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South Korea’s Netflix hit The Devil’s Plan expands realm of survival game shows

SEOUL – South Korean survival game show The Devil’s Plan became a global hit soon after its Sept 26 release on Netflix.

The 12-episode series became the most-watched show in South Korea and ranked third in the global top 10 non-English TV show list on Netflix. The finale streamed on Oct 10.

Twelve contestants with different occupations - including a lawyer, actor, doctor, YouTube creator and university student - face off in games of intelligence, wit and strategy.

“It was kind of stressful to see the ranking that Netflix revealed every week,” said The Devil’s Plan produer Jung Jong-yeon in a recent interview with The Korea Herald.

“I was a bit anxious about whether viewers would like the show. But I feel tremendously happy and thankful for the response.”

While most of the players are well-known South Korean personalities, such as K-drama actor Ha Seok-jin, entertainer Park Kyung-rim, announcer Lee Hye-sung and YouTubers Orbit and Gwak Joon-bin, Jung said he added two non-celebrities who were recruited via an open casting to add spice to the show.

“Because it’s a new show, it was difficult for me to just cast new faces,” said Jung. He added he liked how the non-celebrity contestants challenged the stars in the reality series..

Jung said he is grateful he was able to offer an immersive experience to a global audience amid the plethora of content available. Viewers were said to be drawn to the emotional ups and downs among the players as they get eliminated and advance to the next stages

“If I had known that this programme would be loved by people around the world, I would have made it more international viewer-friendly, such as introducing game rules in English or having scenes that global audiences can relate to,” he added.

Producer Jung Jong-yeon is "happy and thankful" The Devil's Plan is well-received. PHOTO: NETFLIX

In The Devil’s Plan, the contestants form alliances, employing starkly different strategies in each game.

Actor Ha and actress Lee Si-won, the top-ranking players, took risks of being penalised, whereas the other alliance formed by Orbit and lawyer Seo Dong-joo focused on acting in the team’s best interests to save everyone and help each other.

Jung said: “What I prioritised was showing the development and growth of the characters. In the beginning, Ha seemed to not adjust well to the game rules and survival reality setting.

“But after a few days, I saw him immersed in the play, creating some dramatic and even romantic scenes with his closest ally Si-won.”

South Korean reality survival show The Devil's Plan was ranked third in the global top 10 non-English TV show list on Netflix. PHOTO: NETFLIX K-CONTENT/YOUTUBE

Ha, the winner of The Devil’s Plan, said the five years of participating in the well-known South Korean quiz show Problematic Men (2015 to 2020) helped him a lot during the week-long competition.

“The last five days felt like five months. The games were very tricky and all the members felt like family, so it was really hard to see them leave as I advanced to the next stages,” the 41-year-old said in a separate interview.

When asked what was the key to winning, he said “consistency”.

“You can still learn many things and absorb much knowledge in your 30s and 40s. You should have the mindset that you can still do something faster than a high schooler.”

And what about the 250 million won (S$253,000) prize money? Ha said it is safe and sound in his bank account. - THE KOREA HERALD/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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