First Long Yak of 2019!
Listen to the episode right here:
00:01:17 – Anisa’s paper on Korea
CURRENTLY WATCHING DRAMAS —
00:09:07 – MY STRANGE HERO
00:26:52 – BOYFRIEND/ENCOUNTER
00:39:21 – THE LAST EMPRESS
00:46:21 – MEMORIES
00:56:43 – JUST DANCE/DANCE SPORTS GIRLS
01:00:16 – TOP STAR YOO BAEK
01:09:47 – MY AJUSSHI
01:13:54 – RED MOON BLUE SUN
01:20:20 – TIMELESS
01:25:24 – MEN ON A MISSION
01:28:51 – YOUTH OVER FLOWERS
UPCOMING DRAMAS —
01:32:53 – THE CROWNED CLOWN
01:35:54 – NEIGHBOURHOOD LAWYER 2
01:36:53 – WHAT’S WRONG POONG-SANG/LIVER OR DIE
01:39:34 – SPRING TURNS TO SPRING
01:42:17 – KINGDOM (Netflix)
01:45:01 – ROMANCE IS A BONUS BOOK
01:48:09 – TOUCH YOUR HEART
QS OF THE YAK —
01:53:10 – WHAT DRAMA DID YOU HATE BUT KEPT WATCHING?
Thanks as always to Kdramadaydreamer for her transcription! Find her on Twitter and show her some love.
Here’s a link to the video about “Da Kine” that Anisa mentions when she talks about Top Star Yoo Baek and “geoshigi”. Shoutout to Dramabeans beanie PakalanaPikake for sharing it with us – thank you! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nxdy6SaeDTQ
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Saya: Hi everyone, this is Saya.
Anisa: This is Anisa.
Paroma: And this is Paroma – welcome to our eleventh yak! The first one of 2019. Yay!
Saya: New year, new yak. So, new year, new yak, but the news is a bit thin on the ground apart from things like award shows and they are not that interesting, actually. So, what we thought we’d do instead of the new segment this time is, I want to ask Anisa a little bit about her – they’re not actually extra-curriculars, they are curriculars, the yak is the extra-curricular. So Anisa, you went back to school quite recently and you’ve been very busy for the whole last semester. Can you tell us a little bit about what you are doing? And it is relevant everyone, I promise.
Anisa: So, I started my masters in Critical Asian Humanities in August, and I haven’t decided what my thesis topic or anything is going to be yet, that’s due by March and then I’ll write it next year, but Korea is one of my focus areas, the other one will probably be the Partition of India which happened in 1947 and I think it’s really interesting how, around that same time, Korea was also split into two and there are some major differences of course, but there are also some interesting parallels and I’ve seen some really interesting connections or similarities between the two cultures. My thing has always been to find connections across broad things and bring them together in interesting ways, so this semester I wrote a paper about Korean dramas which was fun, and I actually was inspired – it was for my Topics in Asian Humanities class, so we could basically take all of the theoretical stuff that we learned all semester and apply it to basically whatever we wanted and I had – after we got renewed interest in our Men Behaving Badly episode, it was around the time I was deciding what to do for my final paper and I was like, this is kind of an interesting – it tied into some of the feminist theory about film that we were reading, and it talked about how basically Korean dramas have dominated, well, it’s not necessarily female dominated, but the writers are women and the viewers are generally women, so that’s created a space in a pretty patriarchal society that is still not really great in a lot of ways for women to have their own kind of stories. To tell stories that really center their experiences in a way that is actually not even happening in countries that really pride themselves on women’s rights like the US – and that’s not the reality, but it’s the perception. The entertainment industry is still very sexist and the film industry in Korea is really sexist, but it is really interesting how dramas have created that kind of space. And because it’s not really prestige TV in a certain way, no one is too bothered by the fact that it is stories for women, about women, created by women. I also wrote about the trend that we talked about in Men Behaving Badly about how the heroines have been getting much more interesting, they’ve been allowed to be more than just the Candy, so that was one of my papers.
I don’t want to go on forever, but another one was about the multicultural shift that is happening in South Korea right now because there has been such a huge influx of immigrants since the 90s, and most of them are from Asian countries. So they are having to kind of rethink their idea of who a Korean person is, because they have a lot of mixed marriages and what they call multi-cultural families, which is when one of the spouses is from another country – usually it is like a wife from a Southeast Asian country that has married a Korean man, so it’s a very interesting time of shifting norms around – the blood-based “we’re one ethnic people” type of idea is starting to slowly shift, and of course there are people who are against it. Last year there were a lot of anti-refugee protests because there were Yemeni refugees who came to Jeju-do and they were kind of stuck there, and there were people protesting in Seoul to send the refugees back home. But then there are people like Jung Woo-sung, who I love even more now, because he’s like “I don’t care if I lose fans, I’m going to support the right of refugees to come here and we should support them.” He’s so lovely.
Yeah, so then another one was about movies – but like that was just a close reading of a couple of movies from the colonial era which is one of the eras that I’m really interested in. So, yeah, that’s what I’m doing.
Saya: That’s really interesting. I wish I was studying what you were studying.
Anisa: Yeah, and then you will have to go to school…
Saya: I get to read your essays, I think that’s enough. None of the work…and also a shout-out to our listeners whom we’ve decided are super-nerds, in like the best way possible. If there’s anyone else out there who’s studying in that area, we’d love to hear from you about what you’re studying and your areas of interest and that kind of thing. It’s very interesting.
Saya: Do you think one day there will be, like, a bachelors degree in Korean entertainment?
Anisa: There are already bachelors degrees in, like, Asian studies.
Saya: It’s not quite the same thing as a degree in K-dramas, though.
Anisa: No, it’s too narrow for a whole degree. Like we have a – you could write your thesis about it, definitely. I just think that my parents will be, like, you’re getting a master’s degree and you’re writing about television? Which is why I’m writing about it in my papers. And I think I’d want to do something a little more broad – I don’t know, I’m still thinking about my thesis, I’m not sure. My school is offering a class on K-pop this semester and it filled up within a couple of weeks – it’s crazy.
Saya: Are you doing it?
Anisa: No, because it’s an undergraduate class and we are not actually allowed to take undergraduate classes for credit anymore starting from when I joined, which sucks.
Saya: Would you have done it?
Anisa: Well, I’m doing this class in East Asian cultural studies and I have a feeling that he talks about K-pop in there and I like the prof a lot, so I’m sure it will come up.
Saya: It’s very likely that it will with how very big, like, BTS is right now.
Anisa: Exactly, yeah.
Saya: That’s fun. Thank you for sharing that with us – that was a lot of stuff that we actually hadn’t heard before because we do, of course, talk about this behind the scenes – but yeah, thank you for sharing that.
Anisa: Thanks for asking me.
Saya: And if anyone else wants to ask Anisa anything, send in your questions.
Anisa: Yeah, if it’s interesting. I don’t want to bore you guys. I’m always conscious of the fact that this is something that I’m really interested in and I could go on and on about it, and like I do it to my family and then I’m like, maybe they don’t actually want to hear this and I’m just one of those annoying people who, like, can’t read the room.
Saya: I’m like that, except luckily, for me, my sisters would be, like, we are not interested – stop talking.
Anisa: My sister doesn’t tell me to stop talking, but she’s like – your voice is really loud. But it’s true – I do have a really loud voice.
Saya: Shall we move onto our next thing?
Paroma: Don’t you want to take this one since you are starting with My Strange Hero?
Saya: Well, I feel that you and Anisa need to redeem yourselves. Is anyone calling it Bok-soo’s Return?
Anisa: I am – in my heart!
Saya: Yeah, I am too, but I’m pretty sure the actual, official title everywhere is My Strange Hero.
Paroma: Yeah, but listen, Bok-soo’s Back is like the literal title so I like how punnish it is.
Anisa: Yeah – the alliteration! It’s so nice. This is the nerdiest podcast ever. [laughter]
Saya: Maybe it’s early in the year, or perhaps too late.
Paroma: So, Yoo Seung-ho is – I think he completely won me over through the flashbacks, when he was doing the actual school-aged schoolboy, not like the grown-up school boy. His flashbacks with Jo Bo-ah was – it was just sugar and candies and stuff, so delicious.
Saya: How does he look 15 years old?
Anisa: The thing that really amazes me is that when he’s being teenage Bok-soo he looks more like a teenager, his expressions are bigger, he’s more of – his smile’s wider, and then when you see him in the present time, he’s a little bit more reserved – you can see the age on him.
Paroma: He has a slight bit more maturity just the way he holds himself – it’s in his face, it’s not just in his acting – so it’s incredible how he does it. He’s wearing the same uniform – how does he do it?
Saya: And as an adult it actually looks like he’s outgrown it, just a bit.
Paroma: Maybe that’s because they’ve made the uniform slightly – they’ve trimmed it a bit – maybe that’s also a credit to the costume department. Just because he says it’s the same one…[laughter]
Saya: Uniform aside, like you say – his whole face, his expression, everything is like…
Anisa: Really impressive.
Paroma: Yeah, and his high school boy crush on Song Soo-jung is – You know what? I got completely won over the moment he said that his life’s ambition is to be Song Soo-jung’s boyfriend, I’m like – man – dude, this boy – he has…
Anisa: You know what though, normally that kind of stuff would make me cringe a little –
Saya: Yeah, because you’re like, he’s dumb as a brick, right?
Anisa: It’s not that, it’s just, like, the super overly corny stuff, sometimes I think I have just a little bit less of a tolerance – I think you guys enjoy that a little more than me. I like it up to a point and then I’m like eurgh…. it’s okay. But, with them it’s cute and he sells it so well – he’s so sincere – the sincerity in his performance really shines through.
Paroma: In high school Jo Bo-ah, the character’s name is Song Soo-jung – high school Song Soo-jung is pretty good too, I really like her when she is in high school – her relationship with Kang Bok-soo is – I like both of them at that stage. My feelings change a bit towards adult Song Soo-jung because I think the problem is with the writing, but we’ll get to that – the thing with that whole, “I want to be Song Soo-jung’s boyfriend, that’s my ambition,” the thing that rung me about that phrase was how similar it was to phrases uttered by other female characters in other dramas. Do you remember in Fight My Way you had that – what was her name –
Anisa: The best friend?
Paroma: Was it Sora? The best friend of the main couple – her life’s ambition was to be a wife and mother, and Fight My Way went out of its way to say that’s an okay ambition to have – that’s perfectly fine, she would make an excellent wife and mother. You know, your ambition doesn’t just have to be a great announcer or a great boxer. So, and I liked that in this case, the boy was like – you would make an excellent teacher, but all I want out of my life is to be your boyfriend. I just like that they did that. And I’m all about the subversions – you can always get me just by subverting basic sexist tropes. It really gets me every time.
