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[Changing Tastes] Understanding that things get complicated


Goong

By @since2006

When I was a teenager I was a bit rigid—a wet blanket, a stick in the mud, a know-it-all, Hermione from the first half of the first Harry Potter book, essentially. Right was right and wrong was wrong and people playing around in the middle were indecisive and morally weak (…I know). So when dramas had love triangles what went on for too long, or had characters that made choices that they knew were wrong, I would lose interest. How could I respect a character who had to make a hard choice and choose wrong?

The first dramas I watched were Nobuta wo Produce and Kimi wa Petto, which of course had conflict and character growth moments, but the characters always chose right. Pick your friends over meaningless coolness, pick the boy who loves you over status, and so on.

The first Korean drama I watched was Goong. I think that drama wore me out in the latter half because of recycled conflicts and stubborn character writing in general, but also because I couldn’t understand the conflict at all. You like each other or you don’t. You tell each other or you shut up. Be decisive.

I tried My Name Is Kim Sam-soon and Coffee Prince next and they went entirely over my immature head.


Coffee Prince

I stuck to lovely dramas that I still like, like You’re Beautiful and My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho because I could understand those conflicts better. They were motivated by outside factors. You’re Beautiful was a gender-bender like Coffee Prince, but Coffee Prince was driven by internal conflict that I couldn’t grasp (Do you like him/her or not? Why the bleeding hell was she not telling him that she’s a girl? Why all the crying? Gah!), while You’re Beautiful was driven by outside conflict (people interfering, threats made, stupid family history) which could be frustrating in its own way, but I could understand it.

Then life came ’round, as it does, and kicked me in the shin, poked me in the eye, slapped me on the back of my head, and told me that I don’t know crap. And life was right, as it usually is. People took on layers, right was mixed with wrong, wrong was mixed with right. There were no clear answers, no truths to make things easier, no absolute right option hiding behind a bush that if I could just sit still and wait long enough, would present itself to me like a rabbit to a zen hunter.

Then my drama watching experience changed.

Those internal conflicts I found so galling and tedious before became necessary for me to really feel a drama knew what it was doing. Dramas like My Name Is Kim Sam-soon and Coffee Prince were rewatched with new eyes and appreciated with a slightly bruised but bigger heart.


School 2013

School 2013 about did me in. In the past I would have grumbled about a lost friendship, about the lack of communication and stubbornness, but the older me empathized with the sadness of things left unsaid.

In shows like Two Weeks, it was no longer the chases with the cops, or the outmaneuvering of the bad guys, or Lee Jun-ki that got me the most (though I definitely enjoyed those things, don’t get me wrong)—it was all that regret. It was his wanting to fix things, to at least do one thing right. It was all the things he did wrong the first time, like when he tried to get his girlfriend to have an abortion, that grabbed my interest.

In a way, the changes in my drama-watching were a reflection of me in general. When life made me grow up a bit, it brought me a lot of pain, but it also brought me depth of insight and empathy for people in hard places that I truly believe has made me a better person. And a better drama watcher.

If all storytelling, however farfetched and out there it may be, is telling the story of people, then my changing tastes allowed me to truly see stories that I would have missed. The real story in between all the chaebols and mergers and amnesia and convoluted meet-cutes. The story of people making choices the best they can, mistakes and emotions all included.


Two Weeks

 
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Lol! It only hit me in the head just now! I have always wondered why two of my favorite gender-bender dramas basically the same yet so different. Its internal and external conflicts! I guess I'm getting old and senile. But thanks for the clarification.

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You're Beautiful get mentioned a lot in the theme of the months. Is that a sign that I have to rewatch it? ? Any excuse to rewatch TaeKyung and MiNam.
If only I have a lot of hours in a day to spare.

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Thanks for sharing! Its a lovely post, @since2006!

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Whenever I miss Tae Kyung I go back to this scene (somehow I'm the only one laughing when I show it to other people): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqfHh-HZCN4

By the way, I didn't like Coffee Prince for the same reason as @since2006 (communicate people!) so I appreciated that in You're Beautiful the conflict was about keeping her secret from others rather than from each other.

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Omg that scene is the best! ? TaeKyung's cluelessness at first them his hilarious reaction to the pig chasing him. ?
I like both but You're Beautiful is much more fun to rewatch.

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It's the internal vs external conflict that makes me prefer the Korean version of Liar Game to the Japanese version even though lots of people said the Japanese one was better. People back stabbing and betraying for their own greed speaks to me more than people being puppets of an underground organization. It's also why I am more forgiving of some "noble idiocy" than others. It's much more than whether they love each other, it's about how much they are willing to risk for the love that they know. Sometimes, it's whether they are brave enough.

