K-Drama: Itaewon Class (7.9/10)

This drama had promise. So much promise. If you have ever read my blog posts you know that I love Park Seo Joon’s acting. I will ride or die for him if anyone questions his artistic talent. That’s why it’s hard for me to say that despite his acting this drama made me mad and I wouldn’t watch it again if you paid me.

The acting by Park and the rest of the cast was good. The production value was also high. And the beginning was interesting and made it seem like the drama would be a good one. These are the reasons why I have rated it as high as I have.

Here is a summary of the show from Mydramalist:

Park Saeroyi’s life has been turned upside down after he gets expelled from school for punching a bully and his father is killed in an accident. Following his father’s steps, he opens a pub named “DanBam” in Itaewon and, along with his manager and staff, strive towards success and reaching greater heights.

What the summary fails to mention is that this show is about revenge.

The first quarter of the show centers on what happens that makes the lead character Park Saeroyi want revenge and who he wants it against. And his crush on a girl that he gets to know.

The next quarter is about how he works towards getting revenge which involves opening a pub that he staffs with a motley cast of characters, one of whom is in love with him.

The third quarter is about his growing revenge success and the forth is the culmination of all of this.

I was fairly into the show, although not addicted until quarter three when I wanted to throw it out a window. Basically the beauty of Park Saeroyi, that made him worth rooting for was that he was ethical and principled and would adhere to his principles no matter what it cost him. He loyally loved the same woman for over a decade, he stood up for anyone he felt was oppressed and he chose people over immediate revenge.

Then all the sudden he threw that side of him away, except that I can’t tell if that was meant to be a moral to the story. It doesn’t seem like it. More like the writers had him transition to be an unethical disloyal, revenge over everything type person while pretending he wasn’t. I haven’t read the manga it is based on, so I don’t know.

Worse than all of this, the lead/second lead female was AWFUL. I don’t know if I have ever disliked a character more, outside of some really evil sageuk ministers or evil moms of chaebols. She was described as a sociopath, which seemed right based on her behavior. She was a fairly bad friend, bigoted, although she would eventually see the error of her ways, but only because of Park Saeroyi who she was in love with.

It wasn’t really clear, minus his strong sense of ethics, why the ladies liked Park Saeroyi who wasn’t a great communicator and had one of the worst haircuts I’ve ever seen. And he didn’t disrobe like Park Seo Joon’s other characters have, so it wasn’t about his muscles. But they did like him – a lot. What is less clear is why anyone in their right mind would like this girl. She was a 20 year old running after a 30 year old, crossing serious boundaries to do it and being a godawful human the rest of the time. How any writer, director or producer thought that I would ship her with this guy or even root for her is beyond me. She is the kind of person that I cross the street to avoid IRL.

All I can say is that I ended this show after episode 14 of 16. Near the end of the episode I actually thought that I wouldn’t fault a guy for pushing Park Saeroyi into a street and in front of a speeding car. In fact, the show could have ended like that and I would have given it a better rating. That’s when I knew I was done.

I read the summary of the last two episodes, which helped validate that I made the right choice.

K-Drama: Hi, Bye Mama (1st Impressions)

This is a drama on Netflix about a woman who dies and becomes a ghost. As a ghost she spends years watching her husband grieve and then re-marry, and her daughter, who was born the day she died, grow up. When her daughter is in kindergarten something happens to her and as a result the woman gets 49 days to come back as a human.

I LOVE this drama more than I can say. The main theme is grief and dying , but it is sweet and fun and funny – and sad.

Most of characters are torn about what they should be doing. The husband has a new wife so he doesn’t know how to properly communicate with either woman. His first wife, the main character doesn’t know who she should reveal herself too and how she can be a mom to her daughter when her daughter doesn’t know her and her stay is only temporary. She also has to save her daughter from some trouble. The new wife doesn’t know that the first wife is back from the dead, but meets her, a woman who looks like her husbands deceased wife who has an attachment to their child, and is not sure how to handle it. She is also having some trouble communicating with her husband and with the mean treatment that she gets from the other neighborhood moms.

