In recent years, interest in Korean and other foreign language dramas has been on the rise ever since ‘Parasite’ won the Academy Awards Best Picture in 2020. Netflix is one of the few more prominent streaming services that provide viewers with Korean dramas with subtitles and dubbed versions in other languages. The company has realized that dubbing has played a vital role in attracting more viewers to foreign tv shows and films on the streaming platform. The most popular K-drama series is ‘Squid Game’ which was released in September 2021. The drama had 1.65 billion viewing hours in the first 28 days of streaming. Dubbing this series was crucial because more people watched it dubbed over the original Korean cast version.
Netflix’s newest up-and-coming Korean drama series is ‘All of Us Are Dead,’ released earlier this January in five languages. It has reached the top 10 in 89 countries, including the US. The streaming platform faces more competition than ever, along with slower subscriber growth. So they must get the translations right. Netflix has massively invested in foreign language programming to capture the attention of their global audience of 222 million subscribers. Netflix takes dubbing very seriously in the recording studio. The director, associate producer, and engineer watch and replay scenes from the drama with the English audio. They make sure that the English words match up with the movement of the actor’s mouths and that the performance is authentic to the script. The three will continue to do this and have the voice actors redo recordings to get the perfect fit.
In 2020, Netflix had dubbed 5 million minutes of programming and subtitled 7 million minutes. Dubbed programming consumption increased 120% from 2020 to 2021. Korean content has become especially popular and increased sixfold from 2019 to 2021. This year Netflix plans to release at least 25 titles in Korean compared to the 15 released last year. Netflix believes that great stories are universal, which is why they are so passionate about removing the language barrier and making it an asset to connecting stories and emotions.
Dubbing shows and movies make the programming more accessible to consumers who do not like or cannot read subtitles. Netflix started dubbing back in 2015 but now provides subtitles in 37 languages and dubs up to 34. This process has created more jobs in the industry and looks for new talent to expand. Now the question is, will other streaming platforms like Hulu follow the dubbing trend? Or will streaming platforms like HBO+ add K-dramas to the mix?