It absolutely was around three years back that we was introduced to the thought of region-free DVD playback, an almost necessary condition for readers of DVD Beaver. Because of this, an entire world of Asian film that was heretofore unknown for me or from my reach opened. 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 over the next few 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, To the Mirror, Oasis and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance – with lots more following close on their own heels. This became another field of cutting edge cinema for me.
A couple of months into this adventure, a buddy lent me a copy in 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 typically the most popular Korean television series ever, and therefore 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 notion of a television series, much less one designed for Korean mainstream TV, was hardly an issue that 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 unknown. How could this be, I puzzled? I wasn’t all that totally hooked on American TV. West Wing, Sopranos, Buffy – sure. Maybe I had pan-tastes, nevertheless i still considered myself as discriminating. So, that which was the attraction – one could even say, compulsion that persists to the day? Over the past year or two We 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! Precisely what is my problem!
Though you can find obvious similarities to Western primetime dramas, cable as well as daytime soaps, Korean primetime television dramas – that they can commonly call “miniseries” as the West already had a handy, if not altogether accurate term – are a unique art form. They can be structured like our miniseries in that they have a pre-ordained beginning, middle and end. While for a longer time than our miniseries – the episodes really are a whole hour long, not counting commercials, that happen to be usually front loaded prior to the episode begins – they do not carry on for five, six or seven seasons, like Alias or Star Trek: Voyager, or perhaps for generations, much like the Days of Our Everyday Life. The closest thing we have to Korean dramas is perhaps any given 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 over the years, especially since the early 1990s as soon as 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 your Japanese invasion of WWII along with the Korean War in the early 1950s. In 1995 the highly acclaimed series, The Sandglass, made it clear with an audience beyond the country that Korea was certainly onto something. The Sandglass deftly and intelligently melded the world of organized crime and also the ever-present love story up against the backdrop of the was then recent Korean political history, specially the events of 1980 referred to as 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 rapidly swept over Asia like atsunami, soon landing in Hawaii and then 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 mistaken for YesAsia) to distribute the ideal Korean dramas with proper English subtitles in North America. To this end, YAE (as Tom enjoys to call his company) secured the necessary licenses to accomplish that with all of the major Korean networks. I spent a couple of hours with Tom last week speaking about our mutual interest. Larsen had first gone to Korea for two years like a volunteer, then came to the States in order to complete college where he naturally, but gradually, worked his distance to 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 side effect was which he and his awesome schoolmates became totally hooked on the drama itself. Larsen has since made several trips to Korea for extended stays. I’ll get back to how YAE works shortly, however I wish to try no less than to answer the question: Why Korean Dramas?
Section of the answer, I think, depends on the unique strengths of such shows: Purity, Sincerity, Passion. Perhaps the hallmark of Korean dramas (and, at some level, in lots of of the feature films) can be a relative purity of character. Each character’s psychology and motivation is clear, clean, archetypical. This is not to say they are not complex. Rather a character is not really made complicated arbitrarily. Psychological insight into the type, as expressed by their behavior, is – I judge – often more correctly manifest than what we have seen on American television series: Character complexity is more convincing once the core self is just not interested in fulfilling the requirements this or that producer, sponsor or target age range or subculture.
Korea is really a damaged and split country, as well as numerous others whose borders are drawn by powers other than themselves, invaded and colonized several times within the centuries. Koreans are, therefore, acutely sensitive 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 often the prime motivation while focusing for your dramatic narrative, often expressed in generational terms in the family. There may be something very reassuring about these dramas. . . not within the 1950s happy ending sense, for indeed, you can find few happy endings in Korean dramas. Compared to American tv shows: Korean TV dramas have simpler, yet compelling story lines, and natural, sympathetic acting of characters we can easily have faith in.
Maybe the most arresting feature of your acting is the passion that may be taken to performance. There’s a good deal of heartfelt angst which, viewed out of context, can strike the unsuspecting Westerner as somewhat laughable. However in context, such expressions of emotion are powerful and fascinating, strikinmg on the heart of your conflict. Korean actors and audiences, old or young, unlike our personal, are immersed with 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 that is certainly projected instantly, minus the conventional distance we often require from the west.
Such as the 韓劇dvd from the 1940s, the characters within a Korean drama possess a directness with regards to their greed, their desires, their weaknesses, as well as 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 dependence on a translation, however well-intended) – I rather doubt it. Instead, specifically in the historical series, the actors wear their emotional connection to their character on their face as a sort of character mask. It’s one of the conventions of Korean drama that we will see clearly what another character cannot, though they are “straight away” – form of similar to a stage whisper.
