All That’s Zombie

All That’s Zombie

Koreans love zombies. No wonder they have so many series and movies with zombies in them.

Some of the best Korean zombie series are Alive, All of us are Dead, Kingdom, Happiness and The Wailing.

Giving you a heads up – I have watched none of these zombie series. I just couldn’t.

I started watching Train to Busan because, you guessed it right, Gong Yoo was the principal lead. A divorced father boards a train to take his small daughter to her mother’s town. The train gets infected with zombies. Will the father be able to keep his daughter safe from the bloodthirsty zombies?

The premise of the movie is splendid and the execution brilliant, so much so that I could not watch the blood and gore splattering, the hungry zombies. Halfway into the movie, I quit. In fact, I read an interesting anecdote about this movie. Gong Yoo is scared of ghosts and while shooting for this movie, he actually thought the zombies (actors) were going to come and kill him.

If you are a zombie fan, pick up any of these series or for that matter, Train to Busan. They all come with high ratings and recommendations.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

Record of Youth

Record of Youth

Starring: Park Bo-Gum, Park So-Dam, Byeon Woo-Seok

Record of Youth is a journey of an aspiring model/actor and a make-up artist from obscurity to success. It also touches upon friendship, relationship between father-son and agent-actor.

Sa Hye-Jun (Park Bo-Gum), is a struggling actor who dreams of making it big in the acting industry. He is often berated by his father who thinks of him as a good-for-nothing son. On the other hand, Sa Hye-Jun’s good friend, Won Hae-Hyo (Byeon Woo-Seok) is an established model and a struggling actor born with a silver spoon. We also have Ahn Jung-A (Park So-Dam), a practical, no-nonsense person who works hard towards her aspiration to be a big make-up artist.

Sa Hye-Jun and Ahn Jung-A date for a while before their individual commitments overshadow their romance. Ahn Jung-A breaks up with Sa Hye-Jun because she feels shortchanged in the relationship and wants someone totally committed to her. This is actually one of the highlights of the show. Every individual should put themselves first even at the risk of sounding selfish. Also, this must be the only show or the only instance in the whole wide world where a boyfriend (Hye-Jun) asks the permission of the girl (Jung-A) to kiss her. That was a total swoon worthy moment.

Sa Hye-Jun climbs the ladder of success but feels empty on the inside. Also with success, he finally gets purged of all the angst he had towards his father. On the other hand, despite coming to know that his acting career is totally micro-managed by his mother, Hae-Hyo refuses to hate his mother. He simply decides to opt for military training.

It is heart-warming to see that the friendship between Hye-Jun and Hae-Hyo remains unaffected even when they are rivals and even when Hye-Jun sees success while Hae-Hyo’s career takes a nosedive. Also, Hye-Jun even after their breakup still helps Jung-A to get more clients. That’s a real sign of maturity. Though there is a love triangle, Hae-Hyo likes Jung-A, they remain just friends till the end.

There are many life lessons to be taken from Record of Youth. It is not a drama about romance, but depicts the confusion that youth often have in their 20s – their anger towards their parents and blaming them for their shortcomings.

This is what Hye-Jun says in the show that is one of the major highlights and takeaway of the show – “In your 20s, you learn to detach yourself from your parents’ influence. Now, we’re entering our 30s. The age at which you can no longer blame others.”

Watch Record of Youth or make your kids in late teens or college watch this. It’s fun to see how characters evolve. And though it is slow paced, the drama has its heart in the right place.

Note: I watched this show when I had just entered into the world of Kdramas, and I actually mistook Byeon Woo-Seok for Park Seo-Jun. All this while, I thought it was Park Seo-Jun in the drama. But TBH, I like Byeon Woo-Seok more and wish I can see him in more dramas.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

Extraordinary Attorney Woo

Extraordinary Attorney Woo

Starring: Park Eun-bin, Kang Tae-oh, Kang Ki-young

Extraordinary Attorney Woo was the first court room drama I watched and loved it so much that have watched several since then.

The protagonist Woo Young-Woo has a photogenic memory and also has autism spectrum disorder. She lacks in social skills and empathy, but it extraordinarily brilliant. She joins a law firm as a trainee lawyer, and soon she starts winning cases with her intelligence. However, she is also subjected to bullying, resentment and prejudice by her own colleagues and superiors. On the other hand, she has some very loyal friends who stand by her and help her navigate through various downs. She has her unique case solving abilities that help her grow in her career.

The drama has some cute office romance between our protagonist Young-Woo and her paralegal colleague Lee Jun-Ho. Young-Woo loves whales and everything about it, something that helps her many a times in solving complex cases, you will need to watch it to understand how.

