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A love for Iced Americanos and schooling on manners: The many things I learnt about Korea from K-dramas

While Korean rom-coms have me going back for more for to their stories and endearing characters, there are many unintended learnings from the shows 

A love for Iced Americanos and schooling on manners: The many things I learnt about Korea from K-dramas

K-dramas have many lessons on Korean people and culture 

  • Dhwani Desai

Last Updated: 06.57 AM, Jan 21, 2023

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Love them or look down on them (you know you love them!), there’s no denying the lure of K-dramas and Korean rom-coms. Is it just me or does everyone somehow battle through the first two episodes, which are slow and not extremely engaging, and by episode number three, you’re hooked. When the show ends after its usual 15-16 episodes, you’re left with a void. What purpose does your life have now? Of course, this lasts till you click on the next K-drama suggestion, and then…lather, rinse, repeat!

Despite keeping me entertained for hours on end, K-dramas have unintentionally taught me a lot about Korea (South Korea, to be specific) – a country that I knew nothing about apart from it being the home of Hyundai and Samsung. While the stories (most of which seem to follow a similar story pattern, but I’ll watch them nonetheless) and the endearing characters are what keep me going back for more, what has been fun is discovering all about South Korea (and a good amount about North Korea, thanks to Crash Landing on You) – its people and culture.

So, here are some of the things that I have learnt about Korea solely from watching K-dramas. No Google searches were done for this article…promise!

How many side dishes is too many?
How many side dishes is too many?

Gastronomical delights aplenty: Side dishes seem to be a cuisine of their own in Korea, with a variety wide enough to give Gujarati snacks tough competition. Koreans also seem to love junking on fried chicken, which, I must admit, looks really tasty!

Spit guard masks: All cooks in restaurants or food trucks wear spit guard masks at all times, which is, as the name suggests, to keep the food safe from anything that may come out of the cook’s mouth. We need this in India!

Soju is an emotion
Soju is an emotion

Chill out or get wasted: While they prefer unwinding over beer, soju is the drink of choice when Koreans are emotional or just want to get drunk. And soju must always be poured into your glass by someone else.

North Koreans defectors welcome: If Crash Landing on You is to be believed, then South Korea not only treats North Korean defectors well, but also welcomes them.   

Mandatory military service: It was only after watching K-dramas that I learnt that men are required to undergo mandatory military service.

There's nothing like a perfectly brewed cup of coffee
There's nothing like a perfectly brewed cup of coffee

Cophee love: Koreans seem to love coffee (which they pronounce as cophee), even learning how to pour the right brew. And they especially seem to have a fondness for Iced Americano.

Finding Indian parallels: The parenting style of Koreans seems to be similar to Indians. Not only this, they even call their parents like we do – umma and uppa.

Manners are a big deal: Much like in India, honorifics are important, which means that the way you address people changes according to their age. And it’s normal to school those (and even call them ‘punks’) if they are ill-mannered.

Lee Min Ho is among the most handsome Korean actors
Lee Min Ho is among the most handsome Korean actors

On the surface level: It’s commonplace to compliment someone based solely on their (good) looks… even when it is done at embarrassing levels. Double eyelids are considered a sign of beauty and long faces are termed unattractive.

Koreans are loud: They call each other with a loud ‘hya’ and are generally loud in their everyday conversations. Koreans are also extremely emotional.

Seoul has a river: Yes, and it’s called the Hangang River. And those who are rich, live in apartments that overlook the river.

What's your style preference?
What's your style preference?

Same same, but different: Korean men seem to have only one of two hair styles – short at the back with bangs on one side, or short at the back with curtain bangs. And almost all women have their hair dyed light brown.

Heavy academic pressure: School children are under a lot of academic pressure and are either in school or at private classes late into the night – as late as 10 pm! Private classes are in big demand and their tutors are stars in their own right.

Come rain or shine...
Come rain or shine...

Unpredictable weather: Seoul enjoys four different climates and looks beautiful throughout the year, but it rains randomly and people rarely leave home without an umbrella.

Fastest internet in the world: Were you also unaware that South Koreans have access to some of the fastest internet speed in the world?

Cute together
Cute together

Couple of things: All young couples in love are super cutesy – from taking selfies with the finger heart sign, to going on cliche dates and the women getting giant teddy bears as gifts from their boyfriends.

Between the sheets: While, much like Indian culture, sex between unmarried couples is frowned upon, getting pregnant if you are engaged to get married is accepted, and, at times, even encouraged.

Dress to impress
Dress to impress

Sartorial choices: Everyone, across all age groups, is always dressed well, regardless of the occasion or social standing.

Digital homes: All the houses have cool digital locks and motion-sensor lights at the entrance. Like us, they also take off their footwear at home, but somehow, everyone’s indoor slippers look the same.

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