Liar Game: Dirty Money

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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!

Man To Man: Bromance Level

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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.

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Innocent Defendant: Prison Break

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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!

Tunnel: Time Slip

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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.

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Whisper: Dark Intentions

 

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While I do admit that this drama is a little over dramatic at times, I nonetheless am still interested. Following her husband Ji Sung, Lee Bo Young is also part of a drama where the corrupt upper crust of society uses power and money to get their way and out of illegal doings. However, Bo Young plays Young Joo, a police officer whose father is wrongly accused of murdering a informant. While her father’s trial seemed to be going well at first due to a just judge, it quickly went down hill as the judge gave in to the dark side. The judge, Dong Joon, had been once known for his morals and justness while standing up to the upper crust. He had refused to let those with money bully him into changing verdicts and refused all bribery. With this, Young Joo, had thought she would get a fair trial for her father and she even brought concrete evidence to supplement her father’s innocence. However, Dong Joon eventually was backed into a corner where he would loose his entire career and never get reappointed as a judge if he didn’t give in to Chairman Il-hwan. The Chairman was the head of a famous, but also infamously corrupt law firm that helped the rich get away things. Dong Joon tried with all his might to resist being influenced, but ultimately, he joined hands to save his career that he had worked so hard for. Heartbroken and furious, Young Joon who was now fired for meddling in the case, decided to get her revenge. She filmed a video where it appeared that a drunk Dong Joon had raped her and used this to blackmail him into helping her get her father free. Dong Joon, who had now become a lawyer at Taebek, the law firm was backed not only into a corner by his in-laws, but also by Young Joon. He has no one to turn to and must get out of this web of evil, but at what sacrifice?

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Strong Woman Do Bong-soon: Pint-sized Strength

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AHHHH so cute. CUTE! Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon is such a lovely fluffy drama with a surprisingly dark streak. I guess the trend these days is to have serial killers in your dramas with each one getting creepier than the one before. Park Bo Young plays Bong Soon, a girl with supernatural strength. However, she can only use that strength for the greater good or else she would break out and lose her powers. Bong Soon has a hard time controlling her power at times which leads to funny hijinks. One day she witnesses an event where a group of gangsters were bullying a bus driver and a group of preschoolers. She uses her strength to beat them up to the point where they end up in the hospital. Funny thing is that Ahn Min Hyuk, young and rich CEO of a game company witnesses this entire interaction and decides to hire her as his bodyguard. Over the past few weeks, he had been threatened by a an unknown caller who is threatening to ruin his company if he decides to inherit his father’s conglomerate. While hesitant at first, Bong Soon ends up taking the job because her dream is to become a game developer. Soon a love triangle ensues as Min Hyuk falls for her, but pretend to be a homosexual so that she can stay over at his house as a proper lady. Of course, she mistakens him as having the hots for her crush, a young police officer that she grew up with. Guk Du, the police officer doesn’t know about Bongsoon’s strength and thinks she is a childhood that needs to be protected. While this sounds all fun and games, the dark area of the show comes from a serial killer/kidnapper that is terrorizing Bongsoon’s neighborhood. The kidnapper has been taking young girls and trapping them in his jail cells as his brides. Bongsoon becomes a witness later on as the kidnapper tried to take her friend.

All three main leads are actors and actresses that I adore. They are expressive and wonderful at acting. Most importantly, they have great chemistry with each other considering the unique love triangle that we have. Whenever Bong Soon uses her strength, its quite funny considering the situations she gets herself into. Bong Soon and Min Hyuk also have a great relationship that you usually don’t see in a kdrama. Min Hyuk isn’t a complete jerk and finds this strong girl in his life very attractive. They work on building a strong foundation in friendship. They also push each other to be better and supports each other in times of need. Of course, my previous Ji Soo playing Guk Du is so adorably obliviously cute and in love with Bong Soon as well. Even Guk Du and Min Hyuk have good chemistry together even if they are always alpha fighting. I just hope to see Guk Du’s astonished reaction to when he finds out that Bong Soon is stronger than he thought. This drama has all the goodies, light fluffiness and dark crime.

Voice – Tuned In

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After vacationing for three weeks, I finally finished my winter Korean dramas. However, oddly enough, I haven’t been in the mood much to start a new batch of dramas. It may also be due to the fact that I am marathoning through Vampire Diaries. Voice, though, is the only one so far, that I have started for this spring. This drama tells the story of Jin Hyuk, a ex-detective who lost his wife to a serial killer. However, before she had died, she had called the emergency response center. They could not get to her in time. The woman who had responded to her call was Kwon-Joo. Kwon-Joo had the special talent of sensitive hearing due to an illness when she was younger. Everyone thought the culprit was a certain male and no one would listen to the details she gave because it did not match the person she caught. The tragedy of the event changed their lives forever. Jin Hyuk went on a three year bender while Kwon Joo decided to improve her skill set in America. Fast forward three years, Kwon Joo comes back to revamp the emergency response system. She wants to create the Golden Time team where an emergency team of police officers are dispatched and apprehend the perpetrator within ten minutes. She wants Jin Hyuk to head the team, but to his reluctance the ridicule of the entire police department. Furthermore, she is still searching for the killer who had murdered Jin Hyuk’s wife. Slowly, through multiple cases, these two manage to work together and save several people. Jin Hyuk finds out about her special ability and trust begins to develop between them.

