North Korean Noodles, Adoptions, and Drama News

Lots of politics and corruption in this one, but there are some fun things to decompress with.

North-South politics: “Koreas agree to hold military, Red Cross talks, open Kaesong liaison office,” “Trump announces meeting with Kim Yong-chol in Washington, DC,” and “Trump puts N. Korea summit back on for June 12.”

Korean Air scandals: “Korean Air chairman’s wife to be grilled by police” and “Police seek arrest warrant for Korean Air chairman’s wife.”

Sewol Ferry: “Simple safety protocols would have saved the Sewol, study indicates.”

Investigations into the Lee Myung-bak government: “Court orders Lee Myung-bak to appear at every scheduled hearing” and “Government asks prosecutors to investigate overseas development projects under Lee Myung-bak.”

#MeToo: “Police seek arrest warrants for two pro baseball players accused.”

“Ramen expo to invite North Korean ramen to Seoul.” An expo all about instant noodles sounds amazing.

“Busan district office and police remove forced laborer statue near Japanese consulate.” Doesn’t sound like this is over.

“Some of Joseon era’s soldiers were into leather.” This is less kinky than the headline makes it sounds. XD

“[Graphic News] North Korea: The world’s most isolated country.” Here, have some depressing stats in faux tarot-card form.

“Former chief justice denies abuse of power allegations” and “Supreme Court issues apology.” The current chief justice is still trying to decide if he’ll bring criminal charges against his predecessor.

“Dismissal of KTX female train attendants possible result of political tradeoff.” One of the possible casualties of the former chief justice’s abuses of power.

“Swing Voters Making up over 20% of the Voters, the 20-Somethings, and Early Voter Turnout May Be the Hidden Keys.” Local elections are on June 13.

“Family tragedy turns into family business.” Kang Eun-mi and her husband (and their employees) run a farm and deliver ready-made side dishes.

“South Koreans Prefer to Adopt Girls: Study.” Boys are more frequently adopted overseas.

“Exports of Korean Cultural Content in 2016 Surpasses US$6 Bn for 1st Time.” Games were the biggest category at over half the total.

“BTS snatches No. 1 on Billboard 200, first time for Korean artist.” Congratulations!

“‘The Miracle We Met’ Concludes With Its Highest Viewership Ratings.” Congrats on hitting 13%!

“‘Suits’ Approaches Double-Digit Ratings Again + ‘Come And Hug Me’ Sets Personal Ratings Best.” Here’s hoping you hit the double digits.

“Yeo Jin Goo And Girl’s Day’s Minah Confirmed As Leads Of ‘Absolute Boyfriend,’ Hong Jong Hyun In Final Talks.” Filming is to start in July, but apparently they don’t have a network yet?

Something in the Rain, Episode 2

TL;DR:  Things got really awkward, really fast.

I am extremely unhappy that Kyu-min continues to lurk around in this story, but I’m hoping he gets the final boot in the next episode. His pathetic attempts to get Jin-ah back after cheating on her would be laughable if only he didn’t believe that she had cheated on him, too. It is very important to me that everyone significant (her parents and brother) walks away from this awkward evening understanding that Jin-ah didn’t cheat because she didn’t. She went along with Joon-hee’s rescue outside the office because it got her out of the first awkward confrontation with Kyu-min. Any feelings that might be developing? Happened after the breakup, which means she’s got a clear conscience while Kyu-min is still filth. Continue reading “Something in the Rain, Episode 2”

Something in the Rain, Episode 1

TL;DR:  If we don’t have some commentary on corporate drinking culture during this drama, I’ll be disappointed.

After waiting for an eternity, I was finally able to start Something in the Rain/Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food. (It’s up in its entirety on DramaFever and Netflix, in case you’re searching for it.) It’s a relief that, after all that waiting, the first episode was a solid introduction to the characters, their world, and the possible conflicts that are in their futures. And on a meta level, it was nice to be dropped back into Ahn Pan-seok’s familiar directing style and his penchant for reusing actors as secondary characters. Continue reading “Something in the Rain, Episode 1”

Summits, Radioactive Mattresses, and Drama News

I’m just going to go scream in a corner over this first set of links.

