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The List 2012: Best Actress

10 Jan

Finally! My list for Best Actress this year!

Finalists:

Kim Jung Eun was so good at laying out the broken pieces of this housewife in Oohlala Spouses but let’s keep her away from playing guy characters in the future, okay? Ha Ji Won is her usual athletic self in The King 2 Hearts but she is so good at playing up Hang Ah’s girly dreams at the same time as her military roots. Jung Ryeo Won is funny and just great as a naïve screenwriter in The King of Dramas. Kim Hee Sun keeps the romance alive while Lee Min Ho stands there looking pretty in Faith.

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The Lists 2012: Best Actor

10 Jan

Note: There were so many actors who made it on versions of my top 5 favorite actors that I could hardly leave mentioning any of them. But this was a great year for lead actors, who always get the best roles in Korean dramas. Ask me again another day and I might change the order and the people in my top 5. But today, these are my five favorites this year.

Finalists:

Ji Hyun Woo is intelligent, kind, special, and just plain adorable in Queen In Hyun’s Man. Kim Myung Min delivers a typically splendid performance as a perfectionist and narcissistic drama producer in The King of Dramas. Lee Jun Ki is one half of the most adorable couple on TV this past year with his intelligent and totally loveable magistrate in Arang and the Magistrate. Gong Yoo’s heartbreaking and hilarious performance is the best and possibly only good thing about Big. Kim Soo Hyun delivers a deeply felt and moving take on a King hung up on his first love in The Moon that Embraces the Sun. Sung Joon is naturalistic but super charismatic as the lead singer in Shut Up! Flower Boy Band.

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The Lists 2012: Best Supporting Actress

10 Jan

Here’s my list of my favorite supporting performances by actresses this year!

Finalists:

Han Chae Ah is quite stunning as a foil then an unexpected troubled admirer of the hero in Gaksital. Lee Yoon Ji was remarkably wonderful playing up the troubled psyche of her character’s misfortunes in King 2 Hearts. Hong Soo Hyun was sexy, funny, and smart in History of the Salaryman. Shin So Yool embodied what it means to be a teenager going through the troughs of life in Answer Me 1997.

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The Lists 2012: Best Supporting Actor

10 Jan

Starting off the day with my list of favorite supporting performances from Korean drama this year:

Finalists:

Yoon Woo Jin played his troubled character with such aching vulnerability and tragedy all the way to the end of Arang and the Magistrate. Sung Dong Il was the best dad on any Korean drama this year with this funny and moving take in Answer Me 1997. Kim Bum can do no wrong in my book and he does his perfectly angelic child-like thing in Padam Padam. Hoya is restrained and subtle with a secret in Answer Me 1997.

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Crickets…Dusting Off this Old Thing

10 Jan

Hi there! That took forever to start writing again. But that’s what happens when life takes over. When I say life, I mean schoolwork. Three writing-heavy classes including one giant 24-page research paper, a language class that takes a lot of time, and Accounting makes for a very busy schedule. On top of that, I had to make time for friends and other responsibilities that drove me nuts all semester long. but here I am afresh and glad to know that my schedule this semester isn’t as heavy as last semester’s nor is it full of classes that should take like 90% of my time. I am more than hopeful this year that I’ll make time for this blog since I do enjoy writing about what I love.

Speaking of which, I’ve been so out of touch with Korean music that it’s quite embarrassing how little I know about them now. Outside of favorites like BIGBANG (in the form of G-Dragon) and TVXQ (“Catch Me” is sooo good), I haven’t paid attention to any new music since this summer. However, one thing that I did keep in touch with, and gladly too, are the Korean dramas this fall. Therefore, I am more than prepared to make my list of favorite Korean dramas in 2012. Since the Oscar nominations also came out today, I am in the mood for list-making! A favorite tradition of mine regardless of whether or not I write a blog. So I’ll be sharing those by the end of today!

Happy New Year!

Clarence

College Is Here!

13 Sep

Well, if it wasn’t obvious from the lack of activity around these parts, Temi and I are both back at college, which means less time for blogging, more time for party, er, studying.

