Kdrama Reviews

Start-Up EP 11-12 Kdrama Review: Dosan vs Ji Pyeong

DRAMA ALERT!!!! These episodes were tough on our feelings weren’t they?

Emotional, heart-breaking, frustrating, angering. I think those were the feelings we all had watching this past weekends episodes. I don’t usually write blogs for later episodes of a drama, but I saw so much DRAMA going on in the AsianWiki comments for Start-Up! I don’t know if because this show was released on Netflix if it got a lot of new Kdrama fans but it seems people don’t understand how Kdramas are written. People don’t quite understand the first lead, second lead concept and are barely experiencing it for the very first time. Having been around watching dramas since 2012, and having seen second leads not get the girl for so long, has honestly made me numb to it. Newbies though, seem to be having a hard time accepting reality. I’m not here to criticize them though because I’ve been there. I’m here to talk about WHY Dosan is the lead and why Ji Pyeong is the second lead, and why it makes complete sense.

Our poor baby Ji Pyeong. He’s great, honestly I love the actor who plays him. If you failed to recognize his charms and potential in 100 Days My Prince, that was your loss! Sorry it took you guys this long! But he’s great, definitely been on my radar and I hope he gets a good lead role soon, he’s cute, handsome, charming, funny…I can go on, I love him. HOWEVER, we are talking about Ji Pyeong, honestly the character is probably closer to my type, he’s smart, intellectual, stylish, straightforward, rich (haha!) but let’s be real, just because he’s my type doesn’t mean he is Dal Mi’s type. He’s a human being though, he has flaws. He’s arrogant, he’s a know it all, he’s cold, he lacks tact, he has no friends, he’s a workaholic. Our man isn’t perfect, he’s cute but he isn’t perfect.

Let’s talk about Dosan now.

In my case, I have not been a fan of Nam Joo Hyuk until now, he’s personally too playful and boyish looking to be my type but his character has really grown on me. Nam Do San, is not a prince, FAR FROM IT. He’s not a rich chaebol, he’s clumsy, he doesn’t have a way with words, he’s awkward, emotional. The complete opposite of who we are used to seeing as a male lead in dramas. He has both good qualities and bad ones. He’s a coding genius, he has a close tight knit group of friends (which means he’s a good friend if he’s been able to keep them) he’s kind, he’s learned to be honest, he’s not selfish, he cares about the feelings of others. He’s not perfect though, just like Ji Pyeong he has human like flaws. He’s a bit slow, he lacks ambition, he lacks confidence, he doesn’t control his anger well, he’s an overly emotional guy, he has too many insecurities.

However, the question is, which guy is the right one for DAL MI. Not for me, not for you, but for the character of this drama and honestly, she’s definitely formed a bond and connection with the real Nam Do San.

Ji Pyeong didn’t even like Dal Mi! Not 15 years ago, and not at the start of the drama. He wrote those letters in exchange of Won Deok’s approval. Ji Pyeong’s character doesn’t need romantic love, he needs familial love. He grew up without feeling that type of love, and for him the most important person in his life has always been Won Deok, Dal Mi’s grandma. She showed him love, and care, and warmth. If he’s even a little bit human it’s because of her act of kindness. However, had he not crossed paths with Won Deok again, he would have remained ice cold, blunt, and friendless.

Dosan in a way is the opposite. He grew up with a family, a loving family, but with a toxic father. His father always shoving his own dreams into Dosan’s head from an early age, as an only child, all the attention went to him. What Dosan’s character needs, is not familial love, he has plenty, it’s not love from his friends, because he has plenty of that too, but rather love and support from someone who truly likes him for who he is, who will be there cheering him on, not because they are family and they must be there for him, not friends, but a romantic love, that shares the same dreams as him. He fell for Dal Mi because of her support for his dreams, her ambition, her confidence, everything he’s not.

