Category Archives: K Stuff

Korean Entertainment things. Hallyu or Korean Wave: Korean pop culture. Dramas, music and movies.

Princess Hours/Goong Review – JiHoon & EunHye are Goals

Princess Hours (2006)

Hangeul: RR: Goong; lit. “Palace

I’ve been meaning to write this post for months now (since Mata first brought up me writing it), and haven’t done so due to my laziness. We’re going to be reviewing some old-school (ish) K-dramas because why not?

Now let’s get started, shall we? I’ll state it right now that this review will be hella biased, so deal with it.

Goong’s plot is pretty cliche, a forced marriage with the two main leads, the Crown Prince, Lee Shin (Ju Ji-hoon) and commoner, Shin Chae-kyung (Yoon Eun-hye). Immediately you know these two are going to end up together at the end of the show, because they’re END GAME. But just because they’ll obviously end up together, it doesn’t mean they won’t make us ship them with other people along the way or make us want to just kill the main leads, *cough cough* Lee Shin *cough*.

From the beginning of the show, Lee Shin is in love with ballerina Min Hyo-rin (Song Ji-hyo) and Shin Chae-kyung overhears him proposing to Hyo-rin, only to be rejected and now forced to enter a marriage with Chae-kyung (who he can’t really stand, and I still don’t fully get why).

Chae-kyung only agrees to help her family’s financial situation, because she’s a caring person. But does that matter to Lee Shin? Clearly not because 90% of the time, I wanted to punch him in the freaking face. Chae-kyung started to like him (duh -_-) as she spent more time with him, and he started to realise she wasn’t all that bad (HOORAY), but Hyo-rin in all her bitchy self realised she wanted Lee Shin back and weasels herself back into his life, despite having rejected him for ballet and ignoring the fact that he’s now married to someone else!?!?! And you know what else? She didn’t even care that she would be the side-chick. Like??? Freaking damn this all to hell.

Now, I didn’t have a problem with her rejecting him for ballet, because ‘YOU GO GIRL! I’m so proud that you thought about your life and career before a damn boy!’ but then she decides to drop everything(!!!! THIS MEANS HER BALLET, TOO LIKE REALLY?!) once she realises he’s not gonna sit around and hang on to her. And Lee Shin doesn’t exactly make up his mind on whether he should get back with Ballerina Bitch or be with Chae-kyung. I hella disapprove.

Chae-kyung doesn’t want to get caught up in all that, and I get that, because she only agreed to this marriage for her family and now, because of this marriage, she rarely gets to see them. Along with struggling to fit in at the palace, and liking a prick who’s giving her mixed signals along with continuously hanging with Ballerina Bitch, Chae-kyung relies a lot on her friend Lee Yul (Kim Jung-hoon) who was the original Crown Prince, before he was cast out. And yes, he’s the SLS (second lead syndrome).

Lee Yul, the person Chae-kyung should really be with, falls for her. And it’s hard not to, because if you ignore all her horrible hairstyles and outfit choices, she’s really beautiful and loving and disgustingly cute. And Chae-kyung would return his feelings, if she wasn’t falling for Lee Shin. And Lee Yul knows that, so he decides to cut in, much in the same way Ballerina Bitch does.

Really guys? Do y’all not know that this marriage was for TWO people? Y’all are so freaking extra. Bye.

This was really upsetting for me, because Lee Yul was such a great guy, y’know? But because he’s stuck wanting to be with Chae-kyung, he suddenly feels cheated out of a marriage that was originally set for him and her and tries to pry them apart. Again, I hella disapprove.

Lee Shin eventually realises how much he loves Chae-kyung, and how much he needs to stop being a prick, and how hard everything is for her. He steps in and acts more worthy for her which is something she’s been needing for a while because she was suffering due to of all of them, and the least he can do is finally be with her and love her the way she loves him.

AND IT ONLY TOOK BASICALLY HALF THE SERIES, AN EVIL MOM, TWO CHEATING SCANDALS, AND A TWIST ON THE “AM I YOUR BROTHER” CLICHE.

.-. side eyes the director and writer.

I got so attached to all the characters, and all the SLS feels destroyed me because Lee Yul was the complete opposite of Lee Shin, y’know? He was kind and caring, and he matched Chae-kyung so well, but the heart wants what it wants, and Chae-kyung wanted Lee Shin. If Lee Shin wasn’t in the picture, it would’ve been Lee Yul.

