Within the past few years Korean dramas, more commonly known as K-dramas, have risen in popularity, riding the “Korean wave” (a recent spread in popular Korean culture worldwide including music, entertainment, and fashion). I believe that this is primarily due to the widespread availability of Korean commodities via streaming services and the modern-day globalization of consumer industries.

During Japan's rule over Korea, radio broadcasting began in 1927, enabling the start of K-dramas and laying the foundations for the first national TV channel known as the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), which started up in 1961. The next big step for Korean television, and thus drama, was when in the 1980s the colour TV became available commercially across the country. This amassed large view counts in Korea to the extent where the Korean times described how “Streets became quiet at around the airing time of” K-dramas. Yet despite this rise in popularity, K-drama wholly stayed in South Korea, and its international view counts remained low.

However, as we delve into the present era, we see a newfound appreciation of K-dramas internationally. This proposes the notion that the advancement of the internet and the widespread availability of streaming services, including the new options of having shows subbed or dubbed for overseas viewers, allowed the genre to expand its view counts exponentially. This increase of popularity scaled up to the K-drama film ‘parasite’ winning the academy award for best picture, and Hwang Dong-hyuk’s ‘squid game’ receiving over 111 million viewers within 17 days of its release, becoming Netflix’s most-watched program.

Overall, the future of Korean drama is uncertain; the rise in popularity could just be a seasonal trend, the genre could even continue to grow, or western film companies could wring out K-drama for money. In conclusion, there is no definite answer, but as a modern audience, we are left with the exciting prospect of watching it unfold first-hand.