K-contents enjoyed all over the world (Squid Game, BTS, Oscar winner)

2021 was a year that the Korean entertainment industry gained many impressive achievements. Taking the opportunity of this year-end time, let’s recall those splendid memories.

2021 marked a year when the world has become more enthusiastic about Korean culture than ever before. K-drama topped the world’s largest online video service (OTT), while K-Movie and KPOP also won a series of big achievements at prominent global awards ceremonies. Let’s look back on several “K-contents” representing Korean culture that heated up the world in 2021.

The power of “K-Drama” that even Netflix was surprised

Posters provided by Netflix
Posters provided by Netflix

K-Dramas literally created global syndromes this year. The drama “Squid Game”, which was produced by Korean and featured Korean actors, tells the story of people who risk their lives participating in a mysterious survival game in order to win a large amount of money. 4 weeks after it was released on Netflix on September 17th (KST), “Squid Game” gathered 142 million views from accounts all around the world, making it the biggest hit in the history of Netflix series. “Squid Game” characters’ costumes and various traditional Korean games that appeared in the drama were made into cultural “memes” that are widely used on the Internet. Moreover, this Netflix’s original series was nominated for 3 categories at the Golden Globe Awards (television series), which is scheduled to be held in the U.S in January 2022. This is the first time that a Korean drama and Korean actors were nominated at this awards ceremony.

Hellbound” also ranked No.1 in the global chart on Netflix the day it was premiered, proving the status of “trustworthy K-content” once again, following “Squid Game”. “The Silent Sea”, which was unveiled through Netflix on December 24th, is also showing signs of success as it ranked No.4 in the global rankings within 2 days of its release. In addition, “Crash Landing on You”, “Vincenzo”, and “Hometown Cha Cha Cha” were also very popular to global drama fans as they captivated the hearts of many viewers from overseas countries when they were broadcast. 

K-Movie stands out at the Oscars

Yoon Yeo-jung, who received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the movie "Minari". EPA/Yonsei News.
Yoon Yeo-jung, who received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the movie “Minari”. EPA/Yonsei News.

This spring, the world fell into the charm of Korean actors through the movie “Minari“. Produced based on the true story of Korean-American director Jeong Isak, the movie tells the story of a Korean family who immigrated to the United States in the 1980s and created a farm in the countryside. At the same time as the movie was successful, attention was paid to actors such as Yoon Yeo-jung, Alan Kim, and Steven Yeun. In particular, Yoon Yeo-jung, who won the Oscar trophy for the first time as a Korean actress through “Minari,” became a hot topic with her acceptance speech showing her unique talk. Her honest expression and confident appearance have gained explosive popularity by creating new words such as “grandmillennial” (a combination of ‘grandmother’ and ‘millennial’) and ” Yoon Pervading” (a combination of ‘Yoon Yeo-jeong’ and ‘Pervading’).

KPOP’s Continuous record march

BTS won the "Favorite Pop Song" category at the "American Music Awards". AP/YONhap News.
BTS won the “Favorite Pop Song” category at the “American Music Awards”. AP/YONhap News.

The first, the most, and longest are the modifiers that refer to the idol group BTS. Since its debut in 2013, it has recorded a new history every year and has become an icon of culture beyond the KPOP music world. BTS’s single “Butter” topped the Billboard main chart for 10 weeks, maintaining its No. 1 spot on the chart for the longest time among songs released this year. Analysts say that BTS winning the top awards at major U.S. music awards, which have been conservative, and its consecutive nominations have changed the world’s perception of K-pop and further raised its status. Reflecting its popularity, BTS has been crowned the “most tweeted star in the world” for the fifth consecutive year this year. 

Starting with BTS, K-pop idols such as BLACKPINK, TWICE, and ATEEZ also succeeded in entering the Billboard chart, showing the enormous influence of K-pop. According to the Korea Customs Service, exports of Korean albums surpassed an all-time high of $200 million thanks to the popularity of K-pop.

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