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.
Pasta and Wish Upon a Star were the two dramas that I’ve been following faithfully since January, as can be inferred from my previous entries, and looking back in hindsight, I have a few things to say about the two dramas and their last episodes now that they’re over.
Pasta was never a serious drama. The conflicts between the main and second leads weren’t the usual kinds we see in k-dramas, and even the love triangles were pretty mellow. That aspect is indicative of the drama itself in that Pasta was always really mellow and light-hearted. I think that was part of its charm for me. In the midst of the chaos and confusion of my life, it was really great being able to watch the wonderful chemistry between Gong Hyo Jin and Lee Seon Kyun and feel the fangirliness within distract me from the stresses of school and such. I agree that the extension hurt Pasta a bit, but I still enjoyed it thoroughly. I had no qualms about the ending because I thought it stayed true to the drama and didn’t leave us with any questions. The one loose end I wondered about was the wooing of Phillip by San’s somewhat creepy noona, but because she kinda gave me the heebie-jeebies, I was okay with not finding out what happened between her and my Phillip. I’m not sure how Pasta would have fared if different actors were cast as the lead characters because I believe the sizzling chemistry between GHJ and LSK carried the drama and made it as enjoyable as it was.
Wish Upon a Star was truly a delight to watch in the first half, or maybe three quarters of the way through. I loved watching the bickering between Kim Ji Hoon’s character Won Kang Ha and Choi Jung Won’s Jin Pal Gang, despite the fairweather chemistry between the two. I think Kim Ji Hoon was great in showing his character’s developing feelings for Pal Gang, but Choi Jung Won could’ve done a lot more to convey the love her character supposedly felt for Kang Ha for more than five years. There were tiny moments here and there where a glimpse of it shone through, but Choi Jung Won was disappointing overall in her portrayal of Pal Gang’s feelings for Lawyer Won. That was a huge problem I had with the last episode of the drama which aired today. The moment the credits rolled after the episode was over, the first thing that popped into my head was that I felt cheated. Episode 20 was a mish-mash of a whole bunch of random plot resolutions that were not tied together very well, and so the entire episode felt really disjointed and unorganized.
I understand that the writers wanted to emphasize Kang Ha’s change in personality over the course of the drama. Yes, we get it, Pal Gang had a huge impact on Kang Ha’s opening up and letting loose. Why make poor Kang Ha the one who’s doing all the work in the last episode? Pal Gang did not convey for one second throughout most of the episode that Kang Ha was the man she’s been in love with for half a decade. There was a shadow of it when Kang Ha was getting beat up at a crucial point in the episode while trying to get to her because she seemed frantic, but that’s about it. No tears at watching the man she loved get pummeled. Even the way she looked at him throughout the whole hour was bothersome. The expression on her face seemed exasperated most of the time, and she failed to add any affection at all.
I didn’t want this to turn into a rant so I’ll stop here, but the ending of Wish Upon a Star was a fail. Why add that blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene in the beginning of the drama of Kang Ha chasing after a mystery woman if they weren’t even going to touch upon that? What the heck happened to Lee Min Kyung? Why did Jun Ha suddenly forget he was in love with Pal Gang and suddenly run back to Jae Young’s side? And why, oh why did they have to throw in that awkward scene of another baby being abandoned on their doorstep and Pal Gang automatically adopting it into their family? I liked the idea of each of the kids being named after a color of the rainbow, but that last scene was a bit too much. It was as if the writers were so intent on the idea of having a complete rainbow that they just wrote in the first thing they thought of, not giving any thought to the possibility that it might be a little too obvious.
Okay, I’m really stopping here. While I was watching Pasta and Wish Upon a Star, I loved them both for different reasons. Pasta was great because of the relationship between GHJ and LSK, and Wish Upon a Star would not have been what it was if it weren’t for the kids. The scenes with the kids were great at pulling at our heartstrings and making us root for them, hoping for a happy ending for the family that had to endure so much in such a short amount of time. But the failure of an ending for WUAS nearly ruined the drama for me so I’d have to say Pasta was more of a treat to watch overall. I am now ready to welcome the new dramas that are going to air in the next couple of weeks. Oh, My Lady, Personal Taste, Cinderella’s Sister and Prosecutor Princess, don’t fail me now! 🙂
Along with a few other commitments, I’ve taken on translating episodes of Wish Upon a Star probably because it’s one of my favorites that I’m watching right now, and I thought translating would help me improve my limited repertoire of technical vocabulary that is used in institutions such as businesses and hospitals, since a lot of scenes are shot at the insurance company where the majority of our wonderful characters work.
Before I began translating for WUAS, I used to fast-forward through the scenes that portrayed the Jung family because each one of its members (excluding the crotchety yet lovable grandfather) annoyed the hell out of me. But now since I’ve taken on the task of translating, I need to watch each scene even more carefully than I would if I were just watching out of sheer pleasure, and this has led to me analyzing each of the characters much more in-depth.. especially the antagonists, or the “villains” of WUAS.
