24 April 2013

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Random Thoughts on ... the Pros and Cons of KDrama Viewing Methods

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on April 24, 2013
How long have you been a Kraddict, dear reader? It's been three years for me. And I remember how I devoured everything I could get my eyes on in the beginnings of my addiction. Nowadays, I have become a bit more selective. In fact, I drop things faster than hot potatoes - which makes me a very bit more selective. And you know what? I have realized this is probably just as much related to my KDrama viewing behavior as it is to the quality of shows (which, some say, has been rather poor in the last few months ...).
Below you find some thoughts on KDrama Viewing Methods as well as their pros and cons.   

Marathoning

Marathoning refers to the watching of an entire season of a TV series in a short period of time. The high art of marathoning is when you watch the whole series in one sitting. Pausing for toilet breaks and some food intake is allowed.
Pros: Marathoning is probably the best method to watch Kdrama (and any other drama you want to consume). Why? Because marathoning pulls you in. Marathoning addicts. Marathoning makes happy. And cause marathoning makes you numb to the many mistakes in the drama you watch. And you have a certain vetting process through the wisdom of the crowd: you will hear from "the community" whether a drama is good or not and which taste it might suit. Not sure which hormone is released while marathoning but it's probably endorphins. The ones you produce during exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food, love and ... orgasm.
Cons: None. Well, depending on how much sleep you need / what you need to get done the next day. 

Here's the ultimate YouTube clip that portrays marathoning exactly the way it is:
(make sure to find and watch the second part)

Watching"as-they-air"(WATA)

WATA relates to watching KDrama on the same day (or just a few days after) the episode airs in Korea. WATA comes in many subcategories (see below) and is much more multifaceted than marathoning. Sometimes, initially marathoning leads to WATA when you catch up with a currently airing drama.
Pros: You can engage with other KDrama fans on various platforms (i.e. sites like Dramabeans or Twitter or specialized Facebook pages) to discuss what you have seen. And you are as up-to-date as any Korean (at least the ones who are as dramcrazy as you are).
Cons: WATA can be very, very stressful. Especially if you WATA more than one show at the same time. Which is not unlikely, given the high number of dramas airing in any given week. And you can never be sure that the drama you are watching is good until the end - or good at all. Worst that can happen: you lose 16 or more hours of your life to a very bad script.

Here are some of the subcategories of WATA. You can go for all of them one after the after, or even combine some of them.

Live-Streaming

Live-streaming refers to real-time KDrama watching. Most KDramas air around 9pm in Korea and all major stations offer live-streaming (though I am not sure these links really work. KBSworld seems to want you to pay now). If you follow shows on Facebook or on Soompi, you might also get different links. The good thing: It's perfectly legal! The bad thing: there are no subs (unless you watch KBS World). I, personally, have never live-watched. I guess I'm not that crazy ... okay, that's not the main reason. The main reason is that I have a full-time job and then some and I can't really watch KDrama in the office. Well, I could, theoretically. But I guess my employer would not be overly pleased.
Pros: Nothing gets more real-time than this!
Cons: If you are not Korean and/or don't know a lot of Korean, the lack of subs will be an issue. 

Live Recap

This is a safe for work option if you cannot go for live-streaming and cannot wait a few hours until after work. Or you can use it in combination to live-streaming, to understand what's going on. Vingle has a vibrant live-recapping community; or you can turn to Scattered Joonni (who does a basic, but good live recap for some shows immediately, then followed up by a more mature recap as time progresses).
Pros: Will satisfy your curiosity if you really can't wait for subs (or full recaps). And apparently, people who read spoilers get much more out of what they are seeing. I didn't make that up, there's a study about it!
Cons: If you do not combine this with live-streaming, it may spoiler your viewing. Plus, not all shows are live-recapped.

Raw-Watching

Raw-watching refers to the watching of KDrama episodes without subs. Such viewing is usually done on several of the existing streaming websites out there, or after downloading the episode. Downloading is illegal in many countries (though not in mine, ha!), so don't tell people I told you to do it! Many of the streaming sites are also illegal, but many others are not (like viki or Dramafever). Sometimes, shows are only licenced to certain regions of the world. Using software (like HotSpot Shield) to get around these blocks is also illegal in many countries. Yeah, in my RL, I'm a cybersecurity expert. So I know.
Pros: You don't have to wait for subs.
Cons: Language. Spoilers. Etc. (see above)

Read Recaps

Many of the good recapping sites (like for and foremost, Dramabeans) are very fast. Often, they recap faster than subs are out (even though the subbing community has become ever faster over the years, especially with popular shows).
Pros: You will know whether a particular show is potentially interesting for you (recapping sites also can be consulted before engaging in a KDrama marathon!). And recapping sites are the meeting ground of the KDrama community. Without Dramabeans, this blog probably wouldn't exist. Or at least not in this form! Awesome people I met through DB: I love you!
Cons: It is super spoilery if you read recaps before you watch an episode. 

Watching as soon as Subs are out

This can still be considered WATA, because it takes as little as 10 hours for subs to be out for popular shows (in a few cases, even less). Subbed shows can be watched legally on Dramafever and viki (in some areas of the world). There are also sites that provide ripped subs for those who do not have access. Dramafever doesn't like these sites much. Other sites like Dramacrazy are a bit slower, but you can be sure to get your subbed episodes within a few hours.
Pros: Wonderful Korean Drama viewing experience.
Cons: None.

The Verdict

About half-way through 2012, I switched from only marathoning finished dramas to (only) WATA. The drama that did this to me was A Gentleman's Dignity. For about 10 episodes, I was truly addicted to it and couldn't wait for new episodes (that was before I started to hate it with a vengeance, but that's another story). Exchanging my thoughts on the drama with people on Dramabeans was part of this great new experience. And once you're in, you're in. You get addicted to that as well, the witty exchange with like-minded Kraddicts. And once you're in, "watch-as-they-air" becomes the default and marathoning the exception, because you simply do not have time anymore to also marathon (unless you have 8 or more hours a day to watch KDramas that is) and so many KDramas air at the same time.

But I had to realize that the wonderful new experience comes with a serious downside. If you have to wait for new episodes and if you have time to think about what you've actually seen ... KDrama has a much tougher time to please then when you can marathon and fast-forward at leisure. In fact, KDramas start to lose their magic shine pretty quickly as one after the other turns weird in the second half and messes up the ending. Or introduces amnesia. Or blindness. Or fauxcest. Or birthsecrets. Or evil mother-in-laws. Or evil second-leads. Or friend-zoned second leads. Or all of the above.

Realizing this, I've become a bit more WATA-cautious recently. I now wait a bit longer before I get into a show (so that I can start marathoning first and hit the WATA zone later - which, I guess, could be called Marawata). This way, I can also watch and read what my WATAing peers out there are saying about the currently airing dramas. What is lost, however, is the drama specific discussion on i.e. Dramabeans. But then: there's a huge community of Kdraddicts on Twitter, with whom I can talk about anything I want. Luckily, due to them, I'm not missing the fangirling on DB too much at the moment. 

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