June 12 summit: “North Korea Takes Action toward Denuclearization, But Significance of the Test Site Dismantlement Pales,” “Trump cancels summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore,” “President Moon calls emergency meeting after Trump cancels North Korea-US summit,” “North Korea urges US to revive summit,” “Trump says Kim summit could still go ahead June 12,” and “Moon’s office welcomes renewed hope for U.S.-N.K. summit.”

Korean Air scandals: “Customs service seizes suspected smuggled goods at Korean Air supplier,” “Police to call in Korean Air Chairman’s wife for questioning over alleged abuse,” and “Korean Air heiress questioned over Filipino housekeepers.”

Investigations into the Lee Myung-bak government: “Ex-President Lee denies corruption charges at first hearing” and “Ex-President Lee asks for selective attendance at court hearings.”

“Largest ever women’s rally protests spy-cam pornography” and “Police books man for threatening to attack female protestors with acid.” Because that’s the correct reaction to women protesting, clearly. /sarcasm

“Gov’t confirms discovery of more radioactive bed mattresses.” …wait, what?

Abortion ban challenge: “Abortion ban challenged at Supreme Court” and “Women’s Groups Rally Against Anti-Abortion Law.”

“Because our love doesn’t hurt anyone.” A personal essay on a woman cutting her hair short and dating another woman.

#MeToo: “Drama production companies eye to include #MeToo clauses.”

“Coach accused of abusing PyeongChang gold medalist Shim Suk-hee.” A government investigation found that Cho Jae-beom repeatedly punched and kicked the Shim.

“Majority Find Cause for Conscientious Objectors Incomprehensible.” But at least the majority favored an alternative to military service.

“Korea Grapples with Growing Discontent over Shorter Work Week.” Hourly workers in particular aren’t happy that they’ve lost chances for overtime.

“Money, patriarchal culture stand in the way of Korean men taking child care leave.” This is not terribly surprising, but still depressing.

“MoonMoon’s secret criminal record exposed” and “MoonMoon dropped from agency over spycam charge.” GOOD RIDDANCE.

“Kim Dong Wook, Kim Jae Wook, And Jung Eun Chae Confirmed For New OCN Supernatural Drama.” Ooooh, I like the sound of this.

“Update: Hyun Woo And Yoon So Hee Confirmed To Lead New MBN Drama.” Honestly, give me all of the supernatural stuff this year, please.

Kpop Friday: Dreamcatcher’s “You and I”

It’s safe to say that by “You and I,” you know whether or not you like Dreamcatcher’s sound and concept. Considering I am writing this post, it’s probably safe to call me a fan of their music 🙂 Dreamcatcher continues with their jrock-inspired music and horror concept combo in “You and I,” and it’s another solid entry in their niche.

The verses are comparatively sedate, but the restrained instrumentation they’ve got going there is definitely a plus. The song feels almost mysterious at points, especially in the pre-chorus, which has this haunting little choral effect on the vocals that just makes me grin every time it happens. As is typical—and a selling point in my book!—for Dreamcatcher, the chorus is basically an anime opening/closing that they go all out on. Here’s a live stage with a better view of the choreography, complete with a magical baton appearance.

Overall, the song has good momentum and consistently builds toward the energetic finish. (Whoever is on that guitar was definitely enjoying themselves.) The lyrics themselves are romantic-ish, but I’m more than happy to read them in a more sinister light as is befitting their MV:

Even if you run like crazy
You’ll end up in the same place again
Your reflection in the mirror
It’s a distorted mystery
When the sun goes down
Keep the door open
(x)

The MV revels in Dreamcatcher’s horror concept, from giant spider webs to exorcisms and magical portals. I’ll admit that I’m a bit shaky on the connecting story between their MVs, but it looks to me like evil may have been defeated? Or at least banished for the moment. Regardless, the ladies have some striking sets and outfits, and the MV is fun to watch and complements the song.

