Team Dramabeans AMA: Into the Dramaverse (Part 2)
by DB Staff
You asked us anything, and we answered! Thanks to all the great questions you submitted, we’re responding in three separate posts (you can find Part 1 here). Part 2 questions are less about our favorites/unfavorites and more about our experiences with all things dramaland. Enjoy~
Fine print: The idea behind this AMA post was for you to get to know the DB staff writers more, so we prioritized questions that leaned towards that. While we did our best to answer everything, similar questions were consolidated, and any of the more editorial questions were answered directly in the announcement post.
How long have you been into K-dramas? Were they a thing you grew up with, or came to later in life?
missvictrix: It’s been over a decade since I fell down the rabbit hole, completely by accident. I fell hard, and never looked back.
lovepark: I grew up with K-dramas and remember begging my parents to stay up late to watch with them. I don’t remember a lot of the shows, but I do recall seeing a lot of Choi Soo-jong and Cha In-pyo.
tccolb: K-dramas have always been a part of my life as I grew up watching them with my mom. I remember her being amused by my early actor crushes on Song Seung-heon and So Ji-sub, and she brought home photo cards and posters of them to put up in my room.
quirkycase: I watched my first K-drama ten years ago, and I’ve been watching them steadily ever since.
mistyisles: I got into them somewhere around ten years ago, and they’ve been a major part of my life ever since.
DaebakGrits: I discovered K-dramas in 2007. I was in college and finally had access to high speed internet (I grew up in a rural area). Being able to browse websites, like YouTube, and not have to wait an hour for a three minute video to buffer allowed me to access media that I was previously not able to view. Not to sound like a grandma, but kids these days will never know the pain and frustration of having a dial-up internet connection.
solstices: It’s been about a decade and a half since I watched my first K-drama! They’ve been an integral part of my life ever since, and I now have too many favorite actors to count.
Unit: I walked into the K-drama universe nine years ago, and though there have been seasons of drought and burnout, somehow, I’m still here.
Dramaddictally: I came to dramas later in life and have been watching about eight to nine years.
alathe: It’s only been a little over five years for me! It’s a total delight, gradually immersing myself in the world of K-dramas – though I’ve still got a lot to learn.
Who introduced you to K-dramas?
missvictrix: A high-schooler came to intern over the summer at my then-office and couldn’t stop talking about this weird show she and her friends were obsessed with called Boys Before Flowers. She told me the plot and showed me Lee Min-ho, with a fur coat and perm, who was set as her phone wallpaper. I was not impressed. Little did I know in about two months’ time I would be eating my proverbial hat.
tccolb: My mom. I remember watching them with her as a child and asking lots of questions about things I didn’t understand. This ages me (lol), but I loved going with her to the Korean supermarkets to get the newest episodes out on VHS.
quirkycase: Netflix, funnily enough. For whatever reason, despite having never watched an Asian drama in my life, Netflix decided to recommend Boys Before Flowers to me ten years ago when they had, like, five K-dramas. And here I am.
mistyisles: My college roommate (who technically wasn’t my roommate yet at the time) got me hooked. It started as a fun thing for our little friend group to do together, and then I started exploring new shows on my own. We still talk about K-dramas sometimes, but I’m probably the main one who watches them now.
DaebakGrits: As I mentioned in Part 1, I actually discovered K-dramas via Japanese dramas. It started when I found out that Hanazakari no Kimitachi e (a.k.a. Hana-Kimi), a manga I was reading, was being made into a Japanese drama, and then I realized there was already a Taiwanese version available. (FYI there is now a Korean remake known as To the Beautiful You.) After watching both, I began scouring YouTube for more Asian dramas to watch, choosing the ones with stories that interested me without paying much attention to their country of origin. Admittedly, I had a slight bias towards J-dramas after years of watching anime, but eventually Korean dramas rose to the top of my preference list, largely due to the creation of DramaFever, which streamed mostly K-dramas and made dramas more easily accessible.
solstices: My grandma and I came across Iljimae by chance while channel surfing one night, and we were instantly hooked on the drama and Lee Jun-ki’s mane of glory. I grew up watching K-dramas together with her, and while she’s since moved on to watching the MasterChef series instead, she still enjoys listening to me gush (and rant) over the latest K-drama fare.