Saya: What I really enjoy about his character – you know he has these things – he just presents so solemnly when he’s about to give a quote, right? And then he does a misquote! [giggles]
Anisa: He actually reminds me a little bit of Se-jong’s character in School 2017 – the female lead. When she’s like – so dumb, but like there’s something about her that’s really special and she has talents that are just not acknowledged by the system in school, you know? So, he has that too – he’s like dumb as a rock, but he’s got this charm and this talent that’s been able to – this talent for being there when people need help and just coming through for them, which is basically been his whole career – and he like – are you guys up to date on this one?
Saya and Paroma: Yeah.
Anisa: So we find out that he was helping someone by the way, and his friend was like, we should make a business out of this, it would be great – and they just kind of fell into working together on that, which is so fitting for his character.
Saya: And I really like the way – you’ve got Kwak Dong-yeon’s character Oh Se-ho who’s like this contrast –
Paroma: Oh, I can’t figure him out at all.
Anisa: I’m really impressed by how creepy and horrible I find him, because I’ve loved him in everything, he’s always so cute, right?
Saya: Did you watch Radio Romance? Because, he played that same creepy kind of character
Paroma: Okay, so he played this completely amazing Sunbae in My ID is Gangnam Beauty and I loved him – that’s the first time I noticed him and from that to this, I can’t recognize this guy at all.
Anisa: I saw him for the first time when he was really young, like in a family drama, and he played one of the children of one of the families and so, like, it’s very weird for me to see him in this grown up role where he’s being all creepy, weird and evil.
Saya: Yeah, I’m not sure I like him with this creepy – you know the crazy-eyed look, because he did this a lot in Radio Romance, and in that you couldn’t quite figure him out either, but the way, like, he just can’t figure it out – I really love the was that he – like, he can see that this dumb as a brick Bok-soo is getting everything that he wants and he’s like, I have everything, yet they always pick him. The way the accident – the roof-top incident works out as well, it’s like – that was so creepy.
Anisa: It was, but I feel like – I actually find Soo-jung more difficult to figure out than him, because with him you can see why he turned out to be so twisted, because you see his mother – shout-out to the actress who plays his mother because she’s so good.
Paroma: Yeah, and she usually plays really lovable mom-type characters!
Anisa: Yeah! She was the hwaejang of KIS in Terius Behind Me, right? The head of the neighborhood ajumma intelligence network – she was so great in that. But like you can see that it’s because he’s been put in this really competitive environment and all that his parents want for him is to succeed, and he’s under a lot of pressure and probably he has some mental illness in there too, and it’s kind of twisted him into this – so you know, like you said, he sees that Bok-soo gets all this stuff and he gets to have a family that loves him. You know, like when they go home and they see his family and then afterwards he’s walking with Soo-jung and he’s like, “I’m really jealous of Bok-soo, he has a family and a mom like the ones that come out in dramas.” Obviously the contrast is really stark, right? But with Soo-jung, I just don’t quite understand what is going on in her head sometimes…the writing –
Paroma: I don’t understand it either.
Anisa: Yeah, the writing is a little inconsistent – by now I’m pretty on board with the two of them – especially after episode 7, but there’s still a lot of scenes in the middle where I’m just like…
Paroma: I’m not on board with them at all.
Anisa: Oh, you’re not? Okay, let’s hear it.
Paroma: You know that crucial conversation they had? And this is mildly spoilery you guys, but the drama’s half-way through so of course they had a crucial conversation – there was a misunderstanding and the thing is that Song Soo-jung is – she equates what she suffered after Bok-soo got expelled from school, which is just, I don’t know, she felt isolated and friendless in the last few months of her school, and she compares that to Kang Bok-soo’s experience of being expelled and then not being admitted to any other school – how is this woman…? I cannot understand this woman at all. The worst thing is, I don’t understand that conversation. She didn’t conclude anything, she didn’t ask him what happened, she didn’t ask him – just asked him, did you push Oh Se-ho and he said no, and she’s like sorry I didn’t ask you before. It’s just…there were bread crumbs I suppose, where you could see how she was getting to the point where Bok-soo kept asking her, why don’t you ask me? Whenever you see me in a situation or an altercation, why do you just assume that I am the guilty party – why don’t you ask me what happened first and so she does, but –
Saya: Then why doesn’t he tell her – that’s what bothers me as well.
Paroma: It’s not a full conversation, if you are going to have this conversation after ten years, it’s going to be more than just the exchange of one sentence – you know what I mean? They are holding back on this complete conversation and it makes no sense…and how does Bok-soo just forgive her?
Saya: Because he’s had a crush on her for all this time – he’s been in love with her all this time…
Paroma: At this point, the way that he looks – see the thing is, any sane thinking person – even if he was in love with this woman, he would have at least had this bit of hesitation that she hasn’t – I haven’t cleared my name in her eyes yet – like she says she believes me, but she’s also the reason that he…
Saya: For him it wasn’t about him being cleared, it was about her believing him and that is not to say, because I totally agree with you – I really am not on board with her character either. On the one hand she’s that flawed character who remains flawed – and I know how she works, how she works is she’s got this very inflexible mindset. What she sees is what is true and that’s all she believes in, but that doesn’t quite square up in that she doesn’t – she hasn’t really experienced any growth yet, like saying sorry hasn’t changed her, but also like you say – her suffering does not match up in any way to what he’s gone through. But then I feel like that’s kind of who Bok-soo is as well is that, it was never – school wasn’t a big deal to him – what’s important to him is his relationships and to repair that relationship, or to restore it to its original level of faith is what is more important to him than telling the story, because I think also he doesn’t want to tell Se-ho’s story, because like he knows what happened on the roof-top which is like Se-ho pushed, pulled himself out of Bok-soo’s grip and let himself fall, while framing Bok-soo for it.
Paroma: Se-ho did more than that. Se-ho…but, see the thing is, what I don’t understand about Bok-soo protecting Oh Se-ho…
Saya: He’s not protecting him, he’s minding his own business…
Anisa: No, he’s not. Sorry, can I…just my caveat – I know that I said I was on board with her, I’m more like kind of on board with where the story is taking them at this point but that could change depending upon what the writing does, but I agree with you – you know Paroma how you said the conversation was incomplete? I agree and – he has a conversation with his best friend – what’s his name? Kyung-hyun I think, and his friend’s like – maybe you should tell her about what Se-ho did in the past, he seems like a pretty dangerous guy, and he’s still around. And he’s like no, no I don’t want to distress her – and I was just like arrgh!
Paroma: Which is just weak writing at that point – when a character makes a choice like that, a deciding choice that can keep the plot from tipping over, you have to give us a convincing reason for that, not just that – oh I didn’t want to stress her out….
Anisa: The reason is that they want to extend it for a few more episodes.
Paroma: And I don’t really mind this entire thread that they are doing now where Song soo-jung is trying to figure out for herself, like on the one hand she’s fighting her urge to just ignore what happened in the past and just move on, and there is the other side which is like no, I have to figure out what happened in the past especially because Oh Se-ho is just creepy and weird. And finally the thing that actually bothers me about that entire confrontation was it undermined Song soo-jung’s character. See, I’m okay with her being wrong which is fine, so long as she has conviction in what she actually believed ten years ago, but the way she just dropped the whole, I think you did wrong – she had such conviction in what she heard that she sort of held on to it for ten years – but it just flipped on its head so quickly, there was just not enough time given that switch and I just found it really unconvincing and now I no longer – I used to like her character. I’m fine with a character who is just wrong-headed, and then they realize what they did and they feel guilt for it. She doesn’t even seem to actually feel guilt for what she had done. Instead she makes Bok-soo feel guilty for some stupid thing that he said in her defense, it’s just an entire mess, man. And then Bok-soo does feel guilty – he says oh my god, and is telling his friend, I have hurt her so much –
Anisa: No, but then he doesn’t even explain why he said what made her feel bad so then it’s like –
Saya: But this is such a drama thing – they never explain anything and it’s…just say what happened! I’m not on board with that romance…I find her entertaining as a character though, like she’s funny.
Paroma: She is…by herself she is funny.
Saya: And she’s very flawed.
Anisa: I think I’m not quite as mad at her as you guys, because she does say in episode 7, how can you forgive me so easily? What I did to you was so terrible…and like, why are you ok with me? But it’s kind of weak – I agree. My issue is also like, why are they kissing in public when she’s technically his teacher and is going to get fired for it?
Paroma: Yeah, I’m not okay with that either. She’s the one who was fighting so hard to become a permanent employee and she’s okay with giving that up – not giving that up but putting that at risk? But, you know what? Overall vibes, we really like this drama – we are hoping that last week’s writing gets better – gets over the hump and just gets better going forward. I am still rooting for this drama.
Anisa: Yeah, and I’m like all in for Bok-soo right now.
Paroma: Oh my god, yes. And I’m like you guys, I don’t think he’s dumb – I just think that he was not academically clever, but he’s perfectly resourceful in other ways.
Anisa: Yeah, that’s what I meant. He’s not book smart.
Paroma: Ok, so, on to the next cute boy, which is Park Bo-gum in Boyfriend, or Encounter – what do you guys think?
Anisa: I just want to say, I’ve only watched the first 4 episodes, so I don’t know what’s been happening recently.
Paroma: Why was it just the first 4 episodes? Did you drop it? Was it not interesting for you or have you
Anisa: No, I got to the end of episode 4 and I was just kind of like uhhh, I don’t know about this and then I just got so busy and it wasn’t like – I wasn’t loving it so much that I felt like I had to go back to it even if I didn’t really have time and give up my sleep for it, but I’m probably going to go back.
Saya: It is slow, it does move quite slowly
Anisa: All I had time for was three episodes of Bok-soo and then I had to go to sleep or otherwise I would be dead today. It was making me think of what you said about like being a school kid trying to finish your homework [laughs] it was like, uhhh I should have done this earlier…should I give my, like, very brief general impressions?
Paroma: Yeah, absolutely.
