Cinderella and the Four Knights: The Eye Candy Overdose

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I think they could have found a better title.

The title is not that enticing because you expect  the basic Cinderella trope when the show adds several twists to the well known fairy tale.

Eun Ha Won is a high schooler who lives with her father, evil stepmother, and (evil and not so smart) step sister. The father is often on the road for work, and Ha Won isn’t spending quite as much time with him as she would want to.

What keeps her going despite the countless abuse from her stepmother and step sister? The thought of college. She has been juggling countless part-time jobs to be able to pay for her initial college deposit.

Ha Won dreams of becoming a teacher-something her late mother had wished for.

Things turn out for the worst when she realizes that she has to pay money for the storage of her mother’s ashes. Using almost all the money she had saved up, Ha Won goes ahead and pays to preserve her mother’s ashes.

Well our female lead is now broke broke broke. That’s when the Han’s family enters. The Han grandfather, the chairman of a large company, asks Ha Won to live in Sky House, which is where his three grandsons live. He will make sure that all her studies are paid for, and she is financially stable. Of course there is a price to pay. Ha Won must bring the three grandsons closer (Good luck Ha Won), which is not easy when the cousins can’t stand each other at all. Two of the cousins in particular – Ji Woon and Hyun Min are constantly at each other’s throats.

Let me describe each cousin in the grandfather’s own words:

  • Hyun Min is not someone who tries to spread love around him: He is a player.
  • Ji Woon is not someone who pushes boundaries, and refuses to be tamed: He is a thug.
  • Seo Woo is not a singer/songwriter: He is a good for nothing.

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Snow Lotus: Deeply Rooted

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Another modern saguek fusion like Splish Splash Love, but with a different take on reincarnation. Snow Lotus focuses mainly on two characeter’s lucid dreams about a past life in Joseon times. These dreams feel so real to them that they keep on trying to find connections in real life that pertain to them. Ji Jin Hee plays San Baek and Soo Hyun. San Baek plays the historical part of a commoner’s son who ends up becoming a scholar using a secret identity. Lee Ji Ah plays Yeong Dae and Yeon Hee. Yeong Dae is nobleman’s daughter who is skilled in swordplay and in an arranged marriage with her childhood friend Moon Jae. However, Moon Jae’s love is not reciprocated in her. Instead, Yeong Dae falls in love with San Baek which Moon Jae tries to break them up. Their love story ends in tragedy when Moon Jae accidentally kills Yeon Dae. Fast-forward in modern times, Soo Hyun is the CEO of a gaming company who ends up hiring intern Yeon Hee as a character designer. Yeon Hee, an artist masquerades as a man for a large part of the story due to certain circumstances during hiring. Both of them keep on dreaming similar dreams and searching for their counterparts. However, their happy reunion is cut short by Moon Jae’s modern reincarnation of Yoo Ri. As a punishment for killing Yeong Dae in the past, he is reincarnated as a woman who ends up being in love with Soo Hyun. Like her past counterpart, she throws Yeon Hee off the roof of a building in a fit of anger after Soo Hyun cancel’s their loveless marriage ceremony. Will history repeat itself in the form of a tragic ending?

As a two episode drama, it was a decent watch, but not give me the feels. I enjoyed the unique storyline of lucid dreaming and reincarnation, but was not feeling the chemistry as much between Jin Hee and Ji Ah. Perhaps a different pair of leads would have made the story more heartfelt? However, I feel there was a marked improvement of Ahn Jae Hyun from Blood to this saguek character here. His villainous role was very on point. I did find it interesting how the drama played up the genderbending portin of the story. For a large of the drama, when Jin Hee’s character did not know that Ji Ah’s character was a woman, Jin Hee’s character did not seem too bothered that he was in love with a man both in his dreams as well as in real life. I find that to be refreshingly progressive and different.

Divorce Lawyer in Love (이혼변호사는 연애중): Let the bickering begin

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Why?! Oh, why did it take me so much to watch this show?! Just finished 10 episodes in the span of two days.

Plot

Go Cheok Hee is a ruthless lawyer specializing in divorce cases. She lives to work and is always determined to win a case. Cheok Hee goes as far as creating evidences if needed and that’s exactly what will put her in trouble.

In order to help the celebrity Han Mi Ra obtain a divorce, Cheok Hee uses an illegal recording of Mi Ra’s husband cheating on her. The divorce is successfully completed, but Cheok Hee loses her lawyer license for malpractice. AngRY Cheok Hee thinks her office manager, So Jung Woo, sold her out. She goes ahead and vent her anger at the innocent Jung Woo and it’s the cherry on top of the cake when she dumps seaweed soup on him. Ooops, let me point out that it was Jung Woo’s birthday soup and the scene is caught by Jung Woo’s mother. Total humiliation. Of course, Jung Woo resigns. I wouldn’t stay either.

