It was about three yrs ago i was exposed to the very idea of region-free DVD playback, an almost necessary condition for readers of DVD Beaver. As a result, a complete realm of Asian film that had been heretofore unknown for me or out of my reach exposed. I had already absorbed decades of Kurosawa and, recently, a smattering of classic Hong Kong gangster and fantasy films by way of our local Hong Kong Film Festival. Of Korean films, I knew nothing. But on the next couple of 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, To the Mirror, Oasis and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance – with lots more following close on his or her heels. This was a completely new field of innovative cinema if you ask me.
A few months into this adventure, a colleague lent me a copy from the first disc of your 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 famous Korean television series ever, which the brand new English subtitles by YA-Entertainment were quite readable. “Maybe you’ll like it, perhaps not.” He knew my tastes pretty well by then, but the notion of a tv series, not to mention one made for Korean mainstream TV, was hardly something that lit the obligatory fire under me. After two episodes, I found myself hooked.
I understood my fascination with Korean cinema, but television! It was unknown. How could this be, I puzzled? I wasn’t everything totally hooked on American TV. West Wing, Sopranos, Buffy – sure. Maybe I had pan-tastes, nevertheless i still looked at myself as discriminating. So, that which was the attraction – one may possibly say, compulsion that persists to this particular day? Over the past couple of years We have watched, faithfully, eight complete series, in historical and contemporary settings – each averaging 20 hours – and I’m halfway into Jumong, which is over 80 hour long episodes! Precisely what is my problem!
Though you will find obvious similarities to Western primetime dramas, cable and in many cases daytime soaps, Korean primetime television dramas – that they commonly call “miniseries” as the West already had a handy, or even altogether accurate term – certainly are a unique art. They are structured like our miniseries in 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 can be 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 for generations, much like the Events of Our Everyday Lives. The closest thing we must Korean dramas could very well be virtually any season from the Wire. Primetime television in Korea is pretty much nothing but dramas and news. So Korea’s three very competitive networks (MBC, KBS and SBS) have gotten excellent at it over the years, especially ever since the early 1990s if the government eased its censorship about content, which actually got their creative juices going.
Korean dramas were jump-started in 1991 by the hugely successful Eyes of Dawn, set between the Japanese invasion of WWII along with the Korean War of your early 1950s. In 1995 the highly acclaimed series, The Sandglass, managed to get clear to a audience outside the country that Korea was certainly onto something. The Sandglass deftly and intelligently melded the industry of organized crime and the ever-present love story versus the backdrop of the items was then recent Korean political history, in particular the events of 1980 referred to as the Gwang-ju Democratization Movement and the government’s crushing military response (think: Tienamin Square.) However 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 in a short time swept over Asia like atsunami, soon landing in Hawaii and then the Mainland, where Korean dramas already had 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 (not to be wrongly identified as YesAsia) to distribute the ideal Korean dramas with proper English subtitles in North America. To this end, YAE (as Tom likes to call his company) secured the necessary licenses to complete that with each of the major Korean networks. I spent a couple of hours with Tom the other day referring to our mutual interest. Larsen had first gone to Korea for a couple of years as being a volunteer, then came returning to the States to end college where he naturally, but gradually, worked his distance to a Korean Language degree at Brigham Young. He came upon his interest in Korean dramas accidentally when one his professors used a then current weekly series to aid his students study Korean. An unexpected unwanted effect was he and his schoolmates became totally hooked on the drama itself. Larsen has since made several trips to Korea for longer stays. I’ll return to how YAE works shortly, however I want to try a minimum of to reply to the question: Why Korean Dramas?
Portion of the answer, I believe, depends on the unique strengths of those shows: Purity, Sincerity, Passion. Possibly the hallmark of Korean dramas (and, at some level, in numerous in their feature films) is actually a relative purity of character. Each character’s psychology and motivation is clear, clean, archetypical. This is not to express they are certainly not complex. Rather a character is not really made complicated arbitrarily. Psychological understanding of the type, as expressed by his / her behavior, is – I judge – often more correctly manifest than what we percieve on American television series: Character complexity is more convincing as soon as the core self will not be focused on fulfilling the requirements this or that producer, sponsor or target age range or subculture.
Korea is a damaged and split country, as well as many others whose borders are drawn by powers besides themselves, invaded and colonized multiple times within the centuries. Koreans are, therefore, acutely responsive to questions of divided loyalties. Korean dramas often explore the conflict between your modern and the traditional – even in the historical series. Conflicts of obligations are often the prime motivation while focusing for that dramatic narrative, often expressed in generational terms throughout the family. There is certainly something very reassuring about these dramas. . . not within the 1950s happy ending sense, for indeed, there are few happy endings in Korean dramas. In comparison to American tv shows: Korean TV dramas have simpler, yet compelling story lines, and natural, sympathetic acting of characters we can believe in.