Anisa: My first impression was just like, the gorgeousness is like overwhelming in every way, the drama, the leads – everything about it is so gorgeous. I was just in a daze with how dazzling it was and then the story – the part where they’re in Cuba is very beautiful. I think the more that I saw in the Seoul portion – and then right at the end – I’ll just go ahead and say what happened, because it’s been a few weeks now – where the scandal happens and he kind of steps up in the lobby and is like, “It was me,” and he kind of like saves her in a way. I think what was bothering me a little is like that – it seems at first to be a reversal of the Candy/chaebol kind of, and he’s the Candy and she’s the one in power and he’s the one who is kind of just a hard working young person trying to get through life, but I almost feel like they are doing this manic pixie dream girl thing where he’s like the quirky, beautiful artistic person who comes into her life and teaches her how to smile again and it’s like, I don’t know, still the woman needs a man to save her in some ways, but then I was reading something about how like, some people were really moved by that gesture of him because – it’s like she’s the one who has more to lose and he just steps up and reveals his identity, I don’t know, maybe you guys could tell me if that’s accurate…
Saya: I mean, I can see why you say that, but I don’t that he’s saving her, because he has even more to lose – I mean as much to lose perhaps, if not more so like, it’s a risk as much for him as it is for her. What I really like about what this show does is that, and I think that pure romances tend to do this more, is that they give you a really close look at the dynamics between the two of them, so what this show does is – it’s all about distance, like it shows you the power of distance and the distance between them is such a living thing, and I find that so interesting. The way that I feel about the show is not quite the way that I feel about Temperature of Love, but like, it falls into the same type of show, in that it’s where the romance is going is – I’m not quite sure how to explain this – is it’s so dependent upon – their agency is so important, each of their choices – yet they don’t take their choices away from each other, like everything that he does, which may or may not help her, it is always done with a regard for her agency. And her chaebol-ness is like unpeeled a layer at a time to show you that actually, though she appears powerful on the outside, she’s living in every way a caged life. So, it’s not really that sort of poor little rich girl story, it’s about this woman whose been like chattel and a bargaining chip her whole life, finding a way to step out of her cage, which he doesn’t actually do, but he provides the impetus for her to leave, like he makes her think why can’t I do this and then she does – but it’s not about him, he’s not the one who’s making her do it, she actually does it for herself.
Anisa: Okay, yeah, I’m not saying that it was doing that – I was just starting to feel – you know sometimes how you start to feel like, oh no, I hope it’s not going in this direction and then you just like stop because it was so enjoyable up to that point that you don’t want to ruin it…
Saya: Yeah I’m a week behind, so I don’t know what’s happened after the masquerade ball, but I do
Anisa: Oooh, there was a masquerade ball?
Saya: There is!
Paroma: Yeah, that was a week before. I agree with Saya – I actually liked that moment in the foyer where he comes up and says it’s me, because the thing with Cha Soo-hyun is that she’s very alone, very isolated. She has the two people near her, like her secretary and her driver cum right hand man, I’m not sure what he is – an Ahjussi, you know, like a loving uncle/ driver –
Anisa: A friend/employee –
Paroma: Exactly, so, she has those two people but they are employees, and there is a certain distance and her own family can’t support her, have never supported her – even her father who seems to be slightly in her corner has already made use of her in his political career and now he’s like – oh you know I couldn’t do anything for you before, now you should live your life. But, to be fair, he is not actually being very useful to her in that supportive way as parents should be. So, she has no one. She didn’t expect anyone to stand up for her – she’s always stood up for herself – she thought that this was yet another battle that she would have to fight on her own as she has done ever since she got that divorce and she got out of that horrendous marriage and started building a life for herself outside it, but she was – even as she built that world outside it, she was restricted by rules created by her evil mother-in-law and her own mother –
Saya: Oh, man – the mothers in this…
Anisa: They make my blood pressure go up.
Paroma: I think the most enjoyable thing about this drama is watching Cha Soo-hyun fight back, like quietly – in such a dignified way, but to fight back and as she’s fighting back, it’s not like she ever raises her voice – I think one time she raised her voice against her mom, but usually she’s so calm and you can see years and years of weight on her shoulders. And then like when she’s with Park Bo-gum (Kim Jin-hyuk) that weight seems to fall away a little. So, it is beautiful to watch. I don’t think their dynamic is supposed to be that real Candy/chaebol thing – at first that’s what I thought it was and I really liked it – yay female chaebol! But quickly the drama tells you that, no – I think from the first moments of the drama in the opening scenes were really telling, the way the camera follows her through her father’s campaign – through her marriage and then to her tumultuous divorce and now the camera just follows her from behind as she goes through all of these scenes. I think it’s wonderful because it tells you that the camera never leaves her, no matter what she does, it’s news. That’s a horrible life to live, so yeah – I love it. But the drama has slowed down a bit…
Anisa: I just wanted to give a shout out to the directing, which is gorgeous, and I also wanted to mention – and I can’t remember the person’s name who said this, which I apologize for that – but I saw it on Dramabeans – that it’s like Roman Holiday, but if afterwards the girl – or the guy had come to work for the princess in the castle after the movie ends. Because it’s like – there’s a lot of similarities, you know like they meet in this like foreign place and they have this really magical time together, and at the end she has to go back to her princess life and he goes back to his regular – and even – he’s a photographer and the guy was a reporter, but I thought that was really interesting. I think that they were saying that even the beginning – where the camera was following her from the back, is similar to the beginning of Roman Holiday.
Saya: So that was intentional.
Anisa: I think so, so I just wanted to give a shout out to that Beanie who – and I’m sorry that I can’t remember your name, but I didn’t want to claim that the idea was my own.
Saya: The other thing that crossed my mind about the show, and this is the last thing I’m going to say about it is that the whole story with her ex husband, and this so easily could have been a drama about those two – her ex husband and her because you know – actually you don’t know, as we go on if you continue watching, you find out things about their relationship that change the entire story and it’s so interesting and I’m watching it and I’m thinking – this could have been a totally different drama, and it would have been perhaps a little bit more typical, but it’s interesting to have a drama actually not take that route and go with this sort of the B side, I guess, it’s not the typical alpha – I’m watching Steins;Gate which you don’t get right now, sorry.
Anisa: Yeah, I don’t understand, I know what you’re saying though.
Saya: There’s the main course of events and then there’s the one where you change something and it becomes the beta world, so the whole going the route of following the romance with Park Bo-gum is like the beta route of the romance, and I enjoy seeing that as a drama choice, because it is quite atypical. Isn’t it fun how you get these stories that are exploring the more unusual side of relationships more and more now – we’ve exhausted all of the old types.
Anisa: I love it. I really love the kind of stories that we’ve been getting in the last – actually callback to my paper – sorry for being a nerd! But when I was going through the data and looking at what has come out and when, it seems like Answer Me 1997 was a catalyst for a whole bunch of things, because Answer Me 1997 was TVN’s first hit, and after that they just kept making more hits, but it was like a really unlikable heroine, she’s a little bit obnoxious at first, she screams at her parents – she’s very unusual – and it had all of these female characters that were just allowed to be real people in a way that men are allowed to be real people, like act out and stuff and I was noticing that since then, all of these really interesting dramas had been written, so I feel like Answer Me 1997 actually started a movement.
Saya: Do you remember what year that was?
Anisa: That was 2012, sorry. And then, after that, that’s when cable really took off. So even like all the good JTBC dramas that came out after that – those are the two main cable tv stations that have really put out really good TV dramas. And it made broadcast networks also step up their game, because all of the good writers and actors were leaving to go to cable because they weren’t getting interesting enough stories, so I think that’s really cool.
Saya: Moving on to interesting stories, and midweek makjang – The Last Empress. This one’s fun. Are you up to date?
Paroma: I am, I think I am – I haven’t watched 27, 28, I have watched through 26, so yeah. But, yeah – I had one thing to say – we have already talked about how compelling the villains in this drama are, they were basically the reason I was watching for the first 5 (or 10) episodes, but the protagonists started becoming interesting. But what I don’t understand is how is Choi Jin-hyuk’s character Na Wang-sik – how is he being so diabolical when his previous incarnation all he’s ever done is shout at people and threaten them bodily, it just – he did not show this level of subtlety before. What is this master level spy game he’s playing after two months of… [laughs].
Anisa: There were a lot of things that happened during that time. Apparently.
Saya: He learned from oroshin [the elder].
Paroma: He learned from oroshin, but did oroshin lobotomize him – what did he do?
Saya: No – he like woke up his frontal cortex, he was lobotomized before…
Paroma: This is the same guy who technically burned down a barn to get his way and now he’s like – ooh I’ll be subtle, I’ll have game within game.
Saya: I have a problem with – like, this show is – the star of the show is definitely Shin Sung-rok – he is the central protagonist in every possible way, and Jang Na-ra’s game has stepped up and I love her right now – she’s great.
Anisa: I was going to ask – Last time you guys were like eh – not feeling it.
Saya: I took like – maybe it took about four episodes for her to get up to sort of, that level – but now she’s –
Paroma: She had to go through the wringer, and go through tragedies first, and now she’s like – okay, I’ll give up the optimism way of life and go to the revenge way of life, now.
Saya: The great thing is, she does it with – not even a smirk – she grins her way through it, and I love the way she treats him right now.
Paroma: Okay, just one tiny spoiler, because this will give you an idea of why we suddenly like Jang Na-ra – things happen in the palace, and she knows that her life is in danger – she could have run but she’s decided to come back – she’s the empress now, okay, and she’s come back to solve a mystery, and now the evil people all know what her intentions are and they are like, you know what, we won’t treat you like an empress, you have to take care of everything on your own and she’s like – that’s fine, I’m fine with that, so then we come into her room and she’s like drying her clothes after having washed them herself and they’re like – what are you doing? This is the palace! And she’s like – but you told me to take care of my own stuff.
Saya: My problem with it is that – like Choi Jin-hyuk’s character is really – apart from the stuff that he is supposedly doing, like emptying the safe and all of that – the cool stuff, he’s not really doing anything. He’s a bit of a non-character.
Paroma: Have you noticed that he’s becoming – here’s the thing, your hero, especially when he’s going against seriously evil people, has to retain a core of humanity. I’m not seeing that core of humanity in Choi Jin-hyuk’s character.
Saya: But he was really problematic to start with – the thing is, with a revenge drama, you have to root for the person taking the revenge, otherwise it’s all kind of like, they are just doing terrible things for no good reason.
Anisa: Yeah, even if you do root for them, the revenge drama is kind of inherently problematic – it’s a revenge drama. But if you don’t agree with or even feel for the main character, then it’s kind of a rough road to hoe.
Saya: He doesn’t have a lot of screen time and when he’s on screen – and you know Choi Jin-hyuk is a good actor, and for example in Tunnel he was great – that’s one of my favorite characters of Choi Jin-hyuk. I like him as an actor, so to see him sort of be a bit of a cipher in this is not what I expect, and it doesn’t make it that rewarding in that sense. So you’re basically rooting for Jang Na-ra’s character and you want to see what Paeha [the king] is going to get up to next. Like, in a strange way, he’s not exactly rootable – he’s a terrible person, but he’s also kind of broken and in that way you can feel a kind of sympathy for him in how he became the way he is, and I do expect – I don’t know if they are going to go the route of redeeming him, I’m worried that they will, but I do expect that he will be totally punished by the end of the show and that he himself will be remorseful in some way, like I think that will happen, because they are building him up to that – but as for Choi Jin-hyuk’s character, I just don’t see where they’re going with him – there’s no clear sort of trajectory, he’s just sort of pulling – we’re informed that he’s pulling strings, we don’t even really see behind that mask of his, so I’m loving the drama but I’m not loving him in it.
