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[PPL Round-up] Stress and tension

We’re busy wrapping up the year in dramas, with fun things like beans, top picks, and long-winded reviews on what 2019 was like in dramaland. It seems like a good time to catch up with our PPL, too! In our last PPL round-up, we reviewed the endless cold beverages that filled our summer dramas — what have we been seeing since then? Let’s take a look.

As I surveyed the PPL over the last few months, a strange new theme developed before my eyes: most of the products could be categorized around stress and tension. The PPL was either around tracking that stress, or reducing it. Suitable for the time of the year? A statement on the necessity of self-care? A metaphor for the medicinal effects of K-dramas? I’m good for all of these explanations.

 
Monitor thy vitals

Product: Smart health-tracking devices from Samsung, Fitbit, etc.
Saturation: 10/10
Desirability: Zilch, unless it comes with free wrist grabs

Two very different dramas relied heavily on health vitals and the tracking thereof: Melting Me Softly and Extraordinary You. In fact, the monitoring of body temperature and/or heart rate were so intrinsic to both of these stories that it’s hard to tell where the PPL ends and where the story begins. But isn’t that the best kind, after all?

In Melting Me Softly, Ji Chang-wook kindly bestowed a health-tracking watch upon Won Jin-ah, so she could keep tabs on her body temperature, which had to stay beneath a certain threshold — or death! We not only got a first-hand glimpse at the couple chemistry in this scene (okay, that’s still out for debate), but throughout the drama, loads of closeups of this handy Fitbit and its all-too-accurate readings.

There’s a similar product reliance in Extraordinary You, where Kim Hye-yoon’s Samsung watch and Samsung Health app monitor her heart rate 24/7. It’s an essential part of her character’s “set up” — but it’s also a brilliant bit of PPL, since over the course of the drama we see that watch consulted frequently, find it always adorning her wrist, and hey, it doesn’t even get in the way of all those wrist grabs.

 
A mid-day massage

Product: Massage chairs by Bodyfriend and others
Saturation: 6/10
Desirability: None, it still freaks me out

The expressions of physical stress and tension don’t stop with health monitors — in Secret Boutique, the infamous (and gigantic) massage chair creeped its way into many a scene and was featured in the fantastic office space of Kim Sun-ah’s character. However, it’s a little hard to concentrate on the gravity of a scene when it looks like the heroine is a) trapped in a giant eggshell, or b) about to be closed in a space capsule worthy of a VIXX music video.

I really dislike this massage chair, and just when I thought it couldn’t get more distracting, Secret Boutique went and turned the full massage mode on. This means when a conversation is winding down and the massage chair is turned up, the actor’s head is free to vibrate and shake all over the place. Creepy! Let’s keep full-on demos to a minimum going forward, eh, SBS?.

The chair was also thrown in as the seat of contemplation. As Kim Jae-young’s character contemplates the heavy set of circumstances around him, he sits moodily in the massage chair. Poor boy, he’s really trying to make it work and feel natural, and while the emotions are there — that chair is a damn distraction. This is worse than shower brooding.

 
Vacuuming is life

Product: Dyson vacuums
Saturation: 7/10
Desirability: Hi Santa

While some might use expensive massage chairs to melt their stress away, my own personal go-to is cleaning. Mopping, scrubbing the bathroom — sure, even vacuuming. I might not have the illustrious Dyson, but cleaning is still a pretty good stress-buster. The-drama-that-shall-not-be-named was bursting with PPL, and Ji Chang-wook and Won Jin-ah both found succor in some solitary moments of vacuuming.

 
Samsung central

Product: All things Samsung
Saturation: 10/10
Desirability: Undecided

Back in the day I remember seeing iPhones in K-dramas — can you imagine the infamy? Nowadays it is strictly 100% Samsung, and there is nothing subtle about it. New phone models, specs, and features are frequently embedded (err, shoved) into dramas for our personal information, and the last few months in dramaland are no exception.

The Samsung Note is where it’s at, though, and drama after drama, we got pink and rosy phones front and center. We also got heroines that found the stylus and note-taking feature to be most advantageous. I still think good old pen and paper are best, but who am I to argue with the drama gods?

