Kdrama Reviews

The King: Eternal Monarch Review – Why I Wish The Writer Would Have Written A Better Script

Ugh so much potential, this drama had so much potential! But oh well, what is done is done!

Lee Min Ho and I have a long history. He was actually the very first Kdrama male lead I EVER watched. Back in January of 2012 my cousin introduced me to my very first Kdrama: Boys Over Flowers. Gu Jun Pyo was definitely not the type of man I was used to crushing on, those curls were SO not my style and I thought his outfits were over the top.

I mean, look at him…

However, with time, I looked beyond it (haha) and ended up really liking Lee Min Ho and his acting!

When I heard Lee Min Ho was finally back from the military, and that he was going to star in a new drama, I was curious to see what type of project he had chosen. However to my disappointment, it wasn’t exactly anything new. Sorry Lee Min Ho!

Photo Source: https://programs.sbs.co.kr/drama/theking/main

I’m used to seeing him play very similar roles, and for once wished he would try something a little different. The King Eternal Monarch was a fantasy romance thriller, set in two parallel worlds, one being modern day Seoul in the Republic of Korea and the other in Busan in The Kingdom of Korea.

I don’t deny that the synopsis did seem intriguing at first but from the very first episode we were plagued with a hundred different things going on. We were introduced to our main characters and to the crossing of the barrier between the two worlds.

Let me tell you, a friend of mine from Singapore and I had been commenting on each episode after it came out, we couldn’t help but complain about how many plot twists there were and how we didn’t know how the writer could possibly resolve all the conflicts and answer all the questions by the end of this 16 episode drama.

In a very complicated way, the writer kept introducing us to new characters, people who existed in both worlds, so we were left sitting there trying to piece together who was who and with what purpose the villain, Lee Lim, had decided to take them from their original world and switch them to work for him in the parallel one.

I can’t deny that the visuals and cinematography were fantastic. However the editing in some parts was a bit choppy, I noticed that after the ratings were dropping, they must have either hired a new editor or put a sword to his throat because it suddenly got better, but by that time we were already half way through the drama.

The characters just felt so underdeveloped. Still wondering what Prime Minister Koo’s role was in this whole thing, I wish she had teamed up with Lee Lim and done something worthwhile but instead they made her go from a strong powerful woman, to simply thirsty for power, enough to kill her own double from the Republic of Korea. Lee Lim as well was one of the weakest villains ever. I would have liked more back story of his life, all we knew is that he was illegitimate, but what led him to becoming so thirty for the throne? The same with his previous relationship as uncle and nephew with Lee Gon.

Let’s not forget about the lack of chemistry between the leads. I don’t even blame them or their ability as actors, it was more the lousy script to blame. I’ve seen more chemistry between them off screen. I think only for like two episodes did I ever feel like the love between the two characters was genuine and real. I expected more emotions from them but the director too, didn’t do his part in guiding the actors.

Let’s talk about the good parts in this drama though, enough of the negativity.

My favorite part of this drama was discovering how different the parallel characters were from each other, take Yeong for example, in the Kingdom of Korea he was SUPER serious, very intelligent, well mannered, and stylish. Meanwhile his counterpart Eun Seop from Republic of Korea, was funny, goofy, lacking style and not the brightest tool in the shed. When the two met for the first time, it made for one very enjoyable hilarious scene. The actor who played both Yeong and Eun Seop definitely carried this show on this back, he was fresh, he was fun and honestly I wished he would have had more screen time.

I also enjoyed the Court Lady’s role, she was funny and caring, and also had a secret past, which I WISH would have been explored more. Again, I can’t help but be left wondering if this story would have been a better one in book form or in a full length film, but certainly the 16 episodes didn’t quite do it justice.

*SPOILER ALERT*

Episode 16 left me wishing the writer would have written a better script, because for once the drama seemed fun. I loved the idea of them visiting different time periods. I longed for a final episode where we actually got to see Eun Seop/Nari and Yeong/Seung Ha finally getting together and having at least one romantic scene but we didn’t. We also never saw Lee Ji Hun and his mom finally living a good life. There’s also other unanswered questions but what can we do now?

