[OPINION] Changes in Korean Drama From 2000s-Now

In 2019, there have been a lot of historical record breaking in terms of drama viewership for cable TV. Looking back on how much Korean dramas have changed over the last 2 decades, the Internet wins the grand prize for its role!

As an avid Korean drama fan since childhood, all I can say in short is… a lot has changed since the last century. You know time has really gone by when you remember actor Hyun Bin in his lead role in My Name Is Kim Sam Soon (2005) when he wasn’t buff with his spiky hair.

My Name is Kim Sam Soon (2005) 


There was a time when a good portion of the dramas airing were historical dramas.

An example of what is Korean historical drama- some in the video would also go on my top  historical drama list.


In the past, historical dramas could be expected to have certain traits. Lots of beautiful traditional hanbok, accurate depictions of historical events, usage of Korean like Old Korean or Middle Korean (what is used today is Modern Korean) and traditional Korean music as part of the OST. While there are a lot of dramas I could mention as an example, the ones that many would be familiar are probably Jewel in the Palace also known as Dae Jang Geum (2003), Hwang Jini (2006) and Emperor of the Sea (2003).

Jewel in the Palace (2003)


Many scenes were about traditional Korean cuisine, hence its role in the start of the Korean Wave. After this drama became globally popular, Korean restaurants started becoming widespread in many major cities as many people became interested in trying Korean food like bibimbap. 

Emperor of the Sea (2003)


All members of the main cast in this mega-hit drama are today’s household names, Choi Soo-Jong, Chae Shi-Ra, Song Ill-Kook (triplets’ father), Soo Ae and Chae Jang-An. While some had already reached the heights of their career before this show, for others it sent them to the top!

Hwang Jini (2006)


This drama’s theme was traditional arts. The cast had to spend many hours learning to dance from an expert, the costumes were beautiful, the songs were well balanced between traditional and modern (modern classical). The drama’s success resulted in the lead actress Ha Ji-Won winning the 2006 Grand Acting Award.

Historical drama is not limited to hanbok or court intrigue

While many Korean dramas consist of wearing what is stereotyped as traditional Korean clothing, that doesn’t mean there aren’t others. One of the most iconic historical dramas would be Rustic Period aka Yainshidae (2002) depicted in the 1920’s to The Korean War when western clothes like suits and dresses have become widespread. As one of the THE highest-rated TV shows in Korea’s broadcasting history, the drama is based on a historical figure Kim Du-Han who happens to be the grandfather of Song Ill-Kook and the great-grandfather of the nation’s triplets-Daehan, Minguk and Manse.

Rustic Period (2002)


This drama had many action scenes attracting a male fan-base. Covering romance, bromance, trip to memory lane for the older generation, intrigue for the younger ones, this was considered the family drama to watch all together. Even now, there are references to this drama because of how memorable the drama is.

On a side note for those who haven’t been captivated by the nation’s triplets.


Korean Content Globally Accessible

In the past, before the Internet became widespread, Korean dramas could only be aired from the 3 major public broadcasting companies. During that time, there were limited slots for dramas to air, so with lots of demand but limited supply, each drama to be slotted for a broadcasting company had to go through a very competitive selection.

Accessing Korean content abroad before the Internet

Previously up to the early 2010s, the main TV broadcasters were KBS, MBC and SBS. To watch Korean drama, you had to rent it from a video store (if you live in a city with a big enough Korean population) or pay a lot of money to access a Korean channel. However, even if you paid a lot to watch Korean drama on TV, there was a time when you have to watch it as it airs, not where you can go back on your smart TV and catch up on past episodes at your convenience. Additionally, watching 2 new episodes every week on TV outside of Korea meant you are going to be very behind on your drama. By the time it starts airing in the US, chances were the drama was almost done with its season back in Korea. So what many people opted for (including myself) was to go to the Korean video store and rented videos of the new episodes of Korean drama which would be only 1 week behind Korea’s broadcasting schedule. Note it wasn’t DVDs but video tapes where you need a device to rewind it for you before you can start watching it all over again!


