It was around three years ago i was introduced to the thought of region-free DVD playback, a virtually necessary condition for readers of DVD Beaver. Consequently, a huge world of Asian film which was heretofore unknown for me or out from my reach showed. 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 found myself 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 another field of leading edge cinema to me.
Several months into this adventure, a colleague lent me a copy from the first disc of the Korean television series, 韓劇dvd. He claimed that the drama had just finished a six month’s run as the most common Korean television series ever, and this the new English subtitles by YA-Entertainment were quite readable. “Maybe you’ll like it, maybe not.” He knew my tastes pretty well at that time, but the notion of a tv series, much less one designed for Korean mainstream TV, was hardly something which lit the obligatory fire under me. After two episodes, I found myself hooked.
I understood my fascination with Korean cinema, but television! This is a mystery. How could this be, I puzzled? I wasn’t everything that hooked on American TV. West Wing, Sopranos, Buffy – sure. Maybe I had pan-tastes, however i still considered myself as discriminating. So, that which was the attraction – one may possibly say, compulsion that persists to the day? Over the past several years I have got watched, faithfully, eight complete series, in historical and contemporary settings – each one averaging 20 hours – and I’m halfway into Jumong, which can be over 80 hour long episodes! What is my problem!
Though you can find obvious similarities to Western primetime dramas, cable and also daytime soaps, Korean primetime television dramas – that they commonly call “miniseries” because the West already experienced a handy, otherwise altogether accurate term – are a unique art. They are structured like our miniseries in that they have a pre-ordained beginning, middle and end. While considerably longer than our miniseries – even the episodes certainly are a whole hour long, not counting commercials, that happen to be usually front loaded just before the episode begins – they do not go on for five, six or seven seasons, like Alias or Star Trek: Voyager, or generations, such as the Times of Our Way Of Life. The nearest thing we have to Korean dramas could very well be any season in the Wire. Primetime television in Korea is pretty much only dramas and news. So Korea’s three very competitive networks (MBC, KBS and SBS) have gotten really good at it throughout the years, especially considering that the early 1990s once the government eased its censorship about content, which often got their creative juices going.
Korean dramas were jump-were only available in 1991 through the hugely successful Eyes of Dawn, set between the Japanese invasion of WWII as well as the Korean War of your early 1950s. In 1995 the highly acclaimed series, The Sandglass, made it clear for an audience beyond the country that Korea was certainly onto something. The Sandglass deftly and intelligently melded the industry of organized crime as well as the ever-present love story from the backdrop of the items was then recent Korean political history, in particular the events of 1980 called the Gwang-ju Democratization Movement and also the government’s crushing military response (think: Tienamin Square.) Nevertheless it wasn’t until 2002, with Yoon Suk-Ho’s Winter Sonata, that what we now call the “Korean Wave” really took off. Winter Sonata very quickly swept over Asia like atsunami, soon landing in Hawaii and then the Mainland, where Korean dramas already enjoyed a modest, but loyal following.
Right about then, Tom Larsen, who had previously worked for YesAsia.com, started his own 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 The United States. For this end, YAE (as Tom wants to call his company) secured the necessary licenses to do just that with all the major Korean networks. I spent a couple of hours with Tom the other day discussing our mutual interest. Larsen had first gone to Korea for 2 years being a volunteer, then came straight back to the States in order to complete college where he naturally, but gradually, worked his way into a Korean Language degree at Brigham Young. He came upon his desire for Korean dramas accidentally when one his professors used a then current weekly series to assist his students study Korean. An unexpected unwanted effect was that he or she along with his schoolmates became totally hooked on the drama itself. Larsen has since made several trips to Korea for longer stays. I’ll come back to how YAE works shortly, however I would like to try at the very least to answer the question: Why Korean Dramas?
Portion of the answer, I do believe, is based on the unique strengths of those shows: Purity, Sincerity, Passion. Maybe the hallmark of Korean dramas (and, at some level, in several in their feature films) is a relative purity of character. Each character’s psychology and motivation is apparent, clean, archetypical. This may not be to say they are certainly not complex. Rather a character will not be made complicated arbitrarily. Psychological advice about the type, as expressed by their behavior, is – I judge – often more correctly manifest compared to what we percieve on American television series: Character complexity is a lot more convincing as soon as the core self is not focused on fulfilling the requirements of this or that producer, sponsor or target age range or subculture.
Korea can be a damaged and split country, as well as numerous others whose borders are drawn by powers apart from themselves, invaded and colonized multiple times over the centuries. Koreans are, therefore, acutely responsive to questions of divided loyalties. Korean dramas often explore the conflict between your modern and also the traditional – in the historical series. Conflicts of obligations are frequently the prime motivation and concentrate to the dramatic narrative, often expressed in generational terms within the family. There exists something very reassuring about these dramas. . . not in the 1950s happy ending sense, for indeed, there are few happy endings in Korean dramas. Compared to American television shows: Korean TV dramas have simpler, yet compelling story lines, and natural, sympathetic acting of characters we could have faith in.
