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.

My Absolute Favorite Male Actors from Asian Dramas

These are the guys who I consider the very best at their jobs, which are to interest me, make me laugh and/or cry, keep me entertained and sometimes make me swoon. They are the actors I anxiously await new work from because they are amazing.

They are listed in no particular order, since I like them all pretty equally. What they all have in common is an ability to act. probably beyond what they have been allowed to do. They are all expressive, most can do comedy as easily as they do drama, and they all fully immerse themselves in the characters that they are playing.

  1. Park Seo Joon (Korea)

There are not enough adjectives to describe why I like Park’s work. He is basically the total package. He plays humble just as well as he plays arrogant. He was not just especially hot (which is not a requisite for this list btw, though I would like to commend him for his perfect abs and make out abilities, which seem to be on point). He was also oh-so-humble and sweet in Witches Romance (which I only recommend for his performance), and in Fight for My Way (one of my favorite dramas of all time), while he was completely conceited in What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim. He was also hilarious and made me laugh during every episode. His comedic timing is also showcased in Midnight Runners, along with his ability to do action. Basically, he can act in anything.

My only problem with Joon is that he does not act in nearly enough stuff. And I refuse to watch any interviews with him or the show he’s in in Spain. This is because he could turn out to be an amazing person, and not just an amazing actor. Than I might start viewing him as a prospect, not just an artist, which would be deeply problematic.

2. Aaron Yan (Taiwan) (China)

Although typecast first into youth shows, since he started acting so young, and then romantic dramas, I believe with all my heart that Yan could act out any genre presented to him. If I were a producer I’d bring him to the U.S. and give him something Oscar worthy, but I’m not one, so a girl can only dream. That said, I love him in a romantic drama because he’s truly believable in whatever character he plays, and his love for the female lead looks completely sincere (because 🌟 acting). I think his seeming sincerity is what sets him apart, along with his expressions (that I’ve referenced on this blog before), which are incredible. As a viewer I can see what he is trying to convey at all times even when he has no dialogue.

My favorite Yan show is Just You (one of my fav dramas ever) because it is cutesy and interesting and entertaining (plus I really love his co-star Puff Kuo and think they make a great team). In Just You he manages to be a character (Qi Yi) that is multi-dimensional. Qi Yi is anal retentive, hard working, bitter, lonely, mature, youthful, responsible and kind, all at once. That is not an easy feat, especially in a drama that is fairly lighthearted. Yan is also (in my opinion) the very best male actor kisser in all of Asia (major feat, right?) and the fact that he may not be the least bit attracted to any of the ladies he has kissed, despite getting all 10’s from me for it, makes him an absolute rockstar actor in my book. And during the only time I have ever watched a behind the scenes of a show video (since they are not normally my thing), I saw that he is a consummate professional who goes from being himself into character the second the cameras are rolling. Lastly, he gets no acting points for this, but he is also the actor I would most like to have a conversation with because he seems like a fun, funny, and intelligent person, and I’m impressed by his personal strength.

3. Puttichai “Push” Kestsin (Thailand)

First off, this man could have chemistry with a rock, as observed after he was in a show where he spent over a dozen episodes falling in love with a bird (Leh Nangfah). Watching that, I really wanted to be that bird. I’m guessing most viewers did. Kasetsin clearly took his role seriously because he talked to that bird and cuddled that bird like it was a person and made a story that is fantastical and kind of crazy totally believable.

As an actor, he is not only capable of delivering perfect dialog, like Yan he has great facial expressions and like Joon he is great at comedy (Wannueng Jaa Phen Superstar had me laughing out loud). He can play anyone from a student to a CEO and can play a romantic lead like no other.

He gets no extra points for this since it’s not about his acting, but from a aesthetic dental perspective Kestsin has the most perfect smile (even better than Park Bo Gum’s). I also appreciate his willingness to be exploited into taking off his clothes in all of his lakorn’s so his fans will be happy.

4. Seo Kang Joon (Korea)

I was first introduced to Seo in Cheese in the Trap (the show version). I didn’t love the show, but he gave me my very worst case of second lead syndrome ever. His character, although a technical bad boy was just so everything, and the girl still fell for the sociopath (which sadly happens in real life way too often). And although I liked the character, I think that if another actor played him I wouldn’t have been as receptive, because Seo played him just right. He was able to play sincere, angry, sweet, responsible and irresponsible at one time. And later in Are You Human Too, he plays two completely different characters with different attributes, and does an amazing job. I really think this ability, to create such multi-faceted characters is what sets Seo and my other favorite actors apart.

