Mad Dog: Call My Bluff!

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This is my bread and butter, peeps! Good old procedural, crime, squad goals! Some people find small story episodes annoying, but I love seeing all these different cases! Mad Dog tells the story of Kang Woo and Min Joon, two alphas of their field who are tied together by a common tragedy. Kang Woo is the head of Mad Dog, an agency that catches scam artists who commit insurance fraud. He used to be a former detective, but now he manages a team of specialists that help him expose these con artists whether that be through legal or more often illegal means. Before he quit being a detective, he experience a huge trauma. His wife and only son died tragically in an airplane that the pilot was using to commit suicide with. Coincidentally enough, the pilot’s younger brother was Min Joon, Kang Woo’s current competition. Min Joon is a genius swindler who seems have an ulterior motive and has been following Mad Dog closely. He at first seems to be working for the opposite team and naive-looking. However, his true cunning colors show as he is one step before Mad Dog in all their cases. They come to a head when Kang Woo and Min Joon make a bet on an insurance claim issue. Min Joon wins the first round, but shows his warmth by compensating the victims that he seemed to be against at first. Mad Dog are confused at his hidden motives and are not sure whether to trust him or not. However, it seems like he wants to cooperate and bring down these con artists as well!

Woo Do Hwan, my baby from Save Me is giving me another great performance as Min Joon, the young swindler. He has such a large range of emotions, some subtle, some expressive. I love how he can go from naive happy go lucky to cold one 1 sec. Kang Woo played by Ji Tae is a hard hitter too. I’ve always enjoyed his ahjussi roles as he delves into them deeply. Another member of Save Me, Jo Jae Yoon, is now on the moral right side of the squad! Though it looks like he can’t get away form that ex-convict character. He just plays it so well! I love his comedic timing! Mad Dog is shaping up to be an excellent though provoking piece as some procedurals always are. I hope to see a bromance between Kang Woo and Min Joon soon though!

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The Happy Loner: Is Not Really Happy

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Such a raw and beautiful special. I’m glad that I came upon this piece by chance. It really touched a place deep down inside. The Happy Loner in this story is Ji Young, who isn’t actually happy no matter much she pretends she is. A self professed individualist, Ji Young refuses to form relationships with other people around her including her neighbors, colleagues, and most importantly, her family. As a child, she was subjected to harsh words regarding her very existence and watched her parents get divorced. She decided she was better off on her own since her mother or father did not want her. However, over time she became numb to the world around her and would not open up to anyone, including to her ex-boyfriend. Meanwhile, her neighbor, Byuk Soo, is the complete opposite. He depends on the affection and acknowledgment of others. He wants to be loved and is so very clingy. Everyone always tries to shake him off. Of course, he tries to make contact with Ji Young who coldly shrugs him off. However, after he helped her with an embarrassing situation, cracks in the wall slowly started to form. While still keeping him at an arms length, she lets him in bit by bit. Eventually, he barges into her heart and home to try to crack her walls of steel. These two try to fill the gaps that the other one lacks.

I cried so much during this drama. As much as I don’t want to admit it, on a scale of Byuk Soo to Ji Young, I am more of a Ji Young. She tries her hardest to be complete by herself, but internally she years for affection just like the rest of her companions. I guess that is why I feel so much raw emotion during her moments of weakness and hurt. I yearn when she yearns for that sweet affection that Byuk Soo provides. This is not to say Byuk Soo was perfect. He is the most clingiest character I’ve seen who would make up a plan to barge into the life of the girl he likes. He had maturing to do as well. That is why I loved this piece so much is because it is a slice of life and very realistic characterizations. No relationship is perfect and everyone has weak points. However, if you work at them, you have a chance at happiness !

