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Why do you think South Korean movies, such as "Squid Game" and Parasite," for example, are achieving greater success and recognition abroad than Japanese films?

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Because they’re better films.

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

Because they are made with a global audience in mind. Exactly the same with K-pop, whereas Japanese movies and music are created purely for domestic consumption.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

They are not mediocre. I can't recall any Japanese live-action movie that I loved so much that I remembered it. I will say that compared to Japanese films, Korean ones nowadays are made better, but the common movies from these countries are basically the same - slice of life with hints of drama for effect. But, Japan excels in animated media and I think Korea will have a hard time dethroning Japan in that aspect.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

A big element in K films is the type of biting social commentary and issues that Jpn film companies and producers are generally reluctant to address.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

It's not really like that Korean actors look handsome. Korean film productions are funded by the state, and that's a big factor for success as pointed out by many experts.

Other than money, there are wider collaborations between film makers and local authorities. For example, they are allowed to use public spaces for shooting by quick application processes (In Japan it may take awhile for approval while they need to handle the pile of papers & redtapes).

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Comparing Japanese films to Korean films such as Parasite is a big ask. That is an excellent film and very few nations have film industries which put out films of that quality very often. Even Korean films don’t live up to that hype very often. Japan has released some excellent films too, and as Toshihiro mentioned Japanese animation is also excellent. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

There are good Jdramas and poor Kdramas, but in general, the average Kdrama is simply much better than the average Jdrama (or, in my opinion, the average Western TV drama). They have worked hard to develop the format over the years and have absolutely nailed it, not just for domestic or Asian audiences, but globally.

Jdramas are often too didactic, too simplified and too slow. Plot developments are over emphasised, often by repetition, as if the production team believes the audience would otherwise be too slow-witted to follow the plot. It's not, so get on with it. Too many appear to be vehicles to illustrate moral values. That doesn't make for good drama.

Kdrama got a huge lift from fansubbed episodes on YouTube and DVD box sets with multiple subtitles. The subs were well done, and it offered a springboard of widespread popularity to get them on streaming services. You don't work in TV in the West without knowing someone who raves about Kdrama.

The use of Kpop stars acting in drama and OSTs with multiple songs by top stars also helped. Each aspect of the Korean wave reinforces the others.

It has always been much harder to access Jdrama on YT or DVD with decent English subtitles. Maybe Japanese publishers don't care about the global market or are more interested in cracking down on fansubbing as a copyright infringement. Japanese DVD box sets are ridiculously expensive. Western and Korean ones are priced much lower.

Movies are a bit different. People talk about 'Parasite' but 'Train to Busan' was a much bigger breakthrough movie. Awards folks are snooty and hate genre stuff. Many SK movies are good but still developing, learning from Kdrama. Japanese movies are much harder to get with English subs. Some of them are superb, subtle and beautiful. Others can be a bit long and take themselves too seriously. An international art house release offers kudos, so you can be more highly regarded as a serious film maker, but crossing the language barrier with a popular hit is tougher and opens up the market, with more 'bums on seats'.

Ghibli was the gold standard for Japanese movies, but the Disney deal was a double-edged sword. It took ages for them to release movies, with dubbed voices that were just wrong when you were watching Japanese characters. OK, that may have been needed for younger viewers, but it drove the rest of us nuts as we scavenged for obscure releases or Chinese knock-offs that had English subtitles, which is what we wanted. And then Ghibli just sort of vanished. Thankfully Makoto Shinkai took up the baton.

Arthouse pigeon-holing has been a real problem for Japanese movies abroad, with both popular ones ('Attack on Titan') and lesser known animes, such as the outstanding 'In this Corner of the World', struggling to get general release cinema time abroad.

The high percentage of anime in Japanese film and TV may hamper the development of live action releases. Obviously Japan does better anime, and may be happy just to focus on those.

In both cases, the Japanese industry is far more inward-looking. NetFlix may dig them out of their shells a bit, but there is a lot of insularity and resistance to change to overcome.

In some cases, SK licensed Japanese material and reimagined it, producing a more globally popular and merchantable product. The Kdrama 'City Hunter' is a good example, being originally a Japanese manga. The Japanese industry won't like the idea of learning from the Koreans, but if they want the cash and the audience, they need to. Something tells me the Japanese industry will be happy to continue producing material primarily from domestic consumption, plus lots and lots of animes.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Why do you think South Korean movies, such as "Squid Game" and Parasite," for example,

Rhetorical question?

