Saturday, August 20, 2011

To the Global CG Market!

Korean movies are receiving attention these days. It is obvious to notice the difference from the viewpoints toward Korean movies by recent Korean actors’ entrances into Hollywood movies and higher international status of Korean movie directors than before. Recently, Korean movies are distinguishing themselves in another area, the area of Computer Graphic inside the movies.

The Centre of Asian Movies, Now Dreaming of the Best in Technology

<“Korean Movie Centre” booth run by the Korean Film Commission at Hong Kong Film Market> (Photo: mydaily)

Korean movies are not only acknowledged in Asia, but also at the World Film Festival. Korean movie industries are showing an advanced Korean CG technology off to the world by using CG not only in Korean movies, but also in Chinese films, successfully.
Ministry of culture and Korea Creative Content Agency supported the business meeting among Korean CG enterprises and Chinese movie-makers by participating in ‘Hong Kong Film Market 2011’, which took place for four days starting from March 21. ‘Hong Kong Film Market’ is the representative Asian contents market, which prospered with a participation of 548 enterprises, and about 4950 people in 2010. At this year’s Hong Kong Film Market, seven corporations took part in this event from a variety of areas in movie industries from animation production enterprises to the leading VFX (Visual Effects) company in the country.
Chinese movie industry is growing rapidly with a solid base of capital and manpower enough to make approximately 500 movies in 2010. By the number of film productions, the number China has is the third biggest scale after America and India. Due to a lot of recent contracts with Korean domestic enterprises and elements of CG production in historical dramas, action movies and etc, Chinese movie industry came into the spotlight as a new promising market.

<A Scene in Chinese movie ‘Detective Dee’ made by Koran CG technology> (Photo: Maxnews)

Korea has taken charge of CG production of ‘Detective Dee’ and ‘The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate Originally’ by director Seo Geuk including ‘A Chinese Ghost Story’ and etc. Especially, the movie ‘Detective Dee’ attracted attention due to the combination of director Seo Geuk and Korean CG technology and it got an eval!uation that it pictured the Tang dynasty, the era when it was most culturally diverse, in the movie so perfectly that it made the scene more beautiful.

The Power of CG technology

At this event, Korea Creative Content Agency preliaised movie professionals in Asia with Chinese movie-makers and directors participating in ‘Hong Kong Film Market’ as the central figure and arranged a business meeting with domestic CG enterprises. Through this meeting, domestic CG enterprises already obtained good results such as a consultation of CG production regarding director Seo Geuk’s next movie, and obtaining contracts in CG production of ‘Convert Magic’, the next movie of director Wilson Yip who directed IP Man, Flash Point and etc.
Also, it became an opportunity to let the world know the power of technology that domestic enterprises have due to a high interest of Western movie professionals such as movie-makers from all over the world including Australia requesting a meeting in advance.

<Participating in AFM (American Film Market), there was an opportunity for domestic CG production companies to meet with Hollywood movie professionals> (Photo: Heraldbiz)

Kim Jiin-gyu, the director of the headquarters of Korea Creative Content Agency, who held this event said that Korea Creative Content Agency obtained good results of about two hundred million dollars by winning a contract of ‘The Last Knight of Ako’, a Hollywood cinematic masterpiece by taking part in AFM 2010” and “the Agency will arrange a variety of set of measures to provide support to practically help domestic companies making inroads into not only Hollywood but also Chinese market.”
Frankie Cheung, the supervisor of VFX who participated in lots of works of Zhou Xingchi, a director and actor said that the working experience with a Korean company was very impressive and that Korea has the best technology in Asia and the talents people have are excellent.
Korea is standing out in global market with excellent technical skills and original ideas. It seems like it won’t take long for world-wide movie fans to enjoy better movies with a high level of CG production technology, which Korea has.

Ready Action! Find the spots of Dramas in Jeju

Due to the beautiful scenery and 1000 different faces, Jeju Island has been chosen as a background of advertisements, movies, and dramas. There is a saying that if the drama is filmed in Jeju Island, it will definitely succeed, because the scenery has a huge impact itself. Due to the success of dramas, more and more tourists are naturally coming to see Jeju Island. Drama makers choose Jeju Island as the best location for filming because of its picture-like and exotic scenery. Let’s get out of the small drama sets, and take a look at the filming locations in Jeju.

Rediscovered by <My name is Kim Sam-sun>, Sungsan Ilchul peak

“My name is Kim Sam-sun”, which was broadcast on MBC in 2005, produced a lot of great scenes and famous quotations with the best viewer ratings of 50.5% of the year. One of the great scenes was when “Hee Jin” (Jung Ryu Won) and “Henry” (Daniel Henny) climbed up the mountain and talked, looking down the scenery of Jeju. The wide meadow and the transparent ocean not only helped the scenery look more beautiful and dramatic but also attracted lots of tourists to the place even after the drama ended. Then, where is the location that made the drama stood out? 

