my secret romance (2017)

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Drama: My Secret Romance (애타는 로맨스)
Network: OCN
Episodes: 13
Release Date: April 17 – May 30, 2017
Runtime: Monday & Tuesday 21:00
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
Cha Jin-Wook (Sung Hoon) is a son from a wealthy family. His family runs a large company. Cha Jin-Wook only pursues short term love. He meets Lee Yoo-Mi (Song Ji-Eun) and changes. Lee Yoo-Mi has never had a boyfriend before.

Cast
Sung Hoon – Cha Jin Wook
Song Ji-eun – Lee Yoo Mi
Kim Jae-young – Jung Hyun Tae
Jung Da-sol – Joo Hye Ri

Review

Their relationship was just so wrong and weird on so many levels i dont whether if like the couple or not. LOL. I like the start of the show – they meet in the worst circumstances, had a lot of bad moments together but then spend one amazing day with each other and had a one night stand. then morning came and Yumi ran away. They meet each other again after 3 years. The girl was surprised and embarrassed to meet him again while the guy, who was so affected by what she did, is a little angry and wanted to take a little revenge on her but also so very attracted to her still. and so that’s how the relationship goes.

Point 1 – the way he treated her fpr the most part of the series was totally crap. The girl should have at least stand up against his bullying or even report him for sexual harrassment (if this is real life), or just resign. C’mon, no matter how hot the guy is, he was such a jerk to her and there will be other better jobs for her.

Point 2 – the guy has such an odd way to showing his interest to her. i know the saying, the more the guy teases you, the more he likes you, but hello, he is not a teenager or even a yuppie- he is supposedly a mature 30 something guy. He was so awkward – had to use “business” to get 10 dates with her (why can’t he just ask her out?), he steals kisses and doesn’t even try to tell her if they’re together or not. He sent out so many mixed signals that the girl is so confused.

Point 3 – since the girl is so confused, I also got confused with her reactions. She seemed to like the kisses but she kept saying “it was just a one night stand” so i dont know if she was just denying or she really felt nothing until the end. She joined him everywhere, going on dates, with the kid, she seemed happy but she never asked or thought what they were – are we in a relationship? are we dating? any woman would have gone crazy and demand the guy to tell her what they were.

Point 4 – i could understand she was embarrassed by her mother, but i wasn’t sure why she had to hide the fact that the kid was her half brother. was she jealous of the kid (it doesn’t seem like it) or just plain embarrassed that her mother was so active and wild (i dont know how to describe it but i could understand her). The mother was cringy and a bit pathetic trying to revive her sad attempt at fame.

I loved the side characters in the show – from the nicely groomed assistant and his flirting with the cook, the super sweet best friend and his surprising romance with Hyeri. I didn’t like Hyeri because she felt like he owed her for liking him for 10 years when he didn’t even give her any hope that he liked her back. but then her romance with Hyungtae was just so cute that i was rooting for both of them to get together in the end (The actress’ chiclet teeth was a bit distracting though).

The way they got together in the end, did make up for all the guy’s mistreatment of her so it was nice to see them live happily ever after. Overall, it was a quick watch – if you are the type of kdrama watcher who likes the guy being rude to the girl (like grabbing her elbows and making her do stuff) but still find the guy so hot and irresistible, then you might like this show. otherwise, you might find the romance a bit weird but it’s worth the wait when you see them end up together.

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strong woman do bong soon (2017)

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Drama: Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon (힘쎈여자 도봉순)
Network: JTBC
Episodes: 16
Release Date: February 24 – April 15, 2017
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
Bong-Soon (Park Bo-Young) was born with superhuman like strength. Her strength is hereditary and passed along only to the women in her family. Her dream is to create a video game with herself as the main character. One day, Bong-Soon helps out a bus driver who is being attacked by a thug. Soon, a small mob of thugs attack Bong-Soon, but she is easily able to wipe the floor with them. During this time, Min-Hyuk (Park Hyung-Sik) drives up to the scene of Bong-Soon beating up the group of thugs. Min-Hyuk is the CEO of video gaming company Ainsoft. He has recently received anonymous threats and even followed by an unknown person. Min-Hyuk believes Bong-Soon would make a great bodyguard with her amazing strength. Besides offering Bong-Soon high pay, he even offers her the chance of working in the planning department of his gaming company if she does well.

