Why are conglomerates so central to K-drama plots?

The TQ Group headquarters in The Good Manager

You’ve probably noticed that the stories in K-dramas often revolve around the world of conglomerates. From family dramas to romantic comedies, conglomerates are a common theme in Korean entertainment. But why is that?

To understand the prevalence of conglomerates in K-dramas, it’s important to understand their role in Korean society. Conglomerates, or “chaebols,” are large corporations that dominate many industries in South Korea, from electronics to automotive to beauty and fashion. These corporations often have a long history in Korea and are often family-owned.

Conglomerates have played a significant role in Korea’s economic growth and development, creating jobs and driving innovation. However, their immense power and influence have also sparked controversy and criticism. Some critics argue that chaebols have too much control over the economy, stifling competition and innovation. Others point to issues with corruption and unfair business practices.

In K-dramas, the world of conglomerates is often used as a backdrop for storytelling. For example, in The Good Manager, the TQ Group is a major chaebol that is central to the plot.

The TQ Group is headed by the ruthless CEO, Kang Do-chul, who will stop at nothing to achieve success for his company, but the story follows Kim Sung-ryong, a bumbling accountant who is hired by the TQ Group to help with a financial scandal. As Sung-ryong becomes more involved with the company, he discovers the dark secrets behind the TQ Group’s success and decides to take matters into his own hands. The TQ Group represents the power and influence of chaebols in Korean society, and the drama explores the themes of corruption and greed that can sometimes come with that power.

Another popular K-drama that features a conglomerate is Crash Landing on You. The show follows the romance between a South Korean heiress and a North Korean army officer, with the backdrop of the heiress’s family business, “Queen’s Group.” The show explores themes of loyalty, family, and love, all set against the backdrop of the wealthy and powerful Queen’s Group.

One common plot device in K-dramas involving conglomerates is the controversy over leadership succession. In many family-owned conglomerates, the question of who will take over the company after the current CEO steps down can be a source of tension and conflict. This is often complicated by the fact that the successor is often chosen from within the family, leading to power struggles, jealousy, and betrayal.

The popular drama Heirs is an example of this theme. The show revolves around a group of wealthy high school students, many of whom are heirs to large conglomerates. The plot centers around the question of who will inherit the leadership of these companies, with the characters fighting for their place in the family business and for the attention of their parents.

Conglomerates play a significant role in Korean society, and this is reflected in the prevalence of these corporations in K-dramas. From exploring themes of family, loyalty, and power to providing a backdrop for romance and drama, the world of conglomerates has become a staple of Korean entertainment. So the next time you tune in to a K-drama, keep an eye out for the role of the chaebol – it may just be the key to understanding the story.