Netflix Announces 2023 Original Korean Content Slate

Korean content has been good to Netflix. More than 60% of Netflix’s global 223 million subscribers watched Korean content in 2022, and the streamer’s original 2021 dystopian series “Squid Game,” in which contestants face life-or-death decisions, remains Netflix’s most-viewed content ever.

Netflix Jan. 16 announced 34 upcoming Korean titles with a common theme of “survival,” whether it’s battling monsters during the dark days of 1945 in “Gyeongseong Creature,” struggling to breathe in the dystopian future of sci-fi series “Black Knight,” or fighting to protect Joseon during Japanese colonial rule in the action drama “Song of the Bandits.”

Other returning shows include “Sweet Home,” “D.P.,” and “The Glory.” Part two of the latter revenge drama will be released in March, with part one being the most-watched, non-English TV show during the week of Jan. 2, with 82.5 million viewing hours. “Sweet Home,” which set new viewership benchmarks for the creature genre in Korea, will return with an expanded world and story, while “D.P.” brings back the cast from the first season to continue chasing after deserters.

“Over the last year, Korean series and films have regularly featured in our Global Top 10 list in more than 90 countries, and three of Netflix’s most-watched shows ever are from Korea,” Don Kang, VP of Content Korea, said in a statement. “This year, we’re pushing the envelope even further with the stories we tell and how we tell them.”

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Other new series this year include “A Time Called You,” “Behind Your Touch” (WT), “Crash Course in Romance,” “Destined With You,” “Doona!,” “King the Land,” “Love to Hate You,” “See You In My 19th Life,” “Bloodhounds,” “Celebrity,” “Mask Girl,”Daily Dose of Sunshine,” “Queenmaker,” “The Good Bad Mother” and apocalyptic “Goodbye Earth.”

VPN: Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ Still Most-Searched Korean Content Worldwide

Netflix’s dystopian series, “Squid Game,” is still the most-searched Korean drama worldwide, according to new data from VPN Overview, a cybersecurity firm.

The original series generated seven Prime Time Emmy nominations and two wins for “Outstanding Lead Actor” and “Outstanding Directing” in a drama series

The online survey analyzed a list of the most popular Korean dramas of the past few years, both available on Netflix and other platforms, to discover which one was the most-searched worldwide.

“Squid Game,” released on Netflix on Sept. 17, 2021, remained No. 1 with almost 15 million average monthly searches, seven times the No. 2 on the list. A worldwide success, the first season of “Squid Game” generated a whopping 1.65 billion hours of viewing in the first month of its release, which is the equivalent of 182,000 years.

The survival drama follows the story of a group of 456 people, all in deep financial hardship, who are invited to play a series of deadly children’s games for the chance to win a large sum of money.

Second on the list is ‘All of Us Are Dead’ with almost 3 million average monthly searches. The series revolves around a group of South Korean high schoolers who have to fight a zombie apocalypse that breaks out unexpectedly and is based on a Naver webtoon of the same name. Netflix released the series on Jan. 28 and has been renewed for a second season.

At No. 3 is romantic drama “Business Proposal,” with more than 1.5 million average monthly searches. The series tells the story of an employee who accepts to go on a blind date and finds out that the date is actually her boss. The series is available on Netflix in selected regions.

Further down on the list, “True Beauty,” inspired by a popular webtoon of the same name, is fourth with 1.47 million average monthly searches, while “Our Beloved Summer” is fifth with 924,000 average monthly searches.

“It is interesting to see how even one year after its original release, ‘Squid Game’ is still so popular all over the world,” VPN said in a statement.

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Top 10 most searched Korean Dramas worldwide
Rank Title Release Year Searches
1 Squid Game 2021 14,720,000
2 All of Us Are Dead 2022 2,840,000
3 Business Proposal 2022 1,510,000
4 True Beauty 2020 1,470,000
5 Our Beloved Summer 2021 924,000
6 Crash Landing on You 2019 884,000
7 Hellbound 2021 879,000
8 Itaewon Class 2020 680,000
9 Love Alarm 2019 592,000
10 Hospital Playlist 2020 562,000

Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ Cast Celebrates Historic Emmy Wins

With six wins out of 14 nominations, Netflix’s original blockbuster series “Squid Game” achieved several milestones at the 74th Emmy Awards Sept. 12 in Los Angeles.

