A scene from drama ``Bicheonmu’' / Courtesy of Eight Peaks
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Most Korean dramas start airing after the shooting of first a few episodes. Thus the general practice has been that production gets busier and busier, with the dramas eventually rushing to the end with obviously lower quality than before.
A blockbuster hit from last year, ``Taewangsasingi'' (The Four Guardian Gods of the King) was not an exception. Despite 43 billion won ($46 million) budget and three years of preparation, the drama did not have enough time to shoot and edit 24 episodes. One time, an episode had been edited just after the designated airing time, and MBC, the broadcasting station, had to extend their live news to fill up time cut from the production.
The ``one-page script'' exists in Korean soap-opera making. The whole script for one episode is not produced at the same time. The actors stand ready for shooting a scene without knowing what they are going to film and just one page of the script is sent from the writer. Then they act according to that one page without knowing what's going on before and after the scene.
To reduce such problems, some productions have started to make pre-produced dramas, finishing all the post-production before the airing of the first episode, as in most Western dramas.
``Bicheonmu'' is the first Korean drama to fully complete filming and editing before being shown. However, it was kept waiting for two years and seven months for scheduling due to a dispute between the producers and the station about the overseas copyright.
Directed by Yoon Sang-ho, who co-directed ``Taewangsasingi,'' the drama stars Joo Jin-mo from the 2006 film, ``200 Pound Beauty,'' and singer-turned-actress Park Ji-yoon who plays his tragic lover in a story set in China 700 years ago.
Following ``Bicheonmu,'' ``I Love You'' (working title) is another pre-produced drama, which will start broadcasting on SBS in the first half of this year. Filming started last September and finished last month and it is now in post-production.
Based on Huh Young-man's popular cartoon, ``I Love You'' depicts the life of newlyweds. Ahn Jae-wook (``The Garden of Heaven,'' 2003) and Seo Ji-hye (``The Mafia, the Salesman,'' 2007) play the affectionate couple. The drama will be previewed for a selected audience on Feb. 14.
JS Picture, the producing company of ``I Love You,'' has prepared another pre-production ``Sikgaek'' (working title). ``We signed a contract with SBS Jan. 17 to air both dramas,'' said a JS Picture executive. It is scheduled for release in April.
``Sikgaek'' is also based on a Huh's comic strip of the same name. It has been released as a movie ``Le Grand Chef'' (2007). The drama version focuses on different episodes of the comic to differentiate it from the movie.
Kim Rae-won, who starred in the 2004 film ``My Little Bride,'' is the genius chef and actress Nam Sang-mi (TV drama ``Sweet Spy,'' 2005) plays his counterpart.