Historical Torture Methods, 11 Kilograms, and Drama News

I’m a bit all over the map, but it has been a pretty exciting week so far as browsing the internet is concerned. Here’s hoping you find something that piques your interest!

  • Korean Torture Methods: 주리를 틀다.” In episode 11 of Flower in Prison there were a lot of people getting old-fashioned tortured. You know, where the people accused of treason are stripped of their outer clothes and tied to chairs and soldiers yank on poles between their legs and screaming happens? Yeah, that. I had no idea why that would actually hurt, so I decided to google, and here you are. ACK.
  • American TV series Criminal Minds to be remade into a Korean drama.” I haven’t watched Criminal Minds in years, but I still have a soft spot for it in my heart. I’m a bit dubious about the viability of the multi-season format brb, crying over The Three Musketeers, but if they could somehow reforge the magic that made me adore the show in the first place, I would be very happy. (Though I predict the chances of keeping Penelope’s plus size frame are virtually zero.)
  • My Eleven “Extra” Kilograms Are Heavier than My Master’s Thesis.” In this personal essay, a woman talks about the reaction of her family upon seeing her again after she put on weight while writing her master’s thesis in Glasgow. It’s a fascinating look at one Korean woman’s experience in a world that she believes tells her “There are no ugly women, only women who don’t pretty themselves up as they should.
  • South Korea can’t bridge the gender divide.” It starts out with a woman getting berated by colleagues for getting pregnant and burdening them, and then when she reports it to HR, HR agrees and says she is harming the company. Yikes.
  • tvN celebrates tenth birthday with award ceremony.” tvN has been catching up to the three big networks in a number of ways, and an 4th-quarter award ceremony is another item crossed off the list. Let the complaining about formal wear and award-winners begin.
  • “‘The Flower in Prison’ Maintains First Place In Time Slot For 12 Consecutive Episodes.” Whenever I think about how lonely I am with just the six people and a shoelace on tumblr who are watching this show, I remind myself that Flower in Prison is kicking ass in South Korea. You can do it, show!
  • Lee Min-ki, Shin Mina up for fantasy romance Tomorrow With You.” Now this could be a wonderful, lovely pairing. Sure, I’m excited by the time travel, but I am also very excited by the fact that this will be a newlywed couple. None of this will-they-or-won’t-they for ages. Nope, they’ve done it! Repeatedly. I’m over this falling-in-love stuff. Show me a couple in love and united, please.

The Flower in Prison, Episode 12

TL;DR: Welcome to my shit list, Ji-hun. You didn’t have much character, but I still expected more from you than this.

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So I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: don’t go into Flower in Prison expecting a masterpiece. There are enough good things about it that I keep coming back, but on the whole—from acting to character depth to direction—it can be safely deemed adequate. This episode was really the first one where I felt that the plot had stumbled in its breakneck pace, and in two different places.

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The Flower in Prison, Episode 11

TL;DR: Sometimes bad guys don’t get everything they deserve, yet even partial punishment is seriously entertaining.

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I don’t actually have a whole lot to say about this episode—it’s mostly just extended fall-out. Granted, that is actually important as we transition out of Act One and into the next major plot arc, but that doesn’t actually leave me with much to talk about. I’m glad Queen Dowager Munjeong believed Ok-nyeo and granted her wish to return to being just the prison damo. Often in sageuk (or other heavily political shows), the protagonist ends up spending the whole time being disbelieved and outmaneuvered and squeaking by with exceptionally narrow wins, so it was remarkably refreshing for Ok-nyeo to have such a monumental triumph early on.

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The Flower in Prison, Episode 10

TL;DR: Sweet, sweet progress is made, which makes sitting through the comedy bits slightly less painful.

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Here at the 20% mark, Tae-won continues to earn points from me. Enough points that I almost feel a little bad for disliking him so much at certain points in this story. I mean, how can I not love a hero who treats his mother figure as well as he does? Who helps the heroine hide while everyone is trying to find and/or kill her? Who advises the heroine to trust no one but herself? Who checks in on her father figure and friend? Who ultimately decides to go with the heroine’s wishes and put her into contact with the one guy who could possibly save her?

