Opera and ballet are escapism if that's what entertains you. Many, many serials intensely focus on plastic characters who keep changing in a way utterly unlike real people (especially the ones who change back so they can relive a particularly satsifying fantasy) against an unchanging, indeed unchangeable "world" that is barely there. Is there an increase in this kind of serialization? And could it be a result of diminished hope in real lives, so that more and more people no longer find escape in other kinds of stories?
As to foreign television, I don't think telenovelas are open-ended serialization. By our standards they would be single season series. It does seem to me that many foreign television systems have much shorter series, and open ended serialization is really rather rare, even though closed ended serialization does seem to be quite common.
I wonder if that isn't really due simply to being too small a market to support costly long term series? US style long seasons once included 39 episodes and summer reruns included only some of the best episodes. Production schedules like this are grueling, expensive, not conducive to high quality, none of which is likely to make governments pony up the money for a noncommercial television channel.
Korea's long tradition of dictatorship probably has something to do with TV favoring soaps. Isn't the main producer of telenovelas Colombia, also for decades an extremely repressive government? TV isn't just entertainment, it's news (propaganda, whether you will or no, even if it's white propaganda,) and politics and governments make sure the TV system is working properly. By their standards, that is.