[Drama-induced Shopping] The winding roads product placement took me down
by Guest Beanie
Bride of the Water God
When I first started watching K-dramas, encountering the massive product placement shocked and fascinated me at the same time. One reason for that might be that here in Germany, laws are very strict when it comes to advertisements in TV series. You’d only see rather mild forms of PPL here and there and it is generally considered something really awkward and cringe-worthy.
So, while exploring the wonderful world of K-dramas during the past six years, they not only offered me a wide range of products to improve my life, but also took me down the weirdest roads when it came to advertisement. Like, placing nutritious dog food (in a not so subtle manner) in a drama dealing with a tragic love story and a heavy topic like resistance against the Japanese occupation of Korea? No problem for Chicago Typewriter!
And recently Cross introduced me to the fanciest way to rest in peace I might have ever seen. Why not spend your afterlife in a library, your ashes enclosed in a beautiful book? The show kindly even gives you the name of the funeral company providing this kind of service. No matter what your life (or afterlife) situation is, chances are that K-dramas will always give you a perfectly fitting solution.
I would consider myself a rather skeptical consumer, but in 2016, product placement in K-dramas finally got me too. My drama-induced shopping started with Oh Hae-young’s handbag—one of the countless handbags the heroine sported in Oh Hae-young Again. I’m still wondering where she’d store them all, given the tiny shack she was living in. I fell in love with Episode 12’s handbag (her whole outfit, actually), and spotted it on a website. I was a bit hesitant ordering it at first, since Oh Hae-young ends up a crying mess while wearing it. Call me superstitious, if you want.
In the end, I never regretted purchasing it and even prefer it to the couple of fancier designer ones I own. Whenever I get compliments on it, I have a funny little story to tell about how I first saw it in a drama, and then it was delivered to me from Korea all the way to Central Europe. Depending on the other person, the story will earn me an amused or polite smile, or most likely, an is-she-really-that-crazy glance.
Oh Hae-young Again
By the end of last year, I was due for a new car. Even though some of the fanciest and most desirable cars in the world are produced in my country, I felt the urgent need to look into Korean ones. Of course K-dramas are to blame for the fact that I ended up at my local Hyundai dealer. I got curious when Bride of the Water God taught me that Hyundai is the preferred car brand of handsome water gods (and their brides) and Jealousy Incarnate showed me attractive guys going totally nuts while fighting for a rather clumsy and not very successful single woman, once she owned a … yes, exactly, a Hyundai. So, basically there was no reason for me not to buy one.
I didn’t get Habaek’s Kona nor Pyo Na-ri’s i30, but a cute little i10, perfectly fitting the narrow lanes and almost zero parking in the small medieval town I’m living in (yes, exactly that kind of European town which could be the backdrop for an extra romantic scene in a drama). Needless to say, I absolutely enjoy driving it, preferably while listening to some OSTs.
Well, those were the obvious and official reasons why I went for a Hyundai. My subconscious, however, is probably secretly waiting for a hot Jung-won to throw himself onto my hood in order to fight for my love, miserably crying and desperately begging me not to go. I’m still agonizing over the fact that Pyo Na-ri heartlessly drove away, leaving a soaked Jung-won puppy standing in the rain. Re-watching that scene totally tempts me to pick him up… in my brand new Hyundai.
As you might have guessed, a handbag, a car, and lots of OSTs are not the only things dramas made me buy. There’s also the rice cooker that talks to me in Korean, which I refuse to put into English mode, because that just seems lame to me. There’s the vintage alarm clock that looks very Answer Me 1988. There’s lots of dried seaweed, enough to provide all my family and friends with soup on their birthdays for probably the next ten years, and black bean paste for jajangmyun I have to prepare myself due to the lack of strong deliverymen in my area. And after recently being introduced to Korean face masks, my local German drugstore will most likely earn a fortune from me as a customer, because this noona wants to stay pretty.
There’s even more on my growing drama shopping list. I think all the adorable bunny plushies I’ve seen in various dramas would make excellent co-drivers. And next winter I’d love to wear that amazing red coat Shin Se-kyung wore in Black Knight. But I would have to find a magical tailor first…