Monthly Archives: May 2009

Entry to KPop World

This July would be my third year as a Kpop fan. I’m not exactly a super long time fan or anything, but it’s been almost 3 years since I did become a fan. I just wanted to journey back to the time when I first got into Kpop and all the firsts of Kpop.

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My first 3 dramas are still memorable to this day. Full House, my first, remains one of my favourites and one I still regularly look up and watch. Yes, it gets draggy around the middle. Yes, Bi’s fashion in the drama is mind-blowing in its ugliness. The drama’s got lots of boo factors, but it’s still one of the most hilarious, fun, and cutest. Song Hyekyo and Bi went on to become like huge superstars. This drama is a testament of their awesome chemistry together.

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My second and third! Goong and My Girl. Goong, I gotta say, lacks in so many aspects. Because the main actors were mostly green actors at the time, the drama was full of bad acting, to say the least. The 24 episodes didn’t help either, it was just way too long, thus the drama had a lot of long winded moments. The saving grace lied in the gorgeous visual and photography and chemistry between the leads. My Girl isn’t perfect either. But at least, the acting was still acceptable. It does drag a bit towards the end, but I think 16 episodes are appropriate. There are many scenes in the drama that are copied (sometimes blantantly) from the PD/Writer’s previous drama, Delightful Girl Choonhyang. But I have to admit that I have a soft spot for MG. I really love the pairing Lee Dongwook/Lee Dahae and even until now I still follow their news occasionally.

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My Sassy Girl is my first ever korean movie as I’m sure is the case with a million other people. It’s a hilarious movie to boot yet at the same time, it was melancholic and sad. There’s death (of course!), there’s love, there’s relationship. Even Hollywood took this movie as an inspiration and made an american version out of it, which yes, went straight to DVD, but still.

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Look at that adorable face! How can you not fall in love with him? Wait till you see his perfectly sculpted body. My first korean crush is Gong Yoo circa She’s On Duty, way way before his big break in Coffee Prince. I had no clue how to spell his name as I couldn’t read Hanggeul then. So I had to rely on the cover of that one borrowed, pirated DVD and googled him. I began watching more of his projects such as S-Diary, Spy Girl, My Tutor Friend, Biscuit Teacher, and of course Coffee Prince. Heck, I even suffered through a few episodes of the semi-incest drama, One Fine Day (really atrocious drama ) before removing myself out of that misery.

My first korean music, I honestly cannot remember. I was always dabbling in dramas or movies so my musical exposure tend to be from the soundtracks. If the drama has nice music, I would try to look them up, but nothing more than that. I think the first time I took an interest in the singer themselves was either Bi’s 4th album or SG Wannabe’s 3rd album. It wasn’t until a year later when I got into Shinhwa that I began listening to more KPop.

So anyway, those are some of the firsts of my introduction into korean entertainment. As much as people say Full House is overrated or that Kpop are trashy stuff, you gotta admit that these things DO contribute to the increasing popularity of Hallyu. Whether you like it or not.

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Guilty Pleasure: It’s You!

I am admitting my sin. My very current guilty pleasure is Super Junior’s It’s You (Neorago).

So I was doing my assignment on a beautiful Thursday afternoon when my dearly beloved friend, Ms. S shoved me her Ipod and showed me It’s You video clip. I didn’t intend to like it or anything since I never saw SJ in a particularly favourable light. But I watched it till the end and I loved it. The song has been stuck in my head ever since.

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I don’t know SJ well enough to make any sort of judgement actually. The reason I never touched SJ before is because the few perfomances I saw of them were, well, complete crap. But that was sometime ago, I guess. I have to admit that their 3rd album (which yes, sits in my mp3 player) is pretty okay. Sorry Sorry, the song, was very catchy, and the dance moves were actually interesting. Vocal wise, I don’t see anything special. But their songs are very easy listening and fun.

13 members. Let’s see if I can name them one by one. I’ve see Kangin in WGM. Eunhyuk and Leeteuk guested in WGM too. Heechul was the first member I knew from the days of watching Bad Family. Choi Siwon was in that drama with Seo Jihye. I’m loving Yesung right now. I’ve seen Hankyung in Yashimanman. I thought Shindong was really Kang Hodong’s brother. Okay, I’m starting to falter now. Umm, I know Kyuhyun is the magnae. I read that Kim Kibum gained weight. There’s also Sungmin. I thought Lee Donghae was cute in a show. Oh heck, who’s the last member?

Okay, whoever that last member, I’m sorry. His name escapes me at the moment.

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Fascinating Junjin

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Junjin just came out with a new mini album titled Fascination. Likely that this is his last album before going to military service (at the end of this year?). Anyway,  a little background on the release, Junjin has always been somewhat prone to injuries and the period before releasing this album was coloured with a few stories of injuries. Apparently recently he hurt his wrist, ankle, and his toe suffered nerve damage on top of the shoulder he injured early on. Despite these, he carried on his comeback performances, filmed his music video, and his other activities. You know what this guy needs? A whack in the head and an order for bed rest.

Okay, on to the album. There are total 5 tracks: Like A Fool, Hey Ya, Happy Ending, Love Me, and Don’t Love.

Like A Fool featured his WGM  on screen wife Lee Si Young. We got to see her recording this song on the show (before they got unceremoniously kicked out of the stupid show). Their good relationship seems to extend beyond the show. Not only did LSY sing for Like A Fool, she also starred in Junjin’s Hey Ya video clip. This couple, I thought they were really cute on the show, I was so happy to see them working together outside of the show. They fit each other really well. I’d be thrilled if they do turn out to be dating.

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I first heard of Like A Fool in WGM and to be honest, I didn’t like it then, it was just so..synthesized. Plus, the song is very poppish, too mundane. I know he has a fantastic vocal, but this song definitely doesn’t do a lot for his singing skills. But for a few days following the show, I couldn’t stop singing the song. It’s an addictive song. Gotta admit, it’s a fun song to sing. Even until now, I still find myself unconsciously humming Do you wanna love love love oneul bam e..

Hey Ya, on the other hand, I immediately loved it. They played the beginning in WGM, and it was such a catchy beat. After acquiring the album (sorry Jin, I can’t buy this one, 20+ bucks for 5 songs?), I cannot stop listening to that song, it just picks my mood up. Son Dam Bi lend her voice for the song as well and I must say I love her part in the song, it was short, but it was a highlight of its own.

At least Junjin can show more his vocal in the other 3 songs, Happy Ending, Love Me, and Don’t Love. The last 2 are straight up ballads, out of the two, I like Love Me much better tho.

If I have to pick my favourite, it’s gotta be Hey Ya, followed by Love Me, Like A Fool, Happy Ending, and Don’t Love. I wish Junjin would perform one of the ballads because I know the live version would be great. Hey Ya live performances have awesome dances, but I wish that he had chosen either Don’t Love or Love Me for the accompanying song to counter awesome routine with wonderful vocal showcase.

Overall, I like this album. I don’t think it’s exceptionally good or anything, but for a mini album, the contents are pretty impressive. It’s got a good mix of songs from high pumping Hey Ya, to an upbeat Like A Fool, to a slower ballad of Love Me. I just wish the price isn’t as expensive (if it had been 10 bucks, I’d have hit that preorder button without thinking), but I guess because it’s a limited edition, it’s valued more that way. I know korean singers have a habit of putting a repackage album, so I’m hoping there would be one, and it wouldn’t be as expensive.

The Awesomeness That Is The Return of Iljimae

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The Return of Iljimae is frickin AWESOME! Let me just get that out there first.

I am about 2/3 of the drama and I dread having to part ways with it soon. I’ve been watching the drama like nuts (inbetween school, other dramas, and usual slacking off). Let it be known that I am not a huge fan of period dramas, of any kind. I tried Hong Gil Dong and ended up bailing after 12 episodes. I stuck around for Strongest Chil Woo, Jumong, and Dae Jang Geum respectively for 2, 4, and 18 episodes. Heck I didn’t even pass the 15 minute mark on Lee Jun Ki’s Iljimae.

RoI started pretty slow. It was a pain going through the first 4 episodes, took me about 3 months for I kept nodding off or getting distracted. But by episode 5, the drama picked up and everything went really good. I became accustomed with the overall tone of RoI and my WTF/ehh moments came to a stop.

Admittedly, this drama is very different, quirky if you will. There’s humour, but that humour is not supposed to be full on HAHA humour, sometimes it’s subtle, other times it’s just plain quirky (there are times where it reminds me of Scrubs comedy). The narration plays a huge part in drawing the comedy. I was a bit miffed at first with the narration, but then came to appreciate it for bringing out dry, sometimes sarcastic comedy. Anyways, my writing skills are not good enough to be able to fully explain RoI’s humour. The drama is superb in withdrawing before it gets way overly dramatic. In a sense, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

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Acting wise, to be honest, perhaps Jung Ilwoo as the titular character, is the weakest actor among other main actors (to be fair, most of the other actors are more senior than him). There’s some awkwardness here and there, in posture and line delivery, but he is good in expressing himself through facial features. I’m not sure if he does all the stunts (I think he does), but his fighting stunts are really impressive. He was trained as a ninja, and his fighting style really does mimic the quick, thorough ninja style.

Next, Yoon Jinseo plays 2 characters here, both lovers of Iljimae. I gotta admit, I LOVE YJS to bits. She reminds me of Jung Yoomi;  acting seems to be a natural thing for her, it came so effortlessly. Okay, so she plays Dalyi and Wolhee who are both have some similarities, deeper than just the fact they look alike. Both Dalyi and Wolhee are not the typical aegyo/shy girl type. Yoon Jinseo was able to differentiate herself in acting for both characters that in the end, we forget that she’s acting for both Dalyi and Wolhee anyway. I’ve always seen Dalyi as a more…fantasy girl, whereas Wolhee is the more realistic of the two. Dalyi is much more forward and daring, while Wolhee still retains a little shyness.

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I can’t even begin commenting on the other supporting characters. They picked really good ones too. Kim Minjong as the forlorn Head Officer harbouring love for Iljimae’s mother. Jung Hye Young as the former gisaeng slash the aforementioned Iljimae’s mommy. Kim Nam Gil (always awesomely funny) as Iljimae’s future biographer and his sidekick Lee Hyun Woo (who is fantastic and dang it he’s only 16!). Lee Kye In as a beggar who adopted Iljimae as a baby. And let’s not forget Park Cheol Min as the awesome sideway-walking Iljimae’s semi nemesis (who’s pretty hilarious, btw). There are other familiar actors having smaller roles, but they all are fantastic as per usual.

As I’m still watching the drama currently, I can’t review for real. Let me finish the drama first before making any sort of final judgement. I just need to prod everyone to watch this drama. It’s a really good drama.

Current Dramas

After a lackluster 2008 (well lackluster, mostly because  very few dramas could actually grabbed my attention and kept it) 2009 seems really promising so far. The resurrection of cute, romantic comedy dramas, it looks like. Anyways, here are a few of those dramas up to May 2009 that I was/am following.

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1. Boys Over Flowers: So we started 2009 with BOF, the korean adaptation of the hugely popular manga Hana Yori Dango. With 25 episodes and lots of eye candies, the drama became a total hit, coining awesome high ratings and made its actors stars overnight. Okay, so what was the drama like? Well, if you read the manga or watched one of the versions (Japanese, Taiwanese, etc) chances are you already know what it’s about anyway. BOF was in no way a well made drama, it had lots of flaws. Nonsensical storylines, acting that ranged from bad to slightly above mediocre, bland direction, overused music, etc. Looking back, it was a pretty bad drama over all. But to be honest, no matter how bad it was, the drama was super addictive. I used to download the raw videos, wait for the hardsub (when have you ever had subs done in mere hours after the drama airs?), read the recaps, and discussed the drama online. It had been a really long time (heck, never actually) since a drama was so addictive that I was willing to go through all of that AND still rewatched.

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2. Queen of Housewives: After BOF ended, I picked up Queen of Housewives, starring Kim Namjoo, Oh Jiho, Lee Hyeyoung, etc. It started off with lukewarm ratings, but as soon as BOF finished, ratings shot up through the roof (it improved by about 7-8%!!). The drama is fun, lighthearted, cute, hilarious, and did I mention fun? The story is mostly about housewives and their husbands who work in one company and are involved in lots of office politics. I’m generalizing it, but it’s so much more than that. Each episode has its great moments which prompt you to want to watch the next one. The characters are quite well crafted and sometimes they earn your sympathy other times your pure hatred. At least for me, there isn’t one character exactly where I have not experienced both liking and hating for him/her. QoH finishes next week, yet right now there are SO many loose ends. I wonder how they will tie everything well enough for a good and satisfying ending. Let’s hope QoH will deliver.

