Friday, February 21, 2014

My (K)Dramas: PPIF #5

Well, I've put another drama on hold, and I'm slowly getting through the dramas I'm watching. Most of the dramas I am currently viewing are either currently airing or are being viewed with a currently-airing-style schedule. This works, I guess, because once the spring gets here, I will be finishing most of them up in time to cram for my finals.

You know, since PPIF #4, I've been wondering wherther or not to continue this PPIF series. After all, I now have that "Currently Watching" list off to the side. The anime won't necessarily be discussed - unless I choose to do a special, random post about a particular one - but you all can see what I am watching and my progress in what I am watching. However, this does provide a limited amount of least for why not?

Anyway...ON TO THE LIST!

Recently Finished (Past):

-Pretty Man (2013)
Hi, IU. Oh, hello there, Lee Jang Woo. It's nice to see you outside of Smile, Dong Hae. Bye.

-Dream High (2011)
Oh, you're back, IU! I should thank Stephanie-unni for telling me to "drop what [I'm] doing right now and watch" because "[these] are [my] people." (I'll just go ahead and assume that she was referring to my status as a high-school student.)

There would be at least one more drama in this category if I hadn't put Medical Top Team on hold...

Currently Watching (Present):

-Smile, Dong Hae (2010)
Yep, I'm still chugging through this one. Slowly, but surely, I will finish this drama...within the year.

-Empress Ki (2013) (but most of it is in 2014, so let's just say it's a 2014 drama...)
I've developed an interest in Joo Jin Mo because of this drama, but Ji Chang Wook is still my heart's priority. And who knows? Now that I've been introduced to Ha Ji Won as well, maybe I'll have a reason to watch Secret Garden besides the supporting actors.

I should just stop talking before I ramble on about my love for Empress Ki. Moving on!

-The Return of Iljimae (2009)
Wanting to watch this for Facebook group Operation: Kdrama Chat has proved to be both a blessing and a curse. We're about halfway through it, but because I keep getting behind, I've missed most of the chat sessions. (I procrastinate with this drama...)

-Hours of My Life (Boku no Ita Jikan) (2014)
I've been avoiding the subject on my blog, but for this drama, I am a part of DramaFever's Drama Club. Words cannot describe how glad I am that I agreed to be a part of that group. This is an amazing show... (And the group is fun, too!)

As a side note, quite a few people seem to be sobbing over this drama. They should be; it's a very sad yet inspiring Jdrama. I just haven't cried yet. (The task of eliciting tears from these eyes is an extremely difficult one. This drama makes me want to smile more than it makes me want to cry.)

-You Who Came From the Stars or My Love From Another Star or...*shrug* (2013) (more so 2014 for the same reason as Empress Ki)
It has only taken me until the drama has nearly finished, but I finally started watching this. Last night, after finishing Dream High, I gave in to the intense desire to see Kim Soo Hyun in his alien glory. (That, and the poll I put on Facebook saw this drama in first place within the first five minutes.)

Up Next (Immediate Future):

-Inspiring Generation (2014)
*cries* I'm sorry I've neglected you, Gangaji Sunbae! Kim Hyun Joong, I promise that I will get past the first fifteen minutes soon! *sobs* Why haven't I watched this? I swear I will start this back up again in a month or so...

-Medical Top Team (2013)
The same can be said for this drama as well. The only difference is that I am at some point in episode 9 as opposed to episode 1. About a month ago, I realized that I didn't really feel like watching this, and that this sentiment was hurting my overall drive to watch dramas. Sorry, Joo Ji Hoon. You can bring me back, though!

-Answer Me 1997 (Reply 1997) (2012)
I remember this had been on this list months ago...Thanks to the poll I put on Facebook, it's been brought back.

-Nice Guy (Innocent Man) (2012)
As has this drama. I still really want to watch this, I just haven't. (However, that can be said for many dramas.) When I slept over at my friend Jang Yi's house a few months ago, she showed me the first episode, but no further progress has been made.

I've noticed that I haven't really been following the plans that have been set in the last category. In the end, the last category serves as more of a guideline, apparently...Aish, there are so many dramas to choose are we all not overwhelmed yet?


