'Iris' a global success for Korean TV
By Jeff Chung
Hit Korean TV series "Iris" will be broadcast in Japan next week, and in China shortly thereafter. Billboard advertisements are on the streets of Tokyo, with several just in the Roppongi area alone. Lee Byung-hun and other cast members are expected to be in Japan for the kickoff.
The K-drama has extended its reach with international syndication, a spinoff series, feature film and sequel. "Iris" had a record production cost of $20 million and has taken the TV industry to new heights. The series was a big payoff on a big gamble in today's economy, where a single failure in a TV series or film could ruin a production company.
Spinoff series "Athena" will start filming in the summer, with an estimated October release. However, Lee will not be in it; he will appear in the sequel to "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra." "Athena" stars Jung Woo-sung, Soo-ae ("Emperor of the Sea") and Cha Seung-won ("City Hall") and will film in Switzerland, Singapore and New Zealand.
The full-length feature film for "Iris" will most likely go into release after the TV series ends its broadcast run in various countries. The film premiered at the 34th Hong Kong International Film Festival.
A true sequel to the series is rumored to be in the works for 2011 with most of the original cast.
I had the pleasure of meeting the mastermind of "Iris," Chung Tae-won, in Korea as he talked about future plans. Chung was in Hawai'i in 2006 for the film "Marrying the Mafia II."
A special giveaway will take place for readers of this column. I have two "Iris" original soundtracks; the limited editions have two CDs and a colorful picture book of the stars.
Please e-mail me (address below) with the answer to this question: Lee Byung-hun recently won an award at the 46th annual Baeksang Awards. Name the award. Two winners will be randomly drawn from those with the correct answers. No postcards or call-ins will be accepted. Please e-mail your answer by April 22.
THIS WEEK’S K-DRAMA SYNOPSES
Episode 45 (final episode)
Tonight at 7:45 p.m.: Jung-in and Hyun-su bring home happy news that their baby is healthy and growing well. Jung-gil makes soybean-paste stew for Man-bok, who's been sleeping for five days. Jung-gil accidentally finds Man-bok's will.
Tomorrow at 7:45 p.m.: "Drama City"; synopsis not available.
'LOVING YOU A THOUSAND TIMES''
Episodes 41 and 42
Sunday at 6:45 p.m.: Hyang-sook has some goons destroy Yeon-hee's house and bumps into Geum-ja there. Geum-ja tells her who Eun-nim really is. Hyang-sook gets a DNA test. Sun-young's thinking about going back home after talking with her father-in-law, and Se-hoon asks her to come home. Hyang-sook tells Sun-young who Yoo-bin's biological mother is.
Sunday at 7:45 p.m.: Sun-young finds out that Eun-nim is Yoo-bin's biological mother. She can't stand to look at Eun-nim and kicks her out. Both Eun-nim's father and Gang-ho think it's strange that Eun-nim just went to her grandmother's in the middle of the night. Hyang-sook tells Eun-nim to leave after telling Gang-ho that she's seeing someone else.
'WISH UPON A STAR'
Episodes 19 and 20
Monday at 7:45 p.m.: Gang-ha tells Jae-young he'll marry her, because he can give up on the woman he loves but not on his brother. Joon-ha overhears their conversation and asks them why his name is mentioned. Joon-ha tells Gang-ha he's known all along that they were half-brothers. Chairman Jung promises Red that he'll make sure Indigo will be OK.
Tuesday at 7:45 p.m.: Indigo's surgery is a success. Chairman Jung and Gang-ha find out Red might be Chairman Jung's granddaughter. Min-kyong also finds out Red is Chairman Jung's granddaughter, and schemes to get rid of her. Red is caught in the middle of an insurance fraud.
Episodes 9 and 10
Wednesday at 7:45 p.m.: Dr. Suh asks Dr. Lee why he always gets involved in her business and tells him to stay out of it. Dr. Lee laughs it off and says that it is because he is her guardian since he signed the guardian consent form. Dr. Suh meets her friend Eun-mi at the hospital when Eun-mi comes to get treated for ovarian cancer.
Thursday at 7:45 p.m.: Dr. Lee and Dr. Suh go to a bar for a drink. There, Dr. Suh tells Dr. Lee that she wanted to let go of everything when she fainted, but she couldn't because he came and helped her. She also says that he makes her feel uncomfortable. Dr. Lee then gets drunk and falls asleep in Dr. Suh's arms. Dr. Wang sees the two of them together — and feels jealous.