The Kawaii of Korean Dramas

Kawaii is the term used for cuteness in Japanese pop-culture. The literal meaning of the word in Japanese is “lovable.”

Recently, I have developed a taste for the kawaii of Korean dramas. Needless to say, now I am hooked. In the last week, I spent 24 good hours watching the Korean soap called Goong. Although, I wish I hadn’t OD-ed in this crazy fashion, but I am thrilled for having found something so engaging.

Goong means palace and it is a Korean word derived from Chinese. The drama is popularly known as Princess Hours, something I am glad I did not know before I started watching the show. I am positive the fluffy name would have kept me away.

Set in an alternate South Korea that has monarchy, Goong is a story of teen-aged prince and a common girl who find themselves married for political reasons. The endearing teenage romance is spiced up with a jealous ex-girlfriend and a head-over-heals-in-love cousin-in-law. All this is set in the background of an ongoing power-struggle for the crown, and the drama is sprinkled with all sorts of royal characters, of which the great queen (Tae-hu mama) is my favorite. Not to forget that all the royal politeness and the slow speech made it easier for me to catch the foreign words.

The seemingly clichéd story was made an entirely different experience for me because of the uniqueness of the culture; the language, the attire, the freakishness of the royalty and that of the teenagers were all a whole different ballgame.

Yoon Eun Hye (the princess) is fairly attractive in an innocent/childish way, while Song Ji Hyo (the ex-girlfriend) is the suave hottie of the show. Without knowing much about the Korean talent pool and the popular actors of the moment, the casting of the two leading ladies seems quite apt to me. The young contending prince played by Kim Jeong Hoon also seemed a good casting to me, as he did a fine job of portraying lovelornness.  The only actor that took a while (around five-six episodes) to grow on me was Joo Ji Hoon, who played the prince. He appeared quite listless to me, but maybe that was him acting as a detached prince. For he did grow on to me, and by the tenth episode, I was totally waiting for his screen appearance. A quick google search tells me that Joo Ji Hoon has been a typical heartthrob, complete with letting it get to his head and being involved in using and trafficking drugs. In short, he appears to be the Salman Khan of South Korea. A surprise character and a beautiful actor (with little role) was the prince’s sister who makes an appearance midway of the series. The character portrayed by a stunning Lee Yoon Ji, demanded very little but she still left an impression. I think, I am going to hunt down her shows.

Besides loving the language, the actors, the cultural tidbits, I also love the soundtrack of the show. There are three songs that are repeatedly used throughout the 24 episodes, and here is the one I liked the best – Sarang Een Ga Yo (perhaps love) by Howl & J.

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5 Responses to “The Kawaii of Korean Dramas”

  1. Love reading your posts, Anupma. I like how your adventurous spirit, be it in trying out new cuisines, travelling, or imbibing the local culture through soaps such as these. Awesome!

  2. sunshin3girl Says:

    Gee, thanks Radhika. I guess its only these little new things I discover that keep me going. Else the same old drudgery will kill me.

  3. rechristened Says:

    Sounds like an interesting plot for a soap, and possibly a movie too.
    Do you watch with the subtitles on, or without?
    And how do you select which soaps to watch? Research, recommendation, no-option?

  4. rechristened Says:

    OK, now that I have read your previous post, I have half my answer@selection 🙂

    • sunshin3girl Says:

      Hehe, now that I am hooked to everything Korean, I have researched and found highly-rated shows. A quick youtube search gives an idea about how the show is gonna be, as well.

      Also, a lot of my local colleagues watch these shows, so its easier for me while I am here.

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