Tamna, the Island (MBC 2008)


Amongst the (male) expat population in Korea a new Korean tv series is making inroads: Tamna, the Island apparently finally portrays a relationship between a Western man and a Korean woman in some normal way, without either over- or understating the intercultural part of the relationship. It looks as if for some of these Western men the relieve of such a portrayal is immense, but without cynicism it can be said that the series is interesting to watch, even for Dutch people. Or perhaps especially for Dutch people.

When [W:Hendrik Hamel], a Dutch seafarer and employee of the [W:Dutch East India Company] (VOC), washed up on the shores of [W:Jeju-do], at that time named Tamna in Korean (while Korea wasn’t named Korea either in those days, but Chosun), in the year 1653, he could not have imagined that his plight, in highly (!) romanticed form, would one day be the inspiration of a tv series in which even a line of Dutch was being spoken.

Tamna, the Island screenshot from tv series
Tamna, the Island screenshot from tv series

The series have been given excellent coverage on English language blogs, with all sorts of perspectives on them. The most interesting perspective can be found here, wich is by the way simply an excellent blog overall, with a breathtaking number of highly interesting articles. Don’t miss the series where the Manchukuo army is linked to the militarization of the ROK in the 60’s (about which I had wondered myself, looking at the career of a lot of higher military officers in the ROKA in the era).

Luckily for me (I haven’t started my Korean language studies yet) someone has gone through the trouble of subtitling episodes 1 and 2, and at the look of it will soon subtitle episode three as well! These episodes can be found here.

Tamna, the Island screenshot from tv series
Tamna, the Island screenshot from tv series

One thing about this translation is the name of Jeju or Tamna in western circles: it is translated at “Calpert” but it is actually Quelpart, a name perhaps referring to a Dutch term for a specific type of ship. See the “Historical names” of the Jeju-do lemma on Wikipedia.

Alternatively you can also find the episodes with subtitles here, but I can’t install Veoh since I am running Windows 2003 Server, and Veoh will only install on XP or Vista. I don’t think this tv series is enough incentive to upgrade to Windows 2008 however…

Also, you can read about the episodes in full starting here, from which site I also “stole” some of these pictures. I do not have access to highres pictures of the tv series, nor do I have digital Korean tv, so taking screenshots is difficult for me here in the Netherlands. Hope they don’t mind, but in order to perhaps get them into a better mood: Dramabeans is also (like The Grand Narrative) simply a great site! (And that is actually true!)

The main Western actor in the series is French borne but raised mainly in Korea, which you can hear rather well when he tries to speak English. Admittedly, I would also have an accent while speaking English (but given the fact that Hamel was Dutch at least my accent would be more “historically accurate”…). The Dutch spoken is actually pronounced so badly I couldn’t really understand it except for some words. It starts with “wat een onzin” (literally: “what a nonsense”, as in “it doesn’t matter, no problem, don’t worry”), and then goes on: “In ieder geval, wil je (mijn?) (then couldn’t understand a term) zien, voordat ik word gek”. Which is incorrect Dutch, but it means “Anyway, do you want to see (my?)  (…?), before I go crazy”.  If you want to try to decipher the rest of the text, feel free at 7:50 in this YouTube excerpt from the first episode:

Here is episode 1 starting with part 1 (click on the link to get the rest of the relevant parts):

And here is episode 2:

Episodes 1, 2 and 3 can also be found via Viikii and Veoh, with or without subtitles.

Nothing really special but nice enough to waste your time on, I think!

This by the way, is what the replica of Hamel’s ship on present day Jeju island looks like (phew, at least a few pictures I didn’t steal from anyone, I took them myself in 2008):

Hamels ship on Jeju (2008)
Hamel's ship on Jeju (2008)
Hamels ship on Jeju (2008). I have no idea who the person in the picture is.
Hamel's ship on Jeju (2008). I have no idea who the person in the picture is.
Hamels ship on Jeju (2008)
Hamel's ship on Jeju (2008)

1 thought on “Tamna, the Island (MBC 2008)

  1. Thanks for the compliments, and thanks especially for links to the subtitled versions! I mentioned in the post of mine you link to that the thick Jeju dialect put me off watching it further, but I think I’ll continue now (with the Korean subtitles: I still want to study!).

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