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Premiere Watch: Watcher, Level Up, Hotel del Luna

There’s nothing like the dog days of summer to keep me indoors, in a cool air-conditioned room with my dramas. Our latest premieres come from a variety of genres, and it looks like they’ll be interesting enough to keep us entertained till autumn.

 

Watcher

Time slot: Saturday & Sunday
Broadcaster: OCN
Genre: Psychological thriller
Episode count: 16 episodes

Reasons to watch: Tragedy can make for strange bedfellows, and that’s probably the simplest way to explain how three people from different fields of law enforcement can end up on one team. Han Seok-kyu, Kim Hyun-joo, and Seo Kang-joon star as a team of investigators who target corruption in the police force and the prosecutor’s office. A tragic event upends our protagonists’ lives and it seems that official corruption may have been behind the event. Though our leads may not have much in common–or even like each other–they’re willing to fight to unearth the facts and speak truth to power. I’m enjoying this year’s trend of social critique in dramas and considering that this is an OCN show, I’m expecting a dark and gritty narrative.

 

Level Up

Time slot: Wednesday & Thursday
Broadcaster: MBN
Genre: Workplace rom-com
Episode count: 12 episodes

Reasons to watch: Rom-coms set in the workplace aren’t unusual, but it is pretty uncommon to see a rom-com set at a gaming company. Han Bo-reum stars as said gaming company’s founder and CEO. She’s skilled at all things gaming-related, but she might not have the best business mind as the drama’s premise centers on her trying to save her company. That’s where leading man Sung Hoon comes in, as he specializes in rescuing failing companies. So the two have a common goal but their personalities are so different–he’s cool and collected, while she’s hotheaded and passionate–that they constantly bicker while trying to do their respective jobs. If you’re into gaming culture and rom-coms, this could be perfect slice of fun for you.

 

Hotel del Luna

Time slot: Saturday & Sunday
Broadcaster: tvN
Genre: Fantasy, romance, horror
Episode count: 16 episodes

Reasons to watch: I’m awaiting the latest Hong sisters’ drama with a mix of anticipation (IU! Yeo Jin-gu!) and dread, because it’s been a long while since the Hong sisters turned out a solid show. IU plays the owner the Hotel del Luna, which prides itself on offering the best service possible. The top class hotel is unique in that it serves a select clientele–the undead. If you’re a ghost, you can be a guest. You may think that any employee there would need a spine of steel, but IU ends up hiring the biggest of scaredy cats as her hotel manager: book smart Harvard grad, Yeo Jin-gu. If he can manage his fear of ghosts, he may have a long career–and romance–ahead of him. Reservations aside, the concept is intriguing enough and though the Hong sisters are stars in dramaland, that quirky concept and lead pairing are the main draws for me.

 
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so excited for Hotel Del Luna! can’t wait to see what IU and Yeo Jin-goo bring to the screen!

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Hotel del Luna for me.
Not a horror fan but doubt it is going too scary. Plus, IU gave me Ji-an so showing some support in gratitude, lol.

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Same reason why I'm watching. I felt some Ji An vibes in the trailers. She looked so tough but when glimpses of her past life were shown, she looked so lost and vulnerable

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I can't watch it. Why hong sister like ghost story? I'll never know. I was such a scaredy cat.

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Master’s Sun was all about ghosts too and it wasn’t that scary.

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Watcher is off to an interesting start: murder, kidnapping, corruption, childhood trauma, child victims, PTSD, car crashes, motorcycle chases, double-crossing double crossers, with a special emphasis on fathers. Not a light or fun watch, but intriguing.

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Ha, ha! Watcher does have all those action adventures you mention! But it didn't really seem like too much. I enjoyed the first two episodes and am looking forward to the next two. I really like that combination of characters as they each have strong personalities of their own but seem like they will also work together well in time. MINOR SPOILER ++++++ I was a little surprised to see the one character die off so soon. Being a big name, I thought he would hang in there for more than 2 episodes.

