South Korea has been stealing the show, literally. Addiction to Korean movies, TV series and reality shows has reached a new high. This phenomenon is felt not just in Asia, but in the US and Europe too.

But why and how did the West get hooked on to K-drama? The reasons are aplenty.

A still from 'Descendants of the Sun, a South Korean TV series.
A still from ‘Descendants of the Sun, a South Korean TV series.

Gaitsiri Mongkolsmai Lin, a K-drama enthusiast, says it usually starts with just one person in the friends’ circle who gets hooked on to a specific K-drama or a TV show, and then share it with others in the group.

“I think the people who enjoy Korean dramas fall into two categories. Those who understand it and share with others because they like it and those who start watching because there is an air of romance when they don’t fully understand what is going on,” says Lin.

Gradually, foreign viewers start appreciating Korean culture. They think it is fun to learn some Korean and enjoy the social aspect of sharing this with friends and family, adds Lin.

As these dramas usually have English subtitles, though not of high quality, it’s easier to grasp the plot.

CJ Stone, a K-drama lover, says unlike the Western soaps which primarily target women, Korean drama can be enjoyed by men as well. “I think K-dramas are realistic than the TV series that we’re used to. The characters in Korean dramas portray innocence and humor.They often have a strong sense of right and wrong. K-dramas focus on one scene for a longer time. It seems more real that way I think. A lot of them are based around love stories, but it’s not overly sexualized.” says Stone.

Video streaming sites such as Youtube, Netflix, Viki, and Dramafever too have made it easier for K-drama fans to gain access to their favorite shows.

Shows with subtitles, such as ‘Beating Again’ starring Kyung Ho-jung, So Yeon-kim, and Hyun Min-yoon and ‘This is My Love’ starring Jin Mo-joo, Sa Rang-kim and Sung Hyun-baek are the most sought-after series on Netflix.

The recently concluded Descendants of the Sun starring Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo was major hit among the online audience. Although the show wasn’t available on Netflix, viewers watched the series on Youtube and Viki.

Several fan-made videos of the show have also gone viral, making the people sit up and take notice of Korean drama as a whole.

There is a huge community of K-drama fans on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Often memes, fan-made videos and posts of Korean drama are shared on these sites with likeminded fans, bringing the community closer in the global arena.