With their catchy soundtracks and high production values, Korean dramas have become ubiquitous on Netflix and other venues.
K-Dramas, like many forms of Hangul media, have become incredibly popular throughout the varying tides of the Korean Wave. Through streaming services and simply being sought out through the Internet, these shows are almost as popular as the country’s brand of pop music.
Though once a culture far more esoteric in the eyes of the West, South Korean culture and the media which it has produced have become far more ubiquitous. With their catchy soundtracks and high production values, Korean dramas have also become incredibly popular on Netflix and other venues in recent years.
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Korean Dramas Are Easy to Binge
Unlike a lot of American shows, Korean dramas are more short-term, with a series lasting for about 12 to 13 episodes in most cases. This makes catching up on a show a lot less of an arduous task than doing so for something on The CW, where 20+ episode seasons are not uncommon. Similarly, another difference to these Western shows is that many K-Dramas very rarely have more than a couple of seasons.
This allows viewers to binge, and in general, consuming the show’s a much different experience than having to watch all the way through shows like The Sopranos or Game of Thrones. It also allows projects to end on a high note, as opposed to being expanded beyond their expiration date.
Even more popular than K-Dramas is K-Pop music. These many times bubblegum-flavored ballads are all the rage with youth around the world, with bands like BTS, Red Velvet and Blackpink becoming synonymous with Korean and Western teens. To capitalize on this, many K-Dramas with more youthful or general audiences will feature hip and happening tunes for the kids to bop to.
These songs will play either in romantic and dramatic scenes or be alternated as the song played whenever an episode ends. A recent example of this is Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol, which fittingly features several soulful songs to go along with its musical premise. Some of the songs featured prominently throughout the episodes include “To Be With You” and “Melody” from Monsta X and Yun Ddan Yun Ddan. Soundtrack placements such as in this show can help boost the popularity of the music featured, or conversely, have the show gain a new audience by having a new hit song as part of its soundtrack.
While the Korean Wave has been continuing for several years now, it’s still a fairly recent phenomenon for some audiences, especially in the West. Beforehand, Korea was very seen as a cultural “other,” with its media, history and culture being nowhere near as ubiquitous as other non-Western countries.
Thus, with interest in Korean cultural exports growing, it only makes sense that many would seek out television, the most easily consumable cultural artifact, to immerse themselves in said culture. It helps that many Korean dramas, especially those available on Netflix and other similar streaming services, are historical in nature, making them just as educational as they are entertaining.
High-Quality Korean Drama
Perhaps the biggest reason why K-Dramas have seen an increase in viewership is simply that they’re just that good. This speaks not to just the writing quality of the shows themselves, but also the production values. There is a much higher, more cinematic quality to many of these shows, even for the ones that are the equivalent of network channel series’ in the United States. This Netflix-like quality to even the most mainstream of shows makes them seem much more interesting and well-made than something on The CW or Freeform.
While this could be seen a bit more in J-Dramas, K-Dramas are also slightly more willing to explore weird ideas and genres that American channels, such as ABC, might pass over. This allows for greater diversity in programming, which is ironic given the much more homogeneous casts. With more streaming services being created and with more of them featuring Korean media, it’s only a matter of time before Hangul television becomes as mainstream as what’s on AMC or HBO.
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