From “Crash Landing On You” to “Squid Game”, the K-drama craze has spread to Africa

K-dramas have emerged as hip content worldwide via global OTT platforms and expanded its popularity beyond Asia and Europe.

As the global streaming giant Netflix launched a new market by providing free services in Kenya, Africa in 2021, famous French newspaper Le Monde recently reported that Africa also could not resist the K-drama craze.

In November of last year, a dance video with the concept of “Squid Game” was uploaded on the YouTube channel ‘Masaka Kids Afrikana’ and attracted great attention.

The video of African children dancing while recreating the scene of the “Red Light, Green Light” game in “Squid Game” recorded a huge number of views and was widely reported by the local media.

Earlier this year, “Business Proposal” starring Kim Se Jeong and Ahn Hyo Seop, and “My Name” led by Han So Hee, surprisingly entered the TOP 10 viewership ratings in Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, and Mauritius.

According to the Korea Creative Content Agency, the “Red Light, Green Light” game from “Squid Game” gained popularity and went viral through YouTube and TikTok in countries including Cameroon, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Congo.

Crash Landing on You,” starring Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin, who are now married, has also been released through Netflix Africa and is loved by locals. These series recorded five or more higher ratings than other Netflix contents available in South Africa, proving the impact of K-dramas regardless of location.

It is not surprising that the K-drama craze has expanded to Africa. The storytelling and visual elements of K-dramas, such as romantic scenarios, sensational scenes, soft lighting and lively colors, serve as contributors to exports,” said a reporter for KSociety, a magazine specializing in the Hallyu wave. 

The reporter explained, “Popular dramas are the backbone of K-dramas, and they are achieving high popularity in African countries, where telenovelas and feature-length soap operas are very popular.”

Unfortunately, the popularity of K-dramas is still limited to the privileged class. In Africa, where the gap between rich and poor is wide, K-dramas broadcast on major TV channels are limited and Netflix accessibility is ​​low.

Matthew Verbeguer, an expert on Korean pop culture, commented, “K-dramas are in the early stages of entering the African market. For continuous globalization, evolution such as eradication of racism is necessary.”

Meanwhile, according to the result of a survey done on 9 major Korean broadcasters released by the Korea Creative Content Agency in December 2020, 102 domestic broadcast formats achieved 204 exports to 65 countries around the world in the last decade. After 2016, the proportion of North America and Europe, including the US, UK, and France, which were almost barren, increased to 34%.


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