Princess Agents: Wonder Woman

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Since you have probably noticed the large gap where there were no posts…let me tell you where I was at! I was on kdrama dry spell and decided to focus on watching just one cdrama, Princess Agents. Never happens right?

This drama had become my obsession for the last month. It has seriously topped my top cdrama! Princess Agents is about Chu Qiao, a assassin/spy who had lost her memories and ended up taken as a slave by a genius spymaster, Yuwen Yue. After almost getting killed through human hunting by the other princes of the city, she also attracts the interest of young Yan Xun, hostage son of Yanbei. Due to her several members of her adopted family being killed by the Yue household, she had decided to become a slave for Yue in order to get a chance to kill him. However, seeing the potential in her, Yue decided to train her to become a spy even at the risk of him being killed himself. As grand spymaster, he enjoyed manipulating the people around him and everything he does was not what it seemed. Chu Qiao found out that it was not Yue’s fault that her adopted brother and sister died. She cautiously warmed up to Yue and enjoyed his teachings. However, she knew that she needed to escape the slave life eventually when she could fend for herself.

During this time, she forms a friendship with Yan Xun who saves her time and time again from dangerous situations. She grudging accepts his help which delights sunny Yan Xun. Even though they had a class difference, he wished that he could take Chu Qiao back to Yanbei and marry her. However, the Emperor of Wei decides to get rid of his competition, Yan Xun’s father. He mercilessly slaughters Yan Xun’s entire family before he could escape. Meanwhile, Chu Qiao becomes strong enough to kill the elder who had made her siblings die. With prices on both of their heads, they were thrown in jail to be executed. Yan Xun suffers enormously as he is forced to see not only the decapitated heads of his family, but his mother commit suicide. He nearly loses his own life as well, but Chu Qiao rallies him up as he is pondering death. These two suffered through three more years of assassination plots and exile before being pardoned. Meanwhile, Yue is hindered by his elders and family, who forbid him to help the traitors and made him seem like he betrayed the two. A deep seated hatred began to develop between Yan Xun and Chu Qiao towards Yue. However, the emperor was not going to let Yan Xun go anyways, and plots to kill him on his wedding day where he uses his own daughter, the princess, to be wed to him. Yan Xun takes this chance to massacre the royal city and rebel against Wei. Chu Qiao, who is much stronger after years of hardship, helps him escape. However, Yan Xun is not the sunny prince of before, but has turned into a cruel, hard man who has no more mercy except towards Chu Qiao.

A long long series that I don’t want to end! I absolutely love Zhanilia as Chu Qiao who is able to pull of that cold spy type, but also show empathy towards the commoners. She is so skilled in fighting, her morals, etc, and its amazing to see such a strong female lead. She bests even the strongest opponent and fights for what she believes for instead of just following a man. As for Yan Xun, Shawn Duo, played him perfectly. I first fell in love with his sunny smile and playfulness in the beginning. He showed his true acting chops as he slowly became bent on revenge and that simmering rage is a sight o behold. To be honest, I feel like Chu Qiao and Yan Xun are the perfect OTP as they see things on a similar level. Yan Xun only cares about her and vice versa at this point. While Yue is toted as the main lead and is played by my favorite 14th prince of BBJX, I just really don’t see his OTPness with Chu Qiao. There are just not enough scenes with them and I can’t see that deep rooted bond as with the other couple. Perhaps, the later few episodes will turn the tide. As for now, I will enjoy my yummy dark Yan Xun.

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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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Empress of China: Wu Zetian

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I told myself I wouldn’t start it many times due to the long length of the drama, but I finally caved. The costumes of the Tang Dynasty are just so gorgeous that I couldn’t resist. Now I haven’t watched any of the actors or actresses in the drama before except for Janine Chang, so I really just came for the costumes. I am in the beginning of the drama at the moment, and so far Wu Ruyi, our main character has captured my heart. She has the makings of all the main lead females that I like. She is smart, witty, gorgeous, and a fighter. Wu Ruyi enters the palace as a “imperial wife”, one of the dozens that comes through each year. All the concubines wait eagerly for their chance to be with the emperor even for one night. However, Ruyi, just wants to eke out a living in the palace. By chance, she is able to meet the emperor one night and he becomes interested in her (not sexually). He thinks she has interesting ideas and a cute personality. Instead of sleeping with his other wives, he ends up spending time with her whether that be just talking or hanging out. Of course, as this is the royal harem, all the women get jealous. Not the regular kind of petty jealousy, but the vicious, I’m going to poison so you will never appear in front of His Majesty again. Poor Ruyi made only a few friends in the palace so far, but has already had some stab her in the back. She is also targeted by the higher up concubines who do not like a young thing usurping their power and the majesty’s attentions. However much torture Ruyi endures, she struggles through it and becomes stronger on the outside. She gives it back as good as she has got. She knows that she can’t rely on the emperor’s fleeting favor and has to fend for herself.