 
All the coffee

Product: Nescafe
Saturation: 8/10
Desirability: All the coffee, please

If you’re familiar with the PPL round-ups, you know none is complete without a quick coffee survey. Not only is coffee a delight IRL, but it is all over dramaland in hilarious ways. While I still saw a lot less Maxim Gold than I’m used to seeing, Nescafe’s surge continued. Thanks to overheating Ji Chang-wook, we were able to observe the machine’s excellent iced coffee mechanism.

 
Subway. That is all.

Product: Food-like substances
Saturation: 7/10
Desirability: I’m good, thanks

We can’t close this PPL round-up without a mention of Subway — the majority stakeholder, so to speak, in K-drama product placement. From the good to the bad to the ugly, Subway is a ubiquitous force, and I have seen more sandwiches eaten than I care to remember.

However, an early episode of VIP handled an aggressive bout of Subway PPL in a very fine fashion. While the product placement itself was as loud as any other (the three women leave the office for lunch, talk about how good the food is and munch away), it was also swallowed up by the wonderful tone of this drama.

At this point in the plot, Jang Nara’s heroine doesn’t know much about all the chaos that’s about to unfold in her relationships, but the drama’s strong direction takes a useless and typical Subway-eating scene, and packs on the foreshadowing and the subtleties, and I loved every minute of it.

 
Honorable mention

Lastly, there was a panini-making scene in VIP that deserves a mention here. It was either the most humorous and human bit of PPL in a while, or the best-acted sandwich scene ever.

In the drama, Lee Jae-won and his two sons have to get along while his wife is MIA. Of course the house is a disaster, and meals are a bit… thrown together. Hence the panini machine, and the exhausted and disenchanted husband slapping sandwiches together for everyone. Lee Jae-won can be seriously amusing, and though this role leans a bit on the dark side, the dry humor in this panini machine scene was priceless.

It’s been a fun few months in drama PPL, and we’ve seen a nice range of products, scenarios, and cringe-worthy reappearances — we even explored the many ways our leading characters manage their stress.

This round-up represents only some of the PPL in the last few months, and I’m sure there’s much more to be unearthed. Did you see any recent product placement that made you eyeroll, made you curious, or made you do some impulse online shopping? With a plethora of winter dramas making their premieres over the next several weeks, I can’t wait to sit back and enjoy some new stories (and new PPL). Here’s to a new year of fantabulous dramas.

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I totally missed the panini maker PPL, I was too focused on panini itself ;)

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The watch/monitor were the best. I didn't really watch Melting Me Softly but in Extraordinary You it was a real element for the story (for the illness or as a detector of her love for Haru :D).

I hate this massage chair. It's so big and weird. I don't understand why the marketing team of those chairs think it's a good idea to put it in dramas... It's not.

For the phone, would Haru have seen her wish's list if it was on paper? Because the kiss 100 times wish was the best :p

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I have a croque-monsieur/waffle machine and it's so good!

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kiss 100 times still makes me laugh 😂

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Danoh is the best! She's not afraid to write what she wants and to get it. Their conversation was so funny! And thanks to her phone, we could see that for her the wish was fulfilled. We don't know all what happened in the library :p

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she checked it off her list?! I must've missed that detail. But that just makes me happy :)

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When she put the watch in his locker, you can see the list with "done" written in red next to her wishes.

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I love how they integrated the massage chair in Be Melodramatic!

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Didn't the massage chair also get a minute or two in Melo Is My Nature? I think they were making fun of PPL and one of the characters sat in the chair to think or something.

Now I have to rewatch the whole drama to figure out which episode that was. This is not an excuse to rewatch the drama and has nothing to do with the fact that Be Melo is my favorite drama of 2019. I just want to help out fellow beanies. That's my story.

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That massage chair in Be Melodramatic is the best PPL ever. It's a crying shame that Be Melo didn't get a mention at all when the topic of PPL itself is part of the story plot. It gave me a whole new appreciation (and sympathy) of it existance.

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I now feel sorry for the people who have to go to the directors and try to put PPL in scences where it doesn't make sense for it to be there

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When I see PPL scenes now, I think of Han-joo struggling to make the sure the PPL gets included.

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THIS, 100000000x. Best ever!!!

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I'm not going to buy one....but I now really want one of those notes just to make lists on my phone. Typing a list in is not the same but this mimics pen and paper.

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I want a dyson vacuummmm~ 😀

List of in-your-face PPL in Vagabond aka the only drama I kinda watched the past few months.

