With the conclusion of "The World of the Married" last month South Korean dramas are now left with no obvious hitmakers. It's an unusual circumstance for the market in recent months, as "Hospital Playlist" had been preceded by "The World of the Married", which had been preceded by "Itaewon Class", which itself had been preceded by "Crash Landing on You" in terms of major pop culture staples. And only three weeks before "Crash Landing on You" had started, "When the Camellia Blooms" was still airing.
But even with the big competition gone, ratings for the remaining dramas are stagnant, comparatively even regressing somewhat. "Dinner Mate", for example, now only gets ratings in the 4% range, having exceeded 6% in its opening week. "Born Again" likewise has crashed to 2% from its opening week ratings of 4%, with "Fix You" faring only slightly better with 2.5% ratings from its opener of 5%.
Even relatively successful dramas show such signs of drooping, with "Good Casting" going down from 12% to 8% and "The King: Eternal Monarch" slightly rebounding up to 7% last weekend, having achieved even lower ratings than that since its highpoint of 11.6%. The TV Chosun drama "The King Maker: The Change of Destiny" has outperformed its rivals on better networks simply by keeping steady, bumping up to ratings slightly over 4%.
Though South Korean dramas appear to be doing poorly overall, some bright spots remain. The low profile tvN drama "My Unfamiliar Family" did quite well in its first week, jumping from 3% to 4% despite a relatively unknown cast. The family drama has a strong modern hook about familial relationships, and is even comparing them to the past through the intriguing story device of the family patriarch temporarily losing his recent memories, and seeing his wife as he did forty years ago.
New dramas will also be coming soon, with "It's Okay to Not Be Okay" marking a comeback for Kim Soo-hyun alongside "Encounter" director Park Shin-woo. "The Good Detective" from jTBC is also being marketed as a potential major drama. However, in any event the unpredictability of the current South Korean drama is itself a new normal. Strong concepts wane in execution as all dramas struggle to gain momentum.
Written by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.
"[HanCinema's News] Overall Drama Ratings Stagnant With Disappearance of Big Hits"
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