Drama Casting & News
End of the World halved due to poor ratings
by | April 15, 2013 | 81 Comments

Bad news for The End of the World, the cable medical plague drama that has picked up a mania following (i.e., a cult hit), though it hasn’t been able to carve out a space for itself in the ratings game. As a result, it’s getting cut early to nearly half its original length.

The show has earned praise as a well-produced drama, and its producers are the team behind A Wife’s Credentials — two factors in its favor. Even so, The End of the World has been unable to break 1% ratings after premiering with 0.899%. At its lowest point, the ratings dipped to a mere 0.4%. JTBC has announced that in light of the low ratings, they will be cutting the show down by 8 episodes; originally slated for 20 episodes and airing as a Saturday-Sunday series, it will now end on Episode 12. Furthermore, instead of airing two episodes per week as with conventional prime-time dramas, it will switch to a once-a-week broadcast — new episodes will air on Sundays only.

With so many cable shows making headlines and breaking ratings records, it’s almost enough to assume that all cable dramas are going to hit it big and challenge the broadcast Big 3 in the prime-time market. It certainly makes for a nice underdog story. And of the cable offerings, JTBC has been the one to steadily churn out the prestige shows, with a number of lauded titles in just over a year of operation: Childless Good Fortune, Padam Padam, A Wife’s Credentials, Dowager Queen In-soo, Cruel Palace: War of the Flowers

Even so, and even despite my general frustration with television stations’ knee-jerk reactions to sheer numbers, at a certain point I understand the business decision to pull the plug when numbers are that low. Nearly 1% is pretty solid, but 0.4% for a show that the station hoped would top Wife’s Credential’s 4% ratings? I can see the reasoning.

It does suck for everyone involved in making the drama, and for fans who are enjoying it, however small their numbers. I don’t believe this is a pre-produced drama so we aren’t dealing with a situation where existing episodes have to be hacked up to fit in a shorter running time (as with Tamra the Island), but the show has already aired nine episodes, which doesn’t give it a huge amount of narrative room to rearrange itself into the new format.

Following The End of the World will be the Jung Kyung-ho cop drama Undercover, about detectives who infiltrate a criminal organization for a drug investigation.

Via My Daily


81 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Orion

    This is really outrageous. This industry, seriously! It should be required, by law for both sides to commit to a certain plan. If you tell your series production team it will air 20 episodes, you should be forced to let them make and air them! Money and work down the drain!

    • 1.1 dewaanifordrana

      I couldn’t agree more!

    • 1.2 Nana

      Law often harms economy 😀

    • 1.3 Juyunkim89

      I could not disagree more with the comment that “it should be required by law for both sides to commit.”

      While it’s very unfortunate for the production team that the drama is being halved, the bottom line is low ratings means that sponsors are going to pull out.

      Without those funds from product placement, etc, continuing production means that the staff will have to work WITHOUT PAY. After all it’s not like the production company can just pull money out of thin air. Given low ratings, it makes so much more sense to just cut losses and allow the staff to more on to other projects rather than forcing them to continue working without pay.

      • 1.3.1 Orion

        Why does it not happen mid-season in the West? There must be systems that make sure everything works and that the sponsors also keep their word and pay the amount they have agreed to. A lot will have to change, but that does not mean Korea should just give up on changing them. This system is simply dysfunctional.

        I don’t see how not even letting a season finish helps anything. You can’t even have a good product that might bring money in from DVD sales later, if you rush it so badly.

        It’s a bad business move in the long-run too. So we’ll have to disagree on that.

        • Juyunkim89

          I’m not trying to be hostile or start a fight…it’s just that Orion, you seem to have posted some information that is inaccurate.

          In the US, mid season cancellations and replacements are as common as they are in Korea. In the 2012-2013 season, ABC cancelled five shows while CBS cancelled three. You can see a full list here.


          I do agree that it’s very sad that “End of the World” got cut mid season, but the “should be required by law” part really just struck a chord with me because that seems like it would just create more problems.

          • Orion

            It would solve a lot of problems too. There is always a way, but those who cash in prefer more and more money over what is fair. A contract is business. Rules should be present in business, that benefit all involved. If those rules are broken, there should be reprisals.

            And yes, it does happen in the West too, unfortunately, but they are usually smaller shows (although it sometimes happens with bigger ones as well) and a lot of them, due to being pre-produced, have the chance to get their unaired episodes released later on DVD. With live-filming, the end is the end.

