Because Cubans have found out K-dramas, they can't enjoy all of the K-drama. At the beginning of last year, they first watched K-drama goodness with the comedy "Queen of Housewives" which was published in 2009 on the Canal Habana, winning ratings of 70 percent. After that, Cubans continued to see "My Fair Lady" which featured Yoon Eun Hye as the spoiled rich girl and Yoon Sang Hyun as her chauffer. The romantic comedy made Yoon Sang Hyun a sought-after star in Cuba. Next aired was "Secret Garden," the body swap comedy that stars Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won. Now the historical drama "Jewel in The Palace," also known as "Dae Jang Geum" is airing.
Censors are currently reviewing "Boys Over Flowers," which stars Lee Min Ho. But many Cubans are not waiting for the official review. Street vendors are selling about 60 different pirated as yet unrated k-drama DVDs. Dramas with Lee Min Ho are high in demand.
The dramas were provided for free by the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and they have done their part in promoting the image of Korea on the island nation. Oh Young Ho, KOTRA"s CEO received an award in Cuba on Nov. 4 for his role in promoting economic and cultural exchanges between Korea and Cuba.
Orlando Guillén of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce told Hancinema that before the dramas aired, Cubans knew very little about Korea.
"But just one week after the soaps went on air everybody knew about Korea," he said.
One famous Cuban k-drama fan is Fidel Castro"s 51-year-old son Alex. He has acknowledged that he is a fan of "Queen of Housewives." Castro attended Korean pavilion at the Havana International Fair which was attended by Sun Woo Sun, the star of "Queen of Housewives."
While his Cuban popularity was something of a surprise for actor Yoon Sang Hyun, he does understand why Cubans find k-dramas so entertaining.
"Koreans and Cubans have a lot in common," Yoon Sang-hyun said when he visited Cuba. "A bit of comedy, a bit of drama, some romance, but never anything very serious. Just real-life relationships."
Lee Young Ae, the star of the 2003 drama "Jewel in The Palace" may also find that Cubans recognize her should she go there for a visit. The actress played Jang Geum in the drama about Korea"s first female physician and her drama is currently airing on Canal Habana.