A Man’s First Love: Beloved Eun Dong Series Review

 

If there’s a first love drama that warmed my heart recently, it would be the story of a man’s unrequited romance to a woman who was kept being separated to him by fate.  Beloved Eun Dong narrated a love story so blissful and agonizing like it came straight from a classic love novel.

The love couple met when they were young and became each other’s puppy love, they met again in college where they formally entered a relationship, but the girl, Eun Dong who dreamt of being an actress met an accident and was separated to him again.  He soon became a top actor and in his quest to find his true love, he commisioned a ghost writer to bring to life his love story.  Eun Dong who suffered from amnesia took the job and while writing the book, flashes of her memory came back and realized the lies her current disabled husband and adopted father did to her.

 But claiming the love that was deprived of them by the villains was no easy task as they faced the controversy of Eun Dong being married legally.  To make the matter worse, Eun Dong revealed that her son is Hyun Soo’s, but his son is already attached to the father he was with while growing up.

Divided in 3 parts, Eun Dong and Hyun Soo’s story moved steady from that sweet young love to the complicated re-owning of the diverted romance in a way where I was so affected by the enduring commitment of Hyun Soo to love only one woman in his life.  I have never seen someone like him in kdramaland.  I mean most of the boys surely did love their girls the best way they can, but his painstaking story to be with the girl he loves, left my heart on a painful twinge.  Having a villain that was wheelchair bound and acted selfish because of love has had me on a dilemma as well if I will hate or understand his pain.  

The conflict having been Eun Dong already married while the lead man fervently waited for her was mind agonizing.  It was a test of justifying what you’ve been through to lose your greatest love and will you be happy if you reclaim your love that is not yours by law anymore.  The love triangle were all in a helpless state trying to break out from that suffocating bind, but in the end true love paved a way to free them all of the burden.

“Beloved Eun Dong” has a very strong narrative which will put the audience on a trance in finding a solution for everyone to be happy.  It taught a lesson that love involves two people loving each other the best way they can and not how the people around them understands it. It will perfectly soothe and evoke your heart because it will make you reminisce the casualties of failed relationships and the bliss of fighting for what you think is rightfully yours.  This drama will remind you of your greatest love and will prove to you how love is meant to be, when you work for it to happen.

 

 

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2015 KDramas You Might Have Missed

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Just in case you did not see them, I want to share you the delights for the past year as 2016 is already waning.  Now I was not able to monitor last year’s drama the way I did this year, so most of it I was able to finish up to the first half of 2016.

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HEALER (Dec 2014 – Feb 2015)

GENRES:  Drama, Romance, Comedy, Action, Suspense

As a night courier serving privy and expensive tasks, Healer’s routine life changed after his encounter with a woman connected to the death of his father.  What made me like the drama a lot is how the storytelling was focused and neatly tied up without room to uncalled for sub plots.  It moved engrossingly while uncovering the link of the main characters in the past and their children in the present time.

The story’s main conflict focused on peeling the truth behind the lead couple’s fathers’ death while journeying on their fated love.  It aligned to Healer’s character strength to propel the excitement while he did his gripping missions… circled on Young Shin’s character as the focal tug-of-war battle between the Moon brothers’ villain and hero complicated relationship and surged high to the my-father-might-have-killed-your-father-but-i-promise-i-love-you-and-i-will-protect-you love plot of the main leads. Healer justified the superb writing with how the characters went passionately driven to bring out a scintillating storytelling.

While a lot progressed in the story, it never missed it steps in binding the romance, the back story and the conflicts together.  It made use of the parallel plot about upright journalists in presenting the same events of the characters in the past and the present.

There were small problems that were laid along the way to boost the main conflict of how the protagonists will bring justice to their fathers’ death by ruining the villains through innovative news broadcast.  In this crime-romantic-drama-thriller premise, the story got so intoxicating because it assimilated Healer’s Promethean skills and heartfelt media coverage to battle the conscience-less power players of the country.  When your cast is smart and the writing is nifty, there’s no way the notes will not be hit.  That is the case for Healer.  I would also like to commend how I enjoyed Healer’s theme music on its placement in the drama and how the villains even with their old personas masterfully made the lives of the heroes hard by utilizing their vile ways.  

Healer is one of the best dramas you should include in your list if you haven’t seen it yet.  It has a brilliant premise about a one-of-a-kind hero who chose to disconnect from the society, but accidentally grew attachment to a woman who drew him out of his hibernation.  The drama quaintly linked the furtive relationship of the characters while building up the plot’s climax and romance to perfection.  It is so addictive, stimulating and amusing — and that one drama you can sit on with family, friends and even your lover.

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Punch (Nov 2014 – Dec 2015) 

GENRES:  Drama, Legal

Awed and at the edge of my seat every episode’s finishing kick, I can’t help but wondered how brilliant the writer of this story by bringing out a drama where heroes and villains don’t waste time out-manipulating each other to secure the highest possible position befitting to their greed and wickedness.  With a dying man as a lead hero in charge to intellectually brawl with his superiors in the Prosecutor’s office, the stake was always at the highest as the people involved raced to protect their families, reputations and personal ambitions.

Punch is a literal badass with its scintillating and intelligent writing.  It was full of surprises that will make the viewers grab their hair out of frustration.  I wondered how much hate the writer might have stored in himself to motivate him to write a chronicle that was able to maintain a level of grit all throughout his depiction of the corrupt Korean Prosecutors Office.

I thought why the drama was titled Punch, and after finishing, it really lived to that name because every episode was a combat spectacle in cleverness and wiliness .  Punch is a story of a dying prosecutor in his quest to clean up the corrupt high officials of the office he belongs to.  His strategic thinking defied the power his superiors used when he was on a spree to reveal their evil doings.  It was a hard and frustrating battle but he managed to expose the truth before his passing.

