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.

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)

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.

J-Drama: Chugakusei Nikki (8.8/10)

The leads

I was sick recently and all I did was sleep and marathon some dramas that had been on my list.

The one I want to review for you all most is Chugakusei Nikki because I have so many thoughts on this and ultimately want to recommend it to anyone who is comfortable watching the content, which is very controversial.

It’s about the inappropriate relationship between an adult teacher and her much younger student. Even though every person on earth may have a slightly different take and level of aversion to this idea, I am highly recommending this drama because it’s amazing.

I still don’t know how to feel about the idea. I feel like I understand – to a point how women teachers get caught up in these imbroglios. Many women feel unfulfilled and unappreciated, even while in relationships and the panting puppy dog love and attention of pubescent boys might flatter some of them enough to act on it. But even understanding that, if a 25 year old teacher did anything inappropriate with my daughter when she’s 15, their days would be numbered.

There are also the social ramifications for this behavior, which vary from country to country, city to city. It is generally seen as wrong, although a century or two ago, it typically wasn’t. The current age of adulthood also varies from place to place so what is illegal in one place is legal somewhere else. But despite how wrong it is considered to be in most places, it still happens. Possibly the most famous of these types of relationships was between 15 year old student Emmanuel Macron and his much older teacher, who is now his wife and the first lady of France. Chugakusei Nikki adds to his conversation.

This show is dramatic and very interesting, and some parts of it are beautiful. It follows a young, somewhat demure teacher, her fiancee, the student who falls in love with her, the student who is in love with him, his mom, his friends, the fiancees boss and some other characters as they navigate around the growing feelings between the teacher and her pupil. And shows the many repercussions the teacher, student and their friends and families faced as a result of their feelings and actions.

I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say that watching all this play out kept me captivated. I also rooted for happy endings for everyone, as I always do, but here it felt much more strange to do it. I am not sure I would have hoped that the student, once he reached adulthood could be with the woman he loved if he hadn’t already looked like an adult when he was meant to be 15. If he had been a realistic 15, all gangly arms and legs and pimples I may have viewed him much more maternally. Instead though, Okada Kenshi who played the male student looks like a hot Japanese jock in his twenties so it was a little harder to see the age power dynamic at play with his teacher, played by long time actress Arimura Kasumi who only looked a couple years older. Kasumi did a phenomenal job in the role.

If you don’t mind watching something controversial, watch this drama because the story is interesting, the acting is good, the production is good, and it will leave you thinking about it even after it’s over.

C-Drama: A Journey to Meet Love (8.6/10)

First, I have to say that this drama has a stupid name, which may also explain why it was 5th in the ratings in China last week despite being an amazing show. Guys and other people who aren’t into pure romances and romcoms probably don’t realize from the name that this show is so much more than that. It is action, slice of life, romance, mystery, intrigue and cop show all in one.

This show is so good that I will probably judge all other c-dramas by it in the future the same way I do with A Love So Beautiful. I highly recommend you watch it, even if you don’t normally watch Chinese dramas. I’m just a little more than halfway through and I already like it so much that when Vidfish had technical problems so only the subs were visible, but not the show itself and Youtube had raw episodes I McGuyvered it so I could read the subs on vidfish on my phone while watching the show on Youtube on my computer. I mean, that’s dedication.

Why I like it so much:

The plot is really interesting

It is about an undercover cop who ends up investigating a girl in her twenties who is somehow involved in an art theft and potential drug or money laundering operation. He is tasked with learning abut her role and retrieving the stolen art. The audience gets to know right away what her role was while the cop has to put the puzzle together himself by embedding himself in her life using false pretenses. The leads and supporting characters end up on a trip together across part of China where the girl and cop take part in a reality show while gangsters and thugs of all kinds follow and try to take them out. And of course feelings develop, but this drama makes the romance part a much longer, more natural progression than many others, which is nice.

The scenery is incredible

The characters drive from Shanghai to Shangri-La and I could not ask for a better tour of China. Not to mention that the people filming are really talented. A lot of the shots are stunning.

The law enforcement element is very well done

One of my favorite parts of this drama are the law enforcement scenes because of the way the investigation is portrayed. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly realistic, but it’s close for drama world. It’s a lot of logistics and coordination, but in an interesting way. And the relationship between the fairly conceited cop and his boss is fun to watch. I wish all shows about law and order were like this.