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I know, I was so surprised, it was like a cameo. Maybe he'll be in flashbacks. But I must be in the mood for dark because I'm loving it. Makes me feel alive again...

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I was surprised to see him in this drama because he's in another one. So I was not suprised by this.

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What other drama is he in? I almost added Heartless City to watch again!

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Hit send too soon...I loved him in Heart to Heart. Wish that was still available.

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Joseon Survival

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Yes. The jinxed JOSEON SURVIVAL which I have been enjoying up to now.

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Level Up looks cute, and I'm always game for more rom-com fluff. Just capped off Oh, My Venus (meh overall, but had its moments), so feels like a natural segue to see what Sung Hoon gets up to.

Stoked for Hotel del Luna - both the premise and the Hong pedigree. Contrary to some, I loved most of Korean Odyssey (only other Hong sisters show I've seen, admittedly), so if this is in the same vein - sign me up!

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I'm going to check out the pilot eps of Hotel Del Luna. I have my reservation for Hong Sisters, but IU looks so good in the teaser and I hope the writers can deliver that interesting premise.

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I'm so excited for these new dramas. Yay!!! But exams got me for about a month plus😔. I guess i'm gonna have to catch up after my exams. More for me then😁

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Hotel Del Luna has a very Addams family vibe to it and I am all for it!

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Creepy, kooky and altogether ookie indeed.

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....Hotel del Luna family...*snap* *snap*

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Hey, another acting gig for Mina of Gugudan (far left in the Hotel del Luna poster).

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And PO from Block B!

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Every flippin’ week in July is going to be a Premiere Week, isn’t it?? 😂😂

I couldn’t put my finger upon what “Hotel del Luna” reminds me of until this post (so thank you, @stroopwafel )... It reminds me of “Hotel Transylvania” 😉😉 Hotel with guest of the undead 🧟‍♀️

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I wish I could watch Hotel del Luna but even the ghosts in the teasers look scary. Can't do it.

Looking forward to Sung Hoon and Han Boreum in Level Up. Hope it's good!

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I really love Lee Ji eun, but no... I refuse to see paranormal activities as something fun. It is not.

Me, I will rewatch My Ajusshi. Period.

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WATCHER: You're right - dark and gritty and wow, am I ever in the mood for dark and gritty. Love the camera work, the noir feel, the cast is amazing and work so well together. It all comes together as a quality production (of course this is only two episodes in, but it's OCN so I'm very hopeful).

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I have not started on this one, I was going to wait and read some reviews. However, the comments from MDL were strangely negative - several were on Seo Kang Joon's acting. Maybe he's still getting hate for his role in CITT. Someone called him " cliche bastard rebel for teen girl". Others seem to be on the fact that his character isn't likable. Guess I will have to watch it myself. I mean we have Han Seok Kyu and Kim Hyun Joo, what's not to like?

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Well this isn't a fluffy romcom and Seo Kang Joon is not necessarily a nice guy. He's smart, clever, conflicted, is nice to old ladies and kids, has issues because of the usual tragic childhood. I got all this from the first couple episodes. So I'd say his acting is pretty dang good, as well as the directing.
I'll bet negative comments are because the majority of kdrama watchers want fluffy romcoms and this is my cup of tea, dark and gritty.
This is one of the few dramas I'd watch not because of the actors but because the actors are playing their flawed roles very nicely. They're all flawed characters which is more interesting to me than fluffy cotton candy.

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Hmmm....I'm not sure if it's because they wanted fluffy romcoms. This is a completely wrong genre. Fluffy romcoms should be the other two dramas - Level Up and Hotel Del Luna.

I don't mind fluff but the problem is fluff isn't that easy to do either. So instead of fluffy cotton candy - we just get a sticky gooey mess.

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No, I didn't express myself well. Fans seem to prefer any romcom more than anything dark, not that they were expecting Watcher to be a romcom but still having negative feelings because of what their preferences tend to be (I've probably still not made myself clear, sigh, writing has never been my forte).

