Freitag, 26. Mai 2017

The Suspicious Housekeeper

수상한 가정부 (The Suspicious Housekeeper; formerly known as House Keeper Park Bok Nyeo) is the South Korean remake of the Japanese drama series 家政婦のミタ (kaseifu no mita; I'm Mita, Your Housekeeper). It was aired on SBS from September 23rd to November 26th 2013 and therefore consists of 20 episodes with an average duration of 60 minutes.

Story: Woo Sun-young, mother of Han-gyeol, Du-gyeol, Se-gyeol and Hye-gyeol and wife of Eun Sang-chul suddenly passes away. 49 days after her funeral Sang-chul tells his children that he hired a housekeeper to help them out while he is busy at work.
Park Bok-nyeo is an extremely serious person that never smiles, has all sorts of things in her bag and does everything she is ordered to do - going as far as killing when she is ordered to do that.
All of a sudden the family receives letters that their new housekeeper is a murderer. The children try to figure out what happened on their own after a fight with their father but even though they keep on following Park Bok-nyeo, Du-gyeol, Se-gyeol and Hye-gyeol fail to find out about her secrets. Bok-nyeo threatens to quit when the children won't stop asking her private questions so that the family who learned to appreciate their housekeeper as a kind of second mother, especially Hye-gyeol, stop and ask Bok-nyeo to stay. But the curiosity stays for sure.
At first this story really sounded interesting to me, especially the title. I never watched the Japanese version so I can't compare them at all and didn't know what I was getting myself into. This story itself is like a rollercoaster - at first it goes up all the way just to let you gain speed during the first drop. When that excitement disappears you have some time to calm down and just let it flow before it picks up speed again to get you to a second exciting point - and after that it slows down and slowly takes you to the end. This was my impression after 11 episodes and after finishing it I can say that the second "drop" is actually really interesting and probably one of the reasons why I kept watching. The main problem I have with this drama, however, that the slow paced parts of the track are just too much. There are so many stories and you know they are just supposed to make this drama longer. It cannot keep up its pace for 20 episodes and that makes it lose some quality.

Cast: Choi Ji-woo as Park Bok-nyeo. Thinking about it Park Bok-nyeo is not the most exciting but probably the most developed character. The background story and the effects she experienced all make sense and I couldn't help but pity her. As for the acting, I think it was outstanding. I see why people might disagree with me but emotionless acting to me would be incredibly difficult. Always maintaining the exact same expression for - just guessing, I don't remember the exact episode - 10 episodes is extremely hard to do. Still, the chemistry (not in a romantic way) she had with the children, especially the youngest daughter, made it seem as if there were some feelings shown. It is difficult to explain but it really impressed me.
Lee Sung-jae as Eun Sang-chul. As a character I still don't know what I should think about him but the development the character went through - from a terrible husband and father to an actually caring person who tries to do what could be best for his children - was a huge step. So I kinda admired the character in that way. From one of my most hated characters he made it to one of my favorites. As for the acting, it seemed true to its nature. Lee Sung-jae was good in this role but I wish he would use stronger facial expressions from time to time. However, it was still a solid and actually good performance.
Kim So-hyun as Eun Han-gyeol. Han-gyeol is a typical teenage girl going through puberty and her first love while being the oldest daughter of the household and somehow taking the role of the mother and a student before Park Bok-nyeo starts to work for the family. The rebel character actually suited Kim So-hyun and her expressions, especially the huge problem with her father, were good. I enjoyed her acting in this drama and don't think they could've found a better actress for this role.
Chae Sang-woo as Eun Du-gyeol. As the oldest son he feels like he needs to act as the head of the household when his father is gone. However, his biggest issue is that he feels like he can't do anything and that gives him quite a hard time. I would say he is going through puberty as well and has to find himself and his dreams. Chae Sang-woo did well in this role, playing sometimes the tough guy and sometimes the emotional boy Du-gyeol is according to his age. So he was good in this role.
Nam Da-reum as Eun Se-gyeol. The younger brother is the opposite of Du-gyeol. Se-gyeol can't fight but is extremely good at studying and wants to make his deceased mom proud while being probably the most rational sibling in this drama. I really imagined Nam Da-reum to be Se-gyeol. Maybe it just suits his character, maybe he's just a good young actor but Se-gyeol was great.
Kang Ji-woo as Eun Hye-gyeol. The youngest sibling, Hye-gyeol, suffers the most after losing their mother. Her character is heartbroken and accepts Park Bok-nyeo as a "second" mother soon. While sometimes children can be quite annoying it was heartwrenching to watch her in this drama. Kang Ji-woo is incredibly cute but she did so well in this drama and was either getting along quite well with Choi Ji-woo or they both are just great actresses. I sometimes wonder how child actors even manage to deliver really good performances but she did.
Other actors in this drama include Wang Ji-hye, Song Jong-ho, Jung Moon-sung, Park Geun-hyung, Shim Yi-young, Kim Hae-sook and Jang Seo-won.

