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The ways we watch dramas

An often overlooked part of watching Korean dramas is the actual methods we use to watch them. Because many of us are international fans living outside of South Korea, there’s a smorgasbord of ways we can consume these dramas, whether we keep up with the show as it airs, or watch one that’s already aired in a frighteningly quick period of time (actual time withheld to protect the innocent).

But does how we watch a drama say something about the story? Is one particular method of watching better than another, or does the content of the drama dictate how we watch it? Let’s take a look at the many ways we watch.

I’m not sure how much my own introduction to dramas compares to others, but I did not start with live shows. I watched shows that were a few years old even back then, and part of falling in love with Korean dramas was falling in love with the freedom of consuming them. When the K-drama world was opened up for me, I realized I had a treasure trove of dramas that I would never be able to exhaust — and it was a wonderful feeling. I could watch important classics that defined genres, watch the favorites of people whose taste I shared, and in turn, develop my own list of favorite dramas, actors, and storytelling moments. Marathoning dramas was how I built my drama foundation.

Marathoning a drama allows you to get submerged in the story. The whole story is complete and in your hands, and the only interruption in the storyline is when real life takes over. Watching dramas uninterrupted (i.e., not waiting for episodes to air) is often the best way to enjoy the pace of the plot. Once your attention is captured, it’s easy to keep up a constant level of interest. Even when — or if — the plot begins to lag and you start to lose interest, having the next episode a click away (rather than six or seven days away) makes us much more inclined to stay committed. In other words, inertia is a drama’s friend.

In just the last few years we have seen such a huge shift in the way televised media is consumed in America. Not that long ago, your only options were to watch a show when it aired, catch a rerun if you missed it, or use some method to record it (VCR, DVR, etc.) and watch it after everyone else had seen it live. But with the sudden surge in proprietary streaming media (Netflix, Amazon Prime, and many more public and cable networks joining them), the way we consume televised media has been radically altered. And with it, the binge culture has become equally mainstream.

A handful of years ago, I felt like one of the only people that was marathoning TV miniseries long after they had aired (thank you, endless DVDs of BBC period dramas). But now, the changing availability and delivery of TV media has changed so dramatically that everyone is free to marathon or “binge watch” TV shows. We’re now used to consuming content without a second thought given to an actual airing schedule, or any kind of barriers between us and the story. This revolution is neither good nor bad, but one thing is for certain: Korean drama watchers are no longer a fringe demographic with the amazing ability to devour media independent of an airing schedule. This is now an option everyone has come to expect — and in many cases, prefer.

This brings us to the opposing method of consuming K-dramas: live-watching. While this is arguably the most painful method of watching a drama, it is often the most rewarding, as well. It also feels like a bit of a rebellion these days. Is it possible we’ll reach a point in the history of television where watching syndicated TV is actually the rarer method of watching? That’s how it feels now when I live-watch a show. And if that’s considered rebellion, I’m in!

Granted, there has always been a bit of masochism involved with the live-watch, and with the addictive nature of K-dramas, that is only more so. The cliff hangers are cliffier, the stakes are stakier, and waiting that week for more episodes can be completely agonizing. But it’s also fun. Serialized stories keep us engaged in the story and keep it playing in our heads during the lull between installments. That lull also equals time to commiserate and communicate with other fans. It’s the reason we have fabulous communities like, you know, Dramabeans, around.

Live-watching dramas can bring them to life, and make experiencing them into something communal, but can it also work to their disadvantage? I think it can. Dramas that settle into predictable and expected patterns are often a real struggle to stay interested in week after week. What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim was this kind of drama for me. I wanted to love it, and the leads are amongst my favorites, but each week when new episodes were up, it was more like a chore than a pleasure to catch up with the story. This drama is the perfect example of one I think I would have enjoyed more if I marathoned it. My attention span would have wavered less if the full story was right at my fingertips. I would have had more patience for the tropes, and a little more interest in the falling action.

On the opposite side of that, there are shows that were amazing when watched live. In addition to the sense of community around them, the best dramas I have live-watched have been ones that almost required that space in between their episodes. Answer Me 1988 was probably one of my favorite examples of this. Each episode was rich and affecting and the space in between the airing of the episodes actually parsed the story beautifully. The pause in between episodes was almost reflective, and helped the story grow as you watched.

But if live-watching dramas can go both ways, so can marathoning. While I don’t exactly regret marathoning a show, there have been some dramas that I banged through at such a ridiculous speed that I almost wish I had taken more time to savor them.

What does all of this discussion of live-watching and marathoning — and the highs and lows of both — actually tell us about watching dramas? It’s a lot about pace. Pace is an essential component to any story, and for serialized stories like K-dramas that rely on pulling in viewers two nights a week for weeks at a time, that pace is essential. Sometimes productions nail it, and the plot moves with the perfect amount of ebb and flow. Conversely, sometimes a lagging plot can be more easily skated over when you’re watching at a breakneck speed.

