Retail investors are the new stars of Korean TV shows

Poster for “Stock Struck” (Tving)

The global entertainment industry’s obsession with capturing the deepest, darkest secrets of the financial industry on screen is nothing new. But in South Korea, the protagonists are no longer power-hungry brokers in suits, they are everyday retail investors.

JTBC’s “Cleaning Up,” a 16-episode remake of the British drama of the same name airing from June 4 to July 24, is at the forefront of change. It tells the story of how cleaners at a local brokerage overhear classified information and resort to insider trading.

Starring veteran actor Yum Jung-ah, the series received mixed reviews, but managed to resonate with “gaemi-deul”, which translates to “ants” – a derogatory term coined for local retail investors. by the media and the financial industry.

“It’s a catharsis for housekeepers, who are often invisible and ignored in the workplace, using this treatment to their advantage,” Lee Soo-ji, a 31-year-old retail investor, told the Korea Herald.

“Yes, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ type stories are always interesting, but in the current climate, it’s not relatable,” she added.

Lee is one of about 10 million retail investors in Korea currently grappling with the burden of the bear market in the Kospi, coupled with heavier debt repayments due to the central bank’s aggressive rate hikes in recent months. Retail investors were the main force pushing the Kospi above the 3,000 mark for the first time in its 40-year history in January 2021. Failing to maintain its bullish momentum, the benchmark of the country fell about 18% from 2,988.32 at the start. of the year at 2,432.77 around noon Tuesday.

Current market conditions have lured struggling retail investors to appear on screen, viewers say.

poster for

Poster for “Cleaning Up” (JTBC)

“For Koreans in their 20s and 30s, investing in stocks has become part of their daily routine, making retail investor-focused content more accessible,” said cultural critic and former lawmaker Kim Seong- soo during a telephone interview.

“Unfortunately, it’s the shared pain of losing their money or anger at more powerful people profiting from insider trading that unites them and drives them to appear on screen.”

In that sense, upcoming drama “Stock Struck,” the successor to “Cleaning Up,” aims to reflect the pain and growth of a wider group of investors, according to an official synopsis provided by its producer Studio Dragon.

The plot will focus on how the lives of five different investors are changed by mapping their own investment methods. A bride-to-be, an English teacher, and a part-time troubleshooter are among the ordinary people or social underdogs who join forces to understand the market and see growth in their investments and personal lives.

“We became interested in the ‘Stock Struck’ proposal because it wasn’t the typical stock market story about fund managers, but about the people around us who make investments as part of their lives. daily,” said So Jae-hyun, executive producer of Studio Dragon. The Korea Herald by e-mail.

“In developing the script, our team set out to produce a drama that could be accessible to both retail investors and an audience that isn’t interested in stocks. We also hoped it would resonate with the “gaemi-deul” by reflecting their reality.

YouTuber Shuka, the face of popular investment channel Shuka World with 2.28 million subscribers, will appear in the epilogues to offer trading advice. “Stock Struck” is set to debut on local streaming service TVing on August 22.

Smaller projects have also caught the interest of local audiences, such as “Stock of High School,” a one-episode drama that aired July 22 on national television channel tvN. The main protagonist is a high school girl from a low-income family who begins working as a middleman for her wealthy classmates.

“These dramas also reflect the overall social inequality in our society, where the rich get richer and the poor don’t have enough resources to do so,” explained social critic Kim.

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Dolores W. Simon