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Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (January 7, 2023)

So, what are we all watching this week?

What kept you reaching for more (or agonizing when there was no more), and what made you want to throw your remote through the screen? Time to weigh in…

 

missvictrix

Currently covering: Trolley

Payback: I’m craving some action and a good plot, and Episode 1 was fun! I was curious how rookie Kang Yoo-seok would do, and he nailed it. The characters, so far, are a bit archetypal, but it’s still enjoyable since the cast is good and the pace is fast. The narrative shift from Eun Yong to his nephew Tae-choon was a bit strange at first, but I like how we’re going to see characters and storylines unite in our next episode. Also, driving that car on those roads = major fantasy!

 

mistyisles

Currently covering: Unlock the Boss

Alchemy of Souls 2: Was Operation: Save Yul a tad anticlimactic? Yeeahhh kinda. Do I care? Not really! I’m just glad his life became the #1 priority for literally everyone in Daeho. As for the rest, I’m reserving comments so as not to jinx anything. I can’t believe it’s almost over, and while I can’t wait to find out how it ends, I also don’t want it to end! The eternal conundrum of a drama-watcher.

 

DaebakGrits

Currently covering: Trolley

Alchemy of Souls 2: The further we get into Part 2, the more worried I become that we’re going to have a tragically bittersweet ending where our leading couple dies together. Then again, we are dealing with a universe with blood parasites and all powerful stones, so if the writers want our OTP to overcome the whole we-can’t-have-two-souls-sharing-one-body thing, then they have the freedom to create some spell or destined miracle that suits their purpose. I, for one, hope they take the convenient magical plot device route and give us a happy ending because I can’t have dramaland 2023 making me cry right off the bat!

When the Camellia Blooms: When this drama originally aired, I dropped it after the first or second episode because I didn’t really like Dong-baek’s characterization, but lately I’ve been in the mood for a romance with a little bit of suspense and mystery. So here I am, attempting to watch this drama a second time. While I’m enjoying it better this time around, I’m sticking around more for Yong-shik than Dong-baek, but I am happy that the identity of the serial killer has (so far) not been exposed to the audience. A lot of dramas like to reveal the identity of the killer way too soon, which totally ruins the fun of trying to figure out the identity of the villain.

 

Unit

Currently covering: The Forbidden Marriage

Trolley: Joong-do and Hye-joo continue to impress me as individuals while serving couple goals on the side. They’re so genuine in their interactions with each other and with others, and it’s annoying that the parents of the deceased sexual harassers keep giving them grief. Like hello, your perverted children didn’t do anything right either! As for Seung-hee, on one hand I’d like to think she’s a victim of her family’s lies and her mother’s neglect, but on the other hand it’s been 20 years. That’s plenty of time for her to have dug into her brother’s case to figure out the truth by herself, especially since her husband already cast a shadow of doubt into what she knows to be true. He probably knows more about that night’s incident than he’s letting on anyway.

 
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Remembrance of things past - Chinese drama
This is what Thirty nine wished it could have been. It’s a slice of life and has a friendship group like Dear my friends was for the Ajumma generation. I didn’t watch My liberation notes or Our blues but I think it’s that level of realism that it’s aiming for. It’s funny and really sad too. It covers big issues like cancer, suicide, job loss, dating, and family dynamics but so far it’s not toxic or trauma for the sake of it. I am on episode 5 and already seeing it as the top contender for my drama of the year. I called 25,21 when I was in the early stages of watching that and that was still my conclusion at the end of the year. I am hoping this show doesn’t disappoint but as it’s only 12 episodes and was designed to be part of a series of short quality dramas I am hopeful they will maintain the quality throughout.

Unlock the boss
I am hoping the last two episodes bring the funny back and has a happy ending even if the CEO dies and the newly formed couple end up adopting Minah and translating Seyeon’s dream of working in a hotel to running a guest house near Insung’s family.

The forbidden marriage
Looking forward to the return this week.

Midnight diner
I have two seasons to finish before my subscription ends

Three bold siblings

Completed

The Rational life Chinese a jie di lian (Noona romance)
Loved it. Raising the issues of the reluctance to move from petrol to alternative energy to run cars. As an electric car owner I loved that this very real issue is being raised in drama land and weaved into the story about prejudices about women in the workplace, singleness and age gap relationships.

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Remembrance is on my list!
I was actually planning to start it this week, but Real Life interfered (not that I complain as being with my family is a priority. 😊 )

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Let me know how you find it when you start. I am trying to watch it all before I go on holiday at the end of the week. So will compare notes on my return.

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Ok! 🙂
Enjoy your holiday!!

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Remembrance is a gem of a drama. So glad it’s now available with subs (we struggled when it aired) and more beanies will be watching it.
The show has some great OST too.
And of course, cutie BYF!

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I love that I can be confident that it will maintain its quality throughout. I am so glad @wapzy recommended it to me.

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(Lol I am having a bad day today. I really could use an edit option.)

A note about the Jdrama MIDNIGHT DINER. Season 4 (2016) and season 5 (2019) were both Netflix Japan productions. Looking at my log I dropped 3 episodes in both seasons. They were a bit too raunchy for me. I know the drama is set in an entertainment district (not quite sure totally red light) and the folks arrive at the diner after midnight so it is going to be an eclectic and interesting mix as you know. I think once Netflix took over sexual content became more prominent which I could do without. Anyway overall I enjoyed MD. Sorry for the mini rant.

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I agree. I was raging about one storyline taking advantage of someone who was drunk and it was treated as a minor issue. It was a gender swap which made it even more interesting how the same attitude was adopted by the woman who took advantage of the situation for her own benefit.

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Good call on the edit option. Day 3 on this website, and I'm already finding my compulsive editing switch kick in.

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I don't know about anyone else, but I like to mix in a few mini rants with colorful comments. The world is not always a lovely flower garden full of sunshine and joy.

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Remembrance of things past - Chinese drama. This is what Thirty nine wished it could have been.

39 was supposed to be a remake of cdrama Nothing But 30 (which is one of my favorite contemporary cdramas). Not sure what happened to that remake, because 39's plot ended up being completely different.

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Oh that’s interesting to know. Thanks for sharing.

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It wasn't. That was just a rumor floating around in the beginning. Probably because they deal with the same ages.
And yes Reply, I'd liken ROTP more to Be Melodramatic than to 39 but if you like female centric stories, Cdramas have a special category for them. The likes of Nothing but Thirty and Delicious Romance can be your pick after this one.

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Thank you for clarifying. I looked up Nothing but thirty and it seemed very different so I could understand why people would be confused if they thought Thirty nine was a remake.

I like the stories portrayed in Remembrance it is not necessarily the focus on women, it reminds me of Reply 1988, Be Melo, Hospital Playlist, Prison Playbook; friendship over time as people negotiate daily life issues. I love that I can laugh out loud one minute and think something is cute another.

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Remembrance of things past - thanks for the recommendation; I will check it out.
The Rational Life - a pleasant watch. I would recommend it for those who don't mind older woman- younger man relationships.

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Alchemy - I want to love it (and most of the time I do), but episode 7 started losing me a bit - the saving of Yul was so anticlimactic!! I thought they were building up for the release of the firebird, that Jin Mu used Yul to reach his hidden goal! Oh well. Also, I thought that Uk would fulfill the promise he gave to Mama Jin by going to live with Naksu in her mom's place 😁 (and I expected a lot of hijinks from that 😁😁).

And then... I really didn't like the ending of episode 8 - I wanted Naksu/Mudok to show her steel... and her cunning and tactical side. (Well, I generally want Naksu to unleash her assassin skills, fight them all and becoming the Queen under the Star and rule them all. 😁 )

And yet... I rewatched both episodes, something I hardly ever do (and I would even say that it is better on a rewatch).

And yet... I'm excited for this weekend... and hope for a satisfying finale. Is the Blue Hem on Jang Uk's robe a sign of hope?? 😁

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Yes, I also thought Uk keeping Lady Jin's promise would have been moving in with BY.

Also agree, there is no reason to repress Naksu and her skills at this late point in the game, especially when we all wanted to see that at the beginning of Part 2. And BY is the most wasted character - - - since apparently she is the key to solve everything wrong in their world.

There are as many unanswered story threads now than were nagging us at the end of part 1. I don't know how they all can be addressed satisfactorily in the last two episodes.

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I feel like we need Part 3 😅

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In early part 1, with all the characters and premise, my fear was this would be turned into a Hollywood franchise, with sequels, spin-offs like a Marvel Harry Potter.

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Alchemy of Souls: Headed into the last week and I am not prepared. I am expecting a very bittersweet ending, and I only hope that it does justice to our characters’ stories and keeps them consistent with who we’ve learned that they are.

Unlock My Boss: I am totally charmed by this show. In-seong is such a gem, and the entire public recognizing it was so satisfying. And our OTP is so cute! In-seong could not stop giggling after their kiss and it was so infectious. I’m in denial about Ma-pi, so no need to go into it.

