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(Yonhap Interview) For actor and producer Sean Richard, K-drama offers silver lining

All Headlines 18:20 August 31, 2016

By Woo Jae-yeon

SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Yonhap) -- American actor Sean Richard came to Korea in the mid-2000s, dreaming big and hoping to become a successful actor. But it didn't take long before he realized there were limitations for a non-Korean like himself to break into one of the most competitive industries.

"One day, I had this sudden realization that in order to take a lead role, I'd better create content by myself," Richard said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday. He is attending BroadCast WorldWide (BCWW), hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, as a guest speaker. It kicked off today under the theme of "Content, Infinite Possibilities" and runs until Sept. 2 at the Convention and Exhibition Center (COEX) in southern Seoul.

Seeking out other opportunities to make it in his mother's homeland, he paired up with an American friend, Chris Martin, who was also biding his time in Korea to work in the film industry.

In April, they released an interesting web drama "Dramaworld" on the video streaming site Viki. As if to prove the borderless nature of an online drama, it's been produced by South Korea's EnterMedia Contents, the U.S.'s Third Culture Content, and China's Jetavana Entertainment. Since July 1, it has been available in South Korea on the U.S. media streaming site Netflix.

Much to his surprise, the 10 episode fantasy series about a 20-year-old American college student who falls in love with Korean drama has become the latest Internet sensation. While Viki and Netflix didn't disclose how much it was viewed, Richard said "the drama got translated into 30 different languages within 24 hours of its release, which is by far the biggest number in the shortest period of time." On Viki, users voluntarily provide subtitles for their respective languages.

In hindsight, that he didn't quite make it in the Korean entertainment industry turned out to be a blessing, he said, as it encouraged him to venture out and explore the production field.

"When I co-produced the drama, I learned a lot of new things. It was a great fun to create something."

Simultaneously, he continues testing his luck in the film industry. Since 2010, he appeared in four Korean movies in a supporting role. Most recently, he starred in "Operation Chromite," a film about the historic amphibious landing operation during the Korean War (1950-1953), which has been viewed by nearly 7 million people since its release on July 27.

Korean dramas are still a subculture in the U.S. but "I would like to say it is a big sub-culture," he said, adding that "Korean drama fans in America don't hide that they are watching. They are very proud (of being a fan) and think it is cool, hot, and unique."

Richard said that the drama being categorized under the fantasy genre on Netflix helped it attract more attention. "Some people said that they accidentally watched it out of curiosity and became hooked on Korean dramas."

Shortly before wrapping up the interview, he said by watching "Dramaworld," K-drama fans could feel like they realize their fantasy, and for those who aren't familiar with Korean drama, it will offer an interesting mixture of Korean and American cultures.

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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