And now for Part Two of 10 Things I Love About KDrama!
Wherein I consider the last 5 things that I love about KDrama….
Character Redemption (aka, Bad Guys are People Too)
There’s not much I hate worse than watching a movie or T.V. series with a villain who’s evil Just Because They’re Evil. Unfortunately, it’s something I come across horribly, horribly often. This is partly because I watch a lot of older T.V., and character writing has evolved a lot over the years, but it’s by no means a bygone phenomenon. It’s still something that continues to annoy me in modern T.V.
KDrama has some seriously evil characters, from the absolutely terrifying schoolgirl bullies who rule the school to the murderous gangster bosses who beat people to death with golf clubs in the comfort of their own homes. Some of them are laughably evil, but the vast majority I’ve seen now have been nuanced, complete characters in their own right.
Not only have they been nuanced, but in a few cases, they have almost overshadowed the main leads in complexity. This is because in KDrama, there is a very good chance that the villain can be redeemed. There are points in the narrative at which the villain is faced with two courses of action: the right, and the wrong. They way he/she reacts to that choice begins to determine the possibility of their redemption, and their path begins either to slowly slide toward the irredeemable or to climb painfully toward a new life.
In KDrama, you can never be certain that your main villain will not change completely–just like a regular person. Not only is this spectacularly good writing, it adds an extra dimension to the entire story. Not every villain is redeemed, but every villain has at least one chance to do so. The mindset this displays is delightful. Redemption as a theme is a very precious one to me, and to see it in T.V. series (and used in such a general way) is a huge breath of fresh air.
Here are a couple of the most poignant villains I’ve come across in KDrama so far:
This is another item that is on both my Hate and Love list. It leads on a bit from Character Redemption, and has a lot to do with how well (or how badly) characters in a show are written. However, it also seems to be a thing done very well as a whole in KDrama. I get rather tired of badly drawn love triangles in fiction (I actually don’t care much for the love triangle as a form of story anyway, but when well done I can quite enjoy it) and it’s refreshing to see it done right.
In too many movies and series that I’ve seen, the main female lead falls for the main male lead, with a side love interest who is either never well developed, or there only so the main male lead can be jealous and/or warn her about the side love interest’s bad motives. More annoyingly, when it’s the latter, this side love interest almost always turns out to be a bad guy.
Seriously, though, what the heck is wrong with having a side love interest who is actually good and nice? He shouldn’t be there simply to excite the main male lead’s jealousy and then be dismissed with the easy excuse that he was a bad guy all along. Sometimes good guys lose out, too. (Ironically, this is also a thing I will discuss in my two part post on the 10 Things I Hate About KDrama). There is absolutely no excuse to skimp on character building simply because the 2nd boy doesn’t get the girl.
I seriously love KDrama’s secondary love interests (aka, 2nd boys). In fact, I usually prefer the 2nd boys to the main love interests. This is because 2nd boys are, as a general rule, kind, thoughtful, and very beautiful–while main male lead are crazy, annoying, and almost always arrogant (which, while making a hilarious and fun character, would be no fun at all to live with in real life).
Anthony Trollope-esque Politics (whether School or Company Politics, oh my! So many political storylines)
Can you believe that I’d never heard of spec-stacking before? That could be because I’m not actually that academically gifted and also because we could never afford to go to college anyway, but seriously. The political underworld of KDrama’s schools is vast and intricately twined.
Of course, you’ve already heard me rave about Falling for Innocence, which has such a complicated, over-arching theme of business machinations and by-plays along with its murder, medical, and romance plot-lines.
If a T.V. series or movie is well-written, it will have those sorts of things in it, anyway. But there seems to be a definite focus on twisty plots in KDrama, and as a lover of Anthony Trollope, those twisty plot-lines make my little heart sing for joy.
This is another character thing (which will not surprise anyone who knows my obsession with Character in Story). Facilitators are rarely seen in the wild in Western films, which makes me sad because I flamin’ love Facilitators. One of the first MCs I ever wrote was a Facilitator.
The Facilitator sees things from the outside, whether from boredom, superior intellect, or just plain crazy. He (and in rare cases, she) will cultivate characters and plot-lines sometimes to a point that almost-but-not-quite breaks the fourth wall (see especially Jin-Rak in Flower Boys Next Door). Facilitators almost always end up getting sucked into the story they’re trying to direct, and/or falling in love with the girl they were helping out.
Five of my favourite Facilitators to date (in order of most to least favourite):
In far too many Western films and T.V. series, when there’s an MC, that’s it. You’ll get bits and pieces of friendship, but there’s not usually a light shone on that unless the whole film is about friendship (which is also reasonably rare). I love the fact that in KDrama, there are WHOLE PLOTLINES about the friendship between two guys (again, Flower Boys Next Door, Sassy Go Go), or two girls (Who Are You?), or a whole group (Sassy Go Go, I’m lookin’ at you). It’s not just about the romance. And yeah, it’s got to do with what’s good writing and what’s not–for instance, there are some VERY badly written KDramas out there, too–but as a whole, friendship seems to be much better explored. I love that. I especially love it when it’s a male/female friendship that doesn’t turn into a love triangle.
Favourite Friendship Pairings:
I have so much more I could say, and so many more favourites, but this blog post has already assumed a ridiculous length, so I’m off again to WATCH ALL THE THINGS. And maybe write a little bit…