Random Rant

I’m not feeling well at the moment. I think I got food poisoning or something along those lines. Note to self and those who are reading this: do not consume leftover pizza that is four days old, no matter how “normal” it looked or tasted. I repeat, do not! Trust me on this one.
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I finally finished watching Save the Last Dance for Me after it has been taking space on my computer for months. I also finished The Snow Queen. So that’s a total of 36 hours of my life, mostly wasted on nothing more than eye candies. Surprisingly, I liked the former more than the latter even though it doesn’t have Hyun Bin. I’m not that shallow, you know. I can be objective too, sometimes.
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I’m also done with Hwang Jin Yi and I loved it! One of the best dramas I’ve seen to date. I’ve been wanting to write a review of sort for the drama but it’s quite difficult coming up with right wording and organizing all my thoughts into one that’s coherent and detailed. I’ll try and see if I can get one together because I really want to get the word out on how great this show is. Highly recommended!
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The premiere for Witch Amusement will be pushed back as Surgeon Bong Dal Hee will be extended to 18 episodes due to its high ratings.

I also read that the airing date for Time Between Dog and Wolf will be further delayed until September. Aish, really. Let this be the official date. Please, no more delays!
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Thanks to this blog, my respect for Hollywood has changed dramatically. Not that Hollywood cares about what a little person like me thinks about them, but I’m writing this as a kind of “just so you know..” type thing.
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I’m probably going to do episodic summaries and/or screencaps of Hello!Miss because this blog is, after all, “mukgu-fied.” March 19th is the premiere. It’s next Monday! Woot woot!

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An Interesting Article

I stumbled across this article while browsing the Hwang Jin Yi thread at soompi. Do take a look as there are some very insightful comments that I agree with. Also, if you haven’t checked out Hwang Jin Yi, I highly recommend it. I love this drama. It’s one of the best dramas of 2006/2007.

Special thanks to rubie for posting the article.

Sometimes, it’s good to be proved wrong
By: Chun Su Jin
sujiney@joongang.co.kr

There are times when I feel glad to learn that I was wrong. I used to guess that my 30s would be an end to my fun because of my favorite poem, “Hitting Your 30s and the Party Is Over.” However, I’m glad that I was wrong, because, voila, I’m officially a 30-something now and the party has just begun. Also, I used to jeer at made-in-Korea TV dramas for their love of such cliches as a lead character suffering amnesia or some kind of an incurable disease. However, I found myself proved wrong again last year, especially with a bundle of well-made TV dramas by A-1 scriptwriters like Noh Hee-gyeong of Good-bye Solo and A Miracle and Kim Do-u of What Are You Doing, Fox?

Speaking of Noh Hee-gyeong, whom I have called “Mr.” in my past few columns, I have to correct myself as she is Ms. Noh. And I, who love being a woman, am immensely glad to say that we have another talented woman on the TV scene. After wrongly changing the gender of Ms. Noh, I had a call to correct me from a reader. Allow me to express my gratitude for her kindness to take the trouble to find my cell phone number and give me the right information. I have no excuse but to say I’m sorry about my mistake.

I was recently glad again to see my prejudices proved wrong by the TV history drama Hwang Jin-yi, which ended last week on KBS-TV. It told the story of Hwang Jin-yi, who was a legendary gisaeng of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910). The gisaeng were a class of women who were allowed to learn arts including literature, dance, music and conversation, in order to entertain noble men during drinking parties. In the strictly Confucian society of the time, becoming a gisaeng was the only way for a woman to be allowed to study and display such talents.

The first few episodes appeared to be nothing more than picture-perfect “Welcome to Korea” style publicity material to promote tourism to Korea, as the drama showed picturesque scenes of the country with a group of beautiful women dressed in spectacular traditional clothes. However, as the story developed, the drama earned kudos for depicting the life of Hwang Jin-yi from a feminist perspective.

Based on bits and pieces of stories about the character, the drama built up the story of Hwang Jin-yi and her rivalry with her mentor and her contemporary gisaeng. In describing the rivalry, this drama did not rely on the cheap sure-fire strategy of a catfight, but instead, brought a spirit of professionalism to the gisaeng characters, as they refused to be called mere courtesans but artists. The rivalry between the characters was dramatic enough to catch viewers’ eyes, as the characters fought to compete in terms of talent, which they cultivated through harsh training.

The lead character Hwang’s mentor, Baekmu, had an icy cold attitude to her pupil yet still fostered her talent and professionalism. When Hwang Jin-yi faced a crisis, her rival, Buyong, asked around for help to save her life, with due respect for their rivalry-turned-friendship. Then they fight elegantly to pit their artistic talents against each other. There is a certain beauty to a catfight when the fighters are not mere kittens but fully-grown tigresses with both respect for each other and professionalism.

