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Hail to the year of time traveling, super natural, smoking hot lead men, equally steamy second lead men and a lot more awesomeness waiting to be unveiled. 

I was upfront Flight KD2012, and so far half-way to the year I’m much enjoying my stay here .  There are some in the list I didn’t include because…

a.  I don’t like it for reasons I don’t know either 

b.  I found the storyline not worthy of my time and

c.  I’m not a fan of the actors or the production team

P.S  My annual drama picks will be reserved for the year end so this will just be to keep up with the so far amazing 2012KDrama ride.

♥ Wild Romance (Jan-Mar) ♥

Dear Wild Romance,

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

It was one hell of a sweet, wild ride, and although the romance manifested itself in the latter part, I found this drama charming and endearing. I will miss the humor, the bickering and the adorable geek and geeker second leads, more than that I will miss Dong Wook oppa in his childish but still melting hot prince-like self. I will miss the heartfelt, true-about-love sweeping lines and the simple and yet vibrant attitude of the drama itself. This is how to open my KDramaLand stay for this year. No clingy hopelessly vulnerable ex-gf of the main male lead. check. (although the ex-gf here, even at the end still can’t figure out her character I’ll just let it pass, she didn’t ruin the drama anyhow).

With amusing deutero-couple in their amazing wit, extraordinary relationship and erotic fantasies. check. A villain who sent me to annoyance but redeemed herself in the end because she threw the-best-who-do-you-choose-to-love-on-the-spot-situational-quizbee in the KDrama History. check. One of the best episodes I’ve seen and I hope I can justify it in recap well. check. This was another memorable love story full of fun, transparency, understanding and realization that love is choosing to make a change with your feelings to the point of even defying fate. check. This is a love tale you won’t overlook and will make you appreciate love even more.

When a baseball star got an anti-fan for a bodyguard, a series of unfortunate events will certainly be eventual and a sure delightful to watch. Thus Eun-jae and Moo-yul’s literal evolution I didn’t hesitate to be bought by. The story is simple taking care of the baseball superstar who has been hindering your favorite baseball team to claim a championship under its belt. With side dishes of ex-robotic gf, a psychopath and the breezy supporting cast, the story unfolded and left me wondering on how it was able to creep inside me in an addictive kind of way.

This deviated from the usual male domineering “I’ll protect the girl” kind of thing as I marveled on how Eun-jae candidly grace the TV screen. And while she took charge, she manifested her cute girly side when Aphrodite forcedly gave her girdle to the bodyguard who in time fell for Moo-yul’s devilish but adorable charm.

It has a simple scriptwriting, it was not that super neat, in fact there were some frustrating notes. It was nothing fancy but I love that they were able to inject crisp and fresh ideas. A few oh-so-worth-it quotes here and then and the danger of leaning to “the habit of assuming when it doubt with someone’s love” was presented in a piercing my love veins approach. The thriller mode was predictable all along but ajumma was able to pull off a gripping climax posing as a puppet master blinded by her out of place love for Moo-yul.

To be honest, I felt like I’m Paris while I’m trying to decide on my take about this drama. But like Paris, because I have a soft side on everything “love” even if Wild Romance was not barbie-like pretty, I loved it.

My recapping this drama is so far still a work-in-progress, and given my now extremely limited time, I just hope that in time I will be able to finish it. *super keeping my fingers crossed

And although this will not be the best drama of ‘em all for 2012, without a mirror to ask for, I would still say that this is one of my favorites this year.

♥ The Moon That Embraces The Sun  (Jan-Mar) ♥

How’s that for a title huh?

This has long been overdue, guess the push came to the thought of having four darlings currently airing and I might lose myself if I let my musings pile up to the size f a skyscraper.

My motivation for watching this drama is of course Jung Il Woo, and I’m gonna spoil a little but I hate his character’s closure here. Well come on,he didn’t get the girl and you let him die… that’s my boyfriend over there trying to be a man for the love of his life, and a brother to a King who sometimes forget he is a King.

*deep breath calming myself now, I’m sorry I got carried away.

This drama opens the year with a grand fireworks display. The ratings stay up even if there were times that I was wishing for it to speed up. But the production team sure know when they should wake you up when you are about to doze off so I remain positively raving.

The young love which blooms and defied time, reasons, and political issues are what makes the production applauded I believe. The strong and consistent character portrayals, supernatural seasonings, family issues and brotherly love cemented the viewers’ loyalty I say…

Set in the traditional Joseon era, the Crown Prince fought for the love of his life against the pressure of the position he held being manipulated by his grandmother who was intent in keeping the Royal line under her family. Just as he got to get the girl of his dreams, an evil plot through shamanic ability was disposed to kill the princess-to-be. The woman who put up the fake death took care of the princess who lost her memory after being traumatized waking up inside the wooden box.

Years later their paths crossed again, and what the mind can’t remember for the lead girl, was felt strongly by the King.

I like that the villains annoyed me to a hilt and made me scold the King when I felt he was not realizing he has actually the power to use as a King, but since he was really caught in between a not so good eventual outcome for the people he was protecting and the evil ploys of the head queen, I let his state of being caught off guard pass, and just prayed hard to heal his brother’s pain.

The second leads I can’t really complain much. They have justified whatever their roles require to help the story spinning.

The series as a whole was creatively conceived, but I won’t say I’m all praises to it compared to what I felt with the recent sageuks I saw (Tree with Deep Root and The Princess Man). It was euphoric on its strong notes and contemplating on its sad tones.

My verdict? This is a drama full of love and anguish, but you will eventually CHERISH it.

♥ DREAM HIGH 2 (Jan-Mar)

in progress and wondering if I will still finish it… it just felt  like a lousy mess and no amount of ice cream can encourage my appetite to go on.

♥ History of the Salaryman (Jan-Mar) ♥

And I’m back to modern-day living!  I halted finishing this drama that was aired in the beginning of the year and it spited me sweetly, giving me a lesson to finish all the dramas on time next year.  Looks like my “Fabulous Four” will become LUCKIEST SEVEN after all.  *wink

History of the Salaryman was a very intelligent story of people moving around the corporate world.  The recent World Wars would fail in comparison to the forming and disbanding of alliances in this drama as they race to who will snatch the contest for “the most ambitious of ‘em all”.

Playing on deceit, out-foxing and counter-scourging, I say this is the Most DARING and the SNAPPIEST Korean Drama for 2012.

 

In his quest to make a line of sight to his life, Yoo Bang hit the jackpot when he got the chance to be employed at ChunHa, a huge conglomerate, what he was not aware of was that he was set up to become a mole by the rival company who was determined to take down the company to ashes.  Just as he realized the situation, he was framed for the murder of the son of the Chunha Group’s chairman along with Baek Yeo-chi, the grand-daughter of the chairman who harbored hatred towards her uncle whom she knew was the reason for her parents’ death.  Yeo-chi and Yoo Bang joined their hands together and was able to clear their names with the help of Cha Woo Hee, an analyst for a “miracle drug” who was thwarted by the murdered executive after she stole the drug for them.  Accidentally though she put the medicine on Yoo Bang’s bag  and upon learning of its rsurrection, he and Yeo-chi used it as a weapon to get back on track and save the company for a threat of investors pulling out their support.

The mastermind of the rival company Choi Hang Woo held a grudge towards Chairman Jin Si Hwang whom he blamed for the death of his father who spent his youth in helping to build ChunHa group.  To avenge his mentor, a high executive in ChunHa posing as a spy to carry out their evil plan, Hang Woo shifted his movement with executive Bum Jung’s encouragement to be motivated on his mentor’s death.  The High Executives here are all so shifty and feeds on power I tell you that I have my suspicion radar on because they tend to switch places and loyalty overnight.

So Choi Hang Woo moved to ChunHwa and it’s time to battle out the position for the Vice President left behind by the murdered chairman’s son.  The chairman held a contest and two of the teams were able to sort out a plan involving one of the company’s factories.  Yeo-chi was moved under Hang-woo’s wing and they were up to wiping out the company.  They were able to secure bidders for their project with the help of an infamous gang lord who is also known to have good reputation in the Chinese market while Yoo-bang with executive Jang Ryang were up to restructuring the company.  In the end though Hang-woo and his team won the fight but Yoo-bang secured an ace which he will be using on his Yoo-bang-strikes-back-plan.

A blood sugar monitor was in the process of being constructed in the company but because of a missing blueprint that was stolen by Hang-woo’s jack-of-all-trade-boy-Friday Han-shin it was not completed.  Yoo-bang holding on to his gut feel was able to secure a capital to start his business and set the ball rolling for them.  Han-shin joined his camp and from him they were able to retrieve the blueprint of the blood sugar meter product that sparked his return to the scene.  ChunHa disputed and moved to stop the product by claiming it was first conceived in the company premises and stole the product information to file for a patent, so a contest was the solution to close the contention.  Team Yoo-bang copied exactly the product look of ChunHa to give them a dose of their own medicine.  On the day of the contest Yoo-bang who has made Han-shin spied his old master switched the product container and after the judging which was won by ChunHa he stopped the short lived Hang-woo happiness and pointed out that the product was switched revealing their company’s initial on the product cover.  Team Yoo-bang emerged victorious and has also mended a once broken relationship with Chairman Jin who lent them money through Jang Ryang’s investment company.

While all these guys were playing the out-smarting game, they didn’t notice an evil queen emerging on the side lines.  Executive Secretary Mo Ga Bi, whom Chairman Jin trusted the most, has changed the amount of insulin medication, and on the day that the chairman asked her to help writing the will.  After drafting the will, he tested her true colors, and when she stepped out to get him water he read what Mo Ga Bi wrote bequeathing all his shares to her instead of his grand-daughter, Yeo-chi.  In his furious self, he suffered an attack and the evil secretary left him to die.

 

The heiress lost her fortune as Mo Ga Bi claimed the Chairwoman position and the final bout for Yoo-Bang and Yeo-chi to oust the deranged Mo Ga Bi was a no easy task to conquer.

 

Divided in three parts, the three conflicts each quarter was an enthralling and exciting watch and I was like watching poker match as the defendants lay down their cards, one after the other, better than the last.  I like it when villains are smart and not just evil, and I liked it more that the main leads are not just smart but cheeky.

That girl Yeo-chi was a revelation, she was so superbly played I was enjoying her the same way as I enjoyed Dokko Jin.  Yoo-bang’s street smart abilities has also proven that good education cannot assure someone that he can also be good in strategy.  It was a character ensembles where there was no weak link thus bringing about a fluid and crisp movement of the actors in the story.

The corporate world is such a big, dangerous world and what this drama achieved was to present a miniature version of it that will leave life lessons that we always reap what we sow and that greed has two sides, when you became passionate in doing good you’ll earn a reward, but when you overwhelmed yourself with things you did not work hard, you’ll face your downfall.

The outwitting deals in kdramaland keeps getting better and I’m a happy camper because of it.  With the most vivacious cast for this year, and a story well plotted with no loose ends left hanging, it would be a waste not to see the story of the Salaryman.

A consistent gripping drive culminating to a fulfilling kick-ass who’s the boss now finale? — History of the Salaryman is a stimulating watch that will taunt you while leaving you inspired at the same time.  -jediprincess

 

♥ Feast of the gods (Feb-May)

haven’t started yet…

♥ Take Care of us, Captain (Jan-Mar)

halfway and I’m meaning to go back soon…

♥ Shut up Flowerboy Band (Jan-Mar)

don’t know when I will be starting on it…

♥ What’s Up? (Dec-Feb) ♥

last 6 episodes…

♥ Padam… Padam (Dec-Feb)

almost there last CD coming up!

Operation Proposal (Feb-Mar) ♥

Once upon a time there was a man who lacked confidence in declaring his love to the woman he loved since they were young so the girl was left no choice but to accept another man’s love.  Realizing too late that he let go of his one great love, the man cried and a bored time conductor was moved by his lamentation over losing the woman she cherished most.  So he was given a magical potion to drink and a weird renovation incantation to say for him to go back to the past to correct the wrong choices he made in his life and make room for the love he thought was meant for him and his girl.

