Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via email@example.com.
We've all been there. The dashing main lead finally asks his love interest out for a date. We're expecting the Kdrama works: flowers, romantic dinner, a moonlit walk. But...they end up at Subway...More
Have you ever been watching a drama or film and a helmeted delivery man arrives at a door holding a bag of chicken and beer making you think, "Good golly, I could go for some of that at my door step right now...More
It's time. The hero has realized that he must rush to his heroine. He jumps into his PPL sports vehicle colored bold in crimson or indigo and blatantly defies every road rule created by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. But don't worry, for the drama at least, the car is cruising at well-below the speed limit while a camera on a rig films the desperate scene. It does beg the question, however: Do people really defy the laws of the road when emotions are high and need is overpowering in real life?...More
Actors in dramas look beautiful. All. The. Time. Their skin glows, their eyeliner is always straight, and, no matter what time of day or night, their characters are almost always made up and ready to meet Mr. or Ms. Right. But that's in dramas. What about real life? Are people in Seoul and Korea always that put together?...More
It's Valentine's Day, folks, which means today's "Reality Vs. Kdrama" will focus on something fun: kissing and love. "Do people really kiss with their lips closed and looking terrified?" asks many a drama fan when speaking about dramaland kisses. While playful in sentiment, the question is based in the often portrayed wide-eyed and stiff-lipped kisses seen on screen that look more awkward than romantic. Are couples awkward about kissing? What are couples really like in Korea? And what in the world do they do for Valentine's Day?...More
You know when you're watching a drama, and the heroine walks onto a Seoul bus after a difficult day only to discover that her crush is one of two other occupants on the bus? She panics and doesn't know where to sit. Or, the crush moves to sit next to her - cue romantic music, awkward but adorable moment, or petty fight that makes you think, "Aw, they're meant for each other. Stop fighting, and start kissing!" These situations beg the question: are buses in Seoul, and in Korea, conveniently empty and the perfect wingmen for blossoming romance in real life?...More
For this round of Lisa's Drama Bites, we have actors who always are solid, even if they aren't the leads. Their roles will help propel the dramas forward and help our leads figure out their left from their right...More
There are so many faces new and old on the drama scene fleshing out casts after main lead additions or as stars in smaller dramas as they climb into the international field of Korean drama. Many of the faces are multi-talented individuals, branching out from their idol beginnings, so if you're a K-pop fan, you might recognize quite a few of them. I only have three bites for you today, but holy moly, are they cram-packed with tasty K-talent flavors. Let's get on to the sampling of the drama delicacies!...More
Casting has snagged another strong one for an upcoming thriller about a man seeking his wife's murderer...More
New dramas and cameos are cropping up in dramaland. There is so much good stuff that it's almost hard to keep up. Between Orion, Lily and myself, we're trying to taste all that it has to offer. Now we're off to magical loving and romantic pairing as a profession...More
No, this news isn't about Oz, but it is about dramaland. The munchkins behind the scenes have been busy bringing on board talent to the big upcoming summer dramas. Let's check 'em out...More
So many casting updates, so little time! Today I have two bites for you regarding some of the big upcoming dramas that have viewers salivating for their release. Enjoy these tasty bites...More
Get ready, folks, because after the wildly popular manhwa and the successful (but controversial) drama, the "Cheese in the Trap" franchise is ready to drop the story in a third format: "Cheese in the Trap - Movie". This newest rendition retains Park Hae-jin in the leading role of Yoo Jeong, a smart, popular student with a dark streak that runs earily close to his fine veneer of good-looking perfection...More
KOFICE (Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange) recently invited me to contribute to their December 2017 issue of their webzine, "Hallyu Story", that features content relevant to the long reach of the Hallyu wave. It was my honor to look into Korean drama and the international audience, of which I am an enthusiastic part...More
Bo-mi takes front and center as she tries to reclaim her life. She tries to do it alone, which is how she's been living, but finds that she has people who have her back...More
Going to the movies is one of the most popular past times because of its unique ability to immerse viewers in a world outside their own. In 2009, Korean company CJ 4DPLEX developed technology to enhance the movie-going experience: 4DX. The technology, which has expanded to over forty-eight countries worldwide, has been on the market for a while, but my visit to the Los Angeles 4DX lab was my first time experiencing it, which very much changed the way that I view the movie going experience...More
Closing up review season for the year with "Lookout". We get to know Bo-mi a bit more, while Kyung-soo proves his mettle, and Soo-ji continues to be a brave, headstrong, and impetuous woman. Then there is Do-han, who once seemed to have everything under control, but events are quickly slipping from his capable fingertips...More
Pang Eun-jin's "Method" is an exploration of the investment of emotion and self into art and a potent one at that. Screened at the 22nd Busan International Film Festival from October 12th to the 21st, the eighty-two minute film just released in theaters November 2nd. The intense emotional journey of seasoned method actor Jae-ha (Park Sung-woong) and reluctant idol actor Young-woo (Oh Seung-hoon) is riveting and unhinged. Yoon Seung-ah's Hee-won is what tethers the characters and the story to reality - but only just barely...More
Viki content development manager Courtney McLachlan
For fans of Korean and Asian content, Rakuten Viki is one of the go-to sources for content that includes, but isn't limited to, television, film, fan communities, original content, and short form content. You'll often see links in HanCinema reviews to the episodes of your favorite dramas that are licensed by Rakuten Viki for your viewing pleasure. At the 12th Asian TV Drama Conference, we got to learn more about this company and the services it provides in presentations by senior director, Moon Gyeong Min, and content development manager, Courtney McLachlan...More
From all over Asia directors, producers, writers, and industry professionals have gathered to talk about Asian drama and its place in the world market and its globalization potential. The presenters in the morning conference see great things for the expansion of drama internataionally as well as a few major obstacles. Moments ago the presentation on Korean drama and its popularity ended. Here are some highlights:...More
The combination of human depravity and the inability to change are what define Lee Hwan's indie film, "Park Hwa-young". Each time a moment pivotal moment blooms with a chance for change, it is stymied by the purposefully one-dimensional characters. However, even as the titular character falls deeper into trouble -- of her own volition, might I add -- there is no true sense of catharsis as the ending scene cuts short what may have been. It is that ending that makes the movie a rounded character study that is rather indulgent with human foible...More
My time in Busan wasn't only spent at the 22nd Busan International Film Festival, but also in exploring the beautiful seaside city itself. I met up with friends to wander around with camera in hand and belly empty in order to try all that Busan had to offer. One particularly lovely day we traveled to Gwangalli Beach, a beach famous for its fine sand, Gwangandaegyo Bridge, magnificent skyline, and bustling social and shopping scenes...More
There are so many wonderful places to explore in Busan. The famous places like the fish market and Haeundae beach are amazing. But there are also the small, quiet places. The sort of places people live and do day-to-day things. We see them all the time on our tv and computer screens. It's been pretty wonderful being able to walk those streets myself. Just be sure to put on your walking shoes because Busan is hilly...More
If you've seen a Korean drama, film, or music video, you have most definitely seen the characters or singers in a subway. In my time here in Korea, I've explored the subways of Seoul, the capital and in the northern part of South Korea, and Busan, a port city and in the southern part of South Korea. Both are big towns with big subway systems. As a lifelong car driver, I was a bit hesitant to use public transportation. But it's much more convenient than I thought...More
The Busan International Film Festival is an event that the entire city of Busan takes part in. Outside of the dedicated complex for the activities of the film festival, several locations around the city serve as places for open talks, hand-printing, lectures, screenings, and more. One of the more picturesque locations is the BIFF Village located on the famous Haeundae Beach, a top tourist spot for the seaside city...More
Moon So-ri is a multi-talented woman who has most recently gained attention for the film she directed and starred in "The Running Actress". On Friday, October 13, a day made luckier by her appeareance, the director, actress, professor, and scriptwriter was joined by equally affluent Japanese actress Miho Nakayama...More
Yesterday, I had the aboslute joy of stumbling across the standalone Kakao Friends shop in Busan, which is pretty much one of the cutest places that I've ever seen...More
Today was the opening day for the largest film festival in Asia, the 22nd Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), which spans from October 12 to October 21. HanCinema had the honor of attending the press conference for the film chosen for the opening ceremony, Korean film "Glass Garden"...More
Looking back at all that has transpired in "Man to Man" thus far, it is really just a romantic comedy built on a farcical set of procedural drama elements. Not that this is a bad thing. It makes for a humorous ride and highlights the sweetness of the romance...More
Despite the dip below 2.0% in ratings according the Nielsen Korea, the last two episodes were actually the strongest of "Man-Hole"'s run. Pacing was brisk, characters had direction, and a few answers were delivered. Sadly, a few interesting elements were only pulled in during the last episodes, but it is what it is...More
Insight is finally given into the inner workings of our villain, Jae-hyun, but also into Pil, who has too long just been a crazy many chasing a woman who is not quite sure she wants to be with him. It definitely feels as though the show is trying to wind up as people start mobilizing once they believe Pil is correct about Jae-hyun...More
Now that misunderstandings and deceptions have been aired like dirty laundry on "Man to Man", it's time for the very slow making up period and adorable, petty revenge for Do-ha and Actor. A few graver moments slip in as Husband, Baek, and the other baddies scheme and plot, but those parts of the drama seem the most clunky. It is the romance and friendship Seol-woo, Do-ha, and Actor that really shines...More
Jae-hyun may not yet be outed to the world, but Pil, Soo-jin and Goo-gil see him for the monster that he is. The problem is no longer about who believes Pil's claims that Jae-hyun is a nut job; it's how to stop the nut job who everyone in the neighborhood believes...More
Jae-hyun's true nature cannot be contained by his kind facade and his world starts to crumble. While bad for him, it's good for Pil and the gang and the good citizens of the neighborhood because Jae-hyun is a violent sociopath. Now if only the rest of the drama was as exciting as catching Jae-hyun currently is...More
Things are a bit of a jumbled mess in the land of "Man-Hole". Pil is stuck in the future, in 2018, with a married Soo-jin, a violent offender in the neighborhood, broken up couples, and a Seok-tae who is on the brink of discovering Pil's truth about the manhole. And yet, despite all this excitement, the drama isn't all that exciting...More
"Man-Hole" endeavors to break from its slump, but has a hard time doing so. The mechanism of action isn't quite as solid as it once was with traveling all throughout the time line, not just from past to present. Reasons behind changes in behavior are muddied and Pil still hasn't quite grown up as much as he should...More
Although Pil is still spazzy, it is in this episode that we see that he is learning to care for more than just his own love. He cares about Jin-sook even if that caring doesn't equate to the same kind of love that she feels for him. But these two aren't the only ones who suffer from love woes and we see that love lines are still as complicated as ever...More
What "Man-Hole" lacks is depth. We are told that the characters are sincere in their feelings, but those feelings are conveyed well to the audience. Jae-hyun is the most effective character and that is only because he is a menacing figure...More
The highlight of KCON is undoubtedly the concerts where acts from South Korea perform for their international fans, specifically North American Fans. Although K-pop concerts are far more frequent in North America than they once were -- back in 2003 there were only a handful while 2017 has seen over eighty performances -- the number pales in comparison to the number of live performances by American artists, which is to be expected. But that disparity and the unique culture of K-pop fans came together to create an atmosphere not to be forgotten...More
One of the hottest events of KCON is the red carpet that stars walk. They get up on stage, answer questions, and engage the audience. Without further ado, let's check out the shining stars on the red carpet...More
There is good and bad to every relationship and what is wrong between the couples and friends surfaces in episode 8 of "Man-Hole". Part of the reason for the reveal is that Pil has grown up throughout his time travels. He's a little less thoughtless in his actions and more considerate not only towards Soo-jin, but his friends. He still has a long way to go, but it's a start...More
Head to KCON and there you will always find something to do, taste, see, smell, and hear. This year saw the biggest KCON to date and part of that was due to the flurry of activity. My photographer Sara and I never experienced a moment of boredom. To help you do the same in the coming years, here is a list of the top 8 things to do at KCON...More
I don't know about you, but one of my favorite parts of any big event like a convention or concert or fair is the food. This year's KCON Food Street had traditional and fusion offerings of Asian cuisine that not only tasted fabulous, but looked just as polished as your favorite Hallyu stars. With over a hundred food choices curated by KTown Night Market, Hallyu fans had plenty to satisfy their food cravings. Without further ado, let's feast our eyes on the delicacies of KCON Food Street 2017...More
The affection that I'd started to build for "Man-Hole" last week has waned this week. Watching Pil and Soo-jin hem and haw over confessing their feelings to each other is getting old. Adding Jin-sook's unrequited love compounded that sentiment. What the manhole had built in terms of anticipation last week it dissipated this week...More
Episode 6 of "Man-Hole"wasn't as impactful as episode 5 was, perhaps because the change in tone had already been made. Or perhaps it was because it was more of Pil running around. What did happen was that another set of manhole rules came into play and Pil's friends witnessed the magic of the manhole...More
Feelings are often realized when it's too late and when words and hearts can no longer be shared. This is what Pil, Soo-jin, and their friends realize in the latest reality that the manhole has wrought...More
Last weekend from August 18 to August 20, my cameraman Jason Yu and I spoke to the Hallyu fans at KCON 2017 in Los Angeles. They joined us in our "Spitfire Challenge", which is when fans answer three questions without missing a beat. How would you answer the three questions...More
Last weekend HanCinema attended KCON 2017 USA presented by Toyota in Los Angeles, which drew a record-breaking 85,000 people to the three-day event. Located at the Los Angeles Convention Center and Staples Center, KCON LA was mostly definitely chock full of activity for Hallyu lovers...More
If you're searching for a run-of-the-mill, Joseon-era film, look elsewhere because "The King's Case Note" is far from the usual sageuk (historical) fare. In fact, the entire 114 minutes of Moon Hyeon-seong's ("As One") Joseon-era whodunnit boasts of its own flavor (mostly of the comical sort), which manifests itself as a double-edged sword. Some of it was brilliantly executed, like the comic moments between the king and his chronicler (in a very Sherlock and Watson-esque pairing) that were laugh-out-loud funny, but the undependable pace that catered to the humor detracted from the film's cohesion...More
Bong Pil has gone down the rabbit hole - er, manhole - once again. With a new set of time travel rules piled atop the old, we have even more factors at play, including Pil's growing determination to take care of and win his woman...More
Bong Pil may be a lazy son-of-a-gun in his original life, but he's clever enough to quickly figure out how the manhole affects his life. It's not always for the better as episode 3 proves. Rather than a lazy neighborhood bum, time travel through the manhole has changed him into a dangerous thug, feared by his friends, disowned by his family, and estranged from the woman he loves...More
It's Throwback Thursday, which means that today is the day that we reminisce about KCON 2016. Just last year HanCinema was at the hottest Hallyu event of 2016. Let's remember the good times...More
tvN brings us more casting news for tvN's "This Life Is Our First Life" that will air after "Argon" ends in October. Esom, Kim Ga-eun, and Park Byung-eun have signed up to join stars Lee Min-ki and Jung So-min and director Park Joon-hwa ("Bring It On, Ghost" and the "Let's Eat" franchise)...More
I'm sure you've seen the banners floating around HanCinema. Now it's finally time to announce that next Friday, August 18, KCON LA 2017 -- organized by KCONUSA and presented by Toyota -- begins and HanCinema is going to be there! Come join us as we sit on panels, enjoy the food, beauty, people, and, of course, the music...More
The first episode of the time travel romcom "Man-Hole" came and went in a blur. Directors Park Man-yeong and Yoo Yeong-eun-I writer Lee Jae-gon deliver a fast-paced, frenetic opener that rushes by a little quickly to stick...More
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
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
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 Hyuk 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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
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 Bae Jong ("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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
"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 Hyuk...More
"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 Hyuk as Moo Jin-hyeok overacts as a detective who loses his wife to a brutal murder and subsequently falls apart...More
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
"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
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
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-kyu 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
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
"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
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
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.
"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
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
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
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
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
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 Cho Jung-seok who just recently finished starring in a show about jealousy, "Incarnation of Jealousy"...More
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
"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
While "The Legend of the Blue Sea" is very cute, rather on the funny side, and the chemistry between Jun Ji-hyun 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
"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 Jun Ji-hyun and her penchant for comedy are involved.
That said, Jun Ji-hyun and her spot on comedic acting can't save a lack of clean direction...More
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 Jun Ji-hyun 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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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 Jun Ji-hyun's irresistible energy.
Romance blooms quickly in this drama, growing during fights with thugs, interspecies culture clashes, and all sorts of mermaid badassery...More
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. Jun Ji-hyun 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
"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. Cho Jung-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
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 Cho Jung-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
"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
This episode was 100% about Hwa-sin and Cho Jung-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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
Cohabitation has come to a boiling point in episode 18 of "Incarnation of Jealousy". Emotions run high as Na-ri dates both Hwa-sin and Jeong-won. Add to the mix a belatedly active second lead, Anchor Hong Hye-won (Seo Ji-hye), and we have quite the sizzling episode.
Hye-won has been in the drama for a while, putting moves on Hwa-sin and flirting like the seductress that she is...More
Episode 8 of "Woman with a Suitcase" bravely tackled a very difficult subject: homosexuality. It treated the character in the episode with respect and touched upon the issue in an honest way. Of course, as a drama on a public station it couldn't challenge societal precepts, but I'm glad that the social commentary was made.
The backdrop for the episode was the case of the week, which focused on a murder revolving around the homosexual relationship of a prominent citizen...More
"Incarnation of Jealousy" revolves around complex triangles and quadrangles of emotions that will be nearly impossible to resolve. Situations mirror each other in that choices must be made to move out of limbo, but those choices aren't easy.
Before we jump into the choices being made, let's cover a touchier subject: sexual tension...More
"Woman with a Suitcase" is losing it's steam the more it goes along. The root of the problem is the lack of chemistry between the leads and the looseness with which the main intrigue is treated. There is so much potential buried within the premise, but after seven episodes the show still hasn't found its stride.
The biggest lack is the relationship between Bok-geo and Geum-joo...More
The Golden Tree legal family is starting to learn to work as a team and the only person who feels removed is Bok-geo. His jealousy over Geum-joo's attentions and his secrecy about his old case have inserted a wall between him and the others. That's okay, though. We got enough wonderful material coursing through the veins of this show to take us a long way.
One aspect of the show I am not enjoying, although I do love it for the most part, is the very dominant Bok-geo flirtation with Geum-joo...More
"Incarnation of Jealousy" has become a battle of the jealous in a very literal sense. Jeong-woo and Hwa-sin have not stopped fighting over Na-ri's attentions despite her explicit plea for them to stop. Most of the episode is dealing with the trios antics and a few big, long-awaited reveals.
The back and forth between the best friends is becoming wearisome, especially because Na-ri is not happy about it...More
"Incarnation of Jealousy" is in full blown "jealousy and turmoil" mode with breakups, fights, tears, and irrational drinking, heartbroken leads. There is also quite a hilarious cameo by Lee Sun-kyun that rounds out the episode quite nicely. Before we get to that delightful tidbit, let's review the rest of the episode.
After Na-ri cheats on both Hwa-sin and Jeong-won, she breaks up with both of them by telling them the truth, feeling horribly...More
Working in the legal profession has always been important to Geum-joo. She's good at it, and she finds it fulfilling. But events as of late have made her question her work's role in her life and how it fits in. Mix that together with Bok-geo's burgeoning feelings for her and his secrets, and with Seok-woo's likability and we have one entertaining show.
Seok-woo has joined Golden Tree and the romantic triangle is starting to heat up...More
Episode 14 of "Incarnation of Jealousy" is jammed full of raw emotions. Na-ri rallies and proves what she is made of at work while with Hwa-sin she emotionally crumples. Hwa-sin is more certain than ever about what he wants, and it isn't what he thought it would be. Jeong-won is painfully caught in the middle, wanting something that his mother doesn't support and that he ultimately can't have: Na-ri...More
"Woman with a Suitcase" is moving right along. Nothing loses steam as the episodes plow forward. Characters' backgrounds have bits and pieces revealed. Those same characters grow, however painfully. The case of the episode is interesting and full of fun twists and moral dilemmas that everyone tackles in different ways. What a refreshingly mature and fun drama this is.
Perhaps the only downside to the drama is Bok-geo's very dominant personality and his penchant for abusing his legal powers over Geum-joo...More
As truths come to light, those who learn them and share them are forced to reckon with them. Love and dating and how they interact with the career paths of our character are the focus this episode. Social hierarchies dictate the moves of some characters, and squish the dreams of others. All throughout, love weaves its tendrils and keeps a vice-like grip on her victims.
Jeong-won's mother, a powerful figure in broadcasting, has decided Jeong-won should not date Na-ri and only date the woman of her choosing...More
There is something that is so wonderfully introspective and real about "Woman with a Suitcase". It is rooted in the fact that Geum-joo is a delightful human being, a powerhouse paralegal, and confident, but also a little closed off to the opinions of others because she's lost sight of her sense of justice. It is Seok-woo who reminds her of the humanity inherent in the law and Bok-geo who gives her the means with which to practice it. These elements come together to form a great drama.
In this episode, Geum-joo is in fine form...More
"Cinderella and the Four Knights" was an adorable ride from beginning to end. Our Cinderella and her Kang cousins went through a lot, learned a lot, and grew a lot closer throughout the sixteen episodes. Ha-won got her prince, and the other prince's got their happy endings. The ride wasn't a smooth one, but it was very enjoyable.
This show's largest flaw was a lack of follow through...More
"Incarnation of Jealousy" is more than a love story; it's a story of friendship. Nothing made that clearer than this episode. Jeong-won and Hwa-sin are so endearing in their friendship that I wish we had more of them throughout the drama. The romance is compelling, but not in the way their friendship is.
Even when fighting pangs of sharp jealousy, the two gentlemen are more concerned about whether or not they're still friends than who won the fight...More
"Woman with a Suitcase" wastes no time in moving past introductions and getting to the heart of the show: the alliances and the battles that Geum-joo has to forge and wage along her long road up. Ma-seok gets more than a few minutes of screen time and we see Geum-joo's telltale smarts and tenacity carry her through her transition back into the real world.
After serving a year of jail time, Geum-joo comes back to divorce papers, no home, and no money...More
Hwa-sin wants to act on his feelings, but his conscience and his friendship with Jeong-won prevents him. His desire to be honest with his friends causes plenty of problems. Mix that together with the two moms vying for Ppalgang's attention, awkward love trios sprinkled throughout, and broadcast station politics and we have one exciting episode...More
All conflicts come to a head in this penultimate episode of "Cinderella and the Four Knights". Hyun-min finally starts to push himself to be something besides passive; Ha-won is forced to reckon with her situation; the Kang cousins come together to save something important to them. Even Yoon-seong is not what he seems.
By this point, Ji-woon has changed the most due to Ha-won's presence...More
"Woman with a Suitcase" is the story of a woman who has it all: brains, beauty, knowledge, tenacity, and a keen intuition. All she's missing is the society's seal of approval the test results to catapult her into a position of respect. This first episode is her story and how she, her sister, and those around her deal in the very tricky business of the law and the people who seek to manipulate to their will.
Kwon Eum-mi (Gapdong) is no stranger to penning procedurals or mystery, and has set up quite the story...More
Truths and lies whittle away at the happiness of our main characters, but not as much as the failing health of CEO Gramps. His lack of consciousness is a trigger for many to try to usurp power including his new wife, those in his company, and potentially our Kang cousins.
First, the CEO's wife digs her claws into the company and into Yoon-seong in order to attain her goals: money and power...More
The adorable manifestations of a mutually shared love never last long and that between Ji-woon and Ha-won lasts the length of this episode before its conclusion promises big changes on all fronts.
Ha-won has quite conveniently forgotten her contract with CEO Gramps that contains the "no dating" clause, and now it comes back to get her...More
Jealousy blooms in full force and begins to inform bigger decisions for Hwa-sin than just his stalker-like tendencies. His emotions grow larger and more powerful than his ego and can no longer be ignored or excused away. As Hwa-sin gets a handle on his feelings, Jeong-won and Na-ri are growing closer through time spent together, earnest conversation, and rather adorable interactions...More
This episode was Hwa-sin's and the struggles he faces between his unwanted feelings for Na-ri, and the implications of having breast cancer. Surrounding his plight is Ppalgang's sad situation and all the people rotating around her like planets around a sun.
What I love most about this show is how deeply it is layered...More
Last week's episode left us with a very emotionally confused Hwa-sin, but he finds himself trapped even deeper into an emotional mire he doesn't know how to extricate himself from. Around him Jeong-won and Na-ri deal with the problems that come their way while he watches with pain in his eyes. The decisions he makes are indicative of how much he's grown over the past five weeks; and also of how much his jealousy has grown.
We know that Hwa-sin has it hard...More
There was a lot of progress in episode 12 and we have Ha-won and Ji-woon to thank, but especially Ha-won. The traits that the CEO hired her for came through for her again: her faith and tenacity. Her influence causes a waterfall effect in the behavior of the Kang cousins, making them problem solve and take charge of their own lives.
