In 2007, South Korea’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Energy announced that a legal taskforce had drawn up the world’s first government-backed set of guidelines for the ethical treatment of robots. Inspired by Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics” but going beyond earlier science fiction to propose codes of conduct for humans who might be inclined to abuse nonhuman machines, the “Robot Ethics Charter” put South Korea in the spotlight as a country willing — in theory if not in practice — to extend protections and rights to all. Since that time, the controversial concept of “robot rights” has gained currency, thanks in part to a host of internationally distributed cultural productions, from K-dramas such as Borg Mom (2017) and My Absolute Boyfriend (2019) to web series such as A Cyborg in Love (2016) and 109 Strange Things (2017), in which humanoid automatons are partnered — professionally and sometimes romantically — with flesh-and-blood characters who must overcome prejudices and preconceptions if they are to develop alongside their new care-giving companions. I analyze and contextualize these programs with reference to recent developments in South Korea’s artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics industries, engaging scientific and social discourses while framing popular urban culture as a lens through which to gauge the government’s successes and failures in upholding its own historically-unprecedented ethical charter. These programs have contributed to the mainstreaming of a radical idea beyond normative neoliberal horizons, making it “safe” for legislators and activists to make a more defensible case for nonhuman rights.