Look who’s back, baby! 2014 is off to a banging start with the New Year’s day breaking news about top idols Lee Seung Gi and Yoona of SNSD dating, and now with the January 2nd release of Rain‘s sixth full length studio album Rain Effect which is also his first album in four years (two of those years spent in the army). Two official MVs have dropped for the lead singles “30 Sexy” (which sounds like dirty sexy in the song chorus) and “LA Song”, the first song going for sleep K-pop dance and the second one more bandana hip-hop. I’m glad Rain waited a bit before launching his comeback since he was mostly surrounded by scandal all of last year. His relationship with Kim Tae Hee didn’t garner the same positive netizen reaction the way Yoona and Lee Seung Gi did. I don’t know why any celeb relationship gets negative feedback anyways since they are adults and date anyone they want. But the Korean domestic reaction felt Kim Tae Hee with her brainy good girl image was too good for the Rain, and then his military entertainment division scandal with a bunch of other male entertainer enlistees added to the feeling that he was shirking his public service duties which is a big no-no in Korea. Long story short, he was released from the army in the Summer and spent the last part of the year doing select events and overseas appearances while prepping for this album. Only time will tell how his musical comeback will be received but I like his first two singles and he’s definitely still on top of his game. I’m personally more interesting in his acting comeback which he’s not expressed any firm information on when that might happen. In the interview circuit for this album, Rain was asked about his girlfriend Kim Tae Hee and he actually answered some questions. He confirmed they are still dating and the relationship is solid but they don’t see each other much due to their busy schedules but they are consistently in touch through calls. He credits her for loyalty and sticking with him through his rough times and always encouraging him and offering constructive advice. When asked what she thinks about his comeback album, Rain revealed he doesn’t mix work and personal life so he didn’t let her listen to the tracks in advance or ask her opinion. Check out the official MVs below. Continue reading
Next week Pretty Boy ends which means the long in production Age of Feeling (Inspiring Generation) with Kim Hyun Joong finally sees the light of day. I’m actually very intrigued both in terms of the story as well as whether this drama has a chance to put a dent in the runaway success of You From Another Star. Normally big-budget period dramas tend to do well, and the last K-drama to deal with this era of early turn of the twentieth century was Gaksital (Bridal Mask) and that was a big hit for KBS. Age of Feeling has released the flood gates of promotional material this week, dropping the first official previews as well as the drama posters. I love two of the three posters a lot, the one where Kim Hyun Joong is so small while standing on the vast precipice of the city of Shanghai, and the one where the entire cast seems to materialize out of the fog as they walk towards the camera. The poster with the three leads including the two leading ladies Im Soo Hyang and Jin Se Yeon is totally meh to me, the color is dreary and everyone looks massively photoshopped. The teaser previews are fantastic and every penny spent on the production is evident in each frame and huge scale. I’m way more into the supporting cast for this drama than any of the three leads with Kim Gab Soo (needs no introduction), Choi Il Hwa (the still scary BB from City Hall), Yang Ik Joon (Jae Shik oppa in Nice Guy), Kim Sung Oh (When a Man Loves, Secret Garden), Kim Jae Wook (Who Are You), Han Jung Soo (Arang and the Magistrate), Song Jae Rim (Two Weeks), Yoon Hyun Min (Cruel City), Jung Ho Bin and many more. The PD helmed Call of the Country and The Man Who Can’t Get Married and neither of those dramas were bad but I confess to not remembering if the directing was all that memorable. I think this drama is definitely worth checking out and then making a decision then whether its interesting enough to continue. Of course the big question is whether Kim Hyun Joong has the acting range and depth to headline such a massive narrative undertaking along with a supporting cast of veterans and charismatic actors who can easily steal his thunder. For his sake I hope he’s not the weak link and surprises us all. The drama premieres on January 15th. Continue reading