What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim: Well that was incredibly delightful. Spoiler Warning from here! There’s a little part of me that wishes Mi-so had decided to do something else career-wise, but she loves her job and her coworkers and her workload got a lot better with another person, so who am I to decide which dreams are right for her? I could understand Yeong-joon’s mom and the difficult decisions she had to make back in the day, but when she found out that he and Mi-so were dating and her first impulse was to be worried about how it would affect Seong-yeon, I was so disgusted. Didn’t we just go through this? Didn’t you just learn your lesson that asking one son to give up any semblance of happiness for the other one is a distinctly bad idea? Luckily Seong-yeon has been going to therapy and can make a better-adjusted decision than she can. I still don’t like him but I applaud his choice to get help, which he certainly needed and should have had much earlier. But honestly these complaints are minor and don’t at all reflect how much I loved this drama. What an absolute load of fun. I loved that we got to (basically) resolve the trauma part of the storyline and still had loads of time for them to figure out how to navigate their relationship. I loved that it was Mi-so who ended up having to make the conscious decision to spend less time doing work things and more time doing wedding things, rather than Yeong-joon. I loved Ji-ah and her brave confession and insistence that Gwi-nam not sacrifice everything about his present for his future. And I loved that Secretary Seol ended up making some mistakes that worked out for the good of everyone!

Prison Playbook: Started this because I realized it’s leaving Netflix (in the US) toward the end of the month and didn’t want to miss my chance! Just watched the first two episodes, but it’s pretty great so far. I can understand why so many Beanies had it in their top ten lists.

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You will love Prison Playbook. Not a single episode lets you down. Enjoy this drama (and also keep in mind all characters are in prison for a reason).

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A lot of people do not understand that in SECRETARY KIM Miso has actually achieved her goal- which was never to simply change her profession but to change her life. Nor does she have to change to do it: She has spent years becoming who she is, which is a top professional. Her level of knowledge is equal to that of a doctor or a lawyer. Indeed, having her change occupations would be like having a neurosurgeon become a grocery clerk. But even more she has become so strong a woman that she can literally bend her world to her will: It is the people around her who are forced to change.

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Bingo. Thank you.

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I totally agree, and I loved to see her realization of that. So much of her journey was learning how to say what she needed - I thought it was really telling near the beginning when she was listing grievances and Yeong-joon was like, "but you never said anything" and it stopped her dead because he was right. And I loved her later realization, after absolutely killing it during a crisis, that she loved her job and was so good at it and didn't actually want to leave. I hope their honeymoon is a long one though, she certainly could use a pause!

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Red Balloon - I'm almost having no one to cheer for here. I've come to the conclusion that's there's not exactly good guy here except for Cha-won and Dae-goon. I hope Red Balloon doesn't turn him into something else. Except for Cha-won there's no one I'm rooting for. Formerly Nam-chul was in the mix but now he's not. The very thing that his FIL worried about was the first thing he committed, although I am sure and clear that he did so not because he now has access to the accounts.

Trolley - They can tease me all they want with the JD tattoo but I'm not buying into it at all. Soo-bin is outright rude and I find it shocking and patronizing that the adults in the house are letting her get away with her attitude.

Alchemy of Souls - I have no expectations whatsoever for this one. Just give me my weddings. All won't be forgiven but at least I'll have something nice to remember you with.

Unlock the Boss Ep 4- Commentless. I'm enjoying the watch and, great comedic timing.

While I didn't watch a some airing dramas as I spent most of my time catching up to Trolley and Red Balloon, the others suffered. But they wouldn't if I hadn't stumbled upon Dae Mul. I'm currently on ep 9 and it's been a ride all the way. At least I'm having enough of Kwon Sang-woo and another chance to watch Go Hyun-jung on screen.

I've completed Birthcare Center and it was a good wrap. I want another Yoon Park drama on my screen soon. I have one to rewatch if ever I want to see him onscreen.

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Trolley: I have such a complicated relationship with Soo Bin. Sometimes I feel bad for her and think she's just a scared kid, and other times I want to scold her for being so rude. Joong Do treats her like trash so let's say she had an excuse with him, but no one else treats her like that. They're actually really nice to her.

Oh, and that tattoo lol, too obvious to be true. And too weird. I can't imagine those two together.

Birthcare Center: Glad you enjoyed the show, I watched it last year and it became one of my favorites.

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Each time Soo-bin scoffs whenever Joong-do is referred to as a righteous politician and man, it drives me bananas.
This and the initials are likely there to get us to doubt Joong-do but I'm not biting it in no distant time or anytime at all.

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But at the same time I feel like it doesn't make sense because all the signs are only from Soo Bin's perspective, and it's a weird perspective.
I mean, if he did something to her or if they were having an affair she can just blackmail him. She doesn't need to say "oh, he's probably a bad guy" "he's fake" "you don't really know him". She would literally have the power to destroy him.

That also means that Joong Do should've freak out the moment he saw her in the house. So far we have see him, scream, cry and almost destroy a bell from anger. He doesn't look like the type to act chill after seeing his lover in his house saying she's pregnant.

Every interaction those two have gives me the vibe like they hate each other but for no good reason. He probably just thinks that she was a bad influence for his son or that she represents all the bad things his son did. And for her he's probably a bad dad, because of stories Ji Hoon (or anyone that hates JD) told her.

Joong Do doesn't act like he owes her something or like he's scared of her. And Soo Bin doesn't act like she has any real information about him (we know she's judgy as hell).
So yeah, that tattoo means nothing to me.

The show can't trick us. 😆
But if something actually happened between them that would be really funny since we're so sure about this.

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You were able to find Dae Mul? I keep hoping to see that one pop up on at least a quasi-legal streaming service one day.

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Yeah! But not a legal or quasi-legal streaming service at all.

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Sigh. Maybe one day . . .

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Trolley:This drama continues to be wrought with tension. I am so annoyed that the sexual harassers parents continue to be terrible. Their creepy obsession with their sons is probably what caused them to think they were above it all in the first place. Smh. I am happy Hye Joo and Joong Do have each other.

Unlock the Boss: I hope Hyungnim is just severely injured. The trio plus a mini member's relationship was really precious. They became a sweet little family with the housekeeper. Don't make me sad show.

The interest of love: Only the FL is actually likeable. Everyone else is varying degrees of unlikeable and entitled. I still like the drama though, something about the way it is paced and put together makes me come back week after week.

The forbidden marriage: They brought some of the the funny back. This drama is best when So Rang is cutting up, that is the strength of the drama. Unfortunately, the Kim Young Dae is punching above his weight class in terms of acting and Park Ju Hyun is simply out acting him, as is Kim Woo Seok. Ahhh well, so long as they keep the funny coming, I am happy.

Payback: Super excited for this.

Agency: Warily excited for this.

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Island: Looking forward to episode 3-4.

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THE GLORY (Ep. 3-8) Dong-eun states that her revenge will all be legal, but some of her means are borderline. The first four episodes had a Parasite quality to them; thematically, the Go game victory is to bring Yeon-jin’s house down by strategic moves. Her first victim died not by her hand, but by her suggestion to the son. If that is the blueprint, then she will not have blood per se on her hands. She is trying to align the bully group against each other. She is already in Yeon-jin’s head; the birth secret card is what will bring down the house.

This is a very dark series, especially captured in the lighting (or lack thereof). In my opinion, this mood and direction is helping SHK in her acting style. The underlining theme that is coming to the surface is evil begets more evil.

ALCHEMY OF SOULS (Ep. 7-8): For a show about magic, there has not been a lot of magic. For a show about lost lovers, it took an eternity for the OTP to even recognize each other. For the grand conflict of control of Daeho, Uk and the CP only have a few brief conversations. For a show about ridding the world of monsters, Jin Mu remains steadfastly in power. Part 2 has been bogged down in "telling and not showing" the action we miss in Part 1. The biggest thud this weekend will be if we do not get Bu-Yeon's full story, her capture of Naksu, and her end game.

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Totally agree the real Bu-yeon is this giant elephant in the room that every character talks about as this grand priestess but we know next to nothing about her. Who she is? What’s her personality? What’s her motivations?

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Maybe she is the actual Villainess 😄

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That would be far more exciting than dealing with anymore of Jin Mu’s shenanigans tbh
Also still crossing fingers that we might get a Jung So-min cameo at the end 🤞

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Very doubtful since JSM has been in rehearsals since November for her first professional stage play, Shakespeare in Love, set to open this month.

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They started filming part 2 in august, so it's possible - if there is a cameo scene- she could have done it before the her play. But i feel like if she did a cameo, news would have been leaked after all these months considering the amount of attention and discussion the drama and the actress change has gotten.

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@Timelate: From your lips. Jinmu is so ridiculously written and portrayed. They should have given him a twirling mo and be done with it given that he ‘bwah haha’ed his way through ep 9.
And, me too.

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I had that thought but more as a rebellious teenager. I assume BY was shy with low self-esteem as a child. She was under tremendous family pressure to be great, but she wound up being a tool and not a daughter. So she ran away from home seeking a way to complete herself. She captured Naksu's soul because it embodied independent, self-reliance, strength and beauty. It gave her literally a new vision on life. Then she set her eyes on the one man who could keep her safe from those who want to use her power: Uk. She found Uk's type was a damsel in distress so she created Mudeok to train and charm him at the same time. And it worked.

