It had been about three yrs ago that we was unveiled in the concept of region-free DVD playback, a nearly necessary condition for readers of DVD Beaver. Consequently, a whole world of Asian film that had been heretofore unknown in my opinion or out from my reach showed. I had already absorbed decades of Kurosawa and, more 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 few months, with my new and surprisingly cheap multi-region DVD player, I was immersed in beautiful DVD editions of Oldboy, Peppermint Candy, Memories of Murder, Sisily 2Km, Taegukgi, In to the Mirror, Oasis and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance – with lots more following close on their heels. This is a completely new realm of leading edge cinema for me.
A couple of months into this adventure, a colleague lent me a copy of your first disc from the Korean television series, 韓劇dvd專賣店. He claimed that this drama had just finished a six month’s run as the most common Korean television series ever, and that the brand new English subtitles by YA-Entertainment were quite readable. “Maybe you’ll want it, perhaps not.” He knew my tastes pretty well at that time, but the thought of a tv series, not to mention one designed for Korean mainstream TV, was hardly a thing that lit the obligatory fire under me. After two episodes, I used to be hooked.
I understood my fascination with Korean cinema, but television! It was a mystery. How could this be, I puzzled? I wasn’t all that hooked on American TV. West Wing, Sopranos, Buffy – sure. Maybe I needed pan-tastes, however i still considered myself as discriminating. So, that which was the attraction – one may possibly say, compulsion that persists to this day? Over the last few years I actually have watched, faithfully, eight complete series, in historical and contemporary settings – every one averaging 20 hours – and I’m halfway into Jumong, that is over 80 hour long episodes! Exactly what is my problem!
Though you will find obvious similarities to Western primetime dramas, cable and also daytime soaps, Korean primetime television dramas – that they commonly call “miniseries” for the reason that West already possessed a handy, or else altogether accurate term – certainly are a unique art. These are structured like our miniseries in that they have a pre-ordained beginning, middle and end. While a lot longer than our miniseries – even episodes certainly are a whole hour long, not counting commercials, which are usually front loaded just before the episode begins – they do not continue for five, six or seven seasons, like Alias or Star Trek: Voyager, or even for generations, such as the Events of Our Lives. The nearest thing we must Korean dramas is perhaps virtually any season of your Wire. Primetime television in Korea is really simply dramas and news. So Korea’s three very competitive networks (MBC, KBS and SBS) have gotten very good at it throughout the years, especially because the early 1990s if the government eased its censorship about content, which got their creative juices going.
Korean dramas were jump-were only available in 1991 through the hugely successful Eyes of Dawn, set involving the Japanese invasion of WWII along with the Korean War of the early 1950s. In 1995 the highly acclaimed series, The Sandglass, managed to get clear with 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 against the backdrop of the things was then recent Korean political history, especially the events of 1980 referred to as Gwang-ju Democratization Movement and the government’s crushing military response (think: Tienamin Square.) Nevertheless it wasn’t until 2002, with Yoon Suk-Ho’s Winter Sonata, that whatever we now call the “Korean Wave” really took off. Winter Sonata very quickly swept over Asia like atsunami, soon landing in Hawaii and therefore 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 his company in San Bruno, California: YA-Entertainment (not to be confused with YesAsia) to distribute the most effective Korean dramas with proper English subtitles in Canada And America. To the end, YAE (as Tom enjoys to call his company) secured the required licenses to do exactly that with all of the major Korean networks. I spent a couple of hours with Tom a couple weeks ago referring to our mutual interest. Larsen had first gone to Korea for a couple of years as a volunteer, then came 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 curiosity about Korean dramas accidentally when one his professors used a then current weekly series to assist his students study Korean. An unexpected complication was he and his schoolmates became hooked on the drama itself. Larsen has since made several trips to Korea for prolonged stays. I’ll get back to how YAE works shortly, however I would like to try no less than to answer the question: Why Korean Dramas?
Area of the answer, I feel, is based on the unique strengths of the shows: Purity, Sincerity, Passion. Probably the hallmark of Korean dramas (and, to some extent, in several in their feature films) is really a relative purity of character. Each character’s psychology and motivation is clear, clean, archetypical. This is simply not to state they are not complex. Rather a character is just not made complicated arbitrarily. Psychological understanding of the character, as expressed by his or her behavior, is – I judge – often more correctly manifest than we have seen on American television series: Character complexity is far more convincing once the core self will not be focused on fulfilling the requirements of this or that producer, sponsor or target age range or subculture.
Korea is really a damaged and split country, as well as many more whose borders are drawn by powers other than themselves, invaded and colonized many times over the centuries. Koreans are, therefore, acutely sensitive to questions of divided loyalties. Korean dramas often explore the conflict between your modern and the traditional – even just in the historical series. Conflicts of obligations are usually the prime motivation and concentrate to the dramatic narrative, often expressed in generational terms in the family. There is something very reassuring about these dramas. . . not in the 1950s happy ending sense, for indeed, there are actually few happy endings in Korean dramas. In comparison with American tv shows: Korean TV dramas have simpler, yet compelling story lines, and natural, sympathetic acting of characters we can easily rely on.
Perhaps the most arresting feature of the acting may be the passion that may be taken to performance. There’s the best value of heartfelt angst which, viewed from context, can strike the unsuspecting Westerner as somewhat laughable. But also in context, such expressions of emotion are powerful and engaging, strikinmg on the heart from the conflict. Korean actors and audiences, young or old, unlike our very own, are immersed within their country’s political context along with their history. The emotional connection actors make for the characters they portray has a degree of truth that is certainly projected instantly, minus the conventional distance we appear to require within the west.
