In this era of so-called K-content sweeping the world, Korean dramas are enjoying unprecedented popularity. Such huge popularity also carries with it a major influence around the world. Let’s learn about the influence of Korean dramas and programs. ..............................................................................................................Ed
Korean contents are gaining huge popularity worldwide. K-content is not only ranked first in the global popularity ranking of Netflix, a global OTT platform, but is also drawing enthusiastic responses from overseas markets. Among the numerous offerings of K-content, which are popular for luxurious visual beauty and their narrative, ST would like to talk about ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo, The Glory, Hangout with Yoo, and Hospital Playlist. What do these pieces of K-content have in common? They could be said to have a positive impact on societal discourse worldwide.
The recently broadcasted Netflix original series, The Glory, showed an example of such phenomena. After the premiere of this drama about revenge of a peer violence victim, the discourse around real-life instances of bullying and peer violence reignited. For example, in Thailand, a movement to expose offenders of peer violence erupted after the show became so popular. With the so-called the ‘School Violence Me-too Movement’, a controversial topic not only in Thailand but also in Korea, Thai netizens have begun to expose the damage from school bullying they witnessed or experienced firsthand by uploading a hashtag ‘#TheGloryTai’ to their SNS. In the process, Ohm Pawat, a Thai rising youth star actor who starred in Dew, a Thai remake of the Korean film, Bungee Jumping of Their Own, apologized after being embroiled in a controversy that he bullied a student with autism in middle school. He acknowledged the controversy, saying, “I’ve played a few pranks that I didn’t mean to offend. I’ll never forgive myself. I apologize to everyone who was affected by childhood pranks.” The drama, based on ‘peer violence,’ a phenomenon not restricted to Korea, was considered words of comfort for victims who wanted the perpetrator’s sincere apology for the pain they caused, rather than monetary compensation.
The popular drama, ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo’, in the second half of 2022 also played a part. Woo Young-woo, a popular K-drama about a young rookie attorney on the autism spectrum defending several large cases on behalf of a large law firm, received keen attention, recording a high of 17.5 percent viewership at its peak. Through the drama, non-autistic people recognized the hardships of the disabled in their daily lives from autistic people’s view, and provided an opportunity for many to reexamine the stereotypes and biases of their own. The episodes of the drama point out the contradictions of our society one by one, pointing out the ‘bias’ and ‘discrimination’ that viewers usually have but do not feel that way, making viewers reflect on themselves and see them for what they are. Moreover, more viewers had become interested in autism spectrum disorder, which they had only seen with prejudice, significantly contributing to improving awareness of the disabled in our society.
The entertainment show, Hangout with Yoo, which pursued a free format, gave cultural artists a chance. ‘Bang-gu-seog concert,’ which was broadcast at a time when the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases was in full swing, took advantage of the format to help cultural artists and viewers during the COVID-19 crisis. Viewers who could not enjoy various cultural performances due to social distancing rules were given the opportunity to watch cultural artists [who had lost the ability to] perform on stage. Through musical performances such as ‘Ppallae(or Laundry)’ and Mama Mia, pansori performances, and concert performances by singers such as Zico, Jannabi (band), and HYUKOH, people had an opportunity to witness healing and empathy for one another through such shared experience.
Hospital Playlist depicts the stories of doctors, nurses, and patients at a hospital, and the chemistry between five doctors who all entered the same medical university in 1999. The doctors are now friends, and work together in the same hospital. The number of organ donation applicants, which had declined significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, has increased significantly in part, thanks to this drama. In Hospital Playlist Season 2, there was emphasis on conveying a story of deep empathy, not cheap romanticism, that would lift and weigh down your heart as the story progressed. In five episodes out of a total of 12, organ donation procedures and organ donation in case of brain death were dealt with in detail. The lines and scenes in the drama have contributed to improving viewers‘ perception of organ donation, and increased the registration rate of organ donation applicants. According to KONOS (Korea Network for Organ Sharing), the number of registered donors reached 16,231 for about six weeks from July 1 to August 11 2021, when the episode of organ donation was covered in the drama. That figure is three times that of last year. The organ donation message contained in the drama conveyed its importance to viewers, showing a positive impact that led to an increase in the number of registrants hoping to donate organs.
K-content has changed society and culture beyond giving warm impressions and consolation at home and abroad. The K-content craze has hit around the world. ST hopes such tidings can influence both our society and those around the world to become better versions of themselves, not only now but in the future as well.
Seo Min-ji (ST Reporter)