Being involved with something for a prolonged period of time means remembering the heydays and mania events as well as living through the cooling and downturn trends. The Hong Sisters You’re Beautiful was one of the most mania drama watching experiences I’ve ever encountered and the drama launched leads Park Shin Hye and Jang Geuk Seok towards potential super stardom. That one drama didn’t mean they were A-listers but it definitely put them front and center to get there if their future career trajectories held. How their careers actually did develop in the last 5 years since YB requires its own post but right after the drama fans clamored for them to work together again which never materialized. Park Shin Hye instead reunited with her second male lead Jung Yong Hwa in a subsequent drama Heartstrings but has only been able to work again with Jang Geun Seok via CFs. Their latest go around heads outside of Korea and has just dropped thanks to President’s brand Orange Juice drinks in China. Jang Geuk Seok has been their rep for the last two years (this year makes it his third with them) and last year got to work with Park Min Young. He might’ve had a say in bringing Park Shin Hye on board because it can’t have been cheap since her stock has skyrocketed in China recently thanks to the very popular Heirs with Lee Min Ho. I really like them together, a combination of nostalgia for YB and the fact that they actually have genuine chemistry together. It can be playful or intense with an undercurrent of flirtation. It’s not very sexy or romantic but more like flirty oppa-dongsaeng who are happy with the current status quo and don’t want to rock the boat. I’m unclear why this ad campaign chose to dress the flamboyant Jang Geun Seok in Liberace’s cast offs but at least they styled Park Shin Hye to look her young age. I recall Jang Geun Seok and Park Min Young filmed a web mini-drama for their ad campaign last year so hopefully the same thing will happen this time with Park Shin Hye. Continue reading
I’m not going to sugar coat what a major letdown episode 13 of In A Good Way turned out to be. All the fantastic momentum of episode 12 was sucked into a twin vortex of expulsion woe plus interrupted confession tension. If either had worked out well then I wouldn’t be as peeved, but with neither plot thread unfolding in a satisfying way I was left asking “that’s it?!?!” when the final scene rolled. Even worse was the lack of a preview. That is a big no-no in my book since it leaves my mind scrambling to make sense of what exactly comes next. The episode started off well and I thought the fall out from the protest concert was nicely done. Everyone with eyes saw the major hugging between Liu Chuan and Jia En and now it’s impossible for her to deny it must mean something. I liked how she tentatively tried to make sense of her own feelings and the quickened pace between her and Liu Chuan when he plainly asked her out on a date. When she accidentally called it a date and then backtracked, only to have Liu Chuan correct her that he sees it as a date, that was the highlight of the episode for me. That, plus Xiao Wei almost completing her blossoming transformation into a girl with backbone as well as Bai Xue giving Jia En the green light to go ahead with Liu Chuan.
I knew Bai Xue would get there, and their conversation was so beautifully moving with both sincerity and sadness, because friends can still wish each other well even if it hurts. Ren Wei is slowly turning his friendship with Jia En into the type of friendship Bai Xue had with Liu Chuan, where one side harbors an unspoken affection for the other while still toggling comfortable camaraderie. I don’t feel the frisson of tension or awareness between Ren Wei or Jia En even if they finish each other’s sentences and know every little detail about each other. It’s reassuring that Ren Wei is working through his own metamorphosis with respect to how he feels about Jia En, and he’s still her best friend and always has her back. The tension sapping in this episode was really the problem of coupling the potential Jia En and Liu Chuan expulsion with that last and final step confession between them that would have opened the floodgates for their future interactions. Suddenly everything grounded to a halt and then Liu Chuan finds himself needing to play the white knight by selling his principles out to dear old dad. I can’t handle the possibility that Liu Chuan made a deal with the devil to save Jia En, and that the exchange may actually end his freedom journey early and at a cost to the first girl he’s ever opened his heart to. He’s come so soooo far and he was so soooo close, and then the coldest cold water ever was poured on our poor thwarted OTP. Aish, next week can’t come any faster. Continue reading
