It was around three years back which i was introduced to the very idea of region-free DVD playback, a nearly necessary condition for readers of DVD Beaver. Because of this, an entire arena of Asian film that had been heretofore unknown to me or out from my reach opened up. I needed already absorbed decades of Kurosawa and, more recently, a smattering of classic Hong Kong gangster and fantasy films by means of 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 was 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 heels. This is another realm of cutting edge cinema in my opinion.
A few months into this adventure, a friend lent us a copy from the first disc of the Korean television series, 韓劇dvd專賣店. He claimed the drama had just finished a six month’s run as the most common Korean television series ever, and this the brand 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 idea of a tv series, let alone one made for Korean mainstream TV, was hardly an issue that lit the obligatory fire under me. After two episodes, I was hooked.
I understood my fascination with Korean cinema, but television! This became unknown. How could this be, I puzzled? I wasn’t everything that totally hooked on American TV. West Wing, Sopranos, Buffy – sure. Maybe I had pan-tastes, having said that i still thought about myself as discriminating. So, that which was the attraction – one might 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 averaging 20 hours – and I’m halfway into Jumong, that is over 80 hour long episodes! What is my problem!
Though you will find obvious similarities to Western primetime dramas, cable and also daytime soaps, Korean primetime television dramas – that they commonly call “miniseries” because the West already experienced a handy, or else altogether accurate term – certainly are a unique art form. They are structured like our miniseries in they may have a pre-ordained beginning, middle and end. While much longer than our miniseries – even the episodes can be a whole hour long, not counting commercials, that happen to be usually front loaded prior to the episode begins – they are doing not continue on for five, six or seven seasons, like Alias or Star Trek: Voyager, or even for generations, such as the Times of Our Way Of Life. The closest thing we will need to Korean dramas could very well be virtually any season of your 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 really good at it over time, especially since the early 1990s once the government eased its censorship about content, which got their creative juices going.
Korean dramas were jump-began in 1991 from the hugely successful Eyes of Dawn, set in between the Japanese invasion of WWII as well as the Korean War of the early 1950s. In 1995 the highly acclaimed series, The Sandglass, made it clear for an audience beyond the country that Korea was certainly onto something. The Sandglass deftly and intelligently melded the realm of organized crime and also the ever-present love story from the backdrop of the items was then recent Korean political history, particularly the events of 1980 known as the Gwang-ju Democratization Movement and the government’s crushing military response (think: Tienamin Square.) But it wasn’t until 2002, with Yoon Suk-Ho’s Winter Sonata, that whatever we now call the “Korean Wave” really took off. Winter Sonata rapidly 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 their own company in San Bruno, California: YA-Entertainment (never to be wrongly identified as YesAsia) to distribute the very best Korean dramas with proper English subtitles in America. To the end, YAE (as Tom loves to call his company) secured the essential licenses to do that with each of the major Korean networks. I spent several hours with Tom a couple weeks ago discussing our mutual interest. Larsen had first gone to Korea for two years as a volunteer, then came straight back 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 assist his students study Korean. An unexpected side-effect was he and his awesome schoolmates became totally hooked on the drama itself. Larsen has since made several trips to Korea for prolonged stays. I’ll return to how YAE works shortly, but first I want to try at least to respond to the question: Why Korean Dramas?
Portion of the answer, I do believe, lies in the unique strengths of the shows: Purity, Sincerity, Passion. Possibly the hallmark of Korean dramas (and, to some extent, in many of the feature films) is a relative purity of character. Each character’s psychology and motivation is apparent, clean, archetypical. This is simply not to mention they are certainly not complex. Rather a character is not made complicated arbitrarily. Psychological insight into the type, as expressed by his / her behavior, is – I judge – often more correctly manifest than we have seen on American television series: Character complexity is more convincing when the core self is just not 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 lots of others whose borders are drawn by powers other than themselves, invaded and colonized multiple times across the centuries. Koreans are, therefore, acutely responsive to questions of divided loyalties. Korean dramas often explore the conflict between your modern and also the traditional – even just in the historical series. Conflicts of obligations are usually the prime motivation and focus for that dramatic narrative, often expressed in generational terms within the family. There is certainly 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 tv shows: Korean TV dramas have simpler, yet compelling story lines, and natural, sympathetic acting of characters we are able to believe in.
Maybe the most arresting feature of the acting is the passion that is certainly taken to performance. There’s a good deal of heartfelt angst which, viewed away from context, can strike the unsuspecting Westerner as somewhat laughable. Nevertheless in context, such expressions of emotion are powerful and interesting, strikinmg to the heart from the conflict. Korean actors and audiences, old or young, unlike our, are immersed within their country’s political context in addition to their history. The emotional connection actors make for the characters they portray has a degree of truth that is certainly projected instantly, without the conventional distance we appear to require within the west.
