South Korean actor Soong Joong-ki meets his Chinese fans in Beijing. He starred in the TV series－Descendants of the Sun, which has attracted a huge audience in China. [Photo/Xinhua]
After years of Chinese fans' hearts melting for Korean TV drama stars, Chinese shows have become hot items in South Korea.
In October, when the 54-episode Chinese historical drama Nirvana in Fire was aired in South Korea, with Korean subtitles, it became a buzz word on South Korea's social media, People's Daily reported.
Nirvana in Fire, set in 6th-century China, tells of the tale of a protagonist's quest for justice and to erase a family blemish.
The series was shown on Chunghwa TV based in Seoul and got the sixth-highest rating among South Korean cable channels, also ranking for a time seventh in pay-to-view dramas online.
Amid the many high-quality South Korean dramas, it's rare for a foreign production to squeeze into the top 10.
"The Korean audience generally thinks the quality of Chinese TV series has a greatly improved in recent years," said Lee Deok-jae, director of media content at CJ Entertainment and Media, which owns Chunghwa.
"Mainstream South Korean newspapers, like Dong-a Ilbo and JoongAng Ilbo, also reported the phenomenon, which reflects the influence of Nirvana in Fire", Lee said.
He also said Scarlet Heart, a 2011 production on Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) royal families, and The Empress of China, on the early years China's only female monarch, of Wu Zetian (624-705), are highly welcomed series from China.
The Empress of China, which is still on air, ranked the 4th among the country's cable TV in terms of rating.
"China and South Korea are close neighbors, and audiences in the two countries share similar historical roots, humanity characteristics, and cultural needs," Lee said.