Drabble Roundup: Three Sentences, Round 2

In July and August, I did a little AU drabble game with my followers. The game is closed now, and all requests have been fulfilled, but in case you missed it, here are the links to all the three-sentence fanfics I wrote:

Arang and the Magistrate

Flower Boy Next Door

Heirs

Healer

I Hear Your Voice

Innocent Man

Just Between Lovers

Queen In-hyun’s Man

Save Me

School 2013

Secret Love Affair

Splish-Splash Romance

Sungkyunkwan Scandal

White Christmas

Many thanks to everyone who sent in requests! I enjoyed it a lot.

D&D Alignment: Kdrama Heroines Edition

This post is thanks to an anon on tumblr who asked me to classify my favorite kdrama heroines in a D&D alignment chart. Some of these probably aren’t strictly considered heroines (though please give me more shady ladies, dramaland, and don’t think I didn’t notice that there aren’t many young characters falling into the lower part of the alignment chart), but they’re all major players in their respective dramas.

Normal disclaimers apply re: the subjectivity of the alignment chart, and you’ll notice that not all of these characters started or ended the drama in their assigned slots. I’ve slotted these ladies where they are based on my strongest/favorite impression of them—this is the archetypal version of them that I always remember first when I think of them.


We might disagree on the best methods, but we can mostly agree on what good actually is.

Lawful Good: Go Seo-yeon, Solomon’s Perjury

Honestly, what else do you expect from a teenager girl who risks expulsion in order to put her classmates and school on trial for the death of a boy she had barely interacted with?

Neutral Good: Chae Young-shin, Healer

She wants to do good in the world, isn’t particularly fussy about using extrajudicial means to expose corrupt people and systems, and also believes that the system can be fixed with a bit of vigilante help.

Chaotic Good: Arang, Arang and the Magistrate

Look at her, willing to pick fights with the supreme being of her universe and also put a stop to an evil when evil starts interfering with her goals and her boyfriend.

There’s a lot of room to breathe in the gray areas of the world, and we enjoy taking up space.

Lawful Neutral: Kang Suk-soon, You’re All Surrounded

She’s seen the system break firsthand, and now she’s committing every bit of her life to take control so it won’t ever happen again, even if she has to make deals with the devil for it.

True Neutral: Oh Hye-won, Secret Love Affair

She sold her soul long ago for money and prestige, and now her life’s a balancing act of keeping all of her bosses happy and trying to stay out of jail while she slowly dies inside.

Chaotic Neutral: Lee Jin-sook, Heartless City

She got dealt a shit hand in life, but she carved out an illicit kingdom for herself and is willing to do just about anything to protect the people who matter to her.

I will make the world submit to my desires.

Lawful Evil: Kang Eun-shil, Save Me

She is absolutely certain that New Heaven’s Sovereign can save your soul, and she’ll ensure you cooperate in your salvation.

Neutral Evil: Choi Yoo-jin, The K2

Intelligent, ruthless, and endlessly frustrated by all the times she has to play by the rules in order to keep up her perfect wife act, though she is excellent at weaponizing it whenever she has the opportunity.

Chaotic Evil: Jamie, Liar Game

Rules only exist so she can find clever loopholes and walk away with everything she wanted—who cares about everyone else in this sadistic game?


What do you think of my assignments? Where would your favorite heroines go?

My 2017 Kdrama Review

Now that I’ve talked about the individual characters that I loved, it’s time for me to address the shows as a whole. In comparison to last year, 2017 was actually pretty decent for me. I only dropped five shows: Whisper, Strong Woman Do Bong-soon, Radiant Office, Seven Day Queen, and The King Loves. I completed five 2017 shows (four dramas and one drama special) and also looped back to watch the 2015 drama special, Splash Splash Love. And with the exception of one, I’m glad I completed all of them. Here’s how I rated them (and you can find an explanation of my ratings categories here):

Marathon it now!

