Saturday, May 31, 2014

My Dramas: PPIF #7

Despite the reviews I still have looming over my head (and, of course, end-of-the-year homework assignments, which are always fun), a chunk of my time continues to be dominated by Asian people. One of my friends - a fellow anime enthusiast, ironically - started telling me to "get off the Asian train" the other day, but that's not happening anytime soon.

Speaking of anime, from now until the end of my school year (and maybe until the end of exams), I am going to be focusing on expanding my anime repertoire. After all, as next year's Anime Club president, I should be a good senpai and get my anime on. I will be marathoning anime and getting through two drama club dramas, as well as one currently-airing drama, before beginning my 2014-Drama Marathon.

But before we get to that month-long marathon, let's document my viewing history over the past eight weeks.

Recently Finished (Past):

-You're Beautiful (2009)
I began viewing this purely out of the desire to view a random Korean drama on Netflix. Sorry, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, but I chose this slightly older Kdrama staple for some reason. (*sniffle* Now My Girlfriend is a Gumiho is going to be removed from Netflix tomorrow...Oh, well, I'll find somewhere else to watch it.)

-Medical Top Team (2013)
Besides the five or six episodes I skipped entirely over in my stubborn wish to finish this three months after putting it on hold, I finished Medical Top Team on a bus on the way back from a softball trip I went on over April break. I started this because of Joo Ji Hoon; I finished because I'm still not at the stage where I can drop a drama.

-Nodame Cantabile (2006)
I'd say this drama was fine. I enjoyed the music. I enjoyed watching it for Operation: Kdrama Chat, despite never getting a chance to discuss anything with my unnis...due to me watching the last seven episodes two-and-a-half weeks after my unnis completed the last one...

-Secret Love Affair (2014)
My second experience as a member of a Drama Club on DramaFever was...interesting. This drama is intriguing, and so are its actors, but what was interesting was how bad I was as a member, to be honest...I really hate it when my sleep schedule changes without my consent. And then remains an inconvenience for two months, making me an inconvenience to everyone else...Okay, I'm talking about dramas, not my personal failures - moving on!

-Empress Ki (2013, but 2014)
This ended a lot earlier than I thought it was going to when I started it. Now, this nearly amazing drama is over. But my love for Ji Chang Wook is not.

Currently Watching (Present):

-Smile, Dong Hae (2010)
I lied when I said I was going to complete two daily dramas by the end of the school year. I'm still not sure when I'm going to complete either of them, especially Smile, Dong Hae.

-Melody of Love (2013, but 2014)
Since this is mostly a 2014 drama, Melody of Love originally was on the list of 2014 dramas to marathon in a few weeks (thank you, Kim Hyung Jun). However, it's so long that it would dominate way too much of the Month of 2014 Dramas. To be honest, I doubt I'll finish either this or Smile, Dong Hae until much later this year. The struggle of daily dramas is real.

-Nice Guy (2012)
Five or six months after viewing the first episode with my friend, Jang Yi, I finally got around to continuing Nice Guy. My vote for this drama in Operation: Kdrama Chat has gone to good use. We are watching and discussing this drama (and Song Joong Ki's face) until the end of June. :)

-Emergency Couple (2014)
I was in the mood for a new drama to watch a few weeks ago. So, in order to thin my 2014-Drama-Marathon list a bit, I asked my mother to pick a number (as I have a numbered list on a Microsoft Word document). She picked 6, which (fortunately, to my surprise) happened to be Emergency Couple. After my little anime excursion, I will complete this as part of the month-long drama marathon. :)

-Doctor Stranger (2014)
Why, hello there, Lee Jong Suk. Socky Tree Monkey here and his sass, plus the presence of Jin Se Yeon, are my motivations for starting Doctor Stranger before the end of the school year. That gosh-freaking Socky Tree Monkey and his gosh-freaking sass make me want to cry. O~O

Up Next (Immediate Future):

As much as I can attempt to fit in before the end of...let's go with the end of exams. (Because the last day of school and the day of my last exam are two different things. I'll probably have my anime marathon and my 2014-Drama Marathon intertwine between these two days...) You can click on the link to my anime list (on on the side. 

-Hotel King (2014)
My friend, Jang Yi, introduced me to her senpai a month ago via KakaoTalk. I've referred to Operation: Kdrama Chat a couple of times, so Jang Yi's senpai brought up the possibility of discussing a drama between the three of us. This is the drama we've chosen. (Fun fact: she also proposed a mini-anime club, comprised of the three of us, to discuss the anime Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club.)