Soundtrack: Actually the soundtrack of this drama doesn't include many songs. About the instrumentals I really loved the one playing everytime Park Bok-nyeo was about to appear - I guess it's one of the Park Bok-nyeo themes.
As for the songs sung for this drama by idol singers my favorite is "Twilight" by Yoo Sung-eun. Except for that, Lim Kim sang a song titled "부탁할게요 (I'm Asking You)" which I personally liked, too. The song I can't stand, however, is sadly the one on the drama performed by Kim So-hyun and the band. I don't know why but I'm not a huge fan of her singing or the song.

I see why the rating might seem bad but it's mostly because of the long times without anything happening that was worth noting. I found myself on my phone way too often while just listening to what was said but this drama failed to keep me focussed. Now you can say that it is just not the perfect drama for me - while I love the mystery and suspense I found myself bored by the daily life of the family and the hint of romance that were supposed to be there but probably wasn't. And for the story itself 20 episodes were too much, 14 to 16 would've been completely fine. The length however might be the main problem about the episodes that were just used to fill in without anything, really. Plus, I personally found the first two episodes incredibly boring so I wasn't sure if I should continue watching at all. I'm still glad I did though as this drama has more to it than one expects.
Recommended to fans of family and melodramas. According to what I heard and read the Japanese version is much better so if you know and liked that maybe you should skip the Korean version as most people were disappointed.

Freitag, 19. Mai 2017

It's Okay, That's Love

괜찮아, 사랑이야 (It's Okay, That's Love) is a South Korean drama series that aired on SBS from July 23rd to September 11th 2014. It consists of 16 episodes with a duration around 58 minutes per episode.

Story: Ji Hae-soo is a psychiatrist in a hospital in Korea. Due to some events in the past she is scared of intimacy. Her personality as well as her trauma make it difficult for her to have a relationship that lasts for a long time.
On the other hand Jang Jae-yeol is a popular novelist who had his ex-girlfriend plagiarizing his novel. Instead of getting back at her he cancels the lawsuit and decides to go back to writing. A construction for three months starts in his home and he moves into his house in Hongdae for the time being - which eventually makes Hae-soo his roommate along with Hae-soo's senior Jo Dong-min and Park Soo-kwang, a young man who suffers from Tourette syndrome.
As the four of them live together they eventually get to know each other and despite not really liking each other at first Hae-soo and Jae-yeol fall in love. Over time, they help each other to heal their scars from past traumas and tragic events within their families.
Personally I thought this story line sounds like the most basic K-Drama stuff you can find. Just by that description and by knowing K-Dramaland I had an idea where this would go and had pretty much 90% of the story figured out between episodes 2 and 6 which is actually sad. This drama in itself was kinda obvious or maybe it was just me. While I kinda do like the idea of two messed up characters getting together and helping each other this was just turned into the basic romance and especially Hae-soo's character was a victim of poor writing in my humble opinion. While I liked her at first I came to hate her as the story continued. In the early episodes, the story was quite fast-paced which made it very interesting and kept me going but towards the end it turned out so slow that I found myself getting annoyed over it.

