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“Jewel in the Palace” Rage Hits Japan

Posted October. 07, 2005 07:35,   


Viewers across Asia will be spending their evenings watching “Dae Jang Geum” or “A Jewel in the Palace.”

“Dae Jang Geum,” a Korean television series about a royal cook, took the 1.3 billion Chinese TV market by surprise. Now that the drama will be aired on terrestrial channels, after its successful debut on satellite channels in Japan, attention is being focused on whether the immensely popular drama can win the hearts of viewers in both countries.

NHK, a Japanese public broadcasting company, plans to air the drama with the title, “The Promise of Jang Geum” on terrestrial channels beginning on October 8. It will be broadcast once a week at 11:00 p.m. every Saturday, the same time “Winter Sonata,” another smash hit Korean drama, used to be aired. “Dae Jang Geum,” a series of 54 episodes, will air for a year, more than double the time Winter Sonata, a series of 20 episodes, was aired.

Ogawa Junko (45), the NHK senior producer in charge of purchasing and producing foreign dramas, said, “The drama’s relatively long airing period can be burdensome for the broadcasting company. But the company was encouraged by viewers’ reactions after it was aired on BS2, a satellite channel.”

NHK has been broadcasting the drama on BS2 since October last year. It plans to air another Korean drama called “Damo” as soon as “Dae Jang Geum” comes to an end.

The ratings of “Dae Jang Geum” on BS2 were higher than Winter Sonata. Moreover, it is popular even among men, as opposed to Winter Sonata’s popularity primarily among middle-aged women.

pisong@donga.com hanscho@donga.com