Monday, August 11, 2014

It's so hard to say Anyung

Imagine me rubbing my hands together with Super Junior's "Sorry, Sorry" playing on a loop. I know I've been way too negligent of this blog, and I fear it's not going to change with a new job I'm starting. I still want to squee and squall about K-dramas, but right now I don't have enough to fill up my own blog.

Thankfully, the Crazy Ahjummas offered to let me show up at their house occasionally. I plan to write a few guest posts there if any of you wonderful people who still bother to check here want to find me. I'm starting with my firsthand visit to the My Love From Another Star exhibit in Korea, which you can find here . Yes, people. I got to wander past Chung Song Yi's pile of mangas, and stand beside those gauzy curtains in Do Min Joon's bedroom. Jealous? If you want to know more, check out the link. And thank you to everyone who has dropped by, read, and commented through my hapless attempts at blogging.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Trot Lovers: What is this?

Wow, this show is weird. They buried the leading man up to his neck in dirt, stuck a paper bag over his head, and made him sing along to Korea’s version of the golden oldies. I just don’t even know what to say except . . . I think I like it.

Enough with the super spies, serial killers, and first love angst. Rom-coms FINALLY rolled back around on the drama schedule, and one of the first to hit the airwaves is Trot Lovers. I feel like I sat through the first two episodes with my face scrunched in slackjawed disbelief. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. I wouldn’t call it charming. The bad attitudes fly at random. I wouldn’t call it romantic. The main couple don’t have a love-hate relationship. It’s hate-hate all the way, and they have yet to show us any real connection. But TL has this kind of crazy neighbor appeal that keeps you staring out the window, wondering what they’re gonna do next.

It had to be you

But with this couple . . . not so much. I think Ji Hyun Woo and Jung Eun Ji more than proved their chemistry potential in past dramas like Queen Inhyun’s Man and Answer Me 1997. They sizzled up the screen opposite other co-stars, but right now I’m still waiting for the bells to ring with their current characters. The setup may be campy and ridiculous, but their acting itself is good. I just don’t get that squeeful feeling watching them butt heads, yet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the ride. But my fingers are crossed for some fissions of attraction to start showing soon.

Is there such a thing as 5D?

I learned a new term while watching Korean television. 4D. They use it to describe a person who’s kinda left of center. While everyone else operates in three dimensions, they’re in their own little world, and might just wander away in the middle of a conversation and show up a month later to finish it. But after watching Shin Sung Rok as the hapless and reluctant new music president, I wonder if he might be 5D. He listens politely while his father chews him out on the phone, and cheerfully insists he can do so for an hour since his Dad is the one with all the money. (Cracks. Me. Up.) Poor papa gets so frustrated he hangs up. Things like passcodes and whose cell phone he’s holding stump this guy. He’ll spend ten minutes trying to open a locker with the wrong key, until someone else comes along and solves his problem. I can’t figure out if he’s serious, or just too lazy to think up a new plan of action. Either way, he’s hilarious. So far, his scenes are the highlight of this show.

Maybe I should start downloading some Trot

On a scale of 1 to 10, my knowledge of trot music ranks around .47, but I might start paying more attention because of TL. Jung Eun Ji makes the bouncy cheesefest sound heartwarming, mood lifting, and capable of recalling every long buried, happy hearts-and-flowers memory you lost along the way. It takes her away from whatever scary situation she’s currently in and puts her in a safe, little soft-lit cocoon with just the music and her family. The ending scene of Episode 2 hit a sweet spot for me when she starts her American Idol style audition with her back to the judges because she just can’t face reality. But then she imagines her father, sister, and deceased mother cheering and swaying in the audience and the rest of the people just fade away. Call me sappy, but I just love Awwwwwwwwwwww moments.

I really like this show. I’m not sure why. If they’d just mix in a bit more chemistry with the leads, I might start loving it.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Love Myself or You: U Make Me Smile

I don’t know why I’m so picky of late. But I don’t want to watch melo, medical, thriller, or suspense. This leaves very few options from the current crop of dramas. A little romance, a little funny-bone tickling, a little piggybacking here and there. Is that too much to ask? But I’ve finally found one that puts a loony grin on my face. Even though there’s not an “Oppa!” to be heard. It’s the latest Taiwanese offering, Love Myself or You (AKA Pleasantly Surprised, but that title is too innocuous and irrelevant to the plot to be taken seriously).

It stars Puff Guo (currently appearing in the latest We Got Married: Global Edition) as the prickly French chef, Kai Qi, who relates more to the food she prepares than the living, breathing people around her. Enter the sunny, optimistic, and deeply dimpled new intern, Zi Jie, who is actually the wealthy son of the restaurant owner incognito (of course, he is). He remembers Kai Qi from a childhood connection, and makes it his personal mission to turn this touch-me-not back into a human being.