And Lee Shin is a real idiot, because he would take one step forward, only to go slamming backwards into an ocean of shit because he didn’t know how to make up his mind and be good. But when he finally ditched the bitch, and stepped up, I literally cried tears of joy, because fina-freaking-lly!!!

Goong was a really enjoyable kdrama, with all the feels and gross cutesy stuff, but be prepared for the terrible outfits and hairstyles, butt-faced friends and screaming because half way through it, I was just about ready to skin somebody. Lol jk, I’m not that psycho.

Another plus, was the kissing scenes because Yoon Eun-hye really knows how to kiss and she’s goals af and her chemistry with Ju Ji-hoon was lit!! They slay me.

AND I LOVE/HATED CHAE-KYUNG’S WEIRD GIANT LEE SHIN DOLL OMG IT’S KINDA CREEPY AND CRAZY AND JUST… I kinda want one.

And on that weird note, I’m out.

Korean Drama Takeover: Part II

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

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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.

Exhibit A:

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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

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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.

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Currently* Watching:

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

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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: RR: Gung; lit. “Palace

https://i0.wp.com/images6.fanpop.com/image/photos/34900000/Goong-korean-dramas-34947019-1280-720.jpg

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.)

The Korean Drama Takeover

WAE

In July I made the worst (best) discovery I could make, Korean Dramas are addictive. Aigoo, so addictive. I was dragged into the (not so) seedy underworld of KDrama to appease my sister and stop her nagging (for me to watch just one show with her), so the initial reluctance was strong in this one. However about 10 dramas later, with no end in sight, I can’t really call myself a ‘reluctant’ KDrama watcher anymore, can I? Sure the storylines can be utterly ridiculous and it takes a short while to become accustomed to some cultural aspects (and the subtitles), but before long you realise that the elements are rather formulaic and repetitive so you grasp them more easily- even if they’re so unbelievable you need to fortify the tree branch where you sit suspending your disbelief. They’re ridiculous and melodramatic (sometimes too melodramatic- hello makjang), with moments of pure poignancy often interspersed (thankfully) with heavy amounts of humour. Not to mention the copious amounts of eye-candy (lol SUFBB pun!). You’ll be thankful for the the fact that the shows are often contained within a single season, of about 13-20 episodes, that typically wraps up by the finale with plenty of closure.

Well, save for the occasional, yet extreme, Second Lead Syndrome (SLS) you’re left with. The music is another monster altogether in that I went into KDramas not much of a KPop listener but now have over 300 Korean songs on my iPod. Halp.

So let’s take a look at what I’ve (binge) watched so far over the past two or so months. If you’ve seen the shows I’m about to go in on, I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you think I’ve gone mad, follow me down the rabbit hole so that I can make my case. I’m just hoping that forming somewhat cohesive thoughts and writing them down will prove therapeutic and thus help me to work through this addiction. Because it’s affecting my TV-watching habits, big time.


  To The Beautiful You (2012)

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I’m slightly (read as really) embarrassed that this show was my introduction to Korean Drama. Based on a Japanese manga, Hana-Kimi, TTBY made me so angry. I mean, I just couldn’t get over the main female character’s motivation in life. Disguising yourself as a boy to get into an all-boys school in order to help your idol- who’s basically just got the yips after recovering from an injury- with no other aspirations is kind of saddening. I think SM (Kpop Idol Manufacturers? I’m still new to the entire operation lol) just decided to produce the drama, any drama, as a way of making more moolah off their assets, in this case Sulli of f(x) and Minho of SHINee.

While I understand that the character’s motivation in the manga is the same, surely they could have had the writers give Jae-hee (Sulli) another motivating factor to drive her. Give her a reason to want to wake up in the morning other than to be there to whisper-shout ‘FIGHTING!’ at Tae-joon (Minho). Also she was kind of a shitty friend to anyone who wasn’t Tae-joon. Cha Eun-gyul (the magnificent Lee Hyun-woo) deserved better, we all did. Eun-gyul may have been one of the more complex characters the show had to offer- tied with Min Hyeon-jae (Kang Ha-neul).

