Beanie level: Errand boy

The World Between Us
A 10-on-10 show

There are some shows that you really don’t know how to respond to, other than just stand up and applaud, and this one recently got added to that list of mine. I got curious after I discovered that the scriptwriter of Dear Ex and The Arc of Life had also written The World Between Us, besides the fact that this show had won a bunch of awards. At the end of a 10-episode binge of this taiwanese drama over 3 days, I figured why it was rated so highly, and completely agreed. My quick notes:
 
— Without spoiling too much, I’ll just say that this show is set in the aftermath of a violent incident, and through the points of view of the families of both the victims and the perpetrator, discusses a range of issues.  
— The themes are wide-ranging, from retributive justice, to post traumatic stress, to mental health, to criminal psychology, to media trials… This makes it a serious watch. But if, like myself, these are questions you have occasionally pondered over, you will not regret having watched this at all. To be able to tackle such a range in such a short span of time, and not make it seem preachy or pretentious, is a phenomenal achievement.
— There were some things I wish were discussed more (e.g., capital punishment), and there were some things I wish were less melodramatic, especially after the climactic mid-point, but I will put that down to creative license.
— The casting was excellent, although I was more partial to the actresses than to the actors.
— I loved the small editorial and production touches in the show, such as, how the closing credits changed as the episodes went by, how the palette changed, the documentary-style hand-held cinematography.
–The story is very real, and I imagine everyone would have experienced at least some aspect of the story themselves. I have, certainly.
— The fact that all the characters belonged to the same dramatic universe was extremely contrived, but it was used as a means to highlight ideological clashes, and give different points of view, and only enriched the storytelling.
— The end also deviated a bit from the realism of the rest of the show, but that’s okay. I’m not complaining.

Overall, this is a 10 on 10 in my books, and joins a very select group of shows. I won’t forget it in a while, and will be recommending it onwards quite regularly now. Please bear with me. 😂

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    wow you’ve already finished it !
    Glad that you’ve found it and that you’ve enjoyed it 🙂 .
    I agree with many points you wrote, can’t comment a lot but here’s the post I made about it when I finished it 😉
    https://www.dramabeans.com/members/kudoran/activity/908113/

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      I binged this 😂 I found it a really compelling watch. But it makes sense that you watched one episode a day. It’s a show to be savoured. Your review dates to before I became active on DB, so I missed it when you put it out! But it’s perfect. I like how we have used similar words to describe it – raw, real, documentary style… We picked on the same things!

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    Where did you watch this? I’m intrigued!

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      I had to darkside it because it’s not available for me here anywhere. I believe though that a bunch of other options might be available for some folks: Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, even some Netflix regions. (I’m not sure of licensing restrictions though!)

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    Yes, it’s been on my watchlist since forever and from all accounts, a 10/10 drama. Will watch ASAP.

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      Awesome yes please do! I hope you find it as thought-provoking and interesting as I did

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    It’s really is so so good! The main actress is fantastic and now that you tell me the screenwriter is the same from Dear Ex and Arc of Life, it makes so much sense why I loved this. I liked the main actor, too, but I have seen him in other things and brought some baggage from those roles with me.

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      I liked all the actresses, actually – the perpetrator’s brother, the news editor, the juice shop owner… The actors were okay, and played their parts. But I can’t say I’m a fan. I agree with you – I had baggage regarding the two male leads – the lawyer and the journalist – but the third chap, the director/brother was great. So different from his Arc of Life role, almost unrecognizable here.

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Just Dance
A happy binge

While everyone is raving about Navillera, I thought I’d use this occasion to write about the “other” dance show that the kdrama world has produced – Just Dance. When I first saw the title and the poster of this drama, I thought this would be your run-of-the-mill coming-of-age drama, about a bunch of underdog kids winning a dance contest, finding their dream, etc., etc. For the longest time, I kept away from this for this reason. I didn’t want to watch another cliched story. What a surprise I was in for when I finally started, and binged it!, over one weekend.

It was eight hour-long episodes about a young girl and her classmates navigating through family, love and life in their last year of high school. A group of underdogs come under the wing of a caring teacher, who teaches them dance and life lessons while they figure out their future.  On paper, it’s a very simple story.  But in execution, it dealt with some very complex issues, showing incredible depth in the story writing especially towards the end of the show.