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Payback: nice start! I'm really going to enjoy this show. I actually find interesting all the corruption, legal system and politics, debts, etc. And I would watch anything (except for Mr Black) for Moon Chae Won.
Island: hilarious.
Drink Now Work Later 2: ☹️☹️☹️ don't fight girls, please.
Brain Works: I like our duo. They're so petty and dumb 🤣 they really deserve each other, I bet they'll be besties by the end of the show.
Trolley: I really want our couple to stay strong and supportive till the end. They're too precious.
Dr Park's Clinic: so fun!
Forbidden Marriage: So Rang is going to be my favorite FL this year, isn't she?
Jang Ok Jeong (on hold): I need spoilers to decide if I should keep watching it.
Yong Pal (on hold): I don't remember why I didn't binged it.
Jugglers (rewatch): this show is so cute. 2017 was such a nice year for dramas.
The Miracle We Met (rewatch): crazy stuff. I didn't remember much apparently.
3BS: I hope the daughter helps them get back together.
The Love in Your Eyes: my favorite couple right now. They're so adorable.

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Agreed 2017 had some great dramas, I watch and oldie and then check when it was made and most of the time it’s 2017 I am glad they have kept those dramas available on the streaming sites it’s a great intro to K drama as they didn't seem to mix the genres in the same way then.

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Yes! Some of my favorite shows are from that year.
I remember that Jugglers, Prison Playbook and Just Between Lovers are from the 2017-2018 period.

Black, Fight for My Way, The Best Hit, Go Back Couple, Secret Forest, Tunnel, Man to Man, Chicago Typewriter, Chief Kim, Voice, Radiant Office, I'm Not A Robot, etc... Damn, 2017 was gold!

I also remember with much love 2016 since three of my favorite shows are from that year. It was awesome because I finished a great and then another started. I was shocked how MBC dropped three great shows on my face one by one. So technically I had six months of happiness.
I think the order was Shopping Wang Louie-W-Weightlifting Fairy KBJ. Or maybe W was first.

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I think 2015-2018 covers the greats but some other 2017 classics are: The package, Twentieth century boy and girl, The Liar and his lover, Strong woman do bong soon,

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I feel like dramas from 2016-2019 were so special because they felt like their own thing (at least for me).
In my memories 2010-2015 dramas have a similar vibe, but 2016-2019 dramas are different in some ways.

I think it was during that time (2016-2019) that we started to have more likeable male leads, more dramas focused on the real friendships, robot love, healing slice of life shows, and more interesting and refreshing stories etc.

Maybe I'm remembering everything wrong or it was just my experience lol.

I enjoyed 20th Century and Do Bong Soon. My mom liked The Package so I have it on my watchlist. Liar is also on my watchlist.

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@enriquequierecagar I agree you can sense a change in the tropes when moving back and forth in dramaland. Its also interesting to see which ones have stayed.

I watched the drama Princess hours 2006 because they are remaking it and I realised how much I hate the scheming mum characters that seems to be ongoing in all the rich mum’s against the candy storylines.

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I think most of the tropes involving the villains (or just any annoying character) have stayed the same. They're motivations are predictable, they're responses too.
I can even predict when someone is going to get slapped or when someone is going to get killed.

Maybe that's why daily dramas still feel like 2010 dramas.
I'm watching the daily The Love in Your Eyes, and the main couple is adorable as hell. But the annoying mother-in-law, bad stepmom and crazy second lead tropes are intense.

The Interest of Love also remind me of old shows. I only watched one episode, but everyone being so awful to the FL for no reason, it's a classic trope in kdramas. The only thing we needed was the creepy boss to put his hand in her lap or something. That and talking crap about a pregnant or married employee and how she should stay home, would check all the tropes for awful work environment.

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Some spoilers for your Kim Tae Hee series on hold:

JANG OK JEONG - easy to watch until around ep 15 or 16 (when she starts making dumb decisions). They have to follow what happened in history though so the drama is trying to present alternate reasons why things ended the way it did. Kinda like the way Empress Ki writers presented an alternate explanation vis a vis what’s recorded in history. Bottomline: if you’re watching because you like it cute and good, watch til 14 or 15 then skim through or skip the rest. You can watch the behind the scenes and interviews though, Yooh Ah In probably had a crush on her at the time.

YONG PAL - Easy to watch til around ep 10, the less time the title character (Joo Won) had, the more airtime the crocodiles have in this series. Still nice to watch for their moments together (but lots of fastforwarding for the makjang twists and villains galore).

By any chance, have you seen MY PRINCESS (2011)? It’s probably the only light romcom that both Kim Tae Hee and Song Seung Hon did and they were very nice in it. Production itself wasn’t perfect (you can see they were pressed for time because some scenes/edits were sloppy) but the couple itself was good. Recommended!

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Thank you so much!💚
I think I will have to let go Ok Jeong, but I will continue with Young Pal.

Yes, I've watched My Princess. I love the leads, they were so cute.

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Also watched My Princess recently and enjoyed it. Yes, they made a very good couple.

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I'm usually a sucker for historical period pieces, so I'm very biased but.... If you have any interest in narratives about improving your life while navigating within the bounds of traditions, I highly recommend Jang Ok Jeong. This may potentially be one of the earliest examples of femme fatale stories based loosely on historical events within the Joseon tradition.

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Surprisingly, my watchlist ended up being all cdramas this week.

Currently Watching :
Flight to You: I love Wang Kai and Seven and they are amazing here. The show does capture the biases and stereotypes of women pilots very well. It’s frustrating at times. But overall a very satisfying watch. The slow burn romance is killing me. And Wang Kai has the most beautiful hands.. le sigh 😍
Hi Venus: Can’t go wrong with this screenwriter. A fun romcom and easy watch. Their flirt game for 15 episodes in on point.
Meet Yourself: Again, from the director/screenwriter duo I love. This show is like a warm cuppa at the end of a long winter day. Beautiful healing slice of life drama, set in a village with some interesting and lovable characters. Gorgeous village and cinematography. Might feel unrealistic at times, but can be overlooked.
So happy to see Li Xian in a modern drama and he plays the lovable dorky do-gooder well. And of course, the gorgeous Crystal Liu.

Completed:
Curtain Call

To start this week :
Payback - watched 10 min but was stressed about what would go wrong and who might die. (after all, Revenge can’t start until you are wronged!!).
Trolley - The show I am most curious about after seeing recaps. Must make time.

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Yay blue. Is Flight to you that good?
I only have Meet Yourself (and I'm liking it) on my plate after finishing Hi Venus which was great till the very end.

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It took me 3 episodes to warm up. Initially I felt the characters were too extreme. But by ep 4 I was hooked and I had binged 18 episodes in a few days. As the show progresses you see growth from both leads (mostly FL).
The romance is not the focus. It’s mostly about the female pilot and her growth in career and all the roadblocks she faces along the way. I loved Ideal city, so if you liked that drama you might like it.
Give it a try. If you don’t like by ep 4 it’s probably not for you.

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ALCHEMY OF SOULS - I am in eager dread for the last two episodes.
More than a drama, this has been an experience, and I have enjoyed every moment. But gosh darn it, if Wook and Naksu only get the shadow of happiness and not the solid body of it, I am going to be upset.

And I hope that Jin Mu is proven how utterly blind he is when it comes to the strength of love. His insistence that caring for anyone is weakness drove me mad these past episodes; he and Voldemort would be best buds.

The awkward scene (awkward for the abrupt inclusion) with So-i’s body was on one hand good for Yul to understand the depth of her feelings for him (sob), but I do wonder at the inclusion. Is this a set up for her body being the house for Jin Bu-yeon’s soul (original recipe)? How ironic and tragic, if the body of the fake heir became the appearance for the soul of the real one.

Also, this drama makes me want to hold a turtle.

GAUS ELECTRONICS — Never thought the best commercials I have ever seen would be from a drama.
I gave this a second chance, and I am glad I did. I have been in the right mood for its zany humor. I was not expecting the tender poignant moments nor the cracky loveliness. Kwak Dong Yeon, give me back my heart!

RESET - I could say this is a cross between SPEED and GROUNDHOG DAY, but that is only the tip of the iceberg.
Every detail in intricately plotted and carefully laid out. It is a psychological thriller as much as an investigation into the human heart. It is in my list of all-time favorite dramas now.
Bai Jinting and Zhao Jin Mai are excellent as two ordinary people drawn into extraordinary circumstances. But while most of the story is centered on them, the storytelling is so deft that by the end of the drama I dare you not to care about all the characters.

MISSING: THE OTHER SIDE — a drama that warms the heart slightly more than it breaks it.
So good. Just so good. Off to watch the second season and hopefully Thomas will get the proper send off long overdue for him and the writers will leave poor Wook’s head alone.

RECIPE FOR FAREWELL — If someone made a drama recipe for “Healing Heartbreak” this would be it. Plus, now I want to try out all the recipes.

NEW LIFE BEGINS — adorable start and I enjoy the female friendships —-3rd’s 24 heavenly treasures are a hoot and steal the show for sure—and Bai Jinting (again!).
I have not warmed up to the FL quite yet though, which is unusual for me. I can understand that naïveté and cultural differences would explain some of her actions but I just couldn’t understand some of her actions and I am just hoping she matures (in many aspects). I do love that she is a foodie and that the drama gives her the chance to explore her passion in the palace and makes it a strength for her character.
Otherwise, I am really enjoying the drama and thank Beanies for the rec.

