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Netflix NFLX has invested heavily in producing Korean content and the company’s latest original production, Squid Game, is paying off, not only in viewers, but in investors who are buying shares of companies related to the series. Squid Game has become the first Korean drama to claim the No. 1 spot on Netflix in the U.S., attracting investment in various Korean media.
Squid Game, starring Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon and Ho Yeon-jung, is the story of desperate people who are invited to play children’s games with deadly consequences. The survival game drama is directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, who directed the films Silenced, Miss Granny and The Fortress.
Korean films such as Space Sweepers, starring Song Joong-ki, and #Alive, starring Yoo Ah-In and Park Shin-hye, have already topped global charts for Netflix, but Squid Game is the first TV drama to reach number one. Previously the Netflix monster drama Sweet Home made second place.
One of the companies that benefited from the rush to invest is Bucket Studio Co., which owns 15 percent of Lee Jung-jae’s agency Artist Company. Lee established Artist Company in 2016 with fellow actor Jung Woo-sung. According to the newspaper Korea Joongang Daily, Bucket Studio Co. shares have doubled since the drama’s debut on Sept. 17, hitting the 30 percent daily trading limit on two days.
The newspaper noted that the speculation is a “sick twist” on the survival game because one of the drama’s characters is forced to risk his life playing survival games after speculating in the stock market.
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Other Korean media companies also saw an increase in share price. CJ ENM’s affiliate Studio Dragon closed at 89,500 won a share ($75.83), rising 5.17 percent on September 27, while JTBC Studios, jumped 6.85 to 49,900 won.
Studio Dragon produced the previously successful Netflix Original Sweet Home and the international hit zombie drama Kingdom, while JTBC Studios was behind D.P., the Netflix original series about Korean military deserters that topped charts in Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.
Netflix is not the only foreign streaming platform to invest in the production of Korean TV content. Both Disney+ and Apple TV+ are currently developing Korean content. Given the popularity of Korean films, with Parasite winning an Oscar in 2020, and the popularity of k-pop, with BTS topping the 2021 music charts, Korean content is increasingly attracting attention and investment worldwide.