When Total Variety Network (tvN) revealed their currently-airing series The K2, to the K-drama community, many were hyped for its release. The Korean pay channel television company known for a string of popular K-dramas this year, including Reply 1988 and Another Oh Hae Young, invested a lot of money and resources to make the K-drama epic.
Unlike their previous K-dramas, The K2 had a big-budget movie production and feel to it. The lead actor, Ji Chang Wook, became the highest paid actor for tvN probably because he had to be trained in numerous martial arts, and he had no stunt double. Advanced camera effects were used like bullet time. Finally, the action choreography was reminiscent of action films, which included fight and car chase scenes.
Despite an initial positive response among K-drama fans, both domestic and international, viewership ratings are dropping. What could cause the expensive tvN K-drama to lose the interest of Korean viewers?
Now, before we dive into the possible reasons why The K2 is falling in viewership ratings, we will only use the details that we found in other K-dramas from years past. Therefore, we will not use this year’s excuse that melodramas aren’t as popular this year because they were very popular in 2015.
We will also not use the argument that certain scenes were “too much” for Koreans, specifically the nude shower fight scene in the third episode. It was previously reported that the Korean Communications Standards Commission red-flagged the scene in which Ji Chang Wook fights other JSS bodyguards nude in the shower. However, they only gave tvN a reprimand. Also, the fact The K2 had its highest ratings three episodes later shows Koreans weren’t turned off by the scene, unlike the commission.
With the aforementioned details in mind, it is time to move on to the possible reasons, ones with a track record of being linked to failing K-dramas. Right now, there are two of them.
We will start with the most obvious reason found among the most seasoned K-drama fans about why The K2 is failing: Yoona. The face of the most popular K-pop girl group in the industry presently, Girls’ Generation, has played the lead role in four K-dramas starting with You Are My Destiny back in 2008. Sadly, her initial K-drama is the only successful one as the others — Cinderella Man, Love Rain, and Prime Minister and I — have flopped. Many K-drama fans consider Yoona’s acting to be the reason why her last three K-dramas have failed. According to them, Yoona is not very good at facial expressions, especially when she shows her “fish face.”
As a result, it was questioned if Yoona could make a welcome comeback to K-dramas after she left them to act in a C-drama, God of War, Zhao Yun. Well, K-drama fans have noticed that Yoona has greatly improved in her acting. It is still not the best of the best, but it is a lot better than her earlier roles. If anyone is going to drop The K2 because of Yoona, they most likely won’t do it due to the acting because it is more than passable compared to other K-pop idols who act. It will be because they dislike her for another reason.
Probably a more valid reason why The K2 is dropping in viewership ratings has to do with the fact it is a political drama. Almost all K-dramas that are political dramas since Hallyu was initiated are flops. Not just that, politics in K-dramas have a track record of hurting them, even if it is just for certain episodes. W came to mind when the politics in the last four episodes caused it to drop in viewership ratings too. Everything currently happening in The K2 is about Jang Se Joon (Jo Sung Ha) or Park Gwan Soo (Kim Kap Soo) running for president of South Korea.
The two details above could explain why The K2 has dropped from eight percent in viewership to about half of that number. To be fair, four to five percent is still very good given that The K2 airs on a Korean pay channel and not a Korea free-to-watch channel. Also, there is just enough action choreography and light-hearted scenes to keep viewers interested. Let’s just hope The K2 can either stay consistent or improve in the final four episodes.
The K2 airs on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. KST on tvN. For those who do not have access to Korean pay channels such at tvN, it can be viewed for free, with ads, exclusively on DramaFever, pending region. New episodes are given one week of exclusive viewership for premium members.
[Featured Image by Total Variety Network (tvN)]