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The FL in New Life Begins does mature with the help of a female mentor. It takes place over the course of 3 years, so it feels like watching someone start off as a clumsy first year in university and then see them graduate.

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This gives me motivation to keep watching. Thank you!

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Forbidden Marriage: 7.4 Guess they were serious about forbidding it last week, but back to normal now?

Alchemy of Souls s2: 8.0 The get-the-worm-out-of-Yul bit seemed like an awfully convoluted way to arrange a kiss (with Yul). Not my favorite part of the series. I was hoping they'd save So-yi somehow, and I am hoping that the final week will be 9.x level epic. Expect/hope both Naksu & Bu-yeon survive, but who gets which body?

Island: 7.8 Lots of running around and screaming in week 1, but nothing draggy or offensively stupid. Finally a kdrama character that knows to finish the job when he's knifing somebody. Week 2 - a bit of a letdown, and where's the Revenge of Others guy when we need him? We've even got one of the girls from RoO as a victim.

Brain Works: 5.0 - and that's being generous. Out after 50 minutes but could left much earlier. The "genius" brain is so unethical and obnoxious I don't want him on my screen. The exaggerated "timid" brain is almost as bad. Cha Tae-Hyun playing Cha Tae-Hyun is what passes for almost tolerable, but that's the best I can say.

Unlock the Boss: 7.5

Alchemy of Souls s1 rewatch: 9.0 For ep 17/20. Season 2 is good so far, but I prefer s1. S2 has nothing to match Mu-deuk's death stares and side-eyes, or even her early "who will I kill first when I regain my powers" and her later "I'll be their servant just this one more time".

Don't you just hate it when a show isn't in DB's list of currently airing dramas and you don't know it has started until you see DB's "First Impressions" post and you're too late for its premier-week What We're Watching so you have to comment on four episodes next week. #island

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I only made it to minute 20 with Brain Works. You are being VERY generous.

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Me too, lol.

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Recipe For Farewell (Series review) - Mood: B / B+ / B+ / B / B+ / A-
Once again, I’m earnestly asking the Dramabeans staff to give us Beanies at least a formal space to share all our thoughts about this absolutely gorgeous show. Even the slight misstep that it had in Yeo Jin’s arc was way better than the best that I watched in other shows! But where do I even start when it comes to reviewing this show? The trailer teased us about all the food and the show itself actually featured food as a motif right to the very end: a beauty rarely accomplished. I loved how a simple request from our terminally ill lead, Da Jung, snowballed into a tale of heartwarming emotion without ever relying on the histrionics that other shows often faltered to when they need plot to fill up the airtime. The supermarket cashier is who I now benchmark all supporting characters against: he didn’t get a major arc of his own, but yet it felt otherwise. It’s such an incredible pity that this show didn’t blow up because the actors did so well, right down to the extras. I’m certain this project will be a meaningful one for the established stars but I’m also glad that Jin Ho Eun gets to place this in his resume: this is exactly the show a young and upcoming star needs, with loads of lessons to learn from the seniors, actual narratives to practice your skills and most importantly, none of that reliance on being the lucky stars to shine in a trashy story. Hurray!

Missing: The Other Side 2 (Episode 5-6) - Mood: C-
The cliffhanger did feel a bit anticlimactic: the audience already knows that Blondie isn’t Goliath and as for Il Yong’s reveal, it would’ve been only a twist if he wasn’t connected to the drug gang. There’s also the weird dreams that only Wook (why?) is having and a boat in the woods: in short, there’s many parallel stories and it feels messy? I hope the 2nd half clears it up.

Unlock the Boss (Episode 9-10) - Mood: C-
Writer’s trying hard to make the corporate side of the story interesting with some very standard highs and lows for In Sung, our hero, in the penultimate week, as well as adding pity stories for another predictable antagonist and their sidekick. But it was all undermined by the death of Ma Pi whose relationship with Min Ah was narratively superior than all of the nonsense.

The Interest of Love (Episode 5-6) - Mood: D-
And so we continue with some of the most profound themes we’ve ever seen in dramaland: all sorts of plot contrivances for the sake of blocking open communication between the OTP, followed by locking them up together after the female lead has chosen the 2nd male lead. But of course he inexplicably breaks up with her just as the male lead picks the 2nd female lead.

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I still need to watch the last 4 episodes of Recipe, but it's good to see the A from you 🙂 (and be ensured that the show stayed excellent till the end).

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ALCHEMY OF SOUL is such a beautiful, rich tale and I hope for a satisfying ending. Please, no season 3, as much as I like the drama and Jang Uk's perfectly timed and big entrances and the rest of the cast.

TROLLEY is another great watch and there are many more secrets to be revealed (slowly). The writing and performance is nuanced and really good. I also find the dynamic between the still grieving mother and her daughter interesting - it is patriarchy in action, upheld by women.
The mother clearly thinks that her son, a future lawyer, was superior and that the poor, unimportant girl from the orphanage should just get over herself, there were only a few scratches, nothing really serious happened and she had offered generous compensation. The daughter suspects that her mother would not have been equally upset, if something bad had happened to her and she is desperate to win her mother's love by also blaming her former friend and the coming up with this terrible apology scheme.

UNLOCK THE BOSS is another nice drama to watch, although I had to laugh that in a drama about AI a character is killed for trying to hand over a PRINT OUT!, not even a memory stick or sending the report by email.

Cliff-hangers are standard drama fare, but the one in this week's INTEREST OF LOVE made me angry. Su-yeong can hear the reason for the sudden break-up, but not I? I suspect some sort of 'noble' reason, he breaks up for her own good (for which he is naturally the best judge!). It was so nice to see these two together, much nicer than Sang-su and Mi-kyung. She really should not be happy with a boyfriend who only can give her 1%.

Pleased that FORBIDDEN MARRIAGE is back, I love a nice, and not too challenging, relaxing watch.

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Hahah you’re so right about the hard copies in Unlock My Boss! And then Director Kwak made a copy using (presumably) a photocopier at a corner shop!🤣

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Red balloon (5-6): I dont know where this is going. I am feeling bad for Ba Da. EU Kang is au conventional FL that you root for. The part between NC and the sister was equally bad

Work later drink now S2 (9-10): I like Ji goo most among the trio for her no nonsense attitude. JY might love Ji goo but I felt it was wrong from her side to act like that no matter what. The director was right " Who have her the right to decide who is good and who is not ". She acted selfish and I guess she know that too. Although this incident might be a trigger for Ji goo to finally put herself above her friends and extend a chance to her counter lead, I still can justify JY's actions. Esp the Ji goo "a expression when JY asked for her counter parts's name ( I forgot what his name was).

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* unconventional FL who you cannot root for

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Hi Venus
If you really want to watch a true romcom with mature and sensible adults that have some very funny moments, swoony and squee worthy chemistry plus thorough conversations, this show is ideal for a winter cozy watch.
I'm kinda sad it's over.

Meet Yourself
Liking its slice of life and grounded feel. Still not hooked yet as of ep 6. But I enjoy it as a relaxing watch.

Alchemy of Souls
The only kdrama on my list. They are um slowly going in the background of cdramas. Nonetheless I hope this wraps up without inciting more frustration.

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Adding Hi Venus to my list!

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You should watch it. And if you've seen the Day of Becoming you (which was another great romcom) , it's by the same team.

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I have been loving it- my go to drama right now for when I am otherwise bummed out.

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I binged all of She and Her Perfect Husband over the last week, and I really enjoyed it. When I sat down to watch a contract marriage romcom, I wasn't expecting a feminist critique of hiring and other workplace practices, but I'm glad I got both. (Highly recommend skipping all scenes with the FL's bff and brother, they're neither important nor good.)

Once I finished that, I looked for another Xu Kai drama to watch because I needed to know whether he could actually act. Falling Into Your Smile was sufficient enough to prove that he was directed to act the way he did in She and Her Perfect Husband, so I forgive him for giving me almost nothing in the first 28 episodes of SAHPH. If anyone has any Yang Mi recs, I'm all ears. Eyeing her 2017 movie Reset for a weekend watch.

Alchemy of Souls was nothing to write home about last week. I feel the same about Island. So I ended up rewatching a lot of old faves to make up for the deficit. I'm back at work this week, so my drama watching time is significantly reduced. 😔

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If you want to see Xu Kai act, watch Arsenal Military Academy, he'll win you over. Not only do I think he was directed to act so plainly in She and her Perfect Husband but also that he generally is better in wacky roles than in serious ones. He was excellent in AMA.

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I'm gonna start this one now. I need to add some excitement to my drama watchlist. Also adding Day of Becoming You because I've never seen it. Thanks for all 3 recs!

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I've already watched 20-something episodes of Arsenal Military Academy since yesterday (don't judge me lol), and I thank you again for this rec. Bai Lu is everything to me now. haha Though now I am even more upset by the direction Xu Kai was given in SAHPH because it's obvious he's capable of so much more!

