Japanese Network NHK to Stop Airing K-dramas After Empress Ki Finishes Run

The end of an era for the K-drama wave has arrived in one country that has been a huge consumer of Hallyu products for well over a decade- Japanese broadcaster NHK has announced that it won’t be airing anymore Korean dramas after the network finishes airing Empress Ki. NHK is Japan’s biggest and oldest network and has been airing K-dramas since 2003 when it bought the rights to Winter Sonataย whichย singlehandedly launched the Hallyu drama wave in Japan. A thirteen year run for K-dramas with Japanese audiences may seem either long or shorter than expected, but is worth noting that things have changed irrevocably and to keep up with the tides K-drama will need to continue to evolve and grow.

NHK not airing anymore K-dramas on network television doesn’t mean there is no appetite for the product, it just means K-dramas no longer have enough broad and mainstream appeal and those who seek to watch it will have to do so online. It’s mainly the older audience that still watch network television anyway, and NHK explained that the viewership for Korean dramas have been decreasing steadily in the last few years and reached a point where it no longer is a financially sound investment to broadcast current and future K-dramas. The complaint from the older viewing audience is that the romance and addicting quality of the dramas which launched the Hallyu wave such as Winter Sonata is no longer there.

It sounds like the declining ratings for Korean dramas isn’t just a phenomenon for the domestic viewing audience, and the same type of disappointment and complains are being voiced about the current trends and quality of K-dramas being produced. I think the most alarming for production companies is that current K-dramas don’t have that buzz and excitement factor that used to be there, and most dramas aren’t sticky enough once it airs to build upon the audience. The exceptions to the trend are there but few and far between, and the direction headed is the wrong way.

Perhaps Korean drama producers won’t be alarmed at the nail in the coffin with Hallyu drama exports to Japan and instead double down on China as the growing consumption audience, but that’s like trying to sell the same flawed product to a second customer without fixing any of the problems pointed out by the first customer. NHK claims that it got audience feedback and the general feeling is that K-dramas no longer have the heady mood that lured the Japanese viewers in the first place, plus none of the current drama actors and actresses appeal to the Japanese viewers the way like original Hallyu stars Bae Yong Joon, Lee Young Ae, Won Bin, and Lee Byung Hun.


Japanese Network NHK to Stop Airing K-dramas After Empress Ki Finishes Run — 47 Comments

  1. What a pity. I wish the stakeholders in K-Drama will review their way. They want to sell everything to China, but Korean taste is different with Chinese. And maybe the rest of the world has more different taste with China. I don’t know why Hallyu seem to be give up with their dream to conquer the world, and try to conquer China instead.

    • And that is a very short sighted approach, imo. China is already working on creating their own “Hallyu” wave, and after the partnerships with the South Korean companies, they will most likely move on from them as well. Already China has started producing dramas that have captured international audiences, and have improved significantly in their non-historical drama genres. You can see the improved quality and product, and Korean dramas no longer have the sole claim to better produced dramas.

      Similarly, other Asian dramas have also stepped up their game, with dramas now being subbed not just from Japan, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, China, but now Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, etc. The South Korean entertainment system has been resting on their laurels, and the rest of Asia as caught up/is catching up to them. I predict the next wave that will start to flounder will be Kpop. Lack of innovation at all levels of the industry from: how they recruit new talent, maintain talent, grow talent, cast, film, produce, direct, schedule, etc. needs to be upgraded to the 20th century, not even the 21st.

      • Hong Kong ( China) had dramas subbed in other languages since the 70’s 80’s especially vietnam, and surrounding countries. So China isn’t copying the “Hallyu” wave of Korea. While I like Korean Entertainment, let’s not say China is copying Korea, since Chinese movies had been showing in the United States since I can remember ” Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”; a lot of Gong Li’s movie were shown and got actual oscar nominations.

      • This is so write. I fell in love with Thai dramas because, despite their tropes, when they’re good, they are really good. I also stumbled on some Filipino dramas and those are really good too. Taiwan puts out at least 2 dramas a year that I completely fall in love with. Kdramas are going to have a lot of competition for international audiences as time progresses and other Asian production companies step their games up.

