The heroines of Korean history, who had been tipped to draw huge TV soap audiences this year, are struggling with present-day realities.
SBS drama "Princess Jamyeong" only draws about 10 percent ratings and KBS' "The Iron Empress" some 15 percent. One reason may be that they failed to win the hearts of middle-aged men, the bedrock of audiences for historical drama.
TNS Media Korea said "The Iron Empress" rated 12.5 percent among men and 11.4 percent among women in their 40s, and "Princess Jamyeong" 4 and 6.5 percent. Traditionally, men dominate audiences for historical epics about male figures. "The King Dae Joyoung" rated 19.3 percent among men in their 40s and 15.5 percent among percent women, and "King Sejong the Great" drew 14.5 and 11.3 percent.
But while the two disappointing dramas may be alienating core audiences by showing women in traditional men's roles on the battlefield, quality could be another problem. "Ladies of the Palace" depicted women caught up in the political intrigue of the palace and won ratings of over 50 percent in 2002, and successful epics such as "Tears of the Dragon" and "Emperor Wang Gun" magnificently captured the grandeur of war scenes as well as vividly depicting the detail of political tensions between the characters. Drama writer Yoo Jung-soo said, "It seems current epic dramas lack suspense and attention to details in general."