Descendants of the Sun: Korean drama in India  

Like the rest of most of the world, Television viewers in India are majorly exposed to content from American and British TV shows. The only platform that offers material other than British and American to viewers in India is Zindagi, the number 1 Premium Entertainment Channel.

With a selection of the best shows worldwide, Zindagi offers viewers a glimpse into new cultural settings while broadcasting universal emotions.
Zindagi has launched shows from Turkey and Ukraine before, but recently it has taken a new step and introduced the blockbuster South Korean drama “Descendants of the Sun” for the first time on Indian television. The touching drama tells the love story of Special Force Officer (Song Joong Ki) and a surgeon (Song Hye Kyo) whose fates intermingle.
The TV show was not only a blockbuster hit in South Korea but it also took Asia by storm, garnering immense popularity and top-ratings across the continent.
The selection of actors had already paved the way for the finite series to succeed. The Korean heartthrob Song Joong Ki, who plays the role of a Special Force Officer, is considered to be one of Korea's hottest actors with a huge fan following across South East Asia. His choice seems ideal as the actor served in the Korean Military for two years before bagging the role in the show.
Although Song Joong Ki was already popular in the country, the show catapulted his fame making him one of the highest paid South Korean actors.
“Descendants of the Sun” is the story of Special Force Officer and a surgeon who fall in love at first sight. Despite their instant congeniality, they are taken aback by their contrasting ideologies and values (one kills to protect lives and the other saves lives).
Destiny unites them again after almost a year of separation whey they meet at a war zone “Uruk”, a land far from Seoul. The new circumstances force them to work closely together.
The story will tell if their love will blossom in a strange land and an extreme environment. The audience is yet to find out if they will be able fight or succumb to destiny.
Some of the sweetest quotes from Descendants of the Sun include:
“I hope you don't think my kiss is bad. I did it after thinking a thousand times.”
“You are already beautiful.” (Yoo Si-jin speaks to Kang Mo-yeon, who is reluctant to make eye contact because she is not wearing any make-up).
“You have so many men to worry about. Just worry about me from now on.”
“Regarding the kiss, what should I do? Should I apologize for that? Should I confess my feelings to you?”
“Yes... you know, I have (been bewitched by something).” (When Kang Mo-yeon and Yoo Si-jin look at the wrecked ship, Kang asks him: “Have you ever been bewitched by something?”)
“Because it is far away... I want to spend more time with you.” (When Yoo Si-jin and Kang Mo-yeon got to a beach, Kang says to Yoo: “Didn't you say the beach is far from here?”)


K-pop star Rain Marriage  

The Catholic wedding recently took place in Gahoe-dong cathedral in Jongno, Seoul but lets take a look back at the events leading up to the surprisingly modest wedding. 

In a hand-written letter to fans, South Korean pop icon Rain announced his engagement to top actress Kim Tae-Hee. However, unlike most fans would have expected, the letter said that their wedding would be low-key given the country's economic and political woes.
“I am going to be a good husband and man as a head of a family,” said the singer in the letter, posted on his Instagram feed.
“She has always been by my side through the hard times and the good times,” he said, referring to the actress who is two years older than him and is popular across Asia.
The couple first met while shooting a TV commercial in 2011 but they didn't start dating until 2012.
The wedding attracted the attention of the media and fans as Rain - whose real name is Jung Ji-Hoon - is one of the biggest names in the world of K-pop. This genre of music amasses a huge amount of followers not only in South Korea but across Asia and beyond.
Even though Rain is mainly known as a K-pop icon, he has also starred in numerous South Korean TV dramas and Hollywood action pictures including the Wachowski brothers‘ “Ninja Assassin” and “Speed Racer”.
“Regarding the time and the wedding ceremony, we plan to keep it as quiet and holy as possible during the current unstable national mood and economically difficult times,” he said.
The wedding is going to take place at a Catholic church in Seoul with family members.
Rain is also known for being confined to barracks for a week back in January 2013 for sneaking out to meet Kim while performing his mandatory military service.
