Preliminary Review of Great Inheritance

I was asked to watch this for someone. Apparently my massive drama watching and opinions are of some use. Here’s what I have so far.

The premise is enough to carry you through the first few bumps in this drama. It is definitely a slow starter. It doesn’t warm up until about Episode 4, which is slower than most drama. It has some funny bits through episode 5 and six, however the plot is currently losing steam at seven. I see this as poor planning on the writer’s part. The charm of this drama (would have been) the children and how a gangster deal with it and changes with it. Like a human drama type, only injected with humor. Instead, the premise is stretched out fairly far. It’s a regurgitated apple that just won’t get swallowed already. Because the writer seems to not see what she could do with said drama premise, instead she injects things like a long lost father, the loss of a strong matriarch, an old love of the main character and other sub plots, which kind of detract from what this story is about.

Besides the weak plotting, the acting delivers fairly nicely. Kim Jae Won’s acting has enough variation from his other roles that there is a different sense to this character than previous and Han Ji Min holds up her end too. The acting has a nice subtlety to it where the actors don’t take themselves seriously, but do take the job serious enough to pull it off.

Overall, so far from about half way and my predictions this is one of those dramas, you’d put just above the filler dramas, but below the show stopper dramas. The kind of drama you watch when you’re bored, but want to be entertained, but not the kind you watch when you want to lose sleep for 24 hours worrying how it will end.

Hong Gil Dong Explanation about the sword

Spoilers for Hong Gil Dong and the explanation I have about the sword.

KH= the current King’s name.
HGD= Hong Gil Dong.
GF Ryu= Grandfather Ryu.
CH= Chang Hwi
YN= Yi Nok
Queen= CH and KH’s mother.
King= Previous King.

Actually, it’s something like this: The Queen killed the King. Everything that has been said in Episode 21, indicates that the Queen killed the King (High treason if she’s caught). The King had decided that his eldest son would inherit the throne, however, at least grandfather Ryu did not agree to this. So they basically killed off the King. Then the Queen had a sword made. This is the fake sword mentioned in episode 21. It has the inscription on it. She told Lady Noh. If this sword goes to light, then this puts the Queen in direct power as a regent. This is because kings can’t take the throne until they are twenty years old. CH is too young. This also means the Queen can have power over the Kingdom for the fourteen years. If the Queen was this back stabbing, this forces KH to kill her. Minister Hong, probably knew about the plot of the fake sword, but thought he couldn’t reason with an insane King. So he kept the sword. I think he kept it out of guilt for killing his best friend, who, from what I can see so far was caught between loyalties and pulled in by the Queen and his father, because otherwise the story doesn’t float and there is a huge plot hole about YN and where her brazened honesty and morals come from. (Explicitly said by Minister Hong). If Minister Hong knew about the sword, he may have petitioned the King to kill the Queen, which eventually turned the King insane. The thing about Minister Hong though, is that I think the reason he insisted so long on KH was that little talk they had in the hall together. I some way that was his hopes for HGD, which is why he spared HGD by telling him to not interfere with the execution. By doing the execution, he was able to be loyal to both his son and King, and get rid of his previous guilt. Something he couldn’t do when he was alive.

BTW, most of this I know from reading and watching some Historical novels/shows. This would be something the average watcher in Korea would also know as well, which is why its not explained in detail. The best source for political intrigue is the Memoirs of Lady Hyeongsun. She tells a lot of the reasons behind political motivations in one of the most tragic plot intrigues there was.

In addition, I sincerely think that Minister Ryu was innocent of all crimes launched against him–I think he really, really thought that the sword was real, otherwise the comments about how virtuous don’t make sense. Making the real evil person in this, Grandfather Ryu.

Preliminary Review of Who are You?

Go Ah Ra’s acting is a weak point for me. It’s mostly screaming. It doesn’t have that undercurrent I like. I don’t feel depth from the acting. When she’s acting happy in the first two episodes, I don’t feel that subtlety of frustration or grief from her which I really want to connect to her character.