Don’t call me cute
I met the adorable force known as Puff Guo in last year’s scintillating Just You. Her chemistry with Aaron Yan registered super high on the Squee Scale, and I still bemoan their lost chance to repeat this duo in the currently airing Fall in Love with Me because of her We Got Married shooting schedule. *Mini-rant: I watch FILWM every week for two reasons: Aaron & Yan. But it’s kinda depressing seeing him sizzle up his half of the screen alone. His costar is adequate. Unoffensive. But it’s like watching two people try to move a couch when one of them is only pretending to lift their half. You just want to yell, “Would you please get with the program !”* I would love to see Puff and Yan together again, but I have to say that this part is way better for her. In Just You, she played the typical “Oops, did I do that?” kind of heroine with lots of charm and little brain matter. This Kai Qi character is crabby, driven, and rude to everybody. Seriously, I don’t think she’s cracked a genuine smile in two episodes. But she’s also talented, resilient, and fiercely protective of the ones she cares about. She’s got lots of love hidden somewhere. And I look forward to watching our determined hero peel her like a steel-armored onion.

Could you BE any cuter
Speaking of our knight in shining white apron, when this guy smiles I find the corners of my lips tugging up in a knee-jerk reaction. He’s just too, too adorable. It’s like his dimples shoot invisible, happy rays. Dramas repeatedly recycle the story of the plucky, positive girl saving the jerky, closed-off guy from his life of self-imposed isolation. It’s nice to see the gender roles switched for a change. He’s got a great relationship with his doting parents, lots of money, a fancy education abroad and no first-love trauma involving amnesia, cancer, or switched identities (at least, not so far). His character might not have as much meat from a development standpoint, but who cares. Look at the dimples!
Gourmet goes glamour shots
Any fans of the quirky, food-centered Let’s Eat should enjoy all the steamy, drizzly close-ups of French cuisine in this show. It may be fish eggs on a skinny piece of asparagus, but the slo-mo, camera work even makes that ludicrous combination look yummy. Since both main characters put their heart and soul into cooking, I’m hoping for some chemistry in the kitchen that doesn’t just involve hollandaise sauce.

Just Rip My Heart Out Already
I’m all about the romance, but a show stealing relationship may be the one between Kai Qi and the child of her deceased sister. She flatly rejects the idea of him living with her when the jerky father drops him off with grandma like an unwanted sack of potatoes. Kai Qi marches him back to his father’s place and insists he take responsibility. A heart-twisting detail is her nephew reaching out to her, but grabbing her purse strap instead of her hand, like he’s afraid to make contact. The deadbeat dad informs her that he’s getting married and wants children with his new wife, and she finally accepts the inevitable and takes her nephew back home. I love how she initially fights against any added burdens tooth-and-nail, but when she accepts the situation, she immediately does everything she can to take care of the little boy. Her personality lacks any natural warmth or nurturing, but she tries her best to make him happy in her own stilted way.
Hooray for Piggybacks
Any show that gives me a piggyback in the very first episode is already scoring major brownie points. But Episode 2 caught me hook, line and sinker with the elevator bit. Dimples (it’s so much easier to call him that) tries to make a connection with Kai Qi but is rebuffed at every turn, until he picks up on her competitive nature. He uses this to elicit actual human reactions from the otherwise robot-like woman, and starts making everything a challenge for her. The big showdown happens one morning at the elevator. He races to get in ahead of her, and presses the button before she can get to it. But Kai Qi does not give in so easily, taking her fingers and lighting up every floor on the panel. Then she leaves him to his neverending ride, and takes the other elevator. Her self-satisfied expression changes however when her car stops at the next floor to find that Dimples got out of his car and waited to hitch a ride in hers. Maybe I’m immature, but I stinking love childish stuff like that.

It’s been a long, dry spell in Dramaland the past few months. But Love Myself or You tastes like a sweet draught of lemonade with just the right amount of tart for flavor. I hope for many delicious scenes in the future.

We Got Married Global: First Impressions
Just You: Just For a Change

Friday, May 16, 2014

You're All Surrounded: Needs further investigation

This show is a mystery to me. It’s such an odd mix of heartbreak and hilarity. This doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it. I am. Just . . . not as much as I thought I would.

