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Korean Vogue Works Even For TV Shows Based on Korean History

Korean Vogue Works Even For TV Shows Based on Korean History

Posted February. 04, 2003 22:51,   


The Korean vogue in Asia is opening the market much wider for Korean TV shows. The market has been dominated by trendy TV shows. Now, TV shows featuring the Korean historic events are making inroads, too.

KBS plans to edit into TV series its hit TV shows like Tears of Dragon, King and Concubines, Founder Hwang Gun and Era of Warriors. Then it will export them to Taiwan. Especially, Era of Warriors, which depicts an era of the Koryo Dynasty when the warriors dominated the kingdom, is expected to fascinate overseas viewers. Thus, even before airing the show, various foreign distributors are trying to cut a deal with KBS to obtain the license.

KBS senior executive Eun Moon-gee said, "Last November, Chong Hee-bin was sold to a cable network station in Taiwan. Now, we are entering into the final stage of negotiation as to Tears of Dragon. As early as March or April, we could sign up a contract, I believe."

TV shows based on a country`s history are hard to be exported. Nonetheless, other TV stations including SBS and MBC have exported history-based shows to Taiwan, which commanded much popularity there. With the success behind, TV shows depicting a formal part of the history are beginning to sell abroad.

Taiwan is the hub of the Korean vogue. Every TV show is dubbed in Chinese there and distributed to various Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

SBS`s Empress Myungsung ranked within top 5 in Taiwan. The reason, experts believe, lies in the background of the show. It takes as its background the aggression of Japan in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Thus, once falling victim to the Japanese aggression themselves, Taiwanese could understand it and like it. On the other hand, the other TV shows to be exported lack such elements connecting people of different countries. Thus, we have to wait and see before we could tell more about the future.

“The Japanese saga dramas are mostly not only too calm but also so nationalistic that they embellish the Japanese history. The Korean counterparts, however, freed themselves from the nationalism and they are very likely to advance abroad because they contain exciting actions like the style of History of Three States,” said Ahn Young-dong, manager of KBS drama division.

Most of the NHK saga dramas are about Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, the magnates after the 16th century, embellishing their history to take pride in the Japanese culture. The Chinese saga dramas, the so-called costume dramas, are estimated to be too unrealistic because of their exaggerated chivalrous actions like flying in the sky.

On the contrary, the unique merchantability of the Korean saga dramas are recognized in psychological descriptions such as love and conflict among the characters and in Europe-style actions that make the most of reality in war scenes.

“The KBS saga dramas have contributed to promoting the Korean culture because they focus on the authentic history, different from the SBS and MBC dramas,” said Song Kyoung-hee, a researcher at the Korean Broadcasting Institute.

Seung-Hoon Cheon raphy@donga.com