Dal Mi on the other hand had been in love with a fictional character basically for 15 years. Nam Do San from 15 years ago that she was penpals with did not exist. It was a made up character written by Won Deok and Ji Pyeong. Though some of his feelings were expressed in the letters, he wrote those letters as his duty to Won Deok, had he really had feelings for Dal Mi back then, he would have introduce himself. He could have looked for her too all this time, and he didn’t. Had he also met Dal Mi as the girl working part time at a coffee shop, he honestly wouldn’t have fallen for her. He fell in love with the girl she was becoming once she gained confidence from Do San. Dal Mi got the courage to follow her dreams again after meeting Do San and becoming inspired by him starting up his own business. Had she not shown her awesome creativity and intelligence by becoming a CEO for SamSan Tech, he wouldn’t have ever been attracted to her because she wasn’t at his level.

AGAIN, I love Ji Pyeong, he’s just so mature, while Do San is young and inexperienced, so naturally, we find ourselves rooting for the handsome, mature man, but Dal Mi is young and inexperienced too. She finds herself most comfortable being casual, vulnerable, learning and making mistakes, with Do San.

There’s no doubt that Ji Pyeong’s letters, helped her, gave her a friend when she needed one the most, but right now, who she’s come to love is Dosan. He’s her best friend, her partner, her inspiration. That’s why they make sense.

ALL I WANT NOW IS FOR ALL OF THEM TO BE HAPPY. Yes, all of them, In Jae too. I can’t wait to see how the last 4 episodes unfold. Regardless of who ends ups with who, I care more about them all reaching their dreams, to see their hard work finally pay off. To see them all happy as friends, successful, and still dreaming on.

If this drama ends well, I think it will be in my TOP 10 list of favorite dramas of all time. Let’s hope it all does work out in the end!! Until then…

Kdrama Reviews

Start-Up EP 1-4 Review: Allow Yourself to Dream Big and Follow Those Dreams

There’s something SO nice about those end of the year dramas. They always lift my spirits. This new drama definitely has allowed me to dream again, the dreams I had tossed to the trash when this pandemic began.

Photo Source: https://www.soompi.com/article/1424307wpp/watch-suzy-nam-joo-hyuk-kim-seon-ho-and-kang-han-na-are-determined-to-change-their-lives-in-start-up-teaser

I had been looking forward to this drama from the moment it was placed on the radar. Suzy and Nam Joo Hyuk return to the Kdrama world with this intriguing drama about two young adults with BIG dreams. The only problem? They aren’t anywhere close to accomplishing those dreams, yet.

Photo Source: https://meaww.com/start-up-episode-1-review-bae-suzy-dal-mi-aspiring-entreprenuer-dysfunctional-family-kdrama

Seo Dal Mi (Suzy) is a part-timer college drop out, she still lives with her grandmother but hasn’t let go of her dreams of one day being the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. We learn that she gets that inspiration and innovation from her deceased father, who also had big dreams, dreams way ahead of his time, but he lacked the support. His wife didn’t support his dreams, so she left him and took Seo Dal Mi’s older sister with her. Seo Dal Mi chose to stay by her father’s side and support him in starting up his own company. Her father was so close to accomplishing his dream when an unexpected accident happened and he ended up losing his life. Meanwhile, Seo Dal Mi’s mother remarried a wealthy rich man, and her older sister Seo In-Jae ended up benefiting from her step father’s wealth and even changed her last name. They both grow up to live very distinct lives. Won In Jae (Kang Han Na) lives a luxurious life and is the CEO of her own company that she started with the help of her step father’s money. Seo Dal Mi feels that she made the right decision, to stay by her father’s side, and her goal in life is to prove it to her mother and sister.

Meanwhile the two male leads of this drama are entangled by a lie that was told 15 years in the past, when Seo Dal Mi’s grandma took in an incredibly intelligent orphan teenager named Han Ji Pyeong. To cheer up her granddaughter from her parent’s divorce and her sister leaving, she asks the teen to write letters to her granddaughter pretending to be her admirer. The grandma and Ji Pyeong spend a year writing these letters together but under the name of a different person, the name of a random boy named Nam Do San that was on the newspaper for winning a Mathematical Olympiad game. So for the past 15 years, Seo Dal Mi has believed that a boy named Nam Do San wrote those letters to her for a year. She fantasizes of this mysterious boy for the next 15 years, thinking he was real and that he was her first love. She’s left wondering who he was, and what he looked like.

