My Secret Hotel Episode 2 Recap

There are so many secrets and mysteries in My Secret Hotel to thicken the plot but I’m in no rush to have the drama show hand on any of them. The central romance with its bickering tension and totally open longing for each other is more than enough to carry this drama along on a great pace. I’ve seen my fair share of a fantastic episode 1 that tanked swiftly by episode 2, which makes me let out a sigh of relief that MSH built on its fantastic first episode to barrel full steam ahead with another packed hour of entertainment. One important element I love about this drama is the mood, tiny bits of macabre and mystery abound like shifty people and unclear threats, but there is a light in the darkness that transitions nicely between the disparate elements. It’s both dreamy and moody with a dollop of both blended nicely together. One necessary reveal was the unsurprising news that Hae Young and Sang Hyo likely broke up due to a misunderstanding (or deliberate third party sabotage) that wasn’t tackled head on leaving both with massive regrets and bottled up simmering feelings for each other. Watching them glare with anger or longing at each other hits all my squee buttons.

There is a tiny hitch about this drama that is worth mentioning – the screenwriter Kim Ye Ri wrote the first four episodes of My Secret Hotel before passing sadly away due to cancer and in her place a second screenwriter Kim Do Hyun was brought in to finish the rest of the script. Kim Ye Ri only had two works to her name – the nobody watched hot mess Heading to the Ground with Yunho and Go Ara and the many people watched addicting but qualitatively incoherent Lie to Me. LTM is one of my fave dramas and Kim Ye Ri was actually removed midway through that drama’s low-rated run to be replaced by another writer. But most viewers fell in love with LTM for the first eight episodes which she penned and I can see the same LTM chemistry exploding mood exhibited here in MSH. Saying a rest in peace for writer Kim is first and foremost on my mind, as well as a hope that the second writer can do her drama justice and finish it with as much flair as the first two episodes were written by writer Kim. While MSH has the real life sad story behind the scenes, so far the actual drama is everything I wanted and more from the quirky premise. Continue reading

Update on Kai Ko and Jaycee Chan’s Shocking Arrest in China’s Crackdown on Drug Use

Kai Ko has been Taiwan entertainment’s wunderkind Golden Boy for the last three years since he burst out of anonymity at the young age of 20 years old with the starring role in writer-director Gidden‘s autobiographical movie You are the Apple of My Eye. Kai actually played Giddens (with even his same name in the movie) and the success of the movie rocketed him on a steep climb towards stardom. I’ll have to rack my brains to remember a newbie debuting to such critical and box office acclaim as Kai, winning the Best New Actor trophy at the Golden Horse Awards just after turning 21 years old. Then his 2 year relationship with top songstress Elva Hsiao was basically the shock and gossip generator akin to Justin Beiber dating Beyonce, not to mention he was churning out even more box office topping movies and raking in the endorsement deals left and right. That really makes his fall into the abyss after the confirmation of his drug bust arrest in Beijing all the more shocking for his fans and casual entertainment readers alike.

I like Kai for his potential and unique boy-next-door-appeal that’s hard to describe and plenty of movie reviewers have tried to explain why he’s just got this movie star quality and real acting chops. It looks like his problems may be limited to career killing and not more jail time, with his arrest only for drug use (testing positive for pot) and not being found with any actual drugs on him, so he may be free after serving the 14-days administrative jail time. Jackie Chan‘s son Jaycee Chan is in hotter water for being the owner of the luxury condo where a party was going on that night when the police raided and found nearly 100 grams of marijuana in a file cabinet. In China for having illegal drugs over 50 grams (under 50 grams can be explained as personal use) is considered intent to distribute and carries a penalty on the light side involving a 3-5 year jail term and on the serious side is the firing squad death penalty. I’m not joking, China actually executes drug dealers though obviously the authorities save that for actual dealers and not someone like Jaycee caught with a few bags of weed he was sharing with party pals. Continue reading

Song Hye Kyo Admits She’s at the Center of the Latest K-celebrity Tax Evasion Scandal

