TV viewers are raving about the pin-up boys in their late teens and early 20s that appear in the MBC TV drama "The Moon That Embraces the Sun." Industry insiders believe the young hunks have exactly what it takes to draw young female viewers, and an increasing number of soaps are casting them. Now the handsome young actors are playing a pivotal role in driving up the popularity of these dramas.
Last year's hit KBS TV drama "Sungkyunkwan Scandal" featured four young hunks in its cast, including boy band member Park Yu-chun and heartthrob Song Joong-ki. The result was soaring ratings for the program that catapulted the young actors to top-star status. The hit SBS drama "Deep-Rooted Tree" also cast four young pin-up boys who, together with its catchy storyline, succeeded in hooking young female viewers.
Industry sources say that TV drama producers are increasingly favoring young studs as lead characters due to their ability to magnetize young female viewers in their 20s and 30s, who use online communities and social networking sites to swap opinions, a trend that is affecting the ratings of certain shows.
"Young women like to post reviews of TV dramas using Twitter, Facebook and Kakao Talk and they tend to trust each other's assessments," said Song Jin-sun, a director at Pan Entertainment. "Drama producers have to pay attention to this trend."
Younger women in their teens to their 30s accounted for 10 to 15 percent of the total viewers of "The Moon That Embraces the Sun" and "Sunkyunkwan Scandal," similar to the number of women viewers in their 50s and above.
This contrasts with the traditional viewership pattern in which women in their 40s and above form the bulk of soap opera viewers. In the case of other TV dramas, females in their teens to their 30s accounted for less than five percent of total viewers.
Another reason for the growing trend of casting young hunks is the rising number of actors who can offer both dashing looks and performing talent, due to the systematic training programs talent management agencies offer.
"In the past, male pin-ups were just seen as eye candy on TV dramas, but we are now seeing more and more of them who have been training to become actors since they were children, and thus are capable of assuming lead roles despite their lack of experience," said a source at a talent management agency. "In turn, they also draw great attention from viewers with their polished acting skills."
This has resulted in a new trend of featuring four to five attractive young men with different personas in a single TV drama rather than focusing on a lead actor who possesses all of the characteristics. The idea is to offer women a range of different flavors to choose from rather than assuming that one size fits all, industry insiders say.