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Bai Lu is my favorite cdrama actress! If you liked her in AMA, highly recommend watching The Legends (also with Xu Kai), Love is Sweet (Bai Lu & Leo won Best Couple award for it) and One & Only (with Allen Ren). She's super versatile and does a lot of interesting dramas!

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I'm ready for more Bai Lu. She's so good in AMA. I've added The Legends and Love Is Sweet to my watchlist. Bumped Love Is Sweet up to the top of the list because I like the synopsis and her character's description a lot. Thanks for the recs!

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I think you must have completed it by now haha. If you want more OTT wacky Xu Kai, he and the FL were a total hoot in Once upon a time in Lingjian Mountain. But as I said it's a little over the top comedy.

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👀 Adding to the list!

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My favorite Yang Mi drama is "Ten Miles of Peach Blossom" (Eternal Love) with Mark Chao. It's not a modern drama, it's XianXia (fantasy) and the initial episodes are a little confusing, but the payoff is great and her chemistry with Mark is amazing.

Also recommending Arsenal Military Academy for Xu Kai. If you haven't watched anything with Bai Lu, she's the FL and is amazing

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Never seen either, so both are on the list now. Thank you!

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ETERNAL LOVE is actually one of the very best Chinese Costume Drama Fantasies (Xianxia type).

Yang Mi was indeed outstanding in it: She plays a Nine-Tailed Fox (this is probably where my wife got her love of these mythical beings). The show also has the incomparable Dilmurat Dilraba in a supporting role.

I seldom issue a guarantee for any show, but this one is a rare exception: You will like it, or you will flat-dab love it, even if you normally do not watch fantasies.

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Agreed it is exceptional. Also known as Ten miles of Peach Blossoms for anyone unable to find it under the Eternal love title.

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I agree with wapz. Xu Kai was best in AMA!

I haven’t completed a single Yang Mi drama. Lol. So I am not the best person to recommend any of her dramas. If you don’t mind fantasy/costumes Eternal Love with Mark Chao is well liked by many.

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I watched FLOWER OF EVIL.

There were so many things I LOVED about this show. Although interestingly the parts didn’t sum up as a whole that I can love, but it still left a very pleasant aftertaste for me.

I LOVE Lee Jun Gi and his acting style, and he was perfect here. He exudes so much energy and charisma that it is mesmerizing.

I have always loved Moon Chae Won, ever since she was a frantic but extremely relatable second lead in Shinning Inheritance, to when she was one of the best female lead characters ever in The Princess’ Man. She definitely showed her experience here.

I loved both cop sunbaes.
Choi Young Joon had fantastic characterization and delivery, I was waiting for and loving his smallest scenes the whole time.
Choi Dae Hoon is a different matter. I have a ridiculous soft spot for him and I don’t even know why! I’m always happy to see him in dramas and he usually turns rogue and breaks my heart LOL . You can imagine my surprise and delight at his role here. I LOVED watching him, and if I ever rewatch this show it will be because of these two and their hoobae, and their chief.

Jang Hee Jin is another one I have always had a soft spot for, since 2005 no less. I liked watching her too.

On the whole, I’m happy to ignore everything else. So it’s a win.

Now I'm watching SH**TING STARS. I'll hold my comments for next week.

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You’re making me want to rewatch this! Agree with everything you pointed out about all the actors (except I don’t love Moon Chaewon but don’t mind her). You didn’t mention who for me was the breakout scene-stealer, Seo Hyunwoo. His character was nowhere near as complex as it was here in Flower of Evil, but he made the snoozefest Behind Every Star bearable for me.

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I love him too! Why did I forget to mention him!

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The Fabulous
Out on Netflix here, so both my friend and I could watch this. An easy but satisfying watch for both of us. We enjoyed studying the outfits, accessories, makeup, styling and the glimpse behind the scenes to see how airport outfits, sponsors and marketing work.
Unlock My Boss
An unexpectedly good watch, I love our lead trio and especially the girl. I hope the end of Ep. 10 is not what it looked like, I don’t want to lose Ma Pi!
Forbidden Marriage
It seems like I only have dramas I love to watch right now 😊I got to catch up on this and saw 6 episodes in a row. Such great fun! It has everything right from the start: love, grief, self-reference, fun and jokes, a love triangle, some easy-to-understand palace politics. Kim Woo Seok has an easier role here, he was awesome as Noh Tae Nam in Military Prosecutor Doberman.
Island
I seriously love KNG; here he is either in full action or just looking seriously good while not talking… Cha Eun Woo is soo pretty, I find his acting adequate and his Italian pretty good! Mi Ho doesn’t understand anything and is a damsel in distress who thinks money can solve anything, but I guess that’s what she’s like in the Webtoon, too. Thankfully, Lee Da Hee’s styling is so much better than in Love Is For Suckers.
About CGI and directing: If I was ungracious, I would say this is a B class Fantasy Horror Comedy with lots of eye candy, but I won’t since I’m enjoying it so much. It’s way too short, though! I thought Season 1 would have 12 episodes, but it turns out S1 only has 6 episodes. According to MDL, S2 will air starting Feb.3, so at least it’s only a short wait.
King Of The Desert
This very short drama is like a collection of short stories with connections through the protagonists. At first, it felt Kafkaesque to me; it is more like a social experiment about what people do for money and what it does to them (think Squid Game without the violence). The first episode was really good, the others were not quite up to that standard, but it was interesting and stays in my mind. How did I find this? Lee Hong Nae in Uncanny Counter was the first devilishly attractive villain I ever saw in Kdramas, he has a support role here.
KDrama friend project:
I didn’t continue Run On recently but am watching The Guest on even more urgent recommendation from my friend. It’s riveting but scary… and now I’ve seen my fair share of exorcisms between this and Island! If it gets too scary, I just look at both MLs as the romantic leads I’ve seen them as (in You Are My Spring and Crazy Love + Her Private Life, respectively).
Together, we’re watching a lot of kpop content and then some BL: Minato’s Laundromat, The New Employee, and The Director Who Buys Me Dinner. Also, we’re waiting for Alchemy of Souls to be released on Netflix in Europe, so we can watch that together.

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I’ve been so busy with Christmas that I have hardly checked any drama. As I can’t seem to engage with any new drama (I tried Brain Works and was not in the mood), I’m focusing on finishing the dramas I couldn’t finish last year.

The Island. (Ep. 3). I Enjoyed the first episodes, a good blend of action and humor. But I hate the filter used on KNG face, although it got better on episode 3. I have to praise CEW Italian accent, by the way. A one thing more: why can’t LDH have a friend stylist? Why is she dressed and styled by her worst enemy? The bangs are distracting all the time, and why on Earth put her on high boots ALL the time. This is LIFS all over again.

Never give up (Ep. 13). I liked the side plot of the son trying to find happiness in what he loves, I think it showed so well the situation we see so many times in which adults are just focusing on making their sons the number one no matter what because they equal success to happiness. I also loved the little makjangish love triangle between the three kids (or was it a square?), it also showed how toxic relations can be from the moment someone considers you owe something to them. As for the adults, I will love writers stop using the “fist love” trope this way. It was not even a first love, but a first crush. I have to say I loved how Pilau despite being concerned and hurt by the lies of two people he trusted acted in a surprisingly mature way for a ML.

The Good Detective 2 (Ep. 12). I’m finding this drama so good. As always I love how no one is good or evil, even the evil ones. Every one lies in the grey zone.

New life begins. (Ep. 13). I’m liking a lot this cute drama, and find it very interesting how it deals with the role of women in society. I also love the beautiful production, the costumes and of course all the china… oh, I’m in love with every single piece of decorative arts shown.

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Oh you started New Life begins already? It's such a light breezy historical drama isn't it? I loved all women here.

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It is!! I love that all women had their own motivation to do what they do, and how they team up to make their lives better. Also OTP is super cute!!

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Yeah they have a strong we don't rely on men approach to life and I'm happy to see at least one show that portrays female comradeship in a palace setting.
Do you want to try a modern drama next?

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@wapz--I have to ask--if you are happy to see female comradeship, why are you such a fan of new cdramas? The cases of government oppression of women coming from China today are so frequent that I cannot in good conscience, watch current Cdramas, especially since I know they are heavily censored by the government. I understand why those who think, as Ji and the government does, that women should shut up and have babies like cdramas, but not anyone who values women's independence! As the New York times article from last September points out, "Battling Violence and Censors, Women in China Become ‘Invisible and Absent" https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/06/business/china-women-metoo.html

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I have added Reset to my watching list after seeing it mentioned in the RoundUp. Let's see hoe it goes!!

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Hey @hacja , thanks for the link.
I'd like to first ask if you have seen any cdramas? The censorship involved in cdramas is different from the one you mention here. Nobody is asking women to give birth to babies especially in the show me and Eazal were discussing where there's a whole arc about wives and concubines refusing to and taking measures to avoid giving birth to a Prince's child.
Besides that, recently a sexist drama was removed from all the web because many women found it to be discriminatory.
There is also a specific drama category for women empowerment which is usually pretty well done, so they are churning out at least 4 to 6 dramas in a year in this category. Alongside that, I have actually felt that in recent years cdramas have managed to portray women even better than in kdramaland. Yeah they started out a little awkward but have slowly improved on the concepts of empowerment.
So I guess this is a far fetched assumption that cdramas or the censorship in dramas tend to oppress women. If anything , cdramas have lately had more wholesome women than caricature empowered women.

