[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Special 2 2016/04/21,
For those of you hoping for more recaps of the second OTP pairing between Myeong-joo and Dae-yeong, this second special did throw in a few of their juiciest bits. However, it mostly focused on Si-jin and Mo-yeon and on the trials that Si-jin suffered for his country and his woman,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" 2016/04/16,
The Korean drama industry is constantly looking for hits, like any business does. As pre-produced shows have not done well in the past, creating something like "Descendants of the Sun" was a risk. In this case, the risk paid off in a major way. The series is a big global hit. As a reviewer, however, my job is not to gush over success. The drama has its virtues, but it is definitely not on the meatier side of entertainment. So here is my own take on it,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 16 (final) 2016/04/14,
"Descendants of the Sun" has come to an end and that fact feels a bit surreal as well as its rating of 38.8%. Not just as a viewer, but as a reviewer. Not just as a reviewer, but as an international drama fan watching the waves that this drama has made in the world of drama, and in the world itself. This drama is more than its story. It is enveloped in a hype that is currently unparalleled. In some ways, the show is well-worth its worldwide prestige. In others, it is not. Let's break down this final review into parts,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 15 2016/04/13,
In its penultimate episode, "Descendants of the Sun" tops itself with 34.8% ratings in spite of the fact that it was competing with South Korean elections. This drama suffers from too many tonal shifts, but the tone of this episode was so solid that it was a tight, emotive watching experience even though it didn't quite match the rest of the drama. Let's just get the not-so-great stuff out of the way so we can then focus on all the awesome things this episode got right,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 14 2016/04/07,
For the second time in its fourteen-episode run "Descendants of the Sun" has experienced a ratings drop. It came in at 33.0%, 0.5% decrease. Perhaps it is the fact that the glamour and excitement of the foreign country was no longer present. Perhaps it was the broaching of the sensitive North/South Korea conflict that is more tense than ever. Perhaps it was just the simple fact that the cliffhanger wasn't really a cliffhanger despite the fact that the show only has a week left (save for the bonus goodies to be offered after its run.) The strongest part of the episode was the relationships, namely the friendships,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 13 2016/04/06,
Our crew of loveable characters has landed back in Korea and served us up another ratings hike. Episode 13 earned at 33.5% on the Nielsen Korea chart and the sheer number of adorable couple moments and character beats support it. Yoo Ah-in's sardonic cameo also probably helped. Then there was the witty, zippy, and fun dialogue along with the more relaxed feeling that comes with a much needed homecoming. I just have to get this out of the way, however,...More
[North America] "Time Renegadess" to be realased in North America on April, 22 2016/04/06, Source,
Synopsis One murder, two different times. Two men's desperate race against time to save one woman they both love. January 1, 1983. High school teacher Ji-hwan (Jo Jeong-seok) proposes to colleague and lover Yoon-jeong (Im Soo-jeong), but moments later he is fighting for his life after he is stabbed by a mugger.
January 1, 2015. Police detective Geon-woo (Lee Jin-wook) is shot by a suspect. The two men who live 30 years apart, fight for their lives on the same day, at the same hospital. As they come back from the brink of death, the two men begin to see through each other's eyes in their dreams,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 12 2016/03/31,
"Descendants of the Sun" is a master at sparking emotion. No matter how illogical the plot may become, the emotional barometer is insanely high. This must be why Nielsen Korean is clocking this drama at 33% for episode 12, a whole 1.1% higher than last night's episode. Wow. It is the human element that "Descendants of the Sun" is really learning to master that makes is so addictive - for me and the rest of the world. Before I go any further I have to say, "Oh my gosh, the feels!",...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 11 2016/03/30,
"Descendants of the Sun" tries to pack in a lot of action by having our heroes face weapons trafficking, plagues, gun standoffs, earthquakes, kidnapping, and politics. No matter what happens, this show seems destined to best itself - and it did. It came 0.3% higher than the last episode at 31.9%. More than anything, however, it was the acting in this episode by our leads that made it worthy of that rating. Jin Goo proved his mettle as his expressed Dae-yeong's worry for Myeong-joo with previously unparalleled intensity,...More
[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites 2016/03/26,
See Seoul's hottest attractions with new K-bus tours, Korean dramas help boost tourism at home and away, read Soo Kim's travel retrospective about Seoul, and hit Korea's highways and byways with a road trip around the country,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 10 2016/03/24,
