During a conference at the ongoing online MU:CON 2021 event, Kim Yeonjeong, the head of global K-Pop & K-Content Partnerships at Twitter, gave a presentation titled “#BeyondKPOP: Globalization of K-Culture from K-Pop music to Movie, Drama, Webtoon, and Beyond”. During this presentation on the growing popularity of Korean culture beyond just K-Pop, she discussed data collected from Twitter to show that the impact of media such as Korean movies and K-Dramas is becoming more widespread and more popularly discussed online.
Twitter has proven that K-Pop – along with many other fandoms – thrive due to the characteristics of Twitter: Live, public, and conversational. People are consuming K-content through various channels, but in the end, the conversations are being held on Twitter. K-content has limitless potential as the fandom culture that started with K-Pop has taken an interest in other forms of Korean content, which has led to the spread of the culture. Twitter will dedicate itself in the fullest to supporting the globalization of K-content and the fandom it empowers.
— Kim Yeonjeong
The results of data aggregation were conducted by Twitter and VAIV company through big data text mining techniques that analyzed global English Tweets from July 2018 to June 2021. With this data, they were able to determine the top 20 most-discussed K-Dramas on a global scale during this time period. Not only did the numbers themselves show the growing popularity of these series, but some of the top results also showed that there seems to be a trend of K-Pop fans discovering K-Dramas based on their consumption of Korean music!
Here’s a look at the top 5 most mentioned K-Dramas on a global scale over the last three years.
5. Sky Castle
Sky Castle is the oldest K-Drama on this list, with an airtime between November 2018 to February 2019. Since then, it has kept the title as the second-highest-rated K-Drama in cable television history, with particularly high viewership ratings in China as well as South Korea. This is likely due to the relatable plot involving the harsh education system in both of these cultures, and is one of the two K-Dramas in this top five list that gained mass global popularity without an obvious K-Pop connection.
Vincenzo aired between February and May of this year, and while people who are already fans of K-Dramas likely were interested in actors such as Song Joong Ki starring in the series, well-known 2PM member Taecyeon also had a prominent role in the show that likely drew fans of the group into watching it!
3. True Beauty
Like Vincenzo, True Beauty also gained attention from K-Pop fans right away when one of the music genre’s current most popular idols, ASTRO‘s Eunwoo, was announced to take part in the series. It aired between December of 2020 until February this year, and during that time, it was easily one of the most highly discussed K-Dramas among international fans.
2. Itaewon Class
Not only was Itaewon Class (based off of the original webtoon) one of the most praised K-Dramas during its run between January and March in 2020 due to its captivating plot, but many fans, as proven by tweets about the series, were attracted to the show in part due to the OST song “Sweet Night” sung by BTS member V! Along with this, the word cloud connected Itaewon Class to 11 other K-Dramas during the first half of 2021, which shows just how influential it was in getting new fan interested in this form of Korean content.
And finally, Kingdom, which aired its first season in early 2019, is the most highly-mentioned K-Drama globally on Twitter over the last three years! Based on the webcomic series The Kingdom of the Gods, the K-Drama has a unique blend of being a historical series with a zombie apocalypse twist. Both of these types of genres tend to be popular with general audiences, and with it receiving such critical acclaim, it’s no surprise it became so popular globally even without a K-Pop connection!
Check out the full list of the top 20 most-mentioned K-Dramas on Twitter here: