In our last Long Yak of 2018, we cover a bunch of recently completed dramas, express our expectations of newly airing ones, and notice a strong theme of ableism in Korean dramas lately—if a male lead isn’t perfectly perfect in body and mind, he can’t be a hero.
Once again, thanks so much to Kdramadaydreamer for typing up this transcript in her own time. Also because the theme of this episode ended up becoming ableism in K-dramas, it makes us especially happy to post this transcript, in the hopes that it might be enjoyed by someone who is unable to listen to the pod in its usual form.
Join us in our #DecemberDramas one-tweet review festival on Twitter (@dramasoverflow) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out our Patreon page for outtakes and spoiler discussions!
Have a great holiday everyone!
00:02:09 – Email: How to get involved in the Kdrama Fandom?
00:11:26 – Patreon shoutouts!
CURRENTLY AIRING –
00:27:27 – TOP STAR YOO BAEK
00:45:13 – CLEAN WITH PASSION FOR NOW
00:56:37 – RED MOON BLUE SUN
01:01:55 – MEMORIES OF THE ALHAMBRA
COMPLETED DRAMAS –
01:13:14 – WHERE STARS LAND/FOX BRIDE STARS
01:30:25 – TERIUS BEHIND ME
01:34:46 – FAMILIAR WIFE
01:36:02 – BEAUTY INSIDE
01:46:15 – THE SMILE HAS LEFT YOUR EYES
UPCOMING DECEMBER DRAMAS –
01:52:29 – Fates and Furies
01:52:36 – Coffee Please
01:57:15 – Just Dance/ Dance Sports Girls
01:59:17 – The Return of Revenge
MEET OUR AWESOME PATRONS –
Intro: I’m Saya, and you’re listening to Dramas Over Flowers! Welcome back for another Long Yak. We start off by answering a listener email about how to get involved in the fandom. Moving on to what we are watching, you can hear our take on nearly all of the new shows that premiered. It’s a long list: we talk about The Last Empress, Top Star Yoo Baek, Clean with Passion for Now, Red Moon Blue Sun (also called Children of Nobody), and we take a really fleeting peak at Memories of the Alhambra. We also wrap up our thoughts on departing shows Where Stars Land, aka Fox Bride Star, Terius Behind Me, The Beauty Inside, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes, aka 100 Million Stars Falling from the Sky, and Familiar Wife. Feel free to use the time stamps to navigate the episode. Enjoy! See you on the other side…
Saya: Hi everyone – this is Saya
Anisa: This is Anisa
Paroma: And this is Paroma!
Saya: And this is the third time that we’ve tried to say hello in a way that didn’t mess up.
Anisa: Let’s not count, because apparently we are not so good at counting, let’s just jump in.
Saya: We also have not mastered the art of greeting.
Paroma: No, we have not. We’re never going to be professional podcasters, guys – we might as well just accept that
Saya: By the time that you get to number ten, you should at least know how to say hello.
Paroma: Because, in truth, this is like our 29th episode of this podcast – seriously – by now we should have had a little more finesse. What are we doing?
Saya: Maybe they’d like us less if we were more finessey.
Paroma: Email us! Tweet us @dramasoverflow and tell us if you want to get more finesse.
Anisa: So, speaking of emailing us, we recently got a lovely email from Paige who sent – I’m just going to read her email out loud because we thought the question that she asked was something that we thought a lot of fans might be interested in and it would be good to answer it on the podcast. So, Paige says, “Hi there, I recently discovered your podcast and I’m really enjoying it. I live in the States and wish there was more that I knew about how to get involved as a fan. I recently heard on one of your podcasts that one of you volunteers at Viki and I wondered if you could let me know of any opportunities to get involved writing or freelancing or otherwise as a fan.” So, thank you for enjoying our podcast first of all, and Saya I’m going to bump that over to you, because you are the one that volunteers at Viki.
Saya: I was on mute, sorry, I have to unmute myself. Starting with Viki, it’s pretty easy to get involved with Viki, one of the – when you log in there’s a page, when you scroll down to the bottom it says “Contribute to Viki” – this is how to get involved in the community. There are two main ways to contribute to Viki. So, what happens there is they receive raw videos and they are fansubbed by the community, so videos have to be segmented which is like a technical thing where the video/audio is chopped into bits where subtitlers would put their subtitles. So that you can do without any Korean fluency, and you can take tutorials on how to do that, so anyone can do that. The second way to contribute is by subtitling and that would require either Korean fluency or fluency in another language that is not English, so you could translate from Korean into English or any other language or from English into a different language like Spanish or Italian or Bengali. There is such a dearth of Bengali subbers – if you can sub in Bengali, please do it!
Paroma: Yes, I did a bit of You’re Beautiful and I did, I think, three episodes or four episodes and I just didn’t have time to do any more, but I really regret that – I do think we need more Bengali subbers.
Saya: Yeah, man – I just want one full drama to be subbed in Bengali – something that my mum can watch and then I can finally watch dramas with her. So yeah, that’s one way And also just to be very clear, we as podcasters don’t have any affiliations with any other groups – we are completely independent, but yeah, we do stuff in other places. I think the first thing to do to get involved in contributing back is to just join a community – there’s a few places you can choose – we hang out at Dramabeans, there’s Soompi, there’s My Drama List…
Paroma: My Drama List, which is one of my favorite places to find recommendations for pretty much any trope that you can think of. Recently, I was looking for best friends to lovers and they have some amazing recommendations from the community there.
Saya: So there’s a lot more resources right now than there were even a year or two ago. Even on Reddit, there’s a dedicated Reddit page for K-dramas which is not that active – I think that is not where K-drama fans hang out.
Paroma: No, not that much.
Saya: But I think the biggest places are Viki, Dramabeans, Soompi, My Drama List and then there are a few big growing fan sites – places like Dramamilk who do live recaps – hi friends at Dramamilk, and Twitter is a place where a lot of fans hang out – we hang out there a lot as well.
Anisa: There’s also Rabb.it, where a lot of fans do watch-alongs – if you don’t know what Rabb.it is, it’s a place where you can stream something in a room and invite other people to watch the same thing that you are at the some time so it’s really fun if you like – a lot of Beanies hang out a lot there on the weekends and watch things together.
Saya: Yea, they actually have a dedicated calendar for the shows that they are watching – like right now they are in the middle of Dal-ja’s Spring, and last month was I’m Not a Robot, and we watch Flower Boy Band, basically they have a fully preplanned calendar and it’s great. When they have those they have people that are watching for the first time, people that are rewatching – the downside of Rabb.it is that I think that the app is a bit glitchy right now because they’ve been doing weird upgrades with things that doesn’t seem like everybody likes and also the chat moves really fast in a way where you can’t go back to yesterday’s chat or something and find things – you are always in the moment with it. There are other opportunities, like if you want to write stuff – if you want to write articles or essays, Dramabeans runs a monthly theme of the month feature which takes a topic – just any topic, from something about dramas and fans can write in with their own essays and their own thoughts on a subject – and that’s a really good way to see your work published right away. And then places like My Drama List – they have had quite a recent recruitment for writers, and most of these are voluntary, very little of it is paid. This is all a by fans for fans running on love kind of thing. What else is there?
Anisa: That’s a good place to start – you offered a lot of really good information.
Paroma: It all depends on where you find your crowd and you might not find it on My Drama List, you might not find it on Twitter, you just have to be patient and read other people’s stuff and see where else they hang out and to be honest, if you’re a newbie, Dramabeans is the best place – those Beanies are really welcoming and if you follow their weekly open thread, that’s the best place to find new friends. Just introduce yourself and start talking dramas and other people will find you. You can post on your wall there if you have a registered account, and once you find friends there you can find them on other social media as well. That’s your tribe, then.
Saya: And it’s a step up from Oppa wars! You can actually talk about stuff in detail in a thoughtful way with other people who are thinking along the same lines as you and who will take your fandom as seriously as you take it, so definitely, you will find your people. And the other great thing that happens when you find your people is that you start having ideas of your own, you bounce them off each other, you start doing things – we’ve got a friend, a Beanie friend, who has started doing Kpop covers. One of them is in one country, one of them is in another, it’s like – did I just make that part up – no, they are in different countries and they are doing musical collaborations. So it’s all about how – what kind of ideas you have and what you can bring to the table, you can find people that have the same interests and do your own thing.
Paroma: But, before we move on from this topic, I just want to put in a slight plug for our Twitter hashtag for the month which is #DecemberDramas – we’re doing one tweet reviews for all the dramas that we have watched throughout the year, and we have had so many of our friends on Twitter tweeting with us – well they are tweeting way more than us.
Anisa: I’m so excited!
Saya: I’m like, I’m just going to sit back and watch, I have nothing to say!
Anisa: I know – we started this last year – last December –
Saya: By accident –
Anisa: We were like, what are we going to do at the end of the year and we were just like, let’s just do one tweet reviews, because we didn’t have time to do a massive year-end podcast and it ended up, you know, it was just a few of us, but by the end of the month a lot of other people joined. But, I’m so excited to see how many people are tweeting already and it’s only been like one day! It’s very, very exciting.
Paroma: I know, and it’s hilarious – some of the tweets.
Anisa: They’re great – go and check out the #DecemberDramas tag on Twitter because there’s a wealth of lovely reviews.
Saya: And join in if you want to!
Anisa: Yes, and we will re-tweet you! Just put in the hashtag and we will find you and re-tweet you.
Paroma: Yes, we love reading these – these are some amazing reviews.
Anisa: So, on that note of fan interaction and support, take it away Paroma.
Paroma: Oh my god, yes. Thank you, Patrons! We have five new patrons – guys, this is so unbelievable the moment we had that notification – you have email notifications on your phone and I have mine on for our email – just email@example.com – wow, I’m getting pretty good at this plugging thing – and I got the notification and I was chatting with Saya on hangout and we were talking about something else and in the middle – she was typing her response to what I said and in the middle I started, like capslock screaming.
Saya: In the middle she had a heart attack!
Paroma: Oh my god, I was screaming – I was like Saya, did you see!? We got our first patron – why? Why would anybody give us money? Why do they even care?
Anisa: It’s really – we appreciate it so much. Thank you so much. We were just making high pitched noises for a while.
Saya: It’s funny because, basically, when we were launching this, I remember Paroma saying like, “Basically this is just going to be tumbleweed for six months and maybe we’ll be lucky if someone signs up with a dollar,” and we would have been super happy with that, so to have five patrons in just the first month – it’s like, wow guys.
Anisa: We are really, really beyond moved and touched and delighted.
