From Seoul to Lagos: The Impact of K-Drama in Nigeria

From Seoul to Lagos: The Impact of K-Drama in Nigeria

The popularity of Korean cinema, also known as “Hallyuwood,”  has gained widespread global recognition lately.  Its popularity has been steadily growing since the late 1990s and early 2000s thanks partly to the ‘Netflix effect’ and the creation of films like “Oldboy,” and “Train to Busan,” showcasing Korean filmmakers’ exceptional talent and earning at prestigious international filmmaking. It has become rather impossible to deny the impact of K-Drama in Nigeria.

Beyond cinematic success,  Korean popular culture has become part of the global phenomenon known as the “Korean Wave ” or “Hallyu,”  captivating a new following worldwide. This cultural influence has also touched Nigeria, sparking interest and curiosity about South Korean culture, driven by the popularity of Korean dramas (K-dramas) and K-pop music.

The ambience of K-dramas lies in their compelling narratives, relatable characters, and distinct cultural perspectives, resonating with audiences in Nigeria and beyond. This has led to a strong demand for Korean content,  Korean television shows, K-pop music and beauty products in Nigeria. With the increasing global demand for Korean cultural products, Korean films and dramas distribution has expanded its reach to include Nigerian audiences. Both traditional cinema releases and digital streaming platforms have made these cultural exports easily accessible, allowing Nigerian viewers to directly experience Korean storytelling, themes, and cinematic styles.

The song “Gangnam Style” by PSY, a South Korean pop sensation released in 2012, also gained remarkable global recognition. Its influence extended beyond borders, making a significant impact on various countries, including Nigeria. The song’s widespread popularity was evident in its viral success, becoming the first YouTube video to surpass one billion views. Its catchy tune, quirky dance moves, and entertaining music video resonated with people from diverse cultures and languages, breaking international barriers. This unprecedented success introduced many to Korean pop culture and ignited a growing interest in South Korean music, dance, and entertainment in Nigeria.

The Impact of K-Drama in Nigeria: Influence on Nollywood Culture:

The cultural exchange of media and culture has fostered a deeper understanding between South Korea and Nigeria. Korean cinema and television have provided Nigerian audiences with insights into South Korea’s values, traditions, and societal norms. Similarly, South Koreans have had glimpses into Nigerian culture by exploring Nigerian films and television programs, albeit to a lesser extent.

The impact of K-Drama in Nigeria marked by innovative storytelling and artistic achievements has also inspired Nigerian filmmakers to experiment with new approaches to artistic filmmaking and storytelling, contributing to the enrichment of the Nigerian film industry through films such as Kunle Afolayan’s Aníkúlápó, King of Thieves, Brotherhood, Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys, Shanty Town etc.

As the “Korean Wave” continues to ripple worldwide, its influence in Nigeria and beyond is expected to endure and evolve. Among the foreign films captivating Nigerian audiences, Korean films or K-series currently hold the top spot. Surpassing the popularity of Bollywood’s heart-wrenching love stories, K-dramas have carved a niche in the Nigerian movie market with their unique blend of modern and traditional creativity.


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The Pattern of Emotions and Characters:

K-dramas distinguish themselves by authentically portraying emotions, to express the complexities of love, sacrifice, heartbreak, and self-discovery. This emotional depth addresses a craving among Nigerian audiences, as local romantic dramas often focus on more superficial aspects of love.

A strong case for K-drama by Nigerian viewers is the portrayal of strong, independent female characters. Unlike the traditional damsel in distress narrative, K-dramas often depict women as successful and self-reliant, further adding to their appeal amongst Nigerian audiences.

Additionally, the depiction of romance as a slow burn in K-dramas has resonated with Nigerians. Unlike the fast-paced, superficial portrayal of romance in Nigerian media, K-dramas emphasise characters taking their time to develop a deep emotional connection before expressing their feelings, further captivating the hearts of Nigerian viewers.

Serial Introduction of Korean Fashion, Music and Cuisine to Nigerian

The impact of K-Drama in Nigeria is also felt in the diverse cultural elements such as  Korean fashion, music, and cuisine. This cultural exchange has sparked fresh interest in Korean culture, forming K-drama fan clubs on platforms like Whatsapp, where Nigerians share the latest series and engage in discussions about their favourite K-drama shows, characters, and moments. For many Nigerians, K-dramas serve as an escape from the drudgery of life and its challenges. The captivating food, fashion, and overall aesthetics of the characters and settings are a therapeutic outlet for many.

K-dramas have significantly influenced Nigerian society, particularly in shaping perspectives on romance and gender roles. These dramas have initiated new conversations and possibilities within Nigerian media and culture. As the popularity of K-dramas continues to grow in Nigeria, it has become important to highlight the major differences between Hallyuwood and Nollywood and observe their ongoing impact on shaping and reshaping societies.