With the romance firmly cemented by episode 9's romantic antics and kisses, episode 10 introduces some major plot points to yank the drama back into action. Not that its ratings need more action - they're consistently on the rise. This episode clocked in at 31.6%, 1.2% higher than last night's episode. "Descendants of the Sun" is battling itself episode to episode for best ratings. Fancy choreography, intricate camerawork and a viral disease are in another tussle; one for the most exciting moment of the episode. It doesn't lose the romantic flavors of last episode, but the hot points are definitely the action,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 9 2016/03/23,
If there is one thing that can almost always bolster ratings it is a good kiss...or two! Hello 30% ratings - 30.4% to be exact. The Song-Song couple not only shared two very romantic kissing scenes (and a good roll in the hay,) but the episode was bolstered by the high-intensity romantic moments between Song-Song and Myeong-joo and Dae-yeong. There were a few small moments, those beautiful moments that showcased themselves during the thick of the earthquake, that colored this romantic episode for the better,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 8 2016/03/17,
If the last episode of "Descendants of the Sun" was about the small moments, this one was about the small windows of time that allows our characters and those around them to see the world more clearly. The world is also seeing this drama quite clearly as it shot up 0.5% to 28.8%, mere percentage points away from the big three-oh. Si-jin and Mo-yeon are developing nicely although Mo-yeon's fear of losing him to his job still tends to dominate her emotions and behavior,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 7 2016/03/16,
"Descendants of the Sun" rode atop romance and angsty separations for its first six episodes, but this episode saw a sudden turn. It began to look inward, to inspect the minutiae of humanity and the beauty found in the smallest of human connections. Perhaps the lack of intense romantic interaction is what kept the show from pushing into the 30s, but it came in at a hugely respectable 28.3%, just 0.2% less than last episode. The little moments built this episode from the ground up,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 6 2016/03/10,
This is seriously baffling. "Descendants of the Sun" episode 6 blasted ratings precedents with 28.5%. The drama is most definitely not about action and is all about the romance, the Song Joong-ki stare, and the manufactured drama. I admit to welcoming the earthquake and the chaos it fosters because it pulls the drama out of its extremely romance heavy focus. What detracts from the high-budget beauty of the episode is the circular happenings between both couples,...More
[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Descendants of the Sun" 2016/03/05,
The long awaited, fully pre-produced "Descendants of the Sun" is here and boy, has it made an entrance. With domestic and foreign ratings, sales and buzz soaring high, the drama is undoubtedly a huge success. At the same time, it is really not a story with something for everyone and has its share of issues which range from tolerable to frustrating. For those who like the type, however, this is one fun ride,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 3 2016/03/02,
After a long week of waiting, "Descendants of the Sun" has graced us with another episode that came in at an unheard of 23.4%. Again, I can't iterate enough how slick and gorgeous it is or how fantastic the actors are in their roles. Song Joong-ki, despite his pretty face, is 100% masculine and in charge of his character while Song Hye-gyo owns the drastic change in hers. Not to mention that we finally get to see the beauty of Greece that plays the role of the country Uruk where the drama takes place. Please be sure to stick around for some home grown insight about Greece from Orion, HanCinema's own Greek goddess.,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 15 2015/06/15,
The story moves somewhat sedately here, as the emphasis is on making peace and moving on. Pretty much every character relationship that has had any conflict at all is resolved except for So-yeong's vendetta. And that's really just gotten tiring at this point. It's exactly like her dad says- she needs to shut up and stop initiating conflict. So-yeong still hasn't figured out that nobody actually cares whether or not she's right. And given Eun-byeol's behavior, it seems likely that the twins weren't actually planning on keeping this secret forever anyway,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 14 2015/06/09,
It's hard to imagine what "Who Are You - School 2015" was like without Eun-byeol's presence. She's just such a fascinating duality with Eun-bi. Seeing the way Eun-byeol reacts to any daily inconvenience it's rather inescapable that the young woman has strong aggressive tendencies. To some extent this is good- Eun-byeol doesn't need a knight in shining armor like Eun-bi did. She can solve problems quite effectively on her own. Yet this makes Eun-byeol a very unsatisfying person to know on a personal level, because she is so independent it's nearly impossible to help her,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 13 2015/06/08,
The explanation behind Eun-byeol's disappearance is both more simple and more complicated than what I was expecting. This is mainly a function of a few plot holes in Eun-byeol's plan which may or may not be addressed. Overall it's not really a big deal. The important, quickly established information is simply that the main plot has been resolved, so how are the characters supposed to deal with the aftermath?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 12 2015/06/02,
