[2007]

  1. [2007] BÁC SĨ BONG DAL-HEE - SURGEON BONG DAL HEE - LEE YO-WON, LEE BEOM-SOO, KIM MIN-JOON VÀ OH YOON-AH - BAEKSANG ART AWARDS 2007 BEST NEW DIRECTOR, MOST POPULAR ACTOR (LEE BEOM-SOO) 
  2. [2007] BÍ MẬT TÒA THÁP TRẮNG (BEHIND THE WHITE TOWER) - KIM MYEONG-MIN, LEE SEON-GYUN, CHA IN-PYO, SONG SEON-MI - BAEKSANG ART AWARDS 2007 BEST DIRECTOR 
  3. [2007] CÔ BẠN GÁI ĐA NHÂN CÁCH - TWO FACES OF MY GIRLFRIEND - JUNG RYE WON, BONG TAE KYU 
  4. [2007] CÔ DÂU VÀNG - GOLDEN BRIDE - LEE YOUNG AH, HONG EUN HEE, KIM HEE CHUL, HAN YU WOON, SONG CHANG UI, CHOI YU JIN, SONG JONG HO 
  5. [2007] CUỘC CHIẾN KIM TIỀN - WAR OF MONEY - PARK JIN HEE, PARK SHIN YANG - SBS DRAMA AWARDS 2007 GRAND PRIZE 
  6. [2007] ĐỘI ĐẶC NHIỆM H.I.T - H.I.T - KO HYUN JUNG, HA JUNG WOO
  7. [2007] LÝ SANG PHONG BA CHỐN CUNG ĐÌNH - YI SAN KING JEONG JO - HAN JI MIN, LEE SEO JIN, PARK EUN HYE - BAEKSANG ART AWARDS 2008 BEST DIRECTOR
  8. [2007] MÙA XUÂN ĐẠT TỬ - DAL JA'S SPRING - CHAE RIM, LEE MIN KI
  9. [2007] QUÁN CAFE HOÀNG TỬ - COFFEE PRINCE - YOON EUN-HYE, GONG YOO 
  10. [2007] THÁI VƯƠNG TỨ THẦN KÝ - THE LEGEND - BAE JONG JUN, LEE JI AH 
  11. [2007] TÌNH NGANG TRÁI - BAD LOVE - KWON SANG WON, LEE YO WON 
  12. [2007] TRÁI TIM NHÂN ÁI - NEW HEART - JI SUNG, KIM MIN JUNG, JO JAE HYUN, LEE JI HYUN - MBC DRAMA AWARDS 2007 TOP EXCELLENT ACTOR (JI SUNG) 

 Coffee Prince
#274 Highest Rated
QUÁN CAFE HOÀNG TỬ - Coffee Prince 
Korean Drama - 2007, 17 episodes

 8.4

A tomboy is mistaken for a young man, but maintains the deception for the sake of employment. The situation is complicated when her male boss begins to develop feelings for this "boy".

 Thank You
#378
Cám ơn - Thank You 
Korean Drama - 2007, 16 episodes

 8.3

Dr. Min Ki Seo went to Blue Island to fulfill his deceased girlfriend's last wish to find the single mother and her little girl who was infected by HIV and to apologize to them on her behalf as she had unknowingly given…

http://tvhay.org/cam-on/

 Time Between Dog and Wolf
#393
Thời khắc của chó và sói - Time Between Dog and Wolf 
Korean Drama - 2007, 16 episodes

 8.3

After his mother is brutally murdered in front of him by the Thai criminal syndicate Cheongbang, Lee Soo Hyun is adopted into NIS agent Kang Jung Ho's family. Together with Kang Min Gi, Jung Ho's son, Soo Hyun becomes…

http://vietsubtv.com/phim-tinh-va-han-3327.html

 Yi San
#495
LÝ SANG PHONG BA CHỐN CUNG ĐÌNH - Yi San 
Korean Drama - 2007, 77 episodes

 8.2

This drama details the life of King Jeongjo, Joseon's 22nd monarch, who is remembered in Korean history as one of Korea's greatest kings, one who loved the people and reigned for the commoner.

 The Legend
#536
THÁI VƯƠNG TỨ THẦN KÝ - The Legend 
Korean Drama - 2007, 24 episodes

 8.1

This drama portrays the life of the 19th king of Goguryeo, Hwanwoong, who was sent from the heavens to make the world a better place. He falls in love with Saeoh and gives her the joojak necklace; however, Kajin becomes…

 Lucifer
#795
Lucifer 
Korean Drama - 2007, 20 episodes

 7.9

When Homicide Detective Kang Oh Soo hit a dead end in his investigation of two seemly unrelated murders, except for the Tarot cards left behind at both crime scenes, he sought help from Seo Hae In, a woman with Token-object…

 Flowers for My Life
#928
Flowers for My Life 
Korean Drama - 2007, 16 episodes

 7.8

Having grown up in a funeral home, Ha Na is immune to the range of human emotion. Money is the only thing she really loves. One day she comes up with a scheme: She’ll find a terminally ill guy who also happens to be…

 Evasive Inquiry Agency
#982
Evasive Inquiry Agency 
Korean Drama - 2007, 16 episodes

 7.8

Moo Yeol is a taekwondo instructor who falls for Eun Jae at first sight when she comes and asks him to help her find gold treasures at the agency. Hee Kyung is a tarot card master and Yong Soo is a manhwa shop owner…

 New Heart
#1084
Trái tim nhân ái - New Heart 
Korean Drama - 2007, 23 episodes

 7.7

This drama is about the pride and frustration of cardiac surgeons on the job. Lee Eun Sung graduated from a newly established medical school in the southern province and not from an elite one like the Hwang Hee University…

 Dal Ja's Spring
#1105
Mùa xuân đạt tử - Dal Ja's Spring 
Korean Drama - 2007, 22 episodes

 7.7

'Dalja's Spring' is the story of Dalja, a 33-year old single at a crossroad of whether to remain single or get married before she gets older. The drama aims to comically and candidly portray the reality and undying pursuit…

 Capital Scandal
#1110
Bí mật Seoul - Capital Scandal 
Korean Drama - 2007, 16 episodes

 7.7

This drama is set in the 1930's when Korea was under the rule of Japan. Na Yeo Kyeong was the owner of a book store and she was also a freedom fighter. Seon Woo Wan was the playboy son of a rich family and he became…

http://vietsubtv.com/xem-phim/bi-mat-seoul-11552/tap-1.html

 Surgeon Bong Dal Hee
#1121
BÁC SĨ BONG DAL-HEE - Surgeon Bong Dal Hee 
Korean Drama - 2007, 18 episodes

 7.7

Bong Dal Hee is a first year resident doctor who strives to become a surgeon despite her heart problem. She works under Dr. Ahn Jong Geun, a cardiac specialist, and even though they don't get off to a good start, the…

 H.I.T
#1358
Đội đặc nhiêm H.I.T - H.I.T 
Korean Drama - 2007, 20 episodes

 7.5

The Homicide Investigation Team (H.I.T.) led by Cha Soo Kyung, was established to investigate the case of a serial killer. The other four members were assigned from different precincts and, when they first started, they…

 9 End 2 Outs
#1449
9 End 2 Outs 
Korean Drama - 2007, 16 episodes

 7.5

The drama is about love of singles in their 30s. Hong Nan Hee is an ordinary worker at a publishing firm, she's a girl who always falls in and out of love since she was young until she realizes that an old classmate…

http://ezphim.com/movies/5388_9-Cong-2-9-End-2-Outs-2007-Phim-Bo-Han-Quoc_?b=

 Kimcheed Radish Cubes
#1487
Kimcheed Radish Cubes 
Korean Drama - 2007, 44 episodes

 7.4

Even though times change and our relationships with our family changes, our affection for them is timeless. The drama is about affection that is the foundation of family. Dong Jin is the eldest son in a family of 3 sons.…

http://ezphim.com/movies/5292_Chi-Can-Tinh-Yeu-Kimcheed-Radish-Cubes-Vietsub-2007-Phim-Bo-Han-Quoc_Ggak-Du-Gi-Kim-Chi-Cu-Cai?b=

 Crazy For You
#1530
Crazy For You 
Korean Drama - 2007, 16 episodes

 7.4

Suh Jin Young is an aviation maintenance technician. Her fiance Jae Hoon passed away in a horrible traffic accident. Kim Chae Joon dreams of becoming an aviation maintenance technician but he encounters prejudice because…

 Que Sera, Sera
#1549
Que Sera, Sera 
Korean Drama - 2007, 17 episodes

 7.4

Kang Tae Joo is a player with charm and good looks who always dates rich women. One day, he finds a strange poor girl named Han Eun Soo sleeping in front of his door. Although he initially despises her, he eventually…

 Golden Bride
#1647
Cô dâu vàng - Golden Bride 
Korean Drama - 2007, 64 episodes

 7.3

Jin Joo is a half Korean and half Vietnamese girl who marries a Korean man, Kang Jun Woo, in order to come to Korea to look for her biological father who abandoned her. The drama is not only about her searching for her…

 If In Love Like Them
#1666
If In Love Like Them 
Korean Drama - 2007, 4 episodes

 7.3

Lee Na (Lee Hyo Ri) is a rising singer who was about to debut but tradegy struck her when she found out she had leukemia. Another girl took her place and sang her debut song at her concert. Now everybody thinks that…

 Lobbyist
#1797
Lobbyist 
Korean Drama - 2007, 24 episodes

 7.1

This drama is about a female lobbyist dealing with international arms traders. Kang Tae Hyuk is a successor of a main munitions business company in Korea. He is a young businessman with perfect appearance using a refined…

 Bad Couple
#1808 Highest Rated
Bad Couple 
Korean Drama - 2007, 16 episodes

 7.1

Choi Gi Chan is an University Botanic Professor with the "perfect genes". The drama is about an editor of a fashion magazine, Kim Dang Ja, who suddenly develops an urge to have her own baby despite opposing the idea…

 Legend of Hyang Dan
#1864
Legend of Hyang Dan 
Korean Drama - 2007, 2 episodes

 7.0

The drama is a twist to the well known classic story of The Legend of Chun Hyang. The big question revolving around this plot is what if the one that Lee Mong Ryong loves is not Chun Hyang but Hyang Dan? The drama will…

 Bad Love
#1895
Tình ngang trái - Bad Love 
Korean Drama - 2007, 20 episodes

 6.9

Na In Jung struggles with her love between the rather cold and rebellious Yong Ki and a successful businessman, Soo Hwan. Kang Yong Ki is a pop culture artist. He was separated from his first love, Jo Ann, and still…

 Witch Yoo Hee
#1920
Witch Yoo Hee 
Korean Drama - 2007, 16 episodes

 6.9

As the director of her father's advertising company, Ma Yoo Hee is known as a witch for her ruthless, no nonsense character. After a string of failed attempts to hire a housekeeper, she (literally) runs into Chae Moo…

 How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor
#1968
Người Hàng Xóm Hoàn Hảo - How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor 
Korean Drama - 2007, 20 episodes

 6.8

Baek Soo Chan has nothing in his hands but he lives a life under the belief that he will become the man any woman who sits next to him wants. However, his belief is questioned when he starts to realize true love. When…

 Mackerel Run
#2012
Mackerel Run 
Korean Drama - 2007, 8 episodes

 6.7

Cha Gong Chan was able to enter the top private high school in the affluent Gangnam District, Myoung Mun High, because of his soccer skills. But when he quits the sport, he finds himself an outcast and starts cutting…

 Hello! Miss
#2014
Hello! Miss 
Korean Drama - 2007, 16 episodes

 6.7

Lee Soo Ha, 38th granddaughter of the Jae Ahn Lee clan and owner of the clan manor Hwa Ahn Dang, is trying to save the place from going bankrupt. Hwang Dong Gyu, oldest grandson of the president of TOP Group, is trying…

 I am Your Teacher
#2026
Tôi là Sam - I am Your Teacher 
Korean Drama - 2007, 16 episodes

 6.6

The story focuses on the conflicts between the young teachers and the problems that high school students have. Jang Yi San is a timid and incompetent homeroom teacher who has to teach the only daughter of a highly dangerous…

 Get Karl! Oh Soo Jung
#2033
Get Karl! Oh Soo Jung 
Korean Drama - 2007, 16 episodes

 6.6

Go Man Soo is a world known golf player who was dumped by a former beauty queen, Oh Soo Jung, seven years ago. Their fate becomes reversed when Oh Soo Jung who is now known as an old maid comes chasing after Man Soo…

 In Soon is Pretty
#2036
In Soon is Pretty 
Korean Drama - 2007, 16 episodes

 6.6

Park In Soon accidentally killed another girl when she was in high school. After serving her time in prison, she tried to rebuild her life but was unsuccessful due to her criminal record. She was encouraged by her high…

 Air City
#2039
Air City 
Korean Drama - 2007, 16 episodes

 6.6

Han Do Kyung, specially scouted by the Incheon Airport Director, willingly accepted 1/3 of the pay she was receiving when working in Singapore to come back to Korea as the chief of operations of Incheon Airport. She…

http://vietsubtv.com/phim-thanh-pho-tren-khong-11872.html

 Goong S
#2058
Goong S 
Korean Drama - 2007, 20 episodes

 6.5

The Empress is in her early 30s, but she is still not married. Since the 1st successor to the throne died, the royal family is in search for a new successor. Incidentally, they come to know of a young man who was, in…

