November 3, 2023
With winter approaching and the allure of great TV, there are a plethora of Korean dramas to look forward to. If you’ve yet to dip your toe into K-drama, Sarimah Ibrahim is an expert when it comes to Asian culture; a native bilingual English and Malay speaking international screen actor, television host and broadcaster, she has her finger on the pulse when it comes to Asian culture. In this article she examines the meteoric rise of Korean drama.
Sarimah Ibrahim is poised to continue the legacy of Malaysian stars in the international film industry and in this piece she examines the reasons why the world is captivated by Korean film and TV.
In a world dominated by streaming giants like Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+, and Disney+, the realm of Korean content is experiencing a renaissance. Squid Game’s meteoric rise to stardom in a socially distanced world has paved the way for a global K-drama phenomenon and today you’re much more likely to bump into someone on the street who’s been charmed by the captivating allure of Korean dramas.
The magnetic pull of these shows, their multi-layered appeal, and the resulting addictive nature are no accident when it comes to captivating international audiences. What sets K-dramas apart is their meticulous attention to detail. Popular musicians craft bespoke soundtracks that editors carefully match with scenes, elevating the viewing experience to new heights. Each drama typically boasts a singular director and screenwriter who work in tandem. This synchronised approach to production allows for real-time adjustments to plotlines and character arcs based on audience feedback and ratings. The result is a dynamic and ever-evolving storytelling experience.
A noteworthy feature of K-dramas is their dedication to representation, with approximately 90% of scriptwriters being women. The industry showcases its own rock stars, including prolific talents like the Hong Sisters, known for “Hotel Del Luna” and “Alchemy of Souls,” and Kim Eun-sook, the creative genius behind hits like “Descendants of the Sun” and “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God.” These creators enjoy celebrity status on par with the actors in their dramas, reflecting the immense impact of their work”.
K-dramas are not afraid to tackle societal norms and address cultural stigmas head-on. While they celebrate values like generational respect, romantic fidelity, and unwavering love for family and friends, modern K-dramas fearlessly confront issues such as mental health conditions, sexism, and homophobia. The evolution of the industry is also evident in Netflix exclusives, which afford creators the artistic freedom to delve into themes of violence and sexuality.
An example of K-drama pushing boundaries is “The World of the Married,” the most-watched cable drama of all time. This series fearlessly tackles controversial subjects and graphic depictions, sparking discussions and raising eyebrows in the process.
In the age of streaming, Korean dramas are not just entertainment but a cultural phenomenon that reflects the evolving tastes and sensitivities of a global audience. With a winning combination of compelling narratives, memorable soundtracks, and a commitment to addressing societal taboos, K-dramas are here to stay, captivating the world one viewer at a time.
Why are they so popular?
K-dramas are celebrated for their compelling storytelling: well-structured narratives that span various genres, including romance, mystery, fantasy, and historical drama. Their engaging plots keep viewers enthralled from start to finish.
Whether it’s a romantic love story or a thrilling crime saga, K-dramas offer a wide array of themes to cater to all tastes. There’s something for everyone, making it easy to find a series that resonates with your preferences.
K-dramas introduce viewers to relatable and well-developed characters that are easy to connect with. This emotional connection keeps audiences invested in their journeys.
They are known for their high production values, featuring stunning cinematography, intricate set designs, and meticulously crafted costumes. The attention to detail elevates the visual appeal of these shows.
K-dramas are famous for eliciting a wide range of emotions from laughter to tears, often within the same episode. This emotional rollercoaster keeps viewers engaged and invested in the storylines.
Many K-dramas showcase strong, independent female characters who defy traditional stereotypes. These women serve as role models and are central to the narrative.
The scenic backdrops of K-dramas, ranging from bustling cityscapes to tranquil countryside vistas, add to the visual charm. These picturesque settings create an immersive experience for viewers.
K-dramas offer a window into Korean culture, customs, and traditions, allowing viewers to gain a deeper appreciation for Korean life.
They excel in portraying a bittersweet wholesomeness in all relationships, be it familial, sibling, friendship, or even between generations. They depict the complexities and joys of interpersonal bonds.
K-dramas have garnered a diverse and dedicated international fanbase, thanks to subtitles available in multiple languages. This global reach has contributed to the wave, with notable hits like “Crash Landing on You” and “Squid Game.”
K-dramas offer a unique blend of romance, storytelling, and exploration of complex themes that resonates with viewers worldwide. These shows have evolved over the years, embracing progressive storytelling, and empowering characters, making them a global sensation.
Whether you seek an emotional escape, cultural enrichment, or simply a captivating story, K-dramas have something special to offer.
Here’s a list of 35 best Korean dramas whilst we wait for season 2 of Squid Game.