What viewers would love about Park Jung Hwan is his ability to bounce back from the oppression even with nothing on his hand to fight off the huge power and walls his superiors built to hinder his outrage.  It’s your classic underdog story but very well polished in a Mafia grit kind of way.  They made phonecalls, afternoon tea and eating jajangmyun so thrilling in my eyes.  hahaha

The antagonists displayed impossible levels of wickedness that even when they got what they deserved at the closing chapter I was still fuming on the inside.  There’s no fleeting romantic interlude in this drama but it is filled with family love and lessons about choosing the right decisions in your lives.    If you want a dose of serious themed dramas, this one is for you.  The thrill and the pace will surely shoot up your mind and will make you crave for some more.

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Kill Me, Heal Me (Jan 2015 – Mar 2015)

GENRES:  Romance, Comedy

The complexity of the multiple personality disorder fused with the fated but hindered romance of the main couple has made me ruminative deducting the precepts of the story premise of this smartly and quirkily written korean drama.  I knew it was all about trauma and I was happy that there was no extreme sacrificial bordering to stupidity acts done by the main leads in avoiding their destined love.

Overall I like the ambitious writing of this drama.  It was meticulous in inserting the conflict of the story, although it came to a point when it became too detailed dragging the denouement which they could have used in a few romantic notes in the penultimate episodes of the story.

The sending off of Do Hyun’s characters warmed my heart especially that of Perry Park and Se Gi scenes.  I don’t know the extent of this psychiatric condition, but I liked that it was explained well how each characters emerged.  It was like Voldemort’s horcruxes in a positive way.  *chuckles  Typically kdramas with chaebol power struggle plot involved unreasonable conspiracies and surprises so I think since the multiple personality is the carrying story conflict, it was good that it didn’t dwell on the money-filled but problematic chaebol world.

Beautiful in its strongest points and faint weaknesses, this is a perfect drama that will leave you happy and intrigued.

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A Girl Who Sees Smells/Sensory Couple (April 2015 – May 2015)

GENRE:  Drama, Romance, Suspense, Supernatural

Welcome to the psychopath chase where gripping episode endings build up to a long stretch of sweet annoyance and anticipation to a quaintly written story where the characters boarded on a race to outwit each other and the cost of each wrong judgment equates to starting points of a never-ending labyrinth.

Escaping from the man who murdered her parents, Choi Eun Seol woke up losing her memory and was given another identity by the detective handling a famous serial killer case.  Choi Eun Seol became Oh Cho Rim and along with her new life is her ability to know the smell of people through her eyes.

It was that brilliantly executed plot of the protagonists’ taking advantage of the killer’s inability to remember faces and the latter’s resilience in orchestrating evil ploys that drew my appreciation all throughout.   There were no unnecessary hassles and side stories written to confuse or to lengthen the narration.  The plot was very clear on its premise and has always headed to the direction of uncovering clues without making the protagonists appear dumb.  It sailed to a direction of making the viewers go along with the process of pinning the vile psychopath to admit to his crime against the usual dragging guess-the-killer story. 

The mushy sweetness here and there, the steady writing, the oneness of the cast and the deviation from the usual kdrama plot stereotypes had me resurrected from my gym induced hiatus to break my kdrama/movie review dry spell.  It is a buoyant romcom drama served with a balanced mixture of thrill, comic kicks and romance that I would highly recommend for when you plan a kdrama getaway.

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Producers (May 2015 – June 2015)

GENRE:  Drama, Comedy, Friendship, Romance

The mixture of the inside production world of variety shows and the characters’ stories were nicely blended but it was the diversity and chemistry of the characters pierced my kdramaaddict heart.

For people expecting Kim Soo Hyun being captured in romantic moments, you won’t expect it in this drama so be prepared.  Nevertheless I think for legit kdrama followers you will get what you bargain for in this drama.  It’s how we root for Alice in Wonderland and love seeking Disney princesses all at the same time.  “Producers” came up in a very interesting format incorporating the variety show world in a drama attack.  To achieve that you have to even out the laughter you get from the variety show and the valuable content you should give to the audience.

And I immensely enjoyed the lessons focused in every episode which were derived from the variety program production world.  It gave meaningful life lessons and pointed out the challenges and limitations of human nature.  When joined together the four main leads were a delightful watch, even in their personal struggles.

Seung Chan is a reminder of any person who was trying to find his niche in the corporate scene regardless if the motivation is absurd, like in his case to follow his first love.  He is a reminder of the extent on how much we can persevere and how trying a shot on everything is better than being coward to take a chance on it.  Ye Jin is a reminder of how even a person with the coldest exterior has a warm spot hidden in her.  Of a person who would be patiently waiting for the love she yearned for than waste her time to nonsense.  Joon Mo is a reflection of those times when we built our character through standing firm with our principles and defying the norms for change to happen.  Cindy represented each one of us in our highest peak, when we hit a slump, and when we bounce back from it.

As I religiously watch 2D1N, I easily grasped the intentions and love the executions all throughout.  True, I might have wished for more love screentime but it superbly fed me stories that I have been on at some point of my life.  The engrossing 12 episodes will leave you lessons that basic self-help books have already vaguely discussed.  A breather from rom-com and melodramas, Producers will strip any work related stress you are having if you give it a chance.

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Beloved Eun Dong (May 2015 – July 2015)

GENRES:  Romance, Melodrama

I haven’t completed my full review on this drama yet, but this is one of my favorite romance stories for 2015.  I love how the narrative approached me like I was sent back to when I was in High School reading those first love stories that made my heart giddy-ish and warm.  

“Beloved Eun Dong” chronicled the love tale between a top actor who found the only girl he loved in his life when she took a job as a ghost writer for the book he wanted to publish in search of his one great love.  He learned that Eun Dong lost her memory and was already married with a child to a former baseball player who met an accident and was saddled in a wheelchair.   While writing Hyun Soo’s story, flashes of familiarity and memories hit Eun Dong and eventually triggered her memory back.  But claiming the love that was deprived of them by her adopted father and husband was no easy task as they faced the controversy of Eun Dong being married legally.  To make the matter worse, Eun Dong revealed that her son is Hyun Soo’s, but his son is already attached to the father he was with while growing up.

