Why Most K-Dramas End After 1 Season, Explained


Summary

  • Korean dramas focus on quality over quantity, developing captivating stories and characters in one season.
  • Advertising in K-Dramas is done through product placement, contributing to revenue for production companies.
  • South Korean audiences prefer well-written, concise dramas, leading to a production trend of single-season shows.



For over a decade, K-Dramas have become the staple of romance stories, providing a swoon-worthy experience for romantics who are deeply in love with the notion. Dramas like True Beauty, Pinocchio, and Cheese in the Trap set high standards nearly a decade ago, paving the way for many masterpieces, including It’s Okay to Not Be Okay and Crash Landing On You. Almost all of these successful Korean dramas have one thing in common: they all end after one season.

While it may seem fairly strange that these Korean dramas have followed the same pattern, as opposed to many TV shows running for years with multiple seasons, it works brilliantly for the viewers. It is not that Korean productions are incapable of producing multiple seasons, rather they refrain from doing so for a variety of reasons. If you’re curious about why most Korean dramas end after one season, here’s a comprehensive analysis.



K-Dramas Prioritize Quality Over Quantity

It goes without saying that most Korean dramas released in the last decade have been highly successful, even competing with some of the best TV series made in the West. Most Korean dramas stick to a single season of twelve to sixteen episodes, lasting an hour to an hour and a half. Even if the duration is excruciatingly long when compared with traditional TV shows, it is within the nature of the K-Drama industry that these stories are woven with impeccable quality.


As a result, these stories tend to be highly captivating, with an emphasis on both character development and chemistry between the main leads. Furthermore, most of the dramas are created with a definite plot in mind, rather than experimenting with other endings to see how the audience would feel if another season was made. It should be mentioned that drama scripts are written by independent authors in the Korean industry and then picked up by production companies, resulting in the wonderful dramas we see on a daily basis.

It is not that the authors don’t want to expand their narratives; it is just that most Korean audiences would rather watch one fantastic season than spend their time watching dramas with lows and highs. Since K-Dramas are produced on a large budget, with filming taking place in beautiful locations and prominent actors devoting their valuable time, they would want to adhere to a single season.

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Advertising and Marketing Differences in K-Dramas

While not everyone is aware of this, advertising in Korean dramas varies significantly from what we see on other TV shows worldwide. Typically, we see advertisements during commercial breaks when watching a television show, or if you’re seeing it on a streaming service, you either subscribe to it or watch with ads. However, in Korean dramas, advertising is done through product placement within the drama, which is not overemphasized, in order to make it fair for the viewers.


For example, Subway is a brand that appears frequently in K-Dramas, mostly when a male or female lead relishes the flavor of their food — this is a form of marketing to generate revenue for the production company. Prior to the smart streaming era, these K-Dramas had significant success on television, and the industry has followed the same pattern ever since. Furthermore, the majority of the revenue from product placement goes to the production company rather than the network on which it is aired, so opting for a second season would necessitate contacting the independent writers, actors (who are already committed to other projects), and an entire production crew from the ground up.

It is a tricky business within the South Korean industry, so they choose to conclude most dramas with a single season. However, streaming platforms such as Netflix have made it feasible to underwrite K-Dramas by producing multiple seasons, and we expect to see more of them in the future.


Various Options for Korean Audiences

There are many notable TV series in the mainstream media, but there are also an equal number of poorly written shows. However, this is not the case in South Korea, where people are very selective about TV dramas and prefer to avoid shows that take a long time to get into or seem dull from the start. It’s also why many K-Dramas have low ratings in South Korea despite being regarded as masterpieces globally.

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TV networks such as SBS, tvN, and EBS are continuously producing new dramas, most of which last only one season, since the decline in ratings might result in a significant loss in profits. Having said that, many streaming providers, like Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix, are acquiring rights to stream these Korean dramas overseas, giving production companies new avenues to earn profits. Hopefully, we will see more K-Dramas with multiple seasons produced in the future, albeit it is uncommon for South Korean networks. What are your thoughts on most K-Dramas ending with a single season?



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