January 13, 2016

Lee Seo Jin to Star in Upcoming Drama - Poll

Lee Seo Jin fan? Me, too. Annoyed by “reality” TV? Me, too. For the likes of us, the year and a half since Wonderful Days wrapped up has been long and weary.

But rejoice, relief is in sight! LSJ has signed up for a new weekend drama on MBC. Many of LSJ’s most popular roles have been in MBC dramas (Hon, Damo, Yi San, & Gye Baek), along with some of his less known work.

MBC is really stepping up their outreach to English-speaking U.S. audiences these days – check out their MBC America page. Don’t miss the VOD tab, where you can view previous MBC series via embedded Hulu. Move over, KBS!

English home page for MBC AmericaHome page of
Kim Yu Jin, better known as UEE of the girl group After School, has been confirmed as oppa’s significantly younger leading lady. Hmm.

But she’s not just another pretty face. Acting was her original ambition before she took a detour into K-pop. She has appeared in a number of dramas, beginning with Queen Seonduk in 2009 (which was my intro to Kdrama and Korea), working her way up to leading roles, and receiving awards.

The new drama, with the working title of Hundred-Day Wife but now being referred to as Marriage Contract, is scheduled to start airing in Korea on Saturday & Sunday nights in late February. I’m psyched that it only has 20 episodes, which means more airtime for LSJ to do what he does best.

I’ll be watching on a local MBC broadcast station. Yes, I do know how lucky I am! But MBC has broadcast stations in several US markets, as well as availability through various broadband providers, so check their map before you hunker down to disconsolately wait for one of the streaming services to get it.

GirlFriday, my favorite bean, translates the description of Marriage Contract as “a warm, cheerful series” about a widowed single mom with a terminal illness. Only in Korea!

They won’t really kill off the leading lady at the end, of course. Or will they? You never can tell with Kdrama. Place your bets, people….

How will they save her?
November 9, 2014

KDrama Word of the Day: Kada (To Go)

Sign that show a figure walking가다 Kada (to go) is our KDrama Word of the Day today. 가다 is a very common verb. You can hear various forms of it in KDrama all the time. You also hear it constantly in Kpop.

가다 is not only widely used, it is simple and regular, so it’s an excellent verb to start with when you are learning Korean verb conjugations. Which is probably why it’s one of the first verbs taught in every Korean course I’ve ever seen.

Forms of 가다 you may have heard:

가자 Kaja – let’s go (informal)
가요 Kayo – going (present tense, polite)
가! Ka! – Go! (informal)
갈 Kal – verb stem in future tense forms of 가다
갔 Kat (sounds like cot, not cat) – past tense verb stem

Note the transformation on the past tense verb stem. ㅆ has an S sound at the beginning of a syllable, but is pronounced like a T when it comes at the end. Here is a chart of consonants that are pronounced differently depending on whether they are at the beginning or end of the syllable. Most of time, the past tense verb stem will not stand alone, but will be followed by a conjugation beginning with a vowel, which gives ㅆ back its S sound.

You may also notice that the chart gives the sound of ㄱ at the beginning of a syllable as somewhere between G and K. This is why you will sometimes see forms of 가다 Romanized with a G rather than a K, most notably in “gayo” (가요), a term for Korean pop music that includes more diverse styles than “KPop.” I am not certain gayo derives from the verb kada, but it seems a reasonable assumption, since there was an American pop genre known as “go-go” during the formative years of gayo.

Here are all the conjugations of 가자 on dongsa.net (동사), a Korean verb conjugation engine. There are other multilingual verb conjugators (such as Verbix), while dongsa.net is Korean only (dongsa 동사 means verb in Korean). I haven’t tested it, but I would think irregular verb conjugations would be more accurate on a Korean-originated conjugation engine.

Click on any form of kada on the 동사 page to see Romanized pronunciation, and the details of how that particular form was conjugated – very helpful if you are learning conjugations!

One more tip about 가다.
There are two different phrases Koreans say at parting, depending on who is leaving. They sound very similar, because they are very similar – only one syllable is different. The distinction between the two phrases is often explained in a really confusing way, but the trick is to keep in mind that it is not about what you are doing, but what the other person is doing.

Once you know that, all you need to do is remember which phrase you say to someone who is going rather than staying. That’s easy when you know 가다, since the one syllable that is different is 가. If someone is leaving (regardless of what you are doing), always use the form of goodbye with “ka” in it. Easy, right?

If you want to learn more about Korean goodbyes, check out this Talk to Me in Korean lesson. If you are learning Hangeul, I highly recommend looking at the pdf while you listen to the mp3. It’s a real leg up if you associate words with their Hangeul spelling (instead of Romanization) from the first time you hear them.

Want more KDrama Word of the Day posts?

Take me to the index page!

August 5, 2012

Immortal Songs 2 – Korean TV review

Immortal Songs is a KBS Saturday afternoon program (also aired on KBS World), which has existed in varying configurations with other Saturday programs for a number of years (according to Wikipedia). I don’t usually watch singing competitions, but this one has some features that strike me as distinctly Korean, and I find myself watching it most weekends.

The “Immortal” in Immortal Songs refers to a respected elder singer and/or songwriter who was widely known and dearly loved back in the day. A different senior guest is featured each week (“senior” in this context refers to professional status, not age). There is a rotating pool of current singing stars – each singer or group is featured on several consecutive shows. The singers/groups each select a song from the senior’s repertoire, and prepare their own interpretation of it, which may or may not include a change of genre, background singers and musicians, costumes, dancing, and/or dramatic staging effects.

Singer names are randomly drawn by an MC, who teases the live audience by describing the next performer before revealing who it is. After the performance, the next singer is selected – both singers receive feedback from the senior. Then the audience votes. They do not choose between singers – rather, they are asked to vote for each singer if the singer “moved” them, and the singer with the highest score proceeds to the next round. The prize is a trophy for the last singer left standing.

There are cameras in the back room where the singers await their turn. The camaraderie and interaction between the singers has been one of the most interesting features of Immortal Songs. Since they are on the program for several weeks at a time and are rotated out on individual cycles, they have multiple chances to go first or last, be matched against various other contestants, and receive a high or not so high score. Newer singers are advised by experienced veterans, singers who usually perform with a group get a chance to display other aspects of their talent, and everyone gets to experiment with new styles. Sometimes there are pre-performance interviews with individual singers, or pairs of competitors. The atmosphere is generally supportive despite the competition.

Identification with the group even in a competitive environment, and connection of current generation singers with their predecessors strike me as uniquely Korean twists on the singing contest format. Immortal Songs is also a painless education on Korean popular music over the past half century. Clips of the original interpretation of the song by the senior are shown before the performance for comparison. It’s fun to see what the younger singers come up with. As with many music programs, the lyrics (in Hangul) are flashed on a corner of the screen during the song, which is handy for students of Korean.

Some of the charm of Immortal Songs has been lost in the Immortal Songs 2 season that started in spring. It seems more staged in a number of ways. Entire singing groups are now participating, and an emcee and other guests have been added to the back room, creating quite a crowd. This renders the interaction a lot more superficial, and reduces the opportunity to get to know each participant. The sense of a bond building within the participant group over several programs has been lost. Also, the randomness of the selection process seems questionable (even the stars think so). I hope Korean viewers feel the same way, and will persuade KBS to return to the earlier, more intimate and more spontaneous format.

Guests singers on Immortal Songs 2 may be Kpop stars, or drama stars or emcees who also sing. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a lot of crossover between performance genres in the Korean entertainment industry. Because of this, drama fans, Kpop fans, and students of Korean culture will all find something of interest in Immortal Songs 2. Check it out!