Major Differences Between Hallyuwood And Nollywood:

The Korean film industry and Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry, differ in various aspects, including production styles, global recognition, cultural impact, and thematic content.

  1. Global Recognition:

Korean Film Industry: Films such as  “Parasite” have won prestigious international awards, contributing to the industry’s esteem.

Nollywood: Nollywood is the third-largest film industry globally in terms of output but has historically faced challenges in achieving widespread international recognition. However, it has a domino influence within the African continent.

  1. Production Quality and Techniques:

The Korean Film Industry is known for its high production values, innovative storytelling, and advanced cinematic techniques. Korean films often blend traditional cultural elements with modern storytelling.

Nollywood: Historically associated with lower production budgets, Nollywood has been criticised for its sometimes lower production quality. However, there have been efforts to enhance production values and storytelling techniques in recent years.

  1. Cultural Impact:

Korean Film Industry: The “Korean Wave” has significantly impacted global popular culture, extending beyond cinema to K-dramas, K-pop, and fashion. Korean entertainment has influenced trends and preferences worldwide.

Nollywood: Nollywood has played a crucial role in portraying and preserving Nigerian culture through films like ‘’Omugwo’’ shot in 2017 by Kunle Afolayan, A film that takes a close look at the relationship between two different cultures in Nigeria (Igbo and Yoruba). Another is ‘’76’’, a film focused on the events of 1976 when Nigeria, particularly the south-east, was just recovering from the horror of the Civil War. Nollyowwd’s influence is substantial within Africa, contributing to a shared cultural experience among diverse African communities.

  1. Market Size and Output:

Korean Film Industry: Whilst not as prolific as Hollywood, the Korean film industry produces a considerable number of films annually. It has a substantial domestic market and a growing international audience. In 2022, there was a total number of 817 movies produced in South Korea.[1]

Nollywood: Renowned for its prolific output, Nollywood produces many films annually, catering to a predominantly African audience. However, it has been working on expanding its international reach.

  1. Themes and Storytelling:

Korean Film Industry: Known for diverse storytelling, often combining traditional cultural elements with modern genres. Korean films explore a wide range of themes, from historical dramas to contemporary issues.

Nollywood: Nollywood films often focus on societal issues, family dynamics, and moral lessons. While genres vary, themes often revolve around everyday life, relationships, and cultural practices.

Value of the Korean vis-a-vis Nollywood Movie Industry

The global ascent of Korean dramas has been remarkable, solidifying its status as a major force in entertainment over the last four years. Through captivating storytelling techniques, their creators have successfully drawn in audiences both domestically and internationally. While South Korean culture has long been recognised globally, recent years have seen a surge in its popularity across various mediums, including music (K-Pop) and cinema, propelling K-dramas into the spotlight on a global scale, even reaching Hollywood. The widespread acclaim of the Netflix series “Squid Game” in 2021 exemplifies this trend, as its gripping storyline resonated strongly with Western audiences, further expanding the reach of K-dramas. In 2022, the most-watched series on Netflix Nigeria is “Alchemy of Souls”, a Korean drama that has spent more than 6 months on the top 10 charts. Aside from these metrics, the top 5 rankings are dominated by series from Korea.[2]

From Seoul to Lagos: The Impact of K-Drama in Nigeria

From Seoul to Lagos: The Impact of K-Drama in Nigeria



The film industry in Korea has grown into one of the world’s most active markets through the development of cinemas and the popularity of movie-going culture. According to the Korea Film Council, in 2019 before the pandemic, the Korean film market was estimated to be $2.2 billion reporting over 226 million moviegoers, surpassing the 200 million mark for the eighth year in a row. Overall, in 2019 South Korean consumers watched an average of about 4.37 films per capita, one of the highest numbers in the world compared to the U.S. average of 3.51 films according to data from IHS Markit.[4]

During 2020-2022, COVID-19 substantially impacted the Korean film market. The Korea Film Council (KOFIC) estimated that the total size of the Korean film market contracted to $893 million for a second straight year in 2021. In 2022, the market rebounded to 1.3 billion, showing clear signs of recovery from the pandemic. The number of moviegoers also recovered from 61 million in 2021 to 113 million in 2022 according to the latest available data from the organisation[5]

In conclusion, considering the differences and impacts; both Hallyuwood and Nollywood have their unique strengths and challenges. The Korean film industry has achieved global recognition with its high-quality productions, while Nollywood, as a major player in African cinema, continues to evolve and adapt to changing trends and standards.








Seun Akinade
Beverley Agbakoba-Onyejianya