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[HanCinema's News] "Oasis - Drama" Maintains Steady Interest

Of the many new dramas of the spring season, "Oasis - Drama" is difficult to place in terms of core appeal. Though "Oasis - Drama" takes place through the eighties and nineties, it is neither a nostalgia-themed drama nor an especially political one. Rather, it deals somewhat cynically with the social values of the era, anchored by a melodramatic love triangle. Its main competition, the fantasy Joseon romance "Our Blooming Youth" had a month's head start with more straightforward appeal.


Yet "Oasis - Drama" has proven to be a modest victory for KBS, easily defeating "Our Blooming Youth" in its first episode with ratings of 6.3% to 3.3% for "Our Blooming Youth" in its ninth. And this success has continued with the return of SBS to the timeslot, with the mystery Joseon drama "The Secret Romantic Guest House" opening with 4.4% ratings in its first episode to 6.5% ratings for "Oasis - Drama" in its fifth episode. "Oasis - Drama" remains the most popular of the bunch.

Such ratings are not outstanding, and "Oasis - Drama" has not dramatically increased in popularity since it first week. Yet the story retains a steady interest from viewers thanks in part to compelling performances from the younger leads. While "Oasis - Drama" was only the third most popular drama on South Korean social media in the second week of March according to the Good Data Report, Jang Dong-yoon, Seol In-ah, and Choo Young-woo were the top discussed performers.

"Oasis - Drama" may have a strong advantage just because of its general dreariness. Fundamentally optimistic stories with powerful heroes have become a common theme for South Korean dramas in recent years. Yet "Oasis - Drama" breaks that mold with beatings, imprisonment, and forced separations being common story points in a dictatorial era where such incidents were all too real while not being especially purposeful.

"Oasis - Drama" is a likely outlier of any deliberate strategy by KBS at large. The serious near-historical drama expected to be followed up by "Destiny With You" which will be a more typical contemporary fantasy love story between a vampire and a human. For the moment, however, "Oasis - Drama" has struck a chord with audiences more intrigued by the novelty of its gritty concept than the bombast of other popular serial dramas of the moment.

Written by William Schwartz

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