 My Mom, Supermom
My Mom, Supermom 
Korean Drama - 2007, 25 episodes

 7.2

Mothers' Zeal for Education People do not trust the public education and send their children to private academia for education. Parents living today bear a heavy burden on how to provide better education to their kids.…

 Kid Gang
Kid Gang 
Korean Drama - 2007, 16 episodes

 7.6

Adapted from the Manhwa of the same name, "Kid Gang" is about the once most powerful crime organization in Korea. The 'Bloody Tuesday Gang' was entrusted with taking care of a baby by thier former leader six months before…

 Golden Era of Daughter in Law
Golden Era of Daughter in Law 
Korean Drama - 2007, 52 episodes

 7.6

Jo Mi Jin is a new employee of an apparel company who later then becomes the daughter-in-law of a family running a pork hock restaurant with a 60-year-old tradition. Lee Bok Soo, the eldest son of the family, is a planning…

 Money's Warfare
Cuộc chiến kim tiền - Money's Warfare 
Korean Drama - 2007, 20 episodes

 7.1

Geum Na Ra is a ruthless private moneylender. Seo Joo Hee is a righteous woman. When problems with her family's debts arise, Joo Hee was supposed to marry a divorced man to solve her family's financial problems. But…

 TV Novel: Beautiful Days
TV Novel: Beautiful Days 
Korean Drama - 2007, 149 episodes

 8.1

The drama is about 4 siblings living in the 1970s. Their family was poor but they hoped for a better life. Hyang Sook stole her brother's tuition money because her mother believed that she could succeed. It depicts the…

 Likeable or Not
Likeable or Not 
Korean Drama - 2007, 172 episodes

 7.3

This drama is a story about love, family, and the realism of people's dreams! Each character will experience their joy, frustration, and pain at times as they live out their daily lives. Na Dan Poong is a company marketing…

 Modern Housewives
Modern Housewives 
Korean Drama - 2007, 10 episodes

 7.1

Kim Ho Jin will play Heo Myung Pil, an elite newspaper reporter but an immature and irresponsible husband. Kang Sung Yun will play Gyung Gook Hee, a bright and valiant wife. Along with the two, Kim Tae Yun will play…

 Snow In August
Snow In August 
Korean Drama - 2007, 20 episodes

 7.2

Jo Dong Hyuk will be playing a 27 year old single with a six year old son who falls for Choo Sang Mi, a thirty-three year old divorcee. Her husband cheated on her and she suffers from the pain of losing their son in…

 Unstoppable Marriage
Unstoppable Marriage 
Korean Drama - 2007, 140 episodes

 7.3

Madama Shim has four sons. Their names are Ki Baek, Lee Baek, Sam Baek, and Sa Baek. Madam Shim's eldest son, Ki Baek, falls in love with Goo Mi Ho, the daughter of her enemy, Goo Gook. Wang Sam Baek is the third son…

 White Tower
Bí mật tòa tháp trắng - White Tower 
Korean Drama - 2007, 20 episodes

 8.0

The story is about politics and power struggle among doctors at a hospital.Friends can switch allegience and enemies can turn supportive in split seconds. Dr.Jang Joon Hyeok (Kim Myung Min) was an ambitous surgeon who…

 My Man's Woman
My Man's Woman 
Korean Drama - 2007, 24 episodes

 6.8

Kim Hee Ae will portray a woman who is having an affair with a married man. She is Lee Hwa Young, a woman who doesn't feel guilty even after stealing her friend's husband

 Kimchi Cheese Smile
Kimchi Cheese Smile 
Korean Drama - 2007, 121 episodes

 8.1

The drama is about 2 families who go from the picture perfect life to a stage life. Shin Gu runs a photo studio and his kimchee-like common class family is about to become inlaws with Seon Woo Eun-Sook's cheese-like…

 The King and I
The King and I 
Korean Drama - 2007, 63 episodes

 7.5

A drama about Kim Cheo Seon's life during the Joseon Dynasty. Kim Cheo Seon was a loyal and faithful eunuch for various Kings, such as the 5th King, Munjong, and the 10th King, Yeonsangun, during the Joseon era. In the…

 Sky High
Sky High 
Korean Drama - 2007, 20 episodes

 6.5

James O'Neil is a 28 year old man who was adopted by people overseas when he was young. He is the CEO of a very large supermarket and is the typical man with cool charm and deals with things in a cool and collected manner.…


10 phim truyền hình Hàn Quốc hay nhất năm 2007

Theo kết quả thăm dò ý kiến khán giả cuối tháng 11, đầu tháng 12 của website Dcinsie (Hàn Quốc), bộ phim truyền hình “Legend” (Bốn vị thần) với sự góp mặt của nam diễn viên Bae Yong Joon đã được chọn là phim truyền hình hay nhất năm 2007.

Bộ phim Legend đánh dấu sự trở lại màn ảnh nhỏ của Bae sau 4 năm vắng bóng. Theo kết quả thăm dò, Lengend giành vị trí đầu bảng với 49,8% phiếu bầu. Bộ phim được khởi chiếu từ tháng 9, và từ đó đến nay, tỉ suất bạn xem đài luôn đạt mức 30%. Ngoài ra, những thông tin liên quan tới quá trình làm Legend và các nhân vật chính trong phim, đặc biệt là Bae Yong Joon, đã trở thành tâm điểm của báo giới.

 

Được biết, hôm 2/12 vừa rồi, Bae Yong Joon đã bí mật tiến hành các thủ tục cần thiết để vào một bệnh viện ở Soeul, điều trị vết thương ở cổ sau khi hoàn tất xong tất cả những cảnh quay trong bộ phim cổ trang Legend.

 

Đại diện của Bae thông báo: “Mức độ tổn thương và thời gian nằm viện của Bae phải đợi tới khi có kết quả kiểm tra sức khỏe mới biết được”. Trong quá trình quay Legend, Bae Yong Joon đã bị thương khá nhiều, nhưng anh kiên quyết đợi sau khi bộ phim hoàn thành mới chịu nhập viện chữa trị.

 

"Legend" với sự góp mặt của Bae Yong Joon đứng đầu

bảng Top 10 phim truyền hình hay nhất năm 2007.

 

"Time between dog and wolf " với sự góp mặt của Lee Jun Ki

(ngoài cùng bên phải) và Nam Sang Mi xếp thứ hai trong

Top 10 phim truyền hình hay nhất năm 2007.

 

Xếp thứ hai là bộ phim Time between dog and wolf với sự góp mặt của “mỹ nam xứ Hàn” Lee Jun Ki và nữ diễn viên Nam Sang Mi với 33,1% phiếu bầu. Thành công của Time between dog and wolf được nhận định là nhờ sự chuyển biến tích cực của nam diễn viên Lee Jun Ki. Vai diễn của anh nam tính và thú vị hơn nhiều những vai diễn trước đây trong My Girl

 

"Coffee Prince Shop No 1" với sự góp mặt của

Yoon Eun Hye và Goo Yoo xếp thứ ba trong bảng

xếp hạng 10 phim truyền hình hay nhất năm 2007.

 

Đứng thứ ba trong danh sách những phim truyền hình hay nhất Hàn Quốc năm 2007 chính là Coffee Prince Shop No 1 với sự góp mặt của nữ diễn viên khả ái Yoon Eun Hye, và nam diễn viên Gong Yoo. Thành công của bộ phim truyền hình này đã góp phần đưa Yoon Eun Hye trở thành  một trong những nữ diễn viên truyền hình trẻ, xuất sắc và đắt giá nhất năm 2007.

 

Các bộ phim nổi tiếng trong năm như The Devil (Ma Vương), White Tower (Toà tháp trắng), Capital ScandalAir City (với sự góp mặt của Choi Ji Woo), I'm SamHow To Meet A Perfect Neighbors cũng lọt vào Top 10 phim truyền hình hay nhất trong năm.

 

"The Devil" xếp thứ tư

 

"Air City" của "người đẹp khóc" Choi Ji Woo xếp thứ bảy.

 

Dưới đây là đoạn video clip giới thiệu về bộ phim “Legend” - bộ phim truyền hình được yêu thích nhất năm 2007. Ca khúc trong video là “A-thousand-years love song” do nhóm TVXQ của Hàn Quốc thể hiện: 


MỘT SỐ BỘ PHIM HẤP DẪN KHÁC

1. Chỉ cần tình yêu - Kimcheed Radish Cubes - Kim Seung-soo, Yoo Ho-jeong, Park Shin-hye

 
Kimcheed Radish Cubes
Kimcheed Radish Cubes.jpg
Promotional poster
Also known as Just Love
Written by Lee Deok-jae
 
Directed by Kwon Seok-jang
Starring
Country of origin South Korea
No. of episodes 44
Production
Producer(s) Lee Eun-kyu
Release
Original network Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation
Original release August 18, 2007 – January 27, 2008

Synopsis

Even though times change and our relationships with our family changes, our affection for them is timeless. The drama is about affection that is the foundation of family. Dong-jin is the eldest son in a family of 3 sons. He is dutiful and responsible but due to character clash, he has gone through divorce with his ex-wife, Ji-hye, whom he shares a child with. Dong-jin then starts a new romance with Eun-ho whom he works with. Jang Sa-ya is a girl that has grown up living in a secluded temple in the countryside. She meets and helps Park Jae-woo when he passes out in a forest nearby. He hangs her a card saying he would repay her if she ever goes to Seoul. As Sa-ya continues develops a curiosity of the world and wants to escape her "monk" life, her constant effort finally reaches an agreement with her guardian at the monastery. Her guardian tells her she has a father in Seoul, thus starting her venture to find her father. Along the way she meets some unfortunate events, and while searching for her father, Jae-woo soon falls for her.

=============================================================================

2. Giai thoại Hong Gil-dong - 
 
Hong Gil-dong
Hong Gil-dong-poster.jpg
Promotional poster for Hong Gil-dong
Genre Historical 
Comedy 
Romance 
Action
Written by Hong Jung-eun 
Hong Mi-ran
 
Directed by Lee Jung-sub
Starring Kang Ji-hwan
Sung Yu-ri
Jang Keun-suk
Kim Ri-na
Country of origin South Korea
Original language(s) Korean
No. of episodes 24
Production
Producer(s) Lee Jung-sub
Production location(s) Korea
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 60 minutes on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 21:55 (KST)
Release
Original network Korean Broadcasting System
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
Original release 2 January – 26 March 2008
Hong Gil-dong (쾌도 홍길동; lit. Fast sword Hong Gil-dong) is a 2008 South Korean television series starring Kang Ji-hwan in the title role, Sung Yu-riJang Keun-suk and Kim Ri-na. The drama is loosely based on Hong Gil-dong, a fictional book about a Robin Hood during Korea's Joseon Dynasty, but with modern influences and comedic tones. It aired on KBS2 from January 2 to March 26, 2008 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 21:55 for 24 episodes.

Synopsis[edit]

Hong Gil-dong is the illegitimate son of a minister. He is very bright and smart, however was told that he could not accomplish anything in this world, due to his illegitimate status. Thus he grew up spending most of his time being lazy and causing trouble for the people around him. However, a local monk thinks he is destined to be much more, and has taught Gil-dong martial arts. As the series progresses, Gil-dong realizes the severity of the injustices of the ranked world, and starts to fight against these injustices, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.

Heo Yi-nok is an upbeat, naive and carefree girl. At the beginning of the series, she arrives from China with her grandfather, who has raised her. She meets and befriends Gil-dong. Yi-nok has a past she is unaware of: she does not know her grandfather is not her blood-related grandfather, and that her real parents were murdered. She eventually develops feelings for Gil-dong, who reciprocates her feelings.

Lee Chang-hwi also has arrived in Korea from China at the beginning of the series. He seems cold and calculating, as he also has a dark past in which his older brother, the current king of Joseon, tried to murder him. Chang-hwi is planning a revolution, in which he tries to overthrow the king and takes his place as, he believes, the rightful king of Joseon. He coincidentally bumps into both Gil-dong and Yi-nok. Both Gil-dong and Yi-nok help Chang-hwi realize what it takes to become a good king. He forges an alliance with Gil-dong and develops feelings for Yi-nok.

As the question of rightful succession comes into play, Gil-dong and Yi-nok are forced to take sides, all the while having to deal with their own personal problems: their love, Gil-dong with his father issues, Yi-nok with her murdered parents and their revenge.

Cast[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2008
10th Mnet Asian Music Awards[3]
Best OST "If" - Kim Taeyeon Nominated
44th Baeksang Arts Awards
Most Popular Actor (TV) Kang Ji-hwan Won
Most Popular Actress (TV) Sung Yu-ri Won
2nd Roma Fiction Fest[4]
Best Television Product, Miniseries category Hong Gil-dong Won
2nd Korea Drama Awards
Excellence Award, Actress Sung Yu-ri Nominated
KBS Drama Awards
Top Excellence Award, Actor Kang Ji-hwan Nominated
Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Jang Keun-suk Nominated
Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries Sung Yu-ri Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Jo Hee-bong Nominated
Best Young Actor Maeng Se-chang Nominated
Netizen Award, Actor Kang Ji-hwan Won
Popularity Award, Actor Jang Keun-suk Won
Popularity Award, Actress Sung Yu-ri Won
Best Couple Award Kang Ji-hwan and Sung Yu-ri Won
Jang Keun-suk and Sung Yu-ri Nominated
=============================================================================


=============================================================================

3. Tình yêu nhiệm màu / Cám ơn - Thank you - Jang Hyuk, Gong Hyo-jin, Seo Shin Ae, Shin Sung-rok và Shin Goo

 
Thank You
Thank You TV series-poster.jpg
Promotional poster for Thank You
Genre
Written by Lee Kyung-hee
Directed by Lee Jae-dong
 
Starring
Country of origin South Korea
Original language(s) Korean
No. of episodes 16
Production company(s) SidusHQ/The Film
Release
Original network Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation
Original release March 21 – May 10, 2007
Thank you(Hangul: 고맙습니다; RR: Go-map-seup-nida). Là một phim truyền hình Hàn Quốc năm 2007 với sự tham gia của Jang Hyuk, Gong Hyo-jin, Seo Shin Ae, Shin Sung-rok và Shin Goo. Phát sóng trên đài MBC từ ngày 21 tháng 3 đến 10 tháng 5 năm 2007 vào thứ Tư và thứ Năm lúc 21:55 cho 16 tập phim.