Unit: I introduced myself to K-dramas. I was searching for something different from the normal shows I was used to watching, and stumbled on Boys Before Flowers by chance. A couple of months (and two other Lee Min-ho dramas) later, we got access to the KBS World channel, and it was pretty much game over! Back then, my eldest brother thought it was just a passing phase – as always – but here I am several years later still going strong.
Dramaddictally: Netflix. Some years ago I was living in South America and the Netflix selection was really small. They had few North American shows at the time but a lot of international content. I stumbled on a show about a girl running a ramen shop with the help of a group of good looking boys and started watching with no idea what I was getting myself into. It was so strange and captivating and (I didn’t even know this word existed at the time) swoony. When I emerged from my room two days later I had the sensation of having a crush — that really glittery feeling when you first like someone — and I knew I wanted to find more shows exactly like that.
alathe: Picture the scene: me, my mother, my father, and my little brother, watching aghast as the ending to Train to Busan plays across the TV. All of us, sitting in stunned silence as the tears just stream. Inspired by this, my mother was the first to explore the world of K-dramas: she introduced us all to the brilliant, zany Oh My Ghost, and I was enchanted. She and my father became certified K-drama addicts, plunging into dramaland with wild abandon – and it’s their glorious enthusiasm that I have to thank. I required a little convincing to pursue more dramas, but after watching A Korean Odyssey and Healer, I was sold.
Have you successfully brought a family member or friend over to the K-drama side?
missvictrix: I tried to get my brother to watch City Hunter with me, but he wasn’t enchanted for some reason and predicted every plot development in a sarcastic manner that made me never want to speak to him again lol. Fast forward to several years later when he enjoyed both Kingdom and The Silent Sea (but he only gets half-points because those aren’t tried and true K-dramas).
lovepark: Luckily, all of my family members and close friends watch Korean dramas, so I never had to convince anyone to watch. Most of the time, I just recommend shows to people, especially my under-appreciated babies.
quirkycase: Some of my family members have watched a few K-dramas, but they’re mostly the Netflix ones like Kingdom or Squid Game which barely count.
mistyisles: My sister and I share a lot of interests, so naturally I introduced her as soon as I got the chance. She’s my K-drama buddy, my K-pop buddy, and my travel buddy. And when we lived in different cities, there were often stretches of time where a huge chunk of our communication was solely about what we were watching or listening to.
DaebakGrits: Yes! I’ve converted so many friends and coworkers! Fun story: when the Business Proposal finale aired, a coworker and I had a pizza party in my office and watched it together. And more recently, I introduced another co-worker and her husband (also a coworker) to Extraordinary Attorney Woo. Slowly but surely, I’m going to turn everyone in my office building into K-drama fanatics. Mwahahaha!
solstices: The very first thing I said to the deskmate that would then become my middle school best friend was, “Please watch Six Flying Dragons!” In my defense, she was chatting about K-dramas with her friend, and I was obsessed with Byun Yo-han’s Ddang-sae and Yoon Kyun-sang’s Moo-hyul at the time. My enthusiastic entreaties worked, and we began enjoying K-dramas and K-pop together. Fast forward years later, and our friendship is still going strong!
Unit: My mum was my first convert, and we’ve bonded over many daily and weekend dramas. Fun fact, it took forever to get my mum to correctly pronounce some common Korean words. How does ajusshi and Al Jazeera sound alike? Lol. My second brother became a casual watcher because of me, but our eldest has refused to be converted even after all these years! Not even the Squid Game hype could get to him, and at this point, I’m convinced that he’s a lost cause. A good number of my friends are K-drama fans, so there’s not much ground to cover in that area.
Dramaddictally: Never. In fact, I didn’t even talk to anyone about K-dramas until a few years ago. Watching dramas felt like a secret that I didn’t want to share with anyone else. What I didn’t know until later was that a close friend of mine had started watching dramas around the same time, we just never talked about it.
alathe: I’m working on my social circle, bit by bit. My sister-in-law seems particularly susceptible – I made her watch some of the first few episodes of Alchemy of Souls while I was recapping, and she was very taken by the ludicrous farce that was our hero’s first duel with the Crown Prince… here’s hoping I can pester her into watching the rest!