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3. Return of Iljimae: I am pretty late on this actually. This was broadcasted around the same time as BOF, but I was way too focused on BOF to fully take this seriously. Okay, let me just get this out. I LOVE LOVE RoI. The story is nicely paced, developments come at exactly the right moments. At first I thought this is a slow drama, but this is mostly because the ambience of the drama is a subdued. I liken this drama to a steady wave of water. It’s NOT boring or slow, but you need to appreciate the drama as a whole, for its acting, its music, its humour, its photography, everything. Jung Ilwoo and Yoon Jinseo have superb chemistry together. Their relationship is mature and more realistic that I expected a relationship from a period drama was like. Well as realistic as you can be with 2 lookalike love interests. What I’m trying to get across is this: watch this damn thing, it’s fantastic.

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4. Brilliant Legacy: Lee Seungki!! Hehe, fangirl moment there. This drama is what I call back to basics. It’s full of traditional k-drama cliches (evil stepmother, rich to poor to rich again, opposites attract, prince charming, plotting second lady, etc) but it seems like BL prides itself in embracing these old formulas, cook them with recipes we all know by know, and come up with a dish. The dish, while not exactly Most Delish Dish Award material, tastes pretty good! To me, the fact that BL goes back to basic is one winning point of the drama. Another winning point is the chemistry between the actors. 6 episodes in, we still have few (too few to my liking) scenes of Lee Seungki and leading lady Han Hyojoo, but the few times they are on the same frame together are the highlights of the episodes.

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5. Just Looking/That Fool/The Accidental Couple/Six Months/The Drama That Changes Its Name Like Vancouver Changes Its Weather: Not a very good drama. It’s got Hwang Jungmin and Kim Ahjoong in the front seats but the plot, the characterization, the storylines are pretty much a mess. To me, the worst aspect of the drama is the characters. Very few are actually likable, most of them are either pompous jackass or puny little worms who cannot stand up for themselves. The best thing about the drama? Hwang Jungmin and Lee Chungah (who acts as HJM’s lil sis), hands down. This week sees the end of episode 4, so another 12. I’m actually not sure if I will see this drama to the end.

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6. City Hall: Still an experiment drama. I don’t like the writer of the drama (am regretting the time spent to sit through gangster crap in 20 episodes of Lovers solely for the chemistry between Kim Jungeun and Lee Seojin, who broke up, btw). This time, I’m watching for Cha Seungwon and Kim Sunah duo. The theme of CH isn’t as depressing as Lovers, so I’m hoping that the ride would not be too exhausting. I also believe that at least CH has better main actors than Lovers did. I really hate how ‘fake’ this drama often comes across as, the way the actors say their lines, their intonations, everything is really grating my nerve. Yes, even CSW and KSA are victim of this. I notice this ocurred in On Air too, I just don’t get why they have to adop this kind of line delivering, hmm? Like Just Looking, I might bail at the first sign of crappiness.

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7. The Story of A Man/The Slingshot: Postponed. I watched the first episode and did like it (Park Siyeon and Park Kiwoong!!!), but the drama kind of requires some energy to watch, so I think I’m postponing this until my drama watching slots are less crowded.

Variety Show, 1 Night 2 Days

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2008, last year, was basically a variety show year for me. I faithfully followed We Got Married from its 1st episode around March. Several months down the line, I discovered Family Outing. Interestingly, neither show kept my interest. December last year marks the last time I stayed up to watch the show live. I still followed news and episodes, but not as loyally as before. FO was an even shorter case, I stuck around for about 10 or so episodes but decided to take my leave when I became seriously bored at how structured the show is. Coincidentally, ‘scandal’ broke out about the scriptedness of the show. I still do watch some tidbits of some interesting episodes, but now I can never watch the whole episode without nodding off once in a while.

