It was actually about three yrs ago that I was unveiled in the concept of region-free DVD playback, an almost necessary condition for readers of DVD Beaver. For that reason, a huge realm of Asian film which was heretofore unknown for me or out from my reach opened. I needed already absorbed decades of Kurosawa and, recently, a smattering of classic Hong Kong gangster and fantasy films by using 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 found myself 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 is a completely new field of really advanced cinema if you ask me.
Several months into this adventure, a friend lent me a copy in the first disc of your Korean television series, 韓劇dvd. He claimed that the drama had just finished a six month’s run as the most famous Korean television series ever, and that the new English subtitles by YA-Entertainment were quite readable. “Maybe you’ll want it, maybe not.” He knew my tastes pretty well by then, but the concept of a tv series, not to mention one manufactured for Korean mainstream TV, was hardly a thing that lit the obligatory fire under me. After two episodes, I was hooked.
I understood my fascination with Korean cinema, but television! This became a mystery. How could this be, I puzzled? I wasn’t everything hooked on American TV. West Wing, Sopranos, Buffy – sure. Maybe I needed pan-tastes, nevertheless i still thought about myself as discriminating. So, what was the attraction – one could even say, compulsion that persists for this day? Throughout the last few years We have watched, faithfully, eight complete series, in historical and contemporary settings – each one of these averaging 20 hours – and I’m halfway into Jumong, that is over 80 hour long episodes! Precisely what is my problem!
Though you will find obvious similarities to Western primetime dramas, cable as well as daytime soaps, Korean primetime television dramas – that they can commonly call “miniseries” for the reason that West already experienced a handy, or else altogether accurate term – really are a unique art. They are structured like our miniseries in they may have a pre-ordained beginning, middle and end. While considerably longer than our miniseries – even episodes certainly are a whole hour long, not counting commercials, which are usually front loaded ahead of the episode begins – they actually do not carry on for five, six or seven seasons, like Alias or Star Trek: Voyager, or perhaps for generations, just like the Times of Our Everyday Life. The nearest thing we must Korean dramas could very well be any given season in the Wire. Primetime television in Korea is pretty much outright dramas and news. So Korea’s three very competitive networks (MBC, KBS and SBS) have gotten excellent at it throughout the years, especially because the early 1990s if the government eased its censorship about content, which in turn 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 your early 1950s. In 1995 the highly acclaimed series, The Sandglass, made it clear to a audience away from the country that Korea was certainly onto something. The Sandglass deftly and intelligently melded the realm of organized crime as well as the ever-present love story up against the backdrop of the things was then recent Korean political history, specially the events of 1980 called the 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 what we should now call the “Korean Wave” really took off. Winter Sonata quickly swept over Asia like atsunami, soon landing in Hawaii and therefore the Mainland, where Korean dramas already possessed 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 (to never be confused with YesAsia) to distribute the most effective Korean dramas with proper English subtitles in The United States. To the end, YAE (as Tom enjoys to call his company) secured the necessary licenses to do that with each one of the major Korean networks. I spent a couple of hours with Tom last week discussing our mutual interest. Larsen had first gone to Korea for two years like a volunteer, then came straight back 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 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 and his awesome schoolmates became totally hooked on the drama itself. Larsen has since made several trips to Korea for long stays. I’ll get back to how YAE works shortly, however I want to try no less than to resolve the question: Why Korean Dramas?
Area of the answer, I do believe, is in the unique strengths of the shows: Purity, Sincerity, Passion. Perhaps the hallmark of Korean dramas (and, at some level, in numerous of the feature films) can be a relative purity of character. Each character’s psychology and motivation is clear, clean, archetypical. This is simply not to say they are not complex. Rather a character will not be made complicated arbitrarily. Psychological insight into the character, as expressed by their behavior, is – I judge – often more correctly manifest than what we notice on American television series: Character complexity is a lot more convincing once the core self is not really worried about fulfilling the requirements this or that producer, sponsor or target age range or subculture.
Korea is really a damaged and split country, much like numerous others whose borders are drawn by powers other than themselves, invaded and colonized several times within the centuries. Koreans are, therefore, acutely understanding of questions of divided loyalties. Korean dramas often explore the conflict between the modern as well as the traditional – in the historical series. Conflicts of obligations are usually the prime motivation and concentrate for that dramatic narrative, often expressed in generational terms in the family. There is certainly something very reassuring about these dramas. . . not inside the 1950s happy ending sense, for indeed, there are actually 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 have faith in.
Possibly the most arresting feature of the acting is the passion that is certainly brought to performance. There’s a good price of heartfelt angst which, viewed out of context, can strike the unsuspecting Westerner as somewhat laughable. Nevertheless in context, such expressions of emotion are powerful and engaging, strikinmg to the heart of the conflict. Korean actors and audiences, old or young, unlike our, are immersed within their country’s political context as well as their history. The emotional connection actors make towards the characters they portray has a level of truth which is projected instantly, minus the conventional distance we seem to require within the west.