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Lovely post! I too am undergoing a transition phase now, going for the "meatier" stuff as it were. Before this year, I would've never touched shows like Perfect Wife, for example, it seemed too adult-like and sophisticated and mature for me. I also used to hate seeing people on my screen getting too caught up in their struggles and fumbling and making too many (I thought) mistakes. I hated when they made "wrong" choices. I tended to romanticize things too much and expected dramas to do the same. But that's a part of growing up for me haha.

The story of people making choices the best they can, mistakes and emotions all included. Perfect summary, this line! Drama heroes and heroines may end up happier or sadder, but always wiser at the end, and ultimately, that's the goal I hope for too.

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Can I say how much I enjoyed reading this post? So true to life and resonates with me too. Reel life does mirror real life, and as we grow older and hopefully wiser and less judgemental, we will be able to appreciate the nuances of emotions, thoughts and choices made by characters on the screen.
Empathy for others can be learned, and what better teacher sometimes than Life itself. May we drama watchers become better people in real life, not just spectators on the side criticising others (on and off screen), but seeking to embrace and understand the universality of human nature across the seas, knowing that tears and laughter, sorrow and joy afflict us all in different measures at various phases of our journey on this earth.
So my little homework after this... I am going to start thinking of the dramas that didn't make sense to me when I was younger and maybe rewatch it again to see how being older gives me a new perspective!

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I love love LOVE your submission. A wonderful description of adolescent rigidity, which I relate to deeply, and a gorgeous writing style which I envy much more deeply! Thanks!

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This is fantastic. As I wrote in my post, sometimes it's not the dramas that need to change, but our perspective on them, but I think that's one reason dramaland is such a rewarding place to go. Wherever we are on the road to maturity, there's something to speak to us right where we are--and something waiting for us when we get to the next step in our life's journey. Very well said, @since2006

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Now I think probably everyone got wore off by the second half of goong.... I still can't wrap my head around it.

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Great post @since2006. Growing older does make a difference in one's perspective and it definitely made me more patient, more fore-bearing, even, dare I say, more humble. I can understand what it is to make mistakes, to feel horrible about it, to have hurt others and gotten hurt and to not want to repeat all those faults and errors. When I see it happening with others, I know that being young, they will refuse to be told, but I hope that they will learn from experience, but not too harshly.

My very first drama was Goong which I just loved unconditionally and re-watched maybe 10 times, just for the moments when Shin and Chae Kyung were together. Now if I watch it again, I will perhaps be more impatient over the length of the show and the number of times Chae Kyung didn't get to spend time with Shin, (due more often to external factors). I'd also be watching it with a lot more analysis going on and a critic in my mind, something that I never had accompanying my drama watching before. This is thanks, mainly, to DB btw!

I will have become a lot more forgiving of the characters but much less so over the production. And now, an additional criterion has been added to increase my viewing pleasure, although it makes fewer shows mindlessly fun to watch, and that is the opportunity to critique a show and to not find it wanting, (well, at least not entirely wanting!!!). ?

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I feel exactly like you. I watched Full House, and Goong and lie to me, and protect the lady (I think that is the proper name) with a voracity and eagerness that i would have repeated if there would have been not other dramas on the line or simply less time because i was in college again. Now, some few 3 years later i would not rewatch those shows at all. And if i would, then it would be under the evil eye of the critic... thanks DB!!!! LOL...

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Great post! ?? Totally believe that changes in taste definitely has something to do as we grow up.

I know the second half of Goong went waywire but the OST played a big part in me that it has that special place.

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Recently I re-watch Goong and only realized that they have such beautiful instrumental bgm, I couldn't get them in 2006 because internet was such a rare thing back then. So I just downloaded all of them and have been replaying it for days along with Rebel OST on my phone XD

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Besides a personal taste of liking a certain genre over others, perspective and expectations are the two determining factors in whether I will like it. I only started dramas several years ago but I have learned to go in with middle of the road expectations and since I'm of a certain age, I find I just go with the flow so much more than myself of years gone by. I will say with Coffee Prince, I have always put down her not really having a super good reason for not telling him to lazy writing and just go on and enjoy the drama. If I don't do this on occasion, I think I'd miss out on some otherwise solid shows and culturally I realize I don't always get what is going on though I've learned a lot over the years.

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Thanks for the post, it was a lot of fun to read! I don't think I will ever outgrow You're Beautiful. In fact, my thirst for wacky comedy pretty much started there and has only increased.

On the other hand, I do agree that growing up makes me want to relate to internal conflicts. To an extent. I must be the only beanie who didn't like Coffee Prince and I still dislike overly dramatic internal conflicts as found in rom-coms (sageuks can hit me with everything they want, that's different). Lately I've been gravitating towards coming-of-age and slice-of-life dramas, which have poignant conflict balanced with comedy and hints of romance (it all started with School 2013 and Misaeng, then Drinking Solo, Chief Kim... Radiant Office is still on my list).

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I don't dislike Coffee Prince, but it isn't one of my favorites. I think coming to it late and after so many gender/benders it just didn't resonate with me like it did with so many others.