There are a lot of fight scenes

Almost every episode has a fight scene with lead actor Chen Xiao against one or more people. They are really well choreographed and he does a great job, which I judge because I watch his fight scenes with the same breathlessness that I watch Jackie Chan’s.

The character development is fantastic

Every single character is interesting and has been completely fleshed out during the drama to the point where you could imagine that they exist in the real world.

The lead male character Jin Xiao Tian is insanely likable despite the fact that his undercover persona is slightly annoying and loserish. Its because he is clearly a determined cop, with a tongue and cheek humor who continually protects people, sometimes at his own expense. And his fight scenes are badass. And even though he isn’t my type, he is appealing in a puppy dog eyes, superman savior kind of way. I presume this is because Chen Xiao is close to perfecting the craft of acting and embraced the character wholeheartedly.

The lead female is slightly less likeable to me, but I don’t blame actress Jing Tian who did a great job with her. She plays a girl that (although scheming) is very low maintenance, and self reliant, and mostly on the side of right. My issues with her are that she is somewhat self absorbed, willing to tank other peoples plans to ensure hers are safe. And she will not listen to Jin Xiao Tian even though he keeps proving that his advice is good, so she keeps getting herself and him and others into dangerous situations. Of course this drama would be much shorter if she didn’t do this, so I get really annoyed when it happens and then grin and bear it.

Second lead He Min Han who plays Chu Zhi Han, who is an heir, business startup owner and the coordinator for the trip the characters are on is pretty much faultless in his performance. His character strives to be kind and ethical at all times, even when it hurts him. Although he is single minded when it comes to a lady he likes and unable to see past her to any other options. The lady after him was Qin Shan, a professional livestreamer who is also very likable, as is Chu Zhi Han’s’s best friend A Pei and the entire cast of parents and baddies and law enforcement agents.

My only gripes so far are the leading ladies bad decisions and the fact that one of the villains isn’t all bad, so it’s hard to hate him. There are also long musical interludes, which are nice but sometimes I just want to get to the action.

Watch this show. Really! You won’t be sorry.

K-Drama: Cunning Single Lady (8.5/10)

This is one of my favorite k-dramas.

When I first read the synopsis I was so-so on it. And the name didn’t help. Luckily MDL rarely does me wrong. Most viewers seem to have similar opinions as me on shows so I can trust most of the ratings and reviews. And the reviews for this show were good. I am actually rating it higher than they did because it checks all the boxes on the things that I think make up a good drama. I rate it 8.5/10.

Basically if you ignore the plot summary and read mine instead it may sound better:

Young couple gets married with the expectation that the husband will work in civil service and the wife will be a homemaker. Except the husband decided to start his own business, which forces the wife to support them both until she can’t take it anymore. After a series of events, she divorces him and tries to work her way out of debt (accrued while supporting him) and poverty. He is heartbroken and thinks his wife broke her promise to stand by his side, but his business succeeds and he becomes a sad single* successful, wealthy businessman.

The ex-wife who is still struggling learns of his success and decides to get revenge, but its hard when she still deep down loves him…

The plot is good, but what really makes this drama is the cast. Lee Min Jung who plays the ex-wife is fantastic (Note: She is currently one of my favorite actresses). Joo Sang Wook who plays the ex-husband is adorable, so adorable, even when you want to kick his character, you also want to smile at him i.e. his ex-wife’s dilemma becomes every viewers dilemma, thanks to his performance. And the supporting lead is none other than Seo Kang Joon (one of my favorite actors and cause of my 2nd worst case of second lead syndrome in Cheese in the Trap).

I like the characters in a Cunning Single Lady, which were well developed, was absorbed all the way through and really happy with the end, which is all I can really ask for out of a drama. These are also the reasons why I recommend it.

*Bridgette Jones reference 🙂

C-Drama Comedy: Proud of Love (8.7/10)

This show is so funny!

I’m constantly having The Big Boss withdrawals because, as I mentioned in another post, I love the show so so much. To help curb my withdrawals, I recently watched C-Drama Proud of Love which has some similar elements to The Big Boss.

Proud of Love stars Vivian Sung, star of the much vaunted movie Our Times and Tong Meng Shi of historical drama and Basketball Fever fame. It is about a body switch between college students, a plot line I never get tired of.