I ended up really liking this drama which is surprising because usually I dislike watching internal harem politics and the viciousness of women who are jealous. However, I enjoy how strong Ruyi is and I really couldn’t care less about romance in the story. I just want her to achieve more power and give it back as good as she got it. She is enduring so much pain and misunderstanding now that she can’t get revenge on. Although later we will know that all this hardship will harden her heart and will affect how she rules in the future. I really also hoping that some of the friendships she has made will last her most of her rule because it will be so lonely for her if at the top of her power, she has no one to share her happiness with. However, in such a dog eat dog world, it may be the just the closest ones to her that stab her the deepest. I don’t know how many episodes I will watch of the drama, but so far it had me watching 10 in one sitting!

 

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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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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The Princess Weiyoung

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My tastes in tradition Chinese dramas are very specific. I love the ones where the heroine surpasses her peers in either intelligence or martial arts, or even better, both. Princess Weiyoung hits all of those points and has a perfect cast to match. Tiffany Tang plays Xin Er, the princess of the Northern Dynasty whole is loved by all for her intelligence and kindness.

However, one day, the Jiang Clan of Northern Wei decides to take it upon themselves to overthrow Xin’er’s family so that they can enjoy the power instead. Much blood is spilled and Xin’er’s entire family is completely wiped out except for her and her personal bodyguard. While on the run, Xin Er is saved by the illegitimate daughter of the Imperial Tutor. Weiyoung is shunned by the Jiang family because her mother is of low birth. Her family tries multiple times to assassinate her so that she is unable to go to the main house. Thus, she lives her life in the countryside and ends up dying while defending Xin Er from harm.

As a result, Xin Er decides to take over Weiyoung’s identity and get revenge both for her friend and the deaths of her family. She survives numerous attempts on her life by the Jiang family and eventually moves into the main house under the fake identity. There, she encounters much resistance from the main madam and Chang Le, her rival in love and status.

The Jiang family tries every which way to discredit her and kick her out, but she is able to outsmart them all and even gain praise for the Emperor himself. With her kindness, she manages to gain loyal supporters by her side even in the tiger’s lair. She also manages to catch the eye of Prince Gaoyan and Prince Nanan, potential heirs to the throne. Prince Gaoyan moves her heart as he has saved her from several difficult situations. However, she must keep her distance due to her real identity and her quest of revenge. Of course, Chang Le also has her eyes set on Prince Gaoyan and plots with her mother on how to get rid of her rival. It is a game of cat and mouse where a wrong step could mean one’s life.

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Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim: Gifted Hands

 

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While other people may find medical dramas boring, I absolutely love them…if they are done well. RDTK, for short, is very appealing and gave me all sorts of feels just in the first episode. This drama tells a story of growth and development of three doctors, Teacher Kim, Dr. Dong Joo, and Dr. Seo Jung.

We start the story by seeing how Dr. Dong Joo stepped onto the path of medicine. When he was younger, he saw how corrupt the hospital system was when his father ended up passing away in the ER because a VIP received care before his father did. As a result, he tried to exact revenge by trying to demolish the ER through brandishing a bat and destroying equipment. Luckily, that day, a doctor was able to subdue him and talk him into exacting his revenge in another manner. He told young Dong Joo to become better and more skilled than his opponents instead. He needed to change his environment instead of beating powerlessly against the corrupt authority. Thus, Dong Joo puts his mind into becoming the very best and top of his class. During one of his residencies, he meets Dr. Seo Jung.

Dr. Seo Jung is the illegitimate daughter of the corrupt hospital director. She also has very talented hands and smarts to the point where she became the legend of the ER. It is no surprise that Dong Joo was so impressed by her that he fell head over heels for Seo Jung. However, in a freak car accident between Seo Jung and her then fiancé, Seo Jung ended up injuring her wrist to the point where she had PTSD from the event and could not even practice medicine. In a retreat hike during her period of grief, she ended falling down a mountain the boonies and recovering at a small local hospital. The famous Teacher Kim works at this hospital and used his expertise to help her recover.

