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Great Queen Seondeok 1 [DVD] [2009] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Region 1 encoding. (This DVD will not play on most DVD players sold in the UK [Region 2]. This item requires a region specific or multi-region DVD player and compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
Note: you may purchase only one copy of this product. New Region 1 DVDs are dispatched from the USA or Canada and you may be required to pay import duties and taxes on them (click here for details) Please expect a delivery time of 5-7 days.

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Product details

  • Language: Korean
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 7
  • Classification: NR (Not Rated) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B002PFER0C
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 417,475 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

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For the best audio and video quality with the original broadcast English subtitles, look for 'Studio: MBC America' under Product Details. MBC America is the licensed distributor for The Great Queen Seondeok. MBC America works from the original MBC-TV master recordings and hires professional translators for the broadcast subtitles, which are also used for the DVD release. Each episode runs about 60 minutes. Volume 1 contains Episodes 1-20; Volume 2 contains Episodes 21-43; Volume 3, Episodes 44-62. On a personal note, I've subtitled many Korean programs but Queen Seondeok is my favorite historical drama. Fans of romance, action and intrigue will not be disappointed.

D. Bannon was the subtitler for the MBC America broadcast and DVD releases of The Great Queen Seondeok Vol. 1, Great Queen Seondeok 2 (8pc) (Sub Box) and The Great Queen Seondeok Vol. 3. He discusses subtitling Queen Seondeok in The Elements of Subtitles: A Practical Guide to the Art of Dialogue, Character, Context, Tone and Style in Subtitling
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars 22 reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, addicting, & worth every penny 29 Dec. 2009
By hanshanmtn - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is volume 1 of a 3 volume dvd set of the TV series airing in 2009-2010 in the US. This is a top quality south korean tv drama which is receiving rave reviews globally. This month (dec '09), Volume 2 of this set has just come out... As soon as Vol 3 comes out I'm getting it too!

This story is extremely addictive! - I warn you it will make you stay up till the wee hours if you are not extremely disciplined. At time of this writing the US broadcast of the weekly series is probably somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd volume. I bought the 1st volume because I missed the earlier episodes, and because it's well worth owning and sharing with your family. As with other MBC, KBS or SBS historical korean dramas of this decade, this video set is clearly and expertly translated with english subtitling (including all idioms and colloquialisms to english equivalents). Compared to american tv historical dramas, this as with similar kdramas is more addicting, higher production quality, more accurate historical period recreation, and MUCH longer lasting enjoyment. Plenty of eye candy of all types, characters with depth, intellgent script, interwoven plot lines, cliffhangers, martial arts fights and wars (not gross), political intrigue (not dry), family and romance themes, country and individual economic struggles, etc.

Yes, as with american dramas, these script writers take many liberties with the historical true story in order to flesh out historical gaps and to make a riveting plot line - and they succeed - it's such a great story we really don't care - we just enjoy the story... and then many non-korean viewers get very interested to learn about the actual history behind the fictional drama! So we learn the real history one way or the other.) It has overall excellent production, costuming, historical period re-creation, video quality (not HD or blu-ray but with excellent quality flatpanel tv, dvd player and a monster ultra hdmi cable (yes, brand DOES make a difference - you get what you pay for in signal quality), this dvd set is equivalent in video clarity, color depth, etc., to my blu-ray discs).

Thoughts on k-dramas in general (some US amazon customers may be unfamiliar with this genre):

I find that the good kdramas are well worth watching - and worth owning, too. And others who would ordinarily not be interested in foreign video and not have any desire to watch subtitled foreign dramas find themselves hooked after 1 or 2 episodes... what's more, people find that typically women, men and kids all enjoy these - especially the historical dramas, which are very relevant human stories... These are not "chick flicks", they are designed as intelligent family entertainment.

Other historical drama greats are Dae Jang Geum (the one most people new to kdramas start on), Hae Shin ('Emperor of the Sea' about Jang Bo Go), Admiral Yi Sun Shin (famous humane leader and military strategist that saved korea from two samurai invasions in the late 1500's; military historians study his activities today, many judge him as better than Lord Nelson), Sangdo (The Way of Trade), Hur Jun (famous historical doctor), Damo (female policewoman), etc. Many of these are available in Region 1 for the US market. You can often get them at amazon... if not, then look at hanbooks or yesasia.

This addiction got me to get a second dvd player for playing all region dvd's, and it was well worth it - besides, it's good to have a backup. The one I have I got at amazon (search "multi region dvd player"). It's a great player and does everything - and more - see my review on it (Pioneer Dv610av-s Silver Multi Region Code Free Hdmi 1080p Upconverting DVD Player with SACD and DVD-Audio Playback). Has various type output connectors. Plays my european and asian movie DVD's just fine, and of course all american DVD's as well. Also plays CD's and has other neat features. Bookmarks the location of where I stopped at, too. Most foreign movies and tv dramas are not yet coming out on blu-ray, though that will probably change soon... so far, blu-ray capable multi-region dvd players are WAY overpriced, but perhaps that too, will change soon. Not necessary to have blu-ray for very fine video playback quality on regular DVDs, if you have high quality video equipment.

