So disturbing that I literally can’t stop watching. I guess religious cult is in season this year, with it being the theme of the new AHS too. Save Me tells the story of Sang Mi and her family who becomes deeply and terribly involved with a religious cult deep in a rural S. Korean town. Her family moved to the rural town to escape debt and the struggles of living in the city. The only kindness they were shown were by the local church of the area, who unfortunately completed creeped Sang Mi out. However, the rest of the family were pretty oblivious to the fishyness of the church. Poor Sang Mi and her twin brother were victims of bullying at their new schools to the point where her twin brother ended up committing suicide. With the brother’s suicide, another pair of high school boys tragedy began as well. Dong Cheol and Sang Hwan were best friends, however their friendship splintered when only one of them helped Sang Mi in the bullying incident that resulted in death. However, this spiraled out of control to the point where Dong Cheol ended up in jail and Sang Hwan had unintentionally betrayed his friend by not testifying at his trial (in accordance to his father’s wishes). With the Sang Mi family completely broken and vulnerable, the church took the opportunity to take advantage of their broken spirits. The completely won over the father, who had pretty much given up on his role as the provider and protector of his family. He ended up bringing his family to live with the church and their whole life became attached to the church. Sang Mi had to quit school and service the church. However, in every opportunity she tries to escape the church, even resulting in violence to try to run away. Unfortunately, she is captured and brought back into the fold multiple times. After several years of misery, her plight finally catches the eye of the schoolboys that had been involved in her family’s tragedy.
Wow, OCN cuts no corners with this amazing drama. I am surprised with such a religious country that they are airing this show without any drama or bans. It is very extremist towards and religion and so realistic that it is frightening and even sickening. I wonder how it affects the drama ratings. Sang Mi portrayed by Seo Yi Ji is wonderful in her role of the enduring heroine who tries to stay sane in such a crazy environment. A lesser will would have been completely broken in her situation. While Sang Hwan played by Taec is touted as main lead, I actually prefer Dong Cheol’s story. His arc is more tragic as the young kid who is shafted by society because he was born into a poor family. His will of steel and his raw emotions are amazing to watch and Woo Do Hwan does an excellent job with this character. I am thoroughly creeped out and impressed by Jo Wan Tae’s acting as Apostle Jo. He plays a disgusting creep who tries to prey on Sang Mi. The whole cult is portrayed so terrifyingly devoted and insane to a normal person’s view. I really hope that Sang Mi is saved by her past friends soon!
Power couple with a power remake. I love profiling criminal investigation dramas. Criminal Minds, the Korean version, is pretty amazing and surprisingly graphic. I haven’t watched the American version, so I have nothing to compare it to other than past crime K-dramas. Lee Joon Gi plays Hyun Joon, a past explosives expert who is recruited into the profiling team after collaborating with the core profiling team during an investigation. While Hyun Joon is the emotional one of the group, Sun Woo played by Moon Chae Won is the rational and logical one of the group. The rest of the team comprises of a cold as ice boss with PTSD, a super genius, a genius hacker, and savvy PR team leader. This well oiled machine investigates serial killers and their different motives in order to prevent the next victim from dying. While each episode is it’s own case, there are a few larger cases intertwined that haven’t been quite solved or has gone awry. However, there is never a dull moment as our team gets involved with these dangerous situations.
I really adore Joon Gi and Chae Won as they are both amazing actors. Furthermore, the team dynamics are really entertaining when everybody’s talents and personalities shine through. I’ve always had a deep interest in the human psyche, especially criminology and they psychology behind the crimes committed. It is disturbing and frightening how evil humanity can get. So this drama is right up my analyzing alley! Plus, its cathartic when the criminals get caught! I hope this gets several seasons!
