Sunday, August 30, 2015

First Impression: Twenty Again

Twenty Again
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Episodes: 16
Broadcast Network: TvN
Air Time: Friday/Saturday
Broadcast Period: Aug. 28, 2015 - Oct. 17, 2015

Main Cast:
Choi Ji Woo as Ha No Ra
Lee Sang Yoon as Cha Hyun Suk
Choi Won Young as Kim Woo Chul
Kim Min Jae as Kim Min Soo

The story revolves around a 38 year old housewife, H No Ra, who decided to go back to school and experience the college life for the first time. She spent the last two decades as a housewife after she got married and became a mother at the age of 19. Her 20 year old son, Kim Min Soo and his girlfriend, Oh Hye Mi are her classmates, while her husband, Kim Woo Chul and her first love, Cha Hyun Suk are professors in that college. 

I have been looking forward to this drama for a while now, and while I didn't love the first two episodes as much as I was hoping I would they definitely didn't disappoint. After the first two episodes I feel like this drama has so much heart that it is going to channel to create a really funny and light hearted drama. I think dramaland has been pretty disappointing recently and after Oh My Ghostess ended I really questioned if this drama would be able to hold up to the hype it's been given, but if the drama continues to develop following the great introduction we should prepared for a good ride. 

I think the biggest thing I am looking forward to with this drama is seeing Ha No Ra's character development. Right now she is extremely timid but by going back to school I feel like she is going to break out of this housewife shell she has been hiding in for 20 years. We got some great glimps into her past and I can't wait to see that Ha No Ra who isn't afraid to stand up for herself and share her opinions. I think a big part of that character development is going to be initiated by Cha Hyun Suk who knows the woman she really is deep down. I am very excited to see that happen. 

I think the acting is pretty solid, it's really hard to say that the acting is really great or not after just watching 2 episodes. Because dramas can go down hill pretty fast, I have been burned by dramas one two many times recently that I am now very hesitant to praise a drama too much at first. But I really do feel confidant that the acting in the first two episodes will continue throughout the remaining episodes. Also Lee Sang Yoon is absolutely adorable and his character is the complete opposite of his last character in Lying Game, it was a little weird at first but I am completely in love with him. I do really like that I can connect to all the characters, well except Kim Hyun Suk, he's just an ass. But even though he is a complete ass he isn't an outright villain. It's the same thing with their son, he is a brat but I don't think he goes out of his way to be outright mean to his mother, he is a teenager who wants to be independent and his mom going to school with him hinders that plan. 

The theme of this drama really seems to be that it is never too late to discover yourself. This really actually hits close to home for me because my mother actually went back to school when I was a senior in high school. So we were in college together for three years. I definitely didn't have the same reaction that her son did but it was a little weird at first because college is supposed to be this time to break away from your parents and discover yourself but I think for the most part I was so proud that she wasn't scared to put herself out there. She was a housewife for 25 years and now she a special education teacher and is currently looking into masters programs. She is one of the greatest inspirations in my life and I hope that Kim Min So can eventually see that what his mother is doing isn't something to be embarrassed about, it is something to admire and learn from. So I am very excited to follow this drama and see all the characters grow and learn to really love each other. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Series Review: Oh My Ghostess

Oh man this drama! After a sling of disappointing dramas this was a really great breath of fresh air... because it was actually enjoyable to watch. This is the type of drama that you could totally marathon in one sitting, it is that entertaining. I am not saying that this show is without it's flaws because it definitely wasn't the perfect dramas, and if I had the power to go back and change a few things within the drama I totally would, but the show also had a lot of great qualities and those completely outweigh any problems I had. 

