Netflix to invest US$2.5 billion in South Korean content over next four years

PHOTO: Unsplash

Netflix has unveiled ambitious plans to invest US$2.5 billion in South Korean content over the next four years, following a meeting between the streaming giant’s CEO Ted Sarandos and South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol in Washington. The announcement comes as South Korea’s star continues to ascend as a global cultural heavyweight, bolstered by the phenomenal success of the Oscar-winning film “Parasite” and the hit Netflix series “Squid Game.”

Sarandos said…

“Netflix is delighted to confirm that we will invest US$2.5 billion in Korea, including the creation of Korean series, films, and unscripted shows over the next four years. This investment plan is twice the total amount Netflix has invested in the Korean market since we started our service in Korea in 2016.”

The CEO expressed “great confidence” in South Korea’s creative industry and its ability to continue producing captivating stories that resonate with audiences worldwide. Citing the global popularity of recent hits like “The Glory” and the reality show “Physical 100,” Sarandos declared that South Korea’s stories now sit squarely at the centre of the global cultural zeitgeist.

In supported data, Netflix revealed that more than 60% of its viewers watched a show from South Korea in 2022. The platform has already spent over 1 trillion won (US$750 million) developing and promoting Korean content between 2015 and 2021 – and had previously indicated that it would expand its output of South Korean shows, albeit without revealing specific spending figures.

President Yoon, who is currently on a six-day state visit, expressed his gratitude and optimism following what he dubbed a “very meaningful” meeting with Sarandos. According to a transcript shared with AFP by Yoon’s office, the president stated that Netflix’s latest investment “will be a great opportunity for the Korean content industry, creators, and Netflix. We sincerely welcome Netflix’s exceptional investment decision.”

President Yoon is also set to meet with US President Joe Biden tomorrow to further strengthen ties between the two nations.

Regina Kim, an entertainment writer and K-content expert based in New York City, hailed Netflix’s choice to increase investment in the Korean market as a “wise decision,” given the platform’s track record in distributing South Korean content to global audiences.

Kim said…

“Netflix has played a huge role in disseminating K-culture and K-content around the world.”

With this renewed commitment, Areum Jeong, a film expert and visiting scholar at Robert Morris University, predicted that viewers around the globe “will continue to witness Netflix’s Korean contents change the landscape of global screen culture.”

However, the blockbuster investment may raise concerns over Netflix’s growing dominance in the South Korean market as local streaming services struggle to compete against the streaming giant’s expanding influence, warns Jason Bechervaise, a Seoul-based film scholar.

Netflix has also found itself at the centre of a contentious “usage fee” debate in South Korea, as the country’s internet companies are pushing major data users like the streaming heavyweight to contribute more towards bandwidth costs – a proposition that Netflix has staunchly opposed.

World News

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!