The Korea Herald

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Korean dramas’ popularity still strong in Southeast Asia

By Lee Si-jin

Published : May 24, 2023 - 14:06

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"Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938" (tvN)

Though no Korean drama so far this year has created an international sensation to the extent of “Squid Game” (2021), or even “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” (2022) or “Reborn Rich” (2022), there are many series that are enjoying popularity overseas, especially in the Southeast Asian market.

Cable channel tvN’s fantasy series “Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938” has landed on Amazon Prime Video's top 10 charts in 19 countries as of Tuesday, according to Studio Dragon, the South Korean producer of the series.

The series centers around a male “gumiho,” Lee Yeon, living in the 21st century Korea. A “gumiho” is a shape-shifting nine-tailed fox and a beloved character from Korean folklore.

“Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938” is the second season of the tvN’s 2020 fantasy series “Tale of the Nine Tailed,” which brings its male lead to the Korean Peninsula in 1938.

The drama topped Amazon Prime Video top 10 charts in Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia and more. It also landed on the streaming service’s top 10 charts in 19 countries as of Tuesday, according to streaming analytics firm FlixPatrol.

"Doctor Cha" (JTBC)

South Korea’s latest family medical drama, “Doctor Cha,” is garnering attention from overseas drama viewers as well.

The series presents the story of Cha Jeong-suk, a mother and wife, sacrificing her life and career for her family.

“Doctor Cha,” which premiered on April 15, topped Netflix charts in various countries, including Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. The drama also ranked at No. 7 on Netflix's global top 10 series chart as of Tuesday.

JTBC’s Wednesday-Thursday night drama “The Good Bad Mother” is another series that has caught Southeast Asian viewers' eyes.

Starring “The Glory” actor Lee Do-hyun, “The Good Bad Mother” offers the emotional story of Young-soon (played by Ra Mi-ran), who assumes the role of a strict parent in raising her son, and Kang-ho (played by Lee), her son, an ambitious prosecutor who turns into a child after a tragic accident.

"The Good Bad Mother" (JTBC)

While six episodes remain of the 14-part series, “The Good Bad Mother” is ranked No. 2, following “Doctor Cha,” in Vietnam, Hong Kong and the Philippines’ Netflix charts.

“Korean dramas often deal with the relationships between families and friends, which are unique to the Eastern culture. And many Southeast Asian viewers share similar cultural backgrounds to Koreans. Interestingly, if you watch the Netflix charts of some Southeast Asian countries, they look similar to that of South Korea,” an industry insider told The Korea Herald on Wednesday.

“Sharing similar cultural values that are highly relatable to each other, may be one of the reasons why the ongoing Korean series are receiving huge support from Southeast Asian drama fans,” the insider added.

“Doctor Cha” and “The Good Bad Mother” are available on streaming platforms Tving and Netflix.