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Viewers gush over ‘SKY Castle’ as ratings skyrocket

Black comedy compared to hit US drama ‘Desperate Housewives’

The ratings for “SKY Castle” are soaring as enthusiastic viewers gush over the show’s depiction of South Korea’s education craze as well as the larger-than-life housewives played by some of the best actresses on Korean TV.

JTBC’s Friday-Saturday series saw its ratings rise from just 1.7 percent viewership with its pilot episode in November to 11.3 percent on Saturday, according to Nielsen Korea. The ratings have risen each week consistently. 

Yum Jung-ah (left) and Kim Seo-hyung appear in “SKY Castle.” (JTBC)
Yum Jung-ah (left) and Kim Seo-hyung appear in “SKY Castle.” (JTBC)

The growing popularity might be thanks to the overwhelming enthusiasm brewing on the internet.

The black comedy was the most discussed drama of the week between Dec. 10 and 16, knocking tvN’s “Encounter,” starring Song Hye-Kyo and Park Bo-gum, off the top spot, according to a weekly ranking from big data analyst Good Data. 

The ranking means the show was the most talked about in online communities including Twitter and blogs.

One Twitter user welcomed the show’s refreshing storyline, tweeting, “SKY Castle is such a great story. Too tired of Korean love drama, this drama could be opening up people’s mind about obsession in education.”

Some fans compared the show to 2004-12 US show “Desperate Housewives.”

“SKY Castle feels like when Desperate Housewives meets a K-drama,” one tweet read.

“SKY” in the title “SKY Castle” is used in South Korea to refer to the country’s top three universities: Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University.

On the show, wealthy “tiger moms” and their husbands living in an upscale apartment take center stage. The show’s main character Han Seo-jin, played by Yum Jung-ah, will do anything to make sure her daughter Kang Ye-seo enters the College of Medicine at Seoul National University, even if it means spending hundreds of millions of won to hire an elite “university admissions coordinator.”

Director Jo Hyun-tak did not shy away from showing the dark side of the country’s education hype on the show. During a press conference last month, he said viewers might experience different emotions as they see people trying all methods and pulling every string to send their children off to the best universities.

By Yim Hyun-su (