Tag Archive | korean drama

Rewatch-Answer Me 1997

reply-1997Watching this show for the second time around is just solidifying for me how masterfully it was executed.  The characters are actually believable, tangible human beings.  In fact, they’re the kind of people you’d want to get a beer with at the pub on Friday night.  It has the same fresh breath of life that makes Coffee Prince feel so astoundingly real and pierce straight to the soul.

It struck me last night as I was sitting tearfully on the edge of my seat, breathlessly waiting for the events that I already knew were going to happen to gracefully unfold, that episode 5 has to be one of the most simultaneously heart wrenching and heart warming drama excerpts I have ever beheld.  It has a fluidity about it, a natrualness, rather than this chopped up overly dramatic, commercialistic, wheel spinning that entices you to find random projectiles to hurl at the T.V. screen.  It looks and feels like a real family that fights over real every day things like money, and grades, and spending too much time mooning over unattainable famous boys.  A family that loves each other enough to drive each other crazy, but also loves each other enough to come together in a time of crisis.  A wife that loves her husband so much that she’ll call the drama script writer 100 times just to get the ending that will make  him feel encouraged about his recovery.  A father that loves his daughter so much that even though she acts like spoiled baby, he’ll do her homework while he’s in the hospital because he can’t stand to think of her being hit by the teacher at school.  It’s plain, simple, humanistic beauty captured at its best, and I was soaking in every gloriously emotional second of it.

Seriously, if you have never taken the time to watch Answer Me 1997, I highly suggest that you do.  You won’t regret it!!  Especially if you are a 90s/early 2000s kid like me.  You just can’t beat the nostalgia with a stick.

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Currently Watching Gu Family Book and Jung Yi, Goddess of Fire

Watching two sageuks at once is quite an undertaking, but I’m enjoying it all the same.  However, though both are historical dramas, they really are two completely different shows.

Thoughts on Gu Family Book-

I have found that I’m a huge fan of the sageuk’s that infuse Korean legends of the super natural.  It gives a glimpse not only into their historical culture, but also their old superstitions and religion as well.  I’ve seen many animes and dramas alike that give their own unique spin to the legend of the nine tailed fox demon, and it’s always entertaining.  For those of you who have seen My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (Nine Tailed Fox) and loved the cuddly, fuzzy, human/spirit/fox that was Mi Ho, don’t expect it from Gu family book.  Daddy fox (Wol Yong) and jr fox (Kang Chi) both have a raging, demonic, blood thirsty side that they are desperately trying to contain.  Though Gu Family book may lean towards the campy side at times, I am still thoroughly enjoying it.  I think this type of drama has to have a little gooey melted cheese on top to add to the flavor yah know?

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Thoughts on Jung Yi, Goddess of Fire-

Okay, so I really like this drama overall, but I am finding that this is yet another sageuk that would have benefited from being a little shorter.  Sometimes less is more.  There’s only so much of the same situational drama over and over again that I can take before I start getting desensitized to it and I’m like *Yawn, ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ*.  That being said, I think it’s really interesting that Moon Geun Young took on two roles about women who were pioneers in the world of Korean art.  In Painter of the Wind she played the role of the first Korean woman to be a royal painter, likewise in this drama she is portraying the role of the first Korean woman to be a royal potter.  Both are based on real people in Korean history.  It really makes me like and respect her more as an actress because she’s choosing some dramas of substance, rather than all money making commercial regurgitation.

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Cheongdamdong Alice

Well it was bound to happen.  I watched a nice streak of really good dramas and then along came a dud.  I really wanted to like this one, as it stars Moon Geun Young, who is one of my favorite kdrama actresses, however, I just couldn’t reconcile with the ever mounding mediocrity as the show dragged on.

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So where do I start?  Well, I guess the first glaring reason that it never captured my full interest is the plot itself.  I just could not connect with it on any level.  Now I have watched some shallow kdramas in my day with not much more to offer than the mild amusement of an ever spinning wheel, but this one might take the cake.  I mean, there just wasn’t a solid leg to stand on.  The girl fell in love with him when she thought he was poor, so she wasn’t even really a gold digger, so what’s the big deal?  And even if she was a gold digger, if the two of them fell in love who cares?  I don’t know, all of the drama just seemed pointless.

