GLOBAL streaming service Netflix is bringing new original Korean content to its lineup of new shows this year.
During the See What’s Next Korea event streamed from Seoul on Feb. 25, Netflix co-CEO and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a video that the recent investment in Korean content surpassed $700 million.
Netflix has made more than 200 Netflix Asian original series since 2016. The apocalyptic South Korean horror TV series Sweet Home was seen by 22 million households in 2020. Other Korean shows on Netflix that were popular in 2020 were the zombie series Kingdom Season 2 and #Alive, teenage drama Extracurricular, and the North-South Korean love story Crash Landing on You.
“We recently signed the deal for studio space — two — in fact, which will allow us to continue making great content in Korea, as Korean content becomes the world’s entertainment trends,” Mr. Sarandos said. “We will continue to invest in collaborating with Korean storytellers across a wealth of genres and formats.”
Minyoung Kim, Netflix Vice-President of Content for Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia & New Zealand said that as of the end of 2020, Netflix had 3.8 million paid memberships in South Korea. Highlighting the company’s continued investment in the Korean creative community, Ms. Kim also announced that Netflix is investing nearly $500 million on Korean content in 2021.
“All of this shows our commitment to creating Korean content together to overwhelm and entertain the global audience, and to lay the groundwork for the local production and creative industry to grow in tandem,” Ms. Kim said.
According to Ms. Kim, viewership in the streaming service grew four times between 2019 to 2020.
“It’s a huge increase and it is a very exciting thing for a lot of us who are making Korean content,” Ms. Kim said at the online roundtable for Philippine and Singaporean media.
“We believe the stories that are authentic to the local market are the stories that are going to travel.”
THE FILMS AND SERIES
This year, Netflix will have two original Korean films and 10 series titles.
One of the films is BDSM romance Moral Sense, directed by Park Hyun-jin (Like for Likes), about a clean cut office worker whose female co-worker accidentally opens his mail and finds a leash. The two then develop a male-sub and female-dominant relationship.
The other, directed by Jung Byung-gil, is the action film Carter about a man who wakes up in a motel room with no recollection of who he is. When a voice in his ear calls him “Carter,” he follows the voice’s orders and goes on a mission to save a kidnapped girl.
The upcoming TV shows are:
• Move to Heaven, directed by Kim Sung-ho (How to Steal a Dog), revolves around the routine of a pair of trauma cleaners.
• D. P., based on the webtoon by Kim Bo-tong, follows army private Joon-ho who becomes a member of the “Deserter Pursuit” unit that tracks down military deserters. Directed by Han Jun-hee, it stars Jung Hae-in, Koo Kyo-hwan, Kim Sung-kyun, and Son Seok-koo.
• Squid Game, directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, follows people who decide to join a mysterious survival game for a $40-million prize.
• Hellbound follows a self-assured lawyer who goes up against the New Truth Church and its extremist Arrowhead devotees. The series is directed by Yeon Sang-ho (Train to Busan, Peninsula) and is written by Yeon and Choi Gyu-seok.
• The Silent Sea is set in a desertified future Earth and follows members of a special team sent to an abandoned research facility on the moon. Directed by Choi Hang-yong, the series stars Bae Doona, Gong Yoo, and Lee Joon.
• All of Us Are Dead is about a group of students trapped in a high school seeking to be rescued from a zombie invasion. The original series stars Yoon Chan-yeong, Park Ji-hu, Cho Yi-hyun, Lomon, and Yoo In-soo.
• My Name, from the director of Extracurricular Kim Jin-min, follows a mobster’s daughter who joins a cartel and becomes a mole in the police force in order to learn the truth behind her father’s death.
• So Not Worth It, created by Kwon Ik-joon, follows the adventures of students with multicultural backgrounds in a college dorm. It stars Park Se-wan, Shin Hyeon-seung, Choi Young-jae of K-pop group GOT7, Minnie of the K-pop girl group (G)I-DLE, and Han Hyun-min.
• Kingdom: Ashin of the North is a special standalone episode from the Kingdom universe which tackles the backstory of the mysterious character Lee Chang’s group encountered on their journey north to discover the origins of the infected.
• Season 2 of Love Alarm, starring Song Kang, Kim So-hyun, and Jung Ga-ram, returns on March 12. Based on a webtoon of the same title, the series is directed by Kim Jin-woo. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman