October 31, 2006

Princess Hours - Goong

In Association With YesAsia.comAfter watching the very popular Korean drama Princess Hours (Goong), I can't help but think that this drama series was created for maximum viewer ratings because it caters to both viewers who like historical drama serials like Dae Jang Geum (with its palace intrigues) and viewers who are into trendy modern comedies like My Girl or My Lovely Samsoon (complete with a spunky and cute heroine in tow).

Princess Hours, which recreates a fictional modern Korean monarchy has some of the most beautiful costumes and elaborately built sets that I have seen in an Asian drama series. It is one of the most expensive Korean drama serials ever produced, the production cost for each episode is 230 million won (about US$245,000)!

The gamble paid off handsomely for the producers as Goong performed very well, garnering almost 30% in viewer ratings when it was shown in South Korea at the beginning of this year. It was so popular that a sequel of sorts Goong 2 (Prince Hours) is currently being made but unfortunately none of the 4 major characters in Goong will be appearing in the sequel.

Although Princess Hours was based on a South Korean comic book series, to a certain extent the story reminded me of another extremely popular Chinese drama serial that was shown a couple of years ago - Princess Returning Pearl or Huan Zhu Ge Ge. The character of Shin Chae-gyung (played by Yoon Eun-hye) resembled very closely the personality of Xiao Yan-zi (played by Zhao Wei). Both characters were lively and mischievious teenagers who entered the repressed and dreary royal palace by a twist of fate but somehow not only survived the experience but even brought a breath of fresh air into the stifling environment in the palace.

In Association With YesAsia.com It also made major stars out of the 4 fresh-faced youths who played the main characters in the drama: Yoon Eun-hye (Shin Chae-gyung), Joo Ji-hoon (Crown Prince Lee Shin), Song Ji Hyo (Min Hyo-rin) and Kim Jeong-hoon (Prince Lee Yul). Even Prince Lee Shin's best friend "Alfred" the teddy bear (see picture) has become a hit :0)

This is definitely a drama that is well worth watching.... Although the storyline is a bit too fairy-tale like and unrealistic, the effort that was put into creating the show is nothing short of spectacular and the chemistry between the 4 lead actors is also a major attraction!

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October 13, 2006

Curse Of The Golden Flower Is Really Made Of Gold

The new Zhang Yi Mou movie which stars Chow Yun-Fatt and Gong Li is proving to be as expensive as gold...

With a budget of US$45 million - equivalent to about 2430 kg (5350 pounds) of gold - it is the most expensive movie ever made in the history of Chinese cinema.

Even the actors' costumes are as heavy as "gold", the "dragon suits" of the Emporer (Chow Yun-Fatt) and Empress (Gong Li) are about 36kilograms or 79 pounds respectively. However, they still don't have it so bad... because the Prince's (pop-star Jay Chou) costume armor is over 100 pounds (46kg), about the weight of a very slim lady :-P I wonder how anyone can move with that kind of weight on their body, much less go into battle ....

However, although the movie seems to be made of gold, it still remains to be seen if the box office will also turn out to be a golden feast although it looks likely as the other much talked about and similarly lavish Chinese period movie, The Banquet, starring Zhang Ziyi, had a sparkling run at the Chinese box-office.

Curse Of The Golden Flower will be released worldwide around Christmas.

[Information derived from http://news.yam.com/udn/entertain/200610/20061013438417.html, http://english.people.com.cn/200610/06/eng20061006_309302.html]

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October 3, 2006

Heroines In Modern Korean TV Dramas

Endless Love ImageHave you noticed the change in the personalities of the lead female characters in modern Korean TV dramas in the last few years?

When the Korean Wave first exploded from 2001 to 2003, the heroines in the most popular dramas during that period were usually sweet and gentle girl-next-door types that somehow had extremely tragic destinies. However, they still maintained their sweet smiles and stoic optimisim even in the most difficult circumstances, which of course made the situation look even more tragic in the audience's eye. Classic examples include Eun-Suh (played by Song Hye-Gyo) from , Yun-Hee (Kim Hyun-Ju) from and Han Jung-Suh (Choi Ji-Woo) from . If you want to enjoy a good cry, try watching these dramas, especially Autumn :-P

My Lovely Sam Soon ImageBut since about one or two years ago, the producers must have realised that audiences were getting tired of the unrelenting tragedy in their dramas, possibly signalled by falling ratings in similar dramas and decided to make more light hearted dramas. In came the comical, down-to-earth but klutzy heroines such as Kim Sam-Soon (Kim Sun-A) from , Yoo-rin (Lee Da-Hae) from and Ji-Eun (Song Hye-Gyo again) from . Besides the usual comedic but sometimes touching romantic entanglements with the male lead characters, these modern misses mostly do not have painful pasts or tragic destinies like their sisters in earlier dramas. They are more like Asian versions of Ally McBeal and Bridget Jones... and immediately struck a chord with young Asian women who identified with the characters' struggles and problems.

The success of these light-hearted dramas in terms of ratings showed that perhaps this is the road to TV drama land success for Korean drama serials at the moment. However, who knows, there may come a time in the near future when weepy dramas launch a comeback with a new vengence haha....

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