What impact have dramas had on your life? Are they a welcome escape from stressful realities, or fodder for conversations?
missvictrix: I’ve written about this in a lot of editorials, so this is the cliff notes version, but K-dramas have always been like comfort to me. I watched my first drama when I was lonely and living alone for the first time ever; then, a few months later, I cemented myself as a drama fan for life when that same apartment was totally destroyed in a hurricane (true story lol). At the end of a difficult day I would curl up with the next episode of whatever I was watching, and it became my time of “K-drama medicine.” It’s part of the reason why the Candy heroine never bugs me much; at that time I needed so badly to take in stories of plucky heroines who never let life drag them down no matter what came against them.
lovepark: If they allow it, I can talk people’s ears off about dramas and go on tangents for ages. Otherwise, dramas are usually a welcome escape and fun pastime for me. They’ve always been a part of my life, and I can’t really imagine what it would be like without them (probably a bit duller).
tccolb: K-dramas are often the first thing I reach for, whether it’s to be entertained, or if I need a good laugh or cry. There’s just something about the storytelling that draws me in and allows me a much needed break from the real world.
quirkycase: I love stories in all forms, especially ones that transport me to new places or teach me new things about the world. Getting lost in a good story is something that has always been a stress reliever and safe place, of sorts, for me. K-dramas are so immersive, which makes them perfect for that. I think that’s what made them a regular part of my life. Sometimes they’re pure escapism, sometimes comforting, sometimes thought-provoking – they serve various roles for me.
mistyisles: Honestly, having this shared interest is probably a big part of why my sister and I are so close. It’s given us a lot to talk about over the years, and helped us understand each other on a deeper level. On a more personal note, K-dramas have been a reliable constant in my life throughout a lot of changes in location, career, etc. It’s really comforting to have something familiar to turn to when dealing with new and disorienting circumstances.
DaebakGrits: They’re mostly a form of escapism for me. I’ve always loved the clichéd romance and magic of (non Grimm) fairy tales, and most K-dramas are rooted in a similar sense of optimism. They are my happy place, and when I need to shut out the harsh realities of the world and get an endorphin boost, I turn on a K-drama.
solstices: As an avid bookworm since I was young, I’ve always loved delving into the lives of different characters and exploring their worlds. Fiction offers a safe space for self-discovery, catharsis, and introspection. Sometimes, finding a comfort character that I relate to helps me embrace myself a little more. And other times, pure escapism serves as a welcome relief from the bleak drudgery of reality. K-dramas tick all these boxes, and the dynamic nature of the medium enriches the viewing experience.
Unit: K-dramas serve as the biggest form of escapism for me when life gets too overwhelming. I find solace in watching an oppa and the random rooftop female lead falling in love, and for those few hours I can convince myself that everything is all right with the world lol. I also like to reward myself with an episode or two of a drama after a long day – and looking forward to that gets me through the day. Plus generally, K-dramas are a good form of entertainment. (PS: I made some of the closest friends I have right now through a K-drama online group chat. Most of us have met offline, and our friendship wouldn’t have been possible without the unifying K-drama factor.)
Dramaddictally: Rather than being an escape, I feel like they help me deal with real life better. The stories are so grounded in real emotions that even when they’re insane I feel some sort of resonance with them.
alathe: K-drama is a place where, for once, I feel as if the writers’ priorities mostly align with mine. The best dramas are the ones where I know that I’m having fun watching them for exactly the same reasons the creative team are making them. I’m in it for the intensely well-written romances, the deep characterization and the sheer scope of narrative creativity! They’re also important to me as a way of bonding with my parents – we’ve spent many happy hours watching back-to-back episodes of our favorite sageuks.
