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K-drama problems: A matter of time

Contrary to what we might sometimes think, K-dramas ask a lot of their viewers. While we might not have to decode unique, stream of consciousness plot lines, we still have to do things like suspend our disbelief, and make peace with a jungle of storytelling telling tropes. But of all the things that K-dramas ask of us, there’s none as great as this: the time it takes to watch them.

Watching a K-drama is nothing less than a serious time commitment, and I can’t think of another television industry that produces and broadcasts shows with quite the same passion — and breakneck pace. There’s a stack of new dramas every few weeks, and each one has its unique appeal. If only there was time to watch everything.

When presented with so many drama options, we have to exercise choice: which drama is calling me the loudest? What sort of story am I most in the mood for? The time commitment of a drama almost necessitates this sort of drama triage. Time, after all, is one of our most precious possessions.

I’ve been digging into some time management research lately, partly out of the desire to spend my time as best as I can, and partly out of a desperate attempt to squeeze more productive hours out of my days. Like most, I could use a few more hours in a day to tend to all my responsibilities and still have downtime (i.e., time for interests, hobbies, and rest).

Aren’t we lucky that K-dramas can equal a hobby and relaxation time all at once? There’s nothing like the feeling of putting your feet up after a long day and relaxing to the next episode of your latest favorite drama. I’ve often talked about how drama time has almost become restorative time for me — I can let go of the pressures and events of the day, and jump into a beautiful world of fiction for an hour. Or two hours. Or, you know, several hours, if I’m marathoning through a particularly addictive drama.

But as much as I love my K-drama medicine, I still found myself needing to create some boundaries. I only have so many hours to myself each day, and I don’t really want to spend every spare moment I have staring at the screen. Because as great as dramas are, with their delicious stories and beautiful faces to stare at, there is also something to be said for other ways to spend our free time.

Some researchers have divided these recreational activities into two categories: effortless fun, and effortful fun. Effortless fun is easy — that’s why it’s effortless. Take out dinner and clicking play on your K-drama and/or Netflix queue are effortless; they don’t require much from us to enjoy them.

Effortful fun, though — is that even a thing? Should fun require effort? Actually, yes, research suggests that sometimes it should. Signing up for an art class, planning a day tour with friends, or even working on a handicraft — these are examples of effortful fun. They require something of us in terms of intention, planning, and even skill. This kind of fun is important because it’s how we try new things and make new memories.

I love this topic and discussion, but it did make me stop and think about my own “fun” and how much of it fell within the effortless category. My conclusion? I needed to push myself to do a little more effortful fun, and perhaps I needed to rein in my effortless fun. Just a smidge.

As such, I developed some dramaland rules. The first generation of my rule was that I was only allowed to watch dramas on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Now, if I had no commitments, I could plow through an awful lot in that time, but still, it was a way of controlling the drama tsunami — and it kept drama time special too, and something to look forward to during the week. However, it didn’t last that long. What if an episode I was dying for aired on Tuesday? There’s no way I could wait until the weekend to watch it.

More recently, I felt like I was spinning too many drama plates all at the time, and I created the next generation of my drama rules where I was only allowed to watch two dramas at a time. Really, only two. Assuming they are live dramas, that means four hours of watching a week — very modest, but also very much not enough dramas. Both rules are now defunct, and linger at the back of my mind, reminding me of a time when I had better self-discipline.

There’s no real moral of this story, just that with much K-drama comes much responsibility. There will be times in our lives when we can watch more, and indulge, and then there will be times when we can’t, and dramaland takes a back seat for a while. Both are a part of life in the ever-evolving dramaverse.

But, because I like to throw a wrinkle into my own arguments sometimes, I started thinking about whether watching K-dramas is truly effortless fun or not. Yes, queuing up a drama and staring at the screen is effortless. It’s not like practicing the piano or reading a book. On the other hand, I think anyone invested in dramaland would probably agree that it can be more than a purely passive endeavor — and here’s why.

