South Korean dramas and movies first hit the world stage in the early late 1990’s and early 2000’s with the “Korean wave” or “hallyu”, putting South Korean culture on the world stage and turning the country into a global cultural influencer. The rise of digital streaming services like Netflix is giving Korean culture a second wave, by enabling Korean-loving audiences around the world to more easily access Korean movies and dramas.
Netflix is slated to introduce more Korean dramas and movies to the world in 2020. In searching for Korean content, Netflix has a two pronged approach that includes both acquiring successful Korean titles, as well as creating original content.
“We partner really closely with local entertainment companies, and make sure we pick and deliver the best shows, and bring it to our audiences outside of Korea,” Netflix’s Vice President of Korean Content, Kim Minyoung, said. “These are the shows like Crash Landing on You or Itaewon Class.”
On original content however, Netflix has a different strategy. Netflix is focusing its efforts in originals on productions that wouldn’t have been made in the existing media ecosystem.
“We want to figure out the whitespace,” Kim said. “That means, what are the shows audiences want to watch, but can’t be made in the traditional system?”
Investing more heavily in global content couldn’t come at a more important time. The global COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of people around world indoors, giving Netflix a prime opportunity to expose more audiences to Korean culture.
“We want to be able to find the right shows so that the audiences who have never watched Asian or Korean content before open up to experiencing and watching more Korean content,” Kim said. “A great story is a great story, regardless of where it comes from.”
Netflix provided Cinema Escapist a list of the Korean content it expects to bring online this year, along with brief plot synopses. Let’s take a look at the Korean dramas and movies that will be coming to Netflix in 2020!
• • •
Starring: Choi Jin-hyuk, Park Sung-woong | Premiering: March 28th, 2020
Rugal centers on Kang Gi-beom, a former promising police detective in the violent crimes unit who was suspected of murdering his own wife. His eyes were slashed with a razor after he witnessed her murder at the hands of the terrorist group ARGOS. Just when he thinks he has lost everything, he is approached by Choi Geun-cheol, the chief executive director of Rugal, a special organization dedicated to the sole purpose of eradicating ARGOS. Choi requests that Gi-beom receives an artificial eye transplant and joins Rugal. After miraculously surviving the risky transplant operation, Gi-beom is born again as a human weapon. He begins to take revenge on ARGOS for everything they have done to him.
Time to Hunt (Movie)
Starring: Lee Je-hoon, Ahn Jae-hong, Choi Woo-shik, Park Jeong-min, Park Hae-soo | Premiering: April 10th, 2020
Time to Hunt takes place in a hopeless dystopian city. When protagonist Jun-seok is released from prison, he tries to plan his next step in life with friends Jang-ho,Ki-hoon and Sang-soo. However, their excitement for the plan is short-lived, as an unknown man chases after them. Can these best friends get away from the hunt?
Sound exciting? Check out our full review of Time to Hunt!
The King: Eternal Monarch (Drama)
Starring: Lee Min-ho, Kim Go-eun, Woo Do-hwan, Kim Kyung-nam, Jung Eun-chae | Premiering: April 2020
The King: Eternal Monarch is a romantic fantasy drama that takes the genre to a whole new level. The series revolves around relationships of the people from two parallel universes. 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. The King: Eternal Monarch is written by Kim Eun-suk (Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, Mr. Sunshine, Descendants of the Sun), and directed by Baek Sang-hoon (Secret, Who Are You: School 2015 and Descendants of the Sun) and Jeong Jee-hyun (Search: WWW).
Read our full review of The King: Eternal Monarch here.
Starring: Kim Dong-hee, Jung Da-bin, Park Joo-hyun | Premiering: April 29th, 2020
Extracurricular is a story of high school students who have chosen a life of crime to earn money, and those who are threatened by extreme risk as a result. Oh Jisoo ends up committing a serious crime because of his determination to make college tuition money on his own, by any means. Seo Minhee gets caught up in Jisoo’s crime, while Jisoo’s schoolmate Bae Gyuri also becomes involved in the same crime. Their bad choices come with irreversible consequences. There is no more turning back. A life of crime and violence awaits them.
Read our full review of Extracurricular here.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (Drama)
Starring: Kim Soo-hyun, Seo Ye-ji | Premiering: June 2020
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. Moon Gang-tae, played by Kim Soo-hyun (My Love from the Star, The Moon Embracing the Sun), is a caretaker working at a psychiatric ward who does not even bother to believe in love. He seems to be carrying all the weight and pain in life, and devotes himself only to looking after his disabled older brother. Go Moon-young, played by Seo Ye-ji (Save Me, Lawless Lawyer), is a children’s book writer who is clueless about love. She is popular among all age groups, yet very antisocial and indifferent to others.
Sweet Home (Drama)
Starring: Song Kang, Lee Jin-wook, Lee Si-young | Premiere date to be announced
Hyun-soo, a reclusive high school student, moves into an old apartment complex called Green Home after the tragic death of his entire family. Feeling hopeless to make a living on his own, he realized Green Home residents, including himself, are trapped and surrounded by monsters in various forms of distorted human desires, which are about to sweep away mankind.
Starring: Lee Seung-gi, Jasper Liu | Premiere date to be announced
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 (Drama)
Starring: Jung Yu-mi, Nam Joo-hyuk | Premiere date to be announced
A newly appointed high school nurse discovers secrets and mysteries with her supernatural abilities of chasing ghosts.
This article was updated on May 31, 2020 to include links and trailers for content that has released since this article’s initial publication.