From Diaspora TV to Dramafever.com:
Consuming Korean Dramas in North America
Korean TV dramas first arrived on the soil of the United States in 1975 exclusively for Korean diaspora members (mostly first-generation) and students (Yuhaksaeng) in an entry-port city, Los Angeles, and began circulating through two Korean diasporas media outlets: Korean-language TV broadcasts and video rental stores in Korea Towns in major metropolitan cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta. This well-maintained, two-channel system has significantly decreased in the new millennium, as consumption patterns of Korean TV drama in the United States are rapidly transforming toward satellite TV services, video streaming websites, and online-based fan communities whose ethnic identity is not necessarily Korean. Myriad illegitimated web services and communities such as Bada.us (now bada.tv) and Monorich.com for Koreans and dramacrazy.net, viki.com, mysoju.com, and the Chinese website tudou.com for non-Korean speakers, have provided, shared, and disseminated Korean TV dramas, along with K-pop, to the mainstream users/viewers in the United States for the last several years. This study, as a consequence, aims to trace and historicize Korean TV dramas’ consumptions in the United States from the 1980s’ Korean diaspora TV channels and video rental stores to the first legitimate video-streaming website Dramafever.com. As a preliminary piece in a larger project, this innovative study aims to shed new light in the new field of the diaspora media industries in the United States in the age of social media.