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MBC Show is example of Korean TV industry’s outward trend

These quirky but undeniably watchable new shows include the latest hit Korean singing show and a cooking competition involving bringing animated meals to life, plus impressively abstract formats that question the value of time and first impressions of strangers.

South Korean format producers taking part in this week’s digital MIPTV will be Zooming into the international television trade show from a position of uncommon strength.

Just as BTS and Bong Joon-ho have elevated K-pop and Korean cinema to the pinnacle of global pop culture in recent years, Korean format producers have been consistently punching above their weight in the international TV space.

“K-formats are riding high worldwide and have travelled to all corners of the globe recently,” says Jinho Lee, a manager at the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), a governmental agency that oversees and coordinates the promotion of the Korean screen content industry. Lee cites scripted hits like Korean Broadcasting System’s (KBS) The Good Doctor, which has run for four successful seasons on ABC, as one among many clear examples of the Korean TV industry’s outward trend.

But it is unscripted Korean formats, often inventively quirky, that have proved especially bankable in the global television and streaming landscape of late. The Masked Singer, created by Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) as King of Mask Singer in Korea, has become a smash hit on Fox, spawning the successful spinoff The Masked Dancer. Following those shows’ breakthrough success, Fox went back to the well again last for CJ Entertainment’s I Can See Your Voice, which premiered to healthy ratings in the fall.