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wopping Wednesday: IU

Well, hello there, awesome and adorable unni...

It may be obvious from the pictures and the title of the post, but IU is the subject of this segment of "Wopping Wednesday."

Born on May 16, 1993, Lee Ji Eun is just about four years older than me. If she were born just one day earlier, we would have the same birthday. This makes me very glad. :) (Her music was some of the first K-pop music I heard, so she's pretty important to me anyway.)

IU's stage name stands for "I and You," signifying the unity of all of us through music, which is kind of sweet. Ever since her debut in 2008, her image has been sweet, too. Not necessarily pure (blah blah blah, Eunhyuk scandal, blah blah blah), but still infectiously sweet. Even watching her through my computer, I can feel her charm, and that charm brings a smile to my face. IU's music and dramas are feel-good, partially just because of her presence.

Granted, I sometimes worry about what her occasionally-excessive airiness will do to her vocal cords, but her voice is enjoyable to listen to nevertheless. (Plus, I can't always avoid that sound when I sing either, so who am I to talk?)

Okay, nobody's really here to read what I say up here, so let's get to the songs! :D

"(나만 몰랐던 이야기) The Story Only I Didn't Know" is a story I never get tired of listening to. In my "Wopping Wednesday" post about Five Fingers, I did point out that I enjoy melancholy music, so it was a good thing that the first two IU songs I heard were sad. The sadness IU sings with just tugs at the heartstrings a bit.

This is a good song for people who feel like a "(미아) Lost Child" sometimes. *waves awkwardly and over-enthusiastically* Honestly, if this song hadn't been IU's debut song, I doubt it ever would have been released by her. It differs from the cutesy image. Still, that doesn't mean it's not enjoyable and pretty. :)

Let's continue with the sad songs! Whether I'm having a "(싫은 날) Bad Day" or not, this song just makes me stop whatever I'm doing and focus on listening. Literally, it's rare that I can focus on anything when I hear this song. It's just so sad and beautiful and...*sighs*

(Note: I apologize for the bias that's showing through.)

Yay, a fun song! (This actually helped me start writing a story in one of my classes a couple weeks ago.) This  is such an infectiously bouncy song, more so because "(너랑 나) You & I"'s theme is hopeful and because of the cutesy image previously mentioned. People with feminist tendencies may have an issue when they analyze her choice to lose years of her life just to be with the boy, but... *pout* still... *continues pouting* I need to stop thinking.

This is a fan-made video for "(잔혹 동화) Cruel Fairy Tale." If you ignore the slightly invasive dubstep-percussion - or whatever it's called - then this is a soft, creepy, chilling song.

The music video for "(복숭아) Peach" is pretty (she travels to Venice, Italy), but it's quite you can just listen to the cute audio if you'd like! :) (It's such a cute song.)

I've been including a lot of softer songs in this post, and "(아이야 나랑 걷자) Walk With Me, Girl" featuring Choi Baek Ho, is no different. The style of the song is older as well. While I'm amused by the likely-intended and inevitable contrast between IU's and Choi Baek Ho's voices and pronunciation, *sighs* I just love this song.

The music in this post is made up of some of my favorite songs released by IU. There certainly are others I could have chosen, and I could have included more than one bouncy song...which I probably should...Ah, for the sake of diversity, why not include just one more? Why not add in another energetic track just to go out with a bang?

How ironic is it that she released "(분홍신) Red Shoes" in the fall, but the words "summer time" are repeated throughout? Oh, my pink shoes...Oh, my...

IU has a welcoming feel to her that was endearing to me when I was first immersing myself in Korean media. She has enough talent to pique one's interest, but she also lacks exhibits enough flaws to be relatable and to not seem stuck-up. Well...she's also infinitely prettier than this peasant fangirl, so I sigh in both awe and self-pity when she appears.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Liebster Award...? *fist pump*

All righty...coolness...uh...I'm so confused now...

Yes, Sly Cooper is barely applicable here. The
titular character and his gang are a confusing (and confused) bunch.

I'm confused in the sense that I'm not sure exactly how to do this Liebster-Award thing...But, hey, I'm still relatively new in the blogging community and in the Kdrama community, so there's no better time to learn!

