One of the benefits to a KOCOWA subscription…

On those evenings when I know it’s too late to start watching something in progress (because I have little restraint and will stay up too late watching more episodes than is good for me), I’ve taken advantage of my subscription to sample some of their older titles on offer. I try and find episodes that I particularly loved in shows that I loved, like Damo (2003).

Swoon… Lee Seo-jin (who will ever be “Sawesome” to me) as the Commander Hwang-bo, the protector and love of Ha Ji-won’s police ‘damo’ Chae-ok, and their myriad looks of longing…

Here’s the DramaWiki synopsis for those of you who’ve never had the pleasure of watching this (spoiler warning: tragic) romance:

“This series took place in the Chosun Dynasty. Chae Ok was separated from her brother when her father, a nobleman, was accused of treason. She managed to make her way and becomes a Damo, a low ranked woman detective. Skilled in swordplay, she must not only fight crime but face inequality because of her status in society. Her brother grew up to be a rebel leader fighting against social injustice and both brother and sister faced off against each other on opposite sides of the law.”

#damo, #ha-ji-won, #kim-min-joon, #kocowa, #lee-seo-jin

Me, awaiting “Her Private Life”

Dare I look? Please let it be good! Give Kim Jae-wook the leading man role we’ve always thought he deserved!

#her-private-life, #kim-jae-wook, #park-min-young

Looking for something new? Maybe a Psychometric Guy is your type!

I’ve watched the first 6 episodes available on Viki (the show is currently airing) and I gotta say, I am enjoying this series so far.

You’ve got a pretty winning combination in the 2 young men who are “brothers” as the result of a traumatic past experience in Park Jin-young (of GOT7, seen previously also in Legend of the Blue Sea) and Kim Kwon (of the handsome forehead 😉). They have managed to convey a touching and natural bond in just the first few episodes, especially younger ‘brother’ Jin-young (the titular psychometric guy), maybe because he’s so used to hanging around with a group of  hyungs and dongsaengs in his group and fellow label artists. Kim Kwon’s reserved yet attentive hyung suits him to a T.

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#he-is-psychometric, #kim-da-som, #kim-kwon, #park-jin-young, #shin-ye-eun, #that-psychometric-guy

Look Back: A “Salaryman” Worth His Weight in Gold

This review originally appeared in the Korean Quarterly

“Bold,” “brash,” “funny,” and “playing for keeps” – those are descriptions that can be applied in equal measure to not one but nearly each member of the cast of the raucous comedy-drama, “History of a Salaryman,” from SBS. One might well add “brave” and “devious” too.

Far from the traditional makjang dramas of hidden births and family secrets or stories of puppy love, “Salaryman” is a colorful re-imagining of the historical tale of the events leading up to the creation of the Han Dynasty in China, known as the Chu-Han Contention (206-202 BC). Cleverly weaving parallels to characters past and present and mapping out the ebb and flow of battle successes and failures, history has rarely been so amusing.

An Atypical Hero

The unlikely lead (or at least that is how he seems) and the titular salaryman is Yoo Bang, the Liu Bang of centuries past. He is played with an appealing zest by the youthful Lee Beom-soo. (And “youthful” is a particularly appropriate adjective in this case, as the story develops.) Yoo Bang not only is saddled with an unfortunate name (when not reading his name in it’s original Chinese characters it can refer to breasts), but he’s from a decidedly working class background.

salary1At the start of the story, Yoo Bang is unsuccessfully trying to fulfill his (now deceased) father’s most devout wish; that his son would go to college, get a job at a proper company, and wear business shoes every day – not work some menial job as he’d done. Yoo Bang has gone to college, but it’s some no-name, low prestige school and now he’s finding his task nearly impossible. He’s filling in some paperwork to participate in a medical study for some much-needed cash when he spots a fashionable, attractive, and graceful-looking young woman in a café opposite. He daydreams about how sweet and lovely her voice must be.

