Kakao Entertainment continued to establish itself as a major production studio with a number of strong successes in the global entertainment industry this year, including the creative production of 15 beloved hits on global TV, cinema, and overseas streaming platforms. Working in concert with talented creative teams at its subsidiary companies, the company demonstrated streamlined internal production, planning, and development capabilities, as well as its ability to back the production system commercially.
The lineup for 2022 ran the gamut of genres from romance comedies to dramas, action films, crime stories and thrillers, and included titles like “Business Proposal,” “Broker,” “Hunt,” “Narco-Saints,” and “Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area,” all of which were well received by audiences around the world.
The first half of the year got off to a strong start, with two globally loved films, “Broker” and “Hunt,” premiering to warm receptions at the 75th Cannes Film Festival in May. “Broker,” which was produced by Kakao Entertainment’s production subsidiary, Zip Cinema, was selected as a Competition title. “Hunt,” produced by subsidiary Sanai Pictures, was chosen for Out of Competition and Midnight Screening. Further accolades came in the form of a Best Actor award for Song Kang-ho for his performance in “Broker,” while actor Lee Jung-jae made his directorial debut to great success with “Hunt,” which went on to be pre-sold in 144 countries, driven by high interest in the film after its appearance at Cannes.
This was followed in the second half with the release of “Narco-Saints,” a Korean Netflix original series produced by Kakao Entertainment subsidiary Moonlight Film. It pulled in 130 million hours of viewing worldwide in just one month (Sept. 9 – Oct. 9) and topped Netflix’s non-English TV shows ranking globally. It also made the top 10 list for the TV show category in 82 countries in the third week of September, once again proving the enduring strength of demand for K-content globally.
Kakao Entertainment also produced a variety of romantic comedies that landed well with global audiences. The drama “Business Proposal,” which aired earlier this year, is based on a web novel and webtoon of the same name originally published on KakaoPage. It was produced by Kakao Entertainment and its subsidiary studio Kross Pictures, with Kakao Entertainment’s music label contributing to the production of the soundtrack. The show set another milestone for K-content by making it to the top 10 of the non-English TV show list and remained there for 13 consecutive weeks. By expanding its original story IP to TV productions and soundtracks, Kakao Entertainment proved its capacity for content creation with a powerful IP value chain that connects the key elements of story, media, and music.
Another Kakao Entertainment series, “Forecasting Love and Weather,” illustrates the work and love life of employees from Korea’s National Weather Service. With lines that draw straight from the weather forecast dictionary, the show uses weather as a metaphor for moods and emotions, echoing the capriciousness of the four characters who are involved in office romance. It also made it to Netflix’s top 10 non-English TV show category.
The KakaoTV original series, “Welcome to Wedding Hell,” was planned and directed by Kakao Entertainment’s media business division. It depicts a Korean couple in their 30s preparing for their marriage, a story that is exceptionally relatable to many young couples in Korea. It made its way to Netflix’s top 10 Korean show list when it was released. Another KakaoTV original, “Once Upon a Small Town,” was released simultaneously on KakaoTV and Netflix, drawing attention with a captivating story about friendship and love between three friends living in the countryside.
This year, Kakao Entertainment diversified its approach to storytelling with the remake of several commercially successful foreign productions for the Korean audience. The best known of these might be “Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area,” produced by BH Entertainment and Zium Content. The series is a Korean Netflix original and an adaptation of the popular Spanish crime drama, “La Casa de Papel (Money Heist).” The imminent unification of the Korean peninsula forms the backdrop to the remake, with other additional elements unique to Korea such as a new character named after the capital of South Korea, Seoul. Season 1 was released in June, and Season 2 in December.
Another local production that helped expand the K-content fanbase worldwide is “Behind Every Star,” a Korean take on the French hit and International Emmy Award-winning “Call My Agent.” It was co-produced by Kakao Entertainment’s subsidiary Baram Pictures and Studio Dragon. Produced by Moonlight Film, another Korean film adaptation with the same title as the Canadian-German film, “Remember,” offers a similar plot to the original with some unique regional differences. In the original, the story is about an old man getting his revenge on Nazis who murdered his family. In the remake, an old Korean man seeks revenge on traitors who assisted the Japanese army and murdered his family during the period of Japan’s colonization of Korea. The cast, including Nam Joo-hyuk and Lee Sung-min, gave outstanding performances in the film and received strong praise from the public as well as film critics.
Kakao Entertainment’s original content pulled on the heartstrings of both Korean and global fans with creative approaches and unique subjects and plotlines. The TV show, “Military Prosecutor Doberman,” a co-production by Logos Film and Studio Dragon, aired earlier this year and drew much attention for setting the story in a military court. This was a first in Korea, and it recorded a 12.1 percent viewership within the Seoul Metropolitan Area, according to Nielson Korea, ranking No. 1 in viewership among programs airing at the same time across all channels. Another drama, “The First Responders,” a co-production with Mega Monster and Studio S, is an action drama about first responders from the police, fire, and EMS, working together in emergency situations to fight against crime and disaster.
“Kakao Entertainment showed its competitive edge in the fierce global entertainment industry with its tight network of creatives joined in great synergy by our head office and talented subsidiaries,” said, Jang Sejeong, Kakao Entertainment’s head of scripted content business. “We plan to continue to establish Kakao Entertainment as a major global studio that leads the way for K-content on the international stage with compelling content that comes straight from our creative DNA.” As the year 2022 comes to close, here is a sneak peek of next year’s lineup. “Gyeongseong Creature,” starring Park Seo-jun and Han So-hee, is a large-scale production that will be written by Kang Eun-kyung from the Gleline creator group and co-produced by Kakao Entertainment’s subsidiary STORY & PICTURES MEDIA as well as Studio Dragon. Set in the city of Gyeongseong (current Seoul) in the spring of 1945, the thriller follows the story of individuals going up against monstrous creatures born out of human greed. “The Worst of Evil” is another upcoming K-drama, which portrays the story of an undercover police investigation into drug cartels in Korea, China and Japan. The show is set to be produced by Kakao Entertainment’s subsidiaries, Baram Pictures and Sanai Pictures.