4 Hopes for Encounter/Boyfriend

All right, apparently I am in a Winter Mood, and that means I’m in need of a quiet romance where our heroine tries to cobble together something approaching a happy life. I’m betting on tvN’s latest offering, Encounter (or Boyfriend or something equally bland), to do that for me. (If not, I guess I can always rewatch Just Between Lovers. Or maybe Secret Love Affair.) As usual, here’s my short list of things I want from this drama:

  1. Soo-hyun has an interesting relationship with another woman in the cast. I’m not picky, honestly. Her mother? Her secretary? One of the three ladies on the public relations team? It doesn’t even have to be a good or a healthy one, just an interesting one, but my kingdom for a nice, supportive friendship somewhere in there.
  2. Soo-hyun’s good at her job. She’s the CEO of a hotel, come on, let her be on top of her shit at work (especially if the rest of the plot is going to revolve around a man bringing color and joy and happiness to her life). I’m craving some ladies kicking ass in the corporate world or at least not fucking it up so the men in their lives can swoop in and teach them how to do it right. That doesn’t mean she can’t face problems or challenges to her leadership—I just want to believe that there’s a reason Soo-hyun’s has this job.
  3. Jin-hyuk adores Soo-hyun. Look, that’s the best part of a noona romance (it is one, right?)—I want him to adore the shit out of her and respect her experience and knowledge and abilities. He can bring all the figurative color into her life that he wants, I just need him to do it with stars in his eyes and a sincere desire for her to be happy.
  4. There’s a serious discussion about their wealth disparity. I don’t know how I want that conversation to go, but I do want it to happen, and I do want it to be a Thing. (Dare I hope that Soo-hyun’s parents throw a money envelope at Jin-hyuk? Because that would be amazing.)

Are you going to watch the drama? What are your hopes for the show?

4 Hopes for The Guest

Still can’t find any news on whether or not this show is getting licensed, but in the meantime, I’m going to pretend I’m an optimist. I love supernatural stuff and horror and Kim Jae-wook’s cheekbones, so I’m crossing my fingers that someone will get the show. In the meantime, here are my four hopes for it:

  1. Shamanism isn’t window dressing. Most places are calling Hwa-pyung a psychic, but he’s supposed to be descended from shamans. I’m like 95% certain I’ve never seen a serious and useful depiction of shamanism in a kdrama, and I want to see it treated seriously (and respectfully) in this show.
  2. Catholicism isn’t, either (I’m assuming Yoon is a Catholic priest…). Okay, look, I had a Catholic friend in high school who was very…interested in exorcism-related stuff (and seriously considered becoming a priest for a while, going so far as to study for it). I’d like this to be taken just as seriously as the shamanism and for me (as a non-Catholic) to feel like the writers did their research re: the theology.
  3. The supernatural rules make sense. We don’t have to know them all from the start, but I want them to be consistent and make sense and support the world building. Impress me with the clever application of the rules; don’t take the easy way out of any supernatural dilemmas.
  4. Gil-young doesn’t get sidelined in favor of the guys. The skeptic without powers can be sidelined hard in supernatural shows. She doesn’t have to believe right away, and she doesn’t have to have secret powers (though sign me up for that), but I want her to hold her own in the narrative. Please?

Will you be checking out The Guest? What are your hopes for the show?

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?

4 Hopes for What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim

So, office romcoms are not my thing, especially when the boss is a guy and the underling is a lady, mostly because those power dynamics squick me out. But I love Park Min-young, and I know that Park Seo-joon can play head-over-heels in love from his stint on A Witch’s Romance, so I’ll be giving it a shot. (Plus? The feckless boss falling for a hyper-competent underling can be really fun if done well, and I’m praying this is done well.) All that said, I’ve still got a couple of items on my wishlist for the show:

Young-joon confesses his feelings first. It’s clear from the teasers that he thinks Mi-so is in love with him, so I think it would be delightful if he were the only one to catch feelings and end up confessing only to find out that, ooops, nope, she just wants to end her employment with him, sorry. (Bonus points if his confession is Mr. Darcy-esque where he manages to insult her and everything about her in the process of explaining the depths of his feelings for her. Extra bonus points if she rejects him.)