Cast: Jo In-sung as Jang Jae-yeol. While his character is the typical good-looking player in the beginning it turns out soon enough that there is more than meets the eye. I do see his character to be one of the better developed ones in this drama, especially regarding the events of the past. It seems like the writers were really thinking about how his character could or should be developed. As an actor Jo In-sung definitely did a great job portraying him. The acting felt real and I totally believed everything he said. Definitely a great actor in a great role.
Gong Hyo-jin as Ji Hae-soo. As some of you might now I love Gong Hyo-jin ever since Master's Sun and she is still one of my favorite actresses. But her character in this drama was okay in the beginning and started to turn into a stupid, useless crybaby female lead somewhere along the way. I do remember that it was the end of episode 6 and the beginning of episode 7 where I was close to yelling at my laptop because how blind and stupid can a person be?! After calming down I still continued to watch it and it got slightly better again but let's say I still can't bring myself to like her character in this drama. However, I see it more as a thing of bad writing. The writer(s) probably didn't really know what to do anymore and fell into the cliché-trap.
Sung Dong-il as Jo Dong-min. The old man in the household, Jo Dong-min, is quite an interesting character. While he can be noisy and childish he also has a serious side to him that mainly shows when he's treating his patients. I totally enjoyed the acting of Sung Dong-il and think that this was a great show for him.
Lee Kwang-soo as Park Soo-kwang. How creative to turn the syllables of the actors name around if you can't think of a character name. Anyway, as a character Soo-kwang suffers from Tourette syndrome and therefore has trouble with females. But he loved Oh So-nyeo for quite some time and started to not only care for her but buy her a lot of things as well. Regarding the acting I actually enjoyed seeing Lee Kwang-soo in this drama. I don't know much about Tourette syndrome patients but it seemed like he really learned about his character and managed to make it seem real.
Jin Kyung as Dr. Lee Young-jin. I don't know much about her but I liked her acting. As a character Lee Young-jin goes through the struggle many women seem to know; choosing between your career or your own family. I felt like I could understand her and that this character really came to life so definitely kudos to the actress for doing such a good job.
Lee Sung-kyung as Oh So-nyeo. A pretty girl doing a lot of things she actually shouldn't do but she doesn't care. That's Oh So-nyeo. I think Lee Sung-kyung did well even though her character came off a little annoying and more than a little bit manipulative but then again it was probably again the writing and she didn't do a bad job in following what she was supposed to be like.
Other actors in this drama include Do Sang-woo, Do Kyung-soo, Yang Ik-joon, Tae Hang-ho and Cha Hwa-yeon.

Soundtrack: The OST of this drama actually includes quite a few huge names in the K-Pop and OST business like Davichi, Crush, Wheesung, Hong Dae-kwang, Yoon Mi-rae and M.C. The Max. The Korean song I probably like the most was Crush feat. Punch's "잠 못드는 밤 (Sleepless Night)". While I did enjoy the OST overall I have to say that the songs that stand out the most are not Korean songs and are actually in no way related to this drama. I'm talking about "Hero" by Family of the Year specifically. While I neither liked nor disliked the song before I still knew it (which 90% of the people commenting on Youtube didn't seem to do) I have it stuck in my head now.

Overall this drama was, and is, one of the most hyped dramas of 2014 and again it seems to be my own problem. I love the actors, I liked the idea but I literally ended up either yelling at my laptop or playing on my phone towards the end of the drama. And what I mean with my own problem is this; I dislike dramas most people love most of the time. And I like dramas people heavily criticize. Is it because of expectations? Possible, I was looking forward to watching this drama. But I couldn't bring myself to give it a better rating than 6.5, I even considered a worse rating with 5.5 or 5.0 for some time but I've seen much worse dramas.

Recommendation? I don't know. If you like a little bit of psychology, family issues and romcom than this might be a great option for you. I can't really explain what it is that makes me dislike this drama and it's hard to give a recommendation if you can't really find something to point out.

Freitag, 12. Mai 2017

Hyde, Jekyll, Me

Okay, at first I feel like I need to warn all of you. You will read my personal opinion on this drama below (I think I should change the style a bit but you will see that soon) but I've read quite mixed reviews about this drama.
This is solely my opinion in this entry. I see why some people maybe don't like it at all but I've seen much worse.

하이드 지킬, 나 (Hyde, Jekyll, Me) is a South Korean drama series that was aired on SBS from January 21st to March 26th and consists of 20 episodes. The drama is based on a webtoon.

Story: Gu Seo-jin is the Director of an amusement park called "Wonderland". He's very cold and rude towards most people while trying to please his father. Only very few people know that he suffers from DID, more commonly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. Robin, the second personality, is the total opposite of Gu Seo-jin; polite, always smiling, caring and "saving others is just his personality". Five years ago, Robin disappeared after an incident but suddenly he struggles to come through again on the same day Jang Ha-na arrives at Wonderland.
Jang Ha-na came back after spending five years in the USA to take her fathers' position in Wonder Circus, one of the attractions at Wonderland. Gu Seo-jin plans on closing the circus and firing the people working there but Jang Ha-na fights back as much as she can. Right on the day she arrives the fate of Gu Seo-jin and Jang Ha-na becomes more and more entangled as Ha-na is the only witness in the case of Dr. Kang Hee-ae, Gu Seo-jin's psychologist. Ha-na is the only one who saw the culprit and suddenly Gu Seo-jin needs her to find the doctor and finally get rid of his second personality.
- I personally don't know much about DID and how treatments work or the way people behave but I believe that this was just one point of the story and it was not totally ridiculous what happened, at least if you're not an expert. There is much more to it and while the writing could've been better it was quite nice to not have a purely evil second female lead. Also, the side stories where not the best but definitely interesting enough to make me finish this drama within 4(!) days. It is true that it loses its pace towards the end it turns more into a melodrama than the comedy drama it is supposed to be though. 

