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Kpop Friday: The Rose’s “Sorry”

Are you in the mood for desperately apologetic boys and slow rock songs? I know I am. Enter The Rose, a four-person band, and “Sorry,” the song they debuted with in August.

“Sorry” a solid debut that shows off the group’s strengths, both vocally and instrumentally. It isn’t particularly challenging, but there’s a good sort of familiarity to  the way the song progresses. I really like the guitarist’s raspy-ish voice, though I wish we’d gotten more harmonies in the vocals instead of passing the song back and forth between him and the keyboardist. The instrumentation is–well, you probably knew exactly from my first sentence what this song would sound like before you hit play. (Which I say with great love and enthusiasm. I’m on my thirty-seventh listen of this song.)

The MV is a low-budget affair filled with all sorts of familiar tropes, from boys being sad in the rain rain to roads leading nowhere to empty landscapes to pointless destruction of inanimate objects to mostly faceless women. It serves as a pretty good visual introduction to the group, with several lingering shots of the guys as they’re playing their instruments or being angsty.

If you are interested in adding more Korean bands to your playlist, you should give The Rose a shot. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to listen to their second song.


Buy “Sorry” on iTunes
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If you want to recommend me songs, you can do so through the music rec meme on my tumblr! Just send me an ask with up to five songs (they don’t have to be kpop), and I’ll listen to and rate them.

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While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 19 & 20

TL;DR: You know what? I actually liked that attempt at lying.

Well, mostly for the fact that it didn’t last an entire hour. Dramaland is no stranger to couples keeping secrets from each other for ridiculous reasons, but this was one of the few instances that actually made sense. Sure, Jae-chan might be happy to meet Chestnut again, but for Hong-joo, that day carries an immense amount of shame. The last thing she wanted was for the guy she is in love with to connect that to her. That day changed her perception of herself—what if it gave him a negative opinion of her, too? Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 19 & 20”

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While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 17 & 18

TL;DR: Oh, hey, the show remembered all that ominous foreshadowing it did way at the beginning.

These episodes took a long, hard look at the stories we feed others and just how far our responsibility extends to them. Even though Hong-joo rightfully refused to report on Hak-yeong’s criminal record, other stations and society at large dove straight in, dragging an innocent man and Jae-chan through the mud for things they didn’t do (murder and a careless investigation). Public sentiment, as they say, has inertia, and the people already had a narrative they liked. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 17 & 18”

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4 hopes for Just Between Lovers

Winter has put me in a mood, one that I think would be well-suited for a melodrama. I’m crossing my fingers that Just Between Lovers will be precisely what I need to bring a bit of warmth into these below-freezing days. I’m unfamiliar with most of the cast and haven’t watched any of screenwriter Yoo Bo-ra’s work, though I do remember enjoying director Kim Jin-won’s stint on Nice Guy. Since I just heard about this drama a few days ago, my expectations are fairly low. Still, I have expectations—four, to be precise—that I would like to have fulfilled.

  1. Kang-doo is not an asshole to Moon-soo. He can be a jerk to basically everyone else, but this drama is being sold to me as a show in which two very wounded people find healing in one another, and for me, that means there are lines into asshole-ish-ness that he cannot ever cross. He can be prickly and emotionally distant, but I’ll be watching him closely for any sign of abusive behavior toward her. The minute he crosses my boundaries, I will be gone.
  2. Kang-doo actually has something of substance to offer Moon-soo. In a similar vein, I need Kang-doo to hold up his end of the relationship with Moon-soo. I don’t want this to be yet another story where a woman cares for and does all of the emotional labor to prove she is good enough for a mediocre man. I want to look at him and go yes, she needs you, not she can pick a guy at random and do better.
  3. Moon-soo gets to have relationships with other women. Family, friends, coworkers, neighbors—I feel like I’ve been starving lately for women interacting with each other in the media I consume. I’d really love it if there were at least one good friendship, pretty please. Will it be greedy if I ask for her to have two significant women in her life besides the dead sister?
  4. Moon-soo is respected at her work. I would just like to see a lady in a professional setting who isn’t second-guessed all the time. Let her do the thing you hired her to do and just get out of her way, all right?

