It’s almost a year since I started watching Asian dramas and it has been one hell of an experience. For me, the best thing about 2016 would be my discovery of Asian dramas. Asian dramas have literally saved me and I will definitely share more about that someday but for now, let’s talk about the three types of dramas that I have been thriving on for the past year and which one do I prefer the most.
Let’s start with the dramas I first started watching i.e. Korean dramas. What I love the most about K-dramas is that every show has a love story. Be it a medical drama, a suspense drama, psychological thriller, comedy or tragedy there is always a healthy dose of romance in it. K-drama’s are conservative unlike its counterparts and often stick to sweet and innocent love. So you won’t have heavy love-making scenes but ample of romantic moments that will make you fall in love with the drama hero (When I say ‘love’ I mean it because I am a victim of cupid’s incessant arrows piercing my heart while watching good-looking oppas lovingly hold their heroines like as if they would die without them). I am a romance lover but I do not like shows that are too lovey-dovey or deal only with love. There has to be something more to the story and Korean drama writers know how to blend romance with almost anything, which is why I am so addicted to Korean dramas.
Another aspect common in 95% Korean dramas is a love triangle. Every heroine or hero will have a minimum of two options to create a love angle. And it is almost a rule that the heroine will select the most obnoxious, arrogant and annoying one of the two, who will also happen to be the lead of the show. However, second leads are in no way less than the main guy, in fact, many second leads are actually better than the main hero but they lose the heroine only so that viewers (like me) can pick the better option for themselves (Don’t be surprised if I have a post dedicated to my love for the second leads who the female lead always rejects.).
K-dramas are full of drama clichés like wrist grabbing, piggyback rides, back hugs, accidental trippings, a good girl falling for the bad guy, a rich boy falling for the poor girl, etc. It has everything young girls enjoy watching the most. And on top of that, they have a gorgeous cast, breathtaking locations, amazing OST’s that will have you hooked completely. Korean entertainment is serious business and tough competition to beat.
For me, Taiwanese dramas are the amplified version of Korean dramas where everything gets longer, weirder, and sometimes better. Taiwanese dramas are most popular for steamy kisses and hardcore love scenes. Their love scenes are unmatchable. Though most dramas have aesthetically shot scenes some dramas just ruin the romance with badly shot love-making scenes. In T-dramas, forced kisses are as common as cheabols (heir to a conglomerate) in K-dramas. I suppose Taiwanese heroes live by the stupid Hindi line ‘ladki ki naa mein haan hota hain’ whereby men believe that when a girl says ‘no’ she actually means ‘yes’ which is why they so confidently kiss a girl any time and anyhow they want. I can overlook these kisses when it has actors like Aaron Yan, who makes even a forced kiss look romantic but when it has someone like Mike He, I have had to cover my eyes not because I feel shy, but because it is unbearable to see him kiss like an animal. I am sure even animals don’t kiss as violently as he does. Eewwkks!
Taiwanese dramas may be low in production value as compared to Korean dramas but they are not low on entertainment. Their music is also reasonably good. However, what I don’t like about T-dramas is their length. Taiwanese dramas mostly have 20+ episodes and most episodes are 70 to 90 minutes long. With so many mind-blowing dramas out there to watch I find it a little difficult to commit to one drama for so long.
A lot of Korean and Taiwanese dramas are based on Japanese mangas which means that there is something about Japanese stories that make it so appealing. I started watching Japanese dramas mainly because they were shorter compared to K and T-dramas. J-dramas are often 10-13 episodes long and are the ideal option when you have a day to yourself and nothing much to do. In fact, whenever I am ‘down’ or ill and unable to work I prefer watching a J-drama because I can finish it in a day. Also, J-dramas are deep and thought-provoking that always helps me divert my mind.
What I like the most about J-dramas is the realism in its stories. J-drama characters are mostly ordinary people dealing with normal situations in some abnormal ways. Some dramas do go overboard with creating highly unlikely situations but they still seem believable. They do not always follow fluffy romance formulas or even the Cinderella concept. They keep their characters simple yet interesting. Japanese dramas have a lot of depth in them, which is why I generally look forward to watching J-dramas.
The major problem with J-dramas is availability. Where Korean dramas are over-exposed, it is difficult to find a good J-drama with decent subtitles. Another issue with J-dramas is catching the meaning of their dialogues. Dialogues in J-dramas are often full of Japanese phrases and idioms which may be lost in translation and as a foreign viewer, it becomes difficult to catch the actual point of a scene. Also, some comedy Japanese dramas have actors acting in anime style, which may not appeal to everyone. But, in spite of all these issues, I still find myself gravitating towards J-dramas the most as there is something soothing about these dramas that leave me feeling highly contented.
Which dramas are better Korean, Japanese or Taiwanese?
It is true that I am a crazy Korean drama addict and my day feels incomplete if I do not watch a K-drama but there is something about Japanese dramas that make me crave it. I watch Korean dramas the most because they are easily available online with good subtitles. Had that been the case with Japanese doramas I would certainly pick J-dramas over K-dramas. That is because I feel J-dramas are more practical and pragmatic compared to K-dramas and T-dramas.
As of now, my schedule is simple, throughout the week I follow Kdramas since they have an amazing line up of shows from Monday to Saturday. In between, if I manage to spare some time (which is rare) I catch up on Taiwanese dramas. Whenever I am unwell or have a day without any plans, I pick a Japanese drama and finish it in a day.
If you are new to Asian dramas and want to know which one to pick then go for a Korean drama (Full House, Boys Before Flowers, Playful Kiss, You’re Beautiful are some classic Kdramas that should not be missed) first as they are simple and visually appealing. Once you feel you have had your fill of Kdramas (which will never happen…trust me on that) try watching a Taiwanese drama (It Started With A Kiss, They Kiss Again, Just You, Refresh Man, Mars) as they dare to go beyond a chaste kiss and will leave you fanning yourself after a too-hot-to-handle scene. And lastly, when you feel like watching something more real and meaningful then pick a Japanese dorama (Pride, Itazura Na Kiss, Tatta Hitotsu No Koi).
I do want to try some Thai dramas. I have watched only one Thai lakorn (drama) till now and have a loooooong list of lakorns waiting to be explored. If you know of some good Thai dramas that are short and entertaining then do share it with me 🙂