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[Drama Chat] The drama that would leave the biggest hole in dramaland

A recent Would You Rather post prompted Beanies to choose between having their favorite drama wiped from existence or having their most hated drama get a hit reboot.

While the voting results were heavily one-sided and without much debate, it did get me thinking about what would happen if certain dramas disappeared — poof — from existence and how that would impact dramaland as we know it.

Whether you like them or not, certain dramas like Boys Before Flowers and Crash Landing on You, have had an undeniably lasting effect on the global impact of K-dramas; others, such as your personal gateway K-drama, have shaped your relationship with the fandom. So, Beanies:
 

What K-dramas, if they were wiped entirely from existence and our memories, would have the most dramatic impact on dramaland and/or you personally?

 
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I mean YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL brought me to dramabeans, I’d probably eventually find the site but I was an obsessed teenager at the time and scoured the internet for any content about YB

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Ooh this is such a good one.
1. The Princess' Man : not for the drama or the actors, but for the OST. Such beautiful ballads. I still listen to them this day.

2. Goblin: It is not a perfect drama by any means, but for me, it encapsulates a lot of the humor and magic (literally and figuratively) that make fastasy kdramas so satisfying to watch

3. Kill Me, Heal Me: again a lesson in a great time if you can just enjoy the drama for what it is.

There's so many more OMG.

(and the prompt didn't ask for it, but OK the CDrama front, we have Nirvana in Fire the greatest East Asian drama of all time ❤️❤️❤️. Among JDorama, I can think of I Don't Love You Yet , which is a beautiful and frustrating drama about friendship and unrequited love.

I'll be back when I can think of more.

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I became a Kim Soo-hyun fan after Moon Embracing the Sun, so if the drama didn't exist...

For dramaland as a whole, without Reply 1997, we probably wouldn't have gotten the Reply series (and possibly Prison Playbook and Hospital Playlist).

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I think it’s safe to say that most of the phenomenon-level classics would have a pretty big impact if they disappeared. I know Boys Over Flowers was trope-defining, Coffee Prince is still on loads of peoples’ list of all-time-favs, and My Love from the Star made everything they showed on it sell out immediately. I also think we’re getting into important representation milestones in Korean media these days, but it’s harder to know right now which dramas will be the turning points that we look back on in the future. Certainly Extraordinary Attorney Woo got people talking and thinking about representation and neurodivergence, even if it was pretty narrow in the end. Other people might know better than me the first drama that had a gay main character (not counting all the MLs who are definitely bi - falling in love with someone they absolutely believe is a man) who wasn’t treated as a joke or killed off.

For me personally, it’s hard to top Crash Landing on You for impact; it was my gateway drama and is still one of my favorites. I really can’t imagine how I would have gotten into kdramas otherwise. Squid Game came out shortly after, but it’s not really for me (I’ve never watched it) and if I assumed most dramas were like that I wouldn’t have jumped in the way I did. Maybe something good would have popped up on Netflix eventually? To be safe, I’m glad I’m not living in the parallel universe where CLOY doesn’t exist!

In a smaller way, 100 Days My Prince was also important for me. It was my first drama that starred an idol, which prompted me to listen to EXO music, which got me into kpop! This one though, I’m sure I would have come to eventually, even if it wasn’t through Doh Kyung-soo and EXO - there are so many good OSTs that not exploring further seems unlikely!

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(Btw, this is exactly what I disliked so much about that movie that came out a few years ago that imagined that the Beatles’ music just disappeared overnight. They made it disappear in a vacuum instead of having the kind of ripple effects all over the music industry/world it actually would have had!)

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I would agree that CLOY had the most impact as it was the international pandemic gateway to k-drama viewership and that SQUID GAME puts the claws of international streaming platforms into the k-drama business which is causing serious local production and entertainment industry issues.

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Great point in 100 days! I didn’t fall in love with K-pop but it also brought my first awareness of the medium.
The music in the drama itself was great. The first drama I listened to the whole playlist

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Crash Landing on You was my gateway drama, too. I was an emotional wreck by the end; no other drama—from any country—before or since has affected me the same way.
But once I'd regained my equilibrium, I found myself hungry for more K-drama. Would the result have been the same if my first drama had been something else? Guess we'll never know...

I'd be curious to know whether Squid Game has had the same impact in terms of getting more people to watch K-dramas. Though I don't have access to the data, I suspect not. Its appeal to the vast worldwide audience I think is a reflection of the popularity of dystopian dramas and competition shows in general, rather than anything about the show that's inherently "Korean." I may be totally wrong here.

The other show whose non-existence would leave a gaping hole for me is Because This Is My First Life. With its imaginative, insightful exploration of ordinary relationships with a strong feminist bent, the drama showed me a very different side of Korean tv drama than CLOY. It was also my gateway into Korean musical artists (though not K-pop). It began my love affair with MeloMance and led me to some other artists who don't seem to be particularly popular here on Dramabeans. But that's okay... I won't judge you BTS fans if you don't judge me!

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I came here to say CLOY as well. I also agree with Squid Game because its success made Netflix pick up even more Kdramas!

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On a personal level, the absence of two dramas would mean I wouldn't have found this form of media, which would be very sad for me. C-dramas were actually my first entrance to dramaland (thanks, Netflix algorithm!), and my first-first was Meteor Garden. A few dramas later, I found Korean dramas on Hulu, and watched The Legend of the Blue Sea. It was a perfect first Kdrama for me... it gave me everything my fantasy-loving heart could desire, introduced me to most of the major tropes, and as our mermaid was learning about how Korean society works, I was, too (I still remember the little girl teaching her the usage of "unnie").

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Oh that is so helpful! Like a little crash course in Korean culture courtesy of an outsider main character! I still have this one on my list (story of my life) but whenever you mention it I bump it a little higher.

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Oh and another one - this is the drama that taught me what "saranghaeyo" meant!!! 🥰 I'll be looking forward to hearing your take on it when you get around to it! I was doing a little math this morning, and is it possible that this drama might have used ALL the tropes?? 🤔 either way, it was a great crash-course in drama watching for me!!

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Great point. It would have helped a lot to watch this early on. I will have to remember to suggest that

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I think it makes for a good "early on" drama, especially as an introduction to a lot of classic tropes!!😊

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Mr. Sunshine - for me, it was the first Kdrama that really consumed me and prompted my interest in Korean history. But I think it was also one of the first aired on Netflix that gained world-wide attention.

