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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 7

2017/07/24 | | Permalink

Even ignoring the issues with So-ah's personality, she's also an unspiring character on account of her sheer passivity. Time and again, rather than do anything constructive to assist in her goals or Ha-baek's, So-ah just gets unceremoniously tossed into life threatening danger and has to be rescued from her plight by another character with actual competence. Whether that competence is in the form of a gun, better driving skills, or literal magical powers, the effect is the same- So-ah just ends up feeling like dead weight...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The King Loves" Episodes 5-6

2017/07/24 | | Permalink

So it's not just my imagination- the opening crawl explaining the background of "The King Loves", with the threat of Mongol invasion, coupled with the increasingly aggressive character descriptions, make it pretty clear that even the production team has realized the content of this drama is incredibly dense. Unfortunately background alone doesn't really help explain motivation. That much is a pretty strong stickler, considering the bizarre series of events that closes out episode six...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.07.21 - 2017.07.23

2017/07/24 | | Permalink

Nolan's "Dunkirk" arrives and conquers...

Christopher Nolan's critically acclaimed "Dunkirk" was released in Korea last Thursday and comfortably came out on top over the weekend. Many are already heralding it as one of the best war films ever and arguably Nolan's best. The film was shot on IMAX 65mm and is the first feature film to use IMAX cameras as hand-held cameras. From 1,245 screens, Nolan's epic depiction of "The Miracle of Dunkirk" sold 1.1 million admissions (46.53%), or $8.75 million. Its successful arrival meant "Spider-Man: Homecoming" was unable to claim a third straight weekend at the top...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 16 Final

2017/07/23 | | Permalink

"Duel" lets go of its love for twists and what we get instead is a predictable, but frankly appropriate ending to a long and arduous journey for our characters. With Deuk-cheon down, Seong-joon takes the lead. He and Seong-hoon have an honest talk for the first time since their childhood and our broken antihero finds some solace in his game-ending choices regarding the  miracle cure and Sanyeong's involvement...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 15

2017/07/23 | | Permalink

The penultimate episode of "Duel" is filled with suspense, regret and hopelessness as Mi-rae's and therefore the twins' and Soo-yeon's lives are in danger. Seong-hoon is having a breakdown and is therefore unpredictable whilePark San-yeong will stop at nothing to succeed. Sadly for him, his rivals are equally tenacious and the time has come for the most risky move from Deuk-cheon and Jo-hye yet...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Falsify"

2017/07/22 | | Permalink

The time has come to once again tap into our unlimited reserves of hate for the corrupt rich as "Falsify" brings more revenge on the Korean drama table. This time around the struggle involves the world of journalism; a welcome twist to the usual business- and law-related takes. Let me guide you through my current thoughts.


Han Moo-yeong (Namgoong Min) is a reporter who uses his own methods in order to reveal the truth about the death of a loved one. When the law no longer supports justice and the press hides the truth, the only measures that work exist outside of the norm...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Ash Flower"

2017/07/22 | | Permalink

Ha-dam (played by Jeong Ha-dam) is a normal teenage girl who lives in an obscure township somewhere in Chungcheong. While a generally happy young woman, Ha-dam does frequently run into the problem of not having very much to do in her spare time, considering the only people she knows are the adults in her immediate family. That changes when the much younger Hae-byeol (played by Jang Hae-geum) comes into Ha-dam's life, claiming to be an obscure relative...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Another Night"

2017/07/22 | | Permalink

Seok-i (played by Kang Pil-suk) is a Chinese man who used to live in South Korea, where he married Eun-im (played by Kim Sae-byeok). He briefly returns to find out what happened to her after receiving a mysterious letter. Seok-i has to ask old friends to get any clue of what happened to Eun-im, and progress is limited. Much like Seok-i himself, Eun-im simply drifted away from the world she knew, since there wasn't anything to tie her down...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "No Name Stars"

2017/07/22 | | Permalink

Following Chun Doo-hwan's ascent to power, brutality by government forces was common in order to assure that no one challenged the new political order. In Gwangju, on May 18th, 1980, this brutality reached a tipping point. Attacks against people who weren't even related to ongoing political protests enraged enough common citizens that they took to the streets and defied the government with show of force. "No Name Stars" is the story of those people- what they were doing then, and what they are doing today...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man Who Dies to Live" Episodes 3-4

2017/07/20 | | Permalink

The other Ji-yeong (played by Lee So-yeon) is, at present, the most likely suspect for Count Said Faid Ali's daughter, although this is based on limited information. Count Said Faid Ali's information is filtered through Abdullah Mohammad Waliwala (played by Jasper Cho), and we've been getting hints that he is not to be trusted. It's just that Count Said Faid Ali is too eccentric to notice. Observe his bizarrely complicated plan for eventually meeting his daughter that in the short term just involves spending a lot of time with Ho-rim...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man Who Dies to Live" Episodes 1-2

2017/07/19 | | Permalink

Count Said Faid Ali (played by Choi Min-soo) is The Sheik- not literally, but that's the character type he aspires to. Such clichés about the Middle East are more than a little antiquated. It's hard to escape the sheer cartoonishness of Count Said Faid Ali's supervillain palace, complete with sexy women in blasphemous swimsuits that couple headscarves with cleavage. By the end of the sandstorm it's pretty thoroughly established that Count Said Faid Ali is from a pretty weird world...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The King Loves" Episodes 3-4

2017/07/18 | | Permalink

The editing in "The King Loves" is very quickly starting to confuse me. Here I was thinking that we were just going to watch the three main leads deal with the whole bridge situation chronologically then for some bizarre reason the production team keeps jerking us around between events from before the bridge incident and after the bridge incident and other far away stuff that has nothing to do with the bridge incident and it's just getting really hard to keep the story straight...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 6

2017/07/18 | | Permalink

Bi-ryeom (played by Gong Myung) is, like Moo-ra, a god living in the human world who is supposed to be doing divine stuff but instead seems to engage mainly in petty bickering. Thus "Bride of the Water God 2017" continues its fine tradition of making Ha-baek a sympathetic character, not by having him engage in character growth, but by making all the other characters he talks to even more obnoxious. I guess it's working. Ha-baek is swiftly becoming the only character in "Bride of the Water God 2017" I particularly care about...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 31-32 Final

2017/07/18 | | Permalink

The final clean-up takes place pretty quickly. Really, once it's established that the right people were digging in just a little deeper, and that most of last time's cliffhanger was just a matter of dramatic license, there really isn't any direction for Gi-joon to go except for straight down. There is, naturally, also the gratification of seeing all the other villains brought in one by one and punished for their transgressions...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 5

2017/07/17 | | Permalink

The more I watch of "Bride of the Water God 2017" the more baffling the worldbuilding becomes. Observe how Ha-baek, for all his general ignorance about how most of the human world works, apparently easily understands concepts like skateboarding, motor vehicles, cooking Western style food, and closed circuit television. Elsewhere, Ha-baek does not understand concepts like how it is a dumb idea to knowingly put yourself and others in a dangerous situation...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The King Loves" Episodes 1-2

2017/07/17 | | Permalink

Prince Won (played by Im Si-wan) and Prince Lin (played by Hong Jong-hyun) are royal brothers. Prince Won is small, impulsive, and reckless. Prince Lin is patient, thoughtful, and tall. For most of the first episode we get into a fairly complicated and beautifully choreographed backstory about how Prince Won and Prince Lin were witness to the tribulations of Eun-san (played by Yoona), a girl who was on the wrong end of a bunch of assassins...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 29-30

2017/07/17 | | Permalink

Now that enough of the conspiracy has been brought to light, the only real outstanding question is whether Ji-hoon will be brought to justice. Ji-hoon has always enjoyed the most protection because of all the people who have benefited from the allegations against the former Queen, Ji-hoon's boons have been the most subtle and obscured. All the same, Queen Jungjeon needed some sort of high level ally. And attempts at making Pil-yeong and Woo the fall guys run into some obvious logical problems...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.07.14 ~ 2017.07.16

2017/07/17 | | Permalink

"Spider-Man" soars unchallenged, slow start for "Cars 3"...

Marvel's "Spider-Man: Homecoming" (starring Tom Holland) retained the top spot in Korea for a second weekend by capturing 64.36% of the sales from 1781 screens. The 1.4 million admissions it claimed swelled the reboot's total tally to 5.9 million ($42.7 million), making it the second-highest grossing film of the year behind "Confidential Assignment" (7.8 million), as well as the highest grossing foreign film ahead of "Beauty and the Beast" (5.1 million). Worldwide, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" has already brought in $469 million...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 14

2017/07/16 | | Permalink

Tears and emotions are abundant in episode fourteen of "Duel" as our characters find themselves in relations that are confusing and hard to approach. Seong-joon's identity finally gets to him, but things are more dire for Seong-hoon, who is becoming increasingly unstable. Mi-rae's unique abilities surface, but time is not on anyone's side and some tough decisions may have to be taken...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 13

2017/07/16 | | Permalink

I have been feeling uncomfortable with the amount of twists thrown around in "Duel" lately, but even I could not have expected this dive into a sea of crazy that episode thirteen takes. Mi-rae's origins are revealed as far more complicated than expected and things are leading us to a showdown with Sanyeong. At the center lies Jo-hye, who makes a bold decision to end things...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper"

2017/07/15 | | Permalink

There is never a shortage of villainous rich people out to abuse the poor and powerless in Korean drama and "Whisper" breaks no molds. The drama by acclaimed writer and PD duo Park Kyeong-soo and Lee Myeong-woo has quite the big shoes to fill and its own place to find in a very saturated genre and premise...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Day After - 2017"

2017/07/15 | | Permalink

In the opening scene of "The Day After - 2017" Hae-joo (played by Jo Joon-hee) has noticed a suspicious change in her husband Bong-wan (played by Kwon Hae-hyo). Today, he is unusually happy. So Hae-joo moves to the logical conclusion- Bong-hwan has found an attractive woman. Normally such an absurd supposition would be the grounds for a farce. Then Bong-wan scoffs, continues to awkwardly eat his breakfast, and rather ominously avoids directly refuting any of Hae-joo's comments...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Life Risking Romance"

2017/07/15 | | Permalink

Je-in (played by Ha Ji-won) is a murder mystery writer who has been on a long slump. The main reason behind said slump is that Je-in is for some neurotic reason completely obsessed with ferreting out largely imaginary murders in the real world, a task in which her beleaguered best friend policeman Rok-hwan (played by Cheon Jeong-myeong) reluctantly assists, to his scorn in the department. The plot in "Life Risking Romance" kicks off when Je-in finally notices that there is, in fact, a real-life serial killer currently operating in Itaewon and maybe she should investigate that instead. For research material, of course...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Some Day"

2017/07/15 | | Permalink

First up in the "Some Day" omnibus is "Change of the Season", from director Choi Jin-hyeok-I. It's about Yeon-joo (played by Choi Soo-in), a late elementary school student who collects Pokemon stickers as a distraction from a lonely home life. Yeon-joo's parents are split up, and Yeon-joo doesn't like acknowledging this. She's at an age of keen weakness. So instead, Yeon-joo wanders Ulsan in constant ennui...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 39-40 Final

2017/07/13 | | Permalink

Because Prince Seon and his allies were completely incompetent at trying to solve the poison issue on their own, Hwa-goon's dad pops out of nowhere and just gives them the formula for the antidote on one condition. It should come as little surprise that even in his final dramatic victorious moment, Prince Seon manages to find a way to screw things up in this regard. No matter how simple the task, Prince Seon is just not up to the job...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" 37-38

2017/07/12 | | Permalink

I knew from the last cliffhanger that the final stretch "Ruler: Master of the Mask" was going to be irredeemably stupid. So when Prince Seon and the other Seon have to go into this really complicated stretch of rules lawyering to suss out who the real king is supposed to be I wasn't surprised. Nor was I particularly angry. Mostly I just felt sort of downtrodden, that a political culture complicated enough to require several dozen ministers has no legal culture to determine royal legitimacy...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 4

2017/07/11 | | Permalink

It's really uncanny how the more I see of So-ah the less I like her. For a sense of perspective, the last cliffhanger featured her being thrown off the top of a building by a crazy person, and getting her life magically saved by Ha-baek. Yet rather than respond with gratitude for this heroic, if self-interested act, So-ah gets right back to the usual negotiations. How in the world can we root for a story of unconditional love when So-ah insists on attaching conditions to everything?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 31-32

2017/07/11 | | Permalink

The backstory revelations end up going down a lot better than I was expecting, because the emphasis is less on the danger child Woo's actions have on adult Woo's relationships, and more on the central character flaw both Woos possess- arrogance. I was somewhat surprised to see that even as a child Woo was considered an all-star at the royal court, but this is consistent with what we've seen from the very first episode. Woo may well have been thought of as a good potential match for Princess Hyemyeong even at that time...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 3

2017/07/10 | | Permalink

So right away we get a hint both of why So-ah's ancestors would agree to be the human guides for the Water God and also how they're punished should they refuse. Magic powers. And there really is something demented about the way So-ah is tortured for most of this episode considering that she, herself, works in psychiatric care. Soo-ah's only hope is to ask for advice from her eccentric friend Yeom-mi (played by Choi Woo-ri) and hope for the best...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 25-26

2017/07/10 | | Permalink

Yoon Se-ah is very good as Queen Jungjeon. She's striking a very difficult balance- Yoon Se-ah is playing someone who is being a very fundamentally bad actor. Queen Jungjeon isn't using to anyone talking back to her, and is in constant panic mode, for all her bravado, that someone is going to find out that she is a fraud. Queen Jungjeon does manage to slow Princess Hyemyeong down a little bit with some key revelations, but we can tell just from the nervous way her haughty noblewoman laugh sounds that internally, Queen Jungjeon is freaking out...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 12

2017/07/10 | | Permalink

Laughter turns to tears and pressure as Soo-yeon joins Seong-joon and his brother in a race against time. Deuk-cheon uses his regained position to track the vaccine down and it is not an easy job when its caretaker has passed away. Jo-hye sets her plans in motion while our villains feel the same pressure to find a working cure. At the same time, Mi-rae's past starts surfacing and I have a feeling it holds some surprises...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Radiant Office" Episode 13

2017/07/10 | | Permalink

Radiant Office 1Radiant Office 2

While episode 12 was about the rampant corruption in Hauline, this episode is about the hearts of the workers and their desire to have a job and take pride in it. It's a concept that has been at the core of Ho-won's character, but we see it manifesting in the other workers. Each person has a different way of chasing his or her dreams, but in the end, steady employment is a major end goal. Especially when the company decides to hire two of the temps instead of just one....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Radiant Office" Episode 12

2017/07/10 | | Permalink

Office politics and battles take the fore as managers cheat and lie their way to the top and fall accordingly. Woo-jin, the man who walks the straight and narrow, is also under pressure to earn his keep and potential promotions by catering to the whims of those above. But he is not a pushover and proves to be a light in the night for the trio of interns....More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.07.07 - 2017.07.09

2017/07/10 | | Permalink

Marvel's new "Spider-Man" reboot given screens and soars...

America's 'friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man' swiftly swung into pole position over the weekend by capturing 82.74% of the box office sales. "Spider-Man: Homecoming", the second movie reboot of Marvel's iconic web-slinger, scored 2.6 million admissions ($19.1 million) from a massive 1,965 screens around the country, dislodging Lee Joon-ik's "Anarchist from Colony" at the top and becoming the seventh highest grossing film of year...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 11

2017/07/09 | | Permalink

"Duel" goes straight for the emotions this week and it has been a long time coming and never arriving. We have a series of reunions and revelations, some of them happy, others bittersweet and some pretty sordid. The clone brothers get to talk honestly for the first time while Deuk-cheon makes a promise to Seong-joon after recalling his past mistakes. Meanwhile, Jo-hye has hit the mother lode...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama"

2017/07/08 | | Permalink

Time travel is by now a Korean drama staple which has been combined with many genres. Sadly for fans of this aspect, it mostly functions as a gimmick to spice up familiar stories. "Tunnel - Drama" does not break the mold in that regard, but the time bending crime series has a lot of good to offer...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage"

2017/07/08 | | Permalink

Korean drama loves its escapism and light entertainment, so a series treating those as gospel is nothing new. This escapism, however, knows the audience it goes for. "Entourage" is an odd case of a series which feels inherently inappropriate for Korean drama and that is sadly the least of its problems. Let us take a look at this regretful mess in full...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Anarchist from Colony"

2017/07/08 | | Permalink

Park Yeol (played by Lee Je-hoon) is a Korean poet living in Tokyo in the early nineteen-twenties. Being a poet doesn't pay much, so he has to moonlight as a rickshaw driver and also makes appearances at the local Korean bar. Park Yeol is also a terrorist, albeit not a very successful one, on account of the fact that making working explosives is hard. But in the wake of an unexpected calamity, Park Yeol turns the situation to his advantage, proving to be a master of media manipulation...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Okja"

2017/07/08 | | Permalink

There's two wildly different stories at play in "Okja". The first story, the American one, deals with the cartoonish world of corporate agribusiness. The plot in that story is minimal- it's mainly just an excuse for loud imagery and louder performances. The second plot, the Korean one, is quite a bit more down to earth. It's the story of Mi-ja (played by Ahn Seo-hyun) and her pet super-pig Okja...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Real"

2017/07/08 | | Permalink

Tae-yeong (played by Kim Soo-hyun) is a man in a suit who owns a casino and can always be found chewing gum. The first act of "Real" has him talking to psychiatrist Jin-gi (played by Lee Sung-min) about some sort of...thing that happened. This framing device ends up being dropped completely as Tae-yeong ends up embroiled in some sort of...thing involving his exact duplicate (also played by Kim Soo-hyun) who is differentiated from the original by a crystal mask, then padding, and finally glasses. Then they do lots of other...things that are highly sexy, violent, and colorful, but otherwise largely incomprehensible...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 35-36

2017/07/06 | | Permalink

As expected, Prince Seon's plan to stop Dae-mok is less than inspiring. First he has to spend a lot of time running around trying to convince other characters to help him, while Dae-mok has the much simpler plan of just having the other Seon take the mask off. Incidentally, Dae-mok is awfully satisfied with his own brilliance, considering how much of his infrastructure Hwa-goon destroyed simply by starting a fire...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 33-34

2017/07/05 | | Permalink

Prince Seon has finally achieved a goal in that he has destroyed Dae-mok's slave labor /  poison production / prison / mass grave facility. Well, technically Hwa-goon destroyed it, Prince Seon just released the slaves. Another task where he was failing before Hwa-goon showed up. Alas, by assisting Prince Seon in such an explicit manner, Hwa-goon has finally crossed the line from ambiguity to Dae-mok's clear enemy. And in a Prince Seon inspired moment of incompetence, she makes no effort to escape before Dae-mok shows up...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 2

2017/07/04 | | Permalink

For all the brisk exposition of the first episode "Bride of the Water God 2017" doesn't seem to be in any hurry to get anywhere. We have to wait until the cliffhanger to even get a decent hint that Ha-baek and So-ah are going to start working together. Until that point it's just, Ha-baek wanders around the city like an arrogant idiot, and So-ah fails to solve her financial problems. What about Ha-baek's lost magic powers? Or the artifacts? When are we going to get to that?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 23-24

2017/07/04 | | Permalink

Even the romantic action in "My Sassy Girl - Drama" is light, as Woo makes a breakthrough in the investigation and proceeds to try and avoid telling Princess Hyemyeong about it. This predictably leads to a brief interruption in their giddy love affair, as she is mad at him. But don't worry- slowly and surely, bit by bit, they come to another understanding as Woo makes it clear that he is one hundred percent on Princess Hyeomyeong's side and isn't going anywhere...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 10

2017/07/03 | | Permalink

Things get too complicated for a series two thirds into its total duration, with some changes making me wonder whether the creators had been winging it by this point. We have a new pivotal character who turns everything we have known upside down, Deuk-cheon's connection to Seong-hoon is revealed and Seong Joon discovers some important information about his memories as he walks right into the lion's den to save Soo-yeon...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 1

2017/07/03 | | Permalink

Right away "Bride of the Water God 2017" gets the essentials out of the way by clearly explaining its high concept fantasy plot. Every so often one of the natural god kings has to obtain the necessary artifacts in order to become emperor. This time, the aspiring god king is Ha-baek (played by Nam Joo-hyuk), who tends to spend a lot of time lying around and being sexy while not actually doing anything all that useful. Things do not go well when he has to go the human world to acquire the artifacts...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 21-22

2017/07/03 | | Permalink

The larger conflict is once again put on the back burner. Prince Darhan has gone home, leaving Woo and Princess Hyeomhyeong to swoon over each other privately. I like Woo's sense of diplomacy. He can ask for pretty much anything from royalty right now, and rather than getting greedy, Woo is sensible and basic in his desires. Woo, and Princess Hyeomhyeong for that matter, are quite patient and more than willing to live life a single day at a time...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 39-40

2017/07/03 | | Permalink

The final two episodes of "Strong Family" are surprisingly anticlimactic. This is appropriate, considering the only problems the titular family has ever dealt with are fairly small in scale, and thus necessitate similarly small scale solutions. The closest we get to a real setpiece is the bit where Choon-seop is trapped in the wardrobe. And in that case, the unnecessary drama is entirely what everyone realizes that they should be trying to avoid...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.06.30 - 2017.07.02

2017/07/03 | | Permalink

"Anarchist from Colony", "Real", and Bong Joon-ho's "Okja" put local films back on top...

Lee Je-hoon plays colonial-era independence activist Park Yeol in Lee Joon-ik's new drama, "Anarchist from Colony". Lee's eleventh film opened at number one with 817,684 admissions (48.94%) from 1,176 screens around the country, dislodging Michael Bay's "Transformers: The Last Knight" and denying it a second weekend at the top. Park Yeol (1902-1974) was an anarchist who spent 22 years in prison for attempting to assassinate Japanese royalty, Emperor Hirohito...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man to Man" Episode 9

2017/07/02 | | Permalink

The crux of episode 9 was the mission that brought the main characters back together. Unfortunately, it was a little lame. Fortunately, the characters gel as well as they always have, which allows us (at least a little bit) to ignore the badly worked NIS mission....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 9

2017/07/01 | | Permalink

The cloned cat is out of the bag for several characters and with Seong-joon regaining important memories and information, the chase begins for Seong-hoon and the people behind him. The motive of our rich villainess is revealed and so is an unexpected secret of Lee Yong-seob which changes her plans and puts Soo-yeon back in harm's way. Meanwhile, Jo-hye's grip on the cloning case tightens...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Day - 2017"

2017/07/01 | | Permalink

Joon-yeong (played by Kim Myeong-min) is a world-famous doctor who struggles to make time for his daughter Eun-jeong (played by Jo Eun-hyung). His day, as seen in "A Day - 2017" is a pretty good example of how and why- Joon-yeong is easily distracted by medical emergencies, is very patient, and underestimates how much time it takes him to do something. These failures are thrown into sharp relief when a bizarre incident forces Joon-yeong to chronically relive those failures...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Sound of Nomad: Koryo Arirang"

2017/07/01 | | Permalink

In central Asia there resides an ethnic Korean minority large enough to support their own theater, the Koryo Theater. The high times of the Koryo Theater are long behind us- their main claim to fame is in grainy newsreel footage from the thirties. This footage, what little of it remains, celebrates traditional Korean music and performances fused with the musical and cultural style of Central Asia. This sound is utterly unique and, it would seem, particular to its place and time in history...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Mis-President"

2017/07/01 | | Permalink

To those unfamiliar with South Korean political culture, the explicit veneration a significant portion of the population holds toward former president Park Geun-hye may seem a bit odd. To this day there are still protests in Seoul against her impeachment. It's not something the South Korean media or anyone else especially likes to talk about, since the existence of this political cult of personality in a supposedly democratic country is a bit of an embarrassment. In "Mis-President", director Kim Jae-hwan allows these people to explain themselves on their own terms...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 31-32

2017/06/29 | | Permalink

The opening scene of episode thirty-one features characters musing about how Prince Seon was their one great hope, and how dare anyone besmirch the man's good name. How or why Prince Seon is supposed to be the platonic ideal of a good monarch has never been clear to me, considering how the man fails at nearly every task he attempts, no matter how basic. And as if to emphasize this point, we cut from that to Prince Seon lying not quite dead in the middle of nowhere...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 29-30

2017/06/28 | | Permalink

So apparently Hwa-goon's bodyguard Gon (played by Kim Seo-kyung) isn't actually dead. I assumed that he was, considering that the last time we saw him the man had collapsed in a bloody unmoving slump on the floor. But ah, this is "Ruler: Master of the Mask" with characters so tough they won't die even if you kill them..! Actually no, it's just that the only way the production team knows how to produce an emotional reaction is through cheap kills, which inevitably have to be reversed since characters have to be alive in order for the plot to move forward...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Circle" Episode 12 Final

2017/06/28 | | Permalink

It is closure o'clock and our characters have to work for it. With Dong-geon and Human B in pursuit, the team must come up with a plan for exposing his wrongdoings while keeping everyone safe. There are hugs, there are tears, there is punishment and redemption as the system of control collapses before everyone's eyes. It has been a long journey for everyone and who knows what the future still holds...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 19-20

2017/06/27 | | Permalink

By the end of episode twenty we get to the big exciting climax where Woo has figured out a way to expose a conspiracy. It's satisfying as expected, because even if there's no direct evidence implicating Gi-joon, his participation in the broader scheme can definitely be used to put his credibility into question somewhere down the line. But why did we need four episodes to get to this point? The conspiracy only had minimal exposition, and the remaining screentime has mostly just been about the love triangle...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Circle" Episode 11

2017/06/27 | | Permalink

The end is almost here and episode eleven of "Circle" takes steps I did not think Korean drama writers would be bold enough for. In 2017, Woo-jin finds himself with few options for saving his brother and his friends. In 2037, Joon-hyeok and Jeong-yeon struggle with the truth staring at them on that stairwell. The titular "Circle" pushes everyone over the unknown edge of what defines us as individuals and as ourselves...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 17-18

2017/06/26 | | Permalink

Prince Darhan (played by Chris) is the main dominant presence here, and the man's bad news. He's really nice. Really, I just can't get enough of the guy smiling good-naturedly and engaging Princess Hyeomhyeong with all these corny pick-up lines. Best of all, Prince Darhan tends to just ignore Gi-joon, and doesn't especially care about the pomp and circumstances of royalty. Prince Darhan is quite the charming guy, save for the problem of Woo being Princess Hyeomhyeong's actual love interest...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 37-38

2017/06/26 | | Permalink

We're nearly to the end of "Strong Family" and the main remaining conflict is office space arrangements. You know, that's one of those things corporate likes to do to try and affect change is to modify the office culture somehow. I got uncomfortable just looking at those new digs. I mean really, imagine being one of the people having to sit in the middle of those tables. It would feel like someone is always looking over your shoulder. Which I imagine is a feature, not a bug, in the system...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 8

2017/06/26 | | Permalink

It is a rare, slightly creepy, but also satisfying feeling when a show seems to be right behind you and your complaints and wishes. I asked for the villains' motivation and scientific explanation and "Duel" delivers. Deuk-cheon starts creating his own plans while Seong-joon and Mi-rae find some important answers. Things become tense as the past comes back to haunt several characters...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lookout" Episodes 9-10

2017/06/26 | | Permalink

Do-han has a lot to take care of in this pair of episodes of "Lookout". Soo-ji's headstrong influence is powerful enough to convince even the skeptical Bo-mi that what's right needs to be done. This pits our justice fighters directly against Chief Prosecutor Yoon who is wily enough to be a worthy opponent....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Radiant Office" Episode 11

2017/06/26 | | Permalink

The gumption that Ho-won found when she thought she was terminally ill continues to show itself, protecting her from the twisted workings of selfish people at the work place. That quality earns her the respect of Woo-jin, her friends, and most of her co-workers. In Korean society her behavior is unusual and I'm proud of her despite the fact that she's a fictional character. We need women like her standing up for women's rights, company worker rights, and people's rights in general....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man to Man" Episode 8

2017/06/25 | | Permalink

Halfway through "Man to Man" the requisite separation begins. Seol-woo extricates himself from the woman he fell in love with and from his bromance with Woon-gwang in order to return to his ghost agent duties. While sad, he seems ready to deal with the separation until, of course, circumstances brings them all back together again....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lookout" Episodes 7-8

2017/06/25 | | Permalink

"Lookout" is barreling forward with Soo-jin at the lead. This grieving mother is brave, intelligent, and determined to bring her daughter's killer to justice. Her independence throws a wrench in the plans of Do-han and keeps everyone else on their toes. It's hard not to love such a driven heroine who keeps us guessing at how she will escape each new situation.

The focus of this pair of episodes is the search for Woo-sung, the man whose case incited cover ups and began Soo-jin's involvement with Chief Prosecutor Yoon and Chief Oh....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 7

2017/06/24 | | Permalink

You spin me right round, "Duel" and not in a good way. The drama manages to explain things while raising more questions and while that is good with some parts of the plot, it is starting to get tiring when it comes to our villains and their plans. At least Deuk-cheon finally has proof of Soo-yeon's well-being, even if the joy is short-lived...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Grey Youth Choir - Another Dream"

2017/06/24 | | Permalink

In a curious editing decision, director Lee Hyeok-jong-I starts "Grey Youth Choir - Another Dream" off on the high point of the senior choir's career- when they went to the United Nations in New York to sing traditional Korean songs in the context of wishing for reunification. Overall "Grey Youth Choir - Another Dream" is more interested in what happened after this performance than it is in the build-up. Which does rather bolster the documentary's larger point, about how the elderly men and women in this choir sing because, well, it's not like they have anything better to do...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Dances with the Wind"

2017/06/24 | | Permalink

What is the purpose of artistic interpretive dance? That's kind of an unfairly open-ended question. You might as well ask what the purpose of art is. Nonetheless, director Choi Sang-jin attempts to answer this question by looking over the life of Lee Sam-heon, a man who once dreamed of ballet. Lee Sam-heon modified his ambitions in response to the Gwangju Uprising, having concluded that the power of artistic interpretive dance can and should be used to further the cause of social justice...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "I Am a Cat"

2017/06/24 | | Permalink

The story of "I Am a Cat", narrated rather winsomely by Kang Min-hyuk, is about how cats are adorable and our friends, and how we are lucky to live in a world where kind-hearted volunteers provide the services necessary for cats to live as our neighbors. There are interviews detailing what this care entails. There are also cat photographers, who dedicate their lives to catching cats in their most natural moments, recording them for posterity...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 27-28

2017/06/22 | | Permalink

A lot of my confusion with "Ruler: Master of the Mask" comes from how I keep assuming stuff is happening off-screen. I thought, maybe during one of those romantic backdrops, that Ga-eun learned of Prince Seon's true identity. Literally every other single character in the drama already knows by now. But apparently not. I also figured that the other Seon had already drank the antidote on account of how he's not visibly sick anymore. Again, apparently not...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Circle" Episode 10

2017/06/21 | | Permalink

If you already feel bad for the twin leads of "Circle", get ready for more pain, as a glimpse of false happiness, bonding and doubts comes crawling into their lives in episode ten. Dong-geon pushes Woo-jin to his limits in 2017 while Joon-hyeok and Jeong-yeon take on a very dangerous and possibly final plan to find Woo-jin in 2037...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 25-26

2017/06/21 | | Permalink

In a peculiar plot twist, it turns out that Queen Mother Joongjeon is not, in fact, completely crazy, and there was an actual coherent plan behind last episode's mass poisoning. Although even after the specifics are explained the plan still doesn't make very much sense. Why, it's almost as if the mass poisoning was a screenwriting device specifically contrived to end episode twenty-four on a shocking cliffhanger...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 15-16

2017/06/20 | | Permalink

While Woo and Princess Hyemyeong have made great progress in terms of finally discovering that Gi-joon is behind the conspiracy, there remains one glaring problem. They can't do anything about it. All concrete evidence of Gi-joon's activities has been successfully destroyed. While Princess Hyemyeong is right that she has to do something, Woo is also right in pointing out that their position is far too weak to actually challenge Gi-joon on anything right now...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 13-14

2017/06/19 | | Permalink

Woo and Princess Hyemyeong are largely sidelined for these two episodes. Indeed, the big climax barely even features them at all. Instead, Choon-poong (played by Sim Hyeong-tak) pops out of nowhere to helpfully identify what's going on at the butcher shop. It's pretty clear Choon-poong wants us to think that he's an idiot, when he is in fact one of the more competent characters in a drama where nearly everyone is at least of above average intelligence...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 35-36

2017/06/19 | | Permalink

The climax to episode thirty six is a school concert that I had mostly forgotten was even a plot point until it pops up, and which as usual just goes into the usual father-daughter bonding. More than the catharsis I actually somewhat perversely liked the general low quality of the performance. It's about the level of musical talent that would be expected from normal high school students, which is quite a contrast to the usual overly high production values that tend to accompany such storylines...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Circle" Episode 9

2017/06/19 | | Permalink

Episode nine of "Circle" answers a lot of questions about the chip technology's origins and it raises a few very dark ones about its current condition and Woo-jin's existence in 2037. In 2017, Beom-gyoon has been found only to be lost again as his memories are wiped by the bug and Dong-geon takes over Yong-woo's research on behalf of someone who has been running it in the shadows all along...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.06.16 - 2017.06.18

2017/06/19 | | Permalink

"The Mummy" narrowly outplays new local drama "A Day - 2017"...

Jo Seon-ho's "A Day - 2017" (Kim Myeong-min and Byun Yo-han) arrived last Wednesday and came close to toppling the latest "The Mummy" reboot at the top of the pile. Jo was the assistant director for four previous films (including "Killer Toon" and "Once Upon a Time in Seoul") but "A Day - 2017" is his first in the driving seat. Like the 1993 American drama "Groundhog Day", the film's protagonist finds himself caught in a loop as he frustratingly relives the same day over and over again. This day, however, is tragic because the lead's daughter is killed in an accident and he has to rush around to try and prevent that from happening, again. From 781 screens around the country, Jo's debut captured 28.36% of the sales (480,790 admissions), just 18,000 less than this week's reigning feature...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 6

2017/06/18 | | Permalink

It is about time our characters start getting a clue about the fact that this case involves human cloning and I am not surprised to see who the ones making this discovery are. Seong-joon's hinted poor health takes a turn for the worse, leaving Deuk-cheon and Mi-rae hoping for his recovery. Meanwhile, Jo-hye tightens her grip on the situation...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 5

2017/06/18 | | Permalink

It is a dog eat dog world out there, but when you have several dogs with unclear motivations and stories, it is as confusing a sight as it is a violent one. "Duel" manages to clear some things up while not really revealing much and I feel it is about time the clones start providing story when they meet, rather than just a lot of physical abuse for Seong-joon...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon"

2017/06/17 | | Permalink

People have different definitions about what constitutes a strong female character, but the creators of "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" take on a literal spin in this romantic comedy setting. The series is packed with characters and different subplots as well as a murder mystery. At the end of the day, however, its problems are too big for its virtues to balance...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Villainess"

2017/06/17 | | Permalink

The opening scene of "The Villainess" has the deeply unsettling look of a video game. Specifically, first-person shooters, which require the perfect mix of head shots and anticipation of predictable AI behavior necessary to get through the few dozen mooks that stand between you and the next level. The sense of discomfort is further heightened by how obviously human all the various stuntpeople in this movie are. So for this, and all subsequent action scenes, horrified as I was by the unbroken chain of grotesque violence, my eyes were glued wide open in sheer overwhelming shock...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Yongsoon"

2017/06/17 | | Permalink

Yongsoon (played by Lee Soo-kyeong-I) is a generally crabby teenager. She lives in the middle of nowhere, resents the childhood loss of her mother (played by Lee Wun-woo), is mad about the apparent indifference of her father (played by Choi Deok-moon), and has ultimately decided the best way to spend her time right now is away from home. It is from this backdrop that Yongsoon decides to join the summer running squad, and it is in this capacity that she becomes close to her coach (played by Park Keun-rok). That doesn't end well, as it gives Yongsoon a weapon with which to further badger people...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Delta Boys"

2017/06/17 | | Permalink

Il-rok (played by Baek Seung-hwan-I) is a soft-spoken machinist who eats ramen three times a day and somehow still has washboard abs. Anyway, at the beginning of "Delta Boys" he's hanging out with his old friend Ye-geon (played by Lee Woong-bin) who has just come back from a long stint in the United States. We can tell because Ye-geon is constantly inserting gangsta style English into his Korean sentences. This is intended to impress the people around him, but mostly all Ye-geon does is annoy them...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 23-24

2017/06/15 | | Permalink

When Queen Mother Joongjeon's true role in the overall plot was revealed last episode, I was hoping that we would see some guiding principles toward a long term goal. Instead, Queen Mother Joongjeon's schemes become increasingly bizarre. Even Dae-mok is standing off at the sidelines, a little bewildered but ultimately fairly indifferent as to her actions. There's no obvious way anything Queen Mother Joongjeon is doing could hurt Dae-mok, after all...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 21-22

2017/06/14 | | Permalink

The entirity of episode twenty-one consists of a stupid plan that once again manages to throw Prince Seon into mortal danger while his allies are none the wiser. This storyline does, sort of, achieve its purpose of making Ga-eun do something helpful for once. Although really, I'd have been a lot more impressed if she had sniffed out the plot and taken action before the absolute last minute. Aside from the general incomprehensibility of the scheme, Ga-eun was in a perfect position to see what was going on...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Circle" Episode 8

2017/06/14 | | Permalink

It is time to meet our much teased Human B Chairman in episode eight of "Circle" and their identity is one I did not expect. In 2017, Woo-jin is being blackmailed with Beom-gyoon's life and sets out to find his father's data. In 2037, a formidable foe steps into the light and closes in on Jeong-yeon...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 11-12

2017/06/13 | | Permalink

It was only with these episodes that I noticed that the parents of the lead characters are also the principles in the related royal conspiracy plotline, and the parallels are noteworthy. King Huizong, like Princess Hyemyeong, is oblivious to the real threat facing the royal family, only seeing the surface level. Gi-joon, like Da-yeon, is very good at seeming nice and helpful when in fact his every action is mean-spirited and destructive. Pil-yeong (played by Jo Hee-bong), like Woo, is a smart guy with a good reputation who is struggling to figure out how deep this rabbit hole goes...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Circle" Episode 7

2017/06/13 | | Permalink

What was once a secret in "Circle" becomes common knowledge and what was once a fear comes closer to reality. In 2017, Woo-jin finds himself right in the center of Professor Han's operation and closer to danger the more he knows. In 2037, Joon-hyeok falters as he struggles with a dreadful possibility and Ho-soo's memories show him a different perspective...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 4

2017/06/13 | | Permalink

"Duel" has a knack for providing answers only to raise more questions. Episode four is all about tracking down Choi Joo-sik, the subject of the 1993 experiments before Seong-hoon can get to him. Deuk-cheon's friends and the prosecution team keep dancing around each other as our two heroes get ready to infiltrate enemy lines. Mi-rae joins the game as shocking truths come to light...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 9-10

2017/06/12 | | Permalink

So I appear to have misread Joon-yeong's character. Apparently he's not Princess Hyemyeong's love interest at all, but rather the protagonist in the parallel storyline about trying to figure out who kidnapped Princess Hyemyeong and why. Joon-yeong has his work cut out for him. Not only is he dealing with an elaborate conspiracy far beyond his pay grade, but Princess Hyemyeong, the person who Joon-yeong is supposed to be protecting, isn't aware of the danger because as far as she knows the pawnbroker was acting alone...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 33-34

2017/06/12 | | Permalink

Contrary to my previous expectations, it doesn't look like "Strong Family" is building up to any particularly strong climaxes at the workplace or anywhere else. Cheon-il is obsessed with telekinesis in episode thirty three and basketball comic books in episode thirty four. While I do admit the simple visuals of these scenes are pretty good (Park Hyuk-kwon always has great facial expressions really), without the proper build-up of tension, "Strong Family" currently looks to end about as anticlimactically as it began...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Radiant Office" Episode 10

2017/06/12 | | Permalink

Episode ten of "Radiant Office" focuses on things unseen or kept secret. Ho-won's mysterious illness marches front and center, Ji-na's relationship with Gi-taek is illuminated, and the mysterious Dr. Seo Hyeon reveals his Machiavellian nature....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 3

2017/06/12 | | Permalink

"Duel" wastes no time in getting to the juicy bits and bringing the cloning element to the forefront along with Deuk-cheon's family drama. Two new characters with important information surface and one of them is our new second female lead. The other is a mysterious figure who leads my mind to confusing places and the two combined reveal a sinister past...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lookout" Episodes 5-6

2017/06/12 | | Permalink

The band of freedom fighters of "Lookout" starts their work together with Soo-ji, Kyeong-soo, and Bo-mi under the orders of the mysterious leader, who turns out to be none other than smarmy Do-han. With his willingness to seek revenge without limit and Soo-ji's thirst to catch Yoon Si-wan and his crooked father, we have quite the pair of episodes on our hands....More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.06.09 - 2017.06.11

2017/06/12 | | Permalink

"Wonder Woman" steps aside for "The Mummy" and "The Villainess"...

