Sunday, September 2, 2012

Big Disappointment

Well, the title says it all, really.  I stuck through to the bitter end.  Let me be clear, this was no Mary Stayed Out All Night level of suckitude, but I really expected more out of the Hong Sisters. 

You know what this felt like?  As though they had written up notes for the characters and plotlines but something happened and they had to pull in a ghost writer.  Because it just did not feel like their show.  It was  I don't blame them for trying something new, but it didn't work and I hope that going forward there were lessons learned from this.  A lot of people thought Best Love/Greatest Love was just...too much (Not me! But people. Out there.  In the interwebs.) Maybe they responded to that criticism by pulling back too much. 

Let's face it, Gong Yoo is awesome but he can't carry the weight of the entire show.  But darn he was cute. 

So onward and upward.  I wrapped up Protect the Boss.  I can recommend that drama for people who are just looking for something pleasant.  There's not a lot of angst and the characters are really likeable. It was a nice change and I'm glad I watched it.

Right now I'm all about Faith and Haeundae Lovers and am heavily drawn to Arang and the Magistrate. My schedule will probably be ramping up again soon so I just don't know if I have the time.  So many dramas... 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

What Are You Watching?

I haven't posted in a while.  Real life has gotten in the way and I am seriously behind on my dramas.  Queen In-hyun's Man/The Queen and I is seriously tempting me to start.  Crazy!  I can't even manage to watch the dramas already on my list. But how can I resist the drama that caused the infamous Fan Meeting to End All Fan Meetings?    I need a day that I can do some serious marathoning. 

Big is a lot of fun, if not the cracktastic rollercoaster ride you normally see from the Hong Sisters.  Admittedly, a lot of the time it coasts on Gong Yoo's charisma and abs.  I Do, I Do I'm really enjoying, even though I don't get the romantic pay off there that I get from Big Protect the Boss I'm really lagging on and I'm still too traumatized by King 2 Hearts to pick City Hunter back up again. 

How about you guys?  What are you watching?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Full House Wrap-Up

Full House is an older drama, from 2004.  It stars Rain as actor Lee Young-Jae and Song Hye-kyo as aspiring writer Han Ji-Eun.   

The first few episodes of this drama were really hard for me to take.  The premise is ridiculous in that the lead character gets scammed out of her house and all her money and possessions by her best friends but does not put them in jail because they are going to have a baby.  This all happens in the first episode so I'm not spoiling anything by telling you this, just giving you a heads up because if that sort of scenario is likely to make the top of your head fly off in a rage you may want to avoid this drama.

I'm putting in a jump because this is long.  Mild spoilers follow...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I Do, I Do (through episode 4)

This drama is really unusual.  At least, maybe, my reaction to it is unusual because it may just be me.  But I'm not really feeling the love line but I am completely invested in the two female leads.  

A lot of K-dramas have trouble with the heroines.  Sometimes they are nothing more than a cardboard cut out that reacts to the hero but we have trouble understanding what motivates them or why they are feeling what the audience is told they feel.  And as for the B female lead, well usually she's just a crazy, clingy chick who puts the E in Emotional Disorder. 

The reason I'm digging I Do, I Do is that both women are becoming very compelling in their own right, away and apart from the male leads and their story lines, particularly when they are together. A lot of this is the writing, but I think you really have to credit the actresses, Kim Sun-ah and Lim Soo-hyang.

Spoilers after the jump...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Geek Post #2: It's Taboo

Language is a mirror that reflects the culture that produces it.  

In George Orwell’s 1984, one of the goals of Big Brother is to reduce vocabulary because a broad vocabulary can convey complex thought.  If you don’t want people to think, limit their ability to communicate.

Part of the complexity that language communicates is the history of a people and the way they think, for example the taboos that they have embraced.   A common taboo among humans is left-handedness.  

About 10% of the world population are left-handed.  Apparently that’s just the right number to freak history right the heck out because it’s a taboo that is extremely common in languages around the world.  

This is kind of long, so the rest of the post is after the jump...

Too. Many. Dramas.

I'm watching 5 dramas.  Drama overload.  There aren't enough hours in the day.  

City Hunter I haven't watched since a certain event in King2Hearts because the drama is hurtling toward its endgame and I'm still traumatized from K2H.  If anything bad happens I can't take it.  So rom-coms it is! I'll come back to it because it's really good but I've got to be ready for it. 

