Why are Korean dramas so beloved in Bangladesh?
Korean dramas, popularly known as K-dramas, are taking the world by storm, and audiences here in Bangladesh are not immune to the allure. For years, aside from home-grown tele-fictions and movies, most Bangladeshis have adored American TV shows and Indian serials as their source of entertainment.
But with the boom of the Hallyu Wave, which refers to the global popularity of South Korea's cultural economy exporting pop culture, entertainment, music, TV shows and movies, and the easy access to Netflix, the young generation of Bangladesh is getting more and more invested in K-dramas. Despite the name, not every K-drama is a dramatic show, though many of them have suspenseful elements to keep viewers intrigued.
When I asked my fellow Bangladeshi K-drama fans about the reason they were drawn to the genre and why they fell in love with it in the first place, most of them said they got introduced to this form of entertainment through their friends and family and instantly fell in love with the intense and heart wrenching plots, the relatable family and friendship dynamics, the catchy songs, and most of all, the talented actors. K-dramas often have specific scenes of "fan-service", which are included specifically for the fans to swoon and squeal over, where a male actor might be showing off his physique or the female protagonist may be beating up the bad guys, breaking gender stereotypes. These shows usually have 16 to 20 episodes, jam-packed with plot twists and shocking reveals. They are easy to binge watch in a day or two, which leaves viewers craving for more.
Personally, I love K-dramas that have unique plots, such as "Extraordinary You", in which the characters are actually part of a comic book, or "Save Me", in which the heroine is forced to become a part of a pseudo-religious cult. I also love stories which are somewhat out of the norm, containing impactful and important messages, like "It's Okay to Not Be Okay", which breaks the stereotypes behind various mental illnesses and shows how people really deal with mental health issues, or "Extracurricular", which tells the story of a student who masterminds a risky side hustle that no one knows about.
If action-based shows are not your comfort zone, you can try some slice-of-life shows like "Record of Youth" or "Be Melodramatic." Or you might like the light-hearted romance with sprinkles of comedy in shows like "Strong Woman Do Bong Soon", "Cinderella and the Four Knights", "What's Wrong with Secretary Kim" or "School 2015." Period dramas like "Hwarang" and "Moon Lovers" are also great.
Even when the dramas are set in completely unrealistic worlds or have fantasy plots like "W-Two Worlds Apart" or "Goblin - The Great and Lonely God", the characters go through the journey in such a realistic manner that viewers cannot help but relate to them. The tension is built up so expertly that it is very emotionally resonant when the main couple finally only hold hands halfway through the series. For audiences in Bangladesh, it is more relatable to see a show about family conflicts and college romances than some of the more unrealistic scenarios often shown on Western television.
With the growing number of K-drama fans in Bangladesh, more and more Facebook groups are popping up, giving them a platform to share their love of the shows with fellow K-drama enthusiasts and take part in events and activities hosted by the groups. One of the largest Bangladeshi K-Drama groups, BD K-Family, arranges a yearly get together for its members. Other popular Facebook K-Drama groups include K-Drama Archive BD, Korean Lovers Bangladesh, and BD Korean Drama Fam- all of which create opportunities for both local and international fans to participate in discussions about their favourite shows.
Whether you are completely new to the world of K-dramas, or a total expert, it is a good time to start watching all these titles which are available to stream on Netflix (with English subtitles), with more and shows being added every day.
Sara Kabir studies English Literature in North South University. She is often found raving about her favourite books, songs and movies. Find her at @scarletfangirl on Instagram.