The K-drama universe is evil. Why? Because once you’ve stepped into that world, there is no return. There is no escape. Your life will be forever subject to the madness within. I tried to escape once. . . it wasn’t pretty. I attempted to watch a US show again, but I discovered that everything I once knew was ruined because I was so used to the structure and style of K-dramas. I’m sure you’ll recognize quite a few of my struggles as you read below.
1. The plot development
Let’s start with the basics, shall we? The plot in a K-drama is like the perfect cupcake. Not too long, not too short. Mainly, this is due to the fact that there are usually only 16-20 episodes. Each episode is around an hour long, so time is an issue; but because each episode connects to the larger plotline, nothing is wasted. Once the plotline is finished, the show is over and you can feel satisfied.
US shows (like “Supernatural,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” etc.) are nice because they have more than one season, but they can also get super frustrating. Watching an episode only takes 30-40 minutes, which is great if you wanna save time to do other things. However, because the episodes are so short, American shows tend to continue with multiple seasons in order to tell the full story. And as more and more seasons are released, the plotline starts to lose momentum and turn stale. Every time you get past the first season, you immediately have to lower your expectations, because it won’t be as good as when it first started.
2. The cliffhangers
If hour-long episodes weren’t enough of a blessing for you, the cliffhangers at the end of a K-drama will make you wanna scream:
Did that gunshot wound go deep enough to kill? Can the show even go on without him? What on earth happens to the second lead? Will he ever get to kiss the girl?! Sometimes cliffhangers can be so cruel, it just hurts. If you’re crazy enough to watch the show as it airs, then welcome to the dark side.
American shows just can’t give you the same kind of intensity with their cliffhangers. They don’t even have those nerdy freeze-frames that make the cliffhanger complete. They usually just end with a teaser clip for the next episode, but let’s face it, it’s never enough.
3. The impossible situations
American shows just don’t have the same dramatic flair that K-dramas have. In order to be as entertaining as K-dramas, American shows would need a couple more important elements:
The fated encounters:
The one-sided love:
The epic action sequences:
Basically, life is more eventful in K-dramas. I think maybe that’s why we all love them so much. They’re so dramatic and over the top, you can’t deny that it’s entertaining. Watching American television after all of that, well, it can get bland in comparison.
4. The relationships
This one’s the most obvious reason of all. K-dramas are unparalleled when it comes to portraying the highs and lows of a relationship.
Yes, I know. It’s totally cheesy:
It’s downright simple:
That’s exactly what we all love about it. A K-drama doesn’t take the idea of love and max it out all at once. It gradually blossoms over the course of the show, proving that the little things really are what matter the most.
When it comes to watching American shows, again, it’s really hard to acknowledge the relationships. In my experience, a lot of them only develop for one or two episodes; then suddenly, they’ve already become intimate. It happens so quickly that it feels fake, and it’s enough to drive us crazy.
5. The emotional investment
When I try to explain what it’s like to watch my favorite shows to other people, I like to think of roller coasters. With K-dramas, you get to go on that big thriller ride that everyone’s always standing in line for. After all the waiting, you finally get on the ride, and you know you’ve made the right choice. Every single episode consists of screaming your guts out.
Most of the time, you’re on the high of excitement:
Other times, you just can’t contain the feels:
And most likely, you’ll randomly start crying:
Yet by the time it’s over, you’re walking away feeling completely exhausted and oddly satisfied.
A US show is like the opposite. It’s like one of those baby rollercoasters that have an occasional splash; all the little kids freak out like it’s some big deal, but at the end, you get off and start contemplating why you just used up 30 minutes of your life. Everyone else is eager to get back on the ride again, but all you wanna do is get away.
Thank goodness K-dramas will always be waiting for us at the exit.
How have K-dramas changed your perception of American television? Let us know in the comments!
J. Simpson is a Creative Writing student hailing from the U.S. with a penchant for binging Asian dramas and rocking out to Korean music. She hopes to one day travel internationally and teach English. Say hello and follow her on Instagram.