Cast: Hyun-bin as Gu Seo-jin and Robin. I'm not really sure what I should tell you about his acting. While he did have some chemistry with the female lead Robin and Ha-na seemed more like kids playing around in the beginning. Also, the character Robin seemed just overacted but that might be because of the writing. So between Ha-na and Robin there was no romantic chemistry whatsoever. On the other hand Gu Seo-jin's change was well-portrayed, and he did have a way better chemistry with her than Robin. I don't know, maybe two totally different personalities were a little bit too much for Hyun-bin as an actor but he was way more realistic as Gu Seo-jin, and it was way easier to believe it. He definitely improved towards the end as Robin, too, but I think it was not the best role for him.
Han Ji-min as Jang Ha-na was - excuse me for being straightforward - bad. Between 70% and 80% of the time she looked lost and dumbfounded. I kinda see that her character might have been confused often because of Robin and Gu Seo-jin but this definitely was not a good role for her. As mentioned above she does have some chemistry with Gu Seo-jin but it's not strong. Also, I did mind her character being a little bit slow and stupid partly. Again, something to criticize about the writing but it could've been slightly better if they chose another actress.
Lee Seung-joon as Secretary Kwon Young-chan was one of my favorite characters. He's caught between a fear of losing his job and his sympathy for Robin who was like a younger brother to him. As the responsible person trying to connect Ha-na with both worlds his acting was sometimes too much (I know, I'm repeating myself but writing - can't blame him for that) but in total his performance was one of the best ones.
Sung Joon as Yoon Tae-joo was the better villain in this. As he is a charismatic actor in a strong role he managed to shine in his spot as a side character. Now if you plan on watching this you won't understand why I wrote "villain" but just wait. At first I wasn't really suspicious of him but in the end this is a K-Drama and he started to seem too nice at some point.
Hyeri as Min Woo-jung was totally not my style. As a quirky, playful little girl she took over an annoying part at first but I believe she was supposed to be like that. She would be the one that is the closest to a second female lead but not as bad as others. I also think she had a great chemistry with Eun-chang.
Speaking of Lee Eun-chang, Lee Won-geun did a pretty good job in my opinion. Being part of the circus he met Min Woo-jung and eventually became the person watching over her. He was a ray of light more than once and definitely did a good job.
Han Sang-jin as Ryu Seung-yeon was - again - simply bad. Now I don't want to believe that it was actually the actor but the character and the way it was portrayed in the webtoon. As a villain I can't take him seriously, the music, the acting - he just seems like the "I-want-to-be-a-villain-and-I'm-jealous-as-hell-but-I-can't-do-it"-character you see in comics. A villain that is bad at being a villain.
Other actors in this drama include Lee Deok-hwa, Kwak Hee-sung (who is quite good-looking btw, need to check him out!), Oh Na-ra, Shim Eun-jung and Lee Joon-hyuk.

Sountrack: The very first thing I would like to say is that the instrumentals in Han Sang-jin's scenes were terribly chosen. No, it was literally horrible. It made the comic-like villain come out even more and it would've been funny if it didn't make me facepalm all the way through.
As for the songs sung for this drama there are two songs you keep hearing all the way through: Baek Ji-young's "Because of You" and Park Bo-ram's "Falling". I can't say that I didn't like the songs (I even have Baek Ji-young's song stuck in my head) but they are also not really special. To be very honest those songs are the typical ballads you hear here and there and everywhere in K-Dramaland. The only thing that really stood out was Snuper's "하이드 지킬 (Hyde Jekyll)". While it is for sure not the best OST song it is the most listenable outside of the drama and the most unique showing also Snuper's cuter style.