Now in 2019, with the Internet, cable TV, web dramas and more in Korea, there are so much content available it has become somewhat overwhelming to prioritize your time when deciding which Korean drama to watch. Korean dramas have been globally recognized to be a very profitable market, hence companies like Viki, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu etc. distributing Korean dramas on their sites. Not only that, some of the mentioned companies are even producing or investing in Korean drama.


With lots of demand and supply in the 2010s, it wouldn’t be too strict to say that the quality of Korean content has dropped over the years. From the time when there was only 3 broadcasting options to today where there’s so many options and marketable groups, it has become more profit driven than ever before.

Of course, when there are negative aspects, there are also many positive aspects as well. Korean media has become more accessible resulting in more interest for Korea, more fan bases leading to what is the continuously growing Hallyu Wave. There are more opportunities for those aspiring to go into film and more economic growth. Depending on what is considered more important for each person, the pros can outweigh the cons.

My Take On This

With many positive aspects, I hope that growth (profits) will not blind the entertainment industry in forgoing quality for quantity. In the end once all the profits, growth and potential are temporarily earned, these dramas will remain to become evidence for the future generations as they study history. Just as we ourselves used historical artifacts like music, books, physical propaganda and chess to understand the past, it will apply the same in the future. Or even now where kids (Gen Z) do not know what a game-boy, furby, beanie babies and walk-mans are.


By Sara N



Disclaimer: The opinions or views contained in this article may not represent the opinions or views of Kpoplove, The Korea Daily, its employees, agents or affiliates.

Park Shin Hye Updates Instagram With EXO’s Chanyeol

Park Shin Hye updated her Instagram with a picture of her on-screen brother EXO’s Chanyeol.

OSEN article

On January 4th, Hallyu Actress Park Shin Hye updated her Instagram with a picture on set with EXO’s Chanyeol. With the picture she captioned with #helloseju #helloemma #memoriesofthealhambra  “What can you not do (Chanyeol)? Such an amazing person”


Park Shin Hye is currently starring as the female lead with Hallyu Actor Hyun Bin on TVN’s Memories of the Alhamba. EXO’s Chanyeol stars as Park Shin Hye’s younger brother.


By Sara N


[Opinion] EXO Needs to Comeback With All Members Before Enlistment

Eight members of EXO have participated in the group’s past few comebacks. Lay, the ninth and last Chinese member, has been missing in action for promotions or even the group’s Korean comeback song. With military enlistment around the corner, SM Entertainment should work to get all nine members on stage — politics be damned.

Group EXO at the premier showcase for their album EX’ACT in 2016

EXO’s latest song “Tempo” recently slid out of the top ten with the release of Song Mino’s Song Min-ho) and BLACKPINK’s Jennie’s solo debute. As it gradually lowers on the list of popular songs, so too does the possibility of a full comeback from boy group EXO. Or at least it seems that way.

The last full comeback that fans of the group enjoyed was about two years ago during their “Monster” era and the EX’ACT album (including repackage) in 2016. However, as tension between China and South Korean mounted due to the installation of Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD), ventures into the country by South Korean entertainers crawled to a halt as China retaliated by placing a temporary ban on Hallyu content.

During that time, Lay’s participation in EXO’s Korean activities mirrored the slow down and eventually he stopped appearing in the group’s Korean title releases, both on stage and in recordings. Instead, the singer kept the group’s name alive through the ban in the country while also growing his personal brand by doing individual activities. While understandable from a business perspective, it caused a persistent insecurity in the group’s fandom where many began to believe that he would eventually leave the group permanently.

Teaser photo compolation from EXO’s 3rd album EX’ACT Lucky One version – SM Entertainment

Now that the ban has essentially dissolved, it is time that he be re-integrated into the group’s activities. This is doubly important given that the older members will start to enlist in the army next year. Born in 1990, Xiumin is already at the legal limit to begin his military service. With the clock ticking down to his eventual two-year hiatus, SM Entertainment should gear up and focus on giving fans at least one solid comeback with all the member participating in the songs and promotional activities in Korea and internationally.

