Hey! Guess what today is?? Today is…my 1-year k-anniversary! :’D Exactly 365 days ago, I was first introduced to my first Korean drama, and Korean anything. It was an event that would change how I would spend the next year of my life. Not always for the better, perhaps, but changed nevertheless.
I remember the day well. I think. My memory could be wrong, mind you. I believe it was a Tuesday. November 22, 2010. I was in the middle of NaNoWriMo, a writing contest I join every November. I was ahead with my wordcount, so I was ready for a break. It was evening when my sister, Maggie, called to me from her room. I found her staring at the laptop screen. She told me to come look and pointed at the screen. “Becky, is this a girl or a boy?” she said, pointing out a pretty gender-ambiguous Asian teenager. I peered at the character in question, hesitated, then guessed, “Girl?” Maggie immediately said, “I knew it! No one would think she’s a boy.”
She was watching the k-drama You’re Beautiful, though I didn’t know it at the time. Episode 3. The part where Minam stole Taekyung’s phone and accidentally threw it off the balcony onto a truck. I still remember. She’d been introduced to it by her friend earlier that day, and was instantly hooked. I, being still rather prejudiced, thought she was weird. Who watched shows entirely in another language they knew nothing about? (Boy, was I in for something.) I dismissed the show and retreated back to my novel, thinking nothing of it. I didn’t even mention the incident in my journal.
It must have been the next day when I encountered the show again. I was using the laptop in my room when Maggie forcefully stole it (and my jumpdrive) from my hands, because she had to watch more. I resisted, but it was futile. (What else is new?) So I resignedly watched with her for a while. It was still episode 3, but nearer the end, the part where Taekyung throws Minam’s ring into the pond and she looks everywhere for it, and later hugs him when he gives it back. Taekyung had ridiculous hair, which I am now used to thanks to Korean media, and wore a white outfit for exercising. And a towel around his neck. He was an extremely awkward hugger. Yes, I remember these things.
I watched more with her later. It was a perfect distraction from the things I probably should have been doing. And even though she had to continuously explain things to me because I’d missed so much, it was soon official—I was in love. To be more specific, I was in love with Shinwoo. The Perfect Man. Maggie had to explain to me that he knew Minam was a girl, and that Minam didn’t know he knew (because I assumed she did—so obvious!), but in that episode, where he follows her around the city and eats where she does and buys her things, I fell for him and his hopeless plight. Poor, poor Shinwoo. And Jeremy. And we didn’t like Taekyung. Not one bit.
And we continued to watch almost obsessively for the next week. Maggie kept watching things without me, which was frustrating, so I had to go back a couple times. But we only fell more in love with Shinwoo and Jeremy, and continued to feel bitterness towards Taekyung. We thought about it day and night. We talked about it whenever we weren’t watching it. It was out first taste of the fandom called k-addiction, and we were getting sucked in. Even to this day, we recall it with some magical nostalgia.
I never stopped loving k-dramas after that. They were just so perfect and addicting We went from drama to drama petty consistently, even if we didn’t watch them within such short periods, sometimes with breaks in between when we were too busy or wanted to catch up on sleep. The first three we watched—You’re Beautiful, The Invincible Lee Pyung Kang, and My Girlfriend is a Gumiho—still hold that magical feeling for us. The next, Boys over Flowers, does as well, but not so strongly. I remember them with such fondness. It was a whole new world of wonderful things, ours for the taking (er, watching).
These dramas also led us to k-pop. And we fell in love with that, too. And the language. And the culture. Even today, we get excited about the next episode of the drama we’re watching coming out. We squeal about our favourite characters. We’re not delusional fans (though we sometimes claim that we will one day marry our favourites), but we really love them. It’s a love I share with my sister, a reason to spend sleepless nights in front of the computer with her, and I’m starting to share them with my friends as well.
I’ll admit that being introduced to such a foreign thing was really weird for us at first. We were weirded out by many things at first, especially when it came to k-pop. But as we learned more about Korea and its culture and so on, we fell in love instantly. And through that, we fell in love with Asia. And then all foreign cultures. We became a thousand times more open to everything foreign. We saw many things in a new light, from people to places. It changed the way we thought. I really love that. It makes me feel awesome.
I’m honestly grateful that I had the chance to learn about k-dramas, because they’re just another thing that make my life more bearable. Yes, sometimes we’re ridiculously obsessed. But hey, at least it’s not something worse. My life has been different since this day, one year ago, but I don’t regret a second of it. Maybe I’m happier because of it. Maybe I’m more accepting and understanding of other cultures. Maybe that makes me a better person because of it. I can’t really say. But as Super Junior would say~ “K-O-R-E-A, daehanminguk, FIGHTING!” Happy k-day to me ^^ I’m off to celebrate by watching all of my first k-pop music videos and watch some You’re Beautiful and reminisce the evening away. Oh happy, happy day. What memories this brings back. 😀 Has it been a year already…?