Postscript to my comments on this video set:
1). One nit: One disc, one spot on my Volume 1 set, during episode 2 got stuck partway through, but it was fine at the next episode, and everything else played fine on this set of the first 20 episodes. This hangup happened at exactly the same spot on the disc on both my Pioneer and my Samsung excellent DVD players, so something was wrong with the disc burn there, I guess. But I'm so happy with the entire set of DVD's and these are not always easy to get (since not everyone sells them and they go out of print after a year or so, with english subtitling), that I will overlook it just this once (if it happened more, I'd send the set back for a swap copy). I didn't miss out on key parts of the story, and if I was curious I'd go online to see the tidbit I missed... but it wasn't in a key part anyway.

2). WOW I've been watching Queen Seondeok Volume 1 dvd set and it's a very high quality video, visually, when you watch it using high quality equipment. WOW it really pops!! - seems like the filmmakers really made this a high-quality film, technically. I'm wowed by it, can't say it enough. The video and sound quality of these discs, using my multi region Pioneer DV-610AV- player is really fantastic! Surprisingly, it's equal to the visual and sound quality played with blu-ray discs, using my high-quality top chip blu-ray (or upconverting for regular DVD's) player, displayed over quality monster HDMI cable to my Kuro Elite plasma tv. I watched same Queen Seondeok disc on both. All the eye candy costumes, indoor and outdoor scenery (day and night) etc. really pop in color richness and visual detail, down to hair, sweat, whiskers, various skin tones, various textures and the costume and set details. So in terms of visual & sound quality, using a quality upconverting 1080 DVD player, quality HDMI cable and fine TV, this DVD set really really delivers!

Comments on kdramas generally, relevant for this Queen Seondeok set and others, for US & western audiences:

Many of the kdramas can be found online for free if you can stand low picture quality and watching an hour at a time on a pc, which I hate. Top-rated kdrama stories such as this one are so well made that it's really really worth watching them on your nice big TV at home. Try it - it's amazing how dim and flat and awful the online version is compared to getting it on broadcast TV or on DVDs. If you get them on disc, be sure to avoid formats that are not actually DVD - the other formats are not fine video quality, but cheap recordings of originals... you may save money but for non dvd quality you might as well watch on the pc... i.e., don't bother. You can usually purchase them new from amazon, amazon marketplace (e.g. videocity), or hanbooks or yesasia; note many of the english-subtitled ones (except for Dae Jang Geum) go out of print after a year or so and become hard or impossible to find. Sometimes you can rent the dvds for cheap at korean-owned markets that rent movie discs as part of their business - but make sure these have subtitles! Most of the clientele of these stores are native korean speakers so often their dvds don't include the subtitling.

Kdramas are done both as historical dramas, and as modern dramas and soaps. But even the soaps are better than american soaps - even people who hate american soaps can enjoy some kdrama soaps.

Hopefully the american makers will eventually learn something from this.

Why the local or national nonprofit stations in the US haven't glommed onto these videos is a mystery... Not everyone in the US has access to the broadcast channels that play the historical or modern kdramas.

Why South Korea on the whole doesn't market these products more actively, effectively and widely to western audiences, we don't know either. Electronics and cars are not the only quality export products of south korea. These video dramas are an export market in themselves that have growth potential; as they are popular globally, they have already generated an increase in world tourism to korea and its historical sites. The US has a number of k-drama fan clubs (chicago, philadelphia, california) and scattered fans around the country, and you can find their websites online. The korean tv networks have on occasion attempted to tap into the US interest, but not in any effective way nor with any effective followup... Guess they think we are at heart ignorant barbarians. All that does is perpetuate the non-awareness.

Yet, these shows are a great way to stimulate an interest or at least awareness of korean culture, both modern and historical (even if the historical dramas are heavily fictionalized versions)... Pre-western Korean history is not usually taught as part of world history in the US school system, in spite of the rich melting pot that makes up the US population... Most americans are woefully ignorant of non-european, non-american world history. This is a rich lode to tap for great story-making, at the very least, if not also cross-cultural interest.

More frustratingly, some fine historical kdramas are not fully translated - apparently the makers didn't feel it worth the investment to subtitle the complete story for western audiences... (but since they don't market their products effectively to western audiences they are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy!). For example, the western version of Admiral Yi Sun Shin is a smaller DVD set than the original - they only translated the strategic, political and military story parts and not the other human interest parts of the story into english. They did a very good job of selection/cut-down here, so that the subtitled set of discs views as a complete and excellent, and extremely captivating story - - but, we all wonder what juicy bits of the story we are missing out on. Imagine if a story of Lord Nelson, General Lee or Grant, George Washington, or other western notable chopped out a lot of their personal life? We'd all like to enjoy that part of the story, too - whether fictionalized gap-filling, or based on true events. And some great dramas aren't translated at all into english. Furthermore, there are many fine fictional and historical books that these kdramas are based on which are NOT translated into english. There's probably more chinese and japanese and indian works translated into english than south korean. C'mon, guys! Get with the times!! There's export money to be made here, and making the world aware of your country's cultural richness! Stop sticking your head in the sand!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best I've seen 21 Oct. 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is a great series, it has everything. The characters are excellent and the story has a lot of twists to keep you on the edge of your seat. Misil is so bad she is good. The woman who plays her Go Hyun Jung is so amazing, she plays the villainess to perfection. Really worth watching and entertaining. Looking forward to watching the next Volume.

