Following Janggeum’s Dream to Another Series

I’ve been consistently posting a Janggeum’s Dream episode commentary roughly every six days since mid-January. My original plan for Janggeum’s Dream was to watch all 26 episodes, then move on to another series (Strawberry Marshmallow). However, when I reached roughly episode ten of Janggeum’s Dream, I happened upon the official Korean site for the series, and saw some screenshots from episode 26. Oh no, spoilers! All the girls move up a rank! I put that scene out of my mind until I reached episode 26 of the series: not only was Chang-I still at Japanese Apricot rank, but Janggeum and Geum-yeong both demoted themselves to this lowest apprentice court lady ranking, whereas before they were Mum class. Only Yeonsaeng and Yeong-ro remained at a higher class, the middle-ranked Orchid class.

Checking the screenshots at the official site again, I found they were definitely not what I had seen. It turns out there’s a whole second series!

As far as I know, the second series is not out on DVD yet, but I hope it’s released with English subtitles so I can buy it up. In the meantime, I went into the official site and put out 4000 won (about US$4.40) for a one day VOD pass.

The whole VOD turned out to be a disaster. The DRM meant I had to use Internet Explorer on Windows. That’s well enough as I have Windows Vista on my laptop, so the required ActiveX components would be installed and used there. Unfortunately, the constant buffering, and re-buffering when seeking to another location in the file, and re-buffering after pausing and unpausing, made it impossible to watch.

I decided to try watching in Windows Media Player, but that kept asking for my login information to re-authenticate my rights to watch the video, every five minutes. Re-authentication meant the video would start at the beginning again. I decided I could at least download the MMS stream. Unfortunately, WMP was unable to recognize these files (although it would still successfully get the DRM after a login prompt for me to fill out).

From there, a good deal of work went into tweaking the source to some software so I could grab the authentication key when files authenticated, then I could use that with another program to strip the DRM and file encryption.

What’s the end result? A non-DRM‘d file which I can watching without it freezing; I can watching without it starting over; I can watch without it re-requesting authentication; I can watch on my commutes to and from work rather than at home when I have many other things to do; and I can watch in something other than the super-slow Windows Vista on my laptop, instead watching in Kubuntu Linux on my laptop.

Back when I worked my way through two series of Ojamajo Doremi (no commentary written on those), I saved money by buying the official Taiwanese release, which came with Chinese and Japanese audio, and Chinese subtitles embedded on the video. While a good amount of understanding the events of these episodes was seeing what was going on, my knowledge of the Japanese language played at least an equal, if not greater, role in understanding who each person was and what was happening in each episode. With Janggeum’s Dream, series two, I won’t have that. No English subtitles, and no more knowledge of the Korean language than a few words (“however”, “thank you”, “I see”, etc.).

Trying to understand the second 26 episodes of Janggeum’s Dream will be difficult, but I’ll try my best. Unfortunately, Korean-to-English translators tend to give me gibberish, so translating episode titles will be rather difficult. I might have to put the Korean titles in my commentaries. I might just have to allow comments on these commentaries, just in case there are any fans of the Janggeum’s Dream happening upon my commentaries. Maybe one of them will be able to help explain anything I don’t understand.

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