Netflix Planning to Invest $2.5 Billion in South Korean Content

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos met with South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol during the Asian dignitary’s U.S. visit this week, prompting the company to commit a cool $2.5 billion toward the creation of Korean series, films and unscripted shows over the next four years. The amount is twice what Netflix has invested in the Korean market since it began streaming there in 2016. Netflix’s Korean partnership has produced global hits including “Squid Game,” “The Glory” and “Physical: 100.” “We have great confidence that the Korean creative industry will continue to tell great stories,” Sarandos said after meeting with Yoon in Washington, D.C.

In a blog post, Sarandos wrote that he and the team at Netflix were “inspired by the President’s love and strong support for the Korean entertainment industry and fueling the Korean wave.”

Global viewers spent more than 1.65 billion hours “glued to the first season of ‘Squid Game,’ making it the most-watched non-English language series of all time on Netflix,” writes Quartz, noting that the streamer has three other Korean series in its top 10: “the first seasons of ‘All of Us Are Dead,’ ‘The Glory’ and ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo,’” each racking up nearly half a billion hours.

More than 60 percent of Netflix’s 233 million global subscribers watch South Korean content, according to Quartz. It is “no surprise, then, that amid stiff competition from Amazon Prime and Disney+, Netflix wants to cash in on the popularity.”

Netflix’s 2024 slate includes more than 20 Korean series and six films, in addition to some reality shows and docs. A second generation Korean American reporter for The Verge writes “friends will ask what Bong Joon-ho films they should watch after ‘Parasite,’ and the only one they consistently watch is ‘Okja,’ because that’s the one on Netflix.”

Meanwhile, South Korea-based streaming platforms, “notably TVING (backed by CJ ENM, tech giant Naver and broadcaster-producer JTBC) and Wavve (jointly owned by the country’s three main public broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS and private sector giant SK Telecom) are also seeking a bigger piece of the Korean wave for themselves at home and abroad,” according to Variety.

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