Earlier this year, on April 27, the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) aired their newest K-drama titled Master: God of Noodles. Also known as The Master of Revenge and Time of the Beast, it had a lot to live up to because it was taking over the time slot originally occupied by the best K-drama of 2016 so far, Descendants of the Sun.
Thankfully, at its initial airing, Master: God of Noodles started out decently with about 7 percent viewership ratings average for nationwide South Korea and 8 percent viewership ratings for the Seoul National Capital Area. Unfortunately, Master: God of Noodles has remained stagnant with viewership ratings over the course of 14 of its 20 episodes.
This is a bit of a quagmire for KBS because, by all accounts, the K-drama is produced very well. It has one of the most intricate and thrilling plots executed, the acting is superb, and the direction is so good that it leaves K-drama fans on the edge of their seat. Yet, viewership ratings remain on average at 7 percent for both TNS Media Korea and AGB Nielsen. Through further analysis, the following are probable reasons for the hindrance of viewership for Master: God of Noodles
Master: God Of Noodles Is Too Serious For Most K-Drama Fans
According to the synopsis used to pitch the K-drama to fans, Master: God of Noodles is a revenge story between Moo Myung Yi, played by Chun Jung Myung (Reset, Heart to Heart), and Kim Gil Do, played by Jo Jae Hyun (Punch, Assembly). Myung Yi wants to destroy Gil Do because Gil Do took everything away from him, including his family’s noodle making expertise and his family. Not only that, Gil Do is now one of Korea’s most-renowned chefs specifically for noodles, using the noodle-making expertise he stole from Myung Yi’s family. Now, Myung Yi wants to take everything away from Gil Do, which includes taking away the famous noodle-making restaurant Gil Do owns by becoming its new owner.
From the synopsis provided above, Master: God of Noodles is a revenge story. Its direction, however, is dark as Moo Myung Yi and Kim Gil Do try to outdo one another through espionage, betrayals, and by other transgressional means. It is possible to add in some light-hearted elements, especially when it comes to certain possible romantic relationships, but Master: God of Noodles does not go in such a direction making it a serious K-drama. Such would turn off the majority of viewers from watching it as it can be too depressing. If one were to think about it, most K-dramas do their best to be light-hearted, or at least incorporate light-hearted elements if it is serious like Master: God of Noodles. This drama, however, does not so far.
Master: God Of Noodles Is Lacking A Decent OST
Usually in K-dramas, the original soundtrack (OST) featuring songs performed by famous K-pop acts helps bolster its popularity, and a great example of such would be Reply 1988. Their OST is split into 11 parts consisting of popular remakes of old songs. Such a concept, which originally was formed from Reply 1997 and Reply 1994, have proven to be well-received among fans. At the moment, Master: God of Noodles only has one song recognized as part of its OST, “Crazy for You” by Yoon Sung Hyun. To be frank, the song does not seem to fit well with the overall theme of Master: God of Noodles, making it somewhat awkward to be included.
The score, on the other hand, was phenomenally done well as it fits the suspense and darkness of the K-drama, but there are certain scenes in which a sad song would be more influential than a score. So far, there is one scenario (which I will not detail to avoid spoilers) in which a song, performed in English, just fit well for the situation, as shown in the video above. Yet, it is not an official song making it harder for fans to find information about it as the title and performer are still unknown.
Master: God Of Noodles Is A Title That Does Not Seem To Fit The K-Drama
A lot of K-drama fans, especially on multiple streaming sites specializing in Korean television and film, argued that the main title primarily used, Master: God of Noodles, does not sound like a title that fits the K-drama overall. True Kim Gil Do gained his fame by stealing the noodle making expertise of Moo Myung Yi’s family and there are numerous scenes of noodle making shown throughout the series, but the core of the K-drama’s plot is revenge by any means necessary.
Master: God of Noodles is a title that sounds like it would fit a K-drama centered on a cooking competition or the passing of the torch of a prestigious noodle restaurant, not one heavily dependent on revenge. To highlight that main detail of the drama’s plot, the other titles, Master of Revenge or Time of the Beast, would have been far better to hook in viewers.
The Fanfare of Descendants Of The Sun, Which Includes A “Three Part Special” Caused K-Drama Fans To Remain Interested In It Despite Concluding
Out of all the K-dramas that have aired in 2016 so far, the most popular and most successful one was Descendants of the Sun. Over the course of its 16-episode run, it accumulated an average of 27 percent viewership rating across the nation of Korea and 29 percent viewership rating in the Seoul National Capital Area. As a matter of fact, the final episode earned over 40 percent viewership rating in certain areas of South Korea. The last time an episode of any K-drama attained that viewership rating was back in 2012 with Moon Embracing the Sun.
Needless to say, many K-drama fans who followed Descendants of the Sun will still talk about it after it is done. Not only that, but the industry itself will keep the ball rolling with analysis reports on the success of the drama and its stars being requested for appearances, especially the variety shows and talk shows, and even be sought out for CF contracts. Add in that KBS treated fans to a “Three Part Special” to air after Descendants of the Sun concluded, Master: God of Noodles had very little chance to be seen.
Ultimately, K-drama fans can say that Master: God of Noodles did well to keep up with itself in the time slot originally occupied by Descendants of the Sun. Although a 7 percent viewership average is considered high on the low end of viewership, it should be noted that Master: God of Noodles is at least keeping steady in said viewership. Maybe it will find a second life after it concludes through streaming sites. It did happen for Please Come Back, Mister, so anything is possible.
Master: God of Noodles airs on KBS on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9:55 p.m. KST. For those who do not have access to Korean channels, it is available for viewing for free with ads, pending region, on both DramaFever and Viki.
[Image via Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) Promotions for Master: God of Noodles]