I love my Korean dramas, as you would know from this Author Select post on some of my favourites. However, they all follow a pattern, what we call as tropes. While some break these cliches, most of the Kdrama strictly follow it. Included in these tropes are some elements that make no sense and make these dramas deviate from reality. That said, these absurd cliches make them interesting and at times, hilarious. So here are seven Korean drama tropes that make no sense whatsoever.
Mommy and Daddy Issues
This one trope has always made me wonder if every Korean has mommy or daddy issue. Almost all Korean dramas have at least one lead character with a complicated relationship with either the father or mother. The crux of the character’s arc and the plot of the Kdrama is resolving the issues with the parents. God forbid if it’s the male lead who has problems with mother (abandonment, loss, or detachment), then you can most certainly expect him to be, “cold, unapproachable, and has no interest in women.” While we are still on the topic, let us not forget to include issues with any other women or man (if not parents).
All That Food
I have lost count on how many times I have seen the male lead become flabbergasted or disgusted by watching the female lead eat. Coffee Prince, Legend of the Blue Sea, and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo are only some of many Korean dramas with this trope. The girl eats a lot but NEVER gains weight. As a person who puts on a few kilos after a couple of hearty meals, I simply cannot digest this cliche. Even the female leads who are supposed to be “fat or chubby” have no fat whatsoever. Do you think this is fair to us foodies? If we could, the TRB team would write a petition to make foodie female characters more believable.
In what world is Park Bo-young ordinary-looking girl? Yup, you got that right, it is the absurd Korean drama universe. Beauty standards in these dramas never made sense to me. I cannot and will not accept that Do Bong-soon, Kim Bok-joo, and Cha Eun-sang are average-looking. Speaking of Bok-joo, can we all take a moment to wonder why people treated her (including herself) like a sumo wrestler when she only weighed 56 Kg! If you agree with me, this Reddit thread will have you bob your head with each word written here.
Now, I love Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo as much as the next Kdrama addict. However, there were some serious logical plot-holes in the series. Perhaps the most insensible factor is Lee Sung-kyung (a supermodel) playing a weightlifter. Now, I am not saying that all weightlifters should be huge, but a little realism is required, especially if you are basing it on a real-life athlete. Regardless, Sung-kyung does a pretty darn job in making up for the lack of realism with her acting.
The Arrogant Chaebol Namja
You cannot disagree with me when I say that most Korean dramas have a chaebol namja (man) as the male lead, who will magically fall in love with the women (or girl) who badmouths them. We have seen it in series like Boys Over Flowers and My Secret Romance (and many more). It would seem that these chaebols are just waiting for the next rudest gal to fall in love. While we are still talking about Korean drama male leads, can we admit the sky-high standards we now have on men? After seeing guys like Nam Joo-hyuk, Lee Min-ho, Gong Yoo, and Kim Soo-hyun, how can we find any other guy attractive?
All-time Perfect Hair and Makeup
30 minutes after I have washed my hair, it resembles a bird’s nest. It goes without saying that we all look not-so-great after we wake up. Yet in Korean dramas, unless its comedic sequence, the characters never ever have a bed-head. Hell, Yoon Se-ri from Crash Landing on You had perfect hair even after she landed in North Korea after getting stuck in a storm while paragliding. Jinjihage?
The Self Sacrifice
How many times have you screamed at your phone screen, “Noooooooo!” when you see a lead character walking away from their love to protect them? I bet too many times than you can remember or like. It makes no sense to me or to the rest of the TRB team to go with the self-sacrificing path when a better alternative is available. I am all for true love means letting go for maybe, think things through, first?
These are some of the Kdrama tropes that get to me. But, I still watching them, regardless and I know, so do you. How many of these cliches could you spot in your favorite Korean dramas? Do you find any missing from this list? Let us know in the comments below!