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Is ‘Blood’ More Popular With International K-Drama Fans Than With Viewers In Korea?

BY Adrienne Stanley | Mar 04, 2015 10:53 AM EST


On March 4, the Korean publication Osen published an article that has ignited a heated debate about the KBS2 drama “Blood” and the warm reception the show may be receiving from international audiences. In an article titled ‘Blood’ doing well overseas, #1 on DramaFever, a reporter for Osen explored the success of the series with DramaFever users and international audiences.

The report states that “Blood” was the most-viewed program since it premiered on DramaFever. DramaFever is a subtitled streaming site, with mobile support, whose broadcast range encompasses audiences in the United States. It should be noted, that DramaFever has the exclusive rights to broadcast “Blood” in America, while Viki currently maintains the rights for international broadcast.

The article highlighted the strengths of “Blood,” particularly touching upon the aspects of the show that might appeal to fans who are in the United States. A representative for DramaFever told Osen, “‘Blood’ is not just a vampire story and action romance. In addition, the plot contains a nice and young doctor.”

Osen continued to highlight the positive aspects of “Blood” and its performance on DramaFever. According to the article, “Blood” is performing second to “Running Man” on the site, with “Jekyll, Hyde, and I” coming in third. Interestingly, “Jekyll, Hyde, and I” has floundered in its ratings with Korean audiences when placed against the juggernaut of “Kill Me, Heal Me.” However, “Kill Me, Heal Me” is not a series that is exclusively broadcast on DramaFever; it is simulcast on Viki.

The report highlighted “Healer” as the fourth most popular series currently available on DramaFever, followed by “The Heirs,” “Roommate,” Pinocchio,” and “Kill Me, Heal Me” in seventh place. “Healer” was exclusively simulcast on DramaFever prior to its roll out on Viki, while “The Heirs” and “Roommate” continue to maintain exclusive broadcast rights on DramaFever. “Roommate” is another example of a program which continues to draw low ratings from audiences in Korea but is an international hit.

“Blood” has struggled with single digit ratings since its premiere on February 16. The ratings for the drama continues to drop as it faces stiff competition from the period series "Shine or Go Crazy" and former MBLAQ member Lee Joon in "Heard it From the Grapevine."

The series is slated for twenty episodes but has received harsh criticism from audiences in Korea, who have been dissatisfied with the acting performances delivered by Gu Hye Sun and Ahn Jae Hyun.

Producers for “Blood” addressed the controversial acting of Gu on March 1, while lending their support for the star.

The bulk of criticism faced by the lead actors in “Blood” centers on the delivery of their dialogue and speech patterns. While unusual vocal patterns may be tolerable for international fans who are not fluent in Korean, it has decreased the viewership quality for audiences in Korea.

Netizens have questioned her awkward pronunciation, unpredictable voice modulation and unnatural body articulation.

Ahn has also come under fire from domestic fans who were dissatisfied with his performance in episodes 1 and 2. During these episodes, audiences in Korea questioned his delivery of stage combat moves during action sequences and his articulation during a rooftop scene where he did not properly enunciate his lines.

Fans on Netizen Buzz reacted with mixed feelings after reading the report by Osen. One of the top comments is one that could be disparaging for international fans of K-Drama. The top voted comment was, “I don't think they know that the acting's bad. Since they don't know Korean, they probably can't get a feel for it.”

Other reactions on Netizen Buzz ranged from allegations of media manipulation by YG Entertainment, the agency which represents Gu Hye Sun, to questions regarding the placement of “Kill Me, Heal Me” on the list.

As Korean television programming becomes more popular with international audiences, it may be necessary that services like DramaFever and Viki provide better context regarding their exclusive broadcast rights and the way this influences the shows which are considered the most-viewed on their sites.

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