What K-dramas have you replayed so far?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the influence of Korean series across the world is high. It served as key narrative references and existential therapy of nostalgia to its potential and avid viewers.
Interestingly, some are choosing to rewatch a series despite the several new shows and fresh content on streaming platforms. Repetition breeds affection, they say. Regardless of diversity in genre, a few underlying themes stand out for K-drama lovers for a replay.
To grasp what it is like to settle on a rerun and why rewatchers are drawn to hit repeat on a particular series, here are three key points:
1. Cognitive or Moral Value: The narrative raises awareness on mental health or social issues and helps understand human behavior.
Korean dramas that involve significant human perception and demonstrate moral issues in its narrative have always been powerful teaching mediums for the audience.
For example, the hit series “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” (2020) bravely tackles the struggles of human behaviors despite the universal stigma and discrimination on mental health.
Many were drawn to the series for its brilliant storyline and creative message on healing that encourage its viewers to face their trauma and express their pain, “When you are tired, get some rest. When you are sad, go ahead and cry. It’s okay to do that.”
Hence, the particular experience in terms of cognitive that the drama provides to the audience through its clever story-telling move them to rewatch it, especially when the message hits personally.
Another drama that has a meaningful impact on humanity is “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” (2021), where the writer takes its viewers to the daily life of residents at the seaside village of Gongjin—a place where life is calm and slow-paced yet warm and profound stories abound. The title itself connotes togetherness or community—a warm message that says you can’t do it alone in life.
“Deserter Pursuit” (2021) is another good show that evokes a sense of social empathy and develops the capacity of moral reasoning. Every deserter pursuit brings you to every heartbreaking sight and feeling that the victim of abuse experiences—where the perpetrators often go unpunished and the victims are left behind in the dark.
Dramas such as “Itaewon Class” (2020), “Move To Heaven” (2021), “Start-Up” (2020), “True Beauty” (2020), “18 Again” (2020), “Happiness” (2021) to name a few, are also powerful shows that draw viewers for its uplifting moral teachings on starting a business, achieving dreams, facing death, dealing with broken relationships, bullying, pandemic survival, and many more.
Humans are always drawn to respond to meaningful stories such as these that address personal and current issues. If viewers can’t find any other series that resemble life experiences around the theme mental health and social issues, then they would rather choose to hit on repeat on a particular series.
2. Emotional Value: The characters have a positive nostalgic effect that create strong bonds with the audience.
Although fictional, when a character portrays what humanity feels in reality or draws attention to a feeling of vitality and little escape from life’s pressures, it leaves a significant mark on the viewer.
Iconic drama characters such as Captain Ri in “Crash Landing On You” (2020), Kim Shin in “Goblin” (2016), Shim Cheong in “Legend of the Blue Sea” (2016), Han Jipyeong in “Start-Up” (2020), Miho in “My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho” (2010), Jang Manwol in “Hotel Del Luna” to name a few, create a unique audience experience through its absorbing and moving quality on emotional appeal.
For instance, Christie Golden, a famous American author known for her works such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Assassin’s Creed, to name a few, expressed through her Twitter account that she loved “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” and drawn to the character of Hong Dusik. For her, the drama is without flaw and that she’s already on a second rewatch.
While some characters make the audience feel all warm and fuzzy inside, others are drawn to the characters that they can identify with.
Gang-tae in “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” (2020) is a relatable character who suppresses emotions and appears strong in front of others in order to survive life. “You see, when life is unbearably hard, the easiest way out is to run,” he says in the drama.
“Hospital Playlist” (2021) is more than a medical drama that incorporates “life” into the incredibly busy career of doctors. It highlights the life’s up and downs of healthcare workers amid the noise and haste. The moment they take off their hospital gowns, they go back to their personal lives as sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, or friend. Just as the rest of us, they seek life outside work—food, camping, love, karaoke, time alone, or bonding with family and friends.
It also walks its viewers to a place brimming with various relatable stories—the hospital where people face the fear of the unknown, anxiety floods the mind, hope is grim, and where the brevity of human life is intently and soberly pondered upon.
We all love these Korean dramas that relate to human problems with its characters that strongly stirs emotions. Perhaps it’s this comfort of familiarity and the rhythms of knowing what rewatchers are drawn to—the sounds, visuals, and feeling of warm connection from watching the show.
3. Entertainment Value: The show overall has the capacity to provide viewers excitement, fun, thrill, and a satisfying finale.
We love to be entertained. Korean shows with a perfect blend of humor, fun, comedy, drama, thrill, and excitement tend to be rewatched by viewers.
The super hit “Squid Game” (2021) does not just generate emotional impact, illustrating the painful realities of life and dark side of human nature in the real world. But it also serves pure entertainment with its aesthetic visuals, cinematography, and impressive designs. Moreover, the intense games which provide the “feels and thrills” created a huge impact globally.
The fantasy dramas such as “Goblin” (2016) and “Hotel Del Luna” (2019) are so engaging to watch with its spectacular visuals, excellent storyline, and interesting characters.
“Vincenzo” (2021) is another outstanding Korean series with its interesting plot, characters, storyline, cinematography serving high quality entertainment value that does not bore.
While some suspenseful thriller, gripping conflict, crime-filled Korean dramas entertain such as “Kingdom” (2019), “Sweet Home” (2020), “Hellbound” (2021) to name a few, there are a few light-hearted, feel-good kind of shows that satisfy as well.
For example, the concept of a seaside story in “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” (2021) offers a refreshing vibe and a momentary escape amid the troubles around the world. The breathtaking cinematography, beautiful landscape shots, as well as its cool OST make you want to travel to the beach, sit back, chill, and reflect on life.
“Crash Landing On You” (2020) welcomes you to beautiful landscapes and introduces you to entertaining and funny characters. “When The Camellia Blooms” (2019) is a simple countryside story yet it brings you to heartwarming and charming characters that amuse the audience.
Overall, it’s the capacity of a show to entertain the viewers that makes it worth the stream and rewatch.
What K-dramas do you think meet all three key points? On why rewatchers are likely to settle for a rerun, it’s the satisfying experience of cognitive, emotive, and entertainment value that makes it a perfect rewatch material.
However, it really doesn’t matter what kind of show a viewer chooses to rewatch as long as it breeds affection, provides a sense of comfort, and satisfies overall on a subjective point of view.