Beanie level: Errand boy

FOS2 Ep12: Wow, can this get any better? So much to love in this episode! Spoiler comments below:

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    1. The parallels between CB-WTH and HYJ-HSM were obv. my favourite part this episode.
    2. Lots of HYJ-HSM scenes to make up for the lack of, previously. Opposite-sex platonic friendship so well written! Learn, people, learn. I could watch dramas about such friendships ALL the time.
    3. Hanjo ties up to main story in a big way.
    4. I love love LOVE that three central characters are women, and they are never EVER shown as props for anyone or anything else. Fabulous writing.
    5. That National Assembly-like debate about police vs prosecution was a lesson in writing dialectic. And the after-conversation between HYJ-HSM, which put it all into perceptive.
    6. HSM SMILES! Like actually, lips upturned, reacting at the right time, in friendly banter. It was like a sigh of relief after all that tension.

    Lee Soo-Yeon – I bow to you!

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      Everything to what you said!
      Love the council meeting. Everyone’s acting and how they delivered their lines were sooo good there.

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        I bursted with Geon’s line in that meeting. I was waiting for him to at least say something and when he finally did.. i LOLed.

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        Actually, I thought WTH’s line delivery was not the best – it felt like he was reading a script – unless the posturing was deliberate and in character. But yeah, overall, that back and forth was very well done!

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          It seems that he is invested in creating a shit storm in order to preserve the status quo and cover up the other stuff (whatever it is).

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      Yes! This episode makes me smile so much, which is odd since it’s still full of tense moments. haha Gosh, I’m sad we’re at the home stretch now. We still need more SM/YJ moments!

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        So right about smiling amidst tension – that’s what HSM’s smile felt like – it was a ray of sunshine in a taut episode. I was very happy with the SM-YJ scenes here. Their friendship is *goals*, as they say.

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      Has anyone considered that all of this is a storm in a tea cup and nothing has happened at all except plotting for advantage (and the kidnapping of DJ)? This may be completely off the wall, but have you considered the possibility that there are no murders at all? That the drownings were drownings, that the suicide was a suicide, that the heart attack was a heart attack. In fact what we see is maneuvering for advantage in a fog of misdirection, and attempts by the police and prosecution to frame each other on the basis of their paranoid suspicions and attempts at outguessing each other.

      The big question though is what has happened to Dong-jae? I’m starting to wonder if that vile burgeoning sociopath High School student has kidnapped him out of malevolence (but then we saw the reflection of the police watch??) On the other hand Sec Park is v suspicious. Who is he really working for?

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        interesting theory! not considered it. although the high school student – SDJ connection has crossed my mind, for otherwise that case/conversation was a very random insert in the earlier episode. the kidnapper is shown to be a rich person, with fancy musical instruments, etc., so rich high school brat doing the kidnapping is not impossible.

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        Yes, I have started to think there might not be a murderer. Possibly, an accomplice who knows something about a crime, could be bullying or drug dealing but choose to stay silent. A blinking eye symbol in the intro could mean witnessing a crime but choose to close their eyes. Unlike S1, the catchphrase is every suspect has a motive cos there was a murder. Tragedy happened because someone chose to turn a blind eye (leader Baek’s silence to the bullying of officer Song)

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          yeah the tagline is also something similar, right? everyone who remains silent is guilty = turning a blind eye? I usually end up ff-ing the intro – must go back and check it out!

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    I think the mastermind this season is Director Park Sang-mu. I’m getting evil villain vibes from him.

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      Also, I’m still not convinced the Sergeant wasn’t murdered. Too much doesn’t add up. Right now, my theory is that the newbie at their police station might’ve been the killer — although I have no good evidence for this theory!

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        That was my theory too, although if Sargeant Song did in fact commit suicide then I’m not seeing the motive anymore.

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          different character, but also agree that the suicide is still not convincing. Unless show wants to leave the cops’ transgressions as abetment to suicide (which would also be punishable).

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        Sorry, I just realised you’re talking about a different character. Ignore me.

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        Ikr, and it’s weird that the whole team was shown to feel regret because of the bribes. Did they not feel a tiny bit of remorse for the bullying which triggered the supposed suicide? As bad as receiving bribe is, it’s not costing you human life. I sense crooked moral compass here.

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      He’s been shady from the start! I agree. But no one is entirely above suspicion yet. WTH and CB are still dodgy. I don’t know what mega plan they have up their sleeve. Chairwoman Lee is also pretty scheming. Who knows. At this point, I’m not even clear on what the exact crime is. :p I’m just enjoying the complexity of the ride and the tight writing. There’s never a loose plot line with LSY, and everything is going to tie together eventually.

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        I think the plotting is great as well!

        The one thing I don’t want is a lame attempt to pin all of this on Chairwoman Lee’s brother or father. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the writer will not go for an easy solution like this.

        For me, the most suspicious people right now are Park Sang-mu and Seo Dong-jae’s wife. The two of them seem to have secrets and ulterior motives. (Who knows, Park Sang-mu might be the father of Seo Dong-jae’s children! LMAO)

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          haha the fathering seems far out, although. all is definitely not rosy on the marriage front. that said, I thought it strange that the wife should put on such a show just for the sake of keeping up appearances. she’s definitely fishy, but for other reasons.

          I have been theorizing that the Lee brother is behind a lot of this, and the father is definitely going to come back into the story at some point, but how and when I don’t know.

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      Park is a younger version of the late Prosecutor Lee. He and Mrs Lee mesh so well and their relationship reminds me of Season 1 with her husband.

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        I at first thought they were dating or something. They do get along really well. However, he gives me snake vibes and I definitely think he’s involved in some sinister in whatever is going on here.

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          Just like her husband.

          The woman has a type. 😄

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          I didn’t get dating / romantic vibes at all from the start. More like a creepy symbiotic relationship.

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    Ep 12 is a masterclass of sublime scriptwriting. Each segment is worth a thesis and there are so many of them. A second watch may not be enough.

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      I completely agree! I mentioned elsewhere that I thought this was the best single stand-alone episode in a drama I have seen in a long long time. So much to learn from this one hour alone.

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Even as Do you Like Brahms? is on almost everyone’s watchlist here on DB, one thing that has struck me is the fact that I’m using a Korean drama to learn about and appreciate Western classical music – the anomaly is not lost on me. (To be fair, though, I did also thoroughly enjoy the first season of Mozart in the Jungle, which is the other example I can think of of a drama that has western classical music as its central theme.)

Even earlier, I have wondered why some of the best contemporary exponents of the form are not necessarily –  ethnically, at least, to use a politically sensitive term – from countries where the music was created: names that immediately come to mind are Yo-yo Ma, Lang Lang, Vanessa Mae. The one reason why that is the case I can think of is – migrant families seeking validation in western societies through a display of virtuosity in their music, combined with tiger parenting practices, will inevitably churn out geniuses like this.  This is besides straightforward exposure to western classical music in the colonial era (which there are some fascinating examples of in Indian classical music too!). I’m sure there are more complex reasons than this, though.

Appropriately enough, along comes this article by Alex Ross in The New Yorker earlier today on the whiteness of classical music, and how that is and/or needs to change. This para stood out:

“At bottom, the entire music-education system rests upon the Schenkerian assumption that the Western tonality, with its major-minor harmony and its equal-tempered scale, is the master language. Vast tracts of the world’s music, from West African talking drums to Indonesian gamelan, fall outside that system, and African-American traditions have played in its interstices.”