I think this drama grabbed onto a lot of the audience before it even started airing. The concept for the show is hilarious and it was very interesting. Having a virgin ghost posses a shy girl to seduce a narcissistic chef is pure gold and that really did draw a lot of people. But luckily the show didn't rely solely on the comedy. There was a lot of heart behind each of the characters and that made me care about each one of them. It's heartbreaking when a show makes you feel so connected to a character that is already dead, the happiest ending for her is to simply move on to the next life, it's really bittersweet. The show also set up a very dark plot beneath the comedy that didn't really get a chance to come out until the last few episodes, but Im Ju Hwan was very good at being as creepy as possible. There was just a nice balance between the comedy, romance, mystery, and drama that created a great show that never got boring. 

I think part of the charm of the show was the acting, I mean who can deny that Jo Jung Suk is the only actor who could take a character like Chef and make him this goofy love sick puppy. He was just adorable, and every time Chef looked at Na Bong Sun there was no doubt in my mind that they were in love. Then there is Kim Seul Gi, who has proved time and time again that she is a comedic genius, but is great about this drama is that we got to see a slightly more serious side to her acting as well and I was just as impressed with her dramatic acting as I was with her comedic chops. But the real MVP of the drama was Park Bo Young. I had never seen her in anything before, I think because she has recently stuck to movies and hasn't been apart of dramaland for quite a while. I am so glad that I was introduced to her in this because she is fabulous. She played two characters distinctly so the audience never had to question which person was currently in control. She is such a small person but she commands the screen and I was instantly drawn to her. I will definitely be seeking out her previous work! 
I think if I had anything that I would want to change it would be the time balanced more evenly between Bong Sun and Soon Ae. I was actually really frustrated for the first half of the drama because Soon Ae was spending so much time in Bong Sun's body and it really felt like Chef was falling in love with a ghost which is pretty problematic since, you know... she's dead and there isn't really a happy future for them. I think the relationship between Bong Sun and Chef could have been better established and I do think that was a missed opportunity. And while the lore of the whole ghost world wasn't established super well I think it came unraveled a little bit more for me toward the end. I think Choi Sung Jae was a really hard character at the end because he was possessed by an evil spirit but where does that spirit and his true personality meet? I feel like Sung Jae choosing to kill himself in the second to last episode was a fitting end to his character. Even if it was the ghost doing those evil deeds how could he try to go back to a normal life after the ghost left. So when he showed up again in the final episode I was kind of disappointed where that left him. 

Overall this was a great drama that had me excited each week to watch the new episodes. The chemistry between the actors was spot on and each one embraced their roles fully. The story line is fun and unique and there is a lot of skin-ship throughout the drama, which is not something you see all the time in dramaland. Park Bo Young is an amazing actress and I am so glad that her return to dramas was so successful and I look forward to seeing more from all the actors. I think what left me feeling so good about this drama is that I felt closure for every character. Soon Ae was able to solve her grudge and leave earth with zero regrets and she definitely left her mark on all the characters, especially Bong Sun. Their goodbye to each other was one of my favorite parts of the entire drama, it was so meaningful and they realized that they meant more to each other then either of them had initially planned, it was a beautiful ending for the two characters. I would definitely give this drama two thumbs up and would suggest giving it a watch. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Series Review: The Time We Were Not in Love

Sigh...... I really, really, really wanted to like this drama because I had heard that the Taiwanese drama that it was based off of was really great. I knew going in that the story wasn't anything new, two best friends of opposite genders realize that the friendship they have built over the years has changed into something different. It's stories like these that keep the idea that girls and boys really can't just be friends, in the end there always has to be some sort of romantic feelings shared between the two. So while the story itself didn't have me super excited I was still really looking forward to the drama, Ha Ji Won is a talented actress and I really enjoyed her in The King2Hearts and while I hadn't seen Lee Jin Wook in anything previous he is just so cute that I couldn't help but like him. I really enjoyed the first two weeks of the drama, I thought it was cute and the potential was definitely there. Unfortunately the drama started to nose dive quickly after it was announced that they would be switching drama, and after that it was never able to recover. 