Operation Proposal was sweetly and richly narrated that even if I went to a lot of time travelling this year, I enjoyed it so much.  I love how they moved the romance from young childish love to a taking time to realize kind of love to a love that didn’t understand reasons but felt what’s important and to a love that was meant to have and to give… 

Kang Baek Ho and Ham Yi Seul met when they were in grade school.  Baek Ho’s father died when he was young and his mother rarely do her duties so Yi Seul has been his rock while growing up.  Yi Seul kept her best friend in her heart as Baek Ho harbored the same hidden feeling, but she got tired of waiting and decided to marry another man.  After her wedding, Kang Baek Ho read Yi Seul’s “Ilikeyou” letter and cried like he has never cried before because of the pain of losing his everything sank deeply in his heart immobilizing his system.  Then a man handed him a handkerchief and introduced himself as a Time Conductor, he gave him a chance to time travel to make things right.  He did a lot of time wrinkling and was able to claim his almost losing of his baseball career but everytime he got back to the present time Yi Seul was still bound to be married.  In his desperate attempts to change the past it brought about a final blow in the present causing Yi Seul’s death and to alter what happened he begged the Time Conductor for a last chance to time warp even if it means not being able to see the Time Conductor who turned out to be his father.  He was able to save Yi Seul from the accident but woke up with a selective amnesia remembering all but Yi Seul.  On her wedding day, Kang Baek Ho’s final attempt to declare his love was played which was done prior to the accident, Yi Seul runaway and found the man she has loved all her life in their elementary school room waiting.  She introduced herself again to him.  After a house party Yi Seul and Baek Ho was again locked in Baek Ho’s small room, Yi Seul hummed the song Baek Ho liked to hear and she offered to teach it to him.  When Yi Seul woke up the next day, Baek Ho left a note for her to go to the playground.  He asked her to tell him about the letter she wrote when they were in 9th grade, but she refused so he narrated all that was in the letter.  With his memory back, and taking all the chances to be with the woman he loved, the girl who has waited all her life and the boy who regret what he could have done threw themselves at each other’s arms.

I lost count of how many times he went back and forth to correct something in the past to avoid the eventual wedding of the woman he loved, but I was so fond of Kang Baek Ho that even when I was tugging my hair because he can’t do it right when it came to expressing how he felt… I still gave him a chance… actually he’s the only person I’ve given myriad of chances to prove his love, and it paid off…  it was such a fetching feeling to be with him in his rollercoaster ride to be with someone who has been with him all his life… to finally own what other people may say to be love written on the stars. 

The fantasy element fusing to the reality was layered in such a way that you don’t question the magic pull they put in the drama.  In the latter episodes I was also begging for more chances of going back to the past because like most of the people around him Kang Baek Ho grew fond in my heart. All throughout I was feeling what the lead girl was — “there’s this man I’ve loved all my life, I’ve sent signals for him to realize that I like him, but he’s so clueless about it.”  Being a lady-in-waiting, I was able to relate to what she was feeling… it’s hard to be in a situation when you love someone all your life, and in that long span both of you are groping if there will be a romantic future that you can both share. 

There were a lot of love situations tackled in this drama but it all goes down to two main points:  How far you are going to wait for someone for them to realized your worth and that you are waiting?  And being brave to fall in love and discarding the what-if’s and saying it at the very moment you are feeling it.  I’ve seen a lot of beautiful love stories this year but Operation proposal took me from blushing to crying to understanding that in love someone can run to you that’s why he might have let you wait.

The time-space continuum voyages of Baek Ho was an endearing journey full of twist, oh no’s and romance.  It was a refreshing feel to have a conflict that was not evil motivated that’s why I loved the supernatural spike in this drama.  The lead character was competing with himself – with his past self for that matter and his forebearance endured his painstaking drive to be with the girl he loved.

The pacing and the timing were injected smoothly in the movement of the time wrinkling happening in the drama.  It was neatly done that I didn’t lose interest in it.  If you are looking for a complete romance drama with a magical side dish – Operation Proposal would serve the purpose.  It will be one of my favorites this year and in the brink of making it to my Best 7 while I’m just waiting for I Miss You and May Queen’s conclusion.  – jediprincess ^_^

 

♥ Syndrome (Feb-Apr) ♥

Twelve Men in a Year (Feb-Apr) ♥

haven’t started anything yet…

Love Rain (Mar-May) ♥

In a love intertwining tale that involved the main leads parents’ unfated first love interlude, Seo Joon and Jung Hana have struggled to forget their feelings for each other to give way to their parents’ unfinished romance (Seo In-ha and Kim Yoon-hee).

A famous photographer, Seo Joon bumped with Jung Ha Na when he was in Japan for a photo-shoot, her mobile phone accidentally slipped on his jacket so she was left no choice but to trail him to get the device back. Wanting to get a scenery inspiration for a project he’s working, he got an idea after watching something on Hana’s phone, and from watching the “Diamond Snow” their romance started to unfold. Hana who was shortly disappointed after learning her crush was engaged was rescued back by Joon who was also confused on how he started to like her. Eventually with Seo Joon’s sweet moves Hana and I were swept off our feet by him. But then his father’s undying first love was revealed so he had to let her go even if it pains him, because her mother was his father’s first love. Hana who was heavily smitten didn’t want to surrender on their love and when she eventually learned of the reason why he turned his back on her, she made a choice to have her mother be happy again even it broke her heart.

Flashback to In-ha and Yoon-hee’s love affair. The two met when they were in college, In-ha was literally in love at first sight when he saw Yoon-hee for the first time. In 3 seconds his world changed but his bestfriend also fell from the same girl. Their friendship circle included another girl who will be Seo Joon’s future mom and quasi-villain. It was a pathetic kind of love for her all along not being able to get the love of the man she has loved all her life.

It’s comforting to have light villains for this drama, well after a parade of annoying opposing people, this drama was a breather. She’s still annoying but you will understand why. Love can make people not see reasons and will claim their personal love afflictions as justification to spite those who hindered in their love quest. Having said that, it’s very true on Joon’s mother and she going Miranda on her ex-husband and Hana’s meek and overly patient mother with the old couple just letting her do it her style was at some point tiring, and yet I don’t have a choice but accept it because it goes with the plot.

It was a “first love” drama festival that made me wept plenty of tears. I always cry when the lead man is left no choice but to hurt the lead girl for some reason I don’t understand. The director really made the scenes in such a way that it will hit your emotions.

This is leaning in the feminine side, if Fashion King is masculine and full of angst; Love Rain is your typical sweet submissive girl.

I liked that this drama has only one conflict – how to defy your parents’ love to get your one true love… I know what barrier they will have to break and I was excited on how they would be able to overcome it.

So the eventual Joon’s mom ‘s disapproval was already expected, that supporting problem was already expected but when they clung on the sickness conflict in the end to sustain the “you-can’t-be-together” hindrance in the storyline, it made the drama even simpler, and I didn’t like it. There’s just more to problems than sickness. I bet Romeo and Juliet didn’t like it either.

I got my closure when Hana claimed Seo Joon again… that “I want to be with you” scene was done so bravely sweet, I would want it to happen to me someday. There were a lot of romantic scenes in this drama, heartfelt if I may say… and hitting straight to my heart.

I loved that Hana is vulnerable and loved it more when she’s defiant. I loved that Joon is sensitive and loved it more whenever he assumed that lead man character you can’t help but drool with.

Love Rain… less the oldies’ side love story turned eventual conflict you made me smile and somehow you let romance rain… You are relaxing and very eye-pleasing to watch… you may not be the best romance drama yet so far this year, there’s a lot of opportunities to insert romantic interludes and took out unnecessary story arc… but hey, I did took time watching you… and for that I blame it to your sweet and simple love take.

Coming from the director who gave the “season dramas” (Autumn in my Heart and the rest of the bunch), you are worth the hype even if some of the adorable scenes I already saw from other dramas. What stood out in this drama was the beautiful cinematography as what the director’s trademark is and of course this is Jang Geun Seok’s way of bouncing back to my boyfriends’ list after the disappointing ride with Mary. You are soothing and serene… a nice watch when you want some time to be alone. ^_^

♥ The Equator Man (Mar-May) ♥

The outwitting game and the friendship that fell but found back its footing were some of the reasons why I gave a shot on this drama.  In a vengeance thriving and friendship betraying world, I was left moved and appalled.


 
We started with small town friends Jang-il and Sun-woo who became brainy and brawny besties after the latter helped the former in his father’s loan sharks trouble.  In a twist of fate, Jang-il father’s was forced to be an accomplice to Sun-woo’s father’s demise after Jin No-shik, an old friend of Sun-woo’s dad, beat and strangled him till he passed out.  Jang-il’s father was promised by Jin No Shik of helping him to send his son to study in the city so out of his dream to provide a better future for his son he agreed to the dirty deed, but Sun-woo’s father rose back to unconsciousness and instead of helping and being blinded on the help offered to him, Jang-il’s father hung Sun-woo’s father to death.  Sun-woo was convinced his father did not commit suicide and after scraping evidence to appeal to the case, Jang-il learned of his father’s involvement to the crime.  He begged his friend not to pursue the appeal but determined to get justice for his father, Sun-woo dismissed his friend’s request.  To protect his father and in his selfishness to claim a better life forcedly laid to them, Jang-il hit his friend at the back of his head and pushed him to the cliff.  Sun-woo regained consciousness after being in coma for a while but lost his eyesight.  With the help of his late father’s friend, Sun-woo’s life changed, and as he regained his eyesight he was also posed to seek justice on his father’s death and to face the people who betrayed him.

 
Uhm Tae Woong has certainly acted his part well and showed various facets of his character from being devil-may-care-youngster, loving son, reliable friend, vulnerable blind, strong-willed man, smooth romantic and power player.  Seeing how he used his wit and persisitence as he held his grudges and goodness at the same time was no easy task given what Sun-woo had been through in the drama.  Here I got to that reality of always understanding the motivation of people to betray you.  What possible reason would someone have to turn his back on you and how will you forgive that act and understand his reason for doing that.  


Jang-il”s character was hard to digest, it was cold, and distant and dangerously ambitious.  I liked that prosecutor oppa (whom I’m lazy to google the Korean name) was able to fill in the shoes of that persona.  His ambitions drowned him but I liked that at the end he felt human acknowledging that he did what he had because he is his father’s son.  

This was a classic father-and-son love relationship spectacle.  A lot of faces of family attachment were shown… good and vile.
As for the ladies in the story, they supported well but their acting were mediocre… the main female lead was even on a stagnant acting note all the while, but then again the drama focused on the friendship so it doesn’t really matter.  The men really took the load to secure a strong story and a gripping ending.

Equator Man commenced on a dark vibe.  I sat on it because I want to know how everything will turn out fine.  I won’t say that it’s a great drama because I’ve seen a lot underdog bouncing back from the unfairness of life stories, instead I will say that it’s a decent watch, but something that you can see when you don’t have something to watch on priority list.

If it involves your family or a romantic attachment with someone no matter who is right or wrong, you will always be left to choose to turn your back on a friend…(felt familiar to me) That’s human nature and that’s what the Equator Man focused on in a drama fest where ironically the main leads are men. That’s what this got me hooked, it was thriving on emotions but not a weep fest. It was solid and steady and has never derailed throughout the series. This gave a different meaning to the word “Bromance”. Serious and stellar, this is a delight for its amazingly woven human struggle plot and friendship affirming vibe.

♥ The King 2 Hearts (Mar – May) ♥

Or so I think.  I’m having a princess moment yet again here.

