Addicted to K-Dramas? You’re Not Alone

Addicted to K-Dramas? You’re Not Alone

10/27/2021 8:18:00 PM

Addicted to K-Dramas? You’re Not Alone

How South Korean entertainment took over your TV.

provided welcome quarantine distractions. And as viewers ran out of shows to watch, many of them stumbled upon Korean dramas—and have been hooked ever since.For the unacquainted, Korean dramas—K-dramas for short—are South Korean scripted TV shows. Sometimes they’re referred to as Korean soap operas, but that description is misleading because K-dramas actually encompass a wide range of genres, from sci-fi and romance to horror and period pieces and everything in between. Most consist of a finite number of episodes (often between 16 and 24, though some—especially family-oriented and historical dramas—run for 50-plus) and are usually completed in a single season, with a few notable exceptions (more on that later).

Related StoryInside Blackpink's Global DominationK-dramas are generally known for having high production value, intense and often engrossing storylines, and quality acting that helps build an emotional connection between the characters and the audience. They also tend to consist of more PG-friendly fare than western TV shows (nudity and sex are practically nonexistent, for example), rendering K-dramas more palatable for a wider range of age groups and countries, especially those that are more socially conservative. At the same time, the bold and skillful storytelling with which K-dramas tackle societal issues, personal struggles, and universal themes such as family, friendship, and love make for thoughtful content that resonates with audiences across geographical borders. To put it plainly, K-dramas make us feel less alone and often successfully tap into our shared human experiences and emotions.

They’re also somewhat interactive. “Korean creators still make dramas day by day,” says Dr. Dal-Yong Jin, a communications professor at Simon Fraser University and one of the world’s leading scholars on Korean pop culture. If ratings are low, the show’s creators will change the plot, and if ratings are high, they might decide to extend the number of episodes from, say, 16 to 24, Jin explains. This helps ensure that the series in question is well-received by audiences, but also means that episodes are often shot and edited the same week they’re aired.

Park So-dam and Choi Woo-shik play siblings in Bong Joon Ho’s critically acclaimed filmParasite.NeonThough K-dramas have recently taken off in the States, they’ve been popular in Asia for years. In fact, K-dramas have long been one of the key drivers of the Korean Wave, or “Hallyu,” a term believed to have been first

to refer to the growing popularity of K-dramas, K-pop, and other Korean cultural exports. Since then, the Korean Wave has rapidly spread to all corners of the globe, but it’s difficult to pinpoint exactlywhenK-dramas began catching on outside of South Korea. Some sources point to the 1997 success of the family drama

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