Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Ep 1-3

It’s exactly what I expected, and more.

What makes this drama so winning, so far, is how likable the heroine, Eunbi, is. Lee Chungah is generally an adorable, cute actress. But she’s got this ability to be really animated without going too much into the overacting zone. There are perfectly good actresses who you can tell is straining to play cute, bubbly type. Then there are actresses, who may not be as good, but whose vivacity just comes naturally. I think Lee Chungah falls in the second category. Not saying that she’s a crap actress, but I’m just highlighting how this role just seems right up her ally. I don’t really follow her career, but looking at her hancinema page, I just realized that I’ve seen like half of her projects. I remember how hilarious she was in My Tutor Friend 2 (chemistry was off the chart with cutie Park Kiwoong) and of course, she was such a ball of crazy as Hwang Jungmin’s sassy little sis in That Fool.

The drama follows heroine Eunbi navigating through life of being a intern teacher at a highschool. In the first couple of episodes, I thought it was going the Hardtack Teacher and Star Candy/Gokusen-territory and was promptly confused as to how a Ramyun Shop would be borne out of it. But with 3 episodes in the bag, the idea of a ramyun shop is coming together nicely. I like that they don’t set up the premise right on the first episode but instead allow the background story to gain a strong footing so we do get more attached to this shop in the future.

Also, it’s nice that an episode clocks in only for about 50 minutes, not like network TV that goes for as long as 1 hour 10 minutes, sometimes more. This makes for a more brisk pace each episode and less chance of fatigue. The downside is that when the drama is such a fun watch, those minutes just go by really quickly. I was watching episode 3 and somewhere along the way, I just realized there was only 5 more minutes.

I’m liking everyone so far. Jung Ilwoo alternates between being an assface and an assface with depth. This role has flashes of Highkick’s Yunho and the recent 49 Days’ Scheduler. In general, I think Jung is better suited for mellow, low profile characters rather than a bright, charming romeo. He has a tendency to overdo the yelling and the whining, but then knocks it out with a great reflective scene. As for Lee Kiwoo, he’s only been in one episode but I’m in love with his character already. He’s just tres adorable.

By the way, the one that really stands out for me is Crazy Chicken. He’s SUCH a dork!!

Travel Korea! Part Three: Palaces

Palaces are a big thing in Seoul. Palace is usually among the top tourist destination when you go there. Seoul’s tourism spots consist of several palaces inside the city, such as Deoksu-goong, Kyeongbok-goong, Changdeok-goong, and so on. The three I mentioned are the big, popular palaces for tourists. They’re all located close to each other and easily accessible by public transportation. You can even walk from one palace to another.

For me, I’m somewhat ignorant of the history behind these palaces, so for me, visually, they all look the same. I don’t know how to spot the details. I mean, they’re beautiful but after the first couple of palace, nothing was really exciting anymore. If I didn’t put all my pictures in a labeled folder, I would’ve been confused as to which palace is in which picture.

I’ve visited 4 palaces.  But the one that stands out for me the most is the Changdeok-goong palace. And not for the palace itself, but for their own Huwon (Secret Garden). The Secret Garden is a small, lush greenery right at the heart of the city. It’s one of my favourite places in Seoul. It’s literally a block away from the bustling downtown area of Insadong and Jongno, but it offers a completely different vibe. It’s so calming, so green, and so gorgeous.

Inside the cut, we’ll start from Changgyeong-goong (a small teeny weeny palace right beside Changdeok-goong), Deoksu-goon, Kyeongbok-goong, and last Changdeok-goong/Secret Garden. I visited Deoksu-goong on my first Korea trip in 2008, so those are older pictures.

Pictures this way! Continue reading

Kim Hyunjoong’s Lucky Guy

My fangirl tendency for Hyunjoong is interesting. I LOVE to diss him. Not in the playful fangirly way like I diss Seunggi’s whackjob of a wardrobe, or Jung Ilwoo’s hair, or Shinhwa’s….behaviour. But Hyunjoong, sometimes I just love hating on him. Partly it’s because of his career choices that I don’t agree with, but I think it’s partly because he’s so unapologetic about them as well. Secretly, I appreciate that about him, but it also makes me, as a fan, easier to diss the hell out of him.

