Singapore: China's CETV to Premiere South Korean TV Format 'Ding Dong Daeng'

Grandpas Over Flowers - H 2014
Courtesy of CJ E&M

The children's education program will debut Jan. 2015

China's CETV will begin airing a local adaptation of the South Korean children's program Let's Get Together Ding Dong Daeng beginning in January. This is the first Korean children's show to have its format exported overseas.

The original show by Korea's Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) is the only musical format to be recorded in front of a live audience (each episode costs between $35,000-$50,000). It has enjoyed an average rating share of 35 percent in 2014 according to AGB Nielson. It targets 4- to 7-year-olds and is unique in that it is staged and recorded in different locations across Korea. Over 1.5 million children and parents since its inception in 2000, and spawned a successful musical spinoff.

"Our show is the first children's show in Korea to have its format exported overseas," said Thomas Hankil Nam, deputy director global business & international relations at EBS, during a panel on Tuesday during the Singapore Media Festival's Asia TV Forum & Market.

"The first show with live audience took place on Nov. 23 in Beijing. CETV filmed several consecutive shows and all eight shows were completely sold out. The response has been so good that CETV is preparing a character license business featuring [the show's hero] Beongaeman."

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Let's Get Together Ding Dong Daeng is only one of a handful of Korean TV formats that have made inroads into China. Hurry Up, Brother, China's version of Seoul Broadcasting System's (SBS) regionally popular game-variety show Running Man, began airing in October and has been garnering top national rankings.

"[The Chinese makers] have changed the game to incorporate Chinese mythology and culture, and it has been receiving positive feedback from viewers. The co-production partnership between China and Korea has been very good, and there is no reason not to do this again," said Kim Iljoong, director of global format strategy at SBS.

Kwon Yong-tack, a producer at the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), says the secret behind the success of Korean TV formats can be attributed to the country's avid experience in creating variety programs.

"Many Korean entertainers are extremely experienced in hosting or taking part in variety programs and reality shows. They know what to do. I saw the Chinese version of Running Man and I've observed that the Chinese celebrities improve from one episode to another. Secondly, Korean producers know how to present reality. In family-oriented shows for example, while it is realistic for babies to cry all day, viewers don't want to watch this. Programs should capture the special moments of real life that could satisfy the fantasy of viewers," he said.

Korea has more to offer in the global format market, says Kim: "Korea has just started to enter the global format market but has produced so many excellent programs for over 20 years. It is like a hidden treasure island for the global format market."