What Is Love in Korean Dramas? A Couch Kimchi Roundtable


Korean dramas have shown the viewers different facets, experiences, and emotional depth that helped us understand what love is. Everyone has their own definition of it. For today’s Round Table, we will explore the most common question all of us are eager to know more about: What is love?

Rinchan: Its the thing we are hard-wired to do. No man is an island, and humans live a long time. Love is that bond that keeps people together. It helps us accept each others faults and when we wonder why we are still with that certain someone, the first answer will be we love them and no one else.

Leila: I believe that love is more than a feeling but an experience that can be defined in various ways. There is no perfect answer for it. That’s where its mystery and magic lies. It’s amazing to have someone to experience love with.

Rinchan: One of the genres I love to watch in Korean dramas is Romance but do you feel as if that’s really love?

Leila: It is part of experiencing love. Romantic scenes excites us and everyone can relate to it,  so we’re easily drawn in. The actors are key in making us feel the love too. The romantic ambiance in a scene helps them, but if there’s no love and chemistry between the OTP, nothing will make sense.


Rinchan: I think that relatability is what keeps us so engaged; there is nothing like your OTP getting a happy ending after much hardship. Most certainly, it is important for the OTP to have great chemistry; it’s this chemistry that adds the extra emotion to the scenes. For example, in the drama “Empress Ki,” Ha Ji Won and Ji Chang Wook had great chemistry, and it spoke volumes when she rejected him. One time in particular was when she chose to be with her first love over Ji Chang Wook’s Ta Hwan, Ta Hwan asked her to kill him but she refused. He crumpled to the ground as she exited, and when she turned to look back at him, all you could see was a heartbreak that matched his own.

Leila: I think this explains why love is so powerful. Love provides emotions that are deeply rooted and the viewers can easily feel the pain or the joy it brings. It amazes me how love can make us feel all of these, and that we can relate to it somehow even without first hand experience. Love is diverse and I enjoy the process of developing love like how the story unfolds between the OTP.

RInchan: The process is always interesting but I find I like how the couple influences each other, and how they grow together because they love each other.

Leila: Agree. For example, it is interesting to see friends turn to lovers or fake relationships turn into a real one. The growth and the acceptance makes the OTP develop into the kind of character you’d fall in love with. It is through a process that we get to understand how love grows and see the difference it makes in every character.

Rinchan: I also like the symbolism of it all: how love can free you, or bring you to a point in life where you understand things differently. Through love, people are able to identify with one another, as exemplified by the countless chaebol-pauper lovelines.


Leila: Love serves as an equilibrium, especially when Social Class is given importance. I’m not a fan of dramas that involve love of a chaebol that has to be separated because the woman is poor. Social standing shouldn’t be an issue.That’s why I love it when the drama shows that women can still live without a man’s provision. Even if they are poor, they can stand on their own and still love a man not because of money. When the highlight doesn’t involve money and instead focus on love, I’m all in. Just like what happened in “High Society.” Chang Soo and Ji Yi delved into this chaebol-ish plot the best way I imagined it to be. Ji Yi is a refreshing character for someone like Chang Soo. To see how love blossomed between the two in the most organic way is what made me love the SooJi couple to pieces.

Rinchan: This idea really matches with the times we are living in now. Women are capable of taking care of themselves and I often like watching a strong woman who can handle her business rather than running around crying “Oppa!”

Leila: So true! I hate the Oppa-ish connotation that highlights being the Alpha male stereotype.


Rinchan: What’s worse are the women that use it to their advantage. Right now I am thinking of Mok Ji Won in “Warm and Cozy.”

Leila: I don’t like her character since she doesn’t know what real love is. If a woman will use a man to elevate her status, it is a wrong reason for love.

Rinchan: This is an example of how love can be harmful, but I don’t feel as though Gun Woo is in love with her. Tt seems more like an unhealthy attachment that formed on the day she comforted him in his moment of distress. Most often I feel these women are using an illusion of love and attacking vulnerabilities.

Leila: True. Gun Woo was vulnerable at the time he met Ji Won. He might have felt her concern at that moment that drove him to think he’s in love. I think Mok Ji Won was there because Gun Woo celebrated his birthday lavishly. She had a hidden agenda. Gun Woo held on to a love that is undeserving of his attention. Good thing things ended between them.

Rinchan: It is frustrating to watch, since she quite openly rejects him and he still goes back. When she approached him at the party, he seemed to be lonely. There is something about loneliness that seems to leave people open to such women.