South Korea’s Entertainment Industry

South Korea is one of the countries that produces global entertainment contents that are viewed from all over the entire world including their K-pop music, K-drama and Korean films. Their entertainment industry have deemed to dominate the world with the rise of the Haikyu Wave and their incorporation of the global language of English within their contents. International global platforms like Netflix has recently been sharing its platform for many Korean series as Netflix themselves have also recently invested their fundings  in many upcoming Korean series and films that will be considered as Netflix Originals (N-series, N-films). The reason why South Korea’s entertainment industry is doing so well is due to the unique distinctive contents that separates themselves from other countries. K-pop are well known for their high quality music videos and amazing dance choreographies distinguishing themselves from the other types of music where Korean dramas also are well known for their great storylines and character developments and well known especially to incorporate their daily culture within the drama making their country’s culture well known globally. OSTs or original soundtracks are also another way for K-pop to connect with K-dramas together, where K-pop songs since long time ago have been used in K-dramas to fulfill the feelings and stories within the drama. Recent Korean Netflix series like ‘Itaewon Class’, ‘It’s okay not to be okay’, ‘Extracurricular and much more K-series have gained success in both their drama and their kpop songs within the drama as both components goes along with each other and compliments each other well. This have definitely expand the entertainment industry in South Korea to be even more well known by the world (global domination).

With the uprise of interests from people towards K-pop music and K-dramas, this benefits South Korea’s entertainment industry even more however, when comes the benefits so does their obstacles comes too. The country of South Korea have been known to be very strict and serious about their culture and are extremely sensitive with the subject matter of violence or negative actions (bullying) towards the others. This has become a current issue amongst he industry as those  who are celebrities, actors or idols are suddenly becoming magnified by the audience even more. Viewers, audience or what we call K-netizens (Korean netizens) within the social media have recently began digging into celebrities, actors and idols’ past further than they have before where many allegations and accusations were made in which some are true and some are yet to be confirmed.

K-netizens began their past diggings of idols and actors/actresses furthermore ever since the bullying allegations for one of the actors in the series ‘River where the moon rises’ came into the spotlight. The actor ( Kim Ji Soo) who played as the main character for the series was rising in fame and popularity from the airing of the series up until episode 6 where he was suddenly reported with allegations regarding to school violence, bullying and sexual assaults. After the massive amount of criticisms and Kim Ji Soo becoming the center of the controversy that the audience have circulate the news everywhere, the production team then decided for Ji Soo to be stepping down from the series ‘River where the moon rises’. 

This is one of the examples of the controversies within South’s Korea entertainment industry where in this case, everything and everyone is affected by the controversy as firstly the production team has been heavily impacted by the situation as they must change their actor and reshoot all of the entire drama again with a new actor replacement ( where initially the drama has completed 95 percent of filming), this causes much damage and loss to the production’s financials as they must redo everything again as their payments increases. Secondly, the drama’s cast themselves are affected as they must reschedule every work schedules and find time to reshoot all the scenes again, however in this case the cast members are all willing to reshoot again for no payments as they know that the production team have suffered a lot from the controversy. It’s like light within the darkness. Thirdly, the audience and viewers themselves are also impacted as the controversy has horrified many viewers who are victims to these similar cases as they are seeing someone who is a predator almost being successful and living their life without fear on national television and platforms.

After and during Kim Ji Soo’s controversy, many more similar cases of bullying accusations has come to light which also includes K-pop idols too. A total of 12k-pop idol allegation cases arose and around 3 more are actors’ allegation cases. The allegation cases involves Naeun (APRIL),  Soojin ( (G)I-DLE), Yunhyeong (iKON), Kim Sohye (I.O.I), Mingyu (Seventeen), Hyunjin (Stray Kids), Sunwoo  (THE BOYZ), Chuu (LOONA), Soyeon ((G)I-DLE), Kihyun (MONSTA X), Aisha (EVERGLOW) and HyunA. Actors including Jo Byung Gyu, Kim Ding Hee, Park Hye Su. Where all these idols and actors/actresses were accused of bullying and school violence allegations which these allegations have immediately affected their ongoing career as many of them have stepped down from their group’s promotions temporarily and also were removed from many of their endorsements and advertisements that they have contracted with.

There are many examples of further loss due to these allegations including APRIL’s Naeun who was replaced in one of her 60 percent filmed drama of ‘Taxi Driver’ that will be re-film again with another cast impacting on the production and their crews and another case of Park Hye Su who have caused her starring drama ‘Dear M’ to be postponed indefinitely all due to the bullying accusations.

Another main current issue within the industry nowadays is the fact that K-netizens are so sensitive about Korean culture especially about distortion and culture appropriation that they will criticize until change happens. In this term of change sometimes it’s for the worse where for example just recently, a zombie historical drama of ‘Joseon Exorcist’ was cancelled when they had only aired one episode, this is due to all the criticisms the drama received in the aspects of distorting the Korean culture history and also involving too much Chinese culture within the drama. Months of preparations and hard works were all for nothing as these efforts were overlooked and vanished within days as to dynamic response criticisms from the viewers. Before the drama was cancelled, many sponsorships have withdraw their contracts due to the controversy. After the controversy where ‘Joseon Exorcist’ was cancelled, the main casts from the drama came upfront and apologize for the controversy on their social media in which the faults are not even on them. The consequence after this controversy has been affecting other upcoming dramas that haven’t even finished their filming and air yet. The latest news report on the drama ‘Snowdrop’ that has been invested by some Chinese sponsorships have already been critically accused for distortion of Korean culture within their storyline where the drama hasn’t even aired yet. Some viewers are even making petitions to cancel the drama when they haven’t even seen the content. I think in this case, it’s a case of being too biased towards their own perception and beliefs where the drama isn’t being criticized based on what will be present but was criticize because of the audience’s perception and own opinions.

Another case is the drama ‘Mr.Queen’ that have already finished its airing and was one of the highest watched drama of all time, the drama was suddenlybrought up and criticized after the ‘Joseon Exorcist’ controversy where the drama ‘Mr.Queen’ also relates to a little distortion in Korean history where this matter again affected the drama to now be banned from watching on all platforms in Korea as the streaming videos were erased out.

From all these cases and matters, I want to conclude that the current crisis within South Korea’s entertainment industry all comes along from the fame and attention that Korean actors/actresses, idols and celebrities are gaining. It also shows how sensitive viewers and audience are towards theses type of violence and behaviors and that in South Korea, it’s already a hard career journey to become successful within the entertainment industry, but it is a harder journey to keep on the spotlight shining to them and not lose their success. Audience and viewers act just like magnifying glasses towards the entertainment industry magnifying every aspect where the audience’s perception of something might be different from what the message was originally intended to convey. The lesson here I believe would be to look at a matter in many perspectives not just basing on how you see it as so that the society will be able to criticize correctly and accurately. I think that this topic matter of South Korea’s entertainment industry and its current crisis can relate to media and social diversity (JM204) in many aspects as the matter mainly involves the media and fits into theory like post modernism where people now view K-pop and K-dramas in their own representation perspective of what it should be like rather than the reality.