Paroma: So, we just want to give a shout out to our first five patrons – all of you are so amazing guys, thank you for supporting us – that’s so amazing. We also have patrons on all three of our tiers which is so cool – we get to give out, well we don’t – do we have amazing benefits – we don’t, but whatever – it’s ok kind of benefits and we get to give them out to Elizabeth G, Stephen B, Lia W, Kimbap Noona, and Hades. Yeah, there you are, those are our patrons and we are super, super thankful and surprised, we are so surprised
Saya: I’m not sure if it is more amazing to have names we recognize or to have names we don’t recognize, because, like a couple of these are our friends from other fandoms and a couple of people, we had no idea who were listening to us and existed and I’m not sure which is more mind blowing – both of them are like, super mind-blowing.
Paroma: Both of them are mind-blowing – because I don’t know anybody that I know in my personal life who would put in a single dollar to help me out, like in the whole podcast thing – but like friends on the internet are like way more supportive and trusting about it.
Saya: We love you guys.
Paroma: Yeah, we do.
Anisa: Ok, now, so I think we should segue to the…
Paroma: Yeah, moving on with less screaming…we have to cover currently airing, and there are some good ones. We didn’t think that December would bring a lot of – there were some good shows we were looking forward to when we were covering upcomings in the last podcast, but I don’t think any of us was, like, super pumped about any particular drama. Were you guys looking forward to any particular one?
Saya: I actually was, but the weird thing is that all of the ones that I picked up were the ones that I did not intend to watch at all.
Paroma: Yeah, me too, pretty much, same here.
Saya: And I haven’t started the ones that I did intend to watch.
Paroma: Yeah, again same here. For instance, I did not intend to start watching Top Star Yoo Baek which I did just because the premise was funny, I needed to watch it and also Clean with Passion for Now – I was not expecting to like it or start it but I did and we will get to it. But first, let’s talk about The Last Empress.
Saya: Oh, are you watching this? I just looked at the list and realized that you are. I’m one episode behind by the way, so four episodes have aired, but I am one episode behind.
Paroma: So am I, I have just watched until episode three.
Saya: Ok, this show is nuts. I love it.
Anisa: So, what’s like the basic, one-line premise, because I don’t remember.
Paroma: Saya, you want to take that?
Saya: I actually was hoping you would because one line premises are not my forte…
Paroma: One line, wow, you guys do not know me well if you expect me to do this in one line, but I am going to give it a shot. Ok, let’s see, so you have this generic candy character which is played by Jang Na-ra, she’s a singing, stage, theater woman – sorry, that sounds bad – she’s a musical actress.
Saya: And it’s set in this fictional Korea with a constitutional monarchy, where –
Paroma: Right, it’s a lot like King Two Hearts so you have Shin Sung-rok acting like the royal – well – emperor –
Saya: Emperor, if you are not familiar with this guy this is – You From Another Star, How is Your Health, and His Twisty Nail Ring?____
Saya: The thing is, everyone’s the villain, this is great. It’s absolutely insane.
Paroma: It’s kind of amazing. Yeah, right now you actually root a bit for the villains. I didn’t think the villains would be drawn so compellingly, but hey let me finish the premise – my sentence is undone. So, Jang Na-ra who’s the candy character she is poor, hardworking, sings and acts well, but doesn’t get enough opportunities, but she’s super optimistic and sunshine and rainbows – that’s your typical heroine. You guys can tell how I feel about this right now, but she accidentally gets into the emperor’s ambit, but the emperor is involved in something where he needs a cover and he uses her and she ends up becoming the next empress, sort of.
Anisa: Oh, interesting.
Saya: But, we haven’t quite got to that point yet.
Paroma: No, we haven’t gotten to that point yet, but this is like a basic synopsis thing, everybody knows this. But where does Choi Jin-hyuk come in – he is a man with a vendetta, something happens and he comes in for revenge, but before he comes in…
Saya: It’s a, you know if you guys watched Wok of Love, or Live Up to Your Name, Tae Hang-ho who is the guy with the curly hair, solid build, so he’s like pre-transformation Choi Jin-hyuk.
Paroma: And, if you guys have seen him in anything else before, you know how cheerful and how super, super smiley he is, but in the first two episodes of The Last Empress, this guy is savage, my god, he’s got a temper – his character is supposed to be like someone who’s really strong and he’s like really built up and he’s just angry constantly pretty much. So this guy has something horrible happen to him and he magically turns into Choi Jin-hyuk.
Anisa: So, what’s the crazy thing about this drama? Because you guys are saying it’s so crazy.
Saya: Ok, so the person we haven’t mentioned yet is the second lead female who is like the emperor’s PA, secret love interest and she is insane but brilliant and manipulative and mad and also, I think, impelled by genuine emotion for the emperor. But she’s super manipulative, like she does – she engineers everything to make things work out a certain way for her, like she –
Paroma: Yeah, but she’s like part survivor, part ambitionist (?)
Saya: Right, I think that’s what so great about her, it’s like you don’t quite hate her, you really admire her, and I feel like her emotions are actually real – she really does love the emperor. The way that she goes about getting what she wants is dubious.
Paroma: Yeah, dubious is one word.
Saya: But, she’s the one who’s got connections to everyone, so she’s connected to the Choi Jin-hyuk character – they have a past, it’s not exactly clear at this point what, exactly, their relationship is, but –
Paroma: Well, it’s pretty clear what their relationship is, they grew up together and they are in a relationship – like a romantic relationship.
Saya: Are they though? I didn’t get that.
Paroma: Definitely. Right at the first episode, he told her, “I can tolerate everything, but not my girlfriend cheating on me.”
Saya: Oh, did he say that, but then that kid, that kid, isn’t that her kid?
Paroma: We do not know whose kid…it’s her kid, but we don’t know if it’s his kid.
Saya: But the kid calls him hyung.
Paroma: Exactly which is why I don’t think –
Saya: Isn’t that weird? That’s why I don’t understand their relationship.
Paroma: It’s perfectly possible she had the kid with somebody else.
Saya: But, even so, wouldn’t he call him something like ahjussi or something rather than hyung?
Paroma: Not necessarily, sometimes those blur, depending on the age of the…
Saya: Oh no, wait, wait – she was adopted from an orphanage and she was raised by his mom – she called…right, ok – I think rather than them being like an actual couple, he assumes that they’re a couple whereas she is not really that into it.
Paroma: So, which is why I was actually rooting for her to get away from him, because he not only seems super violent but –
Saya: Possessive –
Paroma: Super possessive –
Saya: In an obsessive way –
Paroma: In a bad, obsessive way and her adoptive mother was also putting emotional pressure on her to stay with the guy. I don’t know what the past with the child is – where the child comes from and all of that – it is perfectly possible that she has always been a manipulative person. It doesn’t matter – no matter how manipulative she is, she should not be forced to stay in a relationship she really does not want to be in.
Saya: No, absolutely.
Paroma: Which is actually…so, there is a murder at one point of one of the characters, and this woman is –
Saya: It’s an accident.
Paroma: Well, let’s call it dubious.
Saya: Ok, we’ll call it a murder.
Paroma: She’s sort of, kind of involved, and the thing is I didn’t actually feel bad for the person who got murdered simply because of the way this woman – Lee Elijah’s character, Min Yu-ra, was in a position, like what she was doing was manipulative – ok manipulative is not a good enough.
Saya: But the reasons she was doing it were not wrong.
Paroma: Right. They were not necessarily wrong, and also, the reason I was rooting for Min Yu-ra in the first two episodes was because she was going right up against our predominant big baddie which was the other villain – the Dowager Empress, who is, my god that woman is evil.
Saya: The definition of evil.
Paroma: And, she is the level of evil where she has put in closed circuit cameras in not just in her son’s room, but in his bathroom – she watches him constantly – it’s eerie and –
Saya: In a really creepy way.
Paroma: Super, super, super creepy way.
Anisa: Oh, and she’s played by Shin Eun-kyung who is incredible in everything.
Paroma: So far she’s – yeah she’s doing amazing at being scary. So when Min Yu-ra goes up against her, because everything she’s doing with the Emperor, like I don’t know if she’s propelled by love or ambition, but the point is that she is sort of challenging the Empress and nobody…
Saya: And she is punished for it
Paroma: Yes, exactly. She’s punished for it, but she is clever enough to get herself out of situations where – she knows how to survive is my point, and yes –
Saya: Yeah, I kind of love her.
Paroma: I do too, so far she is a much more compelling character than our other female protagonist.
Saya: I want to see Jang Na-ra’s character get this dark.
Paroma: Yeah, she actually has a nuanced – she has nuanced motives – what does Jang Na-ra’s character have?
Saya: Like, she does terrible things but you understand why, whereas – I guess we just haven’t seen either of those two yet, like – well we’ve seen Choi jin-hyuk’s pretransformation character, but we haven’t seen actual Choi jin-hyuk and we haven’t seen Jang Na-ra really like understanding their place on the board yet.
Paroma: And I loved how they opened the drama where there is a murder and now you don’t know who’s been murdered and they just jump back a year and you are like wait, who got murdered? Who got murdered at the end of this drama? Somebody was murdered. It’s great, but the trouble that I’m having with this drama is that I’m finding all of the evil characters super compelling.
Saya: I think part of that is because it’s just setting up the world for them to begin playing in and because they’ve just been introduced into that world, we haven’t seen it yet – hopefully we will see it, and hopefully it will be complex and interesting.
Paroma: To be fair though, the high stake players in this game are people who are already used to a world of strategizing, even when they are going from their bathroom to their bedroom.
Anisa: It’s basically like a modern sageuk, right
Paroma: It is a modern sageuk, because they even wear hanboks, the women wear fusion hanboks and it’s just and you have – even their speech is very old.
Saya: It’s got all the trappings, sort of, of old fashioned royalty, but it’s in a hyper modern world with all of the resources of that world at your disposal.
Paroma: Exactly, so like, for instance, like social media plays an active part in what makes Jang Na-ra end up becoming the prospective next empress. The trouble that I’m hav…so, on the one hand it’s perfectly understandable why both Jang Na-ra and Ma Wang-sik (which is Choi Jin Hyuk’s character’s name) are both sort of naïve and simpler characters than our evil-doers because they are not constantly being thrust into political intrigue – they are not used to that life, and now these two people who have had simple straight-forward lives are suddenly going to be thrust into this world of political intrigue.
Anisa: It sounds pretty nuts… So, I was looking at the page of the writer and she wrote Temptation of Wife and Temptation of an Angel, which if you haven’t heard are like extremely crazy makjang dramas that just sort of go all over the place, but like would you recommend this drama? Do you think you are going to keep watching it?
Saya: I certainly am. I don’t know if I would recommend it sort of wholesale, but if you are up for some wily wiles and people being completely crazy and not necessarily likable, yet it being very addictive – give it a shot. The only concern I would have is that these types of dramas tend to be really good in the first half and then the second half starts getting, I don’t know – so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. But, we will certainly update everyone next month.
