Korean Dramas are comparable in content and format to Japanese, Hong Kong, and other Asian dramas. They typically run for one season. Aimed at women with focus on romance, family and, well, drama, Korean dramas (along with music and movies) have been sweeping over Asia for the last decade in a phenomenon called the "Korean Wave" or Hallyu.
Some Korean dramas are popular enough to get remade in other countries—Winter Sonata was so popular in Japan that a Japanese version was produced. The street runs both ways, too, as the immensely popular Hana Yori Dango was made into a Korean drama as well (not to mention a Taiwan drama and a Chinese drama).
Korean dramas are famous for the female lead inevitably having to deal with a vicious mother-in-law, tragic setbacks and someone falling terminally ill. Actually, they're famous for pretty much everything.
Here is a guide (under construction) on how to write a Korean Drama.
It also has a wiki (which is for Asian dramas in general).
Like a lot of things in Korea, the TV broadcasters producing these shows are mostly based in Seoul.
Tropes common across Korean dramas:
- 12-Episode Anime:
- Most K-dramas run for 12-24 one hour-long episodes, with 16 being the most common. New episodes are shown biweekly. Recent series have shown preference for two half-hour episodes being shown a day, but these are usually grouped together for convenience.
- Sageuk (historical dramas) are an exception to this rule. They can run up to 200 half-hour episodes, with 50 being the most common.
- Beautiful Dreamer: Often the best way to showcase the romantic lead's soft side.
- Creator Provincialism:
- The vast majority of dramas are shot and set in the Seoul Capital Area. Then again, the metropolis is home to 50% of South Korea's entire population, so it's kind of justified.
- Many sageuk subvert this with their more diverse choice of setting, even if they are still shot in Seoul. Pre-Joseon, the peninsula's center of power was located in North Korea.
- Eiffel Tower Effect: The Han River is an obvious natural landmark and easily betrays the apparently foreign (or at least non-Seoul) setting of a series.
- High School: Features in many dramas, as many of them have teenagers for protagonists.
- Hollywood Homely: Holy crap. Every main character in an average drama can pass for a supermodel, no matter how dirt poor they are supposed to be.
- Meddling Parents: The common obstacle to a female protagonist in a romantic drama is her boyfriend's Rich Bitch of a mother.
- Piggyback Cute: The best way to hint at a drama's main couple.
- Sleep Cute: This often happens after the main couple gets together, but sometimes happens as a way of foreshadowing their relationship in the first place.
- Snow Means Love: Many dramas are set in winter for this reason. The fact that Seoul is a very snowy city helps.
- Soap Opera Disease: A popular trope in particularly angsty dramas is a terminal illness (usually cancer or heart disease) suffered by the male Love Interest, which realistically would not let a person function out of the bed. Yet bad boy as he is, he continues to carry on for the sake of his beloved, which ironically only speeds up the progression of the disease. Eventually, he succumbs, leaving the girl all alone anyhow.
- Uptown Girl: The characteristic of Korean dramas, according to foreign observers, is a forbidden love story between a poor girl and a rich boy. And it is Truth in Television, but things are diversifying fast due changing social conceptions.