Divided in 3 parts, Eun Dong and Hyun Soo’s story moved steady from that sweet young love to the complicated re-owning of the divested romance in a way where I was so affected by the enduring commitment of Hyun Soo to love only one woman in his life.  I have never seen someone like him in kdramaland.  I mean most of the boys surely did love their girls the best way they can, but his story with her left my heart on a painful twinge.  Having a villain that was wheelchair bound and acted selfish because of love has had me on a dilemma if I will hate or understand his pain.

This drama will remind you of your greatest love and will prove to you how love is meant to be when you work for it to happen.

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Mask (May 2015 – July 2015)

GENRES:  Melodrama, Romance, Revenge

For once I got to see a melodrama with a rich family cast not going all war with excessive evil plots to claim the rein of a company, but doing it within the members as what I perceived the rich and famous should have done in reality.  “Mask” having dysfunctional characters will entice you by how much it deconstructed the main leads’ motivations, frailties and hair-pulling moments on what they are willing to give because of greed, vengeance and sacrificial love.
Swerving from the musty weep fest trademark of melodrama, “Mask” raised its fight club banner through lies, devious plots, and ruthless counter attacks for reasons of being blindly in love and the thirst to achieve a payback.

We have a solid cast who rose up to the occasion and gave meaningful portrayals to the very best of the wicked side and better versions of their characters.  What drew me most about “Mask” is the impeccable showing of the four main leads linked by painful love, betrayal and blood ties.  The supporting leads’ love story though not hitting a poignant and meaningful commitment in the end was messy and created a lingering impact of that definitive question on how much can someone go in the name of love.  I like how Ji Sook transitioned her image from a total push-over to a woman who knows her worth.  Her character as a focal point of the story pushed the problem in a coherent challenge where the surrounding people balanced out the struggle between the good and the evil.

I enjoyed the theatrics and the melodrama clichés because “Mask” in its entirety was not sporadically sketched and was focused to the penultimate closure.  I like it when dramas are overbearing because there’s an established premise to support it, and that was the case for “Mask”.  I got affected on the heavy scenes, but they did not overwhelm me with exhausting episode weep runs.

If you want a serious k-drama watch, then this will fill your craving.  The romance, the intrigue, the annoyance, the power plays were well-conceived and executed leaving a sense of fulfilment if you will sit on it for a binge.  I even prepared myself with some tissue rolls for the tear party because it was Su Ae and Joo Ji Hoon, but I was put at the edge of my seat because I was cheering earnestly for Ji Sook and how she found her niche and defied her old self to emancipate herself in the villain’s grip and be with the man she loved without secrets and lies.

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Oh My Ghost (July 2015 – August 2015)

GENRES:  Romance, Comedy, Supernatural

Bright, Cheerful and Feel Good have always been the after effect of an episode dose of Oh My Ghostess for me.  Supernatural plot is a make or break deal in kdramas.  It needs to be flaunting when the plot needs it, and it needs to see reasons when you over expose it.

I like the richness of the father-daughter filial love in the story as it literally transcended the after life.  I like how cheeky and sweet Sun Woo was at the same time, his reactions were adorable.  I like how Park Bo Young was able to differentiate Na Bong Sun and Shin Soon Ae’s characters to fit in with the way the actual Soon Ae was playing in the story.  I like how the rom-com elements fused well with the metaphysical plot of the story by  making the love leads face their issues straight on and seeing the reasons right away.  Every main character in this drama has his own story that the love line was not the main thing that got me hooked with it.  It was how each character’s story along with the conflicts that entwined them brought the love story closer and concluded the conflicts neatly.

It was the most consistent romantic-comedy for 2015, yes even with the slight tragic plot.  The chemistry of the love couple was impeccable that all the followers of this drama would agree how Bong Sun and  Sun Woo made our heart fluttered with their bipolar-disorder-misguided-romance.  It’s hard not to drum your feet on your bed and grin when Sun Woo went to his usual i’m-the-man antics and Bong Sun’s pesky man cravings guided by Soon Ae.

If you are needing a love elixir to boost your already blooming relationship of if you just want a perfect rom-com drama getaway, this one is for you.

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Yong Pal (Aug 2015 – Oct 2015)

GENRES:  Drama, Romance, Suspense, Medical

Quick-paced and great on cliff-hangers, Yong Pal was almost perfect but it faintly lost balance on its finishing kick.

Yong Pal enticed me with its exciting premise of a Prince charming doctor who saved an heiress in distress medically forced to be on coma by her half-brother who wanted the helm of the big company her father left for her.

Conspiracies and power struggles are fundamental elements necessary to build up a strong melodrama. The heroine has had her fair share of defiance and strength which made her an interesting character. She had a superb interaction with the lead man though I would have wanted some more sweet moments for them after all the predicaments they had. The hero was oh so cool on the onset of the story but his sparkle diminished after the second half when the story’s focus shifted on Yeo Jin. True, he was instrumental all throughout but there were moments when the heroine overshadowed him which I found weird because the drama was titled after him so I was expecting that Yeo Jin’s story is secondary only to his.

I think the conclusion was a useless do-over of the main conflict. It should have ended when she ascended to her position and had all the villains get their sad endings. But the over extension with the same scenario of her being destroyed and by something related to medicine again was a useless move. She already had her redemption so it would have been nice to see her and Tae Hyun just enjoying an uncomplicated life which they both yearned to have.

As a whole I still like the story because it maneuvered with rising excitement as the drama unfolds. It also stuck in the power struggle conflict and the protagonists and villains moved well to the direction of annoying and outwitting each other. The characters were less frills and full of grit. The narrative was simple and yet rich with emotions. Feisty and flowing, all that was missing was a fitting ending.

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She Was Pretty (Sept 2015 – Nov 2015)

GENRES:  Romance, Comedy

I would consider two themes evident for 2015 in kdramaland… friendship-turned-romance and redeeming-a-woman’s-old-glow.   These two were present in the recently concluded love tale of childhood friends turned sweethearts who lost contact for a long while and met again at different expectations and fears more than 20 years after.

“She Was Pretty” was your typical rom-com drama tailored to make you feel giddy and warm. It will excite you while the story unfolds but it’s not something that you will keep dearly in your heart like the rom-com classics.  The characters were all amusing in their own right, but I gave Choi Si Won, the biggest applause among the cast for his perfect rendering of the quirky second male lead character. While Park Seo Joon is beautiful and Hwang Jung Eum is at her usual best although with slight hyperactivity, they were able to present a love couple you will root for.

