It absolutely was around three years ago that we was brought to the idea of region-free DVD playback, a nearly necessary condition for readers of DVD Beaver. As a result, an entire arena of Asian film which was heretofore unknown in my opinion or from my reach exposed. I had already absorbed decades of Kurosawa and, more 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 within the next few 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 own heels. This is a new realm of innovative cinema for me.
A couple of months into this adventure, a buddy lent me a copy from the first disc of the Korean television series, 韓劇dvd. He claimed how the 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 as if it, perhaps not.” He knew my tastes pretty well at that time, but the concept of a television series, much less one manufactured for Korean mainstream TV, was hardly an issue that lit the obligatory fire under me. After two episodes, I had been hooked.
I understood my fascination with Korean cinema, but television! This was unknown. How could this be, I puzzled? I wasn’t all of that totally hooked on American TV. West Wing, Sopranos, Buffy – sure. Maybe I needed pan-tastes, but I still thought about myself as discriminating. So, what was the attraction – one could even say, compulsion that persists to this particular day? Over the past couple of years I have got watched, faithfully, eight complete series, in historical and contemporary settings – every one averaging 20 hours – and I’m halfway into Jumong, which can be over 80 hour long episodes! Exactly what is my problem!
Though you can find obvious similarities to Western primetime dramas, cable and also daytime soaps, Korean primetime television dramas – they will commonly call “miniseries” since the West already enjoyed a handy, if not altogether accurate term – are a unique art form. These are structured like our miniseries in they have a pre-ordained beginning, middle and end. While a lot longer than our miniseries – including the episodes really are a whole hour long, not counting commercials, that are usually front loaded just before the episode begins – they are doing not continue for five, six or seven seasons, like Alias or Star Trek: Voyager, or for generations, such as the Times of Our Everyday Life. The closest thing we must Korean dramas could very well be virtually any season from the Wire. Primetime television in Korea is really simply dramas and news. So Korea’s three very competitive networks (MBC, KBS and SBS) have gotten great at it through the years, especially considering that the early 1990s once the government eased its censorship about content, which in turn got their creative juices going.
Korean dramas were jump-started in 1991 through the hugely successful Eyes of Dawn, set in 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 to an audience away from the country that Korea was certainly onto something. The Sandglass deftly and intelligently melded the industry of organized crime and also the ever-present love story versus the backdrop of what was then recent Korean political history, especially 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 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 his very own company in San Bruno, California: YA-Entertainment (to never be wrongly identified as YesAsia) to distribute the best Korean dramas with proper English subtitles in America. For this end, YAE (as Tom enjoys to call his company) secured the required licenses to do exactly that with all the major Korean networks. I spent a few hours with Tom last week referring to our mutual interest. Larsen had first gone to Korea for a couple of years like a volunteer, then came returning 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 aid his students study Korean. An unexpected side-effect was that he and his schoolmates became totally 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 wish to try no less than to answer the question: Why Korean Dramas?
Area of the answer, I feel, lies in the unique strengths of such shows: Purity, Sincerity, Passion. Maybe the hallmark of Korean dramas (and, to some degree, in lots of of the feature films) can be a relative purity of character. Each character’s psychology and motivation is obvious, clean, archetypical. This may not be to say they are certainly not complex. Rather a character is not made complicated arbitrarily. Psychological insight into the type, as expressed by their behavior, is – I judge – often more correctly manifest than we see on American television series: Character complexity is much more convincing once the core self is not really focused on fulfilling the requirements of this or that producer, sponsor or target age range or subculture.
Korea is actually a damaged and split country, as are many more whose borders are drawn by powers apart from themselves, invaded and colonized several times over the centuries. Koreans are, therefore, acutely responsive to questions of divided loyalties. Korean dramas often explore the conflict involving the modern along with the traditional – even during the historical series. Conflicts of obligations are usually the prime motivation while focusing for the dramatic narrative, often expressed in generational terms inside the family. There is something very reassuring about these dramas. . . not from the 1950s happy ending sense, for indeed, there are actually few happy endings in Korean dramas. In comparison with American television shows: Korean TV dramas have simpler, yet compelling story lines, and natural, sympathetic acting of characters we could rely on.
Perhaps the most arresting feature of the acting is definitely the passion that is taken to performance. There’s a good price of heartfelt angst which, viewed away from context, can strike the unsuspecting Westerner as somewhat laughable. But also in context, such expressions of emotion are powerful and engaging, strikinmg to the heart from the conflict. Korean actors and audiences, young or old, unlike our very own, are immersed with their country’s political context and their history. The emotional connection actors make towards the characters they portray has a level of truth that is certainly projected instantly, with no conventional distance we often require within the west.