The biggest problem with the drama was definitely the writing, it just wasn't good. By the end of the drama I didn't care what happened to any of the characters. The hardest character to get behind was Ha Ji Won's character Ha Na. I feel like the character could have been a very strong and interesting female character who put her career first in her life and while she does want to have relationships and eventually wants to get married it doesn't control her life. We didn't get that.... nothing really close to that. She was so frustrating to watch and the only time she ever made a hard decision was to get back together with her douche bag ex-boyfriend. And even that decision didn't last long. So she was just a frustrating character and I couldn't follow her thought pattern. By the end her relationship with Won just seemed like she was giving up and settling. 

While she was the hardest character for me to remotely relate to Won wasn't much better. He made some really odd decisions when he was younger and really stuck to the whole "never loving Ha Na" thing like for twenty years he stuck to this mantra, then one day he decided to flip that switch and go after her. And while he was a really good guy who was always there to support Ha Na even when she was making crazy decisions that he didn't agree with, he still just rubbed me the wrong way. I definitely think it was his 90's throwback hair cut and his all denim outfits.... 

While the characterization was a big problem there was also no plot to be found in all 16 episodes. It was honestly just boring to watch. Each week I would have a slight glimmer of hope that the drama would magically somehow get better and each week they took that hope and crushed it. It get's to the point where even the happy ending doesn't mean anything anymore, you know that the drama is required to have this type of ending but they did nothing to earn it. I don't know why I watched it all the way through... I have this issue where when I start a drama I hate to stop in the middle, it is really hard to just drop something but I have done it before to dramas that were a lot better than this one. But somehow I accepted the challenge to finish this drama and I succeeded. I would never suggest this drama to anyone to invest 16 hours of their lives on. 

I wish they would have just kept L the entire drama.... He would have been able to help me through.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

First Impression: Yong Pal

Yong Pal
Genre: Medical, Action
Episodes: 16
Broadcast Network: SBS
Air Time: Wednesday/Thursday
Broadcast Period: 8/5/2015-9/24/2015

Main Cast:
Joo Won as Kim Tae Hyun
Kim Tae Hee as Han Yeo Jin
Jo Hyun Jae as Han Do Joon
Chae Jung Ahn as Lee Chae Young

Kim Tay Hyun is an excellent surgeon, but he is constantly harassed by debt collectors due to his younger sister. His younger sister requires expensive kidney dialysis. To make more money, he goes to see patients privately for a high fee. He doesn't care whether these patients are criminals as long as they can pay him. He then meet Han Yeo Jin who is in a deep sleep in the hospital. 

Well this drama has certainly started off with a bang. Yong Pal has the highest premier ratings of the year so far, it ended up at 11.6% nationwide. That's pretty impressive and I can only really see the rating going up from here. So people are pretty excited about this drama and after watching the first two episodes I am completely on the Yong Pal party wagon. I have a very unpopular opinion but I do not find Joo Won very attractive and the only drama I attempted to watch with him in it was Level 7 Civil Servant which was so horrible I couldn't finish it, and I hate stopping dramas part way through but this one is an exception. Since that is the only experience I have with him my opinion is pretty low, but I also know that he has done some great dramas that I haven't gotten around to watching yet. But people do seem to love him so I am coming into this drama forgetting everything about my previous experience with Jun Woo and coming in with a fresh look. 

I think the first two episodes were pretty solid. Kim Tae Hyun is a really interesting character who is morally ambiguous. His obsession with money is really interesting and I know he is doing it for his sister but that brings him into murky territory. The character also has this dry sense of humor that I found hilarious. I also love that Kim Mi Kyung is in this drama, she is perfect in every role and a very versatile actor. I want her to be in every drama I watch from now on! 

