Earlier I slogged through a Top 5 deducing the best dramas that could be remade for American audiences. It kind of sucked. Perhaps the trouble was I don’t think these hypothetical shows would turn out half-way decent. Part of dramas appeal is telling a long form story with a set ending, so taking a 16 hour story and turning it into x amount of episodes in the American network system seems depressing in some way. From the reverse perspective, it proves more interesting. Not only could you make the plot more concise, but looking at a similar premise through the lens of a culture dissimilar from your own can put a fresh perspective on a show.
Part of my inspiration for this list came from the possible Homeland remake for Korean television, which means anything ispossible as far as adaptations go. In this day and age where original ideas are becoming an endangered species, might as well go with the adaptive flow and help out Korean producers looking for the next hit drama!
So that is the basis for this list. With the shows given I am least acutely aware of the premise, and included show’s trailers to give y’all a better idea of the show. To make things more interesting, I included some Korean casting choices I would make for the Korean adaptations. Now, onward and listwards as here is number 5!
5. Alt Zombie Fare – Resurrection(US), The Returned (FRA), In the Flesh (UK)
In the wake of The Walking Dead success, several more interesting series have cropped up. These shows focus less on horror and more on the human condition, none moreso than The Returned (Les Revenants). This ensemble show set in small-town France, features the “undead” who feast more on cereal than cerebellum’s, thus becomes more about reestablishing connections with those left behind. So basically, it’s an existentialist art house show mixed with genre elements. How French!
The French cast is marvelous, so the Korean version would have to be equally wonderful. Which is why I could think of no other duo to portray twins separated by death than the Ron sisters. The elder would give off teen angst, while the younger would be aimless, mysterious, and yes, slightly dead.
As for Simon, the troubled young man who comes to life looking for his now much older finance, I feel a moody Kim Soo Hyun would fit the bill (he’s already well versed in noona romances after all). Also, if the writer of White Christmas could get on board for this, me thinks it would be a tonally perfect match.
One thing that K-Dramas rarely do is have a true ensemble show, which I feel this is. So though this would be taking a right turn from normal drama fare, I feel zombies could be the next vampires, which dramaland embraced even with all its sex, blood, and rock n roll. This seems like a natural progression.
Found on: Netflix
4. Skins (UK)
Note: I swear the show isn’t as Porny as that trailer shot looks!
As you can see, this adaptation would have to be turned down around 18 notches for Korean cable, but I still think this is a viable property to be adapted*. Another ensemble show with each episode feat. a different character, yet all are interconnected with each others lives. It’s a simple but brilliant structure for telling several stories and threading them together.
If you haven’t heard of the show, perhaps you recognize some of the cast, who’ve gone on to be in such projects such as Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Slumdog Millionaire, X-Men, Snowpiercer, Black Mirror, and portraying the bride to Kim Soo Hyun’s sexy groom via un photo shoot magnifique.
For casting Skins: Korea the only requirement would be making sure the cast are actually playing their high school ages. Because I am lazy/ know few Korean teen actors, I basically just picked the first ones I found.
Even with it’s dark subject material, several Korean dramas have already reminded me of Skins (Answer Me and Shut Up FBB, to a lesser extent White Christmas), So using this format could be another way of telling stories found in HS dramas.
*Skins was actually adapted into a much maligned US version. Which brings up the age-old question: To adapt or not to adapt. The US and British have been copying each others works for years, much in the way Taiwan, Japan, and Korea have. I feel the two ways an adaptation can work are for the specific culture to be dissimilar enough that it becomes its own thing (Ex. The Bridge deals with US-MEX relations but is based off a Scandinavian show focusing on the Danish/Swedish border). The other way would be to change up the characters, tone, and plot that makes the adaptation worth it. (Perhaps this will be K-Fated to Love You. Finger’s crossed!)
3. The Good Wife/Scandal (US)
Both of these shows feature a headstrong career women at its center, who must face moral and ethical dilemmas whilst also dealing with family, politics, and love interests. This would be so amazing as a K-Drama! Female leads are usually not ones to be successful in the career department, so it would already be breaking new ground. In addition, having the lead be someone who is not the pure, plucky idealist, and works within shades of grey, would be fascinating to watch. Which is probably why the only name that came to mind to play an Olivia Pope or Alicia Florrick type would be SLA star Kim Hee-Ae. To round out the TGW cast, KSJ could play her husband, the scandalous politician turned inmate Peter, while CSW would be her sexy boss and potential love interest Will.
Where to Watch: Scandal – Netlix, The Good Wife- hulu
2. Spy Shows – Chuck, The Americans (US)
This continues to boggle the mind. American film and television will find any excuse to put spies into it’s fictional content. Which is why we will utilize any format to make it work. Thus you have shows featuring double agents from USA’s war of the moment (Homeland), film a period piece set in the 80’s all so the spy next door can secretly be KGB Russians (The Americans), or just go on random missions because the main character has all the government secrets downloaded into his noggin (Chuck).
South Koreans on the other hand, have more fertile ground for such stories considering that scenario of neighboring North Korea and a war that is still technically going on. Which may be why their hasn’t been as many North-South spy stories as one would think. Everything is still so real, present, and close to home. But that won’t stop me from suggesting my favorite spyish shows becoming adapted for a Korean format.
I’ll begin with The Americans, a show that’s more about the spousal relationship and family, where I consider the spy stuff a metaphor for the institution of marriage. So it wouldn’t have to go full blown North-South relations, instead focusing on a typical South Korean family whose parents just happen to be North Korean spies. Everyday stuff right?
