Ten Laws of the Kdramaverse: A Survival Guide for Heroines

[Don’t ask me where this post came from. I think my brain has rotted from watching too many dramas.]

So you’re on your way to work one day, rushing to the bus stop because you’re late, and something nags at the corner of your mind. It has to do with your slightly dowdy short haircut, you think as you cross the street, your sudden burst of goodwill and patience toward others. Then there’s the recent string of bad luck you’ve had: man trouble, financial trouble, family trouble—

OMO! That fancy car just missed hitting you and suddenly your nose is inches from the pavement. You get up, fuming. Okay, what kind of jerk—

The kind of jerk who is now striding across the asphalt toward you, dressed in clothes so expensive you wouldn’t know where to buy them, with sunlight glinting off his sunglasses, his watch, his shoes. His hair is perfectly styled, his face perfectly chiseled by the hand of God (or perhaps a plastic surgeon). He stops in front of you. The only thing more deafening than your heartbeat is the intensity of the epithets he starts to heap on your head.

That’s when it hits you: you’ve landed yourself in the shoes of a kdrama heroine, and the only way home is a Happy Ending.

DON’T PANIC. (Don’t get too excited either.)

In the new branded handbag draped over your arm (didn’t notice that yet, didja?) is a handy survival guide for kdrama heroines, left for you by the kdrama fairy godmother. Yes, she is the one responsible for the over-representation of Cinderella stories in kdramaland. The Powers That Be put up with it because they need her services too much to argue.

Ten Laws of the Kdramaverse

(Yes, only ten. You figure out the rest. Also, your fairy godmother takes no responsibility for variations on the kdramaverse in your particular case. Use your plucky and indomitable spirit to deal with them. And your brains, if you get to keep any.)

  1. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is a sign that you’re fated. You are so fated that the universe itself is forcing you to kiss. So think carefully the next time you’re about to do CPR. Unless you want to marry the guy lying unconscious in front of you, don’t save his life.

  3. Your true love will most likely misunderstand you, yell at you, abandon you by the side of the road (probably on the way to meet his beautiful ex-girlfriend), try to kick you out of the house, and/or tell you you’re ugly. Don’t worry though, these are all signs that he’s losing his heart to you – he just doesn’t know it yet.
  4. On the other hand, a total prince is going to show up in your life soon. He will be gorgeous, kind, and will see your worth when no one else does. You’ll become friends. He’s going to do incredible sweet things for you, but sadly you’ll never know about half of them. He’s going to break your heart at some point, not because he doesn’t love you, but because he does – because against all appearances, he’s not the one for you. You probably won’t take this advice, but don’t get too close to him. You’re only going to feel very guilty later. Instead, share the wealth and set him up on a blind date with your single best friend.

  6. Although you are a poor worker who lives in a tiny apartment, you will inexplicably find your closet full of the latest brand-name clothes and accessories. Don’t question how they got there and just accept them – they’re a gift from the Powers That Be. Think of them as extra help on your quest, like finding bonuses in a video game.
  7. Do wrist exercises for ten minutes before bed each night. This will strengthen the tendons and muscles, which is necessary because your wrists are going to endure a lot of grabbing, pulling and squeezing in the near future. Also stock up on vitamins.

  9. Keep a face towel handy in your bag once you start dating your non-prince. You might get a face full of ice water from your future mother-in-law any day now. Look on the bright side – it’s good for your skin. Just make sure to moisturize afterwards.
  10. You’re also going to have to face another enemy once you become Official: the jealous ex-girlfriend. Be prepared for cruel and often incomprehensible behaviour, often with a bafflingly entitled attitude that would imply she was the girlfriend and not you. Don’t believe anything she says, and pray every night that she leaves to study abroad. Also, don’t stand for any wishy-washy stuff from your guy just because the ex guilt-trips him. Stand firm, but if he proves trustworthy, trust him.

  12. This one is technically against the rules, but this fairy godmother is tired of heroines standing like dead fish when their hard-won hero is finally kissing the daylights out of them. Kiss him back! Fortunately the newer girls have been taking my advice. Heh. The Powers That Be still don’t know who is giving them these subversive ideas, so keep this between us, okay?

  14. You’re going to face a large conflict, probably a result of the vast difference between his status and yours. There will be separation, and tears. Drink lots of water and send each other mushy text messages every night. If he disappears and cuts off contact for an extended period, focus on your work and plan a different revenge, one for each month he’s gone.

  16. Enjoy your Happy Ending! And try not to mind too much if you end up there there because of a strange turn of events, or a series of unbelievable coincidences, or if your love story became a thriller, a horror story or a family drama there for a while. This is the kdramaverse, after all. The magic is inexplicable.

And also… the spell is over, Cinderella. Don’t cry too much, and try to think of it as a beautiful dream.

Oh, and you can keep the bags and shoes.

94 thoughts on “Ten Laws of the Kdramaverse: A Survival Guide for Heroines

  1. Hi LAica, It’s fun to read your post…. Could you do this more often if u don’t mind … Really, It made my day… I laugh so hard on the last point…. “if your love story became a thriller, a horror story or …..”
    Do you mean Heroines in makjang drama? LOL

    • Thanks, it was written in a fit of silliness, so if I have another, I’ll definitely oblige. 🙂

      Heroines in makjang are one thing, it’s when it suddenly happens in a rom-com that it gives me whiplash.

  2. Hilarious post Laica 🙂 Wow you must have watched a lot of dramas to have so much info in your head. I kept thinking of all the ones I watched that had those things happen to the Kdrama heroine and it’s pretty much all of them. Especially right now with Ja Eun and her magic white suitcase that now has tons of winter coats and boots coming out of there…even though it’s far fetched, I still fall for everything that happens to the heroine hook line and sinker – probably why we keep coming back for more. 🙂

    • Thanks 🙂 Haha, I’m afraid to count how many dramas I’ve watched, but if you ask my mom – way too many.

