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…

March 10, 2014

Watch Wonderful Days on Viki

North and South American viewers can now watch the new KBS drama Wonderful Days on Viki (many thanks to Kim for bearing this excellent news).

Lee Seo Jin’s talent for non-verbal expression is a great fit for his outwardly cold but internally turbulent character. 2 pm’s Teac Yeon plays a more straightforward character, and so far is doing a respectable job of it for a Kpop star with limited acting experience. There are great female characters in this drama, too – loving feisty Kim Hee Sun and Yoon Yeo Jeong, whose role promises a depth worthy of her versatility, for once.

Viki’s page for Wonderful Days has extremely helpful character (not actor) bios to help sort out the rather complicated family relationships and back stories. They are a little spoiler-y after only two episodes, though, so be warned.

Enjoy!

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.

March 4, 2013

In Another Country - Korean film review

Isabelle Huppert and Yu Jun Sang chat on the beach on the film poster for In Another CountryIn Another Country (다른 나라에서) is a 2012 Korean film which I saw during its recent U.S. run. It was directed by Hong Sang Soo, who has 13 previous films to his credit. Although it is billed as his first English-language film, about half of the dialogue is in subtitled Korean. The location and most of the actors are also Korean.

In Another Country consists of three vignettes, bookended by a mini-Kdrama. It opens at a Korean beach resort in the off-season. A mother (ubiquitous drama actress Yoon Yeo Jung, last seen as the mother in My Husband Got a Family) and her daughter (Jung Yoo Mi) are hiding out from loan sharks who are trying to collect on the debts of her irresponsible brother. To while away the time, fledgling playwright Jung Yoo Mi dreams up three scenarios set at the same resort, which comprise the rest of the film. MORE…

October 26, 2012

My Husband Got a Family – Final Thoughts

My Husband Got a Family (넝쿨째 굴러온 당신 – literally You Who Rolled in Unexpectedly or Unexpected You) wrapped up on KBS World last weekend. The series fulfilled its initial promise of utter predictability from beginning to end. Plot developments to come were not merely hinted at, they were shouted from the rooftops with megaphones. The abrupt timeslip at the end of the second-to-last episode seemed entirely arbitrary, as if the writer suddenly got bored and stopped caring what happened to the characters.
SPOILER ALERT: stop here if you haven’t watched yet.
MORE…

August 31, 2012

My Husband Got a Family – Korean drama review

promotional poster for series featuring a wedding photo of Kim Nam Joo and Yu Jun Sang;My Husband Got a Family is airing on KBS America as a weekend drama. The first few episodes were so excruciatingly predictable that I gave it a pass for many weeks. Here’s the opening setup: adult adoptee seeking birth family moves into the same building with wounded family seeking long lost child. Guess what happens next? Ten million Koreans live in Seoul, and 100,000 Korean children have been sent to the US for adoption, but what’s a statistical impossibility to a drama? Dickens. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

However, for all its faults, My Husband Got a Family inhabits the dinner hour timeslot, where it faces little competition. It’s true what they say about timing being everything. Just when I’m ready to put my feet up and rest my brain, there it is. I drifted back to it, gradually at first, but now, I admit, I make a point of watching it.

Na Young Hee with a very unhappy expression on her face;Yoon Yeo Jung with a very unhappy expression on her face;The family dynamics at the core of this drama are just like every other Korean family drama you ever saw. There’s sibling rivalry, abusive parenting, and a secret that’s too big to keep, yet too horrible to tell. According to my drama sun dial, we’re due for a life-threatening diagnosis or accident any episode now.

Other familiar elements appear in a modified form. As in Love Rain, the incest love-obstacle appears in the form of the in-law relationship taboo, instead of a scare over being half-siblings. Since in-law incest is not even a thing in the US, this substantially reduces the ick-factor. If there were loan sharks, I missed them. Drat. No, really.

Kim Nam Joo and Yu Jun Sang having an emotional conversation;The central couple (Kim Nam Joo and Yu Jun Sang) are annoyingly smug and self-satisfied at the beginning of the series. They’ve had ups and downs since then, matured a little, and lost some of their insufferability.

Yun Hui, a successful professional woman battling sexism at work as well as in her husband’s family, is an unexpectedly sympathetic character. Her deficient housekeeping skills may be more damning to a Korean audience than they are to me, but she sure knows how to navigate the backbiting power dynamics in her entertainment industry workplace (which is in a different universe from the cozy little production company depicted in Sent From Heaven). The developing independence of her sister-in-law (Yang Jeong Ah), everybody’s punching bag, is also refreshing.

A smiling Lee Hee Joon sits close to Jo Yoon Hee, who is holding up a teddy bear;However, my favorite storyline in My Husband Got a Family concerns the budding relationship between two people who are monumentally slow on the uptake about their own feelings. In real life, I’d be unimpressed by that, but for some reason, I find it irresistibly charming in this drama. It’s mostly Lee Hee Joon’s comical dialogues with himself (with a few well-placed jibes at drama conventions) that keep me coming back for more.

Not so funny (through no fault of her own) is Yang Hee Kyeong, a rare (in Korean drama) large woman, as a comic relief character. I wish I could applaud this drama for taking a step forward in diversified casting. Unfortunately, the running joke is that her character audaciously believes she’s a worthwhile and attractive person regardless of her weight. Ha ha. Two steps back.

Despite its lack of originality, there are engaging moments in My Husband Got a Family. Last weekend, I cheered when the family’s women put aside their differences to team up on a man who done one of them wrong. I tittered at Terry’s bemusement when his sophisticated wife and her adult little brother screamed at each other like kindergarteners on the playground. Yes, this is drama with a small d, but there’s a place for that.

[NOTE: After I posted this review, I learned that My Husband Got a Family has received surprisingly high ratings in South Korea, though I suspect this is mostly due to the presence of Kpop idol Kang Min Hyuk of CN Blue in a relatively minor role. His “Code Name” (CN) is “lovely.” ‘Nuff said.]


Related posts:
Final Thoughts review for My Husband Got a Family
10 Obstacles to Love in Korean Drama