Nội dung

Bác sĩ Min Gi-seo (Jang Hyuk) là một bác sĩ phẫu thuật có nền và tài năng vượt trội giàu có khiến cho anh ta kiêu ngạo với nhiều người, cho đến khi khi bạn gái của anh Ji-min (Choi Kang-hee) chết vì ung thư sau khi anh thất bại trong việc cứu cô trên bàn mổ, bị ám ảnh bởi lời thú nhận của bạn gái rằng cô đã vô tình khiến một cô bé nhiễm HIV vì đã lỡ truyền máu bị nhiễm bẩn khi cô một năm thực tập y tế trước đây và cô đã im lặng về sai lầm của mình. Đau buồn và cần phải đền bù thay cho Ji-min, Gi-seo tìm kiếm cô bé Bom t (bloom tiếng Hàn Quốc có nghĩa là "mùa xuân"), và thấy cuộc sống của em trên đảo Pureun-do ("Đảo xanh"). Mới lên 8 tuổi Bom (Seo Shin Ae) là ngây thơ không biết gì về tình trạng của mình, và em sống hạnh phúc với mẹ Young-shin (Gong Hyo-jin), và ông cố của em ông Lee (Shin Goo) người luôn đi lang thang và yêu chiếc bánh sô cô la. Kể từ khi Bom được chẩn đoán mắc HIV,Young-shin(mẹ Bom) đã làm việc chăm chỉ để chăm sóc cho con gái và ông nội, và cố giữ một khuôn mặt mạnh mẽ và vui vẻ mặc dù hoàn cảnh nghèo túng và những khó khăn của một người mẹ độc thân. Young-Shin luôn luôn giữ bí mật về cha Bom, nhưng trong cộng đồng nhỏ của Pureun-do, những tin đồn đang lan tràn rằng cha Bom là Choi Seok-hyun (Shin Sung-rok), con trai của người phụ nữ giàu nhất (Kang Boo-ja) trong thị trấn. Seok-hyun đang sống tại Seoul với vị hôn thê của mình (Kim Sung-eun), cho đến khi anh có việc phải trở lại đảo sau một thập kỉ. Khi nhìn thấy Young-Shin lần nữa, Seok-hyun không nghĩ rằng cô đã có một đứa con, và khẳng định với cô rằng Bom không phải con mình. Và thế là con đường của họ tiếp tục cách xa. Trong khi đó, để chăm sóc cho Bom, Gi-seo quyết định thuê một phòng ở nhà Young-shin. Lúc đầu, anh chế giễu dường như mọi thứ đều lạc hậu.Cảm nhận được sự tốt bụng của gia đình Young Shin, anh có cách nghĩ khác về cuộc sống. Gi-seo thấy mình dần thay đổi và rơi vào tình yêu với Young-shin. Nhưng khi người dân thị trấn sau đó biết rằng Bom bị ​​HIV, họ bắt đầu sợ hãi và phân biệt đối xử với gia đình Bom.

 

Diễn viên

Awards

Amnesty International

  • 10th Special Media Award (2007)

2007 MBC Drama Awards

2008 Baeksang Arts Awards


    
Cô bé tám tuổi Bom bị bệnh AIDS với lối diễn xuất tuyệt vời của diễn viên nhí Seo Sin Ae đã khiến khán giả nhiều lần xúc động rơi nước mắt khi xem bộ phim Hàn Quốc “Tình yêu nhiệm màu” (tựa gốc là Thank you) của đạo diễn Lee Jae - dong. Bộ phim truyền hình Tình yêu nhiệm màu xoay quanh tam giác tình yêu giữa 3 nhân vật chính: bác sĩ Min Ki Seo (do Jang Hyuk đóng) kiêu căng, ngạo mạn, người mẹ trẻ bất hạnh nhưng đầy lạc quan Young Shin (do Gong Hyo Jin đóng) và đứa con gái 8 tuổi không may bị bệnh AIDS của cô, Bom (do Seo Shin Ae đóng).
    Bối cảnh phim được quay trên hòn đảo Pureundon xinh đẹp và thơ mộng. Bác sĩ Min-Ki-Seo vì né tránh một thực tế mà anh không muốn đối diện nên đã đến hòn đảo nơi Young Shin đang sống. Min-Ki-Seo và Lee Young Shin lúc đầu rất ghét nhau nhưng tình cảm đã dần nảy sinh từ những trận tranh cãi và bất đồng hàng ngày. Min-Ki-Seo là một bác sĩ luôn ngạo mạn và coi thường người khác cho đến khi anh gặp Lee Young Shin và đứa con gái Bom bị bệnh AIDS của cô. Ngược lại, Young Shin là một con người vui vẻ và tích cực dù trong cuộc sống cô gặp rất nhiều khó khăn. Lee Young Shin không bao giờ hết hy vọng rằng Bom sẽ được cứu sống. Nhờ Young Shin mà Min-Ki-Seo dần trở nên ấm áp và mở rộng trái tim của mình đối với những người vẫn “khép lòng” với anh…
    Đây là bộ phim đầy cảm động khắc hoạ chân dung một bệnh nhân nhỏ tuổi mắc bệnh AIDS cùng mối quan hệ giữa cô, gia đình và bạn bè. Nội dung phim được truyền tải qua cặp mắt nhân ái, sự tôn trọng và tình yêu thương, chia sẻ. Phim thu hút sự chú ý của người xem không chỉ vì nêu lên một vấn đề gai góc và nhạy cảm mà chưa một bộ phim truyền hình nào trước đó đề cập mà còn lôi cuốn bởi diễn xuất tuyệt vời của dàn diễn viên trong phim.
    Tình yêu nhiệm màu là bộ phim truyền hình đầu tiên của nam diễn viên điển trai Jang Hyuk sau hai năm phục vụ quân ngũ. Trước đây, anh trở nên nổi tiếng ở Châu Á khi sánh đôi cùng “cô nàng ngổ ngáo” Jun Ji Hyun trong bộ phim Ngọn gió yêu thương (Windstruck) và đóng cùng Jang Na Ra trong phim Cô gái thông minh. Vào vai người bác sĩ chăm sóc cô gái nhỏ mắc căn bệnh thế kỷ và đem lòng yêu người mẹ của cô bé trong Tình yêu nhiệm màu là sự trở lại đầy ấn tượng của Jang Hyuk. Anh đã giành được giải thưởng diễn xuất vàng dành cho phim truyền hình do hãng MBC bầu chọn.
    Người phụ nữ được yêu của anh chàng bác sĩ tài hoa chính là người mẫu - diễn viên Kong Hyo Jin. Cô gái có biệt danh “Olive” này từng đoạt giải Ngôi sao mới của kênh truyền hình SBS và giải Nữ diễn viên xuất sắc nhất của Baeksang Art năm 2002. Cô cùng với Bi (Rain) “rinh” về giải cặp đôi ăn ý nhất của KBS năm 2003 với vai diễn Sang Doo trong phim truyền hình Tìm lại tình yêu (Let ‘s go to shool). Với vai diễn người mẹ trẻ nghị lực, hết lòng chăm lo cho con gái bị bệnh AIDS, Kong Hyo Jin đã lĩnh giải Nữ diễn viên tài năng của hãng MBC sau khi bộ phim ra mắt khán giả Hàn Quốc vào cuối tháng 3/2007.
    Và góp phần không nhỏ vào thành công của bộ phim Thank you vinh dự giành giải thưởng truyền thông đặc biệt lần thứ 10 của tổ chức Amnesty International là sự có mặt của nữ diễn viên nhí Seo Shin Ae. Từng xuất hiện lần đầu tiên trên truyền hình khi tham gia đóng quảng cáo sữa, sau đó là hai bộ phim điện ảnh nhưng Tình yêu nhiệm màu là bộ phim truyền hình của cô bé. Nhân vật Bom của Seo Shin Ae đã lấy rất nhiều nước mắt của khán giả. Và con đường nghệ thuật đầy rộng mở khi Seo Shin Ae vừa nhận được giải thưởng danh giá đặc biệt dành cho diễn viên nhí xuất sắc nhất cho giải thưởng phim truyền hình năm 2007.
=============================================================================

4. Tôi Là Sam - I Am Sam (2007) - Yang Dong Geun, Park Min Young, Son Tae Young, Park Jae Jung, Park Chae Kyung, Park Joon Gyu, Lee Min Ho, Kwak Ji Min

Một vị thầy giáo bình thường, không giỏi giang gì bỗng một ngày nhận được một khoản tiền kếch xù với điều kiện phải làm giáo viên kèm thêm cho cô con gái Yoo Eun Byul duy nhất của một đại ca xã hội đen, và vấn đề là nếu cô con gái này học hành có vấn đề gì thìn vị thầy giáo cũng coi như là mất mạng.

Eun Byul cũng là một sinh viên mới ở trường trung học Myung Moon. Trong trường còn có "Jjang" Chae Moo Shin.

Biên kịch cố gắng xoay quanh câu chuyện và quan hệ của những nhân vật này thêm vào đó là những rắc rối xảy ra ở trường trung học...

 
I am Sam
I Am Sam (TV series)-poster.jpg
Promotional poster
Also known as I'm Sam 
I am Your Teacher
Genre RomanceComedy
Based on Kyōkasho ni Nai!
by Kazuto Okada
 

Written by Lee Jin-mae
Directed by Kim Jung-gyu
Starring Yang Dong-geun
Park Min-young
Park Jun-gyu
Son Tae-young
T.O.P
Country of origin South Korea
No. of episodes 16
Production
Producer(s) Lee Jae-sang
Running time 60 minutes on Mondays and Tuesdays at 21:55 (KST)
Production company(s) Pan Entertainment
Release
Original network KBS2
Original release August

Plot

Yoo Jae-gon (Park Jun-gyu), head of an infamous gangster organization, becomes troubled by the future prospects of his only daughter, Eun-byul (Park Min-young), who refuses to study. Then coincidence or fate brings together Eun-byul and goofy-looking high school teacher Jang Yi-san (Yang Dong-geun) in a somewhat sticky situation. After finding out that Yi-san can actually inspire his troublesome daughter to focus on her studies, Jae-gon offers a deal to Yi-san: become his daughter's private tutor in exchange for one million won. The catch is Yi-san has to move in with her. And the money? It's given as security for his own life.

Cast

Main characters


58 December 26, 2007April 6, 2017

The Year in Review, Part 1: The Best of 2007

by javabeans


A month ago, I asked y’all, How was 2007 for you? I was thinking of the year-end wrap-up I would be writing, and wanted to see how you thought the dramas were this past year. I’ll be rolling out my year-in-review posts over the next few days (because one post just isn’t enough!).

I also am THRILLED to be presenting a couple guest bloggers, Thunderbolt and Dahee Fanel, whom I’ve asked to join me in this 2007 retrospective. (I’ll be putting up their reviews in the following posts.) Not only are these ladies extremely well-versed in the art of Ye Olde K-Drama, they’re both also chock-full of witty, interesting, opinionated insights about ’em. We’re also not afraid to contradict each other and are perfectly fine with having dissonant opinions. I hope you’ll enjoy their thoughts as much as I do.

As an added plus, they’ve both seen a bunch of the dramas I missed, so we’ll be able to cover a wider breadth of material. As none of us could be accused of brevity, between the three of us, we’ve have got 2007 covered. Possibly a couple times over.

SONG OF THE DAY

Bubble Sisters – “사랑을 찾아서” (Looking for love) from the OST of Mixed-up Investigative Agency.
[ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

Is the following a comprehensive list? By no means. Did I leave out dramas that, for some reason or another, many people may feel belong on the list? Oh, absolutely. But this isn’t my “objective, analytical, logical list of 2007’s best dramas.” It’s a jumbling of the ones I watched and enjoyed and were the top of MY list. I didn’t have anywhere near the necessary amount of time required to watch ALL the series that are widely regarded as the best of the year — but that’s what Thunderbolt and Dahee Fanel are for!

 
Onward…

As I expected, the results of the poll in the above-linked post were overwhelmingly in Coffee Prince‘s favor. Considering the Coffee Prince mania this summer, that came as no surprise, and I don’t begrudge the series its widespread popularity. In its case, I think the hype was deserved, or at least completely understandable, and I’d venture to say the series has done the most for the trendy drama genre since Samsoon swept the nation in 2005.