King 2 Hearts was staged in a quasi-utopian Korean world where the North and South Koreans are sort of in peaceful communicating terms.  The current monarch Lee Jae King is pushing for dream unification but has to face barriers from opposing regions as well as big corporation.  His first step to attain his goal is a joint participation of officers from the two regions to the upcoming World Officer Championship (WOC), a tactical-military-team-game participated by countries acclaimed for their military service.  To spice up things, the King decided to include his prince brother Lee Jae Ha to the joint training for the upcoming event to his refusal given his easy-go-lucky and bum nature.  But because his luxurious life was the bargaining point, he was left no choice but to succumb to his hyung’s order.

His future lead girl is a North Korean general’s daughter, Kim Hang Ah, is a trained assassins specializing in bombs.  Her martial prowess is over the top that even men in her field evaded her.   Hang Ah’s line of work has been a liability in her search of ever-after as the men set up with her can’t bear her strong nature.  In desperation she agreed to participate as Northies’ delegate for WOC when her commanding officer stated an offer she can’t resist – that is to give her a man of her choice.

Soon the forced prince and the love seeker lady soldier meet up and start on a wrong foot when the training commenced as their culture differences become evident.  The slacking prince is causing delays to the enhancement program so the Northies use their commanding presence to make him focus to what they are intending to do, but his devilish side picks up fast and is able to reverse the situation by targeting Hang Ah’s yearning for a man she can love.  He plays with what she trusted to him and wounded her vulnerability.  They settle their dispute by treadmill running, and when they are in the brink of giving up, they are commanded not to halt because of a bomb planted inside the treadmill.  Drained with sweat and exhaustion the bomb squad successfully disarmed the weapon and the cat-and-mouse couple in time engaged in do-i-like-you-or-not- game.  The eventual love came to pass but they have to deal with the sporadic wrath of a psychopath-billionaire-evil-than-Voldy Bong-gu as well as the literal line that separates them.

King2hearts has always been polished, calculated but never failing to entice and push me to my assumed outcomes. That being said, what I applaud about this drama is how it seems predictable but will prove the viewers otherwise. But I would have wanted a different closure for Bong-gu… I could think of a lot of possible evil ways to end him because I was closed to calling the Criminal Minds team to help the North and South pin him down because of so much annoyance. Seriously I think they are now tired of having the male leads fought over the lead girl, so they are killing the second lead now… give way to the new face of the second-lead syndrome… It was a perfect Korean drama for the second quarter, all criteria were met… began well and ended with conviction. King 2 Hearts you are officially nominated on my Best Korean Drama this year.

I would also like to add Rich’s take on King 2 Hearts.  He is my newest dongsaeng.  I also just watched the end of King 2 Hearts, all im going to say is the last episodes really messed up what i thought was going to happen but still a fitting end, being able to watch as Hang Ah & Jae Ha’s relationship build throughout all the obvious pressure against it was great, also seeing Jae Ha develop and mature throughout the series was great to watch, from a sniveling childlike man to an all-powerful king, oh and if you want a perfect insane villain, look no further than the actor Yoon Je Moon, he is also in a tree with deep roots, plays the evil guy amazingly well, Amazing drama, time well worth spending to watch =)

Probably going to end up being my favorite drama of 2012.  (I won’t bet on that Rich, I said that to Moon that Embraces the Sun, and there they go gave me King 2 Hearts.  *wink)

♥ Fashion King (Mar – May) ♥

Opening the goodbye spree for the second quarter KDrama finale week is Fashion King.  I’ll try to separate my personal forever feelings for Yoo Ah In as much as I can so kdramagod, help me be.

Fashion King kicked off in a darth vader-ish tone… It was dark, cunning, treacherous and hindered.  It takes the realistic tone, no fancy playing and leaning to character driven conflict.

Dongdaemun’s market’s Fashion King is Kang Young-gul.  Witty, cheerful, smoking hot and talented he runs an RTW factory and is constantly in trouble with gangsters and loanshark.  He bumped with Lee Ga Young after the latter was cast off by a lady boss designer who raised her up when her parents faced their untimely demise.  She started working as a designer at Young-gul’s factory and when he learned of her scholarship for a Fashion school in New York, he scraped some bucks to send her to work on her talent.  But when she reached New York, she was informed that she was cut in the program because they received a response letter from her declining the program.  Meanwhile, Young-gul faced money problems and was forced to isolate himself but then ended into trouble and was donned an escaped criminal.  By virtue of kdrama magic, he was swayed to New York and was reunited with Ga-young who was helped by chaebol Fashion Empire CEO Jung Jae-hyuk to get back to the program.  To earn a living he sold jackets in the streets and it was there that a famous designer noticed his skill.  The designer liked Young-gul’s sample items and decided to buy his talent.  Just as lady luck was finally smiling with Young-gul and Ga-young, the unnecessary envious daughter of the designer who cast away Ga-young spilled the beans with the police and held and held Young-gul back to be jailed in Korea.  A period of suffering ensued as our lead couple yet again struggled in their lives while they were separated.   I’m wondering why they didn’t title this Suffering King.  Young-gul got out of prison and searched for Ga-young again.  He rescued her to the evil designer and they headed to start their dream back.

The usual fight-for-the-lead-girl was presented in the story in an annoying kind of painful way.   It was the girl who secretly loved the man who doesn’t want to love anymore because he has long lost faith on it and with the pathetic and shrewd Jae-hyuk between them, I have long set my mind that they could not possibly get to a point of loving each other happily and comfortably.

True to my words it was a sad ending, sadder than the Autumn in My Heart ending.  I was hoping that with all that painstaking and half-cooked victories, in the end it will be inevitable for the deprived lead couple to be blissful and at peace, but then again if that will be the case it will break the dark tone of the story.  You already have Vader so why did I u get Voldy for reinforcement? I want to blame it on the korean drama ending syndrome but my mind thinks otherwise. I know the closure has to be sad because the story tone is dark and cunning… and a happy ending won’t fit in.

 

But why a disheartening death?!  You could have just let him live alone planting crops in the suburb or be blind. You could have traveled back to Joseon era and get King Suyang to spite those loansharks… or had Young-gul on a shower scene for the entire finale episode for a mind blowing closure, yet you remained firm and snob.

The angst that the series has been carrying around the whole time I thought would be transformed to something light that sprout out of the bravery and forebearance of the lead characters, but it did not.  It disappointed me, yes.  But it is what was expected to happen.

It has been a long ride.  What I will miss about Fashion King is its straightforwardness and strong vibe.  It’s your typical underdog story and it gave us the reality that underdogs sometimes no matter how hard they tried, they will remain suppressed and bound by their limitations.

Fashion King had a lot of weak points and loopholes.   There were a couple of dozing episodes and it was predictable, but kept escaping from it because they thought of a different way out plan than what would have been normally done.   If not for the immersion of the actors to their characters the drama would have been a failure for me.  I stayed with it because of Yoo Ah In mainly, but more than that would be its maturity and the transparent feel.   It thrived on my emotions.  It stood there tapping on my emotions annoying me, making me feel giddy, making me sigh and making me anticipate.

 

Compared with the rest of the second quarter kdrama bunch, what set apart this fashion world themed production was its fixed conflict of power manipulation and struggle that was concluded in a heart-wrenching fashion.  It’s a drama I won’t recommend to watch right away, but I will recommend to someone if he wants some time alone. 

My verdict?   Watch.  Go with the flow.  Drool at Lee Je-hoo and forget he’s evil ways.  Munch Kang Young-gul as much as you can.  Be prepared for the ending.

♥ Rooftop Prince (Mar – May) ♥

Dear Rooftop Prince,

Can you time-travel again and go straight to my room?

So here’s my official Rooftop Prince ramblings… *sniff *sniff

Joseon Era –  All was doing well with Prince Yi-gak.   The empire is smooth sailing and he enjoys afternoon walks with his princess and riddle games with his sister-in-law.  Until a morning of surprise when the Crown Princess laid dead on the lake.  Determined to catch the culprit on the Princess’ death, he gathered 3 of the most useful Joseon men he could find and off they go to uncover the mystery. 

In their pursuit to unveil the cause of the Princess’ death, they were transported 300 years after to modern Korea and landed to Park Ha’s rooftop house.  From there the real adventure began.  They have to face the difference brought about by the time and villains with equally pathetic motivations who failed miserably to their evilness act.  I guess they didn’t complete Voldemort’s workshop. 

The finale episodes were heartbreaking for me, but I at least got the closure I deserved.  I’m particularly stern with this drama but the refreshing soul won me over.  So even if I have to absorb a lot partuclarly in the last episode, I have no regrets.  Bu-yong eating all those persimmons because of her secret love to the Prince, who has the right to argue?!  

   

This was the first drama I saw with reincarnation plot in full swing (memory searching… really no other drama with reincarnation plot yet).  The adorable 3 Musketeers were a bundle of bliss, a sight to behold, a manna from Heaven.  The laughter I got from their modern transformation supplied enough happiness pills to cover the recent job nausea I’m getting at work. 

The cute lead couple exhibited on screen chemistry.  Lead couple for rom-coms has a tendency to be so tiring to watch if they get either super-insensitivity attack or overly-loving complex.  Yi Gak and Park Ha were smooth as a couple.  The romance was not rushed, and with that love-transcending-time premise, excuse me Romeo and Juliet here’s the couple to beat.

It was not your perfect drama technical and script wise… in fact there were a few labyrinth-bound story plots and out of place conflicts, but then again the sweet moments and the laughter were all so worth it, so you would hardly notice the lapses…  It’s that love tale that I don’t want to end and I can’t get enough of, and the reincarnation storyline somewhat helped me to move on…

Well actually Tom oppa was praying that Prince Yi Gak gets reincarnated, I yearn the same but I’m wishing he will end up straight to my room, if that will not happen, let he be reincarnated as a cat and lose his way until he is left no choice but to agree to be with me.  *giggles 

Tom Oppa and I will miss the squabbling blockhead couple and their loyal power ranger ducklings… Heck we will even miss the one-sided villain who can’t even kill a mobile phone or his same confused facial expression all throughout the series.  I wonder what’s wrong with him not being able to successfully execute his vile prowess.  Is it him or the writer of the story?

I begged that the drama will not end.  Honestly, I felt that they could still have made it longer.  It made me feel so insatiable watching it.  Rooftop Prince is breezy, blithe and beautiful…  It’s my rom-com of choice so far this year.  ^_^

♥ Queen In-Hyun’s Man (Apr-June) ♥

It’s over and done but Queen In Hyun’s Man Abby’s Man has left me insatiable.

This year you are my best drama yet so far…  ^_^  Your drive to bring your viewers to your spontaneous romance binge whilst holding the reign to an incessantly bewitching plot was quenchless and I thank kdramagod for that.

Joining the KDramaLand time pilgrimage cortege this year is Queen In Hyun’s Man Abby’s Man.  Making me forget the recently concluded dramas who were all beautiful and gorgeous was a feat so worthy of this fusion presentation that has oppugned the nitpicker side of me.   I love the unconventional as my excessively diverted self can normally hold on because it’s just important and not because it’s what I really wanted, but disarming me each and every episode with your deviant drama pulls and going maverick to what I was predicting had me grab my tarot card to check if my seer abilities need a refresher.

Let’s meet Kim Boong Do aka Abby’s Man, a quick-witted scholar trusted by King Suk-jong who was working on the reinstatement of the deposed Queen In-hyun in Joseon era.  His apparent goal has had him earned the ire of the opposing faction engaging him to life threatening dangers thrown by the evil perpetrators.  His big heart has obtained him loyal people and one of those faithfuls, Yoonwol, gave him a talisman for his protection.  In one of his life attempts, the talisman took him 300 years after to modern times and meet the perky TV actress, Choi Hee-jin playing the TV role of Queen In-hyun at present time. 