I would love to hear the thoughts of fellow beanies on this, including on if this widening net of performers has led to the “canon” being redefined, or reconstructed even, and if so, how?
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/09/21/black-scholars-confront-white-supremacy-in-classical-music

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Maybe it\’s me just being a fan, but the editing in FOS2 is far superior to FOS1. The transitions, especially! And this show is a good example of how and when to use flashbacks (unlike Nobody Knows).

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    Yes to all that.
    I love Nobody Knows as an entire product but its overuse of flashbacks to fill episodes was a pain.

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      Yup – NK didn’t need the flashbacks, but in FOS2, I feel they are actually needed, because it’s so much complex a story, with many more characters and subplots. The flashbacks are also being used with care and only when necessary. Anyway, I’m loving this show dearly, even with all its – sometimes incomprehensible – layers.

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    It is. I have to say that the editing and the cinematography in S1 were not up the drama, IMO. S2 is far better.
    I haven’t watched Nobody knows, but planning to do it.

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For @azzo1 and SNG: wishing you all the happiness in the world together.
@ally-le As a Melomance fan, this is my pick! It’s not k-pop or from an OST, but I. think. the song meets your criteria 🙂

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    I love melomance too! I have another song by them I’ll suggest!

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      ooh looking forward to your suggestion! I’m a little obsessed with their sound, actually :p And I’d have picked an entire concert if I could (and all the songs met your criteria!) 😀

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    Omg! I was thinking of recommending some MeloMance songs too! But got held back as I haven’t really read the lyrics if it’s appropriate for a wedding

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      Also, isn’t this from an OST? Or at least played in a drama? I think it was BTIOFL

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        Doesn’t matter about if the song is appropriate for a wedding! Some fun songs are fine too! Something upbeat! There’s dancing at weddings, right?

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        You’re right! Melomance appears in BTIOFL singing this as buskers or something: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_Qd23bXmdo
        (it’s a show I haven’t paid much attention to!, so I missed the reference :D)

        I actually also really like the other Melomance song from BTIOFL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3OzE2w64X4
        (which started me off on this k-music/ kdrama craze actually!)
        I think Ally has linked to this already on her fanwall.

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However intrinsically beautiful the piece is, in the minds of an Indian viewer, Schumann’s Träumerei will forever be associated with this men’s clothing fabric brand, which has the (most awfully) cheesiest of taglines, “The Complete Man”. As a result, the first two episodes of “Do you like Brahms” felt like one long PPL. 

What next? Kim Min-Jae as brand ambassador?

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FOS2 is all about manipulation – whether it is Choi Bit and Woo Tae Ha trying to manipulate their hoobaes, or whether it’s Lee Yoon-jae manipulating the Sungmoon CEO (the opening seconds of That Scene gave me JBL feels, though), or whether it is Weasel desperately trying his hardest to manipulate anyone or anything that comes his way, or whether it’s Lee Soo-yeon – showing off her craft – manipulating the audience with that cliffhanger of an ending in ep 6. 

I’m in deep here, and loving it (even if my avatar doesn’t seem to be – her sweater’s cute, though!)

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    I got JBL whiplash because of that scene as well!

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    It’s all about trust.
    I had a very hard time watching Yeojin struggling.
    I don’t like Choi Bit or WTH. They are up to nothing good although they keep speaking about the organization greater good, while they are only defending their positions.
    It was heartbreaking hearing Yeojin confession that you can’t stop crime: you get one criminal and two pop out the minute after. It’s just like a gigantic Hydra of Lerna.
    I hate to see our favourite couple struggling this much, both are exhausted. Where is my enthusiastic Yeojin? Even ShiMok noticed… you haven’t been drawing lately…

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      Hmm. I don’t dislike any of the characters yet, especially CB and WTH – they are still in the grey territory, I feel. They are in power, and also powerbrokers, and doing everything to secure their own positions and their legacy. I am seeing their manipulations in that context, which makes it all very real. But well said about Yeo-jin – she’s the manifestation of the disillusioned idealist. So is Shi-mok, of course, but he doesn’t show the emotional range that she does.

      In that sense, they are *all* everyman. Whether it is in the self-preserving machinations of the bosses, or the naïveté of the hoobaes, we have all been (or will be) there at some point in our lives. The show is holding up a mirror, and asking us to decide where we want to be, for ourselves. I love it! It’s demanding so much introspection from all of us.

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        Exactly. When Choi Bit tells YeoJin that one day you can sit in this chair, I could totally feel how YeoJin was not motivated at all to take that seat.
        She knows (as I know) that if you sit there you will have to sell many things, because even if you want when you are in a position of power (little, middle, big, it doesn’t matter) there are certain things you have to do or do not, whether you like it or not.
        I know because I’ve been there. I had for some years that power (I was a team leader) and I suffered so much, because I couldn’t do for my people what I wanted, and I couldn’t be the boss I would have wanted to be. I’ve always complained about bosses looking the other side, but even if I tried hard, there were things I could not change and HAD to look the other side, and it was killing me. So the minute I was told there would be a restructuring and I would be demoted, that was one of the happiest days of my working life.
        And Yeojin knows, like I know, that taking that seat would not change things, but only change her.

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          So well said! That scene also made me wonder what Yeo-jin’s long game actually is (and Shi-mok’s as well). Do they want to stay in this system, or are they going to be too disillusioned to want to remain in it? Like you, will Yeo-jin be happy when she goes back to her beat-cop life with her buddies?, or will she regret having lost out on the opportunity to take control and bring about the changes she knows the system needs. I’d love if the show actually answers these questions.

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      Because of her nature, YJ absorbs things more emotionally and personally. Constant fight of crime and corruptions is taking its toll on them. We all experience time when we feel lost and unsure about our career or life in general. The best thing about SM-YJ friendship is they are each other anchor to help them to stay true to their beliefs.
      When CB said to YJ “ you have no ideas how you are dragged into thing” I really feel for her. There often times when we feel obliged to do certain things either for our company, group or even friends as we are all part of the collectivism, more so for CB in a male domination field.

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        So true! Where is the line between individual agency / free will, and collective / circumstantial compulsion? The CB-YJ dialogue highlights this dilemma well.

        That friendship between SM and YJ is written so well, and so subtle but beautiful. I wish LSY sticks to friendships – it’s her strongest suit when it comes to writing relationships that I have seen so far

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After some hard-selling by Beanies, and desperately needing more of Lee Soo-yeon (what am I going to do now?), I finally finished bingeing Life. It is definitely nothing close to LSY’s best, i.e., Stranger, and as @eazal puts it, nothing really happens in the show, it still has its charm. Some random observations from my watch follow (One or two Spoilers Alert) .

