Masked singing shows such as “The Masked Singer” have grown popular all around the world. Why? There’s universality in its simplicity.

“Since Korea has been leading that trend, we’ve continued to create music entertainment with guessing game elements,” said Il Joong Kim from Format East at the Variety Streaming Room presented by the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA). Format East is a subsidiary of SBS, a private broadcasting company in Korea, focused on researching, developing and distributing formats.

Recently, the company developed a new game show called “DNA Singer,” a show that utilizes the trend of adding guessing game elements to music entertainment. Kim spoke to why he believes shows in this format are so successful.

“We created the format with this key point of interest: Do people who share the DNA of famous celebrities, especially singers, also share the gene of being a good singer?” asked Kim. “We’ve pitched this to many formats and production companies across the world, and it never takes longer than a minute for them to understand this concept. We take pride in how easy it is to understand this format and generate interest.”

Jun Young Song, program director and showrunner for KBS, noted that the musical competition series have a special resonance with Korean viewers because of how important music is to pop culture and the history of the nation since the civil war in the 1950s. That heart-tug is a big part of the appeal of KBS’ new format “The Songs We Loved,” which features new artists covering massive pop hits from the 1970s through the 1990s.

“As you know Korean society is continuing to develop and has now become an advanced nation,” Jun Young Song said.
“Koreans always incorporated the sentiments of those periods into their songs to overcome such difficult times. More than just serving to overcome difficult times, these songs really touch people’s emotion and sentiments. That power is in the lyrics and the music.”

A key element of a successful masked singing show is getting the casting right. Already in the middle of production, Kim and his team have created a list of about 100 celebrities in Korea and are reaching out to them one by one. The secret to this format’s success however truly lies in its universality in simplicity.

“Personally, I’ve realized that in order to sell Korean content in the global market, the concept itself must be universal, intuitive and high-concept, but the content relaying that concept must be incredibly simple,” said Kim. “Like the simple games in ‘Squid Game,’ the content itself must be entertaining, and we’ve experienced that it’s an effective strategy in the global market.”

KOCCA is a South Korean governmental agency designed to promote the nation’s growing content industry. It was created in May 2009 through the integration of five existing organizations including the Korean Broadcasting Institute, Korea Culture & Content Agency and Korea Game Agency.