Why is it that newer K-drama stars feel lackluster compared to previous generations?

Despite improving technology and coverage, the public seems less swayed by the new generation of K-drama series and stars. 

The Hallyu wave has swept through Asia by storm with various hit K-dramas. Through different time periods, new generations of K-drama actors and actresses also appear, however, it seems that they didn’t manage to make as deep of an impression as the older ones. The question, however, is why. 

It seems that the changing nature of the Korean acting industry may have to do with the dwindling public interest. 

The generations of K-drama

Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, technology wasn’t quite developed with barely any internet, therefore, the TV is the sole source of entertainment for many. In addition, most major hits at the time, like “Star in My Heart”, “Medical Brothers”, “Autumn in My Heart”, “Stairway to Heavy”, “Winter Sonata”, and so on, were somber melodramas, with their unique charms despite the limited genre.

In addition, actors and actresses like Ahn Jae Wook, Lee Byung Hun, Song Hye Kyo, Bae Yong Joon, Choi Ji Woo, Son Ye Jin, Lee Young Ae… also scored massive successes, and became legendary stars. 

In the late 2000s and 2010s, people got introduced to the magic of the internet, leading to a wider variety of K-dramas, which now boasts a brighter and more hilarious atmosphere. Hits at the time include “Boys Over Flowers”, “My Love From The Stars”, “The Heirs”, “I Hear Your Voice”, “Descendants of The Sun”, “Goblin”, “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?, etc, all perfectly combine humor and drama, creating a new brand of Korean series and wooing audiences from all across asia. 

For this generation, we get to know superstars like Lee Min Ho, Park Shin Hye, Lee Jong Suk, Kim Soo Hyun, Song Joong Ki, Park Seo Joon, and so on, who all become familiar faces in various Asian countries. 

Now, we have entered the 2020s, where virtual technologies are growing stronger than ever, and contents spreaded from the TV to various online platforms, providing a variety never seen before. K-dramas are no longer just famous for the romantic genre, and instead boasts gripping thriller, crime, social commentaries, and furthermore, as seen in series like “Crash Landing On You”, “Penthouse”, “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay”, and “Squid Game”. However, attached to these series are mostly seasoned actors and actresses, instead of newer faces. 

In fact, while rising stars like Song Kang, Nam Joo Hyuk, Ahn Hyo Seop, Cha Eun Woo, Kim Yoo Jung, Kim So Hyun, Han So Hee, and more, are gaining huge attention, they haven’t managed to become total household names, and their series don’t hit as big as their seniors. 

According to many netizens, this may have to do with their abilities

The lack of acting skills and remarkable projects 

Of course, even in the 2000s, K-drama stars are famous for their unique and outstanding appearances. However, what really makes them memorable to the audience are the acting abilities and remarkable works. As technology wasn’t quite developed then, there’s no content of actors and actresses other than movies and dramas, therefore, the stars could dedicate their whole time to acting. 

However, at the moment, Korean actors and actresses can approach the audience through various other channels like SNS, variety shows, YouTube channels, and more. In addition, stars can now attract fans through aspects other than acting, like their personalities, humor, or simply just their appearances. As a result, the new generation has to divert their attention to other things as well, and acting isn’t their own path. 

This, however, led to a lack of acting ability, and eventually, lesser-quality actors and actresses.

For example, older stars like Son Ye Jin, Hyun Bin, Song Hye Kyo, So Ji Sub aren’t too familiar with SNS and other types of promotions. Instead, their own way of making a lasting mark was through their acting, leading their prevalence after decades in the industry. Even with the rise of newer generations, the records, awards, and prestige of these actors and actresses remain unparalleled. 

Meanwhile, with the numerous contents of the present, many people fall for new actors and actresses like Song Kang, Han So Hee, Nam Joo Hyuk, Cha Eun Woo from their looks, personalities, images, and not necessarily from their works. Visual fans would often lose interest quickly, leading to these new stars not having the same impact as their predecessors. 

In addition, talented yet unknown faces have a harder time gaining popularity, due to the density and extensive numbers of K-dramas being released everyday. There’s barely any new “national drama” like in the past, and less major launching pads for new talents. 

Hopefully, the next generation of stars will perfect their skills to deliver truly outstanding works, while lesser known faces can get their opportunities to shine. 

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