Yoon Kye Sang and Kang Nam Gil are the highlights. Yoon Kye Sang’s acting has gotten better, but he’s still playing much younger characters. His impressions of Kang Nam Gil are kind of funny, like he’d been doing it before this drama. Kang Nam Gil has also lost a lot of weight.

Things to watch for
- the number of days used per episode.

So far Episode 1 = 0

Episode 2= 2

Key phrase to remember: 누구세요. Nuguseyo. “Who are you?”

General notes

So far, Skipping episode 1 won’t make you lose anything. If you’re DLing this won’t have you miss much. You just learn that Cha Seung Hyo is uptight, but that’s recapped in the second episode. They could have cut the first episode without losing anything.

This reminds me of a lot of K-movies that have been coming out lately. Such as Holy Daddy. There are others along this same line. This kind of story is hard to film and hard to act, which is why I am glad there are heavy weights in the critical roles. However, if Go Ara doesn’t pick up her end with at least some subtlety, this drama won’t be able to carry itself to the end evenly.

I’m so far wary of how adoption is going to play in. I’m also wary of Go Ara’s acting. Also I’m watching actual time used as in 3 hours versus what is portrayed.

Ranking so far: Filler drama.

옥션 하우스/ Auction House

Title: 옥션 하우스 / Auction House
Type: Drama
Genre: drama with a little romance. Slice of Life.
Cast:
Yoon So Yi as Cha Yun Soo
Jung Chan as Oh Yoon Jae
Kim Hye Ri as Min Soo Rin
Jung Sang Woon as Na Do Young
Lee Yoo Jung as Jung Na Kyung
Ok Ji Young as Yoo Min Young
Park Seung Tae as No Kyung Ja
Choi Jong Won as Huh Myung Hwan
Yoon Joo Sang as Son Chul Man
Basic Plot Summary: Cha Yun Soo wants to work for an auction house. Although she doesn’t have an art degree she is hired by Will Auction on her enthusiasm alone. As the drama progresses she learns about her and the other employees as they struggle to get auctions together and make profit.
Hormones:
Very little hormone factor. Jung Chan might pique some ladies’ interests, but there isn’t much to sway people.
Popularity: There was very little popularity for this drama.
Music: The music sucks–it doesn’t really fit the style of what the writers were actually trying for. The music reads like a melodrama, however, this drama is more like a WAFF drama (Warm and Fuzzy Feelings drama) with a slice of life, I think that orchestral pieces and an occasional upbeat song might fit it well… something even in the Jazz range.
Acting: The acting’s strength comes basically from the actor’s ability to work together. I don’t think that it was stellar to the point that one stood above the rest, but it’s solid enough that I don’t want to bang my head against the keyboard. They do enough to convey the characters they are given. I kind of like this understated acting for this type of drama.
Visuals: The main interest in the visuals is the art. The actual use of the camera is kind of shoddy and doesn’t fit the writing or the acting of the drama. However, the art and the art history is interesting to look at which holds the attention that’s needed.
Direction: I really didn’t like the direction. The camera angles were shoddy, the choice of music was shoddy, and the eye catch didn’t fit the drama at all. Overall, it was waaaay to heavy and took itself waaay too seriously for what should have been looked at as a slice of Life drama. However, since there aren’t many of these dramas, I don’t fault too much for this.
Story: I think the writing and the individual stories from episode to episode are what truly held the drama together. With the acting these two things made it interesting. Plus the episodic shift from one storyline to another and the experimentation was interesting.
The Good: Definitely the acting and the writing held this drama together and kept me going.
The Bad: The direction and the music were awful. However, I was able to ignore it and tried not to bang my head against the keyboard.

