Bidding Farewell to the Hoi-Hoi Couple

I laughed with the best of them, and cried with the worst of them. The last episode nearly had me catatonic on the floor, I couldn’t stop sobbing all throughout the entire hour. This drama was perfect to marathon because it’s zany, zippy, so adorably sweet it gave me a toothache that worsened with each episode, but inflicted a pain upon me that felt oh-so-good. It’s been weeks since I finished wiping away my tears of joy at Mi Ho and Dae Woong’s happy ending, but I still remember the drama with a boatload of fondness and judging by the sheer number of screencaps I took while watching this sucker (700 of them! I still can’t believe it.), My Girlfriend is a Gumiho has earned a place on my list of top ten favorite feel-good dramas. I’ll be continuing this review after the jump for those of y’all who haven’t seen it yet (What are you waiting for?!). And just a warning, I’m including MAJOR picspam because of the ridiculous number of screencaps I took, mostly of Shin Min Ah‘s Gu Mi Ho because I developed a major girl-crush on the character. What?

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The Meaning of Love: A Review of Alone in Love

After I finished watching the last moments of Alone in Love fade away from my laptop screen, I brushed tears of happiness away from my face with warmth in my heart. Rarely do I ever get the chance to see a k-drama so true to life, so realistic in its interactions that somehow convey such deeply rooted feelings of love, that I truly wanted to hug screenwriter Park Yeon Seon for creating such a wonderful, wonderful drama. For those of you who haven’t seen AiL yet, I’ll continue my review after the jump to avoid revealing any spoilers, because there will be some. You have been forewarned.

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Ha Ni’s Happily Ever After

I honestly don’t know what it is about Playful Kiss that made it so utterly enjoyable for me to watch. Was it the fact that it seems so very realistic and simple that it could very well occur to real people? Or was it the steady determination of Ha Ni’s love for Seung Jo that made me root for a happy ending for her? Whatever the reason is, I absolutely loved watching her win the heart of the guy for whom she harbored an unrequited love for four years, and the fact that that very love was what led him to love her back was indicative of both the characters’ personalities. I think that was the best thing about PK, how tangible the actors made their characters’ personalities (or was it thanks to the writer?), and there was not one character I didn’t root for by the end. The second leads were both adorable, and I loved that they never crossed over into the crazy, obsessive kinds of second leads we usually have to deal with in almost every k-drama. Both Bong Joon Gu and Yoon Hae Ra knew that the love between Ha Ni and Seung Jo was real, so they gracefully backed off, despite their strong feelings for the two of them.

I absolutely adored Lee Tae Sung in the role of Bong Joon Gu. He could’ve very well come off as OTT to some people, but I thought he was perfect in both his comedic timing and dramatic beats, making the emotions that his character was feeling so incredibly real that all you wanted to do was give Joon Gu a hug and comfort him on Ha Ni’s behalf. Oh, was that just me? Well, more Joon Gu for me then. šŸ˜› It’s hard to find anyone in real life who’s so devoted to the person they love, and the fact that they gave Joon Gu a (suggested?) happy ending left me satisfied, no matter how contrived it was. Joon Gu deserved someone who would see only him, and even though his story with Kris? Chris? Cris? was very rushed, I was glad that the writers dangled that carrot in front of us viewers knowing that we were hoping that Joon Gu would end up with someone by the drama’s end. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I totally thought that there could’ve been something between Dok Go Min Ah and Joon Gu. I remembered one scene when they were still in high school and the three friends were talking about unrequited love and when Joon Gu was brought up, the camera focused on Min Ah and she had a wistful look on her face. I could be totally off about the scene but I distinctly remember thinking that it was possible they shot the scene that way because Min Ah had been harboring a secret love for Joon Gu as Joon Gu loved Ha Ni who loved Seung Jo. I guess it’s better that they didn’t have the best friend of the girl Joon Gu was in love with fall for him because that would’ve been quite messy for the friendship.

As for Hae Ra, I think it’s realistic that the drama ended with her gradually reaching out to her tennis club sunbae because of the similarities between her and Seung Jo. The fact that the sunbae was always there for her when she really needed him mirrors how Ha Ni’s feelings for Seung Jo were unconditional, and so it would only make sense that Hae Ra would begin to warm up to Kyung Soo slowly but surely. I like that they didn’t show us anything concrete because it would definitely take time for Hae Ra to begin to develop feelings for Kyung Soo, but they included a hint of that possibility, which is good enough for me.

Ha Ni’s character did annoy me from time to time for reasons that girlfriday discussed during some of the PK recaps on the dramabeans site. It was as if Ha Ni couldn’t think of doing anything that wasn’t related to Seung Jo, which essentially meant she had no identity, no sense of purpose if Seung Jo wasn’t a part of her life. No matter how much a girl likes a guy, it’s crucial for her to be able to choose her major and career path in life for herself, not for him. What if Seung Jo turned out not to be the one who Ha Ni would end up with? What would’ve happened then? What would Ha Ni have done about school? Yes, I know it’s a drama and they did ultimately get married and begin their lives as Doctor Husband and Nurse Wife, but I did have my qualms about that aspect of Ha Ni’s personality. I’m all for devotion in love, but not so much so that one loses their unique identity in the process.