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Was so excited to see so many comments on my posts this morning when I woke up - only to find out they're mostly about CITT. Sigh. No offense to anyone but I'm really tired of hearing about CITT. But I will say one thing: I watched about 10 minutes of CITT when it first aired but couldn't stand the red headed female lead, so I dropped it. Now I understand she's an extremely popular actress, which I didn't know at the time and was greatly surprised to learn that later.
So Seo Kang Joon's first role for me was the robot, which he was excellent (or he follows the director well). @outofthisworld There seems to be conflicting opinions about Watcher, so if you watch the first two episodes let us know your thoughts. Someone above mentioned not liking the 2nd episode because it was over dramatic, OCN style. But that's what I like...
I usually am in the minority though when it comes to dramas. What I like, most don't, and vice versa.

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The other thing I wanted to mention was the first scene, a camera shot called a "one-er oner?" The camera kept rolling through the whole police station. Everyone has to be on their mark, everything has to be timed perfectly for it to work. Quite difficult to do so I was impressed.

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I found him pretty good. And he has to act with Han Suk Kyu who is very charismatic, it's not easy. I think some people just don't want to like him because of CITT. I liked his character. He is pretty smart and he cares about people. He doesn't go into the heap for no reason.

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I still don't get how somebody can hate someone because of his character in some of his/her previous works. Hate the writer. He made a good work with InHo in CITT, I was rooting for him in the webtoon as well. Maybe I'm good at rooting for unlucky characters.

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Personaly, I never liked the hero in CITT in the original story and the drama. I think the way he handled things made the heroine to feel alone when Inho was here for her and with her. I think that SKJ was very good in his role and had a great chemistry with KGE.

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There was this huge debacle behind the scenes in CITT. It wasn't just about SKJ's character. I didn't follow the entire thing but I remember reading an article which said the writer favored him and changed the script to give him more screen time and wrote the main lead out of the picture. I don't know how much of it was true but something was definitely wrong with the drama. I didn't read the webtoon and even I could tell something was off. However, I believe SJK was not to be blamed. He was a victim as much as PHJ. For a long time, people called him names and he was known as the piano guy. So I was really surprised he managed to make a 'come back'.

If someone wants to say it's because he has strong backing, who cares. I don't bother about these going ons behind the scene, I look at an actor only based on what he brings to the drama and so far, I have only been impressed by SJK's acting.

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@outofthisworld actually the webtoon wasn't finished yet when the drama aired. InHo had huge time in webtoon at that period as well, more than the main character. I loved him more as well because he wasn't robotic handsome cheabol as the male lead but was present for the whole family and the heroine when she needed it. So much of the screen time was determined by the development in webtoon. Maybe SKJ's personality is more amiable than PHJ's.

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I forgot the bit about the webtoon being uncompleted at that point.

I do not know if it's my personality or something. When I watch a drama, I seldom belong to any camp(actor) or need to insist that a drama stay true to the original version or webtoon etc because I don't even know about them most of the time. I only saw that Yoo Jung was strangely out of the picture.

When it comes to the actors, I think I consciously make an effort not to 'know' them. I used to read about their personal lives, watch them in variety/reality shows and I still do at times when I come across a newly discovered actor who catches my attention. But I never do it for long. I am too skeptical and cynical. This said, I have my prejudices and bias. I confess I formed my opinion on the CITT issue but it's based purely on my intuition.

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@outofthisworld I think it was a lot done by PHJ's fans. I can understand they were disapointed but for me the drama was still great. And all the movie was a big fiasco.
It's the first time that a lead disapears. Usualy, it's because of acting I think like Hyeri in Two Cops and Sooyoung in Police Unit 38.

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@kurama

Do you mean they write off or cut down a lead's time because of his/her acting? I don't think so although I secretly wish that for some actors. Not in CITT though.

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I think because I don't see any reason that the female lead has suddenly less scenes and they were not good actresses... To be honest, I didn't miss them. In Police Unit 38, all the other female characters were badass and played by good actresses.