-2014-Drama Marathon
...Or Dramas-of-2014 Marathon, whichever sounds more poetic. This is my opportunity to hone my viewing craft. One month, fifteen dramas (ignoring the dramas that haven't begun airing yet...for now). I've completed five dramas that have aired this year. I'm watching two (soon to be three, thanks to Jang Yi's senpai). I'm expecting to be a marathon master by late July.

In a separate post, I will brief the dramas that are a part of this list...When I do, anyone can feel free to suggest other dramas (including dramas from China and Japan) for me to add! :) Also, I will get to the reviews that are listed in the sidebar...when I'm not fangirling, completing projects, and being at least somewhat of a contribution to the society awaiting outside my bedroom. I'm such a bad Kdrama blogger, I know...


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sass and Bias: Pamela's Top 6 Male Actors (First Edition)

Ten days after the anniversary of my unofficial Kdrama entrance, I bring you another favorites list. Today, I am covering my favorite male actors. I thought this list wouldn't be longer than the one containing my favorite female Kdrama actresses, but I am much more confident in the positions these actors hold within the list. Also, I realized ten hours after posting this post that there is a very important actor whom I forgot.

There are 26 completed dramas, in addition to the five I'm watching, to choose actors from, so let's begin!

6. So Ji Sub

Master's Sun (2013)

So Ji Sub suffers from the same obstacle as Gong Hyo Jin and Ha Ji Won, in terms of his placement on my favorite-actors list. I haven't watched many of his projects. I've seen Master's Sun - pardon my squeals - and I've seen A Company Man (in which I noticed him practicing his signature "Kkeojyeo" for Master's Sun).

A Company Man (2012)

While I remember enjoying So Ji Sub in these projects, it's been over half of a year since I've seen any others. In a few of the earlier posts on this blog back in October and November, I mentioned that I wanted to watch Ghost. However, I also said I wanted to watch Nice Guy, and it took me until a month ago to finally start viewing that. Maybe he'll move up the list as time goes on, but for now, he's here at number 4.

5. Song Joong Ki

Nice Guy (2012)

This man - as much as I want to call him a boy, he is 29 - is adorable. He is pretty. He is talented. I have seen him in Sungkyunkwan Scandal, and I spent every moment of his presence flailing around because of his Sungkyunkwan Scholar Sass. In my two viewings of A Werewolf Boy, he exuded so much...aww-ness. (Yes, "aww-ness" is a thing. It's my thing, and my things don't have to make sense. :P) Now, in Nice Guy, this frustrating, talented, mean performance can illicit one reaction from me (besides swooning at this smart-aleck and his anti-hero character):

"Just pretty on, man."

4. Joo Ji Hoon

Five Fingers (2012)

Five Fingers may have been possibly taken off of my favorite-dramas list (due to my fear of the bias I've developed for the three main actors, discounting the mother), but it spawned three of my favorite acting talents: Joo Ji Hoon is the second of these talents. Why have I grown to adore him? Well, there's his voice. There are also his eyebrows; he and fellow favorite actor, Life Ruiner *points to end of post*, have a similar talent in that both can do things with their eyebrows that turn me into mush. I nearly forgot about my newfound love for Joo Ji Hoon because of the incoherent boredom that was Medical Top Team, but ten hours after originally posting this post, I am half an hour into The Naked Kitchen and about to begin flailing because of that voice and that cuteness. (We can't forget the steaminess, though. Never forget.)

3. Yoo Ah In

Secret Love Affair (2014)

To be honest, I didn't consider Yoo Ah In to be anywhere near this list until recently. My friend and I saw him in Sungkyunkwan Scandal, and my opinion was that the guy was adequate. Through Secret Love Affair, I have realized that Yoo Ah In is far more than adequate. The way he seems to feel every emotion he portrays with every cell in his body is awe-inspiring. In this regard, I might say that he has a more refined acting ability than the two actors above him on this list. Well, the actor immediately above him, at least.

2. Lee Jong Suk

Doctor Stranger (2014)
*glances at Yoo Ah In* *flashes back to this picture*
Oh, look, Lee Jong Suk's lying down and being sad as well...
I'm sure you are all well-acquainted with Socky Tree Monkey. The past couple of years have been fairly successful for him, with High Kick: Revenge of the Short-Legged in 2011, his part in Secret Garden, and the dramas I've actually seen him in: School 2013, I Hear Your Voice, and the currently-airing Doctor Stranger. Socky Tree Monkey, for me, is the embodiment of sass and bias. The attitude Lee Jong Suk brings to the small screen is adorable, as well as the variety of emotions he is steadily able to portray, convey the potential he has to have continued success in show business. He's pretty. He's precious. He has potential. That's my Socky Tree Monkey in a nutshell.