The conflict’s lightness was an affirmative note in the story as it worked on the characters’ connection and sticking on their rational thinking come what may. I felt a bit of annoyance toward Ha Ri, but she beautifully redeemed herself by confronting Hye Jin to stop shielding her from the pain and accept the happiness that she deserved.  Neatly narrated, the always encouraging vibe of the heroine carried on sincere lessons about how much pain and understanding you can give to salvage a friendship that is more than a family and how much we have to give it to ourselves the limitless opportunities and love that fate won’t give us right away. Hye Jin just like our usual rom-com lead girls pursued love and dreams the best way she can by not sacrificing the happiness that she can create on her own. With her perfect hero who wanted to support her all the way with her personal bucket list, I witnessed a romance that is soon fading in our generation that is being supportive to our lover’s personal goals while maintaining a relationship dependent to a genuine love and unwavering commitment.

Next to chocolates, honeyed and heart-warming kdrama romcoms can help you survive melancholia and routine weekends. Uncomplicated with its romantic approach, Hye Jin and Sung Joon’s love story will surely hit your love veins.

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Bubblegum (Oct 2015 – Dec 2015)

GENRE:  Drama, Romance, Comedy, Family

I think out of all friendship-turned-romance dramas this year, Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah’s story in Bubblegum is perfect for 30-ish working people who struggled and are struggling to keep up on the sad truth that dealing with a broken heart and learning to accept a new love have different approaches as you age along.   It was such an enamoring narrative that drew strength from the free spirited and natural on screen connection of the lead couple.

It is sadly evident that the conflicts raised in the story were not tied up neatly. It was like probably hoping that Lee Dong Wook princey face can fade away the misses of the drama. It came very strong with how the characters communicated intrepidly and genuinely but fell short because of the wayward movement of the story.  It was a case where the beautiful characters were not justified by a well written fiction.

Although it got derailed on the closing episodes and the mom-doesn’t-want-us-to-be-together was misplaced and later on forgotten, I have enjoyed the heartfelt confrontations, the peaceful conversations and the life and love realizations. It was a consoling chronicle until the mom-got-Alzheimer’s plot, and less that annoying cliché, it would have been a perfect melodrama as a whole.  It did end up warm and happy for the love birds but the writing was not polished. It was ardent but somehow all over the place. If not for the unfeigned portrayals of the lead couple, I would have given up on it. But because it had me hooked on fast to cheer for the literal written on the stars love for Haeng Ah and Ri Hwan and the blossoming of the romance from the friendship tested through time, I sent them off with a smile on my face. Bubblegum is not a solid offering but it will keep you calm and comforted.

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Because it’s the first time (OCt 2015 – Nov 2015)

GENRES:  Romance, Comedy, Youth, Drama

Everything about this drama screams about the kind of friendship, worries and love confusions we had in our early 20’s.  The story was narrated unadorned but the characters were limned delightfully.

Tae Oh, Song Yi, Ji Ahn, Ga In and Hoon are five childhood friends who have relied to each another while battling the challenges of braving the world where they are expected  to face failures  and not warranted to give up on it.   The age when they have the freedom not to rationalize loving someone, but are restricted to chase their personal dreams because they either doubt themselves or they are forced to go against their will by their families. 

These hinged friends experienced life cruelties from their own families and unfortunate events, but they have managed  to shelter one another and gave strength to overcome their battles.  The story moved in presenting their usual bickerings and fun times and hit the conflict of Tae Oh finally waking up to the truth that he loved his girl best friend even when he finally got his dream girl.  No spices.  No heaviness.  Just culminating to the main lead’s decision to let go of his one sided first love. 

Yes I wish it would have been longer but given the simplicity of the  plot, it wouldn’t give a justified stretch.  It was a nice watch while you are on it, but won’t leave a lingering impact after. But if you want a short, feel-good 20’s drama that you can finish in one sitting on a weekend or when u want to feel distracted, “Because It’s The First Time” would serve the purpose of entertaining you.  Sweet and upbeat… I’m sure this friendship story will make you remember those blithe days of being wild, young and free.

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Oh My Venus (Nov 2015 – Jan 2015)

GENRE:  Romance, Comedy

Forget the grueling gym workout, home yoga sessions and sadness inducing diet plans… Just allot 2 hours in 2 days watching Oh My Venus and you will miraculously lose 10 lbs in 2 weeks. It’s true. No hidden agendas, no diet pills, and no aggravating body pains. Sign up for a 14-day trial period at Coach John Kim’s Venus boot camp and see for yourself what the rest of the women who tried the program have been talking about. *chuckles  Seriously now, if they want a solution to the alarming woes of women struggling to keep up with their weight, they should hire So Ji Sub oppa to be their personal trainer and the world will be a better place. *giggles

Oh My Venus went to the typical Korean drama rom-com milieu of a rich heir who fell in love with a normal girl but with a fitness program twist. Kang Joo Eun was a feisty Korean lawyer with a steady long-time boyfriend. She was living a calm life and the only concern she has was her weight loss struggle.  She used to be the high school boys’ dream in her hometown Daegu, but life’s complications took over and she failed maintaining her goddess self. She eventually lost her boyfriend to an old chubby law school friend who managed to discard her old fat self.

But seriously, I already outgrew the over-used rich guy-normal girl love story setting, but for the lightness and the girly-drooling moments, I would forgive the shallow conflict of this drama. Oh well and because anything is forgivable with So Ji Sub oppa in it.  But it would have been nice if they push it to Joo Eun’s initial dream to recover her old Venus self. Putting that Young Ho’s family’s company problem conflict was a bit awkward for the plot. It was not fitting.  Since they presented Young Ho’s broken self, I think they should have followed that lead.  There’s a lot of emotional struggles for couples in their 30’s because most tend to not unpack their baggages so they could have circled in their plot.  They could have lengthened Joo Eun’s rally to win Young Ho’s rich family to make the drama even more sassier and feel good.  But anyway, I got what I bargained for, if not for Joo Eun and Young Ho’s chemistry I would have really pouted.

