I’m pleasantly surprised by how good the cast of the upcoming period K-drama Age of Feeling (Inspiring Generation or Generation of Youth) looks in character. KBS trotted out the sprawling cast yesterday for a drama promotional press conference, which is about 5 weeks too early compared to normal pre-premiere drama press conference schedules. This early launch of promotion for this drama is probably a good idea, what with all the prior news of AoF losing its November timeslot to Pretty Boy (Bel Ami) and getting pushed back into January. Doesn’t hurt to dangle some goodies before the media and start luring in potential viewers. This drama is casting a pretty penny to film since it involves extensive location shoots in China and the main cast is headed there this week for the filming. I was already planning to check it out but now I’m probably going to watch it even if it sucks since Kim Jae Wook just joined at the last minute. Sticking one pretty boy with another pretty boy in lead Kim Hyun Joong is exponentially upping the pretty count. There have been lots of casting shuffles due to the schedule change so check out the pretty pictures of the cast in costume while I run through the final casting call: Kim Hyun Joong (Playful Kiss) as freedom fighter Shin Jung Tae, Im Soo Hyang (IRIS 2) is Gaya his love interest, Jin Se Yeon (Gaksital) took over the songstress role of Yoon Ok Ryeon from Kim So Eun, Kim Jae Wook (Who Are You) is Ok Ryeon’s first love rich boy Kim Soo Ok, relative newbie Bae Noo Ri (The Moon Embraces the Sun) plays Jung Tae’s first love Yang Yang a Chinese girl, hot dudes Han Jung Soo (Arang and the Magistrate), Song Jae Rim (Two Weeks), and Yoon Hyun Min (Cruel City) are also in this drama to add to the hot guys count, and finally a bevy of character actors such as elders Kim Gab Soo (Cinderella Unni) and Choi Il Hwa (City Hall) not to mention tough guy Jung Ho Bin (Swallow the Sun) and Park Chul Min (Baby-faced Beauty) complete the line up. I’ve yet to find a K-drama set in this 1930′s that I’ve liked the story and acting but I’ll keep an open mind and hope to be pleasantly surprised. Continue reading
As wonderful as In A Good Way has been so far, it’s been only 3-episodes plus SETTV is notorious for screwing up its dramas. I’m not even talking about turkeys right out of the gate such as the recent Love Around, even dramas with electrifying starts like Fated to Love You putter to an ending. I would have actually preferred IAGW to have been pre-filmed and thus shorter in length and sweeter in execution. Now I worry that its buzzing popularity would lead to changes in story or even tossing in more melodramatic elements that have no business being here. A legit worry I do have comes from two areas: the first is that I read the full character descriptions for all the leads and Ren Wei will indeed start to like Jia En after seeing her blossom in college when before he saw her as a buddy, and the second is that a college based drama can be about first loves and I don’t want Jia En and Liu Chuan to be first loves who don’t end up together and and instead help each other transform and mature. That might be fine in another drama but I am unhealthily invested in this one giving me a satisfying happy ending. Already Jia En and Liu Chuan make so much sense its not even funny so this isn’t inexplicable falling in love, so please give me lots of making out of the steamy TW-drama variety and some wonderfully rendered angst that makes them grow up but not grow jaded. I’m expecting every episode to have lots of fun things for these college kids to do and episode 4 will center around a Liu Chuan designed treasure hunt. I loved the beach trip so much from episode 2 and had this awesome still of Lego Li stoking the fire that I just had to share. Some folks have said he resembles Jo Jung Seok and I can sorta see it, but I’ve been watching Lego since Honey and Clover before Jo Jung Seok arrived so for me he just looks always adorable. Continue reading
Excuse me while I fangirl. This drama has turned me into an utter and complete fangirl content on grinning like a loon when I watch it. The fact that its amazingly good is just icing on the cake. In A Good Way turns back the clock for me, plops me right back into the heady days of college when the thought of exams was always around the corner but the fun times with friends was always available. I can remember the cutest boy on campus, the renowned pretty icy queen, the jonesing and the petty conflicts, the pratfalls and the little successes. It really did happen, and in this drama it’s all happening in the most entertaining to watch dramatic way. Episodes 1 and 2 were really good, but episode 3 was phenomenal. It continued using interesting campus escapades so the characters can naturally interact as well as learn about each other. Who knew feeling spurned over the last chicken drumstick could lead to issuing a challenge to a duel? Who would have thought watching six guys washing a dorm’s supply of laundry would be a bonding experience? And who would have