The time-trek causing talisman has a catch though it will permit its power only when the owner is in grave danger, and its loyalty can be swayed by either Boong-do to where the amulet was prayed for and given, Yoon-wol – whose yearning to protect and make her master achieve happiness had the talisman’s power binding, or to the head-monk who created the paper periapt and initiated its mojo.   Boong-do’s nimble self easily perceived the sort of magic he has acquired and used is at his advantage to resolve the Joseon circa conflicts alongside exploring the advancement of a different time and falling in love for the first time with He–jin.   With his keen mind, he was able to maximize the time and resolved the discordance in his era, but the same power he has with time will endanger his own personal bliss.

I was somewhere either reading or wide eyed sleeping when they showered sticking attention ability, and with so much watching done over the years, I rarely get to watch something that has bragged straight to my face on how exceptional it was… and that ladies and gentlemen was notched satisfyingly by Queen In Hyun’s Man Abby’s Man.

I just so love how it deviated from the typical KDrama conflict norms of unresolved unfinished love issues, family problems, useless vengeance driven characters, personal exhausting battles and all those other tiring fillings they would insert to make the spectators just go with the flow.  Apparently though, I ain’t gonna go with something unless it is worth clinging to.

I have this habit of focusing on camera movements when I’m watching something, in short I’m particular to editing, so given the time-voyaging premise of the story, I was amazed on how the production team worked on the smooth transitions.  It was playing at past and present ends without losing the spontaneity and fluidity of the story.  The writer whom I will be stalking from now on was a delightfully mischievous conceiver who got down to the nitty-gritty of the screenplay and pulling off the conflicts and its deliverance in a make-sense and you-got-me-there kind of vibe.  Quintessential writing, editing and directing.  period.

The love couple stood by each other side well.  They were so steadily moving and claiming their love with the right elements, right reasons and right intentions.  The era difference trouble having neatly done was conveyed sweetly sending me most of the time to the World’s Giddy-est Girl” moment.  Hee-jin corresponded to Boong-do’s character in a mischievous-kiss-note but even better.  I like that she’s all set to go for her happiness and the man she loves regardless of the mystical and time restraints surrounding them.  She knew it was a crazy love on the onset but because she understood that it happened for a reason, she went Jack Sparrow and bravely plunge.  Her candidness was complementing well with Boong-do’s serious and smart views in life providing us romantic moments that made me remember all those precious love memories I had in my life.  As for Kim Boong-do, he had me at being smart and for being a clueless player.  He made me forget about chaebols and funny guys.  He’s that man I’m hoping real life will be able to give me, well not necessarily the time travelling part though.  *wink  His cleverness and his character took the drama at an addictive level that even when I’m stuffed, I’m still subconsciously craving.  Considering that I was not that familiar with the main leads I have found myself deeply immersed in their time and talisman defying romance.

Queen In Hyun’s Man has managed to outwit me and convincingly swayed me with what story drive I imagined to be achieved… He was playfully smiling at me in a “and you thought you had me figured out abby” kind of way.  With the time travelling and fantasy parade in the KDramaLand, he has managed to surprise all the players with his neat time transitions enabling a consistent and enticingly appealing plot.  Rarely would you remember equally the story and the characters, but with Queen In Hyun’s Man, the characters synchronized well with the story and strangely the characters would be able to stand alone as the story retain its brilliance and vice versa.

It was a supernatural and reality love drama at its best and is a romance story that is so worth my time and even curing my recently running emotional-limbo-bound-self.   It definitely deserved a slot in my hall-of-famers.  Yes it did!

P.S  I love you Kim Boong-do.  I’m now off to get a talisman to claim you.  ^_^

♥ The Marriage Plot (Apr – June ) ♥

♥ BIG (June – Aug) ♥

I will have to include a “worst ending category” on my year-end summary, and I really hope that I won’t see another closure like this, well come to think of it, it was not even an ending.

But really BIG?  What happened to the ending?  It was so flat and it didn’t really end.  You got all the watchers who dragged themselves to finish the drama really disappointed.  I stayed even when I was dozing the first 6 episodes, I said Gong Yoo oppa can make it up for it, and hope that halfway I’ll see a light… you obliged and I was close to buying the soul switching-secret siblings who were vitro fertilization twins born years apart and who fell in love with the same girl who was all confused and weak throughout the drama.

It took me 7 episodes to settle in the groove and I was perturbingly holding my emotions on the get going of the series because it was not hitting on my love niche.  It was so different… it felt so different if you are a Hong sisters fan.  They are my favorite kdrama writers, they gave me My Girl, Gumiho, Greatest Love, Dokko Jin and You’re Beautiful , so it really got me staring at the ceiling face palmed after I ended watching it.

Kang Kyung Joon and So Yoon Jae got into an accident and putting up the former in a coma as the latter survived.  But the sort of magical accident switched their souls thus making the 18-year old rowdy teenager inside a 30-year old doctor’s body.  Before the accident, So Yoon Jae was supposed to meet his fiancée Gil Da Ran who was all mopey and unsure if her fiancé really loves her.  She was also Kang Kyung Joon’s teacher.  When Kyung Joon woke up in Yoon Jae’s body he was forced to deal with a life that has a connection to him and experience loving for the first time a woman who was waiting for her beloved to come back.   It was then revealed that the body he was thriving was in fact his long lost fraternal twin brother but they were born years apart.  Yoon Jae needed an operation when he was young to survive and the only solution was to produce another sibling.  Through vitro fertilization Kyung Joon was carried by Kang Hee Soo, who was also their father’s first love.  The brother’s weren’t aware of each other’s existence until they fatedly meet again and this time Yoon Jae did the saving.

With the supernatural, time travelling and impossible stories I have seen this year, I was not surprised with how they wove the miracle conceived brothers.  I was not perplexed but I won’t applaud it.  I was groping what the main conflict they were trying to arrive… was it Gil Da Ran’s emotion and who-i-really-love-analyzation?  Was it Kyung Joon’s why did my long lost family forsake me questions?  They presented a love story and didn’t give a decent ever after?

I was waiting for Yoon Jae to come back and answer the million dollar question.  I was rooting for him, yes even in comma, because I thought that it was really their love story and his little brother was just someone who will make them realize each other’s worth, but it diverted 360 degrees forcing a May-December love affair that looked good but didn’t feel right.

BIG was half-baked story wise, and you can barely feel its romance because it was not meant to be.  Signature Hong sisters’ humor went in every now and then, but nothing much special like how they used to insert it.  To be honest I didn’t like how indecisive and somewhat faltering GIl Da Ran was and that’s maybe the reason why even if KKJ paraded the most adorable teenager trapped in a full grown man’s body I was not left fascinated nor interested on how their love has progressed.

Yoon Jae was a character they should have built up more, he could have been an equalizer… well actually, he was the runaway hit I was expecting.  It will be interesting to see how love will be realized if they let him give a fight, but making Gil Da Ran struggled to let go and sacrifice love in a circumstance where the love triangle was not achieved, it definitely didn’t hit the love drive.

I didn’t like the love story period.  I didn’t like how the characters went to play their part but failed to salvage the drama potentials.  BIG was “not big enough” to have held on my diverted self.  It made me crawl on my way to finish it.  It made me wonder if some evil spirits took over the Hong sisters’ body.  It made me sad that Gong Yoo oppa was all pretty and hot and funny there, but I won’t remember everything about it.

I hauled myself to get through it.  I went to 5 stages of grief to let go of it.  I ended up feeling lost, empty and not in love after seeing it, that being said you have to love Gong Yoo and the Hong sisters soooo much to finish it. 

P.S  I love Jang Ma Ri and the music… but that’s just it.

Mr. D’s Comments

Hmmm, well then, lets just say, Imagine this….. You get the best writers, take on some amazing acting talent, veteran and new and you throw it all together and create a drama, oh did i mention you decided to not bother finishing the story!!!!

Had amazing potential, great chemistry between So Yoon Jae (kkj) & Gil Da Ran and Ma Ri’s sheer determination to get what she wanted was great.
 If there isn’t a special (additional) episode i will feel hard done by after waiting every week for the english subbed version.

The sisters have what i am rather upset to say, their first failure in my opinion, lets just hope its a momentary dip in their, up to now, unblemished record.

Mr Ð

♥ Bridal Mask (May – Aug) ♥

I don’t know why I can’t finish it…

♥ I do, I do (May – July ) ♥

So what do you do when you are happy living alone with a powerful job and you suddenly got knocked up by a man you never thought of having? 

I do I do was very endearing to watch and for people like me whose emotional involvement can be swayed by our love of our independence, it was a sweet somewhat reality bites nudge. 

A successful shoe designer in a devil-wears-prada-persona lives a very comfortable life but thriving up to the inversely proportional love and work success idea.  She had a one night stand with a man younger than her who in the future ended up working in the shoe company where she also was designing.

As the baby grew up in her tummy and so was the realization that the one night that accidentally started it all happened for a reason.

The 7th episode where he drunkenly declared her claiming his virginity in the police station sent me to a laughter spree and the park brainstorming scene was my favorite.

 

I suffered the second-lead-syndrome all throughout.  How can I not love Dr. Jo In Sung.   That stethoscope-will-you-marry-me scene made me sweetly sigh more than Tae Kang’s song production wedding proposal. 

It was a smooth flowing 16 episodes with the right insertions of peevish soon to be mom who struggled a lot with her emotions and equally disarming male leads whose love runneth over and yet the woman they are wanting to have it don’t know how to reciprocate.  It occasionally have made me asked what I’m going to do if I’m on those situations.   (I bet I will sleep *giggles)  Will I be firm like her?  Will I falter to be rescued?  Will I let fate decide what’s next to happen.

I will just overlook the get married or leave the company taunt by the witch as well as the villainous small deeds to make the lead girl flounder as I deemed Ji An’s personal issues to be the stressor and driving force of the drama, and how she overcame it was the fulfillment.

Ji An presented women with power jobs and how they trudge to decide commiting themselves in a relationship as well as taking the responsibility to become a mother.  Ji An wo confuses romantic relationship to her passion for the craft she worked so hard was able to sustain the pressure in her gracious vulnerability and fierce convictions.  The spotlight was on her and she delivered.

I did love the boys here.  They were both worth having in their own ways but at some point both of them displayed vehement adoration that would go either way.  A person loved by someone would always feel grateful about it even if he can’t return it, but you have to know when to stop and when it’s enough.  The main male lead I understand was still lacking maturity in so many ways that he didn’t win me over right away.  I expected him to show an overnight “ownership”, it did but not so very firm.  An age difference in a relationship doesn’t matter if you know how to claim that person…  If you settle to insecurities that you are still lacking and you have nothing to offer to that someone then you will lose. 

 

It was a character driven film and I liked that it concluded with Ji An’s arising to accept fully the decision she was apprehensive before… that is to be a mother and to be in someone’s arms.

I say this is a passing drama, nice to watch when you are doing it, but is forgettable.   It was a story of a love that you can almost have, but you can’t have because life intervenes and throws in circumstances were you have to decide if it really matters.  But if you did bravely choose, you’ll learn that an ALMOST LOVE is one of the sweetest love… you can have and you will have.

♥ Time Slip Dr. Jin (May – Aug ) ♥

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:  Time Slip Dr. Jin fused with the reign of King Gojong, the last monarch of Joseon dynasty in the latter part of Joseon era.  It touched the waning 60-year wielding of power of the Andong Kim clan that was obliterated by Prince Lee Ha-Eung who served as a Regent of Joseon after his young son emerged as the new King.  It also plunged on the persecution of the Catholic Faith that was initiated by the French Missionaries which also led to the French Invasion of Ganghwa Island – Korea’s first war with Western power.

And yes, I have that Historical Background something now.  *wink  I’m beginning to think I could pass for a Korean History teacher, after dissecting all the tales of antiquities relating to the period dramas I’ve seen lately.  I’m not complaining, a little research helps in assimilating the plot.  I struggled in finishing this drama, as Dr. Jin really took time to have all the pieces fall together.   Most of the episodes were open-ended, switching from the blending of the medical plot, the political dissensions and the paranormal insertions, which in my unbiased opinion was a no-nonsense attempt to present a different blend of sageuk drama.

