Animation Planned for Hit Korean Drama Winter Sonata
posted on by Egan Loo
The Korean media company Key East signed a memorandum of understanding with the Japanese entertainment company Total Promotion on December 10 to co-finance and co-produce animation based on Winter Sonata. Winter Sonata (also known as Winter Love Song) was the blockbuster 2002 Korean drama television series that helped launch the "Korean wave" of pop culture in Japan.
The drama follows two childhood friends — a boy and a girl — and the tragedy and angst that befalls them and those around them in the years between high school and young adulthood. After premiering in South Korea in 2002, the series aired on Japan's NHK public network in 2004 to high ratings, and turned the lead actor Bae Yong-Joon into a superstar among Japanese female viewers. The drama would repeat that success throughout East Asia, and would eventually make its way to the Middle East, South America, and Africa. It also triggered a steady stream of imported Korean television series on Japanese airwaves. The Japanese publisher Ohzora Publishing Co. eventually imported and translated the Winter Sonata manhwa version (pictured right).
Total Promotion had already secured the rights to make theatrical and television animation from Winter Sonata's Korean broadcaster (KBS), and it had signed royalty agreements with the original director Yoon Suk-ho and the writers Kim Eun-Hee and Yoon Eun-Kyung. However, the project hit a roadblock when Total Promotion could not get permission to use Bae's likeness. After much negotiation, Total Promotion obtained Bae's permission as well as Key East's financial and production support. Bae owns over a third of the stock shares in Key East (formerly Ottowintech). With the animation plans, the producers hope to reach not just the existing fanbase of the drama and Bae in Japan, but also the worldwide audience of animation fans.