Choi Jin Shil Is Newsmaker of the Year for 2008

Choi Jin Shil’s suicide has been voted by Korean netizens as the biggest news to have happened in the Korean entertainment world this year.

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“On Air” Celebrates Drama Success with Sports Meet

Following the success of SBS “On Air” which ended its broadcast just last week, all production staff and cast got together on 16th May at a stadium in Gyeonggi-do for a sports meet to replace the traditional celebratory dinner as they had a relay race, soccer game and generally lots of fun!

The good consistent ratings saw reason for them to hold a big celebration as main leads like Kim Ha Neul, Park Yong Ha, Song Yun Ah together with supporting cast, Han Ye Won, Lee Hyung Chul, etc plus hundreds of production staff got together for an “On Air” sports meet. They took the idea from “Ticket to the Moon” in the drama. Although Kim Ha Neul was a primma-donna in the drama, she is actually the total opposite in real life as she kept on cheering for her team and even participated in the relay race which got her perspiring.

Park Yong Ha was also having a great time and shouted when he scored a goal. On the contrary, his “girlfriend” in the drama Song Yun Ah was having coordination problems kicking the ball but praised for her effort. Lee Hyung Chul showed his ball juggling skills, winning applause for it.

After having worked together for the past six months, Park Yong Ha prepared his self-penned messages and cups as presents for all. Han Ye Won meanwhile compiled photos taken during the drama filming into an album for distribution.

“On Air” will be shown in Japan at the end of July and Park Yong Ha will make a trip on 12th June to promote it. On another hand, during a SBS program shown yesterday, Kim Ha Neul revealed that she suffered depression a year ago.

“On Air” Draws Comparisons with Reality #2

There are really many scenes in “On Air” that mirrors reality and this is an update to the article I blogged about earlier following the drama conclusion.

On Air

Good and critically acclaimed drama but low ratings
This was evident in the case of “Ticket to the Moon” which was an excellent drama storywise and a particularly challenging role for lead actress Oh Seung Ah. But it achieved poor ratings as another big budget drama starring Ha Ji Won (they just made this up) was in the same timeslot. This has been played out many time in reality as the drama scheduling plays a big part in the drama success, ratings wise. Just look at “Spotlight” which debuted in the final week of “On Air” and suffered single digit ratings. They have to face “Iljimae” next week and is almost facing the same fate as “Ticket to the Moon”.

Sex Tape Scandal
High school student, Oh Seung Ah comes to SW Entertainment and in her 1-on-1 audition, Jin Sang Woo asks her to strip for the camera. She however couldn’t overcome this and decides to abort her attempt. Another management agency boss chances upon this but didn’t finish viewing the whole tape and thus thought otherwise. He threatens Jang Ki Joon and later leaks the news to the media, causing a great deal of distress to Seung Ah.

There are many instances of this in the entertainment industry where management agencies uses these “tapes” to control their artistes, for money or revenge. Regardless of whether it’s real or fake, most often, these scandals will result in artistes suffering a great deal of distress, having to step out of the limelight temporarily and hope that it dies off eventually.

Many felt that Oh Seung Ah’s case was hinting at artistes like IVY (2008), Kwon Sang Woo (2006), Lee Tae Ran (2005) and Baek Ji Young (2001).

Female Stars Commiting Suicide
Yang So Eun (Min Seo Hyun) was once a top star who only wanted to lead a normal life which her manager Jin Sang Woo agrees. But he doesn’t realise that So Eun actually wanted to be together with Sang Woo himself. On So Eun’s birthday, she comes looking for him but he treats her coldly. He was only keeping his love for her under wraps and because he doesn’t explain it clearly, So Eun finds herself feeling miserable and eventually ends her life.

There has been many cases in recent years where female artistes end their young lives in the prime of their careers. Was it because of depression (Lee Eun Joo)? Anti-fans (U:Nee)? Too much pressure (Jung Da Bin)? Well, no one knows and it would probably remain a mystery to us forever.

Unglamourous Side of the Entertainment Industry
There are many materialistic people and greedy management companies. To get ahead fast or bag that leading role, female stars will throw themselves at rich businessmen, high ranking officials. And if that fails, management agencies would resort to bribery which explains the large amount of money that management and production companies always have at the tip of their fingers.

Jin Sang Woo pours money into the production so that Cherry bags the leading role and resorts to underhand methods to ensure it stays that way. Yang So Eun (who eventually dies) and Oh Seung Ah had been forced to dine with businessmen and go to bed with them even. Things like this do happen.

Conflict between TV stations and management companies
SW Entertainment Chairman Jin Sang Woo threatens to pull Cherry out of the drama if the script isn’t changed to give her more exposure. SBC doesn’t compromise and decides to cut off all ties with SW Entertainment, rejecting their artistes on their shows and not allowing them into the tv station.

