September 26, 2018
What it’s about: There are identical twins named Han Soo Ho and Han Kang Ho. Although they are both smart, good-looking, and share the same gene, they live completely different lives. Han Soo Ho has never missed the first place. He knew that there is the power that people only in the first place can gain. Moreover, his brother, who was athletic and eloquent, grabbed people’s attention which decreased Han Soo Ho’s presence. However, there was one thing he could win over his brother. It was studying. As Han Soo Ho became smarter, the gap between his brother grew bigger. Han Soo Ho passed the bar exam as the youngest person and became the judge. He was well known to judge according to the assessment of a case. Meanwhile, Han Kang Ho has five criminal records. One day, Han Kang Ho finished serving his sentence. When he came out, he realized that Han Soo Ho had suddenly disappeared and decided to take over his brother’s place as a judge. The criminal, who used to live behind bars, becomes to be judge people by the law. The criminal, who was once treated as a trash, becomes the honorable judge who everyone respects. Han Kang Ho, the judge with five criminal records. What will happen to his life? This story is about the process of people, who once desired other’s life, finding their own life.
Okay, let’s start off by listing the key points of this review.
1. Yoon Si Yoon
2. Yoon Si Yoon
3. Yoon Si Yoon
If you haven’t already figured it out, this guy is literally one of my main loves in the Korean drama community. He’s my ultimate bias. This explains why I immediately gravitated to this drama when it aired. Yoon Si Yoon may have been the reason why I decided to check this 2018 drama out, but ultimately it was the storyline, the cast, and the overall feel of the show that kept me watching. Here’s why:
1. Yoon Si Yoon nailed playing brothers. Kang Joon did the same thing playing two roles in ‘Are You Human, Too’. Both actors did such an amazing job that you never once question which character you were watching. If you haven’t seen ‘Are You Human, Too’, I highly recommend it.
2. It deals with real issues, delving into a man’s ability to find himself and turn his life around despite the fact that he is pretending to be a judge in place of his missing brother.
3. The love is real, the characters are real, and the stories make an impact.
4. I loved how the imperfections weaved into each character shaped them into the person that they ultimately become. The enemies are easy to hate and the rest are easy to love. Each story/case is told in a way that grabs your attention.
5. Our system is flawed. No matter what country you live in. There are corrupt people in the world. In this case, money buys innocence and not guilty verdicts. But here you see karma bite them in the ass.
And finally, it has Yoon Si Yoon. I highly recommend this awesome political K-drama filled with empowering stories along with the love stories surrounding them.
September 23, 2018
THE LEGEND OF THE BLUE SEA
What it’s about: Shim Cheong is a mermaid who follows her one true love, a nobleman’s son named Dam Ryung from the Joseon Dynasty, to modern-day Seoul. Ryung’s modern doppelganger is Heo Joon Jae, a highly skilled scam artist.
It’s a love strong enough to survive more than one lifetime. In that aspect, Legend of the Blue Sea reminds me a little of Goblin, another must see kdrama. Telling the story of a mermaid that falls in love with a human man in one century and then falls in love with him again in another is a hard task to undertake. The viewer needs to believe these characters have an enduring, powerful love that is unbreakable. In a world where love is often fleeting, accomplishing this is a hard feat.
In all honesty, I was a little worried. Although Lee Min Ho is my first kdrama bias and will always hold a special place in my heart because of this, I have seen him struggle a few times in previous roles with maintaining the chemistry between himself and his costar. Boy, was I surprised to see how much he’s grown! The chemistry in Legend of the Blue Sea is legit real, y’all. 🔥 Whoever decided to throw Lee Min Ho and Jun Ji Hyun together in this drama is a genius. Seriously. The fact that the lead actress is married in real life and a mom doesn’t affect the chemistry at all. It’s full on fire. Jun Ji Hyun epitomizes the beautiful mermaid that falls in love with a human man. Their love hit me right in the feels. The stares, the way they fell in love, and the many, many kiss scenes in this drama never disappointed. Ever.