The epitome of effortless fun, in terms of TV, is staring at the screen mindlessly, being inundated by stories (and even ads and marketing) without really being conscious of it. In order words, passive, reactive, and brain mostly checked out.

But then you have dramaland. For those of us who don’t speak fluent Korean, we’re being inundated with a new language in the one of the best ways to learn: immersion. Depending on how serious you take your dramas (or your level of inner nerd — and mine is high), you might find yourself picking up on inflection, intonation, use of honorifics, dialects, and of course, the best and most current slang. Similarly, some viewers rely on subtitles and read as they watch (yay reading!) which is working your brain with two modes of input while you enjoy your drama. Science.

But, even if you’re a native speaker (or if you don’t see dramas as a way to learn a new language), you can still watch K-dramas “effortfully” — we do it all the time. When we think about how well a character is being developed, analyze the clarity and compellingness of a plot arc, or even discuss how well themes and metaphors are pulled together — these are all things that make drama watching active rather than passive.

Perhaps it’s fair to settle on a middle ground, then, between effortless and effortful fun? While dramas are effortless and easy enjoyment, there’s also a level of effort (and even learning) that we can add to make them more meaningful. And why is this important? Because meaningful entertainment can reach other areas of our lives — and even enrich it.

Rather than only staring at the screen to check out of real life (though I recognize we need some of that too), we can also use that entertainment time to enrich our daily lives.

Maybe Crash Landing on You made you want to whip up fresh noodles like Hyun Bin did (that ramyun!). Maybe Splish Splash Love got you interested in learning Hangul or Korean history. Or maybe after watching so many dramas about writers, you finally hunkered down and started writing your book. It could be anything — the point is that it takes the passivity out of TV media, and brings it to life in ways that enrich us. It takes our effortless time spent watching dramas, and turns it into time well spent.

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Yes! Well put. Drama-watching is educational, lol. But seriously, watching variety shows has made me read much faster now in Korean because I'm trying to read the captions before they disappear.

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Yep, I can't keep up on those! Lol

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Watching Kdramas has made me a speed reader, compared to my previous reading speed. This is why I think watching Kdrama is mental exercise on three levels--learning a foreign language; learning cultural mores; and conditioning one's self to read faster.

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@missvictrix, I do struggle a lot with how much time I spend watching and what else I could be doing with that time. Especially when a drama that seemed promising goes off track, but I'm still invested in finding out what happened to the characters. I agree with you about a middle ground. I do feel that learning more about Korean language and Korean culture (even through the filter of dramaland) makes the time spent more valuable.

And as far as this : "When we think about how well a character is being developed, analyze the clarity and compellingness of a plot arc, or even discuss how well themes and metaphors are pulled together — these are all things that make drama watching active rather than passive." --- this is why we love Dramabeans, isn't it? Why we can't wait to get a discussion going about the things we love and hate, the things that are so perfect and the things that could have been done better, the meta references, and so on. Thanks to @javabeans and @girlfriday for creating this place to make our drama watching more "effortful."

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I never realized how much I pick up Korean language, and how much I actually comprehend the dramas I watched from both the subtitle and the native language until I started my Cdrama adventure recently. Considering how I never formally learned Korean, that would mean my drama watching time is quite an effortful one, isn't it? Besides, I'm pretty sure that shitposting about bad dramas like some of the beanies like to do isn't as effortless as it seems to be. 😜

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... :P I have no idea what you're talking about ;)

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I think the best example I have of the fruits of "effortful fun" in drama-watching is the time I put on the episode of some drama I was watching a couple of days after it aired and it took me five whole minutes to realize it hadn't been subbed yet...and I had followed along with the dialogue, anyway! That was a weird moment for me: thrilling because I had absorbed a bit of a new language without consciously studying it and a wee bit scary because I'd clearly invested way more time in Kdramas than I had meant to.
Now I've reached the point where I enjoy picking out familiar phrases and words and actively try to guess the meanings of others based on context. It's probably not as effective as a traditional language learning method, but it's definitely more fun!