I want to commend on the show’s drive to encourage women with weight worries to lighten up and push themselves to be even more disciplined in following their fitness programs as it would be a propelling force to reclaim their confidence and to live a robust life.  If you can get a supportive partner/boyfriend with that then you are definitely on the right track.  With ample cutesy love scenes and charming on screen adorable couple, this rom-com offering will wear out a week’s work stress. If you want an uncomplicated blithe and feel good love drama, this will definitely satisfy your craving. Add So Ji Sub on the side, and boy it’s definitely a winner all throughout.

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Reply 1988 (Nov 2015 – Jan 2015)

GENRES:  Romance, Comedy, Family, Friendship

They say that as you age along, you get more sentimental as you look back on what has happened in your life. Sitting on this neighborhood drama set between 1988 – 1995 made me reminisce the good old days of endearing family love and friendship full of memories and laughter. “Answer me 1988” pays homage to the irreplaceable bliss of being young – of our young dreams and our young love. It gives you a trip to memory lane when technology hasn’t taken over the world yet— when friends meet up at a house to watch movies, to eat and to chat and when romance comes true by heartfelt love declarations, stolen kisses and warm hugs.  Hands down to the extent of the research and the meticulously vibrant writing that were fused together to bring up a chronicle that warms the heart and lingers in one’s mind. The setting, side stories and the cast ensemble will make the viewers feel like stepping to a time-warping machine and bringing out the best memories we could ever have in our lives.

One of the many things I loved in this show was the genuine on-screen bond of the cast giving life in the best possible imagination of the sketched characters in the story. There was no passerby among the cast. All have contributed to an almost perfect depiction of how uncomplicated life then. With neighbors living up to become a functioning support group with their fellow parents whose dreams were mainly directed to the well-being of their children and of children who were pressured to chase their dreams so as to make their parents proud. That is definitely not the case today with the internet controlling human interaction. People will choose to just browse on the superficial social media status of their family and friends than to take time to catch up with them in person.  Another wonderful feature evident to all Reply-dramas would be the building up of the romance which has been fixed in presenting a love triangle and would always break the viewers’ hearts as they want both guys to get the same girl they were chasing. I was Team Taek-i all throughout. Who wouldn’t fall for Taek-i’s puppy face? I just really go for cute nerds who are clueless in life but advances strong when the situation required them to go for their one great love and Taek-i rose to the occasion by waiting for the right time and seizing the moment without looking back. Jung–hwan had his fair share of sweet moments capping up with that heartbreaking love proposal practice which Duk-seon never realized to be what really was in Jung Hwan’s heart.

But the one great love lesson learned from JungHwan-Dukseon-Taek love triangle is to not blame timing or fate for your one great love to happen. Taek-i braved the odds and defied a 20 year friendship and sealed every love he had for Dukseon in a heart-stopping kiss because he wanted to know right at that moment if there is just not a chance but if love was really there for both of them. It’s not just knowing that love is there, it is being in absolute certainty that both of you feel the same way.  I only have the very best things to say for the neighborhood I grew fond watching, for the childhood buddies who defined lifetime friendship and for the sincere love that bloomed from the purest friendship and memories.  Reply 1988 was a great spectacle to seal K-drama parade of 2015 and I can only hope that the writer won’t get tired of delving on nostalgic premise like this.

Reply 1988 is on my top 3 dramas for 2015 because of its brilliant use of sweet melancholia and sending the followers back to their very own youth, like it did to me. It made me want to pay a short visit to the street I grew up with and reminisce the times when I hang out with my childhood friends to play traditional local games. It made me glad that most of my precious memories were not digitally induced as is the case of the youth nowadays. And it reminded me to still go for the purest romance I can ever have that won’t make use much of the world- wide web and social media.  The ever present humor, the love stories and the amazing neighborhood are surely a quick relief for life stress. Reply 1988 is a strip of mementos any person with a euphoric youth can relate to. I strongly vouch for this drama if you have a weekend to spare.

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The faces we put on when we love someone

 

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For once I got to see a melodrama with a rich family cast not going all war with excessive evil plots to claim the rein of a company, but doing it within the members as what I perceived the rich and famous should have done in reality.  “Mask” having dysfunctional characters will entice you by how much it deconstructed the main leads’ motivations, frailties and hair-pulling moments on what they are willing to give because of greed, vengeance and sacrificial love.
Swerving from the musty weep fest trademark of melodrama, “Mask” raised its fight club banner through lies, devious plots, and ruthless counter attacks for reasons of being blindly in love and the thirst to achieve a payback.

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The story evolved around a family who accepted a new daughter-in-law (Byun Ji Sook) to strengthen their wealth with her government connection through her politician father not knowing that she was hired by the son-in-law (Min Seok Hoon) when his ex-lover, (Seo Eun Ha) died in an accident.  In a freak coincidence Ji Sook happened to be a doppelganger of Eun Ha whose fate was the exact opposite of the latter’s grandiose elite life.  Seok Hoon offered Ji Sook to play on the con to marry Min Woo and guided her intently on her cover.  But soon enough she developed pure feelings toward Min Woo and worked on reversing her life that has been mostly controlled by other people and her misfortunes.

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We have a solid cast who rose up to the occasion and gave meaningful portrayals to the very best of the wicked side and better versions of their characters.  What drew me most about “Mask” is the impeccable showing of the four main leads linked by painful love, betrayal and blood ties.  The supporting leads’ love story though not hitting a poignant and meaningful commitment in the end was messy and created a lingering impact of that definitive question on how much can someone go in the name of love.  I like how Ji Sook transitioned her image from a total push-over to a woman who knows her worth.  Her character as a focal point of the story pushed the problem in a coherent challenge where the surrounding people balanced out the struggle between the good and the evil.

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I enjoyed the theatrics and the melodrama clichés because “Mask” in its entirety was not sporadically sketched and was focused to the penultimate closure.  I like it when dramas are overbearing because there’s an established premise to support it, and that was the case for “Mask”.  I got affected on the heavy scenes, but they did not overwhelm me with exhausting episode weep runs.