This dichotomy almost begs the question: is there a best practice for watching dramas? Or is each drama an individual case? While I could say that a drama like City Hunter should be gobbled up in a delicious marathon, and a heavy drama like Misaeng should be enjoyed live with the appropriate amount of headspace between installments, these are just my opinions, and the way of watching them that worked for me. Everyone’s experience with a story is different; that’s a story’s power.

Whether you’re a live-watcher, marathoner, or the juggler a carefully-balanced combination of both (like me), the pace at which we consume a story has a lot of bearing on how we experience it — and enjoy it.

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This is so relatable, @missvictrix. I started my k-drama adventure as a marathoner: gobbling up thriller, procedural, and romcom like there's no tomorrow. But then eventually, I ran out of options, and that's the start of the live-watching torture (which sometimes can be thoroughly rewarding, while other times maddeningly frustrating and regret-inducing).

Nowadays, I juggled both methods because like what you said, different dramas need different way to be enjoyed fully. In this streaming era, I found that there's one unexpected new perk as a live-watcher: to be the first one who found a new gem. There's a certain satisfaction in promoting a new, shiny drama that caught my attention on DB. Especially when more and more people started watching it because my comments piqued their interest. *recalling back the time when I promoted Life and Tunnel endlessly*

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This is lovely @missvictrix! What I find fascinating is that if we watch live, the number of shows to choose from/we'd enjoy is much lower than if we watch already completed shows - where one then has years and years worth of shows to pick from.
Case in point:
I sometimes see comments from older drama viewers about how shows these days aren't as gripping or as good as they used to be, and I've noticed such commentators usually tend to be live watchers, who've probably already consumed a vast number of older shows. But to me that makes sense, if you live watch you've got maybe 10 shows to choose from, binge watch, and you've got many many many many more.

I'm strictly a live watcher and because most shows and plots don't interest me, I'm usually only watching one drama at a time. I say "strictly" because I also started as a binge watcher but found that my appetite only grew larger, and I kept consuming more and more drama. At one point, I realised I'd watched 33 hours/episodes in a week, and it was a working week. And so I've almost completely switched to live watching. If a show has finished airing, I don't pick it up - for my own health 😂. The last show I watched not quite live was a Cdrama, Nirvana in Fire, around this time last year when I caught 47 episodes in 2 working weeks and White Christmas in Jan 2018 (8 eps, 1.5 days).

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i think it depends on the drama like you said some dramas are great to watch live if it keeps you interested enough but some dramas make it worst and i end up keeping it hanging waiting for time to finish that lat two or three episodes because the plot became a little boring or something but some dramas like healer , hyde jykell and me ,kill me heal me ,my love from the stars and many more are trully worth watching live while others like strong women do bong soon is much better when binge watching

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Dramabeans honestly got me addicted to the live-watch, because I want to see what everyone has to say in the comments and squee all together. The most fun were CIRCLE and FORREST OF SECRETS. I still go back sometimes to remember the juicy conspiracies beanies came up with after each new revelation 😆

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Absolutely. DB recaps & comments are the main reason why I'm almost entirely live-watch.

That said, some confusing mystery shows would be better binged so you don't forget what was going in between episodes. But I never figure that out about a show until too late.

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Another reason mystery shows should be binged is that one gets so much into theories and conjectures in between episodes that the risk of being disappointed at the ending goes too high. They should be binged so that one has no time to guess except on short excited breaks, and get right back in.

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I love this---so insightful and (as Gadis said) relatable. I, too, started out as a marathoner. These days, I'm of the "carefully balanced" persuasion, and honestly that's mostly because of dramabeans. I think I prefer to marathon shows---I hate having to wait a week to see how the cliffhangers end! But I love being in the discussion, I love sharing the angst and glee and squees and cringes with other beanies on the fan wall. Several times I've tried to hold off watching shows so I could marathon them at the end, but the beanie-energy was too contagious and I ended up jumping right in. It's just so much fun! That being said, as much fun as the live-watching can be, I think I tend to think shows are better when I marathon them---when I get that full packet of feelings all "at once" (or at least super close together) and not spread out over a few months.

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Live watching is for when you absolutely trust your instinct that it will be good because when things went downhill, you have nowhere to go. I rarely marathon a drama nowadays; time/strength/ determination is not like before. I can't imagine marathoning a melo mess like The snow queen or Thank you like before~
But I also like to watch snark too. There are so many dramas that I watch snark just because I wanted to see how far or crazy it can be or how much pain I can tolerate? Who knows~

p/s: Ancient time ago, remembered we are settled for 10 parts videos for a SINGLE episode with 144p resolution? Good old times~ hahaha

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ha ha ha ha yeeeeessssss I remember the 10-part SINGLE episode format!!! What a pain!
Oh, how technology has changed! lol

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so glad that is over! sometimes you got so busy trying to make them work and remembering where you were that it was legit work to get thru them!

