The Rise Of K-Drama: A Competitor For Hollywood?

Elliana Murillo

After the historic win of the 2019 film Parasite at the Oscars in 2020, K-drama has become a new, current interest to watch. Further evidence? The latest popularity of Netflix’s Squid Game. Elliana discusses the possibility of whether South Korea could be seen as Hollywood’s biggest competitor yet. 

South Korean TV dramas and films have recently been gaining global recognition. The occurrence of this genre appearing on screens have seen an escalated amount of viewers worldwide. The genre actually began in the early 60’s, but it wasn’t until the 2000’s that the growth of online video services provided the opportunity for K-dramas to reach a wider audience.

the fandom culture in Korea is immense- with fans worldwide

K-Drama itself has the potential to become something much larger. Due to K-Pop, the fandom culture in Korea is immense- with fans worldwide. Often K-Pop fans will delve into watching K-dramas, as K-Pop idols may also feature in these dramas as actors. An example is the 2016-2017 TV series Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth, (also on Netflix). It featured several talented K-Pop stars, such as band member BTS, V, SHINee’s Min Ho and Park Hyung Sik from ZE:A, which put the series  at the top of the TV popularity index.

Entertainment producer Alicia Rancilio mentions: “Netflix is investing $500 million to produce Korean content”. It may be that more K-dramas can be expected, or even another season of Squid Game.

What makes these shows so binge worthy is not only the storyline, but the Korean culture, lifestyle, and entertainment which have raised the country’s profile. Along with the famous faces seen on screen, their popularity increases as they branch out in the industry, either as an actor, singer or model. Korean model, Cha-Eun-Woo, debuted as an actor but is also part of the boyband group ASTRO. Squid Game’s HoYean Jung is a model and now rising actress. The entertainment industry in Korea is becoming increasingly popular everyday, as more stars are beginning to be recognised internationally.

Mainstream media has contributed largely to the success of the entertainment industry in South Korea. I have noticed the influence of this on people outside Korea, such as how the clothes styled by young teenagers to adults today are Korean inspired. K-Dramas are an influential source of this, as well as simply the social media account of the celebrity.

A fan of K-Drama, @downbadriri, took to Twitter to discuss the irony of many unacknowledged shows and tweeted: “asian media hardly get the proper attention they deserve, and when they do, ++”.  Recently, 26 Korean words are reported to be added to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Tourism has also risen, with countries from Asia like Japan, China, and the Philippines visiting Korea to see famous filming locations.

viewers can relate to the story and enjoy it, despite language and location barriers

K-Dramas tend to show a unique form of drama, and, whether it be critiquing society or a witty romance story, viewers can relate to the story and enjoy it, despite language and location barriers. After the huge sensations of K-Dramas, such as Crash Landing on You (2019), or films like Train to Busan (2016), there is a likelihood for more content like this to be produced, to appeal to a global audience in the coming future. Korean producers could then be expected to take on a global mindset when creating the next huge success piece.

Elliana Murillo

Featured Image courtesy of Prachatai via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image 1 courtesy of bts.bighitofficial via @instagram.com. No changes were made to this image..

In-article image 2 courtesy of netflixkr via @instagram.com. No changes were made to this image.

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