But for today’s purposes, Coffee Prince will have to take its place in line, because my favorite romance of the year was the one from cute, lovable, funny, heart-warming DAL JA’S SPRING, starring Chae Rim and Lee Minki:

Lee Kyung Hwa – “기적 같은 사랑” (Miraculous love) from the OST.
[ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

At first glance, Dal Ja’s Spring had the potential to veer into tired cliches and familiar plots. In the first episode, I thought with a groan that we were getting another My Name Is Kim Samsoon clone. A 30-something spinsterish type (Chae Rim‘s Dal Ja) who’s successful in her career but lousy in love hooks up in a “love contract” with a younger, cool, handsome, self-assured guy (Lee Minki‘s Tae Bong). Yes, the couple does fall in love, but the Samsoon similarities come to a swift conclusion one mere episode into the series — which sets the tone for how Dal Ja’s Spring takes lots of familiar romantic-comedy tropes, then spins them cleverly so that the familiar scenario you thought you were gonna get turns out to be something different altogether.

In my initial post on the series, which was one of the first entries on this blog, I compared both kdramas and their heroines (Samsoon and Dal Ja) to that quintessential 30-ish singleton, Bridget Jones — “but while Samsoon was more a literal adaptation of the character, my one-liner description for Dal Ja’s Spring is more Bridget Jones in an existential crisis.”

By “existential crisis,” I refer to the welcome tendency of the series to address aspects of Dal Ja’s life outside the romantic. The main romance naturally takes up a sizable part of the storyline, but the rest of the series explores Dal Ja’s career, her notions of friendship and family and personal fulfillment, and how romance fits into all that. The stories given to the supporting characters are nicely worked in, providing a touching look at the people inhabiting her world, teaching Dal Ja life lessons through their examples as well. Dal Ja deals with trying to find the right balance in her life — which is why the series is, at its core, all about her. I don’t think it’s a huge spoiler to say that although her romantic storyline reaches its culmination in the last episode, the series bids us adieu not from the couple’s perspective but ultimately Dal Ja’s alone.

But that’s not to say the romance isn’t a huge factor. Dal Ja’s Spring owes its winningness in huge part to Lee Minki’s dashing turn as Kang Tae Bong. Okay, okay, I concede that for the first half of the series (perhaps more), Tae Bong is rather too perfect. He’s a lovely combination of all the stuff of women’s fantasies — he’s strong and assured, but he knows how to listen, and yields when necessary. He leads and guides Dal Ja into paths of self-actualization, but he’s not afraid of appearing unmasculine by allowing Dal Ja her lead as well. He’s charming, but he can be honest and give Dal Ja the cold truth when the situation calls for it. Yes, he’s nearly perfect. But thankfully, the series DOES take time to delve into Tae Bong’s own issues, which allows for some personal growth on his end as well.

All in all, Dal Ja’s Spring may not be a series that breaks new ground, but for what it is — an engaging, consistently appealing and well-paced romantic comedy — it’s a winner.

 

FLOWERS FOR MY LIFE

Flowers for My Life (aka I Came In Search of Flowers) is as close to being a perfect drama as I could expect. Normally, when you look at a drama described as “moving,” “poignant,” “heart-felt,” “engaging,” “meaningful,” and “beautiful,” you run the risk of invoking that other dreaded descriptor — boring. I confess I don’t have a lot of patience for boring (which explains why I tried watching many dramas this year, and dropped a bunch of them after a few episodes. The exceptions — the ones I stuck with despite knowing deep down they probably wouldn’t improve — pained me). And if you have this impression of Flowers, I don’t know how to convince you otherwise (I probably can’t), but let me try: IT’S NOT BORING. Flowers is witty, subversively funny, sarcastic, morbidly hilarious, and subtle.

Right off the bat, the series shows its eccentric sense of humor. Main character Hana is a stoic Wednesday Addams type, unafraid of anything, unmoved by anything, unattached to anything — except money. As the daughter of a mortician, she’s grown up fully acquainted with death, playing with dead people instead of dolls (“What’s the difference? Dead people and dolls are the same in that they both don’t talk”). She comes up with the idea to woo a rich dying man, with no qualms over her actions — hey, if she makes the guy so happy before he dies that he wants to leave her his wealth, isn’t that a win-win?

Because of the story’s setting in a funeral home and its focus on death, the most obvious comparison is the HBO series Six Feet Under. I suppose when you’re dealing with an inherently dark topic, the way to make it interesting is to see the funny in it. And Flowers embraces its death motif, not with wariness or anxiety, but with matter-of-fact understanding that death is a part of life.

It’s like Hana’s funeral-director father says to Cha Tae Hyun‘s hapless, bumbling, good-natured Ho-sang, explaining that the word for “living” came from the term used to light a fire:

“We light the candle we were given by fate, day by day. But that wick differs for each person. Somebody’s wick burns out soon, and another’s goes on much longer. Only heaven knows if our fire burns out today, or tomorrow. It seems unbelievable to lose [a minor character] this way, but she must have left because she’d burned up the fate heaven had given her.”

The series is quirky and offbeat, much like its main character, wonderfully played by veteran film actress Kang Hye Jung. In fact, the acting is top-notch at all levels, from Cha Tae Hyun’s upbeat (and laughably cowardly) Ho-sang to the fully supportive and non-manipulative, non-evil second leads Kim Ji Hoon and Gong Hyun Joo, and supporting cast. Life lessons are learned, many times via death (there’s a funeral in nearly every episode), but sometimes merely by the two main characters stumbling along.

The series is also stunningly shot in the scenic Chun Cheon area, with interesting shots that add complexity to moments and scenes without being obtrusive. The director has a terrific artistic sense, managing to find really clever, smart ways to shoot even the simplest of scenes. Hands down best directing — the only other series that might rival it this year is Devil. (Legend was action-packed, large-scale, and used fancy effects, but it wasn’t nearly as thoughtful with its shots.)

I don’t suppose it’s a major spoiler to reveal (as we find out in episode 1) that Cha Tae Hyun’s character is diagnosed with terminal cancer. But this is no Autumn in My Heart! It’s much more a light-hearted comedy of errors than it is a tearjerker melodrama — although I admit I shed plenty of tears. But they weren’t sad tears in depressing moments — they were brought on by how exceptionally well this series deals with human relationships of all varieties: parent-child, lover-to-lover, friend-to-friend, enemy-who-becomes-an-ally… There’s no self-pity or wallowing; Cha Tae Hyun accepts news of his illness with pluck and thoughtfulness:

“That day, I realized that people who do their best to be loved leave behind love even after they’re gone. People who do their best to be happy leave happiness behind when they’re gone. What will I leave behind?”

Because death is such a frequent occurrence in the series (although it’s usually the death of a stranger, whose funerals our characters prepare), when it does come, it’s not with a spirit of dramatic, earth-rending tragedy. Instead, death highlights just how beautiful it is to live and, once a loved one leaves, to keep their memories in our hearts with fondness.

Hana: “I want to remember every single moment, but I’m afraid I’ll forget even one.”
Nam Kyung: “You won’t forget. Although we can forget things in our heads, I’ve found we don’t forget things kept in our hearts.”

 

QUE SERA SERA

Que Sera Sera is not your average kdrama. I said early on, and I still believe, that Que Sera Sera may not be for everyone. Although it’s got plenty of understated humor, it’s also mature, intense, hard, with a streak of cynicism a mile wide. And yet it’s not a depressing drama. It’s not even pessimistic at the core. It’s just… different. It treats its characters with a liberal dose of realism, instead of glossing over their personalities to conform them to traditional ideals of what a romantic hero or heroine should be. Are they appealing characters? I think so (some more than others — Jung Yumi‘s Eun Soo is, in my own words (is it pretentious to quote myself?), “delightfully weird,” and Jung herself is amazingly good). Are they flawed characters? Oh, hell to the Y-E-A-H.

I don’t think it’s a show that’s meant to be a popular, widespread hit — but it’s one that inspires fierce loyalty in its fandom. Some of the fondest memories I have of Que Sera Sera are the numerous thoughtful, heated, intelligent discussions and analyses it spurred, here and at soompi. I also got numerous hits and links from Korean fans (more than Coffee Prince, I believe), which is testament to its status as a drama that evoked hardcore fans.

What’s so good about Que Sera Sera? First off, the writing. It’s quite dialogue-heavy, which I noticed right away given how much longer it took me to do QSS summaries (they routinely took me three times as long as Witch Amusement, which was a series I was recapping at the same time). The dialogue is strong and eloquent and witty. The look of the drama isn’t exactly pretty, but its grittiness gives it a raw quality that works very well with the tone of the show. A glossy, richly saturated color palette would’ve felt all wrong.

Horan – “눈부신 날들” (Brilliant days) from the OST. [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Second, the music. Most series have serviceable soundtracks that fit the mood of the drama and are cute and fun. Only a few, like Soulmate and Coffee Prince, are standouts on their own, too. The musicians featured include both Alex and Horan of Clazziquai, Yi Sung Yol, W, My Aunt Mary.

Third, the all-around strong acting. As I mentioned, Jung Yumi is excellent. She’s one of those rare breeds, the kind of person who must’ve been meant to be an actor, who does it for love of the craft and to whom fame and celebrity are afterthoughts. She just seems so natural. Whether it’s her acting or the way her character was written, she quickly stands out as the breakout talent. Personally, I think the story of QSS is Tae Joo’s story (some people may disagree), but her Eun Soo is a complete breath of fresh air. Second leads Lee Kyu Han and Yoon Ji Hye are similarly solid, portraying similarly intense characters. No matter how you may feel about the characters, nobody was a weakling. (I liked them all, even Yoon Ji Hye’s Hye-rin — whom I gather many did not like — because she was a strong female who knew what she wanted, even if she was misguided.) More than manipulative or evil characters, I hate the weaklings.

And while I wouldn’t go so far as to call Eric a revelation, I will say he was ballsy and fearless. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been privy to so many actors’ tantrums and antics and self-conscious neuroses (oh, actors, how they bring the crazy), but in any case, one of the things that most impresses me is when one sheds his vanity and gives it all up for the sake of the role. Eric took on the challenge of portraying a cold, arrogant asshole, at times pushing Tae Joo to the boundaries of irredeemable. Some may have found his actions too much to forgive; as for me, I think he does a remarkable job of bringing the humanity to such a flawed man. Tae Joo’s in-your-face braggadocio translates to the series as a whole — and you know how people say that confidence is sexy? Well, Que Sera Sera is damn sexy. It struts, and swaggers, and challenges you.

 

COFFEE PRINCE

What can I say about Coffee Prince that hasn’t already been said? As one of the biggest drama sensations of the year — it wasn’t the highest-rated, but it was one of the most talked-about — it seems everyone’s already got an opinion.

I feel like the backlash has hit — just as it was cool to love it during its initial broadcast, it’s now cool to say, “Psh, Coffee Prince isn’t THAT great.” That’s too bad. I really, really liked Coffee Prince — without irony, without qualification. It is a great trendy drama. It’s one of the best in recent years. It plays with cliches but doesn’t get mired in them. It takes a fantastic twist on a familiar storyline, and above all, trusts its story to carry the series — story, not star vanity, not melodramatic plot twists, not even sensationalism given what could have been a salacious topic (gay relationships).

Speaking of which, Coffee Prince‘s treatment of homosexuality was both refreshingly modern and sensitive. No room for pearl-clutching here. It doesn’t necessarily push an agenda; rather, it’s open-minded and unjudgmental and lets the story unravel without moral interludes or Evil Masterminds jerking the plot around. For the most part, the writers explore the characters’ relationships and problems naturally without resorting to shenanigans.

The acting: Obviously, the success of the drama owes tremendous debt to its two leads, Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun Hye, but the series was smart about all its casting, not just its leads, down to the most marginal characters, who are all given more story time than they would in a more traditional series. I’ve never thought Yoon Eun Hye was a standout acting talent — she has star quality in spades, but I was hesitant on the acting front — and I wouldn’t say she’s reached the heights of her potential just yet. But she does put herself completely into her character, and her take on Eun Chan earned her well-deserved attention. As I mentioned above, I dig when an actor puts the project above their personal vanity, and I respect that she gave up all pretense early on of trying to maintain a “pretty” image while acting as a boy. That kind of vanity would’ve made for a laughably half-assed Eun Chan, and it’s to her credit that she went for it, all the way. But it was Gong Yoo who impressed me most in the way he portrayed Han Gyul’s confusion, self-loathing, and acceptance of his feelings for Eun Chan. His emotions came through so raw and pained that it was almost unsettling to watch him for his intensity.

Now that the initial luster has worn off, I can say that Coffee Prince isn’t perhaps a perfect 10 — many, many people have pointed out the obvious tapering of dramatic tension after episode 12, which is not coincidentally also around the time that its talented director Lee Yoon Jung was strong-armed into extending the series. The extension was only by one episode, but when a series has enjoyed overwhelming success that is in part due to its carefully calibrated, gradual rise in intensity, you don’t mess with that carelessly in the home stretch. As I consider the last episode perhaps the weakest of the entire series, I wonder what the series would’ve been like if the writer and director had had their way and confined the story to the original sixteen episodes. But episodes 6 through 12 were just wonderful, all wrought with nerves and anticipation and hope and anxiety, showing us just how good this oft-maligned trendy-drama genre can be.

 

MIXED-UP INVESTIGATIVE AGENCY

(Why hello again, Mr. Lee Minki.)

As for the funny? Mixed-up Investigative Agency not only stirs up the rather stale kdrama comedy template with its unconventional, refreshing, witty sense of humor, it also features a surprisingly intricately plotted mystery. Now as you know (from the numerous times I repeat myself, natch), I loves me my romances. Mixed-up Investigative Agency is not only light on the romance, it quite actively makes it a point NOT to center around romance. I wasn’t sure how I’d react to this — but my worries were premature, because Mixed-up is a GREAT comedy.