As Ha-won deals with her own problems, although she wants someone to lean on, she proceeds to take care of things on her own...More
As anticipated, Hye-ji moving into Sky House causes problems, especially because her passive aggressive behavior towards Ha-won is rather viperous. The Kang cousins have trouble adjusting to her presence and the awkwardness makes Ha-won not only feel self-conscious, but lonely for the first time since she entered Sky House. That loneliness is such an interesting twist in her story...More
Feelings are starting to escalate to a point of high tension because there is still a lot of denial even more deception running amuck. Tricksters lurk around those with money, and those with money are dealing with problems of their own. Luckily for us, our heroine is forthcoming with most things besides the emotions she doesn't quite understand.
Ha-won chases after Ji-woon in the best way she knows how: with a mixture of third grade antics and brutal honesty...More
Love is in the air and with that love comes jealousy and complicated love lines. In a story as cute as this one those love lines aren't heinously annoying - just a tad annoying. The pairings of the Kang cousins and Ha-won are charming, and I like how Yoon-seong is slowly being integrated into the texture.
Ha-won hurts herself this episode, which inspires a lot of reverse harem servitude and stirs up a lot of feelings...More
Episode 7 of "Incarnation of Jealousy" is about doing wrong and the consequences of doing so. Will our characters right their wrongs? Pout about the outcomes? Ignore the advice of those closest to them? Ignore their own feelings? In this episode, it's a little bit of everything.
Let's start with an unusual character, Ppalgang. She is an important character in that she is the center around which many people rotate...More
It is an episode of goodbyes as one life comes to an end and others continue on after having loved and learned. The end of this story is the start of others, but the end doesn't mean that its true meaning does not persist. That is what Joon-young means to those he loves and to those who love him. His life was short, but his memory lasts in the hearts of those who cherished him. In that way, the ending of "Uncontrollably Fond" was beautiful. In others, it was rather puzzling...More
Each episode of "Incarnation of Jealousy" has a gimmick and something to give it weight. This episode's weighted subject matter sends the genre into black comedy and gives Hwa-sin a great amount of screen time to work out his personal issues.
Whereas last episode made use of fart jokes as a vehicle to talk about the hefty effect of cancer on one's life, to provide a lot of humor, and to have Na-ri bond with Jeong-woo, this episode's funny schtick centered around brassieres...More
The relationship between Hwa-sin and Na-ri is just so utterly delightful that it carries the entire show on its back. They are both quirky adults stumbling through life and battling the obstacles as best they can. On their journey they are joined by a great host of characters who fill out the story very nicely, especially on the comedy side. The hilarity keeps taking me by surprise, and I absolutely love it...More
Episode 19 is when we begin to say goodbye to Joon-young. His loved ones are coming to terms with his very near mortality and the results of his campaign to clear Eul's name. The results are an acute attack of moral conscience for many of the characters and a tearful denouement.
Joon-young has completed his revenge on Eul's part and starts to sit back to live out his remaining days...More
Well, I just have to say it. This show is ridiculously cute. Jung Il-woo brought out the aegyo and Ha-won manages to soften up the Kang family and friends even more with her honesty and sincerity. Again, the episode really focuses on Hyun-min and his introspection, but it also focuses on relationship development and tossing in a few more obstacles for our heroes to surmount.
The utterly horrible step-mother and step-sister are still scheming to hurt Ha-won as much as possible and plan to foist Ha-won off on a man who may or may not be her biological father...More
"Cinderella and the Four Knights" has a surprising amount of depth for its premise, reverse harem co-habitation set-up, and episodic focus on missions to solve. What follows through and really touches people is the way the boys deal with their issues. Ha-won helps the boys while also receiving something she's been lacking for many years: acceptance and love...More
Receiving the YesStyle Korean Beauty Box was such an exciting opportunity given to HanCinema. It had ten hot beauty projects for us to review and we tried them all! There were a few particular favorites amongst all the goodies. HanCinema made a video review and below you can read more on this TL;DR! Prices shown reflect yesstyle.com pricing! Good to note: YesStyle ships almost everywhere and within 24-hours. Top-quality, fast beauty. Aw, yeah!...More
"Uncontrollably Fond" has pulled out all the stops. Rich people who care nothing for others. Trucks that come out of nowhere to obliterate people. Sad breakups. Tearful confessions. Late stage cancer. You name it; it's on this table. It's an excitedly lead into this last week, but I wish there had be more of the little things. More character development. More subtle play on emotion. Less dramatic camera panning. Fewer wildly used melodramatic elements...More
What is beautiful about "Incarnation of Jealousy" is how it explores very real issues and still manages to be engaging, funny, and heartwarming. Even though I dislike Hwa-sin's behavior, I empathize with his plight. Even though I think Na-ri does wrong, I still root for her. It is the flaws of the characters, in their histories, and in their present decisions that make the characters and the stories relatable...More
Joon-yeong's memory starts falter due to his cancer and he seems to realize his mortality and becomes even bolder in his plans to set everything in Eul's life right. In fact, he becomes downright reckless, revealing dangerous truths, challenging those with terrifying amounts of power. The path he has chosen causes pain to others and himself, and I can't say watching him self-destruct is pleasant in any way, shape, or form...More
"Incarnation of Jealousy" has taken on the idea of identity and how that is shaped whether it be by gender, career, or social status. Both Na-ri and Hwa-sin suffer identity crises on a strangely parallel journey as they try to redefine themselves after a period of hardship.
Hwa-sin's dilemma mirrors one that many women with cancer of the breast and reproductive organs suffer...More
Now that it has been established that Ha-won is an important person in the Kang family we get to see how the boys go out of their way to protect her when school-aged kids turn mean, and when jealousy incites terrible behavior. As of yet, the Kang cousins haven't yet gone head to head romantically, but a declaration from one of them makes such an occurrence a bit difficult. The perfect stuffs of K-drama.
The step-family has stepped in to meddle with Ha-won's life...More
Love is in the air and it is Ha-won's earnest desire for the Kang cousins to live well that really touches them and makes their hearts flutter. Not only is she working for their benefit, but she also draws very clear lines with them, speaking her mind and keeping it real. This is a quality not found in the cousins' parents, grandfather, or any other people in their lives - its a winning quality that keeps their attention and makes it difficult to follow the "no dating" rule...More
The tone of "Incarnation of Jealousy" continues to be unusual as the drama takes on workplace romance and employee issues, themes of family, and humor that seamlessly flows in and out of the serious.
Lee Mi-sook as Gye Seong-sook and Park Ji-young as Bang Ja-yeong are part of what make the constant shift in tone so successful...More
"Uncontrollably Fond" is heading into its last two weeks and with that comes revelations for our main characters. Joon-young's cancer is discovered by Eul, but their relationship woes do not dissipate with that knowledge. There are others still in the dark, and even more people battling for power with blades of knowledge and money.
The most fully developed character is Eul...More
After the massive disputes over where "Incarnation of Jealousy" would live, it has finally found its home in SBS and has begun its twenty-four episode run in quite a lively fashion. Cho Jung-seok and Lee Hwa-sin and Gong Hyo-jin as Pyo Na-ri already have amazing chemistry together and I appreciate having two veterans in main roles. The drama wastes no time in laying down the groundwork for the drama's tone, characters, and competitive broadcasting environment...More
The major focus of the drama has been on the push and pull between Joon-young and Eul and that focus detracts greatly from the other supposedly large conflicts floating about. Those conflicts could potentially give rise to interesting explorations of the darker side of humanity so often highlighted in melodrama. Unfortunately, "Uncontrollably Fond" falls short of fulfilling those conflicts....More
The mission continues as Ha-won tries to get the three cousins to sit down for a meal. It proves a challenge as each cousin's wounds prevents him from giving the Kang family a chance. Ha-won eventually figures out that she has to get to know them in order to try and bring them closer together. In the process, they get to know her as well. It's not the smoothest "getting-to-know-you" that ever was, but that's what gives this show it's conflict.
The three cousins are showing interest in her...More
This is the episode where Ha-won and the three princes of Sky House are thrown together and forced to get used to each other by sheer proximity, and because of a mission passed down by CEO Kang. The princes flesh out their stereotypes, but still are not much more than their textbook definition. Where progress is made is in how Ha-won slowly learns about each prince. "Cinderella and the Four Knights" still very much seems like a live action shoujo/girl-aged manga, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's light-hearted, cute, and is a great way to pass the time.
A character I haven't given much attention to is Yoon-sung, CEO Kang's right-hand man who executes his will and attempts to help Ha-won manage the rogue cousins...More
This episode really touches on the plays of power. Money buys power. Health allows one to wield power. Friendship helps to guide power. Connections manipulate power. These concepts are neither new to the show or to the workings of society, but they are highlighted in ways that force the characters to act. Most of the same ol' shenanigans continue throughout this episode and leave me with little to talk about.
Joon-young waffles between living by his standards of guilt, or by the pull of his love for Eul...More
"Uncontrollably Fond" has one goal: keep the tension high. Two major secrets are fueling that tension, the truth about Joon-young's health and the truth surrounding his birth. All other tensions stem from that and other similar secrets. Scenes and action wades through problems caused by these secrets while Eul remains a plucky heroine despite Joon-young's treatment of her.
Eul is convinced that Joon-young still loves her, and she would be right...More
"Cinderella and the Four Knights"'s second episode is more introduction because we need to get Cinderella into the palace. In order to do that, the story beats to the ground with birth secrets, money woes, and contentious interactions with the three Kang cousins of Sky House. The cousins have no easy go at things either as their CEO Chaebol Granddaddy uses his money to buy their obedience. This is most likely going to be a theme and I have a feeling Cinderella will not only change the hearts of the cousins, but of their grandfather as well...More
Pre-produced, manhwa-based "Cinderella and the Four Knights" is everything one would expect out of a fairytale inspired drama. It's a mix of the classic Cinderella, a bit of hardworking Candy, and a whole lot of typical drama tropes with chaebol grandfather's, monster inheritances, some fine acting, and some mediocre acting.
I come at this drama not having read the source material, the manhwa by Baek Myo begun in 2011. HanCinema readers, if you have, please chime in and let me know what you think!...More
Some secrets find their way to the surface, but rather than bringing relief, they create more tension and send other secrets further into hiding. All four of our romantic leads are experiencing loads of pain in the form of betrayal, heartache, and the physical as they become aware of each other and are forced into very awkward confontations.
The intrigue of "Uncontrollably Fond" lies in intricate web of lies and relationships...More
This episode focused on the mother's: Joon-young's mother and Ji-tae's mother. While the majority of the hour was spent on dredging up the past and repeating mistakes that should've been learned from, we clearly see the motivations behind some characters that remained opaque until now.
Highlighting the weaknesses that have plagued Joon-young's mother's character, this episode finally delved into the reasoning behind her poor treatment of her son...More
There is something magical about a K-pop concert. Perhaps it's the well-known talent, finesse, and beauty of K-pop stars. Perhaps it's the zest, intricacy, and cleverness of their music. Perhaps it's the fact that live K-pop performances are not easily come by in North America. KCON USA has been the major organization through which K-pop has become more accessible. Smaller organizers have begun to make places like New York and LA hotspots for K-pop. But the opportunity to see favorites is still far and few between.
Regardless of the "why", the concerts at KCON LA 2016 presented by Toyota were a surreal experience. Let's jump into the first night of concerts when acts from rookie to pro graced the stage and had the crowd roaring the entire time...More
"Uncontrollably Fond" is an interesting mix of very beautiful staging and cinematography and a glacial plot pace. The story moves along so slowly that it's difficult to make it through an episode because there is no impetus for curiosity of the events in the show. Part of the lack of forward motion is caused by undeveloped characters, which by episode 10 in a drama, should not happen...More
Plot threads start to twist and knot as underlying relationships between characters are exposed to the audience. Those aware of the dark, painful secrets become typical melodramatic characters who make bad decisions and pine and brood at their misfortune. There is some happiness present as well, which in a Lee Kyeong-hee drama is normally fleeting...More
KCON LA 2016 presented by Toyota flew by last weekend from Friday July 29 to Sunday July 31. Saturday and Sunday were special because crowd favorites walked the red carpet dressed to impress just before the big M Countdown concerts. Game faces were on and many groups' serious expressions belied their exuberance on stage. Nerves probably plagued the younger groups or groups who had not yet stepped on a KCON stage. Fans who gathered to cheer them on shouted their support and love, and even received love in return.
Let's take a look at some amazing red carpet highlights from Saturday and Sunday...More
KCON is the biggest Hallyu convesntion in North America for five years and running and day 1 kicked off the biggest convention yet. KCON LA 2016 presented by Toyota started off with a bang yesterday, July 28 at the LA Convention Center. Fans poured in, ready for three days of K-pop, Korean food, Korean beauty, K-drama, and more...More
"Uncontrollably Fond" is overwhelmingly about Joon-yeong and his arduous journey. The other characters are present and they receive screen time, but it is Kim Woo-bin who carries the show with his hot-tempered and life-loving Joon-yeong.
Not that Joon-yeong is a perfect character...More
Episode 7 of "Uncontrollably Fond" explored the romantic relationships in the drama: No Eul and Joon-yeong, Assemblyman Choi and his love for Joon-yeong's mother, Ji-tae and Jeong-eun. The malicious story elements like cancer, paparazzi, and meddling families were all present, but they took a back seat to relationship development...More
(Photo courtesy of CJ E&M)
It is D-2 days before KCON LA 2016 presented by Toyota and we're getting pumped here at HanCinema. The three day convention held at the staples center from July 29 to July 31 is going to be jam packed full of activities for Hallyu lovers. Here's a list of the top 7 things to check out and do while you're there...More
"Seoul Searching" is a John Hughes-esque teenage romcom that evolves through its one hour and forty-five minute runtime. Director and writer Benson Lee, who based the story on his own experiences in a 1986 Korean summer camp, serves up characters in the forms of teenage stereotypes that gradually take on individual personalities. The cast is made up of fresh-faced ethnic Korean actors from all over the world such as Korean-German Teo Yoo as Klaus and Korean-Spanish Esteban Ahn as Sergio. Joining them are Korean-American Justin Chon (Twilight, "Dramaworld"), Korean veteran actor Cha In-pyo, budding actress Kang Byul ("God's Gift - 14 Days", "The Rooftop Prince"), and Korean-American Jessika Van (MTV's Awkward). The disparate cast, although all of Korean heritage, reflects the core theme of the film, which is self-discovery. It is their mutual Korean heritage that brings them together, but their experiences that keep them that way. Welcome a film that sends a universal message of teenage loneliness via culture clash that results in human growth and understanding...More
KCON LA 2016 presented by Toyota is only a few days away from July 29 to July 31 at the Staples Center. To get you ready for it, HanCinema has one last beauty booth feature to share from KCON NY 2016. We'll take a look at Zazen Bear, Glow Recipe, MustaeV, Duft & Doft with beauty vlogger Sarang. Don't forget that at the bottom of this article are three chances to win beauty products! And now to explore some amazing Korean beauty and skincare companies...More
Episode 6 was No Eul's episode. It was her turn to discover and reflect instead of recklessly living. Her character up until this point has charged forward, doing anything and everything to earn the money to keep her and her brother afloat. Although she professes love for Ji-tae, it is Joon-yeong who gives her pause and challenges her current lifestyle.
As Joon-yeong and No Eul adventure to the ocean to escape the paparazzi, the not-quite-a-couple couple start to learn about each other in the most interesting episode thus far...More
The somber note that sounded throughout last week's episodes of "Uncontrollably Fond" was little seen in episode 5. Only with Ji-tae, secret chaebol and Daddy Longlegs extraordinaire, did the angst verge momentarily above the surface. What rose to the surface we the re-kindled interest between Joon-yeong and No Eul and the heavy baggage of dating in the limelight.
What struck me most about the episode was how normal Joon-yeong appeared and how hard he worked to maintain that guise...More
The last episode of "Beautiful Gong Shim" was everything I had expected it to be and a little less. Each story was addressed, however awkwardly and the guy got his girl. The beauty of Dan-tae's weird character carried through to the end even if other elements did not.
Gong Mi's past is revealed, but not in the way one would expect...More
Episode 19 of "Beautiful Gong Shim" is where all the action is. Joon-soo's uncle is caught by his own avarice and stupidity, Joon-soo chooses the righteous path, and Dan-tae solves a decades old mystery while getting his girl. That girl, Gong Shim, didn't have much to do with the episode, which left most of it without Bang Minah's bright Gong Shim...More
The intersections of relationships and individual goals begin to clear up in episode 4 of "Uncontrollably Fond". And, rather than settling down, the personalities of the main leads remain as capricious as ever and are defined situationally. This episode was Kim Woo-bin's, however. Each scene he was in was laced with such intensity. Bae Suzy has also been realistic as No Eul.
I mentioned in the last review that Joon-yeong's illness had not been mentioned in a while and this episode addresses that in spades...More
"Uncontrollably Fond"'s penchant for bookending episodes with dilemma's in the character's present is already a repetitive plot tool. It is attempting to draw parallels between past and present, and work the story in a non linear fashion, but these efforts come off as heavy-handed. The glimpse into the past is welcome, but Joon-yeong's motivations are hard to follow and make the past a messy place to be.
The first two episodes indicated that Joon-yeong wanted some sort of revenge on No Eul...More
At KCON New York 2016 presented by Toyota HanCinema had the privilege and the pleasure of being on two panels with some amazing colleagues: "The Return of the Secret Life of K-pop Fans Over 30" and "From K-pop Fan to K-pop Professional". These panels represented HanCinema's first panel experience at KCON and we felt so welcomed by our fellow panelists.
Hallyu professionals from all over the spectrum gathered to talk about their expertise, and their passion...More
After far too long, Dan-tae and Joon-soo have finally joined hands as they have always been meant to do. Their short stint at enemies was contrived and ineffective. Their brotherhood is much more powerful when it is in full bloom and in the light of cooperation and friendship. Writer Lee Hee-myeong's strength is found in the sweet, kind, and/or funny interactions between characters. Where that strength wanes is in conflict.
Part of the issue centers around the fact that Joon-soo's uncle is, as I've said before, an impotent villain...More
"Beautiful Gong Shim" has all the right trappings to be a great drama, but it manages to lose steam in every aspect but the romance between Gong Shim and Dan-tae, which is sweet and winning. Dan-tae has uncovered a huge truth, but his methods have been driven by rage and pain. Joon-soo has uncovered the same truth, but reacted by escaping. The two cousins, once close because of their mutual kindness and enjoyable differences, are now drawn apart by their family drama. This show seems to be trying to pull them back together, but not without wrenching them apart in rather ridiculous ways first...More
KCON New York 2016 presented by Toyota featured over ninety booths in the outdoor convention, and many of them were beauty booths. HanCinema stopped by the booths to chat with the businesses that bring Korean beauty products and skin care to New York and the rest of the world outside beauty-forward South Korea. Let's take a look a four amazing companies that set up booths at the Prudential Center June 24 and June 25 for KCON New York 2016! Don't forget to check out the instructions at the bottom of the article to enter our giveaway. Three mystery beauty gift bags are up for grabs this go 'round...More
The dark past is unveiled, at least partially, in episode number 2 of "Uncontrollably Fond" that sat prettily atop the drama ranks at 12.5%, matching the first episode's rating. No Eul and Joon-yeong in their high school years are those who have not: they lack power, money, and influence, three assets that their opponents have in abundance.
A complex web of family relations, payoffs, deals, loans sharks, and emotional agony was woven during No Eul's and Joon-yeong's high school years...More
Nearly a year has passed since the first whispers of new pre-produced KBS2 drama "Uncontrollably Fond" began floating about. Writer Lee Kyeong-hee who penned popular dramas such as "Nice Guy", "Will It Snow for Christmas?", and "A Love to Kill" returns for another sixteen episode dramawith Director Park Hyeon-seok of sageuk sensation "The Princess' Man" and the recent "Spy - Drama". It came in on top of the pack at 12.5%.
The first episode of "Uncontrollably Fond" was beautifully shot as is typical of Director Park, but tonally ambiguous, which is typical of Writer Lee...More
The truth is stuck and it won't come out. Misunderstandings fuel all plot movement and its more than mildly infuriating. It's an attempt to pit Joon-soo and Dan-tae against each other when both men are really much too intelligent to let the mechanizations of the not-so-bright uncle tear them apart. Although emotionally driven, Dan-tae is a lawyer and should be able to figure out the truth. He probably will, but the show chooses to let misunderstandings linger and fester.
Joon-soo's uncle sees Joon-soo with Dan-tae and purposefully tries to wrench the cousins apart...More
"Beautiful Gong Shim" is a blend of zesty chemistry between the leads and and deadweight mystery. Gong Shim and Dan-tae are refreshing together in their honesty and unconditional love. The mystery is so clunky and the villains are so ineffective that the plot lacks genuine intrigue.
Joon-soo's uncle is at the core of the kidnapping case, but the man is such an ineffective villain that drawing out the kidnapping case any longer would be stretching the plot beyond thin...More
The second year of KCON New York held June 24 and June 25 at the Prudential Center shaped up to be an incredible event that attracted 42,000 Hallyu fans, nearly two and a half times as many fans as its inaugural year of 17,000. Half of the fans in attendance came from outside the New York metro area. Not only did fan numbers swell, but the convention enjoyed double the sponsorship, over ninety booths, and triple the workshops and panels. HanCinema was on two of those panels and will also participate in panels at KCON LA July 29 through July 30. We also visited many of the booths at the convention and have fantastic, high-quality beauty items for giveaway. Check out the giveaway instructions at the bottom of this list of highlights to learn how to enter! And don't worry, you will have more chances to win Korean beauty products! Keep following our KCON New York coverage to find out more!
And now, without further ado, here are the top 8 highlights of the KCON New York 2016 Convention of all things Hallyu...More
Because there were so many funs things to do an see at KCON New York 2016, we at HanCinema wanted to make sure to share as much as possible with HanCinema readers. So, every Saturday until KCON LA we're going to post a photogallergy from KCON NY to tide you over to the next exciting con! Without further ado, here is a glorious KCON New York 2016 picture explosion...More
The conflict in "Beautiful Gong Shim" is quite contrived. Circumstances are such that the show should have a constant thread of tension weaving in and out of scenes and character development, but the tension flags and wanes on such a regular basis that it is no longer compelling.
The main source of this tension, or the lack of it, is Dan-tae's childhood kidnapping and the family members involved...More
This episode answered many of the questions I have been posing, but in strange bursts of emotional exposition and flashbacks. Rather than work linearly, the show has chosen to reveal answers as strangely placed afterthoughts. This plot structure isn't the problem; it's the fact that the use of it made a lot of character behavior for the past two episodes completely baffling.
Dan-tae has revealed himself to his grandmother, which explains his distinct lack of emotional response to finding his long lost family after he discovered his identity...More
The second day of KCON NY 2016 presented by Toyota was even more exciting than the first. Anticipation for the concert kept energy levels as high as the heat index and the love for all things Hallyu was palpable.
HanCinema had finished its panels the day before and had the chance to attend other panels by amazing Hallyu professionals...More
Action-packed Day 1 of KCON New York at the Prudential Center is over and it was amazing! Even though temperatures spiked to 83°F, that didn't stop devoted Hallyu fans from flocking to KCON to get their full doses of Hallyu goodness. Kathryn and I got there around 9 A.M. to check in and scope the place out. The lines to enter the convention were already massively long.
Never doubt a Hallyu fan, though. The lines weren't a deterrent to happiness...More
It's finally T-1. KCON New York 2016 will dawn bright and early tomorrow morning and HanCinema is going to be there to give you all the goods. Yours truly will be there, Lisa Espinosa AKA Raine, accompanied by Kathryn Kiefhaber, and with our favorite Community Manager/Behind-the-Scenes Evil Genius, Orion, working her social media magic...More
As tensions at the company escalate in tandem with Dan-tae's executive pin investigation, his eyes of suspicion include his bromantic buddy, Joon-soo. No one is safe as Dan-tae delves to the bottom of his kidnapping and into his father's attack, including Dan-tae himself. He is so reckless in regards to the emotional well-being of those around him that it's a good thing Gong Shim has decided to stick to him like glue.
The course of events in the show is predictable and only balanced by the significant character strides made by Gong Shim...More
If you've been following HanCinema's social media, you already know that we're going to KCON New York 2016 held at the Prudential Center June 24 and June 25! Whoohoo! The HanCinema team is going to bring you the latest on all the wonderful happenings of KCON NY as well as participate in two Hallyu panels...More
As Dan-tae takes off down the road of the weary, weighed down by his birth secret and the complications associated with it, Gong Shim becomes the breath of fresh air that he once was. Her blossoming love for Dan-tae, the man who never judged her and saw her as she was is allowing her to do the same for him. Unfortunately, he feels he's not in the place to accept her feelings and thus begins the angst.
The episode focuses on Dan-tae's mission to discover who was at the scene of his father's attack and while his dogged pursuit is admirable, the circumstances in which he finds himself are utterly comical rather than full of the gravity they should be...More
The boys of Entertainer Band scraped and clawed their way from the bottom to the top, past obstacles of evil female idols, ambitious CEOs, slimy managers, and reformed souls. If you're looking for an underdog story with a touch of romance, a solid OST, some cute guys in a band, and a friendship-related family, then "Entertainers" is for you.
The drama may not be the most cohesive in its follow through of the big issues, but it knows how to deliver emotional punches...More
The penultimate episode of "Entertainers" rounded out a persistent conflict of Seok-ho's, focused on the neglected romances, and revealed a few juicy morsels about the boys of Entertainer Band. Like the rest of the drama, this episode trudged along at a leisurely pace that highlighted the lack of material left to fill the two episode extension.