Jin Hyuk is a brilliant neuro-surgeon who is all business with his profession of saving lives.  After successfully removing an embryonic tissue inside a patient’s head, a supernatural surge will change his future.  He was planning to propose to his girlfriend Yoo Mi Na one day, but they engaged to a heated argument because Dr. Jin refused to operate on a patient who was already dead.   She walked away and got into a car accident putting her in a comatose state.

Meanwhile, a patient gathered medical supplies from the hospital storage.  He took the fetus which was stored inside a jar and was about to escape but Dr. Jin saw him and recognizing the voice which kept calling his subconscious mind, he tried to confront who he was.  The patient disregarded him and was about to jump from the rooftop but Dr. Jin tried to stop him, grabbed the medical bag but the patient was able to throw the embryo.  And it doesn’t make sense why he jumped to get hold of the embryo jar, but he did, then the embryo jar suddenly dispersed unearthly light and transported him back to the Joseon times where the police was currently chasing a group of native bandits.  Running for his life, he almost fell on a cliff but a man was able to save him, Prince Lee Ha-eung.    

Thought to be a part of the rebel bandits, a bounty for Dr. Jin’s head was issued by the police the next day so he has no other choice but to stick with the wily Prince.  While he’s trying to comprehend the tesseract joke played on him, he saw a woman, Hong Young-Rae, who looked exactly like Mi Na. 

Prince Lee Ha-eung pawned Dr. Jin to settle his debts with a notorious gang lord.  While the gang lord was eating though, there was a blockage in his air passage and instead of following the prince’ advice for him to escape, his doctor instinct kicked in to save the gang lord’s life.

On another pursuit of the police for the local bandits, the doctor who has a knack of being at the wrong place and at the wrong time bumped with a wounded man who turned out to be Young rae’s brother,  Yong Hwi, who was the secret leader of the local bandits. 

He performed a surgery on him but upon learning that Dr. Jin was on a “wanted list”, Young-rae sent their servant to notify the police of the “wanted person’s whereabouts”.  Not realizing the repercussion of what she has done her being grateful after saving her brother’s life can do no good as the police took the doctor for interrogation.  He was on the verge of the punishment, but was saved when the Left Minister lost his consciousness.  He performed another surgery to revive the minister and was waived of the crime accused of him.

From then on, his medical knowledge has been of great use to a country that hasn’t reached the advancement of modern medicine.  He improvised treatment that doesn’t have a cure yet at that time.   As he get on with helping out on illness that was thought to be incurable and as he carried out complex surgeries that has saved people on the brink of death,  the political faction strife was taking its toll to the country. 

Through Dr. Jin’s medical miracles, Prince Lee Ha-eung was able to go a step closer to the mother of the King, and from there, Lee Ha-eung’s son secured an adoption from the reigning King and eventually became the young King of the nation, but being minor, his father became the Regent of the Nation and administered new policies and trapped the head of the leading faction Andong Kim clan in his hope of building a better Joseon.  It was a no easy task defeating the seat of power but with proper drawing of the necessary cards, Lee Ha-Eung was able to strip the dominion that has been suffocating the nation for a long time.

The metaphysical aspect of the storyline was at first nebulous but it was a feat they were able to overcome at the end even if they explained it on the tail episode and in just 30 minutes.  (Well at least, they did, BIG did not) The multiple identities of the characters time travelling to an alter universe but coinciding with a time from the past made me so bewildered if not for my Fringe TV experience knowledge where everything is possibly impossible. 

Dr. Jin thought that his wrinkling of the time would be of help in saving his dying girlfriend from the world he left, but the time-travelling gisaeng, Choong Hoon warned him that his meddling with people that were supposed not to be saved will dig a depth to the mystery he was undertaking and could have worsen his chance of going back to the present time, but in the end, they pulled a parallel universe yarn which explained that his time travelling identities loved him so much, they find ways of putting his life to perspective by getting him trapped at a different time where your other person was at the same time living and still somehow connected with you – a trick they used with Mi Na and Young-rae.  Thus it equated to having the girls going to near death experience, and if one can be saved, the other will survive too ergo, before he warped back, his attempt to save the wounded Young-rae made it possible for Mi Na to live in the present time.  In the end, his alter universe escapade has saved the woman of his life.  Choong Hoon revealed to him that he was taken by time so his life can be saved… it was an unfathomable question for me… save from what? And in the end I came to a conclusion that losing someone you love is also a form of death – a kind of death that will not be healed no matter how time passes by. 

The ending epiphany talk with Lee Ha-eung at least tied the loose end of the merging of two different eras, but I hated how they sent back Dr. Jin to the real world!  Well, duh? Stabbing a man in the middle of the war and letting him fall of a cliff was a lame time warp move.   I deduced the connection of the runaway patient, the embryo and the headache attack when Dr. jin operated on his yet another soul living in the Joseon time, so when they swerved to the culminating Dr. jin realization that he was in fact that runaway patient, and that the fetus tumor was actually taken from him, I said “okay, make use of your multiple identities, time and space continuum plot every way you can and wherever you want!“  *pout

They really struggled in keeping hold of their paranormal twist, it was not that polished that it could either make or break the viewers understanding, if you are Fringe-bound like me, then you’ll be able to grasp it, if not, most likely you will be lost.

The main characters Dr. Jin and Lee Ha-eung were the focal point of the narrative.  While I have learned to like Song Seung-heon oppa, I still am going to wait for the best drama he will be making.  Lee Beom Soo was amazing in Salaryman, he was still the same here, so I look forward to seeing him again in the future.  Kim Jae-joong oppa made me tugged at my hair, he lost me with his super lost self and inability to have his loyalty in place… his character has the worst filial piety ever, but I still love him.  Park Min-young was still at her best, come to think of it, she really does suit well in classical themed dramas.

In the tradition of period dramas, the death of the main characters, the daring moves of the villains and the counter-attack of the underdogs, the double-crossing and last minute betrayals kept hold of the sageuk feel.  The bromance and the supernatural-defying romance were also present and spun the major conflicts of the story.  It was flowing and got there without minding the bridge.  Albeit the craziness and lapses, it was still a good watch for me, but incomparable to sageuk classics.

♥ The Chaser (May – July) ♥

no DVD yet… *pout!

♥ GHOST (May – Aug) ♥

There were no guns triggered… no swords drawn… it was a battle between heroes and villains equipped with digital powers. It was an enthralling power game that involved, system hacking, all-knowing CCTV cameras, secret bugging, and heroes and villains almost equally genius to take one step ahead of each other.

 

Ghost/Phantom broke my love drama binge 360 degrees and I was left dumbstruck and on a cliff hanging state all throughout the series. I was like in a trampoline were I was bouncing up and down without the rush hitting the bottom level.

 

I knew how powerful technological breakthroughs are, and seeing it in detail made me yearn to have the best hacker in the world as a boyfriend. *giggles

 

Park Gi Yong and Kim Woo Hyun were bestfriends when they entered the police academy. But when Park Gi Young in his curious playful self used a virus to steal in random emails in the academy, he accidentally retrieved an email about a chaebol group involvement to public funds slush. He confronted Woo-hyun’s father who was then a high-ranked police officer, but was left to be silent about his discovery. His faith in the academy wavered and left his friend and his once dream to become a police.

 

Years later Kim Woo Hyun emerged as the leader of the cyberspace police investigation team. When a rising actress was found dead, the team connected her apparent death to the hacker they were tailing – Hades. Woo-hyun successfully tracked Hades and was surprised to see his old friend. Gi Young explained that he didn’t kill the actress and was able to escape his friend in that encounter.

 

He tried to look for links to find proof to what happened to the actress only to find out a video where he saw his friend and an old man dying after drinking a poisoned wine. He confronted Woo Hyun about what he saw and in exchange of principles and truth, they were halted by a big explosion causing Woo Hyun’s death. Gi Young survived and with the help of Woo Hyun’s girlfriday, Yoo Kang Mi, he assumed his identity in a quest to reveal and avenge the demise of his best friend.

 

Ghost/Phantom will hold your interest in a very gripping fashion. The cunning powerplays and counter measures were ever present to the story as it progressed. The brilliantly done ending emancipated the withheld secrets that were carefully and nifty hidden so as to achieve a closure befitting of this cyberworld investigating drama classic.

 Be prepared to be stimulated and trust me there will be no give-aways here… so you cannot defocus less you will be lost to the story.

 

The right amount of wit and the exemplary plot pulled a lot of “omg-they-really-can-hack-that-moments” in me… I knew technological advancements are dangerous if used for evil reasons, but the extent of how it can be destructive in our digital world was scary worth of 10 Voldemorts.

 

The showdown between the shrewd villain operating in a Lord Sith kind of persona and the computer geek Gi Young was like a chess game… and they have utilized their pawns to their advantage very well — that being said I love the villain here because to the very end he was cunningly and smartly vile, but of course the main character along with the cyberworld investigating team rocked big time in a thrilling sprint overcoming the dead ends.

 

The race on who gets to maneuver efficiently the power of the computers will earn the opposing team an instant digital karma so all the while, the villains and heroes have worked double time to raise the bar in outwitting one another.

 

If you want a breather from rom-coms, this cyber crime drama should be on your list. The dexterous cast and perceptive plot will take you all the way to an exciting oblivion where you will feel like you are also part of this buffed cyberspace police officers. –jediprincess ^_^

♥ A Gentleman’s Dignity (May – Aug) ♥

From the production team that brought Secret Garden, City Hall and Lovers in Paris comes an addictive, relationship contemplating rom-com drama in a Sex and the City male version vibe.  The quirky and engaging cast and the quaint story made me a doper of the best F4, blow up middle-aged-hotties F4, that graced the kdramaland.

These quadruplet 40+ men grew up as friends since Highschool and nurtured their friendship since then.  The morning breakfast forums, the constant cover ups to survive the feisty wife, the one-sided love, the mischievous-kiss-may-december-love-affair, the now-we-break-up-tomorrow-we’ll-get-back relationship, the opening hilarious anecdotes, the sweetest, heart-wrenching love declarations and love-believe-me’s, and the bromance were some of the reasons why this would be my “MUST-WATCH ROMANCE DRAMA” this year.

Every episode was humor and wit overload.  Each character can stand alone and has his own remembering note.  All throughout there was never a dull moment.  It was exceptionally comic when the four main leads do their antics and so heartfelt when the scenes require them to tap on their emotions.

The female leads have played their part so well complementing the different personas of the four princes.

Kim Do Jin and So Yi Seo

The smooth alpha playboy who vowed not to be married because he can’t love only one woman in his life met his match alongside two declarations of love that were not meant for him.  Do-jin oppa was a classic example of an alpha-playboy and has won me over with how he can assess when he needed to be a knight in a shining armor, and when he can disregard someone because she already stepped on his mark as a man.  The one-sided love that eventually became two-sided was a fetching tale and a reminder that love just happens, and it will change you and your life overnight.

Choi Yoon and Im Me Ah Ri

The you-and-me-against-my-brother-who-is-your-bestfriend love affair was worth the wait when they eventually claimed what was rightfully theirs.  It was a long ride and if not for Me Ah Ri’s persistent and lovable bratty princess attitude, I would have been annoyed, but what made their tandem charming was her non-restrained “i-love-you-you-belong-to-me” attitude which warmed the cold widowed snd friendship bound heart of Yoon oppa.

Lee Jung Rok and Park Min Sook

They are my favorite husband-and-wife this year so far.  The playboy-of-them-all who occasionally hides his wedding ring when there’s a hot girl in a meter radius has always made me laugh big time whenever he faces his wife in a My-Wife-is-a-Gangster mode.  Jung Rok oppa was the stimulus of most of the laughter in this drama and how his friends would cover up for his womanizing was so fun to watch.  I would have wished for more of their marriage cute quarrels but I deem they have the most out of their screen time to be remembered well.

