CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – From BTS to “Squid Game”, Korean entertainment media has grabbed the world’s attention, and West Texas A&M University said that three of its Department of Communication professors are avid viewers and researchers all at once.

Assistant Professor Dr. Min Wha Han, Professor Dr. Emily Kinsky, and Department Head of Communication Studies Dr. Kristina Drumheller recently presented research into South Korean entertainment options, said the university.

A focus of the research, according to the university, is analyzing the popularity of South Korean entertainment options, as well as Korean dramas and how they incorporate positive social messaging.

“I think that our research is important because we focus on the two most prominent cultural characteristics that define this era—globalization and digitalization. Due to globalization and digitalization, the world is shrinking, allowing various forms of cross-border cultural mixing,” Han said, “I believe that the success of K-dramas can be placed at the center of this phenomena. Yet, studies of the Korean Wave in Western academia are only now emerging. I hope our work contributes to this void and need.”

Meanwhile, noted the university, Kinsky developed an interest in Korean dramas by accident.

“I came across a K-drama on Netflix in 2019 and enjoyed the storyline and repeated message of forgiveness and reconciliation in that series,” Kinsky said. “Netflix, of course, suggested other series to me, and I started noticing how product placement was being handled within the dramas. The way brands were presented within the storylines stood out to me, and the way prosocial messages were incorporated made me curious to learn more.”

Prosocial messages are methods of communication that emphasize behavior meant to benefit others, described the university, such as reminders to wear seatbelts or to be kind to one another.

The researchers, said the university, focused their studies on product placement and social responsibility messaging within the top K-dramas viewed worldwide on Netflix in 2020. Initial results from these research efforts were presented in two different sessions at the annual Broadcast Education Association: a research symposium on streaming services like Netflix, and a session about international broadcasting.

The university said that the group of researchers was also invited to write a book chapter related to the presentation and their plans to continue research into the topic. According to Drumheller, they are interested to know more about how product placement is used to help tell stories about characters and relationships.