Learning Korean Through Dramas

Originally posted by Kender in this Dramabeans comment thread

Re: dramas without subs, when I first started I did something similar. This was my system:

1. In the very beginning, I watched episodes with subs. Then I’d watch the episode again without subs. Since I already knew what was happening, I could focus on picking up words or grammar. (It’s helpful to keep a notebook nearby to write down things you hear.) Alternatively, if I was pressed for time or knew I wouldn’t want to watch an episode more than once, I’d read the recap on DB or Soompi and then watch the episode unsubbed.

2. After a few months of that, I stopped using subs. I’d watch an episode raw and try to understand as much as I could on my own, then hop over to Soompi and read what people there were posting about the episode (sometimes they translate whole conversations, which is nice) and ask any questions I had. Then the next day, I’d hop over here to DB to get the “expert” version. (Assuming DB was recapping it.)

3. Eventually, I took to live-capping on Soompi, which forced me to actually put some of my knowledge into practice. I got things wrong sometimes, but the others in the thread were always very helpful about correcting me, which in turn helped me figure out where I was having trouble.

All in all, this process took maybe a year and a half. I started doing it during my freshman year of college and by the time I was partly through my sophomore year I’d stopped using subs entirely. For the rest of college I did a lot of steps 2 and 3 (3 if I really loved the show, 2 if I was just watching casually) and randomly tweeting at celebs in Korean, and by the time I graduated and came to Korea I largely conversationally fluent.

So, drama-watching is an effective language-learning tool, but you have to use it as such and not just rest on your laurels and rely on subs forever. You have the right idea with getting rid of subs; now you just have to do it.


I know I decided to watch Gu Family Book because of Lee Seungki, but damn… So glad papa gumiho is back. Even if he’s evil. Gotta love the eye make-up.

One of the best sageuks I’ve seen in a while. And it totally feeds my elementary-school-level-men-with-long-hair fetish.

Heartache, heartache, and more heartache. Except I’m willing to accept it if they keep on doing it the way they have been till now. The sheer number of clichés and contrivances in this show amazes me sometimes, and I’m not denying that on paper, FTLY sounds like the most hackneyed story ever. But what amazes me even more is the fact that this show climbs right on top of these overused drama-land tropes & manages to land a knock-out punch anyway. Did I want amnesia? An incurable disease? Noble idiocy? Separation? Hell no. Yet I cannot find it in myself to complain after being hit with ALL of them in one measly episode. Because FTLY incorporated all of them without losing its humour and its heart, and moved me yet again. And just for that, I love it even more than before.

I remember Se-Ra saying in the previous episode that if she could go back in time, she would do things differently. And I also remember our frustration with Gun for keeping quiet and not voicing his feelings even when Mi-young declared that she loves him. His temporary amnesia in this episode gave BOTH these characters a golden chance to get back to that earlier stage in their relationship, to the point they both think they want so badly. And…bingo, reality check. Gun realises that there is a gaping hole in his life, one that Se-Ra is unable to fill any more, where once she was all he had wanted. This time, he goes to Mi-young out of CHOICE, not fate or duty or compulsion. And Se-Ra gives up ballet to be with Gun, only to realise that she had lost him long back. She has now lost everything precious to her, and this might just be the push needed to bring her hitherto private destructive side to the forefront. In fact I think this episode did a really good job of setting up Se-Ra for us, who I find rather self-centred, if not downright selfish. She’s angry with Gun for being happy with Mi-young, but not once does she consider his side of things. So she’s happy and smiling and caring towards him as long as the lie serves her, but the moment it causes her difficulty, she throws a fit and storms off? So while I don’t (yet) hate her for doing anything she does in this episode, I can’t help comparing her to Mi-young, and find her immensely lacking in the ‘caring for other people’ department. And that’s a good thing when you wonder why Gun and MY need and deserve each other.

Which brings me to Mi-young, who deserves an essay of her own, really. Her character, for me, is the super-glue that holds this show together. The writers and the actor deserve a lot of applause for this, because I’ve rarely come across a character like hers who is soft-spoken yet strong, meek yet dignified. Dunno what the others felt about it, but I thought she totally trumped Se-ra in the stairwell confrontation scene. All without wailing, being impolite. or raising her voice even once. Mi-young radiates sincerity, and for viewers like me who are tired of both doormats and meanies, she’s absolutely marvellous.

Does anyone else appreciate Daniel for being the ONLY one to give Gun the plain truth, straight out? Like, “That is what you said, and this is what I said. This is how things stand between us, so now you better shake that pretty head of yours and buck up, before I snatch your wife.” You go, Daniel !! :D

So yes, for me the amnesia trope was used pretty well, actually. They made it look sensible with the whole Huntington’s background, and they even remembered that we have things like cellphones and online news!!! Ha. Too bad he had to read it when he did though, because it deprived us of potential adorable scene. But overall, I think it served its primary purpose of character development – Gun consciously moving on, Mi-young being stronger than ever, and Se-ra being pushed into a corner.

All that said and done, however, I don’t think I’m re-watching this episode any time soon.

—  Boxed-In (commentary on dramabeans)

Pinocchio courts Lee Yubi and Kim Young-kwang to play reporters

We’ve got two more names in circulation for Pinocchio, the new drama about young reporters headed to SBS this fall: Lee Yubi (Gu Family Book, Nice Guy) and Kim Young-kwang (Plus Nine Boys, Good Doctor) are reportedly being wooed to join the cast, with the usual “just considering maybe” caveats. They’re up for supporting roles, while Lee Jong-seok and Park Shin-hye are still considering the leads.

Samcheonpo: “Whichever path you choose, there are always lingering thoughts of the road not taken. That’s why there are no choices without regrets, and no one right answer to life. All you can do is believe that the road you’ve chosen is the right answer, and turn it into the right answer. The right answer to life is to believe that you don’t regret your past choices and live on.”

Reply 1994

Taken from dramabeans

The PRI story Dramabeans mentioned is out! (Sorry, no fancy link. I’m on my phone.) It’s short but pretty interesting. They talk about Coffee Prince a lot, which probably smart: If any drama is going to get someone hooked, that’s the one The most memorable part of story is learning the real first names of JavaBeans and Girl Friday. It reminds me of that Seinfeld episode when they finally told it was Cosmo Kramer ;)