How to Make a Korean Drama: Lessons From My Favourites

What happens when you are out of ideas for a post and have been sitting on some reviews? You steal from  get inspired by an article elsewhere and apply it to K-drama!

1. Start off on the right foot (Coffee Prince)

Coffee Prince ep 1 Choi Han Kyul steps out of the shower

Opening strong counts for a great deal. But sometimes a drama conflates ‘strong’ with ‘a lot’, and in a desperate bid to hook audiences throws every thing it can at the screen–a car chase here, a shower scene there, a flashback or three. All this frenzy of activity can seem disorienting and muddled instead of clear and assuring. In this light, I’m struck by how lean and efficient Coffee Prince‘s opening is. The first 6 minutes contains everything you need to know about the show in a nutshell. In quick, fun succession, the show introduces the two leads, tells us who they are, and even has them meet! We see Eun Chan zipping around on her motorcycle, and getting thrown out of the sauna when she’s mistaken for a boy–there’s our Candy (with a slight twist). Han Kyul is all playboy charm, toothy, bare-chested and sweet-talking (our resident man-child male lead). And with his brief glance at a photo and slight hesitance on the phone, we see our second leads, Han Seong and Yoo Joo, and get hints of Han Kyul’s complicated relationship with them. Voila! Characters, conflict and set-up all in 6 minutes. It’s a fabulous reminder of that old adage less is more. (For a recent example of the exact opposite, see the first episode of Warm & Cozy.)

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