On a recent visit to South Korea, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos shared that more than 60% of its users have watched at least one Korean title on the streaming service.
Since launching Bong Joon-ho’s “Okja,” Netflix’s first international film in 2017, South Korean media has become somewhat of a golden goose for the world’s most popular streaming service. Its 2021 hit show “Squid Game” made waves worldwide and made history as the platform’s most-watched show or film of all time.
Speaking at an event, Sarandos — who visited Seoul from June 20 to 22 — said that in the last fours years alone, “K-content” viewership has risen sixfold. He added that more than 90% of watchers of Korean romance shows on Netflix come from outside of Korea.
In April, Netflix unveiled that it would invest $2.5 billion in Korean media over the next four years, including in programs for young local talent. At a press conference, Sarandos said that 1 in 5 shows or films will be led by a first-time director or writer between 2022 and 2025, Reuters reported.
Sarandos also fielded concerns that Netflix’s gargantuan size would displace local media companies, emphasizing its collaboration and partnership with South Korean VFX studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Sarandos’ visit last week came as the South Korean government pledged that it would invest 500 billion won, or approximately $390 million, in its local streaming services to compete against the American streaming giant, according to Reuters.
At the event, he spoke fondly of his relationship with “Parasite” director Bong, whom he first met on the production of “Okja.”
“He’s the ultimate master, and he gave me a crash course in Korean cinema,” Sarandos said. “And afterwards, I had the great privilege to introduce him to Martin Scorsese — one of his heroes. A few years later, director Bong won best director and best picture at the Oscars with 'Parasite,' the same year that Martin Scorsese was nominated.”