Asian movie and television dramas have swept the popular television domain like an avalanche. While some 10 years ago Japanese anime was somewhat of a subculture in the west, it quickly became mainstream, only to be followed by a torrent of TV sequels, adaptations, independent dramas etc., laying the groundwork for Asian TV culture towards its long-awaited seat among the other mainstream giants of what is now the worldwide entertainment industry.

South Korea contributed an entirely new dimension to the global hype, establishing a pop-culture movement called Korean Wave, which includes TV dramas/movies, K-Pop music, and fashion. All of the components of any world-spinning movement are in place.

So how exactly did this come to be? What are the ingredients for producing so many successful shows?

The Key Components of a Successful Asian Drama

It has been thoroughly established that, in terms of storyline, the foremost factor for any TV show to go mainstream, and enchant viewers, requires of the storyline to present us with at least one – if not a few or a lot – relatable character, around whom the world unfolds.

While this has been established some time ago in the western half of the globe, Asian countries have always had their own perspective on the world, granting them the remarkable quality of always twisting any established approach to the point where its discernable origins remain, but one cannot but notice the original Asian taste.

The Protagonist

Korean dramas, for one, have a few approaches to this type of character. They are either a shy person or the complete opposite. This foundation always bears the promise that the protagonist’s journey will lead them through a rollercoaster of social encounters and life situations, which will ultimately end / or arrive at the “soul mate station,” i.e., they will find their true love and thus have their place in the world.

The Japanese, on the other hand, often place their TV drama protagonists in a high-school setting, unfolding different personalities and worldviews, challenged by (ab)normal life situations. Ichi no rittoru no namida (One liter of tears) invites the viewers to follow the life of a 15-year-old “ordinary girl” in a new school. No later than the beginning of her journey to adapt to her new environment, she discovers she has spinocerebellar degeneration. Based on a true story, this show sends the subtle message – that simply being alive is reason enough for joy – but one much necessary to be reminded of, especially today, when the pressures of modern life can weigh down on almost anyone and cause them to forget the little joys of existence.

The Funnel of Love

Whether or not you’re inclined to agree, relationships make up a major part of the TV drama experience. For many, this works like a charm even if it disappoints. The emotional journey of a character figuring out their feelings for another has this “thrill of the ride” quality while retaining a light-hearted and to a large degree even innocent tone. This provides a certain quality to these shows – being of the world as we know and perceive it, yet still functioning like a fairy tale. And is love not the component of life, which makes or breaks a heart? Although, a lot of it is partly due to luck and timing, just like when gambling at online casinos over on

Enhancing Reality

In terms of structure, Asian TV dramas always raise the stakes on aesthetics. However, ordinary actors, especially in Korean shows, are exceptional when it comes to their looks. Fashion plays a big role here too. While subtly promoting a healthy perspective on self-care, it also contributes to enhancing the subtle “fairy tale” element, mentioned above.

Through the use of additional triggers – such as a consistent soundtrack – the viewing experience is strongly complemented by a solid sense of atmosphere. Opening and closing themes, short-bursts of sounds, enhancing emotion and/or even atmospheric sound waves flowing a scene of landscape imagery. Each show has their own signature style, and one experienced enough can guess the direction of the storyline simply from the genre of music in the opening sequence of a new show.

Cultural Proximity

It has been noted that Asian TV dramas inevitably promote the cultural proximity of Asian peoples. Those rooted in the fantasy domain often show discernable traits of shared mythology, others – dealing with contemporary life – function in such a way, so as to present their viewers with the fact that the joys and problems they are facing in their own lives are not that of an unknown to their neighbors, on the contrary.

Educational Quality

The aforementioned functions on another level, as well. For those non-native to the Eastern wing of our planet, it is simply astounding to be able to put yourself in the shoes of a protagonist and see their world both the way they see it and as a kind of a tourist. Landscapes, cuisine, fashion, and music, historical and cultural references all educate the western viewer, enriching their perspective on different cultures and their stories.

Apart from educating viewers on the cultural aspects of various nations and their histories, the popular craze, caused by music and TV dramas also contributes to stronger economies. TV shows may introduce viewers to new cuisine, promote certain products, and even inspire them to learn a new language and visit the places in which their beloved fictional characters shape their stories. Governments have taken note of this and are strongly capitalizing on it. So, if you are a fan of the scene, you can rest easy, knowing that there will be much more to come in the nearest future. On the other hand, if you are looking to contribute to the movement – hopefully, this overview of some of the key components of a successful TV drama may inspire you to use, contradict and in any case impress the audience with something new.