Written by Dyami Millarson
Writing reviews is an art in and of itself, and writing reviews of Korean dramas is a specific application of that art. When I write reviews of Korean dramas, I like to keep things simple. I try not to go into details too much, but I try to keep track of the essence of the story. Who are the main characters? What is happening to them? Where and when is the story taking place? So while watching Korean dramas, it is vital to identify the main characters and remember their names and personalities, identify their background story, and the time and place of the story.
Usually I only watch Korean dramas if they are worthwhile, because they usually consist of many episodes. My preferred amount of episodes is 16 and my preferred runtime for each episode is around 1 hour. This is the best ratio in my personal opinion, because I do not want the story to drag on for too long. If the story does drag on too long, I may lose attention and consequently I might lose track of the storyline. I care about quality, and so I usually try to watch Korean dramas that adhere to my preferred ratio. If a Korean drama doesn’t catch my attention in the first three episodes or if I do not like where the story is going, I will quit watching the drama altogether.
After I know for sure that the Korean drama appeals to me, I might decide to pay enough attention to the story so that I can write up a proper review of it later. When I write a review of a Korean drama, I try to make others interested in watching it as well. I am very picky and so when I review a drama, it is not some random choice, but the drama appealed to me for some reason. I usually watch Korean dramas to be inspired or relaxed. I like about Korean dramas that it doesn’t take that much energy to watch them, I can just watch them comfortably.
I do not like getting too excited or annoyed from a movie, which is what I consider to be the case with many Western movies. Those movies might try to be provocative or show too many special effects, none of that appeals to me. I am more interested in exploring the development of human relations over the course of a story, and many Hollywood movies simply fail to deliver on that point, or at least they do not live up to my expectations, because I want relatable characters that feel like real human beings. For sure, I do want the characters to be “normal,” because I want to empathise with them and perhaps in some artistic way, I want to test the extents and limits of my empathy for flawed characters. So I know why I am watching Korean movies; I am trying to study how human beings are portrayed in them and I am trying to learn from this, perhaps because this information might prove useful to me someday with my efforts to revitalise endangered languages.
When I write reviews of Korean dramas, I try to keep my reviews succinct and I do usually not write more than one A4-sized page, mostly way less. I do not want to be overly opinionated in my reviews, but I want to explain whether I was able to relate to the characters, and if so, I try to answer why I was able to feel empathy for them. Feeling empathy for the characters is an important concept for my reviews. I usually summarise the story a little bit from how I remember it, because I want to offer my own “witness account” of the story in my review and explain how it made me feel. This is what I believe to be the essence of a good review. I try to relate to my own feelings and no matter how hard it may be at times, I try to explain my feelings about the story. I used to be a person who hard a very difficult time recognising his own feelings, let alone explain them to an outsider, and so it has been a fruitful endeavour to me to watch Korean dramas, because it helped me to understand myself better and to be able to explain myself better. My Korean drama reviews are the products of that personal development of mine.
As a reviewer, I do not want to dwell too much on why I hate something, but I like to point out something interesting to my readers and I hope that they can love the details that I share with them, because in my opinion, reviews should make one think and it should contribute to one’s personal development. If what I am reviewing is abysmally bad, I do not want to review it, because I prefer to learn from what people do right and I like to point out good models to learn from. So I have my own style of reviewing; my own brand is basically self-development. When you choose to write reviews, you should identify what your own brand is, and how you want to stand out. There are many who like to hate and criticise, and they might think that a review should be like this, but what do you think that a review should be like? That is an important question to ponder.
When I write a review of a Korean drama, I do not really like describing too much whether it is a good or bad movie, but I want to relate briefly how the movie made me feel with its story. I do not tell too much, because it is really annoying when a review contains lots of spoilers. One of the most important things to avoid is spoilers, because it takes away the fun for people who might still want to watch the drama for themselves. Watching a Korean drama is meant to be an emotional experience, and if that is the case, one ought to only give a glimpse of that emotional experience and there is no need for explaining the entire story in minute detail. In fact, getting lost in too much detail is a huge mistake, because people’s attention spans are quite short nowadays. A good review ought to be short in my opinion, because people are just interested in getting a quick impression and based on that review, people might decide whether they want to watch the movie or not.
Of course, one may write a very detailed and in-depth review, but in that case, one ought to be really sure that one has a lot of interesting information to share about the drama. Writing a lengthy review without a clear goal in mind is a bad idea, because who will read it? Putting in a lot of time and effort ought to be worthwhile. I can imagine that I might choose to write a very detailed review of a Korean drama if I noticed some interesting cultural or philosophical points that I might want to explore further. However, I would weigh that choice carefully, because I want to be sure that my musings are going to be interesting to my readers as well. For instance, if such musings are related to linguistic and cultural conversation, I might feel compelled to write such a lengthy review. The benefit to society is clear in such a case, and I believe that my audience will also appreciate it, because it is a fun and inspiring way to treat a serious topic, sometimes it leads to intellectual breakthroughs when one looks at a serious topic in a new, perhaps playful context. Children learn whilst playing, why might adults not learn while being entertained?