Coming to the article, I'd like to clarify in recent years my reason to watch dramas has definitely been escapist entertainment. If I started to consider the political regimes, governments and public opinions on women in countries while watching dramas, I'd probably be able to watch none. Not even those made in my home country or South Korea. I don't rule out that art always has a way to bend rules and give you a satire on their own situation.While I can gather what you're trying to say and I too stay away from dramas where people like any of the staff, crew, cast members are directly involved in crimes against women, watching dramas from a country doesn't necessarily mean that I support their political ideas.

Neither does it in any way signify that I won't be supporting female independence if I watch them.
Also this was NYT so I took it with a grain of salt and talked with a few people with Chinese relatives/colleagues who do think lives of women are improving but there's a long way for equality just like in any other part of the world. Nonetheless, I stay away from political news and don't know deeper about the subject so my knowledge can be limited. But yes if you want to stay away from cdramas because of that, great, but I don't think it relates directly with my drama watching.

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@wapzy Thanks for your reply. And let me stress, it was because of your comment indicating that you had a strong sense of the value of female independence that I asked that question, so I'm not questioning your own beliefs in that regard. I think we completely agree on the importance of gender equality and women’s freedom.

I'm not saying, either, that subversive culture can't be produced in an authoritarian regime. Also, I have great respect Chinese art and intellectual life in general. I agree that all nations have oppression in their past and present. However, I would point out that while there are many recent kdramas and U.S. t.v shows that have an underlying conservative message concerning women’s place in society there are also many others in which politicians and businessmen who engage in sexual harassment are vilified. Important is that these dramas produced in S. Korea and the U.S. are relatively free to convey their opinion, even if it involves criticism of government officials.

But for me, under the current regime, where productions have to bend to its censorship rules. I cannot watch for escapism if I see strong independent woman (or women) being portrayed, and know in the back of my mind that in reality if they tried to speak out against sexual harassment they would at the very least further harassed by government authorities, and at worst be jailed. Again, though, you could be right, that some of these productions are subversive or satirical. The ones I’ve seen, with independent women who in the end submit to stronger men haven’t seemed to subversive to me, but I’m not attuned to what would be subversive in Chinese culture and what wouldn’t.

From all I've read, Chinese women made great progress after Mao, until Xi Jinping consolidated his power. Now is a different story, which is why recent productions bother me much more than ones of several years ago.

Finally, if you think its just the New York Times reporting this, I just include a list of other articles, not to try to “prove” that I am right, just to show why I have a strong sense that this is happening in China.

https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article7870

https://asiasociety.org/policy-institute/xi-jinping-shows-his-strength-muscling-women-away-power

https://www.wsj.com/articles/under-xi-jinping-women-in-china-have-given-up-gains-11667995201

https://fortune.com/2022/10/29/xi-china-third-term-womens-rights-low-birth-rates/

Anyway, I feel I’ve expressed my opinion enough on this issue and I can tell just by looking at this “What We’re Watching” that very few on Dramabeans share my qualms about cdramas. I’ll not bother you again. Thanks again, though, for taking the time to respond to me!

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Island: So I watched the first two episodes of this because, well, Kim Nam-Gil, demon hunter, but the weird combo of k-drama cliches and B-movie horror means I'm unlikely to continue. I mean, did our chaebol heiress really need to end up in a contract relationship with a semi-immortal man-demon by the end of episode 2?

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Alchemy of Souls: Yul lives! The turtle lives! There is still a lot to enjoy about it, but I'm starting to really worry that the drama won't let Naksu do anything remotely cool. It's wasting the talent and training GYJ has. I'm a bit tired of Wook coming to save the day.

Forbidden Marriage: My enjoyment has dropped a lot since the first episode. The argument that the king has abandoned his throne because he slept out one night and was gone for the morning had me side-eying. Sorang and the modern references are keeping this show afloat for me.

Reborn Rich: (up to ep 11): Binging it! The story moves at a great clip and the directing and acting are fantastic. And I like the touches of humor too (Hyung-joon is the true visionary. lol). I am riveted by everyone, especially by Haraboji. I hate, fear, respect, and pity him. I was a little horrified by egregiously small and unappetizing-looking "New York pizza" with barely any tomato sauce in one of the earlier episodes. I know the ending already and am skeptical how it could actually be possible...

Dream of Splendor (up to ep 28): paused here since I'm sensing there is going to be a rift and I'm already mad at the ML for the Guilty-Ghosting trope, especially when he knows that that FL is in a precarious situation. I'm loving the scenes involving our tea house ladies using their heads. I may have to forward through the romance angst.

Silence of the Monster (up to ep 27): May have to bank the episodes and FF through to the nd. The whole Chufeng and his master subplot is getting annoying. This really a drama hard-carried by the directing and artistic direction.

Hi Venus (up to ep 12): Cute and light. I love how the supporting characters are like the audience cheering for the OTP to get together.

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Didn't really have much to watch this week 😔.

ONGOING
Alchemy of Souls S2 - I guess I'm excited for the finale? I'm not really sure how to feel about this season.

Unlock My Boss - Well that death (if it's a death?) was unnecessary. Poor Mapi.

The Forbidden Marriage - The bathtub scene was a deliberate parody of The Red Sleev right? Still funny. I'm so glad this is back. It's the only purely fun show each week.

WATCHLIST
Planning to try Payback and Agency over the weekend.

C-DRAMAS
Completed Hi Venus (great!) and The Silence of the Monster (good but too long, the MLs were great).

Started Meet Yourself, which is by the same writer as Hi Venus and Go Ahead, and I'm enjoying it like all their earlier works.

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Brain Works Just here for the comic duo :p

Missing: The Other Side 2 I really liked the addittion of his "daughter", they're cute together. Ahn So-hee is still an average actress, I can't see the difference between her dramas's characters.
Wednesday-Thursday (January 4-5)

Unlock the Boss Don't kill Ma-Pi!

The Interest of Love It's a slow torture but I really like it.

The Forbidden Marriage They failed to show the FL's feelings for the King... with all her antics, it's hard to see her true heart and why she loves him.

Alchemy of Souls 2 They made me finding Uk boring. He's too perfect. LJW is just doing grand entrance at this point...

Recipe of Farewell It was a great drama. The theme was hard but they made it in a very serene way.

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ALCHEMY OF SOULS: This show has given me so much pleasure that I promise I won't complain about the ending--as long as it's not stupid. Or overly tragic. Or ambiguous. I don't need happiness all around or big weddings or universal triumph of good over evil. Just the leads together with full knowledge of each other in some form or another. Thank you.

THE FORBIDDEN MARRIAGE: This is still a cute, easy watch but I cannot get over my acute longing for the actors playing the first and second leads to switch places.

UNLOCK THE BOSS: This drama has been such a wonderful surprise with a male lead that's impossible not to root for. I'm only half following the central mystery, but it's twistier than I expected. The show is clever, and balances heavy and light very well, although I am assuming there was a major fake-out at the end of episode 10. And I loved the kiss! These two are very believable together.

INTEREST OF LOVE: I will applaud the writers for making me fall in love with the FL after I found her cold and remote for the first two episodes. I wish I felt a real pull and connection between the leads, but it hasn't happened yet. Still, there's something about the slice of life angst of this drama that keeps me watching. I'm hoping that eventually the romances will spark for me.

TROLLEY: As infuriating as it was to watch people treat a violent sexual assault as a privilege or no big deal or evidence of the woman's worthlessness, this show is impossible for me not to watch. The writing is so compelling and even though I know things are going to get extraordinarily painful for all involved, I also trust that justice will eventually be served for the characters. It'll be a hard road to get there, though, and likely mean the marriage at the center will fracture at some point.

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I will be finishing Alchemy of souls Light and shadow and I want this drama and universe to continue despite its flaws. I'm starting to wonder if the misogyny is deliberate to make us react, such as in The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. But this is probably me overthinking.
Blood is in pause.
Protect the boss is fun althrough dated. I noticed that there are english song in the background, one other thing that has changed in the production.
I also have started cdramas The silence of the monster. The leads are all so yound and slender.
But the other drama I'm engrossed with is Unchained love (or Forbidden love). I'll risk disagreing with the Dylan Wang fans in the room, but he is not at Wu Lei or Lee Jae Wook level and not so funny either. The banters, bickering and fun situations are the high point of this comedy.

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Dylan Wang was really good in Love between fairy and devil. If you haven't seen that, you should, but I totally think it was also due to the director's credit. He needs a good director and actress to uplift him. So I won't be surprised if he isn't Dongfang Qingcang level good in his other shows but nonetheless serviceable. Unchained Love had so many mixed reviews that I didn't start it. I recently Hi Venus and am now watching Meet Yourself which both I'm thoroughly enjoying. So it's modern land for now.