Like the 2017推薦韓劇 of the 1940s, the characters in a Korean drama possess a directness regarding their greed, their desires, their weaknesses, and their righteousness, and therefore are fully devoted to the consequences. It’s hard to say in case the writing in Korean dramas has anything like the bite and grit of your 40s or 50s American film (given our addiction to a translation, however well-intended) – I rather doubt it. Instead, specially in the historical series, the actors wear their emotional link with their character on their own face as a kind of character mask. It’s one of several conventions of Korean drama that we can see clearly what another character cannot, though they are “there” – type of such as a stage whisper.
We have long been a supporter from the less-is-more school of drama. Not really that I like 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 number of detail, the better chance which i will happen by using an error that takes me out of the reality how the art director has so carefully constructed (like the 1979 penny that Chris Reeves finds in his pocket in Somewhere with time.) Graphic presentations with sensational story lines have a short-term objective: to hold the viewer interested till the next commercial. There is absolutely no long term objective.
A huge plus is the fact that story lines of Korean dramas are, with only a few exceptions, only if they need to be, after which the series comes to a stop. It will not persist with contrived excuses to re-invent its characters. Nor is the duration of a series based on the “television season” as it is in the United states K-dramas are not mini-series. Typically, they are between 17-24 hour-long episodes, though some have over 50 episodes (e.g. Emperor of the Sea, Dae Jang Geum, and Jumong).
Korean actors are relatively unknown to American audiences. They are disarming, engaging and, despite their youth or pop status in Korea (as is usually the case), are generally more skilled than American actors of your similar age. For it will be the rule in Korea, as opposed to the exception, that high profile actors do both television and film. Over these dramas, we Westerners have the main benefit of understanding people distinctive from ourselves, often remarkably attractive, which has an appeal in its own right.
Korean dramas have got a resemblance to another one dramatic form once familiar to us and currently in disrepute: the ” melodrama.” Wikipedia, describes “melodrama” as from the Greek word for song “melody”, coupled with “drama”. Music is commonly used to enhance the emotional response or suggest characters. There exists 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 may be constructed a field of heightened emotion, stock characters as well as a hero who rights the disturbance to the balance of excellent and evil in the universe having a clear moral division.
With the exception of the “happy ending” part and an infinite flow of trials for hero and heroine – usually, the second – this description isn’t thus far from the mark. But most importantly, the idea of the melodrama underscores another essential difference between Korean and Western drama, and that is certainly the role of music. Western tv shows and, into a great extent, present day cinema uses music within a comparatively casual way. A United States TV series may have a signature theme that may or may not – usually not – get worked in to the score as being a show goes along. Many of the music could there be to aid the atmosphere or provide additional energy for the action sequences. Less than with Korean dramas – the location where the music is utilized more like musical theatre, even opera. Certain themes represent specific characters or relationships between the two. The songs is deliberately and intensely passionate and will stand on its own. Almost every series has a minumum of one song (not sung from 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 common excellent examples.
The setting for a typical Korean drama might be just about anywhere: home, office, or outdoors which may have the benefit of familiar and fewer known locations. The producers of Dae Jang Geum developed a small working village and palace for the filming, that has since be a popular tourist attraction. A series may be one or a variety of familiar genres: romances, comedies, political or crime thrillers or historical dramas. While the settings tend to be familiar, the traditions and, often, the costumes to make-up are often very not the same as Western shows. Some customs can be fascinating, and some exasperating, in contemporary settings – regarding example, in the wintertime Sonata, the way the female lead character, Yujin, is ostracized by friends and relations once she balks on her engagement, a predicament that Korean audiences can actually correspond with.
Korean TV dramas, as with 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, which can seem to be like unnecessary time-stoppers to Americans who are employed to a speedy pace. I would recommend not suppressing the inevitable giggle out of some faux-respect, but recognize that this stuff come with the territory. My feeling: If you can appreciate Mozart, you should certainly appreciate the pace and conventionality of Dae Jang Geum. More modern adult dramas like Alone for each other suggest that some of these conventions could have already started to play themselves out.
Episodes get through to the YAE office in San Bruno on Digital Beta (a 1:1 copy in the master which had been useful for the specific broadcast) where it is screened for possible imperfections (in which case, the network is asked to send another.) The Beta is downloaded inside a lossless format to the pc and a low-resolution copy is 25dexjpky to the translator. Translation is performed in stages: first a Korean-speaking individual who knows English, then your reverse. The high-resolution computer master is then tweaked for contrast and color. As soon as the translation is finalized, it can be put into the master, taking good care to time the appearance of the subtitle with speech. Then your whole show is screened for more improvements in picture and translation. A 日劇dvd is constructed which has all the menu instructions and completed picture and subtitles. The DLT will then be delivered to factories in Korea or Hong Kong for the production of the discs.
Whether or not the picture is formatted in 4:3 or 16:9, in most cases, the photo quality is excellent, sometimes exceptional; along with the audio (music, dialogue and foley) is apparent and dynamic, drawing the target audience into the time and place, the tale and the characters. For people that have made the jump to light speed, we could be prepared to eventually new drama series in hi-def transfers from the not very distant future.