Tuesday, July 16, 2024

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Why Southeast Asia Loves Korean Shows — And What To Expect Next

In Southeast Asia, Korean shows are very loved and some research has found they are watched more than Hollywood productions. In the last three months, on average, four of the top 10 titles on Netflix in Southeast Asia have been Korean. Why is that? Some have pointed to the appeal of storylines which show Asian heroines striving to express themselves personally and professionally — a theme which perhaps resonates with women in more traditional Southeast Asian societies.

But it is the quality and the diversity of the stories that impress me the most. They can range in genre and subject matter — from opposites-attract romantic comedies like Crash Landing On You and Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha to military-themed dramas such as Descendants of the Sun and D.P.

And they can have wildly innovative storylines, like Move To Heaven, which is about trauma cleaners — incidentally, its star Tang Joon-sang is half-Malaysian — and the upcoming The Silent Sea (main picture), which sees Bae Doo-na and Gong Yoo heading to the moon on a perilous mission. This creative imagination, coupled with top quality acting and production values, has made hallyu — or the “Korean wave” — a phenomenon, not only in Southeast Asia, but across the world.

There will be even more surprising and creative stories in the next few months with Hellbound, a mystery thriller with supernatural elements and the first Korean series to be invited to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival; as well as My Name, a female-centered  action noir adventure starring Nevertheless’ Han So-hee as you’ve never seen her before.

 

For me, however, the most rewarding Korean shows are those that provoke me to think deeper about societal issues. This is why I am looking forward to next month’s Squid Game, which addresses social and economic inequality, a topic that is top of mind in many countries in the world, including Southeast Asia.

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter why we love these shows. What matters is there will be more, with Netflix’s $500M investment in Korean content this year. This means, no matter where you are —  in Bangkok, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila or Singapore — you will continue to get the best of Korea, whether it’s on-the-go on your mobile device or sitting comfortably in your living room. All you need to do is sit back, relax and press “play”.


Coming soon to Netflix:

D.P. (Now Streaming)

A young private’s assignment to capture army deserters reveals the painful reality endured by each enlistee during his compulsory call of duty.

Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (Now Streaming)

A big-city dentist sets up practice in a close-knit seaside village, home to a charming jack-of-all-trades who is her polar opposite in every way.

Squid Game (17 September)

Hundreds of down-and-out contestants compete in a mysterious and deadly survival challenge based on childhood games, in order to win a multi-million dollar cash prize.

My Name

A young woman joins a drug cartel and becomes a mole in the police force to seek revenge for her father’s death.

Hellbound

Supernatural beings appear out of nowhere to condemn and send people to hell. Taking advantage of the chaos, a religious group named The New Truth thrives as people search for answers.

The Silent Sea

In the future, when earth has run out of water, members of a special team are sent to the moon to secure a mysterious sample from an abandoned research facility.



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