Vincenzo- such a creative story; who knew it was even possible to make a show about an Italian-Korean mafia attorney? Plus it combined the right blend of action, humor, legal antics with a smidge of romance.

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Vincenzo was important for me too (it was my third kdrama ever) because it is what prompted me to get into the language more. I could tell the characters were calling each other things that were different from the things that were being subtitled, so I started doing research on how people address each other in Korea. Little did I know how complex it can be! And that was my launch point into starting to learn Korean.

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Chief Kim
The gold standard of office comedies in asian dramaland imo.

Autumn in my heart/Stairway to Heaven/Winter Sonata.

The holy trinity of emotionally manipulative, questionably acted romantic melodramas of the 00's, they were the gateway to Kdramas for millions of people around the world and a legitimate global phenomenon, and they did it without the assistance of social media, streaming, tik tok or any of that nonsense just pure old school word of mouth incredible!!

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👌👍

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Autumn in my heart/Stairway to Heaven/Winter Sonata.

The holy trinity of emotionally manipulative, questionably acted romantic melodramas of the 00's, they were the gateway to Kdramas for millions of people around the world and a legitimate global phenomenon, and they did it without the assistance of social media, streaming, tik tok or any of that nonsense just pure old school word of mouth incredible!!

This. I couldn't agree more.

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I would pick Winter Sonata as the base of Hallyu, it was the big catalyst for everything that followed.

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I went to the "Hallyu" Exhibit at the Museum of Finer Arts here in Boston last week, and they had Winter Sonata as one of the biggest dramas that changed things too. They didn't do a great job explaining, so your explanation makes more sense.
(On a side note, I was somewhat disappointed in the exhibit. They could show the before and after of how Korea went from rag to riches, and the explosion of Korean culture internationally, but they didn't do a good job of showing in images, objects, or art how it happened. I did get to see the Parasyte bathroom and probably the Korean beauty products and the development of hanbok fashion were the most interesting sections.)

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I saw that exhibit, too! One thing I took a cell phone photo to share with my dad was the world's oldest book set in moveable type. I felt like that replica of the type tray explained a lot. Korea had printed scriptures before the west--and before they had their own alphabet. It was in the same part of the exhibit with the radio sets. Another part I thought showed a historical transition was the part of the exhibit about cosmetics. But now I feel I barely got into it at all!

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Re: "Autumn in my heart/Stairway to Heaven/Winter Sonata. The holy trinity of emotionally manipulative, questionably acted romantic melodramas of the 00's, they were the gateway to Kdramas for millions of people around the world"

- Spot on! My very first K-drama was Autumn in my heart (2000) and I watched it live in...2000🤣 on our FTA channel, as the Hallyu wave swept through Asia. I was a kid then, but here I am 24 years later -- a legit adult and still watching K-dramas! It's hugely nostalgic reading the thread on how fans recollect the different periods of K-dramas and thinking: OMG I have watched all that what a wild wild ride & thanks DB for growing up with me ❤❤❤

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Unfortunately none of these are available for viewing here in Italy
So many k-drama are not usable, both old and recent productions 8-(

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Boys Over Flowers and Crash Landing on You were already mentioned in the post, but first generation Hallyu K-dramas Autumn in My Heart, Winter Sonata, Jewel in the Palace, Stairway to Heaven, Full House, My Girl would dramatically impact dramaland the most. If those dramas never existed, then there would be no Hallyu as we know it and no Hallyu stars like Song Seung-heon, Song Hye-kyo, Won Bin, Bae Yong-joon, Choi Ji-woo, Lee Young-ae, Kwon Sang-woo, Kim Tae-hee, Rain, Lee Da-hae, Lee Dong-wook, Lee Joon-gi.

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Yes, Winter Sonata was HUGE back then. Its filming location became a destination for tourists. And it's Choi Jiwoo that was the Korean Queen of Tears. That was her nickname back then.

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Winter Sonata gave Bae Yong-joon his nickname "Yon-sama" ("Emperor Yon") in Japan. Its impact is so huge that even Crash Landing on You, a Hallyu drama that aired 18 years later, referenced it and Choi Ji-woo made a cameo appearance.

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Was that Winter Sonata? The scene with one of the ducklings meeting his crush? I thought it was Stairway to Heaven. Not that I've seen any of these older shows, I just remember googling because I didn't understand the reference.

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The duckling was watching Winter Sonata in North Korea at the beginning, became fan of CJW and could meet her later in South Korea.

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Yes to all of these!!

Dont forget "My Lovely Sam Soon" and "Full House" , they pretty much became the blueprint for every TV romcom in asian dramaland ever since (for better of for worse depending on who you ask)

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Secret Garden
You are Beautiful
My Girlfriend is a gumiho
Lastly, Moon Over Flowers
Without those I wouldn't have learned about the mesmerizing kdrama world and though I went on a pretty long break,I was sucked in again by crash landing on you.
Those dramas might not be on my top list but they imapcted my journey too much.

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Regardless of how much I did or didn't like the show:

Goong: Because my friend wouldn't have been able to practically bulldoze me into watching a non-sageuk.

Coffee Prince: Because I wouldn't have found Dramabeans while looking for one minor spoiler. I didn't even dream that there was so much content about kdramas online, so if it hadn't been because of CP I wouldn't have stumbled upon DB for quite some years.

Boys over Flowers: Everyone and their sister watched it, and talked about it, and asked each other: On a scale of 1 to BoF, how good is this new drama??? I once answered BoF is the "1" for me, and every person in the hair salon was ready to shoot me!! 😂

And most of all Dramabeans. The absence of Dramabeans, and Javabean's and Girlfriday's detailed cultural and entertainment explainations, would leave the biggest most impactful hole on me personally. Thank you DB 🫰🫰

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Agree with every single word. 🙌❤👏👏👏

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Without dramabeans, I don’t think I’d have consumed as many kdramas. Even during my slump years, I still came back to the end of year posts and read up on everyone’s favourites or top ten. It helped me choose what to watch next. I also think that’s why I primarily watch kdramas too. There just haven’t been other sites as good or engaging as dramabeans especially with such a great and interactive community. Like I can’t think of my life without DB in it, and this is coming from someone who has been primarily a lurker throughout the years

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Yes, Dramabeans quickly became my go-to place to find shows both new and old to watch. It also was super helpful in providing background and cultural context to help understand the nuances of shows that I would have missed otherwise.