What are your favorite Korean foods?
missvictrix: So hard to choose, but probably doenjang jjigae. Give me an earthy stew, fill it with seafood, serve it with a bowl of mixed grain rice, and I’m a happy woman. I don’t eat red meat, so it’s a hard pass for me on a lot of the other dishes, but I also love bibimbap, bokkeumbap, and pajeon. (Side note, and if you haven’t had the fusion genius of kimchi grilled cheese you have not lived.)
lovepark: Kalbi, jokbal, bossam, bingsu, gyeranjjim… the list goes on! Though not a “favorite,” I also cannot live without kimchi — nappa, radish (yeolmu, chonggak, etc.), cucumber; I love them all.
tccolb: I can’t live without Korean food and there’s too many to choose from. For noodles, naengmyun and kongguksoo are on the top of the list. Meat is sampkyupsal always. For snacks/appetizers, tteokbokki and of the kimchis, yeolmu is definitely my favorite.
quirkycase: I love Korean food, but I’m also vegan. I’m sure you can already see the challenge. My reliable options are bibimbap or japchae if I go out – thankfully, I do love both so that works out fine. I also love kimchi bokkeumbap and kimchijeon. I’m planning to learn to cook more Korean food so that I can make vegan versions and have a whole variety of options!
mistyisles: Ohhh there are a lot, but I have a special love for sundubu jjigae.
DaebakGrits: Haemul pajeon. Soooooo tasty. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
solstices: Oh dear, I have too many to count! I love Korean cuisine the most — gamjatang, Andong jjimdak, galbijjim, kimchi jjigae, bibimbap, gyeranjjim, kongguksu, hotteok, baekseolgi, sikhye… The list goes on, heh. Plus, I enjoy cooking, and Korean dishes are my favorite to make because of how straightforward yet hearty they are.
Dramaddictally: Great question! I like pretty much all varieties of banchan — I like the idea of having so much food in front of me at once. I love spicy fish cakes. And I could probably live on just spicy dried squid. Also, japchae, jjajangmyeon, kimchijeon, and haemul sundubu jjigae are comforting favorites. Oh and steamed buns with red bean. (Can we start a food writing series on DB?)
What are your controversial, unpopular K-drama opinions?
missvictrix: Netflix K-content sucks.
lovepark: There are certain actors that should have never been (or should never be) given a comeback. In particular, I am not a fan of Lee Kyung-young, and it is a shame that he appears everywhere. I don’t actively boycott him, but I think his resurgence says a lot about the industry as a whole.
tccolb: There are a few actors that I feel “allergic” to and it’s really hard for me to watch their shows. It’s not even a matter of talent or appearance, it’s just a very odd (and purely subjective) feeling that has no sound reason for it. For example, Im Shi-wan. I don’t know why, but I have avoided most, if not all, of his shows.
DaebakGrits: I want to see Netflix tackle a rom-com or fantasy romance K-drama. Most — all? — of their dramas are dark and violent, and while I have still enjoyed a good many of them, I’d like to see Netflix put their budget towards something light and fluffy.
solstices: Tropes are satisfying when done right — they’re beloved for a reason — but they can easily turn into clichés if overdone. Not every trend needs to be jumped on, and not every tradition needs to be sustained. Maybe it’s just viewer fatigue, but I find myself steering clear from well-worn tropes, unless they’re cleverly subverted.
Unit: Multiple seasons are hardly necessary. A ton of us fled to dramaland because of the single season format, but now that S2s are popping up everywhere, where shall we go next?
alathe: I often like it when shows have a bit of mess, or loose threads, or glaring imperfections in them. Mess shows ambition. If that one plot line fell flat, or that other element was too jarring – well, that’s all part of the experience. It helps make the truly great bits shine.
What drew you to Dramabeans? What about this community do you like? How do you see your role as a writer?
lovepark: Dramabeans was the first blog I came across that was dedicated to discussing K-dramas, and I loved the wit, insight, and snark from the writers. It was also great to see so many people talking about dramas and writing long-winded analyses in the comments. As for my role as a writer, I just want to create a space for fun discussions.
tccolb: I stumbled across Dramabeans by chance and even though I was mostly a lurker in the beginning, I really loved the community. Although my family and friends watch K-dramas, most of them are not avid fans and it was almost magical to discover that there were so many others like myself in the world.
quirkycase: I initially discovered Dramabeans shortly after I started watching dramas ten years ago. After exhausting the minimal K-drama offerings on Netflix and Hulu, I had no idea what to watch. Enter Dramabeans. I loved the passionate, witty, and thoughtful recaps and reviews that not only helped me decide what to watch but also made watching it that much more fun. One of the best parts of Dramabeans is the sense of community; it has always been a place for drama lovers to discuss and bond over dramas, and as a writer, I just want to help continue to provide a space for that.
