[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) 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gfogl22YW1g

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlToGM7LTG4

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)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0nmzYdMGRg

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)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLBSmChuwP4

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)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmMyBO69meo

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)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSMBWpK-Lc0&list=PLz_-V2fRIkbY7jEbWrsb_f4jXZs1YwYMc&index=2

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJYwFuX6z0Y

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!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xS6a_jaiVw

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Lcy3XUDd_A

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiPBZNMGdps

By Sara N

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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.

[OPINION] Hong Jin-Young Solo Concert & Kim Jong Kook

On January 12, Trot singer Hong Jin-Young held her first solo concert in Los Angeles, California. Highlights were Hong Sun Young’s surprise performance, wardrobe malfunction and other exciting segments.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BskZJV1hi9l/

Korea’s Trot fairy Hong Jin-Young, held her first solo concert in LA (technically Temecula which is 2 hours away) commemorating her 10th year since debuting in 2009.

Sara N

Hong Jin Young sang all of her hit songs starting with Love Battery to set the mood followed by all of her singles like Cheer Up, My Love, Thumb Up, Good Bye etc. The concert audience consisted of a wide range of age groups from children to the elderly fans. It was a boisterous environment with lots of excitement. The stadium had a seating capacity of 3260 seats, which was filled to the max. The light sticks from the audience was mesmerizingly beautiful once the ceiling lights dimmed.

Photo of 2nd floor audience:

photos of 2nd floor audience
Sara N

Permission to take photos and videos were granted!

Generally in regards to taking photos or videos during the concerts, it is not allowed. However in Hong Jin-Young’s case, the Trot fairy gave her explicit consent at the opening of the concert. Her method to convey her permission was witty, “When you all came in, did you see the sign about not taking photos or videos?” (Hearing this all the excited fans have drooped shoulders and are slowly putting away their phones.) She continues by saying, for me you can take as much photos and videos as you want. (People are in disbelief and shocked, myself included.) Hong Jin-Young says “In fact, I look better in videos, for some reason I don’t look so great in photos,” followed by “during the concert I will strike a pose and stay still, you can take photos then so the picture comes out nice.” As a result, I was able to take photos and videos to my heart’s content to share with everyone!

Highlights of the Concert

Hong Jin Young actively interacted with fans throughout the entire concert.

Hong Jin Young made sudden poses during her performance to give the audience a chance to take her picture. It was hilarious at times when the singer would be dancing then casually stay still for a few minutes at the left or right side of the stage to give fans a chance to capture a great photo. Her intent to interact with the crowd was so strong to the point her security detail probably exasperated at the artist’s determination.

Hong Jin Young visits 2nd floor audience:

Hong Jin Young shared her intention to walk to the audience to get a chance to greet them since only the fans sitting in the front can see her. The excitement from that announcement was really amazing. When the artist started walking out while singing a song, many fans blocked her path (security was busy keeping on eye on everything at this point) to take a selfie together or to shake her hand etc. Interesting point was these fans were of various ages ranging from 20s-70s. Grandfather figures were so excited seeing their favorite singer up close that they forgot about their wives and grandchildren seeing them turn into excited fan boys. One of the fun remarks about this from some people around me was “The ride back home will be full of fights for forgetting their social dignity.” Considering Korean social norms play a significant role in Korean-American society, it is understandable that for some it can seem socially embarrassing to see important figures changing into excited fan boys in front of their beloved singer.

It’s probably comparable to this scene from Descendants of the Sun when the officers in the army turn into ardent fan boys in front of Red Velvet in the drama.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqgxcSVoHFo

Hong Jin Young had to make many attempts to reach the audience in the second floor due to many excited fans blocking her path at every point. By the time she finished her walk around the venue to return to the stage, Hong Jin Young found her shoe had fallen apart and needed to take a quick break to change them. She stated it was her first time seeing this happen although she has performed on the stage so many times, commenting on how memorable it is for her.

Hong Jin Young’s shoe fell apart:

Hong Sun-Young

During the segment where Hong Jin-Young reads all the post-its prepared in advance by fans, the most remarkable one was asking about her sister.  As a result, Hong Jin Young called out her sister Hong Sun Young to the stage and the two performed a song together followed by Hong Sun Young’s solo performance. To be able to hear Hong Sun Young’s amazing vocals in person, it really reminded me of BMK in terms of her voice and singing style.

Sara N

Hong Sun Young was shy and taken aback by the enthusiasm from the audience whenever everyone chanted “encore” at the end of her songs. Unfortunately the cheers were even louder for Hong Sun Young than for artist Hong Jin Young, which were remarked by the singer.

Hong Sun Young performance snippets:

Since 2018 there have been lots of speculation and interest in whether Trot singer Hong Jin-Young and former-idol Kim Jong-Kook are (or will be) dating.

Both Hong Jin-Young and Kim Jong-Kook have expressed their chemistry with each other on screen. Many fans who have watched the variety shows when they appeared together have been wishing for the two people to really date. The crucial variety show that broadcasted their chemistry was seen on SBS’s Running Man where Kim Jong-Kook has been a cast member since 2010 with Hong Jin-Young appearing as a featured member various times. Additionally, SBS’s Ugly Ducking where Hong Jin-Young and Kim Jong-Kook are both cast members since 2018 is also memorable. Much of the public have been very supportive of these two to become a couple in real life, including myself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kt96L7zeK8c

I don’t think I really understood how much love and support Hong Jin-Young and Kim Jong-Kook had been receiving as an on screen item until now. It has already been established on screen to consider them to be a potential couple with the ambiguous atmosphere and hyping from the MCs. Both have been flirty on screen in various shows with the editing  building it up. This was confirmed when a compilation of those flirty scenes were played at Hong Jin-Young’s solo concert in Los Angeles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU9unDY7i3s

Towards the end of the concert, Hong Jin Young started singing any song the audience requested. Lo and behold, Kim Jong Kook’s song was requested with many people shouting for Kim Jong Kook’s One Man. The cheers when Hong Jin Young sang Kim Jong Kook’s songs one after other were the loudest cheers during this segment. People were cheering for them to date, shouting they look great together etc.

Kim Jong Kook covers:

Someone yells “Kim Jong Kook” snippet:

Freebies like light sticks were given to cheer for Hong Jin Young.

Due to many local and corporate sponsors for the concert, there were some free stuff available for the audience before the concert like light sticks, health magazines, vitamin samples and coupons being handed out with some giveaways of skin care, electronics, gift certificates, health supplements and even a grand prize of one round trip to Korea from Korean Air.

Overall everyone had a wonderful time.

Hong Jin Young’s concert was not catered to one specific age group, but for all ages. Whole families from young to old had a great time listening to Korean Trot, ballads and great song covers from Hong Jin Young. Hong Jin Young was very proactive in interacting with the audience, not the mention the unexpected appearance of Hong Sun Young, which made an unforgettable experience.

Personally, I enjoyed the concert very much and glad for the spontaneous decision to go. If it wasn’t for my friend’s acquaintance being unable to go hours before the concert, my friend and I wouldn’t have had the chance to see and hear Hong Jin Young in person. There may be many memorable parts to the concert but what I shared are what was most memorable for me. Looking back to the concert a week later, I hope there are more chances to hear Hong Sun Young perform whether with her own debut as a singer or participating in her sister’s songs. She sounded awesome and would be perfect for Kdrama OSTs.

By S.N

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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.