About the performances:

— exponentially upped my appreciation for the senior actors in kdramaland – Yum Hye-Ran (Secretary Kang! – gold performance), Yoo Jae-Myung (he’s done so many rubbish shows, but he’s *such* a great character actor), Lee Sang-hee, Kim Won-Hae (hope he’s recovering fast!)…
— Of the younger lot, Lee Kyu-hyung and Tae In-ho stood out.
— Of course our hero Cho Seung-Woo can do no wrong in my eyes. I’d love to see CSW in a slice of life one day, instead of his forever grim poker-faced characters.
— I still love Won Jin-ah’s voice: deep, rich, and clear. That. is her biggest strength, and I hope she uses it well. But she has yet to best her role in Just Between Lovers. This was not it. Maybe she’s a director’s actor, and needs to find the right guidance.
— Lee Dong Wook as “Greek God” had me in splits throughout – well, erm, he is that, but sadly, maybe mainly that in this show. I’m not complaining. Visual relief is always important.
— I hooted silently when Lee Joon Hyuk came on screen in a blink and miss scene. It was just the other day I had mentioned that it was a shame he wasn’t in this drama considering how many actors overlapped with Stranger, and voila.

About the writing and storytelling:
 
— the friendships are written/performed so well! They shine in comparison with the subtle-but-oh-not-so-subtle romance. I think LSY should stick to writing good friendships (cue reference, Stranger 2: please don’t mess it up).
— the storytelling style pushes a lot of standard dramaland boundaries: Things were not always explained well. A lot of sub-text was left for the audience to decipher. There were no clear resolutions. A lot of ambiguity remained right till the end, including on critical character motivations (or at least I felt so).
— this is what I respect LSY for – she doesn’t spoonfeed, and doesn’t treat audience as stupid. Her settings are also very real, and although dramatic license is employed often, there is enough to make you feel like this is familiar stuff, and that you could have been a part of this story yourself.

About other stuff:

— the BGM was louder and more prominent than it needed to be.
— the pacing was off in many many places. It was very slow and involved a lot of unnecessary shots of people staring into blank space.
— BUT BUT BUT the mid-length non-verbal ocean scene in the end between the Brothers Ye was so beautiful, and gave closure to a lot of unanswered questions (without actually answering them). This was one of the finest moments of the show overall, and I’m glad I stayed the course.
— My favourite line came at the end, from the character played by Tae In-ho, and. the context in which he said (after a career in a place he didn’t. like, with few friends left in the world, and no idea where to go next), “How is it that there’s nothing I want to do?”. That moment captured a lot of things, which felt very personal for me.

Overall, Life is definitely up there among the top – maybe 20 – kdramas I have watched. I truly appreciate that LSY is doing so much to write about serious issues that most folks in dramaland would avoid. I hope she keeps at it! Her oeuvre can only go from strength to strength at this rate.

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    I’m so glad you liked it. I’ve already told you.
    Yes to all you say, my most favorite character was, as I have stated many times, Secretary Kang (it’s funny because I watched this show after watching Lawless Lawyer in which Yum Hye Ran’s character was so stereotypical…).
    I like how LSY writes about real women. I’m not talking about strong, leading or extraordinary women, but about real women: like YeoJin in Stranger or all the female characters in Life. You didn’t mention Moon So Ri, and her Dr. Oh is just amazing. I loved how it was so clear on how a woman has to deal in man’s world to get to the top without one single explanation.
    I also agree about Tae In Ho. Yes, yes, yes… he’s also one of my weakness.
    And I didn’t want to sp*il you on LHJ cameo, because I almost fell off my couch when I saw him, hehe. That scene made me want a second season with him as the Hospital Director.
    In the end, nothing really happened: it is just Life.

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      You’re right about the women in LSY’s writing – thank heavens for that. There’s no artificial coyness or any such rubbish in her depictions. I wish she would write more women in, though!!
      All her shows have just a handful of women – the stories are still very much about the men.

      And ah Moon So-ri – yeah, I think in my editing back and forth, her name got deleted! she was awesome as Dr Oh – suitably ambiguous – powerful – professional – ambitious – that scene with the Restructuring team where she starts with kicking the door open was some serious stuff!

      Tae In-ho!! So underused in dramaland, IMO. I really wanted to see more of him in JBL too!
      Thank you for not spoiling LJH for me – it was such a whistle-inducing surprise! I totally agree that this was beautifully set up for a season 2. Maybe Gu Seung-ho could be hired by the doctors to head the independent foundation they set up to buy Sankook out, and we could have a CSW-LJH face off here!! Ah, wishful thinking…

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    Ljfe totally lives upto its name and I’ll call it more of a slice of life and workplace politics drama than a medical one. That scene with the Ye brothers was amazing and I was a crying mess when I saw it. I have special apprecaition fr writers who include characters who are differently abled (sorry if I’m using the wrong term), both Life and JBL had characters who were human beyond a disability. LKH has done very sad roles but Life was most heart wrenching he just wanted to be considered and treated like a normal human being like everyone else. But I stuck through Life because of Gu Seung Ho. He was a very complex gray character and a typical “business man” but thay didn’t mean that he’ll side with the wrong. Like the characters the audience was equally in the dark about him, is he good? Is he bad? And our opinion about him changed with the characters. Dr Oh was another kind of gray character in Life, but for the admirable strong woman she is, everyone had a good view about her.

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      Agree that this is a workplace drama and not really a medical drama. But my grouse about not seeing enough of CSW’s smile remains 🙂 which is why I said I’d like to seem him as a regular guy in a plain ole’ slice of life. He was too much of the grey-hearted businessman here for me.

      So right about the grayness of the characterization – that’s what I especially loved about the writing – there’s two sides to everyone. There were times I felt that Ye Seon-woo was taking advantage of others, or Lee Bun-ho was a scheming director, and many characters, like Glutton and Dr Oh, were unreadable at most times. This is what made it all so real and felt close to home in mimicking people around us.

      CSW was terrific as GSH, making the character greyer than ash – even until the end, I wasn’t sure if I sided with or against him, just like I felt the doctors couldn’t make up their minds either. I came for Lee Soo-Yeon, but CSW was also definitely the second major draw for me. Like I said, I’m very biased – he’s a near perfect actor in my opinion. 😀

      And I hear you about including characters who are specially abled (I am also not sure of what the appropriate term would be): Without becoming moralistic or taking the high ground, this show said so much about what life is like if you are in such a situation – whether it is the daily humdrum of your life, or emotional and mental state, or the extent to which you can have a full-blown professional career, and how your ambitions (professional, social, emotional) get curtailed. It was very sensitively and respectfully done. On this metric alone, I don’t think I have seen a better show. JBL also did a good job (and it is one of all time favourite shows), but I thought this drama did an even better job.

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    Won Jin-ah certainly felt like the weak link to me, if only because she was playing a character 10 years her senior, so she didn’t carry the weariness that the others naturally possessed about life (ha, ha). Maybe that was the point of her character, but her youthful face compounded by her small frame didn’t exactly help with the (unnecessary) love-line with CSW. I maaaybe get why he’d be initially drawn to her at least platonically – she gave him a chance instead of just writing him off as a businessman. I don’t get why she’d be romantically pulled towards him, and I felt zero chemistry between the two to justify his character coming for her in the final scene.

    There’s a chance I just dislike her character too – I especially disliked how pity was kind of the only emotion that No-eul expressed towards Sun-woo. I can’t tell if it was a directorial choice, but Won Jin-ah/No-eul looked way too stunted for a noona hearing the confession from a dongseng, and looked traumatized more than anything else. In fact, she only looked traumatized, which puzzled me given the supposed emotional wisdom/maturity she showed CSW’s character. To me, it was pretty damning that the first thing she saw were his legs and the wheelchair before meeting his gaze, and I thought the show kind of let her off too easy for it.

