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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Netflix doubles down on Okay-dramas with a $2.5 billion funding

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After a gathering with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol yesterday, Netflix introduced it’s planning to invest $2.5 billion into “the creation of Korean collection, movies, and unscripted reveals over the following 4 years” — which is a elaborate manner of claiming Netflix is about to make a crapload of Okay-dramas.

The quantity is double what Netflix has invested in Okay-dramas since 2016 — and it’s no shock given the monumental success of Squid Game in addition to The Glory and Bodily: 100. In an announcement, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos stated the corporate had “nice confidence that the Korean inventive trade will proceed to inform nice tales,” noting that Korean leisure was “now on the coronary heart of the worldwide cultural zeitgeist.”

As a second-generation Korean American, this feels bizarre. Cool! But additionally extraordinarily bizarre.

For many of my childhood, Okay-dramas have been one thing I watched with my mother and father on “the Korean channel” on our boxy CRT. I barely keep in mind half the reveals — there was one with an {old} bald king who wearing gold and had a snazzy eye patch — however I do keep in mind how children in school bullied me over the gimbap my mother packed in my lunchbox. The identical children additionally teased me for listening to Okay-pop artists like HOT and Child VOX. So the latest shift within the cultural zeitgeist Sarandos refers to? The one the place BTS and Blackpink are fashionable, Korean skincare floods TikTok, and Parasite wins an Oscar? The one liable for the emergence of phrases like koreaboo?

I want I might present this to my youthful self. How the tradition I appreciated in secret, the one I shoved into the darkest corners of my mind when with my American American buddies, would at some point be on the coronary heart of the worldwide cultural zeitgeist. On the similar time, there’s part of me that’s irrationally annoyed and aggravated at how simple it’s all turn out to be — and the way alone I nonetheless really feel despite the fact that extra non-Asian buddies message me about their newest Okay-drama dependancy than at every other level in my life.

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In ye olden days, I used to should go to a dingy mall basement in Flushing, New York, and lease bootleg DVDs from a dodgy grandpa. I’d watch episodes of a drama whereas visiting household on summer time holidays. Once I got here again dwelling, I’d should scour the web for episodes minimize into 1,000,000 elements in potato-quality decision simply to seek out out what occurred. My first lesson in region-locked content material was once I foolishly purchased DVDs over the summer time solely to seek out they wouldn’t play in my American DVD participant. Now, I can simply open Netflix, and there are such a lot of Okay-dramas, I don’t know the place to start out. They usually’re even decently subtitled in English so anybody can watch, even when they lose some of the finer nuances. (See: the gganbu translation debacle in Squid Recreation.)

Now, I can simply open Netflix, and there are such a lot of Okay-dramas, I don’t know the place to start out

However the irritating a part of all that is how Netflix turns into, in a manner, the arbiter of how the common American sees Okay-dramas. Sure, Squid Recreation was so fashionable it got a second season. Sure, it’s shockingly spectacular that Netflix obtained Extraordinary Legal professional Woo so shortly. (I used to attend months to get my palms on a dependable stream for a complete collection.) However when my household and buddies advised me about Goblin (also referred to as Guardian: The Lonely and Great God), certainly one of probably the most fashionable Okay-dramas of all time, starring Squid Recreation’s Gong Yoo, it was nowhere to be discovered on Netflix. When Bad Prosecutor got here out this previous fall, starring my present idol crush Do Kyung-soo, it was likewise lacking in motion.

It’s not the worst factor. It’s why I’ve a Rakuten Viki subscription. However it does type of eat into one thing Sarandos stated in his assertion. “It’s unbelievable that the love towards Korean reveals has led to a wider curiosity in Korea, due to the Korean creators’ compelling tales.”

Associates will ask what Bong Joon-ho movies they need to watch after Parasite, and the one one they constantly watch is Okja as a result of that’s the one on Netflix. I can suggest Memories of Murder all I like, however I do know most of my buddies will nod and by no means trouble as a result of Netflix doesn’t have it. I can say that I liked Squid Recreation’s Lee Byung-hun in Joint Security Areawhich additionally stars Music Kang-ho from Parasite and was directed by Oldboy’s Park Chan-wook — but it surely’s not on Netflix. I, personally, wish to watch My Annoying Brother, and despite the fact that it’s obtainable on Netflix in different international locations, it’s not right here, and it’s not on Rakuten Viki. I might pay $3.99 to lease it, however then once more, who would I be capable to even discuss to about it now that my mother and father are gone?

This isn’t actually Netflix’s fault. Area locking is only a crappy holdover from the DVD period. Plus, I don’t blame my buddies for not desirous to exit of their manner for overseas leisure when there’s a lot content material usually. Netflix really has a reasonably spectacular number of Korean movies and TV reveals. With this $2.5 billion funding, I’m certain it’s solely going to get higher. And it’s not simply Netflix. The platform’s success on this area has led to Hulu, Disney, and Apple together with Okay-dramas on their streaming platforms as nicely.

General, it is a good factor. However generally progress is bittersweet, too. As completely satisfied as I’m that Okay-drama is having its second in America, I can’t assist however dwell on how exhausting it may be to carry onto the tradition your immigrant mother and father gave you. Then and now.

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