Monday, March 21, 2016

Happy Birthday March Week 4!


Choi Suk Jin
Jerome To
Jisu (BTL)
Oh Song (F.I.X)
Park Min Woo
Shin Tae Hoon


Jo Kye Hyung
Jung Tae Woo
Kangnam (M.I.B.)
Kim San Yool
Kim Min Jong
Lee Hyun Woo
Uhm Ki Joon
Yang Taek Jo


Chakun (Electroboyz)
Huh Wook
Kim Jin Tae


Cha Tae Hyun


Choi Min Soo
Choi Woo Shik
Kim Seo Kyung
Oh Won Bin (F.T Island)
Son Ho Young (formerly G.O.D)
Xiu Min (EXO-M)


Jung Eun Pyo
Lee Ji Hoon
Lee Ji Hoon (S)
Oh Seung Yoon


Jackson (Got7)
Park Kyu Sun


Chae Byung Chan
Lee Soo
Takizawa Hideaki (Tackey & Tsubasa)


Cha Eun Woo (ASTRO)
Lee Do Ryun
Lee Ki Kwang (B2ST)
Mino (Winner)


Chae Sang Woo
Choi Ryung
Jay (The BOSS)
Jun Hoe (iKON)
Seo Tae Hwa
Taeyang (CHAOS)
Yongguk (B.A.P)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Review:// Cheese in the Trap

Cheese in the Trap is a 16-episode melodramatic romantic comedy based on the webtoon of the same name by Soonkki. Hong Seol (Kim Go Eun) is a diligent student, putting herself through college. Though she tries to lead a peaceful life, trouble seems to find her in the form of obsessive and sometimes sociopathic people. Yoo Jung (Park Hae Jin) is the chaebol son who puts on a good face for others, but gets annoyed when he notices that Hong Seol has seen through him. Baek In Ho (Seo Kang Joon), rash and prone to violence, finds himself protecting Hong Seol as his developing feelings for her motivates him to change his life.

The Good:  I was a fan of the webtoon first, so I wasn't sure if a drama could capture all the twists and turns of the storyline, but it did in a big way. The school campus served as a microcosm of society with the various personalities that can pull a person down, and where the judgement of the majority is harsh and powerful whether justified or not. The leads were perfectly cast, and so were the more psychotic side characters like Oh Young Gon (Ji Yoon Ho) and Baek In Ha (Lee Sung Kyung). It was like literally seeing the webtoon come to life.

The Bad:  In the webtoon, the story unfolds chronologically, revealing little glimpses of Yoo Jung's strange behavior that makes you wonder about him. As Hong Seol's life becomes more harried and dangerous, and Yoo Jung's expressions become more chilling, the tension just keeps building. The drama, however, skips this unveiling of Yoo Jung, and we start a year later when he has started to like Hong Seol, and his duplicity is already known to her. The previous year is shown in flashbacks throughout the drama. This obliterated one of the main reasons I got hooked on the story in the first place, which was that growing uneasy suspenseful tension that I felt along with Hong Seol as she went through the first year of the story. They did capture Yoo Jung's creepiness, though, and all the key points of the storyline were still included, so this was something that I could overlook. Perhaps it was handled this way to draw the audience into the romantic aspect of the story as soon as possible.

The Controversy:  After I watched the drama and felt that it told the story well, even though it concluded on a very mundane and predictable note, I found out that fans had been upset, and Park Hae Jin had made complaints after the drama had ended.

Fans were angry because Park Hae Jin had less screen time in the last half of the drama, especially episodes 13 and 14. They complained that Seo Kang Joon had too many piano scenes and that a sponsor must have influenced the director to focus on him more. People even talked about boycotting his next drama. This type of thing really annoys me because Seo Kang Joon was not at fault and has no power over the sponsors who have their own agenda. I'm sure many dramas are affected by bureaucratic forces, not saying that that happened in this case, but it's a fact that it's the nature of the business. 

Putting all of that aside, Yoo Jung wasn't around during a certain period in the webtoon, so I didn't miss Park Hae Jin in the part of the drama that covered that time frame. It seemed in keeping with the story from my point of view. People have accused PD Lee of changing the lead in the middle. I don't see it that way. From reading the webtoon, I understood that the star is unequivocally Hong Seol. After her, there are two male leads, Yoo Jung and Baek In Ho.  In Ho was never a side character, and he was more than a second leading man. One of the compelling aspects of this story is the fact that there are two very strong and opposite leading men, and you're just not sure which one will win out in the end.