Why Watch it:
If you liked Hwang Jin Yi for the dance element and learning about Korean Dance, you might like this drama for the art and learning about things like wine and creativity creation. This is the basic thing that kept me strung along. Also it does have some innovative styles in story and basic formatting. If you can ignore bad direction and bad music, you may be able to watch this drama. It’s a good filler drama–the kind you watch while waiting between shows.
Things to Watch for:
- My favorite moment is near the end with Oh Yoon Jae and Yun Soo. Watch for the line when they get out of the Gallery and Yun Soo says Eh? It’s the closest point to payoff in the romance area.
- For those who are of age, also every time they mention something Japanese take a shot.
Overview: Good drama for filler purposes when you don’t want to make a commitment. Bad drama if you want to get hooked. Good acting and writing, bad directing and music. I’d recommend this drama.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5. General rating, 1 star.

Capital Scandal (Overview)

Capital Scandal is one of those dramas I really, really want to like. I mean, I love historical dramas of the 30′s, especially war-torn countries and to me, it’s an important history lesson, but I think there is something about this drama that keeps me from watching it. It’s not the slap stick humor–I like Mel Brooks, thank you very much–and it’s not the music–I like swing and jazz. It’s probably something a touch more fundamental, that is the fatalistic nature of the show. In my eyes, Koreans never really gained their freedom from outside influences and in many ways this split the country.

I recognize good acting, good directing, good set work, good costumes, etc. However, I think for me, what really gets to me, is facing the occupation of Korea in relation to my own childhood. Growing up in the US as a Korean American and being labeled as a Japanese stereotype, I think what’s my real problem with this drama is that I’m really flinching at the general oppression.

So I’d say, I’d recommend this drama, but for me, it really drives a nail into an old wound. And maybe this is why it wasn’t so popular in Korea too. Not enough distance and time from the occupation.

쾌도 홍길동/ Kwaedo Hong Gil Dong/Hong Gil Dong Review

Title: 쾌도 홍길동/ Kwaedo Hong Gil Dong/Hong Gil Dong
Type: Drama
Genre: Fusion drama of: Historical and romantic comedy. Later Melodrama plays in.
Cast:
- Sung Yuri as Heo Yi Nok.
- Kang Ji Hwan as Hong Gil Dong.
- Jang Geun Suk as Lee Chang Hwi
Notable other cast:
- Choi Ran as Lady Noh (Was in two other Hong Sister productions)
- An Suk Hwan as Minister Seo Yoon Sub (Also in two other Hong Sisters productions.)

Basic Plot Summary:
Based on a fictional book about a Robin Hood in Korea, Hong Gil Dong, this drama is very loosely based off of that book and the time it was set in.

Hong Gil Dong is the bastard son of a minister. He spends most of his time lazing the day away and taking goods from the various merchants. However, a local monk think he’s destined to be more. Hong Gil Dong, for his part, really dislikes the injustices in this ranked world.

Heo Yi Nok has returned to Korea, fresh from China. She’s an upbeat, naive and carefree girl. She’s been living with her grandfather for the last few years. They both are merchants looking to make a fortune back in Korea.

Lee Chang Hwi, however, has been told since he was young that he’s the rightful king of Korea. He bumps into Heo Yi Nok. This initially causes misunderstanding between them, but over time his heart is softening towards her.

Meanwhile Heo Yi Nok and Hong Gil Dong are developing a friendship that feels like (at least to Yi Nok) that it could be more.

As the question of rightful succession comes into play, Hong Gil Dong and Yi Nok are forced to take sides.

Hormones:
Three notable men, one notable women.
In Sung, Jang Geun Suk, and Kang Ji Hwan are the men.
Sung Yuri is the woman….

Popularity:
Popular on the internet. It was usurped twice by other dramas for number 1, but it did make it into the top ten and stay there.

Music:
The music is a mixture of something like Rock music, and modern music, rather than the traditional music one would find in productions such as Dae Jang Geum and Hwang Jini. This definitely forces one not to take this drama seriously, and adds a fresh new flavor to the drama.

Acting:
The acting is well delivered in all parts. Sung Yuri gives a surprising performance considering the lack of acting skills in Prince’s First Love. She, herself, has admitted that she sees improvement as she tries to grasp the character more than memorizing the lines.