The tagline of this show should have been, “the pursuit of happiness” (literally, although there’s a hat tip to the movie somewhere in between the show as well). The romance was incidental and I paid limited attention to that. The questions tackled were of a serious philosophical order: What is happiness? What makes someone happy? Does the answer to happiness lie in achieving your goal? What happens if you don’t have a goal? How long do you / must you keep trying to achieve your goal? How do you distinguish the feeling of happiness from a merely ‘pleasant’ feeling?

Along the way, it also very briefly touched on darker topics such as suicide, depression, mental health, but in a way that embraced the larger warmer tone of the drama. (Indeed the drama had this warm film to it, that gave it a dreamlike feeling).

This was the first in a long time that I could actually relate to the characters. The conversations and the internal monologues of the schoolgirls felt very real and personal, and reminded me of my own monologues and conversations with friends and peers. It assured me that everyone goes through the same things, and that there really are no answers, and sometimes, just the act of asking the questions is the beginning you need.  

I also paid closer attention to the form of storytelling, since the director is the same as that of the very fine Forest of Secrets 2. I realised a few similarities. The director has terrific control over the story. This story was a quiet story, even though it was about young adults and dance (both being subjects that would be termed “high energy”). But the director employed some interesting tricks to imbue the story with action, notably through using multiple camera angles for every dialogue. I don’t know the technical terms for it, but in almost every conversation, we had close ups, long shots, POV shots, diagonal frames, zoom outs.

The other thing I noticed was the movement between these shots and between scenes generally – it was so smooth and seamless! there was no awkward cutting or interruption. The editing was absolutely top class. These are two features that were immediately comparable with FOS2. I came away with the thought that this director knows what he’s doing, for sure.

Overall, this show comes highly recommended for those who haven’t seen it. For those who have and who’ve recommended this to me over the past several months, thank you 🙏 This was truly a beautiful find!

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    Dancesport girls! This was such a terrific gem of a watch.

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    I too watched this on a whim last year and it was SO good.

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    I had been waiting for you review, and it’s worth it!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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      You were the primary reason I watched this 😁 Thank you for the recommendation!! ❤️

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        I liked the drama so much.
        As I told you I felt also that PD was able to create that oppressive feeling I also felt in FoS2. In my opinion it related with the use of light as well as the editing you mentioned.

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          Yes yes yes! The similarity was so obvious. It was such a quiet show, but very stifling and you were left gasping. It could be just technique. But wow, so powerfully done!

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    This is one of my favorite dramas! I should rewatch it again soon.

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Nobody Knows was live airing this time last year. 😍 Nothing like that has come so far this year. 😩Wondering if Taxi Driver or Law School will make the cut. 😢

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    Have you seen Beyond Evil?

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      No, I haven’t.
      Are you trying to bait me into commenting on your OT😅

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        LT is the strongest proponent of BE these days.

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          Haha, yes! I am more tempted to join the Vincenzo brigade, than the BE one, honestly. I watched the first two eps live, and quite enjoyed them. Maybe I should catch up before the finale airs next week.

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            You definitely should Pickle, even when I’m not so sure what’s so good about Vinnie and the gang. Having peeps to gush about a show is just so much fun I can imagine that.
            I feel a little sorry for dear LT since she wants to have friends to gush about BE but I can’t. 🥺

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            Vincenzo is a hoot but Beyond Evil is a really well written crime drama. It doesn’t have any ducklings, though. It is sans ducklings.

            PS I’ve given up hoping that people will comment on the OT. Other than Waadie. She loves me.

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            LT you and your sense of humor! 😂😂😂
            Many love you, I can assure you that – Waadie in particular I suppose.

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      Ooh, “really well written crime drama” sounds very attractive indeed. It’s coming to Netflix here over the weekend. I shall dip toes and see. Thank you for the sell.
      (why does Viki only have 2 eps up when it’s almost ending?!)

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      Now that it’s finally on a platform I have access to (viki) I’m going to start it! Just as soon as subs are up.