Series creator Hwang Dong-hyuk won for outstanding directing for a drama series, while actor Lee Jung-jae won for outstanding actor in a drama series for his lead performance. Hwang and Lee became the first Asians and the first South Koreans to win in their respective categories, and the first ones to do so with a non-English language series.

Squid Game debuted on Netflix on Sept. 17, 2021, and became a global phenomenon. The series clocked in more than 1.65 billion viewing hours in 28 days, and reached 111 million Netflix accounts, becoming streamer’s first series to surpass 100 million members at launch. The closest runner-up is the fourth season of “Stranger Things,” which has tracked more than 1.35 billion streaming hours in 28 days.

At a Sept. 15 press conference in Seoul, Hwang called the experience of accepting his award on stage a “once in a lifetime moment” and a “great honor” that was “overwhelming and mind-blowing.” Lee, through a pre-recorded video message at the press conference, said that hearing his name announced at the Emmys was “bewildering.” Expressing his delight and gratitude to fans of Squid Game and Korean content from all over the world, he added: “These wins are a happiness we all share together.”

The increasing global reach of Korean culture — be it television, film, music or food — was a theme the creators, cast and crew of “Squid Game” were all asked about at the presser. “We have always been hard at work,” Hwang said regarding Korean content creators. By leveraging the changing media environment and the entry of digital platforms like Netflix into global markets, the director said the hard work has been able to “blossom into something wonderful.” He hoped the show’s success would inspire and motivate not just Korean creators, but creators worldwide. 

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Prior to the Primetime Emmys, “Squid Game” picked up Creative Arts Emmys for special visual effects in a single episode; stunt performance; production design; and Guest Actress in a Drama Series. This last award was won by Lee You-mi, who became the first South Korean actress to win in this category, and the first actor to do so for a non-English language performance. “Squid Game” is also the first Korean series to be nominated for below-the-line production categories, and the first non-English language show to win at the Creative Arts Emmys.

In fact, the show’s nominations alone have made history at the Emmys. Squid Game is the first non-English-language show to be nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. Hwang was also nominated for outstanding writing for a drama series, making him the first Korean showrunner to score nods for both writing and directing.

Actors Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Jung Ho-yeon, Oh Young-soo and Lee You-mi were all the first native Korean actors to be nominated in their respective categories. As executive producers, Hwang and Kim Ji-yeon became the smallest producing team to be nominated for a drama series since “Murder She Wrote” in 1987.

“It has been a long journey of many surprises, and an emotional rollercoaster,” said executive producer Kim. “Times have changed, and we are truly living in a global era. In the past, only people who spoke Korean and knew about Korean culture would watch our content. Now, platforms like Netflix allow this content to reach so many more people. Through this exposure, our understanding of other cultures has deepened.”

Stunt performer Lee Tae-young echoed the sentiments of Hwang, Lee and Kim when he spoke about his hope that the accolades won by Squid Game would open more doors for Korean creators, performers and crew members. “We pour our heart and soul into our work. We have a lot of grit and passion,” he said. “This award for the stunt team recognizes the efforts of all stunt performers in South Korea, and I hope it will lead to better opportunities for the next generation.”

In June, Netflix confirmed the second season of “Squid Game” was in the works. At the press conference, Hwang revealed that he was currently working on the script for the new season and has decided on the lethal games that will appear in it. But he revealed no further details and urged everyone to keep spoilers to themselves even if they came across rumors online. “You cannot let anyone know,” he urged. “Suspense is a huge part of the experience.”

Netflix to Bow More Than 25 New Korean Shows and Movies in 2022

On the heels of the Korean hit “Squid Game,” Netflix has announced more than 25 upcoming Korean shows and movies for 2022. 

Global viewing hours of Netflix Korean shows grew six-fold last year compared with 2019, according to Netflix. To date, “Squid Game” is the biggest show the service has ever launched, reigning as the most-viewed Netflix show in 94 countries at its peak. In fact, 95% of “Squid Game” viewership came from outside Korea.

Two months after “Squid Game,” Netflix launched “Hellbound,” which had a premiere that clocked 43.48 million viewing hours. “Hellbound” was among the Top 10 Netflix shows in 93 countries, and ranked No. 1 in 34 countries, according to the service. Sci-fi mystery “The Silent Sea” also made it to the No. 1 spot on the weekly non-English Top 10 lists for its premiere.

From 2016 to 2021, Netflix launched more than 130 Korean titles.