You’re not who I thought you were
One thing I love about Lee Seunggi is that charming twinkle in his eye. That sparkle can make even the jerkiest of characters appealing (if you haven’t seen his turn as the spoiled prince in The King 2 Hearts, you must move that to the top of your drama list post haste). But this new character is too damaged to sparkle. The poor boy watched someone choke the life out of his beloved mother right in front of his eyes. He’s allowed to be broken. And I give Seunggi props for his acting. Let’s face it, he kind of had one stock character in his repertoire up until now. Bitter, vengeful stoneface is something new, and he’s rocking the wounded, silent crankypants. I just miss the twinkle.

I Need a Suspension Bridge of Disbelief
It’s a TV show. Not everything has to make sense. But I have a hard time swallowing some of the “dangerous” situations. We meet Ji-yong as a young boy who throws himself into a fray of crazy teenage girls for his secret crush, and yet he hides under a bed and watches his own mother’s murder. I know she stopped him from revealing himself, but it seemed unbelievable to me that such a passionate, courageous kid could allow himself to stay hidden. I get it. The plot needs a traumatic backstory, so I can let that go. But then we meet psycho partygirl, who takes out four, highly-trained detectives in a strapless party dress. Maybe the guys didn’t know where to grab, but what happened to karate-kicking Soo-sun? She should have taken her down in ten seconds flat. And finally, the pipsqueak stalker this week manages to stab his totally aware-and-on-the-alert victim in a public park. The girl saw the police weren’t backing her up. Why didn’t she get out of the car? Scream for help when they pulled over? Call her new boyfriend on her cell phone? Or just beat the creepy perv with her purse? Let’s face it. He wasn’t that big.

Where’s the romance?
I assume Daegu and Soo-sun are the OTP, but there is precious little evidence to back this up (unless you count the sweet yellow umbrella moment from the flashbacks). Take the scene from Week 1 where the perp pushes them down the stairs and he lands on top of her. There was no awkward moment, no nervous eye contact, no hint of awareness, just a mad scramble to get the bad guy back. What a wasted opportunity! The two spend more time together in episode three as they enter the partners phase of their relationship. Again, she’s sleeping in the car and it looks like he’s going to do the caring-cover-her-with-a-jacket-move, but instead he tosses it over her head to mute her snoring. It’s funny. I like it. But I need some hearts and flowers somewhere.

Mom and Dad got issues
Maybe the older couple is truly the OTP, ‘cause there’s no denying their sparks. We meet Kim Sa-kyung when she waltzes into the precinct in her skintight leather skirt and slaps the fire out of Detective Seo. Talk about unprofessional. The next thing you know, she’s casually asking him to put medicated patches on her bare shoulder. We are missing a LOT of information on these two, but the attraction is obvious. Daegu and Soo-sun could take a lesson from their sunbaes.

Such a little thing, but I just love how the others call him Daegu-Daegu. It’s the most adorable sounding nickname, for a guy who’s as prickly as a cactus. If you watch the group, they all take turns grabbing him, offering hugs, or throwing an arm around his shoulders. It’s like a four-way bromance, only one of them is a girl. Daegu is in no way welcoming, friendly, or affectionate, but the other three keep reaching out. Speaking as an introvert who takes a while to warm up to people, I’m so glad there are huggers in the world.

I expected something different from this show so I’m having to adjust my perspective. But I’m willing to buckle my seatbelt and hang in there. I may be a little scowly in the beginning, but hopefully the crazy antics of everyone else can win both me and Daegu over.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I Passed!!!!!!!!

I'm pretty sure that was the worst test of my life. But I passed and life is sweet again. So sorry for the lack of posts, but I'll be back tomorrow with my impressions of You're All Surrounded. Thanks for being patient!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Maybe I need a headband . . .

Anyung, all. If anyone is wondering about my complete lack of posts, I have two main reasons:

Excuse #1 – I’m studying for one of the biggest tests of my life. Unfortunately, I don’t have a hot, snarky genius like Baek Seung-jo to help me (or distract me). My brain doesn’t have much space left for blogs.

Excuse #2 – I’m not loving Dramaland right now. Most of the new shows seem to be suspense, thriller, melos, etc. I want something light and funny to make me laugh! There is hope on the horizon with things like You’re all Surrounded (Seungiyaaaaaaah!!!), but the current shows are leaving me cold.

I hope to be back and gushing about something romantic and squeeworthy very soon. But, in the meantime, I need to get back to my homework. For all of my fellow sufferers out there who have tests or research papers piling up – Fighting!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bride: Weird to the very end

Like a windmill on a Korean hillside, this show is weird and unexpected. My main feeling while watching the wrap-up was, "WHAT is going on?" I do love my happy endings. But even after the writer crafts a finale with a pot of gold at the end of everyone’s rainbow (and I do mean EVERYONE), I still have one question left. Where are my kisses?!!!!!

