Netflix to release 7 reality shows this year

A scene from ″Zombieverse,″ a new reality television show to be released later this year. [NETFLIX]

Netflix is out to grab audiences’ attention with Korean original reality television shows. While there is a preconception that reality television can only cater to regional audiences, Netflix has proven those preconceptions wrong, as seen with high viewership ratings. Now, the streaming service is lining up more reality television originals to make the most of the current trend.

Netflix’s nonfiction content including reality television shows and documentaries such as “Physical:100” and “In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal” topped streaming service rankings in the first quarter of 2023. “Phyical:100” reached the No. 1 spot for non-English language shows on Netflix in over 30 countries, according to aggregator FlixPatrol.

Such ranking results, along with rave reviews, have heightened expectations for Korean reality television globally, with outlets such as the BBC predicting that “K-reality” shows could be the next cultural trend.

Netflix addressed these expectations and revealed a lineup for this year’s Korean reality television shows during a press conference in central Seoul on Tuesday. A total of seven new reality television originals are awaiting release, according to Netflix Korea.

Season three of the hit show “Single’s Inferno,” new dating original “19/20,” mind-game survival “The Devil's Plan,” combat survival “Siren: Survive the Island” and zombie apocalypse show “Zombieverse” are all set for release this year.

Yoo Ki-hwan, director of nonfiction content at Netflix Korea [NETFLIX]

“With ‘Physical:100’ we have reached No. 1 globally with a Korean reality television original,” said Director of Nonfiction Content at Netflix Korea Yoo Ki-hwan, during the press conference. “And there was this idea that reality television could not cater to global audiences since this genre usually focuses on local aspects. But now we are reaching far and beyond.”

Before “In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal,” documentaries about Korea on global streaming services like Netflix were produced by non-Korean companies and producers, according to Yoo.

“We plan to increase more documentary content and reality television made directly by Korean creators,” said Yoo. “And more mid-form reality television, which is when production periods are shortened and the content is more approachable to audiences, will be introduced on Netflix.”

Title card for season three of ″Single's Inferno″ [NETFLIX]

Of the lineup of seven new reality television, perhaps “Single’s Inferno” season three is the most anticipated. On the show, single people are encouraged to search for a partner on a deserted island and can only “escape” the island when they match with a love interest.

A scene from ″Nineteen to Twenty,″ a new reality television show to be released later this year. [NETFLIX]

“Nineteen to Twenty” aims to depict youthful love. Young people aged between 19 and 20 are grouped together in a house, and the show tries to “evoke romantic memories of [audiences’] youth.”

A scene from ″The Devil's Plan,″ a new reality television show to be released later this year. [NETFLIX]

“The Devil’s Plan” is a mind-game survival show directed by producer Jeong Jong-Yeon, who produced and directed massive hit reality shows such as “Great Escape” (2018-2023), “High School Mystery Club” (2022) and “The Genius” (2013-2015) The show includes celebrities, influencers and recruits trying to gauge each other’s identities.

“Siren: Survive the Island” is another survival show but differentiates itself with its all-women participants who are professionals in six physically challenging jobs such as the police, bodyguards and the military. They compete against each other for one to be named the final winner.

A scene from ″Siren: Survive the Island,″ a new reality television show to be released later this year. [NETFLIX]

Finally, “Zombieverse” takes on one of Netflix’s signature genres — zombie horror — and turns it around into a reality television show. Participants must survive a zombie apocalypse setup. The art team and action choreographers from hit Netflix series such as “All of Us Are Dead” (2022) and “Kingdom” (2019) took part in the making of “Zombieverse,” according to Netflix.

With this lineup of reality television originals, Netflix is certainly aiming to continue the success of its reality originals but whether these shows can effectively carry on the zeitgeist of K-reality is up in the air.