<Sungsan Ilchul peak, which was designated as the 420th Natural Monument
as well as the filming place of “My name is Kim Sam-sun” >
(Photo: Hani news)

World Natural Heritage, Sungsan Ilchul peak which was designated as one of the eight best attractions in Korea is the spot of the drama. Sungsan Ilchul peak has been chosen as the best attraction among others with its unique history, culture and nature by the Ministry of Culture and was recognized the possibility of development. To be selected as one of the best places, it should be recommended by many people, and pass a peculiar judging procedure such as documentary review, online vote, and in-situ survey. How could Sungsan Ilchul peak proudly be acknowledged?
Sungsan Ilchul peak, which is considered the first among ten sceneries of Jeju, has beautiful scenery . When you go up along the western steep ridge, on the top, there is a wide crater, which looks like the ocean has been moved to Baengnokdam at the top of Mt. Halla. Sungsan Ilchul peak, which is now at an elevation of 182m, is a rare volcanic edifice that was exploded under water among other craters. Due to the explosion caused when lava was mixed with water, lava was broken down into fine volcanic ash and was piled up around the circumference of the crater like a shape of cone. Originally, it was a volcanic island, however, a pile of sand and gravel connected the space between the island and the land side of Shinyang beach. At the top of Ilchul peak, there is a crater with a diameter of 600m, an elevation of 90m as the height of ground floor and the area of approximately 80,000pyeong. This place was used as a farm, but now it is a field of tall wild grass where Woodo can be seen with human eyes.
Even a long time ago, the sunrise view from the top of Sungsan Ilchul peak has been the best among ten places with good sceneries in Jeju. The sunrise above a horizontal line beyond the surging blue ocean dyes the whole ocean, catches people’s heart and makes them admire it. It was designated as a regional monument until July 19, 2000 when it was designated as a natural monument. It is now a treasure of Jeju, which attracts more and more tourists and gives more inspiration than the drama itself.

Attractive Scenery of <Tamnaneundoda>, Woodo

<Tamnaneundoda> is a fantasy tale of what happened in Chosun Dynasty in a mysterious Jeju island It handles the 21st century style of communication happening in 17th century, which exceeds the wall of civilization, race, social status, and sex. Through the travel by different young men and women from different places, the drama gave the viewers an opportunity to think of their past where fantasy was real to them.
Another main character of <Tamnaneundoda> is the scenery of Jeju which was shown as a background on drama. It was because the extensive land, high sky, transparent cloud and ocean, and ocean breeze that tickles our nose made a good combination of nice scenery, and they made viewers unable to stop looking at it. Even though the drama ended, <Tamnaneundoda> is still remained in our heart as attractive one. One of the most representative filming locations in Jeju was a peaceful island, Woodo, which looks like a cow which lies across the east side of the ocean.

<The Scenery of Woodo stands out more than the main characters of <Tamnaneundoda>
(Photo: hankook Ilbo)

Even though the look of the rough and strong female divers of Jeju is interesting, Woodo is certainly the best. Even though the size of the island is small, across the shore, green ocean and black stone walls along the road, a mysterious land with beautiful sandy beach and beach scarps stretch out continuously. You can frequently hear the diving sound of female divers, and it makes sense because Woodo is called as ‘the homeland of female divers’.
There are the eight representative sceneries of Woodo: Day and Night (A full moon in day time, the light of fishing ship during the night time), Sky and Land (the look of Mt. Halla from East Cheonghindong Hang, Sand of Jeedu), Front and Back (Woodo’s front and back scenery), East and West (Cave and Cliff). Additionally, Woodo, the place where the movies <A Love Story>, <Mermaid Princess> were filmed, is a representative tourist attraction with Mt. Halla due to the impressive scenery of lyrical Jeju Island, the mood of cozy green meadow and white sandy beach touching Jeju’s blue ocean.
The place you shouldn’t miss in Woodo travel is Woodo peak. It has marvelous scenery where you can see the whole picture-like view at once. Also, the coral sand ocean in Woodo is a place where you can capture one of the best sceneries. Red algae makes the ocean shine in beach color with exotic mood, providing fascinating view.