It could have just been Hyun-woo’s acting (he’s really amazing in Secretly, Greatly btw), especially in the second half of the show, however he was much more of a complex character than Jae-hee. Dude portrayed a guy super confused about his sexuality so well. Hell Tae-joon’s athletic rival Hyeon-jae (whose conflict stemmed from being a poor scholarship student battling self-esteem issues whilst trying to make it as a high-jumper in order to better his family’s quality of life) was more of a complex character than Jae-hee. Hyun-woo was a standout, for reals. Gah, the adorbs- the feels, the SLS.

So the fact that we had some gems in such a trainwreck of a show really ground my gears, like to the point that I was constantly ready to throw things ALL THE TIME. ALL THE DAMN TIME. I know what you’re thinking, ‘well sheesh if you hated it that much why’d you keep watching?’ I don’t know, I guess I hate-watched the whole thing. Fine, that’s not completely true; I liked a few characters’ shirtless scenes too much to abandon them and I wanted to see how it would end- which was lamely I might add.

16 (hour-long) Episodes in (approx) Five Days


Boys Over Flowers (2009)

And yet I started another show right after. Again I’m really embarrassed here, but let’s just blame it all on my sister. Now what should we say about Boys Over/Before Flowers? Firstly, it’s another Japanese manga (Hana Yori Dango) adaptation, although I suppose it was slightly better in terms of female character development. Slightly. Basic rundown, poor spunky girl attends super-exclusive high school for the rich on scholarship (for reasons) and has a run in with the big dawgs on campus who call themselves the F4. Fab 4? Fantastic 4? Flower 4? I can’t remember what the F stands for. Gu Jun-pyo (Lee Min-ho), Yoon Ji-hoo (Kim Hyun-joong), So Yi-jeong (Kim Bum), and Song Woo-bin (Kim Joon) are the top dogs of the school (because their families are the richest) and no one, not the teachers, other students, general members of the public, dare challenge them. No one, that is, except Jan-di, spunky poor girl (Ku Hye-sun). There’s so much cringe that goes on, but each actor commits to their role like nobody’s business. Them cardboard kisses tho’. While I found Jan-di refreshingly, especially following on from Jae-hee’s lacklustre existence, spirited at the start. I mean them high kicks and punches were ace.

But unfortunately she kind of started to dim a bit towards the end and MAN WHY DIDN’T ANYTHING BAD EVER HAPPEN TO THE DOUCHES OF THE BOF WORLD?! Catty chicks do shitty things and all that happens to them is angry glares from main characters, horrid parents continue on their horrid lives as horrid people with no repercussions because- why? WAE? But, as you’ll find with the four out of five Korean dramas you watch, it all manages to tie up nicely and happily come the final episode- well DURING the final episode. This drama did its best to bring the SLS, especially towards the end, but I’m thinking Jan-di really dodged that bullet.

25 (hour-sometimes longer-long) Episodes in (approx) Six Days. Made worth it by hilarious moments like this. Smooth, Gu Jun-pyo, so smooth.


 Personal Taste (2010)

Heh, hot off the heels of BoF I started this show about an uber-clean architect named Jeon Jin-ho (oh hey, Lee Min-ho!) who gets mistaken for a gay guy by down-on-her-luck Park Kae-in (Son Ye-jin). In order to win the favor of the Dam Art Center director, and win a moneymaking project bid, Jin-ho has to get the skinny about the art center director’s favorite building: Sanggojae, which has never even once been opened to the public. Coincidentally, the Sangojae is Kae-in’s home, Kae-in’s in search for a new roomie for reasons that should you should watch rather than read about (hint: whatever happened to sisters before misters?) and agrees (with much persuasion from her crack up bestie Lee Young-sun, played by Jo Eun-ji) to rent the room to Jin-ho.

Only because, after more than one scene of hilarioussss misunderstandings, they’re both under the impression that he’s gay. As it’s the only way he can study the house, and because his own friend basically pushes him into it, Jin-ho goes with it. Hilarity, and way too much heartache for a show that was meant to be nothing but lulz, ensues.