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If you want a serious kdrama watch, then this will fill your craving.  The romance, the intrigue, the annoyance, the power plays were well-conceived and executed leaving a sense of fulfilment if you will sit on it for a binge.  I even prepared myself with some tissue rolls for the tear party because it was Su Ae and Joo Ji Hoon, but I was put at the edge of my seat because I was cheering earnestly for Ji Sook and how she found her niche and defied her old self to emancipate herself in the villain’s grip and be with the man she loved without secrets and lies.

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A Son’s Worth Remembering Love

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Because I’m totally smitten by Yoo Seung Ho’s smiling eyes and out of fear that Nam Kyung Man’s veins might pop if he throws a fit, I would give a positive write up on this heart-breaking and stirring drama.   *chuckles

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Remember:  War of the Son came strong to my attention once it hit the TV waves.  It was heading in a thrilling direction where revenge is the premise and where the characters can’t trust one another.  The story was backed up with superb character portrayals out shadowing some of the lengthening kicks I did not see in “Punch”.  Yeah I believe “Punch” will now be my yardstick for kdramas in this kind of tone.  Nevertheless the heartfelt please-save-my-father plot was more than  enough to spin the story of a son’s promise to uphold the truth and clear the name of his father who was victimized by an abusive powerful family.

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Having an eidetic memory, Seo Jin Woo lived happily and peacefully with his loving father until his father was framed to murdering a daughter of a family friend who was brutally killed by Nam Kyung Man, a rich man’s son with extreme anger management issues.  Jin Woo sought help from a cheeky lawyer, Park Dong Ho, with outstanding track record.  He was denied initially, but Dong Ho saw himself in Jin Woo when he was young and helpless and not being able to help his deceased father so he agreed to take on the hot case.  Things were looking favorable through Dong Ho’s skilled defense but the affluent family utilized their money to pin Jin Woo’s father to the crime he did not commit and was convicted of murder.

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Years after, Jin Woo emerged as a young accomplished lawyer determined to open a retrial for his father whose Alzheimer’s disease can’t even make him remember his own son.  Jin Woo was also reunited to the only person who stood by his side when his father was first having his trial — Lee In Ah.  She eventually became a public prosecutor who is frequently restricted with  her investigations by the cunning Prosecutor Chief Hong Moo Suk who was in charge of covering all the evil doings of Nam family alongside Dong Ho who was left no choice but to serve the family out of  brotherly bond he shared with thug leader Joo Il.  But the attempt to free Jin Woo’s father failed and his father sadly died as his medical condition progressed exponentially because no treatment was received in prison.

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Jin Woo and In Ah worked together to uncover all of Nam Kyung Man’s wickedness as Dong Ho learned the truth that his father died because of Nam Kyung Man’s father.  The path to expose and corner the vile father and son was  not easy as they can change the judge and even  prosecutors at their whim or use violence for extra measures.  But persevering Jin Woo and his allies worked patiently to prove that no one is above the law and securing the definitive evidence paved the point of no return for the villains. 

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Unfortunately Jin Woo acquired the same disease his father had, but  his deteriorating health did not stop him from fulfilling his vow to validate his father’s innocence and to stop influential families misusing their power.  Justice was eventually served on the third and final attempt making Kyung Man sentenced to death as their family’s wealth broke down to pieces.  In Ah offered her pure love to be with Jin Woo, but he chose to leave the people who cared about him when he finally lost his memory.

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I was actually praying for warranted kdrama miracle out of the hardships Jin Woo took, but they ended it on a sad note.  I  don’t know if they were implying that revenge at the end of the day does not matter, but I was hoping some magical or experimental treatment to save Jin Woo’s memory.  But at the end of it all it dawned on me that the story is really about a son’s  unconditional devotion to his father.  So throwing  a romantic ever-after twist really don’t fit in the journey of the lead character.

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The main villain was also amazingly good and insanely  annoying all  throughout.  His role placed the story in an equilibrium state until Jin Woo’s final sure kill surge.  Hands down to the actor who delivered a spoiled rich antagonist who was half-crazy, half-impossible and most of the time disgusting.

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The supporting cast were also in full swing dishing out memorable characters that made this court-room drama thrilling. 

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The entire drama as a whole was intoxicating but it lacked polished episode closings that would have made me at the verge of my seat anticipating.  It came very strong in limiting the protagonists goal to secure the upper hand in the battle by tampering their movements, and on that note, it was a little weak presenting lets-outwit-each-other showdowns.

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If you miss Yoo Seung Ho and want a no-nonsense but with a brave heart type of court-room drama, this one is definitely for you.  -jediprincess

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A Dying Man’s Dangerous Punch! (Punch KDrama Series Review)

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Awed and at the edge of my seat every episode’s finishing kick, I can’t help but wondered how brilliant the writer of this story by bringing out a drama where heroes and villains don’t waste time outmanipulating each other to secure the highest possible position befitting to their greed and wickedness.  With a dying man as a lead hero in charge to intellectually brawl with his superiors in the Prosecutor’s office, the stake was always at the highest as the people involved raced to protect their families, reputations and personal ambitions.

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Punch is a badass with its intelligent writing.  It was full of surprises that will make the viewers grab their hair out of frustration.  I wondered how much hate the writer might have stored in himself to motivate him to write a chronicle that was able to maintain a level of grit all throughout the depiction of the corrupt Korean Prosecutors’ Office.

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The characters centered to high ranking officers of the Prosecution’s office who were able to propel an amazing cast ensembles that will take your wit all the way to Milky Way.  It was a nerve wrecking display of shrewdness played equally well by all the characters who were in the running to claim the most vilest of ’em all crown.

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At some point, I was already exhausted on how the writer can’t seem to just put every trick he has in his sleeve in one go, as he kept bouncing up my brain left and right that I was left with no choice but to worry about Park Jung Hwan.  Park Jung Hwan who I believed deserved to share the best kdrama character for me in 2015.  I’m sorry Healer, I liked you but I like him also and I can never go wrong with an insanely smart guy.