Guilt is a heavy and pervasive emotion that weighed down Seok-ho and, in its incongruous way, spurred him to do right by his band...More
And with a final episode that was a concoction of everything but the kitchen sink, "The Royal Gambler" comes to and end. The show had a few highlights, but mostly it was messy. The finale emphasized the loneliness of the throne, the fight with politics to do what is best for a nation at large, and a friendship between brothers of different social standing. The buildup to the Musin rebellion was long and arduous, minor characters were left half-developed and our main characters suffered personality changes and strange character trajectories.
The most beautiful moment of this final episode, and indeed in quite a few episodes, was the last scene of the brothers meeting in secret, enjoying one another's company and allowing a lonely king to have, if but for a moment, a true friend with whom he can feel a bit less lonely...More
The Musin rebellion is underway and In-jwa is desperate to make it happen - desperate enough to sacrifice people in order to achieve his endgoal of saving those very same people. King Yeongjo faces the same dilemma. Does he listen to Dae-gil's pleas and trust in the faithfulness of his people and in Dae-gil's master plan or does he use his troops to cut down the rebels and restore peace?
In-jwa has, finally, gone off the deep end...More
This was Dan-tae's episode as he explored the murky waters of his past. Although a little on the slow side, the episode allowed for Dan-tae to naturally flow through a hefty emotional cycle. It also gave Gong Shim ample opportunity to realize her affections for Dan-tae and to shower him with them.
At this point I expect for the chaebol trappings to be fitted to Dan-tae and hamper his signature slovenly style...More
As Dan-tae tackles the deception that shrouds his kidnapping twenty-six years ago, we are treated to a B-rated detective mystery. The story is crafted around isolated events and the intrigue is instigated by the less-than-thrilling mechanizations of Joon-soo's uncle and his mother. Luckily, the chemistry between Dan-tae and Gong Shim is fiery and their scenes are adorable.
Dan-tae may be an awkward, slovenly fellow, but part of that act is a facade...More
"Entertainers" has fallen into a predictable pattern: the fallen will redeem themselves except for CEO Joon-seok, and not even that is set in stone. Characters aren't developing as much as reacting to events. Tears are the main staple of emotional provocation. While the situations the characters find themselves in are moving, and Ji Sung is great, it's starting to get dull. And I'm worried the last two episodes will be one big cheeseball romantic fest, or have a quick dash of excitement to keep audiences guessing.
Like Seok-ho, Joo-han, and Jinu before him, Joon-ha, the singer who stole Ha-neul's older brother's song, is forced to reckon with his past and make the right decision...More
The elements of "Entertainers" that make it poignant are also its weak points. Ji Sung is powerful in his delivery of melodrama and tears, the crying is appropriately moving, and the conflict is well set-up, if a bit slow. And that's the crux of the matter: everything is a bit slow and tends to perseverate.
In real life, tragedy is consuming and the person suffering from tragedy may take years to a lifetime to deal with that tragedy...More
The story did jump ahead to focus on the Musin Rebellion and it chooses to skip a lot of what made King Yeongjo such an effective leader, instead painting him as ruthless while Dae-gil is the voice of reason and of the people. The personality change in Yeongjo (formerly Prince Yeoning) is troubling as was Dae-gil's shift from buffoon to cool-headed military leader. He lost most of what made him fun.
There is a major time skip in this episode that is not clearly defined by the writer...More
Episode 21 of "The Royal Gambler" was riddled with action, blood, death, and promises for more of the same. Yeoning learns what a path to the throne is built on: sacrifice and tears. Dae-gil watches his brother suffer as he work to foil In-jwa at every carefully planned junction. While history lives on in this rendition of Yeongjo's life, it really isn't very interesting. The pace of the episode saves it from being overly dull.
For the sake of the show it seems as if the timeline of historical events has been crunched into a shorter span of time...More
"Beautiful Gong Shim" is about finding the truth in this episode. The truth about the past; the revelation of truth; discovering the truth about oneself. The show doesn't do anything revolutionary, but there are some great moments that keep it moving forward and from being totally predictable.
Gong Mi has predictably begun to be trapped by her own web of lies...More
Despite the fact that "Beautiful Gong Shim" has a lot of the extra baggage found in most K-dramas, it's still one of the cutest shows I've seen in a long time. The main couple is so endearing in their interactions that it's easy to forget the extra malarky that surrounds them. This has everything to do with the writing, the chemistry between Namgoong Min and Bang Minah, and both actors' knacks for delivering emotionally intense scenes.
The typical K-drama setup where the evil mom interferes almost had me fuming out of my ears...More
Na Hong-jin ("The Chaser", "The Yellow Sea") has brought the world another blockbuster that screened at Cannes, was picked up by Well Go USA Entertainment, and released in North American June 3. Welcome horror mystery "The Wailing" to the ranks of the modern day film successes. It boasts of the eighth largest Korean opening, a two and a half hour run time, a myriad of horror and thriller elements, and a little bit of the absurd...More
Realization is the name of the game in episode 14 of "Entertainers". Secrets are discovered in a flurry of activity that hurries the plot line along, but not always for the better. Some of the discoveries are made in ways that leave one puzzled as to how they came about. Others are emotively depicted. The juxtaposition between the good and the bad and this show has always been stark and obvious.
The plot elements of the show that were welcome, but seemed forced, were some of what I had been asking for earlier: follow through...More
"Entertainers" is such a mix of fabulous and puzzling that it bears watching. Ji Sung is killing it. This particular episode had so many feels that they almost blinded me to the shows inadequacies.
The most jarring part of the episode was the swift conclusion of Ha-neul's false sexual assault accusations...More
This episode of "The Royal Gambler" attempts to delve into the faction wars between Noron and Soron and works with historical rumors to do so. It's actually a very exciting time. Unfortunately, the plotting seems more like classroom gossip than the immense political tug-of-war than it really is.
King Sukjong has finally passed and the four years of sickly Gyeongjong's reign begins...More
The seeds of doubt planted by In-jwa into the minds of the brothers have taken root. Although both young men want to believe in each other, the situations at hand render them unable to fully trust. It is this method by which In-jwa has succeeded time and time again in "The Royal Gambler".
I feel like a broken record when it comes to this show...More
"Beautiful Gong Shim"'s excellence rides on the quirkiness of Dan-tae's character, the depth of Namgoong Min's acting, and the refreshing Bang Minah as Gong Shim. The surrounding elements are clunky, but pale in comparison to the main couple.
The show's strength is also its weakness...More
Episode 5 of "Beautiful Gong Shim" was all about Dan-tae and his massive crush on Gong Shim. A crush is nothing new, but his awkward, childlike crush and the uniqueness of Dan-tae as a person is what makes his endearingly sweet and great drama material. It counterbalances the usual dose of chaebol backstories, family strife, and evil unnis.
Speaking of evil unnis, Gong Mi gets a little taste of karma as she is framed and forced to resign...More
The romance of "Entertainers" has finally kicked up a notch and sparked a few real flames. Seok-ho and Green have a few wonderful moments together. Yeon-soo's life is cracked open for us to peer at and understand that he really is as sweet as he seems to be. The characters are what make "Entertainers" worth the watch. The plot leaves something left to be desired.
Rather than layering story elements and plot threads, the drama has laid out a few central conflicts and peeled away layers of it...More
This episode of "Entertainers" was particularly heartwarming. As is the trend with the drama, things resolve a bit too easily and the media doesn't have enough power. Despite those faults, there is just something about Seok-ho and his boys that turns hearts into puddles of goo and defy all logic.
There is something special about the brotherhood and family forged by the characters in "Entertainers"...More
My frustration with show hasn't ceased, but at least it's just about to jump into some action. In-jwa has been incensed and finally takes a decisive course of action. This is welcome as the bonds between characters (save perhaps the brothers), is quite weak. Without any strong bonds between In-jwa and Dam-seo, or Dam-seo and the two brothers who love her, this episode truly fell flat as did her prolonged death scene. Attempts to stir tension remain unsuccessful attempts. At least this show boasts of a stellar cast.
The show seems to be aiming to build up towards In-jwa's rebellion, which means we have two major deaths to get through and a King Yeongjo to crown...More
Yi In-jwa and his nine lives are quite tiresome. The character sticks around beyond all reason. Rather than focus on his ridiculous mechanizations, why can't the show take some real historical happenings and buff them out for this rendition of King Sukjong's and Yeoning's lives? In any case, In-jwa is still here and fluctuating between the maniacal and the serene. Scenes of his omnipotence are punctuated by a few good moments of brotherly love, a death, and some massive political plans that don't feel very massive.
Yeoning is in a pivotal position right now, learning the inner workings of palace politics, the molasses-like speed of the political machine, and the extent of his own power...More
There is a clear break between what is good and what is not so good in "Beautiful Gong Shim". What is good is so delightfully strong in content and execution while what is bad is draggy and dull. Any scene with Namgoong Min is fantastic. Family affairs are bogging the drama down and there may be more of it to come as families begin to interfere with more aspects of the plot.
Dan-tae's grandmother is a wreck of a woman...More
"Beautiful Gong Shim" just keeps getting better. Yes, there are the usual doses of selfish rich folk, conniving siblings, and sad backstories, but the balance between them and the hearty stories behind our leads is pitch perfect. And we finally get to dig into Gong Shim as more than just a woman to be pitied. She is so rich after this episode, and her interactions with quirky, tender-hearted Dan-tae are absolutely winning.
We learn that Gong Shim has been neglected her whole life, as we suspected, in favor of her beautiful, smart, well-employed older sister...More
Director Jo Sung-hee's "Phantom Detective" is a play on the crime noir complete with anti-hero Hong Gil-dong (Lee Je-hoon), a decrepit town, deranged villains, and stylized filming that brings the world of the comic book to life. There are also two unlikely sidekicks, two little girls who rework Gil-dong's damaged psyche over the course of the film.
"Phantom Detective" was released in Korea May 4, 2016 and 508,000 filmgoers (19.9%) sat down to watch a modern take of the classic Korean tale of "Hong Gil Dong...More
"Entertainers" episode 10 was, simply put, the strongest it has ever been. The emotional beats were well-played, flowed into plot action, and then twisted into gripping turmoil. My complaints remain, but episode 10 effectively minimized them to nearly negligible.
All of the inherent goodness of the relationships between our boys, Green, Min-joo, Seok-hoo, and Man-seok in "Entertainer Band" has built a solid emotional ground for the team to stand on...More
The glitter of "Entertainers" has dulled a bit as the drama soldiers on, doing battle with backstories, overbearing mothers, tragic pasts, and personal foibles. The setup and premise of "Entertainers" is as solid as ever, but the resolutions of issues is a point of contention between me and this show.
Jae-hoon's story was the central focus of episode 9...More
"The Royal Gambler" should've been slated for sixteen episodes. At this point we're at episode 16 and had the action been condensed into a shorter broadcasting period, perhaps the action would feel, well, more exciting. We have eight episodes to go and it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is a bad guy; there are two brothers who have the potential to become deadly enemies; there are sick parents; and there are parents who aren't all dead.
Rather than the multiple stabbings that littered the first third of the drama, this second third of the drama is full of family angst and of the characters discovering their identities...More
"The Royal Gambler" has reached a stasis in ratings at 8.4%. Despite big reveals and a lot of action, these events lack the impact that is necessary to drawn in viewers. Predictability is a double-edged sword. It can heighten anticipation, but it can also deflate said anticipation if it is used too often. In the case of "The Royal Gambler", the story holds no true angst or surprise.
Both Yeoning and Dae-gil discovered their relationship with each other while In-jwa continues to have everything go his way...More
Namgoong Min carries "Beautiful Gong Shim" from moment to poignant moment. Bang Minah and On Joo-wan are delightful as well, but it is Namgoong who is the lifeblood of the drama. There is a freedom with which he plays the mysterious, slovenly, goofy, irreverent yet thoughtful Ahn Dan-tae that allows the character to be such a strange, yet lovable, amalgamation of traits.
Before I delve more into why Ahn Dan-tae (and Namgoong Min) is so strong, let's take a look at what we've learned this first week of "Beautiful Gong Shim"...More
SBS's new Saturday/Sunday twenty-episode drama "Beautiful Gong Shim" was much more than its lackluster promotion. It was zippy, fun, and put two unique characters at the helm, Gong Shim (Bang Minah) and Ahn Dae-tae (Namgoong Min). I have to say that I hope neither of them change much, save maybe to fall in love with each other. It's rare to find such refreshingly frank and straightforward characters on Korean television.
Gong Shim is the "ugly" younger sister...More
Sunday May 8, 2016 was a momentous day for SHINee fans. It was the day that SubKulture Entertainment brought them to the Rosemont Theater for their very first North American fanmeet! Although the boys had been to Toronto on Friday and Los Angeles on Saturday, they were still brimming with energy and excitement to meet their fans.
They weren't the only ones. Fans from all over the U.S., North America, and indeed the world, came to see the popular SM Entertainment K-pop group...More
"Entertainers" is getting messier in organization but that didn't stop it from tying with "Goodbye Mr. Black" at 8.6% for first place tonight. Indubitably, the spike upwards in ratings are due to the increased romantic presence in the storyline and with Ha-neul's direct confrontation with Jinu.
The sexual assault scandal and how desperately the characters endeavor to hide or expose it provides a lot of raw plot fodder...More
The dark truth that connects the unfortunate young people in "Entertainer" is twisted by lies as those involved try to prevent it from surfacing, and wrecking havoc on their lives and careers. This truth may not be as riveting to viewers as it is to the characters as ratings came in lower this week at 7.8%. Whatever the reasons may be, the undercurrent of tension caused by the buried sexual assault scandal is palpable. This doesn't stop the Entertainer band family from growing closer and from opening up to each other.
Now that we know the backstories of our main characters, the rest of the band is getting a little spotlight...More
Ratings go down for "The Royal Gambler" as my opinion of it goes up. Isn't it funny how such things work? The brothers triumphed together last episode and this episode brought the expected troubles and downfall. Dae-gil, despite his luck, continues to be trampled upon by the driven In-jwa. Yeoning, despite his good intentions, is dragged down by those who love him. Also, he discovers that Dae-gil is his brother, which adds a dimension to his character and a stronger dynamic to his relationship with Dae-gil.
Yeoning sticks to his beliefs, much as he did in real life...More
"The Royal Gambler" came in at 8.7% for episode 13, maintaining it's percentage rating. The show, however, has improved from the hyperactive activity that defined its first few weeks. Now the plot steadily moves forward. It does this by adding characters and their personal intrigues and motivations, and letting the main cast react to them. This is all fine and well, but it does make the drama lose tension.
Perhaps the biggest plot points at play now are the fact that the two brothers are now teammates, and that there are three women on Dae-gil's love radar...More
SHINee has come to Chicago, folks. It wasn't just as part of a lineup of K-pop artists, but as a headliner of their own event: their very first U.S. fanmeet. They met their enthusiastic fans at the Rosemont Theater in Chicago at 7pm thanks to the hard work of the people at SubKulture Entertainment. Fans from all over the U.S., and indeed a few dedicated international fans, trekked to Chicago to meet the K-pop superstars who are about to celebrate their eighth anniversary on May 25, 2016...More
"Entertainers" is moving full-stead ahead as the drummer joins the band, Seok-ho finds the will to move forward, and the bad guys plan their nefarious deeds to cover up past nefarious deads. A little awkwardness in plot organization gums up the works, but the damage isn't too bad. The show is doing better in ratings as well - 8.3%.
What was awkward in this episode was the attempt to speed up the pace by explaining a way a lot of time and the formation of the band and the album...More
"Entertainers" comes in at 7.4% and delivers heavy feels, buckets of tears, and a whole lot of family fuzzies. The band of misfits that makes up Seok-ho's indie rock band has come together for the love of music, and because they found something special in each other. Sure, there are a few things that I questioned along the way, but Directors Hong and Lee paired with Writer Yoo deliver a powerful hour of entertainment.
This drama doesn't waste time with keeping secrets...More
"The Royal Gambler" continues to hold steady in second place as its rating rises to 9.2%. Seol Im returns to add another wheel to the love quadrangle, but her character is rich and and example of a strong woman. Our brothers grow closer in a way that makes me think we're in for heartache in the future - it's too good to be true.
Both brothers are rough and tough on the outside, but inwardly respect each other and their mutual goals...More
It is in this episode, which came in second at 8.9%, that we really see the seeds of history taking root in our characters. Prince Yeoning, who later becomes one of the most favorably looked upon kings in history, begins his epic, lifelong battle against unfair taxation and the mistreatment of the lower class. Dae-gil, the son of Sukbin's who died according to historical documentation, walks towards a common goal with Prince Yeoning although they're coming from opposite sides of life. They are juxtaposed in this episode and begin a partnership that is fun, although changes are that it will be severed later.
Yeoning battled the unfair distribution of wealth his entire life, so this episode is only the tip of the iceburg...More
Despite wavering ratings, "Entertainers" continues strongly. Ji Sung is just hitting this role out of the park. Kang Min-hyuk had the chance to really open up as Ha-neul truly lets himself feel the after effects of the horrors in his life. We get some backstory on Green. And that pesky mystery, it just keeps throwing curve balls at us. Honestly, I could just sit here all day and watch this fledgling band bicker and rehearse all day. The romance really isn't necessary...at all. You think I'm joking.
When Seok-ho leans in close in order to make a point, Green is shaken by his nearness and overpowering masculinity...More
As with all of the strongest dramas, "Entertainers" has begun to put together the one thing that always grabs at hearts and convinces the viewer to invest into it. It has created a family, a band family. A group of hurting misfits band together (pun intended) for the love of music, and will most certainly learn to love each other. Even ruthless Seok-ho is starting to show his gooey center. Perhaps that is helping the climbing rating - a 7.2%.
While Seok-ho endeavors to pick his life and career up off of the ground, so do Ha-neul, Kyle (Gong Myung), and Green...More
This episode of "The Royal Gambler" brought it up to 8.9% and into second place. There was some romance, a smidge of character growth, and plenty of revenge. Despite all fo that, I was extremely disinterested in the episode. It was very explanation oriented and lacked the action that defined earlier episodes. I never thought I'd say that.
What was solid about this episode was the direction...More
"The Royal Gambler" came in at the bottom of the pack at 8.0%, but the quality of the show is better than it has been. There is plot movement, character development, action, and political happenings that aren't deadly dull. Not to say that the show doesn't have flaws, but the tone has settled alongside the no-longer-erratic pacing.
The biggest flaw in the show is that both King Seokjong and In-jwa are nearly omniscient...More
"Time Renegades" the time-travel film from Director kwak Jae-Yong ("Daisy", "My Sassy Girl") came in number one its opening weekend and for good reason. It was a slick piece that balanced the two worlds it depicted and the relationship between dream-tied strangers realistically and with plenty of suspense. It premiered in South Korea on April 13, 2016, and had its North American release by CJ E&M on April 22, 2016...More
"Descendants of the Sun" aired its last special today and it was full of the goodies I wished that the first two had contained. We got interviews, behind the scenes, stories, cute moments, history, and more. It was a fun hour of insight into the insanely popular show whose ratings climaxed at 38.8%, whose Chinese views reached 3 billion, and who has had countless parodies made of its memorable scenes.
The last special was full of interviews with Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo, Jin Goo, Kim Ji-won, and Directors Baek Sang-hoon and Lee Eung-bok...More
"Entertainers" came in at 6.6%, but the rating does not reflect the quality of this show, its premise, or the performances of the cast. If episode 1 was dead on in its pacing and emotional delivery, then episode 2 can only be described as blowing the first episode out of the water. The desperation of hitting rock bottom gives birth to hope, and that's what Seok-ho and Ha-neul feel about their potential partnership. They have a long way to go, but I'm so excited to see them get there...More
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
Wow. I really like "Entertainers". It delivered the necessary introductory episode with panache and Ji Sung hit his character Sin Seok-ho right out of the park. Hyeri as Green, who doesn't look like she's just recovered from a very serious disease, it just as powerful as she was in career-maker Answer Me 1988. Kang Min-hyuk as the quiet, brilliant Ha-neul seethes with intensity. The world crumbles around these three characters, Seok-ho, Green, and Ha-neul, starting them on a journey that I'm intensely looking forward to.
The SBS drama came in at a decent 6.2% for its first episode, but what really made it work was the deft combination of humor, gravity, meta jokes, and swift setup...More
For those of you dearly missing the grand romance of "Descendants of the Sun", this special is for you. It recounts the key moments of Si-jin's and Mo-yeon's relationship from the moment they met until the moment they parted after the earthquake...More
Although The Royal Gambler's rating lowered to 8.7%, it's plot has stabilized and become much more cohesive. Save for a few moments, it has ditched the exaggerated antics that defined it in its earliest episodes. There are a lackluster backstories for our characters, especially on the part of Dae-gil's teacher, Kim Che-geon (Ahn Kil-kang). These took a backseat to the huge learning curves that brothers Dae-gil and Yeoning are suffering through.
Despite the fact that they walk similar paths, both brothers have distinct strengths and weaknesses based upon personality differences and in the way they were raised...More
"The Royal Gambler" has calmed in its erratic plot flailings and settled into a steadier pace, which was very welcome. It came it a 9.1%, higher than the last episode, but still behind its Monday competitors. The calmer pacing allowed for the actors to step out of the texture and show their abilities, especially Jang Keun-suk.
What strengthened the episode was the parallels that it made between the two brothers, both keen and driven, but lacking in the skills to overcome their mutual enemy, Lee In-jwa...More
Hello HanCinema fans! I am so pleased to bring you our interview with Jasper Cho, the talented young actor who just finished an amazing run as Dr. Daniel Spencer in the hottest drama of the year, "Descendants of the Sun". Thank you to all of you who asked questions. Please read on to find out which two lucky fans had their questions answered by Jasper and to see what he had to say about working on "Descendants of the Sun", how he broke into the industry, and much, much more...More
"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
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
Ratings are dropping steadily for "The Royal Gambler". Today's episode clocked in at 8.4% and I can't blame viewers. Besides the beautiful music and solid cast, this drama doesn't have a lot going for it right now. It's what I feared when I saw Writer Kwon at the helm. If you don't know what I mean, I'll explain it to you.
"The Royal Gambler" is full of potential...More
Although there was a strong sense of the ridiculous in "The Royal Gambler"'s fifth episode, there was a touch of realism as well. It could be because of Yeo Jin-goo's spot on acting or a bit of logical writing from Kwon Soon-gyoo. Jang Keun-suk does well with what he is given, but I think we'll see better from him once his character loses the hysterics.
Most of this episode centered around In-jwa physically and emotionally breaking Dae-gil in order to motivate him to change his path in life...More
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
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
Episode 4 of "The Royal Gambler" saw some marked improvement in structure and intrigue, but the ratings don't reflect that. It dropped below "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho"'s 11.3% to a single-digit 9.5%. Perhaps it's the unexpected slapstick humor that threw viewers off. However what grabbed me was the sense of family scattered throughout the hour.
Dae-gil and his father and adopted grandfather are a rather silly trio...More
"The Royal Gambler" is still on top of the Monday/Tuesday pack coming in at 11.6%. The appearance of the long awaited Jang Keun-suk can't have hurt the rating, but it was Lee Moon-sik who really stole the show. After the hustle and bustle of the first few episodes, his character settles down and really allows the actor to shine...More
Hello HanCinema readers! We are very pleased to inform you that HanCinema will be interviewing Jasper Cho (aka Cho Tae-gwan or 조태관 in Hangul) who plays Dr. Daniel Spencer alongside Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo, Jin Goo, and Kim Ji-won in "Descendants of the Sun"...More
"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
"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
"The Royal Gambler" is once again the highest rated of the new shows at 12.2% for episode 2. From the outside, the drama is all glitz and glitter: beautiful choreography, stunning naturescapes, keen camera storytelling. But its insides are messier: jumpy character sketches, repetitive themes, and illogical schemes. These may work themselves out with time as many introductory episodes can lack clarity in the rush to introduce the drama.
This drama is going the way of most sageuk, or historical dramas, in that it is focusing on the backstory of the main characters before it delivers the handsome leads in their fullest glory...More
In the new slew of dramas "The Royal Gambler" came in on top at 11.8% again "Monster - 2016" (7.3%) and "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" (10.1%). Director Nam Geon's directing style is grand and direct, while Kwon Soon-gyoo's writing takes on its trademark meandering style. The two don't quite fit together, but the epic quality of the first episode cannot be denied, especially not with the exquisite background score and crisply filmed scenes...More
"Descendants of the Sun" is a K-drama that has touched every corner of the Korean drama scene. That scene can be found all over the globe. Its presence in Asia is unprecedented while Viki's internet streaming and quick subbing has brought the drama to English-speaking audiences. The power that drives the drama is multi-faceted ranging from the money behind it, to the promotion, to the star power, to intense fan viewership and participation...More
Outside of Korea, it's not easy to find places to sit down and dine in an authentic Korean restaurant, find Korean groceries, and feel like one is walking along a street of Seoul. Many of us have to turn to the burgeoning internet market to find Korean goods and atmospheres. In a large country like the United States of America, there are a few enclaves of ethnic Korean populations and Korean-run businesses that can be defined as a "Koreatown" or a "K-town". These places can transport those of us outside Korea, ethnic Koreans or Korea appreciators, to a place where we can be immersed in Korean culture in a way that the internet cannot imitate...More
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
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
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
"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
Hello everyone! I'm very pleased to present HanCinema viewers an exclusive interview with rising Ghanaian star, Sam Okyere. Sam is a humble, intelligent man who is a go-getter and knows how to make things happen. He's worked hard to become the successful Korean entertainer and t.v. personality that he is and HanCinema got to hear all about it first hand. Now you will, too...More
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
Despite its lack of action, the romantic play of "Descendants of the Sun" has earned it another record-breaking rating: 27.4%. I find this rating rather incredible, but Song Joong-ki is a strong lead with the skills and the looks to carry the show along with Song Hye-kyo. The show also knows just how to pull the romantic strings to keep the interest going...More
"Moorim School" ended its run with a flurry of bow-tied ends, a good amount of confusion, and plenty of good feels. A happy ending was bestowed upon all characters, deserving or not. The Chintamani found a predictable end. Friendship and faith in oneself was the message that had to be dictated because it most certainly hadn't been shown.