DC's cinematic reimagining of "Wonder Woman" (starring Gal Gadot) failed to secure a second week at the top of the Korean box office. The film entered in first last weekend with 831,226 thousand admissions (36.5%), but was outplayed by two new releases, foreign and domestic: Alex Kurtzman's "The Mummy" and Jung Byung-gil's "The Villainess". "Wonder Woman" added 240,552 (10.64%) across 611 screens (down from 1,034) and moved its total tally now to 1.8 million, or $12.2 million. Worldwide, Warner Bros. Pictures' superhero film has grossed over $435.2 million...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Radiant Office" Episode 9

2017/06/11 | | Permalink

"Radiant Offices" tackles some key social issues such as divorce, women in the workplace, and how temporary workers are treated and valued. Delicately approached, these issues are explored without detracting from the overall pace of the plot. Well done, production team....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Radiant Office" Episode 8

2017/06/11 | | Permalink

"Radiant Office" if full of the typical office hierarchical dog poop, but more than that it is a show full of heart. At the core of all the office politics is a group of people who are complex and worth getting to know.

The person who continually surprises me is Ji-na....More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Warriors of the Dawn"

2017/06/10 | | Permalink

In 1592, the Japanese invaded Korea. King Seonjo (played by Park Ho-san) decides that he needs to stick close to China in anticipation of reenforcements. Meanwhile, his son, the Crown Prince and later King Hwanghae (played by Yeo Jin-goo) is sent to the front lines to carry the royal banner in King Seonjo's stead. The effect of this is...not good on morale. Still, Hwanghae's personal guard Yang-sa (played Bae Soo-bin) tries to put on a good face even as he's forced to rely on help from the lower-class To-woo (played by Lee Jung-jae) and his band of professional hunters...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Power Battle Watchcar: The Counterattack of Watch Mask"

2017/06/10 | | Permalink

The opening scene of "Power Battle Watchcar: The Counterattack of Watch Mask" takes place in a dark alley with identical armed men hunting down some old guy in a business suit. So I had to wonder, are they clones, or was the production company just being cheap? Actually I was wrong. They are robots. So of course when the good guys respond by destroying them with excessive violence, that's OK, because robots, however humanlike, deserve all the violence that's coming to them...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Family in the Bubble"

2017/06/10 | | Permalink

Director Ma Min-ji decided, as film students often do, to make a documentary about her own family. The first topic to come to mind was why Ma Min-ji moved out of their crumbling apartment. That begged the question of why they were living in a crumbling apartment in the first place. Through a fair amount of historical exposition coupled with real-life docuemntary experiences, "Family in the Bubble" explains how Ma Min-ji's family was caught up in the South Korean real estate boom that took place in the eighties and nineties, an experience which defines all of their financial decisions...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 19-20

2017/06/08 | | Permalink

This time around the genre roulette falls on palace intrigue. Unfortunately this is a bad genre to focus on temporarily, because palace intrigues are only interesting as a slow burn, watching various characters come up with complicated plots to humiliate each other. Here, no character has a clearly enough defined goal for their role in the palace intrigue to be terribly interesting. At one point derisive laughter substitutes for the far more satisfying subtle humiliation that really makes a palace intrigue stand out...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 17-18

2017/06/07 | | Permalink

So apparently Hwa-goon has been on the outs with Dae-mok for the past five years. But to save Prince Seon, Hwa-goon is willing to make the sneaky sacrifice of joining Dae-mok's cult. This is why I like Hwa-goon. She's smart. The real reason Hwa-goon wants back into the organization is to protect Prince Seon from the inside, but phrased this way, Dae-mok is led to believe that this is actually a compromise on her part, and remains unaware of Hwa-goon's bigger plan...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Circle" Episode 6

2017/06/07 | | Permalink

Jeong-yeon struggles with her identity as Byeol and the time has come for her to make a brave decision. Something happened in her past which was probably instigated by a key figure making a return to the story. In 2037, Joon-hyeok and Ho-soo dance around each other due to their opposing goals, a new suspicious ally for our hero surfaces and so does a worrying possibility...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man to Man" Episode 7

2017/06/06 | | Permalink

The ghost agent who has always done his job as he was told has now decided to go rogue in the name of love. We knew it would come to this point, but watching Seol-woo make a decision for the good of someone else sits well within me. I also love to see that Do-ha isn't just a doe-eyed damsel in distress, but a woman who will fight back....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lookout" Episodes 3-4

2017/06/06 | | Permalink

After a fast-paced introduction, "Lookout" jumps into the catalyst that turns cop and mother Soo-ji into a grief-stricken woman thirsting for revenge. She storms down a path that is quite terrifying, especially when those surrounding the circumstances of her daughter's death are driven by selfish ambition and revenge. Please do remember that hour episodes are split into two so four half-hour episodes will air each week!

Chief Prosecutor Yoon (Choi Moo-sung) is sketched as the man who wields all the power and the man who Do-han ultimately wishes to bring down....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 7-8

2017/06/06 | | Permalink

One of the better clarifications "My Sassy Girl - Drama" has been making lately is that there are in fact two Princess Hyemyeongs. The first one, the one that exists in the real world, quickly gets vindictive about perceived personal slights. But once the conflict is resolved, she is mostly willing to forgive and forget. By contrast the second Princess Hyemyeong, the one that exists in Gyeon-woo's imagination, continues her personal grudges forever, driving Gyeon-woo completely mad...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man to Man" Episode 6

2017/06/06 | | Permalink

Emotions become tied to work for ghost agent Seol-woo and it's a first. It is a dangerous time to marry work and feelings with ruthless, ambition-driven politicians snapping at his organization's heels. But I wouldn't have it any other way....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 31-32

2017/06/05 | | Permalink

The plot is very fractured over these two episodes. We get a lot of brief jokes that seem like they're going to lead to broader themes, although they stop almost as soon as they start. The closest we get is the bookend of episode thirty-two, which I admittedly thought was pretty funny because of course Cheon-il's dream world looks like a high school theater stage set. If you haven't had dreams like that, I don't know what to tell you...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 5-6

2017/06/05 | | Permalink

The opening of the fifth episode is an extended replay of the last scene of the fourth episode- and it really is a perfect example of how good editing can turn a borderline unwatchable sequence into a genuinely entertaining one. We get a lot more exposition about why the pawnbroker is a bad dude who got what was coming to him. More importantly, Princess Hyemyeong gets some badly needed positive personality traits. She made the mess here, not as a consequence of her being a fickle psychotic, but out of a genuine concern for justice...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Circle" Episode 5

2017/06/05 | | Permalink

The ghosts of the past roam the future as it is time for many identities to be revealed. In 2017, Jeong-yeon and Woo-jin have a fallout over the past she is afraid to face. The old asylum gets many visitors in search of clues, including Detective Hong. In 2037, Joon-hyeok meets his Bluebird and discovers that he is being watched. The big question now is whether Woo-jin is still alive and whether that is a good thing...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 2

2017/06/04 | | Permalink

Deuk-cheon discovers that a distraught father's testimony holds little value in the face of conclusive evidence as he tries to convince everyone of the impossible. Our suspect is traumatized and knows little about the situation himself, as good ol' dramamnesia keeps the mystery going. Meanwhile Jo-hye continues to exist as a mysterious force to be reckoned with when it comes to making progress...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Duel" Episode 1

2017/06/04 | | Permalink

The premiere episode of clone-themed suspense drama "Duel" wastes no time in getting the action going. Our lead drops large amounts of cash on a table as ransom for his kidnapped daughter, a mysterious woman arrives to offer more and the chase is on. "Duel" then takes a step back and shows us how we got to this point. Shady scientific practices, two men with the same appearance and bad decisions follow...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Biting Fly"

2017/06/03 | | Permalink

Hae-wook (played by Kim Jin-woo) is a government employee who stumbles upon an interesting financial venture. Apparently, for the small price of putting up all your real property as collateral, an investment will return a healthy amount of money into your bank account on a regular basis. Hae-wook tells his family about the project and...well, it doesn't go well. As the saying goes, if it's too good to be true, it probably is...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Our President"

2017/06/03 | | Permalink

You might know Roh Moo-hyun as the pre Park Geun-hye president that got impeached. Or as the guy who gave North Korea nuclear weapons. Or as the leftist human rights lawyer whose incompetency prompted two conservative administrations. Or as the ex-president who killed himself over bribery allegations. But South Koreans, and particularly the South Korean left, venerate him as a hero. Although "Our President" contains almost no detail about Roh Moo-hyun's actual presidency, having watched this documentary, now I know why...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "3xFTM"

2017/06/03 | | Permalink

The title of "3xFTM" at first probably looks like random gibberish. But director Kim Il-rhan explains in short order what they stand for- 3 examples of Female to Male. That is, "3xFTM" is the story of three transgender individuals living in South Korea in the mid two thousands. Technology is just on the cusp of being able to make gender transition a reality for everyone. Until that time comes, though, they just muddle about their daily lives as men...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 15-16

2017/06/01 | | Permalink

Through a complicated bit of sleight of hand, Prince Seon and friends manage to achieve an important victory over Dae-mok. Because they got his...stuff, that Dae-mok was going to use to do...things. Normally I try not to overthink inherently meaningless MacGuffin devices, but the stakes in "Ruler: Master of the Mask" are so poorly defined I can only even figure out that Prince Seon's team won because of their smug victory expressions...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 13-14

2017/05/31 | | Permalink

It took me a minute to remember why, exactly, Prince Seon and Hwa-goon were skulking about in the middle of the night trying to steal something. That's because this whole subplot is nestled inside another subplot, the one about the merchant expedition, and even that quickly manages to turn into another subplot as Cheong-eun runs into Moo-ha (played by Bae Yoo-ram), an old ally with an exceptionally good memory. A pity that's about his only useful skill...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Circle" Episode 4

2017/05/31 | | Permalink

Episode four of "Circle" packs quite a punch and brings about twists upon twists and delectable fake-outs. In 2017, Bluebird makes their appearance and the mystery of the blue bug and the alien become clearer. In 2037, the dreaded, but not surprising truth about Joon-hyeok's identity is revealed, new familiar faces from 2017 become visible and Ho-soo receives an offer from the care chip overlords...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 3-4

2017/05/30 | | Permalink

Oh Yeon-seo's central expression as Princess Hyemyeong is very appropriate. Even in pictographic form, she looks horrifically sinister. So all the time Gyeon-woo is talking about his efforts to try and meet her again, I'm just thinking to myself, do you really think that's a good idea? And predictably enough, upon finally actually finding Princess Hyemyeong, Gyeon-woo once again faces peril and disaster for no apparent cause...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Secret Romance" Episode 13 Final

2017/05/30 | | Permalink

As expected, the sweet flashbacks continue as "My Secret Romance" slowly but surely moves toward its happy ending. There is a bump in there as Yoo-mi decides to briefly abandon Jin-wook for reasons that aren't all that clear, but not to worry. Nothing beats the power of flashbacks. I expect excessive use of flashbacks also makes it easier on the production company, which doesn't have to spend as much money filming actual new scenes...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Radiant Office" Episode 7

2017/05/30 | | Permalink

This episode focuses on what lies beneath. The company projects an image of propriety while accepting bribes and treating employees poorly. Kang-ho seems put together on the outside, but whose and unfortunate situation sets him front and center in "Radiant Office".

Although not poor, Kang-ho is under such intense pressure from his mother he tried to kill himself in episode 1, and he is willing to suck up to anyone and do anything in order to not be perceived as a failure by his mother....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Radiant Office" Episode 6

2017/05/30 | | Permalink

"Radiant Office" has a way of sucking you in. Admittedly, I wasn't very thrilled about diving into this drama except for the fact that that it was well-cast. But each subsequent episode proves me wrong. It's a delicate drama machine that explores the office place more than the medical, and it does it beautifully. Go Ah-sung, as always, leads the cast with her sensitive performance.

As for the plot, the office politics are not in the least interesting, which is usually the case....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lookout" Episodes 1-2

2017/05/30 | | Permalink

MBC's latest Monday/Tuesday drama "Lookout" is a 32 episode run, but don't let that number fool you. It is a part of a new test split that both MBC and SBS are trying. A single hour-long episode is chopped into two half-hour episodes and aired the same night. In terms of your time, you'll be spending 16 episodes with the characters and stories of "Lookout". It's just all in a different package. Despite the awkward cut that the split has thrown into the middle of this first episode, Director Son Hyeong-seok ("Two Weeks", "Personal Taste") and Writer Kim Soo-eun have delivered quite the riveting first two episodes....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 1-2

2017/05/29 | | Permalink

The first half of the first episode of "My Sassy Girl - Drama" consists entirely of an elaborate royal conspiracy. It involves nighttime, massive swordfights, escapes, a perilous childbirth scene, and is generally completely indistinguishable from a serious historical drama prologue. Then we flash forward ten years later and scholar Gyeon-woo (played by Joo Won) is trying to maintain balance on a boat while narrating about how cool and beloved he was back in China...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 29-30

2017/05/29 | | Permalink

The romantic subplots in "Strong Family" are really good in how they relate to each other. We have Ik-hee going through the adolescent awkwardness of a teen romance where no one knows what they're doing, Jeong-min being generally giddy about a relationship that will most likely end in marriage (because of her age), and then Miss Jo contemplating a late lifetime romance. Incidentally, Choon-seop (played by Nam Kyung-eup) is my favorite love interest of the bunch. The man really rocks his late fifties facial hair...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Secret Romance" Episode 12

2017/05/29 | | Permalink

Yoo-mi heads back to the beachhead where this all began, and Ji-wook follows her, as the penultimate episode mostly focuses on nostalgia. And it really is nostalgia- I remember the first episode, and I also remember that it had a radically different tone than what the flashbacks here are pretending. Yoo-mi and Ji-wook were perpetually grumpy, and only bond at all because they were both extremely drunk...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Circle" Episode 3

2017/05/29 | | Permalink

"Circle" is a rollercoaster ride that never stops and if this is a result of its short duration, thank goodness Dramaland decided to try it. In 2017, Woo-jin and Jeong-yeon clear up some misunderstandings and unearth a disturbing secret about the suicide victims. In 2037, Joon-hyeok's suspicions are proven right, leaving him and Ho-soo struggling with their past and identities...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.05.26 ~ 2017.05.28

2017/05/29 | | Permalink

Disney's Pirates and "Our President" rule the roost...

The fifth instalment of Walt Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean"-"Dead Men Tell No Tales", by directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg-arrived in Korea last Wednesday. From 1,328 screens around the country, producer Jerry Bruckheimer's latest spectacle captured 48.41% of the sales during its opening weekend. The 1.1 million admissions ($8.9 million) the film scored is the highest weekend take for the month of May, and the film is also the fourth consecutive foreign feature to enter in first in as many weeks...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Duel"

2017/05/27 | | Permalink

Clones are the latest trend in Dramaland and like any trend in this industry, this horse will be beaten long past its expiration. For now, the still fresh topic gets its first drama with "Duel". Whether the clones in what looks like any other crime and suspense drama will be more than a gimmick remains to be seen.


Jang Deuk-cheon (Jeong Jae-yeong) is a detective with an ill daughter. One day he becomes entagled with two clones, one innocent and one evil, and his little girl is kidnapped. The detective begins a chase against great odds to solve the mystery of his situation and find his child before it is too late...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Merciless"

2017/05/27 | | Permalink

In the opening scene of "The Merciless", a couple of obvious criminals are having a dish of seafood, and discussing the unfortunate implications of of eating cuisine that appears to be looking at you. The end to their conversation is abrupt, and when the dust has settled, Jae-ho (played by Sul Kyung-gu) get one last ominous look at the fish, clearly the real villain. Then we see Hyeon-soo (played by Im Si-wan) exit jail and walk onto the set of a music video...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Blue Busking"

2017/05/27 | | Permalink

Ho-bin (played by Jo Han-seon) is a mildly famous person who is the drummer in an even more mildly famous band- the kind that gets booked for weddings. The other members want to try and improve their prospects with a road trip and Ho-bin, facing personal problems of his own, agrees. The gimmick is, they're going to take South Korea by donkey. While being followed by a car and camera, which kind of defeats the purpose of traveling around slowly with a donkey cart but whatever, I don't get social media marketing anyway...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Way - 2017"

2017/05/27 | | Permalink

Soon-ae (played by Kim Hye-ja), Sang-beom (played by Song Jae-ho), and Soo-mi (played by Her Jin) are old people who knew each other a very long time ago as students. They don't anymore- nor do they ever meet as adults, and we don't find out what happened to the fourth character in the flashbacks either. Going by the generally dark overall tone of "The Way - 2017", he's probably dead. Still, memories of those idyllic times pop up in their individual stories, a stark reminder of a the radically different world they now live in...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 11-12

2017/05/25 | | Permalink

The opening swordfight gives the impression that "Ruler: Master of the Mask" has decided to be an action swashbuckler about Prince Seon fighting for justice against a corrupt regime. Instead, we get a story arc about international trade with Japan. When I saw that Prince Seon had a whole gang of confederates I was sure he was going to, I don't know, steal the tax money or something. But no, he just approaches Hwa-goon to ask for a loan...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man to Man" Episode 5

2017/05/25 | | Permalink

"Man to Man" may have a dark side, but it's really just a story about three people who are growing up. In between all of that are corrupt officials doing dirty deeds to acquire lofty positions, burgeoning love triangles, and bouts of situational humor. It is the last that surprises me most, especially with the dark subject matter that surrounds Seol-woo's life as a ghost agent.

The events that tied the episode together were the romantic happenings between Seol-woo and Do-ha...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 9-10

2017/05/24 | | Permalink

I used to think that Dae-mok was smart, but his plan for maintaining power after murdering the royal family is...disappointing. And also accidentally hilarious. The other Seon does not look, sound, or act like the real Prince Seon. He couldn't fool Dae-mok for a single scene even when the unexpected help of a false witness. Yet apparently, the other Seon is now the lynchpin upon which all of Dae-mok's evil schemes rest...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Circle" Episode 2

2017/05/24 | | Permalink

"Circle" once again proves that there is merit to a shorter series with an episode so packed that keeping up and grabbing onto every little tidbit of information is challenging. In 2017, Woo-jin gets a new study partner who challenges his hard-earned normalcy. In 2037, Joon-hyeok dives deeper into the stabilization chip and its true function. It looks like our seasoned hero holds the key to all mysteries...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 17 Final

2017/05/24 | | Permalink

The callousness never ends for our villains, who fight until the very end to turn things around for themselves and take one another down. Yeong-joo and Dong-joon's work is not done after his arrest, because there is always the trial. The time has come for everyone to pay for their sins and merits and we all know which ones owe the most. Meanwhile, Tae-gon makes a new friend in prison...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Circle" Episode 1

2017/05/23 | | Permalink

"Circle" enters the drama game today and expectations are high for a genre so rarely loved by Korean film and television. The episode introduces both timelines, their characters and the two mysteries which will unfold through their adventures. These mysteries are instantly engaging, the characters easy to feel attachment to and the pop culture references and homages abundant. There is a lot to talk about, so here we go...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Secret Romance" Episode 11

2017/05/23 | | Permalink

As expected, Jin-wook and Yoo-mi continue to be generally sad as they try very hard to pretend like they don't miss each other. Jin-wook, being the man, is of course the first to snap and realize that of course he loves Yoo-mi and needs her very much. But various contrivances pop up to insure that Jin-wook misunderstands what Yoo-mi is doing, until finally, a disaster comes up that's big enough to force Jin-wook to do something...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 16

2017/05/22 | | Permalink

One of the governing elements of standard villains is their refusal or even inability for remorse and redemption. "Whisper" makes this inescapably clear as Jeong-il and Soo-yeon try to one-up each other in being horrible until the very bitter end. Dong-joon and Yeong-joo can taste victory, but this victory comes at a price. As Dong-joon comes collecting dues, his own cannot be overlooked...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Secret Romance" Episode 10

2017/05/22 | | Permalink

I was expecting the big dramatic event that would force the rift between Jin-wook and Yoo-mi to be related to Dae-bok's meddling. But surprisingly, that all gets resolved in a single scene. An exceptionally long scene where Dae-bok and Mi-hee somehow manage to have a big fight without either of them clearly explaining what exactly it is they're fighting about. So yeah, that was pretty funny, although once the miscommunications are over with, Jin-wook and Yoo-mi proceed to spend the rest of the episode in dramatic angst...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 27-28

2017/05/22 | | Permalink

Cheon-il is having one of those days, as what first seems like a sneaky ploy by an adorable child to get spending money soon morphs into an elaborate conspiracy that leads to police involvement. And then disengagement, because Ra-yeon somewhat sensibly decides that this is not the kind of problem that the government should be involved in unless absolutely necessary. That's the main joke in episode twenty-seven, is just the brief glimpses we get of the temporarily altered family dynamic...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.05.19 - 2017.05.21

2017/05/22 | | Permalink

"Get Out", "The Merciless" and "King Arthur" take the podium...

Jordan Peele's "Get Out" (starring Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams and Lil Rel Howery) arrived last Wednesday to 945 screens around the country. The American horror, which had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival back in January, claimed pole position with 802,981 admissions (39.01%), dislodging last weekend's top film, "Alien: Covenant". The critically acclaimed "Get Out" is also the American actor and comedian's directorial debut...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 16 Final

2017/05/21 | | Permalink

All good things come to an end and new things begin, even if "Tunnel - Drama" likes to mix the "when" part of it up. Jin-woo is arrested and our characters get closure in the present. It is a time of regret, relief and redemption, but also a time of goodbyes as Gwang-ho decides to take one last run through the titular tunnel in hopes of reuniting with his family in his own time...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Lookout"

2017/05/20 | | Permalink

Revenge stemming from the sense of injustice is not a new concept in Korean drama, but where there is usually one hero fighting for their personal cause, "Lookout" inserts a cast of characters working together for the justice they have all been denied. The cast off characters offers variety and the potential for a gripping story.


"Lookout" tells the story of people whose lives have been touched by crime and the lack of justice. Detective Jo Soo-ji (Lee Si-young), who tragically loses her daughter leads the team of vigilantes as they attempt to make justice in a world where corruption and dirty interests dictate who matters in the eyes of the law...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Circle"

2017/05/20 | | Permalink

Aliens that do not come to Earth ready for romance with their reincarnated love from the Joseon dynasty have just not been a thing in Korean drama. Science fiction as a genre is a very rare one even in Korean cinema. Yet perhaps Dramaland is ready to tackle it as more than romance garnish for a change. Enter "Circle".


A mysterious disappearance and the arrival of extraterrestrial life in 2017, a mysterious murder in 2037. The story of "Circle" takes place in two timelines and it deals with a world experiencing its first alien contact and evolving through it. The citizens of the future attempt to end violence by controlling human emotion with its technology...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 15

2017/05/20 | | Permalink

The clock is ticking as Mok Jin-woo keeps Jae-i alive while he tries to get the location of his fountain pen out of her. The police team mobilizes every person they can get without making the investigation open. Unfortunately, a closed investigation does not help when the killer has a direct line to their office. The team must understand Jin-woo's past to find his location and time is running out...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Tooth and the Nail"

2017/05/20 | | Permalink

Tae-seok (played by Park Sung-woong) is a prosecutor working in South Korea in the late nineteen-forties. He is prosecuting a case where someone killed someone at the Seokjo Estate. "The Tooth and the Nail" gets off on the wrong foot almost immediately with possibly the most unnecessary framing device I've ever seen. Why not just start the story off chronologically, with traveling magician Seok-jin (played by Ko Soo) getting sucked into an elaborate conspiracy with classy international man Do-jin (played by Kim Joo-hyeok) at the center?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Daddy You, Daughter Me"

2017/05/20 | | Permalink

Sang-tae (played by Yoon Je-moon) and Do-yeon (played by Jung So-min) are daddy and daughter, respectively. Oh sure, it was fun back in the old days, when Do-yeon loved her daddy ever so much and wanted to marry him. But now Do-yeon is a teenager with her own problems and they never even have time to so much as talk to each other. Circumstance soon forces them to communicate, though, as they must spend a week in each other's bodies, avoiding detection by Sang-tae's co-workers and Do-yeon's classmates...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Koala"

2017/05/20 | | Permalink

For the first several scenes of "Koala" the general unpleasantness of being a young person in South Korea these days is played out. Dong-bin (played by Park Yeong-seo) had a dream of being an actor, and now he's just a salaryman. Jong-ik (played by Song Yoo-ha) is still attempting to be an actor, and it's not fun. Mutually, Dong-bin and Jong-ik decide to take a shot at deciding their own destiny for a change. Henceforth, they open a Burger Boy franchise location...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 7-8

2017/05/18 | | Permalink

If the previous set of episodes was meant to establish the hopelessness of the general universe in "Ruler: Master of the Mask" this set seems determined to prove that King Yoon was right all along. Every new plan Prince Seon comes up with ends increasingly catastrophically. Negotiation only makes people angrier. This escalates until we hit a cliffhanger that can't possibly be topped...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 5-6

2017/05/17 | | Permalink

Cheong-eun (played by Shin Hyun-soo) is, to date, the only ally Prince Seon has with any appreciable combat skills. This is put to use immediately, as Cheong-eun has to help Prince Seon fight his way out of last episode's cliffhanger. The ensuing chase, while not making the best logistical sense is very tense and action-packed. The real shocker, though, is how a confrontation between the King's men and an organized crime gang ends with King Yoon telling his own people to back off...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 15

2017/05/17 | | Permalink

The fight on all sides continues in episode fithteen of "Whisper" as alliances keep changing and new tools for manipulation keep appearing. Soo-yeon gets a taste of her own medicine as everything she has helped inflict upon others now appears at her doorstep. Things cannot end quite yet, so secrets start to surface which give different players leverage against their enemies. What will happen when all of it explodes is the question...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 30 Final

2017/05/16 | | Permalink

In a peculiar twist, it turns out that Gil-dong and friends did not, in fact, achieve even cursory reforms as a part of a a settlement when they beat King Yeonsangun's army in direct combat. All they got was...I guess some sort of license to continue wandering around the countryside beating up corrupt nobles without anyone interfering. Beyond that, the final episode mainly goes into the various fates of the characters aligned with King Yeonsangun...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Secret Romance" Episode 9

2017/05/16 | | Permalink

I was so caught up with how Dae-bok would interpret the existence of Dong-goo (played by Joo Sang-hyeok) it never even occurred to me that Jin-wook would also be inclined to the same interpretation. And honestly, Yoo-mi is so comically mum on the whole mum issue there were moments this episode where even I was wondering- have Mi-hee and Yoo-mi ever actually explicitly stated who Dong-goo is relative to them, or have we just been assuming? These characters are so bad at communicating it's hard to tell...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 14

2017/05/16 | | Permalink

Things are getting complicated and tiresome for everyone involved as Il-hwan's arrest makes Jeong-il the next target for our heroes. Our villain fights tooth and nail for his safety and that means trying to out-bid Dong-joon for Soo-yeon's good will. Soo-yeon on the other hand is after the safety of Taebaek for the sake of her father and her choices are limited...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Radiant Office" Episode 5

2017/05/16 | | Permalink

It's a week of humor as the underlings watch their managers bicker and act more than a little immature. It is also a week of weighty responsibility and repercussions that may or may not be fair for those receiving them. This hefty cast of characters goes through a lot, and we with them.

Ha-won is a heroine to be admired. Her tenacity ebbs and flows along with her confidence, but she always finds her feet....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man to Man" Episode 4

2017/05/16 | | Permalink

Although danger lurks in the background, episode 4 of "Man to Man" is all about the humor and growing interpersonal relationships between the characters. It is really Seol-woo who (rather unwillingly) progresses leaps and bounds all while doing a very fine Bond impression with his super secret team of spy friends...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 25-26

2017/05/15 | | Permalink

Romantic appearances are the main element at play in these two episodes of "Strong Family". First in the twenty-fifth episode we Ra-yeon ponder that all-important question- are you living with the person that you love? Then in the twenty-sixth episode we get the somewhat ominous implications of what happens when the answer to that question is no. And with that, another implication that these questions are constantly asked on a regular basis and never really go away...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 29

2017/05/15 | | Permalink

So apparently the last episode of "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" wasn't just climactic. It was, in fact, the climax of the entire drama. King Yeonsangun is in full on retreat. At first I thought he was just going to regroup and try again but nope, King Yeongsangun quickly regresses into a complete mental breakdown, terrifying his staff. In the end it's actually kind of refreshing that King yeonsangun just starts obsessing about art again, since there's no good way to whitewash the failure of the authority figures here to put down a rebellion...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Secret Romance" Episode 8

2017/05/15 | | Permalink

Everything Jin-wook does in the pool with Yoo-mi was taking things a bit too far. It's hard to hate him too much, though, since everyone knows full well that Jin-wook is taking things too far, yet they just can't bring themselves to hate him. It would be nice if we had more people's word to take for it than just Yoo-mi's. Recall that Woo-jin's softened demeanor toward Jin-wook is entirely a result of Jin-wook's actions during the timeskip...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.05.12 - 2017.05.14

2017/05/15 | | Permalink

Ridley Scott's new "Alien" bursts into first...

Starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride and Demián Bichir, "Alien: Covenant"-Ridley Scott's sequel to the 2012 sci-fi horror "Prometheus"-arrived in Korea on Tuesday to 832 screens around the country. The film, the sixth in the "Alien" series, claimed 520,635 admissions (25.79%) during its first weekend out to secure the top spot, outplaying last weekend's top two films, "The Sheriff In Town" and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 14

2017/05/14 | | Permalink

It is not easy discovering that your rugged resilience and athletic running can bend time, but that is exactly the unwanted ego trip our Gwang-ho receives in episode fourteen of "Tunnel - Drama". We have tearful reunions, awkward shifts in relationship dynamics and a killer who knows a bit too much for comfort. The team has to find evidence against him and guess where that evidence can be found...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 13

2017/05/14 | | Permalink

Gwang-ho has returned to his life, but there is a lot of work to be done in the past and present of "Tunnel - Drama". As our time traveling hero struggles to create a case against Mok Jin-woo at a time where technology is still underdeveloped, our team in the present start a search for their partner and look into the reason for his disappearance. Despite Gwang-ho's return, the present is not changing and we soon find out the why...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Sheriff In Town"

2017/05/13 | | Permalink

Dae-ho (played by Lee Sung-min) last had a chance to play hero was when he accidentally managed to nab Jong-jin (played by Cho Jin-woong), an idiot who got left holding the bag by some actual professionals. Now, when fate dictates that Dae-ho meets Jong-jin again, the latter man now a well respected businessman, Dae-ho concludes, logically, that Jong-jin was in fact the true evil genius all along. Throughout "The Sheriff In Town", Dae-ho works tirelessly to prove this fact, even as everyone around Dae-ho concludes, just as logically, that Dae-ho has lost his marbles...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Seeds of Violence"

2017/05/13 | | Permalink

Joo-yong (played by Lee Ga-seop) is doing his military service and like most of his countrymen, not particularly enjoying the project. But Joo-yong's predicament is particularly bad- he and most of the other members of his platoon suffer from chronic bullying. An official complaint prompting investigation of the matter only serves to intensify the cold environment of harassment. It is from this vantage point that Joo-yong learns from whence "The Seeds of Violence" come...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Blue Butterfly Effect"

2017/05/13 | | Permalink

The THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile system is, we are assured, necessary to defend against the North Koreans. There's just one problem- THAAD has to be physically placed somewhere in South Korea. And former President Park Geun-hye's administration chose poorly when they decided to place THAAD near Seongju, a location with enough of a local population to push back against the prospect of an advanced electromagnetic weapons system being deployed near their children...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Super Bernard: Spy Adventures"

2017/05/13 | | Permalink

Bernard (voiced by Kim Tae-gyoon-II) is a polar bear who you might or might recognize from short cartoons (as in, three minutes long) wherein he attempts to solve some sort of simple goal. He would, say, exercise at the gym or ride an airplane or get a bird off the TV antenna, and proceed to fail in increasingly comical slapstick ways while communicating only in goofy grunts. "Super Bernard: Spy Adventures" takes this character, and puts him in the action spy format for feature length...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 3-4

2017/05/11 | | Permalink

Ga-eun (played by Kim So-hyun) is the young woman who kept getting all those dramatic camera shots in the second episode, even though at the time we had no idea who she was. Here, we quickly discover that Ga-eun is a kind woman, who assumes on general principle that anybody being chased after by armed men is probably innocent. This turns out to be a pretty reasonable assumption considering that by the end of the fourth episode...alas, the other Seon (played by L) is not so lucky as the handsome prince who shares his moniker...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 1-2

2017/05/10 | | Permalink

Dae-mok (played by Heo Joon-ho) is the grand wizard of a massive conspiracy. Dae-mok is not literally a wizard, he just seems like one because of his mastery of spooky hallucinogens and a massive spy network capable of making these creepy physical effects pop up out of nowhere. So when Yoon (played by Kim Myeong-soo) makes a deal with Dae-mok to become King, out of sheer paranoia, Yoon ends up forcing his son Seon (played by Yoo Seung-ho) to wear a mask, murdering anyone who sees Seon's face. Then Dae-mok's granddaughter Hwa-goon (played by Yoon So-hee) enters the picture and-...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 13

2017/05/09 | | Permalink

With our heroes closing in on Il-hwan, things get heated as the two villain sides try to help or stop them. Tae-gon makes his choice on which side to place his life on while Jeong-il is backed into a corner as plans Il-hwan's downfall from the sidelines. Meanwhile, Soo-yeon is running the show for her father and our villainess becomes crueler by the minute as things before more dire...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 23-24

2017/05/08 | | Permalink

The South Korean Presidential Election is today, you might have heard. I bring this up because the twenty-third episode of "Strong Family" is an obvious nod to this fact, as the lead characters engage in the kind of political campaign that people who don't know anything about politics come up with. Which is to say, that rather than talk about why they want power, Cheon-il and Ra-yeon simply come up with elaborate tactics that fail to convince anyone that they even understand what the position they're campaigning for even does...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 28

2017/05/08 | | Permalink

The twenty-eighth episode of "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" consists entirely of a gigantic pitched battle. Well OK, technically King Yeonsangun harasses Gil-dong psychologically by dangling Ga-ryeong right in front of him, takes a break, then the battle starts when we discover Gil-dong's implausible victory strategy. But by and large it all feels like the same sequence, with King Yeonsangun on one end taking liquor shots while Gil-dong and friends are at the top of the embankment...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Secret Romance" Episode 7

2017/05/08 | | Permalink

One of Yoo-mi's more comforting qualities is her sincere desire to be helpful. At least, that's the sense I got from the odd scene where Jin-wook contrives a work-related reason for him to cook dinner for Yoo-mi, and Yoo-mi simply looks at the entire situation like it was an actual job and not merely a thinly veiled excuse for Jin-wook to spend time with her. Although I suppose it helps that Jin-wook himself probably believes his own ridiculous excuses...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.05.05 - 2017.05.07

2017/05/08 | | Permalink

Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" narrowly outplays "The Sheriff In Town" and "The Boss Baby" for the top spot...

