Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Filipino K-Drama fans have a lot to look forward to on Netflix in the coming months.
Last week, the streaming service revealed the lineup of Korean titles that make up the rest of their 2020 slate, including a teen crime drama, a romantic fantasy drama, and a dystopian thriller starring both rookie actors and some of the biggest names in the industry.
In a video conference with members of the media last March 19, Netflix’s Vice President of Korean Content Minyoung Kim explained their strategy for providing “best in class Korean content” to viewers in the Philippines and around the world.
“It was interesting for me to find out that very strong, emotional romance titles tend to perform really well in the Philippines,” says Kim. She has also observed that Philippine audiences are very passionate and open to trying different types of shows.
Netflix’s Korean content team operates under two pillars. The first is being able to cater to existing fans of Korean content, as well as bring it to other international viewers. They do this through partnerships with existing production companies like Studio Dragon and JTBC, which have brought them titles like the hit dramas “Crash Landing On You” and “Itaewon Class” — both of which are in the Top 10 most streamed shows in the Philippines.
The second pillar is taking the creative freedom to the level the creator wants with their Netflix Originals. You’ll notice that all of their Korean Originals such as “Kingdom” and “Love Alarm” do not fall under one genre. A newcomer in the already very established Korean entertainment industry, Netflix steps away from what existing companies are good at, instead aiming to fill the gap by making original shows that cannot be made in the traditional system.
Kim adds that as an OTT (over-the-top) media service, Netflix is able to give their creators a generous amount of creative freedom, giving the example of “Kingdom” writer Kim Eun Hee, who wouldn’t have been able to have her idea for the gory zombie period drama aired on Korean TV.
“When we had the chance to meet her, she gave us ‘Kingdom’ because she knew that at Netflix, she would be able to show as far as she wanted to show whether it's more blood, a little bit of killing, whether it's politics or whatever other subject matter it may be,” Kim recalls.
The creator’s decisions also factor in on the company’s decisions for how a story is to be packaged. Seasoned K-Drama fans have pointed out that Netflix K-Dramas tend to be shorter than the typical 16-episode runs that they’re used to, which Kim reasons is the result of their continuous collaboration with their creators and the nature of the stories that they want to tell.
While they do have recommended formats (Netflix audiences tend to like shows that are tighter and binge-able), they also “don't want this to restrict our creators from telling stories in the way they believe is most effective in sharing their creative vision.” As a result, some episodes of one series may have different run times than others.
In the end, it all boils down to quality content. “Regardless of format,” Kim says, “We believe that great stories are great stories.”
Below is a list of the upcoming Korean films and dramas you can expect on Netflix this year.
Starring: Choi Jin-hyuk, Park Sung-woong
Premieres: March 28, 2020
A crime drama about promising police detective Kang Gi Beom who loses everything after terrorist group ARGOS murders his wife and slashes his eyes. When Choi Geun-cheol, the chief executive director of Rugal, a special organization dedicated to eradicate ARGOS, requests that he receive an artificial eye transplant, Gi-beom is born again as a human weapon and takes his revenge.
Starring: Kim Dong-hee, Jung Da-bin, Park Joo-hyun
Premiere date: April 29, 2020
“Extracurricular” is not your usual teen K-drama. A coming-of-age story, it follows high school students Oh Jisoo, Seo Minhee, and Bae Gyuri who choose a life of crime to earn money. Their bad choices come with irreversible consequences.
“The King: Eternal Monarch”
Starring: Lee Min-ho, Kim Go-eun, Woo Do-hwan, Kim Kyung-nam, Jung Eun-chae
Premiere date: April 2020
Penned by “Goblin” and “Descendants of the Sun” writer Kim Eun-suk, the series is another take on the parallel universe plot device where King Lee Gon seeks to seal the gateway between dimensions, while Jung Tae-eul, a police inspector, simply wants to protect other’s lives and their loves. It is directed by Baek Sang-hoon (“Secret,” “Descendants of the Sun”) and Jeong Jee-hyun (“Search: WWW”).
“It’s Okay to Not Be Okay”
Starring: Kim Soo-hyun, Seo Ye-ji
Premiere date: June 2020
Featuring Kim Soo-hyun as a caretaker working at a psychiatric ward and Seo Ye-ji as a children’s book writer, “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” is about an unusual romance between two people who end up healing each other’s emotional and psychological wounds.
“Time to Hunt”
Starring: Lee Je-hoon, Ahn Jae-hong, Choi Woo-shik, Park Jeong-min, Park Hae-soo
Premiere date: April 10, 2020
“Time to Hunt” is a film set in a hopeless dystopian city. Jun-seok is released from prison and plans his next step in life in order to start anew with his friends Jang-ho, Ki-hoon and Sang-soo. But their excitement for the plan is short-lived as an unknown man chases after them. Can these best friends get away from the hunt?
IN PRODUCTION (release date to be announced)
Starring: Lee Seung-gi, Jasper Liu
A reality show where two top celebrities from Seoul and Taipei get on a trip to several cities in Asia to meet their fans and become friends.
“The School Nurse Files”
Starring: Jung Yu-mi, Nam Joo-hyuk
A newly-appointed high school nurse discovers secrets and mysteries with her supernatural abilities of chasing ghosts.
Starring: Song Kang, Lee Jin-wook, Lee Si-young
Reclusive high school student Hyun-soo moves into an old apartment complex after the death of his entire family. Eventually he realizes that he and the other residents of the complex are trapped and surrounded by monsters in various forms of distorted human desires, which are about to sweep away mankind.
Stream everything on Netflix.