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Netflix raises subscription fees in S. Korea amid controversies over network usage

It 11:46 November 19, 2021

SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) -- U.S. streaming giant Netflix has raised its monthly subscription fees in South Korea as increased data traffic over its hit "Squid Game" rekindled controversies with internet service providers over network usage.

Netflix's premium plan jumped to 17,000 Korean won (US$14), up 17.2 percent from 14,500 won, in the latest subscription plans posted on its website Thursday.

The standard plan rose to 13,500 won, up 12.5 percent from 12,000 won. The basic plan remained unchanged at 9,500 won.

The price hike -- the first since Netflix launched its streaming service in South Korea in 2016 -- came amid criticism in South Korea for refusing to pay for network usage despite increased data traffic.

South Korean internet service providers have accused Netflix of free-riding on their networks despite huge traffic overload caused by the streaming service.

In September, SK Broadband filed a lawsuit against Netflix to demand network usage fees, saying that Netflix did not come forward for talks even after a court ruling in June that it is "reasonable" for Netflix to provide something in return for the service.

Dean Garfield, vice president of global public policy at Netflix, said earlier this month in Seoul that he is well aware of controversies surrounding costs from increased network traffic due to a surge of viewers in South Korea. The number of subscribers in South Korea is estimated to have increased to about 4 million.

Still, he did not say whether Netflix will pay for its network usage.

Netflix also faces increasing competition in the South Korean streaming market as Disney+, the flagship streaming service of U.S. media giant Walt Disney Co., and Apple TV+ landed in South Korea earlier this month.

Apple's streaming service is competitively priced in South Korea against rivals, with a monthly subscription fee of 6,500 won, while Disney charges a monthly subscription fee of 9,900 won.

This image from Yonhap News TV shows the logo of global video streaming giant Netflix and its services. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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