‘What would YOU do if you fell into your favorite K-Drama?‘
For any k-drama fan, this is not only a great tagline for Dramaworld, but it’s a question that breeds hundreds of more questions.
Thanks to the powers that be, twenty-year-old Claire Duncan, an American college student, is faced with answering that very question. She encapsulates everything that you’d think a devoted k-drama fan is: passionate, a little bit obsessive (okay, maybe a lot), eager to discuss dramas, waiting on bated breath for new episodes, and much more. She’s a very ordinary girl who believes her existence is pretty mundane and unspectacular. Claire even acknowledges that she plays second fiddle in her own life, and I can’t speak for every k-drama fan out there, but I know I resonate with Claire’s plight deeply.
So, if you’re curious to see how Dramaworld measured in my eyes, carry onward!
Dramaworld begins with a “previously on” montage of Taste of Love, which happens to be Claire’s current favorite Korean drama.
The story begins with chaebol heir, Joon Park, who just so happens to run a restaurant where he’s the head chef. One night, he happens upon Seo Yeon, who is staring into the window of his restaurant. She’s looking for a job and Joon Park happily obliges with her request for employment. Through the montage, we learn that Joon Park isn’t very good at managing his business and he’s not much better when it comes to love, but this is also a man who is grieving the recent loss of his father. His father, Mr. Park, was pushed from the roof of a skyscraper and fell to his tragic death. The question is: who killed him and why?
Joon is tasked with taking over his late father’s company, Park Frozen Gourmet, but it’s clearly not the road of his choosing. In fact, it’s something that is orchestrated by his mother. During a company meeting, she announces that her son will carry on her late husband’s duties in the company, but it becomes exceedingly obvious that Joon isn’t going to be his mother’s puppet as he turns down the position and bolts from the meeting room.
There, Joon ends up at his restaurant where he sees Seo Yeon plating a dish in the kitchen. He asks her what she’s doing. When Joon tastes her sauce, he genuinely smiles, and commends her for her work.
Taste of Love Episode 12 finally begins.
After work, Joon returns home to find his mother casually reading the newspaper and waiting up for him. She starts asking him questions — about meeting a nice girl and going out for drinks — and it’s hard to say if she’s genuinely worried or has ulterior motives. She tells him that that grown men have responsibilities and wives, and this is clearly not the best thing to say, as Joon scolds her and tells her not to be in his house when he isn’t there.
As Joon’s mother scolds him again, the camera pans out and we see Claire watching the episode on her phone while she’s in the bathroom. Yep, while at work, Claire has stolen a few minutes to catch up on Taste of Love while sitting on the porcelain throne.
Still bewitched by what she’s watched, Claire can no longer hold in her feelings. Someone needs to know all about the actor who plays Joon, the k-drama kissing rule (episode 9 is the magic number, people!), and of course the rule where the first kiss means everything (true love!). But that someone is a very uninterested customer, who just wants his turkey and swiss sandwich.
But the sad reality is that no one really cares about her or her love for k-dramas. Claire’s epic rant of Taste of Love (and k-dramas in general) has created a long line of customers, and one customer in line is fed up and tells her that no one cares. When the camera pans back to Claire, it’s obvious you can see the pain on her face because no one gets it.
Later, at the shop, Claire continues to watch Taste of Love from her phone. Her dad enters and scolds her for her earlier behavior and takes her phone away. He lectures her about living in the real world instead of staring at her phone all day, but a petulant Claire exclaims that he just doesn’t understand. For her, her world is in her phone. She goes on about life being exciting in her k-drama world and that there are happy endings. It is her escape from her own reality, and as much as I understand it, her dad makes a few valid points.
Unfortunately, in an effort to prove his point, Claire’s dad accidentally knocks her phone over and the screen smashes. Obviously upset and done with the conversation, Claire rushes out the door with the excuse that she has class.
She returns to work for the closing shift and sees a post it note on the counter from her dad.
But it’s a slow night and with no customers, it feels like it’s only a matter of time before Claire succumbs to her own boredom. And, just like that, her phone beeps, indicating that episode 13 of Taste of Love is available on Viki. Still reeling over the events of the previous episode, Claire easily disregards her dad’s orders and starts to watch the latest episode.
Back in Taste of Love, sous chef Seo Yeon watched dejectedly from the kitchen as Joon’s having an intimate moment with another woman in the restaurant. Ugh, poor Seo Yeon as she has to watch love shots and near kisses from afar.
Get out there and do something, Seo Yeon! You can do it!
Claire, echoing my sentiments as well, is watching the events unfold in horror as she’s mopping the floor. She’s oblivious to the burglar who runs in and steals money from the cash register.
As he’s fumbling around awkwardly, he knocks over the mop bucket and water goes everywhere. Still oblivious to the whole series of events going on behind her, Claire is getting heated over Joon about to kiss the wrong girl, and suddenly she’s determined to right those wrongs. She exclaims that she has to do something and she whips around and goes flying on the puddle behind her.
Just as she’s about to hit the ground, she vanishes into thin air. (Something like a portal, I imagine?)
The robber, shocked by what he’s witnessed, runs out of the sandwich shop. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think he’ll be hitting that place up for money anytime soon.
As he exits the building, Claire’s phone mysteriously vanishes.
We shift back to Taste of Love where, much to Claire’s confusion and delight, she deflects the very kiss she was protesting by using her own face. Joon and the woman both end up kissing each of her cheeks instead of each other. As they pull away, no one is shocked more than Claire as she tries to comprehend the bizarre situation she’s found herself in. But before anything more can happen, Claire faints and falls to the floor.
And… that’s wrap.
Lingering Thoughts & Questions:
I’m enjoying this series immensely, so I thought I’d add a little section for my own thoughts and questions.
One. I’m curious about the “magic” that brought Claire into Dramaworld. I understand that her screen was cracked, but I’m hoping we learn more about how that actually worked. Was it some kind of portal that was activated by her screen being cracked and paused on Taste of Love?
And I’m not even going to toss around the idea that this is all a dream because that would be the worst thing I could ever imagine. Claire better not be in a hospital somewhere unconscious or in a coma. Please don’t go there, drama.
Two. K-dramas are awesome in their own right and while they’re fun to fangirl over, I’m curious how Claire became so obsessed. It seems that it’s just her and her dad, so did she lose her mom? Did her mom leave them? I feel like some kind of traumatic event occurred because Claire is wanting to escape reality at any chance she gets. I know I too like to escape reality through k-dramas, but Claire seems to be on another level entirely.
Three. Now that she’s in Taste of Love, what’s going to happen? How is her presence going to affect this world? And most of all, how is Claire going to adapt? She’s probably going to be like a kid in a candy store, but I doubt it’s going to be easy.
Four. How will the short length of episodes work? I’m the kind that love long episodes. I could watch a two-hour episode of a drama and never be bored or flinch. I love more. As for Dramaworld, it seems like the episodes will continue to be short, so I’m curious to see how the plot will unfold and if I’ll be able to really care about these characters by the time episode 10 is over.