            I’m not saying the West is doing fab, I’m saying it’s doing at least better and that both should definitely be more fair and need improving. I’m not saying Korea should by all means become westernized, we love it for not being westernized, but its labor rights and way of doing things are certainly in dire need of improvement.

            Korea does not have many series outside of the sageuk, melodrama, family and romantic comedy genres. New genres and works which have solid writing and a well-constructed plot are so rare that they should simply get all the support they can get. I realize the aforementioned genres sell, but as shown with some big hits we’ve had that existed mostly outside of them, people do want and are getting used to different things. Yanking those off the air keeps the bar and diversity low.

        • JoAnne

          Not joining the fray, but it does happen here, too. Not so often MID season, but series will be picked up and then dropped after a few episodes, or after one season. VERY often. And usually the stuff I like.

          • Orion

            I’ve seen shows where it did feel like the best option was to end it, true. But television is oddly less forgiving and diverse than cinema, so a lot of good stuff gets axed.

            Add extreme fixation on ratings and trends and it gets even worse.

  2. dewaanifordrana

    I think that this is a case where the ratings system really hurts dramas and the drama world in general. If writers are encouraged to only churn out popular/trendy style dramas (which have their appeal) and only go for the things that make hordes of people watch them, we will end up I fear with very little quality in the drama world. Quality stands the test of time, but if there is nothing of quality to satiate our drama appetites, at some point we will give up the junk food variety and just stop watching drama in general. Perhaps this seems rather jaded of me, but I would much prefer quality over the sheer quantity of dramas that are bad but popular.

    • 2.1 Orion

      Exactly this. A lot of works have proved that time till tell. Movies and series which completely failed during their original run became cult classics that made their makers and companies tons of money in the long-run.

    • 2.2 shiku

      Totally agree!

    • 2.3 Mystisith

      Amen. +1000. I agree. etc…
      General notice: The global quality of K dramas has decreased recently if you ask me and the average ratings are diving too (on the Big 3). It’s the old story of the chicken and the egg: Maybe people are dumping their TVs because they don’t like what is aired anymore?
      Now, about this show: I like it and I will watch it till the end, as butchered as the editing will be.
      I read on someone else’s blog that K dramas have between 30 & 60 % of their budget coming from Japan. This is just amazling. Maybe it’s time to dispatch your eggs in different baskets. Why not co-productions with the US or another Western country?
      BTW, anyone knows if the ratings for The Virus are good? I feel like SK audience is maybe just allergic to paranoia stories these days (and I can get why).

    • 2.4 JoAnne

      I do agree with this, wholeheartedly, and with Orion’s follow-on points as well.

  3. poolfish1

    OUCH! MAJOR OUCH! There has to be a balance between commercial success and quality. I mean there are already all those dramas that go viral and rake in the cash, which then allow companies to offer the less money-making but equally if not more excellent stuff. And besides the show’s almost half way, is it really necessary to cut out basically half of it? Contracts are signed because they should be upheld. Ugh.

  4. Carole McDonnell

    “Virus” undercut it too as well. Took some of its fire with all that silly over-the-top flashiness.

  5. Orion

    I got pissed so I wrote about it. Getting me pissed is always a good way to get me going. I can’t believe they just cut half of a 1-season show…

  6. ida

    And here we have a drama that illustrates how ratings=/= quality all the time, cos this is a damn fine show.
    I hope PD Ahn goes eff them by managing to still pull the stops and go beyond these limitations.

  7. Christy

    Awful that so often, dramas can be outstanding in quality and production but lack the viewership to sustain its costs (as opposed to some dramas who sell out for the fan service/cliche plots to get good ratings). When dramas like these get axed, I’m always reminded of the U.S. show Freaks & Geeks and what a shame that it got canceled.

    • 7.1 Orion

      ‘Firefly’… That one is really one of the big ones and it got lousy treatment from Fox, which did not help the ratings (they aired the episodes in the wrong order and the story did not make sense, so people did not tune in). It will forever make me sad.

      I think channels that don’t respect their content don’t deserve to have it. I hope people teach jTBC a lesson, because if they don’t, others will use the same methods knowing no one will react or mind.

    • 7.2 John

      What happened to Pushing Daisies was a travesty.

      • 7.2.1 Orion

        That one too. Those are really the only two ones that killed me. ‘Pushing Daisies’ was incredibly fresh and unique. It was expensive, yes, but wonderful. At least it had time for some little form of closure. I wish we had gotten 2-3 more seasons out of it to fully wrap it up though.

  8. comradeS

    How sad. I love what I have seen of the drama so far. It’s pretty much flawless as far as TV shows in general go.