At the end of the day, this drama was enjoyable, but not overly memorable for me. I look forward to seeing them in other projects, and I know the writer will learn from her mistakes, because truly this could have been a better drama, it had all the potential.

My Rating: 3/5

SO LONG THE KING: ETERNAL MONARCH! OFF TO MY NEXT KDRAMA ADVENTURE!

Kdrama OST

Best Kdrama OST Songs from the First Half of 2020

I’ve watched my handful of drama’s so far this year and if you know me personally, you know I LOVE music. I have a different playlist for every month with different songs, and I’ve been doing that since January of 2017. I’m naturally drawn to the Original Sound Tracks of Kdramas. Here’s my list of favorite OST songs so far this year!

  1. Flower – Yoon Mirae
Listen to this song when driving and I kid you not you will feel like the lead actress of a Kdrama who just realized how much she loves the leading man, and she decides to head to the airport to stop her leading man before he leaves forever!

2. But It’s Destiny – 10cm

This song makes me feel like its afternoon in January, it’s cold, but everything is still alright, the year still looks hopeful.

3. Sunset – Davichi

This song makes want to finally fall in love with the right one, and just experience all of the emotions of being there for someone.

4. Special – Yubin

This song feels like a lonely drive in the rain, wishing he hadn’t broken my heart, who? No clue because no one has broken my heart as of recent!

5. Here I Am Again – Yerin Baek

The perfect song for long distance relationships.

6. The Hill of Yearning – April 2nd

Makes me yearn for the North Korean village in this drama, and also for January, when this drama wasn’t yet over, and I still dreamt of running through the hills of Switzerland in 2021.

7. Sigriswil – Kim Kyoung Hee

This song is perfect for going on a walk, and imagining yourself in Switzerland, picture it, you’re happy, there is no corona, the air is clean, life is hopeful.

8. The Song For My Brother – Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee

A beautiful instrumental to calm your heart from anxiety.

9. Slowly Fall – Ha Hyunsang

Perfect background music for a nice Monday afternoon, just lounging on the couch, or for a calm cleaning day.

10. Who I Strolled With – Poetic Narrator

The perfect song to listen to when you miss someone, a place, or just a time period that is now gone.

11. Together Again – Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee, Kim Kyoung Hee

This instrumental song sounds like an absolutely peaceful, perfect morning.

12. All Day Long – Kyu Hyun

A song for those who have someone to love, or to imagine you do (ha!)

13. Orbit – Hwa Sa

A song to play loudly when you’re feeling frustrated and like you’re living those episodes in a Kdrama where its just conflict after conflict.

14. Gravity – Kim Jong Wan

This one is just a good OST song, dramatic, dark and all.

15. Please Don’t Cry – Davichi

The queens are just too good at singing emotional songs.
Korean Drama Food Recipes

Convenience Store-Style Tuna Gimbap Recipe

If there is something I miss dearly about Korea, it’s their convenience stores. They were the most amazing little stores I’ve ever walked into! I’m sure to the locals they are no big deal, but when you have nothing close to that in Southern California, let me tell you, IT’S A BIG DEAL. Where we stayed during our trip to Korea, there was a GS25 convenience store right at the entrance to our apartment, the amount of times I have wished a GS25 was just an elevator ride away are too many to count. One of the many things I miss is the gimbap. The delicious rolls available with so many different ingredients to choose from. They were so cheap, so good, so nutritious, can we please get a GS25 in Southern California, my local city to be exact?

Photo Source: blog.naver.com/snowper GS25 at the entrance of apartment

I’ll keep dreaming, the best we get is having a local asian market, and trust me I don’t take ours for granted. Here’s my recipe for convenience store style tuna gimbap. Something you can typically make at home, easy peasy, and be able to find the ingredients at your local grocery store, all but one ingredient that is only available at Asian markets, but the gimbap is still good without it, and if you can obtain it, it’s EVEN BETTER.

