Meet the IP Business Unit of SWEET HOME and CRASH LANDING ON YOU Producer Studio Dragon
- Writerby Pierce Conran
Studio Dragon recorded its highest yearly performance last year thanks to the popularity of their series Sweet Home and Crash Landing on You, but the company is also keen on transposing its intellectual properties into other genres and unto various platforms. The strange universe introduced by Hotel Del Luna can now be visited with an escape room in Seoul, and the fairy tale book the main protagonist is seen writing in It’s Okay to Not Be Okay now exists as an actual book anyone can purchase. The target audience and scope of Studio Dragon’s licensing business are expanding in proportion to the increasing appeal of its titles around the globe, propelled by streaming services. An exhibition on Crash Landing on You opened in Japan in January and is about to be prolonged due to the enthusiasm of local fans. Today we talk with Chae Ji-tak, Head of IP Business at Studio Dragon, about the new ways his company plans to make use of its franchises.
First of all, what kind of work do you do in the IP Business department?
We are responsible for planning and managing the company’s licensing business, and we do so by making use of the series properties produced by Studio Dragon and the elements in a said portfolio that can be commercialized. More specifically, this consists of producing derivative works, things like performances, exhibitions, video games, and publications through the licensing of our series properties, and also in commercializing content, which is licensing commercialization rights via the designing of products.
How would you rate your performance in 2020?
2020 was a year that saw many changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As you would expect, it was also the occasion for Studio Dragon to reconsider its direction. From the perspective of content production, the increased demand represented for us an opportunity to have more diversity in the works we produce, and in terms of business, that year was marked by a growth in overseas markets due to the expansion of our international audiences. Moreover, I think this was a period of transition as this area of business is moving from the offline to the digital realm, in keeping with the changes in consumption patterns.
In 2019, you announced a new strategy – Studio Dragon 2.0 – that consisted of driving profits in various areas such as games, animation, and collectibles through the development of your licensing business. Could you tell us about the specific projects that came out of this and their achievements?
Pursuing this strategy generated positive returns in several areas. We developed several projects in video games, exhibition and live performance based on series properties, including a stage musical adaptation of Another Oh Hae Young, an extremely popular series first aired in 2016, and new projects will be launched this year and the one after. Hotel Del Luna was turned into an exhibition and an escape room last year, while My Mister also received the escape room treatment last year and will return in another form in 2021 and 2022. We are also proactively developing new international projects for Crash Landing on You, with a special focus given to the Japanese market. Right now, in early February, we have an exhibition dedicated to the show running in Tokyo, with plans to move it to three other cities in Japan. Besides, we are planning and promoting various projects such as video game adaptations and space projects.
With the development of video streaming services, more Korean series are simulcast on both Korean channels and VOD platforms. This must have forced you to consider more foreign audiences.
Korean series were already held in the highest regard by internationals fans before the development of OTT platforms, it’s just that this phenomenon picked up speed with the advent of OTT platforms. As a result of this, overseas business is also expanding at a higher pace than in the past. Studio Dragon takes pride in being at the forefront of introducing K-dramas abroad, and with our licensing operations, instead of seeking instant profit, we are also pursuing a more thorough overseas expansion in a mid- and long-term perspective. We are currently laying the groundwork to allow overseas viewers to enjoy Korean series in a variety of ways, so please stay tuned.
Sweet Home, in particular, has so much international appeal that it had already been watched by 22 million paid subscribers around the world just four weeks after it debuted on Netflix in December of last year. Did you change the way you run your international operations after Sweet Home?
Whereas, in the past, romantic comedy was said to be a major genre that would connect with international audiences, it is estimated that Korea’s technological progress and the diversification of subject matters have led to a wider range of genres being covered. We believe this phenomenon is particularly more pronounced now that Kingdom and Sweet Home, both produced by Studio Dragon, successively gained much popularity around the world. We also estimate that the target market is now moving to the type of content favored by Millennials and Generation Z.
What are your IP Business plans for 2021?
This year seems set to be marked by a new leap forward. In the past, we served as a simple distribution channel that would deliver content, but in the future, we intend to expand our role as a platform. Additionally, we are planning to develop business areas that are likely to go on to be branded as their things and to promote new projects that will combine Studio Dragon’s products with leading trends such as overseas business expansion, digital platforms, metaverses, and XR.
As an IP business expert, what kind of properties do you consider particularly strong?
A TV series with a good production value that is beloved by viewers is a powerful intellectual property, and I think my role is to turn such property into a powerful one in terms of business.