Fabulous (Fabulously Foul-mouthed)

Were he to be in the position of the wait-staff in the café he’d be in for a rude awakening for this is, in fact, the fantastically spoiled and foul-mouthed granddaughter of the Chu Han conglomerate, Baek Yeo-chi. With flaming red hair and a fiery tongue to match, Yeo-chi dialogue is 50% expletives-deleted as she chews out one person after another. In a radical departure from many of her other roles, Jung Ryu-won sets out brilliantly as the unforgettable heiress.

Salaryman_29If there is a contention, there must be an antagonist, and in “Salaryman” there are, in fact, several contenders for the role of chief villain. The most prominent of these (and not just because he dwarfs Lee Beom-soo by about six inches), is the dashing, American-educated marketing wunderkind and evil genius strategist, Cho Hang-woo. Jung Gyu-woon, who normally plays more conventional athletic and handsome leading men type roles, jumps in feet first to play the unscrupulous Hang-woo – Liu Bang’s ancient rival, Xiang Yu.

Continue, to read more of this review (plot-related spoiler level: medium-low)

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#a-history-of-a-salaryman, #hong-soo-hyun, #jung-gyu-woon, #jung-ryeo-won, #kim-suh-hyung, #lee-beom-soo, #lee-ki-young

I’ve fallen down the “Ever Night” rabbit hole

The bags under my eyes are starting to resemble those of veteran actor Ni Dahong!

I’m up to episode 45 (of 60, not 75, it turns out) of Ever Night and my imagination is too filled with it to stop watching at a sensible hour. (By the way, if he looks familiar, he was the Emperor in Rise of the Phoenixes.)

More (non-spoilery) after the break.

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#arthur-chen, #chen-fei-yu, #chin-shih-chieh, #ever-night, #leon-lai, #marco-chen, #ni-dahong, #shi-shi, #song-yi-ren, #tong-yao

Yes, I started (another) new drama – Ever Night

What is it that’s keeping me from finishing Nirvana in Fire 2? Why am I starting other dramas in its place? I don’t know, but I know that I liked the first 5 episodes of Ever Night, with its extensive huge cast, and two very young leads, Arthur Chen and Song Yi Ren.

The choice of Chen came under scrutiny even before the show aired as his prior experience was a film role in a movie directed by his famous director father, Chen Kaige, plus he was just about 18 at the time of filming, but so far his youthful brashness works. This is also a “part one” and in the second part his character will be played by an older actor. Song Yi Ren is his perfect petite sidekick.

It’s going to be 75 episodes of battles, scheming, special effects, wuxia, and me trying to remember who’s who for the next few episodes, but I like what I’ve seen.

The plot is complex, but in a nutshell, he’s the survivor of a plot where a general (his father?) was killed and he’s playing the long game for getting revenge. He found her as a baby, the apparent survivor of another slaughter. There’s a big bad event coming, the “ever night,” thanks to the King of Hades and it’s bad for humans and somehow she’s at the crux of the matter.

Oh, and before I forget… I kept thinking that they spent a lot of money on getting a big name star for one character, the Princess of the Tang Emperor. She looks so much like Zhang Zhiyi, but it’s Tong Yao. Judge for yourself; google both and compare!

#arthur-chen, #chen-fei-yu, #ever-night, #leon-lai, #song-yi-ren, #tong-yao

More for my short attention span – Page Turner

Only 3 episodes! Page Turner was perfect for my shorter viewing schedule this weekend (and my restlessness when it comes to continuing with already-in-progress shows).

I had meant to watch Page Turner when it first was released (had it bookmarked on Dramafever, of course) but never got around to it and then… Dramafever.

I have a soft spot for Ji Soo and I was not disappointed. He’s the go-getter, buckets of personality and ambition type and could not be cuter in this shorty. I especially enjoyed his bromance with Shin Jae-ha (who I liked in A Poem A Day too). His desire not only to find a way to make his single mother proud and get over a sports-related disappointment and channel his energy (abundant) into helping a troubled girl facing her own crisis (Kim So-hyun) and find a way to give meaning to an unhappy young man too (Shin Jae-ha) makes him the prime candidate for cutest Energizer® Bunny of the year.

My only complaint is that the story could have used an epilogue for his character (the other 2 get one), but this is a short and sweet little time waster.

#ji-soo, #kim-so-hyun, #page-turner, #shin-jae-ha, #ye-ji-won