The second volume of Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise arrived in Korea last Wednesday and rose to the top of the chart with 883,846 admissions (28.98%). Back in 2014, the first film grossed $773.3 million worldwide, and the sequel is expected to cross the billion dollar mark; currently, having been produced for $200 million, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" (starring Chris Pratt) has already grossed over $427 million. In Korea, the film was allocated 1,218 screens around the country for its first weekend and is fast approaching 2 million admissions (currently 1.7 million, or $13.1 million)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man to Man" Episode 3

2017/05/07 | | Permalink

"Man to Man" wastes no time jumping into the action of its tale. Seol-woo and Woon-gwang's bromance quickly steams up while the search for the wooden tablets become more urgent. In the midst of it all Seol-woo slowly, and unwillingly, becomes integrated into Woon-gwang's loving gang of misfits. Against his better judgement and desires, I do believe Woon-gwang and Do-ha are getting under his skin...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Mayor"

2017/05/06 | | Permalink

Jong-goo (played by Choi Min-sik) is the mayor of Seoul, who is in the midst of running for his third term in office. Why exactly Jong-goo is so determined to hold on to power is...unclear. At this point Jong-goo seems to be working by inertia alone. The notion that he could ever not possibly be the most powerful man in the room is abhorrent to Jong-goo. To the man's credit, he does tend to only utilize his awesome political powers in the case of an emergency. There's a lot of those in an election year, as young campaign staffperson Kyeong (played by Shim Eun-kyung) learns to her slow dismay...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Suh-Suh Pyoung, Slowly and Peacefully"

2017/05/06 | | Permalink

Elizabeth Johanna Shepping's mother came to the United States in search of opportunity. That did not end well. After a disaffected childhood where she was used to having no friends, Shepping eventually moved back in with her mother and stepfather, only to have a falling out over religious differences. In her quest for salvation, Shepping eventually settles upon colonial Korea as the outlet for her work, adopting the Korean name Suh Pyoung in order to better fit in...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 28 Final

2017/05/04 | | Permalink

The ending to "Saimdang: Light's Diary" is more anticlimactic than anything else. The bad guys are almost immediately brought to justice because one essential character changes sides, and CCTV footage which should have been exposed, I don't know, a dozen episodes ago suddenly pops up out of nowhere and decisively proves that Jeong-hak was a fink all along. Meanwhile, in the past, King Jungjong is sad because it has suddenly occurred to him that persecuting artists is bad...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Secret Romance" Episode 6

2017/05/02 | | Permalink

It turns out Yoo-mi has one impressive quality that Jin-wook is unlikely to find anywhere else. She's good at apologizing. The irony, of course, is that Yoo-mi hasn't done anything wrong in regards to Jin-wook or his relationships. All the same, at the slightest indication that she has made either Jin-wook or Hye-ri uncomfortable, Yoo-mi demurs. And of course, Jin-wook is left in an even worse mood than usual as a result...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 12

2017/05/02 | | Permalink

Chang-ho's death means that we now have no good fathers left to speak and it seems like it is about to spark a wave of abandonment, starting in episode twelve of "Whisper". Dong-joon and Yeong-joo use everything and everyone they need to in order to get ahead of Taebaek and Bogook's masters. The time has come for our cowardly key figure,Tae-gon to face the reality of his importance...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 21-22

2017/05/01 | | Permalink

Cheon-il has just about completely disappeared from his formerly prominent position as main character. Yes, the center of the twenty-first episode does revolve around a questionable decision on his part. Overall, though, Cheon-il doesn't even really get any particularly noteworthy scenes. The main standout involves his own boss Seok-moon panicking over the prospect of spending a disproportionate amount of time waiting in sheer boredom...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Secret Romance" Episode 5

2017/05/01 | | Permalink

Increasingly "My Secret Romance" is getting into a holding pattern, where Jin-wook just acts generally inexplicably grumpy and is unsatisfied that his bad mood results in bad experiences. It's definite regression from the cool version of his character that we saw immediately post timeskip. Jin-wook does seem kind of cool, though, when he's rebuffing Hye-ri in about the most explicit possible terms and Hye-ri proves herself completely incapable of understanding his iciness...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 27

2017/05/01 | | Permalink

Even though they have explicitly engaged King Yeonsangun's military forces several times at this point, Gil-dong and his comrades continue to be oddly reticent when it comes to any actual clearly defined goals. Multiple public meetings are held here where various townspeople discuss the crimes committed against them by King Yeonsangun. I'm always left wondering how "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" is able to feature so much talking and so little action...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 11

2017/05/01 | | Permalink

There is no friendship or loyalty between monsters and our villains are met with some tough decisions on which carrot to drop in favor of their survival. Jeong-il has to free his pursuer to trap Il-hwan and Il-hwan's enemies just keep piling up outside and inside of his doors. Yeong-joo and Dong-joon take some bold measures, but a very tough choice has to eventually be made for Yeong-joo's future...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 12

2017/05/01 | | Permalink

Our two killers finally meet and Jeong Ho-yeong starts a new game upon his departure in episode twelve of "Tunnel - Drama". The police close in on Mok Jin-woo's identity as he also closes in on who Gwang-ho really is. Just as things are about to become solved, another impossible occurrence surfaces, leaving our hero with new obstacles for the next episode...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.04.28 - 2017.04.30

2017/05/01 | | Permalink

"The Mayor" and "The King's Case Note" arrive and thrive ahead of the holidays...

Seven new films (five of which were local) entered the fray this past week as the country heads towards one of its most competitive times of the year. A string of national holidays-which includes Buddha's Birthday, Children's Day, and the upcoming presidential elections-will draw the crowds as many zero in on their nearest big screen to catch some of the season's cinematic hopefuls...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 11

2017/04/30 | | Permalink

Gwang-ho's realization of Jae-i's identity hits him like a ton of bricks, but time is of the essence even for time travelers, as Jeong Ho-yeong's arrest means that evidence needs to be found. As Jae-i assumed, the criminal's mother seems to be a key figure and so the importance of guardian and society influence is a concept which is present throughout the episode. Meanwhile, Mok Jin-woo is eying a new chess buddy...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Radiant Office" Episode 4

2017/04/29 | | Permalink

A new episode heralds in a new company problem, and this time on "Radiant Office" the drama takes a look at nepotistic tendencies of higher management. Ho-won continues to show more spunk than ever before, fighting for her rights despite her low rank. Around her others continue to suffer due to the hierarchy, giving in or fighting in their own way....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice"

2017/04/29 | | Permalink

The crime genre has had its ups and downs in Dramaland, but it seems that more and more creators re starting to get where the appeal lies. Crime needs either a good investigative element to pique curiosity or a solid emotional core to appeal to feelings. When one does both, we have a truly good series. "Voice" is not perfect, but it is another step in the right direction...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Radiant Office" Episode 3

2017/04/29 | | Permalink

The plight of the newbie worker continues as Ho-won, Gi-taek, and Kang-ho struggle through office life, illness, ex-girlfriends, and mountainous societal and family expectations. Not only are the newbs suffering, but those at the top claw and scrape to keep their positions and one up each other. As represented in the first couple of episodes, the work place is a battlefield and people fight to survive, only in suits rather than fatigues....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man to Man" Episode 2

2017/04/29 | | Permalink

Although "Man to Man" doesn't have too much substance yet, I can genuinely say that I'm having a blast watching it. Park Hae-jin is winning; Park Seong-woong has wry comedy down pat; and Kim Min-jung, despite her annoying character, has impeccable delivery. Of course, the quality of the production is high and the writing is witty. I'm looking forward to how this show rolls out....More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Marianne and Margaret"

2017/04/29 | | Permalink

Back in 1962, Marianne Suede and Margaret Pisarek came to the obscure island of Sorok, way on the southern tip of Korea from their home country of Austria. As nuns, Marianne Suede and Margaret Pisarek were driven by their desire to do good works for the less fortunate, and came to Sorok Island to care for the sick. That's pretty much all they did for forty four years. Then they went back to Austria, spending the rest of their days in a nursing home...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Plan - Documentary"

2017/04/29 | | Permalink

South Korea's 2012 Presidential Election has become rather notorious of late mostly because it put such an astonishingly incompetent and corrupt leader into power. What you may not know (and what I didn't know either prior to watching "The Plan - Documentary") is that there is a not insignificant chance that Park Geun-hye's victory was the result of vote rigging. Oh don't go salivating. Director Choi Jin-seong does not name names or insinuate a conspiracy. "The Plan - Documentary" is largely a technical exercise in explaining the relative ease with which elections can be rigged, and how a lot of numbers from the 2012 South Korean Presidential Election don't add up...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "My Little Baby, Jaya"

2017/04/29 | | Permalink

The exploitation film is lurid for the sake of being lurid, enticing viewers with the promise that twisted depraved people will meet twisted depraved ends in the name of morose justice. The social awareness film, by contrast, seeks to make some sort of serious commentary about horrible unseen problems in daily life. "My Little Baby, Jaya" tries to be both of these things, with mixed success...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 27

2017/04/27 | | Permalink

It's more than a little late for me to be figuring this out, but apparently Lee Gyum wasn't a real person either. It's hard to tell whether this makes "Saimdang: Light's Diary" better or worse. On one end, only Saimdang's name has been sullied by the exceptionally goofy plotting of this drama. On the other end, "Saimdang: Light's Diary" has spent a preposterous amount of time and effort dedicated to the romantic anguish of a fictional character whose only reason for existence is to have a tragic extramarital love affair with Saimdang...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 10

2017/04/26 | | Permalink

Being seen close to a body in Dramaland is never a promising event for one's future and in a series like "Whisper", the outcome is always predictable. Yeong-joo and Dong-joon now have two enemy sides to fight against, but those two sides are also fighting each other, complicating things for everyone. Tae-gon becomes the most important pawn for all sides while Soo-yeon finds herself in a familiar situation highlighting a theme of the drama...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 26

2017/04/26 | | Permalink

So it turns out Jeong-hak's thievery of Saimdang's Kumgang Mountain painting is easily detectable by anyone with proper training in classical art. This isn't exactly a surprise, considering that Sang-hyeon identified the errors in Jeong-hak's fake way back in the first episode and it was mainly hubris that prevented Jeong-hak from realizing the error himself. At the time, I was expecting the central conflict would be over Jeong-hak stubbornly refusing to acknowledge Sang-hyeon's argument even as Ji-yoon discovered the genuine painting...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Secret Romance" Episode 4

2017/04/25 | | Permalink

In a mildly intriguing plot twist, we discover that Jin-wook's constant pestering of Yoo-mi is less schoolboy crush and more his acting out feelings of harsh resentment for the terrible lie Yoo-mi told him three years ago. You may be wondering what possible offensive lie Yoo-mi could have told Jin-wook in the context of a one night stand and, well, it's actually a pretty convincing one in terms of offending Jin-wook. Although Jin-wook does come off as rather petty for caring about it...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 26

2017/04/25 | | Permalink

Now that Eorini has finally been identified, it's up to attempted memory triggers by her brothers and various flashbacks to explain how exactly Eorini has not been able to recognize anything of her own life. It's not clear to me that Eorini was really young enough for such brainwashing to plausibly work, and the motives for anyone to even try it in the first place were comically pointlessly evil for the sake of being evil. Haven't we had enough of that by now?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 9

2017/04/25 | | Permalink

The status quo comes crashing down in episode nine of "Whisper" as Il-hwan makes a daring move that changes the game for everyone permanently. Baek Sang-goo becomes a key witness and he is taking bids from everyone, including Dong-joon and Yeong-joo. Meanwhile the "justice pair" start planting the seeds of distrust among Jeong-il and Soo-yeon's supporters...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 19-20

2017/04/24 | | Permalink

Cheon-il is a good guy. One of the big riddles of "Strong Family" is that most of the time, Cheon-il has no idea how or why he is being a good guy. Sometimes the expectation game is not his fault- as is seen with the opening conflict, sometimes the more obviously beloved behavior of other people is what makes Ra-yeon start to overthink things. Elsewhere, Cheon-il's determination to see the worst of life is his biggest weakness. Poor Cheon-il. He just doesn't know how to read a room...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 25

2017/04/24 | | Permalink

Increasingly I find myself thinking that the most logical interpretation of Gil-dong's character in "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" is that he's just a figment of King Yeonsangun's imagination, blown completely out of proportion. It's hard to think of any other reason why Gil-dong inexplicably leaves King Yeonsangun unharmed instead of just killing the guy outright. A figment of imagination, that I can understand going into long-winded speeches. But a guy who's actually going to war against the state?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Secret Romance" Episode 3

2017/04/24 | | Permalink

So even though we saw Yoo-mi fantasizing about meeting Jin-wook by chance again last episode, this time, Yoo-mi is doing everything she can to avoid the reality of the situation. Which makes sense. Let's recall that, three years ago, Jin-wook was kind of a jerk, and that they were both just a tad drunk. So it's easy to empathize with Yoo-mi viewing Jin-wook's dictatorial demands here as being part and parcel of a mean personality rather than an overbearing effort on his part to be cute...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man to Man" Episode 1

2017/04/24 | | Permalink

"Man to Man" hits the ground running with beautiful cinematography, a charismatic lead, and enough humor to take the edge off the many action scenes. From directors Kim Sang-ho-I ("Arang and the Magistrate") and Lee Chang-min-I ("Birth of a Beauty", "Midas"), and writer, Kim Won-seok-II ("Descendants of the Sun", "The Queen's Classroom"), this newest jTBC drama definitely pulled out all the stops to grab our attention. It makes it worthy of the first Korean drama for which Nextflix has acquired exclusive rights....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 10

2017/04/24 | | Permalink

Our killers get increasingly frustrated in episode ten of "Tunnel - Drama", as the only person on the side of the law who can understand their signatures is Jae-i. Aside from delivering a timeline and recap of the murders, the episode also presents our killers with some surprises. After a conflict with Gwang-ho, Jae-i makes a bold and very dangerous decision about her involvement in the case...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.04.21 - 2017.04.23

2017/04/24 | | Permalink

"The Fate of the Furious" retains pole position...

The eighth instalment in the "Fast and the Furious" series of action films, "The Fate of the Furious", claimed pole position during its second weekend out, moving its bottom line to over $18.9 million (2.5 million admissions). From 1,282 screens (down from 1,468), F. Gary Gray's high-octane action outing captured 57.29% of the sales (678,179 admissions; worldwide, "F8" has now grossed more than $772.4 million...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 9

2017/04/23 | | Permalink

A frightening, yet not unanticipated twist is finally delivered in episode nine of "Tunnel - Drama" and it is about to cause many new concerns for our leads and new questions for us. The time has also come to learn more about Jeong Ho-yeong's past and the focus starts to shift toward finding out what drives him and what has caused the particular preferences that seem to govern his M.O...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 15

2017/04/23 | | Permalink

The events of "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" climax in the penultimate episode, sticking the sadistic Jang-hyeon behind bars where he belongs and showing off that Bong-soon is made of greater stuffs than she first believed. Along with the positives, there were a few negatives, mainly in how the show arrived at this point. Those negatives are offset by the ridiculous cute chemistry between Bong-soon and Min-hyeok....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 16 (Final)

2017/04/23 | | Permalink

We've made it to the final episode of "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" and what an eventful journey it has been. From silly gangsters, to doppelgangers, to evil kidnappers, to the strong woman herself, this drama has fit in a little of just about everything. Let's talk about the finale and send off this drama with happy hearts....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Fantastic"

2017/04/22 | | Permalink

If there is one thing to say about "Fantastic" is that the drama has bold ideas. Combining the promise of a happy, light series with the premise of its lead dying of cancer is a very daring move, although one Dramaland has not succeeded very well in yet. Still, this drama tries to juggle the illness, romance and a hefty dose of family drama to go with...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "House of the Disappeared"

2017/04/22 | | Permalink

In the opening scene of "House of the Disappeared", Mi-hee (played by Kim Yoon-jin) comes upon horror. Her husband has been stabbed, and her son is only briefly visible before unseen forces drag him off into the unknown. The authorities conclude that, somehow, Mi-hee was responsible for these crimes, and she comes out of prison twenty five years later an old woman, still muttering about the monstrous forces at work in her house. Father Choi (played by Taecyeon), an old family friend, hears Mi-hee out as she delves into her own memories, trying to find an answer...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Gag Powerful Man"

2017/04/22 | | Permalink

While cartooning is generally thought of as a medium for children, as long as there have been cartoons, there have been crude distorted versions. The twenty-first century has been very kind to crude cartoons, as technology advances have made it easy for anyone to make static, repetitive animations which shock via overt graphic violence and explicit sexual titillation. "Gag Powerful Man" is a traditionally Korean themed version of such a cartoon, in feature length form...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Cherry Blossoms, Again"

2017/04/22 | | Permalink

Jang Beom-june was the leading singer/songwriter for Busker Busker, an independent rock band from Cheonan. Today he...still writes and performs music, just as a solo artist. Jang Beom-june owes his presence in South Korean musical culture largely to one song- "Cherry Blossom Ending" which appears every spring in the South Korean music charts. But aside from that, Jang Beom-june also writes and performs other songs. Sometimes he even does covers...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 25

2017/04/20 | | Permalink

It's back to the framing device as Ji-yoon...pretty much gives up on any hope of recovering the painting and just goes on a road trip with her son. This road trip is rather geographically challenged. Ji-yoon's father lives in Pyeongtaek, yet the first place they end up going is Chuncheon, which is practically on the opposite side of the country. All while Ji-yoon is holding down a teaching job apparently...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 14

2017/04/20 | | Permalink

Bong-soon must get used to life without her strength, but it is more difficult than she thought. More than anything she needs the support of her loved ones, and luckily she gets exactly that. But she can't rest easy, not with an egomanical kidnapper on the lose and intent on revenge. Although this episode has deceptively adorable scenes, its heart lies with Bong-soon and her ability to become a hero....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 13

2017/04/20 | | Permalink

The events of this episode of "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" aren't surprising, but are surprisingly well-played. Determination born from despair drives Bong-soon to save her kidnapped friend, a situation common to heroes. Along the way she makes some difficult decisions, faces off with her nemesis, and struggles to reconcile all the disparate parts of her very complicated life....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 24

2017/04/19 | | Permalink

Try as I might it's surprisingly difficult to parse the motives of any of the antagonists in "Saimdang: Light's Diary". This is especially awkward since the drama is now at the climax and everyone's getting their comeuppance/unjust victory. Headmistress Choi is jealous. It's dumb but it makes sense. Everyone else? Chi-hyeon is evil for the sake of being evil. Won-soo hates his wife and apparently his children too. King Jungjong is...I don't know, suddenly not appreciative of art any more?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Secret Romance" Episode 2

2017/04/18 | | Permalink

In a somewhat perplexing plot twist, right after the recap of the one night stand, there's a three year time skip and all of a sudden Jin-wook and Yoo-mi seem like completely different characters. Far from being the playboy we last saw, Jin-wook is now taking his corporate responsibilities very seriously. Yoo-mi has picked herself up emotionally and shows remarkable dexterity as a cafeteria chef. About the only commonality they have is their shared wistfulness about meeting that one special person three years ago...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 24

2017/04/18 | | Permalink

While the last episode of "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" was noticeably laggard when it came to obvious action or plot movement, I was still caught rather off guard by just how little happens this episode. Yes, at the end we get the smoke bombs and Gil-dong's full team decked out in masks prepared to do something obviously really cool. But until we get to that point, everyone just keeps talking in circles and endlessly rearranging pieces on the board...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 8

2017/04/18 | | Permalink

The hinted rift between our lovebird antagonists cannot stop expanding and it is aided by Yeong-joo and Dong-joon's actions, but also by the two elders who want to win over their rival. The desperate villains are starting to change their mind on their loyalties and this yields importance evidence for our heroes' case. At the same time, the shift of alliances creates new dangers and the suggestion for an unwelcome compromise...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 17-18

2017/04/17 | | Permalink

For the first time, Cheon-il uses his tracksuit for its intended purpose- as workout clothes, in anticipation of the big company athletic competition which he ends up taking far, far too aggressively. I was a little disappointed that Cheon-il's training montage is just general athletics. It would have made for a much funnier overall joke if Cheon-il had been taking mixed martial arts lessons and his performance on the field was a result of his mis-applying those skills in the wrong context...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 23

2017/04/17 | | Permalink

King Yeonsangun starts us off by declaring a war on babies. I...wish I was exaggerating but King Yeonsangun really does jump from typical jerk evil to cartoonish supervillain evil so fast that I barely had time to process what was happening before babies started getting smothered to death. My initial concerns about this being mere egregious scriptwriting are mostly alleviated by mid-episode recitations of what I presume are actual royal orders that are consistently in line with King Yeonsangun's actions in the drama...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Secret Romance" Episode 1

2017/04/17 | | Permalink

Jin-wook (played by Sung Hoon) is a playboy and a bit of a jerk. The first we see of the guy, he takes over a party and then walks back his sexiness with a rather ridiculous sounding excuse. As mean and selfish as Jin-wook seems at first glance, we do find out by the end that the excuse is actually evidence of Jin-wook's secret good side. Which is fortunate, since up until that point, we frequently see Jin-wook get in trouble for stuff that's not actually his fault, yet never does he seem all that sympathetic...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 7

2017/04/17 | | Permalink

Dong-joon's newfound confidence and rediscovered sense of justice make him determined to take down Jeong-il and set things right for Yeong-joo and her family. The several antagonists of "Whisper" are starting to feel the pressure of their power games and cracks have begun to form in their mighty facade. Everyone has reasons to fight which are important to them and this means that backing down indefinitely is not something they are willing to do...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.04.14 - 2017.04.16

2017/04/17 | | Permalink

"The Fate of the Furious" overtakes "Beauty and the Beast" for pole position...

Bill Condon's "Beauty and the Beast" was unable to secure a fifth-straight run at the top because of the arrival of a high-octane action film from director F. Gary Gray. "The Fate of the Furious" (also known as Fast & Furious 8), the eighth film in the franchise, arrived last Wednesday and scooped up the lion's share of the stubs (63.82%); from 1,467 screens around the country, "The Fate of the Furious" claimed 1.05 million admissions ($10.5 million). The film, which cost $250 million to produce, boasts an ensemble cast including Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, and others. Worldwide, the 'F8' has already grossed over half a billion dollars...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 8

2017/04/16 | | Permalink

Grab a hanky and brace for a very personal, very emotional episode of "Tunnel - Drama". Seon-jae can no longer doubt Gwang-ho's identity and so our in-the-know duo becomes a trio. In the process of wrapping up a new case, Gwang-ho picks up on Yeon-sook's trail and finally gets to know her fate. Meanwhile, Jae-i notices the change of M.O in the serial killings just as Jeong Ho-yeong begins again, a decision which seems to be related to Seon-jae's contact with him...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 7

2017/04/15 | | Permalink

It is revelations galore in episode seven of "Tunnel - Drama" as the modern Gwang-ho's connection to our leads becomes clearer. Gwang-ho's identity is compromised as Seon-jae refuses to let go. Meanwhile, hidden parts of Jae-i's past are about to make their entrance, and it looks like Gwang-ho's protective behavior towards her is exactly what surely many of us will have guessed it to be by now...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "One Day"

2017/04/15 | | Permalink

Kang-soo (played by Kim Nam-gil) is an insurance adjuster who has had a very, very rough time as of late. His wife Seon-hwa (played by Lim Hwa-yeong) is dead, and all Kang-soo can do to distract himself from the misery is focus on his work and get drunk at night in a feeble effort to alleviate the pain. So it's little surprise that when Mi-so (played by Chun Woo-hee) asks Kang-soo the rather peculiar question "can you see me?", Kang-soo is evasive and fails to catch on to the strange evolving situation...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "One Line"

2017/04/15 | | Permalink

The year is 2005. That's...kind of recent in nostalgia terms. Yes, those were the days back when everyone had fliptop phones and computers monitors were still the size of TVs- these being the days before flatscreen TVs. Anyway, Min-jae (played by Im Si-wan) is a college student who teams up with big time swindler Seok-goo (played by Jin Goo) to fight corporate greed by helping low-income people qualify for loans by manipulating bank systems in such a way that people are granted loans when they don't actually have proper credit for them...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "One Step"

2017/04/15 | | Permalink

In the opening scene of "One Step", Si-hyeon (played by Sandara Park) is hit with tragedy, and wakes up an amnesiac with a bad physical reaction to music. So now she lives with aerobics instructor Ji-won (played by Hong Ah-reum). Together, they get the idea to piece together Si-hyeon's memories using her vague memory of a simple tune. That's when they enlist the help of writer's block hobbled songwriter turned name that tune radio guy Jee-yeol (played by Han Jae-suk)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 12

2017/04/15 | | Permalink

"Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" has finally found its stride. With major foreshadowing of things to come, an actively creepy villain, and a romance in full bloom, this cast of characters charges full steam ahead towards its last episodes....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 11

2017/04/15 | | Permalink

The love triangle blooms and dies rather quickly in this episode, but its demise is quite possibly one of my favorite shifts in a second lead that I've seen on Korean television. Accompanying the demise of Gook-doo's hope in starting a relationship with Bong-soon is the utter delight that is Min-hyeok courting Bong-soon. Around the dynamics of romantic relationships looms the ever present Jang-hyun, crafty kidnapper and man bereft of a moral compass...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 23

2017/04/12 | | Permalink

While "Saimdang: Light's Diary" has always suffered from direct comparison to the also currently airing "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People", the timing this week is especially unfortunate. The latter drama just explicitly made a point about how proper representation of women in the arts is a completely meaningless victory in the context of a political situation so bad that people are actively being murdered. As a result, the plot in "Saimdang: Light's Diary" about Saimdang heroically striking a blow for women everywhere by painting the king's portrait just comes off as really awkward...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 22

2017/04/11 | | Permalink

Gil-dong is still going through the wringer as "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" makes the most of its runtime to show that our noble hero is suffering with little to no apparent hope and sight. What's worse, the people suffer with him. King Yeonsangun shows off a nasty sadistic streak, not just by bullying Gil-dong in person, but also by showing off to Gil-dong all the people he can't protect. Which of course includes more gratutitous crying infants...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 6

2017/04/11 | | Permalink

With the addition of time to the list of everything going against Yeong-joo's efforts in "Whisper", our heroine is stuck in limbo as our antagonists play their little games. Il-hwan wants to cut Yoo-taek off from Taebaek, but his frenemy has quite the hefty request in return. Meanwhile Jeong-il and Soo-yeon are trapped between their families and rely on a very important document, which becomes an item currently desired by all...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 15-16

2017/04/10 | | Permalink

The two main conflicts this time are, for episode fifteen, the question of how to best spend vacation time, and for episode sixteen, the question of how to deal with incrementally chaotic financial situations. As is usually the case for "Strong Family", the conflicts are defined by their relatively minor scope. These are the sorts of issues normal families have to deal with on a regular basis, so the problems are quite easy to discuss...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 21

2017/04/10 | | Permalink

Gil-dong's big plan for trying get out of prison is just to try and have faith in King Yeonsangun's better nature. This seems logical enough from our perspective, since the scope of King Yeonsangun's involvement in all the bad stuff that's been happening has been murky at best. It's a bit more difficult to justify why Gil-dong thinks this is a good idea, since he has no reason to believe King Yeonsangun has any moral scruples...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 5

2017/04/10 | | Permalink

The cat is out of the bag and now four leads get to engage in backstabbing pleasantries for episode five of "Whisper". Dong-joon is looking for allies in an effort to keep himself safe and conquer Taebaek. Il-hwan tries to help for his own revenge, but his pull is limited by his daughter's affiliations. Yeong-joo is pushed into a corner and makes some desperate decisions upon receiving bad news regarding her father's health...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 6

2017/04/10 | | Permalink

My wish to be given time for processing all of our information is granted, because episode six of "Tunnel - Drama" takes a break from exploring the persons involved in the standalone cases and instead uses its new crime to progress the main plot and tease at more possible killers. I see suspects everywhere, some of which are faces we know from the past and some of which might still be hidden...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.04.07 ~ 2017.04.09

2017/04/10 | | Permalink

"Beauty and the Beast" holds off "The Prison" to secure its fourth weekend at the top...

For the fourth straight weekend, Bill Condon's update on Disney's 1991 classic "Beauty and the Beast" (starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens) has remained Korea's film of choice. The 347,085 admissions (26.96%) it claimed over the weekend pushes its total tally in Korea now 4.6 million ($33.2 million), making it the highest-grossing foreign film of the year, as well as the third highest overall ("Confidential Assignment" and "The King" are one and two respectively). Worldwide, "Beauty and the Beast" has grossed nearly a billion dollars...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 5

2017/04/09 | | Permalink

Isolation is the prominent theme in episode five of "Tunnel - Drama" and the series uses it to reveal its cards about some topics which have been teased. Seon-jae's identity is provided and we now see his issues clearly. While investigating a case cut off from the world, our characters have to deal with some of their own demons and approach the hidden culprit not only with evidence, but their own humanity in mind...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 10

2017/04/09 | | Permalink

"Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" is clipping right along, growing its romance in a most satisfying way. The case is stuck between a rock and a hard place because of the cleverness of the villain, Kim Jang-hyeon (Jang Mi-kwan), but that does not prevent the headstrong Gook-doo from doggedly pursuing justice....More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Prison"

2017/04/08 | | Permalink

The year is 1995. Yoo-geon (played by Kim Rae-won) is a bad dude- so bad, he even gets a special color nametag on his prison jumpsuit. Soon after arrival Yoo-geon manages to get into a fight with top dog Chang-gil (played by Sin Seong-rok), who is also a bad dude that does not know the meaning of surrender. Once the baddest dude in the room has been established, it's then on to the baddest dude in the whole prison, Ik-ho (played by Han Seok-Kyu) who takes the meaning of the term "bad dude" to a whole another level...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "On the Beach at Night Alone" + Poster Giveaway

2017/04/08 | | Permalink

Yeong-hee (played by Kim Min-hee)  is a film actress with surprisingly little to do in her copious free time. Allegedly, Yeong-hee does have friends, but Yeong-hee's conversations with them frequently descend into self-deprecating melancholy. I mean really, what else do you call nonchalant references to extramarital affairs, coupled with the suspicious insistence that nah, I don't really care even though it's apparently the only thing I can think of to talk about? Yeong-hee lives in her own sad little world, and through "On the Beach at Night Alone", we feel sorry for her...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Collision"

2017/04/08 | | Permalink

Normally I like to start these reviews out with a basic description of the movie's action. Who are the characters? What are they doing? Why should we care? "Collision" is rather challenging in this regard, because as much as I try, it's hard to even so much as generalize their motives. I mean, all right, yeah, they don't want to be violently murdered in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Does anyone really?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 22

2017/04/06 | | Permalink

The central conflict this time around deals with sexism against women in Joseon. On its face this entire idea is a little odd, considering that Saimdang herself was a famous artist who was appreciated in her time. What's more, "Saimdang: Light's Diary" has consistently had unnamed characters react to Saimdang's gender with a sense of novelty, rather than revulsion. So for people to suddenly have a hissy fit about Saimdang going beyond her station marks a rather serious break with continuity...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 21

2017/04/05 | | Permalink

Princess Jeong-soon (played by Lee Joo-yeon-I) is, at present, my most disliked character in "Saimdang: Light's Diary". This isn't because there's anything wrong with Princess Jeong-soon or the actress playing her. In fact, Princess Jeong-soon is one of the few people we see demonstrating a consistent interest in painting. That's why I hate her- time and again "Saimdang: Light's Diary" treats Princess Jeong-soon's interest in painting as if it were some form of naïve idiocy...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 4

2017/04/04 | | Permalink

There is justice in the world after all, or at least the world of Park Kyeong-soo. Dong-joon gets a rude awakening about his importance in Taebaek which changes the terms of his collaboration with Yeong-joo. The newly discovered deadly lover duo gets serious with its scheming and spares no one in order to protect their better half. With Yeong-joo's identity compromised, the time has come for alliances to be reassessed...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 4

2017/04/04 | | Permalink

We take a small break from the serial killings in "Tunnel - Drama" as Gwang-ho and the station group try to solve a series of break ins and a related murder. Seong-sik confronts Gwang-ho with his confession and that brings about a bigger need for caution on their part. Episode four also provides us with some much needed backstory for Jae-i and Seon-jae. The identity of the Gwang-ho born in 1988 is revealed and the serial killer resurfaces...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 20

2017/04/04 | | Permalink

So it turns out the whole run-in with the foreign invaders really was just a one-off plot point intended to establish how Gil-dong and his team are the unambiguous good guys. In context that's not quite as cheesy as it sounds, since some serious discussion is given to the idea of how Gil-dong's popularity is a risk to the ruling class mostly because people like him. They don't especially like King Yeonsangun...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 9

2017/04/04 | | Permalink

Bong-soon the heroine is starting to emerge from her shell with determination that bubbles from within and finessed training given by Min-hyeok. As she grows, those around her are starting to realize just what she's made of, whether for better or for worse.

One of the most important realizations comes when Gook-doo witnesses Bong-soon's incredible strength first hand...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 3

2017/04/03 | | Permalink

Yeong-joo continues to dig deeper and Dong-joo continues to become more and more disgusting in episode three of "Whisper". Soo-yeon has picked up on the fact that Dong-joon is being blackmailed and she tries to weasel the culprit's name out of him. Meanwhile Jeong-il has his own revelations and things become clearer regarding the different alliances and conflicting interests within Taebaek...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 19

2017/04/03 | | Permalink

Early on, there's a nice parallel philosophical discussion between King Yeonsangun and Gil-dong where they ponder over what the true relationship and distinction is between the ruler and the ruled. The scenes are amusing less because King Yeonsangun and Gil-dong bring up interesting ideas as they are because of the radically different context. King Yeonsangun just ponders generically because he's the king and has nothing better to do. Whereas Gil-dong is in jail...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 13-14

2017/04/03 | | Permalink

A lot of the story in "Strong Family" is very low key. I know that the central plot of the thirteenth episode was Ra-yeon trying and inevitably becoming frustrated with her attempts to fit in to a more high class mom clique. I also know that the central plot of the fourteenth episode was Cheon-il's rather creepy fixation with the person who lives upstairs and generally irritates Ra-yeon with constant cigarette smoke. Beyond that, though, what we have are a lot of very small plots with frustratingly little development...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.03.31 ~ 2017.04.02

2017/04/03 | | Permalink

Foreign fairytale narrowly outplays "The Prison" for the top spot...

"Beauty and the Beast", Bill Condon's re-imagining of Disney's classic fairytale, fended off a flood of new entries last weekend to secure a second week at the top. Now in its third weekend, the film once again narrowly retained pole position by capturing 32.51% of the sales (650,185 admissions). That sum moves its bottom line in Korea now to over 4 million admissions ($30.1 million) and is currently the third highest-grossing film of the year behind "The King" (5.3 million) and "Confidential Assignment" (7.8 million). Worldwide, "Beauty and the Beast" is closing in on a billion dollars in sales: $876.3 million...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Mystery Queen"

2017/04/02 | | Permalink

The concept of the "ajumma", the older married woman has had a rough times. While often a stereotype to be ridiculed and kept within traditional confines, it has begun taking more progressive forms as Korean drama evolves. In this case, our "Mystery Queen" will cook dinner, then arrest your sorry hide.


