K-Dramas Are Evolving: Netflix Brings The Biggest Change In Production Trend

And the change is here to stay!

What do the K-Dramas tvN‘s Bad And Crazy, SBS‘s Business Proposal, and JTBC‘s Thirty Nine have in common?

The leads of “Business Proposal” | @SBSNOW/Twitter

All three of them came with only a dozen episodes!

K-Dramas are getting shorter and shorter, in the number of episodes per series, and it’s all thanks to Netflix.

| Freestocks/Unsplash

For as long as avid K-Drama viewers can remember, the total number of episodes per series has always been 16. Korean broadcasting channels and K-Drama production companies have, generally, agreed on and worked around this unwritten rule of thumb: K-Dramas (or “miniseries” as the insiders call them) air two episodes per week, 16 episodes in total, for eight weeks every series.

“Itaewon Class” from 2020 offered 16 episodes. | JTBC

This rule, however, is on the brink of becoming history. Some of Netflix’s biggest K-Dramas—like Kingdom, D.P., and Squid Game—achieved record-breaking viewer ratings at only six to ten episodes. So what’s changing?

The shift in production is a direct result of the shift in viewing patterns. Thanks to the rise of view-on-demand streaming platforms, the modern viewer has the choice to watch whenever, wherever on a mobile device—sometimes binging the whole series in one sitting. That being said, the modern viewer prefers fast-paced, “bite-sized” series that don’t require too much time or effort to watch from start to finish.

“D.P.” offered six episodes, each less than an hour. | Netflix

Granted, it cannot be overlooked that these shorter series have been well received because less episodes mean less boring flashbacks, “cringe” product placement scenes, and overplayed plot complications. K-Drama viewers voiced that while “going shorter” may be the trend, “it is not the length of the series that matters, but the quality.”

| theqoo

  • “It doesn’t matter if the series is mini, 12 episodes, or 16 episodes. I can watch 20 episodes or 24, if it’s good. The length of the series is not what matters. It has to be good and addicting.”
  • “If the plot calls for 16, 20, or even 24 episodes, that’s fine. What needs to stop is the useless dragging out of episodes. So I’m fine with eight or 12-episode series.”
  • “Just make the series as long as it needs to be while making it good. I mean, I wouldn’t want a 16-episode plot to be squished to a 12-episode series.”

All in all, the most highly-anticipated K-Dramas of 2022 are also capped at a dozen episodes max. Pachinko has eight episodes while both The Sound of Magic and The Accidental Narco come with six.

Though broadcasting channels and production companies are somewhat struggling to adapt, as annual production costs have spiked to meet the demand of more series at shorter lengths, the change is here to stay.

Source: Herald Corp, WikiTree and theqoo

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