Like Lee Byung Hun’s character at the end of Iris, DramaFever left us too suddenly. Though a hub for series and movies in several countries, Stephanie, her mother—the incomparable Debbie who gifted us with the idea for our cake ratings—and I pretty much stuck to South Korean media. We navigated the dwaeji-tokki-filled pages in pursuit of car crashes, sequin tracksuits, gorgeous rich men, silly poor girls and nonsensical breakdowns.
Without DramaFever, we’ll never know if Choi Min Ho ended up with the queen in Hwarang or if BIGBANG made an accurate parody of Beethoven Virus. Well, actually there’s plenty of ways to find out both of these things and satisfy our other K-drama cravings, but the point is, DramaFever was our chosen streaming service, and without it, we have fewer methods of accessing a slice of international pop culture.
Perhaps I’ve gotten ahead of myself: for those who don’t know, DramaFever was a streaming service for Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Latin American pop culture—primarily dramas, but also movies, reality television and concert recordings. Warner Brothers pulled the plug on service mid-October, with a message on the DramaFever website stating their shutdown resulted from a “variety of business reasons.”
Sure, you can also watch K-dramas on Viki and Kocowa, but DramaFever holds sentimental value to us. Like a lot of other non-Asian K-drama fanatics, we started our obsession with Boys Over Flowers. Having seen BIGBANG’s absurd parody, my curiosity was peeked. Hmm, will an attractive jerk get punched in the face by a naive girl and later tell her that they’re dating and she should get in his car? I headed to Netflix to find out.
I was delighted and perplexed to find that the parody barely captured the insanity of the actual show. The first few minutes include a student attempting to commit suicide while our protagonist, Geum Jan Di, tries to collect money for his laundry. In just the next episode, Gu Jun Pyo, whose bullying drove the student to the roof of the high school, has Jan Di kidnapped, taken to his mansion and given a makeover complete with a tacky dress and bad hair extensions.
Though the show’s beginning is problematic (to say the least), I was so confused by its jumbled tone and amused by its incompetence that I couldn’t help but continue watching. I found myself loving Gu Jun Pyo—yes, the man who kidnapped a girl and made a guy want to kill himself—in all his luscious curls and snobbery. But now the question was, would Stephanie like it? Would she judge me for falling totally in love with what might be the dumbest show to exist?
I think we all know the answer to this question—Stephanie couldn’t resist Gu Jun Pyo’s charms, Geum Jan Di’s facial expressions and Woo Bin just being there, and she was able to turn her mom on to the show as well.
But we needed more, and we knew just where to get it. Lee Min Ho, the beautiful man under all those dapper suits and fabulous hair, was also in Heirs, available on DramaFever. Heirs proved to be an enjoyable though less ridiculous high school drama populated with the most dreamy male students to ever be assembled. Not even Lee Min Ho could compete with the intense cheekbones, sexy timbre and sauciness of Kim Woo Bin, playing the second male lead, Choi Young Do.
After Heirs, it’s safe to say the three of use were officially hooked—especially Debbie. She has devoured more than 100 dramas in about a year’s time, and most of them she saw through DramaFever. Stephanie even got her a premium subscription.
So, while the global market for K-dramas may be changing, and we can always turn to streaming juggernauts like Netflix and Amazon Prime for our fixes, it’s still sad to say goodbye to DramaFever. It’s where we first saw a dumb guy named Jay try to snort bean powder, bawled our eyes out because Uncontrollably Fond should actually be called Uncontrollably Depressing, and spent way too much time wondering if TOP’s abs where real in Tazza 2. DramaFever, you’re gone too soon. Thanks for the memories.
Featured image: Waterworks from Lee Jong Suk in Pinocchio (credit)