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Netflix touts South Korea success flagging $4.7 billion GDP boost

ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, left, and actress Tilda Swinton attend at the press conference for their latest film “Okja” in Seoul, South Korea, in 2017.
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ASSOCIATED PRESS

South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, left, and actress Tilda Swinton attend at the press conference for their latest film “Okja” in Seoul, South Korea, in 2017.

Netflix Inc. celebrated its successful foray into South Korea by highlighting its contributions to the country’s economy increasingly fueled by entertainment businesses.

The streaming giant has had a series of hit shows by partnering with creative studios in South Korea since it began offering service in the country in 2016. The latest hit — Squid Game — has topped its global rankings this month, becoming the first Korean drama to claim the No. 1 spot in the U.S.

The show is a product of Netflix’s aggressive expansion in South Korea. Netflix added 5.6 trillion won ($4.7 billion) to the economy between 2016 and 2020, with 2.3 trillion won in just last year alone, the company said Wednesday in a report jointly written with Deloitte.

The economic contribution represents production and distribution by Netflix and the impact on industries like publishing, comics, music, tourism and food and fashion, it said. Across these industries, the firm said it created 16,000 full-time jobs over the period.

Netflix has set up two studios and produced 80 films and series since 2016 and now commands 3.8 million subscribers in South Korea, the report shows. It has invested about 770 billion won into creating original content in the country.

Netflix is partly riding on the rise of South Korea’s entertainment industry, which has seen many of its creators and actors gain fame on the international stage. The list includes Bong Joon-ho, who won the best director Oscar for “Parasite” in 2020, Youn Yuh-jung who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress this year, and BTS, a seven-member boy band commanding armies of loyal fans across the globe.

Entertainment is one of South Korea’s fastest-growing sectors along with technology. The number of workers in creative and artistic services grew 27% between 2009 and 2019 while that in manufacturing, a traditional engine for economic growth, increased 20% in the same period, according to data from the website of Statistics Korea.

Still, in terms of exports, overseas sales from the media and content industry is still small relative to manufactured items. Exports from the cultural industry grew 6.3% last year to $10.8 billion, according to the Korea Creative Content Agency.

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