Netflix bets big on Korean content

The streaming giant’s 2023 lineup will include 34 new and returning South Korean titles – its largest number to date.

Netflix has announced it was taking its K-content to “new heights” as a global appeal for Korean cultural exports continues to hold. According to the company, over 60% of all Netflix members watched Korean titles last year.

“The global popularity of K-content has continued apace over 2022, with Netflix bringing a wider variety of stories and genres to fans around the world,” Don Kang, the company’s vice president for Korean content, said in a statement.

“Over the last year, Korean series and films have regularly featured in our Global Top 10 list in more than 90 countries, and three of Netflix’s most-watched shows ever are from Korea,” Kang said.

Extraordinary Attorney Woo, a legal drama about an autistic lawyer, was Netlifx’s most-streamed non-English language show in 2022, while survival drama Squid Game, which premiered in 2021, remains its most-watched series ever.

The Glory, a revenge thriller released on December 30, was Netflix’s most-watched non-English language TV show and third overall during the week starting January 2, with more than 82 million viewing hours.

Still from The Glory. Image by Netflix

With its second part coming in March, The Glory is among the Korean titles returning to Netflix this year. These will also include old favorites Sweet Home, an apocalyptic horror series, and the military drama D.P.

The new series will run the gamut of romance, social commentary, drama, and science fiction, Netflix said. Korean content will also include more films and more unscripted shows.

“There’s truly a series, a film, or an unscripted show for everyone,” Kang said.

This year’s slate of K-content follows some 25 titles released last year and 15 the year before.

The company did not disclose how much it is spending on new productions. In 2021, it said it was planning to invest half a billion dollars into Korean content in addition to the $700 million it had spent since 2016.

According to its most recent earnings report, Netflix added 2.4 million paid subscribers in the third quarter of last year. Asia-Pacific accounted for 1.4 million of those, making it the company’s fastest-growing region.

With the market in the US increasingly saturated, Netflix is continuing to invest overseas. It has recently announced a multi-picture deal with the Tokyo-based studio Babel Label and opened an office in the Polish capital Warsaw late last year as a hub for further expansion in Central and Eastern Europe.