If you haven’t given “You and I” a listen already, you should hit the play button now.

Buy “You and I” on iTunes || Buy “You and I” on Amazon
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Five New Dramas This Week

And will wonders never cease? DramaFever has the license for two of them! *gasp* There’s a surprisingly large spread here in terms of genres and airing dates, so here’s hoping there’s something for you here. I’ll admit to being interested in Sketch and Goodbye to Goodbye, though we’ll see whether that last one is a Viki Pass Plus or not. In any case, are any of these taking up a slot on your watch list?

About Time
tvN
16 episodes
Monday/Tuesday
Available on Viki.com

Budding musical actress Choi Michaela has a secret gift that is too terrifying for the stage—she can see how much time a person has left to live. When 101 days shows up on her own arm, Michaela knows she is running out of time. But when she encounters Lee Do-ha, a chief director at a cultural foundation, Michaela realizes that being near him stops her lifespan countdown. Michaela’s life-or-death desperation to be near Do-ha transforms into more romantic feelings for the two of them, but Bae Soo-bong is upset by the growing distance between herself and Do-ha, her fiancé.

Miss Hammurabi
jTBC
16 episodes
Monday/Tuesday
Available on DramaFever.com

Park Cha Oh Reum is a new judge and an idealist who aspires to be a protector of the common people. She wants to turn the court into a place of justice for those who are otherwise powerless before the law. Fellow judge Im Ba-reun prefers to rule from his head, not his heart, and he has a reputation for following the rules precisely. The two of them are mentored by Han Se-sang, an experienced judge who has a thorough understanding of the law and understands its practical applications. Together the three of them try to figure out what justice truly is.

 

The Undateables
SBS
32 (mini) episodes
Wednesday/Thursday
Available on Viki.com/KoCoWa.com

Jeong Eum loves the idea of a passionate, all-consuming romance, but she gave up on that fantasy after her first love ended. Now she works as a relationship counselor to try to help others cope with their own clashes between their romantic ideals and harsh reality. Meanwhile, Hoon Nam is an expert in the theory of love but has yet to be moved by it himself. He prefers to keep himself distant from others. The two of them are unprepared for the feelings developing between them. Can they sort out what love really is for them?

 

Sketch
jTBC
16 episodes
Friday/Saturday
Available on DramaFever.com

Detective Yoo Shi-hyun isn’t just a sketch artist—some of her drawings are prescient. With those cryptic drawings, she can reveal events three days in the future, and she and her colleagues may have a chance at stopping terrible crimes before they happen. She encounters the vengeful Detective Kang Dong-su, who is searching for his fiancée’s murderer, and Sergeant Kim Do-jin, whose pregnant wife was also murdered. The three of them, along with their team leader Moon Jae-hyun and Oh Young-shim, will try to stop the horrific crimes Shi-hyun draws and bring a serial killer to justice. But they are unprepared for one complication: Shi-hyun isn’t the only one who can see the future.

Goodbye to Goodbye
MBC
40 episodes
Saturday
Available on Viki.com/KoCoWa.com

Seo Young-hee separated from her husband after discovering his affair, but her life gets even more complicated when her son, Han Min-soo, gets his girlfriend pregnant. While Min-soo wants his girlfriend, Jung Hyo, to get an abortion so he doesn’t have to give up his carefree college days (or repeat his parents’ mistakes), Jung Hyo decides to keep their child. She ends up moving in with Young-hee, and together they try to bond and figure out what they want from their lives.

Girl Groups, Surprise Guests, and Drama News

Hey, it looks like Viki finally uploaded last week’s Lawless Lawyer episodes. I’ll be checking those out once they’re subtitled. If you’re waiting like me, here are some links for you to read instead.