While all the characters received a happy ending, the way that the happy ending was achieved was, to be quite frank, completely nonsensical...More
It's episode 15 for "Moorim School" with one more episode to go. The search for the Chintamani is an all out race to the finish. Most of the secrets hidden within the school and the hearts of its inhabitants have been made public. Chi-ang's father manipulated him into the enemy of the school and Si-woo discovers his true role in all of this. Chae Yoon, Si-woo and Seon-ah's father gets to jump in and play a bigger role as well...More
"Descendants of the Sun" shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. It is only in the second week and it is pulling in ratings of 24.1%. A mixture of the hype, the star power, the whopping budget, and the intensity of the plot and romance is the reason for its success. Writer Kim Eun-sook always likes to keep her viewers on their toes, and this drama proves to be no exception...More
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
I'm still trying to sort through what just happened in "Moorim School"'s episode 14. The plot was relatively straightforward, but I have no idea what the show is trying to tell me about the characters.
I thought a while of how to analyze this and this is what I've come up with: Chi-ang is supposed to be divided by his loyalty as a son to his morally-impaired father and by his love for his friends who have seen him (according to exposition) through thick and thin. We're shown a montage of him with Si-woo compiled mostly of their first days together...More
All of the clunky mechanizations of "Moorim School" have cobbled themselves together to reveal several truths and leave our characters reeling. The school is in utter chaos as per the bad guys' nefarious plans. The kids are struggling to come to terms with the revelations and they are not yet ready to reach out for help and comfort.
While the individual brooding and thinking and crying is actually well-deserved, the sequence of events that lead up to these depressing activities is awkwardly formed...More
Korea Joa 2015 organized by KOFICE happened in October 2015. It is now February 2016 and I've only now finished my articles on that wonderful adventure. It feels like it is only now ending. In case you're new to my Korea Joa coverage, HanCinema was invited as one of fifteen world sites on Korean culture, Kpop, K-drama, and K-film to represent the international journalist community...More
If you're looking for a cute, feel-good film then look no further than "Like for Likes", a film directed by Park Hyeon-jin ("Lovers of 6 Years") and starring an incredibly gifted cast. It focuses on dating in the internet age where activity on social media can make and break relationships. The film released in South Korea February 17 and will open in New York February 25. In Korea, its first week resulted in fourth place at 12.2% on box office charts with 320,000 moviegoers. Afterwards, the film will screen in 17 major locations in North America...More
If episode one of "Descendants of the Sun" was about introductions, episode two, coming in on top at 15.5%, fleshed them out and added the rest of the teams that support Si-jin and Mo-yeon. Romance was the priority, but it didn't feel like the show was beating us over the head with it. Instead, the romance that blossomed hit very real walls that were acknowledged by two adults who hold themselves to different belief systems and lifestyles. We all know that will change. The adventure is watching them learn what we already know...More
It's finally here, folks! KBS's first pre-produced, star-studded drama "Descendants of the Sun". The drama dominated the charts at whopping 14.3%. It's Song Joong-ki's first drama after his mandatory military service, which is all too fitting. He as Soldier Yoo Si-jin is joined by Song Hye-kyo as war doctor Kang Mo-yeon, Jin Goo as Soldier Seo Dae-yeong, and as war doctor Yoon Myeong-joo, Kim Ji-won. From the trailers we knew that romance is the thread that will weave through the story, but war and it's trials and horrors will drive the plot as it brings people together and tears them apart. We've been teased for months, and now, without further ado, I bring to you my review of episode 1...More
The truth is what drives episode 12 of "Moorim School". The students are driven by their individual motivations to prepare and compete in the school's competition, but the for the main four, the truth behind the actions of adults and behind their pasts are the real driving force.
Chi-ang is the most exposed in this quest for truth, which is a relief after too many episodes of silent brooding and staring that was difficult to read and interpret...More
"Moorim School" episode 11 is all about looking within to find the answers. There is a big competition going on and everyone is vying to win, but winning isn't the answer. To attain the keys to the Chintamani is the outward goal, but the true teachers at the Moorim School want their students to find strength within to protect those dear to them.
Si-woo is struggling to control a rare power that he possesses...More
Dare I say it? I do believe this show has gotten better. There is still a fair amount of brooding and staring, but even so, the characters are actually beginning to express their thoughts and emotions rather than make us guess.
Everyone is at the Moorim School for a reason...More
"Moorim School" is back after a pause for the celebration of Lunar New Year. After the midway point it's starting to jump into why the kids are at the school and what roles they have to play. It's not just about a love triangle, but about the road they will pave for themselves despite the pressures of adults.
Chi-ang's father has been sketched to be a leading bad guy and this episode outlines the potential for Chi-ang to follow in his footsteps ...More
A K-pop concert is a very unique concert-going experience. Unlike the many rock, R&B, and classical concerts that I have attended, K-pop concerts have a certain sense of unity amongst fans that is unparalleled. At the Infinite concert at New York City's Playstation Theatre on January 19, 2016 the sense of unity was awesome. It was the last leg of the North American tour and fans had waited for hours and hours in the 17°F weather to make sure that they got up close and personal with their idols.
Infinite is one of the top K-pop acts in Korea and in the world...More
"Moorim School" is getting heavy into the mystery of who Si-woo and Seon-ah and why they are important to the bad guys. Moreover, it is purposefully vague on who those bad guys may be. Is it the kindly Dean Hwang who watches over his students? Is it the blatantly obvious father of Chi-ang? Maybe it's a combination thereof. In any case, the drama is much more stimulating than it was for the first six episodes. Perhaps it is because the drama was cut down by four episodes and the action needs to be pushed along. This is the pace the drama should've been moving at.
The main intrigue is the building question of what the Chintamani is, why people want it, and what the main characters have to do with it and its retrieval...More
One of South Korea's biggest cultural exports is K-pop. But that's not all, it's also a phenomenon within the country itself. All over the country there are festivals, concerts, collaborations, and music shows. For international fans like myself, such ready access to Korean musical acts is rare indeed. A trip to Korea allows for the kind of musical exposure international fans would have to spend years gathering...More
Films set in wartime often focus on the horrors of war, the violence and ruin, and the small fonts of hope that spring up in the most unlikely of places. "A Melody to Remember", released internationally on January 29, 2016, is no different in that respect. What makes it a film worth watching is its magnetic pull that is created by the well-cut scenes, the heartfelt acting, and the music that inspired the real-life choir to come together and perform during one of the most devastating times in Korean history...More
Episode 7 of "Moorim School" is the strongest episode by far. There was major character development and in the mystery that has only been hinted at before. A breath of fresh air has touched this drama and blown it away from the painful setup that characterized the first six episodes.
While the teachers and Yeop-jeong could use much more development, Chi-ang, Ha-o, and the mysterious coma man, Chae Yoon, saw some honest-to-goodness screentime...More
The manga-like storyline continues as each step of the plotline is detailed by teacher-fueled narrative. Romance buds and builds, pasts bubble up from pained psyches, and the students and teachers face a very, very strange exam season.
Let's begin by dissecting the midterm exams...More
"Moorim School" should be cut down to forty-five minute episodes so that the filler material isn't so oppressive. The way the show struggles, the recent disputes between the producers, JS Pictures, and the broadcasting station, KBS, come as no surprise. There is so much recap material scattered throughout the episode that it drags and the ratings reflect that. But between the elongated brooding moments and the flashbacks there are a few tasty morsels to gnaw on.
The martial arts aspect of the school hasn't been played up, however this episode finally made use of it and it was extremely cool...More
This episode was all about the building of friendship. Chi-ang and Si-woo look past their massive prides and see the good in each other. The kids at school learn via guilt that their treatment of the boys was cruel and uncalled for. And under all of that "Moorim School" continues to plod along pedantically.
The show spoon feeds emotions to its audience rather than create situations that can wrench them from viewers...More
"The Himalayas" is, in fact, not really a story about mountaineering and its perils. To be sure, there is quite a bit of mountaineering and very deathly perils, but that is not the focus of Director Lee Seok-hoon's ("Pirates") alpine piece that is based on a true tale. Rather than an exploration of the cold wonders of the Himalayas, it is an exploration of friendship that survives extreme physical and emotional duress and transcends death.
The promotional poster of Hwang Jung-min's smiling face embodies the heart of the film: friendship ...More
It finally hit me in episode 3. "Moorim School" reminds me of a Taiwanese drama mashed together with a manga adaptation. It's not meant to be taken too seriously and with that thought in mind the show becomes more fun to watch. It becomes an episodic adventure of enemies turned allies and how those around them learn to accept them despite their blatant personality failings.
Those two enemies, Chi-ang and Si-woo, are both egotistical young men whose intense personal circumstances have shaped their prickly exteriors and isolated them from socialization typical of their age...More
Hongdae may easily be one of the hippest places in Seoul. It's where musicians and artists roam, create, and socialize. The young can find solace in the fast-paced atmosphere, delicious food, and hoards of people their own age. It's especially known for its indie artists: musicians, dancers, and other street performers. There is always a show in a club or on the streets. And don't forget the flea market, fun specialty shops, and pet cafes scattered everywhere. K-pop star and actor Jung Yong-hwa recommends it as a must-see place for anyone visiting Seoul...More
"Moorim School" episode 2 plays out like a typical school drama with bullies, puppy love, competition, and burgeoning hopes and dreams and comes in with a shaky Nielsen rating of 4%. It is heavily laden with character stereotypes and a predictable plotline. But what it does have going for it is the inclusion of the international cast and the promise of intrigue.
The elements of mystery surround Si-woo's past and mystical abilities, Chi-ang's family issues, and the story behind Moorim itself...More
KBS's "Moorim School" hit the ground running on Monday, January 11, 2016. The twenty episode drama directed by Lee So-yeon-I ("Prime Minister and I", "Ad Genius Lee Tae-baek") and written by Yang Jin-ah ("Vampire Prosecutor") began its run with a busy introductory episode. There were plenty of abs, pretty faces, action sequences, and enough dramatic back stories to fill any drama quotient...More
Despite my annoyance with "Twenty Again", this finale did a lot of explaining and brought the drama to a satisfying close. No-ra figured out how she wanted to live her life, Hyeon-seok let her do it, and Woo-cheol figured out how to chase his dreams without stepping on others to do it.
The other characters also came full circle...More
I admit to being baffled by episode 15 of "Twenty Again". I just don't understand what No-ra is thinking. After all the romantic back and forth, and after how hard she's worked, it's difficult to fathom why she chose the path she did.
Since the beginning, No-ra has worked towards figuring out who she is...More
"Twenty Again" hasn't been the fastest paced drama in the lineup. A lot of what has come to pass could've been trimmed down to move more quickly. But, we've finally arrived at the meaty romantic bits and where Woo-cheol and his mistress get their just desserts.
Woo-cheol and his mistress have been playing a dangerous game, cheating behind No-ra's back and expecting everything to work out in their favor...More
Episode 13 of "Twenty Again" focuses on realization, mostly on Woo-cheol's part. For nearly the entirety of his relationship with No-ra he has tried to mold her and their life to cater to his lofty career aspirations. Although his conscience pricked at him, he catered to his needs and hurt No-ra and his son on his path to achieving his goals.
When Woo-cheol and No-ra met, he went out of his way to care for her and impress her...More
Music shows are one of K-pop's most important forms of artist exposure and fanservice. They showcase the new acts, the returning acts, and give fans one more way to connect to their idols. There is a music show every day of the week and artists often hit many of them in order to promote new singles, mini-albums, and albums. Internationally, they allow fans to see their idols live on a weekly basis. In Korea, attending music shows is an involved process that gives fans many opportunities to see their bias groups live.
I was lucky enough to attend a live broadcast of Mnet's M! Countdown episode # 446 on October 8, 2015...More
Our main characters were twenty once, but it was a long time ago. Some of the powerful, virulent emotions that overtake youngsters have begun to plague the grown "adults" of "Twenty Again". No-ra hasn't felt the flutterings of a crush in twenty years. Woo-cheol hasn't felt intrigued by his wife in just as long. Hyeon-seok is reliving the love from his youth.
These youthful emotions overtake the adults quickly, and they almost flounder save for the fact that their experience tempers them...More
It is all about learning curves in episode 5 of "Assembly". As everyone settles into their new roles they discover that there really is no such thing as "settling" into a political office. It's a constant whirlwind of struggle that needs experience and finesse to get through.
Experienced players of the political field like In-gyeong, Secretary General Baek, and Sang-pil's adversaries are skilled in the nuanced dealings of the National Assembly and all the politicking that goes with it...More
Episode 4 of "Assembly" sees Sang-pil's first venture into politics. He gets involved with a financial committee whose policies and functions are beyond his knowledge and education. All around him people hope to use his ignorance to their advantage. It is only In-gyeong whose moral compass fights the political pressure. The others, including handsome Gyoo-hwan, believe Sang-pil to be a selfish pushover who betrayed his union mates and his cause. They believe him to be deserving of any suffering forced upon him.
This belief does not exclude Sang-pil...More
No-ra's journey thus far has been about growing up, exploring her independence, and rediscovering her passion from her youth. Although Hyeon-seok has had eyes only for her, it has not been the same for her. She's had the changes in her life, but her difficulties at home to deal with. Only now does a bright new romance occur to her as she discovers her burgeoning attraction for puppy-faced Hyeon-seok.
It comes as a surprise to her when physical attraction hits her over the head...More
This is an episode of empowerment and realization for No-ra. She's experiencing what it's like to be a appreciated woman, a friend, and mother. She has always coasted through life in the background and has been undervalued by her family. But now she's changing that herself and proving herself a strong, viable woman.
As she opens up, Hyeon-seok, Woo-cheol, and her son, Min-soo, all respond differently...More
This episode of "Twenty Again" centered around how the truths of the lives of our characters ground them and affect those around them. These truths require nuanced acting, which Choi Ji-woo and Lee Sang-yoon do so well, pulling heartstrings and inspiring laughter.
No-ra has always wanted to be a dancer, and she put that dream on hold to become a mother. She has never let go of that dream...More
The halfway point of "Twenty Again" is here and rather than a huge physical battle, we've come to the apex of a high-tension set of emotions. It's also where the characters begin to see No-ra for who she truly is, unfettered by the emotional shackles Woo-cheol gave her years ago.
It is not only No-ra that we begin to see more clearly, but Hyeon-seok as well...More
Road trips in the United States, like everywhere, are comprised of long hours on the road, scenery that ranges from monotonous to stunning, and pit stops that are defined by sketchy bathrooms and dubious food. As an avid traveler, I've been on many road trips, especially in my native Florida. I thought I'd seen it all and considered myself a pro road-tripper. I've seen over half of the fifty states, eaten their native foods, seen their native attractions. On my forays into other countries I've done much the same. But none of those places can top road tripping in South Korea...More
Episode 3 of "Assembly" is really what pushes the main characters onto the paths that they will follow. They commit themselves to decisions they were previously unsure of. Gyoo-hwan (Ok Taecyeon) deviates from his chosen path, while Sang-pil feels renewed commitment towards his.
Politics has always been a skewed subject that has made for plenty of story fodder...More
S.M. Entertainment is one of the triumvirate of entertainment companies along with YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. Some of the most famous acts in K-pop are housed under S.M. such as my personal bias SHINee as well as Girls' Generation, Super Junior, f(x), EXO, Red Velvet, BoA, and TVXQ. This list is by no means inclusive of the immensely talented acts found under the S.M. name. Many of the members have been spotted in dramas and films. And some people represented under S.M. are not musicians, but actors such as Go Ara and Kim Min-jong...More
Namsan Tower, officially named the "N Seoul Tower", is one of the quintessential romantic spots found in Korean film and drama, and is also a tourist attraction for Koreans and international visitors alike. The communication and observation tower is famous for it's night glow, the "Locks of Love", and the spectacular cityscape view that is lovely during the day and mesmerizing at night...More
Seoul is the capital of South Korea and the home of a rich, thriving, and vibrant culture. It is the home of many artistic innovations. With a population of nearly twenty-six million and as the location of the fastest internet connections, top-ranked transportation systems, and ground-breaking technological innovations, it's no wonder that Seoul is also the home of many favorite drama locations. It is so diverse that it can support plots of an array of time periods, disparate industries and environments, and house the companies that provide funding, talent agencies, and filming facilities...More
No-ra has finally grown a spine. She may not know exactly what she wants out of life, but she knows she wants to live it to its fullest and won't let Woo-cheol hinder her any further. Hyeon-seok, on the other hand, is a different story. When he and No-ra are around each other they revert to teenagerhood and fight like children with crushes – much like her Son Min-soo.
We're almost to the halfway point and there should be some sort of shift in plot coming our way next episode...More
Twenty Again doesn't let anything fester for long – that is both its charm and its strength. The truth about No-ra's health is exposed, but not before we get an episode that is both fun and introspective. Each character gets to do a bit more soul searching. Or, in Woo-cheol's case, he slowly begins to learn that No-ra is no longer the complacent puppet wife that she was for the past twenty years.
No-ra's inner twenty-year-old emerges in full force as she rebels against her husband and her life as it once was...More
There is a one stop internet shop in Korea and it is called "Naver". Established in 1999, it was the very first Korean portal to feature its own search engine. Naver currently provides the number one search engine in Korea along with many other services such as news, e-mail, navigation, LINE messenger, gaming, webtoons, shopping, and more. HanCinema had a chance to visit the green Naver building while with the Korea Joa 2015 program...More
When I met with Yonhap News Agency's journalists Lee Eun-jung and Yoon Go-eun at the Terarosa Coffee, I came prepared with questions for them. What I didn't expect was to answer some of theirs. The two-way conversation turned into quite the charming interview where they gave some insight into their processes, and I got to tell them about what we do here at HanCinema...More
The beauty of "Twenty Again" is that is never dwells on any single plot point for too long. It doesn't belabor the usual tropes. It grows as quickly as No-ra does as she learns more about herself from her new adventures as well as from the ever-attentive and temperamental Hyeon-seok
What makes this show good is not just a well-drawn out heroine with a clear path to walk, but also that those around her need to learn a few things themselves ...More
HanCinema's correspondent Lisa Espinosa got to sit down with super girl group Sistar on October 7, 2015. These ladies, Kim Dasom, 'Yoon Bora', Hyolyn, and Soyou, have had a big year. They released their fifth mini-album "Shake It" on June 22, 2015 and proceeded to shake up the stage at KCON LA two weeks later. Check out the interview to see what the four ladies of Starship Entertainment had to say about acting and rehearsing...More
The day that Korea Joa 2015 visited Korean Folk Village (한국민속촌) was wonderfully sunny without suffering from the sun's heat. It was the ideal day to walk around and attempt to see all of the 243 acres of land where Joseon era homes, businesses, goods, food, and drink are preserved and reproduced for the modern day public. Despite modern-day amenities like Baskin Robbins 21 and vending machines, the spirit of the Village remains in tact and it is exactly that spirit that captured members of Korea Joa 2015...More
At the suggestion of Paul Quinn from Hangul Celluloid I decided that a trip to the Korean Film Archive (KOFA) as the representative of HanCinema, the Korean Film and Drama Database, wouldn't be amiss. This is the place to go for almost anything and everything related to Korean film. It collects all things related to Korean film such as film itself, movie documents, and sound materials and provides access to classic films dating back to the 1930s both via live stream and in the library...More
My trip to Korea was full of amazing opportunities. I went to the world-renowned BIFF 2015, saw multiple K-pop concerts, visited breathtaking historical sites both modern and ancient, and interviewed many fabulous people. But it was one woman's school and class that may have been the pinnacle of that experience: a Q&A and lesson with Chef and Food Director Kim Su-jin-I and Teacher Lee "Ellie" Hye-won of the Food & Culture Academy. The Q&A was a lesson in how Korean food embodies the spirit of its vivacious people and what makes Korean food unique. Then we, the members of Korea Joa 2015, got to make two quintessential Korean dishes: japchae and bulgogi. Those members with dietary restrictions learned how to make haemul jeon. Check the recipes out at the end of this piece...More
Kim Soo-hyun and Jun Ji-hyun stand atop the stairs of the National Theater of Korea in episode 21 of "My Love from the Star" and share a heartbreaking kiss just before he suddenly disappears. This "red carpet kiss" is one of the most famous drama kisses in recent history and it was filmed on the steps on the first national theater in Korea, a space dedicated to supporting Korean traditional arts and the arts in general. As the home of three national performance groups, the theater holds a lot of history even though it was established fairly recently in 1950...More
Each episode feels like a fresh beginning in "Twenty Again" as the main characters experience new revelations that kickstart the hour. Newly armed with the (false) knowledge that No-ra is dying, Hyeon-seok decides to encourage and help her the way that she had done for him when he was a high schooler. No-ra, on the other hand, has a second chance at life with the realization that she does not have cancer and she's going to live. Ironically, the situation brings them closer because it softens Hyeon-seok and makes him more receptive to No-ra, while she opens up to the possibility of truly living her life.
It's a situation that brings them both back to their twenty-year-old selves, sweet, eager, full-of-life, and ready to get living...More
The third episode finds childhood friends Hyeon-seok and No-ra still feeling each other out after having experiencing life separately for twenty years without maintaining their friendship. Life has changed them, but that doesn't stop Hyeon-seok from suffering intense curiosity at the secrecy No-ra displays upon their sudden reintroduction to one another. And No-ra, she is realizing that she's been living in a bubble as life has passed her by. It's not just the difficulties that she experiences as an older student, but the fact that she's never really been able to interact with others and watch the world grow. She's only watched her son grow up and her husband grow apart from her.
That husband, Woo-cheol, is in love with another woman, and the couple is suited in personality and temperament save for the fact that he's still married ...More
The third day of Korea Joa 2015 allowed the members a choice of films that they wanted to view as part of the 2015 Busan International Film Festival: "Ode to My Father", or "The Silenced". I, as you know from my previous articles, chose Park Bo-young's film "The Silenced". My trusty companions (Jenny from Soompi, Freya from United K-pop, Mish from PKCI, and Germaine from (x)clusive!) joined me for what we hoped wouldn't be a totally terrifying experience. We'd heard the film was a bit scary and were not sure if we were up for the thrills...More
Buddhism runs deep in the veins of Korean religious and social culture. Korean thinkers developed a distinctly Korean brand of Buddhism that has grown and changed with the times. Not only did it develop as a religion and philosophy, but its ideas also manifested in architecture as temples. Most Korean Buddhist temples are situated in mountains and although they are beautiful, many of them look very much the same. An exception is found in Haedong Yonggung temple that is situated in the craggy cliffs along the sea that borders the north-east of Busan...More
One thing I love about these diary pieces is that I can tell you, HanCinema readers, about my adventures in Korea and bring you along with me no matter how big or small my adventure may or may not have been. One thing I particularly loved about the Korea Joa 2015 program was that I not only met dedicated colleagues of Korean entertainment, but I also made friends. There is nothing quite like sharing good times with a good friend...More
On October 7, 2015 HanCinema sat down for an interview with Dabit, a talented, creative Korean-American singer/songwriter who has broken into the Korean music scene. Special thanks to Kaja! Korea and Soompi for the opportunity to speak with the down-to-earth, fun, musician...More
The pettiness of childhood has infiltrated the hearts and minds of No-ra, Hyeon-seok, Woo-cheol, and every other adult in "Twenty Again". It emphasizes the point that no matter how old a person may be, a twenty-year-old still lives inside her and can manifest at any time. Society makes it harder for someone older to behave like that twenty-year-old, but it happens nonetheless.