Paroma: So, I agree – right now Jang Na-ra is the one I’m watching this drama for – I really like the evil glint in her eyes, that’s what I’m rooting for. The problem – the thing that I’m worried is – it is exactly half-way through now, and the good guys have the upper hand so that can’t possibly last, and yet the bad guys have already suffered quite a few blows, so now I’m wondering if the evil guys get the upper hand…what – so it’s pretty gripping, overall –
Saya: So, I’m feeling the possibility of sort of, makjang fatigue setting in, like I want them to move on –
Paroma: Already, it feels like it’s sort of crescendoed; like it could end in a couple of more episodes.
Saya: And like, it should but it won’t, so that’s what – yeah – I’m hoping it doesn’t sort of get tiring.
Anisa: Memories of the Alhambra – you guys are both watching this, right? Are you up do date?
Saya: I’m up to date – are you, P?
Paroma: I am too, yeah, episode 10 – watched it.
Anisa: How do you like it?
Paroma: I don’t know what to say about this drama. I’m loving it – it’s everything I wanted from a drama that deals with alternate realities within our reality and also has a sort of a spy contour to it, and there’s a murder mystery and then there are rules in this gaming world that sort of crosses with our own reality and they have been very meticulous about building up the gaming world, so I’m overall loving everything, yeah.
Saya: It ups its game every single episode.
Paroma: Yes. Just when you think that…they are going to drop it now…them going to Seoul was when I thought they were going to slacken a bit – it did not – then I thought – they are moving to Grenada again and now the pace is going to slacken, it did not – it just got…
Saya: Anisa, you need to watch this because I really want to talk about this.
Anisa: Yeah, I wanted to start it this week, but it’s been so busy. I thought I was going to rest during my break, but that didn’t happen.
Saya: I basically – the end of episode 9 I was just like screaming because something happened that I was just like – No!
Paroma: Yeah, me too.
Saya: And then by episode 10, what happens at the end of that – your just like – just dashed to the rocks…like broken and you are like oh man…but I think what Paroma was about to say is that it does have one problem which is that – the Hyun Bin storyline is amazing, but then you have Park Shin-hye who is…she’s not even a potted plant, she’s just furniture. You could have used any actress. Park Shin-hye’s a decent actress – she could do more.
Paroma: Exactly, and her furniture status was exemplified in episode 9 when she was about to go to Grenada in search of her brother, and Hyun Bin pulls this entire thing that you know that, even if you go there you wouldn’t be able to find him – I’m the only one capable of finding him because of – because he’s in a certain level of the game, anyway that’s a whole thing – but he’s right, it’s correct, however – it’s her brother, man! Just – that story could have been written differently is what I’m saying. Just because she’s a girl or she plays the guitar, she can only be a muse and not one of the fighters – have you noticed that not a single female there plays the game – it’s all men?
Saya: It’s a male dominated industry, right? So…
Paroma: There are also a lot of female gamers…in the software development sector especially, the gaming sector – the people creating the games – there are definitely women in there, so these kids like – I mean, I do not get that.
Anisa: Sexism is a huge problem that gaming really needs to deal with…so they could have done something really great.
Saya: Do you think that, in Korea, that Gamergate was a thing, the way it is sort of in the English speaking world?
Anisa: It’s hard to know because on one hand…people here in the US like watch Starcraft tournaments – like people who have no other interest in Korea – like my brother used to watch Starcraft tournaments, and he has no other interest in Korea, but he’d watch Starcraft tournaments – so, like, it’s a thing. So there’s definitely some kind of connection between the gaming world so I don’t know whether or not they know about, say, Gamergate, or if they care…
Paroma: I’m not really talking about Gamergate, though – again, this is a drama written by a woman and just like her previous work, she could have given the heroine more to do and she did in her previous work, it just – I don’t know why here they decided that –
Saya: I’m not sure I agree with that, you know I was just going to actually just say that this is Song Jae-jung who historically – she writes really amazing, sort of speculative stories, but her female characters are not that strong.
Paroma: Do you remember…Nine is definitely a drama where the female character was pretty much – she might not have existed…
Saya: But the male characters always get the better story, whereas the female characters always get just a bit of romance and it was the same in W, because W evolved into – the reason that it sort of went down the drain was because the story went all on the romance and dropped the ball on the whole…and it’s like that is pretty much a characteristic of this writer’s writing and it’s like it is the flaw to her brilliance.
Paroma: But she’s also the one who wrote Faith – the Good Doctor.
Saya: That’s true, but that was a while ago, that’s one of her –
Anisa: No, no, no, she didn’t! She didn’t.
Saya: Yeah that was Song Jin-ah. Song Jae-jung is Queen In-Hyun’s Man, Nine, W, Coffee House, and now this, so this is characteristic of the way she writes her heroines. But this is particularly egregious, I feel – it’s the worst of her heroines so far.
Paroma: I completely agree. Why do they even have this character Jung Hee-joo – she isn’t even getting the romance!
Saya: She doesn’t have any purpose in the story and I find that really frustrating, she could just not be there and this is a totally absolutely compelling – it’s like she is there to fulfill a heroine role…
Paroma: She’s also there to be a muse. There is a character that is inside the game that looks like her, has her voice, can play a guitar as she can in real life – that character is made more compelling than the real Jung Hee-joo.
Saya: Do you know I found that part really a bit unpleasant.
Paroma: I did too! But that’s just telling, isn’t it?
Saya: But maybe it’s a comment on the creepiness…
Paroma: I thought it was particularly horrid when they had that situation where – so she’s an NPC, a non-playing character – so one of the developers working on the game after Hyun Bin’s bought it – he dresses her in different dresses – and Hyun Bin’s like delete that – delete that character. But that’s because he knows her in the real world, the developer doesn’t, so if the developer goes on to do this with other NPC’s that’s fine – right? – but in this particular alternate reality, the women there aren’t just two dimensional animations, they are real, real – they look like humans, and you are changing their dresses with a flick of a finger – it’s just –
Saya: And making them say things to you.
Paroma: Exactly! Ughhh.
Saya: It’s that whole, you know, robot/human thing.
Paroma: As humanity, we are still processing what we would do with AI on that level, what are the boundaries we should keep and what is okay to cross. We still are processing that – you have this visual in front of you where there is a human woman, you know her character outside the game, and you have her character inside the game where her clothes are being changed, I’m just – yeah, it was very disturbing to me.
Saya: One more thing, we really have to move on, but I just wanted to quickly say – about Hyun Bin in this show and I have to say – I’ve never been particularly impressed with him in the past, and I didn’t really ever like his characters, but he is killing this one. What you see here – Anisa – he’s this wealthy CEO who is like probably a genius, I don’t know – anyway he’s very intelligent, but he discovers this game and he gets really excited about it and he starts playing it and then things go a bit wonky and you can witness his descent into madness…but what is incredible about him is how self-aware he is about it. Like – he’s like I’m mad and I know that I’m mad, but madness has its rules and therefore….and it’s such a nuanced and detailed performance that I’m actually blown away by the way he’s doing this character – it’s amazing.
Paroma: So am I. His character is written so well – actually most of the characters in this drama are written very well – especially the characters around Hyun Bin – his hyung – the guy who is I think the chairman of the company, and then the ahjussi who is the professor who was the dad in W – I think it’s Kim Ui-seong, and he is just – he does creepy characters really well
Saya: Apart from Park Shin-hye everything about the drama is really great. But because of that aspect of it, it kind of detracts from my ability to sort of just go all in on the drama.
Anisa: Totally understandable.
Saya: Ok, moving onto the next…which is called Just Dance which is also called Dance Sports Girls, except I don’t think anyone is calling it that but that’s its original title – this is the drama with Park Sewan and Jang Dong-yoon who were both in School 2017, actually. It is a short drama, it’s actually finished airing, it’s 8 episodes – 16 half hour episodes… so, this is the one which is based upon a real story, which I actually should have studied up on before I started talking about it. It’s set on Geoje island, which is a shipbuilding island, so its in the high school there and it’s a vocational high school where people go on to do shipbuilding, or something like that.
So in there you have Park Sewan’s character who wants to be a film director and she wants to go to Seoul. So, it’s quite – you know the way anything involving industry is – it’s quite almost Dickensian in the way it looks – it’s grim, it’s kind of dark. Actually I had a hard time getting into it because Park Sewan’s character is really – in the first moments it’s really funny because it opens on a scene of her lying in bed covered in her duvet head to toe and lying next to her is a suicide note – and she’s just lying in bed like that, but she’s actually alive – it’s like some sort of protest. It’s really funny, but I always find it difficult when characters are really horrible to their parents and she is really bad with her mum, but then I read some comments later where people were saying that it actually gets really good, so I thought I would give it another shot so I’m going to keep watching it.
I’ve gotten to the point where – see I don’t really like Park Sewan’s character and I don’t know if you can watch a drama where you don’t root for the main character. She’s kind of, a bit, she’s sly with a smile – she goes around behind people’s backs – she will try to get people to do something and she’ll go to one friend and she’ll say, oh, well, you know that another mutual friend says she doesn’t really want to do something with you and she doesn’t like you that much. She does that – she plays people against each other in that way and she is really rude to another girl in the class who is kind of a mysterious figure who doesn’t – who is kind of a bad girl type. She just, she makes assumptions about everyone, she’s rude about everyone – I really don’t like her. So, I guess we’ll see how it goes – it’s only 8 episodes – you know 8 hours. Because I really like Jang Dong-yoon as an actor, I think I’ve watched nearly everything that he’s nearly done apart from Mr. Sunshine. Let’s see where it goes.
Anisa: Okay, yeah.
Paroma: Okay, A, do you want to talk about Top Star Yoo Baek – you’re still watching this one, right?
Anisa: Yes. I didn’t get to watch Friday’s episode yet, because it just came out yesterday and I haven’t had a chance to watch it, but I’m up to 7
Saya: Quick question before you start, it’s about Yoo Baek – it hasn’t been officially picked up by anyone for subbing – so is it, like, being fansubbed?
Anisa: There’s an Indonesian sub that’s being translated into English, but it’s pretty weak – I’m just watching it raw to be honest – yeah, because I find inaccurate subs to be more annoying than figuring it out myself – the only thing that’s like really challenging about this is that they are using this really thick saturi that is specific to this island – I’ve sort of got it from the subtitled episodes that I watched in the beginning – I don’t always get it 100% but I feel like, even – there’s a lot of like humorous scenes with the halmonis [grandmothers] in the village and stuff and they are the ones that use that kind of tone, that saturi the most. But even, the situational – and like I understand enough where I can get what’s going on, even if I don’t get every single word, because so much of it is about – oh and then there was a Beanie – her name is – let me see if I get this right – I think it’s PakalanaPikake, hopefully I’m pronouncing that right?
Saya: That’s how I pronounce it.
Anisa: That’s how I pronounce it in my head, so hopefully – I’m not sure if she’s listening – but she was talking about how there’s this word that everybody uses on the island called “goshigi” and a lot of time they just translate it as thingie, but it’s like, whenever there is something they want to refer to they just use goshigi, and that’s one of the things that Yoo Baek comes and he’s like – what are you talking about?