suspected that being turned down to attend a live concert would end up with going on the most amazing motorcycle ride concert date EVER. Who else kept rewatching Jia En and Liu Chuan’s squeeworthy date at the Wu Bai concert? That motorcycle ride to the concert had this low key sweetness and a freighter’s worth of chemistry with nary a word spoken. Then Liu Chuan grabbed her hand and they raced into the concert and I was a goner. Between them and the perfection that is Wu Bai & China Blue‘s early hit song “牽掛” (You On My Mind), episode 3 entered a whole new level of simmering chemistry not to mention a time jump that was so unexpected but hit the spot. I’ve gotten an HD quality video so this recap has been brought to you with gorgeous HD stills, plus I’ve thrown in a video as well. I’ve also read the written preview for episode 4 and it’s going to be more OTP awesomeness of the treasure hunting variety. I can’t wait! If you love a believable developing romance, this drama is for you. Continue reading
This was the strangest episode of Heirs/The Inheritors to date. Compared to yesterday’s slow as molasses, filler-heavy flashback scenes, and emotional overkill with nothing substantive happening, this episode 18 was a veritable dump truck full of action. That’s good, right? I asked for that, right? Yeah I did, so I’m not going to complain about things happening finally other than to point out that nothing made sense. People suddenly just did things and there were no consequences, except the same reasons exist which kept them from doing it earlier. I can’t explain so you have to just watch. The crux of the matter is that Tan and Eun Sang’s obstacles to being together are exactly the same as its always been (Chairman Daddy), except in the span of mere minutes Eun Sang went from “no, I can’t be with Tan” to being “what the heck, I’ll take it a day at a time with him.” The brain part of my head hurts a lot thanks to Eun Sang’s whiplash decision making, which is actually pretty consistent since she really is that girl who says no but really wants to say yes. I think she’s going to fall towards the bottom of the barrel in terms of the pantheon of Kim Eun Sook leading lady characters after all. She comes across like she will say or do whatever based on the story need at that moment.
Tan needs to have a breakdown? Eun Sang decides Chairman Daddy is a genuine threat and leaves. Tan needs to get his act together? Eun Sang decides she’ll go right back to him because……. I don’t have an answer to the second part of the because since I don’t think even she knows. On the upside this was a much more entertaining episode, with Young Do again shining like the sole relatable character left in the main bunch. If his story ends here, I would actually feel satisfied because I saw him grow and change, and in the end he actually got to resolve the most painful experience in his life in losing his mom and actually get closure. Then he proceeds to let Eun Sang go with jaunty honesty and walk away with his heart hurting and his head held high. It doesn’t negate his sheer awfulness in the early episodes, which always felt like Kim Eun Sook piling on to make his character as terrible as possible, but at least I saw his character take a meaningfully plotted journey before our eyes. Tan? I honestly dunno. A guy who spends episodes moping and pining for a girl, no matter how rich and handsome he is, how devoted and cool he can be, in the end Tan just comes across like a clueless kid with no greater capacity to take control of his life. He’s all talk and even now the return of Eun Sang is something he didn’t bring about but others made happen. If he’s going to win me back on his ship, he’s going to have to step up majorly in the last two episodes. Continue reading
Where is a real life Liu Chuan and can I have one of my own? He is so much love I can’t even, upping his sheer awesomeness in episode 2 above and beyond anything I could have predicted. For a drama that purports to be quite slice of life and has captured that vibe wonderfully, In A Good Way moves remarkably fast and doesn’t waste time on useless interactions. Every conversation reveals something important whether in character development or narrative momentum. Every interaction incites some emotion from me, and if it involves Jia En and Liu Chuan I am literally squeeing already and its only episode 2. I wonder already if I’ll make it out of this drama alive if I’m already so invested. What’s lovely is how the drama knows it has a lot of story to tell about kids growing up, learning to be independent and responsible, finding their own path in life, all the great stuff that a college drama can tackle. So all that stuff is woken into the narrative and the romance is so understated that it lacks all the “love as the central purpose” drivers that mire so many dramas into being overwrought. Male lead Liu Chuan may be fully aware of Jia En as a girl and might even be subconsciously drawn to her, but nothing is forced and so far they are just very strangely brought together friends.
