A Newbie Reviews: Dramas of 2010

As the year 2010 comes to a close, I feel a little shell-shocked at how quickly time has passed by. Pretty soon, I’ll reach one year since I first become a fansubber/translator and since I started this very blog. By extension, this is the first year-end review I’m writing so please bear with me as I try to be as objective and impartial as possible. Not only will I be reviewing dramas that aired this year that I watched, but a few that I watched for the first time this year although they aired in previous years. Brace yourselves, this is going to be a long one.

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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 because 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 Halfway Mark IV

This post was long in the making and I was planning on dedicating it to two dramas, Birth of a Rich Man and Life is Beautiful. But the title isn’t completely applicable because Birth of a Rich Man has officially ended its run and Life is Beautiful is still nowhere near it’s halfway mark, so I’ll just write my thoughts on each at this time (sans screencaps because I don’t have the episodes for either drama saved and didn’t feel like re-downloading them just for screencaps).

Birth of a Rich Man was extended by 4 episodes from 16 to 20, and I’m still not sure if the extension did the drama any favors. I still hold to my original opinion that the best episode of BOARM was the first one before it started with its mindblowing hysterics from episode 2 all the way to the end. Lee Bo Young and Ji Hyun Woo had a really interesting chemistry between them but, this could just be in my opinion, I feel like the age difference between the actor and actress (he’s 25 and she’s 31) was evident in their relationship although the characters are supposed to be around the same age. Nam Goong Min was smoking hot but his acting was sub-par, and Lee Si Young was funny but OTT at times. There were too many side plots introduced, and I spent most of each episode idly fast forwarding through scenes that didn’t have to do with Seok Bong and Shin Mi being cute. I “watched” up to episode 19 but haven’t made the effort to download the last two episodes because I already know what happens and no matter how adorable I think Seok Bong and Shin Mi are together, I feel like it’s a waste of time to commit two more hours to watching this absolute circus of a drama. Ji Hyun Woo, a word of advice for you. You’re a charming, talented actor and I love you, but you really need to stop agreeing to every drama that comes along. I enjoyed Invincible Lee Pyeong Kang more than I liked BOARM but that might be because I adore Nam Sang Mi. However, I have to admit that ILPK was incredibly flawed as well and I had fast-forwarded through a lot of its episodes too.

Life is Beautiful was a drama I decided to check out because of my aforementioned love for Nam Sang Mi, but I found myself pleasantly surprised at how much I was willing to continue watching after I finished the first episode. Granted, translating for LIB has severely diminished my desire to keep up with this drama because of how much darn dialogue is in each hour, but it interested me enough to continue watching until now. I enjoyed watching the family’s dynamics (except the oldest daughter whose shrill nagging made me want to throw my laptop out the window.. or at her) and there is some SERIOUS eye candy on LIB. The scenery of LIB is absolutely gorgeous because the drama is set in Jejudo, and the father of the family had built their house and the family resort from the ground up. Yoon Da Hoon is one of LIB’s highlights playing the youngest uncle of the family. His character, Yang Byung Gul, is a complete loafer. He lounges around the house eating, sleeping and wasting away his time on petty, useless things, taking breaks from living as a couch potato once in a while when his eldest brother, Yang Byung Tae, drags him out on some errands for the family business. Byung Gul and his middle brother, Byung Jun (acted by the handsome, dashing Kim Sang Joong) fight like cats and dogs because Byung Jun is a motivated, professional businessman who focuses on nothing but work. As a result there are many entertaining scenes between them and it might just be reason to start watching LIB to see Kim Sang Joong waving a toilet brush at Yoon Da Hoon and yelling until he’s blue in the face. But I digress.

I’ve only watched until episode 13 so I’m a little behind, but as of how much I’ve watched, the gay storyline has been very delicately handled. Song Chang Eui‘s character Yang Tae Sub has been tiptoeing around the issue, only having come out to one person aside from his love interest Kyung Soo who’s played by hamster-boy hottie Lee Sang Woo, and that’s Yoo Min‘s character Chae Young who is coincidentally in love with Tae Sub. Confused yet? There are a ton of characters on this show, so many that it’s hard to pinpoint who the main character is. That’s the thing about family dramas that I enjoy, that there’s no one person to root for but the family itself to overcome obstacles and hardships as a unit, a whole.

Lee Sang Yoon plays the youngest son of the family, Yang Ho Sub, and he’s another looker to watch for. He’s the dropout/disappointment of the family, having left college to become a scuba diving instructor because of his extreme love of the ocean and his dislike for academia, so he works as an instructor with his friend Hyun Jin (a minor character played by actor Kim Woo Hyun). Ho Sub is the one who’s paired with Nam Sang Mi, and they have a hilarious dynamic. Nam Sang Mi‘s character, Bu Yeon Joo, works as the assistant of Ho Sub’s mom, and the moment Ho Sub and Yeon Joo meet, they begin a love-hate relationship that starts off as a hate relationship but slowly turns into love (although the love hasn’t really begun yet, it’s more like her tolerating him and him obsessing about why she’s so dismissive of him).

If you can’t tell already, LIB is an extremely complicated drama to explain and I hope I’ve done a few of the storylines justice (although there are many more plotlines and characters I haven’t even mentioned). It’s an amusing watch however, and I’m planning on catching up with it soon enough now that Oh, My Lady is in its last stretch. Hope you’ve enjoyed this jumble of a post, and until next time! 🙂

Musings on the Dramas of Late

I was eagerly waiting for March to roll around because so many new dramas were going to start that I was invested in mostly due to the actors that were going to star in them, and after watching at least a few episodes of each, I have some thoughts on them.

