Hello! This Yak we wrap up two romances we loved and gush about a thriler/romance that we can’t get enough of. We also talk about the fallout of the current scandals for 1N2D and if the alpha-hole trope is finally dying in Kdramas.
Listen to the episode right here:
00:01:17 – He is Psychometric
00:12:42 – Legal High
00:20:21 – Ms Temper and Nam Jungi
00:25:57 – Touch Your Heart/ Reach of Sincerity
00:47:07 – Romance is a Bonus Book
01:09:18 – Because it’s the First Time
01:12:56 – 1N2D
01:16:46 – Your Honor
01:19:50 – I Picked Up a Celebrity on the Street
01:28:08 – “Has the jerk alpha hero trope died?”
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Paroma: Hello, you’re listening to an episode of Dramas Over Flowers. This is the Long Yak – where Saya, Anisa and Paroma (that’s me) get together to talk about our current watch lists – sometimes this means fangirling, but frequently this means disagreements and debates about motives and morality. Join us in our Kdrama dissection by subscribing to this Podcast, following us on Twitter @dramasoverflow, or emailing us your thoughts at email@example.com. If you are supporting us as a patron, thank you for every episode you help us create. For everyone else, thank you so much for listening. If you want to support us as a patron too, our pledges start from $1.00 per month and they make production of this Podcast possible. You can visit our patron page at Patreon.com/Dramasoverflowers. Now, every Long Yak is painstakingly transcribed by the amazing Kdramadaydreamer, who can be found on Twitter @kdramagirl1. You will find a link to the transcriptions, as well as the time stamps for the episodes in the show notes. And now, welcome to our Yak.
Saya: Hi everyone, this is Saya.
Anisa: This is Anisa.
Paroma: This is Paroma.
Saya: And, let’s just dive right in to He is Psychometric, which is so cool.
Paroma: It is! I was not expecting this.
Saya: You know – you are so excited about something and you watch it on your own and you are like, this is so good – I love it, and then you go to check out the fan reaction and everyone’s like – ehhh. I felt a little bit deflated about that. So, I’m glad you feel that way.
Anisa: Can you remind me what the premise is, because I remember hearing about this and I just never picked it up. Is it like, a mind reading drama?
Saya: Kind of…so the main character, who is called Lee Ahn, played by Park Jin-young, who is not the Jin-young I was thinking of, who knew there was more than one Kpop Jin-young – so I was watching him all that time and I was like, you don’t look like Jin-young…this is the other Jin-young.
Anisa: This is Got7’s Park Jin-young, right?
Saya: Yeah, but who knew though – I’m not a Kpop person so I don’t know that there’s a difference between the Got7 one and the other one.
Paroma: You just lost us a lot of our subscribers, man.
Anisa: It’s okay, guys – I know…
Saya: But I love him, I love him – he’s so like, adorable, but so he was in an accident as a kid and he developed this power that when he touches something he gets a read on its history, like if it is an object, he will get this knowledge about how it was made, various bits of psychometry – so when he touches people, he can maybe see parts of their history or things that they’ve been through, or just like random pieces of something to do with that person or object, but he has no control over it and what happened is that as a kid – this is actually very difficult to watch, that first episode – especially if you are British and particular a Londoner and you remember Grenfell – because there was basically a Grenfell situation right at the beginning and he and the young man who lived in the same apartment complex – I think he was a teenager at that point, but he’s his adopted hyung and he rescues little Lee Ahn, jumping out of a window and landing on a car, and from that point on he had this power.
Paroma: But he hit his head, and from that point on he had this power.
Saya: Yeah, he had a head injury. There’s this overarching mystery of who set the fire and what happened, because there’s this like, you know, some murders happened before that and that’s the long mystery and you have – do we have week-by-week cases, or am I just making that up?
Paroma: We don’t have week-by-week cases, but what we have is Lee Ahn’s development – every week he seems to reach a certain point in the development of his power, which is what our short-term arc is all about – Lee Ahn developing his power, which he pretty much ignored most of his childhood because he got traumatized as a child when he touched someone and found out their background but the result of that wasn’t good, so he’s stopped…
Saya: Yeah because they started treating him like he was a monster. Which reminds me a little bit of Yoo Seung-ho in I’m Not a Robot.
Paroma: I knew you were going to make that comparison!
Saya: That’s not even the comparison I wanted to make…the comparison I wanted to make is Lee Ahn basically – I was watching this and trying to figure out why I liked him so much and who he reminded me of, and it suddenly struck me, he’s basically like Chan from 30 but 17 – he even looks like him, and he’s got that bouncy, innocent energy and he’s like a duckling and you want to ohhh…
Paroma: Oh yeah, I know – he really won my heart in that first episode where he’s hiding – in the morgue – he’s hiding from his hyung and his hyung kind of puts him out of that cold storage drawer and he comes out hiding his face behind the bag and he is sort of like shyly grinning at his brother and it’s like – oh my god, how adorable are you?
Saya: And he loves him so much.
Paroma: Oh my god, I love their relationship. I couldn’t figure out if Kim Kwon who is the hyung – who is much older than him, he’s a prosecutor – ok, so they’re adults now – so Kim Kwon who is the hyung – he’s a prosecutor now and he’s like a really wealthy, placed – televised, well-respected prosecutor and Lee Ahn – the young psychometric boy – he is pretty much like jobless, didn’t do very well in his studies, hasn’t figured out what he wants to do with his life – he just wants to get into the police business as a psychometric, but his powers haven’t developed either. But the adopted brothers…I love their relationship.
Saya: But, it’s difficult to get a read on whether hyung is – like the theory that’s floating around the fandom right now is – okay, I won’t tell you the speculation yet, but basically no one is quite sure what his deal is because sometimes he seems shady and other times you are like, he can’t be bad – it is very ambiguous and you feel like you are on tenterhooks when you are watching because you are waiting for him to do something terrible, but also desperately don’t want him to.
Paroma: Exactly. The other thing that they do with every episode is that they reveal a little more of what happened in 2005 like when Lee Ahn was a tiny boy and the fire happened. They are revealing a little more of the real story, so initially we got one version of it and then with every subsequent episode of it we got somebody else’s perspective of that night. So little by little the mystery is unfolding, and as the mystery unfolds you get to know the characters a little better – like Lee Ahn obviously he is the protagonist, and he is a positive character – there are not many shades to him aside from the trauma that he’s gone through. There is also his possible love interest and the girl his age which is played by Shin Ye-eun.
Saya: I love her. She reminds me of Park Se-young in School 2013 – do you remember her?
Paroma: Yeah, she does, I was actually thinking of her.
Saya: And also a little bit of Soo-jung in Bok-soo.
Paroma: Like she’s like a studious, really clever girl, yeah.
Saya: But she takes no rubbish.
Anisa: My one hesitation to watch this was that I didn’t really know the actors, and they seemed really young and green, but you guys are making me want to watch it because they both sound really good and cute.
Paroma: They are really good. The acting here is solid, and I liked that – there are two generations here with parallel stories – the main one is of course Lee Ahn and Yoo Jae-in which is the younger generation just starting out their life and they have their own mystery and chemistry but there is – the older brother’s generation as well, and him and his – the detective who’s in love with him – Eun Ji-Soo – I love their dynamic as well, because initially it had that old clichéd – the girl is in love with this prosecutor and he’s ignoring her, but I love that in the most recent episode there was a moment where she’s asking him questions about a case and he is refusing to give her any answers and she very quietly says – this is the thing about our relationship – you know everything that is in my mind and I never know what’s in yours, and she says that with so much hurt in her voice, he actually stops and reveals information that he never told anybody else and I love that – like he actually does care about her opinion. I like that glimpse…that he does care, he’s held himself apart, but it’s not as if he doesn’t care.
Saya: But you do wonder – like the way the character is, makes you wonder – does he really have any feelings towards anybody else and yeah, it was a really interesting…
Anisa: You both are going to continue watching – you like it?
Saya: Oh yeah. I’m so into this.
Anisa: How far are you both?
Saya: Up to date. I think it’s 6 episodes in.
Paroma: I’m up to date.
Saya: I watch this the moment it’s out.