Probably the most arresting feature in the acting is the passion that is certainly brought to performance. There’s a good deal of heartfelt angst which, viewed from context, can strike the unsuspecting Westerner as somewhat laughable. However in context, such expressions of emotion are powerful and interesting, strikinmg to the heart in the conflict. Korean actors and audiences, old or young, unlike our very own, are immersed within their country’s political context along with their history. The emotional connection actors make on the characters they portray has a degree of truth that is certainly projected instantly, without the conventional distance we manage to require in the west.
Much like the 2017推薦韓劇 from the 1940s, the characters in the Korean drama possess a directness with regards to their greed, their desires, their weaknesses, and their righteousness, and are fully dedicated to the consequences. It’s difficult to say if the writing in Korean dramas has anything much like the bite and grit of any 40s or 50s American film (given our reliance upon 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 his or her face as a sort of character mask. It’s among the conventions of Korean drama that we are able to see clearly what another character cannot, though they are “there” – sort of similar to a stage whisper.
I actually have for ages been a supporter from the less-is-more school of drama. Not too I favor a blank stage in modern street clothes, but that too much detail can change an otherwise involved participant in a passive observer. Also, the greater detail, the greater number of chance which i may happen by using an error that takes me out from the reality the art director has so carefully constructed (such as the 1979 penny that Chris Reeves finds within his pocket in Somewhere with time.) Graphic presentations with sensational story lines have got a short-term objective: to keep the viewer interested before the next commercial. There is not any long-term objective.
A huge plus is that the story lines of Korean dramas are, with very few exceptions, only as long as they must be, after which the series comes to an end. It can do not persist with contrived excuses to re-invent its characters. Nor is the duration of a series dependant upon the “television season” as it is from the U.S. K-dramas are not mini-series. Typically, they may be between 17-24 hour-long episodes, though some have 50 plus episodes (e.g. Emperor of your 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 truly the case), are typically more skilled than American actors of the similar age. For it is the rule in Korea, rather than exception, that high profile actors do both television and film. During these dramas, we Westerners have the advantages of getting to know people distinctive from ourselves, often remarkably attractive, which contains an appeal in their own right.
Korean dramas use a resemblance to another 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 you will find a happy ending. In melodrama there is certainly constructed a arena of heightened emotion, stock characters and a hero who rights the disturbance for the balance of proper and evil in a universe by using a clear moral division.
Except for the “happy ending” part plus an infinite source of trials for both hero and heroine – usually, the latter – this description isn’t up to now from the mark. But most importantly, the concept of the melodrama underscores another essential difference between Korean and Western drama, and that is the role of music. Western television shows and, to some great extent, present day cinema employs music in the comparatively casual way. An American TV series could have a signature theme that might or might not – not often – get worked to the score like a show goes along. A lot of the music can there be to back up the mood or provide additional energy towards the action sequences. Less than with Korean dramas – in which the music is utilized much more like musical theatre, even opera. Certain themes represent specific characters or relationships between them. The background music is deliberately and intensely passionate and might stand alone. Nearly every series has at least 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 excellent examples.
The setting for a typical Korean drama could possibly be just about anyplace: home, office, or outdoors which have the main advantage of familiar and fewer known locations. The producers of Dae Jang Geum made a small working village and palace for the filming, that has 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 frequently familiar, the traditions and, often, the costumes making-up can be very different from Western shows. Some customs may be fascinating, while others exasperating, even during contemporary settings – concerning example, in Winter Sonata, exactly how the female lead character, Yujin, is ostracized by friends and relations once she balks in her engagement, a predicament that Korean audiences can definitely relate to.
Korean TV dramas, like any other art, get their share of conventions: chance meetings, instant flashback replays, highly fantasized love stories, chance meetings, character masks, chance meetings, all of these can seem to be like unnecessary time-stoppers to Americans who are employed to a quick pace. I recommend not suppressing the inevitable giggle away from some faux-respect, but understand that this stuff have 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 possibly have already started to play themselves out.
Episodes reach the YAE office in San Bruno on Digital Beta (a 1:1 copy through the master that had been useful for the particular broadcast) where it can be screened for possible imperfections (whereby, the network is required to send another.) The Beta is downloaded in the lossless format to the computer as well as a low-resolution copy is 25dexjpky to the translator. Translation is carried out in stages: first a Korean-speaking individual who knows English, then this reverse. The top-resolution computer master is going to be tweaked for contrast and color. As soon as the translation is finalized, it is actually applied for the master, taking care to time the look of the subtitle with speech. Then the whole show is screened for even more improvements in picture and translation. A 日劇dvd is constructed that has every one of the menu instructions and completed picture and subtitles. The DLT will be brought to factories in Korea or Hong Kong for the output of the discs.
Whether or not the picture is formatted in 4:3 or 16:9, typically, the image quality is very good, sometimes exceptional; as well as the audio (music, dialogue and foley) is obvious and dynamic, drawing the audience into the time and place, the story as well as the characters. For individuals who have made the jump to light speed, we can plan to eventually new drama series in hi-def transfers within the not very distant future.