Whether it is their “wholesome sexiness,” their clever original concepts or top-notch production values and scripts, Korean TV shows are generating a lot of talk — among audiences in Asia especially, where in many cases Korean show rate highest after local content.
There are also significant pockets of fans in North and South America, and the Middle East, that drive the social media numbers of stars such as Lee Min-ho (“City Hunter”), Kim Soo-hyun (“My Love From the Star”) and Song Hye-kyo (“Descendants of the Sun”).
More professionally, there was plenty of discussion about South Korean content and business matters at the recent APOS media conference (virtual this year of course), even more at September’s Seoul-based BCWW content market. There will be still more at Mipcom Plus, the online version of the annual South of France rights market.
That’s because Korean TV shows are more sought after now that global streaming giant Netflix is the worldwide distributor for 70 Korean shows, and Mipcom has named South Korea its country of honor at the virtual edition.
“Korean content is rewriting history in various sectors such as drama, K-Pop and movies. Now, it is time for Korea to join hands with the world and create a cooperation model,” says Korea Communications Commission chairman, Han Sang-hyuk.
Talk sessions to be held on Mipcom’s first Monday cover what’s behind the country’s mega hits; distribution and platform strategy; co-producing with South Korea; and the freshest content.
The market includes 45 Korean companies with exhibition stands, making it the largest delegation there. They range from public broadcasters MBC, KBS and SBS, to private-sector production powerhouses Studio Dragon and JTBC, and a large contingent of animation firms (Xin, SAMG, Mofac, Iconix).
One company that will not be there as a seller is Netflix, which is having a profound impact on the Korean scene. When it launched in South Korea in 2016, streaming and SVOD took a back seat to IPTV and cable, and its early role was as an importer of American shows and buyer of international rights to Korean shows, where the lead commissioning company was usually a Korean broadcaster.
However, Netflix has co-invested and increasingly leads the commissioning of other new shows. This has given the company global rights and obliged Korean audiences to turn to the platform to get their K-drama fix. Notable successes in this vein were school-set crime thriller “Extracurricular” (pictured above) and period zombie series “Kingdom.” Of the 70 Korean shows labeled as “originals,” 17 are now wholly Netflix properties.
With the ability to exploit the shows globally within its own ecosystem, the company has no need to sell off rights. But it is arguably still playing an important part in the export of Korean culture. Some of its Korean shows have been sub-titled and dubbed in 30 languages.
“We want to expand the global stage where Korean content, with its great storytellers and creators, can be exported, and bring it to audiences in 190 countries,” says Juliet Dongwha Kim, Netflix’s Korean head of partnerships. “Ultimately, we hope to contribute to Korea’s creative ecosystem as a true friend. Not as competition. But to make it more globally competitive.”
Top Korean Content for Sale:
“I Can See Your Voice”
Mystery music game show format
Distribution: CJ ENM
“When I Was the Most Beautiful”
Drama about a woman caught between two brothers
“More Than Friends”
Fantasy comedy series about old flames and new lovers