Paroma: Yeah, as soon as it airs. So, yeah, we definitely are going to watch this and about the power that he has, something that I like is that – because it’s not as if his power is already established – it’s not like I Hear Your Voice, for instance, where Park Soo-Ha already knew the bounds of his powers, it’s not like he was expanding or discovering new things about his powers, whereas Lee Ahn’s character here does not know the limits of his powers and frequently when he overdoes things, he gets a headache or he collapses, so it’s…
Saya: What’s really great about this is it’s so funny – Lee Ahn’s character reminds me – you know there is just this great dynamic to have a dim male hero – he’s not book smart and do you remember like in [My Strange Hero] how Bok-soo would always come out with these sayings that were like slightly wrong, Lee Ahn has this thing where he will say words, and they will be like…
Paroma: They will be homonyms of what he actually was trying to say.
Saya: They’ll be slightly wrong – there will be one letter off and both Noona and Hyung will just in unison – the three of them in fact…and he’s so unfazed by it. What I really enjoy about this is the way it takes the male ego – the one that comes from knowing how great you are – being overwhelmed by your own intelligence and cleverness and just knowing that you are better than everyone else and cleverer than everyone else – it just takes that whole element of ego out. So you’re just left with the humor and the warm-heartedness and just the love – it’s so great – It’s so funny. Try out two episodes Anisa – if you are not into it by then just don’t.
Anisa: Oh I think I will be into it.
Paroma: You will be.
Anisa: I just have to wait until I finish all of my final papers.
Saya: Yeah, don’t start it before because otherwise you are not going to sleep all night and then bad things will happen.
Paroma: So, shall we move on to the next one? Legal High…Ok, so I haven’t really watched much of this, just the first episode and I am not sure about this yet, I am going to give it a couple of more episodes, simply because I like the actors, I like Seo Eun-soo the actress, I’ve seen just one other thing that I remember which is 100 Million Stars from the Sky and I liked her there, but I don’t remember watching Jin Goo in anything, do you guys know him?
Saya: Descendants of the Sun.
Anisa: He’s the second lead in that.
Paroma: That’s where I’ve seen him? My god he looks nothing like he did there! What the hell?
Anisa: He was also the second lead/ex-fiancé in Kim Seo-yeon’s drama – the one with the heart transplant – what was it called again? I can only remember the terrible Netflix title which is Beating Again.
Saya: Falling for Innocence?
Anisa: Falling for Innocence, that’s right!
Paroma: He was the second lead? But I remember the second lead kind of being evil.
Anisa: No, well he – spoiler – he is the fiancé that she had at the beginning of the drama.
Paroma: Oh the one who died – right. I did not remember him from there. It says he was in Mr. Sunshine, too, which I did not watch…so…
Saya: Oh yeah, sorry – the other show I mentioned was Ad Genius Lee Tae-baek, just to correct the title.
Anisa: I really like him. I think he’s really, really good.
Paroma: Yeah, so he is really, really good. So in the first episode he is just mad. He’s mad as in insane mad.
Saya: Laughs. I’m just looking at the poster and you said he’s mad and I’m like yeah, I get it, have you seen this poster?
Paroma: So, from the poster I didn’t actually get much of what this was going to be about – I went in without reading the synopsis or anything, I just started watching it and so what this is about is – these are two lawyers and Jin Goo’s character and Jae-In are both lawyers only they are the only kind of lawyers who exist in dramaland, who have never lost a court case. Jae-In is a newbie, she is an intern in a law firm, she has no experience whatsoever and the first case that she has is one where she is defending a friend and she loses it, so she’s desperate to find someone to appeal that case and she hears about this guy and she already had a bad impression of him because he’s insane, like I said, and she goes to him and tries to convince him to do the job but he’s like, you have to pay me a lot of money and she’s trying to appeal to his higher moral character, which is not working because, like I said, he’s mad – and also he likes money. Laughs.
Saya: What kind of mad is he?
Paroma: He’s the kind of mad where he will take a subway seat instead of giving it to a senior and say that the senior goes to a gym because clearly he’s holding a gym bag and he’s in better health than I am so I need the seat more than the senior does. He is amazing at spouting legal arguments, even though what he says makes no moral, ethical sense, maybe, but you cannot argue back at the moment. One of the final moments of the episode which actually was something that I really liked was that after the confrontation happens, Jae-In kind of becomes defeated and frustrated and she starts walking away, and she was there when that subway incident happened – he spouted these arguments at her and she couldn’t say anything and she had to go, so now – several weeks later at that moment when she’s super frustrated that he won’t take the case, she stomps back in and she kind of gives him an amazing rebuttal and he looks very, sort of chastised and he’s like, you’re right, but it’s two weeks too late, you should have said it then. And this girl looks crestfallen and man, I really liked that.
But it’s like, he’s mad in that sort of genius way – he is really upset with winning cases – he’s also sort of obsessed with winning his legacy and his empire and it is just something that like – people around him – people who care about him sort of feel concerned about him – that he’s that obsessed with it, but he’s also sort of funny, so you would laugh at him if you knew him in person, but you could not argue back against him so, yeah. I’m not sure how I feel about this drama yet, because it’s too confusing, Seo Jae-In’s own character has this slightly weird narrative where she doesn’t like hitting people, but then she gets almost assaulted by her boss and she hits him and he gets really hurt and then tries to sue her and then, whatever, she gets out of that, but after that she starts training in martial arts, she’s like – oh no, I can hit people now, so it is very random so I’m not…let’s see…I’m going to give this another episode.
Anisa: And like, this is a remake of the hit Japanese drama for 2012 and it sounds a little wacky in the way that I find Japanese workplace dramas – they tend to be really off the wall and kind of wacky.
Paroma: Oh! Which reminds me, also, so Jin-Goo’s character, he’s left this big firm and the people of that big firm – the guy who sort of like is the senior most lawyer – he hates Jin-Goo for having left them and wants to destroy him so he made up a case, like a case that Jin-Goo had to lose – like, he’s obsessed with sort of pulling down Jin-Goo’s 100 person winning rate, so it’s kind of…
Anisa: Sounds like a manga.
Saya: That’s actually what I was thinking.
Anisa: Like one of those continual battles.
Saya: Also, Jin-Goo’s pretty good at comic roles.
Paroma: Yeah, he is. He got a lot of laughs out of me here – I was a bit frustrated about not being able to pin down his character, but he is doing physical comedy amazingly – and his facial expressions, they have this entire range of hilarious expressions.
Saya: You should try Ad Genius as well, you’ll enjoy him in that. It was the drama that he did – when did he do it? Just before Falling for Innocence – so it’s a 2013 drama.
Paroma: Okay, cool.
Saya: It’s another workplace drama, laughs.
Anisa: Speaking of workplace dramas about ad companies, did I ever tell you that I did end up watching Ms. Temper and Nam Jung-ki?
Paroma: You watched that?
Saya: We didn’t talk about it – you just mentioned briefly that you’d watched it, but we didn’t get to talk about it – so we can do that now.
Anisa: Ok, we have like 9 minutes so. I did watch it – I think my expectations were really high because you said you loved it so much. It was enjoyable – I think I found it a little bit frustrating, just because I think my favorite part was just the dynamics of everyone in the office – that was really nice and their journey as a company was really nice – of them figuring out what they wanted to do and they had some kind of – that evil guy that was her ex husband that comes back and tries to ruin their company, played by Yeon Jung-hoon – you know – do you guys remember? So it was well done, and I think that the love story was kind of luke warm.
Paroma: It was super low key.
Anisa: It was low key and I didn’t mind that it was low key, but I think that part of what I found a little bit frustrating was that he was so vulnerable and in touch with his emotions, and she was so cold and out of touch with her emotions, where everything was so suppressed and quiet. And they were doing this thing where opposites attract and then they make each other’s lives better, but I think it made it a little hard to connect with the heroine at times and so, yeah…
Saya: I felt like they didn’t really push the romance – the romance wasn’t the point, so it was a very latent sort of almost there but you don’t quite see it, but at some point it will happen.
Anisa: Yeah, and I didn’t mind that – the fact that it was kind of left as a thing that would probably happen at some point in the future, it’s just that as a boss and as a team member she was also kind of distant – and I mean that did make some of the moments where she kind of cracked a little bit like really feel like – oh, she actually does love them and she cares about them, but I just found that like having her be so emotionally distant for the majority of the drama – I don’t know, it just like dampened a little of my enthusiasm for it – I don’t know.
Paroma: That makes sense.
Saya: Can I just say that I didn’t love it – I enjoyed it, so it’s not a go to recommendation. I enjoyed it – I thought you would enjoy it more than me, so.