Rain was Time magazine's 2007 most influential person in the world. Stephen Colbert was second. In 2008, Stephen Colbert jokingly challenged Rain to a dance off with words like “Hey Rain, let's see if Korea will lift the embargo on balls”. Colbert even did a Korean kind of music video, jokingly mocking Rain.
Rain comes from a humble background which is one of the reasons he puts so much effort into everything he does. Either dancing, singing or acting, Rain always works hard to deliver the best result yet. That is why he is also famous for his statement: “If you were to ask me the reason I tried so hard, there is no reason. Trying as hard as possible is everyone's duty in life.”
All about Park Bo-gum  

Park Bo Gumchas is a whole Korean legend. This artist from Seoul has appeared in a range of roles in both television and film. His popularity sparked among the young crowd due to his tenure as a co-host on popular music program “Music Bank” which turned him into the cool kid from the blow. But his popularity is not limited to youngsters. Park Bo is also beloved by women who have supposed his roles in K-drama.
Some of his most important appearances include his role as a psychopathic lawyer in Hello Monster (2015), a genius Go player in Reply 1988 (2015), and a Joseon Crown Prince in Love in the Moonlight (2016).
The actor has received numerous awards and nominations including winning “Top Excellence in Acting” at KBS Drama Awards. He broke a record in 2016 when he was named “Actor of the Year” by Gallup Korea, becoming the youngest actor to rank first in the survey's history.
Here are some of his quotes which have been treasure by his fans:
“My father told me to ‘Always live truthfully'. And he also told me that ‘You have to live while staying truthful to your original intention'. ‘You have to go with what you first believed in, in order to have no regrets.' He also told me that ‘Even if you fail while living like that, it will all just be an experience and if you succeed then it'll be a memory.”
“I don't take back words that I have spoken; I take responsibility for them.”
Many fans treasure his words in Moonlight Drawn by Clouds: “Do not forget. If I only had one person in the world that I could trust, it would still be you.”
“If you ever need to let go of something in the middle of a tough situation, can you promise me that it won't be me?”
“When I see you, I get angry. But that won't do, because I don't see you, I get even angrier. Like I'll go crazy. So, stay by my side.”
“Even if we were spun in circles, we were fated to meet each other.”
“Thank you for teaching me that the sincerity of love can create miracles.”
“Maybe I push you away to see if you care enough to pull me back...”
When Park Bo Gum was asked a question during the 2016 Style Icon Awards, he replied “if it's someone that I love, I think she'll look pretty no matter what she wears.”
“When you open up a path, you must also open the gate at the end of the path.”
“There's no need to ask me for favors, since I would do anything for you.”
“If there's someone you miss, you have to meet that person.”
“Do you know how worried I was that when I opened my eyes, the person in front of me wouldn't be you? When I held on to you, I hesitated for so long, in case it wasn't you.”
Running Man star wins award  

Running Man star Lee Kwang Soo won a top prize at SBS Entertainment Awards amidst controversy about the show. He accepted the Top Excellence Award for his performance on popular variety program Running Man, which has been involved in controversy lately over the apparent dismissal of two of its cast members, Song Ji Hyo and Kim Jong Cook.
After the controversy sparked, the production team announced that the two cast members would stay on until the show's finale. Despite rumors, all six cast members of the show were at the awards ceremony.
Running Man star Lee Kwang Soo gave a touching acceptance speech in which he thanked those who “worked hard to defend Running Man.” "To Ji Suk Jin, who taught me about life and entertainment, to Yoo Jae Seok, who made me the person I am today, to Kim Jong Gook, my mentor, to Haha, whom I love like family, to Song Ji Hyo, who is like my real sister, and to Gary, Song Joong Ki and Lizzy. I love you all so much," Lee said, mentioning each of his team members.
After the ceremony, fans expressed disappointment in the fact that Running Man, a show that has been airing on SBS for almost seven years, only took one prize home.
In response to the fans, SBS released a statement on Instagram explaining that the Running Man cast has asked not to be given any prizes as they wanted to keep a low profile during the awards show.
