Why is K-drama so popular among Filipinos? Expert weighs in

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 07 2020 06:12 AM

Screengrab from YouTube

MANILA -- Aside from being an associate professor at University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, Erik Paolo Capistrano is also the principal investigator of UP's Korea Research Center (KRC) and is a long-time fan of K-drama.

And for him, there are many factors that make K-drama a hit, particularly among Filipinos. 

He believes that the success of K-drama is a result of not just the creativity of Korean entertainment companies, but also aggressive promotions and loyal fan bases. 

Below are the following points he shared in a recent webinar organized by the UP KRC aptly titled "Korea Landed On You," inspired by the popular K-drama "Crash Landing On You." 

REFRESHING, FORWARD-LOOKING CONTENT

Capistrano said the Korean entertainment companies have been effective in creating "new and disruptive" content, citing the recent hit "It's Okay To Not Be Okay" which tackled mental health among males. 

"It's very rare to see males expressing their suffering about mental health, and this drama has a big impact," he said.

He also observed how K-dramas give "a refreshing take on common themes" such as "Hospital Playlist," which has become one of his personal favorites.

"It's not the first time that a hospital drama has been broadcasted, but we see something like this and it's a very fresh take," he said. 

On top of creating binge-worthy content, Capistrano also praised Korean entertainment companies for being "forward-looking" and for being open to moving to different platforms and genres.

He mentioned the move of the big-budget "The King: Eternal Monarch" from television to Netflix, and "Backstreet Rookie," a web toon that became a live-action drama that is also available in Netflix and China's streaming website. 

"Korean dramas have been constantly evolving and being distributed in channels outside of the usual broadcast channels, and are made available to all of us," he said.

Capistrano went on: "You have several themes like in 'The World of the Married,' it's a very serious and heavy drama; you have your 'Crash Landing on You' which is a take on North Korean versus South Korean lifestyles; and you have current dramas like 'Do You Like Brahms' and 'Alice' that tackle topics that otherwise we do not know."

"The point is that regardless of the topic or the theme of the drama, they have a very robust system behind it that enables it to be executed in such a way that it can communicate to us, to various audiences."

PROMOTIONS, FAN BASE

On top of this "very robust system" is the aggressive promotions of K-dramas, similar to what is done with Korean music talents.

Capistrano said one of Korea's big channels, KBS, has YouTube channels dedicated to specific content, effectively addressing the needs of their audiences. 

He also pointed out the continuous stream of content not only from new talent, but also from seasoned Korean actors. 

"They're always constantly churning out new dramas," he said.

Tapping into fan bases has also been effective for Korean entertainment companies, said Capistrano, as they have guaranteed viewers in shows starring K-pop acts.

"We see more and more K-pop idols becoming actors and actresses... You have very loyal fan bases to keep everything going," he said. 

SHORTER PROGRAMS

Another factor that may have drawn Filipinos to K-dramas is its length, according to Capistrano.

A typical Korean series spans 16 to 24 episodes, as opposed to popular local shows that last for months, or even years.

"We have this penchant where if a Philippine drama hits, you extend it as long as you can, as opposed to Korean dramas that have a definitive beginning or ending. You know you're only going for 16 or 20 or 24 episodes. It's easy to schedule your time around it if you're a viewer," he said.

"With Philippine dramas, sometimes it gets so dragging along the way in an effort to maximize things, but the story suffers," he added. "So in that sense, you cannot blame Filipinos for preferring some other content to watch." 

Watch Capistrano talk about the popularity of K-drama in the Philippines starting at the 34:02 mark in the video below:

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