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And then there is the major turn off of Cha Seung Jo the male lead having small penis syndrome.  Between his ridiculously weak and girly reaction to his first break up and his constant daddy issues I just couldn’t find him man enough to even be attractive in any way.  This may stem back to my personal skepticism of psychology and the over-diagnosis of psychological disorders in general, but that’s a whole different issue altogether.

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Overall, I am not going to recommend Alice as a show to watch, though I’m sure there are people who enjoyed it.  For me it was an eternal snore (and I literally fell asleep every time I turned it on) with lack luster characters and plot.  I give it a 2 out of 5.  Hopefully I’ll have better luck with my next drama!!

Can We Get Married?

Can We Get Married? for me was a show that I can only compare to picking a giant scab.  It’s painful, and yet because of some base instinct and uncontrollable itch I couldn’t leave it alone although I knew that the pain was only going to get worse and the wound would open up again.  I’m not even really sure that I liked any of the characters very much.  Most of them were terribly selfish people aside from the male lead, but he was such a spoiled mama’s boy that he got on my nerves as well.

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Though I found different reasons to dislike all of the characters, I couldn’t stop watching them tear each other to pieces.  I feel like this sick desire comes from the same place that makes reality TV such as The Bachelor and Honey Boo Boo so popular.  Although none of us want to admit it and hope to rise above it, there is some kind of dark urge inside humanity that tempts us to watch people in their worst states of conceit, hostility, and self preservation.

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I really did like that this show did eventually address the fact that marriage is between two individuals.  After all the ridiculous pissing matches and bickering, the two moms finally figured out that it wasn’t their place to tell their grown children whether or not to get married.  I have been on nosy, conniving mom overload recently so I was glad to finally see a show where the parents admitted their wrong doings and conceded to the will of the kids.  I guess that’s really one of the reasons that this show was so likable in one way for me, it was almost like a satire of the ridiculousness of family involvement in each other’s lives and the damage it can do.  Yet it also addressed the fact that in the end blood is blood.  We love our families no matter what shenanigans they may pull or how insane they may appear, because we know that (God forbid) we are going to have those moments sometimes too and we hope that they’ll forgive us when we do.

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I have to give CWGM credit for diving right into issues that seem to be controversial in Korea, such as infidelity in marriage and the ugliness of divorce.  It seems that it was their equivalent of an HBO drama because it also was also very frank about sex and had a lot of racy scenes to boot (at least by kdrama standards).  I started watching kdrama because I was tired of the all sex and no plot pattern in American television right now and Coffee Prince was the first real love story I had seen in a long time, but I do have to admit that deep down I am an American at the core and after watching drama after drama where they act like sex is a totally forbidden taboo and they are all somehow little angelic nuns (and constantly refer to Americans as kissing fanatics.  What’s up with that? lol), it’s nice to actually see someone consummate their love (or lust, however you want to interpret it :P)

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I really have to laugh at myself when reflecting back on this drama.  I was constantly either yelling at the TV or crying my eyes out at the utter hopelessness of it all, yet I just kept watching.  Why?  Because I have to admit that on some level I really enjoyed it, and it was just plain entertaining.  I give Can We Get Married? a 3.5 out of 5.  Definitely check it out if you are looking for a little sexy melodrama in your life :P.

I watched this drama on Hulu

For a synoposis, cast list, and more information visit http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Can_We_Get_Married%3F

Triple

When I first heard that Triple had the same writer/director team as Coffee Prince and also starred Lee Sun Gyun, I had to watch it immediately.  Upon starting it however, I found that it had a very different vibe from CP, despite the fact that there are quite a lot of similarities at first glance.  For example, the lead female character Lee Ha Ru has the same kind of fun filled free spirit and liveliness as Go Eun Chan.  The music runs along the same vein, incorporating both Western and Eastern classic rock and new age indie rock.  Each character has their own story that is somehow intertwined with the other characters and they all have genuine relationships comparable to those in Coffee Prince.  It is also filmed in the same naturalistic way, where it seems not as if you are watching a performance, but getting a glimpse into the every day goings on of a group of friends.

