Beanie level: Errand boy

This feels like an epiphany for me right now, although I’m sure many of you figured it out already. Personally, of course, I feel a little daft and slow. The running scene in ep2 of Run On works as an analogy for the confused relationship between Oh Mi Joo and Ki Seon Gyum over the course of the drama: 
(1) she calls him; he comes running over, but there’s a missed connection; 
(2) she calls him over again and tells him that he missed her; and 
(3) he comes running back again, this time slower, paying more attention, because of which he doesn’t miss her. 
😂😂😂 

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    Thanks for posting this. I feel a little daft and slow too for not catching that. I love the details in this drama.

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    Oh I certainly didn’t catch it. I’m pretty sure you’re not daft and slow rather insightful.

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    Wow great analogy. Would’nt have caught if you did’nt mention it. This is the scene that made me obsessed with run on.

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    When SG flew by MJ the first time didn’t she say something like,
    “wow, he is really fast”? In some ways SG is very fast and in some a little slow on the uptake but I hope MJ stops doubting his feelings for her. Let’s have more fun and less angst.

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      Indeed! Since the show is turning the drama formula on its head, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that we are done with the angst, and it’s going to be all fun now. (Dad/s will be swept aside, not to worry.)

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I have a question about K-pop: Are all the groups mainly about people singing and dancing? Are there groups where the members play different instruments? I was thinking about groups like CNBLUE, where you have different members handling guitar/vocals, drums, and bass, but I\’m not sure if they qualify as \”K-pop\”? I\’d be very keen to hear your thoughts, and if you have any resources (articles or videos) to share. Thank you 😊 

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    There’s Day6, quite similar to CNBLUE. In the eyes of the Korean entertainment, both groups are under Kpop 😅 Korea does not have a genre/branch like Japan has between Jpop & Jrock.

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      interesting thanks. I looked up a few clips. It’s nice that they show the members playing their instruments. I’ve always found MVs where it’s about everyone dancing around a little overwhelming.

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        The dancing esp gets overwhelming during concerts. Sometimes I just want them to walk around while singing.

        I´m slowly discovering Day6 so I don´t know much but
        here`s a clip in one of their concerts, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siF3GM68IDE

        and a fave from their latest album The Book of Us: The Demon , Afraid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNhyVOuHkqA

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        Thank you for asking this question, and for this entire thread! I, too, feel overwhelmed by a lot of the K-pop MVs. I prefer lyrical and contemporary dance over street and commercial dance, so I suppose part of it is a matter of taste. I also love watching people play instruments and am a huge fan of Hoppipolla, so I will check out LUCY (and the other recommendations) thanks to this discussion.😊

        If you like dance too, I wanted to recommend some of my favourite MVs with different styles of dance in them (although these are not Korean):
        1. Imagine Dragons – Bad Liar: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I-QfPUz1es8
        2. Christine and the Queens – Tilted: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9RBzsjga73s
        3. Pink – Try: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yTCDVfMz15M
        4. K-OS – Man I Used to Be (it’s mostly breakdancing, but my favourite choreographer, Victor Quijada, is in this from about the 2 min mark for a short sequence, although his style of choreography is seen from about 1 min 45s): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ryAeRXArVHY
        5. Imagine Dragons – Thunder (this will not be to everyone’s taste, so click out if it puts you off!): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fKopy74weus
        I’m off to check out these other bands!😁

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          I agree on the thread!! This has turned out to be *such* an interesting conversation!!

          And I will check out the dance MVs! I tend to focus on the music usually, but good dancing is something that always stands out!

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    There are a number of kpop bands. They tend to be much more popular in Korea and Japan (even more so sometimes) than further abroad but some have gotten big in other international markets. Ones currently popular are Day6 and N. Flying. Onewe is gaining traction as well. Busker Busker was really big a few years ago but they have disbanded. CN Blue is still active and hopefully FT Island will be too once Hongki is discharged. Part of the difficulty of bands is that music shows don’t really like dealing with them. They don’t care to put in the effort of putting up the equipment and taking it down. Many bands have had to air play cause the music shows wouldn’t bother with plugging in everything and would just put on the backtrack. The lead singer would be the only live mic. This has changed a little over the years as bands have gained traction and have a little more say in their performances. But, you’ll still end up finding more bands in k-indie rather than k-pop.

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      Oh that’s quite a few more than I imagined. I must now go and check out all these folks.
      It’s such a shame that they don’t get to play their music live, because it’s not like the technology isn’t there or the equipment is that complicated (reminds me of The Liar and His Lover). Setting up elaborate dance stages would be equally complicated, IMO.

      As a follow up question, have the groups you mention emerged from the same “idol training” institutes like more mainstream k-pop bands, i.e., have they been artificially put together? Or do they tend to come together more organically?

      I’ve definitely spotted a few groups in k-indie, which is why I was curious to know if k-pop had similar sounds.

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        Mostly they are put together by the company, but you do have some k-indie bands already formed who then are signed on to a kpop company.
        Of course for either kind of band, training is a little bit different since dancing isn’t a factor but they would have the same kind of singing and PR training then separate instrument training. Sometimes someone would be scouted as a bass guitarist but then asked to learn electric guitar if that’s the hole needing to be filled. I believe that happened with Day6.
        I don’t listen to k-indie much with bands, but I’d say the sound differs and you have the same commentary as you do in America of bands “selling out” and changing their sound once they sign with a company.

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          Makes sense!

          It seems to me that distinctions between k-indie and k-pop in some kinds of sounds tend to be grey. Some of the bands that have been identified in this conversation, for instance, I would have intuitively classified as indie rather than pop, going purely by their sound.

          I imagine also that the idol training process and the artificial composition of bands (and the forced switching of instruments, as in the case of Day6 that you describe) *takes away* from nurturing genuine / natural musical talent. Perhaps this is something that the Korean music industry is losing out on, as a result. (I’m sure there are many more negatives to the way the industry and business has developed)

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            I’ve always taken indie more as not signed to a label than an actual sound. You’ll have a range of sounds in kpop and kindie bands.
            The music industries in most (I want to say all) countries are artificial and it’s just a matter of marketing on how well they hide the artificial. K-pop doesn’t bother to hide it at all, while America does such a good job at hiding it that people don’t realize how manufactured mainstream music is here. I would say it takes genuine talent whether you build yourself up from ground up and are doing your own thing or joining a company and going through the rigors of their program. It’s like comparing a dancer who only knows how to do beautiful freestyle versus a dancer who can only perfectly execute choreography taught them. Neither is a lesser talent but they have different focuses. I’ve always found it irrelevant that people harp on that and I actually appreciate how open kpop is about being manufactured, though they have their own tricks and secrets unknown to the general public.

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            My understanding of indie was the same too, i.e., non-affiliation to a label. But some conversations suggested that there was a certain quality to the sound that made it Indie and not pop. Maybe I just listen to the same kind of music among indie artists 😂

            I agree with what you say about music industries all over the world – they are all constructs and have their specialties and means to market (or hide) whatever it is they want to reveal (or not). You rightly pick on my incorrect use of “talent”, but I think I was getting at the point that the manufacturing process tends to highlight the one kind of skill over another. Consequently, those who do not have that desired skill do not get to participate in the manufacturing process. Etc. Etc.

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    Another group to check out is LUCY. They’re a newer group. I believe they debuted officially last year. This group was actually formed on a competition show for bands.

    They stand out, to me, as one of the members plays violin. My favorite song by them is ‘Flowering’.

    I’m a big fan of instrumental music, so I also love ‘INTRO’ from this same album (called DEAR.) from them.

    ‘Snooze’ is also pretty good.

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      Ooh this band reminds me of Hoppipolla, where one of the band members is a cellist, IIRC. Interesting that they are classified as Kpop. I’d have thought of them as k-indie.

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        I think they were actually in the same show… Not sure. Their music hasn’t drawn me in as much compared to LUCY, so I’m not too familiar with them.

        They may very well be considered K-indie. I know a K-pop reviewer I follow has reviewed their newest song (Snooze), so at least they’re getting a little more attention than I’m sure some other indie groups that I’m not familiar with.