Anisa: Yeah, I mean it was a fun watch – it just didn’t leave a lasting impression – you know what I mean? I was just, like, oh that was good and I just moved on, which is probably why I even forgot to talk about the drama on the podcast.
Saya: Lee Yo-won has – I don’t feel like I’ve every seen her do sort of a warm, bubbly role. She has always done these cool distant roles that I have seen her in – I may just not be watching the right dramas, but – to me, I kind of characterize her as an emotionally disconnected, coldish kind of…
Anisa: Yeah, I think part of it is just that she doesn’t have like a super engaging screen presence, so maybe because she was playing that kind of character and then as an actress she’s not the kind that like, draws you in, as much as maybe some other people, that kind of contributed to it – because I know that there are some actors who have such a strong charisma that even if they play a character that’s kind of reserved and whose emotions you don’t really have access to –
Saya: You still connect with them.
Anisa: Yeah, you can feel how much is under the surface. Like, for example, what’s his name – the actor from Forest of Secrets, why can’t I…
Saya: Oh, Jo Seung-woo?
Anisa: Yes. Jo Seung-woo – oh, I’m such a bad fan. Anyway, he’s very unemotional in that, for most of it, but you can feel how much is under the surface – he is mesmerizing in that, so yeah. But, it was enjoyable.
Saya: He’s even better in God’s Gift, which – watch at your own peril.
Anisa: I think I’ve heard about the ending and yeah, I’m not going near that thing.
Saya: You’ll be okay because you know. Laughs.
Anisa: I guess. Maybe I’ll just watch Life instead. Even though I hate medical dramas.
Saya: Do you know what I sort of realized – I suppose it took me about 5 years to come to this conclusion – or how many years it’s been, it was still worth watching despite the ending. I couldn’t forgive it for about 5 years, but now I’m like you know what – that was a really good drama, I’d watch it again.
Saya: So if you are prepared, you might not be as devastated and distraught and generally destroyed.
Anisa: I guess, but even like the whole kidnapping and like the mother searching for her child, thing, it’s like a little bit hard for me to watch – even without that ending.
Saya: If you are a mystery/ thriller fan, you should try it, but if you are not – then just enjoy the fun things. So, I wanted to smoothly segue from Legal High – from one legal drama to another, but we got a little waylaid by Ms. Temper and Nam Jung-gi in the middle.
Anisa: Well, you mentioned Ad Genius Yoo Tae-baek, so I blame you.
Saya: It’s okay, I got the line in, so I forgive you. Laughs.
Paroma: And now we can finally make our way back to Touch Your Heart. How did you guys like the – wait – Anisa, have you watched the last 2 episodes?
Anisa: No, I got to the end of 14 and you both have finished it?
Saya: I feel like 15 and 16 are basically like an epilogue.
Paroma: They are, but we shouldn’t say that – Anisa hasn’t watched it.
Saya: No – she’ll love that – Anisa loves that.
Paroma: I agree. This is how you should do fluff. You know how after Secretery Kim we were all like – there were 4 episodes of fluff, and it was uggg – but these two episodes were fluff, but also, relationship building fluff.
Anisa: Okay, I’m down with that, yeah. I knew that all the plot stuff was over by the end of episode 14 – you can tell.
Saya: Or maybe episode 10. It just makes such a valiant effort to be a serious drama, but we all know that you are not a serious drama – you are a romance, and you do not need to pretend otherwise, we will love you – actually, the fact that it attempted to be serious about it did make me like it more, because sometimes when it goes too deep into the romance it murders the rest of the story and it tried and it made it fee more…
Paroma: This is not just romance – there can be serious romance and fluffy romances – there are plenty of different types of romances – this is romance by the book. I can’t imagine a trope that has not been employed here, short of amnesia and like you are my sibling…[laughs]
Anisa: But there’s no cancer, right? No cancer?
Paroma: No cancer.
Anisa: That’s always a win, when there’s no cancer.
Paroma: But you know, all the good, like, funny, sweet tropes all have been employed and you know what, at the end of the drama, probably because I was watching this currently airing – I was looking back and there was this moment, and this is not a big spoiler, this is just a tiny one, there is a moment where Yoo In-na’s character – after her drama has been aired and stuff, she is just giving a minor speech to her cast members and all of that stuff, and you watch that moment and you think weeks back where she was giving that adorable thank you speech with her little award from the law firm and that camp thing – and it is like we have lived that moment with her, and I really liked the quiet progress that was done. There was character building done, but it was so subtle that you could hardly see it.
Anisa: It’s definitely her drama. This drama lives and dies based upon Yoo In-na – she brings so much life and liveliness and humor and adorableness.
Saya: I don’t understand why she’s not always a lead actress – it’s just – she’s just got so much charisma…
Paroma: She went from Sunny in Goblin to this – I mean come on – the range this woman has got, how is she not…
Anisa: She’s so good. She’s so good. My issue with this drama was just – like you were saying – it tries to be a serious drama, or in another way you could say that it tries to have plot, but it never quite goes deep enough into anything, so then I’m always left with this sort of unsatisfied feeling – I’m like, okay, I’m on board with where you’re going with this, and then it kind of goes a certain amount and then it just stops. Like with the stalker plotline, it could have been something a little more interesting that could have had something to say about what it’s like to be an actress, especially in this environment where you have…
Paroma: Oh my god, I actually thought it was related – because the stories are…I mean how can it be, they had short – weeks before this happened…
Saya: Oh okay. No, I mean in the general sense of the way that we have been having sort of MeToo…
Paroma: Yes, I think that that is what it was a callback to – instead of directly being how certain agencies push their actresses to sort of prostitute themselves, instead of being something as dark as that, here the agency is sort of – I don’t know, gullible fools?
Anisa: I wouldn’t go that far.
Paroma: How does the actress get cornered in another room away from them like that anyway?
Anisa: The agency was kind of terrible. Like, they were acting like they were on her side but they were out for themselves, honestly.
Paroma: Oh – and the Manager Oppa! Man, I had such murderous thoughts about that guy.
Anisa: I hated him – oh, I hated him. He was so bad. The whole thing with the noble idiocy, and I’m breaking you up for your own good was just, like, so annoying.
Paroma: Yeah and she didn’t even get mad at him when she found out that he was the one who had emotionally manipulated Lee Dong-wook into breaking up with her – what the hell?
Saya: He didn’t really manipulate him – he sort of straight up said you should do this. It wasn’t like, underhand.
Paroma: Yeah, but you know the emotional manipulation comes into the thing where he basically told Lee Dong-wook that you’re going to harm her career so you should let her go if you love her, I mean come on, that’s a decision that the two of them need to make! It’s just –
Anisa: I was angrier at Lee Dong-wook for –
Paroma: He did it behind Yoo In-na’s back.
Anisa: It’s because he lied to her, and he was like, yeah, it’s definitely because I’m mad at you and like I don’t want to be with you…
Saya: He didn’t actually say it in those words.
Anisa: Oh, come on.
Saya: He said it’s because of the things you said, without saying it himself – so I felt like he was – he deliberately did that – he didn’t bring those reasons out of his own mouth – he was just like going along with her story.
Anisa: I’m sorry, that doesn’t make it better.
Saya: I’m not saying that it makes it better – I think that they did do that in that specific way to make it like that, but also, maybe I’ve been watching this wrong – I don’t feel as mad as you guys did.
Paroma: No, it was just like, he had so many opportunities – he was watching Yoo In-na suffer – I keep forgetting her name – what’s her name here, Oh Jin-shim. The Manager Oppa – he was watching her suffer every day and he wasn’t saying a thing. There were plenty of scenes after that when she was clearly crying and he was feeling guilty, but he wasn’t saying anything because clearly he wanted the drama thing to get over and I don’t know.
Saya: Yeah, because, actresses, image.
Anisa: The agency was being an agency, so like even though I was mad, I was like – okay, they’re going to be an agency, like they see her as an investment – that’s what she is to them – a job and an investment, right? So, I was like okay, whatever, you guys are horrible, but I understand that that’s how things work, but with Lee Dong-wook I was like, come on, this whole time they were so honest with each other, they never – he was all about open communication, and he had promised her so many times that he would be on her side no matter what, and even when the manager came up to him and was like you should break up with her he was like that will never happen, and then like he has one sleepless night and he decides to just break up with her for her own good?
Saya: But don’t you kind of see this whole sequence as inevitable, I almost don’t blame characters for these things. They are made to do things.