Meanwhile, crimes against women take place in the neighborhood where Bong-Soon lives. Detective Kook-Doo (Ji Soo) also lives in the same neighborhood. They have been friends since they were kids. Bong-Soon is also madly in love with him, but he has a girlfriend. Kook-Doo tries to solve the case and Bong-Soon and Min-Hyuk are pulled in.

Cast
Park Bo Young – Do Bong Soon
Park Hyung Sik – Ahn Min Hyuk
Ji Soo – In Guk Doo

Review:

I heard a lot of people saying this was funny and great series so even though I’m not familiar with the cast and I though the story might be juvenile, I tried watching this show. In terms of the cast/characters, there were a lot of contradictions in the Bong Soon character. At first I was very annoyed when uses her ‘baby’ voice to talk to people – but then i’m thinking maybe she is doing it as if trying to sound like a teenager will “weaken” her strong physical capabilities or maybe she really was just trying to act cute. She seems like she is tough when she faces the  bullies and is softhearted coz she tries to help other people, but i couldn’t understand why she was so rude to Minhyuk when she first joined his company. I thought she was so unprofessional. She accepted the job as a bodyguard and she didn’t seem to take it seriously. She uses brute force instead of honing her skills (maybe like trying to become fitter or practicing martial arts, etc), was belligerent to Minhyuk and talk back to him – if she were in a real company she would have been fired so fast her fists wont be able to help her. She acted cute like she was the offended party whenever Minhyuk tells her to act professional and as his bodyguard and was so petty – she should even thank Minhyuk for giving her a job she was clearly unqualified for. And she has the nerve to negotiate to move to the Development team when she has no prior skills or experience. But later during the show we see her become more mellow as she fell in love with Minhyuk and she started liking her job.  With Minhyuk’s help, she was able to control her temper and strength and use them in a better way without endangering the people around her. She still didn’t have a lot of brains til the end but at least she was more humble than when she first started. As for Minhyuk, I really liked his character and was surprised how well the actor acted – his facial expressions are super funny and totally outperformed Ji Soo. Minhyuk was smart, successful, rich, sweet, compassionate, took care of Bong soon a lot. I liked that he was willing to extend a hand to Bong soon and the police to help catch the killer and even to the point of almost getting killed himself. Ji Soo’s chracter was the one that was tough to like (in my case) and I think it’s mostly because of the actor -I think he also had one or two facial expressions the entire time. In terms of competency – he is tenacious for trying to solve the serial murder case to the end, but i also felt like he was always one step behind without Bong soon or Minhyuk to feed him clues.

As for the overall plot or storylines, I felt like there were too many side plots and too many characters that made the stories confusing and some episodes /characters that were not necessary. The first story about Minhyuk hiring Bong Soon to find out who his stalker was a disappointment. I already guessed that it was the brother that he was close to, but the story didn’t say why the brother did it – jealousy? and he just made a sad, i-was-kind-to-you-when-you-were-a-kid and Minhyuk was so quick to forgive him and the storyline ended just like that so I thought it was just put there so there’s a reason for the couple to meet. Then the whole side plot about the group of gangsters and the construction in the neighborhood, meeting the fake religious person was also boring and i couldn’t see the point of how to relates to the entire story. the side plot about the mom and her friends and her relationship with her husband and jealousy over Ji Soo’s mom was also so-so and just prolonged the episodes. The only side plot i kind of liked was Hee Jin and Bongsoon’s brother’s relationship and the gay officeworker who looked like the gangster – that was a bit hilarious though it eventually got old coz he just kept complaining and whining.