Yoo Seol-ok (Choi Kang-hee) is a woman who married early and had to give up on her dream of becoming a detective. Ha Won-seung (Kwon Sang-woo) is a detective who thinks with his fists. When Seol-ok becomes involved in a case, she gets another chance at her dream. The two characters do not get along, but they have to work together...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 16 (final)

2017/04/02 | | Permalink

It's time to say goodbye to "Voice". I've had some time to think about this and I have to say, the entire series, while somewhat exciting, was a bit lackluster. What caused that was poor editing and character development. It was in no way a fault of Jang Hyeok or Kim Jae-wook, two of the strongest actors in the cast. It's unfortunate because this show could've been so much more....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 8

2017/04/02 | | Permalink

Although Bong-soon has often repeated her desire to do right by the people of her neighborhood with her strength, that strength is often warped into a tool for needless violence. While she indeed grows, it's not enough to counter the discrepancies in what she and those around her do and what they say they will do. Added to this is the strange development of multiple characters. Despite all this, "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" does retain an element of cuteness, mostly due to Park Bo-young and the cutesy editing....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 3

2017/04/01 | | Permalink

It is starting to dawn on our protagonist that perhaps there is a reason behind his impossible situation. Episode three of "Tunnel - Drama" is all about ghosts from the past and Gwang-ho thinks that catching them will be his ticket back home. Seon-jae and Jae-i form a rapport as they try to find the killer while our hero is left to fend for himself. As he starts making the connection between the past murders and the current one, Seong-sik becomes suspicious...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9"

2017/04/01 | | Permalink

"Survival " reality shows have been done in every way imaginable. Most look scripted and thankfully have limits their concepts cannot cross. So what if we take their core concept over to fiction, spice up the conflict, add a murderous participant and remove the outside world entirely? Welcome to "Missing 9"; an interesting idea which creates good entertainment, until it sadly becomes too derailed to enjoy...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Bluebeard"

2017/04/01 | | Permalink

Seung-hoon (played by Cho Jin-woong) is a gastroenterologist of limited social skills. Hence why he's split up from his obviously gorgeous wife Soo-jeong (played by Yoon Se-ah) and completely oblivious to the attentions of attending nurse Mi-yeon (played by Lee Cheong-ah). What does interest Seung-hoon is the obsessive world of detective mysteries where every minor detail is an important clue to unraveling the identity of the true criminal. Finding such a clue to a real life crime during an apparently routine colonoscopy, well, that's where Seung-hoon's troubles begin...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Part-Time Spy"

2017/04/01 | | Permalink

Yeong-sil (played by Kang Ye-won) is a loser. She's in her mid-thirties yet has spent almost her entire adult life working weird part-time jobs in the desperate hope of being called up for a real interview for a full-time position one of these days. And once Yeong-sil finally manages to get oh-so-perilously close to success...she's forced to work overtime to take down a voice phishing scam, when this is obviously not in her job description. On the flip side, Jeong-an (played by Han Chae-ah) is a cop- and taking down voice phishing scams is in her job description...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Ordinary Person"

2017/04/01 | | Permalink

The time is 1987. Seong-jin (played by Son Hyun-joo) is an ordinary police officer who gets tapped by Gyoo-nam (played by Jang Hyeok), a high-ranking member of South Korea's police state hierarchy, to investigate a serial murder case. Well, "investigate" is kind of a strong word. Gyoo-nam already knows who he wants to blame for the killings, and Seong-jin is involved mainly to avoid raising suspicion that the whole thing is frame-up job intended for political purposes...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 20

2017/03/30 | | Permalink

It occurred to me near the episode that, in addition to her reputation as an artist, Saimdang is also well-known for embodying Confucian standards of feminity. Which is to say, she was a dutiful wife and an attentive mother. In their increasingly bizarre effort to make Saimdang seem heroic for doings things the real Saimdang almost certainly did not do, the production team behind "Saimdang: Light's Diary" has managed to achieve negative knowledge. A person who doesn't know any better will come away from this drama knowing less about Saimdang than when they started...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 19

2017/03/29 | | Permalink

Apparently the production team has realized that they've made Won-soo too sympathetic, ruining what little chemistry Saimdang and Lee Gyum have. So naturally, "Saimdang: Light's Diary" fixes this by...having Won-soo start an affair with a daft idiot. You know, the real-life Won-soo knew he was marrying an unusually intelligent and well-educated woman. Given the standards of the time this could potentially make Won-soo an interesting character in his own right. Instead he's just a sitcom buffoon...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 7

2017/03/29 | | Permalink

Romance and mystery develop more fully this episode, but the development is disjointed. Characters grow in awkward spurts while revelations are made jarringly. The highlight of this choppy episode was Park Hyung-sik as a heartbroken Min-hyeok.

We see the strength of his acting when he realizes he has been betrayed by his favorite brother...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 18

2017/03/28 | | Permalink

So apparently...Moley was Gil-dong's true rival this entire time? That's the main revelation which surprised me here. It does admittedly explain things like why Moley's outfit is just a black version of what Gil-dong is always wearing, and Gil-dong does need someone to stand up to him the feats of strength department. All the same, Moley was just a random side character who really didn't seem all that important. Until this episode I don't think I noticed he even had a backstory...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 2

2017/03/28 | | Permalink

Our heroine has no time to lose in involving the man who doomed her father. Dong-joon finds himself forced to help her look for the killer through his new masters. Episode two of "Whisper" throws us right into the dirty world of Taebaek and its top lawyers, who all seem knee deep in its criminal activities. With Yeong-joo's father feeling ill and time running short, our protagonist takes desperate measures...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 11-12

2017/03/27 | | Permalink

After a couple of fairly strong episodes last week about lost dreams and obsessing over the teenage daughter's boyfriend, "Strong Family" is on weaker footing here with a storyline about annoying relatives refusing to leave the house because they're too busy gambling and annoying interns not knowing when to be quiet and stop pestering the regular employees. Or I don't know, maybe it's just me that thinks this is weaker ground, since I've never had to deal with those specific problems personally...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 17

2017/03/27 | | Permalink

For a brief moment Ga-ryeong shows herself to be smarter than she looks when it comes to questions of imminent personal danger. Alas, right when Ga-ryeong is starting to seem important and interesting "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" decides not to give her any screen time, instead focusing on various points of back story that we know which the actual characters are as of yet still mostly ignorant. Also Gil-dong appears to be trying to gaslight King Yeonsangun...More

[HanCinema's Concert Review] SHINee World V in Dallas

2017/03/27 | | Permalink

After two tantalizing fanmeets in 2016 and a few short appearances at North American KCons and festivals, SHINee has finally brought full-length concerts to North America! The U.S. saw two concerts this past weekend, one in Grand Prairie, Texas on Friday May 24, and the other in L.A. on Sunday May 26.

HanCinema attended the Dallas concert where fans queued up late morning to collect merchandise, many dressed in their SHINee best. ...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Whisper" Episode 1

2017/03/27 | | Permalink

Episode one throws us ruthlessly into the dark world of "Whisper" and shoves all the things to be expected from such stories right into our collective faces. There are victims, evil perpetrators and corrupt officials who create more victims, including their own conscience. At the same time, the drama's eagerness to cut right to the chase leaves me with little to no time for connecting to the characters at the moment...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.03.24 - 2017.03.26

2017/03/27 | | Permalink

A flood of new entries fail to subdue "Beauty and the Beast"...

Despite the flood of new entries, foreign and domestic, Disney's musical fantasy "Beauty and the Beast" narrowly retained pole position by capturing 40.98% of the sales. With the million admissions the film scored over the weekend, Bill Condon's remake now moves its total tally in Korea to 3.1 million, or $23.1 million; "Beauty and the Beast" is only 500,000 short of becoming the third highest-grossing film in Korea this year...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 2

2017/03/27 | | Permalink

The time travel element is introduced in episode two of "Tunnel - Drama" and it comes with some unnerving albeit helpful manifestations for our stranded detective. Gwang-ho deals with the shock of his current situation while at the same time trying to fit in and keep up. We get a new main character who is shrouded in mystery, but familiar people and faces from the past are also complicating the mystery and Gwang-ho's confusion...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tunnel - Drama" Episode 1

2017/03/26 | | Permalink

"Tunnel - Drama" wastes no time and throws our kind detective, Park Gwang-ho, right into the deep end. A series of murders take place in the otherwise peaceful area of Hwayang and while no one in the force can even fathom the possibility of a serial killer, our hero starts to pick up on the similarities as more and more women die at the hands of the elusive murderer no one can close in on...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Whisper"

2017/03/25 | | Permalink

The critically acclaimed and much beloved PD and writer duo of "Punch - Drama" is back for more twisted goodness in the legal thriller "Whisper". A straightforward story of revenge and justice on paper, "Whisper" sounds much more interesting when we look at the names attached.


Detective Sin Yeong-joo (Lee Bo-young) wants revenge against the people who wronged her father. She enters a troubled partnership with judge Lee  Dong-joon (Lee Sang-yoon), the man who convicted her father for murder. The pair seeks out the truth and becomes romantically involved in the process...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Solomon's Perjury"

2017/03/25 | | Permalink

"Solomon's Perjury" is an odd work. Deviating from the more popular crime genre, the series is essentially a mock-courtroom drama. It also features a main cast of characters who are predominantly in their teens, bringing their stories out of cutesy youth dramas or adult characters' flashbacks and into a more contemplative one about growth, challenges, morality and personal responsibility on the cusp of adulthood...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Artist: Reborn"

2017/03/25 | | Permalink

In-sook (played by Ryu Hyun-kyung) is an artist in her thirties who has returned to South Korea after a long stint in Denmark as "Gisele", a personality enamored with abstract compositions and also acting generally antisocial and unpleasant. No really, Gisele has this fantastic talent for sabotaging herself at every turn. First it's getting drunk and antagonizing the renowned art critic Joong-sik (played by Lee Soon-jae). Then it's getting drunk and belittling art dealer Jae-beom (played by Park Jung-min). You can perhaps see the pattern behind Gisele's failures in life...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Behead the King"

2017/03/25 | | Permalink

Normally when I write that a movie or drama makes a mockery of history I mean that it does so by portraying events in an exceptionally stupid and implausible way. "Behead the King" mocks history rather differently- most of the story is quite plausible, it's just shockingly crude. Say, a teenage king laughing at farts. Or common people engaging in a professional wrestling style farce. Or nobles passing morality laws while they themselves engage in lewd and indecent sexual acts...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Trumpet On The Cliff"

2017/03/25 | | Permalink

Aoi (played by Nanami Sakuraba) is a young Japanese student suffering from a heart condition. Even so, Aoi's mother Michuko (played by Otsuka Nene) encourages the girl to just make a point of enjoying herself on beautiful Okinawa. It isn't long before Aoi meets Ji-oh (played by L.Joe) a mysterious local boy who makes a point of coming out every once in awhile to play beautiful trumpet music to the ocean. Together, they enjoy themselves...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 18

2017/03/23 | | Permalink

Initially I was wondering whether I had somehow missed an episode of "Saimdang: Light's Diary". The last thing we saw was the grand art heist, and the recap reminds us about the big fire so...why are we starting out with Internet searches, familial awkwardness and comic relief about clothes? Then we get back to the art heist and it really doesn't help the drama's credibility when even the police officer in-story thinks it sounds improbable...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Three Color Fantasy - Queen of the Ring" Episodes 5-6

2017/03/23 | | Permalink

Now that the magical powers of the ring have been exposed, Nan-hee can not in good conscience use it anymore. Even so, she rather inevitably has to give it a final go if only to give Se-geon the special present she ordered, and then just do her best to drop out of Se-geon's life for good. Predictably this does not go as planned, and the fifth episode closes out rather ominously with a major confrontation between the four main characters over what, in truth, attractiveness really is...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 17

2017/03/22 | | Permalink

Director Yoon Sang-ho can throw all the pretty lighting and musical cues at Lee Gyum and Saimdang as he wants. But at the end of the day, a single look of genuine meaningful concern from Won-soo about Saimdang's safety has a lot more impact than anything Lee Gyum has done over the entire course of the drama. I really like Yoon Da-hoon. He's pretty much the only actor in "Saimdang: Light's Diary" who consistently comes off as believable and sympathetic, although it does help that his character is written somewhat realistically...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 15

2017/03/21 | | Permalink

The final showdown is upon us. Tae-goo's thirst for sadism wins over reason and his father's begging. Unleashed, Tae-goo is terrifying in the fact that he is unhinged and uncontrollable. Kwon-joo and Jin-hyeok endeavor to shut him down for good, but his network is powerful.

Tae-goo, however, often works outside his network, giving Jin-hyeok and Kwon-joo a huge mess to clean up....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 16

2017/03/21 | | Permalink

I realized this episode, with some trepidation, that far from having a clear goal in mind Gil-dong's entire operation is little more than an organized crime outfit. Granted, they tend to go after people who probably deserve it. Even so, beating up people on the street who are rude little jerks seems a bit beneath the lofty visions of "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" and indeed, if we take the position that might makes right that uh, kind of validates the entire unjust system Gil-dong is supposed to be fighting against...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 14

2017/03/21 | | Permalink

It is a game of cat and mouse. Kwon-joo and Jin-hyeok have cottoned onto Tae-goo's identity and the source of his power and insanity. Kim Jae-wook carries the episode on his very capable shoulders as he shoes that Tae-goo is a very terrifyingly unhinged man. Unfortunately, he has the power, money, and intelligence to mask his evil deeds from society....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Radiant Office" Episode 2

2017/03/21 | | Permalink

"Radiant Office" is shaping up to be an office drama with a touch of chaebol, medical, and fantasy thrown into the mix. While the tone was peculiar, it wasn't unpleasant. The chemistry of the three contract workers, Ho-won, Gi-taek, and Kang-ho, is absolutely delightful. They start to navigate the murky waters of the hierarchical Korean workplace and find many similarities to the real world....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 15

2017/03/20 | | Permalink

Ja-won (played by Park Soo-yeong) is a sinister minister who for mysterious reasons gave Gil-dong a massive burn mark while the younger man was staying at Nok-soo's place. There are clear implications that Ja-won knows Gil-dong is far smarter and more dangerous than he lets on. Yet for all his apparent importance, I have not discussed Ja-won up until now because like so many characters in "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People", Ja-won never seems to do anything with his superior story knowledge...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 9-10

2017/03/20 | | Permalink

One factor of "Strong Family" that I rather like is the way it takes on people's imaginations. See, we are limited by personal experience. So when Ra-yeon runs across an old friend by chance, she starts thinking about bygone dreams from past years. Such dreams are inevitably painted in a fairly fantastical light. We're inclined to think of acting in terms of the polished final product we see on screen, not the rather monotonous and perfection focused process that goes into it...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.03.17 - 2017.03.19

2017/03/20 | | Permalink

A trio of foreign beasts capture the podium...

A new beast arrived in Korea last Thursday and dislodged "Kong" at the top of the chart. With 66.86% of the box office pie, Bill Condon's musical drama "Beauty and the Beast" (Emma Watson, Dan Stevens) dominated proceedings by capturing 1.4 million admissions ($10.5 million). The film, a remake of Disney's 1991 live-action classic, after having also been recently released in America, has already banked $350 million worldwide (the film was produced for an estimated $160 million)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 12

2017/03/19 | | Permalink

"Voice" is barreling forward, showing Tae-goo in all of his wicked glory as Kwon-joo and Jin-hyeok desperately try to identify him and bring him to justice. Unfortunately, the dregs of society continue to do evil and call their attentions away from the central conceit. If you're a bit squeamish, there are a few parts in this episode you may need to skim - I know I did.

First, Mozart's Lacrymosa returned after Tae-goo made his next big move....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 11

2017/03/19 | | Permalink

The murderer has been pinpointed, but he is far from being apprehended. He has Jin-hyeok and Kwon-joo in his sights and regards them with twisted fascination. Two steps behind, the Golden Time team struggles to keep up with the trail of blood and body parts he leaves behind. Kwon-joo's gift is proving useful, but will it be enough to catch this psycho with a self-declared mandate from the heavens?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 13

2017/03/19 | | Permalink

"Voice" has found its heart. We finally peer into the inner workings of Kwon-joo and Jin-hyeok as well as our bad guy, Tae-goo. A lot of back story and emotional underpinnings came to light and I have to say, "It's about time". After all of the excitement of the cases and running around, having some emotional weight added is much needed.

Tae-goo benefits from Kim Jae-wook's spot on portrayal of his insanity...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Tunnel - Drama"

2017/03/18 | | Permalink

Dramaland has been meticulously churning out time travel and crime dramas lately so "Tunnel - Drama" is nothing revolutionary. At the same time, the idea of a detective from the past dealing with modern society after being time-thrown into it might just give this one a little fresh edge.


Detective Park Gwang-ho (Choi Jin-hyuk) travels thirty years into the future while in pursuit of a serial killer. In the present, he will have to work with detective Kim  Seon-jae (Yoon Hyun-min) and criminal psychologist Sin  Jae-i (Lee Yoo-young) in order to reach his goal...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Single Rider"

2017/03/18 | | Permalink

Jae-hoon (played by Lee Byung-hun) is a fund manager currently living in South Korea having sent his wife Soo-jin (played by Gong Hyo-jin) off to Australia a year prior. A bad situation leaves Jae-hoon deciding to cross over the ocean himself to see what exactly Soo-jin has been up to, although for various reasons Jae-hoon is reluctant to try and approach her directly. He actually ends up talking more to Jin-ah (played by Ahn So-hee), a young traveler who like Jae-hoon has met a similar unwelcome fate...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Coffee Mates"

2017/03/18 | | Permalink

In the present day, In-yeong (played by Yoon Jin-seo) and Yoon-jo (played by Kim Min-seo) catch up on life over coffee. As it turns out, the main immediate event of relevance for In-yeong has been her meetings with Hee-soo (played by Oh Ji-ho), who she has only ever met at the coffee shop. To avoid inspiring the wrath of In-yeong's husband Won-yeong (played by Lee Seon-ho), In-yeong and Hee-soo have agreed to only ever be "Coffee Mates", even as they drift further and further into an obvious emotional affair...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Stray Goat"

2017/03/18 | | Permalink

Min-sik (played by Jinyoung) is a teenager from a religious family that has recently relocated their ministry from the southeastern quarter of South Korea to Suwon. As an outsider, and not as religious a one as his parents, Min-sik soon falls in with the wrong crowd. Mutually, they all torment Ye-joo (played by Ji Woo), another outsider who, thanks to certain rumors, is unable to find any succor from her classmates...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 10

2017/03/17 | | Permalink

The editing in "Voice" is just plain bizarre. I know I should be focused on the thrill and the chase, but the editing keeps jerking me out of the mood. Flashbacks occur in a strange, cyclical fashion that is more confusing than helpful or mood-inducing. Luckily, we have a powerhouse cast to guide us along even when the production can't....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Radiant Office" Episode 1

2017/03/17 | | Permalink

"Radiant Office" starts out heavily with the heroine and her new friends wanting to end their miserable lives of poverty and trying to succeed in an extremely competitive job market. Throw a terminal medical issue into the mix and we have some very, very sad young people. Much of the episode was introducing characters who ended up in tears. Despite the sadness, there was still some levity and some insight into the characters and the future workplace dynamic.

Go Ah-seon is always a pleasure to watch onscreen and the same holds true for her portrayal of Eun Ho-won....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 16

2017/03/16 | | Permalink

While the last episode closed with Ji-yoon promising sweet, sweet revenge against Jeong-hak for all the suffering he's put her though, the framing device this episode is pretty subdued. That's a bit of an odd way to put it, considering the highlight is a nun rocking out with her guitar but no, really, all that happens is that Ji-yoon and friends manage to smuggle the art out of the nightclub without Jeong-hak getting a clear idea of what exactly it is they're doing. I don't know either, really, but whatever, that part was cute at least...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Three Color Fantasy - Queen of the Ring" Episodes 3-4

2017/03/16 | | Permalink

Mi-joo (played by Yoon So-hee) is Nan-hee's old friend, who is conventionally attractive without the help of a magic ring. Mi-joo is, somewhat counter-intuitively, actually the most interesting part of "Three Color Fantasy - Queen of the Ring" because she comes off as weirdly insecure. There are good backstory reasons for this, but beyond that, it's mostly just kind of odd to watch Mi-joo clearly need her looks for validation. It makes Nan-hee visibly uncomfortable...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 9

2017/03/15 | | Permalink

Just past the midway mark and we finally get some insight into Hyeon-ho. Unfortunately that insight comes as a contrived threat. So far each cop on our Golden Time team has had such a threat. But we'll run with it and watch Yesung star in an episode...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 6

2017/03/15 | | Permalink

Our heroine now has the most important thing she could ever need: someone who believes in her. Min-hyeok, despite her dazzling, fearful displays of strength, sees her for who she is and believes in what she can do with her superpowers. Mixed with that is, of course, a goodly amount of bickering, moony eyes, and adorable puppy dog sound effects....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 15

2017/03/15 | | Permalink

As Saimdang sets off on her quest to find a plot device, Lee Gyum finds himself in the thick of the conspiracy. King Jungjong's family history is discussed in greater detail. Then the enforcers of the conspiracy catch up with Saimdang and they are only saved by the chance intervention of some guy who apparently has a past relationship with the street urchins. Then we're treated to a group of other tangentially related characters fussing about clothes in a lighthearted way...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 5

2017/03/14 | | Permalink

Although rather frivolous despite the subject matter, "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" does have a lot of heart. Park Bo-young is always a strong female lead and I like that her character juxtaposes her stature and femininity with her strength and desire to do right by her people....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 14

2017/03/14 | | Permalink

For most of the early portion of this episode I thought Amogae's unusual moments of lucidity were a signal that maybe he was ready to rejoin the main story. Alas, it turns out what's actually happening is that Amogae is being given a tragically fitting eulogy. The overall positive tone when it comes to Amogae's past accomplishments and relationships is a bit out of step considering how by the end Amogae's three children are as estranged as ever...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 13

2017/03/13 | | Permalink

King Yeonsangun, now firmly convinced as to the existence of anti-royalist conspiracy, is now summoning political enemies. Of course the joke's on him- King Yeonsangun's real political enemies are the ones using bizarre gossip to detract attention from their own power plays. If it's any comfort I'm skeptical any of these people are going to survive the drama's entire runtime. Given King Yeonsangun's reputation as a general crazy person it seems rather inevitable that his paranoia will spin completely out of control...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 7-8

2017/03/13 | | Permalink

I've been coming to accept that "Strong Family" is rather hopelessly mundane. It's just a story about an idiot dad who's always trying to desperately to be cool and failing, in various degrees. But it's because Cheon-il is always making that effort that he's an easy guy to root for. It's also still reasonably amusing how Cheon-il does occassionally manage to solve problems by accident, or says stuff so stupid that it wraps all the way around to being funny again...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.03.10 ~ 2017.03.12

2017/03/13 | | Permalink

"Kong" and "Logan" battle it out at the top...

Jordan Vogt-Roberts's reboot of the iconic King Kong character in "Kong: Skull Island" (Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman and John Goodman) arrived last Wednesday and climbed to the top of the chart with 49.14% of the box office pie. (Interestingly, one of the films that Vogt-Roberts said influenced him was Bong Joon-ho's "The Host".) From 984 screens, "Kong" attracted 823,219 admissions ($6.1 million) during its first weekend out in Korea. Worldwide, "King" has already recouped an estimated $142.6 million of the $185 million it took to produce; the film was released in the US last Friday...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 8

2017/03/12 | | Permalink

Episode 8 was the first episode that was truly engaging. Perhaps it was the entrance of actor Kim Jae-wook or the fact that the core mystery is bubbling to the surface. In any case, "Voice" seems to have finally found its voice. It's about time....More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Lucid Dream"

2017/03/11 | | Permalink

Dae-ho (played by Ko Soo) is a reporter with legal troubles who struggles to make time for family. Then, one day at the amusement park, Dae-ho loses something very precious to him and is haunted by nightmares, slowly being driven mad. That is, until he learns about neurology researcher So-hyeon (played by Kang Hye-jeong), who is working to unlock the power of the "Lucid Dream" to reconstruct in fuller detail the mysteries of the subconscious...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Recording"

2017/03/11 | | Permalink

In the first few scenes of "Recording", Yeon-hee (played by Kim Hye-yeon-I) introduces the basics of the premise. Some very stupid puns are made about Yeon-hee's aspirations in life, and also about the name of her boyfriend Min-cheol (played by Choi Hyun-woo-I). Then we meet the third wheel of their relationship, Min-cheol's best friend and aspiring film director Woo-seok (played by Seo Jin-won-III), who has questionable taste in t-shirts. Then, finally the premise hits you. Yeon-hee is dying and "Recording" is the last commemoration of her life...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Miraculous"

2017/03/11 | | Permalink

Marinette (voiced by Yeo Min-jeong-I) is an unorganized, generally clumsy multiracial high school student living in Paris who can transform into a superhero called Ladybug. Along with her more suave, handsome, and wealthy classmate Adrien (voiced by Nam Do-hyeong), who transforms into a superhero called Cat Noir, they fight supervillains created by Hawk Moth (voiced by Hong Si-ho). The overall purpose of these battles is kind of vague, as befits the Super Sentai format, although it does help that the villains are just normal people Marinette and Adrien meet who enter into contracts with Hawk Moth upon having a very bad day...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 16 Final

2017/03/10 | | Permalink

The end is here for the survivors of a terrible crash. I am not referring to the plane one, but the crashing and burning of the plot for "Missing 9". The trial for Joon-oh takes place and Tae-ho becomes desperate as everyone groups against him. We all know what he does when he is desperate and perhaps this mirrors the creators' murder of their work during this slow burn towards the finish line...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 14

2017/03/09 | | Permalink

One of the factors that really accentuates the sheer badness of "Saimdang: Light's Diary" is that every so often, there is that actually genuinely good emotional scene that makes you wish the whole drama could be like that. Here, that scene is Saimdang's calm, sad, and poignant letter to her husband, asking him to take responsibility for the children while she goes off to deal with an important task. It reads like the kind of thing the real Saimdang might have written, as part of a very mature adult relationship with her spouse...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Three Color Fantasy - Queen of the Ring" Episodes 1-2

2017/03/09 | | Permalink

Nan-hee (played by Kim Seul-gi-I) is a college student with a problem. She's unattractive. By which I mean, she is not a tall model, which is a kind of arbitrary standard. Nan-hee has a great personality after all. No really, she's quite feisty and driven to succeed. It's just, her only apparent goal at the moment is to be conventionally attractive. But as it happens, Nan-hee's mother Je-hwa (played by Hwang Jung-min-I) is in possession of a magical ring that can enchant a single man into thinking she's the most beautiful woman in the world...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 15

2017/03/08 | | Permalink

There is no rest for the wicked and also the non-wicked, especially when there are two episodes to fill. It is time for the new villains we have already seen working their way into the story to take their place. Bong-hee and Joon-oh also meet the first big snag in their relationship when one decides to engage in the much loathed noble idiocy. Well, you lasted fourteen episodes, writer...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 13

2017/03/08 | | Permalink

Well the preview was a lie- for the fifth straight episode there's no framing device or context for "Saimdang: Light's Diary", although the story arcs are rather neatly bisected into two distinct portions. First, Lee Gyum goes on an expedition with King Jungjong which is allegedly about exotic artwork but practically seems to be more about Dick Cheney inspired hunting expeditions. Second, Saimdang is drawn into a tussle at the Joseon Parent Teacher Association because her son got into a fight...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 12

2017/03/07 | | Permalink

The focus is on King Yeonsangun here, as he gets embroiled with an exceptionally pedantic dispute regarding rules interpretation with his ministers. I have to admit that at minimum, this is a rather more innovative approach than just making King Yeonsangun a straight-up villain. We're watching King Yeongsangun burn himself out on technicalities, to the point that by the end it's not clear he or anyone else remembers the policy disagreement that prompted this legal battle in the first place...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 7

2017/03/07 | | Permalink

Everything in "Voice" seems to be interconnected. Cops are kidnapped regularly. One crime network seems to have power over every case Kwon-joo and Jin-hyeok touch. It's a little far-fetched, but we're gonna roll with it. The team is working together although individual talents aside from Kwon-joo's haven't really been showcased yet.

I was hoping we'd immediately see Kwon-joo tapping into her team for more than regular research, especially when Jin-hyeok is taken...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 6

2017/03/07 | | Permalink

And the team is set. We have all of the players that Kwon-joo initially requested and they're all supportive of the cause. More important than this is that Jin-hyeok is devoted to the caused, convinced by their most recent cases that Kwon-joo's hearing is the real deal. The pair is developing a rhythm together that will be important to discovering the truth behind their mutual tragedies....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 11

2017/03/06 | | Permalink

Well first of all I've just about completely given up trying to figure what we're supposed to be calling Nok-soo / Royal Consort Gong-hwa at any given moment, since apparently we weren't supposed to be calling her Nok-soo either. I'm trying to remember if anyone has ever actually called her by her original name or if it's always been generic terms of address. See, this is why I lean on promotional materials more than I probably should. Even official news articles are more likely to just refer to the character as Lee Honey...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 3

2017/03/06 | | Permalink

"Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" is a crazy mix of silly, danger, romance, and the unbelievable. Since Bong-soon fought the gangsters, her strength has been difficult to control. Combine that with her new job for Min-hyeok, Gook-doo's out-of-control worry, and an incongruent but very dangerous kidnapper/murderer on the loose, this show has gotten pretty exciting very quickly....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 5-6

2017/03/06 | | Permalink

Baek-il (played by Bae Yoo-ram) is Cheon-il's brother, who around the house wears a matching, and equally ridiculous looking blue tracksuit to match Cheon-il's red one. Don't get too used to him though. Baek-il is an obvious temporary guest star, there to remind us about the importance of having dreams, even unambitious ones, in your early thirties. Which does thematically tie into the overall idea of "Strong Family", which is that you can extraordinary simply by being extremely ordinary...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 4

2017/03/06 | | Permalink

As we get to know our main characters better and the kidnapper snags another unfortunate woman. Bong-soon is definitely having to re-examine her super powers and her personality under this new employment, but she is not yet seriously involved with self-reflection. Min-hyeok, on the other hand, seems to take things lightly, but there is a dark side to his experiences that make him a weighty character.

Min-hyeok is the meatiest character thus far with a backstory we can sympathize with and an adorable crush on the very unusual Bong-soon...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.03.03 - 2017.03.05

2017/03/06 | | Permalink

New arrivals "Logan" and "Bluebeard" capture 64% of the sales...

The tenth instalment in the "X-Men" film series, James Mangold's "Logan" (Hugh Jackman), dislodged last weekend's number one, Split, by capturing 632,997 admissions (38.55%). Marvel's latest had its premiere back in February at the Berlin International Film Festival and recently arrived in Korea to 954 screens around the country. Critics have praised the film for its acting and general handling of perhaps the series's most beloved superhero, Wolverine, and it's already surpassed its production costs of $97 million; currently, the film has grossed $104.7 million worldwide...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 14

2017/03/04 | | Permalink

Episode fourteen of "Missing 9" is a struggle in both the story and in the meta sense. Our heroes have little to do aside from getting the pivotal recording noticed and of course the method chosen makes little sense, but generates more drama than simply going to the police. At this point we are just waiting for the end and we can only watch as the creators drag the plot out...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Moon Young"

2017/03/04 | | Permalink

Moon-young (played by Kim Tae-ri, the underappreciated actual female lead in "The Handmaiden") is a taciturn student who compulsively records nearly every moment she spends outdoors. Why Moon-young acts in such a peculiar manner is the main mystery of "Moon Young", although the minimalist nature of the production is such that the answers offered are, by design, unimpressive. The film closes out with a surprise encounter on the subway that is, more than anything else, rather ominous...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Bitch on the Beach"

2017/03/04 | | Permalink

Ga-yeong (played by Jeong Ka-young, who is also the director) is a quirky film-obsessed girl who tries to win back her ex-boyfriend Jeong-hoon (played by Kim-Choi Yong-joon) by spending extended periods of time alternating between complicated stories about nothing and offering herself up for sex. Incidentally, no actually goes to the beach in "Bitch On the Beach". The entire black-and-white film plays out in a moderately impressive apartment save for one brief scene which exists for a single purpose. To establish that to anyone without Jeong-hoon's nostalgia-tinted glasses, Ga-yeong is really quite annoying...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Le Tour: My Last 49 Days"

2017/03/04 | | Permalink

Way back in 2006, Yun-hyeok was a man in his early twenties who was diagnosed with cancer. Considering Yun-hyeok's slavish devotion to physical fitness the diagnosis seemed an especially cruel joke played on him by the universe. Through time and tide, Yun-hyeok has to decide what to do with his apparently limited time in life. He ends up deciding to achieve his lifelong dream by whatever means necessary, and competes in the 2009 Tour de France. "Le Tour: My Last 49 Days" is a documentary of footage shot by friends who went with Yun-hyeok on his final journey...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Three Color Fantasy - Vivid Romance" Episodes 5-6

2017/03/02 | | Permalink

The two main conflicts are resolved one after another in the final two episodes of "Three Color Fantasy - Vivid Romance" starting with the most important one- the relationship between In-seong and So-ra. Much as we've had time to reflect on who In-seong and So-ra are as people and how they relate to one another, so too have In-seong and So-ra realized that they really miss each other. It's only realizing the inadequacy of their substitutes that In-seong and So-ra can truly appreciate this...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 12

2017/03/02 | | Permalink

Lee Gyum's investigation into the drama's backstory continues. It's a little impressive, after a certain point, how everything about this conspiracy keeps leading back to Saimdang somehow. Meanwhile, Saimdang herself is just left pondering the next steps of her colored paper empire while Lee Gyum charges forward heedlessly, ignorant of the danger to himself or his horses, to inform Saimdang that their initial separation was the result of malicious forces rather than a random quirk of fate. Swordfights are involved...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 11

2017/03/01 | | Permalink

Incredible though this must sound apparently the saga of the colored paper manufacturing scheme still isn't done yet. In fact, it's actually the foundation for an international political conspiracy that ties into every ridiculous plot point "Saimdang: Light's Diary" has come up with so far. Yes, that's right, all the fires, the fight scenes, the frivolous arrests, Headmistress Choi's petty grudge against Saimdang, even Headmistress Choi's title all tie into this conspiracy somehow...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 13

2017/03/01 | | Permalink

Never has a phone felt so important outside the context of aggressive product placement. Episode thirteen of "Missing 9" is all about the chase for this piece of mobile evidence. Tae-ho is starting to feel excluded by Do-pal and this only makes him more determined to get the device first. Our heroic duo stealth their way around the increasingly dangerous situation. When the phone contents are finally revealed, someone gets a nasty surprise...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 10

2017/02/28 | | Permalink

Recent victories notwithstanding Gil-dong and Amogae remain fairly well depressed by the apparent destruction of their entire family. The brief moments where we're reminded that they're having trouble moving on from the pain work a lot better than the full on episodes dedicated to this topic. It's really just a matter of the full facts finally sinking in. Amogae is completely broken down. With his wife, Amogae could at least console himself with the survival of their children. Now he barely even has that...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 3-4

2017/02/27 | | Permalink

The direction in "Strong Family" is fairly unusual for a situation comedy. Observe how the camerawork is always in close quarters. We're always getting a clear look a the expressions of the various characters, yet never a clear overall glance of the rooms that they're in. The lack of emphasis on set design is odd considering the production team keeps reminding us that there's a fourth wall- by having characters talk directly at us...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 9

2017/02/27 | | Permalink

At long last "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" has dispensed with the tragic backstory and gotten back to what made this drama interesting in the first place- the prospect of elaborate schemes. Now that Gil-dong finally has a good idea of what he wants to, the first step is to use his mighty strength to gain the full respect and command of Amogae's various friends. Then it's a matter of finding the right pressure points on those in power, and striking...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.02.24 ~ 2017.02.26

2017/02/27 | | Permalink

M. Night Shyamalan's Split breaks local films' reign...

For the first time this year since "Your Name", a foreign film has stepped up and claimed pole position in Korea's box office. Local delights have been dominating since mid-January ("Confidential Assignment", "The King", and "Fabricated City"), but M. Night Shyamalan's new film, Split (starring James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy and Betty Buckley), arrived last Wednesday and came out on top during its first weekend out...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 2

2017/02/26 | | Permalink

"Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" hurries past the introductory material and jumps straight into the dark deeds that throw the three main leads together. Min-hyeok is elucidated and is much more than his materialistic exterior. The same is true for Gook-doo who isn't all steely work ethic. We will certainly learn more as the violent murder mystery unfolds....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" Episode 1

2017/02/26 | | Permalink

"Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" is off to an adorable start. Chemistry between Hyung-sik as Ahn Min-hyeok and Park Bo-young as the titular Do Bong-soon is strong even if the story outline is pretty commonplace. The look of the drama is like a shoujo manga come to life complete with adorable female lead with a superpower, a smiling chaebol, and a brooding cop (In Gook-doo played by Ji Soo.)...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Fabricated City"

2017/02/25 | | Permalink

Watching "Fabricated City" is like watching a "Hackers" and "The Fast and The Furious" mash up studded with the biggest names in Korean entertainment. Director Park Kwang-hyeon ("Welcome to Dongmakgol", "No Comment") and his team create a world that mimics an fast-paced game, geared towards action and adventure more than depicting reality. Headlining this tale is Ji Chang-wook of "The K2" and "Healer". Ji is known for his work in action-packed dramas and that experience serves him well as Kwon Yoo, a genius gamer, a taekwondo master, and a man falsely accused of a grotesque murder...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "New Trial"

2017/02/25 | | Permalink

Back in the year 2000, Hyeon-woo (played by Kang Ha-neul) was once a normal idiot kid who rode his motorcycle in an unsafe fashion. One accident later, Hyeon-woo is called to account for evidence found during a questionable search. In the modern day, Joon-yeong (played by Jung Woo) is an attorney who has the bad habit of making enemies pretty much everywhere he goes. Joon-yeong gets the chance to be constructive when he's handed Hyeon-woo's case...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Seven Years-Journalism without Journalist"

2017/02/25 | | Permalink

In 2008, shortly following the election of Lee Myung-bak, the new President appointed a new head for the MBC television network, which is a publically owned broadcast corporation. Actions by various persons connected to Lee Myung-bak soon started a marked shift in MBC's editorial tone- one that was decidedly less critical of government actions and scandals in general. Through time and tide, journalists became more critical of these actions, eventually culminating in a general strike. "Seven Years-Journalism without Journalist" uses on-site footage of these protests over the years to explain these events...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Miracle on Jongno Street"

2017/02/25 | | Permalink

One factor about gay media in South Korea that reather fascinates me is how homosexuality never seems to be that big an issue. I mean, obviously the gay people themselves are aware of the larger stigmas, but this is always secondary to the work they produce which is a celebration of people rather than gayness. So it is with "Miracle on Jongno Street", a documentary which goes over four different gay lives who are united in their sense of overall community...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 12

2017/02/23 | | Permalink

Whatever grievances I may have with "Missing 9", I have to say that the creators are good with swiftly addressing some. The comedy in episode twelve works and the excitement is back. Most importantly, so is Tae-ho's place as the main villain and just in time for a reunion he wishes never happened. Everyone is frantically chasing after the phone, which creates entertaining urgency...More

[Hancinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 10

2017/02/23 | | Permalink

The entirity of the plot this episode rests on a scam designed by Headmistress Choi to humiliate Saimdang. But the plucky Saimdang, to her credit, is able to enlist the help of a large gang of pathetic street bums to complete the supposedly impossible task. It also helps that Lee Gyum, bless his heart, is able to secretly help Saimdang in the night, like those little elves in fairy tales that help good-hearted souls through the difficult privations of life...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 20 (final)

2017/02/23 | | Permalink

We got Our Happy Ending. King Jinheung ascends the throne with the support of his hwarang and, more importantly, his friend and fellow visionary, Seon-woo. While this was intensely satisfying, the perfectly sculpted endings for the other characters and relationships were less satisfying. Let's take a look at the end of "Hwarang".