Paroma: Yeah, I’m pretty sure we will still be watching this.
Saya: I’m probably going to watch it until the end.
Paroma: So, the next one is Top Star Yoo Baek, which I didn’t first think we were going to be watching.
Anisa: Last month we did say we were looking forward to it. I know I was saying that it seemed like a fun sort of watch just because of the cast.
Paroma: Yeah, but honestly, I don’t think that I was looking forward to it – I thought, maybe I’ll see what other people are saying about it…but it was primarily for the lead that I wasn’t too keen because, what’s his name…
Anisa: You don’t like Kim Ji-seok?
Paroma: Kim Ji-seok, right. It’s not that I don’t like him. I’m very used to him as a secondary character and there is a particular type of character that he always plays when he used to do the secondary characters – he hasn’t done that since 20th Century Boy and Girl, which by the way was a really good drama. I didn’t watch much – I think I just watched the first two episodes and then read recaps.
Anisa: Yeah, that’s one of those that I was planning to watch and I just got so busy.
Paroma: Yeah, so many dramas guys. Limited number of hours in a day. But this one, though, I can actually keep watching because I think I’ve watched the first two episodes and I liked it. I was not expecting, what’s his name, Kim Ji-seok to look like – what do they do – is it the make-up, what is it? A particular type of exercise that they do? I don’t know – to get a particular type of jaw or something…?
Anisa: Get buff?
Saya: He suddenly looks like a leading A-lister.
Paroma: As you will find out in the very first episode, he has abs and he’s not afraid to show them. To everyone.
Anisa: Oh yeah, it’s a trope. Him showing his abs is almost like a running joke I the drama.
Paroma: And actually it lands really, really well – he’s always been a character who does emotions really well. I liked him in Sassy Go Go and I’ve liked him in some of the other dramas as well, but he’s done not so pleasant characters and he’s done a few of them.
Saya: Wasn’t he a cheating…
Paroma: Another Miss Oh.
Anisa: And he was also in Personal Taste way back in the day – remember like the unpleasant honeymooning couple who like kicks her out of her house? Yeah. He’s just really good at being slimy.
Paroma: He’s super good at it – and I think that is part of the reason I still have memories of him being slimy and that I can’t quite take him seriously – at least on paper I could take him seriously as lead actor, but I was like – he’s too slimy to be leading a drama. But then, of course, it all depends upon how a drama is directed and written and Yoo Baek’s character is so narcisstic – his head is so swollen
Saya: He has great comedic timing.
Paroma: Yeah, he does – and also, I have to say, the reason that I’m going to continue watching it is because of Jeon So-min’s character. I don’t know what accent she is doing – I do not have enough knowledge of the Korean language – I barely have any knowledge of the Korean language, but you can tell how thick her accent is, and she’s clearly really good at it. I have heard her interviews, so I know that she does not speak like that, so it always amazes me when an actress really sinks into an accent – you’ve seen actresses and actors do saturi a lot – that is what the Busan accent is called, right?
Anisa: Saturi is like a regional accent.
Saya: Yeah, dialect.
Paroma: We’ve seen a lot of the actors do Busan accents – it seems to be one of the easiest accents for them to do.
Saya: I don’t know if easy is the word, but maybe the most common.
Anisa: It’s more common.
Paroma: But, I don’t know what language she’s speaking – it sounds like a totally different language and she is so cheerful and grinning but not a pushover at all. None of the characters on the island is a pushover – I love it – I love how they keep calling Yoo Baek “Top Star” – that’s his name. Nobody can remember his actor name. They treat him like they would treat any guest on their island. He has to accommodate them instead of them accommodating him and he’s not used to that at all and he was promised a stay at a resort. He is running away from a scandal, so his agent told him, “Oh, go and stay at this beach resort,” and then they just strand him on the island and the boat goes away and won’t come out for two weeks.
Saya: That actually sounds really funny.
Anisa: Yeah, him waiting on the, like, rocky shore with his sunglasses and his suitcases and no one comes, is just so funny. So I also watched two episodes and I agree, it’s really fun. I was a little thrown off at first because of – it has a really over the top, kind of comedic tone, but once you get used to it – I actually was looking forward to it the most for the casting, because I actually really love Kim Ji-seok. I’ve seen him in a couple of movies so I know how good of an actor he is and how he can be like really sincere, but also slimy, which I think is really perfect for this role, because he is a jerk and he is awful and slimy in the beginning. So I very much have faith in him that he’s going to pull off the transformation that I’m sure he is going to have, because he’s the hero so…
Paroma: Yeah, I think he’s already doing it though – he’s already looking at everybody – especially Jeon So-min with sort of like – I don’t know – soapy eyes.
Anisa: Yeah, and Jeon So-min was in 1% of Anything, like the new version –
Paroma: That’s where I’ve seen her!
Anisa: She’s so good. She had that line that has kind of become sort of a universal line that people say – where she was like – if they’re handsome, they’re always Oppas.
Saya: Oh is that from there?
Anisa: Yeah, it’s from 1% of Anything, because like she’s like talking about her Oppa or her K-pop crush and he’s like – the hero’s like, “He’s younger than you,” and she’s like, “If they’re handsome, they’re all Oppas!” and he’s like, “Okay.” But she’s really, really good – and you’re right – at first I was like, oh no she’s going to be like this candy pushover and she’s from the countryside and she’s naïve and she doesn’t know what the internet is, but she doesn’t take any garbage from him – she definitely, like, gives as good as she gets, so I like that too.
And he also has some kind of secret trauma or, like, pain in his past – we’ve seen him cry twice or three times already – which normally, I was like really? At first I was like, can’t he just be like a jerk that’s shallow and a star, but I think that they might be doing something interesting about tying that into his life that as an idol, which could be more interesting than the normal like – here’s this really rich and successful guy who has this secret pain in his heart and the heroine is going to help him heal it, so I think it might be more interesting than I was thinking at first.
Paroma: Yeah, I mean, while she’s healing him, she’s probably going to be punching him a lot so it’s fine – I’m good – it’s pretty balanced.
Anisa: And also, like, he seems to be falling for her already and she like has no time in her day for him.
Paroma: Oh my god, she has an Oppa and she’s like, I have no time for you – my heart only beats for my Oppa Lee Sang-yeob. I love it.
Anisa: Lee Sang-yeob! And Lee Sang-yeob is so amazing and he’s like, so adorable in his little uniform and his little pirate outfit –
Paroma: But you know the best thing about this drama, the thing that sort of made me want to watch more? We’ve seen heartwarming dramas where, sort of all characters are good hearted people with the best intention and all of that stuff, but you would think that in a drama like this where you are in an isolated island where everybody’s just – it’s a throw-back to the eighties – you would think that it would be, you know, a bit of a fantasy where none of the regular rules of life would apply, but that’s not it. In very subtle ways they do talk about how the town being isolated – the townspeople who stay there really want their way of life preserved but the ones who didn’t want this way of life – like the ones who wanted the internet – the ones who wanted more up and left the island. So the guy who is I think the – what is he the town – the village head – who is being played by Lee Han-wi and who is like everybody’s father.
Saya: Yeah, he’s hilarious.
Paroma: Yeah, he’s awesome. So, he talks about that in passing – he says there are 50 people left because the rest of them didn’t want this life.
Anisa: Yeah, and it’s like, the dynamics of the town are very realistic in a sense that it’s like mostly old people, there’s only one kid in the school.
Paroma: Exactly – they practically have no young people and also, the poverty is not romanticized. Like, there are these two elderly sisters, I think who were carrying this drum full of what do you call it dungcakes right and – they were sort of balancing it on their heads while walking together – it was hilarious, but it’s dungcakes. You cannot romanticize dungcakes. I like that they are not trying to somehow gloss over the hardships that they go through.
Anisa: Did either of you watch The Vineyard Man? It was Yoon Eun-hye and who was the male lead – I can’t remember his name…Oh Man-seok! It was an older show from maybe like ten years ago, but it was a similar set up where she’s actually a fashion designer and she has some kind of – something happens where she ends up leaving and going to the countryside because, like, her career basically fails because a senior designer steals her design but then she’s like this really spoiled, like she’s always wearing heels, and then she goes to this farm to a vineyard basically, and she just has to work there – I think her grandfather’s there or something. Oh Man-seok is the male lead and he’s just like this country dude – she’s not impressed with him at all. He’s like older than her and she just hates him and she ends up in, like, these horrible situations. Like there’s this one really memorable scene where she’s out in the country and she can’t find a bathroom and she’s like looking for a bathroom and she can’t find anything, like not even an outhouse, and she’s like going in the middle of a field and she has to go to the bathroom and you just – and you kind of hate her at that point – Yoon Eun-hye does a really good job of just being like this spoiled brat and it’s just really hilarious. And then it ends up being like a really nice love story and also, I think they did a really good job as well of showing the actual struggles that would occur on the vineyard and showing the daily life and how she kind of changes and she – it really reminds me a lot of that. And Oh Man-seok is like so good, he’s so good in that. I just really like him in everything – he was really, really good in that.
Saya: It’s funny that you kind of mention this now, because like literally last night my parents and I were talking about this because my dad just came back from Bangladesh and he was talking about, you know, like when you go to the village and how it’s unrecognizable now, and he was reminiscing about a story of when they were kids and I think two of his friends – and they would have been less than ten at the time – they snuck onto a train to Dhaka, the capital city. And back then it was – I mean you are talking about I don’t know 40, maybe 50 years ago – something like that, and these are like little stowaway kids, tiny kids who stowed away on a train which is like ridiculously brave and foolish. They said they got there and they said like there are only mosques here – there is nowhere for us to, like, stay because for them, in the village, the only actual building was the mosque. Everything else – all of the houses, they were not, like, buildings, they were, you know, they weren’t even tin houses they were – tin is actually really new – they were made of leaves and certain fibers and things like that – so they got there and there’s this place which is all buildings – so they got there and they thought all of the buildings were mosques in their idea. In their mind – if it is a building, it’s a mosque – so they stayed on the train and rode back home.
I remember this from my own childhood visits to Bangladesh that, you know, we would summer – as kids we summered in Bangladesh and you’d go back to the village and this is when my grandparents were alive and these were villages that didn’t have electricity, they didn’t have running water, and they didn’t have the amenities that we take for granted, even in the city now that you take it for granted. But the interesting thing is that in the last 15 years or so, everything is changed. The village, as it was, it no longer exists. Like what you are saying about preserving that way of life – like, it’s the price of rapid industrialization that you lose a certain way of life but then at the same time, like you are saying about poverty and the difficulty of life – those things are not romantic. Why shouldn’t they change? Like, our nostalgia can’t be at the expense of people’s lives getting easier even if you lose all of those kind of things. I just find it an interesting thing to think about.
