Local Dramas Enduring With Support In and Out

By Han Sang-hee
Staff Reporter

The economy looks gloomy, and a dark cloud is casting a shadow over the local drama industry. But producers and networks alike are striving to keep up with demands from viewers, with support in and out of the country.

Local television network SBS will offer a new drama "Swallow the Sun" this July and has joined hands with renowned Canadian circus troupe "Cirque du Soleil" for the show.

"After discussions with the vice president of the troupe in Taiwan, we decided, in Las Vegas, to bring the circus in April", Yoo Cheol-yong, the producer, said.

He added that they decided to appear without any royalties, as it considers Korea a potential market. The new drama is being made by the makers of 2003's hit drama "All In", writer Choi Wan-gyoo and Yoo.

Seogwipo, a city on Jeju Island, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the production company for "Swallow the Sun", as the drama is to be filmed entirely in the city, with the exception of scenes abroad.

"We signed the MOU last July, promising support for the overall filming of the drama. We will help them film in some of our best locations and also try to help alleviate any hindrances during the shoots. It's more of a mutual relationship", an official from Seogwipo's Supporting Investment Division said.

She added that the drama is planning to use exact location names, so the city anticipates a boost in tourism.

Meanwhile, Taewon Entertainment's "IRIS", starring actors hallyu leader Kim Tae-hee and Lee Byung-hun, managed to get support from not only Seoul city, but Akita Prefecture, in Japan, which anticipates that the drama will bring in approximately 200 million yen, or 3 billion won, in revenue. The province also decided to provide free lodging to the drama's 80 crewmembers.

Seoul will also offer its support to the drama, which is striving to become the next "Winter Sonata" and entertain international fans.

"The main support we are offering is administrative. We also recommend places that we think will fit the drama. As `Iris' will be filmed here in Seoul, it will also be a good way to introduce interesting places to not only local viewers, but viewers abroad", a Seoul official told The Korea Times.

Meanwhile, SBS's upcoming drama "Cain and Abel" held a press conference at Cheongju Airport last week and hinted at support from the city in North Chungcheong Province.

The city will in fact provide 500 million won and offer administrative support by allowing filming inside city buildings and organizations. In return, the producers decided to film the drama in Cheongju for more than eight episodes out of the total 20.

"It's exceptional to be supported with such an amount of money from a city, especially in such difficult times. Cheongju is looking forward to attracting more tourists to the city with the help of the drama and hallyu star So Ji-sub", Plan B Pictures, the production company, said in a statement.

Popular drama "Boys over Flowers" was fortunate enough to receive support from New Caledonia.

The drama aired episodes in which five characters took a trip to the beautiful island, and now it will offer viewers episodes taking place in Macao.

"When news hit that Korea was filming the next `Boys over Flowers' series, there were proposals from Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, but we wanted to offer viewers places that were new to our fans. It's not just about pretty locations or promoting a certain area, but a way to promote the drama industry and bring more interesting scenes", the drama's production company, Group Eight, said through a statement.
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