Friday, March 27, 2015

First Impressions: Angry Mom

Genre: Drama, School, Family
Episodes: 16
Broadcast Network: MBC
Air time: Wednesday/Thursday

Main Cast:
Kim Hee Sun as Jo Kang Ja
Ji Hyun Woo as Park No Ah
Kim Yoo Jung as Oh Ah Ran

Oh Ah Ran is a high-schooler who sticks up for her bullied friend and becomes the victim of bullying herself. Jo Kang Ja is her mom, a former Busan bad-ass who got pregnant in her teens and raised her daughter as a single mom. When Mom hears about the bullying that's going on in her daughter's school, she takes matters into her own hands and goes undercover as a high school student to fix the problem. 

I have quickly fallen in love with this drama. Despite what the first trailer may imply this show is definitely not a comedy. I was actually really surprised when I watched the first episode by how serious the show actually was. It is another very deceiving trailer. I guess you can get from the synopsis that the shows major conflict is going to be bullying and how big of a problem it is within the school systems in South Korea. And I guess from that I should have known it was going to be serious, but I just wasn't prepared for this show. But I am glad that this show is choosing to go down a darker road because this is a very serious subject that they obviously want to shed light on.  

One thing I love about the show is the relationships it illustrates, particularly the one between Kang Ja and her daughter Ah Ran. It isn't a perfect mother-daughter relationship, in fact it's actually really broken and dysfunctional. Because they are starting this point I am excited to see how their relationship grows throughout the drama. I think we will get to see a ton of character growth between these two and I can't wait to see how they come together and realize that they do truly love each other. It's interesting that the official synopsis for the show describes her as a single mom when in the drama she is actually married. Not the the father of her daughter, which is a totally different issue that  is hinted at in the second episode, but to a man who is really the worst and an even worse mother-in-law. Even though she is technically married she is still very much raising her daughter alone which really makes her a single mom in my eyes. 

I was at first skeptical of the choice for the lead actress because the only thing I have ever seen her in was Faith which is not my favorite drama in the world. But I was completely wrong to have any doubt about Kim Hee Sun because, so far, she is doing a fantastic job. She has a lot of emotion in this role and I truly believe that she is a worried mother fighting to help her daughter get through some extremely traumatic events. All she wants is to be there for her daughter and it hurts her to feel like she can't do anything about the situation. Hee Sun is really great for this part and I look forward to seeing where she takes the character. Plus I can actually sort of believe that she is a high-schooler. She looks fantastic and it isn't too far of a stretch to believe this woman could be passed off as a 19 year old. 
All the other characters in the show have intrigued me but haven't completely pulled me in, particularly Ji Hyun Woo's character. I just don't like the hyper innocent school teacher who is completely oblivious to the things going on around him. I have not lost hope in his character yet and I believe that, hopefully, he will go through some nice character archs that will fill out his character a little bit.

Overall I am extremely satisfied with the first few episodes of this drama. I honestly can't believe that it is only in it's second week because I feel like we've seen so much already. I love that this drama is taking a darker route and is really taking its subject matter seriously. If she show keeps going on like this it is going to be a stellar drama!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Series Review: Seonam Girls High School Investigators

This show was a very interesting watch for me. There were some episodes that I really loved but then there are episodes that really weren't my favorite. I am glad that I watched this drama though. I think that it gave a lot of interesting insight into some of the social problems facing not only Korean society but societies all over the world. I don't think I was quite prepared for how weird the show was actually going to be, at times it was a total comedy and then the next episode is a complete drama. The ending of the drama did feel rushed and that could be because the show was cut down two episodes because of low rating, which is a shame because I think if the final story would have had more time to be fully fleshed out it could have been really cool. But even with the two episode cut the last episode has one of my favorite scenes from the entire drama in it. 

I think the hardest thing for me to like about this show was the characters themselves, they all seemed caricatures rather then real people, you had the pretty stupid one, the over zealous leader, the space case, and the computer hacker. The investigators didn't feel like real people. The only one that I connected to at all was Chae Yool, she is also the only character that we get to see growth from. Since she is the main character this makes a little bit of sense, but it was weird since the drama really did seem like an ensemble show but we didn't get to know anything about any of the other investigators. The main villain of the show also didn't get a lot of character growth until the final two episodes. He gave, for the most part, a pretty creepy vibe throughout the entire series but then all of the mystery behind his character is very rapidly revealed in the last two episodes. I would have loved to see his character arch slowly reveal itself throughout the 14 episodes. 

Because this show didn't really focus on it's individual characters it instead focused on the stories. The series followed a monster of the week type format with the investigators looking into a new mystery and getting it solved usually in 2 episodes or so. While there was the overarching story it didn't become important until the final few episodes. These individual cases are the heart of the show, they are what kept the viewers coming back to watch. While there are a few dud episodes that definitely not my favorite, there are some gems that really moved the audience. There are two cases that really stand out for me personally, they are episodes 7&8 that followed the story of a high school student who had an abortion and everything she has had to go through when people begin to find out and episodes 11&12 where the girls discover a lesbian couple in their school. I think I connected to these episodes because they are subjects that are very important to me in my life and they are subjects that are rarely talked about in dramas. From what I've seen in dramaland this show is extremely progressive which makes it a show worth watching. 