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My perspective on Dramabeans is a little different. I had watched dozens of dramas before finding it and still to this day rarely read the show overviews. But I had no one to communicate about these dramas with. No one to laugh with, talk to, rant with or scream with delight with. That’s what DB has brought to me and it has now played a huge role in my choice in dramas, knowing the ending of my dramas and most importantly my enjoyment of dramas as I share my experience with you all.
This has been my most important Kdrama discovery

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I also found DB after having watched many many dramas. I started watching dramas in 2003, found DB in 2010.

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What great watch history you must have! And lots and lots of DB friends

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Back then, I blog-hopped between DB (mostly rom.com), The Vault (MrX's blog for sageuks and K-history), Thundie's prattle (for every genre), The Fangirl Verdict (for K and C-dramas, and she is still active): https://thefangirlverdict.com/ Outside Seoul, Koala's playground, Kolorful Palette (for Fand's artwork), Cadence, The problematic of the Unproblematic (K-dramas,(C-dramas, and Thai dramas), and more. It was so much fun, and I learned a lot!!!

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I'm sad so many of these have gone silent - I miss the variety of opinions and topics.

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I am sad, too. 😔I miss the K-drama community back then. It felt like finding a treasure trove - everyone was so supportive of each other. I used to spend a lot of time on Thundie's blog because she did recaps and reviews of the dramas I liked. I also looked forward to JB's year-end reviews, where he invited other bloggers to share their favorite dramas. It was such a wonderful time to be a K-drama fan!

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I found all of these other blogs through DB comments, year-end reviews, shared jokes... Truly the best time!

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Thissss, I've known dramas long before I've known DB but it was a treasure find to read and realize that there were other peaple out there that also LOVE dramas and love talking about them.
And today it's my main source for new dramas, recommendation and latest news.

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Goong - i loved it actually
Coffee Prince - yes yes about finding DB
Boys Over Flowers - it's a negative 1 for me!
*ducks for cover*

wrt Dramabeans - could NOT have said that any better!

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My response here comes in the form of a question. I know from listening intently to @midnight and @bbstl and other Venerable Beanies™ that there have been at least three distinct generations of modern K-dramas.

For example, earlier than a certain date in the 2010s, having actual kisses on screen was simply "not done."

So, my question to anyone who knows the history of this artform better than I do--and I am really eager to learn here!!!--is this:

Which were the landmark dramas that set the stage for the "next generation" of dramas? For example, which was the drama that had the first real-life kiss that opened the door for the rest of the dramas to do the same? Or, another example, which was the drama that was the first "fusion sageuk?" Which dramas really set the stage for changing a future generation of dramas?

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When I got here in 2004 there was already kissing (but not much! 😳) so it was before that. Kdramas felt like they were very old fashioned compared to US shows, like maybe from the 1960s and it was like going back to an earlier time (when people didn’t jump into bed on their first date but spent a long time dating).

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Exactly. What drama opened the door to kissing-kissing (like as in Freaking Fairy Tale or KTL) not dead-fish kissing?

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I think there was already great kiss scenes :
- Goong in 2006
- My Lovely Samsoon in 2005
- Dal Ja's Spring in 2007
Etc.

But it wasn't the norm.

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Right, great! So when and why did it become more the norm? Was there a particular drama that did it?

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@attiton See, back then there was no social media and intense drama deconstruction and analysis for us international fans to know this. This is something only a Korean would know.

I mean, maybe it was Samsoon, maybe that is why it became famous and we all watched it. But I for one, don't know at all. I knew nothing about Korean people's mindset or culture or network regulations or anything back then to notice the norms and the non-norms.

The only reason I fell in love with kdramas back then was how they had the ability to put the screen, and my heart, on fire by only one look, or sentence, or touch.
I neither stayed for the no-kisses, nor was unaccustomed to kisses to really notice that something had suddenly changed or not. And if it had changed right before I discovered them, I never knew because I had no way to know that.

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I remember everyone being 😳😳😳 about the kiss in Goong. Even them walking in public while holding hands in Goong was going pretty far as there was NO PDA in Korea.

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@bbstl Was it maybe because the characters in Goong were too young? Because Samsoon was a year before Goong and quite forward, no?

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@midnight

The last scene was really filmed in the middle of the crowd of no participants in my memories. It was quite unique.

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To reply to @midnight, the way I remember it is that the Goong kiss was noted as somewhat scandalous because of its … enthusiasm? On both parts. No dead fish on either side. Specifically , tongue was seen. ☺️
I can’t say if people had fits about SamSoon because I was new to kdrama and also there was only one US blog that I found at the time (CJK Drama, it existed before Javabeans started her blog) and people there didn’t talk about that. Samsoon broke all kinds of rules about kdrama so it surely loosened things up for everyone that came after.

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All About Eve (2000) had a kissing scene at the crosswalk when he proposed
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFxXFExs_p0

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Great! Are you suggesting that this was the watershed drama? When did such kisses become the norm, and was there a particular drama that did it?

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No, with my limited knowledge of Kdramas, I can't make any suggestion. But as far back as my memories can go (to 1996-ish when I got the first taste of Kdramas), this is the first good kiss that I can recall.

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@attiton Not sure which drama created the trend, but the introduction of cable dramas definitely helped.

The first time I saw not dead-fish kissing was in COFFEE PRINCE (2007), tho it did have two non-consensual kiss scenes. I’m glad that’s no longer the norm in kdramaland 😅

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Hmm... I don't really know about the no-kisses. Shows did have at least one kiss as far back as I remember, which is around 2004... I do remember reading an interview with the writer and actors of Dae Jang Geum (2003) where it was mentioned that the script contained a kiss (or kisses?) but Lee Young Ae was strictly against it and asked for it to be removed. But I don't know if it was a "her" thing, or "time" thing, or "genre" thing. My Lovely Samsoon was only 2 years later and had quite hot kisses and even explicit bed talk... I wasn't on anything kdrama related online content back then so I don't know if there was more backstory.