Anisa: Yeah, and there’s a lot of moments like that where, like for example, they have electricity but then it’s kind of frozen in time in like the 80s, because the heroine’s parents died when she was two and she’s been raised by her grandma and all of these other old people, so all of the music that she listens to is from that era, because she just has the tapes that her mom left behind. You know, he has to take a bath in this giant kimchi-making tub – and he’s like why are you making me…I have to soak myself in here…? And she’s like this is how we take a bath.
Saya: But, like, does she come out smelling of kimchi?
Anisa: He doesn’t, no. It’s their bathtub but it’s just like –
Saya: His conception of what it is.
Anisa: And like there’s moments when she’s, like, staring at him and she’s like, oh my gosh in awe and amazement, like – this is the most amazing thing – and he’s like, “Yeah – look at my arm,” and he rolls up his sleeve, or he’s like showing off his abs. But she’s fascinated with his electric toothbrush or, like, she’s never seen underpants like that before and he’s like, “Don’t look at my underpants!” So, yeah, I’m definitely going to keep watching. It’s really fun. And it’s like a low stress drama with heart which is nice.
Saya: It’s one of those things that I really enjoy seeing in K-dramas, is that when you see that really rural, basic way of life, the fact that that still exists is kind of – I don’t want to say reassuring, but like it’s nice to know that people are still able to live without all of the, sort of, I don’t know what the right way to say this is – it’s nice to know that everything isn’t infected by 21st century speed.
Anisa: They make a point of saying that there is no TV and no internet on the island and, like, cell phones don’t work.
Paroma: And also – very limited medical facilities. There are two doctors, but they are kind of – there’s only so much that they can do – I know that there was a female doctor – wasn’t there the guy that she’s interested in – wasn’t that
Anisa: He’s a teacher – he’s the elementary school teacher. They’re in the same building, and she is, like, always watching him.
Paroma: There is one doctor. And she has, like, the most morbid sense of humor. Yoo Baek goes to her hospital with, like, a fractured foot or something, and she’s like, “Well – this will have to be amputated.”
Anisa: I actually really like her. I think she’s great, and she has this, like, really obvious crush on the teacher. It’s like so tragic and hilarious.
Paroma: Yeah, they’re all adorable. So, I’m going to keep watching that. And now – Clean with Passion for Now.
Anisa: Oh, I’m very curious about this – because we were so, like, Oh, we’re not going to watch this – this is going to be horrible, it’s so problematic.
Paroma: But, we should address why we thought it was going to be problematic just because the drama deserves to get credit for not following – not falling down on that part, the part that we were worried about. Where they are trying to make someone very young act older than her age and someone much older…
Saya: The Radio Romance part…But, also, she’s a character who is prayed upon. She was just – she wasn’t good. But, what you’ve got here with Kim Yoo-jung is that her character is sort of a take no prisoners type of character so she might be younger, and she might be poorer, but she’s not going to be taken advantage of just like that and she’s wise to you know, she’s not naïve and she’s not unnecessarily foolish in that wide-eyed way –
Paroma: Yeah, she does not give off Candy vibes at all. And, like, she has moments where she embarrasses herself – she will not leave her room because she’s so embarrassed.
Saya: We are all embarrassed for her.
Paroma: Her character is someone who has just graduated, right, and she’s studying for – what is she studying for?
Saya: And she’s still in student debt. She’s trying to get herself on the career ladder, which is of course impossible unless…oh she’s studying for the civil service exam.
Paroma: And she does part-time jobs and she hasn’t got full time employment yet – someone that she has a crush on has full time employment and she’s part jealous, part worried. It’s something that you would associate with someone of her age. It’s not that she’s unemployed because she’s inept, but life has been horrible to her which is something that candies often have.
Saya: She just about put herself through college and the best thing that she’s got going for her is her enthusiasm – you know, her passion – that’s her number one spec and everything else is – if you’re competing against these hot shots – and she’s trying to get into these blue chip companies, so that’s the kind of thing – it’s very life appropriate, age appropriate conflicts.
Anisa: How old is her character? 22, 23?
Saya: I’d say, probably something like that. She’s just fresh out of college, yeah exactly. About 20. But, what they don’t do, is that they don’t put her into these compromising situations which is one of the things that really bothered me in Radio Romance, and there is a point where she is being used by one of the characters, but the moment she realizes it it’s like game over – you can’t mess with this girl. You can try, but if she finds you out it’s…
Paroma: Exactly. She can stand up for herself, she does not need a night in shining armor to come and solve the problems of her life – that is not her issue. So, now we come to our hero. Which is Yoon Kyun-sang – we last saw him in
Saya: Doubtful Victory for me – I think Pinocchio for you?
Paroma: Yeah, it was Doctors for me.
Saya: Oh yeah, Doctors, yeah that’s right. Very unmemorable, as you can see.
Paroma: He was pretty limited…I think he does a credible job with the character he’s given here. The thing is that right now he’s not doing anything that I would say that – hey if you replace this actor with another actor then the whole character will change – yeah, I think any other generic Korean drama lead would do.
Saya: Except he’s really tall, I don’t think anyone else could be as tall as him.
Anisa: That’s the one thing he brings as an individual.
Saya: But, you know, he’s so big, but he’s got this baby face.
Paroma: He does, he has a super baby face. If not for, sort of, the resentment that we already harbored for someone we really wanted to do this role who couldn’t, we might not be so hard on him.
Saya: That said, though, I don’t know if Ahn Hyo-seop would have done this – actually, a really good point – I think Yoon Kyun-sang brings more gravity to this character than Ahn Hyo-seop could have.
Paroma: I agree that this character needs to be older than Ahn Hyo-seop clearly is – Ahn Hyo-seop is how old? He can’t be more than his mid-twenties.
Saya: 22, 23 maybe something like that.
Paroma: He can’t be more than mid-twenties is my point, whereas this character is clearly someone who’s at least close to thirty. I don’t know how old his character is supposed to be here. His living experiences are more than the heroine’s, that’s a given. But, on the other hand, it’s also because he’s older – just like in I’m Not a Robot, because the character is someone who’s mature and whom you would expect to have lots of social skills, etc. you don’t expect someone of his age to become, for instance, super attached to a vacuum cleaner.
Saya: As others have done before him.
Anisa: That’s hilarious. That was not the common thread I was expecting.
Saya: He’s older, but he’s also – like his age is offset by how vulnerable he is.
Paroma: But I think its particularly – like his vulnerability is more poignant because of his age – if he were someone younger then that would be like hey, yeah, fine but – he’s had time to grow a thicker skin. Also because of his baby face he really sells those moments – like that moment in the elevator where there’s a guy who badmouths someone and he’s the owner of the station I think, right? The TV station there.
Saya: I just remembered the moment – he overhears one guy being really rude and cruel to Kim Yoo-jung and he himself has not been that nice to her in their encounters but you can see that he feels something in that moment. So then when he’s alone in the elevator with the jerky guy later – he has this habit of spraying disinfectant all the time, you know, like facial mist canisters – he has them, but they are like antiseptic canisters– so he starts sort of passive-aggressively doing it, ostensibly on himself but he fills the entire elevator. When he comes out he just leaves that guy in a –
Paroma: In a cloud of sanitizer mist.
Saya: So it’s sort of an indirect punishment. So for the whole germaphobe thing – I think it should come with a trigger warning for anyone with OCD. Just putting that out there, because I’m watching this and I’m feeling like – like there are parts when I feel like I have to turn away because it’s too triggering and some of his actions are too familiar – so anyone with OCD, just be careful if you get triggered by that kind of thing. Maybe don’t watch it, or fast forward. He doesn’t touch things, except with handkerchiefs and lots of antiseptic, he doesn’t sit down on places, and he certainly doesn’t go on public transport. He has lots of tiny, little – it’s very well done and true to life, but it is something that you should keep in mind if you have a problem with that.
Paroma: So, the way they are portraying his germaphobe thing, I kind of like it – there are different ways of doing it – there’s this webtoon that I’ve read which was turned into a Japanese drama and I can’t remember the name of it right now, I will write the name down in the description if you guys want to look it up, where there is this germaphobe guy and he is a writer, so he just kind of secludes himself in his room and everything is to his liking. Everything is super clean and he’s not just a germaphobe, he also has OCD – major OCD, so every single thing is the way he likes it and he does not want anybody coming into his apartment and he’s super, super secure. But that is not the direction they went with Choi Woong – he has a company to manage, he has to interact with people every day and it’s not a secret that he’s a germaphobe. People around him accommodate him. Maybe at the end of this drama he’ll be cured, though I don’t know why this requires being cured…anyway – there a people that are germaphobes their entire life and live perfectly happy, fulfilled lives – K-dramas, can you please leave a person have their flaws and not have to cure everything – wait – that’s a digression to a drama that we are going to discuss later.
The thing is that, I like that they didn’t go that route – he’s not a very social person, but he’s social enough, but he’s looking for someone to date, but then he gets set up with a woman and the things that he notes about her are how neat she is, how neatly her nails are clipped, how she presents herself and then, you know – there’s this ear wax…so that’s where we are with Clean With Passion for Now. We like it, we think it might be an entertaining watch, and as we have done with the ones before this one, we’ll update you. Okay, the next one we want to talk about is Red Moon, Blue Sun. Saya, you watched that one, right?
Saya: Right – also called Children of Nobody, I think that’s its official title. My kind of overarching – it only aired 4 episodes at this time so my overarching feeling is that I actually have no idea what’s going on, but it’s totally gripping and it’s really eerie. So, this is from the same writer as Achiara Secret Village – I think that is what it was called, from like a year or two ago, and that was a horror if I remember rightly. So if I had known that this was going to be in the vein of horror, I certainly would not have begun it. I actually don’t even know why I started it, because none of the dramas that I started in this cycle were ones that I intended to watch. You’ve got Kim Sun-ah, who, this is the first thing that I’ve watched her in, literally, since My Name is Kim Sam-soon – I haven’t seen her in anything since. She works as a children’s therapist, and like, you know, basically living the perfect life, expecting her second child and then suddenly one day she’s involved in an accident where she kills a child and then like, everything goes crazy. It’s really hard to separate what is happening in this that is real and what isn’t because she constantly keeps seeing this little girl in a green dress, but we don’t know what that means – like, is it a ghost, is it a figment of her imagination – who is the girl in the green dress? This is what haunts her, as well, and so at the same time you’ve got a series of deaths that happen that appear to be innocuous, but then they have these weird irregularities.
