K-Drama Addicts Panic as Top Pirate Site Stops Streaming

Two recent popular Korean soap operas. At left, SBS’ ‘Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo,’ and at right, ‘W’ which aired on MBC.

BANGKOK — Thailand’s de facto source for feeding its addiction to Korean soap operas was forced to stop subbing and streaming new episodes to the dismay of panicked fans.

Kodhit.com announced via Facebook on Wednesday night it had ceased operations after being threatened with legal action by Korean broadcasting networks Seoul Broadcasting System and Munhwa Broadcasting Corp. if it did not stop fansubbing and streaming their dramas.

“I started watching Korean series with ‘Autumn in My Heart’ and kept watching series until I made this page and started making Thai subtitles,” the administrator of Kodhit’s page wrote, referring to a series from 2000. “At that time, the Korean wave wasn’t this big. Still, fans all over came and watched all these series together, having fun together.”

The page will continue hosting discussions between Korean drama fans, it said.

Netizens responded with similar nostalgia and chagrin.

“SBS and MBC, please reconsider. So many people love #Kodhit, do you still want to shut it down? Even celebrities and singers use this website,” tweeted @Bluenanicha.

https://twitter.com/bluenanicha/status/798857663576612864

Other tweets posted K-drama scenes to illustrate their sentiments.

“I’ll never forget this period in time,” an image tweeted by @N_zhaaa was subtitled.

The site is one in a vast ecosystem of illegal sites which pirate series from around the world along with user-generated subtitles. Soap operas, or lakorn, are a Thai national obsession, and the explosion of interest in Korean pop culture during the past decade has seen that passion hop borders.

“I’ve been watching dramas with you guys for so long,” Facebook user BT Engineer wrote in reply to the news. “It’s even replaced Thai lakorn for me. If Kodhit stops translating subtitles, I’ll be truly sad.”

Fans will have to rely on on-demand streaming services or wait on the domestic broadcasters who license the series from the Korean channels.

That’s likely to be frustrating to those used to instant gratification online. The rest of the world may be finishing up “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo” just as Thai channels have started broadcasting it.

Additionally streaming services such as Netflix and Iflix offer a limited amount of K-dramas, but they are often older, completed series.

Known as the Korean wave, South Korean popular culture such as music and soap operas, surged in popularity at the turn of the millennium into mainstream interest. Since then Bangkok has become a regular stop for K-pop bands to host fan meetings and concerts, which can choke traffic and block streets with massive crowds.