Meet Totuta

If you’re like me and can’t watch a kdrama without English subtitles, you’ll rank fansubbers way up high on that totem pole called “The People Most Deserving Of Blame For My Kdrama Addiction.” Said pole also nicknamed “Kdrama Folks That I Lurve The Most Who Aren’t Actors.”

Fansubbers. What will we do without them?

Long before the emergence of major fansubbing groups like WITHS2 and Viki, one lone person was quietly translating Korean dramas for a small but growing community of international viewers. This was back in the days when downloading a drama was as familiar a concept as wearing flip-flops on our head. (The next step—joining subtitles to raws—even caused the technically-challenged among us to cry.)

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Six degrees of separation: What kind of kdrama viewer are you?

A trip to the video store got me thinking: What sets me apart from that woman near me who’s also browsing the Korean Dramas section?

Look at me. I recognize most of the titles in that section. I even know which are second or third releases because the covers are different. When approached by a sales assistant, I smile beatifically and reply, “It’s okay, I’m just looking.”

That woman near me, on the other hand, seems completely lost. It’s like she’s looking at a parade of ants; how can she tell them apart? She listens attentively as the sales assistant sings the praises of Cruel Love: “This one is very good. See, Kwon Sang-woo!” It takes every ounce of control in me not to march over and snatch the set away. “Cruel Love? You’ve got to be kidding. Don’t touch it with a ten-foot pole! Here, try H.I.T. instead. It has Ha Jung-woo.”

The cashier doesn’t know it, but the customers standing in line to pay for their Korean dramas are all different. We may look like the same species, but I assure you we are each cut from a different cloth. After more than six years of “study,” allow me to present to you the six degrees separating us from each other. See if you can recognize yourself.

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