Ji-dwi, now Jinheung, had come head-to-head with the man who was both his greatest rival and is his greatest friend, Seon-woo...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Three Color Fantasy - Vivid Romance" Episodes 3-4

2017/02/23 | | Permalink

If the first two episodes were somewhat vague on the genre territory of "Three Color Fantasy - Vivid Romance", the third and fourth ones do a much clearer job of setting up that the drama is, indeed, like the title implies, a romance. Learning about events have unfolded from So-ra's perspective is the main elucidating storyline event there. In short, she acted impulsively, and her actions were not a reflection on any kind of failure on In-seong's part...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 19

2017/02/23 | | Permalink

Swords are drawn and the battles between friend and foe for the throne have reached their climax. Ji-dwi sits on the throne that has always eluded him and continues to try and do so now that his identity has been made known. Seon-woo learns of his lineage and it puts him further at odds with his closest friend, the king. Around them power struggles play out with many greedy men and women behind them.

Although people struggle for the throne and the power it brings, the most powerful battles are waged inside...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 19

2017/02/23 | | Permalink

Swords are drawn and the battles between friend and foe for the throne have reached their climax. Ji-dwi sits on the throne that has always eluded him and continues to try and do so now that his identity has been made known. Seon-woo learns of his lineage and it puts him further at odds with his closest friend, the king. Around them power struggles play out with many greedy men and women behind them.

Although people struggle for the throne and the power it brings, the most powerful battles are waged inside...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 11

2017/02/22 | | Permalink

Joon-oh is back, but the road to justice in "Missing 9" is long and treacherous. Before getting to work on it, our newfound hero needs to get back home through "less than legal" means. Hilarity ensues and true to the nature of this drama's comedy, some of it is appropriate and some of it is not. Meanwhile new evidence against our second villain pop up and the chase for it begins...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 9

2017/02/22 | | Permalink

At this point "Saimdang: Light's Diary" has clearly decided that it wants to be a drama about Saimdang trying to find the best way to usher her son into eventual success. In any other drama this would at best be a third tier plot, so director Yoon Sang-ho livens up the proceedings by playing epic organ music while Saimdang's archnemesis Headmistress Choi tortures people. And no, this doesn't look any less goofy in execution than it does written down...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 8

2017/02/21 | | Permalink

First a retraction- it would appear that Gonghwa is not yet a royal consort. Actually we're not even supposed to call her Gonghwa yet. Her name's still Nok-soo. Now see, this is what I mean about the pacing in "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" being a complete mess. We're still not at the point where basic information in the drama's promotional material is accurate yet. Yet yet yet. How is it that we're on the eighth episode and I'm still using that word so much?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 1-2

2017/02/20 | | Permalink

Late night situation comedies are apparently all the rage these days, which is where "Strong Family" comes from. It's a fairly standard set-up. There's the dad, Cheol-il (played by Park Hyuk-kwon). He had ambition once, but now sits around the house in a goofy red tracksuit on his days off. There's the mom, Ra-yeon (played by Park Seon-yeong), who struggles to feel pretty in an ugly world. There's the daughter, Ik-hee (played by Kim Ji-min) who desperately wishes she was special. And that's what they all fight against. The encroaching dread of normalcy...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 7

2017/02/20 | | Permalink

Gonghwa (played by Lee Honey) is a royal consort, although she spends most of this episode gallavanting around with Gil-dong. The only royalist plot developments happen near the end. Gonghwa is also the presumed love interest to Gil-dong, although Ga-ryeong (played by Chae Soo-bin) also makes a play for his affections, mostly by snickering in the background. Ga-ryeong is the presumed true love interest, although to date Gonghwa has been much more helpful when it comes to Gil-dong's actual goals...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 18

2017/02/20 | | Permalink

Although a few plot devices were reused this episode, it was one of the strongest thus far. It used death in a strong way so that the death was poignantly felt and also an impetus for change and resolve. Like I mentioned last review, the hwarang and Aro are growing into their places in this tumultuous society and it was never clearer than in this episode. As you read on, there are a few plot spoilers! You have been warned!

Brooding was the filler in this episode...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 17

2017/02/20 | | Permalink

The politics surrounding the throne grow more complicated as assassins lurk in the darkness, the young king Ji-dwi contemplates whether or not he's ready to assume his lifelong duty to his people, and the queen reacts to the king's newfound gumption. Along with Ji-dwi the other hwarang are starting to come into their own as their parents' politics and the state of the Silla kingdom weigh upon them. That weight will either bring them together or rip them apart.

The clearest example of the inherited burden of politics is in Ban-ryu whose adopted father pushes him to kill and trick to attain power through money and gained status...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 5

2017/02/20 | | Permalink

The search for Offier Eun-soo's kidnapped sister continues. Some light is shed on the precarious psychological state of not only the murderous kidnapper, but also on Eun-soo's family situation. Perhaps it will bring into the fold of the emergency call responders.

On top of her fine hearing, Kwon-joo is a diagnostician...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.02.17 - 2017.02.19

2017/02/20 | | Permalink

"New Trial" outplays "Fabricated City" and "The Great Wall"...

Kim Tae-yoon's third film, "New Trial" (starring Jung Woo, Kang Ha-neul, Lee Dong-hwi and Kim Hae-sook), was released on Wednesday and came out on top during its first weekend out. "New Trial" tells the story of a lawyer's lonely struggle to defend the rights of a young boy who was wrongfully imprisoned seventeen years ago for murder. From 935 screens around the country, Kim's latest captured 34% of the box office pie (754,666 admissions) to claim pole position from Park Kwang-hyeon's "Fabricated City"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon"

2017/02/18 | | Permalink

I cannot count the times when fiction mistakenly believes a "strong woman" character means someone who behaves in a traditionally masculine manner, swears and hits people. "Strong Woman Do Bong-soon" is clearly not of the same opinion, taking a different approach by giving us a heroine who seems as feminine as she does deadly.


Do Bong-soon (Park Bo-young) is a woman with super-human strength. She is hired as a bodyguard to a temperamental rich man called Ahn Min-hyeok (Park Hyung-sik). When they become involved in a serial murder case, the two end up cohabitating with Bong-soon's crush, detective In Gook-doo (Ji Soo) for protection...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "My Little Brother"

2017/02/18 | | Permalink

Seong-ho (played by Jeong Man-sik), Soo-kyeong (played by Lee Yo-won), Joo-mi (played by Esom) and Nak-i (played by Jung Joon-won) are the brothers and sisters of a rural family that spans several decades. They all live in the city now, plying their various trades- Seong-ho is a daycare driver, Soo-kyeong works in journalism, and Joo-mi struggles with various forms of retail work. Nak-i has no profession, being a late-born child, and upon the death of their father the other siblings awkwardly work together to figure out what to do with him...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Misbehavior"

2017/02/18 | | Permalink

Hyo-joo (played by Kim Ha-neul) is a smart, in-charge woman who has...nothing. Really. Hyo-joo is only just barely on the tenure track at the high school where she teaches chemistry. She also has a terrible boyfriend, Sang-woo (played by Lee Hee-joon), who appears to have wandered in from a Hong Sang-soo film. Adding insult to injury, Hyo-joo is forced to compete with Hye-yeong (played by Yoo In-young), a pretty, friendly, sweet, professionally incompetent woman with disproportionately cool boyfriend Jong-chan (played by Lee Ki-woo). And that's before teenage dance prodigy Jae-ha (played by Lee Won-geun) gets involved...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Turning Mecard W: The Revival of Black Mirror"

2017/02/18 | | Permalink

The opening scene of "Turning Mecard W: The Revival of Black Mirror" makes a point of emphasizing to us the backstory of Black Mirror. It was a bad transforming toy robot that had to be sealed into some alternate universe by a good transforming toy robot. Then after the prologue is over he comes back into the real world somehow in rabbit mascot form, handing out mind control mirrors to unsuspecting children. So you see kids, the moral of the story is, don't accept cool mirrors as presents from suspicious rabbits...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 10

2017/02/17 | | Permalink

More dead ends and bitter developments take place in episode ten of "Missing 9" as everyone's favorite idol psychopath somehow becomes the most powerful person in Korea and China. The survivors are being hunted and Bong-hee's allies keep dramatically shrinking in numbers. Unfortunately the episode completely drops the ball in some aspects, making its otherwise tense plot unsatisfying...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Three Color Fantasy - Vivid Romance" Episodes 1-2

2017/02/16 | | Permalink

In-seong (played by Yoon Si-yoon) is a cheerful young man trying to make the best of a bad employment situation and get a decent job. Unfortunately the universe likes to play cruel jokes on In-seong. Soon In-seong is without a job apartment or girlfriend. This leaves In-seong with little choice except to go along with the scheme of his best friend Ji-seob (played Kang Ki-yeong), which is to agree to be a medical test subject for a quick and easy payout...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 8

2017/02/16 | | Permalink

The two main genres at the forefront this episode are soap opera and parent teacher association meetings. I have to admit that the latter concept is rather...unique, in that I never in a million years expected that I would be reviewing a historical Korean drama that focused on parents talking to other parents and teachers about their children's academic performance. In context, though, it's more of the usual disappointments since Saimdang herself has, as usual, only an indirect role...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 7

2017/02/15 | | Permalink

Near the end of this episode, there's a brief, lovely little scene where Saimdang takes her family out to nature and uses her powers of artistic description to help them understand natural beauty. This scene is noteworthy for how horribly out of place it is. In between Lee Gyum's detective work, Saimdang's domestic problems, and greater political struggles, there's precious little time spent actually discussing art and poetry. Which is pretty jarring considering that the whole reason Saimdang is famous is because she's an artist and a poet...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 9

2017/02/15 | | Permalink

It is time to clench body parts and remember to take deep breaths, because episode nine of "Missing 9" piles on the tension and urgency. A boat has noticed the survivors and with a storm approaching, the clock is ticking. In the present, Bong-hee and Tae-yeong hit a dead end. Just as Bong-hee starts to feel hopeless, news about the fate of two more survivors surfaces...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 6

2017/02/14 | | Permalink

As Gil-dong goes about his happy-go-lucky merchant life, Amogae soon finds himself on the wrong end of the deal. Which seemed sort of inevitable. Amogae is, after all, a con artist who has enemies, and really failed to appreciate the extent to which his act of mercy could backfire. Honestly, it was kind of a dumb move for Amogae to let the poor woman wander about on her own when only a single mistake on her completely amateurish part was necessary to bring about disaster...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 3

2017/02/14 | | Permalink

"Voice" is still centered around the intrigue of the episode's case. Through the case Kwon-joo proves her acute hearing skills to Jin-hyeok, but he's still a tough man to convince. Not much screen time is spent on his difficulties digesting the connection between them and their tortuous past, but the cliffhanger jerk's the story forward....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 4

2017/02/14 | | Permalink

For the brave souls on the "Golden Time" emergency responder team, the time of standing safely in the emergency call room is over. Sometimes emergencies catch them while they're in the field or in transit, which puts them in the line of danger. Will the fledgling team be able to work together when one of their own is taken by a kid who is all kinds of crazy?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 5

2017/02/13 | | Permalink

Gil-dong has taken Amogae's precautions too much to heart. He's just goofing around like a secondary character rather than the hero. Amogae, oddly enough, seems to be trying to avoid being the main character, even though his decisions drove all the action for the first four episodes. That's how we get to the main dramatic climax and aftermath here, which is just Amogae getting involved in a gang war while Gil-dong watches on helplessly...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review]

2017/02/13 | | Permalink

"Fabricated City" ends "Confidential Assignment"'s three-week run at the top...

After three weeks as Korea's number, Kim Seong-hoon-III's action film "Confidential Assignment" was supplanted at the top of the chart by a new local entry over the second weekend of February; Kim's sophomore feature added 543,401 admissions (22.9%) during its fourth week out, moving its total tally now to 7.2 million ($51.6 million), but it was not enough for country's highest-grossing film of the year to secure a fourth-straight weekend at the top of the pile...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim"

2017/02/11 | | Permalink

"Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" might sound like another round of hospital romance, but the deceptively titled series is a bit quirkier than you would expect. A human drama at its core, the story looks at the humanity in medicine and the ethical implications of it as a business. At the same time, the drama has trouble living up to that original potential, so let us look at it in more detail...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The King"

2017/02/11 | | Permalink

So you know that scene where the hero is about to start cleansing the world of evil, then the villain pops up and offers vast power for him to instead assist the forces of evil in ruling the universe? In "The King", that hero is low-born prosecutor Tae-soo (played by Jo In-sung). That villain is high-ranking special prosecutor Kang-sik (played by Jung Woo-sung). The scene happens early on, the twist being that Tae-soo accepts the offer, then proceeds to spend the rest of the movie as a largely passive observer...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Garak Market Revolution"

2017/02/11 | | Permalink

Doo-soo (played by Jung Du-won) is a college graduate who made the strategic decision to work as a teamster at the Garak market in southeast Seoul. The reasoning being, that teamsters get money right now. And being in office interview purgatory is, well, not a good time. While Doo-soo does not have an especially favorable contract, he unexpectedly gains an opportunity to better his position in life through his expertise in the game of Korean chess...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Don't Worry"

2017/02/11 | | Permalink

In the first episode of "Don't Worry" wild child Hyeon-joon (played by Lee Si-hoo), desperate to resolve a bad situation, enlists the aid of taxi driver Choon-gil (played by Jung Ji-soon) to chase down his tormentor. Alas, this was a poor move on Hyeon-joon's part, as Choon-gil is a bit of an idiot. And that includes when it comes to romance, as Choon-gil fantasizes about the young, vibrant Hyeon-joon. This gets to be especially inappropriate as Hyeon-joon grows increasingly agitated with Choon-gil throughout the night. Lucky thing they're both gay...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 8

2017/02/10 | | Permalink

At the rate Tae-ho plans murders it is quite fortunate that "Missing 9" should more realistically be called "Missing Many". The deadly star has some strong media play abilities and he is determined to get Bong-hee. One more survivor returns, but they are not exactly helpful. With the investigative committee still clutching at its new narrative, Bong-hee is left with only her fierce determination and Tae-yeong as her weapons...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 16

2017/02/10 | | Permalink

A turning point has come after a long episode of brooding, low spirits, and contemplation. The hwarang each must decide their own fates and whether or not they will walk the paths expected of them or forge their own. Ji-dwi has an especially hard time coming to terms with the throne with the brave actions of Seon-woo highlighting his low self-esteem and feelings of incompetence....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 7

2017/02/09 | | Permalink

Tae-ho is busy plotting in the present as much as he was in the past and new hints point to a bloody history for the star long before the island incidents. The investigators are torn between whose story is more convenient to publicize while our tour through the island group's fate brings a new person with a lot of valuable information to the camp. Tae-ho's cover back in the past is in danger and he becomes desperate...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 6

2017/02/09 | | Permalink

Dramatic romantic opening notwithstanding, "Saimdang: Light's Diary" continues with its dual stories. Lee Gyum tries to accomplish stuff at the governmental level, while Saimdang tries to maintain a basic standard of living at her home. Ah, this know, one of the criticisms of putting Saimdang on Korean currency is that her role in Korean history has not been a terribly proactive one. I'm kind of baffled as to why "Saimdang: Light's Diary" is choosing to highlight this...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Three Color Fantasy - The Stars in Space" Episodes 5-6

2017/02/09 | | Permalink

Early on we're left with the usual high concept theatrical kiss that "Three Color Fantasy - The Stars In Space" relishes- emphasis on the visceral beauty rather than the central point. But the closing episodes of "Three Color Fantasy - The Stars In Space" quickly take on a very moribund tone as backstory closes in explaining how all the characters, even the hitherto irrelevant ones are tied in to this situation together. That situation being, the closing inevitability of death...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 15

2017/02/08 | | Permalink

The deceit has be wrought. Crown Prince Chang of Baekje believe Seon-woo to be king and the battle is fought to determine whether Baekje and Silla forge an alliance or go to war. Ji-dwi watches with frustration, shame, and a feeling of helplessness....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 5

2017/02/08 | | Permalink

Lee Gyum and Saimdang have tragically separated, off to live their own lives. That is, until the cliffhanger, when by fate they finally happen to meet again...and you know, that's the main issue I have with "Saimdang: Light's Diary". Considering that the framing device is literally academic research, one would think this drama would be more interested in the historical record. But no, rather than get exposition of Saimdang's life and accomplishments, we have to watch her suffer for not being with her one true love...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 14

2017/02/08 | | Permalink

It is Silla versus Baekje in a historical tension brought to life. The hwarang and Princess Sook-myeong must forge peace with The Restless Baekje crown prince who lacks for neither intelligence or insidious intentions. It is time for Silla's royalty to step up and take charge of their destinies as well as the fate of their people. Will they stand tall or will they crumble?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 4

2017/02/07 | | Permalink

His name finally cleared, Amogae now heads out into the wilderness to become...the leader of an organized criminal enterprise. The morality in "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" really is completely topsy-turvy. It took me awhile to fully appreciate last episode that hey, Amogae is trying to get away with cold-blooded murder, and it's only the overall messed up nature of the situation that makes him sympathetic. Note how the widow seemed to have been angling for petty spite rather than justified revenge...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 3

2017/02/06 | | Permalink

Incredible though it may seem, Amogae has not actually lost faith in the justice of the legal system just yet. That's especially impressive considering how he spends most of this episode languishing in jail, suffering from the effects of torture. There certainly is a disconnect between what "justice" means depending on how well-connected a person is. It's almost as if the powers that be aren't actually interested in following the rule of law at all, and have to be shamed into doing so through public outrage...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 13

2017/02/06 | | Permalink

Training is finished for the hwarang as they are sent on their first mission. It is so dangerous that their lives cannot be guarenteed -- they are to go to Baekje on a peacekeeping mission. Historically there were extreme tensions between Silla and Baekje and King Jinheung (who we currently know as Ji-dwi) was responsible for forging relations between the two kingdoms and further expanding Silla territory. But the men of "Hwarang" are not yet there. First a meeting of the two kingdoms must be had, which is where the hwarang are headed.

Queen Ji-so's hand is forced by the ministers who want to confront the nearby kingdom of Baekje...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 12

2017/02/06 | | Permalink

Tensions are high as the hwarang speculate who among them is the king of Silla -- the long hidden king about home many rumors of flown, few of them kind. The astute young men guess the king is either Ji-dwi or Seon-woo, although inclinations lean towards the stoic Seon-woo.

Seon-woo does little to deter the rumor mill and the scheming queen taps into it in order to protect her son...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.02.03 ~ 2017.02.05

2017/02/06 | | Permalink

"Arrival" lands in third; "Confidential Assignment" and "The King" remain unmoved...

"Arrival", an American adaptation of Ted Chiang's 1998 short story, "Story of Your Life", was the highest new entry this week, but the 298,665 admissions (13.05%) it claimed was not enough to prevent two local flicks from scoring another big one-two finish...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Confidential Assignment"

2017/02/04 | | Permalink

Cheol-ryeong (played by Hyeon Bin) is a good North Korean officer who plays by the spirit of the rules. That is, until he fails to heed the literal words of commander Gi-seong (played by Kim Joo-hyeok), and ends up stuck in a disastrous firefight. Although that situation was rather preventable. Why is it that the good guys in the movies always give up their guns in a Mexican standoff? I mean yeah it's an obvious cinematic device, but in the real world no one ever does that for some fairly predictable reasons...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Obedience"

2017/02/04 | | Permalink

In Uganda and Syria, unstable political situations fomented by the likes of the Lord's Resistance Army and ISIS have created a more-or-less permanent underclass of refugees who have been driven from their homes and have little hope except for what they glean from charity. Politicians frequently prove less than adept at solving these problems, so the task often falls to missionaries to try and bring hope to these people...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Weekends"

2017/02/04 | | Permalink

All I knew about gay men's choirs before watching "Weekends" was that they are like straight choirs, except populated entirely by gay men. And after watching "Weekends" opinion is unchanged. G_Voice is indeed a normal choir composed entirely of gay men. If you want to know how the only gay men's choir in Korea operates, "Weekends" is unlikely to surprise you. Which may be a good thing, since I imagine director Lee Dong-ha-III's principle goal here was to make gay people look normal...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 6

2017/02/02 | | Permalink

With one crisis averted another one takes its place, as there is apparently no rest for the wicked and also Bong-hee. Her memories paint a picture of Tae-ho playing Whack-A-Survivor on the island and it feels like the body count will only keep rising. Relationships of the past change forever and more survivors pop up in the present, which means we will have other perspectives to consider in the future...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 5

2017/02/02 | | Permalink

If you feel that "Missing 9" has not really been delivering on the despair and tensions, episode five says hi. It also says that people are going to die and then graciously delivers on that promise. In the past, Tae-ho is an unhinged terror. In the present, Tae-yeong is an unhinged brother looking for answers. So have a seat, grab a pillow and enjoy the episode, preferably before reading about it...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Three Color Fantasy - The Stars in Space" Episodes 3-4

2017/02/02 | | Permalink

So Byeol-i has a physical body again, and promptly uses it to stalk Woo Joo. This ends up going better for than her than would seem logical. The story in "Three Color Fantasy - The Stars In Space" is easy enough to parse from Byeol-i's perspective. She's a sad lonely girl who happens to be dead, and relishes the chance to live out her dream once, if only once, before going on to something more permanent...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 4

2017/02/02 | | Permalink

We get to watch Saimdang and Lee Gyum's love story implode rather fantastically for the majority of this episode. In general I don't mind the whole tragic doomed love cliché, but here it comes off as rather weak. More than ever I find myself wondering which of these events are based on actual historical record and which are sheer dramatic embellishment. If Saimdang actually married another guy because her parents were making a socio-political decision, I would have much rather seen that...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 3

2017/02/01 | | Permalink

An extended flashback sums up the general mess of Ji-yoon's current situation, and why it has led to her having gazebo chats with Sang-hyeon (played by Yang Se-jong). Incidentally, Yang Se-jong also plays the young Lee Gyum in flashback, and once the recap is over with we are once again treated to the generally adorable romance between Lee Gyum and Saimdang. Oddly enough this storyline is no less sweet simply because we know it can't possibly end well...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 2

2017/01/31 | | Permalink

So apparently "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" is still in the basic exposition stage. That's the only explanation I can come up with for why it's taking so long for Gil-dong to grow up and become a major force to be reckoned with. To date Amogae (played by Kim Sang-joong) is the main lower class character showing any kind of agency. Now granted, while Amogae is Gil-dong's father, Hong Gil-dong is the legendary historical figure who's headlining the drama...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Solomon's Perjury" Episode 12 Final

2017/01/30 | | Permalink

The truth is out and it is as depressing and simultaneously empowering as truth often is. "Solomon's Perjury" has tried tackling big topics in the life of teenagers, adults and humanity in general in just twelve episodes. This means that certain things feel inevitably rushed and underdeveloped. Even so, the final episode does the best it can to wrap up this long and arduous battle...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 1

2017/01/30 | | Permalink

At the start of "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Gil-dong (played by Yoon Kyun-sang) has rather made a mess of things. The specifics of how he got to that point are as yet unclear but long story short the Korean army is busting down his doorstep and Gil-dong is such an annoyance that King Yeonsangun himself (played by Kim Ji-suk in person) appears to berate the folk hero in person. From there, it's time for flashback mode as we see how the situation managed to escalate...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Solomon's Perjury" Episode 11

2017/01/30 | | Permalink

The penultimate episode of "Solomon's Perjury" brings a sense of deflation, because it reminds us that reality is rarely as neat and rewarding as fiction. The show's take on authority and morality is nearly fully formed and everything is ready to come to light. It will hurt many, but the truth always does. That is because it gives us control and therefore responsibility for our faults...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.01.27 - 2017.01.29

2017/01/30 | | Permalink

Local buddy cop film gains momentum to overthrow "The King"...

Kim Seong-hoon-III's "Confidential Assignment" (formally known as "Cooperation") received a screen boost for its second weekend out that helped bump it up one place to pole position. Last weekend, Kim's sophomore film – after "My Little Hero" (2006) – entered in second with 845,971 admissions (27.2%) from 976 screens behind "The King"'s 1.3 million admissions (42.85%); in week two, "Confidential Assignment" (starring Hyeon Bin and Yoo Hae-jin) had 1,379 screens from which to pool and added another 1,9 million (46.1%), moving its total tally now to 3.77 million ($26.57 million)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruby Ruby Love"

2017/01/28 | | Permalink

Ruby (played by Seohyun) is the kind of woman who's perfectly pretty in a normal conventional way yet is paralyzed by shyness into hiding in her room all the time and wearing giant cute glasses. This lifestyle is enabled by Ruby's profession. As a freelance jewelry designer, Ruby relies on her best friend Won-seok (played by Lee Cheol-woo) to convey important information to the outside world. But upon receiving official recognition from the somewhat important Ji-seok (played by Lee Yi-kyung), Ruby must rely on magical powers to break out of her shell...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Tazza: The High Rollers" + DVD Giveaway

2017/01/28 | | Permalink

Once, long ago, Go-ni (played by Cho Seung-woo) lost a lot of his family's money. This was through the classic Korean gambling game of Flower War, which is played with Japanese hanafuda cards. Anyway, Go-ni makes the logical decision to gamble harder, eventually becoming a powerful expert in the field of gambling cheating, always looking for the next big score. Through "Tazza: The High Rollers", Go-ni chases big scores again and again and again...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Bloody Aria" + DVD Giveaway

2017/01/28 | | Permalink

Married opera professor Yeong-seon (played by Lee Byung-joon) is having a leisurely drive with former student In-jeong (played by Cha Ye-ryun), making a few misguided attempts to impress her. It isn't long before we learn that Yeong-seon is a complete jerk, and actually kind of monstrous even. So it's with a sense of gratification that Yeong-seon ends up getting waylaid in the middle of nowhere, and forced to make conversation with various rural Korean rednecks...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Wig" + DVD Giveaway

2017/01/28 | | Permalink

Soo-hyeon (played by Chae Min-seo) is dying of leukemia and struggles to find the motivation to do much of anything anymore. So her sister Ji-hyeon (played by Yoo Sun) comes up with the bright idea of buying Soo-hyeon a wig as a means to boost self-esteem. It actually ends up working save for one inevitable problem. "The Wig" is in fact a monstrous ghost that exists in this world only to settle a debt owed for a past life of misery...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 4

2017/01/27 | | Permalink

Our "Missing 9" may no longer be entirely missing, but episode four reveals that they were not nine to begin with. So-hee may be unreliable, but at least part of her experiences may be true, as a certain someone starts plotting something wicked. The big revelation about So-hee's death takes place, although if there is anything "Missing 9" has taught me it is that truth is subjective...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 11

2017/01/27 | | Permalink

Love and conspiracy are in full bloom in this week's episode of "Hwarang". Those opposed to the queen and current royal family chip away at the secrets that protect Ji-dwi and his mother while Seon-woo and Aro revel in their new love.

I did not much like the romance before, but with the air cleared, the main couple is endearing and brimming with chemistry....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 10

2017/01/27 | | Permalink

The kiss finally happened and it was less creepy and more satisfying than I anticipated. It was the result of an explosion of emotion based in relief and pent-up desire. While the romance reached an emotional pinnacle, Ji-dwi firmly grasps at his throne, challenging his power-hungry mother for his rightful place....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 20 (final)

2017/01/27 | | Permalink

"The Legend of the Blue Sea" has come to and end after battling murderers, life on land, greed, lies, and the differences between merfolk and humans. Some of it was a very adorable ride and some of it was wanting. Let's take a look back at the twenty episodes of this romantic tale and the finale before we say our final goodbyes....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 2

2017/01/26 | | Permalink

We start out with brief, generally boring academic politics. Thankfully "Saimdang: Light's Diary" quickly gives up on this exposition and it's right to what we're all waiting for- the introduction of Saimdang (played by Park Hye-soo). Of course, for now she's still just a kid. Saimdang is spunky, what with trying to climb walls, but the young woman is smarter than she looks. Saimdang has a keen eye for the arts that soon gets cultivated as she spends time with Lee Gyum...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 1

2017/01/26 | | Permalink

Long ago, the famed painter Lee Gyum (played by Song Seung-heon) was in Renaissance-era Italy. What exactly he was doing there is not yet entirely clear. Art professor Ji-yoon (played by Lee Young-ae) aims to find out, although the road there is a tad circuitous. Ji-yoon is trapped between a bad professional situation and a swiftly degrading household. Neither are her fault. Ji-yoon just had the bad luck of getting involved with unscrupulous men...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Three Color Fantasy - The Stars in Space" Episodes 1-2

2017/01/26 | | Permalink

One day, Byeol-i (played by Ji Woo) was just walking to school as usual rocking out to tunes with her discman and then...well, long story short it's the present day now, and Byeol-i has a new, generally unpleasant job. She's able to avoid the worst of it, though, by fantasizing about Woo Joo (played by Suho), a pop star with loyal devoted fans. There's just one problem. Woo Joo is very depressed. And not in a sad way, in a very curt and brash "why don't I just end it all" kind of way...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 3

2017/01/25 | | Permalink

Reunions and new acquaintances take place in episode three of "Missing 9" and things take a turn for the deadly when a killer is revealed among the survivors. Tae-yeong reaches out to Bong-hee as her memories begin to show her gruesome images and bring a mysterious anxiety to the surface. One thing is clear; nature is not the only element of threat found on that island...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 20 Final

2017/01/24 | | Permalink

Of all the flaws that have dominated "Night Light", by far the most glaring is just that no one ever seems to do anything. The few times this drama manages to pull off anything approaching excitement is when action is involved. Usually courtesy of Tak, who gets all the fight scenes. But by and large, the characters are content to just talk about stuff they're going to do rather than actually do anything remotely flashy...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 19

2017/01/24 | | Permalink

The penultimate episode of "The Legend of the Blue Sea" clearly asks the questions that have been brewing over the past three months. Can Cheong remain on land? Will Ji-hyeon find redemption? Will Nam-doo capitalize on Cheong's mermaid identity? All these and more are addressed with a few kisses thrown in for good measure....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 19

2017/01/23 | | Permalink

With I-kyeong having thoroughly humiliated the previous villain into complete irrelevance, it's difficult to take the few remaining bad guys in "Night Light" all that seriously. Even all the rumblings about a possible spy are largely undercut by the fact that I-kyeong herself barely seems to care about the potential danger, and the problem goes away just as soon as she decides to put some actual effort into solving it. Se-jin, meanwhile, has learned to just accept that this is who I-kyeong is...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Solomon's Perjury" Episode 10

2017/01/23 | | Permalink

With Woo-hyeok out of the picture and hopefully reflecting on his life, the trial is left at a standstill. The core team decide to persevere, as new evidence reveals a figure running away from the school at the time of So-woo's death. Meanwhile Kyeong-moon tries his best to block the trial and this puts pressure on Ji-hoon, whose identity and secrets are being discovered by more and more people around him...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.01.20 ~ 2017.01.22

2017/01/23 | | Permalink

Local films "The King" and "Confidential Assignment" capture 70% of the sales...

Han Jae-rim's new film, "The King" (starring Jo In-sung, Jung Woo-sung and Bae Seong-woo), and Kim Jeong-hoon-III's sophomore feature, "Confidential Assignment" (with Hyeon Bin and Yoo Hae-jin), entered the chart and secured a one-two finish for the home team...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Solomon's Perjury" Episode 9

2017/01/22 | | Permalink

Things get emotional in episode nine of "Solomon's Perjury" as we dive deeper into the relationships and pain of different characters. Woo-hyeok makes a bold decision which initiates his biggest challenge of morality yet and the truth about his own part in So-woo's death is revealed. Ji-hoon's identity is being questioned and his past with Kyeong-moon is revealed to us with unknown intent...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 16 Final

2017/01/21 | | Permalink

And so "Goblin" ends on a mostly pleasant note. Once Kim Sin went and died without actually dying it was pretty impossible to take any stated conflict in this drama seriously anymore, so the ensuing contortions necessary to get us the happy engaged couple of Kim Sin and Eun-tak don't bother me so much. Even the as-usual railroaded nature of the not-romance between the Grim Reaper and Sunny isn't much of an issue anymore. Nor, for that matter, do I care all that much about the rules regarding magical memory attention being rewritten yet again...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 15

2017/01/21 | | Permalink

So the recap this time is just the Goblin's full death scene from episode thirteen. Admittedly, it looks pretty great. The fading away to light particles was a nice touch, and the acting truly heartfelt. For all the flaws "Goblin" has a complete story, the direction is pretty consistently top-notch. But there are limits to how far the occasional excellent scene can go. Aesthetic excellence notwithstanding, I'm at a bit of a loss as to why "Goblin" is reminding us of Kim Sin's death when he didn't actually die...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "My Son" + DVD Giveaway

2017/01/21 | | Permalink

Once, long ago, Kang-sik (played by Cha Seung-won) committed a horrible crime. Ever since that day, he has lingered in prison, mostly dead on the inside, with no hope or expectation of mercy or forgiveness. Realizing Kang-sik is not a threat to anyone in this state, prison authorities grant Kang-sik a single day to go home. There he finds an old woman (played by Kim Ji-yeong) and a young student (played by Ryu Deok-hwan) who are supposed to be family yet feel, in reality, like hopeless distant strangers...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Old Miss Diary - Movie" + DVD Giveaway

2017/01/21 | | Permalink

Neurotic Mi-ja (played by Ye Ji-won) is in her thirties and badly wanting a boyfriend. Hyeon-woo (played by Ji Hyeon-woo) is younger, attractive, and available, mostly because he happens to be physically present at Mi-ja's new job. That's the faint outline of a plot around which "Old Miss Diary - Movie" surrounds itself. Really the whole project is mostly an excuse for the cast and crew of "Old Miss Diary - Drama" to do an abridged version of the situation comedy. Which is just as well. Who has time to watch two hundred and thirty two episodes of anything these days?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Don't Tell Papa" + DVD Giveaway

2017/01/21 | | Permalink

Cho-won (played by a ten-year old Yoo Seung-ho) was conceived under auspicious circumstances. Immature high school student Cheol-soo (played by Jung Woong-in, who being in his thirties doesn't look like a high school student at all) and tough-as-nails bombshell Ae-rang (played by Chae Min-seo) hooked up. Thanks to questionable decision-making on both their parts, Cho-won is, in the present day, being raised in the nightclub where Cheol-soo works as an emcee...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 14

2017/01/20 | | Permalink

So even though a really big point has been made about how the Goblin will die if the sword is ever pulled out, apparently by "die" what everyone actually meant was "get sent to icy purgatory for several years". This will end his suffering somehow. The logic of this rather escapes me, since being an immortal God in modern Seoul would seem to be a great deal more enjoyable than wandering the desert, and the Goblin ends up back there anyway except that no one remembers who he is...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 18

2017/01/20 | | Permalink

Episode 18 of "The Legend of the Blue Sea" crams everything into one very tumultuous episode. Joon-jae reels from his father's death. Arrests are made. Accusations are cast. Past incarnations are revealed. Fate swings a heavy fist...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 2

2017/01/20 | | Permalink

"Voice" definitely relies most on the wrenching of emotions to hook its audience and the highly emotional moments are definitely where it is strongest. It sinks its airtime into the sensational whether it be a current case or an angry Jang Hyeok...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 2

2017/01/19 | | Permalink

Relief, despair, frustration and every other imaginable entry in the gamut of human emotion is felt by our stranded duo of idol and stylist, as Bong-hee manages to regain the part of her memories taking place immediately after the crash. Survival is the name of the game and Joon-oh is just not very good at it. Meanwhile, a body is washed ashore in the present and the mystery of what happened on the island becomes more complicated...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Naked Fireman" Episode 4

2017/01/19 | | Permalink

The bookends for the final episode of "Naked Fireman" communicate the emotional core of the drama. Why did Cheol-soo become a fireman anyway? Why is he always so determined to risk his own life to help others? Within reason of course. I really like how "Naked Fireman" demonstrates that in the real world, even a brave heroic man like Cheol-soo very sensibly backs down and is generally pliant when faced with a gun...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Naked Fireman" Episode 3

2017/01/19 | | Permalink

With the true villain unveiled, we know now that "Naked Fireman" is, in the end, a thriller. But, as is usually crucial, the characters themselves are not aware of this. Jin-ah is baffled by the extent to which Cheol-soo does not resemble the terrifying man in her memory, and slowly starts to piece together the inconsistency of memories. Unfortunately the process is slow, and it simply does not occur to Jin-ah that if not the man with the birthmark, the culprit would have to be someone frighteningly close...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing 9" Episode 1

2017/01/19 | | Permalink

"Missing 9" starts out with a bang, that is, the sound of an exploding plane engine. Episode one starts us off four months after the crash and it provides our witness, who claims total loss of her memories after the painful event. The episode then introduces us to the diverse cast of characters, their basic relationships and a little backstory before diving, quite literally, into the dire situation at hand...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Special

2017/01/18 | | Permalink

Episode twenty-one of "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" has been called a prequel, then a special. It turns out that it actually picks up right after the official last one in terms of its timeline. The episode does explore the past a little, but it is more of an extended farewell with Kim Hye-soo as a guest and with the series making a last return to its roots...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Naked Fireman" Episode 2

2017/01/18 | | Permalink

With more flashbacks of the mysterious arson incident it soon becomes clear that yes, Cheol-soo is indeed the man (or at the time, idiot teenager) who Jin-ah briefly brushed paths with on that horrible day. But as usual, Cheol-soo's relatively demure behavior in the modern day complicates Jin-ah's narrative of his villainy. Cheol-soo is still stuck in his adorable little romantic comedy world, performing only noble chivalric deeds when in the presence of a lady...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Voice" Episode 1

2017/01/18 | | Permalink

"Voice" has begun and despite some bizarre pacing and trying a little to hard, it was entertaining. Brought to us by director Kim Hong-seon ("Pied Piper", "Liar Game", "Warrior Baek Dong-soo") and writer Ma Jin-won ("Save the Last Dance for Me", "Speed"), the drama skews to the dark and dramatic. While the first episode has pinged my curiosity, I can't say it is anything unusual for the genre or for OCN.

