The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tropical Nights in December

12월의 열대야 / 12 Wolui Yeoldaeya


I requested this one on Mysoju, and it didn't take them long to post, either. I'm so happy that they did! I SOOO lust after Ajushi KIM! Ok, so I guess I actually lust after A LOT of Korean men. But, there is something fascinating about KIM NAM JIN that keeps me coming back for more.


Some Korean dramas take their queues from other stories, like My Lovely Sam-soon was modeled after the movie Bridget Jones' Diary, and TNID is unabashedly modeled after Cinderella. They even made sure to have Young-sim's children watch a video of Cinderella, and she read the story to her little girl, too.

Young-sim's hairstyle made me think about Audrey Hepburn's character in Sabrina (starring Humphrey Bogart)

This was good!!! I mean, it was worth watching, it had an interesting plot, and the characters drew me in almost immediately! I was hooked on this show from the first episode, and though I had issues with VEOH a few times, it all worked out and I was able to watch TNID in it's entirety.

I'd like to throttle the idiot that thought to use YELLOW subtitles at the very end, though!!!

Speaking of the end ... WTF? Leave it to Korean writers to NEVER fail in their efforts to PISS ME OFF!!! How can you dare to put your name on things like this? How can you write such FABULOUS work, and then CHUCK IT at the very end?
Damn it, I wanted to see Young-sim in PARIS, taking the lifetime trip that her love could not. I wanted to see TEN YEARS LATER (the time that Ji-hwan took to destroy his doting wife's life) when estranged husband & wife reconcile! For crying out loud, couldn't you AT LEAST have sent her up to GOLDEN MOUNTAIN to spread his ashes?

As touching, moving, and spell-binding as this drama was for me, it stunned me to have not shed tears when Park Jung-woo died. Maybe it was the late night hour that made me too tired? I knew that he'd pass, so I wasn't surprised? It could have been because the entire DRAMA caused me to shed tears that I had little left to offer our poor, forlorn hero at the bitter-sweet end? I may never know.

If Ji-hwan was to ask that his wife think about his feelings ONE MORE TIME, I probably would have sent a heavy object through the computer screen. It's that male chauvinist attitude that makes me want to SCREAM while pulling out my own, precious hair. How can you frickin' look in a MIRROR, let alone ask something so asinine? And yet, toward the end of the show, I began to root for this guy, and I honestly hoped that young-sim would return to her husband. I truly believe in forgiving mistakes, and even those as insurmountable as the one that he made.

NO ONE is as resilient or unbreakable as young-sim, I'm afraid. NO ONE can take the kind of abuse that she did for a WEEK, let alone ten years. It would have made more sense to have the marriage three or five years old, and not ten. And the father-in-law's sudden CHIVALRY toward the end left me feeling quite confused. Ten years later, and you're just NOW going to voice an opinion about your bitch-hag of a wife's cruel and unusual treatment toward one of your daughter's-in-law? WHY? Why the sudden change in attitude, when for ten LONG years, you let it happen? See, three years would have fit better, not TEN.

I'm pretty sure the EVER-PRESENT MESSAGE in this particular drama was that to get married young (like 20 is too young to wed), to have pre-marital sex (there it is again!), and to show fidelity toward the family had to be driven home SOMEHOW.

I really, truly liked this drama, and despite it's flaws, I will probably watch it again some day. Can anyone explain the title to me, though? I know they met in August, and that it was supposed to be hot at the time (though their clothing didn't indicate anything of the sort). What was so tropical, or even WARM about this drama?

Do you suppose they had sex before he died? Implied or otherwise, I can never tell for sure with these Korean dramas unless I actually see them between the sheets.

Jumong ~ The Book of Three Han

삼한지-주몽 편 (三韓志-朱蒙篇) / Samhanji-Jumong Pyeon

The first time that I ever saw Song Il-Koo was when I watched Sea God (Emperor of the Sea). DAMN was I impressed! He's really incredible to look at, to listen to, and to DREAM about.

