Drama Casting & News
Hanbando’s blockbuster budget can’t make it a hit
by | March 20, 2012 | 26 Comments

Oy, another show gets the axe. Cable action-thriller Hanbando (Korean Peninsula) had boasted a sizable production budget (10 billion won, or roughly $9 million USD) and a name cast (Hwang Jung-min, Kim Jung-eun) with lots of notable veterans, but it hasn’t been enough to stir much interest, and ratings have remained low.

Those low numbers have led TV Chosun to cut the run down from a planned 24 episodes to 18, according to a rep from the station. The station informed the production team of the cut last week, which turned in the script for the final episode yesterday.

The drama premiered with a promising rating of 1.649%. (In the cable realm, anything over 1% is safe; below 1% is when you start splitting hairs, depending on what kind of show it is, when it airs, and what its expectations are.) And while Hanbando’s slide down to 0.798% (for its most recent episode) still leaves it higher than other cable shows that haven’t gotten cut, you can look at it in two ways: (1) It halved its already small audience, and (2) it also has one of cable’s largest budgets, in fact rivaling (and outstripping) the costs of some dramas on the big 3 broadcasters.

Honestly, I think the cable stations are being entirely too precipitate with their decisions, especially given the newness of much of the cable landscape to begin with. Some of these general-programming stations, including TV Chosun, are barely four months old, but they’re being held to standards established by people who have been on the air for decades.

I say this having no particular sadness for seeing Hanbando go — I was never intrigued by the spy-action-North-and-South plotline, and kaedejun’s coverage of Episodes 1-2 confirmed my initial impressions. But personal interest aside, this just seems like the most foolish type of knee-jerk reaction. Have a little patience, will you? We all know the cliched saying about marathons versus sprints; this is a case of taking one runner out of the race based on a bad first two steps.

That means Hanbando will wrap on April 3 with Episode 18.

Via Mk.co.kr


26 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. evebay

    I’m not really sure what there was to salvage. I managed to get through 6 epis. Unless the writers were handing in their notice rather than the final script I’m not sure where they’d deserve more of a chance – at 18 hours it’s a fair chunk of time to give something that hasn’t been working from the off. I don’t think this is ever going to make it to anyone’s ‘Cancelled to soon list of regrets’. Or is that too harsh? I didn’t really notice any fans in the Open threads?

    Maybe different directors too – I’ve only seen the female lead once before I think (Forever the Moment) and she didn’t seem the type to think acting was hair-flicking and dramatic walking in that, so someone was letting a lackadaisacal performance through the net. Second male lead wasn’t quite bad enough to be amusingly bad, but he did try to get that low!

    • 1.1 jomo

      The lead – Kim Jung-eun?

      I only saw her in Lover in Paris. I don’t like how her eyes were always wet. It actually triggered my gag reflex.
      I finished that show because of Park Shin Yang, but I cannot watch her again.

  2. Mystisith

    I remember seeing the teaser, and thinking: Oh, not bad. But then, the competition is so fierce. There is so many dramas airing at the same time… Even being a big watcher i can’t absorb everything.
    Those new channels seem to be caught in a dilemma. Do you spend money to produce a blockbuster, hoping to catch the audience? Or do you wait until you have a solid fan base so you can decide what kind of Big program you produce in order to fit their taste? I would play the second card.
    I read recently than some dramas were more often financed as co-productions, or by pre-sales (Japan, China…).
    I believe they need to explore new territories in term of stories, but also new kind of business plans.
    I suppose the globally bad state of the economy doesn’t help either.

  3. cv

    Haven’t watched this. I wasn’t interested in the plotline to begin with. Too many other dramas to watch.
    It’s too bad. I suppose not alot of people like spy/thriller dramas?

  4. Vic

    I say this having no particular sadness for seeing Hanbando go — I was never intrigued by the spy-action-North-and-South plotline, and kaedejun’s coverage of Episodes 1-2 confirmed my initial impressions

    kaedejun? Ooooooh, kaedejun, of course! You mean the same kaedejun who didn’t like Joseon X Files? But javabeans,last time I checked you considered Joseon X Files the drama of the year. That being said, why would you believe that his/her opinion about Hanbando will coincide with your opinion,since it’s obvious that you two have different taste in dramas!?