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As for Seo Kang Joon, he seems to be doing a great job of portraying this cold, "take no BS" type of guy who is dealing with some childhood trauma. The little girl and her father recognize him as the "good" cop despite the fact that he's the one who shot the father (the first time). They see that he is ethical and determined to do the morally right thing. I liked his character, too, even though he isn't particularly "friendly," or warm to anyone but children. He does seem to be honest, too.

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There was the hesitancy (cowardly?) bit in 2nd episode where he froze and could not shoot the bad cop who was chopping off a finger...
Which exactly is it? Did he just freeze because he's fairly new at this type of police business since he was used to being a traffic cop? He doesn't seem cowardly at times so I was a bit confused as to the motivation.

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@LindaPalapala He was having flashbacks to what happened to his mom. I thought that was why he froze.

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He was lost in his memories of his mum death.

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At that point wasn’t Det. Kim Kang-wook beginning the torture of the kidnapper in order to find the child’s location. I thought he hoped to hear where the child was.
OTOH that theory is shaky because supposedly the kidnapper was cooperating with the police.
I am loving this show.

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I don't know, for me he is good in episode 1. His facial expression is so on point. The problem start in episode 2 where it's become too dramatic, ocn style. That it's more to do with the way they direct him imo than anything else.

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Thanks @linda-palapala. WATCHER is my most anticipated drama for awhile. I am so glad you liked the first two episodes.
I was away from home and maintaining kdrama silence 4-7 July. Today I spent over 10 hours getting home and tonight I am scanning the comments trying to avoid spoilers.
I am pleasantly surprised how fast the two episodes became available subbed on Viki.
The two main reasons I am watching WATCHER are that I love OCN dramas and because Seo Kang-joon is appearing. I am unfamiliar with the two other leads but I have Han Suk-kyu’s ROMANTIC DOCTOR KIM queued up on Viki as a catch up of a fine drama I missed.
I enjoyed SKJ in AYHT and TTC. You probably remember the reaction TTC received when some realized it wasn’t a rom-com. I never saw CITT (I had to search his work to figure out what that was!) so this will be my only reference.
Can we hope that WATCHER will be recapped?
Also I noticed the ratings were quite good.

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My two main reasons also. But found I'm impressed with all the leads. So you liked TTC? Maybe I'll try it.

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Yes. I did enjoy THE THIRD CHARM and can recommend it but as a drama/melo that dealt with some tough subjects. That is why SKJ fans looking for a rom-com were disappointed.
I mentioned in an earlier WATCHER post that the SKJ pic used could have been lifted out of TTC where he also played a police officer.
In TTC I think SKJ was terrific but Esom was outstanding. In a way she had the heavier lifting acting wise because of the character she portrayed. I hope that helps.

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TTC was great. The third part was the heavier but my favourite one.

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What is going on with that hand in the Hotel del Luna picture?!

This one has caught my attention, but we’ll see. The only Hong Sister’s drama I’ve seen is Master’s Sun, but I loved that one. It was my very first k-drama which probably has a lot to do with why I enjoyed it so much. As long as the ghosts aren’t much creepier in Hotel than they were in Master’s Sun, I should be fine.

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I saw that weird hand and right away tried to figure out which human it belonged to. Then realized it didn’t belong to a living human. Well duh, hotel for ghosts.
But it is creepy.

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Haha, yeah I kept going back and looking at it and was like “nope, that really doesn’t belong to anybody.”

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Looks like a bad photoshop, where they decided to piece them all in from whatever shots. If you look at his elbow on that side, there's also a weird "shadow" on the women's shirt next to him. Looks like they missed a spot when erasing whomever he was linking arms with.

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Oh, and looking further at the outlines of each cast member, they DEFINITELY pieced them together from other shots. If you blow up the image and look at IU's ankle area, you also see where they didn't erase whatever the background was in the original shot well. They tried to match it up with the dark square on the floor, but should have blended the edge better.

