SEOUL, March 14 (Korea Bizwire) – The sensational South Korean television series “Descendants of the Sun” has been giving Korean and Chinese viewers heartaches since it was first aired. The Chinese government is even warning viewers about possible ‘risks’ involved with watching the drama.
According to Chinese media, the number of views prior to the sixth episode of ‘Descendants of the Sun’ had already reached 4.4 trillion on iQiyi, the video streaming site currently airing the show in China. It was reported that the number of views exceeded the record held by ‘My Love from the Star’, another Korean production that created a craze back in 2014.
The success of the drama lead to an increase in the number users who downloaded iQiyi’s paid mobile application. The iQiyi app surged to rank sixth among paid mobile applications.
The most recent episode of ‘Descendants of the Sun’ drew a 31.2 percent rating in Seoul last week. The series chronicles the love story between an army captain and a doctor who travel to a fictitious war-torn country called Uruk to save lives. In a departure from the past, it’s the first Korean show to be aired in South Korea and China simultaneously, and is also noteworthy for being completely pre-produced. Traditionally, Korean shows are filmed on an episode-by-episode basis to give producers the chance to modify the plot or story based on viewers’ reactions.
The spreading influence of the ‘Descendants of the Sun’ craze is a cause for concern for some government officials in China.
The Chinese government took the rare action of posting a warning on its Weibo account that watching ‘Descendants of the Sun’ could put viewers’ safety at risk.
“The Korean drama ‘Descendants of the Sun’ starring Song Joong-ki, which is simultaneously aired in Korea and China, has created tens of thousands of crazy girl fans, and many are seriously lovesick with the Korean actor”, said the post. “Though you may not know, watching Korean dramas could be dangerous, and could lead to legal risks,” officials warned.
The post went on to mention a case of marriage ending in divorce after constant fighting resulting from ‘addiction’ to Korean dramas, and a jealous husband who underwent plastic surgery after his wife confessed her love for a Korean drama hero.
Chinese media are also interested in the drama, and its effect on society. Some reported that a female college student is at risk of blindness from acute glaucoma after binge watching episodes of a Korean drama. Reports related to the hero and heroine, Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo, are also flooding the airwaves.
After success in China, the craze now seems to be heading east, with recent news reports indicating that a deal had been inked to export the drama to Japan. Industry sources said Sunday that the price tag was US$100,000 per episode, signifying a rebound for Korean content in the Japanese market after a downturn caused by chilly diplomatic relations.
“Descendants of the Sun” is the first South Korean drama to command six figures per episode in nearly three years, according to the sources, indicating that Japan broadcasters have overcome their reluctance and are ready to resume imports of Korean TV dramas.
“When ‘Descendants of the Sun’ got off to a phenomenal start in both Korea and China, Japanese buyers put it at the top of their list,” one local industry source said. “The competition led to such a high price tag.”
By Francine Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)