I think this drama has set up a really intriguing plot and I think there are going to be a lot of twists and turns before we get to the end of the story. I can't wait to see more from Kim Tae Hee because while she is there in the first couple of episodes she doesn't do a whole lot, she basically lies there and then we get some flashbacks to how she ended up in this coma. I really appreciate getting to see a little bit of the backstory before she wakes up because there is some foundation already in place for her character.  I'll definitely be following this drama and I think it has a lot of potential!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

First Impression: Mrs. Cop

Mrs. Cop
Genre: Action, Crime
Episodes: 16
Broadcast Network: SBS
Air Time: Monday/Tuesday
Broadcast Period: 8/3/2015 - 9/22/2015

Main Cast:
Kim Hee Ae as Choi Young Jin
Kim Min Jong as Park Jong Ho
Lee Da Hee as Min Do Young
Son Ho Joon as Han Jin Woo

This drama follow Choi Young Jin, a female detective squad chief in charge of a violent crime division. 

Mrs. Cop is a very interesting show, after the first two episodes I can't really decide if I actually like it or not. I don't even know what really prompted me to watch this drama, I think the main reason is that I am very interested to see how Choi Young Jin handles being a mom while staying dedicated to her job, especially since she has to continuously prove herself because her job is dominated by men. Going in I didn't think this was going to be an everyday crime show and after the first two episodes it feels a lot more nitty gritty than past ones I've watch. This drama feels like it should be on a cable channel and not on SBS and that's a good thing. 

The story is really interesting and I think there is a lot of room for character development which I am really looking forward to seeing. I have never seen Kim Hee Ae in anything before so I am just going off of her performance in the first two episodes but I felt like she was over acting a bit. There are some real tragic moments that had potential to really affect the audience emotionally but every time her character would wail and scream and it completely brought me out of the scene. It may just be me and I could be completely wrong but I don't know if I can handle 14 more episodes of that. 

I think the mother/daughter dynamic is going to be interesting to explore because you have this little girl who loves her mother and just wants to spend time with her and a woman who clearly loves her daughter but puts her job first. I hope that the show is going to show Young Jin learning to balance her life as a cop and her life as a mother, and seeing that it doesn't have to be one or the other. Plus that little girl is so cute, I just want her to be happy always. 

I think I'm going to stick with this drama for a little while longer, because I am very intrigued by the plot and I like seeing a darker show on a broadcast network. I just want Kim Hee Ae's acting to come down just a little bit and then I think I'll really enjoy the drama. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

K-Con Day 3: All Good Things Must Come to an End

The last day of K-Con 2015 came on Sunday and let me tell you, this whole experience has been absolutely amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better weekend, I got to meet a lot of new people from all over the place and learn about what brought them to this convention and what it is about Korean culture that inspires people, like myself, to drive 10 hours to experience the madness first hand. It really is an amazing thing and I look forward to hopefully going next year!

Well on to day 3! We decided to really dedicate this day to three specific panels and Maren and I basically just camped out in one of the panel rooms to ensure we had good seats for all three. The first panel we went to was How to See Seoul on a Shoestring. I have always wanted to take a year off of life and just travel around the world, specifically I would like to travel around Korea. So this panel was kind of perfect and really solidified my need to take off and put life on hold for a little bit, my parents will  be really happy to hear about my plans... But this panel has a lot of great information about the do's and don'ts while traveling in Korea on a budget. I took a lot of notes and I am already planning my grand adventure after I finish university.

Next up was Korean Film and Drama Industry Behind the Scenes with CJ Entertainment. I was initially not really looking forward to this panel because I didn't fully understand what it was going to be about but it actually turned out to be very informative and was very interesting. It really gave me a look at CJ Entertainment USA and how they are trying to spread Korean film and dramas to new mediums in the U.S. They are doing everything within their power to get new dramas on Netflix and Hulu and they are trying to get Korean films to be shown in movie theaters all over the U.S. This panel also had a lot of trivia questions and they handed out a lot of prizes. I would say I am pretty well versed in dramaland and I got to show off by answering a couple of questions. It was a lot of fun and I have decided that my dream in life is to work for CJ in L.A. and just tell people to start watching dramas. I would be so great at that!!