“For this reason, Running Man was only given one award,” the statement concluded.
It was the comedian-TV host Shing Dong Yup the one who took the Grand Prize home for his work on Mom's Diary - My Ugly Duckling, a reality show spotlighting celebrities and their mothers. The show, launched in July, boasted a viewership of over 10 per cent on Friday nights.
Some of the most memorable quotes of the show are:
“Kim Jong Kook talks a lot. I'm glad he's not my mother in law.” - Jae Suk to Jong Kook at epsode 98
“When Jong Kook screams, he has no charisma at all.” - Yoo Jae Suk
“Lee Kwang Soo said that he was a burden to Yoo Jae Suk.” - Yoo Jae Suk answered that he was not a burden to him but he is a burden himself.
TV shows Influence North   

Since the division of the historical state of Korea into two distinct sovereign states - North Korea and South Korea - in 1945, the cultural gap between the two states that once formed a sole nation have done nothing but become wider with the passage of time. Despite them being neighboring countries, the estrangement between the two nations was due to the cultural isolation of North Korea and both countries' ideological discrepancies.
Recently, however, mass media has been bridging the cultural gap between the two countries. In particular, South Korean TV shows are having a strong influence on North Korean society, according to a high-ranking North Korean official.
Once the number 2 official at Pyongyang's embassy in London Thae Yong-ho met with South Korean reporters for the first time in 2016 and stated that how the North Korean people are stuck on the Korean Wave.
“Every North Korean I know has watched South Korean shows,” Thae said and then he confessed he himself is a fan of period flicks, “Immortal Admiral Yi Sun-shi,” “Jeong Do-jeon” and “Six Flying Dragons.” The audience was amazed at the North Korean official's capacity to name the South Korean TV shows from the top of his head.
Apart from the South Korean TV shows, other TV dramas that gained popularity among the general North Korean crowd, according to Thae, included romance works “Autumn in my Heart,” “Winter Sonata” and “Full House.”
Surprisingly, a few dramas that discuss North Korean defectors‘ assimilation stories in the South - namely, “Blow Breeze,” - were especially favourites in the North.
The influence South Korean mass media is having on its neighbouring country is such that its TV shows are changing the way North Koreans converse. According to Thae, the South Korean shows have influenced younger North Koreans to adopt South Korean terminology in their everyday lives.
“They way they call each other when they date, ‘Jagi-ya' and ‘Oppa-ya,' did not exist in North Korea prior to the influx of South Korean entertainment contents,” Thae said, referring to South Korean terms of endearments.
“The two things the regime is failing to control are drugs and South Korean dramas,” Thae said.
Accordingly, North Korean diplomats destined abroad check the South Korean press every morning for news regarding North Korea.
“The North Korean system can only last as long as it can completely block off all information from the outside world,” Thae admitted. “When the day comes when people have access to the information that has been censored, North Korea will come crumbling down like an earthen wall soaking wet.”
The reason why South Korean TV shows are so popular among its neighbouring country is the little diversity on North Korean TV and extensive repetition - most of the movies are re-runs. This is because national TV can only show programs that adhere to Pyeongyang's ideology. In fact, most of the programming is impregnated with national propaganda, but even propaganda has to be entertaining in order to be effective.
With North Korean TV state programming being so repetitive, propagandistic, uniform, restricted and dull, it is no surprise ordinary North Koreans opt to watching South Korean dramas despite harsh penalties if they are caught.


A year of festivals in South Korea  
South Korean's love to kick up their heels and celebrate, so it's little surprise that the country has full yearly calendar of festivals and events. This guide will take you through all the biggest, brightest and best South Korean festivals, offering you (almost!) one for each month of the year.
Inje Icefish Festival (January)
Ice Fishing has been a popular Korean past-time for centuries and there is no better place to learn all about it than the Inje Icefish Festival, which runs from late January to early February each year. As well as actually doing a bit of fishing yourself, you can also learn how best to prepare, cook and serve your catches. There's plenty of other activities on offer too, including ice soccer and sledding and a generally upbeat, fun atmosphere pervades.