The one landmark that I do remember was when Javabeans started talking about JTBC and how it has the possibility to change lots of public network rules because it's cable tv. JTBC never did go too far, but I think it did considerably widen the range. I remember people being very excited when a Jtbc show was announced and looking forward to it more expectantly than other networks.

I was never much fan of fusion sageuks so I don't remember really😅 Maybe Sungkyunkwan Scandal? (2010)

On the whole, to really answer your question, I don't think I can divide dramas into clear generations. The only thing that does seem to be distinctly "the new generation" to me is the characterizations. The male leads becoming more likeable, the female leads becoming stronger, the second male leads becoming less of the "perfect suitor, why the hell did you reject him for that jerk", the second female leads becoming less screechy cats...

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Ah, non-network television, then.

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I mostly watched sageuks in the early days, too. The fish kisses were mostly featured in dramas from the three major television network on the Big 3 channels' dramas. The cable channels like CGV's "Eight Days; Assassination Attempts against King Jeongjo"(2007) were the first deep kiss and bed scene I've seen in a K-drama. I think it was NC 17 or 18.
Both of JTBC's first two sageuks, "Queen Insu" (2011) and "Cruel Palace" (2013), featured kiss and bed scenes that led to complaints from K-Netz about being too raunchy. LOL

Maybe "Stairway to Heaven" (2003) would qualify. It gradually improved from a fish kiss to something of a kiss kiss.

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Yeah, the early cable shows definitely pushed the envelope on both sex and gore.

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You know, I thought that was one of the reasons cable channels existed. We have the family-friendly Big 3s and cables for mature content. K-Netz still complains, though. I wonder if TVING would be that cable channel. "Queen Woo" will be NC 17 or something like that.

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I am having trouble finding it, but I have read somewhere that circa 2008? was when new broadcasting restrictions were introduced and dramas saw a change in how things like kisses/themes about sex were handled. It’s why earlier 2000s shows actually were more candid about these things than public broadcasting shows from, say, 2010. I’m thinking of Coffee Prince, My Name is Kim Sam-soon, Dal-ja’s Spring, etc. Characters had real kisses and actually talked about sex.

I swear this was a real thing I read, but I can’t find it anywhere haha. But it certainly tracks with the trends I noticed as a kdrama viewer! Slightly older dramas were actually (generally soeaking) more progressive/daring in some ways than the dramas that were airing on the very same channels when I first started watching kdramas circa 2010.

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Thank you! This is fascinating!!!

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So, putting what you and @midnight are saying together...JTBC began in 2011. I wonder if this was in partial response to these broadcasting restrictions then?

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Now that you said it... Wait a minute, I'll be right back!

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Ok, I haven't been able to find what I was searching for yet. What @mindy said reminded me of Park Geun-hye who was an extremely conservative president from 2013 to 2017. There was lots of talk about her at the time, like how she prohibited women from wearing too short skirts, and censorships. But now my search only finds a huge list of artists who were blacklisted because of the Sewol Ferry disaster and protesting against the government, nothing about drama censorships. So I don't know if I remembered it wrong, if it was only a rumour, or if it has been removed from the articles...

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Fantastic stuff, @midnight!

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Thank you!! So interesting!

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Yes, I've also found a lot of the shows from the 2000's more daring than many from the past 15 years - there are problematic elements as well as folks have mentioned, but they were often less formulaic and felt more grounded in real life and relationships.

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"Eyes of Dawn" was hard to watch, and that was a 1991-92 drama.

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There were quite a few shows in the 2000's that had legit kisses (and sex scenes) including Coffee Prince, My Name is Kim Sam Soon and Return of Iljimae (and J-dramas from that era were even less inhibited).

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This is missing the point of my question.

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I don't think there was a single drama where a switch flipped and suddenly all shows had hot kiss scenes, but I do think that the fact that Kim Sam Soon and Coffee Prince were huge hits helped normalize them. In terms of fusion sagueks, Damo (2003) is often mentioned as launching the genre (I believe it was also the first k-drama filmed in HD).

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Fantastic information! Thanks.

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And, just as an aside, Korean movies had very explicit sex scenes and plenty of them by the early 2000s. Starring TV drama stars like Lee Byung Hun and Kim Rae Won.

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My question was not focused on the existence of filmed Korean sexuality so much as the change over time. It sounds like folks are saying that the past had a number of distinct phases, probably instigated by changes in government and broadcast regulations.

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@javabeans could come in and answer everything in a nonce! 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼
I can’t remember if such topics were addressed in Javabeans and girlfriday’s book “Why Do Dramas Do That?”, which must have been online only, because I can’t find a physical copy in my house.

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I am not a Venerable Beanie, but I’ve read that Heo Jun (for some reason often romanized as “Hur Jun” 🥴) was the first sageuk that focused on characters and their individual experiences and relationships rather than grand battles and historical facts. It aired 1999-2000 and was wildly popular and I think was the one that spawned the fusion sageuk as a genre.

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You are venerable to me, @jls943!!! This is just the sort of information I knew this community had at its fingertips. Thank you for contributing it.

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Yes, "Hur Jun" was the very first fusion sageuk. MrX wrote an article about it, but I can't find it.

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I'm with the early 2000s K-drama fans (some of us were kids at that time). Dae Jang Geum (2003) was my first K-drama, and "King and the Clown" (2005) was my first K-film. Both were very popular in Korea and overseas. Everything else beyond 2003 I ended up watching later, thanks to Mysoju and the WITHS3 sub squad.
The term "Hallyu" originated in the Chinese media and became well-known around early 2000.

The landmark dramas, IMO:
1990s -
"Eyes of Dawn"(1991-92) - Japanese Occupation/Comfort women. (WITHS2)
"Sandglass" (1995) - Gwangju Uprising. (WITHS2)
These masterpieces are worth mentioning even though there may never be any like them again. They were not just dramas; their impact was necessary to help people remember, fight injustices, and heal. The dynamic duo back then was the late PD Kim Jong-hak and writer Song Ji-na.

"Hur Jun" (1999 MBC) - The Mysoju subtitles were incomplete. I would consider it the first "fusion epic sageuk." According to Mr. X (our history guru back in the day), this was made to appeal to more female viewers, and it was a success since it's still the highest-rated sageuk in history. Following its success, Dae Jang Geum (2003, MBC), Jumong (2006, MBC), QSD (2009, MBC), and more were also well-received. Thank you, MBC!

