I’ve Heard It Both Ways

Posted by Stephanie on October 24, 2017


Let’s discuss a very important issue. Size. Length? I’m talking Dramas people. Kdramas. Have you noticed something hinky going on in dramaland in regards to episode counts? When I first started watching dramas, the standard was 16 episodes. Every now and then you’d have a show reach to 18 or 24 episodes. But those were special cases. (This is, of course, overlooking weekend and daily dramas.) Then something happened and show counts rose steadily. (Show counts and in many cases, actual episode lengths — ahem — I’m looking at you Answer Me series.)

But lately, things have gotten crazy! We’re seeing shows that are upwards of 40 episodes. And the length is getting wonky too. Waeo half-hour episodes? What is going on in dramaland?

We were talking about it this weekend while watching one of these half-hour dramas. Why are shows getting chopped up? It was surmised that the episode may be chopped up on our side of the ocean. That the shows are showing properly in Korea, but when they are imported here, they are being cut and divided up into bits. Why? Was it due to the race to get out fast subs? Did it have something to do with the shakeup with the licensing because of the creation of Kocowa?

It made me want to get some answers, so I put on my researcher hat and went to the place where I get my usual answers…Wikipedia. Turns out, it’s not being broken up here, these shows are actually being broken up in Korea and shown in bits there. Why? Turns out it’s for trixie reasons.

There are rules in Korea regarding commercials during programming. Ie, there is not allowed to be any. This is why shows rely pretty heavily on product placement. (Hello, Subway…) However, by cutting up the shows they found a way around the rule. The networks play the shows for a half hour ‘end the episode’ show some commercials and ‘start the new episode’. We get our shows and they get more of that sweet, sweet cash. Win-win?

Well, it doesn’t bother me any.

The episodes are still, when you put the two together, still an hour in length, so it’s not that we’re missing anything. While the episode count themselves make watching a show seem a little daunting, the half-hour length ends up making the thing seem a little more palatable. “Oh, sure I can pick this show up, the episodes are only a half hour long.”

If this is the cost of doing drama business, then that’s fine. I do kind of wish this meant they didn’t have to push the product placement so hard, as watching episodes upon episodes of Subway visits, or discussions about how delicious a particular brand of coffee is can get old pretty quickly. This though? This is also something we’ve come accustomed to, so I guess we’ll deal.


  • Reply DBChen October 24, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    I like the half hour length. It means there’s a cliff hanger every half hour, moving the plot along, instead of every hour.

    Also, my attention span has shrunk and shorter episodes work for me.

  • Reply Rebekah Roberts October 25, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    I literally, almost sent this in as a question for the podcast. Thank you for clarifying!!!

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