The back story of No-ra's and Hyeon-seok's high school relationship is given and although much has changed in the twenty years since they last met, there is still something that remains: Hyeon-seok's feelings for her ...More
After the screening of "The Silenced" that I had the pleasure of watching at the 2015 Busan International Film Festival, KOFICE secured the Korea Joa 2015 members places in the Q&A session following the film with Director Lee Hae-yeong and leading actresses Park Bo-young and Park So-dam. It was held in an adjacent theater where a small number of press was invited to ask question in an open forum...More
Before the official Korea Joa 2015 schedule I had a chance to explore outside of Seoul in the lovely city of Suwon, which is about a forty minute bus ride from the capital. The city is completely walled and is the home of Hwaseong Fortress, Hwaseong Palace, eleven universities, and company headquarters such as Samsung Electronics. Public transportation is fantastic and I found the people to be kind and helpful to the perpetually lost and perplexed foreigner...More
If there is one thing that can be said about Seoul, is that it truly is a city with something that will appeal to everyone. Its personality is multifaceted and deep. While parts of it rest, others come alive. There is always something to do, somewhere to go, and people to meet. Even cats, dogs, and raccoons await the friendly faces of tourists and locals alike in animal cafes. It is steeped in the rich history of Korea and flavored by the worldly wonders of Korea's immense expansion since its birth as a democracy...More
On October 2nd, 2015, "The Silenced" aired as part of the 2015 Busan International Film Festival in Busan's Haeundae Megabox Theaters. As part of KOFICE's Korea Joa 2015 project, HanCinema attended the screening and would like to thank KOFICE for the opportunity.
"The Silenced" is a film whose plot can be dissected into two contrasting parts: the first two-thirds that is alluring and full of promise, and the last third that quickly declines into disappointing predictability. The two parts are decorated with gifted actors, insightful filming, and very marked themes of friendship, sacrifice, and evil. Set in Japanese-occupied Korea, "The Silenced" focuses on a girls' boarding house and sanitorium where strange things happen to its sickly students...More
To say that the events of the second episode were a surprise would be a gross overstatement. While well played, they were so predictable that the episode was mundane. It followed the process behind Sang-pil's ascension to the National Assembly and the catalyst for the change in his attitude towards his new career in politics.
At this point in time, Sang-pil is no more than a pawn on the political chessboard ...More
Annyeong haseyo, everyone! I am Raine aka Lisa Espinosa, HanCinema's representative in the first year of the Korea Joa (KJ) program hosted by KOFICE. As your fellow fan of Korean film, drama, culture, and music it is my distinct pleasure to travel, write, film, and photograph my experiences for you. Please be sure to leave comments for the HanCinema team below about what you would like to see in my travels that will take place September 27 to October 9th...More
The first episode of director Hwang In-hyeok's and writer Jeong Hyeon-min's Assembly is labored and slow, but is, nonetheless, still interesting. It suffers some for the heavy political setup, but that ponderous plot material is offset by the experienced and grounded cast.
We open with crooked politicians and businessmen battling powerless laborers whose plight is a vehicle for power more than it is a vehicle for change ...More
What is Korea Joa?
We have been looking forward to sharing this with our readers for months and the time is finally here. HanCinema has been invited by KOFICE (Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange) to attend ten days of events covering Korean culture and entertainment, including Korean cinema, Kdrama and Kpop. The project, named 'Korea Joa', includes 15 members from 9 nations. The events will take place mainly in Seoul and Busan, where we can also follow the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). Members of the 'Korea Joa' project will be creating content for their respective sites and we will also be collaborating to promote one another's content through social media, giving you a fuller experience...More
The finale of "Oh My Ghostess" was all about goodbyes and seeing what our characters have learned since the start of their adventures. Soon-ae's departure was the heart of the episode and was handled beautifully in all of its facets. It captured the essence of the drama and helped it earn a place in the annals of drama history.
Overall, "Oh My Ghostess" was a strong drama with a powerful cast, an intriguing storyline, and substantial character growth from start to finish. There are, of course, flaws such as inconsistency in ghost rules and a lack of true understanding of the otherworld that prevents a deep empathy for the mysterious, possessed Sung-jae and a keener understanding of Soon-ae's issues...More
There is some major action in the penultimate episode of "Oh My Ghostess" and that action brings the show into darker territory. While it has been hinted at that Soon-ae's demise was not a pleasant one, to see it was appropriately gruesome and shocking.
Episode 15 primarily focused on the chase between Soon-ae and possessed Sung-jae...More
As Seon-woo learns to cope with reality and the ghostly and nefarious situations surrounding him, Soon-ae is coming closer to the truth behind her death and the truth that haunts Seon-woo's family.
Soon-ae is such a marvelous character and Kim Seul-gi handles her with finesse...More
This was the episode of truth-fueled angst that required Seon-woo and Bong-seon to run through a gamut of emotions both together and alone. Every relationship suffers growing pains, especially when a difficult truth is revealed and feels more like a wedge inserted than one removed.
Bong-seon has revealed her biggest secret and it is one that is difficult for Seon-woo to stomach ...More
Several key plot threads come to a head in this exquisitely timed episode of "Oh My Ghostess". The acting in this is superlative on the parts of the three leads and the terrifying villain. All elements came together in one of the most emotional episodes thus far that highlights the mystery, the love, and the innermost fears of our beloved characters.
Seon-woo is opening up in a way he has never been able to because of the love he feels ...More
"Oh My Ghostess" has its flaws, but they are overpowered by its strengths. The balance between Cho Jung-seok, Park Bo-young, and Kim Seul-gi is such a delicately struck balance that it seems almost natural to imagine ghosts and ghost possession as a part of everyday life.
Man, woman, and ghost struggle to come to terms with the events in the lives (or life after death), and in that struggle they are more relatable than ever...More
This was Soon-ae's episode. Her tunnel-vision ended at her goal: have sex and be freed of her ghostly body into heaven. She did not see what it would cost to attain that goal and the knowledge of leaving and losing love that she never had while living is painfully present. And that's what good angst is all about.
Soon-ae falls in love with the earthly life she is borrowing from Bong-seon...More
"Oh My Ghostess" grows both more whimsical and more dire as it progresses into deeper plot territory. The mystery of Soon-ae is slowly being unearthed, but as that happens, new bits of information crop up that create more questions. While that happens, Soon-ae and Bong-seon are discovering what love is like, especially with an agenda driving the already potent emotion.
Episode 9 is nothing if cute...More
Despite the neatly tied ending, "Mask"'s finale didn't truly end cleanly. There are too many "could-have-beens" and ideas that were proposed, but never seen through to fruition. So much of the ending was smiling at the camera for ages or making sure that each villain received his just deserts. What it did do right was show Ji-sook and Min-woo living mask-free and as themselves without being fettered by lies and deceit.
Ji-sook decided to come clean and reveal the truth, to remove the "Mask" for which the show is named...More
Episode 19 of "Mask" felt like an attempt to prolong the inevitable end. Each scene went on a bit too long. Each emotional scene was irreverently dramatic in order to fake a few feels and create a tension that had long since seeped away.
The Min-woo/Ji-sook couple has become a representation of love rather than telling their own story...More
Some of this episode was cleverly wrought while the rest of it was reused material that was weaker with the repeated use. The development of Mi-yeon and Seok-hoon continues to be riveting while the contrived behavior of Ji-sook and the battles between family members and the money-hungry grow wearier.
Let's get the overused stuff out of the way ...More
The cat's out of the bag. Seon-woo kissed Bong-seon and there is no way that he, Bong-seon, or Soon-ae realizes what that means. There is genuine affection at play here and it hits all three of them harder than expected.
What lead to the kiss was the long-awaited pairing between Bong-seon and Soon-ae ...More
"Oh My Ghostess" is reaching its midway point and a storm is definitely brewing. Bong-seon and Soon-ae have finally talked, which changes the game entirely. They know each other's situations. Hopefully others, like Soon-ae's father and Seon-woo, will be let in on the supernatural secret as well.
The pressing matter is Soon-ae's tether of time ...More
The nature of the ghostly possession gives "Oh My Ghostess" a nice blend of episodic and climactic formats. Soon-ae and Bong-seon develop depending on who is in control of Bong-seon's body whilst the rest of the action continues to flow forward. The tension comes from the developing (probable) murder mystery, the developing romance that alternates between Soon-ae and Seon-woo, and Bong-seon and Seon-woo, and the characters overcoming personal milestones.
Seon-woo has a large person hurdle to jump over: he was bullied as a kid and still harbors grudges against the bullies ...More
As many laughs as the past four episodes have given us, episode five of "Oh My Ghostess" gives us just as much heart. We get our timid heroine back and watch her struggle through her reality: she's lost two weeks and feels more lost than ever.
This episode is a testament to Park Bo-young's acting as she reverts to Bong-seon and gives us further insight into the terrified young woman ...More
Sabotage is the name of the game. Seok-hoon attempts it out of need for revenge; Mi-yeon attempts it out of emotional despair; both Min-woo and Ji-sook battle the powerful emotional tide of the unhappy Seok-hoon and Mi-yeon. The others of their family and work place are dragged along with the roaring tide.
"Mask" juxtaposes the Min-woo/Ji-sook and Seok-hoon/Mi-yeon couples to great effect this episode ...More
"Oh My Ghostess" is chugging along at quite a nice clip. We learn a little bit more about our main characters, get a huge and wonderful dose of sexy humor, and watch relationships build and grow.
Soon-ae may be a blessing in disguise for both Seon-woo and Bong-seon ...More
"Oh My Ghostess" spares not one moment as it delves into character development. Each interaction means something to our three main characters: Bong-seon (despite the fact that she's not mentally present), Soon-ae, and Seon-woo. They learn and grow from the people they were in the past or have the potential to learn in the future.
This episode was about missed timing ...More
Episode 2 of "Oh My Ghostess" is just beyond the threshold of setup and jumping into new material and the transition is flawless. The story is propelled forward by compelling characters and a self-driven story. Each main character has their own history to contend with and their own present that troubles them. What "Oh My Ghostess" excels at is merging their worlds.
The loss of Bong-seon the tired girl as she is overtaken by ghostess Soon-ae is the only downside of the ghost possession ...More
"Mask" still has secrets floating around, but they are no longer the focus. The focus is on what the characters choose to do with their knowledge. They dance around feelings and play games of noble idiocy or vicious ignorance.
The heart of this episode was the relationship between Min-woo and Ji-sook as herself, not as Eun-ha ...More
The struggle to adapt to secrets is often as difficult for characters as it is to keep those secrets. Now that Ji-sook's major truth has been made known to Min-woo, other truths have begun to leak, dragging down loved ones as the secrets attempt to remain hidden from the world.
Ji-sook's truth causes Min-woo to real for most of the episode ...More
As I said in the last review, it really is the calm before the storm. Ji-sook's truth has been revealed to all major players. The next episode will tell us how Min-woo reacts, but the build up in this episode was well-wrought.
Mi-yeon is on a vengeful path fueled by the pain of loss and betrayal...More
Director/Writer pair Yo Je-won and Yang Hee-seung of "The King of High School Manners" team up again for what seems to be another strong tvN hit in "Oh My Ghostess". Despite the fact that this first episode was mostly set up, we get to know the characters and understand their aspirations and motivations along with some cleverly delivered exposition.
"Oh My Ghostess" has a fantastical premise - a virgin ghost sets out to get laid...More
As truths are slowly revealed to key players, the weather grows quickly stormy and as unstable as an electrical storm. In the eye of the storm Ji-sook and Min-woo slowly grow their love, and although it's sweet, this is truly just the calm before the storm for their relationship.
The burgeoning love between Ji-sook and Min-woo is made possible because first Min-woo, and then Ji-sook, allowed him and herself to open up to love and the fact that they must trust another person...More
"Mask" continues to barrel forward, uncovering surprises along the way. Ji-sook is turning into a formidable opponent not only for Seok-hoon, but also for the greedy loan shark who trails behind their family like a starving dog. What this episode reveals is that Seok-hoon is completely fallible and his wife, Mi-yeon, could become the newest opponent. It also shows us that romance can be both beautiful to watch and useful as a plot tool.
Now that Ji-sook has found strength of will and realized what she can do in her new position of wealth and affluence, she is now more open to Min-woo's charms and affections...More
"Masked Prosecutor" has come to an end. It has been quite the journey that concludes pleasantly. Everyone gets what they deserve, including our hero. Justice is had, but what is missing from this show is the feeling of justice and satisfaction.
"Masked Prosecutor" went through the motions of working the law, catching the villains, dealing with impossible family and childhood loves, but that magnetic spark that makes a drama special and attractive to the viewer was missing...More
Everything in the action of episode 15 tells us that exciting things are afoot. There are trials, brothers at odds, secret identities uncovered, and romantic antics. A lot happens and yet very little is felt. It's action devoid of emotion. Action for action's sake. Action to attempt to salvage the drama.
The acting on the part of Uhm Ki-joon and Joo Sang-wook is stellar...More
This is an episode of choices and realization that centers around Dae-cheol. The character arcs move in relation to his personal journey, which is lazy writing or perhaps desperate writing as we head into the final week of "Masked Prosecutor".
Dae-cheol is heart broken several times in this episode as his living family continue to disappoint him ...More
For the first time we see the potential in Ji-sook actualized. She is a fierce woman to be reckoned with, which is not at all what Seok-hoon expected. Watching the power balance between them even had is not only satisfying, it's great writing. Seok-hoon has had such overwhelming power over all the characters in "Mask" that it was beginning to feel infinite and real. Now we see he is just a very clever, very evil, very selfish man.
Seok-hoon is the pivotal character of the show...More
"Masked Prosecutor" has taken a darker twist than I had anticipated. While jarring, it hurtles forward with such conviction that I've almost forgotten that it doesn't quite fit. Most of this next direction rests heavily on Hyun-woong's shoulders and therefore on the very capable Eom Ki-joon's shoulders.
His character has stepped forward from the shadows only to be doused in a darkness of his own making...More
"Masked Prosecutor" is getting desperate. It'll pulling out all of the stops and taking a gamble, which unfortunately hasn't worked out for the best. The romantic scenes are quite adorable, but a lot of the deeper emotional material misses the mark.
A lot of it - but not all of it...More
Despite the melodrama in this melodrama, this episode of "Mask" was particularly fantastic. The character writing is so strong that it pulls the hectic storyline together. Characters who have taken longer to build up, like Mi-yeon, have begun to blossom and we can expect to see some definite action from them in the future.
Normally in a drama like this, betrayal and power struggles overwhelm any sort of character development. "Mask" seems like it will be overtaken by the melodrama, and those many moments when a new problem surfaces can get exasperating, but I find myself eager to see how characters will handle these new situations...More
"Mask" has taken a turn for the epically dramatic. And despite the fact that it has become a little ridiculous, it still has that special something that makes it a great watch. The characters are so well-planned that the incredulous amount of bad luck that befalls Ji-sook can almost be overlooked.
So much stacks up against our heroine that it's difficult to digest...More
"Masked Prosecutor" is both better and worse this episode. It is very engaging on an emotional level and focuses more on the core relationships in the show rather than the faulted procedural happenings.
The relationship between Dae-cheol and Min-hee in both of its incarnations is endearing because Min-hee has stopped fighting her feelings for both Dae-cheol and his masked alter ego...More
Episode 10 was all about backing the bad guys into the corner. This means it focused on the procedural aspect of the show. The procedural aspect of "Masked Prosecutor is, by far, the weakest part of the drama. Therefore, this episode was decidedly weak.
Dae-cheol and his helpers figure out how to back Sang-taek and his cronies (who include Hyun-woong) into a proverbial corner...More
Drama tropes are used in abundance in this episode. They are merely tools to vamp up tension in this already high-tension drama. That said, the outcome of the trope usage has cleverly accelerated plot motion. A melodrama is not a melodrama with tears and a sick person, but "Mask" uses them well, as well as Seok-hoon uses Ji-sook.
The two major tropes that played a major role in this episode were family illness and a person from the past making an all-too-convenient reappearance in order to stir up a main character...More
After the midway point of "Masked Prosecutor" Min-hee began to fill out as a character. In this episode especially she shows significant growth as her past comes to haunt her and she loses the composure for which she has been known. Alongside her walks Dae-cheol and his sidekick Ho-sik propels him into realization: he must use the mask for justice and not for revenge.
I've been hoping to see Dae-cheol to learn to be powerful as a prosecutor, but the show wants him to fight on the side of justice rather than use the mask for personal reasons...More
Min-woo has completely fallen for Ji-sook and that brings cuteness and jealousy into tonal tapestry. To counter the levity of Min-woo's burgeoning first love is the fact that Ji-sook's secret is slowly leaking to those who knew her and creating new troubles for Seok-hoon's master plan.
Ju Ji-hoon is completely winning as the rigid Min-woo who falls in love with the only person in his life who is genuinely kind to him...More
There was a lot of development in episode 6 of "Mask". It was all for the better. We got to see inside the hearts of many of the characters and that shaped all the elements that had the potential to be overly dramatic into effective plot moments.
The most important aspect of the episode was that we got to see past the veils of many of the characters...More
The power of family and true fidelity bring "Heard It Through the Grapevine" to a close. The drama made plenty of social commentary and gave Jung-ho his just desserts by having everyone leave him. This highlights the show's biggest point: equality among people despite socio-economic differences.
The final episode itself was anticlimactic and had a few too many bow-tied plot threads, but it was effective for its purpose...More
The corruption of Jung-ho continues even though it results in losing the people in his life. His continued ignorance of his social situation makes him more pitiable than detestable. While he suffers as his world falls apart, In-sang struggles to acclimate to life away from his father's protective monetary comfort. The episode highlights the differences between those who pluck up the courage and try to change and those who refuse to change out of fear.
In-sang chooses a new life situation where he must learn to adapt...More
Romance starts in earnest in episode 5 of "Mask". It is the catalyst for change in Min-woo's brickwall personality and it is the one small happiness for Ji-sook in her new, masked life. Surrounding that romance is the darkness of intrigue, deceit, and the hunt for more money and power.
Seok-hoon is a master manipulator and revels in his conquests...More
"Mask" keeps the tension high as Ji-sook and Seok-hoon butt heads. Min-woo skirts on the fringes of their tense relationship, struggling with his illness and his ambition. Already the effects of Ji-sook's presence in his life are obvious, but they are not yet strong enough to distract for the incredible tension between Ji-sook and Seok-hoon.
As with any melodrama, Ji-sook is faced with scheming in-laws and never ending misfortunates...More
Romance blossoms in episode 8 of "Masked Prosecutor" and it's quite welcome amongst the darkness of the procedural happenings. It livens up Min-hee's character and also provides some conflict. The cards also continue to stack up against Dae-cheol at this halfway point of the drama and bring both him and Min-hee to critical decisions.
The path towards these decisions was decidedly clunky...More
Despite the unhappiness at home, Jung-ho continues to play in the political arena using money to buy him power and influence. In his selfish venture for more power, he doesn't that his son has been agonizing over which path he should take: staying in luxury and abiding by his father's law, or living with Beom and Jin-young and working hard to make ends meet. The decisions both men make also legally affect the other characters in the show, but that aspect of the drama is the dullest.
Jung-ho plans to overwhelm Beom, Secretary Min, and the rest of the staff with insidiously clever legal proceedings and doesn't think about how his children, especially In-sang, view him or his actions...More
This show is gearing towards the ending. It spirals inwards on itself, making the same plot moves over and over again. Jung-ho is selfish and hurts everyone around him. In-sang has several battles raging within him: his loyalty to his family, his greed over his inheritance, and his love for Beom. Beom is struggling with her pride and battling Jung-ho's incredible arrogance and power.
That said, the curtain lifts a bit on Jung-ho's backdoor dealings and how he has maintained his wealth...More
A few big revelations took place this episode of "Masked Prosecutor", but more than that, we got to see genuine character development in Min-hee. The development walked hand in hand with the unfolding of her backstory. Kim Sun-ah also opened up with her burgeoning character.
We learned more about Min-hee's past as she chases the cold trails that Sang-taek left behind...More
What makes "Mask" unique is the view that each character has of his or herself. There is the villain, Seok-hoon, who sees himself has deserving the fruits of his evil deeds. Ji-sook must pose as another woman and battles with herself to accept the new reality. These views are the most typical in the melodrama genre. But then there is Min-woo, mentally unstable, but highly ambitious. He is the wild card that stimulates intrigue in the plot and fuels the actions of other characters.
The fable of the scorpion and the frog outlines the relationship between Min-woo and Ji-sook...More
The inability to adapt and change has cost Jung-ho what he needs most: people. One by one they leave him because of his severe superiority complex. What is sad is not that Jung-ho acutely feels the loss of his people, but that he feels offended by what he views as their desertion.
Jung-ho's arrogance stands out in relief against a backdrop of disgruntled employees and family members...More
The second episode of "Mask" is nothing short of melodramatic. This isn't a bad thing. In fact, it brings the events from the first episode full circle and propels the plot forward at breakneck speed. All the trappings of a self-respecting melodrama are present and they are, if not novel, at least interesting. This could be due to stellar acting on the parts of the three leads: Soo Ae, Ju Ji-hoon, Yeon Jung-hoon, and Yoo In-young.
In particular, Yeon's acting stands out because he is better known for his brooding heroes than for his scheming villains...More
"Masked Prosecutor" has such potential that it is not living up to. Dae-cheol hides behind his mask because he feels impotent as a prosecutor. The story is about how he grows up. Min-hee also hides behind a less literal mask, one of a driven, hard woman who works for justice and who leaves little time for herself to be happy.
Neither of these characters are compellingly written...More
"Mask" barrels out of the gate with swift, secure characterizations, and a fresh take on a few of the more belabored drama themes: owing money to loan sharks, severe mental illness, and on the idea of doppelgangers. Director Boo Seong-cheol of "Lobbyist", "My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, and "Jang Ok-jeong" and Writer Choi Ho-cheol of the melodrama "Secrets" tackle this dark story with panache and a surprising touch of comedy.
The story centers around a woman, Byeon Ji-sook (Soo Ae) whose family has always lived in dire straights due to her father's irresponsible fiscal habits...More
"Heard It Through the Grapevine" is going through puberty much too late. It is episode twenty-five out of thirty and only now do Beom and In-sang start having major problems. These problems are only a point of intrigue rather than an integral part of the plot motion. The groundwork had been laid for issues to manifest much sooner between them. What annoys me most is that their fight is merely a tool to make the story last until the end of the drama's run.
All the character development that I'd been hoping for in Beom and In-sang bursts forth from the emotional flood gates...More
The young couple has weathered the storm that is In-sang's parents together. Together they are strong and their sense or morality gives them a sturdy backbone. Jung-ho and Yeon-hee understand that together, In-sang and Beom cannot be swayed, so they work to rip them asunder.
The bait that is dangled before In-sang is his substantial inheritance...More
The villain gains the upper hand in this episode because he is cunning enough to stay two steps ahead of our heroes. This episode shows how far-reaching his power and how difficult it is to battle someone with no conscience.
Each of the main characters, Dae-cheol, Min-hee, Hyun-woong, and even Ri-na, is effected by Sang-taek's clever mechanizations...More
"Heard It Through the Grapevine" has created a world where a prison needs no bars, it merely needs terrifyingly strict social barriers. Those barriers can even prevent mothers from running to their children's aid. This has been true for most of this show's run, but never has it been as nearly insurmountable as the present.
The world that Jung-ho and Yeon-hee live in is one that his family established and raised him in...More
This is the episode of the underpaid and overworked hired help. Until recent episodes they have mostly made commentary on Jung-ho's and Yeon-hee's lives and decisions. Now they finally stand up for their rights as human beings and it throws the rich folk into a tizzy. Unfortunately that tizzy gets taken out on Beom.
The new pressure on Beom allow her to prove her mettle...More
As much as Je-hoon and Yeon-hee loved Beom before is as much as they find her worthless now. They turned into rabid animals as soon as Beom fell out of their favor. Their ability to flip flop is terrifying and not only do In-sang and Beom fear them, but so do the overworked, manipulated contracted workers.
Je-hoon and Yeon-hee's marriage is built on pride and money...More
Everyone has a different agenda on this episode of "Heard It Through the Grapevine". Even if agendas match, emotions are ambivalent. Jung-ho has amped up his level of selfishness to a point that is only matched by his estranged wife Yeon-hee.
Both manipulate others to make themselves feel more comfortable, especially Jung-ho...More
Despite the fact that Jung-ho and Yeon-hee display incredibly childish behavior, the people around them continue to cater to their every whim. It is a result of the fact that they have money and power born of inheritance and enough cunning to maintain it. Against these unfair circumstances do In-sang and Beom find themselves waging war.
Those around them hold unique opinions as to whether or not they should even try to battle the power that be...More
The children turn out to be the most conscious human beings and citizens while the parents act like spoiled children. It's an interesting dichotomy because while the children are intelligent and have good intentions, the immature parents have the wisdom of age. It is a delicate battle that In-sang and Beom fight to win control over their stifling lives.
In-sang and Beom meticulously research the shady undertakings of Jung-ho's professional life...More
The web of corruption and lies that Dae-cheol and Min-hee are fighting grows wider by the episode. This was quite the exciting hour as Dae-cheol discovers how deeply his past and his father's past ties into the current landscape of abuse of power, and Min-hee suspects him to be the Masked Vigilante. There's also a bit of romantic interest budding on her part. Nothing says excitement like a sprinkle of love a dash of murder.
What intrigues me most about Dae-cheol is that he's not just leading a double life, he's actually leading a triple life...More
This episode was chock full of the kind of plot material I've been waiting sixteen episodes for. Hypocrisy is exposed and Beom and In-sang finally begin to take measures to rid themselves of the foolishness brought upon them by Jung-ho.
