K-dramas craze takes over OTT

Audiences around the world are falling in love with Korean stories, artists, and culture and India is no exception. We take a look at why K-dramas haven taken India by storm
Can’t stop bingeing on K-dramas
Can’t stop bingeing on K-dramas
Published on Oct 17, 2021 02:09 PM IST
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Since the last year, when it comes to entertainment, OTT is all that anyone can talk about. The volume of content consumption on OTT has gone through the roof, especially during the pandemic. Other than Hindi, English and regional languages, people have been enthralled with Korean content, especially Korean dramas or K-dramas as they are called.

The rise of K-Dramas and their immense popularity in India, amid the pandemic, only proves that good content appeals to universal audience. Look at the latest sensation, Squid Game, a show that has been devoured by audiences in over 90 countries and amassing 111 million viewers worldwide. Stories made in Korea are being watched and loved globally, and India is no exception. Today, a well told story has the ability to make us laugh, or get excited or feel angry regardless of the language.

Squid Game has been devoured by audiences in over 90 countries and amassing 111 million viewers worldwide.
Squid Game has been devoured by audiences in over 90 countries and amassing 111 million viewers worldwide.

Filmmaker Milap Zaveri feels that Korean DNA is very “Hindi or Bollywoodish”. Analysing the appeal of K-dramas, he adds, “Squid Game is a phenomenal show and the whole world has loved it. What K-dramas thrive on are emotion, heroism, rage and family. They are almost like our content except we have songs and dance, though they have awesome soundtracks too. They are ‘filmy’ in general, but of course, some are way more gory and violent than our content. But their essence lends themselves well to Indian emotions. Due to the pandemic and OTT platform boom, we have realized that content is not bound by language. People from world over are consuming different types of content and having subtitles really helps. It’s great that we are watching content from around the world and even they are watching ours.”


There are all kinds of K-dramas out there but a few that stand out among the many include zombie thriller, Kingdom, teen crime Extracurricular, horror drama Sweet Home, crime drama Vincenzo and romantic dramas – Inheritors, Goblin, and Crash Landing on You which are some of the biggest hits.

OTT platform Netflix started working with Korean filmmakers and talent in 2016, and have introduced over 80 original Korean shows and films. Talking about why Korean stories are relatable to Indian audiences, a Netflix spokesperson says, “People are inherently culturally curious, intrigued by stories from around the world. And an authentically told story will resonate with viewers around the world. Netflix subs and dubs in over 30 languages. The ever-growing fandom of Korean stories and characters in India is testament to that. With subtitles and dubs, the language barrier has lowered, and our members have discovered and enjoyed authentic K content. The viewing for K-dramas on Netflix in India increased more than 370% in 2020 over 2019.”

Crash Landing on You
Crash Landing on You

Filmmaker Ali Abbas Zafar, who directed the Salman Khan starrer Bharat (2019), which was based on the 2014 South Korean film Ode to My Father, shares, “I think Korean and Indian cultures have many similarities, especially family values, which is why they connect with Indian audiences. Moreover, their quality of content is superior and the fact that they are thinking little ahead of curve. Their stories are ahead of time yet relatable so they provide newness. All these points attract audiences internationally and Indian audience is part of the international audience so it streamlines well for them.”

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

A number of celebrities, too, enjoy K-dramas and are self-admitted “fans”. Divyanka Tripathi Dahiya loves how the creators play with the content, “even the simplest stories”. She observes, “Their creativity is not limited. If we were to make something like that, we would fit the plot in our set template, ek his dharra hota hai hamara. But they go beyond it and even beyond Hollywood at times. Their presentation of actors, costume and look are on point. The acting skills are fabulous and so relatable. I loved It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, how layered the script and characters were and how Kim Soo-hyun and Seo Yea-ji acted. I was so hooked that I couldn’t stop watching.”

Eijaz Khan, who loves thrillers in K-dramas, feels that they have a different flavour and are very sensitive while depicting relationships. He attributes the rise of K-dramas to the super popularity of the Korean pop group BTS. He says, “There is interest in Korean culture due to them, Indians want to see more of Korea including K-dramas. Even the award winning film Parasite intrigued many in India and now Squid Game is doing so well.”

Pavitra Punia’s friends introduced her to some Korean dramas and before she knew it, she was bingeing on them. She shares, “I am currently watching Hometown Cha Cha Cha, which is an entertaining romantic story and what impresses me the most are the subjects and stories and their cinematography is superb too.”

Deepika Singh agrees that K-dramas are not only exciting but well-made. She says, “I love their stories and plots. My few favourites are It’s Okay to Not Be Okay and Kingdom. I am going to watch Squid Game next.”

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Monday, December 06, 2021