Amazing Story telling in K-Drama (Korean drama)

Stories remain locked in our imaginations until we describe what we see so that others can share the experience.
This holds true for all storytelling across all media.
I thought I had seen the best of storytelling in British and European drama. This was until I discovered Korean drama (K-drama) on Netflix. I am swept away by its pin-point portrayal of life.
There are no high-speed car chases, no CGI images or other special effects. Each episode is all about the story! I have watched six different series covering a wide range of genres. Each is outstanding because it concentrates on the story.


It is integrated storytelling stripped right back. Layers are created by unobtrusive backstory that is not a history lesson. Add to the mix brilliant acting, excellent scripts and simple locations. Everything throws the spotlight on the story.

The characters tell the story through their interactions. They use silence, facial expression and an economy of words. Silence is frequently so loud it tells a whole story in a few seconds.

Often the camera holds a shot on a character’s face for several seconds. Many actors would crumble under that kind of scrutiny but these actors do a marvellous job of sharing the movement from conflicting emotions to resolution.  Not a word is said yet we learn what the character is experiencing. For example, in the one shot we can see a character go from exultation, to despair, to resolution, to confusion. And not a word is spoken, yet we see it all! The shot is never held too long. Just long enough to tell the story.

They also use changes in time well. We are never confused as to when the action is happening – past or present. These are differentiated using a change in lighting and filter.

For writers of stories on the page there is much we can learn from this.

Take away the visuals created by the camera and add description in its place. Storytelling is all about how well a writer describes:

  • what is happening,
  • where it is happening,
  • how it is happening
  • why and 
  • its impact.

Writers of stories have an advantage in that they also have the sense of smell and an ability to describe emotions in depth to work with.

The better it is done the better the reading experience.