Paroma: Yeah, what thingie? What is it?
Anisa: You know the thing and you come to the thing.. – so, she posted this really interesting Youtube video about how, in Hawaii they have this expression and it’s “da kine,” it’s kind of used as a placeholder in a conversation where everybody knows what you’re talking about so you don’t have to actually say what it is – you just say “da kine.” So she was saying that it really reminds her of how that is used, I think she’s from Hawaii – so that was really interesting. That was some of my linguistic, nerdy stuff coming out. Anyway –
Paroma: Do you have the link to that? We’ll just put that in the description, just in case anybody else is interested.
Anisa: She posted it on her fan wall, I’ll find it and I’ll share it. Yeah, so it’s still really fun and cute – it’s just – it’s not like super deep but I think what makes it so much of a – it’s like the only one that I go and watch right away when it airs, and I think it’s because it really balances that light humorous, funny tone and kind of like this silly humor which doesn’t usually work for me, but in this – there’s not a lot of toilet humor and it’s very good-natured. It really balances out with the emotional sincerity and the actors are really selling those emotional moments, so it has a kind of a – more of an impact emotionally than the normal kind of slapstick – you know – those kinds of dramas that don’t really go too deep.
Paroma: Yeah, I remember – before – I haven’t been able to watch any in the last couple of weeks, but it didn’t make you work to watch it, it was very easy in that way
Anisa: It’s very easy to watch but then you get these moments when you’re like – ahh, I felt that in my heart! But there’s no like super-deep angst – his angst is that he really likes her and his lifestyle is completely in opposition to the kind of life that she wants to live with her grandma – so it’s not like a super-deep conflict, but like, you are really feeling it. He’s like dying inside, but it’s also like he’s really immature as an idol – it’s killing him, because finally he likes this girl and she just like couldn’t care less – she’s rejected him basically and he’s like – how could she reject me? His character is just so funny – Kim Ji-seok is really doing a good job so, I’m still enjoying it. The Oppa figure played by Lee Sang-yeob is very cute, but he’s also doing that annoying thing of like…he has so many opportunities to show his real feelings but he just like teases her and tells her that she’s ugly, and yes I know that you grew up pretty much as siblings but at a certain point, when he’s like got the ring in his pocket that he wants to propose to her with, and he’s still doing that – it starts to wear thin.
Saya: Can I just say something here? It annoys me so much when a character just has a ring with nothing before or after – start at the beginning, you can’t just have a ring. That’s like –
Paroma: Go on a first date first.
Saya: Tell her how you feel! Tell her you like her! What is this ring? It comes up – it’s a second thing lead to do, isn’t it?
Anisa: Yeah, but on the one hand he has this ring and it’s like – that’s his future life hope and he’s been working toward it for many years…and there is no explanation for why he’s waited this long – they’ve been adults for a while, but he’s just holding on to this ring. But then on the other hand, he just can’t even bring himself to say “I think you’re pretty” – and he can’t even – like any time that kind of moment comes up he just turns it into a joke about how ugly she is, so of course she’s going to think of you as your real brother, you know? And at one point she’s like, I just think of you as a real brother, and he’s like ahhh, well that’s the end for me. [laughter]
Paroma: At one point, though, Yoo Baek does bring it up, I think he accuses him of – the Oppa figure of like, sailing off on his own, I’ll explore my own youth and adventure type of thing – he’s the captain of a ship, right – basically saying that he took her for granted, that she’d just wait for him – that he’ll just go have his adventures and she’ll come back when he’s ready to settle down and confess his feelings – I think that’s what – at least that’s how it looked to me, that was exactly the reason why he didn’t say anything to her, he was comfortable in his dynamic with her.
Anisa: And he does take her for granted, and I think the show is kind of pointing out that he was wrong to do that and there has been some movement on that front in the last episode that I watched, I don’t want to spoil it – I was just kind of losing my patience in the middle with that – but other than that it’s been an enjoyable experience. And one of the best things about Yoo Baek as a hero is how completely honest he is about everything – even when it’s an unpleasant truth that’s going to make him look bad, he is still very honest about it. So even though he can be like narcissistic and full of himself, he’s just like very honest and once he decides he likes her he’s just like, all in. Oh, and there’s this little kid on the island – he’s the only kid on the island – their relationship is so cute. It’s like with him and the little kid – It’s like the best – and he calls him “Top Star Ahjussi” – but anyway I’m still watching it, I’m still enjoying it and it’s getting subbed – it’s just getting subbed slowly.
Saya: Is it fansubbed or official subbed?
Anisa: Fan subs. It’s translated into Indonesian, but you would definitely be able to –
Paroma: In defense of the fansubs though – I know that they’re not as good as official subs would be, but I’m getting the essence of what’s happening – I’m way behind but –
Saya: Usually I find fansubs better, it’s just when they are translated from another language…
Paroma: It’s not too bad, because I know just enough of the language that I can bridge – if they say something that I know doesn’t mean that – I still understand – I can’t watch it raw, but it’s like in assistive mode – it helps just enough.
Anisa: I want to say that – I’m not saying that I don’t appreciate the fansubs it’s just that like – I want to watch it on Friday when it comes out – because I just know that it’s going to take a few days – I appreciate the fact that somebody is taking their time…
Saya: In case that came out wrong, also, absolutely like I am a huge fan of fansubs. I think that they often produce the best work, it’s just that sometimes they don’t have as many resources because of the time thing – and it’s basically as Anisa says – we’re impatient – it’s like – if it has been picked up officially, you can watch it right away, whereas, if you’ve got a group of volunteers working on it, that’s them taking time out of their schedule to do something for basically no reward except the enjoyment of doing it.
Anisa: Also, they don’t always get love and appreciation.
Saya: Yeah, and because it’s such hard work – building up subs from scratch, that’s a lot of hard work. So, we love you fansubbers – you are actually the best.
Paroma: Okay, so – ooh – you picked up My Ajusshi.
Anisa: I only watched one episode although it’s like 90 minutes, so it’s like a movie. I was unsure whether to mention it but then I was just like I will say that I’ve started it and watched the first episode – it’s pretty brutal, it’s pretty depressing, but whoever I talked to said that it gets better – it gets less dragging your soul out through your belly button, so that will be good. It does give me a Misaeng vibe and it’s the Misaeng director, so – Misaeng also had a really depressing first couple of episodes and then it slowly kind of built to this crescendo of feeling and hope and kind of like – all of these like extremely emotional feelings even though they’re kind of contained if you know what I mean. It wasn’t a super dramatic show, but it was very intense for me at least. They did that very well – this kind of restrained but powerful emotion – so I’m getting a very similar vibe from this show – Lee Seon-kyun’s character is kind of a doormat that gets taken advantage of everyone which is interesting, and IU starts off being pretty – she’s not great – she’s not a great person, but I think it’s an interesting dynamic for sure. I’m definitely going to keep watching. My sister has said that she doesn’t want to watch it anymore. She doesn’t like things that are that depressing and realistic.
Saya: But isn’t the point that they get better?
Anisa: Yeah, but she watched some of Misaeng too and she’s like – it’s just not her thing.
Paroma: Yeah, but sometimes you have to be at certain stages of your life where it just works better…initially when I started Misaeng I was not in a state of mind where would want to watch it – but then two years later when I watched it it just hit all the right notes.
Anisa: I think what she was saying is that she doesn’t like it when you can kind of – you know how like in this kind of show where it has a slightly measured, slower pace, you can kind of see bad things coming at a greater distance than in a show where it’s really exciting and everything is happening really fast and things just happen – so then if bad things happen, you don’t have this sense of like dread leading up to it, but I think in this show you can like see that something bad is going to happen to the main character and you are just kind of like waiting for the ax to fall.
Saya: When I have that much dread I can’t carry on watching.
Anisa: Yeah, so that’s what she was saying. So, yeah. There were some moments in Misaeng like that too – where you just like – you just see that it’s not going to end well for this – whoever it is, but you just have to keep watching in like very intense detail.
Saya: I didn’t realize that this is from the same writer as Oh Hae-young Again.
Anisa: It is. I don’t know what IU’s arc is going to be – I know that she has an arc from the reviews that I’ve read, but Oh Hae-young was pretty unlikable and I know that – I mean I enjoyed watching her for the whole thing, but I know there were some people who couldn’t stand her and stopped watching, so maybe her thing is to write this very interesting kind of – not-easy-to-deal-with type of heroines.
Saya: Which actually, done well, is pretty amazing.
Anisa: Yeah, I like Oh Hyun, even though I didn’t actually like her all of the time, but I thought she was a really interesting character, personally.
Anisa: Yeah, I don’t think I could binge it, because it is a pretty like – every episode is so long, etc. but I’ll keep you updated.
Saya: Are all of the episodes 90 minutes?
Anisa: I sure hope not. [laughter] I will get back to you on that too. Okay, you want to do Red Moon, Blue Sun?
Saya: Oh, Red Moon, Blue Sun. I kind of don’t really know what to say – except I think I’ve figured out who the murderer is. This show – it’s so good. I think it’s deeply underrated. And at the beginning you kind of couldn’t tell what genre it was exactly, so – and I couldn’t either – because I remember like the first two episodes I was watching it and I was very confused – I was really into it but I had no idea what it wanted to be, and of course it’s settled into where it’s going and it’s come together very well. So, what you’ve got is – what have I told you so far?
Anisa: You told us the basic set up – like what all the characters are doing and the whole thing with the disappearing, dying kids and how she loses her child and all of that – remember – in the last Yak.
Saya: Ok, so it develops…and now they are getting – every episode they get some new clues about who this mysterious killer is and his/her code name is Red Cry and where the story is going now is that they are trying to discover who is Red Cry – the person who is “rescuing” kids from abusive situations, but are they – is it really rescue? Something just happened in one of the recent episodes about one or two weeks ago where one of the abusive parents was forced to commit suicide for the sake of the daughter that she abused, but then the daughter actually witnessed that happening. So at one point you’re asking, on one level you have the characters who, at first, they see Red Cry as this heinous, irredeemable murderer, and then they all reach the point – Kim Sun-ah’s character starts off at this point but Lee Yi-Kyung’s character starts at the point where his character is like – murder is murder, but after about 6-8 episodes he’s reached the point where he’s like why doesn’t Red Cry finish this bad parent off – as in he wants the “justice” of someone that the law can’t catch or punish to be done away with. Emotionally he’s there, and it’s such an interesting sort of psychological process/journey that you watch his character take, especially.
