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.

Diary of a Prosecutor

Diary of a Prosecutor

Starring: Lee Sun-Kyun, Jung Ryeo-Won

I was not a big fan of courtroom dramas, until I watched Diary of a Prosecutor.

The story is about a team of people working as prosecutors in Jinyoung district office. It’s a drama that shows the daily mundane routine of overworked prosecutors often staying up late nights to handle the different cases handed over to them by the Police. However, how each one of them brings their personal flavour in those cases is the crux of the drama.

Lee Sun-Woong (Lee Sun-Kyun) is a carefree prosecutor, who lives all alone in the sleepy, boring town of Jinyoung while his wife and kid are in Seoul. However, he is hardworking and more importantly, he is fearless and doesn’t mind standing up to his superiors if he feels he is right. He also shares easy camaraderie with everyone in the team. Enters Cha Myung-Joo (Jung Ryeo-Won), she is another hardworking prosecutor who has been sent to Jinyoung office for going against her superior’s wishes. Myung-Joo’s style of working is quite different from the rest of the team, and she easily offends people with her arrogance.

All the characters appear real and relatable, they come with their own set of flaws. I like the wit and humour in the show, and also appreciate the way they have shown the technical aspects that go into solving cases. This is one show where there is no romance between the leads, and that is quite a refreshing change.

Lee Sun-Kyun as the fearless prosecutor is the heart of the show, while the headstrong Jung Ryeo-Won supports him equally in making this show into a great one. I was actually sad when the show came to an end, the prosecution team at Jinyoung had become such an integral part of my life for the 5 days it took me to finish the entire drama.

Watch Diary of a Prosecutor for Lee Sun-Kyun, he is amazing and it is an excellent drama!

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

One Spring Night

One Spring Night

Starring: Jung Hae-In, Han Ji-Min

The first Korean show I ever started watching was One Spring Night, however, used to being fast paced dramas, I found it exceedingly slow and frustrating. So, I left it after the first episode and switched on to another drama, “Something in the Rain” (interestingly, it has Jung Hae-In as the male lead as well) and fell in love with K dramas hook, line and sinker. After completing the show, I came back to One Spring Night only because of the super handsome Jung Hae-In, and found the show to be more interesting and suitable for a matured audience.

Lee Geong-In (Han Ji-Min) is in a long standing relationship, however, she is unhappy and feels dissatisfied. To add to her confusion, she meets a single father Yu Ji-Ho (Jung Hae-In) who professes that he likes her. Geong-In is attracted to Ji-Ho, but is unable to break with her boyfriend, Gi-Seok (Kim Jun-Han). A patient Ji-Ho gives her time, but in the process Geong-In’s Gi-Seok comes to know about Ji-Ho’s presence in her girlfriend’s life. His ego is hurt, especially as he considers Ji-Ho’s social standing to be lower than his as he is a single father, and takes it upon himself to free Geong-In from Ji-Ho’s clutches. However, Geong-In is a strong-willed woman and takes Gi-Seok head on.

I like the drama not only because of the strong feminist character of Geong-In who goes against her strict father’s wishes and defies societal rules, but I also like her as a confused woman who is unable to decide whether she should go ahead with Ji-Ho. Geong-In is both strong and weak, and that is something most women can relate to. The side stories, especially of Geong-In’s elder sister gives a glimpse into the regressive thinking of the Korean society, which to some point is quite similar to Indian.

I like the show because of the two adorable leads, Jung Hae-In is my favourite, you must know that by now. I had read somewhere that Han Ji-Min is prone to overacting, but in this show, she has restrained herself and acted like never before. Not only the chemistry between Jung Hae-In and Han Ji-Min looks authentic, but also they have acted so naturally with each other. There are scenes where it actually feels that they didn’t know the camera was rolling, they look so unrehearsed and hence all the more real.

I also liked Ji-Ho’s two friends – they are goofy but also stand by Ji-Ho in difficult times. Geong-In’s younger sister Jae-In is another gusty woman who stands up to her father and dates Ji-Ho’s friend on her own terms.

The music of the show is brilliant, especially the song by Carla Bruni – Spring Waltz is so hauntingly beautiful that you feel like bawling your eyes out whenever you listen to it. Other beautiful songs are “We Could Still Be Happy” and “No Direction” by Rachael Yamagata. I cannot image One Spring Night without these songs.

Watch this show for a mature, unhurried drama and soul lifting songs.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

Nevertheless

Nevertheless

Starring: Song Kang, Han So-Hee

One of the boldest Korean dramas I have watched. Two art school students Park Jae-Eon (Song Kang) and Yu Na-Bi (Han So-Hee) embark on a friends-with-benefits relationship. Of course, both of them end up falling in love with each other at different points in time, but there is denial, commitment phobia and in the end they both accept that their emotions are more profound than just passion.

