“Being Erica” from Canada will compete for the Best Drama Award at the Seoul Drama Awards. / Courtesy of SDA 2009
By Han Sang-hee
The Seoul International Drama Awards 2009 will be held for 10 days starting from Sept. 4 at various venues around the city.
A total of 169 dramas from 37 countries will compete at this year's event under the slogan ``Enjoy Star & Story.''
``The purpose of the SDA 2009 is to raise the profile of Korean series in the international drama market and to expand cultural exchanges,'' an official from the organizing committee said.
Some of Korea's favorite programs will compete with some of the best works from around the world, including countries like Japan, Sweden, Italy and even Ecuador. The awards will be divided into two categories: The Best Drama Award and Individual Prizes. Popular Korean dramas ``Beethoven Virus'' (MBC), ``The Painter of Wind'' (SBS) and ``Slingshot'' (KBS) will compete with England's ``Doctor Who Season 4,'' China's ``Memories of China'' and Canada's ``The Englishman's Boy,'' among others.
The three local works garnered fans last year with their creative plots and impressive presentations, and they are expected to heat up the competition. ``Beethoven Virus,'' starring top actor Kim Myung-min, captivated drama fans with classical music, interesting characters and a heartwarming storyline, while ``The Painter of Wind'' told the mystery tale of the famous painter Shin Yun-bok during the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), portrayed by Moon Geun-young. ``Slingshot'' was a soap about success-driven men struggling to survive in the competitive world while trying to protect their family, friends and love.
The Individual Prizes will also be difficult decisions, as Moon, Korea's sweetheart, will compete with six other actresses, including Norway's Charlotte Frogner for her work in
``Maria'' and Christine Reyes from the Philippines for her appearance in ``Eva Fonda.''
Moon started her acting career in 1999 and has been starring in popular dramas and movies, with her best known being the film ``My Little Bride'' (2004) and the horror flick ``A Tale of Two Sisters'' (2003). The 22-year-old actress has garnered fans with her role as the famous painter and also made headlines with her charity work.
The men's category includes Korea's Kim Myung-min and Park Yong-ha, along with New Zealand's Antony Starr for his work in ``Outrageous Fortune'' and Japan's Akira Kume from ``The Shopping Trip,'' among others.
Actor Kim Myung-min made a lasting impression in the period drama ``Immortal Admiral Yi Sun-shin,'' but his big hit was with ``Beethoven Virus,'' in which he played a charismatic conductor. He recently made headlines after losing more than 20 kilograms to portray a patient suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease.
Park Yong-ha became a hallyu star through his role in the soap ``Winter Sonata'' (KBS) and has continued to appear as various characters, including a stubborn drama producer in the hit series ``On Air'' (SBS) and a tough scam artist in the film ``The Scam'' (2009). He is nominated for his recent appearance in ``Slingshot.''
The SDA 2009 has arranged various events and showcases that will be held at Gwanghwamun Plaza near the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts from Sept. 4 to 13.
The SDA History exhibition will introduce past winners of the SDA from 2006 to 2008. From previous winners' works to footage of them receiving their awards, visitors can sample the short, yet rich history of the event at the exhibition.
Actress Choi Ji-woo, the heroine of ``Winter Sonata,'' has been named an honorary member of the SDA Hall of Fame. Last year's honor went to veteran actor Choi Bool-am. Fans can get a glimpse of some of the scenes from her best works, including Winter Sonata, ``Stairway to Heaven'' (SBS) and ``Celebrity Sweetheart'' (SBS).
The event will also hold a special exhibition called ``Korea's Next Representative Directors'' for up-and-coming drama directors of the year. The event will offer the works of three aspiring television series directors ― Kim Jung-kyu from KBS, Kim Sang-ho from MBC and Jang Tae-yoo from SBS ― and look into their creative world of television series direction.
Finally, walk into the world of local dramas in the ``Drama Adventure'' section, where visitors and fans can actually try on costumes and use props from famous works. Walk into the rooms of the characters from ``Beethoven Virus'' or take photos at a creepy old house that was taken from the actual set of the horror drama ``Korea Ghost Stories'' (KBS).
Wrapping up the festival of dramas will be the final award ceremony that will be held Sept. 11 at Olympic Hall, southern Seoul.
For more information, visit www.seouldrama.org or call (02) 830-7181.