Until the 2010s, tvN was considered a non-mainstream “cable” channel—with its K-Dramas averaging far below 1% viewer ratings.
According to Producer Na Yeong Seok (also known as Na Young Suk), or “Na PD” from Korea’s most-loved varieties, there was a time when “no one watched tvN K-Dramas.”
Producer Na Yeong Seok: To be honest, “REPLY 1997” is… and I know this is such a long time ago for In Guk, but it became a legend at Channel tvN. It aired when no one watched tvN K-Dramas.
Park So Dam: Oh, really?
Producer Na: Really. The average viewer ratings were in the below 1% range back then.
Park So Dam: So you rewrote history!
In his YouTube series, Na then shared that all changed when singer-turned-actor Seo In Guk and girl group Apink‘s Jung Eunji came through in 2012.
The mega-hit series REPLY 1997 pushed tvN to become one of the most desirable channels for K-Dramas to air. It “rewrote history” for the channel…
…with the grand finale episode hitting a record-breaking 7.5% viewer rating at the time!
tvN’s ‘REPLY 1997’ Ends With 7.55% Viewer Ratings
| The highest peak at 9.47% during the grand finale
— Yonhap News
Following REPLY 1997, tvN invested in a string of hit K-Dramas. Alongside the REPLY sequels of 1994 and 1988, shows like Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, Mister Sunshine, and Crash Landing On You brought in countless viewers to the channel.
These Are tvN’s Top 12 K-Dramas Ever Released
While, at first, Na tried to talk the REPLY producers out of shooting the K-Drama, it became a game changer for the channel. Now, tvN continues to live its most glorious, “K-Drama Kingdom” times!
REPLY 1997 remains a memorable show for me, too, because when Producer Shin Won Ho told me that he wanted to make it, I tried talking him out of it. Multiple times. I sat him down and told him that he should stick to doing what he knows how to do. I was dead serious about changing his mind. I mean, he didn’t know a single thing about making K-Dramas. What if things went bust?
But once it aired, it became such a monumental piece of work for tvN.
— Na Yeong Seok
Watch the whole video here.