Protect the Boss I'm really enjoying, but it's been spinning its wheels the last couple of episodes so I picked up Full House thinking I wasn't going to watch anything currently airing and I wanted to see something a little more old school. 

Foolish, foolish Penny.

I already posted about I Do, I Do.  I've been totally sucked in because I want to see how the drama between the A and B female leads plays out.

And then there is Big.  I was feeling some ambivalence but it's the Hong Sisters and Gong Yoo so it's not like I could stay away.  Plus I really liked Lee Min-jung in Boys Over Flowers (She played Ha Jae-kyung.  Am I the only person who was upset that she didn't get the guy?  I actually liked Ha Jae Kyung more than Geum Jan-di and thought that Lee Min-ho had a ton more chemistry with Lee Min-jung than Ku Hye-sun. But that's another story...) Anyway....Gong Yoo is killing me playing a teenage boy (*waves hands* "Whatever!") and his post army body is....killing me in a completely different way.

(Dear Gong Yoo,
I'm sorry for objectifying you.  I know it is wrong.  But the army was very, very good to you.  And everyone else.  The end.


So, yeah, it's Drama City around here.  Sigh!  Can you tell I'm really, really happy?

P.S.  We need to talk about the person responsible for Rain's wardrobe in Full House.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cyrano Dating Agency

So if Perfect Couple was an example of B grade fluff, Cyrano Dating Agency is bringing its A game.  

Cyrano Dating Agency stars Lee Min-jung (who will be in the upcoming Big with Gong Yoo), Uhm Tae-woong, Park Shin-hye, and Daniel Choi as unemployed stage actors who decide to use their drama skills to help the lovelorn win their hearts' desire.It's basically a modern retelling of Cyrano De Bergerac, only instead of letters they are using high tech surveillance equipment.

First of all, the cinematography and the set design is lovely.  The set for their home base in an old theater has all of these lovely warm tones and antique theater props.  The soundtrack is perfectly understated as well.  Here's a video of the song that features prominently in the plot line:

AGNES BALTSA - Aspri méra ke ya mas

Like the song, there is a certain dreamy quality to the film and it's not a fast mover.  This is one you just kind of sit back and go with the flow on.

The cast works well together, the plot isn't wholly unexpected if you know the source material but the journey is a pleasant one and the angst isn't overwhelming.  In fact there is a definite sweetness to it that I enjoyed a great deal. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Top 10 Hints You Might Watch Way Too Many K-dramas

1.     Your husband leaves a love note in your lunch and you grade it and give it back to him.

2.     You want to name the family’s new puppy Seung-gi.

3.     You start to wonder what your husband would look like with an asymmetrical haircut.

4.    You avoid commercials like the plague, but find yourself looking up your favorite k-drama star’s CFs on Youtube and now you’re measuring your kitchen for a kimchi refrigerator.

5.     Ramen has become a major part of your diet.

6.     You have a sudden urge to buy a Galaxy Note.

7.     Your sister is upset because the school play is Twelve Angry Men. Your advice is to pretend to be a boy to land a role because this WILL TOTALLY WORK. 

8.     Your mother-in-law gives you birthday money and you think this is her subtle way of telling you to go study overseas.

9.     You are convinced that everyone has cancer.

10.   You almost failed high school Spanish but now have a Korean vocabulary at least as good as an average Korean two-year-old.

Committing to I Do, I Do

The promos for this drama were weird and honestly a little off-putting so I didn't think I was going to watch it in spite of the fact that I love Kim Sun-ah.
See. Weird.
I mean, this show has SHOES!!11!!! Shoes! And the ladies love shoes, amirite? We want to make sure that every promo features the shoes because SHOES!!!


I'm not all that into fashion or shoes, nor am I all that drawn to noona-killer plotlines, so I figured I'd give this one a pass.  I'm not even sure what made me watch the first episode. 

But, you know, it's pretty good.  It's fluffy, but there's some interesting stuff going on here, too.  I don't want to post spoilers, so I'm going to stick to the most general points.

More than anything, the plot really picked up momentum when the B lead was introduced.   Yeom Na-Ri (played by Lim Soo-hyang) is the young and ambitious daughter of the company CEO.  But she has her own drive to succeed as she is the illegitimate daughter of his mistress.  She has impeccable credentials but no real world experience.  She makes the rookie mistake of trying to dominate Hwang Ji-An (Kim Sun-ah), her sunbae, rather than learn from her. It makes for a great antagonism that has nothing to do with a man. 

