As of now for 2017, the most popular K-drama to air on Korean public networks is Defendant. Also known as Innocent Defender, the suspenseful melodramatic crime thriller starring Ji Sung (Kill Me, Heal Me and Entertainer) and Yuri (Neighborhood Hero and Gogh, The Starry Night) kept viewers on the edge of their seats. They watched diligently with bated breath to see if Park Jung Woo (Ji Sung), prosecutor on death row for the murder of his family, can prove his innocence only with the help of Seo Eun Hye (Yuri), a defense lawyer who strives to be eloquent and rational but always loses in court.
Just because Defendant is currently the most popular K-drama of 2017 so far doesn't mean it is the only successful K-drama to air. Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People starring Yoon Kyun Sang (Six Flying Dragons, Doctors) is doing well with consistent double-digit ratings. The same goes for You Are Too Much starring Uhm Jung Hwa (A Witch's Love, The Man Who Can't Get Married) and Ku Hye Sun (Blood, Angel Eyes) until Jang Hee Jin (Introverted Boss, On The Way to the Airport) took her place from the seventh episode onward.
Another K-drama doing well with double-digit viewership is Chief Kim. The popular series received critical acclaim for its light-hearted comedic approach, but unfortunately it was unable to break the 20 percent viewership threshold.
For those who don't know what Chief Kim is about, the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) K-drama also known as Good Manager stars Namgoong Min (Girl Who Sees Smells, Beautiful Gong Shim), Nam Sang Mi (Goddess Marriage, Gunman in Joseon), Junho of 2PM, and Jung Hye Sung (Oh My Venus, Moonlight Drawn by Clouds). It is about a small-time accountant from Gunsan who works for the mob named Kim Sung Ryong (Namgoong Min). He gets the job at TQ as chief of Business Operations Department in hopes of scamming a lot of money from them to move to Denmark. However, he becomes a champion for the common workers of TQ aided by assistant manager Yoon Ha Kyung (Sang Mi) and accounting department intern Hong Ga Eun (Hye Sung) as they take on Director of Finance Seo Yul (Junho).
The synopsis above sounds interesting enough for K-drama fans to tune in -- and tune in they did. Upon Chief Kim's finale, its viewership averages for TNmS Media Korea were 14 percent for the nation and 15.3 percent for the Seoul National Capital Area. As for AGB Nielsen Korea, its averages were 15.9 percent for the nation and 16.1 percent for the Seoul National Capital Area. Take note that the highest percentage earned for any of its episodes was 19.7 percent for the Seoul National Capital Area for Episode 17 by TNmS Media Korea. In short, it almost broke 20 percent but almost isn't good enough.
As for why it was so popular, many speculate Koreans were able to relate to Chief Kim's theme of corruption being exposed and the people responsible getting what they deserve. This is most likely linked to former President Park's scandal in which her bribery was exposed.
Another unique detail about Chief Kim that is getting plenty of attention is the fact that it did not rely heavily on romance. [WARNING! Minor Spoilers Ahead! Skip To Final Paragraph To Avoid!] True, there were foreshadows of romances in Chief Kim such as Yoon Ha Kyung and Seo Yul, but it was ambiguous to the point they could simply be good friends that enjoy each others' company.
Chief Kim previously aired on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 p.m. KST on KBS. The day and time slot will now be taken over by upcoming K-drama Queen of Mystery. However, for those who are interested in Chief Kim, it can be viewed in its entirety on Viki and OnDemandKorea depending on region availability.
[Featured Image by the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS)]