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That IS a traditional language learning method. It's how we all learned language in childhood. It's also the method adopted by Berlitz Language Schools.

My dad who worked for Berlitz in Japan once had a student who got stuck on the very first sentence in his lesson because he couldn't understand the meaning of the word "airplane." He couldn't understand learning language without a dictionary, the way a child does--just listen to the words and get familiar with them, use them inappropriately if you have to; eventually you will learn what they mean. It is in fact the most effective method of learning.

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Ever since I started watching K-dramas a few years ago, I have been wondering why I only managed to finish a handful of them every year while every other Beanie just gobbled drama after drama without any interruption. Thank you @missvictrix for teaching me about effortless and effortful fun. K-dramas and practically everything in my downtime is effortful fun to me, due to concentration problems and not being able to multitask. Watching a one-hour episode, no matter how captivating, takes way longer and I cannot be doing anything else at the moment. Maybe I can give you some self-discipline in exchange for some effortless fun, that way we both can juggle multiple dramas on multiple days without any problems! ;)

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The bane of live-watching, I'd guess.

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I realised how much Korean I now understand. I’ve learnt new cultural references. I am able to tell a SK accent from a NK one! 🤣 educational fun?
Effortful fun for me is cooking!! So when I watch Take Care of my Refrigerator - I go try out a recipe. Same with Delicious Rendezvous. Or any other variety show for that matter.
I also make bucket lists of places to visit - most recently - Trans Siberian Railway! 🤣

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I get free holidays to Korea because my Mom wants someone who can speak enough Korean to navigate the not-seoul areas, which means me, and it's all thanks to 12 years of Kdramas. Ahahhahahaha.

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Maybe Crash Landing on You made you want to whip up fresh noodles like Hyun Bin did (that ramyun!)

Wait how did you know I made ramyun after seeing Hyun bin make it?

(Ok i made instant pho, i ran out of my ramyun stock TT)

Depending on how serious you take your dramas (or your level in inner nerd — and mine is high...

After watching too many crime dramas and intense googling, i think i know fairly well the laws in South Korea, much well than i know them about my adopted country...
This is where i spend most of my time,rather than actually watching the drama, i am reading pages and pages of articles and reserach papers about South Korea, last one I read was on reforms in Civil service hiring in Korea for grade 9 civil officers and grade 5.

Time management and drama
@missvictrix, oh high five, i have tried and failed at all those methods of controlling my time spend on dramas and googling about them... Even after the fact that i am very efficient at dropping dramas...
So my current rule is to watch only two episodes a day of any currently airing drama...and since i know i will binge completed dramas, i actually do that over weekend and it spills over because of my googling skills or rants or raves on fanwall...

Learning Korean

I actually watch Korean dramas on viki in learn mode and sometimes switch languages of subs from English to German or French (i am learning them) it's fun!

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I'm with you on the research, but then I'm a born researcher. I especially love researching Korean history, and always research where in the long list of Goryeo or Joseon kings the character in the historical drama I'm watching belongs. I've even resorted to keeping a list of the historical dramas I've watched, listed in chronological order by the time in history they occurred.

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High five, I think it's an occupational hazard, lol! Being a researcher means you can't help but be too curious and then end up spending hours on such things.

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I'm obviously not Korean. And I don't think I'll be learning the language at my age. However K Dramas have introduced me to all sorts of wonderful cultural differences and norms that are really helpful when I meet Korean people so I don't gross them out. One example is the complications of seniority and age along with the concepts of oppas, noonas, unnis, sunbaes, and so much more. We Americans tend to be so ethnocentric that we surely would easily insult Koreans. So K dramas help us from shooting ourselves in the foot.

As for time, I'm retired with a grown unmarried son who lives in his own place. I have a lot of time to binge watch but have list a lot of sleep trying to watch one more episode. Streaming has its downside.

On another note I really relate to the Korean moms on the dramas who are always setting their kids up on blind dates. I have grandchild envy.

