Thursday, July 03, 2014

To the BBC.....
Why K-Dramas, Why Dae Jang Geum?
The growing acceptance of TV shows beyond continental Asia, which shares a certain amount of similarity with Korea, and their embrace in North America, Europe and the Middle East, indicates there is some sort of universal appeal that is capable of transcending cultural differences.

Dae Jang Geum, starring popular actress Lee Young-ae, is a period drama set during the Joseon era of Korea (1392-1910). The drama revolves around an orphaned cook who, against all odds, becomes the King's first female physician.

The story of Dae Jang Geum resonated in different cultures for a variety of reasons. In some countries, where female oppression and firmly entrenched gender roles are an inevitable part of the social fabric, many viewers empathised with the female protagonist's courage and strength. In others, traditional cultural iconography such as architecture, music, attire, food and medicine invoked an exotic feel.

Above: scenes from the earliest episodes of Dae Jang Geum

Not only did Dae Jang Geum immediately sweep Asian countries such as Japan, China, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei, but North America and Europe also took notice, along with countries such as Russia, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran, where the Korean wave had previously remained under the pop culture radar.
Dae Jang Geum has been broadcast in more than 60 countries worldwide, accelerating the globalisation of Korean dramas far beyond Asia, to the Middle East and Africa.

K-Dramas Go Global
During the earlier period of the Korean drama boom that started some 10 years ago, the majority of the overseas viewers resorted to scouring their local DVD shops to see if they carried their favourite Korean dramas.

K-drama: "All About Marriage"
The digital age, however, has transformed viewer habits with regard to watching TV shows, enabling them to have access to nearly any program regardless of time zone or country of origin.
Korean dramas have tapped into the widespread use of video-streaming websites and social media, such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter, since the 2000s.

K-drama: "Coffee Prince"

In addition, due to the rapid development of online video services like YouTube, the consumption of traditional television is becoming a social experience that is immediately shared without the limitations of time, geography or language.

The Future for K-Dramas
Responding to the soaring demand for K-dramas, the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is stepping up its efforts to improve the drama production environment.
The government plans to establish an "HD Drama Complex" at Daejon's Expo Park by 2016. The complex will house five drama studios for films, dramas and sitcoms, along with indoor court and jail sets, outdoor filming sites and an arts centre.

K-drama: "Gu Family"
The ministry will also operate a drama production school and an online broadcasting academy to nurture the talented workforce needed to support professional TV productions. The government has also announced plans to raise ₩150 billion (£87 million) to support the drama production industry and expand financial support for the Broadcasting Development Fund, a programme sponsored by the Korea Communications Agency.

(Excerpt from 'Being Dramatic' by Chung Ah-young.
Originally published in the May 2014 edition of KOREA magazine).

Friday, October 25, 2013

Today in Korea...
Happy Dokdo Day!
Today, Koreans celebrate 'Dokdo Day', a day designated four years ago to promote Korea's sovereignty over the island of Dokdo, which is situated to the East of the Korean peninsular.
Unfortunately there has been a dispute lasting several decades over who owns the island.

Facts about Dokdo island
The island of Dokdo is situated in the East Sea (off the Korean peninsular) and has been a part of Korean territory since 512 A.D.
Countries must understand that invading (or seizing) another country's island does not rightfully make it yours. It is therefore wrong to suggest Dokdo belongs to any country other than Korea.

For more information please visit A Story of Dokdo

Monday, October 07, 2013

Dae Jang Geum Campaign Update
"On the Route of Dae Jang Geum"

대장금  루트를  가다
A new documentary to be aired tonight on MBC
Alice Bennell, founder of the "Show Dae Jang Geum on BBC" Campaign, will be featured tonight in a documentary on Korean TV station MBC.

At the beginning of the summer, I was approached by a film producer from Korean TV station MBC (Munwha Broadcasting Corporation), asking if I would be willing to appear in a new documentary (called 'On the Route of Dae Jang Geum') to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the popular Korean historical drama. The producers of the documentary travelled around the globe (on the 'route of Dae Jang Geum') to investigate the cultural phenomenon of the drama, and the impact it has had in the countries where it has been shown (or not, in the case of the United Kingdom).

Since I was already busy preparing to attend "Chethams International Summer School and Festival for Pianists" in Manchester, filming was delayed until the end of August.
The filming for the documentary took place over two days, and we had a long list of things we needed to cover. I played two songs from the soundtrack of Dae Jang Geum on the piano, I discussed my compositions, painted a minwha picture (as I had taken Korean painting classes last term), talked about my interest in Korean culture and literature, designed a Korea unification flag, travelled to the Korean Cultural Centre in Central London to be interviewed with KCC's artistic director Hye-Jung Jeon.... It was a lot of fun, but very tiring!



Tonight, 'On the Route of Dae Jang Geum' will be focusing on people from four countries: a girl from Sri Lanka, a small community in Sierra Leone, a girl from the UK (me!), and a couple from Belarus.
"장금이 파이팅! 앨리스 파이팅!"

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


A Decade of Dae Jang Geum
Dae Jang Geum celebrates its 10th Anniversary


Since its debut on Korean TV station MBC (Munwha Broadcasting Corporation) in 2003, Dae Jang Geum has gained huge popularity in 87 countries Worldwide; including Russia, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Hungary and the United States. 
There have been over 96,500 visitors to this website since I launched my campaign in April 2006. Now in 2013, Dae Jang Geum celebrates its 10th Anniversary - I think it's time to revive my "Show Dae Jang on BBC" Campaign!
My next step is to write another letter to Sue Deeks (Head of Acquisitions at the BBC), and I will let you know how she responds.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Alice Goes to South Korea...
Last month, I was awarded 3rd prize in LTI Korea's annual 'International Korean Literature Essay Competition' (see previous post). My prize was an all-expenses paid trip to Korea; to attend the Awards Ceremony, and to have a sightseeing tour around Seoul with the other prizewinners.
I had a such wonderful time, there was so much to see and I was fascinated by everything. I met the other competition winners on the first night: Rosa (a University Professor from Spain), Michelle (who works in International Relations, from Mexico), Federico (a student from Italy), and Rick (a student from Taiwan).

On our first full-day, we were taken to the head office of the Korean Literature Translation Institute (LTI Korea). It is an organisation supporting the translation of Korean literature around the world, and it is funded by the Korean government.
They showed us around their library that has Korean books translated into 28 languages, and we also met the President of the Institute. Then at the award ceremony, all the competition winners were given a big bunch of flowers, and we had to do a 3-minute speech in front of members of the Institute.

For the next few days we were taken on a grand tour around Seoul. We saw the changing of the guards at Gyeonghui Palace, and we visited the Korean Folk Museum. We also went to a traditional Korean Folk Village, to see how people of the Joseon dynasty lived: the houses they lived in, the games they played, and how they stored their food. For lunch we were treated to a formal Royal Court meal, where about a million courses were brought out. It was alot of fun!

On the last day, I went to two palaces in Seoul - Changdeokgung (where many scenes from Dae Jang Geum were filmed!) and Changyeong. Changdeokgung was my favourite palace, it was so big and grand, and the royal garden of Changyeong was full of red maple trees. It was really pretty!
 
I was sad to leave Seoul, I knew I would really miss it. On the last morning, Miss Park (the lady who looked after us during our stay), came to say goodbye and gave everyone a farewell gift. It was a silver business card holder, decorated with Korean characters, and with LTI Korea's logo on the inside.

During my stay, Seoul held their annual Lantern Festival. Along a stream that runs through downtown Seoul, there were hundreds of intricate paper lanterns that looked really pretty when lit up at night.