Another point of the drama was that the male characters played only minor roles. One symbolic scene in this sense came in the second-to-last episode, when Hwang Jin-yi told the love of her life, a noble man, to give her up, saying, “It’s better to shine in our own lives, instead of withering away slowly for each other and giving up our dreams and passions.” This was just one of many punch lines in the drama, which is now sorely missed on KBS-TV. However, now that we have a whole new year ahead of us, I’m keeping my fingers crossed to be able to see better-made dramas from now on.
Happy New Year!
Source: INSIDE JoongAng Daily

First Impressions…

Since I recently finished watching Rude Woman and Fireworks, I decided to take a look at several of the new dramas that have begun airing. Regarding the two that I finished, one of them I enjoyed tremendously and it was fun throughout. The other one had me scratching my head, wondering “what the hell is this crap and more importantly, why am I still watching it?”

Anyway… Below are my thoughts on the first episodes of three new dramas.

Hwang Jin-Yi

The first episode looks promising. Although, I’m not really into the ancient dancing routine, I’m especially in awe of the colorful and gorgeous hanboks. And props to the young actress who plays the child Hwang Jin-I, who does a terrific job, noticeably in the crying scenes. Really, how do the Korean production teams manage to find such talented young-uns? However, the child actress who is part of the palace dance troupe, the one that did that dagger routine, really creeps me out with her robotic, unnatural smiling face and heavy make-up.

Watch or not? From the quality of the first episode, this one is a keeper.

Fantasy Couple

From the writers of Sassy Girl, Chun-Hyang and My Girl, come another fun and hilarious drama. Han Ye Seul got the snobby, bitchy, I-answer-to-no-one role down good. Surprisingly, HYS’s English is quite good. Very little accent and I can understand perfectly what she is saying. This character is Cruella deVil and Dr. Evil rolled into one. Cruella deVil because of her personality and wardrobe; Dr. Evil partly because of the pet cat and how she’s more affectionate to the cat than to her fellow human beings. While watching her in action, my reaction was similar to those of the people that cross paths with her. That one raining scene at the airport where she makes the passerby walk her to her car with his umbrella and his reaction after she drives away is hilarious. Also, the pet-exchanging scene towards the end of the episode, when that “Bang Bang” song is playing the background, has me rolling in laughter.

Watch or not? Watch it!

Lovers

The storyline here seems like the ones that I’ve seen before from other popular melodramatic dramas. From what I gather, the breakdown of the plot is as such: under odd circumstances, a cold, commitment-phobic man meets optimistic woman with a heart-of-gold whom he falls in love with and who will change his life forever. Dun dun dun… *dramatic music plays in the background*
Although, yes, I do admit that I have watched dramas with trite and predictable plotlines and have found them enjoyable, what I cannot get over here is Kim Jung Eun’s over-the-top expressions. Finally, I am able to understand why some people did not like Yoo Rin in My Girl while I find that character extremely funny and her expressions very cute and endearing. Similarly, fans of Lovers have no problems with watching KJE and even find her actions funny while I sit there watching with annoyance.

Watch or not? Until I’m no longer bothered by the leading actress’s presence, then this one is a pass for me. However, if you liked the previous two installments of the “Lovers series,” especially Lovers in Paris since KJE was also the leading actress in that one, then you’ll probably like Lovers.

Ha Ji-won Speaks Up for Chosun-Era Gisaeng

It isn’t until the setting sun makes the shadows grow long on the set of Hwang Jin-I, the KBS 2 historical drama that took a staggering 20 percent of the viewing rate at its debut, that Ha Ji-won can settle down for a moment’s rest. “This is the first time that I have felt jealous during acting,” she says. “The charisma of a world-class beauty, the intellect to keep her on a par with the scholars in a poetry contest: there was nowhere she was lacking. More than anything else, she didn’t give in to the pressure of her class or of the era in which she was born. She took the life she was given and lived it in an admirable way.”

To the brassy question, “Aren’t gisaeng just the girls who pour the liquor?” the actress kept her cool: “You can look at it that way, but they were at once entertainers and artists.” “Nowadays you can see celebrities on TV and on stage, but in the Chosun period it was the gisaeng that filled that role,” she said. “But they did have to pour the drinks, and sometimes they had to give their bodies, and since they could never love easily, their lives were often filled with pain.”

Through the role, the actress is living the arduous life of a Chosun-era entertainer for herself. “There was one extra who cried real tears during the shooting of a scene where their feet were bound and strung upside to perform a dance,” she recalls. “Physically and mentally, the life of the gisaeng is hard.”

