Monday, August 15, 2011

Spy Myung-wol, a Drama Within a Drama

If you've been following Korean entertainment news in the last 24 hours, the biggest story to come out of it all is probably what I like to call Han Ye-seul vs Spy Myungwol. So, what's up with all the hullabaloo you ask?

Spy Myungwol is a drama currently airing in KBS starring Han Ye-seul and Eric Mun. From the get-go, it seems like HYS isn't really hand in hand with what the production team has in store. Starting in the beginning, she demands the shooting schedule to work around her own schedule, including shooting only 5 days a week. Even with such demands, she still came on set late. Oh, how we all hate those late people. The biggest problem is that she's a main lead, which means she's in almost every scene. With limited time to shoot plus tardiness, things weren't going as smooth as silk.

The problem escalated on 14th August, when HYS didn't show up at all. I'm sure we've all had those lazy days where we skipped class or work just for the sake of it. But considering her history of tardiness, I don't think this is even okay. The worst thing about this situation is that there are probably 20-30 people, maybe even more, just waiting on her. Co-star Eric Mun reportedly waited 16 hours, and constantly on standby. This means he doesn't get to sleep or do any other activity in peace not knowing when he will be called on set. This is just only one example of what her actions have caused to others. We don't even know what the others, cast and crew alike, are feeling because it's not reported.

We can't fully blame HYS either because apparently the entertainment system is blistered from the start. You see, in Korea, most dramas are shot live per week. This is different compared to, say, Hollywood TV series when they can halt the airing of shows for a few weeks in order to film episodes. In Korea, filming of a mini series (16-20 episodes) usually starts filming 1-2 months prior with roughly half and maybe less episodes in the bank. The rest of the episodes are usually shot live. This means one episode only gets about one week time to shoot and edit. This is definitely far from the most perfect filming system, with many dramas just barely made it to air time, even some that is edited literally live. With such a harsh work setting, it's not uncommon for its stars to fall sick, collapse, or get in accidents.

I can see why HYS would feel uncomfortable in such working environment. You literally put your body in jeopardy for your work, and they're not even doing a lot of action stunts. The problem is that it seems like the people working in this industry, stars and crew alike, are keeping mum about their disappointments for many years now. The only reason that I can think of is so that viewers enjoy these dramas more. Basically they're saying viewer's ratings are more important than the health of their employees. It's a sad situation but that's really what's going on over there.

But even with those reasons of her leaving, why now? Why this way? Why does she have to suddenly disappear, even out of reach of her own people? I think there's definitely a healthier way of voicing out your thoughts and complaints than just leaving all of the sudden. Leaving this way just makes it seem like she's putting too much of her personal preference above everyone else's. I'm okay with her against the whole system, but having years of experience that she has, wouldn't she know better?

At the end of the day, this is a really complicated mess that I can only observe from my tiny peephole. The industry is a mess already, so I give props to HYS for trying to go against it. But please, you're 20? 30? years old. It's already time to stop your tantrums and act like a real adult. My thoughts are one of many, so here are two other thoughts, in dramabeans and seoulbeats, you might want to read to add more perspective.

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