We later learn that Teacher Kim was famous at her old hospital for his genius, but due to corrupt hospital directors, had to take the fall for a surgery gone bad. He was banished from practicing medicine, but managed to change his name and restart his career at the local small hospital. In a twist of fate, Dong Joo also had to take the fall for a surgery gone bad due to his greed of trying to reach the top. He was banished to this same local hospital where he meets the grumpy, but brilliant Teacher Kim. At first, they butt heads stubbornly, but gradually Dong Joo’s admiration for his skills won over. He decides to stay and this hospital and learn all he can. Of course, its not a coincidence that Teacher Kim was also the doctor who set him on the path of medicine. Furthermore, he gets to reconnect with his past flame, Seo Jung, who he has not heard from for the last 5 years due to her self-isolation.

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Goblin: Sorrowful Love

goblin_korean_drama-p1Dreamy and absolutely beautiful. I am in love, all the feels kind of love. To be honest, I was really hesitant to try the drama at first due to the vapid Descendants of the Sun….and the hit or miss track record from Kim Eun-Sook. For me, her dramas usually start out fantastic….and then peter out. However, this drama has got me wrapped around its finger.

With an amazing cast, beautiful filming and a gorgeous OST to boot, it hit the trifecta for me. Goblin tells the story of Kim Shin, an immortal being, who is waiting to find his bride so that he can finally die in peace. Hundreds of years ago, Kim Shin was a proud warrior who defeated many of his enemies, but was ultimately betrayed by royalty. He was unjustly branded a traitor by his country and his family ended in tragedy, including his sister, the young queen. He ended up being run through by his own sword.

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As a result, the gods above decided to give him both a punishment and reward. He would live forever while remembering all the deaths around him until he can find a bride to pull out the sword that is stuck in him.

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Uncontrollably Fond: Uncertain Futures

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Uncertainty is a keyword for me right now. After being all hyped up by all the promotions and media coverage, let’s just say that my expectations were elevated a little more than usual. Add in one actor that I adore, Kim Woo Bin, you know I was gunning for it. However, after watching the first two episodes, I feel a little detached to story, but not enough to drop it right then and there. Uncontrollably Fond is uncontrollably makjang from the start, which is to be expected as it is a drama penned by Lee Kyung-Hee (Nice Guy, A Love to Kill, etc.). Kim Woo Bin plays Joon Young, illegitimate son of a famous (but dirty as in bribe-taking) prosecutor. The drama starts off in the future, where Joon Young is a famous actor. However, it seems like he has an incurable disease with only 1 year to live. He is slowly becoming depressed and retreating into a shell. On the flip side is Noh Eul, broke and an opportunist. She was previously a documentarist who chased after illegal doings of big companies. However, instead of exposing these horrendous acts, she ends up taking bribes to keep her mouth shut. She has to pay off loan sharks, rent, and her little brother’s education. Unfortunately, she is shortly fired from this job. These two are brought together when Noh Eul sets out with the task of persuading Joon Young to participate in a documentary. She needs a job and money while he is trying to search for her (assuming that they were separated in the past). Of course, their reunion is indifferent at first as both pretend not to know each other. Then emotions explode into angst.

With a time skip to the past, we learn that Joon Young does badly in school and gets into fights often. His mother, who didn’t tell the father about her pregnancy, only wishes that Joon Young would grow up to be like his father. After getting into trouble with the police, he learns of his birth parents which makes him decide to grow up and start studying in an effort to make his mother (and future father) proud. Meanwhile, Noh Eul, is a kind hearted daughter of a food stall seller. She had liked Joon Young in the past, but decided to give up on the chase because she believed he was out of her league and unavailable. She also knows that Joon Young treats his suitors badly. They are brought head to head as she tries to get him to make her friend feel better who he had rejected. As all this is happening, her father manages to get into an accident. A rich girl had run him over and he was put on life support. In an effort to find the culprit, she hounds the prosecutor who changed the info around so that the girl would not get prosecuted. This prosecutor happens to be Joon Young’s dad. She even insults him about his intelligence in front of his future father, unknowingly. As revenge, he pretends to woo her in front of the school saying that it was their 100th day of dating. This made her seem like a girl who stole her best friend’s crush. Unfortunately, her father ends up dying and she is chased away from their home by the loan sharks. Joon Young, strangely starts to care about this girl and continues to try and find out what is really going on. It is there, that we jump back to the present where Joon Young forces an acknowledgement of their past relationship. Noh Eul haves none of it, walks off, and promptly faints.

