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5 Kdramas You Should Marathon This Summer

Because it is too damned hot to go outside during the bulk of the daylight hours–at least in my neck of the woods. I’m going to stay inside where it’s air conditioned and I have plenty of snacks to sustain me while marathoning.

#1 Arang and the Magistrate (2012)

From a strict world-building point-of-view, Arang and the Magistrate is the best fantasy kdrama I’ve ever watched. The world, based on a famous folktale, feels magical, and its fantastical elements are grounded by winning performances from its cast. While I think it could have been a little tighter if two episodes were shaved off, the drama generally maintains its fast pace and keeps a clear focus on the mystery of Arang’s murder and the search for Eun-oh’s mother. Watching the lead couple fall in love is a treat, and the high stakes in their search for truth only enhances their romance. Be prepared for comedy, drama, and tragedy in this exciting historical fantasy.

#2 I Hear Your Voice (2013)

This was a mishmash of genres and tropes that honestly sounded like a disaster on paper: a mind-reader, a courtroom drama, a one-sided childhood love, a childhood rivalry/competition carrying over to adulthood, and a killer bent on revenge. Luckily, there was some magic holding all these pieces together. Even though awful things happened to our characters, I Hear Your Voice was astonishingly relentless in its optimism and sympathy for other people, even terrible ones. Character development arcs for the leads cemented our main pair as one of my very few kdrama OTPs. The drama suffered mildly from its two-episode extension, but I can’t even really hold it against the show when that allowed it to develop a touching character arc for a secondary character.

 

#3 Two Weeks (2013)

I’m a sucker for redemption stories, and Tae-san had such a wonderful character arc that he’s one of the few absent fathers I have ever rooted for. The deadline to his bone marrow donation for his daughter put real weight behind his desperate attempts to evade both the bad guys and the police in order to stay alive (and healthy) long enough to get to the hospital. Over the course of the show, he earned the allies he needed to go from being a panicked fugitive to a trickster ready to bring the villains down. The supporting characters were amazing, I’m genuinely disappointed this drama didn’t end with an OT3. It was so close! #TeamHappyFamily

#4 Heartless City (2013)

If you’re looking for a cops vs. gangsters drama with a dark and gritty noir atmosphere, look no further than Heartless City. From a slick score to brutal fight scenes to corruption on all levels, this drama is an entertaining ride. The biggest draw for this show (aside from the soundtrack and cinematography) is the enigmatic and well-dressed Doctor’s Son and his two closest supporters. While the show does suffer from sidelining its heroine and its sometimes too-convoluted-for-its-own-good plot twists/character reveals, it is one of the best crime-themed kdramas I’ve had the chance to watch. Give it a shot when you need a break from trendy romantic comedies.

 

 

#5 Secret Love Affair (2014)

Are you in the mood for an unforgettable drama about a woman who found herself trapped in a cage of her own making by sacrificing her morals and time and youth in order to acquire wealth and prestige? Are you in the mood to watch her rediscover her love of music, crave quiet moments of happiness, and find passion and desire with the help of a much younger man? Secret Love Affair boasted one of the smartest scripts in 2014, and its detailed camerawork and gorgeous soundtrack ensured that the audience paid attention to every detail. Kim Hee-ae and Yoo Ah-in’s performances as the two lovers were breathtaking. If you want smart, sophisticated, morally gray, and engaging storytelling, make sure you check this out.


What’s on your summer marathon list? Let me know!

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My 5 Favorite Female Villains in Kdrama

Even though it has been months, I’m still not over the disappointment that was The K2. So in honor of Choi Yoo-jin, one of the very best villains I’ve seen in dramaland in a long time, here’s a list of my top five favorite female villains (of shows I actually completed).

#1 – Moo-yeon from Arang and the Magistrate

It’s not every day you encounter a body-hopping, virgin-eating, exiled heavenly fairy in dramaland, and Moo-yeon was unforgettable. Like most of my favorite villains, Moo-yeon had motivations I could sympathize with and means that I detested. She was utterly ruthless and clever enough to hide from and out-scheme the Jade Emperor and the King of Hell for four hundred years, plus she inspired terrible devotion/terror in her surrogate-son/pseudo-lover (the second male lead). And on top of that, she  also happened to be wearing the hero’s mother’s body, so she was a serious threat to all of our heroes physical and emotional well-beings. Continue reading “My 5 Favorite Female Villains in Kdrama”

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5 Kdramas That I Need to Rewatch Soon

The nights are getting longer in my neck of the woods, and that always means it’s time to pull out the fuzzy blankets and hot chocolate–and maybe seriously consider marathoning a kdrama or two.  I haven’t properly marathoned anything in a while, but it’d be nice to sit back down with some old favorites and see just how well they hold up under fresh eyes. Time to dig up some snacks and settle in for a long weekend.

white-christmas#1 – White Christmas (Yes, this is a bit of a cheat since I’m already planning and organizing a rewatch of it over the Christmas holidays, but still.)

One of my all-time favorites, so much so that I nearly broke my own classification rules and put it on the full-length list. While the majority of the cast is (sometimes painfully) green, this is an intriguing psychological thriller that turns into the best/worst kind of can-and-mouse game. The cinematography and soundtrack are some of my favorite things about the show, as is the relentless focus on the show’s central question: are monsters born, or are they made? While a few final act plot holes prevent White Christmas from achieving perfection, this cult classic deserves eight hours of your time. I’d even go so far as to say it deserves a rewatch, because you’ll definitely pick up on new things the second time around.

Pair it with: Pancakes and despair. Continue reading “5 Kdramas That I Need to Rewatch Soon”

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5 Favorite Kdrama Thrillers

It’s October, and that means it’s time to pull out the scary characters or the disturbing ideas or the things that get your heart racing! I’m not one for gross-out horror when it comes to Halloween–I prefer to be made paranoid and/or terrified rather than disgusted. So here’s a list of my favorite kdrama thrillers, of both the psychological and the physical variety. Maybe I’ll pull one of these out now that the nights are getting longer…

white-christmas#1 – White Christmas

One of my all-time favorites, so much so that I nearly broke my own classification rules and put it on the full-length list. While the majority of the cast is (sometimes painfully) green, this is an intriguing psychological thriller that turns into the best/worst kind of can-and-mouse game. The cinematography and soundtrack are some of my favorite things about the show, as is the relentless focus on the show’s central question: are monsters born, or are they made? While a few final act plot holes prevent White Christmas from achieving perfection, this cult classic deserves eight hours of your time. (And yes, I will organize another re-watch this year.) Continue reading “5 Favorite Kdrama Thrillers”