I have got for ages been a supporter in the less-is-more school of drama. Not too I like a blank stage in modern street clothes, but this too much detail can make an otherwise involved participant in a passive observer. Also, the greater detail, the greater number of chance i can happen with an error which will take me out of your reality that the art director has so carefully constructed (like the 1979 penny that Chris Reeves finds in his pocket in Somewhere in Time.) Graphic presentations with sensational story lines have a short-term objective: to hold the viewer interested up until the next commercial. There is absolutely no long-term objective.
A huge plus is the fact that story lines of Korean dramas are, with very few exceptions, only as long as they need to be, then the series concerns a conclusion. It can not persist with contrived excuses to re-invent its characters. Nor is the size of a series based on the “television season” because it is inside the U.S. K-dramas are not mini-series. Typically, they can be between 17-24 hour-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 typically more skilled than American actors of any similar age. For this is basically the rule in Korea, instead of the exception, that high profile actors do both television and film. Over these dramas, we Westerners have the benefit of understanding people different from ourselves, often remarkably attractive, that has an appeal in their own right.
Korean dramas use a resemblance to a different one dramatic form once familiar to us and currently in disrepute: the ” melodrama.” Wikipedia, describes “melodrama” as from the Greek word for song “melody”, combined with “drama”. Music is used to improve the emotional response or suggest characters. There is 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 is certainly constructed a arena of heightened emotion, stock characters as well as a hero who rights the disturbance to the balance of great and evil in the universe by using a clear moral division.
Apart from the “happy ending” part plus an infinite availability of trials for both hero and heroine – usually, the latter – this description isn’t so far from the mark. But most importantly, the thought of the melodrama underscores another essential distinction between Korean and Western drama, and that is the role of music. Western television shows and, to your great extent, present-day cinema uses music inside a comparatively casual way. A United States TV series may have a signature theme that may or may not – not often – get worked in the score like a show goes along. Most of the music is there to back up the atmosphere or provide additional energy for the action sequences. Not with Korean dramas – in which the music is utilized a lot more like musical theatre, even opera. Certain themes represent specific characters or relationships between them. The music is deliberately and intensely passionate and might stand by itself. Nearly every series has a minimum of one song (not sung by a character) that appears during especially sensitive moments. The lyric is reflective and poetic. Many television soundtrack albums are hugely successful in Asia. The tunes for Winter Sonata, Seo Dong Yo, Palace and Jumong are common excellent examples.
The setting to get a typical Korean drama could be just about anyplace: home, office, or outdoors that have the main advantage of familiar and much less known locations. The producers of Dae Jang Geum developed a small working village and palace for that filming, which contains since develop into a popular tourist attraction. A series may be one or a mixture of familiar genres: romances, comedies, political or crime thrillers or historical dramas. Even though the settings are frequently familiar, the traditions and, often, the costumes and then make-up can be quite distinctive from Western shows. Some customs could be fascinating, although some exasperating, in contemporary settings – concerning example, during winter Sonata, how the female lead character, Yujin, is ostracized by friends and relations once she balks on her engagement, a predicament that Korean audiences can definitely relate with.
Korean TV dramas, like any other art form, have their share of conventions: chance meetings, instant flashback replays, highly fantasized love stories, chance meetings, character masks, chance meetings, which all can feel like unnecessary time-stoppers to Americans who are utilized to a speedy pace. I recommend not suppressing the inevitable giggle out of some faux-respect, but understand that these items have the territory. My feeling: Provided you can appreciate Mozart, you must be able to appreciate the pace and conventionality of Dae Jang Geum. More recent adult dramas like Alone for each other claim that a number of these conventions might have already started to play themselves out.
Episodes reach the YAE office in San Bruno on Digital Beta (a 1:1 copy in the master which had been used for the particular broadcast) where it can be screened for possible imperfections (in which case, the network is motivated to send another.) The Beta is downloaded in a lossless format to the pc and a low-resolution copy is 25dexjpky towards the translator. Translation is completed in stages: first a Korean-speaking individual who knows English, then the reverse. Our prime-resolution computer master will be tweaked for contrast and color. If the translation is finalized, it can be applied for the master, being careful to time the look of the subtitle with speech. Then your whole show is screened for even more improvements in picture and translation. A 2017推薦日劇 is constructed which has each of the menu instructions and completed picture and subtitles. The DLT will then be brought to factories in Korea or Hong Kong for that production of the discs.
Whether or not the picture is formatted in 4:3 or 16:9, in many instances, the photo quality is excellent, sometimes exceptional; and the audio (music, dialogue and foley) is obvious and dynamic, drawing the target audience into the time and place, the storyline and also the characters. For those of us that have made the jump to light speed, we could anticipate to eventually new drama series in high-definition transfers inside the not very distant future.