Remember I said how ambiguous it was and how unreliable I said how everyone was as a narrator and particularly Kim Sun-ah’s character, they really play on that so you are always sort of off balance about, you know, how sound of mind is she? Is it possible that she might be doing something without knowing it – and then now it’s introduced this whole new dimension of – do you remember the girl in the green dress…she’s on a mission to find out who that is and it’s uncovering a whole new dimension of her own personal history and, but it’s playing the mystery of it really well – you can make all the guesses in the world that you like about who the girl in the green dress is – is it her, is it someone else, is it what happened to her as kid – why does she have no memories from a certain point? And there’s so much going on in a way that adds to the mystery of what’s going on – it’s really well done. I’m not describing this really well, but it’s a really great drama – I think that both of you would really find this a very good piece of TV – I don’t want to say that you would enjoy it, because you won’t enjoy it…
Anisa: On one hand I appreciate that we have you to tell us about this, when maybe we wouldn’t watch, but then I feel like you are already covering it so well for the podcast that I don’t need to watch it.
Saya: Because I’m not even covering the 1% of how intriguing and thrilling and dark and mysterious the whole thing is. I think it’s really underrated, it’s really a well done show.
Anisa: It hasn’t been getting as much praise as, say, Memories of the Alhambra.
Saya: Yeah, those are sort of like big-budget dramas, whereas this one is in a way it’s more niche I guess, it’s not a romance in any way either – so there’s no romance in it.
Anisa: How far away is it from being done?
Saya: It’s at episode 25-26 which would be 13 by the normal count this week, so you’ve got one and a half weeks left on it, because it one of the weeks got preempted so the episode count is off, but it’s really – it’s coming together and I’m pretty sure that – last week I was like oh my god, I know who Red Cry is – but apparently this week lots of stuff has happened – big stuff, but I haven’t watched them yet, so I’m a bit scared. It’s good. But, Paroma, definitely, this is your type of show.
Paroma: I am probably going to pick it up because that’s one of my New Year’s resolutions – I’m going to watch stuff that’s not just purely romance – laughs. It’s because of The Smile Has Left Your Eyes. I was so happy watching that drama, even though it’s not exactly my normal fare, that I was like – you are just not watching so many good things that are on air.
Anisa: I haven’t even finished The Smile Has Left Your Eyes, I’m going to go back to school and go back to watching one drama a month and you guys are going to be like, watching all the things…
Paroma: Which reminds me, I took up Saya’s recommendation to watch Timeless and I’m halfway through the first season, I really like it – I really like the stories that they have – it’s episode – they go on a new adventure every day and also the overarching story, but the theme has just started to get interesting, their dynamics initially weren’t that compelling – especially the Wyatt character was just kind of like meh, he could have been replaced by any blue-eyed dude, just any blonde white guy.
Saya: I briefly regretted calling him the token white guy in the year-end podcast, and now I feel validated by what you say.
Paroma: There was an episode I think halfway through where they were like – the agency – there is a higher government body and they were like wait you know what – we’re going to fire you because we don’t think you are doing what you are supposed to do in this time-travel thing, and he’s like – yeah well the guy who’s going to replace me is pretty cool too, and I actually started looking forward to the replacement – the next guy is going to be more compelling, but he doesn’t get replaced after all, so.
Saya: I don’t want to spoil you by saying anything right now, so I’ll wait until you finish season 2.
Paroma: Ok, and one other thing that I found interesting – or rather that this episode brought to my mind – you know when we were complaining about/comparing Western dramas to Korean ones and the Chinese ones that we watch and what we find so dramatically different about them? I realize that watching – I’ve been watching American and also British but mostly American dramas since I was a kid. I have become programmed to start expecting – whenever a man and a woman, a young man and woman especially, have an emotional moment – a really charged emotional moment, I start expecting them to kiss and subconsciously I’m saying don’t do it, don’t do it – you’re going to ruin the moment – don’t kiss and in most cases, they kiss and I’m like damn, why? Aside from some back and forth, I saw no chemistry between the two of you but because you are the only young man and woman in this space you had to – what is wrong with you people? And they had that emotionally charged conversation – Wyatt and Lucy – and I was like wait, this is the moment, and in my head I started that chant – don’t kiss, don’t kiss and they don’t kiss and I was so happy! So yeah. Totally random revelation I just had.
Saya: And basically, you know the shows I end up loving sort of English language ones, they tend to be a lot like a K-drama.
Saya: And also, one other thing, just before we move on from this unintended segue, is that one of the things I really loved as I was reading about this afterwards is the show runners were saying that the Lucy character, they wrote her to be – they wrote her so that her superpower was her brain, and I just loved that. And they are careful about the way they present her so that she’s not like – she’s not presented as a –
Paroma: “…strong female character?”
Saya: Yeah, but also in a sexual way – they want to give you a character who doesn’t use wiles or anything – her brain is her superpower. And it’s not just Lucy, as you get on in the show you’ll see that the other female characters are written in such a complex and full way.
Anisa: And then you have things like Dr. Who, which, I know that people love that show but that’s one of the things that people kind of complain about, I mean up until now – obviously the Doctor is a woman now, but it’s been something that historically people have complained about with the other Doctors, that the female characters always get kind of shafted.
Saya: Yeah, I read about that. Fun fact, the last companion of the previous doctor, she went to school with my sister – they were in the same class together, and my sister would be like oh my God – did you see this? And she knew that she got into acting a while back but that was a huge role for her. Yeah, it was so cool, that’s her little claim to fame.
Anisa: Should I talk about Men on a Mission? It’s variety. So, Men on a Mission – the original title is Aneun Hyungnim which means Knowing Brothers, it’s this variety show that started out with rock bottom ratings on JTBC and now it’s like one of the most popular ones, and it’s just like a bunch of dudes in a classroom and they have this concept where they’re all wearing high school uniforms and every week they get transfer students – has either of you watched this? So they get “transfer students” – but they basically are the guests for the week and they come and they say we are transferring from such and such high school, and it’s always like a pun on whatever drama they’re promoting; and sometimes they have girl groups and sometimes they have boy groups and sometimes they have actors and sometimes they have comedians, but the main hook of the show is that because they’re all pretending to be classmates, everybody talks in banmal [informal speech]. So it doesn’t matter if you are a sunbae of thirty years, you still have to call them by their first name – but I think that’s where most of the humor comes from, because especially with the guests, but the regulars – the regulars are like Kang Ho-dong and a bunch of common variety people, like Heechul from Super Junior, who is like, hilarious – they have a good dynamic, they’re funny and they’re very experienced veterans of variety so they know how to make things funny and stuff, but then the guests who come on are like, uhhh is it really ok for me to talk to you like this?
So that makes it funny – I think it really depends on the guests, whenever they have a girl group on, because they’re mostly men in their 40’s and the girl groups are in their late teens and early 20’s, it always gets a little gross, because they are like show us your dances, and then they get all excited – it’s just like ughhh – we’ve all seen it on variety shows, it’s this gross dynamic between older men and young idol girls, so those tend not to be as enjoyable for me. They always do like a skit at the end which sometimes is really funny and other times it’s just dumb; but they always ask questions and they have to guess the answer, and that’s always really funny, so they’ll be like this certain thing happened, and this person said this to me and it’s like really funny, it’s like what did they say and everyone comes up with really creative funny answers until until they guess the right answer. Anyway, so I had watched a bunch of it a couple of years ago – three years ago – it’s on Netflix, so I’ve been binge-watching that – it’s really relaxing and funny, I’ve just been enjoying it.
Saya: Yeah, speaking of variety shows. I actually don’t usually watch variety at all, but –
Anisa: I like variety when I’m stressed, because when I’m stressed I can’t even handle dramas, dramas make me feel more stressed, because you have to follow the story –
Saya: Dramas are more stressful.
Anisa: This is very light.
Saya: But they’re so long, they’re like 90 minutes!
Anisa: You can watch one episode. You don’t have to watch all of them. So I’ll just skip the ones that don’t look interesting to me and watch the ones I like. Anyway, I didn’t mean to cut you off –
Saya: Oh, no, that’s ok, I was just going to say that I – the timing is interesting because I just picked up, what’s it called – Youth Over Flowers: Iceland, and like I’ve watched it in snippets over the years, but I think they haven’t been fully subbed until quite recently, so Youth Over Flowers: Iceland has finally been fully subbed. That’s the one where it’s Jung Sang-hoon, Jung Woo, Jo Jung-suk and Kang Ha-neul and they go to Iceland and they’re hilarious, they’re so dumb, but so funny. So this is the one where three of them go on ahead and Kang Ha-neul gets picked up from an awards ceremony, and he gets whisked away still in his tux and dress shoes, so it has them trying to figure out budgeting and, of course, language is always an issue when they go abroad because none of them seem to have that much English – I think maybe…no, none of them did. So they have the apps on their phones, trying to translate what they want to say into English, except not everyone speaks English, and then you have Jung Woo who is hilarious – they find this indoor market and they need to buy shoes so of course the first thing they do, they have the one word they know in English, which is discount.
I had to yell at my sister to come from the other room to see this part only, and watch it because I have a shop so, it’s a thing when customers – they can’t speak the language, but they know that one word and you’re like, please don’t – and then you watch them haggling, and it’s just – it’s so bad and good at the same time, because also – from a business owner perspective, you see how it is all working where they think that they’ve got a really good deal, but you know they haven’t – they just got 5 euros off, they are making exactly as much as they wanted to make, probably a bit more – but you are so pleased with yourself, okay, everyone’s happy.
Anisa: I think the thing that these shows really live and die on is chemistry between the cast, which is why they can be really uneven.
Saya: What’s really great about this one is the evident love that the four of them have between them, it makes it so worth watching
Anisa: Yeah, and it’s really the relationships, like that’s the thing I found with 1 Night and 2 Days Season 3 – the relationship between the cast, watching them develop from when they were all strangers and you could tell that they didn’t really like each other until now when they’ve become like a second family almost, it’s really – I mean I stopped watching it after Kim Joo-hyuk passed away because I just – I needed a break. But I think that’s what it is – you just get to know these people, and you just enjoy watching them bounce off of each other and the relationships, and it doesn’t always last – I think Running Man ran out of steam at a certain point, because they had done everything that they could do and now they are just like repeating lines, but when that really clicks and it really works, it can be just really great in a way that – it’s kind of – it’s something that you can’t plan for, but if you get lucky and everything kind of works together, and then you have a really good editor working on putting everything together then it can be gold.
Okay, here we go. Upcoming dramas for January. So, the first one – and as usual, these are sorted by date, so we’ll talk about the earliest first. The first one is The Crowned Clown. January 7th – that’s airing on tvN. It’s the one that’s got Yeo Jin-goo in two roles so he’s playing a king and also a clown.
Paroma: I watched that meme – it’s not a meme exactly, that tiny video on Twitter with the king is teaching him how to say How Dare You – but in a regal way, and he just can’t manage it –
Saya: Oh, I haven’t seen this, send it to me.
Paroma: You are going to love it, it totally sold the drama for me, nothing else could have – because he’s trying to be regal and going How Dare You, but every time they’re like – that’s not how you say it – say it again.
Anisa: Yeah, because there’s a particular way that the king is supposed to talk, right?
Paroma: Yeah, and he’s going hoarse trying to get it right. It’s hilarious.