Will you be watching Just Between Lovers? If so, what are your hopes for it? Let me know!

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It’s time for a lot of muted and dark colors

Our two debuts this week definitely have a winter-ish color palette, what with all the muted colors and grays and blacks. I find myself surprisingly interested in Just Between Lovers–I blame my winter mood–so we’ll see where that goes. I’m going to pass on Bad Guys: City of Evil, partly because I adored the original cast and partly because they seem to care even less about female characters than the first season. (You can’t even bother pretending there’s one in the main cast? Meh.) Are either of these on your watch list?

Just Between Lovers
JTBC
16 episodes
Monday/Tuesday
Available on Viki.com

Lee Kang-doo dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player, but his dreams were ruined when he broke his leg and his father was killed in a car accident. After his mother’s death from cancer, Kang-doo’s once rosy, wealthy life evaporates, leaving him drowning under medical debt and living in rundown motels. Ha Moon-soo discovers a beaten Kang-doo in an alley one day, and the two of them connect. Moon-soo has survivor’s guilt thanks to a car accident that killed her younger sibling, and running into Kang-doo gives her something else to focus on. Will their chance meeting offer them both the opportunity to heal?

Bad Guys: City of Evil
OCN
16 episodes
Saturday/Sunday
Availability unknown

In this spin-off series of the 2014 Bad Guys, Woo Je-moon leads a team dedicated to using criminals to track down other criminals. Beside him is Noh Jin-pyung, a brilliant rookie prosecutor, and Jang Sun-chul, a disreputable detective. The two criminals assisting them are Heo Il-hoo, a “reformed” gangster turned fishmonger, and Han Gang-joo, who claims to have been framed but now seeks revenge. Together this team of five will go after the criminals that the regular methods of justice cannot reach.

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While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 15 & 16

TL;DR: Turns out that Jae-chan can have his own words of wisdom. (And I use too many parentheses.)

One of the many things I appreciate about Park Hye-ryun’s writing is that when she picks a theme for an episode, she goes all in. Episodes 13 and 14 were about handling interpersonal debts, and episodes 15 and 16 were about weighing the cost of someone’s life against devastation and grief. In this I think that Writer Park did a pretty good job of balancing yes, your feelings matter and also justice isn’t about satisfying those feelings. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 15 & 16”

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Shorter workweeks, tumblr, and drama news

With any luck, I can do the last of my holiday shopping this weekend. In the meantime, here’s an assortment of news for your perusal.

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4 kdramas for winter

The nights have been getting longer and the temperature has been dropping, and for me that means fuzzy blankets, boozy hot chocolate, and my favorite tv shows. If you’re looking for some heartwarming dramas this winter, you should check out (or revisit) these ones. Fabulous winter coats and uplifting endings guaranteed.

Healer

You can level several complaints at Healer: the early wire-work is worth a few raised eyebrows, a good chunk of the bad guys were barely better than low-level NPCs, coincidences abounded, the finale felt rushed, etc., but no other show came close to generating the same kind of excitement for me in 2015 as Healer.

From its adorable and believable OTP to its masterful use of flashbacks to a cheesy love song that won me over to a world populated by smart, determined, and different women, writer Song Ji-na proved that she is excellent at building characters and crafting a story the audience will care about.

 

Flower Boy Next Door

This well-beloved Flower Boy installment is a charming slice-of-life drama anchored by a wonderful lead couple. While many people are (rightfully) enthusiastic about the kind, caring, and quirky male lead, my love for our depressed, introverted heroine knows no bounds. Her sometimes dark, often painful, always insightful voiceovers have stuck with me after many other details have faded. The sweet romance draws out the best in both leads and makes for a memorable relationship. The “neighborhood” has a few standout characters, including a hilarious webtoon editor.

This drama stumbles in a few places, particularly in the home stretch, but it is otherwise a memorable contemporary drama.

 

School 2013

Though most people remember this drama for the breakout performances of its two high school leads (which was a delightfully damaged bromance), School 2013 actually has a wonderful ensemble cast. The two teachers were perfect foils for one another, and some of the best scenes in the show are when they come together to handle the administration or try to help their wayward second-year students. This drama can be unflinching in its critique of academic pressure, bullying, competition, and abusive families, but it never loses sight of the students and their futures. While I wish there had been more screen time devoted to the girls, this drama is nonetheless one of my favorites.

