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

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Miss Ripley

2011 16-episode MBC melodrama loosely based (or otherwise) on the real life of Shin Jeong ah, a university professor and art curator at Dongguk University, who forged her credentials in order to get hired - and some guy she was having sex with at the time.

Let me just begin by admitting right here and now that it isn't often I'm left speechless - at a veritable loss for words - when it comes to blogging about what I've just finished watching online.

Truth be told, I'm having great difficulty trying to remember if there ever was such a time in the history of this blog.

I can't, even rate this one ... hence the two, cute dragons that oppose one another. Sorry, but it was the best I could come up with.

There are so many things wrong here ... SO many things.

I suppose I could start with Who I Loved ... but that doesn't even begin to cover such a vast array of all the WTF going on inside my head after nearly 12 hours since I finished watching the 16th and final episode.

Quoting from The Korea Herald
... It was after this character (Matt Damon's Tom Ripley) that the condition Ripley’s Syndrome was christened, and it is in heroine Jang Mi ri, that the syndrome ― which refers to a psychological condition where the patient builds a delusional fantasy based on lies ― may manifest itself, albeit on a much less severe scale.
This isn't so bad. I like scandal, gossip, and mayhem in general. I adore the fact that there are real people in the world who try bucking the system, and most importantly, get away with it for any length of time. That doesn't mean I like to find out that someone without the proper credentials just performed brain surgery, though.

What has me so perplexed and stymied are the constant mixed messages, the lying subtitles (in the drama), and the blame-game that went on from start to finish in Miss Ripley.

I couldn't stand it that this heartless Shang nyun, Shibalnyun, amkae, Hua-nyang-nyon (because even when trying to locate a simple cuss word online, I'm left with unreliable choices - and yet this somehow sums up the way I feel after having watched Miss Ripley-) treated my man, Kim Seung woo as Jang Myung hoon ~ the so-called man behind the whole, sordid situation ~ this way.

When I watch dramas of this caliber, I expect them to be that way start to finish and not be left dangling here and there and made to wonder what the HELL is going on simply because the asshole rejects at the Viki sub shop are actually ten-year-olds in training.

Was she BUYING cigarettes or SELLING them when she met the guy who ended up stealing the show and everyone's thunder with his stellar performance?

Kim Jung tae as Hirayama

Dude didn't even receive top billing and yet he was the only credible, believable character in the lot. He received a PD Award for this performance, but I have no idea what the hell that is or even means. I just hope it was huge enough to make Jung tae smile and puff up a little. He deserves more.

How is it possible that I appreciated Jung tae's performance more than I did Kim Seung woo's?

And while I'm on it, how can a guy like Seung woo make me feel the way I do about him? If he wasn't a star would I give him the time of day? Probably not. Yet, despite his NOT being mega-hot in the glam, flam, KPop Fan limelight, the dude has got it going ON and draws me to him with his amazing magnetic presence/personality/capabilities ... whatever.

Another thing ... I was made to actually root for these people in the first, few episodes. I thought that she deserved a break and he deserved one, too. I thought that they were great together, had chemistry, a spark, and that it should STAY THAT WAY for the duration.

Then came the plot twist that wasn't, and I started to and will continue to refer to this particular Miss Ripley as amkae because it's what she is and that was the word I got using a translator and not a stupid website filled with ten ways to say a single word like shit or damn.

She was a heartless bitch, alright? The minute she turned her back on my Seung woo it was over for her.

Now, it isn't as if I am brand new to the Korean way of life, thinking, love, and domineering family traits. From a purely drama-speak standpoint, I know, but then don't think I haven't met people from that part of the globe (in real life, living color, etc.) because I have - and shocked and dismayed as I may be about it - there really isn't too much different about real life and some (I said SOME) of the things that go on in these dramas.

Adoption, familial status, and income to name a few.

Like ... Miss Ripley's mother was a flight attendant, right? So, what, do they make .30 cents an hour or something? A flight attendant lives in a hovel over there? Why? Why do these seemingly wealthy people working at seemingly or so-called glam professions always have to scrimp and save and work their asses off just to get by over there? Seriously. A flight attendant, and she can't, even support herself or her child? Really.