Every cast member in this show is important. Every single one of them played a vital role in both the past and present lives. I loved the fact that I wasn’t always aware of who the past life characters became in the present. It was that added element of mystery that kept me focused on every single detail of the story.
The bromance: Lee Min Ho (Joon Jae/Dam Ryung), Lee Hee-Joon (Jo Nam Doo), and Shin Won-Ho (Tae-O). These guys made all of my bromance fantasies come true. Their scenes stood out as much as the main romance. I fell in love with these men, especially when together. They work so beautifully as a unit, like a well-oiled machine. It’s magic.
However, the sisterhood, as I like to call them, stole the show: Yoo-Na (played by child actor Shin Rin-Ah), the beggar (played by Hong Jin-Kyung), and Shim Cheong (played by Jun Ji Hyun), formed a stunning friendship in this series. The little girl, the beggar, and the mermaid friendship just worked! I see beautiful and great things in little Sin Rin-Ah’s future.
In conclusion: I’m not sure why I waited so long to watch this drama when I’ve seen everything that Lee Min Ho has starred in. I love him on so many levels as an actor, but I admit that this is one of my all time Lee Min Ho favorites. It’s a must see love story that will not disappoint.
September 19, 2018
THIRTY BUT SEVENTEEN/STILL SEVENTEEN
What it’s about: Two seventeen-year-old’s lives are forever changed by a traumatic accident. Now, at thirty, they look to each other to move forward
Regina’s review: **Spoilers**
“Don’t think, feel.”
Thirty but Seventeen is a drama with a message to share, and it more than gets its point across. This show is poetry. It’s like a warm cup of coffee cradled in my hands, the sweet aroma tickling the nose and easing away any troubles. That’s how much I loved the show. Seriously, if you only knew how much I love coffee.
From the very first episode, I knew this drama would be special. The moment the female lead character steps onto the screen for the first time, she becomes a single thread that ties all of the other characters together, turning Thirty but Seventeen into a vivid tapestry of human feelings.
This complex swirl of emotions just did it for me.
Usually, when watching a drama, I know exactly who my favorite characters are and which ones I’m going to focus on. But with Thirty but Seventeen, there isn’t a single character I wasn’t invested in. I was enthralled by every person who entered the screen, every individual who played a role in Seo Ri and Woo Jin’s lives. Every story touched me.
The journey began with a love story and a tragic accident.
When this drama opens, Seo Ri and Woo Jin are seventeen-year-old teenagers from different schools who have an immense crush on each other. Seo-Ri is an absent-minded violin prodigy while Woo Jin is a caring artist who dotes on his nephew. The two teens watch each other from afar, their silent, nameless love affair full of missed opportunities.
Until, one day, they end up on the same bus.
In a fateful meeting, Woo Jin asks Seo Ri to remain on a bus destined for tragedy, effectively keeping her from getting off because he wants to confess his feelings for her using a portrait he painted. However, Woo Jin chickens out when Seo Ri’s best friend, Soo Mi, enters the picture, her appearance causing the panicked Woo Jin to exit.
The moment that changed everything.
The bus is hit by a drunk driver, injuring and killing passengers while Woo Jin witnesses the horror from the street. A case of mistaken identity—Woo Jin is certain Seo Ri’s name is Soo Mi—leads Woo Jin to believe the girl he’s fallen in love with is among the dead, and that Seo Ri’s fate was his fault. In reality, a seriously injured Seo Ri has fallen into a coma that will last thirteen years.
Fast forward to the present.
Viewers are drawn into the lives of two people frozen thirteen years in the past, scarred and damaged by a tragedy that changed them forever.
I spent half an hour after watching the final episode of Thirty but Seventeen trying to gather my emotions enough to write this review. I’m still a mess, suffering from a kdrama hangover that isn’t going to go away any time soon.
Thirty but Seventeen brings together a cast of colorful characters all touched by the bus tragedy—Seo Ri, Woo Jin, Yoo Chan (Woo Jin’s nephew), and Jennifer (a housekeeper who lost her husband in the accident)—and throws them into the same house. There, they start a healing journey that not only changes the characters, but the viewers, too.
