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 to 2019, according to Netflix. To date, “Squid Game” is the biggest show the service have ever launched, reigning as the most viewed Netflix show in 94 countries at its peak. In fact, 95% of Squid Game’s 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.

ViacomCBS Inks Streaming Production/Distribution Deal With South Korea’s CJ ENM

ViacomCBS Dec. 7 announced a partnership with South Korean distributor CJ ENM that includes co-productions for original series and movies, content licensing and distribution across ViacomCBS’s and CJ ENM’s streaming services.

Paramount+ will debut in South Korea in 2022 as an exclusive bundle with TVING, CJ ENM’s streaming service, marking its first entry to the Asian market.

South Korea has become a hit factory for movies and TV series following the Oscar success of Parasite, and recent Netflix original series successes with “Squid Game” and “Hellbound.”

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“Korean entertainment has become a cultural juggernaut with unprecedented demand, and CJ ENM is behind some of the biggest international hits that transcend borders, including Academy Award-winning film Parasite,” Dan Cohen, president of the global distribution group for ViacomCBS, said in a statement.

As part of the pact, Paramount Television Studios and CJ ENM/Studio Dragon will co-develop and co-produce English-language scripted series based on CJ ENM/Studio Dragon’s titles for Paramount+. The two companies will also co-develop and co-finance movies for theatrical and streaming releases with the plan to distribute one theatrical movie a year in various territories.

ViacomCBS and TVING will co-finance new Korean series for global distribution on Paramount+, with the streamer licensing Korean-language series from CJ ENM’s IP library.

Separately, ViacomCBS’s free ad-supported streaming television service Pluto TV will launch a dedicated CJ ENM branded channel on Dec. 14 featuring K-content for U.S. audiences.

“We are focused on the rapid expansion of Paramount+ in markets around the world,” said Raffaele Annecchino, CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International. “Our strategic partnership with TVING enables us to accelerate Paramount+ subscriber growth while bringing more premium content to audiences in this important market.”

‘Escape From Mogadishu’ Due on Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 18 From Well Go

The Korean film Escape From Mogadishu will be available on Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 18 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Based on a true story, the film takes place as civil war rages in Mogadishu, Somalia. Rival North and South Korean diplomats are left trapped. With no aid from either government, their only shot at survival may require uniting with bitter adversaries to escape.

The film won six awards (out of 10 nominations) at the 30th Buil Film Awards, including Best Film and Best Screenplay (Ryoo Seung-wan, Ki-cheol Lee). The film received the most nominations of any film this year. In addition, the Korean Association of Film Critics Awards named Ryoo Seung-wan Best Director, plus awarded the film trophies for Best Supporting Actor (Huh Joon-ho), Best Cinematography (Choi Young-hwan) and Best Music (Bang Jun-seok).

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South Korean ISP Wants Netflix to Pay More for Broadband

On the heels of Netflix’s global hit “Squid Game,” a legal battle between the world’s largest subscription streaming operator and a South Korean ISP has reignited the debate over net neutrality laws in the country.

Specifically, SK Broadband, the high-speed internet distributor of SK Telecom in South Korea, recently filed a countersuit against Netflix demanding the streamer pay for increased usage put on the network by its programs such as “Squid Game,” “Kingdom,” “#Alive,” “Itaewon Class,” “Sweet Home” and “D.P.,” among others.

In late June, the Seoul Central District Court dismissed Netflix’s claim and ruled that SK Broadband had the legal right to seek compensation — an amount to be determined through negotiation between the two companies.

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Currently, Netflix doesn’t pay for its 3.8 million subscribers using upwards of 10% of South Korea’s broadband capacity streaming “Squid Game,” the horror-themed dystopian game show that has been watched by more than 142 million Netflix households since launching Sept. 17.

The debate has also ushered in political action within the government regarding tax payments and other expenses foreign companies generate doing business in the country.

In an Oct. 24 blog post, Dean Garfield, VP, global public policy at Netflix, argues SK Broadband’s fiscal demands would stifle Netflix’s ability to make a profit in the region, in addition to the streamer’s ongoing investment in local content production — it values at more than $1 billion.

“‘Squid Game’ is just the beginning,” Garfield wrote. “We appreciate what Koreans have long understood. There is so much more where this story came from. But, unfortunately we have come to a crossroads … where internet gatekeepers could get to decide if the next great Korean story can be watched, and loved, by the world. Why would anyone want that? That is the question.”

