Apple TV + ordered in early 2021 Dr. Brain, its first original series made in South Korea, so that its premiere in November coincided with the launch in the Asian country of its on-demand content service. What the company did not know then is that the success of The Squid Game (Netflix) would surround with expectation this series of six episodes that are released at the rate of one per week.
The first two are already available in your catalog. They tell the story of Sewon, a brilliant neurologist who barely shows and experiences feelings, due to his autism spectrum disorder. When he suffers a horrible personal tragedy, in which he loses his wife and son, he decides to carry out experiments called brain synchronizations with which he accesses the memories of recently deceased people. In this way, he begins to gather clues about the mystery that surrounds his family. As he connects his brain with that of the deceased, he also acquires some of their qualities, achieving through cold technology a palette of feelings that he had never had before. You will soon find the help of an enigmatic private detective.
Dr. Brain adapts a famous webtoon, as the digital comics born in South Korea are called and also known as infinite canvases because they are read in vertical format through electronic devices and allow the reader to interact with the content. The Apple TV + production also has two internationally recognized local names. Kim Jee-woon, one of the most popular directors in his country, makes his television debut with this miniseries. He accepted the challenge when he was attracted by its complex plot, especially by the detective mystery on which it is based and by the personal growth that its protagonist experiences. In a telematic conversation from South Korea, he explains that they are aspects of the script “that claimed to be developed in a more extensive format than a movie.”
“When researching neuroscience, I was surprised to see that the story we tell in ‘Dr. Brain ‘is in one way or another plausible “
Kim Jee-woon, Apple TV + series director
The South Korean has jumped from one genre to another in his film career. The horror tape Two sisters (2003) and the bloody action of I found the devil (2010) triumphed in half the world before he directed Arnold Schwarzenegger in Hollywood in The last challenge (2013). On Dr. Brain he unites in the same story almost all the genres he has touched, from the classic mystery of film noir to science fiction, horror and superhero stories; all this crossed by the family drama that its protagonists live. “I think the current viewer is very educated, visually speaking, he knows how to distinguish between genres and is capable of enjoying this type of combination. It was not something I had planned, but as I prepared the different chapters, I almost unconsciously began to give each of them a different tone, to maintain the dramatic tension and the thriller of mystery that remain in all of them. In the end, that spontaneous decision has given the series an identity that differentiates it from the rest ”, he recalls.
The complex world we live in, increasingly close to science fiction and dominated by climate catastrophes, the coronavirus, Mark Zuckerberg’s promise to create an alternate universe and the unfounded fear of a great global blackout, expands the possibilities of storytellers like Kim Jee-woon. To prepare the story that he develops in the Apple TV + series, the director investigated in the field of neuroscience, with the help of a specialist and pioneer in the field, Dr. Jaeseung Jeong. “I was surprised to see that the story we told in Dr. Brain it is plausible, that it is possible to enter other people’s brains. There are experiments that show that, in some way, brain waves can be synchronized and memories can be transferred from one being to another ”, he comments.
An Oscar actor
Actor Lee Sun-kyun, also seen in movie theaters around the world for the Oscar winner Parasites (2019), describes his character, Sewon, as “a family man, despite initial appearances.” Despite his recent success on the big screen, the South Korean is a television star in his country, where he has starred in medical dramas, lawyer series and romantic comedies for the last 15 years. His character of Sewon takes a complete turn from what he has done so far, a change that parallels that of television fiction in his country. “The arrival of on-demand content through the platforms of streaming It has also meant a qualitative leap in the productions here, “says the interpreter, who feels” the pressure to meet the expectations “that are awakening productions such as Dr. Brain, shot from the beginning to be seen by a global audience.
Lee finds several reasons for the growing success of South Korean popular culture. “One of them is because it is something that is new and refreshing for the rest of the world. The Western viewer can always find something to identify with in our stories, as South Korean creators in turn receive a Western influence that they then adapt to Asian culture. This is how the circle closes ”, says the actor.
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