It feels like Pretty Boy is the drama that drama-watchers have forgotten about. I rarely hear anyone still watching it and its abysmal ratings isn’t balanced out by a rabid online fanbase that other lowly rated dramas in the past such as Playful Kiss or even Jang Geun Seok‘s own Love Rain had. On the flip side is that no one is complaining about how awful it is, and when I left off at episode 6 the drama was still quirky and charming and way better that its ratings would indicate. I’m just on vacation for the last few weeks so have pared down my drama watching considerably hence PB is on the backburner but I’m sad that the drama is going to whimper to a finish next week and disappear into the ether. Despite Jang Geun Seok sporting a variety of interesting but not very attractive hairstyles, with a cut that managed to evoke comparisons to a furry mushroom or upside down duster, in the latest stills he appears to have turned back the clock a few years to the You’re Beautiful days. Awful wardrobe that only he can pull off, a hairstyle that is funky but strangely attractive on him, and lots of charisma evident even in stills alone. I actually thought IU was the standout in this drama despite the title being about the male lead and it was the story that didn’t allow their characters to fully develop strong chemistry. They were really cute together and I quite like their interactions, with IU not being annoying or creepy stalkerish in the least and Jang Geun Seok turning his character’s narcissism into both an asset and something to overcome. In these latest stills, the two leads are off on an ice-skating rink date and reminds me of a similar sweet scene in Mary Stayed Out All Night. I think Jang Geun Seok + ice-skating is always going to bring a smile to my face. If anyone is still watching PB please share some updates and maybe it’ll induce more folks to jump in now. I’m planning to keep on marathoning the latest episode soon. Continue reading
The first ever official still is out for the upcoming period movie The King’s Wrath starring Hyun Bin in his first post-military acting role. The Korean title for the movie isn’t the literal translation into the English title but has its own deeper meaning. The title is 역린 (Yeokrin 逆鱗) which represents the scale on a mythical dragon’s neck which is untouchable because once touched the dragon’s rage is released. Therefore the title is intended to symbolize how the King of Joseon is like the all-powerful mythical dragon and when his untouchable point is pressed then his wrath is something to be reckoned with. Hyun Bin plays King Jeongjo, the 22nd King of Joseon and one of its rulers who dealt with tragedy and hardship through his reign. His father Crown Prince Sado was killed by his own father (Jeongo’s grandfather) King Yeongjo, and later during King Jeongjo’s reign the political war between the Noron and Soron factions was at its peak and he became caught between the two court factions. This movie has quite a solid cast of sageuk veterans, including leading lady Han Ji Min who is quite familiar with the King Jeongjo story since she starred in the drama Yi San with Lee Seo Jin as King Jeongjo.
In this movie, Han Ji Min plays a political rival to Jeongjo as Queen Jeongsun, the wife of the late King Yeongjo. This makes Han Ji Min’s character the “grandmother” to Hyun Bin’s character in the movie which is pretty amusing. Usually playing the baddie, this time Jung Jae Young is the assassin sent to kill the king who goes undercover as a royal bodyguard but who becomes convinced of Jeonjo’s fitness to rule and doesn’t follow through with his assignment. Later Jo Jung Seok is sent as another assassin to finish the job. King Jeongjo isn’t fighting for power all alone as Park Sung Woong is a politician who strongly supports the King. While understandably a male heavy cast what with the assassination attempt main plot, Jung Eun Chae plays a court lady in charge of the king’s clothing and is the first love of assassin played by Jo Jung Seok. Another reason I’m excited about this movie is that it’s the feature film debut of director Lee Jae Kyu who directed some of my favorite dramas including Damo, Fashion 70′s, Beethoven Virus, and The King 2 Hearts. The movie is slated for a release in mid-2014. I think Binnie decided wisely to do a movie and to challenge his first sageuk role in the tragic and compelling figure of King Jeongjo. He has such expressive eyes and I can only image the firepower he can transmit on the big screen with very controlled acting and lots of unsaid intensity.
