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“The Korean wave”: out with Kdramas, in with Korean TV shows

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After Korean music, series and movies, why not let yourself be seduced by South Korean TV programs?

Made in Korea” programs have been immensely successful these pasts few years. Oscar winner movie Parasite and the binge-worthy Netflix series Squid Game are proof of Koreas gigantic success in cinematic production. This high demand for Korean movies and series, streaming giant Netflix quickly noticed it and now offers a growing number of films and series originating from the Land of the Morning calm. In fact, Netflix recently announced that it would invest a whopping 2.5 billion dollars on South Korean content in the next four years to come. Here are five programs available on Netflix which we believe are worth a watch.

« Singles Inferno »

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This love quest reality tv show brings together singles on a deserted island, nicknamed: the hottest hell on Earth. On the island participants try to find love and form couples in order to fly away to paradise. In hell, they will have to sleep in tents, fetch water from a fountain located at the other end of the island content themselves with basic meals. Another inconvenience: they will get to know each other without revealing their age or profession, this privilege being reserved for those who will go to heaven. Dire living conditions and restrictions designed to encourage them to reach paradise as quickly as possible. Indeed, in paradise, couples will be able to savor as many gourmet dishes as they wish and will have the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of services available to them during their stay in a luxury hotel. This original concept portrays Korean societys perception of celibacy. Although this trend is changing, it is still frowned upon for adults to be single in Korea. The candidates therefore hope to remedy this by leaving on the arm of the chosen one at the end of the adventure. Full of disillusion, hope and multiple plot-twists, their journey will not be an easy one.

A quest followed and commented on by stars Hong Jinkyung, Lee Dahee, Kyuhyun and Hanhae. Consisting of a total of 10 episodes, the first season arrived on Netflix France in December 2021. A year later, a second season was released. The third season is already on its way.

« Physical : 100 »

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« Physical: 100 » is quite a unique reality tv show. The synopsis? One hundred participants go head to head to be crowned with the most perfect body, and win 300 million Korean won (≈ 200 000 €/305 000 $ CA). Many of these men and women are cyclists, dancers, bodybuilders, rescuers or even MMA boxers originating from different parts of South Korea. Some are famous celebrities known for their unusual strength and skills. To earn the winning title, participants will have to overcome extreme challenges inspired from Greek mythology. But thats not all! Beyond their physical abilities, candidates must show off their strategic and analytical minds. Essential skills to survive throughout the elimination and earn the title. Similarly to Singles Inferno, the theme of this TV competition echoes Korean societys obsession with ones physical appearance. Added to the catalog on January 24th, the ten episodes produced by the MBC channel have been met with outstanding success around the world. According to Korean media Yonhap « Physical: 100 » ranked in first place in the world weekly ranking of non-English speaking television programs available on the platform. The agency reports that it “was the most-watched television program during the period from February 6 to 12, 2023, with 41.6 million hours of viewing”. If a second season has yet to be announced, we have no doubt that it will be very soon.

« Take 1 »

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In « Take 1 » seven musicians from different musical genres have the opportunity to create the performance they have always dreamed of with total freedom. Nevertheless, artists will have to agree to one astonishing rule. They will only have one take, no more. They are unable to restart the performance, whether successful or not. A risky and ambitious project which is sure to put some pressure on the them. The cast includes: Kpop group MAMAMOO, multi-talented singer RAIN, opera singer Sumo Ji, folk duo AKMU, rocker Yim Jaebeom, ballad singer Lena Park and presenter and singer You Heeyul. All will get ready to deliver the most important performance of their life.

The show takes us to backstage of these grand performances, letting us witness all the preparations. Whether it’s the choice of song, the location or the choreography, participants will face several dilemmas which will make it difficult for them. Not to mention the unforeseen and last-minute changes that will make them doubt everything. Another difficulty; time is not on their side. In fact, a clock countdown the days to the grand event. The show offers a chance to see these artists as they have never been seen before and allows us to discover unknown facets of their personalities.

« Men on a Mission »

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Broadcast on the JTBC channel since 2015 and since 2020 on Netflix, this talkshow stars celebrities as high school students freshly arrived at a new school. For more than an hour, in a classroom setting, the stars will face off against each other in challenges of all kinds, all whilst answering the presenters questions. But with any losses or wrong answers, participants will have to complete funny and abnormal dares. Improvised sketches, Twister, miming , whisper Challenge, dancing and singing, these dares are sure to make you laugh. In seven years of existence, many Kpop idols and actors have returned to school for the show. Monsta X, GOT 7, Red Velvet, A Pink as well as the castings of the drama “Sky Castle” and “The Fiery Priest” participated to the talk show. Some groups and actors come to promote a new album or series, others simply to recount their journey in the music and/or film industry over the years. A way to learn more and discover artists in a setting far from the traditional form of a face-to-face interview. For now, Netflix only offers one season consisting of twenty-three episodes. Head to Viki platform to watch the other seasons.

« Paik’s Spirit »

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Is there anything better than food? In culinary talkshow « Paik’s Spirit » the famous chef Paik Jongwon invites celebrities to his table to discuss food and alcohol. Youll find other celebrities alongside him, such as rappers Loco and Jay Park, actress Han Jimin, television producer Nah YungSuk, volleyball player Kim Yeonkoung and many more. The chef and the other stars discuss food preferences, the virtues of the products they ingest, highlight the role of food and alcohol in the socialization process and discuss how food has sometimes helped them to overcome testing times throughout their lives. Conversations are not just about food. For about sixty minutes, the renowned chef and his companions of the day discuss various societal topics such as old age, notoriety, self-acceptance and difference. These conversations allow us to discover more about the guests and their outlook on life. We also get to discover many Korean dishes and drinks thanks to the many travels of chef Paik Jongwon. Each of these meetings will feature a tasting of the countrys culinary specialties. After watching the six episodes, samgyeopsal, somaek, hanu and makgeolli will no longer be gibberish to you. “Paik’s Spirit” is available on Netflix since October 1, 2021.

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