Dorama – a Very Specific Asian Genre

A convincing part of abstract Asian cinematography concerned in `dorama` - a very special genre. As we used to see `drama` signed in European and American cinema is different for Asian one. `Dorama` doesn`t exist beyond the mainland borders and belongs especially to Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese art. Also, it spread in Thailand. Meanwhile, it was one of the very initial genres of postwar Japan. Through the years it gets transformed from the soap on-screen to complicated in technician stories with expecting plot.

We used to get dorama in English as a simple drama movie. Moreover, looking into the linguistic roots, the ordinary drama doesn’t load the emotions instead of the Asian one. In English, it simplified only with actions, as dorama fulfilled with emotional lines of the plot. Asian doramas vary with genres from romantic to horror and thriller. The major part directed after the mangas in Japan, the manhwas in Korea and manhua in China. In general, it’s convenient to think that dorama could be only in series. However, trivial American drama is equal to Asian kind, so dorama is also could be a movie.


What is Asian dorama in origin?

But what kind of dorama is usual for Asian? On average dorama vary from 11 to 24 series, but sometimes it’s expanded in more. Another significant thing to dorama is the age of the audience. The wage part of the chart contributed to youth and teenagers. That’s why protagonists are also played by youth, nevertheless similar to those who faced the same problems outside the screen. People who think dorama is almost the same with soap operas are not mistaken because mostly directed in the way of fatal love, traumatic relationships and not mutual sympathy, school life and daily routine, suitable for Asian society.

Getting back to its origin, dorama reflected the history and legends of early Korean folks. Legends of ancestors, of royal dynasties and emperors. Watching doramas you can see the technician model of characters and relations on-screen. Sometimes different doramas introduce a similar plot and protagonists. It’s acute to emotional colours, with social conflicts, love triangle or family struggling. Even though dorama is rich in feelings, it doesn’t get deep in complicated plot constructions, without lays and interweaving of the character lines. But often it fulfilled with intrigues and affairs.


The King and the Clown / The King’s Man

Historical dorama is widespread in the section of the early Korean cinematography. For well-known reasons, it was popular during the whole period of cultural development. From the first ages, it remembered the rich culture and history of Korean emperors.


When Korea was settled by Japan, later historical doramas helped to fix the value of Korean ethnicity among society. Last but not least to watch Korean doramas probably is the only memory of original cinema in Korea. The King and the Clown or The King`s man directed in 2005 by Lee Joon-Ik. This story is young in regard but keeps the historical heritage for the Korean film industry. On the screens, a story unfolds about two clowns who were at the court of the Emperor of the Joseon dynasty and were the favorites of the public.

It ends sadly, but only for those who see the key thread of the relationship between the emperor and the clowns. In short, the emperor decides to take over one of the clowns and gets very angry when his mercy was rejected. In more detail, the plot is still more exciting than the intrigue at the imperial court. Two street clowns escape their former masters and go on free travel and performances on the streets of Seoul. Here they meet other clowns and organize their theatrical performances in which they poke fun at the king’s power and his bureaucratic system of government. On one of the days of the performance, a royal adviser passed by. He orders to imprison a group of clowns. To which one of the clowns offers a deal: if they show their sketches to the king, and he laughs, they will be amnestied and not executed.



Inside the conflicts of the plot

The plot grew in a conflict far beyond from the beginning of the film. In total, its timeline is 2 hours. But you can start enjoying the story after the first part Just the main characters get to the court and the main action begins. In a pair of clowns, one of them was of extraordinary feminine beauty. So attractive that many men lost their heads to the young man. This is what distinguishes the boldness of the Korean filmmakers – their unconventional vision of the plot. One of the clowns could become the king’s lover, although the emperor himself believed so in the film. Even his wife was jealous of the clown and was involved in intrigues to eliminate the rival. But this is just one of the existing conflicts in the plot. The performance creates a triple picture of the relationship between the king and the clowns, the king with his court, the clowns among themselves, and the relationship between the king and the clowns what close this cycle again.

The king’s adviser uses the game of clowns for his purposes. As he will say later – `to show the king how bureaucratic his system of government is`. At the same moment, for the king himself, each performance ends with the fact that he orders the execution of someone from his entourage. The key plot twist will be the death of one of the clowns and the death of the king’s grandmother after the performances. Which shows the braveness of the director’s play with his characters.


Why should you watch dorama?

Bright costumes, historical fragments of imperial Korea. Besides, there are many factual entertainments and responses to the distant past of the state. After all, street theatres are a separate sphere of art in the life of any country. The interweaving of conflicts, both personal and mental, allows you to see characters in full color and complemented roles. That says only one thing – Korean cinema is self-sufficient and has always been distinguished by originality. After all, nothing adorns more, like originality and the courage to be itself.

Title photo: PHUOC LE on Unsplash

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