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

April 30, 2012

Vampire Prosecutor Season 1 – Episode 8 Korean Drama review

Episode 8 of Vampire Prosecutor, Season 1 opens with a car chase.

Looking out Detective Hwang's windshield at Detective Yoo's car blocking his way
Detective Hwang (Lee Won Jong) pursues a suspect fleeing from a murder scene. He calls for backup, and is startled when Prosecutor Yoo (Lee Young Ah) responds. Working together, they manage to corner the suspect, but
SPOILER ALERT – If you haven’t seen this yet, stop here
MORE…

April 27, 2012

Vampire Prosecutor Season 1 – Episode 7 Korean Drama review

TV mocking TV is one of my favorite things. Episode 7 of Vampire Prosecutor Season 1 opens with Chae Wook’s Invective Show. Invective. Now there’s a word you don’t get to use every day – not in my line of work, anyhow. Did you have to look it up to refresh your memory? Me too.

The fictional talk show seems mild by American standards. A supposedly ruthless host lures notorious guests onto the show with promises to avoid unwelcome topics. Naturally he breaks that promise the moment they are on the air. You’d think the title “Invective Show” would tip them off, wouldn’t you? Maybe they neglected to look it up.
talkshow set with semicricle of plastic lawn chairsfor the female audience
It’s hard to be sympathetic towards people who are not only pretentious, criminal and even murderous, but terminally gullible on top of it. And what is up with the entirely female audience on plastic lawn chairs? But I digress. The point is, when the host is murdered, suspects abound. Topping the list is a head-tripping self-styled psychic who predicted the death. Lee Won Jong’s questioning of this suspect, who bedevils him with cryptic nonsense, is a high point of the episode.

In this episode, we learn what happens when
SPOILER ALERT – stop here if you haven’t watched this yet MORE…

April 12, 2012

Watching Now: Dream High 2 & Can Love Become Money?

I caught the first episode of Dream High 2 awhile back. I found it engaging, but couldn’t really relate to high school students struggling for stardom. However, I’ve stumbled across a few more episodes since then, and now I’m hooked (I can’t resist a morality play). I’ll be going back to catch up on the episodes I’ve missed.

I will get back to Vampire Prosecutor, I promise. I’ve been doling out the remaining episodes of Season 1 to myself a little at a time, like the last few pieces of a really sublime chocolate bar, since I know Season 2 won’t be available until August. I don’t want it to end!

I thought starting another Yeon Jeong Hoon drama might ease the pain. Can Love Become Money? is airing without subtitles on a local channel. I try to watch a little non-subtitled Korean TV every day. It’s easy to ignore audio when you’re watching subtitles. Watching without subtitles helps me build the habit of using my ears as well as my eyes. Also, when I start to understand what’s going on, I’ll know my Korean has progressed! Can Love Become Money? without subtitles was mystifying, however, and since Yeon Jeong Hoon is in it, I decided to check out subtitled episodes from the beginning.

Can Love Become Money? is makjang from the get-go, to an almost satirical degree. I wouldn’t bother with it if Yeon Jeong Hoon wasn’t in it, and I’m afraid it will only make me miss the Vampire Prosecutor more. Min Tae Yeon’s cool exterior is only protective – we know inside he’s a sensitive guy, with a worthy mission in life.

Ma In Tak, however, is mega-unlikeable. Nothing and no one is good enough for him. He’s bitter, venal and stingy, treating everyone horribly, and women worse. Even his dog can’t escape criticism. The plot is shaping up to be Taming of the Shrew in reverse (with loan sharks). I know this terrible start is creating room (and lots of it) for improvement, but it hurts me to see Yeon Jeong Hoon in such an unsympathetic role. Gotta like Uhm Ji Won, though, who flips him off Korean-style, only the second time I’ve ever seen a woman do that in a drama. You go, girl! Come to think of it, Yeon Jeong Hoon was the target the first time, too, when Lee Young Ah flipped off the Vampire Prosecutor. There’s just something about him, I guess.

I’m also watching Wild Romance, which is wrapping up on a local station. I haven’t seen all episodes, and don’t plan to, but I appreciate its unconventional heroine and villain, although we’ve known who the real villain is for far too long.

My One and Only is another series I entered midstream, and don’t like enough to catch up – I watch it only because the young lovers are so extremely and rigidly attached to each other that even the
SPOILER ALERT: stop here if you plan to watch this.
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April 7, 2012

Vampire Prosecutor and Mihansa on Facebook

There is an official Vampire Prosecutor (fan) page on Facebook, where they are posting photos from the series with Hangul words for fans who are learning Korean. Also many photos of Yun Jung Hoon. Check it out!

You can now find Mihansa on Facebook, too – visit our new page, and tell me what you are currently watching.


Yeon Jeong Hun in review:

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

April 7, 2012

Vampire Prosecutor Season 1 – Episode 6 Korean Drama review

Episode 6 of Vampire Prosecutor Season 1 brings a touch of comic relief. From the opening shot, where we think for a split second
Yun Jung Hoon removes his blazer
that we are watching Yun Jung Hoon strip (don’t tell me your mind didn’t go there), to the round robin of verbal posturing between fight club contenders, the episode tickles and toys with us.
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen this episode yet, stop here. MORE…

April 4, 2012

Vampire Prosecutor Season 1 – Episodes 4 & 5 Korean drama review

Well, if I wanted to see the Vampire Prosecutor bested by a woman (and I really did), episode 4 was made just for me. Not only did defense lawyer Yoon Ji Hee (Jang Young Nam) set him up to knock himself down over and over, she got a final laugh, in a twist he could have prevented if he’d done his homework. Or if he’d paid more attention to Prosecutor Yoo when she wondered why Yoon Ji Hee was involved in the case in the first place. We can’t even be very sorry that
SPOILER ALERT – if you haven’t watched this yet, stop here. MORE…

April 3, 2012

Vampire Prosecutor Season 1 – Episodes 1-3 Korean drama review

Episode 1 and 2 of Vampire Prosecutor (뱀파이어 검사), Season 1 were so reminiscent of Hon|Soul|혼 that I scurried to the 인터넷 (speaking of loanwords) to see whether they shared a writer, producer, or director. They don’t, as far as I can tell, so maybe I’ve just stumbled across a sub-genre of Korean drama. Or perhaps it’s an homage?
SPOILER ALERT! – if you haven’t watched this yet, stop here. MORE…

March 31, 2012

Now watching Vampire Prosecutor - episode reviews coming soon

I have selected Vampire Prosecutor as my next drama. Let’s see how Yeon Jung Hoon’s vampire with a conscience stacks up against Lee Seo Jin’s! Also looking forward to seeing more of Lee Won Jong, who I first encountered in Haeshin, and who appears in a number of other dramas I’ve seen part of.

If you want to watch it with me, Season 1 of Vampire Prosecutor is available on Drama Fever (as of 4/1/16, Hulu is no longer carrying it).

For my fellow Hangul students at KDrama U, sound out the first word in this show’s title: 뱀파이어. You’ll hear that it’s an English loanword. If you haven’t encountered loanwords before, 뱀파이어 is a great example of how an English word spelled phonetically in Korean is similar to, but also distinct from its source word. Loanwords are the easiest to understand when spoken, but (for me, anyway) the hardest to learn, because I keep wanting to revert to the English word. The most challenging Korean word I have encountered so far is 레스토랑 (restaurant), which is ironic, since it’s also a loanword in English, borrowed from French!

I’ll post more after the first couple of episodes. Stay tuned…


More Vampire Prosecutor (Season 1) reviews

Also with Yeon Jeong Hun:

Can Love Become Money reviews