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The Social Impact of Kdramas

Expanding around the world, South Korean culture is in vogue. K-pop, the abbreviation for Korean pop music, has imposed itself globally thanks to BTS, who themselves have amassed millions of fans globally. We can also mention the country's cuisine that is widely appreciated by gourmets outside the borders of South Korea. It would be remiss to approach the influence of South Korean culture without mentioning the famous k-dramas. These Korean-language TV series are similar to Western miniseries. They greatly contributed to the rise of the Korean wave, hallyu, or the increase in the diffusion of South Korean culture, first in Asia and then in the rest of the world.


However, the Korean formula contains many shadows. This is the case, for example, with school bullying. 

The Glory: The Reflection of a Deeply Unequal Society 


Recently, the series The Glory caused a sensation on Netflix. Culminating for two weeks in March on the podium of the most watched series in South Korea, the 16-episode production has been all the rage in 90 other countries. The worldwide success of the series can be explained by several factors. First of all, the themes addressed by The Glory are resolutely timeless and universal. 


Throughout the series, the viewer is invited to follow Moon Dong-eun, the main protagonist in her quest for revenge. The thirty-year-old was bullied while she was in high school. The storyline follows Dong-eun as she is abused and eventually leaves her school. The series insists on abandoning the institutions of which poor Dong-eu was a victim. Indeed, his school and the corrupt police authority did not bat an eyelid.


She was therefore completely abandoned to her fate. This allows the adult main character to satisfy all of his darkest fantasies, consisting of the total annihilation of Park Yeon-jin's life, the one that made Dong-eun's life hell. The series also addresses other themes such as social conditions, the absence of functional parents and isolation. If the series has been particularly appreciated around the world, it is mainly thanks to the empathy generated by Dong-eun as well as the identification with his suffering for those who share his experience. 


The platform had already decided to highlight the scourge of school bullying by broadcasting Lookism. This time, the story was taken from a webtoon. The viewer then follows the daily life of a young Korean high school student harassed because of his social condition as well as his physique that is considered unsightly by his bullies. Without spoiler, the physique of the young man ends up corresponding to the standards of Korean beauty and the latter sees new opportunities open to him. 


If The Glory series has been able to generate more reactions, it is fundamentally thanks to its down-to-earth side, anchored in reality. The scourge of bullying in South Korea affects the lives of at least 62,000 people, according to the country's Ministry of Education. This means that the number of victims has doubled in five years. The situation is so dramatic that the South Korean government has decided to act accordingly. 


Dissuasive Measures


President Yoon Suk-yeol and South Korea's prime minister hope to set up a criminal record system for abusive students, including bullies. This is a particularly penalizing measure because it prevents the young bully from accessing the best schools. Indeed, when it is mentioned in a student's file that he is or has behaved abusively towards his classmates, he is immediately disqualified. 


The suneung is an official South Korean exam allowing high school students to access the most prestigious universities in the country. It is also in these establishments that companies recruit their future employees. Thus, missing such an opportunity seals the professional future of young South Koreans. Namely that the mention of harassment in the file of a student remains visible for at least 4 years before middle and high school students can access higher education. This measure should be formalized in 2026. 


The scourge of bullying in South Korea was known long before the broadcast and worldwide success of The Glory. However, although the country's government had promised strong measures against this problem over the years, no lasting solution had been found. With the introduction of the student criminal record, ill-intentioned people know that they now have a lot to lose, in addition to their morality. 


This measure could prosecute stalkers long after college. Some members of the government would like the student criminal record to be taken into account when entering working life. This means that during job interviews, the court file could be requested by human resources. However, this possibility is not about to be added. The government is counting on this side for a second chance, to erase past misdeeds, an opportunity to change radically.


Thus, the broadcast of the series The Glory still makes it possible to affirm that k-dramas participate in an in-depth knowledge of the country by highlighting its problems. They contribute greatly to his criticism and possibly to a change in social behavior. These programs are profoundly didactic. Although there is no conclusive evidence that the implementation of this deterrent measure by the South Korean government is linked to the broadcast of the series, they occur at the same time. 


Edited by Sean Mulryan



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Tags: South Korea Kdramas The Glory Harassement


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