Mi-so actually is a goddess among secretaries instead of just having lip service paid to her abilities. This is a small pet peeve of mine, but it irritates me when we’re told, not shown, just how awesome a lady is at her job, only for her skills/intelligence/etc. to fail her at a crucial dramatic moment so the hero can swoop in and save her. I don’t think there’s a high likelihood of that here since the teasers have consistently portrayed Young-joon as completely out of touch with reality/self-absorbed—but still. I’m keeping an eye on you, show.

What catalyzes Young-joon’s change to a more mature person (because I’m assuming that’s what his character arc will be) is realizing that he in his current state has literally nothing she looks for in a romantic partner (because I’m assuming he doesn’t). Few things are as unattractive in a romantic partner as needing to handle them like you would a toddler. I don’t want Young-joon to grow up in order to win Mi-so’s heart; I want him to grow up because he realizes that he did not even register as dateable because he was a toddler in  a man’s body. I want some serious self-reflection out of him about his own life and behavior and expectations.

Mi-so has friends and/or coworkers that she can vent to. Because heaven knows, she’ll need it after all the Young-joon managing she has to do. I want her to have a life outside of her boss and her job, and all the better if she makes it clear at some point that her world does not revolve around him.

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

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?

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?

Closing – 4 Hopes for Mother

Between my late start and general life hectic-ness, it took me an extra six weeks to complete Mother, but I’m glad I finished it. Mother was a solid show, filled with a variety of women in different stages of life, economic class, and background. While I had various nitpicks throughout the show, I had few actual grievances with it. It’s time to look back at my four original hopes and compare them to what the show actually did.

  1. Ja-young’s abuse isn’t pinned on her single mother status. Aside from a few lines, the show was actually careful not to assign Ja-young’s abusive behavior to her single mother status. It really helped that Yeong-sin, Soo-jin, and Hong-hee were portrayed as good single mothers who were capable of living up to what the show had decided was its criteria for True Motherhood. Unfortunately for me, I actually sided against the show on that point. Ooops.
  2. The show tackles the social and cultural failures of preventing child abuse. I really liked the setup to Soo-jin’s decision to kidnap Hye-na. The show didn’t shy away from pointing out all the ways the school and the police failed to protect her, and it even got meta toward the end with Hyun-jin writing exposés about Hye-na’s case. If these systems hadn’t failed Hye-na so thoroughly, this show never would have happened.
  3. Hye-na is able to make decisions that are respected by Soo-jin. Soo-jin was amazing at this. I loved how often she checked in with/consulted Hye-na and explained things to her in an age-appropriate way. Honestly, the show gets full marks for this, especially since they also had Hye-na run off and do things on her own/in spite of what Soo-jin would have wanted for her. It felt like Hye-na had agency and that she was respected by Soo-jin.
  4. Soo-jin gets to explore both the good and the bad about motherhood. I don’t think Soo-jin had a whole lot of the bad, per se—most of the bad was directly related to her being on the run from the law—but with all the other mothers in the show, we got a long, hard look at some of motherhood’s more disappointing and/or unsavory aspects. I’m still ready and willing to pick a fight with the show over its True Motherhood conclusion, but I didn’t walk away from it thinking it would be all joy and rainbows, either.

So what did you think of the show? It’s going to end up high on my list for 2018, that’s for sure.

4 Hopes for Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food

So, even though it still doesn’t look like there’s a legal way for me to watch this show, I’m going to be bitter post my hopes for it anyway. I have been dying to watch it ever since it was first announced because I absolutely adored the cinematography in Secret Love Affair and Heard It Through the Grapevine. Plus, the premise speaks to the core of my soul. In any case, here are four hopes I have:

  1. Joon-hee respects Jin-ah as much as he has feelings for her. Look, nothing ruins a noona romance faster for me than when the guy is arrogant or stomps all over the lady’s boundaries. *snarls at I Need Romance 3* Basically the shy/eager vibe he projected in the teasers? I need that, always, coupled with him listening to her and not thinking he knows best because he’s the dude. She’s got several years of life experience on him, so don’t just dismiss her because she doesn’t think/feel/say what he wants her to.
  2. Joon-hee defends Jin-ah should anyone make “too old”-esque comments in his presence. Again, this boils down to respect. Perhaps the second-fastest way for me to sour on a romance is if the guy won’t stick up for his love interest in front of his friends/peers/family. With Joon-hee’s experience abroad and white-collar career, I can just imagine the kind of snobbery that could be lobbed Jin-ah’s way. If anyone dares to imply that he could “do better” than Jin-ah, then I want him to shut that down immediately.
  3. Jin-ah has a life outside Joon-hee. She built a life without him in it, and I want that life to continue existing even after he shows up. I want other people and things to continue to be important to Jin-ah because a romantic relationship isn’t the end-all, be-all of a person. Yes, Jin-ah, get swept off your feet, but remember in the morning that you’ve got a life to live that isn’t centered on Joon-hee.
  4. Jin-ah and Kyung-sun have a great friendship. Things can be a bit awkward after the initial what do you mean you like my little brother shock, but I want their friendship to survive and thrive even if romantic feelings are brewing between Jin-ah and Joon-hee. I need more female friendships, please!

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

Closing – 4 Hopes for Just Between Lovers

I finally finished Just Between Lovers, so it’s time to look back and see whether or not the show fulfilled my hopes and dreams. (Spoiler alert: It did, in so many lovely ways.)

Kang-doo is not an asshole to Moon-soo. He could be prickly and blunt and sometimes said things she needed to hear but didn’t want to, but otherwise he spent the rest of the show making heart eyes at her and convinced he wasn’t good enough for her. Kang-doo never talked shit about her job or her trauma or her family or her, and it’s so easy to fall head-over-heels for a guy who is head-over-heels in love with someone else. As Moon-soo said, he was always on her side, and that’s something I will forever be happy about.

Kang-doo actually has something of substance to offer Moon-soo. It only took a few episodes to realize that Kang-doo was entirely willing to do his fair share of the emotional labor in their relationship, and it was wonderful. He cared about her and wanted her to be happy, just as much as she wanted him to be happy. Kang-doo proved himself worthy of Moon-soo’s love, and I felt like they were an evenly matched couple.

Moon-soo gets to have relationships with other women. Her mother was a major (and frequently negative) force in her life, but it was usually clear that they loved one another. On top of that, Moon-soo’s friend, Wan-jin, was always ready to fight people for her and to encourage Moon-soo to do this whole love and dating thing. We even got a cute, almost-mentorship between her and So-mi, though that should have been fleshed out much more.

Moon-soo is respected at her work. Except for that one team lead who insinuated she was getting her jobs based on sex appeal as opposed to talent, everyone in the office respected Moon-soo and her abilities. And Moon-soo shut down that team lead quite easily, so that was refreshing. I’m extremely happy that she was able to flex her design muscles with the memorial park.

So what did you think? Did Just Between Lovers fulfill your expectations? Let me know!

4 Hopes for Mother

I love Lee Bo-young, and I’m particular fond of Lee Bo-young in fiercely protective and/or maternal roles, so I was thrilled to find out she was cast in Mother. I haven’t seen the Japanese original (no spoilers, please!), so I’m heading into this with just a premise and some high expectations. Here are four things I hope Mother delivers on:

  1. Ja-young’s abuse isn’t pinned on her single mother status. Single mothers already have enough uphill battles to face in Korea that the last thing I want is to see Ja-young’s single mother status being trotted out as the reason for her abuse of Hye-na, especially since men are more often abusers. She can (and should be) portrayed as a terrible person for abusing Hye-na; her single mother status shouldn’t be one of the things that make her terrible.
  2. The show tackles the social and cultural failures of preventing child abuse. There are a lot of reasons why child abuse goes underreported and even unpunished, and I want this show to dive deep into all of it. I want to see how the whole system fails Hye-na to the point where Soo-jin thinks the best course of action is to literally kidnap her from her mother.
  3. Hye-na is able to make decisions that are respected by Soo-jin. It’s important to me that this abused little girl is able to figure out what makes her happy and what she wants out of a mother. I don’t want her to be trading one tyrant for another.
  4. Soo-jin gets to explore both the good and the bad about motherhood. It’s great that she wants to swoop in and save the day, but there’s more to motherhood than impulsive heroics. The bad, the sad, the boring, the frustrating, the happy, the joyful—I want a full spectrum of what it’s like to be responsible for a small human being.

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