You think it couldn’t get worst for Cheok Hee? Well, it could and it does. Cheok Hee finds out that Mi Ra manipulated evidences. Mi Ra knew how fierce Cheok Hee was and no matter what she would obtain the evidence. Out of despair, Mi Ra’s husband kills himself, leaving a guilty and jobless Cheok Hee.

Fast forward three years later

Jung Woo is now Lawyer So and the manager of his office is no other than Cheok Hee. Things start on a sour note. Both hope that the other will quit. Too bad since both are convinced to stay by the law firm owner Bong Min Gyu.

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A Peek Into DID: Kill Me Heal Me vs. Hyde, Jekyll, Me

Here is two for one deal! I have officially completed Kill Me Heal Me and dropped Hyde, Jekyll, Me like it’s hot (stopped at ep.14). Kill Me Heal Me touched my heart in so many ways and I have never replayed so many parts of a drama. Meanwhile, while I love Hyun Bin and tolerate Han Ji-Min, I can no longer force myself to watch it.

KMHM Plot: I can definitely say, the right plot really breaks or makes a drama, especially if you have a similar airing drama to compare it to. What KMHM has is a touching and very tightly spun storyline following a pair of children from their tragic pass to how this affects them in the future. Add in exciting and unexpected twists is just the cherry on top which kept my yearning for the next set of episodes each week. Much of the time you are kept guessing at what really happened which is the point since the main character didn’t even know himself the true story of his past and could only assume at first what had occurred. The drama is literally about different perspectives and how just one act can be interpreted in so many ways, many facets just like Do Hyun himself. Even the ending was perfect and cathartic, a truly healing completion to a emotional roller coaster for the viewers and Do Hyun himself.

HJM Plot: Everything since pretty, fluffy, and dream like in the beginning which seriously drew me in. However, the drama is like a broken carousel (forgive my circus metaphors!). It spins colorfully in the beginning, but has no substance and soon you hear the slowed down and warped music as it comes to a complete stop. The premise sounded interesting as I was already watching the other DID drama, and I wanted to see another take on it, with fewer personality. While the DID Seo Jin backstory was fine including the tragic past with his friendenemy, the rest was really flimsy. First of all, the cops are SO INADEQUATE, loosing the villain a billion times with their ineptitude. Seriously, it bordered on farcical how stupid they were and how this was suppose to keep Tae Joo in play to add a somewhat interesting item to the plot. All the romance moving plot was really not and much like a parody instead of a romcom. Basically, a carousel that goes round and round and round when you wish it would just let you off and finish at ep16.

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A Final Word on Healer

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Not very often do I find a perfect drama, but I must say Healer hits all the spots for me. Finding brilliant gems such as this drama is what keeps me watching Asian dramas!

Plot: Healer does a wonderful job using a tight plot. What was seen at the beginning of the drama with what seems like a simple courier job is eventually connected and part of the intricate overarching plot. Loose ends are tied up, birth secretes are solved, and generations of family are reacquainted.

Characterizations: Fleshing out characters is an important part of a drama and makes us feel connected to the material we are watching. Healer, himself, is very complex. His past sufferings made him who he was, but at the end, he rose above it. While starting out working alone, he learns how to work with others and reintegrate into society. He is the flawed hero that decides to work on his shortcomings. Chae Young Shin is the definition of spunky, not your usual Candy type, but endearing and earnest. It was a joy seeing her rise above her own past sufferings and bounce back. For our support actors, Moon Ho and Ahjumma, they are also very fleshed out with their pasts and their motivation for what they do now. Even minor characters are introduced well and given meaning to the drama.

Acting: The acting is definitely A++ with all characters. Since this is my first Ji Chang Wook drama and knowning he has not produced too many other ones yet, I am astounded at the expressiveness of his acting. Flipping between his two roles of Healer, Bong Soo, and Joon-Ho, you can see the clear differences between each, but also how each of those characterizations is still himself. Park Min Young is still as cute as ever and also a lovely actress. I have never had a problem with her acting and am glad that it is still shining through in this drama. Yoo Ji Tae, veteran actor, does a great job supporting his younger counterpart. His restrained anger and inner pain made a great contrast to Ji Chang Wook’s action first, talk later. Our group of older radio broadcasters did a great job connecting our younger generation with the convoluted past.