A rare breed has appeared! We don’t often get to see sci-fi kdramas! Or at least ones as amazing as this where I finished it in 2 days! Circle tells the story of fraternal twins, Woo Jin and Bum Gyun. However, the drama is split into two timelines. One is set in 2017, after the twins grew up and are in their college years. The other timeline is fast-forwarded another 20 years into the future where S. Korea has completely changed due to technology and pollution. During their youth, the twins encounter an alien, who takes on the form of Byul/Jung Yeon. She possesses a form of advanced technology which allowed her to view her memories in a video format. However, this knowledge was too dangerous for the world to handle, so the twin’s father decided to erase her memories and let her start a new life as a regular human girl. However, this did not sit well with his fellow researchers who were desperate for the knowledge. The father ended up disappearing while the twins grew up while enduring a rough life. Bum Gyun was convinced that the alien had made his father disappear and dedicated his whole life into finding her. He ended up in a psychiatric hospital as well as jail several times due to his fanaticism. However, Woo Jin tried to forget what happened in his past and was just struggling to survive. He was the sole breadwinner of his family while still keeping up top grades. He sacrificed social life in order to garner every chance of study or money making opportunity. The twins had a hard time getting along as Woo Jin was always having to chase after his brother who would wander off trying to find the alien. It got to the point where Bum Gyun was eventually kidnapped! Meanwhile in the future timeline, Bum Gyun as Kim Joon Hyuk, a detective who has been searching for his younger brother for the last 10 yrs. He has no memories of his past life and only knows about himself through a video footage of Woo Jin’s memories. In the future, Korea has become inhabitable because of dust levels and a new Smart City had been created. In this city, everyone has a chip in their brain that helps regulate extreme emotions which results in a boasted no-crime rate. However, the chip has a more sinister use of being able to delete a person’s memories. Thus, in the two timelines, each brother is searcing for the other frantically!
A beautifully intertwined story that have two parts that are mirror reflections of each other. I loved both timelines equally as each story was heartwrenching and full of emotion/intrigue. Yeo Jin Gu is one of the best young male actors of his generations. He is able to portray that deep seated angst and frustration. He makes each scene incredibly intense and when it culminates into finally meeting his brother, I bawled! Meanwhile, Kim Kang Woo as the older Bum Gyun was excellent as well. I have always loved his action acting and he has the same type of intensity as Jin Gu. He was always able to draw on his younger counterpart’s character so that it was a seamless transition! I also enjoyed Gong Seung Yun who played Jung Yeon/Bluebird/Byul. She performed her alternating stoic alien personality versus her human self roles perfectly. While the filming was not high budget, the acting really upgraded the drama. I don’t usually fall in love with dramas that fast nor finish them in 2 days! However, this thriller really kept me clicking the next episode with each cliffhanger!
My dream team casting has come into fruition! I have always wanted to see Yoo Seung Ho and Kim So-Hyun as the main leads in a drama. I have watched them grow up from being child actors in dramas to the amazing young actors that they are today. Despite their age, they sometimes out-act older actors! In Ruler, Seung Ho plays a young crown prince who has lived life in anonymity due to the price on his life. The King, his father, had made a deal with a powerful group called the Pyunsoo in order to access the throne and have a peaceful rule. However, the price of such rule was to privatize the water system in Joseon and give them sole power over it. This deal was terrible to the commoners because the water would grow to outrageous prices during drought. Furthermore the corrupt Pyunsoo group decided to divert water wells as well which jacked up water prices even more till the point people were dying because of the lack of water. The group hoped to make the new crown prince a puppet as well. Thus,Crown Prince Lee lived most of his life under a mask to protect his identity. However whoever saw his face would be immediately killed. Once naïve young man, he soon discovers the state his people are in during a venture outside of the kingdom. He is heartbroken that his safety was the cause of such poverty and illness in the commoner’s lives. After accidently becoming involved in a brawl, a young Ga-Eun saves him. She is the daughter of a town official and is very interested in medicine. These two develop a tentative friendship, but without Ga-Eun knowing his true birthright. The Crown prince, knowing that the public did not know his face had ventured out without his mask on, masquerading as a messenger boy. Meanwhile, another young man who is also called Lee Sun, becomes acquainted with the Crown Prince. He is Ga-Eun’s friend and a peasant, but he is eager to learn and educate himself. After a terrible situation where both Lee Sun’s and Ga-Eun’s fathers are killed because of the Pyunsoo group, Crown Prince Lee Sun suffers a mental and heart breakdown. He is both angry and aggrieved that the king and him are so powerless against the Pyunsoo group. Therefore, he decides he wants to spy in Pyunsoo group with the peasant Lee Sun as masquerading as him, the Crown Prince in the palace. These three form a tight friendship, but with poor Ga-Eun not knowing the Crown Prince’s real identity. Furthermore, during this time, Hwa Goon, the Pyunsoo’s leader’s granddaughter, had fallen in love with the Crown Prince after he saved her life when she trespassed in the palace. While she is often terrifyingly manipulative, her soft spot for the Crown Prince puts her at odds with her grandfather.