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omg those were dark ages LOL

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Yay!! I was wondering when something like this would come up.
I don't seem to have the energy to marathon these days (because yes, marathoning requires a certain type of patience and stamina and my attention span is way too short). But some dramas are best marathoned. Like The Web drama Gogh's starry night (i'd have never finished it if it was ongoing). Or She Was Pretty. Shows that are thoughtless and easy.

Heavy shows like Misaeng and My Ahjussi (and now beautiful world) are best savoured slow. I remember trying to watch Misaeng earlier this year and after having binged two episodes in a row... I needed a month break. Not cuz it wasn't any good... it's just hard. And you need to take it all in. You need to grow with the show.

I'm no longer really a binger (ill only binge if its a cheap, tropey rom com and even at that... quite rarely). If I can't live watch... then its unfortunately dropped. I find live watching also helps me limit the amount I watch -- cuz--- let's be honest, your girl is still earning how to balance life.

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To live-watch or to binge, that is always my dilemma.

Mysteries must be live-watched. I can’t be spoiled, not even a little, or else I would lose interest to continue. These are usually my crack dramas.

Romance, ones without my bias and without any mystery involved, are usually best to wait for a consensus on the ending. That’s how I avoid high disappointments like Something In The Rain.

Mindless comedies I usually live watched in batches. Save some for rainy days, but watch enough to stay engaged with SNS topics.

Critically acclaimed heavy settings are best for binging. Usually the first weeks are hard to stay interested while they introduce characters and nothing much happens. Waiting will only make me give up. Til this day I haven’t finished My Ahjusshi because I found the first 2 episodes boring. While I probably would have given up on Misaeng on a TV, I was glad I didn’t have a remote at the time I started streaming on PC. Of course if there’s a lead I’m watching for, I live watch so desperately that I wake up before work to watch a live stream of the actual live broadcast.

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I was introduced to kdramas back in 2004 (or 2005) with Lovers in Paris as a start. I don’t know if this drama was already completed in South Korea then but in my country, it has just started to air on a daily basis. I recall that I actually enjoyed “live watching” the show. Maybe because it was something new to us and of course the casts were stellar. But it was My Girl who really captured my interest the most. I watched it “live” and I even bought DVDs of the completed series. I guess it’s the only kdrama I cared to rewatch that time. All others we watched those live with my friends. Then I took a hiatus in kdrama after graduation and when I started reviewing for the board exams since access to TV during the late night hours was not possible in our dorm. For several years I haven’t followed any dramas. Until I met an officemate who loves kdrama and has a collection of completed series. I binge-watch a handful of kdramas like City Hunter, Rooftop Prince, I Can Hear Your Voice, etc. I chose to watch only completed series as I don’t have the patience to wait for another week for the next episodes. That changed with Memories of the Alhambra. At first, I was just reading the recaps in DB. I told myself I will wait for this series to complete then I’ll binge-watch. But in the end, my curiosity was piqued and I can’t help myself catching up with the series after reading the recaps of the first two episodes. I guess the concept about augmented reality was something fresh in kdrama and powered with great casts in Hyun Bin, Park Shin Hye and Chanyeol, I broke my self-restraint and watched it “live” or as soon as the English subs are available. I thought I was traumatized with this experience (because of how MotA ended) but I found myself drawn again to “live watching “ with Touch Your Heart and now Her Private Life. I also just recently binge watch Healer which also gave me the confidence to “live watch” kdramas again. So, whatever method you use, enjoy watching!

Sorry for the long post. ✌️

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I started my k-drama adventure as a marathoner. There was so much to watch and I was excited to watch it all, but then I ran out of options. Now I'm just a live-watcher. I plan out my watching schedule because I'm so busy at work. I download the subbed episodes in the morning, watch an episode while I'm commuting to work, work, finish the rest when I'm home. The problem is, I follow way too many dramas and variety shows at a time. At some point, I realised that I had 4-5 shows to watch in a day. But all is good if you plan out your day well~

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I have binge watched just about every drama that is worth watching (that I can access), so, in order to feed the demon that is my KDrama addiction I am mostly relegated to live watching. I sometimes will pick up a rewatch or something I missed the first time around. I miss binge watching, which is part of the reason I haunt Drama Beans. Sometimes I hear about a show half way through and get to binge to catch up. This fulfills my wish to binge out on Korean Dramas.

