With the hit Korean drama “My Love from the Star” sweeping China, its government is keeping a wary eye on the frenzy the drama has created in the nation.
The U.S. daily Washington Post reported Friday that the Chinese government officials discussed the popular Korean drama’s success with envy at the ongoing China‘s National People’s Congress, where the country‘s highest governing bodies meet annually to discuss legislative issues.
In a committee of China’s political advisory body (CPPCC), the Korean soap opera reportedly topped the agenda. The delegates from the culture and entertainment industry spent a whole morning lamenting “why China cannot make a show as good and as big of a hit,” the U.S. media outlet said.
The popularity of the drama in China is, in fact, more visible than ever. After the show‘s female lead mentioned “beer and fried chicken” in an episode, eating them instantly became a fad among Chinese fans.
|Customers line up in front of Korean restaurants in the Korea town, Shanghai. (Yonhap)
Korean restaurants in Minhang, the Korean concentrated district of Shanghai, are reaping benefits from the buzz. Since they started selling beer and fried chicken, Chinese customers have flocked to the restaurants even when they have to queue up for tens of minutes.
“I frequently buy Korean foods such as beer and fried chicken to eat when watching Korean dramas at home,” a Chinese person told Korean news agency Yonhap News. “My friends and I often talk about Korean dramas and celebrities.”
“My Love from the Star” features an alien who arrived in Korea by traveling through time from the Joseon era 400 years ago and ends up falling in love with a modern-day actress. The romantic comedy series has garnered more than 2.5 billion views online and achieved the country’s highest viewership.
|Kim Soo-hyun (left), Jun Ji-hyun (Yonhap)
Kim Soo-hyun, the male lead in the show, also captured hearts in China with the drama’s soaring popularity.
Kim, who recently appeared on Chinese variety show “Super Brain,” reportedly arrived on a chartered plane hired for him by the Chinese broadcaster. According to Chinese news reports, the price of the show‘s admission tickets skyrocketed to as much as $5,000.
Many government officials in China view the explosive popularity of the Korean drama as a heavy blow to Chinese confidence in their culture. “It is more than just a Korean soap opera. It hurts our culture dignity,” the Washington Post quoted a CPPCC member as saying.
But more than the cultural dignity is at stake. The bitterness about the Korean drama’s success is linked with the regional rivalries, according to the U.S. daily.
China, who has long considered itself “the source of East Asian culture,” is now facing challenges from Japanese comics and Korean soap operas in its pop culture, the paper concluded.
By Ock Hyun-ju, Intern reporter (firstname.lastname@example.org