Splash Splash Love (TVCast Naver/MBC | 2 episodes | December 13 to December 20, 2015)

This two-episode drama masterfully combines romantic comedy and time-traveling fantasy to give us a wonderful heroine and a cute love story. While the heroine does end up falling for a Joseon king, the story is firmly rooted in her personal character arc (and hatred of math) and centers her story without giving into the temptation to let the king overwhelm it. The comedy is clever without being cruel, and on more than one occasion I actually laughed out loud. (Shocker, I know.) But perhaps my favorite thing about it is the resolution to the heroine’s character arc and her fervent desire to go home. Spend two hours on this one—you won’t regret it.

Naked Fireman (KBS2 | 4 episodes | January 12 to January 19, 2017)

I love it when prickly ladies fall in love and are loved in return without having to rewrite their personalities. Our heroine is blunt, clever, and utterly determined to solve the mystery of her parents’ murders, while our hero is a somewhat dim comedic slacker with a good heart and an overabundance of courage. Their meet-cute is absurd—and yes, involves him being paid to take off some of his clothes—but the way they genuinely fall for one another is marvelous. I’ve seen dramas that can’t compete with this romance despite having four times the number of episodes. If you need something short and cute with a thriller second half, try this.

Save Me (OCN | 16 episodes | August 5 to September 24, 2017)

I went into this show worried that the heroine’s story would quickly be co-opted by the quartet of boys trying to save her, but they never made her pain and trauma about them. Instead, the boys suffered for the heroine in her quest to escape a religious cult, and in spite the many ways in which the villains tried to break her, she never gave up. Watching the good guys join forces to uncover the corruption in their town—and just how loved ones were complicit in it—was as emotionally taxing as it was satisfying. You’ll need to take this one slow, but you should definitely watch it.

Bump it up your watch list.

Circle (tvN | 12 episodes | May 22 to June 27, 2017)

The worst storytelling tragedy is watching a show desperately over-expand to try to fill up space it really just isn’t meant to take. But this drama knew where it wanted to go, and its interconnected mysteries across three separate timelines kept the momentum going when a longer, more unwieldy show would have languished. The 2017 timeline is by far the most compelling (and had the most shriek-worthy cliffhangers), while the future timeline frequently struggled to find its emotional footing. The show’s greatest weaknesses were in extrapolating the implications of the central technology/mystery and its limited number of female characters. Nonetheless, it is a solid show that sci-fi fans should check out.

While You Were Sleeping (SBS | 32 mini episodes | September 27 to November 16, 2017)

I wanted a grander, wider-reaching story than the one I got, but that’s what happens when you promise me prophetic dreamers who want to change the futures they dream of. If I ignore what I wanted this show to be and instead judge it based on what was actually offered to me, this was a good fantasy romance about two people finding each other again after childhood tragedy and growing to love one another. And in that, it delivered on almost every level. While I have and could continue to nitpick about various storytelling choices and lack of development for some characters, I don’t regret spending sixteen hours of my life on this show.

I would advise against it.

Solomon’s Perjury (JTBC | 12 episodes | December 16, 2016, to January 28, 2017)

I’m always going to be bitter that this show lied about the heroine being the protagonist. She was great whenever she wasn’t sidelined by the hero, but even then her investigation into the death of one of her classmates was hampered at every turn by the hero withholding information from her with very little reason. In a change from many other school dramas, several of the adults are good people with the kids’ best interests at heart. There were some great characters and moments, but in the end this show ultimately fell apart when it became clear it didn’t care about its heroine at all.


So now that you’ve seen my rankings, what were your favorite dramas this year?

My Favorite 2017 Kdrama Characters

Since it’s the end of the year, I (like so many others) thought it would be fun to look back over what 2017 dramaland brought us. As always, it was a mixed bag (more on that in tomorrow’s post), but there were some excellent shows and characters. In no particular order, here’s a brief rundown of my favorite characters this year:

FEMALE CHARACTERS

Im Sang-mi from Save Me

Okay, look, I have so much adoration for Sang-mi. She survived a fucking cult and managed to get her mother out of it, too, in spite of basically every other adult around her being evil and/or useless and/or in the cult’s pocket. Including her father, whose true believer-ness turned him into an outright monster. Sang-mi endured multiple people attempting to break her spirit so she would submit to a predator and take her spot in a doomsday church—and in the end, she helped break that organization instead. Continue reading “My Favorite 2017 Kdrama Characters”

Closing – 4 hopes for Save Me

Now that the drama is over, it’s time to review how it held up against my original expectations.

