Film cooperation between China and the Republic of Korea has a solid foundation at the grassroots.
Since the early 2000s, ROK TV dramas seem to have become an indispensable part of Chinese people’s everyday discussions.
From Endless Love, and Dae Jang-geum, to My Love from the Star, different generations of Chinese youth have a collective memory of their Asian neighbor, drawn from the screen.
Yi Fei, 28, a Beijing-based cultural commentator and a former Tsinghua undergraduate who once participated in a half-year exchange at Korea University, grew up in such an environment.
“When I look back on what the male and female protagonists did in the TV dramas, I found what they did is actually very common: such as skiing and having dinner,” she said.
“However, ROK TV dramas are extremely good at creating a dreamlike atmosphere. Thanks to the dramas, Chinese youth may find it easy to live in the ROK, because what they experienced is probably what they are familiar with on screen.”
Yi is positive about the Korean operas’ ability to create cross-cultural communication. And, she admires the tender spirit of the TV dramas, revealed in homage to an older generation and courtesy for predecessors.
In July 2014, China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, and the ROK’s ministry of culture, sports and tourism, signed a film coproduction agreement to promote closer bilateral ties.
Now the ROK side intends to develop more expertise in China by expanding on successful models.
For example, the ROK’s leading film and TV series producer CJ Entertainment & Media opened a film studio park in Hebei province’s Dachang county, located in the outskirts of Beijing, as potential incubators of ideas and projects for young Chinese filmmakers.
According to Cho Gunryong, general manager of strategic cooperation at CJ E&M China, the company will produce two to three films targeting Chinese filmgoers in the next few years.
“The fast-growing film industry in China has created a marvelous market for us,” Cho said.
The cooperation is a two-way street.
For example, Seoul will present the China Film Festival, co-created by the two countries’ film authorities, to screen 10 Chinese films as a step to better promote the country’s cinema in the ROK.
“China and the ROK share a common Confucian culture, which helps Chinese audiences to reduce the distance,” director Huang Jianxin, says.
“Nevertheless, the making of Korean films and TV operas is very different from our industry. It leaves much space for two sides to have more cooperation in the future.”