Miss Korea Episode 9 Recap

I rarely jump into recapping a drama midway through but Miss Korea is just that good and that compelling it calls to me. Episode 9 was even better than the stellar episode 8, setting up nicely for a transition to the next phase of Ji Young and Hyung Joon’s pursuit of the Miss Korea 1997 crown. While episode 8 gave us (and them) a taste of what’s to come by using the local Miss Seoul pageant as a dress rehearsal of sorts, this episode deals with the fall out of Ji Young not making the top-3 and thereby her dreams are at an end. She’s 25 years old, at the top age limit for entering the competition, without even her dead end elevator girl job to go back to. But Ji Young’s disappointment and tears are not for herself only, she cries over Hyung Joon’s predicament that she can no longer solve with the same solution. The Vivi gang continue to face the reality that it’s over for their hopes and dreams even if they have the next big beauty breakthrough in their hands. The secondary OTP of Dr. Ko and gangster Teacher Jang are as intense to watch as ever and now she’s aware of the pressures he’s under to collect back the debt.

Ji Young’s family remain the epitome of awesome, tough and soft love doled out in equal measures to protect the apple of their eye. If you think the writer is going to waste episode 9 on tears and finger-pointing, think again as instead the episode is spent on burrowing deeper into the past of Hyung Joon and Ji Young’s relationship and allowing the brink-of-failure intensity of the recent episodes to take a breather. In learning why Hyung Joon and Ji Young broke up, all I know was that I was nodding my head at both of their feelings and how difficult it is move past conundrums built from different expectations. It was even more moving to see present day Ji Young both acknowledge how painful that break up was to her, and how she cannot afford to love Hyung Joon again because another break up will kill her. While their high school relationship was played for cute laughs in flashbacks, their present stirrings of the heart and soul being together again gunning for the same goal shows us that it was something real and deep that drew them together long ago. When Ji Young calls him Oppa in her flirty way, her angry way, and her resigned way, my heart twinges in pain and expectation for them to keep on sticking by each other this time around. The Miss Korea pageant turns out to be both an important goal for everyone involved, but also a worthy race that will change the lives of the characters I’ve come to care about immensely. Continue reading

When Puff Met Heechul: Filming Commences for We Got Married: Global Edition Season 2

Thanks to the media savvy folks at MBC, the second season of We Got Married: Global Edition kicked off its filming on January 15th and immediately we get a first look at the interesting coupling of popular Korean boyband Super Junior member Kim Heechul and up-and-coming Taiwanese girl group Dream Girls member Puff Guo (Guo Xue Fu). The TW-media already leaked the casting last week but Puff tried to play coy even this week with postings about how she wasn’t even aware she was participating on the show. Riiiiight. On January 14th, Puff jetted off to South Korea and immediately headed for the picturesque Nami Island to start filming. Her onscreen hubby Heechul was already there preparing for their first meeting and I’m dying to see what he crafted to welcome her. WGM might be scripted but Heechul is so delightfully 4D and completely unmanageable that I’m putting my money on most of what we will see to be impromptu stuff. One of the pictures showing Heechul with a rose in his mouth already has me chuckling. Puff has been sporting her orange-red hair since she wrapped the idol drama Just You with Aaron Yan in early November, a transformation she wears very well and looks great for all the promotional events and material on the just released first full length Dream Girls album Beautiful Headline. It’s adorable to see Heechul sporting a darker red tinted look to evoke an immediate couple’s image in this stills. I think this time the production has to drag Aaron Yan in for a cameo if possible. It was already side-splittingly hilarious in the Taecyeon-Gui Gui coupling when at the housewarming party all the 2PM members kept yelling “Who is Aaron Yan?!?” after watching a scene from the drama where Aaron and Gui Gui kissed. It is serendipitous that the only two TW-actress co-stars who have had dating rumors with Aaron end up being on We Got Married: Global Edition. Maybe next time around it’ll be a Korean actress with Aaron. Heh. Continue reading