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          I just checked – it seems Hoppipolla won, and LUCY came second.

          All of your comments on bands made me wonder why it’s all men, as well. When I checked out the description of the show (Superband), I was disappointed to read that their call for participants actually restricted it to men only!! (apparently following the logic that viewers are mostly female). :/

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            I’ve yet to actually listen to them, but Rolling Quartz is a newly debuted all-female band.

            After Wonder Girls came back together they formed a band, but that only lasted for a couple of releases before they disbanded.

            AOA started out with a hybrid dance and band concept, but once they hit it big with their more generic dance songs they sadly abandoned the band part (and their poor drummer).

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            I had never event thought about it. There’s so few that I know, that it just never even occurred tot me that there should be all-female groups.

            I actually remember seeing a cover Rolling Quartz did that of BTS’s Dynamite a while ago. Didn’t realize they were actually an official group.

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          Also I can’t believe that Isaac Hong (who I definitely rate as “indie”) participated in the contest and was not part of any winning team.😳 (was he a dummy contestant, maybe – just for the eyeballs)

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            I’m not familiar with him. Has he been in a group before that you know him from?

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            @nightmoon I don’t know if he’s been in a group before, but I’ve heard him as a solo artist. He’s done a few OSTs (I had to check – Strangers from Hell, Uncanny Counter), and he’s come on some of these reality shows (I can see your voice, and Superband, of course). he’s got an incredibly powerful and beautiful voice, and whatever I’ve heard of his, I’ve loved.

            His YT channel is here: https://www.youtube.com/c/IsaacHongOfficial

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            ooh Isaac Hong also did an unplugged (audience-less) I’m Live a few days ago! I gotta check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XY7PtfbAzw

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            Sorry to get back to you so late. Got super busy and forgot to check DB.

            He’s got a fantastic voice! Loved the Strangers from Hell song sung by him. It looks like his other music seems to veer more towards the ballad side, though. Would love to see him sing something more like this song.

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      The Rose is also there. I’m just praying their contract with their current agency ends and they are able to move on to a better one

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        I loved The Rose. Who knows what will happen. I would just hate for their talent to go to waste as they seemed to have a decent fanbase.

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          yesss. I love them and it honestly would be a tragedy if their talent is wasted

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      You probably know them from their song for Run On, Pickle 🙂

      https://youtu.be/NmW5g5diTMQ

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    I love Every Single Day. I think many will be familiar with them but I just want to give them a shout out. They did many drama ost’s like IHYV, Pinocchio, BTLIOF and Go back couple. They have a drummer, guitarist and the lead singer plays jazz.

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      Oh nice, I must listen to those OSTs again, then! I’m partial to a jazz sound, although my current favourite Korean jazz pianist is Jeong Donghwan (of Melomance). From what I see, they’re considered an indie band, and aren’t affiliated to a big label.

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Ten episodes in, overcoming a weak opening (IMO), Run On stays one of the strongest kdrama romcom scripts I have watched. Right up there with Into The Ring, or maybe, even better!

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    It’s so well-written, the attention to detail, breaking of gender norms, exploration of issues with some nuance. I want it to stay good until the end and not be disappointed.

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    The weakest part for me has been the middle episodes 7, 8, 9… I found them lagging narratively. Like can we GET A MOVE ON?
    But I still enjoyed them.

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      Oh I quite liked the slow burn of 7-9! 😀 I don’t think there’s much of a plot to this show anyway. It’s all in the dialogue and the delivery.

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    I think ITR is more tightly written. I really like Run On but I’m still unsure of what it’s about.

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      I’m with you.
      So far, I like more ITR.
      I also think the writing was better in ITR, and (at least me) knew what was the purpose of every character, while here, it’s like we’re getting little bits and we’re not pretty sure why some characters are there (not that I complain, though).

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      I would agree that ITR is more tightly written. It had a concrete plot. Run On is more of a slice of life exploring themes like communication and finding your place. If it stays on track, it will be my favorite slice of life while ITR is my favorite rom-com.

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        Interesting that you classify Run On as slice of life and not a romcom. I would not have thought of it that way. My take is far more superficial and simple: I thought the communication and “finding your place” bits were devices to get the OTP together. 😀

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        I agree with the slice of life characterization.

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      ITR has a plot. Which is completely missing here. I concede on that. Maybe I should have phrased myself better. This show’s strengths are in the dialogue, and their delivery. The lines are just – clever. Perhaps overly so for some. Also, as a non-korean speaker, I’m certainly missing out on a lot of nuance, but I can still vaguely make out the subtext and the jokes.

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Run On has been all kinds of delightful, but the #epicfashionfails of Im Shi Wan have been overwhelming. I wanted to record some of the best of the worst. The ep8 blue one deserves a better shot, IMO

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    Omg yes, the hoodie inside a blazer, err… uh..? Thought it’s cause he’s out of clean clothes, but guess not since you’ve presented more proofs ><

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      They’re all gifs. Sadly they don’t seem to be moving on my screen :/

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        Ooh, so they are! Absolutely love the last one, never get tired of him running to her…
        You can upload your gifs somewhere (imgur, giphy, etc) and then paste the link into DB for them to move ^^

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          I’ve tried posting gifs in the way you suggested before, but they meet the same fate. I think I should stick to static pictures only. Sigh.

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            😮 Not even if you pasted the image url? That’s so weird, maybe you can let db-staff know, it’s such a shame the gifs you made can’t be enjoyed properly…

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            I’ve tried all possible options 🙁 doesn’t work out. I am not a super gif poster anyway, so I’ll stick with what I get. 😀

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            Hwaitingg!

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    I LOVE him so the fashion has been hard to take lol. He’s so tiny, so I don’t know why they are dressing him in such baggy clothes. He looks swallowed by most of the very ugly outfits.

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      Likewise! I’m struggling to separate the individual from the wardrobe, and every time he appears in one of these outfits, I am unable to take anything he says seriously.

      I’m trying to understand why this selection of clothes, though. I’m hoping it’s all just a meta joke on chaebol wardrobes, and hopefully the stylist doesn’t genuinely believe ISW should be dressing like this.

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        I just chalk it up to his generally weird personality and leave it at that.

        IMO, he’s about as bad as the ML from Her Private Life, who also wore super hideous clothing (although he, too, was a complete sweetie).

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          Oh gosh yes KJW! I recall that wardrobe. I must admit though I’m more partial to ISW over KJW, any day!

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      Well, if the stylist dressed him up in cool clothes, we might have died from the visual intensity that we wouldn’t be able to continue watching. HAHAHA

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      I also noticed that he tends to roll his long-sleeved shirts, whyyy? Have been wondering whether he has to wear a bigger size to suit his wide shoulders, hehe…

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        Baggies, outrageous colour combinations (that neon yellow bag), the CUTS (e.g., that slit three/one piece item in blue-yellow-white in ep8)… they’ve got him wearing everything. I feel a little sorry for him, tbh.

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    I’m just like WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT TO HIM???
    I especially hate the weird flared pants they love to put him in, they look weird.
    Can they just put him in jeans or something?!

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      And the scarf thingy in gif 3 is just so unrealistic. By what logic would he–the character OR him–wear that? Not even to Paris Fashion Show I tell ya.

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        THAT SCARF!!! OMG – I saw they had him wearing a scarf in another ensemble as well (when they were at the movies, I think), but it was half hidden under his shirt, which was better. But WHY??? That’s all I kept asking too!!!

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    Can’t forget that outfit he wore on their first “date”, the one where he ran past Mi-joo. That looked like a mechanic’s uniform.

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    I already loved her, but… she’s learning Spanish!!
    Awwww.
    My heart flutters ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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      She speaks excellent English already, plus French! And she’s such a rockstar IRL. I’m SUCH a fan I can’t tell you.

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    My forever girl crush! What a badass!!!!!
    I love her AND Lee Joon AND Gong Yoo, so I’m beyond excited about them working all together!

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      Dunno if I’ll watch – the genre doesn’t seem my type, but YES! on the forever girl crush!!! I luurves her.

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Is anyone keeping track of the cinema references in Run On? So far we\’ve got: ET, Casablanca, Jerry Maguire, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Psycho, John Wick. Anything else?

