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[Changing Tastes] Same old love with my own customized rules


Queen In-hyun’s Man

By @fatcat007

While thinking about the theme of this month, initially I came up blank because when I thought over my taste in K-dramas, the only theme that came up in my mind was romance. So I made a list of all the dramas that I’ve seen to date in order to see if my taste has changed over the years, and the result was, NO, it hasn’t changed, mostly. I still watch that same genre of dramas that I used to watch back in my college days. I realized I had no context to write. I even posted on the fan wall of DB because I was so upset. Fortunately, another Beanie’s comment (bless her) helped me see a new perspective on my “same taste forever” theme, and I felt I could scrap a few words together.

So I studied my drama list and ranked the sections for different themes and found that my most watched theme was romance (obviously), followed closely by supernatural (which has romance), followed by noona romance, then mystery/thriller (most of which has romance lol), and last but not least, school – friendship – music band – coming of age – slice of life, and lastly a couple of sageuks, two sci-fis and ONE family drama (Ojakkyo Brothers).

However, I found that over the years I’ve developed a weird habit. It’s like I’ve unconsciously customized my choices permanently, and any drama that doesn’t make the cut (for extremely petty reasons) is declared not worth watching (in my mind), even if that’s a popular one. So let me explain my rules, starting with my entry to dramaland.


Boys Before Flowers

The first Korean dramas that I saw were Dae Jang Geum (which made me a super admirer of Lee Young-ae) and Emperor of the Sea. Thanks to the national television channel of my country which broadcast these serials, I was introduced to Korean drama at that time, and I loved these two shows. However, it did not lead me to watch more dramas because I wasn’t that interested. And then a few years later I saw the anime of Hana Yori Dango and that’s when I found out about the Korean adaptation called Boys Before Flowers. I searched the internet about it and found my K-drama Holy Grail guide, DRAMABEANS.

What came next was an extensive reading session of a lot of drama recaps (thanks to JB’s and GF’s writings) followed by a mad search to watch the episodes. To date this habit has stayed, and it’s my Rule #1: Reading complete recaps first before watching the drama.

This is very important to me because the recaps always help me decide whether to watch a drama or not, they also help me to enjoy a drama more than I would’ve originally, I enjoy the subtle elements pointed out which I wouldn’t have noticed by myself. So Boys Before Flowers was the first drama that I saw, followed by Playful Kiss and so on. I wouldn’t watch them over again (not that I hate them, but I find them cringy now…) but they were fun to watch back then. I also found a few favorite dramas like Coffee Prince, My Name Is Kim Sam-soon, Mixed-up Investigative Agency (I love treasure hunts), Queen In-hyun’s Man, Answer Me 1997 (‘88 too!), etc.


I Need Romance 3

I’ll use the dramas that I like and don’t like as examples to explain the rest of my (petty) rules, starting with noona nomance.

I didn’t like I Need Romance 3. There I said it. But I don’t hate it, it just doesn’t make it to my favorite list. I pondered over why, because while I really liked dramas like The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry, I Do, I Do (despite its awful plot), and Witch’s Romance on the other hand I didn’t like this popular drama. That’s when I realized my (stupid) Rule #2: Age difference is fine but the girl should not meet the boy when or before he’s in elementary school because that is just too weird for me to process.

I was reading the recap of I Need Romance 3, and didn’t go beyond a few episodes when I saw Joo-yeon take care of Joo-wan since he was born and how that affected her life. I couldn’t comprehend how she would come to like him later when she has thought of him as a baby for so long. So I skipped to the final episodes when they got together and Joo-wan was so romantic I almost felt like giving in.


Bring It On, Ghost

And just like this, I’ve more silly rules for watching dramas. Rule #3: Strong, brave, kickass and confident female leads are the ultimate. Hyun-ji from Bring It On, Ghost was an ideal character — being a timid person myself I always admire the ladies who are strong and Hyun-ji was just that kickass person, both physically and emotionally. Mi-ho from My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho and Chung from Legend of the Blue Sea were naïve but not exactly damsels in distress. Jang-geum from Dae Jang Geum was also an exemplary character: Not only was she super-talented, but also such a brave woman who never gave up in any circumstances. These ladies were my heroes.

