In the span of twenty four hours the K-drama news casting cycle stirred up a veritable netizen storm and I’m still wondering what the heck happened. Was this even a serious casting consideration? The upcoming KBS Wed-Thurs drama Golden Cross, which initially was in talks with Kang Ji Hwan but that fell through after he went off to do Big Man on the same network, floated the possibility of being Park Shi Hoo‘s comeback drama. He’s been gone from K-ent for a year now, ever since he was embroiled in allegations of rape last February after a Valentine’s Day outing with a male friend and a young female idol trainee. The scandal was covered in great detail so I won’t rehash it here other than to say that it was resolved with the prosecutor not pressing charges and both sides also dropping a litany of civil lawsuits lobbed at each other. Park Shi Hoo has been in China for the past two months filming the C-movie called Fragrant Scent, and shortly after the news broke that he was considering the script for Golden Cross, his agency released a statement that Park Shi Hoo has declined the Golden Cross leading man role due to scheduling conflicts primarily with movie promotions for that movie. He’s also purportedly busy with CF shoots overseas as well. Consider me wary of the reason given for passing on the role, last year Kim Bum managed to film Goddess of Fire Jeongi but still participated in the huge movie promotional machine for the big budget blockbuster C-movie Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon. K-netizens of course went batshit with howls of outrage that he might be returning to drama land and who knows if that might’ve influenced his decision to pass on this project. Golden Cross is a revenge melodrama where the male lead is a prosecutor seeking revenge for the death of his father and sister. The cast currently has two leading ladies in Lee Shi Young and Han Eun Jung along with Jung Bo Seok playing the antagonist who sets the chain of events in motion that starts the hero on his path for vengeance. Golden Cross will follow Age of Feeling (Inspiring Generation) and looks to premiere April 10th after AoF wraps up its 24-episode run, which gives it some time to keep looking for that elusive leading man. Continue reading
If you aren’t already addicted to Lost You Forever, chapter 7 will flip the switch as the best chapter yet. It’s funny, bittersweet, and unexpectedly dreamy all smushed into one chapter. Each of the three male leads gets their moment with Xiao Liu and you’re left feeling like this will be the most amazing romantic journey ahead for her but also that this cannot possible end well. There is only one Xiao Liu, but there are three guys exhibiting signs that “it’s her and no one else.” This novel still masterfully alternates between fast-paced action and quiet reflection with equal aplomb. I enjoy that Xiao Liu really connects with people despite all outward appearances to be an ill-mannered layabout. But the real Xiao Liu really has that personality in her, it’s not all an act insofar as that is also part of who she is. The bits and pieces we’ve seen of her past when she thinks about her Gege (older brother), who all signs point to being Zhuan Xu (Xuan), she’s always been a pretty spirited and saucy little thing even when her life was still rainbows and unicorns and happy times. I love that about her, her fearlessness coupled with intelligence gleaned from survival, paired with a je ne sais quoi attitude.
Now that we’ve met the four leads of this novel, I’ll give a quickie refresher on all the various identities since it can get rather confusing. Xiao Liu is the alter ego of our leading lady and her real name is Gao Xing Jiu Yao (everyone calls her Xiao Yao) and she is the Eldest Princess of the Gao Xing Kingdom. Her devoted silent protector is Tu Shan Jing, scion of one of the Four Great Clans, but in front of her he’s just Ye Shi Qi, the dude she rescued from the brink of death. Wine shop owner Xuan is merely the cover for Prince Zhuan Xu, one of the princes of the Xuan Yuan Kingdom, and he’s also Xiao Yao’s cousin. She calls him Gege or older brother. And finally Nine-lives Xiang Liu, the only non-God entity among the leads, appears to be just Xiang Liu all the time. But expect that to change coming up and he’ll show up in Xiao Yao’s life as someone else as well. It’s not really a spoiler since she’s hardly fooled, but it changes their dynamic completely and adds another layer of complexity for this girl. We have a leading lady who just wants to live the most ordinary of lives, being pulled back into her most complicated of worlds, surrounded by three extraordinary men. Continue reading
Who’s still giggling like a school girl from last week’s episode 14 of In A Good Way? I’m totally not ashamed to admit, nor will I deny re-watching the new preview for episode 15 so many times I’ve lost count. Some things are just too good not to enjoy with complete and utter abandon. It’s been a busy drama ending week for me what with both Wed-Thurs K-dramas I’ve been watching in Miss Korea and You From Another Star ending. Thank god In A Good Way is still around, I might actually need therapy if everything ended this week and I was left with the prospect of staring at the blank wall next week. The IAGW Chinese wiki page has been updated to indicate the episode count is 24 episodes total. Considering this is an SETTV live-filmed drama, that number isn’t set in stone but expect the final episode count to be thereabouts. My gut tells me 22-23 episodes, which means we need to all start preparing for the final stretch and then a wind down. The written preview is out for episode 15 and even translating it makes me smile. I enjoy dramas for showcasing different types of romances, and even if some appeal to me more than others, sometimes a couple just captures lightning in a bottle and makes everything they do so endearing. I think Liu Chuan and Jia En’s romancing style would drive me bonkers.