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So what is it exactly that makes Triple so different from Coffee Prince? The answer lies in the contrast between the nature of the male leads personalities.  Both Coffee Prince and Triple touch on relationships that push the bounds of the social norm, and yet Coffee Prince feels so much more intense and forbidden.  Choi Han Gyul of Coffee Prince was an  immature playboy when the show began and we get to see him grow as the show progresses into a responsible adult.  As he goes through these growing pains his true personality is revealed as a highly transparent person.  He shows what is on his mind through his actions and is not easily able to restrain his love, hate, anger, or fear.  Shin Hwal of Triple on the other hand, is already a 34 year old responsible adult who is climbing his way up the ladder, but then decides to start his own business.  From the start you see that he shows only the surface, does not let out his true emotions, and speaks only when needed.  He is very closed off even to his dearest childhood friends.  Every move he makes is analyzed and calculated rather than acting on the impulse of the moment as Choi Han Gyul would.  This completely changed the dynamic of the show.

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Whereas Coffee Prince is what I would call a high impact drama, Triple is a very slow burn because of the reluctance of Shin Hwal to make any definitive moves or show any emotion.  And even to the very end he chooses to make the responsible and socially acceptable choice rather than throw caution to the wind because of his feelings for Ha Ru.

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I personally will always prefer the passionate story in Coffee Prince to the slow and painful burn of Triple.  I realize that they were trying to convey a story about making sacrifices and how difficult it is to make the right choice in the end, but damn, the finale of this show was just kind of depressing.  None of Lee Ha Ru’s original hopes or dreams turn out the way she thought they would.  I know that this was really the very point of the drama, in fact it was reiterated within every relationship and character in the show, that basically we have to roll with the punches of life and though things don’t turn out the way we planned, we have to find a way to be happy where we are at.  I get that, but I watch entertainment to escape my life, not to be reminded of depressing lessons like that lol.

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However, Triple was not without its many charms.  And despite the ending not being my favorite, the rest of the show was actually very fun to watch.  It touched on some things that many other dramas wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, like divorce and loving someone else while you’re married.  It also deals with marriage vs. cohabitation.  Something that this writer really does well is approaching sensitive issues without overdoing them.  Rather than having psychotic moms wailing for episodes on end, she is able to convey the way people might more naturally react to these situations in real life.

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Another strength of this writer is relationship building.  Just as in Coffee Prince, I was really able to enjoy watching the relationships grow and change on the show and the playfulness and love everyone had between them.  She is really able to give another facet of depth to her characters that many other writers seem to miss.

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Despite my dissatisfaction at the ending, the rest of Triple definitely makes it worth watching.  I personally would probably watch it again.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars 🙂

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I watched this drama on Drama Fever

For more information, a synopsis, and a cast list visit http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Triple

What’s Up?-A Drama With Soul!!

This is the first drama since Coffee Prince, my first and ultimate love, that I have literally been speechless at the end.  I was so overflowing with awe and emotion at the finale of this drama that I just couldn’t do anything but stare at the screen and just feel.  It was quite a mix of feelings at that, just like when you get to the end of a really great book. I was mesmerized by the beauty of it all and utterly satisfied by the ending, yet also unsatisfied that I had to leave the world of the characters which I felt I had come to love and know so well.

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This drama possessed something that all of the newer dramas sadly seem to lack, soul.  On first glance, What’s Up seems that it is just a more mature and edgier version of Dream High (which is why I passed it over so many times to watch something else), but it is so much more than the superficial “dream” catching drama such as Dream High, which focused mainly on the pursual of stardom,  fame, and romantic love as the only means of self fulfillment.

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While of course What’s Up explored the ideas of fame and romance (after all, would it be a kdrama if it didn’t?), it instead didn’t dwell on these as the be all end all, rather it used them as tools for the characters to find what was truly important to them, the love of art, their friends, and life in general, and learning to appreciate life to the fullest and somehow find joy in every moment, even if it meant never being famous or finding some great love and living happily ever after and riding off into the sunset.  After all what is fame, or what is love if you are not truly happy?  What was really amazing is that while there was more than one love story in the show, neither of them really came to fruition in the end, because their romance wasn’t the point, what they learned from it was, and I thought that was a very original and profound thought for a kdrama.