The Liebster Award is the "Dearest" Award, I guess - since "liebster" is the German word for dearest, apparently. Basically, the award is a chain letter that gives whomever is nominated a chance to talk about themselves and to feel special. (Here are two links to two posts that explain the award and its origins simply.) Well, then...thanks for the nomination, Lore In Stone Cities! You will now be added to my "Awesome Unnis" list! Now that my awkward acceptance speech - if one can call it that - is over, I'll just answer the questions that have been posed now.

The rules (one set of rules, anyway):
  • After being nominated, give a link to the person who nominated you in your Liebster-Award post.
  • Answer 10 questions asked by the nominator.
  • Nominate (up to) 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers. (Okay, the numbers keep changing for this this is part of the source of my confusion...)
  • Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Let the nominees know that you've nominated them by telling them so on their blog.
1. Who is your least-favorite character in Drama land (a.k.a. the one that you wish you could slap)?

*whines* I don't know... *sobs* (Well, this is off to a great start!) It really depends. At this early point in my kdrama-watching career, I guess my least-favorite character would be Kim In Hee from Personal Taste.

I would say Saewa from Smile, Dong Hae because she's an awful, irrational human being who looks just as plastic as Kim In Hee, but then I remember that Kim In Hee nearly brought me to the point of dropping Personal Taste. Much of this drama has been pushed to the far reaches of my conscious memory, so I don't even remember why. My memory just reminds me that she annoyed the crudballs out of me.

2. What is the story behind your blog name / blogging ID?

At first, it was "Hallyu Fangirl" just because I don't know anything about how to do this. (Great ethos, my friend.) Oh, thanks. Anyway, after a couple of months, I kept thinking about how ugly the word "fangirl" sounds. It's a fun word to think about, but it's just such a cacophonous word. So I changed it to a word that still conveyed that sense of obsession...kinda...sorta...ish...

3. Favorite Korean variety show and why? If you do not watch Korean variety shows, do you have a favorite variety, talk, or reality show (from any country) and why?

It's not so much that I don't watch them as much as that I don't watch them a lot. The only Korean variety shows - because the American ones I've seen in my life grew violently boring - I've seen numerous episodes of are Weekly Idol and Running Man. Well...and EXO's Showtime. It's difficult to choose between the three...

4. Why do you enjoy writing?

This is an easy answer to find, but a difficult one to put into words. You see, I started writing when I was about 3. It's something that has just always been there for me to slink into - like Pokemon, Kingdom Hearts, and other fandoms have been, just with more personal productivity. My awkward mental processes began soon after I began writing. My thoughts about exploring other worlds, about experiencing things I would never get to, and playing out my own masochistic fantasies in my head (yes, I've been having that issue since my pre-school years). Writing for me has been a way for me to express these thoughts without having to talk about them with those around me. Writing for me is a way of shielding myself from people without entirely doing so, if that makes sense. Writing for me is both easily awkward and awkwardly easy.

5. If you could choose only one drama to have while stranded on a deserted isle (and could watch it via a magic coconut blu-ray / DVD player) what would it be and why? This would be the only drama you could watch until you were rescued (if you were rescued).

*sobs again* Why are some of these questions so difficult? (I have an issue with decisiveness.) Uh...erm...mmm...umm *panics* Empress Ki! (You know, it's probably not the best idea to  make this decision when the series hasn't even been completed yet...) But... *sniffles* Ji Chang Wook...and the music...and the feels... O~O

6. If you were to describe your personality as a Kdrama character, what type of character would you be and why?

I'm that awkward girl who thought she had to grow up, but ended up being happier when she decided to stop suppressing her cutesy pouts and to acknowledge her love of Goofy and her lifelong obsession with stuffed animals. I'm still that awkward teenager, but I embrace it. As a Kdrama character, I'm probably that cute, sometimes shy side character who doesn't know what to do with herself, but through friendship, learns how to thrive. (There are some male and female characters fitting that bill in dramas, and I love them because they are just adorable.)

7. What is the one thing in a drama that is a deal breaker of you? I.E. You hate it so much you can no longer watch it; why?

