Wait for the light to change on a busy Seoul sidewalk and, as in any city, you’ll notice commuters checking their phones. For some this quick check monitors more than messages. It’s a chance to watch a web drama, with webisodes from two to 15 minutes; just long enough for a light to change or a short commute.
“Web shows are a growing form of media in Korea due to the increase of viewers seeking entertainment available on their smartphones,” said Melodie Everson, foreign relations coordinator for the Seoul Webfest, which for the past few years has invited international web series producers to Korea. “These bite-sized dramas can be watched on the go and are perfect for the subway commuter culture.”
Since web series first emerged in the 1990s, the short format has offered aspiring actors and filmmakers a chance to break into the industry, creating footage that’s available for anyone with an Internet connection
“It’s very hard to get into the conventional film industry, especially new or upcoming young actors and filmmakers (creators), it’s almost impossible, because they’re working under big pressure with a big budget,” said Young Man Kang, founder and executive producer of Seoul Webfest, as well as an award-winning director of five feature films, three web series and a documentary. “There’s no freedom. It’s a top-down system. Web series are breaking down the top-down conventional system with a bottom-up approach.”