  2. That’s sad to hear but it could be because many no longer watch tv through television but through websites. I personally don’t think the quality of korean dramas has gone down but it has definitely changed and it’s a struggle to meet the higher expectations of current viewers. Focusing on china is a logical next step, but perhaps korean production companies can capitalize on online streaming websites (replete with viewers acting as translators like viki) since korean dramas are still very popular online.

  3. Such interesting news. I think definitely Kdramas have changed over the years. I can see how older actors were more appealing to the older Japanese audience. Nowadays there are so many K idols acting, it’s true they don’t appeal to the older generation and the younger generation watches online. Looking back at older K dramas, the actors were older, nowadays Hallyu actresses have to partner up with idols or much younger actors… I was thinking the other day too, where are older K actors now? It’s true they are not doing K dramas. Won Bin? Bae Yong Joon, not on screen…but, the actresses are still there. Why are male cast K actors getting younger? Is it really a demand or just K ent pushing their idols…but I agree, the quality has shifted.

    • Won Bin is a bit of an exception but in general older K actors have much better things to do than star in sappy romances and paper thin mysteries. Older K actresses would do the same except there isn’t as much demand for them in the movie industry from what I’ve seen.

  4. The quality of Korean dramas have declined tremendously because of their filming and airing at the same time. That method of producing dramas sucks because they lack the time to write a creative script, lack the budget to do certain impressive scenes or fighting sequences so they settle for less appealing scenes or props, and everything is just so rushed. They look cheap now compared to China dramas.

  5. Woah. So the biggest takeaway from this being; the fad is over, or at least has been for a while.
    And that the current generation of Lee Jong-seoks, Kim Woo-bins, Joo Wons and Lee Min-hos ain’t doing much for them.
    I actually agree!
    Although Kim Soo-hyun and Song Joong-ki still have the ability to reel me in, the rest I just can’t get behind.
    The scripts are also getting lamer and seeing how even quality scriptwriters like Song Ji-na and Noh Hee-kyung have degenerated and succumbed to the cashmoney, it really has been a downward spiral.

    • Wow, I thought it showed an error sign as I posted that damning comment, hence thinking it hadn’t been published. Was meant to leave a more optimistic conclusion lol.
      I think the production quality is amazing, and there is still quality product, it’s the writing and acting that is faltering. However there are always rare exceptions and I hope to place some hope in those exceptions to save us from drowning in mediocrity.

    • I can rest assure you that Lee Min Ho dosen’t apply to this case and on the contrary his going strong in Japna atm. Japanese Minoz is healthy and strong and has been that thru out the years.

      As far as I remember faith broke a monumental record just this last year beating American Movies, TV-shows and even Local Japanese contents that even the Japanese awarded faith with award.



  6. One thing I find distracting while watching k dramas is many male actors have too much makeup on them. For example, bright pink lipstick.

  7. I used to enjoyed kdramas, but lately they all seems the same. so dramatics and unrealistic. Korean celebrity has too much plastic surgery on their face.

  8. omg that picture up there, those dramas were the ones that got me into watching korean dramas. i can’t help but to agree that korean dramas are not as nice as before. I feel that they are lacking in originality… and somehow the dramas do not appeal to me ๐Ÿ™

    • Aww…we’re the same.

      All those dramas are ones that got me into KDrama hype. But I admit, nowadays, I will only follow like 2 or 3 the most.
      And yes, they’re not as good as the old ones. Need to work more on the originality. Also, later dramas are not so appealing. Some of them starting good…and down spiral from there. So sad.

  9. It makes sense kdramas just aren’t as good as before now.. Most dramas start off promising and then goes downhill as episodes go on..

    Instead of them trying to milk China of its money they should really start changing the process of drama filming like have the script fully written or something.. Cause chances are with the declining quality of the drama, ratings and the hype in China would go downhill too?

  10. I can see their point really. It doesn’t help that the high rated dramas lately like YFAS or Heirs are mediocre at best. Everything has idols in it, everything has PPL in it and writers giving in to the audience seems to have gotten even worse the last couple years. The actors are all young pretty boys and most of them are basically the same. Kdramas aren’t what they used to be.

  11. It seems the decline started after 2010-2011q but when China got enthusiastic with the korean dramas 2 years ago, the things only got worse. All become dollar signs. The prices of an episode in China went up 10 times in a short time and maybe the Japanese TV didn’t want to pay higher for the same content. Also the PPL, the idols everywhere and the weak plots didn’t help to continue the Hallyu wave. Ironically, the Chinese law SATFT will help Koreans to return to good dramas, if they want to defend their production.