    One other thing that I thought was forced was Sun-woo’s health complications, like jeez give this guy a break! I just don’t get why we needed to have this additional side plot when the resolution (theatre scene) didn’t require it. I thought there was enough material to work with already, and I would have preferred if the drama more fully explored Sun-woo’s feelings of self worth instead of inducing angst by giving him only 10-15 years to live and a last minute guilt trip over his childhood accident. That said, I would have loved to have seen CSW’s character help Sun-woo in his character growth, and I really found their interaction outside No-eul’s apartment fascinating – Seung-hyo’s result oriented/no-nonsense perspective could have breathed a lot into a character weighed to the ground by self-pity.

    Overall, I have to agree that for most of the drama, nothing really happened, but I was still really absorbed. Yoo Jae-myung had one or two too many monologues/speeches for my tastes, but I don’t blame them for trying recreate the magic in FoS. I loved seeing Dr. Oh take charge, and I thought Jin-woo’s characterization that her only flaw is that she views herself as the standard was spot-on, and we could see that her motivations/actions were really consistent through the lens of this characterization throughout the drama. Really glad to have watched.

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      Totally on-point observations about Won Jin-ah’s No-eul. I also felt there was zero chemistry. But I don’t know if it was about the casting alone, but also about the writing – I did not find the other romantic arc particularly well-done either (Jin-woo and the reporter). I also thought LDW was as much of a weak link as WJA.

      There were TONS of monologues!! And yes they got a tedious. I worry that Stranger 2 might go down the same path – if not monologues, but interminably long and complex dialogues between two people, with no end or goal in sight – that is better for a written text, but doesn’t always translate well into performance.

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        The initial romance with the reporter was important only to show that there was nothing going on with No-eul. I was surprised they took it to the end.
        Strangely, the only thought I had while watching Lee Dong-wook’s farewell to imaginary Sun-woo/himself was “wow, Jo In-sung is a better actor than I thought”, because I couldn’t help not compare it to that scene in It’s Okay that’s Love (beginning of ep 16). While LDW’s self confession fell very, very flat to me, I remember Jo In-sung’s was much more moving. It could be directorial – Jo In-sung did get a close-up while LDW was in a public space, but I thought LDW’s execution was poor overall. I didn’t think too much of his performance otherwise, but I may be giving Greek god who’s a doofus around girls too much of a pass.

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          “It’s Okay” is a show I did NOT like at all – disliked both the leads, the story, the execution, everything. I ff-ed through it to understand what the hype was about and didn’t get it still. I’m mighty glad that LSY did not pick LDW for Stranger 2 – he has a long way to go to fix his acting chops.

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      And oh yeah, the dynamic between Seung-ho and Seon-woo could have been better explored. That’s what I meant when I said the writer does non-romantic relationships well, and should focus on those. All the scenes between those two were superb – it also helps that they are generally outstanding actors.

      The additional health complication was just wasted time, I agree, and caused unnecessary drama angst. There was enough otherwise in Seon-woo’s character to discuss the challenges of living normally when life throws you a curveball, and those parts were actually well done. Like the conversation between the brothers, when Jin-woo tells his brother he is a role model, and he replies that he doesn’t want to be one – I have had this exact same conversation with a close friend who was in a similar situation, which caused me to revisit my position on this issue fundamentally. That really hit home.

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    The ocean scene will be forever in my memory as one of the most beautiful moments in drama land. I loved every minute of Life.

    The debates about the identity and role of the institution resonated strongly with debates about universities as they became corporatised and transformed into profit making organisations. There could not have been a resolution to this debate at the time Life was made. The process has been like an unstoppable juggernaut.

    Ironically, with COVID-19, it’s all changed again, at least where I am, and the whole profit-making venture has fallen over. It would have been, and will continue to be, laudable and right if hospitals put healing people first and Universities were about the pursuit of knowledge and truth, but all of that seemed impossibly naive in the era of neo-liberalism.

    In Life and Stranger2, Lee Soo-yeon brilliantly chooses contemporary hot spots and bravely explores what’s at stake. Best and most pleasurable viewing ever.

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      Yes! to the ocean scene. From start to finish, it was breathtakingly beautiful and so so appropriate in terms of its placement in the story. It wasn’t a random, oh lets give some visual relief, kind of scene. It had meaning and really pushed the story forward, or as in this case, gave closure.

      “Contemporary hot spots” – brave is the word to use for LSY indeed! This is also why I drew comparisons with The Wire, because I see a similar attempt in her work to question the evolution of institutions and speculate on whether we truly understand our priorities or not, as human beings. I respect and admire her immensely for this, and I do hope she keeps this a running motif through her work, because for all the fluff on TV out there, we desperately need to have these kinds of conversations too!

      1
      1

        I agree, these are conversations we need to have. I haven’t seen The Wire. I’ve just been reading about the outcome of the actual police vs prosecution debate in Korea and discovered how momentous it was. People demonstrated in the streets at the prosecution-led attack on the Justice Minister who initiated the attempt to reform the checks and balances between the two. She has written right into this in Stranger 2, and Koreans would not miss the connection. It all leads straight to the President and his pledge to bring more fairness to the country when he was elected. What actually happened was the system of privilege was even further exposed in the accusations against the progressive Justice Minister, Cho kuk. It’s truly the stuff of dramas. Clearly an opportunity she could not resist and has bravely taken on.

        1
        1

          oh do watch The Wire if you get the chance – it’s a show that stays in your head for a long long time.

          I love the real-to-reel transition you describe, and actually even envy the writer being able to do that (while also admiring her bravery) for not everywhere can you write (or dare to write) so openly. Do share links if you have recommendations on the subject. I will be only to happy to read.

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            The representation of the Assemblyman in the last episode of FOS appears to make a significant departure from the Justice Minister who actually fell prey to the prosecution in SK. My impression is that the actual Minister had been a hero of the Left and may still be for some. https://thediplomat.com/2019/10/south-koreas-cho-kuk-saga-ends/
            But opinions have actually fractured the Left too:
            http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/art/2020/08/142_295124.html
            The current episodes of FOS about trying to control the Assemblyman. In real life, it looks as if the prosecutors went for him like attaching sharks. The repercussions go all the way to the top and also erode the President’s promise to make a fairer Korea.

            1
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            Thank you! This gives an interesting perspective to the storytelling. I wonder if, as in S1, this will take it all the way to the Blue House too – gunning directly for the President.

            1
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            I wonder. I can’t see how she can resist.

            1
            0

A fascinating report about small town livestreamers in China. Reminded me of Dinner Mate, which I dropped very early, but which gave me a peek into this chaotic life: https://www.sixthtone.com/news/1006104/Life%20on%20the%20Edges%20of%20China%E2%80%99s%20Livestreaming%20Boom

\”A small number of stars might have ridden the livestreaming e-commerce boom to fame, but we shouldn’t forget ordinary people like Shi Yong and his team. To them, e-commerce may not be a path to dazzling sales figures, glamorous lives, or big business dreams, but it’s a living.\”

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    Very interesting. Thanks for the link. I will check out some of the other articles there.

    2
    0

And woohoo! Inside a month, I leveled up to Errand Boy. That was quick! I have Memorials, Stranger2 and all you Beanies to thank for this august gift. 😀 I guess, though, this will be a long term rental. 

