The Masters of Multi-Genre
One of the main appeals of K-Dramas is that the writers do a spectacular job of encompassing many different TV genres into one story, a feat that isn’t easy, especially when you’ve got horror elements mixed with humor. Despite the difficulty, a few dramas have proven to be the perfect mix of hilarious and heart wrenching.
The most recent and currently the hottest release on our list is the masterpiece that is Hwayugi, otherwise known as A Korean Odyssey. On the surface, Hwayugi appears to be a story mainly focused on the supernatural and fantasy elements, with the story surrounding Jin Seonmi (Oh Yeonseo), a girl who can see ghosts and demons. A love line also obviously develops between her and Sun Ohgong (Lee Seunggi) that is more-or-less expected, yet still with a twist on the traditional love stories. As with all stories involving the supernatural, horror elements are thrown in. The unexpected element, however, is the amount of humor that truly exists in this drama. For one, Ma Wang (Cha Seungwon’s character) may appear poised and powerful, but is actually a giant goofball starved for attention from everyone around him.
A perfect example of this total genre contrast is the introduction and integration of character Jin Buja (Lee Seyoung). Buja is first shown murdered in a ditch (talk about horrifying) with her killers attempting to bury her. She is awakened as a zombie by Sam Jang’s blood, and stumbles her way toward the source (Jin Seonmi is currently Sam Jang). Zombies of course always have a negative connotation, and it appears that Buja is approaching Seonmi with murderous intentions. Yet somehow, upon being caught by Ohgong, she finds herself in Ma Wang’s fridge and is revealed to still have a personality. The demons and Seonmi take her in, freezing her rotting body and cleaning up her tattered, wounded appearance. She goes on to be a vital part of the cast, adding humorous moments alongside Jeo Palgye (Lee Hongki). In any other circumstance of zombies in a story, surely they will not be humanized and stuck into a misfit group of demons.
Another story revolving around the supernatural is immensely popular 2016 hit Goblin, with a main female lead that can also see ghosts. Goblin features significantly less elements of horror, if any at all, in comparison to Hwayugi. Instead, the drama definitely has a more melodramatic and angsty approach in its story, with the love line between Kim Shin (Gong Yoo), an immortal goblin punished with eternal life and female lead, Ji Euntak (Kim Goeun). The fantasy element in this drama focuses on ghosts and grim reapers, and even has a particularly strong historical element as reincarnation plays a major factor in the individual character stories.
Tragic and heart-wrenching certainly describes the torturous love story between the goblin and his bride that overarches the entire story arc, yet the writers still managed to squeeze in a fair amount of comedy amongst all this angst. And thank God for it. This comedic element is most often observed between Kim Shin, the Grim Reaper (Lee Dongwook) and Yoo Deokhwa (Yook Sungjae), singular heir to the Yoo family. One of the most famous scenes involves the two non-human beings attempting to figure out how to use cell phones, including a rather hilarious bit where Deokhwa mentions going to the app store and the two stand up to gather their coats as if going out to a real store. The two often have hilarious banter between them, and even have a telepathic knife fight with kitchen utensils out of nowhere. It’s these unexpected bits of hilarity amidst horribly depressing life stories and love lines that really makes the drama shine.
Strong Woman Do Bong Soon
On the surface, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon is a light comedy with a heartwarming love story to go along with it. After all, the story revolves around a family in which all the women are naturally born with inhuman strength that is difficult to contain. Do Bongsoon (Park Boyoung) is a relatable young adult still living at home attempting to land a full-time job, lamenting about wishing she was normal and without this insane strength. She gets into a rather comical altercation with a bunch of construction gangsters (who obviously never learn from their mistakes as the series goes on), and ends up crossing paths with Ahn Minhyuk (Park Hyungsik), a young CEO in need of a bodyguard to protect him from threats he’s been receiving recently.
The story takes a particularly dark turn as it’s revealed that a criminal Kim Janghyuk (Jang Mikwan) is abducting women in the neighborhood, and scenes panning from Bongsoon’s normal day into the dark and dank basement he’s keeping these women in is absolutely horrifying. Not to mention his face is kept hidden in a Silence of the Lambs-esque mask, adding even more terrifying elements to an already terrifying concept. The story continues by jumping between the sweet love developing between Bongsoon and Minhyuk to the horrible torture chamber our antagonist is keeping these women in, nearly causing whiplash each time. However, it keeps the story engaging and fresh, and the clash of these two worlds is nothing less than totally epic. Not to mention, we totally love our strong female hero!
Legend of the Blue Sea
Legend of the Blue Sea is presented as a fantasy love story, with the main plot surrounding the entwined fate of Heo Joonjae (Lee Minho) and mermaid Shim Cheong (Jun Jihyun). Historical drama elements are added in to show their Joseon era incarnations Dam Ryeong and mermaid Sehwa, paralleling their story to the present incarnations. As with any sort of plotline involving fate, romantic elements that are sweet as well as sorrowful are expected, likely with an angle of melodrama being the main focus.
What’s so surprising about Legend of the Blue Sea is the amount of humor that’s written in the script. In fact, the first meeting scene between Joonjae and Shim Cheong is nothing short of totally hilarious, and continues to be so as the first episode goes on. There is also a surprising amount of action elements sprinkled throughout, with additional thriller points toward the ending too. These things certainly aren’t expected upon reading the synopsis of the story, and it keeps it very exciting as twists and turns follow what could be a bland and overused plot.
Descendants of the Sun
Melodrama at its finest… on the surface. Descendants of the Sun tells a story of star-crossed lovers, special forces officer Yoo Shijin (Song Joongki) who specializes in taking lives and doctor Kang Moyeon (Song Hyekyo) who specializes in saving lives. With a story that takes place in a potential warzone and with plenty of tragic events, the drama can certainly live up to its melodrama expectations.
But what would be the fun in that? First off, Descendants of the Sun is known for having one of the best bromances in a drama ever, between Shijin and his lieutenant Seo Daeyong (Jin Goo), whose constant misadventures and hilarious situations bring a level of comedy unexpected among the other dark plot points. The team of doctors have a rather ridiculous dynamic between them that adds to this, with the interaction of the characters more often than not being hysterical. The contrast in an otherwise very serious plot is fantastic, and you definitely won’t see many military dramas quite like this.