And she added, “For a female entertainer, the closest companion is pain.” Asked if there is a line like that in the drama, Ha smiles. “Yes, it’s a line from the fourth episode. Since I’m going through the joys and sorrows felt by the gisaeng throughout the drama, certain lines speak to my heart word for word.” Ha is an actress who has a wide range of room to be analyzed. In an industry full of stars who have finely chiseled noses and wide eyes, Ha looks like the girl next door. Ironically it was that ordinariness that helped her to grow into a top class actor on the big and small screen. Most of the characters she played in some way broke the mold, and it was possible because of an appearance that can become any character as well as her fine dramatic craft.

For Ha, a drama requiring her to embody traditional feminine beauty is both an opportunity and a risk. “As you know, I don’t have a pretty doll-like face, nor do I have a lot of charisma. But because of that, I can fit better into various types of characters. I often wish I were prettier, though.” In the drama she refused to use a double for the tightrope walk scene. She set up a rope in the yard of her house and learned herself over the course of two weeks. “I felt like I lack something, and that’s why I always want to learn. Interestingly, whenever I want to learn something, there comes the chance to shoot a movie or drama related to it. When I started to get interested in dance, I ended up starring in Duelist, which allowed me to learn both ballet and tango. Do you think I have some sort of psychic power? It’s scary.”
Source: english.chosun.com

doozy: Ha Ji Won sounds very modest and down-to-earth. “… nor do I have a lot of charisma.” What is she talking about? She does charisma because although she doesn’t have the most gorgeous face, she has that special appeal that makes her interesting to watch onscreen.

Hwang Jin-Yi

Cast
Ha Ji Won (What Happened in Bali, Damo, The Duelist)
Kim Jae Won (Great Inheritance, Romance)
Lee Si Hwan (Snow World)
Ryu Tae Jun (Really Really Like You)
Jeon Mi Seon (Steam Flower)
Jang Geun Seok (Nonstop 4, Lovers in Prague)
Lee In Hye (Sassy Girl Choon Hyang, Golden Apple)

Airs
October 11, 2006 (every Wednesdays-Thursdays)

Episodes
24

Broadcasting station
KBS2

PD
Kim Cheol-Gyu

Writer
Yoo Seon-Joo

Produced by
Olive9

Source: WITH S2

doozy: The first episode aired with relatively good ratings (around 20%). I have yet to see it but will post my comments on it once I do.

Ha Ji-won’s Beauty to Brighten Walls in Cannes

The giant, strikingly beautiful face of Ha Ji-won will adorn walls all over Cannes during the international audiovisual content market show MIPCOM 2006 running there from Oct 9-13, the posters advertising the historical TV drama Hwang Jin-I.

KBS Media, which is involved in bringing Korean pop culture to foreign audiences, says at the main entrance to the largest venue, the Palais des Festivals, will be a large visual from the early days of shooting the story of the famous Chosun-era gisaeng (female entertainer).

But those involved are trying to persuade MIPCOM to switch those images of the actress for a newer one, which they think is even more stunning: it depicts her lying down and looking over her shoulder with a decorative wig on her head and clad in a jeogori (short jacket).

Those in charge of the PR for Hwang Jin-I say they plan to unveil a total of five posters, and they have already heard from people who want to buy the series.
Source: english.chosun.com

doozy: Wow, the poster is so colorful and beautiful! The red really stands out. Upon first glance, I couldn’t even tell that it is Ha Ji Won. She looks really different in the poster.

Ha Ji-won’s Agonizing Road to Period Drama

The actress Ha Ji-won came close to despair while practicing the wide range of skills needed for her role as “Hwang Jin-I,” a famous Chosun-era gisaeng or female entertainer, in a new KBS mini-series. Her head endured the leaden weight of a big decorative wig or gachae. Ha confessed to the suffering, saying, “The gachae is too heavy. My neck is already stiff, although I’ve only filmed three episodes. It’s too painful to sleep.” Her fingers are blistered and bruised due to hours of practicing the gayageum, a 12-stringed Korean harp, and geomungo, the six-stringed zither at which the Chosun-era entertainers excelled. Ha is even practicing even tightrope-walking.

To keep up her strength, she is eating eels, which are believed to be good for stamina. And her pains are rewarded with a sense achievement: after all, she now has several skills she never dreamed of. “I want to break away from the typical image of gisaeng and create a new one to win approval from women,” she says.
Source: english.chosun.com
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doozy: Wow… Now, that is suffering for your art! And man, this is an episode-drama so Ha Ji Won is going to be in pain for a while. Be strong, Ha Ji Won sshi! For what it’s worth, you look gorgeous in the traditional costume. Those pictures above are breathtakingly beautiful! I love the colors and the extravagance of the hanboks. I like her poses as well. She looks very regal and sophisticated.