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.

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The Liar and His Lover: Duet

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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.

Master Devil Do Not Kiss Me

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For the bishounen shouja fanatic in me, how could I resist this quick and cute little drama and it’s sequel? Think of it as a cross between Hana Yori Dango and Playful Kiss. Master Devil is about Chu Xia, a young girl whose family encounters tragedy and she ends up living in rich boy Qi Lu’s house. Yes, I know this trope is used a million times, but how could I resist? Chu Xia came from a poor background and is your typical Candy, but not your usual doormat. She doesn’t take bullying well, but doesn’t use violence at all to fight back. She stands up to Qi Lu, who by all means is your usual handsome jerk. He wasn’t always like this apparently, but it was due to heartbreak when his previous girlfriend left him. She ends up being taken in by his family and starts attending their prestigious school. There, she makes several friends, while not neglecting her old ones. She of course also makes several enemies as well who are jealous of her. She is quite smart and often competes with Qi Lu on every topic. This of course, attracts quite a few suitors. What follows after is your typical slice of life drama about all the hijinks and bickering these two get into with each other.

While I admit, the acting and the story line isn’t stellar, I am still quite addicted to the drama. With each episode only being 20mins long, you just breeze on by. However, I must say that the actress who plays Chu Xia is loads better than her counterpart in Qi Lu. For me, I enjoy the slew of flower boys who adore her and how oblivious she is to them. Unfortunately, every suitor is better than the actual lead. Qi Lu is quite a jerk and he still hasn’t showed much growth development even as he heads into the second season. Poor Chu Xia of course will only fall for the jerk and not even given the other caring guys by her side a chance. If you miss the olden days of F4 and romcom tropes, this is for you! Don’t forget to watch the second season as well!

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.

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.

 

 

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo: Raising the Bar

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A cute college drama inspired by the real life story of Jang Mi Ran, an Olympic gold medal winner for weight-lifting. Kim Bok Joo is a promising collegiate level weight lifter who has a positive outlook on life even though her family is poor. She and her good friends in the weight lifting club are not very popular with the boys and are in a rivalry with the rhythmic gymnastics team. Meanwhile Joon-Hyung is a talented swimmer, but seems to have false-start anxiety and complications when it comes to the real competition. He decides to go into therapy in order to resolve this problem.

One day, these two athletes end up bumping into each other and find a familiarity in each other’s faces. It turns out that in their childhood, Bok Joo had saved Joon-Hyung from a fall. Thus, the two strike up an unlikely friendship with much teasing from Joon-Hyung’s side. For Bok Joo, she ends up having a crush on a weight loss doctor that she met on the streets and that had treated her like a lady. She has always been self-conscious that her sport made her seem manly and Dr. Jae Yi treated her differently. Thus, she decides to sign up for his weight loss program so that she is able to see him more.

However, that is in conflict with her competitions as she is suppose to increase her weight to enter a new weight class. On the other hand, she wants to be praised by Dr. Jae Yi for losing weight. Thus, she starts to lie to both parties, the weight-lifting team and the doctor, about what she is really doing. Furthermore, by coincidence, Joon-Hyung is actually the cousin of Dr. Jae Yi and her double life comes to a head when he finds out that she has been going to his clinic.

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Sweet Stranger and Me: In My House

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It’s one of those pieces that feels familiar because it’s one of those run of the mill dramas. However, I tried Sweet Stranger and me out not for the plot-line, but rather for the actors. With Su Ae and Kim Young Kwang headlining the drama, I at least know that I will be watching some decent acting. Sweet Stranger is about the story of Hong Na-Ri, who works as a flight attendant. At first, it seems like she has her life in order, but two tragedies soon hit. The first is the death of her mother from a car accident. Through her grieving process where she becomes a workaholic, she becomes isolated from her boyfriend. Unfortunately,  her boyfriend takes this chance to have an affair with a younger coworker of hers. This younger coworker, Yeo Joo, is well known as a gold digger by her peers and a home wrecker. Yeo Joo seems to take pleasure in one-upping Na Ri and stealing her boyfriend/fiancé to be. As for Na Ri, she wasn’t about to take this slight sitting down and ended up dumping her boyfriend Dong Jin. She decides to go back to her mother’s home where she had abandoned earlier due to her grief. However, there is someone else living in her home. She meets Nan-Gil who introduces himself as her stepfather. However, he is way younger than she is and she has a hard time coming to terms with the situation. Not only are they in a weird father-daughter situation now, but he revamped her family dumping diner into a popular eatery. The two are forced to live together as they each have no where else to go. She keeps on trying to find out who he really is and uncovers the fact that he was actually a past gangster. However, she does realize that the marriage that her mother had created with this young man was to protect the family estate and inheritance from being gambled away by her estranged father. Slowly, these two become accustomed to each other and grow closer emotionally.