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      It’s finally available on Viki!!!
      Ready to watch this weekend and comment on your blog!

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      I second Beyond Evil.

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It\’s a quarter of the year in, and I haven\’t earned a Bean as yet. Should I be worried? Do I need to get myself examined? Does someone need to write me a prescription? ☹️😐😶

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    It’s okay. I havent got a bean too. Maybe watch a completed drama while waiting for a new drama? I have several recommendations 😆

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      Kat, you’re watching Sisyphus (even if mainly to send me CSW gifs😂). And all those makjangs. You’ll get bean/s soon.

      And completed dramas, eh? I wonder which you mean?…

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    You are not alone. I’d be lucky to get 5 by the end of the year.

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      I know!! I was looking through the list of kdramas planned for the year – some list on a website somewhere – and gosh, nothing looked compelling!

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    Have you counted Taiwanese or Chinese dramas? I was under the impression you were watching one or two of those.

    Overall, this year seems to be more disappointing in terms of dramas than last year. That said, I’m still enjoying Vincenzo. I started watching Navillera and really quite like the first two episodes. I’m going to give Oh My Landlord a shot, too.

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      Oh I was thinking only of kdramas. I didn’t count tw- and c-dramas. I guess I have 2 or 3 there…

      Actually, Maq, you might enjoy You are my Hero, if you haven’t started watching already. The ML, Bai Jingting, is quite the ML, and the FL is Sandra Ma (one of my girlcrushes!).

      Navillera seems too melo, and I didn’t like Song Kang’s poster stills – he didn’t pull off the dancer vibe – I can’t help but compare with someone like Luo Yunxi (of Love is Sweet, whose every movement is grace). I should probably give it a shot, though. I didn’t stick with Vincenzo. And ep1 of the Nana-LMK drama was cute, but it didn’t jump out at me. Oh well. It’s a kdrama slump, methinks.

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        I had the same feelings about Song Kang from the teasers, as I wasn’t convinced he could pass as dancer, but I was pleasantly surprised he did. Also, the vibes I’m getting from Navillera are When the weather is nice meets My Unfamiliar Family (mentioning MUF may catch your attention…).

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          Navillera is definitely a melo, but I actually find the plotline involving Park In-hwan very refreshing and humane. Song Kang probably is the weaker lead in this, but I find I’m pleasantly surprised with him, as well. He also does pass as a dancer, surprisingly! I don’t if they’re just using an amazing body double or what, but I buy him as a dancer. It also seems like Song Kang worked on his body for this role; he seems to have put on muscle and it makes him seem more believably as an actor.

          I have a whole bunch of TW and C-dramas in my backlog now! I think I’m still in mourning from Skate Into Love tbh. Is that weird? I hope it’s not.

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            I saw some teasers, in which they conveniently avoided showing his face/head when showing him using the barre and stuff. I definitely think it’s a double. But you’re both – you and Eazal – pushing me towards this. I’ll have to give it a watch at least!

            I think You Are My Hero might undo Skate Into Love feels. Although, I think we’re entering angst territory now that we’re at the halfway mark of the show. But so far, it’s been all kinds of delightful.

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          Hahaha – you know what the keywords are!! 😂 Okay okay, I’ll check it out.

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    I have three beens and only Run On is memorable.

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      Oh Run On counts?! For some reason, I thought it was a 2020 drama. It’s been so long since I enjoyed anything. Sigh.

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        I counts and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed any airing drama other than this. I’ve liked some dramas from other years (18 Again, Prison Playbook and Because this is our first life).

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          Ooh, speaking of old dramas, I watched (and LOVED) Just Dance! I wrote a review also, but forgot to post. I’ll put it up soon.

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    Are you me? Let’s get the prescription together. I haven’t watched anything since Run On and am not that invested in anything now. Will give Navillera a shot and Oh Joonim first episode felt lacking so the dramaland future looks bleak.

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      OMG same!! I’ll ask the doc for duplicate prescriptions 😂

      I also felt the same about Oh Jooinim!! And Navillera seems too melo for my state of mind right now, among other things.

