A scene from the hit 2004 TV drama ``Land" (Toji) inspired by the epic novel of the same name by Park Kyung-ni. / Courtesy of SBS
By Lee Hyo-won
Park Kyung-ni's novels are considered to be classics, and the fact that her works are revived time after time onscreen is one proof of this. Screen adaptations for both movies and TV soap operas show the enduring quality of her work.
Park's most celebrated novel ``Toji'' (Land) was adapted onscreen numerous times. It is often considered a timeless historical novel, and even a cartoon version was published last year. Told in five parts over 16 volumes, it portrays the social climate of the early 20th century. But tracing the lives, loves and sorrow of peasants and nobilities, ``Land'' features universal themes that still appeal to people today.
The story appeared as a movie in 1974, starring veteran actor Lee Soon-jae. It inspired three television soaps in 1979, 1986 and 2004 respectively. The latest version was particularly significant as it followed the publication of the fifth and final episode of the epic work in 1994.
The SBS drama was a big budget project shot over 20 months. The 50-episodes starred popular actress Kim Hyun-joo as its heroine Seo-hui and some 600 other characters. The huge popularity of the series lived up to the big expectations and production costs.
Another piece seen onscreen is ``The Saint and the Witch,'' a melodrama about crisscrossed romances. It appeared on the silver screen in 1969. Directed by Na Han-bong, it stars actors Lee Soon-jae and Shin Young-gyun ― now aged ― as dashing heartbreakers. In 2003, the story was made into a soap opera by MBC.
``Daughters of Pharmacist Kim'' also inspired film and TV adaptations. This family drama is about a pharmacist and his four very different daughters, slightly reminiscent of Louisa May Alcott's ``Little Women.''
The 1963 movie version stars a youthful Um Aeng-ran ― one of Korea's most esteemed actresses _ as the second daughter, an intelligent, modern college student. In 2005, MBC brought it back as a daily morning TV series.