by Lindsay Wong
A lot of dramas and movies have both Japanese and Korean adaptations, many of which are originally based off of manga series. In many cases, the popularity of one adaptation leads to another adaptation, and people are excited to see how another culture will interpret the same series. Although the premise is always the same, there are differences in the execution made to fit the different context and country.
Your Eyes Tell (Japan, 2020)
Trending film ‘Your Eyes Tell’ is set to premiere in October this year and has already received a lot of hype, largely because K-pop superstars BTS sang the main OST for it. It is a remake of Korean film ‘Always’ (2011). In the film, a blind woman mistakes the male protagonist for someone else. However, they start to fall for each other, and it is soon revealed that he is a mysterious man with a dark past. In both films, the male leads are boxers.
Boys Over Flowers (Korea, 2009)
This classic romantic K-drama is a remake of Japanese drama ‘Hana Yori Dango’ (2005), both of which are based on the shojo manga series. It was adapted into dramas in countries across Asia, including Taiwan and China. It follows many tropes and is about a poor girl falling in love with a rich boy. Her parents work tirelessly to allow her to attend a prestigious academy ruled by a handsome group of boys called F4.
It has a cliché plot but loveable characters. The Korean version strayed away from the original because it was much longer, so the angst was dragged on and many scenes were overdramatic, but there was a deeper understanding of the characters.
To The Beautiful You (Korea, 2012)
This K-drama is based on the popular manga series ‘Hana-Kimi’, which also spawned two live-action Japanese dramas (2007 and 2011) and even a Taiwanese adaptation. The series is about a girl who helps an athlete after an accident that threatens his career. She cross-dresses as a boy and enrolls into the same all-boys boarding school as him to help him get back on his feet. There are lots of funny situations, interesting scenarios, a love triangle, and a few sexuality crises here and there.
Be With You (Korea, 2018)
‘Be With You’ is a remake of the Japanese film with the same title (2004). It is about a father and son duo who are shaken up by the return of the latter’s mother exactly one year after her death. However, she does not remember them. The Korean adaptation is not as touching as the original, but it is still a tearjerker. This story highlights the importance of family and the love story is sincere. There are plenty of amusing moments throughout the film.
Naeil Cantabile (Korea, 2014)
This is based on the classic hit Japanese drama ‘Nodame Cantabile’ (2006). It is about a prodigal pianist who has a fear of flying, even though he dreams of studying with his desired master overseas and becoming a conductor. He meets the titular female lead by chance and romance blooms between them. The Japanese version is more faithful to the original manga it is based off on, while the Korean version changes a lot of things. For example, the approach to music and the first impressions between the couple are completely different.
Mother (Korea, 2018)
‘Mother’ is considered an underrated gem among K-dramas. It is based on the Japanese drama of the same name (2010) and even has a Turkish adaptation. The Korean version is faithful to the original and follows a relatively similar progression. However, there are some differences. The Japanese version does not focus on the male characters, but the Korean version has a romantic storyline, which is classic for K-dramas. Furthermore, they both have different endings.
Little Forest (Korea, 2018)
The film is based on the slice-of-life manga of the same name, and the Japanese live-action version has two parts (2014 and 2015). A young girl returns to her hometown in the countryside after encountering trouble when she lived in the city. She learns how to adapt to a quiet but cozy life.
Both adaptations evoke a feeling of wanting to escape to the countryside for some peace and quiet. The format of the Japanese version is like a mini-drama, while the story in the Korean version unfolds in just one film. The main difference is the different cultures depicted in order to fit the context and setting. ‘Little Forest’ places a heavy emphasis on home-cooked food, which is entirely different in both versions.
Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo (Japan, 2013)
This series is based on the manga ‘Itazura Na Kiss’ and the Korean adaptation ‘Playful Kiss’ (2010) preceded the Japanese live-action version. The story follows a ditzy and unpopular girl, who confesses to her handsome and popular crush, but is rejected. However, after a bizarre natural disaster, they are forced to temporarily live together.
It’s a fun drama full of questionable situations and funny scenarios and can be a bit of a tearjerker. The Korean version is more extra than the Japanese.