2000s
Autumn in My Heart (2000, KBS)
Winter Sonata (2002, KBS ) Bae Yong-joon's popularity was insane.
Damo (2003, MBC) 14 eps. This marked the beginning of shorter fusion sageuks with elements of romance, fantasy, action, etc.
Full House (2004, KBS). No matter what we think of Song Hye-kyo's acting, she was and still is a Hallyu girl since the beginning of her career.
Everyone else has mentioned the rest, so I'll stop here.

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Oh Mysoju 😌 it brings back memories, every now and then I would search the name to see what comes up.
It had everything Kdramas, Jdramas, Hong Kong and Cdramas and many more, I actually used to watch eveything but after it was taken down it was hard for me to keep up with eveything and now I only watch Kdramas with a Cdrama here and there.

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Mysoju was not only for K-dramas but also for C-dramas, J-dramas, etc. I also watched a lot of Asian films. I made many friends from countries that I'd never heard of before. Great times!

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+2! MYSOJU indeed!!!
Brings back so much memories! ❤❤
Same: stepped through the wardrobe and got initiated in 2000 as a kid. The rest, as they say, is history

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❤️❤️
I'm sad that we'll never be a part of that kind of community again. I'm not a fan of this streaming era.

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Sungkyunkwan Scandal - one of the earliest romantic comedy/fusion sageuks.

On a personal level, it was my second kdrama and it cemented my interest in the genre. It also sparked my interest in Korean history. I just had to learn more about Crown Prince Sado, and the rest is history.

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I think it was mine too!

It was the first time I watched a drama without subtitles (yeah, because before, we had to wait for subtitles) or read the translation of the original novel.

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This is a fantastic prompt and I’m going to answer it before I read any of the other comments to keep my answer unbiased.
I would say Gobln and Crash Landing on You. Although neither of these are my favorites, they are universally the dramas that everyone asks if you have watched when someone finds out you are a kdrama viewer. I felt like I was not officially in this club until I watched them.
Goblin is romance and fantasy- my perfect combination. It has opened the way to so many different kinds of fantasy projects. I’m not well versed in dramas before that time but you can see its influence in so many show either by direct reference or implied.
CLOY enforced every drama trope with a creative heart smashing story that reinforced what romantic comedy should be.
If I were to answer this from my own experience and the millions of other new Netflix viewers who came to kdramas I would have to say Extraordinary Attorney Woo. Because of this being on Netflix, and looking so interesting, and having English dubs, myself and many others have come into the kdrama land. I don’t think you can overestimate its influence.

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After now reading all the comments you can definitely tell I only started watching in 2023- as in my handle. No im not 23 haha.
It’s been interesting to read about these very old dramas and the prompt by @attiton about kissing. I’ve often thought about that as I have attempted to watch a few older shows

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The two dramas that introduced me to K-drama: Dae Jo Young (looks like something out of the dark ages now but if it hadn't been for those grizzled warriors sitting around those tables I'd be stuck now with BritBox or something) and Coffee Prince.

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Strong Woman Do Bong Soon seem like an impactful show.

Personally, Vagabond led me to Lee Seung Gi which led me to this site in the first place.

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That'll be Jumong. Or better known as Prince of the Legend. This was the drama that drew audiences who loved ancient Korean dramas and loved fight scenes. After Jumong, the others came rolling in.

And then, there was Queen Seondeok which introduced me proper into kdrama politics. I was an attentive student learning under Mishil's feet, and that drama made me a Go Hyun-jung fan for forever. Queen Seondeok and Jumong made me not tire out of "your grace is immeasurable, Choona" cause they made it so interesting and a look forward to. And today, palace politics do not bore me at all, even when they are bad.

There's also Jewel in the Palace, but this was not for people like me.

Fugitive of Joseon is the drama that made it possible to enjoy a saguek that wasn't garnished with enough fight scenes. If I didn't watch this, I don't think I'll watch the sagueks that are rolled out currently, save for Goryeo-Khitan War of course.

In the world of modern kdrama settings, A Man Called God introduced me to this kdrama setting. Prior to this, I always skipped a modern setting drama. However, it took Ruby Ring for me to settle into the modern setting. The word is settle, because I still didn't indulge as much as I do now.

And if I didn't watch Mirror of the Witch when it aired, I'd be introduced to dramabeans at a later time.

The absence of the aforementioned dramas will surely cast a huge hole in my kdrama journey to the point of non-existent.

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May I add:
The Legend (2007) with the legendary Bae Yong-joon -- another epic mythical period drama

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All my gateway kdramas and movies of the 2000s. There were a lot: Autumn in My Heart, Beautiful Days, Story of a Bright Girl, Winter Sonata, Full House, Stairway to Heaven, You're Beautiful, Coffee Prince etc.

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Movies: My Sassy Girl, Il Mare, The Classic, Ditto etc

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Untold Scandal! 2003

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For me, the biggest hole would be 25 21. The deep characters and character development, the novel themes, the beautiful scenes, the wonderful acting. I have been looking for something as interesting and rich and have not found anything that matches it. And, I am in the minority, but I liked the ending and think it was a more interesting way of finishing a drama than the standard ending in most dramas, which mostly ruins dramas (dodosolsollalasol, business proposal, etc)

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Yup,, agreed 1000%. Its absence would be a crater, not just a hole.

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I'm not a kdrama scholar but I imagine if you wanted to butterfly effect the genre, maybe go back in time and prevent Winter Sonata from filming.

As for my personal kdrama experience, seems like there's enough variety I would have got into it no matter what, but Coffee Prince was not only one of the first ones I saw, it was the one that made me see kdrama differently than if I'd just watched, say, Dr. Jin. I realized kdrama could be real life relatable and deep. I got the same vibes from Rule of Your Own World, and more recently, My Ajusshi, but Coffee Prince was the first, and if I hadn't seen that, my first impression of YEH would have been Goong.

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I remember I was sick and took a couple of days off school, and so I watched the pirated DVD of COFFEE PRINCE my friend lent to me. And yes I watched all 17 episodes in two days lol
Can’t say I regret it 😁

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I had a feeling of déjà vu when reading your comments!!

