Korean Drama in 2020: Who’s on top
2020 may not go down in Korean drama history as the best year ever, but at least two records were shattered – the highest cable drama ratings ever for BBC’s Dr Foster adaptation, The World of the Married, on JTBC, and the most unconventional portrayal ever of North Korea in tvN’s Crash Landing on You... and the year’s not over yet, with True Beauty, Mr Queen, Hush and Blade of the Phantom Master still to come. KBS has Cheat on Me if You Can coming on 2 Dec, capping a truly horrible drama year for the public broadcast behemoth. ContentAsia looks at the domestic performance of 30 Korean dramas in 2020, all of which premiered simultaneously on streaming platforms outside of Korea.
Notes: Prime-time drama series (16-20 episodes) above are ranked by peak ratings. The list only includes titles that aired on Korean broadcast or cable stations, and excludes titles released only on Netflix or other streaming services. Other titles we tracked but didn’t make the top 20 include KBS’ Born Again, which peaked at 4.1% on ep1 and fell steadily to 1.3%; Men Are Men, also from KBS (early series peak of 4.4% fell to 1.7% by episode 13, recovering slightly to end at 3.1%); Into the Ring (aka Memorials), another dud from KBS that struggled to a 3.7% peak in ep2 and fell to 2% by ep12; tvN’s Memorist (11 Mar-30 Apr about a detective with the power to read minds and a criminal profiler, high of 3.434% and low of 2.16%); JTBC’s 18 Again (21 Sept-10 Nov, about a man who morphs into his 18-year-old body but keeps his 37-year-old mind, peaked at 3.209% with a low of 1.753%)); More Than Friends, which peaked at 1.612%; and Private Lives (7 Oct to 26 Nov; con-artists uncover a sinister government scheme), also from JTBC, peaked at 2.522% but trawled the bottom of the ratings charts with a low of 1.217%; and KBS’ Welcome, which goes down in history as the free-TV show with the lowest rating of 0.8%.
Source: AGB Nielsen, nationwide
Published in ContentAsia's December 2020 magazine