As an avid K-drama fan, staring at blank faces as I enthusiastically discuss a fan theory is quite disappointing. So imagine my delight when I stumbled upon Deema’s account where she echoed my thoughts about a lead couple, discussed plot lines and pandered to the K-drama fan in me. With her, I found a community where I could discuss my Alchemy of Souls fan theories, especially about Naksu’s body or how Nak-su’s soul is still in Bu-yeon’s body in the second season. Much like me, Deema Abu Naser, popularly known as Deema loves drama, was looking to share her love for the world of K-culture, primarily dramas. Her relationship with K-entertainment started almost more than 12 years ago, but she never had anyone to fully engage with. Her passionate recommendations were not well received by her friends in school because most of her friends were interested in other shows, much like everyone else.
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Deema started blogging her K-drama reviews on Instagram and YouTube, and now the platforms have become Instagram’s biggest K-drama community with over 213K followers. Currently, Deema is walking around some of the most iconic K-dramas locations in South Korea, but before she ends her tour, ELLE India sits down with the global creator to talk about all things Korean dramas and their impact:
ELLE: Tell us about your K-content journey. How did this hobby become a full-time career?
Deema: When it comes to K-content, I started watching K-dramas when I was 11 years old. I was this super young girl who was really into the dramas—nothing deeper than that, to be honest. These shows were my escape for the day. I never had any friends who liked K-dramas, were interested in them, or had any friends who liked the same things. So in my last year of university at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, where I was approaching my last semester, I thought this was enough. I want friends who like the same things as me. I want to build this community.
So my first step was to start my blog, Deema Loves Drama. In the beginning, it didn’t kick off that well, but slowly, during the pandemic, it started growing. I was not good at social media or understood what it takes to be a content creator, so I didn’t think it could be a full time job. Throughout, I had other full-time jobs. I would work 9-5 on my full-time job and 5-1 on Deema Loves Drama. And my passion for it grew to the point where I felt like it was time to quit my job. This is what I want to do from now on, and I scaled it from there.
ELLE: K-drama fans face a lot of scrutiny for watching the shows or discussing them online. Have people looked down on you for this habit of yours?
Deema: I have never given a person the chance to do that. To me, it’s not something that’s shameful or weird; it’s the same way that people like English TV shows, sports, or anything like that. I feel like this scrutiny comes when someone is presented with something new. People who come to my social media are those who already enjoy them and want to find out more or like the drama they chose to enter with, which is good enough. I feel that we have reached a point in this generation where they hate bringing down people because everyone has different interests and things that they love. As for the scrutiny, I have this manifestation barrier so such people don’t come across my channel because I want my space to be healthy for the fans.
ELLE: While reviewing the K drama, what are the key factors or green flags a show needs to have?
Deema: For me, the green flags are two things: usually the storyline, if I am interested in the genre, and the second thing would be the actors. I have a lot of favourite Korean actors, and I genuinely look forward to their shows because I know they are going to be really good.
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ELLE: What are your must-have watch fall K-dramas?
Deema: For fall and cosy vibes, ‘Crash Landing on You’ would be a nice starter. I feel like a lot of people got into K-dramas after watching it. It’s definitely a top 3 for the newcomers. Another one that is not actually fall but has cosy vibes that I have to recommend is Alchemy of Souls. It’s so good; once you get hooked on Alchemy of Souls, you will never let K-dramas go. And the third one with cosy vibes would be Hometown Cha Cha Cha. A lot of people would really enjoy the seaside town and the romance.
ELLE: What are the biggest turnoffs in some K-drama shows that made you want to leave them in the middle?
Deema: I think the turnoff is when the storyline gets ridiculous. That’s when I start thinking, ‘Is this the show something I would enjoy continuing?’ My watching patterns, especially as a content creator, have really changed, especially as compared to what I would usually watch as a consumer. As a content creator, I try to focus on the dramas that bring me joy. I would be happy to review it. I have become more analytical about what I want to watch. My biggest turnoff is when the storyline gets ridiculous or there is a misunderstanding trope. There are better storylines to be written.
ELLE: K-dramas often come under fire for cultural appropriation. What is your take on it?
Deema: I would say it’s disheartening. As a producer, you have the ability to hire people who have expertise on these types of topics, if not somebody from the country, at least an advisor. It’s very disheartening that in the 21st century, no one can pick up a phone and send an email before they try to portray a different culture. If you are portraying a culture that is not yours in TV shows, dramas, movies, or whatever it is, you should always have advisors from that place who know exactly what they are talking about. This is inappropriate. Take this out.
When I saw the King of the Land’s Arab prince portrayal, it was very disheartening. It was a very easy thing; they could have just googled the basics for it. It’s so simple: a lack of research and a lack of wanting to understand another culture. The outrage as a result is not a good PR stunt either. K-dramas are now globalised; they are on Netflix, Hotstar, and Prime. If you have the production costs to have this kind of TV show or drama, then you should also research their culture.