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Hotelier was my gateway kdrama, cemented by Jewel in the Palace. Then I saw a bunch of films: My Sassy Girl, The Classic, Friend (2001), and Art Museum by the Zoo. More recent favourites include Secret Garden, Goblin, All About Eve, Healer, The Princess' Man, Misaeng, Kill Me Heal Me, Romance is a Bonus Book, Kingdom, Crash Landing on You

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oh also My Girlfriend is a Gumiho and A Korean Odyssey

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Jewel in the Palace was cray cray.
At the height of the craze, you could not walk anywhere around my country without hearing parts of the drama theme song being played. like, literally. And F&B started to leverage the fad, with imperial palace meal sets 🤣🤣

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I would say it was CLOY because sooo many of my friends and family who would never go near Korean dramas watched CLOY during the pandemic and they got sucked in! CLOY was the first kdrama that I saw my friends posting about on Facebook.

Personally, it was Goong and Coffee Prince.

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Dae Jang Geum. This drama alone had made known to the world about Korean cuisine, Korean history and Korean culture. I even learnt how to play the ost on the recorder in primary school and I'm not even from Korea.

Personally, Princess Hours (Goong) will always be THE drama. There's this line in the drama which said "I could live 17 years without you. If you leave, I would definitely survive but my life would have a void." And this is what Princess Hours is to me. I don't think it's the most well made Korean drama but my life would not be the same without it.

Other than these two dramas, I think Korean dramas can be split into the following 4 generations:

1. Autumn in my Heart, Winter Sonata, Stairways to Heaven (2000 to 2005)

Korean dramas were used to be famous for having sad endings and leads who were not meant to be together. I believe people in their forties or fifties who are not familiar with Korean dramas would still have this impression of Korean dramas even though things have changed so much since then.

2. Romcom k dramas (mid 2000s to mid 2010s)

Hong Sisters dramas are the epitome of such dramas. No more dying leads and sad endings. What you have are funny but romantic plots. Bickering leads who eventually fall in love. Romantic scenes that would make your hearts flutter. Delightful Girl Chun Hyang, My Girl, My Name is Kim Sam Soon, Pasta, you're Beautiful, Master's Sun, you who came from the stars, etc.

3. Romance dramas (2000s to 2010s)

These are Kim Eun Sook's dramas. I don't know how to classify them but you cant talk about Korean dramas without mentioning Kim Eun Sook. Her dramas might be similar (e.g. how she like to have a main couple and a secondary couple) but it's undeniable that she's very good in creating memorable scenes. Lovers in Paris "baby, let's go", Secret Garden body swap, Descendants of the Sun Captain Yoo, Goblin red scarf, thick coat.

3. Netflix, Disney+ and other paid subscription sites era (late 2010s till current)

This the current Korean drama trend. Kingdom, Squid Game, Moving. Expensive CGI, more gore, stunning visuals. This could be just me, but I think OSTs are no longer that memorable. This could be the trend too, that you don't need to play the OST during iconic scenes. Personally, the last memorable OST I could remember is Goblin's Stay with Me. Maybe it's just me.

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Agree, the current kdramas on streaming feel too rushed, and some have become too violent and seem to be catering to Western values too much. I find myself dropping a lot of the newer dramas because the storyline got too nonsensical or didn't make sense anymore. I miss the time when the dramas were made with more care, that includes OSTs that are a big part of the mood of the film. Some kdramas you can remember just because of the memorable music, I have some OSTs that I still listen to even from older dramas.

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Agree! Older dramas in the 2000s have the best OSTs. "I Think I", "Perhaps Love", "Stand By Me", "Never Say Goodbye", "Emergency Room", "I Miss You", "She Is", I can already hear these songs in my head.

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Ooooh how could I forget the Lovers "triology", Lovers In Paris is the most popular among them but I liked Lovers and Lover In Prague much more (I actully haven't seen LIP).
Lovers made me more interested in the actors and made me want to know more about them, the leads had such good chemistry imo I wasnt surprised they were a couple.

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I watched the Japanese version of Boys over Flowers (Hana yori dango/ Hanadan) when it first came out (yes, I am that old) so I will always be biased on Boys over Flowers :) Matsu Jun forever!
*coughs* Boys over Flowers is the blueprint for so many romance dramas, the love triangle, the SLS, tsundere, the drama fever and on and on and on.
However it's also a drama you had to watch in it's time, because the Korean version of Boys over Flowers made me so angry when I watched it that I only recognized Lee Min Ho in "The King: Eternal Monarch" when he sat on his horse as "Hold on, that's the ****** who killed his horse in Boys over Flowers!"
The other drama I would miss dearly would be "Ki, The Empress". It is everything. It gave me SLS so badly I didn't realize it was SLS because how can the Emperor be the second lead? Ki remains one of the greatest heroines in dramaland, rich character, not perfect, very real and human.

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"Hold on, that's the ****** who killed his horse in Boys over Flowers!" -- OMG, that made me ROFLOL 🤣🤣🤣

To me, *the* definitive version of "Boys Over Flowers" would always be the Taiwanese version (2001) AKA Meteor Garden.
This became such a phenomenal monster, it spawned all the other later adaptations (Japanese version 2005; Korean version 2009; Chinese version 2018; Thai version 2021).

Years later, I was trekking through a forest whilst on a humanitarian relief trip, and stumbled upon some villagers in a remote settlement -- they had no clean drinking water, BUT they still managed to tap into electricity to watch Meteor Garden! (talk about priorities man...LOL)

I didn't realize it was SLS because how can the Emperor be the second lead? -- exactly! I was SO pissed with Ji Chang Wook because of that. ("You don't deserve her, you spoilt dissolute wastrel! DIE!!!")

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I read all your comments first, and I realized I know nothing. This website can be like graduate school for k-drama fandom. One might think, "I've now spent years absorbed in k-dramas, it's so strange to people around me, I guess I know a lot for a person outside of Korea," and then bam. How could I not realize? I am never going to progress beyond being a beginner.

But OK, on a personal level, the dramas that defined K-drama for me were:

°Misaeng
°Reply 1988
°Because This is My First Life
°Stranger
°My Mister
°Extraordinary Attorney Woo

I think of all of these as posing internal critiques of, or intense observations about, Korean society. I was so impressed with Stranger because it seemed like a Korean version of Law and Order, but with a whole Sherlock Holmes trope--and honestly, you would never have a US police procedural crime drama that's mainly about how both the police and the prosecution are hideously corrupt. And then, Because This is My First Life which couched a serious skewering of the sexism of the patriarchal family in a light, sweet rom com! Wow, I was totally hooked.