      I’ve been watching cdramas and twdramas meanwhile. There are 1 or 2 that turned out okay. Magic Moment (twdrama), and the currently airing You Are My Hero. You might like both, I think. 🙂

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        Yes get one for me too 😂
        I may not continue Oh! Master, let’s see but I was bored the first episode.
        Secondly, Navillera was on my list but I’m not in the mood. Watching a melo when I’m not really in the mood has never worked well for me. I watched Weather and MUF when I was not in the mood of sth heavy and rather than distracting me they provided food to my weird mood lol. Eventually I dropped them both before completion because I was exhausted and it was never the show’s fault. I fell I’ll do the same to Navillera so I’m being conscious. But there’s nothing good upcoming either.
        I will check out your recs though. Also yes I started a webdrama to fill in the slump. How to be Thirty. I’m surprised that it isn’t sub par as most web dramas and is actually going at a good pace and I look forward to next episode. Plus it’s on Viki and only 20 minutes long. It’s not something out of the world but it’s good enough.

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          Also I dropped by discord and saw a poster. Is it your birthday? Happy Birthday!!!

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            Thank you for the wishes, wapzy! 😊
            I will check out the web drama you mention. Short eps sound like they will go with my attention span these days. 😂

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    No beans here either. My hope is LMK and Nana will be my first bean of 2021.

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      Yes! I started it as well. Hoping it’s the hit we’ve all been waiting for 😊 Otherwise, we’ll have to wait longer…

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        Everything has been so dark. I don’t need or want dark or heavy feelings. I’ve got too much reality in my reality, so I want FUN.

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          Hello, Me! is fun (although the small amount of bathroom humor is not my thing).

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            I watched the first two episodes. Enjoyed them, and yet just can’t be bothered to press play on episode three. I’m broken.

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            @egads It gets so much better. Honest.

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            I tried this too. The bathroom humour was no fun, for sure. I have been watching it off and on at 1.5x speed. Stopped a couple of weeks or so ago, I think. I have a feeling this might end up being a drop. Unless I muster up the inclination to finish.

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          Yes exactly this!! I can’t deal with dark or melo right now. There’s too much depressing stuff IRL that I want to get distracted away from. Dark is not helping. 🙁

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    Last year was a slow year for me, but right now I’m having trouble fitting in all the dramas I want to watch.

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      Ha, impressive! Last year I locked in about 10-12 dramas in total. I had already begun by the start of the year. I’m nowhere in comparison right now. That’s what got me wondering.

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    I have/will have lots of beans, as usual, but this is definitely the year of the sageuk, dark dramas, sci-fi and makjang, and I’m getting tired.

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      You know – the one genre I’m kinda waiting for is the 1980s Korea themed shows that are in the works. Some political intrigue, some modern history, some retro stuff. That might potentially be something I will be interested in.

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    2021 has been lacklustre so far…. especially when 2020 was pretty good.

    I have only finished Mr Queen and Run On, both leftover from last year. Currently only watching Hello Me which seems on track for completion. The new lots seem promising but will wait till more reviews available

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      Yes! I couldn’t go beyond ep1 of Mr Queen 😂 And Hello Me is not engaging me enough – I did try harder for that though. I think the pandemic may have taken its toll belatedly…

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    Does Startup count? Because if it doesn’t I, too, have 0 beans. Though I’m watching and enjoying Vincenzo a lot (it’s crazy fun), so hopefully will bag that bean.

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      I think Startup is well and truly and 2020 show? Glad you’re enjoying Vincenzo ! I watched and kinda liked the first two eps, and thought I’d stick with it, but somehow couldn’t bring myself to hit play the following weeks…

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Kdrama PPL makes it to the Arts pages of the New York Times. It\’s peppered with references, but they missed out on some of the best. No Dyson. No TKEM. No Be Melodramatic: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/14/business/media/subway-product-placement-korea.html

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    This is such a let-down. Talking about Kdrama PPL without mentioning either Dyson or TKEM is just wrong. So wrong.

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      A true cynic might ask whether Subway paid to be featured in the article or Dyson paid to not be mentioned.

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        *bows*

        Very impressive assumptions.

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        I certainly considered the former (and think it’s very likely true – what are the odds of a brand name appearing in the headline of a news article), though not the latter.

