Korean Drama Review — Mirror of the Witch

Disclaimer – All images in this post have been obtained from Google. I do not own any of them.

A Yoon Si Yoon and Kim Sae Ron starrer, Mirror of the Witch follows the story of a cursed princess Yeon Hee who was cast away by her mother in favor of protecting the son (Yeon Hee’s twin brother). She grew up in a house located in the midst of a forest, not knowing who she really is. For seventeen years she has yearned to glimpse the outside world. Her first encounter with a stranger happens to be Heo Joon, who is a slave’s son. He stumbles across her house and assumes she is the witch that everyone in the village has been talking about. A meddlesome relative causes great trouble when he disregards the warnings of The Taoist Priest who has been looking after Yeon Hee. And because of that one err, an avalanche of chaos ensues.

I enjoyed watching the drama from the very beginning because it is funny and well shot. The magical component is made believable because of the good quality graphics and brilliant acting on the part of everyone. While this was my first drama with Yoon Si Yoon, I had previously watched High School Love On starring Kim Sae Ron. I hadn’t really liked her part in that drama and so I was pleasantly surprised at how well she fit the role. Some of the other characters were a little flat. Like that of Yo Gwang, Choi Hyun Seo and King Seon Jo – they weren’t brave enough to do what was required of them and were mostly dilly-dallying their way through the drama. Especially the King, not only is he a coward but also a very gullible person – hardly possessing the persona of a King. Queen Shim too acted very entitled, high and mighty whereas she herself had done so much wrong. I wished that Yeon Hee would have been more firm with her and not so submissive.

Yum Jung Ah’s portrayal of Hong Joo is fantastic. She does a very convincing job of enacting the corrupt shaman. I liked the plot and I wish the characters had been written more suitably. The whole “lighting 108 candles” concept was interesting. Some of the common themes that this drama explores are good vs evil, slavery, love triangles, mob psychology etc. Heo Joon’s storyline is one of the best, more realistic and genuine ones in the drama. Another plus point for the drama is that it has a good soundtrack. My favourite songs are – Love by Lush and Distressed by Lim Jeong Hee. The time leaps in the drama were okay. And the ending was not too great. But over all, it was entertaining, although I won’t be watching it again. So if you like black magic, stories about royal families, then perhaps you could try this.

Ratings – 7.5 stars on 10

Meera

Korean Drama Review — Ddanddara (a.k.a Entertainer)

Disclaimer – All images in this post have been obtained from Google. I do not own any of them. 

Ddanddara is a Korean drama that was aired on SBS, starring Ji Sung and Lee Hye Ri as the leads. The drama follows the lives of those in the entertainment industry, allowing us deeper insight into the struggles that threaten to break these people as well as the bonds that hold them aloft. Shin Suk Ho has been a business minded, arrogant manager for far too long. He, insensitively, mows down anyone who proves to be an obstacle to achieving fame and wealth. But an accident becomes a humbling experience for him when he is jarred by reality. No longer working with KTop, he is forced to start from scratch.

Jo Ha Neul (played by Kang Min Hyuk) has always been passionate about singing, but a death in the family put an end to it. Moreover, he is wrongly convicted for sexual harassment by a friend who ditched him to improve her own future. When he is confronted by Shin Suk Ho, he decides to join a band to continue following his dreams. Their camaraderie carves a path that untangles all the complexities of their lives. Their story is one of retrospection and self-growth. It draws you in, tugs at your heart and leaves you wishing for a second season.

I loved this drama from the start. The obnoxious way that Suk Ho managed his responsibilities; the composed manner in which Ha Neul dealt with his probation and all of Jeong Geu Rin’s (Ha Neul’s namesake sister) supportive, mature sensibilities. The plot, although seemingly rather ordinary, is actually wonderful. It had a unique way of building each character’s story and carrying it forward so that towards the end, we’re satisfied with where each of the story lines ended. Ji Sung is fantastic playing both personalities of Suk Ho. In fact he is so skilled that Suk Ho’s brotherly relations with Jo Sung Hyun, Jo Ha Neul and Jinu were the highlights of the series, for me. Their attachment to each other is so heart warming.

One of the things I wished had been different was Ha Neul and Geu Rin’s equation. Although it was reasonable, it wasn’t necessary to the story. Another thing that irked me was the ending. Up until the 14th episode, the pace of the drama is brilliant. All plot lines are ticked off in due time. But then the last three episodes are so rushed, I felt that they tried to cram too much story in too little time. If they had included 2 more episodes, everything could have been beautifully explored and concluded. Lastly, Suk Ho and Geu Rin’s feelings lacked conviction, as in it remains stagnant, which bothered me a bit. But then again, all dramas don’t need to focus on love. So I guess, it’s alright.

