Brief - The Hustle

Netflix doubles down on Korean content

Written by Juliet Bennett Rylah | Apr 26, 2023 9:50:04 PM

Netflix announced a $2.5B investment in Korean content over the next four years — 2x the amount it has invested in the market since 2016 — in a recent press release.

Co-CEO Ted Sarandos spoke of Netflix’s confidence in Korean storytelling and its impact on the world’s interest in the country.

“Hallyu” (meaning “Korean wave”) refers to that global phenomenon, spurred by K-pop bands, Parasite’s Best Picture win, and, of course, Netflix’s “Squid Game.” In 2021, South Korea saw a record $12.4B in content exports.

For Netflix, the move is obvious

Over 60% of its 230m+ global subscribers watched Korean content in 2022, while the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region has been a source of consistent growth, accounting for 1.46m of Netflix’s new 1.75m subscribers in Q1.


  • “Squid Game” was a global sensation. Netflix’s most-watched non-English series kept people hooked for 1.6B+ hours.
  • Other Korean hits include revenge drama “The Glory,” legal drama “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” and reality competition show “Physical: 100.”

Throughout 2023, Netflix’s slate of Korean content will feature 34 new and returning titles across genres.

Other streamers…

… are catching up or missing out.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s new Max rollout won’t hit the Asia-Pacific region until 2024, which Variety noted was a “particularly egregious” part of a “dreadful blunder.”

Disney+ wisely teamed up with K-pop superstars BTS and, in late 2022, announced numerous Asian titles for 2023, saying stories from the region would be a “key pillar” for the platform for the next 100 years.

Meanwhile, Amazon recently tried to gain APAC market share via ads in the region featuring anime and Korean dramas.

Fun fact: “Zombieverse” — an upcoming Netflix reality competition show set in a zombie apocalypse — recruited the team behind another Korean hit, “All of Us Are Dead,” to make the game’s monsters.