“But, he said, the Korean soap opera also highlights how the Chinese value aspects of their traditional culture that can be seen in the drama.
“’The core and soul of the Korean opera is a distillation of traditional Chinese culture,’ Wang said. ‘It just propagates traditional Chinese culture in the form of a TV drama.”
From the article that inspired/was plagiarized by the Jezebel post.
I think one of the reasons I like Kdrama so much is because it feels so foreign, while other Asian dramas may as well be taking place in Ohio. Korean drama didn’t outgrow the old ways and traditions the way Chinese and Japanese television seem to have done, which makes it feel special.
I really dislike the way western media always describe/quote the Chinese and what they say, as if everyone talks in a way that makes them sound like awkward fools…
For me personally, I think it’s just that cdramas have a fundamentally different narrative (?) from Western/Korean dramas. (C-dramas meaning mainland Chinese, not Taiwanese dramas, which are completely different) From all the dramas I’ve watched and seen my parents watch since I can remember, c-dramas share this focus on the struggles of the individual in life, in war, in history.
There’s alot of ugliness - the ugliness of people, of society, of politics, of money. There’s a whole genre of dramas on financial corruption in businesses today. Politics today generally doesn’t show up on TV likely due to censorship, but politics in historical dramas are all about scheming and corruption and factionalism. Another genre of dramas are stories about individuals and families who live in poverty and struggle for a decent life. The middle class form a large bulk of cdrama worlds, there’s a large number of dramas about middle class working woes, family problems etc. Marriage is a huge topic, but marriage is talked about through women who struggle to find partners, parents who match make children, or middle-aged couples with marriages breaking down and kids to think about. Also, people are much less well-dressed and made-up…
And it’s not just the subject matter that is ugly, the style of directing as well. Cdramas tend to be melodramatic but not stylish, colors are much less bright, more skewed towards grey, the chinese city environments are much less clean. There seems to be much less focus on the music used, no such thing as official OSTs etc etc
Basically, I think that kdramas offer a welcome alternative for entertainment that the cdramas cant offer. Kdramas are pretty, stylish, with stories about rich people in general etc Cdramas remind people of the sucky things in reality, while kdramas take you out of it.
Some recent cdramas have started to imitate kdramas and twdramas to be modern and trendy and romance-fueled, but I think the industry is generally quite new to these, so it’s like a B-grade copies of TW/K-drama counterparts. No surprise that people prefer the better quality ones.
With regards to the comments on kdrama preserving more of Chinese traditional culture, there is possibly some truth in that. Confucian values have largely eroded in China after the Communist Party came into power. The CCP directed alot of effort into erasing traditional culture to convert people into communists. Then China industrialised and grew so rapidly in the past 30 years, and people have been saying that this has produced a culture of money above anything else, hence so much corruption. These are stuff people have been talking about for many years. And I think you do see it reflected in the dramas. Whereas in Korea, there’s been no such disruption and instead, culture has been highly prized and well-preserved. (I’m not sure all of it is a good thing, for eg I feel like the age hierarchy is quite ridiculous at times…)
Anyway, just some random thoughts I have.
I’ve always given ppl that don’t watch Cdramas the benefit of the doubt and thought that maybe they just don’t know about Cdramas
and when i read this….there’s so much prejudice in this post…
as a Chinese person that loves to watch QUALITY Cdramas, I feel really insulted right now
I quit watching You from the Stars on like Episode 10 and moved on to an awesome historical Cdrama that involves crime solving, martial arts, and just plain beautiful scenery (which by the way Kdramas have the lamest scenery since korea is such a tiny country)
you know what, if you seriously have this much prejudice about Cdramas, then fuck off
i can’t believe people would actually rather watch a cinderella-esque storyline loaded with plot-holes than a quality series like 甄嬛传, 舞乐传奇，or 精忠岳飞 even
When I first read this post, I thought dramarathon would stick up for Cdramas, but I felt disappointed and as wsdeoubasang said, insulted even.
Sure, Kdramas have lots of good looking people, fairytale plots, catchy OSTs, stylish and glamorous lifestyle, but those are all marketing tactics to lure people who feel like their lives are sucky as it is and granting their wish of living in an alternative universe.
As for the comment stating that Kdramas feel foreign and Cdramas/Jdramas could just take place in Ohio is overall ridiculous to me that I could just laugh. That person must only watch Kdramas and clearly have not watch the so call other Asian dramas to know the difference.
Sure, the topic matter of Cdramas are “ugly” or should I say “realistic.” Why should Mainland China dramas beautify and glamorize something that clearly majority of their audience know is not true? Those topic matter are about human nature, about life, about conflicts, and about overcoming them and growing into a better person at the end.
Most of Quality modern Cdramas (besides the idol dramas) are filled with dilemmas and cultural values. I choose to watch them not because I want to be reminded of “the sucky things” in life, but because the plot had “heart”, had meaning, had human imperfections and allowed me to face those harsh realities and end up stronger at the end (not complaining about why the world is cruel/unfair, but appreciate oneself and make a change for the better).
Sure, you might think that Cdramas focus less on the music, but according to me - I was too busy focusing on the plot that the subtle beautiful background music had been forgotten. As for Kdramas, they purposely embedded the osts into their dramas for marketing purposes and as a mean of reminding you what drama you’re watching.