As for the main storyline of the serial killer, while it was thrilling trying to catch the guy, it was also a bit unbelievable because the guy doesn’t seem to have any work aside from a junk shop or even military experience but seemed so smart and outwitted them all. He seemed very handy with electronics and guns, he was also a nobody. it also doesn’t explain why he was doing it – i liked the whole idea of him becoming obsessed with a play he watched and trying to replicate it but then he never did get to complete his plan because then it became a personal grudge and starting targeting Bong soon and her friends. and like i said in the early paragraph, how come the police are so dumb not to have any clues on him at all?? they have to rely on him communicating with them to find out where he is and they had to use Bongsoon to catch him. The only useful thing that group of gangsters did was help them find out which boat he is taking to escape to China.

And for the talk about physical strength vs mental strength and women empowerment, they could have done a better job handling the topic. While Bong soon did mature a little bit by the end of the series, she was still basically using her physical strength and not a lot of smarts. and i dont think she was able to empower other people (and even women) because she just kept hidden /behind the scenes, so even though she helped a lot of people in their everyday lives (kind of like a neighborhood Spiderman), i didn’t feel like she made a difference.

In terms of the love triangle, i think there was no contest – Minhyuk was just the better guy – and i really dont know if it was the actor’s acting – but i never felt like Kook Doo really liked her. Even if he said that he didn’t realize that he already did, it was too late, etc., he didn’t really fight for her and showed her enough and i guess that’s why it was easy for Bong soon to fall for Minhyuk, who early on showed his interest and took care of her.

Overall, if you like fluffy young-ish romance with a bit of mystery/suspense and a couple of laughs, try this drama series. The show is very easy and addicting to watch.

군함도 (Battleship Island)

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Hi! It’s been a while since I wrote my last entry on this blog. Today it’s gonna be my take on the movie “군함도” (Battleship Island). I’ll skip the synopsis part as maandoe already gave you a brief synopsis of the story. For this entry I will keep it short and simple (and trying my best not to give out any spoilers for those who would like to watch it in the cinemas).

 

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First off, the main characters for the movie is Lee Kang-Ok (portrayed by Hwang Jung-min) and Lee So-Hee (portrayed by Kim Su-An). Song Joong Ki and So Jisub portray as the supporting characters in the movie.

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Speaking of the supporting characters, I think So Jisub’s character (Choi Chilsung) is more established in the movie. He was seen as a leader material since the start of their trip to the dreaded island. He will fight for what he believes and for the sake of his fellow koreans stuck in the island. The relationship of Choi Chilsung and Oh Mal-Nyeon (portrayed by Lee Jung-Hyun) was well told in the movie. Starting from a rough start then they were seen as a couple for some parts of the movie.

 

Song Joong Ki’s character came from nowhere. He was in the island for one specific purpose: to retrieve an important person. He might be poster boy for the movie but I think his character was not well built in the movie.

 

Overall, I can say that the cinematics was really awesome. Taking advantage of the huge set really does pay off especially during the climax of the scene. Story wise, I would agree with maandoe that it could have been better. I guess we’ll just have to blame the editors for it. I hope they release a director’s cut of this movie.

The movie has successfully narrated how koreans suffered at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army during the World War II. This movie has everything there is to it, Action, Drama, Suspense, Nationalism, Brotherhood and the never ending successful formula of a father’s love for her daughter.

If you are going to ask me if I recommend this movie? Yes, if you want to see a movie with awesome cinematography. Storywise, I think the story of “71 Under the Fire” is far more better.

 

Hope you enjoyed my review and I do hope you enjoy the movie in a cinema near you!

