Freeze! TV cops lock down fans across KoreaIt’s a typical scene in a television crime drama: The backdrop is an exotic beach. A woman has been found dead. The body is so decayed it’s hard to identify. It looks like finding out how she was killed won’t be too easy, either.
That’s when a group of elite investigators stand gathering around the body. How will they respond? That depends on what cop shows they’re from.
Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan, from the Fox TV series “Bones,” would guess that the body belongs to a 24-year-old white female, according to a forensic study based on anthropology.
Detective John Munch from the NBC series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” would probably say that she has been murdered after a sexual assault ― he works in the sex crimes unit.
Lieutenant Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner from “The Criminal Mind” would say the killer must have been abused when he was young for him to grow up abhorring, and therefore killing, women.
Lieutenant Horatio Caine from the CBS series “CSI: Miami” would probably loudly exclaim that he had just identified the body through a DNA analysis.
Korean viewers know what to expect from American cop series, and they love it. As Koreans are wont to do, they’ve even organized themselves online, staying up late at night to catch every episode and then discussing it over fan Web sites. They say there are more than enough reasons to fall in love with the series.
The scenarios are accurate and elaborate, they say. The plots are fast-paced but involve human angles that can be intriguing, even touching.
“I found it very new and fresh that investigators on U.S. TV shows catch criminals by trying to find psychological clues,” said Oh Jae-yun, 27, a fan of “The Criminal Mind,” which aired its last episode a month ago in Korea. “They make sense, too. So I feel almost bored with other cop shows that only investigate using only material evidence.”
Like Mr. Oh, Korean fans of American cop shows said they’re bored with Korean police dramas that seem to always use the same storyline. A typical scene in a Korean cop show follows a well-worn script, in which a tough police officer bullies a suspect into making a confession. That’s one major reason Korean fans are willing to stay up until 12:25 in the morning to catch the latest episodes of dubbed versions of “CSI: Miami.”
Each episode has major plot twists, fans say. On a recent episode of the “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” a female college student was murdered. The investigating team finds out that a suspicious man had been stalking her, leading viewers to believe that the stalker must be the killer. But the investigating team soon moves on to another suspect, the victim’s professor. The drama then ends with a whole new character fingered as the real murderer. In less than one hour, the plot went through two twists, something that leaves Korean viewers awed.
Lee Seong-san, a 24-year-old fan of “Bones,” says he loved the realistic descriptions of crime in the drama.
“I was impressed with the scientific tools and the camera the Bones investigative team used to study a drowned man,” he said. “It was pretty informative, too.”
“Compared with the viewer ratings from last year, the popularity of American cop dramas has shot up this year,” said Kim Dae-hui, a promoter at the CGV cable channel that airs “SVU” and “The Criminal Mind.” “Fans have created their own blogs to post their own translations of the script and the English terminology that these dramas often use.”
Ahn Mi-ae, a promoter at On Media, a cable television channel, said she was deluged with questions asking when the reruns would be on.
“Cop dramas are becoming more diverse,” she said. “I think their popularity will continue for some time.”
by Shin Ji-won, Ahn Gyeong-won