If I were one of their friends, I’d have to be restrained from shoving them into a room ASAP. Now that Jia En has confessed to Liu Chuan, after he confessed earlier, what cute interactions will the drama have in store for us? The three-way phone call with Jia En’s dad on the line is so brilliantly throwback I have no words. I swear it made me want to dig out my high school diary to look for written remembrances of such mortifying experiences in my own life. I wonder if Liu Chuan is the type to be sincere and direct when Jia En probes for romantic confirmation but then keep it to the point, or will be be willing to say even more to her even if she doesn’t solicit it? I’m pretty sure Jia En has graduated and gotten her love credit since that treasure hunt confession she orchestrated was clearly a grad student course load degree of difficulty, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to do the dating part with the same level of confidence. I hope the drama lets Ren Wei move on from Jia En soon, I do like watching his learn too late that he might have feelings for her, but the silent pining starts to get old and he’s a great character and deserves more of his own arc aside from which girl he likes. I love that the group of girlfriends are all back to hanging out together again. It’s going to be fantastic watching Jia En squirm as her friends marvel over how the country girl from Pingdong landed the hottest smartest guy on campus. A manly bowling showdown is also coming up between Ren Wei and Liu Chuan and the stills make it look like a hoot. Continue reading
Oh noes, not another male lead fallen to the dreaded back injury! Last year Jung Kyung Ho injured his back towards the end of filming Cruel City and the poor guy endured through the drama wrapping before getting treatment. The first on set injury this year comes out of Taiwan as Lego Lee‘s old lumbar injury has flared up and he’s been in severe back pain since last week. Lego was at a press event for The Body Shop yesterday and revealed what happened – he’s an athlete so suffering various injuries and ailments is not surprising, two years ago he had to cut short his military service because of a back injury that needed surgery, and it’s that same injury that has returned with a vengeance. Lego revealed that he was training on set when suddenly felt his back spasm and then came the excruciating pain. Because of the injury, his scenes from now until the drama wraps will all be carefully orchestrated to minimize any stress on his lower back. He’ll be using acupuncture and heat packs to treat to temporarily treat the injury until the drama filming is done, hoping that he won’t need another surgery.
The return of Lego’s back pain has put a kibosh on his promise to ride shirtless with Jay Shih when the drama ratings broke 3, which happened with episode 12 though episode 13 ratings dipped back down since the concert episode. He apologized to all the fans of In a Good Way and explained that he and Jay were actually way more excited for the ratings to break 3 and they could fulfill the promise. The two of then had been planning out how to make it happen but sadly for us it’s now a pipe dream. Though considering the massive amounts of nekkid Lego fanservice in episode 1 alone (don’t lie and say you haven’t been rewatching the heck out of the dorm scenes between Jia En and Liu Chuan) we shouldn’t complain. I really am worried about Lego because a back injury can be debilitating and excruciatingly painful. This also begs the question of how Liu Chuan scenes will be filmed going forward. A lot of sitting down and just staring? Yeah, he’s the master of that. But I love Liu Chuan playing basketball but I don’t think we’ll see much more of that, nor will he be riding his motorcyle as much anymore. I’m soooo glad we got the motorcycle concert scene in episode 3 now. Sniffles, good times, good times. Continue reading
SBS weekends have been pretty lackluster for me for a long time. The last weekend drama I enjoyed (somewhat) was Cheongdamdong Alice. The ones after that like Birth Secret, Goddess of Marriage, and Thrice Married Woman have all been singularly hard to watch. Not bad per se, just not very fun to slog through. Coming up next is Angel Eyes, the drama that initially floated as leads Lee Jun Ki and Han Ji Min, but now has confirmed a completely different set of leads. Gu Hye Sun and Lee Sang Yoon will be pairing up for this first love melodrama that has already started filming the childhood section. Playing the teenage counterparts to Gu Hye Sun and Lee Sang Yoon are Nam Ji Hyun and Kang Ha Neul, both of whom I honestly like better than the adult leads. Gu Hye Sun will be making her first K-drama return since Take Care of the Captain with Ji Jin Hee in 2012. I don’t know why but it feels like she’s been gone for much longer than that. Lee Sang Yoon is a drama regular and last year did both the MBC sageuk Goddess of Fire Jeongi with Moon Geun Young as well as My Daughter Seo Young with Lee Bo Young.