Seo is also a professional, which I gauge from the fact that he seems so mature when he acts. I’m sure this comes from his years of acting experience, but I genuinely cannot believe he is 25. This is a compliment to him because it’s not easy to seem mature at that age. I’m sure I didn’t seem half as grown up as he does at that age.

5. Ahn Hyo Seop / Paul Ahn (Korea)

Ahn’s acting stole my heart in Thirty But Seventeen (see my review here). He was adorable. And like Seo, he managed to take a character and elevate it,making a character that was not meant (by the writers and director) to be my favorite into my very fav of the drama.

I also love Queen of the Ring, which is cutesy with a positive message and Ahn stole my heart (as a viewer) in that too. He is just charming, even when he is meant to be conceited, musical (Top Management) or back from the dead (Abyss) which is why I will basically watch him in everything he does from now to eternity.

K-Drama: Introverted Boss (7.9/10)

I stopped watching this drama after the first episode and only just picked it up again. I slogged through episodes one and two on my second go at it and almost turned it off again, but forced myself to continue. Lucky for me, it did get good after that.

This is a story of a girl who’s sister died and years later she gets a job at the company where her sister worked, which is also where she lost her life. The company happened to be co-led by a painfully shy guy, and I mean painfully shy so he had no interaction with most staff and rumors about him abound. The companies other co-leader is a very charismatic guy with abandonment issues who has a close relationship with shy guy and his family.

Through a series of events the girl and guy end up in each others orbits and she tries to get him out of his shell. The plot includes a mystery, familial drama, and of course romance.

My favorite thing about this drama was the internal monologue of the introverted boss versus his actions and the miscommunications that ensued from them. It showed realistically the many considerations someone is faced with when they plan to speak or act on something, especially people with any sense of anxiety, and especially as it relates to other people’s view of them. And it was done with a lot of humor.

The love story was pretty good. It got a little draggy about 3/4 of the way through, but picked itself back up at the end. I actually liked the secondary love story best, and the relationships between all characters were interesting. Also the chemistry between the leads was on fire.

The cons were that the girl, although adorable (Park Hye Soo did a great job) didn’t seem to have boundaries. Also the couple faced one too many challenges and one of them made me think they shouldn’t be together so it dampened my joy about their reunion a little.

Generally though, this is a good drama. I probably won’t watch it again but think it’s worth watching once.

Choosing a Drama

Decisions, decisions…

Choosing a drama is a lot like deciding what to eat for dinner or where to go on vacation. There are a lot of variables and in the end it’s usually about what I’m craving most. Some days a light, fluffy romace is the best thing on earth and other days something with more depth or comedy is up my alley. In this vein, I thought I would share with you all my steps for choosing a drama.

  1. What am I craving? i.e. what type of drama am I in the mood for. Whatever it is I am a happy ending girl, so anything I watch has to have that.

2. My first choice is usually Chinese. The irony in this is that Korea has more dramas and they’re generally better and there are good Thai and Filipino dramas too, BUT, I’ve been learning Mandarin so I try to find c-drama’s whenever possible so I can practice.

3. Does the plot sound good?

4. What rating does it have on My Drama List, since I’ve found that the ratings and reviews are usually on point (with a few exceptions). I try to stay at 7.7 and up unless I really love the plot and/or the actor/actress so I don’t waste my precious time.

5. Is the lead guy even remotely attractive >>> because I’m superficial I have a hard time watching romances where the guys are not my cup of tea.

6. How many episodes is it <<< Since I have to plan how I spend my precious time

7. Can I find it eng subbed

I dont know if anyone else uses this method, but it works pretty well for me.

K-Drama: Bring it on Ghost (9.2/10)

Lately I’ve been trying to watch the dramas whose summaries didn’t really do it for me when I first read them, since I’ve recently learned the life lesson that they are usually much better than they seem like they’ll be.

This is why I finally watched Bring it on, Ghost, plus it’s directed by Park Joon Wa who is a gift to us all.

I adored this drama. So much.

As part supernatural thriller, part mystery, part romance, part comedy with some action sequences and dysfunctional family dynamics thrown in it stayed interesting until the very end. And sweet. And funny.

