K-Drama Fever Sweeping Indian Youth

According to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), the Indian entertainment industry’s total worth is around $30 billion, which is expected to reach $91 billion by 2030. Although a small part, K-drama is increasingly becoming the choice of Indian youth and contributing a lot to that $30 billion figure. The “Top 10 TV Shows in India” list on Netflix also indicates the same, where out of the top ten shows, three are Korean dramas. According to a 2020 study conducted by Netflix, K-drama’s popularity in India has increased by a whopping 370% in 2019. Most people call this the “Hallyu wave,” which literally translates to “Korean Wave.” 

This might come as a surprise, but this is not the first time India has been hit by the Hallyu wave. Indian and Korean dramas have a long-standing history. The first chapter of K-Drama in India commenced in the 1970s when the Revolutionary People’s Front took over parts of the Northeast and outright banned Hindi media. For this reason, people in the region started watching K-dramas. The second wave came with PSY’s famous song, Gangnam Style, and then finally, in 2016, a boy band by the name BTS came and took over the K-Pop and K-Drama scene, not just in India but the whole world. 

Since 2016, K-drama has seen a significant rise in popularity in India. According to a 2019 survey, 24% of respondents said that they have watched K-drama. This has also created new opportunities for small OTT platforms like MX Player, which created a whole new segment that only featured Korean dramas and saw a 100% increase in viewership. The monumental popularity of K-drama shows has motivated Indian producers to take inspiration from K-drama. An Indian show, “ Kaisi Ye Yaariyan”, became very popular in India, but very few people know that the show was an Indian version of another popular K-drama show, “Boys Over Flowers”. 

According to the Economic Times, the Indian traffic on a K-Drama-oriented streaming platform, Rakuten Viki, increased by 46% during the lockdown. Even Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, cited the increasing popularity of K-drama when she said, “ Over the last two years, we have seen the world falling in love with incredible Korean content. Made in Korea and watched by the world on Netflix.”

K-dramas have transcended screens to shape fashion, food, and more, crafting a unique niche in India’s entertainment landscape. This Hallyu wave, riding on the back of relatable storytelling and cultural resonance, has indeed exemplified the universal language of art and emotion.

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