The reason Korean dramas are loved in China

Oct 27, 2006

The 3rd annual Global Culture Industry Forum began on the 26th in Seoul with culture industry leaders from 9 countries including the U.S., Germany, and Japan amongst others participating. The forum that lasts for two days, 8 hours each, will host various seminars and discussions.

Notable is the active participation of the Chinese specialists. China, though behind Japan in the economic effects of the Korean Wave, has a vast influence over Southeast Asia and is a place where Korean popular culture has been able to deeply penetrate into.

Zhang Ming Zhi, the head director of China’s Television Production Committee, will hold a seminar on the topic ‘The Exchange and Joint Production of Korean and Chinese Television’ on the 27th.

He wrote in a pre-distributed statement that Korean dramas ranging from ‘What is Love,’ which started the Korean drama wave in China, to trendy dramas such as ‘Winter Sonata,’ ‘Autumn Fairy Tale,’ home drama ‘Men of the Bath House,’ life dramas ‘Look and Look Again’ and ‘Miss Mermaid,’ and historical drama ‘Dae Jang Geum’ all have the center theme-the love and respect of family members, compassion between couples, and everlasting love between a man and woman and others-based on Confucianism which as a result make it very similar to the ethical ideas of Chinese viewers.

He draws the main reason behind the success of Korean dramas in the Chinese market on the truthful depiction of a common life and refreshing stories. Also, love scenes are expressed in a suggestive way so that all Asian cultures can relate to without having to directly visualize the emotions on screen.

Also notable is the idea that female writers play a large part in the popularity. He writes that Korean dramas are mostly written by females who play a major role in the success. The characteristics of female writers are that they have a way of bringing out the romance with detailed emotions and depict Confucianism thoughts well. Chinese writers, who are mostly male, write based on historical facts or current social problems and hold importance in the political ideals and social effects which is different from the approach of Korean writers.

In Zhang Ming Zhi’s report of the size of the Chinese broadcasting market, there were 314 broadcasters, 2,289 channels, and 1.2 billion viewers in 2005 and 70% of television advertising revenue was from dramas. Also, amongst the 2,000 or so drama production companies, 500 titles of 12,447 episodes were produced with investment funds adding up to 4 billion yuan.

He claimed that Korea and China have many similarities in cultural thought and as both cultures are a major element in Asian culture itself, both must proceed forward based on trust, exchange, and cooperation.

Wang Guo Hua, the president of Hong Kong’s daily paper ‘Ta Kung Pao,’ selected Confucius as the culture China must set forth. In his pre-distributed material he wrote that Confucius and Confucianism is a gold mine of culture which can serve as a ‘New Business Cluster’ of an environment friendly high return business.

President Wang also mentioned that, "Korea and Japan that have increased their cultural influence along with economic development and can serve as a role model for Asian countries. After the financial crisis, Korea focused on the culture industry as the strategic industry of the 21st century and as a result Korea’s game industry has become an international brand. This is the proof that Asia’s culture industry has great potential."

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