‘Tunnel’ Debuts With Highest Viewership For A K-Drama On OCN Beating ‘Voice’ [Opinion]

In the beginning of 2017, K-dramas airing on Korean cable networks generally suffered compared to the prior year. This is especially true for the Total Variety Network (tvN), as its first and second K-dramas for the year, Introverted Boss and Tomorrow With You, have failed to produce similar viewership ratings as their 2016 K-dramas. This is compared to tvN K-dramas like Drinking Solo and Let’s Fight Ghost, which had viewership ratings between 4 to 6 percent, not K-dramas like Reply 1988 or Goblin.

The Orion Cinema Network (OCN), however, is omitted from the aforementioned generalization as their one K-drama, Voice, not only dominated, but became the most-successful K-drama to air on the network, surpassing 38 Task Force. A lot of fans believe the reason why it was so popular is the fact that it was brutally honest in its portrayal, especially the violence and shocking scenes. Even after going through censorship review and changing its age rating, it just grew in popularity and viewership.

The official poster for OCN's 'Voice'

Now OCN hopes to continue the success from Voice with their next K-drama, Tunnel. It looks like it’s off to a good start as Tunnel debuted with even higher viewership ratings than Voice.

For those who are unfamiliar with OCN’s new K-drama, Tunnel is a crime thriller starring Choi Jin Hyuk (Heirs, Emergency Couple), Yoon Hyun Min (Discovery of Life, Falling forInnocence), and Lee Yoo Young (Late Spring, Yourself And Yours). Park Gwang Ho (Jin Hyuk) is a criminal detective in 1986 who is trying to catch a serial killer. While chasing the suspect into a tunnel, he is knocked out. Upon waking, he finds himself in 2017. While in the present, crimes similar to the ones back in 1986 happen. Utilizing the resources of the present and help from elite criminal lieutenant detective Kim Seon Jae (Hyun Min) and professional criminal psychological counselor Shin Jae Yi (Yoo Young), Gwang Ho uses the “time slip” tunnel to go back in 1986 to try to capture the culprit and put an end to the serial killings.

K-drama fans are interested in Tunnel, as proven by the viewership ratings provided by both AGB Nielsen Korea and TNmS Media Korea. The debut week’s viewership ratings concluded with 3.268 percent for the Seoul National Capital Area and 3.131 percent for the nation for the former and 3.2 percent for the nation for the latter. Compared to Voice‘s debut week viewership, that is one percent more across the board.

The official poster for OCN's 'Tunnel'

It is no surprise that OCN has been growing in popularity, especially when it comes to K-dramas centered on crime and suspense. On a personal note, I’ve been watching their dramas since they were made available on certain video-on-demand (VOD) sites for Korean content. Neighborhood Hero starring Park Shi Hoo, Jo Sung Ha, Lee Soo Hyuk, and Yuri was amazing but its viewership did not match just how good it was. It was 38 Task Force that really put OCN on the map, as it starred Seo In Guk, Ma Dong Seok, and Sooyoung, an extremely popular singer-actor, an actor who is currently popular for his role in Train to Busan, and one of two Girls’ Generation singers recognized for actually being good actresses.

Tunnel just started airing and will continue onward with 16 episodes until May. It airs on Saturdays and Sundays on OCN at 10 p.m. KST. For those who do not have access to Korean networks, it can be viewed on DramaFever and OnDemandKorea.

[Featured Image by the Orion Cinema Network (OCN)]