Anisa: So the reason that he’s bringing in this clown is because he’s worried about being assassinated, because there’s a lot of like upheaval in the country, and so I think that the protagonist is actually, well at least from the summary it seems that the protagonist is actually the clown, so we’ll see. And he falls in love with the queen.
Paroma: It makes more sense.
Anisa: Right. And the queen is played by Lee Se-young.
Paroma: Who is Lee Se-young?
Anisa: She was in School 2013 – oh that’s Park Se-young. Oh, right I don’t know Lee Se-young. She was in Hwayugi and The Best Hit. Oh yeah.
Saya: I don’t know who this is.
Paroma: Oh, I loved her in Hwayugi, she was really good. She played a zombie.
Saya: Oh, the zombie that everyone loves?
Paroma: Yeah. She was really good.
Anisa: On the other hand, my feelings about her are so clouded by how angry The Best Hit made me at the end, so I feel like she…so maybe she’s gotten better.
Paroma: She’s a very good actress, yeah.
Anisa: Okay, so she plays the queen, and there’s going to be some love triangle with yourself going on, yeah I mean, we all love Yeo Jin-goo, right? And he’s going to get a chance to stretch his acting chops, which he has plenty of.
Saya: Has he done romance yet?
Anisa: he did that Vampire Marmalade something…
Saya: That wasn’t that all that – I got a couple of episodes in and then I dropped it because it was boring
Anisa: I heard it wasn’t good, yeah. He also did a daily – I think it was a daily – and he had a love line with Park Ha-sun, but he was like 17 and he was playing 24 –
Saya: Not Park Ha-sun?
Anisa: Not Park Ha-sun, sorry, Ha Yeon-soo. Sorry – wrong H person. That was a little weird to me, like it sounded weird, but I heard that he did a really good job in that, I don’t generally watch the daily dramas. So the next thing that’s coming up is Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho 2 – which is basically the second season, if everyone’s familiar with the premise, he’s like –
Saya: Did either of you guys watch the first one?
Anisa: I did not, did you?
Paroma: I didn’t.
Anisa: So, the thing that interests me about this – the female lead in Neighborhood Lawyer 1 was Kang Sora, and in this one it’s Go Hyun-Jung, who is like on a totally different level. I don’t know, I guess – I think the first season had really good ratings maybe – it’s also being developed for an American TV show – they’re making a Neighborhood Lawyer, yeah, and it’s going to be – it’s being produced by Daniel Dae Kim, which is very interesting.
Saya: That’s cool. I would expect him to definitely respect the source material more.
Anisa: Yeah, so that should be interesting. The next one we have is – literally the title is What’s Wrong Poong-sang, but the official English title is Liver or Die, so.
Saya: Which we don’t understand – why liver? What does that mean?
Paroma: I don’t think they mean the organ – it’s someone who lives –
Saya: Wouldn’t it be Liver or Dier?
Anisa: Or just Live or Die – why do you need that extra R… I don’t know. Yeah, it’s airing on January 9th – premiering on January 9th on KBS – it stars Yoo Jun-sang, Oh Ji-ho and Jeon Hye-bin, so a decent cast. She’s really good – she’s actually my favorite out of those three. So Yoo Jun-sang plays Poong-sang, the hero, he took care of his four younger siblings and supported them, because their parents were like kind of not in the picture, or not supportive, and then Oh Ji-ho plays his younger brother and Jeon Hye-bin plays his younger sister, and then Lee Si-young plays their next oldest sister, and then the baby is played by Lee Chang-yeop which I don’t recognize that name.
Paroma: Is this a weekend drama?
Anisa: That’s what I thought – from the description, right?
Paroma: Yeah, it sounds a lot like Father is Strange, or –
Anisa: Right, but it’s actually a Wednesday/Thursday, and it’s airing in the same time slot as Feels Good to Die, so that was weird to me, I thought it was definitely a family drama from the description.
Saya: Maybe it is a family drama in a prime time slot, for some reason.
Anisa: I mean, I wonder if that will work though, because they have five siblings to take care of, five plot lines – how would they manage that in like 20 episodes/
Saya: How long is this?
Anisa: KBS, where’s KBS – 32.
Saya: 16 then.
Anisa: Yeah, because they’re ½ hour episodes – so it’s regular sized for a miniseries weekday drama, so I’m not sure –
Saya: I mean this is a change of pace for the writers as well, isn’t it – because the writer’s previous dramas are all family weekend dramas.
Anisa: Yeah, she did Wang’s Family which I watched some of that, and then I couldn’t take the crazy anymore, so we’ll see. Wang’s Family was a huge hit though, so it’s interesting that they’re doing this type of drama on a weekday – I guess they’ll just focus more on the hero and less on the siblings, so that’s that.
The next one is Spring Turns to Spring, January 23rd on MBC – it stars Lee Yuri whom we love, Uhm Ji-won, and Lee Jong-hyuk, and it’s about Lee Yuri who works as a TV news anchorwoman who cares only about herself, Uhm Ji-won is a formerly popular actress who is now a lawmaker’s wife, so a politician’s wife, and she’s only focused on her family, and then they switch bodies. Oooh.
Saya: I wasn’t expecting that.
Anisa: Confession: I didn’t actually read the whole summary before I sent it to you.
Saya: I might actually watch this. Although, did either of you watch – what is it called – Room Number 9 – also a body swap drama?
Anisa: No, I did not watch that.
Saya: I want to hear how it went down, because I was planning to watch it and I just didn’t get around to it.
Anisa: I was like sort of intrigued and then I have a feeling that I heard that it was kind of strange, that it didn’t go in a good direction…the episodes are TBA but I am guessing that it is a 16 hour drama – the cast sounds really good – and the writer is also TBA which is a little worrisome.
Saya: Has it been written yet?
Anisa: Less than two weeks – it’s coming out in like, a week and a half – I don’t know what’s going on. No sorry – two and a half weeks.
Paroma: But you know the story is pretty familiar – I have seen other versions of this being done, I can tell you two Indian dramas that were done with pretty much exactly the same premise, so yeah.
Anisa: The director has produced and directed a lot of really good shows, so that’s something reassuring – like he produced Shopping King Louis, Miss Korea, Scandal: A Shocking and Wrongful Incident – and he directed Man to Man which the directing was not the problem in that – Arang and the Magistrate, Can you Hear My Heart – which is like one of my top favorite dramas ever – have you guys watched that? So I’m definitely interested in seeing where that goes. Ok, next is Kingdom, on Netflix, that is premiering – actually the whole thing is going to drop in one go on January 25th – I think it’s either 6 or 8 episodes – they budgeted for 6 and they ended up doing 8.
Paroma: Have we seen the trailer for this? I feel like we’ve seen the trailer for this.
Anisa: We have seen the trailer, it’s very creepy, there’s like zombies – dead bodies being dropped in the water with weights on them so they won’t come back to life which probably won’t work since they’re zombies.
Saya: D-Addicts says 6 – what does Asian Wiki say? Kingdom – 6 episodes.
Anisa: Yeah, you’re right – 6.
Paroma: I’m so confused.
Anisa: Oh, you know what it was? They were originally going to make 8 episodes, but they went so over budget that they could only make 6. We talked about it. Apologies, guys. We all know, it’s Kim Eun-hee of Signal fame, the writer, and the director of Tunnel –
Saya: For God’s sake. Just give me Signal 2 now.
Anisa: I would rather watch that than a zombie drama, to be honest but I hate zombies so that’s just my personal preference – but people love them
Saya: It’s because it’s Kim Eun-hee – that’s the only reason I’m watching it – I’m scared.
Anisa: We can hold hands over the internet.
Saya: Totally unexpectedly, zombies turned up, well a type of zombie turned up in Alhambra and I don’t know if it was to prepare me for Kingdom, because I covered my screen half the time.
Paroma: I don’t think these are the same kind of zombies.
Saya: You watch so many shows – you’re crazy.
Anisa: Do you like zombies, Paroma?
Saya: Like is probably not the right word.
Paroma: Like isn’t – like is not the right word.
Anisa: You don’t avoid them with the same kind of intensity that we do.
Paroma: No, I’m okay with gore – which I know a lot of people aren’t, I’m okay with gore, but what I hate are dramas that end with like I Am Legend – that kind of zombie story is what I hate.
Saya: I don’t know what that means.
Paroma: Ok, you are lucky – I hope you never know what that means.
Anisa: I guess that’s like an Easter egg for the people that watched I Am Legend. Go look it up on Wikipedia afterwards, Saya.
Saya: I will not. Laughs.
Anisa: Ok, next is Romance is a Bonus Book which is an interesting title. It’s premiering on January 26th on tvN – this is with Lee Jong-suk and it’s Lee Na-young’s come-back drama after like five years, because she left – she got married to Won Bin and she’s been like out of the limelight for a while. This is about – Lee Jong-suk is a genius writer – of course – and he’s handsome and he’s even-tempered and he has a warm heart and a reasonable personality –
Saya: And he’s a former comic book character.
Anisa: Yeah, and the heroine is formerly a popular copywriter but she’s not anymore, now she is broke and unemployed and she’s of course older than him, although this is not in the description – but we know this –
Saya: It says it’s a love story between two people in their thirties – I’m not sure I buy Lee Jong-suk as someone in this thirties.
Anisa: Is he even in his thirties?
Saya: I don’t think so. I mean he hasn’t gone to army yet, has he?
Paroma: He would have to be twenty something.
Saya: He’s 29.
Anisa: So he needs to go now. [laughter] So, it’s like she gets a job at his company by lying about her background.
Paroma: Because it’s so impressive – nobody wants to hire her for anything.
Anisa: This sounds a bit like Younger, maybe she lies about her age – have you guys heard of Younger? It’s about an older woman who goes back to publishing after a long time, but she’s so old that no one will hire her so she lies and says she’s 26. It’s an American TV show called Younger.
Saya: It sounds interesting.
Anisa: It’s actually really good, but I haven’t watched it – one of the TV podcasts I listen to, they love it on there.
Saya: It sounds good.
Anisa: Yeah, it’s the writer of the I Need Romance series.
Paroma: Which I liked two out of three, which is not bad.
Saya: I haven’t watched the first two but I did really like three.
Paroma: Three was the best one, hands down. I didn’t like two – I think I liked the first one and the third one, I think.
Anisa: I think she also wrote – she wrote something else that we liked too – she wrote – the screen writer is Jung Hyun-jung and she also wrote Five Children which I enjoyed, Because this is My First Love
Saya: Discovery of Love – that’s another one this writer wrote.
Anisa: Yes, that’s the one – I liked Discovery of Love. I know that was kind of – not everyone loved it, but I enjoyed it a lot.
Saya: I have to watch it, I haven’t watched it yet.
Anisa: I mean, I love Eric though, so. Eric is just so good in everything. She tends to do slightly – she tends to do prickly and unlikable heroines and I feel that they work as long as the actress is able to pull it off, so it should be interesting.