Jang Hyeok as Moo Jin-hyeok overacts as a detective who loses his wife to a brutal murder and subsequently falls apart...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 9

2017/01/18 | | Permalink

It is both an episode of angst and progress that greets us this week. Aro must try to come to terms with the fact that her real brother died and that Seon-woo is just a stand in. At the same time, the hwarang unintentionally become closer. The stuffs that hold it together are flimsy, but mindlessly enjoyable like most of the drama...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 18

2017/01/17 | | Permalink

In a somewhat refreshing change of pace Se-jin actually ends up working against I-kyeong instead of against her. That Se-jin's original plan would go so poorly was predictable. That the story itself would end up acknowledging this is much more surprising, and we appear to be going into the final stretch of episodes with I-kyeong as a genuinely sympathetic character. This nice, even as it calls unfortunate attention to the fact that so much of "Night Light" up until now has been a complete waste of time that didn't work in service to this point...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 20 Final

2017/01/17 | | Permalink

The end of the main story has arrived in "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" and while some of its choices are smart, it mostly feels like a rushed conclusion to topics which needed a little more. On the other hand, if you have been looking forward to a fist fight between Yoon-wan and Teacher Kim, you can scratch that off your wishlist. All in all, the ending provides what it reasonably could quite well...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 17

2017/01/16 | | Permalink

I never would have thought, during the early episodes of "Night Light", that I-kyeong was going to emerge as the most sympathetic character. The thing is, she's already won. I-kyeong is just making normal business deals now. Yet Se-jin and Gun-woo still hover in the background wanting to bring her down for...some reason. Se-jin's attempts at backroom deals here are a lot shadier than anything I-kyeong has done in recent memory, so it's hard to want her to succeed...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Solomon's Perjury" Episode 8

2017/01/16 | | Permalink

A lot of pain and abuse is revealed as the past comes closer to the surface. Violence generates more violence and Seo-yeon believes showing that is important for everyone involved. Crucial information about the last person believed to have spoken with So-woo is discovered by the prosecution while Ji-hoon and Kyeong-moon's involvement is starting to become a little clearer...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 8

2017/01/16 | | Permalink

As the queen tries to build up the hwarang, her opponents just as quickly attempt to tear them down. Meanwhile romance flowers between the beautiful young men and women of Silla and complicates matters for those with political aims.

Aro is one of those young people in love, confused by her emotions for her brother as much as she is confused by the clear indicators that he may not be who she thinks he is...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.01.13 ~ 2017.01.15

2017/01/16 | | Permalink

Japan's highest-grossing anime retains pole position...

Makoto Shinkai's romantic fantasy "Your Name" is now the highest-grossing Japanese anime in history having recently overtaken Hayao Miyazaki's classic, "Spirited Away" (2001). Shinkai's critical acclaimed masterpiece entered the Korean market January 4 and became the first Japanese anime to enter in pole position in over a decade. During its second weekend out, "Your Name" added another 739,079 admissions (30%) and moved its total tally in Korea now to 2.4 million ($17.2 million). Worldwide, "Your Name" has grossed $290 million, enough to overtake "Spirited Away"'s $289 million...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Solomon's Perjury" Episode 7

2017/01/15 | | Permalink

Episode seven of "Solomon's Perjury" is all about perspective. The truth is always observed subjectively by each of us and one person's truth might not be another's. The trial gains new and important witnesses, Ji-hoon continues to succeed in his manipulation, but Seo-yeon sadly continues letting her convictions and speculation blind her. A new, mysterious figure emerges as a presence in So-woo's life around the time of his death...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Missing 9"

2017/01/14 | | Permalink

"How about we take a few pampered celebrities with big egos and put them in the same group", thought the production of "Missing 9". "Now how about we throw them and regular folks into one of the toughest survival environments", they continued. Well, what we get is hopefully an original story full of raw humanity and suspense.


The only witness of a terrible incident describes her story. She and eight other people from the same entertainment agency went through a plane crash and became stranded on an island. The witness and one mysterious corpse are all that is left to help untangle the mystery of everyone's fate...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Flying Boys" + DVD Giveaway

2017/01/14 | | Permalink

Min-jae (played by Yoon Kye-sang), Chang-seob (played by On Joo-wan), and Dong-wan (played by Lee Joon-gi) are three high school students who struggle with normal high school problems, like the desire not to get beat up every day, get into a good school, and have fun in general. As movie protagonists go they're actually relatively nebbish. Min-jae in particular is a giant weenie, yet he is also the main character, always struggling to find the courage to talk to local cool girl Soo-jin (played by Kim Min-jung)...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Mission Possible: Kidnapping Granny K" + DVD Giveaway

2017/01/14 | | Permalink

For various morbid reasons, Do-beom (played by Kang Sung-jin), Geun-yeong (played by Yoo Hae-jin) and Jong-man (played by Yoo Gun) have been unable to make anything of themselves in life. They have to resort to petty crime in the meager hopes of recovering from their misfortunes. It is from here that they arbitrarily decide to kidnap famed restaurant personality Soon-boon (played by Nah Moon-hee) who has her own problems in life, mainly centering around ungrateful children. "Mission Possible: Kidnapping Granny K" is the story of their unlikely team-up...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Cracked Eggs and Noodles" + DVD Giveaway

2017/01/14 | | Permalink

When we're first introduced to Dae-gyoo (played by Im Chang-jeong), the man is rather...uncouth. As in, Dae-gyoo is telling a woman about how the person he hates more than anyone else in the world is his father, as implicit justification for his handing over a small sum of money to be used for, well, presumably some sort of procedure that would prevent Dae-gyoo from becoming a father. Then he meets In-kwon (played by Lee In-sung), a generally obnoxious child who soon proves to be Dae-gyoo's nemesis as they travel Jeolla province, somewhat inconveniently, without a car...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 13

2017/01/13 | | Permalink

So apparently the Grim Reaper has been breaking rules this entire time regarding unnecessary memory manipulation, so it's up to the Grim Reaper investigation team to suitably punish him. As it turns out this is all just a thinly veiled excuse to allow the Grim Reaper to fill in the remaining gaps in the flashback story, although at this point we can pretty easily guess what happens. So much blood spilled, for so little apparent purpose. Kind of like how "Goblin" is with ink...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 17

2017/01/13 | | Permalink


Episode 17 dives into the heart of the issues between our main couple and into the dastardly deeds of Ji-hyeon's mother. It even tackles the relationship between Joon-jae's father, although it's too little too late....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Naked Fireman" Episode 1

2017/01/12 | | Permalink

Jin-ah (played by Jung In-sun) is an artist undergoing therapy for a traumatic arson case some ten years ago. Through this process, Jin-ah has been able to unearth memories of a distinctive wound on the body of the presumed perpetrator, who she saw before and after the crime had been committed. Meanwhile, Cheol-soo (played by Lee Joon-hyuk) is a goofy fireman with a disfigurement identical to the one Jin-ah remembers. But for the most part he lives in a happy-go-lucky comic world filled with locker room banter and generally annoying people who don't like to be rescued...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 16 Final

2017/01/11 | | Permalink

And now, for a final tension-free conflict in "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo". Not that I'm complaining. There's a nice sense of constancy in how Bok-joo and Joon-hyeong can never get into a fight so serious it can actually really break them. Even at her most doubtful Bok-joo is more teasing of Joon-hyeong than she ever is genuinely mad at the guy. Besides, it's all for a good cause. Joon-hyeong's collusion with Bok-joo's dad and uncle was a nice way of getting the generally psychotic Chang-geol to accept Joon-hyeong without necessitating a serious personality clash...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 16

2017/01/11 | | Permalink

Joon-jae's mother did not get hit by a car. Instead we get a very satisfying reunion of mother and son that results in mutual sleuthing into Ji-hyeon's mother and her shadowy past. This plot thread took up the bulk of the hour with very little interference by Cheong's and Joon-jae's romance....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 7

2017/01/11 | | Permalink

"Hwarang" episode 7 explores the meaning of what it means to be king. Various points of view of presented and explained throughout the episode while the cringeworthy romance between Seon-woo and Aro continues to grow and Ji-dwi engages in a battle of will with his power-hungry mother.

The struggle between factions and royal family members is nothing alien to the sageuk...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 19

2017/01/10 | | Permalink

Hurray for a fresh and interesting twist which fixes some of the mistakes of episode eighteen. "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" has pulled these before and it is good to see it do the same near the end, especially after the previous few shaky episodes and their erratic character developments. As Dong-joo comes to terms with his new information about the past, Doldam prepares for one last fight with the relentlessly shameless Yoon-wan...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 18

2017/01/10 | | Permalink

With Chairman Sin still unconscious and his daughter, Hyeon-jeong still being manipulated by Yoon-wan Doldam's future is put in grave danger. Reporter Oh is still looking into Teacher Kim's life as Boo Yong-joo and some secrets of the past are revealed, which cause great tension. They also temporarily sacrifice a character to the altar of plot progression, making the transition to the next episode crucial...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 16

2017/01/10 | | Permalink

I realized, near the end of this episode, that part of the reason why "Night Light" is so boring is that the production team is very bad at figuring out terms of scale. When the early episodes play with Russian Roulette and violent hostage situations, the tension is real and powerful. People get mad and offended for good reason. Whereas here...a simple police investigation is treated like some sort of huge betrayal, when there's little indication of meaningful long term consequences...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 15

2017/01/09 | | Permalink

Once again, "Night Light" delivers on the goods with...more elongated scenes of I-kyeong discussing business plans with characters who at this point are only really borderline antagonistic. Even when the story moves to a crisis involving the medical security of a hospitalized old man, it's really hard to feel sorry for anyone. I-kyeong doesn't play nice, but she does play fair. Why do Se-jin and Gun-woo feel compelled to interfere with that, just because they're not into the whole cutthroat businessperson jam?...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2017.01.06 ~ 2017.01.08

2017/01/09 | | Permalink

Japanese anime "Your Name" enters in pole position...

For the first time in over a decade, a Japanese anime has entered at the top of the South Korean box office. Makoto Shinkai's fantasy romance anime "Your Name" (based on Shinkai's own novel of the same name) officially opened on Wednesday after becoming the second-highest grossing anime film in Japan late last year where it banked over $288 million (Hayao Miyazaki's "Spirited Away", the highest-grossing anime, sits on $289 million). From 944 screens, "Your Name" captured 31.3% of the sales (832,040 admissions) to dislodge last weekend's number one, Jo Eui-seok's crime flick "Master"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Solomon's Perjury" Episode 6

2017/01/08 | | Permalink

It is truly a happy day when my biggest complaint about an episode is that it provides too much solid material to fit into my desired review length. Episode six of "Solomon's Perjury" is chock-full of new revelations, new suspects, rising tensions, great character development and all other manner of goodies. Seo-yeon takes her biggest step as a prosecutor yet and she will need all of her strength to handle the current chaos...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Voice"

2017/01/07 | | Permalink

Dramaland geniuses are rarely useful ones, but OCN likes to make its characters work for their special snowflake award. The latest ability is a keen sense of hearing which will crack a case and catch a murderer. The task of "Voice" now is to rise above gimmicks and create a suspenseful story with a twist that matters.


Two people whose lives have been touched by a serial killer work together in order to catch him. One is a tough and relentless former detective skilled in action, the other is an intelligent officer who works at an emergency call center and has a heightened sense of hearing...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 12

2017/01/07 | | Permalink

In the originally broadcast form on Korean television, this episode of "Goblin" contains a helpful recap explaining the major events from the previous episode. These are some help when it comes to major plot points, like how memories of past lives can be restored by touching a Grim Reaper (?), and also how New Year's Eve festivities have been driving the major emotional events lately. This does admittedly make for a fairly romantic backdrop, limited though it may be when romance is a subordinate concern to plot. Which is once again, all this past life stuff...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Solomon's Perjury" Episode 5

2017/01/07 | | Permalink

Despite Jeong-guk High School's attempts to stop it, the first day of the trial has arrived. New and unpredictable players join this very serious game and there are several obstacles for the prosecution and defense to overcome. Joo-ri still refuses to join and Woo-hyeok cannot control his temper. All eyes are on the students as new truths come to light. Meanwhile, Ji-hoon's involvement becomes deeper...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Seven First Kisses" Episodes 5-8

2017/01/07 | | Permalink

So whoever's responsible for uploading "Seven First Kisses" only hired translators for the first seven episodes. Which means if you want to watch the individual endings or the Lee Min-ho segment, you'll have to go in blind. Well, then again it's the same general joke for all of them. Title notwithstanding there is no actual kissing in this drama. Also Lee Min-ho is a travel writer. Kai is Soo-jin's former student. Taecyeon is the passionate, rebellious heir of a major corporation. And Lee Jong-suk is pretty much just himself...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Sound of Your Heart" Episode 5 (TV Version)

2017/01/07 | | Permalink

Episodes thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen couple up with the last two new TV stories to close out "The Sound of Your Heart". Joon gets a bit more attention than usual- one of the new stories revolves around him completely, as he misinterprets an announcement in a foreign hotel and quickly drives everyone else into an insane fruitless frenzy in the process. Poor Joon. The guy just wants to be a hero, but in the end, even his own family can't stand him...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Happiness" + DVD Giveaway

2017/01/07 | | Permalink

In a colorful yet emotionally dank apartment, Yeong-soo (played by Hwang Jeong-min) ponders the general uselessness of his life as he prepares to move into a sanatorium to receive treatment for his various addictions. That's where he meets Eun-hee (played by Im Soo-jung), a woman who is more terminally ill, yet has decent enough health that she has begun acting as a stabilizing force for the various other patients. Gradually, they fall in love, pondering life outside the sanatorium...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Like a Virgin" + DVD Giveaway

2017/01/07 | | Permalink

Dong-goo (played by Ryu Deok-hwan) is a pudgy yet strong teenage boy who idolizes Madonna and eagerly looks forward to the day when he's able to scrape enough money together to afford gender reassignment surgery. Dong-goo discovers that there's quite a bit of scholarship money to be had by competing in traditional Korean wrestling (씨름), which involves participants trying to lift each other up by the belt and knocking them down to the ground. Hm, yes, if nothing else "Like A Virgin" certainly gets points for its rather creative premise...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Cruel Attendance" + DVD Giveaway

2017/01/07 | | Permalink

Dong-cheol (played by Kim Soo-ro) and Man-ho (played by Lee Sun-kyun) are a couple of regular blokes resorting to increasingly desperate measures to try and pay off the interest to White Head (played by Kim Byeong-ok), a sinister loan shark who demands payment be exactly on time. Eventually, in their desperation, Dong-cheol and Man-ho kidnap obnoxious teenage girl Tae-hee (played by Ko Eun-ah) as part of an unnecessarily complicated and ill-advised plan to pay off their debts...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 11

2017/01/06 | | Permalink

Watching "Goblin" is a lot like watching a dream. I don't mean that in a good way. I mean that while the transitions make sense on a scene by scene basis, every time I try to step back and figure out what's happening, I get a little lost trying to figure out how and why the characters got to where they are. The Grim Reaper and Sunny have a more intense relationship now that they don't actually know each other (?), and I'm pretty much with Sunny on how weirdly and inexplicably overbearing the Goblin is this episode...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 15

2017/01/06 | | Permalink

At last our main couple is on the same page. Cheong can be honest with Joon-jae about who she is and where she came from and feel comfortable with the fact that he loves her. While these two are growing closer, the villains are inching their way towards evil.

While Ji-hyeon does become violent this episode, he is so deflated by a scolding from Dae-yeong that he loses all potency as a villain...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 15

2017/01/05 | | Permalink

Jeong-yeon (played by Yoon Yoo-sun) is Joon-hyeong's absentee biological mother. We don't know why she abandoned Joon-hyeong, and we still don't really at the end of this episode. Jeong-yeon's meeting with Joon-hyeong is dominated by awkward albeit optimistic small talk with more concilatory undertones. The inevitable crisis comes when Joon-hyeong discovers the ulterior motive for Jeong-yeon's unannounced visit to Korea, which naturally had nothing to do with him...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 6

2017/01/04 | | Permalink

Very little plot development happened this week. It was basically an introduction into live in the Hwarang training center where class politics dictates the behavior of the boys training to be useful Hwarang. As they struggle to set a social balance, they start to see past the rigid structures that society created. However, it is just a start. Besides, there's a lot of silliness that needs to happen between plot points in "Hwarang" and we can't forgo that!...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 14

2017/01/04 | | Permalink

As far as secret relationships go Bok-joo and Joon-hyeong have better excuses than most. Athletes with pretensions of competing on the international level aren't supposed to dally around with romantic partners- their workout schedule is too intense. Of course in the immediate sense Bok-joo and Joon-hyeong only care about not having friends and family tease them. That's where most of the conflict and comedy come from this time around...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 14

2017/01/04 | | Permalink

After a pre-empted episode last week, episode 14 tore into this week at full force with heavy plot and character development. There were a few awkward changes, but for the most part, it was one of the most interesting episodes to date.

Part of what made it interesting was the change in Ji-hyeon's character...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 17

2017/01/03 | | Permalink

Somebody give Yoon-wan a mustache to twirl and a cat to pet, because he is reaching high levels of cartoon villainy. The man is getting desperate and more dangerous. A nosy reporter with shady intentions shakes Teacher Kim while Woon-yeong finally gets a chance to shine as his top doctor's story comes to light and his future is endangered by everyone's favorite person to hate...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 5

2017/01/03 | | Permalink

"Hwarang" is a light adventure tale that is intermingled with fauxcest, pretty boys, and lots of epic battles. It's a cross between a 2000s American rom-com film and manga reverse harem stories. Unfortunately these aspects of the drama detracted from the character development. Rather than growth, the drama focused on sensationalism. It's makes for an entertaining hour, but one without much substance....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 16

2017/01/03 | | Permalink

As we reach the final episodes of the series, things get unsurprisingly fast paced and dire. The Doldam crew for Chairman Shin's surgery is doing their best to cut down on time while Yoon-wan tries to use the inevitable surgery as a means of asserting his position and destroying Teacher Kim. With time and aggressive hospital politics against them, the crew prepares for their biggest surgery yet...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 14

2017/01/03 | | Permalink

Enough of I-kyeong's plan has been brought into operation that we can finally get exposition of her motivation without potentially ruining it. I-kyeong, though, has not been fighting for the reasons we had assumed. It's hard to tell whether the truth is better or worse than what we've assumed. On one end the lack of emotion in I-kyeong's decision making process makes her pliable to reason. But then where does that leave Se-jin and Gun-woo, whose only arguments have ever really been emotional ones?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 13

2017/01/02 | | Permalink

An unexpected snag comes up to interfere with I-kyeong's plans. To the credit of writer Han Ji-hoon, I-kyeong doesn't respond with the increasingly annoying cliché of "I anticipated your every move". I-kyeong is genuinely surprised to meet resistance. But she expresses only the most minimum concern and never drops the poker face for a second. I-kyeong has to consider whether she has the right counters to the situation, and alter the plan accordingly if necessary. In the end, this is just business after all...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.12.30 ~ 2017.01.01

2017/01/02 | | Permalink

"Master" marches into 2017 over "Rouge One"...

After an impressive opening over Christmas weekend, Jo Eui-seok's crime thriller "Master" (starring Lee Byung-hun, Gang Dong-won and Kim Woo-bin) – Jo's fourth film after "Cold Eyes", "The World of Silence" and "Make It Big" – remained atop the chart by attracting 1.3 million admissions (44%). Despite a small cut in screens, which dipped from 1,501 to 1,261, and the arrival of "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story", "Master" managed to carry its success forward into 2017 and move its total tally now to 5.4 million ($36.5 million)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 10

2016/12/31 | | Permalink

The Goblin can live only if Eun-tak dies, and vice-versa. Lest we get too invested in that potential plot hook, "Goblin" instead takes a huge chunk of time explaining the Goblin's back story, from when he was still Kim Sin. Interestingly, these flashbacks have almost nothing to do with Kim Sin directly, the focus instead being placed squarely on other characters whose poor decisions led to the rather unnecessary massacre we saw way back in the first episode...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Mr. Handy" + DVD Giveaway

2016/12/31 | | Permalink

Hye-jin (played by Uhm Jung-hwa) is a tough dentist who knows how to negotiate her way upward through life. Well, at least that's what she thinks. One bad career decision later and Hye-jin is scheming how to best pad her resume on the way to a viable long-term position. And this is how she meets Doo-sik (played by Kim Joo-hyeok), the titular "Mr. Handy" who exists for the sole purpose of solving various problems in a small maritime town. For a fee, of course...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Wacky Switch" + DVD Giveaway

2016/12/31 | | Permalink

Dong-hwa (played by Jeong Joon-ho) is following his dream in life to be a famous writer. Unfortunately Dong-hwa can't write for snot. Once family, friends and fate have conspired to make Dong-hwa surrender what little of his pitiful pride remains, the man reluctantly takes on a job as ghostwriter for Man-cheol (played by Son Chang-min), who has led a fairly interesting life. We start to see "A Wacky Switch" take place as it becomes clear these two have talents the other would find useful...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Father and Son: The Story of Mencius" + DVD Giveaway

2016/12/31 | | Permalink

In the cutthroat world of South Korean education, success goes to those who can score an apartment in a gentrified area with good schools. So it is with fishmonger Man-soo (played by Cho Jae-hyun), who following the story of Mencius, drags his son Sa-seong (played by Lee In-I) to Seoul in the hopes of getting him a better education. Alas, Sa-seong would rather just sing songs and hang out with local bad girl Hyeon-jeong (played by So I-hyeon), whose own father figure Kang-doo (played by Son Chang-min) brought her to Seoul with the same gambit in mind...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 9

2016/12/30 | | Permalink

A pivot is attempted here to move "Goblin" from a generally strange comedic drama to a more serious one. The results are mixed. To be honest I sort of forgot that Eun-tak didn't know the Goblin would die if she pulled the sword out. I kind of assumed that Eun-tak knew that taking the sword out would do something serious at least. Then again the characters in "Goblin" are not that competent when it comes to speculating as to the results of their actions...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Sound of Your Heart" (TV Version) Episode 4

2016/12/30 | | Permalink

When I first saw episodes seventeen and eighteen of "The Sound of Your Heart", I did not notice that Seok intentionally comes up with a prank to fulfill the letter of his promise to the twins (played by Kim Jong-kook), even when an out is offered. Seok really is pretty dumb isn't he? How does he keep coming up with ways to make the situation worse? Although I suppose it's more impressive that Seok's plans only succeed just long enough to fill an entire episode with gags...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 13

2016/12/29 | | Permalink

Joon-jae and Cheong grow closer, flirting like mad and coping with Cheong's attempt to learn about love via the internet. As they are sealed in their blissful bubble of romantic happiness, Dae-yeong and Ji-hyeon's mother continue their nefarious ways and are sadly joined by another...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 13

2016/12/28 | | Permalink

Si-ho has finally achieved the difficult task of completing a character arc- no mean feat considering the poor girl's psychosis is largely a result of her not having any decent social interaction. Still, the humility does her good. At various times Si-ho has hated both Bok-joo and Joon-hyeong for their "betrayal", but ultimately she's just relieved to be alive and largely unhated. That Si-ho makes Bok-joo angrier by accident than she ever did on purpose provides a useful segue into the next conflict...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 12

2016/12/27 | | Permalink

Now that Se-jin and Gun-woo have teamed up that sad, sparsely decorated office is...still pretty sad and sparsely decorated actually. In spite of the fact that they're the main characters, Se-jin and Gun-woo have almost no convincing drive. They're barely even slowing I-kyeong down. These two are so hilariously ineffective that at one point I-kyeong bails them out of trouble for the sole purpose of insuring that everyone's attention is diverted in the right direction without getting hung up on subplots...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 4

2016/12/27 | | Permalink

Episode 4 of "Hwarang" had a distinct taste of 2010's "Sungkyunkwan Scandal" with its action, sports, K-pop, beautiful boys, and the appearance of Kim Kwang-gyoo playing a similar role. These elements were present before, but came together to create some serious 2010 nostalgia. Not only do we get a major drama throw back, but we start to see how the young men who become the Hwarang relate to their parents, each other, and the political powers that be....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 15

2016/12/27 | | Permalink

Gone are the days of exploring difficult matters of hospital ethics and injecting social commentary into subplots. "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" has become comfortable with its romance and its political power games, so much that there is little to distinguish it from any other similar drama at this point. Our villain is back and meddling, our new character has no real function in the plot yet and the story is gearing up for a big battle...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 11

2016/12/26 | | Permalink

The tone takes a turn for the somewhat mundane here as I-kyeong uses business acumen to further drive a rift between the various members of the Park family without their really having any idea what's going on. The tendency of characters to underestimate I-kyeong is one of the finer subtle plot points in "Night Light". One reason it's so easy is because I-kyeong doesn't really have any kind of decisive victory to claim credit for. That makes them think they can come out on top of the double cross later on...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 3

2016/12/26 | | Permalink

Youth places limits on characters and defines many quarrels in "Hwarang". Youthfulness equates to weakness in Silla as the adults control the political landscape and pass their rivalries down to their children who can do little but act out.

Each of the flower boys and Aro feel the helplessness of their age...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Solomon's Perjury" Episode 4

2016/12/26 | | Permalink

Things get dangerous as news of the trial shakes every party involved. The court group are racing against time and the Jeong-guk foundation's scheming, which pushes them to put more pressure on Joo-ri and Woo-hyeok. After news of the trial spreads, a mysterious figure commits a crime and complicates the situation. Seo-yeon is faced with tough decisions and an increasing amount of uncontrollable participants...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Solomon's Perjury" Episode 3

2016/12/26 | | Permalink

It feels as if the closer we get to Ji-hoon the more confusing his motivation becomes. I have guesses, but the important thing for now is that he acts as a catalyst to get the trial going. Seo-yeon faces a great challenge, but with her faithful friends by her side and her determination intact, our heroine is not someone to be taken lightly. The Jeong-guk foundation seems aware of that as well...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 16 Final

2016/12/25 | | Permalink

The end of "Entourage" is here and it brings the convenience of an equus ex machina and a time jump. Yeong-bin has escaped to Busan without the group for some alone time while everyone back in Seoul is trying to handle the fallout and get the star and Ho-jin to make up. Eun-gap in particular becomes closer to the boys than ever and provides some valuable advice to Ho-jin...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 15

2016/12/25 | | Permalink

We are almost at the end of "Entourage", but it oddly feels like a beginning. Episode fifteen gives me the feeling that this season was perhaps meant as the first step on our characters' journey toward self-improvement, simply because of how little they have been developed and how late into the plot that development seems to accelerate. So let us see what we have here...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 8

2016/12/24 | | Permalink

The latest adventure between the Goblin and Eun-tak has resulted in massive property damage and multiple witnesses to obviously impossible superhuman feats. So naturally, the only valid response to this is...a highly elaborate and not terribly convincing cover-up, because the production team doesn't actually care about the worldbuilding except to the extent it can be used to justify wacky special effects. That's "Goblin" for you...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Sound of Your Heart" (TV Version) Episode 3

2016/12/24 | | Permalink

New material starts us out here, as Seok takes Ae-bong to meet his family, although matters take a turn for the weird when Cheol-wang's generally awful dad jokes inspire him to a task that soon manages to overwhelm the rest of his family with sheer obnoxiousness. Then, improbably good timing results in chaos for everyone else in the neighborhood too. Except the pregnant woman. I guess she ends up doing all right...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Birth of a Married Woman" Episodes 8-10

2016/12/24 | | Permalink

With the preparations firmly in place all there is for Yeong-hee and Cheol-soo to do now is actually get married. Surprisingly, the final steps of the process aren't actually all that intricate or difficult. I suppose this is the main advantage of the South Korean pseudo-Western wedding format. Is it impersonal? Sure. But with all the complicated planning that has to go into making a wedding happen, it can be reassuring to leave the actual ceremony to professionals who pull it off several times a week...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love for a Thousand More" Episodes 8-10

2016/12/24 | | Permalink

In becoming closer to Joon-woo, Mi-jo has realized the terrible truth that she has a very personal connection to the young man. This brings up all sorts of philosophical questions about what responsibilities an immortal woman owes to society at large, or to her friends. We're also left wondering what fears Mi-jo may legitimately have about the world around her in light of all this. Alas, "Love for a Thousand More" only ends up addressing the decidedly less interesting romantic angle of all this...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Forbidden Quest" + DVD Giveaway

2016/12/24 | | Permalink

In Joseon, erotica is banned, and can only be obtained in illegal markets. Incidentally, Yoon-seo (played by Han Seok-Kyu) is a royal inspector who is a total weenie and also a dishonor to his family. Close proximity to official tough guy Gwang-heon (played by Lee Beom-soo) can only do so much. But a chance encounter with the erotica market slowly leads Yoon-seo on to the path of manly self-confidence, casually tossing aside lowly deocrum that he may better lust for Queen Jeong-bin (played by Kim Min-jung)...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Le Grand Chef" + DVD Giveaway

2016/12/24 | | Permalink

Seong-chan (played by Kim Kang-woo) was once the up-and-coming chef in an exceptionally prestigious Korean restaurant. One horrible accident later, and he instead puts his talents to use procuring high quality ingredients either for neighborhood locals or, when the situation calls for it, high level dignitaries. But then I'm getting into backstory from the comic book. As far as "Le Grand Chef" is concerned, Seong-chan's main goal is to become the victor in a national cooking competition, establishing himself as the true inheritor of a legendary cooking master long defeated by the Japanese Occupation...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Runaway From Home" + DVD Giveaway

2016/12/24 | | Permalink

Seong-hee (played by Ji Jin-hee) is a music critic who's a bit of a snobbish jerk. Observe how he requests a divorce from his wife Yeong-sin (played by Kim Yeo-jin) in a public context, and is then hilariously upended by her own inconsiderate plans ahead of time that Seong-hee failed to properly acknowledge. A pity Seong-hee's not as smart as he thinks. So it is that Seong-hee must team up with his best friend Dong-min (played by Yang Ik-joon), who as Yeong-sin's ex-boyfriend, has a few leads...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 7

2016/12/23 | | Permalink

So even though Eun-tak can see the sword for some reason she can't touch it, which leaves the plot of "Goblin" at an impasse, save for all the warm fuzzies prompted at the last cliffhanger. Once more the drama presents us with an unfortunate dilemma. Do we act annoyed because all of the magical rules seem to be made up as they go along, or do we allow ourselves to be wrapped up in the inherent prettiness of frozen snowfall?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 12

2016/12/22 | | Permalink

As a strict continuation of the last episode this installment of "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" is fairly fun. Joon-hyeong makes good use of his cheat sheet to try and get closer to Bok-joo. Note how Bok-joo herself seems completely oblivious to all of this, having apparently managed to forget her own list in short order. Which does admittedly explain why she went to the trouble of writing it down in the first place. Poor Bok-joo. She's filled with cuteness, yet almost entirely lacking in common sense...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 12

2016/12/22 | | Permalink

"The Legend of the Blue Sea" is digging into the heart of the conflict, joining the past and present and their parallel happenings. Ma Dae-yeong and his Joseon incarnation are finally beginning to feel dangerous as they directly affect the well-being of Cheong and starry-eyed suitor.

For the first time, the presence of a murderer has felt scary and for the first time the show has really made use of Sung Dong-il as an actor....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 11

2016/12/21 | | Permalink

The key to episode 11 of "The Legend of the Blue Sea" is listening. Joon-jae can hear Cheong's mermaid voice although she doesn't realize that he can, which leads to many insights on his part. He starts to really listen to what she speaks and is attentive to what she does in order to really be there for her. It can be excessive, but it does allow Lee Min-ho to be ridiculously adorable....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Seven First Kisses" Episodes 1-4

2016/12/21 | | Permalink

Soo-jin (played by Lee Cho-hee) works at the Lotte Duty Free store and laments having hit her twenty-fifth birthday without ever having received a first kiss. Then Choi Ji-woo pops up with a magical solution to Soo-jin's dilemma. This ends up involving the seven male models who represent the Lotte Duty Free Store- Lee Joon-gi, Park Hae-jin, and Ji Chang-wook feature in this set of episodes. Kai, Taecyeon, Lee Jong-suk, and Lee Min-ho will appear later on. For contractual reasons, no doubt...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 14

2016/12/21 | | Permalink

Love is in the air in episode fourteen of "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim", which is a far better thing to have airborne than MERS. The crisis is resolved and Seo-jeong has to make some decisions on her feelings. In-beom's bluff is called and Teacher Kim gives the young man some honest advice. The episode brings back familiar faces, but it also adds a new mysterious figure and probable enemy of Doldam and Teacher Kim...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 2

2016/12/21 | | Permalink

The second episode of "Hwarang" was much slower than the first with the action circling around the motivation for Moo-myeong's revenge driving the plot.

Moo-myeong spends most of the episode looking very handsome with even better hair and very, very distraught over the lost of his friend, the cameo from Lee Kwang-soo-I...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 11

2016/12/21 | | Permalink

Bok-joo's rebound ends up going a lot more cheerfully than I was expecting. Aside from the whole dream of being a champion weightlifter, Bok-joo has plenty of other ambitions in life, too. She's just never had the time for them, and mer mood perks up considerably upon having gotten the opportunity to try something new. Bok-joo's athletic ability is no less diminished either, since one such new interest involves putting her weightlifting skills to good practical use...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Solomon's Perjury" Episode 2

2016/12/20 | | Permalink

The plot thickens in a delightfully twisted way in episode two of "Solomon's Perjury" as we discover there is more to the witness than meets the eye. The press becomes involved and now the parents are distrusting the school and the police. A mysterious online figure named the Jeong-guk Sentinel resurfaces in the school and Ji-hoon's role in all of this becomes more complicated...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 1

2016/12/20 | | Permalink

"Hwarang" is in every way as fun and lively as it was promoted to be. There is a touch of gravity to even out the levity and many of the flower boys have been introduced. Director Yoon Seong-sik ("Bridal Mask", "Lee Soon-sin is the Best", "The King's Face") delivers fresh cinematography while drama special writer Park Eun-yeong-I definitely has a touch for trendy dialogue and writing.

Park Seo-joon is charming as Moo-myeong is as charming as always with a touch of comedic...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 10

2016/12/20 | | Permalink

Moo-sam (played by Lee Jae-yong-I) is the new acting chairman of the Park family's conglomerate, and it is with her political maneuvering to make this possible that I-kyeong has finally managed to advance major substantative change in the high level corporate power dynamics of "Night Light". Moo-il (played by Jung Han-yong), the former chairman and Gun-woo's father, is down but not out. And it looks like I-kyeong is counting on it...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 13

2016/12/19 | | Permalink

Episode thirteen of "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" tackles the highly dangerous MERS and the responsibility medical care professionals carry in such potential outbreak situations. Sadly, the episode also uses this serious topic to kick its romance into a forced high gear through the heavy hand of danger. Doldam is in major trouble and someone I thought we knew makes a horrible decision and betrays a colleague...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 9

2016/12/19 | | Permalink

I-kyeong's plan somewhat manages to come into focus this episode, and to the drama's credit it is a mostly logical escalation of all we've seen I-kyeong do so far. Rather than act in an apparently decisive manner, I-kyeong intends to needle all the antagonistic presences into going after each other. Considering how many of them are genuinely horrible people, all I-kyeong is really doing is conspiring to get them into the same room and destroy each other. Then, presumably, I-kyeong will pick up all the pieces...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Solomon's Perjury" Episode 1

2016/12/19 | | Permalink

"Solomon's Perjury" wastes no time, as we dive right in to the death of the young student and the impact it has on everyone around him. Suspects are abundant and so are accomplices and victims. Episode one takes its time in introducing our main characters, their personalities and their families. There are a lot of nuanced roles here and the mystery is off to a very good and exciting start...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.12.16 ~ 2016.12.18

2016/12/19 | | Permalink

"Pandora" retains pole position in the aftermath of political unrest...

