The Americans have soap operas, the Spanish have telenovelas and the Korean have K-drama. Fair warning, you might be addicted
The Korean Wave, or Hallyu, refers to the popularity of Korean entertainment productions, including film, television drama, pop music and online games. The Korean Wave has boosted South Korean exports of television programs and pop music, while TV dramas have continuously increased and dominated Korean exports of television content. Despite the name, Korean dramas include many genres such as comedy, romance, action and history. Korean dramas usually have between 16 to 24 episodes, each episode is almost one hour long.
Americans Watch K-Dramas For The First Time
Most people argue that what makes Korean drama so popular outside of Korea is that its totally different from other TV series around the world. Korean dramas not only follow plots revolving around ancient Korean history, but also the modern dramas focus on the Confucian values Korean society is based on, such as respect for parents and elders, the value of studies and success. It is mostly noticeable in romantic dramas, where the love story is absolutely different from the passionate western style we’re familiar with. Koreans don’t tend to touch each other lightly, their kisses are restrained and they almost never screen sexual content. All this make females the major audience of Korean Dramas, as the fantasy of the perfect, good looking, respecting man leads many women to get attached to them.
Moreover, Korean dramas’ actors and actresses are ones of the most popular celebrities in Korea, and even worldwide- thanks to the Korean Wave. Therefore, a TV drama featuring one of those famous actors is most likely to be a huge success, and this is why much of the budget is spent on the appearance fees of top stars. In some cases, an actor may take up as much as 65% of the whole budget, while it is 20–30% in Japan and roughly 10% in the United States.
Descendents of the Sun – trailer
My Top 30 Korean Dramas
Music also plays an important role in Korean dramas. Original soundtracks (OST) are explicitly made for each and every series. Since the beginning of the 2000s, Korean pop singers started playing in Korean dramas for both the Drama’s and the singers’ boost in popularity, what lead the soundtrack to be sang by those singers as well. It’s easy to notice the music in Korean dramas, since they use full lyrical songs played during a specific scenes – a song for a romantic scene, a song for a sad scene etc. .
Korean dramas differ not only by the plots and music, but also in their playing. At the beginning, it may look odd for a non-Korean to watch, for the acting is somehow overacting and emphasizing; but, this is how Koreans behave in reality! Also, the Korean beauty standard is different from the western, and focuses on skinny tall figure, v-shaped jaw and big eyes. Makeup is also different, for Koreans tend to whiten themselves, highlight their eyes and lips. Korean beauty standard has it that even guys put on basic makeup.
Top 10 Korean Drama Series
Korean Drama industry is so world-widely successful, that many companies want to advertise their products in potentially-good dramas. Car industries and even cosmetic and cellphones companies– all are boldly advertised as the main actor uses his brand-new Samsung cellphone or the main actress put on her up-to-date fashionable lipstick. This is an example of how Korean market and Korean drama industry work hand in hand in order to boost the export of goods – goods of popular culture and also of Korean products and merchandise shown during dramas. Doing so, Korea delivers everything in one package, and keep the exportation empire running.
K-Drama 'IRIS 2' Press Conference Jeon Han (CC BY-SA 2.0)
About the author:
Tair Hamou, 24, a co-founder of K&I – a non-profit organization promoting Korean culture in Israel.
An International Relations and Korean Studies student at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem