When Does One Go From A New Fan To The Next Level?

Posted by JMertz on January 17, 2016

Fun Friday

achievement unlocked

At what point does a drama fan go from “newbie” to “seasoned” status? Is there a certain amount of time (i.e. one year after starting their first drama)? Do they have to have the experience behind them as far as quantity of dramas watched and actors known? Is it only after they have seen every classic crack drama, both good and bad? There has to be a time when we are allowed to leave the kids’ table.

The transition snuck up on me. Until recently, I had considered myself a complete newbie drama fan. I was less than a year into the fandom and still learning things such as cultural elements and all the tropes. I still use nicknames to keep characters straight in my head.

At the end of 2015, I began seeing stills and articles for the drama Moorim School and I thought “I can’t wait to see Lee Hyun Woo in another drama.” It then hit me that I could actually SAY that now! I realized that I had gone through the stage of being overwhelmed by this whole world of dramas and wondering how I was ever going to find time to watch everything (we will never find that time without a TARDIS). Actors were becoming familiar, and I felt confident in making recommendations to other fans. I could even pick out some Korean words without the help of subtitles, gush over specific kissing scenes, and laugh about Lee Min Ho’s sweaters in Heirs. I started to look forward to actors completing their military services, while being sad knowing that some were leaving soon and that I would not see the in a drama for some time.


Without my knowledge, I had become an experienced drama fangirl.

I realized that there is no ladder to this drama fandom. As long as you are joining in, then you are one of the group. Some have been here longer than others, some have not had a chance to watch anything other than Korean dramas, some cannot pick Lee Jong Suk out of a lineup, and some are not fans of Boys Over Flowers. That is all perfectly okay. Newbies, veterans, or somewhere in between, it does not matter, because we are all in this crazy world together.

What do you think? Did you have an “ah-ha” moment, or do you prefer to measure in time or dramas viewed?


  • Reply Molly in Kdramaland January 18, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    I loved reading this article because over the last few months, I too have realized I’m no longer a newbie. I’ve been (obsessively) watching Asian dramas for two years now, and for at least the first year, I still felt so new to this world. Sometime over the second year, that changed. I don’t really know how or when. When I look at my list of dramas watched, I realize I’m nearly at the 100 drama mark (not including the 10+ I’ve dropped for one reason or other).

    Once I became a fan, it was over for me. I mean, I jumped in with both feet and didn’t look back. It’s probably more casual for other (more normal) people. 🙂

    I do know that watching these dramas, becoming a fan of Kpop, too and having equally obsessed friends has been a huge blessing these last couple years as I’ve gone through personal and professional challenges. I often think how grateful I am to have a happy place to escape to from time to time. I’m so glad this fandom exists and I’m part of it. 🙂

  • Reply JMertz January 18, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Molly, Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I go all in when I find something that I enjoy, so you are not alone!

  • Reply hariaharia January 20, 2016 at 6:54 am

    I don’t think it’s even possible for someone who grew up in a completely different cultural environment to ever go to the next level. Sure, after more than 3 years, I’m now able to recognise actors (which seemed like mission impossible back in ’12) even after the “slight” aesthetic changes of their facial features, however, I’m still struggling with all those odd and peculiar things in K-ent: live-shooting system, strict public image forced on actors and singers and the craziest netizens on the face of the planet. Why a promising story turns out to be a perfect disaster? Why dating someone is considered to be a “scandal”? Why actors who can act don’t have a fair chance? (well, tbh, that’s an international problem in entertainment industry). It seems as if there are zero auditions, like ZERO. Everyone is willing to play any given role, whether it’s a grandpa or a grandson, as long as k-netizens (plus CEOs) approve. I still remember that hilarious scene in KMHM where the idol was auditioning and he was bad at every single genre ” You can’t act at all. You’re so trendy. Good for you!”, ecstatic Shin Se-gi shouted.
    So, the moment I think I have moved onto the next level, something happens and I’m back to the drawing board. It’s a vicious circle, I guess…

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