Peppered with wise quotes by an even-toned Jennifer, and full of fun anecdotes with surprisingly mature behavior from nephew Yoo Chan and his two quirky best friends, Woo Jin and Seo Ri are drawn together by a strange twist of fate that leaves them falling in love all over again.
Thirty but Seventeen avoids the typical pit falls often seen in a kdrama. There are no tiring love triangles or hateful antagonists. It’s a revitalizing breath of fresh air, and I spent sixteen glorious episodes learning that sometimes life robs us of the dreams we thought we had and replaces them with simple, beautiful aspirations that give us a reason to move forward.
Love can move mountains and overcome anything.
Woo Jin and Seo Ri are now one of my favorite kdrama couples of all time. And after the finale, Thirty but Seventeen also safely snatches my number one favorite spot on my 2018 top ten list.
You will not regret watching this drama. Go, turn on the television, and let yourself fall into a romance that will redefine who you are.
I want someone to look at me the same way Woo Jin looks at Seo Ri.
In conclusion: Every character is likable. Every story line is relevant. Every emotion is just THERE. My heart, y’all. Ahhhh, my heart!
The chemistry on this show is fire. 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 And I don’t just mean kiss scenes. Somehow every touch, every stare feels absolutely poetic. Human emotion is portrayed in a colorful, beautiful way. Like poetry. It really is poetry.
But don’t take my word for it. Go for it. Watch this drama and let it change your life. Fighting, my friends. Fighting! 😍💕❤️
“If you gather the courage to walk toward that door, you might be able to find happiness that you never knew existed.” ~ Woo Jin (Thirty but Seventeen)
This quote occurred at the very end of the series, and it stuck with me. Let’s face it … how many of us have gone through stages of our lives where we wished time would disappear? How many of us have wanted to erase parts of our childhood and rush into maturity? We’re an impatient society.
BUT what if that choice was taken away from us in the blink of an eye? What if we shut our eyes and woke up with thirteen years missing? What would it be like to look in the mirror only to find a stranger staring back at you?
What if, by some circumstance, you unknowingly caused harm to a person that means something to you? What if their deaths changed the course of your own life?
This show tackles these questions. When Seo Ri wakes up from a thirteen year coma, she discovers she is no longer a seventeen-year-old girl but a thirty-year-old woman with thirty-year-old challenges. The years society often mistakes as unimportant now seems more important than ever to Seo Ri. She skips all of the important milestones of life–graduation and female development–and has been unable to acclimate to modern society. Woo Jin, on the other hand, has lived with the guilt of witnessing his crush die—unbeknownst to him, she’s still alive—in an accident.
The writers of this drama did an amazing job of portraying the mental issues involved in both witnessing such an accident (Woo Jin) and in dealing with coming to terms with a thirty-year-old body while having a seventeen-year-old brain (Seo Ri). The drama also excels at bringing in a supporting cast of characters all tied together by the same tragedy. In my opinion, this is where the writers’ genius shines because viewers are thrown into an intense story that still manages to make you laugh out loud while, at other times, tackling tough issues that often makes the viewer reach for a tissue.
And what about that love story?
Seriously, it was one of the best love stories I have ever witnessed. The chemistry was sixteen episodes of roaring flames. Hot, hot, hot. Their love wasn’t the ‘let’s jump between the sheets’ kind of love. It grew like the first flower that blooms in early spring. I felt every touch, every moment, in such a realistic way that it gave me butterflies in my stomach. If Yang Se Jong (Gong Woo Jin) and Shin Hye Sun (Woo Seo Ri) are ever cast together in another series, I’m sure it will be an instant hit. These two were on fire from the first episode to the last. I want my own Mr. Gong. Seriously, can I marry him?
And, oh my God, we can’t forget Ahn Hyo Seop (Yoo Chan). So much hotness for a young actor. Big, future roles await him. He has definite star potential. This story would not have been the same without him and his two best friends. Their roles in this took the drama to a whole new level.