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So I watched three premieres this week of (what I thought was) this fairly uninteresting crop of dramas. Nothing jumps out at me, but if I had to choose, I’d pick Vincenzo over Sisyphus or Hello? It’s Me. There were many issues, episode length and too much slo-mo, to begin with. But the cast appears cray cray enough, show is not taking itself too seriously, and the Korean-accented Italian (with SJK sounding like he’s struggling to read off a teleprompter) is the source of many laughs already. I might check out the next episode of this, then. Maybe.

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    Totally agree with you. I didn’t know what this was about and was just enjoying SJK’s pretty face. But there were so many times I had to replay a scene from laughing so much.
    And the music is spot on. The shower scene especially. I enjoyed the first episode with the introduction of all the tenants.
    So let’s hope it stays as goofy with episode 2.

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      The music made me laugh so many times!

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      Yes yes yes, to the music!! It was definitely one of the better things about the episode!!! Thank goodness they didn’t break into Kpop-inspired BGM. What was in fact chosen was very appropriate indeed

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      Agree with all of this! I’ll also just add that the visuals as a whole in this show are amazing. The opening with the dream of the collapsing building, the scene with the vineyard going up in a conflagration as the car sped away, and really all of the scenes where SJK is up front and center are really nice to look at.

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    His Italian is not that bad, in fact. I think it’s better than his English. But he couldn’t pass as someone who’s lived all his adult life in Italy, his pronunciation isn’t bad at all, but he totally lacks intonation, specially considering how musical Italian is. And even so, as I said, it wasn’t that bad.
    It was funny how the Italian sentences were softened so, so much when translated, that was even funnier.
    I read that he didn’t know a word of Italian so he and his coach have done a really, really good job.
    He got all the “cazzo” correctly 😂😂😂

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      I could tell his intonation was off, he kept saying every sentence in the same way- but it’s good to know he’s not that bad lol.

      They softened a lot of the Korean in translation too- which for Netflix is a bit of a shocker… what with their 2019 habit of throwing the F word in subs when nobody was talking lmao

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      Besides the intonation, what also gave him away was how *slowly* he spoke. My recollection of Italian on the streets is that the words per minute is much higher than most others, and of course, it’s very animated – the use of hands as you say – like the Spanish. These were all giveaways. But good to know that he’s done a decent job otherwise!

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    I like it. It’s not amazing or anything, but it’s fun and wacky and SJK is lovely to look at. The side characters are all weird but funny.

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It\’s not just me who doesn\’t know what to pick up next for a live watch. Even DB doesn\’t seem to know what to recap next! There\’s nothing added after💄 sunbae. Hah.

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    I know what I’ll be watching in March (Mouse is out March 3) but there’s a whole month till then and I have no plans.

    Maybe I should do something other than watch kdramas 😅

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      yeah @wapz suggested Mouse to me too! I’m not sure I’ll pick it up if it has a sci-fi angle though. That doesn’t excite me :/

      If this is up your alley, I’d recommend what I just started live-watching: A tw-drama about three women entrepreneurs, slice of life / office drama, called “The Arc of Life”. I loved the first 4 eps I watched already. 2 eps out every Sunday. I am able to access this on iQiyi. I think this is going to be my live-watch for the next few weeks now.

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        It’s been ages since I watched a tw drama, I might check it out – would need to get iqiyi though, hmmm

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        Taiwanese drama-slice of life-women entrepreneurs.
        These words go so well together. Planning to check it out today.
        I remember the time there used to be a dearth of slice of life dramas in C, K and T dramas and I was left waiting and complaining after watching Misaeng that why do they not make such shows more often. Now we’re blessed with lots of them, even if some are just preachy and nothing else but unfortunately they are not in the next kdrama batch. Looking forward to no kdrama at all for now.

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    RUN ON is my only live drama right now. My card is going to fill up soon however with RIVER WHERE THE MOON RISES, VINCENZO and probably a couple of others.
    One romantic mystery/dramedy (?) was not on my radar but I just added it to my queue on Viki (US) after watching this teaser for DEAR M. I never thought I would hear Julie Andrews singing in a kdrama:
    https://twitter.com/kdrama_news/status/1356750301773004803

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      OMG!!! I didn’t know whether to sing along or LOL while watching this!!!

