Despite ‘Moorim School’ Innovative Cast And Plot, K-Drama Lacks Viewership — Trend Of School Dramas Failing Continues

On Monday, January 11, 2016, the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) took a risk when they decided to air a new K-drama within the high school genre. It was called Moorim School (also known as Moorim School: Saga of the Brave). The reason why it was a risk is because K-dramas out of the high school genre have mostly been failures as of late. In 2015 alone, there were Who Are You: School 2015, Orange Marmalade, and Cheer Up! All of them failed to break double-digits in ratings across the board.

Needless to say, KBS would still try to make Moorim School different from the others. Ergo, they incorporated two major details in hopes of making it a hit. The first is to mix the high school drama element with fantasy, martial arts, and suspense. By doing this, KBS hoped Moorim School would attract viewers who would not usually watch high school dramas. The fantasy aspect received the most attention as some reviewers said adding such made Moorim School a high school K-drama with Harry Potter elements.

Second, KBS tried to make Moorim School far more appealing to international audiences by incorporating more of an international cast. Led by Daniel Lindemann (Germany) and Sam Okyere (Ghana), other actors hailing from other countries include Alexander Lee Eusebio (China), Supasit Chinvinijkul (Thailand), and Shannon Williams (England).

Unfortunately for KBS, all they incorporated in Moorim School would be for naught as the K-drama concluded with low viewership ratings. Because of the outcome, the K-drama continues the trend that high school K-dramas in general are failures.

The final episode of Moorim School aired on Tuesday, March 8, 2016. According to Kpop Herald, its nationwide viewership rating was 3.7 percent for AGB Nielsen, a terrible number to have for a finale. However, that same percentage is technically an increase from the day before, which recorded a 2.8 percent nationwide viewership rating. That little spike is probably the only good news Moorim School got pertaining to viewership. For both nationwide viewership ratings for TNmS Ratings and AGB Nielsen, the highest they ever earned were an average of 5.25 percent nationwide for the first episode. The pattern is similar for Seoul. Since then, ratings have gradually decreased possibly as a result of criticisms of Moorim School being too unrealistic.

Moorim School fans were not surprised by the low viewership rating, knowing ahead of the finale the K-drama was not meeting expectations among the general viewership. As a matter of fact, they knew since January when KBS announced shortening Moorim School from 20 episodes to 16. According to Kdrama Stars, the low viewership was just a part of why KBS shortened the drama’s episode count. Other issues included the social issues and production costs.

Moorim School, KBS
Besides low ratings, "Moorim School" caused controversy among the Chinese when they recorded a scene of the two main leads burning Chinese money to start a fire. [Image via Screen Capture of "Moorim School"]

The question that must be asked is why KBS, or any other broadcasting system in Korea, is still making dramas set in high school when most of them have failed to deliver. The answer is quite easy as they are probably trying to attain the same popularity and prestige from another K-drama which so happened to be set in high school, Boys Over Flowers. The 2009 K-drama is credited for being a huge influence in the Hallyu Wave during a year recognized as the best for the Hallyu Wave in general. It has an average national and Seoul viewership of 27 percent each. It is also credited for skyrocketing the acting careers for Lee Min Ho and Kim Hyun Joong.

Ultimately, Moorim School is not a bad K-drama, it just happens to be pigeon-holed in a drama genre which generally has a bad rap these days. Moorim School has officially concluded, but one can still view the entire series for free (with ads) on DramaFever pending region allowance.

[Image via Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) Promotions for Moorim School]