      Haha I agree! Even though I mock the magic white suitcase, I freely admit that I don’t mind the endless pretty clothes poor heroines have. One of the reason I watch kdramas is fashion – for the Pretty in general – and I’m willing to sacrifice some realism for that, especially if other aspect are done well (as they are in OB). SO excited for today’s episode, btw! EEEEE!

  3. After your line, “…and the only way home is a Happy Ending.”, you showed the wedding between Taebeom and Sooyoung in Ojakgyo Brothers – happy endings don’t always come after the wedding: there could be a husband that cannot stand you, parents that want to break up your marriage, and an ex-girlfriend that pops out of nowhere.

    “Jun-se is the oppa to beat, in my opinion. …Even when all her friends tell her what a great guy Second Lead is, our k-drama heroine will never listen. Sigh.” I remember that one. I couldn’t get it – Junse was easy on the eye, kind, decent, and ethical. And the herioine goes for a frog-eyed guy with a bird’s nest on his head. What was she thinking??!!! Of course – that the other guy was way richer than Junse, that’s all I could see. But of course the heroine stoutly denied it – Ahneyo!

    It was the same in My Princess – ditch the smart professor with a sense of humor for a stiff and snotty guy. Why? Because he was way richer? Bleah.

    Great post – keep them coming.

    • Yup, for Tae-bum and Su-young, the wedding was closer to the beginning for them. As it is for the many Full House redux dramas that litter the kdrama landscape. 🙂

      Usually the chemistry between the leads is compelling enough, and the turnaround of the main guy’s attitude convincing enough, that I don’t ship the second lead (if they aren’t I usually just drop the drama), but in Brilliant Legacy my heart really broke for Jun-se. Because she even admitted that she had feeling for him, told him that if the situation was different she would have pursued him – told him to wait for her. It was basically timing and circumstances that screwed them over. In real life, I would have gone for Jun-se hands down. But I wasn’t unhappy with the way the drama ended otherwise. The OTP had a lovely journey and I was totally won over by Hwan in the end.

  4. Lol. I had a fun read! Thanks! I especially love number 5: “Do wrist exercises for ten minutes before bed each night. This will strengthen the tendons and muscles, which is necessary because your wrists are going to endure a lot of grabbing, pulling and squeezing in the near future.” LOL. I wonder how much those actresses suffer if they have to re-do the scenes offer and offer again… I can imagine how the director shout to the actor: “You have to pull her harder! Tougher!” and the actress just left out a big sigh. xD

    And this is not really happen a lot in Kdramaverse, but if you’re a heroine in Jdramaverse, you have to prepare to face a really bad bad bad luck, all happen in the happiest moment of your romance life. If it’s not you who have a disease or an accident, your hubby is.

  5. Omo! Laughing and laughing and laughing.

    Those plucky k-drama heroines (PH) really have it all: usually not as pretty as the rich girl (RG) they are pitted against, the RG has obvious make-up, our PH’s look great with their natural, unadorned faces and bad haircuts. Regardless of the insults, they remain upbeat and cheery, fully confident they deserve the criticism and insults, but will endure and overcome.

    Everyone sleeps in their designer clothes that never wrinkle. Said clothes are never seen bulging out of THE modest wardrobe and always fit into one small suitcase. But the best thing about them: they never are washed. They are truly magical. I want them. All of them. From every series.

    PH remain calm and respectful when potential m-in-laws insult, threaten, and attempt to bribe them with envelopes stuffed with money. They calmly wipe the tossed water from their faces, and bid their future m-i-l good health and happiness. And they always cheerfully respond to a telephone summons from the in-law to endure yet another round.

    Kdrama heroines can take and give a k-slap! The Powers That Be imbue them with strong constitutions and sunny dispositions, but they trip, fall and twist an ankle, break the heel on their shoe, get their finger pricked by broken glass, a fever requiring intervention, or drink way too much. They eventually become incapacitated and need a piggyback home. Of course, even in a short skirt or those short-shorts, they are always the picture of modesty when drunk or injured and piggybacked. We never see magic K-drama underwear.

    But the best thing about PH is they way they look in their wedding dress in the closing minutes of the final episode wearing that “I ALWAYS KNEW IT WOULD END THIS WAY” smile.

  6. This is awesome. I bust out laughing at #5. I didn’t know where you were going with the wrist exercise until WRIST GRAB. Of course! *face palm* Can’t believe I forgot about wrist grabbing when it seems every drama I’ve ever seen has at least one scene in where the girl’s wrist gets grabbed. You’re such a talented writer. Thanks for the laugh.

  7. Sorry for the late comment but I got to say this, you are so SPOT ON and this post made me laugh a lot.

    Must agree the Junse oppa is the best oppa ever, no one can replace him atm, maybe Lee Sang Woo in ATDP is also the best oppa but in a different kind of way so the crown still rests on BSB.

    Oh and on no. 8… hehe the kissing part… at least so far many kdrama heroines have started heading your advice, look at FBRS, wish more would follow suit.

    Thanks so much for this really witty and funny post.

  8. Hahahahaha, I couldn’t help but think about how hilarious and how true these 10 laws are.
    This just completely put a smile on my face =D

  9. Great post! ❤ I love it. If I had read this post 2 months ago, I could think of every possible drama I've watched and enjoyed. But now, the only one kept appearing in my mind when I read the list is QIHM, because it broke all the laws of Kdramaverse (maybe someone will argue a little bit about 10th rule, but not me). Love QIHM to bit! ❤

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