May 1, 2012

Can Love Become Money? – a Korean drama un-review

Can Love Become Money? continues to air without subtitles – and I continue to watch it that way. At first, this was a language exercise. Can Love Make Money? (as it’s also known) is more talk than action, and that’s just what I needed to acclimate my English-hearing ears to spoken Korean.

However, I suspect I enjoy this drama a lot more than I would if I actually knew what was going on. I watched the first 2 episodes with subtitles, which was plenty to establish the utterly makjang nature of the series. Since then, I’ve diligently avoided recaps and reviews. The result: I’ve been free to enjoy marvelous acting without the distraction of ridiculous plot twists. And thus is born – the un-review!

Ma In Tak is a plum role for Yun Jung Hoon, who gets to demonstrate an impressive range of emotions and attitudes. They come through loud and clear, using the time-honored techniques of body language, tone, and facial expression. Although his Vampire Prosecutor is an intriguing and engaging fellow who grows and develops over Season 1, Ma In Tak covers a lot more psychic ground in his character development. That transformation is by far the best thing about Can Love Become Money? I wonder whether I could fully appreciate the rich nonverbal nuances of Yun Jung Hoon’s performance if I was focusing only on the words?

It’s a little harder to tell what’s going on with Uhm Ji Won sometimes, though that’s probably not her fault. Korean drama scripts are forever freezing heroines like deer in the headlights at pivotal moments, as if they themselves don’t know what they are feeling. SO annoying. Really, writers, this is NOT consistent with the Spunky Heroine persona, nor flattering to female viewers, who know women are more resilient than that!

There’s a second couple in Can Love Become Money? I have no idea what their relationship to the primary couple is, but it’s interesting to watch the shifting dynamics in the interactions. Jo Yeon Woo’s facial expressions are particularly effective at communicating an extreme range of reactions through the subtlest changes. If I go back to watch once subtitles are available, he’ll be the main reason why.

Maybe I’ll try subtitle-free watching from now on whenever actors worth watching appear in a series that isn’t. Try it – you’ll see what I mean!

UPDATE, July 4, 2012: DramaFever is now offering subtitled episodes, though they use fan subs, so the pace of release for each ep is still agonizingly slow. Don’t get me wrong, fan-subbers, I love you to death. Seriously, I am so, SO grateful for all the time you put into making Korean drama accessible to us monolinguists, and I aspire to one day become fluent enough to help out. It’s just that my memory is not that good, so long gaps between episodes means I have to go back and remind myself where I left off. Come to think of it, I enjoy that, so I’ll just shut up now and try to cultivate a zen state of timeless mind. What I started to say, dear readers, was that I will probably, eventually, write a non un-review of this drama. Got that? [Further update: I did. Several, in fact. All episodes are now available on DramaFever.]

Also with Yeon Jeong Hun:

More Can Love Become Money? reviews
Vampire Prosecutor (Season 1) reviews

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