Happy Lunar New Year from a year of the rat lady. Hope you have great health, prosperity, happiness and love.

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@missvictrix Honestly, I don’t think that watching a good drama is effortless fun. I would characterize it more as meaningful fun/a meaningful activity. Story, be it in written form, be it in theatre, be it in movie, be it drama’s touches you. It makes you think about life and how to deal or not to deal with life. Yes, when you watch a drama you stare at a screen, but you engage with a story and that story can touch you … deeply. There are books, movies, and even dramas that changed the way I looked at the world and I could swear I was not the same person after immersing myself in that story. I can remember watching a movie in the cinema and after coming out I could have sworn that two months had passed because it felt as if I had lived two months of my life on screen with the characters. I became a part of a story I wouldn’t have encountered in my real life and went through all of the emotions together with the characters sometimes wanting to hug them or shake some sense into them. Going through the experience with the characters spoke to a non-logical part of me and made me see the world differently afterward. It wasn’t something that consciously changed.

Drama spreads a story out over a longer period in time. But what occurs in the drama doesn’t leave you at the end of the episode. Sometimes you carry the sadness of the story with you in your day-to-day life because the character has become your friend and you feel so concerned for her/him. Sometimes there are aspects to a drama you can’t understand and you sit and ponder about it while driving to work or during coffee breaks trying to figure out why the character is acting a certain way, trying to fill in the gaps in the story, trying to figure out what the writer is trying to tell you. You reflect on your life experience because sometimes it requires life experience to understand what is being said. And months after the drama I will have my eureka moment because I finally understood what the writer was telling me through an experience I had in my own life. Sometimes there are aspects of a drama that hit you so hard that you need to reflect on your own feelings and why it bothers you so much… that all is a meaningful activity to me.

I do, however, think that less is more with drama. I currently don’t feel the need to watch more than one drama and savor it and take everything it has to offer me. But I never feel that time spent watching a “good” drama is wasted time.

A “good” drama, to me, is a story that is not laid out for you but requires some effort to understand and requires a willingness to go through the necessary emotions. There are brainless movies/dramas [feel good movies/dramas] out there which I love too. Because after a draining day at work, sometimes you just want to immerse yourself in beautiful, fuzzy emotions that are like a balm on the soul and allow you to relax, feel good and get on with the rest of your life. They are wonderful as long as they don’t become a...

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[continued] They are wonderful as long as they don’t become a drug that allows you to avoid the “realness” of life.

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Thanks for your beautiful comment. It's what I think, too, but I wouldn't write it so beautifully.

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❤❤Yes to this!! It is beautifully thought out and written.

I think of the best dramas (or any form of storytelling, really) as exercise for the heart. I get to vicariously work through experiences all of which help to make me a better human- more loving, more tolerant and definitely more broad-minded.

Dramas are not all equal, but when one touches my heart, I sit and listen!

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I've watched A LOT of dramas over the last 10 or so years and there was a time I felt bad for investing so much time into this obssession of mine without getting anything worthwhile in return.

I've since gotten over it because I once asked myself if I really could live in a world without k dramas and answer was "Don't be ridiculous. Why would you even ask that?"

In recent years I've realised that dramas have given me much more than I gave them credit for. I've taken an interest in learning the Korean language and I'm making progress. Dramas have helped with my pronunciation of words and where I would normally be afraid of butchering a word, I'm much more confident saying it because I know for sure it's pronounced that way since I heard it in a drama. It just so happens that my effortful fun is related to k dramas. I didn't plan it but it worked out well.

Dramaland has also led me to some incredible friends who love what I love and who just get my crazy even though we've never met and live oceans apart. As an introvert I find it incredibly hard to make friends "out there" and let's face it, if I tried to explain the culture of drama watching and spazzing over an oppa or how moving it was to see a pair of boots cross over a wire they'd have me committed.