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What’s Up was edgy in presentation compared to the norm.  There was a lot of modern rock, rap, and techno dance music involved.  But they also threw in a lot of classic musical songs, except sung in Korean, which was cool to hear.  There were also a lot of classic rock and pop songs.  This is one of the few dramas, again like Coffee Prince, that actually used quite a variety of music, and while there were a few songs that they favored, they didn’t tend to use the same three songs over and over until you just hoped you never heard them again for the rest of your life like most drams do.  Aside from the music, the dialogue was also edgier than what you would typically hear.  The characters were straight forward instead of using fluffy romanticized language, which is ironic because I think some of the most profound quotes I have seen in a drama came from this dialogue.   The language was PG-13, with their being quite a few more wordy durds than normal.  I honestly found this to be very refreshing (not necessarily the cursing, but the straight forwardness).

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Oh Doo Ri was one of my favorite characters of all time.  She was absolutely fearless and wore her heart out on her sleeve, but not in the pitiful powerless way that most kdrama heroines do.  She may have done her fair share of crying, but she certainly did not ever sit back and do nothing.  Her passion and ingenuity were a force of nature.  She also had many habits and quirks that were really endearing, such as the fact that she was the sneakiest little MacGyver ever, and also had a talent and unparalleled love for first person shooter games.  Yet as rough around the edges and rock staresque as she was, she also had an underlying purity and innocence that you see in her love for Professer Sun.  I couldn’t help but be immediately drawn to her.

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I have seen multiple dramas with Oh Man Suk, and always really liked him as an actor, but I don’t think I ever really appreciated what a talent he is until I saw this drama.  Of course it does help that his character Professor Sun, is totally likable and relatable, but I give a lot of the credit largely to his ability to bring the character to life.  He turns out to be the center of the show, and the glue that holds everyone together.  He is the unlikely candidate that turns out to be the kind of teacher and influence to his students that I can only hope and aspire to be.

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Really each character in What’s Up has their own moving story to tell.  And each of them has a certain genuiness about them that draws you in and makes you really invest in their story, emotions, and future.

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Upon beginning What’s Up, I never thought I would be so profoundly moved and have so much to say.  I never expected to laugh until my belly hurt and cry until my head pounded all in the same drama.  Although there is always the old and overused saying, never judge a book by its cover, and in this case that turned out to be completely true.  It was an unanticipated diamond in the rough, and for that I am truly glad!!  I give What’s Up 5 out of 5 stars, though I don’t think 5 stars is nearly enough.

I watched this drama on Hulu

For a synopsis, cast list, and more information visit http://asianwiki.com/What%27s_Up%3F_%282011-Korean_Drama%29

Delightful Girl Choon Hyang

After the disaster that was Big, I swore to myself that I would never watch another Hong Sisters drama. However, on a whim I decided to break that promise to myself, and surprisingly I don’t regret it. Delightful Girl Choon Hyang was the best drama I have seen in quite some time, easily making my top five. sassy-girl-chun-hyang1 I have been asking myself “What makes this drama so special?” and I believe I have narrowed it down to 3 main elements, the first being Choon Hyang herself. Too many recent dramas have helpless, ditzy female leads that seem to not be able to stand on their own two feet. Choon Hyang however, is quite a formidable woman. Comparable to my favorite female lead Go Eun Chan of Coffee Prince, Choon Hyang comes from a poor single parent household. She attends high school, is the top of her class, and still manages to work several part time jobs to save up for her own college tuition. She is mostly cheerful and positive despite all her challenges. Though I hate that ultimately she is not able to pursue her education and ends up being another designer, in this case of accessories.   Delightful_Girl,_Chun_Hyang4The second element is the actual presentation of the drama. In all actuality the the plot is not so different from other dramas of the time, in fact it is very similar to Goong (minus the royal element). However, they give the show a fun and playful vibe with all the quirky humor, asides, and special effects. It often had the feel of a comic book, and in some ways had the same feel as the recent American movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. For a long time fan of anime, comic books, and manga like me, this was a perfect fit.

0324_sassy_tThe third element is the dynamic between the leads. Instead of constantly brooding ( which don’t get me wrong they do their fair share), they are playful and light hearted and Mong Ryong doesn’t force Choon Hyang to be anything but her strong and independent self.

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Overall, though Delightful Girl Choon Hyang had many of the same plot devices as other dramas (conniving second leads, meddling mothers, and giant misunderstandings) it’s all the little details and the likability of the leads (not to mention Mong Ryong’ s father who is awesome) that set this drama apart and make it, well an utter delight to watch. I give it 5 of 5 stars!