[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 16 Final 2017/01/11,
And now, for a final tension-free conflict in "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo". Not that I'm complaining. There's a nice sense of constancy in how Bok-joo and Joon-hyeong can never get into a fight so serious it can actually really break them. Even at her most doubtful Bok-joo is more teasing of Joon-hyeong than she ever is genuinely mad at the guy. Besides, it's all for a good cause. Joon-hyeong's collusion with Bok-joo's dad and uncle was a nice way of getting the generally psychotic Chang-geol to accept Joon-hyeong without necessitating a serious personality clash,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 15 2017/01/05,
Jeong-yeon (played by Yoon Yoo-sun) is Joon-hyeong's absentee biological mother. We don't know why she abandoned Joon-hyeong, and we still don't really at the end of this episode. Jeong-yeon's meeting with Joon-hyeong is dominated by awkward albeit optimistic small talk with more concilatory undertones. The inevitable crisis comes when Joon-hyeong discovers the ulterior motive for Jeong-yeon's unannounced visit to Korea, which naturally had nothing to do with him,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 14 2017/01/04,
As far as secret relationships go Bok-joo and Joon-hyeong have better excuses than most. Athletes with pretensions of competing on the international level aren't supposed to dally around with romantic partners- their workout schedule is too intense. Of course in the immediate sense Bok-joo and Joon-hyeong only care about not having friends and family tease them. That's where most of the conflict and comedy come from this time around,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 13 2016/12/28,
Si-ho has finally achieved the difficult task of completing a character arc- no mean feat considering the poor girl's psychosis is largely a result of her not having any decent social interaction. Still, the humility does her good. At various times Si-ho has hated both Bok-joo and Joon-hyeong for their "betrayal", but ultimately she's just relieved to be alive and largely unhated. That Si-ho makes Bok-joo angrier by accident than she ever did on purpose provides a useful segue into the next conflict,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 12 2016/12/22,
As a strict continuation of the last episode this installment of "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" is fairly fun. Joon-hyeong makes good use of his cheat sheet to try and get closer to Bok-joo. Note how Bok-joo herself seems completely oblivious to all of this, having apparently managed to forget her own list in short order. Which does admittedly explain why she went to the trouble of writing it down in the first place. Poor Bok-joo. She's filled with cuteness, yet almost entirely lacking in common sense,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 11 2016/12/21,
Bok-joo's rebound ends up going a lot more cheerfully than I was expecting. Aside from the whole dream of being a champion weightlifter, Bok-joo has plenty of other ambitions in life, too. She's just never had the time for them, and mer mood perks up considerably upon having gotten the opportunity to try something new. Bok-joo's athletic ability is no less diminished either, since one such new interest involves putting her weightlifting skills to good practical use,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 10 2016/12/15,
Following an epic victory that should have been the high point of Bok-joo's life to date, instead she slips into an apparently hopeless funk. The exact cause of Bok-joo's state of depression is not so relevant as its apparently being insoluble . Even Joon-hyeong's normally peppey personality can't solve the problem, so this fairly downbeat episode of "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" ends the only way it can- with the drama having finally gained some clear and somewhat alarming conflicts,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 9 2016/12/14,
Bok-joo has humiliated herself for the last time. Well no, not really, that's just what it feels like because there is no humiliation in the world worse than being outed as a liar in front of the person you have a crush on. The weird part is that Jae-i is genuinely completely indifferent to Bok-joo's bizarre behavior. The terror on Bok-joo's face is just so telling- the poor girl simply can't grasp the idea that an attractive man could be impressed by the fact that she is an ace weightlifter,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 8 2016/12/08,
Bok-joo has made her peace with her stupid idea to get close to Jae-i by pretending to be a cello player. Yet Si-ho ends up being the one who provokes the situation further, in spite of the fact that she is obviously wrong. Even more blatantly, Bok-joo could easily wallop Si-ho in a fight, yet Si-ho continues to lash out. Once again I find myself pitying Si-ho more than I do hating her. If the sad young woman had any friends she might be a tad less psychotic,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 7 2016/12/07,
Bok-joo's comeuppance ends up being pretty harsh. But looking at this situation from the outside it's hard to be too angry at her authority figures. Bok-joo's childish dalliance with Jae-i's clinic is, to the people who support Bok-joo's dreams, a slap in the face. How can Bok-joo be so obviously passionate about being a world-class weightlifter, yet take part in a dieting program completely at odds with that goal?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 6 2016/12/01,
A brief sad look at Joon-hyeong's past gives us a good look at his personality- like the swimmer, always looking forward to the end of the race, doing his best to ignore distractions along the way. Si-ho likewise is the ideal rythmic gymnast, obsessed with perfection and kicking herself over every possible error, unwilling to tolerate the slightest setback. And Bok-joo...doesn't really have anything comparable actually. Weightlifters generally eat a lot, but Bok-joo spends most of this episode fighting against even that destiny,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 5 2016/11/30,
Bok-joo has been caught in a silly pointless lie. being a generally supercilious teenager, Bok-joo then does the natural thing, and simply tries to bury herself in ever more complicated layers of deceit so she can have those sweet, sweet moments of lovey-doveyness with Jae-i. While Jae-i is handsome, he's also surprisingly dumb. I like how Joon-hyeong figures out what's going on almost immediately because really, what other logical explanation can there be for Bok-joo's behavior?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 4 2016/11/24,
Now flush with cash Bok-joo begins her ill-advised plan to try and get Jae-i to like her by providing him with money. I'm just relieved we know that Jae-i is genuinely a nice guy who has no clue what Bok-joo's actual incomprehensible motives are. In a way it's sad watching Bok-joo make herself suffer so much for the sake of an obviously unrequited crush. And yet Bok-joo is so awash in comedic tension it never really feels like we're laughing at Bok-joo- just empathizing with how yes, we too have been that stupid at times in life,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 3 2016/11/23,