Park Jeong-woo's thriller "Pandora" retained pole position during its second weekend out by capturing 42.8% of the sales; the film, Park's fourth after "Dance With The Wind", "Big Bang", and "Deranged", added a million admissions to move its total tally now to 3.1 million, or $20.9 million. The film's release is timely given the recent political unrest in the country, which led Maggie Lee, Variety's Chief Asia Film Critic, to write that, "Korean audiences will surely wonder how the lines between parody, fiction, and reality are blurred"....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 14

2016/12/18 | | Permalink

The torture never ends when working with Yeong-bin and his two most trusted people are starting to realize it. Ho-jin's work is getting harder and the things he has to do for it risk his weighing heavily on his conscience. While Joon and Turtle are off having awkward romances, Eun-gap and Ho-jin bear the weight of Yeong-bin's decisions and the time has come for the young man to face them...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 6

2016/12/17 | | Permalink

So in what context would a person ever say "Welcome to Quebec"? That's the kind of thing a person might say at the airport, greeting someone who just got into the country. But at a restaurant? And why English rather than French? Although really, I should probably just be grateful that the production team managed to find a foreign actor who could say a simple line without screwing it up somehow...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shopping King Louis"

2016/12/17 | | Permalink

The romantic comedy genre is a place of comfort for audiences. It is a place where a couple can be happy and with few problems, but also one where life is easier for everyone. Romantic comedy has had its ups and downs in Korean drama, and the industry's love for the melodramatic has been an issue. "Shopping King Louis" is a series which aims for genre purity...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 13

2016/12/17 | | Permalink

"Im Hwa-soo" is finally in pre-production, but the troubles of Yeong-bin and his "Entourage" do not end there, as they need to work with the film's peculiar director, who even surpasses Yeong-bin in flimsy behavior. Meanwhile Eun-gap tries to gather up more actors for his agency, but he worries over a notorious playboy's condition to have Joy as his manager. That is when Idea's CEO enters and threatens the group's working life once more...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Sound of Your Heart" (TV Version) Episode 2

2016/12/17 | | Permalink

This repackaging of the web drama contains episodes nine, ten, eleven and twelve along with two new stories (four equivalent episodes). The first is a parody of "The New World" wherein Seok and his father engage in an elaborate gang scheme revolving around the high stakes world of...fried chicken restaurants. The second concerns Jeong-kwon's obsession with a man who is coincidentally wearing her husband's olde time outfit, while apparently cheating on her...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love for a Thousand More" Episodes 5-7

2016/12/17 | | Permalink

Joon-woo is starting to warm up to Mi-jo. That she gave him useful advice is the main immediate factor facilitating the thaw in their relationship. Joon-woo is still as generally clueless as ever, though, unaware that Yeon-ji (played by Kim Hee-jung-I) has been petitioning for some romance with him yet never makes any kind of headway. Meanwhile, Hyeong-sik (played by Kim Jin-woo-III), reacts to the ongoing situation with four character Chinese proverbs. Which is a good gimmick, albeit one that's pretty much impossible to translate into English...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Birth of a Married Woman" Episodes 5-7

2016/12/17 | | Permalink

For whatever reason this week's episodes of "Birth of a Married Woman are much shorter than the first ones. The general themes remain well intact. First it's discussions of wedding dresses. And I have to admit, it did not occur to me that there was such sheer variety in the different kinds of wedding dresses available. But alas, I am a man so like Cheol-soo, I don't have that great an emotional reaction to wedding dresses, instead eschewing emotional reactions for generally boring practicality...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Shinsukki Blues" + DVD Giveaway

2016/12/17 | | Permalink

Seok-gi (played by Lee Jong-hyuk) is a hot shot lawyer who's a bit of an arrogant jerk. Seok-gi is the kind of guy who thinks he has friends because people are polite to him, and therefore, why bother making new friends? Consider how upon receiving a birthday present from Jin-yeong (played by Kim Hyun-joo), Seok-gi never stops to wonder why no one else gives him birthday presents. Then, Seok-gi meets the other Seok-gi (played by Lee Jong-hyuk) and, well, that's where life starts to get weird...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Mister Socrates" + DVD Giveaway

2016/12/17 | | Permalink

Dong-hyeok (played by Kim Rae-won) is a common street thug who is more skilled than most when it comes to the fine art of using physical intimidation and coercion to make other such hooligans do what he wants. Alas, all fun times must inevitably come to an end, and so Dong-hyeok comes under the tutelage of a nefarious criminal enterprise whose primary objective is to...force Dong-hyeok to get a decent education. Through physical intimidation and coercion, when necessary...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Big Bang" + DVD Giveaway

2016/12/17 | | Permalink

An ordinary man by the name of Man-su (played by Kam Woo-seong)  makes his living as an office worker and even in free time has a very extreme aversion to risk. Alas, the modern world does not look kindly upon people who play it safe. Few social crimes are worse than being a person who does not have fun. After his initial outburst of civil disobedience Man-su meets ne'er do well Cheul-gone (played by Kim Soo-ro) and then, well, things just get progressively worse and worse...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 5

2016/12/16 | | Permalink

So the absence of names for the lead characters finally becomes an issue. Eun-tak seems to have only just now figured out that "Goblin" is just a nickname she came up with. I'm not sure he even actually is a goblin, come to think of it. Meanwhile Sunny (played by Yoo In-na) is in the awkward position of being the Grim Reaper's love interest yet they can't have even the most rudimentary of conversations. So naturally, their scenes go nowhere, much as Eun-tak's part-time job as Sunny's sole employee at a chronically empty restaurant also go nowhere...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 10

2016/12/16 | | Permalink

Cheong's presence amongst the humans is causing quite a stir along with Dam-ryeong's clever intervention in Joon-jae's life. Around the couple, people are starting to cotton on that things aren't quite as they should be as the mermaid's otherworldly nature becomes more evident....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Justice Team" Episodes 3-4 Final

2016/12/16 | | Permalink

The second, and apparently final, case of "Justice Team" involves two small children who are clearly experiencing some form of physical abuse yet are completely unwilling to finger the only apparent suspect responsible for their injures- their father. Once again no obvious hard evidence presents itself. For awhile all the team really has to go on is circumstantial evidence. Then, by sheer dumb luck, they get exactly what's necessary to present a case and lock up the bad guy...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 10

2016/12/15 | | Permalink

Following an epic victory that should have been the high point of Bok-joo's life to date, instead she slips into an apparently hopeless funk. The exact cause of Bok-joo's state of depression is not so relevant as its apparently being insoluble . Even Joon-hyeong's normally peppey personality can't solve the problem, so this fairly downbeat episode of "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" ends the only way it can- with the drama having finally gained some clear and somewhat alarming conflicts...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 12

2016/12/14 | | Permalink

The battle between the two hospitals rages on and Dong-joo finds himself in another dilemma over his latest patient. Things only become worse when a past mistake makes a haunting return and bares Dong-joo's shame for everyone to see. Different people give the young doctor their opinion and try to push him toward the right decision while Teacher Kim chooses to once again observe and respect his pupils' personal decisions...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Justice Team" Episodes 1-2

2016/12/14 | | Permalink

In the city of Goyang, crimes involving family, women, or children are handled by Min-hyeok (played by Han Sang-jin), the head of an investigative team responsible for official inquiries into such matters. These kinds of crimes tend to be fairly lurid- and yet "Justice Team" is a surprisingly down-to-earth drama about the technical details involved with criminal prosecution. The actual case at the center of the first two episodes isn't even particularly racy, being more of a sexual assault case than explicit rape...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 9

2016/12/14 | | Permalink

Bok-joo has humiliated herself for the last time. Well no, not really, that's just what it feels like because there is no humiliation in the world worse than being outed as a liar in front of the person you have a crush on. The weird part is that Jae-i is genuinely completely indifferent to Bok-joo's bizarre behavior. The terror on Bok-joo's face is just so telling- the poor girl simply can't grasp the idea that an attractive man could be impressed by the fact that she is an ace weightlifter...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 9

2016/12/14 | | Permalink

Sometimes all a man needs in life is the steadfast presence of someone who doesn't leave when the going gets tough. For Joon-jae, a man who was abandoned by his family in his youth, the unwavering devotion of mermaid Cheong gives him the strength to get through the tough times....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 11

2016/12/13 | | Permalink

There is little peace to be found for Doldam Hospital ever since the new staff arrived, and things keep escalating for the worse. A very delicate situation forms when the military becomes involved with a patient and Seo-jeong faces the threat of a lawsuit by the family of the DUI perpetrator. Meanwhile Teacher Kim tries to keep everything under control and observe how his two most trusted pupils react to the power games...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 8

2016/12/13 | | Permalink

Tak (played by Jung Hae-in) works for I-kyeong's crew as the general errand guy- driving, fights, what have you. He gets annoyed enough this episode to briefly take his fortunes elsewhere, as I-kyeong's vaguely antagonistic behavior has been starting to frustrate him. Tak is the character I empathize with the most at this point, because I too would rather be doing something else right this moment instead of trying to keep track of "Night Light"'s glacial pacing...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Man In My House" Episode 16 Final

2016/12/13 | | Permalink

I like the music in "The Man In My House". Well, the happy stuff anyway. When Na-ri and Nan-gil are being cute with each other, the sound design is a lot of what helps prevent the scenes from feeling actively confrontational, which really, they are a lot of the time. Compared to when they flirt and when they really fight, the main difference in tone with the Na-ri/Nan-gil relationship is decided by the musical cues. My preference has always been for the comedic ones, because the dramatic scenes just drag...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 7

2016/12/12 | | Permalink

And so, once again, I-kyeong's elaborate plan...doesn't really start just yet. We're still in the phase of manipulations so incredibly subtle it's impossible to guess what I-kyeong is trying to do in the short term, let alone the long. The woman has a pretty insane sense of patience. I-kyeong wants the job done right or she doesn't want it done at all- hence the (hopefully) final test where I-kyeong determines just how much resolve Se-jin has in the face of impossible odds...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Man In My House" Episode 15

2016/12/12 | | Permalink

Seong-gyoo (played by Noh Yeong-gook) is Na-ri's long time absentee father who has for some nefarious reason chosen to try and re-enter Na-ri's life. Na-ri, as is typical, responds to Seong-gyoo's intrusion with sensible mistrust. Na-ri will hear Seong-gyoo out and even help him as necessary but in the end, she's not changing any serious decisions just because of Seong-gyoo's weak politicking. That's part of the trouble with having such a sensible heroine- Na-ri evades danger before it even happens, making for a less than exciting drama...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Wife is Having an Affair" Episode 9

2016/12/12 | | Permalink

Coming full circle is the theme of this episode of "My Wife is Having and Affair". Soo-yeon has to suffer the consequences of living along, social stigma at work, and the emotional repercussion of cheating. Yoon-gi is finding it difficult to keep up with his many affairs. And Hyeon-woo, despite being the wronged party also sees how his actions contributed to the unhappy marriage.

With all of the aftereffects of cheating reaping their results, the different plot threads begin to get juicier...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.12.09 ~ 2016.12.11

2016/12/12 | | Permalink

"Pandora"'s box office run starts strong...

In the aftermath of the country's political unrest, Park Jeong-woo's thrilling disaster film, "Pandora", entered the fray and shot straight to pole position by capturing 45.5% of the box office pie. The film, Park's fourth after "Dance With The Wind" (2004), "Big Bang" (2007" and "Deranged" (2012), sold 1.1 million admissions across 1,166 screens to dislodge last weekend's number one, Kwon Soo-kyeong's family drama "My Annoying Brother"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 12

2016/12/11 | | Permalink

Careers are booming in episode twelve of "Entourage", but Joon's has become the most stable one. After a dare, Turtle accepts a job as his manager, but the new star has tough mentoring to give. Meanwhile Eun-gap tries to help Yeong-bin while the latter continues doubting his choice to leave his agent. Ok-ja is relentless and I have a feeling we have yet to see how far she can go in order to win...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 11

2016/12/10 | | Permalink

Yeong-bin is going through another break up, but this time it is with Eun-gap as his agent. Episode eleven of "Entourage" is all about how the two men cope with the end of a long partnership, with Eun-gap obviously being the one shaken more. As Yeong-bin goes between potential agents and Eun-gap deals with his loss, Joon has his own little crisis when his manhood endangers his variety show filming...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 4

2016/12/10 | | Permalink

Of all the weird unexplained elements in "Goblin", the one I most consistenly get hung up on is how director Lee Eung-bok is able to pull off such radical scene transitions without creating any tonal whiplash. One minute the Goblin is calm and cool as usual, unwilling to let on to Eun-tak that he is in the slightest bit surprised by what she does or does not know. The next minute, the Goblin is breathing heavily in front of his mortal enemy, the Grim Reaper, because girls are scary...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Birth of a Married Woman" Episodes 1-4

2016/12/10 | | Permalink

Yeong-hee (played by Yoon Seung-ah) is pushing thirty and starting to feel old- after all, isn't everyone supposed to be married by that point? Then, like a champ, her longtime boyfriend Cheol-soo (played by Lee Joon-hyuk) casually broaches a completely serious proposition of marriage, and so the planning begins. With it, Yeong-hee and Cheol-soo both work to answer that all too critical question- what exactly is involved with planning a wedding anyway?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love for a Thousand More" Episodes 1-4

2016/12/10 | | Permalink

Mi-jo (played by Hwang Seung-eon) is an immortal fortuneteller. Mi-jo has lived through many indignities through life- mostly in the form of being interrupted right before she's about to start a hearty meal. But her latest problem is the loud hip-hop crew living in the apartment upstairs from her. Joon-woo (played by Kang Seung-yoon) leads this crew. While generally taciturn, Joon-woo has odd moments of seeming to recognize Mi-jo- perhaps as a matter of destiny?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Houseguest and My Mother" + DVD Giveaway

2016/12/10 | | Permalink

Duk-geun (played by Jeong Joon-ho) is a low-level crook who chances upon a fantastic opportunity when an old woman comes to his office requesting the services of a private investigator. Meanwhile, Ok-hee (played by Ko Eun-ah) is a teenage girl who deals with the usual teenage girl problems of trouble with peers and an embarrassing mother, Hye-ju (played by Kim Won-hee), who looks young enough to be Ok-hee's sister. Well, at least that's what it says in the script. Kim Won-hee was thirty five when "The Houseguest and My Mother" came out, but her character is supposed to look under thiry...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Changing Partners" + DVD Giveaway

2016/12/10 | | Permalink

Yoo-na (played by Uhm Jung-hwa) is a generally cranky fashion consultant with a laidback upbeat hotelier husband by the name of Min-jae (played by Park Yong-woo). By chance, they meet a younger couple. Yeong-joon (played by Lee Dong-gun) is a rude businessman with a reputation for accomplishment whereas his wife So-yeo (played by Han Chae-young) works with lighting, and enjoys the small beauties in life. If you thought these couples are mismatched, worry not. Before long the couples themselves also see the irony, and go about the process of "Changing Partners"...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Underground Rendez-vous" + DVD Giveaway

2016/12/10 | | Permalink

Following the Japanese surrender in World War II, American and Soviet forces, for geopolitical reasons that didn't make much sense even at the time, created an arbitrary demarcation line splitting the Korean peninsula into two pieces. Overnight, people from nearby villages, family members even, were not allowed to contact each other. "Underground Rendez-vous" has a promising start with this set-up then quickly moves all the focus to a romance between luckless traveler Yeong-tan (played by Im Chang-jeong) and local woman Seon-mi (played by Park Jin-hee)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 3

2016/12/09 | | Permalink

Upon further consideration I've decided that "Goblin" really is, in fact, mostly just a drama about the Goblin and the Grim Reaper sniping at each other pettily like an old married couple for the rest of eternity. If their eternal life is punishment for some awful misdeed, I would say it is working as intended. Neither the Goblin nor the Grim Reaper have any apparent reason for existing save for to meddle in each other's lives...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Sound of Your Heart" (TV Version) Episode 1

2016/12/09 | | Permalink

For technical reasons quite beyond me, "The Sound of Your Heart" has ceased being a web drama and is now being aired in repackaged form on late night Korean television. The first episode comprises what would be eight webtoon episodes. Aside from editing differences, the first, second, seventh and eighth episodes are more or less the same. The introduction to Seok, his idiot family, and Ae-bong- are largely unchanged. The new stories focus more on characterization than comedic situations...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 8

2016/12/08 | | Permalink

Bok-joo has made her peace with her stupid idea to get close to Jae-i by pretending to be a cello player. Yet Si-ho ends up being the one who provokes the situation further, in spite of the fact that she is obviously wrong. Even more blatantly, Bok-joo could easily wallop Si-ho in a fight, yet Si-ho continues to lash out. Once again I find myself pitying Si-ho more than I do hating her. If the sad young woman had any friends she might be a tad less psychotic...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 8

2016/12/08 | | Permalink

The parallels between past and present grow greater as Joon-jae experiences flashbacks of his previous life. Parallels don't just run between past and present, but between characters. In many ways such comparisons are useful, but in this drama they are belabored. That is the great downfall of this otherwise adorable drama, it overuses plot points and cute character traits until they lose their sparkle.

Joon-jae's and Cheong's past romance, while sweet, doesn't have the insistence necessary to carry this story forward...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 10

2016/12/07 | | Permalink

We have reached the midpoint of "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" and our hospital staff has to bond and work as one more tightly than ever. Seo-jeong is back in action and she is reminded of the pain doctors have to deal with when it comes to life and death while Dong-joo and In-beom learn how to work together. This appears to be part of Teacher Kim's plan, which we will surely know more about soon...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 7

2016/12/07 | | Permalink

Bok-joo's comeuppance ends up being pretty harsh. But looking at this situation from the outside it's hard to be too angry at her authority figures. Bok-joo's childish dalliance with Jae-i's clinic is, to the people who support Bok-joo's dreams, a slap in the face. How can Bok-joo be so obviously passionate about being a world-class weightlifter, yet take part in a dieting program completely at odds with that goal?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 7

2016/12/07 | | Permalink

As the events of the present play out to mirror the past, our present day love birds fall more in love with each other via a very handy tool: jealousy. To help Cheong best utilize that tool is none other than Jo Jeong-seok who just recently finished starring in a show about jealousy, "Incarnation of Jealousy"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 9

2016/12/06 | | Permalink

Doldam Hospital becomes malpractice central in episode nine of "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" as its first big battle with Geodae reaches its climax. Seo-jeong decides to take responsibility for the mess and hands in her resignation, which sparks a journey to bring her back. Teacher Kim has his hands tied by the investigative team and Dr. Song proves useless as the particularly harsh day arrives...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 6

2016/12/06 | | Permalink

At the end of this episode I had an annoying moment of realization. Technically the story hasn't actually started yet. We're still in the set-up. I-kyeong is still "training" Se-jin who, true to form, is slow to adjust when past actions catch up to her and the younger woman is completely unsure as to the extent she can or should lie. Nothing turns out too badly but ultimately all we've learned is another important aspect of the backdrop- the rules can change, if temporarily, provided enough money changes hands...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Man In My House" Episode 14

2016/12/06 | | Permalink

The gangster plotline is resolved very quickly. Well, allegedly anyway. Na-ri does make some pretty good points when it comes to Nan-gil's extracurricular activities. It's not just that the guy disappears- the real issue is that Nan-gil consistently does so without explanation, so Na-ri doesn't have a clue how dangerous the overall situation really is. Granted, Na-ri being so out of the loop on the main plot in general is one of the more annoying issues that has plagued "The Man In My House" lately...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 14

2016/12/06 | | Permalink

The action is high in episode 14 of "Woman with a Suitcase" as guns and egos become the weapons of choice. While things are happening and the episode is fast-paced, the emotional intensity is not reflective of the activity.

The least surprising but most important happening of the episode is the Hye-joo finally went off the deep end...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Man In My House" Episode 13

2016/12/05 | | Permalink

Having solved a problem with some fairly gratutitous violence, Nan-gil quickly goes back to...sulking. It's hard to believe that for the first half of "The Man In My House" Nan-gil was the guy with the ridiculous upbeat attitude, never much caring how much he irritated the people around him so long as it was in the name of love. Not just with Na-ri, but with every other character too Nan-gil is frustratingly non-communicative and generally incapable of participating in genuine large-scale collaborative efforts...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 5

2016/12/05 | | Permalink

After a fairly dramatic cliffhanger "Night Light" fails to deliver on much of that promise this episode. The general personalities of its characters do not gain any new dimensions here. Even the big central scheme ends up being fairly lackluster, since all it really amounts to is Se-jin acting cool and confident thanks to the afterglow from I-kyeong's aura. While that's all well and good, Se-jin was able to do plenty of that before she ever even met I-kyeong...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.12.02 ~ 2016.12.04

2016/12/05 | | Permalink

Local comedy "My Annoying Brother" rises to the top amid protests...

Kwon Soo-kyeong's family comedy "My Annoying Brother" captured 30% of the box office sales to push its total tally now past the 2 million mark. The film, Kwon's second after "Barefoot Ki-bong", added 597,954 admissions from 831 screens and has now grossed $14.4 million (2.1 million admissions) since its release late last month. That means it has surpassed the 1.9 million admissions Kwon's debut film attracted back in 2006...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 10

2016/12/04 | | Permalink

Yeong-bin and his "Entourage" have been through a lot lately and so they depart to Jeju for a little reprieve and a little tourist promotion on behalf of the drama. Joon and Turtle meet an interesting woman, to put it mildly and end up in trouble as usual. Meanwhile Idea's CEO Jo has a few things to say about Yeong-bin turning his back on their production and she pushes Eun-gap to a decision which may cost him his star...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Solomon's Perjury"

2016/12/03 | | Permalink

Korean drama is not too big on the mystery genre or youth series, which means that "Solomon's Perjury" is a combination worth checking out. The series sports a cast of age-appropriate rookies in a story which will paint a less than cheerful holiday season and hopefully provide meaty content through it.


When a junior high student falls to his death, the authorities and school consider it a suicide. After receiving a tip off that the case is a murder, one student decides to lead a school trial and crack the case, going against the school's wishes for a clear wrap up of the incident...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 2

2016/12/03 | | Permalink

And so Eun-tak's magical journey of being the Goblin's bride takes her to the mystical far-off country of...Canada. Specifically, Quebec. That's, uh, that's a new one. Which pretty much marks my reaction to every scene transition in "Goblin"- they all encompass very strange ideas that are neither funny, dramatic, or even especially creative. While watching "Goblin" I frequently ask questions like, why does this drama exist? Who is the intended audience?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 9

2016/12/03 | | Permalink

Yeong-bin is going through a major crisis and being the spoiled man-baby that he is, he drags everyone down with him. His friends and agent try to understand while making the best out of the situation, but his participation in the film and his career are in danger. In light of these events, Joon feels even more pressure about succeeding with his new variety show gig and helping out...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Mapado 2" + DVD Giveaway

2016/12/03 | | Permalink

Choong-soo (played by Lee Moon-sik), always on the lookout for a big pay-off, takes on a job to locate the first love of the dying Chairman Park (played by Joo Hyun). As it happens, this mystery woman is located in the same general area as the foul-mouthed grannies from the first "Mapado" movie. And so "Mapado 2" begins, less with a promise of actually getting to the story and more rehashing the same jokes which made the first "Mapado" such a fan favorite...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Wet Dreams 2" + DVD Giveaway

2016/12/03 | | Permalink

Bong-goo (played by Lee Ji-hoon) is an attractive teacher with a horrible secret...whenever he becomes sufficiently sexually aroused, Bong-goo farts. But for this obvious flaw, Bong-goo is still chased by a bevy of girls at his new school, who are determined to make him fart. As obviously stupid as this premise is "Wet Dreams 2" manages the bizarre mistake of making itself harder to watch via character development...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Marrying the Mafia II" + DVD Giveaway

2016/12/03 | | Permalink

In Seoul, In-jae (played by Shin Hyun-joon) and Jin-kyeong (played by Kim Won-hee) are middle-aged working professionals who are not...always perfectly successful in their immediate career goals, but have overall bright futures. After meeting in circumstances too hilariously contrived for me to want to ruin, they start to date. They they inevitably run into a glaring problem- In-jae is the heir to an organized crime organization, while Jin-kyeong is a public prosecutor. What will become of them?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 1

2016/12/02 | | Permalink

Kim Sin (played by Gong Yoo) was once a mighty warrior in olden times. Then he made a series of bad decisions and became the "Goblin", a godlike being who occasionally makes friends but more typically just ends up killing bad dudes with the same generally indifferent and impersonal attitude he had toward mowing down enemies in battle. That's a good attitude to have since the first episode is filled with death to a frankly comical extent. The Grim Reaper (played by Lee Dong-wook) evidently has his work cut out for him...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Sound of Your Heart" Episodes 15-20

2016/12/02 | | Permalink

Seok is convinced that his webtoon, "The Sound of Your Heart", is an obscure failure that no one has heard of. Even ignoring the inherently strong sense of humor in the writing, the idea that no one has heard of "The Sound of Your Heart" is an obvious relic of these early stories. All the same, I love the self-deprecating vanity, especially when it inevitably results in Seok and his family inevitably acting like lunatics...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 6

2016/12/01 | | Permalink

"The Legend of the Blue Sea" takes the thread of fate and closely links past with present. The trials and tribulations of the past repeat themselves in the present. The love story does the same. While the story unfolds, the mermaid Cheong struggles through human life and Joon-jae falls more in love with her.

Most of Lee Min-ho's role in this episode was to make Joon-jae a lovesick conman...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 6

2016/12/01 | | Permalink

A brief sad look at Joon-hyeong's past gives us a good look at his personality- like the swimmer, always looking forward to the end of the race, doing his best to ignore distractions along the way. Si-ho likewise is the ideal rythmic gymnast, obsessed with perfection and kicking herself over every possible error, unwilling to tolerate the slightest setback. And Bok-joo...doesn't really have anything comparable actually. Weightlifters generally eat a lot, but Bok-joo spends most of this episode fighting against even that destiny...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 5

2016/11/30 | | Permalink

Bok-joo has been caught in a silly pointless lie. being a generally supercilious teenager, Bok-joo then does the natural thing, and simply tries to bury herself in ever more complicated layers of deceit so she can have those sweet, sweet moments of lovey-doveyness with Jae-i. While Jae-i is handsome, he's also surprisingly dumb. I like how Joon-hyeong figures out what's going on almost immediately because really, what other logical explanation can there be for Bok-joo's behavior?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 5

2016/11/30 | | Permalink

While "The Legend of the Blue Sea" is very cute, rather on the funny side, and the chemistry between Jeon Ji-hyeon and Lee Min-ho is magical, it has spiraled into a silly drama that resembles romantic fluff. Not that romantic fluff is bad. It's just that I expected more from the writer of "My Love from the Star" and "Producer".

But for what it was worth, the episode was entertaining...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 8

2016/11/29 | | Permalink

"Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" pulls a fast one on us and creates a situation which helps it make a wonderful return to the things that matter, the things that make it interesting and the things that need consideration in the world of healing. The episode explores the conflict between what a doctor feels is right and what they know is fair...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 7

2016/11/29 | | Permalink

The battle between Geodae and Doldam is as vicious as expected and I fear these conflicts may be our new reality. Gone are the days of a tight-knit group of medical rejects fighting for patients with Dong-joo's whining as the only hindrance. If power games are not enough excitement for you, how about a hostage situation? Yes, cliche gangsters are everything a medical show needs...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 4

2016/11/29 | | Permalink

We finally get some detail into Gun-woo (played by Jin Goo). Technically he's I-kyeong's love interest and rival, although that's a very misleading way to describe his character. The main obvious reason for this is that I-kyeong is stone cold and mean to everyone. She was like that even in flashback. But Gun-woo is the antithesis to I-kyeong in other ways too. He thinks constructively. Moreso in flashback, obviously. In the present day, though, Gun-woo hates the game more than he does any of the players...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Man In My House" Episode 12

2016/11/29 | | Permalink

Na-ri and Nan-gil continue to sulk. This is so disconnected from their own relationship and most of the story I actually had trouble remembering why they were so upset with each other, when the big event that caused the rift was just last episode. Now, there is the usual interference from the gangsters. Although at this point it's a wonder anyone pays attention to those guys at all. They're not even trying to hide their obvious agenda anymore, so why should anyone listen to them?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 3

2016/11/28 | | Permalink

While the literal plot is I-kyeong educating Se-jin on the finer points of what exactly is this concept we call "money", metaphorically, there's a frequently educational tinge to the presentation of "Night Light". Writer Han Ji-hoon seems to be speaking to us more than he is telling a story- and the lessons are valuable. Time and again we see that what makes the rich people in this drama powerful is precisely that they do not throw their weight around unless they absolutely have to...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Man In My House" Episode 11

2016/11/28 | | Permalink

The extended context for last episode's cliffhanger teases hope that perhaps Nan-gil and Na-ri actually discussed what she would do at trial directly. Unfortunately, that moment never comes. Nan-gil and Na-ri dance around the question of what their long-term future is going to look like, then proceed to spend the rest of the episode pretending not to care about each other while other characters try and pick up the slack...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.11.25 ~ 2016.11.27

2016/11/28 | | Permalink

"Fantastic Beasts" holds out against "My Annoying Brother"...

The British-American fantasy flick "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" narrowly maintained pole position over Kwon Soo-kyeong's incoming family comedy, "My Annoying Brother". Last weekend J.K. Rowling's adaptation of her own work appeared and captured 68% of the sales (1.4 million admissions), and during its second week out this Harry Potter spin-off added another 895,990 stubs (45%) to bring its bottom line now to $24.7 million (3.4 million admissions). Worldwide, this week's number one has grossed $473.7 million...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 8

2016/11/27 | | Permalink

Well, it took half a series for "Entourage" to provide relatable content and it mostly comes from Eun-gap and Cho Jin-woong's performance, but I will take any comfort at this point. Our prickly agent goes through a big change and his top actor has relationship woes. Ho-jin has his hands full between dating and Yeong-bin's scandal and Joon goes through an identity crisis, so it is chaos all around...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Seven Days" + DVD Giveaway

2016/11/26 | | Permalink

Ji-yeon (played by Kim Yoon-jin) is an ace attorney who is also a loving, if somewhat busy mother. Then, for "Seven Days", Ji-yeon is forced to search the world upside-down to solve an intense high-action mystery that has nothing to do with her. And it all happens so fast. One scene it's happy smiles and the next it's vehicular action then emotional wailing then clandestine meetings with rabid dogs and chase scenes and mental institutions and wow, you can just feel the adrenaline right now through the words of this review can't you?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Black House" + DVD Giveaway

2016/11/26 | | Permalink

Joon-oh (played by Hwang Jeong-min) is an insurance agent still reeling from childhood trauma. At home life with his girlfriend Mi-na (played by Kim Seo-hyeong) is pretty much all right, but alas, Joon-oh is kind of dumb and fails to properly take to heart the first rule of insurance claim adjusting- never tells clients details about your actual life. Although admittedly, whoever drafted that rule probably did not anticipate that the company's insurance agents would go through the procession of body horror that is the "Black House"...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Voice of a Murderer" + DVD Giveaway

2016/11/26 | | Permalink

The time is the early nineties. Kyeong-bae (played by Sul Kyung-gu) is a national news anchor who lives a busy, albeit largely unremarkable life with his wife Ji-seon (played by Kim Nam-joo) as they suss out generally boring domestic problems. This is all thrown into an uproar with the intrusion of a mysterious phone call from That Guy (voiced by Gang Dong-won), who makes vague unsubstantiated threats. Really, after a certain point, it seems like That Guy is just a bit of a sadistic jerk...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 7

2016/11/25 | | Permalink

Yeong-bin continues to be careless and irresponsible with his career and now So-hee joins in on the behavior giving everyone a headache. Joon and Turtle get themselves in trouble as usual, but they briefly reflect on their situation and life circumstances as well. Meanwhile Eun-gap tries to warn Ho-jin about the possible scandal Yeong-bin's secret dating can cause while still stressing over co-president Kang's shady movements in their company...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 4

2016/11/24 | | Permalink

"The Legend of the Blue Sea" isn't an overly complex story. Unlike "My Love from the Star" it is a a little light on deeper plot development. The action moves forward as does the romance, but this drama seems more about light enjoyment (despite heavy subject matter) than serious plot exploration. There is nothing wrong with such a drama. In fact, it's welcome, especially when Jeon Ji-hyeon and her penchant for comedy are involved.

That said, Jeon Ji-hyeon and her spot on comedic acting can't save a lack of clean direction...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 4

2016/11/24 | | Permalink

Now flush with cash Bok-joo begins her ill-advised plan to try and get Jae-i to like her by providing him with money. I'm just relieved we know that Jae-i is genuinely a nice guy who has no clue what Bok-joo's actual incomprehensible motives are. In a way it's sad watching Bok-joo make herself suffer so much for the sake of an obviously unrequited crush. And yet Bok-joo is so awash in comedic tension it never really feels like we're laughing at Bok-joo- just empathizing with how yes, we too have been that stupid at times in life...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Something About 1% - 2016" Episode 16 - Final

2016/11/24 | | Permalink

At long last, through all their trials and tribulations, Jae-in and Da-hyeon are together and inseparable. It should come as little surprise that Da-hyeon's parents are the only real remaining obstacle, mainly because they're the only ones who haven't gotten a chance to participate in the plot yet. But even that doesn't last long, because Jae-in is not joking at all when it comes to sheer determination- even when it requires he do something rather out of character...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 3

2016/11/23 | | Permalink

No matter how much the mermaid tries to stay away from her Joon-jae, fate in this tightly woven fabric of fantasy always leads him to her, or she to him. Oftentimes convenient coincidences are the product of lazy writing. In "The Legend of the Blue Sea" it tells the story of two lovers who fate transcends time and circumstance. Not only is it romantic, but it's fun, cool, and full of the opportunity for Jeon Ji-hyeon to time and time again prove herself the genius comedienne that she is.

Episode 3 is comprised of three plot threads during three periods of time in our main characters' lives or the lives of their incarnations...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 3

2016/11/23 | | Permalink

Jae-i (played by Lee Jae-yoon-I) is Joon-hyeong's handsomer and more accomplished elder brother, who works as a physical therapist. Bok-joo engages Jae-i in conversation by bringing Argentenian soccer player. OK, OK, Bok-joo's an idiot, we already knew that. But Jae-i's reaction is what's most telling. While Lee Jae-yoon-I's main screen presence here is as a figment of Bok-joo's imagination, interestingly enough, the real Jae-i too is touched simply by the fact that someone asked him a personal question for once...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Something About 1% - 2016" Episodes 14-15

2016/11/23 | | Permalink

With the main antagonistic presence in "Something About 1% - 2016" shunted out of the picture, all that remains is the question of Jae-in and Da-hyeon completing the terms of their contract and permanently separating. Why is it necessary for them to separate, given that they have obviously grown into working mutual affection during the contract's duration? Well, mostly because Jae-in and Da-hyeon are equally stupidly stubborn when it comes to talking about their feelings...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 6

2016/11/22 | | Permalink

Episode six of "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" brings big changes. Teacher Kim's plans are still not entirely clear, but his personal demons start to show as Yoon-wan closes in on the hospital. The Teacher and Dong-joo become so busy with their personal plans and persistent enemies that they irresponsibly leave the hospital at the same time, forcing Myeong-sim, Seo-jeong and the staff to take desperate measures...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Man In My House" Episode 10

2016/11/22 | | Permalink

After the big confrontation we find out the evidence is ambiguous and unreliable. So Na-ri and Nan-gil stop caring and discuss a more pressing matter- if the bad guys' plan involves annulling Nan-gil's marriage to Na-ri's mother, is that good since it means Na-ri is no longer dating her stepfather? It's times like this that "The Man In My House" feels like two completely different plots. One has a gangster conspiracy. The other is a bog standard romance...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 2

2016/11/22 | | Permalink

Se-jin is pretty well-seduced by the glamorous cool promised through I-kyeong's slick in-charge attitude. Of course, this predictably goes badly because really, if the job was so easy I-kyeong would have just done it herself. So what we're left is a tense and frightening hostage situation as Se-jin desperately tries to negotiate herself out of certain disaster. I-kyeong's hilariously blasé reaction to the entire sordid affair is, unsurprisingly, pretty enraging. At least until Se-jin gets back to her normal job...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 5

2016/11/21 | | Permalink

Teacher Kim's past is finally revealed and his enemies close in on Doldam Hospital. Dong-joo becomes determined to learn from his unwilling mentor, but takes on more than he can handle to impress and follow him. Seo-jeong tries her best at her new job, but her routine is shaken by a surprising fan whose motives are still a mystery and whose involvement is worrisome...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Wife is Having an Affair" Episode 8

2016/11/21 | | Permalink

This episode of "My Wife Is Having an Affair" is about timing and about support. A lot of mishaps come because of untapped opportunities, but those who choose to decide and move forward reap the rewards of doing so.