In all honesty, I don’t follow Hyunjoong as studiously as I used to. After Playful Kiss bombed so badly, I just fell off the loop for a bit. He took a few months break as well, only doing appearances here and there and worked on his first solo album since SS501 parted ways. Even when his solo album, Break Down, came out, I didn’t really get into it more than noting that he looked really and especially HOT for the comeback. I took a look at his MV and hated it so, whatever.

But when I saw his new look for the newest solo album, Lucky, I was floored. And I think this is the first time in a long time that I genuinely love his career move, and not ironically like I usually do.

I mean, look at THAT expression! And the suit! The necklace, the douche rings!!

With Lucky Guy, I just dig this concept so much. The MV is SOOOO campy and thus a lot of fun. I was watching it for the first time, and it just cracked me up. It’s got a entertaining story and looks great visually, but man, the dance routine and Hyunjoong’s outfits were fabulous, in every sense of the word. He’s got a collection of Vegas suits, red mismatched suit, fun stripes, animal prints, you name it.

Most of all though, I LOVE his attitude for this concept. No more brooding tough guy a la Break Down, here comes the flirty joker who loves to ‘shake it, shake it’. It’s almost like watching a trot performance, complete with a naughty wink on top.

It does help that Lucky Guy is actually a good song as well. It’s catchy and has such a different sound than anything Hyunjoong or SS501 had ever done in the past. The other songs in his Lucky album are nice as well. I would say “U” definitely borrows some melodies and beats from Bruno Mars, but this is the song I really want to see Hyunjoong live in. It’s cute and showcases his vocal well, without being too heavy. Smile is another one I like. It’s got you bobbing your head and tapping your finger.

Apparently Hyunjoong will have another album early next year and a drama on his list as well. His acting skills aside, I would actually like to see Hyunjoong play a sunnier character. His recent roles have been a)dull sunbae and b)unfeeling asshole. Why can’t he have a fun role for a change? He certainly pulled it off in Lucky Guy, who knows, he might actually do wonders with the right character. Here’s hoping!

Ojakgyo Brothers, Ep 1-22

I had zero interest in Ojakgyo Brothers. One, because idol/actor UEE was in it. Two, it’s a long ass drama. Three, UEE’s role was reportedly prominent. Basically, it boiled down to WTF is UEE doing in this drama???

And then I saw the trailers. Immediately I took a liking. UEE and Joowon had great chemistry. Jung Woongin was wonderful. But most of all, Ryu Sooyoung and Choi Jungyoon just looked perfect with each other. I figured it looked harmless enough and trailers at least warranted a first episode look. I never expected it to be my current favourite drama.

Brief Overview

Ojakgyo Brothers is a family fare, revolving around the Hwang family. The Hwang family has 4 sons. Hwang Taeshik is the oldest son, carrying a heavy ‘bachelor’ tag on his shoulder. His constant pressure is to get married. His weakness is a pretty girl. Taebum is the second son, irresponsible and immature, and works as a reporter in a TV station where he frequently butts head with his boss, hot headed Cha Sooyoung. Taehee, is the adoptive third son, originally the son of Papa Hwang’s brother. He works as a cop, where he meets college student Baek Jaeun, while investigating her father. Taepil is the youngest son, a much cause of desperation and/or trouble in the family. He’s a part time model and full time skirt chaser.

Hwang family owns a pear/duck farm which they work and live from for about 10 years. Only one day, a weird dude comes to the house asking Papa Hwang to return the farm. So yes, apparently the farm had only been on a long term loan, one which only Papa Hwang and Grandma Hwang know about. Consequently the rest of the house explodes upon this newfound knowledge, particularly Mom Hwang, who works herself to the bone cultivating the farm. Weird dude turns out to be Baek Inho, a prominent witness on a case that Taehee is working on. When Baek Inho goes missing on a flight to China, the family temporarily heaves a sigh of relief. But only for long, because Baek Inho’s daughter Baek Jaeun drops by to demand her dad’s farm back.

This is basically the setup of the drama. The farm has always been owned by the Baek family, but was loaned to the Hwang family, who built it from ground zero into a fruit producing, profitably farm it is today. So right away, we are hit across the face with this conflict of interest. Whose farm is it supposed to be? Who are we supposed to root for? The Baek’s side of argument is clear and simple. The farm is legally theirs. But what about the Hwang? They were the one who turned a block of soil and land into a lush pear orchard and duck farm.

That’s the big picture. But let me break down the story of each brother so far, up to episode 22.