1. Ji. Chang. Wook. (Warning: unmanageable bias ahead!)

Empress Ki (2013-2014)
Five Fingers (2012)

Meet Life Ruiner, if you haven't already. My ultimate bias has been in a number of successful dramas, including Smile, Dong Hae, Warrior Baek Dong Soo, and recently starred in Empress Ki. I've seen him in Smile, Dong Hae (which I'm still watching at a turtle's pace), Empress Ki, and Five Fingers. Within about five minutes of my first introduction to Life Ruiner in Five Fingers, I was in love. A biased, self-destructive love. The way he speaks. The way he sings. The way he makes facial expressions using his eyebrows. The way he exists in dramas is enough to cause a worrisome decline in my sanity. Ji Chang Wook has spent the past seven-and-a-half months ruining my life. I find nothing wrong with that.

I meant it when I titled this post, "Sass and Bias." Each of these actors either brings too much sass to the screen for me to handle (or just enough), causes my inability to function due to an unexplainable bias, or does a combination of the two. These men are both the banes and the protectors of my existence.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday the First: You're the Best, Lee Soon Shin

Yeah...this probably isn't likely to be anyone's first Kdrama, to be honest...

It's not bad or anything...Some people have criticized it for its slow plot and character development, but that is less of an issue now that you have all fifty episodes to plow through at once as opposed to getting two episodes per week for five months.

Summary (from DramaFever):
Lee Soon Shin (IU) has difficulty living up to the legacy of her name. Despite being named after a powerful general, she's been coddled as the youngest sibling, and is the least successful in her family. When her father passes away suddenly, and the family falls into debt, Soon Shin finds herself desperate to help ease her family's burdens. Her sunny and spirited attitude attracts Shin Joon Ho (Jo Jung Suk), a talent agent banking on a comely return-on-investment. However, both of them get more than they expected when their partnership turns both of their lives around for the better.

(I've noticed that with certain shows *cough* Heirs *cough* it really does help me enjoy the experience more if all of the episodes are available when my finger first presses the "play" button. This is probably one of those shows.)

However, let me reiterate this: fifty episodes. That's over fifty hours, and dramas of this length require just a bit more patience than the Kdramas of the shorter variety. Honestly, I don't know how we got through Boys Over Flowers. And You're the Best, Lee Soon Shin is twice as long. *sighs exasperatedly*

Anyway, this almost was my first Kdrama, actually. I had been listening to IU for a few months by that point, and there also were only about eight episodes available at the time. So this could potentially be someone's first Korean drama. Any drama has this potential, in the end.

Where does this drama's first-Kdrama potential come from?

1) There's always someone to root for. (Or against.)

Most of the scenes in this drama are conflicts within themselves, and it's not difficult to find yourself cheering (or mentally punching) a character in almost every scene. Now, while the amount of second-hand encouragement isn't original, it does keep the energy (and frustration) alive.

2) IU.

Based on my bias for IU, is it any wonder why this nearly was my first drama? If a friend is into K-pop (more specifically, a fan of IU), get that friend to watch some IU dramas. If a friend is a total K-culture newbie, get that friend into both at the same time with an IU drama. She's cute, she's talented enough, and she has that unique ability to make you forget how jealous you are of her prettiness. Her character is growing up (as am I, hence why I relate to the character) and is still finding her way in the world amidst all the daggers everyone throws at her. Again, not exactly original, but certainly cute and catching.

3) As crazy as the drama can be, parts of it are relatable.

Again, this is not an original trait or anything like that...If there isn't at least something that is relatable about a drama, there isn't any way for we, as audience members, to connect with the characters. However, since the drama consists of 50 episodes, each character is given his or her time to reveal traits, pasts, and motivations to draw us in to his or her heart. (I personally related the most to IU, but that's a result of both her character and her identity, so such a revelation is kind of biased.)

4) As dragged-out as the conflicts are, the frustration and the hope that everything will work out is compelling enough to keep you watching.

What better way to be introduced to the immense frustration that threatens to send your computer across the room in fury than to watch a weekend drama? After all, frustration and length make for multiple character arcs (for each character) and conflicts that just scream, "Marathon until Conflict Resolution!"

5) Jaebangsa-ajussi.

