3 Asian Dramas that Master the Art of Conflict

Currently Watching Meteor Garden and the conflict between these two is exhausting.

In my first year of watching Asian dramas, I have discovered some shows are good (yes, What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim), some not so good (um… Mr. Pride vs. Miss Prejudice), and some just plain bad (sorry, Shine Go Back). About every two or three new shows, I find one that resonates with me so much that I just can’t stop thinking about it or gasp… watch it over and over and over. One common characteristic of these fabulous bits of entertainment is the conflict. These shows are not just an adventure, not any ordinary escapade, but one continuous thrill ride that makes my stomach do flip flops and pulls the beating heart from my chest, tears it to pieces, sews it back together, then wraps it up in shiny Christmas paper… And. I’m. Never. The. Same. Again.

Currently, I have three dramas that stand out as masters of conflict. One interesting side note, they all have well developed multiple story arcs all containing their own conflict. (PS… I know there are more out there, and I plan to watch them all!)

You Who Came from the Stars

Will Hui Kyung and Se Mi EVER become a couple? The suspense is killing me.

Conflicts abound in this K-drama starring Kim Soo Hyun and Jun Ji Hyun. Outside the female and male leads, there is an interesting and very heart-tugging story between the second leads played by Park Hae Jin (be still my beating heart) and Yoo In Na (she’s sooooooo good). Conflict abounds between Lee Hui Kyung (Park Hae Jin) who is in love with Song Yi, but she does not love him back, then Yoo Se Mi (Yoo In Na) who is in love with Hui Kyung, but he does not love her back… just not enough love to go around for these poor people. There are a few scenes that break my heart, but in the end, I loved both of these characters including their pesky shenanigans. The struggle between these two just grabbed me by the hair and pulled me along for the ride (ouch).

Of course, the incredible love story of Cheon Song Yi and Do Min Joon is insanely good. I have written of Jun Ji Hyun’s humour before and it rocks. The relationship between these two starts out auspiciously with Do Min Joon rescuing young Cheon Song Yi as a teen then it all goes downhill, then uphill, and around the bend from there. The struggle involving these two ranges from the funny (he gets sick whenever they kiss), to the frustrating (he can’t be honest about his feelings), to the sad (he must leave the planet….yes, he is E. T. of the drop-dead gorgeous kind).

Additional conflict provided by a bad guy trying to kill… well, just about everyone, a nosy detective and prosecutor, and Song Yi’s wackadoodle mother, her estranged father, not to mention her gloomy little brother… and oh, yeah… how does one develop a healthy and loving relationship with an alien? The ending was so complicated and intense that I was out of breath by the time I watched the epilogue (a must watch and watch again and again).

Eternal Love – Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms

Mo Yuan & Si Yin or Bai Qian & Ye Hua… the dilemma is killing me

Oh, dear. Where do I begin? This is the drama that started it all for me, my very first and my most cherished c-drama. I STILL LOVE THIS SHOW!!! Mark Chao and Yang Mi are now every days words in my house because these two rocked my world. Before we go into the heart-wrenching relationship between Si Yin/Su Su/Bai Qian and Mo Yuan/Ye Hua, let’s start with the lesser-known conflicts… of which there are too numerous to write fully about.

Consider the continuous pain and sorrow of poor misguided Li Jing and his many bad choices. Didn’t you just love it when he stood between his brother and Si Yin? How about the evil angst caused by Xuan Nu….that woman needed a good kick in the behind… or the poignant love story of Yan Zhi and Zi Lan (is there any hope for them)? And did anyone EVER think that Su Jin would get what she deserved? Come on….we all know THAT ONE person in our lives who does such awful things and never seems to get caught. Was justice served? (I think so.)

Now onto Si Yin/Su Su/Bai Qian and my beloved Mo Yuan/Ye Hua. What was there not to love about these characters (ahem….Su Su was supposed to be weak) and their fight to be together? There was nothing tepid about Si Yin and Mo Yuan or Su Su/Bai Qian and Ye Hua….and I will shamefully admit that it wasn’t until around episode thirty-something before I wanted Bai Qian and Ye Hua to live happily ever after because I still wanted her to end up with Mo Yuan! I was wracked with guilt when Mo Yuan finally woke up to find Bai Qian engaged. The whole love triangle thing was EXTREMELY distressing (yes I know Mark Chao plays both characters…. but still…).

How insane was the conflict between these characters from memory loss, to injuries, to jealous rejected girlfriend, to the whole mortality/immortality thing!? And don’t get me started on the twin brother scenario. And here it is ONE year later, and I still feel guilty that Mo Yuan did not get the girl (I sometimes go back to re-watch that episode to see if anything has changed). How crazy is that??!! Is there a pill for this type of illness? If you haven’t watched Eternal Love, I HIGHLY recommend you find a wide-screen (easier to read subtitles), get a box of tissues, lots of time (58 episodes) and ENJOY!

 Ashes of Love

Some conflict is funny… like this scene where he thinks she is his sister

If you have read any of my articles, you know Ashes of Love affected me greatly (I wrote 2 just about this show). While the characters were out of this world good, it was the conflict that gave me heart palpitations. I broke into a sweat and clenched my jaw until it ached because this show was full of disputes, quarrels, strife and non-stop clashes. From the evil machinations of the empress and her nasty minion Sui He to the painful suffering of Mu Ci and his true love Liu Ying, Ashes of Love was riddled with plots and sub-plots and lover’s triangles galore. And let’s face it, not one character had a good motherly influence and every one of them acted foolishly at one point or another causing much of the ensuing mayhem.

Some c-dramas just drag in the middle and it is possible to skip 5-10 episodes and still keep up with the story, NOT ASHES OF LOVE. If you skipped any one episode, you likely missed at least two sword fights, three important character revelations, and one touching Jin Mi and Xu Feng moment… sigh. Conflict in this show could be found between siblings, between spouses, between friends, between sweethearts, between realms and so on and so on. If you haven’t seen it, there is so much to experience. My attention was riveted for the entire 63 episodes. By the time I completed the last scene, my heart was pounding, I had butterflies in my stomach and I craved more Run Yu, Jin Mi, Xu Feng, Mr. Pu Chi, Mu Ci, Liu Ying… and well you get the picture.

 (Badly or unresolved conflict makes me angry – and Run Yu too)

Conflict is extremely difficult to write. Who wants to put characters that you have grown to love through all kinds of agony, torment….and wicked stepmothers? Truth be told, conflict with no satisfying conclusion is hideous or worse…unfulfilling. However, when there is a drama chocked full of struggle and heartache with little victories here and there, and it all culminates in one exciting and GOOD (not necessarily happy) ENDING…..pure bliss. Those are the shows that engender emotional responses from the audience…..you know, people like me. Shows like You Who Came from the Stars, Eternal Love, and Ashes of Love are riddled with conflict and deal with it beautifully. In my humble (hello, still not an expert) opinion…..they are worth the time spent glued to the screen.

Hats off to the writers of these shows and others that give me such a thrilling ride with a satisfactory conclusion (not neatly tied up in a bow… another sigh… still team Run Yu). Thank you, writers, for the hours upon hours of entertainment. And the actors and actresses…Well, that is another article.

What shows do you think do conflict well? What dramas make your heart race and your stomach flip? Please let me know.

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