Taeshik finally went on a blind date with the woman of his dreams, Yejin. Yejin is sweet and nice. She’s also gorgeous, which immediately won her a gajillion points in Taeshik’s books. The Hwang family rented a suit to a lady and her daughter, Misook and Hana. Misook turned out to be Taeshik’s old old friend from school and she has feelings for Taeshik, one that goes completely ignored by Taeshik because he’s too preoccupied with purrty girl Yejin. One day, Taeshik’s old girlfriend in the Philippines started contacting him again. No, not to get back together or anything. But to tell him that they had a 9 year old son together, and he’s coming to Korea! Dum dum dum!

Taebum goes on about as usual, creating havoc and fighting with his superior, Cha Sooyoung. Their relationship is complicated. She’s his senior, but she’s younger than him. The switch of power does not bode well with them. Sooyoung is a shy, clumsy girl at heart, but is known as a dragon lady at work. She’s been crushing on Taebum but never had the guts to tell him because hell, she’s his boss. Until one day where they both get drunk and done the dirty work in bed. But all was still fine until Sooyoung found out she got pregnant, wanted to keep the baby, and asked Taebum to marry her. After much prodding, Taebum agreed to do a one year trial marriage. And there begins Sooyoung and Taebum’s uber awkward married life, complete with meddlesome mother in law, unconventional sleeping arrangement, and a sign of old feelings for old flame.

Taehee started investigating a case that seemed simple enough, until it snowballed into giant bribery and collusion mayhem, involving his own boss. Keeping in mind that he’s a cop, that situation’s a murky water altogether. When Baek Jaeun was at odds with his family, his integrity sided with her, yet he couldn’t betray his family. He started helping her little by little, time and time again touched by her sincerity. Taehee’s story is slowly getting off the ground as we see a little more about the case, and his interaction with Jaeun. They’re getting there.

Much like Taehee’s, Taepil’s story hasn’t been in the center stage. Taepil bumped into Sooyoung’s young aunt Yeowool by chance. Yeowool just got back from US to open her business but got conned by her friend instead. And it seems like he will be helping her “getting her groove back”. Not sure if a supposed romance is in the horizon for them, but in the meantime, Taepil is sparking some jealousy on Taehee’s part as Taepil started treating Jaeun nicer.

Baek Jaeun was the queen of the campus, a small celebrity of her own. When dad went missing, her world crumbled along with dad’s company and wealth. It didn’t help matters that her stepmom is a sneaky, lying bitch, and took flight the first chance she got.  Jaeun knew her dad had an asset nobody knew and when she came to claim her dad’s farm to the Hwang, they turned her off coldly. The cherry on top was when the land deed went missing and she was embroiled in a bribery scandal with the school, courtesy of Taebum. So she had no money and nowhere to go. After the scandal was cleared, she resolved to camp out on the Hwang’s front yard to get to know the family and the farm. She began learning about farming and helping Mom Hwang and struck an unlikely friendship with her. What she doesn’t know, however, is that Mom Hwang is the one who hid the land deed and basically landed her broke and kicked her out on the street. But she doesn’t know that yet. Dum dum dum….

Comments

I have a weakness for family drama. I tend to love them. But I remember hating at least the first 8 episodes of this drama. I hated Papa Hwang for hiding about the farm and consequently not being able to stand up for who’s right. I hated Mom Hwang for being such a stubborn and insensible lady. I hated how Jaeun walks around like she owns the damn farm right from the get go. I hated how the family treated Jaeun because despite everything, the farm IS hers. I think it was when things started to calm down that I began to enjoy the drama.

Jaeun got her act together and dealt with Mom Hwang the right way. Vice versa, Mom Hwang grudgingly started to accept her and took Jaeun under her wing. More than the romance, the bond between Mom Hwang and Jaeun is what I like the most. She’s taken to defend Mom and stick to her like a daughter and Mom started confiding in Jaeun when she has a problem with her sons. They started with such animosity to each other and have come a long way now. I’m so dreading the moment Jaeun finds out the land deed was hidden by Mom Hwang all this time. Wonder if their newfound rapport can be healed when this goes to the shitter.

I already expressed how much I love UEE in this drama. She’s still stumbling a little here and there, but I love how natural Jaeun’s vivacity is. Sometimes, you can tell an actress is trying to be all sunny and bright, but UEE really gets into her character and her acting feels so sincere. Plus, she’s got amazing chemistry with Joowon. Their scenes continue to be little cookie highlights of each episode. I appreciate that they’re taking their time with Jaeun and Taehee, after all, it’s a 50 episode drama, but I’m glad the ball is rolling slowly.

