EDITING : 2024.4.22 월 18:51
The Gachon Herald
Different Cultures, Different DramasThe Contrast Between Korean and American Dramas: A Case Study of the Drama 'The Good Doctor'
Park yeon seo  |  parkyeonseo03@naver.com
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Updated : 2024.04.19  15:47:40
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 Dramas from around the world possess unique styles that reflect their respective cultures, providing viewers with diverse entertainment. American dramas, in particular, have established a prominent presence in our daily lives. In this regard, it would be worth examining how the Korean drama 'Good Doctor' has been adapted for American viewership, in order to articulate the cultural differences between American and Korean dramas.
 Firstly, their differences can be observed in narrative structure. Korean dramas typically unfold over approximately 70 minutes, spanning two episodes a week, delivering a story characterized by intense narrative structures. Romance and antagonists are almost essential elements, and even before the development of OTT services, the ability to rewatch dramas was well-established, allowing audiences to enjoy various genres. In contrast, American dramas are primarily produced in a seasonal format, airing for around 45 minutes per week, providing a more relaxed production environment compared to Korean dramas. The story unfolds in an omnibus format, with each episode having its own storyline. The conflict between good and evil is not essential, allowing for a variety of story structures. Due to the long-standing production of seasonal dramas in the United States, it has created numerous business opportunities and favorable conditions for international sales.
 There are also differences in the drama production systems. American dramas predict the potential success through a pilot system produced before regular scheduling. The group creation system, mainly led by writers, involves different writers and directors for each episode. While the United States sees strength in sitcoms, dramas, and reality shows, Korea tends to focus more on dramas. As a result, in the United States, various genres are scheduled by multiple broadcasters during prime time, while in Korea, most broadcasters compete by scheduling dramas.
 The Korean drama ‘Good Doctor’ and its American adaptation offer a specific case that illuminates the cultural differences between these two countries. The original ‘Good Doctor’, a medical drama aired in Korea in 2013, tells the story of a protagonist with autism and savant syndrome who successfully becomes a doctor. It received acclaim in Korea and was remade in the United States, Japan, and Turkey. The American version of ‘Good Doctor’ has been produced up to Season 7. The U.S. adaptation follows an episodic structure where each episode presents a self-contained storyline, aligning with the cultural sentiments of the United States. For instance, in the original, the protagonist's autism symptoms were portrayed as a lack of communication, but the U.S. version emphasized the symptoms more by showing the character calling someone at 2 a.m. to find a driver or nitpicking about the improved performance of repaired the house. Additionally, to highlight the protagonist's autistic tendencies, the Korean version used triangular kimbap, while the U.S. version localized it with syrup-drenched pancakes.
 The main subject of ‘Good Doctor’, revolving around discrimination against people with disabilities, differ significantly between Korea and the United States due to varying societal perceptions and awareness. While the original depicted discrimination more overtly through direct prejudice and violence, the U.S. version, more developed social awareness about disabilities, indirectly portrayed as instances where a couple, bringing their autistic son to the protagonist, expresses fondness yet refuses treatment.
 The differences between Korean and American dramas stem from cultural characteristics. Dramas are interpreted with new appeal based on each country's culture and social background. This diversity provides viewers with varied pleasures, offering an opportunity to understand different cultures and gain new perspectives.


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