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5 strategies for ‘Solo Hell’ that overturned Netflix’s entertainment version

Netflix’s ‘Solo Hell’ ranked fifth in the world on the 9th as a Netflix TV show. (Based on the Netflix ranking program Flixpetrol) This is the highest ranking among Korean entertainment programs. There have been many times when Korean content such as ‘Squid Game’ and ‘D.P’ recorded high rankings on Netflix, but this is the first time that a Korean entertainment program has entered the top 10 global rankings. It was difficult for entertainment programs produced by star PDs to enter the global rankings.

In particular, Solo Hell ranked first in 9 countries including Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. It ranked 7th in the US and 8th in Europe, including the UK, France and Germany.

Solo Hell is a dating reality show that takes place on ‘Hell Road’, a remote island where you can only go outside as a couple. It is an entertainment produced by Netflix in partnership with JTBC, and directed by Kim Jae-won of JTBC’s ‘Traveler’ and ‘Genre Comedy’ and Kim Na-hyun of ‘It Can’t Be No.

Media Today, during the online round interview of two PDs held on the 11th, we summarized the reasons why Solo Hell was ‘eaten’ in the global market.

1. Above all, the hottest cast.

Producer Nahyeon Kim (hereafter referred to as Nahyeon): “There was no compulsion to only hire ordinary people who were not related to the entertainment industry. I wanted to hire someone who knows their charms well. Since it is a dating program that emphasizes ‘honesty’ rather than a traditional Korean dating program, the emotional changes shown by the performers were quick. Because of this, I think overseas fans also sympathized with me.”

Jaewon Kim (hereinafter Jaewon): “At the recruitment stage, I gathered a lot of friends who exercise. When I gathered the cast, I found that they were honest with their emotions, and their self-esteem was high due to thorough self-management. It is also full of external charm. I think viewers from other countries also found this aspect attractive.”

▲ A scene from Netflix’s ‘Solo Hell’.

2. Propaganda of the charm ‘national representative’.

In the round interview that day, questions about Song Ji-a (YouTuber Freesia), who is gaining popularity among the performers in Solo Hell, were poured out. From the question of how he was cast, there were also pointed out that Song Ji-ah was the only one paying too much attention.

Jae Won: “At the time of casting for the program, I was recommended to performers, and Song Ji-ah was among them. I met him because he said he was ‘hot’, but he was actually really ‘hot’. ‘Hot’ is a difficult word to define, but I thought if ‘hot’ was made into a human, it would be Song Jia. When I first produced a program with Netflix, I thought that I wanted to make a ‘hot dating program’. After watching Song Ji-ah’s YouTube, I was convinced. He was a new generation, and I thought he would show us a generation we had never seen before. He has a lot of interest in fashion and beauty, and he knew how to properly incorporate it into his story. I thought it was the perfect casting. So now I think we have a friend who is popular enough to be popular with a surprising response.”

Nahyeon: “I said something while editing the conversation between Song Jia and another man. If there is a national representative in a relationship, it is Song Ji-ah.”

Jae Won: “To be precise, it was said, ‘If there is an Olympic attraction, Song Ji-ah is the national representative’.”

▲ The cast of 'Solo Hell' is receiving a lot of attention, Song Ji-ah.
▲ The cast of ‘Solo Hell’ is receiving a lot of attention, Song Ji-ah.

3. Minimize subtitles, minimize running time.

Nahyeon: “Unless it is absolutely necessary, we also minimized subtitles.”

Jae Won: “I thought there would be a barrier to entry if there were a lot of subtitles. The time aspect was also taken care of. Overseas entertainment usually lasted 40-50 minutes per episode. A Korean entertainment show is usually 80 to 90 minutes long. I thought the long program time would be a barrier to entry. For this reason, I thought it was short, about 60 minutes per side, and edited it not to exceed 70 minutes at the most. The editing style was also very restrained and edited a lot except for the love line scenes.”

▲JTBC Producer Na-hyun Kim and Jae-won Kim, who created Netflix's 'Solo Hell'.
▲JTBC Producer Na-hyun Kim and Jae-won Kim, who created Netflix’s ‘Solo Hell’.

4. The end of tuning is pure.

Nahyeon: “We (PD) both like dating programs. If you look at recent dating programs, there are formats that add one setting to the basic format. Such was the case with ‘Transfer Romance’ or ‘Doll Singles’. The pro has its own charm, and in the case of our pro, we thought of returning to the origin of the dating program. There is a clear concept, but should it be said that it is a ‘pure version’ of a dating program without additional settings? I wanted to make a dating program with less tuning.”

▲ Solo hell, where the focus is on clearing up other settings and having a hot romance on an uninhabited island.
▲ Solo hell, where the focus is on clearing up other settings and having a hot romance on an uninhabited island.

5. Ample production period and wide freedom of expression.

Media Today asked the two PDs to ‘Tell me the pros and cons of the production experience in the general programming channel and the Netflix production experience’.

Nahyeon: “The best part I felt as a PD was that the production period was very long. Previously, I had been broadcasting weekly, but when I made a program every week, there was a part where I gave up as a director in terms of quality. It was always sad. Netflix Solo Hell was filmed in summer and launched in winter. There was plenty of time for painstaking post-production work. It was a very luxurious experience as a PD.”

Jae Won: “Netflix was open to freedom of expression. They did not care about the content, and the production scale was also free. It was a project that was close to my dream as a PD.”

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