When it comes to Asian television, it is safe to say the one country that is really making a name for themselves internationally is South Korea. Linked to phenomenal reach of popularity attained by K-pop, K-dramas followed suit right behind it as many K-pop idols were often linked to K-dramas either as idol actors or performers on original soundtracks (OSTs).
Besides that, K-dramas are just unique on their own compared to dramas aired in Europe and the Americas. Something about them is so appealing to viewers. Sometimes it is the beautiful cast members. Other times it is the romance comedy. Or maybe it’s the portrayal of everyday life that is often ignored in most television series.
Despite K-dramas being the most popular form of Asian dramas out there, they are not “the best” in every category. For starters, I believe the Chinese do a far better job when it comes to period dramas. To this day, I will back up that The Princess Weiyoung is the best period drama I have ever seen and this is coming from someone who has high praises for The Moon Embracing The Sun. Ergo, Koreans and the Chinese are starting to collaborate as they know they can produce something more than they could on their own.
However, there is one collaboration I would really like to see with K-dramas and that is with Filipino dramas (and no they are not known as F-dramas or P-dramas though they might be known as Pinoy dramas). I will explain why both will benefit from such a collaboration but right after I explain how it is possible. Right now, there is one Hallyu star who is extremely popular not just in South Korea but also in the Philippines. She is Sandara Park, also known as Dara and formerly of 2NE1. I believe if there were to be a collaboration between a K-drama and a Pinoy drama, she would be the “bridge.”
Now for K-pop fans who only know Sandara Park as Dara of 2NE1, you should know that prior to her rise as a K-pop idol, she was working on making a name for herself in the Philippines. Back in 2004, Sandara met Pauleen Luna, a former talent of ABS-CBN Corporation Channel 2’s Talent Center. She encouraged Sandara to audition for Star Circle Quest, a reality-based talent search television program. Over the course of the season, Sandara escaped elimination several times and reached the final 10 contestants. She had difficulty with some of the daily exercises because of her Korean ethnicity, but was able to finish in second place right behind Hero Angeles.
Nevertheless, Sandara Park’s popularity from Star Circle Quest meant she was highly sought out for Filipino movies and television. She had roles in Filipino films Bcuz of U, Can This Be Love, and D’Lucky Ones. As for Filipino dramas, she had roles in Krystala, SCQ Reload: Ok Ako!, Maalaala Mo Kaya: Scrapbook, Your Song: Everything You Do, and many other shows. Summarized, Sandara Park was popular in the Philippines before she became popular as a K-pop star.
Now after 2NE1 disbanded, Sandara Park has made a return to the Philippines as a judge on the music competition show Pinoy Boyband Superstar. But she is starring in numerous K-movies too. She played Si Hyun in One Step and will play Jang Bo Ra in the K-movie adaption of Cheese in the Trap. And prior to that, she’s been in numerous K-dramas and web dramas such as The Return of Iljimae, Dr. Ian, We Broke Up, and Missing Korea.
By listing Sandara Park’s film and television work in both the Philippines and South Korea, I am establishing a basis on why she would be the “bridge” for a Korea-Philippine collaboration drama. Since she’s worked in both, she knows what the strengths and weaknesses of both are. Can you imagine what a Pinoy-Korean drama would look like if both utilized each other’s strengths?
What Are K-Dramas’ Strengths?
If there is one thing K-dramas are excellent at doing, it is storytelling. Unlike other dramas that last about 30 to 40 minutes, they take the time to really tell the story. They also have a definite beginning, middle, and end all within their allocated number of episodes. Very rarely will we ever get too many filler episodes.
A lot of it has to do with the excellent production K-dramas have. Even when K-dramas weren’t the best of the best, their production was top notch because they tried to edit everything to be as smooth as possible. Now to be frank, there are more positives to mention for K-dramas, but these are the strengths that would benefit Pinoy dramas the most.
What Are Pinoy Dramas’ Strengths?
When watching a Pinoy drama, you might think their production values are not as good as Korea’s, Japan’s, or even China’s. Sad to say this but Philippines is generally a poor country, a third-world country to some extent. As a result, the lack of money clearly shows in the dramas. On a lighter note, they are getting better now but it is a slow process.
There is one detail Pinoy dramas are excellent at, a detail that they excel in compared to other Asian dramas in my opinion. They know how to really build up on emotions and really deliver on them. You think you cried watching K-dramas, wait until you hit the emotional parts of Pinoy dramas. They are far more intense. And to prove it, I will show you this year’s commercials for Jollibee, a very popular fast food chain in the Philippines. That’s right! These are fast food commercials, specifically for Valentine’s Day.
Once again, those were commercials for a fast food restaurant chain. If you couldn’t handle those, I don’t know how’d you react watching the really emotional parts of a Pinoy drama. Needless to say, if K-dramas had this intense emotional storytelling, it will really strike chords with viewers especially with the fact that most K-dramas usually end the way Koreans expect them to end.
Ultimately, I think any drama collaboration between the Philippines and South Korea will be a dream collaboration for drama fans because I doubt money will be a reason to make such happen. Once again, Philippines is a poor country and if it does come down to money, it will be based on who sponsors it.
This brings us full circle to Sandara Park. She is the “bridge” and if she is able to pitch something that entices both Korean networks and Philippine networks (more so Korean networks), then it might happen. I do believe if she pitches, Sandara will need to include the financial backing of YG Entertainment and to be frank, I am unsure how Papa YG himself, Yang Hyun Suk, would take to that.
Still, here is hoping it will eventually happen. Sandara Park, if you are reading this, I am cheering for you if you think this is a great idea.
[Featured Image by YG Entertainment/Screen Capture of ‘Fire’ M/V]