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Shows for 2022 include:

  • “All of Us Are Dead,” a series in which zombies invade a high school;
  • “Money Heist: Korea — Joint Economic Area,” an adaptation of the popular Spanish series;
  • Seoul Vibe, an action film where the adventures of a special-ops team take place against the backdrop of the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games;
  • Juvenile Justice, which follows a judge who dislikes juvenile delinquents, later realizing the troubles children face in society;
  • “Twenty Five, Twenty One,” a drama series about youths who lost their dream to the zeitgeist of 1998;
  • “Forecasting Love and Weather,” a romance drama series about people at the Korea Meteorological Administration;
  • “Thirty Nine,” a romance drama series that follows the friendship, love and life of three friends who are about to turn forty;
  • “Tomorrow,” a series about how a long-time unemployed man accidentally bumps into grim reapers on a special mission and becomes a contract worker at their Crisis Management Team;
  • “Business Proposal,” an office romance drama series based on the globally famous web novel and webtoon;
  • The Sound of Magic, based on the popular webtoon “Annarasumanara,” about a girl and a mysterious magician;
  • Remarriage and Desires, a satire of Korean society;
  • The Accidental Narco (working title), based on real-life events about an ordinary entrepreneur who has no choice but to risk his life in joining the secret mission of government agents to capture a Korean drug lord;
  • The Fabulous, a romance that explores the dreams, love and friendship
    of young people who devote their lives to working in the fashion industry;
  • Love to Hate You, about the war-like relationship between a woman who hates losing to men and a man suspicious of women;
  • Somebody, about a murder case revolving around a social dating app;
  • Black Knight, about an air polluted world in 2071, where people depend on respirator masks to breathe;
  • Love and Leashes, about a different kind of romance between a man with a
    unique taste and a woman who stumbles upon his secret;
  • Yaksha: Ruthless Operations, a spy action film about a merciless man
    known as “Yaksha” who crosses paths with a prosecutor on a special inspection mission in Shenyang, a city in China notorious for espionage;
  • Carter, about an agent suffering from memory loss who is thrown
    into the middle of a mysterious mission;
  • 20th Century Girl, about a women who rekindles a teenage romance;
  • JUNG_E, which portrays a desolated Earth in the 22nd century that is no longer inhabitable due to climate change;
  • “Celeb Five: Behind the Curtain,” an unscripted series;
  • A Model Family, about a man on the brink of bankruptcy and divorce stumbling upon a car loaded with cash; and
  • Glitch, about a girl who attempts to track down her missing boyfriend
    with the help of members of a UFO club.

Korean Hit ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ Due on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD May 25 From Well Go

The Korean box office hit Deliver Us From Evil will debut on digital, Blu-ray Disc and DVD May 25 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The film stars Hwang Jung-min (The WailingThe Spy Gone North), Lee Jung-jae (Tazza: One-Eyed JackAlong with the Gods franchise), Park Jeong-min (Svaha: The Sixth Finger), Park Soi (Parasite) and Choi Moon (Anarchist from ColonyOkja).

In the film, after the shocking kidnapping of a little girl in Thailand, a mercenary with a murky past as a government black ops agent (Hwang) is forced to re-emerge from the shadows when he learns the incident is closely connected to him. With the help of expat Yui (Park), he flies to Thailand and begins tracking the girl’s whereabouts, moving ever closer to the notorious child trafficking ring responsible for her abduction. However, when an infamous gangster nicknamed The Butcher (Lee) learns just who has entered the country and is finally within his grasp, he goes on a bloody rampage to thwart the ex-agent’s rescue mission as retaliation for a killing that even he will never be able to forget — or forgive.

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Bonus content includes making-of and filming locations featurettes.

Well Go Acquires Rights to Korea’s ‘Deliver Us From Evil’

Well Go USA Entertainment has acquired North American rights to the Korean film Deliver Us From Evil and will release it in March 2021.

The action thriller debuted at No. 1 at the Korean box office, with total admissions topping 1.3 million in its first four days, according to Well Go.

The film stars Hwang Jung Min (The Wailing), Lee Jung Jae (Svaha: The Sixth Finger) and Park Jeong Min (Tazza: One-Eyed Jack) and is directed by Hong Won Chan, who previously earned a Best Director award from the Busan Film Critics Association for his mystery thriller Office.

