K-Drama Spotlight: W

Recently, I decided that after years of hearing about all of the awesome k-dramas that are around, I’d actually sit down and take the time to start watching.

It’s summer now and I’ve caught up on most all of the fall shows that I set out to prioritize. With more time on my hands this time of year to check out more content on my watch list, this time around, I wanted to take a break from starting new series with, say, eight seasons and watch something A) more manageable and B) new to me in a totally different way. Enter Korean dramas.

If you’re not familiar with k-dramas, I’m not the person to turn to for the 101. That said, if you are a big TV viewer like me, I can at least explain the format. K-dramas tell their entire stories within a limited time frame, so it’s basically a mini series that runs for what we would consider one entire season (16-30 episodes) as opposed to the length of a mini series that we might typically think of (4-10 episodes). In addition to being able to binge an entire series in 1-3 days, there’s the new to me factor of not knowing any of the k-drama tropes. Of course I can assume, and most of my guesses for the one k-drama that I’ve seen so far were right (though I didn’t have many) but the best part is being able to dive in and experience something totally fresh and not know where the storytelling is going and/or how the storytelling will be executed. It’s exciting as viewer, it’s exciting as a creator, it’s just really exciting. But let me backtrack for a minute here.

So once I carved out time and got my popcorn ready, I turned to my trusted friends who gave me a list of Korean dramas to check out on my desired formats (Netflix & Hulu) and wow, do I have quite the list of shows to get through! But where do I begin?

There’s Iris, Boys Over Flowers, Playful Kiss, Descendants of the Sun, and Hello, My Twenties! which are all streaming on Netflix. Then there’s Heirs, She Was Pretty, Moonlight Drawn By Clouds, Shopping King Louie, W, Oh My Venus, Bridal Mask, and My Girlfriend is A Nine Tailed Fox which are all streaming on Hulu.

On one hand, I really wanted to watch something without commercials, so the shows on Netflix were calling my name. But then. Then I saw the trailer for W, also known as W: Two Worlds and I knew what show I’d be watching first.

W (16 episodes) originally aired last summer and stars Lee Jong-suk as Kang Chul and Han Hyo-joo as Oh Yeon-joo. The trailer for W presents itself as a thrilling romance but it actually starts off like a dark superhero story with the tragic backstory and everything, which I wasn’t expecting given the trailer. Alas, it sets itself up perfectly for both the romance and the adventure that awaits.

Now I’m not a romantic BUT I am a sucker for a good sci-fi/fantasy romance so this was calling my name. But boy, did I get a lot more with this story. In W, Oh Yeon-joo finds herself constantly being pulled inside of the world that her father, an artist, created with his best-selling graphic novel, W.

Now, my father is a comic book artist so I can’t even begin to tell you how much I related to and absolutely LOVED the father-daughter dynamic and storytelling here. It’s like a love letter to a very specific father-daughter dynamic and I can’t even begin to describe how much this meant to me to see. And then of course the show really takes off with its dramatic flair and gets wild but at the core of it, wow, I was knocked off of my feet.

Back to the show though, Kang Chul is the main character of the graphic novel, W and he’s just as charming and dangerous as you’d expect. I really enjoyed getting to know his world, getting to know Oh Yeon-joo’s reality, and seeing how the two overlap. What a ride. And I must mention how wonderful it was to see such a haunting account of the relationship dynamic between the creator (Oh Yeon-joo’s father) and the creation (Kang Chul). Talk about a tortured artist. They really take that phrase to heart with this story. And  boy did I love it.

Each story line, each relationship is just as compelling and thrilling as the last. I highly suggest that you just start watching without knowing much more about the story so that you can enjoy everything the show throws at you. I love how it plays with comic book tropes and I love how that bleeds into the real world of it all. It’s so much fun and the perfect show to binge in the summer.

For me, there was no better way to get into k-dramas. The concept of this show pulled me in immediately, the relationships were relatable in a way that I can’t even begin to fully articulate but they’re all really close to my heart. Best of all, overall, the show delivers. If you’re new to k-dramas like me, I highly recommend checking out a k-drama within your favorite genre, turning the subtitles on if you need them, and get to watching as soon as possible because you’re missing out otherwise!

What k-dramas have you watched and loved or plan to watch?