Secret Romance is the epitome of a cheesy romantic comedy, but one that we will always watch anyways no matter how clichéd the plot is. With the same manga style and steamy kisses as 1% of Anything (the new one), the drama is a cute watch. Secret Romance tells the love story between Lee Yoo Mi and Cha Jin Wook, two people who had a one night stand as a result of several coincidences. Yoo Mi had a rough childhood of bullying due to her mother being an erotic actress. She did not have much self-esteem and just wanted to find a career path and love. Jin Wook is your usual immature and spoiled chaebol who needed to be beat into shape before entering the work force. Through a heart to heart with the help of a bottle of wine, these two connected on a deeper level. As a result, they had a one night stand on the beach. However, she was scared about what had happened and ran away in the morning. He was left with her bra pads as a souvenir of their tryst, bra-rella (Cinderella?). Fast-forward three years later, Yoo Mi has become the nutritionist for a big company cafeteria. The company just happens to be owned by a now mature and hard working Jin Wook. Jin Wook has a childish grudge against Yoo Mi because she left him hanging that fateful morning and he uses petty ways to get back at Yoo Mi. Yoo Mi tries to ignore him as best as possible as she remembers their night clearly, but doesn’t know how he feels about it. She was forced to prepare meals specially for him 3 times a day to get him to eat better as Jin Wook had already fainted due to malnutrition. It turned out that our haughty director was actually pining away for Yoo Mi. The rest of the story follows these two naïve lovers as they fumble to reconnect again.
A newbie, but a cutie, Sung Hoon played his role perfectly and pretty much carried the show. The first drama I ever saw him in, New Tales of Gisaeng, he played a similar type of male lead. This is like an elevated version of the previous. He has grown more handsome, more skilled in acting, and dare I say, a better and hotter kisser as well. As for Yoo Mi, played by Song Ji Eun, I believe she has a room for development. I absolutely love her singing skills, but she reminds me of a deer in headlights in this drama. However, half of this may be due to how her character is written too. In the second half of the drama, I also had wished that they had followed through with the “mistaken son” plot line to make it into a real story. That would have set this drama apart more from the rest of its genre. However, I will take this drama as it is, a cute and easy 13 episode watch.
Music dramas are tough and go for me. Some of them really capture my interest in Monstar, while others slip off my radar. I am not quite sure about Liar and His Lover yet. Based on a Japanese manga, this drama features the relationship between a young music producer and a high school student who loves to sing. The Liar is the young music producer, Han Gyul, who only cares about making beautiful music while being tactless and heartless about other people’s feelings. He used to be part of a band called Crude Play until he decided that writing the songs were more important. His band and him ended up being extremely popular and successful. However, he hides his identity from the public. Meanwhile, the lover is So Rim, a cheerful high school senior who loves to sing, but experienced trauma in her childhood that prevents her from singing in on stage. While her band and her audition for many companies, she always freezes up on stage when she remembers what happened in the past. Her parents had died in a freak subway accident during her singing recital. One day, she coincidently meets Han Gyul who was looking for inspiration on a new song. He ends up recording his song on her phone because he didn’t have his with him. She ends up loving this song and falling in love with him. The song made her feel special and happy. She decides to play by the Han River everyday with her band until her meets him again. By luck, she does meet him again, but doesn’t recognize that he is a producer. He lies to her and says he is a inexperienced composer while trying to get her to delete the song. This song was suppose to be the title track for his band and had not been released yet. These two become entangled in a messy web lies. So Rim has a sincere heart towards him while he is just trying to accomplish his goals.