The characters (and actors) have wonderful rapport with one another, the bantering is smart and clever, and the plot — a mystery mixed into an action-adventure treasure hunt — is airtight. The screenwriter — writer of the much-lauded Alone In Love — reportedly spent years working on this script, and her success from Alone in Love gained her the industry recognition to enable this to be produced, despite all expectations that it would not be a smash ratings hit. And it was not — but as a “mania drama” (a cult hit), the drama earned its share of rabid, appreciative fans.

For being so funny, Mixed-up is actually also a great drama. As a series that’s so goofy and quirky and aggressively off-kilter, it’s remarkably moving as well. It sneaks in moments of true pathos just when you’re not expecting it, like a frazzled mom might hide chopped-up bits of broccoli under the more-tasty meat dishes in hopes that the kid won’t notice the nutrition being sneaked into his body. Well, I did notice, but it’s okay, I don’t mind. It’s good for me. Thanks Mom.

As long as I’m giving away hypothetical acting awards (Kang Hye Jung for Flowers, Jung Yumi for Que Sera Sera), let me hand one over to Ms. Ye Jiwon, who is fantastic as the fortune-teller of questionable talents, Hee-kyung. She’s fiesty and playful and intense and emotional, all rolled into one teeny package. Ryu Seung Soo as Yong-su starts out in what seems to be a simple, easy character, but he surprises you with hidden depths and manages to wring your heart well into the series. And Lee Minki dives into his role as the hot-headed Mu-yeol with gusto. I wouldn’t have expected this kind of role from him after he met with such success as the handsome, confident Tae Bong in Dal Ja’s Spring, but he practically throws himself into Mu-yeol’s weird, awkward quirks. Like I said, extra points for disregarding vanity.

A lot of dramas tend to start strong and weaken, even the good ones (see Coffee Prince), but Mixed-up Investigative Agency is so well-planned and -paced that the series ramps up consistently to its climactic last episode. It takes a lot of guts (and courage? stubbornness? chutzpah?) to hold back when you’re a struggling drama with super-low ratings, but Mixed-up doggedly maintains its faith in the story and the writing, and delivers an entirely satisfying ending.

 

Honorable mention: HYANG DAN JEON

Hyang Dan Jeon (The Story of Hyang Dan) perhaps doesn’t exactly belong in the “best of the year” list, but I thought it deserved a little bit of recognition after flying so low under the radar. As a two-episode miniseries, it’s short and sweet and delivers a quick punch of rollicking romantic comedy.

I’ll also say that despite my general dislike of all things Super Junior, after watching Hyang Dan, I totally get the Choi Siwon love. The boy has charisma oozing out his pores. Ew. That wasn’t meant to sound so gross and vaguely unhygienic.

In any case, part of the reason Hyang Dan works for me is because it knows just how seriously to take itself (or NOT take itself). It’s a total goof and it knows it. The drama takes a famous story from historical lore and gives it a twist (akin to, say, making a story in which Prince Charming marries Cinderella’s stepsister instead, or Juliet falls for Mercutio) — and then takes it a step further by adding cheeky modernizations. It’s as much a true “historical drama” as Shrek is a real fairy tale.

I.S. – “Juliet.” Speaking of modernized twists on the traditional… [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Sometimes a drama has all the makings of greatness, but falls far flat of its expectations and/or potential. (Legend, you coulda been great.) Then on the other hand, sometimes a drama seems like it’ll be a throwaway, but somehow it becomes much more than the sum of its parts. It’s like the parts meet together in a spark of chemistry and elevate it with its energy and sheer charm. Hyang Dan is one of those.

 

….and scene.

Phew.

Obviously, there are glaring omissions from my list. Although I watched at least an episode or two of most of the big dramas, I didn’t watch enough to draw fully informed conclusions for many of them — i.e., Thank You, Devil, Time of Dog and Wolf, Conspiracy in the Court, White Tower, Surgeon Bong Dal Hee… But thankfully, Thunderbolt and Dahee Fanel are around to weigh in on some/most of those. Their posts coming up next! And then, since I’ve covered my Best of 2007, I’ll wrap up with The Rest.

RELATED POST

56 December 27, 2007April 6, 2017

The Year in Review, Part 2: Thunderbolt’s hits and misses

by thunderbolt

[And now, please give your warm welcome to guest blogger Thunderbolt, who shares with us her year-end review! –javabeans]

Has this happened to you? You’re reading a book on the bus or train and all of a sudden you burst out laughing. Everyone’s staring but you can’t stop grinning. And all because that line you just read was so unexpectedly funny.

Here’s another scenario. You’re watching one of the hit kdramas of 2006 and after being entertained for the first eighteen episodes or so, you’re down to the last few episodes. And though you had been warned that it was going to be draggy from here, you had no idea how draggy. So now you’re climbing the walls. Your mood’s so foul from the plot shenanigans you want to hurl two cartons of rotten tomatoes at your TV screen.

That was my 2007. A year where I laughed and cried my way through dramas so good they made me even more of an addict. A year where I watched stuff that people were raving about and I shook my head and said, “Something’s seriously amiss with me because I. JUST. DON’T. GET. THE. HYPE.” I raved, I ranted, and just like that, a year has gone by. Here’s my “hits and misses” (how original a title, right?^^) roundup for 2007.

THUNDERBOLT’S SONG OF THE DAY

Uhm Tae Woong – “사랑하지 말아줘” (Don’t love me) from the OST of Devil. Singing must run in the family. (Older sis is the “Korean Madonna” Uhm Jung Hwa.) [ zShare download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

And it comes with a video! Live performance by actor/singer Uhm Tae Woong:

 


 
The gems

The best drama was one that I approached with some trepidation. Remembering how queasy I felt during the bloody scenes in two other 2007 medical dramas, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy White Tower as much as I hoped to. But I wanted badly to watch this for Kim Myung Min. I knew he had the acting chops but I had no idea he would be this good. He was so chillingly convincing it made me shudder. Could a surgeon this brilliant also be this crooked? How could he, who commanded the awe of his subordinates and the respect (no matter how grudgingly given) of his peers, stoop so low (literally) in order to achieve his highest goals?

What a ride White Tower was. There was nothing superfluous about it. Want romance? It isn’t here. First love, skeletons in closets from bygone years, and numerous other side plots? All missing from the script. I can’t even recall the music because the writing, acting and direction were so good everything else was secondary. At the center of it all was one man: the actor Kim Myung Min and the character he played, Dr. Jang Joon Hyuk. (Just writing the doc’s name makes me instantly teary.) And then the rest of the cast. Lee Sun Gyun whose deep velvety voice I didn’t even notice this time because I was too transfixed by the tighter-than-taut plot to do much swooning. Byun Hee Bong, Lee Jung Gil, Kim Chang Wan, Lee Hee Do, Cha In Pyo… A fantastic cast that lifted an already superb script to give us the best drama of the year.

 
Coming in second is The Devil. I prefer to call it by its Korean name, Mawang, because… well, “devil” just brings up all sorts of connotations which my mother doesn’t like. (See, mom, I’m not such a rebel after all.^^)

I didn’t expect Mawang to be so good. Granted it was by the same writer-PD combo of that masterpiece I loved, Resurrection/Rebirth. With the same awesome lead actor, Uhm Tae Woong. But surely nothing could top Resurrection in its genre. And then I watched Mawang. Dang! I shouldn’t have been in such a hurry to vote in dramabeans’ “How was 2007 for you?” polls. How could my original choice for best thriller or action drama come close to this? I love the premise of the plot: a mysterious mastermind orchestrating events as though directing a play. A “devil” bringing an unsuspecting cast on center stage to perform a tragedy of Shakespearian proportions, act after act after act. Everything, every little thing, just fitted together. The meanings of the tarot cards (gosh, I love all that symbolism!), the references to Dante and Rodin, the music that made my heart ached (only after I understood what the lyrics meant, lol), the unexpectedly strong acting of Ju Ji Hun, the joy of watching Uhm Tae Woong and Shin Min Ah in a comfy relationship without the teeth-gnashing theatrics that normally accompany unrequited love… I was spellbound from beginning to end.
 

The other night I was editing the subtitles for Mixed-up Investigative Agency. I pored over the subs line by line and then out of the blue I laughed out loud. It was one of Mu Yeol’s lines (the character played by Lee Minki). A few dozen lines later, it happened again because of something that Hee Kyung said (the fortune-teller character played so wonderfully by Ye Ji Won). I didn’t have to watch the video to enjoy the sparkling wit of the dialogue; just reading the subs on notepad was enough to make me grin and giggle. That is the wonder of this little gem, so unjustly underrated and thus loved all the more fiercely by those who can appreciate its charm and cleverness. Third best drama of 2007.
 

In fourth place is Time of Dog and Wolf. When I finished TODAW, I seriously thought of crowning it as my favorite of 2007. That was how much I enjoyed it (and because I hadn’t watched my top three yet). I thought I would die from the cliffhangers and having to wait one whole week to know what would happen next. The pace gave “pulsating” a new meaning, the music made my heart race and stop. But thrills aside (and TODAW executed those brilliantly in terms of suspenseful effect), I found the first few episodes boring and the plot initially farfetched. I couldn’t believe how incredibly easy it was for the Cheongbang Group or the NIS to outwit their opponents. Come on! But after the 6th or 7th episode, everything clicked and the drama took off. Lee Junki demonstrated again that he was an actor to watch. Although he overacted occasionally and could do without the numerous hairdo changes, his best moments in the drama gave me goose bumps. I hope he picks up an award or two for his role in TODAW.
 

Tying for fifth place: Dal Ja’s Spring and Surgeon Bong Dal Hee. I can give several “deep” reasons why I enjoyed these two dramas immensely (acting, plot, humor and so on) but I’ll just come straight to the point (even if it makes me sound utterly shallow… which I am) and name the two that really mattered to me: Lee Minki and Lee Beom Soo. Ha.

 

Herein begins my trembling…

And now for the ones that I didn’t get. As in they seemed widely loved but I didn’t get why they were so popular. And because I don’t understand their appeal (not fully) and am about to say why and thus provoke possible mass outrage, I’ll make this part as short as possible and then disappear. Maybe resurface with a new nick or something (although that might upset my namesake now frolicking in hamster heaven; RIP, thunderbolt…).

I watched Legend for four main reasons: Kim Jong Hak, Song Ji Na, Park Sang Won, and Choi Min Soo. Kim Jong Hak directed Eyes of Dawn and Sandglass, both written by Song Ji Na. I can go on endlessly about these two dramas (the dream cast, the sheer scale of production, the historical ripples, the heartbreak, etc.) but they are already so acclaimed I don’t need to. I loved Park Sang Won in Eyes of Dawn and he and Choi Min Soo were so good in Sandglass. And now both of them together with their Sandglass PD and writer were reuniting in Legend? Wow!

But something didn’t feel right from the start. I hated the first episode. The special effects felt amateurish and both Bae Yong Joon and Choi Min Soo made my hair stand with their creepy appearance (one all white flowing locks, the other so alien-like). I wailed when I saw Park Sang Won. Those dangling earrings!! He looked like a drag queen with a beard! Other things continued to niggle throughout the series. The Grecian attire of the priestesses and how their temple looked more Greek than ancient Korean. That mosquito-breeding (I swear those are larvae floating on top!) stagnant body of water around which the Goguryeo elders sat and yelled their heads off at each other. Dishy Chuh Ro’s original abode (before he became dishy) which looked like it came straight from that Disney staple, Beauty and the Beast. And the fact that he had a Darth Vader voice too (amazing how much echo you get from just wearing that mask). Jumuchi’s electrocuted hairdo (which I didn’t really mind because he was one of my favorite characters) and how quickly he and Dalbi fell in love (ah, that one I minded because it made no sense; hello, wasn’t she like just widowed?). The ordinariness of the four coveted symbols (one of them – I forgot which guardian it belonged to – looked particularly hideous). The ages of Dam Duk and Ho Gae (I about fell off my chair midway through the series when it dawned on me that Bae Yong Joon was playing a teenager).

I know. Artistic liberties and all. Stop griping. It’s a fantasy tale so cut it some slack. I honestly wouldn’t have minded so much if the writing was good. But it wasn’t and that was my biggest issue with Legend. This was the same Song Ji Na who wrote Eyes of Dawn and Sandglass? The plot felt loopy, the lines repetitive. I thought the story was headed in one direction (reuniting the four guardians and their symbols with the Joo Shin king) but the last few episodes took off like wayward horses and suddenly it was mostly politics. I won’t go into how I feel about the final episode since enough unhappiness has been expressed about it by even people who loved the drama.

But there were things I did like. The OST which I still can’t get enough of. Philip Lee who plays Chuh Ro with a presence that makes me do a double take and go slightly fangirly (just slightly, lol). Bae Yong Joon’s charismatic acting. His dedication despite his injuries. Lee Ji Ah who pulled off a surprisingly commendable performance after some act-y acting at the start. Choi Min Soo, black nail polish and bewildering “Now I’m wrinkled, now I’m not” transformations notwithstanding, who stole the show from even Dam Duk.

My final verdict? Legend’s quite good but there are much better period dramas out there.
 

