More Than Squid Game: The International Rise Of K-Dramas


More Than Squid Game: The International Rise Of K-Dramas

By Avery Kleinman , Katie Anastas / Oct 19, 2021

Squid Game has surpassed Bridgerton as Netflix’s number one show.

The Korean Netflix series Squid Game is taking the world by storm. The story follows Seong Gi-hun, a divorced father deeply in debt, as he competes in a series of deadly children’s games for a cash prize.

It took the #1 spot on Netflix in 90 countries within 10 days of its premiere, and it’s the first Korean series to reach #1 in the U.S.

According to Netflix, U.S. viewing of K-dramas has doubled since 2019, and accelerated even more since the start of the pandemic. But the rise in K-dramas popularity outside of Korea has been years in the making, from immigrants selling VHS tapes in Korean grocery stores to volunteers around the world subtitling shows online.

What do audiences find in K-dramas that they don’t in American TV? What role do streaming services like Netflix, Kocowa, and Viki play in the industry? What can this teach us about globalization?


Justine Napoles McKay

head of marketing, KOCOWA

Anisa Khalifa

co-host, Dramas Over Flowers

Robert Ji-Song Ku

chair and associate professor, Department of Asian and Asian American Studies, Binghamton University; author, “Dubious Gastronomy: The Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA”

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