But here, in the dramaverse, my behavior is perfectly normal... i think. I may have invested an incredible amount of time into dramas but it wasn't all effortless fun. It was learning a new language, navigating friendships, seeing a culture and a people in a different light. It was, as someone recently told me, a form of self-care.

I think I can live with that.

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I used to feel guilty about watching K-dramas. But I'd visit a friend's or relative's house and find their TV *always on* in the background and always the worst garbage American TV playing. Suddenly I don't feel so guilty about those 30 hours I spent watching 'Reply 1988'. I think watching that series made me a better person. Can my relatives say the same about all the NCIS episodes they watched?

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Yes this!!! I have learnt a few or many good things about life through dramas even before experiencing them in my life. Good dramas are great for nuturing emotions.

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I don't just watch Kdramas, but they are the majority of what I watch. I feel that the reason I like a good movie and a good TV series is because I love stories. I love the creativity they bring alive; thanks to the writers, directors, and actors. I just plain enjoy a good story.

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And (k)dramaland is full of good stories.

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*looks at this post* *looks sideways at herself*
Effortful fun you say… *chokes on a 4k word essay*

Hey Sic why do you write so much? Why do you analyse so much? Why do you watch things you hate? Why do you shitpost? What is a shitpost? Why do you rant so much? Isn’t it exhausting?
Well, yes… and no.

I like analysing things. I analyse things all the time. Especially written stories, be that in film, TV or literature.
In part because that’s just how my brain works; it does it with everything. In part because I am also a writer and analysing other stories makes me a better writer and helps me learn ways of doing or not doing things. And in part because I like knowing how things work, and thus enjoy breaking down creative processes and storytelling.

On top of that I am a budding linguist and love history and all things language and inputting knowledge and learning new things. There have been many a sageuk to lead me down strange and wondrous research journeys from Joseon rice laws to ancient Tibetan seal scripts to sword making to Chinese mythology. And I enjoy watching things in other languages precisely for the foreign language factor, which means that yes, I too am like you and am constantly comparing the subtitles to my limited Korean and repeating new phrases out loud whilst watching.

Combining my inherent analytical nature, with my love of storytelling and learning means there is very little time spent watching, or indeed at all in everyday life, with my brain turned off. It doesn’t do that very easily.
Very occasionally I will encounter a drama which I can watch mindlessly, without analysing much of, however generally this never lasts for a show’s entire run, and then the analytical academic mind kicks in again and I feel the need, no I even thrive sometimes, off pulling apart a show to see what makes it tick, and why it ended up the way it did, for better or for worse (although statistically more worse than not).

As for shitposting itself, it is a combination of the things I like; effortful fun in analyzing kdramas, but also in making fun out of something that maybe isn’t that good and therefore initially that fun, drawing and writing, and making people laugh, having fun WITH people.

I like doing it all, writing and ranting and shitposting. I get something out of it.
For the most part anyway, because yes, it can be exhausting. If I prioritize my time spent analyzing a drama over say, sleep, or if analyzing (or shitposting) a drama is more mentally (or emotionally (or very occasionally spiritually)) draining than the process is fulfilling, we end up with a negative amount of beans from the whole affair.
And so I’m much pickier now, about what I watch, due to time and the amount of effort some things take to watch, even if it’s effortful fun, and about what is worth me writing about.

But even so, writing about something often helps. It helps me process what I just watched, it helps me figure out my...

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... opinions on not just the show, but storytelling concepts and procedures in general and often deeper things it might have bought up, and when I’ve finished writing (or shitposting) about it I can let it go easier. Sometimes I HAVE to write (or shitpost) about it so I can stop thinking about it, so that my brain can finally… shut up. Good or bad, it is done now, I have finished and expressed myself, I can move on.
Occasionally, a drama screws me up badly enough that I can’t let go as easily (for various reasons)… but that isn’t that common.

I know not everyone watches dramas like I do. I know not everyone analyses dramas as much, to the same extent or in the same way as I do. But I keep coming back here because you people seem to appreciate what I write, nay even encourage me to, and then engage with me afterwards, and I appreciate you for that.