The premise is cute and the music attracts me, but it doesn’t have quite the pull for me yet. I enjoy watching child actor Lee Hyun Woo grow up and getting more main lead roles. He has such a baby face still that sometimes its still hard for me to picture him in older roles. However, he is a decent actor who is able to emote well. As for Joy of Red Velvet, I quite enjoy her breakout performance. Even though she is an idol actress, she is pretty good and even better than some idols who have been acting for a while. It is still two episodes in so I look forward to seeing her grow in her acting skills. Furthermore, I would really love to hear her voice in more songs. Red Velvet is one of my favorite girl groups and all the members have really lovely voices. On an appearance and age level, the main leads definitely fit each other. I think the drama will be a cute and fluffy experience.
So I watched the Japanese version of Liar Game many years ago before the Korean version came out. After the hype of the Korean version, I thought I must check it out! The story is quite similar between the two with some extra twists in the Korean version. The Korean version features Da-Jung, a naïve and way to kind girl who is struggling in society, after her father left her a huge gambling debt. One day, she finds her self +500million dollars courtesy of trying to help out an old lady. However, this money is actually a set up for her to enter a game show called Liar Game. Liar game pits people against others in a competition for large sums of money. However, the key of the game is deceit and manipulation. This is something that Da-Jung really lacks. However, fortunately she is able to get help from expert con-man and past professor, Woo Jin. Woo=jin had just spent a stint in jail for being suspect of killing a man. However, he had not killed this man, but rather brought his company down because it had ruined his mother’s life. Da-Jung reminded Woo Jin of his late mother which encouraged him to help her. Later he finds out that her father’s debt is actually his fault as he had manipulated the stocks that her father had bought. Now it isn’t just chance that both of them get roped into the game. The host of the game, Do-Young, is actually manipulating everyone to his own plan. He wants to see the ugly side of everyone, especially in the face of greed.
While this drama received many good reviews and hype, I could only get through 8 episodes of it before having to drop. This is also after a second attempt at watching it. However, I do find it better than the Japanese version. Perhaps it is my severe annoyance at Da Jung whose “naiveness” or kindness is honestly just stupidity to me. She lets everyone walk over her and does not learn from her past mistakes. I suppose that is what makes her so innocent and encourages everyone to protect her. However, it is just exasperating to me. As for Woo-Jin, I do love Sang-Yoon the actor, and he plays decently enough in the drama. As for Do young, played by Shin Sun Rok, that is what really shined in this drama for me. He is an excellent villain who you just don’t know what he is going to do next. While half the time he seems surprised at the outcomes, in reality he had already planned for it. The games they play are really interesting and thoughtful. For me, perhaps it was just not the right timing again. But don’t let this deter you from watching the show. It is definitely a different feel and format!
