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[Community] What Dramabeans means to me

When people ask about the origins of Dramabeans, it’s usually this story that I give: I had recently gotten back into K-dramas, a fixture of my youth that I’d left behind for some years, and was inhaling series like Full House and Goong and My Girl and searching for a place online where I could talk about them the way I wanted to. I didn’t find it, so I figured I’d make my own corner of the internet and see who else wanted to talk about them. As it turned out, a lot of people did.

I don’t think I’ve ever told the story of how I got to that place to begin with, because that always felt like the standard beginning of the story. But in order to answer the question of what Dramabeans means to me, I think I have to back up even further.

I was spiraling when I rediscovered K-dramas in the mid-2000s. I’d thought I’d overcome my “quarterlife crisis” (ugh, that term) and figured out what I wanted to do with my life, and I’d pursued it with all the focus and drive of a Type A overachiever. It wasn’t a pipe dream, either — I was accepted into a couple of well-known Hollywood programs for rookie writers that were meant to position me into my television writing career. I had an agent at a fancy Hollywood agency with a three-letter name. I went out for staffing season and took meetings with execs at studios. I was on my way. I was on the cusp of breaking into Hollywood and my life, and career, would be set.

And every day that I was in the rat race that is throwing yourself at the ever-narrowing gates of Hollywood, I was miserable, and desperate, and flailing. You know when you convince yourself that only one thing matters, like, at all? And you pin every hope and dream on that one thing, and it turns you into a nervous wreck, one that forgets everything true about you and instead turns you into a shell of yourself to be filled with someone else’s preferences and tastes. (My mentor would give advice like: “Just be yourself — but better.”) And the more I was in that world, the more I realized I might not belong there; I didn’t feel at home there, and my insistence on forcing myself in anyway was wearing away at me. After a couple years of running that race, I realized that it wasn’t the industry that I didn’t like — I didn’t like who I was turning into, in my desperation to enter the industry. Nervous. Overeager. Insincere. Where was I, in me? And when that realization crashed into me, it knocked me into paralysis. What do I do now? I’d worked so hard to get to that point, the thought of walking away was crushing. That seems so naive and young, looking back on it, but it seemed so all-consuming at the time. I had been raised to aim for the top — falling into the middle was failure. I couldn’t fathom giving it up.

About that time, I stumbled onto dramas online. I was surprised at how good the production quality had gotten in just the five or six years that I’d been away from them, but I was quickly learning how to download from fansites and clubbox and bittorrent. I joined Soompi. I was a megauploading pro (RIP mega). Then Youtube came along and was a revelation, and I was watching dramas cut into 10 parts, occasionally missing a part (an agonizing discovery), a slave to the twice-weekly drop schedule. And I was surprised by a new realization about how K-dramas made me feel — I’d always been a fan of television, but there was something different and intriguing about these K-dramas, which I hadn’t picked up on before. I was feeling a kind of fluttery excitement I didn’t get from American TV. I cried over the stupidest plot twists and wondered why. It was addictive as hell. I was vaguely aware that in diving into a new obsession, I was putting off doing anything about my own personal crisis, but I was too glad to feel relief in a new set of emotions — giddiness, excitement, angst, tears, and DRAMA — that I pushed those thoughts aside.

And this is where this story converges with that earlier standard story, of how I started a blog to get all my feelings out into words and discovered my tribe.

There are a lot of things to which I attribute Dramabeans’ success (and by success I mean longevity and general personal satisfaction in the running of), such as timing (in 2007, personal blogging was just taking off) and circumstance (there was an appetite for K-dramas but no other sites doing the same). But a lot of that is luck, too. Luck that the content was taking off internationally, luck that the producers of the content hadn’t yet caught up with fandom in how to proliferate it, luck that there was such a steady stream of output, luck that there was an insatiable appetite for consuming them.

Also, luck that just as I started Dramabeans, monetizing blogs became a thing and I could make it, at least in part, my job. I didn’t make much money that first year, but it was enough to justify devoting all that time to writing essays on Coffee Prince or Flowers For My Life and lovingly screencapping Gong Yoo’s face. I was juggling blogging with my “real” job, which gave it purpose, and it was such amazing fun that I threw myself into it wholeheartedly and never looked back. It was a thrill to find people from all over the world who felt passionately about something that I felt I couldn’t share in my offline life — people who wanted to talk equally at length about the symbolism in that one scene of Que Sera Sera as they wanted to squee endlessly about Eric’s abs.

