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Why watch the whole movie when you can watch recaps?

Korean independent film “Park Hwa-young” (Little Big Pictures)
Korean independent film “Park Hwa-young” (Little Big Pictures)

A growing number of YouTubers who create recap videos summarizing mostly movies and dramas are enjoying popularity among viewers who appreciate their convenience.

YouTuber Go Mong Tube, who started his channel back in 2016, is a prominent player in the field. His channel, which mainly recaps Korean movies and dramas, has more than 600 videos and over 2.14 million subscribers. One of the most popular videos on his channel is the Indian hero movie “Krrish” that has racked up more than 24.7 million views. The channel's accumulated views have reached over 1.1 billion.

Go Mong Tube recently expanded into making videos summarizing Naver webtoons.

Another recap YouTuber, G Movie, has over 2.41 million subscribers. His channel has over 400 videos and more than 985 million accumulated views.

Why the popularity?

What these star recap YouTubers share in common is that they retell the movie or drama with a touch of humor.

“I watch movie recap channels because they are even more entertaining than the actual films. I think humorous YouTubers can turn movies that are awful into super fun recap content,” Kim Yoo-jin, 31, said.

Some viewers say that these recap videos can be helpful for those who do not wish to spend time watching long films.

“I got used to watching short-form content like Instagram Reels and TikTok, so it became difficult for me to sit down and watch a long movie. Also, recap videos get to the point right away. I think it suits Koreans who are always so busy,” Park Eun-mi, 38, said.

Youn Young-in, 32, finds recaps helpful at work.

“Everyone said they watched ‘My Liberation Notes’ at the time, but I do not usually enjoy watching K-dramas. So just to be part of the conversation, I watched recap videos and it helped me a lot when I had to make small talk at work,” Youn said.

Culture critic Jung Deok-hyun pointed out that people’s fear of missing out is one reason they turn to recap content.

“If there is a certain trending content, Koreans tend to feel a lot of pressure about how they cannot be part of the conversation if they did not watch it,” Jung said.

He added that the dramatic increase in content following the appearance of different streaming platforms has made it even more difficult for people to keep up with all of what's trending.

“It became difficult even for me to watch them all. So people are tempted to watch recap videos that summarize and shorten the original versions,” he added.

A boon for content industry?

No matter the reason for watching recap videos, these content do have a positive impact, especially on the independent film industry.

In 2018, when the Korean independent film “Park Hwa-young” (2018), which was released on July 19, was about to be taken down from the few local theaters that screened it, YouTuber Go Mong Tube posted a recap video of the film on Aug. 16.

The video immediately became popular with over 10 million views and the film stayed on in theaters for another month.

Film distributors then jumped on the chance to advertise their movies via recap YouTube channels.

Screenshot of YouTuber Go Mong Tube’s recap video on the Korean musical film “Life is Beautiful” (YouTube)
Screenshot of YouTuber Go Mong Tube’s recap video on the Korean musical film “Life is Beautiful” (YouTube)

Two sides of the same coin

However, some culture critics say that such summary videos do not always bring benefits to the local content industry.

Well-known culture critic Lee Dong-jin told YouTuber ChimChakman, also known as ex-webtoon creator Lee Mal-nyeon, in an interview that “recap videos can be useful but it is not the same as watching a movie.”

He went on to criticize those who watch recap videos to satisfy their intellectual vanity.

“I hope that those people do not fool themselves into believing that they have actually watched the film. What is worse is that some people even evaluate a movie based on a recap video. I won’t say that recap clips are useless, but they are not the same as watching the movies,” he said.

Culture critic Jung agreed.

“It simply tells you which protagonist did what and what were the results. So, it is hard to say you appreciated the film properly. It can lead the viewers to think they have watched the film but I would not say that it is a proper way to consume works of art,” Jung told The Korea Herald.



By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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