Before BTS formed its ARMY, before Parasite won Oscars, the Hallyu wave swept the late 20s when the Asian financial crisis made Korea land into enormous debts from the International Monetary Fund
Korean dramas are taking the world by storm for quite some time now and the latest addition to this frenzy is Squid Game. Set on a dystopian premise where debtors are made to play a deadly children’s game to win a huge amount of money, the series attained attention with its brutal, stark nature that resonated globally. The series takes the characters through physical and psychological twists and turns with its highly graphic adaptation giving viewers the experience of an edge-of-seat thriller.
With 111 million viewers already, Squid game is definitely Netflix’s biggest launch, but this is not the platform’s first success earner. There are several other web shows that have fuelled the Korean wave globally and squid Game is just a pawn in the country’s ambition to let the world know its artistic side.
The Korean wave post its financial crisis in 1997
Before BTS formed its ARMY, before Parasite won Oscars, the Hallyu aka Korean entertainment industry’s popularity swept the world in the late 20s when the Asian financial crisis made Korea land into enormous debts from the International Monetary Fund that was used to restore its depleting foreign currency waves. This is when President Kim Dae-Jung revamped the Ministry of Culture and funds were used to propagate Korean talents all over that that the entertainment industry could power its reeling industry once for all.
Even other ministries like food, tourism, foreign affairs invested in the entertainment industry. Today the Korean government spends $500 million annually for the promotion of its art and culture. Gradually with Korean pop culture, the interest had unrolled to its food and lifestyle creating more opportunities for tourism. Hallyu has now become a global rage. Hence Korean dramas became successful in Asia, Latin America, and the US even in the days of Viki and DramaFever subscription.
Popularity of ‘K-dramas’
‘K-dramas’ created a niche for themselves and perfect romantic storytelling. Even with its predictable storyline, characterisation, engaging conversations, it trapped its fans to binge-watching each show. The stellar acting of the cast, visual appeal, delectable fashion choices of the characters, use of food troupe is some of the reasons why people find K-Dramas sop enticing.
Moreover, the plots are not restricted to the lead characters, they spread to supporting characters like friends and neighbors of the mains, leading to interesting subplots. Even for the thrillers, they are taut and edgy and are finite i.e end with 16 to 20 episodes without keeping the audience in suspense dragging it for 10 seasons.
Moreover, the shows deal with diverse topics and start engaging and important conversations. For example, Train to Busan saw Yoon Eun-Hye and Gong Yoo dealt with subjects like the reversal of gender roles, in a sensitive manner. In Academy Awards winning ‘Parasite’ class structure, elitism, poverty was dealt with in a way no other directors have ventured on with metaphors and symbols.
Movies like Pinocchio, I Can Hear Your Voice in 2013 and 2014 deals with revenge-angst and gives realistic insights about legal proceeding and trial by media for the sake of TRP’s. In 202, ‘It’s Okay Not To Be Okay’ dealt with challenges in parenting and mental health. All the shows talked about relevant issues that shroud the millennials.
In an urge to spread their culture some of the shows also tapped on Korean history, mythology. We got to know about Korean goblins called ‘Dokkabe’ in Gong Yoo’s Guardian: The Lonely God, exploring the fantasy genre. The supernatural fantasy dramas like Hotel Del Luna, The Tale of The Nine-Tailed Fox were quite addictive and unique.
So if you cannot get enough of the Squid Game join the Hallyu mad-wagon binging on other Korean titles available on Netflix that has invested 700 million in the Korean entertainment industry for five years without any regrets. Major hits are yet to come.