Look out for Korean cable dramas

January 9, 2014

Fared very well in Korea last year

The cast of an upcoming tvN drama “I Need Romance 3” poses at a press meeting, prior to its first episode, to be aired on Jan. 13, at Patio 9, Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul, Wednesday. From left are Namgung Min, Wang Ji-won, Kim So-yeon, and Sung-jun. (Courtesy of CJ E&M)

The cast of an upcoming tvN drama “I Need Romance 3” poses at a press meeting, prior to its first episode, to be aired on Jan. 13, at Patio 9, Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul, Wednesday. From left are Namgung Min, Wang Ji-won, Kim So-yeon, and Sung-jun. (Courtesy of CJ E&M)

By Park Jin-hai

Cable dramas fared well last year. A slew of dramas went shoulder to shoulder with those of major public broadcasters in terms of viewership, thanks to more experimental formats and fresh content.

Following on their trail, tvN announced on Wednesday it will air the third season of “I Need Romance.”

The cable network’s romantic comedy “Rude Miss Young-Ae” has enjoyed long-running popularity, with its 13th season to be aired this year, and the recently ended romantic comedy “Reply 1994” has been so successful it created renewed interest in retro culture.

“I Need Romance 3,” rated 15 and over, will depict actress Kim So-yeon as a single career woman in her 30s, struggling to balance career and love at a home-shopping company.

At the press conference in Patio9, Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul, the cast and the director of the television series said that although its format shares similarities with famous U.S. television series “Sex and the City,” viewers could enjoy a more delicate emotional tug-of-war between the leading characters.

Stacks of rice, sent by Namgung Min’s overseas fans, adorn the hallway leading to a press conference room at Patio 9, Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul, where his upcoming drama was presented. (Korea Times photo by Kang Hyun-hye)

Stacks of rice, sent by Namgung Min’s overseas fans, adorn the hallway leading to a press conference room at Patio 9, Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul, where his upcoming drama was presented. (Korea Times photo by Kang Hyun-hye)

“Our strength may well be that we are able to depict delicately the emotional flow of each character. Beautiful images filling the small screen will be another must-see,” said Jang Young-woo, director of the drama.

“I think that is why our previous seasons appealed so much to other Asian viewers, more than the U.S. drama,” Jang said.

Its first season, aired in 2011, was exported to Japan, making it the first cable drama exported and aired through an overseas major television network, TBC.

In total, it has been exported to 20 countries. The second season was also purchased by 14 countries, including Cambodia and Myanmar.

Seo Jang-ho, manager of CJ E&M’s overseas marketing department, said that from the beginning of the production, foreign buyers have made contact to discuss its purchase.

According to CJ E&M, a total of 20 drama titles were exported to 21 countries, raking in 13.3 billion won in revenue in the first three quarters of 2012 alone.

Kim, heroine of many action-filled dramas, including “Iris,” said that she was thrilled to play a “milder” character this time.

“The female character, after breaking up with her boyfriend, talks to herself that she exists not to be loved, but to enjoy her life for her own benefit,” she said. “In real life, unlike the character I am playing, I am rather watchful of the public eye.”

In one scene, her character says out loud that she is really happy about being lonely, which represents her complicated feelings, Kim said.

At the entrance of the press event, Japanese fans surrounded Namgung Min, who starred in “Can You Hear My Heart (2011),” and took picture with him. The hallways were lined with stacks of rice, sent by overseas fans.

“I haven’t been on the screen for almost two years. When I think of the fans who remember me, I am really grateful,” he said.

Japanese viewers seem to love his previous characters, who sacrificed himself for her true love, he added. He is expected to hold a fan meeting in March.

Namgung will act as Kim’s senior, who was promoted on a fast track to the post of the department chief.

As his opposite role, Sung-jun, 23, will portray a talented young composer who immigrated to the United States and came back. He is expected to draw out the romantic and emotional sides of the lead actress.

“I want to be an actor with sincerity, so that viewers won’t say that my performances are not convincing and hollow,” he said.

The former model has earned fame appearing in “Gu Family Book” as a warrior-guard for the lead actress, played by Suzy of girl group “Miss A.”

Along with the lead characters, Park Hyo-ju will take the Samantha-like role, enjoying a boundary free sex life, while Wang Ji-won will play the former model and beauty channel host, who rivals Kim So-yeon.

The cast said that they promised to hold a pajama party in Gwangwamun, central Seoul, if the viewership reaches 3 percent, which is regarded to be tantamount to 15 percent for major broadcasters.

The drama will be aired on Mondays and Tuesdays from Jan. 13 through the tvN network.

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