Dating isn’t what it used to be. I don’t think “dating” is even a thing anymore! There’s something like “hanging out,” “in talks,” “seeing each other,” “open relationship” . . . . the list of names for people getting physical together without actually investing in one another emotionally or faithfully can go on. But not in Korean dramas! My sister is totally into anime and started watching Korean dramas years ago, then got me watching a few with her (Hello, Coffee Prince!). I enjoy binge watching a good show now and again and found myself hooked. If you’ve never seen a K Drama (as it’s sometimes called), then this list is for you just as much as the teen in your life. Despite the fact that people can move and somehow fit everything they owned from their massive house in a single tiny suitcase on these shows, there’s a bit to be learned from Korean dramas and I’m covering just a few here.
1. Love Triangles Don’t Last
Though I’d start this off with a bit of spice to grab your attention. These dramas almost always include a love triangle of some sort where two guys fall for the same aloof girl or vice versa. The person of interest goes about their day in love with X while Y pines for her, then she realizes Y’s interested and gives Y a chance. But wait! X is also interested in her so X and Y start to oppose one another until she discovers who is truly the right one for her. Another variation is that she’s with X (who is just awful but she doesn’t know it yet) and Y is pining for her. No matter the scenario, she (or he!) never ends up with both and has to choose X or Y and where her life will go from there. Examples: Flower Boy Ramen Shop, To The Beautiful You
Take Away: You may not know it yet, but there’s someone better out there for you, don’t settle for X because there may be a Y waiting for the right opportunity to tell you how they’ve always felt. Also, you need to choose, you can’t end up with both X and Y (OK, you could, but these dramas don’t recommend it, and neither do I).
2. The Kissing Comes Later
In most Korean dramas it takes something like 26 episodes to finally see the main characters kiss. In fact, I think in some they’ve only hugged or held hands! There’s so much build up to being together, holding hands and kissing that it makes old farts like me reminisce about the feeling of having a first crush or first love, and how amazing that is. These shows let the connection between characters build, and with that the gooey feelings.
Take Away: Don’t miss out on that feeling by rushing into encounters. Slow down a bit, watch some episodes and see what I mean — Get that giddy butterfly first crush feeling with the main characters and then experience it for yourself without pressure to do anything more than literally hang out. Go do things like mountain climbing, chatting, surfing and such together first. Pursue your life goals, and don’t let the other in your life derail those plans because there’s no getting your time back. You’re still young, pursue your dreams and allow others in your life who support, encourage or inspire you (and who you can support, too).
3. Supportive Friends Are Crucial
Whether it’s one of the people in the love triangle or a supporting character there’s always a supportive friend who roots the main character on as she sets out on her quest for whatever it is she’s working on (finding love, getting a job . . .) and then on her dates as she happens upon these relationships. This person gives advice, listens and always has her best interest at heart.
Take Away: Be sure to surround yourself with supportive friends who stick with you through any Y or X that may enter your life. Having someone to talk to outside a relationship is key. This way you can get your vent out and then get back to being a bit more logical about whatever situation before you address X or Y (and avoid blow ups).
4. Parent Say Matters
In Korean Dramas, elders are revered and respected, end of story. If your mom forced you on a blind date or told you that you can’t date Y and have to court with X you have to listen to her. The parents are often super nosy, meddle, and are the source of a lot of the misfortune of the kids (gambling debt and so forth).
This is a tough one. I was the baby in my family who basically knew the house rules but bent them my way growing up. I had a job by 14, three by 16, and I’d go to college age parties because I worked at a sporting goods store with mostly college-aged people. My mom had to have a lot of trust in me. I don’t know if I could do that. I was mostly good, but still, now that I’m a parent I almost understand the nosy, overbearing parent’s point of view (while also remembering my own will as a teen to just do my own thing). Overall, I think that there should be a middle ground, a fine balance here. Parents shouldn’t be dictators, but teens should listen, not shut out.
Take Away: Are your parents extreme? You’re not alone. Parents aren’t extreme? Well, they could be, and meddlesome, so appreciate them! Either way, be sure to value your parents and understand their take on situations. Your independence is important, but not when it means potentially getting yourself hurt.
What takeaways do you think teens could learn? Do you have a favorite Korean drama?