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Oooh, I see it. That's really funny. Considering the genre, that could definitely be passed off as a ghost though even then it feels a bit random for that picture.

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Because it's a supernatural drama, my brain at first was all..."well, maybe that lady next to him is possessed and the spirit inside her is reaching out to him" sort of rationale. XD

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If they're going to give it a Spanish title they should at least check the grammar.... it's "Hotel de la Luna". Or "Luna Hotel". Or they should have just gone with "Moon Hotel" in English (thought that sounds like a cheap motel).

By the way, this is another moon-related kdrama for IU. I hope this one fares better than the last one.

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IU looks totally badass in the teasers. Even if this moon-related drama turns out bad, it will not be because of her.
*scrubs the horrors of the other moon drama*

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Did not realize the grammar issue until you mentioned it, but yeah, you’re right.

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I think the grammar is actually not an issue... I looked it up and there are hotels all over Spanish speaking places with names like Hotel del Coronado or Hotel del Rey. Perhaps it's a kind of conjunction that's commonly used in this sort of situation?

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Coronado and Rey are both masculine nouns. Luna is feminine, and therefore the title should be Hotel de LA Luna. The articles used for masculine and feminine nouns in Spanish are different.

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Oh, true. We’ll figure this out eventually 😂

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Hmm, interesting. Maybe it’s okay then? The 2 years of Spanish I took in high school have mostly left me, so what do I know? 😀

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What do I know?? I took German. :)

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Maybe it is purposefully wrong?

I've never been to Seoul so maybe there are a lot of Spanish words used in names but it seems like it would be unusual?

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I started Watcher and I really like it. The story is interesting, the main trio is excellent- I love all three actors, they are so talented and charismatic.

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Oh that Hotel Del Luna poster is really creepy! Do you see that extra hand linked into Yeo Jin-goo's arm?

It can't be a photoshop fail, can it? Surely it's meant to be a ghost hand

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I saw it too!

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I think it's safe to assume it's a ghost's hand because the shade is more grey. Anyway, I've seen those photoshop fails - just incredible!

If I didn't read the synopsis, I would have assumed YJG's character as part of the ghostly crew. His hairstyle here reminds me of Frankenstein.

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OMG you're right. Now I can't unsee that

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I love Hong sister's dramas apart from Big , Hwayugi was insteresting in the beginning and middle but towards the end was just just , I hope Hotel de luna would be perfect all through ,Love DB gave me strength when I was in hospital because of my leg even though I couldn't walk for a long time DB made me happy ,You Guys continue the Good work.

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I meant interesting

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IU!!!!!!, Also, Watcher premiered this past weekend. I'm excited for Level Up. Sung Joon's dramas are always terrible, but I love every bit of them

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More dramas? I'm doing too many already!

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Could you please add Level up and Love affairs in the afternoon to the currently airing drama list here? The list seems incomplete.

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Could you please add Level up, Love affairs in the afternoon and Joseon survival to the drama list here? The list seems incomplete that way.

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Sorry for the double post, the first one didn't load for a while, I thought I made a mistake, and I wrote it again

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Okie so like I've mentioned this before but... Is Yeo Jingu allergic to sleep this year or something?? Poor kid like seriously.

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I know Yeo Jin-goo has been in this business for years starting as a child actor. He will be only 22 in August!
That said, THE CROWNED CLOWN is the only drama I have seen him in. Romantic drama/coms are not a favorite genre so I passed on BOYFRIEND and will pass on HOTEL DEL LUNA.
However, his performance in TCC was outstanding and in particular I can't compliment him enough for his performance in episodes 7 and 8. He gave an incredible performance.

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You must watch Circle. It is still the best kdrama sci-fi to date and Yeo Jin-goo was brilliant in it.

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Thanks for the recommendation. Iirc CIRCLE received a lot of beanie love when is first aired.

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I haven't joined Dramabeans but I can see why it got a lot of love. The story telling style was very innovative for a TV show. I never watched anything like that before and I didn't expect it came from Korean drama.
Do you know a novel from indian writer Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things? Circle have similar style like that novel. The present (2017) and the future (2037) were told together, so the plot moved together like Circle.