There is also a cast of characters who are all ghosts that live in a crematorium together. They don’t want to go to the afterlife because they want to continue to be there – in spirit – for their living family members. They all interact with a shaman who can’t bear to make any of them move into the afterlife if they don’t want to go. Although they mostly drive her crazy.

This drama will make you laugh. There is a scene with a sliding glass door that makes me laugh every time I think of it, and so many other scenes that I laughed my way through. And there are great sismances and bromances that are enjoyable to watch. And NO villains, which is so refreshing.

This show will probably make you think about the value of life and how you will be remembered when you are gone. It might make you cry. I think I’ve gone through at least one box of tissues so far because death can be so unfair to the people who pass away and the people they leave behind. This is illustrated in the main story and most of the side stories that are told.

You may also end up addicted to this show. I am. It is so hard to wait week after week for new episodes because it ends on the best cliffhangers. I am halfway through it now and already know it will be going on to my list of favorite shows of all time.

Drama Burn Out? Please Help

K-Drama, C-Drama, J-Drama, T-Drama, Th-Drama, A-Drama, UK-Drama burnout?

I am genuinely wondering if I am having drama burnout. I usually watch in the moments when I am home after a hectic day or week (which is every day and week) to relax and be entertained. I watch a lot of Asian dramas but really I watch shows and movies from all over the world. As long as they are interesting, fun and/or funny I’m in. I have a long My Drama List list of plan to watch shows, but somehow I haven’t been able to settle on a show. Maybe I am burned out or my attention span has become so small it’s invisible or maybe the shows I have left to watch just aren’t as good. I’m not sure.

This week has been a little crazy because I was sick and now I am working to make up for the work I didn’t do while I was sick and there is nothing I would like more than a great drama I can kick back too. Maybe one I can watch on the weekend since we have a house rule that Saturdays are lazy days where we don’t get out of our pajamas if we can help it. But I HAVE NOTHING TO WATCH 😲😲😲

I am currently watching one great Taiwanese drama which is a billion episodes as usual. I love it but am not always in the mood for it. I also have another half dozen shows I have been shuffling between that are varying degrees of good.

One show I want to watch is Itaewon Class, but I know if I start watching before the final episode I may get addicted and I am a complete fail at waiting patiently for new episodes to air, same with the Thai BL drama that is ending in March. So what else is there? New? Old? Asian? American? European? Australian? African? South American? Anarctican, I’ll even take that.

For reference my fav (type) shows are comedies al a Arrested Development, Coming to America and The Big Boss, competition shows and movies and dance dramas like Dance Academy and Dirty Dancing, slice of life dramas like Fight for My Way, romance such as This is My First Life and Some Kind of Wonderful, Romance slice of Life’s like Coup de Foudre, K-Historicals like Scarlet Heart Ryeo, Mr. Sunshine and Rebel and any good action movies with obvious villains and badass good guys/ladies.

If you have a show you recommend PLEASE tell me because I’m dying here.

TY,

Rachel

K-Drama: Just Dance

I held off on watching this drama for YEARS because there is nothing I love more than a dance competition story. For instance, Dirty Dancing is my favorite movie of all time I also adore stories about kids who accomplish more than most adults expected of them. Especially when they are based on true stories. My very favorite is Stand and Deliver. Just Dance combines both so I was basically saving the best for last, or at least for a moment when I could reward myself.

Now if only I had known it would be a darker look at the human condition… I still would have watched it, but maybe I wouldn’t have been expecting lighthearted montages of dance practice and memorable lines a la Bring It On like “It’s already been broughtin.”

Instead, I think I went through a whole box of tissues while watching Just Dance. And that’s because it focuses on life in a small town full of what people in Seoul consider “hicks” where shipbuilding is the major industry. The lead, Kim Shi Eun is a girl with good grades and big dreams, constrained by her upbringing. She is the daughter of a widow whose husband died under dubious circumstances. Her mom continually tells her not to strive for too much, pushing her to graduate from her technical high school and get a job on the island.

I could relate so much to the lead. I was born to parents who have little in the way of ambition and though they love me, they have not been interested in assisting me in meeting my goals, which have always been loftier than their own.

My experience is also laid out in this show which lays out its theme very clearly in the last four or so episodes. The theme is happiness and whether it is tied to achieving dreams or simpler than that. Basically what does it mean to be happy, is it attainable and will it be lasting.