16 (hour-long) Episodes in (approx) Four Days. Also Kae-in laying down some realness:


 City Hunter (2011)

Let’s say I went on a bit of a Lee Min Ho-binge, also- City Hunter was awesome. A revenge story to the very end with many twists, turns and dramatic reveals along the way. Intense, action-packed (man do I love fighting scenes) and funny with enough cliff hangers and near misses to guarantee at least one heart attack an episode. Until you’re almost at the end you’re constantly thinking ‘what kind of logic?!’ in regards to Lee Yoon-sung’s (Lee Min Ho) adoptive father, Lee Jin-pyo (Kim Sang-joong). I get it man, you were wronged by your own government but your methods… we need to talk about your methods. That’s where Yoon-sung comes in, raised by Jin-pyo to take revenge on the government officials that killed Jin-pyo’s bestie (Yoon-sung’s bio-dad). But they seem to disagree, naturally, on their methods of revenge-scheme execution.

The show runs the risk of becoming too convoluted but it’s saved by a great cast with good chemistry- and awesome fight scenes. I can’t stress enough how much action sequences, well-executed action sequences, make me happy. Even if I’m on the edge of my seat fearing for my bbs lives. Including secondary characters like, Kim Young-joo (Lee Joon-hyuk) our long-legged ahjussi prosecutor who brought the SLS and broke our hearts in the process and the hilarious mother-hen-like Bae Man-duk/Bae Shik-joong (played by Kim Sang-ho).

Also how awesome is Kim Na-na, played by Park Min-young? Not only is she independent, with her own motivations and aspirations in life, she kicks butt on the reg. Holy agency, batman! I mean she’s working extra jobs to pay for her dad’s hospital bills, which isn’t really allowed when you’re a bodyguard at the Blue House and this causes problems for her in the course of the drama but she works through them on her own- mostly. You’ll find that three out of five kdrama main female protagonists are dirt poor.

20 (hour-long) Episodes in (approx) Four Days…worth it. Even if the ending was a tad lukewarm.


Secret Garden (2010)

This fantasy drama was suggested by a friend who said I’d love it and she was right. (Sidenote I used to mock/become irritated with when she couldn’t discuss mutual shows due to watching KDrama, in hindsight I was harsh and I take it all back. Because I understand now. Oh how I understand now.) Secret Garden revolved around a badass stunt-woman Gil Ra-im (the brilliant Ha Ji-won) who has the misfortune of crossing paths and making an impression on the arrogant uptight CEO Kim Joo-won (Hyun Bin). Bing bang bosh and somehow Ra-im finds herself in Ji-won’s body and vice versa, we know how they got that way (although we don’t know the whys) but they don’t and their body-swap scenes breeds all kinds of hilariousness. However that doesn’t mean this drama didn’t throw some absolutely heart-wrenching moments at us, like WAE? At many points you’re left wondering whether the universe could BE more mean? Which is a mistake because the universe responds with a resounding ‘yes’.

The leads have some excellent chemistry, and the supporting cast were just as awesome. Sure at times you wanted Ra-im to properly maim Joo-won, like actually- him and his super annoying mother. Ugh chaebol families. There were some problematic moments of seemingly unwanted skinship that had you questioning why you were shipping it ever-so-slightly, just because you weren’t sure how the show was handling a person’s right to certain boundaries. Oh and some explanations were rather wishy-washy, hinging a lot on fate and whimsical fantasy and whatnot. However Hyun Bin and Ha Ji-won’s acting soon made you forget the troublesome scenes and focus on the funny. Because Hyun Bin’s portrayal of Gil Ra-im stuck in his body was so awesome to watch, and Ha Ji-won’s mastery of Joo-won’s facial expressions were epic.

20 (hour-long) Episodes in (approx) Four Days because there’s no such thing as moderation.

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 The 1st Shop Coffee Prince (2007)

You wanna talk about chemistry? Let’s talk about Yoon Eun-hye and Gong Yoo’s chemistry in Coffee Prince. Because daaaaamn. Go Eun-chan (Eun-hye) is often mistaken for a boy- owing to her androgynous looks and boyish behaviour. She’s basically the head of her family because her dad passed away, her mum’s a bit shit with money and her little sister is well, her little sister. After (a few) run-ins with an immature but attractive rich guy- Choi Han-kyul (Yoo) who mistakes her for a boy and asks her to pretend to be his boyfriend to get out of the blind dates his grandmother keeps setting him up on. Han-kyul’s grandmother makes him manage a coffee shop, Eun-chan continues lets Han-hyul think she’s a guy so she can work there- the shop’s concept is ‘princes’. Of course they start to have proper love-like feelings for each other, and Gong Yoo plays an incredibly compelling man confused about his feelings for someone he thinks is a guy- when he’s pretty sure he’s not gay.