Live watching is good when you have others to play along with. Alone it is just frustrating ^^

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I agree that live watching is fun because of doing it together. And I love the excuse to do a mini binge to catch up on whatever has been the talk of What We're Watching. :)

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Hooray for the CHIEF KIM header! That is one drama that I enjoyed live-watching mainly because I could spazz about it every week with a few other beanies. In that sense DB has been an important influence in my drama-watching habits. I used to just binge dramas, but I eventually achieved some kind of balance: I usually live-watch 1-2 shows and marathon 1-2 during the rest of the week.

It's sort of a paradox that there are more dramas than ever available now, but I am interested in fewer. Also, the investment is higher in live-watching, so the burnout when the drama becomes a trainwreck is greater. I was badly scarred by a few dramas that had awful endings in the last 2 years. Therefore, I'm reverting back to my binge-watching roots. First, I keep an eye on beanie comments and then, if a show is well-received, I add it to my to-watch list for later. For live-watching I usually go with my instinct and sometimes choose a show that hardly anyone is watching on DB. CHIEF KIM was one of those. (Sometimes I make good choices LOL).

Thanks for the essay @missvictrix! It's one of my favourite topics. :)

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I started with marathoning. I would go through the DB ratings and choose a show that looked good and watch it at my own pace. I think the first drama I live-watched was W (actually I was watching it on a 3 week delay because I was too cheap to pay for Viki 😂) I never even finished it because I was reading the recaps on DB and I didn't like the ending. The first one that convinced me to buy a viki pass so I could live-watch was Moonlight Drawn By Clouds 💕
Now I mostly watch the fanwall to see what beanies are recommending. I'll jump in after a few weeks if it seems promising. (That's how I started Put Your Head on My Shoulder 💕💕💕) Although I do still binge watch older shows as well (like White Christmas). I will start live-watching a show if I'm really interested in it (like He is Psychometric 💚). Then I try to convince other beanies to join in the fun 😄

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I'm watching Put Your Head on My Shoulder too! It's nice to watch some cute romance once in a while. Have you heard of Le Coup De Foudre? It's also a Chinese drama and it's really good as well.

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I have heard of it but haven't checked it out yet. Is it as cute as Head/Shoulder?

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Very cute! It starts with them as a married couple being interviewed as they recount their high school self till they get married. So we can see their progress from friends to a couple. Even the female lead's family is heartwarming to watch. Say YES to a nice stepfather who treats his stepkids right. A twin brother who seems to not care much but loves his sister more than anything else.

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That does sound pretty good. I'll check it out soon.

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I lose interest very quickly and can get nitpicky when there's too much time to think. In that sense, binge works better for me no matter what drama or genre it is. I live watch rarely.

I enjoy 16+ eps series as long as I can marathon it. Even 24-50 eps are okay in my book with a bunch of side plots and filler. But when following it live, my interest starts to drop at the 10-12 episode mark and then I usually think dramas could be shorter. Filler and side plots become not enjoyable because it's another week's wait to get the good content, when otherwise in a binge it's less frustrating and can be savored before the storm just a button and a few moments away.

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I agree. Tropes and cliches too become much less aggrevating while binge-watching. There have been many many times where beanies have exploded at a Noble Idiocy in a drama for a week, but when I binge it later the noble idiocy is a total of ten minutes, divided between two episodes, not at all worthy of such an outrage.

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It's completely opposite with me, binge watching expose weak writing and plot holes, whereas when I'm live watching I don't ponder over it so much.

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Interesting. I get sucked in shows and tend to think or stress too much when there's no immediate answer. When you live watch, do you watch several at once too? I feel like for many people there's more time in live watching to fit in a few more different shows a week, and several shows means less time to agonize over any particular one.

I guess my binge approach works for me since I can only focus and hang onto one "new to my watch list" drama at a time, meaning anything else I watch in between has to be a rewatch. That way I can get the binged shows done in a few weeks top while live watching means I'm just committed to a show for months.

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I'm like that too, but it pass if I don't have another episode so it healthier for me to live watch and yes it left the room for fitting more drama in my schedule, and ease the need to have everything "right here, right now".
I usually binge in 2-3 days and it don't leave much time to digest what I was watching and actually enjoy it.

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Same with me, I find more continuity issues when I binge. While live-watching I tend to forget the details from last week or earlier.

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I have live-watched a total of five dramas and I have been bored/disappointed by all of them. (My Ahjussi, Children of Nobody, Age of Youth2 among them...) I'm never trying it again.

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I am somewhat new to the Kdrama scene. I started two years ago by watching Netflix, then DramaFever (RIP), and now Viki. Binging was all I had at first and it was great to really follow the characters uninterrupted. But I was spending too much time watching tv and not being with my family. I live watch right now because I can spend a dedicated night catching up on my shows. If only my full time job was watching Kdramas!