Famous Location in <All In>, Subjicoji;

The drama that Lee Byung-Hun and Song Hye-Gyo, two world stars representing Korea, played the main characters was filmed near Subjicoji. After the drama, this place became well-known as the location of the drama, which resulted in lots of tourists coming by. Even after the drama ended, the set was still remained, which got tourists’ attentions. Also “All In” house was built to remember the drama. When spring comes, Subjicoji, sticking out from the east coast of Jeju, shows the great ocean view with the background of Sungsan Ilchool peak with yellow rape flowers.

<“All In” house, the first drama museum restored at Subjicoji> (Photo: the Korea Tourist Service, Inc.)

Shinyang sandy beach at the entrance, the field of rape flowers covered over the meadow at the edge of a hill, ponies eating grass peacefully, beach scarps and legendary Zen rocks are typically wonderful places you can find in Jeju. Especially the shore is made of red volcanic ash called “Songyi”, which is different from other shores in Jeju. Also, fantastic rocks and stones, which disappear and appear according to the flow and the tide are not able to be seen anywhere.

Jeju Folk Village Museum, the background of Oh-Na-Ra, Oh-Na-Ra
<Dae Jang Geum>

Dae Jang Geum, a drama, which was the most popular not only in Korea but also in the entire Asia, is actually a historical drama of Chosun Dyanasty, which a famous actress, Young-Aeh Lee stars. It is so famous that even though the drama ended a long time ago, people still talk about it. Jeju Folk Village Museum, the entire background of Dae Jang Geum, left a town of old thatched- roof houses, which is perfect to film a historical drama.

<Jeju Folk Village Museum is now used as a background in many historical dramas than in Dae Jang Geum> (Photo: the Korea Tourist Service, Inc.)

Jeju Folk Village Museum generally exhibits the organized collection of folk materials, traditionally from Jeju Island starting from 1890s, the end of the Chosun Dynasty. Especially, more than 100 traditional houses are not decorated just similarly, but were restored almost perfectly even from the tiny parts of the house where people lived before including stones and pillars. In this traditional house, there are about 8000 pieces of folk material including household items, farming equipments, fishing equipments, furniture, stone figures placed in front of a tomb and etc. It is a place where the traditional culture of Jeju is preserved, where we can see our flowers and trees at once and where we can compare the differences and similarities with World heritages. Lots of tourists who visit Jeju don’t miss this place and feel the scent of Chosun dynasty.

Wouldn’t it be much greater if you can not only enjoy the interesting drama story, but also the beauty of Jeju Island? If you are inspired by the role of Jeju as a catalyst providing dramas more fun and sceneries, why don’t you actually visit Jeju in person and be the main character of your own drama?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Korean El Sistema, Sejong Youth Harmony Orchestra

Do you know about “El Sistema”? “El Sistema”, originally meaning “a system” in Spanish, is now widely used as a name of a free musical education program for poor children in Venezuela.

El Sistema, organized in 1975 by Jose Antonio Abreu, an economist, was started as an orchestra with 11 poor children in Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela. Now, it has grown up to become a large-scale organization with 260,000 people in about 190 centers in Venezuela. The excellence of this program has been recognized in whole world since it turned out that many of great musicians such as Gustavo Adolfo Dudamel Ramírez, the permanent conductor of LA Philharmonic, and Edicson Ruiz, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s double bass player were from this orchestra.

<Venezuela’s Orchestra Born out of the El Sistema Program> (Photo: AsiaToday)

Among all the positive outcomes, the best one was that it acknowledged poor children that they have responsibility as a society member, and gave them hope and dream about their future, preventing crime by teaching music to those children exposed in danger such as drug, violence, and weapons. With this result, El Sistema is now settled as a global musical education system for preschoolers and teenagers.

Even in Korea, more and more people are interested in the system of El Sistema. There is a band, which dreams of becoming Korean “El Sistema”. Sejong Youth Harmony Orchestra. It consists of 100% young students. They haven’t even touched the musical instruments before entering this orchestra, but now each of them plays very well. What changed them like this? Let’s have a look.

Hopeful Harmony Created by Small Hands

‘Sejong Youth Harmony Orchestra’ was made to provide opportunities to make the hopes and dreams come true for the neglected class of children and teenagers by giving them musical education and helping them find their talent. By running the show as one of the activities of “Hope-Sharing” project in Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, this orchestra is receiving attention as a model of Korean “El Sistema”.

This orchestra chose its members among students who are learning instruments at Seoul Metropolitan Area Children’s Center, community centers, study rooms and many other places by the open call auditions or the recommendations from these groups. On September 10th, 2010, the orchestra had the welcoming ceremony and stepped their first feet. The targets are the children who are interested in music, and aged between 4th and 8th grade. 

