Is South Korea the next big entertainment Industry? For decades, the entertainment industry has been dominated by the United States of America and the United Kingdom. While other industries like Africa and Asia have slowly been on the come up, America and the U.K have set the standard for years. Dominating academy awards, box office sales, Grammy awards, billboard charts and multiple YouTube streaming records.
In terms of the quantity of work produced, Asia and Africa have dominated the market. What seems to be lacking is the quality of talent which is available in the leading industries. Once in a while, a body of work comes up to change the balance of things and tip the scales in favour of the minority industries. In 2021, one such work is the Netflix produced Korean series “Squid Game”.
The South Korean entertainment industry popularly known as K-Wave has grown tumultuously over the years since its first international breakthrough in 2012. The South Korean entertainment music industry is popularly called K-pop. It got its first major taste of international acclaim through the hit song “Gangnam Style” by K-pop musician Psy.
The dance record gained worldwide popularity for its catchy chorus, music video and accompanying dance style. Upon its release, Gangnam style debuted at number 64 on the USA Billboard hot 100 and peaked at number 2, a first for any K-pop song. The music video became the first video in YouTube history to gross 1 billion views and is one of the most-watched videos on YouTube.
Psy’s legendary feat with Gangnam style turned the eyes of the world towards K-pop and K-wave as a whole. It paved the way for other South Korean pop groups like BTS who became the first K-pop musicians to ever top the U.S Billboard hot 100.
The South Korean entertainment industry once again shocked the world with the groundbreaking achievement of one of its feature films, Parasite. The parasite was released in 2019 with outstanding reviews from critics around the world. It was also a box office success, grossing over 200 million dollars. It received a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes while Metacritic gave it a 96% rating.
The movie dominated major award shows all over the world especially the Academy awards, setting a world record for any Asian movie. The film was submitted and shortlisted for the best international feature film but went on to receive five more nominations. It won the award for Best Director, Best Picture, Best original screenplay and Best international feature film. The parasite is the first non-English language film to win the award for best picture in the history of the Oscar awards.
With Netflix expanding its contents to other parts of the world, one of its major markets in South Korea. With an abundance of series debuted on the streaming platform, shows like Kingdom and Jumong have endeared audiences to the Korean series genre. However, none of the series has been able to achieve what the newly released Netflix series “Squid Game” has achieved.
Squid Game premiered on Netflix in September 2021 to critical acclaim, with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 92% and good ratings from other critics. Squid Game has become a phenomenon resulting in massive viewership across the world.
Judging by the amount of success the Korean entertainment industry has achieved in the past decade, one can say that they are the next big thing in the entertainment industry. They might not have produced the most movies as is the case for industries like Bollywood and Nollywood but they have surpassed both industries in terms of quality. With a revenue stream of over 10 billion dollars by 2021, the South Korean entertainment industry is fast becoming the next big thing in the entertainment world.