    • 4.1 Ani

      Ha…. haha…. hahahahaha. I don’t know if that can be considered a rant, but it tickled my funny bone.

      I agree that they have different tastes. I haven’t tried this show yet, but I’ll give it a fair shot when I have a chance and make up my mind about whether I like it or not. Hopefully everyone will do the same…. unless their tastes are the same with whoever is recommending/not-recommending the show.

      • 4.1.1 nomu nomu nomu

        I did find it a little amusing myself.
        Most of the recappers here have very different taste (I think that’s a good thing though, as variety is always good)

        Anyone still remember the 2011 year end reviews?
        Reading the viewers comments was very entertaining 🙂

    • 4.2 javabeans

      No, we don’t have the same taste, but I think we’re both smart enough to distinguish what’s a matter of taste and what’s an issue of a show not being well written. I didn’t say I substituted kaedejun’s opinion for my own. I watched enough to feel the show wasn’t for me, and her recap expressed some of my own feelings on it.

    • 4.3 kaedejun

      Ouch. Just because we differ in opinions over one drama does not mean we will have divergent opinions on other dramas.

      I, for one, am not sorry to see this shortened. I do admit that this drama has picked up its pace a little bit, but it’s still far too slow for its genre. (Yes I am still watching it.) I want Hwang Jung Min to be president already! I don’t care to see him try and win over every grandmother in all of Korea. Just be the president and effin’ save Kim Jung Eun, and reunite the Koreas already!

  5. Ani

    Aaaw. I’m sad for Hwang Jung-min. I like him. He’s pretty cool. Well, maybe next time. At least his movie Dancing Queen seems to have done alright for itself.

  6. Suzi Q

    Another one bites the dust. I guess they decided to cut their losses.

    Just having a big budget doesn’t make a great drama.
    It was boring to begin with and didn’t capture the viewers interests after it aired.

    I watched the beginning episodes and lost interest fast. I really like Hwang Jung min which was why I initially watched it. Too bad.

  7. Lise

    i love it! i watch it RAW then i watch it subbed…totally my cup of tea, better than ATHENA anyways (insert evil laugh here)

  8. houstontwin

    It really is sad. The premise is good. The male lead and much of the supporting cast is good as well. But a the female lead is really weepy and dreadful (does our hero love her for being simultaneously brave, dense, and pathetic?). Worst of all, nothing can overcome some of the comic book writing and characterizations.

    I hate to see so many resources go to waste!

  9. Emi

    At least when shows get canceled there, they usually just reduce the number of episodes and give it a chance to finish. I hate US TV where they yank a series off the air without warning, and only after 2 or 3 episodes. I hate being left hanging 🙁

    • 9.1 Ani

      *sniffles* Like poor Firefly! *cries about it for another 5 years* At least we’ll always have Serenity. X'(

      • 9.1.1 Nik

        You can’t stop the signal…

      • 9.1.2 Linda165

        *cries with Ani*

  10. 10 belleza

    The 21-year old actor Kwak Hee Sung is just AWESOME here. Apparently, this is his first big acting role, but you wouldn’t tell by his brooding, sexy turn as a North Korea soldier. So much so that he’s almost stealing the show. Mark my words — he is a future STAR.

    Peninsula has many things going for it, once the show gets off the energy station. Very, very strong political intrigue (probably my favorite part — imagine if Daemul played it straight) The car and train chases are done better than in Iris/Athena. The sentiment (and ambivalence) of a unified Korean country is deeply felt in the writing.

    What hurts the show is the same thing that’s hampered everything since Shiri . . . it’s just very hard to reconcile a thriller with a melodrama over the length of a TV series. Kim Jung Eun is only memorable, because her character goes through some truly disturbing torture scenes. She gets beaten, electrocuted, waterboarded, etc. With her character comes all the melodrama bits, and it undermines the flow of the story. The South Korean side is all hardboiled machinations, shifting alliances, and political risktaking. GREAT stuff. The North Korean side touches upon the hunger and poverty of the people . . . but then gets undermined with a makjang family-in-fatigues setup. It just feels contrived.

