태양의 후예 (Descendants of the Sun Ep.1)

With double digit ratings for its first two episodes, Descendants of the Sun proves Song Joong Ki’s comeback is one of the most highly anticipated in Kdramaland. Oh how I’ve waited for this too.  And Joong Ki did not disappoint!~ He aptly plays Yoo Si Jin, an elite soldier with an unbelievable amount of charm, like a combination of Kang Maru’s bad boy and Goo Yong Ha’s playful personality with the addition of his ogle-worthy post-army bod.

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Song Hye Kyo has just made a comeback (in my life) too. I seriously haven’t seen any of her projects after Full House and that was a looong time ago. That Winter The Wind Blows was just not my cup of tea. I’ve seen some scenes from the movie My Brilliant Life but I was just checkin’ out Kang Do Won. Song Hye Kyo is still gorgeous at 34. What’s up with these Korean vampire-like actresses who just get more beautiful as they age. She plays a surgeon named Kang Mo Yeon. Ironically, a doctor who saves lives falls in love with a soldier who takes them. Now that’s complicated.

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Screenshot 2016-02-26 at 3.51.26 PM.pngThe cast also includes Jin Goo who’s in with some pretty strong bromance with Joong Ki. I initially didn’t care much about him but his character, Seo Dae Young, turns out be an interesting one. He’s found a new dongsaeng named Kim Gi Beom and is/was romantically involved with a higher ranking female officer: lieutenant general’s daughter, Yoon  Myeong Joo played by Kim Tae Hee look-alike,Kim Ji Won.

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Speaking of look-alike, many people have been mentioning Onew’s resemblance with Song Joong Ki. Now that they’re together in one drama, it has become obvious that Shinee leader’s idol aura is completely different from Joong Ki’s leading man swag.

I loved the premiere episode. Since the drama is pre-produced, it was perfectly shot and smoothly edited.  First 10 minutes in and I was already over the moon. I think I just heard the sexiest “그래” (kurae) ever. The emotion is different but the impact is just as strong as when he uttered the saddest “가자마”(kajima) in The Werewolf Boy.

Lee Kwang Soo appeared for a comic cameo and the show promises an endearing and funny bromance between Joong ki and Jin Goo. But I’m having some King 2 Hearts feelings about this so I hope Jin Goo’s character won’t end up like Jo Jung Suk’s character, Eun Si Kyung.

When Yoo Si Jin and Kang Mo Yeon finally crossed paths, there was some cheesy slow-motion with some background music as sparks fly and the romance starts. Just then I remembered that this drama is written by Heirs’ writer Kim Eun Sook. Good thing my love for the actor comes before my disappointment in the writer’s previous works. I have managed to leave my brains at the door for the sake of watching Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won in Secret Garden so I guess I can do the same for Joong Ki. I feel like Kim Eun Sook tends to put in some romance overkill but it’s too early to tell how Descendants of the Sun would turn out. I just hope the show won’t try to take itself too seriously the way The Heirs did and tone down the distracting background music while they’re at it.

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고품격 짝사랑 (High-End Crush)

 

It’s my first time to watch a drama with such short running time. High End Crush is a 15 minute Korean-Chinese collaboration webdrama aired on Chinese web portal Sina starring Jung Il Woo and Jin Se Yeon.

Jung Il Woo plays a top entertainment company CEO named Choi Sae Hoon while Jin Se Yeon plays Yoo Yi Ryeong, an ordinary country girl who agreed to appear in one of Sae Hoon-produced music videos. And with a plot so trite, we all know that this successful but haughty boss will soon fall head-over-heels in love with the conservative girl who used to live in the mountains. The only difference is that there is no clichéd love triangle. Bora’s character Min Joo didn’t eventually become a jealous bitch just as most self-centered top star characters do. Constantly telling her that she’s pretty is enough to appease her.

0068utvfjw1exeifdbjdqj31681rcgzcI miss Jung Il Woo since I haven’t seen any of his projects after The Moon that Embraces the Sun. He had another sageuk called Diary of a Night Watchman but I didn’t even bother watching it after reading netizens’ complaints about its cast’s acting abilities. Besides, I never really liked him in that genre.  Jung Il Woo is much more charming in romcoms although he usually plays the stereotypical rich, arrogant, man-child.  His role in High End Crush is reminiscent of Cha Chi Soo in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop but I find him more endearing here maybe because Cha Chi Soo was a spoiled heir to the biggest food conglomerate in the country while Choi Sae Hoon, though vain and irascible, is a gifted and hardworking businessman. It’s better when we actually get to see where all the main character’s wealth is coming from. Seeing Jung Il Woo does the whole rolling-on-the-floor, mumbling-to-himself, crazy love-struck is the best thing I’ve seen this week. He sure knows how to make women’s hearts flutter and his comic timing has gotten better.

Jin Se Yeon’s been getting a lot of criticisms due to her incompetent acting skills. Well, I can’t really disagree with that because she looks a little zoned-out and unnatural at times. She’s so lucky though, to have worked with some of the most good looking and sought-after leading men in this Kdrama generation: Ji Chang Wook in Five Fingers, Joo Won in Gaksital, Kim Hyun Joong in Inspiring Generation and Lee Jong Suk and Park Hae Jin in Doctor Stranger.

