K-Drama Fan’s Life in Lockdown
As the finale of 'It’s Okay To Not Be Okay' nears, EIC Geolette Esguerra ponders on the merits of watching shows with the K-drama community as part of your routine
It’s my 147th day in lockdown, and to date I have only been out three times—one time to Mercury Drug and the Korean grocery to get supplies, one time to a convenience store to get chips, and to the office to fix some of my things. I am lucky I don’t have to go out, but that also means some that I don’t have much to differentiate my days.
Without differentiators of people to meet, events to attend, occasions to celebrate—days flow into the other, Mondays to Fridays, as designated work days, are hardly distinguishable. Weeks pass without you knowing, days pass without markers. And weekends—well, they’re days when you can wake up after 8AM, sure, but other than the fact that you would get less work calls and emails on that day, there’s nothing much to differentiate it from regular days.
I’ve been lamenting this in the first weeks of lockdown, until, almost by accident, and also by design, we got deeper into our K-drama coverage in Metro.Style.
You see, for the past three months, the Metro editors have been developing a habit of watching shows together. This started in April 17—when we first started watching The King: Eternal Monarch together. Naturally, we have to talk about the first episode, and why everyone should watch it.
[On a side note: We were like that with Crash Landing on You, sure, but we weren’t all watching it together. It just so happened that the cultural phenomena of CLOY was so huge that we all felt the loss in February 16, when the series ended. Like me, I’m sure you had similar support groups for CLOY die-hards (hello unnies Grace, Kate, Kyla, Jam, Nona, Jana, and our boss, Chris!).]
"Are you updated? Have you seen the latest episode? Did you see that neck kiss?” These conversations came hours after each episode, creating a semblance of a routine for TKEM.
I imagine this would have been the experience of many who watch primetime television religiously, waiting for all the exciting developments in their favorite show. I’ve never had that experience because my schedule has been erratic since I’ve started working, which is why I tend to do catch-up viewing on YouTube and iWantTV instead.
But with the lockdown, scheduled viewing is back—you can finally tune in and download the episode when it's up!
And so, what started with TKEM became a habit that was even more reinforced starting June 20, during the premiere of It’s Okay To Not Be Okay. This show that we have all been waiting for—started a Saturday and Sunday night habit for our fellow editors. Soon, Justin (who also loved TKEM) and Anna, and our favorite K-Drama Roundup unnie Leah Puyat, along with Grace and Kate, formed a group that watched the series regularly.
The thing is, you don’t have to watch the series right the moment it drops. It’s ideal only because there’s always a chance that you’ll see spoilers on Twitter and Facebook, but if you have high EQ and manage to avoid these spoiler mines, then you’ll be fine.
But what makes a difference, at least on a routine point of view, is having these days as markers of time passing. That Saturdays and Sundays are different because the new episodes would drop on those days. That you are acutely aware that it has already been X weeks since you started on this series, and now that it’s finally ending, there is a clear indication that time has, indeed passed since then.
This marking of time is something you won’t get when you’re binge-watching a series—that experience, like our life in lockdown, melds days into nights, and each episode gives no context of space and time because all you want to do is reach the end. It’s a different experience, and one that can similarly be cathartic, especially when it’s a series that impacts you at the right time.
And so, in lieu of parties and events, instead of movie premieres and concerts that used to fill my days, I now enjoy marking the passage of time through the dramas I watch.
Currently, Mondays and Tuesdays are for To All The Guys Who Loved Me (available on VIU), Wednesdays and Thursdays are for Was It Love (on Netflix) and Flower of Evil (On Viu), Thursdays and Fridays are for Backstreet Rookie, while Saturdays and Sundays are for It’s Okay To Not Be Okay—to cap the week.
Before these dramas, we watched Itaewon Class, The World of the Married, Hi Bye, Mama!, Dinner Mate, Mystic Pop Up Bar—and each of these shows gave certain weeks a different context, gave more meaning to each interaction.
And, as each series ends, like Backstreet Rookie which ends tonight, or It’s Okay To Not Be Okay, which will end on Sunday, I can’t help but wax nostalgic on how much each drama is often a product of its time, and how people are changed ultimately by the shows that they watch, moreso when they watch together.
When you watch together, there is a shared experience when you analyze and theorize about what will happen in the next episodes—there is also a sense that of community and commonality that it hard to find nowadays in this fragmented environment.
Where to find these communities though? Well apart from the private groups for each of the shows, we started our own right in Metro, through our Metro K-Drama Roundup on Facebook Live, Metro K-Drama Club on Kumu, and an actual private K-Drama group on Facebook called Metro K-Drama Club.
Perhaps, in creating these small communities where we can talk about the dramas we’re watching, we can help each other cope with the loneliness of being in isolation. Perhaps the lockdown might be the best thing to happen to a K-drama fan.
Join our by invitation-only, private group, Metro K-Drama Club by visiting this link