Let’s start with the obvious Jung Jae Young. I’m sure the majority of this is thanks to the actress who plays her, Chae Young In, but Jae Young is one of the clingiest, most pathetic female second leads I’ve seen in a while. Every time her botoxed face graces the screen, I roll my eyes because I’m sure that the scene will either be chock full of wooden attempts at emotion or full-blown hysteria over being ignored by Kang Ha yet again, as if it were something new to her even though it’s the only way he’s treated her for all their lives. Her pathetic character verged on the painful oh-my-god-shut-up territory in episode 12. I won’t get into detail, but it was during the conversation outside of the bar after she’d barged in demanding answers from our poor Kang Ha who only wanted to drown his sorrows in booze. I literally wanted to reach into my laptop screen and throttle her because she was giving us women a bad name. It’s one thing to pine away knowing that the man you love will never love you back. It’s another to get mad at him for being honest, albeit somewhat brutally, about the fact that he’ll never love you so move on. She’s the antagonist that you can’t help but pity because she’s so adamant about what she wants but you know she’ll never get it, and the lengths she goes to to try and get Kang Ha will ultimately lead to her digging herself into a hole.
Episode 11 saw the entrance of a new character into the drama and into our world of WUAS, and that character is Kang Ha’s hateful, manipulative gold-digger of a mother. Sorry for the lack of PCness, but the second she came up my eyes bulged and I wondered to myself what a tranny was doing arguing with my lovely Kim Ji Hoon. The fact that they cast such an unsightly person as the mother of someone so gorgeous is beyond me, but that’s something that I’ll gripe about on my own time. Here, I’ll gripe about how evil her character is, because boy oh boy, she’s evil. She voluntarily abandoned her child in favor of temp husbands who she used for money, and the moment she split up with one, she ran off in search of another. Once she got sick of divorcing, she came back into Kang Ha’s life and tortured the poor boy by goading him for money even though she threw him away decades before. She’s back now, and relentlessly torturing Kang Ha again for more money. I literally cringe every time the camera focuses on her because I hate her character oh-so-much. She’s the epitome of someone who’s spiteful to the core, completely focused on herself and what she wants. She embodies hedonism to the max, and doesn’t care who she hurts or what she has to do to keep that kind of lifestyle going. I’m just hoping that she won’t be around for much longer because I already want to slap that smug look off her face and it’s only the second episode since she’s been introduced to WUAS.
Lee Min Kyung and Jung In Gu. Jung In Gu not so much because he’s just the naive little puppy dog who follows the orders of the real mastermind, Lee Min Kyung. Min Kyung has had to deal with a lot throughout her life, and the consequences of all that are written all over her. She seldom smiles, she has an icy exterior to rival that of Iceman himself, and every move she makes is calculating. She doesn’t mean for her actions to be evil, but all that she’s had to endure in her life has made her ruthless and cunning in the way she goes after what she wants. I think that’s what makes this woman the scariest out of all the antagonists on WUAS, and I’m kinda anticipating to see what else she does to throw our lovely protagonist Jin Pal Gang topsy-turvy.
Like I said in a previous post, I’ve been keeping up with both Pasta and Wish Upon a Star with the former being a bit more enjoyable to watch, but Wish Upon a Star is slowly earning points in my book. I’m a sucker for feel-good dramas, and although Choi Jung Won’s character Jin Pal Gang has had to endure an insane amount of hardships in a very short time, the scenes of her and her siblings bonding through their misery make my heart feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Also, the actors and actresses that play the kids are all incredibly cute.
However, one lacking point that’s been bugging me a little bit is that there has been no character development for Kim Ji Hoon’s Won Kang Ha in four episodes. You’d think they would’ve shown us something by now, but nope, nothing. Nada. There was one brief, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it part in Episode 4 that hinted at some unresolved suffering from the past, but nothing worth much merit. I hope they get a move on and give Kim Ji Hoon’s lawyer character some depth or my irritation will continue to mount.
I was surprised with this drama because after watching the first episode, I debated with myself about continuing it. Choi Jung Won’s character Jin Pal Gang annoyed me to no end with her flighty, selfish character and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to endure sitting through fifteen more hours of her vapidness, but luckily, they moved the story along quickly, dumping everything on Pal Gang to deal with at once. Some might think that was mighty harsh and almost impossible for Pal Gang to get through, but I think all that she went through in a span of a few days was just what she needed to wake her up and bring her back to reality. If she hadn’t lost her parents and been left with five children to raise, she might never have snapped out of it. I also love Park Ji Bin’s character, Ju Hwang. I’m not sure Pal Gang would’ve been able to survive without Ju Hwang’s help, and Park Ji Bin displays a sincerity in his acting of Ju Hwang that I really appreciate.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the relationships builds between Jin Pal Gang and Won Kang Ha, and how the storyline progresses. Bring it on, Wish Upon a Star! 🙂