With emotive storylines and captivating season formats, Korean dramas are drawing in more and more audiences around the region.
As the Korean culture obsession gathers momentum across the UAE well into 2021, fans of K-dramas and K-pop music are riding the tide like never before.
With the captivating cultural appeal, a unique approach to storytelling and cinematic quality UAE audiences can’t get enough of K-dramas. Featuring straight off the runway fashion, mouthwatering food to catchy soundtracks and even K-pop star appearances, it’s no surprise that viewers in the Emirates are finding Korean dramas so addictive. Luckily for them, Korean shows have become more accessible thanks to digital platforms which have democratised access to distribution tools giving audiences total control of discovering new content anytime, anywhere.
Discussing the same, Abe Shady Aboul Naga, General Manager of Viu Middle East says, “International titles contribute strong engagement on Viu and we have witnessed an increase in MENA viewers engaging with both subbed and dubbed Korean content. But Korean content is not new to Viu and we were one of the first streaming providers to contract with all the major broadcasters in Korea. As a result of increased popularity and audience demand, we continue to curate one of the largest collections of Korean content and regularly add the latest releases coming out of Korea. We proudly offer over 200 Korean titles consisting of drama series, variety and lifestyle shows on our platform and recently added new drama titles including Viu Original River Where the Moon Rises, Awaken, The Penthouse 2, L.U.C.A.: The Beginning, Mimi, Mom Has an Affair, Love In Trouble, Nobody Knows, Dr Romantic 2, Whispher, Dark Hole and Summer Guys. As an audience-centric provider, Viu is investing in bringing an even broader slate of Korean content to the platform in the future.”
Aside from increased accessibility, fans are being drawn to Korean dramas because of the engaging and well-written scripts that encompass every aspect of modern life, from romance to family dramas and even office politics.
Similarities with Arabic Traditions and Culture
Drawing parallels, K-dramas tend to explore topics related to family members, love and relationships, and differences in social classes. By portraying narratives that align with local cultural beliefs, such as the emphasis on family and shared values of friendship, romance and poetry, K-dramas increase understanding of shared values among Arab viewers. It’s a refreshing change to the same recycled and predictable plots that have been overused.
Captivating and Distinct Plots
Elaborating on the continuing rise of Korean content, Viu’s Abe Shady Aboul Naga, commented, “We started seeing a rise in South Korean content among UAE viewers in 2019, starting with the release of series such as Boys Over Flowers, Goblin, and Dr Romantic. We know that Korean entertainment and TV shows continue to draw in viewers globally and across the region, so it’s up to us to stay ahead of our audience’s demands. Offering a wider selection of Korean content is part of our strategy at Viu and we’re constantly expanding our diverse content library for the benefit of our viewers.”
He adds: “Korean drama series are more compact than Arab serials and usually span only a few seasons. This means their plots are condensed and captivating, making them ideal for binge-watching. Korean series have familiar and popular actors, relatable stories and distinct plots that reflect what Gen-Z and millennials in the UAE experience today.”
Engaging and Compact Formats
In reference to the above, one key attraction to Korean dramas is the format of the series’ seasons. The typical format of a Korean drama is much more appealing to Gen-Z and millennials than those of Arab or Western series. Characteristically, a Korean drama consists of 16-20 episodes. The length allows for the exploration of a whole, a connected story that has a strong buildup and conclusion. Seasons are longer than movies allowing viewers to become more emotionally invested in the characters and story, however, they have a definitive conclusion — so the plot and story doesn’t weaken or get unnecessarily drawn out to fill multiple seasons.
Family Safe Content
Another reason Korean dramas are popular to Arab and regional viewers is because of their G-rated content — most shows are clean compared to Western movies and television. Foul language is rare, violence is minimal, and love scenes seldom go beyond kissing. This is notably more impactful with regional and Arab viewers due to the more respectful and less provocative scenes and storylines.
With Korean drama production expected to gain momentum again as the pandemic eases, it’ll be interesting to see where the stories of Korean dramas take their audiences in the future.