Dropping a drama is an experience I haven't yet dealt with. As a result, I don't really know what my deal breaker is. Sometimes with American shows (back when I watched them), my interest would just suddenly dissipate. So my deal breaker's never really set in stone, I guess.

8. Your dream team F4 looks like...?

1. Ji Chang Wook - ohhhhh, yes. He ruins my very existence in the best way possible.
2. Kim Hyung Jun - I could have chosen any Kpop man (in the end, I would have either picked someone from EXO or from SS501...) but Kim Hyung Jun is pretty, adorable, and his singing voice reminds me of a certain anthropomorphic video-game character whom I love, so here he is.
3. Lee Jong Suk - Socky Tree Monkey! (There are way too many people to choose from for this list...Let me just go sob in the corner because I feel bad for not picking everyone...)
4. Riku (Kingdom Hearts) - Sorry, I have to go away from Korea - from Earth itself, really - for a moment. I would have picked a different, more adorable video-game character, but Riku is...Riku.

9. If there was any drama out there that you could rewrite with an alternate ending, what would it be?

Smile, Dong Hae. No matter how it ends (I'm on episode 65 out of 159), I will want to rewrite the ending so that Dong Hae ends up with me. Somehow. (Let me apologize for my intense, fangirling love for Ji Chang Wook...) Although...then I'd end up writing Dong Hae returning to Bongi because I'd feel bad for taking him away...If I were to rewrite the ending for this reason, I'd choose Five Fingers because he's not a part of a canon pairing in that drama...

10. Name one thing you cannot absolutely live without? Why?

(Okay, here's the part where I'm going to let my teenage smart-aleck shine.) My heart because...biology. And feels. O~O

The nominations list is short, but...I'll be on the lookout for other blogs. (I think I broke the rule about the blog being less popular, too...ah, well.)

Stephanie-unni at Crazy For Kdrama
Andrea-unni at Give Me My Kdrama
Fatuma-unni at Looney Express
Laurie-unni at adgirl22
Cherry Cordial-unni

Question time!

1. If you could figuratively punch - let me emphasize the word "figuratively" - any Kdrama writer, who would he or she be? Why?(If you don't know the name of the writer, just write "the writer of [insert drama name here].")

2. Create an emoticon that can embody either feels or emotions (my example: O~O) or something random (my example from eighth grade: o(|)o. It's a rhino.)

3. Quick! What's the first Kdrama scene that you think of?

4. Assuming you listen to K-pop, what was the K-pop song that roped you in to Korean music? If you remember, of course...

5. What is it about a Kdrama that can potentially make it one of your favorites? (Or temporary favorites...)

6. What is it about a Kdrama that convinces you to drop it, if you choose to do so?

7. Since you started your blog, what have you learned about self-expression, writing, or yourself? (Or about other things)

8. If you could live as any Asian-drama female lead you've seen in a drama so far, who would you choose?

9. Write your own Kdrama Romantic Meeting of Fictional Fate.

10. How do you define a Korean drama? You can answer as smart-alecky or as scholarly as you please.

Self-analytical or creative thinking is fun. :)


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dream High in the Phone Booth (Story) (Part 1?)

They were in the grocery store, in the freezer section, when it happened. A flash of light briefly blinded the two employees,  but it was gone within seconds.

Hye Mi rubbed her brown eyes, slowly readjusting to the natural lighting of the grocery store. She glanced at Sam Dong, who had clumsily fallen to the floor in shock. The boy patted the barely-visible dirt off of his smokey-blue uniform and grinned sweetly at Hye Mi. Rolling her eyes, Hye Mi returned the smile. She ran her slender, pale fingers through her chestnut hair and turned her head in the direction of the aforementioned burst of light.

"Sam Dong-ah," the teenager breathlessly said.

Her ebony-haired coworker followed her gaze. His head cocked to the side in confusion. "Is that...a phone booth?" Sam Dong observed. Sure enough, in front of the two youths was a light-brown, almost pink, phone booth. Well, it could have been a functioning machine once; judging by its complex system of levers and its random appearance beside the shelves of frozen fruit, it likely could no longer be used for telephonic communication.

