Here we go again! I’m trying to get this post out before I finish another one and have to add it to the completed list (I failed- so badly, but let’s do this anyway). I’m thinking of switching up the format of reviewing from (raving madly about) a few dramas at once to one completed drama at a time, because the sheer scale of that initial post was exhausting. Also, even though there are only four* completed drama rants (with one being an extremely short drama-toon) and five miniscule reaction blurbs under ‘currently watching’, the following post feels too long. However without further ado I’m going to get right into ’em.
If you haven’t read Part I it’s HERE.
*This is also no longer true, but for the sake of length let’s pretend it is.
My Love From Another/You From Another Star (2013)
Hangeul: 별에서 온 그대 RR: Byeoreseo on geudae
What to say, what to saaaaay?
You From Another Star/My Love From Another Star/My Love From the Stars (you can pick and choose which name to call it by, I’m done) was everything, so ridiculously popular that ABC’s adapting it for US audiences (well sorta). MLFTS brought the laughs, squees and tears and all the OTP feels you could fit into 21 episodes. The show’s about an alien Do Min-joon (Kim Soo-hyun) stranded on earth for 400 years, and a hilariously obnoxious Hallyu star Cheon Song-yi (Jeon Ji-hyun) he meets and falls for, just as he gets the chance to go home. While not an entirely original concept (Roswell, anyone? Or ANY alien-human combo, because I’m blanking right now) the drama is a refreshingly humourous exploration of human nature and how it could appear to someone who considers him/herself an outsider. Not that it didn’t have any faults, because it did. But more on that later.
Let’s talk characters and their wonderful portrayers (so a word, especially now that I’ve deemed it so) because Jeon Ji-hyun as Cheon Song-yi and Kim Soo-hyun as Do Min-joon are excellent leads, both infusing their characters with the right amount of heart and humour. Cheon Song-yi is equal parts hilarious and crazy while Do Min-joon starts off as a mysterious blank slate (with wonderful broody shower scenes that are equal parts nosebleed inducing and confusing…because what’s with the towel, dude?) before coming alive as his personality is slowly revealed in all its somewhat petty glory. Individually they’re awesome, but together they’re magical- my only gripe is that Soo-hyun’s Min-joon seemed to take turtle steps and never truly felt fleshed out. Not the fault of Kim Soo-hyun, whose crying skills were ON POINT, it was mostly due to weak characterisation in the writing I expect. And seriously with the noble idiocy, for an intelligent higher lifeform who’s been on Earth for a good few hundred years, he didn’t seem to know how to make his time (with Song-yi) count because he wasted a whole freakin’ lot of it. That’s why Cheon Song-yi was brilliant because she wasn’t about denying herself what she wanted when she wanted it. She took it- or tried to. And I liked how even though shit was going rough for her she was able to make the best of it. She moped when things were unbearable, but otherwise she knew when to suck it up and just do what needed doing. She wasn’t a perfect character, she could be so so petty and, well, human. But a flawless* human at that.
I like how the show maintained the humour from the beginning right to the end while managing to stir up moments of pure poignancy that ripped your heart to shreds if you gave it the chance. Admittedly there were a few plot-holes and inconsistencies that could niggle at you, but when you look at the drama as a whole you’ll find that you’re willing to let these slide because it was damn well entertaining.
Still that ending, I can’t say I bought it. No, no I did not. Because what the actual?
It’s Okay That’s Love (2014)
Hangeul: 괜찮아, 사랑이야 RR: Gwaenchanha, Saranghiya
This was… unexpected. I didn’t think I would like It’s Okay, That’s Love as much as I did. The premise was intriguing, its cast had chemistry and most importantly the show had character. How exactly do I give a run down about what this show was about without spoiling it? Jang Jae-yeol (Jo In-sung) write’s bestselling mystery novels and is a radio DJ, with a bit of OCD, Ji Hae-soo (Gong Hyo-jin) is a psychiatrist who seems to suffer from genophobia- there’s a meetcute at some point but not before Jae-yeol gets stabbed with a fork by his older brother Jang Jae-beom (Yang Ik-june). Do Kyung-soo (EXO’s D.O) does an excellent job as an adorable high schooler/aspiring writer/Jae-yeol fanboy Han Kang-woo. Perhaps one of my favourite character pairings were Hae-soo’s housemates- her senior colleague Jo Dong-min (played brilliantly by Sung Dong-il and Park Soo-kwang (giraffe, Lee Kwang-soo) a cafe waiter with Tourette Syndrome- because their interactions were all sorts of hilariousness and almost paternal on Dong-min’s part. Hilarious and heartwarming all at the same. This drama sure knew how to throw a few curve balls at you, while it was technically a medical drama, the way it addressed mental health and illnesses, sex, family and relationship issues meant that you never felt you were watching the Korean equivalent of ER or Greys Anatomy. Jae-yeol and Hae-soo’s relationship is a lot of push and pull, for many reasons, but nevertheless entertaining to watch. But that’s okay… (I’m going to do it and you’re going to hate me but not as much as I hate myself) that’s love.