So, when I heard about Jumong, I bought the entire DVD set and waited anxiously for it to arrive. I promised myself not to compare it with Sea God, and I swore to enjoy Jumong as much as I did Emperor, too. I knew that I had to reserve judgment until the very end, but I'm sorry ... half-way through Jumong, I grew increasingly disappointed. I spent good money on a mediocre story, and that made me sad. I should have bought my own DVD of Emperor instead.

Jumong had it's good points, and the story was interesting, but I should have watched it PRIOR to Emperor of the Sea and not AFTER. Jumong was cool, and Hamosu was as bad-ass as they come. Whenever anyone says that Korean dramas tend to repeat themselves within a story, JUMONG must be what they are talking about. Sigh.

Let's look at more pictures, shall we?

The ending pissed me off the most. A majority of the second-half of this 81-episode drama was about Jumong's pathetic wife having to survive in order to save their son. We see her try to escape the palace numerous times, until she eventually succeeds. Then, during the last, few episodes, the boy has grown to a young man, and his mother is deathly ill. THE END!


I know that Kingdom of the Wind is the sequel to Jumong, and that it's about Jumong's son's life. I hope to see it some day, but I won't waste my money on the DVDs, that's for sure. How could they end such an epic piece the way that they did? Who gives a flying f*^# about Sosunna leaving with her sons to live in the south of Korea?? Jumong appeared to be larger than life a majority of this drama, and then ... he just dies? Wait, he didn't die, it was just mentioned at the end of the drama. I'm still shaking my head in dismay MONTHS after having watched.


Hwangtaejaui Cheotsarang - Prince's First Love

황태자의 첫사랑 / Hwang-tae-ja-ui Cheot-sa-rang / First Love of the Prince / A Prince's First Love

Now, I'll be honest and admit that the only reason I watched this drama was because it starred KIM NAM JIN ~ to me, the FINEST looking Korean Male Actor on the PLANET. Now, I didn't say that he's the greatest actor, that's he's the most-popular actor, or even that I'm madly in love with him. I said he's the FINEST LOOKING KOREAN MALE ACTOR ON THE FACE OF THIS PLANET.

the Face, the Bod, the Eyes, and the Voice ... Ajushi KIM has got it goin' ON!

The title of this drama gave away the ending, and because of my prejudice against him, I did not like, I did not WANT to like the Prince (Cha Tae Hyun). When he did the skit in drag (he makes a damn, fine woman!) I had to change my opinion of him, though.

As MOST Korean dramas go, this one tended to drag on in places, and I'm sorry, but the female lead, (Sung Yu Ri) is pretty, but VERY annoying. She's too girly for the parts they give her, and the way that she constantly bites down on her lower lip makes me want to SMACK her.

I knew it would be too much to ask to see Ajushi KIM with a bared chest, or in a bathing suit, too. The first time that I ever saw him, was when I watched 1,000 Years of Love, and he was half-naked LOTS of times! Yippee!

Prince's First Love was a good story, though. As long as I can stare at Oppa KIM, who cares what else is going on? I spent a majority of the time pausing the screen to take pictures of him, and this is my favorite:

I bet you'll never guess WHY, either!

My only REAL complaint is that they used unprofessional foreigners to portray ENGLISH-SPEAKING tourists or hosts. Is it nepotism, or do the studio executives just pull white people off the street and ask them to play these characters for chump change?? I hope "I" get that lucky when I visit Korea!! At least I'd speak proper ENGLISH for them!

Here's another favorite of Ajushi Kim:

Prince's First Love is worth watching for the breath-taking scenery, Kim Nam Jin, and the pretty theme music. I might watch it again, in the dead of winter, when I'm so OVER the cold & snow that I want to run away to a tropical locale and become a hermit that lives on the beach.