Seollal (February)
This three day celebration marks the first day of the first lunar month every year in South Korea. The theme of the festival is that everybody in the country is now one year older and so a group celebration is in order. Most South Koreans like to spend this time with their families, and food is very much at the centre of the celebration. The most important dish of all is ‘birthday soup'.
The Cherry Blossom Festivals (March and April)
OK, we're cheating a little, as we're covering two months with the same festival, but bear with us a moment. You see when the countryside's trees bloom pink with cherry blossom, Koreans take it as a signal to start a party, with carnivals and fireworks aplenty. The thing is, the time this occurs will differ depending on where you are in Korea, though mostly it happens between these two months.
Lantern Festival (May)
Unsurprisingly, given the size of its Buddhist population, Buddha's birthday is celebrated every year in Korea with the Lantern Festival. A beguiling lantern parade usually takes place on the Sunday preceding the day itself, while people mark the actual date by visiting their local temple with a homemade lantern.
Firefly Festival (June)
This is one for all the eco-warriors out there, or, perhaps, just for anybody with an interest in green energy. Taking place in Muju each year, it is a celebration of all things natural, with attendees gathering to watch the fireflies, let off fireworks and discuss environmental issues.
Mud Festival (July)
One of the most attractive and popular Korean festivals for tourists is the Mud festival, held in Boryeong. During this rather raucous few days, the idyllic local beaches are turned to mud, and all manner of mud-related madness ensues, including mud wrestling, mud sliding and a Mud King contest.
Chuseok (August)
Chuseok is the time of year for all Koreans to celebrate their roots and give thanks for another good harvest. It takes place around midway through August each year, with huge feasts and celebrations across the nation. It is preceded by the Ginseng Festival, which takes place 10 days earlier. During this time, doctors from around the country advise citizens of all the various uses and benefits of ginseng.
Busan International Film Festival (October)
For culture vultures, the Busan Film Festival will be well worth marking in your calendar. Every year, many of Asian cinema's biggest and brightest flock to the city, where hundreds of movies are screened.
The Apple Festival (November)
The town of Yesan is well known for producing the tastiest apples Korea has to offer and, each year, it celebrates its most famous export with a one day festival. Events involve eating contests, picking contests and peeling contests, plus an Apple Queen Beauty Pageant.
Bong Joon-ho: South Korean film-maker  
One of 2014's most acclaimed worldwide cinema releases was Snowpiercer. A dystopian epic set upon a train that perpetually circles an earth whose surface has become uninhabitable due to frozen weather, it received praise for its uniquely crafted visual sensibility, remarkable performances and clear-eyed critique of modern social inequalities.
Its director is Bong Joon-ho who has, since his 2003 feature Memories of Murder, carved out a name as being one of South Korea's best film-makers. In fact, many critics believe him to be the best director the nation has ever produced, not to mention one of the most exciting artists working in the medium today.
Bong, grew up in an artistic family and knew he wanted to make movies from an early age. His debut movie, Barking Dogs Never Bite, came out in 2000. Dealing with the misadventures of a put-upon University lecturer who decides to abduct his neighbour's dog, it exhibited many of the features for which its auteur would later become recognised, most notably the sudden shifts in tone between farce and serious drama.
While Barking Dogs… garnered international critical plaudits, it wasn't until 2003's Memories of Murder that Bong truly reached a large audience. The true life story of a series of grisly murders that took place in rural Korea during the 1980s, at first it could be mistaken for a normal, run-of-the-mill procedural cop movie, with a rogue detective and his book-ish partner on the trail of a sadistic madman. As it unfolds, however, Memories of Murder becomes increasingly complicated and ambiguous, before building its audience up to an unexpectedly stark and powerful conclusion.
An instant success with both critics and audiences, it won its director plaudits and awards across the globe, including three awards at the San Sebastian Film Festival.
