Korean stars reap rewards of hallyu drama success

20 March 2016 / 7 months 6 days ago

Jung Eun-jin
The Korea Herald/ Asia News Network
Sunday, Mar 20, 2016

Behind the glory of hallyu dramas are the star-studded casts.

After garnering attention abroad in Korean dramas -- mainly other Asian countries including China and Japan -- stars quickly jump into dramas and variety shows there

Overseas endorsements, and fan meetings follow, consolidating their positions, as well as the prominent status of hallyu.

Starting with the unexpected success of the KBS2 TV drama series "Winter Sonata" which aired on Japanese satellite channel BS2 in 2003, the drama's protagonists Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo enjoyed a meteoric rise as the first hallyu drama stars.

Lee Young-ae, who starred in MBC TV drama "Jewel in the Palace" the following year, replicated the two stars' success, keeping hallyu alive.

The SBS hit drama "My Love from the Star" which recorded 2 billion views on Chinese video platform iQIYI in 2014, set a milestone for hallyu dramas.

Kim Soo-hyun, until then best known for KBS2 series "Dream High," MBC fusion historical drama "Moon Embracing the Sun," and webtoon-based film "Secretly, Greatly," became active in China after the international success of "My Love from the Star," where he played the male lead Do Min-joon.

Kim has appeared in local variety shows in China including Jiangsu TV's "The Brain" and "Bring You To The Stars" in 2014 and Sohu TV's "Stars From Korea." In 2014, Kim was also reported to have set a new record by signing 35 endorsements deals, 16 of them in China.

Park Hae-jin, another male lead of "My Love from the Star," has built up a career as a hallyu star in a slow and steady way, unlike his contemporaries. Even before the SBS drama became popular in China, Park had appeared in Chinese TV dramas starting in 2011 including Hunan TV's "Another Kind of Splendid Life," Xi An TV's "Loves Relativity," in "Secret Society of men -- Friends" which aired on four Chinese channels including Zhejiang TV and Dongfang TV last year, and Guangdong TV's "Far Away Love" this year.

Park also played the male lead in the tvN drama series "Cheese in the Trap" this year, which will be released on Chinese websites Youku and Tudou this summer. He was reported to have signed endorsements with 15 advertisers this year, estimated to be worth 11 billion won in total.

Meanwhile, the hottest hallyu rookie Song Joong-ki is enjoying popularity in China as KBS2 TV drama series "Descendants of the Sun" is being broadcast simultaneously in China on iQIYI.

Song, who debuted in the film "A Frozen Flower" in 2008, shot to stardom in 2010 with KBS2 fusion historical drama "Sungkyunkwan Scandal."

While carving out his position as an entertainer by appearing on SBS variety show "Running Man" from 2010 to 2011 and on KBS music programme "Music Bank" as an MC from 2009 to 2010, Song continued to build up his acting career.

After serving in the military, from 2013-2015, Song made a strong comeback with "Descendants of the Sun," which has made him the hottest star of the moment.

The KBS2 TV drama hit 400 million cumulative views on iQIYI, out-performing "My Love from the Star." It will also begin airing on the Japanese cable channel Elsei Gekijou in June.

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