2

First Impressions: We Broke Up

It’s been a few months since I’ve watched a good Korean drama. The last drama I watched, ‘Temptation’, left A LOT to be desired in my opinion, so I took a break. Watching dramas takes a time committment that I don’t always have, so when I found out that my favorite Korean male vocalist was in a web drama, I was very excited. At around 15 minutes per episode, this little web drama is perfect for getting my Korean drama fix met without taking up too much time!

“We Broke Up”「우리 헤어졌어요」is a YG Entertainment-produced web drama based off of the webtoon of the same name starring WINNER’s Kang Seung-Yoon and 2NE1’s Sandara Park.  It tells the story of the characters who were once in love but have since broken up and are forced to remain living under the same roof.

The drama has the typical Spring drama feel with fresh outside shots, an enjoyable soundtrack and a good cast.

Sandara Park and Kang Seung Yoon’s characters are clearly established in the first episode – you get a sense of their personalities right away. It will be interesting to see how they grow from this point. Also, by the way they set up the story, you’re curious to find out the fate of the relationship as the story progresses, despite the drama’s title.

And to much of the fan’s delight, the drama is released already containing English subtitles – something that is just unheard of! Thank you, YG!

I was pleased with the first couple of episodes so I will be contiuing the story to see what unfolds. I’d definitely recommend it!

Have you been watching “We Broke Up”? What do you think? Share in the comments!

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2

First Impression: Strangers 6

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It’s been a while since I’ve been on the drama bandwagon.  To start, I’m very picky when it comes to what drama I get into – they don’t always suck me in right at the beginning.  If I’m not hooked from the start, it’s difficult for me to stick with it.

So, recently on my quest to try and find a drama to enjoy, I stumbled upon ‘Strangers 6’.  This drama takes place across Asia.  There is a huge threat to the continent and the top forces in China, Japan and Korea respectively have been called upon to work together for the greater good of the land.

What I love about this drama so far is the language diversity.  When I was initially looking for an engaging show to watch, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch a Japanese or Korean drama.  So when I discovered this show, it was all the more enjoyable because I got a great mixture – Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean AND English! And for the most part, the English is good.  Yes, some actors have a better grasp of it than others, but for the most part it’s pleasant.

The most notable English speaker focused in the first few episodes is Chinese actor Gregory Wong.  I so enjoyed his light-hearted yet respectable character in the beginning of this drama, that I learned a bit more about him and even sent my well wishes to him via social media – and got a “thanx!” back from the actor himself in response!!

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The main cast works well together. You’ve got the hunky Korean agent, his cool and at times sassy female partner and the Chinese agent also has his own female partner. Then there’s the Japanese agent – a troubled man currently going through a divorce and the only one who doesn’t have a female counterpart because apparently he can’t be trusted with one.  So he gets a young and meek computer programmer.  He’s a cutie and I’m hoping that at some point he is forced to face something that will turn his meekness into manliness, otherwise, his constant cowering is going to continue to be annoying.

Overall, I love the idea of this drama.  Different cultures combining for the greater good of their respective countries.  And even though they don’t necessarily get along – as individuals and in some cases on a larger political level, they still need to find a way to work together to prevent disaster.

If this sounds like a premise that you can get with, then definitely check out, ‘Strangers 6’.

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2

“My Shinny” – Shin Hyun Joon

Shin Hyun Joon - "Ohlala Couple" 『울랄라 부부』 - KBS2 2012

Shin Hyun Joon 신현준 has been my favorite Korean actor for a very long time.  I’m so happy that he seems to be FINALLY getting the recognition and exposure that he deserves.  I believe he’s one of the most underrated actors in Korea.  He’s extremely talented and able to amazingly convey such an array of emotion.  And although he constantly gets teased about not looking like a native of his homeland (even in interviews going as far as greeting viewers in Arabic to play along with this joke) and would not be put in the same category as other brooding actors, My Shinny always finds a way to use his charm and charisma to keep people’s attention.

Perhaps in a future post I can do the man justice and produce a proper write-up of his career and why he intrigues me so, but in the meantime, I’ll just share a comical interview and preview of his current comedy drama, “Ohlala Couple” 『울랄라 부부』 airing on KBS2.

It put a smile on my face and I just had to share.

Enjoy!

6

“Bad Couple” 「불량커플」 = Bad Comedy?