I don’t know when exactly I let go of my television writing goals, but I do know that when I did stop and consider that question, I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t regretful. I was as fulfilled as I’d ever been, or could hope for, with what I was doing and while I wasn’t sure where this Dramabeans thing would take me, it felt valuable and I loved it. I loved how connected it made me feel to far-flung parts of the world — it shrunk our world of fandom and made it homey. I loved that we could talk intelligently about our entertainment but not forget it was entertainment, too — at the end of the day it was always about feeling free to love something, regardless of why someone else might not. I loved that our philosophy of welcoming all fandoms was appreciated. I met awesome lifelong friends through Dramabeans, like girlfriday, who was the best partner in crime a fangirl could ask for.

Dramabeans anchored me in a time when I felt lost and aimless, and while I would never advise anyone take up entertainment blogging as a career move, it has also been the best job I’ve ever had. It’s also the purest job I’ve ever had, in that it was a luxury to be able to write about things purely based on our editorial interest in them. There were a handful of occasions where we were pressured into posting something for business purposes that wasn’t quite in our wheelhouse, but girlfriday and I would resist until we could find a way to put our Dramabeans spin on them. When we couldn’t, we turned down sponsorships. That may have been dumb of us and to our partners, I’m sure we were frustrating to work with, but we’d always run Dramabeans as an outlet for our editorial tastes and we didn’t know how to do things any other way.

But of course, those business purposes became an increasingly prominent presence in our lives running the site, because while we were able to capitalize on the boom years of blogging, we were also facing their swift downturn. We made business partnerships that forced a certain amount of compromise, but felt worthwhile for the ability to keep Dramabeans open. Sometimes I look back on some of our best work (in my opinion, from 2011 to 2015) and I’m wistful at the freedom we enjoyed, but I’ve also always been ready to let Dramabeans go when the time came, because something that good couldn’t go on forever. I’ve never been that kind of optimist.

I’m sure everyone’s noticed girlfriday and I haven’t been active presences on Dramabeans in the past year, and we’ve always meant to address that more transparently but never quite found a natural way to do it. In order to keep Dramabeans running, we made the choice to step back (quite honestly, it couldn’t pay our salaries and we had to find new ones) and hand over the reins, which was a bittersweet decision but one we don’t regret. Because after 12 years, it would have hurt a lot more to turn off the lights and let the site fade into memories. And amazingly, far from being a hindrance to our careers (because blogging — wtf?), Dramabeans has provided a strong foundation for where we find ourselves now. We’ve been busy with our “real” jobs in recent days, but hold out hope that someday soon we’ll be back, in some form or another, because our fan love will always be alive.

Dramabeans gave me a sense of purpose when I needed it — it gave me a place to be completely honest and sincere and in that way, it gave me myself back. It also gave me a community I didn’t know would grow to be so big, or so meaningful. I’ve been immensely grateful for everyone who has found something positive or worthwhile in Dramabeans, which grew out of a whim but was held up by a whole lotta love. You guys have made the site into what it is now, and I’m thankful for everyone one of you.

 
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Thank you
Always been reading re-reading your recaps all these years. Waiting patiently for your next recap.

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Missed you both! I've been wondering about your absence so thanks for taking the time to explain. Miss your wit and humor! I'm a fan of dramas and k-actors but also a fan of Dramabeans! Hope to see more of your guest posts :)

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Ahh! Thank you for creating a safe space for so many of us to fawn over our loves/biases and to share our experiences with the rollercoaster of emotions that is watching a Kdrama. When I was in college, which happened to be around 2011-15, I watched a lot of dramas as a way to de-stress (and to procrastinate, if I were completely honest) and would always check Dramabeans for recaps and essays. The first couple of years of college were rough as I wrecked my brains to figure out what to do with my life, and DB was the safe haven for me.
I'm so glad to see Dramabeans continues to thrive and hope that we can see more of Javabeans and Girlfriday in the near future! *crossing fingers* *sending prayers to drama-gods* *wipe tears*

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Thank you, Javabeans. Your story of how Dramabeans started and how it grew into such a popular site should be celebrated, perhaps be made into a movie or drama series :)
This site has been a source of joy and learning for me personally as it enriches my KDrama watching experience. Being a non-Korean and an Asian living outside of Asia, watching KDrama was sometimes a "lonely" experience, but that changed for me once I found your site. I learn so much from the members' contributions and comments. Also sharing some kind of fellowship as we follow a particular drama. This may be a clumsy way of saying it but I can't express it any other way.. So thank you and hope you are enjoying what ever adventures are you on!

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Normally I am not one to leave comments here, but when I saw this post I was overwhelmed with emotions. I started following dramabeans diligently when I was in highschool, back in 2010.
Now I'm doing a master's degree. I can't believe how fast the time flew by, I feel nostalgic now when I think about how I used to read every article on dramabeans every day after school, how I devoured dramas, I was truly addicted. For me korean dramas were a lot more entertaining because of dramabeans, I felt a sense of community here and this was mainly because of javabeans and girlfriday. You really have a knack for writing, reading recaps here was as engaging as watching the dramas. I truly thank you for creating such a wonderful place where all the kdrama addicts can share their love for something that not everybody understands. Long live Dramabeans and its creator, Javabeans. <3
I really to read other articles from you Javabeans or listen to some podcasts, those were really enjoyable.

