Netflix entered South Korea in 2016, but it wasn’t till 2019, that they realised the potential of K-dramas and Korean movies dominating South-East Asia. Since 2016, $700 million has been spent on producing Netflix originals and getting rights of Korean content for the giant streaming platform. To get ahead of the Hallyu Wave and the sudden competition from Disney+ along with Amazon Prime that has entered almost every Asian country, Netflix decided to invest $500 million in South Korea on 24th February, 2021.
By 2020, South Korea had 3.8 million dedicated Netflix subscribers. However, “Kingdom” was the first Netflix original K-drama that became such a hit that it started trending in almost every Asian country, including India and ended up getting more than the usual 1 season treatment. South Korean content has transcended its country to such an extent that its films and shows actually accrue 15% of the revenue from Asia and Pacific countries. These majorly include Australia, Japan and India apart from South Korea. It ended up bringing more than 25 million Netflix users in these regions.
With the meagre investment of $700 million over 4 years, we got more than 200 original dramas and films. So, what does the new deal mean for us desi K-drama and Korean film lovers? From creating more Netflix originals like “Itaewon Class” and “Love Alarm” to acquiring Korean network dramas like “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (Goblin)” and “Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth,” we are going to get even more K-dramas and films. Take, for example, the very first Korean sitcom, “So Not Worth It.” Starring idols like GOT7’s Youngjae and (G)I-DLE’s Minnie, as well as renowned actors like Park Se-wan and Shin Hyun-seung, it’s Netflix’s first step into completely new territory. And Netflix isn’t afraid to experiment since they’re confident that by the end of this year, Korean content is going to end up being responsible for 17% of the revenue.
Don’t believe us? Check out your Netflix homepage. In just a week, “Vincenzo” is already in the Top 10 TV shows of Netflix India. The number of Indian viewers watching K-dramas is gradually increasing. Even those who do not generally watch Korean content end up getting recommendations like “Space Sweepers” and “Start Up.” Apart from the Hallyu Wave catching up in India, according to Kim Minyoung (VP of Content for Korea and Southeast Asia), even though the films and shows are deeply rooted in Korean culture, there is a universal appeal. The horror drama, “Sweet Home” was one of the most successful dramas on Netflix India along with last year’s “Crash Landing On You” and “Run On.” “Hospital Playlist,” which trended on Indian Twitter, in fact, ended up being renewed for a second season along with “Kingdom’s” spin-off. With over 200 million subscribers in India (thanks to our large population), even if 50% of us tune in, the shows are bound to be a hit. Do you agree that this is a smart move? Let us know in the comments below!