Battleship Island (2017) movie review

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Movie: The Battleship Island (Goonhamdo / 군함도)
Director: Ryoo Seung-Wan
Release Date: July 26, 2017
Runtime: 132 min.
Genre: Period-1940 / Action / Island
Distributor: CJ Entertainment
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
During the Japanese colonial era, roughly 400 Korean people, who were forced onto Battleship Island to mine for coal, attempt to escape.

Lee Kang-Ok (Hwang Jung-Min) is a bandmaster at Kyungsung Hotel. He decides to go to Japan to protect his daughter, but he is drafted into Battleship Island by force, being deceived by talk to send him to Japan. On Battleship Island, he does anything to protect his daughter.

Choi Chil-Sung (So Ji-Sub) is the top fighter in Kyungsung (old name of “Seoul”). He makes troubles on Battleship Island, but he has a warm heart.

Park Moo-Young (Song Joong-Ki) belongs to the Korean Independence group. He sneaks onto Battleship Island to rescue a member of the independence group.

Movie Review: (by maandoe)

If you don’t think too much about historical accuracy or analyze the whole movie, this is an interesting movie to watch. The movie was visually stunning and seemed to look too real and authentic, like you were transported back to that time and place. The images were at times shocking and brutal, showing the harsh conditions and treatment that the Koreans in the island faced during the war against the cold and calculating Japanese. There were a lot of gruesome deaths and a lot of tears – showing the sickening and heartwrenching impact of war to everyone – from the men, women and child(ren). Some of the scenes were hard to watch but my eyes stayed glued to the screen and never got bored. The entire cast was good – not just the key characters – but even the side characters and the rest of the actors/actresses showed passion in their acting (most likely because the theme/topic felt too close to home).

So now I’m home and in front of the computer (and away from the beautiful face and tormenting eyes of So Ji Sub – lol!), how did i really find the movie? I think for the most part it was great – it had all the possible themes for a war movie – action (fighting and deaths), drama (tears, love), nationalism, a little bit romance, betrayal, good vs evil, we will survive and escape together, but there were times it was uneven. I will try not to post too much spoilers but I felt like there was a giant shift in the storyline on the third act. Before coming into the movie my expectation was that the movie was about Koreans trying to escape the island but halfway through the movie there were no plans of escaping at all. Instead I watch as Park Moo Yung (who came out of nowhere) secretly plot and plan to help Yoon escape – apologies but I’m not familiar with Korean histroy during this time – so I thought maybe they will let him escape and Yoon will change the “war” and help liberate the Koreans from the Japanese. His plan failed ( i actually like the huge twist in the story) ) as well as the rest of the story moving forward. I thought it was a pretty strong plot but when it didn’t happen, the writers, didn’t know what to do or how to move the plot along suddenly, we see Park Moo Yung change his mind (maybe because he briefly interacted with Sohee?) and started helping them get out of the island when he heard that everyone will be killed. and so the exodus (and the main act) started. I thought that was a huge shift of story that didn’t really make that much sense but it had to happen. Also, the mood/tone of the movie was uneven – at times they were happy and playing light jazz music and father/daughter bonding, at times it was brutal with all the guns, broken bones, blood, fighting. I guess the movie tried to put some lighter tone at some parts of the movie so that it doesn’t feel too heavy for the audience – most of the time it works but other times it was hard to think that they could still be happy when they were in that situation already – or maybe that’s the human spirit showing – how resilient people are.

