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The Hyun-Bin-starred “Crash Landing on You” came out on Netflix Philippines in December 2019. This was a couple of months before the country’s capital, as well as its neighboring cities and provinces, were put under lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, this isn’t the start of the Hallyu wave-the global popularity and spread of Korean culture-in the country. That started when Korean dramas arrived in the Philippines in the early 2000s.
But these K-dramas have a huge impact on how Filipinos are surviving the mental toll of the pandemic.
If you are a Korean product supplier, you’ll get a sense of how obsessed the whole country is about Korean culture and products.
Filipinos have samgyeopsal delivered to their homes. That’s despite the inconvenience of preparing the meat and side dishes.
They use Korean skincare products, believing that these will help them achieve the glass skin, which is popular with South Korean actors and actresses.
Take Philippine director Jose Javier Reyes as an example. In April, he asked on Twitter what makes Koreanovelas such huge favorites for Filipinos during the quarantine.
Social media exploded with almost a thousand replies. Humbled, the director watched “Crash Landing on You” and other dramas. Eventually, he only had glowing things to say about K-dramas.
Korean Dramas vs. Filipino Telenovelas
South Korea is different from the Philippines in so many ways. Korean dramas are steeped in its culture, which is very much unlike how Filipinos make their own telenovelas.
Filipino dramas often follow Westernized ideas and story lines. None of that is portrayed in most of the Korean dramas currently streaming on Netflix and receiving a lot of praise from Filipinos.
A study of the Hallyu wave from the International Journal of Social Science and Humanity shows that Korean dramas are relatable and realistic. The main story line is based on things that happen in real life.
None of the usual themes in Filipino movies and TV series, such as abduction and babies switched at birth, are present in most Korean dramas.
Korean Dramas: Escaping Reality
This is a welcome relief for many Filipinos stuck at home and unsure of what the new normal means for them. It’s an escape from the everyday stresses that social media and the news bring.
For at least 16 or more episodes, Filipinos get to live through these story lines, which are mostly representative of their own dreams and goals. And it brings them something to talk about other than their own fears of what lies ahead.
Filipinos on social media are sharing their own lists of what Korean dramas to watch. One fan even started an Instagram page to review some 200 Korean dramas that she watched through the years.
True to their unbreakable spirit, Filipinos are finding a way to survive such a horrid time in their lives.
As governments and economies struggle to keep themselves afloat amid this pandemic, isn’t it nice to know that something as simple as Korean dramas has bonded families, friends, and communities?
Give it a try. Like Mr. Reyes, you might find yourself surprised and entertained.