It had been about three years ago that we was unveiled in the idea of region-free DVD playback, an almost necessary condition for readers of DVD Beaver. As a result, a complete world of Asian film which had been heretofore unknown in my opinion or out from my reach exposed. I had already absorbed decades of Kurosawa and, recently, a smattering of classic Hong Kong gangster and fantasy films through our local Hong Kong Film Festival. Of Korean films, I knew nothing. But within the next couple of months, with my new and surprisingly cheap multi-region DVD player, I used to be immersed in beautiful DVD editions of Oldboy, Peppermint Candy, Memories of Murder, Sisily 2Km, Taegukgi, Into the Mirror, Oasis and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance – with lots more following close on their heels. This is a new world of really advanced cinema to me.
A few months into this adventure, a friend lent us a copy of the first disc from the Korean television series, 韓劇dvd. He claimed that this drama had just finished a six month’s run as the most popular Korean television series ever, and that the brand new English subtitles by YA-Entertainment were quite readable. “Maybe you’ll enjoy it, maybe not.” He knew my tastes pretty well at that time, but the idea of a tv series, let alone one created for Korean mainstream TV, was hardly something which lit the obligatory fire under me. After two episodes, I used to be hooked.
I understood my fascination with Korean cinema, but television! This is a mystery. How could this be, I puzzled? I wasn’t all of that hooked on American TV. West Wing, Sopranos, Buffy – sure. Maybe I needed pan-tastes, nevertheless i still considered myself as discriminating. So, that which was the attraction – one could even say, compulsion that persists for this day? Throughout the last few years I actually have watched, faithfully, eight complete series, in historical and contemporary settings – each one averaging 20 hours – and I’m halfway into Jumong, that is over 80 hour long episodes! What is my problem!
Though there are obvious similarities to Western primetime dramas, cable and also daytime soaps, Korean primetime television dramas – they will commonly call “miniseries” since the West already possessed a handy, otherwise altogether accurate term – can be a unique art form. They are structured like our miniseries in they may have a pre-ordained beginning, middle and end. While for a longer time than our miniseries – even episodes really are a whole hour long, not counting commercials, that are usually front loaded before the episode begins – they do not carry on for five, six or seven seasons, like Alias or Star Trek: Voyager, or generations, like The Times of Our Everyday Life. The nearest thing we need to Korean dramas could very well be any given season from the Wire. Primetime television in Korea is pretty much simply dramas and news. So Korea’s three very competitive networks (MBC, KBS and SBS) have gotten excellent at it throughout the years, especially ever since the early 1990s if the government eased its censorship about content, which often got their creative juices going.
Korean dramas were jump-were only available in 1991 with the hugely successful Eyes of Dawn, set in between the Japanese invasion of WWII as well as the Korean War in the early 1950s. In 1995 the highly acclaimed series, The Sandglass, managed to get clear for an audience outside the country that Korea was certainly onto something. The Sandglass deftly and intelligently melded the industry of organized crime along with the ever-present love story from the backdrop of the was then recent Korean political history, specially the events of 1980 called the Gwang-ju Democratization Movement and also the government’s crushing military response (think: Tienamin Square.) But it wasn’t until 2002, with Yoon Suk-Ho’s Winter Sonata, that everything we now call the “Korean Wave” really took off. Winter Sonata very quickly swept over Asia like atsunami, soon landing in Hawaii and so the Mainland, where Korean dramas already experienced a modest, but loyal following.
Right about then, Tom Larsen, who had previously worked for YesAsia.com, started their own company in San Bruno, California: YA-Entertainment (never to be mistaken for YesAsia) to distribute the most effective Korean dramas with proper English subtitles in America. To this end, YAE (as Tom likes to call his company) secured the desired licenses to do that with all the major Korean networks. I spent a number of hours with Tom a week ago talking about our mutual interest. Larsen had first gone to Korea for 2 years like a volunteer, then came straight back to the States to end college where he naturally, but gradually, worked his way into a Korean Language degree at Brigham Young. He came upon his fascination with Korean dramas accidentally when one his professors used a then current weekly series to assist his students study Korean. An unexpected unwanted effect was he and his awesome schoolmates became hooked on the drama itself. Larsen has since made several trips to Korea for extended stays. I’ll revisit how YAE works shortly, but first I want to try at least to reply to the question: Why Korean Dramas?
