Contemporary K-Cinema and K-Dramas: A Glimpse into Korean Society through Netflix Content


The Korean Wave, or Hallyu, which began in neighboring Asian countries in 1997, has expanded to become a global phenomenon in the 2020s. Korean cultural content, as witnessed through BTS (K-pop), Parasite (K-cinema), and Squid Game (K-drama), has come to dominate mainstream culture on the global stage. This is especially true with Korean dramas, which played a pioneering role in the birth of the Korean Wave, as well as in generating interest in Korean society and culture. In recent years, thanks to global OTT platforms like Netflix, Korean dramas have been distributed to every corner of the planet and have attracted a wide range of audiences across racial, national, gender, and age divides.

This book selected thirteen K-dramas for television and K-cinema films that have either become global hits thanks to the Korean Wave or are worthy of further exploration, and provides a wide-ranging look at the meanings and contexts of these works, as well as the reasons for their success and how they can be interpreted from different angles. In addition, this book examines the realities and specificities of Korean society and how those specificities are not just limited to Korea, but have become universal so that they now resonate with people around the world.

The works covered in this book were all released between the second half of 2021 and the second half of 2022: Squid Game, Hellbound, The Silent Sea, D.P., All of Us Are Dead, Juvenile Justice, Pachinko, and Extraordinary Attorney Woo (dramas) and Broker, The Outlaws series, Alienoid, Seoul Vibe, and 20th Century Girl (movies). We sincerely hope this book will help readers better understand each of these works and develop an interest in and passion for K-cinema and K-dramas.



“An Invitation to Contemporary K-Cinema and K-Dramas”

Squid Game and Hellbound
“Fairness, Reason, and Justice”

The Silent Sea
“A Justification for The Silent Sea”

“Cycles of Violence”

All of Us Are Dead
“Zombies, Hambies, and Social Failure”

Juvenile Justice
“When Justice Fails the Youth”

“A Story about Gravity”

“The Irony Continues”

The Roundup
“Korean-Style Franchise Movies Arise”

Alienoid Part 1
“Three-Dimensional Imagination”

Extraordinary Attorney Woo
“Fourteen Thoughts on the Drama Extraordinary Attorney Woo”

Seoul Vibe
“Seoul Vibe and 1988”

20th Century Girl
“Teenage Melodrama Still Lives”



Ahn Soong Beum

Ahn Soong Beum is a professor of Korean Language and Literature at Kyung Hee University, director of the K-culture · Story Contents Research Institute, film critic, and poet. He hosted EBS “Cinema Heaven” and served as a jury member of the Busan International Film Festival. He is the author of The Night of Disillusionment and the Dawn of Man.

136 pp.
LC# 2023944714
Softcover 12.7 x 20 cm
ISBN-13: 9781565915145
ISBN-10: 1565915143