Another aspect of the drama that I found very impressive was the soundtrack, they used a lot of music by Zitten, an Indie Korean band which is one of my favorite band ever. They used a lot of music like that throughout the drama and it was great to hear something different then the usual KPop used in most dramas. 
On of my favoirte songs by Zitten which was used in the drama

I am currently studying theatre at my university focusing on Stage Management, and because of this I found the final episode fascinating. I loved the play the investigators put on and the lighting was absolutely brilliant! That is the theatre nerd in me coming out, I just loved that scene!!!!! 

While this show was far from perfect it was worth watching for the few moments that really moved me. It brought me to tears and made me think about how to make the world around me better through social change. I appreciated the shows quirkiness and it's nonconformity to dramaland. While the characters for the most part were not my favorite I appreciated the growth we got to see in Chae Yool and her journey with the investigators. I know the show won't be for everyone but for those who do watch it will get something out of the watch. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

First Impressions: Super Daddy Yeol

Super Daddy Yeol

Genre: Family, Drama, Comedy, 
Episodes: 16
Broadcast Network: TvN
Air Time: Friday/Saturday

Main Cast:
Lee Dong Gun as Kim Yeol
Lee Yoo Ri as Cha Mi Rae
Lee Re as Sa Rang
Suh Joon Young as Doctor Shin
Se Ye Ji as Hwang Ji Hye

A dying mother needs to pave a future for her young daughter. Cha Mi Rae is a successful doctor and a single mother to her daughter, Sa Rang. When she learns that she has a terminal illness and only has one year to live, she has to find a suitable person to raise her daughter. With no other options, she seeks out her first love, Han Yeol, a confirmed bachelor and a washed up baseball player. In the time she has left she has to groom Han Yeol into the perfect father for her daughter. 

When I first watched the previews for this drama I got a very light funny vibe from the show, but then I read the synopsis and realized there is no way in this world that this show is going to be a comedy. It may just be me, but the idea of a mother fighting to give her daughter a family to fall back on after she dies is heartbreaking and tragic. I think this show is going to run a lot heavier then the previews initially made it out to be. This has happened before because when I went into Kill Me, Heal Me I had the same vibes about the show which turned out to be very wrong. But I am a fan of darker concepts and I look forward to where this show goes, will it lean more on the comedy side or will it be a downer all 16 episodes, or will it weave the comedy in with the more dramatic elements to have a very balanced show? We can't really know the answer to that until the drama has ended but after the first two episodes I am hopeful that it will balance the two genres out and give us a great drama.

I know a lot of people haven't really been looking forward to this drama, at least who I've talked to, but for some reason I was instantly drawn to this show and after the first two episodes that excitement hasn't diminished at all. The first episode introduced the characters very well and I got very connected to them by the end of that hour. They are both flawed people who have lived their lives with completely different philosophies. When they come together to take care of Sa Rang I hope to see their opposite personalities come together and for them to bring out the best in each other. I think the character I am most looking forward to seeing progress is Yeol. He has no goals in life but when he suddenly has people to take care of and he will have to watch the woman who he truly never had a chance to get over, die. I am already reaching for the tissues.... 

Mi Rae's philosophy of 100% or 0 seems so twisted to me but I can see how she would develop that type of thinking. She is a very attractive women and a predominately male inhabited career and she has had to be tough and unforgiving to be taken seriously. We see this in the first two episodes with her superiors clearly sexually harassing her. But I do feel bad for her daughter who has had this mentality pushed on her since birth. While being competitive is a good thing it starts to turn negative when you will quite things just because your not the best right then. I am excited to see Yeol will affect Mi Rae and her daughter by bringing a new perspective to this whole "either you win, or you lose" mentality. I think this mentality is also going to hurt Mi Rae because she won't be able to give 100% to her daughter, she is going to leave her daughter before finishing raising her and protecting her. That is why she has turned to finding a dad for Sa Rang, that's her way of giving her 100% before she dies. 

Overall I am very excited for this show and I have very high hopes for the next 14 episodes. I loved Marriage Not Dating and after the first two episodes I have gotten the same vibe from Super Daddy Yeol. I expect to have some great laughs but to have the seriousness of the plot brought to the forefront and to make me cry. I want the show to really focus on family, I am looking forward to seeing Sa Rang and Yeol's relationship grow and how they come to rely on each other. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

The One that Started it All - Playful Kiss

Oh this drama... this drama is definitely not the best drama I have seen since entering dramaland. It has all the cliches and it does everything that is typically expected in a school, slice of life, romance drama. But that doesn't mean that this drama isn't in my heart, in fact is holds a very special place because there will never be another first drama, this is it for me, it is what introduced me to this world that I had no idea was really a thing. It led me to discovering an online community that has been welcoming and wonderful to participate in. 

