Growing popularity of South Korean content in India

Few films, but K-dramas dominate OTT platforms


June 13, 2022

/ By / New Delhi

Growing popularity of South Korean content in India

Park Chan-wook's film 'Decision to Leave' won him Best Director in Cannes Film Festival 2022 (Photo: Twitter)

Not long after Bong Joon- ho swept the Oscars with his film Parasite in 2019, Korean entertainment, notably K-dramas, have become immensely popular in India. The number of fans of K-dramas and films may have been boosted by the recent bagging of Best Director’s award by another Korean filmmaker, Park Chan-wook.

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On May 28, at the end of Cannes Film Festival, South Korean director Park Chan-wook won the best director for his romance thriller Decision to Leave. He is the second South Korean director to win in this category, exactly 20 years after Im kwon-taek won for his historical drama Chiwaseon in 2002.

But just two years ago, another Korean film Parasite directed by Bong Joon- ho had grabbed both the Palme d’Or and Oscar awards and created history in the world for being the first non-English spoken film to do so. This in turn had put the world’s attention on South Korea and its entertainment industry.

And just a year after when the world was locked down during the pandemic, Netflix hit series Squid Game became an international sensation and the most watched series in Netflix remaining at the platform’s top 10 list for almost 9 weeks after its release in September 17, 2021. The world has been witnessing an international awareness of South Korea’s entertainment industry and also an increasing rise in the number of people watching.

Hallyu, a Chinese term that is translated as ‘Korean Wave’ refers to the growing and increasing popularity of South Korean cultural exports including K-pop, K-movies, K-dramas and more.

The awards for Parasite came just months before the Covid-19 pandemic had begun to unfold and the craze for all content Korean was suddenly boosted to the skies due to global lockdowns that followed the pandemic outbreak. As the lockdowns kept almost everyone locked up in their homes, it led to an unprecedented boom in the popularity of Over The Top platforms and viewers were binge watching everything that they could lay their hands on, much faster than the content creators could keep the OTTs well-fed. One of the most popular shows that resulted from the binge-watching were the K-dramas as people had been seeking something different from the typical American and Indian shows.

Yashtika Sharma, a student of Agriculture, who recently started watching K-dramas tells that it was following the pandemic, when K-content was getting popular in social media that she had got familiar with K- dramas.

(Photo: IMDB)

However, Garima, a fashion designer in Delhi, who has been a fan of Korean series tells Media India Group that she doesn’t believe it was the pandemic that had anything to do with the popularity of Hallyu in India. “I was first introduced to a Korean series when an Indian channel called Zindagi telecast the Korean drama, Descendants of the Sun in Hindi way back in 2016. Several of my friends who are big fans of Korean dramas have been watching them before pandemic even began.”

Seema Gupta, who also likes K-dramas more than anything else, tells Media India Group that it was one of her friends from North-east India who had first introduced her to the world of Hallyu in Delhi, during the same year when Parasite was released. Just like Garima, she shares that she was shocked to see how good looking the actors were and was immediately hooked into them when she saw how well the stories, especially rom-coms were written. Though she has watched some South Korean films, she still prefers watching Korean dramas.

Both Yashtika and Garima say that they prefer the K-dramas mainly because how the industry presents a romantic and funny story line appealing to the viewers. Another big draw is that both find the actors in these dramas to be extremely attractive.

Away from Delhi, in northeastern India, however K-content had been much popular compared to the Indian entertainment industry long way back before it got popularised in other parts of India.



(Photo: IMDB)

Denzel Miiding Taning, from Arunachal Pradesh and currently learning theatre in Delhi, tells Media India Group that he prefers movies more than Korean series. According to him South Korean movies tend to have more variety and depth in the scripts compared to K- dramas. He feels that movies are more realistic and grounded, whilst dramas portray actors of not having a single flaw. Though he hasn’t heard of Park Chan-wook, interestingly enough he has watched several of the director’s hits such as Thirst, The Handmaiden, Oldboy and several more.

Juno, a cosplayer from the same state also admits to prefer movies more compared to series. “Series tend to stray away from the main object however Korean movies tend to be much straight forward and deliver the audience what it promises. Though I prefer their movies more, I am compelled to watch Korean series more, since many streaming sites that I have gone through have limited options of movies compared to series,” Juno tells Media India Group.



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