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The first time I saw her was in Gaksital and I thought Mok Dan’s character was too much for a young, rookie actress to handle. This time in High End Crush, she could at least act more naturally. She’s neither gorgeous nor voluptuous but just like her character Yoo Yi Ryeong, Jin Se Yeon has some innocent and charming attributes, the girl next door type who is perfect for romcoms. The problem is, there’s nothing more to it. To be honest, she’s pretty but quite boring.

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80% of the chemistry was taken cared of by Jung Il Woo. The drama focused more on Choi Sae Hoon’s point of view: how he suddenly changed, how he struggled to figure out why he’s changing and how he is going to handle a feeling that’s new to him. Yoo Yi Ryeung is quite two-dimensional and Jin Se Yeon’s lack of expression isn’t helping.

0068utvfjw1f06vmsqavvj31681rc7ffWhat made want to watch this drama ’til the end isn’t entirely the romance but the bromance. I can’t get enough of Choi Sae Hoon and Section Chief Heo. I’ve just recently watched the latter in a similar role but a different genre when he played Ahn Soo Beom in Remember-War of the Son. Since Reply 1997, Lee Si Eon has always had a knack for comedy and he was able to showcase that once again. He was a great wingman to Choi Sae Hoon. Maybe if Nam Gyu Man allowed Seo Boom to be a friend to him the way Heo was a friend to Sae Hoon, Gyu Man wouldn’t have ended up as a seemingly soulless person.

Other than Jung Il Woo and Lee Si Eon, there weren’t any other particular things that makes the show different from other romcoms but High-End Crush is a fast and feel-good web drama that needs to be enjoyed and not overly examined. And since Choi Sae Hoon’s character is in the entertainment business, expect some good music and a bunch of cameos including Monsta X and Jung Kyoung Ho.

리멤버 (Remember:War of the Son)

I saw the finale of Remember: War of the Son earlier today. The overall story tends to get a bit disappointing due to the number of times they have come too close to cornering Nam Gyu Nam only to let him get away. Just as Lee In Ah said, bad things just keep on happening to Seo Jin Woo but this sad angle of the drama is compensated by the strong performances of its actors.

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Yoo Seung Ho’s innocent face and remarkable dramatic skills elicit all kinds of noona feels from me. He’s still pretty but has gotten a tad manlier post-army. He’s swoon worthy enough to lead a romantic genre but he shines more in a melodrama. His character, Seo Jin Woo, has come a long way from being the hapless, powerless boy to a grown up lawyer in search of justice for his wrongfully accused deceased father. And it’s definitely not an easy journey considering the betrayals and the lives ruined until he was finally able to take the almighty Ilho group and the invincible Nam Gyu Man down.

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Nam Gyu Man! I literally had goosebumps when watching him. I was swooning and getting intimidated at the same time. I think Remember would have just ended up as a typical memory-related, melo courtroom, revenge drama if it weren’t for Namgoong Min’s insane acting skills. I enjoyed watching his angry outbursts and yet I felt bad to see him fall apart even though he actually deserves it. More than just the incarceration and worse than death itself is his father turning his back on him.The moments of sympathy that I felt for him showed just amazing Namgoong Min’s performance was. He gave depth to a character who has reached the point of no return.  He deserves a Best Supporting Actor trophy for this but I hope he won’t get typecast as a psycho villain.

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But if one thinks Namgoong Min takes the best performance out of the cast, there’s still Park Sung Woong who plays charismatic lawyer Park Dong Ho whose fate seemed to have intertwined with Seo Jin Woo’s in the most heartbreaking ways. He is definitely the most interesting character with the way he speaks satoori while strutting in the courtroom in his flamboyant suit that stands out among the usual neutrals. It represents the same way his personality differs from stereotypical lawyers. It’s quite hard to predict what he’ll do next since he’s got all mafia badass, law school knowledge and street smarts altogether.

The acting department is just solid that it somehow made me overlook some plot holes and the unbearable sufferings Jin Woo had go to through.

My gripe is that the female characters are quite underused especially Gyu Man’s sister Yeo Kyung played by Jung Hye Seong. She is playing a prosecutor so I was expecting that there would be a kind of Lee Bo Young-Lee Da Hee (I Can Hear Your Voice) moment between her and In Ah, but well, I expected too much.

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Park Min Young still has bits of Chae Young Shin (Healer) in her since she can do plucky characters really well. Seo Jin Woo says Lee In Ah is being nosy but she argued that if it weren’t for her meddling, then they wouldn’t have met and they wouldn’t have gone through the good and bad together. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel their romantic chemistry that much. I like them better with the noona-dongsaeng relationship.

Remember: War of the Son broke the 20% ratings in its final episode. I can’t say the ratings is equal to its quality. It speaks mostly about the Korean audience’s preference and I think they go for the makjang type. The whole wrongfully accused father and loss of memories are both overdone. It’s already sad that Jin Woo’s dad had Alzheimer’s, I wish the writer didn’t have to make him have the same disease. As we get closer to Jin Woo clearing his innocent father’s name and taking down the corrupt chaebols, we also get closer to his deteriorating memory. With all the bad things he’s been through, I thought Jin Woo deserved a happier ending than this bittersweet open-ended one.

But then again, regardless of one’s memory, or the absence of it, what matters is that we survived the toughest of times and have touched other people’s lives. We will continue to exist in other people’s memories even when we forget ours. Besides, he didn’t throw his notebook of good memories so I’m pretty sure Jin Woo remembers In Ah and she knows it, as she follows him with a smile.