Slowly but decisively, Hye Mi approached the strange device. As she reached her hand out to grab hold of the doorknob, Sam Dong looked away in fear and tightly shut his eyes. For all they knew, opening that door could unleash a ruthless swarm of extra-terrestrial rock people upon the earth. The stone beings could overrun the store, then the town, then the world, forcing all humans to do their bidding, threatening to headbutt the weaker mortals if their demands weren't met. They'd start with him and Hye Mi, but the latter's brash stubbornness would make her the first victim in the aliens' conquest of the planet. He and Hye Mi would be responsible for the alien takeover that would end mankind.

Sam Dong was about to dash towards his friend to stop her from releasing rocky aliens onto Earth when he heard a scream. His eyes flew open and he snapped his head forward. He took two swift steps towards Hye Mi and held his thin arms out, ready - and more than willing - to envelop the frightened girl into his embrace. Instead she covered her mouth with one hand. She stared, dumbfounded, at the figure in the phone booth.

Standing in the booth, wearing a long, striped, knitted cardigan with a longer black dress underneath, was an extremely thin, black-haired teenage girl. In her arms was a white-feathered goose. With a natural pout on her lips, the girl raised her head to meet the bewildered expressions of the young employees. She opened the door and exited the phone booth, a warm, cute smile developing on her face.

"Hi, I'm Ji Eun," the girl greeted brightly.


I wrote this in my Creative Writing class last Friday while listening to "You & I" by IU. My teacher had given each of the students a sentence to start off a story, and because that song started playing on my phone just as I started writing, I put the song on repeat and made a decision to write fluff. And because I'm in the middle of Dream High, it seemed fitting to use Song Sam Dong and Go Hye Mi as characters. (Note: the use of "Dream High" in the title doesn't have to just be a reference to the drama *titular analysis ideas*)

My specialty is angst, but there's nothing wrong with a little fluff once in a while.

Eventually, the story will be continued...probably. Then the real sugar and rainbows will come out.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wopping Wednesday: Five Fingers

Let me just point out that I absolutely love this drama. *sighs* That (sort of) needed to be said.

But this post isn't about Five Fingers itself; this post is about its music.

One of the best things about Five Fingers was its soundtrack - especially the orchestral songs. The drama was supposed to be about pianists-turned-composers, after all (in addition to the revenge, of course); if the music hadn't been as ear-catching from the start, it's debatable whether or not I would have loved the drama as much. *gazes glances at Ji Chang Wook* Nope, I probably would have.

The music just helped. A lot of the music is more orchestral than in other dramas I've seen, and that's perfectly fine. Before I start rambling about how the pieces tie into what I learn in music classes in school, let's just start listening! :)

 "Salieri" is one of the more high-energy, dramatic pieces in Five Fingers. (Of course it is, it's the song that plays at the end of the episodes, when those gosh-freaking cliffhangers happen.)

Now, I would have just left "Ji Ho's Theme" out because it wasn't available on the video-finding app in Blogger, but the song is just too good to leave out. The piano melody and the orchestral integration are enough to make it one of my favorite pieces from the drama...Basically, it's a really pretty song.

As is "Sympathy." Out of the instrumental songs, this is the most...hum-able, in my opinion. The melody is easy to follow, and it is one of the songs that was stuck in my head often when I wasn't watching the drama.

In case you haven't noticed, there is a lot of usage of string instruments for the tracks...and the tracks are less pop-y than those on the soundtracks for some other drama's I've seen. Watching Five Fingers and listening to these pieces helped me appreciate instrumental music and music composition. 

But now we enter the pop-y section. Im Young Hee's (or Lim, depending on your preference) "날 사랑하지마 (Don't Love Me)" took me a couple listens to become accustomed to it, likely due to the instrumentals. The song is nice and sad and pretty, and I've grown to enjoy it. (By this point, you've probably realized that I enjoy nice, sad, and pretty songs.)

My musical bias for sad, minor songs, as well as the insane, fangirling bias I developed for Ji Chang Wook the moment I laid eyes on him in Five Fingers, is part of what led me to enjoy "채운다 (Fills My Heart)" so much. Before he was a television actor, Ji Chang Wook was a struggling stage actor, so he has musical experience. Why this and his track for Warrior Baek Dong Soo are the only soundtrack contributions he's made, I don't understand.