There were a couple of powerful, long awaited moments on the parts of In-sang and Beom...More
Past collides with present as Dae-cheol fervently dives into revenge for his father. So much of what fueled his father's sad turns in life remains and continues to fester in positions of power. It is in this third episode that we also see his half-brother, Hyeon-woong, start to question his place in life and his father's past corruptions. Min-hee is the most vaguely developed main character, but as she is caught up in the thick of Dae-cheol's investigation, she will hopefully get her own development.
As Dae-cheol explores his father's past and suffers the grief of losing him, we get to experience alongside him how difficult and unfair life was for his father...More
"Masked Prosecutor" gave hero Dae-cheol his impetus in episode two. Until now, he has been a prosecutor who wore a mask, a man who hid behind his mask. Now he shall because the "Masked Prosecutor", a man who seeks justice. We also get to see beyond the stony mask of heroine Min-hee and it's a story just as tragic as Dae-cheol's.
Both of the leads are compelled to find justice for their families...More
While "Masked Prosecutor" was tonally undecided in its first episode, it did deliver a compelling backstory and give impetus to watch the next episode. The cast is strong and the younger generation performs so well that it makes me hope to see them for many more trips to the past.
This first episode mostly focused on how the main characters came to choose their current careers...More
When one conflict loses steam, a new one is introduced to maintain plot tensions. This manner of retaining viewer interest leads to haphazard plot construction and choppy character development.
The newest intrigue surrounds Jung-ho's obsession with Young-ra...More
There is a broader goal in "Heard It Through the Grapevine", but it keeps getting lost in the episodic format of the show. The meshing of Beom's world and In-sang's world causes friction and change, which is quite interesting. Unfortunately the show has turned back to Jung-ho and Yeon-hee's childish antics. If they don't get their way they have a temper tantrum.
Not all of the show was about Jung-ho and Yeon-hee's insecurities and obsession with status...More
This drama didn't quite end how I expected it would. I wanted fewer bow tied endings and a little more realism. It's not like I wasn't happy with how things turned it. It was all sweet and full of fuzzy warm feelings that were enjoyable to feel and enjoy. However, these sentiments didn't quite fit with the overall tone of the drama.
"Unkind Women" was about these women findings themselves and learning to overcome their pasts...More
The penultimate episode of "Unkind Women" was undeniably fantastic. There was so much resolved and the reactions to those resolutions were emotion-packed. At the same time, there are still a few issues that will linger into the finale and tide us over to the end.
This show is about overcoming the past and this episode really proved that point...More
Twenty-four episodes may be too long for this show. It is just getting around to introducing the climax: a cooking showdown that will involve every main character in the drama in some form or another. The tensions in the show are more contrived than ever save for a select few.
One of those tensions is that between Hyeon-jeong and her father...More
This episode was as disjointed as the last episode was cohesive - it jumped around all over the place! It was a desperate attempt to heighten excitement that ended in a mishmash of badly intercut scenes. There were some good moments, but the sloppy editing detracted from the juicier character beats.
There was a montage of scenes that cut from Hyeon-jeong and Moon-hak to Mo-ran and Soon-ok that were so poorly planned that it severed the flow of the story and instead seemed spastic...More
Episode 20 was a turning point for "Unkind Women". It highlights the changes that have gradually worked themselves into the story and into the characters. With four episodes left, the story is really about how the characters will come together and learn to overcome and appreciate life after all the hardships they have suffered.
Soon-ok embodies this concept best...More
There is a lovely dynamic shift between our characters as they learn and grow. Also, it shifts as those who are too insecure and selfish continue to interfere in the lives of others. As time passes all of these unkind, supposedly unhappy women finally gain insight into themselves and their lives. They see they are content despite all of the trials that they must walk through because they have each other.
The first example of this is the peculiar friendship between Soon-ok and Mo-ran...More
This episode really highlights how much the pressures on Beom have changed her, and the family dynamic along with her. The change is realistic given her situation, but I'm dying to see more of how she is feeling and thinking.
Beom comes off so coldly now...More
I'm not a fan of the relationship between Mo-ran and Soon-ok's family. A lot of excuses are made in order for friendships to be had. The truth of her involvement with the family shakes them to the core and the way the situation is resolved is extremely unsatisfactory.
I don't get the friendship between Soon-ok and Mo-ran...More
The juxtaposition of the past and present continues as bitter memories fuel revenge in the present and interfere with the newest relationships. This is also the point in the drama where those who have done wrong begin to atone for their sins - most of them anyway.
Wounds from the past have hardened Hyeon-ae and have negatively affected all of her relationships...More
This episode further explored Jung-ho and Yeon-hee's plan to separate Beom from her family. Her family is feeling the social pressure, especially Beom's sister Noo-ri. Relationships in the upper crust of society are complicated and neither Noo-ri nor her parents and uncle are ready to tackle them.
The most obvious change in the family is that Noo-ri is pushing herself to equal Beom...More
The first major showdown between Hyeon-ae and Hyeon-sook was fantastic. These two women are so powerful on screen and their rivalry is fraught with such delicious tension. It's the most engaging conflict in a show full of what are now all engaging conflicts. Some of them started out lukewarm, but they have all turned up the heat.
Hyeon-ae seems to have had a past that is quite similar to Hyeon-sook's ...More
"Unkind Women" is delving into the nitty gritty of all the issues at hand. Almost everything is out in the open and must be dealt with. The things that remain hidden ground the plot with a constant feeling of tension.
There was so much happiness in this episode...More
Jung-ho and Yeon-hee have begun their assault on Beom's family - they plan to morph them into a socially acceptable unit of society with monetary bribes. It places a distinct wedge between Beom and her family. In fact, the staff begins to call her a miniature Yeon-hee.
Beom is working so hard to please that she has begun to absorb the attitude of her in-laws...More
"Unkind Women" is one complicated show. Relationships are tangled into knots that can only be undone by major ego crushing - this will almost definitely take another ten episodes to resolve. What saves this episode from being too melodramatic are the family moments.
Hyeon-sook and Hyeon-jeong finally have their father back...More
I'm not a fan of some of the twists and turns in this week's episode of "Unkind Women". They were overly dramatic. The construction of the web of relationships in the drama is already a bit difficult to believe, so turning Mo-ran into a desperate woman in the twilight of her life is too dramatic a move. There are enough coincidental and unbelievable events to fill a lifetime without the addition of her dramatics.
Mo-ran has been seeking forgiveness from Soon-ok so that she can die in peace...More
And the cat is out of the bag. Everyone knows that Cheol-hee is alive. It wreaks havoc on Soon-ok's family as each person struggles to digest the information was best they can. On top of that world shattering revelation, relationships hit turning points. This is all to be expected at this point in the drama - we are halfway through and that's where things begin to change.
The first major change we see is between Roo-oh and Ma-ri...More
Episode 11 was strong than those of the past because something actually happened. And by "something", I mean that Jung-ho and Yeon-hee didn't just sit around plotting to take over the futures of In-sang and Beom. They set their plans into motion and the hired help quietly fights their corruption behind the scenes. Things happened!
The major theme of the episode was class and how it divides In-sang's family from Beom's...More
This was the strongest episode by far. For all the annoying interconnections between people that can be a weakness, this show timed its reveals so well that those interconnections ended up becoming strengths. Along with the reveals came many insights into a rich past that brought viewers closer to the characters on screen
Perhaps the strongest story was that of Hyeon-jeong's...More
"Unkind Women" is plugging along at a decent clip. Relationships are in full bloom and conflicts have been exposed. We see deeper into characters that were only two-dimensional. The ante has been raised and the going is good.
The major turn of the episode is that many conflicts come to a head and are exposed, whether to the characters themselves or just to the audience...More
Each unkind woman has begun to forge a new path in life. Their lives did not go the way they expected, but that doesn't mean that life is over. In fact, even the oldest woman is finding new life in friendship. As they try to take control of their lives, the past comes back to haunt them - whether or not is succeeds is a matter left to be seen.
Soon-ok and Mo-ran have found a comfortable ground upon which they can stand and relate to each other...More
After ten episodes I doubt that "Heard It Through the Grapevine" is going to change much in style. Instead, it continues to play much like a manga adapted for the small screen and the main characters are the comical Jung-ho and Yeon-hee.
The couple has more fits than their infant grandson and the major theme of the episode was denial...More
Relationships that are too intertwined in dramas can be annoying. They are too convenient and make a world rather insular. However, when an anticipated revelation or meeting occurs, that insular world magnifies the effect - that is what "Unkind Women" has done.
We've been waiting for Doo-jin to find out what sort of woman his beloved stepmother and for the worlds of the women in Soon-ok's household to collide with Hyeon-ae's...More
For the most part, "Unkind Women" is an engaging show. The relationships are fulfilling, the acting is relaxed, and most of the story, despite relying on the past, moves forward. There is one relationship triangle that drags the rest of it down: the relationship between Soon-ok, Mo-ran, and Cheol-hee. The entire situation is awkward and lacks the conviction of the other relationships and their situations.
Perhaps I'm just not sure how to interpret the situation between Mo-ran and Soon-ok...More
The pacing of the different storylines is "Unkind Women"'s strong suit. This is a large cast and the slow introduction during the first few episodes allows for all of them to develop individually. Where it weakens is how interconnected all of the characters are. It's easier to build an insulated world, but that becomes quite cliche.
At this point, we know the women of "Unkind Women" pretty well...More
"Heard It Through the Grapevine" is tackling social issues and injustices rather than attempting to break out of its mold. Each episode or pair of episodes takes on a new vice of Jung-ho's and Yeon-hee's. Luckily, this episode also highlighted the young married couple a little as well.
We got to see In-sang and Beom begin to dream about their future in a manner that is quite farsighted...More
Jung-ho and Yeon-hee become more ridiculous in this episode. They are the center of the show with their immaturity and, dare I say, idiocy. This episode displays that their manicured appearance most definitely belies the children beneath.
As of late, Jung-ho has become obsessed with losing hair...More
"Heard It Through the Grapevine" is an insulated drama. It has only expanded upon a few characters in eight episodes and it needs more than that. The focus on Jung-ho and Yeon-hee has provided humor, but is also becoming a little circular.
At first the satire was potent and relevant to the strict social circumstances portrayed in Korean drama...More
"Unkind Women" is delving into Hyeon-sook's past and from that burgeoning knowledge comes the reason why she has been so strict with the brilliant Ma-ri. We also learn more about Hyeon-sook's enemy, and about the pain that has plagued Soon-ok for thirty years.
This is the point when "Unkind Women" feels like it's truly starting to take off...More
The setup stage of "Unkind Women" is winding down and we're getting to the meat and potatoes of the story. We're seeing behind the curtain and discovering what makes these women tick: the pain, the stories, the relationships.
First, I'll lay down what doesn't please me in order to get it out of the way...More
"Unkind Women" is a story about overcoming the past and the heavy emotional burden it can place on a human soul. All of the women in Soon-ok's family have challenges to face that are caused by wounds long since healed and scarred that have reopened to cause more pain. These women have to learn to lead their lives again. And on the way, we get some beautiful moments.
Chae Shi-ra as Hyeon-sook is a grounding force of the drama...More
Lee Won-jong is an actor known for his diversity, and perhaps also for his trademark mole that finds its way into almost all of his dialogue. What makes this actor sought after, though, is that his acting is ageless. He retains the youthful, untainted passion in his acting that many younger actors have that win the hearts of the masses. He can also exercise the finely tuned skills that he's built up over years of working in a multitude of roles both on the big and small screens.
Let's look at one of Lee's more recent roles as Park Moon-soo in "Secret Door" ...More
"Heard It Through the Grapevine" seems to be, on the surface, a story about young love, teenage pregnancy, normal troubles with in-laws and socio-economic differences. In reality, it is about Jung-ho and Yeon-hee, the infantile, yet incredibly wealthy and socially influential parents of In-sang. It is about their inability to adjust to situations outside the status quo.
The couple treats In-sang and his new wife, Beom, like dolls playing at being a family...More
"Heard It Through the Grapevine" is really a tale of two woefully clueless socialites who are blasted by a huge social dilemma and handle it terribly. Yeon-hee and Jung-ho do not know how to deal with In-sang's out-of-wedlock baby or his marriage to a common woman. This episode is the start of their attempt to conform the young couple to their standards and their ignorance in how to treat their family as humans rather than as a social concept.
What makes this show so effective is not just the acting, but the music that accompanies the moments that most horrify Jung-ho and Yeon-hee...More
"Unkind Women" is zipping right along, feeding us backstory and humor and relationships that are full of heart. Although the story is a tad jumpy, the characters and their situations are easy to relate to and fun to watch.
Hyeon-sook continues to be the most engaging character with her quirkiness, fiery-temper and significant background information ...More
"Heard It Through the Grapevine" feels like it is a ball of energy ready to explode - but it never does. In-sang's parents are a riot as caricatures of the rich and spoiled while In-sang and Beom are a rather perfect couple. Beom's family feels the most real and they are who ground this drama with their normalcy.
Beom's family hasn't been in the foreground as much as In-sang's has, but they finally stepped up to bat and give In-sang and Beom the stability that they need...More
"Unkind Women" started in a fairly perfunctory manner, and yet, it had quite a bit of personality. This first episode is most definitely introduction and setup, but the humor and the music choices give it flair...More
What "Heard It Through the Grapevine" does well is slice-of-life storytelling without becoming too trite. If the show continues this path of development, it will be difficult to make any larger changes without a tonal shift. For now, though, it's quite a wonderful way to exploit the satirical elements that have been soundly nestled throughout the show.
In-sang's parents, Joon-ho and Yeon-hee, are the victims of this drama's satirical elements...More
"Punch - Drama" is over and I'm feeling a little numb. What a ride it gave me. It was one of the strongest dramas I've seen, despite a few live shoot glitches. The writing was more than solid - it was inspired. The acting was heartfelt, the direction was clear and clean. Mostly, it was the impeccable writing and the ability of the writer/director pairing to keep the story, and me, on our toes, as each expectation was subverted, played upon and turned into another exciting event.
With the constant tension and battles between Jung-hwan and his enemies, there was barely a second to breathe ...More
This drama is so good. The penultimate episode is upon us and I'm still gripping my arm rests. Jung-hwan's illness has almost gotten the best of him and former Minister Yoon has almost won. Almost - not quite. We still have one more episode to see who actually comes out on top. Even more than that though, Tae-joon and Jung-hwan have joined hands for one final ride up the glass elevator.
The Tae-joon and Jung-hwan pairing, whether it be as partners or opposites, is such a rich match...More
There are very few people in "Punch - Drama" who are not selfishly motivated to the point that they will sacrifice others as a means to an end. Jung-hwan was once a man like that, but has thankfully changed. Unfortunately, his opponents have no sense of loyalty and will choose sides based upon which is most advantageous.
This wasn't always true...More
"Heard It Through the Grapevine" has taken the miracle of birth and used it masterfully to achieve multiple ends. It captures the agony of childbirth, the wonder of new life, the tumultuous emotions new parents feel, the social terror In-sang's parents feel, and also manages to capture the irony of the fact that In-sang's parents are unhappy during one of the most wonderful moments of their son's life.
In-sang's parents are rich in wealth and social status, and yet they are unhappy at the birth of their grandson...More
Director and writer pair Ahn Pan-seok and Jeong Seong-joo's newest drama, "Heard It Through the Grapevine" pleasantly surprised me. The stodgy premise of rich family versus poor family was not appealing, but the show played it well in it's first episode. It worked from the outside in, from how the families appear to how they actually function.
Hero Han In-sang (Lee Joon) is the dutiful son of a well-to-do, socially powerful family who holds high expectations for him in marriage and career...More
The timeline in "Punch - Drama" is very literal. It isn't a marked calendar day when things are due. It is Jung-hwan's death, the most final of deadlines, and it's coming soon. Before he dies, he and Ha-kyeong have things to do, but their enemies know this as well.
Jung-hwan's impending demise has not only changed him, but everyone around him...More
The tension never dies in "Punch - Drama". Just when the good guys get a leg up on the pervasive corruption that endeavors to drag them down, the bad guys find a soulless way to quash them. Amongst the bloody political and personal battles are the most beautiful family scenes that center the show and keep it full of heart.
Tae-joon is the mastermind behind the corruption...More
The poison of greed spreads and corrupts more good people. Those who were once friends cannot be trusted any longer and it is time to turn back to family: Jung-hwan and Ha-kyeong turn towards each other in order to protect their own.
Minister Yoon and Tae-joon are not above using Jung-hwan and Ha-gyeon's daughter, Ye-rin, as a means to their end...More
Temptation truly has reached into the hearts of the most well-intentioned and morphed them into the people they've always dreaded they'd become - people like Lee Tae-joon. Minister Yoon has been eaten alive by greed and has been spit out as yet another self-serving political monster who masks her greed and twisted soul with pretty words of doing right by her people.
This is the path that Tae-joon followed...More
The finale matched "The King's Face" run in that it was disappointing and anticlimactic. Like the show, there were a few highlights, but those moments were not enough to save the finale or the show.
Gwanghae, through wisdom and an ability to read faces, climbed to the throne by using his intelligence and compassion...More
In it's last episodes "The King's Face" has curled into a complex, layered show that finally holds genuine tensions that do not feel contrived. Sixteen years have passed since Gwanghae became the Crown Prince and the warring factions in the government have a lot of fodder for battle.
A strong point of the episode was the fact that it brought Ga-hee's actions full circle...More
King Seonjo comes face-to-face with his own demons in the form of a man he once trusted: Do-chi. Like the king, Do-chi is filled with arrogance and the idea that he is invincible. Neither are prepared for their downfalls, which makes this episode and their crash to rock bottom the most engaging thus far.
Do-chi has spent years manipulating and lying to people, building up his power base and hoping to bring about change in Joseon...More
"The King's Face" is picking up the pace as it nears the finish line. Intentions do not necessarily lead to desired results because they are thwarted by powerful emotions like jealousy and greed. As the characters settle into their newest roles, they grow bolder and that makes the show a lot more fun.
Ga-hee, in particular, was much more lively than she has ever been...More
As inhibitions lower, the tension rises and that is the jolt that "The King's Face" needed. Characters make definite decision about their courses of action and that brings rivalries to the fore - rivalries make for intrigue and excitement.
The best change was found in Do-chi...More
Fresh blood has been brought onscreen in the form of the hilarious, life-filled Im Ji-kyu. He colors all the scenes he's in with humor, which doesn't fit the current tone of the show. It does, however, liven up "The King's Face".
Im Ji-kyu plays Heo Gyun, a Joseon merchant who has traveled the lands north of Joseon, Manchuria and the Ming Empires, gathering information and making friends...More
This episode of "The King's Face" vacillated between good and boring. The scenes that showed antagonism between the main characters had impact while the more romantic scenes were exceedingly dull.
Romance between Gwanghae and Ga-hee has been nothing more than longing stares and soulful ballads...More
Some aspects of "The King's Face" are strengthening, like the development of King Seonjo. He has finally become a 3-D character who is more than just a face on screen. Until now he has been a puppet character. The same is true for Do-chi who has sat on the backburner for quite some time. Most of the other elements have remained the same.
What "The King's Face" lacks is intrigue...More
Despite all the lies and corruption that pervade "Punch - Drama", what makes this show great is the honesty and rawness of the emotion it conveys. Very little about the show in writing or execution is haphazardly done. And, like with his previous dramas, Park Kyeong-soo delivers quality work well into the show's run time with his exploration into the darker side of humanity and loads of mind games. Oftentimes writing flags come mid run, but not "Punch -Drama".
As the drama progresses, it digs further and further in Jung-hwan's psyche, and into the kinds of change the pressure he is under forces him to make in his thinking, in his person, in his lifestyle...More
Episode 15 was, by far, the strongest episode of the drama. It brought together history, character development, and a large,exciting event that acted as an impetus for further development.
That event is the reclamation of Hanyang, what is now Seoul, from the Japanese...More
The waters are rushing quicker as "Punch - Drama" moves along. People are getting caught up in the churning depths of corruption and it doesn't matter how hard they struggle because they cannot extricate themselves from the dangerous river.
Minister Yoon is the best example of being in far above her head ...More
"Punch - Drama" does nothing if give itself 100% to being a riveting, high-quality drama. It depicts the worst in people and the best in people. It shows how quickly people change and uses clever devices to do so. Sharing a meal has never held so much meaning.
War has made "The King's Face" much more interesting. The characters in this seem more like cardboard cutouts than people. They have goals and go through the motions, but rarely do we see the motivating through processes or emotions behind the action. Crown Prince Gwanghae's story is riveting in its natural form and that gives this story more weight than the fictionalized plot.
The life is leaving "The King's Face" despite the intrigue of war and the heroics of Gwanghae...More
"Punch - Drama" is a drama that is constantly in a state of change. The law that once guided some of the most righteous people means little when family is at stake. People switch sides; they become crueler and harder. Jung-hwan is working to uncover truths he spent year burying in order to save his family before his time runs out.
It takes one decision to change one's path entirely...More
The Japanese have come and all the plot preparing comes together in a pointed effort to escape the wrath of the invasion. Constitutions are hardened against the horrors of war and Gwanghae is left as the de facto leader of Hanyang, Joseon's capital, as his father flees to save his own life. It is a test for everyone that shows their true colors.
Gwanghae is left by King Seonjo to protect the palace and the people...More
Justice is a central theme in "Punch - Drama" that has not yet been fulfilled, but who lies in wait for its time to shine. Ha-kyeong believes wholeheartedly in justice while those around her are in various states of cheating it. Another potent theme in "Punch - Drama" is humanity, and how it is found in all people, even the most corrupt villain.
Tae-joon is the star of this episode...More
War is upon King Seonjo, his family, and his country. Just the nature of war kicks up the excitement of "The King's Face" a notch. It's a well-known story, but the spin that the production team takes is what makes it either unique or just another story.
King Seonjo notoriously leaves his people and flees north to protect himself...More
"Punch - Drama" isn't losing speed. In fact, it's getting more exciting as each episode passes. The episode raced by, fraught with emotion, and ended with a scene that was like a punch in the gut. That is no small feat when the character who are the most effective are the villains.
Before he dies, Jung-hwan is just trying to take care of business...More
"Punch - Drama" has made me love being wrong. I thought Jung-hwan had changed for good. Nope. He has just changed sides, but uses the same ol' dirty tricks, doing the right thing the wrong way. His daughter motivated the initial change, but it will be up to Ha-kyeong to remind him that he once had a conscience. And that, my friends, is real intrigue.
Bring it on.
Pieces were forced into place in this episode of "The King's Face". It is almost the halfway mark and something large needs to happen or change - that event is a compounded national and character shift. The Japanese invasion has begun in earnest, and Ga-hee enters the palace, most likely for good. The changes are welcome. It's just that the changes felt as fluid as the Tinman's joints before Dorothy found him.
The King's Face" tends to be overly dramatic...More
All those years Jung-hwan walked the wrong path have finally come to an end. Kim Rae-won made every second Jung-hwan was on screen electrifying. Jung-hwan has always been a deliberate man so when he takes the entire episode's length to decide his course of action, the outcome is profoundly deep and powerful.
In the end, it is Ha-kyeong who gets to him...More
"Punch - Drama" gets more riveting with every episode as the drama delves deeper into the past, thickens up the plot of the present, and further muddies the future. Jung-hwan is on the brink of death, so this episode highlighted his past and the present doings of those around him, namely Ha-kyeong, Tae-joon, and Kang-jae.
Ha-kyeong still loves Jung-hwan despite his greed and inability to break away from the sickly symbiotic relationship with Tae-joon ...More
Gwanghae is learning and growing by leaps and bounds as "The King's Face" just about hits its halfway mark. He has developed a concrete goal and political aspirations that pits him against many people, including his family. But the lessons he has learned thus far are making him more wary than the impetuous child of yore.
"The King's Face" has a central focus of face reading and the idea that one cannot escape one's destiny...More
"Punch - Drama" is action-packed every second of the way. Jung-hwan doesn't react the way most terminal patients would in any drama or real life situation, which is was makes him a riveting character. The other characters feel just as tangible as he does despite their very selfishly driven, partially hidden and vaguely motivated agendas.
What is beautiful about this show is the way the past, present and future are linked by small, everyday things as well as the larger events of the show...More
Young Prince Gwanghae is learning that knowledge and a passion to help his people isn't enough to actually help them. He gets trapped in the sticky web of politics and his immobility and his immobility causes his people to suffer. He begins to truly feel the weight of his position and the heart of the cause that Ga-hee and Do-chi fight for.
While "The King's Face" isn't the most effective show, this episode certainly made its points clearly and smartly...More
"The King's Face" is slowly shaping Joseon's next king, Prince Gwanghae, for the heavy crown he will bear. Seo In-guk is charming as the young prince who is just discovering what he wants to do with the intelligence and political power that he was born with. His skill with face-reading helps him as he navigates the murky waters of backdoor politicking.
In his time exiled from the palace, Gwanghae has learned of the sordid affairs that happen beyond the palace walls that keep palace officials afloat in gold and riches and their power honed towards magnifying their riches and positions rather than helping those who need it...More
The first episode of "Punch - Drama" began solidly by giving us a main character, Park Jung-hwan (Kim Rae-won) who is more of a villain than a hero. In fact, he is all villain. He sacrifices everything that makes him human in order to gain what he desires. He is the lapdog of a corrupted, twisted, powerful politician and he knows it. His updstanding ex-wife knows it. The question is, how is his cancer diagnosis going to factor into "Punch - Drama"? Currently, it could take him out and the world would be better for it.
