K-dramas are getting dark in 2023: What makes Netflix’s Queenmaker and The Glory attractive?

K-dramas Netflix sensitive The Glory and Queen Maker dark reality

The craze for dark K-dramas has seen a significant rise in recent times. The most popular K-dramas in the past year include Netflix’s The Glory which depicts school violence, Reborn Rich which depicts the harsh realities of the economy, Taxi Driver which shows the pain of victims who are in the blind spot of law, and 2023 Netflix’s Queenmaker takes inspiration from Korea’s political issues.

Just a couple of years ago Korean dramas were synonymous with healing romantic scripts such as When The Weather Is Fine, second-lead syndromes similar to True Beauty, and love triangles such as in Start-Up. However, over the past years, many dark K-dramas that reflect harsh realities and comment on social issues are becoming popular.

Audiences have especially appreciated stories of revenge such as My Name, bitter-sweet plots Our Blues, and melancholy endings Thirty-Nine and Twenty-Five Twenty-One. Even the romantic blockbuster Extraordinary Attorney Woo raised awareness about various issues through legal cases. This shows a significant change in the choices of audiences which Netflix’s The Glory and Queenmaker successfully satisfies.

Netflix’s Queenmaker depicts political issues and power struggles of conglomerates 

Netflix’s ongoing K-drama Queenmaker starring Kim Hee-ae and Moon So-ri begins with the depiction of abuse of power by the owner of the large conglomerate Eunsung Group. The owner’s daughter, who suffers from anger management issues is under investigation by the police.

Kim Hee-ae’s character a powerful fixer uses various methods to manipulate public opinion. She directs the media to highlight clothes, shoes, and maternal love to create a favorable public opinion. According to the Korean news outlet, Ilgan Sports, this incident reminds netizens of the ‘peanut rage’ incident of 2014.

The political events in the Netflix K-drama Queenmaker also feel familiar with real events. Along with Kim Hee-ae, the drama features Moon So-ri as a labor rights lawyer. She is introduced in the drama from a scene where she held a protest for several months on behalf of workers who were wrongfully laid off. This event also closely touches on the realistic labor rights protests.

Queenmaker also references the gender differences issue as it portrays a realistic political world and the underdogs of society. The drama’s Director Oh Jin-seok shared her inspiration behind the K-drama during a promotion interview. “I think it is an era where the phrase ‘a good world protects the weak’ sounds unfamiliar. [therefore] I wanted to convey that simple value through strong characters.”


OTT platforms play a significant role in providing a stage for sensitive and dark K-dramas like The Glory

Netflix’s arguably the biggest hit of the first half of 2023 The Glory depicts school violence. It highlights the long-lasting suffering of victims of school bullying and violence. This revenge K-drama starring Song Hye-Kyo includes many scenes such as the curling iron which takes inspiration from real events.

OTT platforms have proven to provide a stage for sensitive content and social issues depicted in Korean content. Many K-dramas found a medium of expression through streaming sites as they faced a partial or complete ban on broadcasting on South Korean television. The banned K-dramas include Pachinko, Snowdrop, EVE, Nevertheless, Squid Game, and The King: Eternal Monarch among others.

Talking about the changing trends in viewership, Kim Seong-soo, a cultural critic, told Ilgan Sports that “When a K-drama or K-movie depicts realistic events, it becomes meaningful as the public accepts the original events itself.” As such dark or sensitive K-dramas draw people’s attention to the harsh realities of society while also providing entertainment.

K-drama audiences miss the lighthearted and healing stories in light of the rise of realistic K-dramas

As much as audiences are appreciating realistic K-dramas such as Through The Darkness, which depict the beginning of forensic profiling in Korea by taking inspiration from the real events mentioned in the biographical novel of Korea’s first criminal profiler Kwon Il-yong-


Many also miss the lighthearted K-dramas and K-movies such as the Run On, Reply series, Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon, Hometown Cha Cha Cha, and The Secret Life of My Secretary. Entertainment is a great medium to raise awareness but it is also a medium through which audiences find solace from everyday struggles.

The romantic plots similar to Business Proposal and healing themes similar to Summer Strike provide an opportunity to relax after a long day. They also provide vicarious fluttering of heart, friendships, and hope to fight everyday struggles.

Regardless of the theme of content, Korean dramas are making their way into people’s watchlists with engaging plots.

You can also share any questions you have about Korean dramas. Until then, stay with us here at Spiel Times for more content.

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Don’t forget to check out more of our original content from the list below:

Top Korean horror movies | Korean queer movie Heavy Snow | 7 engaging-dramas | Korean Reality show | 5 Song Hye-Kyo K-dramas | Netflix K-dramas 2023 | Top healing K-dramas | K-drama for Spring | Best Korean reality showsEvolution of LGBTQ in K-dramas | What is Joseon Pop? | The Glory: How K-drama raise awareness about school violence | Reborn Rich portrays harsh realities of the Korean economy

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