Two of the songs on the OST are absolutely spellbinding – Go Ahead Cry by Jo Bok Rae and Lost Child by Han Seo Yoon. Lee Tae Sun who portrays the character Yun Soo does so very charmingly. I liked the fact that the drama incorporated the “single father” angle and played it out very well. Seldom, do you see such characterization. Jae Hoon and Kyle (other members of the band) were the “cool” ones with a difficult family background. They too gelled well in the story and helped create an enjoyable package. Quite a few times during the episodes, I was a blubbering mess. That is not to say it is entirely sad or sappy. It is equal parts funny and lamentable. This drama is definitely worth watching once, if not more. So do give it a try.


Ratings – 8.5 stars on 10.

Meera

Korean Drama Review — Madame Antoine

Disclaimer – All images in this post have been obtained from Google. I do not own any of the images.

Madame Antoine is the story of conflict between divination and science. Go Hye Rim is a fortune teller who cons people into believing that she can communicate with the deceased Marie Antoinette. Rather, she uses exceptional analytical and observational skills to give readings. Her business is threatened when world renowned psychologist Choi Soo Hyun moves into the office above, and ultimately pinpoints her for being the fraud that she is. Both of their offices are called Madame Antoine which causes even more trouble as their customers wind up getting lost and stumbling into the other. Soo Hyun who is a tad bit insensitive realizes that their bickering relation may soon grow into something more, something he does not quite believe in. Whereas Hye Rim is forced to juggle not only her financial troubles but also the fact that she has to partake in Soo Hyun’s experiment in order to save her cafe.

This drama, with its cross between fortunetelling and psychology, is a unique idea. Sung Joon is a very convincing actor and plays the part of Choi Soo Hyun particularly well. We are persuaded of the fact that he is disbelieving about love and doesn’t really care for much else apart from his research experiment. Birth of a Beauty actress Han Ye Seul is our female protagonist and believably or not, she plays a mother. Although the show doesn’t focus on her daughter all that much, we are just made aware through photographs and phone calls how close their bond is. As mentioned before, the plotline is somewhat different from the usual kdrama, in the sense that its not about the Aegyo but showcases adults and the difficulties they face. However, being a psychology student myself, I felt that some of the information pertaining to psychology was a little misleading. Or maybe just that it wasn’t put across properly. I found that to be one of the minus points for the show.

This drama also plays around with some trite concepts like love triangles, unrequited love etc. But then again I suppose they are very much in keeping with real life experiences that people have so I guess in a way its justified.  Choi Sung Chan and Won Ji Ho help Soo Hyun with his experiment and in doing so end up liking Hye Rim too. I found that a little hard to believe. I mean what are the chances that three men, who barely know this women; are meant to deceive her and yet fall for her? That being said, Ji Ho is a bit of a childish character and doesn’t really grasp what’s happening around him. He doesn’t even get the fact that Yoo Rim has liked him for so long. The dialogues on the other hand are well written, entertaining with a dash of humor. Somehow I didn’t really like the chemistry between Hye Rim and Soo Hyun for a majority of the show. It felt a little forced and not real. Even though, supposedly, she actually liked him the whole time, I didn’t find it genuine up until the last few episodes. She helps him face the troubles of his past, and after that everything sort of falls in place. The soundtrack of this drama is decent – nothing outstanding though. All in all, its definitely an enjoyable drama but we’ve seen better from the lead actors and the writer.

Ratings – 7.5 stars on 10.

Meera

Korean Drama Review — Nail Shop Paris

Disclaimer – All the images in this post have been obtained from Google. I do not own any of them.

When amateur novelist Hong Yeo Joo, unable to churn creative novel ideas, stumbles upon a nail artist – Alex- she decides to make him her protagonist. Soon, she realizes that the Nail Shop he works at only staffs men. In order to continue being inspired, she disguises herself as a male, budding nail artist named Bunny. While she puts forth as manly an outward appearance as she can, as a women, she becomes smitten by Alex. The drama wraps up in 10 episodes and chronicles the difficulties of gender bending (love triangles included) while playing on one’s imagination with the use of a mythological creature popularly known as Gumiho.

This drama is very typical in almost every aspect. It has the love at first sight, unrequited love, love triangles, broken dreams, otherworldly creature to rescue and all that jazz. Parts of it are enjoyable but parts of it are so draggy that I had put the drama on hold for over a year before I finally decided to finish it. I found some of the dialogues to be lackluster and more often than not, I was wondering what is unique about this drama. As a gender bender, some of the scenes were definitely funny but nothing very gripping. The drama definitely showcased some rather extravagant nail art. Do people really wear chunky rhinestones on their nails? One of the things that, while it seemed unexpected, I liked about the drama was that it sends out a good social message in terms of helping those in need. Some of the customers of Nail Shop Paris had personal problems which the staff of the shop managed to solve with great persistence and affection. These parts were admirable and conveys how openly friendly their culture is.