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Age of Youth: College Days

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So honestly, I am ambivalent about this drama. I like it for what it is, but I guess I came into it with higher expectations. I started it due to the hype about how it was so unique and different than your usual drama. To that, it definitely hit the mark. However, it did not hold my attention the way I thought it would. Age of Youth tells the story of five young adults who live together at Belle Epoche during their university years. Each young lady has a story of her own and goes through growing pains. Jin Myung, one of the older girls at the house is busy trying to survive by working multiple part time jobs to attend university as well as pay rent and her vegetable brother’s medical bills. She never gets any sleep and is always exhausted. Next is senior Yi Na uses her beautiful appearance to give herself an easy life of luxury. She entertains multiple boyfriends who pay all her living expenses and more. Then we have Ye-Eun who is very devoted to her boyfriend and has strong opinions. Sometimes she may be a little tactless in her words. rooming with Ye-Eun is quirky Ji Won who is desperate to find a boyfriend and goes on multiple blind dates. She has a bright personality and likes to drink. Finally we have newcomer Eun Jae from a rural town and who is very innocent. She is also quite timid and at first is at odds with the rest of the house’s occupants. Age of Youth takes us through each girl’s hardships whether that be with life or love. We see how at times they fight each other like crazy, but also how they are pillars of strength for each other. Slowly, they warm up to each other and have each other’s backs.

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Wonderful Nightmare: Second Chances

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I definitely love me some body swap hijinks! In Wonderful Nightmare, Yeon Woo is a charismatic and savvy attorney. She cares only for money and reputation, ignoring the poor. She had a hard life growing up and that shaped her outlook on life. She enjoys being single and doesn’t care for marrying as she thinks it will only bring her heartbreak. However, due to a mistake in processing in “heaven”, she ends up dying early through a car accident. In heaven, she is given another chance to live again if she temporarily takes the place of another woman’s life who only has one more month to live. Eager to get back to the living, Yeon Woo decides to take this offer. Her new life is her worst nightmare. She is a mousy, stay-at-home mom of two children, a cheesy lawyer husband, and part of a loud ahjumma group. At first, she can’t get use to this new life and hates how poor she is. She tries to even use her old life to get ahead in her new life. However, she is scolded by “heaven” to not slip up since she has all her old memories and abilities. Gradually, she learns the warmth of a family and even takes on the familial duties that scorned before. Her kids also manage to warm up to her and she also enjoys standing up for her husband. However, with only one month to “live” this other woman’s life, she is reluctant to let go of this new experience she now enjoys. Unfortunately, her son begins to develop blindness that we find was genetic. She had suffered through the same growing blindness as a child that required several expensive surgeries to fix. However, heaven gave her to option to return about to her own life and have the blindness never happen to the son or to stay in her current role, but with the blindness of her son continuing. Although it broke her heart to give up her new family, she chose to go back to her own life to save her child suffering from the blindness.

Wonderful Nightmare is a story about sacrifice and familial bonds. Yeon Woo starts to learn how to care for others more and that life is not just about money. She learns to make attachments and even develops a maternal instinct. Um Jung-Hwa plays an awesome charismatic character as well as the homey housewife. Child actors Shin Ae and Ji-hoon are cute as buttons while new hubby Song Seung Hoon will have you swoony over how protective he is over his wife. A excellent feel good movie that will tug at your heartstrings.

Jealousy Incarnate: Love Triangles for Everyone

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Weird. Odd. What? Those were my first thoughts when I started the drama. Interestingly enough, I had almost dropped the drama after just 2 eps. However, I am so glad I powered through as I quickly became absorbed and obsessed (marathoned to the current episodes).  Gong Hyo Jin has a way of picking interesting and quirky drama projects which always turn out to be a special kind of hit. Here she plays Na Ri, a weather forecaster, who yearns to be an announcer at one of the biggest media companies. She is the breadwinner of her family and is barely making ends meet as a contract employee. During her years at the company, she had a crush on a reporter named Hwa Shin. Hwa Shin is your typical arrogant jerk and macho man. He not only ignored her crush, but at times went out of his way to be an asshole to her. Eventually Hwa Shin had been self-exiled to Thailand for a stint/scandal he caused at the news station regarding his family’s business.

Na Ri and Hwa Shin eventually meet up in Thailand to film a recruitment video. On this trip, Na Ri meets Jung Won, a sensitive and kind chaebol, who of course is also Hwa Shin’s best friend. These two develop light crushes on each other. Meanwhile, when Na Ri was prepping Hwa Shin for the video, she accidentally groped his chest and inadvertently found out about a nodule in his breast. With a long family history of breast cancer, Na Ri becomes obsessed with Hwa Shin’s chest and the fact that he might have breast cancer. He tries to ignore all her prompting to go get it checked out, but eventually succumbs. His whole world crumbles as he finds out that he has stage I breast cancer even though he is a guy. It was a blow to his pride, career, and life. Coincidentally, Na Ri also has a little nodule that she is getting removed that was non-malignant. As luck would have it, they are paired in the same room before surgery. He swears her to secrecy about his condition while she helps him through the recovery/radiation process.

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