I found both leads a little jaded and expressionless. It was bearable for the first few episodes, but they never get their expressions right. The good thing about the show was that it was just a 10-part show, I am grateful that the producers realised the show wasn’t meaty enough to drag it till the usual 16 episodes.

I loved the titles of each episodes – they were quite meaningful.

“I Know Nothing Will Change. Nevertheless,”

“There’s No Such Thing As Love. Nevertheless,”

“Love. I know that it will cause me pain again. Nevertheless, I still…”

Watch the show because it’s not your average show cut from the same old cookie cutter mould. Also, the sex scenes though risqué have been artfully done.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

My Liberation Notes

My Liberation Notes

Starring: Son Seok-Goo, Kim Ji-Won, Lee Min-Ki, Lee El

It’s a story of three siblings, who though only in their thirties are already exhausted by the monotony of their everyday life.

While the eldest of the siblings, Yeom Gi-Geong (Lee El) is looking for a perfect life partner, the younger one, Yeom Chang-Hee (Lee Min-Ki) is a commitment phobic, and harbours a very simple dream that is to move to Seoul where all the action lies. On the other hand, the youngest one, Yeom Mi-Geong (Kim Ji-Won), is an introvert and the most obedient of the three siblings. However, she is strong willed and is looking for ways to liberate herself from the tyranny of extroverted people. Maybe that’s the reason why it comes as a total shocker when she asks Mr. Gu (Son Seok-Goo), the farm hand on her father’s farm “to worship her.” Not love, mind you, but worship, that’s quite a choice of words!

Mr. Gu agrees to this form of worship, but their relationship is not the normal kind. They hardly speak, but are comfortable in each other’s company. Yeom Chang-Hee is the goofy one and his rants are hilarious. Like the instance where he tries to copy Mr. Gu and jumps over the canal only to end up falling in it face down, or when he has to urgently use the loo at Mr. Gu’s place in the night and end ups obsessing over Mr. Gu’s luxury car keys.

My Liberation Notes is a slice of drama that is quite unusual and hence appealing too. I have seen Lee Min-Ki playing an introvert in the drama “Because this is my First Life”, and I liked him in it, but I also found him equally good playing a loudmouth in this show. He is that versatile an actor.

Watch this show for the super cute underrated romance between Mi-Geong and Mr. Gu. Son Seon-Gu is absolutely adorable and after watching this show went on to feature on my Most Handsome Korean Male Actors list.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

Let’s Eat

Let’s Eat

Starring: Lee Soo-Kyung, Yoon Doo-Joon

It’s a show about food and people romancing food. What a beautiful concept!

The show opens up to a woman on a blind date queuing up outside a popular food joint. When she and her date get a seat, her date announces he wouldn’t be able to do justice to the portions of the food. The woman is disappointed and returns the next day alone and orders a dish and does full justice to it.

The way she eats her food – with her eyes first and then making those heavenly noises will give you multiple orgasms right there and then, believe me. The male lead supports her in this enthusiasm for food, however, nowhere does this gluttony feel gross.

I am a vegetarian, but while watching this show, on multiple occasions I felt like giving it up and start eating meat.

Watch this show because not only the food is beautifully presented but also all the actors are endearing. Also, there is quite a nice mystery too that keeps you engrossed till the end.

PS: I have watched Let’s Eat 2 which has the same male lead, however, the storyline changes and so do other actors, but the love for food in both leads remains unwavering.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

A Korean Odyssey

A Korean Odyssey

Starring: Lee Seung-Gi, Oh Yeon-Seo, Cha Seung-Won

Another superb fantasy drama after Goblin. Seriously, Koreans do it so much better. I am not a great fan of fantasy genre, but I am not able to resist Korean fantasy dramas.

A mythical creature in an attempt to free himself of a long-serving curse, falls into another trap where he finds himself at the mercy of a mere human. Ironically, she is also the woman he falls eventually in love with.

The show has all the masala that a good show must have – humour, horror, romance and heartbreak. The ending is particularly spectacular, and totally unexpected.

The male lead, Lee Seung-Gi plays various shades in his role of the great sage equal to heaven – he is evil, naughty, fearless and a daredevil. Though Lee Seung-Gi can make any girl go weak in her knees with his intense looks, I found the chemistry between him and the female lead a bit lacking. On the other hand, the tug of war between the Devil King and the great sage is hilarious. It’s one of the highlights of the show.