      I have watched bits of the web drama of which this is supposed to be a spinoff, and it’s cute. This might be too. I doubt that this will be a mystery though. I think it’s an all out rom com.

      I’d have pencilled in VINCENZO if it had shown signs of being a comic thriller / action comedy, but so far, it does not.

      (RUN ON is my only current live watch too! – I can’t usually live watch more than one show at a time. I started the tw-drama The Arc of Life as my backup, although I’d have liked a kdrama to fill in the gap. Sigh.)

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        Glad you enjoyed it. Likewise I found myself humming along.

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        Speaking of tw-dramas, did you happen to watch YONG JIU GROCERY STORE (2019)?
        I had it on my Viki queue for awhile and let it drop but I remember it get good reviews and since I am between dramas I think I will try to work it in. Ten episodes is also a plus.

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          Yes! YJGS was lovely! I highly recommend it. When the Taiwanese do a good job with a drama, they do a darned good job.

          Another tw-drama from last year in the same genre – meditative, minimalist, thoughtful, and slice of life – that I really liked was “I, MYSELF” (also ~10 eps, I forget the exact number). It doesn’t have outstanding performances, but the storyline was very unusual, and felt very personal to me (it analysed the spectrum between solitude and loneliness, in and outside of relationships). I loved the theme and the presentation. I don’t know if this is up your alley, though. The few folks who watched it on my recommendation preferred YJGS over this.

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    Cdramas 🤔🤔🤔😏😏😏

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    I’ll give it a try to LUCA and to River where the Moon rises, mainly because they’re on Viki.
    As for the rest, I really don’t know.

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      Yeah, I’m not excited about those two.
      I’m going through my back catalogue instead – besides the tw-drama that I started.
      And oh I binge-finished JUST DANCE!!!
      I LOVED it, like you said!!
      I have plans of putting up a fanwall note on it sometime soon.

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        I knew!! It’s such a gem!
        When I was watching FoS2, the oppressive atmosphere and the tiredness of the leads remind me so much to this drama, I was all the time wondering if that “I can’t breathe” feeling was part of the PD’s touch.

        Oh, and regarding new dramas, I’m dying to watch Vincenzo because it can be such a disaster… or maybe a fantastic one (I’m leaning on my first option though), and because I need to see SJK speaking Italian and acting as an Italian in his heart. I could even pay to watch this…

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          Italian SJK 😂

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          For me, the biggest common factor between FOS2 and JD was a technical thing: the super-smooth transition between the camera angles and the scenes, and the multiple camera angles to show the same conversation from different POVs. I don’t know if this was an editorial decision or if the director had some control. Seeing the similarity, I feel the director had something to say (unless it’s the same editor-director combination working here).

          The oppressive atmosphere – hmmm – My note to self while watching JD was that it was seemingly a very simple story (coming-of-age + underdogs winning), but actually sooo much more complex. This was definitely because of the script, but the director also made sure that the script didn’t collapse into the stereotype. I loved it. It’s a top quality show.

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I binge-watched the tw-crime drama The Victims’ Game this week. It comes recommended! When the Taiwanese make a good show, they make a good show! Spoilery notes below.

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    Eight episodes, short and easily bingeable. I liked a few things and didn’t like a few things.
    The things I liked:

    — I liked that it had one single story and was not a procedural, which can get boring.
    — I liked that it tackled issues that most shows would be nervous to tackle, head on, e.g., mental health, sexuality. It was not done disrespectfully or nonchalantly, and the character sketches for this purpose were on point.
    — I liked that it was a short series (8 eps), and it was divided well.
    — I loved that there was no romance.

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    Things I didn’t like:

    — Although the topics discussed were serious and were well chosen, they couldn’t be discussed in depth, e.g., sexuality needed a much deeper dive than the due it was given. So the pacing was a little off.
    — One or two actors didn’t sit well with me. I know many thought Ruby Lin was great, but I thought it was a bit OTT.
    — I also thought some parts were really slowed down – too much slow mo makes me lose patience.