Paroma: It’s like the Episode 12 Curse, right?
Saya: It was in episode 12, and it was precisely for that reason – it had to happen.
Anisa: Yes, but I also feel like that meta reason of like production stuff doesn’t make me forgive the drama’s story for things like that, I’m not as nice as you I guess. [laughs] It also goes back to my point about how the show falls short just like 10% of actually fulfilling its goals, because there was a way in which they could have written it and presented it that would have – actually that would make more sense, but it just like never quite goes deep enough – they never quite went deep enough into the stalker backstory, you just see one or two flashbacks, you don’t really see how deeply it affected her life, so that had not that much of an emotional impact on me, even though Yoo In-na did a really good job selling the scenes that she had, and then like it’s the same thing with the breakup and makeup or whatever. The only one thing that I felt was kind of worth it for that whole sequence of them being pushed apart is that you watch him everyday as he’s sitting at the bus stop going to work –
Paroma: I loved that.
Anisa: And he’s like totally blank-faced, and he’s just like working really hard, and then there’s that moment where he just breaks down –
Anisa: And then you see that this whole time – the reason that he’s been taking the bus is that there’s this big screen of her advertisement across the street, and he can see it when he gets on the bus and I was just like…Ohhh.
Saya: That actual moment when he breaks down crying, and it’s like, he’s racked with these silent sobs, I found that such a powerful little moment.
Anisa: Yeah, and I don’t think that I’ve ever seen him cry that well before. Like, he’s not that good at crying. Goblin was – yeah – he was good in that too.
Saya: Yeah, man – that was like epic crying – as in the weight of the ages.
Paroma: Yeah, but to be honest, in this particular drama, which as you said – it was Yoo In-na’s drama, Lee Dong-wook probably shone exactly in that episode most, because every other scene that he had, he brought his own charisma, and persona with it – and he’s adorable, we all love him, but it was nothing amazingly special – it was nothing that another actor couldn’t have done – you know? But, it’s just that Lee Dong-wook heartbroken, is something special to watch – it’s just that he does it really well. At least he did it really well here.
Anisa: Yeah, I mean, I think in his earlier stuff he wasn’t as good at crying, which is maybe what I’m remembering – like My Girl, and things like that.
Saya: That was more than 10 years ago, wasn’t it?
Anisa: I feel like for him, acting wise, Goblin was a turning point. Before that I found him hard to connect with in emotional scenes. It’s nice to see, because I really like him as a person, as an actor, so, also – maybe he just like magically needs to be with Yoo In-na all the time.
Saya: Oh, man, I’m sort of real life shipping them so much – I want there to be a real announcement that they are getting married – something real, not dating speculations – something real where I can just be like Ohhhh. There is just one more thing I want to mention before we move on…sorry Anisa…
Anisa: Go ahead, I also have one more thing.
Saya: About the cases we were talking about – I totally agree with you about them being just not deep enough, and I also felt that everything was just over a little too quickly, but I was really glad that they revisited that final case – because it feels like the last Yak we recorded a really long time ago, but I just listened to it yesterday or something – so that conversation felt like a new conversation when I listened to it yesterday. You know how I was talking about the unlikeliness of someone like Soon-young being a perpetrator rather than a victim, I really like how that played out with him actually turning out to be the victim after all and not the real sort of premeditated what’s it called – was it premeditated?
Paroma: It wasn’t premeditated, it was like a moment of passion, he was trying to protect the noona…
Anisa: Her and her ex-husband had premeditated it.
Paroma: So, I did have an issue with that, though I don’t think it was executed very well. I liked that – I liked two aspects of it, one is that – thank you for going back to that case because it made me desperately uncomfortable how Jung-rok’s character had practically cornered him and made him admit that he was the murderer – that was just horribly dark.
Anisa: It was awful and I’m glad that he –
Saya: And it was like a redemption for him.
Paroma: Exactly, I’m glad that the hero was wrong and he had to redeem himself. I really liked that, because you rarely get that in a romance drama. But the thing that bothered me was how they showed, I forget the original – what was the noona’s name?
Saya: Im Yoon-hee.
Paroma: Right, I found that a bit ridiculous. It’s fine that she is practically a serial killer – or a real con man – her father died, she sort of fake-killed her husband, got two insurances, and then went on to marry this third person when her first husband was actually still alive, but like an accomplice, but the thing that I found really weird was how, on earth, could she manipulate the delivery boy into murdering her husband, and how could she –
Saya: They explain that, don’t they, about her priming him?
Paroma: They did a really bad job of it – they said that she kept – she kept asking him to go over her house for deliveries, and always presented herself in a situation where she was being abused, and it is just that – that sounds really weird, but it was always so well timed, and the other thing is that – how could she forcibly –
Saya: That was deliberate – she did that totally on purpose, she might not even have been beaten by her husband.
Paroma: But how could she predict that he would go and kill the guy? It just –
Saya: It wasn’t predicting – it was just that – she was trying to program him and that was the whole thing – that he was manipulatable and that he was an easy target for her to sort of…
Paroma: Yeah, but to me that was a bit too far-fetched.
Saya: It is. The whole thing is far-fetched.
Anisa: I mean, I found it more far-fetched that like, Lee Dong-wook was able to get the ex-husband’s fingerprints from a glass wall that is like, in public, on the street, after like months had passed. Really?
Paroma: Yeah. I think I would have liked that part of the story a bit more if like, instead of making the original victim noona into a long haul conman type person, if it had simply been a story where she got caught – like the police took her into custody and said you have murdered your husband – it did turn out that she was sort of protecting the boy and that he had come and stabbed the man – her abusive husband, maybe she was the one who went and stabbed her husband the second time, maybe she was the one who gave the killing blow, but this way she short of got out of it – not on purpose, she didn’t really want to sort of get accused of murder, but this way she got out, so she took the insurance money and ran. It just – it’s a little more complex is what I’m saying.
Anisa: But that’s the thing with this drama, it doesn’t bother to be that complex.
Paroma: It’s actually less complex than what they gave us, which is this bizarre long con – that is so much harder for me to take than this woman who did murder her husband, but was acquitted because this lawyer had found the boy who had stabbed her husband once, and she decided to just go with that instead of just saying hey, I was the one who stabbed him the second time –
Anisa: It isn’t actually a legal drama, it’s just a romance drama.
Paroma: Why didn’t the writer choose the simpler way to go? Because they just needed a villain.
Anisa: They needed to fill another hour. That’s what they needed to do.
Saya: A lot of times I feel like romances in particular would just be better as 12 episode dramas, they really don’t need to be 16.
Anisa: Always 12 episodes.
Paroma: I think 14 would kind of make me happy.
Saya: 14 gives you time for your epilogue.
Anisa: Can I just – the other problem with this, it wasn’t just 16 episodes, it was 16 70 minute episodes, which feels so much longer – that was so unnecessary.
Saya: I was speed-watching it.
Anisa: By the end I was kind of doing that too. And the other thing I want to say is that I just – to go back to saying the things that we really liked about it – I just really appreciated how – I think this is one of the things that the show did really well, the whole thing with the CEO and him and how he had this whole thing where he was like fine, I’ll just get my own redemption, and the CEO was like – What about me? What about the rest of the firm? Don’t you care about us? Even when he resigned he’s like – you have been such an important person in my life – like what am I to you, just a boss? That whole thing of how Se-won had to come in and be the middle man and get them to make up – I just really liked that whole thing. Their backstory and their relationship – that was the one thing that felt really fleshed out to me, so I liked that a lot.
Saya: Especially because he’s been presented as this kind of laughable character most of the time, so you don’t really take him seriously, he’s just like the fanboy that thinks that he’s cooler than he is, and then you get that moment of total heartfelt seriousness, and you are like Oh, get me in the heart.
Anisa: And you also realize that oh – this is why Jong-rok has been sticking around for so long – this is their history as friends.
Saya: And because you always get that vibe in their relationship anyway, that they genuinely care about each other and that he’s like, you know, he’s got this great comedic timing…
Anisa: He’s always so good.
Saya: Yeah, but he always brings that emotion as well, like – simultaneously, he’s making you laugh as he’s making you clutch your heart – he’s pretty great and he’s been the saving grace of many a bad drama.
Saya: I’m looking at you, Mi-rae’s Choice.
Anisa: Oh God, that drama had no saving grace, let’s not go down that dark path. [laughs] Yeah, on the whole Touch Your Heart – it was great. A really fluffy, cute, adorable watch in my opinion.
