Netflix to invest $500 million in Korean content; unveils new K-dramas, movies this year

Published February 25, 2021, 5:57 PM

by Jonathan Hicap

(Clockwise from top left) ‘The Silent Sea,’ ‘Hellbound,’ ‘D.P.,’ ‘Love Alarm 2,’ ‘So Not Worth It,’ ‘Kingdom: Ashin of the North’ and ‘Kim Minyoung’ (Netflix) 

Video streaming giant Netflix is aggressively expanding its presence in Korea as it unveiled its plans to produce more K-dramas and movies this year. 

Netflix held its “See What’s Next Korea 2021” presentation on YouTube on Feb. 25 wherein it revealed its roadmap to bring more Korean content to its global audience. 

Kim Minyoung, Netflix’s vice president for Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, said so far, Netflix has invested more than 770 billion won (about $694 million) in Korean content. Of the 200 Netflix Original content, 80 are Korean. 

Netflix has more than 200 million subscribers worldwide and of these, 3.8 million are in South Korea as of end 2020. 

“I am very excited to be announcing to you today that this year, in 2021, Netflix will be investing nearly $500 million in Korean content,” said Kim during her presentation. 

Netflix also revealed that it will start producing original Korean films, a move that will boost its presence in South Korea. 

“We have great plans for this year,” Kim told Manila Bulletin during a Zoom interview with journalists from the Philippines and Singapore. 

Kim added, “We do believe this is going to be one of our strongest years so far around our offering of Korean content. What is more exciting, we are branding out into unscripted with shows like ‘Paik’s Spirit.’ We’ve had shows like ‘Busted’ or ‘Twogether’ but we want to make sure we bring more unscripted content to our audiences around the world.” 

“And we are branching out into sitcoms through shows like ‘So Not Worth It’ and we are also going to bring our local Korean original films to our global audience through films like ‘Moral Sense’ and ‘Carter.’ So as you can see, we have great ambition and great plan to entertain our members with a diverse slate,” she said. 

In January, Netflix revealed that it has established two production facilities in Paju and Yeoncheon, just outside of Seoul, in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea.

It will lease six stages and supporting spaces with an area of about 9,000 sq. m. at YCDSMC-Studio 139,  and will also lease three stages of about 7,000 sq. m. at Samsung Studio. 

Here are some of upcoming Netflix Original Korean shows for this year: 


“The Silent Sea” – Starring Bae Doo-na, Gong Yoo, and Lee Joon, “The Silent Sea” is set in a future where water and food almost run out on earth due to desertification. It’s about a special team that sets out to a research base on the moon.  Korean actor Jung Woo-sung is in the series as executive producer. 

D.P. – Starring Jung Hae-in, Koo Kyo-hwan, Kim Sung-kyun, and Son Seok-koo, “D.P.” tells the “story of army private Joon-ho, one of many soldiers serving in the Korean military, who suddenly ends up becoming a member of the ‘Deserter Pursuit’ unit that tracks down military deserters and encounters the realities of confused young soldiers.”

“My Name” – Starring Han So-hee, Park Hee-soon, Ahn Bo-hyun, Kim Sang-ho, ​Lee Hak-ju​, and ​Jang Yull, it is “a Netflix original series that follows the story of Ji-u, who joins the police force as an undercover for a crime organization in order to find the truth about her father’s death and presents fist-clenching suspense of Ji-u’s revenge and the harsh truths uncovered in the process.” 

“Move to Heaven” (for release in first half of 2021) – Starring Lee Je-hoon and Tang Jun-sang, it is “a Netflix original series about a young man named ​Geu-ru with Asperger’s syndrome and Sang-gu, who becomes Geu-ru’s guardian, as they start a trauma cleaning business and uncover the stories that are left behind by the deceased.” 

“Squid Game” – Starring Lee Jung-jae and Park Hae-soo, it “is a Netflix original series about people who participate in a mysterious survival game with a $40-million prize at stake.” 

“Love Alarm​ Season 2” (release date: March 12, 2021) – This stars Kim So-hyun, Jung Ga-ram, Song Kang, Ko Min-si, and Kim Si-eun. “Set in a world where a notification on an app called ‘Love Alarm’ becomes the only indicator of love, ‘​Love Alarm Season 2’ is a Netflix original series about a girl who cannot trigger Love Alarm and two guys with unabashed love for her trying to figure out how she feels.” 

“Hellbound” – Starring Yoo Ah-in, Park Jeong-min, Kim Hyun-ju, Won Jin-ah, and Yang Ik-june, “‘Hellbound’ depicts supernatural phenomena experienced by people who are condemned to hell after their unexpected encounters with angels of death.” 

“All of Us Are Dead” – Starring Yoon Chan-yeong, Park Ji-hu, Cho Yi-hyun, Lomon, and Yoo In-soo, “All of Us Are Dead” tells the “story about people who are trapped in a high school where a zombie virus is spreading and those who are trying to save them as extreme situations riddled with surprises unfold.” 


“Kingdom: Ashin of the North” – Starring Jun Ji-hyun and Park Byung-eun, “‘Kingdom: Ashin of the North’ is a sidequel to the global K-zombie sensation ‘​Kingdom’ ​and tells the story of ‘Ashin,’ the heiress to a northern Jurchen town, and the secret behind the resurrection plant.” 


“Night in Paradise” (Release date: April 9, 2021) – Starring Um Tae-goo, Jeon Yeo-been, and Cha Seoung-won, “‘Night in Paradise’ is a film about a man targeted by a criminal gang and a woman cornered to a dead end in life.” 


“Lee Su-geun: The Sense Coach” – Starring Lee Su-geun, it “is a Netflix original stand-up special packed with gratifying ad-lib jokes that Lee Su-geun improvises as he coaches, with his acute sixth sense (or ​nunchi in Korean), members of the audience who often get pushed around and constantly worry about what others think. “


“So Not Worth It” – Starring Park Se-wan, Shin Hyeon-seung, Choi Youngjae of K-pop boy band GOT7, Minnie of ((G)I-DLE), and Han Hyun-min, “So Not Worth” is “a sitcom about students of diverse nationalities living in the international dormitory of a university in Seoul and portrays their love, friendship, and life adventures.” 


“Paik’s Spirit” – Starring Paik Jong-won (aka Baek Jong-won), “‘Paik’s Spirit’ is a Netflix original series where Paik Jong-won sits down for a drink with top Korean celebrities and professionals in various fields to have a conversation about drinking and life.”