What makes this different from other body switch shows is the following:

  • The characters don’t conform their personalities and mannerisms to the body and identity they were switched to, so they pretty much act like themselves while inside the other persons body.
  • There is a focus on the realistic effects of switching genders, like when the guy (He Zhi Zhou) in the female (Shen Xi’s) body gets his first Aunt Flo or when Zhi Zhou gets aroused as a guy for the first time (in the boys locker room -whoops! 😳)
  • This show is also a little more explicit than most c-dramas with lots of body talk and some about sex.

Truth is, calling this a drama is wrong, It is much more of a dramedy. and it’s very best feature is that it had me laughing the whole way through. All the akward moments, and the great acting by Sung and Tong made the show hilarious. Note: Big Boss is still the king of LOL moments, by far, but Proud of Love is definitely funny.

Honestly, with the exception of a few special effects, there was only one thing I didn’t like about the show. They made their second lead too lovable. He is played by Darren Chen who played Hua Ze lei in Meteor Garden. And unlike that drama, where I was ambiguous towards him and his character, he is adorable in this and watching his character be sad made me sad. It is the only reason I’ve resisted watching Season 2 because I can’t decide whether the endless funny makes up for the sads from his sad face.

I highly recommend this if you like dramedy and you don’t get easily embarassed since there are dozens of akward situations where you will likely be peeking out from behind your hands. Because I love to laugh, even at the akward stuff, I give it a pretty high rating overall, which is 8.7/10.

C-Drama: About is Love (better than expected 8.1/10)

I recently watched the c-drama About is Love. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much. I actually thought I would likely change it after an episode or two based on the plotline and pics which looked really cheesy, but I was pleasantly surprised.

This drama wasn’t perfect and I will share why in a moment, but it passed my completely unscientific good drama test. It was addicting, I liked the main characters and I wanted them to be together.

The plot which either steals from a number of others or was stolen from is about a guy (young head of a company – of course) who can’t have physical contact with people, but finds someone who is an exception and tries to get her to help him treat his condition. Except he goes about it the wrong way and has to learn top be more considerate and apologetic in order to get what he wants. As a result they become friends and start to care more about each other.

What I liked: The lead girl is nice and had a backbone, the story has some cliches, but was generally unique, the lead guy is pretty lovable, and the story regarding the leads bff was good and added to the drama, instead of taking away from it. And I loved the old school video game scenes. (Note: It took me forever to figure out that the lead Yan Xi was a contestant on China’s Super Idol. I kept thinking he looked familiar, but couldn’t place him since he is a little older in this.)

What I’m so-so on: The fashion was ok. Most (not all) of the guys clothes were flattering and modern, but the girls usually looked like she dressed herself in the dark. There weren’t enough shirtless guy scenes, which was a shame because Yan Xi’s build was, in my opinion, the most attractive thing about him. And one of the supporting characters love stories kind of annoyed me because I believe in the “bro code,” and I think they broke it.

What I didn’t like: The lead girl was painted as an idiot (as so many Asian dramas do, a plot device that I as an intelligent female in a world filled with intelligent females HATE) even though most of her actions were pretty smart. Also, the leads took too long to figure out how they felt about eachother, since it was obvious, and the ending was pretty anti-climactic. I sat through at least 30 episodes to get there and expected that the investment would pay off in full, which it did not. It wasn’t the worst ending, but could have been so much better. I feel this is a trait of c-dramas since almost all of them have left me slightly unfulfilled at the end, maybe because I grew up on Disney where they always live happier ever after.

Overall I recommend this show, which will give you hours of mellow and pleasant entertainment.

What is the WORST drama you’ve ever seen?

I am VERY curious to know what drama you dropped almost immediately or kept watching even though you basically hated it? All comments welcome.

Mine was Rush to the Dead Summer, which is a c-drama from 2017.

The sad part is this drama has a high production value and the acting is pretty good, but I still hated it.

I think the kiss of death for any drama is unlikeable leads or supporting characters that are more likeable than the leads. That’s what what was wrong with this show.

I spent the whole drama trying to figure out why the lead was so special – and failing. She was fairly average, self absorbed and completely insensitive to her best friend. And maybe because of this, the best friend, although not perfect, was multi-dimensional, and an underdog, which made her more interesting to me.

I won’t give away the whole plot, just say it was a coming of age drama that started in high school (with actors that looked college age. sigh.) and showed their development as professionals. And as adults who, in my opinion, didnt always make the best decisions.

And as the drama came to an end, and a happily ever after seemed imminent for people I wasn’t that invested in, I lost complete and total interest in it, even loathed it a little and with 2 episodes to go, ditched it completely.

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. 😉