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In the film, after the shocking kidnapping of a little girl in Thailand, a mercenary with a murky past as a government black ops agent is forced to re-emerge from the shadows when he learns the incident is closely connected to him. With the help of expat Yui, he flies to Thailand and begins tracking the girl’s whereabouts, moving ever closer to the notorious child trafficking ring responsible for her abduction. However, when an infamous gangster nicknamed The Butcher learns just who has entered the country and is finally within his grasp, he goes on a bloody rampage to thwart the ex-agent’s rescue mission as retaliation for a killing.

Deliver Us From Evil is an action-packed thrill ride from start to finish, which is no surprise thanks to its veteran cast that includes Hwang Jung Min and Lee Jung Jae,” Doris Pfardrescher, president and CEO at Well Go USA Entertainment, said in a statement. “With its stunning action sequences and nonstop suspense to some beautifully executed tender moments, Deliver Us From Evil is a poignant, tough-as-nails thriller that will keep viewers rooting for the good guys to the very end.”

The deal was negotiated by Doris Pfardrescher on behalf of Well Go USA Entertainment and Jerry Kyoungboum KO on behalf of CJ Entertainment.

Netflix Announces Expanded Korean Content Slate

Netflix March 23 announced a new slate of Korean shows — from reality to crime and sci-fi to romance and dramas, among others. The SVOD pioneer, which has long embraced South Korean content, next month (April 10) will bow the first Korean language original movie, Time to Hunt, since the 2017 release of Okja.

“From K-pop and K-food, to K-zombie and K-content, we’ve seen how much people in different parts of the world love Korean cultures and stories,” Minyoung Kim, VPt of Korean content at Netflix, said in a statement. “By making it easy for people to watch films and shows from other countries, we can help them build empathy and develop a shared understanding of the world”.

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Last year, Netflix’s “Crash Landing on You,” a romance about a couple from the two Koreas (North and South) showed the popularity of K-content making the top 10 list in the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.

Earlier this month Netflix began streaming the second season of “Kingdom.” The K-zombie series has again become one of the Top 10 titles in almost every Asian country, according to Netflix.

New Content includes police drama “Rugal,” premiering March 28 in Korea/APAC/all English speaking countries/Latin America; and on May 24 in Japan and the rest of the world. Main cast members include Choi Jin-hyuk and Park Sung-woong.

“Extracurricular,” about a group of high school students who have chosen a life of crime,” streams on April 29, starring Kim Dong-hee, Jung Da-bin, Park Joo-hyun.

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“The King: Eternal Monarch” is a romantic fantasy drama that revolves around relationships of the people from two parallel universes. Cast includes Lee Min-ho, Kim Go-eun, Woo Do-hwan, Kim Kyung-nam, Jung Eun-chae.

“It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” is about an unusual romance between two people who end up healing each other’s emotional and psychological wounds. The show premiers in June starring Kim Soo-hyun and Seo Ye-ji, among others.

Netflix series in suspended production include: “Twogether,” featuring two top celebrities from Seoul and Taipei who go on a trip to several cities in Asia to meet their fans and become friends. Cast: Lee Seung-gi, Jasper Liu.

In “The School Nurse Files,” a newly appointed high school nurse discovers secrets and mysteries with her supernatural abilities of chasing ghosts. Cast: Jung Yu-mi, Nam Joo-hyuk.

“Sweet Home,” about a reclusive high school student, moves into an old apartment complex after the tragic death of his entire family. He soon realizes complex residents, including himself, are trapped and surrounded by monsters in various forms of distorted human desires, which are about to sweep away mankind. Cast include Song Kang, Lee Jin-wook, Lee Si-young.

Currently streaming: “Itaewon Class,” about a group of youths, held together by their mutual stubbornness and bravado, start a “cool” revolt against an irrational world.

“Hyena,” about a jaded female lawyer willing to use every last sexy trick in the book to make money, no matter how evil the means can be. Other titles include, “Hi Bye, Mama!,” “Hospital Playlist,” “Kingdom S2” and “My Holo Love.”

 

Korean Musical Drama ‘Swing Kids’ Swinging to Blu-ray June 18 From Well Go

The Korean musical drama Swing Kids is heading to Blu-ray June 18 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

In the film set during the Korean War, the soldiers at a POW camp plan a tap show to distract both themselves and the prisoners from the hardships of war. Led by a former Broadway dancer and a rebellious North Korean soldier, the band of prisoners finds a new sense of freedom in dancing. Music in the film includes “Shout” (The Isley Brothers) “Modern Love” (David Bowie) “Sing Sing Sing” (Benny Goodman) and “Free as a Bird” (The Beatles).

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