Whatever magic pill the production team of Empress Ki swallowed recently, it ought to share with other drama teams out there. The drama is narratively firing on all cylinders with equal measures delicious makjang and genuine heavy stakes. The best part for me is actually the reinvention of the relationship between Yuan Emperor Ta Hwan played by Ji Chang Wook and Ha Ji Won‘s future Empress Ki Seung Nyang. I never bought the early bits of bromance bonding, and loathed every minute of her time in the Yuan palace as a serving girl while he made every attempt to spend time with her and pine after her. He was like a spineless toad, she was reduced to a saying no out of hate and defiance while in a subservient position. But now she’s his Consort and the smartest, deadliest one at that, and with her lighting the fires he starts to dare to fight back against Yeon Chul’s iron thumb. It was impossible to care about the good chemistry between Ha Ji Won and Ji Chang Wook for the first third of EK since their character interactions were so utterly dumb and maddening. Now that they have become a couple I can root for (along with the OTP of Seung Nyang and Wang Yoo), it’s perfect timing for their collaboration on the latest ad campaign for sportswear brand North Cape. Normally Ha Ji Won owns every photo shoot for me, but this time Ji Chang Wook took my breath away with that shot above. Boy deserves to top the post by looking so sporty and naughty and serious all in one look. It’s a shame his great physique is mostly all covered up in EK (as is wasting the chiseled perfection of Joo Jin Mo) so it’s a nice reminder of how great he looks in modern clothes. He makes that windbreaker look sexy. Does anyone else get Lee Bo Young-Lee Jong Seok vibes from this noona-dongsaeng pairing? Ha Ji Won has a different kind of chemistry with Ji Chang Wook than she did with Lee Seung Gi, I get the sense that Ji Chang Wook totally idolizes Ji Won noona and wants to learn from her. It’s adorable and works great for a sportswear brand ad campaign because they give off a strong playful vibe together. I hope Seung Nyang at least tries to love her hubby back, now that she’s his Consort there is no going back to Wang Yoo so might as well get some action with the guy who worships the ground she walks on. Also delivering eye candy for all of us, heh. Continue reading
I have to admit, even if Suzy‘s high profile cameo in You From Another Star was as random as random gets, it was still so darling and cheeky I got a huge kick out of it. I think those who haven’t watched Dream High just won’t understand what a kyaaaaa moment it is to see Kim Soo Hyun and Suzy acting together again. Yeah, they do those Bean Pole commercials and photo shoots which are also ridiculously adorable. But here they have dialogue, and oh my lord was it Throwback Thursday perfect. Suzy shows up in episode 17 smack in the middle of a fight between leads Do Min Joon and Chun Song Yi. Wuri Hallyu superstar is understandably upset that her alien boyfriend is leaving for another planet in a month and isn’t in the mood to hear explanations despite said boyfriend is trying to explain himself. That’s where Suzy’s cameo comes in, and I almost fell off my seat when she opened her mouth and introduced herself as his student Go Hye Mi. LOLOLOL, seriously? Not only is she playing the same name character as her role in Dream High, she is that character herself because her next line is that folks have told her handsome Professor Do looks a lot like her ex-boyfriend Sam Dong. LOLOLOL, jinja? So Suzy does a flirty scene with Kim Soo Hyun as Professor Do while explaining he looks like her ex-boyfriend Kim Soo Hyun as Song Sam Dong.
Only in a drama as whatever with its own narrative mythology as YFAS can a meta-cameo like this work brilliantly. I am, however, very upset that my Hye Mi calls her Sam Song an ex-boyfriend! He’s not an ex, he’s her boyfriend who happens to be pursuing a music career in NY! Humph, those two never broke up and years later at Hye Mi’s concert she was totally singing to her honey while he was rocking out at the Grammy Awards. Anyhoo, this was a nice 3 minutes of happiness for a DH fan like me, and bonus points for Suzy actually being animated and still bursting with chemistry opposite Kim Soo Hyun. Don’t get me wrong, I still worship Jeon Ji Hyun as Chun Song Yi and her character should get everything her heart desires and more in this drama, including finding a way to convert her alien boyfriend into a human and live out the rest of their lives together. If the screenwriter has some naughty in her, she should mine those shoujo manga tropes and have sex be the answer, i.e. alien boy loses his alien-ness once he does the you-know-what with a earth girl. Yes, I know it’s silly but so far everything about YFAS is silly including the presence of serial killer Jae Kyung lurking around every corner. Might as well make the inevitable deus ex machina silly and sexy times, you know what imma sayin’. Enjoy the Suzy cameo, it was awkwardly shoved into the scene but ended up being harmless fun. Continue reading
It’s In A Good Way Friday! It’s been such a slow drama week I was in danger of falling into a stupor. Now that the promise of more Jia En and Liu Chuan goodness is right around the corner, I’m all bright eyed and bushy tailed, standing at attention waiting for the cuteness to hit. Last week’s episode 12 is still reverberating through me, that was how incredibly satisfying it was. An entire episode stuffed with great narrative progression and tons of character interactions all over the place. The pairs are either getting together or falling apart in very clear delineations. Tracy and Ah Qing are going to date on a bet, and even better is that she’s a willing participant rather than being the object of a bet between the guys. I love Tracy, she’s a character that isn’t afraid to go against the grain or say things that are not very soothing to hear. Aside from being rather free with the ladies, Ah Qing has shown himself to be a stand up friend and a guy with conviction. She can do worse and might even reform him for the better. I adore Xiao Wei and Ri Qi’s slow slooooooow development because that so perfectly captures their personalities and styles. Ri Qi and Xiao Wei need their own space to do things at their own pace.
