It absolutely was around three years back that I was unveiled in the idea of region-free DVD playback, an almost necessary condition for readers of DVD Beaver. Because of this, a whole realm of Asian film that had been heretofore unknown in my opinion or away from my reach opened. 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 within the next few months, with my new and surprisingly cheap multi-region DVD player, I used to be 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. It was a new field of cutting edge cinema for me.
A few months into this adventure, a pal lent us a copy in the first disc from the Korean television series, 韓劇dvd. He claimed that this drama had just finished a six month’s run as typically the most popular Korean television series ever, which the brand new English subtitles by YA-Entertainment were quite readable. “Maybe you’ll enjoy it, perhaps not.” He knew my tastes pretty well by then, but the thought of a television series, let alone one made for Korean mainstream TV, was hardly a thing that lit the obligatory fire under me. After two episodes, I used to be hooked.
I understood my fascination with Korean cinema, but television! This became a mystery. 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, however i still thought of myself as discriminating. So, that which was the attraction – one may possibly say, compulsion that persists for this day? Throughout the last year or two I have got watched, faithfully, eight complete series, in historical and contemporary settings – each one averaging 20 hours – and I’m halfway into Jumong, which can be over 80 hour long episodes! Precisely what is my problem!
Though there are actually obvious similarities to Western primetime dramas, cable and in many cases daytime soaps, Korean primetime television dramas – which they commonly call “miniseries” for the reason that West already experienced a handy, or even altogether accurate term – are a unique art form. These are structured like our miniseries in they may have a pre-ordained beginning, middle and end. While much longer than our miniseries – including the episodes can be a whole hour long, not counting commercials, which can be usually front loaded prior to the episode begins – they generally do not go on for five, six or seven seasons, like Alias or Star Trek: Voyager, or for generations, such as the Days of Our Everyday Life. The nearest thing we have to Korean dramas is perhaps any given season of 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 very good at it over time, especially considering that the early 1990s when the government eased its censorship about content, which got their creative juices going.
Korean dramas were jump-were only available in 1991 with the hugely successful Eyes of Dawn, set between your Japanese invasion of WWII as well as the Korean War of your early 1950s. In 1995 the highly acclaimed series, The Sandglass, managed to get clear to a audience beyond 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 from the backdrop of the things was then recent Korean political history, specially the events of 1980 called the Gwang-ju Democratization Movement and also 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 now call the “Korean Wave” really took off. Winter Sonata in a short time swept over Asia like atsunami, soon landing in Hawaii and so the Mainland, where Korean dramas already enjoyed 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 (never to be wrongly identified as YesAsia) to distribute the best Korean dramas with proper English subtitles in Canada And America. To this end, YAE (as Tom loves to call his company) secured the necessary licenses to complete exactly that with all the major Korean networks. I spent several 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 desire for Korean dramas accidentally when one his professors used a then current weekly series to assist his students study Korean. An unexpected side-effect was that he or she and his awesome schoolmates became hooked on the drama itself. Larsen has since made several trips to Korea for longer stays. I’ll return to how YAE works shortly, but first I want to try no less than to reply to the question: Why Korean Dramas?
Part of the answer, I believe, depends on the unique strengths of those shows: Purity, Sincerity, Passion. Perhaps the hallmark of Korean dramas (and, at some level, in numerous of the feature films) is actually a relative purity of character. Each character’s psychology and motivation is apparent, clean, archetypical. This may not be to say they are certainly not complex. Rather a character will not be made complicated arbitrarily. Psychological insight into the type, as expressed by her or his behavior, is – I judge – often more correctly manifest than we have seen on American television series: Character complexity is far more convincing once the core self is not interested in fulfilling the requirements this or that producer, sponsor or target age range or subculture.
Korea is a damaged and split country, as are many others whose borders are drawn by powers other than themselves, invaded and colonized many times over the centuries. Koreans are, therefore, acutely understanding of questions of divided loyalties. Korean dramas often explore the conflict between your modern as well as the traditional – even just in the historical series. Conflicts of obligations are frequently the prime motivation and concentrate for your dramatic narrative, often expressed in generational terms in the family. There may be something very reassuring about these dramas. . . not from the 1950s happy ending sense, for indeed, you can find 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.
Perhaps the most arresting feature from the acting may be the passion that is delivered to performance. There’s the best value of heartfelt angst which, viewed from context, can strike the unsuspecting Westerner as somewhat laughable. But in context, such expressions of emotion are powerful and fascinating, strikinmg towards the heart of the conflict. Korean actors and audiences, young or old, unlike our personal, are immersed within their country’s political context along with their history. The emotional connection actors make for the characters they portray has a level of truth that is certainly projected instantly, without having the conventional distance we often require inside the west.
