Friday, March 25, 2011

Exploring K-Drama

Despite watching hundreds of Korean films, I have never watched any K-Drama, until now that is! Last night I watched the first episode of Iris, the popular thriller from 2009 starring Lee Byung-hun. I'm not sure why it's taken me so long. Perhaps I didn't want to be disappointed, I hold Korean cinema up to such a high standard! So what did I think? Well, I enjoyed myself watching it, and I will watch more, but I definitely will not recommend this to people if I'm trying to get them into K-Movies. I kind of enjoyed myself despite myself. It was cheesy, flashy without being as sleek as its feature length counterparts. It was also very fetishistic, I know Lee Byung-hun is a good looking guy but it was like his skin was incompatible with clothing, it seemed to expel it constantly.

The first episode provides necessary exposition, military school, college, cute romances etc. Knowing that the age of the stars is around 40, this was a stretch and a little grating but I imagine that as the series progresses, this will become less of a problem. The show exhibits a somewhat different aesthetic than I am used to, it's very crisp but it does look like TV. It's long too, are all K-Drama episode 65 minutes long? I think it's interesting that shows only go on for one season, I like that format, the stakes are just gonna be higher, I hope.

I want to see some other K-Dramas too before I make up my mind about them, I know there are some that are meant to be very good. Iris just seemed like an easy introduction, it features a few stars I know (Lee Byung-hun, Jeong Joon-ho) and it's full of action/spy/thriller elements.

I'm curious to see where this goes.


  1. Most Korean drama mini-series do hit the 60+ minute mark. After watching a bunch of different ones, I've come to the conclusion that Korean dramas as just as diverse as Korean film--granted, like most television, the production values are different and the type of storytelling is also different. However, one thing that Korean dramas have that lines them up closer to British television is that the weeklies are not indefinite, but designed to have beginnings, middles, and ends and don't drone on forever like American television tends to do. I really appreciate that aspect of Korean dramas.

    Nonetheless, many genres and types of Korean dramas exist out there, especially with so many cable channels producing their own, in addition to the big three networks, so there's something for everyone, if you're look for it.

  2. Yeah, I'm looking forward to explore some more. The one I'm watching, Iris, is very slick. It really plays into vanity quite a lot though, they way people are dressed, actors chosen for looks, sets, etc. I know the movies are like that too but it's pretty heavy here from what I'm seeing. I understand it though, it's kind of like American TV on steroids, love the finite seasons and cross-genre hybridity, nice to see that it applies here too.

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