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    I want to know this, too! As a cinematic philistine, I fear there are references I didn’t pick up but for DB. E.g., I didn’t pick up the 2001: Space Odyssey reference.

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      Yes! I saw the 2001 reference on DB too, having never watched the film. The rest were fairly obvious. I know Casablanca by heart, and I had watched that trailer, so I knew this was coming, but I didn’t anticipate how they’d weave it in. The rest were all fairly obvious. I am wondering if there were more subtle ones that I didn’t pick up on.

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    Didn’t pick up Space Odyssey either but i didn’t even notice it was a running theme till you pointed it out.

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      😀 knowing this makes it more fun to watch, eh? I’m not surprised this is a running theme, tbh, because of her profession and all.

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    Yes!! I love them all!!
    I love al this meta so much, and what I like the most is SeonGyeom being totally clueless about it and trying to hide the fact that he thinks the other are nuts 😂

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      I know! The ET callback was hilarious! He had absolutely no clue what was happening, and Yong-hwa was roasting him even more. I have a feeling there’s more stuff here which we aren’t picking up.

      Like, what is the video May unnie has on loop on the projector in her office? There’s one or two other posters in the house that I didn’t recognize as well.

      And I am not sure if I’m reading too much into this, but I feel that there’s a meta tribute to the Before movies as well. We’ve had both Before Sunset (the public steps) and Before Sunrise (the morning jog – though I dunno if that will count) moments. And their banter is very much like that of Hawke and Delpy as well – disjointed but continuous, mutual attraction evident and simmering underneath.

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        The movie on a loop seems a Méliès movie.
        When I arrive home today I plan to rewatch the episode and try to guess more!

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          Oh that’s a possibility! The only one of his that I am familiar with is A trip to the Moon. I didn’t see the classic “man in the moon” shot here, but you’re right, it could be another film of his.

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            I’ve just checked and it is A trip to the Moon. You can see the rocket on the Moon’s face when MiJoo and May are taking about bringing SG home.

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            @eazal Ooh another good reason to go rewatch!!

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I\’m really enjoying the deadpan delivery and the sarcasm-laden dialogue in Run On. It\’s very refreshing for a kdrama romcom! I hope it stays this way throughout and they don\’t kill this aspect of their personalities for the sake of the formula. Despite some of the show being a little disjointed, e.g., abrupt scene changes, I\’ve enjoyed eps 3 and 4, and will probably stay a while.

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    I’m very curious about how the writer will portray Seon-gyeom in a relationship. What kind of a boyfriend will he be? It’s an interesting question in light of his oddball personality.

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      I know! He’s so blunt and forthright and mostly clueless. She’s not much better herself. But she’ll probably lead the way. (I’m reminded of Into the Ring, in ref the dynamics between FL and ML, and where they stayed true to the personalities originally depicted till the end).

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        I liked the dynamic in Into the Ring, too, although I thought ItR lost steam (at least for me) in the last three or four episodes. I wasn’t really sure what the show was doing in the last little bit, even though it purported to have some kind of plot. I also didn’t love the whole daddy issues plotline in ItR, which I thought was a bit overwrought. It also took longer for me to get onboard with that show.

        I hope they manage to maintain their personalities and that the growth or changes in their personalities are organic and not contrived! It’ll be interesting to see if they can convincingly portray different sides of their personalities when they’re in a relationship.

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          Ha, I had a similar slow start with ItR too. The first couple of eps, I was like, wha-? I thought the FL was crazy, violent and obnoxious. But it all made sense in the larger scheme. And I kind of wrote it off as cartoonish, so I enjoyed it thoroughly by the end of it.

          I liked that the daddy issues weren’t tied up with a ribbon and bow, and that they left it open. I though the show stayed true to the characters throughout for small reasons like this.

          Fingers crossed for Run On!!

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          I kind of liked the daddy issues in the sense that Gong Myung chose not to forgive his father and keep moving on with his life. Usually in kdramas, everything is forgiven in the end but I liked that there wasn’t any forgiveness here

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        Their personalities won’t work if they were in a different drama. It’s interesting how this one makes it work. They both adjust to each other. I was thinking I won’t be able to hold a conversation with Seon-gyeom but Mi-joo is patient and even explains to him now.

        I love that scene when she was talking to Dan-ah and she said it’s not Seon-gyeom’s fault that he’s that way.

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    It’s a pity that Viki isn’t subbing it instead. Netflix is eating up some good dialogue in place of comfortable translation. Otherwise a beanie (soor forgot who you were) pointed out last week that the banter is very similar to Be Melo and I totally agree. It is as witty and that alongside ISW and SY are the reason I’m still staying. The plot is thin and the chaebol family can get stereotypically messy so I can see where it can go but I hope to be surprised.

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      Sorry* lol

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      I agree!! A lot feels like it’s lost in translation, as with most Netflix translated shows 🙁
      Viki does those notes so well, for both Korean and Chinese shows. Sigh.

      I’m not sure it is in the Be Melo league – yet. I LOVED that show from the get go, and I thought that was much much cleverer in dialogue. The meta, especially, was well done and there were a lot more LOL moments from the start itself. But as you say, the difference probably lies in the translation.

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The Long Night
A slow-burn crime cdrama, part of the Light On series. Cinematic production, a very fine central cast, and a story that tugs at your heartstrings. It was terrific in many ways. The story was crackable, in that you could figure out who did what, and – vaguely – how, and even why, in fact. But the build up to the “why” was at the core of the story, and that was held together by the topnotch performances by everyone. 

It was very different in flavour from The Bad Kids, the other fine show in the series that I would recommend, so I don’t think a comparison is really fair. TBK was more violent, had more energy (well, the cast was much younger!), and was much more morally grey. I also found it much more disturbing overall. In contrast, TLN was more dark with not much gore (although it had one or two graphic scenes that I’m surprised passed the censor), and more about the emotional journey of a few good men who are fighting for the truth, rather than the crime itself. 

One of the most perfectly crafted scenes was when Bai Yu’s character breaks down after he realises he has lost his wallet. If you’ve watched the rest of the show, you have been a part of the build up to this point, and it’s impossible not to feel the same weight of the emotions that him and his comrades in that scene feel at that point. It’s a scene that I will remember for a long time.

The show was not without its flaws, though. There was unsubtle propaganda and on occasion, it was overly melodramatic, which the genre doesn’t ordinarily warrant. And as usual, the women were all shortchanged. It started out well for some of the female characters, but it became about the men quickly enough.  But the pros far outweighed the cons in this one. 

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A terrific, incisive, scathing commentary on life in surveillance in China, a must-read for all those of us who have normalised the idea of state-sponsored surveillance through dramas (and in real life, including in my part of the world). This article bears particular relevance because it is written by a (now outcast) constitutional scholar in the country, a former law professor at Tsinghua University. I also highly recommend his other essays, available in translation, linked in the brief bio at the top of this article: http://chinaheritage.net/journal/cyclopes-on-my-doorstep-by-xu-zhangrun/

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    A haunting essay. Thanks for sharing!

    I think China is interesting for a lot of reasons. Even just 15 years ago, it was commonplace for people to talk about how economic growth and prosperity would inevitably — as if by some natural law akin to gravity — lead to democratization and liberalization in China. These days, it increasingly looks like China is disturbing some assumptions that have become widespread and almost reflexive among people in my part of the world. What if economic development is not systematically related with the promotion of civil liberties and other human rights? What if a repressive government could better promote the prosperity of a nation? What would people choose then? I think that’s the question China poses in this century. (It’s worth noting that, although people in China navigate panopticon-like surveillance, must be assiduously avoid political controversy, etc., I think the average person living in a place like Beijin or Shenzhen is probably pretty happy with his or her life.)

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      Fantastic insights as ever, Maq! I agree with everything you said. And this is precisely the Great China Experiment, right? Everyone else who tried to set up non-democratic systems has failed. It’s almost as though the Chinese want to defiantly prove that it is not impossible to succeed with this. I sense an egotistic streak (or a streak of pride, if you prefer) there too.