Such as the 韓劇dvd of the 1940s, the characters inside a Korean drama possess a directness about their greed, their desires, their weaknesses, and their righteousness, and are fully committed to the effects. It’s difficult to say if 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, specifically in the historical series, the actors wear their emotional connection to their character on the face as a kind of character mask. It’s one of several conventions of Korean drama which we will see clearly what another character cannot, though they are “there” – sort of such as a stage whisper.
I have always been a supporter from the less-is-more school of drama. Not that I favor a blank stage in modern street clothes, but that too much detail can change an otherwise involved participant in to a passive observer. Also, the greater detail, the greater number of chance i may happen by using an error that can take me out of your reality that the art director has so carefully constructed (just like the 1979 penny that Chris Reeves finds in the pocket in Somewhere over time.) Graphic presentations with sensational story lines have got 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 is that the story lines of Korean dramas are, with hardly any exceptions, only as long as they must be, after which the series comes to a conclusion. It can not persist with contrived excuses to re-invent its characters. Nor is the duration of a series dependant upon the “television season” since it is within the U.S. K-dramas usually are not mini-series. Typically, they can be between 17-24 hour-long episodes, though some have over 50 episodes (e.g. Emperor from 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 usually the case), are generally more skilled than American actors of a similar age. For this is the rule in Korea, rather than 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, which includes an appeal in the 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”, along with “drama”. Music is utilized to boost the emotional response or perhaps to 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 exists a happy ending. In melodrama there exists constructed a field of heightened emotion, stock characters along with a hero who rights the disturbance on the balance of good and evil in the universe using a clear moral division.
Aside from the “happy ending” part along with an infinite supply of trials for both hero and heroine – usually, the latter – this description isn’t up to now off the mark. But furthermore, 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, to some great extent, modern cinema makes use of music within a comparatively casual way. An American TV series could have a signature theme that may or may not – not often – get worked in to the score as a show goes along. Many of the music will there be to back up the atmosphere or provide additional energy on the action sequences. Not so with Korean dramas – where the music can be used much more like musical theatre, even opera. Certain themes represent specific characters or relationships between them. The songs is deliberately and intensely passionate and can stand alone. Just about every series has a minumum of one song (not sung from a character) that appears during especially sensitive moments. The lyric is reflective and poetic. Many television soundtrack albums are hugely successful in Asia. The background music for Winter Sonata, Seo Dong Yo, Palace and Jumong are common excellent examples.
The setting for any typical Korean drama could possibly be almost anyplace: home, office, or outdoors who have the benefit of familiar and much less known locations. The producers of Dae Jang Geum made a small working village and palace for that filming, which has since be a popular tourist attraction. A series might be one or a mix of familiar genres: romances, comedies, political or crime thrillers or historical dramas. Whilst the settings are often familiar, the traditions and, often, the costumes and make-up are often very different from Western shows. Some customs might be fascinating, while others exasperating, even in contemporary settings – in terms of example, in Winter Sonata, just how the female lead character, Yujin, is ostracized by friends and relations once she balks on her engagement, a predicament that Korean audiences can really correspond with.
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 which can appear like unnecessary time-stoppers to Americans who are employed to a speedy pace. I recommend not suppressing the inevitable giggle out from some faux-respect, but understand that this stuff include the territory. My feeling: When you can appreciate Mozart, you should certainly appreciate the pace and conventionality of Dae Jang Geum. More modern adult dramas like Alone for each other claim that a number of these conventions could possibly 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 actual broadcast) where it is actually screened for possible imperfections (whereby, the network is asked to send another.) The Beta is downloaded in the lossless format to the pc and a low-resolution copy is 25dexjpky towards the translator. Translation is carried out in stages: first a Korean-speaking person that knows English, then this reverse. Our prime-resolution computer master will then be tweaked for contrast and color. When the translation is finalized, it can be entered into the master, taking care to time the appearance of the subtitle with speech. Then this whole show is screened for more improvements in picture and translation. A 2017推薦日劇 is constructed which has all the menu instructions and completed picture and subtitles. The DLT will then be brought to factories in Korea or Hong Kong for the manufacture of the discs.
Regardless of if the picture is formatted in 4:3 or 16:9, in most cases, the graphic quality is superb, sometimes exceptional; and the audio (music, dialogue and foley) is clear and dynamic, drawing the viewers in the time and place, the story and also the characters. For people that have made the jump to light speed, we can expect to eventually new drama series in hd transfers in the not too distant future.