Writing this strongly built first episode is Park Kyeong-soo ("Empire of Gold"",THE CHASER - Drama") who penned solid characters and plenty of mystery...More
This episode was all about the lovers coming back together and the circumstances that conspire to keep them apart. Although the circumstances are political, it is the love story that fuels the episode while politics takes a decided back seat.
What has bothered me about Gwanghae made itself clear in this episode...More
The lovers are at odds, both emotionally and in duty, which is the heart of episode 6. Around them King Seonjo whose inner battle rages between loving his son and the fact that Gwanghae is the biggest threat to his crown; and Do-chi, whose position of power causes him grave heartache.
Gwanghae has lived idly in the eyes of his father and others...More
"The King's Face" is a rather disjointed drama. It takes the central idea that face reading is powerful enough to determine a man's destiny and tries to piece the different parts of the drama to that. The most important pieces that are tied together by face reading is that King Seonjo was not meant to be king and that Gwanghae is destined to be a great king. It puts father and son directly at odds, which is the main story played out by "The King's Face".
The problems is that this main story doesn't quite have the support from the rest of the drama to make it feasible...More
"Secret Door" gave me the ending I want although that can't be said for everyone. I was looking for how Seon's life, and subsequent death, had meaning in the grand scheme of things. That is exactly what I was given. While the politics of the drama had a cyclical quality, the relationship between father and son drove the show to its bitter, and then hopeful, end.
The ending made something good out of Seon's tragic death...More
This episode marks the beginning of the end. Seon has been trapped between his powerful convictions and the complexity of Joseon politics. Those who wish to retain power will do anything to keep it, which puts Seon at a severe disadvantage when he refuses to do wrong by his people. Throughout the drama, his father, King Yeongjo, has tried to teach him that to live and maintain power is to compromise. Compromise is not what Seon does.
In comparison to the cruel, insane lecher that Crown Prince Sado is historically known to be, this fictionalized Sado is an idealistic hero who eventually will uphold his convictions at the cost of his life...More
We're down to the wire. The last two episodes are ahead of us and the crown prince's fate is known. How it will be sealed is what "Secret Door" has to deliver. Seon is a hero in this rendition of Crown Prince Sado; a hero who is fighting forces greater than himself.
Seon has been determined to maintain an academy of brilliant minds comprised of people deemed by the ruling class as traitors, criminals, and too low born to be allowed to study and become government officials...More
Five years have passed since the start of "Secret Door's" timeline. King Yeongjo is older, frailer and more concerned with passing on his crown than protecting it. Seon is older, but still hoping and pushing for change. The ministers are fighting to keep the ways of old, which means finding ways to get rid of Seon.
The ending of this story is known...More
"The King's Face" is tonally all over the place. It has lost what little stylistic cohesion it had in its first week. Luckily, there are a few saving graces such as the beautiful camera work and the new relationship between Prince Gwanghae and Do-chi, the independently-minded leader of the Daedong.
What stands out about "The King's Face" is that it hasn't yet settled into a groove...More
"The King's Face" is a very visually lovely show. However, the general tone is so dramatic that it veers on seeming like a soap opera. It is not the acting, which is quite fine with the strong cast, but the direction couple with the dialogue. This tone keeps the weight of the show distant from the viewer and difficult to relate to.
This drama is romance driven...More
This episode dispelled the sense of fatigue I felt while watchin the past few episodes. It focused on the real love story of the drama, that between father and son, and helped to strengthen the pulse of "Secret Door".
The central conflict came back to the one established early on: differing ideas on how Joseon should be ruled...More
There are some hard lessons to learn in "Secret Door" for our young prince. His ideals have carried him this far, but the opposition has become near insurmountable unless he gives it. It is this point that steer all politicians onto gray moral ground. Without compromise, Seon will get no where. But that compromise comes at the expense of his people's rights. It's a hard lesson to learn.
Watching Seon learn to navigate the political minefield is the strongest point of the show save for his loaded interactions with his father...More
A book can be judged by his cover, and apparently so can a king. The group searching for the new king who will bring equality to Joseon is basing its search on face reading. Because of her face, Ga-hee is searched out to be something she doesn't want to be. Because of his face, Gwanghae is an enemy of his father. In the world of "The King's Face", looks matter.
In Ga-hee's case, the face reader is able to pin her for the type of woman for whom the king has been searching ...More
"The King's Face" opened with a fast-paced, visually pleasing and plot-thin first episode. All main characters were introduced with their major qualities and quirks and physiognomy, or face reading, is given its proper place at the top of the totem pole. Based upon this opener the drama could be beautiful and vapid, or beautiful and delve deeper than what was given in this first taste.
This episode was a little awkward, but it was full of wonderful stuff all the same. The episodic format of the plot is working for now. It gives episode long examples of how hard Seon tries to do right by his people and change the system, and how mightily the system fights back. Yoon So-hee continues to be as effective as a piece of corrugated cardboard while Kim Min-jong finally gets to step up and really add to the plot texture.
The greatest thing about Seon is that he has the innate ability to sweep others up in his passion, including those who are against him, like his father...More
"Secret Door" is both keeping its streak of excellence and taking a few jaunts into the unnecessary. The prince is very deeply involving himself in politics and making very dangerous, but clever, moves to reform the government towards equality of classes. His father and the reigning nobility are firmly against this, but that's what puts the meat and potatoes on "Secret Door"'s proverbial plate.
Politics can quickly spiral into very boring stuffs in a drama...More
"Blade Man" has ended happily. All issues were resolved. All couples ended up together. Some of these occurrences were satisfying and well-earned. Some were explained away by exposition. The entire episode was jumpy and strangely timed. And yet, as "Blade Man" has always managed to do, the final episode ended on a feel-good note.
The penultimate episode of "Blade Man" is about letting go: letting go of obligation, guilt, false notions of nobility. It deals well with the personal demons of Hong-bin, Se-dong, and Tae-hee, but neglects the mysticism (again) and the issues with Hong-bin's family (again). The neglected elements come from bad road mapping, bad planning. There isn't too much information or too many plot threads in "Blade Man" - they just weren't all woven into the fabric of the drama early enough.
Let's get Madam Yoon out of the way...More
This is the episode where Seon shines. It is the result of well-laid plans on the writer's part and immense acting on Lee Je-hoon's part. The potential for Seon as a monarch is sky high, and he has proven that to his father, the Joseon officials and China. He has even proven it to the vengeful Ji-dam.
What makes the episode so powerful is that Seon did not do anything impulsively like he led everyone around him to believe ...More
Seon is back in the political arena with plans to change Joseon for the better. But those he faces are ready for him and they are much more experienced. Another formerly friendly face has now turned into that of an enemy and now the prince has fewer true allies than ever before. It's an engaging episode that mimics the fast-paced rhythm of the very first episode. It shoves us into the scary world of politics along with Seon who really doesn't know what hit him.
While Seon is very clever and he is well-prepared, Minister Kim has the advantage of experience and no moral shackles...More
The inevitable time jump has happened and it has brought about some interesting changes for our Prince, his goals, and the king's desperate desire to keep his crown. Since the political slaughter and the revocation of the prince's governing powers, Seon has become more keen, more determined, and more wily. This change is mirrored in everyone, the sad effect of tragedy.
The most interest change is in Seon...More
"Blade Man" has shifted focus from Hong-bin's trials and tribulations to the ripple effect that Tae-hee's appearance has caused in the lives of everyone in the show. Her death had casted a quiet pall over everyone's lives and that in and of itself was effective motivation for character growth. Bringing her back to life has skewed the plot.
Despite the new plot direction, the effect of Tae-hee's appearance has forced changes in some of the characters, most notably Se-dong ...More
This episode is particularly brutal, both emotionally and physically. After twelve episodes of Seon hoping that his father will do the right thing by his people, he is crushed by the reality of his father's ambitions. King Yeongjo himself is again confronted by how far he will go when motivated by fear and ambition. Ambition and power make a deadly combination as those beneath Yeongjo discover.
That combination is enough to snuff out the lives of many and make Seon, the light and stalwart soldier of his people, waver...More
"Blade Man" is a strange mixture of moving and perplexing. It is the moving aspect that keeps it an engaging show, while the perplexing aspect has me wondering what the writer is thinking. So many plot points are dropped and picked up at random that there is very little consistency in the storyline. What is consistent is the emotional development of Hong-bin, Daddy Joo, and Se-dong.
Hong-bin spends most of the episode hunting down Tae-hee, but while he does we see that he really has grown...More
This episode focused on the return of the supposedly dead ex-girlfriend and her tragic health problems. She pretended to be dead to spare her son, Chang, and Hong-bin from the pain of living with a very sick person. Now that she's been discovered, our cast of characters has to deal with her.
I'm trying not to be too cynical about the very cliche move of bringing back a dead lover (Tae-hee) who made the noble decision to spare her loved ones pain, but it is very difficult...More
The relationship between Seon and is father is both simple and twisted. It guides this episode through the political game played. As it journeys through the obstacles of palace life, politics, and years of fearful living, it has difficulty remaining pure and true as this episode proves. As a result, Seon's heart is broken yet again.
There is a certain point when all of the heartbreak that Seon suffers is going to break down his spirit...More
Seon has picked up some political savvy and realizes that in order to beat the powers that be, he has to play their game. He has not hurt an innocent to achieve his goal as his enemies would, but he does manipulate the system in a very satisfying retribution against the vile Minister Kim. It is now only a matter of time before this fight for the truth gets ugly, or rather, much uglier. It's already smeared with the blood of the innocent.
The document that incriminates King Yeongjo and a group of highly ranked Norons has come to Seon's attention as the possible motivator behind all the deviancy that has happened thus far...More
This episode of "Blade Man" was a cross between solid character development and a wretched attempt to include all K-drama tropes into one show. "Blade Man" has a way of creating moments that reach out and pull my heart strings. And then it has ways of banishing those moments instantaneously.
Let's start with the bad...More
I don't know what to make of "Blade Man" anymore. It's focus keeps wavering and it picks up and drops plot threads seemingly at random. What happened to Hong Bin's powers? Why do they not appear for whole episodes at a time? Why do his powers only manifest in part? What is up with Madame Yoon and why does she not feel scarier?
All of these questions stem from one core problem: a distinct lack of follow-through...More
Manipulation of the most relationships allows for the politics of "Secret Door" to move forward. This kind of manipulation messes with commonly accepted morality and makes for intense, fascinating television. How can Seon win against those who are willing to forsake the lives of their loved one's for power?
It is Minister Kim who shows a calculating thirst for power that dwarfs the kings ambitions to retain his throne...More
Thirst for power has consumed King Yeongjo's heart. He is such a fascinating and rich character. Despite the fact that he knows what he does is wrong and it goes against his conscience and his feelings for Seon, he does it anyway. He is willing to sacrifice even his own flesh and blood for the throne he gained through similar sacrifice.
It seems like "Secret Door" is trying to make a martyr of Seon when history paints a darker picture...More
"Blade Man" is inconsistent. It can't decide which direction it wants to take with its plot and its tone and its character development. Perhaps it is due to the long periods of ineffective on-camera brooding. Or perhaps it is the constant time skips that gloss over all of the juicy writing points, leaving them to be explained after the fact in a way that feels more like reading a teleprompter than watching drama. However, where "Blade Man" excels is in the little moments of connection between characters, like the beautiful ones between Chang and Hong-bin.
After many episodes of Chang longing for his father's attention, he finally asks - and he is obliged...More
There was so much staring, waiting, and soulful music this episode of "Blade Man" that it should've been a music video rather than an episode of K-drama. So little happened that most of the episode seemed like an attempt to fill the time slot. The lack of action and the abundance of face shots and moody lighting was probably an attempt to create a contemplative mood. But it backfired and made the episode drag instead.
There were a few important elements that were explored, but they could've been handled differently...More
When the players in "Secret Door" are pushed to their limit, they turn into those they fear. It's a terrifying reality of the pressures of politics. Father turns against son. Mentor against student. Friend against friend. This is when Seon discovers the truths about those he trusts most and has to face reality: trust is something no one in his life is worthy of.
Seon has relentlessly pursued the mystery of his friend Heung-bok's death despite the warnings of many ...More
Kwak Jung-wook may not be a name we readily recall because he isn't a well-known leading man, but he is definitely a staple of the Korean drama and film acting pool. The young actor has had steady work since childhood and the experience manifests in his latest work. He has a vast emotional vocabulary on screen that makes him able to move from scene-stealing to barely present in moments.
When an actor rarely takes on leading roles, it can open him up to a variety of interesting and more unconventional roles, or it can limit him ...More
This episode of "Secret Door" was slower in pace than previous episodes, mostly because it focused on the sneaky ministers and greedy guards trying to manipulate the prince and the king. It is Seon's passionate drive to uncover the truth and the king's insane need to retain his crown that provides so much of the tension in the show. Those were not as prominent in this episode.
When the king did make an appearance, however, it was completely charged by his obsession with the document that could dethrone him, and his terror at its potential discovery...More
"Blade Man" is more about the changes in Hong-bin than it is about the relationship between him and Se-dong. While Hong-bin is an intriguing character, the show really needs to round itself out to be fully cohesive. It's currently jumpier than a Mexican jumping bean and just as spastic. Fun, but spastic.
The focus of "Blade Man" seems to center around Hong-bin's focus. He is mostly concerned with Se-dong and the drama most often shows his interactions with her. Only when his attention is forced from his obsessive crush does "Blade Man" focus on another aspect of Hong-bin's life: his family.
This episode focused on revealing the home life Hong-bin grew up in...More
Lee Seung-gi is an idol actor that has worked hard and made a name for himself in every branch of the industry he has worked in. As a solo singer he is a solid performer who has always done well on stage and in his music videos. As an actor he has worked in multiple genres. As an MC he has found continuing success. What is it about Lee that appeals to the masses? What made his transition from singing to acting so strong?
It is Lee's work ethic and general relatability that makes him so successful...More
"Secret Door" is such a well-rounded show. It incorporates historical elements, moving character beats, intense character development, intricate background music, and beautiful cinematography to create a thickly textured plot fabric. We gain insight into the complex character that is King Yeongjo and into the very strictly structured palace life and politics that prevent royalty from having any kind of normal relationship.
The precarious position of "king" is what keeps Yeongjo in a state of constant fear...More
What makes "Secret Door" such a rich drama is how is plays up both sides of every situation and every relationship. A murder mystery that could've been solved in two episodes span five as people insert themselves into the investigation, using it to achieve their own ends. It is not only an investigation, but a political vehicle. Or the relationship between father and son. King Yeongjo loves his son as a father, but as a king he sees Seon as a threat. It's a rich dichotomy that keeps the world of "Secret Door" full of intrigue.
The twisted relationship between father and son is a favorite part of the show...More
"Blade Man" is at its best when it works on human relationships and at its weakest when it tries to integrate story elements and politics. The relationship between Hong-bin and Se-dong, and Hong-bin and his family is strong and relatable. Madame Yoon and her personal agenda is wearying and unengaging. The stark contrast in the show's strengths and weaknesses mirrors the abrupt changes between scenes, which is surprising as the transitions between scenes were so strong in the earliest episodes.
The strongest part of today's episode was the solid connection between Hong-bin and Se-dong...More
A prince who felt all alone in life gains a few comrades he can trust in a world saturated with power-hungry people who would do anything to retain that power. He learns that greed can trump the pride of the most upstanding people and that to beat people who work behind the scenes, he has to work in secret himself.
Lee Je-hoon is doing a magnificent job as Crown Prince Lee Seon...More
The murder mystery is heavily under way as it creates layers of depth in the characters and in the plot that is fraught with tension. Father is pitted against son; Noron against Soron; truth against lies. Power warps even the most upright of men. Seon and Ji-dam fight it, but those with power will do anything to keep it, which allows manipulation and treachery to run rampant and foster deceit in nearly everyone.
For now, Seon remains relatively unswayed by the temptation of power...More
It's time for Hong-bin to actively pursue the mystery behind his blackouts and it's about time. If the strange transformations went unexplained very much longer it would have damaged the strength of the plot. Luckily, Hong-bin is intelligent and his secretary is bad at keeping secrets.
Hong-bin's horrified reaction to discovering that he transforms when he's angry is quite understandable...More
"Blade Man" is still cute as ever, but this episode came to almost a complete standstill in terms of plot development. Some background on Hong-bin and Tae-hee's relationship as well as on Hong-bin's selfish, conniving father made its way to the fore, but it was surrounded by fluff and a good bit of overacting.
The point of all the fluff was most definitely to bring Hong-bin and Se-dong closer, to use her kindness as the instigator for change in the gruff, literally prickly man...More
The battle between the clever King Yeong-jo and his idealist son has begun in earnest after only one episode of intense setup. Yeong-jo is a wily, crafty old man who years on the throne and innate intelligence have kept him alive against nearly insurmountable odds. Against such a far-sighted man, Lee Seon has a very long a difficult battle ahead of him.
The strange beauty in the on screen relationship between Yeong-jo and Seon is that there is affection between them, and Yeong-jo empathizes with his son ...More
"Secret Door" is based on one of the most famous stories in Korean history: the story of Crown Prince Sado and his father, King Yeongjo. It is a tragic tale that has been re-created many times. The circumstances surrounding the lives and deaths of the father and son pair are shrouded in mystery despite multiple (differing) accounts of Sado's contemporaries. "Secret Door" is putting its own spin on the story, which thus far is exciting and fast-paced.
All the well-known figures in history have made their appearance, played by a remarkably strong cast...More
"Blade Man" is settling into a groove that balancing plot development with the show's love of long emotional beats and reveals. Hong-bin's anger-fueled blades are as much of a mystery to him as they are to the viewers. This episode sheds a bit more light on them as Hong-bin becomes more and more fascinated with Se-dong, her fierce attitude, and her ability to make everyone around her smile.
The most engaging part of "Blade Man" is the relationship between Hong-bin, Se-dong, and Chang...More
"Blade Man" continues to be highly entertaining, very touching, and full of juicy character stuffs. Heroine Se-dong does not disappoint with her spunk and vulnerability that is guided by good sense and intelligence. Not-quite-hero Hong-bin has shown the smallest of changes in reaction to Se-dong's strength and his backstory is compelling. Little Chang is hard not to love, and the side characters are quirky and fun.
What makes "Blade Man" stand out is the wonderful trappings: cleverly scored music, creative scene transitions, and pointed camera storytelling...More
"Temptation" has come to a hopeful end without resolving a lot of questions. Some of those questions don't need resolution, but some of them have become loose ends. Most of the focus was on Seok-hoon and Se-young's relationship and how it weathers the storm of her cancer.
Se-young's cancer did give Hong-joo and Seok-hoon a chance to say goodbye at the silent behest of Se-young...More
"Temptation"'s penultimate episode sketched the paths the characters are going to traverse at the end after all the trials and tribulations of the show. Three of the four main leads can now look back with perfect hindsight 20/20 vision and see their roles in causing the havoc that befell their lives. It doesn't completely dispel the bitterness, but it does give some sense of viewer satisfaction to see the growth. The other person, Min-woo, remains selfish to the end, a true villain of the story in which he imagined himself the hero.
Min-woo's ego rules his life and thus far, he has run relatively unchecked...More
"Blade Man" is a show that takes the normal set-up elements of K-drama and morphs them into something new. The unexpected child is not just a silent motivator, but a full-fledged character who inspires plot movement. The female lead isn't just an airhead with no power. She has intelligence and drive. The male lead is both completely unlikeable and entirely pitiable. On top of these are the beautiful camera styling by the director.
"Blade Man" is a quirky, dark comedy from director Kim Yong-soo-I ("Sword and Flower", "The Equator Man", "Drama Special - White Christmas") and writer Kim Gyoo-wan ("The Secret of Birth"",Cinderella's Sister"). It's first episode was fast-paced, fun, and full of slapstick comedy that was surprisingly suited to actors Lee Dong-wook and Shin Se-kyung.
The first episode was most definitely geared towards a lot of introduction and set-up...More
This episode of "Temptation" was another turning point. The characters laid bare their truest feelings and stopped the pretenses that made their relationships so twisted. Despite the medical dramatics, the honesty of emotion was very refreshing.
Hong-joo has been a highlight for the past several episodes as she realizes that revenge harms her as much as it does Se-young and Seok-hoon...More
"Temptation" is a whirlwind of deceit, lies, and omissions that keep the tension high and the characters and viewers in a constant state of confusion. There is so much betrayal that there is hardly a moment of respite. Not one character is truthful or forthcoming, which shrouds all of their doings in shadow.
Hong-joo, despite her moment of clarity at the end of the last episode where she realized that she is in way above her head, has turned back towards Min-woo for another attempt to keep her marriage from falling apart...More
"Fated to Love You" has come to a heartwarming end. It was very neatly concluded. This finale's ending was the victim of a lack of material as it crawled along to the finish. Despite that, it was still satisfying to see Geon and Mi-young get their happy ending and live as a family with everyone who is important to them. The finale does not reflect the rest of the drama, which, in general, moved along at a decent clip.
The episode was packed with sappy romantics and a reliving of the Macau incident that began the fated relationship...More
This episode was very slice-of-life in that it focused on a narrow scope. It dealt with two issues: Geon's illness and how it affected and continues to affect his family; and, Mi-young's mother inability to approve of their marriage. The simplicity of the plot made screen time for some very sweet interactions of our main couple with each other and with their loved ones. It could also be indicative of very little plot left to be had, but "Fated to Love You" is always at its best when it is adorable and winning.
While having a parent oppose a marriage is nothing new to drama, having a mother as level-headed, open, and caring as Mi-young's mother is rare indeed...More
Paths and minds have been twisted beyond repair in "Temptation". Trust has been willfully manipulated by all parties so that nobody trusts anybody else. It's very tense, but a wickedly clever way to keep the plot going. The tension causes fissures that grow into cracks, exposing the characters' true personalities and thoughts. It is a relief because up until now, it has been difficult to read many of them.
The biggest character revelation was Min-woo's...More
Falling into temptation and seeking revenge are never what one expects. Temptation the noun is more than loving someone one shouldn't. It is also the desire to taste revenge, to ignore one's moral code for an expected feeling of satisfaction. "Temptation" the show is exploring the destruction that follows in the wake of taking the darker path.
Instead of feeling satisfaction, Hong-joo is suffering just as much as her revenge makes Seok-hoon and Se-young suffer...More
Misunderstandings work themselves out in this episode of "Fated to Love You". All that is left is raw emotion and the core issues that spawned the misunderstandings. It's time for everyone for everyone to come to terms with Geon's inherited disease and what that disease has done to his family.
With a little help from her friends, Mi-young has learned of Geon's illness and why he pushed her away...More
This episode of "Fated to Love You" really proved how strongly written the two main characters are written. Despite mistakes that they make and misunderstandings that they have, they retain the traits that make them endearing. It is those traits that will bring the estranged lovebird back together. It is this couple, and their supportive families, that carry the show. They are its core and strength when the secondary plot lines fail.
It is also the incredibly ability of Jang Hyuk and Jang Nara to emote that keep the show emotionally tethered to its audience...More
"Temptation" is no longer at a standstill. The showdown between the three women has begun, and despite the fact that is is very ugly, it spikes the activity and interest levels upwards. No longer are the characters standing around a posturing. Things are happening and its much better than the wearying setup we were subjected to for the past few episodes.
Unfortunately, "Temptation" took a very long time to warm up and switch gears...More
As "Temptation" weathers on, it becomes a more exacerbated version of what came before. Characters change, especially Se-young, but true growth avoids them in favor of more dramatic happenings like feverish revenge. It is sad because there are so many issues that were carefully placed earlier on in the drama, but they are woefully underdeveloped.
The biggest issue that has been mishandled is that of Min-woo's children...More
This episode was the last episode of Geon's charade as Kim Young-ja, the "woman" who bought Mi-young's painting and gave her emotional support. It is also the end of this stage in this stage of their relationship, the stage where they're forced to reckon with lingering emotions and the repercussions of splitting so suddenly. While the relationship between Mi-young and Geon is full of nuance and development, the other relationships stall in wait for the last phase of the drama.
It is good that Geon's Young-ja charade ended as it was just about to reach the end of its useful life...More
Mi-young and Geon are dancing around each other now, trying to make heads or tails of their ill-defined relationship while everyone else watches and waits for the fated couple to work things out. Words are what trip the couple up along with their messy past.
Both Mi-young and Geon are in denial about their feelings for each other...More
"Fated to Love You" is in the midst of re-establishing the relationship between Geon and Mi-young - that is to say, they really don't have a relationship anymore. It is also now that we see that not all is well with Mi-young, and that Geon cannot seem to let her go. The episode is inwardly turned as it explores the troubles of not only Mi-young and Geon, but of their families and Daniel. Se-ra is still conspicuously underdeveloped.
The biggest revelation this episode is the fact that Mi-young has a decided aversion to all things related to Geon...More
Famous idols who go into acting often share a very similar issue. The position of the roles they get is very central compared to what their skills at the time can actually handle. Park Yoo-chun showed promise straight away, by managing to carry the role of a lead in his very first work a lot better than what a lot of idols or other rookies manage...More
"Temptation" has stagnated in forward movement and become a massive gray area. Anger and hurt fuel half of the characters while the desire to avoid the problems at hand keeps the other half withdrawn from reality. The plot is made up of characters making constant, consistent mistakes without any sign of improving. Although the mistakes create tension between characters, they don't do much for plot movement.
