Jan 2, 2017

Abnormal Summit— A Good Korean Non-Drama

I'll admit, the title is a bit misleading. This show isn't just "good," it's up there in my Top 5 Favourite Shows—a list reserved for truly great shows. And here, I'll explain why.

Many people hype about Korean dramas and music, but most forget that regular Korean TV shows can be just as great. They're a solid, practical way to understand and learn about Korean culture. Especially when these shows are relatable, fun to watch, and culturally accessible to (almost) everyone.

Abnormal Summit's Official Logo by JTBC
And Abnormal Summit (비정상회담) is all three.

The show is hosted by three Koreans who invite around eleven international, yet fluent Korean speakers, to a mock UN table where they discuss social matters and news. It may sound a bit dull, but it really isn't. Multi-ethnic perspectives and a lot of (good-natured) laughs are constantly exchanged.

The current season is so diverse, with representative speakers from: Mexico, United States, India, France, Pakistan, Switzerland, Canada, Germany, Italy, China, and Japan. The show opens up with a discussion of some current global news before introducing the main topic through the guest speaker. Each episode is packed with interesting topics and gripping conversation—with guests being musicians, actors, and even psychologists (among so many other careers). 

You get all their insights—as well as comparisons to different cultures—in a convenient package that is highly-entertaining, highly-educating, and well-edited. 

And if it's your first time watching Korean TV, then here's a heads-up: there's a lot of post-production editing. 

The screen easily fills up with superimposed text and images. Though it may be distracting at first, you quickly get used to it. And eventually, you'll start looking for them, expecting them, and maybe even missing them in other shows. Korean-style TV editing is by far more engaging than others I've encountered—and definitely more "language learner"-friendly.

By reading the text on-screen, you can pick up on dialogue faster than you would in dramas. The conversation, in a way, would be more realistic and genuine as people speak their minds—people who are actual non-native speakers. It's pretty inspiring to see a panel of foreigners speaking a foreign language, too.

It may not turn out to be your thing, but it's certainly worth a try. In 129 episodes (thus far), it has everything good going for it: comedy, culture, language, news, and the surprise element of a refreshing guest.