Jae-i (played by Lee Jae-yoon-I) is Joon-hyeong's handsomer and more accomplished elder brother, who works as a physical therapist. Bok-joo engages Jae-i in conversation by bringing up...an Argentenian soccer player. OK, OK, Bok-joo's an idiot, we already knew that. But Jae-i's reaction is what's most telling. While Lee Jae-yoon-I's main screen presence here is as a figment of Bok-joo's imagination, interestingly enough, the real Jae-i too is touched simply by the fact that someone asked him a personal question for once,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 2 2016/11/17,
While I certainly wasn't expecting "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" to get to the romance right away, I also wasn't expecting Joon-hyeong to sabotage his relationship with Bok-joo quite so spectacularly. His attempts to be cute and endearing fail miserably because Joon-hyeong somehow does not understand what words mean. What makes this even funnier is that initially there seems to be merit to Bok-joo's assumption that Joon-hyeong is a jerk but no, further exposition makes it clear that Joon-hyeong really is just that stupid,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Imaginary Cat" 2016/02/06,
Love for animals is an important element of human nature. When considering the fan base of Korean drama, it is also safe to say many love cute young guys. A drama combining the two is a very people pleasing one and would have to really work hard in order to fail at it. "Imaginary Cat" has some fun ideas and a good premise, but the rest is up to a viewer's tolerance of bad decisions,...More
[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Imaginary Cat" 2015/12/06,
When "Imaginary Cat" was announced, the idea behind it seemed pretty straightforward. There is a cute cat and there is a cute actor and they would be cute for audiences together for some episodes. This is not the kind of drama to really raise one's expectations over. It is therefore a surprise, a pleasant one, that the series has quite a bit more to it than simple fanservice,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 8 2015/11/25,
For the final episode of "Because It's the First Time", Tae-oh ruins everything. Well, he doesn't really. Part of the point of being twenty is that you can make big mistakes and it doesn't really make that much of a long-term difference, because there's always tomorrow. As the soundtrack constantly sunnily reminds us, every day is a new day. And besides, Tae-oh will always have his friends even if he almost managed to alienate half of them,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 7 2015/11/18,
In this episode's first segment (eighteen by the drama's internal counting mechanism) Tae-oh makes a concerted effort to push his romantic advantage with Se-hyeon. What makes Tae-oh's efforts so adorable and endearing is that he still lacks confidence. This is mainly because Tae-oh never sees the way that Se-hyeon smiles when he makes overtures. The expression on Se-hyeon's face as she meets Tae-oh's friends for the first time is priceless. It's obvious that for all her being a coy mistress, Se-hyeon really does enjoy spending time with Tae-oh,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 6 2015/11/11,
Tae-oh somehow manages to be both completely logical and completely illogical at the same time. First he spells out to Song-yi all sorts of rational reasons how she relies on him way too much considering this is a platonic friendship and they both have significant others now. Then Tae-oh immediately does the selfless noble thing again, for no good reason. No wonder Song-yi takes advantage of him all the time. Tae-oh practically begs her to,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 5 2015/11/04,
Song-yi continues to do what she does best- act as unattractive as possible. I can't help but find it rather amusing that Ji-an's attempts at depth and romantic impression are constantly foiled by, well, by the fact that Song-yi acts like a child. Because she is one. All the characters are because they're only twenty years old. I seem to mention this fact a lot but it's pretty hard to avoid because the mental age of the characters is in fact the main source of almost all the comedy in "Because It's the First Time",...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 4 2015/10/28,
Do you ever remember being twenty years old and having really stupid dreams? Like, a dream where you just do something in real life that comes off real poetic and cool and romantic, like a scene in a drama? All right, I'll admit it- I have dreams like that even today, although I'm old enough and cynical enough to know they're probably not ever going to happen. But then that's the beauty of "Because It's the First Time". Its characters are young enough to still be dumb enough to believe in these dreams. And then of course an unexpected curveball makes this dream unattainable,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 3 2015/10/21,
I can't decide whether "Because It's the First Time" actually wants its two leads characters to get together or not. With Tae-oh, Song-yi keeps alternating between being a jerk and being emotionally needy, all while insisting there's no mutual attraction. I've seen the whole "combative relationship is proof they should be together" countless times...in fiction. When I see it happen in real life usually they just genuinely dislike each other but don't have any better friends. Tae-oh and Song-yi look more like a real couple than a fictional one in that regard,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 2 2015/10/14,
The title cards for each episode of "Because It's the First Time" aren't really descriptive. They're more like punch lines that only make sense after the joke has been told. It's like a stand-up comedy routine where the comedian straight up tells you what the punchline of the joke is going to be, but it takes him so long to get to that point that by the punchline comes up you've forgotten that he told you the joke in advance, so it becomes funny again grabbing it from memory and realizing how the delivery of the joke was misleading,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 1 2015/10/07,
The structure of "Because It's the First Time" is, somewhat confusingly, much closer to that of a web drama that what we usually see even from cable TV dramas. This episode consists of three mostly self-contained segments, with the main running thread being the hideout and angst of Tae-oh (played by Minho), a young person who struggles with the fact that he is young and stupid. There's five friends, the main important one being Song-yi (played by Park So-dam), who acts as a love interest with her own personal angst issues,...More
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