If you add the makjang tropes in dramaland, you will have Uncontrollably fond. Incurable disease with a limit of 1 year to live, childhood sweethearts, birth secrets, untimely deaths, dirty people in power, and forbidden love, we’ve got it all, in just 2 episodes! To me, the drama felt a little disconnected. One situation did not flow into another well, especially their past scenes. The romance felt forced, and I mean the situation, not the acting. Furthermore, the scenes in the past were frankly strange to me. Why would you run after the villain’s car for that long, without first checking upon your father who is dying on the road? Why is there not more emotion at her father’s bedside? I’ve just insulted you greatly in front your father who you were trying to impress, but please seduce me, or I will seduce you? It’s just not making sense!! I really feel bad for Suzy’s past scenes as it was flimsy and awkward to be honest. The writer seemed to focus so much on Woo Bin’s character. His past and characterizations are more fleshed out. There is more purpose to his actions and reactions. I actually like the future scenes better. It kind of disappoints me since I loved her previous Nice Guy work.

So enough about the jaded plot, I find the acting to be decent. While I know there are many people who like Suzy and then there are many people who don’t like her. I have no extreme emotion about her, and I find her acting tolerable in the drama. She is trying to pull of a happy, but really angsty inside character, which is not bad. I enjoy that she is not your average Candy, and that she is realistic. She is broke and needs money. She does what is necessary to pay her debts. While her high school scenes were so-so, I am really looking forward to her adult scenes. They have the potential to be nuanced! As for Woo Bin, he is still acting as great as he has in the past. He plays internal conflict and broody scenes quite well. Reminding us of his shaky teary eyes from School 2013 and Heirs. His character is somewhat similar to ones he has done in the past, where he is a troublemaker who decides to man up. I am interested how he will play a dying man who is trying to live life best he can.

So I think I will give their another 2-3 episodes?

PS: He is going to have some friendly competition with his RL BFF Lee Jong Suk’s W.

Plus I guess this is why I am always hesitant to watch hyped up dramas in fear of being underwhelmed.

Oh Hae Young Again: No Shame

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Wow, just wow. I had completely skipped over this drama at first, not even having the slightest inclination to watching it. I thought it was going to be a silly rom-com judging by the poster and teasers. But, I could not be more wrong. This drama is more of a melo that has hit the dysfunctional couple trope for me combined with excellent acting and intense feels. In the drama, Oh Hae Young, an ordinary woman is all set to get married to her handsome and rich boyfriend. However, their wedding is called off the day before. Her boyfriend dumps her cruelly and in her embarrassment, she requests that it be publicized as her calling off the wedding instead. Everyone in her family and friend group is surprised at this turn of events while Hae Young wallows in pain and misery. Her family, in order to shock her out of her despair and also angry at her “irresponsibleness” kicks her out of their house. She ends up moving into a side studio connected to a larger house with a door for access in between. The man who is her neighbor is Park Do Kyung. As fate would have it, these two people are connected. Park Do Kyung had suffered a painful breakup where his fiance left him on the day of his wedding. But get this, her name was was Oh Hae Young. What is more is that both Hae Youngs went to school together in the past. However, Do Kyung’s fiance was the pretty and popular Hae Young, while our Hae Young was more plain and constantly was compared to the prettier one. Heartbroken, Do Kyung had planned revenge on pretty Hae Young. However, through a misunderstanding and confusion with names, Do Kyung ended up ruining the wedding and life of our Hae Young. Through rumors and confusion, he thought that his Hae Young was marrying our Hae Young’s Tae Jin. Thus, he made investors pull out of Tae Jin’s company and the man ended up in jail for a stint. However, it turns out that Tae Jin broke but with Hae Young cruelly in order for her to stop waiting for him and recover her family name before it was ruined. As these Hae Young and Park Do Kyung start to live together, they at first butt heads, but eventually fall for each other. Do Kyung is tortured and guilty because he is unable to tell Hae Young the truth, while Hae Young is unknowingly loving the one who ruined her life. With the pretty Hae Young and Tae Jin coming back into the picture later, it creates all sorts of pain for all parties involved.

Instead of this being a first impression, it is more like a rant after watching 12 episodes! I literally could not put this down. While it does have romcom moments, this drama is very deep into the melo world. Do Kyung and Hae Young is one of the most dysfunctional and toxic relationships I have seen in the drama world. Both are severely heartbroken and depressed when they first meet each other, and somehow manages to help heal each other. However, it is so unfortunate that they have such a knot to untangle between them. Each is torturing themselves for loving each other because it started out wrong. People they are crazy or selfish to be in love after all that has happened, but they just can’t help it. With Eric Mun’s Do Kyung, the character is the brooding and silent type which much of the acting in Mun’s eyes. His agony and regret are palpable. As for our Hae Young, her feelings are so relatable. She had to overcome such comparison and endure many embarrassing situations. However, she picked herself back up, albeit in some weird ways and with the amazing support of her parents. She also doesn’t play hard to get and is honest with her feelings. Yet, I hope the premonitions that Do Kyung keeps on having do not end in tragedy. That would just break my heart !