This is told through the stories of Kim Shi Eun who wants to get out of her small town and direct films and the ragtag group of girls who ended up on their schools Dance Sport team. Girls who were the children of people with big ambitions for them, no ambitions, alcoholics, grandparent guardians and parents who were worried that their kids would leave for the big city and never be back.

It was also about Mr. Lee the dance sport teacher whose purpose was to help as many girls as possible in whatever ways he could, although he was a supporting character throughout.

There was also a love story between the lead and a boy whose dad was her moms superior at work whose families had drama between them (because it wouldn’t be a k-drama if that wasn’t in it lol). In my opinion the lead boy was adorable. He was sweet and kind and loved the lead as much as any teenager could love someone. Kim Shi Eun, on the other hand was awful to him a lot of time. It is something I loved and hated about this show.

I really appreciate that Kim Shi Eun was not a typical character in a drama. She wasn’t particularly nice or fun to be around. She was sometimes depressed, an elitist, a bad communicator and made some really stupid decisions. I think this was a unique approach and welcome it for its uniqueness and its tru-to-life’ness. It was definitely better than having a lead character who the plot says is amazing but in actuality is not.

On the other hand I was basically yelling at the screen when she was at her worst. Even though I knew it was a show I was so mad at her for the way she would treat her friends and a boy who so clearly loved her despite all of her flaws.

Overall I really liked this show. The theme really resonated with me since I think we all struggle with what happiness is and whether we are truly happy, and if so how happy. I also liked the underlying themes around class and the issues facing people who are just trying to get by since as a single parent that has absolutely been me. It is also the vast majority of the worlds population.

The dance practice and competition parts were nice, but it really was more the glue that held the story together rather than the main theme. As a result, I enjoyed it but it wasn’t the thing that kept me watching. I watched to see what would happen next with the characters, especially Kim Shi Eun, her mom, the boy who loved her and the outcast rebel Park Hye Jin who I would watch a whole show about on its own.

Overall, Just Dance was pretty depressing, definitely not the Christmas cheer I was expecting, but it was because it was so realistic. This show was also interesting, sometimes funny, unique, thoughtful, and very, very smart. If you don’t mind that it’s not sally sunshine than I wholly recommend it. Sometime soon I will be watching the original documentary the show is based on, assuming I can find it with eng subs.

K-Dramas Have Me Nostalgic for My Most Romantic Date

Since most of the dramas I watch have some sort of romance in them it got me thinking about some of my past romances.

My very best date was with my former fiance before we were engaged (I dated him after too but that’s a story for a different day). We were living in California and I was living in a small town filled with apple orchards and berry fields while I saved up to go to Europe.

It looked like this only it was eggplant and claret and the top was ruched.

That day we dressed up. Him in a suit and skinny tie. I wore a purple dress reminiscent of a ballerina costume, backless with a strap that went around my neck and a floaty skirt. We made a really gourmet dinner (my ex loved to cook and bake and had hoped to open a bakery). We packed it in a basket, along with a bottle of wine and headed to a really cozy park nearby where people rarely went on weekends since there were only picnic benches, trees and a small art center, which was closed for the day. We spread out a blanket on the picnic table and ate there.

As the sunset filled the sky my ex put on music in his truck which was parked close to the table and asked me to dance. We danced for the next hour until the sky was dark and a chill was in the air. Then we drove home full, drowsy and completely contented.

That was my best date so far. Here’s to hoping I get more like that in the future.

Breaking: Love with Flaws actor Cha In Ha, 27, passed away today

Rest in Peace Cha In Ha 차인하

In Ha who is known for acting in a number of K-Dramas (k-dramagraphy below)was found dead in his home today. His cause of death is still unknown and police are investigating.

He was 27, born July 15, 1992.

This is a statement from his agency (via Soompi)

Cha In Ha’s k-dramagraphy (via MyDramaList)

Here is an interview In Ha did in 2017. He seems like such a sweet and intelligent human being and he deserved to be here with us for whole a lot longer. 😢 😢 😢 .

My thoughts go out to all of his family, friends, colleagues and fans.

