Korean drama (Hangul: 한국드라마), k-drama for short, refers to televised dramas, in a miniseries format, produced in South Korea. Many of these dramas have become popular throughout Asia, with growing interest in other parts of the world. K-dramas have contributed to the general phenomenon of the Korean wave, known as Hallyu (Hangul: 한류), and also "DramaFever" in some countries. King of Baking, Kim Takgu received over 50% of ratings, while Moon Embracing the Sun received over 40%.
Flagship Korean dramas typically run from 16 to 20 episodes. Occasionally, historical epics stretch for 50 to 100 episodes, in a single season. Sometimes, if a show is popular, networks extend them. Goong in 2006, for example, was extended from 20 to 24 episodes. Since each episode usually runs for about 60 minutes, one of the shorter 16-episode K-dramas might consume about 960 minutes of air-time. In comparison, BBC's 1995 Pride and Prejudice takes 330 minutes. The American mini-series Lonesome Dove takes 384 minutes and Noble House takes 376 minutes.
The broadcast time for flagship dramas is 22:00 to 23:00, with episodes on two consecutive nights: Mondays and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and weekends. Different dramas appear on each of the nationwide networks, Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS), Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and on the cable channels, Joongang Tongyang Broadcasting Company (jTBC), Channel A, tvN, and Orion Cinema Network (OCN).
The 19:00 to 20:00 evening time slot is usually for daily dramas that run from Monday through Friday, and weekends. Dramas in these slots are in the telenovella format, rarely running over 200 episodes. Unlike the American soap operas, these daily dramas are not also scheduled during the day-time. Instead, the day-time schedule often includes reruns of the flagship dramas. The night-time dailies can achieve very high ratings. For example, the evening series Temptation of a Wife peaked at 40.6%, according to TNS Korea.
Korean dramas have also spread overseas with several on demand streaming services which legally license Korean dramas. For example, the company DramaFever, which was founded in 2009 during the Hallyu Wave, reports a catalog of over 13,000 episodes.
Categories of prime-time drama
Flagship dramas fall into 2 main categories. The first category includes stories set in modern South Korea. Popular examples are Winter Sonata and Boys Over Flowers. Milieus range from restaurants (Pasta), to a mayor's office (City Hall), to the Blue House (City Hunter). Plots range from serious, 49 Days, to comical, Couple Fantasy. Most emphasize family, as in Stars Falling From the Sky. Many, if not most, follow the efforts of a young woman trying to climb out of a hole, In Soon Is Pretty being a clear example. The hole sometimes is the result of her own machinations, as in Coffee Prince. Shorter K-dramas like those mentioned in this paragraph tend to be single-threaded, with a conventional design, not unlike a novel: set-up, suspenseful body, climax and denouement. Because of their length, many Korean dramas do not start in medias res. Indeed, in many, the set-up (Act I) occurs when the hero and heroine are children. Missing You exemplifies this.
The other main category of prime-time drama includes dramatizations of Korean history, such as Queen Seondeok. These Costume dramas, also known as Sageuk (Korean: 사극), typically involve very complex story lines with elaborate costumes, sets, and special effects. Martial arts, sword fighting, and horsemanship are frequently a big component, as well.
There are a growing number of dramas somewhere in between the modern and historical. These tend to be single-threaded like the first category but have many of the trappings of the second. Some, like Sungkyunkwan Scandal or The Moon Embracing the Sun, have a firm historical setting but have little to do with historical events or persons. Arang and the Magistrate, while set in the past, is completely imaginary and based on folklore. A few recent dramas, like Rooftop Prince, exploit both past and present by injecting time travel into the storyline. Queen In-hyun's Man goes full circle. The hero, from the Joseon era, goes to a library in modern day Seoul to consult a history book so that he can solve a problem in his own era.
One reviewer characterizes Korean dramas as having excellent production quality, well-drawn but stereotypical characters, and intelligent scriptwriting. Currently, many, if not most, of the screenwriters are women, notable among them, the Hong sisters, Hong Mi Ran and Hong Jung Eun. In The King of Dramas, a k-drama about making k-dramas, the heroine is a screenwriter.