Action, Spies, Thriller, Entertainment, GO~ Reminiscent of K2, Man to Man is like the comedic version of it. Touted as the new Netflix foray into the Korean entertainment industry, I am just hoping they won’t knock off the airing schedule and free subtitles! Man to Man tells the story of a ghost spy named Kim Sul-Woo. He is an expert spy who has been on many missions with his latest one being to infiltrate a hidden mansion in Europe to find a hidden figurine. This figurine is of upmost important to huge companies in Korea and the politics attached to the upper crust society. However, to do this, he must become the bodyguard of a popular action movie star. The owner of the mansion loves this movie star and had invited him to the mystery home for a party. Said movie star is Woon Gwang, a notoriously hard to get along with man who is a dramatic flair. Sul-Woo with his charm manages to instill himself next to the movie star to the consternation of Do-Ha, the star’s manager. Do-Ha is Woon-Gwang’s utmost fangirl and a little on the psychotic end. She is completely distrustful of Sul-Woo’s intentions which are ironically correct as he has ulterior motives. However, again and again, Sul-Woo proves himself worthy to be the bodyguard and saves them from several awkward situations. With half the drama being comedy and the other half action, it is an interesting mix of a drama that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Dark crime or law dramas are again right up my alley. I find it especially interesting to see the cat and mouse game between an intelligent villain and our hero. Innocent Defendant is about Jeong Woo, a prosecutor who ends up waking up in jail with no memories of the previous four months. Jeong Woo was a successful and dogged prosecutor who was not afraid to dig deep into cases and even put himself in harms way to crack a case. However, he buried his nose too deep in a murder case committed by Cha Min Ho, the twin brother of a conglomerate heir. Cha Min Ho is a playboy twin who ended up killing a golddigger in a drunken fit. Instead of owning up to his crimes like his brother told him to, he ends up killing his twin brother to take his place. He had always been jealous of his twin, Cha Seon Ho who was the apple of his father’s eye and heir to the conglomerate. Min Ho decides to push his brother off the building and become him when Seon Ho died. He used the cover story that the brother who had fallen was actually him and that he had committed suicide out of guilt. Of course, Jeong Woo suspects something foul is at play because he thinks that Min Ho is not the type to commit suicide. Jeong Woo ends up finding out that Min Ho is actually alive and pretending, but he has no evidence to prove it. One day after his daughter’s birthday, he wakes up the next morning in a jail cell. He doesn’t remember what has happened and thinks that something is playing a trick on him. He is told that he is on death row because he had somehow killed his loving wife and daughter. They are unable to find his daughter’s “body”, and he is unable to remember what exactly has happened. Apparently he has been having these repeat losses of memory in jail for the past four months with the gaps getting larger and larger. Jeong Woo is furious and heartbroken as he cannot remember and accept what is going on.
I love a good thriller and mystery. Ji Sung is one of my favorite actors as he has one of the most expressive faces I have ever had the pleasure to watch. He definitely throws his entire being into the role. His anguish is so hard to watch. Juxtaposing him is another fantastic actor, Uhm Ki Joon. I have seen him in more villainous roles and he plays them to a “T”. The more evil his character is, the better his acting becomes. Not only does he play one character, but he plays two, or even three (if you count him pretending to be his brother). As for the female leads in the story, I have no reads on them yet except for the quick appearance of Yuri. So far, the drama seems to be an on your seat thriller that will keep me guessing as what is really going on. I hope that Jeong Woo will be able to recover some of his memories and be able to go against Min ho soon!
In a way, this drama reminds of Signal, but only with the time travel part. Otherwise, it is another fascinating drama by OCN based on the Hwaseong Murders. To give a little background, the Hwaseong Murders is a famous case that was never solved in S. Korea. Several women ranging from ages 14- 70 were strangled by their own clothing by a serial killer. Tunnel features a homicide detective in the 1980s who is in the middle of investigating a series of murders where the victim is strangled by her own pantyhose and the ankles are dotted in the order they were killed. After several false leads, detective Gwang-Ho manages to catch a glimpse of a mysterious man in a tunnel. While running after said man, he is knocked out on the head with a rock by the man. When he wake up and tries to get out of the tunnel, he ends up walking into another world. This world is the same as his, but 30 years in the future. He is extremely confused as to what is going on and tries to make sense of it by going to his police station. He pretends to be an officer with the same name, but his experience gives him away. Coincidentally, a junior officer of his has now become chief at the same station. His junior officer recognizes his friend that had disappeared 30 years ago. In the past, his body is never found and his team is disbanded after the tragic event. Together, in the future, they try to make sense of what has happened, where Gwang-Ho’s wife is, and how to get back to his time. Of course, adapting to the new traditions at the police station is difficult. He ends up clashing with Sun Jae, an extremely smart detective who is also quite abrasive. Joining the bunch is Jae-Yi, a criminal psychologist who lends her expertise to the homicide unit.