Heck, all of the good guys, really.

Especially, you know, the one who is the male lead...
But Shin Joon Ho isn't nearly as sweet as this guy...
...or this guy...
...or Jaebangsa-ajussi.
"Jaebangsa" is the Korean word for "baker," as far as I could tell from the Internet. So for the past eight months or so, my nickname for Jung Woo - no matter how many other fans will call him Trash because of Answer Me 1994, which I haven't yet seen - has and will remain "Jaebangsa-ajussi." Jaebangsa-ajussi's character, Park Chan Woo, Shin Joon Ho, and Kim Young Hoon are the sweetest bunch of men a woman could ever want. Well, maybe not Shin Joon Ho as much, but he is the male lead, so I'll cut him some slack. In any case, if you want your first Kdrama experience to raise your expectations of men (if you like men, that is), look no further.

IU and the men pictured above are what make You're the Best, Lee Soon Shin a worthy contender for a newbie's or a veteran's viewing. There's also the opportunity to soak your feet in frustration, but who needs that when you have precious people turning you into a puddle?

Disclaimer: Pamela is not responsible for any arguments, addictions, loss of social lives, increased understanding, or ridicule that may result from this post.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Uncertain Indecisiveness: Pamela's Top 5 Kdrama Actresses

Really, please ignore this post...It's gotten me nowhere...Like the title of the post implies, I'm uncertain about this topic, and I still haven't made a final decision on this list...(I don't want to delete this post, though :P) I'll probably make another post another time when I come up with a better list. :)

It's happening - the anniversary of my venture into the Korean Drama life vacuum is supposedly happening. The anniversary of my birth is definitely happening, but that's not nearly as important.

Now, for the next few weeks - as I can only post these "Top [insert standard countdown number here]" lists so frequently and for so long - I will be making lists that countdown different aspects of my Kdrama experience. Who are my top actresses? Actors? What are my favorite OSTs? In the end, what is my favorite drama? (That last one's going to be difficult, let me tell you. There will be a few tears shed.)

But let's start with actresses. You probably won't agree with the positions these females hold on this list. Heck, I'm not even sure if I agree with them. Between the 26 dramas I've completed and the 5 I'm currently watching, though, I will try to conjure up a list that makes sense.

5) Gong Hyo Jin

Master's Sun (2013)

Gong Hyo Jin likely deserves a higher spot on this list. I'm aware of that...If I had had more exposure to her besides through Master's Sun, she probably would have a higher spot. I enjoyed her in Master's Sun...once I got past my preconceived notions concerning the drama and actually started enjoying it and her. (This wasn't until around episode 5 or 6.) Gong Hyo Jin has remained in my mind more than other actresses with a modicum of a chance of being on this list, at the very least.

I promise, Gong Hyo Jin, to view more of your projects so that my only opinion of you isn't one that has been forgotten over the seven-and-a-half months since Master's Sun's conclusion...I will eventually fulfill this promise.

4) Park Shin Hye

Flower Boy Next Door (2013)
In contrast to industry veteran Gong Hyo Jin, I have seen three of Park Shin Hye's dramas: Flower Boy Next Door, Heirs, and You're Beautiful. The improvement I saw in her acting ability when I watched You're Beautiful after having seen the former two are part of the charm I see in her. Also, Park Shin Hye has been shown to convey joy, sadness, bubbly-ness, sass, and exasperation - on the screen, she can pretty much do anything but kiss.

3) Ha Ji Won
Empress Ki (2013-2014)
Ha Ji Won is in the same situation as Gong Hyo Jin, as I have also only seen one drama featuring Ha Ji Won...Judging by her performance in Empress Ki, I have a feeling that I will enjoy (very, very enthusiastically) her other dramas. She has the glaring, the smiling, the sobbing, and more mastered. (Ha Ji Won is also has a pretty good chance of being bumped up the list later on. :) )

2) IU

You're The Best, Lee Soon Shin (2013)

On the other hand, I have seen all of IU's dramas (and as she's primarily a singer and thus is only in three dramas, it isn't surprising that I have.). I would put her as my favorite, but that would be submitting to my intense bias for my awesome and adorable unni. (By the way, she's turning 21 right now if I take into consideration the 13-hour time difference...WAIT, so I technically have the same birthday as IU?! O~O)

1) Jin Se Yeon...ish

Five Fingers (2012)
You know, I'm not really certain as to why I'm giving Jin Se Yeon the number-one spot...Part of this is due to my IU bias, but there's also the dislike a lot of the online Kdrama community seems to have for Jin Se Yeon...But she's only 20. For a 20-year old, she's doing fairly well. And I actually like her. She may end up falling to a lower spot on this list later on, but I'm going to give her support because I can. 

