Author Topic: K-dramas (analyses of excellent cinematography of award-winning or hit dramas)  (Read 10919 times)

Gerry T. Galacio

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"Brilliant Legacy" aka "Shining Inheritance" (2009 blockbuster drama starring Han Hyo-joo, Lee Seung-gi, Moon Chae-won, and Bae Soo-bin)

Korean dramas (or simply K-dramas) have been a worldwide phenomenon since 2003 when "A Jewel in the Palace" aka "Dae Jang Geum" became a worldwide hit. Early last year, the blockbuster "Crash Landing On You" became the gateway drama for a new generation of K-drama watchers.

K-dramas are distinguished by their great writing and variety of genres and topics; several K-dramas, on the other hand, are distinguished by their excellent cinematography.

I oftentimes come across sweeping statements in websites and blogs about the quality of a drama's cinematography. For example, somebody who reviewed "Mr. Sunshine" gushed about its stunning cinematography; as proof, the reviewer posted two pictures of sunsets from the drama. Really? Numerous K-dramas have had scenes of stunning sunsets.

We will appreciate K-dramas more if we learn some things about cinematography. For example, the 2010 hit "Chuno, The Slave Hunters" was a groundbreaking drama because it was the first in Korea to use a digital camera (the revolutionary "Red One" 4K digital camera).

I'm a photographer, not a cinematographer. But to become a better photographer and writer, I read a lot and watch a lot of videos about cinematography. For example, I'm learning how a method in classical art and photography called "Dynamic Symmetry" can be used in cinematography.

Posted below are links to my "Campus Connection" blog where I have written spoiler-free synopses by episode of award-winning or hit K-dramas; in these synopses, I analyzed in detail the excellent cinematography of these dramas.

"Beyond Evil" (2021 psychological thriller; winner of "Best Drama" and "Best Screenplay" awards from the 57th Baeksang Arts Awards) at

"Brilliant Legacy" aka "Shining Inheritance" (2009 blockbuster drama starring Han Hyo-joo, Lee Seung-gi, Moon Chae-won, and Bae Soo-bin; this drama is noted director Jin Hyuk's debut) at

Example of arc shot and cross dissolve from "Brilliant Legacy":

"Encounter" (2018 hit drama starring Song Hye-kyo and Park Bo-gum; intro and outro animations by Korean artist Jamsan, who also did the artwork for "It's Okay Not To Be Okay") at

Example of the beautiful artworks/animations by Jamsan from "Encounter":

"Into The Ring" (2020 rom-com and political drama starring Nana; its use of wide angle lenses was probably inspired by the award-winning movie "The Favourite" directed by Yorgos Lanthimos) at

Example of wide angle shot from "Into The Ring":

"Kingdom" Seasons 1 and 2 (2019 hit zombie-historical dramas) at

"Flower of Evil" (2020 hit psychological thriller starring Lee Joon-gi and Moon Chae-won; its director won "Best Director" award from the 57th Baeksang Arts Awards) at

Example of cross cutting from "Flower of Evil":

"Mr. Sunshine" (2018 blockbuster hit; it won "Drama of the Year" award at the 6th APAN Star Awards) at

"Reply 1988" (2015 slice of life drama; it's the fourth highest rated drama in Korean cable television history; its cinematography was inspired by Wes Anderson) at

"Sisyphus: The Myth" (2021 sci-fi drama starring Cho Seung-woo and Park Shin-hye and directed by Jin Hyuk) at

Example of arc shot and tracking shot from "Sisyphus: The Myth"

"Start-Up" (2020 drama starring Bae Suzy, Nam Joo-hyuk, Kim Seon-ho, and Kang Han-na) at

Example from "Start-Up":

"Stranger" aka "Secret Forest" Season 1 (2017 crime drama/thriller starring Cho Seung-woo and Bae Doona; it was featured on New York Times list of Best TV Shows of 2017 and won the Grand Prize for Television at the Baeksang Arts Awards) at

Example of symbolic or meaningful use of doors in "Stranger" Season 1:

"The Tale of Nokdu" (2019 historical drama starring Jang Dong-yoon and Kim So-hyun) at

"True Beauty" (2020 hit rom-com starring Moon Ga-young, Cha Eun-woo, Hwang In-youp, and Park Yoo-na) at

Example of tracking shot from "True Beauty":

“When the Camellia Blooms" (2019 hit rom-com/thriller starring Gong Hyo-jin and Kang Ha-neul; it won awards for "Best TV Script" and "Grand Prize in TV" from the Baeksang Arts Awards) at

Examples of low angle shots that mark the cinematography of "When The Camellia Blooms":


A. Link to spoiler-free free synopsis by episode of "Chuno, The Slave Hunters" (2011 historical drama starring Jang Hyuk and Lee Dae-hee):

B. Song Hye-kyo (female lead star of “Encounter” and "Descendants of the Sun") has a standard clause in her contract that she can only be filmed with an Alexa camera, which is the top of the line camera for cinematographers.

Link to spoiler-free synopsis by episode of "Encounter":

Link to spoiler-free synopsis by sets of episodes of "Descendants of the Sun":

C. Link to spoiler-free synopsis by episode of the classic K-drama "A Jewel in the Palace":

D. Link to spoiler-free synopsis by episode of "Crash Landing On You" (with lots of historical and cultural backgrounders):
« Last Edit: June 17, 2021, 11:17:21 AM by Gerry T. Galacio »