Saya: Yeah. And the other thing – just one last thing, which is that you know we were saying how low-key and how low-conflict the romance was, in a way that felt kind of revolutionary, because we are so used to having so much conflict in romances, so for them to – you know like the jealousy stuff, or you know when Jong-rok is on a blind date – there is a certain formula for what should happen next, and it is not that – and she’s like, Everyone thinks you are so cool, how am I going to deal with this? It’s so refreshing.
Anisa: That’s what made the fact that they used every trope in the book digestible, is because they didn’t do the thing that they always do.
Saya: It kind of was – it did subvert it, but in the way that you wouldn’t have expected in a drama, but you would hope for in real life. I think we can segue into our next legal drama on the list.
Anisa: Oh, I was going to say – I had a really good segue. I was going to say, we could go from romance by the book to Romance is a Bonus Book.
Saya: Oh, that is a really good one. I was going to say – let’s just go straight to Your Honor, but let’s do this.
Anisa: Okay, what did you think of Romance is a Bonus Book – we all finished it, right?
Paroma and Saya: Yes.
Saya: I just loved this show, beginning to end – I loved the whole thing. It’s sort of lyrical and poetic and totally unrealistic, but it was…
Anisa: So enjoyable.
Saya: And like you were saying last time, it’s such a writer’s drama as well.
Anisa: Totally. Almost to the point of being a little bit self-indulgent, but I feel like all three of us just enjoy that so we don’t care.
Saya: You don’t want too many dramas like that, but every once in a while a drama like that comes along and you are like ahhh – it reminded me a little bit of – you know like A Poem a Day’s poetic interludes? It was kind of – it had that kind of sort of self-reflective, slightly poetic interludes as well, and you know when the credits were rolling at the end and they’d have these little passages of snippets of their feelings for each other and the things they think, I just, as a writer, I loved that so much.
Anisa: Yeah, as a TV watcher I didn’t quite love it – I feel like out of the three of us, I’m not as 100% fully enthusiastic, but I find that this is a really rare drama in that my feelings about it after it has ended and how I feel looking back are actually fonder than the moments when I was watching it, which is weird – I’ve never had that experience before. But like, once the final credits rolled and they were like, Dear viewers, the moon is beautiful, I was like Ahhhh, I’m dead this is so nice! That scene of them holding hands and running through and the coworkers were all like, Wait, what? Everything about it was just great – the epilogue was great – I just have so much affection for these Gyeoroo people.
Saya: It was just like a family – it wasn’t so much a workplace. It was like a workplace family kind of drama, as in you really felt the bonds between the people, the love they felt for each other, the lengths that they’d go to for each other, and it was just, like you kept – like those bonds kept being tested and pulled and challenged, and stretched, and yet they would always sort of come back to each other with a deeper understanding and their feelings for each other would just kind of grow, and yeah, the trench coats were great.
Anisa: What you said about it being a workplace family drama – usually when they frame workplaces as a family I’m like very suspicious, and kind of icked out, because I feel like that is a lot of times just a way for them to take advantage of the employees who don’t have as much power, but in this case, I really did feel that it was a pretty egalitarian sort of company – there’s still some power dynamics – but you did feel that genuine feeling that they all support each other.
Saya: How much did you ship Go Yoo-sun and the CEO by the end?
Anisa: Oh my God, they were so cute!
Saya: And also I loved that the CEO, similar to Touch Your Heart’s CEO – and I liked that these two were sort of concurrently airing, because we’ve got these two really good CEO’s, so you had – you know that conversation that he has with Go Yoo-sun at the end, where he is like – he accepts the way she is – you know the whole button-sewing thing – and where he was saying that it’s okay for her to be her, because she brings balance to the rest of them. He was telling her she was important the way she was – that she didn’t need to change for anybody, and she certainly didn’t need to change for the company, and that because of her the company had prospered. Because a lot of the time the impression that we might have formed ourselves up until that point at least would be that she is rigid, she’s inflexible – she should be more flexible, she should perhaps be more compassionate and forgiving and that kind of thing, but what he tells her is no, actually we need you to be like this because it keeps all of us in check, it keeps the company moving. And like you know that there is that point early on where Eun-ho tells her don’t forget that the company is made up of people, and it’s a really nice counterpoint to that, in that the company is still a company – it’s a machine that has to operate for the benefit of those people even if it sometimes seems like it’s heartless.
Anisa: Yeah, and it was such a good thing – you could see – and the actress is so good, you could just see in her eyes that that was the best thing that she ever heard from a man in her life and also from like a coworker – it was just so nice.
Saya: And – you couldn’t have said a better thing to her to sort of, just totally get her.
Anisa: It was perfect. It was a perfect moment. Paroma, we’ve been talking and…
Paroma: No, it’s because in the last Yak, I think I kind of spilled all my feelings about this drama, so yeah, I’m enjoying this in many ways.
Saya: I was going to say, there’s one thing that we didn’t mention last Yak which is the sort of inside look at the publishing world that this drama gives you. We have a lot of dramas that are sort set in publishing companies, but I don’t think any of them have sort of focused so lovingly on books and the process of creating books and the written word.
Anisa: It was a love letter to books.
Saya: As a reader, it’s just such a – I loved that part of it so much.
Paroma: But also, I liked how they showed that Gyeoroo was one kind of publishing house, and almost like an idealistic version of what a publishing house should be and then when Dan-i gets kicked out, or rather she leaves because there is that humiliating situation, and then the director gives her an opportunity – which was a moment I loved – here is a woman who worked by the book and pretty much pushed Dan-i out of the publishing house – she wanted Dan-i to leave at that moment, because in her mind she was making everyone else uncomfortable, working as a lower level staff when her qualifications were so much higher. That’s a hierarchical problem to be addressed elsewhere, but I loved that even though she went by the book, she had sympathy enough and she saw enough potential in Dan-i that she called her and she was like – here is a small publishing house, start here – work here for a year at least – it’s going to be a struggle, but you know, just stick it out. Then Dan-i goes in there with all of this optimism and within a couple of weeks she’s just kind of done – it’s like the worst that a publishing house can possibly be.
Saya: That was funny.
Paroma: I liked that they didn’t just show us the blossoms and the rainbows, as if the entire publishing house is full of book lovers and nobody tries to take advantage of people.
Anisa: I think the only other two things that I want to add are, from the beginning, I didn’t feel much chemistry between the leads, like, they’re good actors –
Paroma: What? I’m outraged!
Anisa: Yeah, I’m sorry, okay. Sorry. I mean, they are really good actors, and they did a good job and the writing was really well done, but for me personally, I didn’t feel as much chemistry, for me, like, the whole ensemble cast was what I really enjoyed. And then the second thing is that, as expected, the whole thing with the writer that disappeared and he was like secretly Ji Seo-jin’s dad – this whole plotline, that was not satisfying for me – there was no emotional connection, everything had already happened off screen, we don’t know this guy – we don’t have any connection to him. It was just this really weird, unnecessary plotline that – I don’t know.
Paroma: I have a theory about that. I have a theory about this. I was thinking about why it was necessary for the writer to include this plotline, because it was stitched together so well. This sort of hidden writer thing, where Gyeoroo is this misunderstood publishing house by the rest of the industry and nobody knows the secret of where this writer went and just – it was unnecessary and had nothing to do with the rest of the plot, so I was wondering why, and it occurs to me that Romance is a Bonus Book is essentially Dan-i’s story – there is an ensemble cast, but it is Dan-i’s story – it’s not Eun-ho’s story. The hero of a drama needs to have his own hero moment.
Anisa: Does he?
Paroma: Yes. In all of dramaland, show me a drama where he doesn’t. My point is that in Dan-i’s journey, usually heroes – they get their hero moments by rescuing the heroine – that might be in the workplace, that might be outside, that might be in social situations or in personal situations, but they get their hero moments like that. But here, Dan-i doesn’t let this guy – it’s not even that Dan-i doesn’t let this guy – Cha Eun-ho’s character, he would not interfere in her journey, he is a supportive guy and to be that supportive guy – that absolutely robs him of the formulaic hero moments that he would have otherwise gotten. Which by the way, as we said in the last Yak – Lee Dong-wook’s character gets. He gets all of the hero moments while saving the heroine. Cha Eun-ho doesn’t get that here, so he needed his own hero moment, and he gets his hero moment by saving this dude with Alzheimer’s who we know nothing about and then quietly suffers being misunderstood for years, yeah. That’s my theory.
