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Single’s Inferno: Why this Korean dating show landed on Netflix’s global Top 10 list

A scene from the new Netflix Korean-language dating show, "Single's Inferno"

Given the popularity of Korean-language content on Netflix, it was inevitable that creators would start to explore different formats within this genre on the platform. We’ve had, for example, Korean-language horror, action, and crime stories. Also, thanks to the just-ended weekly release reality show Single’s Inferno, now a Korean dating show on Netflix. The final episode of this title’s inaugural season just dropped on Netflix over the weekend, bringing to a close this competition that featured a bunch of ridiculously good-looking young men and women ensconced amid the picturesque Korean island of Saseungbong-do.

According to Netflix’s latest global viewership data, almost 26 million people around the world checked out the show from January 3-9. This makes Single’s Inferno, now in its second week on a Netflix Top 10 list, the #4 non-English show worldwide on the streamer.

Single’s Inferno Netflix

If you have any interest in Korea at all? This 8-episode series is actually a fascinating look at how young people from Korea interact within a romantic context. And here’s one marked difference from the US. Notwithstanding the way this show came off in the marketing of it, it was way less sexualized than a Western counterpart. One like, say, Netflix’s Too Hot to Handle.

Across the entire series, there was only one kiss shown. And it was literally a peck on the cheek — one that made the male recipient swoon, nonetheless. Hand-holding, I realized, is also a super big deal to Koreans. They call it, as I understand it, “skinship.” It’s an apples-to-oranges comparison, really. But that’s a reference to hand-holding being on par with more of the physical intimacy a couple in the US might expect. And this is not to say Single’s Inferno was prudish or overly chaste. Just different, in a refreshing way.

Meanwhile, here’s how the show unfolded. All of the contestants start off living on an island called “inferno.” That basically just means they’re living close to the elements — minus the creature comforts we’re all used to. After a series of games and challenges each day? Contestants then get to either pair up or take someone they want on a date. To an island called “paradise,” where there’s a sumptuous, amenity-laden resort.

Landing on the Global Netflix Top 10

Participants are shown getting to know each other on Netflix's new Korean-language dating series, "Single's Inferno"
Participants are shown getting to know each other on Netflix’s new Korean-language dating series, “Single’s Inferno.” Image source: Netflix

On “Paradise,” and only there, can the contestants reveal certain details about themselves. Like their age, and what they do for a living.

For someone like me who’s part of the show’s Western audience? Single’s Inferno certainly scratched a kind of travel-related itch to see more of the world than is really practical right now. There was also much more heartfelt emotion and a craving for connection in this show than I’d have expected to see in a dating series. Which has led many people online, myself included, to hope that Netflix puts together a follow-up episode. Maybe some kind of where are they now special.

Or, even better, a season two.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.




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