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Marriage, Not Dating

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Original Title: 연애 말고 결혼

Episodes: 16

Year: 2014

Channel: tVN

Theme: Rom-com

Joo Jang Mi is in her late twenties-early thirties and like a lot of women at that age she feels the need to find her husband. She first sets her eyes on Lee Hoon Dong. Jang Mi and Hoon Dong have been seeing each other for quite some time now, but it’s always been in shady places. They are not official yet and that is something Jang Mi is trying to set straight. When Jang Mi introduces the topic of a more serious and steady relationship, Hoon Dong panics and runs! Hoon Doong starts avoiding Jang Mi hardcore – not picking up his phone, running away when he sees her, and the worst: asking his friend Gong Ki Tae to help him get rid of Jang Mi.

Jang Mi chasing after Hoon Doong gets her a reputation of stalker + a little trip to court where she faces STALKING charges T___T.

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Emergency Couple

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Original Title:응급남녀

Episodes: 21

Year: 2014

Channel: TVN

Theme: Rom-com

Oh Jin Hee and Oh Chang Min meet at the university. They are both studying in different fields of medicine – nutrition for Jin Hee and pre-med for Chang Min. They instantly connect and develop romantic feelings for each other. Nothing wrong with that so far… Problems arise when the two decide to get married. They are both very young and haven’t been dating for that long (At least that’s the impression that the drama gives). Plus Chang Min’s mother is the mother in law from hell (We will just call her MIL from now on). She has high expectations for her son since he comes from a prestigious family of doctors. He is also the only son and she has high expectations for him. Chang Min’s parents have been separated – not divorced – for quite some time now.

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Scent of a Woman

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Lee Yeon Jae (Kim Sun Ah) works in a tourism company. She spends her days picking the slacks of her co-workers. All that changes when she learns she has only six months to live. Yeon Jae realizes that she has never done anything she truly wanted since she was always saving for God knows what. The thought that she would never be able to spend that money haunts her and she decides to enjoy the last six months to the maximum. She drops her job, gets a makeover, and takes a trip.

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Heartless City

Original Title: 무정도시 / Moojungdoshi / Cruel City

Episodes: 20

Year: 2013

Country: South Korea

Channel: JTBC

Theme: Mystery, Suspense, Noir, Romance

               Plot: Cruel City (Heartless City), a 20 episode drama, flew mostly under the radar during it’s broadcast. In a similar vein, this dark noir piece talks of the seedy underbelly of a city where police and criminals are indiscriminate. The story starts with Jung Shi Hyun, better known as Doctor’s Son, who is a middle level boss in a cocaine drug  ring. Accompanied by his trusty right hand man, Soo, and beautiful yet deadly “aunt”, Jin Sook, his faction is a force to be reckoned with in the shady underworld of criminal organizations. On the other side, the legal side, we have Hyung Min and Soo Min. Hyung Min, son of a Prosecutor is a fiery young detective hell bent on crushing the cocaine rings in the city that ruined his brother. Soo Min is the younger “sister” of Hyung Min’s fiance. Though they don’t find out at first, Shi Hyun, Soo Min, and her sister had all grown up at an orphange together and Shi Hyun had been her sister’s best friend. After the tragic death of Soo Min’s sister with Shi Hyun present, Hyung Min mistakenly targest Shi Hyun as the killer of his fiance. What ensues is a cat and mouse game between Shi Hyun and Hyung Min.

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New Tales of Gisaeng

Original Title: 신기생뎐 / Shin Gisaeng Dyeon / New Gisaeng Story

Episodes: 52

Year: 2011

Country: South Korea

Channel: SBS

Theme: Romance, Makjang, Birth Secrets

        Plot: A huge 52 episode drama, New Tales of Gisaeng is as complicated as it is long. An intensely makjang piece, New Tales is an often overlooked gem. This drama focuses on the developing relationship between a young couple as well as the relationships of family and friends beside them. The story starts with the blossoming romance between Saran and DaMo, a young classical dancer from a poor family and the rich haughty heir to a company. While Saran keeps her dignity amongst her rich friends, DaMo lives looking down on women, a trait he had learned from his affection-less father. Intrigued by SaRan’s dignified demeanor, DaMo slowly opens up his heart to her and the two enter a clean relationship focused on honesty and trust. Though as all dramas will have it, SaRan encounters financial difficulty as well as learning that she was adopted. Coupled with a hurtful breakup with DaMo who lied because he was afraid of their status differences, SaRan makes drastic decision to enter a gisaeng house, Buyounggak.

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