Yeo Joo’s bestfriend Kim Ji Soo falls for Jin, one of the nail artists. There relationship too goes through rocky terrain when Ji Soo is unable to make up her mind between Jin and another man. Whereas Kay (another nail artist) begins to question his sexuality when he realizes that he has feelings for Bunny. Little did he know that Bunny was indeed a woman. There is a time leap at the end and the ending was unpredictable, so I’d give the show brownie points for that. And that ending was one of the few things which was different about this drama. Over all, it wasn’t great. It explores several concepts in the span of few episodes. I just wish that some sections of the plot had been differently done, probably then it would have turned out to be an intriguing drama. Maybe you could give it a try, but I don’t guarantee 10 hours of pure enjoyment.

Ratings – 5.5 stars on 10

Meera

Korean Drama Review — Oh My Venus

Disclaimer – The images in this post have been obtained from Google. I do not own any of the images. 

Shin Min Ah and So Ji Sub starrer Oh My Venus is a Korean romcom drama that explores the importance of outward appearances and perseverance as a determinant of success and confidence. Kang Joo Eun has always been the center of attention during her high school years. Aspiring to be a lawyer, Joo Eun grows up only to realize that her life isn’t turning out to be the way she had hoped. Having gained tons of weight, Joo Eun not only faces the stress of being an overworked lawyer struggling to find justice in the tangles of rigid laws but also is dumped by her boyfriend of 15 years. Nevertheless, luck is on her side and she chances upon world famous trainer John Kim. Together they persevere to solve their respective problems and somehow end up on the same path to recovery and bliss. Kim Yeong Ho is the next in line to take over his family business, but word is that Yeong Ho’s passions are a tad bit different from what his family expects of him. With a dark past and an even drier future, how will he manage the best of both worlds?

Shin Min Ah and So Ji Sub together in a drama? As main leads? Check and check. What more could I want out of a kdrama, especially when the plot is as heartwarming as this one. One could assume that the drama seems to advocate good looks as being essential to finding love (especially when Im Woo Sik breaks up with Joo Eun) or attaining success in one’s job but I think it places emphasis on the need for exercising and staying fit. It is a given that the two leads are meant to be but they got together rather quickly in the series and so you are left to wonder what more is in store for them. I was very apprehensive of the fact that their relationship may become draggy and extremely cheesy. But the conflicts that were introduced in the drama kept it going at a good pace and there were times when I was rooted to the spot, waiting to see what would happen. The drama has a good proportion of humor in the sense that some of the scenes are legit LOL-worthy.

The drama is an example of what motivation and support can do for a person. It proves to us that with the right dedication, one can overcome even the greatest of difficulties. Jang Joon Sung too deals with a troublesome childhood. But with the help of Yeong Ho, he goes onto become a boxing champion. Their brotherhood is shown to be unconditional. Woo Sik and Soo Jin’s relationship is very lovable. They complement each other well. Even though Soo Jin plays the anti-heroine, causing problems for Joo Eun, she is actually very sensitive. The end to Woo Sik & Soo Jin’s story was apt and I couldn’t think of a better way to wrap up things. One of the other things that stood out in this drama was Kim Ji Woong’s chirpy nature. His constant “Ma’am, Ma’am” was an absolute delight. The soundtrack of the show is too good and it mixes well with the scene to enhance the sentiments being enacted. This drama is simply amazing and has become one of my all time favorites. I would definitely recommend it to all.

Ratings – 10 stars on 10

Meera

Korean Drama Review — Pinocchio

Disclaimer – All images in this post have been obtained from Google. I do not own any of the images.

Pinocchio, aired on SBS channel, is a drama about the underlying corruption and discrimination that rules the media firms in today’s time. Albeit being set in Korea, it wouldn’t be far fetched to say that it mirrors the problems faced by reporters and producers around the world. In this case, the protagonist Choi In Ha (played by Park Shin Hye) has the Pinocchio Syndrome wherein she hiccups uncontrollably if she lies. Since childhood, In Ha has been craving to meet her mother who left her and her father to pursue her career as a reporter. Naive and innocent, In Ha believes that her mother would accept her when they meet in the future and so for thirteen years In Ha sends her mother text messages about her daily life. However, her mother leaves behind her phone at the house of a large department store owner. Seo Bum Jo (played by Kim Young Kwang) who is the son of the owner, intercepts these messages and as the years pass, grows to love In Ha. He is determined to meet her and so auditions to become a reporter at YGN.

