By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, May 30 (Yonhap) -- A growing number of Korean filmmakers have launched drama series on streaming platforms to reach a wider audience amid the sluggish film industry and changing consumer trends.
Following the global success of the Netflix series "Squid Game" (2021) directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, these streaming platforms, also known as over-the-top (OTT) platforms, have emerged as a more practical and cost-effective choice for filmmakers grappling with financial constraints.
As theatrical releases of new films were on hold amid the COVID-19 pandemic and deep-pocketed streaming services increased investment in original content, several Korean filmmakers have collaborated with OTT platforms to work on drama series.
Cho Eui-seok, best known for "Master" (2016) and "Cold Eyes" (2013), directed Netflix's new sci-fi series "Black Knight," which depicts stark social divide in a dystopian future devastated by severe air pollution.
Cho said he decided to work on the TV series for the first time since his debut in 2002 considering the slim chance of drawing investment for new film projects.
"I heard that investment for several films has been hold and there are over 60 movies that haven't been able to hit screens," Cho said in a recent media interview. "I thought it would be a little difficult to work on new films for a while."
Lee Jong-pil, who took the helm of film dramas "Samjin Company English Class" (2020) and "Born to Sing" (2013), also presented his first TV drama series "One Day Off" on local platform Wavve.
The eight-part omnibus drama series starring actor Lee Na-young follows a high school teacher who travels around the country on Saturdays to escape from the drudgery of her life.
Behind the latest trend lies the growing consumer interest in OTT content, as viewers often indulge in "binge watching," where they watch multiple episodes or even entire seasons of a TV series in one sitting.
As drama series offer more flexibility in length, narrative structure and release schedules, many filmmakers now find it more attractive to present their works on streaming services.
Lee Joon-ik, the acclaimed director known for "The King and the Clown" (2005) and "Radio Star" (2006), debuted on the streaming platform with Tving's sci-fi series "Beyond the Memory" in November.
The 63-year-old said he decided to work on the drama based on Kim Jang-hwan's 2011 sci-fi novel "Good-bye Yonder" following one failed attempt for its film adaptation a decade ago.
"I was surprised by the original novel's story that goes ahead of our time, but I had failed in making it into a movie," Lee said in a press conference in November. "I thought OTT platforms would allow me to convey the story more in-depth."
Yoon Jong-bin, who directed the hit Netflix series "Narco-Saints" last year, struck a similar note regarding his creative choices.
Known for such hit films as "Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time" (2012) and "Kundo: Age of the Rampant" (2014), Yoon was first offered to make the crime thriller into a film, but he opted to join hands with Netflix to achieve depth in the story.
"I insisted on a drama series to tell narratives of the real-life character. If I cut narratives of the protagonist and make it into a two-hour film, I thought it would be indistinctive from other movies," Yoon said in a media interview in September.
(3rd LD) National Assembly passes arrest motion against opposition leader
USFK soldier, 2 women arrested for drug trafficking
(LEAD) U.S. to ensure S. Korean chipmakers' smooth operation regarding China curbs: deputy secretary
(LEAD) Fighter jet crashes in Seosan; pilot makes emergency escape
Actor Yoo Ah-in apologizes ahead of arrest warrant decision by court over illegal drug use
Webtoons at crossroads: Is AI opportunity or threat?
From hip-hop idols to global superstars, BTS shatters records over decade
Directors thrive on streaming platforms amid sluggish film industry
True-crime documentaries lure viewers to streaming platforms
CJ CGV transforms multiplexes into sports, entertainment venues