The first Korean drama to gain widespread popularity in Japan was Winter Sonata, which was broadcast on the NHK satellite channel NHK BS2 in 2003. The program was aired twice in the same year due to high demand from viewers. NHK even hosted a classical concert featuring Winter Sonata's melodic tunes performed by Korean musicians. Actor Bae Yong Joon, who played the male lead in Winter Sonata, is known as "Yon- sama".
Some have claimed that Korean drama has improved relations between the two countries as more Japanese people became interested in Korean culture. Greater exposure to all things Korean, including language, cuisine, and history not only positively influenced the perception of Koreans among Japanese people, but also relieved some of the antagonism many Koreans had felt towards Japan. The increased interest in Korean culture has promoted Japanese tourism to South Korea and many tours geared towards fans of Winter Sonata and other Korean drama programs have attracted thousands of visitors to the country. Conversely, the series Iris had several pivotal scenes shot in Akita, Japan, which led to an increase of Korean tourists in that part of Japan.
Former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi has been known to be a big fan of Choi Ji Woo, known as "Jiwoo-hime" or "Princess Ji-woo" in Japan. The former Japanese first lady Miyuki Hatoyama, wife of former prime minister Yukio Hatoyama, has often proclaimed her love of Korean drama, even claiming that it is the secret to her youthful appearance.
In 2006, South Korean programs on Chinese government TV networks accounted for more than all other foreign programs combined.
Korean dramas have become popular in India, particularly in Manipur where Hindi films and TV serials were banned in 2000. As a result, local television stations began broadcasting subtitled Korean dramas instead. Many young people in Northeast India Mizoram Nagaland and Kolkata Tamilnadu copy the hairstyles and clothes of the Korean actors. Now-a-days they are popular in Tamil Nadu, Assam,Orissa, Mumbai, New Delhi,Bangalore,Andhra Pradesh and Kerala too.Korean Dramas are also popular among K-Pop & Anime fans.
When the popular drama of Dae Jang Geum was on the air in Thailand, Korean food started gaining wide popularity in Thailand. Due to lop-sided nature of entertainment exports favoring South Korea, the Thai government requested increased introduction of popular Thai films to South Korean media outlets. This led to the signing of an Agreement of Cultural Cooperation between the two countries in August 2004.
Popular Korean dramas have become a rising hit in Singapore in the recent years. Prime 12 (now known as Suria) originally aired some Korean dramas in 1996 on a weekly basis (mostly on a Sunday or selected weekdays) when they showed Sandglass. Since 2001, Korean dramas are now shown on Chinese language channel MediaCorp Channel U on a daily basis. Here are a detailed List of programmes broadcast by MediaCorp Channel U.
The top 30 popular Korean dramas in Singapore including "May Queen," "Rooftop Prince," "Faith," "The King 2hearts," "A Gentleman's Dignity," "My Girlfriend is a Gumiho." over the recent years.
Asian dramas, including Korean, have become hits in the 2000s. GMA Network has aired a score of dramas, including "Full House," "All About Eve," "My Name is Sam Soon," "Stairway to Heaven," "Jewel in the Palace," "Endless Love I: Autumn in My Heart", "Endless Love II: Winter Sonata," "Endless Love III: Summer Scent," "Jumong," "Moon Embracing the Sun," "Dong Yi," "Queen Seon Deok," "Temptation of Wife," "Angel's Temptation," "Big Thing," "Secret Garden," "Playful Kiss.," "Attic Cat," "Love Story in Harvard," "Baker King," "Bright Girl," "Lie To Me," "Coffee Prince," "Hwang Ji Ni," "Sassy Girl:Chun-Yang," "Shining Inheritance," "The Legend," "Witch Yoo-Hee", "IRIS", Queen In Hyun's Man (a.k.a. "Queen and I"), "My Daughter Seo-young", "Unexpected You" and "The Innocent Man" among others, according to Joey Abacan, GMA Network vice president for Program Management.