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I really hope to *

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Whoa, an essay from JB. Thanks for dropping by and this note JB. Regards to GirlFriday. Thanks to you both, and your early minions, this community has a happy place. Good luck in whatever you do, but please, do drop us a note now and then to tell us how you're doing. And when we hit a slump, hope you can bring us back to the days when you started and changed how we enjoyed and kept going at kdramas.

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I miss you and girlfriday, JB. I don't think you realised that you two are the hearts and souls of Dramabeans. I am really fond of those days of watching an exciting drama and waiting for what you two have to write. Thank you so much for your hard work and your dedication.

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@javabeans it was so nice to hear from you. I came to know of this site in 2016 and missed your best work (though not actually cause I keep reading recaps of older dramas and reading the comments). I'm really happy that you were able to let go of things. That must have been hard

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@javabeans dramabeans means a lot to me , thank you very much for opening this blog , dramabeans is an everyday love , may God continue to strengthen u.

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2011 was the year when I found dramabeans. My parents cut off the broadband connection so that I could focus on my senior year of high school. But the kdrama fever always kept me curious. So I read your reviews in my dad's phone. It didn't consume much internet and I could get the same enjoyment as watching the kdrama. 2 years passed and I had my broadband back. But I realized I enjoyed your reviews more than the actual drama. More than just gushing, you made me respect the kdrama world and the meanings it hold. I still remember those constant refreshing to get healer reviews or learning references from reply 1997 or going through that old recap page to read all the dramas I had missed(honestly I think I read every drama you had in that page at that time). My life has changed a lot since then. I don't watch kdramas or visit dramabeans anymore. I still like kdramas but life's been too harsh to sit back and enjoy any TV show. I clicked on this article after a mutual shared it on Twitter and couldn't resist to read what that old javabeans is writing about nowadays. It brought back so many old memories. I'll try to spare some time to read dramabeans from now on.

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Thank you @javabeans and @girlfriday for building this community. I hardly have anyone to discuss dramas with and this forum is always a part of my drama watching experience. I rarely post but I enjoy reading everyone’s comments. I miss your writing but I have to say that I also appreciate the beanies who rose up to the occasion to keep dramabeans going. Love you guys!

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I missed the old dramabeans. It's just not the same anymore. It used to be the first site I open when I turn on my laptop to read the witty recaps from current favorite dramas or the latest bombs (Lie to Me among others). I miss the Santa's review, the podcasts, the awards coverage, the end of the year polls.

Anyway, thanks javabeans and girlfriday for the super fun years reading this blog (2010 to 2016).

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It is strange to think that something so awesome as Dramabeans community wouldn´t have started if Javabeans hadn´t put up a blog and sticked with it in the first place. I´m just endlessly grateful to Javabeans and Girlfriday for all their work and devotion. I hope you can come by for a podcast every now and then. It would be so great to hear you chatting and drinking, and then drinking and rambling some more:) Not that you need to drink. God knows the hangovers get worse by the year:D Lots of love! Hwaiting!

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We missed you really really so much @javabeans. We missed your voice and @girlfriday too during podcasts. Your reviews and recaps. Still hoping and waiting for a podcast. 😊

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Been reading Coffee Prince aired, and I used to read it everyday in uni and when I started work. Dramabeans was practically my homepage. Hunting for subbed dramas online was truly difficult those days and your recaps helped me understand raw dramas. My friends all laughed at me when I said one of my life's goals is to attend K-Con! I still have fond memories of the site, will definitely miss javabeans and girlfriday's special spark in their recaps and comments. I read Dramabeans only occasionally these days as I don't watch k-dramas as often. Once in a while, I do get giddy over one but there's a lot more choice these days with cable shows, so it's harder to choose. Thank you for the joy you've brought us all these past 12 years!