The detective character is Lee Yi-kyung who was most recently in Laughter in Waikiki – this is – is this his first lead character? Anyway, it might be, but he’s doing really well as the sort of rugged detective, he’s young but he’s really sharp and so he begins to notice these weird irregularities in cases with criminals or people who’ve come out of jail or just dubious people dying, and then, like, stuff comes up that makes him think it might have been murder. So, he goes after this and he crosses paths with Kim Sun-ah, because the people who are the victims of these incidents have some kind of weird crossover that you don’t quite understand, but the things that they have in common is that there is always a child involved and that at all of these scenes, there is a line of poetry – and it’s always sort of really creepy and haunting and I think the thing with this show is that everybody is an unreliable narrator, like we don’t know who’s telling the truth – you don’t even know if Kim Sun-ah is, like – is she the one doing the stuff? Like, at one point I was in the middle of one of the recent episodes and I was like, hold on, what if she’s the one who’s killing all of these people and she doesn’t know it, like – what if she’s in a fever – what if she has some sort of multiple personality – like, what’s happening? I don’t know but, yeah, I don’t watch it at night. It’s really good, though, I totally recommend it. I think it’s drawing itself into the main thrust of its story and it hasn’t quite got there yet, but it’s getting there – but the tone is really dark and it’s literally dark, like it’s got this weird blue filter where just everything is dark. But yeah, it’s good, it’s scary, its really, really interesting and exciting and watch it. And the other character who is a junior detective who is Lee Yu Kyung’s detective partner is Nam Gyu-ri – and she plays this sort of no nonsense female detective and she’s great as well. So, like, all the characters are really good, but yeah, I don’t have any idea who it is – everyone is creepy – the only person I think it isn’t is Lee Yi-kyung and Nam Gyu-ri, the detectives, but it could be anyone else.
Paroma: Ok, that actually sounds like pretty good plotting if you have absolutely no clue.
Anisa: And I really hope for Kim Sun-ah’s sake that this is better than that terrible drama that made me so angry a few months ago, Shall We Kiss First? Every tragic trope in the book, just one after the other, like they were crossing off a list and it was just, yeah, don’t watch that.
Saya: Do you know what, I think that you should try it then. It’s like – this really showcases what she can do, and all of the doubt in her character and the fact that she herself doesn’t know what she’s doing yet, like, the guilt and everything is eating away at her and it’s really – like I said, check out at least the first three episodes and watch something dark and if you like it, carry on, if you don’t…
Paroma: And then, Memories of Alhambra which I totally wanted to watch, but have not been able to watch this weekend – I intend to in the next week, and Saya, what’s the verdict? You watched it.
Saya: Yeah, at this point only one episode has released, although by now I think the second has literally just released, so I’m going to watch it after we finish this call. This is the latest drama from the writer of W, 9: Nine Times Travel – whatever inflection that goes in I don’t know I just call it Nine, Nine and Queen In-hyun’s Man, and this is a show that we’ve heard so much about for like, the last year, and it’s been getting pre-produced. We’ve been getting updates, like trickles for months and months and they’ve been dropping teasers in the last month or so and none of them made any sense, and neither does the first episode, but you know. I mean it does and it doesn’t, like it’s putting all of it’s pieces on the board so you’ve got – there’s a mysterious death on a train which could be murder and it might not even be a death at all but there’s a disappearance of somebody who looks pretty important and they disappear – did I already say that? I think I did – they disappear, on a train. And, you have an augmented reality game which is like Pokemon Go on steroids – which is set in the amazing backdrop of Grenada in Spain, and you have Hyun Bin who heads there after a mysterious phone call and he holds himself up in a hostel owned by Park Shin-hye, which is kind of a creepy place, full of mysteries and secrets, but none of this has come together yet.
So, I’m not quite sure where the show is going – in the first episode you have this whole segment of Hyun Bin discovering the game, so he has these cool, funky, iris computer things which he pops into his eyes like contact lenses – I call them Iris Cams because that’s what they call them in Artemis Fowl. Anytime I see something that goes in the eye, I’m like Iris Cam – Artemis Fowl – but yeah, they’re like contacts and so while he’s wearing these contacts he can experience the augmented reality world, against this backdrop of historical Grenada. He starts this game at level one where he has to fight this Moorish warrior, which yes indeed, we have many reservations about – let’s see what they do with that, I don’t want to jump on it right away.
Paroma: What are you afraid of? What would they do?
Saya: I think I’m going to let Anisa take this, she’s the expert.
Anisa: I wouldn’t call myself an expert but yeah, I’m just – even the title and the fact that it’s set in Spain and Alhambra is like –
Saya: It’s the seat of Islamic Spain.
Anisa: Yeah, it was an empire for like 800 years.
Saya: And then it was wiped from the map, apart from the architecture.
Anisa: Basically, yeah – killed everyone and/or tortured them – now if you go there, the architecture is still there, but the culture has been completely erased.
Saya: The European renaissance happened because of Islamic civilization in Spain.
Anisa: They preserved and translated so many sources that were completely lost to Europe which was like in the Dark Ages at that time.
Paroma: Absolutely. If I remember correctly, they preserved Greek books, even like Hindu scriptures, whatever scriptures they found pretty much – they studied them.
Anisa: And then you know, there’s always these like very, you know, sort of Orientalist stereotypes that we always see in Western portrayals of these places, especially when they bring in these like “Moors” –
Saya: And you’ve got this big heavy set white guy with heavy black coal-lined eyes, and – you know that savage look, and it’s kind of like – you know – what do you call this – some type of brownface, but, yeah, I’m not comfortable with it. The fact that it exists is a little bit egregious, but where it’s going to go with that, I guess we’ll see.
Anisa: So, I guess we’ll keep an eye on that.
Paroma: I’m curious about why they set it in Spain and not in Korea – like, augmented reality from a historical, like characters and soldiers and warriors of the past – they could have done that in Korea. There’s such rich history there – they could have had characters coming into modern day Seoul. Why did they do that, why did they set it in Spain?
Saya: Well, the obvious real-world answer to that would be that maybe there’s funding from the Spanish tourism board, or someone in Spain – this is an extremely high budget drama, this is not cheap, this is flashy as hell, but it looks – every inch of it is actually dripping with money in a good way. And also, it’s interesting – if you are in Korea, it’s interesting to see other places, and the architecture really is stunning, it’s like, why wouldn’t you want that? If you can afford it.
Paroma: Yeah, absolutely – yeah the tourism thing makes complete sense to me, I know it’s like speculation for us but it makes a lot of sense.
Saya: This is a Netflix drama by the way. It’s an exclusive Netflix drama, so there’s probably stuff tied into that as well.
Anisa: It’s going to be available in real time.
Saya: It is right now, I don’t know if it is in the US, but it is in the UK.
Anisa: No, all I have is The Christmas Prince…
Saya: It’s released right now, if I want to watch it right now, I can.
Paroma: I usually get stuff first, before the US audience does, which I’m super happy about – sorry. But, I don’t see it on my Netflix page. Oh, it’s here.
Anisa: I’m so jealous.
Saya: I think everyone outside of the U.S. can see it in real time but it might be that thing that they do with you guys in the States is that you watch it…
Anisa: Yeah, this happened with Forest of Secrets too, where it completed airing and then it came – it dropped all in one season. And this is the director of Forest of Secrets, so who knows.
Saya: I think this is Netflix’s model, isn’t it?
Anisa: I mean, they did simultaneously release Mr. Sunshine and also Meteor Garden’s new season.
Saya: That’s a good point.
Anisa: Though I’m not sure what is making them pick and choose. And I did hear that something else was going to be released simultaneously on Netflix, but I can’t remember what it was, but it’s something that is upcoming.
Saya: Maybe they’ll just have it on a slight delay rather than a full showing. I guess we’ll find out in a few days.
Anisa: Yeah, I’ll keep you guys updated on that.
Saya: The other thing I just wanted to just quickly mention, what’s really exciting about this writer, Song Jae-jung, is that if you look at her past works – that they always do something different – she’s always, sort of, pushing K-dramaland to new frontiers and this is – even if they don’t always end well, and we kind of have to admit that with W – they always have this really interesting world-building that is utterly new, that no drama has done before it.
Anisa: Sometimes it can’t sustain that structure and it sort of collapses on itself.
Saya: I think part of it is that they don’t necessarily – they can’t pick which line of the show to follow and they can’t sustain both of them at the same time – all of these have a backbone of romance, and I think they tend to go for the romance and they end up dropping sort of the world. So, what you’ve got with this show is that I can’t quite tell where the show is trying to go – there’s only been one episode so I don’t know whether the story is going to head into the world of the game, or whether it’s going to be sort of the real world problems of having to acquire this game, because Hyun Bin’s character right now is – he’s discovered the game, and he’s desperate to acquire it, and the one person who he can acquire it from is the one person who is offended in a super terrible way, and so there are a lot of people after this game, dangerous, bad people and whether it’s going to follow the route of that, or whether it’s going to have some concurrent thing where the game itself provides story for the drama the way, like, W does, a fictional world giving you stuff – yeah, I guess that will reveal itself in time. But it’s exciting and I’m not even a gamer, and I actually don’t even really understand games – like, my brother is a gamer and I have a couple of close friends that are gamers and I’m like, “I don’t understand why you game – I don’t understand.”
Paroma: Because there’s a story it’s telling you, there’s always a story.
Saya: Everyone says that and I don’t see it – I don’t see how gaming is storytelling, and let’s not go into that now, because a lot of people are trying to explain it to me and I’m still like – I don’t get it – but, yeah, I find it exciting and I’m not even a gamer and there are these sequences of him trying to level up in this game and it’s actually very exciting, I’m like, “Cool,” “Wow” and then when it came to the real world, I’m like – oh, this isn’t that – like, I kind of want to go back to the game.
Anisa: That’s how the addiction starts.
Saya: I hope not, I have enough.
Anisa: Right. Ok, so our next one is –
Paroma: We are onto our completed list now.
Anisa: Yes, we are moving on to our list of completed shows.
Paroma: Ok, so, it’s Where Stars Land (aka Fox Bride Star) and on Twitter we kind of already talked a little about what the first few episodes did to Chae Soo-bin’s character which is that they set her up as someone who is really flawed, and kind of like a heroine that you wouldn’t like, but then they kind of lobotomized her character and erased her past offenses and gave her excuses for all of her behavior and now she’s the perfect, usual, interchangeable drama heroine. Not quite, because she sort of infuses all of these qualities into these characters that make them endearing for their own sake, so I wouldn’t write the character off completely. I enjoyed her character – I just thought that she didn’t have enough to do and that she could have had more to do if she had – if they had preserved the initial line of character inspiration.
Saya: Paroma, you finished the show, right?
Paroma: I finished the show.
Saya: And Anisa, are you planning to finish it?
Anisa: I was…but I am willing to be spoiled for the ending so that we can – there are things that made me stop watching so that makes me not likely to go back and finish it…
Saya: Before you guys go into spoiler territory, there are just one or two things that I want to say, and then I will sort of bow out of this until you are done with the spoilers. The thing that we really didn’t see in the early episodes in the last time that we recorded was Lee Je-hoon’s character because we had such focus on Chae Soo-bin’s character up to that point – but the thing that – and I’m at like episode 17 or 18 something like that, which is I think just about past half-way through – he’s at this point where he’s confined to the house and he’s had a lot of problems with his – what’s it called – prosthetic –
Anisa: The drama calls them support devices.
