[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.

Hyun Bin and Son Ye-Jin Deny Rumors about Couples Vacation

Rumors said actors Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin were having a romantic getaway to the US. Both actors promptly denied.

On January 9, an Internet community user said he has spotted Hyun Bin in the US having dinner with Son Ye-jin and her parents. The rumors also said that the two actors are traveling the states together.

Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin starred in the movie “Negotiation” last year.

The rumors spread quickly and the agencies of both stars promptly responded that they are not true. Hyun Bin’s agency said, “The actor is not in Korea, but it is not for a vacation with Son Ye-jin. He is out for a vacation and schedule after the production of ‘Memories of the Alhambra.’”

“The actress is currently traveling the US alone,” said Son Ye-jin’s agency, denying the rumor. “And her parents are in Korea, unlike what the rumors say.”

The original posting of the rumors is not deleted.


Original article


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


Park Shin-Hye and Hyun Bin Reveal Why Each Chose to Star in “Memories of the Alhambra”

Park Shin-Hye and Hyun Bin reveal why they chose to star in tvN’s new drama “Memories of the Alhambra” and talk about their experience of working together!

On November 28, a press conference for tvN’s new drama “Memories of the Alhambra” took place in Seoul. Attending the event were the main actors Hyun Bin and Park Shin-Hye, alongside director Ahn Gil-Ho and actors Park Hoon and Kim Eui-Sung.

“Memories of the Alhambra” is a romance mystery that takes place in Granada, Spain. Yoo Jin-Woo (Hyun Bin), who is the CEO of an investment company, pays a visit to the location for a business trip. He ends up staying at an old hostel that is owned by Jung Hee-Joo (Park Shin-Hye). During his stay, he gets involved in a mystery and magical experience.

The drama not only gained the attention for the collaboration of writer Song Jae-Ho and director Ahn Gil-Ho, but also for the fact that it had incorporated the AR games into adding virtual images into the world that we live in.

During the conference, Hyun Bin and Park Shin-Hye revealed that the AR element is what caught their attention first, ultimately leading them to confirm their appearances.

Hyun Bin said, “when I’m choosing my next drama/film, I’m always looking for new ideas. Something I hadn’t done in the past so I can give myself another challenge. In this case, I was intrigued to find out how the element of AR can be incorporated in a domestic drama, and how the audience will react to it. As an actor, I’m always looking for new ways to tell a story.”

He continued, “but of course, I was also thrilled to be working alongside director Ahn and writer Song. It was meaningful to me that I get to work with such a great crew for such an interesting element as AR.”

Park Shin-Hye said, “The AR element of the drama was also what caught my attention at first. However, it went beyond its recreational purpose. It was delivering a hidden message to the society. That is what I liked about it the most. Furthermore, my character has such a warm heart. I believe the character would allow me to showcase my different sides.”

At the end, the two actors exchanged compliments and shared their experience of working together.

Park said, “Hyun Bin leads the drama so well. Thanks to him, I was able to follow and do well on set.”

Hyun Bin responded, “I think because Park has been acting since she was young, she has a lot of experience from which she gained knowledge. More importantly, her deep passion for acting motivates me to do better. As I’ve worked with her, I learned that she is just a nice person in general. I received such positive energy from her, and that really brightened up the mood of the set. She perfectly fits into her character as well, and I’m thankful for her.”

Original Article
Translated by Dasol Kim