Aside from minor quibbles (and some major ones), I really enjoyed watching Playful Kiss. Jung So Min has proven herself to be quite the talented actress at such a young age, and I think we can expect great things from her down the line. Kim Hyun Joong has made an improvement since his Boys Before Flowers days, and I’m glad he took this opportunity to work on his acting because through PK I saw that there is potential there. Of course it’ll take a lot of effort and work on his part, but I think KHJ might possibly reach Choi Si Won‘s or Lee Seung Gi‘s level of talent if he keeps working at it. Yes, it’ll take a while, but anything’s possible if one has the determination and motivation to make it happen, right? šŸ™‚

Life Certainly is Beautiful

Before Life is Beautiful began its run, I was nearly scared off by the long length of it (originally planned to be 50 episodes, but extended to 63). The only reason why I caught the first episode was because as y’all may know by now, I love me some Nam Sang Mi and am willing to watch almost anything for her. I was tasked to translate the first episode as well, which literally made me want to fling my laptop across the room at the sheer amount of dialogue (topping over a thousand lines per episode). But I continued to plod through each episode, something about LiB keeping me coming back for more despite the many reasons why I wanted to quit watching. I had somehow gotten invested in learning about the Yang family and getting a glimpse of their lives, and the drama had a strange innate appeal that hooked me right from the get-go.

LiB was subject to much controversy due to the gay storyline featuring Song Chang Eui (Yang Tae Sub) and Lee Sang Woo (Kim Kyung Soo) but I honestly thought the progression of their relationship was quite lovely and natural. Their final scene in the last episode of LiB left me with a warm feeling in my heart, having been reminded of the pure and wondrous beauty of love, and I knew that despite the obstacles that they may have waiting for them in the future, they’d have a happy ending no matter what. I saw Song Chang Eui for the first time on the now defunct variety show Family Outing. He had a very reserved personality so it was difficult for me to form an opinion about him, but I loved the way he portrayed his Tae Sub character, infusing him with a vulnerability that had me rooting for him all throughout the length of the drama. Lee Sang Woo was not as fluid in his acting, coming off forced and awkward at times, but I have to give him credit where credit is due.. he contributed in making the relationship between Tae Sub and Kyung Soo seem realistic and loving, which couldn’t have been an easy feat to accomplish.

 

My next favorite couple on LiB was between the handsome Kim Sang Joong‘s Yang Byung Joon and Jang Mi Hee‘s Jo Ah Ra. It took me a very long time to warm up to the character of Jo Ah Ra not becauseĀ the actress lacks talent, but because I thought the character was irritating. It’s funny though how when Yang Byung Joon started seeing Jo Ah Ra in a different light, I could see her going through some kind of transformation. She wasn’t as shrill and loud as I thought her to be in the beginning, she was just a lady in love who expressed said love with a child-like excitement and joy. By the end of the drama’s run, Byung Joon realized that a life alone wasn’t as easy as he previously considered, and that this enthusiastic, talkative woman could provide him with a sense of support and comfort that he didn’t know he’d been lacking. Like I said, it took me a while to warm up to this couple because of my initial dislike for the character of the representative, but once their love story got going in earnest, they quickly rose to my list of favorite couples from Life is Beautiful.

My last favorite couple was definitely the mom and dad of the family, the mom played by “Korea’s Mother” Kim Hae Sook, and the dad played by the wonderful Kim Young Chul. Although the marriage was the second for the both of them, there was absolutely no indication of that in their relationship. All one could see while watching their dynamics was their steadfast love and respect for one another. Whether that be conveyed by her immediately accepting the fact that Tae Sub is gay without an ounce of disappointment or anger and instead urging her husband to be openminded to Tae Sub’s past scars and pain, or his constant presence by her side, his offering to massage her feet or shoulders when she’s in pain from working too hard or having been on her feet for too long, their relationship is what we should strive to build our future relationships towards.

I decided to format my review of LiB in this fashion because I wanted to showcase these three couplings for their extraordinary abilities to touch my heart and make me wish I was in a relationship as loving and strong as theirs. There were a ton of storylines that progressed throughout the drama’s 63 episodes and it would take me all day to get into all of them, so I won’t do so. All I’m going to say is that this drama had the same slice-of-life appeal that Playful Kiss had for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I got to spend in the world of the Yang family. If ever you are in need of a drama that reminds its viewers of the unconditional love of family in a very realistic way, Life is Beautiful is the drama for you!

The Close of Page One

Here we are… I’ve finally completed Coffee House the series and I enjoyed it immensely. It was one I was watching before I trekked to Russia for the summer, so I didn’t get to finish it until I got back, and by that time, I was so busy with school and subbing other dramas that I couldn’t continue with it until I marathoned through the final 6 or so episodes over the past few days. As usual, here are my thoughts on the delightful CH.