And let’s also not forget Ye Ji Won (Jennifer). She was the star! It was her character that tied the entire storyline into the amazing series that it is. Without Jennifer, I would not have rated this drama as high. That’s how important her role is to the story as a whole.
In conclusion, you should—no, you NEED—to binge-watch this series. It is literally one of my top favorites of 2018. Get those jammies on and settle in for sixteen hours of pure bliss. Enjoy! Don’t think. Feel!
Sabrina would definitely binge-watch versus Regina would totally binge-watch more than once.
September 16, 2018
ID GANGNAM BEAUTY
What it’s about: A university student bullied for her looks gets plastic surgery. But when the bullying doesn’t stop, she meets someone who shows her the true meaning of beauty.
Beware of spoilers beyond this point. 💕
The conclusion of ID Gangnam Beauty left me mostly satisfied with the series as a whole.
With a few exceptions.
It was, overall, a good watch. Due to intense bullying in school, Mi Rae undergoes plastic surgery to fix what she believes is wrong with her features. This proves to be a success. However, despite going under the knife with beautiful results, Mi Rae spends most of the drama struggling with her self-esteem and with her pre-conceived idea of what beauty is. I found this enlightening and relatable. Most women—if we’re being honest with ourselves—worry, at some point, about where they rank on an ideal beaut list. I like that this show tackles this, and I’m impressed that it gives viewers both sides of the story. For even beautiful women struggle with being happy.
This show was a roller coaster ride down a path of acceptance that became tedious at times, but managed to just stay away from being unlikable. It isn’t until the final few episodes that Mi Rae finally comes into her own, but we see steady growth in her throughout the series.
All in all, with the finale, ID Gangnam Beauty possibly clinches a spot in my top 2018 list (it’s got some fierce competition this year). But it was fairly satisfying. I watched this show as it was currently airing on Dramafever. This drama does not rank in my 2018 top 10 binge-worthy dramas.
The cons :
- I wanted to see a tighter ending for the supporting characters, especially for Woo-Young and Hyun-Jung who I fell in love with. I adored them and felt like they didn’t get enough screen time or closure in the final episode. This actually goes for most of the supporting characters. I felt like none of the side stories were tied up as neatly as the main story. Some of them were left hanging completely.
- While I loved the main character’s growth, and her insecurities were definitely realistic, I feel like I didn’t always empathize with her as much as I should. As someone who struggled with an eating disorder and social anxiety due to bullying during my high school years, I felt like I should have empathized with her more. I think a lot of this was because the supporting characters—with the exception of Soo-Ah—could have been utilized a bit more to flesh out this drama.
- Soo-Ah was utilized a little too much. At times, it even felt like the Soo-Ah show. However, the actress who portrayed Soo-Ah really did an amazing job playing an antagonist. I couldn’t stand her—which was the point—and her struggle with bulimia felt raw. I’m seriously interested in seeing her as a heroine/lead in a drama. I feel like she has the acting chops to pull it off.
- I wanted to see more of a conclusion with both Mi Rae’s family and Kyung Seok’s family. Everything happening inside Kyung Seok’s family just felt incomplete. And I feel like both of Mi Rae’s parents were having an identity crisis over Mi Rae’s new appearance that never got fully resolved.
- The chemistry was good. I feel like Cha Eun Woo excelled at this much more than his female lead, and I want to see him lead more dramas. His character stole the show every episode. He truly portrayed Kyung Seok well, and that says a lot. Especially considering the added criticism that usually comes from casting a k-pop idol as a lead. This drama is well worth the watch simply because of the way he portrayed Kyung Seok’s blunt honesty and family conflicts/dynamics.
- The bromance between Woo-Young and Kyung Seok. I heart them so much. I actually think this drama would have benefitted from more scenes with them.
- Can I just have Mi Rae’s best friend? Seriously, I need to see Min Do-Hee in more dramas. She has a way of stealing a scene even when she was nothing except a background character at times.
