Watched a web drama recently? They are an increasingly popular format, with stars like Big Bang’s T.O.P, f(x)’s Victoria, and Kim Woo Bin jumping on the bandwagon. But what exactly is the difference between web dramas and the regular dramas we are all used to?
While traditional dramas are broadcast first on television, and then made available online, web dramas are only available online. While that difference seems obvious, another key difference is the length. A traditional drama episode will usually fall in between 45 minutes to over an hour in length, while a web drama will tend to have shorter episodes (usually anywhere from under 10 minutes to 25 minutes per episode). Web dramas usually also have a lower production cost because they go straight online, and may look less polished than traditional dramas, which typically go through several stages of production. However, web dramas are more free to experiment in terms of subject matter (for example, being more risqué, or having a male-male romantic pairing front and center), because they don’t have to worry about television broadcast rules or having to appeal to a larger audience.
To me, watching web dramas is like snacking. It’s everything good about dramas, condensed into a bite-sized morsel. On the go? No problem, it’s short enough that if you skip your morning shower, you can cram in one episode (no one will notice… right?). Don’t want to watch someone cry or agonize over whether or not to confess for three episodes? Don’t worry, it’s only two minutes long in web drama format. Plot holes, shmot holes, they don’t leave you enough time to seriously ponder the logistics of anything. Dip your feet into the web drama pool with some of these suggestions!
I love this two-episode Korean web drama (an hour long each) because nothing’s funnier than watching someone from the wrong century trying to figure out how to navigate another time period (“Rooftop Prince” anyone?). In “Splash Splash Love,” down in the dumps high school senior Dan-Bi (Kim Seul Gi) falls through a puddle and pops back up in drought stricken Joseon, where she meets the (very cute) King Lee Do (Yoon Doo Joon). Hilarity ensues, as everyone thinks she’s a he, and that he’s a eunuch. A must watch!
“Prince’s Prince” is a 10-episode Korean web drama that features FTISLAND‘s Jonghoon! This zany show really pays homage to its webtoon roots, but you don’t have to have read it to watch it. Park Si Hyun (Jonghoon) decides to infiltrate a video game company to somehow save his otaku younger sister, Park Yoo Na (AOA‘s Yuna). Standing in the way? Lee Mong Ryong (Im Yoon Ho).
Fans of Sherlock, Psych, and other detective shows, “Detective Sweet” is for you. Autistic Su Tang (Chen Xiao Ping) gets in a car accident and then suddenly has incredibly awesome super observation powers. She, of course, uses these powers for good by helping out the police and gets entangled in a mysterious plot. I like watching and trying to see if I can spot the clues as quickly as Su Tang (I… can’t). What about you?
Le Jun Kai is a pretty intense Chinese web drama (who would have thought you could pack this much drama into a nine episode drama that is only about two hours long?). It’s a “revenge story gone wrong,” but in an unexpected way. Le Jun Kai (Peter Ho) marries his enemy’s daughter, Ye Zi (Janine Chang), and is then incredibly disgustingly mean to her, but of course somehow falls in love with her. He divorces her in an attempt to deflect his feelings, but doesn’t realize she’s pregnant (does this sound like a trashy romance novel to you yet?) and she raises his son alone. How will he atone?
For a completely different, but hilarious, twist on the time travel trope, the lighthearted Chinese web drama “Go Princess Go” heads in a direction that I’ve never seen before – modern-day playboy Zhang Peng travels back in time… as Crown Princess Zhang Peng Peng (Crystal Zhang)! The princess’s new heterosexual soul has no interest in her husband, Crown Prince Qi Sheng (Peter Sheng), and instead starts in on his harem instead! It’s on the longer side at 35 episodes, but they’re only 20-25 minutes each. It’s a bit of a low-budget drama, but the colors are beautiful (albeit with incredibly historically inaccurate clothes), the acting is pretty on point, and I legitimately spent half the time rolling around on the floor. P.S. The beginning is strangely ominous, but it picks up fast!
“Nodame Cantabile” is one of my top J-dramas, so when I heard the adorable Ueno Juri would be starring in Korean-Japanese web collaboration “Secret Message” with Big Bang’s T.O.P., I knew I had to get on it. This touching 18 episode drama is pretty artsy, so get ready for some eye candy mixed with philosophical thoughts! In it, the Korean Woo-Hyun (T.O.P) and the Japanese Haruka (Juri Ueno), both scarred by their own romantic experiences, slowly find love with each other. Ahhhh, the sweetness!
This heartwarming 15-episode Taiwanese web drama is about six friends living under one roof and the complex (but cute!) relationships between them. Watching “Happy Together” just makes me want to run out and rent a house with five of my own friends, buuut that probably won’t happen any time soon. I will just have to live my life vicariously through this drama!
If you and your friends like to do incredibly silly things together, this is the drama for you. I’m not quite sure if it was intended to be some sort of parody, but it certainly doesn’t take itself seriously. “After School: Lucky or Not” is a 12-episode long show and under 15 minutes per segment, so it’s a good alternative to YouTube for getting your laughs on. It stars Kim So Eun (Kim So Eun), a quiet high school student, who somehow finds herself the leader of the “Lucky or Not Club,” with five ~flower~ boys. Dedicated to completing 100 missions before the end of the semester, these missions range in levels of absurdity. And, who knows? Maybe you and your friends will be inspired enough to create your own missions!
The 15-episode series “Love Cells“ moves extremely quickly, so if you’re going to take a bathroom break, don’t forget your computer! Ma Dae Choong (Park Sun Ho), a depressed, down in the dumps, guy in his mid-20s (sound like anyone you know?), has a bit of a quarter love life crisis and his “love cell” (just roll with it) decides to take matters into its own hands. It leaves his body, gets eaten by his cat Navi, turns into a human woman (Kim Yoo Jung)! She then schools him on how to woo a woman, leading him on an epic mission to win over idol Seo Rin (Nam Ji Hyun). This incredibly popular Korean web drama has already spawned a sequel; anyone out there eagerly anticipating Love Cells 2?
Watched any good web dramas recently? Are there any upcoming ones you’re dying to watch?
kingkongna is just a girl trying to spread the drama love. Favorite genres include wuxia, historicals, and fantasy.