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I am a juggler like @missvictrix. Live-watching is good to be able to discuss and avoid spoilers. Like the Reply series has to be watched live or else you will know who's the husband. Nation's dramas like SKY Castle and Kim Eun-sook's dramas also have to be watched live because everyone and their mother is talking about them. Marathoning is good if the episodes end with cliffhangers. When live-watching, I have to fill the downtime by watching behind-the-scenes, but when marathoning, I can just press play on the next episode. I understand when live-watching becomes a chore like for What's Wrong With Secretary Kim because I make an effort to watch this week's episodes before next week's episodes air. However, if I lose interest while marathoning, it can be years before I ever finish the drama.

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I had an opposite experience missvictrix had with What's Wrong with Secretary Kim; mine was with Queen Inhyeon's Man. I marathoned that right after everyone was raving about the chemistry between the OTP, and I just...didn't feel what's there to rave about.
What felt like a chore watching weekly was Tree With Deep Roots. This drama, imo, is best marathoned because I feel the suspense just...dies while waiting for new episodes. Don't get me wrong, I love that drama and enjoyed the novel but live-watching just wasn't the right choice.
That said, I'm mostly a watch-while-airing viewer, with approximately 6-8 dramas to follow up weekly. My hay day was catching no less than 13 dramas (korean and japanese) weekly, and trust me, the fast foward button is your best friend (and being in the 20s helped).
Because there's a need to keep up with the current airing schedule, I don't usually binge watch the completed dramas which I missed for some reasons, as that'd mean I have to drop or put currently airing dramas on hold. Being OCD sucks because I try not to drop dramas, though that's happening more frequently recently.

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What a great article - I have often wondered which is the best way to watch. After 15 years of watching kdramas I do it two ways: if I am excited about a show/ hooked on it/ think it is great I will watch the series every week as it is released because I can’t wait to marathon it and want to find out LIKE NOW what happens next hahah

If I start watching something and loose interest half way or often I will actually read dramabeans epsidoe summaries for a while or even till the end of the series and then decide to marathon. 😅

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Live watching can be good in a popular drama where we have many friends to disscuss to.. So even if that drama fail us, tge discussion will make it memorable. Or else... Watching a well made drama best when we binge watching it imo.

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Met someone in real life that watches the same dramas as me and we talked about this! Which dramas are best binged or live watched. She prefers binged watching while I recently prefer live-watching. Binged watching was my thing before but no dramas has caught my attention to do this, maybe now that I'm interested in Cdramas, I might go back.

Really depends on the story and the pacing of the show and of course your endurance to marathon. Guess I'm getting old for marathons.

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I started watching Kdramas from those pirated cds (sorry not sorry) with awful subs. Then KBS World came to our cable channel and I got to watched a bunch of dramas, real time, and with decent subs. Then online streaming came, convenient but made impatient, like I would switch to another drama if the 1st or 2nd episode didn't get me hooked or if it gets draggy, I'll just read dramabeans recaps. But the best thing with online is being able to marathon dramas anywhere and anytime.

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Yes, @missvictrix, I, too, marathoned dramas. When I first met Lee Minho (in Boys Over Flowers), the show was already maybe more than 3 years old. So the next time I went out to buy DVDs, I just asked the seller for all LMH dramas and I got - City Hunter, Faith and Personal Taste all at the same time. And I binge-watched the show whenever I had time - after work and on the weekends.

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The only reason I live watch is due to the Beanie community. It's amazing to participate in the discussions and meet beanies who love certain dramas.
Also, I tend to FF more when I marathon, which is not good.

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Exactly!
It feels wrong and lonely to find that you are the only one who's got no idea about what everyone is going on about. As a result you'll end watching 2eps every week. And for shows like KILL IT, I did not like the waiting.

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I am a mix of live vs binge watch. I prefer live watching because my schedule rarely affords me the time to sit and binge a show. There are shows that I probably should have live watched that I semi-binge watched after the fact. My Ahjusshi may have been a better life watch, as maybe Prison Playbook too. The latter took me 6 months to finish on my own and having a weekly schedule would have encouraged me to finish it sooner. Actually, that’s a third way to watch, at a snail’s pace, or your own pace, without the stress or obligation to finish a show too quickly or with the rest of the world. I still consider both these shoes one of the best of their genres, and I think it’s because I could appreciate them at my own time. I still like the interaction of watching live though and the recap page is an utter joy to me when I see it posted! Romantic Doctor Kim was my first live watch, then Goblin (after binging the first few weeks in a few day’s). I know it takes a lot of work, so I really, really, really appreciate the recappers here! Not only do they do the recap, but they all write amazingly well, which is why I keep coming back to read what they have to say!