TV stations and management agencies have a love-hate relationship in that they rely on each other to serve their promotion aims. Just last November, Super Junior was caught in a fix with Kangin having to choose from MBC or SBS programs to appear on. He had only recently appeared on SBS and had been on MBC programs for a longer period. SM Entertanment decided on SBS which angered MBC (they felt betrayed) and wanted an apology which didn’t arrive.

This resulted in MBC issuing a “restriction” on SM artistes like Super Junior and So Nyeo Shi Dae and they were absent for most of MBC’s year-end programs. The issue was only solved after SM Entertainment arranged a meeting with MBC with things back to normal now.

There might be others that I overlooked so if you know any, leave a comment.

Can’t believe this is over!!! Wed/Thurs will never be the same again!

On Air Goes Offline with Happy Ending + Review

SBS “On Air” ended its run on 15th May as Oh Seung Ah/Lee Bum Soo and Seo Young Eun/Lee Kyung Min couples all ended happily together with each other, delighting all viewers who had been wishing for that to happen. The final episode rating also reached 25.8% surpassing its previous record once again.

On Air

We were left at the start with our two couples facing issues, Jang Ki Joon (Lee Bum Soo) leaving Korea without saying a word leaving Seung Ah (Kim Ha Neul) behind not knowing his whereabouts. Seo Young Eun was facing issues too as Lee Kyung Min and his mother realises the links between them.

Jang Ki Joon had actually went to America as he admitted on his return to Seung Ah that he was laying the foundation for her to enter the US market by going to many management agencies over there. He asks Seung Ah if she is willing to go back to America with him, “You have to start from square one once you are in America, there’s also the possibility you might not go to Cannes and you might also be living with a penniless guy like me for the rest of your life, are you still willing to go with me?” Oh Seung Ah of course said yes to that and they held hands in view of the media as they make their departure from the airport. Young Eun thought so too as they hug to close out the final scene.

Seo Young Eun (Song Yun Ah) and Lee Kyung Min (Park Yong Ha) was at a lush green field after having just seen Ki Joon and Seung Ah off at the airport. Kyung Min starts irritaing Young Eun as she leaves in a huff but it was just a ploy. Kyung Min holds her hand as she struggles initially but stops sudddenly. Kyung Min releases his hand as we realise that she had a ring on her hand, it was a proposal! He started saying, “The only beautiful line in my whole life till death is Seo Young Eun.” This moving scene touched viewers as Young Eun thought so too as they hugged to close out the scene and drama.

Came into this show with minimal expectations and just slightly attracted by the plot, big budget and the initial star cameos. Sure it was unbearable intially because of the SHOUTING which dominated the earlier episodes. They even shout while talking. But I am glad I stayed on for the show as I was treated to an excellent behind the scenes of how the entertainment industry operate (some was over the top) focusing on drama production.

All Well Ends Well

Superb acting from the four main leads, Kim Ha Neul was excellent playing the top star and the mentally-challenged Eun Young, Seo Young Eun for all her chidlish behavior, she is actually pretty adorable in a way and good emotional range. Park Yong Ha was excellent as the sentimental director while Lee Bum Soo the unassuming happy go lucky manager. The rest of the cast were also excellent and I wish I had space to accomodate their names.

Great soundtrack too, especially the tracks by Song Yun Ah, Park Yong Ha and Han Ye Won, instrumentals complemented the show very well. And the star cameos too. The flashbacks technique. My drama of the year thus far.

Son Ye Jin fails to draw viewers as Spotlight ratings declines

SBS “On Air” has been consistently churning out high ratings and set a new high rating of 25.8% for it’s final episode last night. On the other hand, MBC “Spotlight” starring Son Ye Jin continued it’s ratings decline, achieving just 6.7%.

Son Ye Jin in Spotlight

“Spotlight” is MBC newest and hugely supported project and is kind of similar to SBS “On Air” as it uses the tv station as the backdrop. But in contrast to “On Air” which is based on the life of stars, directors, screenwriters and managers, “Spotlight” focuses on the jobs of reporters. MBC is trying to draw on the popularity enjoyed by “On Air” in the past two months to catch a slice of the pie.

Unfortunately, the poor rating of only 8.8% in the debut episode followed by 6.7% last night showed that it wasn’t a successful opening for them. It can be attributed that “On Air” was showing it’s final episodes this week.

Son Ye Jin had been very excited about her reporter role and had minimal make-up for most scenes to mirror reality. But despite that and having to rush all over the place (tiring) to gather news, the viewers aren’t buying into it.

Following the conclusion of “On Air”, “Spotlight” will have to up it’s game for they will face up against “Iljimae” starring Lee Jun Ki next.