I had a buddy who took forEVER to tell me that his mother was divorced and working as a cabby in Seoul. When I told him it sounded like a cool job for a woman her age, and that I cared less about the divorce thing, he came undone. He got all agitated and annoyed with me before outright shouting at me about being 'unsympathetic' to his and her plights, not to mention the fact that the job was dangerous for her since she worked the night shift.

Wait ... how can Seoul's night shift in any way compare with Detroit's ... any time of the day or night shift? You want to talk about dangerous? Bring it, pal!

Of course I didn't go that far, kept it in my head, and let him rant because I knew he was homesick and just this side of drunk. LOL

He also said he'd marry me, too, and then he hooks up with someone his MOTHER preferred, via arrangement, and he was suddenly back in Korea doing the traditional Korean thing. Because that's just how it goes.

There are so many WRONGS here that will never make a RIGHT.

Cute girl was the only one with some semblance of decency and brains that made it just NOT seem possible to me that an entire group (or race) of people could collectively agree on things so ignorant, stereotypical, and biased.

When, exactly, DID paper become the dominating force in life?
Married? Here's the paper. Smart? Here's the paper! Ignorant as ssibal? Yeah, I got that one right here, in my back pocket.

Injustice keeps coming to mind, and I think that might be why I had such a hard time trying to like or even understand this drama. This made-up-for-drama's-sake story supposedly loosely based on actual events.

Maybe if they had just decided to stick to the facts and make a drama based on Shin Jung ah's journey I'd have enjoyed it more?

I mean, c'mon, people! Did anyone else who watched this start to think that it wasn't humanly possible for a guy like Park Yoo chun as Yutaka / Song Yoo hyun to be real? And, again, it is entirely likely that his character was destroyed thanks in part to the genius crew at Viki for having him go on, and on, and on, AND ON about philosophical eongteoli time after time?

Give me a break.

Did she freakin' attend Tokyo U or was it Shin Jung ah's fake Alma Mater, Dongguk University? Again, the subbers tended to vacillate between the two whenever the mood struck, making me all the more confused.

And, is it a censor thing over there, or is being a bar maid, playing the flute in a bar, or being a hostess with the mostest yet NOT actually having sex with the clientele a sin? Was I supposed to just assume that she was actually a hooker, but because of censorship, I read subtitles that hinted at it being overly naughty to work at such a place even if you're NOT actually playing pin the tale with the clients?

So then, would it be safe to assume that working in a pub, even, is as sinful as being, oh, I don't know, a whore? Is sleeping around without getting paid or wanting to have sex with a guy because he's rich any different from a professional sex worker who gets paid to do the same thing?

I played the flute, I worked in a bar (out front, actually, serving tables), and I knew a few girls who danced to pay for college. If I had been brave like them, I would have done the same thing and not spent three years trying to pay off college loan debt, but whatever.

Was it the subbers or the drama that gave me the impression our poor Miss Ripley went from asking if she could sell cigarettes in the bar to playing flute for the guests?

I'll probably never know, but one things for sure, it's not a nice way to make a living over in Asia.

I will say one thing, though. Regardless of the annoying Matador bullfighting music during every 'Here it comes!' scene, intersperced throughout this bizarre mind-blow fest, there were some AWESOME tunes lurking in the background. Sting and Sigur Ros for example.

The leading Miss Ripley was perpetually 9 (or 10, depending on which of the Viki staff subbed that episode) throughout the drama, but later she was suddenly 15 when she was adopted by ... alcoholic Japanese people who treated her like a slave. 

This isn't the first time I've watched a drama about adoption, leaving me with the uneasy notion that anyone can adopt. If the Japanese couple were that poor and wanting, how were they able to adopt? Where did they get the money? Koreans are capable of keeping adoption records sacred and streets safe from hit & runs with invasive technology, and yet they can't perform a simple background check?

This isn't the first time I've watched a Korean drama that shows some matronly manyeo turn out to be a lowly nothing with no pedigree. If that is the case, then where does she get off snubbing someone from the next generation under the same or similar circumstances? And, excuse me, but if it IS impossible for Korea's caste system to let anyone overstep their social bounds, then how the heck did said manyeo end up becoming a queen in the first place? AND! For crap's sake, if there IS a real, live, working caste system over there, then why are there so many Cinderella dramas being made? Or is it a result of that caste system that the Cinderella story becomes necessary?

