The Washington Post (WP) published an article about the SBS Drama “My Love From The Stars,” which ended in Feb. In particular, the influential newspaper focused on cultural aspects of Korea and China related to K-drama fever.
The WP ran a front-page story in its print edition titled “Could a Korean soap opera be China’s guiding light?” with a picture of leading actor and actress Kim Soo-hyun and Jeon Ji-hyun on March 8 (local time).
The newspaper said, “There is no shortage of problems facing China these days: a terrorist attack that recently left 33 people dead and 143 injured, corruption in government, a worrisome slowdown in economic growth. So when the country’s two highest governing bodies met in Beijing this week, what was the burning issue on the delegates’ lips? A South Korean soap opera that has taken the country by storm.”
The WP continued by saying, “After the show’s female lead mentioned ‘beer and fried chicken’ in one episode, it became one of the most invoked phrases online. Restaurants cashed in and started selling beer-and-fried-chicken meals.”
It also cited local news reports that one pregnant woman living in Jiangsu, a province in eastern China, came close to having a miscarriage, after she spent too many nights binge-watching the show and eating fried chicken and beer.
The Korean soap opera is about an alien Do Min-joon (played by Kim Soo-Hyun) who accidentally arrived on Earth 400 years ago, meets Hallyu star Chun Song-yi (played by JeonJi-Hyun), and falls in love.
The newspaper said that the plot may appear unusual to Western viewers, but the drama is so influential that China’s top political advisory body, called the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), reportedly lamented, “Why can’t our country make a show as good and as big of a hit?”
The WP pointed out that the tremendous popularity of the Korean drama is seen as another heavy blow to Chinese confidence in their culture, after Dreamworks’ “Kung Fu Panda” became a mega hit in the nation in 2008.
The newspaper stressed, “This time around, the angst over the Korean drama carries with it bitterness about regional rivalries. While China has long considered itself the source of East Asian culture, the domination of Japanese comics and Korean soap operas in Chinese pop culture challenges that view.”
“It is more than just a Korean soap opera. It hurts our cultural dignity,” one CPPCC member said.
The WP also posted the same article on its website on March 7 with a different title, “Chinese officials debate why China can’t make a soap opera as good as South Korea’s.”
One netizen commented, “I think China’s problem is a lack of beautiful Korean women.” Another netizen added, “And cute Korean leading men. Yeah, I googled him.”