Welcome to K-Dramaland

I have to confess, I have given in to Korean dramas. I know, I know, I’m not the type who can be bothered by TV shows in general so this  came to me as a big surprise. I also know I’m late in the game.  I’ve been aware for a while now how extremely popular K-dramas are in Asian communities, and that’s exactly why I avoided them like the plague. Mainstream doesn’t usually sit well with me since it seldom brings quality.

So how did this change of heart happen?  Well, one night I was browsing on YouTube for movies to watch and the title “Secret Garden” kept popping up.  Curious I clicked it and there started my drama marathon.  In less than a year I’ve finished watching several of them.  I admit I was surprised at first at how entertaining they were.  I thought when I would be done scratching the façade I would only find a veneer inside.  Happy I was wrong.

Below are the list and quick reviews of the ones I watched.  I’m also including my ratings having five stars as the highest:

Title:  Secret Garden (2010)/  Number of episodes:  20/  My rating: 4 stars

This is the one that took me to Dramaland and left me there to explore.  It had me right at the pilot episode and held on to me weeks after I finished watching all 20 of them.

I have to say the plot was from recycled materials.  We’ve seen evil mothers as main antagonists since the conception of dramas.  We’ve seen love that is to die for before, and body-switching is not really a new kid on the block.  What got me ticking was the combination of great OST, stellar acting, killer lines and the hilarity that was Oska. I actually loved the supporting characters rather than the main ones.  Oska’s lines as well as his fashion statements had me cracking up like a loon.  There were several moments I wished he was my best friend and that we were trotting around Europe together in our identical Louis Vuitton leopard print scarves.  His would be the real deal.  Mine would be a copycat.

Oh, I couldn’t end here without giving special mention to the OST.  It’s fantastic and very well-chosen to suit or highlight the mood of the scenes.  If I had to describe Secret Garden in just two words I would say hilarious and magical. Yes, Oska brought the house down but the OST definitely helped, if not created, the magic.

And because I couldn’t help but be convinced Oska and I are meant to be buddies for life, I’m leaving everyone some proof that we do have a connection:

Oska in his leopard print scarf. Probably a Louis Vuitton since I’ve known him for twenty hours as someone who is into high-end fashion.

Oska’s future bff, Headless Me, in my copycat spots. I can just imagine us cracking up together here in Dam Square, Amsterdam, throwing V signs left and right. Now wouldn’t that be awesome?

Title:  City Hunter (2011) /  Number of episodes:  20 / My rating: 4 stars

A mega monster hit that’s easy to understand why—top-notch directing, acting, writing and editing rolled into one.  This drama would easily spoil you rotten and would raise the bar to your definition of awesome.

I read somewhere that its lead star, Lee Min Ho, had to train for modern arnis in preparation for this show.  His effort certainly paid off because this show’s fight scenes are badassery to the highest level.  These butt-kicking scenes are the driving force of this drama, well, at least for me.  I felt like I was a kid again watching a Lito Lapid movie with my fist pumping in the air every time Yoon Sung (LMH’s character) delivered those smooth moves.  (Ok, I don’t fist pump anymore but you get the picture.)

I can’t find a single flaw in this show except, for some unknown reason, it didn’t really touch base with my heart.  When the dust settled I was left with only one thought – “Dang, Lee Min Ho in his pink skinny pants will certainly go down in history!”

Those pink pants that stirred the web and caused collective  swooning and thudding of fangirls on the floor…Hot or not? (Photo credit: Google Images)

Title:  Lie To Me (2011) / Number of Episodes: 16  / My Rating:  2.5 stars

I won’t lie to you — this 16-episode drama would probably be a waste of your time.  There’s really nothing much in the 16 hours of air time except her trying to keep this pretense of being married to a third-generation chaebol and him trying to tell her off.  Well, of course, this is just the first half of the show.  The other half is when they try to keep everyone, including themselves, into believing that this lie is true.