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Excellent rant/review by AvenueX of Go Ahead, and I agree with almost everything she says. It’s as though she was speaking my mind. I am inclined to drop it, just like her, for the same reasons

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    It…. definitely went to territories I dreaded it to go to. Cough Zi Qiu cough. I am sad it lost its momentum to me. My fear came true – I loved it too early.

    4
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      Also my gripe that I agree with her was that I wish they made the women in this drama more dimensional. There are horrible moms and women out there yes, but you could have made them flawed but more relatable. I really didn’t like that they’re just there either to piss me off or a plot device. The Bad Kids did excellent in that. You have Chao Yang’s mom who expected so much from him (she was borderline tiger mom) but she was relatable. I understood her struggle. I understood why and how she’s flawed. And same with Chao Yang’s step mom. Like they’re not just there as plot device. There was natural flow in the story. Go Ahead sadly forgot its foundation.

      4
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        Absolutely agree! My biggest gripe is that the casting for this – with the exception of Song Weilong – is so fine, it’s a waste of such a terrific ensemble. And especially when the first few episodes started out very well, that had a certain momentum of its own going. The writers should have stuck with that.

        Actually, there are so so many problems with this show. I could write an essay on it!

        Your comparison with Bad Kids is great – that was a very well written show, and everyone was suitably grey and flawed, especially the kids. Here, it’s all so unreal.

        I had hopes when Go Ahead started, but it started getting me worried early on and now I’m definitely on the other side 🙁

        4
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          Definitely a waste. I’m sad these wonderful actors are cast together in a very repulsive show. When ep 20 started with that bestfriend getting into Zi Qui’s Brain that he must have romantic feelings with Jian Jian, the alarms in my head were going off nonstop and the show lost my attention there. I’m on ep 23, and in addition to Song Wei Long being the weakest link here, his character is not helping me see him in a good light! I knew Ling Xiao and Jian Jian will be romantically involved. I already prepared my brain for it, but what it didn’t prepare was how the show would execute their from non-related siblings to lover’s transition. Very very appalling! He’s pushing his idea of love onto her aggressively. If anything he is harassing her and she is clearly not comfortable with his aggressive approach on taking their relationship to a new level…. and auuuuuuuuuuuuuugh there was a scene he threatened her that she’d better keep her word about considering their relationship or he won’t be able to sleep well at night. He was like “Yknow how I can’t sleep at night right??” Like omg????? 😡You grew up in a very warm household and you’re starting to pick up your mom’s horrible habits?! What the actual f.

          And don’t get me started with love cobweb that’s happening here in Go Ahead. Why can male and female be platonic friends? Why do they end up falling for someone at first sight???? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

          Oh wells, till next drama again I guess 😤

          4
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            I stayed till 19 (don’t know how!!), but definitely not going back now. Thanks for the update on what happens after. It’s so so weird. I’m actually happy that AvenueX put out the kind of review she did on this, because too many people were fawning over what was clearly a fundamentally flawed show – for those who were watching it ‘because it was entertaining’, I think the review is a wake-up call to acknowledge what it is that you want from your entertainment, what is acceptable and what is not.

            3
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      The cast of “Go Ahead”–mainly, the 3 siblings– will be on next week’s episode of C-variety show, “Day Day Up” 🙂

      3
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      Oh dear, I’m glad I listened to my gut feeling about the angsty moms and didn’t watch beyond Episode 1.

      3
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        Lol! Yes, you dodged the bullet there. I do miss watching this unconventional family bond as that was the heart of the show. That it’s okay to become families with no blood relations. But apart from the icky brothers falling for her, the show is also making a point that “blood is thicker than water” when that wasn’t what it originally wanted to prove. Smh. Oh wells………I’ll just see Seven and Steven and Daddy Li in another drama then….

        4
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          This. I really wanted to say. The transition of Ling Xiao going from brother to boyfriend was really jarring and when they threw in Ziqui proposing and her freinds’ pain in the ass moms, I was annoyed af

          1
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    This is by the writers of Find Yourself!?! They took 180 degree turn on the portrayal of women lol. So glad she mentioned how both the parents of LX were responsible for the negligence. But I was more angry that Ling Pa’s wife was clearly losing it and this guy was always overworking and never discussing this with her in peace. 10 years later he was still working overtime 😕. But the show just made the women horrible bit I still haven’t from epispde six because I came across clips with the brothers making the move. Honestly I don’t have that big of an issue with Ling Xiao because JJ thinks of him as her future husband but Ziqui should have no place in the love triangle because JJ and ZQ were totally raised as siblings, LX can still be considered a very good family friend.

    3
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      But the show just made the women horrible. I still haven’t continued from episode six*
      Ugh typos sorry.

      1
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      I’ve not watched Find Yourself other than parts of the first episode. Actually, I found Song Weilong terrible, so I couldn’t continue. But I’ve seen a few raves about the show, maybe I should return to it.

      Besides making the women two dimensional, my annoyance was with the forced romance. Even with LX. Considering their upbringing, this was just downright uncomfortable. I was worried about the show going their early on, and now, it’s just ugh. I half heartedly stayed for 19 eps, and this rant was the last straw, and have now given up completely.

      3
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        Song weilong is the same in Go Ahead as he was in FY so if he was serviceable here, he may not be an issue there later on too but yes his lack of acting skills are clearly evident. FY improved as it went ahead, sth very rarely dramas get right. I think I don’t have much issue with LX because I saw it as a friends to lovers from the first time, also where I live cousin marriages are prevalent so people who grow up together don’t have any issue getting married too. That said idk how creepy it got in later episodes maybe the sudden transition is creepier. Also that the bond they showed was very sibling like so it’s harder to digest.

        If you need another cdrama recommendation I’ll say try Twenty your life on, it’s a very good portrayal of women in their 20s and their struggles while being fun and light hearted.

        2
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          Hm. I find Song Weilong the weakest link in Go Ahead too, by far. Also, I just can’t like him, for whatever reason, so I’m entering this biased already :p poor guy, not really his fault, it’s mine!

          I agree about the cultural context, and honestly, yeah, there are similar customary arrangements that are regarded as legitimate in my part of the world too – cousins, uncle and niece (!), etc. But I personally find these deeply problematic for many many reasons, so I can’t reconcile myself with this. It doesn’t get creepy, but definitely weirds out.

          Thanks for the recommendation on Twenty Your Life On. I wish this were available legally in my parts. I’m lazy about having to invest effort in watching elsewhere :/ but I remember AvenueX’s rave about this too, and maybe I’ll give it a watch.

          I tried an older cdrama, The First Half of My Life, but I thought that was all kinds of terrible too.

          For a transitioning society, the content that these dramas focus on is very telling. It seems as though the people behind these shows can’t decide whether to be conservative or progressive, and then make a royal mess of it all.

          Cdramas do depictions of family life well (and tend to reinforce conservatism there), but once they try to experiment, it goes out of hand. In sum, I seem to enjoy t-dramas more (I have watched very few of either, though, to be really fair). They are less unshackled, I feel.

          3
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            SWL is indeed the weakest actor in this drama. The dads are amazing and it will be hard to let go of watching such good acting but I never stay for that if the writing takes a wrong route. I was skeptical about this show from the trailers so it’s rather sad that it predictably went there.
            Twenty your life on is available on iqiyi app and iqiyi’s website iq. com for free. I thought iqiyi was available worldwide but maybe that’s not the case.