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Oh no! Just found out I am an enabler. 😱🤭🤣

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How scandalous. tsk tsk

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Happy fan and hopeful enabler here!

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Same struggle but I just do not schedule it nor do I push myself to watch. I just resolved to watch 3 dramas at a time: 2 current dramas (so I could only have 2 hours of it each per week) and 1 old drama as an in-between the new episodes of the 2 new dramas. Hahaha Sometimes, it takes me several months to finish a drama and it's okay, just no pressure even if I also post drama reviews on Facebook.

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Oh god, THIS topic has finally come. *hides mirror because I can't face myself*... A few years ago I realized I was using all my relaxation time with effortless fun. And at first I thought it was enough, and it felt so therapeutic. It was a safe haven... But a few months passed and then I realized it wasn't fulfilling. Or it was but it wasn't helping me move forward or do anything with my life. I would talk to people and then I realized all I had in mind where the dramas I had watched the night before or all the studying/or work I was currently working on. I began using my passion for dramas in fuelling other likes and varying my down time. I just love your insightful essays miss v! Looking forward to the next one!

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I am a believer of all fun should be effortless. I don't want to spend any effort outside of 40 hrs work a week. It's true that I picked up Korean after years of watching kdrama, but I don't feel like I spent any effort on those.

Now I can watch a kdrama raw and understand about 75% when it's not using legal or medical terms. A little less for saeguk. But my brain picked up Korean on its own. It just works in it's own weird way, so I did not feel like I spent any effort at all.

And that is also why I love watching dramas, because it is effortless. 🙂 Maybe because I started since young to watch dramas only as entertainment, so I am just continuing to live like that. Sure, there are some dramas that provided a lot of food for thoughts, and I love those too. But in general, I've never lose sleep over drama or burnt my brain trying to make sense of one. In fact, only after joining DB that I have to spend a little bit of effort taking screenshots for my posts. 😋

I love dramas and I love effortless fun! 😁

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Turns out the «medical terms» are usually english medical words that are mispronounced by the actors (or from what i see in Romantic Doctor Kim 2)

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Hehe. I don't know what it is even in English, so I can't understand. Although in medical dramas, I don't really need to know the details. Usually I can tell what's going on from the dramatic scenes or acting

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I'm a hospital pharmacist and I can't help but go «yup that's the right procedure» or «wait they chose THAT drug?» or «why don't they do this exam first?» And I feel proud to catch their medical terms. (gotta win tiny victories some where)

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I like that kdramas can be both effortless and effortful fun and like books there’s ones to savour and ones to devour in great gulps. I tend to keep watching dramas to the weekend so it’s something I do with my husband.

I think watching kdramas certainly can build language skills, I feel I have a better grasp on Korean than I ever did with German after 3 years of high study.

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Like the author of this article, I am spinning too many drama plates currently and am starting to feel like a sideshow. I really appreciate the honesty here as it goes to show that good time management isn't always easily achieved. There's something about how compelling kdramas are (and effortless fun in general) that makes it so difficult to reasonably restrain oneself in watching them. Thanks for highlighting this as a universal struggle, as now I feel less alone!

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I was just pondering kdrama boundaries. What a great article to help put things in perspective! Love learning the language and about the food. Maybe one day we'll take a trip.

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(I realise after writing this that I may have gone a little off topic, but putting it out there nevertheless).

I loved this piece! What I would be also curious to know is what gets people into kdramas in the first place? And what makes them stay? Is it the storytelling? The foreign-ness of it? Or just because...?