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I'm reluctant to try Love between the fairy and the devil... It might be one of these show that are so popular that I refuse to watch it. But there is more :
- the FL voice. So many warnings that it is a bit frightening.
- the story. I might be mistaken, but there is reincarnation and they have to start again the relation ? Seems boresome.
- I've seen a few pictures and extracts. They mostly generated indifference or eyeroll. Magic that bam solves everything is not what I like.
The last point might be the most important. The plot is very rarely correctly described or appealing (both Hi Venus and Meet yourself generate zero interest or curiosity from me) so I start dramas because something catches my eyes. This one has not.
I'm okay with devils but weary of fairies and other magical things. When they float in the air... it was supportable in Words of honour thanks to the heavy flirtation.
Maybe I should try to watch more extracts.

I was promised banter and bickering in Unchained love. It delivered. (I am now at the heart breaking phase, and I'm attached enough to some of the personages to feel it. The powerful cold eunuch reduced to lovesick puppy is a switch in character but the whole is funny enough to roll with it).

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I completely understand where you came from. I think drama preferences are highly individualistic. But for me who dropped LBFAD at a couple of minutes mark and came back to it again after some time had passed, with the right mind- and head-space, it turned out to be one of the best things dramaland offered me last year. Somehow, to enjoy this one I really had to completely trust where the show would lead me. Fortunately, it unfolded beautifully towards the end.

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I was spoiled on many things regarding the show but it still lead me by surprise. Trusting the show is really what you have to do with this one. It only makes sense on a rewatch that how consistent story they've been telling all along while keeping us hooked with the usual dramatics.

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If flying people are not your thing, you'll definitely have to stay away from xianxia lol. I used to be irked out by it but my response to flying people, the female leads voice or even reincarnation is all the same, it grows on you. As M is an example above lol I remember what she said a few minutes in.

But to explain it further, I guess by extracts you mean clips?
1. The reincarnation plot is not like what you think at all. It was at least done much better than in Alchemy of souls and barely lasted 2 episodes. Plus I think anyone who has seen AOS will like LBFD.
2. People rarely fly. They have fight sequences and only that's the usual instant where they sometimes fly. Magic doesn't solve everything either, the fight sequences are similar to AOS with slightly more magic. The ML actually has a dragon that flew him once 😂
3. The FL's voice is sth I totally get. It grows on me, it doesn't on some. But it definitely takes you by surprise in a not so pleasant way when listening to her for the first time. Nonetheless, I'm usually bothered during the first 2 episodes in her shows and am fine by the 3rd. But yeah her voice improves in the show later on.
4. If anything I've realized to not go by English titles of Chinese dramas and their descriptions, they are both misleading. Hi Venus' description seems like it's a medical drama, it's far from it and it is a flirty and funny romcom. Fairy and devil's name and description is not as misleading but its a classic Beauty and beast or even Romeo and Juliet kind of a story.

Also I'm not telling you all of this to convince you to watch lol. Just wanted to clear out a few things on my end. And I totally understand how xianxia is not everyone's preferred genre but if you have room for fantasy, it is not far apart.

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All this plus LBFD way better than AOS relative to 1) the romance and the development of their feelings make sense , audience can really see when and why they would fall for each other
2) FL had her own agency until the end. She may appear to be a weakling , but the story did not abandon her independence and did not make it all about the hero only.
3) the stakes they had to fight against are high so their wins are satisfying and their losses are devastating - in short , epic.
4) aos is technically superior when it comes to production (bigger budget, i suppose) but lbfd story is more coherent.
5) yes, fl voice is bad at first but once i got hooked with the story, did not notice it anymore.

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Tbh I didn't want to make the comparison to AOS @jingbee but it is the only Korean fantasy show that is somewhat made on the xianxia formula so I just wanted to explain the rebirth aspect through it. But I totally get you. I had a hard time not comparing the two especially when Season 1 was airing and that's when LBFD was airing too. Whatever you say is spot on, especially about the FL. She is one character here in the drama, as M says, that you have trust the show and her development. Technically she was always a higher being but the show made her lowly, then made the ML depend on her and then turned her equal to again regain her superiority. The ML and FL always had equal parts in saving the world and both respected eachother and saw eachother as equals. XLH is a really good FL actually and it's a pity so many people still can't see over her first few episode phase of being a naive cute girl.

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Thanks for these information.
I'll probably watch in order to see a xianxia.

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Out of desperation during these dark rainy Seattle days, am currently re-watching MARRIAGE NOT DATING (2014). Just needed a guaranteed laugh.

SUMMER STRIKE: I'm partial to dramas that take place in the countryside (I'LL COME TO YOU WHEN THE WEATHER'S FINE, ONCE UPON A SMALL TOWN, MY LIBERATION NOTES, OUR BLUES). The disenchanted rat-race-dropout theme is one I never get tired of. In its last episodes (only 12 of them), SUMMER STRIKE made a wrong turn and lost its way by throwing in a murder and making the romantic leads into detectives. SPOILER: The romance eventually reaches a crashing crescendo of hand-holding.

Finished two Seo In-Guk dramas:
SHOPAHOLIC LOUIS: My first time seeing SI-G. Shopaholic is a pretty well written comedy with good consistency all the way through. It was easy to get pulled along through the story as it jumped quickly from one plot thread to the next. SI-G overplays the awkward, childlike innocence of the main character, but he’s pretty adorable.

Next, DOOM AT YOUR SERVICE. A complete switch from SIG's character inn Shopaholic. Halfway through, I started to lean heavy on the fast forward button. It’s hard to identify with characters whose lines of dialogue seem randomly pulled out of a hat.

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My sympathies on your weather! Marriage Not Dating is a great choice 👍🏼

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It is one of my all-time favorites. I re-watch it about once a year.

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Please send your rain my way, and you can gladly take this warm sunny weather in the middle of winter. If there's anything worse than winter on the East Coast without snow, it's winter on the East Coast with spring weather.

That being said, some may not find it funny since there are ghosts and a killing cop, but Oh My Ghost was a dark comedy. I liked it for it's fantasy elements mixed in with humor, some thrilling, and a few moments of discomfort that dissipates as quickly as storm clouds.

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Have been thinking about a re=watch of Oh My Ghost. I do love Park Bo Young dramas (except Doom at Your Service)

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My wife and I have largely adjusted to each others tastes, as you have to in a long marriage, but we do have some differences that might destroy other, less solid relationships. Her favorite movies and shows are detective shows, although she will settle for anything involving mystery, intrigue, suspense, or shows that are dark and thought-provoking. I like romances. We have united in watching Alchemy of Souls but that will come to end this week (and I apologize to the many fans here, but I would have been satisfied had it ended with season 1).

As for other shows, let me describe what else we watched this week by presenting a little thought experiment. Imagine a streaming service careening out of control down the tubes of the Internet. If you press play on one show, the dark suspense and corporate intrigue show like Glory, Trolley and even Unlock the Bossthen your partner will be engrossed but you will be anxious and vaguely depressed. If you press the button on the other show, an amusing rom-com, your wife will be bored, fall asleep, and issue an ultimatum that you watch noirish murder shows set in Iceland. Which taste preferences would you choose to kill?

Fortunately, there are no amusing rom-coms right now (except maybe Forbidden Marriage, and neither of us like sageuks), so I’m not facing this version of trolley dilemma…yet.

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On Dramabeans' suggestion (irony alert) I gave 'Hit The Spot' a try. It seems the drama really wants to be a Korean 'Sex And The City', but they forgot just how cringeworthy the original show was. The series showing the bedroom stuff that other dramas discretely pan away from only highlights how you don't really need to see bedroom stuff, that it distracts from telling a story. Korean film has lots of nudity, Korean series don't. Is this (bad) series the start of a new trend?

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I'm in the home stretch of Uncontrollably Fond. I'm not really invested in the characters, in other words I don't really care what happens, but it's charming and moves along, a smoothly running melo machine.

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The one song from the OST that sums the drama up for me is Golden Love.

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My wife took some time out to watch the sixth season of OUTLANDER, a favorite show of hers. Having caught up on all the current episodes of the Chinese crime and mystery show THE SILENCE OF THE MONSTER (She really loves it) she finally started the Chinese historical costume drama THE LONG RIVER which she finds very good and very realistic in its depiction of the suffering of the people. She has also finally begun the last few episodes of A NEW LIFE BEGINS which is a masterpiece that I heartily recommend to everyone.

My son has also been enjoying THE SILENCE OF THE MONSTER which he describes as nearly perfect, including the music and the cinematography. He commented on how clearly the actors enunciate their lines, which is helpful to him as his Mandarin has become quite rusty.

My wife so enjoyed a Chinese Costume drama version of JOURNEY TO THE WEST that she is now reading the actual classic book (in an English translation).

She has also begun watching BRAIN WORKS: A crime/mystery show is more her kind of thing than mine. So far, she finds it OK.

My wife and I managed to squeeze in a couple more episodes of the C-drama SHE AND HER PERFECT HUSBAND. I have also enjoyed a few more episodes of HI VENUS and also SINCE I MET U.

I received, as one of my Christmas presents, a copy of THE ADMIRAL, ROARING CURRENTS, which we watched on New Year’s Day. It is not the most accurate depiction of the Battle of the Miryeong Straits but does get the essential point - This was the most extraordinary victory in the history of Naval Warfare. Speaking as a Former Naval Person I appreciate the effort that went into making this film and its celebration of the genius of Admiral Yi.