Best Songs from K-Drama OST’s

These are all of my favorites which I figured I should share with you 🙂

Goblin

Favorite Song: “Stay With Me”

Singer: Chanyeul & Punch

2nd Favorite Song: I Miss You

Singer: Soyou

 

Her Private Life

Favorite Song: Almost all of them

Singer: Almost all of them

Moon Lovers: Scarlet Ryeo

Favorite Song: Can You Hear My Heart

Singer: Epik High ft. Lee Hi

Touch Your Heart

Favorite Song: Make it Count

Singer: Chen

 

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon

Favorite Song: Double Trouble Couple

Singer: MAMAMOO

Man to Man

Favorite Song: Destiny

Singer: Park Bo Ram & Basick

Because This is My First Life

Favorite Song: This Life

Singer: Moon Sung Nam

I Am Not A Robot

Favorite Song: Do You Know Me

Singer: Stella Jang 

Oh My Ghostess

Favorite Song: Leave & Gimme a Chocolate

Singer: Park Bo Young & Jo Jong Sook

*Best actor sung K-Drama OST songs

Arang and the Magistrate

Composer: Kim Hyeon-jong

*Best instrumental K-Drama OST

K-Drama: Extraordinary You (1st Impressions)

I breezed through the first four episodes of Extraordinary You and I love this drama so much! It’s really going to hurt to wait for new episodes, but luckily I’ve got a busy couple months ahead which will hopefully help.

There are so many things to adore about this drama. Here is a list:

It is unique. Even though it’s about a girl who finds out she is actually a comic book character, which is similar to W (k-drama) and Unexpected (c-drama), the plot line and camera angles are very different then any drama I have watched.

The plot is very interesting. See summary below. The way it’s executed is fantastic and there is something for everyone since it’s part fantasy, mystery, school plot and romance with some humor thrown in.

The main character Eun Dan Oh played by Kim Hye Yoon is hilariously adorable. She is a tad bit whiny but I forgive her because she makes the unbelievable believable.

I have zero idea what’s going to happen next from episode to episode, so it leaves me hanging, but excited to see what comes next.

SUMMARY

What would you do if you found out that you were, in fact, a character in a comic? And an extra character on top of that? Change the course of the story, obviously!
Eun Dan Oh is a 17-year-old high-school student from a wealthy family who suffers from a lifelong heart condition that inevitably means she will not live past her teenage years. However, when Dan Oh realizes she is experiencing long gaps in her memory as well, she comes into the unhappy inheritance of another fact in her life: she is a character in a Korean webtoon and all of her actions are predetermined by the artist who draws her. To make matters worse, she discovers she is only a supporting character in the cast. With her newfound understanding of the world she inhabits, she is determined to find true love in her own plot-line and circumvent the author’s plans for her character by utilizing the flashes of storyboard she alone is able to see.
(Source: onehallyu)

The 4 Ways K-Dramas Have Taken Over Our Real Life

Who knew that an addiction to K-Drama’s would not just mean a steady viewing schedule but would mean other changes would happen at home too.

1)My kid went to school with sageuk hair lol We are currently watching Don Yi (circa 2010) and she loved the little girls hair so much that she is now sporting an identical hairstyle (though not as perfectly done), which actually looks really pretty on her.

2) I’m Rachel and I’m a kimchi-a-holic. I’ve always loved Korean food (#Bibimbap4forlife) and liked kimchi, but watching everyone eat it in k-dramas made me crave it. And the more I ate it the more I wanted it. Now it’s a fridge staple that I don’t think I could live without. Luckily for me, we have a large Korean population where I live so finding it isn’t too hard and I can pick and choose whose I like the most. My favorite meal with it is rice drizzled in sweet soy sauce and a fried egg.

3) K-Dramas are solely responsible for my unhealthy eating habits. This is because my fried chicken and beer intake have increased exponentially. Watching everyone in K-Drama’s eating fried chicken and drinking what looks like ice cold beer always makes my mouth water. Next thing I know I’ve decided that’s what we’re having for dinner.

4) Sometimes I walk around with random Korean words and phrases in my head, and more often then not, I have no idea what they translate to in English lol

My Absolute Favorite Female Actors from Asian Dramas

I think you can officially say I’ve seen a lot of Asian dramas. One of the reasons is that I think that the acting still plays as sincere in a lot of them the way most recent mainstream U.S. dramas don’t. These are the actresses that I love to watch, mostly for that reason and/or because they are funny.