The fleshed out characters really make this show so addicting and the writing meant the story never waned and can I just say it was nice not to hate a single parental figure? Because up until now there have been nothing but evil chaebol relatives who seemed to have but one dimension. However we have here an irritating at times but well-meaning mum, and a stern matriarch who doesn’t immediately hate our female lead obstinately- granted she doesn’t know Eun-chan’s a girl at first.

17 (hour-long) Episodes in Four Days.


 Shut Up Flower Boy Band (2012)

The feels were strong in this one. Don’t let the name fool you, sure there were pretty flower boys but they were so much more than that, this show was so much more than that. Much like its main characters, the show was rather gritty and unrelenting with solid acting, writing and directing. I could watch this band of misfits forming their own family all day. The drama revolved around them as a group however allowed us to see them develop as individuals- with the core relationship of the band-members shoving romance to the side a bit. Which was actually rather refreshing. The show handled their characters well, although there was a touch of noble idiocy-syndrome towards the end, it wasn’t to the extent that made you want to scratch the inside of your eyes out.

Lee Min-ki’s cameo was all shades of amazing, I wish we could have gotten more but that’s pure selfishness on my part because the show really was great the way it was. Even if it meant a whole lot of anguish early on in the drama for our boys. Roll-call? We had Singer/guitarist, Ji Hyuk (Sung Joon) living on his own (because his blood-relatives were dicks) and is, after we bid farewell to Byung-hee (Lee Min-ki), the one holding it down for the team. Guitarist Hyun Soo (L) has an initially icy demeanour and temper but is loyal to a fault and the way he looked after his sister was so cute. Do II (Lee Hyun Jae), the silent seemingly easy-going drummer who doesn’t say much- quietly observing. Ha Jin (Yoo Min Kyu), the skux playboy and bassist, and Kyung Jun (Kim Min Suk), kitten and keyboardist, have the best friendship- it’s better shown than described.

The female characters were also well-written and developed, Im Soo-Ah (Jo Bo-ah) goes through her own problems and comes out a stronger person as a result. At the start you’re not sure what to make of her as she’s seen through the adoring eyes of Byung-hee. However as the show progresses you find that she’s more complex than you initially give her credit for as she picks up odd jobs and carries on with life without much complaint despite the crap the universe hands her- while not being a complete doormat. Although Bang Woo-kyung (Kim Jung-min) did get on my nerves a lot, you had to admire her loyalty- even if it felt like she really didn’t know how to take a hint. Everyone loves an underdog story and that’s what SUFBB gave us, in droves. Our pretty punk-rock flower boys were likeable, even when they were being stupid (they were teenaged boys), and it just made you root for them even more.

16 (hour-long) Episodes (of Bromance) in Four Days.


My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho (2010)

Up until now I’d been marathoning one show at a time, however it was at this point that I started watching multiple shows at once (My GF Is a Gumiho & Reply 1997). Bad enough that I was binge-watching Kdramas and completely ignoring everything else (family, friends, other TV shows …life in general) in the process, but suddenly I wasn’t even content to marathon just one at a time. MGIAG was, I was told, required kdrama watching for any newbie drama watcher. The show is all parts adorable and hilarious with occasional sad-making moments. Cha Dae-woong (Lee Seung-gi), is an aspiring actor who accidentally releases a none-tailed fox spirit/gumiho, played by Shin Min-ah, from a painting she was trapped in for 500 years. She saves his life by putting her fox bead in him, and she follows him back to where he’s staying. Even though he’s initially scared shitless when he realises she’s not kidding about being a gumiho and is an asshat, he starts to develop feelings for her. Although it took him long enough to stop being a little gutless butt for a bit- honestly the amount of times I wanted to shake him. Mi-ho, as she comes to be known, is so adorbs.

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Her childlike wonder at the world is so endearing, there wasn’t a moment where she annoyed me- well save for a touch of noble idiocy she displays. No Min-woo’s Park Dong-joo brought the SLS early on in the drama, however once Dae-woong started acting like a person and not like a little batch you realise you shipped the endgame so much it hurts. My only problem with this show was how angsty it got towards the end- I was left wondering where my light-hearted adorable fantasy romcom went and when was it replaced by TEARS.

