Netflix to drop $2.5bn on Korean content after ‘Squid Game’ mania

Announcement comes as South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol is on a six-day visit to the United States. 

A scene from South Korea's "Squid Game" Season one.
Netflix series "Squid Game" became the streaming site's most popular show of all time [Youngkyu Park/AFP]

Netflix has announced it will spend $2.5bn on South Korean content in the latest sign of Korean culture’s explosive popularity worldwide.

CEO Ted Sarandos made the announcement on Monday following a meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who is on a six-day visit to the United States.

“We were able to make this decision because we have great confidence that the Korean creative industry will continue to tell great stories,” Sarandos said in a statement.

Yoon hailed the announcement as a “great opportunity” for Korean creators and Netflix.

South Korean film and music have gained global renown in recent years amid the stunning success of K-pop acts, including BTS and Blackpink, and films such as the Oscar-winning “Parasite”.

Netflix series “Squid Game”, which tells the story of indebted contestants in a deadly competition for a cash prize, became the streaming service’s most-watched show of all time upon its release in 2021, quickly racking up more than 1.6 billion views.

More recently, Korean-produced “The Glory”, a drama about a woman seeking revenge on her bullies from school, and “Physical:100”, a reality fitness competition, have ranked among the popular shows on the site.

More than six in 10 Netflix viewers watched a South Korean-produced program on the site in 2022, according to company data.

Sarandos said the investment reflected Netflix’s confidence that South Korean creators would “continue to tell great stories”.

“It is incredible that the love towards Korean shows has led to a wider interest in Korea, thanks to the Korean creators’ compelling stories,” he said.

“Their stories are now at the heart of the global cultural zeitgeist.”

South Korea’s cultural exports, including music, video games and films, hit a record high of $12.4bn in 2021, according to government figures.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies