The Age of K-drama Has Begun
The Korean TV series has long been enjoying popularity among international viewers especially in Asian countries like the Philippines, China, Thailand and others. Different telecom giants and the biggest internet content service operators are competing to secure exclusive distribution of the hottest K-dramas of South Korea.
One may contemplate onto how Korean dramas exactly entice viewers and make them really hooked into their shows. And a typical KPOP fanatic may say it’s because the actors are great or their crushes are in it or they love the “cheesiness” of the stories and many more. But is there a science behind a K-drama series? Are their formulas always equal to success rates and many sponsorship? Come to think of it, K-dramas are one of the most successful investments that South Korea (or their major television networks) has produced.
According to Ji-Yeon Yuh, a professor of Asian-American Studies at Northwestern University, in an exclusive interview with NBC News the Internet has allowed Korean dramas to find a wider international audience. “But mere availability doesn’t explain popularity. There is speculation that Korean culture is popular internationally because it offers a different aesthetic mode of modernity. That is, Korean drama and pop music, but drama especially, offer a version of a society that holds onto traditions and traditional values while moving forward as an economically advanced and developed society,” Professor Yuh also noted.
On the other hand, Candace Bacon of ReelRundown also gave her thoughts on why likes watching Korean series. According to her the actors in a K-drama are very attractive and there are a lot of “broody shower scenes” and “princess for a day makeovers”. Another factor for her is the fashion portrayed by the actors in a drama. “Many outfits are straight from the runway. The accessories are just as amazing as the clothes. Drama stars dress the way most of us would in our daydreams,” Bacon shared.
Bacon added that K-dramas are actually educational. “Watching foreign dramas lets you absorb information about a different culture without the hassle of dreary studying. You learn about different societal norms by watching the day to day life of the characters. Watch even one K-drama and you will understand that shoes are taken off at the door without anyone needing to tell you,” she said.
She also concluded that the “fresh factor” of Korean dramas made them unique. It’s the new programming or style that entice Western viewers. “It’s not the same old stale, predictable plots that have been recycled for seasons. The plots, types of characters and even the settings in K-dramas feel new and different and, therefore, more exciting,” Bacon also added.
In 2016, DramaFever, one of the biggest distributor of Korean dramas, released user statistics and said that the majority of their user base is largely women of color. Among their female viewers, DramaFever found that 43 percent of them are white, 27 percent are Latino, 24 percent are Asian and 17 percent are black. Also, according to a data analytics company called comScore, DramaFever has over 2.4 million unique visitors in November 2016, and its users stream 800 million minutes of content a month.
In order to satisfy its users, Jacqueline Sia (DramaFever’s Director for Video Operations) said that her team translate the shows in-house and add subtitles in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and simplified Chinese, and releasing those dramas in as little as 24 hours after the original broadcast.