The mystery regarding what happened at Eun-byeon's school a year ago is mostly cleared up. Rather anticlimactically, I might add. After all that build-up I was expecting some sort of elaborate conspiracy. In all fairness, the situation itself was so low-stated it's easy to see why psychological terror was the only real direction for the situation to go. The tragedy wasn't the result of a bullying so much as it was the failure to properly make a check-up,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 11 2015/06/01,
As it turns out, I-an is still dealing with the consequences of his dramatic decision to protect Eun-bi. It turns out that the swimming team wasn't just background noise- "Who Are You - School 2015" correctly notes that even in an individualist team like swimming, proper camaraderie is a pretty big deal. I-an hasn't just ruined his own athletic inspirations for the near future- he's also wrecked the relays. I-an's story is a cold reflection of how even noble actions can reverberate negative consequences,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 10 2015/05/26,
As was to be expected, So-yeong's plan to get back into everyone's good graces fails miserably. What So-yeong constantly fails to realize is that it's not circumstance which is causing her to be bullied- So-yeong's own attitude is what's causing the problem. And exposing the existence of Eun-bi does her no favors. To the contrary, up until now Eun-bi's strange behavior around So-yeong has made all the classmates suspicious. Now that So-yeong has provided an explanation, it's only that much more difficult for anyone to sympathize with her,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 9 2015/05/25,
The tone this episode is a fairly somber one as Eun-bi and I-an come to grips with the fact that Eun-byeon is most likely dead. I write "most likely" because technically speaking we don't actually know that Eun-byeon's remains are the ones that were cremated. We don't even know how they were identified,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 8 2015/05/19,
In a somewhat surprising twist, it would appear that the main potential victim of Eun-bi being exposed is not Eun-bi herself, but rather I-an. His normally static character arc comes into sharp relief here as I-an deliberately chooses to believe that Eun-bi is Eun-byeon, regardless of how much of his experiences with her post-amnesia simply don't add up. Right when I was wondering if I-an ever had this much fun on dates with the real Eun-byeon, a flashback helpfully pops up to tell us that no, he did not,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 7 2015/05/18,
The cliffhanger this episode and the cliffhanger from last episode are more-or-less the same. But "Who Are You - School 2015" doesn't quite fall into repetition because these repeated plot points establish something very important- that the drama's conceit isn't really sustainable. Even if So-yeong appears to have been subdued, the fact that Eun-bi can't recover Eun-byeon's memories means that this ruse can't go on forever however much Eun-bi and her new mother want it to,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 6 2015/05/12,
The conflict between Eun-bi and So-yeong remains unresolved. In the first place, there's not actually very much So-yeong can do- her usual shtick of physical intimidation doesn't work without the surrounding cult of personality. People can and will question So-yeong's behavior, since they haven't grown accustomed to it. Evidence is another matter- while So-yeong does find better proof for her conspiracy theory, she's still hamstrung by the fact that there's no way for her to explain how it was acquired,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 5 2015/05/11,
So-yeong (played by Jo Soo-hyang) was Eun-bi's tormentor in the past and appears to have come back to haunt Eun-bi in her guise as Eun-byeol. It's difficult to get a good read on what So-yeong wants- this episode definitely implies, though it does not state outright, that the real reason for So-yeong's transfer is that she was expelled from her last school after Eun-bi's apparent suicide exposed a plethora of disturbing bullying behavior. One would think that such revelations would have made the girl a bit more reflective,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 4 2015/05/05,
This episode mostly takes a shift toward premise building. Something of an odd narrative direction given that this is the fourth episode, but "Who Are You - School 2015" makes good use of it. Once Eun-bi figures out what has happened, all that's left for her and Mi-kyeong to do is admit that there isn't actually going to be a happy resolution after all. Now they have to return to their real, mostly heartbroken lives,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 3 2015/05/04,
It turns out that there is bullying at Eun-byeol's school- but it's so subtle that even after watching this episode I'm not sure to what extent it technically exists. The story of Yeong-eun (played by Kim Bo-ra) is very instructive in this regard. As it turns out she was the recipient not so much of the explicit bullying that Eun-bi suffered from, but of the rather more crippling loneliness of simply being ignored altogether,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 2 2015/04/28,
Somewhat disappointingly, this episode uses the plot device of amnesia to mostly avoid tackling the issues established about Eun-bi's character last episode. Now, obviously, given all the trouble "Who Are You - School 2015" went to to set up a rather mysterious premise, we're going to get back to all this at some point. For the moment though the drama goes in a mostly generic direction as Eun-bi tries to get a grasp of her new surroundings,...More
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