No need to rush those two because it’s clear if they fall in love it’s for the long run. Bai Xue and Ren Wei hit the skids fast, not that they were heading towards coupledom since Bai Xue never liked Ren Wei back. But it’s still sad to see them acting awkward around each other, an awkwardness brought on by Ren Wei suddenly not pursuing Bai Xue so openly. Once their tempo has been thrown off then it changes their dynamic and may take some time to settle back into a different rhythm. I’m not sure how Bai Xue will feel to learn that Ren Wei likes Jia En. She shouldn’t care since she doesn’t like Ren Wei, but at the same time she’s losing all the guys around her to Jia En and that might continue to hammer her self-esteem. She’s such a classy girl with a tough spirit, I hope she shakes off all the romance blues and finds her happiness elsewhere in her college life. Of course none of the potential pairings bring as much happiness as watching Liu Chuan and Jia En finally get together. I hope they get together in this episode, or at least take a giant step forward. A hug is good, it’s the talking (and kissing) afterwards that is even better. Liu Chuan is clearly going to confess but the question is how Jia En will respond? Or will she get a chance to respond before evil Professor Chang pops up to try and get Jia En expelled from CDU? We’ll find out in just a few hours.
Well I certainly can’t say I didn’t see this coming once Age of Feeling (Inspiring Generation) starting getting more buzz for its behind the scene shuffles than anything happening onscreen for viewers to nosh over. The cast of the period drama currently airing on KBS Wed-Thurs is quite large even for a prime time network show, and now the drama will have to go one main lead short in addition to changing screenwriters. Kim Jae Wook has quit the drama, effectively today when the official announcement came out but in truth as of last week’s episode 8 which was his last appearance. I’ve been watching AoF since the beginning and it’s been the weirdest thing ever that renders me really rather devoid of anything to discuss about it. I haven’t caught with this week’s two episodes so I have no clue how the drama wrote him out of the story, or will even bother explaining his absence since his character was so very peripheral to the main conflict anyways. All he ever did was have scenes with second female lead Jin Se Yeon, and as cute as they were together it felt rather pointless since she was even cuter with Kim Hyun Joong‘s character.
AoF is a drama which fulfilled some dire predictions of woe but not for any reasons people initially pointed to. Male lead Kim Hyun Joong was actually good. No, really, he wasn’t bad at all, and has enough screen charisma to carry the show on his shoulders as the male lead. It’s instead that female lead Im Soo Hyang‘s character and performance that sucks balls (god I can’t stand Gaya, she should be written off the show, her and her revenge blah blah blah, cry me a river). Conversely Jin Se Yeon is also good (who woulda thunk it?) and her character is endearing and ought to have been the female lead. The directing is interesting and easy to watch but the writing is abysmally bad. The writing is devoid of logical steps and instead makes detours, flying leaps, random bounces, and whatever explanation works to explain a scene away. I’m glad Kim Jae Wook is out so that means I can stop following along, other than checking in to watch cute scenes of Jung Tae and Ok Ryeon but based on the narrative trajectory those will be fewer and further between. An actor quitting a drama isn’t anything shocking, I’ve seen enough to know both the actor and the drama will survive the “oh my god, what happened?” water cooler gossiping. So long, Kim Soo Ok, below is a stills montage to your presence in the drama being a breath of fresh air in between all the fist punching and slicing and dicing. Continue reading
Episode 17 of Miss Korea had the sensation of a time bomb that got defused and suddenly everyone leans back with a sigh of relief. It’s not that the danger has all passed since every thriller movie usually has a few more last minute tricks up the sleeve, more like an unexpected reprieve from keeping the tension high. The drama has truly done a superb job so far of building up conflicts, doling out resolutions, and delivering the satisfying feeling of wrapping up a plot thread before moving on to another. I felt like episode 16 ended on a really emotionally raw moment, yet all of episode 17 was calm, mature, sensible, and therefore rather placid. This was the first episode where I felt the tension of this drama completely seep away. It was’t necessarily slow but I was left really unsure of what to expect going forward. It’s almost like the lead characters are all so smart and wonderful and able to solve their own problems, leaving me like a proud parent who is relegated to the sidelines and not even needing to shout cheers or words of encouragement.