      I also agree that the average person in China is probably happy and satisfied, and the dissent is coming from very few corners, and obviously not loud or powerful enough. What will truly be interesting though, is what happens after the Xi era ends (especially since serious contenders like Bo Xilai etc – well entrenched within the system – have been silenced a while ago). Does the CCP have its alternatives in place? Or is there a Plan B for a leaderless China? (The same question holds for Putin’s Russia too, btw – being an equally intriguing political experiment).

      Personally, I think systemic stability is still not truly guaranteed, precisely because it is so heavily dependent on the individual who is at the top. (If the CCP appeared to have a system of ensuring that the leadership chain remains healthy and unbroken, I would have made a different argument.) So even though there’s a (temporary) semblance of peace and permanence, collapse remains both possible and probable.

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        Thanks for this link @pickledragon. What a powerful essay written so eloquently. But it was the photo of the cameras at the bottom of the page that really threw me. wow.

        “I also agree that the average person in China is probably happy and satisfied, and the dissent is coming from very few corners, and obviously not loud or powerful enough”
        unless you happen to be a Uighur…
        https://www.vox.com/2020/7/28/21333345/uighurs-china-internment-camps-forced-labor-xinjiang

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          Of course, the outposts are a different story – the Uighurs, the Tibetans (the latter hitting much closer home for us), Hong Kong, Taiwan… Mainland Chinese appear ensconced in their happy bubble.

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        I wonder about this, too. There are some people who think the CCP is deeply divided and/or unstable (Yascha Mounk recently had somebody on his podcast who has been a commentator on China for a very long time and who thinks China’s amazing economic and social achievements in conceal a rotting set of political institutions). Surely you’re right that Chinese system’s dependence on powerful leaders creates institutional risks. I know of at least two. The first is what Francis Fukuyama calls “the bad emperor problem”. In a system with fairly sweeping and centralized power in a single figure or institution and in which there is very little in the way of formal checks and balances, there is tremendous upside because there is little institutional restraint hindering beneficial government action (my favourite example of this is high-speed rail: California started the process of building HSR in 1996 and the first phase of construction is expected in 2033, whereas China started building in 2007 and already has an extensive HSR network which is – according to Wikipedia – the most extensive in the world), but the downside is also huge because bad leadership can do what it wants to do without there being a bulwark to protect against abuse. The second problem is compounded by the first and is the one you astutely note, namely the difficulties inherent in securing a peaceful and stable transition between leaders. On the one hand, the need to have a clear line of succession and a crop of good forthcoming leaders is essential precisely because of the so-called “bad emperor problem”. On the other hand, existence of competent leaders who have the necessary legitimacy to smoothly come into power when its their “turn” are a threat to any incumbent leader. It’s not surprising that, historically, similar systems of government suffered immensely when there were transitions. (Muslim Mongol rulers, who had fairly absolutist systems of government, used to routinely have civil wars after one khan would die in order to determine who would succeed the now dead khan; it severely weakened those khanates and often resulted in those Mongol khanates splintering. Similarly, the Ottoman sultans came up with the rather horrific institution known as the “Kafes” or, in English, “the Cage”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kafes.)

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          That was very interesting. I didn’t know of the term Kafes, but the history of the Mughal empire is similar, I think. And I would imagine most imperial successions in many parts of the world (certainly in South Asia) were determined this way. That said, merely because leadership transitions have been violent historically does not justify instability in contemporary times. It surprises me as to how and why the rest of the politburo is fine with the present arrangement and whatever impending chaos is to inevitably follow.

          As a follow up to the original link, I read this – slightly older but still relevant – excellent essay by the same commentator, which I thought was a great lesson in modern Chinese politics (as the non-communist world understands it, but from a Chinese perspective) with appropriate historical context. You might appreciate it as well: http://chinaheritage.net/journal/imminent-fears-immediate-hopes-a-beijing-jeremiad/

          I’ve never formally studied political science or history (the latter as a minor at university only and I was always very poor at it), so my own analyses are usually very elementary and unsophisticated. So your inserts on all this are really fascinating and more importantly, thought-provoking. Thank you! 😊 🙏

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            Thanks for the link! I’ll have a look at this essay on the weekend (drowning in legal files T_T).

            I haven’t studied political science or history formally either, although as teenager I was dead-set on becoming a historian or a high school history teacher. I still have an interest in a lot of this stuff, although I find a lot of history is written as a parade of events without any attempt to explain anything. In fact, in university, I took a course in history once where I got the distinct impression from other history majors and from the professor that the modern study of history is resolutely opposed to abstract in favour of concrete particulars and eschews explanation in favour of hand-wavey claims about contingency, accident, etc. (Not that contingency or accident have no role in the study of human affairs. But it’s a bit of a cop-out when your account of a complex event like a war basically amounts to an account of what happened without any attempt to say why it happened, accepting as always that the study of history, politics, etc. is an inexact science and unlikely to produce the kind of certain, bulletproof explanations you get from harder science.)

            True re Mughals! I use the historical examples merely as an example of the underlying mechanism which I believe creates the risk of instability and how that risk has manifested in the past. There’s no guarantee that a transition will be unstable or violent, although the risk is certainly there and may materialize (though one hopes it doesn’t).

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As someone who is a big votary of including pop culture in the study of more conventional disciplines, this paper is right up my alley. It might also interest those who are studying, or teaching, or know people who study or teach, economics: \”Diversifying the Use of Pop Culture in the Classroom: Using K-pop to Teach Principles of Economics\” available here: https://privpapers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3732471

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For those of you who haven\’t signed up for this, please watch  Hikaru no Go (the live action cdrama adaptation of the manga / anime). A coming-of-age story about a young boy who is possessed by the spirit of an ancient Go master, and emerges a prodigy at the end of it, while learning about life, loss, belonging, friendship. It\’s a show with so much heart, with an ensemble cast that is deserving of many accolades. 

(this is my nth plug for this show, so for those who\’ve been subject to my raving already, my apologies in advance!! i just want more people to love this show)

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    The anime, right? It’s very good!

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    I’ve seen AvenueX videos about it, will watch it next year ^^ (I haven’t watched the anime so it’ll be a new story to me)

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      Do please! It’s on iQiyi in my parts. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!

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    I used to read the manga faithfully but the comic book rent shop closed down and I lost thread ._.
    Will check this out!

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      Aw shame! Hopefully this will wrap things up for you! I am tempted to read the manga myself now that I have watched the show.

      Be warned though that the reviews suggest that the middle parts of the drama may be a little extra, although overall, I understand, it remains faithful to the original story.

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Startup was a decent drama overall. It goes into my list of gateway dramas I would recommend to noobs.

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    Hmmm, I had a hard time with it. It had the same kinds of problems that I had with Pinocchio — super under-developed and flat female lead + a male lead I disliked (despite the heroic efforts of NJH). IDK if it’s just me though.

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      The women in the drama were all shortchanged. I agree. But it was a pleasant drama, I thought. No major noble idiocy. There was some kind of a story. It was a light watch. Nothing to rack your brains about. Hence, that it’s a good gateway drama – to understand what kdramas are about. It is NOT on my top 10 ever list or any such thing. 😀

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        I think it was a reasonably fun drama if you could put aside things that annoyed you about some of the characters. I think I just couldn’t get over how flat Dal-mi was, how cartoonish In-jae was portrayed throughout most of the drama, how under-motivated the romance was, and (perhaps most importantly LOL) how I couldn’t help but feel that Ji-pyeong should’ve been the main male lead in this drama (although, by the end, his weird tug-of-war with Do-san over Dal-mi was getting on my nerves, perhaps because I couldn’t understand why both of them were so attached to Dal-mi). I think the humour was pretty good at various points, I liked Chul-san and Sa-ha, and I think the acting was overall really top quality (Suzy excepted), but it just lost a lot its initial sparkle with me by the fifth week.

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          That third episode is now in my books as the best comic episode in kdramas to beat. I kept waiting for the show to repeat that magic, and you’re right, it never did. I’m picking at this show far less than I picked, say, at 18 Again. (And I don’t know why!!)

