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Netflix to invest US$2.5 billion in South Korean content

South Korea has cemented its status as a global cultural powerhouse in recent years, thanks in part to the explosive success of the Oscar-winning film 'Parasite' and the hit Netflix series 'Squid Game'.

AFP
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This handout image Courtesy of Netflix shows a scene of South Korea's 'Squid Game' Season one. Photo: AFP
This handout image Courtesy of Netflix shows a scene of South Korea's 'Squid Game' Season one. Photo: AFP

Netflix will invest US$2.5 billion (about RM11 billion) in South Korean content over the next four years, the streaming giant's CEO Ted Sarandos announced after meeting with the country's President Yoon Suk Yeol in Washington.

South Korea has cemented its status as a global cultural powerhouse in recent years, thanks in part to the explosive success of the Oscar-winning film "Parasite" and the hit Netflix series "Squid Game".

"Netflix is delighted to confirm that we will invest US$2.5 billion in Korea including the creation of Korean series, films, and unscripted shows over the next four years," Sarandos said in a statement given to AFP Tuesday.

"This investment plan is twice the total amount Netflix has invested in the Korean market since we started our service in Korea in 2016."

Sarandos said that Netflix had "great confidence" that South Korea's creative industry would continue to tell great stories, pointing to the recent success of global hits such as "The Glory" and the reality show "Physical 100".

"It is incredible that the love towards Korean shows has led to a wider interest in Korea, thanks to the Korean creators' compelling stories. Their stories are now at the heart of the global cultural zeitgeist," he added.

Over the last few years, South Korean content has taken the world by storm, with over 60 percent of Netflix viewers watching a show from the East Asian country in 2022, company data showed.

Netflix, which spent more than US$750 million developing Korean content from 2015 to 2021, had previously said it would be expanding its South Korean show output, without giving details of spending plans.

Yoon, who arrived in Washington Monday for a six-day state visit, hailed what he described as a "very meaningful" meeting with Sarandos, according to a transcript shared with AFP by the president's office.

Yoon said the new investment "will be a great opportunity for the Korean content industry, creators, and Netflix. We sincerely welcome Netflix's exceptional investment decision."

Yoon's is set to meet US President Joe Biden Wednesday, with his visit coming as the allies move to bulk up military cooperation over North Korea's expanding nuclear threats.

Pyongyang has conducted another record-breaking string of sanctions-defying launches this year, including test-firing North Korea's first solid-fuel ballistic missile this month – a key technical breakthrough for its military.

In response, Yoon has pulled South Korea closer to long-standing ally Washington, and the trip has a packed schedule including the summit with Biden, where the pair will celebrate 70 years of ties.

Yoon was also accompanied by more than 120 South Korean business leaders, including Samsung chairman Lee Jae-yong, and the visit could address their concerns over Biden's Inflation Reduction Act.

Analysts have said that the trip going well is particularly important for Yoon, who is eager to boost his low domestic approval ratings especially in the realm of foreign policy.

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