Same, same but different

lifestyle October 29, 2013 00:00


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Truevisions wraps up its Korean drama remake project with "Full House"

Thailand's free tv channels have long stuck with a tried-and-tested formula for success by mixing in remakes of popular dramas with newly scripted soaps. “Thong Nua Kao”, “Khoo Kam,” “Baan Sai Thong” and “Dao Phra Sook” are just some of the stories that return to the screen in a new production and with a new cast every five years or so and inevitably score high ratings. Unlike their western counterparts, it seems Thais never tire of stories they know from beginning to the end.
Last year, pay cable provider TrueVisions joined in the remake game but rather than select local stories, opted for Thai adaptations of the South Korean dramas that have proved so popular with viewers in recent years.
TrueVisions launched the project with the Thai version of “Coffee Prince” and followed up with Autumn in My Heart”, the romantic drama largely credited with setting off a Korean wave around the world. 
Now the cable provider is bringing the project to a close with the romantic comedy “Full House”, which will air in December. The romantic comedy was snapped up by TV stations around the world and jettisoned singer Rain into the acting orbit.
Attapon Na-Bangchang, TrueVisions’ vice president for programming, credits the idea for the remakes to the company’s chief executive Suphachai Chearavanont, a self-confessed “Coffee Prince” fan. 
Attapon was able to reach agreement with TrueVisions’ Korean partners and bought the remake rights for all three series for what he says was a fair but inexpensive price.
“Certainly buying content is a lot easier and cheaper but remaking such series with a local context is important to our growth as a TV provider,” Attapon says.
Talented movie director Songyos Sukmakanan was handed the reins for “Coffee Prince” and it proved an auspicious start for the filmmaker who went on to make his own TV series, the hit drama “Hormones”, earlier this year. 
However, the Thai version of “Coffee Prince” received mixed reviews from fans, with many feeling it retained too much of a Korean taste despite the Thai cast. The story is similar to the Thai drama classic “Thaddao Bussaya”, relating the romance between a tomboyish woman and a rich, handsome guy who isn’t sure of her gender.
Songyos admits he found the remake difficult. “The scenes move back and forth between different places and we had to really focus to avoid slips in the details and continuity. I’m reasonably satisfied with it,” he says.
He does however acknowledge the criticism of too much of a Korean context, saying that while they tried to adapt it and make it more Thai, much more time would have been required to work on the concept and script than TrueVisions could have allowed.
Attapon though was very happy with the first project, which starred several “True Academy Fantasia” alumni as well as actress Intaporn Tamsukhin as the tomboyish protagonist,
“Autumn in My Heart” was produced by Ananda Everingham’s Halo Production Company and directed by indie filmmaker Sivaroj Kongsakul. While it starred soap stalwarts Jessadaporn Pholdee and Sucha Manaying, many fans found his cinematographic style too mellow.
“It gave us a better production awareness and also helped draw new viewers to our channel. However, we also learned how hard it is to hold an audience. We need to learn more from Hollywood films that retain their magic even when they are screened on television,” says Attapon.
The upcoming “Full House”, which is also being produced by Halo, has Saratsawadee Wongsomphet of “Yes or No Yak Rak Kor Rak Loei” as the director.
She says she’s finding the project every bit as hard as making the sequel of to her hit film, noting that while it can be equally as good, if not better, a mistake is enough to throw it in the opposite direction.
“Full House” was the first Korean drama she watched and it turned her into an admirer of Korean TV series. Learning from the lessons of the two earlier projects, she and the scriptwriter Wattana Weerawatthana have worked hard on the script.
“We’ve changed a lot of things in the story though we have kept the key characters and certain situations. Our aim is to transform the story so that it fits with the Thai context,” she says.
With Pirat “Mike” Nitipaisalkul and Sucha Manaying replacing Rain and Sung Hye-kyo in the lead roles, the right chemistry between the protagonists will be vital to the series’ success. A romantic comedy, it centres on a superstar singer and aspiring scriptwriter woman who enter a fake marriage, forcing them to live together in the house named Full House. One of the most memorable sequences of scenes is when the couple goes on a (fake) honeymoon to Phuket and the Thai version returns the compliment by setting its honeymoon scenes in Korea.
“Full House” will be released on Asian Series channel and will close out the cable provider’s Korean drama remake ||||project. Attapon says that they’ll be going back to remaking Thai dramas next year. 
“But they’ll be different from what viewers see in today’s dramas,” he says.