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South Korean film industry amplifies a new pop culture wave

The South Korean film industry is one of the hottest markets in entertainment right now. Hallyu, as it is known, is being promoted everytime a blockbuster Korean film or series is released.

Since the release of Bong Joon-ho’s Academy award-winning film, ‘Parasite,’ South Korean film has been center stage for content consumption. The movie has shown audiences that Korean pop-culture has more to offer than K-Pop and soap operas.

south korean film industry
Bong Joon-ho and the Parasite team posing for their award-winning photo


A more accurate term for this Korean wave of pop culture has been coined as Hallyu. The turn of the 21st century has seen South Korea as a major exporter of pop culture and tourism. It is accurate to say that the South Korean film industry has increased the amplitude of Hallyu.

Hallyu is a Chinese term which, when literally defined, translates to “Korean wave.”

The steady rise in production and investment in the South Korean film industry is comparable to other international film markets. India, Spain, Turkey, and Latin America have had a similar rise in international film investments to South Korea.

The South Korean film industry’s international rise is following a similar path to the Indian film industry

India’s 2008 international blockbuster, Slumdog Millionaire, had a similar effect as Parasite. Over the same timespan, Netflix, Viacom, Amazon, and other companies have poured investments into the Indian film industry.

The result has been a catalog of Indian TV series and movies. The most successful titles from these investments include Delhi Crime (2019), Mirzapur (2018), Sacred Games (2018), Inside Edge (2017), and most recently, the Priyanka Chopra-produced film on Netflix, The White Tiger.

Over the past decade, South Korean film has produced several international award-winning films and blockbusters. Parasite (2019), Snowpiercer (2013), and Train to Busan (2016) have opened the floodgates for further investment in the South Korean film industry.

It seems like South Korean film is following suit to Indian films from the last decade.

Train to Busan movie poster (Photo courtesy of Next Entertainment World)

The South Korean film industry’s momentum has been aided by the support of international platforms such as Netflix. Between 2015 and 2020, Netflix spent $700 million on South Korean films and TV series.

This investment has resulted in the opening of a new production base in South Korea that will include six stages at YCDSMC – Studio 139 in Yeoncheon County (which happens to be along a railroad line connecting to Seoul), and an additional three stages at Samsung Studio in Paju.

Netflix South Korea studio
New Netflix Studios in South Korea (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

It seems like an international blockbuster is the film industry’s version of going viral. With an influx of capital and experience, South Korean film is on track for producing some of the best content.

Here are a few titles to specifically look out for in 2021:

Kingdom: Ashin of the North (Series)

This Netflix special is a side sequel to the critically acclaimed series of the same name, Kingdom.

The South Korean zombie film will surely keep viewers in suspense with danger at any corner.

What Happened to Mr. Cha? (Film)

This comedy drama is about once popular Korean actor Cha In-Pyo who struggles to regain his fame.

He undergoes a series of unfortunate events on his back to the top. This light-hearted film will surely deliver some laughs.

Space Sweepers (Film)

This space opera film follows the crew of space junk collectors who stumble upon a deal of a lifetime.

Space Sweepers will keep the viewer’s eyes glued to the TV as this film is jam-packed with action.

The South Korean film industry is poised to continue booming

The South Korean film industry is certainly blossoming right now, and there’s no telling if it has even reached its apex.

Regardless, the talented workers in South Korea are earning international acclaim, and that should make us all happy.

We live in an increasingly globalized world, where other cultures can be ingested in an instant. The growing usage of Hallyu is just another example of this.

We live in an increasingly globalized world, where other cultures can be ingested in an instant. The growing usage of Hallyu is just another example of this.

If you want to see more of it on Netflix, you may already know that it’s not possible if you do not live in South Korea. It’s because Netflix has regional restrictions. Luckily, it is possible to bypass that. You can watch Korean Netflix in other countries  – you just need to get a VPN.

And we still can’t wait to see what the South Korean film industry churns out next.