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Korean Wave Rolls On With Renewed Broadcast Export Success

South Korean content producers find new markets at global TV and digital forum.

Photo: Descending on Israeli viewers: Korea’s Descendants of the Sun.
Descending on Israeli viewers: Korea's Descendants of the Sun.
Photo: Descending on Israeli viewers: Korea’s Descendants of the Sun.
Descending on Israeli viewers: Korea's Descendants of the Sun.

The South Korean Wave seems to be continuing unabated following a string of successes at this year's Marché International des Programmes de Télévision (MIPTV) event in Cannes. Overall, the country is claiming to have signed deals worth some US$11.16 million at this year's industry gathering, many of which will see its programming and television formats exported to several entirely new overseas markets.

The MIPTV is one of the world's biggest TV and digital content markets, with the annual event regularly attracting the most prestigious international names in the TV, film, digital, audiovisual, production and distribution industries. Functioning as both a market conference and a networking forum, its remit is to both identify future trends and trade content rights at a global level.

The event is high on South Korea's priority list, with the country having enjoyed unprecedented success in exporting its pop culture formats over the last 10 years. Initially finding a ready welcome in Asia – particularly in China, where its soap operas became a staple of network television – the country has increasingly looked to carry the so-called Korean Wave into new markets in the west. In total, some 34 South Korean broadcasting and animation companies participated in this year's event.

According to Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Creative Content Agency – the two bodies charged with nurturing the country's cultural exports – the combined sale of Korean broadcasting content was up 16% year-on-year when compared to the volume of deals signed at the MIPTV 2015 event.

Notable successes this year included the sale of Descendants of the Sun to Israel and 30 other countries. This military romance was originally produced by KBS, Korea's national broadcaster. Two other KBS productions – Oh My Venus and The Return of Superman – were sold as a package to a number of Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, Iraq and Jordan.

In the case of MBC, Korea's publicly owned, commercially funded network, its Pretty Woman drama was also sold to several Middle East broadcasters. In something of a coup for the network, W, its upcoming fantasy drama, was snapped up by the Philippines even before the first episode had been broadcast in its home market.

Earlier in the year, 23 Korean film and video production companies secured export deals during FILMART, Hong Kong's annual international TV and film expo. According to Korean government sources, the total value of these deals was in excess of $12.74 million.

Michelle Lee, Seoul Consultant

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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