Also watch out for Kang Ji Hwan, who also gives a great range of emotions, both in voice and facial expression. He’s shown great range in Hong Gil Dong, from serious to downright childish.

I would also say that Jo Hee Bong is an excellent actor for this part since he ranges from downright looney to somewhat lucid throughout the scenes with nice fluidity, that one can believe there is not just insanity, but an undercurrent of conscience and intelligence.

Jang Geun Suk also does a nice job with subtlety, though his role doesn’t call for as much range, his facial expressions are often dead on.

Overall the supporting cast doesn’t have a weak bit of acting in them. The supporting cast has done a fantastic job of understanding and getting their characters in line in a short amount of time. The people you hate, you hate for the right reasons, and the people you feel bad for, you feel bad for the right reasons.

Visuals:
Lush visuals, and the right camera angles with that understated tone, make for a very visually pleasing drama. The rich colors of the Choseon Era definitely come alive.

Direction:
I thought that the direction wasn’t lacking. It was subtle, and it’s obvious that the actors are having fun. He was also the director on My Girl and Chun Hyang.

He could have tightened some of the episodes, particularly at the end.

Story: The Hong Sisters never fail to impress me. There are twists and turns in the plot. What would seem to fit into two to three episodes is put into one. It’s a very fast paced drama with a variety of plotlines that don’t drag down or detract from the main two storylines. (The romance and succession storylines.)

I will warn people that the ending is a shocker. From episodes 1-18, it’s a comedy. From episodes 19-24, it’s a melodrama, with an undercurrent of comedy, particularly in episodes 22 and 23, before the big battle.

The Good:
The strongest points in this drama are the excellent writing and the excellent acting. However, the production overall is fairly strong.

The Bad:
Some complaints people might have is that they don’t like the smaller subplots, even if they grow out of the larger plots.

Also some of the melodrama in Episodes 18-24 might drag people down from watching the drama.

In the same token the contrast from sad to funny might also leave people cold.
It’s not historical in the strictest sense either, however, the drama never promises from episode one and the use of contemporary music to be any serious history lesson.

Why Watch it:
If you’re a Hong Sisters fan, this is not far off from Chun Hyang. It’s an enjoyable watch. It follows a lot of Chun Hyang conventions as well. Also it doesn’t deviate from feeling too far from a Hong Sisters drama. It’s funny and light with a gripping storyline.

It might turn people off who don’t like political plots or use of any kind of melodrama in a comedy, however, it also doesn’t use many of the normal drama conventions.

This is also not a simple drama one can play in the background. Nor one where if one likes the usual conventions that one would expect.

Also if you don’t like bittersweet endings, steer clear of this one.

Things to Watch for:
- the Chamberpot scene in the river.
- The way that Hong Gil Dong’s stick wear down over time.
- breath steaming in Yongmun.
- Yongmun cookies.
- Hair and clothing changes in relation to character change.
- How many times Hong Gil Dong sticks some straw or a stick into his mouth.
- Comparing the first scene of the drama to Yi Nok now.
- The pouch.
- The sunglasses.
- The eyeglass/ telescope.

Overview:

Overall it’s a good drama. I think those who liked Goong most likely will like Hong Gil Dong as well. It has good production values, lush colors, good acting and a great production crew. How can you truly go wrong with a Hong Sisters-written drama anyhow? They’ve never failed to impress me.

Rating:
4/5 This is one of those you must watch to see which way Korean dramas are going.

How to Protect Yourself When Entering Historical K-drama Land

I don’t know what has possessed you, but you intend to go to Historical Korean Drama Land. I must warn you first that though there is marriage, it is not a land filled with clean-shaven men and short-haired women. If you intend to get laid with your heart’s affection, there are only two ways to do so. Either be a Gisaeng or one that employs one, or get married and be a main character. With that case you will produce a child. It’s always one shot go. And don’t think you’ll get to kiss as much as a romantic comedy. I still ask, why go at all? If you land in the Three Kingdoms era, don’t think about finding Gisaeng or being one.!

Alright, you’re still determined to go. Maybe you have a hanbok fetish… you still need a few things.

