Any form of art is essentially an escape from reality. And more so in the last year when any plans of actually escaping our daily lives were thwarted by the ever-looming pandemic. As we all turned to our screens yearning for the escape that Netflix shows offered, one genre gave us the sort of fantasy most of us had left behind in our teen years – K-dramas. And well, the nostalgic appeal sucked us in. According to Netflix’s year-end reports, K-drama viewership in India increased more than 370 per cent in 2020, over 2019.
For anyone who’s grown up on a steady diet of trite Mills & Boon novels or spent hours watching rom-coms with every imaginable trope, Korean dramas are a natural extension of that. Digital content creator Scherezade Shroff spent most of last year getting inducted into the K-drama fandom, and now runs a Facebook Club titled ‘Sherry’s K-drama Club.’ For her, the unrealistic fantasy of the beautiful love stories was what stood out, “Given the year we’ve all had, I think we all craved a little fantasy. It’s only natural to want to escape the reality of what we all found ourselves in and feel mushy and good. I think that’s what K-dramas really do. That’s why I got so hooked.”
From strong protagonists and sensitive male leads to riveting storytelling and picturesque locations, K-dramas have a plethora of appeal. And after finally giving in to their warm, inviting plots I began to realise what it was about these romantic dramas that has captured everyone’s hearts.
THE INDIAN CONNECT
Despite the glaring differences in language and physical appearances, the intersection of Indian and Koran cultures is quite evident. Unlike popular Western shows like FRIENDS or How I Met Your Mother, which spotlight young people in their 20s living alone, Korean protagonists are often depicted as living with their parents. This domestic set-up, with its constant struggle with privacy and independence, resonates with most Indians who go through the same thing, which became especially evident during both lockdowns.
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