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.

 

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