16 (hour-long) Episodes in Three Days. HOI HOI.


Reply/Answer Me 1997 (2012)

Where do I even begin? This drama was just so awesome, from all the 90s nostalgia it gave me (yes, a lot of it was specific to South Korea but 90s nostalgia is still 90s nostalgia) to the well-developed characters and situations that had me laughing out loud. Reply 1997 followed the lives of a group of friends in Busan, as the timeline moves back and forth between their past as 18-year-old high schoolers in 1997 and their present as 33-year-olds at their high school reunion dinner in 2012, where one couple will announce that they’re getting married. You’ll find yourself caring about each character as much as the next, even the side ones. Sung Shi-won (Jung Eun-ji) is a crazy fangirl of the boyband H.O.T who’s all shades of sassy and hilarious (her relationship with her parents, especially her dad, is honestly soooo crack up) and Yoon Yoon-jae (Seo In-guk) is her oldest friend- the boy next door who’s the top of the class and in love with her. Man I shipped them so much, the chemistry was insane, too. However the rest of main characters were just as awesome.

Kang Joon-hee (Hoya) Yoon-jae’s best friend, who’s the kindest most adorable character, second only to Mo Yoo-jung (Shin So-yul) Shi-won’s best friend. Do Hak-chan (Eun Ji-won) is that new kid who’s transferred from Seoul- the guys all think he’s the man due to his sporting skill, Seoul accent and large porn collection, but it’s hilarious that Hak-chan can’t talk to actual girls. Then there’s that friend of the group, Bang Sung-jae (Lee Si-eon) who talks more than a scolding ahjumma. Shi-won’s parents, especially her dad, were so brilliant. So much laughter was had because of Shi-won’s interactions with her dad.

Her haircut-punishment was SO Samoan btw, my mum threatened to cut my hair like that all the time when I was growing up. This drama made me laugh so much, not even kidding. The comedic timing (I don’t even want to know what was up with the goat/sheep sounds) was on point. However this doesn’t mean it didn’t bring the feels because holy-crap did it get so intense at times. When it brought the feels it really piled it up onto your plate and slapped you in the face with it.

Yoon-jae’s relationship with his hyung, Yoon Tae-woong (Song Jong-ho) was also well-written, if complicated because of that pesky triangle thing they just had to do. But this show offered some great pearls of wisdom while granting us access to complex, realistic and likeable characters. It was kind of difficult to watch something else afterwards, and I especially didn’t want to watch the 2013 follow up Reply/Answer Me 1994 for fear of it not living up to Reply 1997. Might give Reply 1994 a go somewhere down the line, however. I’m all about giving things chances. Although if it drags out the ‘who’s she with’ storyline longer than Reply 1997 did- I’ll be annoyed. Like kick-someone in the face, annoyed.

14 (Half-hour) Episodes and 2 (hour-long) in One Day- so SO worth it. If not for the the awesome storyline, lovable characters and well-developed story than for the fact that we’ve all been that crazy fangirl/boy at some point in our lives. Also, the mortification in the following scene gave me such life.


 You’re All Surrounded (2014)

Ragtag team of rookie cops (all the bromance, budding romance, hilarious hijinks times) in Gangnam with a gruff team-leader and some revenge-plot/seedy tragic backstories thrown in for good measure? Count us in! Also Lee Seung-gi (My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho) as a broody rookie, Eun Dae-gu, with a chip on his shoulder? Awwww yeah. This cast made me so happy, they worked so well together- even if the writing wasn’t that great. The story got bogged down by the most annoying villain ever and the never-ending storyline behind getting to them but it also gave us some complex characters that gave me such feels. Chief Kang (Seo Yi-sook) for example, deeply flawed but only trying to reach a noble goal to the end. Initially brusque, Seo Pan-seok (Cha Seung-won) and the nicer Lee Eung-do (Sung Ji-roo) made just the best surrogate cop parents for our rookies. And our rookies, lmao Soo-sun (Go Ara) applied seven times before being accepted into the police academy and is the only female in the new recruits, Tae-il (Ahn Jae-hyun) is super skux- according to my nephew- and Ji Gook (Park Jung-min) the geeky, talkative one who joined because he wanted to live in Gangnam? Hahaha. And of course the prickly Dae-gu who joins the force to try to get justice for what happened to his mum.