Hong-joo is a seething mass of righteousness and a desire for revenge...More
"Temptation" is snowballing into a massive knot of churning emotions and erasing any clear line between right and wrong. Everyone is in an agitated state of mind and not thinking very clearly. This is when the fallout from the divorces can truly be seen, in the aftermath of the emotionally messy affair.
It can best be seen in Hong-joo who is no longer a meek flower who never defends herself...More
"Fated to Love You" has come full circle since its beginning and is now continuing forward. The main couple has been molded by their experiences and they have come out stronger and a little wiser. Not only is there character development this episode, but the humor was brought back detracting from the gravity of the tragedies Mi-young and Geon have experienced.
In the three years that have passed, Mi-young has become a famous artist, but still keeps her humble, kindly demeanor...More
"Fated to Love You" has taken a complete turn into darkness. The intensity of the turn was shocking, but very well executed. The episode could have been overworked and overly dramatic. Instead it was timed with finesse that maximized the major events as well as the smaller moments.
The pacing and cinematography of the episode were its strengths...More
CN Blue's lead singer, Jung Yong-hwa, is a talented man with a expansive stage presence and an abundance of energy. More often than not, however, this presence and energy doesn't find its way into Jeong's dramas. That makes his characters shaky. His more recent work has more finesse and relatability, but he started out quite rocky...More
All the happiness in "Fated to Love You" wasn't fated to last any longer. Episode 11 was as heart-wrenching and intense as the Mi-young/Geon couple has been sweet for the past ten episodes. It was a difficult turning point based on the wearied plot trope of amnesia, but it was well-played.
Geon loses his memory and spends the hour struggling to get it back and greatly hurting Mi-young in the process...More
"Temptation" has firmly set up the secondary couples and the blame and the bitterness sets in. It is really the aftermath of divorce that moves the couples emotionally - the rebound effect. It is not only the couples who suffer, but their families. "Temptation" is slowly reaching out to encompass what happens to a family structure when cheating and divorce are involved, but focusing mostly on the illicit romance.
That is the weakness of the show as well is its strength, the focus on the romance that neglects thorough development of other elements...More
The relationships between the four main characters have made huge shifts after the married couple, Seok-hoon and Hong-joo, settle on divorce to solve their problems. The divorce highlights weaknesses in characters and how they deal with decision-making and their relationships.
An emotionally tumultuous time isn't the best circumstance during which to make major decisions, but it often happens...More
Circumstances take a turn for the worst for the blissfully happy married couple. Although they are Happy Together, it is the world that refuses to leave them to their own devices. If it did, this wouldn't be quite as dramatic a drama.
What is beautiful about this main coupling is the genuine affection between them...More
"Fated to Love You" is too cute for its own good. It feels like the calm before the storm. Geon has seemingly dealt with his past, choosing Mi-young and their baby. Mi-young is growing stronger as well, bringing the couple closer. The only negatives in the show now are Yong and his scheming mother, and that the build up to the adorable happenings is ridiculously formulaic.
The show follows very predictable routes to get to the warm and fuzzy adorable scenes, but when they arrive, the moments are very rewarding...More
Breakthrough roles are very difficult to predict for a rookie actor. Those who are not natural talents that dazzle from their very first work go through a process of development and often need more help in finding roles they can handle at their level, but also evolve through. For Kim Jae-joong, who has so far been tolerable, but also uninspiring, Heo Yeong-dal of 'Triangle - Drama' was that role.
Kim has been around in the acting industry for almost a decade, but only really made his presence more known with 2009 film 'Postman to Heaven' and also made a more solid drama debut in Japan, with 'Hard to Say I Love You'. Still not having made it big in movies, with 'Jackal is Coming' being the only one out so far, Kim has had more work in dramas, starring as the second male lead in 'Protect the Boss', as a tortured concubine's son in 'Dr. JIN', before he got his first leading drama role in his latest and aforementioned drama, 'Triangle - Drama'...More
Seok-hoon and Hong-joo's relationship continues to collapse while Min-woo and Se-young meddle in attempt to help. The more unstable the relationship becomes, the less rationality plays a role in decision-making, especially on Hong-joo's part.
Hong-joo has officially snapped - she can no longer handle the stress of her crumbling marriage...More
"Fated to Love You" is a modern day Cinderella with more depth and a prince who is dashing because of how well he treats his princess. He can't protect her from everything, but the protection and support he does give bolsters her and gives her strength to go out on her own. She in turn softens his heart and shows him what true kindness is, giving him the strength and will go protect her.
There has been no doubt, for some episodes now, that Geon and Mi-young are attracted to each other and enjoy being together...More
"Fated to Love You" keeps up a lively pace into this seventh episode - it's also a lot of fun. Mi-young and Geon learn more about each other, learn that they like spending time with each other, and learn about the process of parenthood. They have a lovely partnership forming that will no doubt be trampled with with Se-ra comes back into the picture.
While this episode began with a big misunderstanding, through humor and Geon's earnestness, not only do Mi-young and Geon grow closer, but Geon earns the respect of his in-laws...More
While "Temptation" is still full of moping and brooding, the characters are breaking out of their dark cycles and doing things - for better or for worse. Mostly for worse. Hong-joo, in particular, is cracking and becoming irrational and emotionally unstable. She's keeping things interesting as Seok-hoon and Se-young dance around their feelings for each other and Min-woo deals with his family issues.
Almost every relationship in the show has some connection to Hong-joo and her instability...More
The players take steps towards trying to fix the problems in their lives. While the solutions aren't the most well-advised, efforts are definitely being made. These efforts have taken the story from a mopey stall towards invigorating forward motion.
Seok-hoon has decided to challenge his feelings for his wife Hong-joo and the deliberate temptress Se-young by forcing himself into a position where he sees Se-young everyday ...More
Family is key to "Fated to Love You". It is what brings the characters closer and makes this show hit so close to home for every viewer. Cohabitation hjinks have begun as well as burgeoning feelings on the part of the most reluctant character: Gun. He and Daniel warm to the kind-hearted Mi-young as she becomes more involved with becoming a mother.
Gun has grown up in a broken family with dead parents, his father's mistress and son, and a very demanding extended family...More
The angst has begun in its fullest glory. Doubts have been seeded and have taken deep root in the hearts of the married couple. Also, affections are given where they shouldn't be given, pulling the couple further apart and making those around them take greater interest in what they shouldn't. The side stories are cute, but not cute enough to dampen the intensity of the angst.
Hong-joo has taken the brunt of the emotional pain as she was betrayed by Seok-hoon ...More
"Fated to Love You" is a delightful mix of the humorous, the sincere, and fun. It transitions between levity and gravity with ease and Jang Nara is the center of a tightly woven cast of characters.
This episode centered around Lee Gun's negative reaction to the marriage and how it has ruined his dreams of a future with the runaway Se-ra...More
"Fated to Love You" has hit a sweet balance between laugh-out-loud humor and the very serious matter of having a child. It confines the humor to transitional scenes and gives the heavier moments room to expand and then settle.
Last episode dealt with the immediate reactions to pregnancy while this episode focused on the aftermath - the decisions a man and a woman face when a baby is created as the result of irresponsible behavior...More
"Fated to Love You" gets cuter by the episode. What makes it so fun is the mix of the serious and the goofy ways the characters deal with problems. The Korean drama's take also is more concise than the original, shortening some of the drawn out sequences that Taiwanese dramas prefer. This gives the show a brisk pace that suits the startling discoveries made this episode.
What adds to the urgency of the pace is that the fun Geon/Mi-young pairing is not only full of chemistry, but that they are on opposite sides of a political battle...More
From hijinx to understanding, "Fated to Love You has worked it's way across the emotional spectrum to bring the main couple into a commiserative friendship. Both of them have been hurt by love, and both of them find comfort in sharing that hurt.
In order to make the couple sleep together, all sorts of things go wrong...More
Song Joong-ki is one of the rawest talents to ever grace the small and big screens of South Korea. Every emotion he portrays on screen is rooted in his gut: strong, visceral, real. His good looks may have won him entrance onto the competitive K-drama and K-film playing field, but his skills have kept him on top.
What makes Song stand out as an actor is his keen intelligence and his deep understanding of his roles...More
The first episode of "Fated to Love You" was fun, whimsical, and full of the zany Taiwanese drama style while still remaining true to Korean drama style. The characters were wacky, but endearing, and the plot moved quickly towards the event that sets of the main couple's journey.
From the get-go, "Fated to Love You" bolted out of the gates, giving us some over-the-top humor with male lead Lee Geon (Jang Hyuk) that was a milder version of the drawn out scenarios that Taiwanese dramas favor...More
Episode 4 of "Temptation" was cyclical. It mirrored episode 3's events in reverse and sported more manipulation and betrayal. The small feelings that were planted have started to grow insidiously like weeds and are affecting decisions. It is a distinct lack of communication that is causing the breakdown of what once were solid relationships and promoting the growth of unhealthy ones.
Seok-hoon and Hong-joo are the main victims of a lack of communication...More
The illicit relationships that were formed in the first week of "Temptation" have now begun to develop at frightening speed. Each character has been hurt and is looking for the comfort and security that they can't find in their spouses, their family, or their work.
Se-young is the only main character of the four who is experiencing her first love...More
"You're Surrounded" has come full circle, giving it a satisfying ending in this finale. There were many moments that mirrored the events of the first episode, and those moments carried so much more weight after the journey through the past twenty episodes. What is most satisfying is that this finale didn't feel rushed. Rather, it provided the climax for the battle between the good guys and Assemblyman Yoo, then rode the lovely denouement to the finish.
The weaknesses of the finale are similar to the overall weaknesses of the show...More
The penultimate episode of "You're Surrounded" tied a lot of pieces together. It was a mixture of very moving, and slightly disapointing. Back stories were finally depicted in an amount of detail that should've been present ages ago. It would've given the significant happening of the episode much more impact. Much of the lack of development comes from the show's slow pace. Pace does not always dictate less storytelling, but it does require more efficient writing impart information.
What this episode suffered from was a lack of buildup...More
Unlike it's premier, the second episode of "Temptation" delved deeply into the heart of the characters' issues and made for a much more interesting watch. It seems like the show was trying to bypass the setup as quickly as possible. Melodramas garner interest because of the moral dilemmas they inevitably posed, the the dilemmas in this show are worth exploring.
Seok-hoon chooses to accept Se-young's proposal, which hinted at strong sexual implications that never played out...More
"Temptation" started with no lack of dramatics and speed. There was suicide, crippling debt, wandering eyes, illegitimate children, illness, chaebol heirs, a foreign vacation, and more - the necessities of every self-respecting melodrama - all packed into one hour. This set-up was quickly, efficiently done with very little spared for character development. It was incident after heavy-handed incident. Each character had a burden to shoulder and a sob story to share.
Choi Ji-woo as the no-nonsense business woman Yoo Se-young led the pack with her layered performance...More
The finale was everything that I wanted from "Doctor Stranger", mostly in that it was satisfying. The bad guys got their just deserts, and the lovers ended up together after many trials and tribulations. However, it makes me wish for better things from the rest of the drama that seemed to have taken a long jaunt down the rabbit hole.
What was missing from the ending was the build up to it...More
And the hits just keep coming, giving this show a darker edge than before. Dae-goo struggles to come to terms with all the information he and his team dig up, and the bad guys dive deeper into moral depravity.
It's baffling how much power Assemblyman Yoo has to ruin lives, take lives, and manipulate the system...More
Park Hyung-sik (Park Hyung-sik) is an idol who strives to excel. Best known for his work as a member of the boy group ZE:A - Children of Empire, he has dabbled in different performance arts such as musicals and the television scene of South Korea. The projects he chooses to take part in are varied and many, each providing unique challenges to the young talent.
The start of his career found him in cameos, but his first dive into serious acting was in 'Drama Special - Sirius'. Like many idol actors, the role was the younger version of the adult main lead. However, this role required him to play twin brothers with opposite personalities, troubled pasts, and a severely strained relationship. Park Hyung-sik's acting was piercing and heartfelt. Each character he played was a distinct and clear person, which is no easy feat even for the most seasoned of actors...More
"You're Surrounded" was all about the truth in episode 17. The key players are fully informed and yet their hands are tied by the system, by corruption, and by the dastardly deeds of the powerful and greedy. While the pace of this episode was decidedly slow, the amount of wonderful introspection made up for it.
The episode focused on revealing the pasts of Dae-goo and Tae-il, addressing painful issues and making a few statements...More
"Doctor Stranger" has become completely erratic in its desperate attempt to remain valid and interesting. This penultimate episode was jumpy and piecemeal. But at the same time, it covered issues that should've been dealt with ages ago. In that way, it was satisfying.
Almost all of the issues brewing in "Doctor Stranger" came to a head this episode. First was the relationship between Soo-hyeon and Jae-joon. He's been wrestling with what it means to be a doctor and how to deal with the delicate balance between being a doctor and exacting revenge. His character has been quite bipolar, but in this episode he was as he should've been: torn between guilt, his love for Soo-hyeon, and duty towards his parents. It was well-balanced and satisfying to see him dealing with his issues instead of blanketing them with anger...More
Stage and musical actors who become television and film actors generally fall into one of three categories. Either they act on screen as they do on stage, altogether too loudly and flamboyantly for the screen, or, they have a natural screen presence. There are also those who gradually transition from the first to the second with practice and experience.
Actor Cho Jung-seok is a stage and musical actor who has not only naturally transitioned onto the screen with ease, but has earned himself the title of "scene stealer"...More
This was a powerhouse episode. In fact, it was the best episode by far, both in execution and in content. It touched on the major issues of each character, moved the plot along, and packed some hard emotional punches.
Yoo Ae-yun, Assemblyman Yoo's daughter and the instigator of many troubles, is at the center of everything. She is the reason behind Yoo's villainy. He has committed crimes to cover up her, but at the same time, he has allowed the action of covering up to corrupt him...More
"You're Surrounded" has never really been a police procedural drama. Neither has it developed its cases very well. The police station setting and the cases have been a tool to highlight the characters on their journeys. And that is what it does exceptionally well.
The romance came to the forefront this episode...More
"Doctor Stranger" is on its last dregs as it heads into the final week of its run. There is a lot of action this episode, but it is anticlimactic as the build towards it has gone on far too long - it should've happened earlier.
Much of the fault in this story lies in the planning in that the trajectory changes from week to week and the story has no longevity...More
Although "Doctor Stranger"'s plot is more convoluted than ever, and the neverending, highly unethical medical competition shows no sign of ending, there was some decent character development that followed thee character's original trajectory. It was especially nice to see Hoon return to the man he was because it makes the writing more consistent and, let's face it, he's much more pleasant this way.
What made Hoon such a fascinating character in the beginning was his efforts to overcome the five years he was trapped in the North Korean medical facility performing atrocities on human lives...More
Kim Mi-kyung is an actress who does not need to raise her voice to be noticed. Because of this, she is among one of Korean drama's favored actresses to play mothers and high-powered individuals. She has a powerful screen presence, even in meeker roles. This is in part due to her long career in acting and the confidence that grows throughout the years, and is in part due to her voice.
Kim has acted on the silver screen (starting in 1993) and in the theater (starting in 1985), but the bulk of her work has been in drama (starting in 1999) ...More
It's a sad episode for the good guys of "You're Surrounded" because they lose to money, power, and an imperfect system. On the other hand, Dae-goo finally gets to kiss the girl he's been hankering after and the detective team's newest case gave him his reason.
Relationships develop further although the plot stagnates a bit...More
"You're Surrounded" is a character driven story that makes wonderful use of the plot to bring out the best, and the worst, of the characters on screen. It addresses the situations that bring people closer and highlights the beauty in human connection. It also shows how the darker aspects of human nature can snowball into something terrible.
While the plot of "You're Surrounded" is not the most inspired plot to grace the small screen, the way it is constructed gives clear motivations to all characters...More
"Doctor Stranger" is spinning on its wheels again, using the same plot tools over and over. It also relied heavily on a relatively ineffective love triangle this episode and distorted the characters even further. It seems that the characters exist as plot tools and are no longer entities of their own.
The crux of the problems in "Doctor Stranger" is the lack of consistency in all elements...More
"Doctor Stranger" has lost itself along the way. It began strongly. The plot had clear direction and the characters had paths to follow and things to learn. Now the show is having very serious mood swings that result in flip flopping character personalities, inconsistent plot development and an utter brutalization of morality and ethics.
While some characters will inevitably have little sense of morality and ethics, for an entire cast of characters (save one) to have no concept of what is right and wrong is barely believable and hardly relatable...More
Park Hae-jin is a serious actor who consistently practices and refines his art. He's been active on television since 2006 and has shown improvement throughout each project he has taken on. His breakout role was as the tragic villain Shin Myung-hoon in "East of Eden" after which the Chinese market took note of him and cast him in several dramas.
Since then, Park has received growing recognition within and outside of South Korea that is well-deserved...More
Idols who go into acting often have limited choices to begin with. Smaller roles, music-related roles and other less challenging ones. Ham Eun-jung has had a few drama and movie parts in the 9 years she has been working as an actress and having had the chance to act in different genres and roles, her skills have matured nicely due to that variety and consistency...More
"You're Surrounded" has a cohesiveness that is made up of its predictable elements and its wonderfully timed and portrayed character beats. Its plotline is nothing new, nor are the bad guys and their evil ways. But what makes this show unique is how it infuses its characters with humanity.
There is nothing black-and-white about this show despite the fact that the world in which the characters exist is very insular and the plot relies on coincidences...More
This episode is about realization and understanding, or the lack thereof. Secrets are out, but they are no easier to deal with. Unlike in the past, however, the characters no longer have to deal with the hardships on their own. They have to get used to friendship, but its a heartwarming journey.
When Dae-goo is severely injured by the man who killed his mother, he is hospitalized and in need of aid to perform daily functions...More
That was it?
After watching this episode, that's all I can say. After skirting the conspiracy for fourteen episodes, the expectations for its complexity and awesomeness were sizable. All of those expectations were deflated in under two minutes.
The biggest disappointment this episode was how the writing of the conspiracy reveal, the character development, and the plot stepping stones was erratic and sloppy...More
Alliances shift as the overwrought hospital competition (hopefully) comes to an end. Instead of focusing on the competition and hospital politics, the shows turns a querying eye towards the connection between Hoon's past and Jae-joon's past without serving up the reason as to why Hoon is so important to the "master" plan. What the "master" plan is has yet to be revealed. All the show has given us is that Hoon is important in saving the relationship between North and South Korea.
That is my biggest quibble with this show...More
There was only one episode this week due to Lee Seung-gi's eye injury, but it packed a punch. The darker characters were fleshed out and all separate pieces of the big mystery that tie the main characters together are starting to come together.
Pan-seok has discovered Dae-goo's identity and Cha Seung-won is brilliant as he shows the process of dealing with that discovery and the emotions that go along with it...More
This episode belonged to Han Jae-joon who has been barreling down his path of revenge, ignoring his conscience and the urgings of Soo-hyeon to do what is right. A case that is similar to his own past allows him to see that his single-minded revenge is turning him into Director Oh - a person who creates orphans and doesn't take responsibility for it. A person who considers the hospital's needs over a patient's needs.
It's been long in coming, but the influences of Hoon and Soo-hyeon and his own past have come together and pushed Jae-joon towards what he really wants to be: a good doctor...More
While I personally loved episode 11 of "Doctor Stranger", from a critical standpoint it reeked of inconsistency. What I loved was how cleverly the humor was use, the odd-couple bromance between Dr. Moon and Hoon, the slapstick antics. What puzzled me was the drastic change in tone this episode had compared to the last ten.
The focus of the episode was on the humor and the antics that stem from Hoon's devil-may-care attitude and Dr. Moon's negligible sense of morality...More
The truth is out and although it's couched in lies, Pan-seok and Soo-seon now know Dae-goo's identity. The reveal of the truth gives the three characters some lovely turning points and allows the actors to shine. In general, "You're Surrounded" has found it's stride in delivering the messages it sets out to send.
While situations that send these messages may not be tied up as realistically as they could be, they are still satisfying in their conclusions...More
"Doctor Stranger" delivers some answers amongst a whole set of new questions. It's delving deeper into the political conspiracies while the characters become more entrenched in their issues. Jae-joon's tragic past is highlighted and Park Hae-jin is a standout as he brings Jae-joon's tortured soul to life.
After Hoon wins the morally dubious surgical competition, the fallout of the losing wrecks havoc on several relationships...More
As "Doctor Stranger"'s tone grows more unsteady, the characters become more intriguing. Most of that can be attributed to the cast who is, as a whole, absolutely winning. The plot, however, continues to degrade into an utterly confusing mess. There are so many questions floating about that it's hard to keep track of them all. Plot complication is good, but only when there is an adequate amount of resolution.
There are so many deceptions and hard-to-follow alliances that the show is getting very confusing...More
The idol actor is a special breed of actor that receives a lot of attention because the transition from idol to actor is often difficult and rather ugly. This piece is going to focus on an idol who has successfully expanded her perfomance palette to include acting, Lee Ji-eun, more famously known as IU. What makes her notable is that she has grown immensely since her singing debut, and done the same with her acting.
IU debuted as a solo singer in 2008 at the age of 15...More
Chun Ho-jin is one of the most prolific actors in Korean film and drama. Last week Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings' reviewed his work in film, highlighting Cheon's versatility in role choice and in his acting. He's been working steadily in film since 1985 and in drama since 1988. This is a man whose talent is finessed by twenty-nine years of experience.
Unlike film roles, Korean drama roles usually have slimmer pickings for men of Cheon's age (53) ...More
"You're Surrounded" is now focusing on the idea that the rookies and their leaders are growing into an extended family. Within any family there is love, jealousy, fighting, misunderstanding, and secrets. Brothers fight, parents feel pride. Now that the detectives are one family, they have to suffer through growing pains.
Ji Gook gets his time to deal with his issues of inferiority, rendering his tight relationship with Tae-il tense and awkward...More
"You're Surrounded" has made a big effort to express a message in each episode. It focuses on how people grow in different stages of life after experiencing hardships. It's not really a drama about detectives catching murderers. It's about four young people growing into their under under a leader who still has a few things to learn himself.
Part of growing up is contending with the past and it's role in one's life...More
Questionable morality is the name of the game in this episode of "Doctor Stranger". The competition between the two surgical teams has always struck me as wrong, but it is this episode that highlights just how reprehensible it is. It also shows us that Hoon knows what it is to be a good doctor; it is innate in him. Unlike the others, he ignores politics, the competition and all of the red tape to do right by his patients. That makes him a lot of enemies.
Hoon's first new enemy is Jae-joon into whom we gained insight this episode...More
It's time for Park Hoon to take stock of his place in life. This episode forced him to consider his path forward and take a hard look at his past. Up until now, he's skirted issues concerning himself and focused on his search for Jae-hee. Other characters have agendas for Hoon to follow, but whether he chooses to follow is his decision. He's always been a wild card.
Hoon is so volatile because of how he grew up...More
"You're Surrounded" has found its balance between character growth and the case of the week. Almost every member of the detective unit has been fleshed out to some extent, the two major romantic involvements have begun, and a very hopeful message is passed on in each episode.
This show focuses on growth for the detective team as a unit...More
If I asked you to think of a typical Korean drama mother or mother in-law, you would probably imagine a screeching, nagging, broom-wielding, terrible perm sporting woman with an attitude that a teenage girl on her time of the month couldn't rival. If I asked you to think of an actress who embodied this stereotype, one of the first women you would think of would be Park Joon-geum.
Mrs. Park has played every kind of Korean drama mother imaginable, and a few aunts to boot...More
The detectives in "You're Surrounded" have begun to function as a team, rookies and seasoned pros alike. They are on a case that requires complete participation and dedication to solve the death of a seven-year-old boy. This case opens old wounds, pits detective against prosecutor, and changes the dynamics of the cast.
"You're Surrounded" gave insight into the reason Pan-seok and Sa-kyung divorced. They lost a young son and couldn't recover from the guilt and blame and severe pain of such a loss. I love that the issue wasn't petty, but something hefty and chock full of great writing material. The episode's missing child case is so similar to their loss that it brings badly buried emotions and memories to the fore...More
"Doctor Stranger" doesn't fancy giving answers, only questions. Park Hoon's presence at Myung Woo University Hospital is a mattern of concern for nearly everyone, good and bad. However, the ambiguity behind each person's reasoning is yet another mystery.
Jae-hee is the predominant mystery. She is clearly working with Jin-soo and "Doctor Stranger" is doing a great job of making her a very dubious character. She's oddly detached from everything as though she is running off of a spoon fed version of her life instead of her own memories. We viewers know her mostly through Hoon's eyes: a smiling, sweet, laughing woman who loved him as desperately as he loved her. She got shot for him...More
There is a lot about "Doctor Stranger" that requires the viewer to suspend reality and expectations. There is much more that speaks directly to the soul and makes it laugh, cry, and writhe with curiosity. The bulk of that speech is carried by the spot on performances of the cast and how the writing of each character makes them easy to relate to and understand.
Now that "Doctor Stranger" has settled around Myung Woo University Hospital and the main characters have had four e