Rather than immediately capitalise on his new found fame by rushing out another big name film, Bong decided to work on a few short film projects next, contributing to a couple of small-scale omnibus projects. He was already, however, formulating plans for what would become his biggest film to date and, until recently, the most successful Korean movie of all time.
The Host, released in 2006, deals with the story of a huge, mutated sea beast that suddenly emerges from Seoul's Han River to terrorise the locals. Boasting Bong's biggest budget to date ($12 million), it had all the traits of a big, FX-laden blockbuster. Yet, bubbling under the movie's surface, was level of powerful political subtext, a stern comment on Korean closeness to the United States during the war on terror and about the potential issues this might bring about.
It reached huge international acclaim upon its premier at the Cannes Film Festivals, lauded by critics across the globe. Strangely enough, it received a colder reaction from critics in Bong's home country, who felt it lacked the subtlety of his previous work. Audiences, however, did not agree and made The Host the most watched Korean movie of all time, with over 13 million tickets sold domestically.
Bong's next feature, Mother, was similarly successful, winning critical and commercial success upon its release in 2009, particularly for its superb acting. Then, with Snowpiercer, Bong released his first ever film in the English language. Who would bet against Korea's best known film-maker becoming a global household name in the near-future?
City to city in South Korea  
If you want to make the most of your visit to South Korea, then it is worth boning up on the various modes of transportation available to you in the country. It's a large country with several big cities so, if you are planning on moving around, you will need some information to guide you. Here we look at the most crucial aspects of getting around in South Korea.
Flying in South Korea
The South Korean airline industry is a busy one, with more than ten major local airlines all offering domestic flights. In fact, flights between cities are so common in South Korea that it is estimated a plane takes off on the busiest air route in the country, that between Jeju Island and Seoul Gimpo, every thirty minutes. Though you would think this makes life easy for the airline customer, unfortunately this is not the case. Finding and booking the right flight for you can be tricky, as no websites will show all the available flights you can take. This means shopping around is essential if you want the cheapest ticket or the best flight time.
Price-wise, the tickets will vary massively between the low cost companies (Jeju Air, Air Busan, Easter Jet and Jin Air) and the big name airlines (Asiana, Korea Air Lines). For the former, expect a tiny baggage allowance and a minimum of frills. For the latter, you can expect full service. If you want to book a domestic flight in South Korea before you arrive in the country, you will require a credit card with an ‘approved by Visa' accreditation.
Taking the train
Unlike intercity flights, a Korean rail journey can be booked from overseas without a specific card. However, you can only book routes 30 days before travelling. Again, the Korail website can be a little tricky to navigate and it takes a long search to be sure you definitely are getting the best possible deal. Seating is generally allocated to each ticket holder.
Driving and renting a car
If you are moving around quite a bit in South Korea, it is quite possible that renting a car will be the most cost effective and comfortable way to do it. Generally speaking, the prices are very competitive, particularly when compared with the west, and South Korean roads are quite safe. The two main companies offering car rental services are AJ and KTKumho. These two run a large network of rental shops all over the nation. Once again, however, you should be warned: booking through their websites can be a bit of a struggle. If you are travelling to a major airport like Jeju, it might be best to sort out your rental upon arrival.
In order to drive legally in South Korea you will need an International Driver's Permit, but helpfully all road signs are printed in both Korean and English. You will also notice, pretty quickly, just how much CCTV is in place on Korean roads. That means careful driving is essential.
Expat essentials  
Expat essentials: A simple guide to South Korea life for new arrivals
Are you moving to South Korea? If so, then this guide is all you need to prepare yourself. Here we list the most important things to keep in mind before you set off.
Choosing a place to live
One of the key issues you will have to take into account if you work in any major Korean city is traffic. Every large road in Korea is jam packed, bumper to bumper, pretty much non-stop leading up to business hours. If you want to avoid 2 hours trapped in your car at the beginning or end of every working day, then find an apartment close to your place of business. Though this might cost you a little extra, the effect on your quality of life is well worth it.
You should not expect to find a house in Korea for anything other than top dollar. The vast majority of accommodation is apartment-based, though you can find very nice, fairly spacious flats without burning your budget. Condos are also available, which are somewhere between an apartment and a house, for a little extra.