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I cant not respond to this, even if I am days and days later than everyone else.
I wasn't in a bad place when I found db. I was in an excited place. I had just discovered Kdramas and my love of JYH and I was watching a perfectly HORRIBLE drama and I wanted to spoil myself. Who was the female lead going to choose when she went back in time? JYH or that other fool? I found the recap here. I skipped to the end. There was no answer. I started skimming up until the ep I was on.
Seriously. There was NO ANSWER.
TF?
But something happened during that time frame. I slowly lost interest in the drama (THERE WAS NO FREAKING ANSWER) and started focusing on the recap. The recap and the comments and the commentary as provided by @gummimochi was absolutely everything I needed. This was the first drama that I dropped.
I loved the recap that I started using recaps and ratings to find out what to watch next, always watching with the recap and the commentary. If you can believe it--I never commented. I was a solid lurker. And then one day I saw the first few sentences of a recap and it made me snort-laugh right out loud. I clicked on it. And then I went to move on to the next. THERE WAS NO NEXT. And I was like...what IS IT with this WEBSITE?!
And thats how I learned about live watches. And the agony of waiting whole days for recaps.
I would have full on arguments with fellow Beanies. In my head. I was a lurker.
And then...the fanwall came.
My first post was a pure accident. I had written something in a comment box and hit send but I hadn't meant to! And before I could decide my time here was done, that I was never going to comment again--someone responded. And then I responded.
And the conversation and all those that came after it were so warm and friendly and hilarious and smart that when I found my world falling apart in a state far, far away from everyone I knew and being almost kidnapped by a crazy lady and needing someone to talk to about it because I was 100% done?
You saved me. From myself. From the darkness that lives in my head. Db. The beanies. The warmth and strength and the kindness in this community saved me.
Ive tried to quit a couple of times. I was mortally offended you guys. And I was like...I AM NEVER GOING THERE AGAIN.
That....didn't work.
I love it here.
Thank you, @javabeans for everything that you've done. The community that you and @girlfriday made and fought and sacrificed for.
RL is dumb and should be poked with a stick. Ive always said it. And now, I hope someone pokes it extra hard so that you two can come visit the home that you made a bit more often. Take your shoes off! Stay awhile!

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I'm not crying at all.....
Thank you for sharing your story by writing it in such a wonderful and charming way, isa.
I'll be off to find the largest stick in the world now and hope to have our ladies home again!

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People on this site need to stop rendering me speechless and making me cry.
I have an Ice Queen reputation to maintain over here.

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You were going to quit DB?

That is....that is..... well, please don't do that.

And all you Beanies, don't do that. Sometimes I think of Beanies that have drifted away, and I wonder where and how they are. I should make you all do the every few days check-in that I force my children to do. You don't need to reach out to me directly, just show me you're still alive and kicking by posting something.

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I’ll never leave you, egads

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You're a good bean Mindy.

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I missed this article when it came out, but it's never too late to say: It's lovely hearing from you again @javabeans JB. You've been greatly missed. There was something extra in the recaps you wrote that made them special. Your humour and the great fun that comes through when you and GF are feeding off each other in discussion never failed to entertain. Dramas became so much more because you discussed them on DB. Thanks so much!

I'm glad that you're working and living and I trust, fine, and so too, I believe is GF and HeadsNo2. Do come back when you can and take real good care of yourselves in the meantime!

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That was such an interesting read. I'm not surprised at all to find you were an aspiring television writer; your writing style is one of the main things that drew me to your site in the first place! (Well, that, and your good taste.)

So thank you sooo much for creating such an amazingly supportive, creative spot on the net where fans can go to discuss/lament/squeal over all their favorite shows and actors. I feel like I've been a part of this site from it's early years, back when you were doing recaps for Que Sera Sera, so I got to see it evolve and grow as k-dramas became more popular, mainstream, and legal (though to this day, I mourn the loss of D-Addicts and clubbox, and the excitement that came with hunting down subs). I still remember GirlFriday's first appearance, and her famous coining of the term, "show" - and winning first place in your parody video contest all those years ago was one of my fondest memories (I still have the BOF CD and poster I won ~~ Almost Parrrradissssee ~~ haha)! You guys were always coming up with such fun and creative ideas, I must have checked this site a dozen times a day! So even though I was (and still am) mostly in the background, lurking quietly, I just wanted you to know how much I continue to love and appreciate your site.

Though it's sad to see that you and GirlFriday have moved on, I hope you're both happy and doing well at your current jobs! I'll just have to continue stalking you on Twitter now that I know you're still watching on the down-low lol.

Also, when are we getting Part 2 of Why Dramas Do that?! I'm waiiiiting. ;)

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I've been reading this blog since 2008/2009, and I completely understand that you and girlfriday would have to step back and let others manage the site. I'm glad you didn't close down the site. You've both done a great job with Dramabeans. I will always be grateful for this site, even though I'm not as active as I was before.

I wish you all the best, javabeans and girlfriday. :)

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Thank you @javabeans and @girlfriday for creating and maintaining DB .
Fighting in your life path , hope you conquer it successfully and drop by to grace us with your presence again 💜💜💜

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I missed your and girlfriday's contributions enough to look up your Twitter to see if you were writing somewhere else and found this. Thank you for this.

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I really enjoyed reading your comprehensive backstory. Thanks for making DramaBeans! <3

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