What You Will Need

  • Sushi Roll Mat – You can buy one here.
  • Sharp Knife

Ingredient List

  • 1 and a half cup of Jasmine Rice or a short grain rice for Sushi (I find that Jasmine rice works fine for me though people will tell you otherwise!)
  • Roasted seaweed packet
  • 7 oz can of Tuna
  • Mayo
  • 2 or 3 Carrots (depending on the size) cut into sticks
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
  • Toasted Sesame seeds (Optional)
  • Imitation crab legs (You will only be using half of the 12 oz packet)
  • Yellow Danmuji (This really gives it that authentic Korean style taste, so if you can find it, please do use it)

This recipe makes about 6 rolls, if you wish to make the whole packet of roasted seaweed sheets, you want to double up on all the ingredients.

Funny side story before we begin, I first made gimbap for the first time back in high school, let me tell you as good as my attempt was, I AM WAY better at making the rolls now, it’s been YEARS, so don’t be discouraged if your first try isn’t perfect!

Let’s get to it!

You want to make your rice first. I have a handy dandy RICE COOKER (you can get the same one I have here, it’s a TOTAL game changer, but if you don’t own one, it’s not hard to make rice on the stove, if you need some help on how to make the perfect rice, check out this article here.

What did we do without you Rice Cooker?

While you are waiting for your rice to cook, you want to begin cutting up your carrots.

You then want to sauté your carrots with just a little bit of oil of your choice, I use vegetable oil, and you want to just sprinkle them with a little salt, cook them until they are tender but not overly soft.

After you are done making your rice, you want to put it into another container so it can begin to cool down. Afterwards you want to add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and mix it in well, this is a key difference between sushi and gimbap, you flavor the rice very differently!

Set the rice aside and get started on your egg omelet. Just two eggs, some salt, oil, and let it form a nice little sheet, you will then be cutting this into little strips.

Next, you want to prepare the tuna, strain the tuna well and add 2 tablespoons of mayo, that’s it! But if you want to add a little kick, you can add 1 teaspoon of Gochugaru which are Korean style pepper flakes, or, if you don’t have that home but have some sriracha, you can add a teaspoon worth and mix well.

You now have everything to get started!

You will want to place your sheet of seaweed on the mat and coat it with rice.
It doesn’t have to be thickly coated.

Then you want assemble the ingredients like so…

Roll it tightly, and set it aside to cut later!

You can totally just eat it like this, burrito style. At the convenience stores in Korea they are sold in a roll like this but they are also slightly cut so you can choose how you want to eat it!

When you’re ready to cut the pieces, you want to make sure your knife is coated with a little bit of oil and that the knife is sharp! Trust me, it will make the whole process easier!

And… you’re done! Yes, it takes way longer than it would if we just went downstairs or across the street to GS25 or CU, but it’s the best we’ve got! Enjoy!

So pretty, I looked like a fool taking this photo outside, I hope you guys liked the photo! haha
Kdrama Related News

Kang Ha Neul Deserves His Best Actor Award for When The Camellia Blooms

So here’s a little backstory of my relationship with Kang Ha Neul as an actor, I first saw him in 2013 when he came out in the drama Heirs, he didn’t catch my attention, his acting was quite forgettable, and I thought he was just some random new actor that I would never see again in another drama.

I then saw him again in Angel Eyes, but the drama was so awful I couldn’t finish watching it, and I honestly forgot he was even in the drama! (My sister had to remind me).

I later watched him once more in Scarlet Heart Ryeo, however, I completely detested his character, perhaps it was because I was more intrigued by bad boy with a mask Mr. Wang So. Regardless of the reason, he didn’t wow me with his acting or his looks. I told myself I would never watch another one of his dramas. 

Back in 2019, I kept getting suggestions for the drama When The Camellia Blooms, I read the synopsis and it didn’t seem my style, I saw that Ha Neul was the lead and remembered how much I didn’t like him in Scarlet Heart, so I completely avoided the drama. That is, until my trip back from New York this March. I had just parted ways with Crash Landing On You and wanted to download a drama to watch on Netflix with my sister on the 6 hour flight back home to California. 

After having seen clips on the drama on Instagram, I decided it didn’t look too bad and I would give it a chance. 

MY BEST DECISION EVER, and it could also be YOUR best decision too.

If you haven’t seen that gem of a drama, I highly recommend you do and soon.