Anisa: Yeah, that makes sense, but it doesn’t make me like it…
Saya: I actually was quite moved by that part.
Paroma: It was well-written, but it was completely unessential – if you had taken that plotline completely out of the book, nothing would have changed. Another thing is, Romance is a Bonus Book felt like a book to me. I was reading a really well-written book.
Anisa: You are right, it does feel like a book. It does.
Saya: And that’s intentional – it wants to.
Anisa: All the best parts happen through dialogue and in your head, from reading things on the screen or from characters reading things out loud to you.
Saya: Can I add one last thing?
Paroma: Sure and then I’ll add one last thing.
Saya: So, just to be somewhere in the middle of the two of you about the chemistry, I didn’t feel like they had no chemistry – I just felt like, did you guys finish watching Boyfriend?
Anisa: No, I did not.
Paroma: Which one is Boyfriend? Oh, Encounter! No, I didn’t watch the last two episodes.
Saya: I haven’t actually finished it, but I picked it up again this week when I was like, well I’ve finished all my dramas, what can I watch now, and I just picked it up again from the masquerade ball – and you know Park Bo-gum and his baby face and the whole the way that Song Hye-kyo looks like his noona – in the same way here – she looks like she is his older brother – er, sister. Not his brother!
Anisa: Her haircut isn’t that bad.
Saya: The other thing I think about is that it’s true that that is a dynamic that comes out, not just in them but in a couple of other couples I can’t think of right now – I don’t feel like it is always necessary for there to be some sort of electric chemistry for people to have that type of relationship with each other. Again, also A Poem a Day, I feel like it’s part of being an adult and making choices about your relationship, is that you don’t rely on one dynamic, whether you have physical chemistry or you know, chemistry that appears romantic to other people, because you choose who you get to be with, so even if you do look like somebody’s baby brother, you can still have relationship, because that’s the great thing about being a human being, being able to make choices.
Anisa: That’s true. I guess the only thing, when you are spending like 16 hours being on the side of wanting the couple to get together, if they have chemistry it just makes it a lot more enjoyable.
Saya: But did they have no chemistry, or they didn’t have the kind of chemistry that you wanted them to have?
Anisa: I think they had a very low-key kind of friendly, nice chemistry, but it wasn’t electric – which was fine. I wasn’t upset by it or anything, I’m just saying it’s not one of the romances that is going to go down in my book of epic ones.
Paroma: Ok you guys can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand right now. Laughs. My point was exactly what Saya said, that – about their chemistry – the thing is, Anisa, maybe the kind of chemistry that you want between romantic pairs is not the kind of warm, comfortable, familiar dynamic that these two had – which is something that I really enjoyed here. The thing is that initially their relationship was all about whether Cha Eun-ho gets the love of the girl that he has loved for decades. That was something that 60-70% of the drama, but once he starts realizing that she does care about him and he confidently starts wooing her, I loved how he –
Saya: Like he turns into a man to her.
Paroma: Yeah, he was – he became a man to her, but also that he – nothing much changed. They were still friends. It’s not like suddenly –
Saya: It got better, with an extra dimension rather than –
Paroma: What I mean like that is –till now Cha Eun-ho confesses his feelings to Dan-i and made it obvious, it was always him looking at her – and willing to support her through anything and she knew that he was there, it was a very sub-conscious, accepted thing, it was – that was great – but now she’s actively looking at him. When she suffers a blow in the workplace, she comes home to sort of lay her head on his chest, it just – and I love childhood to adult romances – I love that trope, like friends to lovers, and this has been done especially well, because they have kept that comfort that comes with familiarity and with caring about someone so much that you accept their flaws and their goodness and everything, and there’s very little new to discover about them and still you find them so fascinating – it’s just all of that, put together – I just think that their romance really worked for me because they got those elements right, so even though I wasn’t feeling or sensing much physical chemistry – I didn’t need that, I wasn’t looking for that in this romance – this was the perfect romance for me. I am going to rewatch this.
Anisa: No, I mean I agree with everything that you said – the acting and the writing was really, really good, I just wasn’t feeling it.
Paroma: No, I mean I’m going to rewatch this for the romance. I am going to rewatch this for Cha Eun-ho’s amazingly long crush on her and the many ways he’s expressed his love for her and she never understood and that amazing moment when she did understand and then she started noticing more and more of his gestures, I loved all of it.
Anisa: I’m happy for you, I’m just – in the end it’s just a personal preference. I appreciate that you are trying to convince me but –
Paroma: No, no no – I completely understand what you are saying, I’m just fangirling because I love it.
Anisa: And I agree that it was written beautifully.
Saya: And it’s a great drama for Lee Jong-suk to go to army on.
Paroma: Oh, yeah.
Saya: Bye Lee Jong-suk see you in a few years!
Anisa: We’ll see you when you come back.
Paroma: So, Saya was telling us last time we couldn’t include it in the last Yak, but I think he has some kind of an accident – he hurt himself at some point, so he’s not in regular active duty, I had to cut it out for timing.
Saya: He had an ACL injury – a car accident when he was young and has a serious knee injury– so he can’t do active duty, he’s in civil duty.
Anisa: We lost him but Im Siwan is back, yay!
Saya: It doesn’t even feel like two years, and I still haven’t forgiven him for King Loves.
Anisa: Oh, I never watched that so all I have is my love for Misaeng – that’s the only thing that I’m going to acknowledge
Saya: My dislike for that show has not faded enough for him to be back so soon.
Anisa: He went to army and you still didn’t forgive him? What kind of kdrama fan are you?
Saya: He didn’t go to army for me.
Anisa: Yeah, but there’s like an inherent forgiveness that is wrapped up in army – that is just the cultural momentum of going to the army.
Paroma: I have a question for you, recently there was some discussion about why Korean men go to army, why it is mandatory – it is because North Korea and South Korea are in a state of war, if they do become friends – do celebrities stop going to army?
Saya: We talked about this – maybe we didn’t talk about it in recording, but we talked about this with Odessa Jones, maybe on Twitter a while back? About the possibility of officially ending the war and that they were in talks about that sometime last year.
Anisa: They have shortened the length of how long you have to go by a few months.
Saya: It’s like twenty months or something.
Anisa: It used to be more – like two and a half years, but I don’t know how quickly, if they – I mean reunification is not going to happen that quickly, and also…
Paroma: But I’m just talking about general peace, and if it is peace then technically you don’t need these young men to go to the army.
Saya: Eventually, but I think we are a long way from that. Still.
Anisa: And there’s a lot of – there’s a lot tied up in the military and the way that it’s tied up in manhood, and the way that it’s treated in society.
Paroma: Exactly, so in my head I’m thinking if it stops becoming mandatory for a period – will agencies still send their stars to the army just to give their fans that feeling of – oh you are going to the army!
Anisa: Definitely not. If it is not mandatory – they will never go if it’s not mandatory.
Paroma: It usually does good stuff for that career.
Saya: Only in that they are fulfilling their duties of society because to shirk it is –
Anisa: I think it’s a lose-lose honestly. Because if you go, you are not going to be in the public eye for two and a half years and people forget about you, if you don’t go, everyone hates you because you tried to get out of it – so unless you are like Yoo Seung-ho and you’re like a child star and everyone knows and loves you – I mean, look what happened to Im Joo-hwan. He has never reached the same level of stardom after coming back from the army – he just plays second lead roles now, and that makes me genuinely sad because I love him as a lead and he hasn’t really done any lead roles since he came back from the army. But anyway, sorry, I’m making this too long.
Paroma: No, I’m the one who did the digression.
Anisa: And obviously, there are geopolitical analysts and people who know better about the military and politics
Saya: You are our resident political analyst though. We read all Kpop and Soompi and you are like reading – I don’t know…
Paroma: She’s reading thick books, written by very –
Anisa: Stuff about colonial modernity and yeah – it’s lots of fun.
Paroma: Ok, and on that note, we move on to Because it’s the First Time.
