It was actually about three years back that I was brought to the idea of region-free DVD playback, an almost necessary condition for readers of DVD Beaver. As a result, a huge world of Asian film that was heretofore unknown in my opinion or out of my reach showed. I needed 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 few months, with my new and surprisingly cheap multi-region DVD player, I had been immersed in beautiful DVD editions of Oldboy, Peppermint Candy, Memories of Murder, Sisily 2Km, Taegukgi, In the Mirror, Oasis and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance – with lots more following close on their own heels. This is another arena of leading edge cinema to me.
A few months into this adventure, a friend lent us a copy in the first disc of your Korean television series, 韓劇dvd專賣店. He claimed how 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 idea of a television series, much less one created for Korean mainstream TV, was hardly something which lit the obligatory fire under me. After two episodes, I used to be hooked.
I understood my fascination with Korean cinema, but television! This was a mystery. 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, but I still considered myself as discriminating. So, what was the attraction – one could even say, compulsion that persists to this day? Over the last few years I have watched, faithfully, eight complete series, in historical and contemporary settings – every one averaging 20 hours – and I’m halfway into Jumong, that is over 80 hour long episodes! Exactly what is my problem!
Though there are actually obvious similarities to Western primetime dramas, cable as well as daytime soaps, Korean primetime television dramas – they will commonly call “miniseries” for the reason that West already experienced 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 a lot longer than our miniseries – even episodes can be a whole hour long, not counting commercials, that happen to be usually front loaded before the episode begins – they do not go on for five, six or seven seasons, like Alias or Star Trek: Voyager, or even for generations, much like the Days of Our Lives. The closest thing we must Korean dramas could very well be any season in the Wire. Primetime television in Korea is pretty much simply dramas and news. So Korea’s three very competitive networks (MBC, KBS and SBS) have gotten very good at it through the years, especially considering that the early 1990s as soon as the government eased its censorship about content, which actually got their creative juices going.
Korean dramas were jump-started in 1991 with 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, caused it to be clear to an audience outside of the country that Korea was certainly onto something. The Sandglass deftly and intelligently melded the field of organized crime and also the ever-present love story against the backdrop of the was then recent Korean political history, specially the events of 1980 referred to as Gwang-ju Democratization Movement and the government’s crushing military response (think: Tienamin Square.) But it really 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 company in San Bruno, California: YA-Entertainment (to not be confused with YesAsia) to distribute the most effective Korean dramas with proper English subtitles in Canada And America. To the end, YAE (as Tom wants to call his company) secured the necessary licenses to accomplish that with all of the major Korean networks. I spent a number of hours with Tom a week ago discussing our mutual interest. Larsen had first gone to Korea for two years being a volunteer, then came returning to the States 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 help his students study Korean. An unexpected unwanted effect was that he and his schoolmates became hooked on the drama itself. Larsen has since made several trips to Korea for longer stays. I’ll get back to how YAE works shortly, however I wish to try at the very least to reply to the question: Why Korean Dramas?
Portion of the answer, I think, is in the unique strengths of those shows: Purity, Sincerity, Passion. Possibly the hallmark of Korean dramas (and, at some level, in many with their feature films) is really a relative purity of character. Each character’s psychology and motivation is apparent, clean, archetypical. This is simply not to say they are 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 we percieve on American television series: Character complexity is more convincing as soon as the core self is not focused on fulfilling the needs of this or that producer, sponsor or target age range or subculture.
Korea is actually a damaged and split country, as well as lots of others whose borders are drawn by powers apart from themselves, invaded and colonized many times within the centuries. Koreans are, therefore, acutely understanding of questions of divided loyalties. Korean dramas often explore the conflict between the modern and also the traditional – in the historical series. Conflicts of obligations are often the prime motivation and concentrate for that dramatic narrative, often expressed in generational terms in the family. There is something very reassuring about these dramas. . . not from the 1950s happy ending sense, for indeed, you will find few happy endings in Korean dramas. In comparison to American television shows: Korean TV dramas have simpler, yet compelling story lines, and natural, sympathetic acting of characters we could believe in.
Probably the most arresting feature from the acting is the passion that 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 also in context, such expressions of emotion are powerful and fascinating, strikinmg to the heart in the conflict. Korean actors and audiences, old or young, unlike our own, are immersed with their country’s political context and their history. The emotional connection actors make for the characters they portray has a degree of truth which is projected instantly, without the conventional distance we manage to require from the west.