Paroma: Okay, okay – now can we go to the one that I really want to talk about?
Anisa: Yes! Let’s go – it’s luckily at the end – it’s called Touch Your Heart and it premieres January 30th on tvN and it is the reunion of our royal couple from Goblin – Lee Dong-wook and Yoo In-na.
Saya: I just wish Lee Dong-wook’s character were a detective rather than a lawyer.
Anisa: Maybe he changed jobs. Maybe this a different reincarnation.
Saya: Maybe it was more than one life left.
Anisa: Plus that one was set in the future, this is set in the current time – they could both happen. So she’s an actress, he’s a screenwriter – no, sorry – he’s not a screenwriter, he’s a lawyer.
Paroma: Again, another story with, just like the previous one, where the female lead pretends, basically lies about her background and decides to be a secretary I think, or something?
Saya: She needs to get experience for the role that she needs to play – she’s a terrible actress.
Paroma: And her acting career is like –
Anisa: It’s on the edge. I mean, I always love actors pretending – acting to be bad actors. Choi Siwon does this the best, in my opinion. He is the master of this, but I can see her doing a good job, and it looks fun. The only thing that I’m a little unsure about is like, the director’s awesome – but it’s the same writer who did the web novel, so the writer I don’t think has any experience writing dramas, so that might be a little bit –
Paroma: But the director is pretty strong.
Saya: There must be a writing team.
Anisa: I’m sure there is, so. It’s the director of Because this is Our First Life, Let’s Eat, Secretary Kim, some really good shows.
Saya: So Yegeo was the original writer of the webtoon, but it does have a pair of actual screen writers attached, Lee Myung-seok and Choi Bo Rim, and Lee Myung-seok has previously worked on The Virus which was an OCN drama from 2013, and do you know Heartstrings – You’ve Fallen For Me – I like that drama, it was low-key.
Anisa: It was low-key but the writing just kind of went nowhere – okay.
Saya: It’s a team –
Paroma: It wasn’t horrible, it didn’t have any hugely problematic –
Anisa: That’s true, I guess. It wasn’t awful, it was just fine. I’m sorry, I’m being too mean.
Paroma: Damned by faint praise. [laughter]
Saya: It’s been years since then.
Paroma: And also, I’m just super excited to see Yoo In-na in a lead role, I have missed her on my screen.
Saya: Yeah, she always seems to go from lead to supporting, lead to supporting, lead to supporting
Paroma: She is doing supporting for the last three years I think, I’m just – why?
Saya: That’s what I mean – she gets a lead role, and then she goes back to a supporting role, and then she gets another lead role and then she goes back to another supporting role, so she kind of yo-yo’s, but I love her as an actress, I think she’s really fun.
Paroma: So, yay.
Anisa: She hasn’t done a lead since My Secret Hotel, right? And that was 2014.
Paroma and Saya: Yeah, I think so.
Paroma: And that one was not…
Anisa: And the three that I think she did before that were supporting and then the one before that was Queen In-hyun’s Man.
Paroma: For me, Queen In-hyun’s Man was the last thing that she did as a lead, in my mind.
Saya: You’ve deleted everything else.
Anisa: In Paroma’s world…it’s been almost 9 years.
Saya: One More Happy Ending.
Paroma: I did watch that, I liked that – I liked her sort of in it – but again, she was not the lead. I need her to have a solo drama and just diva out.
Anisa: I think she would just have a lot of fun playing an actress, which she was playing an actress in Queen In-hyun’s Man.
Saya: It’s almost like a reprisal of that.
Anisa: Ok, that’s all that is upcoming. We haven’t done a Question of the Yak in a while, but a listener asked…
Paroma: I was looking up random comments in different podcast apps, and I found one from R M, what they basically asked was, was there a drama that we hated, but we had to finish and this could be from Japanese, Chinese, Korean – any industry. Do you guys remember a drama that you – you kind of didn’t like, but you finished. Actually wait. Cancel this – I do not want to know –
Saya: Why, what do you think I’m going to say?
Paroma: I think I’m going to be punished for asking – [laughter]
Saya: I’m a much nicer person than you think I am, you know.
Paroma: Okay, it’s Full House.
Saya: That was my second one, I have one before that though.
Anisa: Okay, but in – I don’t know in whose defense, maybe in Paroma’s defense, nobody made you finish Full House, you did not have to finish that.
Paroma: Exactly. Why am I feeling so guilty?
Saya: Well, as I said, I’m a much nicer person than you think I am – I wasn’t going to blame you for anything, I wasn’t even going to say Full House.
Anisa: Okay, so what was your actual answer?
Saya: I was going to say Criminal Minds.
Anisa: That’s what I was expecting.
Saya: Because the question is that you couldn’t drop, right? When you’re recapping you can’t drop, you – nobody else is watching, nobody else is reading, but you have to carry on – you can’t drop a show when it’s bad, when you’re recapping it, so, that’s the worst. But yeah, Full House, the reason that I made myself finish Full House is because 1) I was promised it was going to get better and 2) my sense of completionism – which I have now thrown out of the window. And everyone else should too.
Anisa: Good for you.
Saya: If you’re not enjoying it, stop watching it – there’re better things to watch
Anisa: So, I thought I didn’t have one, because all of my recapping has been pretty good and then I remembered Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food. I definitely wouldn’t have finished the whole thing if we weren’t recapping it together, and I also want to say that recapping it with you, Saya, made the whole experience so much better because we could rant about it to each other, and then our rants were actually published and people could commiserate with our rants, it was great – not that I want to go through that again, but if I had to watch it it’s better than doing each recap on your own, in the regular format, it was more of a conversational recap.
Saya: Yeah, because for a normal format you’d put in so many more hours, whereas with these ones, at least we didn’t have to put in – even the time that we did put in, I resented it – because it was that bad.
Paroma: But you guys were already saying stuff that we were thinking during the actual viewing so I really appreciated those recaps. I enjoyed them.
Anisa: I’m glad, and it was also nice that it was one recap for two episodes, rather than each person doing a full extra-long one on our own. But yeah, that’s my answer, what about you Paroma?
Paroma: Basically, Duty Made You Do It.
Saya: I feel like that’s the slogan of my life.
Anisa: I just don’t finish things that I don’t like, it’s like an optional, extra-curricular –
Paroma: I agree – towards the end I pretty much stopped watching Pretty Noona, I was just reading your recaps because the recaps were fun.
Anisa: So you don’t have anything that you hated?
Paroma: No, I totally do – I actually forgot about my own recapping experience, I do have one that I sort of hate-watched and finished which was Woman with a Suitcase, which had a promising beginning, but I pretty much ended up hating it, but I had to do it anyway because I was recapping it.
Anisa: Oh, you know what? I actually finished that one and I was so disappointed.
Paroma: Right? I had watched Twenty Again, just a few months before that, so I had such high expectations.
Anisa: Same here.
Paroma: So that was bad, and my other drama that I cannot explain, and this is probably true for a lot of other Chinese or Taiwanese dramas that I would watch, I cannot tell you why I watched them. This is particularly true – some of these dramas have like 50 episodes, so really I should have had a reason by 30 at most, but – one of the dramas that not only can I explain why…I kind of found it compelling despite its problematic treatment of all women in the drama I suppose – it’s Leh Ratree, a Thai lakorn and it falls squarely into this particular sub genre which is called slap and kiss…
Saya: It sounds terrible already.
Paroma: Yeah. For good reason. It’s exactly what it sounds like, it’s one of those dramas where the hero violently grabs the heroine and the heroine violently slaps the hero and there’s pushing against the wall and violent kisses, and stuff that makes you want to punch the screen.
Saya: Why? Why are you watching these?
Paroma: I don’t usually watch these, but in Leh Ratree the actors were actually compelling, the heroine not so much but the hero was, and the secondary characters were really compelling. The hero’s sister had a pretty good romance with the second lead male, who was interested in the first lead female, but my point is that her relationship with the second lead was actually very interesting so I suppose that’s one of the reasons that I stuck through to the end, because the hero’s sister was not one of those girls that you could just fling around. She had pretty good control of her own destiny, whereas the heroine was just so damn – such a wet blanket. Anyway – so I watched that. I cannot give you any good reason. No one made me watch that, and I promise you if it had been a different set of actors, and maybe – the writing was good, you know how some dramas that are really problematic also have good writing – the pacing is good – the dialogue is good, they just create this atmosphere where you know what is going down is not right, but they just grip you anyway – so, yeah that was the feeling I had with Leh Ratree. It was my first lakorn and not the last one but yeah pretty much…laughs.
Anisa: Well, I think you are the only one of us who’s going to be watching lakorns.
Paroma: At least of the slap-kiss variety.
Saya: Maybe our listeners can recommend to you something that’s better than what you watched!
Paroma: Because aside from this stuff, the stuff that Thailand does really well are the BL dramas and I’ve watched some really egregious ones and some really good ones, but if anyone can give me lakorns that are not problematic, please, I’m open to suggestions.
Anisa: Okay, I think we’re done with our yak.
Saya: I think we are – I have my joke.
Anisa: I’m ready to guess – probably incorrectly.
Paroma: I’m ready to fail too.
Saya: Well, I have to give you some background first. So, you remember the penguin jokes came from the penguin bars – the chocolate bars, this is a Frubes joke, so I know it sounds really dodgy for a non-English person, but Frubes are fromage frais yogurt in plastic tubes – so this is a joke from a Frube tube.
Anisa: We have something called Go-Gurt in the US, that’s also yogurt in a tube.
Saya: Oh, maybe it’s the same thing. So, we call them Frubes.
Paroma: What is with you guys and these portmanteau words… they’re terrible!
Anisa: I mean I’m not saying that I enjoy yogurt in a tube, and I’ve never eaten it –
Saya: They’re actually not bad, I enjoy them. But, in any case. What did the princess say when her photos didn’t show?
Anisa: I’m drawing a blank, honestly.
Saya: Let me just tell you…Some day my prints will come. [laughter]
Anisa: Delightfully horrible, thank you for that. Do you know how long I’ve been saving this? I’ve been saving this empty tube, which I even washed out so it wouldn’t, and I put it inside my e-book reader cover so I wouldn’t lose it, so I’ve been saving it for about three months, so that’s how long this joke has been waiting for you.
Paroma: You could have just written it down somewhere. Laughs.
Saya: Then I wouldn’t have the experience of looking at this really ugly Frubes tube and telling you about Frubes.
Anisa: I just also want to say that Frubes tube is not really a phrase that I want to hear again in my life. No offense to British people.
Saya: It’s only when I’m talking to you guys I realize how weird Frubes sound, how actually distasteful and possibly a little obscene it sounds, but yes, this is yogurt in a tube.
Anisa: And with that, listeners, we are leaving you on that note, [laughter] so have a good January and look for some bonus content on the blog about 2018 and what we thought about the dramas in 2018.
Saya: Thanks for listening everyone.
All: Bye guys.