Jia En’s arrival in Taipei reminds me a bit of one of my favorite Hayao Miyazaki movies Spirited Away where Chihiro steps into a strange fantasy land and meets Haku who becomes her confidante and guide. Taipei for a country girl like Jia En really is like a strange foreign place, all big city airs and metropolis anonymity. She was already a very sheltered girl lacking in self-motivation and direction, so plopping her into Taipei as well as into a foreign environment like a college campus really shows us how jarring it must be for her. As a character she’s a bit dense and a tad lacking in self-confidence, but in the course of one episode Jia En makes some major strides into adulthood and its believably developed. I even find her friendship with childhood BFF Ren Wei really nicely rendered, with a comfortable camaraderie that shows how much they care about each other, but with Ren Wei it’s also clear he doesn’t care about her more than he’s interested in his own college pursuits such as girls and guy fun times. Right now the story is tightly centered around Jia En as she prepares to retake the college entrance exams but once she gets into college then I’m sure more sparks will fly as friendships and rivalries all get tested. Continue reading
If ever there is a drama that can change my lackluster impression of Yoona, it’s going to be Prime Minister and I or nothing else. So far I am already thisclose to being madly in love with her character and performance based on the trailers alone. So if I end up unimpressed with her still after this drama, she’s and I are not meant to be then. Otherwise I’m fairly certain I’m going to be writing warm and friendly posts about her in the next few weeks if my first impression is validated when the drama premieres next week. The cast of PM attended its press conference earlier this week and KBS released a long 8-minute preview that had me smiling like an idiot over the cute and funny not to mention with my heart thumping loudly over the fantastic chemistry between Yoona and Lee Bum Soo. I think they look good together, their characters are tickling all my romance bones with how they clash yet seem like they would push each other’s buttons in positive ways, and most importantly, this one feels like a fresh couple trope of the serious cantankerous prime minister with the young and fierce reporter. I don’t see any rich-poor tropes or family woes anywhere in sight. The supporting cast is also looking good, with Yoon Si Yoon as the prime minister’s aide and Yoona’s white knight, Chae Jung Ahn as the prime minister’s secretary with a crush on him, and Ryu Jin as the angry brother-in-law carrying a grudge over the death of his younger sister. Toss into the mix some cute kids and we’ve got the potential for some entertaining and high stakes dramatic adventures ahead. The press conference was a delight over how happy the cast appeared together, but Yoona was the standout with perfect make up and a lovely classy outfit in a less often seen color combination. If this drama is as good as it looks, maybe I’ll forgive KBS for making me suffer through the giant bipolar misstep that was Marry Him If You Dare. Continue reading
Yes, I must be micheoseo to re-watch any part of the last episode again. I confess that by the end of episode 16 of Marry Him If You Dare (Mirae’s Choice), I was literally holding onto my sanity by a thin thread. I finished my recap watching the episode once and put it away. Today I went back and re-watched the last 5 minutes in excruciating detail and I’m going to flip on my first impression that the ending veered towards suggesting a Se Joo-Mi Rae future in the present time line. I think everything about the ending and epilogue suggest the present is still Shin-Mi Rae, both practically and emotionally the only conclusion that validates this drama journey. I still am baffled that the Korean audiences preferred Se Joo. If it was Yong Hwa fans I’d get that, but general drama viewers as well makes me feel acutely the cultural gap that would lead domestic viewers to like the nice uncomplicated rich guy v. prickly complex self-made guy. For all of Shin’s getting off on the wrong foot with Mi Rae, I totally think she was equally at fault and it was two fiery people colliding in interesting ways.
Anyways, back to the ending, Mi Rae’s voiceover was the giant clue so my recap didn’t specifically translate the two nouns she used to describe the two different Christmas miracles. I’ve gone back to correct it in the recap and now I’ll explain why it seals the deal that she picks Shin. Mi Rae says “친구” (chingoo) which means friend when she says “a friend who left coming back”, and then she says “연인” (yeon-in) which means lover for “hearing from a lover one has not heard from in a long time”. I saw it on Viki translated as “soulmate” which isn’t precise but does capture that she refers to it as more than a friend. That makes it clear what Se Joo and Shin means in her heart – since Se Joo is the one who has been in the US, he is the friend from far away coming back, whereas Shin hasn’t kept in touch with her during the entire time of his debt and lawsuit so he’s the lover that she’s reconnecting with since we saw that his lawsuit was just resolved. And Mi Rae’s last line of dialogue further seals the Shin choice for me when she says “This is the happiest Christmas of my life” – of the two guys only Shin has a connection to Mi Rae wanting to spend the best Christmas ever with a lover. It comes from the episode where she wanted to spend it with Shin and have dinner and she was so excited but he heard the horrible future and thus decided to push her away. Whereas she and Se Joo filmed the Christmas program doing fun friend things. I hope my analysis took away some of the bitterness of this drama because once I figured it out it made me feel much much better.