Flash forward, 15 years later, Seo Dal Mi, in order to save face, lies to her successful older sister, and tells her that she is actually starting up a business with this man named Nam Do San, and promises they will attend her sisters party. The real Nam Do San then enters the picture, but he is nothing like what she imagined. He’s smart for sure, but he’s not successful, his company can’t even get an investor. His office is a little shack he shares with his friends, and he was only able to afford the shack because he borrowed money from his parents.

Meanwhile, Han Ji Pyeong, went from orphan, to one of the wealthiest men in Korea, a super well known professional investor. Although he didn’t write the letters on his own, he feels a responsibility to Seo Dal Mi and vows to her grandmother that he will help Seo Dal Mi save face at this party and make the REAL Nam Do San show up. So after 15 years, Dal Mi finally meets this Nam Do San, and they both find themselves instantly smitten. In her case, believing she finally met her first love, and in his case, finally meeting someone that believes in him and thinks he’s cool.

AH! I REALLY WANT THESE TWO CHARACTERS TO SUCCEED. SO BAD.

I guess I see myself in them, we all have these dreams, these goals but they sometimes seem almost impossible. I love how both of them are determined to succeed, even when people have told them NO, even when they have been criticized for being hopeless dreamers.

I look forward to seeing their romance develop, and see how far they get with this lie. She’s bound to find out he’s not the one that replied to her letters. Her sister is also going to find out that Dal Mi was lying all this time. Han Ji Pyeong will inevitably regret not telling Dal Mi the truth from the start and revealing that it was actually him who wrote those letters with her grandmother.

I highly recommend you guys start watching this drama, trust me, it’s not a boring storyline, rather its kind of inspiring. The OST is already AMAZING too. I also really like the humor and the cinematography. It feels so fresh, so motivating! Will you join me in watching Start-Up on Netflix? I hope you do! I am sure it’s going to be a SUPER fun ride.

Where To Watch: Netflix

Kdrama Related News, Kdrama Reviews

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay EP 1-2 Review – Tim Burton Meets Kdrama World

MY GOODNESS!

Two incredibly strong first episodes! I don’t think I’ve watched a drama like this one in a long time.

Long hours were definitely put into creating this drama. The music, the way the storyline was introduced to us, the haunting Tim Burton-like animation, and visuals, it felt like I was watching a film!

Photo Source: https://ahgasewatchtv.com/2020/06/06/tvn-released-poster-of-upcoming-drama-with-kim-soo-hyun-and-seo-ye-ji/

The drama began telling us in animation form the story of a girl who lived in a castle, she was lonely and tried to make friends, but they were afraid of her and called her a “monster who brings along the shadow of death”. She ends up saving a boy from drowning, and he ends up following her around wherever she goes, for whatever reason, the shadow of death that followed her disappears after this. As if to test the boy and see if he will remain by her side, she ends up showing him her dark side: she rips the wings off of the butterflies. At seeing this, the boy becomes scared and leaves running. The girl is left alone again and the shadow of death returns telling her: “No one can ever stay by your side, because you’re a monster”. We are then shown the main character Ko Moon Young as the grown up version of the girl in this story and it is revealed to us that the shadow of death might be referring to her mother, since she replies “Yes, mother” to the words said to her by this shadow.

It’s a very interesting way of introducing us to the main character, she is a children’s book fairytale author, so it makes sense for her to tell us her story through a story. There’s still a lot of we don’t know about her, but one thing is for sure: She’s had a very rough and dark upbringing.

