Given the many awards ceremonies that go on at the end of year, who knew we would hope for yet another one. But the impressive slew of explosively popular dramas and variety shows that cable network tvN and sister channel OCN churned out in 2014 deserves to be recognized. Their shows have touted original and fresh content, receiving highest praise all around.
Unfortunately, tvN announced that no end-of-year event is planned in response to speculations about a joint awards ceremony being held this year. However, a source of tvN said that a special event for their tenth anniversary in 2016 is under consideration.
So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to give credit where credit is due.
Earlier this year, “King of High School” revived the sluggish Monday-Tuesday slot on tvN. The romantic comedy, which follows the story of an immature high school student who becomes an executive at a big company, starred Lee Ha Na and Seo In Guk. The secret two the drama’s success was their stellar acting and on-screen chemistry. Lee Ha Na, for whom “King of High School” was her first small screen project in six years, charmed viewers with her quirky acting.
Although he played a high schooler previously in “Reply 1994,” Seo In Guk had a new challenge in “King of High School,” as he had to go back and forth between playing an immature high schooler and cunning business executive. He switched back and forth between the two with ease, throwing in timely ad libs whenever he could. “King of High School” ended strong with a two percent viewership rating.
Action thriller drama “Bad Guys” shattered records with its four percent viewer rating, the highest rating in OCN’s history. Moreover, VOD (video on demand) sales for the show were exceptional, exceeding 300 million won in sales in each of the fourth and fifth periods of October (Platforms: TV, online, mobile). “Bad Guys’” success may be attributed to its unique premise, bad guys going after bad guys. Helmed by writer Han Jung Hoon (“Vampire Prosecutor”) and rising star director Kim Jeong Min, the synergy among the writer, director, and cast definitely contributed to the drama’s success.
PD Na Young Suk was already known as a star PD before “Youth over Flowers” for his work in previous installments of the travel-reality “Over Flowers” series, as well as his work on hit KBS 2TV’s hit variety show “1 Night 2 Days.” “Youth over Flowers” followed “Grandpas over Flowers” and “Noonas over Flowers” as the third of the “Over Flowers” series, continuing its predecessors’ legacy of clean entertainment. The cast carried the show. Notably, “um-chin-ahs” Lee Seo Jin and Lee Seung Gi received a lot of love. Lee Seo Jin became known as “The Grumbling Hyung,” and Lee Seung Gi held down the fort as “The Heodang Burden-Bearer,” continuing his reputation from “1 Night 2 Days.” “Youth over Flowers’s” highest viewer rating was an impressive 5.77 percent.
Following “Youth over Flowers,” PD Na Young Suk drew up plans for “Three Meals a Day.” The subject matter of the show was simple, seemingly verging on dull; cast members would be responsible for making from scratch three meals a day for themselves. However, the outdoor cooking reality show has more than exceeded expectations, breaking eight percent in viewer ratings. Lee Seo Jin has played no small role in the show’s success. It is clear that he has a special chemistry with PD Na Young Suk.
Last but definitely not least is tvN drama “Misaeng,” which took the latter half of 2014 by storm. “Misaeng” has garnered unprecedented popularity, recording a three percent viewership rating within the fourth episode of the show and the season finale touting eight percent. (Nielsen Korea, Euro Platform). Although the show itself is over, its popularity has yet to ebb. The commemorative “Five-Part Special Episodes” (working title) topped click-through ratings as soon as it was published. An easy way to measure the show’s popularity is to take a look at the sales of the original webtoon series. Before “Misaeng” aired, sales were at around 900,000 copies for the whole year, but between the launch of the drama and November 26, 1 million additional copies were sold. That is to say, in just one month, sales leaped from a total of 900,000 copies to 2 million copies.
Part of the show’s popularity can be attributed to its accurate reflection of the original webtoon series. Another big factor was the content of the show. Set in a typical corporate environment, the drama was relevant to and cathartic for viewers as it dealt with issues that salaried men and women in Korea must face everyday. Actors Lee Sung Min, Im Siwan, Kim Dae Myung, and more have deservedly received glowing reviews for their acting. It is not an exaggeration to say that “Misaeng” has given upcoming dramas huge shoes to fill.
We are looking forward to what tVN and OCN have in store for us in the new year.