            3
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            Oh jbtw I started The first half of my life too. I guess mentioned it in an OT. I can understand why the show is popular, it is addicting, more like makjang but lord did I bail out when the ML and SFL were discussing in front of the FL that the reason her husband cheated was because the mistress earns and in a few years time, her husband won’t have much career growth. They were indirectly telling her that she has wasted her life but also how is that reasonable? Having 2 families now, this guy would have to pay for two families (even if he divorces his wife, he said he would pay for his child). So isn’t that extra expenditure lol. I guess that one thing just made my blood boil and that was the only episode I watched (I picked up a random episode 9 to see the big deal about this show). There are so many amazing housewives and stay at home moms in the world and I think that statement was downright degrading. Apparently both the ML and SFL were supposed to be the most practical and smart people around so we were supposed to think that whatever they are saying is right. Maybe this show would’ve improved later on because there are good reviews about it.
            I think your statement about transitioning society suits TFHOML very well. They totally messed it up thinking they were being progressive. I guess regarding transition, many societies are confused rn and they are in somewhere in the middle or total extremes. The T dramas I’ve watched, I’ve liked them too, for c dramas I guess I’ll go back to watching them for my* this show doesn’t take itself seriously* kind of fun which is reducing in kdramas over time.

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            @wapzy – thanks for the iq.com heads up – I didn’t look there originally! It is free in my region too 🙂 I will check out Twenty Your Life On. How does it compare with Nothing but Thirty, if you have watched both?

            And yeah, First half of my life – your random episode selection was totally representative of the rest of the show. I think I watched about 1/3rd of the full show, mainly out of curiosity to know why it was so popular. But it was so appalling and I couldn’t enjoy the regressive makjang (if it were like Unfamiliar Family, I might have!) – I dropped it.

            I have concluded, based on my limited viewing, that kdrama viewers are more discerning than cdrama viewers :p when a kdrama is bad, it gets rated badly most of the time!, but with cdramas, you can never really tell from the ratings.

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        You’ve stopped at the right episode Pickle. I wanted to stop at ep 20 after Zi Qiu started having weird thoughts about his own sister, but beanies were very appalled with ep 21 as that apparently was when things took at a worst turn that it would be hard for this show to redeem it. So I checked it out till episode 23 and yep it got worse and worse and I would advise to stop right where you are now. It’s not getting any better. 😤 This show is doing Steven dirty! Don’t ever work with this scriptwriter, Steven!

        And I would suggest you stop where you are too, wapz. You’ve seen the best episode in Go Ahead which is ep 5, and that’s good enough.

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          Yes famy I’m definitely dropping before it gets angsty. It’s sad that it predictably went where I wa skeptical that it might go from the teasers. It could be such a good family drama. Btw have have you checked Victoria Song’s new show?

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            Checking out the first ep now 🙂

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            I am very sad too, wapz! I loved it too much and too early 😭😭😭

            RE: Love Yourself – Victoria’s new drama, yes I am watching it. I finished ep 4 a couple of days ago, but I’m not sure I like it enough. I mean it wasn’t really a strong pilot episode, but I did like what I saw in the next 3 episodes. I liked seeing the girlfriends bond. I’ll see how much I can watch but so far, it’s… watchable.

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    I’m not watching, but one of my close friends was (she’s dropped it) and she mentioned having high hopes and being really annoyed when they were dashed. Ah well.

    2
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    This video perfectly summarized everything that is bothering me about this drama!
    I really dislike how they are treating JJ,her friends and the mothers, or the aunties. We don’t really get to know about JJ’s dreams or her goals, we don’t hear anything about JJ in those 10 years. Nothing is done about LX’s father or ZQ’s father, the BIL, I can’t believe there isn’t a change in their behaviour in 9/10 years. Then you see LX repeating the same behaviour to JJ, he is forcing his unwanted affection to JJ and then forcing ZQ to pursue JJ.

    4
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      For a show that is based on teh premise that family need not be blood relation, it really went back on its logic by making ZQ propose to his sister

      2
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Question of the Season: Will we get to see Hwang Shi-Mok smile again?

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    but his eyes sparkle when he is talking to bae doona or in company.. and how childlike obedience he displays towards her..

    m more curious if we will ever get a real romance here 🙂

    7
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    We haven’t seen his smile yet – I’m holding out hope that we’ll see it eventually, but we’re starting to see more of other expressions clearly – like annoyance (LOLS) which he barely showed in the last season. Also, it makes me wonder if his headache has improved/gone? And definitely wondering where Shi-mok and Yeo-jin would end up this season, personally and professionally. I’m not sure if a romance is in the books either, and if it is, I’d be down for it. :3 Anything to see Shi-mok smiles again~

    12
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      end of series they move in together and solve his problem of no house 🙂

      (they can’t right now because of this case)

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      His annoyance is showing so loudly: with DongJae, with his sunbaes, he’s just thinking: will all these people let me do my job?

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      I’m okay with no romance but I’d die of happiness if they gave us even just a tiny bit of it.

      5
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    I hope we do.
    But one thing is for sure: right now he’s tired. You can see it all over his face. He’s exhausted. He hasn’t a place to call his own yet. He needs to rest. His whole body and his annoyance expression is yelling let me rest.
    Once he rest and he can have a cup of udon with his friend, I think we will see his smile.
    ShiMok smiling is the medicine I need right now!

    5
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      And I love that tired look. As a storytelling ‘technique’, it’s working so well. The system is tiring. Nothing has changed. Things have become worse. What’s the point of being here. Etc. Etc.

      5
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      SM accepts his conditions as part of his life forever so just focus on work. He thought he would never be able to form any kind of relationship but end of S1 told him he could. He is more aware of his loneliness this time 🙁 I think part of him wishes to be living a normal life, With that and constant fight for justice and lack of emotional support (YJ was not there to make him smile) has wear him out. Hence the reason both YJ and SM look that way I think.
      Our weasel still looks as handsome as ever though 😂

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        Weasel is in A League Of His Own.
        He’s the real ML, is what I feel. The writer is trolling us with the ‘good guys’ that Shi-Mok and Yeo-Jin are. They are illusory. The real people are those who live life looking out for themselves, like Weasel.
        *Gosh, I’m such a fan.*

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    Feed him first~

    6
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    Hwang Shi Mok’s facial expression this season is mostly tired of everyone’s 💩 but I also feel like his expression has soften from season 1 and he’s been showing other expression as well such as annoyance. And I’d like to think that he smiled when he greets Kang Won Chul after a while (it wasn’t a full smile but at least his smile line turned up a bit)

    5
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      Shimok-Wonchul is a mentor-mentee relationship I’d like to see growing! I agree, he seemed definitely positive on seeing him.

      5
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    I’d like to see them more than friends less than lovers 😁 Please tease our romantic heart, writer! He give half smile whenever he see YJ but i want full bright smile.
    He knows about social niceties but doesn’t bother to follow. But he now even serve soup for his boss or get spoon for YJ, small gestures but huge change for him.

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      Agree, Woo Tae-ha and Kim Sa-hyun were all surprised when he left first and I was like, if only you’d known him when he was still stationed in the prosecutor office…

      5
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#FoS2 #Stranger2

Lee Joon Hyuk as Seo Dong Jae owns the screen completely when he’s in a scene. Every time I see him, I feel he’s the male lead in the show!  He’s crept up on me. I didn’t realize I had become such a fan!