    Overall, I give this a thumbs up. It’s a good crime drama, not great though. Totally bingeable. (TBH, I think my own problem is that I kept comparing it with Stranger, and the standard eccentric/odd ML type format, which I thought this was a marginally lesser version of).

    0
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Run On is so pointless, but so well done, and such fun! I hope this sets a trend. I can watch many countless hours of this kind of drama.

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    I could watch another 16 hours of Run On.

    I’d love to see more dramas like this one. I don’t need a lot of drama in my dramas, just give me fun characters and situations.

    9
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    I agree, more to such stuff. It’s weirdly relaxing, totally in a league of its own. And is surprisingly making unlikable traits likeable. It was only today that I noticed Seo Dan Ah is a huge narcissist and they are very hard to like in real life but SDA is girl crush.

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      I agree as well! It’s really relaxing and introspective, and it doesn’t try so hard to sell itself as a “human drama” or “healing drama,” making it flow naturally, just like how life should be.

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      I like the alpha female they’ve tried to make SDA out to be. TBH, I’m still not getting the romance there, but I like her as a character otherwise.

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Considering the many side characters (outside of the 4 leads) that populate the dramaverse of Run On, I am pleasantly surprised at how invested I am in all of them. I’d sign up to watch spinoffs on all of these stories:

— Kim Eun Bi – her rise to fame as a top ranking pro golfer, her role as protective noona, and her relentless pursuit of Ryan
— May Unnie – how she built her own company after starting out as a translator, and how Mi-joo came into her fold, and why is she “asexual”
— Mr Jeong – closet cat lover, rare smile-giver, and how he came to join the Seo group and become Dan-Ah’s person
— Young-il – how did he become No. 1, and how did he break through Seongyum’s invisible walls
— Coach Bang – how did she become a top athlete and sought-after coach? Will the tweenagers she’s coaching now teach her how to use a smartphone properly?
— Yook Ji Woo – her rise as an A-lister, Cannes-winning actress, why did she marry the buffoon that is Assemblyman Ki
— The Japchae Story – the relationship between Seungyum, Eunbi and their housekeeper
— Dong Kyung — played by the utterly gorgeous Seo Eun Kyung, and her family; why she doesn’t want her daughter to become a boxer; and her son’s unrequited love 
— Wooshik’s grandma, the cleaning lady, and her best friend, the restaurant owner
— PD Hui Jin – how did she get into the movie business?, what’s her relationship with May unnie and Mijoo 
— Taewoong – the history of AtoZ, the Alphabets, and his life in the States
— Indeed, the siblings Seo – that would make for a great makjang, I’m sure. Three children from three wives. Who gets the family fortune? 

Full credit to the writer for this truly wonderfully sketched cast of characters.

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    Yes to all points! They’re not just there as side characters that gets the main leads to move but you can totally imagine them having a life of their own. Cheers to the writer for making us feel that way towards them!

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      So true! That’s exactly what she’s done with these characters – they’re not props, but real people, leading their own lives, who just happen to intersect with our leads at some point of time. This is something I have rarely seen in kdramas.

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    Are Tae-woong and Myung-min from different mothers? Also, I thought Tae-woong’s mom never married Chairman Seo? The woman doing the funeral rites for Dan-ah’s mom was supposedly Myung-min’s mom, right? Unless the way it work was the Chairman married Dan-ah’s mom, Dan-ah came into the world, Myung-min came into the world, at some point the Chairman either divorced Dan-ah’s mom or Dan-ah’s mom passed away, the Chairman married Tae-woong’s mom and she had Tae-woong, Tae-woong’s mom passed away or she divorced the chairman, and then, finally, the Chairman married Myung-min’s mom.

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      I thought they were different mothers 😂 I thought they were all half siblings to one another! maybe I’m wrong. Your explanation made eyes go 😳

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        I also thought they were also half siblings because in one episode (I don’t know which one) Seo Dan ah told her brother that he’s always saying Tae woong is a bastard which he is also but seems to be forgetting because their dad forged everything to make him the elder brother. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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      in all of this family puzzle, what’s the most annoying is the Chairman’s carefree irresponisble casual response to all this. He really doesn’t seem to care very much about how he has messed up his children.