For those who are superstitious then this is not a good week to be an Asian celebrity. Following on the heels of A-list Taiwanese movie star and current It boy Kai Ko‘s arrest for smoking pot in draconian drug law China, next comes the news that A-list Korean actress Song Hye Kyo has been caught and reprimanded by the Korean national tax authority. For the first day or so the news merely reported that “top star Miss Song” was the celebrity on the wrong side of paying taxes, which led to anyone with a similar last name like Son Ye Jin and Song Ji Hyo to actually have to make a public statement about not being the tax evader in question. While Kai Ko’s pot smoking can be seen as breaking the drug laws of China and a moral failing, Song Hye Kyo’s tax evasion is similarly breaking a law in Korea and considered by netizens to be both a moral and civic transgression. She’s currently getting raked through the coals by understandably angry K-netizens who feel like the everyman and woman who dutifully pay their taxes despite making significantly less than Song Hye Kyo end up getting shafted when those who make more find ways to dodge paying the fair share of taxes.

To be fair there have been plenty of Korean celebrities investigated and/or caught for tax evasion so it’s not just Song Hye Kyo who did it. The underpaid tax amount were for the tax paying years of 2009-2012 where her accountants wrote off more than 5.5 billion won ($5.4 million) as tax deductible expenses without having valid evidence for 92% or so percent of that write-off amount. Song Hye Kyo’s agency has publicly released a statement apologizing for the failure and explaining that she’s since parted ways with the aggressive accountants in question who handled her income tax returns during that period. She has since paid the full amount for the deductions that didn’t have documentation which comes out to 2.56 billion won for those three years. I suggest Song Hye Kyo call up top stars Ha Ji Won and Gong Yoo to ask for the name of their accountants. This news is coming at a terribly PR-inconvenient time for Song Hye Kyo who is just ramping up full promotions for her tearjerker movie My Brilliant Life with Kang Dong Won. Continue reading

My Secret Hotel Episode 1 Recap

There are so many recently premiered K-dramas I’m watching right now but none have ignited the urge to recap until today when it was love at first sight with tvN‘s My Secret Hotel. I found the drama stylish and quirky, lovely to look at and with an interesting story to boot. The two leads in Yoo In Na and Jin Yi Han are rock stars right off the bat with their chemistry and how each seamlessly nails their respective characters. The divorced couple get back together trope is so stale at this point in K-dramaland it’s easy to trip over the carcass of one left and right. It’s still a bizarrely improbably concept that rarely happens in real life but if you strip away the marriage-divorce and just take it as a couple who had a really bad break up and haven’t gotten over each other then it becomes much easier to stomach.

The delightful previews for MSH actually delivered in the real deal as the first episode hooked me with the cold open that lands us right at the commencement of leading man Hae Young’s upcoming second wedding which was planned by his ex-wife Sang Hyo. She’s professional and emotionally real, the type of leading lady I can root for because she’s not written to be extreme in her personality or thought process. I spent all of episode 1 already dying to know what exactly went wrong with the shotgun marriage between Hae Young and Sang Hyo, not to mention why she’s suddenly back in Korea and he’s marrying a total spoiled diva child when everything seems to be going swimmingly for him. Folks who watched jTBC‘s Secret Love Affair will find many of the interior scenes in MSH very familiar but this drama skews towards the macabre bubbly with a side of melancholy. I loved every minute of this first episode and couldn’t wait to start writing about it! Continue reading

Rain and Krystal Looking Good in the First Filming Pics From My Lovely Girl

It’s a relief to see the upcoming SBS Wed-Thurs drama My Lovely Girl (My Lovable Girl) filming in a low key manner after getting off to a relatively late start. Rain was confirmed early as the leading man but it took multiple rounds before the leading lady role landed with Krystal Jung. The majority reaction to her casting both in her first leading role as well as starring opposite Rain was noticeably skeptical. I think that’s an understandable opinion and really it’ll be up to Krystal to prove that she’s ready for the step up to the lead role in a prime time drama. I enjoyed her character and performance in Heirs but that might’ve been due more to her coupling with the adorable Kang Min Hyuk. I loved Rain’s first drama performance in Let’s Go to School Sang Doo but haven’t liked another drama of his since so I’m hoping this is his long overdue next hit.