  12. I feel the opposite. The quality of kdramas improved and got so much better within the years. I would watch many new korean dramas over old ones like BOF or PHours just for the simple reason that the plot, acting (except for some idols) the visual and cinematography showcased lately are much much better than before and that’s my opinion of course. The channel stopped airing new kdramas in japan to me that’s their loss, they should from now on air their jdramas instead and satisfy their old viewers.

    • I only really feels this way about the cable dramas. I think most of the Kdramas I’ve watched this year all the way to the end, have aired on the cable channels..except for IOIL and KMHM.

  13. No surprise that. The dramas are been churned out as quickly as MacDonald are popping up across the world. The script are change, written, edited on day of filming or even airing. There is no time for writers to reflect on storyline, actor to get into character fully and grown into their roles. With more dramas using pretty face for lead roles and neglecting good experienced actors(except for the repeated few). Their acting quality is just lackluster. I too agree Korea Dramas are not like it was at all….

  14. are we grading now haha okay I will rate them honestly

    directing quality = improve
    writing = average

    acting = F as in FAIL haha I cannot connect with the current actress and actors right now

    but I’m no expert soo haha

  15. sadly, i dont prefer to watch kdramas with young inexperienced idols and actors as their main lead. the producers seems to rely mainly on their popularity and looks to sell the stories, but neglecting all the important aspects like storyline,growth of the characters and emotions, cinematography in exceptions of few dramas. i can watch the same kdramas multiple times before, but not now really. they really need to do something to about it.

    • I agree. It is such a shame, there have been a number of dramas that has good, interesting storyline but the script or casting just destroy its potential. The writers are not even enough time to think thru their plot ans how to develop the story till the end.
      There have been a few recent dramas with interesting beginning but by the middle, viewers are dropping like flies. The end gets very disappointing. But what can you expect from so many last minute filming. Up till the last day of airing, often, the drama is still being filmed with late scripts. The experience actor can try to pull it off but the inexperience actors just cannot delivery. It is such a shame, time is no longer given to good script writer to complete writing a good script.
      And time for actors to read the script and have proper rehearsal and most important connect with their fellow actors.
      It takes time produce good dramas. But since time is money, I guess, it is a luxury they dont want to give.

      • I can add – there are only few dramas in the last 3-4 years, where one or both main leads die. There were times, when we were happy to see both them alive in the end. “Sorry I love you”, “Authumn tale”, “A love to kill” – so much tears. And now the korean scriptwriters have to invent vague endings to replace the previous “They died happily” with “He maybe dreamed this or maybe that’s happened – your choice”. All this – not to dissapoint the public. Sorry, but I feel bad with open endings!

  16. Some japanese never got over the Bae Yong Joon and ‘Winter Sonata’ mania (never understood their obsession with it I must say, the drama was boring as hell and BYJ as the lead, ha ha no comment)…visiting Korea was like making a pilgrimage to a holy site if you know what I mean. That’s a shame for sure but I’m not surprised. Moreover, knowing that it’s mostly ajummas (housewives) who still watch tv nowadays…others have switched to internet to watch their favorite shows thus the low ratings imo. I think people are nostalgic of the past, dramas weren’t better 10 years ago (actors neither), it’s just they felt fresh and innovative to foreigners like us…I know I felt this way the first time I was introduced to k-dramas (My Girl),I was so excited and could hardly wait for new episodes lol (a drama that didn’t age well btw, I still like it but not as much as before…Lee Jun Ki was my first k-drama crush, he’s still one of my fav actor to this day, ‘My Girl’ is definitely not one of his best works) Nowadays, I’m so picky, I drop many dramas early on because I lose interest very quickly…the last dramas I loved and completed were ‘Kill me Heal me’ and ‘Healer’, yeah early 2015! I’ve completed ‘The Scholar who walks the Night” of course but wasn’t thrilled by it (though Jun Ki’s performance is flawless as usual); Healer was good, Ji Chang Wook is a talented actor (good looking as well) and have become a favorite of mine after Empress Ki.