Like the 韓劇dvd in the 1940s, the characters in the Korean drama use a directness regarding their greed, their desires, their weaknesses, along with their righteousness, and so are fully devoted to the outcomes. It’s tough to say when the writing in Korean dramas has anything much like the bite and grit of any 40s or 50s American film (given our dependence on a translation, however well-intended) – I rather doubt it. Instead, specially in the historical series, the actors wear their emotional link to their character on their own face as a kind of character mask. It’s one of many conventions of Korean drama we will see clearly what another character cannot, though they may be “right there” – sort of such as a stage whisper.
We have long been a supporter of the less-is-more school of drama. Not that I favor a blank stage in modern street clothes, but this too much detail can turn an otherwise involved participant into a passive observer. Also, the greater detail, the greater number of chance which i will happen by using an error that takes me out of your reality the art director has so carefully constructed (just like the 1979 penny that Chris Reeves finds in their pocket in Somewhere in Time.) Graphic presentations with sensational story lines have got a short-term objective: to hold the viewer interested up until the next commercial. There is no long term objective.
A big plus is the fact that story lines of Korean dramas are, with not many exceptions, only as long as they should be, and after that the series comes to an end. It can not persist with contrived excuses to re-invent its characters. Nor is the length of a series based on the “television season” as it is inside the United states K-dramas are not mini-series. Typically, they are between 17-24 / 7-long episodes, though some have 50 plus episodes (e.g. Emperor from 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 your similar age. For this is 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 advantage of getting to know people distinctive from ourselves, often remarkably attractive, which includes an appeal within its own right.
Korean dramas possess a resemblance to another dramatic form once familiar to us and currently in disrepute: the ” melodrama.” Wikipedia, describes “melodrama” as coming from the Greek word for song “melody”, along with “drama”. Music is commonly 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 may be constructed a arena of heightened emotion, stock characters and a hero who rights the disturbance for the balance of good and evil inside a universe by using a clear moral division.
With the exception of the “happy ending” part along with an infinite supply of trials both for hero and heroine – usually, the second – this description isn’t to date from the mark. But more importantly, the notion of the melodrama underscores another essential distinction between Korean and Western drama, and that is the role of music. Western television shows and, into a great extent, present-day cinema employs music in a comparatively casual way. An American TV series will have a signature theme that might or might not – usually not – get worked to the score being a show goes along. Most of the music could there be to back up the atmosphere or provide additional energy on the action sequences. Less than with Korean dramas – the location where the music is used similar to musical theatre, even opera. Certain themes represent specific characters or relationships between the two. The music is deliberately and intensely passionate and might stand alone. Virtually every series has one or more song (not sung with 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 for the typical Korean drama could be just about anyplace: home, office, or outdoors which may have the main advantage of familiar and fewer known locations. The producers of Dae Jang Geum launched a small working village and palace for the filming, which contains since be a popular tourist attraction. A series could be one or a mixture 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 making-up can be quite different from Western shows. Some customs can be fascinating, while some exasperating, in contemporary settings – regarding 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 really relate to.
Korean TV dramas, as with any other art, their very own share of conventions: chance meetings, instant flashback replays, highly fantasized love stories, chance meetings, character masks, chance meetings, which can appear like unnecessary time-stoppers to Americans who are widely used to a fast pace. I recommend not suppressing the inevitable giggle out from some faux-respect, but know that these things feature the territory. My feeling: Provided you can appreciate Mozart, you should certainly appreciate the pace and conventionality of Dae Jang Geum. More modern adult dramas like Alone in Love suggest that some of these conventions could have already started to play themselves out.
Episodes arrive at the YAE office in San Bruno on Digital Beta (a 1:1 copy in the master that had been used for the specific broadcast) where it is screened for possible imperfections (whereby, the network is inspired to send another.) The Beta is downloaded in a lossless format to the computer plus a low-resolution copy is 25dexjpky on the translator. Translation is carried out in stages: first a Korean-speaking individual that knows English, then the reverse. The high-resolution computer master will then be tweaked for contrast and color. When the translation is finalized, it really is put into the master, being careful to time the appearance 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 that has every one of the menu instructions and completed picture and subtitles. The DLT is then delivered to factories in Korea or Hong Kong for the output of the discs.
Regardless of if the picture is formatted in 4:3 or 16:9, generally, the picture quality is excellent, sometimes exceptional; as well as the audio (music, dialogue and foley) is apparent and dynamic, drawing the audience into the time as well as place, the story and the characters. For people who definitely have made the jump to light speed, we can easily expect to eventually new drama series in high definition transfers from the not very distant future.