- I like the way the antagonist’s storyline came together in the end. They didn’t turn her into a completely righteous, empathetic character. And considering how hard it was to like her to begin with, there’s no way she could be fully redeemed by the final episode. Or at least realistically. You do, however, finally sympathize with where she is at this point in the drama. The story left us with the sense that change will take place. Over time. And that felt right.
- That end scene between Mi Rae and Kyung Seok … sigh. 😍 Y’all! Give me an overlook, a Eun Woo embrace, and I’m a happy girl, m’kay.
This drama was a fun, sometimes stressful (haha), escape. Definitely something you want to check out between dramas when there’s time. Will it remain in my top ten? Probably not. But I don’t hate that I watched it.
Sabrina’s review :
Would this particular drama make it on my top 10 of 2018 dramas? In short, yes.
Here are my thoughts.
When it comes to character development, I think for the amount of episodes available the writer/writers did a great job on developing the characters they had in a relatively short story span. Because let’s get real, this drama had a lot of characters and side stories that tie into what a realistic view of the battle between what’s deemed beautiful is all about.
The story centers around Soo-ah, the all natural beauty of the school, and Kang Mi Rae, the girl once thought of as ugly that undergoes plastic surgery in an effort to accept who she is. Mi Rae’s journey through her self-discovery plays out in all sixteen episodes. I feel like these two characters played the most significant roles in the entire series. Jo Woo-Ri plays the role of Soo-ah so realistically that I literally wanted to hit her with a frying pan (good southern pun here) at least once in every single episode. Even in the end when I started to warm up to the realization of why she is the way she is, I still secretly wanted to take one good whack at her head. That goes to show you that I’d love to see Jo Woo-Ri tackle a lead role. She did a great job portraying her character.
The same goes for Lim Soo-Hyang and her portrayal of Mi Rae. I loved Mi Rae immediately. I think that’s because her character is so easy to identify with. She is an endearing person with a shy personality who catches the eye of Do Kyun-Seok (Cha Eun-Woo). I’d like to say that I loved her character all the way through the entire series. Don’t get me wrong, I did because I’m a huge romantic and who wouldn’t want to date Do Kyun-Seok. That’s a no brainer, but I found myself getting frustrated with her from time to time due to her slow progression into her skin and her ability to love herself. There was times where I wanted to shove her forward a few steps in order to help her gain her bravado. Thankfully, Do Kyun – Seok does that for me.
Sigh….Do Kyung-Seok…..played by Cha Eun-Woo….let’s just let that absorb for a minute. What’s not to love, right? The Astro member charmed his way into my heart.
I get tickled when I think back to the variety show Men on a Mission that he went on with his cast mate that played Mi Rae and he jokingly talked about how his rear end once saved him from being pierced by a nail. I see his character exactly the same way I saw him in real life on that show. Although Kyung-Seok comes off as emotionless and unfeeling, he’s actually the complete opposite. He reminds me more of that fun-loving guy in the classroom on Men on a Mission. To me, it’s his character in the show that experiences the most growth. The love story between both him and Mi Rae is both sweet and enlightening. The ending left me well pleased when it comes to these two characters.
Let’s not forget to give a huge shout out to all the secondary characters and there are a lot. Honestly too many to list in this review.
My biggest disappointment is the story line surrounding Woo-Young and Min Do-Hee. I really really wanted to see more of what was going to happen to these characters in the future. It left me feeling like I’d just finished an appetizer and decided to skip the main course even though I was still hungry. I would have loved it if they had tied up those loose ends a little more tightly.
The bromances between Woo-Young and Kyung-Seok, and between Kyung-Seok and Woo-Jin left me completely happy, like basking under a nice afternoon sun. There is so much hotness in those three men that I sincerely hope that both Kwak Dong-Yeon (Woo-Young) and Lee Tae-Sun (Woo-Jin) get their own leading role sometime soon. That would make my heart very happy.
Overall, I’d give this drama a huge high five and a big recommendation. You won’t regret binge watching every single episode in one sitting. You might as well stock up on the junk food now.
Sabrina would binge-watch versus Regina probably wouldn’t.