To counter claims worldwide that Netflix’s popularity puts strains on local ISP networks, the streamer has long advocated ISPs employ its free open-connect cache servers to help alleviate the strain its subscriber’s usage. It enables Netflix content to be stored as close as possible to subscriber homes, avoids clogging up the internet, saving ISPs upwards of $1.2 billion in related usage costs, according to the streamer.

“The overwhelming majority of our ISP partners around the world use Open Connect, because why wouldn’t they?” writes Garfield. “We deliver it to them for free. It’s proven to reduce at least 95% of network traffic, leaving lots of room for other content to go through.”

Meanwhile, some South Korean lawmakers allege Netflix has shifted much of its localized revenue to a Dutch holding company to reduce its tax burden. Netflix in 2020 generated about 415.4 billion won ($355 million) in revenue, realizing a profit of $7.5 million. Lawmakers contend Netflix reduced its tax burden to 2.1 billion won ($1.8 million) through its offshore accounting maneuver.

Netflix: ‘Squid Game’ Reached 111 Million First-Month Viewers; Tops for Streamer

The South Korean survival series “Squid Game” is now Netflix’s all-time ratings winner.

The streaming pioneer has announced (via social media) that the nine-part series generated 111 million viewers worldwide in its first 28 days on the platform in September — a new record.

Netflix’s previous record holder, “Bridgerton,” generated 82 million viewers in its first month of release on Dec. 25, 2020. Netflix tracks a viewer after 120 seconds of continuous streaming.

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Upon its launch, “Squid Game” — a dystopian game show slasher/horror drama that finds contestants fighting to the death for a chance to make money — was dubbed by Netflix into 30 languages and marketed worldwide.

A similar strategy paid off for other original programs, including Spain’s “Money Heist,” Germany’s “Dark” and France’s “Lupin.”

“Squid Game” was written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk and stars Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, Jung Ho-yeon, O Yeong-su, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam Tripathi, and Kim Joo-ryoung. It was released worldwide Sept. 17.

The series revolves around a contest in which 456 players from all walks of life, but each deeply in debt, compete against each other in various children’s games for a cash purse, with deadly penalties for the losers.

On Oct. 13 the Wall Street Journal reported that the program was blasted on a North Korean propaganda site as “beastly,” and indicative of a South Korean society “where only money matters.”

Korean Epic ‘The Swordsman’ Bows on Digital and Disc Feb. 16

The Korean action film The Swordsman will swing to digital, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 16 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

In the hybrid of mainstream historical drama and traditional martial arts action, after failing to protect and prevent the downfall of the King, the best swordsman in Joseon leaves and lives in seclusion with his daughter in the mountains. As his eyesight begins to fail due to an old injury, his daughter seeks to find a treatment for him. When she is captured and taken away by a slave trader, the swordsman is forced to raise his sword again in order to save her.

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The Swordsman was directed by Choi Jae-hoon and stars Jang Hyuk as the main character.

The film was released theatrically in South Korea in September. The Swordsman was invited to the 40th annual Hawaii International Film Festival and was picked as the opening film in the 2020 Korean Indonesian Film Festival.

 

‘Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula’ Due on Digital Oct. 27, Disc Nov. 24 From Well Go

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula, the follow-up to the South Korean zombie thriller Train to Busan, will come out on digital Oct. 27, in time for Halloween, from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The film will subsequently be released in a 4K Ultra Combo Pack and a Blu-ray Disc combo pack, as well as on standard DVD, on Nov. 24.

In director Yeon Sang-ho’s sequel, a former soldier, who previously escaped the diseased wasteland, relives the horror when assigned to a covert operation, returning to the Peninsula on a secret mission. When his team encounters survivors, their lives will depend on whether the best — or worst — of human nature prevails.

The film stars Gang Dong-won, Lee Jung-hyun, Kwon Hae-hyo, Kim Min-je, Koo Gyo-hwan, Kim Do-yoon, Lee Re and Lee Ye-won.

Bonus content includes a making-of featurette, interviews with cast and crew, and an all-new English dub.

The film will debut on the subscription service Shudder in 2021.

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Futuresource: Premium VOD, SVOD Drive South Korean Market

Largely a non-starter in the United States, premium VOD has gained traction in South Korea with consumers renting new-release movies in the home four weeks after their theatrical debut.

New data from Futuresource Consulting finds that eight years of Premium VOD distribution has propelled South Korea (an early hotspot for the coronavirus) to become one of the top transactional VOD markets in the world.

With the majority of cinemas around the world closed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, studios (including in the U.S.) are now testing the opportunities in straight-to-home early digital video delivery. The Korean market remains a relevant global case study for countries now looking to adopt similar learnings within the home entertainment space, according to Futuresource.

