Last Monday on December 19 at 10 p.m. KST, the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) debuted their newest period K-drama titled Hwarang. Also known by its other titles Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth and Hwarang Beginning, starred two popular Korean actors in the business today, Park Seo Joon (Kill Me, Heal Me and She Was Pretty) and Go Ara (Reply 1994). To round off the rest of the main cast and supporting cast, many popular K-pop idols had roles (which could either be a blessing or a hindrance) including Hyungsik of ZE:A, Minho of Shinee, and V of BTS.
Given the promotion KBS pushed out the door for Hwarang, they most likely hoped it would be another period drama success like Moonlight Drawn by Clouds. Unfortunately, the viewership ratings from the first to second episode tell another story. The first episode started out between seven and nine percent depending on the viewership rating company and if the ratings were for the nation or the Seoul National Capital Area. Historically, that is not a bad start given many K-dramas start out around an average of five percent. However, viewership is supposed to go up from the first to the second unless it isn't that good. Hwarang saw whole percentage drops bringing up the question if the series was already a flop.
Today, December 26, things are looking up for Hwarang as the K-drama finished first with double-digit viewership ratings across the board. However, it may lose all its work the next day when Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim airs again.
According to the viewership ratings of the third episode provided by both AGB Nielsen Korea and TNmS Media Korea, Hwarang earned double-digit ratings across the board for both of them and for both the nation and the Seoul National Capital Area. The former recorded 13.1 percent for the nation and 13.8 percent for the Seoul National Capital Area while the latter recorded 11.1 percent for the nation and 11.0 percent for the Seoul National Capital Area. Among K-dramas, Hwarang was ranked number one for Monday, as reported by Soompi.
Period drama fans who already vested their time to Hwarang will see this as a sign of good things to come, but we will only know for sure if the viewership is simply a fluke. This week is peculiarly different compared to last week and it all has to do with the 2016 SBS Gayo Daejun. Every year, the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) airs their end-of-the-year music special called the SBS Gayo Daejun or loosely translated from Korean to English, the SBS Battle of the Bands. The show airs on the day after Christmas at 10 p.m. This year, it so happens that the day after Christmas is on Monday. Not only that, its air time is the same as Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim. That means Hwarang probably got the viewership it earned simply because it competition was absent.
The good news for Hwarang is that the absence of Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim gave K-drama fans an opportunity to check it out. Ergo, some may find the former to be worth their time watching over the latter. Realistically though, there is probably no chance Hwarang will top Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim, a K-drama that is technically the best K-drama on free-to-watch Korean television at the moment. Even its fellow SBS K-drama The Legend of the Blue Sea, one that has so much hype surrounding it, can't match up to it.
After this week though, Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim will only have five episodes left to air. Once done, Hwarang may find itself earning double-digit ratings from then on, similar to Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo when Moonlight Drawn by Clouds concluded.
[Featured Image by Korean Broadcasting System (KBS)]