...for they combine the fun of language-learning with the production values and familiar down home appeal of cable access television. Seriously, NHK pulled out all the stops for these shows - the Korean program features elaborate bluescreened sets, CGI characters, animations, cameos by famous idols - and then did its best to make it look like the show is directed and produced by juniors in the Burris IHETs lab. Perhaps it's being done intentionally to distract people's attention from all that lovely, lovely grammar, which I'm told usually just intimidates:Garden Variety Viewer:
Ladida, time to check out this week's lesson in the textbook. Imperative sentences? Particles? Verb conjugations? What the hell is going on he---NHK Program:
Look over there! Famous Heartthrob Idol Man just missed his mark and flubbed his lines! Again! Can you believe these guys are highly paid professionals? Ha hah!Garden Variety Viewer:
All is right with the world.
Both the Korean and Chinese programs feature 'mini dorama' to help engage viewers' interest during their quest toward fluency in basic greetings. The Chinese dorama is actually pretty kooky - the actors are complete hams but they know and revel in it.
The Korean dorama, on the other hand, is something else. There's been a Korean pop culture boom here in Japan over the last year or so; Japanese women are glued Korean dorama on the TV and it's become noticeable enough that there's a not unimpressive group of Japanophiles in the West who download said dorama and watch them subbed. I've always felt that I should try watching one and seeing what the fuss was about - if nothing else, it'd be a good way to increase listening comprehension.
Unlike its Chinese counterpart, I think the NHK Korean mini dorama is actually trying for a bona fide Korean dorama feel. And whoo nelly, is it ever stinky. The first 'episode' aired in yesterday's program. Our lead character is Maki, a headstrong and spunky Japanese foreign exchange student who, although she doesn't know it yet herself, has come to Seoul to realise her dream of snaring a Korean Casanova of her very own, just like she's seen in all the Korean dorama back home! Wouldn't that be romantic? But oh noes, what if her independent streak gets in the way of true love!? Don't worry, the text assures us, she's not too
spunky and headstrong (that just wouldn't be very feminine, would it?), and what she really wants is for someone to take her under his wing and tame her. Egads.
I know these things are guilty pleasures for most of the people who watch them, but it makes me feel kinda...uncomfortable, because I've always prided myself on having guiltier
guilty pleasures. The standard soap opera stuff just leaves me cold. Pop culture love stories (unless they feature something interesting like H/C or amputation or underwater demons) tend to make me cringe.
And to add insult to injury: Ryu. For those of you who don't know who 'Ryu' is, well, consider yourselves lucky.
I had no idea who 'Ryu' was either, aside from the fact that he was 'Ryu,' and he was lined up to appear as a regular. Of course, the constant trumpeting of the fact that 'Ryu' was cast in the program to begin with led me to believe that he was likely Important to pop culture fans. My suspicions were confirmed in the first episode two weeks ago, when 'Ryu' first walked onto the soundstage. 'Ryu' is one of these people whose handlers create to scream SEX APPEAL, but without any real edge or distinguishing personality characteristic that might turn off potential female fans.
So, you know, plastic.
Then 'Ryu' opened his mouth, and I felt ... odd. Like I should
know who this guy was, but that would be highly likely, because I don't pay attention to the Japanese idol scene at all.
I figured it out yesterday. 'Ryu' is the person responsible for the theme song to Fuyu no Sonata, which was a huge Korean crossover dorama here last year. This means that 'Ryu' is the reason I didn't learn anything of value in my Korean lessons, because we spent six out of the eight months of lessons
learning how to sing 'My Memory,' the aforementioned theme song. By ear. Transliterated from Korean into katakana Japanese, so we weren't even learning the true pronunciations. And I paid for privelege to have this experience. Anyway, all good (or otherwise) things must come to an end, class wound up, and I washed my hands of 'Ryu.'
And now he's come right back into my life.
For those of you intrepid enough to want a further taste of the 'I'm Sexy ButomgdontworrySO
way!' Ryu experience, my text informs me that you can get it here.
That will be all.