Im Tae San and Hong Se Ra

Tae San oppa was your typical good boy playboy… he plays but he knows when to stop.  He was ever reliable, nice and protective.  His relationship with a woman who was afraid of settling down and their love fights along the way presented what most middle-age relationship are… leading to marriage or forever single life.  Their pairing up solidified the main love plot, in fact the characters they played were the tying knot of the drama.

A Gentleman’s Dignity’s cast achieved a chemistry that was able to sustain and balance four love stories tied by love and friendship.   At first I was crossed between Yoon oppa and Do Jin oppa but then eventually I became too greedy I vouched for the whole set.   It was laid unpretentiously, realistically and happily.   So there if you want to make a drama in a real world setting, you have to put real life events, if you play with supernatural, you have to make sure that you will take care of all the lose-ends, and will not leave your audience in an annoying jaw-dropping moment.  (*BIG I still hate you).

For a woman’s perspective, I never thought I would enjoy this so much and I felt that even if Jang Dong Gun was the main attraction among the boys, having them all together were the strongest points of the drama.  All four of them were a big pile of mirth and love. 

They say life begins at 40, and these men who were friends since Highschool rocked it.  Having their own stable life, they have to balance personal, family and relationship issues while maintaining the best bromance I’ve seen so far.

The conflicts mainly focused on their finding and keeping love.  Do jin and Yi Soo depicted how sweet a one-sided love can be when it became two-sided.  Yoon and Me Ah Ri defied friendship and age to hold on to each other.  Tae San and Se Ra had a rough ride before they finally realized they belong to each other.  Jung Rok and Min Sook defeated jealousies and discovered that you sometimes have to lose love so that you can find it again. 

 The 20 hours I spent with this drama has made a very jumping on the air happy girl.   The only thing that hindered me from liking Do Jin oppa and eventually erasing Kim Boong-do in my heart is because he looked like a boy I used to date.  *giggles

I have very positive feelings towards this drama.  All those minor so-what-situational-supporting-conflict I just disregarded because the story and the characters have such reverberating resonance that has made me reflect on how I’ve been dealing with my own relationship and commitment issues.  Come to think of it, they made this to make you remember how vulnerable and how defiant you can come after because of love.  This will definitely make it to my top 3 this year.  So I only have one slot left to give.   Come on kdramas indulge me.  –jedipincess ^_^

 

QUOTES:

 

If you’re not going to sleep with me, don’t flirt.

You do not bait a fish that was already caught.

You forgot a man, with another man.

All break-ups done for another person do not make sense to the person who loved more.

By nature, a man’s first love is always beautiful.

Do you know what words a man can’t say after “iloveyou”?  “I’m sorry.”

Why don’t you let your emotions lead you?  Or the alcohol lead you… or let me lead you?

Do you know how it feels to have someone yesterday and then “you wish you have her” the next day?

♥ Answer Me, 1997 (July-Sept) ♥

Coming from a Neal Caffrey movie marathon, Answer Me 1997 sprinted all the way to my heart with its vibrant characters, nostalgic premise, fan girl foolish escapades, friendship we all have at some point and we still have at the moment and of course the crazy first love.  

TVN offered another late year delight like what they did in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop.  It was suave, witty and comic, the kind of what I want for an ideal love.  I know nothing of the actors in this drama and surprisingly, they have hooked my very elusive heart.

Kdramaland was all out and has maximized the use of time element in the dramas this year, and this time for Answer Me 1997, it was nostalgic… I sighed, cried and laughed out loud as I joined the characters in their younger years memory delving.  Nothing magical, mythical and supernatural, just a pure trip down to the moments everyone watching can totally relate.  Spicing the flashback element, the drama will be switching from present to the later part of the ‘90’s showcasing the trademark of that generation where tamagotchi, flip top phones and the rest of the ancestors of the modern technology in their conceiving stage.

A group of high school friends sat down for a sweet reunion and reminisce their High School life.  The story mainly evolved to best buddies Yoon-Jae and Shi-won in their quirky friendship progressing to a secret love and turning to a first love that ripened at the right time.

Shi-won has made me look so prim and proper when I saw how she maneuvered her fan girl antics.  From idol stalking to product buying to blood shedding to fan meet camping… she took it all, and she took it in her bossy and feisty style Miranda Priestley cannot afford to do.  Her addiction has made the people around her forcedly support her in her quest to be close to her celebrity crush.  While she’s doing her craziness, their High School life in the year 1997 was narrated.  Yoon-jae who has been beside Shi-won has realized that his being protective towards his childhood friend was the result of cupid’s predestined meant-to-be-arrow, but because his brother who has devoted his life to him after their parents passed away liked the same girl, he gave up his first love.  Before they move to university life, he emotionally confessed his feelings and vowed to forget all the love and all the friendship they shared to move on with his life.  At that same night Yoon-jae’s brother also declared his intention to be together with his first love’s little sister but Shi-won rejected him because she realized too late the love that has been with her all her life.

Years later they met again, and in her all business let’s not talk about the details attitude, Shi-won got straight to the point and tried to claim the offer she last denied.  


Watching how the love entanglements unfolded in this drama hit home in me and made me really pensive at the time when I was not shielding myself because of love.


The familiar feeling of first love if given another chance could become a “fated love”.  I finished the drama in one sitting, that’s how engrossing and fetching the story was.  It was just there sharing a wonderful friendship and love story without hassles and annoying conflicts but the emotions were resonating and striking at the memory veins that it will make you recollect the good old times when you first passionately and recklessly fell in love.

The charming screenplay and story have brought out the best of the newbie artists.  The novelty and evasion from the drama rom-com clichés has made the plot a winner.  It was like reading a predictable book… you know what’s going to happen but how they made it happen was sweet, comic, beautiful and realistic so you stayed fondly watching them.  The story will grow on you without you realizing it.

This is a wistful memoir of that point in time that we first fell in love… and when you finish the story, you might wonder what if you tried to go back.
“The reason why first love is always special is because you kept the memories… because you can never go back”.  Answer Me 1997 will prove this quote otherwise. -jediprincess

♥ Haeundae Lovers (Aug-Sept) ♥

The hotel-tug-of-war, the quirkiest-quasi-mafia-ish-fisherman family I have ever laid my eyes on, the stubborn-quick-to-anger-but-adorably-handsome-prosecutor, and the love story that was brought about by a criminal chase and one after another jumping into wrong conclusions were reasons enough to enjoy this light drama from the writer of one of my last year’s favorite — City Hunter.
 
 
Go So Ra and her uncles have been conquering the waters of Busan on their quest to pay off all their debts and to reclaim the Haeundae Hotel that her father founded but was taken away by a gangster rebellion initiated by his father’s second in command, Yang Man Ho.


 
Yang Man Ho, the man who snatched the hotel was dying and wanted to see his long lost son for the last time and a star scar would be the key to finding him.
 
Lee Tae Sung knows nothing only but to please his father who adopted him from the orphanage when he was young.  All his life has been channeled into succumbing to what his father commanded him, that including his fixed marriage to a daughter of a rich family.

 
Through these people, a love was fated to happen with a Romeo and Juliet background between a prosecutor and a fisherwoman-princess.


 
After failed attempts to catch a notorious con-man, Go Joong Shik, who has a lot of crime medals to brag about, Tae Sung was determined to seize him to appease his father’s disappointment and to prove his worth to the prosecutors’ office who are doubting his capabilities and who hasn’t had a smooth relationship with him because of his being egoistic.  

The slimy Joong-shik narrowly escaped his encounter with Tae-sung on a pier brawl so their team last chance was to locate him through Joong-shik’s girlfriend.  Go So Ra went to a night club where her cousin was said to be working, and to bail her out of the club, the boss wanted her to pose as a geisha and dance.  In the same night club, Tae-sung was preparing for the operation, and mistakenly thought So-ra was their secret mole.  “I’ve never felt this way before” – Tae-sung kept telling So-ra this line puzzling her while being annoyed at his insistence.  As So-ra found her way to escape the night club, Tae-sung who almost caught Joong-shik inadvertently let him slip away and in his fading consciousness saw Joong-shik on board So-ra’s truck which happened because she bumped at him while he was running away and while she and her cousin were in a hurry to get out of the place.

Even after just getting off his wedding day, he set off to Busan to look for So-ra as he thought she was Joong-shik’s girlfriend.  He worked his way to So Ra’s family in the hopes of getting a lead and when he finally traced him, the villain assumed his cat-like existence and won over their fight leaving him drowned in the water, but was luckily revived by So Ra’s family who has been thinking he was the culprit who took all their fish catch which was earlier sold by her cousin.


 
Lee Tae Sung woke up but due to a head damage, he can’t recall his identity. On the same hospital room, he was revived, Yang Man Ho was not aware that his long lost son was sharing a room with him. 


 
While battling amnesia, Tae Sung was taken in by Sora’s family as his family and wife thought him to be dead because of a car accident.

As Tae-sung/Nam-hae got used to ocean life, he has learned to rely on the only person in the world who can be there from him, and more than him realizing his vulnerability, his amnesia made him aware to listen to his heart more.

To save So-ra’s face when her groom ranaway, Tae-sung bravely marched down the aisle to assume a knight in a shining armor role, but in a twist of long standing Haeundae gangster fate, it was revealed formally that Tae-sung in deed was the long lost son of Go family’s arch nemesis Yang Man Ho.  But eventually Tae-sung and So-ra submitted to the mutual emotions they were both feeling and formed a plan to reclaim the hotel So-ra has been dreaming to have in the past 10 years. 

And just as their love story became crystal clear and freed from their father issues, Choi Joon Hyuk who harbored a one-sided love with So-ra did his chess move when he learned of Tae-sung’s real identity and revealed it to him in an off-guard-coming-out-of-amnesia-torn-between-two-lovers deal.

 

When Tae-sung’s memory resurfaced, to protect So-ra to the claws of power his father and his wife have, he left Seoul and buried his hours to his prosecutor job, and I’m happy that in a hurried pace, this drama made him bounced back so fast to come to terms with his daddy issues by blurting all the things he has wanted to say and also to confront the wife he has never loved not minding the guilt she was pressing on to him.

My favorite scene was surprisingly that one liner who has started their love story.  When Tae-sung told So-ra “I’ve never felt this way before”, with all his memory back and all the series of events that happened between them… and with all the love he was able to realized because of her, I smiled that I got lucky chancing upon this sweet love tale.


 
This drama totally deviated from the supernatural-time-travelling trend this year to settle to a realistic love narrative that built up so perfectly I was almost falling in love at the same time as the couple was feeling it… amnesia plot and all that off-beat elements, I ended up appreciating it.

It stayed on low key but was consistent with the romance and mirth all throughout.  So I guess the City Hunter writer was not a fluke at all, she was a real thing.  I liked that they gave the couple love hindering conflicts and made them so strong with their convictions to overcome it.  They took one step back and then 10 steps forward to claim what is rightfully theirs.

It was swift and well-paced.  It was predictable and yet so fun to watch.  Amidst the 3rd quarter drama, Haeundae Lovers was not that conspicuous, underrated if I may say, and the irony of it is that it has the biggest heart so far from what I’ve seen… tapping on love, family and friendship in an uncomplicated and stirring way of defining life’s real moments.

Just like the serene ocean background setting, Haeundae Lovers was an endearing, calming drama that will drown a stressful week.  I am sure right now that it will certainly not be one of the best this year, but at least it didn’t disappoint me at all and was always making me smile while I am watching it.

 

♥ Innocent Man (Sept-Nov) ♥

Dear kdramagod,

Thank you for giving me my Sungkyunkwan boys in the dramaland this year.  Seeing Song Joong Ki in his devilish playboy charm and kissable lips was the sole reason why I remained faithful watching this drama.  Please give him another one in the future, his potentials are really brimming.