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    He has always been that way. Even in City Hall where he was quite a novice, and beside a male lead of Cha Seung Won’s calibre, he owned any scene he was in.

    2
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      I know! Yeah, in City Hall, he was a little under the radar, and very green, but pretty good in the second half. I’ve said this before, but this show/season is making me say it even more: What A Star!

      1
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        I’m looking forward to watching this after it finishes.

        1
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          Oh you have some patience! I can’t wait that long 😀

          1
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            I don’t! I don’t have the patience to wait between episodes and I end up getting frustrated and disappointed!

            2
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    There is no Stranger without Dong-jae. The write has fun with his character this season and LJH owns it to the max.

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    He’s just the best, but I’m totally partial and absolutely devoted to LJH, in case you haven’t noticed.
    He’s just perfect in every single role he plays, and I love he can play any character: from nice guy, to cold assassin, to perfect employee, to sweet cute man in love, to the best weasel ever.

    2
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      Hahaha. I get it! What would you rate as his best performances, in order? I haven’t watched enough, though FoS1/2 is enough to tell me he’s clearly extremely talented!

      0
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        His best has been probably FoS, but he’s also extraordinary in Designated Survivor: 60 days. Those two characters are really grey and you can clearly see it. Another grey character he plays in Are you Human too?
        Then I loved him in 365: Repeat the year because (awwwww, he smiled soooooo much, but also it was an action drama), and in the Naked Fireman.
        You will have different opinions about his character in A Poem a Day. I enjoyed it, although is not his most likable character.
        Three best FoS, DS:60D and 365, if I have to choose.

        1
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#FoS2 #Stranger2

Beanies have already pointed out the smooth transitions in FoS2. I wanted to add screenshots of my favourite transition from this episode when ShiMok and the two cops at Segok PS miss each other:  

(1) ShiMok escapes the hoobae,
(2) missees the sunbae,
(3) hoobae chasing ShiMok thinks he has gone to the terrace,
(4) sunbae talks on the phone while ShiMok pulls out of the carpark in the background,
(5) hoobae opens the terrace door and sees sunbae instead.

I am no film student, but I loved this scene: it was 30 seconds (or less) of such fluid movement. Just. Wow. I was doubting the PD-nim for no reason.

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    Just watched ep4, in which it’s Yeo-jin’s turn to disconcert the poor hoobae, and in her own, very different way.

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Levelled up to \”Wrongly accused fugitive\”! Maybe it\’s because they thought I was trying to kill the bots (*shhh don\’t tell anyone it was just because I didn\’t succeed).

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The moment the ML realizes his feelings:
Into The Ring and WFKBJ
Those heartstrings in the background!

@eazal!!

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    Oh!!! This is so nice, I didn’t realize this!!!

    4
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    OH I didn’t even see those heartstrings as I was so busy enjoying the realization that was hitting him!

    3
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As I wait eagerly for the next installment of the happy pill that Into the Ring is, I thought I’d list out my halfway mark wishlist for the show’s endgame:

1. HEA for the OTP. Duh.
2. Se-ra gets re-elected by a simple and large majority 
3. Hee-soo joins forces with  Se-ra. They start a new political party called the Garden Tiger Moths Party, under the mentorship of Eun-shil (who fav eup her nomination to support Se-ra in the by-election). with the bar/bookstore as their basecamp.
4. Ja-ryong becomes President. 
5. Ex-Chairman Jo patches up with son Gong-myung, and heads to the National Assembly, where he promises to nominate Se-ra. 
6. Min-jae redeems himself, falls in love with Han-bi, and decides to work for her in running the bar/bookstore. He advises Ja-ryong in his presidential campaign.
7. GM returns to the Planning department, where he works with Se-ra to straighten the budget (thanks Silver! I can’t tag you because you’re unregistered).
8. Yong-kyu becomes Se-ra’s chief of staff/ secretary, under GM’s watchful guidance.
9. Se-ra’s parents become the chief campaigners for the Garden Tiger Moths party, wearing matching party merchandise while singing ‘blueberry yogurt cake’ (to the tune of ‘Tiramisu cake’). 

Anything else?

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    Ja-ryong has my vote! Also, mom can take over the position as the Sales’ Queen at the juice company, seeing Se-ra will be too busy with her political activities ><
    Next episode can't come quickly enough!

    4
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    Yeah I was just coming up with an arc for Han-bi and Min-Jae to stay in the picture somehow…. I agree with you. I wholeheartedly agree with “the emergence of GM’s forehead”!! One episode will not suffice. We demand at least a quarter of the series! 😀

    3
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    Yes to everything!!!!

    1
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    Yes for forehead!

    1
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Joining in the fun, though my list is constantly evolving:
10% My Ajusshi
10% Healer
10% Just Between Lovers
10% Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok ju
10% Hospital Playlist
10% My Unfamiliar Family
10% My Strange Hero
10% Stranger / Forest of Secrets
10% Nobody Knows
10% Reply 1988

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As much as I’m really enjoying the storytelling, cinematography, and performances in the delightful and quirky Into the Ring aka Memorials, I’m really really loving the music even more. The OST is great, and this indie rock-inspired piece by ‘9 and the numbers’ is my favourite so far (which I link to here). It has appeared at least once every episode so far, if I’m not mistaken. 

More than the OST, though, this is the first in a long time that I’ve seen a show get its background music right. This is a very thoughtfully-constructed BGM score, with fairly elaborate orchestration — not just piano and strings, for example; rhythm and percussion including through using finger snaps and hand drums take centrestage, reflecting the high-energy story itself. It is replete with comic elements, and sprinkled with leitmotifs. It’s a loud, unsubtle score (again, like the drama itself), you can’t ignore it (many times, there are scenes that use music to tell the story, instead of dialogue), and it’s as essential a part of the drama as the dialogue and the cinematography and the acting. 

Any show that gets its music right is usually a winner in my books! This one’s totally on that list!  

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    Everything is perfect so far!
    The music, the cinematography, the use of camera, the atmosphere, the songs, the acting, the quirkiness… everything!
    But I agree with you about the OST, it’s never out of place and suits every scene perfectly.
    Oh, these two are going to my top list of OTP ever.

    3
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      I know, right?! It’s getting so much right, it’s almost worrying. After every episode, and even during each episode, I pinch myself ever so often, wondering if what I’m watching is real and happening and so so good! This is already right up there as the best rom-com I have ever watched in kdrama land so far. I’m hoping the second half doesn’t jinx it.

      0
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    I too love the music, but what really intrigues me is the cinematography and constant use of wide angle lenses and the leading lines at the top or bottom of the screen.
    It is distracting at times because it’s so different and I find myself wondering what they are trying to say with this effect.
    But overall I have NO bad thoughts about this show – except that it will end at some point. 🙁

    3
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      You’re right about the use of wide angle lenses. I was wondering if was just to enhance the comic effect. Everything else in the show seems to be employed to exaggerate this aspect, in the coloring of the shots (neon, bright, sharp); the music (as I mentioned above), the wardrobe/costumes (Gong-myung’s awkward shortened pants, Se-ra’s frumpy look; her mom’s outlandish shirts); the locations (the bar/bookshop; the kids’ driving zone)…

      2
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      Oh and I agree with the no bad thoughts :/ But but but I can already see myself rewatching this a few times over. This feels like it will be my new Weightlifting Fairy.

