The Winter Sonata Phenomenon Observed in a Survey

From the Public Opinion Survey on the Korean TV Drama

December 2004

Korean drama “Winter Sonata” triggered a Korean drama boom, which has grown to be called a social phenomenon. To highlight the reality of the phenomenon, our team conducted an opinion poll in September, right after the end of the series on NHK General TV, targeting general audience including silent “Winter Sonata” viewers who do not actively purchase related product, write up, or post messages on the website.

90 % of the respondents know the drama was aired in Japan, and 38 % of them have watched it. As information sources that made them know of the program or related information that they have seen or heard, many people named NHK's promotion programs, commercial TV stations, word of mouth from friends, and broadcasts on NHK. Many of them also named weekly magazines, newspapers, or word of mouth from family, while fewer people named the Internet.

As for a question for those who have seen the program: What is the appeal of the program, “story,” “music,” and “actor” made up the top three. Regarding behaviors related to the program, the highest number of the viewers “talked to friends or family on the drama.” To a question about contact with Korean culture triggered by “Winter Sonata,” many named dramas and movies. Also, “The drama changed the image of Korea, ” “I became more interested in Korea,” “My recognition of Korean culture has changed,” and other Korea-related items are high up on the list of attitude changes caused by watching “Winter Sonata.” We also asked all respondents, regardless of whether they have seen the drama or not, on the “Winter Sonata Phenomenon,” the highest number of them think “Regardless of the catalyst, increase in interest in Korea is a good thing.”

The most contributing factor of the prevalence of this drama is probably the fact that many people could access to the information sent out via television, including commercial stations and print media, and have further spread the information among friends and acquaintances. It can be said that enhancing Japanese people's interest in Korean drama and culture, eventually in Korea itself, is the most notable accomplishment of this drama.

Keiko MITSUYA, NHK BCRI Public Opinion Reserch
The NHK Monthly Report on Broadcast Research