Why Watching Korean Dramas Are Such A Trend Right Now 

Have you been watching Korean dramas or hear of your friends watching them? Well, its a trend right now to watch Korean drama.

In recent years, the Korean Wave has had a lot of influence globally. Things such as Korean dramas, K-pop, and Korean culture have spread globally. I’m sure many of you have seen Korean shows or K-pop related stuff on your social media feed or Youtube page or Netflix recommendations.

In recent years, many Korean dramas have been available for international viewers on international streaming platforms, starting with Dramafever, Viki, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and many other sites. Korean dramas being available on international streaming platforms is not the only reason why Korean dramas are such a trend right now, but because it captivates the audiences’ attention. 

Korean Wave 

The term Korean Wave describes the increasing popularity of Korean culture globally. The rise of Korean dramas, aka Kdramas, is due to the Korean Wave in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The start of the Korean Wave in the early 1990s was due to the success of multiple television dramas such as What Is Love, which aired in 1997 and gained popularity and attention in China. Another television drama worth mentioning is Winter Sonata, which aired in 2003 in Japan and also gained popularity and attention. 

popular kdrama
Winter Sonata, popular 2000s Kdrama Image Source

The Korean Wave led to the success of Kdramas becoming popular overseas and also K-pop music. At first, it was just a regional phenomenon, just Asian countries like China and Japan being ‘hit’ by the Korean Wave, but as time went on and the rising popularity of the internet and social media, Kdramas started to gain popularity in Western countries, like Europe and the Americas. 

Impact of the internet and social media in the rising popularity of Korean Drama

The rising usage of social media and the internet is another factor that led to the popularity of K-dramas internationally. Many Kdrama productions consider this and take advantage of the internet.

For example, many Kdrama productions publicize and promote their dramas on Instagram or Facebook. The drama productions have their own Instagram, and Korean actors promote their dramas on their social media platforms. 

The Kdrama production companies and actors take advantage of social media to promote their works and dramas to the international audience. Social media apps like Instagram or Facebook are available to people all over the world. Therefore, instead of focusing on promoting their works in just Korea, social media can allow more audiences to be aware of Kdramas. 

For example, take a recent drama Hospital Playlist as an illustration. Their Instagram page is full of small clips from the drama, some funny behind-the-scenes clips, and promotional videos for the drama. This is a marketing strategy for production companies to promote their drama to international audiences through Instagram. The short clips draw the attention of the audience by showing key moments of the drama.

The rise of popularity in short clips and small videos helps to promote dramas. How many of you have gotten interested in a show or movie just because of a short clip or trailer you watched on your Instagram discover page or TikTok page? We live in a world of big data right now, so if you watch one video related to Kdramas, your social media page or internet will refer you to more Kdrama related content. 

Not only do Kdrama production companies promote their dramas on Instagram, but fan-made videos also help to promote dramas on Tiktok, Instagram, and other social media platforms of short videos. Many fan-made videos are of very high quality and edited content to catch the attention of passerby people.

I have seen many fan-edited videos on Tiktok and Instagram that have caught my attention more than drama trailers. This is because we live in a face-paced society, therefore, Tiktok videos catch the attention of more people than watching a 2-minute drama trailer. 

Netflix, Viki, Youtube, and more… 

With the popularity of Kdramas in recent years, came the rise of international streaming sites for Kdramas and made it easier for international viewers to watch. Streaming websites such as Dramafever (now non-existent), Viki, Netflix, Youtube, Amazon Prime, and many other sites started to become popular and provided viewers with a legal and stable website to watch dramas with subtitles in various languages. 

Before Dramafever, Viki, Netflix, and legal drama streaming sites were widely available, many Kdrama viewers would watch on third-party websites. Dramas on these websites would sometimes be low quality, bad quality subtitles, many pop-up advertisements, and it may not have the full episode of a drama. These third-party websites were not reliable, therefore when legal streaming services became more available and had more Kdrama options, viewers were able to enjoy their watching experiences. 

More Kdramas became popular in recent years, therefore leading them to be available on legal streaming platforms and led more watchers to Kdramas. Viki, one of the more popular streaming sites for Kdramas, has free services with some advertisements, and the basic plan costs $4.99 per month, but even with free access, you can watch Kdramas in high quality with subtitles in many languages. 

Another streaming service where many Kdramas are available is Netflix. As the Korean Wave had more influence on global entertainment, Netflix started airing and producing more Kdramas. In the recent 5 years, the Kdramas Netflix has produced includes Extracurricular, Itaewon Class, Kingdom, Love Alarm, Memories of the Alhambra, and many more.

These are only some that Netflix has exclusively produced, but they have streaming rights to many other Kdramas such as Crash Landing on You, It’s Okay Not To Be Okay, Sweet Home, Reply 1988, and many more. In 2021, Netflix had 209 million subscribers with viewers in many countries. Since Netflix already has so many subscribers, more watchers have access to Kdramas. 

popular kdrama
Crash Landing On You, 2020 popular Kdrama. Image Source

Many Different Plots and Genres in Korean Cinema

One of the things that I enjoy most about K-dramas is the different types of plots and genres. There are historical, romance, school-themed, humor, time-travel, horror, heart-warming, and many more. The variations of different genres have led viewers to become more interested in watching different dramas for different occasions. One of my favorite Kdramas is Descendants of the Sun. This Kdrama was released in 2016 and the plot covers many genres, action, romance, and melodrama. 

popular 2016 kdrama
One of my favorite Kdramas, Descendants of the Sun. Image Source

The drama covers the romance between a special forces soldier and a doctor. Most of the story takes place in a fictitious country of Uruk, where both characters meet again due to their professions. They both go through life and death events, meet other people, and eventually end up with each other. This drama is one of my favorites because of the action-packed storyline and the cringy and humorous lines from the characters. One of the other catching aspects of this drama is the catchy soundtracks. To this day, the soundtracks are still widely listened to. 

Another one of my favorites is It’s Okay Not to Be Okay. The plot covers the relationship and follows a psych ward caretaker with an autistic older brother and a children’s book writer with an antisocial personality disorder. All of the three characters work together and live together and heal each other’s emotional wounds. Each of them has its secrets and stories, therefore many mysteries unravel as the drama continues. 

I enjoyed this drama because it brings light to mental illnesses and the life of people who work in a psychiatric hospital. Even though some of the storylines are fictionalized and dramatized, but the story is still very touching and enjoyable. 

popular 2020 kdrama
2020 popular Kdrama, It's Okay Not to be Okay. Image Source

Another popular drama that many viewers have heard of is Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, one of my favorites too. This drama was adapted from a Chinese drama and novel, Scarlet Heart, which was internationally popular too. This drama incorporates many genres such as time travel, historical, fantasy, and romance. 

The plot covers the story of a 21st-century woman who travels back in time during a solar eclipse to the Goryeo Dynasty, in the year 941. She wakes up in the body of a royal princess and is surrounded by the royal family and the handsome princes. One of the reasons why this drama gained so much popularity is because of the storyline, actors, and catchy soundtracks. Many of the actors and soundtracks are sung by K-pop artists, which helped it gain more attention. 

Korean dramas are the trend right now. The spread of Korean dramas, culture, and K-pop is due to the Korean Wave. The rise of the use of social media helped to promote and spread Kdramas internationally. Streaming websites such as Netflix, Viki, and Youtube streamed dramas with subtitles in multiple languages with high quality. These platforms give viewers a better-watching experience. The variations and different types of genres and storylines have also increased viewers' interest in Kdramas. 

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