ABS-CBN has aired a number of Koreanovelas, including "Marrying a Millionaire," "101st Proposal," "Green Rose," "Memories of Bali," "A Love to kill," "Boys Over Flowers," "City Hunter," "Dream High," "Equator Man," "first love," "Forbidden Love," "Glory Jane" "Heartstrings." "Helena's Promise," "He's Beautiful," "I am Legend," "Lovers in Paris," "Lovers," "Marry me Mary," "My Girl," "My Fair Lady," "My Girlfriend is a Gumiho," "My Princess," "Oh Feel Young," "Only You," "Perfect Match,""Secret Love:Sungkyunkwan Scandal" "Princess Hour," "Pure Love," "Save the Last Dance for Me," "Something About 1%,"Spring Waltz," "Stained Glass," "Which Star are you from","A Gentleman's Dignity", "Rooftop Prince", "To The Beautiful You", "I Miss You"(a.k.a Missing You), "A Promise of a Thousand Days", "Love Rain", "Ohlala Couples", "That Winter,The Wind Blows" and "Gu Family Book (a.k.a The Love Story of Kang Chi)"
Abacan says Filipinos love Koreanovelas because they can relate to the stories: "Filipinos love drama and stories that we can relate to. Most of the time, the Korean dramas are quite escapist and moving. Aside from the touching plotlines, the production is really a visual experience of places that most of us are not accustomed to seeing,".
Since Korean drama programming is publicly available in areas with ethnic Koreans, k-dramas are obviously popular in the United States in those regions.
In November 2008, Netflix began offering several Korean dramas as part of its video selection. In August 2009, DramaFever began offering free subtitled video streaming service, with video advertisements, in the United States. As of May 2010[update], Korean dramas began airing on a DramaFever channel on Hulu.
Viki streams most of the popular dramas from the last few years, with subtitles in many languages. It also streams English-subtitled versions of the most popular current dramas within a few days of their broadcast in South Korea.
Additionally, Korean dramas are available at online DVD retailers. Some Korean dramas, however, are not available for region 1 (North America) encoding and NTSC video format. Amazon offers streaming of Winter Sonata for a fee.
Watching films or TV dramas from South Korea is a serious offence in North Korea. In 2013, around 80 people were publicly executed for watching smuggled TV shows from the capitalist South.
References in other media
The format was parodied in MADtv with Bobby Lee and Korean American guest-stars Sung Kang and Cathy Shim. Korean drama clichés also appear in a comedic way, including the camera set-up style, constant replayed clips, melodramatic music, and the tragic love triangle. The MADtv parody also features exaggerated English "subtitles", which are relevant to the plot, but do not actually translate the Korean words spoken that are actually irrelevant to the plot, satirizing the incorrect and exaggerated subtitles found on some foreign-language films and TV shows.
- Chitransh, Anugya. "'Korean Wave' takes Indian kids in its sway". The Times of India. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
- (Korean)박세연 (13 February 2009). "'아내의 유혹' 40.6% 자체 최고 시청률 '기염'". Newsen. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
- Eckersley, M (ed.) 2009, Drama from the rim: Asian Pacific drama book, 2nd ed., Drama Victoria, Melbourne. p56.
- Eckersley, M (ed.) 2009, Drama from the rim: Asian Pacific drama book, 2nd ed., Drama Victoria, Melbourne. p57.
- Winter Sonata Fever in Japan. Uniorb.com. Retrieved on 2011-08-15.
- Inoue, Chihiro (13 April 2009). "Spy drama pulls S.Koreans to Akita". The Japan Times. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
- (Korean) 이해리 (4 February 2009). "아리가또∼ 아이리스". Donga. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
- "Akita sees huge increase in Korean tourists". Japan Probe. 16 January 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
- [dead link]
- Faiola, Anthony (31 August 2006). "Japanese Women Catch the 'Korean Wave'". The Washington Post.
- Sunita, Akoijam (4 April 2012). "Korea Comes to Manipur". Caravan Magazine. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
- "India's northeast mesmerized by South Korea". Agence France-Presse. 4 April 2012. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
- Royal Thai Embassy, Seoul || Home > Thailand – ROK Relations > Bilateral relations. Thaiembassy.or.kr. Retrieved on 2011-08-15.
- Korean Dramas Continue to Captivate the Philippines
- Knock it off: Global treaty against media piracy won't work in Asia Jeff Yang, SFGate, 11 November 2009.
- North Korea 'publicly executes 80 people' for watching South Korean films and distributing pornography
- North Korea 'Publicly Executed 80 People,' South Korean Paper Reports
- North Korea 'publicly executes 80 people'