She is mindful of the fact that her autism could be a hindrance in the social set up and career growth of her partner Lee Jun-Ho and takes a decision to break up with her, but thankfully Lee Jun-Ho pursues her doggedly.

What I liked about the show is the brilliant acting of the protagonist Park Eun-Bin as someone who is on the autism spectrum. Every case was different and interesting which keeps the viewers hooked.

Do watch it – it’s a cute show.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

Would You like a Cup of Coffee?

Would You like a Cup of Coffee?

Starring: Park Ho-San, Ong Seung-Wu

Park Seok (Park Ho-San) runs a popular coffee establishment frequented by a group of loyal customers in a quiet neighbourhood. Kang Go-Bi, a senior year student, visits the café and falls in love with the coffee. He requests Park Seok to take him as his apprentice. Park Seok who has always worked alone is reluctant to take anyone on board, but Kang Go-Bi’s sincerity wears him down and he takes Kang Go-Bi on as a part-time worker at the coffee shop.

The relationship between Park Seok and Kang Go-Bi is not that of an employer-employee, but more like a mentor-mentee. Kang Go-Bi learns a lot of life lessons working with Park Seok in the café. When Park Seok realises that he has taught everything that he could to Kang Go-Bi, he asks Kang Go-Bi to join a big coffee establishment of his acquaintance. Though Kang Go-Bi learns about different types of coffees in the new café, he misses the cosy warmth of the neighbourhood café and Park Seok’s kind and easy going teaching, and requests Park Seok to take him again as an apprentice.

The drama though centrally moves around Park Seok and Kang Go-Bi, takes turns in focusing upon the lives of the different customers who visit the café.

I like the unhurried, quiet pace of the drama. Though it was a 12-part series, I watched one episode a day to savour the relationship between the lead characters and to understand the life lessons that Park Ho-San so kindly teaches. Park Ho-San particularly shines through his soft spoken, smiling and unfazed character portrayal of Park Seok whose passion is to make coffee. Ong Seung-Wu doesn’t get much opportunity to showcase his acting chops with the veteran Park Ho-San around, but he sure looks promising. Throughout the show, I felt like visiting this café to taste the coffee just once, especially when Park Seok prepares the affogato.

Watch Would You like a Cup of Coffee if you want to enjoy a healing slice of life drama that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

Various Korean Dramas, But Not One Up to the Mark

Various Korean Dramas, But Not One Up to the Mark

V for me is jinxed.

VIP – Starring Jang Na-Ra and Lee Sang-Yoon, I had high hopes of this one. Na Jung-Sun (Jang Na-Ra) and Park Seong-Jun (Lee Sang-Yoon) work in the same company and are married, but in the first episode itself we come to know that Park Seong-Jun has cheated on his wife and his wife has come to know about it. Park Seong-Jun confesses to his wife and apologises to her, but Jun-Sun finds it difficult to come to terms with her husband’s infidelity. In this show, I found the supporting actors more interesting than the lead actors. Jang Na-Ra’s acting is not up to the mark, while Lee Sang-Yoon throughout the show has just a single dumb expression on his face of that of a person who went off to sleep in 1999 and woke up in 2019.

I have watched 4 Korean dramas starting with the letter V, and was forced to leave at some point or the other without finishing them.

Vagabond – With Lee Seung-Gi and Bae Suzy, I started this drama with great hopes only to be disappointed.

Vincenzo – I had heard a lot about Song Joong-Ki and Vincenzo, but only after a couple of episodes realised that I need to take recommendations with a pinch of salt. Song Joong-Ki and Lee Min-Ho are two very popular male leads who I can’t stomach. I know I am going to get a lot of hate messages after this, but seriously they don’t make my heart flutter or get my pulse racing as Jung Hae-In or Gong Yoo does.

I Hear Your Voice – Lee Jong-Suk looking like an overgrown teenager is a total disappointment, not to mention the overacting done by all actors. This was a total time waste that I regret a lot.

If you have any good recommendation for me for the letter V, do let me know.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

Uncontrollably Fond

Uncontrollably Fond

Starring: Kim Woo-Bin, Bae Suzy, Lim Ju-Hwan

In this Korean melodrama, Shin Joon-Young (Kim Woo-Bin), a popular actor is diagnosed with terminal cancer. As he takes a break from acting in order to recuperate, enters in his life, his long-lost crush, classmate and neighbour Noh Eul (Bae Suzy). Joon-Young agrees to feature in a docu-series on his life that is being shot by Noh Eul. The sparks of romance get kindled between them. However, all is not well in their romantic world. In a parallel story, we meet evil politician Choi Hyeon-Joon, who is the biological father of Joon-Young, who in order to win the elections will go to any length to protect the murderer of Noh Eul’s father.

