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Five Ways Chinese Investments Are Changing K-Dramas

BY Julie Jones | Feb 22, 2016 12:21 PM EST


The Chinese market for k-dramas is growing and so is the amount of Chinese money being invested in k-dramas. More than $1 billion has been invested in Korean media in 2015, according to Korea's Small and Medium Business Administration.

The far-reaching consequences are hard to predict but a few things have already changed.

Casting is more international.

A star may be cast in a k-drama or variety show because of his or her popularity in China. Park Hae Jin was a smart casting choice for Yoo Jung on "Cheese in the Trap," not only because he's right for the character but also because he has a huge following in China. Many Hallyu actors now also make Chinese dramas, further promoting the popularity of their k-dramas. And Chinese actors may appear in k-dramas, such as the presence of actor Bolon Chen int he upcoming drama "Monster."

Korean ratings matter less.

"Running Man" has suffered from lower ratings during the past six months but appearances from actors such as Song Joong Ki keep the program popular in China.

"Regardless of domestic ratings, 'Running Man' is making more money from the sale of the copyright for the Chinese version," an SBS representative told the Korean media outlet Chosun Ilbo.

More dramas are completely filmed in advance.

"Descendants of the Sun," starring Song Hye Kyo and Song Joong Ki, was completely filmed in advance. "Saimdang: The Herstory," starring Lee Young Ae and Song Seung Hoon, is also in production and will be finished before it airs. Four more dramas are currently being produced that way.

More dramas are screened for sensitive material that might offend Chinese audiences.

When Chinese money was burned by a character in the drama "Moorim School," Chinese viewers complained. "Doctor Stranger" had to be edited, with North Korean segments removed, before it could be shown in China, as China provides support for the North Korean regime. Obviously, censorship is easier when the drama is filmed in advance.

Some producers have headed for China.

According to the media outlet Korea Times, Na Young Suk is filming his next reality show there. Former MBC producer Kim Young Hee will produce an entertainment show on Hunan TV. MBC producers Shin Jung Soo, Kang Gung and Moon Kyung Tae are also headed for China.  "We Got Married," "Dad! Where Are We Going?" and "Real Men" are just some of the shows they produce.

What do you think of this development? Will Chinese investment and involvement improve dramas or change them beyond recognition?

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