American Remakes of Popular Korean TV Shows

American Remakes of Popular Korean TV Shows - The Daebak Company

With the advances of technology and recent increase and popularity of online streaming services, it is now not only easy to binge-watch one’s favourite programs but also to watch shows wherever and whenever. Furthermore, our media selection is now not limited by geographical location. For many of us, growing up, we watched the movies and television shows produced and released in our country. Today, we have the option and opportunity to view entertainment from all over the world. Many of us at FeverGuys have discovered our interest in Korean culture through Korean entertainment, such as K-dramas. K-dramas continue to inspire not only us, but even the American entertainment industry, resulting in the remake of several of the most popular Korean shows in recent years. Here are a few to check out:

  • King of Mask Singer (미스터리 음악쇼 복면가왕) - The Masked Singer

Airing from 2015 to currently, the show is so successful that they even released a studio album with selections by some of the competitors. Singing competition shows have been all the rage everywhere, especially in the United States with hits such as American Idol and The Voice. Similar to the concept of The Voice’s blind auditions, the objective of King of Mask Singer is to remove any potential biased voting based on popularity, age, appearance, or career and have them them be judged by talent alone as contestants wear elaborate masks to hide their identity until they are eliminated. 

In the American adaptation, they take the concept to the next level by having celebrity contestants in head-to-toe costumes. The celebrity cast also includes host Nick Cannon, singer Nicole Scherzinger, singer-songwriter Robin Thicke, television personality Jenny McCarthy, and Korean-American comedian Ken Jeong, who appeared on the original show as a contestant before the remake’s debut as a way to pay respects. Ahead of the U.S. premiere, Korean celebrities, such as K-pop groups, Wanna One, BTS, and WINNER appeared in videos showing their support for the show, encouraging fans to watch. It is not surprising that King of Mask Singer is so beloved that it would become adapted for American audiences, considering even American celebrities have competed on the original, including not only Jeong but also actor Ryan Reynolds.

The second season of The Masked Singer will premiere fall 2019. 

  • God’s Gift: 14 Days (신의 선물 – 14일) - Somewhere Between

With one season of just sixteen episodes (a norm for K-dramas), God’s Gift: 14 Days is a mystery-thriller that tells the story of mother Kim Soo-hyun (Mother’s Lee Bo-young) whose daughter gets kidnapped and murdered. Miraculously, Soo-hyun is given “God’s gift” to go back in time just two weeks prior to the horrific event and prevent it from happening. 

The American adaptation follows a similar premise, but in this, mother Laura Price (Warcraft‘s Paula Patton) is given just a week while she assists the police to hunt down a serial killer. In both versions, the mother works alongside a cop-turned-PI whose significant other is murdered and his brother is convicted with the crime. However, the remake was canceled after the first season with only ten episodes. 

  • Good Doctor (굿 닥터) - The Good Doctor 

The award-winning Korean medical drama, Good Doctor focuses on Park Si-on (Yong-pal’s Joo Won), an autistic savant who, as a child, is discovered with both spatial skills and a genius-level memory. The show focuses on his life as he has entered into a career as a pediatric surgeon, facing conflict with peers who judge and struggle with his atypical condition. He is given six months to prove himself as the show consists of one season with twenty episodes. 

Actor Daniel Dae Kim (Lost and Hawaii Five-0) bought the rights for the show for his company and proposed his adaptation to his home network CBS who decided against even making a pilot. Kim bought back the rights from CBS and worked out a deal with Sony and House creator David Shore. Today, the show has reached a great success as its third season premieres September 2019 on ABC with its star Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel) receiving high praise for his performance as the young autistic surgeon with savant syndrome, Shaun Murphy. 

  • Grandpas Over Flowers (꽃보다 할배) - Better Late Than Never

The Korean travel-reality show, Grandpas Over Flowers (also known as Grandfathers Over Flowers or Halbae Over Flowers) began its series following four veteran actors—Park Geun-hyung, Shin Goo, Baek Il-seob, and Lee Soon-jae—as they backpack while traveling abroad with Lee Seo-jin (Marriage Contract), an actor in his forties. The series has defied the youth-centric entertainment industry of South Korea and has achieved great success, winning awards, influencing the sales for Korean airlines, with currently five seasons, spin-offs Sisters Over Flowers and Youth Over Flowers, and Chinese, Dutch, and American remakes. 

The American remake, Better Late Than Never follows cultural icons, actors William Shatner (Star Trek) and Henry Winkler (Happy Days), along with former professional athletes George Foreman and Terry Bradshaw, on a journey across the world as they live without luxuries while experiencing and learning from other cultures. Both their assistance and antagonist comes from “Jeff Dye, a strong young tech-savvy comedian with an agenda of his own - who isn't above leading the men off track.” In the first season, the five men traveled across Asia, including South Korea, where they met the K-pop icons, Girls’ Generation, and visited Seoul, Itaewon, the Korean Demilitarized Zone, Hwaseong Fortress, and Caribbean Bay. The show was canceled after two seasons. Nonetheless, it was the first time one of South Korea’s variety shows had been adapted for American audiences. 

  • YooHoo & Friends (유후와 친구들) - YooHoo & Friends

YooHoo & Friends is a successful children’s television series based on a toyline of the same name, following the adventures of YooHoo and his friends, animals who are sent to Earth accidentally. The friends “must find the missing magical seeds of the Tree of Life to get back to their home.” There are three seasons, and this year, YooHoo to the Rescue, a revival of the series, became Netflix’s first South-Korean children’s show. 

It was remade in America, premiered on Cartoon Network and altered to “better fit western television, including the story’s plot. The show became about “a group of humans who are turned into animals by Father Time.” Basically, the show was re-dubbed with a change of dialogue and an addition of four minutes of content to each episode, and Flavor Flav is Father Time. It ran for only one season. 

Which of these K-dramas or its American remake is your favourite? What K-drama do you hope to be remade next? Let us know in the comments below!

Cover Image: The Masked Singer (FOX)
Written by Tiffany Simms

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We Bring Korea to you!

Happiness delivered from Korea to your doorstep! Experience the best of Korean culture with Daebak Box!