Quick! Off the top of your head, which K-Dramas have been talked about the most in recent years?
If you said “Sky Castle,” “Reply 1988,” “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God,” “Mr. Sunshine” and “100 Days My Prince,” you would be correct. And something they all have in common is that they aired on Korea’s cable television.
Like U.S. television, the big three Korean networks — KBS, MBC and SBS — have been hit hard by competition from cable television, which has produced some highly entertaining content.
So when I saw that two new KBS2 dramas were premiering soon, the first thing I thought was, “Uh oh.” Because they will have their work cut out for them to attract viewers.
Why? Of the Top 50 K-Dramas that aired on network television, only 34% of the programming aired on a KBS1 or KBS2, according to AGB Nielsen Media Research. To put things into perspective, my mother‘s favorite channel is KBS. Bless her heart, but she is not in the key demographic group that anyone covets.
The highest rating for any KBS series was 1997’s “First Love,” which aired on KBS2. With a 65.8% viewership, it’s the second highest K-Drama of all time. (The highest-rated series was MBC’s “You and I” the following year.)
Bear in mind that with competition from cable TV drawing viewers away from network television, it would be difficult for any K-Drama to snare those kinds of numbers these days.
The plot for “My Fellow Citizens” revolves around a con artist who ends up married to a law enforcement officer and … runs for a political office. Of course, this series has the benefit of starring Super Junior’s Choi Si-won in the role of the fraud. Just from the trailers I’ve seen, his puckish charm is on full display. The man can’t help himself, as he proved over and over in “She Was Pretty.”
Kim Min-jung, who many of you will remember from her brilliant portrayal of a savvy young widow in “Mr. Sunshine,” is also in the cast. I’m not going to lie: I am very interested in seeing how their dynamics work out. Currently, there are 40 episodes — each running about 35 minutes — slated to premier on April 1.
As for “Doctor Prisoner,” hmmmm. Without a household name to draw viewers in, the series will have to rely on the storyline, which sounds iffy. After being accused of malpractice, a doctor has to reinvent his career after leaving his hospital. He finds a job as a prison doctor and uses his surroundings to take vengeance against those who wronged him. The 40-episode series is set to premier on March 20. The running time for each episode is slated for 35 minutes.
I’d be willing to give this series a shot solely based on Namkoong Min in the starring role. He was brilliant in another doctor-themed series, but that time he didn’t play a physician. In 2016’s “Doctors,” he played the sole caretaker for two young sons. Not poor enough to qualify for financial aid programs designed to help the indigent meet their hospital costs, he learns that social service will provide free care for orphans. So he contemplates suicide so that his child can get the surgery he needs. His story arc stayed with me long after the series finale.
What do you all think? Will “Doctor Prisoner” and “My Fellow Citizens” be hits? Do you plan on watching? Let me know in the comments!
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