Out of all brothers, Taebum is the hardest to like. I’m looking forward to Taebum/Sooyoung scenes every episode, but I find myself trying hard to root for them. It feels like he’s throwing silent tantrums all the time now because he feels wronged that the marriage is forced on him. I hate seeing Sooyoung tiptoeing around him, trying to gain little favours out of him here and there. True, the marriage was shoved on him, but he did get his one year trial condition. So why isn’t he trying?

Taeshik’s son finally appeared. And they really scored with the child actor. He’s such a cute little kid, with amazing expressive eyes, and this perchance to make you on his side from the start. I think I’m going to love Taeshik’s storyline a lot.

Ojakgyo Brothers airs every Saturday and Sunday and is available on Viki. Go watch it!

Flower Boy Ramyun Shop

What’s it about? Pretty boys. Ramyun shop. Pretty boys. Oh god, I don’t even know what this thing is about. Pretty boys, yes, that’s it.

Expectation? Not much, as long as it’s fun and generally coherent.

Why watch? Lee Kiwoo who had gotten real hot after army, and not in the nerdy kind of way, he used to strike me as. The adorable Lee Chungah. Jung Fucking Ilwoo, enough said.

To be honest, I don’t know what to think about this sudden sprout of cable dramas airing in the second part of 2011. I mean, more dramas are always great, but the timing is just crazy. One drama after another is being announced, boasting names as high profile as Jung Woosung, Song Ilgook, and possibly Hwang Jungmin. Seriously, there are so many of them. How is one supposed to keep up with all these????

Anyways, Flower Boy will air at the end of the month. Many more will soon follow. If this cable drama shindig is going to be groundbreaking, as in pulling in lots of viewers, the drama landscape will be so much more interesting. The big networks didn’t really have anyone to compete with, other than each other. But now that cable television is entering the game, with such a bang, I might add, the competition will be even more stiff. I’m looking forward to improved quality (hopefully) from every players!

Lee Kiwoo’s saranghae is getting me all hot and bothered.

Travel Korea! Part Two: Amusement Parks

Part two is dedicated to the two Seoul’s big amusement parks, Lotte World and Everland. Not much to say, really. Amusement parks are always fun.

Everland is a lot bigger than Lotte World, although the latter has both indoor and outdoor arenas. Lotte World is more about the thrilling rides, whereas Everland is about the presentation, the show, the decoration, etc. Basically, there’s more to pump up your adrenaline in Lotte, but there’s more to see in Everland.

We’ll start with Lotte World. Pictures under here! Continue reading

Travel Korea! Part One: Busan

This is a long looooonnnggggg time coming. So, I stayed for a few months in Korea last year and I have been mulling with this idea about writing some posts dedicated to traveling in Korea. I’ve posted my bouts of fangirlism throes, but I also wanted to share about the great places there, the shopping, the food, the more touristy side, if you will. Unfortunately, since I only stayed for a short while, there’s not much I can share in terms of actually living your life in Korea. So, I’ll have to stick with being a longer tourist, instead of the general resident.

Korea is a small country, but it’s lovely. There’s a reason why 1 Night 2 Days can go on for more than 4 years just going around the country, from picturesque spot to another, despite the fact that the country is really small. However, the upside of having such a small country is the fact that many of the places are easily accessible even by public transportation. If you’re bored, head over to the local intercity bus terminal, pick a place, and you’re there. There are intercity busses every single day, almost every hour. If you go to big cities, expect busses to go every half hour or so. Traveling within cities in Korea is so easy. The problem will arise when you get OFF the bus and have no heck of an idea how to go around in that city. Especially if you go to a small city, I’ll get to that.

Anyways, the idea isn’t for me to blab; I won’t be writing much, but I will mostly just post a gajillion pictures that will endanger my bandwidth. If you have any question, do let me know, hopefully I can help.

So, part one will be the awesome southern city of Busan! Busan is a MUST visit city if you go to Korea. Not only it’s got so many gorgeous places, it’s one of the cities in Korea that has good public transportation. Try going to Jeju relying on public transportation. It’s a nightmare. But in Busan, you can actually take a bus to go from point A to point B without wanting to scratch your eyes out. Plus, there are a lot of cabs around, so either way, you will be able to go anywhere you’d like.

Gajillion photos this way!

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