July 15, 2022
SEOUL – Global streaming service Netflix is trying to grab Korean viewers’ attention by boosting its offering of unscripted content.
“Personally, I think Korean viewers have strict standards and high expectations for variety programs. Our team believes winning the heart of the local audience is important. This could lead to the show becoming a global hit like ‘Single’s Inferno,'” Netflix content manager Yoo Ki-hwan said at a press conference at Community House Masil in Myeong-dong in central Seoul.
“We didn’t measure the success of our content by the reactions abroad. Netflix always strives to entertain local viewers,” Yoo added, noting that last year’s hit Single’s Inferno was produced to introduce dating reality shows to Korean viewers.
The show was a bigger-than-anticipated hit in Korea, becoming the first Korean reality show to climb to #5 on Netflix’s Most Popular Shows list.
But Yoo explained that further improvements will also be made for overseas viewers.
When asked about ways to effectively translate Korean phrases into various other languages, Yoo highlighted the service’s translation efforts.
“Early in the early stages of production, there are a lot of conversations between the content creators and the globalization team. The discussions are mostly about what makes the lines humorous and ridiculous and how to convey the ‘true’ meaning,” said the content manager.
Yoo recalled how difficult it was in “Single’s Inferno” to find the right word for “oppa,” a word used by female speakers that literally means “older brother” but is a term of endearment for a slightly older man .
Netflix chose to use the term without translation, and it was met with a positive response from many overseas viewers. The company will continue efforts to ensure global audiences can fully enjoy Korean shows, the company representative said.
Since Busted in 2018, Netflix has made only six such Korean shows available in total: Paik’s Spirit (2021), New World (2021), The Hungry and the Hairy (2021), Single’s Inferno (2021) and Celebrity Five: Behind the Curtain (2022).
Yoo believes Netflix’s reality shows still have a long way to go.
“Most of our series of programs are completed before they start. This method takes a long time to produce, and I think that’s one of the reasons people ask me if Netflix has original Korean variety shows,” the official said.
According to Yoo, the global streaming service aims to reduce production time by collaborating with the South Korean broadcast industry, such as former MBC TV director Kim Tae-ho, who produced The Hungry and the Hairy.
Netflix will release four unscripted Korean original shows in the second half of this year: music variety show Take 1, touring program Korea No.1, competition Physical: 100, and a second season of Single’s Inferno . ”