(As an aside, it is surprising enough that the group only had one comeback in 2018. Given how big the group is I would have expected at least two. While they were missing in action, they loss public relevance.)

While allowing Lay the freedom to continue his ventures in China and as a solo artist the agency is also producing a consistent flow of income that comes back to the company. Moreover, Lay also helps to shine a positive light on SM Entertainment and EXO to the Chinese Governement. However, the resulting vacuum in EXO resulting from his absence in official group activities have been decried by their fans for years.

Now, in the time they have remaining as a whole group, the agency really should push to present a lasting, stong, and solidified image of EXO before they (likely) focus on individual and unit activities and debutes. Politics and whatever revenue loss (if there is any, which is not likely) be damned.



By O.C


Disclaimer: The opinions or views contained in this article may not represent the opinions or views of Kpoplove, The Korea Daily, its employees, agents or affiliates.

Song Hye-kyo Shares Adorable Photo with Close Friend Yoo Ah-in

Instagram @kyo1122

Actress Song Hye-kyo shared her close friendship with Yoo Ah-in.

On October 25th, Song Hye-kyo posted a photo of her and Yoo Ah-in on her Instagram and wrote “Let’s hope to work for a drama or film together”.

In the photo, Song and Yoo are smiling towards the camera with their faces close to each other. Song Hye-kyo is holding a dog and looking adorable with short hair.

Song Hye-kyo and Yoo Ah-in are close friends, who are also in the same agency. Also, Yoo Ah-in is close to Song Hye-kyo’s husband, Song Joong-ki, who they appeared on KBS drama ‘Sungkyunkwan Scandal’ together.

Currently, Song Hye-kyo is filming for a new tvN drama ‘Boyfriend’, and Yoo Ah-in has finished filming the movie Default, which will be released soon.


Original article
by Audrey Joung


Despite Looming Restrictions BIGBANG’s Popularity Provides Headway for K-pop in China

BIGBANG’s is attracting attention amidst China’s lingering cold spell.

Image source – YG Entertainment

Last year, China finally lifted its ban on Korean entertainment — particularly live celebrity performances and guest appearances — for more than two years. However, despite the conditions, the local media in China has openly accepted the appearance of BIGBANG’s Seungri.

“In China, it is true that BIGBANG is the most popular singer,” said a local source when asked about this phenomenon. Indeed, the group’s popularity survived unfavorable political conditions such as the dispute between China and South Korea concerning the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THADD).

Further, on the Chinese online platform Baidu, the group ranked 16th on a weekly group’s popularity list at the end of September. Although BIGBANG appears to have the path of least resistance, the demand for the group’s content has also made headway for other popular Korean celebrities to reenter the market.

By the end of September BIGBANG’s T.O.P and G-Dragon ranked in the 24th and 26th spots respectively. More, after them, other celebrities found on the list included ASTRO Cha Eun-woo, BTS V, EXO Sehun, and more.

Image source – OSEN News

However, Seungri, the only member of BIGBANG who had not entered the army, is the most requested. According to the Chinese broadcasting officials, several local entertainment outreach proposals have included the singer without exception.

Given the consistent proposals for his appearance, some in the Korean entertainment industry are looking to the Seungri as an indicator for K-pop demand and acceptability by both the public and government. One official said that the complete dissolution of entertainment bans “depends on what BIGBANG does,” and that “BIGBANG is all that is needed.”

BIGBANG has served as an indicator of Chinese-Korean relation for some time now.

Image source – YG Entertainment

Last year in May, the group featured as the advertising models for the Chinese beverage NongFu Spring. Some felt that their inclusion in the marketing campaign signaled the easing of Chinese restrictions. Additionally, in March this year Love Only starring Seungri, has finally settled on a release date in China earlier this year. Seungri took part in a promotional event and captivated local media and fans when he spoke in fluent Chinese.

