The Seoul-based company provided no further details of the Bong projects, but announced an expanded production slate spanning films and TV series and hinted at overseas expansion.
Barunson, which was producer of the smash hit KBS series “Descendants of the Sun,” previously worked with Bong on his 2009 drama “Mother,” which premiered in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival.
Bong has previously revealed his involvement with one other Korean-language project, an animated story about humans and deep sea creatures, that is set up at 4th Creative Party. He is also understood to be working on plans for a “Parasite” TV series at HBO, and he is additionally set as producer of the immigration drama “Sea Fog” at Participant Media. That film is an Oren Moverman-scripted English-language adaptation of “Haemoo,” an action drama about the smuggling of a group of undocumented immigrants from China to Korea that Bong co-wrote, but did not direct. (Both “Mother” and “Haemoo” were selected as Korea’s foreign-language Oscar contenders, in 2009 and 2014, respectively.)
Barunson’s new slate also includes a film and streaming pact with Kim Seong-hun, director of Netflix original series “Kingdom;” a deal with Lee Yong-ju (“Seobok”); and another with Eum Tae-hwa, who is currently directing earthquake survival film “Concrete Utopia” for Climax Studio, with a cast headed by Lee Byung-hun.
In a separate deal, Barunson has secured the services of TV screenwriter Baek Mi Kyung, best known for JTBC works, “Strong Girl Bong-soon” and “The Lady in Dignity.”
Previously announced works in the Barunson pipeline include the latest project by screenwriters Jo Hyun-kyung (MBC romance drama “When I Was the Most Beautiful”) and Yoo Seung-hee (heartwarming drama film “I Can Speak”), with an avant-garde story of a makeup artist from the Joseon era.
The beefed-up slate puts Barunson in a strong negotiating position at a time when Korean content is in massive demand.
Streaming companies local and international are scrambling to lock up prominent Korean content deals. For some, such as Disney Plus, HBO Max and Apple TV Plus, which have yet to launch in Korea, this may be key to making progress in the competitive market.
For others, including Netflix, Viu and Wavve, strong pipelines of Korean content may cement their positions as purveyors of films and TV shows that have wide international appeal. Netflix’s co-chief Ted Sarandos this week said that Korean series “Squid Game” may be its most successful ever non-English-language title.