Currently, I am following 1 Night 2 Days (I will shorten this to Ilbak)  a variety show with Kang Hodong, Kim C, Lee Sugeun, Eun Jiwon, MC Mong, and Lee Seungki (yeah, like people don’t know this show by now). Ilbak started in 2007. The format of the show is similar to Family Outing or Infinity Challenge (people say Ilbak copies IC’s format whereas FO copies Ilbak’s format, go figure) with the members going on a trip to a new location every two weeks. The concept of the show is to well, show audiences of the beautiful places in Korea. A lot of the places are far from being tourist attractions and this show’s goal is to get these places more well known. As they say at the end of every other episode, ‘Please come here!1N2D - Ep.105 - 090510.avi_0020873511N2D - Ep.105 - 090510.avi_001184816

Kang Hodong as the main MC is also the oldest of the gang and therefore he assumes the role of a leader. His specialties are initiating, negotiating, and general misdeeds/tricking (spoken with lots of affection, mind you). Despite his portrayal as ‘Dae Mawang’ or Super Devil, he takes care of the members a lot and is really really nice to any other people they are interacting on the trips. Whenever things are getting too rough for the team, he negotiates with the Directors to ‘lessen their pain’ and often, his effort is fruitful. Referred to as the Papa Bear, KHD is the Big Brother/Father of the group.

The mother of the group is the second oldest member, Kim C. Vocalist of the band Hot Potato (who, btw, is an uber awesome band and one of my favourites), he doesn’t talk as much as the other members and has earned himself nicknames such as ‘Documentary Reaction’ (for his deadpan and serious reactions) or Master Kim. You will see very very often Kim C in the background caring for the members. Be it toweling them after a dip in the sea, giving them jacket, or just generally showing care. He’s known to be a great dad and husband, but sadly in Ilbak, the members often tease him as the ugliest member (which I do not get because I find Kim C to be quite an attractive guy, even at his age of 39).

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Lee Sugeun is the ultimate driver of the group, litterally. You will see him often handling the steering wheel, both cars and even busses. SG started out rough, he is a professional comedian, yet he had a hard time adjusting to variety show and during the early episodes, his part was often edited out because he was not entertaining enough. He pulled through and now is a very valuable member of Ilbak. SG is known as the hardworker and the kind hearted. Often coming up with great arguments, one liners, and comebacks, he is definitely one of the wittiest members.

A former idol, Eun Jiwon, or now affectionately known as Eun Choding (for his 5th grade taste in food and general ‘childlike’ personality) and Dooli (after his imitation of the character). Dubbed as the laziest member with the most complains, JW is a source of good laugh and IMO, the funniest member. He is the only member who dares to trifle with KHD and often, KHD is left dumbfounded at JW’s tricks. Allegedly a very intelligent person, he often shows signs of being a dimwit, but then like SG, he has one of the best comebacks on the show, clearling showing his own wittiness. After breaking up with his group, Sechskies, JW is still trying to revive his singing career to the level of his former glory as a hot boyband. Best of luck to JW.

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I loved MC Mong’s music even before watching Ilbak. Now a hugely successful singer and entrepreneur, MC Mong self produces his albums and often helps other singers through rap featuring. Personality wise, his has got to be one of the most interesting ones in the industry. His nickname is Wild Monkey and it is very very appropriate. He is loud, he is wild, he knows how to entertain, and yet, in front of elders, he knows how to be respectful and relate to them as a son or grandson. Even with a bountiful of accomplishment, MCM still has the grace to be bashful once in a while, refusing to talk big about himself and self promote. More, he is also known as Mong Jang Geum, for his cooking prowess.

Magnae Lee Seungki is only 22, but he’s got some serious accomplishments up his sleeves. He graduated university and is now taking Master degree. He has had quite a successful singing career and has established himself as a respectable ballad singer. He is also starring in a currently airing drama, Brilliant Legacy, who is enjoying high ratings. Seeing LSK is not doing a very good thing for my own ego and confidence. How can he achieve so much for his young age? On the show, LSK is the Huhdang, the fake scholar because while he is a clever guy, he’s not exactly smart sometime. Often Ilbak requires LSK to step out of his zones, and as a guy who is mindful of his image, he often worries about it.

Overall, Ilbak is a very funny show. It IS intended to give laugh and entertainment. However, more than just a show, Ilbak often displays intangible qualities that makes it above other variety shows. It’s got heart. They show the brotherhood (you know I’m a sucker of camaraderie) and close bonds between the members and viewers are often just content with seeing them fool around and joking with each other. They tackle various different issues, such as Friendship (through Friendship Trip and Invite Friends Trip), North/South Korea estrangement (through Baek Du San Trip), viewers (Viewers Trip), elders, and so many more.

Long Live 1 Night 2 Days.