YouTube played an essential role in popularizing Korean media—providing a platform for content that ranges from k-pop reaction videos to k-drama review blogs to the latest k-media news. As interest has grown, so has the amount of k-content. Between 2018 and 2019, the hours of content uploaded from YouTube channels in Korea increased by over 50% and more growth is expected.
According to Tu Nguyen, communications manager for YouTube, Asia Pacific, the platform is a leading k-content creator in Korea and the company has invested in several original productions such as Big Bang Boy Scout, BTS: Burn The Stage, Burn The Stage: The Movie; Kwon Ji Yong Act III: Motte; Jay Park: Chosen1; TWICE: Seize the Light, as well as a scripted show Top Management. More original productions are in the works.
“Our ecosystem is robust and diverse, consisting of creators, artists, media partners, broadcasters, music labels, etc who leverage YouTube’s global audiences and reach to promote Korean artistry and creativity to the world,” said Nguyen.
K-media fans may already visit the platform to hear music, watch news and previews, but Nguyen suggests some more fun content for fans to discover. For some content, it helps to brush up on your Korean, but plenty is subtitled for an international audience. Here are a few k-channels to explore.
Korea Grandma is a 70-year-old grandma who started on YouTube with her granddaughter as a way to fight dementia and now has amassed over 1.3 million subscribers thanks to her fun and engaging content.
Paik Cuisine features celebrity chef Paik Jong-won preparing fun and classic Korean dishes.
K-Heritage.TV offers videos that explore Korea’s cultural heritage. The series takes viewers from the shimmering lights of Seoul’s modern skyline to the intricate palaces built during the Joseon era.
Pengsoo: Pengsoo is penguin character that appears on Giant Peng TV, run by Korea’s Educational Broadcasting System (EBS). Pengsoo is a ten-year-old trainee at EBS who dreams of being a universal superstar. In the process he meets some real celebrities. Watch his hilarious interactions with Yo Ah-in and Park Shin-hye, stars of the zombie film #ALIVE.
YouTube also uploads the content of Korean broadcasting channels, including SBS World, which offers full length dramas in Europe, Legendary Drama, owned and operated by MBC, and KBS Archive, owned and operated by KBS. There are also k-dramas produced by next-generation media companies, such as KOK TV’s Best Mistake, Playlist’s Eighteen, and CJ ENM’s Diggle, which mixes different drama characters to create a new story.
Korean Classic Films offers full length Korean classic movies with English subtitles and is operated by Korean Film Archive.
Most of the newer YouTube Originals are ad-supported so users around the world can access them without a premium subscription. They’re released periodically whereas YouTube Premium users can binge most shows at launch.