Despite my love for Prime Minister and I, its single digit ratings is clearly not bringing the happy for KBS and also for the rom-com genre in general. No wonder KBS is reaching back to its tried and true formula of melodramas for the post-PM slot called Full Sun clearly hoping to follow in the footsteps of Nice Guy and Secret. The drama confirmed it’s entire cast this week and I’m intrigued by all the random names mashed together. Yoon Kye Sang returns to drama land after Best Love and High Kick 3 in 2011 and headlines this revenge tale along with Han Ji Hye who probably is finally fed up with MBC’s makjang weekend fare such as I Summon You, Gold and May Queen. This is the first time Han Ji Hye has returned to a KBS Mon-Tues primetime drama since she got her breakout role in Sweet 18 back in 2004. Oh how time flies. Rounding out the cast is Kim Yoo Ri with scene-stealing turns in Cheongdamdong Alice and The Master’s Sun, the underrated Song Jong Ho who was excellent in both The Fugitive of Joseon and The Suspicious Housekeeper, as well as Jo Jin Woong. The story revolves around the diamond industry, an accidental death, and Yoon Kye Sang plays a role that takes him from wide-eyed high school student who then loses his father but his shitty life is even further ruined when a murder case involving stolen diamonds leads him to become a con-man. I’ve stopped face-palming when reading melodrama descriptions since it sounds so ridiculous yet in the rare instance when everything clicks it becomes this incredible thing to behold. The PD directed Women in the Sun while the director is a relative movie with Dream High 2 and the movie All About My Wife under her belt. I’m hoping for another Nice Guy so don’t disappoint me KBS! Continue reading
Oh man, I cannot believe In A Good Way went there and then managed to integrate it into the story. Episode 7 ended at the start of New Year 1997, but the latest video preview for episode 8 indicates a time jump to the Summer of ’97. Let me explain because that Summer the entire island was gripped in the biggest news story EVER in modern Taiwanese history. Remember the OJ Simpson hysteria and when OJ went on the run and was driving his car down the freeway, imagine a manhunt that lasted months instead of mere days with the entire nation watching and that was the Summer of ’97. The preview for IAGW shows the Treasure Hunting club heading into the mountains for their latest activity and Jia En disappears at the same time the news reports that kidnapping suspect Chen Jin Xing is reportedly hiding in the same mountain. In April of ’97, one of Taiwan’s top entertainers Bai Bing Bing had her only daughter 16 year old Bai Xiao Yen kidnapped on her way the school. The suspects demanded a ransom of $5 million US dollars and sent her severed pinky and nude bound photos to her mom. Her mom tried to pay the ransom but the kidnappers kept changing the drop location. This kidnapped was reported to the police but kept from the media for ten days before finally Bai Bing Bing appealed to the public to help her find her daughter.
Police finally cracked the disposable cell phones used to place the calls and tracked down the suspects but all three escaped including ringleader Chen Jin Xing. A day later, Bai Xiao Yen’s naked and mutilated corpse was found in a drainage ditch and the autopsy revealed she had been killed approximately 10 days prior, which meant she was long dead during most of the ransom drop calls. The ensuing manhunt to find the three suspects gripped the island in a state of frenzy because the three went on a run involving breaking and entering into random homes along with robbery and assault and rape of the homeowners. Everyone had their homes on lockdown and sightings came in from North to South as to people spotting them so they were everywhere. At one point the cops got a real tip and did find them and engaged in a massive street gun fight that was broadcast on TV since the media got wind of it and showed up. Eventually two of the three suspects were killed with the mastermind Chen Jin Xing remaining on the lam for a bit longer before he broke into the embassy of the South African ambassador and held his family hostage before the police managed to negotiate a peaceful surrender. This whole violent saga shook Taiwan which is a relatively peaceful place since gun ownership and violent crime is rare. I’m impressed IAGW weaved this into the story but am a bit sad to be reminded of what was a very devastating tragedy all around. Can’t wait for episode 8 to see how Liu Chuan and Jia En return to their normal interactions.
Last year on New Year’s day of 2013, K-ent was rocked with the stunning and out-of-nowhere news that Hallyu superstar and abtastic Rain was dating brainy A-list actress Kim Tae Hee. It really was a WTF moment to hear the news, not that I wasn’t happy for them but the general “where the heck did this come from” confusion. I didn’t want to make the same mistake again and went to sleep last night ready for whatever craziness to come this New Year’s day of 2014 and K-ent did not disappoint in the least. Tabloid newspaper Dispatch broke the news in the dawn hours that Nation’s Favorite Son Lee Seung Gi is dating SNSD‘s leggy Yoona. Excuse me for a minute to compose myself, even fortified to withstand any dating bombshell news this one is such a nuclear explosion I still feel the ricochet. Dispatch first caught them together in October after Seung Gi came back from a concert in Japan – he picked her up and they had a date the Han River for an hour or so before he dropped her off again and she left carrying a bag containing a present he brought back for her. Since then Dispatch has reportedly snapped them on dates a few times in November as well. I’ve said before that celebs are dating left and right and even the so-called breaking news leaks are coordinated with the tabloids, and in this case it was clear both of them got the all-clear for this to go public because within hours both agencies confirmed the news. They have been dating since September and it’s a very new relationship so the agencies have asked the fans to look upon them warmly as they start the tentative steps of a beginning romance. I think the arrival of Prime Minister and I was meant to change me on so many levels, with a rom-com I love, an onscreen couple I’m rabid for, and making me go from meh-to-adore with respect to Yoona because otherwise I’d be flipping tables right now hearing that my Seung Gi is dating her if I didn’t like her as an actress. Seung Gi has said in interviews in the past that Yoona is his ideal type but then so have a lot of other male stars. Looks like my boy’s got his wish and he’s actually dating the girl of his dreams. Congrats to them both and what a way to start of 2014. Be happy kids! Continue reading