I think SBS’s upcoming joint Korean-Japanese production Tokyo Showers — buzzed-about as downtrodden singer Ivy’s comeback and acting debut — has the potential to go either way. I’m not expecting much of it based on the description, but it’s only four episodes, so it’s not much of a commitment either.
The story is described as centering around Koreans living in Japan, which on its own is an interesting perspective to take — perceptions are always shifted when viewing one culture through the lens of another, as opposed to normal kdramas (or jdramas). Then again, the 2004 Korea-Japan production starring Won Bin and Fukada Kyoko, Friends (also four episodes), had the same intention at mutual cultural understanding — but was rather bland in its unchallenging, simple approach. It made for a nice, pleasant — but forgettable — watch.
In the miniseries, a top actress, played by former Miss Korea Kim Sarang, meets and falls for sushi chef Kim Tae Woo, who’s focused on his business and little else. And then there’s Ivy, playing a Korean student dreaming of becoming a singer while working part-time in a restaurant. Rounding out the cast are Japanese actors Otani Ryohei — whom you may remember as the easygoing nice guy in Soulmate — Okuda Erika, Yamamoto Gaku, and Inohana Mai.
As Tokyo Showers was filmed in Japan, stars Kim Sarang and Kim Tae Woo had a first-hand taste of the differences between Korean and Japanese styles of drama production. There were three main points:
(1) “Korean Time” versus “Japanese Time”
Kim Sarang: “If shooting is at 9 o’clock, everyone is ready for the actors to begin shooting exactly at 9. Therefore filming doesn’t go late, and there’s no need to stay up all night shooting. Thanks to the careful preparations, the filming stays right on schedule.”
(2) Actors As Family, or Special Guests
On Korean film sets, actors are like family; if troubles arise, everyone comes together to work through it. In Japan, actors are like special guests who receive special treatment. Kim Tae Woo: “The Japanese crew were serious about making sure the actors’ makeup was fixed and had a place to rest. I was very touched at the amount of care we received.”
(3) The Extent of Flexibility
If a Korean production encounters a clear day when a scene calls for rain, the crew films the scenes in nice weather first, then the scenes requiring rain (sometimes making the rain artificially). But in Japan, they wait for rain. Kim Sarang: “Korean crews are pretty flexible on set to handle various occurrences like accidents. On the other hand, it seems that even if something occurs that wasn’t anticipated, Japanese crews stick to their original plans.”
The drama held its press conference on May 19 — Ivy was conspicuously absent, although her nonattendance was announced in advance — and airs its first episode on June 2 after I Love You wraps.
SONG OF THE DAY
Sweet Sorrow – “Chance” [ Download ]
RELATED POSTSIvy, Kim Sa-rang, Kim Tae-woo, Tokyo Showers