If you’ve seen more than three Korean dramas, you’ve probably started to realize that while the plot points are not exactly the hardest things to predict, many little details in K-dramas are reused repeatedly. I’ve convinced myself after completing more than twenty K-dramas that the directors are issued standard books of scenes or lines they MUST include in the drama after seeing a guy chasing after a girl as she rides away on a public bus with a melancholy expression on her face in about, oh, I don’t know, fifteen of them? Anyways, I’ve listed some of the most popular (and overused) K-drama cliches below that I’ve seen.
Coming and Going in K-drama fashion: Airport and Hospital Scenes
Most Korean dramas contain one or the other, if not both. Some of the most famous K-drama airport scenes include Eun-sung and Hwan’s first meeting… and fateful bag swap at the airport in Shining Inheritance, as well as Gu Jun Pyo falling to the floor in despair at an airport after Jan Di leaves him with Ji Hoo, determined not to let him break her heart again in Boys Over Flowers. Speaking of Ji Hoo, Kim Hyun Joong also made a cameo in Dream High as a world-famous pop star in… where else? An airport, of course! Even Jung Il-woo filmed an airport scene for Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, spreading his arms out in front of the building as if he was the most important person in the world. Most K-dramas use airport scenes to show a) the return of a main character to South Korea (this type of airport scene is typically displayed in the first few episodes of the drama) or b) the departure, usually very emotional, of a character. Sometimes the departing character is even chased down by another character in a desperate attempt to stop them.
Hospital scenes are perhaps even more commonly featured in K-dramas. The characters in 49 Days spent a fair amount of time in a hospital, given that one of the main characters was kinda sorta in a coma for about ninety percent of the drama. Most K-dramas involve a hospital scene of some sort, even if it’s for something very minor, like getting some medication from a drip needle for a fever. I actually see the least number of hospital scenes in action dramas, because heroes in those like to treat themselves. -shudder- I know they have to be manly and all, but watching them dig bullets out of their shoulders while grunting in pain… I’ll never warm up to those scenes.
“Yes, I’d LOVE to be your roommate!”: Co-ed Roomie Love
What’s the best way to move things along faster romantically between two characters? Force them to move in together, duh! Some dramas like Personal Taste and Playful Kiss are centered around this detail, while others, such as City Hunter, You’re Beautiful (which also cleverly employs the widely-used girl-masquerading-as-boy plot point), and 1st Shop of Coffee Prince as a way to add fluff and cute moments in order to satisfy the audience’s craving for romance. I, for one, really enjoy the bickering sessions and accidental OMG-I-just-walked-in-on-you-in-the-bathroom moments that becoming unwilling roomies in a K-drama brings to the table.
The K-drama Food of Choice: Ramyun
Although I’ve seen characters in Korean dramas eat everything from kimchi to samgyupsal to jajangmyeon, I’d have to say that the most common food I’ve seen consumed in dramas is instant ramyun. Instant ramyun is hot and easy to make, and eating ramyun with a group of friends around a small table in a rooftop room provides a sense of camaraderie. In Shut Up Flower Boy Band, the members of Eye Candy gather frequently at Ji Hyuk’s place to eat the ramyun that he makes for them. And of course, how can anyone forget how big of a part ramyun plays in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop? Ramyun is such a staple food in Korea that viewers can pretty much expect to see a character eating ramyun in at least one scene throughout the drama.
Soju Drinking Sessions… and Awkward Drunken Piggyback Rides
Ask me what I’ve learned from watching Korean dramas and I’ll tell you that the most effective method to get rid of heartache or sadness, to my understanding, is to go drink excessive amounts of soju in a small restaurant. I’m just kidding, no worries. I’m not encouraging all you guys out there to go and get drunk every time you encounter love troubles. But hey, if you do plan on getting drunk, don’t forget to take a hot guy along with you so he can give you a piggyback ride home! There’s Kim Taehee‘s adorable piggyback ride home on Song Seung Hun‘s back during My Princess. Jinwoon also received the opportunity to give Kang Sora a piggyback ride in Dream High 2 during their stint at idol boot camp. And the most memorable of all… when Mu-gyul attempted to carry Mary’s dad home on his back after a night of drinking in Mary Stayed Out All Night before getting hurled on. I cringed during that scene, but it was still adorable. Piggyback rides are an opportunity for the characters in a drama to get closer, especially if the girl on the guy’s back starts saying things about him that she would’ve never said if she was sober. All in all, it’s just a nice little scene that I look for in all of my dramas because I expect fluffiness, some plot development, and maybe even an impromptu sleepover out of the scene.
I’m not going to lie about my love for broody shower scenes in Korean dramas. For some reason, most heroes like to do their deep thinking while taking a shower while heroines prefer to do theirs lying in bed at night. Not that I’m complaining, of course. Mm, who else loves it when an actor takes on a shower scene right after getting out of the army? Lee Min-ho has done shower scenes in both Boys Over Flowers and City Hunter, while Kim Bum has his scene from Padam Padam (if you’re looking for some eye candy). But my favorite bath/shower scene has to be Lee Seung-gi‘s bubble bath scene from the currently-airing drama, King 2 Hearts. It was possibly the best part about the whole episode.
My expression totally matched Lee Seung Gi’s during that scene.
What about you guys? What are the little details you look for in K-dramas?
(Dramabeans, MBC, SBS, tvN, jTBC)