Netflix Unveils South Korean Slate of Seven Series, One Film

'Time to Hunt' Korean - Publicity - H 2020
Courtesy of Netflix

Riding the worldwide popularity of K-content, the streamer's new offerings span genres such as crime, sci-fi, romance, drama and reality.

Netflix continues to go big on South Korean content.

The streamer on Monday unveiled a slate of seven upcoming Korean series and one film, collectively spanning reality, crime, sci-fi, romance, drama and more.

This broad uptick in K-content follows the March 13 release of season two of Kingdom, Netflix's breakthrough K-zombie series, which has become a fan favorite virtually everywhere in Asia. "Millions of people globally have already chosen to watch its second season," Netflix's Seoul office said in a statement.

“From K-pop and K-food, to K-zombie and K-content, we’ve seen how much people in different parts of the world love Korean cultures and stories," said Minyoung Kim, vp Korean content. “It’s amazing to see how these Korea films and TV resonate with audiences around the world — from Korea to South East Asia and the Americas."

Netflix's upcoming Korean slate builds on the company's existing K-stories roster across a broad range of genres (see below for a brief summary of each upcoming show). The one film among the bunch, director Yoon Sung-hyun's Time to Hunt, appears to have fallen in Netflix's hands due to the global coronavirus crisis. 

The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February and previously was set for a theatrical rollout in South Korea on Feb. 26. But the release date was postponed on several occasions due to the coronavirus outbreak in Korea, which until recently was the worst affected country aside from China, where the health crisis began (in recent weeks Korea has drastically reduced its number of new infections). Facing uncertain release prospects, Time to Hunt's producer, Little Big Pictures, appears to have pulled the film from theatrical and opted for a Netflix streaming deal.  

Netflix's content chief Ted Sarandos joined Brian Stelter on CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday to discuss how the global coronavirus crisis is affecting the company. Sarandos said "viewing is up" for the streaming giant, reflecting the entertainment needs of millions around the world who have confined themselves indoors to practice social distancing.

He added that "every one of [Netflix's] productions around the world is shut down," but insisted that the company works far enough ahead to ensure that there won't be any disruptions to its programming rollout as long as the pandemic doesn't stretch into the second half of the year.

Kim, Netflix's vp in Seoul, put a positive spin on the company's new Korean slate Monday, adding: "By making it easy for people to watch films and shows from other countries, we can help them build empathy and develop a shared understanding of the world.”

Netflix didn't note any expected delays for the upcoming Korean shows, although several were unveiled without target release dates and were listed as "in production."

Summary: Kang Gi-beom, once a promising police detective in the violent crimes unit, is suspected of murdering his own wife. His eyes are slashed with a razor after he witnesses 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 receive an artificial eye transplant and join 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.

Cast: Choi Jin-hyuk, Park Sung-woong
Premiere date: March 28 in Korea/Asia Pacific/All English-speaking countries/Latin America; May 24 in Japan/rest of the world

Time to Hunt
Summary: 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?

Cast: Lee Je-hoon, Ahn Jae-hong, Choi Woo-shik, Park Jeong-min, Park Hae-soo
Premiere date: April 10

Summary: The story of high school students who have chosen a life of crime — and extreme risk — to earn money. Oh Jisoo ends up committing a serious crime because of his desire to apply for his college tuition on his own, whatever the 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 turning back. A life of crime and violence awaits them.

Cast: Kim Dong-hee, Jung Da-bin, Park Joo-hyun
Premiere date: April 29

The King: Eternal Monarch
Summary: A romantic fantasy drama that takes the genre to a whole new level. The series revolves around the relationships of 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).
Cast: Lee Min-ho, Kim Go-eun, Woo Do-hwan, Kim Kyung-nam, Jung Eun-chae
Premiere date: April 2020

It's Okay to Not Be Okay
Summary: 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.
Cast: Kim Soo-hyun, Seo Ye-ji
Premiere date: June 2020 

Summary: Two top celebrities from Seoul and Taipei go on a trip to several cities in Asia to meet their fans and become friends.
Cast: Lee Seung-gi, Jasper Liu
Premiere date: TBC (in production)

The School Nurse Files
Summary: A newly appointed high school nurse discovers secrets and mysteries with her supernatural abilities for chasing ghosts.
Cast: Jung Yu-mi, Nam Joo-hyuk
Premiere date: TBC (in production)

Sweet Home
Summary: 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 unable to make a living on his own, he realizes the residents at Green Home, including himself, are trapped and surrounded by monsters in various forms of distorted human desires, which are about to sweep away mankind.
Cast: Song Kang, Lee Jin-wook, Lee Si-young
Premiere date: TBC (in production)