Popularity of 'Aftermath' proves web-dramas are a successful new genre
The age of watching Korean dramas through traditional media sources is disappearing as more and more people view them without even turning on the TV. Instead, viewers are logging onto the internet to watch "web-dramas," shows that only air on the web. Aftermath, which is based on the Korean web-toon of the same title, led the web-dramas of 2014 with great success in Korea, and its popularity is now growing in the U.S. through DramaFever, proving that the new format isn't going anywhere.
However, this genre does come with its own naysayers who are not fans of the new format. Some fans ask incredulously, "There are dramas that we can’t find on TV?" If a drama is referred to as a web-drama or an SNS drama it means that people can watch them online only. This is different from VOD services that provide dramas online after the drama airs on TV.
The web-drama Aftermath, which released its first season on January 6th, drew a lot of people’s interests. Only four days after the drama was released, the views were over a million, and they were over two million within nine days. During its first episode, it received a higher number of clicks than any other web-drama in Korea.
In an interview with Jun Eun Ki, who represents Oasis Pictures, the creators of Aftermath, she said that the following are the reasons for the popularity web-dramas:
*A running time of one episode within 10 minutes at the most.
*People can enjoy it wherever and whenever through web or mobile.
* It is freer to choose its subject than public TV networks.
* Anyone can enjoy it easily because it’s free.
Aftermath was a hit among the young generation in Korea, and it came to an end with season 2. In the Korean market, the public was unfamiliar with web-dramas. They are similar to a drama that we can watch through TV, and also similar to a movie that we can watch in a theater, but web-dramas are distinctly different. Their subjects and their way to reach to public are different. This is new content that comes to the public in a variety of ways. Aftermath’s episodes have a short running time of about 10 minutes per each episode, and anyone can enjoy them through Naver (Korean popular portal site) TV Cast and the Naver app for free.
A supernatural crime drama based on the popular Naver Web-toon, Aftermath is a thrilling story of murder, mystery and love. Ahn Dae Yong (Dong Jun) is a quiet high school student who suddenly develops the super power to predict who is a murderer and who is about to die. Those who appear to have red eyes are destined to die soon, while those with blue eyes are about to commit murder. Ahn Dae Yong decides to use this power to save lives and becomes an unexpected hero for the people.
It’s hard to deal with this kind of fantasy in TV dramas, but web-dramas are imposed by a relatively weaker restriction on their selection of subject matter. A web-drama’s strong point is that it can use various subjects so productions can set up their target clearly.
There have recently been many movies based on web-toons, but Jun chose a web-drama format to demonstrate their potential popularity. One reason that many web-toons can’t be remade into a drama is because it’s not easy for a drama’s format to include a web-toon’s charm within the drama’s length requirements or shooting methods. The representative Jun emphasized that the drama wasn't made for online only. She wants to test a web-drama's popularity online first. If its popularity is proved, then it can be remade into a TV drama in the future.
Oasis Pictures bought Aftermath’s license last summer and started to shoot the drama in October of 2013 after working on scripts for two months. It took one month to shoot it, and then it took two months for post-production. The production system was similar to film production, and Oasis Pictures debated the number of episodes in June 2013. The drama originally had 8 episodes, 15 minutes per episode. Naver suggested making it shorter than 10 minutes per episode, and the production company accepted it. Because it is the story of a high school student, and people would most likely enjoy it through Web or mobile devices, it should be short.
Another of Aftermath’s unique features was that each season’s episodes were released all at once. Episodes of TV dramas are generally released one by one, but Aftermath released all of one season’s episodes at a time. Jun said, “American and Japanese dramas are often released one season at a time, and it helps viewers enjoy the dramas without waiting. This is a good tactic for content to reach viewers."
The fantasy genre of Aftermath also contributed to it getting positive responses from Korean viewers. At first, this drama was popular with younger generation like those in their teens and 20’s who have more access to smart devices.
Aftermath will likely be remade into a full miniseries in the future. Aftermath’s popularity was proved through its web-drama so the production company is in talks with American and Chinese companies about its license. The representative said, “I hope that the web-drama production environment gets better. I want to make more works that have smaller sizes and unique features designed for social media.
I like K-dramas that have unique stories, so I'm excited to watch Aftermath on DramaFever with my smartphone. I might watch it while I am in a bus or waiting for my friends. Only about 10 minutes are needed to finish one episode. Movies have to show more details in the setting and costumes so they aren't suitable for mobile devices, but dramas concentrate more on the story so it's easy to enjoy them on mobile devices. Drama trends are changing and developing with cutting-edge technologies, and I'm grateful for the people who make it possible. I didn't expect that I would be able to see a new K-drama trend in America so soon!