What has been recognized worldwide by audiences and awards in both these works is their well-crafted critiques of Late Stage Capitalism, which is the biggest plague on humanity at the moment.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

They are better, and have a consistent tone. Japanese weekly dramas are stuck in a rut.

The writing follows two stories: Violent high school students, whose answer to problems is to be more violent. Or Single OL's who can't decide between the vain and selfish businessman, or the meek and timid one.

All replace actual dialogue with screaming, shouting and tearful moaning from multiple overacting characters at once and the tone is schizophrenic darting between shouting matches, tearful screaming and violence.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

The quality of writing and level of funding is on a different scale.

Also an understanding of the international market. Most Japanese domestic product is an epic turn-off.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

There are good things from both countries, but the Korean shows and movies have more elements to make them popular in the international market, somehow I get the impression that Japanese products are made thinking exclusively about the Japanese market, so only a segment of the public in other countries (people already interested in Japan) become interested in things even if they have equivalent quality.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The story is no better than some Japanese anime. The only reason they're popular is because of the rabid Koreaboos shoving them in everyone's face and spamming social media.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Why do you think South Korean movies, such as "Squid Game" and Parasite," for example, are achieving greater success and recognition abroad than Japanese films?

If the question is "specifically" about Squid Game and Parasite, me thinks its the falling-down-the-social-ladder subjects in these two which resound strongly amongst the current public whatever the country or culture. It's in the air, that capitalism has reached a level where any of us could fall and end up at the bottom of the social food-chain overnight. COVID or the war in Ukraine and the resulting cost of living/inflation crisis will make the situation only worse and make that fear only stronger.

As for things in general, I think one needs to look at the whole visual entertainment industry: movies, dramas and anime.

While there are great "classic" J-movies and directors and J-anime is hugely popular, I believe it is more "by accident" more than anything else. J-movies got top prizes at cinema festivals in the days. J-anime was never produced with a foreign audience in mind either and was only sporadically available in certain geographical zones where is was "so different" that it was very popular.

Today, J-anime has gone global mostly because it always "clicked" or had the potential to "click" with the audience and real-time global availability is here to stay.

On the other hand, J-movie, in my book at least, look less and less like movies and more and more like glorified "TV specials" shown on the silver screen. How many J-dramas had a "last chapter" or bonus "episode" coming out in the cinemas?

J-anime does not need to change as things happen in some "Japaneseque" fantasy (anime) world that seem to click with audiences abroad, but J-movies for once, are far too much grounded in "Japanese" culture and society and strictly geared towards a J-audience with some member of the audience abroad being curious and ready to see these movies and some...well, not.

As for J-dramas, back in the days, when cinemas were getting clobbered by the popularity of TV and big studios had their movie-staff move over to produce J-dramas which started to have a "movie" or "cinema"-look or feel. But when the bubble burst, sponsor money disappeared overnight and both movies and TV shows looked increasingly "cheap" as a second handicap.

A third problem being that somewhere along the line, J-drama and movie producers got themselves in bed with the idol-industry, churning out vehicles for idols who couldn't act if their lives depended on it, idols who are largely unknown abroad or at least outside of Asia.

Incidentally, I saw a piece on TV last year comparing the Korean, the Japanese and the Chinese movie/drama industries.

In Korea does the government provide incentives to foster local movies / dramas / anime as "soft power" and getting foreign audiences interested in Korea (the country). In China, investors are pouring huge amount of money for a, well, huge national audience while not really caring for (or needing) a foreign audience to make money. In Japan, well, no J-gov investment, on the contrary, the J-gov piggybacks on the success of some types of cultural exports (e.g. anime). But more than anything: no money, but again, one could argue: why putting more money in them if nobody is interested in our movies / dramas abroad?

Long story short: the Korean and Chinese industries are looking towards the future, the Japanese movie/drama industry seems to be just going in ever decreasing circles.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I don't know and I don't care.

While I enjoy a good film now and again, I don't watch many of them. It's a world of make-believe that too many people allow to excessively revolve around their lives.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

a) Japanese actors and actresses worry too much about the way they present themselves; they wanna look kawaii, cool, tough, serious, scary, nerds, etcetera; (which leads to: ) b) the acting: it is mediocre; c) the Japanese simply do not care about international audiences, the level (of mediocrity) of their dramas and films is enough to satisfy Japanese viewers, keep them entertained and make them buy the dvds and blurays. Japan (still) lives in its bubble ( the Japanese do not worry about the opinions of “outsiders” and social commentaries ).

