The defining hallmark of Kdramas are their kisses. They are in a class all their own, filmed differently, placed in the story with care and never anything but highly anticipated.
Kisses have been squandered, overused and been made tools of poorly crafted storylines in movies and particularly in television shows, but if you want kissing goals, watch kdramas. Your lips will forever feel as they were meant for something better and you won’t be the least bit sorry.
We won’t do a top ten here because I am not a kdrama expert–I’m just a fan and I don’t have that kind of encyclopedic experience, but I have identified some main categories.
The First Kiss
Kdramas set you up to know exactly who is going to fall in love. You already know the hero and the heroine from the beginning. However, the first kiss is almost always a surprise to the recipients, hence the inordinately large amount of time with the camera spent on the surprised recipient’s wide open eyes. No, this is not done in slow motion. The viewer is painfully aware that the actors were directed to stand there for five minutes as still as possible trying not to breathe on each other. One of them also has to keep their eyes open and occasionally blink. It’s a masterpiece of acting awkwardness.
But we always love it because we’ve been waiting for this stupid kiss for three long episodes or even more.
The only drama I ever saw where the first kiss was immediate was Witch’s Romance. It had a bit of the blinking-eyes surprise, but it was also pretty darn spicy.
Since we’re currently watching Goblin: The Lonely and Great God and it’s a perfect example of this kind of kiss, see it here (courtesy of DramaFever).
The Couple Kiss
Somewhere in the storyline after the two have acknowledged that they love each other they get to kiss without the wide eyes. This is the temporary, short-lived place in the love story where the audience gets to revel in the relationship, and they ship the couple so hard they forget it’s fiction.
Kdramas are sweet, romantic with some heat. They are never gross or overdone. I could safely watch a good kdrama kiss with my mom without any embarrassment, but I’m still sucked into the romance and the excitement.
They are always beautifully filmed, because these kisses matter. They are scattered sparingly through the story. You can watch 24 hours of a drama and have only ten kisses. You care about these.
If the actors have chemistry…if they have CHEMISTRY…as in, as if the actors are falling in love in real life, we have that rare unicorn of a kiss, that one in a thousand onscreen kisses called…
The Real Kiss
In the drama, Queen In-Hyun’s Man, the two actors Yoon In Na and Ji Hyun-woo were actually falling in love during filming, and the result leaves you in awe. You know the love was real and new when you watch them together.
Or maybe I’m just crazy. Watch and let me know if I was just imagining the chemistry.
All things must have their opposites, I’m afraid. And in kdramas, we have some great kisses, and then we have…
The Really Bad Kiss
I haven’t seen very many of these, but for a kdrama fan they are terribly disappointing. You’ve waited and waited for the Big Moment…and then when it happens it’s like watching a car accident involving a smart car, a skunk and a jar of your grandmother’s prunes. You wish you hadn’t seen it and the stink remains and you’re praying it never happens again.
For some reason it’s “cool” for a Korean actress to act as if kissing were something new and she has zero experience with it. The queen of Bad Kisses is Park Shin Hye, and she will forever keep that title for this horrific scene where she brutally destroyed an opportunity to enjoy Lee Min Ho’s perfect lips. If you must watch, see if here. The video alleges that this is a “hot” kiss, but only if you think looking constipated while being kissed is hot. Her expression remains a baffling mystery for the ages.
So there you have it. The Definitive Guide to Kdrama Kisses. Or at least the ones I care about.