MBC Releases New Drama and BTS Stills for the Lovely Miss Korea

I’m hoping both that Miss Korea continues the fantastic momentum its built up from last week’s stellar two episodes and that more people dive in now when the timing is perfect. Episode 8 was a great pause moment for the story and serves as a great dress rehearsal if you will of what’s to come. Lee Yeon Hee‘s leading lady Ji Young enters the Miss Seoul pageant needing to place in the top-3 to advance to the Miss Korea pageant and she fails to reach her goal. It was heartbreaking to see how far she’s come, and how sincerely her stalwart team at Vivi and her protective family have been cheering her on. When everyone cried because she lost, the sadness was palpable leaping right off the screen. Since this isn’t one of MBC’s highly rated dramas (that would be Empress Ki owning the Mon-Tues slot) there isn’t as much goodies around so it’s a treat to see new stills for the upcoming episode 9 as well as wonderfully cute BTS pictures of the cast having fun while filming. The spoiler stills show Ji Young and Hyung Joon listening to a phone call that appears to bring good news, which is likely word that Ji Young will get another chance after another contestant is disqualified for concealing her eligibility status. I love how Hyung Joon’s hand is just so naturally grazing Ji Young’s hand. They have such unique and indescribable chemistry together and the romance is also developing in this drama at the right pace without overwhelming the joint goal of the two leads. Watching MK brings to mind those great sports movies while the protagonist trains and overcomes all the odds to win a big match or tournament. I love sports movies and it’s a testament to how well-written MK is that it manages to make something that is perceived as shallow such as winning a beauty pageant and infuses it with warmth and grit and purpose. Continue reading

MBC Considers 10 Episode Extension for Empress Ki and Releases Episode 23 Preview

Why is everyone either mopey or angry over the recent turn of events in Empress Ki? I’m thoroughly amused and having a blast. This reminds me of when Queen Seondeok went off the rails and had Deok Man love Bidam back. That was just….incredible to behold. Even fictionalizing history cannot come close to that level of mindfrak. Everyone was fine with it since Yooshin was just completely devoid of energy or chemistry with Deok Man anyways, might as well toss even the semblance of history to the wind and let the fanservice fly. EK is nowhere near the level of QSD’s popularity (that drama broke 30s in rating by episode 14 and then into the 40s it went) and right now the silly in EK is still rather manageable. Deposed Goryeo King Wang Yoo and Seung Nyang have consummated their marriage and she’s expecting a bouncing baby anytime soon, though delivering alone in a cave is not exactly the recipe for a safe birth. Empress Tanasiri somehow imagines she’s pregnant with Ta Hwan’s baby while Lady Park is having the longest baby-carrying term in biological history and still hasn’t dropped her Ta Hwan baby. Tanasiri freaks out upon discovering she’s not really pregnant and decides to get rid of Lady Park for good.

Seung Nyang escapes the attack but Lady Park is cut down, though Lady Park’s baby is pretty much full term and we don’t see if Lady Park dies immediately or somehow her baby can be delivered before she expires. The preview is out for episode 23 and its a doozy – both Ta Hwan and Wang Yoo are told that Seung Nyang is dead and both are understandably distraught, then we see Tanasiri with a chubby baby in her arms that she’s going to pass off as her own. I have no clue whether she’s holding Ta Hwan’s baby with Lady Park or Wang Yoo’s baby with Seung Nyang, but either way this drama is heading towards awesome delicious makjangness that I’m game to check out. Looks like MBC loves the steady ratings of EK and is asking the production to extend the drama by 10-episodes to end at 60 total so that its follow up drama Dae Jang Geum 2 has more time to prepare. It would appear that is a prudent move since Lee Young Ae has not signed up nor indicated she will do so for DJG2. Prudent for MBC though I’m sure the cast is hoping to be released from the crazy sooner rather than later. Since there are so many babies gestating in EK, below is also a screencap review of how the Wang Yoo-Seung Nyang baby got conceived. I’m fairly certain this time Seung Nyang didn’t freak out when Wang Yoo touches her unlike back in episode 1, heh. Continue reading

Prime Minister and I Episode 11 Recap

This was a rather oddball episode of Prime Minister and I, and I’m not even factoring in the eyebrow raising hints in the preview for the next episode. Episode 11 felt like filler yet it was decidedly meaty stuff. I’ve been angling for Da Jung to spend more time with her dad especially since he hasn’t much time left, and this episode allowed that to happen with the short separation between the OTP. We learn a whole lot more about In Ho’s brother, both his relationship with Na Young and what In Ho believes caused the car accident. I’m not sure In Ho has the whole story but it’s nice to see his character being fleshed out as conflicted rather than some devious mole. Joon Ki’s grudge match against Yul is also one where he’s not a mastermind insofar as he keeps generating one attack after another based on whatever means he has available. I enjoy not having to completely hate all the antagonists in this drama because we also see sides of them which are rather pitiable. Joon Ki’s missed chance with Hye Joo in college and his closing himself off to the yearning for affection Yoon Hee is all very sad. In Ho’s genuine affection for Da Jung becomes something that is both a crutch to his revenge plans for Yul as well as turns him into walking the same path his brother did when it comes to wanting a married woman.