OCN, this trusty cable network, always has gritty crime dramas that are right up my alley. Jang Hyuk is a talented actor who portrays Jin Hyuk’s doggedness and fierceness very well. Of course, I also missed his insane laugh from Fated To Love you. He has a talent for playing intense characters. As for Lee Ha-Na, this is my first drama with her. She plays a decent character who is actually strong in her own right in a world run by men. She doesn’t take any nonsense or ridicule from the men in her workplace and puts her foot down to get what she needs. I appreciate this type of female character that you don’t get to see a lot in a crime drama. As for the culprit, I have a good idea of who is playing him. However, the show throws out several red herrings which makes me wonder if there is a bigger twist. I of course had suspected his partner for playing a part in the tragedy, but who knows? I love these kind of shows that keep you on the edge of your seat and guessing.

 

 

 

Solomon’s Perjury: Truth Trials

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Dark and thoughtful (with a dose of sociopathy), just the way I like them. Solomon’s Perjury is definitely reminiscent of White Christmas, the short little series a few years ago that broke out a lot of popular actors today including Kim Woo Bin, Kim Young Kwang, Lee Soo Hyuk, Sung Joon, and Hong Jong-Hyun, just to name a few. I hope that Solomon will also highlight the new generation of acting talent by featuring some not as trendy popular actors/actresses. To get to the nitty gritty, Solomon is about high school students taking a death investigation into their own hands to uncover the truth for which the parents seem to be wanting to cover up.  In the beginning of the drama, we meet So Woo, a quiet young kid who got into a fight with the school bully, Choi Woo-hyuk. Choi Woo-Hyuk nearly kills So-Woo during the fight, but everyone is to afraid to speak up. It’s beacuase Choi’s father also happened to be extremely powerful in society and whoever crossed his family ended always up squashed. With Choi’s family pressuring So Woo to admit that he instigated the fight, So Woo decided to quit school instead. However, it is hinted that So Woo has knowledge of another of the Choi family’s weaknesses and was in a shaky spot regardless. Unfortunately a few weeks later, his body is found in front of the school, buried in the snow. Two students, Seo Yeon and Joon Young are the first ones to discover the body of their classmate. While the police and school hurry to close the case as a suicide, the circumstances of his death were a little suspicious. Both Seo Yeon and Joon Young are traumatized by this event and ended up bonding over the situation. Joon Young’s life at home has also been hard due to his abusive mother and he had contemplated ending his life at one point as well. However, with Seo Yoen’s support, he decides to keep on enduring. One day, a letter is delivered to Seo Yeon’s house because her father is a detective who was on this case. The letter accused Choi Woo Hyuk and his cronies of pushing So Woo to his death, making the case now a violent homicide instead of a suicide. Of course this spurs on more rumors in the school and this opens the investigation back up to the consternation of the school and Choi family. To the students, it seemed that the adults were doing a slipshod investigation and they want to find the real truth. Fortunately, at this school, an anonymous person called the Watchman seemed to take interest in spurring the student population in opening up their own investigation.

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Hwarang: Beautiful Knights, Literally

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While admittedly I do have a full drama plate right now, I am not adverse to lopping a healthy dose of dessert right on top. But if I really need this dessert that is Hwarang still remains to be seen. Hwarang is full of gorgeous eye-candy….but it hasn’t hit that addictive spot for me yet. This is not say it won’t as it continues to air. Set in the Kingdom of Silla (for once, not Goryeo!), this drama tells the story of three main characters. The first is Moo Myung, a lone wolf of sort, who is incredible at fighting. He has a heavy sense of justice and goes around helping his adoptive brother find his real father. However, they must cross into the capitol city where peasants such as them, are not allowed. While they finally sneak into the capitol, they unfortunately get into several spots of trouble to the point where his adoptive brother is tragically murdered. Moo Myung is traumatized by the death of good friend and brother and vows to hunt down the one responsible. Meanwhile, Maek Jong, the future king of Silla sneaks into the capitol and is laying low due to the great number of assassins after him. His mother is the regent of the kingdom, but seems power hungry and does not want to relinquish her power ot him. Maek Jong is bitter and feels powerless as his mother orders the people beside him to kill whoever sees his father. Unfortunately, this is how Moo Myung’s brother dies for which Moo Myung wants revenge for. Our last leg of the trio is Ah-Ro, the sister of Moo Myung’s adoptive brother. Because of her family’s fall from grace and her birth from a servant mother, she has not status in the city and goes around spinning tales to earn money. She not only encounters Moo Myung, but also Maek Jong on her daily adventures. At this time in the kingdom, the queen decides to from Hwarang, a group of flower boys or knights to help inspire the people as well as protect the future king. We will see just how many nobles will clash in this new formation.

Do I need this drama or not is the question. Although I really want to be addicted to this drama, I just can’t seem to get into the groove of it yet. The first episode was slapsticky, whereas the second gave us a heavy dose of melo. The highlight for me so far was actually the cameo by Kwang Soo! He played Moo Myung’s adoptive brother. He is always so funny to watch and reminded me of his Running Man days. His death was definitely a tearjerker for me and I had wished he could stay longer. As for Park Seo Joon, while I was not a fan of his She Was Pretty, I really really want to like this drama. I believe this is his first period piece and who doesn’t love a little angstng from him? His story is compelling enough, but as for the rest of the plot, it still remains to be seen. I feel like the search for “flower boys” feels a little slapsticky and nonsensical to me, but hey, who is to deny the feast for my eyes? I just don’t know what is is, but I feel like our trio is better suited to modern dramas? They are all capable actors and actresses for sure, but something just not quite there yet for me. However, since this is only episode 2, this is one of those dramas where I am inclined to give it another go.