The fictional realm of Dramaworld very consciously parades out every K-drama cliche: It weaves in trademark tropes such as the immaculate, not-lived-in homes, ferocious kimchi slaps, excessive product placement, overbearing mothers-in-law and, of course, the male lead who, though an heir to vast wealth, forges his own path as a restaurateur.
The lead character is Park Joon, played by British-Korean actor Sean Dulake. There are two women fighting for this ideal man’s affections: Gold-digging restaurant manager Ga-in (Kim Sa-hee) and humble sous chef Seo-yeon (Bae Noo-ri), who falls in love with him.
The story takes place in Taste Of Love, the drama-within-a-drama in Dramaworld. College student and hardcore K-drama fan Claire Duncan, played by Australian actress Liv Hewson, becomes magically transported into this drama universe, which she navigates with Seth Ko.
Played by Korean-American actor Justin Chon, Ko is the “facilitator” who nudges the plot onto the “right” path so that everything remains picture-perfect.
According to Ko’s explanation of the rules of the drama world, the first kiss is the defining symbol of true love; the male lead must be a gentleman deeply considerate of women; a shower scene featuring said male lead is essential; and the more obstacles there are to a couple’s relationship, the truer the love becomes.
“In a Korean drama, that first kiss is everything,” Claire explains to her father, who cannot relate to his daughter’s obsession with Korean shows. They’re different from American dramas where a kiss means nothing, she elaborates.
On Viki, the US-based global drama-streaming site that helmed the creation of Dramaworld, the show can be viewed with subtitles in 39 languages. Since the subtitles are created by viewers, the fact that the show has been translated into so many languages attests to its popularity, said a representative from Viki.
On Internet forums, fans say cameos by Korean A-listers, including actress Han Ji-min and singer-turned-actor Choi Si-won also add to the show’s appeal. Some say they relate to how Claire is more enthralled by the world of K-drama than real life.
Fueled by positive responses, plans for the show’s second season are in discussion, the representative said.
Viki’s CEO Tammy Nam has referred to the project as “a love letter to drama fans everywhere” and an unprecedented mash-up that pushes the boundaries of international co-production and distribution.
Dramaworld, which features both English and Korean dialogue, began streaming internationally on Viki in April. The show was created by Viki in partnership with US-Korean production company EnterMedia Content and China’s Jetavana Entertainment and Third Culture Content.
Each episode lasts between 11 and 18 minutes. All 10 episodes are available on Netflix Malaysia. – The Korea Herald/Asia News Network/Rumy Doo