Saya: So, the thing that I keep feeling is a missed opportunity so far is that they don’t seem to deal with him being disabled, just the fact of him hating his disability – and it’s like I get that the character has to go through that, but I want them to deal with actually him accepting that he is disabled and that he can live with disability and it doesn’t make him less of a person and I think that’s something – I don’t think we’ve ever had a drama that centers around disability and accepting yourself, and I don’t know how much I want to be spoiled – actually, I don’t want to be spoiled at all so I’m just putting that out there. I want the drama to deal with this. So now you can spoil till your heart’s content, because I’m going to take my headphones off.
Paroma: And for our listeners who don’t want to be spoiled about the ending of this drama, I put in the time stamps – if you look in the descriptions below, you will find the time stamps. It will tell you exactly how much to skip if you want to skip the spoiler part. So, about what Saya said about them dealing with the disability part, do you want to know Anisa?
Anisa: Yes, give it to me, I’m ready.
*BEGIN SPOILERS FOR WHERE STARS LAND*
Paroma: They did not. Every opportunity they had, it’s almost like they deliberately missed. There was this beautifully poignant moment – I think Saya may have seen that – where this guy – Lee Je-hoon’s character has so much insecurity because he spent eleven years in a wheelchair – confined to a wheelchair, being pitied by everyone around him, and I believe he’s put himself through college, he lives alone because his mom’s gone off somewhere else. She’s mad at someone and goes off to America (a lot of moms seem to get mad at someone and go off to America, in dramas) but – it’s not like he’s not living an active, normal life. Or he is, but he hates his disability, so to tell us why he hates it that much, we should have been given a glimpse of what he deals with on a day to day basis, but we are never given that. We are never given that.
There is this one moment where we all know by this time that Lee Je-hoon thinks that he can never have a normal relationship if he’s confined to a wheelchair, but then there is this moment when he is at this open air restaurant and there’s this man there in a wheelchair with his girlfriend and I think they are feeding each other – they are being really cute together. It’s a really fleeting moment, he just looks at them, and it’s like – and Lee Je-hoon is a really good actor of course so you can almost see the thought crossing his mind that maybe I can have a normal relationship even if I did not have these support devices. So, because the support devices become a cause for concern later on – they are actively hurting him – they are harming him, but he refuses to take them off because he thinks that he’ll go back to being in a wheelchair and he would rather die than go back to a wheelchair. So he clearly feels really strongly about his disability and now, a person who has lived eleven years in a wheelchair and he is still not being able to accept that, there must be a lot of trauma on top of trauma, but this drama refuses to deal with any of it – we are not given any – like all the stuff I’m saying I’m saying because I’m assuming because I’ve read a bit about disabled people. I don’t think the drama writers were informed enough to deal with this subject. The ending was the worst possible thing.
Anisa: I watched until episode 26, which was like 13 because its like double the numbers, but it’s at that point where he’s just basically dating her and he’s told her about his support devices, but he’s still kind of refuses to take them off and he’s giving himself a month, and that’s where I watched it til and I was too angry to continue in a way, and I could just kind of see where it was going and it was like, I’m kind of done. So, I just want you to kind of tell me how it ends and whether it ends up going down that path.
Paroma: So, as Saya said, the drama practically refuses to deal with his disability. That moment when he reveals himself, he says that this is the real me, and that is not the real him in terms of – like yes, that is the real him that has seen his devices, but the real him is also the one who has to take those devices off at night. Right? The one who has to put it up on the shelf – that’s also him and he never introduces that side of himself to her. Then, there is this scene where he kind of – he takes off his support devices, he’s on a wheelchair, he goes to Han River because he’s supposed to meet Chae Soo-bin because that’s supposed to be their date – and it’s like, he takes a brave step, right?
Anisa: Yeah, I saw that part, that made me hopeful, but then after that –
Paroma: Exactly, but then the writer decided, no, Chae Soo-bin does not need to meet this version of her love interest, they just ruined that moment with this dramatic incident where she gets hurt, he’s trying to get to her but his phone kind of flies off his hand and he can’t get it back, and all of this stuff – he convinces himself he can’t protect her. He wouldn’t have been able to protect her anyway because he was in another part of the city when she got accidentally stabbed! But anyway, that cannot be your driving reason for why the protagonist chooses to take off his devices even though they are killing him. That cannot be the reason – the reason has to be those eleven years and what has happened there – you have to show us at least a few of those smaller day to day things that an able-bodied person would not notice but a disabled person really would.
For instance, we had this conversation just earlier this year about straws – getting rid of straws does not seem like a bad thing, yeah, they are wasteful plastic but then when some people spoke up on the internet, “What about disabled people?” and how much they need to use straws or you should at least have that as an option. It didn’t occur to most of us. We can take that conversation further and we can talk about alternatives, that’s a different conversation but I’m saying, for most of us it would not have occurred to us that those straws that we think are wasteful, are actually useful to some people. It’s something we wouldn’t notice – I would not notice many things that a disabled person goes through, and of course the drama ignores that aspect of his life completely – doesn’t give us anything.
And the ending was horrible! She tells him to live, and he’s like, “Fine, I’ll take off my devices,” and he does and then cut to a year later and he’s left the country and not been in touch with her at all. I thought, the moment that he took off his devices, she would be beside him while he recovers his health, I thought that would be their bonding or the final reassurance that he needs that he can have a relationship even if he doesn’t have his support devices/ his prosthetics. If they had given us that, I wouldn’t be so mad at the ending – but they didn’t – they just cut to a year later where he returns perfectly cured and again, wearing those devices so she never has to deal with the disabled version of her boyfriend.
Anisa: That is so…you know what’s even worse than like, the fact that they don’t show his daily struggles and what it was like for him – humanizing his struggle in that way – they should have done that and it’s bad that they didn’t do that, but what I find is even more upsetting and offensive – it’s actually offensive to me: when he tries to show his real self or like his self without those extra supports and the wheelchair, and the drama writers are basically like, you don’t get to have that. Here’s me like literally throwing you off your wheelchair to the ground and you are like lying there helpless and no one is going to help you and you are just like miserable. The more I think about it, the angrier I get. It’s so – they are saying that person doesn’t deserve to have love unless they actually look normal, whatever normal means, and they have four fully functioning limbs and –
Paroma: As a ridiculous metaphor, the guy isn’t just normal, he is super normal – what do you call him?
Anisa: He’s superhuman.
Paroma: And this is a trope that is often used in fantasy, where you have a disability but it is not just cured, but you get an extra special power, this happens pretty often – if you read sci-fi you will be familiar with this trope.
Anisa: Or, like, if you read comics. This is like the “happy” version of – have you heard of the movie Me Before You?
Paroma: Yeah, actually I have.
Anisa: So, without spoiling that movie, listeners you can go spoil that movie for yourself if you want, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but it’s like – it’s trash and it has the same message of like – if your legs and arms don’t work, you don’t deserve love, but it’s like with a horrible, very sad, tragic ending. People with disabilities were so angry about that movie, they were extremely upset. Because it’s like, you never get stories about people like this, you know – it’s like what Saya was saying – we never see a depiction of a main character with some kind of disability.
So if you end up making one story that people get, for it to be one that says well, actually, we don’t accept you the way you are, unless you are able to camouflage yourself in a way that’s acceptable to the rest of us, and you’re not disturbing us with your strange and upsetting appearance. That’s basically what you’re saying with a show like this. So, anyway, sorry – it’s a little bit personal for me as well. I got emotional.
*END SPOILERS FOR WHERE STARS LAND*
Paroma: Yeah, this drama sure pushed our buttons – let’s call Saya back in. So, now that we have you back, we wanted to talk about some of the things that we liked about this drama that kind of made us watch until the end of things – one of the primary things was the secondary love interest.
Saya: The security couple.
Anisa: I loved them so much!
Paroma: Their entire arc was so nice. Their conflict was so, it was actually really well written, and I loved the way the actors dealt with it, there was – everything was perfect. I would have enjoyed seeing a little more development on Na Young-joo’s character, but overall I liked it. And I also liked her friendship with Chae Soo-bin’s character – it was sweet, and that’s all that I wanted from that – and that worked. The other thing that I really enjoyed were some of the airport stories, I like how much they showed us about the details of running an airport, I’m sure that all of it was not true to life, like they cannot have crises like that –
Anisa: Every thirty minutes.
Paroma: Pretty much, but overall – and one of my favorite things was the way that they dealt with – have you guys reached that episode when they have the fog coming?
Anisa: I got to the end of the episode where the fog was just coming in.
Paroma: Right, so they have this entire episode where it’s not like something major happens, but just the small things you have to do to make sure the airport keep running, and I loved those, those were my favorite moments of watching this drama.
Anisa: I know, I really liked that, although those moments were pretty cheesy and kind of – you could say that maybe it was unrealistic, but the story of the man who didn’t have papers – he was undocumented – he was from the Philippines his wife was about to give birth, and how they, like, made that happen by fudging the rules a little bit, I thought that was sweet. I cried a little.
Saya: They could have just had the mother – they could have brought her inside to meet him, rather than have him –
Anisa: But then you wouldn’t have him running around, and the walkie talkies, and the drama!
Saya: It felt a little like taking the long way around for no reason. Like it was easier than they made it, but I also felt that it didn’t quite – ok it did answer the whole, you can’t actually bend the rules for anybody, because if you make one exception then the whole system falls apart. There is a reason why the system is in place.
Anisa: Yeah, but also there’s a reason why the system is in place, but it also points out that –
Saya: Immigration isn’t kind, that’s true. But you can’t bend the rules.
Saya: The staff…have no ability to make those judgment calls. Yeah, immigration. Maybe we need a whole drama about that.
Paroma: Yeah, give it about twenty-thirty years when we can actually look back and be like, hey…
Saya: And see how insane we are, and also Brexit. [laughter]
Paroma: Ok, so the next one is Terius Behind Me, which I have not finished watching, but I actually have just watched the first four episodes – what about you guys?
Saya: I finished.
Anisa: Yeah, I finished it too. We talked about it a lot on the previous yak, but I think it remained pretty much the same for me – very heartwarming with really nice ensemble cast and great relationships between the leads and the kids and the neighborhood, the KIS – the neighborhood intelligence agency between the moms network. The spy stuff remained very light and kind of toothless and fun, but that wasn’t the main focus – I think they did a good job of raising the stakes a little bit in the last couple of episodes in a way that made us worry for characters that we cared about and then they kind of wrapped it up really nicely. It was a satisfying watch, it was fluffy, it was stress-free – it was cute, I enjoyed it.