Rule #4: No silly or airheaded heroine. Silly heroines make fools of themselves in front of others which I find sad for some reason. I never like the girls to be at any disadvantage and being mocked.

Rule #5 says: I’m willing to gloss over every minute and major plot holes and flaws as long as I find the chemistry between the leads satisfying (while not violating Rules 2 & 4). The latest example of it is Strong Woman Do Bong-soon — honestly I just survived through the show because of Min-min and Bong-bong, heh. Everything else was so horrible but I’d still watch it all over again skipping through everything except the leads. Because of this I have dramas that I like simply because the leads’ interactions were amazing, sometimes sweet and charming, sometimes fun and playful, at other times subtle and sexy or simply innocent and pure, ultimately ending with a happily ever after tied up with a huge pink bow. To me it’s always about the leads, and plot comes a little behind that. I’ve got a big list of favorite dramas just because I loved the leads (most of them actually have good plots, but some have a poor script).


Strong Woman Do Bong-soon

Due to this stubborn attitude towards dramas, I’ve denied myself a good look at other genres simply because I won’t give them a chance. Dark melos, doctor themes, anything to do with a lot people dying (like historical sageuks, and political conspiracy), psycho killers, any angst backstory, etc. I actually have a list called “Dramas that are super popular in dramaland but I don’t like them that much.”

This has been constant from the beginning; 10 years ago I was like a cranky 80-year-old disapproving everything, now I’m this cranky 90-year-old who still clicks her tongue at anything that’s not to her liking. However, not until very recently have I noticed a subtle shift of my choice from the normal to testing out different territory. The newest one being Circle. I think DB and the Beanies play an important role in this. I read the first episode and although the futuristic setting and the alien theme made it so interesting, I found it a bit confusing, so I didn’t proceed. It was not until I read the raving reviews about it by all the Beanies that got me reinvested in the show and that was totally worth it (now I’m craving for a second season). This is probably the only show that I love which doesn’t have romantic love as the main theme. Thus I’ve realized, I’m in the process of changing my tastes, and though it’ll take some time to fully accept it (probably 10 more years, hee), I’m sure one day with the help of the DB family I’ll learn to open my heart to new things.


Circle

 
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We need to be friends stat because I have the same exact drama recommendations.

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Done!
Cheers to our friendship ??

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Please add me too! This whole post basically describes me to a T hahaha

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Welcome to the gang!! ???

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For most dramas I've read the recaps first simply because access has been an issue and I've so enjoyed the writing and reviews. I've discovered over the years, though, that there is the odd drama (and I do mean the very rare one) where I think the recapper isn't a a fan or wanted something the drama, deliberately, isn't doing (a certain romance line eg) - so there are 1 or 2 where I was put off a show I've subsequently watched and enjoyed. And then I wonder if there are others.

So it's a good general rule. And even when you don't agree that doesn't make the recap less enjoyable because the writers on here are brill. But I stopped making this an absolute rule a while back.

Ditto on airheads and I'd add soft-headed idiots. The contrast of 'nice' to 'not nice' for some writers in female 1st and 2nd lead has me tearing my hair out. I don't think a strong female lead is necessarily kickass or always confident. It's great to watch if so, but a nuanced well-fleshed out character is, for me, the key.

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I didn't like I Need Romance 3, either.

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Thank you @Fatcat007 for this good and lovely post , your "extremely petty reasons" reminds me of weird/unusual tropes IRL we consider normal in dramaland to create some of the weirdest and most enjoyable moments esp in rom-com ;) . I might have some rules like you but I never took time to figure them out, same goes with my dramas preferences , but as always too many dramas not enough time ?. Regarding recaps, I always read the recap after watching the ep : it allows me to watch without any spoiler and get surprised (too) easily and enjoy my drama ; then reading the recap gives me other point of view on the drama and understand Korean culture or reference, drama /movie parody . By the way, Mixed-up Investigative Agency is one of my favourite dramas, it took me by surprise and its OST is one of the funniest I know ?