The third panel was the one that Maren and I were most excited about it was All that K-Drama with Park Ji Eun, Writer of "My Love from Another Star" and "Producer". Obviously this was going to be a great panel and I was so excited to hear about what it was like writing for Korean dramas, especially since it has always seemed so different from how things are done in the U.S. I am also slightly embarrassed to say that we were also really hoping that Kim Soo Hyun would "surprise" the panel and come to support Park Ji Eun. It was a natural conclusion to come to since we all knew that Kim Soo Hyun was supposed to be at the convention but nobody knew where or when he would show up. But alas, all that hoping was in vain and he didn't come, despite that it was a wonderful panel that showed a lot of insight into the Korean writers industry but also her motivations for writing My Love from Another Star. 

At this panel we also had director Jin Hyuk there to add a little dimension to the panel. What was interesting is that they confirmed that Park Ji Eun and Jin Hyuk will be working on a drama together that should be airing sometime next year. So that is very exciting news and I will definitely be checking that drama out!

After than panel we wondered around the expo and I ended up buying a lot of things, which I wasn't supposed to do since I am a poor student. But all my money is now gone and I have some awesome stuff, so I guess I win...

Sunday night's concert was one I wasn't looking all that forward to. I wasn't super familiar with any of the groups performing so I was just going to enjoy the atmosphere. I came out of that concert with some new favorite groups that I have been listening to ever since. It was really a great concert and I am now a total fan of Block B and Red Velvet! I think I was most disappointed in AOA's performance, I just didn't think it was very good. Out of all the performers from both concerts, Got7, Red Velvet, Super Junior, Roy Kim, and Block B were my stand out favorites. I think one of the biggest things I learned from this trip was that I am definitely not a true K-pop fan. I listen to K-pop every once in a while and I enjoy what I hear but I could never be as dedicated to these groups as a lot of people I met at the concerts and convention were. It's slightly overwhelming and I think I need to stick to being absolutely obsessed with dramas, only one thing can dominate my life. Also at the concert was where Kim Soo Hyun made his appearance, he was literally there for a short introduction and then left. But I can say that I was in the same room as him...

All that was left was to drive home and head back to real life. I would go back in a heartbeat and I look forward to next year! It was truly amazing to see so many people gathered in one place because of their love of Hallyu. There is something about it that connects to so many different people in completely different walks of life, and that's one of the greatest things about K-dramas, it connects people in ways other types of entertainment can't. So until next year, K-Con, it has been amazing!

Series Review: Mask

I was initially hesitant to start this drama because I knew that it was going to be a melodramatic mix of crazy plot lines that are completely out of the realm of possibility. But I think that these types of dramas are great to watch every once in a while because they can just be mindless fun. That was really why I decided to pick up Mask, and for the most part I am happy with that choice. The drama was really entertaining for about 16 episodes unfortunately it was a 20 episode drama that just lost some of it's moment in the last four episodes. I think there are a lot of things that I enjoyed throughout the drama, like the relationship between our two leads, but for me, a drama with a poor ending leaves me extremely disappointed. So while it was an entertaining drama, it just didn't fulfill it's full potential. 

First I want to talk about the things that I really did enjoy. Our main couple were so adorable and watching them slowly fall in love was so much fun! Min Woo individually was probably my favorite part of the drama. He started off absolutely nuts but I loved seeing his character progress and slowly fall in love with Ji Sook. He had a very dry sense of humor that I found hilarious and adorable. I think Ji Sook was also a very interesting character that we got to see change a lot throughout the drama. She started out so timid and willing to go along with everything Seok Hoon said, but she slowly gained a back bone and really become a strong character. I think the only thing that would make the relationship between these two better would be if there was more kissing. But other than that they were adorable and were really what got me through the last few episodes of the drama. 