There’s a reason why Ha Neul won Best Actor at the 56th Baeksang Art Awards, there’s also a reason why When the Camellia Blooms won Best Screenplay and The Daesang Award.

You can only truly understand the reason if you watch the drama for yourself.

Kang Ha Neul plays the opposite of your stereotypical Kdrama male lead, so it can be hard to accept that type of male lead at first.

His character has an accent, he’s not very book smart, he’s not a chaebol, he’s not super pale skinned in a suit, with lip tint. Rather he’s presented to us as a normal dude from a small town called Ongsan who loves justice, can fight really well, and is just plain goofy but with a big heart. 

His smile throughout the whole drama will leave you with heart eyes!

The way his character treats the female lead will leave you craving that kind of love and respect and care.

The script is really one of the best ones I’ve seen in Kdrama world.

It’s a very heartwarming story of a single mom, a woman who has been living independently almost her whole life, but lacks self-esteem and courage, but through the trials she faces in Ongsan and the friends she makes along the way including our charming male lead, she prevails and comes out as one the strongest most relatable female characters in Kdrama world. 

As much as I LOVED Hyun Bin in Crash Landing On You, Kang Ha Neul just really showcased a new wonderful side of his acting abilities. He brought this wonderful character Yong Sik to life and changed the definition of “dreamy lead”. We learned that a dreamy Kdrama lead just simply needs to be a man with an extremely good heart and personality, no need for the money, extravagance, and extremely stylish looks or superhuman abilities.

Kang Ha Neul is now of my TOP favorite actors. I’ve watched his variety shows and have come to love his personality too. He’s definitely my kind of man now, my apologies to Ha Neul for judging him so harshly before! 

Here’s a stupid edit I made of us during my spare time today after finding out he won best actor. I would CERTAINLY cast HIM as my male lead in the story of my life with ZERO HESITATION.

Kang Ha Neul and I, starring in the Kdrama that only exists in my head!

축하해요, 하늘 오빠! 

Uncategorized

About Me!

Hello my name is Carolina! I am so excited to be writing this very first blog and introducing myself to *hopefully* people who also have a love for all things Korean dramas!

At a restaurant at the Namsan tower in Seoul!
October of 2019

My kdrama journey began back in January of 2012, when my cousin Gaby told me to check out an amazing show on this website (RIP) called DramaFever! I was a tad skeptical at first, the website looked sketchy and the show she wanted me to watch was in Korean! I knew absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing about Koreans. When I jumped into the kdrama world, it was life changing! I learned about a completely different culture to mine (I’m Mexican) and learned little by little about their customs, food, language and about the beautiful country that is Korea. I became OBSESSED. I quickly jumped into Kpop too, for I think that is a little bit inevitable when you watch Korean dramas since the OST’s usually feature some amazing songs, and some singers from kpop groups sometimes get casted in these dramas too. Soon enough I found myself with all the other Kdrama and kpop lovers in my school meeting up for “Kpop club” during lunch! What did we do in this “club”?  All we did was watch music videos on the big screens we had at the time in the classroom they let us use. Ah! Such great memories! If I could go back! 🥺

My kdrama obsession continued into college where I made a friend who was also watching the same drama as me, his name was Marco, we talked about the 2013 drama that was airing at the time called The Heirs at almost any possible moment we could during our Communications class. I realized even guys were into kdramas too! 

There did come a moment though, a moment we probably have all gone through where we tried to quit kdramas. I tried to, I really did but no matter what, I kept coming back. Dramas are just these wonderful escapes from the real world, I had to learn to watch dramas in moderation, that is the key to success. If you watch them in moderation you can still enjoy a good drama and head to drama world, but still enjoy your real life too and make the most of your time! 

In October of 2019, I finally took a trip to The Land of Kdramas, South Korea, and let me tell you, it looks just like the kdramas, so dreamy, picturesque and beautiful, the only thing missing was my leading man! 

After coming back from South Korea, I have come to love dramas even more, because even if I am miles away in Southern California, I can escape for 2 hours to the place I wish I could call home! 

So if you love Korean dramas as much as I do, please follow me along on this journey to spread that very love to everyone else who may still be missing out

LoveAsAlways – Me