2021 has been a breakthrough year for Korean TV series.
Despite the influence of the pandemic, 2021 is still a successful year for Korea as the country boasts impressive achievements in arts, culture and entertainment. From music to cinema and TV shows, the global audiences are paying more attention to Korean productions.
Notably, high-quality K-dramas are not only broadcast on public networks in Korea but also through international streaming services and attract a massive number of viewers all around the world. In this article, let’s take a look at the biggest strides of Korean TV series this year.
Most popular genres: Survival and Revenge
Perhaps due to the fact that the world is facing the most hazardous infectious virus in the 21st century, Korean producers want to release dramas with related themes such as survival, disaster, crime thriller, and so forth. Perhaps producers all realize that the audience is in need of something to help them relieve stress and escape the boring, disappointing real-life atmosphere when the whole world is struggling because of the pandemic, so this makes series of these genres go viral more easily.
Most outstanding 2021 K-dramas of these genres include Vincenzo, Taxi Driver, The Devil Judge, My Name, The Penthouse: War in Life (season 2 and 3), and Reflection of You, Sisyphus: The Myth, Happiness, Dark Hole and most notably Squid Game. These series are not only compelling in terms of storylines and conveyed messages, but also give the audience enjoyable and entertaining watching experiences.
New streaming platforms that help K-dramas reach the world
Aside from Netflix, Korean dramas are now available to watch internationally on various OTT platforms namely Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, iQIYI, Viu, Rakuten Viki, Kocowa,… instead of only showing through domestic TV networks like before.
More streaming services are also getting launched, typically Kakao TV in 2020 which has attracted a large number of subscribers thanks to the popularity of A Love So Beautiful, Lovestruck In The City, or Love Revolution.
Keeping up with the trend, Apple TV+ also started purchasing broadcasting and distributing rights to Korean shows and movies, starting with Dr. Brain, followed by the Oscars-winning film Parasite. Next year, Lee Min Ho’s Pachinko and Kang Daniel‘s Rookies are also getting released on this platform.
Rising stars become globally famous
Breaking records with sky-high viewership and worldwide viral content have made Squid Game a cultural phenomenon. The drama not only brought in huge revenue for the drama producer but also was the perfect stepping stone for talented young stars.
First, we must mention actress and model Jung Ho Yeon. After her first appearance in Squid Game, her name has risen to the world level thanks to the extremely attractive and profound role of Kang Sae Byeok. Jung Ho Yeon has 23.73 million followers on instagram, surpassing IU to become the 8th most followed celebrity in Korea. Besides Sae Byeok, the character Ji Yeong (played by Lee Yoo Mi) also amazes and delights viewers. Male police officer Wi Ha Joon also made the world go crazy with his coolness and bravery. Besides, foreign actor Anupam Tripathi as Ali also received offers with extremely generous salaries. Without a doubt, all eyes are on these artistic geniuses with their upcoming projects. Accepting a role in the upcoming drama “Bad And Crazy”, Wi Ha Joon will definitely make fangirls fall in love.
And after all, what always makes viewers praise is the talent of bright stars like Kim Seon Ho, or idol actors like SF9’s Rowoon and VICTON’s Byung Chan.
National content – globally viral
In addition to the suspenseful, tense scenes, Squid Game is essentially a series revolving around Korean culture in previous decades. You will probably realize that the drama is about folk games, childhood songs and gifts from childhood in Korea.
After the drama became famous, the whole world got to know Korean culture and traditional values. This is a step beyond expectations because the producer of Squid Game has successfully popularized the traditional values of their country to the world.
Softly sweet dramas like Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha and Racket Boys also give a great picture of the Korean countryside, while D.P. and Melancholia portray the dark corners and heartbreaking truths of people’s daily lives.
In addition, historical dramas have featured stories as well as Korean historical origins and myths such as in My Roommate Is A Gumiho or River Where The Moon Rises and Lovers of the Red Sky. These captivating stories not only make young Koreans more interested in their country’s history, but also successfully make their culture reach the world.
Anti-Heroes and the concept of Dystopia
At the same time, 2021 is a year of anti-heroes, people who aren’t good but don’t give up in the face of hardship and occasionally fight for what’s right.
You can clearly understand this concept through Song Joong Ki’s role as Vincenzo Cassano, he is also cruel and does not hold back against the wicked to protect the righteous and gentle people. Or the role of Kim Do Gi played by Lee Je Hoon or Kang Yo Han by Ji Sung are also good examples. Do you admit that we are really fascinated by these roles, right?
Dystopia is the concept of a non-real world in the future, and in 2021, dramas set in Dystopia seem quite dark and melancholy. Typically, ‘Happiness‘ is set against the Zombie pandemic in Korea or a chaotic and fanatical world like in Hellbound or The Devil Judge.
In Sisyphus: The Myth, we also witness a world turned upside down like never before, but these masterpieces also give us a new perspective on cruel reality.
After reading this post, you might have a better understanding of why Korean dramas are becoming more and more developed, right? Fans must respect not only the efforts of the talented Korean actors, but also the filmmakers’ limitless creativity and, notably, their swift reaction to the pandemic.