Last year, the BL drama “Semantic Error” was released, casting DKZ’s JaeChan as Chu SangWoo, and Park SeoHam as Jang JaeYoung. The drama did not disappoint and is now among the most popular BL drama in the Korean industry. In fact, not only in Korea, this drama also became popular overseas, showing that love knows no frontiers. But if the drama got so popular, it might be due to its other adaptations. Indeed, if many were introduced to the story of SangWoo and JaeYoung by this drama, some knew them since long ago.
Like many other BL dramas and dramas in general, “Semantic Error” is based on a book, a novel to be more specific. But the novel is not the only version of the story that existed before the drama. Indeed, there was also a webtoon and animation already out when the drama was released. And if the core of the story remains the same, a whole lot of details get added and deleted in each version. Let’s dive into the world of “Semantic Error” and its numerous adaptations.
1. The original source, “Semantic Error” novel (January 2020)
We could say that the most authentic source, the true story of “Semantic Error” is this one, as it is the original work. The novel, written by Jeo SooRi, comes in two volumes of several hundred pages and tells the story of SangWoo and JaeYoung from A to Z in a very detailed way. The novels are in Korean and no official English translation has been made so far, which explains why not so many fans know about this version of the story. But if you liked the drama or any other “Semantic Error” adaptations, do be patient and get the two volumes when translations are available. Because this original work might make you see the story in a different light given all the differences it contains compared to the drama version. Also, while all adaptations are different and show various moments and aspects of the story, all portray the characters very well and keep the core of the story. So while you will rediscover the relationship between SangWoo and JaeYoung in each version, you won’t get lost or confused in any way.
2. The first adaptation, “Semantic Error” Webtoon (July 2020)
This adaptation was the first one to be made, and it was greatly appreciated by the BL fan community. While many did not know the novel version and considered this webtoon as a new work, all praised the good storyline and impressive character designs. Indeed, the artist who worked on this adaptation of “Semantic Error”, Angy Kim, did not stop halfway. The characters are very similar to the novel description of it, and the story is also very well relayed. While some elements started going missing from this adaptation, given that the length of a webtoon cannot be that of a novel, we can still find the main elements of the story, with some of the side characters, and even specific locations. This is a very good adaptation of the story that allowed fans to finally picture more clearly the main characters of the story. While the online webtoon has several chapters, only two volumes were released in paper versions in 2022, which represents only the beginning of the story we see in the drama version.
Where to read: Manta (English)
3. The next step, “Semantic Error” animation (2021)
The animation version of “Semantic Error” was of course based on its webtoon version. Meaning that the drawings from the webtoon were kept to create the animation. When taking a look at both versions, we can recognize the exact same character designs and more. With this adaptation, “Semantic Error” started to somehow come to life. With characters in motion, the story felt more and more alive in the eyes of fans, and they could only hope for more as the years passed. Unfortunately, the animation version of semantic error does not have as much content as the other adaptation. Only a few iconic scenes from the webtoon were turned into animated short films. Thus, even if this is another adaptation of the story, as it is quite incomplete, it is hard to follow the story with this version only. We must rely on other adaptations of “Semantic Error” to truly know the story in a proper timeline.
Where to watch: Laftel
4. The iconic drama adaptation of “Semantic Error”
This is the most well-known version of “Semantic Error”. Many people got to know about “Semantic Error” thanks to this adaptation, and only later did they find out about the others. Once again, the core of the story was respected and SangWoo and JaeYoung’s love story follows the same dynamic and flow as in the novel or webtoon. However, a lot of details did change in this adaptation, mostly due to the censure of the broadcasting industry. One of the first details noticed by those who had seen the webtoon before was JaeYoung’s hair color. While in the drama JaeYoung does wear exclusively red clothes to piss off SangWoo, in the original work, and its webtoon version, JaeYoung goes all the way to dying his hair in red to annoy his partner-to-be. This isn’t bothersome at all given that it does not counter the understanding of the story or else, but we can’t help but notice this right away after knowing of the webtoon character design. Also, as the drama does not allow to develop much, many details and little events from JaeYoung and SangWoo’s life and relationship were modified, but once again, we still get the grip of the story. Lastly, some scenes a bit more explicit and intimate than kisses are included in the original work, but in order to make the drama enjoyable for a large age range, the production team probably decided to take them off, as they are also not a big help to the plot and development of the story.
Where to watch: Watcha (Subscription needed)
BONUS. “Semantic Error” on the big screen
While this version is almost identical to the drama one, it is worth mentioning. Indeed, “Semantic Error” became so popular as a drama that all its episodes were combined into a movie of a duration that exceeds two hours. While the content is the same as the drama, some sound and editing arrangements were made for this version, as per the director’s words. Thus, “Semantic Error” special screening in Korean theaters sold out in no time, with no surprise. This version is enjoyable as we can see the continuity of all the drama’s episodes, giving a smoother flow to the story, especially the character’s relationship. Also, as a few modifications were made, we could consider the movie adaptation an improved version of the drama. So if you liked the drama and have not seen the movie yet, do look for it, you might enjoy this work a second time, slightly differently.
Where to watch: Watcha (Subscription needed)
Those are all the existing versions of “Semantic Error” and their content and specificity, but more content might be coming our way later on, we can never know!