I know many people will actually have a "What in the world..."-moment now reading my rating. I did have things to criticize, mainly about the characters and the writing but also the soundtrack. But as I mentioned in my very short, small written introduction I have seen worse and I legitimately enjoyed this drama until episode 16 at least. Well, I enjoyed the majority until then. After that it did make a melodramatic turn that I personally didn't like that much but it's still okay and it was obvious that things needed to be resolved.
I don't know who I should recommend this to. As I also mentioned above it might depend on your expectations but many people dropped this drama, found it too slow-paced or simply poorly written. I checked some profiles on MyDramaList (sorry not sorry) and some of them seem to like dramas I loved as well while others who liked this drama didn't have much in common with me at all.
I'd say: If you want to watch this, keep your expectations low. Maybe that's the whole point, that after reading so many bad reviews my expectations were so low that I found this to be way better than I expected. And maybe that works for other people, too.

Freitag, 5. Mai 2017

Trot Lovers

트로트의 연인 (Trot Lovers) is a South Korean drama series that aired on KBS2 from June 23rd to August 12th 2014. It consits of 16 episodes with average duration of one hour.

Story: Choi Chun-hee is a marathon athlete who caught singer Jang Joon-hyun cheating to win a medal in a competition. As fate kicks in, the two meet again when Joon-hyun gets into a scandal. Meanwhile, Chun-hee's father disappears and leaves her and her sister Byul behind with loan sharks following them around. Joon-hyun gets involved in the trouble and is ordered to be Chun-hee's manager so he can release a comeback album after his scandal while Chun-hee's main reason for agreeing to work together is the fact that she needs money and she hopes to get in contact with her father. She eventually signs with Shine Star Entertainment and meets Jo Geun-woo, the new CEO after his father went on a "holiday" as well as Park Soo-in, Joon-hyun's first love.

Cast: Jung Eun-ji as trot singer Choi Chun-hee gave me life! I'm sad the songs she sang in this drama are not part of an album but they are totally great. Regarding her character I did like the sassy part but the sensitive parts she showcased didn't seem to work well with the beginning of the story. As for the acting I can't really complain, Eun-ji is a good singer but also a good actress in her own way.
Ji Hyun-woo as Jang Joon-hyun seemed a little bit bland to me. The character was a whole new level of jerk even though he did have his sweet moments. I don't think Ji Hyun-woo really suited this character though so I don't quite know what to think about him as an actor after all.
Shin Sung-rok shows a totally different side of his acting skills in this drama as Jo Geun-woo. While I did sincerely enjoy him in his villain-roles the awkward yet sweet President of Shine Star Entertainment was very good and well-portrayed. Even though the behavior of the character seemed a bit too awkward from time to time I think that was part of the writing.
Lee Se-young as Park Soo-in was not really good. It's not that I hated her as a character or anything, it's just that the drama lost all of the energy whenever she appeared which was not good for the pacing nor for the story itself. While she's a pretty woman I think this drama was not made for her - or the other way around. Shin Bo-ra as Na Pil-nyeo seemed to be a much better antagonist in the beginning and her character turned out much better than I thought it would. As a female who has been training for 10 years waiting for her debut the main sentiment at first is jealousy and all her actions portrayed that well. Well, until she met Seol Tae-song played by Son Ho-jun. Seol Tae-song as a character seems kinda clueless but he's not bad, just a kind of confused, cute male side character. I kinda liked the side story between him and Pil-nyeo. As for the acting, it really seemed fine to me.
Other actors in this drama include Jang Won-young, Yoon Bong-kil, Park Hyuk-kwon and Lee Yi-kyung.

Soundtrack: Personally I'm not a huge fan of the OST but as I mentioned above I loved Eun-ji as a trot singer. The problem is just that the songs she sang are not part of the OST even though all of them are awesome, especially the one she sang first, "고추 (Red Pepper)" but as I said it is not part of the OST.

Now this sounded like a solid and fun drama and in the beginning it seemed to be exactly that but turned out that I rated it as 6/10 for reasons.
The positive things that I have to say about this drama only evolve around the cast, acting and the music but that's all.
It started off funny, light-hearted and cheerful but eventually the energy disappeared and was replaced by one K-Drama cliché after another - an evil mother, evil second female lead, poor second male lead, terminal diseases, amnesia, wristgrab, past accidents - this drama literally has everything and it almost made me puke how cliché it is. Just like a poorly written fanfiction in some parts. I was close to dropping this drama after episode 11 but eventually decided against it since I'm still proud I never dropped a drama.
Yes, it eventually got back to the light-hearted and cute atmosphere it had in the beginning but that didn't safe it in the end and I'm glad I finally finished this.
Recommended? Well, if you're a fan of clichés and the typical cheesy love stories in K-Dramaland with an extra portion of famous jerk you might enjoy this. If you don't like that - don't watch this drama or you will end up hating 90% of the characters.