          I must add that I didn’t get tired of the drama the way I got tired of, say, Brahms, or Oh My Baby, or IOTNBO. None of these are comparable genre-wise, but I found that the initial magic of all those dramas wore off very very quickly.

          To clarify, Startup is not a show I’d rewatch (except for ep 3) 😀

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            I loved episode 3 as well!

            Interestingly, I found 18 Again a very light and easy watch, whereas I found this one frustrating in the second half. Not sure why. I think it’s because 18 Again was a light watch in my mind from the outset and didn’t create unrealistic expectations for me. Start-up, on the other hand, had a very solid first two weeks, and, although in retrospect many of the problems with the show were already apparent then, I think I expected the show would simply improve as it went along. But it didn’t. Sigh.

            I haven’t watched Oh My Baby, so I can’t comment on that one. But I’ve noticed that there were several dramas this year which had strong beginnings but which petered out in the second half. Brahms definitely goes into that pile, as does IOTNBO (albeit to a lesser extent; Brahms managed to pull off something really special in the way it completely soured all the initial enjoyment I got from the main couple). Flower of Evil goes in this camp as well; so does Dinner Mates (although I will say that Dinner Mates still remained reasonably enjoyable for me throughout its run and I enjoyed Lee Ji-hoon’s performance immensely in the second half).

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            I’m yet to watch the last 4 eps of 18 Again, but I would classify that as a candidate for a good gateway drama too (for those willing to suspend disbelief about the age-change etc).

            I watched the first episode of Flower of Evil somewhere half way through its run, and decided I would wait for the final verdict from y’all here on DB before attempting to finish it. I’m glad I didn’t.

            I had forgotten about Dinner Mates! That one derailed for me very quickly. I wanted to wipe it out of my memory and clearly I have. I don’t even remember which episode I watched it until, but it wasn’t much. 😀

            There’s a cdrama I would add to this list too – Go Ahead – it started off so well! and then just went *phut*. What the scriptwriters were smoking I don’t know. It could have been a perfectly decent found family drama, but they made it a strange quasi-incest story, with badly botched attempt to salvage it halfway. Ugh. It was a waste of a very talented ensemble cast (barring Song Weilong).

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Just putting this out there: Could Young-san be the \”revenge\” guy in Start-up?

And totally random, but the opening credits for the show remind me of Piet Mondrian. Does anyone else feel the same?

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    Mondrian, Klee, something, I think it is a parallel to Bauhaus maybe? an art factory similar to what Sandbox is to startups. Bauhaus was the original “incubator” except it invented new art concepts, color theory, composition, and how visible art should be in a home.
    ok someone stop me, professional cretinism, artisan quirk…

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    Colours are not Mondrian.
    Mondrian inspiration were the rice panels in Japanese houses.
    This is more seventies to me.

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      I was thinking about the lines, and how the screen was split.
      I didn’t know Mondrian’s inspiration! That is interesting. I will explore more! These are the same rice paper panels we see in kdrama homes, right?

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Good comedians are hard to come by and so very precious indeed. Which is why I was delighted to see Yoo Subin being given a big plug by the leads of Startup. He was the shining star among the ducklings in Crash Landing on You, and he seems to be on track to besting that in his role here! More power to YSB!

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A three-quarter review of 18 Again

Finally all caught up with the 12 available eps 18 Again. It took a 3-day sick leave break and some binge-watching-while-trying-not-to-fall-asleep-during-the-day to do this. And um, I have mixed views.

To begin with, I did not like the premise of the movie on which it is based, so I came in slightly biased (I never watched the movie, and don’t intend to). There is a lot – a LOT – of suspension of disbelief required in this show, starting with the central plot device of the “elixir of life” -induced transformation.

But let’s say I swallowed that pill and walked on, out of curiosity to discover what everyone was raving on about. I get some of it. The family dynamics are the main draw, with the epigrammatic truths that the characters periodically deliver. And yes, they’re nice.

But, the messaging felt a little trite, and the overall feel was a little… disney-ish (?). The underlying theme about what makes a happy family or reinforcing the institution of marriage or defining what it means to be a good parent… I found it a little more moralistic than I would have liked, sometimes re-emphasizing discomforting stereotypes (supermoms, for example) and too nicely gift-wrapped and tied-up-in-a-bow to be easily acceptable.  

But then I think, maybe I’m being too cynical. Maybe the messaging is all deliberate. Maybe the writer/s recognised that this is a fairy tale, and as fairy tales tend to be, it’s a dark story about broken families and abandoned dreams, and the only way to mask the darkness was through this bokeh veneer.

There’s also a lot of genre whiplash I got while watching – one minute it’s a melo, the next a teen / idol romance, then an office drama, then a crazy comedy (with some otaku thrown in for flavour). I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. On the contrary, I’d say it takes great skill to marry all these genres together, but it’s definitely unsettling because I could never tell what was going to me next.

Now, even with all this, I cannot finish this note without saying that the characters are all darlings. You can’t hate anyone in this story, can you? I know Ye Ji-hoon is going to be broken hearted, and I want all four of the JBC rookies to get placed permanently, and I want the anime couple to figure their avatars out and join forces, and I want Si-woo to become a rockstar ball player, and I want Si-ah to be the fierce independent woman she’s meant to be… I’m rooting for everyone. That’s great character-writing, and excellent execution by the cast and crew all around. I cannot complain.
The cast. Oh the cast, especially, has been delightful. I don’t think there’s a single misstep in the  casting. It’s a perfect ensemble any way you look at it. From the mature Lee Dohyun to the gorgeous Kim Haneul to my favourite Kim Mikyung to the JBL alumni reunion of Kimm Kyanghun and Lee Kiwoo, and the younger lot as well..  

So basically, I’m confused. I’d say I kind of like the show, but kind of also don’t like it? Like the show itself, I leave it to you to figure out if you know what I mean. I’m not sure I do!

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    Love your thoughtful analysis! It’s funny how I actually don’t disagree with anything you said here, and yet I have absolute, utter adoration for this show. A few thoughts:
    – Dajung is portrayed as 100% awesomeness (with some very minor flaws), but I don’t know if I’d call her supermom, or the idea here is the woman should be able to do everything. If anything, for the most part of her life, she was only able to do one thing – taking care of her family. It took her a while, in her 30s, to go to college, then started in terrible jobs, before she got where she is today. And her mom is living with her now to help take care of the kids (who are also grown up), so I didn’t see it as her being able to do both work and family all at once.
    – This is definitely a feel-good drama, and I love it for that! Like you said, most characters here are so wholesome, with some realistic flaws, but no one is straight up evil (even the few “bad” characters like the sexist boss, Il-kwon, Yoomi; you’re very kind to Yoomi, btw lol I for one don’t think she deserves a slot as a permanent employee).
    – I winced a bit at the comparison to Disney lol but, yes the morals of this story are quite straightforward. If we were to compare, I’d prefer to compare it to Pixar: simple, heartwarming story with a “teaching” message to tell, through well-done storying telling. I did love how realistic all the challenges this family faced are, and the show was so good at making me care about these characters, that I only want good things to happen to them. In real-real life, Dajung might never have gotten her break. Dajung and Daeyoung might have hurt each other too much to even consider reconciling. But by starting the show with a fantastical premise (“going back to your youthful body”). I do believe the show set itself up as a fairy tale, like you said. I don’t believe in dramas where characters are tortured needlessly and struggle without any payoff (what would I be watching for, if I root for them?) so in this case, I’m happy that the characters are getting the (very belated) chances they deserve. It probably says more about how and why I watch dramas, than the drama quality itself though 😉
    Hope you’ll keep watching and sharing your thoughts with us!

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      Thank you for your awesomely detailed response! Pixar or Disney – so long as you get the point 😀 (haven’t watched enough Pixar to know what their oeuvre is like). Fairy tales and Disney were on my mind because I’ve had Salem Ilese’s song running on loop in my head since I heard it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjiAFcaqV70)

      I think Yoomi needs the right mentoring and with a bit of help, can do well. I always feel for folks setting out in new jobs, clueless about what to do, learning life lessons along the way. I think it comes from that perspective. And as for Il-kwon, I think Lee Kiwoo has always been shortchanged in the characters he plays (the ones I’ve seen at least), so I think I feel bad for him as an actor more than for him as the character. Hehe.