But I really don't know which ones would have made Korean dramas different for everyone.

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Um...also a k-drama beginner here.

FULL HOUSE (2004) actors who had yet to become pros, just winging it, and yet still -- its rawness is its charm
MY LOVELY SAM-SOON (2005) Kim Sun-a operating on a high wire with no net, just a courageous performance
OH MY VENUS (2015) Timeless. Great casting still sparkles to this day
SIGNAL (2016) because of it's challenging structure and great performances
DESCENDANTS OF THE SUN (2016) where do I start? Classy.
CRASH LANDING ON YOU (2019) gateway for Americans
MOVE TO HEAVEN (2021) perfect storytelling in any language; poetic
VINCENZO (2021) Polished. Expert vision & direction. Twisty, tricksy, worldly.

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For me the biggest holes would be if we were missing GOBLIN, CRASH LANDING ON YOU, LEGEND OF THE BLUE SEA, and MR SUNSHINE.

Each of them brought something different and important to the screen and we would be diminished if any of them had never been made.

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For me it would be Goblin, because I became a (theoretically short term) Viki subscriber just to watch it, but then ended up with a long watch list of other dramas that sounded intriguing. And Scarlet Heart Ryeo, which wasn't available on Viki and led me to the dark websites, ignited my love for Lee Jun-ki, and culminated in my campaign to get my friends to watch Flower of Evil, thereby creating more kdrama fans.

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Boys over Flowers was my intro. I wouldn't have started dramas otherwise. Terrible drama, but it is what led me to Coffee Prince, which is where I fell in love kdramas. So without BoF, I wouldn't know the beanies.

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This is going from my own personal Kdrama watching experience from the last 30+ years or so….
I personally think that:
- without Winter Sonata, then the worldwide Hallyu Wave probably would not have happened
- that You From Another Star is the best comeback for Jun Ji Hyun and the best career booster for Kim Soo Hyun’s career and also for Korean drama fashion (like… Those bling bling Jimmy Choos?? And the idea of “chi-maek” [fried chicken & beer])😍😍😍)
- Sageuk like Dae Jang Geum & Dong Yi paved the way for the younger generation to come back and enjoy sageuks again. It’s made even better that these 2 dramas are women-centric in a heavily patriarchal society like Korea’s
- dramas like Boys Over Flowers and You’re Beautiful paved the way for the idea and practice of casting idol actors/actresses, helping to expand horizons in casting of dramas and also showing that there’s more that can be done and so many more opportunities for idols in K-Entertainment
- dramas like Something in the Rain and I Hear Your Voice and Hyena that set the stage for Noona romances, but now we’ve reached a time and place wherein age isn’t even mentioned or highlighted anymore—or is not mentioned as much— that it’s just another romance, and both the male and female are on equal ground and there’s none of that ageist stuff anymore unless
- dramas like Extraordinary Attorney Woo and Its Okay to Not Be Okay took that step to have disabilities and mental health as the highlighted topic of choice for its material (albeit, the latter didn’t treat it as well as the former, imho)
- Where Your Eyes Linger …. THIS is how you do BLs right, and again, paves the way for more and for better dramas about the LGBTQIA community and inclusivity (I say this having watched many, many, many, many horrible and toxic Thai BLs but hadn’t have it click on me the level of toxicity about them until later and then never went back 🫣)

I see all of these ^ as milestone dramas, regardless if I personally enjoyed them or not (the answer is “No”, I personally didn’t enjoy all of them) and did something, made an impact, and left something in its trail for for those that came after then and for more opportunities and better opportunities in many aspects of Kdramas and K-Ent.

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I think My Lovely Samsoon and What's Up Fox were the forerunners of noona romances. MLS was of course ridiculous in how they made a huge deal of her age when she was only 3 years older! But the female lead of WUF was 9 years older than the male lead, and she even talked about having changed his diaper!!🤣

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Great list there!

p.s. and I think there should be a category for series like "You from the Star" and "Secret Garden" -- which became pop culture phenomenon for their sheer impact in setting trends (fried chicken & beer, fashion *blue sparkly tracksuits, anyone?*, locales, catch-phrases, and even inspiring a whole next-gen of drama tropes and homage-paying)

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Fired chicken and beer? It's a Korean staple as far as I know, not a kdrama trend.

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No, as in it sparked the trend in my country.

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Oh right, other places.

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Well, I think I would really be sad if WHITE CHRISTMAS (2011) ceased to exist since I got my husband to watch with me. I watched White Christmas once on my own after Beanie recommendations and loved it. I thought my husband would like it so we watched together. If that had never happened I would not have shared other kdramas with him going forward. Carrying that forward, my family watched Squid Game together (with one opting out due to violence). That brought us together and made me feel like I could share some of my kdrama watching with my family.

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The only trivial thing which I will say is that I love this snotty photo of Byeon Wooseok as Sunjae. It cracks me up every time I see it but I’m damned if I remember which ep this is from.

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Episode 15 in a d!ck-measuring contest with Tae-sung over scalding hot tea.

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Thank you

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Since everyone's already chosen the obvious ones, I shall choose 2 of my very personal favorites.
1. High School Savvy
This is where I got fully wrapped under Seo In-guk's charm and been there since 😁🧡
2. Queen In-hyeon's man
This show, till this day, remains the swooniest of the swoonies for me...🦋butterflies everywhere🦋

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Also,
3. Twinkling Watermelon
This show reignited my passion for kdramas (after being a casual viewer for the last 3 years or so) and made me realize the beauty of kdrama magic...I cried like a baby after a long time here 😅

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Winter Sonata was my gateway drama into well evrything really related to asian dramas, it introduced me to tropes and storytelling that I still enjoy til today.

Forest Of Secrets and Watcher are my first thrillers that I remember and they are still the standard.
I'm still waiting for Watcher season 2. 😒

FoS especially holds a special place in my heart as it was the drama that got me back to kdrama on a semi regular basis after a period of slump.

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Oh is there season 2 for Watcher?? Or is it your (and my) wishful thinking? It's interesting you mentioned FoS and Watcher, I loved both shows and FoS was what led me to Watcher. I was looking for something to fill FoS void and mydramalist suggested Watcher.

