Korean networks serve up a smorgasbord of dramas
During its seven-month run, the MBC hit drama “Queen Seondeok” topped ratings lists, recording an audience share of 44 percent at its peak.
Now, three new TV series on three different networks are poised to compete for the position that was so well guarded by Queen Seondeok last year. The three series, all of which kicked off on Monday and are broadcast in the same Monday-Tuesday time slot at 10 p.m. both nights, are “Jejungwon” on SBS, “Masters of the Art of Study” on KBS, and “Pasta” on MBC.
The battle between the three could all come down to style and subject matter.
Among the offerings are a period drama and two contemporary tales, and the three dramas are set within the fields of medicine, education and culinary arts, respectively.
Jejungwon is a drama about the first modern hospital in Korea. The hospital was established by King Gojong in 1885 at the suggestion of American medical missionary Horace N. Allen and originally named Gwanghyewon, or Widespread Relief House, before it was renamed Jejungwon.
Based on a true story, the drama, set in the last years of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), tells the story of a man named Hwang Jeong who was born into the lower class and worked his way up from butcher to become the first surgeon of the Joseon era and later, an independence fighter.
Actor Park Yong-woo, who starred in movies like “Handphone” (2009) and “Once Upon A Time” (2008), has taken the role of Hwang Jeong. He is joined by actress Han Hye-jin, who plays Yu Seok-ran, and actor Yeon Jung-hoon as Baek Do-yang, Hwang Jeong’s rival in life and love.
Masters of the Art of Study is based on the Japanese comic book “Dragon Zakura” by Norifusa Mita. The comic, which made a splash in Japan and was also made into a TV drama there in 2005, is about a group of underprivileged students at a low-ranking high school who are struggling to get into a top university with the help of a strong-willed lawyer-turned-educator.
The Korean version of the drama stars several up-and-coming teenage actors, including Yoo Seung-ho, an 18-year-old who made his debut in 2000 and has since developed a promising career. Yoo’s most recent role was Kim Chun-chu in Queen Seondeok.
Meanwhile, MBC’s new show Pasta is a culinary drama that revolves around a female character who aspires to become a recognized chef at the fictional Italian restaurant La Sfera. The show gives viewers a glimpse of life behind the scenes in a busy Italian kitchen.
The drama stars actress Kong Hyo-jin, who is making a return to the small screen more than two years after her appearance in the tearjerker “Thank You” in 2007.
The male lead is played by actor Lee Sun-kyun, who has starred in a number of TV dramas and movies including “Paju” (2009). Lee plays a famous but picky chef who seems to have been modeled after Gordon Ramsay, the hot-tempered chef whose harsh training methods became well known through the TV series “Hell’s Kitchen.”
Though it still remains to be seen which of these dramas will rule the Monday-Tuesday time slot, it seems that Masters of the Art of Study has gotten a head start in the already tight competition.
According to a report released Wednesday by audience rating agency AGB Nielsen Media Research, the drama posted a 15.9 percent audience rating for its Tuesday episode, closely followed by Pasta with 15.1 percent and Jejungwon with 14.6 percent.
By Park Sun-young [firstname.lastname@example.org]