Portion of the answer, I do believe, lies in the unique strengths of these shows: Purity, Sincerity, Passion. Possibly the hallmark of Korean dramas (and, to some extent, in lots of of the feature films) is really a relative purity of character. Each character’s psychology and motivation is apparent, clean, archetypical. This may not be to state they are not complex. Rather a character is just not made complicated arbitrarily. Psychological advice about the character, as expressed by his / her behavior, is – I judge – often more correctly manifest compared to what we percieve on American television series: Character complexity is much more convincing as soon as the core self is not interested in fulfilling the needs of this or that producer, sponsor or target age range or subculture.
Korea is actually a damaged and split country, as well as numerous others whose borders are drawn by powers aside from themselves, invaded and colonized several times across the centuries. Koreans are, therefore, acutely responsive to questions of divided loyalties. Korean dramas often explore the conflict involving the modern as well as the traditional – even just in the historical series. Conflicts of obligations are usually the prime motivation and concentration to the dramatic narrative, often expressed in generational terms throughout the family. There exists something very reassuring about these dramas. . . not within the 1950s happy ending sense, for indeed, you can find few happy endings in Korean dramas. When compared with American tv shows: Korean TV dramas have simpler, yet compelling story lines, and natural, sympathetic acting of characters we can easily believe in.
Probably the most arresting feature of your acting may be the passion that is certainly brought to performance. There’s a great deal of heartfelt angst which, viewed away from context, can strike the unsuspecting Westerner as somewhat laughable. However in context, such expressions of emotion are powerful and engaging, strikinmg for the heart of your conflict. Korean actors and audiences, old or young, unlike our very own, are immersed inside their country’s political context in addition to their history. The emotional connection actors make to the characters they portray has a level of truth which is projected instantly, minus the conventional distance we seem to require from the west.
Just like the 2017推薦韓劇 of your 1940s, the characters in the Korean drama have got a directness regarding their greed, their desires, their weaknesses, along with their righteousness, and are fully devoted to the results. It’s difficult to say when the writing in Korean dramas has anything just like the bite and grit of the 40s or 50s American film (given our dependence on a translation, however well-intended) – I rather doubt it. Instead, specifically in the historical series, the actors wear their emotional link to their character on the face as a sort of character mask. It’s one of many conventions of Korean drama we will see clearly what another character cannot, though these are “there” – type of just like a stage whisper.
I have got for ages been a supporter in the less-is-more school of drama. Not too I enjoy a blank stage in modern street clothes, but this too much detail can turn an otherwise involved participant in a passive observer. Also, the greater detail, the greater number of chance that I will happen on an error that takes me out from the reality the art director has so carefully constructed (just like the 1979 penny that Chris Reeves finds in his pocket in Somewhere soon enough.) Graphic presentations with sensational story lines use a short-term objective: to hold the viewer interested up until the next commercial. There is no long term objective.
A major plus would be that the story lines of Korean dramas are, with hardly any exceptions, only if they need to be, and after that the series goes to a conclusion. It will not persist with contrived excuses to re-invent its characters. Nor is the duration of a series based on the “television season” because it is in the United states K-dramas usually are not mini-series. Typically, these are between 17-24 / 7-long episodes, though some have 50 plus episodes (e.g. Emperor in the Sea, Dae Jang Geum, and Jumong).
Korean actors are relatively unknown to American audiences. They may be disarming, engaging and, despite their youth or pop status in Korea (as is truly the case), are generally more skilled than American actors of any similar age. For this is the rule in Korea, instead of the exception, that high profile actors do both television and film. During these dramas, we Westerners have the advantages of understanding people distinct from ourselves, often remarkably attractive, which has an appeal in their own right.