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“Super Premium VOD in South Korea has allowed for early monetization by capitalizing on existing hype and marketing spend around each film,” market analyst Tristan Veale said in a statement. “However, throughout 2019 we saw some studios pulling out of these early windows altogether, with others reducing the number of titles offered. In light of the current global situation, this practice will see renewed interest.”

Despite transactional VOD strength in South Korea, the SVOD market is also set to soar, with consumer spend increasing 61% since 2019, almost equal to transactional home video. Veale said that’s because South Koreans are comfortable with subscribing to access premium content, paired with the well-supported infrastructure that already exists.

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“When it comes to the key players, Netflix accounts for nearly half of SVOD consumer spend and service subscriptions in the country,” Veale said. “Its focus on acquiring local-language content to develop a strong library of Korean content to build and retain a local audience, has led to this success, providing a near-continuous release of new series, movies and additional seasons, with Korean content also appealing to international territories.”

To combat Netflix’s rapid growth, major IPTV players such as Korea Telecom, SK Broadband and LG U+ are taking a variety of strategic stepsto improve their SVOD offerings, either through partnerships with Netflix or local SVOD players and broadcasters.

“SK Telecom has combined its video streaming service Oksusu with mobile on-demand service Pooq, owned by three local broadcasters, to create Wavve,” Veale said. “Wavve has a significantly advanced SVOD offering as a result of the backing of four major players.”

The high demand for exclusive content means that the outlook for SVOD in South Korea remains promising, according to Veale. South Korea’s pay-TV operator-dominated market will continue to forge local partnerships in a bid to generate the best home-grown video service possible.

“In this current climate, where people are forced to spend more time indoors, we expect to see a further rise in Premium VOD, buoyed by international support, along with rapid uptake of the new and existing SVOD services,” Veale said.

Korean Animated Adventure ‘A Dog’s Courage’ Due on Digital April 14

The South Korean animated family film A Dog’s Courage will debut on digital  April 14 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The film follows Jacob, a feisty and playful dog abandoned by his owners. He joins a pack of strays that embarks on a journey filled with adventures and life lessons in their pursuit to find a new and loving home, finding the perfect place of safety and peace, the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

The film is available in both the original Korean and an all-new English dub.

Directed by Chun-Baek Lee and Oh Sung-Yoon (Leafie, a Hen Into the Wild), A Dog’s Courage was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 2019 Asia Pacific Screen Awards. 

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‘Parasite’ Surges to Four Oscar Wins

The South Korean film Parasite was a surprise winner at the 92nd Academy Awards Feb. 9, taking four Oscars, including Best Picture, the first non-English film to win the top prize.

The dark satirical look at class struggles in South Korea also was the surprising winner of Best Director for Bong Joon Ho, who also won for Best Original Screenplay. As expected, the film won for Best International Film.

Bong Joon Ho was widely touted in the media for tying Walt Disney’s 1953 record of winning four Oscars in one night, though officially he goes in the books with three, as International Film is awarded to a country (South Korea in this case) and not an individual, although Bong accepted the trophy on behalf of the film.

The film is available now through digital retailers, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD.

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The favorite before the night, Universal’s World War I film 1917, won three Oscars, including Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Mixing.

Warner’s Joker, readily available on disc and digital, won Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix and Best Original Score for Hildur Guðnadóttir.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood won Best Supporting Actor for Brad Pitt and Best Production Design. The film is available for home viewing from Sony Pictures.

Ford v Ferrari, which arrives on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD on Tuesday, Feb. 11, also won two awards, Best Sound Editing and Best Film Editing.

Rocketman, available now for home viewing from Paramount, won Best Original Song for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Best Actress went to Renée Zellweger for playing Judy Garland in Judy, which is available now on home video from Lionsgate.

Toy Story 4, available for home video viewing from Disney, won Best Animated Feature.

Bombshell won for Makeup and Hair Styling. The film will arrive digitally Feb. 25, and on Blu-ray and DVD March 10.

Jojo Rabbit, available now digitally, and on Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 18, won Best Adapted Screenplay for Taika Waititi.

Columbia’s Little Women won Best Costume Design.

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Two Netflix movies ended up winning one Oscar apiece. Marriage Story won Best Supporting Actress for Laura Dern, and American Factory, from the Obamas’ production company, won Best Documentary.

Netflix’s lauded The Irishman, from director Martin Scorsese, had earned 10 nominations but walked away empty-handed.

Both Marriage Story and The Irishman are heading for Blu-ray and DVD later this year from the Criterion Collection.