  9. Kiara

    So sad for those currently watching and loving it. I haven’t started watching it yet. War of the Flowers is enough for now.

  10. 10 kcc

    I enjoyed this drama a lot, I can barely finished watching episode one of Virus and decided to give this show a try and fall in love with it. I feel so bad for the production team and the actors. They are doing such a great job and the quality of this drama is so good that I can totally ignore the fact that I knew none of the actors. I am a foreigner and most of the time I lean on the actors’ names to pick up my choice. However, by the time I was watching it, I felt like watching a movie, the quality of this show is that good. Why cut short this wonderful drama for a whole 8 episodes. This cable Tv companies should know that not all the best movies are the big block buster too.

  11. 11 kfangurl

    I feel really, really bad for the production team and the actors. They’re working their tails off to make a show that is, by all accounts, excellent in story and quality. To be cut off like this, because audiences have been slow to warm to it, is really sad.

  12. 12 lemonade candy

    hey, thats not right… what the what with cutting show in half? =.=”

  13. 13 Meeyeong

    This drama only gets a mention here because of this. Not surprised.

    • 13.1 Kiara

      Try reading the OT thread sometimes.

      • 13.1.1 Meeyeong

        Who talked about comments? I mean mentioned by the site’s authors.

        • topper

          Why do the authors have to cater to your taste? Condescending “not surprised” much.

        • pigtookie

          I would think that the fact she “mentions” it would mean that she is following it in some way.

    • 13.2 javabeans

      Does this mean we should scrap the review we’re planning, because it would cause you to roll your eyes too hard?

      • 13.2.1 Snowman

        No, don’t scrap it. I want to read what you have to say. Big thank you in advance 🙂

      • 13.2.2 hellothere

        Omo. I would love to hear your thoughts on this show, jb!

      • 13.2.3 Meeyeong

        Let me guess. You’re not the one writing it.

        • ida

          Woah, dude. What’s the deal?
          Sort out your attitude.
          You’re being so rude. And baseless drivel is not wanted here. So dont write the stuff, unless of course, you get a kick out of people telling you to shut up.

        • javabeans

          So not only do we have to cover every drama out there deemed deserving by some random online yahoo, but I’m supposed to cover them all myself? Yeah, no. Go on, demand more. Please be more ridiculous.

          • Orion

            You should also write about them naked. And upside down. With one arm tied behind your back. Blindfolded!

          • girlfriday

            Dance, monkey, dance!

          • JoAnne

            I want a meet up every week now!

      • 13.2.4 ida

        Me three!!!

      • 13.2.5 girlatsea

        Please don’t scrap it! I look forward to it^^

      • 13.2.6 yukiNYC

        Review it please. People should know how good it is but in light of what’s happening in China’s East coast, well…

        I watched KTV news coverarge of H7N9 and China’s fast response to contain the virus. The contaiment was so well done and modern compared to the drama, I found it lacking in CDC realism.

        BTW containment failed. It’s spreading. It doesn’t take much for birds to bring it to Korea. Nothing like real drama and wondering which will come to Seoul first. The nearby vIrus break or the nukes… 🙁

  14. 14 snow_white

    Thats so unfair as the whole team works so hard for a drama and they are simply told to end it abruptly…..
    Although i’m not watching the show, the fans must be clearly sad with the news..

  15. 15 Audrey

    Thanks javabeans for this article. I am truly sad by this news. You’ve answered my question about this drama being pre-produced. My hope that maybe they could released a Director’s Cut Edition for this drama (like Tamra Island), has been dashed.
    This is truly an intelligent drama, and “what it could have been” will be missed.
    But I am still glad that we get at 3 more episodes, hopefully the writers will end it someway that does this drama justice.

  16. 16 KDaddict

    This is the show that I love best at the moment.
    Besides the medical detective work, the rush to save lives, it is a microcosm of the academic or institutional workplace. The female manager is the politician, who only cares about what looks good to their superiors and to the outside, more so than avoiding the spread of the disease. Instead of supporting their sole researcher, Prof Yoon, she puts pressure on him when the going gets tough, and hedges her bet by also giving a rival researcher access to the same lab, which has led to sabotage and plagiarism. The office Manager is the one who sees clearly and does the right thing, including fingering her own husband, a petty jerk who puts his personal agenda in front of public safety. All these interpersonal dynamics of the workplace are so well done.
    There is romance; it is a side-dish, low-key and doesn’t take up much screen time. It is dignified and elegant, showing how two intelligent and dedicated professionals’ admiration and respect for each other blossom into mutual support, concern and finally, and quietly, Love. It feels real and honorable. Perhaps more ppl want juvenile piggy-back rides, chaebol princes, than adult professional understated slow-burn.
    There are no big name stars, no pretty faces, no abs, and hence no fan girls. I like big names, pretty faces, and abs too, but surely once in a while, there should be space for 1 dignified show in its entirety that appeals to something other than the fangirl in us? I guess not! Damn!

