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Surging success: The rise of “Queen of Tears” and the Hallyu power duo

Surging success: The rise of “Queen of Tears” and the Hallyu power duo

The tvN weekend drama “Queen of Tears” is gaining tremendous momentum. It is pulling in viewership ratings at a faster pace than “Crash Landing on You,” which holds the record for the highest ratings in tvN history (21.7% according to Nielsen Korea). Surpassing this milestone, it is setting new records for the broadcasting station well in advance. As domestic and international interest continues to soar, it is edging closer to the ranks of sensation and popularity.

Kim Soo-hyun and Kim Ji-won’s ‘Hallyu Power’

The drama tells the story of Hong Hae-in, the third-generation heir of the Queens Group conglomerate and the CEO of a department store, played by Kim Ji-won, and Baek Hyun-woo, a lawyer raised in a rural village, played by Kim Soo-hyun, as they overcome divorce and rediscover love. As the story progresses, their initially troubled relationship faces opposition from M&A specialist Park Sung-hoon, who seeks to swallow up the Queens Group, leading to a strengthening bond between the couple.

Portraying the tumultuous romance between a chaebol heiress and an ordinary man with finesse, the drama recorded a remarkable 19% viewership rating for its 10th episode. Despite still having six episodes remaining, it has already climbed to the third-highest viewership rating in tvN history, following “Crash Landing on You” and “Goblin” (20.5%). Compared to the 10th episode of “Crash Landing on You” (14.6%), it has shown a more rapid increase, with a 4.4% higher rating.

Since its debut on March 9th, it has consistently topped Netflix’s “Global Top 10” for five consecutive weeks as the highest non-English TV show. The combination of Kim Soo-hyun and Kim Ji-won, established as Hallyu stars, is considered a driving force behind its impact. In Japan, it has maintained a prominent position in the Netflix TV show category, earning recognition as a key player in the “5th Wave of Hallyu.”

Major entertainment media outlets such as Oricon, Real Sound, and Spo.JP have praised the performances of Kim Soo-hyun and Kim Ji-won, stating that “the collaboration of these two top stars is excellent.” Even on Japan’s largest review site, Philmarks, reviews such as “Started watching because of Kim Soo-hyun and Kim Ji-won, and it’s amazing as expected” have contributed to its high rating of 4.4 out of 5.

● Differentiation through the Chaebol Theme

The drama attracted attention from the early stages both domestically and internationally by subverting the traditional romance formula. Scenes like Kim Soo-hyun’s character entering the chaebol family and participating in the ancestral rites of the Queens Group are notable. The prominent U.S. media outlet, TIME, praised it, saying, “While refreshing the content of K-dramas, it still maintains the charm of ‘K-romance.'”

Regarding this, drama critic Gong Hee-jung commented on the 11th, “They managed to make clichés enjoyable and not boring by appropriately using reversals and comedic charm.”

Supporting characters such as Kwak Dong-yeon as Kim Ji-won’s younger brother, Kim Jung-nan as Kim Ji-won’s aunt, and Hwang Young-hee as Kim Soo-hyun’s mother enriched the family narrative, eliciting empathy from a wide range of viewers. There’s also a perspective that Kim Soo-hyun’s decision to lower his appearance fee to 300 million won per episode, compared to his previous work “One Ordinary Day” on Coupang Play, allowed for the gathering of veteran actors.

Cultural critic Kim Heon-sik commented, “The casting of ‘premium supporting actors’ led the success,” adding, “Their outstanding performances and ensemble effectively maximize the charm of each character, enhancing the advantages of the mixed-genre of melodrama and revenge drama.”

Watch “Queen of Tears”s teaser here!

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Author Nat.O
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