The clearest case of accepting and moving on is Joon-yeong...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Man In My House" Episode 9

2016/11/21 | | Permalink

Even when the story's not moving forward in "The Man In My House", it's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of character relationships. Weirdly enough, these tend to be centered around pretty much everyone who is not Na-ri, who remains largely oblivious to everything that happens around her. We find out this is a longstanding condition, since apparently important information regarding Na-ri's father was withheld from her because...yeah, I can't come up with any satisfactory reason...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 1

2016/11/21 | | Permalink

I-kyeong (played by Lee Yo-won) is a brutally tough businesswoman. Se-jin (played by UEE) is a street tough who's good at business. Together they...have an antagonistic countenance as part and parcel of an ominous flashforward before the action rewinds to a week earlier. It's fairly evident that "Night Light" is planning to toss us into the middle of a high-stakes upper class financial war, but as of yet, the exact motivations of its characters are left unclear...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Wife is Having an Affair" Episode 7

2016/11/21 | | Permalink

Emotions are unveiled as guilt takes hold of Soo-yeon and renders her paralyzed. Hyeon-woo is still unable to shake his anger at her, but he's starting to think more about his role in their marriage. The other characters are starting to face problems and changes of their own and with that, we finally delve into the knitty gritty of "My Wife Is Having an Affair".

Perhaps the most important development of this episode is that Soo-yeon is thinking about her affair, her family, and how they should function in the future...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.11.11 ~ 2016.11.13

2016/11/21 | | Permalink

J.K. Rowling's screenwriting debut summons the masses with magic...

David Yates's fantasy flick "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" arrived in Korea last Wednesday and dethroned a weary "Doctor Strange" at the top of the pile. For the past three weeks, Marvel's mind-bending spectacle has been riding high in the Land of the Morning Calm, but this new magical storm from Warner Bros. Pictures has sent the doctor down a few notches by summoning plenty fresh feet to Korea's big screens...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 6

2016/11/20 | | Permalink

Yeong-bin, his entourage and the entire production of his film have to deal with the aftermath of the star's confession to So-hee as he goes back into one of his moodswings defined by lack of professionalism. There is more tension between him and Ho-jin as the latter tries to handle the mess. Meanwhile Joon lands a role, but feels overpowered by a child actor, who also happens to be dating a furious Eun-gap's daughter...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 12

2016/11/20 | | Permalink

No sooner than Geum-joo passes her first exam and is well on her road to being a lawyer than she is given the huge challenge of defending Bok-geo, investigating Min-ah's case, and learning the huge difference between being a brilliant woman behind the scenes and one who stands up in a court room.

Although the legal aspect of the show is exciting, it is also somewhat contrived...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 13

2016/11/20 | | Permalink

The battle between Golden Tree and Oh Sung escalates to new highs. Hye-joo completely crosses over to the dark side, Bok-geo is convicted, and Geum-joo is forced to choose between her career and safety and defending those she has sworn to protect.

More intriguing than Geum-joo this episode is Hye-joo, who has completely fallen off the deep end with the pressures put on her by Oh Sung...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The K2"

2016/11/19 | | Permalink

Writer Jang Hyeok-rin enjoyed great success with drama "Yong Pal", but the work was an incredible mess in terms of overall quality and especially writing. Armed with a cable station and more time to work with, the writer makes a return with "The K2". The action and suspense series is a definite improvement from the disaster called "Yong Pal", but is that enough to call it good...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Wife is Having an Affair" Episode 5

2016/11/19 | | Permalink

For the first time, we get to peek into Soo-yeon's mind and witness her heartfelt reaction to how her affair has hurt her family. Oblivious to her pain, Hyeon-woo stews in his and begins to boil over, spreading his misery to those around him. The other characters experience their own relationship pain and joys that all add witty commentary to the central conceit.

It is Soo-yeon who was the most intriguing of all...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Wife is Having and Affair" Episode 6

2016/11/19 | | Permalink

"My Wife Is Having an Affair" delves past the shock of the revelation and explores the aftereffects of cheating. Hyeon-woo and Soo-yeon still haven't had a real conversation and it is making for a lot of pent up anger and even more misunderstanding. As always, it's hard to blame Hyeon-woo as the one who was betrayed, but his word choice is absolutely poisonous when speaking with Soo-yeon.

She seems to want to right the wrongs she's made, especially after the wife of her affair confronts her with "What you did wasn't romance. It was wronging a family....More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Sound of Your Heart" Episodes 9-14

2016/11/19 | | Permalink

Bong-i (played by Jung So-min) is Seok's soon-to-be-girlfriend and eventual wife. For the ninth and tenth episodes of "The Sound of Your Heart", though, the drama explores their existing relationship and backstory. It should come as little surprise that Seok's memory of their first encounter is...inaccurate. But as usual "The Sound of Your Heart" brilliantly blends subtle clichés with explicit visual gags, resulting in constantly shifting expectations that create some pretty incredible laughs...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Table"

2016/11/19 | | Permalink

Every time two people go to a cafe to have a chat, there is always that one element that's all too easy to forget- "The Table", on which they put their coffee. It is from the vantage point of "The Table" that we are treated to four vignettes where Jung Yu-mi, Jeong Eun-chae, Han Ye-ri, and Im Soo-jung are left awkwardly negotiating what they want in life from boyfriends past and present who know surprisingly little about their women...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Office"

2016/11/19 | | Permalink

Byeong-gook (played by Bae Seong-woo) is a normal manager at a normal company who one day inexplicably comes home and does something rather awful. Detective Jong-hoon (played by Park Sung-woong) stakes out Byeong-gook's office in the hopes of sussing out a motive. Unfortunately, everyone is rather unhelpful in giving useful answers to his questions save for intern Mi-rye (played by Go Ah-sung), an intern who is not terribly popular with her co-workers for ill-defined social reasons...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "You Call It Passion"

2016/11/19 | | Permalink

Ra-hee (played by Park Bo-young) is a rookie reporter in the entertainment press. Jae-gwan (played by Jeong Jae-yeong) is her exceptionally tough editor, constantly barking orders at Ra-hee to make sure she gets the job done right. Together, they do important investigative journalism...about celebrities. Yes, the stakes in "You Call It Passion" are relatively low, and the eventual movement of the plot toward an exposé about a false accusation doesn't really do much to up the ante...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Summer in Ibaraki"

2016/11/19 | | Permalink

In Japan there is a massive countrywide cultural performance competition for high school students. Ethnically Korean Japanese schools also participate, although their definition of cultural performance differs somewhat from those of their Japanese peers. Kunkuk High School, located in Osaka, has an especially intensive program, and have consequently been chosen to represent Osaka in the thirty-fifth annual competition. "The Summer in Ibaraki" is their story...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 5

2016/11/18 | | Permalink

"Entourage" continues to move forward in its slice-of-life way and this time things get more personal than business and industry related. Yeong-bin has a problem with Kang Ha-neul possibly working with So-hee in their film and Eun-gap is about to be stabbed in the back by his mentor. Meanwhile Joon and Turtle continue to be Joon and Turtle, living a life of immaturity and blaming it on bad luck...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 2

2016/11/17 | | Permalink

While I certainly wasn't expecting "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" to get to the romance right away, I also wasn't expecting Joon-hyeong to sabotage his relationship with Bok-joo quite so spectacularly. His attempts to be cute and endearing fail miserably because Joon-hyeong somehow does not understand what words mean. What makes this even funnier is that initially there seems to be merit to Bok-joo's assumption that Joon-hyeong is a jerk but no, further exposition makes it clear that Joon-hyeong really is just that stupid...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 2

2016/11/17 | | Permalink

"The Legend of the Blue Sea" is starting out strong, beating its pre-produced predecessor "Descendants of the Sun" in ratings. Although the story still hasn't proceeded very far, the dialogue is charming, wittily delivered, and the ten minute long chase scenes are overflowing with Jeon Ji-hyeon's irresistible energy.

Romance blooms quickly in this drama, growing during fights with thugs, interspecies culture clashes, and all sorts of mermaid badassery...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Legend of the Blue Sea" Episode 1

2016/11/16 | | Permalink

Although not the most original K-drama opening in dramaland, "The Legend of the Blue Sea" established some good background on the characters, the plot, and the zany treats that are in store for us. Jeon Ji-hyeon is just as funny and charming as we expected her to be with another Park Ji-eun-penned drama. Park wrote the 2013 sensation "My Love from the Star" that also starred Jeon as a quirky, strong female lead. This episode boasted of some awesome fish-out-of-water antics (pun-intended) and plenty of swoony Lee Min-ho scenes. Welcome back to dramaland, Lee Min-ho.

Director Jin Hyeok ("City Hunter", "Doctor Stranger") still loves his camera filters and special effects although this time they're a little far-fetched...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Incarnation of Jealousy" Episode 24 (final)

2016/11/16 | | Permalink

"Incarnation of Jealousy" concludes on a bright, quirky note, just as it started. All characters but one receive a bright ending and a satisfying conclusion regardless of their development over the course of the drama. Jo Jeong-seok carried it from beginning to end and was most definitely his career-defining scene-stealing self.

Let's start with the little people...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 4

2016/11/16 | | Permalink

The plot thickens in "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" and we learn more about the titular character's evening activities. Teacher Kim seems to have big plans and they are related to our antagonist after all. Meanwhile tensions in Doldam Hospital rise with Seo-jeong's case being handled and the relationship between Teacher Kim and Dong-joo reaching a boiling point...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 1

2016/11/16 | | Permalink

Bok-joo (played by Lee Sung-kyung) is a college-aged weightlifter. Why, of all people, would anyone hire Lee Sung-kyung for such a role..? Well whatever the questionable reasoning, Lee Sung-kyung does at least mostly look like a weightlifter, even if it's largely done through a butch haircut and clothes that disguise her build. All the same I can't help but find it ironically funny that Lee Sung-kyung as Bok-joo spends most of the episode fighting rythmic gymnasts of all people...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Something About 1% - 2016" Episode 12-13

2016/11/16 | | Permalink

The villains of "Something About 1% - 2016" very quickly come up and then equally quickly fall down in this somewhat anticlimactic pair of episodes. It's times like this I have to remember that, as a relatively faithful remake of a drama from thirteen years ago, "Something About 1% - 2016" is something of a relic. The plots and concepts are not all that well-refined, and veer really close to some fairly disturbing territory without the proper tone to match...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Man In My House" Episode 8

2016/11/15 | | Permalink

My opinion regarding "The Man In My House" has slowly but steadily trended toward lukewarm. The drama is not terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but it's inescapable at this point how the story moves at a glacial pace to little apparent effect. The few clear villains in the property development scheme make spare appearances. And when one does show up at the cliffhanger, it's to deliver a horrifically contrived coincidence that would be laughable except that I do still have some sympathy for these characters...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Incarnation of Jealousy" Episode 23

2016/11/15 | | Permalink

It is evident that at this point, at the penultimate episode, that "Incarnation of Jealousy" is going to forgo finishing out most of the smaller plot threads and will instead focus on the very interesting growth trajectory of Hwa-sin. For the sake of his character's exploration we forsake Jeong-won, blaze through Na-ri's growth, but watching Jo Jeong-seok pick through Hwa-sin's psyche is worth it.

After revealing his deepest secrets on live television, Hwa-sin has finally come to terms with his disease and the fact that he is no less of a man for it...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 3

2016/11/14 | | Permalink

Oh boy, Dong-joo's journey back from the self-absorbed pity party he is throwing for himself is going to be a long one after all. Our spoiled antihero continues to place his own emotions and needs first, but Teacher Kim will have none of it. Seo-jeong wakes up, but an equally honest treatment from their mentor awaits her. Dong-joo has no time to reflect, as the ER floods with patients and he must make an important decision...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Man In My House" Episode 7

2016/11/14 | | Permalink

Does Nan-gil like Na-ri? That's been phrased as the huge dramatic question lately, yet as is often the case, Na-ri instead seems to be projecting her own ambiguous feelings on to Nan-gil. Of course, it helps that Nan-gil's answers are similarly cryptic, implying dramatic changes in Na-ri's personality that neither we nor Nan-gil actually know about because we've only seen Na-ri in a fairly limited context. There's only one way to resolve this problem. By going on a date...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 4

2016/11/14 | | Permalink

Yeong-bin takes one step forward and two steps back with his work choices, sending Ho-jin and Eun-gap into a blind panic and race to handle two different "battle fronts" at the same time. The group is also getting mixed messages from their desired production, causing their business to stall. Meanwhile, Joon buys into a fortune teller's words a bit too much and ends up suffering because of it...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 3

2016/11/14 | | Permalink

"Entourage" might be tanking in the ratings, but at least the series is focusing on the juicy bits after its premiere episodes and by juicy bits I mean industry shenanigans. If you have been wondering why casting news often get so messy and confusing, episode three offers a little glimpse into the complicated game of role assignment and business deals. We also get some humanity out of our cartoon characters, so not all hope is lost...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.11.11 ~ 2016.11.13

2016/11/14 | | Permalink

"Doctor Strange" becomes the second-highest grossing foreign film of the year...

Marvel's latest blockbuster "Doctor Strange" retained pole position and claimed its third weekend at the top of Korea's box office. Director Scott Derrickson's cinematic wizardry (riding Marvel's marvellous momentum) added another 548,520 admissions (38.9%) to its Korean cause to become the tenth highest-grossing film of the year with 4.8 million admissions ($36.3 million)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shopping King Louis" Episode 16 Final

2016/11/13 | | Permalink

"Shopping King Louis" chooses nostalgia and sweetness to wrap up its run. Everyone moves on, many find new goals and hope in life and many look back to what they have lost and gained throughout this story. As I mentioned last time, however, the episode is not really necessary and neither are some of its choices...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The K2" Episode 16 Final

2016/11/13 | | Permalink

The finale is here and "The K2" ends with a bang, meaning the bang of Seong-won's unwisely picked bomb. The USB drive keeps changing hands, the truth of Uhm Hye-rin's death is revealed directly to Ahn-na by Yoo-jin herself and Je-ha tries his best to salvage the situation and save as many as he can from Seong-won's poor choice of partners...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shopping King Louis" Episode 15

2016/11/12 | | Permalink

Episode fifteen of "Shopping King Louis" wraps up all major plot points of the series, it gives us redemption, fulfillment and sweet goodbyes. Bok-sil's kidnapping is resolved quickly and in a quite comedic manner while Seon-goo's time has come and his true nature is revealed to us. The series remains faithful to its tone and resistance to clichés, making this wrap up cathartic, but it also raises the question of why we need another episode...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Sound of Your Heart" Episodes 1-8

2016/11/12 | | Permalink

The very first scene in the very first episode of "The Sound of Your Heart" is a weird meta-joke, and comic writer Seok (played by Lee Kwang-soo) relishes the opportunity to laugh at us for having expected anything less from the live-action adaptation of his famed long-running webtoon. Seok in general seems to be a big fan of petty childish pranks, which backfire as often as not. Fortunately they also tend to be exceptionally funny...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Come, Together"

2016/11/12 | | Permalink

Beom-goo (played by Im Hyeong-gook) is a father who faces poor prospects for work. Mi-yeong (played by Lee Hye-eun) is a mother whose own job, while relatively successful, has an unfortunately large degree of vicious backbiting. Han-na (played by Chae Bin) is their daughter, who's currently trying to get into a good college and stressing out very severely over the prospect that she may once again live another year as a ronin. Of course, given the model her parents set, what's so great about joining the modern economy anyway?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Stay With Me"

2016/11/12 | | Permalink

I-seop (played by Jang Yoo-sang) is a smart, well-behaved high school student who's a bit of a crybaby. So it comes as little surprise that he doesn't have any friends. That is, until he starts talking to Ha-yoon (played by Ha Yoon-kyeong), a classmate who lacks prospects in life, so she mostly just lounges around a cramped apartment with a bunch of other street urchins as they ponder the latest money-making scam. Not that they're very good at that kind of thing. They're just idiot teenagers in the end...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The K2" Episode 15

2016/11/11 | | Permalink

If there is one good thing I can say about the messy plot writing of "The K2" at the moment is that it at least goes all out on grand concepts and this is currently the bomb. No, this is not the idiom indicating superiority and greatness, but the actual bomb Seong-won borrowed from a shady source in order to stupidly wave in front of a woman who eats grabby hands for breakfast and currently holds a powerful tool hostage...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Wife is Having an Affair" Episode 4

2016/11/11 | | Permalink

"My Wife Is Having an Affair" is a drama that organically moves forward. Each character as a role that centers around some aspect of having an affair whether it be the cheated upon, the cheater, the observer, the divorced-due-to-an-affair, and so on. The internet community fills out the emotional and thought landscape of Hyeon-woo's trying journey. And through it all, we still don't know what his wife, Soo-yeon, feels. This purposeful withholding of her character's thoughts adds an unbelievable amount of tension.

Several times were are on the brink of breaking into Soo-yeon's thought process, but the show chooses to not yet divulge her reasoning for cheating or her feelings...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Incarnation of Jealousy" Episode 22

2016/11/11 | | Permalink

This episode was 100% about Hwa-sin and Jo Jeong-seok as Hwa-sin tries to absorb the fact that he is impotent. He also struggles to come to terms with his masculinity in a heart-breaking way that culminates in one of the rawest, truest moments in the entire drama. The other characters fall into second place behind him. Na-ri is supportive, but nothing sensational. Jeong-won is barely present. The reporter mothers have a few cute interactions together, but nothing more. It is truly all about Hwa-sin.

He wonders if having breast cancer and being impotent makes him less of a man, which is a sad reversal of the question that many female cancer victims ask themselves...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 11

2016/11/11 | | Permalink

"Woman with a Suitcase" has reached a climax in its happenings. Bok-geo has been ensnared in Oh Sung's trap, which throws Golden Tree (and Geum-joo) into a tizzy. It also draws out the best in the two men who have been fighting foolishly over Geum-joo - it's about time.

Bok-geo is framed for murder and the case against him is scarily solid...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shopping King Louis" Episode 14

2016/11/10 | | Permalink

"Shopping King Louis" has been a series heavy on the simple and loving moments with outrageous plot points in-between. Now that the series has united its couple, their families and friends, there is not much to do in order to generate a change in pace through conflict. Episode fourteen is mostly just another day in life. That is until the need for conflict catches up, since the show is longer than it needs to be...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 16 Final

2016/11/10 | | Permalink

The airport, throughout "Road to the Airport" has been the drama's most consistently powerful yet understated metaphor. Think about it. Why do you go the airport? Because you want to go somewhere else. Everyone in this drama is always jumping on airplanes at a moment's notice precisely because their lives are inherently transient and changing, yet these constant renegotiations are never satisfying. Everyone just ends up trying to leave again out of boredom...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 15

2016/11/09 | | Permalink

The big fight between Soo-ah and Jin-seok ends up not happening (for now) due to people being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Where "Road to the Airport" gets to especially puzzling territory, though, is how this seems to work out for the better. Sure, Jin-seok briefly terrorizes Hyo-eun, and throughout the episode is motivated primarily by petty spite caused by Soo-ah's emotional affair with Do-woo. Yet by the end, he has actually managed to come up with a much better long-term plan than Soo-ah did, for all the wrong reasons...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Something About 1% - 2016" Episodes 10-11

2016/11/09 | | Permalink

The core plot of "Something About 1% - 2016" is a tad hard to follow, so the complications that come up in these two episodes are more legal technicalities than they are dynamic plot movements. Truthfully, I've never seen much point in discussing the characters aside from Jae-in and Da-hyeon because that's all they really ever do is provide structural roadblocks and misunderstandings that temporarily keep the main couple separated. The threat is never really all that convincing, and at times feels contrived...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 2

2016/11/09 | | Permalink

Romantic male lead and viewers alike get a hefty dose of disillusionment in episode two of "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim", as it reminds us that it takes more for romance than one person who wants a mate. The time is five years later and Dong-joo has been reassigned to the small hospital of a rural area after being used by his peers. That is when he reunites with Seo-jeong and meets our titular character...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" Episode 1

2016/11/08 | | Permalink

Are you tired of romantic shows which hold the kiss hostage until the end? Getting sick of last minute forced drama? Have you had enough of slow burn love? Then "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" is here to save the day! We get forced kisses, forced drama, forced trucks of doom and other manner of over the top goodness right off the bat. What? This is not a romantic soap opera, you say? Oh... Well then we need to have a talk...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Man In My House" Episode 6

2016/11/08 | | Permalink

It's fascinating how "The Man In My House" can spend so much time having its characters repostulate complicated theories of each other's motivation while still having them be so incredibly ignorant of basic character relationships. Part of this is by design. Right now only Deok-bong knows what the relationship is between Na-ri and Nan-gil, and even if Nan-gil is loud and proud of the connection, Na-ri wants to hide it. Why? Because information is power, and thus needs to be hoarded...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Man In My House" Episode 5

2016/11/07 | | Permalink

Right away the great mystery behind Nan-gil's motivation is fully cleared up- and it ends up being really, really corny. Weirder than that it's actually kind of oddly consistent. Considering how outspoken Nan-gil has been around Na-ri it initially seems completely inconsistent that he's maintained a comical and borderline creepy lifelong obsession with Na-ri. Yet it does make sense because of course Nan-gil has never seen Na-ri as a person but as a metaphorical representation of the family Nan-gil could have if he's a good little boy...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.11.04 ~ 2016.11.06

2016/11/07 | | Permalink

"Doctor Strange" and "Luck.Key" capture 83% of the box office pie...

Marvel's "Doctor Strange" retained pole position by attracting another million admissions (58.6%) during its second weekend out in Korea. The film's first weekend saw 1.6 million filmgoers flock to its screens (63%), and with this weekend's take included, the film's totally tally swelled to 3.9 million ($30.4 million). Worldwide, Scott Derrickson's "Doctor Strange" has grossed $325.4 million having been produced for an estimated $165 million...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 2

2016/11/06 | | Permalink

With episode one of "Entourage" being "no way but up" levels of unsatisfying, what we get from episode two qualifies as improvement. The series still plays like a work for teen-minded men of the "dudebro" variety, which is odd to see in an industry mostly aimed at women. Warming up to the characters in episode one is a challenge, since everyone is so juvenile and obnoxious. Thankfully, episode two somewhat begins to address this...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Wife is Having an Affair" Episode 3

2016/11/06 | | Permalink

The adulterous content of "My Wife Is Having an Affair" is hard to stomach, but the way the show pieces together the different ways that affairs affect families, friends, individuals, and communities is very clever. Production is very focused on camera storytelling, on letting the frames comment on Hyeon-woo's emotions. Dialogue and scenes of different instances and interpretations of the effects of affairs compound to make large statements. Although I find the subject matter hard to watch, it is the storytelling that makes it much easier to watch.

Perhaps the most clever part of the story is how situations are layered and paralleled...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 10

2016/11/06 | | Permalink

This drama is hard to truly understand because on one hand, it celebrates Geum-joo as an independent, fierce, smart woman. On the other, Beok-geo acts like a self-entitled man as he pushes her around every episode - and she likes it. The only times he is nice to her is when she's asleep. Otherwise he's picking on her in a most juvenile fashion. This does not, in any way, support the fact that women deserved to be treated as people and not as objects to be played with. Aside from this, the rest of the episode centers around an overly simplistic chaebol family feud that is not interesting in the least.

The one thing that Beok-geo does that redeems him is that he supports Geum-joo as she studies for her test...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Incarnation of Jealousy" Episode 21

2016/11/06 | | Permalink

I feel like "Incarnation of Jealousy" has waited twenty-one episodes to finally touch upon the issues that it did in this latest episode. They dig deep into the hearts of our characters, passed the childish bickering, love triangle jealousies, and insecurities.

Hwa-sin has the biggest breakthrough...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The K2" Episode 14

2016/11/06 | | Permalink

Je-ha is out of commission during episode fourteen of "The K2" and you would think that he is secretly the President, because everything collapses around him. All of our antagonists gather like panicked, hungry vultures over our hero and the new plot device USB, new obstacles appear and Ahn-na is left temporarily exposed, alone and defenseless against Yoo-jin and her desire to see Ahn-na gone...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim"

2016/11/05 | | Permalink

There are fans of romancing in the non-romantic genres and then there are those who wish to see stories without OTPs, but good dramas can be found on both sides. "Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim" is still a mystery in terms of where it belongs as a genre, but perhaps it can find its own identity.


Two doctors who work for selfish reasons, one for rivalry and the other for recognition, meet an oddball mentor and through their experiences with him rediscover the humanity in medicine...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Missing You - 2016"

2016/11/05 | | Permalink

Gi-beom (played by Kim Seong-oh) is an alleged serial killer who receives the relatively light sentence of fifteen years on account of the fact that there's only proof he committed one murder, off the word of an apparently anonymous informant. The first step to tolerating "Missing You - 2016" is to not get hung up on legal technicalities. This is the kind of movie where a random unremarkable thug is apparently immune to prosecution since he's never been caught committing murder on videotape, all other evidence being either magically nonexistent or inadmissable...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Knitting Club"

2016/11/05 | | Permalink

Have you ever been looking for more social interaction in life, and decided that hey, why not make a social group with your co-workers? And what if over the process of crocheting together, you talk about the kind of workplace you want to see? Say you want to do it in a more sustainable way. Or that you want more labor rights. Or that you just want to be more well-rounded people in general. All of this builds on itself until one day, you've got enough material for a documentary? That what "The Knitting Club" is all about...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Waiting For The Snow"

2016/11/05 | | Permalink

Seon-woo (played by Lee Hyo-rim) is a teenage girl who does teenage girl stuff to her girlfriends. Smoke cigarettes. Get s a job. Occassionally enjoying the presence of a man while for the most part hating men because they're creeps. Seong-gook (played by Bae Jin-man) is a spaz (in the medical sense of the term) who does normal stuff like walk places. Eat dinner. Drink alcohol. Work at a convenience store located inside the subway station. Eventually, Seon-woo and Seong-gook meet...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The K2" Episode 13

2016/11/04 | | Permalink

The time has come when our antagonists' masks give way to reveal the ugly faces underneath in episode thirteen of "The K2". Everyone falls into a trap designed by our villain, Yoo-jin and she has big plans for those involved. The episode confirms some things for Je-ha, Ahn-na and us, bringing us closer to the final battle with the several enemies our heroes have to deal with...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entourage" Episode 1

2016/11/04 | | Permalink

Prepare for glamour, man-angst and a lot of male genitalia jokes as "Entourage" makes its grand entrance. The series is off to a loud start and as much as I would want to say that this is a good thing, episode one makes for rather weak first impressions. The series seems a little too eager to sell debauchery and flair, but at least its hinted human elements are promising...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 14

2016/11/03 | | Permalink

Hye-won coming to terms with the end of her marriage to Do-woo is relatively easy to manage. As is explicitly mentioned here, Annie's death alone was more than enough impetus to force their break-up, and Soo-ah is blameless except to the extent she helped to stave off an otherwise inevitable depression on Do-woo's part. But where does that leave Soo-ah when it comes to her own marriage, which is slowly disintegrating as she attempts to prevent Jin-seok from realizing what's going on?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shopping King Louis" Episode 13

2016/11/03 | | Permalink

Everything is happy and festive for our lovebirds and their extended family. Bok-nam is getting tutored, Il-soon finds meaning in life through her new friends and love is in their air for several pairings, including our OTP. Even so, the threat of the past and Seon-goo looms above this happiness and the time has come for the drama's writer to prove their confidence in a story which has so far been delightful...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shopping King Louis" Episode 12

2016/11/02 | | Permalink

I have expressed my wish to see Bok-nam punished for his naughtiness before, but now Bok-sil needs to include Louis/Ji-seong in her disciplinary action. I am glad that nothing important is going wrong, however and I have to admit that there is some adorableness in Ji-seong's grand plans. The cat of the Bok-nam variety is out of the bag and things start falling into place and getting ready for the finale...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 13

2016/11/02 | | Permalink

Now that the big mysteries and dramatic revelations have all been cleared up, "Road to the Airport" is left asking the basic question of "now what?". It's easy to forget that, as generally unhelpful as they have been in the role of spouse, Jin-seok and Hye-won are not aware of what's been going on with Do-woo and Soo-ah, even if they have suspicions. Both of them have reason to believe there is hope for reconciliation, even if they are also both badly underestimating the extent to which their generally non-responsive demeanors have poisoned that well...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Something About 1% - 2016" Episodes 8-9

2016/11/02 | | Permalink

I rather like the interpersonal dynamic between Jae-in and Da-hyeon. Even when they're just hanging around on a date there's this almost perfect blend of teasing with genuine affection that translates into cute flirting, even if neither of them really think of themselves as being flirts. Jae-in, of course, does pick the best possible moments to come up with a spontaneous kiss, but for the most part, he's satisfied just being around Da-hyeon and suitably grumpy whenever she's not available for some reason...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Man In My House" Episode 4

2016/11/01 | | Permalink

Intriguing parallelisms are the order of the day in this episode of "The Man In My House". First up- what does a proper woman do when a man is too drunk to even walk? Na-ri, for all her obvious enmity with Nan-gil, does manage to do the initially decent thing and only gets up to sneaky stuff later on. Meanwhile, Yeo-joo continues to try and maliciously sabotage Dong-jin's life. I'd feel sorry for him except, you know, the cheating. Exactly what quality of woman was he expecting would agree to cheat on her co-worker?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 20 Final

2016/11/01 | | Permalink

At long last, Soo has left the palace. From there she...hangs out at a new house for awhile, enjoys some flashbacks, and then dies while King Gwangjong sulks like a grumpy teenager. Hilariously bad communication brings everything to an unnecessarily tragic end. Last-minute revelations end up affecting pretty much nothing, since the extended epilogue is just more flashbacks set to sad music. In short, this is about everything we could have reasonably expected from the finale of "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Man In My House" Episode 3

2016/10/31 | | Permalink

Every so often Nan-gil has a very dangerous scene. We see the tattoos, we see what the guy's like when he's mad, and all of a sudden it seems like all of Na-ri's worst conspiracy theories have been validated. Then there's most of the rest of the drama, where Nan-gil acts like a bit of a clumsy goof, and doesn't even seem remotely dangerous. That's the essential contradiction at play in "The Man In My House". Which one is the real Nan-gil?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 19

2016/10/31 | | Permalink

Soo is really upset at King Gwangjong for killing people, apparently having forgotten that King Gwangjong was killing people all the time even back when he was still Prince So. One flashback even goes to the trouble of reminding us that Soo herself was at one point fairly freaked out about Prince So's stone cold demeanor. What's more, apparently everyone's high opinion of Soo's random utterances were enough to permanently poison the well against Prince So and make all this bad stuff inevitable. Somehow...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review]

2016/10/31 | | Permalink

Marvel's "Doctor Strange" arrives and thrives

Marvel's fourteenth film, "Doctor Strange", arrived last Wednesday and shot straight to the top of the chart by capturing 63.4% of the box office pie. The film, directed by Scott Derrickson, had a massive 1,500 screens from which to pool and attracted 1.6 million admissions ($12.9 million) to dislodged Lee Gye-byeok's comedy drama "Luck.Key" as the country's film of choice...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The K2" Episode 12

2016/10/30 | | Permalink

I am intrigued and confused by episode twelve of "The K2", but I call that an improvement after a boring time lately. A major attack against Yoo-jin is launched by brother dearest, Je-ha gets a major Cloud Nine promotion and Yoo-jin opens up about Hye-rin's death. It is this last part which confuses me, but at this point I will take anything I can get in terms of forward movement...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The K2" Episode 11

2016/10/30 | | Permalink

The attempt to kill Gwan-soo fails and Je-ha finds himself trapped with his target and unable to kill him. Tough negotiations begin and Je-ha manages to get out and at the same time form a powerful, but false alliance. Our hero returns to his lady, but things are still falling apart around them. Yoo-jin has reached a breaking point and physical violence from Se-joon which pushes her off the edge...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Wife is Having an Affair" Episode 2

2016/10/30 | | Permalink

Hyeon-woo is spiraling through his emotions and he's doing it fast. The situations around him reflect his pain and the editing of this show is so finely done that small interjections of humor don't detract from the severity of Hyeon-woo's pain. "My Wife Is Having an Affair" is still keeping Soo-yeon shrouded in mystery, skewing the viewers' perspective to that of Hyeon-woo's.

What I like most about this show is that it frames scene transitions and character introductions in such unique ways...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Wife is Having and Affair" Episode 1

2016/10/30 | | Permalink

"My Wife Is Having an Affair" starring the man with the amazing voice, Lee Sun-kyun as Do Hyeon-woo, and Running Man favorite Song Ji-hyo as Jeong Soo-yeon, began on jTBC this week and it started off strong. The drama, based on 2007 Japanese drama "Konshu Sbuma ga Uwaki Shimasu", and directed by Kim Seok-yoon ("Awl", "I Live in Cheongdam-dong") is the story of a man who discovers that his wife is planning on having an affair. The drama will follow his struggles as he turns to an online community to save his marriage and his family. While the premise is rather bleak, the first episode sketches out an intriguing plot and a very relatable leading man, Do Hyeon-woo.

The drama is supposed to be a healing drama punctuated with comedy, which is a little dubious...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Entourage"

2016/10/29 | | Permalink

We do not know whether remakes of North American series will become a lasting part of Korean drama, but with interest increasing between the entertainment of both countries, it is probably not something which will stop soon. TvN had a good run with "The Good Wife" and now the channel and studio return with "Entourage".


The series depicts a young actor's rise to fame as he navigates the world of entertainment after being scouted by an agent determined to make him into a star. He is joined in this adventure by his friends, who get to experience a new world as the actor gains popularity...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Incarnation of Jealousy" Episode 20

2016/10/29 | | Permalink

It is finally in episode 20 when we see how much Hwa-sin has grown up and how much growing up Na-ri still has to do. But all of this is part of relationships and moving through life and we see it most clearly in the growing romantic relationship between Hwa-sin and Na-ri.

Hwa-sin and Na-ri officially begin to date in this episode and it's as cute as audiences hoped for...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "How to Break up with My Cat"

2016/10/29 | | Permalink

Na-bi (played by Seo Jun-young) is an apprentice sushi chef who since childhood has had the special ability to see into the souls of cats. While Na-bi does not himself currently own a cat, this ability becomes immediately relevant to daily life when a woman named Jeong (played by Park Gyu-ri) moves in next door, bringing a cat with her. And so begins the romance between these three- man, woman, and cat...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "For the End of Time"

2016/10/29 | | Permalink

Nineteenth century Korea, remotely located as it was relative to the rest of the world, was not the subject of much work from missionaries. That changed, though, as Catholic conversion literature made its way from China to Korea, inspiring devoutness and martyrdom among the local population. Whe the Catholic Church learned of these clandestine activities, it sent French priests to the Korean peninsula in the hopes of teaching its accidental converts how to pray correctly- even as it doomed many of these same French priests to inevitable martyrdom, "For the End of Time"...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Malice"

2016/10/29 | | Permalink

Ga-in (played by Hong Soo-ah) is a woman with reasonably good fashion sense who can pass for some level of happiness. But in reality Ga-in has a miserable job and is on the lookout for something new. It's from here that Ga-in randomly stumbles upon her old friend Eun-jeong (played by Lim Seong-eon) and grows to admire the woman's more sincerely happy life with husband Woo-jin (played by Yang Myeong-hoon) and daughter Seo-ah (played by Kim Ha-yoo). But then, was Ga-in's encounter with Eun-jeong really mere coincidence?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shopping King Louis" Episode 11

2016/10/27 | | Permalink

Despite my humble credentials as a reviewer, I always try to remain professional when handling work in this capacity. I am but a flawed human being like any other, however, so please allow me another moment of weakness... Bok-nam, you little s**t! Now that this is over with, hello. Please join me for another lovely episode of "Shopping King Louis", home to cuteness, entertainment and questionable fashion choices...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 12

2016/10/27 | | Permalink

Motivation is the most ambiguous watchword at play in "Road to the Airport". On first glance it seems like Soo-ah is just ignoring her feelings. But really, what's actually going on is that Soo-ah is torn between the blatant contradiction in her wanting Do-woo while still having a basically comfortable and familiar life. Soo-ah has spent much of her adult life making a very self-conscious effort to avoid upheavel. It takes a lot of thought for her to arrive to the end of a difficult decision...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shopping King Louis" Episode 10

2016/10/27 | | Permalink

I am someone who does not condone violence in real life and outside the scope of self defense, but someone needs to hit Bok-nam hard when he reappears and I know he will. Meanwhile we have hit the dark patch in our story as Bok-sil tries to shield Ji-seong from an awful piece of news. Enter scheduled breakup angst, although it is done with as little drama as possible...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Incarnation of Jealousy" Episode 19

2016/10/27 | | Permalink

The incarnation of jealousy has manifested in Na-ri in this episode, bringing the title into fruition. Not only that, but jealousy shows up in different relationships all over the drama and makes for quite the heated hour. The wily emotion makes its rounds and spices up the episode for the better. The show has felt a little clunky as of late and it's finally picking up the pace...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 9

2016/10/27 | | Permalink

Episode 10 of "Woman with a Suitcase" has been pre-empted because of baseball season so we only get episode 9 this week. However, it's a powerful episode where we see Geum-joo grasping at a second chance in life. The case that landed her in jail and reset her life to be more difficult resurfaces and gives her chances she never thought she'd see again.

The first chance she takes is trying to mend the relationship with her sister...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Road to the Airport" Episode 11

2016/10/26 | | Permalink

The same visual idea that director Kim Cheol-gyoo use to bring Seoul to life is equally as firmly on display in Jeju, as we're treated to longing sad visages of a landscape that by and large is just a gigantic coastline bounded by a road. That's the one part of Jeju tourism that never shows up in the ads- how inevitably you're going to spend a lot of time on thus bus traveling on obscure roads. Nothing is quite so awful as being stranded that far out. Unless you're Soo-ah, and need the moment of serenity...