And, it looks to me like no one knows what the hell life is about.

Wait ... she lied to him? SHE did?

Wasn't he the dude staying at the 'student dorm' under false pretenses?

Wasn't he the guy who accidentally dumped left-overs on her and fell instantly in love? Or, would that be considered more LUST than love because it was the outward appearance that first drew him to her? Is that love? Does he know his pure mind at that very moment, or might he not be allowing his nether region to dictate his feelings instead?

Stereotypical male-generated eongteoli again. A guy can let his dick do the talking and come out smelling like roses when things go south, but if a woman uses her wiles to get the same results - a man  - this is considered selfish and wrong.

Look gents ... we don't have a dick to tell us what we like, want, desire, need at the moment, crave, etc. So, doesn't it stand to reason that we can only rely on one thing to be as cunning? Yeah, that's right ... it's called a brain. If we're not stupid and decide to use it to get ahead in life, it isn't because we're wily and evil. It's because we want the same things you do. You want a pair of boobs and we want luxury goods, security, love, a life. 


AND! Wasn't Song Yoo hyun also the one who asked his bud to 'cover' (lie) for him so that his real identity wouldn't be revealed until he was 'ready' to? This isn't lying? He wasn't pretending to be someone other than his real self?

Is anyone starting to see why this drama didn't go over with me? LOL

I'm absolutely and totally gobsmacked.

Whoever wrote this gets the first-ever prize awarded for managing to dumbfound, annoy, and dazzle me.


Bottom line:  IF Miss Shin Jung ah was capable of pulling off whatever it was she did as a U curator for so many years, and if she came off as credible, likable, and convincing, then doesn't that say something about the EDUCATION system and degrees in general?

Sure, millions of worthy folk slave away and pay copious amounts for that slip of paper that validates their social and economic worth in this world. I tried to be one of them twice. I have eight years of college - enough to be a full-fledged doctor already. Still, I happen to think I was just as smart prior to entering the hallowed halls of a vine-covered U. Sure, I feel blessed and even smarter now that I'm through - but not having that slip of paper doesn't make me less of a human being, and I sure as hell don't regret one second of either experience, either.

I know me and thousands of others out there are better capable and far more inclined to do hundreds of jobs a billion times better than their paper holding, card carrying counterparts. Which would indicate a flaw in the hiring system, if you ask me, and in no way proof that having a degree makes a person better than those who don't.

Just like having a lot of money gives you the right to abandon your offspring and rip your gold-plated claws into anyone you don't like, or having a third leg gives you the upper hand over those who don't.

I give up, people! This was 16 episodes of holy crap as far as I'm concerned, and what happened to our dear, sweet Jang Myung hoon was inexcusable as much as it was unnecessary on both counts (beginning/end).

I think Jang Mi ri took herself way too seriously as often as she did too lightly, which obviously makes no sense, either.

If you don't give a rat's behind about detail, continuity, fact over fiction, and credibility, and you are in the mood for a little twisted romance and a heaping helping of melodrama, then Miss Ripley is definitely for you.

ONE UP POINT: I will say it now, loud and clear, that of all the Korean actors/actresses who have tried and failed time and again to utter even a few words of English only to fail in a miserable, unschooled, embarrassing ball of fire ... Park Yoo chun NAILED IT! This is probably the first time I've ever not cringed through as much English dialogue as they made him recite, and it was amazing; practically flawless. BRAVO, dude!

And now for the lighter side of why I watch, and as always, the yeppeun ...

 gorgeous, and my favorite time Spring/Fall whenever this weather phenom occurs

 neat lamp

 smart words that managed to leave me sad, thinking it might not be such a bad idea for these two to take another stab at it ... but the real reason I captured was because of the ghost behind him

 ubiquitous yet nice, eh?

 what did dramafever call this? the brooding mirror stare

again, my man is upstaged by another ghost - this one a thousand times more terrifying than the last one, too. Yeesh


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