    Let’s rate the dramas you put as examples on this page :
    Winter Sonata- couldn’t pass 3 episodes, it was that bad. Overrated imo.
    Delightful Girl Choon-Hyang- fun though the main actress was painful to watch, not Hong Sis’ best (Hong Sis dramas aren’t my cup of tea already so…)
    Autumn in my heart- boring, overrated, SSH can’t act out of a paper bag (Dr Jin anyone?) (forgive my bluntness),he seems like a nice guy irl and is hot but that’s all… he’s not cut for acting imo. As for Won Bin, when was his last project already? Even k-netizens are tired of waiting for him.
    Stairway to heaven- I didn’t watch it, I can’t comment.
    I’m sorry, I love you- I was relieved when I finished this one…it was so depressing.
    Full House- overrated…Since then, I can’t watch a drama with Rain as the lead. He’s a fantastic singer/performer, actor not so much.
    Goong- good drama, I was already a fan of the manhwa so it was a given I would like this one.
    My girl- see above
    My name is Kim Sam Soon- the best in your list…to this day, I still love it. Excellent actors. A riot I tell you.
    Coffee Prince- a good one as well. Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun Hye have sizzling chemistry.
    Dae Jang Geum- I didn’t watch,I can’t comment.
    Boys Over Flowers- I’m ashamed to say I loved it when it first came out…overrated as hell, Go Hye Sun is unbearable as Geum Jan Di, Kim Hyun Joong is as stiff as a board (in every role I must say). Stick to the japanese one if you want to watch a good Hana Yori Dango version.

    Overall, I don’t think K-dramas quality has deteriorated over the years… That’s rather the opposite,dramas nowadays are more diversified imo (I also recommend cable dramas, they are often better than the ones offered by the big 3), old dramas tended to focus mainly on romance. Lastly, this also could be explained by the simple fact that people have watched too many of them and therefore are more picky and critical about them. I know I’m one of them.
    No seriously, it’s a worldwide thing… like I stated before, people nowadays don’t watch tv that much, they mainly rely on the internet to watch their fav shows… the older generation is the only one still watching it, that’s why shows targeting the younger generation generally tank, Ajummas and Halmonis are definitely not interested in watching young bloods like Lee Jong Suk, Joo Won, Yoo Ah In, Ji Chang Wook etc……….oops,sorry for the long-winded post ๐Ÿ™

    • its funny, the ones that you said overrated are the ones that like. i could not finish kim sam soon nor intend to watch coffee prince, not my type of genre BOF bored me to death. we completely have a different taste?.

    • Spare us the long post.. but I’m gonna tell you one tell it ain’t about what Ahjummas think or whatever personalities think. Tv-shows are for entertainment purposes the show that can sell there worthy to the most are usually crowned and dosen’t have to necessary make all ppl around the globe happy but most which by default means its the most supported and watched tv-show takes the credit. the rest is rabish rabish talk tho. just my to cents on the reality out there

  17. Most the viewers of Korean dramas were older women, mostly bored housewives that enjoyed the romance of Korean dramas.
    I don’t think there’s been a hit like winter sonata in Japan in these past years and Yon-sama still has a huge fanbase of obachans stanning for him.
    Things are changing, the hallyu wave has been fading for years in Japan and current Kdramas are simply not very good.
    There are always a few gems once in a while but mostly stories are rehashed, productions are full of idols with limited acting abilities and the stories aren’t very good. (Cable dramas have proven to be more interesting and dare to take chances, now give me VP season 3 darn it!)
    Also the shooting schedule is problematic as well.

  18. Yes, I agree nowadas young people watch dramas in Internet. But hey, almost ALL international viewers watch online. We don’t wait out TV stations to show us the latest Korean dramas – we search for streaming sites or use torrents (don’t send us to jail ๐Ÿ™‚ ) So when someone living afar from korea is saying that cannot find an interesting drama to follow, there is deffinitelly a problem. I never watched “Winter sonata” and BOF was too childish for me, but the “interesting” stories of the cable TVs as divorsed couples or people with phobias are not inventing the hot water.

  19. The last Kdrama that I fully finished was Punch. My interest in Kdrama has stopped since 2013. I’ve been watching Jdrama and CDrama lately (just got done with ‘Boss and Me’ and that drama is amazing and adorable. I enjoy the sisterly bond between the main girl w/ her cousin and best friend. Anyone has any good recommendation for Cdrama that is similar to ‘Boss and Me’? Thanks.)