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"If you’re into gaming culture and rom-coms, this could be perfect slice of fun for you."

This is me exactly. Sadly I'm not as excited about Sung Hoon. Hopefully he pulls out something new and not the same type-cast character he usually plays.

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If you haven't seen SNOW LOTUS, it's also gaming culture related with a romance angle. A two episode fusion sageuk. Well worth it despite its brevity.

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So. Many. Dramas. I know I'm definitely tuning in for Hotel del Luna (*resists urge to fix grammar*), but I'm not sure about the others. I might check out Watcher too. Thankfully most of what I'm currently watching will end next week, otherwise I have no idea how I'd manage the drama onslaught.

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I will checkout "Level Up" for the romcom, and because Sung Hoon is very good looking hehe. I just hope that this role will suit him, and that he's improved acting-wise. I hope that this drama will have the steam level of "My Secret Romance", but with a good storyline (free from cliches) and acting.

I am also going to checkout the TW-drama "The Way We Love", this looks like it will be a good and cute show! I also want to finish up "Emily's 5 Things" (I kind of stopped following this show, and I don't even know why... but I plan to pick it up again sometime).

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Excited for Hotel Del Luna bcs of the leads! And I’ve missed Ji-eun on my screen that I started rewatching Hyori’s B&B for the nth time!

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I love ghost themed dramas😊

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Watched 2 episodes of WATCHER and it was good. Han Su Kyu has something in him that you want to watch the drama. Seo Kang Joon acting also improved I like crime drama so this is my next drama after Voice season 3. Anticipating what crime are they going to solve next week. Hope Hotel Del Luna pilot episode will make me look forward for it. Hope Hong Sisters writes a good story like Masters Sun and the Greatest love

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Hong sisters dramas are always automatic watch for me, whether I end up loving or hating it.

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For watcher; I'm just dissapoint with the way they handle the case and the bad guy. I expecting something more substance. They are doing a decent job in episode 1 for making the bad guy shady but still they seems rationally bad. The scene presence nicely, and I expecting more. the 2 episode happened, the bad guy turn out to be into irrationally inhuman which has nothing to dig deeper. and they end it just like that. There is nothing interesting about the conflict so far. But i will give another chance for the 2nd week. Maybe my judgement will change. I was expecting something more meaty like confession despite it's flaws

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out of these 3 new dramas I am very amazed by Watcher. After watching the 1st 2 episodes i really enjoy as the story is very intriguing the cinematography is good too which i couldn't find in Arthdal Chronicles. I don't have any biases on the leads but I have watched Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim before and the Woman Attorney in Partners movie way long back.

I can say that Watcher is my cup of tea and im on board for good.

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It does not appear that WATCHER will be recapped so this may be the place for fans to discuss episodes.
Warning! Possible Spoilers!
Yesterday I watched the first 2 episodes. Some random thoughts:
1. I loved what I saw. OCN has come through again with an intriguing, gritty crime drama;
2. Before getting to Seo Kang-joon, I want to reference two other actors. Heo Sung-tae (portraying Chief Jang Hae-ryong) is cornering the market for playing bad guys/heavies. Already he gives me the creeps and I expect more from him. Lee Jae-yoon gave a fine (cameo) performance as corrupt Det. Kim Kang-wook.
Like Lee Joon-gi, LJY is a student of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In his several fight scenes his athletic ability was obvious in his physicality. The LJY-SKJ fight scenes were excellent. SKJ is obviously also in great shape;
3. All three leads nicely established their characters. I know it is early days but in two episodes we know all three leads are wounded but have backbones; and
4. Seo Kang-joon is a major reason I am watching and I think he is terrific as Officer Kim Young-koon. I am looking forward to the next episodes.

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Does anyone notice the hand on Ku Chong Seong arm?

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the extra hand in the hotel del luna poster freaked me out. 😅

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