Beyond ‘faux cinderella stories’: This is how fans defended K-drama to Erik Matti

April 20, 2020 - 9:39 PM
The Netflix logo is pictured on a television remote in this illustration photograph taken in Encinitas, California
The Netflix logo is pictured on a television remote in this illustration photograph taken in Encinitas, California, U.S., January 18, 2017. (Reuters/Mike Blake/File Photo)

Veteran filmmaker Erik Matti got schooled online over the weekend after he criticized the popularity of Korean dramas on the streaming platform Netflix. 

Last April 14, Matti tweeted that the popularity of Korean dramas or K-dramas showed the doom of the film and television industry in the Philippines 

He further criticized these shows as “all love in the midst of this pandemic.” 

 “Faux cinderella stories with belofied actors whiter than white. And it’s all about love in the midst of this pandemic,” he said.

As of April 20, majority of the top ten on Netflix Philippines were K-dramas namely: “The King: Eternal Monarch,” “Hi Bye, Mama!,” “Crash Landing on You,” “Itaewon Class,” “Fight for My Way,” and “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim.”  

Fans of these South Korean television series eventually spoke up against Matti’s view, pointing out that not all Korean dramas tell love stories.  

Some Filipinos, including local social media personality and entertainment host Kring Kim, took the time to suggest a list of Korean shows that are either socio-political, philosophical or cultural in nature.  

The actors there, too aren’t young and I believe most of them didn’t get cosmetic surgery (just naturally good-looking & have good skin). You might be surprised how well-made those are and might be an inspiration for you, too,” she said.  

Another online user said that downgrading foreign films or series just because they are popularity than local ones is wrong.  

There are many undiscovered Filipino films that we tend to overlook which has great cinematography and plots. But to downgrade a film genre just because it is doing well, is racist and xenophobic,” the user said. 

Other Filipinos, meanwhile, used their wit to compare the quality of the visuals on South Korean series to that of some teleseryes which were also poked fun at in the past.  

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Posted by Ranein Sy on Saturday, April 18, 2020


Twitter users also cited the difference between Korean and Filipino television series in terms of storylines and themes.

For a Twitter user, the rise of K-dramas is better because it widens the variety for Filipino viewers.

The strict travel restrictions imposed amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, wherein all onsite work, classes and all types of social gathering are suspended, made online streaming popular among Filipinos, whether in platforms such as Netflix or on other video streaming platforms on social media.  

The umbrella directive was implemented as part of the national government’s stringent measures to help curb the novel coronavirus pandemic in the country.  

Much more than love stories  

The popularity of K-dramas in the Philippines is part of the Hallyu wave, the phenomenon that describes the distribution or spread of South Korean cultural products to the rest of the world, which goes way back in the early 2000s.  

A 2016 study titled “Beyond the Fad: Understanding Hallyu in the Philippines” from the International Journal of Social Science and Humanity observed that the Hallyu wave might have arrived in the country in the form of Korean series. 

Aside from good looks of Korean actors and actresses, the researchers found that the relatable stories and unique storytelling appealed to the Filipino audience the most.  

“People say that aside from the good-looking actors and actresses that brought charms of the series, the drama’s story line is quite different in such a way that the lead characters both died in the end which is somewhat unusual for Filipinos who got used to happy endings,” the researchers wrote 

Philippine TV networks then started creating remakes of popular Koreanovelas and movies, which in turn, appealed to a wider demographic over time.  

Recently, GMA-7 launched the Filipino adaptation of award-winning Korean series “Descendants of the Sun” starred by Dingdong Dantes and Jennylyn Mercado. The remake of “Miracle in Cell No. 7” which was part of the lineup of last year’s Metro Manila Film Festival was also well received by Filipinos.