Park Hae Jin complained that Yoo Jung's character was not fully explained, making it hard for the audience to understand him. Some scenes that were filmed, were not used, or were edited to have a different meaning. And he said that PD Lee made a lot of revisions on set that made having a complete script meaningless.

I felt that Yoo Jung's character was explained adequately. The nature of Yoo Jung's role was to put the audience off balance, and question what he is for as long as possible, and I think that was achieved. In the end, his past, feelings and motives were revealed. If anything, there was one childhood scene that I was expecting, but missed because it wasn't included.

It's too bad that Park Hae Jin felt the need to complain after the fact, given that it just fanned the flames of dissatisfaction for those fans who were upset with the drama and PD Lee. I'm sure he was disappointed that some of the scenes he filmed were cut, and perhaps the drama would have been better had they been used, but after everything is already wrapped, what is the purpose behind feeding the frenzy of angry fans? It generates public empathy for him, but increases hatred for PD Lee and Seo Kang Joon, and ultimately diminishes the success of the drama.

Soonkki wanted the drama to be completely different from the webtoon and had also requested that new campus life episodes be written instead of using antagonistic characters like Son Min Soo, Oh Young Gon, and Kim Sang Chul. However, these characters are fundamental to the Cheese in the Trap story, so I'm glad that the producers did not listen to her in this instance, and instead remained true to the original storyline.

Because the drama was airing true to the original, Soonkki requested scripts, but did not receive any after episode six due to confidentiality issues. It seems that her biggest complaint is that she requested for the drama to have a different conclusion than the one she planned for her webtoon, but the production team used her ending anyway. It's unfortunate that the writer of the original material was disregarded; a common occurrence in show business. The producers may have done her a favor by using her boring predictable ending, though, because now maybe she will be motivated to come up with something a bit more imaginative. I do hope she incorporates clinical psychology which I've been hoping for with anticipation in the webtoon. I think it would make for a much more interesting and fitting twisted end to the story.
Cheese in the Trap is above average as far as dramas go, for its originality, complexity and colorful characters. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Happy Birthday March Week 3!


Jin (Mr. Mr)
Jin Jin (ASTRO)
June Ah Min
Jun Seung Bin
Juwon (AA)
Kang Eui Shik
Kim Ik Tae
Lee Jung Jae
Lee Min Woo
Young Jae Sung


Baek Yoon Shik
Hyun Woo Sung
Ji Yoon Ho
Kim Mu Saeng
Lee Jae Po
Park Yong Woo


Jung Kyung Ho
Tamamori Yuta (Kis-My-Ft2)


Jung Joon Ha
Kwon Tae Won
Takuya (Cross Gene)


Bae Jung Nam
Kim Rae Won
Kwak Dong Yun
Taehyung (Click-B)
Yunsung (Romeo)


Casper (Cross Gene)
Jung Woo Sung
Kang Ji Hwan
Lumin (M.Pire)
Sandeul (B1A4)
Yoo In Chon


Baek Do Bin
Jo Kyung Hwan
Lee Jae Yong
Sanha (ASTRO)
Sato Takeru (Kis-My-Ft2)
Shin Hyun Tak

Monday, March 14, 2016

Review:// Madame Antoine

Madame Antoine is a 16-episode romantic comedy that centers around the volatile relationship between a psychologist and a fortuneteller. Go Hye Rim (Han Ye Seul) is a divorcee who runs a cafe where she tells fortunes under the guise of communicating with Madame Antoinette. When she runs into some financial difficulties, her landlord proposes that she work with the psychologist who has moved into the building's second floor. Choi Soo Hyun (Sung Joon) is a jaded psychologist, bent on proving that true love doesn't exist. He naturally clashes with Go Hye Rim who he considers a fake, harming those who get readings from her when they actually need professional counseling instead. He decides to make her the subject of an experiment, convinced that she will prove that women fall in love based on financial security, and are therefore incapable of sincerely loving another person.

The Good: It's interesting to note that Sung Joon has no problem playing a character that is over ten years older than he is. And even though there is a nine year difference between the leads, they played off of each other well and had good chemistry. 

The plot touched on the interesting subject of what true love is, and how it changes after the three year hormonal period of being "in love". There were a diverse range of characters as well, with their strengths and foibles, who developed into more balanced people by the end of the drama. Through one-sided love, confused love, parental love, and first love, these characters evolved (sometimes hilariously so) in a believable way.

The Bad: At times scenes seemed a bit repetitive, however, it still fit within the nature of a story that showed how it takes time for people to change and grow. There were a few times where I thought certain conflicts could have been simply avoided, but again, given that we're supposed to be dealing with flawed personalities, I could still justify these instances as being appropriate for the storyline.