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Mixed up investigative agency is one of my favorite dramas too. :-)

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I'm with you on the airheaded heroines, and I also tend to drop dramas where the heroine starts badass/confident/good professional and during the course of the drama gets dumbed down. That was one of the reasons why I dropped Secret Garden, the shouting main lead didn't help as well.
Generally, when characters starts screaming much I FF or drop the drama altogether.
I think I'm less forgiving on plot holes and running in circles, because I take it as wasting my time and the writer being disrespectful to me as viewer. Even though the Strong Woman couple was super cute and the killer was mesmerizing, everything else was pretty awful and I just couldn't finish it.

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I understand your feelings for Strong woman do bong soon because I was just struggling towards the end, somehow I managed to finish it ?
I sometimes rewatch only the leads part, ignoring everything else...

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I'm very entertained by your article ?? I like that you have well-defined rules in your drama-watching. Sometimes my reason for not watching a drama can be so petty, like I just don't like the look of one of the leads even though he/she may be a good actor. I mean if I'm forced to be objective, I can see why fans consider he/she pleasing to the eye but hey, I just don't like the face although these days I try to be more mature and see the merit of the story (try is the operative word here hee...)

And sometimes I just don't like a drama for no apparent reason haha - not even 80 years old and cranky ?

Anyway good job on the article! Hoping to read more from you in the future!

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" like I just don't like the look of one of the leads even though he/she may be a good actor " lol same!! ? if I don't like the actor in the drama then I just don't like them, even though I can totally see that they have skills & are popular hee ?

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Except for rule #1, I can say your rules are similar to my rules too :).. despite being a huge fan of noona romance, i can't really explain why I didn't like I need romance 3.. i thought its due to lack of chemistry between the leads, but thinking back now its probably due to the same reason you didn't like it too..

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Nice post! I love your (petty) reasons cos I too have my own. Like I can't watch noona romances with a big age difference 'cos of the reverse dynamic. I feel like instead of the hero taking care of the girl, it's the other way round, like raising a kid. I watched a few eps of I Need Romance 3 too and when I saw those flashbacks of the heroine taking care of the kid, I stopped following it.

Your rule #1 is completely opposite my own: I have to watch the whole drama first before reading all the recaps so I can form my own impression and opinion as I've found sometimes I can be quite impressionable. It works really well when I looove the drama cos it's like I can enjoy it twice through different mediums. The only sad part is I can't actively engage in the discussions :(

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Yeah having one's own opinion is important. Reading the recaps may make slight changes in my own opinion.... But sometimes I've found the reverse order applying in my case, some recaps make the show more likeable than I would've found them to be, had I watched them first.

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I just mostly make a note of watching the final episode first.If the drama doesn't end with an ending i like i don't watch it. As a result i hardly ever watch a K- drama that isn't complete. i tried once more with Scarlet Heart Ryeo and it really broke my heart so i was doubly determined not to go that route then SongSong couple in DOTS happened so i decided to give it a shot once more. i guess we wall have our tiffs

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Guess you don't mind spoilers then?! Me too ?

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So I am with you on the icky babysitting love story in other dramas but I have to say that I Need Romance 3 worked for me because she met, fell for, and even got physical with the Sung Joon the "man" not knowing he was the baby she used to take care of when they were young. I just rewatched it a second time recently and I love how their past influences their future love once she discovers who he truly is - it's a very sweet drama and I now call my dog "sweet potato" in Korean as a nickname!

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That's mostly the reason why so many people like that show...I know its good but my stubborn self refuses to acknowledge it ?
I don't impose my preference on others either, like I can recommend this drama in the noona romance genre to a k-drama newbie, but deep inside I refuse to accept it (forgive my childishness)

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This was super amusing. Thanks for sharing your entertaining preferences.

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@fatcat007, your rules are GOLDEN!
Your K-drama adventure is almost similar to mine.
Boys over flower was the first kdrama i watched. I watched it in youtube and sadly, the last episode wasn't uploaded! (Imagine the panic is was in). That made me scuffle and went all over the in internet to look for a recap - which of course, led me to dramabeans! Another thing is true... BoF was fun then, but its not something I'll ever gonna watch again.
I also try to steer away from dramas that are currently airing (with difficulty, of course).
I'm a sucker for happy endings (Memories of Bali still haunts me to this day!)
Not too inclined to watch noona romances (although I'm a noona myself) well, because of the same reason as yours!
And lastly, I always have high regard for drama ratings of Dramabeans, i usually decide which dramas to watch according to its ratings.