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I started as a binge watcher, and over the years, I figured a method that works for me.Generally, live watching 2-3 shows plus 1 rewatch. Though there were days I had live watched 5 dramas or as few as 1 rewatch.

I still try to keep up with the 4 dramas at the same time,but keep mixing up the live watch and marathons. For my sanity and due to time constraints.

One benefit of someone else marathon watching is that when he/he cannot help and just post on the FW.I remember getting encouraged to rewatch Moorim School,because I saw some random post on the wall of a gray haired Lee Hyunwoo. And rediscovered why I was able to finish,and why I didn't like it at that time it aired.

Live watching a drama was made more enjoyable with DB. I still listen to the Island playlist on Spotify from time to time, get the urge to drink one of our Island drinks 😉APAD days gave me a greater sense of community when we talked about the latest APAD episode,via the fanwall hijacking one Beanie's post or through the comments section of a recap. The poems, the shippers and the island residents, that was an heck of a live watch.

All in all, there's no tried and tested way of drama watching, what works for me,might not work for others. But at the end of it,we all find solace,and happiness in each of our dramas.

Thank you for this lovely,relatable read @missvictrix

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Please excuses the numerous typos 😔

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APAD days were glorious ❤️❤️

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I used to binge watch, but wasn't good for me mentally, I put everything on hold (beside work), now if I watch older drama I try to portion it, but I can be quite obssessive so it's hard to stop.

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Here's my (admittedly skewed) take on this:

If I live-watch a drama, I spent much more time on that drama than if I watch a drama that's already finished. With live watching, for me at least, comes speculation as to what might happen (for example like this http://www.dramabeans.com/2018/02/one-true-pairings-when-death-would-have-been-a-happy-ending/)

Also, you end up discussing dramas on the fan wall, on recaps, and in other places. I don't even want to add up the number of hours I spent last year chatting about dramas like APAD or Are You Human Too . Now, I don't mind that, this is a lovely community to hang out with, and the discussions are mostly fun, however I think that for those dramas, I was spending probably 10x as much time talking about those dramas than watching those dramas (yes, I think that's an underestimate too)

And some dramas just don't stand up to that amount of scrutiny and discussion. Some dramas should be given purely the time that it takes to watch them and not a minute more. Also, when I feel that Beanies combined spent more time thinking about the plot than the writer did, it really annoys me (stronger words are available).

Therefore, I've largely stopped live-watching, even though I seem to have picked up a couple of current dramas...

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Yes, many of the romances are formula enough that the discussion sounds like a rehash of all that has gone before. On the other hand, shows like Sky Castle benefit from discussion and are fun to live watch.

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Well said @missvictrix I think that's the reason I've been failing to finish certain dramas like LAWLESS LAWYER, A MILLION STARS, THE PLAYER, BEAUTY INSIDE, BOYFRIEND AND maybe W.
If I marathoned these shows I could've liked them better, I would have finished them a long time ago.
If I remember correctly, the first Kdrama I enjoyed watching after 1 week is arguably FIGHT MY WAY. Waiting for the next EPs made the show even more interesting for me than it already was.

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My k-drama addiction began after Boys over Flowers. I didnt like the drama that much, but i thought that there would be far better drama than this and so my next stop was to watch My girl. I watched that drama in full within 2 days, i again re-watched it after 2 mins of completing it because i loved Lee dong wook so much and the chemistry between the leads. From there my marathon journey started i got to watch more precious gems like Goong, Dong yi, Dae Jang gum, and all the hit dramas and non-hit dramas from early 2002 to 2009.

My live watching started with Secret garden and i swear it was a torture, because i loved that drama so much.

For the past 2 years, i am juggling with less dramas compared to before, because I prefer to watch dramas with quality content now. I think some dramas i watched earlier, i would not have watched it now, because of the half baked writing or bad direction.

From Jan 2019 till now i have watched around 4 to 5 dramas and this is like 0.5% of the dramas i watched it earlier days.

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I started out as a binge watcher but now mostly watch live because otherwise dramas pile up in my queue, and I never get to them. I wish I could binge more, however. I tend to enjoy dramas a lot more that way. Almost all of my favorite dramas were binged.

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This discussion is fascinating to me; I wonder if I can see my future as a kdrama watcher, moving from marathoning to live watches. I am a newbie to kdrama (less than 2 years) and I feel like I was made for kdrama. But yes, it has taken over my life and I have begun to wonder about how to balance my life and my love for kdrama and DB. I relate to many of the comments here and I think I will be taking some tips from others.