1. Lancome makeup: they make sure to pause a scene and give Haeri some time to apply makeup, spray perfume etc.
2. Subway: someone worked in subway, they had gatherings is subway, NIS only ate subway, assassins also only ate subway
3. Blackyak shoes and apparel: I can't get Dalgun pumping(?) his shoes out of my mind yet.
4. Hyundai Palisade: a bulletproof 2020 car in 2012 drama setting..talk about being futuristic 😏
5. Soju: the reason Haeri keeps getting super drunk.
6. Fried Chicken: Vagabond = Bullet Chicken
7. Painkillers in a syringe: I assume it's PPL, it was used multiple times. They could've turned KTW into druggie, injecting painkillers in his veins. Yikes.

That's all I can remember for now. Haha

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I also want a Dyson vacuum. Look at how relaxed our kdrama characters are when they vacuum with a Dyson! Meanwhile, I'm struggling with the cord of my cheap stick vacuum.

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I’ve actually got the Dyson vacuum at home (my dad bought it during a tech sale) and it works pretty well, but it runs out of battery SO QUICKLY! That thing has to be charged pretty often, so even though I live in a flat, I don’t think I could vacuum the entire place in one go with that vacuum!

It is stylish though... as far as vacuums go 😂

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I have one too , although it's one of their simpler models (since I got it for "free" through credit card rewards). At first, it couldnt last enough for me to clean my home. I now keep it plugged so that it is fully charged at any time and can last for the job .

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8. Blood & bullet-proof jacket Haeri was wearing when she got shot. Bullet somehow missed her back and entered through the front and moved all the way to her spine. Leaving her jacket unharmed and spotless.
9. Containers with windows that somehiw absorbs all bullets.
10. Eggs.
11. Blue House. Most tourist friendly place in SK. You'll get to meet the President!

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I really liked the Search: www scene in which Park Morgan is vacuuming Taemi's house with a Dyson a Taemi climbs on his back... #boyfriendgoals (at my place we're more about squabbling about who didn't get to empty our cheap vacuum's deposit)

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The best PPL forever and always will always be Be Melodramatic and that stupid massage chair. I laughed so hard I cried. Such a fabulous show.

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that was PPL gold..if i remember right it went something along the line of the heroine is poor how can she afford the chair..dream sequence coming up! 😂

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It was kinda PPL Inception :D

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Omg, I just finished watching the scene with the panini machine! I had to pause and replay it cuz the little device was so enticing. The house was a mess, but he could put sandwiches together oh so neatly.

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I just want to know if any of the PPL from Woohoo Waikiki 2's drama-in-a-drama was real, because that would be glorious.

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I just know your next PPL round up will include Chocolate. It's so PPL filled Idk if Im watching a sad long commercial with great OSTs and good looking people or a drama

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"a sad long commercial" just made me giggle

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While Samsung is for Kdrama. IPhone is for C-dramas. I did not think they have IPhone watch yet in modern Chinese drama. Yet. 😂

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In Search: www they managed to show Chayeon sporting the weird blue light mask, Iron man style, for 3 TIMES, including once at the office 🤣. The same mask makes an appearance in Melo, if I remember well

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Gone are the days of kbbq and authentic korean food we saw in past kdrams. Feels that the drama is lacking from the vibes of a good old pochang.

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miss lee has the most blatant yet absolutely subtle PPL. since the company itself is an electronics company releasing their first ever product, a hand vacuum! i actually didnt notice it was a PPL not only until around ep 12 😅

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how about stress-inducing PPL. The robot vacuum cleaner actually makes me nervous. Anything that chases me around the house would make me nervous.
anything attached to my body that I can´t take off would make me nervous.
a massage chair... well... better than hands of a total stranger touching me?
coffee machines do not make me nervous but they are unnecessarily fancy. I don´t want my lifestyle to be so chrome-coated, I´d rather peel off some layers. I don´t need to hide myself there.

now, a good pie roll would be immensely stress reducing. I had a drama-like situation on my trip where a raving maniac tried to get in. well, just a person who couldnt communicate as normal. so... there was no baseball bat. but there was a boxing glove! Pie roll would be better though.

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Chair could malfunction and trap you in ;)

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I laughed at the massage chair. I thought it was weird when I first saw it in Because This Life is My First (if my memory serves me right!), then my new boss actually has a massage chair in his office. It was so weird having to consult with him while he was chilling in his massage chair.

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