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

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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 — 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

On Achievements, Failures and The Time in Between.

I spent the last thirty days caught up in the extremely tiresome process of shifting houses. Believe me, when you have image over 30 cartons filled with things, the process drags on and on. Albeit it was fun, to be in charge of something as magnanimous as a house. I’ve only ever had smaller responsibilities like taking care of my brother or setting the table for dinner. These times were filled with little achievements and little failures. I passed my third semester finals which wasn’t a surprise since all the exams were decent. But I’d been apprehensive about how the correction would be. I did score really well in both my Media subjects and that is all I care about at the end of the day. Don’t even get me started on the pointless tirade concerning my triple major curriculum.

Winning the Guess The Booker Prize Winner contest held by India Book Store was a highlight. Not only can I use the gift coupon for new bookshelf additions but the nominated books I chanced upon had some really nice plots and so there goes by TBR pile burrowing a deep hole towards the core of the earth. I am currently reading The Trespass by Barbara Ewing and its lovely. Every page gives you a good fill and its one of those books that will last you a long time. Its a perfect book for me – set in Victorian England.

Image My room walls are purple, so is my lamp, candle and bedspread. Did I print a bizarre, maybe even hideous, picture for you? But actually its not. The white furniture tones down all the purple-ness. I took up Event Management as an elective and so far we’ve only had two classes but I’m loving it! Had a few ups and downs with some people. But I’m no longer letting it bother me. See my Whatsapp status (in Korean) – 바람처럼 그냥 가라 – meaning “Just go like the wind”, which I cooked up on my own without using translate or google! So proud of myself – Korean language learning is finally leading somewhere…

One of my minor follies is that I couldn’t keep my book ban in check. And with the new house I almost had to get a new bookshelf. Which although a happy fact is a little disappointing especially since I already have many tens of books I havent read – some still wrapped is plastic. Self Control!

Also for some or the other reason, plans to meet up with friends keep getting delayed. Something or the other pops up and it all back tracks. Its been so long since I went out with the different friend groups that I have. Plus I feel like a sense off detachment has intervened between previously good friends. Like they no longer care enough to make an effort. Hopefully everything will sort out as the year ends. I’m turning 20 in less than five months and so its time for a bucket list. As much as I cringe to admit, letting go of this inherent childishness and stepping into the suit of a mature adult is a little bothersome. To the extent that I was deliriously happy on finding my Pokemon cards and I yearn to rewatch many animes.

That’s that and I miss writing so dearly. I even wish I could participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo because I have a solid novel plan. But there’s just not enough time. Nevertheless, I am going to write the novel later and not give up on it. If not NaNo, for the sake of writing I will complete it.

Hope y’all had a freaky Halloween and are preparing for a jolly Christmas.

– Meera

 

Korean Drama Review — Dating Agency Cyrano


Seo Byung Hoon is a producer, who in an attempt to save his bestfriend’s theatre from being taken over by mortgage, starts a dating agency called Cyrano to repay the debt. He works with two others – Moo Jin and Ah Rang to pair up people; creating fake scenarios with the intent to bring out their inherent goodness. The clients who approach them are individuals smitten by someone who doesn’t reciprocate their affection. And this significant other becomes their target. During one such mission, the group crosses paths with the spunky female protagonist Min Young who works for another such dating agency. And their mission ends up ruining what Min Young had planned for her client.

At first she is furious but soon learns that their technique fits her fancy better than her current job and so she gets employed with them. Now this team of four brushes through missions swiftly and successfully. In between all that Min Young begins to like Byung Hoon who has eyes only for his high school crush (also his dead bestfriends meant-to-be wife). While Seung Pyo who owns the restaurant adjoining the agency befriends Min Young and falls for her. He seems to be hiding something that has a lot to do with Byung Hoon’s past and adds the mystery to the drama. With their good intentions, Cyrano Agency never thought that people were out to get them. But their efforts are overlooked when an unknown person kidnaps one of them in order to bring the agency to the ground.

This is my new favourite drama as of now! I don’t usually watch a lot of cheesy romance kind of shows so I never thought I’d love it so much. I don’t know why its so unheard of. It deserves a lot more hype and is one of those underrated dramas that only few know about. The casting was amazing – all people I’ve unheard of but will be looking forward to each of them in new dramas. Lee Chun Hee who plays Master a.k.a Seung Pyo was my favourite. He would make a really good lead actor in a show. Initially I thought the concept of a dating agency was so corny and that it would be one of those shows I’d give a 6/10 but it picked up pace and I liked everything about it. Byung Hoon is a very guarded character who doesn’t open up about his feelings to anyone. He tries to push aside his worries about Min Young and focus on the task at hand. They fight and argue so much its actually funny! Not to mention that Min Young is a very chirpy yet ballsy female who doesn’t like to take no for an answer. She persists and persists to the very end. The drama is not only about their clients but also how each of them grow and mature through each mission, learning more about themselves than they would’ve otherwise. Some of the missions involve their own emotional attachment for various reasons. Moo Jin is the silent and intelligent one who helps out with all technological aspects of the mission whereas Ah Rang is very happy-go-lucky like Min Young. There’s quite a bit of mafia action in the drama too. You might think that the show is just about their various projects/missions but its a lot more than that. Totally worth the time! I spent two and half days continuously watching it, which says something cause I don’t normally do that. Two thumbs up and just like like like. Do give it a try.


Ratings – 9 stars on 10.

Meera

*All images courtesy of Google.