I have a hard time with live watching because I am the one who reads the end of the book before I start it (except with authors I trust). I tend to put my whole self in and I just don't want to expend my emotions, time, and heart unnecessarily. Case in point: I just experienced my first live watch and my heart was broken by That Psychometric Guy. Ouch. I still can't let it go.

On the other hand, I am watching Put Your Head On My Shoulder live because there is no other option once you start. It is just too adorable. :)
I have found that when I have lost interest in a drama or I am just not in the mood for any currently airing I go back and rewatch the dramas that I marathoned in my beginning drama days. I can slow down and appreciated them in a different way than I did when I first watched them. Also, with more understanding of Korean culture and exposure to drama, it is like I am watching it with fresh eyes.

A tremendous thank you to Dramabeans and everyone here who have enhanced my kdrama experience. Kdramas are best enjoyed when shared.

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I consume dramas both ways. It really depends on my mood. When I initially started watching, it was live watching older shows that happened to be airing on a now defunct tv station. Then I discovered illegal sites (these were the days before the likes of DF and Viki) where I would binge watch (before binging was a thing) and now with all the streaming platforms I can binge or live-watch to my hearts content.

All that being said, I find that currently I am more likely to binge watch than live-watch. My drama slump has made live-watching nearly impossible. I have dropped so many shows!!! I almost need the reliability that a show will maintain its high quality throughout before I can commit. I am tired of shows dragging or jumping the shark!!! I used to live-watch hours upon hours of shows and happily consume all of it, but now I can only seem to handle an hour or two a day of tv watching.

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I grew up watching Kdramas with family and still remember the pull the early big names like Autumn in My Heart had on us. We would gather around the TV every week, eagerly waiting for new episodes to air. It became a ritual of sorts. I do miss that anticipation and sharing the joy in watching a story unfolds together with other people, which is why I still live-watch dramas now despite being an impatient watcher. xD

I agreed that the pacing really affects my enjoyment, having realized that the hard way. With that said, I sometimes still make the mistake of binge-watching something that should have been savor at a slower pace and overwhelm myself. Haha

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Nice topic. For many years, the only way I could watch K-dramas were by renting video tapes from Korean grocery stores (binge watching). I think around 2005, video tapes were replaced by DVDs. (I remember I watched Immortal Yi Soon-shin in video tapes and dvd- I spent lots of money on watching this drama). There were soompi, Chicago k-drama site, and NJ based k-drama site(more for saguek)- I didn't know about dramabeans yet.

Around time of "You are beautiful", I learned about dramabeans, mysoju and dramacool etc. where I could watch the drama on-line (available in many parts and long wait just to watch one ep.- how painful). And it was still all binge watching. I don't know when or which one was my first live-watching drama, but I think it was thanks to DB recaps.

Currently I do live-watching mostly because 1.they are available, 2.I want to know what is happening and understand when someone talks about it. But I still do binge-watching when there is recommendation from beanies, or the ones I postponed to watch later due to lack of time.
Now only if I can find more time to watch more....

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My preference is a "community" drama where viewers can interact after a show to discuss/theorize about the series, plots and characters. I was spoiled when watching LOST since the fan communities were extremely large and had engaging discussions. I stumbled across three Korean channels on my cable so I decided to learn about its culture as American network drama series began to wane. I still consume dramas on KBS World, but more often through web portals.

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This is all very relatable!
My K-drama adventure started about 12ish years ago , with Dae Jang Geum being streamed in India (albeit dubbed in Hindi).
Watching that every week was awesome!
I even had my dad record a couple episodes when I missed them!

And then I was introduced to the wonderful world of watching them online. I was hooked!
I actually far prefer the Kdrama mini series. 16-20 episodes over 8-10 weeks. A concise story line. There are very few dramas where I have wanted or even liked the second season (Age of youth did very well for 'traditional' second season).

I think this is what makes K-dramas stand apart and I like it for that reason.
I don't really enjoy the year long wait for a next season. Just my personal preference. I would rather finish a story and move on the next one.

Now on to when to watch a drama. I usually watch dramas as they air. Watching the episodes within the week they air (since work/a phd has taken up quite a lot of my time and I can't alway watch all the episodes that air on a certain day on that day).

I would absolutely love watching it 'actually' live. As many of you know, I am going to move to Korea (as a research scientist at Seoul National University) in a couple of months! One of my first major purchases is going to be a TV! I have been learning Korean (informally, so I am about intermediate level. I can speak/understand better than I can write. haha I have always had trouble with spellings in all the languages I know!)
I have also been watching the new A-Teen without subs and I think I understand about 80-90% of it so I think I am making some progress now!
Hopefully once I am in Korea, I shall resume live-watching dramas.