Korean dramas use a resemblance to a different dramatic form once familiar to us and currently in disrepute: the ” melodrama.” Wikipedia, describes “melodrama” as coming from the Greek word for song “melody”, combined with “drama”. Music can be used to enhance the emotional response or perhaps to suggest characters. You will find a tidy structure or formula to melodrama: a villain poses a threat, the hero escapes the threat (or rescues the heroine) and there exists a happy ending. In melodrama there exists constructed a field of heightened emotion, stock characters plus a hero who rights the disturbance towards the balance of excellent and evil in a universe with a clear moral division.
With the exception of the “happy ending” part plus an infinite source of trials both for hero and heroine – usually, the latter – this description isn’t so far from the mark. But moreover, the notion of the melodrama underscores another essential distinction between Korean and Western drama, and that is certainly the role of music. Western television shows and, to your great extent, modern cinema makes use of music in a comparatively casual way. An American TV series could have a signature theme that may or may not – not often – get worked to the score as a show goes along. The majority of the music could there be to aid the mood or provide additional energy for the action sequences. Not so with Korean dramas – in which the music can be used more like musical theatre, even opera. Certain themes represent specific characters or relationships between them. The songs is deliberately and intensely passionate and might stand naturally. Virtually every series has at least one song (not sung by way of a character) that appears during especially sensitive moments. The lyric is reflective and poetic. Many television soundtrack albums are hugely successful in Asia. The songs for Winter Sonata, Seo Dong Yo, Palace and Jumong are typical excellent examples.
The setting for any typical Korean drama could possibly be almost anyplace: home, office, or outdoors which may have the main benefit of familiar and much less known locations. The producers of Dae Jang Geum created a small working village and palace to the filming, which has since become a popular tourist attraction. A series may be one or a mixture of familiar genres: romances, comedies, political or crime thrillers or historical dramas. As the settings are usually familiar, the traditions and, often, the costumes to make-up are often very different from Western shows. Some customs could be fascinating, while others exasperating, even just in contemporary settings – as for example, in Winter Sonata, just how the female lead character, Yujin, is ostracized by family and friends once she balks on her engagement, a predicament that Korean audiences can actually relate to.
Korean TV dramas, like any other art form, have their own share of conventions: chance meetings, instant flashback replays, highly fantasized love stories, chance meetings, character masks, chance meetings, all of which can seem to be like unnecessary time-stoppers to Americans who are utilized to a quick pace. I suggest not suppressing the inevitable giggle out of some faux-respect, but know that these items feature the territory. My feeling: If you can appreciate Mozart, you must be able to appreciate the pace and conventionality of Dae Jang Geum. More modern adult dramas like Alone for each other suggest that a few of these conventions might have already begun to play themselves out.
Episodes reach the YAE office in San Bruno on Digital Beta (a 1:1 copy through the master that was useful for the exact broadcast) where it is screened for possible imperfections (whereby, the network is asked to send another.) The Beta is downloaded in a lossless format to the computer along with a low-resolution copy is 25dexjpky towards the translator. Translation is performed in stages: first a Korean-speaking individual that knows English, then your reverse. Our prime-resolution computer master is then tweaked for contrast and color. If the translation is finalized, it really is entered into the master, taking good care to time the look of the subtitle with speech. Then the whole show is screened for more improvements in picture and translation. A 2017推薦日劇 is constructed which includes each of the menu instructions and completed picture and subtitles. The DLT will be brought to factories in Korea or Hong Kong to the production of the discs.
If the picture is formatted in 4:3 or 16:9, generally, the photo quality is excellent, sometimes exceptional; as well as the audio (music, dialogue and foley) is obvious and dynamic, drawing the target audience into the time as well as place, the story and the characters. For folks that have made the jump to light speed, we could be prepared to eventually new drama series in hi-def transfers within the not very distant future.