*Spoiler alert*

Shin Joon-Young dies peacefully in the arms of Noh Eul, which though doesn’t come as a surprise still leaves you in tears. However, you are also left with a satisfied feeling because there are no over the top scenes of them crying. Joon-Young has made peace with the fact that he is going to die, and in his last days, both Joon-Young and Noh Eul are seen spending a lot of time with each other.

Kim Woo-Bin is a brilliant actor. His character has many nuances, some good, some grey and some quirky, but he has played all of them quite well. He plays his role as a cancer patient quite authentically, so much so that you pray for him to get better knowing well that is not possible. In fact, it is ironic that just after this show, Woo-Bin was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer and after taking a 6-year hiatus from the TV industry, he made a comeback in 2022 with Our Blues. But my heart was captured by the second lead Lim Ju-Hwan. Though his character is a bit sketchy, he silently and stoically pulls the weight of the drama. Even after all he undergoes at the hands of his power-hungry parents and deranged fiancée, he still confesses his love to his fiancée.

Watch Uncontrollably Fond for the ardent characters, especially Kim Woo-Bin, Bae Suzy and Lim Ju-Hwan.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

Twenty Five Twenty One

Twenty Five Twenty One

Starring: Kim Tae-Ri, Nam Joo-Hyuk, Bona

Twenty Five Twenty One is a tribute to young people, their aspirations, struggles and friendship.

Na Hee-Do is a young teen fencer whose ambition is to play for Korean national team. She works hard and beats all odds to be on the Korean national team. However charming, the story is not only about Na Hee-Do, but also about Baek Ye-Jin who grows into a fine reporter and her beautiful and unassuming friendship with Na Hee-Do. Other characters like Ko Yu-Rim, Moon Ji-Ung and Ji Seung-Wan play important roles, without whom the show wouldn’t have been what it is.

The characters are bursting with life, their struggles feel so raw and real, and their relationships so heartfelt and relatable. The chemistry between the lead couple is brilliant, and you are actually sad when things don’t turn out the way they should be between them. But you know that is life, and one needs to move on. The relationship between enemies-turned-friends Na Hee-Do and Ko Yu-Rim is sweet and natural, and you end up rooting for both of them when they are competing against each other.

And now, talking about the lead actors, Kim Tae-Ri is heavenly. She is a natural, and I can’t think of anyone else playing Na Hee-Do. She was perfect for the role. As far as Nam Joo-Hyuk goes, I was absolutely besotted with him. He is so handsome, and so sincere. Bona as Yu-Rim particularly shined, and made me fall in love with a secondary lead.

Twenty Five Twenty One is a coming of age drama that no teen or youth should miss. I made my daughter watch it, so that she can learn about –

Ambition and how one needs to struggle to pursue their dreams. You might even have to give up on your love if it comes in the way of your life goals.

Friendship – Friendship is important, but in competition, one must leave their personal feelings aside

Self-esteem – Love and respect yourself and expect the same from others. Don’t hold onto a relationship that you have outgrown just for the sake of it.

Moral values – Life is nothing if not for your values. Stand by your principles even if the repercussions seem tedious.

Watch Twenty Five Twenty One because such brilliant dramas come only once in a while, and so when they do, you shouldn’t miss them.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

Something in the Rain

Something in the Rain

Starring: Jung Hae-In, Son Ye-Jin

I am sure you expected me to write on Squid Game, after all that’s one Korean show that most of us has watched. However, Squid Game is not quintessentially Korean. It’s formula-esque; copy-paste in any language and Squid Game is ready.

For the alphabet S, I have Something in the Rain.

The Korean drama Something in the Rain is not just a show, but an emotion. It is an emotion that all of us felt in our 20s – the first flush of love, the romance, misunderstandings, heartbreak. This is the show that made me fall in love with Korean dramas.

Seo Jun-Hui (Jung Hae-In), a 28 year old animation designer at a computer video game company. He has come back to Korea after 3 years, and on the first day of work, he meets his elder sister’s friend, Yoon Jin-A (Son Ye-Jin). He is completely besotted with her beauty. They go out a few times as they work in the same office complex, both of them feel the strong pull of attraction, but are unable to confess their feelings. After a few failed attempts, Jin-A takes the matter in her hands, and their feelings finally come out in the open.

However, things are not all hunky-dory in their world. Jun-Hui belongs to a humble family which Jin-A’s ambitious mother doesn’t approve of. On the other hand, Jin-a faces sexual harassment at her workplace and raises her voice against it. Jun-Hui is a sensible person, while Jin-A behaves irrationally and recklessly at times and hides things from Jun-Hui. These circumstances lead to their break up.