Only one episode this last week for THREE BOLD SIBLINGS. Sorim is insisting on the separation from Mooyoung- just as they were getting together- I hate the whole separation trope in general but at least this one has occurred before anything much has developed. You could almost say the same for the ‘separation’ of the ML’s aunt Hyun-jung and Gun-woo, the FL’s brother, (note the symmetry here- both of our side couples are ‘separated’- this writer loves symmetry) except that Hyun-jung is pregnant, so you have to say that there is definitely something developing. Mooyoung is deeply disappointed and had a conversation with Sorim- in which Sorim tells him that she does not want to hurt his daughter Ji-hye and of course Ji-hye overhears this. Meanwhile, our FL spent most of this episode in a coma but finally woke up- and, sure enough, our amnesia arc is on. The problem with only one episode is that even more things are left hanging at the end than usual. Meanwhile Sorim’s evil Ex continues to be despicable and Sorim really needs to work things out with Mooyoung so that she can save Ji-hye from his evil clutches. Did I mention that I have developed a visceral hatred for the Ex? Did also I mention that the evil birth secret woman continues to cause trouble- being the...

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...being the reason the FL was in a coma? And is causing professional trouble for the ML as well? After a slow start this weekender is now going full throttle but having only one episode was simply frustrating.

This evening I and my family will be watching the next two episodes of THE FORBIDDEN MARRIAGE.

PSA: Viki will be carrying KKOKDU’S SEASON under the title KOKDU: SEASON OF DEITY.

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Thanks for the update on Three Brave Siblings, which I kind of discontinuing until the final stretch when things look bright…

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We will hopefully get there soon. Truthfully this drama has been uneven from the beginning. It will not go down as one of the great weekenders but neither is it among the worst. It has had some excellent moments but also stretches that were simply tedious.

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TBS does not follow the standard formula of weekenders, eg main couple is a done deal right at the beginning and two age gap couples. I like the writer’s previous drama Unkind Woman that also has some unusual set up. I am sure things will pick up eventually.

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Current/recent:
Alchemy of Souls Part 2: So frustrating, so uneven, yet still so enjoyable. I’m braced for a sad ending but it’s provided so much pleasure so far that even a botched finale can’t make me sorry I watched.
The Forbidden Marriage: Didn’t get around to yesterday’s episode, but still nominally watching. I hope it stays silly; my life needs lots of silliness right now.
Unlock The Boss: I’m a latecomer to this - another one I started because of the comments here - and it’s clever and more emotionally engaging than I expected. The little girl and the ex-boxer are a great pair. The parents are lovely.
The Fabulous: Meh. Also blah. Too much of the dialogue sounded like a fashion company press release. And stop making every gay character an over-the-top squawking goose, please. It was pretty to look at, though.
Island: Super fun! I’m a sucker for the mash-up of horror, wacky humor, brooding ML, and nonsensical lore, so this is hitting all my buttons. CEW can come over and speak Italian to me all day.

Older stuff (kdrama continuing education program):
Tracer part 2: On hold until I have more time and less need for light distraction.
Live Up to Your Name: Just started, still undecided. My intense fear and dislike of needles is making the first episode a tough go.

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Re LUTYN: I don' think you should watch the last couple of eps then if you have a fear for needles.

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Hi Venus is everything a rom-com should be that kdramaland has forgotten lately (maybe with the only exception of BP)

Heard it Through the Gravepine is a classic that is too little talked about. Very dark humor and funny

Master of My Own confirms Seven Tan's skill in choosing winning projects

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Really liking the love for Hi Venus here. It is truly a rom com with good romance and comedy, not neglecting any of the two even when BP did. I think romcoms are a neglected genre everywhere but cdramas are picking it up nicely.
I've also wanted to recommend some to a recapper here (missvicitrix) because I feel they miss the old kdrama touch through the AMA's. But wonder if that will be blasphemous on a kdrama site lol.

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I am current in my watching of HI Venus- it is really good

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Every now and then, a unique fare like Heard It Through The Grapevine comes along that makes kdrama watching enduring in that you can have the usual staples in romcom / melo / family weekenders but exciting off-field thoughtful-provoking pieces.

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The Romance of Tiger and Rose🍌🍊(23/24): The first 17 episodes were perfection, until our female lead took the noble idiot option of trying to write her husband out of the story. Since the beginning he has been going against her meddling in the story, because it undermined their romance. Why did she expect him to suddenly comply and stop loving her?🤨 As a result, our male and second male lead acted out of character for three episodes, leaving me confused and sometimes even disappointed by their actions. Fortunately, they were properly back in character by episode 21 and I could continue swooning or rolling my eyes at them.😊Our second female lead Chuchu stayed consistent to the end, I must say. At first, I sympathized with her because the city owner did not treat her daughters equally, but she shows her true insecure colors. Devoting your life to ruining the mother and sister you resent is not going to bring you any self-worth!🙅‍♀️

Kiss Goblin💋👺(12/12): I usually dip my toes into a new K-drama year with a completed minidrama. This year I wondered why Bae In-Hyuk caused lots of gushing in 2022. While not exactly my type, I did enjoy his performance and am rooting for him in future dramas. It was the perfect cute little show to watch on a boring Friday evening.🙂

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Yes, there were about 2 questionable episodes in Tiger and Rose, but the rest is great and I had so much fun watching this show! ❤️ And the descent of the sister to villainy was very well done.

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With SUMMER STRIKE and CURTAIN CALL both concluded at the end of December and my only other drama FORBIDDEN MARRIAGE on a short hiatus I decided to try to work in the cops/mystery Cdrama THE DISAPPEARING CHILD (2022) (iQYI).
I have watched 6 of 12 episodes and it is terrific. Top notch drama.
tvN’s CRASH COURSE IN ROMANCE (NETFLIX US) is next up for me with episode one airing Jan. 14. The other upcoming drama I have my eye on is ENA’s CAN WE BE STRANGERS? which is still not available on a legal stream in the US. Fingers crossed.
Slightly embarrassed to admit but I did start the reality/travel series ROMANTIC CITY (2022) (Viki US). 12 thirty minute episode. I like to have something with short episodes on tap to work in from time to time. Fwir it was filmed in April 2022. It shows four guys going on presumably their first overseas trip since being cooped up for the pandemic. I have watched the first two episodes and we are in the Thai beach resort of Hua Hin. Very nice. It is fluff and I fast forward at times. The thing is I think these guys are too old for this. I don’t know these guys and they seem quite pleasant but I could more easy see maybe 20-25 year olds on this adventure rather than 25-32 year olds. I admit they all look five years younger but…lol.

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I am hoping someone will pick up CAN WE BE STRANGERS? If anyone spots it, please let us know.

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Honestly, there isn't anything I'm hooked on at the moment. I'm about to give up on Interest of Love because frankly it is completely boring. The bank background was interesting for an episode, the business of heroine being dragged into after-hour client meetings is so SO overdone, I love both the ML and the FL but they have as much chemistry as a flat soda, and if we're exploring office relationships, it has been done in a much more lively and interesting way a hundred times. At the moment, I prefer some of the modern Chinese dramas and I NEVER thought I would say that! I'm still watching Forbidden Marriage but I'm hanging on by my fingertips because our heroine is extremely irritating. The King is adorable, which is why I am still there but NOT the Falling Into the Bath again, we've had that within the last six months with the infinitely better Red Sleeve.

Tried to watch Glory on Netflix but honestly, to the western eye, the torture/bullying scenes are absolutely horrifying. Every single school drama seems to have this type of incident although not as grim. I went to Boarding School in UK from the age of 5 to the age of 18 and I never saw, heard, or imagined anything remotely resembling this type of abuse, nor did any of my friends who went to similar schools around the country. Since people are pretty-much the same the whole world over, I am assuming that a lot of dramatic license has been taken with the drama. Certainly, I hope so.

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I have stayed away from Glory because of what you write. I can't watch the bullying. I was horrified by Boys Over Flowers, Heirs and other dramas depictions of bullying over the years. I know to the West the bullying scandals in Korea seem odd wherein a celebrity goes on hiatus or even loses a career over this stuff.

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"I went to Boarding School in UK" being the operative words here. The US and UK, despite their origins, have LONG separated culturally in ways too many to name.

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One of the bullying scenes is based on a case from 2006 where a student regularly assaulted another student by burning her arm with a hair iron and scratching her chest with a pin.

https://kbizoom.com/the-most-terrifying-school-bullying-scene-in-the-glory-turns-out-to-be-based-on-a-true-story/

And here's a story from a decade ago about a student who committed suicide due to the violent bullying. The parents said that a girl in the same grade had committed suicide months previously due to bullying
https://www.cnn.com/2012/07/25/world/asia/south-korea-school-bully/index.html

And this: https://www.koreaboo.com/news/mother-14-year-old-korean-victim-reveals-truth-attack-exclusive-interview/

I read somewhere that the more homogeneity there is, the more likely someone who doesn't fit in completely will stand out and be bullied. And the level of competition that is encouraged between peers doesn't help. And there's the whole korean thing where you have to defer to your elders (even if they're older than you by just a year).

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Thank you for sharing the articles. I hadn’t grasped the extent and severity of the issue at all.💔

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