Korea’s leading indie factual co-producer, Buzz Media, has relaunched as UniK Studios, to help drive more international co-productions. The move sees the company become Korea’s only independent multiplatform content and international co-production-focused studio devoted to the factual genre.

As a new iteration of Buzz Media, UniK Studios is backed by Paan Media Holdings, the first indie company in Korea to focus on international co-productions. Beginning with Korea’s first co-production with the BBC in 2013, Wild Weather with Richard Hammond for BBC One, Paan Media Holdings swiftly became one of Korea’s top factual co-producers, with multiple international co-production projects under its belt, launching Buzz Media in 2015.

Cecillia Park, Managing Director, UniK Studios, says, “We all know the budget challenges that broadcasters are currently facing. So, accessing co-production finance is even more vital than ever in the factual community. As the most experienced factual co-producer in Korea, we know that international collaboration is not just about money – it brings new ideas, expertise, and relationships to the table, and those can be just as important.

Cecillia Park, Managing Director, UniK Studios. Courtesy of UniK Studios.

“Korea is now very much open for business when it comes to filming and collaborations, so we are actively looking for new partners and projects across the world. Our ambition is to build on our co-production experience to extend our global reach, whether independently or through international co-productions with other production companies, and whether in traditional or cross-format content.”

UniK Studios is headed by Changsoo (CS) Lee, one of Korea’s leading figures in the international community and a champion of Korean/international co-productions. Through Paan Media and Buzz Media, he has been responsible for a wide range of projects including Wild Weather with Richard Hammond (BBC One, co-produced with OSF); Korean Food Made Simple Season 1, 2 (Food Network, co-produced with Blink Films); Discovering Korean Food with Gizzi Erskine – Season 1 (Channel 5 co-produced with Lion Television); Plant Odyssey (BBC Two, co-produced with OSF); Treasures of The Earth (PBS NOVA, co-produced with Pioneer Productions); Wild Korea (BBC Two, co-produced with OSF).

UniK Studios head CS Lee. Courtesy of UniK Studios.

CS Lee founded UniK Studios with KD Kim, a former Assistant Producer and journalist, who then produced online content for 12 years. In 2015, he founded a new mobile content-producing company, as well as serving on the board of directors for Korean Broadcaster KBS.

KD Kim, co-founder of UniK Studios. Courtesy of UniK Studios.

KD Kim, Co-Founder and Lead, UniK Studios, says, “Korea has the fastest mobile internet speed in the world. So there is no surprise that we are the most “wired” country in the world in relation to download speeds and streaming content. Watching content on mobile devices is the norm. This means our content business understands the ever-changing media landscape and changing viewer behaviour. Our objective is to produce content that can cater to multiple platforms including TV, online, and mobile channels which have international appeal.”

Korea’s exports of cultural content are increasing every year, reaching $9.55 billion in 2019, according to government figures. The Korean government is committed to supporting the country’s content production industry through a large fund every year.

CS Lee, Co-Founder and CEO, UniK Studios, adds: “In times of economic contraction, factual producers look to the international market for co-production partners. There is a huge opportunity for producers to work with Korean companies. Not only do we have access to finance and great stories, [but we also] have some of the world’s leading CGI, graphics and animation capabilities, and huge experience of creating multi-platform content. There has never been a better time for factual producers to work together to create outstanding content – in fact I believe international collaboration is vital in the current climate.”