Hye Joo remains increasingly courageous when it comes to her feelings for Yul and her pushing him to acknowledge his feelings for Da Jung does make some headway. This episode mostly kept the OTP at arms-length though clearly they have reached a self-awareness of their feelings for each other. The story gives them some time apart so other things can happen aside from their relationship evolution. It’s going to be a hard road to get Yul to fully embrace a future with Da Jung. He’s entrenched in the mind set that he’s never going to put her in harms way or tie her to a life with a widower who has three kids and a boatload of political enemies. Da Jung remains ever so stalwart in being true to herself and she doesn’t always buy Yul’s lies so readily. It’s clear both of them acknowledge it’s not so easy as saying “I love you” for them to have a genuine chance to make it work. What I continue to love about PM is its sincerity in presenting characters and their own motivations and thought processes without resorting to easy answers. The drama has admittedly allowed both the rom and the com to take a back seat to some quiet reflection time for everyone involved but I find myself welcoming a moment for the story to gather its bearings before speeding right back up at the end of episode 11 with a big woah-momma moment. Continue reading

Seung Nyang is Pregnant with Wang Yoo’s Royal Goryeo Baby in Empress Ki

Looks like the novelization narrative of Empress Ki is finally aligning a bit with the drama. Episode 22 took a turn for the hilariously makjang, or as makjang as it gets in sageuk land. I’ve always found EK to be rather pulpy though entertaining and sleek enough it’s been an easy watch. Its been a dizzying never-ending volley having this story constructed on a fictionalization of the life of Empress Ki, who we all know married the Yuan Emperor Huizhong in the history books, but then creating a love triangle with the Goryeo King out of it. It’s taken 22-episodes and finally Ta Hwan is starting to grow a pair and trying to climb his way out from under Yeon Chul’s tentacles, making it one of the longest maturation processes ever for a male lead. The other male lead Wang Yoo is for all intents and purposes actually doing something about his deposed station as the former King of Goryeo, but then his romance with Seung Nyang progresses in fits and starts since he’s mostly away doing stuff. First he subdues the Turks in the Yuan border, and now he’s back in Goryeo dealing with an incompetent dad and a scheming uncle. Thanks to the magic of potent sperm, Seung Nyang is officially carrying her hubby’s royal baby and viewers of this drama are either going to rejoice or scream holy hell. Looks like Lady Park isn’t going to drop her Ta Hwan baby since she gets cut down at the end of this episode, and then it ends with Seung Nyang in a cave all by herself either about to miscarry or deliver the earliest term baby in the history of gestation. This drama is now hilarious in ways I enjoy immensely since I’m not invested in it emotionally. Let Seung Nyang have her baby, have her Goryeo King hubby to the side, and then become Ta Hwan’s Empress so she can rule the world. Continue reading

Zhao Wei Is Breathtaking in Red to Welcome in the New Year for Marie Claire China

Celebrity photo spreads are usually appeal to fans only these days and its getting harder and harder to come by something that is either creative or pretty. The rare best is to be creatively pretty but I’ll take either/or over the bland pose and stare at the camera schtick. A-list C-actress and director Zhao Wei graces the cover of January 2014’s edition of Marie Claire China and it was a home run effort that got me to sit up and take notice. I like Zhao Wei well enough but I freaking love these pictures. The concept was the color red, which in Chinese culture symbolizes prosperity and good luck. Since January is both the start of the Western New Year as well as the Lunar Chinese New Year at the end of the month, the magazine put together a photoshoot with Zhao Wei wearing only red clothing. This could have been striking but forgettable but instead is like a mini portfolio of art pieces. In the post-topping photo, Zhao Wei is in a red strapless full length ball gown with a voluminous skirt with feminine ruffles peeking out in certain areas. She’s sitting on a traditional Chinese living room settee but in the backdrop is an empty warehouse that is frosted in colors of grey and blue. It’s so breathtaking and lovely. The rest of the pictures are equally as awesome and a great detail is how the stylist arranged Zhao Wei’s short cropped bob so that it actually looks both edgy and ladylike. A few of the pictures are distance shots but the one where Zhao Wei is staring close into the camera while wearing a simple red sweater with her nails and lips the same shade of rouge evokes a sense that she’s about to share a secret with the viewer. Enjoy this eye-catching photo spread as a great way to add a dash of luck to start off the new year. I’m sure we can all use it. Continue reading

