MONEY HEIST: KOREA – Joint Economic Area

FOLLOWING the success of the survival-themed series Squid Game and the supernatural drama Hellbound, Netflix announced that it will be offering over 20 new Korean titles in 2022 amid growing interest in shows from South Korea.

In a statement, Kang Don-han, Netflix VP of Content for Korea, said that “global viewing hours of our Korean shows grew six-fold last year compared to 2019.”

“Credit for this growing global interest goes to the talented Korean creators we have been working with for the past few years. From 2016 to 2021, we launched more than 130 Korean titles. As a result, Netflix has become a compelling destination for fans of Korean content, who know that this is the home of diverse and high-quality Korean storytelling,” Mr. Kang said.

Squid Game is the biggest Korean series on the online streaming platform to date. It was the most viewed Netflix show in 94 countries at its peak in September to Oct. 2021, with 95% of its viewership coming from outside Korea.

Squid Game is a drama thriller that follows the cash-strapped participants in a survival game who compete in a series of deadly children’s games in the hopes of winning a whopping 45.6-billion-won prize.

Following Squid Game’s success came the supernatural drama Hellbound, with its premiere recording 43.48 million viewing hours. Hellbound was among the Top 10 Netflix shows in 93 countries and ranked number one in 34 countries. Another Korean show, the sci-fi mystery The Silent Sea, also reached the number one spot on the weekly non-English Top 10 list on its premiere.

With the increasing viewership, Netflix will be offering over 20 Korean shows this year.

The slate of Korean content includes series such as All of Us Are Dead (premieres Jan. 28) where zombies invade a high school; the love story of a young couple in Twenty Five, Twenty One; the romance drama Forecasting Love and Weather about people at the Korea Meteorological Administration (Feb. 12); and the romance drama Thirty Nine (Feb. 16) about the friendship, love, and life of three friends who are about to turn 40. Other upcoming shows include Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area, an adaptation of the popular Spanish series, and Black Knight, which illustrates an air polluted world in 2071, where people depend on respirator masks to breathe.

The new Korean films are: Love and Leashes, which is about a different kind of romance between a man with a unique taste and a woman who stumbles upon his secret; the spy action film Yaksha: Ruthless Operations which follows a merciless man who crosses paths with a prosecutor on a special inspection mission in Shenyang, a Chinese city notorious for espionage; Carter, about an agent suffering from memory loss who is thrown into the middle of a mysterious mission; The 20th Century Girl, which narrates the lives of twentysomethings; JUNG_E, which portrays a desolated Earth in the 22nd century that is no longer habitable due to climate change; and, Seoul Vibe, which follows adventures of a special-ops team against the backdrop of the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

Aside from series and films, there will be an unscripted comedy show, Celeb Five: Behind the Curtain, which will follow an all-girl comedian group Celeb Five (Kim Shin-young, Song Eun-yi, Shin Bong-sun, Ahn Young-mi) as they go on marathons and meetings while planning a stage show  on Netflix.

“We believe this is a slate that showcases more of the inventive and gripping Korean storytelling that the world has come to love. To do that, we will continue to invest in Korea’s creative ecosystem and, together, we will keep on showing the world that ‘Made in Korea’ means ‘Well-Made,’” Mr. Kang said.

“This year, we look forward to the new conversations that will be sparked by a new wave of stories, as we help Korean content find homes in the hearts and minds of our global audience.” he said. — MAPS