    • I recommend “Silent Separation”, also known as “My Sunshine”.
      It started in depressing-tone, as the OTP used to be lovers in college, but due to so many things, they misunderstood each other, and got separated. The story started seven years later after the separation. But gradually, the story is getting “brighter”, when finally YiChen (the male-protagonist) and MoSheng (the female-protagonist) is on the same page. And also, like It Started with a Kiss, the female lead is really brave, and have courage to pursue her love. Very nice, with flashbacks stories when they were in college.
      It’s very interesting, as the male and the female lead, their personalities are very different, and I think opposites attract.
      Just search in youtube, they have all episodes, subbed. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  20. I also feel that my interest in K-dramas is waning. Not because of romance quality though, but because of plots that are made too farfetched for the sake of mere entertaining.

  21. It declined because a lot of the S.Korean actors and actresses being shown currently in S.Korean drama are uglier than the local actors/actresses in each of their targeted market countries. That’s a fact and nothing but the truth! For example, Park Shin Hye and Suzy Bae for a popular younger generation of K actresses, those are nothing compared to the beauty of our local celeb like Liza Soberano in Philippines, a very beautiful actress, just to site an example ok. So long gone are the days when the likes of Choi Ji Woo, Song Hye Kyo, Lee Yo Won, and Yoon Eun Hye have ruled the Hallyu dramas and captured the hearts of people around Asia and the World. The new generation or existing ones are not that generating great interest compared to it’s predecessors of Hallyu actresses.

  22. There are very few interesting dramas these days. Storylines have been done to death or they start out interesting and degrade into something else. I don’t want to waste my time anymore. I read recaps.
    Also, too many new actors. Some are good, some are not. I miss the not so old timers.

  23. no surprise. japan is more into older man younger woman. that why all their show have older man cheating on his wife with younger woman. they should be into i have a lover that show fit what japanese like.

  24. honestly it never made sense to me that they would import so many, I’m not saying they should stop entirely but kdramas are so much less interesting that jdramas, kdramas are more stereotypical with a higher number of romcoms and repetitive plot sageuk while jdramas have such wide variety of themes and stories,the acting is also far superior in jdramas. Ironically this might be because kdramas are mor financially successful so they choose to repeat the same recipes that succeed, it’s more commercial, I’m not saying jdramas are not an industry but japan produces much better quality fiction

  25. Let’s be real kdramas have never been good in terms of critical quality. At their height, they were hyper addictive soap operas full of cliches and I enjoyed them immensely. Want to add that there are many, many b-a-d kdramas from the same era as the ones posted by Miss Koala that noone ever remembers or talks about.

    I remember the first time I watched BOF, I was stunned at how cliched it was but I couldn’t stop watching. It was my first time in a long time encountering such an addictive element in a TV show. If it weren’t for that feature of the show, I would have ran away from kdramas screaming forever (I couldn’t finish it though lol).

    There’s much higher production quality but the writing can be hit or miss. The high quality dramas of recent times like Misaeng, Punch, It’s Okay It’s Love blow these older dramas out of the water in every way but they might not be cracktastic enough for international audiences to go crazy over them. I think because that magical, addicting quality in kdramas is hard to come by nowadays, people are now able to see their shortcomings.

    Just my theory but there are many factors at play and some that we as an international audience might not be aware of. Kdrama industry needs to figure out how to make kdramas addictive and enthralling again without resorting to the same cliches executed in the same way.

  26. japan do not give a d*mn about other nationalities likes and dislikes They prioritize their own arts, talents and culture first Its like they are telling you “if you like us then learn it, deal with and be part of us” That is what differentiate japan to other asian countries.

  27. The quality of Kdrama has improved but most all good dramas- ratings do not reflect that. All pretty actors (even without talent) are more popular. Did the SDA not prove that? Winter Sonata – was dreary and I want my hours back from watching that show. If Japanese audience feel that it was the best then be it. To each their own.

  28. Korea is moving more and more towards the pre-recorded dramas so we may have a hike back into quality products.

    I think what a lot of people miss is the all out misery with a silver lining that consumed the 1st generation of hallyu dramas. I think Thai films are stepping up to the plate to fill in this gap.

    Like people have said, the rest of Asia is stepping up their game and releasing higher quality products while Korea has been stagnant for a while.

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