Popular Chinese TV series Scarlet Heart gets Korean remake, to air same time here as in South Korea

The Korean remake of Chinese hit Scarlet Heart is due to premiere in Singapore on Aug 29 at 9pm on Sony's Korean entertainment Channel One.
The Korean remake of Chinese hit Scarlet Heart is due to premiere in Singapore on Aug 29 at 9pm on Sony's Korean entertainment Channel One.PHOTO: ONE

The legions of fans across Asia of hit Korean drama series Descendants Of The Sun will probably be hooked on Scarlet Heart, a Korean remake of the popular 2011 Chinese series of the same name.

The new show will premiere here on Aug 29 at 9pm on Sony's Korean entertainment Channel One. It will be aired in Singapore simultaneously as in Korea and China.

This is the first time that viewers here will be able to watch a Korean drama at the same time as its original broadcast- a luxury viewers in China had enjoyed for the first time with Descendants earlier this year. Singapore viewers could watch Descendants only eight hours after each episode's telecast in South Korea.

Both shows boast dashing male leads in costume - Descendants had army men in uniform and Scarlet has princelings in royal garb. Each drama has its own sassy, porcelain-faced beauty who drives the male leads crazy, and of course, also a heart-thumping love story.

Behind the scenes, both Descendants and Scarlet also deviate from the Korean television industry norm - they wrapped filming and post-production before going to air.

In South Korea, dramas are filmed and aired concurrently.

Ms Virginia Lim, Senior Vice President & Head, Content, Production & Marketing, Networks, Asia, Sony Pictures Television, says: "In recent years, there are definitely more South Korean dramas being pre-produced. The fact that these dramas are being reported in the news for being pre-produced suggests that this is still not a common practice for the South Korean drama industry."

Upcoming pre-produced dramas announced over the past year include: coming-of-age historical drama Hwarang and time-travel epic Saimdang: The Herstory, starring A-list cast Lee Young Ae and Song Seung Heon.

There are pros and cons for pre-producing a drama, says Ms Lim. "One benefit is having more time to prepare, produce and promote the drama. Being pre-produced allows the build-up of anticipation for the series, through publicity and online buzz among fans, as we have seen for the Korean adaptation of Scarlet Heart."

"The trade-off is that the production team will have less room to incorporate viewer feedback that comes after the drama has begun airing, such as extending the series if it is well received."

For instance, the producer behind K-drama behemoth My Love From The Star (2013) added one episode to satisfy its legions of fans.

But the lucrative Chinese market is a huge incentive for Korean drama producers to change the way they work. A simultaneous telecast in China and South Korea prevents the problem of piracy.

And to get approval in China for the simulcast, dramas have to be completed before they go to air. Singapore does not have the same restrictions as China, as broadcasters are self-regulating.

To K-drama fan Ng Kay Chyn, the difference between a pre-produced and live-shoot drama is minimal.

The 19-year-old student says: "Sometimes I can see that the writing and production quality for pre-filmed dramas are generally better than the ones shot as they are aired. I think Descendants was well written, even the romance scenes. K-dramas usually go overboard with the romance but I felt that it was just right for Descendants."

nggwen@sph.com.sg

Scarlet Heart premieres on Aug 29 at 9pm on channel ONE (Singtel TV Ch 513 and 604, StarHub TV Ch 124, 820 and 823). It airs on Mondays and Tuesdays at 9pm.