Remember Gangnam Style by PSY? Of course you do! This dance hit sealed the fact that K-pop and kdrama both showcase Korea to the world. It was slow in coming but now there hardly is a day where we are not reminded of the Korean influence.
The first k-pop or Korean pop music debuted in 1992. Seo Taiji and Boys released “I Know” which had R&B and hip-hop beats but still unmistakably Korean. This is the beginning of a totally different music scene. Since then k-pop gradually peaked until it became a worldwide sensation. It is the perfect instrument to spread Korean culture to the world. Hallyu, or the Korean wave as it is known, is very popular among the young crowd. Hip dance moves, dazzling smiles, above reproach image and persistence are among the many qualities a K-pop idol needs to be successful.
A typical idol group has four members that have intensely trained in dancing, singing and acting and honed according to their specific roles in the group. As they are considered to be all around performers, they are trained individually, judged for their strengths and land their designated roles. The one with the best stage presence, charm and most visually pleasing becomes the leader. Then there is the vocalist known for their voice, the dancer for the cool dance moves, the rapper, for one who could neither sing adequately or dance. Often the entire crew is encouraged to develop more than what their established roles are, to be flexible.
It takes an awful lot of work to debut k-pop idols and the investment is not cheap, either. Most agencies venture heavily in these trainees appearance and performance. It is not unusual for trainees to have a couple of plastic surgeries done to better suit the conceived image of an idol.
Kdrama and Korean movies have generated a lot of followers and fans. The increase is largely credited to availability of video streaming and incorporating subtitles. The most popular trending Kdrama movies seem to be leaning more towards suspense and horror. It is different for the TV. The Korean novelas have their own viewers. Most of which favour family dramas, surrounding chaebol if possible. Love stories and young adult or coming of age plots are also welcome. If they feature the brightest k-pop idols of their time, so much the better.
The stories and how the plot develops tells of daily life in Korea. Their typical day, their celebrations, their culture and struggles. It features their food, their traffic, transportation, language and weather that give us glimpses of their lives in Korea. A typical day where they wear layers upon layers of clothing, catch buses and use bus cards, use their employment IDs to gain entry to their office buildings, and go to amusement parks for dates (though perhaps this is just in the dramas).
The Korean dramas not only show their current Asian way of life but also of what they want their future to be. Their qualifications before allowing their kdramas to air are strictly monitored to only show barely any skin, suggestions of love making and hardly any really violent happening in the drama. They make sure to include honorifics, titles and profession attached to the characters names.
There is a lot of genre to choose from. Romance, comedy, horror, drama sci-fi, fantasy or a combination of all of the above. It provides relief from the ordinary at the same time reminding of what could be. Most of them revolve around fate, destiny or something akin to it.
And what Korean series is complete without their local food? From kimchi to samguypsal, soju and Jjamppong that are available at the food stalls and pop ups that offer tasty fare for the busy office workers. Do you know that they attach an invitation to eat ramen to dating? Well, they do. So if you plan to date a Korean better stock up on ramen.