Uh, if you haven’t watched the show skip to the next drama on the list because I’m going to talk SPOILERS now.
How did we not know that D.O was Voldemort? Omg, right? Just catching the stragglers, if you don’t care about spoilers then go right ahead and keep reading but just know that it’s not my fault if you get spoiled anyway- this drama did after all end last year.
Anyone else joke that Kang-woo wasn’t real but still feel punched in the gut when it turned out he actually was Jae-yeol’s hallucination? It was more than the fact that not all was right with our main character, but the fact that we felt betrayed by the show for making us doubt ourselves when the hints first started dropping. However the show didn’t just stop at Kang-woo but the entire Jang family and their upsetting back-story. Because each member of that family had their own demons to contend with and it was heartbreaking to behold. There were moments where you even doubted Jae-yeol’s innocence, both in the present and then in the past but you understand- his guilt over what happened with his brother which then informed his actions towards him. And also Jae-beom’s reactions to the real reason he spent 11 long years in jails (for a crime he actually didn’t commit) and how he wasn’t given the chance to make it his own choice to do so- which he would have, for the same reason Jae-yeol did what he did as a kid…to protect his mother.
High School King of Savvy/Conduct (2014)
Hangeul: 고교처세왕 RR: Gogyocheosewang
Noona noona noona!
I’m not gonna lie, I started this drama because of Seo In-guk.
Also it had an interesting high jinx-like premise where In-guk plays a high school hockey player Lee Min-seok -that looks almost identical to his hyung (older brother) Lee Hyun-seok- who asks Min-seok to do him a solid and work in his place as Comfo’s new hotshot company director from Germany. Hyun-seok impersonates his brother, double life hilarity ensues. It took me long enough to get through this one, it got chucked onto the back-burner because the main female lead, Jung Soo-young played by Lee Ha-na, got on my nerves SO MUCH to begin with. So SO much.
She wasn’t awkward in the way that Kae-in was in Personal Taste, Soo-young’s awkwardness felt rather forced at times and I wasn’t sure if it was the writing and direction or Ha-na’s acting. Despite this I liked the characters and cast (hellooooo Lee Soo Hyuk, someone tell me how to sign up for that girl’s job in Exhibit A?) quite a bit, Min-seok’s adoptive father and grandfather were just the most adorable family unit one could ask for. His friends were ridiculous but hilarious and his workmates were quirky if slightly eye-rolling inducing. Although the most eye-rolling inducing moments were mostly related to Soo-young’s little sister who was obsessed with Min-seok, I don’t know that I can ever be on board with borderline stalker attempts to attain someone’s affection. However I did think her relationship with Min-seok’s friends was cute, and they genuinely did care for her- if reluctantly. Speaking of caring relationships I can’t get enough of Min-seok’s family, I’m not talking about his estranged hyung whose thirst for revenge seemed more important to him than his family- and those that cared for him- but his adoptive father and grandfather. Jokes, I can’t think about them without feeling sad- for spoilery reasons so let’s take a look at Exhibit A for cheering up.
I got an extreme case of SLS during this drama, however it sort of stopped cold during one particular scene involving a forced kiss (for which he fully deserved the slap he got). Honestly, while I wasn’t convinced of the main couples’ compatibility/chemistry I couldn’t allow myself to ship Soo-young with Jin-woo no matter who much they ‘redeemed’ his character/revealed his tragic past and dysfunctional family life in an attempt to humanise him. Because although I shipped them from the start, the only reason he seemed to like her towards to the end was because Min-seok did and turning her affection into some sort of trophy to be awarded to the winner of some pissing contest is just… no no. I did love the reluctant bromance that sort of developed between Lee Soo-hyuk’s Yoo Jin-woo and Hyun-seok-impersonating Min-seok. BrOTP.