Saya: Okay, when Romance is a Bonus Book finished I was on this like emotional high – I need something else that feels just like this, so of course I researched the writer. So Because it’s the First Time is a 2015 youth drama that aired on the cable channel OnStyle – it’s from the same writer as Romance is a Bonus Book Jung Hyun-jung, and because you know we talked about her other works in the I Need Romance franchise and stuff like that, but this is like a little bit different, and so I was just checking out the Wiki page, and hopping from drama to drama, and I landed on this one and then I saw the list of actors: there’s Minho and I liked him from Hwarang, there’s Kim Min-jae from, you know, various things, there’s Lee Yi-kyung, there’s even tiny Jung Yoo-jin in this – and Park So-dam…I was like I know all of these names now, or I recognize all of these faces, so I started watching and I was watching the first episode and I had the strangest feeling that I’d seen it before and then I carried on watching and was like – I’ve definitely seen this before. I have absolutely seen this before. I then looked at what year it was made and I looked on my list, I keep a very meticulous list of what I watch now and it wasn’t even on my list – and I was like, clearly I’ve dropped it by episode one. I must have watched it when one episode was out, maybe, and I wanted to drop it the same reason I did the first time probably was that the heroine – I didn’t’ really enjoy her Park So Dam being sort of the candiest of candies – and I don’t know, there’s just something – maybe it’s that ugly sort of pixie, helmut cut that I just really don’t like, but I just didn’t like her character at all, but now I’m kind of stuck through two and a half episodes just because I like the rest of the cast, and it must have been that the first time I watched it I didn’t know who anyone else was – the only person I would have recognized then would have been…no I don’t recognize any of them. But, I don’t even fully know what the drama is about.
Anisa: Why are you watching it? [all laugh]
Saya: You know, writers, they tend to bring the same sort of quality to most of their works and it is in the same line – it’s romance and it’s youth romance, what’s not to like, I love youth romance. And Lee Yi-kyung is still a struggling actor in there –
Anisa: Oh, his character! I thought you were making a judgment about his acting.
Saya: No, no no, I really like him!
Anisa: I like him too.
Saya: So, yeah – I’m pushing through – I’m watching it at 1.5 speed or something so, I’ll give it another two episodes, because sometimes it does take a lot of episodes to get good, but I guess I’ll come back to you.
Saya: That was a very unexciting drama.
Anisa: Last Yak we talked about 1 Night and 2 Days, RIP, and I was saying how much I enjoyed Yoon Shi-yoon as one of the cast members on 1 Night and 2 Days. For people who aren’t aware, after the whole Burning Sun scandal erupted, Jung Joon-young was immediately dropped from the show; but then they were like we are not going to air for a couple of weeks; first they were just going to edit him out and just air what they had already recorded; then they were not going to air for a couple of weeks because they thought it would be too insensitive, then they – this insignificant gambling scandal came out about Cha Tae-hyun and Kim Jun-ho who are two of the other cast members who I actually like, and it was like an informal game of golf where they had gambled a few thousand won I think and then I think they apologized and quit all of their shows, and now it’s been indefinitely canceled, and it’s been blocked on their YouTube channel – remember last time I was saying that they had made it available for international people to watch with subtitles? You can no longer see it on YouTube – they’ve blocked all of those videos.
Saya: How do you feel about that? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Anisa: I mean, I think it’s a little strange to block the old videos because it deletes all the community and the comments and the views, it’s like invalidating that experience which a lot of people really loved, and like Season 3 has a really passionate following and the fan base is really strong, and I personally believe that it’s been the best out of all three seasons. I don’t know, I didn’t watch very much of the previous two seasons, but I felt like – the cast had really great chemistry – and Kim Joo-hyuk, his last few years of life, a lot of that is captured on here and I don’t know, there were two or three [memorial] episodes – everything is gone because Jung Joon-young was on there from the very first episode of season 3. But on the other hand, I understand their position too, because it is such a terrible and disgusting violation, and for them to still air those episodes or to make them available…
Saya: And I suppose they make money from that as well?
Paroma: Yeah, so they wouldn’t want to profit off those episodes. That makes sense.
Anisa: So it’s just sad because I got so much enjoyment – that was like the one variety show that I really loved and watched consistently – but on the other hand, bringing him to justice is so much more important than any of this.
Paroma: You now what is really weird – I was – because of my ear infection I was editing this episode really late, and by that time the Burning Sun thing had already come out, and I was listening to you talk about this show at that point and I was going to say damn this is going to hit Anisa so much.
Anisa: I was listening to it yesterday and I was just feeling kind of sad, yeah.
Paroma: I think Saya said it really well, that it’s kind of like a time capsule situation – that segment.
Anisa: I was listening to it and then I posted on Twitter – this unintentionally became my last goodbye. It is what it is – what you can do – it’s like horrible men ruining things for everyone else, that’s not a new thing, but it’s sort of my long intro to talking about why I started watching Your Honor, which last month Saya you said you should watch Your Honor, if you miss seeing Yoon Shi-yoon on screen – it took away the bad taste in my mouth from The Best Hit, which left me extremely ragey and upset – and it was just a really nice, it’s not like super intense, but it has enough drama and enough thrills to keep you engaged, and I cared about all of the conflicts and him as himself and him as his twin brother – Yoon Shi-yoon as the two different brothers, you instantly knew who he was playing in that moment.
Saya: He plays identical twins.
Anisa: He plays identical twins and one of them is the hero, so – in the beginning – when he is playing the hero he mugs for the camera so much…
Saya: Some people didn’t like that, but I found it really funny.
Anisa: I usually hate that, but he’s just so charismatic and so funny, I didn’t mind – I was just like, Ah, I love you. So, he can do a really good job and he really sells the emotion, and he really sells the comedy and the heroine was generally very good – I liked her a lot, I liked that she had her own journey, I remember you had mentioned that while you were watching it – they did a good job with the sexual assault and the harassment storylines, and I agree – they really did a good job in showing how workplace harassment plays out in real life, and the consequences for a person who actually tries to get their rapist convicted. and how humiliating and horrifying the whole process of going to court can be, and how difficult it is to actually get justice, and how these jerks with money can just get away with all of this, and the fallout from that – so I really appreciated how well that was done, in contrast to some other dramas that aired in 2018.
Saya: Actually concurrently airing.
Anisa: So yeah, it was just a really nice love story, a nice journey for the main character who goes from this gangster to someone who has a sense of justice and really wants to make the world a better place – I liked the twin brothers storyline with his girlfriend/ ex/ I don’t know what – the reporter, I liked her arc, she even had her own little journey at work as an announcer, so yeah, it was just really well done. The mom was trash, but you know, that actress always plays terrible moms. Yeah, I highly recommend it – it’s an enjoyable watch that’s not really stressful if you have a lot of stress going on in your life, like me.
Saya: Do we have any – we have one more right?
Paroma: Yeah, this is a web drama that I picked up – haha – just today – I was browsing Viki – the drama is called I Picked Up a Celebrity on the Street. Do you guys remember Kim Ga-eun from I Hear Your Voice?
Saya: Oh yeah, I love her!
Paroma: She was a bit of a bully – the one with the fake blonde hair – she’s adorable, she’s always a good actress – this isn’t the first time I’ve seen her after that – I think I might have seen her in something in the middle –
Saya: Because This Life is the First – she was also in that – one of the friends.
Paroma: I don’t have any memory of her.
Saya: The long term couple –
Anisa: The couple that kept breaking up and getting back together.
Paroma: Yeah, I did not like that couple. No one did. Okay, so the thing is – she is doing this – she’s playing this character – she’s a contract employee, she’s up for the permanent employee position but like her boss is really shit – something goes wrong in her workplace and she gets blamed for it. They basically make her the scapegoat; she gets fired right before she gets put in a permanent position – so she’s in this horrible mood, and she is ready to kill her boss, and it just so happens that her company has a contract with this really famous actor, singer guy who is played by Sung Hoon – and when they are showing his fan meets, they are actually showing clips from Sung Hoon’s real fanmeets – which is kind of a cute meta thing.
I really like Sung Hoon’s character – so the first actual acting moment that you have, he’s walking sort of in the airport back from a flight or something and his fans are sort of rushing towards him and the airport guards are trying to stop them from getting to him and one of the guards accidentally grabs one of the girls’ waist – which is not actually that harmful – but he goes sort of reaches out – and pulls the girl to him and loudly declares that I will not tolerate anyone misbehaving with my fans – and that becomes an internet sensation moment and he’s rewatching that clip later on and he’s asking the managers and stuff – has this gone viral – are their articles out about this yet? I like his character. Another thing, he is in a contract with the company where Kim Ga Eun’s character works – and she’s in a murderous mood because her boss threw her under the bus and she is super, super drunk. She is just about ready to do murder, what she does is she takes off her shoe and kind of hits her boss on her head – but it turns out it isn’t her boss it’s the actor, and she recognizes him and she thinks that he’s dead so she has to hide his body, so she takes him back to her place and keeps him hostage so he can’t run to the cops.