Live Up to Your Name, Dr. Heo: Reverse Reverse

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Time travel time! However, this time we are going back in forth between Joseon and Modern times. This drama tells the story of Dr. Heo Im and Dr. Yeon Kyung. Dr. Heo is a famous oriental medicine doctor in Joseon times who has cured many people using his acupuncture skills. However, he is money hungry and enjoys the fame/wealthy his skills have brought him. In an attempt to further his career, he tried to treat the king, but ended up messing up the treatment. He was chased by the royal police, shot by an arrow, and ended up thrown into the future of 2017. He is disoriented by the technology of modern times and is fascinated by the advancements in medicine. It is hilarious watching him figure out what to do in modern times. Meanwhile he runs into Dr. Yeon Kyung, a skilled cardiothoracic surgeon who is the granddaughter of an oriental doctor. However, due to a past trauma, she doesn’t trust oriental medicine and focuses entirely on how surgeries saves people lives. She is not good at comforting or flattering people, but is competent in her ability to save lives. Of course these two clash terribly and many misunderstandings happen. She doesn’t trust his skills and thinks he is creating chaos in her life. Meanwhile, he is just trying to get by in this new world. However, she soon gets a taste of her own medicine when they end up traveling back to Joseon when Dr. Heo is stabbed by accident. Now she is the fish out of water in the olden times and must be careful of her every action.

This drama is really funny almost to a point that is slapsticky. I was expecting a more Faith like approach, but I like this much better. I didn’t know that Kim Nam Gil could be so funny as I only see him in melos where he dies at the end. Kim Ah Joong as Dr. Yeon Kyung is so gorgeous. I really enjoy her portrayal as a doctor who is confident in herself. It is fascinating to watch the differences between oriental and western medicine. Of course oriental medicine doesn’t get as much credit as western medicine does these days, but I know it has its uses! As a ICU nurse, I am inclined to lean more towards the benefits of western medicines, I am interested in seeing the natural ways of how acupuncture and herbs can heal a patient as well. This drama is so heartfelt in the ways it portrays patient and physician dynamics. I look forward to seeing the hijinks of traveling back and forth in time!

School 2017: More Stars in the Making

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Yaaay for more School series drama! I absolutely love this new addition to the School series drama with of course School 2013 being my favorite still! School 2017 tells the story of Eun Ho and Tae Woon, juniors in a school where grades mean everything of course. Eun Ho is not a great student, but dreams to became a webtoon artist at a prestigious university. However, with the amount of demerits she accumulates at school and her poor family background, her future looks pretty bleak! Tae Woon is the disinterested son of the school director. He wields enormous power in the school, but he is actually working against the grain. He is student “X” who plays pranks on the faculty and school system when he deems things are getting unfair. These two come to a head when she figures out that is Student X when she becomes unfairly framed for his misdeeds. A deep friendship forms between the two as they help each other survive in such a messed up school system where the rich bully the weak and poor. Of course, this later develops into puppy love as they become each other’s support system. They also find out that they are more deeply involved in the past where Tae Woon’s other friend had taken the blame for a bus accident. This accident had broken the friendship between school president Dae Hwi and Tae Woon because their mutual third leg of the triangle died in the bus accident as well. They blamed each other for the incident and their misunderstandings alienated each other. Hopefully, their broken friendship can be mended with the help of Eun Ho who has a bright personality and fighting spirit.

Ah I have never watched a drama with Kim Se Jung. She is so so cute and has the most adorable eye smiles! I really enjoyed her portrayal of Eun Ho and can see her getting more lead roles after this drama. For Tae Woon, he is like the second coming of Kim Woo Bin. He plays a great bad boy with a softie heart. His smirks and expressions are so fun to watch. I loved the glimpse I saw of Kim Jung Hyun in Jealousy Incarnate, so I am super happy he is getting a lead role already. As for Dae Hwi played by Jang Dong Yoon, he is another young actor who is acting decently. He played a similar character to this one in his previous drama, Solomon’s Perjury. All three young teens are excellent developing actors and I know this drama will give them a leg up for future projects!

Save Me: Our Wishes Will Be Fulfilled

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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!

PS: Can every give Dong Cheol a hug? ❤

Criminal Minds: Korean Remake

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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!

Circle: Star Power

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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!

Ruler: Master of the Mask

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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.

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Secret Romance: One Night!

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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.