Notably, the movie failed to release in the country due to the Hallyu band for some time. As such, the settlement of the film’s release date pointed to a possible opening for the export of video content to China.

In addition to television and film, Seungri also has overwhelming popularity in the music world as well. His first solo album, The Great Seungri, sold over 500,000 copies over the of 64 hours. Likewise, BIGBANG’s last group song “Flower Road” more than 1 million copies in just three days.

However, while demand for BIGBANG remains high, which increases the possibilities for other K-pop stars, it has yet to been seen if it can survive further restrictions. Last month, China’s National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) proposed a guideline to restrict foreign programs, actors, and directors to a certain percentage.

Nevertheless, the only thing left on his list of accomplishments in these frigid conditions is a concert. According to reports, the singer was not able to get permission for his large-scale event until the end of this year. Nonetheless, being allowed to perform in China is a feat in and of itself.



Original article

Translated by O.C


YG Teases New Massive Building and Hints at BIGBANG’s Comeback

Yang Hyun-suk, the founder of YG Entertainment, has been working on another project aside from music.

Yang Hyun-suk
Image source – SBS

On June 29, Yang Hyun-suk posted different photos on his Instagram account that depicted a mock-up of the companies proposed new building. When people first look at the pictures, one factor stands out: it is massive!

Image source – Instagram 

From the Yang’s post, the new building will have a modern design. Further, it has an interior are of 6,000 pyeong. A pyeong is a unit of measurement used for area and floor space, with one pyeong equal to about 35.5 square feet (sq ft). As such, the buildings area is about 213,500 sq ft.

Image source – Instagram

According to Yang, construction began last December in the Hapjeong neighborhood on the Mapo district in Seoul. The year before in 2016, the district signed a business agreement with YG to transform the Hapjeong into a center for Hallyu tourism.

Additionally, Yang said that the building is expected to be finished in July next year. Moreover, the producer raised expectations by announcing he will be recording BIGBANG’s new album in YG’s new headquarters.



Original article

Translated by O.C


CJ E&M Announces Opening of ‘K-City,’ a Center for Hallyu Content

Earlier this week, CJ E&M announced that it opened “K-City,” a new center for Hallyu wave content and products.

Unlike what the name suggests,”K-City,” is not a physical location or attraction. Instead, it is a new website hosted on the global e-commerce site Qoo10.  Impressively, this company is called the “Amazon of Southeast Asia” with a 95 percent market share in Singapore. Further, it is also expanding its services to Indonesia, Malaysia, China and Hong Kong.

As described by CJ E&M, this site is a space where users can watch video content produced by the company and its subsidiaries. Moreover, visitors can also buy related products. The opening of the new site appears to be a move by CJ E&M to expand into different markets.

Before this, the company expressed its aims to advance into China, Japan, and several Southeast Asian countries by banking on the popularity of Hallyu related content. Additionally, this partnership with Qoo10 is only the beginning. Reportedly, CJ E&M is planning to create a new global market by working with leading local platform providers.

much-welcomed will be as close to a direct-to-customer route for goods given that CJ E&M is a powerhouse for production. This entertainment conglomerate has a foothold in music, film and dramas, television programs, performing arts, animation and more.

For many fans of popular Korean cultural products, this will be a much welcomed source for legitimate products. However, it can have an adverse effect of affecting local businesses that have capitalized on demand.



Original article

Translated by O.C


NRG Reveals the Role They Played in Laying the Foundation for K-Pop

NRG was one of the first boy groups to enter Korea’s music scene.

Source: tbs

NRG appeared on a broadcast of tbsFM’s “Bae Chil-soo and Jeon Young-mi’s 9595 Show” and talked about making a comeback in twelve years.

“Twenty years have already passed since our debut. We feel proud to still be able to sing and dance like before,” they said.

