The Korea Herald


Educational talk shows, a new trend in Korean TV

By Lee Si-jin

Published : Nov. 7, 2022 - 16:23

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JTBC's JTBC's "Webtoon History" presents stories of Korean cultural heritage with webtoon illustrations. (JTBC)

Talk shows that incorporate storytelling in exploring topics in the humanities and other areas are gaining popularity on Korean television.

While global streaming services focus on big budget shows featuring top TV celebrities, like “Take 1” and “The Zone: Survival Mission,” local broadcasters and cable channels are offering programs that aim to satisfy intellectual curiosity. These shows are notable for the absence of jokes or entertainment elements that are often employed to engage the audience.

Cable channel JTBC premiered a new talk show “Webtoon History,” a program that features a historian and three content creators who share lesser-known stories about South Korea’s cultural heritage, on Sunday. After discovering the value of a treasure, the content creators expand the story with their imagination.

On Wednesday, terrestrial broadcaster MBC is scheduled to air “Top Teacher,” a lecture-style program in which an expert is invited to give a lecture on sports, culture, society or other fields in an easy and entertaining manner.

In anticipation of the upcoming 2022 World Cup, “Top Teacher” begins with renowned sports commentator Park Moon-sung's lecture on the history of football in Korea, from the era of Cha Bum-kun, the first Korean to play in Germany's Bundesliga, to Tottenham Hotspur forward and Premier League Golden Boot winner Son Heung-min.

"Top Teacher" will air at 9 p.m. every Wednesday on MBC.

A screenshot of A screenshot of "Top Teacher" (MBC)

RM, the leader and rapper of boy band BTS, and film director Jang Hang-jun are set to host tvN’s new talk show “The Dictionary of Useless Human Knowledge" this winter.

Though the date of release has yet to be announced, the cable channel said that the program will explore many sides of humans with popular intellectuals, including physicist Kim Sang-wook, forensic scientist Lee Ho, astronomer Shim Chae-kyung and novelist Kim Young-ha.

The show may be betting on replicating the success of “Encyclopedia of Useless Facts” (2017), a similar talk show featuring the intellectuals from different fields sharing random facts about various topics in history, literature, science, space and more that topped the ratings among TV shows that aired in the same time slot.

“Content creators seek to adapt to the changes in the way viewer's consume broadcast content. More viewers are looking for something that is worth watching,” culture critic Jung Duk-hyun told The Korea Herald.

“Storytelling talk shows present the knowledge of experts and intellectuals in a comfortable atmosphere, making it easier for a wider audience to enjoy the programs," Jung said, adding that the genre may soon become a mainstream offering on Korean TV.