The Park Geun-hye saga: “Top court affirms 3-year term for ex-president’s friend over school favors for her daughter.”

Korean Air scandals: “Korean Air family suspected of illegally hiring Filipino housekeepers,”“Customs officials raid Korean Air over alleged violation of FX laws,”and“Ministry fines Korean Air, Cho for ‘nut rage.'”

Investigations into the Lee Myung-bak government: “No draw needed to watch ex-President Lee’s trial.”

#MeToo: “6 in 10 female employees at judicial bodies experienced sexual violence: ministry,” “YouTube star says she was coerced to pose for pornographic photos,”“Police launch probe into alleged sexual harassment of famous YouTuber,”“Suzy supports sexually harassed YouTuber,”and“Selective justice? Koreans file petition after female suspect gets arrested for leaking nude photo.”

Gwangju Uprising: “Nearly 40 years after Gwangju Uprising, families of missing victims sign up for DNA registration,” “Moon commemorates May 18 Democratization Movement,” “Reenacting history on 38th anniversary of May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement of 1980,” “38 years later, nobody convicted for murder of civilians during Gwangju Massacre of 1980,” “Last Chance to Tell the Truth. Please Find the Person Responsible for the Shooting,” and “Remembering Gwangju.”

“Women gather in rain-soaked Gangnam in memory of murdered woman” and “Women in White Raincoats Gather at Gangnam Station in the Rain, ‘We’re Here to Change the World, Which Remains Misogynist.'” Around 2,000 people attended the protest.

“Why North Korean defectors learn English.” Statements from the defectors about why they’ve chosen to learn English.

“Reports of dating violence double this year: gender ministry.” Reports have more than doubled over the same period last year.

“We’re Speaking, Now Listen.” A compilation of stories/voices/comments from women who attended various rallies, demonstrations, events in South Korea lately about women’s rights, the #MeToo movement, etc.

“‘Deadpool 2’ star Reynolds serenades Korean audience.” Here, have something lighthearted after all the links I just threw you.

“Eighty years of girl group history : Exhibit celebrates the long tradition of female pop music in Korea.” This sounds like an awesome exhibit.

“‘Burning’ sets record high score at Cannes jury grid.” The film got the full four stars from all but two of the judges.

“Lee Yoo Young To Join Yoon Shi Yoon As Female Lead In New SBS Drama.” An age gap in the single digits! Will wonders never cease.

“Shin Hye Sun And Yang Se Jong Confirm Casting In Upcoming SBS Drama.” What the hell is this plot.

“Fantastic love story ‘About Time.'” Lee Seo-won was fired after after being charged with sexual harassment and threatening a female celebrity with a weapon. Good job, production folks.

“Running Man’s Song Ji Hyo to star in action thriller Enraged Bull.” Not the role I’d hoped for her when I heard “action thriller,” but hey, get all the monies.

“Seo Ji Hoon To Fight Yoon Hyun Min For Moon Chae Won’s Love In New Fantasy Drama.” Go for both of them, honestly.

4 Hopes for Lawless Lawyer

As of the moment I’m writing this, it’s still unclear if Viki will ever get around to posting the Lawless Lawyer episodes. They’ve got the license? Apparently? But haven’t even posted the raw videos, and everyone in the comments section on the page is baffled. So to pass the time until Viki gets its shit together, here are some of my hopes for the drama:

Jae-yi doesn’t end up being muted by the end of the show. We’ve seen it over and over in dramaland, where a heroine starts out spunky and feisty and maybe even—gasp—as aggressive as the hero, only for love to be a giant wet blanket on her personality and smother her spark. Can we not do it, just this once?

Sang-pil needs to be rescued by at some point (preferably more than once). The odds are stacked against me on this one, what with Sang-pil’s fighting skills and the odds on wet blanket-ing Jae-yi, but I would really like it if Sang-pil found himself in over his head and needed to be rescued. A million bonus points if it’s Jae-yi that does the saving.