Such as the 韓劇dvd of the 1940s, the characters inside a Korean drama have a directness concerning their greed, their desires, their weaknesses, and their righteousness, and so are fully dedicated to the results. It’s hard to say when the writing in Korean dramas has anything much like the bite and grit of a 40s or 50s American film (given our dependence on a translation, however well-intended) – I rather doubt it. Instead, particularly in the historical series, the actors wear their emotional connection to their character on the face as a sort of character mask. It’s one of several conventions of Korean drama that people can easily see clearly what another character cannot, though these are “there” – type of just like a stage whisper.
I have always been a supporter of the less-is-more school of drama. Not that I prefer a blank stage in modern street clothes, but this too much detail can make an otherwise involved participant into a passive observer. Also, the greater number of detail, the greater number of chance that I will happen upon an error which will take me out of your reality that this art director has so carefully constructed (such as the 1979 penny that Chris Reeves finds in the pocket in Somewhere with time.) Graphic presentations with sensational story lines possess a short-term objective: to keep the viewer interested before the next commercial. There is not any long-term objective.
A major plus is the fact that story lines of Korean dramas are, with not many exceptions, only as long as they should be, after which the series goes to an end. It can do not persist with contrived excuses to re-invent its characters. Nor is the size of a series based on the “television season” since it is within the U.S. K-dramas are not mini-series. Typically, they may be between 17-twenty-four hour-long episodes, though some have over 50 episodes (e.g. Emperor in the Sea, Dae Jang Geum, and Jumong).
Korean actors are relatively unknown to American audiences. These 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 a similar age. For it is the rule in Korea, as opposed to the exception, that high profile actors do both television and film. In these dramas, we Westerners have the main benefit of understanding people not the same as ourselves, often remarkably attractive, that has an appeal in their own right.
Korean dramas have got 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”, combined with “drama”. Music is commonly used to increase 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 there is a happy ending. In melodrama there may be constructed a realm of heightened emotion, stock characters plus a hero who rights the disturbance towards the balance of excellent and evil in the universe by using a clear moral division.
Except for the “happy ending” part and an infinite flow of trials for hero and heroine – usually, the second – this description isn’t so far away from the mark. But more importantly, the concept of the melodrama underscores another essential distinction between Korean and Western drama, and that is certainly the role of music. Western tv shows and, into a great extent, present day cinema utilizes music within a comparatively casual way. An American TV series may have a signature theme that might or might not – usually not – get worked in to the score as a show goes along. Most of the music can there be to support the mood or provide additional energy towards the action sequences. Not too with Korean dramas – where music is used a lot more like musical theatre, even opera. Certain themes represent specific characters or relationships between the two. The songs is deliberately and intensely passionate and might stand by itself. Nearly every series has a minimum of one 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 excellent examples.
The setting for any typical Korean drama might be just about anywhere: home, office, or outdoors that have the main benefit of familiar and less known locations. The producers of Dae Jang Geum launched a small working village and palace for that 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. Even though the settings are often familiar, the traditions and, often, the costumes to make-up can be very distinctive from Western shows. Some customs might be fascinating, and some exasperating, even in contemporary settings – as for example, in the winter months Sonata, exactly how the female lead character, Yujin, is ostracized by family and friends once she balks in her engagement, a predicament that Korean audiences can definitely connect with.
Korean TV dramas, like all other art, have their share of conventions: chance meetings, instant flashback replays, highly fantasized love stories, chance meetings, character masks, chance meetings, all of which can seem like unnecessary time-stoppers to Americans who are utilized to a fast pace. I recommend not suppressing the inevitable giggle out from some faux-respect, but recognize that these things have the territory. My feeling: If you can appreciate Mozart, you should be able to appreciate the pace and conventionality of Dae Jang Geum. More modern adult dramas like Alone in Love suggest that many of these conventions could have already begun to play themselves out.
Episodes get through to the YAE office in San Bruno on Digital Beta (a 1:1 copy through the master which had been used for the particular broadcast) where it really is screened for possible imperfections (whereby, the network is asked 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 completed in stages: first a Korean-speaking person that knows English, then the reverse. Our prime-resolution computer master will then be tweaked for contrast and color. Once the translation is finalized, it is put into the master, being careful to time the appearance of the subtitle with speech. Then the whole show is screened for even more improvements in picture and translation. A 2017推薦日劇 is constructed that has each 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.
Whether or not the picture is formatted in 4:3 or 16:9, in most cases, the picture quality is excellent, sometimes exceptional; and the audio (music, dialogue and foley) is clear and dynamic, drawing the viewers into the time and place, the history as well as the characters. For folks who may have made the jump to light speed, we are able to plan to eventually new drama series in hi-def transfers within the not too distant future.