Also, ignore that picture up there, because Park Geon-hyeong is the B male lead and he is sex-on-a-stick.  If he and Kim Sun-ah dance the tango in this I will probably spontaneously combust. 

The male lead actor, Lee Jang-woo is fine.  He does have some chemistry with Kim Sun-ah (but she is like Ha Ji-won in that I challenge an actor to not have chemistry with her.)  I think acting opposite Kim Sun-ah will make him improve over time. 

If I could make a K-drama wish, it would be that A-chick ends up with B-dude and A-dude ends up with B-chick.  I will be shocked if this actually happens. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

King 2 Hearts Wrap Up

Oh, Show.  Why did you do this to me?  At times you were some of the best TV ever, other times you were so painful to watch I literally cringed.  


Spoilers behind the jump...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Big Excitement

Okay, as more and more promo materials come out I am getting more and more excited about Big. Coming from a place of ambivalence I'm starting to look forward to June 4.   From what I understand it will be a situation where the body of Gong Yoo's doctor character will be inhabited by a teenager's soul with the added complications of the doctor's fiancee and the teen's girlfriend.  The inherent complications of this should be a fount of both comedy and drama.

I'm particularly interested to see how the Hong Sisters will handle the body situation.  Is the doctor "dead"?  Has his soul moved on?  And is the teen's body in a coma or has it died as well?  Also, who has a better claim, the fiancee of the body or the girlfriend of the soul?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Love

I finally saw the movie that this video is referencing.  My Love came out in 2007 and stars a lot of people you are probably familiar with:  Uhm Tae-woong (Equator Man), Jung Il-woo (Flower Boy Ramen Shop), Choi Kang-hee (Protect the Boss) among many more.  It's got that whole Love, Actually cast of thousands, multiple intertwining stories thing going on.  

It does a good job of balancing the sweet with the poignant and even when it's sad it offers hope.  I can handle sad if there is hope.  I can't really say more than that.  A movie of this type, being a series of vignettes more so than a story, there's not a lot for me to talk about without revealing plot points.  But I do recommend it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

An Ode to the STP

Oh, K-drama, where would you be without your OTPs, your UST, your HEAs?  "What are you talking about?" you ask. I'm talking about One True Pairing (the main couple), Unresolved Sexual Tension and Happily Ever Afters.

But what I really want to talk about are the STPs of the world of K-drama.  The Secondary True Pairing.  This is the duo that is overshadowed by the epic TRUE LOVE of the main couple. But the STP is the workhorse of K-drama.  They are not used in every drama. In fact I wish they were used more because their appearance, when done well, means that the drama is buttressed when the OTP is wallowing in angst because of a Love Triangle or to provide a counterpoint to the OTP's love story by offering a different take on What Love Is.  

So this is the first in what will probably be a series on my favorite STPs.  I'm going to start with Dong-ah and Manager Kim of Wild Romance.  This drama had terrible ratings and understandably so.  It started out so uneven and with characters so unlikable that it was difficult to get attached.  The drama really did improve as it went on, and I plan on a separate post about it one day, but for today I want to concentrate on Dong-ah and Kim.

Im Joo-eun really carried this relationship and pretty much stole every scene she was in.  As the porn-obsessed eccentric land-lady Dong-ah she provided encouragement and support to the main female character with a string of one-liners that were delivered with a restraint that leant them more weight.  Dong-ah could very well have been a totally over the top character, but in Im Joo-eun's hands she became a sweet, damaged character that reached a surprising level of poignancy in a drama that all too often veered into full throttle mode.

Kang Dong-ho's Manager Kim is another in the long line of k-drama boy-robots but he reacts to Dong-ah's eccentricity with an exasperation tinged with attraction that is charming. 

What I loved most about this couple is that there is a physical attraction (and goodness knows Dong-ah talks about sex enough) but their relationship is more of a meeting of the minds.  It provides a nice counterpoint to our two main leads who are united in their belligerent stupidity.  Dong-ah and Manager Kim are the brains behind the operation and they are the ones who make most of the breakthroughs in the drama's mystery arc.  Dong-ah knows how to manage Kim by appealing to his business sense and watching her manipulate him into a relationship is cute because you know he's not really resisting all that hard.
Yeah, she's making him put on her false eyelashes.