Such as the 2017推薦韓劇 from the 1940s, the characters within a Korean drama possess a directness about their greed, their desires, their weaknesses, and their righteousness, and are fully focused on the outcomes. It’s difficult to say in the event the writing in Korean dramas has anything 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 kind of character mask. It’s one of many conventions of Korean drama which we can easily see clearly what another character cannot, though they may be “straight away” – kind of such as a stage whisper.
We have long been a supporter of your less-is-more school of drama. Not too I enjoy a blank stage in modern street clothes, but this too much detail can turn an otherwise involved participant right into a passive observer. Also, the better detail, the greater chance i can happen upon an error which will take me from the reality that 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 a short-term objective: to help keep the viewer interested up until the next commercial. There is not any long-term objective.
A big plus is the story lines of Korean dramas are, with hardly any exceptions, only if they must be, after which 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 dependant on the “television season” because it is from the Usa K-dramas will not be mini-series. Typically, they may be between 17-24 hour-long episodes, though some have over 50 episodes (e.g. Emperor of the Sea, Dae Jang Geum, and Jumong).
Korean actors are relatively unknown to American audiences. They can be disarming, engaging and, despite their youth or pop status in Korea (as is often the case), are generally more skilled than American actors of your similar age. For it will be the rule in Korea, rather than exception, that high profile actors do both television and film. During these dramas, we Westerners have the main benefit of understanding people not the same as ourselves, often remarkably attractive, which includes an appeal within its own right.
Korean dramas have a resemblance to a different 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 is used to increase 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 find a happy ending. In melodrama there may be constructed a field of heightened emotion, stock characters and a hero who rights the disturbance on the balance of great and evil in the universe having a clear moral division.
Apart from the “happy ending” part as well as an infinite availability of trials both for hero and heroine – usually, the latter – this description isn’t thus far from the mark. But more importantly, the notion of the melodrama underscores another essential difference between Korean and Western drama, and that is certainly the role of music. Western television shows and, to a great extent, present day cinema makes use of music inside a comparatively casual way. A United States TV series can have a signature theme that may or may not – not often – get worked in the score as a show goes along. Many of the music can there be to support the atmosphere or provide additional energy for the action sequences. Less than with Korean dramas – where music can be used a lot more like musical theatre, even opera. Certain themes represent specific characters or relationships between the two. The background music is deliberately and intensely passionate and will stand by itself. Nearly every series has a minumum 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 songs for Winter Sonata, Seo Dong Yo, Palace and Jumong are all excellent examples.
The setting for any typical Korean drama could be almost anyplace: home, office, or outdoors which have the benefit of familiar and much less known locations. The producers of Dae Jang Geum launched a small working village and palace to the filming, that has since develop into a popular tourist attraction. A series might be one or a combination of familiar genres: romances, comedies, political or crime thrillers or historical dramas. While the settings are often familiar, the traditions and, often, the costumes to make-up can be very different from Western shows. Some customs can be fascinating, while others exasperating, even just in contemporary settings – concerning example, during winter Sonata, how the female lead character, Yujin, is ostracized by relatives and buddies once she balks in her engagement, a predicament that Korean audiences can definitely relate to.
Korean TV dramas, like every 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 feel like unnecessary time-stoppers to Americans who are employed to a rapid pace. I recommend not suppressing the inevitable giggle out from some faux-respect, but realize that these things have the territory. My feeling: Whenever you can appreciate Mozart, you should be able to appreciate the pace and conventionality of Dae Jang Geum. More recent adult dramas like Alone for each other suggest that some of these conventions might have already begun to play themselves out.
Episodes arrive at the YAE office in San Bruno on Digital Beta (a 1:1 copy through the master that was useful for the specific broadcast) where it really is screened for possible imperfections (whereby, the network is asked to send another.) The Beta is downloaded inside a lossless format to the computer along with a low-resolution copy is 25dexjpky for the translator. Translation is completed in stages: first a Korean-speaking person that knows English, then your reverse. Our prime-resolution computer master will be tweaked for contrast and color. When the translation is finalized, it can be applied for the master, taking good care to time the appearance of the subtitle with speech. Then your whole show is screened for additional 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 sent to factories in Korea or Hong Kong for that creation of the discs.
Whether or not the picture is formatted in 4:3 or 16:9, in many instances, the image quality is superb, sometimes exceptional; and also the audio (music, dialogue and foley) is obvious and dynamic, drawing the target audience to the some time and place, the tale and the characters. For individuals who have made the jump to light speed, we can easily be prepared to eventually new drama series in high-definition transfers inside the not too distant future.