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(LEAD) Historical drama 'Jang Yeong-sil' exported to 12 countries

All Headlines 15:05 March 10, 2016

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SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- A historical television drama on a great scientist in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) has been exported to 12 countries, including Japan and China, its producer said Thursday.

"Jang Yeong-sil: The Greatest Scientist of Joseon," which is now being aired by the terrestrial channel KBS-1, has attracted a wide range of viewers at home and abroad.

As the first historic science drama that has been produced in Korea, it depicts the successful life story of the scientist Jang Yeong-sil that contributed to the development of Joseon's science during the 15th century.

Public broadcaster KBS said the historical drama has generated a diverse fan base as it deals with science, a topic rarely covered by past TV series.

Among the 12 importers of "Jang Yeong-sil: The Greatest Scientist of Joseon," is Japan, a country that banned the show's lead actor, Song Il-gook, entry amid rising diplomatic tensions concerning Dokdo.

The ban came in August 2012, when Song participated in a relay swimming event to the set of South Korean islets as a sign of protest against Japanese claims over the islets. Dokdo has been a recurring source of political tension between Korea and Japan.

The Japanese government's entry ban was shortly followed by Japan's boycott of television shows starring Song.

At that time, the Japanese vice foreign minister appeared on a television show and said that Song will not be able to set foot on Japanese soil, citing "Japan's national sentiment" against the actor.

Selling television shows starring Song is still difficult and was a vulnerability in the sales negotiation with the Japanese broadcaster, a KBS official told Yonhap News Agency by phone. The historical series would have been priced higher had it not been for Song, the official continued.

Yet the well-made features of the show outweighed the sentiment against Song. The Korean drama drew enthusiastic responses from Japanese buyers as it depicts the success story of an important scientist.

In particular, the drama emphasizes Jang's accomplishments by showing the restrictions and difficulties he experienced due to his low social class.

Under the leadership of King Sejong, Jang invented many time pieces, as well as several astronomical instruments. He also invented "Cheukwugi," a tool that measures the amount of rainfall.

Moreover, the drama aims to depict Jang as a role model for "Korea's youth of the 21st century" through displaying his scientific accomplishments, according to KBS.

"The drama aims to stimulate scientific curiosity among audiences and help them easily understand the fundamental principles of science by utilizing various data," according to the official.

Besides Northeast Asian, the drama has also been shown in Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.

jwc@yna.co.kr
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