“Bad Couple” 「불량커플」 - SBS

Hot on the heels of watching the emotional and captivating drama, “Cain and Abel” (「카인과 아벨」) (more on it later – I know I said that before but it will come later, promise!),  I was in need of a carefree comedic drama to lighten my mood get me laughing.

Everywhere I looked said that “Bad Couple” (「불량커플」) was a comedy.  Definitely not an emotion-filled drama where at multiple moments you have to reach for tissues.

The story revolves around Dang Ja, an independent, successful fashion director who has style, a beautiful home and great friends – great married friends with families.  These loving friends want nothing more than for Dang Ja to – say it with me:  “Find a great guy and settle down”.  The husband of one friend is cheating on her so Dang Ja doesn’t take her advice to heart but the other couple are so loving and compatible that at times she thinks that it would be nice to find someone.

“Bad Couple” 「불량커플」 - SBS

One day at a meeting, the idea is pitched to run a story about “Miss Mom” – single women who choose to commit to being a mother but want nothing to do with marriage.  Dang Ja starts to fantasize about how great it would be to have a daughter just like her that she could live with and raise.  Then, she believes, she’ll be truly happy.

“Bad Couple” 「불량커플」 - SBS

Dang Ja’s longing becomes even stronger when she babysits the aforementioned loving couple’s young daughter while they go off on a “consummation evening”.

Now, if ever I wanted to have a Korean daughter or someone ever asked me, “Hey, if you had a Korean daughter, (because everyone asks that) what would you want her to look like?”  Without hesitation, I would know my answer.  I mean, come on.  Look.  At.  Those.  CHEEKS!

“Bad Couple” 「불량커플」 - SBS

“Bad Couple” 「불량커플」 - SBS

So, “Bad Couple” was going swimmingly.  The beginning really hooked me in, loved the idea that she was a stylish career woman, loved that she had good friends.  Then after she was successful in her quest to find the man who would give her the daughter that she craved, that’s where the drama started to lose me.  Turns out Dang Ja’s got some kind of disease.  Of course!  The Koreans always know how to make a good tearjerker but this is supposed to be a COMEDY!

The drama changed course so drastically for me that I actually got mad.  It turned into a melodrama.  I understand that there needs to be some conflict or tension within the plot but for me, it was too drastic.  Such a light and breezy start turned into something heavier than I was expecting.

“Bad Couple” 「불량커플」 - SBS

It took a little time but I did get used to the new tone that was set for the story and was able to endure it until the end.  After all was said and done, I was satisfied by the way they wrapped up the story.  Had I known what to expect, I would have been happier with the whole package.

Now, I will be very cautious when I see “comedy” listed under another drama.  Then again, perhaps I haven’t watched enough Korean comedies to know what to expect.

“Bad Couple” 「불량커플」 - SBS

2

Helllooo, Nurse! Eye-catching performances on “Phantom” 「유령」

"Phantom" 「유령」 - SBS

As I continue to watch the Korean drama ‘Phantom’, (「유령」), mentioned in a previous post here and as I impatiently wait for the preempted finale to air (thanks, Olympics), I’ve been introduced to a few actors who are new on my radar screen.

First, Choi Daniel, (최다니엘).  As soon as he uttered his first words of dialogue in the first episode I asked myself, “WHO.  IS.  THAT??”  He didn’t have to do much to impress me.  Something about him was intriguing and as the episode moved along, I knew he was going to be a big part of making the drama a must-see.  I was right.

Choi Daniel 최다니엘 - SBS

Choi Daniel 최다니엘 - SBS

Next, Im Ji Kyu, (임지규).  First of all, LOVE the name – Ji Kyu – as in “GQ” – am I the only one giggling at that? Yes? Okay, moving on.  I didn’t notice much about him at the beginning of the drama but as the plot developed, he began to hold his weight and started to show some charm.  As my sis always says, “You always like the skinny ones.”  That, I do.  And as long as they weigh more than I, we’re good.

Im Ji Kyu 임지규 - SBS

Im Ji Kyu 임지규 - SBS

Finally, an honorable mention – Kwak Do Won, (곽도원).  Honorable mention because he doesn’t exactly fit into my “Helllooo, Nurse!” category but his performance in the drama is great.  In the beginning he rubs you the wrong way, impedes progress and is just plain annoying.  But after a while, he slowly becomes endearing and you start to root for him.

