Korean celebrity endorsements are seen as badges of honour as opposed to the stain on artistic credibility that it is in North America. Let’s take a three minute break to think about the products we now want to buy thanks to K-dramas.
I Hear Your Voice
This series featured the most shamelessly blatant product placement that I have ever seen in a K-drama. The public defenders go repeatedly to the same coffee shop, order very specific drinks, and hold their drinks just so, with the logo front and center. Kwan Woo (Yoon Sang Hyun) buys chocolates for Hye Sung (Lee Bo Young) and is happy to receive a special package for keeping them fresh, exclusive to that chocolate retailer. Soo Ha (Lee Jong Suk) comes home to Hye Sung who immediately asks if he has any dirty clothing. Soo Ha takes his clean looking shirt off, and we are treated to the riveting scene of Hye Sung carefully pouring the brand name detergent. What the show really should have been selling was a beauty cream of some sort, because if women could buy Lee Jong Suk’s dewy skin in a bottle, they would. – Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다
I Need Romance 3
“I Need Romance 3” is set in the new trends department of a home shopping network, which does so well under the main character, Shin Joo Yeon’s (Kim So Yeon) management that they set up an online shopping mall and expand their department. In case you’re wondering, the home shopping network where they work is one of the sponsors of the show, and they also have an online shopping mall, with a section for new trends. I don’t know if it worked as product placement, because I probably wouldn’t buy anything from robot, Shin Joo Yeon, but then again, I’m pretty far away from their geographic target market. – Only 만
Not only did the characters frequently have serious conversations at a particular coffeehouse chain with its name dependably in the background, but the glamourous and scheming divorcee, Yoo Ra (Han Chae-Young) ends up becoming the owner of one branch. You can just imagine the incongruity of a woman in a fur vest working the counter at the local coffeehouse (or check out the photo above). However, it was a good change of scenery for Yoo Ra who seemed to spend much of her time prior to the coffeehouse brooding and plotting against her former mother-in-law in her cavernous apartment.
An Italian outdoor sportswear company partners up with fledgling entrepreneur Ma Te (Jang Geun Suk) and makes him their spokesperson despite his previous experience being limited to the successful sale of cleaning socks. Not even the writers could explain this questionable business decision, and left the negotiations between Ma Te and the company off-camera. We can only guess that the entire management board of the sportswear company was made of up naive, older women, since Ma Te’s skill set lies primarily in cheesy seduction. – 중국어 캐나다
When it was announced that “Emergency Couple” would get an extension, I was initially wary of what kind of last-minute conflict would crop up as filler. Little did I know that much of the time would be taken up with product placement. In one episode, we were treated to a pointless excursion to a coffee shop, a dessert break, and a trip to the park to play badminton without a net. The badminton game was the lamest, with all six interns gearing up from head to toe in a particular brand of sportswear for the sole purpose of batting around a shuttlecock. It still wasn’t as lame as the last episode, when the two leads took a random work trip to Taean, where they made sure to visit the seaside and eat the food, in between working at the local hospital. While I found it annoying in terms of the story, Taean really does look like a nice place to go, with tasty fish and excellent lighting. – 만
Most K-drama teenagers resort to ramen for a cheap meal, so it was a glaring deviation when Gang Joo (Ryu Hyo Young) repeatedly goes to a hot dog and coffee joint. In better times, Gang Joo gorged on hot dogs with her best friend, Ha Gyung (Park Se Young). Not wanting to eat alone, she forces Nam Soon (Lee Jong Suk) to join her and offers him a row of hot dogs with an array of toppings. Ha Gyung comes upon Gang Joo and Nam Soon stuffing their faces together, and walks out without a word, having been replaced as Gang Joo’s hot dog snack companion. This magic moment was released as a behind the scenes video to adoring fans of Lee Jong Suk, also detailed here. – 중국어 캐나다
Since much of “Let’s Eat” revolves around eating tasty meals, it’s no surprise that they end up in a few real restaurant chains. They also make ramyun from an easily visible package at least three times (in case you’re wondering, find it here on the Ramen Rater), on one occasion even including a recipe to turn it into spaghetti with cream sauce, to match a recipe from an American restaurant chain.
For me, the kicker came at episode 10, a few episodes after sidekick Kyung Mi (Jung Soo Young) makes hundreds of glorious dumplings by hand for her family and friends. Soo Kyung (Lee Soo Kyung) tears open a bag of freezer dumplings (with the label facing forward, of course), cooks them three ways, then slurps them up in her usual orgasmic style. I don’t know how good these dumplings really are but she sure made them sound delicious. – 만
Readers: what product or brand featured in a K-drama do you still remember?
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