After School: Bokbulbok/Lucky or Not (2013)
Hangeul: 방과 후 복불복 RR: Banggwa Hoo Bokboolbok
Discovered and watched this drama-toon, After School Lucky or Not, in one sitting, with episode run-times of 13 minutes it’s a ridiculously easy thing to do. The main cast consisted of idol group 5urprise who debuted as actors through After School, to expand into singing later on.
Side note this show made me break my ‘no Variety shows’ rule and watch Roommate because Seo Kang-joon.
I had no idea what to expect when I came across this, it initially made me think of Ouran High School Host Club (the anime, just because of the over the top toon aspects and the numerous pretty dudes) but came into its own within the first episode. It was hilarious, over-the-top goodness. Also, Kim So-Eun’s character is every bit as wack as the boys once you scratch the surface of her demure outcast personality unwillingly dragged into the boys’ Pick a Mission club.
Master’s Sun (2013)
Hanguel: 주군의 태양 RR: Jugun-ui Taeyang
Because after It’s Okay That’s Love I needed some more Gong Hyo-jin and Master’s Sun kept being recommended so I gave in and started it. Also, there was the added bonus of Seo In-guk! But damn I now need more So Ji-sub. Furthermore, do you know how much I loved the movie Spellbound/Chilling Romance, the 2011 Korean film with Lee Min-ki and Son-ye-jin? So much so that I dedicated precious time to making a fanvid– lol okay I had a bout of insomnia and used the time oh so wisely. I digress, I’m loving TMS so far. We’re back to the poor girl and douche chaebol combo, so yay? Okay that’s my least favourite aspect of the show, but the leads are excellent. *Waves hand in front of face* “꺼져!” Just kidding, I love you, stay… *breaks out into song* I WANT YOU TO STAAAAYYYYYY.
*Okay so I finished this one months ago, but it can be my first solo drama review.
You’re Beautiful (2009)
Hangeul: 미남이시네요 RR: Minamisineyo
Still frustrating, still hilarious and the SLS (Jung Yong-hwa’s Kang Shin-woo is perfect damn it) is practically yanking at my heartstrings now. Oh for crying out loud how is Tae-kyung’s bitchface game so strong? However I must now add that Go Mi-nam (Park Shin-hye) is pretty stupid, isn’t she?
I Hear Your Voice (2013)
Hangeul: 너의 목소리가 들려 RR: Neoui Moksoriga Deulryeo
Can you read myyyy mind. Lee Jong-suk, the high-school senior Park Soo-ha who can read minds (no, not bulimic- Zoolander joke there heh..sorry I’ll stop), and Lee Bo-young (apathetic public defender with a lot of growing up still to do) have some great chemistry. A noona romance drama I can totally get behind. Also, the villain in this one- I mean damn.
(Finished this one months ago, too.)
The Innocent Man (2012)
Hangeul: 세상 어디에도 없는 착한 남자 RR: Sesang Eodiedo Eobneun Chakan Namja
Basically Song Joong-ki plays Kang Ma-ru a guy who makes a stupid decision for his (at the time) love (Han Jae-hee played by Park Si-yeon) and goes to jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Moon Chae-won plays my favourite character, so far, Seo Eun-gi the daughter of the man Jae-hee married not long after Ma-ru went to jail- yep she’s only 5 years older than Eun-gi but you know- money. Honestly these characters have you second guessing their every move and motive but it’s great fun nonetheless.
Princess Hours (2006)
Hangeul: 궁 RR: Gung; lit. “Palace“
Sigh. So before I could finish this post I also started watching Goong (based on a manhwa, Korean comic) because, Yoon Eun-hye (Coffee Prince!) who plays Shin Chae-kyung a ‘commoner’ betrothed to the Crown Prince, Lee Shin -played by Ju Ji-hoon- (in this alternate 21st-Century Korea which has sustained its monarchy and imperial family). Liking it so much that it took two or so days to watch about 15 episodes. I just… I don’t have anything to say in my defense.
(This one is also finished, and Motu is poised to rant at you about it. She’s given each character a codename, guess who ‘Ballerina Bitch’ is.)
List of others dramas that I’ve started but couldn’t be bothered writing blurbs for: Heartstrings, *Wild Romance, *Rooftop Prince, Sungkwunkwan Scandal, School 2013, Flower Boy Next Door.
(*Bold means I’ve also finished that drama since starting this post- don’t judge me too harshly.)