A few days ago, as I was marathoning through the latest episodes of my dramas, my sister remarked how often she would find me startled, gasping or exclaiming in apprehension sitting in front of the screen. “It’s always someone dying or someone already dead! Have you placed a bet to watch these kind of shows?”, she said. I couldn’t blame her. I have been watching a lot of shows in the past few months that revolved around prosecutors, lawyers and murderers, scaring few of my family members. They say I might be loosing my mind with the types of shows I watch. And they do have a point. My drama choices has been completely reversed from light romantic comedies to dark criminal suspense.
I started watching Korean dramas at the age of 15 and being the typical teenager, I was, needless to say, obsessed over surreal love and romance. I loved romance. Each time I got a hand on some romantic comedies, I would marathon the whole thing without a second thought. Reminiscing the days of youth, I recall how I lusted over the perfect Choi Han Kyul in Coffee Prince. Or the time I watched and re-watched Hyun Bin confessing his love for Kim Sun Ah in a male washroom in My Name is Kim Sam Soon only about a thousand times. I glided my devotion towards fictional romance through deranged love stories (Secret), Noona-Romances (Dalja’s Spring), political turmoil filled love affair (Queen Son Deok) and even found myself dragging through When A Man Falls in Love! But just as winter slowly approached Westeros, youth seemed to have slowly faded from my gullible heart. Those grand-valor of the male gender and preposterous kissing in the rain at public seemed over-exaggerated and heavily fictional. Then when the rest of the world was gushing over Goblin and his bride, I found myself eager to confirm the Grim Reaper’s identity. When that got revealed, I pretty much lost interest in the show.
2017 brought a lot of changes and dramaland seemed to have shifted their paradigm to thriller and crime centered shows spontaneously. That is why we have so many prosecutors, lawyers, psychopaths and murderers lurking in our screen more than lovers and sappy breakups. I picked up my year with Defendant and what a ride it was. The show managed to retain the intensity throughout its end and consistently maintained the thrill with its skillful performances by the actors. I was even more impressed with the show as I had dived in without any expectations and emerged as an admirer of this intense genre. When that concluded, I immediately picked on Tunnel to feed my ache for the adrenaline. Time traveling theme has been done in the dramaland many times and though not a fan, I don’t mind having them as long as the show wins my heart. Fortunately, my second pick became equally absorbing and I heartily enjoyed Choi Jin Hyuk’s genuine characterization of a detective, fighting against crime with all odds.
Dramaland has been feeding me with mysteries and thrillers throughout the first half of this year. But the statement might overlook the few romance dramas that has been released; Third Rate My Way for instance has a little bit of everything: romance, comedy, action and coming-of-age. But the prospect of me enjoying this drama changed after the 4th episode, when my head constantly waited for some suspense to reveal or someone to simply drop dead. Obviously nothing happened and my priority tilted towards Circle, the show that satisfied my desire for curiosity. I am really bad with science so I’ve always hated sci-fi. But Circle got me hooked straightaway, from the first episode. And what a perfect hook. An exemplary combination of good writing and splendid performance, this show has signified how quality is much engrossing over quantity. Having spent 12 hrs (or more, since its tvN), I am quite confident that I will be able to handle a few more sci-fi genres in the days to come.
Chicago Typewriter was meant to be my ideal show, a platter of mystery, love and friendship. But my attention started wavering as the lead couple started getting closer. In the past, that would’ve been the latch, but not this time. Strong Woman Do Bong Soon faced a similar fate. The most enthralling bit to the story for me was obviously the horrendous seven brides of the masked man. But then my curiosity on how the criminal would be punished started fading after the primal focus of the show started becoming on how the two couples would fall in love.
By now it was clear to me that my preferences in dramas had altered. From a romance devotee, I had transformed into an adrenaline junkie, feeding my addiction steadily with mystery and suspense, drama after drama. Not all suspenses end up with a great find though. Queen of Mystery had a good start and melancholy characters were somehow capable of moving my heart, until the final episode aired and everything changed. Like a lover who cheated, I could never look back to those bittersweet memories whilst watching the show. Same thing happened with Lookout that was flowing with an amazing pace and despite few questionable flaws, I followed through every episode with all my heart. Then the final 2 episodes aired and all that accumulated trust went down the drain.
Despite few disappointments, I have come to worship this genre. Sometimes I do wonder if I am running away from romance rather than chasing the thrill. I knew I was hooked to Chief Kim with its light-hearted comedy and it has been one of the best show I’ve watched. Though it did lack suspense, it wasn’t centered around romance for all that mattered. So would that my mind is exhausted with romance after having pondered on it for a long time? Has the idea of fictional love vaporized and left a dreary mind longing for the adrenaline rush? Or is it just the shifting paradigm of dramaland? Have I changed over time, or is it the recent shows forcing this change in me? And finally, will the change be brief, or will it steadily prevail evermore?