From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."

Before there was K-drama…


Before K-dramas (Korean dramas) became popular in the Philippines, Mexican telenovelas reigned supreme. I remember being glued to the idiot box with the rest of my family when it was time for “Marimar“, sometimes not minding dinner at all. Even my uncles got so hooked into watching Mexican telenovelas that all they could talk about was the beautiful Thalia, the queen of Mexicanovelas in the Philippines.

We had barely gotten over the Mexinovela wave when Chinese/Taiwanese soap operas were introduced to Filipino televiewers. It wasn’t as if we had not seen Chinese soaps before. Chinese action dramas have been appearing on different TV networks in my country since I was a little girl, maybe before I was even born, but not many Filipinos watched them. You know those Chinese dramas where the actors, garbed in traditional costumes, do kungfu and fly a lot during the fighting scenes? I guess they didn’t strike our fancy, because their stories are far from reality. Besides, they weren’t dubbed in Filipino. There were subtitles, though, but who likes to read subtitles when you are watching soap operas?

In 2002, IBC 13 aired the very first dubbed Asianovela (Asian-produced telenovela), “Amazing Twins”. The setting is also Ancient China, but the characters are more realistic than those from old Chinese soap operas. I watched it, because there is more love story in it than action. ^^ It wasn’t as famous as “Marimar” or other Mexicanovelas that Filipinos got addicted to, but it was appreciated by some Filipino viewers.

1In 2003, the phenomenal Taiwanese series “Meteor Garden”, which is based on the Japanese shojo manga “Hana Yori Dango”, debutted on ABS-CBN. Who would forget “Meteor Garden”? It was such a big thing in the Philippines that other TV networks in the country began airing dubbed chinovelas (Chinese telenovelas), most of which were Taiwanese-produced romantic-comedy series. Still, no other Chinovelas could match the fame of “Meteor Garden”. Filipinos, young and old, knew about Shan Cai and the F4 . You could hear “Meteor Garden’s” intro playing on the radio almost everywhere you go and people singing “Oh baby, baby, my baby, baby…”

CD’s and casette tapes of “Meteor Garden’s” soundtrack and songs recorded by the F4 band sold like hotcakes. Many Filipino fans were trying to master the art of singing Taiwanese songs sung by the F4, though they barely understood the lyrics. I was a “Meteor Garden” fan, too. I must have bought all the CD’s and casette tapes of MG. I even got the minus-one, so I could sing “Ni Yao De Ai”. ^^

My bedroom was filled with F4 posters. There was a huge “Meteor Garden” towel hanging on the wall. It was actually my sister’s, who was also a fan. We didn’t want to get Dao Ming Si’s face wet, so we never used that towel. ㅋㅋㅋ

I’m sure that my sister and I weren’t the only Filipinas who went gaga over Dao Ming Si and his gang. The gorgeous guys of F4 suddenly became most Filipinas’ ideal men. (I wanted to marry Dao Ming Si or have him cloned!) Women weren’t the only ones who got into the F4 fever, but men as well. Many young Filipino males imitated the F4’s hairstyles, even Dao Ming Si’s hideous “pineapple” hairstyle which we thought was cool back then. The cast of MG were invited to the Philippines. They even had a concert that was tightly guarded by 500 policemen! Too bad I couldn’t watch it. T.T

Now that I recall my MG days, I become nostalgic. My Mom told me that the series is being shown again in the Philippines. I really want to watch it!!!

There is a Korean version of MG, “Boys over Flowers”, that was televised in my country. They started showing it when I was busy preparing for my wedding. I’ve seen some of the episodes, but I didn’t bother to finish the whole series. I think there’s too much 애교 (aegyo) in it that I totally dislike. Anyway, the Koreanized “Hana Yori Dango” was also a hit in the Philippines, not as much as MG, though.




6 thoughts on “Before there was K-drama…

  1. That’s interesting! ^^ I wonder what Filipino dramas are shown there in the US. I used to watch K-dramas in the Philippines. My favorites are “Winter Sonata” and “Lovers in Paris”. Maybe you have seen them. Here are the links:

    Oh, and I liked “Jewel in the Palace”, too.

    Now that I live here in Korea, I don’t watch K-dramas that much. Sometimes I watch historical K-dramas with my husband. I used to watch “동이” (Dong Yi) with him and my in-laws.
    I think it’s popular in the US. =)


  2. K-dramas in my country are dubbed in our native language. I also got hooked into K-dramas when I was in the Philippines. Here in Korea, I don’t watch them that much because they are in Korean, of course. (I understand a little Korean, though. ^^) My husband often watches historical Korean dramas, so sometimes I watch them with him. I find historical Korean dramas more interesting than the usual boy-meets-girl K-dramas.


  3. Hi, Amy! ^^ Thanks for the invitation. I will check your profile on FB. =)


  4. Hi, Chris:   I belong to a “secret” kdrama/kpop group of 34 members on Facebook. We’re comprised of a lively, interesting, very friendly group of people (mostly women, but we do have a couple of men) who are all drama addicts located in the US, Singapore, Malaysia, S. Korea, Romania, and the Philippines.  Our group founder/administrator is Carol Ward.  She has a great imagination and keeps us going with amusing posts, photos, and even game/contests and group projects.

    Two of our men include one prominent member from the Dramafever staff, and one who works with CNBlue and other kpop idols via FNC Music.  Another is a college student who’s studying languages and hopes to relocate to the Far East when he graduates.  The rest of the group are all women who are Korea-krazy!  LOL

    We would like to invite you to join us and start chatting with all of us who share your passion for kdrama.  Please let me know if you’re interested.  If so, you can befriend me so that I can then add you as one of our secret members. We’d love to have you join us. Hope you’ll accept my invitation,

    Amy Beck

    Find Me on Facebook



  5. I have just started watching k dramas and am hooked! Good thing they are subtitled though as I wouldn’t understand it at all.
    It’s also interesting to pick up different cultural things, very different to Western soap operas, although it’s a bit difficult for me to judge how much if it resembles real life. For example, i just watched “you who came from the stars”, and there is a lot of oppa/noona used in it etc, something unknown in the UK.


  6. I also watched a lot of Mexican novelas…. Marimar – yes, I remember. We watched a lot of Mexican soap operas with Victoria Ruffo, she even came to Russia once. Everyone was crazy happy. Also, in Russia they show Brazilian soap operas. A lot of them and novelas form Venezuela. But here in US, at the beginning I watched Mexican novelas (since my husband is Mexican and all his family watches them), but later I got hooked on kdramas…. I love kdramas. I call them rest for my brain because of the way they are. And I did watch Boys over Flowers. I knew it was Korean version of Japanese manga, and I knew there was Chinese version, the one you talked about, but I loved Korean version. Probably because I watched it first, before the Japanese or Chinese version 🙂 🙂 Here in US they have a special website They started with kdrams only, but now they have Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese latino novelas and even Filipino. But I love kdramas the best. As for subtitles… I prefer suntitles because sometimes people who voice the actors in English sound stupid. Also, watching it in original language helps you to pick up some words… Bring on kdramas!!! They are becoming very popular everywhere…. 🙂


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