Jae-yi and Sang-pil’s relationship feels like an actual partnership. Don’t just tell me that they value one another’s contributions—actually show them being a functional team in this whole taking down the bad guys plot. I’ll be forever angry if Jae-yi gets shoved to the side so Sang-pil doesn’t have to share the spotlight. And on a shallower note, if I can’t pretend they’re equals, the odds of me being okay with any romantic relationship between them will take a nosedive.

The show goes after the powerful and the wealthy, no matter their “side.” I have faith that there will be lots of social commentary on how the safe-to-hate bad guys are bribing/strong-arming their way out of justice, but I’m equally interested in seeing Jae-yi and Sang-pil go after the system that hands them get-out-of-jail free cards. Perhaps we’ll even get a bit of commentary on what pushed Sang-pil into his earlier gangster career and the ways society failed him back then. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Will you be watching the show? What are your hopes for it?

Two MBC Dramas This Week

MBC has an entirely new weeknight lineup for you. Will you be checking either of them out? I’ll confess that Come and Hug Me has my attention–I would very much like this setup if it were done as thoughtfully as Just Between Lovers. Hope springs eternal, right?

Investigation Couple
MBC
32 (mini) episodes
Monday/Tuesday
Available on Viki.com/KoCoWa.com (as Partners for Justice)

Prosecutor Eun Sol uses her photographic memory to bring criminals to justice. While she is passionate about her job, her rookie status and occasional clumsiness sometimes get in her way. She teams up with Baek Bum, a 10-year veteran of the National Forensic Service, who has a reputation for being prickly and eccentric. Together, the two of them will do everything they can to track down a serial killer in the 8th Eastern District.

 

Come and Hug Me
MBC
32 (mini) episodes
Wednesday/Thursday
Available on Viki.com/KoCoWa.com

Han Jae-yi and Chae Do-jin were childhood friends and sweethearts, but their innocent relationship was torn apart when Do-jin’s father was revealed to be a serial killer and that Jae-yi was the daughter of one of his victims. Years later, the two of them are united. Do-jin has joined the police force in order to atone for his father’s evil, and Jae-yi has become a famous actress. Will they be able to find comfort and solace in one another as adults?

4 Hopes for Secret Mother

I know, I know, I just finished a show all about mothers (which actually included a secret mother!), but I’m a sucker for shows about ladies over the age of thirty, and it looks like we’ve got several here. Plus, you’ve got mysteries and probably murder, so I am definitely intrigued. Still not sure if I’ll be able to watch it (Edit: Between queuing this and this going up, it looks like it’s a Viki Pass Plus show, so that’s a no), but I’m going to talk about my hopes for it anyway.

The show goes all in on examining privilege. Give me some class commentary about all the advantages rich people have and rigged education systems and—if we do have murder—all the terrible things the privileged/powerful can get away with. I want sharp, scathing commentary about basically everything, okay?

Something interesting actually happened to Eun-young’s sister. I’m 80% certain the sister is dead because I’m a cynic, and if that’s true, I’d like it to be because of something interesting. None of this tired “had an affair with a rich dude and he murdered me when I became inconvenient” stuff, because that’s immensely boring. I want Eun-young to find a more interesting answer than that for her sister’s disappearance.

Something interesting actually happened to Yoon-jin’s daughter. She is dead according to the info I’ve seen about the show, so I’d like for there to be something unusual, unique, memorable about the truth behind her death. I’m tired of girls being treated as disposable portions of the narrative, so give me something worthwhile here. Give me suspicions that actually pay off.

Give me sismance. I just want two (or more) ladies teaming up to become an unstoppable force (for good or evil, I’m not picky). I got a lot of mother/daughter stuff in the last show—now I want friendships/rivalries/etc. between peers. Please?

Is Secret Mother on your watch list? What are your hopes for the show?