As for the characters, there were a lot of them and I felt it was too bad that they could not give all the characters justice and chance to shine. I think definitely Hwang Jung Min was the main character and actor in this movie (even though it was mostly Song Joongki who got the most media exposure – i think they were trying to woo International audience). He had great chemistry with Kim Suan (who plays Sohee). I loved all their scenes together and I could really feel the love and partnership they have. I think their characters were more developed than the rest because we know where they worked before, how they got to the camp and why they had to get out of there (because of the kid!). Suan is a great young actress, who can cry on cue and make these cute faces that you really want her to live. But i find that her character was a little too much like her character in Train to Busan – almost the same storyline, she is running away with her father and trying not to get killed by the zombies/Japanese – same heartbreaking crying face (which i think the director was exploiting too much – especially at the last scene) to elicit sympathy from the audience. I’m a fan of Song Joongki but i thought his character (Park Moo Yung) was flat – we see him getting orders from when he was somewhere in the desert to get Yoon out but we dont know how he got into the island. He just magically appeared in one scene and stayed there for the rest of the movie. We don’t know his background (except for saying he trained with the US, etc), why he needed to be there (it seemed like he was just taking orders but didn’t really care about the rest of the people in the island). That’s why it was hard for me to root for him – i felt like he was just put in the movie as eye candy, huge draw in the box office, and to have a “hero” who helps the bumbling musician and kid and the rest of the people get out of the island. Certainly we dont expect Kang-ok to lead the team since as the movie has shown, he wasn’t a fighter – he was a musician who used his brains and connections to get ahead. He did have a heart though, which i didn’t see much from Moo Yung until the very end. Lee Jung Hyun was also underused – she was the only female lead actress but she wasn’t utilized that effectively. Yes, she did fight the Japanese men but I wish she was the force that can unite the ladies in the island – i was expecting her to become the lead captain of the comfort women who will retaliate against the Japanese and rally all the girls to fight or carry stuff, etc but most of the time her scene was with So Ji sub’s character. Which is another plot that was under developed. The chemistry and sexual tension between the two was so strong but movie didn’t capitalize much on it until the end, when they were side by side trying to keep each other alive.

And to the last character – Choi Chilsung – I thought he was a very interesting character and was actually the real hero in this movie. As soon as he came into the island, he was very tough and strong – he answered to no one. One of my favorites scenes were actually all with him – the first one was the bathroom fight with the team captain. Early on you will see why he’s the hero – on the outside you would think he is just a gangster who wants the power to lead the Koreans there, but actually i thought he would rather take the lead than to see another a**hole Korean treating them badly. At least he can keep everyone in line and protect them in case the Japanese tried to do something to them. In the second half of the movie, So Ji Sub almost became secondary to Moo Yung and Gang ok because of the plot – which i found weird because looking at the dynamics of the team, he led the team, he had the trust the loyalty of the men, but MY and GO didn’t even think of soliciting his help to accomplish their goal. When the Japanese killed a schoolgirl to setup Chilsung – he stepped up so that the other Koreans will not get harmed – i though that was another leadership quality he possessed. He took care of his men by sacrificing himself even if he did nothing wrong. and we see that it took fruit became when the whole-we-have-to-get-out-of-here plan was hatched, his men took the time to get him out of the locked room – if it were any poor leader, the men would have left him there to die. Another leadership quality and why i think he is the real hero? while MY and GO planned to leave the island with the others, he decided to stay – not because he didn’t want to leave, but because someone had to stay to fight the Japanese so they can freely escape. That’s why i feel like his character wasn’t developed too well – From the trailers and the write ups, his character was supposed to be a gangster and was meant to be the brawny but dumb guy and we dont know anything else about him. Was he famous in Seoul? was he the main gangster in Seoul? was he rich? why did he end up in the camp? if he was powerful in Seoul, he surely could have bought the Japanese and not get stuck there so why is he there? And is there really a gangster that has a heart of gold? He protected the Koreans in the island, he protected Mallyeon from getting too much raped. He stopped the fight during lunch and the bathroom. I thought his character and Mallyeon’s character should have had a bigger screentime because they were fighting for something – they were fighting for their country and they were tired of the abuses they faced. So i’m a little disappointed. the last scene where both of them were fighting til the very end. plus the cinematic no audio scene was awesome. CS was not able to keep his promises but at least he made good with one (you’ll know it when you watch the movie).

So overall, i liked the movie even though i thought the story could have been better. Will i watch it again? I probably would. I wish they can actually do a prequel of So Ji Sub’s character’s life before the movie.