Ki Ha Myung (played by Lee Jong Suk) is the son of a fireman who was accused of causing the death of his fellow firemen. As the reporters propel the case out of proportion, his father flees and is never heard of again. Humiliated and isolated in society, Ha Myung and his mother commit suicide. The only living member, the elder broth Ki Jae Myung is devastated and vows to right the wrongs of the reporters who pushed the family to take such drastic measures.

This drama was a treat from the start. The pain felt by Ki Ha Myung’s family is vividly portrayed and so exceptionally done that you feel for them. The plot isn’t as simple as it appears and there are so many layers to the story, each of which is peeled off one by one as the story progresses. The cutthroat environment that is created by rivaling broadcast companies is played out for the viewers to understand the functioning of news channels and the crooked tactics that they sometimes employ to obtain a story. While the character of Song Cha Ok is very detestable, Jin Kyung does a wonderful job of acting. She is so convincing in her role that even though I hated her for most of the drama, towards the end I was very glad for her. Her character development would be one of the best for the show. I also liked how In Ha and Ha Myung got to know each other and the entire process from them being friends to a couple was rather adorable.

Even though the Pinocchio Syndrome that was used in the drama is fictional, it proved to be integral to the storyline. Initially In Ha faces a lot of flak for not being able to lie, which is somehow “important” to become a reporter. As the drama draws to a close, we see how she becomes an  exemplary model of a reporter and teaches the others ideals and values to be upheld as a reporter. Being a media student myself, I loved this drama for its content and the morals that it showcased. While In Ha and Ha Myung were meant to be, I wished that Seo Bum Jo was given some importance. In fact he does serve a vital purpose in the drama and things do get resolved all due to him. But he is left behind with this unrequited love and for some reason I always wish that the main leads would pick the secondary characters. Moreover, I felt that In Ha’s behavior towards him was a little cold and she wasn’t as considerate of his as he was of her. Anyhow, the drama has been put together very well and some of the characters like Hwang Gyo Dong, Ahn Chan So were very endearing. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the drama and would recommend it to all.

Ratings – 8.5 stars on 10

Meera

Korean Drama Review — The King 2 Hearts

Disclaimer – All images courtesy of Google. 

The King 2 Hearts is a political drama that brings together the lives of multiple North and South Korean officials who train together to compete as a single unit in the World Officers Championship. Lee Jae Ha is the prince of South Korea, the next in line after his brother to become king and yet is shown as a spoilt brat who cares the least bit about his responsibilities as being a member of the royal family. His arrogance builds a wrong impression in the minds of the North Korean soldiers who are already apprehensive of the treatment they would receive in the hands of the South Koreans. Kim Hang Ah, the leader of the North Korean team, forced to become his roommate during the training, falls for his pranks and ends up getting hurt.

But the tension between the two is unavoidable when they must pretend to get along for the sake of their countries. Soon this tension develops into feelings. And being the crown prince, such matters of heart, were never his to decide. When their family and the public take it upon them to make peace, chaos unfurls. This drama is not only about the two couple who are the faces of manner and respectability for their people, but it also encompasses the meaningful exchanges and stories of others who strive to make a union possible against all odds and terrors.

I was unsure whether I’d truly like this drama or not because I’ve never been too fond or even observant of politics and military matters. But Lee Seung Gi was starring in it and I just couldn’t give it up without a try. Lets just say that despite being a (sort of) typical romance, it was one of the most adorable dramas I’ve seen. Kim Han Ah is so endearing and fierce at the same time. She has never been in a concrete relationship for long and doesn’t understand Lee Jae Ha’s intentions in making a fool of her. Lee Jae Shin is Jae Ha’s sister who is a very grounded, mature character and helps develop his personality to that of a courageous brave man. In fact his entire family plays a very integral role in his character development. At times I felt that the way he is, is a product of the way he has been brought up. So we can’t completely blame him for being childish and evasive.

There’s no denying that Lee Seung Gi is one of the best actors out there. You know he has a very fun loving personality and still he pulls off a serious role really well. Sometimes dramas have a tendency to become too unreal and only-on-tv like. But this show often brought out realistic sentiments and created scenarios that you could believe. Kim Bong Gu, who plays the villain performs brilliantly! Mostly because he is so annoying through out the show that you want to get up and kick him; which only goes to show that he justifies the negative role completely. He is one of those villains who are different, like on a psychotic level. The plot was different which was a plus point. I thoroughly enjoyed this drama. Only drawbacks were that it got very predictable a little too soon. And the lead couple’s “meant to be together” status was very evident from the beginning. It didn’t fool around with your thoughts and build a suspenseful atmosphere (where the romance is concerned). Definitely recommend it to fans of political dramas and otherwise too. Watch it! 😀

Ratings – 8 stars on 10.

Meera