I’ll start with Birth of a Rich Man because it’s been on the longest, and with recent news of its extension, I have a lot to say about it. When I caught the first episode on the day it began, I enjoyed BOARM. I thought Ji Hyun Woo was great as usual, and although Lee Bo Young was stiff, the way the first episode went gave me high hopes that this would be a fresh change from the cliched dramas that the Land of the Morning Calm has churned out for the past few decades. However, the writers (and the director?) managed to completely squelch my hope in the second episode. Since then, I keep telling myself to drop this drama because I just wind up fast forwarding any of the parts that don’t have to do with Ji Hyun Woo and Lee Bo Young‘s budding relationship, but I haven’t yet. I was annoyed when I heard about the four-episode extension, but a person commented that because of all the storylines that have yet to be resolved, more time to flesh them out could do the drama some good, which I agree with after thinking on it more. At this point, I just park my brain at the door, keep my finger poised ready to fast forward, and watch BOARM because of how freaking cute Ji Hyun Woo and Lee Bo Young are together. Seriously, they make one good-looking couple.

Next up is Personal Taste. From what I can see, Lee Min Ho losing his Gu Jun Pyo hair has done him a whole lot of good because boy, does he look good. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of him watching Boys Over Flowers, I had to agree with those who said that he was one of the saving graces of that addicting trainwreck, and when Sohn Ye Jin signed on to PT, I was invested right away because she’s one of my all-time favorite actresses. PT hasn’t disappointed, persay, but the female second lead, played by Wang Ji Hye, infuriates me with her holier-than-thou attitude and her perpetual cattiness. I’m not crazy about PT yet but I can see that once Lee Min Ho and Sohn Ye Jin‘s relationship starts to blossom, they’re going to have great chemistry. I think that’s one of the great things about Lee Min Ho. He seems to have good chemistry with most of his leading ladies.

Oh, My Lady is not my favorite of the bunch, but I’m impressed by Choi Si Won‘s acting so far. He’s talented enough to convincingly act out the character of Sung Min Woo, an actor who lacks talent. I feel like for other people his age (He’s 22), that’d be difficult for them to do convincingly, but both he and Lee Seung Gi have managed to cross over from singing to acting and show some impressive acting chops for newbies. Chae Rim is her usual adorable self, and I just have to say that the little girl who plays Choi Si Won‘s daughter is so freaking cute. It took me a few episodes for OML to pique my interest, but this week’s episodes were an improvement so far, and I’m definitely looking forward to where OML goes from here.

Life is Beautiful is one that I was interested in solely because of my love of all things Nam Sang Mi, but it was actually a pleasant surprise. I’ve been working on translating it and it’s been insanely hard because boy do they love to talk, but I am enjoying watching LiB. When I heard that Song Chang Eui and Hamster Boy Lee Sang Woo would be paired together as a gay couple, I was intrigued. I have to give writer Kim Soo Hyun props for being brave enough to come up with that storyline, and I have to say that it’s been interesting to watch thus far. There was a scene in episode 5 that really bothered me when Lee Sang Woo‘s mother in the drama is incredibly harsh with his character and calls him a monster, and it just reminded me of how conservative our motherland still is. But I’m impressed that they’ve loosened up enough for a gay storyline to be included in a family drama, and I’m definitely sticking with LiB at least a little while longer to see where it goes. And on a completely superficial note, I’d like to say that there is MAJOR eye candy on LiB. Seriously. Check it out for yourself. 😉

Last but not least, Cinderella’s Sister. This is my favorite drama of the bunch so far, and for good reason. I was almost salivating when I heard that Chun Jung Myung had taken on the male lead role, and Moon Geun Young was the cherry on top. I hadn’t seen anything of hers before, but I had been wanting to watch her in something for a while, so this drama was the one that I was most excited about. They haven’t disappointed so far. I usually like more lighthearted dramas and if the terms melodrama or makjang appear in any of the descriptions for upcoming dramas, they’re enough to send me running highspeed for the door. But my adulation and obsession with Chun Jung Myung ever since I watched What’s Up Fox a few months ago kept me in high anticipation until the drama began. I was pleasantly surprised to see that CS wasn’t as dramatic as I expected it to be, although I suspect that it’ll definitely take a more melodramatic turn in later episodes. Chun Jung Myung and Moon Geun Young have wonderful chemistry, and I’m completely invested in their relationship already even though it’s only 3 episodes in. There was a scene between the two in episode 3 (when CJM comes back drunk) that had me squealing and clenching my hands in fangirly hysteria. I love CS so far and if CJM and MGY don’t wind up together by the end, there will be blood. Or a very disappointed, slightly pissed off Soluna.

I caught the first episode of Prosecutor Princess and decided to drop it because although I think Kim So Yeon is a talented actress, I was bored during the entire hour. I thought about watching the second episode just to see if it would pick up, but I didn’t feel like it. When I realized that I had no interest whatsoever in seeing where PP would go, I knew it wasn’t for me. I tried watching episodes of Dandelion Family and Merchant Kim Man Deok too, but they didn’t capture my interest either so I dropped those as well. But with all the dramas that I’m sticking with, where would I have the time to watch anything else? 😛