mistyisles: Upon finishing my first few K-dramas, I scoured the internet for more people talking about them so I could “live” in those stories a little longer. I bounced around a few blogs here and there, but Dramabeans was the one I kept coming back to for the commentary and discussions. Sappy as it may sound, over time Dramabeans became a place where I truly felt like I belonged, because K-dramas had become more familiar to me than a lot of my own country’s pop culture. I hope that as a writer, I can help cultivate that sense of community for others, too. ♥
DaebakGrits: I discovered Dramabeans at nearly the same time I discovered K-dramas. Back then, it wasn’t easy to watch K-dramas, especially when I went home for the summer and lost access to my dorm’s high speed internet. So before I, uh *cough* bought bootlegs *cough*, I wanted to make sure I was spending my money on a drama that I would enjoy. Plus, the subtitles on the bootlegs were atrocious, so I needed Dramabeans to help clarify what was being said in some cases haha. Before becoming a Dramabeans writer, I was mostly a lurker, so being out in the “public” so to speak, has been an adjustment. Everyone is so friendly, though, and I’m trying to make a conscientious effort to engage more in the comments section.
solstices: It all started when I caught School 2013 on the TV in the middle of its run, and wanted to read recaps of the earlier episodes. I found Dramabeans, and I’ve been an avid reader of the site ever since. I’ve always wished I could write for Dramabeans and give back to the Beanie community, so this is like a dream come true! I think that as a writer, part of my motivation comes from being able to spotlight and recommend excellent dramas that fly under the radar (since my taste runs pretty niche), while the rest can be chalked up to the sheer joy of writing itself. I’m a huge literature nerd, and I love being able to deconstruct and analyze the dramas I watch. I find beauty in how a single piece of media can spark such diverse interpretations, and I’m always grateful for Beanies’ enthusiasm in furthering the discussion in the comments!
Unit: Whenever I went online to check for K-drama reviews, Dramabeans was often the first site that popped up, and browsing through the site soon became a habit. I enjoyed reading the witty recaps, and I especially liked that people in the comments section were respectful of each other’s views and opinions. As a writer, I hope to have fun sharing my love for the dramas I cover with the rest of the community watching it or following through the recaps.
Dramaddictally: I was drawn to Dramabeans originally because it was the only place to find well-written recaps. I never used to watch on-air dramas, so if I started a drama and it seemed iffy, I could go read the first couple of recaps to see if I wanted to continue to invest my time in the show or just give up. Sometimes I’d find that I missed some details that actually mattered in the first episodes (and that would change my opinion about the show). The comments were also full of good information. The thing I find so different about the DB community is that it actually feels like a community. People come to hang out repeatedly (for years) and get to know each other through the site. The crowd is both welcoming and up for debate. And I feel a general sense of happiness around our shared love for dramas, independent of how different we may be in the rest of our lives. That is rare. As a writer, I’m excited to be joining DB history. I know how far back in the archives I went when I started reading the site and now I’m writing posts that are becoming a part of that archive. Pretty cool.
alathe: Dramabeans is a magical place: there’s no limit to how much you’re allowed to care, or fixate, or analyze – we’re all here to be intensely fannish about dramas together, and it’s delightful. When a fictional world is vivid and compelling, there’s this intense desire to do something in the face of it, and the in-depth discussions you get on Dramabeans really scratch that itch. I feel lucky to be a writer here. It’s so creatively satisfying! Mostly, my aim is to try and convey my own feelings of immersion in a drama – to “do it justice” is a phrase that always springs to mind, for me – and to make that as entertaining a springboard for discussion as I can.
- Team Dramabeans AMA: All About Dramas (Part 1)
- Team Dramabeans: Staff AMA – Submit your questions!
- [Staff Spotlight] Get to know alathe
- [Staff Spotlight] Get to know Dramaddictally
- [Staff Spotlight] Get to know Unit
- [Staff Spotlight] Get to know solstices
- [Staff Spotlight] Get to know DaebakGrits
- [Staff Spotlight] Get to know mistyisles
- [Staff Spotlight] Get to know quirkycase
- [Staff Spotlight] Get to know tccolb
- [Staff Spotlight] Get to know missvictrix