      0
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    I’m loving this drama so much. They’re getting the background music and colour palette absolutely right. J love that the drama doesn’t try to be something it’s not and keeps things simple

    1
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Yun Tae-hyun in My Unfamiliar Family
#MemorableCharacters

As the wonderfully addictive My Unfamiliar Family wraps up its final week, I wanted to highlight one character in the story who really stood out for me. Yun Tae-hyun, played admirably by Kim Tae-hoon. I would not say that it was fine acting, because the poor guy didn’t really have much of a role. His wasn’t even a particularly well fleshed-out character (and in fact, that might have been one of the show’s few flaws), for he was always shown through another’s gaze, and we never truly got to understand what was going on in his mind. 

But the way in which the show used his character to reveal the disintegration in our social fabric was very special, and in my limited viewing experience, unprecedented in kdramas at least. The show was always respectful, and never reductionist, in its depiction of Tae-hyun’s situation. It was also deftly brutal in its takedown of the prejudiced ones around him, while recognising that this was only the beginning, and a blank slate could not be served up overnight. 

As an epecially close observer of the legal and policy changes around it in my country, I know that statutory recognition is but the first step towards normalising homosexuality. There is so, so, so much more to do, and such a long road to traverse before heteronormativity can be discarded and true diversity be embraced. Most importantly, the first stop on that road is ourselves. This show forces a confrontation with the self, and with the deep biases that have to be uprooted before any real change can be said to happen. This is a universal truth, and for this reason alone, this show was an accomplishment of no mean order.

I am excited as to what the future holds for the drama industry after this show: I can only hope it doesn’t regress after having taken this very assertive step forward.

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    I totally agree.
    I think we’ve already talked a little before about the subject in one of the comments (at least I have). There are very few dramas in which we’ve dealt with homosexuality. Love with flaws was one of them and I liked the way it dealt with it: the gay character was just another character who felt in love with a guy and who was accepted and loved by his family. Just as it should be. I loved the way it normalized that fact. And I also know that wouldn’t be so normal in such a traditional country, and that’s why I appreciate the approach MUF has shown us.

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      Yes we discussed it in the comments section somewhere as well. I just wanted to memorialize it on my fanwall 😀 I haven’t watched Love with flaws, for whatever reason, I couldn’t get to it. But you’re right – this is exactly where we need to get to, and way beyond as well. I’m so happy popular culture is slowly mainstreaming this.

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    Of the MUF couples, the EJ-TH arc is the one I look forward to the most when every new episode comes along. This is probably because EJ is the character I care the most but TH as a character is heartbreaking to watch every single time. And they know each other to the bone and would have been soulmates if with different circumstances. The way the drama treats him is, as you say, respectful but with not a lot of explicit narrative about his thoughts – Kim Tae-hoon’s portrayal is a standout. He manages to navigate the rather limited lines and ambiguity to elevate this character’s arc that earns audience’s understanding and empathy. His ‘natural’ affinity with EJ’s family is quite compelling when he virtually is not in talking terms to his own.

    I reckon Ep 15 maybe his last episode as EJ moves to her next phase of life. Even though it’s a drama character, I wish the Tae-hyuns out there able to find their happiness.

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      “I wish the Tae-hyuns out there able to find their happiness.” So well put! My thoughts exactly. No Tae-hyun anywhere in the world should have to go through what he did, or be in a situation where he has to put an Eun-joo through so much as he did. It wasn’t fair on him or on her.

      And I loved how the show developed the EJ-TH arc so organically as a combination of fate, free will, the desire to fit into society, and the demands of society itself. This is true of everyone’s stories. How you navigate all this mess is what makes your story special.

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        So pleased with the EJ-TH scene in the final episode – finding peace with who you are sounds simple but yet the hardest thing to achieve for so many of us.

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My Unfamiliar Family is the most perfectly-crafted kdrama I have seen in a long, long time. Not a scene is wasted. No role is unwanted. No conversation is meaningless. All characters have a growth arc that is uniquely their own (and it helps that the actors are so darn talented all around – even the extra side ones who make bit part appearances, who leave you wanting more). 

There have been many shows I have enjoyed over the past few months, and very few make it to the perfect list. While I’m holding out on my final verdict until the last couple of episodes are aired next week (and wondering how I will recover from the show), I am reasonably confident this is going to make that list!

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    Totally agree with you.

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      In fact I’ve just share something about this after watching episode 14 and I think I’ve quoted you and I wanted to tag you, but I’m on the phone and it won’t let me!

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    Yes! Yes! Yes!

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    Yup, just said in another post that this is a 10/10 drama and I hope the final two episodes won’t disappoint.

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    I totally agree, and I’m also curious, @pickleddragon, what else is on your perfect list?

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      Aah, good question, @lindag latebloomer! Although, I’m afraid my rather predictable answer will disappoint you.(I’ll be keen to hear yours too, in response!, btw, as well as whether you agree or disagree with mine.)

      First, though, what are my criteria for labelling a drama perfect? It has to check many boxes, which, off the top of my head that I can think of, being these:
       
      — A story / theme that is universal  
      — Cast, not just the leads, but also the sides and the extras
      — OST + BGM
      — The whole technical package – cinematography, editing, costumes, palettes, set direction, etc.
      — Narrative consistency and integrity (i.e., no character/storyline copouts; consistent short/medium/long arcs, etc.)
      — No wasting of airtime (i.e., respectful of audience time and attention spans)

      Based on this list, I have the following “perfect” dramas:
      Stranger, My Ahjusshi, Healer, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo.

      Objectively speaking, the tw-drama Some Day or One Day is on this list too, but falls short for personal reasons explained below. I’m also working my way through the absolutely fine c-drama The Bad Kids, which, from the looks of it, will make this list too. And of course, I’m waiting with bated breath for My Unfamiliar Family to end.

      Which dramas did I really enjoy that *just* missed the cut, and why?:

      Misaeng A few episodes longer than it need have been
      Reply 1988 Lack of context for non-Korean viewers. I thought a lot of stuff was lost in translation or even mistranslated (I can’t verify this, obv.) which took away from the director/writer’s original meaning.
      Be Melodramatic Too large and unwieldy a cast, and a loveline too many, making it difficult to keep track of.
      My Huckleberry Friends A c-drama that, IMHO, is a classic textbook example of a cliched, tropey coming-of-age school story, told so well, checking all the boxes, except for the darned timeskip in the last two episodes. If those two eps weren’t there, this would have waltzed into my list above.
      Some Day or One Day This also checked all the boxes, but a personal dislike of time travel/scifi stories and the many leaps of faith needed to imagine the story to life made it hard to pick.  
      Nobody Knows Desperately needed a tighter episode run, cut by at least 4 episodes.
      School 2013 Its dismissal of the girls in the classroom as mere props was a turn-off – as though they didn’t deserve their own arcs at all, but for the rest of it, it was an outstanding show. 

      NB: As a recent asian-drama watcher (July marks my one-year anniversary!), obviously my portfolio of watched dramas is very limited, both in number and in scope – for example, I am sure there are many older dramas that might objectively make this list, but not watched.

      NB2: Apologies for the long reply. You clearly unleashed something inside of me!

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