South Korea- Aiming to correct the wrong concepts that people have about Korean culture and to promote it, a group of youths has created a YouTube channel called ‘Korean Bros.’
Korean Bros has gained massive popularity among not only Koreans, but also foreigners who are interested to know more about Korean Culture.
During Daily News Egypt’s (DNE) visit to Seoul, we interviewed Korean Bros’ team to ask questions about their journey with the famous online channel and to find out what they have planned for the future of their channel.
We interviewed the channel’s producer Sang-min Lee, its marketing head Kim Yeon-jin, and cast members Silva Moreira Pechin Tavares Luca from Brazil and Soares Ja’Von Antonio, who is from USA.
Despite the fact that the two presenters are foreigners rather than Koreans, they love Korean culture, and they decided to live in South Korea and build their careers there.
While Luca is just a university student that models on the side, Ja’Von started his career as an English teacher in an elementary school, but now he is a professional model in Korea.
Goal and idea
Talking about the channel’s idea, the Korean Bros team told DNE that the idea and the goal of the channel are to correct the wrong concepts that people have about Korean culture.
The team said that they wanted to broaden their sphere by giving good cultural and entertainment content, changing society through it.
In terms of the origin of the idea, they said that “there was a very old and famous YouTube channel called ‘Boy’s Village’; the founders of this channel — Nam and Beom, knew each other through that channel and started Korean Bros togetherfour and a half years ago.”
They continued that Nam wanted to present Korean culture, as South Korea has a pretty big and different cultural character, and his foreign friends were super interested about it. So, Nam and Beom decided that it would be a super fun idea if they can document foreigners’ reactions to Korean culture through YouTube, and that was the beginning of the channel.
They added that the Korean Bros team now engage in both cultural and ESG activities.
Furthermore, the team said that they were formed either through their relations (friends or mutual friends) or through a recruitment process, and that they are now witnessing a lot of foreigners that contact them to film with them.
“Our team is a family, not actors or producers, but family,” they stressed.
The team said that they uploaded their first video back in 2016 and have accumulated 220 million views so far, and that their viewers and subscribers are from different age groups, starting from teenagers to viewers in their fifties.
Luca and Ja’Von said that Korean Bros has lots of various formats and videos, explaining that most of the videos are about drawing comparisons between the cultural differences between Korea and other countries.
“There are also other cultures that we deal with, because our viewership is diverse. It’s not only Koreans, but foreigners as well,” they said.
They continued that there are also lots of videos related to couples and relationships and how there’s a cultural difference between couples from Korea and other parts of the world.
“Additionally, there is a lot of content related to Korean cuisine. We actually have our foreign panels eat Korean food and then film their reactions; it’s one of our most watched kinds of videos,” Luca and Ja’Von added.
They also explained that these videos are mostly about correcting the misperceptions that people have about Korean culture.
The production process
Sang-min then discussed the production process, explaining that they search for ideas first, then write a script, film the video, then edit it before publishing it.
He added that it doesn’t take long to plan if the topic is clear, revealing that the shooting itself is done in two to three hours and the editing takes about three to four days.
“I can say that we usually produce two videos in a week and about eight a month, “he said.
Sang-min also discussed the brainstorming phase, explaining that the production process starts by finding the proper ideas and that the starting point for any video idea is to know how foreigners view certain aspects of Korean culture or customs and see how they react to it.
“One of the core values that I think our content has is starting from those little questions, we ask these questions to ourselves, and then we bounce it around until we can get the general public to understand the cultural differences.”
Sang-min also revealed that, up till now, Korean Bros have been focused on comparing cultures between Korea and other countries. But since the pandemic is almost over, they think they should focus on more social values, like the environment, environmentally friendly social policies, and companies making money based on zero waste. So, that’s the kind of value that we want to pursue.
When the producer was asked about the competitors in the field, the producer said that “all the topics could be dealt are already dealt on YouTube, so he thinks none of them are competitors, It’s just a matter of how to make the topics more creative.”
Finance and profits
By asking them about how they finance the production cost, the team said that Korean Bros operates under a company named ‘Five Seconds’ that funds the channel.
“Please bear in mind that the production costs are not that high, because if we film a video about Korean cuisine, the food does not cost that much, and we also pay the guests, but also not that much. So, the production cost isn’t as high as you think,” they explained further.
Regarding the profits, Kim said that back in 2016, when Korean Bros first launched the channel, they weren’t really eager to earn money because their core focus was to promote Korean culture and to let others know. So, they didn’t make a lot of money.
“But since then — as our channel became more influential — the Korean government’s agencies and other entities, along with big companies that are working overseas, developed an interest in our channel. There were advertising companies that wanted to use our channels to promote their products or the values that they have,” she said.
“So, I can’t really say we regularly make profits — it’s not like that — but whenever advertisement companies or big companies want to make use of our channel to promote their values or products, they give us money, so that’s how get by,” she added.
“And as you know, YouTube has a concept called AdSense; if you have a lot of subscribers or views, you get a certain amount of money from the platform. We don’t always get many views on all our videos though, so it depends.”
Popularity, challenges, and the future
Sang-min said that the biggest challenge that they faced during their journey with Korean Bros was to justify to viewers why they were creating these videos.
He explained that in the early days of the Korean YouTube content market, it was important to make cultural consumers understand this because Korea’s culture was unfamiliar and even alien to them.
“But as the importance of culture grew worldwide, these early challenges laid the foundation for us to become a leader in cultural content,”Sang-min added.
“I love all of my videos, but the closest to my heart is a series called ‘Korean stereotypes or prejudices in each country,’” the producer said.
When Kim was asked which theme is currently the most popular, she said:“There are two types of people that watch Korean Bros. The subscribers that are interested in differences in language or culture, and regular viewers that follow us using the YouTube algorithm because they are interested in Korean food or reactions to K-Pop.”
Concerning the future of Korean Bros, the team said that most of the channel’s content is viewed in western countries in Europe or the US. So now, the team wants to expand their reach and serve as a bridge for the world to Korea.