Angel Eyes will be primed to follow the typical weekend family melodrama types of narratives as the two leads are teenage sweethearts but are separated by something involving the male leads parents. Years later, the female lead gets a cornea transplant and regains her eyesight and becomes an EMT. The male lead becomes a surgeon (of course) and their paths cross again. Rounding out the cast is Kim Ji Suk playing the second male lead and antagonist in the story. I’m actually rather indifferent to the cast but find the big potential stumbling block to be the screenwriter who wrote Boys Before Flowers and Operation Proposal, both of which were hot messes story-wise. Apparently Gu Hye Sun accepted this role because she is getting to work with her BoF screenwriter, and I’m not sure whether it’s a good idea on either of their parts. On the other hand, the PD is all sorts of awesome having directed Will it Snow For Christmas, Only You, and What Happened in Bali. All of those dramas are so pretty to watch with great directorial flair. Decisions, decisions. I’ll probably watch the childhood portions no matter which since I love those two youngsters, but the rest will depend on if the story is actually engaging. The first stills are out of Kang Ha Neul and Nam Ji Hyun filming for Angel Eyes and they are definitely cute together. Nam Ji Hyun is always so winning in any role, and she’s left indelible teenage performances as the younger female lead in dramas such as YISFC, Giant, and Queen Seondeok. Angel Eyes premieres at the end of March on SBS. Continue reading
Perfect. The ending sequence to episode 20, the penultimate episode of You From Another Star, was absolute sheer hilarious heart-stopping perfection. First time this drama made me cry, and it did so in a way that seamlessly unfurled the romance between the two leads that had been built up until this point. I had a hunch the moment the awkward shoehorned in serial killer Jae Kyung scenes came to an end the drama would finally hit it out of the park. I still think this drama is shockingly overrated until now, but I loved episode 20 for all its mellow scenes of two lovers who are facing the Catch-22 choice of death or eternal separation. I like to think there is a third choice in a happily ever after, and my gut tells me this drama is going to end well for everyone not named Jae Kyung, but the OTP don’t know that so they are in fact dealing with the painful option between sucks and sucks even more. I’ve been completely underwhelmed with Kim Soo Hyun‘s performance while equally worshipping Jeon Ji Hyun‘s sizzling delivery, but this episode felt like they met in the middle and the result was magic happening onscreen.
Below is the cut of the post-credits sequence for this episode which goes down in K-drama history as one of the best marriage proposals ever. I’ll remember this one for years to come. Song Yi makes Se Mi record her dancing a marriage proposal and I was laughing and crying along with Min Joon. Se Mi whining about why she has to do it, Song Yi tell her “unni wants to get married”, and Min Joon’s tears and laughter were such fantastic acting on the part of Kim Soo Hyun. THAT is what I wanted out of him in this drama, that conveyance of centuries of restraint and gravitas paired with a discovery of love as a fascinating emotional core. This massive out-of-this-world popular hit is ending tomorrow and I’ll lay bets that Star fans will be giddy with glee when all i said and done. It’s a fluffy manga romance that really gelled at the end for me in terms of the romantic hook and now I’m super excited to see what the drama has in store to sign off with a bang. Below I’ve also translated the written preview for the final episode 21. Everyone hold on to your horses! Continue reading
Miss Korea is like that tagline for an old school Folger’s Coffee commercial – “Good until the last drop.” While I’m relieved not to be penning a recap for the final episode that requires mental gymnastics to make sense of what happened or an emotional explanation to take away feelings of disappointment, I don’t want to stack MK up against other dramas to emphasize how good it is in comparison. Miss Korea is a fantastic and well-written drama on its own merits. It is merely that much better when placed beside the sea of K-dramas that rely on cheap thrills and makjang lures to sustain a story. I’m so grateful and genuinely delighted to have encountered such a lovely drama that shared a discreet story of a small group of folks and never tried to pander to ratings or dumb down its narrative. On the surface Miss Korea is a beauty pageant story, the journey of a pretty girl to the prettiest girl in all of South Korea. But scratch below the surface and Miss Korea is the story about regular folks struggling in a particular difficult financial period in recent Korean history.
Whether it’s through intelligence or looks, by hard work or underhanded tactics, the quest to keep on living isn’t sugarcoated in easy solutions or made all that more fun with fanciful outcomes. It was a simple pleasure to watch nicely written characters work together for a common goal, and in this drama we have two goals for the price of one. Leading lady Oh Ji Young stepped out of her small elevator box and into the greater world outside while leading man Kim Hyung Joon took a tumble down from a fast rising start out of the gate and needed to start over again in his cosmetic business endeavor. Their second chance at love and in life was equal parts sweet and stirring, and ultimately ending with the promise of a future ahead that we won’t get to see but we feel comforted will surely be a long road together. I feel both satisfied and rewarded for recapping Miss Korea and hope this drama stands the test of time like I think it would and more drama fans have a chance to experience the magic down the road. Continue reading