Last quarter in the kdramaland is a melodrama short stop where vengeance, money-tug-of-war, misplaced love primarily span the main ingredients to watch out. 

Tutututut…. I neither liked nor hated Innocent Man, I loved Kang Ma Ru so much, but the story was not able to engross me…  I’ve been there in that kind of story a lot of times, the only novelty was that the main character was given the ability to hold both the yin and yang torches and rescue the people around him, and he did the rescuing unfavorable to him.  He wants a one-man show in becoming the best sacrificial lamb ever. 

This is the story of Harry potter’s twin brother – “THE BOY WHO LOVED”  *chuckles

Kang Ma Ru, a bright young aspiring doctor has been a caring brother to his sickly sister.  He is your nice, intelligent guy in flesh and blood whom every girl’s mother wants her daughter to marry someday.  He cherished Han Jae Hee, a girl from their neighborhood who has been living in a dysfunctional family that has treated her like garbage all her life.   Ma Ru dreamt of a future with her, but she dreamt a different future for her.  Working as a junior reporter, Han Jae Hee met a man for a big scoop that will put a business conglomerate, Taesan group, to a scandal, but she accidentally killed the man.  Kang Ma Ru clouded by the idea that the girl he loved more than her younger sister will be behind the bars lost all the wit he has and took the murder blame to save Han Jae-Hee. 

Years after, Han Jae Hee became the wife of Taesan group’s CEO as Kang Ma Ru after imprisonment became an expert player and did every job he can to provide for his sister’s medical expenses.   Their paths crossed again and to spite the woman he was jailed for but forgot everything about him after, he made her stepdaughter, Seo Eun Gi,  fall in love with him.  Seo Eun-gi was caught in Ma Ru’s trap and while she’s also battling her position in the company, she learned of the man she love’s past relationship with her step mother.  Eun-gi asked Ma Ru and the latter confirmed the truth she found out.  They parted ways after throwing icy “that’s what you get when you fall blindedly in love” confrontation but she shifted back her driving to hit Kang Ma Ru’s approaching car.  That was a hell hath no fury when a woman got scorned move, and I know I’m weird but I loved that scene. 

After a year, Eun-gi who suffered brain damage from the accident has most of her memory loss so she was hidden by her secretary and her lawyer out of loyalty and guilt to his father and their company.  To protect the company from Jae-hee and her right hand’s evil clutches, (I forgot the name of the right hand because he looked so weird in poker face),  Kang Ma Ru re-entered her life to assist her in regaining her memory.   As Ma Ru feared the day when Eun-gi gets her memory back, he began to realize that a person doesn’t love once only in his lifetime.  And as Han Jae Hee’s greed chastised her because I think the people in hell hasn’t invented yet a place for her, she realized that she was wrong turning her back to the man she loved.  In the end, Han Jae Hee redeemed herself and confessed all of the sins she’s done together with her right-hand accomplice and they were put in prison for 7 years.  Kang Ma Ru survived a brain surgery, studied abroad and put up a small private clinic in the neighborhood he grew up with.  It was hinted that he lost his memory after the surgery and he also narrated how he prayed fervently for another chance in life and another chance to be in an ordinary love.  (Well I’m yours for the taking baby!)  *wink 

Kang Ma Ru was a memorable character this year, Joong-ki oppa was able to justify the facets of the many characters he had and was forced to have.  He was decisive and can kick asses when he needed to.  He didn’t throw a fit when the world was unfriendly to him as long as he got to protect the people that mattered to him.  How his character evolved I think most of people can relate.  He was unyielding and never backing out to what he believed, but his weakness was his embracing to his inner hero self to shield the people he cherished.

Seo Eun-gi in her tough front was fierce but she failed to disengage her feisty self most of the time in her showdowns with Han Jae Hee, the latter still made her looked like a strong-woman-wanna-be-heiress.  But what I liked about her is her willingness to abandon herself all because of love.  She was not scared to admit it and her love declaration to my battered Ma Ru was one of my favorite scenes in the drama.  When she got to the amnesia part I was paying that they might pull a supernatural trick because I really hated that part when she was in it, so when she got it all back, I was hoping for her former feisty self reprisal to beat all the odds and help Ma Ru together but instead they gave us that cut to 7 years after ending.

How Ma Ru and Eun-gi arrived to the point of they both love each other and there will be no turning back was strengthened by the conspiracies and deceit that surrounded before and after the actual falling in love part, but when they were supposed to be together to finally claim and own it, they were able to achieve it but it was lacking because of the time constraint, so it was salvaged by the narration, which was prettily written, but after all they’ve been through, they deserved some happily loving each other scenes, near the sea or in a beautiful garden maybe. 

Han Jae Hee and her 3-man-sometimes-2 minion were not my favorite villains this year, they were better than Tae-suk and Se-na from Rooftop prince who can’t kill a cellphone but failing to attend Voldemort’s workshop perhaps was the reason why the evil ways they released didn’t have a finishing kick.  They also  have that same facial expressions they carried whenever they cast off their dark moves and whenever they are cornered in those few paybacks they got from the main leads. 

After catching the viewers in a web full of deceit, hatred, annoyance, angst, and the rest of the negative vibes they can think of they settled to a bright, happy ending.   My take on the ending was fair but considering the dark tone set in the story all throughout, I would have preferred a retribution deserving to the characters. The redeeming ending  for Han Jae Hee realizing too late her being ambitious didn’t leave her happy after all was I think not matching her style.  I love it when “yin” prevails, but I didn’t like how they placed it in the concluding episodes – “okay sleep now tomorrow morning everything will be alright.”  She went as far as killing someone, letting someone took the blame on it, and then suddenly because she apologized and ready to be jailed, we have to forgive her because of it.  It just didn’t make any sense for me.  Actually that’s what I learned from Jerry Yan hubby.  There’s no such thing as I’m sorry.

Innocent Man was able to bring out an excellent protagonist, even with unequal footing and at times annoying goodness, he still managed to bounce back from the evil doings the villains shot at him.  On that note, I didn’t like that all of the players are on the same level but the retaliation for the protagonists was snail-like when the villains weren’t that even scary compared to the bad guys I’ve seen in the past.  In short, Ma Ru’s support team was not efficient enough to make the story worth remembering for me.  Even if you have a star player on your team, he still need some help. 

It was an unreasonable one sided love after one sided love after another one sided love that my love veins pulsated in irritation.  Much to what they were trying to arrive at how the story would progress and which love will be affirmed, it formed a lame basis and futile attempts owing to the unlimited blackmailing disposed all over.  Injecting that memory loss plot was a very dangerous thing to do, and I say it was an unnecessary move.  Closing the deceit plot and resurrecting it again by causing an amnesia trick just lengthened the strife which has been won by the bad guys since the onset of the story.  Had they made the protagonists more valiant and understanding in dealing at the stones thrown at them it would have been more rounded, instead of clinging to the amnesia cliché and the lead girl who I had a love-you-hate-you-relationship when she was strong and stubborn and meek and vulnerable. 

A quarter left through the drama, I was screaming “Give her memory back! or I will go straight to the prosecutor’s office!”  There are just so much intentions going on but no meaning to what they are trying to do.  It started intense, wavered relentlessly, gasped some strong punches in the last quarter, and ended safe… no apologies for the viewers they annoyed and put up to cursing mode because the story and the characters moving around it seemed to be having their own business and was not aware that they are supposed to play their part, out play their enemies and declared what they should have been.  If I dissect the drama, it was just a story of man who loved the wrong woman, became cold and distant, met another woman and fell in love again.  But they have to go all the way to the scenes borrowed from previous dramas, the weak villains, chaebol group managing rights and the memory loss.  It was just another love and goodness will conquer kind of thing but they made it so dragging and tiring to munch at. 

But then again even after all my incessant whining which I really limited, I’m not a fan nor did I dislike “Innocent Man”.  It was safe to a point that I liked so much the texture of the main lead’s character Kang Ma Ru, but I won’t vouch for how they contemplated on the movement of the story.  I liked that it gave us a feeling of relying that there’s always another day to hope and believe in life even if you’ve gone through days of tears, pain and sacrifice. -jediprincess

 

♥ Arang and the Magistrate (Aug-Oct)  ♥

Once upon a time IlJimae was playing solitaire… feisty Gumiho got bored by it she taunted him to play poker instead.  This basically explained what happened to Arang and the Magistrate 20-episode stride.  It was like an Amazing Race where ghosts, Jade Emperor, humans, Hades, Grim Reaper and Heavenly-Fairy-turned-she-Voldemort mounted their moves to the slowly set pit stops and finally arrived at a momentous conclusion that sort of apologized for the dallying first half of the series.

 

In search of his mother, Kim Eun Oh, a son of a notable government official went to Miryang, but was halted of his main objective when a wandering ghost, Arang pleaded for him to help her seek justice for her death.  The magistrates who were supposed to be leading the town died of unknown reasons which were comically revealed to be because of Arang’s pestering of them to find the truth about her demise but technically the town was being reigned by a tyrant – Lord Choi.

 

Resigned to the idea that he will not help the feisty ghost, he ended up obliging after learning that it could uncover the trail to his goal of finding his mother when he saw the hair pin he last gave his mother worn by Arang.  Kim Eun Oh used his position as magistrate to investigate about Arang’s death and has done improvements in running the town where people were bound to the fright Lord Choi has brought them about.

 

The new magistrate soon learned Arang’s previous life’s identity who turned out to be the previous magistrate’s daughter Lee Seo Rim.  She was supposed to be engaged to Lord Choi’s adopted son Joo-wal but she went missing and was believed to have eloped with a low born man.  Eun-oh and his men stumbled on Seo-rim’s cadaver one day and when Arang learned of his ill-fated death she bargained with the Jade Emperor of the injustice she got.  With the help of the shaman she devised a way to personally visit the Jade emperor by trapping the Grim Reaper – the Angel of Death and forcing him to accompany her to the Jade Emperor.  She got what she wanted and was given a chance by the Jade Emperor to live for 3 full moons and has to find out the truth about her death, if she will fail to do so, she will be sent to the deepest recesses of hell.

 

So then Arang became human again and helped Eun-oh to track the mysterious cause of her death and the connection of her mother to her.  The magistrate also soon fell in love with her but knowing her short lived pardon to stay she can’t return the favour even if she was feeling the same way.  Joo-wal was also smitten by Arang, but was forced not to pursue it because of him serving his adopted aunt who was in reality the magistrate’s mother but was possessed by a fallen heaven fairy – Moo-yeon.

 

Moo-yeon was also revealed to be the Grim Reaper’s sister who harboured secret love towards her brother.  In her discontentment of things she cannot do because of heavenly status, she escaped Jade Emperor’s realm and possessed human bodies to survive on earth.   Only Moo-yeong aka Grim Reaper can stop Moo-yeon with her vile powers but his attempts has not been successful so he asked Eun-oh to help him, who was torn in choosing his mother and the woman he loved.

 

In the end, Eun-oh and Grim Reaper defeated Moo-yeon and was able to save Eun-oh’s mother’s soul.  Together with Arang, they embarked on her assignment to seek who killed her, and in doing so, he also learned of the truth that his life was also borrowed from the Jade Emperor.  It was revealed that Lee Seo Rim gave her life to protect Joo-wal and in the end Joo-wal became a Grim Reaper and Kim Eun Oh and Arang were reincarnated to continue on their fated love.

 

 

The one-sided love of the magistrate, the too-late-reciprocated-and-realized-love-for-Joo-Wal-to-Lee-Seo-Rim/Arang, and the restricted-by-full-moon-love-of-Arang-to-the-magistrate illustrated a heart piercing and yet understanding kind of love that I greatly appreciated because for a change, I saw characters not ending up twisted because of the love they so wanted to have.  Instead, they respected whatever emotions they are feeling and they are getting, and for that reason I found the romance in this drama compelling.  Whatever they said about “letting love go, and if it returns, it was meant for you” was achieved by the main players of the love entanglement.