Another drama that didn’t quite make it for me this year was Thank You. Which was a bummer because I really loved it for three-quarters of the series. It felt like a winner from Episode 1. Magical Blue Island. My favorite Gong Hyo Jin and Shin Goo (both of whom I first saw in that 2002 gem, Ruler Of Your Own World). Crackling chemistry between Jang Hyuk (who looked nothing like how I last remembered him in Please Teach Me English) and Choi Kang Hee. (Aside: I don’t understand when people say these two had no chemistry. I thought they had awesome chemistry! I thought he could never love another woman the way he loved her.) A winsome child actor whose acting made my jaw drop. Never mind that the medical scenes in the first few episodes were so sloppy and laughable (not that I laughed; I was too busy shielding my eyes from the blood that was splattering everywhere on screen). Never mind that this was written by Lee Kyung Hee whose last piece of work before Thank You was a real stinker. She did write Sang Doo! Go to School and Sorry I Love You, both of which I loved even if I thought the plots had a few holes. So I was cautiously hopeful. And I did feel so transported watching the first 12 episodes.

What went wrong then? I can’t pinpoint it exactly but starting from Episode 13 and especially in Episodes 14 and 15, I began to feel a growing dissatisfaction with Jang Hyuk’s character and with the writing (among other things). I found faults that weren’t apparent before. “Gee, stop posturing so much, Dr. Min!” It felt like Thank You had chosen to go down a very safe route, one that no longer held interest for me because I didn’t like how it left some things unresolved just so it could have that happily-ever-after ending that would please most people. I’ve read comments about how this drama was so uplifting and how it made you appreciate your loved ones, etc. But I didn’t feel uplifted at the end. I felt indignant and disappointed. I guess it’s my fault for switching affections midway and rooting for the second male lead instead of hottie Jang Hyuk. Don’t get me wrong. I liked Jang Hyuk and thought he delivered (for the most part). But oh, why did his character become so flat and predictable as the drama progressed?

Thus, after camping in the Thank You thread at soompi for weeks, I packed my bags sadly and left. Reading all the accolades there just made me feel so weird. Like my head needed examining because I was one of the rare few who couldn’t appreciate what made this a gem.
 

To end, 2007 was a great year for a kdrama addict. The ones I loved were really good and the ones I didn’t weren’t half bad at all. Thank you, sarahbeans, for your friendship and for the privilege of contributing a little something to your amazing blog.^^

 
RELATED POSTS

47 December 28, 2007April 6, 2017

The Year in Review, Part 3: Dahee Fanel’s drama round-up

by Dahee_Fanel

[And now for Dahee Fanel‘s comprehensive take on the past year! –javabeans]

First of all, I’d like to bow my head in deep gratitude to Javabeans, the highly esteemed writer of this blog, for inviting me to post a few thoughts here. I hope she won’t regret her decision after reading what I have to say, hehe.

2007 was an interesting year, at least for me, particularly when it comes to Korean dramas. I’ve watched dramas on a regular basis since I was old enough to walk and talk (I am, after all, Korean), but I’ve never undergone such a transformation in terms of how I approach dramas as I have in the past couple of years…although I suppose you could argue that it’s turned me into nothing but a picky bitch. (But weren’t you always a picky bitch, Dahee?)

Still, despite my pickiness, I managed to watch quite a handful of dramas this year, although I certainly didn’t manage to finish them all (blame school and the crappy work that some PDs and writers dish out, putting off viewers like me). In fact, I watched so many, I can’t possibly talk about them all here. So I’ll just pick a few notables and dish out some kudos, as well as one or two boos. Because boos are just as fun as kudos, if not as well-received.

DAHEE’S SONG OF THE DAY

Jo Kwan Woo – “천년애” (chun nyun ae), from the soundtrack of the drama The King & I. [ zShare download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Sageuk (aka Historical Dramas)

My greatest transformation probably happened in this area. I have never been a sageuk fan. In fact, you could say that I’ve always avoided them like they were infested with the plague…or, at the very least, calculus, neither of which are particularly good for my health. My reasons for this? They were hard to understand, especially for someone like me, whose Korean is by no means perfect, and who struggles hard enough with daily Korean, never mind ancient speech from the Joseon period. Also, my image of them always consisted of watching old men with unfortunate facial hair kowtowing to the king and intoning “전하아아아/Jeon-haaaa” (sort of the equivalent of “Your Majesty”) with all the belly strength they could muster. So is it any surprise that a young girl like me would be uninterested in watching men congratulate each other while carefully maneuvering the twigs stuck up their behinds? I think not.

Still, I’ve managed to watch some over the years, here and there, although never in any proper kind of timeframe or even sequence (with one or two exceptions, of course). So I know all about the classics, like Sang Do and Hur Joon. I even managed to enjoy what I saw of them, even if they never interested me enough to have me plonk down in front of the TV set for god knows how many hours at a time. (Sorry, I never did like Jewel in the Palace, aka Dae Jang Geum. I am clearly in the minority when it comes to that, however.)

But this year was different, maybe because it was truly the year that sageuk got the chance to shine. The three top broadcasting stations, SBS, MBC and KBS, dished out the money like there was no tomorrow, and allowed shows like Legend, Yi San, Dae Jo Young, Yeon Gae So Mun, and The King and I, among many others, to come into being. And the viewers liked it, with many of the shows garnering, at the very least, decent ratings.

Out of these, I bothered to watch only Legend, Yi San, and The King and I. I was bored stiff with Legend (please don’t kill me), and annoyed with Yi San (sorry, Lee Seo Jin), but The King and I…Ah, now that’s a different story entirely.

Starring Oh Man Seok, Jeon Gwang Ryul, Goo Hye Sun, and Go Joo Won, just to name a few, this is easily my favourite sageuk of the year (or perhaps ever), and, in my humble opinion, one of the best dramas overall of 2007. It has an interesting premise, setting it during the events that lead up to King Yeon San (the crazy king in the 2006 film The King and the Clown) and his bloody rule, and deciding to pinpoint on the story of one particularly famous eunuch who served both Yeon San and his father, one who is often mentioned with the dubious title of Greatest Eunuch of the Joseon Period: Kim Cheo Seon. But don’t mistake it for another Dae Jang Geum or Sang Do. This is not a drama about a single man or woman, and how he/she rose to the prominence that history grants him/her. Cheo Seon’s story is merely the outline for the events that occur, a kind of human stepping stone. It takes a much broader scope than the concentration on one single character would allow. And more than anything, this is a show about various characters’ relationships, and how they interact with and react to that most domineering of figures, the king.

I think that one of the reasons I love The King and I so much is also one of the reasons it’s losing in its ratings battle with Yi San. The King and I takes things slowly, building up the climax to come with countless different events, making it inevitable for anything but what happens to happen. I’m sure many people get impatient with that, especially since it often takes the limelight away from the supposed main character, Cheo Seon, but I love it. I love that the writer isn’t afraid to take the time to really develop the characters and the story, and to ignore such trifles as ratings in order to create a very tight script. And the PD’s certainly helping things along, although in the beginning he kept making silly, slow-motion fight sequences that made me squirt milk from my nose, and generally some highly old-fashioned camerawork, like the super high-speed mega close-up on a character’s face. Still, as the episodes have passed, silly scenes like that have all but disappeared, and things are progressing in excellent fashion.

And the acting? The acting just gets better and better. I must admit that when I first saw the cast, I was worried. I mean, the veteran actors who signed on to this project are all amazing, with folks like Jeon Gwang Ryul in the mix, and a great choice for leading actor in Oh Man Seok, who’s done sageuk plenty of times before, but…There were also people like Goo Hye Sun, Go Joo Won, Lee Jin and Jeon Hye Bin. They’re all relative newbies, and sageuk is a daunting task for even the most skilled of veterans. And it’s true that in the beginning, their acting was a bit of a problem. But as the episodes went by, they improved more and more, and currently, at over thirty episodes, Go Joo Won and Goo Hye Sun are showing acting that can honestly be called “good”, and even people like Jeon Hye Bin have startled me with their improvement. Not every drama can make newbies realize the fundamentals of acting so quickly. It’s one of those telltale signs of a good drama – or a great one. I have high hopes for this show, and I’ll definitely be along for the ride as it continues on to its final episode.

Meaty Stuff

The King and I wasn’t the only drama I loved this year – there were also a couple of others that are definitely worthy of being mentioned in this post. One of them which I absolutely must mention, since I consider it to be the best drama of the year, is White Tower.

Starring Kim Myung Min and Lee Seon Kyun (whom a few pals of mine and I – are you reading this, unni? – have fondly called The Voice ever since the oh-so-lovely gem Taereung National Village), this is not the kind of drama that those who typically enjoy lighter fare would go for. It’s dark, it’s heavy, it’s psychologically complex, and even heartbreaking. Oh, and by the way? There’s almost nil romance, so for those who like to see the main leads prove the true essence of lurrrrve by sacrificing sleep and tear ducts, I suggest you look elsewhere. But for everyone else…Oh mama. This is one hell of a good drama. Especially for people like me, who tend to get more annoyed by all the lovey-dovey shenanigans than anything else.

Kim Myung Min plays Jang Joon Hyuk, a brilliant surgeon with overwhelming ambitions. Because of those ambitions, he does some pretty nasty things, and ultimately, his actions catch up with him. This is no nice, I’m-a-perfect-prince-charming-with-perfect-hair protagonist. He’s pretty despicable at times, yet there is also evidence of real human emotion and vulnerabilities in him, which Kim Myung Min portrays marvelously in one of the best performances of the year, allowing the viewer to sympathize with him despite his many moral failings. This drama is politically charged, smart, and, well, mind-boggling. You have to actually think as you watch – the writer and PD never assume that the viewer is stupid, which is a blessing, considering how many other shows seem to make this assumption. Think Korean dramas are all romantic fluff and oceans of tears? One peep at this, and you’ll definitely change your mind…although, admittedly, this show is based on a Japanese novel by Toyoko Yamazaki.

And White Tower wasn’t the only smart, dark, psychologically intense drama this year. There were also the shows The Devil and Time of Dog and Wolf, which, although on a lesser scale than White Tower, were definitely very good.

The Devil was created by the same writer-PD duo who brought us the 2005 masterpiece that is Rebirth, which starred Uhm Tae Woong, Go Joo Won, and Han Ji Min. The Devil also stars Uhm Tae Woong, but with Joo Ji Hoon and Shin Min Ah instead. It’s another revenge drama, a la Rebirth, but this one delves into darker crimes, with a bit more shades of gray in terms of “evil” and “good”. There’s a devil inside every one of us, but the difference is the levels of control that we maintain over that devil. The main characters of The Devil are tormented by their demons, and together they play a dangerous cat and mouse game, one in which many lives are at stake, and just might eventually bring down judgment upon the sinners.

I personally don’t think that The Devil is quite the masterpiece that Rebirth was, if only because it felt a little more preachy, and the characters weren’t as fleshed out as they were in the latter. Still, this is definitely one of the top dramas of the year, with incredible writing from the ever-reliable Kim Ji Woo, and very good work from PD Park Chan Hong. Also, the acting? Great acting – although, again, not as good on a wider scale as it was in Rebirth. Uhm Tae Woong was as amazing as always, but Joo Ji Hoon? I admit I was worried when he first joined the cast, since he was such a newbie, and I admit I was not very impressed with his (wooden) turn as Prince Shin in Goong. But is life ever full of surprises, or what? Through this drama, he’s definitely shown that he has lots of talent, and a huge potential to get better and better. Watching him in that final scene in episode twenty, I could hardly believe that this was the same actor I’d rolled my eyes over in Goong. It just goes to prove that, with lots of hard work and dedication, even bad actors can become good. I seriously want to walk up to this guy and shake his hand in congratulations.

Then there was Time of Dog and Wolf. I admit I’m a big Lee Jun Ki fan, so of course I was looking forward to this, especially since I also have a soft spot for Jung Kyung Ho and Nam Sang Mi. It turned out to not be as high-quality as either The Devil or White Tower, but it was still one of the most addictive dramas of the year, with some highly commendable acting from the three leads, as well as the great supporting cast. The writing bothered me at times, by delving into the occasional cliche and easy choice, but it was definitely better than, say, the writing in last year’s horror daily drama, Dear Heaven, so all is forgiven. I loved the play of evil and good in some characters, and how things were never easy or one-dimensional. I loved the scale of human emotion, and that overall film noir quality it had. And the production values were amazing. Awesome use of mise en scene. I was really blown away by PD Kim Jin Min’s work.

Trendy Dramas

Then there were the trendy dramas. Probably the most famous of them this year was Coffee Prince, starring Yoon Eun Hye, Gong Yoo, Lee Seon Kyun, and Chae Jung Ahn. I started watching this because I adored PD Lee Yoon Jung’s work in Taereung National Village, and just the fact that she was teaming up again with Lee Seon Kyun was enough to set me drooling. And, as expected, Coffee Prince had some very capable directing, even if it had a few problems in terms of pacing here and there. The writing was okay, too, with a few highlights sprinkled in, and the acting was pretty good overall – nobody stank to the point of infesting the entire drama, anyway, which is always something to be grateful for. I didn’t adore this drama like a lot of people did, but it was fun, it had some touching moments and a beautiful atmosphere, and I liked that they were willing to tackle the subject of homosexuality, albeit in a pretty safe and standard way (I’m saying this from the viewpoint of someone who’s seen the 2006 cable drama Hyena). Yoon Eun Hye still isn’t a brilliant actress, but there’s always hope. And the character of Eun Chan suited her to a T, which definitely helped.