Speaking for myself, I started watching kdramas fairly recently, only because they suddenly became easily accessible in my region. And I stayed because I loved the sound of the language, and the compelling storytelling, and the high-quality productions. But this wasn't unusual for me. To be honest, for the past few years, although I still communicate primarily in English, which is the only language I can claim to have some degree of native command over, I consciously try to read only literature in translation, and have stopped watching programming in the English language. Subtitles are still a crutch, because I have not as yet achieved proficiency in any language other than English, but as I watch "foreign-language" programming, I find myself mapping patterns and differences across languages and cultural habits. I also find myself exploring foods of different kinds, reading a lot more literature in translation (which sadly are not as easily available as one would like), and best of all, travelling with ears wide open. On that last point, it's amazing how much more fun a travel experience becomes when you visit a site like, say, the Eiffel Tower, and you can understand what the people around you are saying. Whom do they want to send that selfie to (yes - The Package comes to mind!)? Where will they head to dinner tonight? What is next on the travel agenda? 

I loved the line that Bong Joon-ho said at an awards ceremony recently - that all people need to do is overcome the one inch high wall of subtitles to be able to open up whole new worlds of cinema (I paraphrase, of course). If I were to extrapolate my own experience, I would say that watching in languages you do not already speak makes you more culturally sensitive, and by extension, makes you much more relaxed and easy-going in life. Things don't rile you up so easily. And when meeting new people, you celebrate cultural novelty and differences instead of scuttling away in search of the old and familiar. 

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There's a piece on DB that talks about going down the rabbit hole of kdramas. Many stories there that answer your questions.
http://www.dramabeans.com/2019/11/k-drama-problems-tumbling-down-the-rabbit-hole/

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Nice piece! And the comments thread is awesome too! Thank you for sharing

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Great post, pickleddragon. I have watched many foreign language movies in my viewing life. I like experiencing how different movie makers in the world express the story they're telling. In fact, I always look at the foreign films nominated for an Academy Award each year, and pick out the ones I want to watch. Sometimes I even request my local library buy some of the movies. One of my favorites is the French movie, "Welcome." What a lesson in how other people in the world hunger for love and belonging.

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I do something similar! I look at year end lists in a few languages, and then look to see where I can watch the films. I don't always trust the Oscars. :p

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I don't either, but it's a good place to start. I worked at a library before I retired and picked up lots of good ideas about what to watch there--problem was my hold list was 100 items long.

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K-dramas changed my diet. I remember the first time I saw juk (rice porridge) in a series. 'Cheese in the Trap', the heroine's part time job in a porridge-only resturant, which I thought that was meant as a joke. But juk turned up again in 'Oh My Ghostess', 'My Ajusshi', 'SKY Castle', 'I'm not a Robot'. Long-story-short, I now live on juk. The 'proper' way to cook rice for me is to use 3 times the water and cook it for 4 times as long.

The most original use of juk in a series was 'Matrimonial Chaos' where the husband mumbles (in translation) 'Marriage is like porridge' and the wife responds 'Did you just swear at me'? 'No no! I said juk with a J!"

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As a writer, I really appreciate the way Kdramas are set up: 16-20 episodes of roughly an hour. It is enough time to do a deep dive into plot and characterization, but at the same time it is finite so there is a definite beginning, middle, and end, and usually a well-developed story arc... each drama a little novel, and so many to choose from.
Long ago I gave up on American TV, where well-written shows were "rewarded" by becoming endless years-long slogs of similar stories and zero growth in either character or plot. Kdramas brought me back to enjoy the medium once again.

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Time really isn't a restraint for me when it comes to watching Kdrama. I'm retired and live in a dreary, rainy part of the U.S. were being inside is a winter long condition. I also live alone, so when I wake up @2am--I can watch Kdramas until I feel sleepy again. My big problem with Kdarma if finding a place to watch the dramas I'm interested in. I'm so surprised that the inventive South Koreans haven't seized on the the idea that they should turn out their dramas with English subtitles already attached. They should know by now that English speakers gobble up their dramas, and pay to do so. Therefore, it would make it much easier for the watchers and the producers of such fare to make it immediately available for consumption by their English speaking audiences.

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To me dramas have been helping me in understanding how to express my feelings in a healthy way to my family and friends. I am really not good in understanding and expressing my feelings and that often ended up in me become angry in frustration. But watching dramas you see characters allowed to showe their feelings and verbally expressing them, witch made me analyse how to understand my own feelings and expressing them. It really have helped me and made me better person to my dearest people. Therefor dramas have become more than just passing time but also a way to learn something about myself.

