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Korean Drama Gets American Twist With Viki’s ‘Dramaworld’

As the Korean drama genre grows in popularity, it gets an American spin with the online debut of “Dramaworld,” a 2016 Viki original series, produced in the American/Korean/Chinese partnership with Jetavana Entertainment, EnterMedia Contents and Third Culture Content. The cast and creatives of the online series gathered at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate the Sunday series premiere at Viki.com.

There will be ten episodes total, with two new episodes released online every Sunday.

Tammy Nam, CEO of Viki.com said, “We loved this idea because Viki is such a fan-driven site. The story is about a fan’s fantasy of stepping into a drama you love.” Nam also commented on the global appeal of Korean dramas: “There’s hundreds of millions of fans of Korean content. ‘Dramaworld’ will also be available on two partner streaming platforms, which I can’t talk about right now.”

“Dramaworld” co-executive producer and star Sean Dulake did an ad campaign for Viki in 2013 with Chris Martin and when that campaign went viral, Dulake and Martin realized there was a huge audience for Korean content.

“Viki has 40 million viewers a month and 80% of them aren’t Asian,” said Dulake. “Chris called me up with this idea and we knew we had to get it made. The concept of a superfan is a universal concept. Following this girl’s story is fun; she’s a fish out of water and it’s a romantic comedy.”

Set in Los Angeles and Seoul, the first-ever American-Korean mashup series “Dramaworld” is written by Josh Billig and Martin and directed and executive produced by Martin (not the Coldplay lead singer). Claire Duncan (Liv Hewson) is a 20-year-old college student who finds her real life boring. She’s fixated on her favorite Korean drama, “Taste of Love,” starring her favorite actor Joon Park (Dulake), who plays the hot chef and protagonist in the show.

Through a touch of the supernatural and a sprinkle of magic, Claire’s desire to shed her own boring life and live in the world of “Taste of Love” comes true when she is transported into her favorite drama and comes face-to-face with Joon Park. There, Claire also meets the mysterious waiter Seth Ko, who made his own journey into the drama years ago from the real world and mentors Claire on how to navigate the drama world.

Martin was a huge fan of Korean films like “Sympathy for the Vengeance” and moved to Seoul right after college to attend film school there because he was so enamored of the culture. He referred to “Descendants of the Sun,” a recent series that’s received billions of views online, as just one of the wildly popular dramas that contributed to his love of the genre. Martin admitted to being a superfan of the “Fargo” TV series, season two in particular. “Season two was a different level, they weren’t bound to anything anymore, they could play a little.”

The screening of the first three episodes of “Dramaworld” was followed by a short panel with the cast and creatives and a party on the rooftop of the Ace Hotel that took full advantage of the spectacular views of downtown L.A. Crew members from Korea flew in for the celebration as well as friends and family.

“Dramaworld” is just the first original series for Viki.com. Nam also talked about an upcoming original scripted project with Skybound Entertainment.

“It’s a co-production,” she said. “David Alpert [president of Skybound] said he believes ‘Five Year’ has the potential to be bigger than ‘The Walking Dead.’ It’s a Korean drama and it’s going to be produced in Korea, with a Korean cast and crew. It’s a very interesting collaboration. It should be ready in early 2017.”

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