FROM HOLLY TO HALLYU: The South Korea entertainment industry and K dramas you should watch in 2021!
Updated: Feb 12
South Korea’s entertainment industry has transcended all cultural boundaries. From K-dramas to K-pop, the Hallyu wave has been well received by the global media. It evolved from a regional development into a global phenomenon, carried by the internet and social media and the proliferation of K-pop music videos on YouTube.
Talking about the Korean cinema, K-drama fever is on the rise. The budding interest of gen Z in K-dramas and K-movies is making it quite mainstream worldwide.
From “Cheese” to “Kimchi”, “Friend” to “Chingu”, these Korean lingos have found a soft corner in the hearts of K-drama enthusiasts and non-locals find it amusing to use them in their colloquial language.
It’s quite an interesting discourse that how millions of Asians and Non-Asians are binge-watching K-dramas and it’s fast displacing the long drawn obsession with American T.V. shows. It’s largely because of the fresh factor – western world watch them simply because they are different from the programming they are used to. It’s not the same old stale, predictable plots that have been recycled for seasons. Since the 2000s, K-dramas have basically fascinated people for their fashion, style, and culture all over the world. But the bottom line is the creative and out of the box plots in all genres that they have never failed to amaze people with. They generally have a well-built, concrete story and there is always something to look forward to. Even though some can be very generic but they still manage to bring out a unique element out of each drama which leaves us in introspection. Despite the linguistic barrier, Non-Korean viewers are able to relate to the characters, acted out immaculately.
A typical K-drama is of 16-20 episodes (unlike the daily soap operas in India and most of the middle east, east and south Asian countries), so the limited number of episodes makes it easy to watch. From cinematography to special effects, most K-dramas have a nice composition and are aesthetically pleasing. So coming from someone who has dived much deeper into Hallyu and have been consuming Korean entertainment for a while now, I can promise you they have the best shows in every genre, be it fictional/non fictional, comedic/tragic, particularly the super/macro/micro genre such as political/legal/historical/teen/crime/comedy drama.
This brings me to recommend you two of my all time favourites, the classic K-dramas all beginners should jump start their K-journey with:
Descendants of the sun - It is a 2016 Netflix series set in the back drop of a "fictious" war-torn country of Urk. You will witness a desperate love story between a medical surgeon and captain from the special forces.
The series was a major hit in South Korea and was named the Most Popular Show of the year by Korea Broadcasting Advertising Corporation. It was broadcast across Asia where it was hugely popular, and has been credited with a rise in tourism to Korea.
This show is a great dig for war/military enthusiasts. Personally, I was impressed by the parallels the writers tried to draw between one saving lives through surgeries and another saving lives at the cost of others. Overall, it’s a multi layered script with full of humorous moments which is worth a watch.
Crash landing on you - It’s a 2020 Netflix series which was a massive hit. The drama remarkably portrays a classic love story between two- star crossed lovers i.e. a South Korean chaebol/conglomerate heiress and a member of the North Korean elite and a captain in Korean People's Army. The story develops in North Korea as the female lead makes an accidental landing on the doors of a military officer.
Even though it’s a melodrama revolving around the two falling in love with each other, overall it is a wholesome series packed with interlocking stories that builds up to a climax. The plot is fresh and unique and you will see a variety of characters, acted out well. It is a promising watch. You can watch this K- Drama on Netflix.
Special mentions: Class of lies, The K2, Suspicious partner, Who are you: school 2015, Stranger, Mr. Sunshine, Fight for my way, Signal.
These dramas are enough to get you completely hooked. You can easily watch them, subbed, as most of them are available on Netflix. For those which are not available on Netflix, you can watch them for free on this app called Viki, it offers a huge array of Asian movies and TV shows. Other apps/sites includes Kocowa, Dramacool, Asiancrush and all of them are free.
Hope this article convinced you a tad bit to give K-dramas a chance and start on this brand new journey of becoming a K-holic!