    • 16.1 Audrey

      Great post. I really liked that the romance is a “side dish” like you said. That shows realism, love just doesn’t happen overnight like in some other dramas. The workplace dynamics are interesting to watch also.

    • 16.2 Mystisith

      *Standing ovation*

    • 16.3 Orion

      Wonderful post! *thumbs up*

    • 16.4 KimKas

      It’s a great shame, The End of the World is a pretty solid show but I guess you have to take the rough with the smooth. Unfortunately the business-side of the Korean Drama industry is showing its absence of common sense and only looking at the money.

  17. 17 KDaddict

    Thank you for the news. Without it I’d be waiting for the even numbered episode this week all week.

  18. 18 Audrey

    Also I read this really nice opinion post on darksmurf forums that I wanted to it post here:
    written by Rachel in Darksmurf TEOTW forum:

    “When they put up an intelligent show like this, they should have expected poor ratings. The scripts for all 20 episodes have been completed and I can’t see how they can fit 12 episodes into 4 episodes without killing the story. If they are so concerned about the ratings, they should not have aired it in the first place. It’s obvious this kind of show will only appeal to a very minute section of k-drama watchers. ”


    • 18.1 KDaddict

      I think it can be done. It is not so much fitting 12 eps into 4, but cutting out some complications and plot twists altogether.
      The virus has undergone 1 mutation. If there were 20 eps, it could go thru a couple more. The not so honorable Prof Choi is now sick. With 20 eps, his illness could linger on. Now he can either die or recover much sooner.
      3 more eps to go. What needs to happen:
      Deal with the mutated virus; the Office Manager’s stupid husband; the plagiarism; restore Kang Team Jang to his rightful position; and tie up the love line. Quite simple. But I’d have loved to enjoy this show for 8 additional eps.

      • 18.1.1 Audrey

        hopefully it will be simple like you said.
        The though of NOT having the 8 additional eps are killing me, but hey, I should look on the bright side that we are getting 3 more episodes, instead of the show being cut all together.

  19. 19 shiku

    I really like this show and I’m sad that its been cut by almost half. You have shows on air that are just horrible yet they get to air all their episodes and even get extended. This was a well produced, scripted, acted and directed show. They even had all the scripts done before they started shooting. I feel so sad!

  20. 20 topper

    Why oh why? I am loving this show so much.

    • 20.1 yukiNYC

      Virus outbreak is not a popular subject, when nearby bird flu has broke containment and any bird can bring it to Korea.

  21. 21 girlatsea

    I was so disappointed when I first read about this. I heard nothing but good reviews. I was really looking forward to watching it when all the episodes were subbed :/

  22. 22 hellothere

    Lots of shows get cut due to poor ratings these days, but what’s doubly awful about this is that it’s such a great show (the best so far this year) and now it’s not allowed to reach its full potential. I like my fluffy rom coms too, but I’d take a show that was incredibly well made and intellectually stimulating over them any day. It’s a shame the mainstream audience for dramas don’t feel the same 🙁

    Also, has Undercover even started shooting yet? I haven’t seen any stills. It doesn’t have long until it premieres now, better get a move on……

    • 22.1 Orion

      Yes, that’s how you screw two series over with one move.

  23. 23 melo.boy

    so this means the drama hasn’t completed its shooting? so that they can stop the drama in case of low ratings??

  24. 24 HurryUp

    Enough with the plague dramas, let’s have a zombie apocalypse :DDD

    • 24.1 KDaddict

      I’d watch a zombie apocalypse if it is as well done as this one. 😀

      • 24.1.1 yukiNYC

        @KDaddict agree.

    • 24.2 anna

      Korean version of The Walking Dead??! I APPROVE!!

      • 24.2.1 anna

        Huh.. which makes me curious, is there ANY Korean zombie movies at all?! Is it not a popular genre? Strange with all the horror movies they’re churning out every summer, I have yet to see one that isn’t a GHOST story. Slash is actually are as well.