How to get around
As we've mentioned already, traffic makes driving in big cities a trek, so reliance on public transport is a general fact of life. The subways are cheap and the one in Seoul is very large and very reliable. It can take a long time to get from one place to another, but this is something you will have to get used to regardless of how you travel. We would recommend leaving the bus system alone until you have settled in properly and know your way around (which might take a while!). The bus routes are very complicated and figuring out which bus goes where and when is not so easy unless you are familiar with the entire city. Taxis are very, very cheap, though finding a driver who speaks English is not likely.
The South Koreans are very sociable people and love nightlife, food and getting out. There are, however, a few subtle rules to drinking and eating in Korean company that are worth knowing before you hit the bars and restaurants. Hierarchy is important: the older you are, the more important you are at the table. The eldest person in the party always begins eating first, so don't dig in as soon as the food is placed under your nose. When Koreans offer a drink, they mean it. It is very impolite to refuse when your host goes to fill up your glass. Also, if you are out with business friends, talking about work is the biggest faux pas you can make. When Koreans are drinking, the last thing they want to do is chat about business. When the bill comes if the senior member of the party offers to pay do not counter-offer or suggest splitting it. If it is your turn to pay, tipping is, generally, not done and no waiter will expect a tip.
Biggest movies of all time   
South Korea is home to a vibrant cinema scene, filled with brilliantly creative home-grown directors, actors and cinematographers. Korean films have a tendency to mix emotions, tones and genres in a way uncommon to western audiences. The mood of a movie can often switch from comedy to tragedy in the space of a scene. Yet, due to the superbly crafted story-telling and artistic, poetic photography, these shifts in mood only add the magic of South Korean cinema.
To investigate the phenomenon of South Korea's love affair with the silver screen further, let's take a look at the biggest grossing movies in the nation's history.
1. The Admiral (Roaring Currents), Released: 2014, Admissions: 17,607,820.
The biggest film in the history of South Korean cinema was released in 2014 – Kim Man Min's extraordinary The Admiral. This telling of the true story behind the legendary Battle of Myeongnyang in 1597, during which 12 Korean ships managed to fight off more than 330 invading Japanese ships, struck a nerve with audiences in a way few could have predicted. On its very first day of release it grossed around $4.8 million, with 682,882 admissions. Though it has only received a limited release in English speaking territories, it has still managed to find an international audience, grossing a very respectable $2.5 million in the US and $135.9 million international overall. That makes The Admiral a true phenomenon.
2. The Host, Released: 2006, Admission: 13,019,740
Before The Admiral, there was The Host, a very different take on military activity in South Korea. Ostensibly a monster movie, director Bong Joon Ho's tale of a gigantic sea mutant's attack on Seoul is actually a crisp critique of the government's collusion with the American military during the latter's ‘War on Terror.' Upon release it quickly set a new box office record, selling 10 million tickets in three weeks, and finding its way to scores of top ten lists for the year from critics all over the world. It also cemented the reputation of its director, who had impressed global audiences with his chilling debut Memories of Murder three years previously, as one of cinema's most intelligent and maverick voices. Inevitably, awards were many for The Host, including Best Film at the Asian Film Awards and Best Film at the Blue Dragon Awards.
3. The Thieves, Released: 2012, Admissions: 12,983,330
Choi Dong-hoon's serpentine crime comedy was always going to be a winner. As well as being helmed by one of the country's leading directors, it boasted an all-star ensemble cast, bringing together many of Korea's most popular actors. The ever-twisting plot revolves around the heist of a previous diamond necklace from a fortress-like casino in Macau. As the story unfolds, involving double and triple crosses aplenty, the action is always kept at the highest pitch, while all the stars enjoy their over-the-top comedy performances. The audiences enjoyed it just as much, with over 12.9 million tickets sold and plethora of prizes at the Blue Dragon Awards, the Buil Awards, the Grand Bell Awards and the Korean Association of Film Critics' Awards.
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