The first filming stills show the cast looking nicely in character. No one stands out with a particularly dreadful hairdo or blind fashion sense, that might seem like a given but it’s actually rare so I’m already grateful watching MLG won’t involve enduring an eyesore. For example there was no reason Yoon Eun Hye needed to fry her hair for Marry Him If You Dare or Ji Hyun Woo would sport an ashy gray-blond helmet in Lovers of Music. Rain is looking mighty fine as the head of a music agency while Krystal’s long hair with bangs is both lovely on her and succeeds in aging her up. She doesn’t look 19-going-on-20 which was a potential visual disconnect that worried me about the romance to come with Rain. The rest of the cast consists of Alex as Rain’s bestie, Cha Ye Ryun as the second female lead who likes Rain, and a bunch of idols playing idols in Rain’s agency including Infinite‘s L and Hoya and Dani of T-ara. Continue reading

Popular TW-actor Kai Ko’s Arrest for Drug Use Along with Jackie Chan’s Son Stuns Chinese-speaking Entertainment World

The biggest entertainment news this past weekend in the Chinese-speaking regions of Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong was the unconfirmed report that young A-list Taiwanese movie star Kai Ko (Ko Chen Dong 柯震東) had been arrested for drug use in Beijing. That was followed by even more unconfirmed reports that the sting also netted international blockbuster movie legend Jackie Chan‘s son Jaycee Chan (Fang Zhu Min 房祖名). The news broke open with a weibo post by a girl claiming that her cop daddy was interrogating Kai Ko all night at a Beijing police station after Kai was arrested for drug use. The weibo was taken down shortly thereafter but not before the media jumped on it. Kai’s manager the famous agency director Angie Tsai was immediately asked if it was true and she promised to contact Kai and get back to the press, but then shortly thereafter told the media that she was unable to reach Kai herself. Yikes.

A weekend’s worth of media speculation and Kai’s friends and family growing increasingly worried about his MIA status finally got confirmation with the Monday morning statement release by the local Beijing police station that both Kai Ko and Jaycee Chan were arrested last Tuesday for marijuana use and/or possession and due to the strict drug laws in Mainland China they have been in administrative detention at the local jail since then and won’t be released until next Tuesday. After the 14-day administrative jail time, both will then be charged after being released (Kai for drug use, Jaycee for use, possession, and intent to distribute) and be sentenced accordingly. Both the Taiwan and Hong Kong entertainment world is understandably freaking out about this and both Kai and Jacyee’s dads have reportedly rushed to Beijing to deal with the fallout. Continue reading

Aaron Yan Delivers a Final Dose of Fanservice at the Fall in Love With Me Wrap Party

There will be a day where Aaron Yan fanservice isn’t enough to keep a drama afloat. That day may have arrived already towards the end of the just completed drama Fall in Love with Me which aired the last episode on Sunday. Judging from the number of viewers who stuck to it in the floundering middle for Aaron and finally gave up towards the insane end, it might be this drama really is so stupid that even the promise of Aaron hotness isn’t incentive enough to watch. Even though FILWM turned into such painful nonsense, the cast appeared to really enjoy filming and there were lots of hugs and tears at the wrap party this past weekend. Aaron is started to repeat his own playbook as he acceded to chants for him and leading lady Tia Li to share one more kiss for the road. He did the same with Puff Guo at the Just You wrap party and I’m totally biased of course when I say that it was way better last time. Even in real life Tia just stands there stiff as a board.

Audience feedback towards the end of the drama have complained about Tia’s leading lady character getting considerably less screen time, an issue I don’t think is bad when taking into account what a bad actress Tia has been in this drama, but then as a viewer of the story then it would totally suck because the central OTP isn’t even the focus of the screentime anymore. Among the supporting cast I found the scruffy version of Jack Lee who plays Leo quite easy on the eyes (and his resemblance to Kim Ji Seok is not a bad thing at all) while the second female lead Huan Huan played by Beatrice Fang had a lovely face but good lord it was impossible to assess her acting when she was playing batshit crazy for most of the drama. My fondest memory of FILWM will be for its theme songs sung by Aaron especially the addicting ending song “That’s Not Me” which makes being an angry obsessive ex rather sexy if it’s Aaron. Continue reading