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Kdrama has been a great substitue for reading for me. I find that I could not find the focus, energy or time to properly read a book while jugglung between full time work, home and motherhood. I can enjoy kdrama while cooking or doing house chores. I also can still digest it at the end of the day when I'm fully exhausted.

Frankly I'm grateful to find kdrama. I can think of other options other people choose to escape reality that are destructive. I choose Gong Yoo or Hyun Bin affliction any days over hangover or drug/pill haze.

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thank you for this article...i have similar thoughts but don't think i could have articulated my thoughts so nicely as you and everyone else have put it...kdramas changed my life (and its only been a year since i started them), i've learnt from them, get inspired by them, found laughter and tears in them, and i love the online community i've found...ever since i can remember, other than watching tv shows, i didn't have much interest in hobbies etc, plus i'm an introvert with limited human interactions, so whatever little of life i know is from the world of watching tv, but with kdramas it's another level altogether, the precious hours of sleep i've lost so far, but at this point, i feel like its (i.e the binge watching session) all been worth it:-)

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Nicely put. Drama watching isn't as effortless as one might think it to be, & depending on what type of watched you are, it can be a different experience for you.

Ha how I wish I was an effortless watcher.

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I'm not an effortless watcher. I'm a gif-person, I want to gif anything that catches my eye. Hence the reason I usually watch only 1 drama at a time. And I also like to talk/rant/share my drama watching experience, that takes lots of effort too. Hahahahaha 🤣

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I'm very rant & reaction prone, & having dipped my toes into gif making madness I can sympathise. ___Definitely not an effortless watcher!

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The best thing I did for myself as a kdrama viewer was to allow the word “dropped” into my vocabulary. For some crazy reason when I first started watching kdramas I assumed a rule: “Start a drama, finish a drama”. Talk about going from effortless to effortful. So after starting and completing 55 kdramas I encountered CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD (March 2018). I did not immediately realize that it would be my emancipation. The English subtitles were so poor that I threw in the towel after 4 episodes. Now I am not afraid to let one go. Right now my ratio looks like for every three dramas I complete I drop one.

Over the last several years I have planned trips late in the year that generally last about 2 weeks. That messed up my kdrama viewing and I found myself in serious catchup mode when I returned. So at the end of 2018 and 2019 I decided to skip the final cycle of dramas that end a year and carry over to the new. Sort of take the end of the year off to rejuvenate and get ready for the new year. Now it is kind of scary at the number of upcoming dramas that I want to check out.

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Children of a Lesser God now has good subtitles. Even when it was airing dramamilk was live recapping it so proper translation was available in some form. But kudos to you, I heard the bad subs were suggestively funny 🤣🤣🤣

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Interesting article. There are many different ways to watch a TV show.

Immersive: getting totally involved in all the nuisances, character actions, procedurals, clues, plot lines to develop one's own plot theories. It is a show that screams for analysis. LOST was that type of show.
Rollercoaster: understanding and buying into the show premise, but allowing oneself to just react to the unexpected plot twists and turns, however bonkers. You are a passenger on the director's and writers' wild ride. 9.9 Billion Won Woman was that type of show.
Pure Entertainment: where one suspends belief in the premise, facts, situations or story to just ask the show "to entertain me!" These shows have strong actor performances to carry the show. Crash Landing on You is that type of show.

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I'm unemployed so watching dramas are easy. I have all the time in the world to watch. There's so many dramas but i usually just pick something's unusual like fantasy or scifi dramas. Some mystery dramas if I'm interested.
I'm really selective in choosing what drama to watch next. I don't have the need to watch every single dramas that is currently airing.

Watching kdramas actually effortfull though. We still need to analyze the plot and understanding what's happening. Even more effortfull for mystery kdramas.
Another effortfull activity that i really enjoy is gaming.

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