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Oh God they published this! (thank you for finding my article worth publishing because I feared it wasn't good enough T.T ? )
*cries tears of joy* TT.TT
*is now overcome with embarrassment & now acting bashful & grinning from ear to ear*
*Takes leave before making more ridicule of self*

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wow well written!! couldn't agree more with rule #4 - especially dislike those damsel in distress characters and also noble idiot tendencies. fight my way became one of my favs of all time because of how blatantly honest the leads were with one another and it was so refreshing to see that in a korean drama. also agree with rule #5! it's okay that's love, reply 1997, W and the 1% of anything remake had a few of the best couples imo (in terms of chemistry). and the secondary couple in high society. major cuties

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i am guilty of harboring drama grudges...

this means taking years to learn to like Joo Sang Wook (he finally won me over in Cunning Single Lady) because i hated, hated his doormat character in The Thorn Birds - and also Kim Min Jung in that same drama because she was such a terrible person, but she won me over in Man X Man with her doofus, derpy, endearing character.

early on in the beginning of my kdrama addiction, i watched Stairway to Heaven and developed a grudge against Kim Tae Hee's horrible, horrible bratty character... until i watched My Princess.

most recently, it was Hyeri - i felt she was terribly miscast in The Entertainer - but truly enjoyed her portrayal as Deok Sun in Reply 1988 (which i just marathoned last weekend).

and then i think my irritation with the husband mystery overkill in Reply 1994 made me hold off watching R1988 for all the wrong reasons!! i am now so happy having watched it, it was so good -- the whole ensemble...

i will try harder not to hold petty grudges anymore!

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I too hold serious drama grudges Haha
Because of the SLS I felt from reply '94 , I approached '88 with caution, thank goodness it was so well done.

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Thank you for the Post, @fatcat007.
Due to your taste and rules... i wonder if ypu skipped I Hear Your Voice, due to the fact that HS met SH again when he was in high school....
If so, try to overpass that rule and go watch it, because it has everything you like, and it is very good.
On the other hand, the way you started KDramas is similar to how i started, and yes... i also found DB a little after starting to watch, and got hooked, and followed suggestions, as long as i knew in advance i would love this or that drama, and usually.... it worked.
Recently i have become more aware of the writing, directing or producing of a drama, in order to decide to watch (or keep watching)... i.e. Chicago Typewriting. This one, only by the plot and teasers, i would have passed, but thanks to the beanies i did not, and it was amazing!
So yes... more or less i think, even with new faces, some of us keep the same taste over and over again.
I wanted to post as well for the theme this month but felt exacyly like you, that my taste hasnt changed.
And yet... we grow older. A little more of meditation, and there must be differences. We just have to search them more carefully.
Thanks again! ?

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Aha....so you caught on to that...?
I did watch it till the end, it still didn't sit well with me...for many reasons apart from the age difference thing...I got serious SLS , too many dead people...I don't do well with tragic loses & angst back stories... ?

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You know, we like what we like. I think that your taste in dramas has changed over the years, in that it has become more discerning in what appeals to you. If you watch something that does not meet one of your rules, then it is a very conscious effort on your part - a sign that you can willingly step out of your comfort zone once in a while, and also a sign of curiosity. All very normal. I say keep doing what you're doing. It seems to work for you!

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"K-drama Holy Grail guide" the most apt description of Dramabeans EVER! Hahaha

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Interesting read :)
If you are interested to venture a little, you may want to try Tunnel. Its thriller and has time travel element. But at it's heart it's essentially the love of a husband that makes our male lead persists and never give up to return to his love Yeon Sook in the 1980+.

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I've seen tunnel , bit sad to see that his family was not intact in the future 2017 but yes it's heart was love.