Like the 2017推薦韓劇 of your 1940s, the characters within a Korean drama have a directness concerning their greed, their desires, their weaknesses, along with their righteousness, and so are fully devoted to the effects. It’s challenging to say if the writing in Korean dramas has anything such as the bite and grit of a 40s or 50s American film (given our reliance on 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 kind of character mask. It’s one of several conventions of Korean drama that we can easily see clearly what another character cannot, though they are “there” – sort of just like a stage whisper.
I have got always been a supporter of your less-is-more school of drama. Not that I prefer a blank stage in modern street clothes, but that too much detail can change an otherwise involved participant into a passive observer. Also, the more detail, the better chance that we can happen with an error which will take me out of your reality the art director has so carefully constructed (like the 1979 penny that Chris Reeves finds within his pocket in Somewhere soon enough.) Graphic presentations with sensational story lines possess a short-term objective: to help keep the viewer interested up until the next commercial. There is absolutely no long-term objective.
A huge plus would be that the story lines of Korean dramas are, with not many exceptions, only if they should be, and after that the series comes to a stop. It does not persist with contrived excuses to re-invent its characters. Nor is the size of a series dependant upon the “television season” as it is in the U.S. K-dramas usually are not mini-series. Typically, they may 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. They are disarming, engaging and, despite their youth or pop status in Korea (as is usually the case), are in many instances more skilled than American actors of any similar age. For it will be the rule in Korea, as opposed to the exception, that high profile actors do both television and film. During these dramas, we Westerners have the benefit of understanding people not the same as ourselves, often remarkably attractive, that has an appeal in their own right.
Korean dramas have a resemblance to a different one dramatic form once familiar to us and currently in disrepute: the ” melodrama.” Wikipedia, describes “melodrama” as coming from the Greek word for song “melody”, put together with “drama”. Music can be used to enhance the emotional response or perhaps to 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 you will discover a happy ending. In melodrama there is certainly constructed a world of heightened emotion, stock characters and a hero who rights the disturbance on the balance of excellent and evil within a 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 so far off the mark. But furthermore, the concept of the melodrama underscores another essential difference between Korean and Western drama, and that is certainly the role of music. Western tv shows and, to a great extent, current day cinema uses music in a comparatively casual way. An American TV series can have a signature theme that may or may not – not often – get worked to the score like a show goes along. Most of the music can there be to aid the mood or provide additional energy for the action sequences. Not with Korean dramas – where music is used much more like musical theatre, even opera. Certain themes represent specific characters or relationships between the two. The music is deliberately and intensely passionate and can stand on its own. Virtually 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 songs for Winter Sonata, Seo Dong Yo, Palace and Jumong are excellent examples.
The setting for any typical Korean drama might be just about anywhere: home, office, or outdoors who have the main benefit of familiar and fewer known locations. The producers of Dae Jang Geum launched a small working village and palace to the filming, which includes since develop into 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. Whilst the settings are often familiar, the traditions and, often, the costumes to make-up can be quite distinctive from Western shows. Some customs can be fascinating, although some exasperating, even in contemporary settings – regarding example, in the wintertime Sonata, exactly how the female lead character, Yujin, is ostracized by relatives and buddies once she balks in her engagement, a predicament that Korean audiences can really relate to.
Korean TV dramas, as with any other art form, get their 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 widely used to a quick pace. I suggest not suppressing the inevitable giggle away from some faux-respect, but understand that these things have 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 advise that many 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 used for the specific broadcast) where it really is screened for possible imperfections (whereby, the network is inspired to send another.) The Beta is downloaded in a lossless format to the computer and a low-resolution copy is 25dexjpky on the translator. Translation is performed in stages: first a Korean-speaking individual that knows English, then a reverse. The high-resolution computer master will be tweaked for contrast and color. When the translation is finalized, it really is put into the master, taking good care to time the appearance of the subtitle with speech. Then a whole show is screened for further improvements in picture and translation. A 2017推薦日劇 is constructed which has all of the menu instructions and completed picture and subtitles. The DLT is then shipped to factories in Korea or Hong Kong for the production of the discs.
If the picture is formatted in 4:3 or 16:9, in many instances, the graphic quality is very good, sometimes exceptional; and the audio (music, dialogue and foley) is clear and dynamic, drawing the crowd into the time and place, the history and the characters. For people that have made the jump to light speed, we are able to plan to eventually new drama series in high definition transfers inside the not very distant future.