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Netflix Korea VP introduces 25 upcoming Korean-language originals

Jan. 19, 2022 - 17:35 By Song Seung-hyun
Kang Dong-han, vice president of content at Netflix Korea (Netflix)
Kang Dong-han, vice president of content at Netflix Korea, on Wednesday introduced 25 new Korean original content works that the streaming platform will introduce in 2022 with an expectation to see more successful cases like the global hit series “Squid Game.”

“Last year was special, as Oh Young-soo who won the Golden Globes said, it was no longer ‘us in the world’, but ‘the world in us’,” Kang said during a press conference held via Zoom with local reporters on Wednesday.

Over 140 local reporters participated in this press conference, reflecting the great interest in Netflix’s new content and strategy.

“The global viewing time of Korean works increased by six times last year,” Kang noted.

Kang revealed that in 2022, the the platform will release 25 original Korean content works, significantly up from 15 in 2021.

“Although I can't specifically say how much we are investing in Korean content this year, I can say we have invested 1 trillion won ($838.7 billion) since we entered the Korean market, and last year alone we spent 500 billion won. If we released 15 original works last year and will release 25 this year, I imagine you have a good idea of a ballpark figure," he said.

When asked which of the upcoming works he is the most excited to present to the global audiences, Kang pointed to the dystopian zombie series ”All Of Us Are Dead.”

“I am usually most excited about our nearest release, which at the moment is ‘All Of Us Are Dead, slated to release on Jan. 28, Kang said. “Many people might say they’ve seen enough zombie films, but as a person who watched the show, it is fun. The show is set in a school and shows situations that are unique to Koreans and it was fresh.”

Kang also mentioned the crime thriller series “Juvenile Justice,” starring Kim Hye-soo and Lee Sung-min coming out in February and the romance film “Moral Sense” which will be released around Valentine’s day as the contents that he is looking forward to presenting.

Netflix’s 25 new content list also includes the fantasy series ”The Sound of Magic“ starring Ji Chang-wook and ”Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area,“ a Korean adaptation of the hit Spanish series ”Money Heist.”

Moreover, there are also five Korean original films, including the aforementioned “Moral Sense,” the action film ”Carter,“ the action blockbuster ”Seoul Vibe,“ the sci-fi film ”Jung-E“ and the romance ”20th Century Girl.“ These Korean films are produced together from the beginning for the first time with Netflix.

During the Q&A session, Kang was also asked about increasing number of competitors in Korea.

“I don’t think that this is a zero-sum game,” Kang said. “I think the streaming industry will grow further. Just five years ago, there were only a few outlets where we can consume content. I think having more streaming platforms will lead to having more entertaining content and this will also lead to more investment in content, which I think will form a virtuous cycle.”

He was also asked about what he thinks of local streaming platform Tving’s plan to expand abroad this year.

“Tving has a special place in my heart because before I joined Netflix, I used to work for CJ ENM,” Kang said. “For Korean content to become globally successful, there have to be experts making right strategic decisions. There also has to be a large-scale investment and globalization strategy, subbing and subtitle services. I think whether they can provide the right services that can deliver the original intention of the creators would be the key to their success.”

Kang added that Netflix is confident about its business here, saying that it understands the Korean content creating ecosystem well as it has many experts in the field as well as past six years of experience cooperating with local content creators.
Netflix‘s 2022 lineup of Korean content (Netflix)
Kang also talked about criticisms that Korean content is receiving from global viewers due to different cultural standards.

“We are putting a lot of thought into how to deal with this matter. It has not been long since streaming business appeared and in the process of its development we found out that certain factors are culturally acceptable in Korea but it is not in other countries,” Kang said. “As the cases pile up, we are learning from them with a humble attitude.”