Netflix to invest $500m in South Korean shows this year

'Over the last two years, we’ve seen the world falling in love with incredible Korean content,' said Ted Sarandos, co-chief executive of the streaming service

The Silent Sea. Courtesy Netflix

Netflix has announced plans to invest $500 million in 2021 on films and television series produced in South Korea.

Korean filmmakers and stars gathered in Seoul for the “See What’s Next Korea” event on Thursday, where the US streaming service announced its investment plans and also previewed images from its upcoming slate of shows from the country.

“Over the last two years, we’ve seen the world falling in love with incredible Korean content, made in Korea and watched by the world on Netflix,” Ted Sarandos, co-chief executive and chief content officer at Netflix, said via video at the event.

Squid Game. Courtesy Netflix

To date, Netflix has produced over 80 original Korean films and shows, building on its early success from its first original: Kim Eun-hee's 2019 period zombie thriller series Kingdom.

Over a dozen Korean actors and directors joined Netflix to promote previously announced Korean originals that will be premiering on the service this year.

  • Among them were stars Bae Doona and Lee Joon of The Silent Sea, a sci-fi series about a team sent to an abandoned research facility on the moon; director Yeon Sang-ho (Train to Busan) and the cast of his supernatural thriller series Hellbound, including Yoo Ah-in, Park Jung-min, Kim Hyun-joo, Won Jin-ah and Yang Ik-june; and the cast of Squid Game, a thriller about the participants in a secret survival game with a $40 million prize.

"Audiences around the world are falling in love with Korean stories, artists, and culture. The K-Wave, or Hallyu as we call it here in Korea, is a huge moment of national pride and we’re proud to be part of it," said Minyoung Kim, Netflix's vice president of content for Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia & New Zealand.

She added: "Great Korean stories are nothing new, in fact storytelling is deeply rooted in Korean culture. But today we live in a world where Parasite is an Academy Award best picture winner, Blackpink plays Coachella, and over 22 million households tune into a horror TV series, Sweet Home."