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I ruminated on why the drama was titled Punch.  After finishing the series, it made sense owing to every episode of combat spectacle in cleverness and wiliness .  Punch is a story of a dying prosecutor who is on a quest to clean up the corrupt high officials of the office he belongs to.  His strategic thinking defied the power his superiors used when he was on a spree to reveal their evil doings.  It was a hard and frustrating battle but he managed to expose the truth before his passing.

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What viewers would love about Park Jung Hwan is his ability to bounce back from the oppression even with nothing on his hand to fight off the huge power and walls his superiors built to hinder his outrage.  It’s your classic underdog story but very well polished in a Mafia grit kind of way.  They made phonecalls, afternoon tea and eating jajangmyun so thrilling in my eyes.  hahaha

The antagonists displayed impossible levels of wickedness that even when they got what they deserved at the closing chapter I was still fuming and wishing they suffer a bit more.

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There’s no fleeting romantic interlude in this drama but it is filled with family love and lessons about choosing the right decisions in your lives. 

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I will definitely pick “Punch” as the best 2015 KDrama story-wise for its remarkable writing and heartfelt character portrayals.  If you want a dose of serious themed dramas, this one is for you.  The thrill and the pace will surely blow your mind away and will make you crave for some more.  -jediprincess

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The love that was there all along (Bubblegum Kdrama Review)

 

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I think out of all friendship-turned-romance dramas this year, Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah’s story in Bubblegum is perfect for 30-ish working people who struggled and are struggling to keep up on the sad truth that dealing with a broken heart and learning to accept a new love have different approaches as you age along.   It was such an enamoring narrative that drew strength from the free spirited and natural on screen connection of the lead couple.

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Brought by their parents’ friendship, Haeng Ah and Ri Hwan grew up to be childhood best friends who always rely to one another. Haeng Ah’s mother died early as Ri Hwan grew up not knowing who his father was. His mother, a former daughter of a rich household left her family to raise her son alone, and with the help of Haeng Ah’s father who ran a restaurant she has managed to finish her residency in the hospital by leaving him in Haeng Ah’s father’s care. Unfortunately Haeng Ah’s father passed away early too and so she was taken to stay with a distant aunt. Her uncle came to rescue and asked Ri Hwan’s mother to let her stay in their house while he provides financial support for her. Haeng Ah was taken in but has always been careful in the presence of Ri Hwan’s mother who has mixed treatment towards her because she reminded her of her father whom she used to love.  

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Working as a Radio PD, Haeng Ah got involved in a cold relationship to a Senior/high-ranking officer in the radio station. Though she has loved the man deeply, she got tired of not being able to hit his priorities. When Ri Hwan learned about her new love misfortune, he did everything in his power to help her moved on, and in the process realized that his brotherly love has progressed to a romantic one. Haeng Ah who has learned early that she cannot date Ri Hwan because his mother will not agree to it mustered the right reasons and denied Ri Hwan’s love declaration but soon enough faltered and accepted the love that should have been hers all along. Ri Hwan who was set up to date a chaebol family daughter politely declined the one sided love and also chose to be with the love he had not realized to be there all along. When Ri Hwan’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the couple battled the odds and was initially defeated when Ri Hwan was left with no choice but to give up on Haeng Ah thinking of a future she will have with him if his mother’s disease will be passed on to him. Persistent Haeng Ah refused to be despondent and dauntlessly worked on making Ri Hwan realized that he has nowhere else to go but in her arms. In the end, they both chose to be happy and got back together while taking care and building memories with Ri Hwan’s sick mother.

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It is sadly evident that the conflicts raised in the story were not tied up neatly. It was like probably hoping that Lee Dong Wook princey face can fade away the misses of the drama. It came very strong with how the characters communicated intrepidly and genuinely but fell short because of the wayward movement of the story.  It was a case where the beautiful characters were not justified by a well written fiction.

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Although it got derailed on the closing episodes and the mom-doesn’t-want-us-to-be-together was misplaced and later on forgotten, I have enjoyed the heartfelt confrontations, the peaceful conversations and the life and love realizations. It was a consoling chronicle until the mom-got-Alzheimer’s plot, and less that annoying cliché, it would have been a perfect melodrama as a whole.  It did end up warm and happy for the love birds but the writing was not polished. It was ardent but somehow all over the place. If not for the unfeigned portrayals of the lead couple, I would have given up on it. But because it had me hooked on fast to cheer for the literal written on the stars love for Haeng Ah and Ri Hwan and the blossoming of the romance from the friendship tested through time, I sent them off with a smile on my face. Bubblegum is not a solid offering but it will keep you calm and comforted. -jediprincess ♥♥♥

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KDramaLand This Week: October 1st Week

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This will be my first entry for this project.  I aim for a brief recap only for kdrama series I follow, as time won’t permit me for long reviews.  Work still comes first before my kdrama addiction I guess.  I pick dramas to stay with based on first impressions, casting of the drama and the previous works of the production team.   Hope I will endure this project.  *chuckles -jediprincess

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She was Pretty (Ep 7&8)
Aww I finally got hooked in this.  We see Ha Ri’s selfish love digging on her bestfriend’s first love without the latter knowing it.  Just as Sung Joon recognized a strange fondness he was feeling for the real Hye-Jin, copycat Hye Jin/Ha Ri spoiled the moment by kissing him.  Sung Joon pressured from the magazine deadline went overboard and fired Hye Jin from a mistake she didn’t do.  Sung Joon tried to offer the job back after contemplating on his on-the-job-stress-rage but Hye Jin politely declined.  I hope the last minute preview is not a dream thread.   ^_^

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Six Flying Dragons (Ep 1&2)
Hello Yoo Ah In in gorgeous mane.  The series kick off episodes introduced us to young Yi Bang Won, a son of Yi Seong Gye who will later become King Taejo.  In the waning era of Goryeo, General Yi Seong Gye was summoned back to the palace with his sons to be of help in the rotten government, but his painful past with a former friend had his hands tied by the evil villain and Prime Minister Lee In Gyeom who used Seong Gye’s weakness to bow down to his command.  Yi Bang Won witnessed the powerlessness of his father that when he helped out a friend whose brother was held captive, he made a bargain to Jong Do Jeon who promised him a resolution to end the war and to take down Lee In Gyeom.  Jeong Do Jeon a brave and skilled politician proceeded with a plot to prevent war by staging a protest in the presence of the Yuan envoy administrative officers and the ministers of Goryeo government.  Such courage he shown that the people and students watching were moved and gave their bodies to protect him when the Prime Minister ordered for his capture.
Six Flying Dragon premiere was very promising so I can’t help but dig history articles again to supplement my limited Korean history knowledge.

