During times when I want to take a breath from anime and manga, or whenever there’s something interesting in a seasonal lineup, I watch Asian drama series. Though I was able to watch some Taiwanese, Chinese, and Thai dramas, my list is dominated by the Japanese and Korean dramas. Because of that, though, I can’t help but compare at times. And that’s got to be one of the most long running discussions in the whole of Asian drama community — the question of which is better, Japanese or Korean dramas?
I won’t try to answer that, but what I’ll be writing today are all my own thoughts and preference. I won’t try to convince anybody because I know that what one thinks all comes down to taste; trying to watch series from another country is influenced by one’s own motivation. Now, I’ll have a run-through of different aspects or points I take note of whenever watching.
Because I’m not an expert with technicalities and the likes, I’ll just drop a bit of lines about my opinions on them since I started to appreciate them some few years ago. First, regarding the cinematography. From all the series and movies I’ve seen, I think the Chinese ones have the best cinematography. A lot of them just take my breath away because of the intricate and/or beautiful visuals/locations/angles chosen. Comparing the Japanese and Korean ones, though, I prefer the camerawork done on the settings of most Korean dramas. However, I love the color grading and lighting effects on most Japanese dramas because I get… home-y feels with them.
With the music, there are a lot of songs from the OST of different Japanese and Korean dramas that get stuck in my head. But I love the instrumental music the most. At times, there are those forgettable tracks, too. I’m even more incompetent to speak about sound and music so I’ll just stop here.
In general, even if I like and love certain Korean dramas, I still feel detached from most of them. I rarely feel so close to the characters. I guess part of the reason is the technology. And I feel like all of the people on Korean dramas that I watched are rich even if their roles aren’t. Or maybe I chose dramas where the characters portrayed it all wrong. Nevertheless, there are still some which are worth spending the whole time watching all the scenes, not just speed-watching the episodes. Yes, I admit that, at times, I speed-watch Korean dramas because I feel like 16 (usually) one-and-a-half-hour episodes is too much for me.
On the other hand, I am easily attached to the characters on Japanese dramas. I find Japanese dramas stick more on the reality and as someone who adores the wonderful portrayal of real life in this medium, I naturally enjoy them more. A lot of them contains various philosophies in life which makes me think things through.
Of course, there are also quirky and ridiculous Japanese shows, but even they still manage to show loveable and, in a way, relatable characters. Moreover, there are a lot more perspectives on different topics that Japanese drama series touch. (I liked Last Friends because of this.) A lot of writers are not afraid to experiment with different odd characters or situations, so there’s more variety of shows to watch. For the last few years, a lot of manga and novels are being adapted to drama series, too. Some are well-done while others are disappointing.
What’s best for me is the fact that there are usually only 10-12 episodes for the regular seasonal dramas. This length is usually enough to tell the whole story without dragging it, all the while presenting characters which can easily be loved.
Just as with anime series, I usually wait till the season/drama ends before I start watching it. I usually look out for the dramas where the actors and actresses I like are in and then choose which story looks interesting. I binge-watch those which I like, no matter what length it is. This happened a lot of times already. I binge-watched Dae Jang Geum, Tenno no Ryoriban, Long Vacation, Dream High, and a lot more.
If I didn’t like the drama that much, I either speed-watch it or just leave it for me to pick up again when I think I have nothing else to do. This happened when I was watching Marriage, Not Dating, Love Rain, Personal Taste, and some more others.
In the end, though, which drama I watch ends up depending on my mood. If I feel like watching romantic comedies, I usually look for Korean ones. If slice of life, Japanese series. When all else fails to capture me at the moment, I go back to re-watching old dramas.
Nowadays, though, except from Code Blue S3, I haven’t watched any new dramas. Nor re-watched any old ones. All of this is because of the anime and manga series I’m following. Haaah… I should really spend some time outside, no?