Chinese Streaming Giant iQIYI To Produce Its First Korean Original Series ‘Roommate’
iQIYI has made solid progress in building oversea teams, developing original contents with many local production teams following the 2019 worldwide rollout of its app.
Since then, iQIYI began to curate and produce locally. Yang Xianghua, president of membership and overseas business group of iQIYI, said that the company is in the process of setting up local offices in four countries across South-east Asia region (Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia). In addition, he said that there are also plans to establish localized teams in South Korea. This announcement was released in July and the very first original series is on its way to meet international viewers.
With Korean-language content gaining massive popularity in Asia, iQIYI has officially announced production of its first Korean original series, “My Roommate is a Gumiho.” The dramatization of the popular Naver webtoon “Living Together” will be produced through local production houses: Studio Dragon and JTBC Studio. In addition, the series will be developed by industry acclaimed screenwriter Baek Sun-woo whose previous hit includes “What’s Wrong” with Secretary Kim”.
Photo source: iQIYI International
This rom-com series that is currently under production is scheduled to be broadcast in the first half of 2021. It’s about a 999-year-old Gumi-ho, a fox creature with nine tails that appears in the tales and legends of Korea, named Shin-woo-yeo living with Lee-dam, a young female college student. In particular, “My Roommate is a Gumiho” is a popular Naver webtoon with a rating of 9.97, which started serialization in 2017.
Photo source: Naver webtoon capture, Jang Hye-ri's Instagram
The main cast will be actor Jang Ki-yong and Lee Hye-ri and this special casting duo is raising expectations even more. Hye-ri is proven to have exceptional acting skills through the dramas “Miss Lee” and “Reply 1988”, solidifying her position as a promising actress. Together, they boast the high synchro rate with the characters from the original webtoon.
Photo source: Naver webtoon capture, Jang Ki-yong's Instagram photo courtesy marie claire
According to Asian TV forum & Market(ATF), it is announced that iQIYI will be retained and exploited worldwide while local broadcaster tvN will be responsible for Korean market. The overall production will be oversaw by its international branch, a Singapore-based unit that consolidates iQIYI’s activities outside Greater China.
Up until now, iQIYI International have successfully licensed 29 Korean shows in 2020 alone for streaming outside mainland China. In June, iQIYI appointed Kuek Yu-Chuang, former VP at Netflix Asia Pacific region, as Vice president of International business. In a recent interview, he said “ Our first Korean original show is made in partnership with some of Korea’s top storytellers and production companies. More importantly, this is only the first step in the long journey of bringing more beloved Asian stories to a global audience.”
“This comes on the back of a pivotal year 2020 for us, as we embarked on our international expansion in earnest. We reinforced our content growth with investments in more markets and will continue expanding our presence locally by bringing on more content and production teams,” said Yang Xianghua.
Besides the new Korean original, iQIYI International also expects to release its first Southeast Asian original production, including “Ferrymen: Legends of the Nanyang,” in 2021 and follow up with “Sisterhood,” in 2022.