For a Yoo Eun-Hye drama, this was probably a big disappointment to some. I didn’t mind the lackluster script though.  Sometimes you watch something because of someone and that was the case for me.  YEH has such a knack of giving her characters a brand of sweetness that even the picky me easily forgives them when they make a complete mess of themselves.  So I went along for the ride and got rewarded with a sweet love story that could have been a lot sweeter had the script remembered to do its job.

Title:  Personal  Taste (2010) / Number of episodes:  16 /  My rating:  2 stars

What’s the story about again?  Oh, right.  He’s an architect who’s making ends meet for his company.    He pretends to be gay so he can be roomies with a girl whose house is rumored to be an architect’s dream but has never been opened to the public.  Ultimately his goal is to get hold of its blueprints but he gets sidetracked when he falls in love with her.

If you’re into romantic comedies with a bit of cheesy stuff sprinkled here and there, this is your show.  But I like my cheese only in my salad or pasta so I say no, thank you.  I also hold on arm’s length any show that has a heroine that’s noisy, clumsy, gets drunk and gets a piggyback ride after passing out.  The classic damsel in distress syndrome belongs to my “Not Cute” file.  Still, I diligently watched it from episode 1-8 then jumped to the famous “Game Over kiss” before heading straight to the ending.  The show and I were officially over without any bitterness or feelings of shoulda, woulda, coulda on my part.

Title:  You’ve Fallen For Me/Heartstrings (2011) / Number of episodes:  15 / My rating:  2.5 stars

This is the kind of show I like to watch when I get home dead beat from work and my brain is empty from the day’s battle.  I just want to stare at my computer screen and be entertained by all things bright and beautiful with nothing in them that is hard to digest.

Set in a university of culture and arts, our protagonists are students majoring in music.   He’s popular, she’s not.  It’s the usual Pretty Boy meets Wallflower sort of story laced with college politics and embellished with music.

I say this freely — I like it plainly for the cuteness that is Jung Yong Hwa and the prettiness that is Park Shin-Hye.  Still, there’s only so much the eye-candies can do for 15 episodes so they aren’t the show’s saving grace.  Music is.  Without it I think I would rather chill by doing my laundry.

Title:  Faith (2012) /  Number of episodes: 24 /  My rating:  5 stars

It’s never easy to describe the one you fell the hardest with.  It’s even harder to explain why you fell in the first place. I never thought I would get so invested in a drama especially since I was so snooty about them before.  Oh well, karma certainly has a way of tapping you on the shoulder.  But if this was the worst karma can do, I’m happily saying back “hey you.”

A lot of it has been said on threads and online discussions  so I won’t go into details about the plot or why I am besotted.  Besides, I don’t think I can even if I try.  It’s too special for me to dissect into a few hundred words.  I’ll just say it’s the first drama I watched live,  the first one with characters I felt so protective or proud of  like they were my own children, and the first ever to make me think so hard I couldn’t sleep.  The writing left plenty of space for me to fill, analyze and even question.  It delayed gratification but when it finally gave in to my cravings I had this silly grin on my face that lasted for days.

Yes, it has flaws that are left out in the open for everyone to see but I still love it to bits. I guess that’s how it is when you love.  You just do.  Because the heart loves what the heart loves.

I think this is the longest I’ve ever posted online so I’ll stop here.  There are still a couple of shows I watched and wanted to include here but I’ll just save them for later.

I get my quick fix of K-dramas from http://www.dramacrazy.net or http://www.dramafans.org  though I’m currently taking a break from them.  I’m however leaving my radar up in case something catches my fancy.

What about you?  What have you watched and what are you watching?

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4 Responses to Welcome to K-Dramaland

  1. Dawn says:

    Seriously? All these K? Wow hah!!!! Grabeh na ka.

  2. Dawn says:

    Hahahaha, me? Not yet hooked but someday i will try. I hear some are good. Right now just busy concentrating with abs-cbn. Maybe we can chat and discuss our korean Heartthrob later.

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