<’Sejong Youth Harmony Orchestra’, dreaming of Korean “El Sistema”>
(Source: MoonhwaJournal21)

These children receive lessons from the members of Eurasian Philharmonic or SeoulPhil every Wednesday. Even though it was hard to gather young children from elementary to middle school at the first time, now it is hard to find the absence. As a first step, they have opportunities to learn the instruments they are interested in. However, if they lose interest in the instruments and music, teachers change the instruments to keep their interests alive. Also, the members of ‘Sejong Naneum Ensemble’ chose to become mentors for these children and volunteer to teach them.

‘Sejong Youth Harmony Orchestra’ had their first concert as a guest appearance at the concert of ‘Sejong Naneum Ensemble’ on December 25th, 2010. Then, they had a successful inauguration concert with ‘Rafael Chorus’, the blind choir at Sejong Chamber Hall on May 7th. Starting from this concert, ‘Sejong Youth Harmony Orchestra’ is planning to have variety of activities to share culture and arts at Free Musical Concerts for the citizens or those in neglected class like themselves.

Dream and Hope to Isolated Children

‘Sejong Youth Harmony Orchestra’ is screaming of joy these days due to a lot of help from people interested in this project. Even though this orchestra has started for less than a year, and even they didn’t learn music professionally, these students with passion and hope have reliable supporters. Domestic musical instrument companies decided to provide instruments used in the orchestra for free, and the maintenance management of these instruments are held by Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. Additionally, except for four coaches who majored in music and teach the children, all people are volunteers.

There was a pleasant guest last January. Mark Churchill, the director of USA El Sistema, and Nicholas Real, a flute player grown thanks to the program of “El Sistema”, visited these children and shared their experiences and hope.

After the inauguration concert, H group decided to support ‘Sejong Youth Harmony Orchestra’ and made it public that they had an informal cooperation Cultural Divide at Sejong Arts Academy in Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. As a support, H group donated personal instruments to each member of “Sejong Youth Harmony Orchestra” and provided a uniform for each member in the orchestra. Additionally, the group is planning to support these children with management of the program by providing volunteers for one-to-one music lesson for each orchestra member. 

<More and More People are giving Hands to the Children Dreaming of ‘Korean El Sistema’>
(Source: MoneyToday)

When people asked about how the orchestra will be managed, Sejong Center for the Performing Arts addressed that “To open the door wide for children in neglected class, we are planning to replace all members every two years. Also, we are not planning to receive any participation fee”. Even though they are not “professional”, the dreams of these passionate children, wanting to become the best musician in the world in the future are growing as time goes by.

To Settle the System of ‘Korean El Sistema’

Ministry of culture and Korea culture and Arts Education Agency are pushing ahead with an orchestra program starting from 8 parts of South Korea with the name of “Dream Orchestra”. Cheong Myeong-Hoon, the conductor, Cheong Myeong-Hwa, the cellist, Chang Han-Na, the cellist and conductor, Paek Joo-Young, the violinist and more musicians are taking part in this program and planning to be the mentors for the children. El Sistema is receiving attention in Korean educational world as an aid project to reduce the cultural gap of multicultural families and low-income children.

However, the most important part of this project is durability. Since this project started, it gained a lot of attention and supports. However, if the support decreases as time goes by, it means that the project might come to an end. The company official who made it official to support ‘Sejong Youth Orchestra’ said at the interview that it is true that the support for the culturally underprivileged was limited to providing the opportunity to see the concert. And the official showed the reason why the company decided to support the project by referring to the necessity of the support for the culturally underprivileged.  

<Korean El Sistema is now at the starting point.> (Source: Yonhap News)

Also, the truth that in the reality where a serious concern of sustainable culture sharing and the active participation of the beneficiaries is necessary, ‘Sejong Youth harmony Orchestra’ can be a solution, means that it includes a concern regarding the durability and the outcome of the program of Korean El Sistema. Even though there is a bright future of El Sistema by continuous activities, it seems like it has a long way to go to successfully settle this program with children.

If we consider the time and effort given to make this system settle down at Venezuela, this kind of movement should not be considered as a short-term project, but has to be able to provide an environment for low-income children and multi-cultural families to grow up through music. We sincerely hope that through Korean “El Sistema” program like ‘Sejong Youth Harmony Orchestra’, those children who have a stereotype that music costs a lot of money, can have a chance to enjoy the music and find the possibility and their talents.

When Samulnori Meets Digital

Samulnori, which was created from Korean traditional music, Pungmul, is one of the most beloved genres of music among many Koreans and considered to harmonize the East and West and Old and New. It is one of the most dynamic music in the world and makes us thrilled with powerful sound and dynamics. Now shall we learn about Samulnori?

