South Korean soap operas more popular than telenovelas in Cuba

World Today

Television soap operas from South Korea have found an unlikely audience among Cubans. Korean soaps, with their low-key mix of humor, drama and romance, now attract larger audiences than more traditional Latin American “telenovelas” from Brazil and Mexico. CCTV America’s Michael Voss reported this story from Havana.

South Korean soap operas more popular than telenovelas in Cuba

Television soap operas from South Korea have found an unlikely audience among Cubans. Korean soaps, with their low-key mix of humor, drama and romance, now attract larger audiences than more traditional Latin American "telenovelas" from Brazil and Mexico. CCTV America's Michael Voss reported this story from Havana.

The Marreros family love their television soaps, and like thousands of other Cubans, their favorite dramas all come from South Korea.

Despite the cultural differences and subtitles, the Korean programs have now overtaken the Mexican and Brazilian soaps as the most popular shows in Cuba.

“It is a different world with another culture. I like how they express their feelings, and the respect they show reach other,” Daniela Marrero said.

“The Mexican soaps are all the same, which are the same old family tragedies. These are more varied. Everyone is young. Some are action, and others are romance or history. They are all beautiful,” family member Ileana Marrero said.

Korean soaps are proving so popular that they are among the fastest selling DVDs on the island and compete with pirated Hollywood movies for the best-selling DVDs. Almost all of the privately run stalls in the country stock them.

In the South Korean capital Seoul, one of the country’s leading television directors told CCTV News his formula for success.

“I have two mottos when making soap operas. First, they should be entertaining. A drama which isn’t fun isn’t worth watching. Second, historical dramas should be educational. We learn from history not to repeat our mistakes,” soap director Lee Byung Hoon said.

The Korean Pavilion at the annual Havana International Trade Fair attracts hundreds of Cuban teenagers with previews of the latest soaps about to be released.