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Because they are made with a global audience in mind. Exactly the same with K-pop, whereas Japanese movies and music are created purely for domestic consumption.

beat me to it

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

In the main Japanese tv dramas are very bland and predictable(most drama is compared to the us offerings). However, I did enjoy the naked director, a show which probably never would have been put on NHK.

When it comes to movies, Japan is making more of an impact, I love the fact they tell heartwarming simple stories, my personal favourite are films made by Koreeda, he makes the simple pleasures of life seem beautiful despite life’s hardships(our little sister, shoplifters). Drive my car was also a good movie, that was popular in Hollywood.

standards in Japanese tv do need to improve, having the same people on variety shows every night is not healthy for the industry, younger generations will eventually stop watching this type of generic unchallenging filler..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

a) Japanese actors and actresses worry too much about the way they present themselves; they wanna look kawaii, cool, tough, serious, scary, nerds, etcetera; (which leads to: ) b) the acting: it is mediocre; c) the Japanese simply do not care about international audiences, the level (of mediocrity) of their dramas and films is enough to satisfy Japanese viewers, keep them entertained and make them buy the dvds and blurays. Japan (still) lives in its bubble ( the Japanese do not worry about the opinions of “outsiders” and social commentaries ).

“ Why do you think South Korean movies, such as "Squid Game" and Parasite," for example, are achieving greater success and recognition abroad than Japanese films? “

You’ll notice that in my previous post I didn’t really answer the question; I focused on the Japanese; that’s because imo (if you exclude Parasite and a few others, generally speaking:) there’s not many differences between South Koreans and the Japanese; (the thing is that there’s a SK fever going on lately;)

I talked about this recently; it’s not about lack of originality; the Japanese have plenty of ideas,

it’s how you execute those ideas and how do you (or if you) wanna show it to the world; a good example of this is Alice in Borderland (Japan) and Squid Game (sk).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are many reasons bogging down Japanese films, but IMHO, the biggest reason is the industry's deep rooted claw that control who gets to do what, which resulted in very little innovations in its movie industry. For example, give chance to young talented screenwriter ? Nope, this middle age guy who has been with the company for 20 years gets the job, always!

But, on the other hand, with Cyberpunk - Edgerunners on Netflix, Japanese anime still top in the world. So, I'm glad that good things don't just come from a single country and that different countries' pop-culture make all our experience richer!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I’ll always remember that scene from Parasite where the rich woman talks about the smell of people that use public transportation. My mind just can’t let that one go. Disturbing… infuriating… heavy, deep… but… what a great movie Parasite is.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

(edited)

I’ll always remember that scene from Parasite where the rich woman talks about the smell of people that use public transportation. My mind just can’t let that one go. Disturbing… infuriating… heavy… deep… but… what a great movie Parasite is. Incomparable, imho.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Simple: content from South Korea tries to cater to an international audience. Content from Japan is usually focused on the domestic market.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

somehow I get the impression that Japanese products are made thinking exclusively about the Japanese market, so only a segment of the public in other countries (people already interested in Japan) become interested in things even if they have equivalent quality.

Then you are not aware of the actual trends in this field, since Japan's Netflix series Terrace House, for example, was not only followed by an international audience, it was also adapted for the US market by filming a season in the USA, and using American participants in the show.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japan's Netflix series Terrace House, for example, was not only followed by an international audience

The Naked Director was another good example of a series created with wider appeal beyond Japan. On the whole Japanese dramas just don't translate for a Western audience.

Can you imagine this sales pitch:

"I have a great drama that I think will be popular abroad - it's about a Japanese high school girl who develops the power to time travel"

Rest of world: "Yawn"

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

A lot has to do with global audience having very little knowledge of Korea, it's culture and lifestyles.

Those movies or Korean drama are something new to these audiences and all rush to view.

I can tell the storylines of the previous 1000 Korean and the new 1000 dramas and it's the same. For that reason, I stopped watching Korea movies and dramas.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Then you are not aware of the actual trends in this field

A trend of how many examples? one? that hardly proves most of the shows are not directed to the Japanese taste.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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