K-dramas are so ubiquitous in pop culture nowadays that you’re bound to hear them mentioned at your workplace, over dinner with friends or even recommended to you on your Netflix feed. Now we’re not telling you to join in the craze – although there are good reasons to, but having watched, shall we say, a mild couple series ourselves, we’ve noticed various k-drama trends that always keep up the hype. Some are more common than others, and good shows still utilise them in grand fashion to keep the suspense going.
Most fans have a love-hate relationship with these tropes, but they’d be lying if they said they aren’t hoping for it to be done well. Tropes are here to stay for a reason – they are great methods to ramp up suspense and give the crowd what they want to see. These tropes aren’t going anywhere just yet. Whether you love them or hate them, here are some tried-and-true staples of K-Dramas that you’ll recognise if you are a K-Drama fan.
1. The Chaebol heir
Seriously, where would K-Drama be without chaebols? Chaebol, from the words “wealth” and “clan”, directly translates into “rich family”. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a drama that doesn’t feature them and/or their disapproving family members. Coupled with a less-than-wealthy female lead with two part-time jobs, it shows a classic Cinderella story as the heir goes through a journey to find out that money and affluence isn’t the most important factor when choosing a partner for life.
2. Mysteries and hidden plots
A cliché when seen a mile away but still does wonders when hints are dropped succinctly before an unexpected reveal. It doesn’t just have to be a huge reveal about someone’s identity but can also work with long-kept secrets, hidden motives or secret plots carried out by the cast behind their friends’ and families’ backs. These aren’t just used willy-nilly though, they serve to change up the status quo, often pitting close friends and family against each other as they go to increasingly extreme methods to get what they want.
3. Contract relationships
Ah yes, the typical “Contract Relationships” and its close cousin – “Cohabitation”. These tropes provide a fast track to romance with the classic concept of “opposites attract”. Our main characters typically start off on the wrong foot, hating each other for various reasons. But their unique circumstances force them into close proximity to one another, often having to portray a more than friendly appearance to hide a secret or two. It won’t be long before one of our leads starts to develop feelings for the other, and the eventual push and pull of attraction lends to a spicy romantic situation as they yearn to win the other party over.
4. (In)convenient Amnesia
When everything seems to be finally okay, but there are still three episodes left, don’t hold off your breath just yet because one of the leads might get amnesia and not remember their love interest. But this isn’t just how amnesia can be used – someone can go through an accident and forget who their assailant was, or a new character can be introduced at the start without his/her memory and eventually provide crucial information for the plot to move forward. Now we’re not saying this is the best way for this trope to be utilised, but we can definitely appreciate certain characters not remembering crucial details, so we get a couple more juicy episodes to enjoy.
5. The Second Male Lead Syndrome
K-Dramas often feature riveting love geometries where they present two or more appealing leading men, causing some viewers to root for one over the other. This puts the other one in the position of the second lead. We view this as an improved development of the side characters as they get greater relevance to the plot. Two characters getting to lead the plot ends up with interesting B plots, where multiple plot threads converge to a crackling finale as everything is resolved in a cathartic performance.
Getting to know tropes is one thing, but getting to know the language of the drams you oh-so-enjoy is another. If you are an avid watcher of Korean dramas, you may already have got the gist of the Korean language. Chances are, you might be an avid fan of Korea and all there is to offer.
If so, take the chance to polish your Korean language skills with a Korean language course in Singapore. At Sejong, we are here to help you achieve your language learning goals with our carefully curated classes from beginners to advanced. You can learn to speak Koran with our native teachers, who will deliver a systematic yet fun and enjoyable lesson to help you enjoy your future K-drama binge even more. What are you waiting for? Get started today!