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April 13, 2014

Wonderful Days music

I can’t say the Wonderful Days music is knocking my socks off. The opening instrumental theme is especially nondescript. I’d swear I was listening to a long forgotten (and rightly so) 1960s European film. The Korean affection for unremarkable mid-twentieth-century pop music from the west is mysterious. I asked a young Korean student whether 70s and 80s American Top 40 hits are really played in all the restaurants, as we so often see in dramas. He confirmed that they are indeed. I asked why? Why not Kpop? “Kpop doesn’t have the right…,” I waited in suspense while he looked up the English word he wanted to use. “…ambiance,” he said. Unlike the Carpenters?? Still baffled.

But back to Wonderful Days. The opening theme works a lot better as a ballad. The singer sounded a bit like one of my favorites, ALi, in the stronger passages, but not so much during the softer parts of the song. It took some digging to find out who it was – Seo Young Eun, of whom I haven’t heard before. This and the other ballads in Wonderful Days are well sung.

I decided it was time to track down the lyrics, which often serve as background narration on important points of plot or motivation. I’ve been watching Wonderful Days on KBS, since my TV screen is bigger than my monitor (and I’m too impatient to wait for Viki), but KBS doesn’t bother to subtitle song lyrics.

Never fear, though – the fansubbers that do subtitles on Viki DO subtitle all the lyrics. This is why I love fan subbers – they think like viewers. Thanks, No Place Like Home Team!

I’d like to give the Wonderful Days director credit for using the background swish of the waves in the beach scenes in episodes 11 & 12 to good advantage, and at just the right volume, and not mucking those moments up with unnecessary music. Beach scenes are pretty common in Kdrama (Korea being surrounded on three sides by water, and all), and so is artistic framing (lamp posts are particularly popular – there was even one in the beach scenes), but these were some of the nicer ones I’ve seen. The timing of the gulls was so fortuitous, they might’ve been part of the cast.

I also enjoyed the love poem in episode 12 (it sounds better in Korean :). That adorable young Hae Won, who looks about 13, is actually 20-year old Kpop starlet Kwon Min Ah, from the group Ace of Angels. Weird they aren’t crediting her more noticeably, in the English credits, anyhow. Still wondering who plays young Dong Seok.

March 15, 2014

Wonderful Days, episodes 1-3

Now why is it so intriguing to see Lee Seo Jin speak English? I’m liking how real he looks in this drama (if you disagree, you may find this video from a recent Cosmo shoot more to your taste). But it’s weird that they have him playing a 33-year old. He makes 43 look good, but 33 he is not. Would it have been that hard to adjust the script to the casting??

Mihansa.net is not a Lee Seo Jin fan site. However, if for some unfathomable reason you don’t find him worth watching, better come back in about 6 months when Wonderful Days is over, ’cause I am going to be mentioning his name a few times until then.

I wonder what children are really like in Korea. They are always so incredibly sophisticated and wise (not to say mouthy) in Kdramas. Hard to understand how they become such tortured teenagers and neurotic adults after such a promising start.

WARNING — WARNING — WARNING — SPOILERS AHEAD MORE…

February 24, 2014

Wonderful Days, Korean Numbers App, and Happy Birthday to Mi

Mihansa.net turned two last week. My schedule has been too crazy for the past few months to even watch Kdrama, much less write about it. However, I’ll make time for Lee Seo Jin’s new drama.

Wonderful Days | Wonderful Times | Very Good Times | Wonderful Season | Good Times Indeed

Series poster for Wonderful Days참 좋은 시절 – translated variously as above – debuted in Korea on Saturday to healthy ratings, easily outranking the numerous competing dramas in the same time slot. We have seen a lot of Lee Seo Jin in commercials since his success in the Grandpas Over Flowers series (the 3rd installment of which was filmed in Spain last month, but has not yet aired). That’s all very well, but it’ll be nice to see him in something that’s longer than two minutes!

Where to Watch

Happily, Very Good Times is a KBS drama, so I’ll be able to view it on the local KBS America station starting March 8th. For those less fortunately situated, Viki is in licensing talks. KBS World has full episodes of the previous drama in this time slot available to U.S. audiences on YouTube (scroll down to KBS Drama). I would expect Wonderful Times eps to be added on the same schedule as the KBS America broadcasts (late afternoons Saturday and Sundays, starting March 8th).

More about Wonderful Days
Cast and Location

The other leads (including the obligatory Kpop star, 2 pm’s Taec Yeon) are new to me, but I recognize many of the supporting actors, from the versatile Yoon Yeo Jung to ubiquitous comic sidekick/hoods Kim Kwang Kyu and Kim Sang Ho. Refreshingly, this drama gets out of Seoul, and is set in a country village, a rarity for contemporary dramas. Looking forward to 50 episodes!

Korea Numbers Android Game

Korean Bubbles screenshotKorean Bubbles is a free falling bubbles game for Android. Match numbers to their Hangeul names (or vice versa). Offers both Korean number systems, plus Korean color words. A fun way to speed up your Hangeul reading skills.

Update 2/9/16: It hasn’t been updated since 2011 and the developer’s website link no longer works, but the game is still available on the AmazonAppStore and GooglePlay.