I really don’t get why people are attacking the style of directing. I think directing style of Cdramas depends on the mood and the feel of the drama itself. It varies among series and genre, if you watch a lot you would notice the difference in coloring, lighting, and editing. While I find Kdramas have an overall cookie cutter style of directing for all of their dramas, that sometimes I feel like I’m watching the same drama over and over again.
Overall, I tried very hard to not be bias. As much as I know how many people still prefer Kdramas over their other Asian counterparts, I still want to voice my opinion on the matter as someone who had watched different types dramas ranging from kdrama, cdrama, twdrama, jdrama, hkdrama, singaporean dramas, thai drama, tellywood, and vietnamese dramas.
I think overall, Kdrama does an amazing job in marketing their dramas to the youth and to the fairytale dreamers. Kdramas, in my opinion, is notorious for glamorizing Korean lifestyle when in fact there are many ugliness beneath the surface that foreign audiences are shocked to know because most of their knowledge of Korea is from dramas and kpop. As for their Asian counterparts, they don’t shy away from the ugly truth…
I really don’t think there is a need to put down one type of drama in order to support one’s point. A person can enjoy cdramas and kdramas (along with TVB, TWdramas, etc.) while still recognizing the flaws that make them weak as well as seeing what strengths each possess that make them popular. This is not prejudice about a particular type of drama. Criticism can be a good thing for improvement.
I personally love cdramas. I’ve been watching them, along with TVB dramas, for a very long time. Over the years I’ve seen how each country has improved in the quality of dramas it delivered and I’ve also seen how some companies have declined from its heyday. While I somewhat follow kdramas, I’m not a fanatic like many and at most I watch about 2-3 per year. My friend doesn’t understand why I stick with cdramas when you have pretty kdramas to watch. Here’s why: the history, costumes, fighting scenes, actors/actresses, culture, scenery, poems and idioms, romance, music, language, and so much more. Of course, as with any type of drama you need to sift through the plethora of bad shows in order to find really good, quality cdramas that are better representations of what China has to offer. There are many good shows, some adapted from well-known novels and some are not, and some have major plotholes and some don’t.
Why am I saying all this? Because I watched two episodes of You Who Came From the Stars and was completely hooked. Maybe I’m being ‘lured’ by the prettiness of the people and all the product placement being used because I, like any normal person, enjoy looking at pretty things. Maybe I’m living through this drama in order to escape my ‘sucky’ life because sometimes I need a break from reality. I guess the fact that I’m listening to the soundtrack multiple times a day also fits the bill, right? Except, almost every kdrama has these elements and yet I still watch so little of them.
How about, instead of finding materialistic reasons to explain things away, we focus on some other stuff. Like the acting, for example. Kim Soo Hyun and Jun Ji Hyun blew me away with their acting and their chemistry. For example, the one-shot clip where KSH went from talking normally to completely red-face, tearing up in less than 10 seconds. All the moments they looked at each other and the way they both act with their eyes. The scene where KSH takes off both his gloves, drops them, takes her hand, and kisses her when the script only asks for a kiss. Instead of being separate entities following a script, these two just clicked together so well. And of course, all the comedic, making-me-pound-on-the-table-with-tears-in-my-eyes scenes. The script gives you a plot. The actors and actresses give you a story.
Or, how about we look at the other minor details. The scenes where Do Min Joon freezes time. Maybe not perfect, but still very magical. Or all the balcony scenes…which are apparently green screen? I naively thought the balcony was real. Did you catch the light breeze that makes JJH’s hair fly back once a while during the scenes? Or the way the lighting makes it look like moonlight is shining on them? Or how about the pop-culture references, like G-Dragon’s rap song, references to the scene from The Heirs or My Sassy Girl? The nod to Kim Yuna’s loss in the Olympics in last episode? Let’s also note that the majority of this drama was live-shoot, meaning that typically the scripts get modified and given to the artists only a few days before, or that episodes sometimes finished shooting the day it aired.
I don’t understand the argument about OSTs. A drama can have both quality plot and acting as well as a good OST. What’s so bad about the perfect instrumental embedded at the right moment that invokes the right feeling in the viewer? Some cdramas had amazing OSTs that fit very well with the scenes and the overall theme of the drama. It may be a marketing strategy, or it may also be really simple as well: a good song by a good singer, describing the exact feelings and sentiments of the characters in the show.
Some of us may adore the lavish lifestyles that is portrayed because we want this to be reality and some of us may abhor it because that is not reality. However, there are also some of us who just don’t care that much and want to watch a good, enjoyable show. Different countries have different styles in their approach to entertainment; that is undeniable. We can criticize their flaws while also recognizing their merits without being insulting. Growth is the process of learning and changing for the better. Perhaps China is learning from the success of South Korean dramas while also retaining its roots. South Korea may also be taking note and creating dramas for its rich history (but really though, it’s not like they haven’t…). We can only wait and see.
And lastly, as a side not, saying kdramas have the lamest scenery because the country is so small is like saying Italy has nothing to offer in terms of scenery because of its land mass. That’s just a sad over-generalization of things.