I also really enjoyed Mi Yeon as a character as well. She was really interesting because she did some horrible things and when she had to start facing her horrible actions she tries to justify everything, but in the end she can't. I don't think she ever meant to actually kill anyone, she wanted to scare people into submission and by doing that cost two people their lives. By far she is the most complex character in the drama and I think she was the most real, she shows that generally good people can make horrible mistakes but everyone has to take responsibility for those actions. She was complex and really great to watch. The main villain in the drama was brilliantly played by Yeon Jeong Hun, was a pretty big disappointment. He came across as a evil mastermind at the beginning but somehow his carefully devised revenge ended up going absolutely no where. Also the reasons for his revenge was confusing and I wish it was fleshed out a little more.

I think the hardest of the drama was the last couple of episodes. There were so many dropped story lines that could have been amazing if they were fleshed out. They had plenty of content to hold the audience for all 20 episodes but the last few episodes just stalled and really didn't go anywhere. I am glad that our main couple got their happy ending but I was waiting for some real doom and gloom before we got there. The first part of the drama was extremely addicting and I looked forward to watching it each week but the ending makes it hard to recommend this drama. If you are really looking for a melodrama I would first recommend Secret, which is written by the same writer as this one. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

K-Con Day 2: Ignite Your FEELZ

I honestly cannot believe that I am really at K-Con it's day two and everything was still just as magical as day 1. We started off the day hanging around the expo and trying out some of the booths we didn't get a chance to go to yesterday. While we were walking around we realized that Kim Soo Hyun is literally everywhere...

My favorite thing is that he is in the the same picture twice, if only there were two Kim Soo Hyun's. So basically that got me really excited to see him at some point during the con. I am pretty sure that fateful meeting is going to be at a panel tomorrow, at least I'm hoping so. The Dramafever area had some really great props to take pictures with and confess your addiction to dramas which is perfect for me.

The first panel of the day was with Dramabeans called Show You Complete Me. It was another great panel with the Dramabeans team and it is really amazing to get to pick Javabeans and Girlfriday's brains about dramas. This website is just so amazing, it has created such an amazing online community that can share thoughts and feelings about Korean dramas. It gives someone like me a place to talk to others about something I am extremely passionate about. 

Next we went to panel discussing Korean indie music, which was fascinating and we got a lot of good recommendations to break into the more indie side of Korean music. I have very little knowledge of K-pop, I know I like some of the music and I know some of the bands, so hearing about all these obscure bands was a little hard for me to follow but I can't wait to check some of these out.  

We did end up leaving the panel a little early and it's lucky we did because Got7 was doing a runway type show thing that basically the whole world was trying to get close to see. I am a very tall person, 5'10", so I ended up being able to get some pretty good pictures of these guys while they were so close. I really like Got7 and part of that is because I fell in love with Jr. during My Love Eun Dong. 

Highlight of the day was getting to see Roy Kim up close and personal. He was the artist I was most looking forward to seeing in concert. So when we heard he was going to be on the small stage, Maren and I made sure we would get up close. He is so unbelievably talented and even though he only played two songs it was totally worth the wait to see him. He is promoting a charity called Girls Education and it's there to help girls all over the world gain access to an education. Not only is he an amazing singer but he supports a cause that is so important. He is basically my new favorite human, and if you haven't listened to any of his music I would definitely suggest doing so. 

For the rest of the day we basically just hung out at the expo and I bought a hat, which is pretty epic... so I took a bunch of pictures....

We are just too cool...

After that we got ready for the epicness that was to come at the concert that features, MonstaX, Got7, Sistar, Roy Kim, and Super Junior. I honestly had no idea what was coming my way. Seeing true fans of K-pop is really overwhelming and I realized that I am not nearly as passionate about anything in my life as some of these fans. I thought the girl sitting next to me was literally going to have a panic attach and pass out during Super Juniors set. It was nuts! Our tickets were way up in the nose bleeds but the concert was totally worth going to. 

Only one more day to go but I couldn't have asked for a better experience than this has been. Hopefully Kim Soo Hyun shows up tomorrow so I can have an epic fan girl moment!