I didn’t think I was much for the supernatural type stories, but this one was so much fun to watch.

The friendships and romance all grew organically the way they do in the very best dramas, the ghosts were both funny and scary,and the actors were all great in their roles.

Lead actress Kim So-Hyun is everything good. Funny, sincere and a badass, and omg is she pretty. She’s looks like a doll.

Kim So-Hyun

Actor Ok Taec Yeon was good too. And his black suit was on point!

I also love Kang Ki Young’s acting, in this and anything he’s in.

If you’re like me and the plot summary didn’t float your boat when you read it, give it a chance. I promise that you won’t regret it.

K-Drama: Kill Me, Heal Me (8.2/10)

I finally got around to watching Kill Me, Heal Me which is much beloved by many drama watchers. I liked it, but didn’t love it.

What I liked: The plot, the intrigue, the comedic elements, Park Seo Joons acting (as always) & SHIN SE GI.

Pure comedy

What I did not like: That the leading lady dressed like one of the homeless people with the shopping carts that I’d see when I lived in San Francisco. Her style couldn’t have been any worse. It included awful fake fur coats, crocs, and hair bows, even though she looked 30. Not to mention her hair 😦😕😫😖 which looked like a wig or a helmet. I genuinely had a hard time following the plot because I was so distracted by her ‘I dress like a blind Ajumma’ look. I mean, at one point she had a hair clip on that made it look like she had a dead mouse on her head.

And the lead guy (and by this I mean Cha Do Hyun) was bland and boring compared to his baddy altar ego Shin Se Gi, who made guy liner look hot, so I had a bad case of second character syndrome the whole way through. I pretty much cheered for Shin Se Gi and waited for his reappearance the whole show. And it hurt to see him rejected, although the leading lady couldn’t handle him anyway, and she didn’t deserve him. She really was more suited to Mr. Vanilla.

Shin Se Gi

Unfortunately my disinterest in the end result of the love story between the leads caused the drama to lose some of its luster and had me fast forwarding a lot towards the end, since I wanted to see the mystery solved, but didn’t feel like focusing on helmet hair and the boring guy she liked so much.

I still recommend this drama. I mean it cracked an 8 score, so it’s not all bad. You just have to have a high tolerance for doctors who dress like homeless people and don’t start crushing on Shin Se Gi the way that I did.

Also, I am trying not to feel lasting trauma from the fact that the brother and sister in this end up a couple later on (in She’s was Pretty). Hopefully I don’t end up blocking it out by creating multiple personalities. 😉

K-Drama: Thirty But Seventeen (8.2/10)

This 2018 drama from Korea is pretty good. I am not rating it as high as My Drama List does because there were a couple things I didn’t like. Overall I’d give it an 8.2/10.

The story itself was interesting, better than I thought it would be based on the summary I read before watching it.

I also liked all of the characters and thought the actors that played them did a good job.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a girl who goes into a coma when she is 17 and wakes up when she is 30 and tries to adapt to life as a 30y/o when she still feels like a teenager. She also doesn’t have any support when she wakes up and in trying to find some ends up in the orbit of two guys who are related to each other plus their friends etc.

Of course there was a love triangle, which was the vehicle that I think highlighted what I consider the main weaknesses of the show.

The weaknesses (in my opinion) were that the character Yoo Chan (support role) was actually a better fit for the main female protagonist Woo Seo Ri, played by Shin Hye Sun than her other suitor. Honestly if I just watched the montage of their times together I would have considered them to be a really strong k-drama couple. There was a reason they couldn’t be together without pushback so realistically I know why they were doomed to fail, but I ended up heart broken that they were.

I think this is because Ahn Hyo Seop who played Yoo Chan did an incredible job. He truly stole the show. I thought I might be alone in thinking this until I found out that he would be starring in Abyss with Park Bo Young who is one of my fav actresses. He must have wowed someone to get a role that coveted. (PS This is the upcoming show I am most excited about).

The other issue was that although actor Yang Se Jong did a great job playing the male lead Gong Woo Jin (tho technically if he just smiled his amazing smile through the whole thing I’d probably say the same thing lol), I don’t think the writers sold me on the romance between the leads. I got that they were attracted to each other, but they were soo emo all the time, especially building up to their confessions that they never seemed to have much fun together and I really didn’t get what else they saw in each other. I guess it was fate (eyeroll for that neverending cliche)

Other than that, and the fact that it could have been four episodes shorter without losing any depth, it really was a good show.

