A scene from the smash-hit series “Secret Garden” from SBS
By Jane Han
NEW YORK — Korean fans hooked on American dramas, or “mideu” as they call it, know that it’s only routine to stay up all night with bloodshot eyes and at least half a dozen episodes queued up on the playlist.
Well, guess what? The love is becoming reciprocal as Korean dramas, too, are slowly starting to find their way into the hearts of American viewers.
“NCIS and CSI are good, but this is action drama at a whole new level. It’s one of those shows where you promise yourself ‘just one more episode’ and you end up watching the sun come up,” says Rick Stone, 32, referring to the KBS hit “Iris.”
A newcomer to the world of Korean drama, Stone admits the newfound hobby is beginning to take its toll on his work during the day.
On Hulu.com, an online portal that streams TV shows and movies, it’s easy to find people with the same addiction.
“The first Korean drama I watched was ‘Coffee Prince.’ I watched all 17 episodes within 36 hours... every episode ends in a way that you just have to keep watching,” Shannon Simmons wrote in her review of MBC’s popular drama starring Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun-hye.
Discussing the latest SBS’ smash-hit series “Secret Garden,” Allison Smith wrote, “It’s a perfect blend of romance, comedy and a little fantasy, but not too much to make it cheesy.”
“Secret Garden” and a handful of other Korean dramas are currently ranked among the top 200 most popular shows on Hulu.com, a site exclusively for users in the U.S.
Alongside Hulu.com, DramaFever.com and DramaCrazy.net are also among other popular sites that offer similar services to those that want a little Korean in their TV mix.
So what is it about the Korean shows are keeping American viewers hooked?
The PopWatch segment of Entertainment Weekly says it’s the different approach.
“You can’t enjoy a K-drama using the same standards as you would watch American TV,” it said in a recent article. “The plots tend to unfold slowly, and teenage characters seem shocked by things that the kids on ‘Skins’ wouldn’t even blink at.”
It goes on to say, “K-dramas can appear simplistic and downright campy to an American viewer, but they’re also fascinating and weirdly comfortable in a ‘movie-of-the-week’ kind of way. They’re also not afraid to whack you over the head with an important moral lesson or social critique.”
한국 드라마 미국에 서서히 흘러 들어와
뉴욕 “미드”라고 부르는 미국 드라마에 빠진 한국 팬들은 밤을 지새워 눈이 충혈되는게 예삿일이며 적어도 6회분이 드라마 리스트에 연이어 있다는 것을 잘 알고 있다.
그러면 무슨 생각을 할 수 있을까요? 한국 드라마 역시 서서히 미국 시청자들의 마음에 들어오기 시작해 사랑은 양방향이 되고 있습니다.
KBS 히트작 “아이리스”를 예로 들면서 릭 스톤(32)씨는 “NCIS와 CSI는 좋습니다”라며 “그러나 이는 전체적으로 새로운 액션드라마로 자신에게 ‘1회분만 더’ 약속하며 해가 뜨면서 시청을 그만두는 그런 류의 쇼”라고 말했다.
한국 드라마 세계에 처음 들어온 스톤씨는 이 새롭게 갖게된 취미가 직장에서 낮에 대가를 치루기 시작한다고 인정한다.
유사 중독증에 빠지는 사람들을 TV 쇼와 영화를 내보내는 온라인 포탈인 Hulu.com에서 찾는다는 것은 어려운 일이 아니다.