A lot of people ask me how I actually found this drama and why in the world did I even start watching it in the first place. Well I have been exposed to the Korean culture since I was born but when I entered elementary school and started spending less time with my aunt my connection to the culture slowly diminished. What kind of replaced it was a general fascination with anime. All growing up I was absolutely in love with Sailor Moon I watched all the episodes of the anime and just loved it. I would never admit this to anyone though because I thought it was geeky and weird and no one would understand. Which I look back now that I have more confidence in who I am and I see that there were a lot of people interested in this type of stuff. Well when I entered high school I went through I major anime and manga faze. I watched a lot of anime and started reading manga. I read this one manga called Itazura Na Kiss. 

I liked this manga so much that I looked to see if it had been adapted to a anime. Which obviously it had, so obviously I had to watch it. Just like I loved the manga I loved the anime as well. I remember reading a wiki page about the manga and seeing that there was a live action Japanese adaption and a Korean adaption that were in the works to be made. That was the last I really thought about the drama adaptions. I went on my merry way watching all different kinds of anime and reading different mangas.

Well one day I was flipping through Netflix looking for a show to watch and to my surprise Playful Kiss come up. I read the description and it reminded me of an anime I had watched a few years previous. I was curious so I started watching. And that was all it took, I was hooked from there on out. I remember thinking that the first few episodes were weird but as I continued to get into the drama I soon fell in love. It was also fun because I do speak Korean so I didn't have to watch with subtitles which was really fun for me.

This drama opened up a new world of dramas, I started watching some dramas on Netflix and then taking to the internet for suggestions and finally I am watching shows as they air while trying to catch up on great dramas I have missed from the past few years. So while I know this isn't technically the greatest show ever made it is my first and it will always be the show that brought me into this world and because of this I will always love this drama.

Series Review: Kill Me, Heal Me

Kill Me, Heal Me is a very special drama that has been a privilege to watch the past few months. It is a drama that had a very dark and serious subject but way able to bring some lightness and comedy to lift the audience up from the seriousness of the subject. One thing I have never really understood about KDramas is how the put shows into their genres. This drama is listed first as a comedy and I truly do not believe that it is a comedy. To me this is a drama with comedic elements not a straight up comedy. The show definitely starts out more lighthearted but when the show starts delving into it's plot and we start digging into these characters past we see how heartbreaking their situations really are.

The story follows Cha Do Hyun who is a third generation Chaebol who suffers from D.I.D (Dissociative Identity Disorder) he has seven separate people living within himself trying to fight to stay alive within him. I think is the real draw of the show is this character who is split between seven very different and distinct personalities. I could not praise Ji Sung more, his performance was absolutely brilliant. It takes a really talented actor to be able to show a completely different person just from their eyes and he did that for each personality. It really was amazing and he steals the show. I actually found that my favorite personality was different then most people, I fell in love with Ahn Yo Sub. He was the suicidal personality who really just wanted to die and it fascinated me that this was a piece a Do Hyun who deep down wanted to end his own life. Really each personality was great and brought a lot to the show.

I really came to watch Kill Me, Heal Me because of Ji Sung but I found that I fell in love all the other characters as well. They really put together a great cast that all worked together to creating a very moving and piece. The chemistry between Ji Sung and Hwang Jung Eum was just as great as it was when they did Secret together. They really work well together and they had some great moments throughout the drama together that created a great romance. 

I also fell in love with Oh Ri Jin's brother Oh Ri On, even though I am not a fan of the fake brother falling in love with his fake sister. I was wary of this plot line because I just don't like how this seems to come up in every drama ever. But I ended up falling in love with Oh Ri On and how much he wanted to take care of and protect his sister. I know that he was in love with her romantically but I think a lot of his actions were as an older brother looking out for his sister. They had a great relationship and that is reflected at the end when Oh Ri On is willing to give up his romantic feelings because he knew that Oh Ri Jin needed him as her brother. I also loved their parents, they were quirky and fun and truly loved their children. Their family dynamic was such a stark contrast to Do Hyun's you can see why he turned inward and created these personalities because he didn't have any love around him. Ri Jin was able to heal with the love of her family surrounding her helping her along the way. 

This is a show about healing and not letting your past determine your future, that is purely for you to decide. The healing process that our two leads go through is beautiful and it really touched me when they came out of everything they went through together. This show effected so many people that there was a compaign started to raise money to help children who have been abused, which is really the best thing that can come out of this drama. I really did love this drama and I think Ji Sung deserves all the awards for his portrayal of Cha Do Hyun!! 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

1 Year of KDramas

In March of 2014 I started watching Korean Dramas and I haven't stopped watching since. When I first became crazy about these dramas I thought it was just a fad that I would get tired of after a while but that didn't happen. In fact KDramas have become a very passionate part of my life. I love these shows, I don't watch anything other then these dramas because they are so good. So to celebrate the one year anniversary of my discovery of these amazing shows I want to talk about the show that started it all, Playful Kiss.

 In a year I have almost watched a total of 50 dramas, by the end of the month I should be exactly 50. So I also want to talk about my favorite dramas and what draws me to certain types of dramas.

 I have met so many different people from all over the world through watching these shows and it is amazing how these shows have such a rich community online. You never feel alone while watching dramas, there is someone somewhere in the world who is also watching and fangirling just as much over the show as you are. So here is to a year of Dramas that have changed my life for the better.