The actresses on this list are not evenly matched. I have seen three dramas each that include Park Shin Hye, Jin Se Yeon, and IU. I have only seen one Ha Ji Won and one Gong Hyo Jin drama, so the odds are kind of unfair. After I get more acquainted with these and other actresses, the list will likely change. I'm only seventeen, after all; there is plenty of time for me to expand my horizon of Kdrama female interests.

There's also the issue of experience. The top 3 actresses on the list have varying experience. Ha Ji Won is a little less than two decades older than me, and has had time to perfect her craft. IU turns 21 the day after my birthday, and has had more musical experience, but her acting experience consists of her being adorable. Jin Se Yeon just turned 20 back in February, and Doctor Stranger - which she is currently starring in - is her fourth drama as a main lead. IU and Jin Se Yeon have more to learn, but I find them enjoyable and with potential, hence why I rate them so highly. I guess you could say they're my favorite unni actresses, and that Ha Ji Won is my favorite ajumma actress. (Or mega-unni, if that's how you'd prefer to look at it.)

We may not agree on my choices, but thanks for stopping by, anyway! 

(By the way, this is my fiftieth post! *cue celebratory dance*)


(Update: June 21, 2014 - I've since asked my unnis over at Operation: Kdrama Chat about why it is that people dislike Jin Se Yeon so much...She isn't that skilled of an actress, and I'm not sure what it is that gets me to like her, but I like her. She likely won't stay at the position she's at, or maybe as she hopefully improves her acting skills, she'll return to the position she currently holds. Really, I don't know who my favorite actress is. :P)
(Update: July 2, 2014 - You know, maybe I should put Park Min Young on this list...I'm currently rewatching City Hunter with my next-door neighbor - it's her first drama - and I'm seeing her in A New Leaf...I don't think I'd be as apprehensive about this list if Park Min Young was on it instead of either Park Shin Hye or Jin Se Yeon...Eh, I'll figure it out. Sorry...)

If you want to see the list as it's in development, here's the link to the list I made on mydramalist. :)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cue Celebratory Dance: Upcoming Kdrama Anniversary!

It's nearly official - almost a year of my life has been spent watching Asian television.

Now, I don't know the exact date of the day I decided to watch past those first four minutes of Boys Over Flowers, but I know the approximate week, at least! See, I know that I watched - and then exited promptly following - the first four minutes of Boys Over Flowers. Then, I spent a week slugging my way through 200 Pounds Beauty. (Yes, slugging. Firstly, I had softball and homework. Secondly, I had - and have - weight insecurities and singing skills myself, but the film just didn't keep my attention, so it took  me a week to finish.) According to Netflix, I completed the movie on May 5, which was a Sunday last year. (Just in case you were dying to know.)

Over the course of the week that followed the movie completion, I would be in class or on the softball field, and my mind would suddenly flash back to Geum Jan Di riding her bike to Shinhwa for ten seconds. At some point, I decided to return to the first episode and watch more than Geum Jan Di on a bike.

Part of me wants to say this decision was made on my birthday, which was the next week. Before I deliberate with myself over the state of my memory, let's just say my birthday is my Kdrama anniversary.

"I like it. Simple, easy to remember." -Jack Sparrow
I wouldn't be that far off the mark, if it were to be discovered that the day was different. *shrugs*

Anyway...on to my point!

So since my birthday is the day after my final AP exam, and I don't have a game as of yet, I'm thinking of starting a series of posts on my birthday that detail the Asian dramas I have seen in the past year. The posts will be the basic stuff: favorite dramas, favorite OSTs, favorite actors, with maybe a few random lists thrown in for the fun.

In addition, I have a few reviews to write, as you can see from the side bar. I'm not going to write a review on all of the dramas I have completed over the past two months, as I honestly don't want to have 7+ reviews to write at once. Oh, and "Wopping Wednesday" and "Friday the First" will be picked back up as well, just on a rotary-publishing basis. (The next "Wopping Wednesday" and "Friday the First" will feature Miss A and You're the Best, Lee Soon Shin, in case you were wondering.)

Yeah, I'm prepared to sink back into the quicksand of the Korean drama world just as soon as I walk away from that third AP exam. That will be a nice birthday present for myself!

May 15th - be there or be...not there!