With the help of the Internet and social media, the proliferation of Korean media has managed to reach new heights. The significant increase in global viewership also means an increase in awareness and interest in Korean matters, from language to culture and tradition.
If we wish to pinpoint their prominent cultural vehicles, we’ll, of course, need to delve into the Korean dramas. With their exciting plots, dynamic characters and talented crew, the arrival of the Hallyu wave was only imminent. Whether you’re a sucker for comedy, romance or thriller, they have it all. We’ll delve into some of the classics that pushed for the spread of Korean media and contemporary ones that have maintained its proliferation.
Prior to the 2000s, Korean dramas were largely produced for local consumption. What spearheaded the Hallyu wave was the exportation of these entertainment media. With Japan and Taiwan being the primary consumers, the positive response encouraged an increase in money and effort invested into the production of these dramas.
Winter Sonata (2002)
Without spoiling much, Winter Sonata features our two main protagonists, Joon Sang and Yoo Jin, who were in a brief relationship. This heartbreaking series unravels a fragile love that fell apart because of unprecedented circumstances and white lies, to only have the two cross paths again a decade later, for a hopeful rebirth.
Winter Sonata was credited as the drama that spearheaded the second wave of the Hallyu Wave, extending its presence all the way to the Philippines. As the first drama imported, the image of South Korea improved, especially in Japan. This was especially important as the relationship between the two countries was volatile and tense. It was received so well that there were anime and musical adaptations made based on the same drama. If you want to have a taste of exceptional Korean dramas, you may want to start with Winter Sonata!
The Second Generation
This period not only saw an increase in Korean drama exportation but also the birth of online services and social networking sites. These avenues gave them greater accessibility to not only the region but also the international market.
Boys Over Flowers (2009)
Another revolutionary drama, Boys Over Flowers is another must-watch. A series based on the popular Japanese manga, it features a working-class girl who stumbled into the lives of a group of wealthy boys in her school. Punctuated with humorous scenes, this series dives into a love that goes against societal class. It’s a classic Romeo and Juliet story with a contemporary spin.
If you’ve wondered how metrosexuality in Korea started, you have the answer right here. After the show aired, there was an increased emphasis on grooming and many South Korean men welcomed cosmetics and traditionally feminine looks and clothing, which will later concretise South Korea’s position in the fashion world.
Social Media Era
In the last decade, social media has proven itself as a force to be reckoned with. Accessibility to entertainment media has reached its pinnacle and a large portion of its viewership comprises international audiences.
Descendants Of The Sun (2016)
One of the critically acclaimed Korean dramas, Descendants Of The Sun explores the relationship of Captain Yoo Shin and Dr Kang. The harsh realities and differing set of ideologies pose as challenging obstacles that the couple needs to overcome.
Descendants Of The Sun sets the revival of the melodramatic and sensational nature of Korean dramas, which was seen to be at a decline. This series not only revived the wave, but it also brought in economic tourism, with direct and indirect economic effects of the show said to hover above 1 trillion won. The show was so popular, it prompted adaptations in Vietnam, China and the Philippines.
Locally, there was also a spike in the number of men who wish to enlist in South Korea’s special forces units during their conscription.
As you’ve seen, Korean dramas are much more than their compelling stories. They are one of the vehicles that can quickly spread Korean culture and tradition outside of their geographical limits. To dive further into all things Korean, gain accessibility by learning its language! At Sejong Korean Language School, you will be learning the Korean language taught by highly qualified native Korean teachers. As Singapore’s #1 Korean Language school, we offer a structured curriculum for all of our classes, from Korean language course for beginners all the way to further advanced levels. With Sejong Korean Language School, you can now lose yourself in the compelling narratives and gorgeous scenes without having to worry about subtitles (or the absence of it)!