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Netflix CEO says $2.5 billion Korean investment won’t exploit local talent


SEOUL (Reuters) – Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos pledged on Thursday that its bumper investment in South Korean content would not bypass young local talent, after calls by some lawmakers for the streaming giant to share more profits with creators.

South Korea has created some of the Californian company’s biggest shows, which have become synonymous with the broader international success of the country’s cultural exports and spurred it to announce a $2.5 billion investment in Korean content in April.

Netflix guaranteed that creators and producers were paid fairly and also nurtured young talent, said Sarandos, who also cited a report that the success of Korean content like “Squid Game” had created thousands of jobs.

“Between 2022 and 2025 for example, one in five of our titles made for Netflix will come from a first-time writer or first-time director,” he told a press conference in Seoul.

Sarandos also said that Netflix was working with the Korea Radio Promotion Association to help talented youngsters gain experience in the production industry.

Don Kang, Netflix’s vice president of Korean content, said the company was planning to expand its content investment to films and non-fiction, after previously focusing on series.

Sarandos, who is on his first visit to South Korea as co-CEO, said Scanline and Eyeline Studios Korea, a Netflix subsidiary, would invest $100 million in local content over the next six years, which is additional to the $2.5 billion announced in April.

He is due to meet Prime Minister Han Duck-soo on Thursday to discuss cooperation in the entertainment industry between South Korea and the United States in the video streaming market.

On Wednesday, Sarandos met with celebrated South Korean director Park Chan-wook and film students and said telling stories from other countries, not just Hollywood, was his “most proud decision”.

South Korea has produced four of Netflix’s 10 most-watched non-English language series, including “Squid Game”, “The Glory” and “Extraordinary Attorney Woo”.

Some creators who have worked with the company say Netflix has taken a chance on them when others did not.

But as Netflix is by far the biggest streaming platform in South Korea, there are also concerns over its dominance.

Against this backdrop, the government last week announced plans to provide 500 billion won ($390.09 million) to help local streaming platforms compete with global rivals such as Netflix amid soaring production costs.

($1 = 1,293.1100 won)

(Reporting by Hyunsu Yim; Editing by Ed Davies and Sam Holmes)

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