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[HanCinema's News] Lee Eung-bok Makes Convincing Comeback With "Sweet Home"

2020/12/19

Director Lee Eung-bok is best known for his long-time partnership with screenwriter Kim Eun-sook. Together, the pair made the hit dramas "Descendants of the Sun", ""Goblin", and "Mr. Sunshine", So it was something of a surprise when "The King: Eternal Monarch" was announced and while Kim Eun-sook was to be the screenwriter, Lee Eung-bok was nowhere to be found despite his similarly being overdue for a new project. With "Sweet Home" Lee Eung-bok has made his return- and wisely.

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"Sweet Home" is a creature feature, centering around survivors of a real world setting forced to deal with monsters. Such dramas are rarely produced for South Korean television, but Netflix already had precedent for such work with "Kingdom". Netflix was also willing to provide a fairly robust budget to bring the webtoon adaptation to life. Purportedly, despite the thirty million dollar budget director Lee Eung-bok was able to keep practical costs relatively close to a standard television drama.

This is due to the script minimizing monster appearances, as well as frugal use of reusable sets and computer graphics as appropriate. However, "Sweet Home" is more a character-based drama than a special effects extravaganza to begin with. The story deals with various neighbors in the same living area, many of whom don't really know each other that well, in a high-stress situation where anyone could turn into a monster at any time. Despite the supernatural elements, the framing is down to earth.

"Sweet Home" is also proving to be very on-brand for Netflix as the streaming giant has become a noteworthy purveyor of fantastic genre media in the South Korean market. South Korean television has taken a turn for the literal, with popular dramas like "The World of the Married" and "The Penthouse" very bluntly succeeding in direct head-to-head conflict between characters. Netflix has elsewhere focused on worldbuilding intensive stories like "Kingdom" and "Arthdal Chronicles" to different success.

With Disney Plus set to launch in South Korea next year, Netflix is working hard to solidify its brand for high concept dramatic storytelling. The aptitude of Netflix in acquiring Lee Eung-bok shows off one of their subtler advantages. The promise of long-term creative attitude is an enticing one, and Netflix already has a strong reputation for promoting such work.

Written by William Schwartz

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