Unfortunately, this review of Coffee House is sans screencaps because of the long break I took in completing it, and I don’t really want to go through all the episodes to try and capture all of the cute moments in CH (especially because there were so many). I’m just going to start off by saying I hope y’all decide to give Coffee House a try if you haven’t already, because it was one of the better rom-com k-dramas I’ve seen to date. The execution was done well, I liked the trifecta of k-dramas overall (writing, directing and acting), and the pace of the drama was refreshing too.

The characters of Coffee House were all interesting in that all of them had flaws. Glaring ones, in fact, but I don’t know if it was due to the writing or the acting that made all of them so likable. All I do know is that I hoped throughout watching each episode that there was a happy ending for all of the people in the CH universe, and I was pleased to see that my hope wasn’t in vain. For me, I could only root for Coffee House if the OTP was Seo Eun Young and Lee Jin Soo, and I was so relieved and happy that they wound up together in the end. I loved how their love story played out and how each of them had such a profound impact on the other, eliciting change for the better and producing growth in both their characters as a result. Through their many fights, misunderstandings, and shed tears, they learned just how much they loved each other, and theirs honestly was one of the best couplings that I’ve seen in any k-drama. It also doesn’t hurt that Kang Ji Hwan and Park Si Yeon have scorching chemistry that just about hits the roof in their more intense scenes. It was difficult for me to believe that the way Kang Ji Hwan looked at Park Si Yeon after their snog kiss in episode 11 was just acting. Speaking of that kiss, it probably was one of the hottest kisses of any k-drama or k-movie, heightened by the emotional tension and buildup leading up to it, and it knocked the Personal Taste episode 10 kiss off my ultimate favorite kiss spot.

I also really enjoyed the way the drama not only focused on their love story, but also concentrated on Seung Yeon’s development into adulthood. To be honest, she really annoyed me for the majority of the drama which prevented me from warming up to her or caring about her character at all, but once the time lapse was utilized and she was shown as having matured and grown into a woman, I began to root for her happy ending as well. I honestly don’t think she deserves Dong Wook because of how adorably devoted he was in his feelings for her, but I can understand her not having eyes for anyone else with Kang Ji Hwan gallivanting in front of her in all his gorgeousness. Seriously, he is one beautiful, beautiful man and I am beyond jealous that Park Si Yeon got to make out act with him.

Last but not least, I really enjoyed the character of Ha Ji Won. Thanks to him, I got a lot of laughs and comic relief, but the actor also excelled at the emotional scenes as well. His crying scene in the final episode was particularly well done and I felt my heart constrict for this formerly insensitive egomaniac turned devoted loving figure as he dealt with losing Eun Young. In a lot of ways, he can be seen as having made the most progress and character development, but since all of our lovable characters had such significant transformations, I guess it’s to be expected that Ji Won had his too.

I can’t say I was emotionally swept away by this drama, but there were a lot of points where I felt for the characters and this drama was especially good at getting its viewers to care for the people living the events unfolding in front of our eyes. I was quite impressed with the progress Park Si Yeon has made acting-wise, and Kang Ji Hwan sparkled onscreen, as usual. I never had my doubts about my belovedĀ Ji Hwan and he blew me away. Ham Eun Jung wasn’t one of my favoriteĀ aspects of Coffee House and I think I might’ve developed more of an opinion about her if a stronger actress had played the character of Seung Yeon. OTT acting is one of the things I hate most in any k-drama and she was OTT for most of the scenes she was in, so I’ll just leave it at that. I definitely would recommend this drama for anyone who wants a different kind of rom-com with flawed characters who manage to capture our attention just the same and cause us to root for them. I don’t think this was Kang Ji Hwan‘s strongest role, but he owned Lee Jin Soo and I highly doubt that Lee Jin Soo would’ve been as appealing if a lesser actor played him. Same for Park Si Yeon. Oh and one last thought before I close this up… this drama had one of the best final episodes I’ve ever seen. It was well thought-out, and although some of the storylines were a little contrived (Ji Won being attracted to his white colleague) I liked it a lot for the most part. Yay for good pacing! šŸ™‚

Hiatus

Hello all! As most of you may already know, I’m leaving tomorrow for St. Petersburg, Russia where I’ll be teaching English all summer to Korean kids whose families relocated to Russia to work at a Hyundai factory which opened up there. I probably won’t be able to update on here until I’m back, but I’ll be going on Twitter periodically with updates, so I bid y’all farewell ’til mid-August. Wish me luck! Here are some pictures for your perusal that I took while I was in Russia last year. šŸ™‚

Such Potential Wasted

I’m just going to lay it all out in my opening sentence so y’all will know where I’m going with this entry discussing the end of Cinderella’s Sister: ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH YOU HAD SUCH POTENTIAL! KIM KYU WAN, HOW COULD YOU?!?!?!

Ahem, now that I’ve regained my composure, I’ll continue this entry after the jump. Proceed at your own risk as there will be spoilers for those of you who haven’t watched the final episode yet.

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