Netflix just wrapped up on “Vagabond,” its latest joint project with Korean networks, and fans are hungry for more! Partially due to the intense plot and charismatic cast but mostly because the series ends on a major cliffhanger. It’s been over two months now, and while the crew is up to return, neither Netflix nor SBS has confirmed anything. While I haven’t seen it, I’ve read the ending and I completely understand the cries for a season 2. This leads to an interesting thought, though: Will multi-season K-dramas become more common? Should they even be more common?
Of course, there have been numerous dramas with additional seasons, but typically they feel more like anthologies than a straight-up season 2. “Let’s Eat” has had three successful seasons following the eating exploits of Goo Dae-young, played by Yoon Doo-joon. The Reply series and “I Need Romance” borrow framing devices from past series but feature mostly new characters.
However, there are the occasional sequels that continue the story of the original characters. “God’s Quiz” has had series that end with cliffhangers, most notably series 3 which ended with the main character in a coma. We also have the recently released movie “Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos.” “Bad Guys” already has a season 2 with a new cast, whereas the movie follows two of the characters of the first season. I’m not complaining about this because I need to know how my boys, Jung Moon and Tae Soo, are doing.
With that said, things have changed in Hallyu these past five years. Netflix has been streaming K-dramas for well over a decade now. Once more free streaming sites went online, more people started watching. I myself stumbled upon my first drama on Hulu in 2012, a year that saw a large spike in new Hallyu fans. Now that foreign shows and movies are more accessible and common, Netflix has a possible gold rush in their laps.
As a fan of Asian dramas, I feel torn at the prospect of more multi-season dramas. I love how different it is from Western shows. The unique storytelling and perspective, the depth of character development, they quirky plotlines that can pull on my heartstrings. I love it all. While I love the idea of expanding stories, there are always concerns. In the mad rush to become more popular, I’d hate for K-dramas to lose their own special magic.
I also love that they’re often one season. I’ve had beloved shows canceled too soon, and a story told over a single season is comforting. Even if it ends poorly, it’s not years of my life gone, only a few months. What if the second season isn’t as good as the first? What if we end season 1 on a cliffhanger only for season 2 to never happen? Constantly, we see series with great promise get tragically canceled.
Nonetheless, I’m curious to see how this ends and what more awaits the future of K-dramas.