“It wasn’t easy for us to come together for the comeback, since we all had separate things to take care of. But now that we’re all here together, it feels great,” Cheon Myeong-hoon shared. “Working with my fellow members takes me back to the days when we first met in middle school.”

NRG also talked about their past activities in China. Member Lee Sung-jin revealed the role they played in making way for the Korean hallyu wave, saying, “There was a time when diplomatic ties with Korea and China were cut. At that time, China wanted us and Ahn Jae-wook to perform for free as a prerequisite for reestablishing ties.”

In the end, the group went to China to perform, and diplomatic ties were restored. “Although current people in the industry may not know of this fact, we contributed to laying the foundation for the hallyu wave,” they said.

When asked about their level of popularity in China, Cheon Myeong-hoon replied with, “We held the concert in a venue in Shanghai that could fit 80,000 people. It wasn’t a sell-out concert, but about 60,000 people attended.”

After the concert, about 2,000 fans gathered around the hotel they were staying and would chant the group’s name. “They called us ‘Un-RG’ instead of ‘NRG’,” they said humorously.

NRG’s new song “20th Century Night” and other previous hit songs will air on “Bae Chil-soo and Jeon Young-mi’s 9595 Show” on Dec. 31 at 1 p.m.


Original article
by Park So-young

Translated by Janet Kang

[Opinion] Thanks China! BTS is Gaining Major Traction in the U.S. Because of You

Send a Love Letter to China if you want to thank someone for BTS making a major drive in the United State’s market.

BTS China DNA Hallyu band United States U.S
LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 19: BTS attends the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chris Polk/AMA2017/Getty Images for dcp)

The decision to install the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system on the Korean peninsula was a major point of contention between Korea and China. Korea, with the aid of the United States (U.S.), believed that the deployment of THAAD was an appropriate safety measure against an increasingly bold North Korea. On the other hand, Chinese official strongly objected to the planned deployment. It believed that it would enable a high-level of military surveillance that would compromise Chinese and Russian security. Tensions in the political sphere thickened between China, Korea, and the U.S as politicians continued to contended over THAAD. At the same time, China also took action to demonstrate vexation by subverting Korea economically.

The Hallyu Ban

During the second half of 2016 China impose a ban on Korean popular culture products. As The Telegraph pointed out, “K-pop and K-dramas are hugely popular in China, but their success in the Chinese market also puts them at risk of economic exploitation during political crises”. China has been a lucrative market for Korean entertainment companies for about the past decade. Accordingly, Korean companies have worked on business ventures with the Chinese market in mind. SM Entertainment formed the EXO and Super Junior sub-units, EXO-m and Super Junior-m, specifically to appeal to Chinese audiences.

The imposed sanction on Korean popular cultural products dealt a huge blow to stars and companies dependent on Chinese market profits. With the ban mainly targeting music, film, television, and radio Korean entertainment company stocks dropped an average of 40%. Due to the ban, groups such as EXO had no choice but to cancel scheduled performances. Moreover, according to an article published by the Korea Economic Institute of America, ” there is no k-drama scheduled to be on air on any of the four major broadcasting companies in China.”

This ban left companies to pander to different markets to make up for the loss of the Chinese market.

“Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River!” – Samuel Brannan, 1848

BTS China DNA Hallyu band United States U.S
Image source: American Music Awards/ Dick Clark Productions, Inc.

BTS turned its gaze from China to the rest of the world. This past week has been a huge one for the popular boy group. They appeared on the Los Angeles morning news, stopped by Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen Degeneres, and performed at the American Music Awards. Granted, this was not the group’s first time in the U.S. In fact, BTS was in the U.S earlier this year for its sold out “Wings” tour. However, it was BTS’ first time being introduced to a mass American audience that had not heard about k-pop before.