Sound of Korean, Samulnori is trying to be changed

Samulnori makes everyone’s heart beat faster with only four musical instruments. Kkwaengguari(small gong) symbolizes thunder, Janggutraditional double-headed drum) symbolizes rain, Buk(drum) symbolizes cloud, andJing(gong) symbolizes wind.

<Exciting Performance of Samulnori> (Source: Seoul Shinmun)

The elaborate construction of rhythm and dramatic musical performance make Samulnori more exhilarated. Samulnori is now trying to be changed from the boring image of the past. It creates fusion music with various genres of music and inspires the new performance like Nanta.

Kim Duk-Soo with His Friends Touching all over the World 

Samulnori is a compound word of 'Samul-percussion instruments' and 'Nori-play'. Samul refers to KkwaengguariJing, Janggu and Buk. Now, we have many Samulnori performance teams, however, Samulnori was first created in 1978 by Kim Deok-Soo with His Friends- Kim Deok-Soo, Lee Kwang-Soo, Choi Jong-Sil, and Kim Yong-Bae, who started playing music since they were little. Later, they grew up as very talented performers. Kim Yong-Bae who studied at Korean Traditional Music high school is the one who contributed a lot to the first step of Samulnori.

That’s why Kim Deok-Soo and His Friends comes to our minds when speaking Samulnori. Well, they attended the World Contest of Percussion Instrument Players in 1982, World Drum Festival in Vancouver, Canada in 1984, and held a celebrating performance for the Olympic Torch in Seoul Olympics in 1988. Kim Deok-Soo and His Friends enhanced the national prestige by performing Samulnori in Japan, U.S. and so on. Last year they performed ‘Digilogue Samulnori-Blooming the Dead Tree’ scripted by Lee O-Young, the former minister of the ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Sport.

<Performance of ’ Digilogue Samulnori-Blooming the Dead Tree’> (Source: Hankook Ilbo)

They performed Digilogue Samulnori with four musical instruments. These four instruments symbolize the four directions- East, West, North and South and four seasons- Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. It shows us how deserted real world blooms, returning to Winter and again sprouts. It mixed digital and analogue, online and offline and put into one performance. They combined virtual reality and real world together and adopted four- dimensional (4D) technology, which became a turning point that traditional Korean performance can be universal. As seen the possibility of digital-Samulnori performance, Samulnori proved its rhythm compatible with any kind of genre, such as Jazz and Blues as well.

In addition, Kim Deok-Soo dramatized Arirang (Korean traditional folk music) that we can look into the past and future of Korea. It is composed of 7 chapters and played with Samulnori instruments, traditional musical instruments including Kayageum, Haegeum and so on. They also used western instruments like violin, piano and saxophone. It shocking because they mixed music instruments from Asia and the West and dramatized traditional music. It contributed a lot for Arirang becomes worldwide music.

Samulnori Tempted World with Rhythm
There are a few percussion instrument groups in Korea excluding Kim Deok-Soo and His Friends. 'Noreummachi' is one of them. It is a compound word of ' Noreum-play' and 'Machim-finish'. Noreummachi is a fusion music group that mixes Samulnori and rap music. Noreummachi had their first concert abroad last year. Kim Deok-Soo tried hard to introduce Samulnori to the world but Noreummachi tried to popularize Samulnori. Noreummachi will have concerts in four European countries until Aug 25th this year.

<Noreummachi Performing in Overseas>(Source : Maeil Business Newspaper)

Other fusion group called 'Deulsori' will have concerts in Italy, U.S. and South America from this August.Sebastian Wang is a Korean-American and he was born and grew up in the U.S. He was captivated by Samulnori and tried to popularize Samulnori in the world. He hopes Samulnori become the national brand of Korea like Samsung, LG and Taekwondo.

Let's Enjoy Samulnori
Samulnori has become popular in Korea. There is an application we can play Samulnori in the smart phone. Intangible cultural treasure students record all rhythms they play with Samul and computer musician transforms it into digital and put them in the application. It is very easy to improvise Samulnori like them.

Last December Korean movie star Jang Dong-Geon was on the Hollywood action blockbuster movie'Warrior's Way' and this movie inserted Samulnori in it. Samulnori sounds was applied into the major action scenes and ending credit. Samulnori performance was inserted in the action scenes in the hall and it was well harmonized with gun shooting sounds. It caught attentions from all over the world and it enhanced the beauty of the image in the movie.

<Samulnori Goes Beyond the Generation> (Source : Kyunghyang Shinmun)

Regardless of the past and present, performers and audience, Koreans and foreigners, Samulnori keeps making progress with new interpretation and recreation of the music. We hope Korean traditional music spread into the world and become the representative brand of Korea.