Here Comes Ajumma

As an amateur writer, I know the difficulties faced when trying to include too many characters into the same plot. Ajumma was bouncing all OVER the place, and frankly, I lost interest. AND because I knew that the story was REALLY about a housewife that gave up her life for her family, only to be kicked in the ass for her efforts. Na-Onim's story was eerily parallel to mine, and after six years of trying to recover from my own divorce, I didn't think that it would be wise to watch my past play out on-screen. Later on, though, I figured that I was not giving the show a chance.

162 episodes is a lot to ask of even the most LOYAL of Hallyu fans, don't you think? I came in at episode 12, gave up that day, and returned at episode 36, which equals 9, and that's a lucky number.

No one yelled when I watched it the second time either, but Na-Onim still had tears in her eyes a majority of the time.

The first time I watched, she was trying to help the rich, spineless boy (Woo-Chan) lie to his overbearing father. The second time, she was trying to help him and his GORGEOUS buddy become friends again. It became obvious early on that the writer wanted everyone to feel sorry for her because she married an asshole who treated her like crap and then dumped her for another woman (my past).

By the time that the bitchy show host began to crack up under the overwhelming pressure of her evil ways, I became extremely interested in the final outcome of Ajumma.

Lee Pil-mo, who portrayed the spoiled, oppressed executive WooChan, is NOT a bad-looking guy. Nice eyes and hair, but he's got that Ken doll image that turns me off.

His friend though, Jeun Suk something? (Yi Byeong Uk). THAT guy was FAB to look at through episode 162!

And excuse me, but did JeunSuk (Yi Byeong Uk) tell the director that he had a son at home that'd be ideal for the part? That was HIS kid, and no one can tell me otherwise. They looked like Dr. Evil & Mini Me!

The mother's-in-law CARRIED that show, too! What a terrific pair on-screen! Ajumma's mom is probably the person that I turned out to be, but her mother-in-law is the person I once was, and still find myself acting like on occasion. And, I could NOT believe it when they killed off the show host bitch, only to bring in another, heartless piece of work that had the same idea to bring Onim down. My head was SPINNING for awhile.

Did I feel sorry for Onim's ex husband toward the end? I'll be honest. The first time that he appeared on-screen, I was taken aback. What? An ugly Korean actor? Impossible! Aren't ALL Korean male actors like, dreamy, walking billboards for sex? But honestly, he grew on me with time, and I started to feel attracted to him in a Sam Lee sort of way. And yes, I cried like a baby when his daughter found that video camera, and they watched him on television.

Everything that happened to Na-Onim BEFORE her divorce happened to me, but that's where the similarities end. He walked out on me, I had a miscarriage, lost a job, the house, and my last, shred of dignity. I never had any hot, rich dudes after my sorry ass ... and it's not likely that I ever will. I haven't got her talent, her drive, or her determination to succeed in life, and I'll never appear on television, get a book published, or make enough money to live the comfortable life, either. It's TV, it's fictitious, and it's unrealistic, which gives me hope, I think. Hope that my dead-end, loveless, lonely, boring, and poor lifestyle will be enough to survive? I don't know, but I did know that watching Ajumma would make me think ... and that's something I try very hard NOT to do anymore.

커피프린스 1호점 / The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince

First, let me begin by saying that the leading man, Gong Yoo, is not that bad an actor. As far as his LOOKS go ... eh! He's not ugly, and I don't think that he's particularly handsome, either. As with most Korean dramas, if the show is hot, then it means the little girls are going to fall for the leading man REGARDLESS.

Maybe I've got that backwards, who knows. For me, if the GUY is hot, then I'm going to watch the drama REGARDLESS of the content. And since no one thinks like me, it stands to reason that ... whatever.

Unfortunately for Oppa Gong, Lee Sun Gyun (1,000 Years of Love) captured my immediate attention the minute that he opened his mouth and I heard that deep, syrupy voice (sexy). And then, when Kim Jae Wook (the pancake guy) showed up, it was over for me!