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Unfortunatly it's our wishful thinking 😔
Pretty much the same, FoS ignited a love for thrillers and I remember seeing the premier watch for Watcher on DB, it was my introduction to Han Seok Kuy.

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It's "Reply to 1988" without a doubt for me!
It introduced me to my fave genre aka slice of life and 1 of my fave dramas and fave actors and fave pd and writer and it made me fall in love with a whole new world of kdrama charms, not just their delightful rom_coms and youth and dreams dramas but the social ones.

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Oh I don't know worldwide, but for me personally, it would have to be Extraordinary Attorney Woo... It was my gateway show, so if it vanished, then so would my entire Kdrama viewing experience! I fell in love then and there, right from the opening credits, and never looked back. That scene where they "hold hands" through the glass with Beyond My Dreams playing in the background is one of my favourite ever- etched in my memory.
On the flip side, maybe I'd have become a millionaire, with money and success, if I'd had nothing to watch and not spent my free time binging Korean TV 😜

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I am afraid I can only answer this from my subjective perspective.
Even though the first drama I watched (from start to finish) was Squid Game when it was released, the drama which made me enter the rabbit hole was the second one: It's ok to not be ok. It's not among my favorite dramas, but this one is "the culprit".
Because after IOTNBO, I have been watching k-dramas non-stop. (And The Best Hit was the drama which made me discover Dramabeans. When I finished the show, I read all the recaps and comments beanies had written five years before).

But honestly, I don't think IOTNBO had left a massive hole in k-drama land if it had never existed.

Imo, Queen Seon Deok, Six Flying Dragons, My name is Kim Sam Soon, Secret Garden, King of Baking, Misaeng, Prison Playbook or Goblin (which I have not seen yet)... have been quite important for Dramaland.

Btw, I have always been interested in knowing when the most famous tropes or sentences started: piggybacks, falling onto someone-and-kissing, going to the beach (couples or friends), saying "if someone doesn't lick the yogurt lid, that person is rich" (I heard it in Yumi's cells for the first time).

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I am with you on finding out which drama started the piggy back way of carrying sick children and the elderly etc as well as using it as a move for the soon to be couple. Please veteran beanies put us out of our misery.

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I have not seen dramas older than My name is Kim Sam Soon, 2005, and there was a drunken piggyback scene ✍️

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This is such an exciting topic; thanks for bringing it up. As I can see, it has two parts—a wider objective lens and a personal lens. More so because just this morning, a cousin of mine called. I had been trying to get her to watch K-dramas for a year, but she was humming and hawing. Today, she called to tell me she watched EAW, and now my cousin is hooked to the point that she does not watch anything else any more. Within the month, she had finished ten dramas and wanted more recommendations. It's incredible how a single drama can transform someone's viewing habits and open up a whole new world of entertainment.

For the global audience, these three dramas, Squid Games, Extraordinary Attorney Woo , and Crash Landing On You , have been instrumental in sparking the K-drama fever. As a drama newbie, I can safely say most were introduced to this world through one of these three. For example, Squid Games opened my eyes to the universe of K-dramas, while EAW catalyzed my permanent entry into that universe's one-way gate. Their absence would alter the K-drama landscape, potentially limiting the reach and influence of this cultural phenomenon. I am stunned by how many people I know can speak about at least knowing K-dramas even if they do not watch them. It's fascinating how these dramas have connected people worldwide through a shared love for K-dramas. I have been diligently following the world clock to understand the posting times and habits of my beanie friends across the ocean.

Eventually, every K-drama addict has that one gateway drama that would leave a Vesuvius-sized crater if you took it away, and for me, it's Our Blooming Youth . It's not just a drama; it's a life-altering journey that has reshaped my perspective and helped me discover facets of myself I never would have thought existed, and I'm sure many of the beanies can relate to that feeling.

Interestingly, I asked my husband, and while he had not watched that many K-dramas, when I asked him if there was one drama he would be heartbroken about if taken away, he didn't even think before saying - 'Doctor Slump'. And he didn't even mean it as a K-drama; he considered all the dramas he had ever watched. This is what he said to me: "Everything else I have watched in my life has been entertaining and memorable because of its entertainment value; DS is the only drama that influenced my life in ways I didn't think was possible."

It's amazing how we both watched the same dramas and had the same kind of reaction but to two different dramas of two different genres.

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Personal: Shopping King Louie. You CAN NOT delete Louie like why would you even try? He has done nothing bad to you. Plus not knowing Maxim Coffee are you kidding, how do I catch serial killers without it?
Global: Squid Game defo. there would be no netflix dramas without that.
Novel and groundbreaking execution, filmlike: Six Flying Dragons

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Hmm, if we are talking trendsetters:

1. *Goblin* - started a trend of supernatural dramas and introduced us to a lot of well loved tropes.

2. *My Love From Another Star* - ChiMaek, anyone?

3. *I Hear Your Voice* - I think this is the drama that started a love from legal dramas. I stand to be corrected.

4. *You're Beautiful* - started two major tropes: idol/music dramas and disguising as the opposite sex.

5. *Sky Castle/The Heirs/School 2013* - started the cut throat school violence dramas

6. *The Glory* - started the exposure of school bullies and revenge style dramas

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Secret Garden for me. Not only was it my gateway drama but it was also the drama that led me to discover dramabeans and the amazing ratings page, a smörgåsbord of dramas big and small to slowly begin to check off, one by one. I was quite sad when they stopped updating it. For those of you who have not yet encountered it:

https://www.dramabeans.com/about-old/ratings/

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Rather than Boys Before Flowers I choose Meteor Garden, drama that made my world upside down, but since we talking about K-drama, if Boys Before Flowers gone I would be fine LOL (please don't kill me)

I Hear Your Voice, gosh, I didn't know I would love noona romance drama this much.

And I can't live without Love Runner, period!
Sunjae-yaa~

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What a fascinating prompt, and conversations! I love the many perspectives and lists mentioned here, plus the way back insight.

For me personally it was CLOY, my gateway drama. This was also how I discovered DB, trying to better understand some of the cultural info, which in turn led me to watch even more dramas than I would have without DB discussions and recommendations. CLOY + DB = Kdrama rabbit hole where I've happily lived for a few years now.

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