The 7 Rules of Life According to Korean Dramas*

*More specifically South Korean dramas. If there are North Korean dramas, they aren’t on “The Hulu” or as people under thirty call it, Hulu.

If you have read Earl Grey—Black you know that I love escaping from reality into a Korean drama. I leave all critical thinking behind and dive wholeheartedly into the fluff. As with any melodrama, Korean dramas tend to give viewers an exaggerated and warped sense of life and the cultural mores of their country of origin, in this case, modern day Korea and the Goryeo (918-1392) and Joseon (1392-1895) Dynasties (through period dramas). Having binge-watched more melodramas than is healthy and just for sh*ts and giggles really, I’ve compiled my findings into this completely useless list. Enjoy.

1. Everyone has a fate. There are NO coincidences. 
Happen to sit next to a boy on the monorail on your way to school and find the scent of his blood so sweet that, in the haze of your teenaged vampire bloodlust, you end up kissing his neck horrifying both him and onlookers? Fate. Turns out you saved dude’s life in a past life and he owes you one.

Orange Marmalade, KBS2TV

2. There is always a love triangle or square—ALWAYS. Because, as the aforementioned fate would have it, A and B will ultimately end up together even if they hate each other in the beginning but before they can live happily ever after, C and D (C being the childhood friend that has always had a crush on A, and D, the secret benefactor of B who was just getting up the courage to declare feelings for B when A showed up, for example) will plot and scheme to keep them apart. See number 3 for another possible wrench in the relationship.

3. Mother-in-laws/Adoptive Parents are either evil or saintly martyrs. They either self-destructively try to do what is best for their child or will sacrifice said child to satisfy their own greed. Them’s the breaks.

4. No one will stab you in the back quicker than your alleged bestie. Because in Goryeo and the Joseon Dynasty stakes is high and it’s either kill or be tortured and/or then exiled and possibly killed later.

5. Deep feelings can only be disclosed when one is drunk. All deep in your feels and not sure how to express them? Head to the nearest street food restaurant tent and load up on some soju (kinda like vodka). Chances are a love interest or frenemy will happen upon you and you can then disclose to them your heart’s deepest desires and fears. Easy peasy. (This also works well in conjunction with number 7, further convoluting the smallest of misunderstandings.)

6. Sleeping on someone’s shoulder and giving or receiving a piggyback ride are the height of intimacy.
Kissing, especially in public, is so pedestrian but allowing your crush to nod off on your shoulder or being piggybacked home because you’re too drunk (see number 5) to walk or better yet because you are injured or ill from wandering around in the rain in the dead of winter because you are so distraught over being in a crazy love quadrangle and you also don’t know/can’t remember the details of that fateful (see number 1) thing that happened to you, your parent, sibling, cousin’s poodle or whatever all those years ago, that’s just romance at its finest.

7. Misunderstandings must never be resolved quickly. 
One must only be forthright at the last, most critical, moment, weeks or even years after the fact—the longer it takes, the better. There’s really no rush to know the highly pertinent bit of information that would have prevented this entire mess in the first place. I’m pretty sure the teddy bear re-enactors** are unionized and it’s in their contract that they have the most melodramatic scenes possible to reenact or it could be the fact that you can’t have melodrama without misunderstandings and secrets but, I like the unionized teddy bears theory better.

Playful Kiss

**Bonus: If you are lucky, you will watch a Korean drama that features teddy bear reenactments of pivotal moments in the show at the end of each episode. You read that correctly. Featured mostly in teen dramas, posable teddy bears are dressed up as the characters on miniature sets, diorama style, as the ads and credits role because Korea.