How K-Dramas Transcend Genres and Generations
Much like K-pop, Filipinos have been enamored with K-dramas, even before the pandemic started. What started as Tagalog-dubbed versions in TV networks have morphed into counterfeit DVDs, and now in various streaming platforms. It seems like now is the perfect time to take advantage of their accessibility.
With enough time at our hands, binge-watching a series is now possible. Somehow, despite each episode lasting at least an hour or more, we manage to fit an entire series in our busy schedules without feeling like we’ve seen 16 movies. Of course, each K-drama has its own charm, a narrative that we long to become a part of, or we choose to watch because of the production value. K-drama is on a different level when it comes to storytelling, even the casting.
Over the years, we’ve also been familiar with various K-drama shows and actors, those we can refer to as classics. Slightly older generations would probably remember Rain (Jeong Ji-hoon) and Song Hye-kyo in Full House (2004), Lee Min-ho and Koo Hye-sun in Boys Over Flowers (2009), or even Lee Seung-gi and Shin Min-a in My Girlfriend is A Gumiho (2010). Hyun-Bin in Secret Garden (2010) and Gong Yoo in Coffee Prince (2007), too, before Crash Landing on You (2019) and Goblin (2016) made them two of the biggest stars in K-drama history. Let’s not forget the hype of Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo (2016) that gave us Nam Joo-hyuk in Start Up (2020) and Lee Sung-kyung in Doctor Romantic 2 (2020). Nowadays, streaming platforms like Netflix and Viu have included a lot of K-drama titles and even produce more as the year progresses.
K-drama men (known as oppas in fan-speak) like Park Seo Joon, Kim Soo-hyun, and Park Bogum have been influencing fashion, even locally, and unknowingly making Filipino women’s standards higher with the roles they play. We could go on, but you get the picture. Being familiar with K-drama shows, even in a detached way, is now typical in Filipino households.
It seems like a no-brainer: We watch Kdramas because they tell good stories and execute them perfectly. However, out of all the media consumed in the world and Hollywood’s constant existence in even our postcolonial lives: Why are Kdramas so powerful in the Philippines? Are we ever going to reach the same level of support with locally made teleseryes? How do we get into the nitty-gritty of its cultural impact? These are some questions that would cross a Kdrama fan or a casual watcher’s (for those in denial) mind.
We didn’t have to look further or dive into research papers: The Lonely Hearts podcast on Spotify with Esquire’s editor at large Sarge Lacuesta gives us an engaging discussion in its 11th episode. Renowned poet Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta and philosophy professor and poet Noelle Leslie Dela Cruz join in the discussion to dissect the universal appeal of K-dramas through the lens of K-drama watchers and literary savants themselves.
In this episode, they do more than list their favorites and recommendations for K-drama fans. You’ll find yourself also agreeing with their thoughts on CLOY and relate to how frequently they binge-watch K-dramas. They ponder on how K-dramas have defied and is somehow integrated into Western culture, and how Korean culture can be familiar yet something far away from the Filipino experience. They’ll dissect the slow burn of will-they-won’t-they come to bed, the demographics, the inclination to romantic stories, and their expertise in storytelling and production.
The discussion is fairly lighthearted, insightful, and something to listen to before starting another K-drama binge. It’s as close as we can get nowadays to discussing K-drama in a different lens without pressure, making you feel like you also have something to add to the discussion or take away from it to tell other K-drama-obsessed friends. Whether you’re a proud K-drama fan or a lowkey binge-watcher (without your Instagram followers knowing), take a deep dive that won’t leave you feeling drowned at the end.
Lonely Hearts, hosted by Esquire’s very own Sarge Lacuesta, also has various other episodes on different topics to stimulate your mind. Each episode is unique in its undertaking, with special guests like Pia Wurtzbach, Howie Severino, and a lot more. Listen to Lonely Hearts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your podcasts.