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[HERALD INTERVIEW]Television drama producer finds stage just as rewarding

2006/02/13 Source

SAPPORO, Japan - When a performance of the musical "Winter Sonata" was over last Monday, the Japanese audience didn't rush to the exit. Instead, many of them began to swarm around a man in the audience who was wearing a black beret and red shirt.

He was Yoon Seok-ho, producer of the massively popular television series "Winter Sonata", who made his performing arts producer debut with the musical version of the drama that has been much more popular in Japan than in Korea. The fans - all females mostly in their 30s or 40s - started to take photos of him with their cell phone cameras, and he, as if he had already been accustomed to this type of ritual, treated his fans with respect and dignity.

"It's just like when I worked on television dramas: faults always look larger than all the other good things", Yoon said in an interview with The Korea Herald after the show.

Although the performance was successful enough to attract Japan's entertainment giant Amuse Entertainment to offer him a deal about sponsoring the next "Winter Sonata" performances in Tokyo and Osaka in September, the producer said that the musical was only a half success.

"The music was good, but it seems like too many slow-tempo songs are jammed in the early part, which kind of loosens the proper degree of tension a bit", Yoon analyzed. Of course he knew better than anyone that such disposition was in consideration of Japanese audiences who are, according to Yoon, calm and even-tempered, but the most reliable hit-maker of the local broadcast industry seemed to want it to be perfect.

"It was all about finding the right position for the new musical, a maximal position between the television drama and a brand new musical drama", continued Yoon. "Personally I still feel that it needs more of something new in it".

Yoon, who also produced such hit soap operas as "Autumn in my Heart" and "Summer Scent" in addition to "Winter Sonata", which depict as many tragic love stories set in three different seasons, is currently working on the filming of "Spring Waltz". The last one of the "four-season drama series" features Daniel Henney, a breakout star in "My Lovely Samsoon", ("My Name is Kim Sam-soon") for a leading role, along with Sung Yu-ri.

The new 20-episode drama that will begin airing from next month has become the first of the series to include overseas locations, as some of its scenes have been filmed in Austria already. "Like the previous three series, a beautiful yet Sad Love Story will arouse sympathy from viewers", Yoon said.

While the new television drama means much for him, he has a good reason to carry on with the musical drama as well, despite his busy schedule.

"I thought it is worth trying to expand the realm of a cultural content", the producer said. "A performing arts work like a musical drama often outlives television series, and the good thing is it can always be revised, performance after performance".

At the invitation of Amuse Entertainment, musical "Winter Sonata" is scheduled to make its way to Tokyo and Osaka in September, which Yoon thinks is the true premiere of the musical. "Many plans are currently in my mind though not many of them are finalized. We may remake it with Japanese actors to perform in Japanese later, or we will bring it to Korea, targeting foreign tourists".

When asked if Bae Yong-joon or Choi Ji-woo, stars of the original television drama, would come to the Tokyo performances, Yoon said somewhat sadly. "I would come if I were them, but they are not like they used to be", the producer said. Choi said that she would visit Sapporo for the musical's promotion, but she failed to keep her word because of her schedule.

"They say 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing', but I've come up with many new ideas about musical dramas while working on 'Winter Sonata", Yoon said. "Making new musical dramas out of my past television dramas is one of them".

By Lee Yong-sung

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