Yoon Kye Sang Smolders with Raw Angst in First Teaser for Melodrama Full Sun

Dayum, now this is what I call slaying the audience with one look. The first teaser and stills are out for the upcoming KBS prime time melodrama Full Sun and I think I’m all in at this point. At least I’m all in when it comes to checking it out without any expectation or reservation based on my affinity at first glance. I enjoy melodramas to a certain extent and in limited dosages. I probably have a threshold limit for it and the packaging and execution has to suit my tastes. Last year I only dived into Scandal: That Very Shocking and Immoral Incident though I did have room for another great one to come along but nothing else worked for me. It’ll be nice if Full Sun turns out to be well-crafted because right now the two leads are convincing me based on a glance that the chemistry and intensity will be present. Yoon Kye Sang makes his drama return in 3 years (since 2011’s rom-com Best Love and sitcom High Kick 3) while his leading lady Han Ji Hye has been doing very well in stupid makjang territory with weekend dramas such as May Queen and I Summon You, Gold. I confess to having no particular desire for them to work together but seeing them in character for Full Sun is a relief that they look good together in terms of intensity.

Melodramas rise and fall on intensity of the leads to sell a very crazy story line usually rife with every possible tragedy and coincidence under the sun. We have to feel their plight with our gut to swallow the plot insanity. Much as I loved Nice Guy (The Innocent Man), if I lined up the entirety of the story elements it becomes just a series of improbable events strung together into an even more absurd string of impossibilities. A good melo makes you care and takes its time to build up the connective markers however topsy turvy so that the audience is in as deep as the characters. Right now Yoon Kye Sang has already pre-sold his male lead character by his aura of wounded hunger and clinging desperation. When it comes to rom-coms, I prefer having a strong female lead since the male characters are typically gorgeous and perfect but emotionally need saving. I’m the opposite when it comes to melodramas which I watch for the male lead character and his trials and tribulations. It typically involves copious amounts of physical pain (which is too much to inflict on a female character) in addition to emotionally getting pulled through the wringer. I have to like my male lead to love a melodrama so here’s to hoping Yoon Kye Sang’s acting charisma gets paired up with a good script and a great character in this go-around. His last melodrama was the shiteous Road No 1 that I still need to scrub from my mind. Continue reading

Prime Minister and I Episode 10 Recap

Episode 10 of Prime Minister and I dipped a toe into more serious territory and reminds us that behind the hijinks and warmth of a contract marriage is two very different people trying to live a real life behind a public charade. Yul and Da Jung are being as candid and sincere as they can be under the circumstances, and I continued to be blown away by their ability to communicate and resolve issues. All the ducks are lining up in a row as the stirrings of romantic affection starts butting up against the reality of the political battlefield. Right now Joon Ki is the villain of this piece with him gunning to take down Yul for both personal affronts and professional inadequacy. The truth is that marriage to Yul is not easy and I applaud Da Jung for being aware enough of her reality and cognizant that she’s finding happiness in this situation. I was pleased that In Ho’s confession to Da Jung was resolved with candor and mutual agreement to move past it. In Ho can’t help like Da Jung, she doesn’t like him other than as a friend, and he cares for her to the degree he’s willing to remain a friend to her and set aside his feelings. All of this unfolds in Yul’s eyes but he is one step ahead of it all, dealing instead with trying to protect Da Jung’s feelings and well-being.

Hye Joo keeps on surprising me with her attitude and actions, taking no shit from Joon Ki towards either Yul or herself and giving him a taste of his own medicine. I quite like her now and hope she moves on from Yul soon and finds a nice guy of her own. She may have let her envy rear its head around Da Jung a few times, but ultimately she has never interfered with Da Jung and Yul’s growing fondness for each other. The kids are pretty much in the bank for Da Jung and it’s refreshing to see the drama reach this point without fanfare and instead delivers the growing closeness of a blended family coming together. Yul’s team of bodyguards and driver remain the cutest helper cupids ever and great for an amusing reaction shot or three. The narrative continues to surprise me with a combination of feints and daydreams that suggest the OTP may be reaching mutual confession stage, except in reality the big moments just don’t matter in this drama as the little details remain the richest source of watching satisfaction. Yul and Da Jung’s falling in love is built on learning about each other, and my love for their romance continues to be built on the very satisfaction of seeing love grow by spending time together.

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