‘The K2’ K-Drama: Will The Seriousness And Political Angles In tvN Series Hurt It In The Long Run? [‘The K2’ Special Report Series — Part 3 Of 5]

SPECIAL NOTE: This article is the third in a series of special reports dedicated to The K2. All articles in said series are linked below while upcoming articles are given a date and time.

  1. The K2 K-Drama: New tvN Series Starts Out Strong With High Viewership, Might Possibly Dethrone Korea’s Best Pay Channel Series To Date Another Oh Hae Young
  2. The K2 K-Drama: Were tvN Promotions Pairing K2 With Anna A Decoy For Foreshadowed Love Triangle Angle?
  3. The K2 K-Drama: Will The Seriousness And Political Angles In tvN Series Hurt It In The Long Run?
  4. The K2: K-Drama: Initial Reactions From Korean Drama Fans Show Yoona Has Greatly Improved In Her Acting
  5. The K2 K-Drama: Was Pushing Series In Edgier Direction A Means For tvN To Promote To Bigger Television Productions Both Domestically And Internationally?

Total Variety Network (tvN) put a lot of their time and resources into trying to make their currently-airing seasonal K-drama, The K2, into the next big series of 2016. Though nobody can predict if any K-drama will be wholly accepted among its viewership to the point it is a phenomenon, just like Descendants of the Sun, there are certain details Korean television companies can work on to help sway such favor to their advantage.

Associating The K2 to other phenomenal K-dramas of this year such as Descendants of the Sun and Moonlight Drawn by Clouds, it utilized both mass and social media to help build hype. This includes Ji Chang Wook and Yoona‘s return to K-dramas after starring in their respective C-dramas, Whirlwind Girl 2 and God of War, Zhao Yun. Apparently, it worked as The K2 made its debut with excellent viewership rating which continued onward with the latest episodes.

Unfortunately, The K2 is also utilizing two details in its K-drama that do not have a favorable track record. The first is its seriousness. The second is that it is part political drama or at least utilizes political angles. Will The K2 suffer for using both in the long run?

"Master: God of Noodles" and "Wanted" are two melodramatic K-dramas which aired this year. Both did not do well in viewership. [Images by Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) and Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS)]

We will begin with the “lesser of two evils,” the seriousness of The K2. According to tvN in the synopsis they provided for the K-drama, the series is technically a melodrama. Since Hallyu started, melodramas are generally serious. Over the past three years, such dramas have been either a hit or miss among Korean viewers. Sometimes, they are really popular like Mask and Marriage Contract, both surpassing double-digits in viewership. Other times, they crash and burn like Wanted and Master of Revenge, both doing so badly viewership ratings were not even recorded for certain episodes. Either way, the ratio of success to failure is less than 50/50.

Because of melodramas generally not doing well as of late, tvN made sure to add in more light-hearted scenes into The K2. This is best seen in the fourth and fifth episodes like scenes featuring Master Song, the senior Judo instructor who often embarrasses himself in front of others trying to act tough. However, the one light-hearted scene getting plenty of attention in both episodes is Yoona’s ramen happy dance, as reported by Soompi. In the fifth episode, which aired on Friday, October 7, Kim Je Ha (Ji Chang Wook) sets up the stove for Go Anna (Yoona) so she can cook ramen since she does not know how to work it. When Anna is able to cook ramen, she goes into a “happy dance” which Je Ha observes with glee since he is the bodyguard on duty.

When it comes to The K2 being a melodrama, it at least has a better chance of doing well compared to it being a political drama. Out of all the different sub-genres of K-dramas out there, political dramas are probably the most unpopular. It is as if Koreans don’t want anything to do with politics when it comes to their televised entertainment. To understand the severity politics has on a series, just look at W. The popular K-drama airing on the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) experienced a lot of popularity in which it was doing better than the highly-promoted Uncontrollably Fond. Once the series went a more political direction, viewership began to drop.

"Prime Minister and I" and "Assembly" are two political K-dramas made by KBS. Though the former is light-hearted and the latter is melodramatic, both failed to garner viewership. [Images by Korean Broadcasting System (KBS)]

As a matter of fact, the last K-dramas of the two female leads of The K2, Song Yoon Ah and Yoona, were political dramas. Starting with the latter, Yoona’s last role in a K-drama was the main female lead in Prime Minister and I opposite Lee Bum Soo three years ago. Yoon Ah’s K-drama is more recent as she was the main female lead in Assembly opposite of Jung Jae Young last year. Though Yoona’s K-drama was light-hearted and Yoon Ah’s K-drama was melodramatic, both failed to garner a viewership. It was definitely worse for Assembly because it was both political and serious. Ergo, its viewership was horrendously low maxing out at only five percent for the natio.

Right now, The K2 is doing exceptionally well in Korean viewership with its latest episode airing on Friday, October 7, earning the highest viewership for AGB Nielsen Korea for both the nation and Seoul National Capital Area. Only time will tell if The K2 being both melodramatic and a political drama will affect it in the long run.

The K2 airs on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. KST on tvN. For those who do not have access to Korean television channels, the series can be viewed for free, with ads, exclusively on DramaFever. Take note that starting with the third episode, new episodes are exclusive to premium members for one week.

[Featured Image by Total Variety Network (tvN)]