It usually taken 2-3 episodes to warm up to a Korean drama, but Something in the Rain is engaging from the very first episode. The chemistry between the lead pair is incredible; I have never come across a chemistry so strong that it is palpable. The way Jung Hae-In looks at Son Ye-Jin is pure love and Son Ye-Jin looks awe-inspiringly beautiful. The scene where Jung Hae-In holds Son Ye-Jin’s hand under the table makes me gasp and my heart flutter every time I watch it. You need to watch this show to understand it.

The songs “Stand by your Man” sung by Bruce Willis runs throughout the show and is hummable, while the title track “Something in the Rain” by Rachael Yamagata haunts you, it’s sad and beautiful at the same time. I particularly love the whistle music that is played in the show.

I have laughed, cried bucketful of tears and prayed that the lead pair come together in the end, something that only a teenager does. I felt like a 19-year old, I felt like falling in love once more and to have someone look at me with the same passion as Jun-Hui looks at Jin-a.

It does feel stretched a bit, after the 11th episode, and some bits especially where the father visits from Canada, I found unnecessary, but the rest of the story more than makes up for this lapse.

Do watch Something in the Rain, you wouldn’t want it to end, trust me.

For other good Korean dramas starting with S, you can watch Startup, Shooting Stars, Summer Strike and Suspicious Partner.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

Reply 1988

Reply 1988

Starring: Park Bo-Gum, Lee Hye-Ri, Go Kyung-Pyo, Kim Sung-Kyun, Sung Dong-Il, Ra Mi-Ran

If there is only one Korean Drama that you will ever watch, then it has to be Reply 1988. This is the drama that is the essence of Korean culture and tradition. This is one drama that I can watch again and again without getting bored. In fact, I even asked my 11 year old to watch this drama to understand the concept of family, friends, neighbours and sacrifice. It’s cult like Andaz Apna Apna or Hera Pheri or Nukkad of the yesteryears.

Reply 1988 follows the lives of 5 families who live in a neighbourhood called Ssangmungdong in Seoul in the year 1988. It shows how women despite different social standing meet every day and discuss their husband, children and even menopause. On the other hand, their kids who attend the same school and are the best of friends go through various ups and downs, but stay together.

Reply 1988 is not a drama, but it is an emotion that you need to feel. Do watch it because I don’t think my review can do full justice to it.

There are Reply 1994 and Reply 1997 too, but I haven’t watched them. They don’t have the same star cast, and to be honest, there is only one reply for me.

Another great drama starting with R is “Romance is a Bonus Book” starring Lee Jong-Suk and Lee Na-Young. It follows the romance between Cha Eun-Ho, a gifted writer who’s also the youngest editor-in-chief of a noteworthy publishing firm and Kang Dan-I, a divorcee mom finding her place back in the society.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

Under The Queen’s Umbrella

Under The Queen’s Umbrella

Starring: Kim Hye-Soo, Choi Won-Young, Moon Sang-Min, Kim Hae-Sook

I am not a fan of Korean period dramas, those elaborative head gears, uncomfortable looking clothes and continuous bowing, are something I can’t relate to. However, when I realised that I had not watched a single K-drama starting with the alphabet Q, I had to find one. There were a lot of dramas featuring Queen, however, this one for some reason caught my eye. I think I got drawn to it because it was a story of a Mother Queen, and nowadays, I am looking for dramas with which I can relate to, and that should not be just a mindless romance.

Queen Im Hwang (Kim Hye-Soo) is the mother of 5 royal princes, the eldest of whom is the Crown Prince. However, the Crown Prince soon falls sick and before her eyes, the helpless Queen seeds her eldest son withering away. Later on, she comes to know that the Prince was poisoned. In the palace, apart from the Queen, there is the Mother Queen who is not only an evil person but also hates Im Hwang from the bottom of her heart. She wants to dispose the Queen and her sons, and wants one of the princes of the many consorts and concubines of the King to be the Royal Prince.

In order to retain her position as the Queen, it is imperative that one of the remaining four sons of Im Hwang be the next Crown Prince. It’s not an easy feat, her four sons are lazy and irresponsible, and now suddenly when they are asked to fight to be the Crown Prince, they don’t take the suggestion kindly. But to fulfil their mother’s wish, they get into the conquest, albeit half-heartedly. A few sons give up in the middle, while few compete till the end.

What is important is not who becomes the Crown Prince, but how the entire story pans out. Kim Hye-Soon as the Queen is exceptional, she has carried the entire show on her shoulders. If not for her, I would not have watched the show at all.

The story is riveting, and all the characters, whether playing evil or good, have well contributed to the show. The dirty politics of the palace, the interesting war of words between the Queen and the Mother Queen, kept me hooked till the end.

In the end, I admit I was fascinated with the beautiful brocade gowns and the huge headpins the ladies of the palace wore. 

Watch “Under the Queen’s Umbrella” for a peep into the palace life and politics of the Joseon era.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.