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Filipino film students on the value of watching K-dramas

Compiled by KERRY TINGA


From Arthdal Chronicles (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Korean television series, also known as K-dramas, have become increasingly popular over the years, especially through online streaming services. While some veterans of the local industry have been dismissive of the genre, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle talks to the future of the Filipino film industry. Here, these aspiring filmmakers and film students, honing their craft and their skill and their POV, share their opinion on the popularity of K-dramas in the Philippines.

The Hallyu Wave

“I have been watching K-dramas, even as a kid, ever since the television stations started airing dubbed versions of it in the early 2000s. I then transitioned to watching dubbed K-dramas through online streaming when it was made more accessible. Arthdal Chronicles, He Is Psychometric, and Hotel del Luna are some of the most recent ones I’ve followed, to name a few.

As a film student, I see how K-dramas are, sadly, more artistic and carefully crafted than Filipino television. I believe the reason they have become popular here in the Philippines, apart from the stunning visuals, is because of their screenwriting and how they craft their characters.

Filipino teleseryes tend to show us characters in black and white. There is always the bida who is pure and can never do anything wrong, and there is the kontrabida who is pure evil. This detaches the characters from what it means to be human, removing parts of reality that could give more substance and texture to the story. K-dramas can definitely fall into these tropes and cliches, but they somehow find a way to show a different perspective and a fresh take most of the time.

Many Korean filmmakers went to film school, devoting time, and effort to learn their craft. I have nothing against filmmakers who didn’t go to film school, and I know firsthand how difficult it is to be in a film school here in the Philippines. But this just brings us to the larger issue, how Filipino society can sometimes think less of the creative world, making it difficult for creative people to make a living out of it.

People sometimes assume that anyone can make a film, or be in a film or television. People sometimes are dismissive of the idea of taking up a film or acting as a degree. But filmmaking is a discipline just like any other profession. The K-drama industry is booming because of the support the Korean government gives to them, part of the Hallyu Wave that has boosted the Korean economy through content consumption and tourism.

We can definitely do better. I trust in our creativity and our expression. We do not lack inspired individuals, that’s for sure. What we lack is respect for the meticulous craft that is storytelling through film and television.

I personally view the success of K-dramas as an inspiration and motivation to connect better with audiences across the globe as the Koreans effectively have. I take inspiration from series that come from America, Spain, Thailand, and of course our own and others I have enjoyed throughout the years. At the end of the day, we are all passionate about the same industry that is ever evolving and growing.” —Clarenz Castillo, a senior film student


Clarenz Castillo (Photo by Amanna Avena)

Storytelling in K-dramas

“Recent K-dramas I have watched include Weightlifing Fairy Kim Bok-joo, and Goblin: The Lonely and Great God.

Dramas have evolved from generation to generation. Our grandparents listened to radio dramas, our parents watched telenovelas, and now we have streaming services, which include K-dramas. With 20 plus episodes that have a runtime of at least an hour each, they can keep you entertained and busy. People who have access to streaming services have become aware of how impactful K-dramas are on a mundane day. If you don’t know how to feel, just watch a K-drama and your feelings will burst.

Virality plays a part in this popular genre. Social media is a platform where you can share your sentiments about a topic, and if people like your piece, they will follow the trend. I believe this is what makes K-dramas so popular. People are always talking about them because they can easily watch the series on their devices.

Before the enhanced community quarantine, I accepted a project from a senior at my school, a thesis film from debut director-writer Gelli Regalado. It is very K-drama-esque. It is about a woman falling in and out of love but who eventually asks herself: Who is the one who needs all that love, the men or herself? While it is influenced by a dozen or so K-dramas, there is a deeper meaning behind all of the glam and fantasy.

K-dramas, just like any other medium or art, tell us a story that may consist of a lesson. And as an artist, I believe that I should be able to tell a compelling and personal story that could also teach the audience. Be it a stage play, a piece of music, a painting, a television series, a commercial, or a film, art is all about telling a story. As a filmmaker, I see these K-dramas as stories that have reached millions of viewers. A story is always a story.

Kahit gaano pa kababaw ‘yan, istorya pa rin ang binabali-balikan ng mga Pilipino. (No matter how shallow they can be, it’s stories Filipinos will always look for).” —Miguel Legaspi, a freshman film student


Miguel Legaspi, director of Riot Logic‘s upcoming music video to “Rocket To The Moon” (Photo by Francis Magundayao)

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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