Since this is about television, and drama at that, my shallow, sucker-for-a-pretty-face mentality is to be expected. It's not like I watch these things to LEARN anything, or come away feeling smarter for having viewed.

Now, with regards to the story, First Love of a Coffee Prince did not impress me much, and I still feel a bit cheated with the way that it ended. Still, I give the writers high marks for their brilliant decision to include middle-aged romance in the plot.

I know that it's fantasy, but after watching these shows for so many years, I've developed some pretty, unrealistic views about the Korean way of life! To me, it seems that anyone over the age of 25 is entirely useless!

Let's hope, for those of us past our prime, that it is not true at all.

내 이름은 김삼순 / My Lovely Sam-soon

My Name is Kim Sam-soon (Nae Il-eum-eun Kim Sam-soon)

This was one of the dramas that I recorded every night, and then rushed home from work the next day to watch. I had already begun to collect images of Hyun Bin before I saw Sam-soon, and I had NO IDEA that it was the same guy, honest.

I was in love with THIS dude ...

THIS is rock/porn star material, and I really, REALLY liked what I was seeing! As I sat through each episode of Sam-soon though, my opinion of Mr. Hyun began to change. The more of his images that I began to collect, the more that opinion changed again, until finally I came to the sad conclusion that he is not my ideal guy anymore.

THIS is hot ...

THIS is not

I loved My Lovely Sam-soon! I thought that it was well written and superbly executed. It even actually ended the way that I expected it to, and not with a wimper or a HUH?

For a welcome change, it was HE that annoyed me a majority of the time, and not SHE. Sam-soon was cool, realistic, and charming in a mopey sort of way. The anorexic girl has a pretty face, but that was it for me. I'm sure she's just as anorexic in real-life, and that is just gross.

Daniel Henney surprised me in the looks department, but as an actor, he leaves much to be desired. I need to see something else that he's starred in to form a different opinion. If I'm not mistaken, that was his first role, yes? Maybe he's taken acting classes since then. It'd be great if he stuck to modeling, because that way I could collect more of his images!

It's also good to know that he and Hyun are friends off-screen. They make a dynamic duo, and I hope that they will appear together in more dramas. Their cell phone commercials were hilarious, btw.

The stuffed, pink pig was totally cool.

고맙습니다 / Thank You

우리들이 있었다 / We Were There / There We Were

Chinese title : 谢谢

On a scale of one to ten, one being normal and ten being an entire box of tissues, this drama gets a ten. Nowhere NEAR Tokyo Tower 2007 in the tear-jerker department. I still can't bear to order cheeseburgers from McDonalds, either. Just driving PAST a McDonalds makes me choke up!

This was an EXCELLENT piece of work, and I hope that it did anything to wake up the people in that part of the world, too.

Honestly, I can't say anything bad about this drama! As a rule, I tend to shy away from shows with little children as the star. I make a sour face whenever I see little children on display in posters. A majority of the time, they are annoying, and their acting skills make me queasy. Especially when the directors INSIST on over-doing the cutesy shit that drives me insane. Spring (Suh Shin Ae) is adorable, and not at all syrupy-sweet YUCK, either. She carried that show, and I hope that she received the equivalent of an oscar for her performance, too.

Mr. Lee. What can I say about an adorable old man that lost his marbles and lives like a three-year-old? For us, choco-pie became synonymous with "I'm hungry" for awhile. I knew he had to die, but I didn't want to see it happen, and when it did, I wept like I did at my own Dasha's funeral.

Oh dear ... I do have a complaint. The ending. Is it just my imagination, or did the writers run out of steam? For something as incredible as Thank You, I expected a whole, lot more than what they gave us, didn't you? Passionate sex, two more off-spring running around. SOMEthing ... ANYthing but what they chose to do with the end of that drama.

Jang Hyuk is a total FOX, and I likened his character to House (Hugh Laurie). The hottest guy on the block though, was Shin Sung Rok. Wow! My personal image gallery grows deeper by the drama!