We are then introduced to our male lead, Moon Kang Tae and his older brother Sang Tae who has autism. Life hasn’t been easy for those two, it appears that Sang Tae can’t keep a job since “he’s too much to handle”. Sang Tae worries that Kang Tae might get upset at him for causing a scene and losing the job but we are quickly shown how much Kang Tae loves his brother, how forgiving and understanding he is too. He makes a living as a caregiver at a psychiatric hospital, he has many scars on his body from his long history of working with patients with psychiatric problems, but he seems to find his job fulfilling in some way, since he is good at it.

What brings these two characters together is one interesting encounter at Kang Tae’s workplace. Moon Young is sitting there in a clearly marked NO SMOKING area, smoking a very fancy cigar, waiting to read her book to the children at the psychiatric hospital. You can tell she’s not one to easily care about rules, and lacks consideration for others. She also has the habit of destroying beautiful things, as she plucks off the petals from a nearby flower shrub. I wondered if this reminded Kang Tae of the girl he once knew, or if he simply was very bothered by her smoking, but regardless of the reason, he approaches her and asks her to please stop smoking. They lock eyes, and for a moment they stare at each other as if they recognize one another. She then asks him if he believes in destiny and explains to him that “If someone shows up when you need them, you call that destiny”. The way these two look at each other is perfect, I feel the chemistry, the sadness and intrigue in their eyes.

I don’t know about you guys, but I am kind of in love with her character, she comes off at first as someone evil, mean, rude, and scary. Even her book at first, sounds like a book that isn’t meant for children since its so dark in nature, but by the time you reach the ending of the book, you come to realize, she’s not a bad person, children love her books because she encourages them, to face their fears, and grow from their trauma and past.

A scene I found interesting, was when the Nurse Nam Joo Ri shows up at her hotel asking for a signature to allow Moon Young’s father to receive a surgery he needs in order to live. The two seem to know each other from childhood, but seemed surprised to see each other (I wonder if Moon Young went by a different name before…) they talk about how they hadn’t seen each other in 20 years since she transferred schools. Moon Young says her father is dead, and then Nam Joo Ri begins to say “But your mother is alive…” and Moon Young interjects saying she registered her death a long time ago and claims to be an orphan. This leaves me wondering about what exactly happened to her family. Is her mother alive, or is she really dead? Did she have a bad relationship with both her parents? In the second episode, we find out that her mother was a writer herself, and is in fact dead and died suddenly…but then why did Joo Ri say she was alive? We also find out her father was a successful architect who went crazy. They keep blaming all the bad things that happened in her life on her.

These phrases about Moon Young were also mentioned throughout the first and second episode: “She was just born like that” and “That’s just how she was born”. I don’t think that’s the case though, if her father tried to murder her as a child, and if her mother died suddenly, and she had no friends growing up, I can understand why she is the way she is. People have shoved in her head that she isn’t worthy of good things in her life and happiness, that bad news follows her and they should stay away unless they want bad things to happen to them too. Makes me feel really sad for Moon Young, her children’s books help us understand that there is much more to her personality than just a mean, anti social, egotistic person. I cannot wait to see her transformation. It seems that Kang Tae really is someone good for her, I think they both can help each other heal from their past wounds.

One last thing to note from these two episodes: Butterflies (나비)

I still don’t know what that’s about, but if you guys have any theories, I am happy to hear them! All we know is that she used to rip the wings off of the butterflies, Kang Tae was horrified to see her do this when they were children, and Sang Tae has bad dreams about them because he claims a mysterious butterfly killed Sang Tae and Kang Tae’s mother. This honestly made me very sad since I love butterflies and we have been seeing a lot of monarch’s around SoCal this past month. I had a classmate who used to rip their wings too, back in the 1st grade. So this honestly brought back to mind some childhood trauma. I wonder what more significance these butterflies will have in the plot. I cannot wait for the next episodes, I really hope they are as detailed and wonderfully edited as these first two were. What are your thoughts? Did you enjoy the first two episodes as much as I did, or did you find the drama to be slow? Let me know, I would love to hear what you guys thought about the premiere of: It’s Okay to Not Be Okay!

Where To Watch: Netflix

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!