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The Flower in Prison, Episode 9

TL;DR: I forgive two people I didn’t expect to forgive in this episode, but I stick another two on my shit list and side-eye one more.

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The first one I have to forgive is Tae-won—surprise! After getting on my nerves so much in the last episode, he actually turned things around not once but twice. Some people might call me hard on male leads, but honestly I just am not happy watching a couple form when the guy is a jerk and clearly doesn’t deserve the lady.

How did Tae-won earn my forgiveness? By dropping his super important bribery meeting so he could save Ok-nyeo and then by listening to her when she told her story about becoming a secret intelligence agent. (You picked her life and her betrayal over your boss who trusted you with everything!) Where was this Tae-won last time? Regardless, I’m glad he’s here now, and I hope he sticks around because we clearly need more scenes of him tenderly caring for Ok-nyeo. Maybe the two of you can unite and Ok-nyeo can center Tae-won’s revenge on Won-hyung, where the bulk of the blame belongs.

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The Flower in Prison, Episode 8

TL;DR: Tae-won whines a lot and Ok-nyeo doesn’t get to say much of anything.

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I’m sorry, Tae-won, but you really tried my patience this episode, mostly because you didn’t really seem to care as much about the fact that Ok-nyeo is in prison for unknown reasons in comparison to satisfying your curiosity. Can you just…not? Please? She’s getting framed for the murder of her mentor and you’re here berating her about betraying you when you guys aren’t noticeably closer than the multitude of other prisoners she’s helped in the past. Go away until you’ve gotten over yourself, all right?

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The Flower in Prison, Episode 7

TL;DR: I’m pretty sure we all saw that coming.

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I continue to be in awe of the pace at which this story is unfolding. There’s something so refreshing about how nothing gets dragged out for ages. The last time I tried to watch a 50-episoder, it circled endlessly around the same two plot points until I finally gave up in despair around episode 30. But Flower in Prison blazes onward, confident in the breadth of its characters and the many layers of its plot. I’ve watched far shorter shows that weren’t able to cover the same amount of ground in their entire run that Flower in Prison has sped through in seven episodes.

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The Flower in Prison, Episode 6

TL;DR: I haven’t seen such badass archery since War of the Arrows. We even got to have people set on fire in this episode, too!

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This is the episode that convinced me that we had officially moved beyond the setup and into the meat of the story—and it did so in dramatic fashion. More on that in a moment.

Our last main cast member was finally introduced in this episode: the upright (uptight) Ji-hun, who has been appointed the new captain of the police bureau. Aside from being astonishingly pretty, he has a temper and little tolerance for officers’ corruption—though I notice that didn’t stop him from carefully chosen words and flattery when it came to his meeting with Shin-hye’s parents. How well will his principles stand against Won-hyung and Nan-jung? I don’t know, and I am excited by the possibilities.

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The Flower in Prison, Episode 5

TL;DR: Everyone is making life-altering decisions in this episode, and I am slightly concerned by several of them.

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Is it just me, or is anyone else as unimpressed by Tae-won as I am? Granted, his ties to the main plot are finally getting stronger, what with his boss being tied to the Ming Chief Eunuch and this opening up a new trade route—but I still just don’t get him. Why are you so obsessed with vengeance upon Nan-jung? Is she the one who didn’t want to allow you or your mother into the estate? If so, does that mean you’re Won-hyung’s or another noble’s bastard? And if you are, why aren’t you blaming your daddy for not providing adequately for your mother instead of getting pissed at Nan-jung? This is all speculation right now, but I’m going to be extremely irritated if I’m right.

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The Flower in Prison, Episode 4

TL;DR: There are some attempts at pointing out and ridiculing sexism that kind of don’t work all that well on account of sexism, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

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This was the last proper episode for the young version of Ok-nyeo, and I have to say I’m charmed by the child actress who plays her. She did a pretty good job with a broad range of scenes—and did those scenes make me happy. I was so pleased that Ok-nyeo got to show off her language and fighting skills at the same time, but what made me go awwww was just how proud everyone else was of her. None of this “but what is a young girl like you doing, involving yourself in something dangerous!” or anything like that—no, everyone was so just so damned proud of her (and offered to make her an official damo with real pay and everything?!) and praised her, from her father figure to the head prison official. And her teacher was proud of her, too. ;_;

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