Kwak Do Won 곽도원 - SBS

Kwak Do Won 곽도원 - SBS

All these new-to-me actors  have impressed me and I’ve already eyed some of their previous projects and put them on my list for the next drama/movie-watching event.

It’s definitely going to continue to be a Korean kinda summer!

"Phantom" 「유령」 - SBS

2

~  The Love of Language  ~ 日本語 vs. 한글

Japanese vs. Korean, 日本語 vs. 한글

Um, excuse me, Korean, but Japanese is supposed to be my current language focus, thank you.

With my recent venture back into the Korean drama scene, I’ve found myself learning more Korean than Japanese these days.

But who says you can’t learn both at the same time, right? In fact, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

I can actually already speak very little Korean.  I can ask for your name, tell you mine; say hello and good bye (cue the Shinee song), exclaim that something tastes delicious and answer the phone as well as apologize and say thank you.  And then my favorite:  telling an old friend, “Long Time, No See”.   So it’s no wonder that I seem to be adding to my mental language dictionary by watching dramas that seem to only enhance the learning process.

JapJapanese vs. Korean, 日本語 vs. 한글

For example when watching any show – dramatic or comedic in any language, when someone is surprised or can’t believe what they’ve heard, many times they’ll exclaim, “What?!”; “What are you talking about?” or “What’s that supposed to mean?”; “Where are you going?!”.  I can now proudly utter these phrases in Korean without hesitation thanks to the constant repetitive use of them.  Talk about learning!  The great part about watching dramas with subtitles is that every time such expressions are uttered, it’s usually the same phrase or a variation of it. So after a while, you start to learn the designated phrase for each expression.  It’s so much fun to know what a character is going to say before they say it, then say it out loud with them and then rejoice at the fact that you knew the phrase!  Or am I the only one who does that happy dance?

Historical issues aside, for me there sometimes is a conflict between learning Japanese and Korean just for the mere fact that I enjoy both.  Both languages bring a different atmosphere and emotion to the table.

So, I’ll continue to dabble in both worlds for as long as it is enjoyable and beneficial to do so.  And it seems that as long as there are great dramas from which to learn, then the learning will always continue – no matter what!

2008 Japanese Drama "Oh My Girl!!" 「オー!マイ・ガール!!」 - NTV

2009 Korean Drama "Cain and Abel" 「카인과 아벨」 - SBS

8

오랜만이다 Long Time, No See: So Ji Sub

So Ji Sub 소지섭 - "Phantom" 「유령」 - SBS

I recently got sucked into a new drama currently airing on SBS staring Korean heartthrob So Ji Sub 소지섭.

I fell in love with So Ji Sub’s acting when I saw the 2009 drama “Cain and Abel”, (「카인과 아벨」), which is my #1 Korean drama to date.  Everything about that drama was amazing and I have yet to watch another that even comes close to having the same impact.  More on “Cain and Abel” at a later date.

In “Phantom” 「유령」, So Ji Sub portrays  Kim Woo Hyun, the leader of the Cyber Investigation Squad in Seoul.  He is a mild-mannered and sometimes seemingly cold detective who is determined to discover the identity of a notorious hacker as well as other unsuspecting criminals.  Woo Hyun is not completely innocent, though, as it seems that he may have some secrets of his own.

I’ve not yet finished this drama but as I watch I can’t help but feel the nostalgia of when I was in the midst of watching “Cain and Abel”.  The anticipation I feel when watching:  wondering what’s going to be the result of someone’s actions, guessing how someone’s going to react to a conversation and just plain trying to figure out who is good and who can’t be trusted is an indicator that the storyline is pretty good.

So Ji Sub 소지섭 - "Cain and Abel" 「카인과 아벨」 - SBS

I’m a fan of So Ji Sub as an actor – everything else he does, however, doesn’t really interest me.  He’s a model, a coffee shop owner, a recording artist and as of recently just signed a contract to work in the Chinese industry.

No doubt he’s a handsome man.  Ok, he’s hot.  But his-what I like to describe as-over-brooding and what comes across to me as forced-smoldering poses leaves a lot to be desired (that constant furrowed brow).  I like something a little more natural and charming.  I prefer his characters and the way in which he portrays them.  It is a true testament to how talented an actor is when they can take on a whole different persona from their own and perform convincingly.

So, I’d like to welcome So Ji Sub back to the drama world.  It’s the first time in a while that I’ve been inspired to stay and watch him again.

So Ji Sub 소지섭 - "Phantom" 「유령」 - SBS