In 2020, the broadcasting industry was struck hard by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic but soon found its new place. Rather, it became a “healing point” in the COVID-19 era, developing entertainment shows into the epicenter of a new trend. The trot craze expanded its territory even further and became a “trot frenzy,” and the “alternate characters” trend emerged. The variety shows dominated by the “traveling” concept have transformed into so-called “indoor” programs.
The Birth of “Alternate Characters”
Alternate characters have become an indispensable trend in entertainment shows. And the biggest contributor to this news trend is definitely MBC’s How Do You Play? With Yoo Jae Suk as the emcee and the hero, the show has created a number of alternative characters, such as Yoo San Sul, Chicken Yoo, Yoo Go Star, Yoo Farmer, Yoo RaSex (meaning he looks sexy when he cooks ramen). Yoo Jae Suk became a K-pop singer as a member of SSAK3 (Yoo-Dragon, Linda G, Bi-Ryong) as a summer project, and transformed himself into a record producer Jimmy Yoo for Refund Sisters (Manok, Chunok, Eunbi, Silbi) in fall.
This new craze has spread to other programs, and I Live Alone introduced a spin-off web entertainment show with Park Na Rae, Han Hye Jin and Hwasa. This trend also worked as a new opportunity for comedians. Kim Shin Young debuted as a trot singer Second Aunt Kim DaVi, while Shin Bong Sun released an album under the name of Capsaicin.
The Rapid Rise of “Indoor” Programs
In the aftermath of the pandemic, overseas and outdoor shooting became practically impossible, and the entertainment shows had to search for a new path. SBS’s Law of the Jungle switched its direction to exploration within Korea and tvN’s 4 Wheeled Restaurant changed its concept to delivery. JTBC’s Begin Again became a show that shows singers busking in Korea and recently conducted a new season under the concept of small-sized concerts. tvN’s Three Meals a Day filmed its latest season in an uninhabited island and House on Wheels also filmed in remote areas.
With more and more people staying indoors, shows that revolve around houses and interior, such as tvN’s The House Detox, MBC’s Where Is My Home and JTBC’s There Is No House in Seoul, drew attention.
From Trot Crazy to Trot Frenzy
This year, the trot craze has developed into the trot frenzy. All three terrestrial networks launched their own trot-related entertainment shows as well as cable channels. The last episode of TV Chosun’s Miss Trot, which is basically the start of the trot craze, garnered 35.7% ratings nationwide (based on Nielsen Korea). This craze only grew bigger with TV Chosun’s Mr. Trot, Call Center of Love and Mulberry School. Just recently, the network aired Miss Trot 2. If Miss Trot was the start of the craze, Na Hoon-A’s untact concert became the pinnacle. KBS’s Chuseok special “Republic of Korea Again: Na Hoon-A Concert,” recorded a jaw-dropping 29% viewer ratings.