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Will “Miss Trot 3” continue trot fever?

Trot audition programs seek breakthroughs to present freshness to viewers

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : Dec. 24, 2023 - 16:01

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Poster of Poster of "Miss Trot 3" of TV Chosun (TV Chosun)

The sensational audition program series "Miss Trot" returned with its third season on Thursday.

After countless trot music shows that tried to hop on the trot fever train -- started by "Miss Trot 1" (2019) -- "Miss Trot 3" hopes to make another breakthrough to continue the nationwide trot craze without boring viewers.

Returning with a wider range of participants, the third season includes teenage contestants and overseas participants, to provide freshness to viewers.

From its first episode, the music show topped viewership ratings among all Thursday broadcasts. But already there are early signs of fatigue, casting doubt over whether the genre's popularity could last.

Viewership ratings compared to that of the previous season’s first episode tumbled from 28.6 percent to 16.6 percent.

Other trot programs have also seen similar drops in ratings after broadcasters inundated viewers with a slew of shows in the genre, ranging from MBN's “Trot Queen,” “Voice Trot,” MBC Everyone's “I'm a Trot Singer,” SBS' “Trot God Is Coming” to KBS2's “Trot National Sports Festival."

One expert said the predicament trot music shows are facing are typical.

"(The similar broadcast format) is not a problem of trot audition programs. It is natural for broadcasters to learn from, and sometimes copy the successful programs. Moreover, given the small market and the characteristics of the Korean pop music market, which focuses on trending genres at the time, it seems inevitable that similar types of audition programs will continue to come out for a while," said Kang Il-kwon, a pop culture critic.

"If viewers feel bored and leave, the trend will fall back on to other genres and singers," Kang added.

Trot music, once regarded as an outdated genre only cherished by the older generation, rose to the cultural mainstream, mainly due to the success of cable channel TV Chosun’s audition programs to find next-generation trot stars.

Targeting viewers in their 50s or more, the two series -- "Miss Trot" and "Mister Trot" -- provided an alternative to the younger, trendy music like K-pop and hip-hop that have dominated the mainstream.

Song Ga-in and Lim Young-woong, the winners of the first season of the two shows, have enjoyed immense popularity, akin to the level of K-pop idols.

"My mom loves Lim Young-woong so much that I even tried to buy his concert ticket from a scalper. (Lim Young-woong’s concert tickets) always got sold out in one or two minutes. It’s way harder to get than those of average idol groups," said Seo Ji-yeon, an office worker in her 30s.

However, winners in the latest audition programs have failed to surpass the popularity and star following of the two.

Like the third season of "Miss Trot," newer trot music shows are also hoping to score viewers by deviating from the predictable formats.

MBN's "King of Active Singers," which started on Nov. 28, added a small twist by developing it into an international competition.

The top seven Korean trot stars of “King of Active Singers” will compete against the winners of Japan’s “Trot Girls Japan” in 2024, a Japanese audition program which started airing on Dec. 8.