SNS Dramas, Radio Cartoons Gaining Popularity in Korea

October 14, 2013


The popular radio podcast “Ratoon” provides dramatized audio performances based on
hit web cartoons. (Courtesy of Ratoon)

By Chung Ah-young

Tech-savvy Koreans are quick to adapt to the fast-changing media milieu, and fond of playing with words, to create new terminologies for new social and cultural phenomena.

As people gain greater access to digital devices, experimental forms of broadcasting content are being created and are finding their way to young audiences. Recently, reflecting entertainment platform shifts, new drama formats dubbed as ‘Social Networking Service (SNS)’ dramas, ‘drama-toons,’ and ‘radio cartoons’ are gaining popularity among young people who constantly play on their digital devices.

SNS dramas refer to short mini-dramas which run for around 10 to 15 minutes per episode and are aired through online or mobile services. Meanwhile drama-toons, a portmanteau made from drama and web cartoon, contain more fun and entertaining elements that make viewers feel as if they are reading a web cartoon. Unlike conventional dramas, drama-toons focus more on cartoon-like visuals rather than plots or story lines.

A scene from “Because We Are Not Breaking Up Yet,” an SNS drama, starring Han Jae-suk, Lee Wan and Kahi from K-pop girl group After School.

A scene from “Because We Are Not Breaking Up Yet,” an SNS drama, starring Han Jae-suk, Lee Wan and Kahi from K-pop girl group After School.

A radio cartoon is a dramatized audio performance in which voice actors perform cartoons, similar to radio dramas. Reading cartoons through this style is a new kind of concept tailored for a growing number of comic fans here amid the soaring popularity of web cartoons – thanks to advances in digital gadgets and Internet distribution. Podcasts have helped radio cartoons prosper, with their easy access to portable digital devices. SNS dramas and drama-toons offer opportunities for relative unknowns to gain an audience, which is hard to achieve on popular shows and through more conventional channels.

“Because Not Breaking Up Yet,” an SNS drama, whose first episode aired on July 22, generated buzz because of its star actors – Han Jae-suk, Lee Wan and Kahi from the K-pop girl group After School. However, after the drama aired through SNS, Kim Min-kyung, a new face among the field of leading actresses, is gaining more attention as a rising star.

Woohee from K-pop girl group Dal Shabet has been cast in a new SNS drama remake of the popular webtoon “Infinite Power” along with Seulong from 2AM. This drama will be online beginning next month.

“After School Bokbulbok,” a drama-toon, produced by Fantagio Pictures and Group Eight – renowned for hit productions such as “Boys Over Flowers” and “Goong” – was initially planned to nurture aspiring new actors. A press event was held on Aug. 27 prior to the launching of the drama on Sept. 2 through Nate Hoppin, T Store and Btv.

“After-school Bokbulbok,” a popular drama-toon, stars Kim So-eun and members of Surprise, a male actors’ group.

“After-school Bokbulbok,” a popular drama-toon, stars Kim
So-eun and members of Surprise, a male actors’ group.

Except for Kim So-eun, the lead female actress, all actors in the drama are from Surprise, a male actors’ group similar to K-pop boy or girl groups. At the press event, Yoo Il from Surprise said that their group can be defined as a band of newbie actors. “As many K-pop band members begin their music career but end up acting, we are going in an opposite way, starting with acting and later turning to music,” he said.

Fantagio, whose artists include movie stars such as Ha Jung-woo, Ju Jin-mo and Yeom Jeong-ah, selected group members through the company’s “Actor′s League,” a program for discovering aspiring, talented actors.

After taking part in the training program for about two years, they have made their debuts on “After School Bokbulbok.”

“After School Bokbulbok” is a high school story revolving around Kim, whose character is portrayed as a timid girl who gets into a school club. Each episode contains ‘missions’ that have to be carried out.

“This is the first time I’m acting in a drama and as a character in this kind of genre, and it’s a lot of fun,” she said. “I think it’ll be an extremely unconventional drama.”

EBS, the state-run educational television and radio network, launched “Soseol Madang Pan – Radio Cartoon,” a radio program featuring web comics from Monday to Saturday, on Sept. 26. The host is DJ Kim Hyung-gyu. The host not only reads the cartoons but also invites fans, cartoonists, authors and actors to share views on various subjects.

A popular radio podcast “Ratoon” provides hit web cartoon recordings such as “Murderer,” “Sherlock Holmes” and “Carnival” through the audio performances of professional voice actors. Ratoon is available through a mobile application.