Sunday, December 8, 2013
2013 has not been a great year for fluff or dramas in general. With a few exceptions garnering great love and ratings, it has been quite a melodrama-oriented and boring ride. Here to shine a ray of hope in the rom-com fluff department is 'The Prime Minister And I'.
Kwon Yool (Lee Beom-soo) is the nation's youngest Prime Minister. At the age of 42 and widowed 7 years ago, he is a workaholic with zero skills at being a father to his three children. Nam Da-jeong (Yoona) is a 28-year-old woman who wanted to be a writer like Jane Austen. Needing money to take care of her sick father (Lee Han-wi), that dream is put on hold and she now works as a tabloid reporter. Her latest task, stalk the Prime Minister to get dirt on his love life. When a scandal breaks out about her being his woman, they find themselves faced with some tough decisions. Enter contract marriage and hopefully, hilarity and romance.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Preview] "The Prime Minister And I".
In the two previous pieces of the 'Strong Drama Women' trio, 'The Norm' and 'The Definition', I talked about how problematic and limiting the portrayals of women often are in Korean drama, with the rom-com drama being my main focus. When it is the genre most watched by and intended for women, it is surprising to see how little it sometimes thinks of them. But in my second piece, I talked about the existence of hope. And hope is here. Bellow I have only a few examples that belong in one or more categories of the definitions I gave in my previous piece. While not the only ones or possibly even best ones (I have not seen every drama out there after all), they are, out of the ones I have seen, good examples of how women can be well developed and respected as characters, while often still maintaining their role in their romance.
There are some character-related spoilers here, which is inevitable in analyzing them, but they are kept to an absolute minimum.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Column] Strong Drama Women - The Examples.
The persistence and aversion to change of the majority of kdrama fans is nothing new. Neither is our overall preference for romance, handsome young men and the less challenging sides of entertainment. However, where one would think there are limits to how strong and forceful that behavior can get, we are often surprised to find out it gets worse.
The trigger for this post is the reaction by the international fan community to the romantic pairing of Lee Beom-soo and SNSD's Yoona for 'The Prime Minister And I'. Now, big age gaps are not romantic to everyone, for various reasons. That is to be expected. It is also to be expected that an older man (at the ripe old age of 44) without model looks will not attract many of the younger fans or those who prefer a cast more on the younger and aesthetically pleasing side. That is all fine. It is also fine to express that. Say we disapprove of it, will not watch the show and move on.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Column] Kdrama Fandom - Accepting Creative Decisions.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Virus epidemics are far from becoming a genre in Korean cinema. Given the lack of variety in genre found in Korean drama, they are even more of a rarity in television. However, 2013 brought us not one, but two series with that same premise. OCN's 'The Virus' went for the channel's usual sleek and investigation-oriented approach. 'At The End Of The World' is a production aired on jTBC, written by Park Hye-ryeon-I and directed by Ahn Pan-seok ('White Tower', 'A Wife's Credentials'). Having produced some high quality series such as 'Padam Padam... The Sound of His and Her Heartbeats' and 'Heartless City', it is clear the channel is going for a cinematic, detailed and polished approach for dramas.
The premise of 'At The End Of The World' is nothing new for the genre itself. It all starts with a host and the authorities that need to find that person. After a fishing boat sinks under mysterious circumstances, the only survivor, found floating mid-ocean on a liferaft, is brought to shore. Soon enough, people start contracting a deadly super-virus from him; one that has a 100% mortality rate. Enter the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and an investigative team lead by Kang Joo-heon (Yoon Je-moon), a sharp and focused man. Along with his team, including the rookie Lee Na-hyeon (Jang Kyeong-ah), they start a race against time, to stop the virus from spreading, but also, find the antibodies the carrier has within him.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "At The End Of The World".
As much variety as the Korean wave offers, there are certain works from each industry that simply stand out. Their popularity soars so high, that it is nearly impossible to stumble across an online portal, blog or other hallyu-related medium without seeing them mentioned or featured there in some major way. 'You're Beautiful', written by Hong Jeong-eun and Hong Mi-ran ('My Girlfriend is a Gumiho', 'The Greatest Love') and directed by Hong Seong-chang ('The King of Dramas'), is such a work. Everyone knows it, most have seen it, many love it.
'You're Beautiful' has a premise often found in Asian dramas and brings the usual tropes it carries with it. This series is a gender bender. When Mi Nam , a rookie idol about to make his debut with a band called A.N.Jell, cannot return to the spotlight after his plastic surgery went wrong, his manager has an idea. He finds the young man's twin sister and hopes to disguise her as him and fool everyone, including the band, until he can return. The problem is, miss Mi Nyeo (Park Sin-hye) is aiming to become a nun and is generally not well-versed in telling lies and pretending. Add to that Hwang Tae-kyeong (Jang Geun-seok), the band leader, whose arrogance and sourness are only matched by his demanding personality and dislike for the rookie, and it's a recipe for disaster. And as usual, romance.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "You're Beautiful".