And thanks to Amazon, the first dvds were defective and once reported they were replaced in days.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There are issues with these box sets 22 Mar. 2012
By L - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Queen Seon Deok is a captivating historical drama. The quality of MBC America's box sets is lacking though. Be sure to check the bottoms of your discs once you receive because many are filled with scratches. Boxes 2 and 3 have discs laying on top of each other in a digipak case, and these discs come out of their holders during shipment and end up rolling around in the box. Box 1 has plastic clips on the sides that hold the discs in place, and there are scratches on the bottom because of that. So be sure you are able to play your discs before the return period is up. I had to get a replacement 2-3 times. Also the info on Amazon should be updated, these only have English subtitles (no Spanish).

I guess MBC doesn't care about the quality of their items for Region 1. The packaging looks pretty, but it does not serve the basic function of holding all discs safely. The Korean Region 3 release has normal DVD cases like movies and I doubt they give those local customers scratched up DVDs. 5 stars for the show itself, a generous 2 stars for these box sets... I ended up ordering the Region 3 set from Korea and will eventually sell off the ones from MBC America. You even get a bonus disc in the R3 Korean set with extras like outtakes, etc...which are always fun to watch.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great series, bad discs 14 April 2012
By T. Ho - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I bought this series two years ago and loved it! The only problem I had with the discs was what one reviewer stated, that disc one got stuck part way through episode two, and all the rest of the discs played fine. A few months ago I sat down to watch the series again and now almost every disc will not play past the half way point! I have A LOT of DVDs and this has never happened. But there is good news! The entire series is available in a boxed set from Yesasia.com. It is the Korean release with English subtitles (which are pretty good)and is on sale for $230. I've only watched two discs so far but have had no problems. Apparently MBC Korea has something that MBC America does not... quality control! Almost forgot, there are extras on these discs (no subtitles) that include interviews, photo shoots and outtakes. UPDATE I finally got through the entire set and had no problem with any disc.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Korean period dramas, but DVD falls short. 19 Jun. 2011
By John816 - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I won't get into how great this series is as others have already done a fine job of that. I'll just say that after watching 20 episodes online I already decided I had to own the DVDs. Quite unlike other Korean period dramas, Queen Seon Duk, for a while, was like one long movie. And it was great. But then the first of a few lulls arrived and the series entered into soap opera mode killing its momentum. Fortunately the lulls don't last that long, but they are there. And I hate to say it but I don't feel the story did enough to justify why the hero of the show... should be the hero. That aside, this is easily my second favorite Korean period drama.

Now, as for the DVD's themselves. I was expecting them to be at least the same quality of Yes Asia Entertainment releases, especially considering their absurdly high price tag. But these official MBC discs fall somewhere between the Yes Asia quality standard and that of the cheap Hong Kong releases. What I noticed at first was the thin boxes. They didn't feel sturdy like YA Entertainment releases. They're thin and soft and kinda flimsy. I bought all three volumes and one box was dented, one plastic tray cracked and 2 discs were loose in the packaging. So far they play fine, but still, it's pretty annoying to dish out a hundred dollars and find that MBC is trying to save money by cramming as many discs as they can into one box.

The picture quality is not horrible (most of the time), but it's far from good. Or, again, far from being worth the price you have to pay. At times the image is grossly over-sharpened and hard to watch. This happens especially during interior scenes. A clearly visible "halo" is apparent along any edge in the picture. They went way overboard with trying to make the show look better that they wound up ruining it.

Some discs hold 2 episodes, but most hold 3 and it's then that the video compression really shows. Slow movement looks fine, but when things pick up with the fighting and battle scenes you clearly see grossly apparent pixelation and compression. I almost felt like I was back to watching them online again.

The DVD menu is annoying and unfriendly. Each screen takes too long to fade in. The menu doesn't tell you what episodes are on the disc. It just shows you the first episode broken up into 4 chapters. You need to click, click, click through a lot of "Next" buttons to get to the next episode. There are interlacing problems as the menu flicks up and down one pixel when you press buttons. For some reason the opening theme is only shown once at the front of each disc, and sometimes not at all. The closing credits aren't usually shown till the end of the last episode on the disc. Between each episode (in lieu of the opening theme) is a screen shot with the episode number. And this is kinda funny: it's in the "STAR WARS" font. If that weren't inappropriate enough, the font is also hard to read when numbers are shown. Nines look like zeroes and such.

Bottom line: great show. These MBC discs are far from high quality, but they are the best versions you'll be able to get unfortunately.
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