Watch the show for complete entertainment.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile Justice

Starring: Kim Hye-Soo, Kim Mu-Yeol

I don’t particularly like to watch shows where kids are subjected to violence, and that too when it is based on real life incidents. However, this one I picked up because I had yet not watched a drama starting with J, and also because I have started enjoying courtroom dramas of late.

Judge Shim Eun-Seok has a cold and distant personality and she absolutely detests juvenile criminals. She metes them out the harshest punishments and most minor offenders dread coming to her court. However, on the other hand, she also goes out of her way to protect kids, even if they have been minor offenders in the past.

What I learnt from this show that juvenile court handles two types of cases – one where crimes are purported on minors and the second where crimes are committed by minors.

I appreciate the way the show has been treated, they have tried to be as authenticate as possible, the parts where young girls are beaten becomes a little tough for me to handle, and I ended up fast forwarding those scenes. I thought it to be more of a courtroom drama than behind the scenes investigation, but the lead actor Kim Hye-Soo’s portrayal of a cold and fearless judge is brilliant.

Watch this show if you can accept the fact that minors can commit heinous crimes and many of them are absolutely nonchalant and unrepentant about their acts.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

Starring: Seo Yea-Ji, Kim Soo-Hyun, Oh Jung-Se, Kim Joo-Hun

Some dramas come with high recommendations, and It’s okay to not be okay is one of them.

It’s a story of three people – one autistic older brother, Moon Sang-Tae (Oh Jung-Se), the younger brother, Moon Gang-Tae (Kim Soo-Hyun) and an antisocial children’s fairy tale author, Ko Moon-Young (Seo Yea-Ji).

Moon-Young is selfish, arrogant and rude. She has antisocial personality disorder and drives away people away from her. Her only obsession is Gang-Tae and she would do anything to make him fall in love with her that includes putting up with Gang-Tae’s older brother Sang-Tae. However, Sang-Tae is equally possessive of his younger brother and doesn’t want to let him go which leads to frequent friction between the two.

Gang-Tae though drawn towards Moon-Young also understands his responsibility towards his elder brother. He is caught between the fear of his brother who thinks Gang-Tae will abandon him that Moon-Young has come into the picture and the irresistible attraction of the beautiful and fearless Moon-Young.

This drama is a story about emotions and complex relationships. Oh Jung-Se’s portrayal of an autistic person is as real as it can come. The scene where he realises that his brother lied to him and spent the night with Moon-Young leads him to publicly scream that how Gang-Tae has always wished him dead and he even once left him dying in a frozen river, touches the heart profoundly.

Seo Yea-Ji not only looks divine in those beautiful dresses fit for a prom or runway, but she has also played her role as an antisocial person with selfish and obsessive streaks to the T. However, my heart went out to Kim Soo-Hyun as the man struggling with mental and emotional stress as a caregiver, and still able to look at things objectively.

The other things I would like to mention is the slow developing chemistry between the second lead actress Nam Joo-Ri and Lee Sang-In. Also, the gothic colonial style mansion built in the middle of the woods where Moon-Young stays is totally in keeping with her character. These are small things, but they go on to prove how much thought and method the makers of the show have put in.

With all the hype and the brilliance of the show, I still had a hard time finishing it. I could not relate to either the story or the actors. If I look at individual acting, each one of them is extraordinary, but as a whole, I could not relate to them.

Watch the show for some brilliant acting, esp. by Oh Jung-Se.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

Hometown Cha Cha Cha

Hometown Cha Cha Cha

Starring: Kim Seon-Ho, Shin Min-a

Hong Banjang (Kim Seon-Ho) is the charming jack of all trades who lives in a picturesque close-knit seaside village. He is the go-to person for every small problem – he takes care of real estate to plumbling and delivery of parcels in the village. Yoon Hye-Jin (Shin Min-a) opens a dental clinic in the village, however, her aim is to earn some money and go back to Seoul. She seems unfit for the community living and is awkward in dealing with the villagers. As a result, she is given a cold shoulder by the village people. Soon, she is made to realise her mistake and she warms up to the people and vice versa.

This drama is not about power struggles or family politics, it’s a story of ordinary people living ordinary lives with their everyday struggles. Kim Seon-Ho can charm your pants off, he is that good, that smile and those dimples, why these Korean male actors have to be so good looking?

Shin Min-a, another dimpled actor, plays her role so authentically. I felt sad when the drama got over, I loved these two so much.

As for the supporting actors, they all played their part brilliantly and gave much gravitas to the story. Without them, the drama wouldn’t have been as complete. The love between two small kids, a teenage fangirling over her idol, the fights between I-Jun’s parents and the love story between the local policeman and Hye-Jin’s friend, they are all so cute.

Watch Hometown Cha Cha Cha for the unusual romance between the lead couple.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.