China’s Loss and Differences of the U.S. Music Market

This was all possible because of the Chinese ban. If the ban had not been in place BTS would have likely invested in the Chinese market. As mentioned earlier, the Chinese market is lucrative for Korean entertainment companies. This is because of relatively low investment costs that produce high returns. Conversely, it is costly to bring a group to the U.S. to do promotional activities and performances. Furthermore, the music market in China is similar to Korea in that,”Chinese fandoms (sic) spend a lot of money buying thousand of albums, Korean artists attend public broadcast… Korean artists attend variety shows in China (and they go to top variety shows)..” as one OneHallyu user explained.

The U.S. entertainment market is vastly different from East Asia’s, and this is especially true for the music market. Americans don’t buy physical albums nor are there variety show or music show like the ones found in Korea and China that guest can feature on. Distribution partnerships will most likely only benefit hardcore fans who already purchase the group’s albums. These negative aspects of entering the U.S. market have always made other companies turn to China and Japan. However, the U.S. has the largest music industry in the world. No matter the cost or challenges of this past week, BTS’ exposure through U.S. media is irreplaceable.

Now What?

Fans can expect more public appearances of the boy group on U.S. national television and more collaborations with western artists. While BTS will most likely make a push into the Chinese market now that the THAAD issue has been resolved, it will not be as beneficial for the group or company now that they breaking into the U.S. market.

By O.C

The views expressed here are the authors’ alone.

[Opinion] The Hallyu Ban in China is Dead. The Drones at the Song-Song Wedding Prove It

Over the few weeks Korean media content has consistently found a way past the Hallyu ban that China has had in place for more than a year. Now that South Korea and China have publicly resolved a dispute over the missile defense system, the ban is virtually dead.

hallyu ban

Two significant events occurred the last two days of October. The first was a joint public statement by China and South Korea made on October 30. The statement announced that both countries had decided to resolve the year-long dispute concerning the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) amicably. The second event, and arguably more important, is that Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo got married on October 31.

The marriage was significant, and not just because it fulfilled the dreams of fans and the couple alike. It was significant because of the illegal activity that took place at the wedding. During the wedding 2-3 drones were witnessed flying over the location of the wedding. This is a big deal because the location of the wedding, Hotel Shilla, is within 8 kilometers of The Blue House (Cheongwadae). Any location within those 8 kilometers is considered an “A-level flight restricted area”. No one can use drones in this area without special permission. If a drone is used in this area without previous approval and clearance law breakers can be fined 2,000,000 Won (~2,000 USD).

The drones live-streamed the event to millions of Chinese via Weibo, it was later discovered. Many Chinese media companies sent inquires to the Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo’s respective agencies in the week before the weeding to film the ceremony. However, the requests were all denied. Notwithstanding failing to obtain permission from either the law or the couple, Chinese media still decided to use drones to film the wedding.

The illegality of the drones usage and the clear violation of privacy is startling. But, what is even more startling is how much demand there was to see the wedding from China. The demand was high enough that a Chinese media company broke a very important law.

The Hallyu Ban Actually Drove Up Demand

The Hallyu ban has been in place since last year when it was confirmed that THAAD would be deployed. The ban affected the export of Korean cultural products including films, dramas, music, performances and more. Essentially, it was a form of economic boycott. A boycott declared by the government, but a boycott that some may not have wanted.

Many in China still held an interest in Hallyu content while the ban was in place. This interest was demonstrated in Korean content seeping through the firewalls of the Chinese internet. The Song-Song weeding is evidence of this leakage of content; significant announcements about their relationship were made well into the ban. This included the initial confirmation of their relationship, their plans to marry, and when the would be married.

Althought the Hallyu ban was definitely in place, there was a dedicated interest in their relationship which resulted in the events on their wedding day. However, interest in Korean content has not been limited to Song Joon-ki and Song Jye-gyo. People found a way to watch dramas, listen music, remain updated on their favorite Hallyu stars.

It shouldn’t be that surprising considering that the Hallyu wave essentially started due to demand in China. This lasting demand coupled with the THAAD resolution announcement means one thing: the hallyu ban is dead.

By O.C