Saya: Yeah…I didn’t genuinely believe anyone was going to die. Also, you know when they triggered the death protocol? I was like, it was too easy when we found out what really happened, but yeah – this was like low-key – I think the one word encapsulation of the whole drama was very low-key. It wasn’t that deep, so it made it very easy to watch week to week, and it was always the drama that I just watched first, I didn’t need to…you know like with other dramas you need to mentally prepare yourself before you can watch them, with this one you could just watch it and I’m not going to even ask if I’m the only person who does that.
Yeah, it was very pleasant, but I do feel like – I wasn’t exactly dissatisfied with the ending but I did feel like there was something missing, because it had changed its tone from something being a drama about a single mother who kind of finds herself doing spy work somehow by accident, into – like it just threw the kids out of the story and it was a little bit jarring because I wasn’t sure how to fit that with the character I’d known up to that point which – you know like when you are a mother you have these dominating thoughts, like you don’t put yourself in danger because you need to not die for your kids because your kids are so young that they need you and it’s a thing that dominates the way you live your life. But I also liked that Jung In-sun’s character got the chance to become someone else on her own by her own choices – like she got to find meaning in her life that wasn’t just wrapped up in the kids and like we were talking about earlier, about how she had created this – she was part of this very strong support network that allowed her to do those things.
Anisa: Yeah, the drama in general was a little bit out of sight, out of mind with certain things, like when something was not really pertinent to the plot, it would just kind of disappear. You know, like what they did with her husband in the beginning, where he was just sort of there to be gotten rid of in order to set up her relationship with So Ji-sub. Which is kind of what bothers me about the whole drama. They don’t show her mourning for her husband – her kids mourning for him.
Saya: And like, they wanted you to forget so you are like – ok I will put that thought aside, but it didn’t deal with it – it was very packed in the way that it presented itself. I don’t know if that’s a criticism, but its like, a little less perfect might have been better – would have made for a more memorable drama. As much as I enjoyed it, after I finished it is just out of my mind too. It’s sort of out of sight out of mind.
Anisa: Yeah, I agree.
Saya: But, it was fun, it was a good drama. But it doesn’t stay with me afterwards and I probably wouldn’t watch it again.
Anisa: Same. I’m going to quickly talk about Familiar Wife because I finished it, I had talked about the first half and then I finished it and I forgot to mention it in the last Long Yak. I just want to say it was a good character drama, it has a really great ensemble at the office, because they were working together and the bank employees were really lovely, and I liked how the first half was kind of focused on Ji Sung’s story and the second half was about his wife whom he time travels to not marry, and then he falls in love with her again, and then it switches to her perspective which is really great. I liked how they wrapped it up, there were some things that were kind of weird, but in general I thought it was a really satisfying do-over relationship time travel drama. I mean the leads were really good – Han Ji-min was wonderful. I’d recommend, that’s my thoughts on Familiar Wife.
Saya: How long was that? 16 episodes?
Anisa: 16 episodes, yeah.
Saya: Ok. I haven’t quite decided yet if I do want to watch it yet, but I think I’ll give the first few episodes a shot.
Anisa: I enjoyed it. Let’s get into the next thing – Beauty Inside – who watched this one?
Paroma: I watched this one! I didn’t even put my name by it, but I watched this! I told you guys how much I enjoyed the initial episodes, I had some doubts but they kind of evaporated – I liked it. I really liked this drama. It had its flaws – I wouldn’t say it’s perfect – there are certainly things I can complain about, but you know what? For a change, I won’t complain about it, because for a change, I genuinely liked the characters – they were just good people and I enjoyed the friendship between the characters a lot and the story really focused on friends. One of the things that characterized Lee Min-ki’s character here, Seo Do-jae, is that he didn’t have friends. Mostly because, of course, he couldn’t recognize faces, so he just limited himself to the people that he knew and the daily stuff that he saw in his office, so it was just difficult for him to have friends. But, on the other hand, Han Se-gye, who had this magical transformation thing happening to her every month, was surrounded by her friends who were this concrete support system for her, like any time she was in trouble one of her friends was there to help her out. So I like that that contrast between them, that was so stark initially, started fading as her friends took him into their fold and he became one of their tribe, and then even when things happened, their relationship evolves, there are misunderstandings and they are apart for a while, her friends don’t abandon Seo Do-jae, he’s still their friend as well. So are there are these things that I really liked about the drama.
The magical aspect of it stays pretty low-key. Other than how inconvenient it was for her, I think it seemed to be mostly a metaphor for how she wanted to be known for herself – she wanted someone to love her for herself and not for her outer appearance, and Seo Do-jae turned out to be that person. So, that seems to be what that whole magical realism thing was trying to get at, and I guess they got it – it’s not – I won’t spoil anything, but the magic and its rules are not super important to the ultimate telling of the story – they could have told, pretty much, the entire story without that whole magical aspect of it, I think.
There is, again, we have talked about before – this ableism thing which, Seo Do-jae is a man with a disability, and he’s in love with a woman who accepts him for his disability, and once they get into the relationship – this is one of those dramas where you see a really strong pair, and they are in a relationship within the first 6-7 episodes, and for the better half of the larger chunk of the drama, they are actually already in a committed relationship, so it’s really great when they’re dealing with bickering relatives and jealous sisters and all of that stuff. They’re doing it as a unit together so it’s really enjoyable to watch and just the chemistry between them is like fireworks. But, then you come down to – I genuinely thought that they were just going to – and this is a bit of a spoiler so tell me if you guys want to know about it or should I…
Anisa: As long as it’s not a huge twist, then that’s fine.
Paroma: No it’s not a huge twist – it’s to do with his disability, and how Korean drama pretty much refuses to let a disabled man stay disabled, because you know, how can a hero just…
Anisa: Please don’t tell me that she cures him.
Paroma: No – that doesn’t happen. The TV show manages to do it, but she doesn’t do it. This is the theme of this podcast. With how we were talking about the germs thing, I was talking about that webtoon where you have this character with OCD, or you have this character who’s a germaphobe – you have this character with a disability, but by the end of the drama you can guarantee that the hero, if it’s the hero, will no longer have that – he will be cured by some means or the other. And the way Seo Do-jae gets cured is particularly problematic because it results out of Han Se-gye’s unwitting selfishness – she doesn’t intend for it to happen, but he makes a choice which is – ok I can’t say more than that…my entire point is that – if you guys do watch it, please notice the fact that this is a drama trope that K-dramas will not let you – because they would have had a perfectly loving, normal relationship even if he never got healed – this was a strong relationship. You saw that, the drama gave us that – 6-8 episodes of these two being an amazing couple.
Saya: Because this is the ableist mindset, that disability is a flaw.
Anisa: And it has to be fixed, somehow.
Paroma: The reason he gets “fixed,” or he makes a certain choice, is a reason I can understand – the story does a good enough job of explaining to you why, otherwise, their relationship might not have progressed further, but…the plot did not have to go there, is all I’m trying to say. They have to really reach to find this reason.
Anisa: And, it’s a writing choice, right? Even if they managed to explain this in a way that mostly make sense, it’s them deciding that they need to go in this particular direction and we are going to justify it – and what you were saying about “if it’s the hero” – it’s always the hero. K-dramas are not even willing to let their heroines be fat. They’re never going to let them have a disability. Even if – this relates to one of the upcoming dramas, so I’ll just save my rant about that – it’s just really… yeah.
Paroma: And because it seems like it’s the theme of this month’s long yak, for instance in The Last Empress, Choi Jin-hyuk’s original overweight self is seen as a disability – if you look at if from this [perspective] – he will not be allowed to be a main lead if he is overweight.
Saya: It’s unpalatable to have a hero who is not cut or perfect or – you can’t have a hero who is less than perfect in every possible way, which is actually – the thing is I like Choi Jin-hyuk so it’s nothing against Choi Jin-hyuk but he is perfectly capable of carrying that role without changing, he doesn’t need to be different and it’s like, the method that they employ to transition him into Choi Jin-hyuk is hilarious, like – he had a haircut, okay. He dragged a few logs into the forest as well and he went running for a bit, for an unspecified period of time, but it’s like – okay, this was the method that they chose to show this transition. I thought there was going to be this like extreme plastic surgery – I mean, are they even the same height? Why? But the other thing, at the same time, those actors – these “unpretty” actors, wouldn’t get roles like that if they didn’t accept these, it’s kind of the predicament that we see perhaps in Western entertainment [the parallel] is non-white roles…
Anisa: You have to take those problematic ethnic roles…if you want to eat and you want to work.
Saya: Yeah, and maybe hope that the representation gets better, but it’s like yeah man, I want a drama for once to pick an actor or actress for once and just stick with them for the drama. Put your faith in them – they can carry this role.
Anisa: Spoiler alert: it’s not happening in December 2018.
Saya: But maybe January 2019. There’s one more thing that I wanted to add to that point that he was just making a minute ago about flawed hero and being cured and stuff, is that it makes me appreciate I’m Not a Robot all the more. Because Yoo Seung-ho’s character was not cured, and that was such an unusual destiny for a character like that, and that was very clear that he wasn’t cured and they actually made an open – it was openly acknowledged to the character explicitly in the show: you are going to have to learn to live with your condition and embrace it as a friend. And you know, the fact that they actually dealt with that really directly – they dealt with the fact that it wasn’t going to be cured, and they dealt with the fact that it was going to be with him his whole life – he would have good days and he would have bad days. It was all there, it was such a great package. It’s December 2018, and that drama – I think it was actually a full year ago that it premiered, and to me that it is still the best drama of the year.
Anisa: That’s a really good point. So, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes, Paroma – what did you think about this?
Paroma: I’m really drawn to immoral characters in any story, especially one that is written as well as Seo In-guk’s character in this one. Because at every point, you knew why – even when he was doing inexplicable, almost impulsively destructive things, you knew: there’s a reason behind why he’s like that and when the reason is revealed, you understand it. So, I liked this despite – I really don’t want to spoil this drama for anyone because this drama, while this is very much a character study, you go in there to watch these actors portray these characters. You want to watch them on your screen and you want to see them live their daily lives and interact and just I don’t know, go through their emotions and you go through their emotions with them. This is one of those dramas, that is not heavy and more character driven. But, on the other hand, there are certain things that are very much dependent on certain twists, certain secrets so you can’t actually talk about this drama in a lot of depth – maybe at some point we can do a special on this, we can just review this and contrast it with the Japanese one which Anisa has watched and I haven’t, and hopefully I will pretty soon – I don’t want to right now.
Anisa: I’m also only on episode 6 of this, but I want to finish it and talk about it with you, but we can do that on a separate episode.