Unfortunately my nephew developed a liking for this one (said it had a Brooklyn Nine Nine feel to it) and so it took a bit longer to watch. Heeeh, we managed to rope a nephew into our KDrama ring- not a ring if it’s just two people and it’s still not one with just three YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. Fun fact, my nephew’s second favourite Korean actor is Lee Seung-gi, with his first being Lee Jong-suk (I Hear Your Voice) who he thinks is ‘skux’ after watching Young Hot Bloods, according to my nephew he’s going to be like Jong-suk’s YHB character and get all the girls.

20 (Hour-long) Episodes in Two Weeks (it was actually rather excruciating having to exercise restraint). *Slow-mo walks out*


The King 2 Hearts (2012)

Lee Seung-gi again, heh. But also Ha Ji-won (Gil Ra-im from Secret Garden!) too! Set in an alt reality where modern-day South Korea is governed by a constitutional monarchy Lee Jae-ha (Seung-gi) is a crown prince (later king) who doesn’t care about politics or being the second in line to the throne. Lee Jae-kang (Lee Sung-min), the current king, tricks him into joining a joint military collaboration with North Korea as a means to help “make him grow up.” Can I say their relationship was my favourite? Because honestly so cute. At the joint military raining Jae-ha meets Kim Hang-ah (Ji-won), a North Korean Special Forces Officer who is SO AWESOME. She was strong but also a girl in that she doesn’t allow the fact that she’s this super soldier stop her from getting what she wants or liking girly things (omg her fangirling over Hyun Bin’s billboard was the best).

Jae-ha’s character was slightly reminiscent of Dae Woong from My Girlfriend is a Gumiho especially at the start- although he was much more snarky. Our mains are initially antagonistic towards each other, but Jae-ha unwittingly sparks a friendship with Hang-ah and he subsequently falls in love with her. What I liked about this show wasn’t the melodrama and romance, of which there was plenty- or the over the top baddie who I wished would walk off a cliff- but the way Jae-ha’s growth was portrayed. He developed from reluctant royal to responsible king but not without a fair share of mistakes. A testament to Seung-gi’s acting. Also, the second leads (most of the secondary characters really) were amazing and I loved not having to worry about SLS- for the most part. But dear lord the angst was strong in this one, and the tears. How I loved Jo Jung-suk as Eun Shi-kyung, his bromance with Jae-ha gave me life…so you can understand how torn up I was about that ending. But if we, the fans, were so heartbroken over it imagine how Princess Lee Jae-shin felt, Lee Yoon-ji was excellent in the role.

20 (Hours-Long) Episodes in Two Weeks…in which I almost stopped watching because the actors they used for non-Korean roles were so cringey, and not in a haha funny way but in a I CAN’T WATCH ANYMORE I WANT TO HURL MY COFFEE AT THE SCREEN SO BAD SO BAD. Yeah… I can’t say it’ll be one to rewatch for this reason alone. So thank goodness for fanvids.

Currently Watching:

High School King of Savvy/Conduct (2014)

Initially started because Seo In-guk from Reply 1997 is the lead, but I love his family unit and I’m starting to warm up to the main female character.


You From Another Star (2013)

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Loving it so far. Loving it a LOT. I saw The Thieves and thought there needed to be more Yenicall (Jeon Ji-hyun) and Zampano (Kim Soo-hyun) and this show is just everything, okay? Sawrry.


You’re Beautiful (2009)

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Frustrating but hilarious. Ugh so frustrating. Already the SLS is pulling at my heartstrings (which is why I’m going to find and watch Heartstrings after this) not that I don’t like the lead because his bitchface game is strong.


I Hear Your Voice (2013)

I’ve only seen the first ep so far but you know I’m hooked. Also Oska and Tae-sun reunion? Heh my sister shipped them in Secret Garden so much.


So that’s it, that’s my rambling about Kdrama done! Unless you want more, maybe on a less uhm grand scale because whoa this was a lot to get out. Also, I’m not sure how much this helped my addiction. Because if anything I want to consume more kdrama to see just how many characters in kdramaland are lacking in peripheral vision.