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Having rules about drama-watching never crossed my mind until now(thanks to you) and I'm starting to realize that I also have those maybe I'm just too lazy to face it or specify it one by one but at least now, I know. That's a very entertaining read! :)

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I feel like I could have wrote this myself! This is exactly what I do except for a slight difference on number one. I usually try and give a drama a chance by watching the first episode first and seeing how I feel about it and if it's great, then I binge. However, if it's only okay, I read the recaps to see if it'll get better. Alternatively if the heroine starts caring about the guy I'm not rooting for, I read to see if she changes her mind and if not, I'll drop it (even if it's a great one like Answer me 1988....). I totally agree about the silly heroines idea because I literally couldn't watch 'She was pretty' because her hidden identity was only because her hair was curly! 'Forest of Secrets' is the only drama I've ever watched without romance and I don't have a single regret because I may love it even more than 'Fight My Way.'

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That's a proper approach I think; watching first & reading the recaps later, however my weird habit not only emerged because I highly value DB recaps but also because initially I had difficulty in accessing the latest episodes & I love love reading ... A combination of all these things ended up with my 1st rule :-P

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I love reading too! I agree with you, Dramabeans recaps are awesome and I have literally read an entire series that was recaped and never actually watched the show! Haha I think that without dramabeans I wouldn't be into kdramas as much because there are a lot of subtle things that happen in a show that I can't understand due to cultural differences or bad translations sometimes which can affect how I see the show. Like you, Dramabeans recaps are important to me so I usually won't even watch a show if it hasn't been recapped on here

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I totally agree with EVERYTHING you said! Couldn't have put it in a better way myself :-)

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I love your Rule #1. :) I have always loved reading.. I used to devour romance books like none other.. heh. When I got into Kdramas and found DB, it was like two of my favorite things coalesced. So now it just depends on the drama on whether I.. watch-first/read-after or read-first/watch-after...and sometimes at the same time. Lol. I always thought it was weird that I would stop reading a recap for a sec to jump to the part in the drama to watch that part. Or if I was watching a drama and I was way too impatient, I would come to the recap and read, since it is faster. Aha. And don't get me started on airing-dramas that have me hooked because I will watch them raw..watch with subtitles..then finally read the recap. I might be a little crazy...but I am ok with that. :D

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" I would stop reading a recap for a sec to jump to the part in the drama to watch that part " honestly, if I could get easy & instant access to the latest dramas I would do the exact same thing lol.

And it's alright to be crazy I think,
us beanies have that inborn talent ;-)

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Though romance is not my favorite genre, I could relate to much of what you wrote. I really liked your rule idea, so I thought I’d add my own rules:
1. My Dramabeans rule: Show a little restraint when commenting (especially given the editing limitations). Unfortunately, I don’t always follow that rule.
2. Avoid huge gaps in maturity between romantic partners. I’m not a big fan of age gaps, but I can accept them if one partner is not significantly more mature than the other. If there is a big gap, the characters seem incompatible because their experiences and development, as well as their future paths, are too different. The possibility of an equal partnership is diminished, as well.
3. Heroines must be interested in different aspects of life (not just romantic relationships) and have worthwhile professional/academic/recreational goals that they are talented enough or dedicated enough to achieve. To me, this is the ultimate show of strength. It’s also nice if they do not completely disregard professional/academic ethics.
4. Heroines are wise and rational. This is a slight spin on your fourth rule to emphasize reasoning skills. The fool is good for a cheap laugh, but the rare heroine with wit or the ability to solve her problems in a calm, collected way is far more engaging.
5. Characters should serve a purpose within the story, instead of existing to cater to fans or to promote some product, trend, or idol. The story should have narrative momentum that keeps viewers engaged.

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If I had taken a mature approach to my rules, I would end up with something similar to your rule 1-4. I probably wanted to write a mature content like you, but my brains didn't support me ?

As for your rule 5, I think it's very important because that is something we all want from the show as viewers, & a lot of times we end up disappointed when the show caters to fan service instead....

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I am new to Kdramaland and I see myself forming the same rules as you! Haha! I read extensive reviews and comments here on DB to see if a show can stand the honest criticism here, and only then do I decide to give it 16-20 hours of my life. I've also formed a 5-episode limit before I decide to continue or end a show. Weak female characters that seem to have no hope of redemption or a turnaround from the writers is usually my major criteria for dropping a drama, no matter how popular it is.

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