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Experience the ‘Korean Wave’: The most effective exhibits to stream on Netflix | Leisure

On his first official go to to the USA this week, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s first assembly was not together with his counterpart Joe Biden.

As a substitute, he met with Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos.

After the assembly, the US streaming big introduced it might make investments $2.5bn in Korean content material over the following 4 years, which is double the quantity that Netflix has to this point spent in South Korea.

Sarandos mentioned South Korean tales are “now on the coronary heart of the worldwide cultural zeitgeist” as greater than 60 % of Netflix’s 233 million subscribers all over the world are watching South Korean movies, dramas and actuality exhibits, in response to firm knowledge.

Netflix shouldn’t be the one streaming platform that’s seeking to capitalise on the “Korean wave”. Disney+, Apple TV and Asia-based ViuTV are additionally growing investments in South Korea and internet hosting extra Ok-content.

One massive quantity that stands out is for the colossally profitable Netflix unique sequence Squid Recreation. It was the streaming platform’s most-watched non-English language sequence of all time with a complete of 1.65 billion hours watched. As compared, Netflix’s most-watched English language sequence, Stranger Issues (season 4), was watched a complete of 1.35 billion hours.

Together with Squid Recreation, the highest 10 within the non-English class options three different Korean sequence: All of Us Are Lifeless, The Glory (season one) and Extraordinary Lawyer Woo.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol meets with Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos during a news conference in Washington, U.S., April 25, 2023.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol met with Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos in Washington, DC on April 25, 2023 [File: Yonhap via Reuters]

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Listed here are a few of Netflix’s latest Ok-content hits we advocate:

1. The Glory (seasons one and two)

The Glory is a 16-episode Korean drama starring veteran actress Music Hye-kyo. It tells the story of a lady who suffered years of horrific abuse in highschool and spent most of her grownup life placing an elaborate revenge scheme into movement to make the perpetrators pay for his or her crimes. It was launched in two components and was the most-watched present on Netflix for 2 straight weeks in March, performing close to the highest of the charts in additional than 90 nations.

It helped spur a crackdown on bullying in South Korea, the place the present had a profound affect, with the federal government saying new strict steps to fight aggression of this sort in faculties. College students with data of bullying could have that mirrored of their faculty software course of beginning in 2026.

“We are able to not tolerate rampant college violence,” Prime Minister Han Duck-soo advised reporters at a briefing on the matter earlier this month. In a separate assertion, he cited the Glory and mentioned the excessive curiosity within the present “displays the general public’s stern voice”. Among the most violent acts of bullying that happen within the drama are additionally based mostly on true occasions.

College bullying is a contentious situation in South Korea and it’s changing into more and more widespread for celebrities accused of bullying to be confronted with severe penalties. Simply final 12 months, Ok-pop firm HYBE (which incorporates teams akin to BTS and ENHYPEN) dropped then-16-year-old Kim Ga-ram, a former member of the profitable lady group Le Sserafim, after she was accused of verbally abusing her classmates.

2. Bodily 100

It’s not simply Ok-dramas which can be charming audiences. Bodily 100 is a nine-episode actuality survival present that brings collectively 100 of South Korea’s greatest athletes from varied disciplines – each women and men – to compete in a sequence of gruelling challenges for the title of essentially the most spectacular physique. Among the many contestants are Olympians, health influencers, and even a firefighter and a jail guard.

Bodily 100 was the primary actuality sequence to high Netflix’s chart for non-English language TV exhibits. The streaming platform has not but introduced plans for a second season.

3. Extraordinary Lawyer Woo

This courtroom drama with an uncommon protagonist, a younger feminine lawyer with autism working at a high regulation agency in Seoul, is without doubt one of the hottest non-English sequence ever on Netflix.

The 16-episode drama starring Park Eun-bin has triggered a debate, nonetheless, with some saying it’s far faraway from the fact of these dwelling with autism in South Korea. Some viewers with members of the family on the autism spectrum mentioned the character’s portrayal was unrealistic and over-dramatised.

Nevertheless, others have mentioned it has raised consciousness and drawn consideration to these on the autism spectrum, who say they usually really feel invisible. In South Korea, data and consciousness of autism continues to be reasonably restricted, and people with high-functioning autism usually stay undiagnosed.

4. Alchemy of Souls

This 30-episode fantasy epic from famous person writing duo the Hong Sisters, who’ve written hit dramas akin to A Korean Odyssey, Lodge del Luna, Grasp’s Solar and plenty of others, was launched in two components. It’s exhausting to summarise the intricate plot of Alchemy of Souls, which revolves round a bunch of mages within the fictional land of Daeho – based mostly on historic Korea – who shield the universe from a darkish magic generally known as the alchemy of souls.

Those that have mastered this darkish magic can swap souls with one other physique, usually by pressure and for causes akin to greed, energy or everlasting life. And it comes at a devastating value: a “soul-shifter” who has “run wild”, should feed on others’ souls to outlive.

The primary characters are a notoriously expert murderer Nak-su (portrayed by veteran actress Jung So-min in season one and rookie actress Go Youn-jung in season two), who unintentionally shifts her soul into the physique of a blind girl, and Jang Uk (portrayed by Lee Jae-wook), an aspiring mage whose father suppressed his capability to forged spells. Their fates intertwine as Jang Uk recognises Nak-su in her new physique and strikes a discount along with her to coach him to unlock his magical potential.

