Current K-Dramas, Take 2

By ‘current,’ I mean dramas I am watching now.  That may also mean dramas that are still airing, but it might just mean some ten year old drama that I am currently watching. (Okay, but also by ‘current,’ I mean dramas I’m watching now when I remember to update this post!)

I continuously- but quite irregularly- update and revise this post, as well as the first two and last links below on an as needed basis, so you might check back from time to time.

Currently:

Bride of the Water God (gorgeous, funny)

Saimdang (also gorgeous)

School 2017– I always love these.  This is no exception. I love the formula, and the rebellious Kim Jung Hyun, who I have not seen before, falling in love with the adorable female lead is pretty much the cutest, funniest thing ever.

Manhole: A timeslip comedy with Kim JaeJung, who I like even more than Lee Min Ho, partly because of his adoption story in real life, it’s funny so far, cheesy, but self aware about that.  Through the agency of some tiny aliens he knows nothing about, he keeps falling down a manhole into different parts of his past life and he’s trying to stop the girl he loves (but has never confessed to) from getting married in a week.  It’s sort of been done before, but never with this much hilarious cheesiness.

My Shy Boss (or introverted boss)- Love the lead actor and he’s really bringing his heart and soul to this role. The lead female is not so great in this part.  She is annoying and looks more like a petulant, bratty child than a serious adult.  But the story is pretty good, and interesting to me as another introvert whose introversion is at a level that would  probably would be considered a mental illness if I asked a professional, except I don’t want help.  I love days where I see nobody but myself and my family, and sometimes… well.  Never mind. If I had his money, I’d just embrace the introversion and use the funds to support it.
Warning:  There is also a mystery about a suicide so that’s kind of heavy stuff.  But besides the theme itself,  I am just afraid the story behind that isn’t going to be strong enough to justify the way it drives the story, but we’ll see.  I honestly don’t care- the lead actor is bringing all the bacon home for everybody in this one, and I’ll appreciate that no matter where the writers take the suicide that opened the series.

 

On Hold, but I still plan to  some day I might finish (you may have grasped I have trouble finishing things):

Evasive Detective Agency– Drama.net- this one goes by a lot of names. It stars Lee Min Ki (current singer with JYJ, lead in Protect the Boss)- who is a delight as he plays a Taekwondo instructor with lots of energy, but not so strong on brains here. Other actors: Lee Eun-sung, Ryu Seung-soo, Yeh Ji-won- all of them fantastic in their roles, especially the latter two (partly because I do think they are better actors, definitely more experienced, but also because their parts are rich and deliciously funny). This is a goofy, hilarious show that is light on the romance, heavy on the antics.  It’s not just slapstick funny- it has a plot, it has characters I like and really enjoy, as well as find believable. I’m not very far. Episode 4 had one scene I’d want my son to skip- the guys are at the beach, and you can pretty much skip all of it. Nothing happens there that furthers the plot or introduces any characters you need to know. Otherwise, so far this has been nothing but fun.

 

 God’s Quiz– at Hulu.

Unusual for a K-drama, this has three seasons. However, Season 1 can be watched as a stand alone series, and it’s only 10 episodes long (2 and 3 are 12 each).   This is a medical/crime drama starring Ryoo Keok-hwan,  the same actor who played King Gongmin in Faith.  He was one of my favorite characters in Faith because he brought so much heart to that role, and he’s fabulous here, too.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s not quite your typical K-drama male star- he’s cute, but he’s awfully short for K-drama idol standards and he’s cute, not hot, not beautiful.   Just… cute, with an engaging grin and his character has a really delightful brand of witty sass (kind of reminds me of my son, actually).

I’m loving it so far. I can’t watch the autopsies, but I like the characters, the stories are interesting, often including some social commentary which I find informative and thought-provoking,  rather than heavy handed. It’s not a comedy, though there are plenty of  funny moments.  I really like this one the best, I think, of all of the above, and if it keeps up this pace and style, it’s got a fair chance of being in my top 20, maybe even the top ten.

Why the title? Dr. Han, our young star, is a genius (I know, tiresome, but he’s not tiresome) who knows it. He’s one of the youngest doctors ever because he’s such a whiz kid.  For some reason, he leaves the hospital where he’s the bees knees and a highly admired (nearly worshipped) young surgeon and moves to an investigative unit where he helps out with autopsies and crime (think Bones, with a more Korean moral compass, which I appreciated).  He thought he was going to be placed somewhere else, but he ends up here, and he’s miffed at first. His mentor, Dr. Jang, asks him at the end of his probationary month if he still wants to be moved:

Dr Jang: So you want to quit?
Dr Han: No. I want to continue. I want to go out and investigate as well.
Dr Jang: Why the sudden change of mind?
Dr Han: What should I say? For the first time in my life I feel like I met the biggest textbook in my life. It’s so hard to even flip the pages and even if I do, it si just so hard to read. What is it that makes it so hard? Now I want to know.
Dr Jang: I understand what you mean. The problems you have to solve through the cases are like a quiz from God. A Quiz made so that the arrogant human won’t get too proud. God made it for that purpose. But in these quiz there are no hints in it. It’s a question you have to solve forever. A very brutal homework.
You have to watch this one closely- at first it feels like each episode is a tightly wrapped package all of its own, but actually, the episodes are beads, and some details in each episode serve to create links to a chain that strings those beads together in a cohesive fashion to tell a story with a surprising twist (and I am not often surprised)
I finished the first season, and while it was not always easy to watch because the crimes are more serious than my usual K-drama fare, and because there is a bad guy who is brilliantly horrific, I was really blown away by this one.  The ending was better than the beginning.  A very strong show- the weakest point being the romance, but I didn’t mind.  If you hate crime shows, you probably won’t like this in spite of the very interesting social, moral and ethical questions it presents with each episode as well as the overall theme. If you like them even a little bit, you should watch this.
God's Quiz with 류덕환, Ryu Deok Hwan
Season Two:  They chose a different writer for season 2, and that shows. There’s a continuity issue with season 1.  There are a couple things that look like plot holes, but maybe they will be fixed. The romance side of things just beggars believablility, even for a K-drama.  It’s the most platonic dating relationship I’ve ever seen.
However, I still like this. It has the same actors with a few new faces, and these actors are great for their roles.  I like it a lot.  One of the strongest things about it is also the hardest- they deal with some hard issues about society, disabilities, abusive adults, exploiting the weak (including the disabled as well as children), and I like how they handle these issues better than any other K-drama I’ve ever seen.  I generally hate how K-dramas handle disabilities (and adoption issues), which made this show all the more special to me.  This show pretty much gets it right.
 Episode 8 about killed me, it broke my heart so bad, and if child abuse of a particular sort is a trigger for you, you won’t want to watch this one, but it was powerful.
It also fascinates me how well they are able to communicate what happened, and the tragedy of it all, without ever showing anything remotely graphic.  It’s good story-telling and  good directing.  Seriously, the most graphic (and all the more heartrending) scene in an episode about a molested child shows a tearful face and a broken shoe buckle. That’s all.  It puts the tell-all and bare-more genre to shame, it really does.
Season 2 was not quite as cohesive as season 1, and there are a couple of plot elements that bordered on jumping the shark. However, I love the questions this season asks about faith and I love even better the way Dr. Han answers them.
God's quiz 3 안내상 or Ahn Nae Sang season 3, which is back to being written by the same writer as the first season.  The lady cop is away ‘studying,’ which is what they always do to break up a romance or to handle an actor or actress who for some reason cannot return to the role.  To replace her we have veteran actor Ahn Nae-Sang (pronounced more like nay-song), or 안내상.  He’s been in just about everything, and he is always a treat to watch.
Here he plays a 20 year veteran of the police, a down to earth, very rough around the edges, somewhat jaded cop who relies on his experience and his gut. This makes him a great foil for the smart alec genius young doctor.
It’s kind of interesting as a drama buff to watch the way this writer undoes all the changes the second season writer made to the story and put things back, and then begin retelling the story the writer wanted this character to have.  So far, I can unreservedly recommend the first season as excellent viewing with remarkable twists.  The other two seasons are interesting, but not nearly as tight and good as the first, and you don’t need them. the first season does stand alone.
I don’t think I like where God’s Quiz is going in the third season.  But now I should finish it because I hear tell there’s going to be a fourth season, which would ordinarily kill a K-drama for me, but I do really, really enjoy this main actor’s work.
And now Season 4 is airing.  I really need to catch up.
 turtle dragon blog link

turtle dragon blog link

Dramas I’ve completed, recommend, and reviewed: see here.

K-Dramas I almost liked– most of these are  darker than I usually prefer. Some are also-rans- I thought I was going to like them, which is why I started reviewing, but they there were just too flawed.

Things to know when watching a K-drama

More Things To Know

Addiction, and why I like K-dramas

You might be watching a K-Drama if….

More K-Dramas I’ve watched

Where to get your fix: Sites where you can find subtitled K-dramas (and dramas from other countries, as well. I’ve watched a handful of J-dramas (Japanese) and TW (Taiwanese) dramas, but I vastly prefer the K-dramas, even though I know more Japanese – I got an A in my Japanese 101 class back in the day, when we actually lived in Japan and once I even knew both hiragana and katakana- but still K-dramas interest me vastly more).

Need to read still more about K-dramas?

CrazyforKDramas

Dramabeans– must reading.

Outside Seoul

Learn more background stuff about Korean culture from askakorean

belecticground

The social commentary at one of the above sites  in particular drives me nuts. It won’t take long for you to figure it out. You can tell they were well indoctrinated either by direct contact with a woman’s studies program in college, or by some secondary influence. The double standard is bad, but it’s the near complete blindness to it that is absolutely jaw dropping.  They freak out over all alleged, perceived, imagined or real disrespect, misogyny, and patriarchy involved in a wrist grab (a common K-Drama thing, and also something I actually do to my husband and kids when I am really excited about something and want to drag them over and make them share the moment with me).  I understand that many of the wrist grab scenes are about asserting male power, I just don’t agree that all of them are, nor do I agree that asserting one’s gender is always and everywhere a bad thing.

But what really sticks in my craw is having somebody who cannot bypass a wrist grab without genuflecting to one’s Womyn’s Studies brainwashing also giggle, chortle, and cheer like spiteful school girls when a female character is violently abusive towards a male. I’ve witnessed the giggling and cheers over scenes like  a female kicking a male character in the shins, or worse,  between the legs, merely because he has annoyed her by being in her way, making a dumb suggestion (not a lewd suggestion, I mean coming up with what she deems is a foolish suggestion for fixing a work problem) or had the audacity to ask her out or tell she’s pretty.

I have watched them issue virtual high fives of delight over scenes which have the female lead demonstrate her ascendancy over the male lead by leaving him with a fat lip, black eyes, and/or a bloody nose- again, only because he’s annoyed her, not as a matter of self defense against an actual attack.

They think wrist grabs are abusive but male battering is hilarious. I think the double standard is disgusting, and I’ll take honest patriarchy over the hypocrisy and vicarious thrills over violence of this brand of feminism any day of the week.  And twice on Sundays.

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One Comment

  1. Christine Shah
    Posted June 4, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I have been disgusted by the double standard you speak of for 20+ years. Idiotic. Ptooey.

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