Aside from Hong Kong’s kung fu movies, Korean dramas and Asian animation are the two genres of local content that have the most success crossing borders within Asia.
Long-running Korean series play everywhere from Mongolia to the Middle East, Eastern Europe to Mexico, which otherwise have little connection with Korean culture. Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun recently reported that all four terrestrial and six satellite channels in Japan were airing Korean drama, amounting to more than 93 hours of Korean content per week.
MBC’s historical medical drama “Jewel in the Palace” this year celebrates its 10th anniversary, a decade in which South Korean TV drama exports have climbed in value from just $8 million in 2001 to $155 million in 2011, the latest data available. Most are sold as completed shows, but others have been sold as formats.
Korean dramas tend to have high-quality production values and often melodramatic plots, but despite romance as a common theme they largely steer clear of anything too explicit. That keeps them on safe ground in some of Asia’s more socially conservative countries.
The crossover between Korean drama and the vibrant K-pop scene has made Korean shows even more popular in China, where DMG and CJ E&M are soon to start co-production of “My Sweet City,” a romantic drama built around Super Junior member Henry.
Asia’s animation scene is also livelier, with new producers from emerging hubs in Malaysia, Thailand and China.
The Asian TV Forum will hold seminars and events focused on Korean formats and Asian animation.
(Pictured: Korean dramas such as “Jewel in the Palace,” travel from Asia to Europe and North America.)