K-media is taking stock of 2016 and the results are not exactly promising for the future of pre-producing K-dramas. What was once a rarity such as the mega budget Legend felt like a norm in 2016 with a slew of fully pre-produced K-dramas aimed at being simulcast in China and further recoup costs. I don’t know which of the pre-produced dramas ended up making back its costs and earning a profit, but in terms of domestic Korean ratings there is only one success story in Descendants of the Sun. Kim Eun Sook‘s high profile disaster and medical drama was a ratings hit in Korea and overseas, and remained the only such pre-produced drama despite a slew of other high profile projects subsequently released. Uncontrollably Fond was a middling release, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart: Ryeo an abject failure, Hwarang a new release but slow out of the gate, Cinderella and Four Knights didn’t make a dent, and Entourage ended up being an epic face plant.
The first pre-produced drama to hit the small screen in 2017 will be Lee Young Ae’s comeback work Saimdang: Light’s Diary. Other pre-produced dramas in the works are Joo Won and Oh Yeon Seo in the sageuk version of My Sassy Girl and Park Hae Jin‘s Man to Man. Sci-fi drama CIty of Stars will be fully pre-produced with Hyun Bin currently offered the male lead role.