      And yes, totally agree that Dajung is not supermom, but I feel like the show is selling the idea of being supermom to us. As though women should be able to do everything – have the awesome job, keep the family together, manage the parents and the in-laws. It’s shown as aspirational and desirable, and I have problems with that. :/ I deeply respect women in real life who do that (including in my own family), but I am uncomfortable with encouraging this idea. It’s the same feeling I have about a lot of the (especially family-oriented) messaging and stereotypes that the show puts out and perpetuates: marriage is good; divorce is bad; look after your parents and in-laws; boys play ball; women look pretty and become TV announcers…

      I’m probably being selective in calling this out here, because it is true of probably every other kdrama out there. :p So it isn’t really fair. But maybe I’m in the mood. Sorry for subjecting you to this!

      I will keep watching, I think!, and will join in occasional conversations like this 😀 thank you 🙂 it’s nice to be talking about these things!

      I like your reason for drama watching – I agree completely that the best dramas are those that have characters you can root for!! I think in another mind space, I might have adored this drama as much as the rest of you, but maybe I’ve been wired differently for now… My cynicism hasn’t been fixed yet :p I’m trying to work on that!

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        Oh! I think you’d like Nothing but Thirty then! There are a couple of divorces in there, with very different trajectories, to show the different kinds of lives and choices different women make. Again, wait till ep 15 or so before making judgment lol it all gonna go somewhere I promise!

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    Thanks for the great post. I feel a little less cynical disliking this drama. I kept thinking it’s me being too picky or just not the target for this kind of show but you nicely explained some of my reasons. I’ve only watched until ep 8 btw so maybe it will pick up later. I can’t say I dislike these characters but I don’t exactly like them either because I find all of them quite superficial and one note.

    So many things seem either unlikely or very hard to believe. This makes some moments others consider heartwarming, a bit ridiculous, I blame my cold heart kkk
    When DY had that insight about the husband drinking because he worked stupid long jobs it was so silly, she isn’t that dumb that she would not have understood that in 18 years.
    The fact he became distant from the kids felt completely contrived. It’s been 8 eps and we still know almost nothing about the kids. I don’t believe for a second that his whole family would have kept a relationship with his dad but that guy would still manage to stay away from his father. Again, this doesn’t match DY or HDY personality.
    I’m also disliking the fact that he made a big deal about letting the wife go her own away after the divorce but every ep there are romantic scenes with them. Divorce can be good! They are that classic example of a couple that grew apart, nothing wrong with that. Lastly I’ve been waiting for HDY to enjoy being a boy again but it’s all about fixing his family and doing what he didn’t do when he was the dad, it’s completely unrealistic, as if he would be selfish to do anything only for himself and drama must sell him as being a nice person.

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      Haha, I’m as cold hearted as well, I think! Thanks for calling out the things that seemed a little unrealistic. This is among several such through the show.

      I also feel like there’s a drastic personality shift in Hong Dae Young as a kid and now – he didn’t seem to be the shouty kind as his (real) 18-year-old self, but he’s become this sort of person over the years. It’s possible, but I also find it anomalous and the transformation isn’t totally easy to swallow.

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    😢😢😢

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      Aw Maq, no worries! Thank you for recommending it to me though! I’m still glad I watched it, it’s given me perspective on stuff I’m beginning to like and not like about kdramas. Also, I’m sticking with this through till the end, now that I’ve made it to 12/16!! I might yet become a full convert 🙂

      (Also, we will still rave together about all the other dramas we’re on the same page on, hehe!)

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        Still a bit sad that I don’t get to rave over this one too =( But I get and I don’t think you’re wrong about anything you’ve said. For example, there is a Disney-ish element to this show in some ways, although I find it works for me in this and it doesn’t detract from the experience for me. Similarly, if you stare at the show, you find lots of things that are not very believable . Why did Deok-jin accept young Dae-young so easily? Why isn’t Ae-rin spooked out of her mind? Why aren’t all the people who knew Dae-young when he was younger (especially Da-jung) alarmed by the appearance of a doppelganger? Why aren’t Si-woo or Si-a alarmed by Dae-young, who seems to have forced his way into their lives as Woo-young? Etc etc. Nevertheless, this show is really working for me and it’s what I look forward to most each week.

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          I don’t get to rave over this one with you too****

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          Yes to all this!! Exactly the issues I was having 😀 I think I am nitpicking too much for this drama, because otherwise I’d have swept all my issues under the carpet and gone with the flow. Ah well. I still have to catch up with this week’s episodes! But life has been a little chaotic. Maybe I’ll finish all of them up together next week.

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Recording my thoughts on Record of Youth
I stayed the course for this show to my shock and surprise. More because of convenience than anything else (instant subs – thank you Netflix; and scheduling – light watch at dinnertime on otherwise dull Mondays and Tuesdays).

I don’t think it was a great drama at all, or even a good drama at that. But at its heart, the story had something going for it. On paper it must have seemed like a great coming-of-age drama, and that explains why it attracted so many top billing actors. But the dialogue was mostly pretentious, and the execution was totally off.

Oh, and Park Bo Gum is beautiful, yes, even when he cries. I get that now. 😀 But this is not a project he’ll want to boast about in his résumé. Also, this does not change my opinion about his acting. About Park So Dam – she seems the same as she was in that awful Cinderella drama. Maybe she should stick to the movies. I was hoping Byeon Woo Seok would be more than just a pretty face, but. it might be unfair to judge him on the basis of two very average dramas (this and Flower Crew). The only actor who stood out for me was Shin Dong-mi CEO of Jjampoong, Min-jae unnie/noona. She has great comic timing, and it will be good to see more of her.

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    +1 gazillion

    I’m not a huge fan of anybody in this cast, but it still surprised me that somebody with PBG’s star power would choose this drama. IDK. This year, all the dramas I anticipated disappointed me and all of the dramas that impressed me were dramas I had no expectations for/no clue about beforehand. That holds true for this one as well. I had expectations and was disappointed.

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      TBH, I waited for this drama only to see what the director was unto! (because he did this project instead of Stranger 2). Maybe he’s regretting it too 😀

      Not a fan of any of the cast either. I thought the seniors were especially badly cast – all the families were so wooden. The story had a lot of a family drama vibe going for it, but I felt the casting did not do the storytelling justice.

      I agree with the ‘no expectations’ dramas – Into the Ring (totally from left field), and now Startup (again, not a fan of any of the cast. Fingers tightly crossed for this one!! It’s been so good so far)

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    I’ve been wondering if the translations are accurate since this writer is known for her dialogue. Perhaps the Netflix translation isn’t capturing the nuance.

    I liked the shorter drama First Time/Because It’s The First Time much better as a coming of age story and it also has a better character for Park So Dam. The one thing I’ve liked in RoY is the friendship between the three young men.

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      Ooh. I haven’t watched First Time. I will check it out.
      I must admit I liked the real life touch this drama gave with PBG enlisting at the same time as his character. That was nicely done. The friendship was also nice, I agree. 🙂 But I do feel kdramas have done friendships/bromances and family relationships better than this.

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      Netflix subs are terrible. I know maybe 20 Korean words from my one year of watching kdramas, and even I can tell the translations are off. The only reason I like them are the “instant gratification” purpose they serve. Which means I don’t get ruined by spoilers (not that I mind much, tbh). Otherwise, I’d pick Viki over Netflix anyday. I don’t have access to Kocowa so I don’t know how that holds up against these two, but I hear it’s generally not great.

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    Yup it’s fascinating how So Dam does so well in movies and not so for her dramas. A bit like Kim Go Eun i think..

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Seeking recommendations, to prevent myself from getting into a slump I don\’t want to be in:
1. Rom-com / Fluff: Into the Ring is the current gold standard. Is it too much to ask for one where both leads are smart/intelligent?
2. Dramas that have a story to tell, and tell it well. Like – a Drama, y\’know. Like a good unputdownable novel. They need not be rom-coms. E.g., My Mister, Misaeng, or, of course, FoS1/2.Language no bar. K/C/TW dramas are all considered! Thank you muchlots in advance.