The fantasy romance turned a Netflix sensation and stored viewers engaged sufficient to return for the second season. It was one of many most-watched fantasy sequence on the platform and was streamed by hundreds of thousands throughout the globe.

5. Single’s Inferno

This hit actuality relationship present is centred round single women and men looking for love on a abandoned island. Contestants might escape the island solely when two of them turn into a pair. The sequence mixes survival exhibits with the concept of members combating for his or her love pursuits and has turn into the primary Korean actuality present to make it onto Netflix’s high 10 TV exhibits. It at the moment has two seasons, and a 3rd season has been confirmed.

Jo Yoong-jae and Choi Seo-eun, participants in Single's Inferno 2 speak during a fan meeting event in Seoul, South Korea, February 11, 2023.
Jo Yoong-jae and Choi Web optimization-eun, members in Single’s Inferno 2, converse throughout a fan assembly occasion in Seoul, in February 2023 [File: Soo-hyeon Kim/Reuters]

6. Little Girls

Based mostly loosely on Louisa Could Alcott’s novel of the identical identify, this drama is dominated by sturdy, well-written feminine characters. The 12-episode sequence follows three sisters who’ve grown up in poverty. Their lives are turned the wrong way up when they’re compelled to battle in opposition to the wealthiest household in South Korea after an enormous sum of money goes lacking.

7. Queenmaker

This feminine-led drama tells the story of a strong fixer who makes use of her abilities to spice up a civil rights lawyer’s mayoral marketing campaign. It was launched on Netflix on April 14 and has a complete of 11 episodes.

8. All of Us Are Lifeless

After a failed science experiment, a neighborhood highschool is overrun with zombies. The trapped college students are on their very own as they battle to outlive throughout a government-ordered communications cut-off and dwindling provides. One among Netflix’s most-watched Korean sequence, it has been renewed for a second season.

International ambitions

This 12 months, Netflix unveiled plans for its greatest slate of Korean content material because it faces rising competitors from different streaming platforms and criticism for its plans to limit password-sharing. Its new Ok-content contains dozens of sequence, movies, actuality exhibits and documentaries.

Netflix additionally added 1.4 million paid subscribers from the Asia-Pacific area within the third quarter of 2022, and its most up-to-date earnings point out it’s the firm’s fastest-growing area.

However the ambitions are international, each for Netflix and South Korea. In 2021, the nation’s Ministry of Tradition, Sports activities and Tourism reported that South Korea’s cultural exports hit an all-time excessive of $12.4bn.

The full income of the Korean content material business – which incorporates movies, sequence, cartoons, music, video games and promoting – that 12 months stood at $107bn.

In truth, South Korea’s cultural exports have surpassed the export worth of different merchandise, akin to dwelling home equipment and electrical autos, ministry knowledge confirmed, making the content material business South Korea’s high export driver.

This 12 months, the federal government mentioned it plans to double the exports of Ok-content to $25bn by 2027 by increasing its export markets to the Center East, North America and Europe and injecting extra investments into the business.

It stays to be seen when South Korea’s cultural increase will attain its peak – or whether or not it already has – however for now, Sarandos has mentioned Netflix’s $2.5bn funding underlines his confidence in South Korea’s smooth energy as followers worldwide proceed to enthusiastically devour Ok-content.

Upcoming titles

Curious to see what Netflix has in retailer this 12 months? We’ve rounded up an inventory of the most-anticipated South Korean titles to be careful for in 2023:

1. Gyeongseong Creature

That includes a star-studded forged together with Park Web optimization-joon, Han So-hee and Wi Ha-joon, this drama is about in 1945 throughout Japanese rule over Korea when Seoul was nonetheless known as Gyeongseong. In response to the drama’s official description, two younger adults will “confront an odd creature born of greed and battle in opposition to it for survival”.

South Korean actor Park Seo-joon attends the Chanel Fall/Winter 2023-2024 ready-to-wear collection presented Tuesday, March 7, 2023 in Paris.
Korean actor Park Web optimization-joon attends a Chanel occasion in Paris in March 2023 [File: Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP]

2. Black Knight

This sequence is about in a dystopian future devastated by air air pollution. The story revolves round a bunch of deliverymen generally known as the Black Knights who navigate the wastelands utilizing unconventional means as humanity’s survival is underneath menace.

3. Music of the Bandits

Though the plot particulars of this drama are restricted in the meanwhile, we all know it’s set within the Twenties throughout a turbulent interval of Japanese occupation. It tells the story of a bunch of individuals from Joseon, the final dynastic kingdom of Korea, who’ve gathered in Gando, which in the present day is a part of northeastern China, and banded collectively to guard their houses throughout Japanese colonial rule.

4. Candy Residence (season two)

Netflix’s hit apocalyptic horror drama from 2020 is about to return for a second season this 12 months. Historically, Korean dramas hardly ever run for multiple season, however Netflix has shaken up issues within the business significantly. Candy Residence has garnered an enormous fanbase since its launch, and a significant cliffhanger on the finish of the primary season may imply record-breaking viewership for season two.

The sequence was tailored from a well-liked digital comedian known as a webtoon of the identical identify and tells the story of a troubled highschool pupil, Cha Hyun-soo (portrayed by Music Kang). Cha and the remainder of the residents of the house complicated Inexperienced Residence discover themselves combating off monsters that need to wipe out humanity.

5. 19/20 (Nineteen to Twenty)

This coming-of-age actuality present will observe varied members of Era Z as they get pleasure from their remaining week of being 19 and their first week of being 20.

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