First, to remember it all, you will need some rice paper, and you will have to learn some old korean with Chinese characters. Write the following on the rice paper with ink. Keep in mind you have to swallow it once you get there.

1. All things written on paper that I swallow become true.
2. I am immune to torture.
3. I am immune to arrows.
3. I am immune to poison.
4. I am immune to ink and paper poisoning.
5. I cannot be smite with a sword.
6. I cannot be killed.
7. The person I love will love me back. (To cinch this check ot the romance points.)

Once you get there, recite it, chew it, and swallow.

Now for some warnings:

You may end up after Sejong appeared, in which case if you misfire, you should have a version in Hangeul. If you end up in a time here he’s around, find out from some villagers (Never anyone else) if Sejong has invented a wondrous system of writing yet. You’ll know which to swalow then. The other one is useless in that case.

You are screwed no matter what side you take. And you are required to take a side, unless you’re a peasant, in which case you’re an extra and your life will pretty much suck. I didn’t add the anti-prison curse, because many alliances are made in prison.

Next, for the duration of your visit, don’t believe what’s around you is the actual history of Korea. Save for the clothing, inventions, medicine, you’re most likely living a lie. Besides, most women back then were required to be fat. And most guys didn’t look girly.

You also have a high probability of getting executed, so be careful. Choose your side carefully.

Also the best defense against death is the silver chopstick. Real silver chopsticks. They will detect poison…

Practice your groveling before you go. When you think you’re going to be executed learn how to beg for your life or ask the person in charge to take it. Know which to do in what situation first. You will be spared. But don’t insist too much and offer the other person power in exchange for killing you, because you are likely to get killed.

You also need a pink hanbok. Light pink, relatively solid color. Only show it to the person you intend to be with. Wearing it, but not making a proclamation first makes you lose points.

Once you have all your belongings, I would encourage you to pack some herbal medicines against the following in your sleeves: diabetes, arthritis, snake bite, arrow wound (you may be immune, but it doesn’t mean your loved one will be.), anemia, neck pain.

You may also have to study the following before going: horse riding, sword fighting, archery, Korean politics of the era, the order of he lords in Confucianism.

May you go forth and not die in the machinations of the palace. Good luck traveler! You’ll need it.

Hwang Jin Yi (movie 2007) Review

For those who have watched the original series, which is about a gisaeng that through triumphs and tribulations becomes one of the most popular and sought after gisaeng in the district and in Korea in general. This movie is not that drama.

If you take the drama, drop any sort of art plotline (which was my original attraction to the drama) and add a Robin Hood plot to it, you pretty much get this movie. Also reduce Gisaeng to whores rather than artisans of craft.

I find this a bit shocking since in movies they tend to be more daring, and try to break boundaries of how people perceive events, rankings, and so on. This movie didn’t even dare to go there. In fact, the Robin Hood Plot with Myung Wol as his maid Marianne would probably been able to hold itself if it wasn’t in the gisaeng heritage.

Overall, I think this movie probably be good for those who hated the drama and don’t care about art, and maybe like a fatalistic version of Robin Hood.

Basic Elements of a K-drama.

1. Hospital Scene.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a romantic comedy or a melodrama… there must be a hospital scene.
Even in Historical dramas there must be one visit from the doctor. Think about wy Dae Jang Geum was popular–she’s a walking hospital!

2. There must be an airport scene.
In his airport scene all cellphones don’t work and people always are running around the airport aimlessly.

3. There is only one wedding scene allowed per drama. If shown once, even in a dream sequence, that wedding scene will never be shown again.

4. One montage scene (with recycled footage)
Doesn’t matter what type it is… must have it, the melodramas are more prone to it than comedies.

Over the Rainbow

Summary: Don’t watch this drama. The actors are OK, but the writing stinks. If you want to watch good actors suffer, then watch it. Because the writers just took the actors for pretty faces without content.

The music s worth the download if you can find Hwan Nee’s Tomorrow.

If you do choose to watch it quit after episode 7.