Another one worth mentioning is Thank You. This was writer Lee Kyung Hee’s comeback drama after the absolute mess and incredible disappointment that was A Love To Kill, and it was a very good comeback indeed. It looked like she’d completely thrown off the writer’s block that obviously hampered her in A Love To Kill, and managed to produce a heartwarming script that could turn on the waterworks, no problem. In fact, I cried watching the first episode alone, which is slightly embarrassing, but true. And okay, so the quality tended to go down as the episodes wore on, and I ended up feeling rather frustrated over the handling of certain things, especially in the script, but this is still one of those dramas that’ll leave you with a smile on your face.

And Shin Goo? Yeah, Shin Goo’s amazing. Well, duh he is, he’s one of the top veteran actors in Korea, but this year, he really showed his acting chops, by playing not only the pure-hearted grandpa with a fetish for chocopies in Thank You, but also the selfish, ambitious eunuch in The King and I. Now that’s range. And this has been a great year for Gong Hyo Jin too, what with starring in M, directed by the oh-so-great Lee Myung Se, the Heo Jin Ho film Happiness, and this little drama. That’s quite the impressive credits she’s amassed in one year. And, of course, little Seo Shin Ae is a darling, and a great little actress to boot, and Shin Sung Rok moved a little closer to TV stardom through his fascinating character. And because I know the ladies are waiting for it, Jang Hyuk does very well for himself for his first drama out of the military, even if he isn’t awe-inspiring or anything. (I’m sorry, but his pecs do nothing for me. I must be a little rattled in the head, I know.)

As for the currently airing drama Insoon Is Pretty…Of course I haven’t finished watching this yet, but this, too, is a disappointment in many ways. The first episode was absolutely lovely, a beautiful love letter to all those folks with low self-esteem out there, and smacked of a very indie-ish, female-centered feel. But things went a little awry as the episodes wore on, and there’s no longer that “tug” that a drama has to have in order to completely engross its viewers. Sure, there are still some redeeming qualities – Kim Hyun Joo is as gorgeous as ever, and her acting has gained a certain depth during that two year break of hers. Kim Min Joon still can’t act, but he’s very digestible here, and his character can be rather cute. In fact, pretty much all the characters are cute at one point or another – like Thank You, this drama seems to take the stance that everyone has a good side to them, even if they sometimes act otherwise. The celebrity storyline is very blah, and I wish the writer wouldn’t take such a standard approach to everything. Still, it has some really touching moments, and I fully intend on watching it to the very end…which is more than I can say for certain dramas that shall go unnamed.

Lastly, Dal Ja’s Spring was Chae Rim’s comeback drama, and Lee Min Ki’s first role as a heart-stopping, gangly Prince Charming. I really enjoyed this one, thanks largely, I think, to Lee Min Ki’s quirky charms and the witty writing. Plus, it was really cute. And okay, it devolved into some cliches in the end, but this drama still made me laugh like a loony, and had some really endearing characters. And I liked the episodic feel to it. It kept things interesting and fresh. Also, have I mentioned that it stars Lee Min Ki? It is not possible for me to have enough love for this man. So adorable.

Family Dramas

I didn’t actually watch a lot of these kinds of dramas this year, which is something of a blessing, considering how mediocre and unimaginative they usually are. But I did manage to see some of Winter Bird, Ah Hyeon Dong Madam, and My Man’s Woman (I’ve lumped this one in with the rest, due to the theme of extramarital affairs that is so damn popular amongst Friday dramas…not that My Man’s Woman was a Friday drama).

And…well…My Man’s Woman was okay, with some great actors in the mix, like Bae Jong Ok and Kim Hee Ae, but…I dunno, it was just another Kim Soo Hyun drama. She’s called the greatest writer in Korea for a reason, I suppose, but it had all the same tropes and even the same kind of ending that she always writes. And I’m sick of all those dramas about husbands cheating on their wives. And I felt that Kim Hee Ae’s character was handled in an overly femme fatale kind of way. I guess I’m just not into this genre?

As for Winter Bird…Man, I wish Park Sun Young would stop starring in family dramas, and go for some meatier roles. She has the talent; why not use it? I adored her in Oh! Pil Seung, Bong Soon Young, but haven’t seen her act a truly notable character since. And I’m sorry, but I rolled my eyes a lot at all the melodramatic, overdone shenanigans (“I’m married! But I love him! But he’s my adoptive brother!”). And Yoon Sang Hyun really, really grates on my nerves.

Ah Hyeon Dong Madam…Well, it seems to be pretty light-hearted so far, and at least it doesn’t seem to have descended to the hysterics of Dear Heaven yet, but it’s only a matter of time. This is, after all, Im Seong Han that we’re talking about. Her dramas always start off okay, and then inevitably descend into terrifying levels of hell, populated by parental disapproval and lots and lots of cancer.
Comedy

Best comedy of the year? Hands down, Mixed-Up Investigative Agency, aka Evasive Inquiry Agency. Forget sitcoms like The Unstoppable High Kick, which tended to go up and down in terms of quality. MIA stars Lee Min Ki, which of course makes my heart drip into all kinds of butter, along with Ye Ji Won, Ryu Seung Soo and Lee Eun Sung. Is that not a great cast? And it’s written by Park Yeon Seon, the wonderful writer behind such gems like Alone in Love, and the hit film My Tutor Friend. And the really refreshing thing about this drama? Not only is it belly-achingly hilarious, but it doesn’t make the romance the central aspect of the show, which, like with White Tower, is nothing but all kinds of awesome. (Not that I hate romance or anything, despite what it may seem by reading everything I’ve written so far. It’s just that I hate romance just for romance’s sake…If it doesn’t do anything for your show, DON’T PUT IT IN! Who cares about ratings, anyway? Just try to write a high quality drama, and people, no matter how few, will appreciate it. Viewers know crap when they see it…it’s just that they tend to ignore that fact a lot of the time.) Thank you, Park Yeon Seon, for penning a drama that is a true comedy.

Final Thoughts…

Of course I left out a lot of different dramas that I also saw from this write-up, but that’s mostly because I don’t care to write about stuff I either didn’t really care about or nearly threw up watching, and also because this is way too long already. (Is anyone even still reading this?)

Like I said before, 2007 was an interesting year. It had a pretty wide variety of different dramas, with the immense popularity of the sageuk, the full-force return of the medical drama (Lee Beom Soo was hot in Surgeon Bong Dal-hee), and some really good, gritty dramatic dramas (I dare you to say that ten times fast). So there was lots of hope for the K-drama world, but there was also some pretty embarrassing crap which do not bear mentioning. *cough*Hello! Miss! Witch Amusement!*cough* Here’s to crossing our fingers for an even better K-drama run in 2008. I think that’s something we can all agree on.

RELATED POSTS

54 December 29, 2007April 6, 2017

The Year in Review, Part 4: The Rest of 2007

by javabeans

Yes, my last post was “The Best of 2007,” but rather than put up a Worst list, I’m lumping them all together with The Rest. Not all the dramas I’m mentioning here are bad; they’re just dramas I watched that didn’t belong in the Best list.

SONG OF THE DAY

War of Money OST – “알 수 없는 일” (unknowable thing) by Sweet Sorrow [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

BAD COUPLE

I could go into a whole deep analysis of what went wrong with Bad Couple, and I’ll try to explain in more detail in just a moment, but honestly? I think I can sum it up with very few words:

In short?

Bad Couple went from THIS:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

to THIS:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

(That’s “달콤한 당신” (Sweet you) [ Download ]
and “불안의 세조각” (three fragments of worry) [ Download ])

I started watching Bad Couple on a whim, not really knowing what it was about, and quickly found myself enjoying the silly, outrageous antics of Shin Eun Kyung‘s Dang Ja character as she paraded around trying to seduce the indifferent Gi Chan, played by Ryu Su Young. Now in her thirties and biological clock ticking, she wants to be a cool single mom because childhood scars prevent her from believing marriage is a sustainable institution; so, she plans to get knocked up by a prime DNA candidate, then never deal with him again. Of course, the tables quickly turn and her plan backfires when Mr. Perfect DNA — with a much more sheltered and conservative outlook than her worldly one — falls for her, and determines to win her over.

Cute, right? Bad Couple is laugh-out-loud funny, sweet, and outrageous for its first six episodes. Ryu Su Young is adorably smitten, and the relationship between a cavalier, independent female versus an old-fashioned, socially conservative male (she’s had a truckload of exes; he’s a virgin) is different from the kdrama norm.

But episode 7 marked a drastic shift, and all of a sudden we were in a different drama. The two lead actors do their valiant best to continue on — they’re skilled veterans for a reason — even though the story suddenly jumps ship. What had been so light-hearted and fizzy is all of a sudden mired in doom and gloom and cancer. It’s so depressing and tragic. I felt totally suckered — complete bait and switch! Still, I was curious to see how the Happy Ever After would come about, and stuck around. Unfortunately, I think the writers didn’t — by episode 12 or 13, the story was limping along as though everyone involved had thrown in the towel and were too disheartened to continue. The ending fizzled and all the lovable pep and vitality of the early episodes had long been siphoned away.

If you’re a lover of trendy romantic comedies who doesn’t care about finishing a series, I’d actually suggest watching the first six episodes — they’re pretty amusing and very watchable. After that, feel free to abandon ship.

========================================================================== 

WITCH AMUSEMENT

Witch Amusement OST – “If” by Jeon Hye Bin [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Witch Amusement taught me to be wary of anticipating a series purely from its scant pre-release information. I was so sure this series was going to be a fun, rollicking good romp. Perhaps I was too enamored of Jae Hee, He of the Many Hilarious Facial Expressions. Perhaps I had too much faith in the director Jeon Ki Sang after loving his prior two series, Delightful Girl Chun Hyang and My Girl. Perhaps I didn’t realize how much a good director can be hampered by bad writers. The series looks great — colorful, bright, glossy — and the PD makes full use of visual gimmicks to their full comic effect. Such as:

But the writing! The writer(s) had five good episodes in them (I really thought I was gonna like the series through episode 5), and frittered the eleven remaining ones away in absurd contrivances and just plain wackiness. All this was not helped by the fact that the cast, while very pretty to look at, ranges from mildly wooden to downright incompetent. And Han Ga In isn’t even the worst of them — she’s not the best actress in the biz, but she’s extremely pretty and her character’s not that challenging, so I had faith she could scrape by. The others, though… shudder. Jae Hee is the only truly decent actor in the main cast (the actor playing his father in a minor supporting role is perhaps the only other talented actor in the entire drama). Were producers hoping good looks would carry the series more than strong acting? Someone should tell the PD to think with his head and not his… other head.

And yet, for all of Witch Amusement‘s flaws — there are so many — I can’t hate it. Because oddly enough, no matter how aggressively stupid the story got, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I rolled my eyes at the ridiculous antics, but they were good-natured eye-rolls (as opposed to the aggravated variety provoked by series like Air City, which made my eyeballs physically hurt inside my head from the force of the upward movements). Plus, while some dramas are bad in that they are annoying or obnoxious, and may make you want to stick forks in eyes or hands or other body parts (theirs, not your own, of course), Witch Amusement is merely bad in that it’s stupid. You can hate someone for being offensive or obnoxious, but you can’t really resent someone for stupid.

I’ve never found a drama so bad that I enjoyed so much. Honestly, the Witch Amusement recaps were among the most fun I’ve written, and if I could decide to watch the series again based on what I know now, I’d still watch it. Maybe it’s that the series grew so unhinged and insane that it crashed into campy territory — only it didn’t know it. And who can hate camp? After all, it gave us THIS:

 

HELLO! MISS

Hello Miss OST – “Round ‘n Around” [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Lee Da Hae, what were you thinking? Actually, to be fair, lots of people in this drama were too good for its silliness. I’m not sure whom to blame for Hello Miss‘s descent into near-self-parody. The director, for having a loose rein on the goofiness? The original novel upon which the series is based? The scriptwriters for adapting poorly? The actors? The series substituted plot contrivances for drama, sudden character transformations for development, and daffiness for humor.

Well, one thing you CAN call Hello Miss is good-natured. It didn’t mean to be bad. But a frustrating thing is that it doesn’t seem to have tried very hard to be good, either. (Obviously I’m projecting onto the series; who’s to say they didn’t try hard? I just mean they didn’t try hard enough.) A lot of times you can almost see a drama straining to be good, to be better than itself, kind of like Kim Tae Hee goggling her eyes furiously in a misguided attempt to go for “fierce” or “intense.” And in those cases, you say, “It didn’t make it, but at least they tried.” Like with Bad Love, which is pretty awful — but you can see how they’re GOING for it, trying to be intense and sexy and aggressive. Hello Miss? Not so much. It’s like all they ever wanted to be was mediocre. (And they didn’t really even make it that far.)

As with Witch Amusement, it feels rather mean-spirited to slag on a drama that’s so benign, so haplessly bland, that the worst you can say is, “Ah, well. They’ll do better next time.” I hope that’s true.

 

AIR CITY

Air City OST – “Preguntas” by Kang Ta. I’m fairly certain that this song is supposed to be in Spanish, just as I’m fairly sure that he’s mangling the language shamefully. But his voice does have a nice mellow flow to it. [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Aie, Air City. Readers of my Air City recaps may already be cringing in anticipation. Well, I’ll try to be nice.

