15th Seoul International Drama Awards to be replaced by recorded broadcast on September 15

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UPDATE (3 SEPTEMBER 2020): The 15th Seoul International Drama Awards will now be non-face-to-face, as audience, presenters and winners will not be attending the awards ceremony. Initially, SDA 2020 was to be held on September 10 without an audience and with only local winners and presenters in attendance. However, with the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in South Korea and the Korean government raising its social distancing level to 2.5, the organizing committee has decided to change the format of the awards ceremony in order to protect the safety of participants and strengthen community quarantine efforts.

As a result, not only the audience but also local presenters and winners will not participate in this year’s awards ceremony. The organizing committee will be personally delivering the trophies separately to local and overseas winners. The winners will share their speech through a video presentation for the fans around the world.

Celebratory performances will take place to help create a more lively atmosphere for the award ceremony, as none of the audience, presenters and winners will be in attendance. The celebratory performances will be held under a strict social distance policy. The performers and on-site staff will not be allowed to gather at any place at the same time as safety is a top priority. Also, only a few key personnel will present at a specific time on a team by team basis.

The SDA 2020 award ceremony will be aired on MBC at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, September 15. The ceremony will also be broadcasted on ‘wavve’ in South Korea, while international fans can watch the recording on MBC drama’s official YouTube channel.



The Seoul International Drama Awards Organizing Committee announced the opening of SDA 2020 and unveiled the list of nominees, including 28 dramas and 26 individual candidates on 6 August 2020. 

Amongst the 212 dramas from 41 countries, 8 entries are nominated in each Program Category, including TV Movie, Mini-Series and Serial Drama, along with 4 from the Short-form category which was newly-established this year. The panel of judges also unveiled 7 nominees in the Individual Category of Best Director and 6 nominees for Best Screenwriter. For the Best Actor and Best Actress, 6 actors and 7 actresses were nominated respectively. 

The organizing committee analyzed the list of candidates and selected 2020’s keywords that were relevant to the nominated dramas around the world this year as short but intense ‘Short-form contents’, ‘Unconventional female character’, ‘Diversity of dramas’ and ‘K-Drama’s rapid growth’.

Keyword 1 – New type of content ‘short-form’ which attracts younger generation

Short-form, which means a drama consisting of short half-hour episodes, was added to the award category for the first time this year. Short-form is a popular form of content among young people who are more accustomed to mobile devices than TV. This year, a total of 37 short-form dramas were submitted, and four of them, including “I Have 3 Boyfri3nds”, “Rumor”, “XX” and “18h30” were nominated.

Keyword 2 – ‘Unconventional female character’ who is active and challenging in leading the story draws attention

This year, female characters in dramas were outstanding. As a representative example, in the KBS mini-series “When the Camellia Blooms” which was extremely popular last year, there were strong and independent female protagonists which could be seen through the main characters of Dongbaek and the people of Ongsan Village. This trend can also be seen in the German short drama “Ottilie von Faber-Castell”, which is based on a true story about Germany in the 19th century. In the male-dominated business world, the main character Ottilie depicts a leading female figure who exhausts herself to succeed in business and lead a family.

Keyword 3 – ‘Diverse stories’ highlighting wide range of characters and topics

In addition, SDA’s 2020 nominees present diverse stories ranging from ones based on real-life to stories about family, war and refugees. Among the dramas based on true stories, “22 July” is set in the Norway Attacks in Oslo, and “Bolivar” is a romance story between the legendary Bolivar and Manuelita. Also, the Brazilian drama “Orphans of a Nation” tells the story of a Syrian refugee Lyla, Germany’s “The Turncoat”, Spain’s “Exodus” and U.K.’s “World on Fire” are dramas that are set during a war. Moreover, Germany’s “Because You’re Mine” and “Grumpy Olaf”, Korean drama “Human Luwak”, and Taiwan’s “My Father’s Words” pictured stories about various different families.

Keyword 4 – ‘The Rise of K-Drama’: The number of Korean dramas that are nominated increased 4.5 times compared to last year

The integrity of Korean dramas is also worth paying attention to. Of the 28 nominees for the Program Category last year, only 2 were Korean dramas. This year, the number of nominated Korean dramas increased to 9. In particular, the KBS mini-series “When the Camellia Blooms”, SBS mini-series “Hot Stove League”, tvN mini-series “Crash Landing on You”, and JTBC mini-series “Itaewon Class”, which were highly acclaimed for being well-made dramas this year, were all nominated and led to a competitive award ceremony.

US “Snowpiercer”, Philippines “Descendants of the Sun” are selected as The Most Popular Foreign Drama of the Year, showing K-Content’s stature across the border

The organizing committee invited dramas from abroad that received love and attention from around the world throughout the year. Dramas based on Korean content were also selected, including “Snowpiercer” produced by U.S. broadcaster TNT and distributed by ITV Studios, and “Descendants of the Sun”, a remake by Philippine broadcaster GMA Network. Director Bong Joon-ho’s “Snowpiercer”, which was remade as a drama with the same name, is an example of K-content’s influence that extends beyond Asia into the U.S. market and was selected as The Most Popular Foreign Drama of the Year with worldwide acclaim. The organizing committee also selected the Philippine version of “Descendants of the Sun” among several remakes that originated from the KBS drama “Descendants of the Sun” aired in South Korea in 2016, highlighting the influence of K-drama across borders. In addition to these 2 dramas, the mini-series “The New Pope”, co-produced by Sky Atlantic and HBO, and distributed internationally by Fremantle, was also invited. “The New Pope” is starring Jude Law, which depicted various social issues from the perspective of the pope.

The list of nominees for Korean titles include:

  • Mini-series: Crash Landing on You, Hot Stove League, Itaewon Class, When the Camellia Blooms
  • Short-form: I Have 3 Boyfri3nds, Rumor, XX
  • Best Actor (Mini-series): Kang Ha Neul (When the Camellia Blooms)
  • Best Actress (Mini-series): Gong Hyo Jin (When the Camellia Blooms)

The 15th Seoul International Drama Awards will be held on 10 September 2020 at MBC Media Center Public Hall, without an audience. The awards ceremony will be held via live streaming, and MBC’s recording will air at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 15 September 2020.

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