Dramas keep getting better every year, and the number of people hooked on them increases too. But watching Korean dramas isn’t just about viewing handsome oppas and beautiful romance plots - the joy you get from watching is accompanied by very real struggles.
Here's 6 issues drama addicts endure.
1. Subtitles freezing or disappearing during the most climactic scenes
Picture this: dramatic music signals the beginning of a vitally important scene in a K-drama, and the on-screen characters begin tensely glaring at each other. The camera cuts back-and-forth between various characters (you're at peak suspense). Then, suddenly, the camera focuses on one individual character who opens their mouth… aaaaand they say something that looks super important and could change everything you ever thought you knew in the world of this drama but you don’t know what it is because the subtitles have disappeared!
Who knows whether the main character is now the love interest’s biological sibling, or if the main character is actually a secret son of the company's big chairman. WHO KNOWS? We don't, because our subtitles and internet connection betrayed us.
Why universe? How?
2. Watching an episode the day after it airs because...subtitles
There’s something uniquely painful about knowing that a drama episode has been aired but you can’t watch it yet. They say knowledge is power, but in this case knowledge is more that feeling of frustration when you feel so close to the end of suffering, yet so far away. The period in between when an episode is released and when you actually watch it is rife with danger – spoilers could be anywhere.
When the subtitles do finally appear, you’ve got to give yourself a bit of time to prepare because you know the episode will probably play with your emotions (just like every episode you’ve ever watched).
Kudos to whoever does subtitles for Korean dramas though; subbers are the real MVPs.
3. Planning your week around when dramas are released
You know when subtitles are released, so it only makes sense to create a strategic plan of attack for when you’re going to watch each episode. There's a plethora of Korean dramas and not enough hours in each week to watch them all. Scheduling allows maximum efficiency, which means a maximum number of episodes to be watched each week. And that’s what we all want, isn’t it? Ha, I never put this much planning into school or studying because as a wise man once said:
Of course, when a drama finishes it's chaos. The perfect weekly drama-watching plan - that had been so carefully constructed - is thrown into disarray and suddenly you just start questioning the meaning of your life.
Near the end of 2016, and into a significant part of January, my weeks were a blissful routine of Hwarang on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo on Thursdays and Fridays and Gobin on Saturday and Sundays - with Monday as a rest/catch-up day. But then Weightlifting Fairy ended, and just as I was recovering from that Goblin ended as well! I'm only just recovering.
4. The stress whenever a character gets into a car
Getting into a car, in a drama series, can mean bad things for your character. Writers enjoy using car accidents as a fun (note: totally not fun) device to move the plot along or cause extra tension and conflict between characters. The worst thing can do is - after the main couple finally get together and are super cute - they place one of them in a car that has a horrific accident where they either die or forget everything about their loved one. The emotional trauma from all the pain of past bad encounters with cars in dramas is enough to instill deep-rooted trust issues that leave you like this every time someone gets in a car and soft suspenseful music starts playing:
You would think that after all this time, we would have become accustomed to the terrifying dangers of cars in dramas, but no, the writers just had to keep coming up with new and creative ways to emotionally destroy us (Shout-out to the ending of Goblin).
5. Restraining yourself from randomly exclaiming in Korean
It is inevitable that some of the little phrases we hear in dramas just slip into our vocabulary. The repeated exposure to these phrases inevitably leads to the almost irrepressible urge for those words to sneak into our daily speech. This isn’t a problem if you’re alone, but it may pose an issue if you’re around people unaware of the depths of your K-drama addiction. Something about randomly saying “Ah jjinja” to someone or accidentally calling the really attractive guy you just met “oppa” could scare them off. Or just really confuse them.
6. Trying to decipher everything about the massive cliff-hanger the drama ended on
Would a Korean drama even be a Korean drama if the episodes didn’t finish on massive cliff-hangers that left the audience wanting to pull out their hair or alternatively time-travel to the future so they could watch the next episode?
Drama writers have perfected the art of the cliff-hanger, and when combined with well-edited previews at the end of each episode, it's a near-death experience for poor drama addicts. Once recovered from suspense-induced shock, drama addicts turn into Sherlock-esque detectives, piecing together the preview's snippets to form predictions.
Let’s be real, what else are we supposed to do while we wait for the next episode?
Stay strong, dramaholics.