Saya: As you do.
Paroma: As you do. I know – but in my head I was going – Ahh this is going to be Stokholm Syndrome story and I don’t even know if it is or not, but the first episode – the production value in this thing is amazing – I have not watched a lot of web dramas, but this one is – I’m just – I don’t know much about how the story develops henceforth, but the acting is top notch – the strong 2 leads- I’m looking forward to their chemistry – but what I have to talk about is the intro – I had already read the synopses so I had already knew this part – about the first episode and I went into this expecting sort of a rom comedy situation right? But the intro is that of a thriller procedural. It completely throws you off, and when the drama starts it starts with the moment where she’s standing in this darkened alleyway with this man laying at her feet with blood pouring out of his head and it’s very noir, and she has this part in her head where she’s like – murdering someone is like breaking a beloved doll, and you don’t actually feel any guilt until that moment when it occurs to you – what if mom finds out, and that’s the moment when you start panicking – and I loved it – it was so great. I can’t explain it – the intro was so amazing.
Saya: I’m looking at the poster and I presume this is like the scene where Sung Hoon’s body is lying on the floor of what looks like a rooftop apartment and she’s dressed up in goggles and gloves, and
Paroma: It’s very wonky and weird and I love it.
Anisa: It sounds nuts, but actually it sounds great. Also, I love Sung Hoon so much.
Paroma: I watched him in My Secret Romance, I haven’t watched him – I think I watched the first 6 episodes – a drama that is so tropey and is so 2000’s that it was a bit painful for me to watch, but I loved him in it – I really really liked him.
Anisa: I first saw him in Five Children and that’s like a 50 episode family drama, but his loveline was with – what’s her name – the female lead from 30 but 17, Shin Hye-sun. That was like her breakout role as the youngest daughter – and her love interest was Sung Hoon who was this famous golf player. He was so funny in that, and their love story was so cute – everything about that was great.
Paroma: Is the drama worth watching, because I will watch it for these two?
Anisa: Yeah, it’s actually really good – I like the main couple, the third secondary couple was eh – but the actors were really good so it worked, but the parents get a little interfere-y and stuff, but it’s mainly the story of a woman who’s divorced and she has three kids and she meets this man who’s a widower and he has two kids, and it’s like their love story of finding each other again – if you are in the mood for a family drama – it does drag in certain parts, but you can just skip those.
Saya: Did you know that Sung Hoon is 36? He looks 25.
Anisa: He does. I really like him as an actor. Usually people who are that good looking are not that funny. He is also in the atrocious, terrible, awful drama Noble My Love. Don’t watch it. It’s awful. The acting is so painful, the writing is so cringeworthy. The production quality is so terrible. It’s so problematic in terms of the way that they treat each other. It’s the worst – don’t ever watch it.
Saya: Shall I read the two line summary – Lee Kang Hoon is a wealthy heir who’s attractive but he doesn’t care for the feelings of other people. Cha Yoon-so is the heroine who is a cheerful veterinarian who runs her own animal hospital. After the two meet in an unexpected crisis, can feelings of dislike turn into feelings of love?
Anisa: Just imagine the worst possible version of that story and that’s it.
Saya: Yeah, because that sounds quite typical, doesn’t it?
Anisa: Yeah, like he treats her like an insect for the first half of the drama…she – it’s just the worst – I’m not even gonna talk about it.
Paroma: Do you guys think that that trope has died finally in dramas?
Saya: It will never die…as long as there are teenage fangirls. No offense to teenagers.
Anisa: It hasn’t died out, but at least it’s not the dominant narrative anymore. Before it was hard to find something that wasn’t like that. Like ten years ago.
Paroma: We’ve talked about the rise of the beta male and all of that, and it’s not just the rise of the beta males, it’s more like you have the alpha males, but they take out their testosterone-y emotions on other stuff instead of the heroine.
Anisa: Even when the dramas do have that kind of hero, there is more of a tendency to be self-aware about how problematic that is, and they’re actually going to be on a journey to become better, whereas I think before a lot of dramas were just like – this is just who he is and he’s just going to stay like this – he’s gonna fall in love with her, and it’s hot and there’s nothing wrong with it and she’s just going to turn into a doormat who like, follows him around like a puppy, and that’s the end of their love story. I don’t see that as much, I still do see that he’s terrible in the first couple of episodes and he gets to redeem himself – that’s still a pretty popular trope.
Paroma: Oh – okay, for instance – Legal High – you have Jin Goo who is mean and dismissive of everyone, but you have Seo Eun-soo’s character who would be a doormat-y candy character in other dramas, I guess, but here she’s the one that’s learning martial arts and Jin Goo’s the one who’s terrified of being beaten up – anyone who threatens him – he just turns into a little boy, so it is just like – they play with these characters now, the old tropes.
Anisa: Yeah, there is more nuance, but I do feel like in some ways the candy chaebol has gotten enough of a criticism that now they’ve shifted to like really smart guy – or like the experienced, older guy and the young rookie who are in the same workplace, or like, he’s her boss or like he’s the sunbae and she’s the hoobae – I think there is more of that, so there is still like a power differential, but it is sort of…
Paroma: Which is why I love – whenever they have a noona romance because the power differential gets corrected a bit and I like that there are more and more noona romances with every year.
Anisa: Yeah, somewhat – although, even when there is a noona romance, it always has to be that she is in a subordinate position to him and he is like better off in every way and the only thing that she has over him is age.
Saya: Not always. There’s Witch’s Romance.
Paroma: Yeah, there is Encounter. Boyfriend.
Anisa: Yeah, but those are unusual – you have to admit that most of the time…
Paroma: Probably…at least at this point that is still sort of the norm. I would like to see more dramas where the woman is in the more established position and the guy is struggling as he should Dal-ja’s Spring – again- the guy is struggling there.
Anisa: Dal-jas Spring was so good. I do I do is also one of those where the woman is in the position of power – I mean I know that wasn’t a great drama, but there were things that I really enjoyed about it…so – it was bad though, I know. It was one of those where I knew it was bad but I was enjoying it anyway. Just Kim Sun-ah as that character was such a killer in the best way – she was so good. She’s basically this really powerful CEO at a shoe company and he’s like this unemployed bum and they have like a one-night stand and she ends up pregnant and then he like ends up running into her in like a workplace environment – or like he works with his dad as a cobbler and somehow they cross paths, I don’t know, but anyway – it’s a whole thing.
Saya: It actually doesn’t sound bad, apart from your warning.
Anisa: It wasn’t a bad concept, but but Im Soo-hyang was the second lead and she was really vapid and terrible, it just wasn’t well written, sadly, but there were a lot of things that I liked about it, but anyway, I don’t recommend it so please don’t go watch it.
Paroma: All that and then you end with…I don’t recommend it.
Anisa: Well, I guess that’s what I’m saying is like I haven’t really found a lot of satisfying, good dramas where the woman is older and she is also not like in a really disadvantaged position, at least in the beginning. It is like they have to balance out the fact that she is older and she somehow has power by making him richer, more successful, better looking – you know, all of those things.
Paroma: We can hope for – from those dramas that have built up certain tropes that we never expected to see in these dramas, we can hope for even better ones in the future.
Saya: Yeah, like every drama paves the way for a better drama.
Anisa: Agree, for sure.
Saya: Okay, I think that wraps up our drama list, doesn’t it?
Anisa: It does.
Paroma: Pretty much.
Anisa: Before we move on, I haven’t actually watched this, but I’ve been hearing pretty good things about Spring turns to Spring – I think that is what it’s called. [Editor’s Note: This was my mistake. The drama I meant was The Light in Your Eyes]
Saya: It’s also known as Radiant.
Anisa: Okay, that’s the one I really want to watch.
Paroma: This is the one we were making fun of about amazing women and…
Anisa: …which one is not like the others? But, I’m definitely going to watch this because I’ve heard so many good things about it – I’m going to watch that because I know a lot of people have been loving it.
Saya: I’m planning to watch this as well.
Paroma: Yeah, now that my two, kind of, favorite dramas are done. This is it – 2019 has peaked with Romance is a Bonus Book.