    It’s still a very good show, and it’s a nice change of pace.

    • 10.1 Mystisith

      OK. Just searched for info about KHS. Damn, he is 22 but he looks so more mature! And hot.
      Thanks for the info, this one is on my check-list now.

    • 10.2 houstontwin

      I agree, it’s all the North Korean melodrama -torture and cardboard bad guys that really drags it down.

      KHS is good looking though I can’t evaluate his acting based on Peninsula. I hope that he gets a chance to show us what he has in a better role. All that brooding is tiresome (I blame it on the role and the writing) and his idol haircut is ridiculous for a North Korean officer.

    • 10.3 alexe

      I really like this show – except for the female lead who can’t look like a skilled scientist …

  11. 11 kayana20

    I love love this drama and KJE acting was phenomeonal. She’s weepy because her country abuses her..I cried my eyes out watching her father be killed all because he wanted peace.Then your mother orders the hit.That weepy female was strong for 13 years when they tore her apart from the man she loves because Dong-Ki and her mom didn’t want her leaving with him.Enough is enough she loves South Korea and Myung-Joon..I wish it had ended on. Ep 20 but 18 episodes is fine.I jusr want my happy ending and Myung-Joon as president with Jin-Jae by his side as his wife.Tv Chosun jumped the gun when they ended it abruptly.because of ratings.IIt did much better than other drama’s.Thje real reaon is because the war between South and North Kore and the subject matter hits too close to home.Now I have one less drama to watch but it was good while it lasted..Next time TV Chosun should be prepared for the big 3 because they bring out all the stops even when horrible.Now let me wait patiently for RoofTop Prince recap.

  12. 12 hot_saranghae

    I actually like this drama^^~…..It’s much2 better than both Athena and Iris because we get thrown into the theme and premise straight away……I feel that the goal that the characters are trying to achieve is definitely something I can root for and it’s always been clear from the start…
    Of course, I can never stop being amazed at how good Hwang Jung Min is as a spy, when he’s supposed to be a scientist…..but it’s a spy story that’s meant to be rather over the top, so logic is kinda not the priority…..nonetheless, I feel that the flow of the story is good…It is not GREAT, but I don’t think it deserves a cut (I’ve seen worse dramas)….what a pity!

  13. 13 aX

    Stiff competition and it’s usually the good quality dramas being lucked out by the mainstreak Kdramas because for the most part, people wants to see their idols on screen. I haven’t given this a try, but it’s on my list to watch.

    I’m not too fond of the lead guy though… oh well.

  14. 14 Gaeina Lee

    I love love this drama… If the viewers love the type of Dae Mul and President, yes I think they will hooked as bad as I am.

    The casts, cinematography and script are very solid, way better than IRIS (No Athena). Even the Russian-Romanian-Korean casts are able to delivered such acts and create a believable conversation scenes together. something that I never see in Kdrama. And KJE Russian is much better that HJM in my pov.

    The love story they have is soooo touching… I saw another side of HJM, his romantic side. He and KJE together is so, so… ahh. I was swooning over ep 8 when HJM on bended knee giving the ring to his lady whom he loves for over 13 years, in an old chapel, with the streaks of setting sun streaming through the window no less… — Oww, how I wish it was me.

    My crush to HJM becomes official, eternal, and getting worse, incurable… ^^

    Too bad they have to cut it down to 18. Most good movie/drama are flunk in rating~ lesson learned.

  15. 15 charmed

    hmmm i watched this drama and i find it very interesting… i love kim jung eun acting prowess here…. shes really good.. anyway shes the reason why i watch it.. too bad they had to cut it! but for being able to show it in a cable Chanel(not free channel in cable) i think one of the reason why it has a low rating! but i think the story is great and all the actors…

    anyway im looking forward for the next project of the one and only korean actress that ive known..

    KIM JUNG EUN!!! aja…..

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