Paroma: I think that would be the best, because I don’t think I can talk about this much without spoiling it, and I want a proper spoiler-filled episode to discuss this – I liked it, I really liked this drama and although I kind of avoid dark things, I’m really glad I didn’t avoid this drama. I watched it until the end. I watched it and couldn’t stop, even when I knew that certain things were going to happen – I kept watching – even though I probably, with any other drama, with any other cast of characters I would have aborted. So that’s where I am.
Anisa: So, I watched 6 of the episodes, but I really liked it so far. Even though – I feel like I told myself that I can’t go through this experience again, I ended up watching it anyway, so that really tells you how compelling the story is. And I think they did a really good job of replicating that, even if it wasn’t exactly the same, but they replicated that feeling of like, thrill, and you can’t stop watching even though you’re like – it’s a train that’s about to crash but you can’t get off kind of feeling, so I also – I liked the Japanese one and I liked what I’ve seen of this one.
Paroma: The way Seo In-guk gives off that whole vibe of being insanely charming, but at the same time being kind of an unstable genius…
Anisa: He is so good, oh my gosh, he can do anything at this point.
Paroma: Oh my god, yes he can. He has taken over my heart completely – there is nothing – I finished this and instantly went back to watch Reply 1997, and having watched that I think for the seventh time now – yeah, I was kind of insane for that, I was like wait – which drama have I not watched? And that was High School King of Savvy.
Anisa: Oh my God, I loved that one! So good.
Paroma: It’s the heroine that put me off. I had stopped watching this and had to go back. In the first episode she was so –
Anisa: She really took a little getting used to, but at the same time, I can appreciate how far they went in making her that weird and taking that risk with the heroine, I can appreciate that.
Paroma: Ok, I’m going to stick with it because I have to see – both you and Saya have talked about how much you guys loved this drama so I have to watch it and also because of Seo In-guk – I just – when is this guy going to do a straight-off romance? And I, of course, recently finished watching Shopping King Louis, which I had watched half-way – and then I had to go watch – so basically everything.
Anisa: Should we tell Saya to come back – are we done?
Paroma: Yes, I think we’re done. Hi, I was just talking about how I was revisiting all of Seo In-guk’s works, and I had not watched High School King of Savvy, so guess what I’m watching now?
Saya: I thought you had watched that?
Paroma: I hadn’t, I had watched like the first episode and the heroine was so annoying I gave it up. But now that I’m completely head over heels with Seo In-guk I just can’t stop watching everything he’s in.
Saya: I thought you were head over heels for him like three years ago?
Paroma: I was, but every time I watch him in a new drama, I fall in love with him again.
Saya: You are a loyal fan.
Paroma: Also, because in this particular drama, he’s just…
Saya: Leaves you speechless.
Anisa: In High School King of Savvy? Oh, in The Smile Has Left Your Eyes. It’s a very – you know how we were talking about Yoon Kyun-sang and how he is very blank and generic, and the only thing that sticks out about him is that he’s tall, in that role, and anyone could play it? With Seo In-guk, everything he does he kind of makes it his own, and he does it so unforgettably that you can’t imagine anyone else doing it. And I feel like we could talk about how much we love Seo In-guk for the rest of time.
So, upcoming dramas – I made a list of December dramas, but a lot of those have already aired their first episode, because they were airing on December 1st. We talked about Memories of the Alhambra already, so I’ll just leave that, the other ones that are airing on December 1st – there’s Fates and Furies, starring Lee Min-jung and Joo Sang-wook and it sounds like a very makjang kind of…
Saya: This is like a standard weekend drama.
Anisa: It is, and the only reason that I brought it up is because it’s their drama reunion – they were the leads of Cunning Single Lady, also known as Sly and Single Again, and they’re starring as leads in this, and they had good chemistry together so I just wanted to give it a shoutout.
Saya: That was very different.
Anisa: Well, this is – there’s attempted suicide and a parent has passed away and poverty – it’s just very…so just a fair warning about that. But they are good actors and very cute together.
There’s one on Channel A which is one of the non – it’s not a popular cable channel, it’s like very small and they usually make pretty bad dramas, but I’m bringing this up because it’s called Coffee, Please and it aired its first episode on December 1st. It stars Yong Joon-hyung of Beast, now Highlight – he was also in Monstar.
But basically the story is he’s a webtoon writer, he’s popular and handsome but he’s not nice to people and he doesn’t believe in love, and he has a trainee who is cute and chubby and she has had crush on him for a long time, but she’s never told him about her feelings and then one day she drinks coffee and she suddenly finds herself changed into a beautiful woman…[sigh]. Yeah, I know, it’s very transparent, but what struck me about this, and this is going back to our previous conversation which has become our theme is that the actress that plays the original character is Kim Min-young whom if you’ve seen Monstar – she was one of the students that was in [the band] –
Saya: She’s been in a whole lot of things, she’s quite good.
Anisa: So these two have been in a drama together before, but I really like her in everything, she’s such a good actress, and I would like, one hundred percent much rather watch her as the heroine than this skinny version that she turns into who, I’m sure she’s fine, but she doesn’t have the personality that Kim Min-young does. It’s just like that same thing with Birth of a Beauty, there was the initial actress was so good and she’s always so good, and she was replaced by Han Ye-seul who is fine, but –
Saya: Can I just say one even though – it won’t take long, the problem is that if you don’t do it that way – like if you start off with the hot actor than you uglify them, you haven’t – like She Was Pretty or something like that, I don’t like that either.
Anisa: But why can’t Kim Min-young be –
Saya: Yeah, why can’t she keep the role? But do you know what they would do? They would give her a makeover – you wouldn’t have that story. I guess what we want to say is that we don’t want to see that story anymore – plain girl becomes pretty, because, can we have better stories than this, please?
Anisa: But also, she is pretty. She doesn’t fit into that narrow little anorexic body standard that everyone pretends is a normal body that everyone should aspire to.
Saya: And it’s like more importantly, she has a lot of personality, she has a lot of character – they bring so much more to the roles than their faces, and sometimes you feel like – this isn’t always the case with the more “attractive” actors – but sometimes they can just skate by on their looks, they don’t need to work as hard and not everyone does that, but there certainly are people who do. And then you have just really talented, good actors who just don’t get as much of a chance to show that – because the roles don’t cater to them.
Anisa: Exactly, and then even if there is a role that is catered to somebody who does have that body type, you get something like Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo, which casts like this super skinny – amazing, but super skinny – actress in this role that was actually about someone who was not that skinny in real life. And I mean, I love that drama, but thats always going to kind of bother me.
Saya: And like Oh My Ghost as well, in which you had Kim Seul-gi and it’s like her entire character got totally shafted by that show.
Anisa: Yeah, unfortunately that’s just a trend.
The next one is Just Dance – the literal title I think is Dance Sports Girls, and it’s on KBS airing beginning December 3rd, and it’s just about a group of girls in high school in like a countryside city.
Saya: A rural island. This is the same island they filmed Hospital Ship on – it’s like an industrial town.
Anisa: That’s right, it is an island.
Saya: It has really beautiful scenery, so you can’t let scenery go to waste. And also, what’s exciting about this is that you’ve got Jang Dong-yoon and Park Sewan – Pi from I’m Not a Robot and also they were both in School 2017 – yeah, I’m really excited about this drama.
Anisa: It has a nice cast and I’m hoping for shades of Sassy Go Go, maybe, perhaps.
Paroma: Did you mention that this one is based on a real story?
Saya: Oh, it is, isn’t it?
Paroma: They’ve added a boy to the group.
Saya: But like the boy that they’ve added is like this elfin, sensitive guy –
Paroma: It seems like the plot – from the trailers and stuff – it does seem like the plot is mostly focused on the girl’s dynamics, especially the two – there are two main protagonists – their dynamics. This is very much like a throwback to Girl’s Generation 1979.
Anisa: Okay, the next one is the one that I know that one of the members of our team is very excited about – it’s called Bok Soo is Back, or The Return of Revenge, also the English title is My Strange Hero.
Saya: Why do they give them these weird titles?
Anisa: I don’t know. But it’s got Yoo Seung-ho and Jo Bo-a and it’s about him when he was a high school student. He was falsely accused of committing violence and kicked out of school and this was caused by his first love, who is played by Jo Bo-a, and a male student, and so now he is an unhappy grown-up and he wants to get revenge on those two. So he returns to the same high school as a student, which I don’t understand, because if he’s an adult, aren’t they also adults? But anyway, he goes back and he’s trying to get revenge and like, things happen and he gets involved in cases…
Saya: And, of course, the pun on the name is that the Korean word for vengeance is bok-soo, his name is Bok-soo, so that’s why there’s a kind of Return of Revenge, or Bok-soo is Back – but I’m excited about this.
Anisa: I mean, who wants to say no to more Yoo Seung-ho?
Anisa: And Jo Bo-a is really good too. This is really all down to execution and writing. And this is December 10th. Soon. So that’s what’s coming up, and now it’s time for the dad joke, which I’m responsible for. It’s delightfully horrible. Ready? What word starts with E, ends with E, and only has one letter in it?
Paroma and Saya: E?
Anisa: Envelope. [Laughter] Pretty good, right?
Saya: I think it banks on you to say E. That was terrible. Well done. Next time you will grace us with another.
Anisa: I will?
Anisa: Okay. Why is it me again? Okay, I’ll do my best. Alright, that’s it – very long this time.
Paroma: But we had completed a lot of the dramas. And now the new season begins.
Anisa: Look for some special, like, end of the year goodies from us on Twitter and stuff like #Decemberdramas and some other stuff that we are coming out with.
Paroma: Bye guys, thanks for listening.
Outro (Saya): You could have given us another hour, and we’d still have more to talk about. One thing to add about December shows, you might remember that we previewed the Luther remake of Bad Detective, also called Less than Evil, as an upcoming November show, that had its air date pushed to December, so we’ll come back with our thoughts about that next month, or rather probably I will since I’m the thrill junkie in these parts – but guys, I can’t believe it’s already the end of the year. Keep an eye out for some of the fun we’ve got planned for you, and we’d love to have you guys come and play with us on Twitter. The #Decemberdramas is really yielding some pretty awesome reviews – extremely awesome reviews. Why am I being moderate in my praise? But, don’t worry if you don’t feel social, we love you just for listening. As always, you can leave us comments on our Youtube or Sound Cloud pages, Tweet at us @dramasoverflow or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and you know how much we appreciate your reviews on iTunes. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. In case you missed us launching it last month, check out our Patreon page if you want to support us. To our current patrons, we’ve said it already, but we really can’t thank you enough, seriously. Thank you so much! And that’s it for the long yak in 2018 – Thank you all so much for joining us, for sticking with us and for talking to us. We hope you have a great holiday season surrounded by good friends and good dramas, and we will see you next year. Bye!
This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity of reading.