Imagine this scene: a young woman’s eyes widen with the revelation of truth. In front of her stands a young man, clenching his jaw as he stares intently at her. They both ignore the pouring rain soaking their fashionable clothing. Suddenly, there is an up swell volume of the theme song as the young woman swiftly turns away, her fair perfectly fanning out behind her. At the right moment, the young man clasps her outstretched wrists and pulls her back into him. His arms swoop around her shoulders as he leans over her neck. The music swells, the screen freezes with a burst of color and design as product logos flash below.
Rain. Wrist grab. Back hug. Theme music. Product placement. These are all tell-tale signs of a Korean drama. Anyone who has watched more than twenty Korean drama series in a year (or month, no judgement) can easily spot these. We’ve seen it played over and over again. Whether the main characters can be diverse as a 500 year old alien, a virgin boy crazy ghost, a time traveling warrior, a female coffee server posing as a man, or a classic dashing rich guy, the dramas play the same notes in some order. It is a comfort and enjoyment to watch these dramas end up at the same spot: love.
Now the casual viewer would assume that every thing in these dramas happen because of beautiful happenstance. It is a romantic fictional story after all. What if it there was a whole other perspective that we knew nothing about. What if there was a place where all the scenarios, characters, situations, nuances of a Korean Drama were in an actual place called Dramaworld? And all of these “coincidences” were the clever antics of “facilitators”- fellow Korean Drama fans lucky enough to be in this world?
Viki is one of the premier online website for the American audience to indulge in their Korean Drama obsessions. Thanks to the many volunteers, the series is translated rapidly and made available to the hungry audience. Adding to the whole sense of community, there is a running commentary made by viewers who had watched the episodes. Watching a show on Viki is never feeling alone in watching a Korean Drama. All around the world there are others who are screaming into their pillows at what had just transpired off the screen.
Dramaworld pokes light-hearted fun at the tropes of a Korean drama while delivering a solid sweet drama story. In our world, Claire ( played by Liv Hewson) lives deeply for Korean dramas. Her own life is not as exciting or dashing. Thanks to a freak accident involving a broken cell phone and a puddle (which really reminds me of another cute drama…), she winds up right in the middle of her favorite drama: Taste of Love. She does what any fangirl would do: faint. As she comes to, she is given the crash course of Dramaworld by main Facilitator, Seth (played by Justin Chon) .Korean dramas exist and there are people like her who help make that happen. Or else Dramaworld will cease to exist. The task now is to make sure that Taste of Love follows all of the Korean drama laws with the main hero Joon Park (played by Sean Dulake) to fall for the main heroine Seo-Yeon (played by Bae Noo-Ri) by the end of the series all while staying hidden. Except nothing goes as plan and Claire soon becomes the main character in the drama. Plus someone is out to kill her. So even more added drama!
From the very first episode, it is oozing with silliness and corniness. Thanks to the talented writing, it easily becomes a drama upon it’s own. Although many viewers disliked Claire’s hairstyle (it is admittedly a strange style), there was no question that she become a full fledged Korean drama heroine: ditzy, naive, but oh so adorable. Joon Park really nailed the charisma of the lead hero. Especially with the shower scene. Much,much kudos to that. Ultimately, Hewson and Dulake were a great drama couple and had so much adorable chemistry between them. They pulled off this mini series into a sweet story. My huge complaint over the whole thing was that it was so frustratingly short. Each episode was roughly about 20 minutes long and totaled about 10 episodes. If this was a test to see if audiences would be more receptive for original series, yes. Wholeheartedly yes. The collaboration between America and Korean cinema is to be encouraged. Nothing will take away the pure magic of Korean dramas but it is extremely heartening for non-Korean fans to be acknowledged and highlighted.
What was most surprising to me was the mind blowing connection between Justin Chon (who played Seth) and a recent Kpop video that has made viral status. Where is my BgA army at?! So Chon is an actual legit Korean pop star and actor. He is a very enjoyable and fantastic actor. Without giving much away, there is more to Seth and he loves to break down boundaries. Especially with one episode opening with a hip hop music with twerking Joseon court ladies and lords. Oh yes, that happens. And yes, you have to re-watch it over and over.
For someone who has been a huge fan of The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, Dramaworld is right up my alley of entertainment. Dramaworld is silly but it is seriously sweet and touching. It doesn’t insult or belittle the Korean Drama fandom. The creators are a part of this fandom and are pointing out the silliness at the same time we are. If you are a fan of Korean Dramas, it will make you smile. If this is your first Korean drama, enjoy!
All ten episodes of Dramaworld are available on Viki pass. It is worth every penny of it.
My mind is still reeling from the connection between Dramaworld and a music video by NigaHiga.