Korean TV gets real

Korean TV gets real
A travelogue around Europe, Grandpas Over Flowers sees its cast (from left) Park Geun Hyeong, Shin Goo, Lee Seo Jin, Lee Soon Jae and Baek Il Seob backpacking in various cities.

KOREA - The leads are unusual, but South Korea's reality shows are gaining fans for their feel-good vibe First, it was pretty boys. Now, it is the grandfathers' turn.

Whereas once the South Korean pop culture wave swept away fans with the likes of idol dramas filled with pretty faces, such as the 2009 hit series Boys Over Flowers, it is now cresting on the strength of reality series featuring faces that are not necessarily pretty - or even young.

Grandpas Over Flowers is the perfect symbol of that evolution of the Hallyu, or K-pop wave.

For one thing, its title clearly references Boys Over Flowers and it replaces the pretty boys of that show such as Lee Min Ho with senior actors.

The other key thing is that it is not a scripted drama but a reality/variety series. In the show, the four senior actors, who commonly play father and grandfather roles in dramas, are sent on backpacking trips in Europe and Taiwan.

The runaway success in the region of variety game show Running Man has opened the doors for such non-scripted Korean shows to gain overseas followings.

Grandpas Over Flowers is so popular in Taiwan that when the cast and crew went there to film, they were greeted at the airport with fans carrying banners.

Where Are We Going, Dad?, which follows the adventures of celebrity dads and their young children, has been remade in China.

The Real Men, which chronicles the army training of celebrities, attracts higher ratings than Running Man in South Korea, and so it could be only a matter of time before it strikes gold overseas.

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