When I watched Air City, I was wrapping up a string of disappointing dramas watched almost back-to-back — Witch Amusement, Hello Miss, Bad Couple — which may have contributed to the reason I’m so wary of committing to a potential stinker these days. A drama can start off with a bang, then drop in quality so precipitously that you might find yourself reluctantly stuck watching a rapidly sinking series, futilely hoping it’ll improve. With so many GOOD dramas around these days, it just seems silly to stick with a hopeless case when you could be enjoying yourself with something else, right? And yet, there’s always the niggling thought, But what if it gets better? I’ve already spent hours invested in this. I might as well just finish it off… I believe I used this analogy previously in regards to Air City, but it’s like finishing off a huge plate of food after you’re already full, just because you paid for it, never mind the fact that you don’t even enjoy the eating anymore.

I never thought Air City would be a fantastic drama, but its first four episodes delivered what they promised — action, a little bit of intrigue, a hint of romance, and mindless fun. And then that fell apart and stuff just became ridiculous. The pacing was all over the place, going from super-action-packed fight scenes rife with guns and gangs, then seaside frolicking, then smugglers, then BIRDS. All interspersed with random interludes in the airport and a romance that went nowhere. Actually, the entire love triangle went nowhere, so technically that’s two potential dead-end romances. (Or three, if we’re playing that game.) Oh, plus there’s a cancer-stricken woe-is-me female who’s too virtuous to disclose her illness to her ex-lover because she wants him to be happy with his new lady-love. Blech. Not even my long-abiding love for Lee Jung Jae, whose intense, charismatic acting held up the series at its low points, could make me like this series. I’ve never had great admiration for Choi Ji Woo‘s acting, although she IS beautiful and elegant — but those qualities are nowhere near enough to buoy Air City‘s muddled plotlines.

 

GOONG S

Goong S OST – “구름같은 세상” (Cloud-like world) by Second Moon
[ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Thinking about it now, Goong S is an even bigger travesty than I first judged it. Had I not been determined to stick with the series because I was working on the subs, I would have dropped it early on. The series picked up in its last quarter, but oh man, those middle episodes were painfully boring.

But the thing is, Goong S should have been so much better. I was never a great fanatic over the original Goong, but I did enjoy most of it until the last stretch of episodes, and by that point I had enough lingering interest to wade through the ending. Goong S (spinoff, not sequel) was produced by the same people, with the same attention devoted to costuming and set design, and a soundtrack that was a pleasing mix of classical-style “royal” sounds and the modern. I wasn’t a Se7en fan (or Choi Dong Wook per his acting alias, although he may not be doing any more acting after this) — but the guy’s a big star, and his fans were expected to flock to the series in droves.

What gets my goat about Goong S is that it had all the makings of being a success — not just in terms of popular appeal but in its storytelling and production. There was so much potential here, it’s sickening to see it not only wasted, but ground into the dirt and stomped on by the very ones charged with preserving it. People like kdramas for lots of different reasons, but for me, story is king. And you know what? Goong S has all the makings of a GREAT trendy drama story. I like Goong S‘s story and premise so much better than the original Goong, which was riddled with plot holes a mile wide but was sustained on the charm of its cast and the novelty of the setup: a young couple’s arranged marriage set within the backdrop of a modern-day monarchy.

Goong S isn’t an original story — reverse Cinderella — but I remember being excited about all the wondrous, complex dynamics that could be woven with its premise. First of all, Se7en’s Prince Hoo is completely not hero material when we first meet him as a commoner. (He’s rowdy, enthusiastic, coarse, totally vain in a harmless way.) His rival for the throne and for the girl is much more the typically romantic-hero character. While we’ve seen the poor-girl’s rags-to-riches story depicted tons of times before, it’s much rarer to explore the male version. You may notice many times in kdramas that although females can grow and develop and learn, the only changing a male lead usually undergoes is restricted to the fiesty heroine warming his cold, cold heart. He doesn’t actually get a chance to develop as a character. But Prince Hoo would.

It’s not just the gender reversal that fascinated me — it’s how that reversal works with the romantic pairing(s). Poor girl and rich guy, we know how that ends. Poor guy and rich girl, that’s a little less common but it’s not something totally out of the ordinary. But in Goong S, we start with two people on the same level — Hoo first falls for a commoner, Soon-yi. He’s actually known her since they were children, and they were each other’s childhood crushes. Thus they find comfort with each other as both are brought to palace life (he as a newly discovered royal, she as a servant) where both feel like outsiders. They’re cut from the same cloth. Then, Prince Hoo grows into his own and cultivates his inner gentility, developing from an impetuous adolescent into a thoughtful young man — and his romance is tested as he rises in outward status and she does not. But despite the growing chasm between their social ranks, she’s still the one who knows him best — and considering how important Hoo’s mother is to him, and the story, it’s significant that she’s the only person who knew Hoo’s mother as he did (the rest of the world knows the version of her that was slandered in the press).

Speaking of which, the political intrigues also worked better for me in Goong S than the original Goong. The evil masterminds in both series aspire to hijacking the throne, but in Goong S, it’s more understandable as the rival Prince’s father is fighting to reclaim his son’s line in the succession, which was secure until just recently. The politics are blurrier — should the throne go to the one with the closest blood tie and the birthright, despite the fact that the person is ill-equipped and unfamiliar with the duties of the position? Or should it go to the person who’s been groomed his entire life to take the position, one who’s demonstrated many times over that he’s capable and competent, but who’s discovered to be just one step further away in the bloodline? This dynamic was touched upon between Princes Shin and Yul in Goong, but barely. Here, the two princes are painted in much more disparate terms.

So why didn’t it work?

Quite clearly, acting was the main problem. It’s kind of shameful to think that the acting was SO poor that so many other positive attributes couldn’t make up for it. I don’t believe the fault lies entirely with Se7en (he did improve the most, while the other leads seemed to steadily worsen), but as the most high-profile cast member, it was his burden to bear. And while he was cute with Heo Yi Jae as Soon-yi, good LORD if the girl couldn’t get out a single sentence without gasping. I thought she was bound to swallow her tonsils by accident, the way she hyperventilated her way through the show. Kang Doo as gentle Prince Joon was horribly miscast, and that’s not even accounting for that fact that he looked a decade older than everyone else. Park Shin Hye came into the series with a positive reputation but seemed completely out of place; she was like a little girl in mommy’s makeup and heels, trying to be older, manipulative, sexy. I cringed whenever she tried to seem “mature” and came off silly instead. Myung Se Bin was one of the only decent actors as the reigning monarch, but the series couldn’t even let THAT alone and had to pair her opposite the charisma-killer, Professor Alex van der whatsher Esterhoosy or whatever. The man could not ACT, nor could he speak English. You wanted to stop him in the middle of “acting” and tell him, “Come on, this is embarrassing for us both.”

The sheer amount of wasted potential with Goong S is just… sad. Deservedly so, it performed dismally in the ratings, ending somewhere in the 4% vicinity. For a (quality) mania drama like Mixed-up Investigative Agency, you could brush aside poor numbers and say the drama was underappreciated; for a star vehicle and high-budget, highly anticipated trendy drama like Goong S, it was disaster.

And yet, perversely enough, despite really only enjoying the last four episodes, I have an inexplicable soft spot for Goong S. Maybe it’s all those dreams of what could have — SHOULD HAVE — been.

 

IN A NUTSHELL… (Yes, my nutshells are fairly big)

 
Capital Scandal: I keep meaning to continue watching this series, but haven’t yet gotten around to a marathon. Kang Ji Hwan is one actor I’ve kept my eye on, although I won’t necessarily follow something just because he’s in it (for instance, nothing will induce me to watch 90 Days’ Time to Love even though from what I’ve seen — a few scattered episodes — he’s very good in it). Capital Scandal is penned by Coffee Prince novelist and scriptwriter Lee Seon Mi, which is another plus in its favor. And the chemistry between Kang Ji Hwan and Han Ji Min‘s characters is purported to be cute and enjoyable. But the thing holding me back from jumping into the series whole-heartedly is that from the first couple of eps, it feels so slapstick. I prefer my humor sly and subversive, not so overtly jokey. The comparison that always springs to mind when considering the combination of Capital Scandal‘s period setting and its brassy humor is Dick Tracy. Still, I will probably get around to it one of these days.

 

Bottom of the 9th with 2 Outs: I admit I wrote off this series based on the first episode, which wasn’t bad but felt overwhelmingly ordinary. But judging from the cries of protest at having left the series off as a selection for “best series” in my informal poll a month ago, I figured I’d go back and give it a shot. I did take someone’s suggestion and skipped a bunch of episodes, after [SPOILER] Nan Hee breaks up with her younger boyfriend and things develop in earnest with her long-time best friend, played by Lee Jung Jin. I didn’t care about the younger kid, and it seems the friend-to-lover arc was where the series gets most interesting, anyway. [END SPOILER] The initial relationship setup of Su Ae‘s 30-year-old “old maid” Nan Hee and her younger, puppyish boyfriend felt like a retread of territory mined in far better dramas, so I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. The baseball analogy, however, while clever on one level, was so heavy-handed. It’s like they were afraid you wouldn’t get it despite pounding the metaphor in from all sides, and just Kept. Hammering. It. In. Dude, we get it. I wish the production team had a little more faith in its audience to pick up on themes and nuances for ourselves. The series, which I haven’t finished yet, is better than I first supposed, although I’m not really hooked. I think the drama is hampered by ordinariness in all aspects of its execution — directing, music (standard blah stuff), the atmosphere of the series — which is one strike against it (ha, pun), but those should be tolerable if the story rises above those pedestrian elements.

 

Get Karl Oh Soo Jung: Waste of an interesting setup. A good-natured loser (Oh Ji Ho) is dumped by his pretty, materialistic fiancee (Uhm Jung Hwa); years later, he returns as a sought-after, rich hottie, while his still-single ex is wearing out her shelf life, no longer the hot young thang she used to be. There’s an inherent sense of schadenfreude, a gleeful joy we experience at seeing our formerly lofty foes brought down to our level (or below), so that was an interesting dynamic to explore. Or it should have been. I blame Karl‘s blahness on its director, who managed to make potentially funny scenes draggy and ruined the sense of pacing in what should’ve been a lively, sparkling screwball comedy. It was touted as the male version of 200 Pound Beauty, and whatever you may think of the film, it was hugely popular, so had the setup for this series been handled well, there was an open market available right at its feet. I don’t know anyone who finished Karl so there was nobody to urge me to continue, and perhaps that’s no big loss.

 

War of Money: This drama was one of the biggest ratings hits this year, leaping into the 30% range early in its run and staying there throughout. I, on the other hand, not only disliked the first two episodes but was so thoroughly annoyed and aggravated that I made an active decision NOT to follow this drama to preserve my blood pressure. I’m perfectly willing to allow that War of Money might be a good drama, but I have no interest in watching it. Part of why I think it was so successful is because the topic is of universal concern, and the issue of loan sharks and unscrupulous private lenders is a very serious problem for many Koreans these days. (Another reason: ajummas love Park Shin Yang.) It hit a nerve with audiences and they followed in droves. However, the ending was a little iffy — so much so that the producers whipped up a four-episode “Bonus Round” to appease potentially irate viewers. (My suggestion: How about you maybe not piss them off intentionally in the first place, and forget the half-baked bonus-round alternate ending altogether?) [SPOILERY] I understand the reasoning behind the dramatic ending — killing off the main character on his wedding day — because apparently the writers wanted to highlight that the “war” of money is truly a war. Harsh, cold, unforgiving. Theoretically, the idea has merit. Realistically speaking, it pissed off fans, and the weird Bonus Round — which features the same main character but a different, unrelated storyline — just confused them further.[END]

 

Auction House: Valiant effort to try something new, but hasn’t quite mastered the form it’s attempting. Auction House was an effort to model Korean dramas after American series that follow the episodic template — shows like CSI and House that feature one “case” per episode and are able to stand on their own, and are self-contained enough that they can be watched out of order. A second season is already being planned, centering around plastic surgeons — in which case it’s not really a second season so much as it’s a second attempt at the same concept by the same production team. In any case, I didn’t dislike Auction House, and I never made a conscious decision to stop watching it. I just forgot to keep watching. It seems the stories are mostly taken from true cases, and when the series actually gets into the details of the artwork itself or art history, it’s pretty interesting. Jung Chan impressed me with his self-assured, strong acting in Lovers last year, and he’s the best part of the cast here; too bad I could never feel anything for the main lead, Yoon Soyi. If you’re watching this, is it worth finishing?

 

Legend: For a brief time a couple months ago after Coffee Prince ended, I had nothing to watch, nothing to recap, and my real-life workload was light. So I picked up Legend and gave it a shot. I wasn’t blown away, but it was sufficiently different from my preconceived notions of what sageuks (historical dramas) were like. Like Dahee mentioned in her write-up, I grew up with sageuk dramas always playing in the background at home, with badly costumed actors affecting their most severe facial expressions and intoning “Ma-maaaaa” and “Jeon-haaaa” in grave, humorless ancient Korean syntax. Bo-ring. But the sageuk has evolved, and while it’s always been known as the turf for serious, quality acting, they started to become — gasp! — entertaining as well. Allegedly. And I could see why Legend caught people’s attentions. It was flashy, it was showy — and it was so damn proud of itself for its grandiose scale and expense! When life got busy again, Legend dropped off my radar, and reading about its finale gives me no desire to revisit. From what I’ve seen, it’s got its strengths, but they’re not consistent; it’s rather uneven given the high level of talent both behind and in front of its cameras.

 

And there you have it. The past year in dramas.

(I know! She’s finally shutting up!)

Many, many thanks to my guest bloggers Thunderbolt and Dahee Fanel for participating in this wrap-up! May 2008 be filled with lots and lots of kdrama entertainment.

 
RELATED POSTS