What’s Up

One of the rare college-centric dramas that actually focuses on school, What’s Up? features a ragtag group of incoming musical theater freshman and some of their professors and upperclassmen. Our main trio consists of a good-for-nothing scammer who decides to make something of his life after a deadly accident, an orphaned and innocent country girl unprepared to catch the attention of a talent agency, and a masked idol and illegitimate child who hides his identity in order to protect his ambitious mother. In between the hazing and musical numbers, the characters get to shine with their (occasionally doomed) romantic relationships, family drama, talent rivalries, terminal illnesses, and fights over dorm room cleanliness. It’s funny, heartfelt, and earnest in the best ways.

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While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 13 & 14

TL;DR: We’re getting some depth to Woo-tak, and I’m not sure what to make of it.

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so please forgive me if I’m rusty. These mini episodes were very focused on the question of interpersonal debts and how best to handle them, which is not altogether an uncommon theme in kdrama. If this were a sageuk, this is the episode where Woo-tak’s heroic actions would earn him a lifetime position of respect and honor in a nobleman’s house. But in the modern world, the issue of debt and repayment isn’t as straightforward. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 13 & 14”

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Five dramas to kickstart December

I hope you have plenty of free time this week, because that’s the only way you’re going to be able to watch all of the dramas that premier this week. Are any of these on your watch list?

Jugglers
16 episodes, KBS2
Monday/Tuesday
Available on Viki.com

Jwa Yoon-yi is a phenomenal secretary with a reputation for getting things done, has a supportive personality, and is involved in an online community for secretaries. Unfortunately for her, Nam Chi-won is her new boss at HB Company, and he has a reputation for not wanting to interact with others and doing all of his work himself. Yoon-yi has to come to his rescue despite his prickliness, and things only get more awkward when it turns out that Chi-won is Yoon-yi’s newest tenant. Will Yoon-yi—and the other secretaries—be able to save their bosses from themselves?

 

Rude Miss Young-ae (Season 16)
16 episodes, tvN
Monday/Tuesday
Availability unknown

Lee Young-ae is back for a sixteenth season. Once again she and her friends will have to fight to survive the workplace and their thirty-something lives. But this time she has a new battle to fight: marriage.

 

 

 

Black Knight
16 episodes, KBS2
Wednesday/Thursday
Available on Viki.com/KoCoWa.com

Businessman Moon Soo-ho has a pure heart—so pure, in fact, that he chooses to face a terrible fate for the woman he loves. His 200-year love for Jung Hae-ra, now a travel agent in the modern world, may put them both in danger when they reconnect abroad. Hae-ra is a hardworking woman who maintains an optimistic attitude on life when everything seems to be going wrong for her. Meanwhile, a mysterious woman who has survived two hundred years entangles herself with Soo-ho and Hae-ra.

 

I’m Not a Robot
32 (mini) episodes, MBC
Wednesday/Thursday
Available on Viki.com/KoCoWa.com

Kim Min-gyu is the largest shareholder of KM Financials, and he is as isolated as he is wealthy due to his “allergy” to other humans. Hong Baek-gyun is one of the top robotics engineers in the world, but when it comes to romance and relationships, he is clueless. Baek-gyun doesn’t know why Jo Ji-ah dumped him, but he used his ex-girlfriend’s face for his most recent robot model. Ji-ah is an entrepreneur who is developing a proxy shipping service, but she ends up taking Baek-gyun’s part-time job offer: pretending to be the newest version of the robot at Min-gyu’s estate, without Min-gyu catching on to the fact that she is human.

 

The Most Beautiful Goodbye in the World
4 episodes, tvN
Saturday/Sunday
Availability unknown

Kim In-hee is living an ordinary life, until the day she is diagnosed with late-stage, terminal cancer. In-hee prepares to say goodbye to the family she has been devoted to: Jung-chul, her husband; Yun-soo, her daughter; and Jung-soo, her immature son. This is a remake of the 1996 drama of the same name.