Hyung Joon isn’t down and out in the least, not only able to put Ji Young first but still working towards rebuilding his own future so he can give her happiness in the long run. Ji Young doesn’t let Hyung Joon’s insecurity and failure affect her determination in holding strong to their relationship. Someone unexpected solves Ji Young’s eligibility snafu and ensures that she keeps the crown, while someone expected steps in to guide Ji Young on the next phase of her beauty queen journey towards Miss Universe. The story continues to keep even the supporting cast integral to the narrative and their interactions meaningful in the subtlest of ways. Ji Young’s Miss Korea win almost feels like so long ago because in the bigger picture it’s just one victory in a life full of never ending challenges. She has a bigger hill to climb, Hyung Joon starts from scratch all over again, but this time they are holding tight to one another. I was a tad worried that my OTP would have a separation but so far the drama holds on to such a refreshing concept of eschewing pointless detours when the goal is still the same and there is a still mighty long road ahead. Continue reading
My cutie pie Kang Min Hyuk has been a very very busy boy these past few months. I already liked him passably after watching him in Heartstrings years ago but that mild like turned to full blown love after he stood out in Heirs as the sole male lead I didn’t want to punch in the face and turning in a great natural performance to boot. Win and win! After Heirs wrapped he went back to his day job of being the drummer boy in the idol band CNBlue and embarked on the final leg of the band’s Blue Moon World Tour hitting up the United States, Mexico, and Latin America in the span of a month in January 2014. I’ve heard first hand accounts of the Los Angeles leg of the tour stop held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and heard the band put in a high energy hard working performance all around. The only gripe was that Min Hyuk stayed behind the drums the entire time and didn’t come out until the end for his bow. Now I don’t feel as bad not attending the concert, heh. He’s in the pages of the latest issue of The Star magazine along with his CNBlue band mates Lee Jung Shin, Lee Jong Hyun, and Jung Yong Hwa. The band is currently prepping for their next album with the title track revealed to be “Can’t Stop” and along with that release comes a comeback show airing on SBS in early March. Apparently this new album will consist of tracks all written by the various members which is definitely going to showcase their talents even more. I wanna hear Min Hyuk’s track so bad! I quite like the spread in The Star magazine though the make up artist could have laid off the massive lipstick on all four guys in the cover pic. Min Hyuk also made the news solo this week when he, along with same label artist Lee Jae Jin of F.T Island, were named honorary ambassadors for Digital Seoul Culture Arts University. They are both students there in addition to being full-time entertainers and are working towards a bachelors degree in music. Check out the pics from CNBlue’s photo spread for The Star as well as Min Hyuk being named the cutest ambassador of all time, even if it seems totally hokey and clearly an attention grab by the school. Continue reading
Loving the totally underrated Miss Korea makes a drama watcher’s job just that much harder. This drama is like MBC‘s forgotten step-child or something, despite the fact that its heads above the other dramas airing on the network in terms of quality. I can’t ever find anything new about it during the week wait between episodes and the network drops new stills and previews mere hours before a new episode airs. It’s like MBC doesn’t even want its few remaining fans to actually enjoy the watch experience. Grrrr, me be vastly annoyed, mateys! Episode 17 didn’t air on Wednesday night due to a last minute preemption for the Olympics likely due to a South Korean athletic being in medal contention that evening. I don’t know if MBC will air two episodes tonight but at least episode 17 is scheduled to air barring yet another last minute unexpected preemption. The new stills show stunningly gorgeous Miss Korea Jin 1997 Oh Ji Young in fine model form beaming for the cameras to show off the brand new make up product the Vivi cream. Or maybe the drama is actually blending meta with real life and it’s called the BB cream, either way it’s Vivi’s new breakthrough product that Yoon stole from under them and sold out to Bada. Unfortunately Ji Young runs into Yoon at the CF shoot and is none too happy as clearly etched all over her face above. Yoon really deserves a fist to the face soon and it’ll be even better if Ji Young is the one to sock him in the end. I’m pretty relaxed about what’s the come since the written and video preview for episode 17 tells us that the OTP hasn’t tanked due to Ji Young offering her prize money to Hyung Joon, but Hyung Joon remains firmly set on his noble idiocy route of handing Ji Young off to someone more deserving of her, whether it be in preparing for the Miss Universe pageant or perhaps even when it comes to her future happiness. I get his desperation and insecurity, so thank god Ji Young is in it to win it this time and that includes Oppa’s heart. Yay for this drama being both beautiful visually to watch and satisfying emotionally to snack on.