Those aren't the kisses I wanted
Did the director take some Artsy Pills before shooting the ghost backstory? The stolen kiss among the freshly washed laundry. The origin of the bead bracelet. The falling petals from the surrounding trees. It was all so beautiful and tragic as we watched the somber, wealthy man fall in love with his mute, caring servant. Until someone mentioned his wife. Hold up! He’s MARRIED! So our sassy ghost lady isn’t the first bride, but the first mistress? I fervently hoped Dramafever subbed it wrong. (It wouldn’t be the first time.) But no, Ghostie had an affair with a married man while his wife stood by and watched. This wasn’t Sageuk times where he could collect as many concubines as he wanted. The show specifically pointed out it was a hundred years ago. 1914. The guy came home in a suit, not a fancy beaded top hat. It made the whole thing so sordid to me. A cheater knocking up his servant girl then abandoning her is never romantic. I don’t care how many cherry blossoms you throw at them.

My favorite line in the whole finale
You know what is romantic. THIS GUY. Kang-joo got better and better as the show progressed. He forgave Doo-rim for her deception waaaaay quicker than expected. He publicly admitted everything to the public in two separate press conferences. And he takes his vows seriously, even if there’s no legal piece of paper to back them up. The writer can draft as many poetic speeches as they want about how finding love is like a blind turtle looking for a piece of driftwood in the ocean. When an attractive model gets in a guy’s face and he doesn’t even hesitate to throw the ring up and say, “You must not have heard, I’m married.” Now THAT’S sexy times a hundred.
Someone get the padded cell ready
Who else enjoyed Makjang Ma’s total descent into Looneyville? The sight of her choking Doo-rim, choking the ghost, choking her own daughter, and then ripping into a piece of rare meat with her bare fingers before earning a bed in the Psych ward. It seemed like a fitting end for this horrible excuse for a human being. Why couldn’t the writer leave it that way! That must be some therapy program at that hospital, because two years later she’s hugging Doo-rim and begging for forgiveness. It may sound twisted, but I would have preferred her to say the line about waiting for her to show up, and then reaching out to choke her again. It would have been such a fitting piece of macabre humor. I'm all for love and forgiveness in real life. But fictionally speaking, some villains just shouldn’t be redeemed.
Boy, did I read that wrong
Am I the only one that got the wrong idea from this scene? I assumed it was Yi-kyung and Oppa sitting together at first. So when a medical looking professional started lecturing about removing the biological problems, I got this crazy idea they were trying not to be blood related so they could be together. I know it sounds insane, but we’re talking about a show with Bride Curses and Look-a-like Strangers. And then it turns out it was just a commercial for hand treatments. How dare they waste any part of the finale on product placement! Less side characters. More smooches. Or ANY smooches for that matter.

Look at that face!
Dramas must have brainwashed me, because I don’t get super upset over time jumps any more. Now my reaction is more, “Oh good, it’s only been a year or two.” That’s almost nothing in K-time. Some viewers probably knew the moment they saw the red yarn, but this scene came as a surprise to me. A lovely, sentimental surprise. Kang-joo spends all day tracking down another fruitless lead to Doo-rim’s whereabouts and it looks like he’s just going to walk away, when a ball of fate rolls by his feet. Lee Hong-ki deserves major props for this moment. I thought both actors sold it, but the way his face just crumpled with joy hit me right in the heart. No cheesy slo-mo rush to embrace each other as the camera swirled around them. It meant so much more to have the two just stand and quietly smile at each other, relieved that the long separation is finally over.

Bride of the Century started out weird, and finished the same way. The finale meandered on and on, and it wrapped up every loose end imaginable, except the ones we really cared about. Where was the moment when Na Doo-rim first tells Kang-joo he’s a father?  Where was the first kiss between the long parted lovers? Or any kiss for that matter? They jumped straight from the reunion to “old married couple.” One of the most awesome things about this show’s beginning was the ridiculous amount of skinship. Did they blow their wad in the first half and the censor shut them down? Did Hong-ki have the flu and not want to pass it on to Yang Jin-sung? Did the director think wandering around planting trees was more romantic than a few cuddle sessions? I confess it was disappointing. But the show stayed true to its weird self to the very end and provided some nice moments along the way. Ghostie playing with baby Kang-nim in the sunlight. Choi Mama turning into a Go-Stop cardshark. Kang-joo finally admitting the moment his heart fluttered for Doo-rim was the first night they met. I guess we can re-watch the first few episodes for the skinship stuff. And I’m glad we can fade out of this wacky ride of a show on a happy note.