How To Watch a Kdrama

Lee Shin Young from The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry, sitting on a butt steamer, drinking beer, in her apartment where she can fart as she pleases because she lives alone. This is how we are supposed to watch dramas.

Watching RAW(r!)

This is for the cracktastic dramas, the City Hunters and Sunkyunkwan Scandals and Me Too Flowers, dramas that grab our imaginations and don’t let go. These dramas are usually either very popular or they have a very loyal cult fan base, folks who make gifs for tumblr and post detailed recaps chock full of screencaps on their blogs and speculate about spoilers on forums.  They have us squealing with delight when we watch scenes that we’ve been anticipating, staying up until unreasonable hours of the night hoping that subs will miraculously appear but not really caring because we’ll watch raw anyway, and they occupy our minds when we’re supposed to be doing something else. I actually watched an episode of City Hunter live, as in while it was airing in Korea. Yeah.

Gasp! Will Kim Nana survive after kicking some ass and saving our hero???

Marathon Watching

This is for the classic dramas, like Coffee Prince, Dal Ja’s Spring, and Kim Sam Soon, dramas which have finished airing that you’ve heard wonderful things about. Usually done over a weekend and while snuggled deep in your blankets, marathon watching has the curious effect of immersing you wholly into the world of the drama. The anticipation factor is not as high as when watching raw or watching weekly because you know the next episode is just a click away, but there’s a feeling of completion that you get from experiencing an unbroken narrative that you don’t get from other types of watching. It’s like Poe’s “unity of effect” applied to television instead of short stories. In fact, I believe this is one of the advantages of the mini-series format of most Asian (and many BBC) dramas: they are presented as a unified whole, and don’t go on and on like some US American shows, only to end in confusion and disappointment (*cough*, The X-Files).

I’ve found that this is the most versatile form of watching, because it’s also the method used when you’ve first stumbled upon kdramas, or for the dramas you never got a chance to watch last year because pesky things (like your schooling or job) got in the way. Most recently I marathoned Ojakgyo Brothers, and I did that to catch up to the currently airing episodes, and also because I was driven to do so just to get to the cute OTP parts. It’s also my favorite way to watch Japanese dramas. Kimi Wa Petto left an indelible impression on me not only because it’s a great drama, but because I originally watched it in one huge chunk, like a really long movie.

The self reflection and meditative elements of this show really left an impression because I watched it en marathon.


Got a drama you aren’t particularly interested in, but it has one of your favorite actresses or actors in it? Got a drama that has an interesting premise but an awful execution of plot that nevertheless makes you want to at least know how it all ends? Got a drama in which you only care about the OTP and nothing else? Then this is the way to watch it. This is how I watched Triple, (because of Song Joong Ki), and finished up the part of You’re Beautiful that I was interested in (when Jeremy sings on the bus and squares away his feelings for Go Mi Nam). This is how I usually re-watch my favorite dramas, by skipping over the parts that I don’t really care about and re-watching my favorite moments. It often ends up skewing my perception of the drama, but it also allows me to enjoy it that much more. For example, one of my favorites is What’s Up Fox?, and I’m sure that’s because I barely remember anything about the secondary couple, which I found slightly creepy,  and spend all my time fangirling over Byung Hee and Chul Soo.

Who are all these people? Are they even necessary to the plot? The one person I watched this show for isn’t even in this poster!


RAW(r) watching can sometimes fall under this category, but weekly watching is characterized by more of an evenhanded approach to dramas, in which you’re not in a heightened sense of expectation. You’re watching the drama because you generally enjoy it, but you could miss an episode or two and not feel particularly anxious about it. This is how I watched Zenkai Girl, which is a cute j-dorama that has the laid back and introspective feel of most of the j-doramas I’ve watched, but fell apart narratively in the last third of the show. It’s also how I watch Color of Woman, which is hilarious and cute and lovely, but doesn’t inspire cracktastic levels of devotion.


About ladida

lasagna enthusiast ♡✿


  1. ladida

    This is from Malta’s reflection on Baker King:

    1 Watching a drama you may not actually like, but aren’t sure. You watch it because you love the actors or the writer or the director…there’s always a reason. If you find yourself saying “This better be good” or “I dare you to be good Show,” you may be hate-watching.
    2 Watching a drama you thoroughly hate, but you can’t not watch it otherwise how will you be able to trash talk with any confidence? Key phrases include, “This sucks! but … ➤➤, 3 episodes later, “this still sucks.” Usually there is liberal use of the ➤➤ button.

    Basically hate-watching is somewhat like the anti-fan version of drama watching, but filled with many more mixed emotions and a lot less anger.

    My hate watching is actually way more straight forward: I hate watched all 3 Hana Yori Dangos, seething the entire way through, which was only interrupted by my utter confusion at what was happening on the screen. For me hate watching is exactly that: hating a show so much that your hate turns into a kind of morbid fascination. You have to watch it to 1) confirm your hatred and 2) exorcise yourself of your hatred. I don’t really hate watch very much because there’s too much good tv out there to waste on things I dislike, but I felt compelled to watch HYD because of it’s immense popularity.

  2. coffeenlucia

    I tend to “skim” a lot of dramas :P but hey, earns me back a few hours~ Marathon watching is something I rarely do, because after 8 straight episodes I get bored. I suppose that’s why dramas are structured to run 2 episodes a week, to maintain the interest of the watcher while still being “remembered” in their lives. :)


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