Korean media look back on the K-drama scene in the first half of this year and raise expectations for the latter part.
In the first half of 2023, performances of JTBC, SBS, and MBC dramas were divided into two extremes. Unlike JTBC and SBS, which have achieved 4 consecutive hit weekend series, MBC has not left any impression on viewers.
JTBC took over the box office chart with “Reborn Rich”, SBS produced high-quality Fri-Sat series that viewers could trust and watch
Overcoming the slump, JTBC has been on a roll starting with the success of “Reborn Rich”, which aired at the end of last year. Continuing the momentum, the follow-up series “Agency”, “Divorce Attorney Shin”, and “Doctor Cha” were all successful. The ongoing drama “King the Land” even surpassed 10% rating after releasing only 6 episodes. Unlike other broadcasters that couldn’t show improvement even with weekday dramas, JTBC’s Wed-Thu series “The Good Bad Mother” received favorable reviews and achieved a rating peak of 12%.
SBS recorded ratings of more than 10% for all of its new productions this year such as “Payback”, “Taxi Driver 2”, and “Dr. Romantic 3”, once again certifying the quality of its Fri-Sat scenarios. “Revenant”, which is currently broadcasting, also dominated the rating and buzzworthy charts by presenting the collaboration of actress Kim Tae Ri and screenwriter Kim Eun Hee with interesting Korean-style elements.
Failing to impress viewers, MBC joined hands with Nam Goong Min and Lee Ha Nee to aim for a rebound in the second half of this year
The situation is different for MBC. MBC dramas are facing a disastrous reality. “The Forbidden Marriage”, “Kokdu: Season of Deity”, and “Joseon Attorney” all ended with poor viewership results within the 4% range. In particular, “Kokdu: Season of Deity” even fell below the 1% range, recording the worst rating in history. Taking a break for one month after the end of “Joseon Attorney”, MBC returned with “Numbers” but it has not shown any signs of significant success.
Suffering continuous failures, MBC plans to launch a full-scale rebound in the second half of 2023. They have scheduled to introduce a number of historical dramas, such as “Lovers”, “Flower That Blooms at Night”, and “The Story of Park’s Marriage Contract”, featuring star-studded casts, including Nam Goong Min, Lee Ha Nee, and Lee Se Young. Attention is high on whether MBC will recover its sluggish ratings by putting notable actors at the forefront.
Controversies over poor ending & directing skills… Many works with different completion levels
Although most weekday series have disappeared, many dramas still poured out on channels like ENA and through OTT platforms, making it hard for viewers to choose which ones to watch. In addition, there were significant gaps between the works’ completion levels. Many received criticism and negative reviews, such as presenting powerful starts but disappointing endings, lack of creativity and poor directing abilities.
Both “Crash Course in Romance” and “Doctor Cha” faced backlash regarding their endings. “Crash Course in Romance” was criticized for suddenly shifting the plot from focusing on the serial killer to the romance, while “Doctor Cha” was accused of glorifying extramarital affairs in its ending.
“Pandora: Beneath the Paradise”, which drew keen attention from its production stage as a work by Kim Soon Ok, ended amid netizens’ harsh reviews regarding Lee Ji Ah’s awkward acting, unreasonable developments, and meaningless ending.