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Korean TV Dramas Get Their Own U.S. Hulu-like Site

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Next month, a site called DramaFever will become the first to offer U.S. watchers a large library of Korean TV drama content in a legal and accessible format. Korean dramas are hugely popular in their home country and the rest of Asia, but on this side of the Pacific, would-be watchers can only see them on some premium cable channels, through bootleg DVDs bought in Chinatowns, and via P2P file-sharing.

“In the United States, you’d think with the growing Asian community there would be a distribution channel for this,” DramaFever co-founder Seung Bak told us today. “[But] none of the companies we’re dealing with has a way to distribute their content in the U.S. to a mainstream audience.”


DramaFever is a year-old angel-funded startup, but it has already been able to score deals with MBC and KBS, two of the three major Korean TV networks, for shows like Boys Over Flowers, Soulmate, Coffee Prince, My Lovely Sam Soon and Jewel in the Palace. At launch it will have 60-70 titles with 20-30 episodes each. All content will come with English subtitles and will be geoblocked so it can only be seen in the U.S. and Canada. Shows will arrive on the service a few days to a few weeks after they initially air in Asia. If all goes well, DramaFever will add shows from Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong/China.

DramaFever is pushing a free-to-subscription service (aka “freemium,” or try before you buy) that could well serve as an example for sites like Hulu. The site will offer a couple episodes of each show for free, ad-supported embeddable streaming, à la Hulu today, but will also offer full seasons of all its shows sans advertising for a fee of $5-$7 per month. Movies and concerts will cost an additional fee.

“The market that we’re addressing right now, a fair amount of people are already spending money to access this content,” said Bak. Even bootleg DVDs cost a dollar, he pointed out.

Bak said DramaFever was surprised to find that out of 35,000 private beta testers, 45 percent who answered a survey said they were Caucasian. Under 13 percent identified themselves as coming from a Korean background.

The U.S.-centric Hulu is itself adding international content, starting with British reality shows and Bollywood movies.

If you’d like to get into the DramaFever private beta today, enter the priority code “newteevee” when you register and the site will add you right away.

11 Responses to “Korean TV Dramas Get Their Own U.S. Hulu-like Site”

  1. Grandmacora

    have been member since my grandson got me watching historical dramas.. am hook and seen all the listed ones.. still enjoying the mini series Queen Sok Duk.

    This site DramaFever is the best ..

  2. Sean Kim

    Seems a bit slow and I’m online around US CST 12:30am….
    Provided that the speed is good and the content is current, I would even pay for a service like this.
    I would much rather pay for a service like this than pay Dish Network (which I currently have), which only offers KBS World and some other bs channels.
    Even if they were the same price, I would opt for the online service which gives me more content and not behind a month in programming like KBS World…provided it is like Hulu, current and pretty decent quality video, also the streaming speed.
    If this site ever catches up to hulu quality, SIGN ME UP…even if it was a pay site!

  3. Hi, I would agree with Petirrojo’s comment. I’d add Resurrection and Full House to his list recommendations.

    I’ve been watching these dramas and movies since my last commercial truck driving job and I’m also learning Korean at slow pace while also connecting with others on and just discovered that recently added Korean to their list of languages. Both are free sites with an account required. LiveMocha has added bonuses for a fee.

    When I watch a drama or movie, I rate it from an innocent child’s point-of-view to show how family friendly it is.

  4. Josephine

    I’ve been a part of the beta testing for a couple of months, and I’ve really enjoyed it. The site is well designed, and the videos are of good quality. However I would not pay to use the site unless it offered a lot more, simply because I don’t watch the shows often enough for it to be worth $60 a year. If they had more shows and offered movies as well, I would consider it. I don’t mind watching commercials, though, and as long as they keep that as a free option, I will continue to use and enjoy the site and recommend it to my friends.

  5. I’ve also been part of the beta test group for drama fever, and i love it so much! its an amazing site, but in all honestly, I won’t use it if I have to pay for it

  6. I’ve been part of the beta test group for for quite a few months now and not only am I delighted at being able to scratch my K-drama itch online (I’m one of those non-Korean caucasian addicts of the genre), but I’m delighted with the quality of programming available and the crisp, user-friendly interface. I have been touting it to all my friends who are tired of the same old/same old soap or telenovela stories. Newbies: try “Coffee Prince”, “Last Scandal”, “Que Sera Sera”, or “Time Between Dog and Wolf”!