Korean Drama vs Japanese Drama: How Similar Are They?

Many are told to stay home because of the risk of COVID. Fortunately there are a lot of things to do without getting out. Many have started gardening, working on home improvements, and go online to either learn something new or be entertained. Some have turned to television dramas and streaming them online, even on social media sites. Some are practically addicted and binge watch on old ones. Rewatching over and over until they are considered experts. 

Not content to watch one in one language, a few will check out how a Korean drama unfolds when a Japanese remake has been done. Which begs then the question, Korean drama vs Japanese drama: are they the same thing? If one is to go to these streaming sites like Netflix, some titles will be the same. How good are remakes like a Japanese drama made into a Korean one or Korean drama made into a Filipino one? 

Japanese drama or terebi drama also known as “dorama” is essential in Japanese day to day. They are aired daily as a staple to enliven the Japanese way of life. Japanese dramas are marketed as not being afraid to tackle seemingly taboo subjects and scenes. They change often and can be as fast-paced as life itself. Rather than being a fairy tale, these are classified more as love stories. Although as many anime and manga stories before, there are elements of fantasy (Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light) and plot twists. But a distinction of Japanese dramas is depicting it as realistic as possible. There is more skin showing and mature content (Kuzu No Honkai), deeper situations, raw and conflicting emotions, and more (1 Litre of Tears). Kissing, heartbreak, some violence even a not so happy ending for the protagonists. 

One example is Hana Yori Dango which is a remake (Meteor Garden. Taiwanese / Boys Over Flowers, Korean). The original storyline is followed, although plot twists may depend on the ones in charge of the remake. More than the locations and language, these remakes take into consideration the sensibilities, culture, and even timelines. If Kdramas are short, Japanese dramas can even be shorter. Some will have as few as six to twelve episodes only. This is perhaps based on their low budget. This is not to say that they are of lesser quality. In fact, its realism is what endears itself to viewers.

The K-drama genre offers much information about Korean culture and Confucian values of relationships. The deviation from the norm of violence, nudity, and the resurgence of ethics is a welcome improvement for the viewing public. Most K-dramas are heavily sponsored as can be seen on highlights of the program. Most of these programs are in 16 to 20 episodes. Their storylines are the characters’ individual journeys to maturity and self-realisation. Since there are more episodes, there is more room for character development and build-up to the climax of the story. 

One kdrama flaw is its capitulation to viewership ratings that sometimes the original script has to be modified to garner better ratings (Temperature of Love). The “Hallyu wave” is backed by their government and is partly instrumental in spreading their culture around the world. This promotes not just their tourism but also their artists as well as products. It proves to be very beneficial to their country’s economy. 

Entertainment plays a light but crucial role in alleviating the hardships of life. Nowadays it also is a gateway to learning more about a country and its people. The global village is becoming smaller and the community more aware, and hopefully, more understanding and tolerant of their neighbor country.