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The Difference Between The American And Korean Versions Of Criminal Minds

If a TV show is a hit in one country, odds are there will be several international remakes in the near future. From an American perspective, some of the most popular shows of the last 20 years are remakes of international series, like "The Office." But that goes both ways, and American shows get remade for international audiences, too. Comparing the U.S. and international versions of a given show can be an interesting exercise for superfans. But for everyone else, it offers a glimpse into how stories are adapted for different cultures.

"Criminal Minds" was one of America's most popular primetime dramas until it was canceled in 2019 – it was so popular, though, that a revival at Paramount+ is already in the works. At first glance, "Criminal Minds" might seem like a series that's too American for international viewers. The show follows a team of investigators from the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, a team of specialist cops and psychologists who create criminal profiles for suspects of some of the country's worst crimes. While other countries certainly do have similar law enforcement organizations that psychologically profile criminals, the FBI's BAU is distinctly American.

But when "Criminal Minds" was adapted for a South Korean audience in 2017, the country's lack of a BAU equivalent was an easy hurdle to get past. Here are the main ways that "Criminal Minds: Korea" differed from the American version. 

The differences have more to do with TV programming than culture clash

Before we get to the differences, it's worth mentioning the similarities. The South Korean "Criminal Minds" aired 20 episodes that were all based on scripts from the U.S. version, from Season 3 onward, as explained by Closer Weekly. The main cast members of the South Korean version were all designed to be counterparts to the American BAU team members, including Hotchner, JJ, Morgan, Garcia, and Dr. Reid.

Unlike the American version, which ran for 15 seasons and more than 300 episodes, "Criminal Minds: South Korea" only aired for one season — a common practice in the country's television industry, which often plans for TV dramas to run for just one season. But the biggest difference is that "Criminal Minds: South Korea" couldn't be set at the FBI's BAU. Instead, the producers set it at National Criminal Investigation (NCI), a fictional South Korean law enforcement agency.

Otherwise, the South Korean and American versions of "Criminal Minds" are very similar, and fans of either show should be able to enjoy both.