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    Have you checked out Someday or One Day? it’s a Taiwanese drama.

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    Your standards are high and unfortunately there aren’t many great shows 😅
    Still if language is not an issue then I can recommend you dramas I liked a little less than the ones you have written but are still good:
    Jdrama: If talking paid (slice of life/family)
    Cdrama: Twenty your Life on (coming of age/slice of life)
    (cdramas I didn’t watch but maybe upto your liking “The Bad Kids” and “Nothing but Thirty”.
    Tdrama: Someday or One day (telling the genre might just spoil it for you)

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      Thanks wapz! I agree about the standards – I think they’re universally approved, no? (at least on DB :D). Ordinarily I’d have been happy with something less good, but I worry that I’ll totally slump if I don’t get to watch something really compelling.

      I loved Bad Kids!!! Actually, The Long Night is on my list – I’d forgotten about it. Will pull it up.

      This reminds me – another cdrama I want to watch is Crossfire, but the last time I checked on YT, the official subs were not up. *sigh* I might have to watch elsewhere…

      I tried Twenty your life on, based on one of your posts only, I think! But it didn’t quite click :/ I’m yet to watch Nothing but Thirty, but if it’s anything like The First Half of My Life, I don’t think I want to watch (I hate-watched that show, and couldn’t finish it).

      I’ve watched Someday and thought it was excellent (despite the genre :p)!

      Haven’t yet watched a jdrama I loved – there’s something stylistically different about jdramas that I haven’t quite wrapped my head around. I will give this a try!

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        Haha yeah these shows are so good and so rare to come by.
        J dramas are stylistically quirky and episodic which is why it’s harder for me to make them regular. Otherwise I think they do the best slice of life in this region. If talking paid is similar too but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
        Can you tell me why you didn’t like TYLO? Because it feels like I’m the anomaly 😅 I know people liked it and I particularly did because I saw myself in the girls, it was very real for me and first and foremost about the girls then any other man so it appealed to me. But it doesn’t seem like many beanies liked it and I’m suspecting my tastes are indeed changing hah.
        I also heard that “A Murderous affair in Horizon tower” was good so you can give it a try. The kdrama based on the jdrama, Dangerous wife seems to be getting good reviews too. I’ll check it today (I didn’t like the original but I’m hearing the k version is different).
        But basically a good show will inevitably get you in a slump once it ends if nothing is equally good around. I’d say relax to watch some k variety shows instead. It’s a whole new world and more entertaining.

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          Also have you seen “This week my wife will have an affair”?

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            Y’know this has been on my list forever! Viki has it, and I have been told it’s a very different LSK from what we’re used to seeing, so I should get to it. 😀

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          I forgot about this thread :/ My bad. Sorry for the late reply!

          I can’t remember now why I didn’t like TYLO. Maybe I couldn’t connect with any of the characters? I agree that the really good thing about the show was that it was about the girls and not about the boys. Considering that drama viewers are probably 99% female, it is a good sign that they’re making shows that talk about women alone, and their lives, without focusing on the men. I guess other than this factor, the show didn’t stand out from any of the similar dramas about a group of female friends?

          Before Murderous Affair, I plan to watch The Long Night. I’m bracing myself for heartbreak, though, of which there is plenty in that, I am told.

          And y’know, I actually haven’t seriously watched a k-variety show. If you had to recommend one which is subbed and easily available in English, what would you suggest? I’ve watched bits of Running Man, and clips of 2N1D, and find both of them, um, ok. Variety is not really my thing, but I’m open to discovering something new. I like travel shows a lot, and was wondering if one of the k-variety / travel shows are good?

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            No worries. I usually forget to reply back too.

            Variety looks very weird in the beginning but it grows strongly on you eventually. I remember watching one epusode of Running Man and thinking why on earth does everyone praise it but actually it was just stylistically very different from sth I’ve ever seen and it took me a few episodes to understand everyone’s character and love their intercations. So while I would always recommend Running Man, it will be better to start from a show that is easier to understand. And for that, you can check out the recently ended Sixth sense. It’s only 8 episodes long but it so fun because the girls are a riot. Though for travel variety there are always the Na PD shows (one other thing in variety is that producers have a very big affect on the sytlistic sense of their shows that one can easily tell what show belongs to which PD), i. e. The over flowers shows (grandpa over flowers, youth over flowers, noona over flowers), new journey to the west and three meals a day. The best way to start variety is to watch an episode where one of the celebs you want to watch comes in as a guest or regular cast member. For instance I’ll definitely recommend Youth over Flowers Laos for the reply 1994 cast (Yoo Yeon Seok, Baro and Sohn ho jun) but among my favorites in Yof’s was YOF Iceland with (Jo jung Suk, Kang Han Neul, Jung Woo). Likewise if you want to see a specific celebrity being a guest, you can pick that Running Man or Knowing bros episode. I’m not a regular watcher too, I just pick any epusode if I hear it’s really good but it’s a good breather and great for relaxing.

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            @wapz – this list of recommendations and your strategy for watching/picking episodes is fantastic. I hadn’t thought of it that way – i.e., watch episodes for a celebrity (maybe because I don’t really fangirl on anyone majorly… sigh.. I wish I did). This makes so much sense. The “Over Flowers” series are what I have heard the most about too. I will also look for the others you have mentioned. Thank you so very much!

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        I have not watched The first half of my life, but having read reviews of it, I’m rather confident that Nothing but Thirty is nothing like it 🙂 It’s a slow burn though – I kept watching somewhat indifferently until episode 15 or so (I guess the fact I didn’t drop it was already a pretty good sign!), and then suddenly realized I cared so much about all the characters, and all the previous slowly built plot points converged and the show kinda picked up from there. So hang tight!
        If you haven’t seen it already, Story of Minglan is my absolute favorite cdrama (also give it 15 episodes please lol) Both leads are intelligent, and white it’s not a Drama the way My mister is, it’s not a romcom either. Really fun and moving story about family 🙂

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          Ah I think Story of Minglan is a costume drama, right? I have minor costume drama allergy – Joy of Life is something I’m slowly watching, as an exception to that. Maybe I’ll get to Minglan after!! (I still haven’t watched Untamed, for ex.)

          That’s an attractive description for Nothing But Thirty! I might pick that up soon. Thank you for the recommendation!

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            Ah yes but it’s not costume drama in the same way that JoL is, meaning, it feels more like a historical drama that focuses entirely on a family rather than a dynasty. JoL is more…fantastical I’d say. The period setup is to provide the central conflict: being a woman in a society that doesn’t give you much freedom.
            A warning about Nothing but Thirty since I know you don’t care for didactic moralistic stories 😂 I do think at times it’s a bit like that, but the character development still feel very true to life, and life here being Chinese society with a lot of imposed community driven rules. I’d say it’s a story about 3 women who try to live within and/or break out of those boundaries, sometimes they fail and sometimes they succeed.

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    I’m really enjoying 18 Again rn. It’s really nice so far

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      Thanks! I’ve been seeing posts by you and some others about this show 🙂 I’ll explore further.

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    How about French series? I would definitely recommend The Bureau (Le Bureau des Legendes) a French spy thriller about daily life and mission of the intelligence officers. Unlike American spy movie, it’s complex, intelligent, realistic, empathetic and so intense without action scenes. It shows the intricacies of politics and networks around the world with superb acting, detailed writing and complex characters. It’s considered the best French Tv, on par with The Wire.

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      Ooh Le Bureau sounds awesome – any Wire comparison gets me interested! But I can’t find it on any of the usual networks. Will look for it some more.

      I love French TV, haven’t watched enough though! They do comedy so well!! And Marseilles was pretty decent for a political thriller as well.

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        Try SBS On Demand they have all seasons and is free but it’s only available in Australia. Do you use VPN ;).
        Will check out Marseille. I like French comedy, its charm, sarcasm and not to your face type.?Have you watched Call my agent? French comedy in Netfix?

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          I *loved* Call my Agent! It’s *such* a well made show. Definitely the best comedy I have watched. I wish more people would watch it! I try to plug it whenever I get the chance. I also thought “A Very Secret Service” was not bad, though not in the Call My Agent league.

