Midnight Diner: Japanese Version vs. Korean Version
"Midnight Diner" was initially a Japanese drama which first came out in 2009 with stories based on Japanese manga series by Yarô Abe. There are four series of this drama and each of them is composed of 10 episodes. In 2015, it was remade in a Korean version "Simyasikdang" by Producer In-rwae Hwang. The Korean version of "Midnight Diners" came out with 20 episodes in total. Both versions' concepts are exactly the same while their episodes are differently depicted based on their own cultural aspects.
The background of the drama is very simple and limited. Most of the episodes take place in a small restaurant placed in a narrow alley in town. The chef, known as "Master," opens and runs the restaurant only from midnight till 7 a.m. There are four choices on the menu and every customer is restricted to three drinks per visit. Why is this place extraordinary? The Master cooks anything possible for his customer on request as long as he has suitable ingredients available in his kitchen.
The Master disregards people's occupation, gender, age, and appearance. He is not the type of person who comes up with gorgeous words to cheer his customers up. Rather he just pours a cup of beer and listens to their daily complaints. Why would anyone exhausted from his or her daily life hesitate to talk to a buddy who welcomes them with scrumptious food every night?
The main reason people are addicted to this restaurant: FOOD! There are no limits to the food the Master can make for his customers with his magical hands. Both versions of the drama focus on introducing their own traditional types of food. In watching both shows, one can easily distinguish between each country's dishes as they are different from one another. All the food in each episode represents each customer's meaningful stories, and it is the Master's job to help remind them of their good memories or make them forget their bad memories with his food.
Another element that makes the two dramas more interesting is how the characters overlap and differ in their respective versions. Due to the cultural differences, the acceptance of certain types of characters depends on the version of the show one is watching. For example, one of the regular customers in the Japanese Midnight Diners is a gay bar hostess, but this character is excluded in the Korean version. A gay character would not register with a Korean audience since Koreans are not yet familiar with the idea of homosexuality in contemporary society. Similar character which appear in both versions are a bar worker (stripper in Jap. and bar waitress in Kor.), a middle-aged man, a gangster, and three old maids.
Moreover, there are several overlapping episodes in both versions with slight differences catered to each country's own style. An example would be the episode of the three maids who are best friends. Two of them have a fight when they get into trouble because of a guy. In both instances, the three ladies eat noodles in Master's restaurant, but the types of the noodles they eat are different. Yet, in both episodes, each of the three maids chooses a different flavor of noodles. Evidently, the main concept of the episodes remains but is reimagined it in its own way with different characters, story lines, and foods.
Even though both versions of the drama's concepts and the Master's characteristics remain the same, each drama distinctively presents its culture. One should definitely watch both versions of the drama for many reasons. First, you can see the differences between Japanese and Korean foods and learn how to cook them with the recipes provided in the end of each episode. Second, the drama helps you become open mind. In spite of some unfamiliar characters due to cultural differences, every episode appeals to the audience with an ordinary individual's realistic and touching life stories. Because of their differences and the unique flavor they bring to the concept, each show is definitely worth a watch.