And the final scene between them made me look at hanboks in a Whole New Way. So there's that.

Perfect Couple

2007 action rom-com starring Hyun Young and Lee Dong-wook. 
This movie is pure candy-coated popcorn.  There are lots of cute, funny moments strung together with some action scenes and enough bare bones of a plot that you have a reason to root for the hero.  

You know that movie that you've seen in 10 minute snips simply because every time it's on cable you find yourself watching it and the only reason you've seen the whole thing is because they play it so much.  This is that movie. 

Reasons to Watch:  Lee Dong-wook spends most of the movie angry.  He is, like, the hottest pissed-off guy ever.  So the director said, "You know, I think we're going to play to that strength."  So the movie knows exactly what it is and doesn't try to pretend that it's something more.  It is B-grade fluff and it goes with it.  Also, Hyun-Young has great comic timing and isn't afraid to be ridiculous. Plus she has a cartoon character voice that you will either love or hate. Personally, I thought it added to the comedy.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

King 2 Hearts Episodes 17 and 18

Don't go into this post expecting organized thoughts or deep insight.  After episode 18 ended I was left babbling incoherently in a corner and I typed.... something. It's all a fog at this point.

Spoilers after the jump...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Protect the Boss (through episode 8)

Okay, I admit it.  My first impression of Protect the Boss as a Secret Garden knock-off was wrong, wrong wrong.  There are some similarities but what really matters is how it all plays out and this is definitely its own show.  

Spoilers after the jump...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Innocent Steps

One of my all-time favorite movies is Strictly Ballroom, so when I saw the synopsis for this I was sold. 
It stars Moon Geun-young and Park Geon-hyeong.  She's channeling her Mary character from Mary Stayed Out All Night a little bit in this one.  She's got the innocent waif thing DOWN.  In this case, she's an ethnic Korean from China in danger of human trafficking and Park Geon-hyeong is the best ballroom dancing instructor in Korea who is recovering from a leg injury and trying to find the will to dance again.  

The romance in this is incredibly sweet and the soundtrack is awesome.  I'm not familiar with Park Geon-hyeong's other work but he and Moon Geun-young do a great job with the choreography.  The angst is good and serves the story well without being too over the top.  I also liked the character arc that both the main characters go through; they both change for the better and I felt the happy ending was earned.

The story itself is pretty simple, there's no deep message here, but I liked the movie a lot and I would definitely watch it again.

Tropes that sucked me in:  Contract marriage, forced living situation, ugly duckling turned swan (though in this case it was more clumsy duckling turned graceful swan).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

100 Days With Mr. Arrogant

Okay, I thought this was really funny.  It stars Ha Ji-won and Kim Jae-won. This came out way back in 2004 and the role is hugely different from anything else I've seen Ha Ji-won in as she's playing a high school senior (though she still gives the stink eye like nobody's business).  Also, is there anyone that she doesn't have sizzling chemistry with?  I swear they could cast her opposite a chair and we would all be convinced she and that chair are the OTP.

It is also my opinion that you should watch this movie for the scene where Ha Ji-won does a Sailor Moon impersonation.  It's worth it. Trust.

Kim Jae-won plays the rom-com staple of Rich Jerk, although I think it's obvious from the beginning that he's manipulating the situation because he likes her.  He holds her responsible for a ding on his car bumper and she agrees to become his slave to work off the debt.  And hilarity ensues!

Goony stuff:  They call each other Master and Slave. Yeah. I'm not going to touch that one.  Also there is some gross out humor that made me actually gag at one point. 

But I really got annoyed by the WTF ending.  I don't even know what happened there, or who tacked that on and thought it would be a good idea.   My theory is that they thought they were making her too wimpy and so decided to switch things up to....I don't know.  But I didn't think it was true to the character and the story they had been telling up to that point at all. 

Tropes that sucked me in:  Contract Relationship, First Love, Sassy Female Lead

Korean Rom Coms

I've been taking a little break from my regular dramas because I've been on a Korean rom-com binge.  I'll talk a little about what I've been watching and my opinions.  I'm not going to do a movie review because that really isn't my thing.  People who write those always seem to have a much better handle on storytelling through film than I have.  I just have opinions.

