don’t get swayed based on public opinion. Now, I’m reading the manga so I can see how the interpretation for this K-version will be done. Then, I’ll go watch the J-drama just cuz I’m curious and maybe I’ll check out the movies/anime later. =)

      The Three Musketeers: Only slightly familiar with the classic since I haven’t read it, but the K-drama did a phenomenal job of using it to make a storyline with Korean historical backdrop. The actors did a fantastic job and I can’t wait for Parts 2-3.

      You From Another Star: Completely love this K-drama and weary how the U.S. version will turn out.

      Sungkyunkwan Scandal/The Moon That Embraces The Sun: Enjoyed both dramas, the former a bit more than the latter. Won’t be reading the original stories, but I liked the character portrayals. A lot of times, I just choose to watch dramas for the actors (e.g., Park Yu Chun and Kim Soo Hyun XD) because there are just so many dramas out there and I can’t watch them all. LOL

      Autumn Fairy Tale: Really liked this classic and enjoyed the performances of the adult actors and their children counterparts. Actually watched the China remake, which followed very closely to the K-drama. The original was better, but the remake wasn’t bad.

      From those dramas highlighted in this article, I’m planning to watch these sometime: Misaeng, Good Doctor, Gaksital, Liar Game. Will probably just stick with the K-dramas rather than going back to the source material or J-version, if there’s one. I think I tend to like watching K-dramas more than J-dramas because I’m a little more familiar with the actors. I also enjoy T-dramas since I don’t need subtitles and I usually like the way that the stories are brought to life. ^^

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