Korean dramas have earned praise from Filipino film, TV and theater director and actress Laurice Guillen for their production value, stories and casting.
The Korean Cultural Center (KCC) and the Korean Embassy in the Philippines in partnership with BGC Arts Center and Mind S-Cool hosted the webinar “The Role of K-Dramas in Sharing and Shaping Culture Beyond Borders” on Nov. 6 on YouTube.
Guillen joined “Winter Sonata” producer Kim Hee-yeol, vice president and head of drama production of Korean drama company Pan Entertainment, and Lee Young-hoon, chief of the Broadcasting Industry Team of the Korean Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), in discussing Korean dramas, which have become a leading content of Hallyu, or Korean Wave, not only in Asia but in countries around the world.
“I only started watching K-dramas early this year before the pandemic came to the Philippines and so far I have watched more than 50 Korean drama series excluding films,” said Guillen, adding that there are many outstanding features of a Korean drama.
She added that “the most outstanding is really the stories which are excellently written. The writing integrates narrative, things and subject matter in a seamless way. The stories do not concentrate on one genre alone and it seems that they are unafraid to make innovations. That is something that is different from our situation in the Philippines where we usually produce the same kind of dramas that have rated very well previously in the ratings.”
“Always the stories are character-based. There is always the moral of the story. In Korean dramas, it is not only the lead character who shines but also the support. They are strong and necessary and the audience loves them,” she said.
The second most outstanding feature, she said, is the “production value in the staging of the drama as seen in the production design. Care is given to the production design, care is given to the selection of the locations, setting for the scenes and also the technical value.”
Guillen also cited the outsourcing production system in Korean dramas. One Korean drama outsourcing company is Pan Entertainment, which has produced top-rating dramas including “Moon Embracing the Sun,” “Brilliant Legacy,” “Kill Me, Heal Me” and “When the Camellia Blooms.”
“Here we don’t have that. We are only just starting but the production of dramas is done by the big networks and productions. However this is something that I have just now learned about the style of production in Korea. The outsourcing production system has worked for the industry as it encourages growth,” she said.
Korean dramas are one of Korea’s leading cultural exports. Guillen said she agrees that the growing popularity of Korean dramas in Asia and other countries “is due to common values that Asian can relate to such as love, filial piety and triumph of good over evil. These are values that Filipinos can relate to as an idea.”
She said that as a director and after watching Korean dramas, she has appreciated “the detail by which cultural values, customs and traditions, in short the Korean way of life, is shared with the audience.”
Korean dramas, she said, integrate many elements including weather, fashion, music, food, Korean standard of beauty, Korean products including food and cosmetics, issues and blending of Western culture into Korean lifestyle.
“The drama seems to promote not only cultural patriotism and identity to its home audience in Korea but Korean consumer goods as well to its wider Asian market and beyond,” she said.