In my blog post dated 19 January 2015, it is mentioned that webtoons or webcomics have gained popularity in South Korea due to the widespread internet network. Their close relatives, web dramas (i.e., mini-dramas consisting of 6 to 10 episodes with each episode being 5 to 20 minutes long distributed through the internet) are also attracting more attention in South Korea. For example, the web drama “After School: Lucky or Not” (방과 후 복불복), which is a story about an after-school club, got 10 million views on the Chinese website, Sohu.com. Another web drama “Aftermath” (후유증), which is about a teenager with supernatural powers, got 4 million views in just a few weeks.
With the growing popularity of web dramas, big companies are entering this field to capture the young generation audience who are glued to their mobile phones. For example, state-run broadcasting corporation, KBS, has launched a full-scale web drama service through its web portal page. Samsung also produces its web drama series.
Some web dramas are adapted from webtoons. For example, KBS plans to produce the web drama version of the webtoon, “Prince of Prince” (프린스의 왕자), which is a story of two men betting on the future of a game company which has employed good-looking men only, and this web drama will consist of 7 episodes, each 10 minutes long. Samsung’s web drama “Infinite Power” (무한동력) is also adapted from a popular webtoon, which is about the ups and downs of several young job-seekers living together as housemates and their landlord who creates a power generator that can run ad infinitum without fuel, and this web drama consists of 6 episodes of 15 minutes long each.
On the other hand, KBS tries to use the web dramas to complement its TV dramas. For example, prior to the airing of the 70-minute single episode drama “The Search for Battle” (간서치열전) on the TV, KBS split the drama into 7 episodes of 10 minutes each and uploaded the first 6 episodes onto Naver TV Cast. After promoting and attracting viewers with the first 6 episodes, KBS aired the full version on the TV and then released the final episode on the internet. “The Search for Battle” tells the story of Hong Gil-dong (홍길동), the Korean equivalent of Robin Hood of Joseon Dynasty.
As web dramas become popular, famous Korean stars also play roles in web dramas. For example, famous drama stars, Kim Woo-bin and Jang Hyuk, appeared in the recent web drama, “Love Cells” (연애세포), which is adapted from a romance webtoon between a loser (who tries to revive his dying love cells) and a top star. You can view the first episode of “Love Cells” (with English subtitles) by clicking the link below:
The web dramas “The Search for Battle”, “Aftermath”and “Infinite Power” are available on the KBS web drama site. You can watch the trailers of “After School: Lucky or Not” by clicking the links below:
Happy watching! 🙂
Reminder: The next blog post will be published on 6 February 2015. Watch this space!
“KBS to produce web-drama version of ‘Prince of Prince’ “, The Korea Times, 2015-01-18
“KBS launches web drama service portal“, KBS World Radio, 2015-01-16
Yang Sung-hee, “Web dramas hook Korea’s youth“, Korea JoongAng Daily, 2014-11-03
Athena Yenko, “Samsung launches Korean drama online “Infinite Power”“, International Business Times, 2013-11-13
Jeyup S. Kwaak, “Samsung debuts online drama series“, The Wall Street Journal Asia, 2013-11-11