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(News Focus) 'Uncontrollably Fond' shows limits of early filming system

2016/07/29 17:40

By Lee Haye-ah, Youn Go-eun

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) -- "Uncontrollably Fond," a highly anticipated TV drama that premiered early this month, began to slip on TV popularity charts this week, revealing the risks of filming an entire series in advance.

Starring heartthrobs Kim Woo-bin and Bae Suzy, the KBS TV drama was the latest South Korean soap opera to use an early filming system because it allows for simultaneous broadcast here and in China.

Under the traditional production method of filming "as you go," the series would not have met China's requirements for prior screening in time for the show.

The drama got off to a strong start with 12.5 percent viewership during its first episode on July 6. Critics have attributed the positive response to the actors' popularity and the reputation of screenwriter Lee Kyung-hee, who is best known for her hit 2004 drama "I'm Sorry, I Love You."

   "Uncontrollably Fond" is in many ways Lee's latest attempt at that kind of tear-jerking romance. It revolves around top singer-actor Shin Joon-young (Kim) and documentary producer No Eul (Bae), who meet again years after they are forced to part over a series of unfortunate events.

When they meet, Shin has already been diagnosed with a fatal illness and has only a few months to live.

For viewers, it's not just a deja vu; it's a melting pot of cliches from a terminally ill protagonist born out of wedlock to a mother upset with her son for choosing to become an entertainer instead of a prosecutor.

Added to that is the winter setting when in reality the weather is sweltering hot.

A poster for "Uncontrollably Fond" (Yonhap) A poster for "Uncontrollably Fond" (Yonhap)

Viewers appeared to stay tuned for the first six episodes, as each installment recorded a viewership of 11 or 12 percent. That changed when rival broadcaster MBC began airing the sci-fi romance "W" in the same Wednesday-Thursday time slot.

On Wednesday, "Uncontrollably Fond" slipped to 8.6 percent as the competing series grabbed viewers' attention with its equally star-studded cast and imaginative plot involving a real life surgeon and a cartoon hero who meet inside the virtual world of the cartoon. Thursday's viewership for "Uncontrollably Fond" came to 8.9 percent.

With filming long over, producers now have no choice but to hope for the best.

The advantages of early filming are clear as it allows producers and actors to reach a wide audience in China and raise the quality of their work.

The system was touted as a game-changer when the KBS series "Descendants of the Sun" adopted the method and took "hallyu" fans by storm earlier this year.

But critics argue that hallyu, or the spread of Korean pop culture worldwide, was largely possible because the film-as-you-go method allowed producers to reflect the sentiments of viewers in real time. Often, producers would change the ending to meet the demands of the audience.

Stills from "Uncontrollably Fond" (Yonhap) Stills from "Uncontrollably Fond" (Yonhap)

Stills from "Uncontrollably Fond" (Yonhap) Stills from "Uncontrollably Fond" (Yonhap)

hague@yna.co.kr

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