From BTS To ‘Squid Game’: How South Korea Became A Cultural Juggernaut

PAJU, South Korea — In a new Korean drama being filmed inside a cavernous studio building outside of Seoul, a detective chases down a man cursed to live for 600 years. Pistol shots crack. A hush follows. Then, a woman pierces the silence, screaming: “I told you not to shoot him in ​the heart!”

The scene was filmed several times for more than an hour as part of “Bulgasal: Immortal Souls,” a new show scheduled to be released on Netflix in December. Jang Young-woo, the director, hopes it will be the latest South Korean phenomenon to captivate an international audience.

South Korea has long chafed at its lack of groundbreaking cultural exports. For decades the country’s reputation was defined by its cars and cellphones from companies like Hyundai and LG, while its movies, TV shows and music were mostly consumed by a regional audience. Now K-pop stars like Blackpink, the dystopian drama “Squid Game” and award-winning films such as “Parasite” appear as ubiquitous as any Samsung smartphone.

In the same way South Korea borrowed from Japan and the United States to develop its manufacturing prowess, the country’s directors and producers say they have been studying Hollywood and other entertainment hubs for years, adopting and refining formulas by adding distinctly Korean touches. Once streaming services like Netflix tore down geographical barriers, the creators say, the country transformed from a consumer of Western culture into an entertainment juggernaut and major cultural exporter in its own right.

In the last few years alone, South Korea shocked the world with “Parasite,” the first foreign language film to win best picture at the Academy Awards. It has one of the biggest, if not the biggest, band in the world with BTS. Netflix has introduced 80 Korean movies and TV shows in the last few years, far more than it had imagined when it started its service in South Korea in 2016, according to the company. Three of the 10 most popular TV shows on Netflix as of Monday were South Korean.



Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!