Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Switching Channels

I haven't watched a lot of television here. There are a handful of channels on our basic cable service which show some English-language movies, but even if you can find their websites, working out what's on every day is an effort in itself, given that Western film titles are transliterated into Korean. Even though I can read Korean, reading the words quickly enough to make some kind of sense in American-English - as opposed to the English-English way I read the language - as well as taking that extra leap that some titles require, is a bit of an acquired art. Sometimes, just to throw you off, they actually translate titles into the equivalent Korean words, leaving you trying to hopelessly figure out what English word they were trying to make, and a couple of times they've just made things up - I was half-way through watching some random movie one day when I noticed the title in the top corner read When Harry Met Sally 2, presumably because the plot had some similarities.

These are the Korean TV channels which show a fair number of English programmes - this being Korea they are very Internet Explorer centric so they might not work in other browsers:

Story On
OCN
CGV
On Style
Super Action
Fox
XTM
Cinema TV

A few days ago one of our Internet providers, Korea Telecom's Megapass, phoned us. They had a new video on demand (VOD) service called MegaTV and we could trial it free for three months, so we agreed to take the service. The engineer turned up yesterday, and half-an-hour of wiring and configuration later, we had a new set-top box on top of our small television.


After initially agreeing to try it, we regretted the decision as we believed from what they told us it would offer little more than a few repeats of Korean dramas. We had a VOD service back in the UK along with a PVR, and while the PVR was good - when it worked properly - the VOD had the kind of variety of content Chairman Mao would have approved of - when it worked (spot the pattern here). But KT undersold MegaTV - because in addition to the endless dramas it seems to have a couple of hundred movies as well as an assortment of other content from sports events like Major League Baseball to English language teaching programmes. And it works rather than crashes at every available opportunity, with just a slight pause for the video streaming to begin. From the on-screen displays, there's clearly scope for MegaTV to charge for content, but most things are free and the films which carry a cost are charged at 1,800 won (about 95 pence). After the trial, the charge for the set-top box rental is 8,000 won (about £4.24) per month if we sign up to a three-year contract, which is a bit of a catch because a lot can happen in three years, and we weren't planning to be here actually, although with the way things are with the British Embassy, perhaps I can't be so sure.

So it seems I now have about four weeks to learn as much Korean as possible, catch up on a huge backlog of things about Korea I wanted to write about, say my goodbyes while simultaneously watching as much free TV to take my mind off things as I can. I will now be working my way through the MegaTV website along with Naver trying to work out the titles.

Korean tags: 텔레비전, 티비

1 comment:

mark said...

I actually don't have a TV, so I only watch a bit when I'm at friends houses etc. but if I would maybe check if the title was just a preview of the next movie coming up... I think I recall seeing that on CGV.

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