On the one Korean drama I can’t forget

Sometimes certain stories come into your life right when you need them the most. 

On December 14, 2017, I wrote that sentence and saved it to a draft titled ‘Lingering thoughts on Because This is My First Life.’ 

For the rest of 2018 I couldn’t remember what those lingering thoughts were.

Funnily enough, now, a year later, I do. Something about it being this time of year, with the holidays and New Year coming up, and with it, inevitably, all the conversations about family, memories, nostalgia, tradition — stuff that’s always made me nauseous — also made me remember the Korean drama Because This is My First Life.

I have, in many ways, been a thorn in my parents’ side for the past several years. I’ve broken from tradition in a number of ways, forcing them to scrap and rewrite the playbook of raising a Good Indian Girl time and time again. One of these ways is my being in a relationship that doesn’t, and will never, conform to their expectations. Trying to contort myself and my partner to fit into that mold continues to cause me great pain.

Because This is My First Life is a show that reached out and spoke to my heart one year ago, and it still does so today. With its main couple and their unconventional relationship, their love for each other challenged by tradition, their strained familial relationships — it’s a story that paralleled my life shockingly well. (Minus the, you know, whole contract marriage deal).

Both characters realizing what they value in themselves and in each other, and then acknowledging that those things are different from what their families value, was heart-bursting moment for me. 

The finale wasn’t about solving all of the issues and living Happily Ever After. It was an acknowledgement that relationships take honest work. And family might not always come around, but you can still be yourself and be happy. It’s okay to prioritize that happiness.

The last few minutes of the finale has some of my favorite lines in all of K-drama land:

계약 내용은 일년마다 갱신되지만 대전제는 항상 똑같아. 우리의 사랑은 최우선으로 할 것. 물론 일반적인 일은 아니다. 각자의 집으로 갔던 첫 명절에 어머니는 나에게 전화를 걸어 우셨고 우리 아빠는 상을 엎었다. 하지만 그게 다였다. 그 이상에 큰 일은 일어나지 않았다. 그냥 우리는 남들에게 또라이 부부가 되었고 그 만큼 우리의 생활에 충실할 수 있게 되었다.

결혼이든 비혼이든 혼인 신고를 하든 안 하든 무엇을 택해도 생각보다 그렇게 심각한 일들은 일어나지 않는다. 중요한 건 어떤 형태로든 옆에 있는 이 사람과 지금 이 순간을 함께 하는 건. 그래서 오늘도 우선 우리는 사랑만 하기로 한다. 그리고 지금 이 순간을 사는 여러분에게 모든 진심을 담아 건투를 빈다. 어차피 이번 생은 우리 모두 처음이니까.

Every year we renew our contract but the terms always stay the same. That our love will be our top priority. Of course, this is easier said than done. When we went to our separate homes for our first long holiday, my mother-in-law called me and cried over the phone and Dad flipped over the table. But that’s all. Nothing else happened. We simply became known as the weirdo couple to others and were able to stay true to ourselves that much more.

Whether you choose to get married or remain single, whether you choose to register your marriage or not, whatever you end up doing, the consequences are not as severe as you’d think. The important thing is that, whatever form it takes, you share this moment together with the person by your side. That’s why, once again today, we decided to love each other first and foremost. And to all of you living in this moment, with all of our hearts, we wish you good luck. Because, for all of us, this is our first life anyway.

I’m not a romantic and I certainly don’t believe that putting love first can solve all of your problems. But this message to me was more about staying true to yourself — you might disappoint others in your life, but at the end of the day, it’s not going to be a big deal. People will continue to live their lives.

If this is a hopelessly Western way of thinking, well, I’m not going to defend myself. For the most part, I still tend to live my life conforming, trying not to rock the boat, but some things are just too important.

Fun fact: I didn’t finish a single drama in 2018.

I say this as I watch Memories of the Alhambra on Netflix, so maybe 2019 will be different? Alhambra strongly reminds me of Nine (also now on Netflix), which I absolutely loved and have actually watched twice. But it also reminds me of Sword Art Online and Ready Player One, both of which I hate. Heh. So we’ll see if I stick with it. I’m two episodes in and I haven’t rolled my eyes too much yet.

I often tell people that Nine is the drama that pretty much ended all Korean dramas for me. In the five years since it ended, I’ve only finished three dramas — Signal, Age of Youth, and Because This Is My First Life.

Maybe I’m becoming more discerning? Picky? Impatient? I’m not sure. Nevertheless, I’ll continue to keep an eye out for another drama that charms me as much as First Life did.


  1. Kdrama Crazy says:

    I’m currently watching this drama. 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Archana says:

      Whoo! I hope you enjoy it! It has its weaknesses but I have a feeling it’s going to be a longtime favorite of mine :)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kdrama Crazy says:

        I have watched 2 episodes so far and I’m loving it. :)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s funny because I literally finished this drama about two days ago! I was looking for a quiet drama to watch after watching a bunch of Lee Jong Suk’s (Ever since I Hear Your Voice, I became a bit of a fan xD). I really liked the male lead. It was my first time watching a drama with a man like that and even though he was strangely logical, I didn’t really find him that weird? Maybe it’s because I’m super weird as well xD

    Maybe try Kill Me, Heal Me? I really enjoyed that one.

    It’s weird because personally, this was the year I started REALLY getting into kdramas. I’m going to try watching them with Spanish subs in 2019 and then with Korean subs later. I really want to get to the stage where I can watch Korean dramas/shows/youtube videos without subs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Archana says:

      I liked Se-hee’s character a lot too! He wasn’t your typical K-drama hero. I also liked that Ji-ho didn’t try to “fix” him; they seemed to find their own way to complement each other.

      Looking back on it, I think my heaviest K-drama watching years were correlated with my beginning to intermediate learning phases of Korean. When you start picking up more and more phrases and understanding things without subtitles, it really motivates you to watch more things. Once I started getting a bit more advanced I moved on to reading novels (my natural habitat lol – I’ve always been a reader) over watching dramas.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That was an important thing to note! She didn’t want him to change himself even though he wasn’t her ideal type. Also, the guy seems to treat women better than A LOT of kdrama male leads. He doesn’t really just randomly grab their arm and stuff.

        ” When you start picking up more and more phrases and understanding things without subtitles, it really motivates you to watch more things.” I really agree with this.

        I’m more of a reader as well but I’ve been a bit frustrated with reading because of my 2018 reads were 3/3.5 stars and I’m still not fully sure about my reading tastes yet. I would really want to start Korean novels one day but I’m still intimidated by reading webtoons in Korean. I hope this changes soon!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jo says:

    This drama and Misaeng are really the stories of my life. Also, this year in kdramalamd was hard some great and some not so great dramas this year

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Archana says:

      Misaeng! I’ve been watching that one slowly but sometimes it gets too real and I can’t deal with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reign says:

    Hello Archana! Because This Is My First Life is a masterpiece. Nam Se-Hee is a memorable character because of Lee Min-ki’s brilliant performance. I’ve lost count of how many times I have watched this TV series. I am going to keep re-watching it as long as it’s available on Netflix.

    Liked by 1 person

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