Overall, Madame Antoine kept me looking forward to each episode. It took the tropes that I enjoy in kdramas, and expressed them in a refreshing way, with pacing that maintained tension through to the last, very satisfying scene.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Happy Birthday March Week 2!


Kim Chan Woo


Han Ji Hoo
Injun (The BOSS)
Park Yoo Hwan
Suga (BTS)
Yoo Min Hyuk
Yoon Je Moon


Insoo (MYNAME)
Lee Gun Joo
Mir (formerly MBLAQ)
Peniel (BtoB)
Song Jae Ho


Ha Jung Woo
Soohyun (U-Kiss)


Nam Goong Min
Nam Kyung Eup
Sunwoo (Boy's Republic)

13 (JJCC)
Eli (U-Kiss)
Kiggen (PHANTOM)
Kim Nam Gil
L (Infinite)
Lee Joon Hyuk


Han Jin Hee
Kim Jong Moon
Park Ji Bin

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Review:// You're My Pet

You're My Pet is the Korean adaptation of Yayaoi Ogawa's manga, Kimi wa Pet. Ji Eun Yi (Kim Ha Neul) is a smart, attractive career woman who can't seem to sustain a successful relationship. Kang In Ho (Jang Geun Suk) is a dance prodigy, who gave up ballet after an accident with another dancer left him unable to work with a partner again. The two meet and settle into a master/pet relationship that is strangely satisfying for them both. However, when Eun Yi's old crush comes back into town, change is inevitable.

The Good:  The light-hearted approach to the manga makes this a feel-good movie where you can just enjoy all the cuteness without too much heartache. Jang Geun Suk is naughty, adorable and sexy.  Kim Ha Neul balances seriousness and comedy perfectly, and together they have great chemistry.

The Bad:  All the dance choreography in the film is excruciatingly horrible. It really took me out of the story every time I had to look at it. I was also disappointed that In Ho wasn't developed more. The reasons why he needed to be dehumanized, and why he found fulfillment in being a pet were pretty much left out of this version of the story. Granted, the 2003 Japanese drama (Kimi wa Pet) starring Matsumoto Jun and Koyuki had ten hours to flesh out the plot, but there was more than enough time in the movie to depict the enormous pressure and expectation that In Ho had been subjected to. Instead, much of the story's impact was lost.

Many viewers commented on the master/pet relationship being sick or abusive, some mentioning that if the genders were reversed, everyone would be of this opinion. The fact is, this story can only exist because Eun Yi is a woman and In Ho is a man.  Eun Yi is a professional woman in a male dominated Asian workforce, and as such is alienated and stunted in her career. She's also a strong, attractive woman in a male dominated society, and that intimidates men on a social level. She craves control in a world where she feels out of control no matter how qualified she is, or how much effort she puts into it. Over time, her protective shell becomes impenetrable, so it stands to reason that the only man who can get past it, is one who is not a man, but a pet who she can let her guard down around.

In Ho is a dance prodigy, so you can imagine his life was full of pressure. When he walked away from his career, there was disappointment and continued expectations. To give up control and live as someone else's pet was a big relief for him.

This is a story about two dysfunctional people who started out using each other as a crutch, but who grew stronger as their relationship evolved.

Although the Japanese drama was more true in mood and story to the manga with the exception of the end, which was not very satisfying (the drama was produced in 2003 before the end of the manga in 2005), the Korean movie did capture the spirit of the manga and concluded in a better way which was more in line with the manga's actual ending. Though the story is not as deep or impactful, You're My Pet is worth watching.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Happy Birthday March Week 1!


Baek Seung Hyun
Baek Seung Woo
Joo Hyun
Ma Dong Suk
Wonho (MONSTA X)
Yoon Kyun Sang


Choi Chul Ho
Jun Tae Soo
Lee Hong Ki (F.T. Island)
Lee Sun Kyoon
Park Jin Sung
Sangdo (Topp Dogg)
Song Min Hyung
Sung Hyuk


Jo Jin Woong
Jung Jong Joon
Lee David


Ryu Sang Wook (Please start working again!!)
Taeha (SPEED)


Choi Jong Yoon
Kim Jung San
Lee Hyun Jin
Moon Jae Won
Oh Ji Myung


Hong Hyun Taek
Inati (DMTN)
Jung Joon
Lee Hyun Woo


Choi Joon Yong
Hwang In Sung
Hyunsik (BtoB)
Im Ji Kyu
Jang Dong Gun
Jonghun (F.T. Island)