          I need to figure out a good VPN service. sigh. I think it will solve a lot of my issues.
          Thanks for the SBS OnDemand tipoff. Will figure out how to access 😉

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    Ohhhh okie maybe some possibilities:
    (I’m also tossing in some US/Canadian shows that I love at the moment!)
    1. Rom-com/Fluff: Just Between Lowers (forever my fav and def worth giving it a shot if you haven’t seen it already!), Schitt’s Creek (ahh what a feel-good and cozy show~).
    2. Nobody Knows (gosh this was so good!), Hyena (the leads’ chemistry is off the charts!), Barry (it gives me a lot of feels).

    Teehee! Hope this helps~ :3

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      I *love* Just between Lovers! It’s on my all-time favorites list! Same with Nobody Knows – I thought it was an *exceptional* show, among the best of 2020. Hyena was such a riot too – thank you for the suggestions – clearly we have similar taste 😀

      I haven’t watched Schitt’s Creek or Barry. I haven’t watched English-language TV in a long time now! Will check them out. Thank you 🙂

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        yay! wow i did not expect that our tastes are that simillar! :3
        I hope you find these two shows fun! Schitt’s Creek only has 6 seasons with really great thought-out characters arcs and very easy to breeze through. Barry is a bit more intense and makes me sad half the time.

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    You may have already watched these but some of my favorites sans what you already listed

    1. Buamdong Revenge Social Club – one of the best non-romantic yet not super serious drama. The sismance of the lead ajummas are the best!
    2. Nokdu Flower – if you are ok with sageuks it’s one of the best and pulls at your heartstrings in all the right places. A story of regular people and hope
    3. Mother – the best cryfest ever. Makes you think of what the term “mother” means.
    4. Nobody Knows – A story of a too perfect kid and bad adults. But also a story about bunch of good adults that try to find the truth about several related crimes. A story where cops actually have teamwork lol
    6. Save Me – About cults and getting out of one.
    7. Save Me 2 – story is unrelated to Save Me sans a pseudoreligious cult type scenario. It has an equally compelling story with Um Tae Goo as the brash main.
    8. The Guest – Exorcisms and interesting partnerships. Scary but worth the ride.

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      Ooh I’ve only watched #4 – Nobody Knows.
      I’ve been keen on Nokdu Flower (despite my costume drama allergy), and excited that Netflix has picked it up. And I’ve read about Buamdong Revenge Social Club before on DB – I need to look that up. Someone reviewed Mother as well recently I think – I need to. brace myself for a tearfest before watching it.
      I’m not sure about 6-8, because they don’t sound like genres I might enjoy. But I’ll give them a shot since you recommend! Thank you!!

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        If it helps convince you more, Save Me 1 has Woo Dohwan (it’s his break out and maybe debut work) and Seo YeJi (it’s one of her earlier works) and Taecyeon (he’s the main but Woo Dohwan steals the show)

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And a smile to end it all!
“I’m in hell” was reminiscent of Faustus, Mephistopheles, and that Lost Paradise.
The whole story in one killer line.
Slow clap.
Thank you for the ride, Team FOS2.

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    I’m a little in Hell myself now that it’s over 😕

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Here\’s an excellent piece about the evolution of kpop groups over the past ~30 years, mainly about size and changing relevance of roles of different members of the groups: https://pudding.cool/2020/10/kpop/ 

It helped me understand the maze that is kpop better. I also really appreciated the analogy with football (soccer) to explain kpop \”teams\” and fandom. Oh, and super dataviz, which is something that *always* excites me!

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    Thanks for sharing. Very interesting.

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    Nice article. Maybe the analogy with soccer is misleading though? Every soccer player has a role, which is strategic and all about playing the sport, they are needed for the team to play. These groups can have anything from 3 to 30 people. No soccer player is cast because he is pretty or charming, no externals factors matter. None of them gets cast because the process of casting itself became a lucrative game.

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      Agreed about the sporting factor in football, and how strategy has a role to play in sport which a pop group cannot replicate. I won’t defend the analogy unnecessarily, but if one had to do so, one could argue that topping the charts is the equivalent of the championship; and that “visuals” are an intrinsic factor in kpop teambuilding, just as finding the right midfielder would be in football. The analogy also helped explain – to me – fandoms, and how team support evolves. Also, casting may have become a lucrative game in the construction of teams in sporting leagues as well (not so much in building national teams)?

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        Yes, professional sport is sometimes as terrible as kpop industry. When I talked about a soccer team it was more about the concept of the game and not about the complicated schemes created by indusytry only to make money from the sport and the fans. Why should a music group need some member just to be pretty or charming? When did they start selling beauty and personality traits as something of equal value ? These groups became disposable objects, the music is just another element of the equation instead of the reason of their existence.

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          True. It’s really no longer about the music. Just like sport is no longer about the sport. 🙁 As someone who used to watch all kinds of sport (except golf and motor-racing) throughout her teens, by when the idea of “pure sport” was already vanishing, this is especially telling.

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There had better be a Season 3 for FOS. And while I hope the crew stays intact, I sure hope they KEEP THE EDITOR! I don\’t study film but Ep 15 was a masterclass in editing.

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    Cho Seung-Woo said he can do 5 seasons which would be terrific. HSM together with HYJ are now the heart and soul of this series – can’t imagine FoS without them.

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      Of course, that the HSM and HYJ partnership should stay goes without saying! I didn’t mention my hope that the cast remains as is for obvious reasons. I’m secretly wishing they’ve actually started making S3 😀

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    I sort of want them to let it go after this. Two excellent seasons is good enough. I say leave it at that — leave it while they’re ahead! — and let the writer do something else, something that is different but equally amazing.

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      Imagine the pressure they have to face with S3 being compared to two previous seasons, both are excellent.

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      That is tempting also. But Lee Soo Yeon is such a fine writer, and I feel she’s got under the skin of these characters completely – she owns them – she has to give us more. I’m just greedy.
      *covers face*

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    Yes to all!
    I really need another season! I was ready to like this one even knowing it may not be as good as S1, but know I feel like a kid who has to answer: who do you love more mum or dad?

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      I know!! Me too! I was biased before this show started. I was so hyped up way long before the first air date, and was basically twiddling my thumbs during the intervening period for this to show up. I would have loved it even if it wasn’t this good (although, “less than this good” would have been fine by any other drama standards!!). It’s a bonanza that it’s turned out this brilliant. Finer than S1. Way more than we bargained for.

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    Both BDN and LJH said they are happy to join CSW for more seasons. FoS is the drama they love dearly and very proud to be part of it. So it’s up to the writer if she can come up with a new script and are willing to put her neck on the chopping block again.

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      That is the big big risk. But I trust this writer so completely. Three excellent scripts FOS 1 & 2 and Life… I can’t see her do a bad job. Or even if she does, I will take it. Because I feel this writer putting in a lesser effort will be better than most others’ best effort.

      Also, only BDN and LJH? Not CSW? I thought he was the one who wanted 5 seasons in the first place. 😀 In any case, I can see a S3 with LJH taking centrestage, especially since we’ve been LJH-deprived for most of this season…

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        Because CSW wanted to do until season 5, they gladly join him for a ride. There is still hope for S3.
        I will follow this writer to the end of the world 🙂

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    Second that! And I want a lawyer in season 3, a good one. The lawyers we got so far are shady and have temperament problem. Could Dong-jae return as a lawyer to join force with Shi-mok and Yeo-jin pleaseeee?

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      Now there’s an idea

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      I’m all in for Prosecutor Kang as the righteous lawyer role!!

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        Count me in! After his conversation with Shi-mok in the last episode I do want him to work as a lawyer. Maybe ask Dong-jae to join him lol. We know Dong-jae needs some guidance to keep him in line.

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    I can’t see how they are going to wrap it all up in one more episode, so I’m guessing there may be some unresolved stuff (I don’t know if I can survive the stress though)

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      They’re planting the seeds for season 3 I guess?lol. But SF is never a series that ties the ending neatly, just like irl society there won’t be a nice idealistic closure.

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