K-Drama: This Is My First Life (10/10)

All I can say is hats off to director Park Joon Hwa for his brilliance. I recently watched Because this is My First Life and LOVED IT SO MUCH. What a sweet, well paced, thoughtful, unique and funny drama. It made me laugh a lot, cry a little, and think profoundly about my life and life in general.

I give it a 10/10.


A house-poor man and homeless woman become housemates in a drama that examines the institution of marriage and the problems that young people face today. Nam Se Hee is a single man in his early 30’s. He has chosen to not marry. He owns his home, but he owes a lot on his mortgage. Meanwhile, Yoon Ji Ho is a single woman in her early 30’s. She does not own a home and envies those that do. She has given up on dating due to her financial struggles. Yoon Ji Ho begins to live at Nam Se Hee’s house. They become housemates.

I have no idea how to describe this drama except to say its about the life you expected to have versus the life you actually have in your 30’s, something I identify with completely. And of course it’s about love.

The lead actors Jung So Min and Lee Min Ki are phenomenal in this. Really the whole cast is talented and in case I didn’t make this clear enough, the director is amazing.

I am not sure teenagers and some people in their twenties will like it as much as I did, since it may be harder to relate to, but maybe they will.

Aside from the major storylines, something I liked a lot was that both women who were part of a love triangle were portrayed as strong, smart and mature, which was really refreshing. And the kitty, who plays a starring role is adorable.

My petty gripe: I didn’t like the clothing Lee Min Ki’s character wore. His floodwater pants and orthopedic granny sneakers were awful. So was his haircut for half the show. Because of his wardrobe I kept forgetting that the show was not based in the 90’s. I’ll take the guys in Chinese dramas with their white shirts and perfectly fitting sweatpants over his look any day of the week. Stylists take note.

This picture doesnt come close to showing you hojw bad some of his outfits were, but its the best I could find…

Readers, I highly recommend watching this. It’s SO GOOD!

I’ll end with some fun trivia. Jung So Min and Lee Min Ki played Mi So’s parents in What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? 

K-Drama: What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? (Not much)

I was looking forward to this drama, despite it initially having mixed reviews. Why? Park Seo Joon, which you probably already guessed. Although he is not my type in real life (i.e. if I saw him on the subway I probably wouldnt give him a second glance — unless he was shirtless because those abs are everything 😉 I adore him as an actor. It’s a mix of the fact that he goes all in on his roles and that he has some of the best comedic timing.

My rating 8.8/10, close to the My Drama List rating, which was 8.6, last I checked. This drama is pretty fluffy so even the serious stuff ended up seeming less serious. What makes it great is how funny it is. I actually giggled. So my compliments to screenwriters Baek Sun Woo and Choi Bo Rim for writing something so funny. Plus the actors worked really well together.

The plot was slightly different from others I’ve seen although most of the formula stayed the same, especially the rich man/poor woman theme which seems to make up the majority of Korean dramas. And it wouldnt even be a drama if one of the leads didnt accidentally fall on top of the other one causing them to stare breathlessly into each others eyes.

There are cutesy graphics that I didnt think were necessary since they made it even less serious, but they didnt ruin the show, so I give them a pass. I did not like one of the supporting characters because she was beyond irritating and I hated the hair on the workaholic guy (note to guys: Do not middle part your hair. Ever!)

Lastly, I would like to thank Park Joon Hwa and Park Seo Joon’s other directors who add completely unnecessary shower scenes to their movies just so we viewers can swoon over his muscles. Thanks much lol.

K-Drama: The Secret Garden (9/10)

This is a Korean classic. And I can see why. My rating: 9/10. This film is the best of kdrama, romance plus freaky friday rolled into one. I was interested from the first episode and it had the kind of depth I like in a show. And one of the lead characters makes the most romantic gesture I’ve seen yet. Plus how cool that the female lead character is a stuntwoman.

I still can’t decide if I find the male lead Hyun Bin is attractive or not, but he has a nice build.

Also, the side stories aren’t half bad, which I can’t say for every show. The main supporting actress Kim Sa Rang looks like a Korean Jennifer Lawrence.

My Drama List information here: https://mydramalist.com/8-secret-garden-2010.