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I dropped it as I found the pacing to be too slow. I love slice of life too. Have you watched let's eat and age of youth? They're some of my favorites.

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I have Let's Eat on my list but need to stock up on some food before I sit down to watch it. I'm sure to be hungry XD

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Not a fan of Coffee Prince, either. The directing was good but not good enough to carry the writing/performances, and the ending killed whatever good will I had left for it.

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OooOo great post!
I can totally relate to this post. It actually had me recall a conversation where my mom looked at me with this face of resentment and annoyance telling me something along the lines of "Okay you know everything. It must be easy being you. Everything is so simple and you have all the answers right?." I don't remember what I said but I'm sure I was being a complete insensitive turd.
I might have been a unyielding jerk in my daily life but oddly enough my TV viewing was not effected by my attitude. Unlike your experience I would allow my writers and characters to get away with anything and I would still watch. Life too tossed me around and through the conflict, pain and confusion I learned so much more about how to be better at being human. I too am able to bring this new knowledge and sensitivity from my life into my drama watching. Watching drama's not only with my eyes but from my deeper well of experiences is satisfying in a bigger way.

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Finally!!! I couldn't have put into words what I felt with Coffee Prince and You're Beautiful, thank you for sharing that! Now I know. :)

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Oh, this was a great post about self-growth. Man the beanies are really hitting all these monthly themes out of the park I'm so impressed.

I have to admit though, during the first half I kept thinking to myself "okay but did she go back and re-watch Coffee Prince?" Lol, that answer was of utmost importance. I'm glad you were able to go back and rewatch dramas you'd originally written off and enjoyed them with a new perspective.

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The more miles life has put on me, the more generous I've become towards flawed characters - not to mention the actual people in my life, all of whom are, on some level, flawed. As are we all.

Only once we've been forced to make our own tough choices and bear out long-term consequences of our own stupidity can we respond with compassion in the face of others' flaws.

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And I meant to include a thanks for this post. It's spot on.

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Well said, you're very eloquent.
When I was young, I thought the world was black and white and that one should always do the right thing. As I have grown up, I've realised the world is shades of grey and that "the right thing" is subjective.
I now prefer my characters flawed and real, and I appreciate dramas that make me question myself and my opinions.

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Lovely post. So well written!

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Reading the changing tastes essays make me feel like I have joined a 'Korean drama appreciation literature club' XD. Which of course is a great place to be at! I am a more right is wrong, wrong is right kinda person too lol. So maybe that's the reason I resonate so much with Shin on Goong? All those times he couldn't say to Chae Kyung that he loves her, I totally understood how he felt, it is kind of hard to confess with all hearts how much someone means to you, no matter how easy it sounds by the book.

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Imagine there's a "LIKE" button for the post and that I hit it.

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That's an awesome idea!

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Beautiful beautiful post! So true

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Great post! So straightforward, so true!

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Thank you for sharing. Such a lovely post to read.

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Thank you.

Beautifully written. Light, breezy, funny and yet touching.

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I really like reading these changing taste articles xD
I relate to this one, too. Life hits and slaps me so hard, from those painful and meaningful experiences do I finally understands complexity of characters and that there is no absolute right and wrong.

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This. ❤️

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A really nice post!

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"Then life came ’round, as it does, and kicked me in the shin, poked me in the eye, slapped me on the back of my head, and told me that I don’t know crap. And life was right, as it usually is. People took on layers, right was mixed with wrong, wrong was mixed with right. "

>> Awwww, this! I love your write-up, really lovely and a treat to read. You wrote so eloquently how life and experience makes us all grow up and look at things differently: where motivations for choices and the journey towards them matter as much as results. Thanks for posting this! ♥

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You framed it perfectly @since2006 ... life gets complicated.
I was like this too. In the beginning , right and wrong looked so black and white. And I'd project that onto a drama. And then life happened and suddenly there were shades of grey. And from an initial rigid perspective, I grew to accept that these farfetched scenarious were not as off tangent as they seemed; there is always more than meets the eye , and I had to look carefully to find the real story of a person.

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I've just read your writing, I am so busy with the 'school stuff' that I barely have time to scroll on dramabeans, but I will always make time now because I need an escape. Well, like you I also have changing in my taste. I used to like romance sooo much, I watch every romance dramas despite it's realistic or not. But as I grow up, I (still) like romance, but if I find it 'too much' (Like doctors, I only watch 10 episodes because it's too much for me, and the Heirs, I stand it because of Woo Bin). I prefer something like Another Oh Hae Young, Age of Youth, Fight My Way, because it is more realistic for me. Now, I watch criminal dramas more (Like Voice, Tunnel, Signal, Criminal Minds) because I find it more appealing. It's not I don't watch romance again, I just find 'romance' that suit my taste.

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I miss Yoon Eun Hye so much.

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