She's On Duty -  Wow, talk about your missed opportunities. Kim Sun-ah, Gong-yoo, you'd think this was made in heaven. Instead it just felt flat. 
It's not that the leads didn't have chemistry.  There were a couple of scenes where you could see that they did.  I think the problem lay with the murky storytelling and the directing.  The rhythm was off and it just seemed to jump from scene to scene but without any emotional weight, if that makes any sense.  It was like: this happens, then this happens, then this happens. Also Gong-yoo was tragically (TRAGICALLY) underused. Sigh!  Though there are some fun fight scenes.

Tropes that sucked me in:  High School all over again, secret identities, bad-ass chicks. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Why I Love Show and Want To Have Its Babies

Seriously, it's ridiculous how much this show reduces me to a squealing fan-girl. I'm sure it sickens you all. I love how Shi-kyung stays loyal and trusts Jae-ha’s motivations even when he’s hurt by his actions. 
I love how Mom is so gentle and loving but can still open up a can of whip-ass.

I love that the supporting characters are just as well written as the main two and that in many ways this has become an ensemble drama simply due to the strength of the writing and the AMAZING work of the supporting cast and the PD.

I love how vulnerable Shi-kyung and Jae-shin are with each other.

I love that I’m seeing Lee Seung-gi mature as an actor right before my eyes.  He is without a doubt performing on a whole new level with this drama.  
 I love that the main female character is truly a strong lead and that even when the drama descended into angst between herself and Jae-ha, we got some weepy scenes--but she never seemed like she had a personality transplant.  And the look on her face at the end of episode 16?  Is it next week yet?

I love that all the women in the show are strong in their own unique ways.        
 The main couple has one of the sweetest relationships I’ve seen in a long time and they’ve EARNED it.  

King 2 Hearts episode 16

So is it just me or are people in one of two camps about this drama?  There is the "meh" camp that just doesn't see the appeal.  And then there are the people who LOVE IT WITH THE FIRE OF A THOUSAND SUNS. 

I'll give you one guess as to which camp I fall into.

I finally watched episode 16 and I'm currently an incoherent mess.  It's lucky for me all K-dramas aren't this good simply because I would have a heart attack.

I'll try to write a longer post when I can come up with something besides "Squeeeeee!!!"

Monday, May 7, 2012

Protect the Boss

Okay, whatever reservations I had are gone.  The story has got me hook, line and sinker.  This is mostly thanks to No Eun-seol.  She's awesome and she doesn't take any guff.  Sweet and tough heroine? I am so there. Show, please, please stay this good.  I'm on episode 6 so things could still derail.  I'm looking at you, Lie to Me.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

King2Hearts Episodes 13-14

I really like the rhythm the show has going.  Wednesdays are the lull that provides character development and moves the characters around to where they need to be when the storm hits on Thursdays.  Then Thursdays are punch, punch, punch.  Basically Wednesdays lull you into a false sense of security so that Thursdays can traumatize you  leave you trying to catch your breath for the next week. 

Spoilers after the jump...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Protect the Boss

I've just started this one.  I'm on episode 3 and I've got to say that the workplace drama scenario is really working for me.  I particularly find that the heroine, Eun-seol, is one that I can readily identify with.  She doesn't have the best background or education, but she's trying to make her way and carve out a career in spite of not really having solid goals beyond "get a good job" "pay the bills".  Like I said, easily identifiable.

I'm not loving the hero, Ji-heon, quite as much. He comes of as a bit of a  Joo-won/Secret Garden  retread, albeit more childish and even more neurotic (did not think that was possible).  The drama seems to have a lot of heart, though and I'm looking forward to where it's taking me.  The two leads don't have as much chemistry as I'd like, but what they do have I'm enjoying.

It's a good balance against the darkness of City Hunter, at any rate.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Just For Funsies

I put this blog up mostly because I am the only person I know who watches K-drama and I wanted a place where I could talk (and talk, and talk, and talk) about the stuff I'm watching.  I figured it would be tucked away in an obscure corner of the internet, so imagine my surprise (and delight!) when people actually showed up and read the stuff I was prattling on about.  

This is my diagram of the visitors this site has seen in the past few weeks.  Russia, you guys rock! You make up the majority of my visitors. How cool is that?

So many cool people from so many cool places.  I know that some have stumbled here by accident, but some of you actually like what you see  because I actually have people following the blog in RSS feeds.  Sweet!!!

 So I'm really flattered and I hope that you guys will feel welcome and start posting in the comments because I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Funniest Search String:  Hawaiian Bed Wetting
I don't even want to know.  I don't think that dude found what he was looking for here.