For now, I need to resume writing and finishing my dissertation which is due in a day ish haha. I defend next week! and then I shall be a Dr. (which still sounds very unreal until it is done)

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I started out with live-watching, as the only option was to switch on the TV when the dramas aired, like 15-20 years ago. As the technology advances, I became a juggler, & now a full time marathoner. To me, live-watching now is a pure torture, as I can no longer deal with the crazy cliffs. They affect me so much I can’t function in real life. Hence the marathons took over.

”The whole story is complete and in your hands…” that’s like the best feeling EVER when it comes to drama watching imo. You can do whatever you want coz it’s all out there already. & yes to “watch one that’s already aired in a frighteningly quick period of time (actual time withheld to protect the innocent).” 😅😅

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I think my on hold list would be much longer if i had to watch one ep a week. =3
But waiting for a new ep and finally watching it feels good too sometimes! Also knowing people havent watched it before, and you can talk about the most recent ep with people ^^

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I don't watch too many dramas and I won't even start one until it's over and there's good word of mouth about how it ended, but I basically watch completed dramas like a live-watcher even when they're done. I simply don't have the time to watch more than one or two episodes a week.

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This makes no sense, but if I binge watch, I am way less tolerant--way more impatient. I have dropped multiple shows that I was binge-ing. But if I'm watching shows that are currently playing, I will put up with all sorts of inaccuracies, plot holes, and stupid writing. Case in point, my hub and I watched "Dr. Jin" when it was on. Now. I know if I'd have binge watched that I would have quit WAY before the baby's brain in a glass jar. (Or whatever) I can't even remember how bad it was--just that I never wanted to rewatch it. (And I do rewatch my favs--or even, ones that I forget ended stupid. I'm talking to you, Princess Hours.) Other shows I watched as they aired and probably would have dropped? Angel Eyes, Tomorrow With You, Can't think of the name, but the overweight woman whose husband killed her and she came back and lost weight and fell in love with the doctor who helped her lose weight. Oh and another that I can't think of the title, either, but a couple has a daughter and she dies and then the detective who helps her dies too, (EVERYONE DIES--I was so upset at this drama) Barro was in this one--it was God's Gift.) Cheese in the Trap--SHEESH! I know if I would have binged watched this I never would have stuck around! (And many more. Seriously, I don't think I ever binge watched a show that I hated, but I've watched too many, twice a week, that when I was done I thought, "well, that was a waste of my life."

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You make a lot of sense to me 😀.
I can’t binge mediocre dramas, and I can’t finish live-watching good dramas. It’s a matter of the drama’s pace and my patience.

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Sometimes when I bring watch I realise that I get impatient with the supporting cast and I sometimes fast forward if the scenes are just fillers...

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Thanks @missvictrix for this. Interesting why some dramas are live watches, some are marathons, and some make the list of trusty rewatches. Rewatches are like trusted pals. They always lift you up, pluck the heart strings, hit all the right notes. Old reliables like Healer, Master’s Sun, Marriage Not Dating feel just as good the fifth time as the first time.

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I discovered my first K-dramas years ago on a now-defunct free viewing arm of Hulu. When that died I switched to free-with-commercials Drama Fever. When that died I switched to free-with-commercials Viki. When that got reformatted to make free viewing more difficult I switched to basic subscription Viki. Now it seems a growing number of shows remain frustratingly beyond my reach. So my method an manner of viewing continue to evolve.

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Oooww my gosh.. this is an interesting article, so relatable for me, even tough i rarely watch drama lately because somehow i lost interest in watching them due to the same plot / themes of the stories.

but there was time that I've marathoned watch drama, perhaps 6 or 7 years ago.

I avoid watching live drama, because I can't stand the nerve wracking caused by waiting the next episode, so only limited dramas that i've been watching live are you're who came from the another star, reply 1988 and the last one scarlet heart, which the last two I didn't finished it, I'm team junghwan and can't watched the ending of scarlet heart anyway.

Now, i used to read recaps only before decided wether I want to watch the drama or not. I'm watching Secretary Kim currently but only on my convinience time..

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I think we drama fans were the original binge-watchers even before it became a thing. I as well started out with older dramas, also because back then high-speed internet was not really available and I had to download episodes overnight (or over several days...anyone remember those days? lol).
I watched ever genre I could find and jumped between Taiwanese, Japanese and Korean dramas until the big shift happened and k-dramas stopped using incurable illnesses as the main point in their storylines. From that moment on, I did watch mainly k-dramas.
As the internet speeds got better I had the chance to start live-watching. I love and hate it: if the drama is really good, it is annoying to have to wait another week to see the next episode and that is real torture.
I think in the end I am a combination of all options: I watch more than one drama at a time and mix live-watching with binge watching older dramas. But sometimes I also take a step back and only go for live-watching in order to detox from dramaland a bit and to fully appreciate some dramas.

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