We get a ton of social commentary. The drama did surprisingly well in that regard. Instead of pausing every couple of episodes for self-righteous speeches about the corruption of those in power, the injustices that were perpetrated were instead an integral part of the story. From Sang-mi being trapped in the Guseonwon to Dong-chul’s imprisonment to police officers who looked the other way to believers being milked for cash, we got to see failure after failure of the system and society. Perhaps the most reaffirming part of it all was that the good guys didn’t try to excuse their own family members’ complicity—they called them out on it instead, repeatedly.

Sang-mi’s trauma isn’t played to motivate the boys. I’m so happy about how this played out. Yeah, sure, the boys answered the call to help her, and they often expressed sympathy and were upset about her plight, but at no point did any of them take her suffering and make it about them. The boys suffered for her, because they understood that the Guseonwon was a shitty, dangerous, evil organization, and they could not help her unless they helped her bring the entire thing down.

Jung-ki is terrifying. Yep. He was. He was terrifying in his soft-spoken, I-have-half-a-dozen-people-willing-to-die-and-or-commit-murder-for-me way, and the grip he had on the Guseonwon members’ lives was absolutely awful. The man was a charismatic predator with a silver tongue and an ability to inspire fanatical devotion. His stolen wealth let him rub shoulders with the local elites and gave him absolute control in his domain. It has been a long time since I’ve seen someone who deserved to be set on fire as much as he did.

Give me an optimistic ending. Thank you. Despite the murders and the continuance of the splintered Guseonwon group, Sang-mi got her happy ending with her mother and was able to go out into the real world, just like she wanted. Dong-chul was able to start reconnecting with his father (here’s hoping he has a spot in an recovering alcoholics program), and Sang-hwan got the miracle of his mother waking up. The world is still populated with evil, corrupt people, but this time the young people won, and I’m so grateful they did.

Save Me exceeded my expectations, and it has cemented its spot near the top of my 2017 ranking. What did you think of the show?

Save Me, Episode 16 [END]

TL;DR: WE GOT A HAPPY ENDING \o/

I am thrilled to report that the good people ultimately triumphed. (Some folks got a lesser punishment than I’d hoped for, but others exceeded my wildest dreams. YAY FOR FIRE.) After the hell she went through, Sang-mi certainly deserved it, and few things were as wonderful as seeing her reunited with her mother in the end. Continue reading “Save Me, Episode 16 [END]”

Save Me, Episode 14

TL;DR: More people made it out of this episode alive than I anticipated.

I may have cheered both times Sang-mi claimed to have a revelation about something she then used to her advantage. That’s one of the unanticipated side effects of turning her into the Mother of Spirits: there is no way for a believer to counter what she says when they think she has special access to the divine. Sang-mi was able to get a few seconds semi-alone with Dong-chul to pass on information, and then she got to have a totally private conversation with her mother because of her maneuvering. Continue reading “Save Me, Episode 14”

Save Me, Episode 13

TL;DR: That escalated quickly.

First of all, I’m so grateful that Sang-mi bought herself some time to breathe. I am disgusted, but not surprised, that all it took was for her to point out how powerful Jung-ki is and to flatter his ego by saying she wanted to “accept” him on her own terms. I cannot wait for this bastard to be taken down, and I hope Sang-mi gets to gloat over him at some point. She deserves it after all the times she has had to endure conversation with him.

(Especially after that fruit metaphor. *VOMITS*) Continue reading “Save Me, Episode 13”

Save Me, Episode 12

TL;DR: You had better fucking not, show.

Episode twelve exists to start moving the pieces into place for the finale. In that, it does its job well, as it neatly stitches together smaller, inconsequential moments that I had honestly forgotten about. Turns out that the grandmother wandering into the police station to report her granddaughter’s disappearance was actually important as it’s providing a way into the Guseonwon for the police—provided the corrupt ones can find a moral line of their own and take a stand.

(I’m not holding my breath.) Continue reading “Save Me, Episode 12”