K-Drama Q & A and some Summer viewing suggestions

As we brace for summer blockbuster season and get ready for the beach with our reading lists and vacation request forms, now seems like a good time to take a minute and do some follow up on my post Bringing the World Together one Drama at a Time: The Allure of International Streaming Media.

I received a number of really good questions from people who seemed particularly interested in how I found Korean dramas online, where I watch(ed) them, which shows I would recommend and if I am interested in other genre’s.  So, I thought I would run down the list.

How did I find Korean dramas?

Just like the people I interviewed in my post, I have always been interested in foreign movies, media etc… and I had access to a lot of movies from Europe and Latin America, via video stores and libraries.  Even so, I never really considered watching anything other than DVD’s on my computer until one day the ability to start streaming longer video’s without it constantly “buffering” happend and Hulu started streaming a program that I absolutely couldn’t miss under any circumstance, “Lost.”  From there it was pretty easy to branch out, especially as “Lost” came to an end and more diverse programming became available online.  One day Hulu ‘recommended’ a drama called “Playful Kiss.”  I don’t know how the software decides it’s going to recommend programming but when I saw the image pop up I didn’t remember it from anywhere and I thought I would give it a try.  At that point, my only exposure to the South Korean media industry had been limited to Park Chan Wook’s Vengeance Trilogy and YunJin Kim (“Sun” on “Lost”).  Watching full length programs was something I did to catch-up on my favourite show at the time but I had never watched a television drama from South Korea before because they hadn’t been easily available for me to find online.

Playful Kiss was a slightly surreal teen drama/comedy but it turned out to be oddly entertaining and I found myself inexplicably sucked in. It’s only drawback might have been that it was in Korean and the fact that I had to watch it with subtitles.  But subtitles don’t bother me and they definitely didn’t stop me from enjoying the show.  I don’t know if I would say it was the best K-drama I’ve seen, but it definitely piqued my curiosity to the point where I rolled from “Playful Kiss” directly through a few more “suggestions” on Hulu.  Truth, it was refreshing, to be watching something different.

Are South Korean dramas better than our programming?

Some are, some aren’t.  A lot of the Korean dramas I’ve watched seem to run the same gamut, quality wise, that our programming does.   By that I mean, some have really high production value and are incredibly well developed, well acted and leave you wishing it would never end and some, not so much.  But like any good program, the ones that I have been really excited about have been so good that they make me want to watch them again and again, and I seem to recommend them to everyone I talk to.

What would you recommend I watch?!

Taste is pretty personal.  If you were to ask me to recommend something the only thing I could do is offer some suggestions based on programs I have liked.  There are so many more, but these are some of my absolute favourites and I believe in most cases they are available on Dramafever, Viki and possibly Hulu and Netflix as well.

  1. *Heartless City/Cruel City – Noir/Thriller/Action/Romance
  2. *Let’s Eat – Season 1 – Comedy/Romance/Mystery – Never has anything made me so hungry.
  3. *Prince of Lan Ling – Historical/Action/Romance
  4. *It’s O.k. That’s Love – Drama/Comedy
  5. Chuno – Action/Revenge/Historical
  6. Iris – Action/Revenge/Spy/Thriller/Romance
  7. City Hall – Comedy/Romance/Odd Couple
  8. Marry Me Mary – 20’s/Romance/Comedy
  9. A Gentleman’s Dignity – Drama/Romance/Bromance
  10. Bridal Mask – Historical/Drama/Revenge/Action
  11. Lovers – Action/Romance/Thriller
  12. Queen Inhyun’s Man – Historical/Action/Romance/Time Travel
  13. The Great Doctor – Historical/Action/Romance/ Time Travel
  14. Possession/Soul – Suspense/Horror/Gothic/Romance

(* new additions to the original list)

Where do I watch all these shows and movies?

As for my preferred places to view programming and/or movies I was, and still am, a member of Netflix.  Although I no longer use their streaming service (because I have a summer reading list and i’m trying to watch less TV).  I still occasionally rent a DVD and once in a while when a movie justifies the exorbitant cost of paying to experience it in a cinema, I’ll cough up and go there too. For streaming I lean towards services that are free.  I’m sure television networks and pay sites absolutely hate people like me but the truth is I’m not going pay for something unless I absolutely have to. Dramafever, Viki.com and YouTube are still at the top of my list because they offer both “free” and “premium” accounts, have decent iPhone apps that are regularly updated, and offer a diverse selection of programming to choose from, plus their subtitling tends to be pretty good.

Am I interested in other Genres?

Yes, of course!  I’m always looking for interesting new shows and I’m always open to suggestions.

As far as programming and movies not made in the USA, What would I recommend watching?

There is so much, that’s kind of a loaded question.  So, in no particular order:

  1. Anything from the list of Korean dramas above
  2. Darna Zaroori Hai – India
  3. Kung Fu Hustle – China
  4. Journey to the West – China
  5. House of Cards (1990) – UK
  6. Pyramids of Mars – Classic Dr. Who – UK – Television show.
  7. Spirits of the Dead – France
  8. The Good the Bad and the Weird – Korea
  9. “No” La Pélicula – Chile
  10. The Thick of It – UK – Television Show
  11. City of God – Brasil.
  12. The Man from Nowhere – Korea
  13. Muriel’s Wedding – Australia
  14. El Espinazo del Diablo – Spain
  15. Tesis – Spain
  16. Jaws – United States
  17. Sorcerer – United States
  18. Wages of Fear – France – The forefather to “Sorcerer” this is absolutely amazing in its own right.
  19. All of Me – USA
  20. *Deathproof – USA
  21. *Three Amigos! – USA
  22. *Tacones Lejanos (High Heels) – Spain
  23. *Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother) – Spain

Honestly, I could go on and on about this forever.  While I remain amazed at the quality of media streaming into the United States and the ubiquity of it’s infiltration on all our mobile devices I am reminded that life is fleeting and the summer is  short.  So, so slather on some sunblock and go enjoy the warm weather …and THEN, pick out a movie to watch.