The Korea Herald

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Dramas depicting dark side of social media gain popularity

By Lee Si-jin

Published : July 16, 2023 - 15:04

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"Celebrity" (Netflix)

Two recent Korean dramas presenting an intimate look into social media-driven lives are enjoying local popularity with unique stories that are easily relatable to many viewers.

Though a lot of creative content such as dramas, films and variety shows have included brief scenes depicting social media usage, Netflix’s latest suspense series “Celebrity” and cable channel ENA’s “Battle for Happiness” put the spotlight on characters’ social media interactions.

The 12-part “Celebrity” features the stories of Korean social media influencers, with a focus on an ordinary young woman Seo A-ri’s instant rise to a stardom and her downfall.

The series presents the world of social media megastars, in which influencers rank each other according to a specific hierarchy based on followers and clout. They only obey those with a higher number of followers, and attack each other with fake news.

“Celebrity” was ranked in Netflix’s global top 10 chart for TV series since its premiere on June 30, according to the streaming analytics firm FlixPatrol.

The series has topped Netflix’s TV show chart in South Korea on Saturday as well.

"Battle for Happiness" (ENA)

ENA’s “Battle of Happiness” revolves around young Korean mothers who are engaged a fierce competition that plays out on social media, as they vie to be the “happiest.”

At the outset, the mothers seem like close friends, posting encouraging comments liking each other’s posts.

However, they start a vicious online competition to have their child take the spotlight in a kindergarten’s musical performance.

As the show progresses, the mothers are presented as two-faced and ready to disparage others' children with hateful speech and sarcastic comments.

While the dramas feature fictional stories, viewers said that they could relate to them, as they are based on some element of truth.

According to the local analytics firm Good Data Corp., “Battle for Happiness” has maintained high popularity since its premiere on May 31.

“Battle for Happiness” ranked in Good Data’s top 10 chart on the weekly list of the most talked-about TV dramas for six consecutive weeks.

Meanwhile, “Celebrity” and “Battle for Happiness” were not the first attempts by Korean creators to highlight the role of social media in human relationships.

Netflix’s thriller series “Somebody” (2022) explored the limitations of making true friends via dating apps, and questioned how open one can be to a stranger.

“As many people nowadays interact with one another through social media and dating apps, more original stories about these connections will be created in the near future,” director Jung Ji-woo, who helmed the 8-part “Somebody” said in the drama’s press conference in November 2022.