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        Reminds me a little of Gong Myung’s father in Into The Ring, where there too, the assemblyman used his family to his benefit, and the son broke away out of frustration and disgust.

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      Also thought they all have different mothers cause I seem to remember the father making a remark about having 3 wives..? Tho not sure whether all are legal marriages. Maybe Tae-woong’s mom is a foreigner and that’s why his childhood was not in Korea.
      As vague as the father is, he might be way scarier than Sun-kyum’s when serious, since Dan-ah gave up the charity run without a fight. Makes me worried about her future with Young-hwa…

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    I’d watch a drama about the Seo Family. It would be amazing. Taewoong~~~

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    I was thinking about these the whole time I was watching ep 12. Whatever may happen to the furthur 4 episodes I will always cherish this drama for having fully realized side characters and giving them all the importance and the space they need and treating them as main characters of their own story rather than just props. And run on has great 12 episodes. If and a big if a BTLIOF ending happens(I personally accepted the weirdness and all) I’ll look back to this drama fondly for having a great 12 episode run. Hope it continue its running spree(sorry could’nt resist)

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    I like all side characters but I feel they are very underdeveloped. It irks me more when we know a few things about a character but they just exist to show that okay they also have a small story. Leaving that small story unexplored leaves you desiring. This has happened before in Jealousy Incarnate that had gazillion side characters and while some did get enough development, for others we were just teased, which seems to be the thing with Run On. I also think Mi Joo is an underdeveloped character. I love Run On and it makes my Wed/Thu brighter however there are some hiccups here and there. Also Seo Eun Kyung is so pretty and reminds me of Kim Seo Hyung a lot, I first thought it was her. Asianwiki lists none of her filmography though.

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      That teasing about wanting to know more about the side characters is precisely what I meant! Like this could easily have been a 50-ep weekender drama, with periodic episodes about each of the side characters!

      I did not enjoy whatever little I watched of Jealousy Incarnate at all :/ so I don’t even remember the side characters…

      I agree that there is a lot more that can be done with the script – like, let’s have a plot, to begin with 😂 As far as I can tell, this drama is more about the writer showing off her command over the language, and her skill with writing dialogue – a lot of the former is most certainly lost on a foreign audience who don’t get the innuendoes and the double entendres and the idioms and the analogies…

      On developing characters, I’d say all the leads are underdeveloped, and a different kind of scriptwriter would have charted this course very differently, IMO. I’m just enjoying what we are being served 😀

      And I’m so glad you agree with me on Seo Eun Kyung. She’s so beautiful, right? Every time I see her on screen, I want to just pause and stare at her. The one other actress who evokes this response in me is Yoon Se Ah. (And you’re right about SEK looking a bit like KSH, who’s also so beautiful!, although I associate KSH with a different kind of personality) I looked for SEK’s filmography too. Both Asianwiki and MDL list nothing else against her name. 🙁

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    It’s like there are no tertiary characters! I’ve been gushing about this with my sister for the entire series run.

    3
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      I know, right? I’ve been trying to sell this drama to my real life circle. Sadly, no one is picking it up. They seem to prefer stuff that is more makjang and dramatic. Sigh. This was the same fate that my ‘Be Melo’ recommendation met.

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    Thought I couldn’t love Secretary Jung more, and then found out he’s a cat person *heart eyes*
    Am also wondering about his backstory and wondering if he ever was assigned to Tae-wong before Dan-ah, it was so sweet how he took Tae-woong under his wing. I do wonder how he gets enough sleep with both siblings calling him nightly for rides ><

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      Yeah there seems to be some kind of a bond there too. He clearly knows the entire family. Even the “dongsaeng-oppa”. What a dedicated Secretary!

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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.

    2
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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.

    1
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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.)

      1
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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.

    3
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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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          Comment was deleted

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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.

            1
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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?

            1
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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.

    3
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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.

      2
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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 :/

      1
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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. 😀

            1
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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.

    5
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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?!

    3
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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.

      5
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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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          Hmm, the scarf is ugly enough, but I thought the weird half-hidden scarf was worse!

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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.

    1
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    I already loved her, but… she’s learning Spanish!!
    Awwww.
    My heart flutters ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    3
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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.

      1
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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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