 

It was an incessant shower of disappointing sighs as I groped my way to finish Arang and the Magistrate.  Halfway through the drama, it was still bland and bleak with a plot not coherent to the characters or shall I say, the characters were all good but the story moves in literally a mysterious way, that I ended up mystified and wanting to know why it kept withholding the covert truths indispensable to the movement of the plot.  But then alas! On the 13th episode it became lucky and started showing signs of promise.

 

 

Although Arang and the Magistrate showed languid episode movements, it sustained a convincing closure that has made it escaped a drama disappointment tag.  The main characters vibrant portrayals attributed to my not giving up on the drama, that being said, it helped that there are not that much characters to munch, and them being effective to their personas has helped the drama survive its slow-footed premise.

 

It has a light villain shock so the thrill and driving point relied on the main characters’ do or die choices.  The myriad nexus of the story arcs and the paranormal conflicts crept blindly relying on a climactic conflict that salvaged the slow evolving drama.  The casper-ish elements catenated the central theme which focused on the yin-yang-yearnings of the human heart. 

 

Arang and the Magistrate was able to evade an almost drama fury on my end.  It was a safe drama, period.  It goes down to the point of how you manage to end something, no matter how unsure and average the narration of the story was, as long as you give a decent ending that would suffice.  I really applaud the characters… I liked the concept but how they thread on the bridge to get to the other side could have been better if they wove a straight yarn and minimize the holding back of what should have happened.  I was able to predict what will happen eventually, but I stayed with it because the dragging storyline in the first half was compensated by the fast-paced-surprise-after-surprise second half.  Had they made it consistent it would have felt better considering the stellar performance of the cast and the richness manipulation of the folklore from where the story was derived.

 Safe, fun and feisty, I still recommend this as a Korean drama to watch this year.  -jediprincess

♥ To The Beautiful You (Aug-Oct)  ♥

To The Beautiful You – this will be the 3rd adaptation of the Japanese shojo manga “Hana Kimi” and my favorite of ’em all I say.. Well Koreans have this knack on doing their adaptation even better than the original.  I think Apple will agree on that. *chuckles

So given its quite familiar story, two adaptations Kdrama viewers can compare it with, I was just expecting how the following of the plot and turn of events will make me feel good, and I was not prepared it will hit me really good that my teenager self from 10 years ago assumed herself and was kicking her legs, giggling endlessly and hugging her pillow so tight in every surge of romantic scenes.

I was in constant tug-of-war between Eun-gyul and Tae-joon that I deviced a “who-abby-really-likes” scoresheet to break the sweet confusion.

Eun-gyul was your typical funny and thoughtful guy… the guy the writer would claim to be the main lead girl’s soulmate because it also breaks her heart that he will not be chosen.

Tae-joon, the distant-hot-you-can’t-help-but-drool-with descendant of Darcy and was a fictional fulfillment of every teenager girl’s dream boy.  He has had my love security blanket stripped while he showered me with romantic meteors in his smooth suave ways. 

Now the lead girl, Jae Hee whose stubborn hair has resurrected Helen of Troy in her body as cute boys lined up to win her heart subconsciously and knowingly. The typical vulnerable and warm lead girl who sometimes struggle with her understanding of the way things move around her.  She thrives on self-sacrificing but her being clueless spins most of the romance moments in the drama.

Any drama with a clingy girl who can’t grasp and digest that the boy he likes doesn’t like her always irritate me.  I just can’t stand girls who thrive with their insecurities in real life and even in kdramaland.


So the story simply goes like this… Jae-hee was a fan of a high-jump athlete Tae-joon.  He was the person who inspired her to come out of her shell when she was discriminated at school being a foreign student.  Tae-joon met an accident, lost his mother and lost his passion as an athlete so Jae-hee disguised herself as a boy to enter the same school Tae-joon was studying and imposed herself to be his resident encouragement-human-pill.

In a twist of cupid luck she ended up sharing the same dorm room with him and little by little she has crawled inside his lonely-angsty-secluded-self.

Jae-hee’s life in a male-infested school was such a refreshing dose of young love that you will find yourself reminiscing the first time you fell in love. Unbeknownst to Jae Hee, Tae-joon learned of her identity secret, and when he was able to define the strong fondness he felt towards her, a clingy-assuming-girlfriend, daddy issues and Eun Gyul’s one sided love would shake their teenager romance.

This is another teenage love drama at its best… no worries, just purely cuteness, sassiness and first love vibes. I will miss Eun-gyul’s social media shout-outs and weird mind wanderings, Jae-hee’s radiant smile and pure heart, and Tae-joon’s… well everything about him.  *giggles

Candid and totally charming, To the Beautiful You will promise you smiles and refreshing feel.  If you are looking for something serious or evil induced story, then you won’t find it here.  Everything about it was lightly done even the conflicts.  Simply laid, progressed smoothly and stopping at a happy ever-after note… this drama will be one of my favorite among the rom-coms this year.

♥ Faith (Aug-Oct)  ♥

Dear Lee Min Ho,

You are god’s gift to women.  If we can bottle you up, we will be free from mood swings, heartaches and all the rest of unexplained emotions men rarely understand.  Seriously, like every close-up shot zoomed in your newest drama drew ohs and ahhs from me.  We are really meant to be!  *giggles

I will be having a hard time on my year-end drama ratings and the reason for that would be because of this beautiful warrior and modern doctor love story set in the latter part of Korean history’s Goryeo period.  I love this drama not because of Lee Min Ho *lightning strikes*… *giggles nah, but seriously there’s a lot of excellent dramas shown this year but Faith was a complete package that I felt so Jerry Maguire-ish all throughout my drama stalking.

It was not as polished and calculated as City Hunter or Ghost, in fact it was sort of slow moving but it was moving to a direction where it was making the viewers joined the drama production… cheering for them, feeling each of the character’s pain, engrossed with the happy moments and frustrated with the inability to end the villains vile ways.  To make it simple, Faith was successful in establishing a connection that will not make it forgettable.

Choi Young, the strong and steamy hot Woodalchi warrior was a General serving the Goryeo King.  His last mission before embarking to his dream of becoming a bummer was to escort the new King and his queen that was held hostage by the Yuan Empire.  The opposing forces tried as much as they can to have the King not reach the palace.  They were unsuccessful with their intention but were able to harm the queen.  Should the queen die, Goryeo will be facing Sauron’s eye because the queen was a Mongolian Yuan empire princess so the King desperate to find a cure to salvage the wounded queen resorted to an urban legend of a famous doctor who just suddenly disappeared.  He commanded the General, Choi Young of the Royal family’s elite soldiers to go to the Heaven’s Door to bring the doctor. 

Choi Young bravely went to the portal and what they thought to be a heavenly place turned out to be modern day Gangnam city in Korea where he found Yoo Eun Soo, a plastic surgeon.  Not realizing and buying the craziness of the whole deal I guess, the general grabbed the doctor to Goryeo period to fulfill the King’s command with a promise that he will return the abducted doctor.

But complications arose when the news of a doctor from heaven swept the Kingdom, the wily Prince Gi Cheol, who has sworn brothers and sisters with supernatural abilities wanted Yoo Eun Soo for his invincibility dreams.

The major conflicts were mainly divided to the political assertions and the save-the-doctor-struggle in the winding part of the drama.  The main character Choi Young, weary but bound to his responsibility to the king was always resolved in prioritizing him, and it has pained him that he cannot protect the love of his life.  When his inability to wield his sword struck in the home stretch I was so worried that they may not get an ever-after, so when he went back to his nothing-fazes-me attitude and went Kenshin Himura to all the people who has been blocking the road to happiness with his woman, I just told myself that it’s really not a bad idea to be single as long as this man will always be there on the TV screen.

The time-travelling doctor was the source of zest and held the magical twist in the story.  At the latter part I enjoyed immensely the sweet nothings and the lines she shared with Choi Young, but it doesn’t erased the fact that Lee Min Ho has now proven that he can carry a drama by himself.  In all fairness Eun-soo was able to give justice to the general-in-the-black-and-grey-armor with her vibrant attitude.  She was strong and serene at the same time and avoided the lead girl theatrics of always wanting to be rescued, instead her steadfast love patiently found its way to the man of her life.

Eun-soo who was actually the wandering doctor they were really looking for on the onset of the series has travelled through time in the hopes of fulfilling her fated love with Choi Young.  She lost her way many times, and in her sojourns prior to her eventual meeting of Choi Young has left clues for her future self which she was not aware of on the presumed present time. 

Assimilating the action plot with the supernatural spices and decorating it with folklore, having a band of villains equipped with mojos and x-men powers, a sassy and bubbly modern day doctor that was lost cutely to a new kind of living she was forced to live and of course the Thor-ish General who made my Kenshin Himura looked so inferior… were the essentials that made this drama such an enthralling TV experience.  The provocative plot matches the annoying villain assaults and the firm, arresting retaliation of the underdogs.  I know that goodness will prevail in the end, and I’m so looking forward to how the protagonists will take their final stand considering how smooth the pounces were of the bad guys.

This year most of the things in kdramaland involved paranormal activities and strongly portrayed characters.  A k-drama-addict like me was preoccupied year long because of these devastating beauties I uncovered.  Having Lee Min Ho in this drama really triggered my adoration, but more than that it was really the effective way of how the drama sweetly chained my easily bored self by presenting an astonishing picture of a balanced treatment between the characters and the story itself.  The story was there to make the characters shine as the characters made the story span.

Our lead couple Choi Young and Eun Soo came from different time and extremely different personalities, but they have nailed their romantic scenes so perfectly…  the loving gazes, the watching each other while asleep, the cheeky arguments, the no-matter-what-I’ll-protect-you-assurances and the love that was fated to happen was a convincing and fetching depiction of love that can surpass reasons and beyond reasons.

A drama moving through governance contention and draped by the traditional settings normally sets a serious tone, but how the heroes and the villains pulled the tricks on their sleeves eased out the ambiance to set an immersing watch.

The baddies who were at a fight-club mood all the time has brought out the best of the protagonists.  They had a firm atmosphere that never wavered its proportion all throughout even at those times when the narrative was at a billowing pace after the first 4 episodes of setting the mood of the story.

Faith is a remarkably premeditated tale where notwithstanding the consistent dawdling and sageuk clichés it successfully notched the path where it was directing the audience – hope, holding on faith and happiness.  Faith’s ability to balance the transcendent elemental nonsense was plausible and cohering to how it mounted to the story’s peak.

The back to the future arc linked the primary message and the title of the drama – FAITH.  Every essence of it and how a person should have faith to claim the love he deserves.  “Was I lacking of my yearning to see him or was I lacking faith?”  This was a very strong line I remembered and has pierced directly to my romantic veins. 

For people who expect an ending with a kiss to seal it, the closing scene might looked “that’s it?”, but the meaningful smile of the two people who fell in love by defying time and never giving up on their love even if the time played with them has OFFICIALLY made FAITH my KOREAN DRAMA THIS YEAR.

 

♥ May Queen (Aug-Dec)  ♥

 

♥ Ohlala Spouses (Oct-Nov)  ♥

♥ Five Fingers (Aug-Nov) ♥

3 Comments

  1. i do agree with you [owner of the blog]. for me, king two hearts was the best korean drama for 2012 though it lost against rooftop prince. the story moved me to heart, full-packaged drama with funny, sad and thrilling scenes. moreover, ha ji won and lee seung gi never failed to meet my expectation on how they portray the role. The best!

    • i’ve also watched more than 50 k-dramas and king 2 hearts ranked as no.1 in the list of best k-dramas ever since (own opinion).

  2. I loved King 2 Hearts and especially Rooftop Prince!! I am currently watching Big and I Do, I Do. Big has had me all sucked in, I Do, I Do not so much, it’s alright.


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