        • anna


        • Orion

          ‘Doomsday Book’ has zombies in the first segment, but it’s only a short one and does not really explore much. It feels more like a video done as a highschool project. All 3 segments, actually.

          I think that since sci-fi and disaster are not genres you find in Korea often, the works that are made tend to focus on the visuals and novelty of the genres and just not do much in terms of plot. But any movie needs a good plot to carry the rest of its elements.

          So yes, more please! There are lots of people in Korea and they do have novels and webtoons etc that belong to such genres so I do imagine they are liked, but I guess no one is daring to take the next step into film/series. It’s understandable, since some amount of CGI would need to be used (even if you’re really talented and use practical effects) and investors would not give out money so easily when there is no previous success to rely on. But that first step cannot be taken if no one does it. 😛

    • 24.3 Orion

      Gimme! I’ll watch it! Korea needs some good sci-fi and post-apocalyptic works! Actually, it needs some, period. XD

    • 24.4 Shukmeister


      Korea’s first zombie drama special!! I watched it – it wasn’t bad, fyi, based on GF’s review.

      • 24.4.1 Orion

        I need to check that out!

  25. 25 Ethlenn

    Well, if people shun dramas because of no flower boys in them… they have my blessings in daydreaming about BOF-ing every series.
    If someone prefers pretty boys and girls dipped in plastic and running in Louboutins in December – fine with me, Main 3 cater to their taste.
    But it seems unfair for a serious show that relies on acting and script to be treated like that. There is a lot of other dramas that made us roll our eyes and even got extra episodes because of have-no-idea-why.

    This situation only prooves that Korean audience is mainly occupied with watching chaebol-hrdworking girl fluctuations and not anything else.

    However, the drama fell victim to Korea’s self-copying trend. Deadly virus and group of scientists in two dramas at the same time. Some side had to pay.

    • 25.1 Ethlenn

      dammit you typos!! *proves* and *hardworking*

    • 25.2 Orion

      And yet it wasn’t the side which pretty much sucked. ‘The Virus’ is taking itself too seriously and is quite over-the-top. I would expect it to get shortened or go through script changes, but this one was a total surprise for me. I knew cable ratings aren’t spectacular, but I did not think such a fine show would be treated with so little respect, when the country simply does not produce both fresh and well-written shows too often.

  26. 26 thoa

    at least they are cutting it short and having a proper ending (bad or poor) instead of canceling it on the spot.
    America doesn’t bother to finish its show, rather they just cancel it without proper ending.
    For example: heroes, Kyle XY, No Ordinary Family, Alphas and the 4400. there are many others too.

    • 26.1 Orion

      I have not watched US series in a few years now, but it sounds like those aren’t doing any better. This really needs to be fixed. No story should be left unfinished, even if something has to be stopped. There should be some system to allow for enough time to form a closure and air it. So so sad. 🙁

  27. 27 goldeng

    Honestly speaking, this disaster/disease genre is not my thing but it sucks for those who are fans of it! if someone decided they would not continue with TEN season 2 or with Vampire Prosecutor 3 i’ll def want to cut them! Hopefully, they’ll give fans a decent ending and not leave it all in the air… cuz that actual happens and it sucks! I dont know this happened because we’re talking about a cable drama but having the same themes over and over is annoying. Right now, in one season you can say that at least 3 dramas in the same run have the same plot… there would always be audience-favorites but the lack of diversity would sooner or later kill the industry.

  28. 28 Maeri

    I am invested in this too much to only have a few episodes left.
    It is a drama that gets under your skin, I have been rewatching the episode and the 2nd time find myself even more involved than the first (rewatching and taking up more of my limited drama watching time)

    I wonder if one of the reasons these type of dramas do not do well as they are very character (and development of) driven rather than plot driven. There is no space for people to interpret the characters to their own tastes?

  29. 29 KimKas

    The end of the world is a pretty nicely made drama. Solid writing, great acting, very dark but solid plot nonetheless. I am saddened to hear it is going to be reduced so much.

    Unfortunately, long-term is not a word that exists in the dictionary of businessmen, only short-term money does. Thank you America for contributing to the loss of quality in work throughout the world.

  30. 30 RKfan

    I bet if the lead actor was Lee min ho, the ratings will shoot up. not that lee min ho would want to leave high school flower boy high school image *dodges shoes thrown by an outraged fan*, sorry i love to pick on LMH bcos of Heirs. all in all that is less likely (for him to pick this role but i loved faith, city hunter and personal taste). more likely is joo won or some other young idol. my point is i think this show was made for an older audience, who may not like the genre

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