Maybe the most arresting feature in the acting may be the passion which is delivered to performance. There’s a great deal of heartfelt angst which, viewed out of context, can strike the unsuspecting Westerner as somewhat laughable. But in context, such expressions of emotion are powerful and fascinating, strikinmg for the heart of the conflict. Korean actors and audiences, old or young, unlike our own, are immersed within their country’s political context and their history. The emotional connection actors make to the characters they portray has a level of truth that is projected instantly, minus the conventional distance we seem to require within the west.
Like the 韓劇dvd of the 1940s, the characters within a Korean drama possess a directness about their greed, their desires, their weaknesses, in addition to their righteousness, and therefore are fully focused on the effects. It’s challenging to say if the writing in Korean dramas has anything like the bite and grit of your 40s or 50s American film (given our reliance on a translation, however well-intended) – I rather doubt it. Instead, especially in the historical series, the actors wear their emotional connection to their character on the face as a sort of character mask. It’s one of the conventions of Korean drama that we can easily see clearly what another character cannot, though they can be “right there” – form of like a stage whisper.
We have for ages been a supporter of the less-is-more school of drama. Not really that I prefer a blank stage in modern street clothes, but this too much detail can turn an otherwise involved participant into a passive observer. Also, the more detail, the greater chance that I will occur by using an error which takes me from the reality how the art director has so carefully constructed (such as the 1979 penny that Chris Reeves finds in the pocket in Somewhere soon enough.) Graphic presentations with sensational story lines have got a short-term objective: to maintain the viewer interested before the next commercial. There is absolutely no long term objective.
A big plus is the story lines of Korean dramas are, with not many exceptions, only as long as they should be, after which the series comes to an end. It does not persist with contrived excuses to re-invent its characters. Nor is the length of a series determined by the “television season” as it is from the U.S. K-dramas usually are not mini-series. Typically, they can be between 17-round-the-clock-long episodes, though some have over 50 episodes (e.g. Emperor of your Sea, Dae Jang Geum, and Jumong).
Korean actors are relatively unknown to American audiences. These are disarming, engaging and, despite their youth or pop status in Korea (as is truly the case), are in most cases more skilled than American actors of the similar age. For this is the rule in Korea, instead of the exception, that high profile actors do both television and film. Over these dramas, we Westerners have the advantage of understanding people not the same as ourselves, often remarkably attractive, which contains an appeal in the 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”, put together with “drama”. Music can be used to enhance the emotional response or to suggest characters. You will discover a tidy structure or formula to melodrama: a villain poses a threat, the hero escapes the threat (or rescues the heroine) and there is a happy ending. In melodrama there exists constructed a world of heightened emotion, stock characters along with a hero who rights the disturbance towards the balance of excellent and evil in the universe with a clear moral division.
Except for the “happy ending” part and an infinite supply of trials for hero and heroine – usually, the latter – this description isn’t up to now away from the mark. But most importantly, the idea 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, present-day cinema employs music within a comparatively casual way. A United States TV series could have a signature theme that might or might not – usually not – get worked in to the score as being a show goes along. Most of the music will there be to support the mood or provide additional energy on the action sequences. Not too with Korean dramas – the location where the music can be used similar to musical theatre, even opera. Certain themes represent specific characters or relationships between the two. The background music is deliberately and intensely passionate and might stand alone. Almost 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 all excellent examples.
The setting for any typical Korean drama might be almost anyplace: home, office, or outdoors that have the advantage of familiar and less known locations. The producers of Dae Jang Geum developed a small working village and palace for that filming, which contains since become a popular tourist attraction. A series could possibly be one or a combination of familiar genres: romances, comedies, political or crime thrillers or historical dramas. Even though the settings are usually familiar, the traditions and, often, the costumes and then make-up can be very distinctive from Western shows. Some customs may be fascinating, and some exasperating, even in contemporary settings – regarding example, during winter Sonata, 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 with.
Korean TV dramas, like any other art form, their very 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 used to a speedy pace. I would recommend not suppressing the inevitable giggle from some faux-respect, but know that these things feature the territory. My feeling: Whenever you can appreciate Mozart, you will be able to appreciate the pace and conventionality of Dae Jang Geum. More modern adult dramas like Alone for each other claim that a few of these conventions could have already begun to play themselves out.
Episodes get through to the YAE office in San Bruno on Digital Beta (a 1:1 copy from your master that had been useful for the exact broadcast) where it is screened for possible imperfections (whereby, the network is required to send another.) The Beta is downloaded inside a lossless format to the pc plus a low-resolution copy is 25dexjpky towards the translator. Translation is carried out in stages: first a Korean-speaking individual that knows English, then this reverse. The high-resolution computer master is going to be tweaked for contrast and color. Once the translation is finalized, it can be entered into the master, taking care to time the appearance of the subtitle with speech. Then a whole show is screened for even more improvements in picture and translation. A 2017推薦日劇 is constructed that has each of the menu instructions and completed picture and subtitles. The DLT is going to be shipped to factories in Korea or Hong Kong for the output of the discs.
Whether the picture is formatted in 4:3 or 16:9, in many instances, the graphic quality is very good, sometimes exceptional; and also the audio (music, dialogue and foley) is apparent and dynamic, drawing the viewers to the time and place, the history as well as the characters. For folks who have made the jump to light speed, we can easily be prepared to eventually new drama series in hd transfers in the not very distant future.