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Twenty Again (Ep 11&12)
Ha No Ra is slowly becoming assertive and has bravely asked Kim Woo Chul to formalize the divorce.  She also confronted her husband’s woman. Cha Hyun Seok finally learned about the divorce as No Ra is starting to see Hyun Seok at a different light.  Finally Cha Hyun Seok revealed to Ha No Ra that she is his first love.

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Sassy Go Go (Ep 1&2)
This is another youth story about two high school student groups.  The first group composed of the last ranking students who teamed up and formed a dance club while the other group of students were the rich-kids-grade conscious students who study hard for their college dreams.  They got entangled after hitting back on each other during hours of practices by the dimwitted dancers and hours of study for the smarties and because of their leaders who went digitally viral because of an almost kiss captured by the villain who was desperate to get to an Ivy League school.  The premiere episodes establish Kang Yeon Doo as the leader of the dimwit-dancers’ s club – Real King and Kim Yeol as the top student and member of the elite smarties of the school – Baek Ho.  The villain Soo Ah played the part of a lady from a rich family constantly pressured by her mother to study even harder and get a Harvard education.  The principal decided to have the groups combined to participate in a cheerleading competition and pitched Real King’s revival on the line if they will win.  Quick-witted Kim Yeol saw through the principal’s action as a way of helping Soo Ah who needed activities for her Harvard university application.  Yeon Doo who used to be friends with Soo Ah learned the former’s true colors and that she perpetrated the almost kiss report.  She vowed she won’t be used by her again.  After participating in a dance contest, Yeon Doo’s dance group friends slowly leave the group because of the pressure put up by the school.  Meanwhile Kim Yeol’s best friend attempted suicide again because of depression from an abusive father and the cunning principal used it to make Kim Yeol participate in the cheering competition.  Kim Yeol asked Yeon Doo to join but she faced him bravely and said no.  Boy the lead guy will really remind you of your high school crush.  So far it is living up to its drama title.

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Because it’s the first time (Ep 1)
I have a very good feeling on this drama maybe because I like friendship circle stories.  The premiere episode introduced us to a neighborhood friends in their 20’s and their lives.  We also see a glint of love triangle on the side.  So far it’s the story of Yoon Tae O who is eager to date a nice girl to shrug of his first love emotions with his childhood bestfriend Han Song Yi.  Song Yi has been saddled with her family’s financial problems and the recent vanishing act of her mom.  She secretly likes Seo Ji An another boy in their friendship group.  I kinda like the premise of this drama maybe because we can all relate to belonging to a friendship circle.  I’m looking forward to how the story will move.

See you next week! -jediprincess

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The Doctor who Kissed the Sleeping Heiress

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Quick-paced and great on cliff-hangers, Yong Pal was almost perfect but it faintly lost balance on its finishing kick.

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Yong Pal enticed me with its exciting premise of a Prince charming doctor who saved an heiress in distress medically forced to be on coma by her half-brother who wanted the helm of the big company her father left for her.

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In order to raise money for the expenses of his sickly sister, Kim Tae Hyun was drowning in debts trying to pay a loan shark through administering discreet surgeries and treatment to gang syndicate members almost caught up by the police. He’s a part-time on-call criminal doctor and was also serving his residency at a big hospital where he is well-known to have the hands of surgery god.

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Through his quaint skills, he was promoted to work on the hospital’s 12th floor where the VIP’s are confined and was also set to do house calls for sensitive medical procedures. There Tae Hyun chanced upon the heiress, Han Yeo Jin, that was put to sleep by her evil older brother and when she woke up momentarily, she offered him a solution to his sister’s medical expenses if he will help her escape her situation.

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Pressured from the board members who were questioning the overstaying of the legal company CEO, Yeo Jin’s brother and acting chairman Do Min Joon ordered the doctors to shut down Yeo Jin completely. After careful planning with his trusted friends in the hospital, Tae Hyun managed to deceive everyone that Yeo Jin died after a surgery and had her assumed the identity of a Hanshin group employee the company took under custody to evade public scrutiny.

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Chairman Min Joon relayed the unfortunate death news of her sister and they were surprised when Yeo Jin revealed herself to her own funeral. Min Joon played the guardian card but Yeo Jin has set the back up well by asking Tae Hyun to marry her and be her legal heir and guardian. Min Joon was ousted and Yeo Jin took her throne finally.

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Conspiracies and power struggles are fundamental elements necessary to build up a strong melodrama. The heroine has had her fair share of defiance and strength which made her an interesting character. She had a superb interaction with the lead man though I would have wanted some more sweet moments for them after all the predicaments they had. The hero was oh so cool on the onset of the story but his sparkle diminished after the second half when the story’s focus shifted on Yeo Jin. True, he was instrumental all throughout but there were moments when the heroine overshadowed him which I found weird because the drama was titled after him so I was expecting that Yeo Jin’s story is secondary only to his.

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I think the conclusion was a useless do-over of the main conflict. It should have ended when she ascended to her position and had all the villains get their sad endings. But the over extension with the same scenario of her being destroyed and by something related to medicine again was a useless move. She already had her redemption so it would have been nice to see her and Tae Hyun just enjoying an uncomplicated life which they both yearned to have.

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As a whole I still like the story because it maneuvered with rising excitement as the drama unfolds. It also stuck in the power struggle conflict and the protagonists and villains moved well to the direction of annoying and outwitting each other. The characters were less frills and full of grit. The narrative was simple and yet rich with emotions. Feisty and flowing, all that was missing was a fitting ending. -jediprincess

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