For this couple I’m imagining So Ji Sub because obviously. But also he can totally pull off this sensitive masculine look that his “American” counter part had. Han Chae-Ah (Gaksital), would be in the Kerri Russell role, with a flipped script in that she is the colder, more emotionless one of the pair, who often struggles acclimating to her capitalistic environment.
If anyone wonders what American show most reminds me of K-Dramas, I would say Chuck every single time. Though not reminiscent of any specific drama, Chuck retains many many elements found most often in Korean shows (rom-coms especially). I would describe the show as an action based romantic comedy, with two leads who you know will end up together (eventually), but will have to go through many love triangles, jealousy, arbitrary obstacles, and of course birth secrets along the way. Also, they do a fine job of mixing high and low comedy, drama, action, and romance in a way I have only seen in Korean dramas.
For the Korean version I am so tempted to make it a total King 2 Hearts reunion, where either Ha Ji Won or Lee Yoon Ji would play the super-spy assigned to protect the titular nerdy underachiever. For Chuck, I am feeling either Yoon Shi Yoon, or roll with that K2H feeling and have Jo Jung Suk go full on geek god. This would seriously be a chucking awesome adaptation, so make it happen universe!
Where 2 Watch: Chuck – Netflix, The Americans – Amazon Prime, Homeland – Illegal methods?
1. Veronica Mars (US)
For those uninitiated, don’t judge the show on this awful promo, which gives off a distinctly CSI: the teen years vibe as narrated by a morning shock jock. Instead, picture the promo’s premise (outcasted teenage girl gone detective to solve her friend’s murder), along with biting humor, the best father daughter relationship this side of the hemisphere, and a delicious love triangle.
This show may be my favorite single season of television (excluding dramas), due to its exemplary combination of serial and episodic elements, relationships from familial to romantic, and it’s deep bench of memorable characters. Reasons for why this would be a premium show for a drama adaptation stem from the structure. Each season told a complete story, so a drama could base it’s series on just season one. Also, it focuses on several common K-Drama beats: high school setting, rich vs. poor, family (complete with loads of family secrets), and love interests.
What would be so exciting as far as a dramaland adaptation is concerned, is having the sole lead not only be a female who fits not into the candy/idealistic drama-lady norm, but have one who can take care of herself, has her own moral code (which may not always be peaches and rainbows, but its what she stands by), is basically a genius (geniuses have been sweeping dramaland recently, but ye females need not apply), yet does show instances of vulnerability that makes her relatable and just adds to her awesomeness.
Now as for casting, Jung Eun Ji was the first name I thought of, as you’d need an actress who can pull of snark and repartee with some bite, but not come off as a total bitch. I was tempted to go all out on AM97 so Sung Dong Il could play P.I. papa mars, but I’ll refrain. Instead, me thinks Ryu Seung Ryong (Personal Taste, Miracle in cell 7) would be excellent for what might be considered the most important relationship on the show. (though the fan girly obsessive in me surely thinks that award belongs to…)
Logan Echolls is a great part. One that requires being a bad boy and even bully, while slowly showing different sides to who Logan actually is during the course of the season. Also brooding. So. Much. Brooding. I choose Kim Woo Bin because KWB can handle brooding and darkness, but has also shown to be quite mysterious and sensitive in roles past. Plus, um how can I put this eloquently.. boy is one hot piece o’ man. Nailed it.
The other reason why this show could be show much fun would be the guest cast. For instance, a big name star could show up in the first couple episodes as Lily Cane (aka Veronica’s BFF who is RIP). I suggested Yoon Eun Hye, but options are plentiful. The rest of the show could go the way of Master’s Sun by having actors and actresses come in for an episode or two for the “case of the week” aspects. Yay cameos!
Given the right casting of Veronica and Logan I would watch an adaptation in any language, but seems like the type of show where if done right, it would especially fit into the K-Drama wheelhouse. Crime, melodrama, comedy (albeit it biting and dark), romance, the show’s got it. All I can hope is right now, a Korean TV producer is obsessively looking up all things Frozen and Kristen Bell (who played Anna in said film) and somehow stumbles across a
torrent 1st season DVD set. Coming to TvN in 2015? Yes please!
Honorable Mention: Gossip Girl, Downton Abbey, Truman Show
Gossip Girl: Hey there Upper East Siders. It’s GG. and I’m here to say why my show only get’s an HM. Word on the Seoul street is, Heirs is considered the Korean Gossip Girl, though I’ll be the the judge of that…
Spotted: rich bitches and Lee Min Ho’s doing horrible things in designer clothes. All performed within the confines of a show that becomes increasingly pointless. Sounds like we have a dead ringer for my brand, and don’t try to complain young ones, because you know you love me. XOXO, Gossip Girl.
Truman Show: Yes this is a movie, but how awesome would the show be? 20 hours of one man who slowly discovers his entire life is a reality filled lie. Where cameras capture his every moment, his OTP fighting the oppressive forces in charge of his brand (aka producers), and the special time where he doesn’t know if he’s just losing his mind, or everyone else is. This remake would be made in the age of reality and variety programming (whereas the film predated the genre), so hindsight could speak to today’s digital world, celebrity culture, and sensationalistic journalism.
Random, but this was partially inspired by this story of a crazy Japanese reality show, Whose creators committed acts of starvation, psychological manipulation, forced nudity, and cutsey sound effects, all for the sake of entertainment. And I thought Joe Millionaire was bad.
Downtown Abbey: So I’m not sure how this would work time period wise, but it has been shown dramaland is obsessed with high-low class interaction and what your elders think. So why not go all Korean with it, with your charismatic grandmothers, taboo relationships, Turkish foreigners dying in bed, and fixating on the next male heir. Sign me up!
What other shows do you think are itching to become dramas?