In an unusual twist, I’ve kept up with my dramas pretty well actually. I am fully caught up with all the dramas I started over the summer and are enjoying most of them thoroughly. So, here are some notes on the dramas that I am currently watching:

Answer Me 1997/ Reply 1997 is still gangbusters in terms of story, acting, and overall production that I can hardly wait until the next episode comes out! (Sadly, at the time of this writing, the last episode will be next week, sniffle*). What really works well are how small-scale the drama is and how tightly constructed its stories are: everything fits a theme but all these themes are patchworks of a bigger quilt that encapsulates the angst and drama of our teenage lives. Plus, I have to give big props to Seo In Guk and Jung Eun Ji who both give splendid performances that fully shape out their characters–they’re not particularly epic roles or overly dramatic roles but the way they’re written is full of rich characterizations. Seo and Jung bring such wonderful texture to these roles and I love them for that.

Meanwhile, Arang and the Magistrate has tremendously upped its stakes and is making a strong claim for what will perhaps be my favorite show of the year, along with Reply 1997 and History of the Salaryman. Not only does it feature one of the most beautiful production designs and cinematography I’ve seen thus far in my K-drama adventures. It’s an all around feast for the eyes, ears, and hearts that feels as real as it is surreal. On top of its achievements sits Shin Mina’s colorful rendering of the heroine as she imbues spunk, spontaneity, and naivete to what is essentially a blank-slate character trying to recover her memories.

Lee Min-Ho’s Faith is a little too political and less epic than I hoped it would be but nevertheless, it is a very well-written show and full of actors whose talents are getting a workout in this show. I love love love the King Gongmin character, and most especially Ryu Duk Hwan’s absolutely enthralling performance. Where the show falters to me is how uncharacteristically unepic it is. Even sageuks built on less thrilling arcs like The Moon Embracing the Sun has made more suspenseful plots than this. Still, it’s a keeper, but less so than the previous two.

To The Beautiful You is just plain stupid as stupid goes in terms of logic but I can’t deny that it is beautiful to look at: the cinematography is topnotch, especially because of the candy-like gloss that helps imbue a sense of innocence and sweetness to the show. Having said that, I can never buy into the actors’ performances here, or maybe I just can’t figure out who is stupid enough to believe that someone as outwardly feminine can convince that many people he’s not a boy is beyond incredulous even by K-drama standards. Lee Hyun Woo is a hoot though, the only character that I stay watching for. He’s genuinely adorable and charmingly irresistible.

Haeundae Lovers has lost its magic hold on me if only because it seems so conventionally built and its believability has since been tarnished by the ludicrous nature of Tae-Sung’s run-ins with his wife, the tired cliches that the writers have built on (birth secrets, anyone?), and the tiresome energy from Joon-Hyuk. It’s like watching a freight train slowly approaching you. Why I do watch the show still is to witness the blossoming relationship between Tae-Sung and Sora. They’re such a cute couple together that everything seems quite right when they’re together, even if the story flails a little.

Although I’m a little behind on Five Fingers, of the episodes I’ve seen, Cheo Shi Ra gives a stunning performance of a mother whose tightly coiled anger and bitterness is hidden behind an exterior of maternal affection for a child borne from a mistress of his husband. Hers is a beautiful performance, but I’m a little biased because I love watching women going through issues onscreen. Nevertheless, she is a wonderful presence on this show, which is nicely written and soundtracked. I admit that I’m a makjang fan, if only because I love how chaotic the storylines are while at the same time there is a narrative throughline that connects all the makjang elements.

 

What I Like About Haeundae Lovers

9 Aug

With the Olympics ending this weekend (OH THANK GOD, I THOUGHT I’D DIE FROM LACK OF NEW DRAMA EPISODES) and one of the more exciting premiere weeks this year coming up next week (Arang and Faith are both heavily anticipated dramas with Five Fingers up there too), I took a detour into Haeundae Lovers. Whether or not I actually stay for the whole ride is a different story.

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