This is, of course, only a taste of the musical magic of Five Fingers. Not all of the songs are necessarily ones that stay with you, or ones that you'll even remember at all (this is especially true with the vocal songs). Still, if you watch Five Fingers for any reason at all, let that reason be the music. it for Joo Ji Hoon and Ji Chang Wook.
That's also an acceptable motivation.
Or, you know...


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What a Nice Change: A Review of the Past Year

The day has finally (and unexpectedly) come. The strange looks I get from my friends were no match for my determination to be lazy, and this day marks the first of (hopefully) many anniversaries to come.

"Today is a momentous day." -Xemnas, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

Why I am choosing to start off the post with a quote from a video game, "I'm afraid I do not know" (Yen Sid, Kingdom Hearts II).

Today is the official anniversary of the viewing of my first Korean movie, an important step into the direction of living with a K-drama addiction.

The story of this step isn't anything special, and I don't want anybody to take my emotional descriptions too seriously...I don't know what else to say here without sounding awkward, so let's just hurry up and get to the story. :)

At midnight on February 4, 2013, a sad fifteen-year old sat on her bed and decided to open her laptop and go on Netflix. She had been listening to Korean music for about a month and a half by this point, and she thought that watching a Korean movie or drama would accompany the growing obsession well.

Well...the dramas she had bookmarked had episodes that she deemed far too long to maintain her focus. 

"One episode is over sixty minutes long?" she whispered to herself. "That's almost as long as a movie! I might as well just watch a freaking movie."

So she did. As was previously stated, this teenager was a sad one. There was never really anything that she should have been sad about, but her mind's always been distorted in one way or another. As a result, one of the first titles that screamed, "WATCH!" at her was the title that had the word, "Sad," in it.

Anyway, she clicked on Sad Movie and began the one-hour, forty-eight minute experience that started her descent into a new world of madness.

It certainly was a sad movie.

Side note: this kid, Yeo Jin Goo, is three months younger than me now...
This was his debut role.

It certainly made this teenager cry. (Except for that guy who started the break-up service; that story was just annoying.)

Her midnight viewing also made her terribly tired in school just hours later, but that was a necessary sacrifice. Just a few months later, she had watched three more Korean movies and was starting her first Korean drama, Boys Over Flowers.

This was decided on a coin toss, okay? Blame the
Moltres coin on her windowsill...

Since then, she's become a lot happier - undoubtedly due to, in part, the feels from all those pretty people and the plots and melodies surrounding them. While some friends, family, and teachers tease her for her Korean outbursts and enthusiastic connections to Asian television and music, some friends sympathize and mirror her enthusiasm. Some of the latter friends actually entered her social circle because of all of this. One of these friends, the friend who fueled the teenager's desire to enter the world of Asian-related feels, was the connection she needed to expand her personal joy and her 친구 group.

That reminds me; I've never really thanked that friend for that.

As I sit at my computer, listening to "Lucifer" by Shinee, my empty bowl of ramen on my desk, I am in the midst of multiple dramas; I have started a blog; I have become a part of a Kdrama chat group; and I have even joined a Drama Club on DramaFever (for Hours of My Life, in case you're curious).

Have I become less insane? Nope. My mind has been messed up for a long time, and the twisted nature of my psyche isn't likely to untwist anytime soon.

Have I become less of a wall flower? Somehow, I have. Even though I'm still quiet, I'm not always as silent as I was one year ago.

Have I become less sad? In general, yes. As I said, my mind has been messed up for a long time - ever since early childhood - so there's always that sense of inappropriate and unnecessary negativity. But I smile more. That warm feeling in my heart is there more often than it has been since my preschool/early-elementary-school years. (It wasn't as bad as I'm vaguely making it out to be - it's all a part of being an insane teenager :P)

I don't know what else to say that won't sound annoying, repetitive, or just plain dumb, so let's have this gif of Dan Howell take us out!

The year of some of the best feels of my life so far. O~O

It's been a pretty successful year, I think.