Taste at the Interface: Streaming K- dramas in the UK

  • Zoe Ruth Shacklock (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPresentation


The movement of television across national borders has historically been understood as a form of travel. Through the flow of programmes across borders, television becomes a site of transnational encounter, an interface between here and there, near and far, centre and periphery, and global and local. Yet the rise of streaming services complicates some of these foundational understandings of global television, not least through constructing their own interfaces that govern how audiences access television from elsewhere. This chapter explores the transnational encounters that are constructed at the interfaces of streaming services. I investigate how audiences access and encounter Korean television dramas (K-dramas) on streaming services in the UK, with a focus on Netflix and Viki. Closely analysing the features of streaming television interfaces - categories, algorithms, autoplay, and ratings - I argue that rather than travel, taste is the better framework for understanding transnational television flow today. I update Straubhaar’s work on ‘cultural proximity’ to argue that what I term ‘consumption proximity’ determines viewer’s encounters with K-dramas. The algorithmic organisation of streaming television means that Korean television’s ability to travel to audiences is determined by the extent to which consumption habits align with a transnational taste formation. I conclude with some thoughts on the well-documented interest in food amongst Western K-dramas fans, suggesting that what Dutch terms the Western ‘yearning’ for an authentic Korean cuisine, together with the emphasis on the ‘binge’ in streaming viewing habits, attests to the significance of taste and consumption in contemporary transnational media encounters.
Period11 Feb 2023
Event titleTowards equality, diversity and sustainability in streaming: Korean media in the UK and British media in Korea
Event typeConference
LocationLondon , United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational