Netflix doubles investment in South Korean film and TV

Image from 'Squid Game'
Image from 'Squid Game' Copyright Netflix
By Jonny Walfisz with AFP
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After a meeting between Netflix's CEO and South Korea's President, more investment will see bigger and better South Korean shows coming to the platform.

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South Korean film and TV has just had a massive financial boost as Netflix commits $2.5 billion (€2.3 billion) over four years into producing content in the country.

The figure from Netflix is double what the streaming platform has invested in South Korea since 2016, explains Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos. The money will go to producing Korean films, TV series and unscripted programmes.

The news continues a trend of South Korean media crossing over into other markets. K-pop groups like BTS continue to dominate on the international stage, Parasite hoovered up international awards and the Best Picture gong at the Oscars in 2020, while Netflix’s own Squid Game is the service’s most streamed show.

More than 60 percent of Netflix users watched at least one program from South Korea in 2022, according to the company's data.

Netflix, which spent more than $750 million (€678 million) on developing South Korean content between 2015 and 2021, had previously said it would increase its production of South Korean programs, without providing further details.

Netflix made the announcement after a meeting between Sarandos and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in Washington DC.

STR/AFP
South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol (R) and his wife Kim Keon-hee (L) board a plane as they leave for Washington at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam on April 24, 2023.STR/AFP

Yoon, who arrived in Washington on Monday for a six-day official visit, hailed what he described as a “very meaningful” meeting with Sarandos. He also said the huge investment will be “a great opportunity for the Korean content industry, creators and Netflix.”

The South Korean president is in the US to strengthen ties to the country in the face of nuclear threats from North Korea. He’s expected to meet Joe Biden on Wednesday (26 April).

Yoon is accompanied by more than 120 South Korean business leaders, as part of a national effort to grow economical connections between the two countries. South Korea has increased its soft power substantially through the promotion of its arts industry internationally in recent years.

The “Hallyu” or “Korean Wave” strategy has seen Korean cultural exports increase dramatically. Film directors like Parasite ’s Bong Joon-ho and Decision to Leave ’s Park Can-wook, are mainstays of the international film circuit, while fans of K-pop artists are both wild and wide-reaching.

Current South Korean Netflix projects include The Glory, which released a second season last month, and reality TV show Physical 100, released earlier this year. Both grabbed global attention.

Finally, it’s been confirmed that the second season of Squid Game will commence filming later this year.

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