[Changing Tastes] From a hater to a lover
by Guest Beanie
When I started watching K-dramas, I was a college senior, hardheaded and practical and such a snob. I was an intellectual, damnit, and I knew that anything that involved hearts and starry-eyed declarations was beneath me. Even Romeo and Juliet earned my scorn—a pair of children playing at love, I’d tell people, shaking my head. Why were we so obsessed with them? I’d kissed a boy or five by then, and been left mostly unmoved by my various romantic experiences, so I thought I knew everything. If that’s all love was, why were the masses so fixated on it? Clearly, they weren’t as smart as I was.
Basically, I was not a big rom-com girl, and my early K-drama watching habits reflected that. I was way more into the heroics of City Hunter and Gaksital, the sick mental twisting of the students in White Christmas, the bromances that took front and center in School 2013 and Shut Up: Flower Boy Band than I was the flat-tasting romance of shows like Lie to Me or Scent of a Woman.
But the thing about K-dramas is that, almost inevitably, you’re going to have a loveline at least somewhere in your story. And the more I experienced them, the less my nose assumed its habitual place in the air. I defy anyone to watch Eun-chan and Han-gyul in Coffee Prince fall in love and not be moved. I consoled myself that that was probably a one-off.
And then Se-ryung and Seung-yoo in The Princess’s Man happened, and while their story was certainly set against a backdrop of epic politics and action, that wasn’t what I was watching it for. I was watching it for the way they did crazy stupid things for each other, and fought for each other, and defied their families, and their values, and their pasts for each other.
For the way they smiled at each other.
The Princess’s Man
After that, the couples I was entranced by came thick and fast—Do-hyun and Ri-jin in Kill Me, Heal Me; Jae-yeol and Hae-soo in It’s Okay, It’s Love; Hang-ah and her puppy prince in The King 2 Hearts. What I didn’t realize was that I was falling in love for the first time in the real world, just as my fictional characters were in theirs. My ability to empathize with and enjoy what I’d once dismissed as cheesy fiction was a newfound experience, and I was shocked to discover that now I was disappointed if a show I watched didn’t feature a single longing gaze or back hug (cough*Liar Game*cough).
I would sit on pins and needles for unnecessary things like plot to get out of the way so I could finally melt into a puddle of satisfied sighs when the hero and heroine made eye contact for the first time. Instead of rolling my eyes when the hero made a grand gesture, I found myself acknowledging that maybe it was unrealistic… but who cared? I wanted the fireworks in the sky, the roses in hand, the triumph of love over every obstacle the world could present.
I still loved (and love) shows like Bad Guys and Angry Mom which don’t necessarily tell love stories. But I don’t sneer at love-centered premises anymore. Instead, I queue them up, grab a pillow to hold onto when the feelings get too much, and let myself savor the delightfully delicious absurdity of time-traveling scholars falling in love with actresses or amnesiac grim reapers rediscovering their long lost true love. Maybe love doesn’t look like that in the real world, but maybe that isn’t the point. Maybe the point is that humanity is in love with love, and maybe, just maybe, that is one of our best and most redeeming qualities.
The King 2 Hearts
- [Changing Tastes] Understanding that things get complicated
- [Changing Tastes] Real life is sometimes more bizarre than makjang dramas
- [Changing Tastes] I came for the cultural differences and stayed for the commonalities
- [Changing Tastes] From the whole nine yards to the rom-com dreamboat
- [Changing Tastes] When your feelings have feelings
- [Changing Tastes] Rom-coms without the rose-colored glasses
- [Changing Tastes] From someone who doesn’t like change
- [Changing Tastes] My dad always said I’d learn to appreciate history someday
- [Changing Tastes] I’m sorry for ever doubting you, family dramas
- Theme of the Month: How have your K-drama tastes changed over time?
- What’s your dramaland catnip? Tell us your stories!
Tags: Theme of the Month