  1. Park Bo Young (Korea)

I love her acting because it’s versatile. She can play characters who are serious, sweet, funny or over the top, and make them all so easy to root for.

My favorite dramas with her are Oh My Ghostess and Strong Girl Bong-soon. The first is crazy, mysterious, sweet and funny. The other one is too, but add more action and comedy. In Oh My Ghostess her character is meek and reserved, while she is the opposite in Strong Girl Bong-soon. I also love Wolfboy, which I am embarrassed to admit made me cry. She played the character so well, I forgot she was acting and that science created bionic wolf males weren’t a real thing lol.

2. Shen Yue (China)

There is no way I couldn’t adore her as an actress because her characters stole my heart. She was adorable in A Love So Beautiful. I basically wanted her character to get whatever she wanted by the end of the first episode. And all her antics made me laugh. Then in Meteor Garden she played a character that had been done before, but managed to make it something really special. I like her even when I was annoyed with her for pretending not to here a guy tell her he liked her multiple times. And I think the scene when she was crying in the fountain is one of the most heartbreaking drama scenes of all time, which is 100% thanks to her acting.

3. Eleanor Lee* (China) (via Singapore)

If you’ve ever read my blog before you probably know that I LOVE ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ the show The Big Boss. It’s exactly the quirky, situational comedy type show I love (think Arrested Development, but high schoolers in China) with leads that have the most watchable, lovable love/hate relationship. Eleanor Lee plays the lead girl Ye Mu Xi and she is hilarious. She also does sad scenes so well that my heart hurt a little when her character was sad. See her character in action at minute 8 of this video.

My kid and I are excited to watch My Poseidon and Fake Princess even though we know they may not be nearly as good as The Big Boss because we love Lee that much.

She also did a lot of The Big Boss OST because she is an AMAZING singer. Here is one of her songs, which I highly recommend listening to because her voice is sooo pretty.

*She is the daughter of famed actress Quan Yifeng

4. Puff Kuo/Guo (Taiwan)

If there is an actress I think I’d like in real life it’s Puff Kuo. She seems to be nice and fun. I’ve mentioned a few (dozen) times on this blog that I love the drama Just You with Kuo and Aaron Yan. It’s a romantic comedy that, minus some unnecessary love triangle cray was basically made for me because I am completely entertained when I watch it. Kuo is so great in it. She’s cute and really funny. I wont give away the story, but there is a kidnapping plot that I laughed the whole way through because it was pure comedy. She’s currently starring in a completely different kind of show about love and infidelity called Before We Get Married, which despite my hatred of the plot is getting rave reviews, probably because she’s so good in it.

5. Vivian Sung (Taiwan) (China)

Sung makes every character her own and always makes me laugh. The 2015 movie Our Times, which she starred in has already become a cult classic. She plays a nerd who falls for the bad boy by accident and acts it out perfectly. My favorite role with her is in Proud of Love where she has a body switch with a guy in her college so she plays a guy in a woman’s body. She does the best job! Not only is she hilarious, she did perfect guy mannerisms, from her expressions to her posture. I also loved her in Cafe.Waiting.Love which is very, very kooky, but also very charming thanks to her and Bruce Hung.

6. Arimura Kasumi (Japan)

Kasumi has been acting for years and has so much talent. She earned my appreciation, (and most of Japan’s) for her acting in Flying Colors, which is about a girl who becomes studious after years of inattention to academics. Then she bowled me over in Chugakusei Nikki where she plays a teacher in love with her under aged student. There were moments when I really didn’t like her character, which is down to her great acting, since I’m sure I wasn’t meant to.

7. Kim Seul Gi (Korea)

The roles she gets or picks always seem to be charming, funny and a little self deprecating, and she does a great job with them. I LOVE her in Queen of the Ring and Oh My Ghostess and The Light in Your Eyes. She has managed to make me sincerely like all of her characters from a eunuch to a ghost to a student to a manager who never gets any sleep because she is always extremely entertaining. She is also good at looking sad in a way that makes me sad i.e. a truly good actress.