“Saturday Night Live” is back for more high jinks in Korea.
Leading Korean producers ASTORY, best known for dramas such as Netflix’s hit series “Kingdom,” are bringing back the storied sketch show, which will again be hosted by comedian Shin Dong-yeob (pictured). Initially produced by CJ ENM, “SNL” previously aired in South Korea on cable channel tvN for nine seasons, running from 2011 until 2018.
The new 10-part series will launch later this year on a local streamer who’s still being kept under wraps, reuniting the original creative team. Principal producer Ahn Sang-hwi (“Pegasus Market,” “Life Bar”) will return to the show, alongside directors Yu Seong-moh and Kwon Seong-wook. Original on-screen talent and celebrity guests who frequented the nine-season run are also slated to come back, along with new faces.
The politically charged “Saturday Night Live” — which has been sold all around the world by NBCUniversal Formats and Broadway Video Enterprise — can be a tough sell in Asia. News of a Chinese adaptation raised eyebrows in 2017 when it was announced that streamer Youku had snapped up the format, but the show’s 2018 run was, perhaps predictably, controversial. The largely apolitical Chinese series ran for just a few weeks before being yanked off air during a period that saw heightened political control of the media by the Chinese government — a trend that has only continued in recent years. The show eventually returned to complete its run, but wasn’t renewed.
In Korea, the format had better luck, and the show garnered an impressive viewership across its run. In the years since the original and the forthcoming iteration, Korea has become a global superpower in entertainment, with film talent such as director Bong Joon-ho winning the best picture Oscar for “Parasite” and pop group BTS taking the world by storm — developments that are likely to provide plenty of material for an updated “SNL.”
Ana Langenberg, senior VP of format sales and production for NBCUniversal Formats, said: “The iconic brand has proven to be a huge success across the region and has garnered such a strong following over the years. So, the bar has already been set! We look forward to our new partners ASTORY and the original creative team putting a fresh spin on the show and can’t wait to see how audiences respond when it returns.”
Lee Sang-baek, CEO of ASTORY, added: “We’re also extremely excited to relaunch SNL with an ASTORY twist! We’ll be bringing the best Korean comedic talent to TV screens and viewers can expect new parodies, new characters and lots of fresh humor. This will be a variety comedy show like you’ve never seen before.”
To date, “SNL” has been adapted in China, Japan, the Middle East, France, Italy, Poland and Brazil. The original U.S. version is produced in association with Broadway Video, with Lorne Michaels as creator and executive producer.
Since its inception in 1975, the Emmy-winning show has aired on NBC for 46 seasons.