Kdrama (and other Asian Drama) fans in the Philippines were recently shook when a prominent TV/Movie director in our country lashed out on Twitter about the demise of Philippine movies and TV shows in the future because of these dramas that are watched by millions of Filipinos, your’s truly included.
A lot of people have already reacted and defended the Kdrama addiction we Filipinos have including blog posts from another well known TV/Movie Director who wrote a couple of well thought out posts in his own blog about his thoughts on the Asian Drama phenomenon. You may check out Director Joey Reyes blog posts in his blog Choking On My Adobo.
Here are my two (or three) cents about Asian Dramas and why we love them.
- The story line/plot, writing and cinematography are well thought of. I’m sad to say that the TV and movie industry in my country is sorely lacking in these aspects although I’m not going to discount 1 or 2 gems that could be found, still how are other countries able to produce such works one after the other and we get the old sob story with the bad graphics. They are not always faux-Cinderella stories either. I have discovered great mystery dramas as well as those that tackle injustices and family. If you’ve been following this series of blog posts you’d know what those shows were.
- It’s easy to watch with only the standard of 16 episodes per drama or more if the story allows. These dramas are so diverse that we get the story as a package in a certain amount of episodes and the story is not extended on the basis of what the audience wants. If the story is done then it’s done. Move on to the next drama.
- The actors are not Belo-fied. They are already white to start with and so what if their management takes care of their skin? Isn’t that done by the actors in our country as well? I really don’t get the hate.
Maybe in this case, instead of criticizing Asian Dramas, the entertainment industry in the Philippines needs to step up their game and give us worthwhile TV shows and movies that satisfies not just the eyes but the heart and mind as well.
And now on to the last few series and movie I have binged on in the last 10 days. Faux-Cinderella story? Nah.
After watching Itaewon Class there was a buzz about the previous work of one of the actresses where we can see her be kinda like her character in Itaewon.
The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion (마녀)
Aired: June 27, 2018
Plot: 10 years ago, Ja-yoon escaped from a government facility in the midst of an inexplicable incident by herself and lost all her memory. An old couple takes her in even though she doesn’t know her name or age. She grows up to be a bright high school student and enters a nationally televised audition program to win the top prize and help her struggling family out. As soon as she appears on TV, strange people start appearing in her life. A man named ‘Nobleman’ constantly roams around her, in addition to ‘Dr. Baek’ and ‘Mr. Choi’ who have been searching for her since her disappearance. Ja-yoon’s life falls into turmoil as they turn her seemingly ordinary life upside down in a blink of an eye.
Thoughts: Before I saw this movie I was able to read a review that said this was like a combination of Lucy and John Wick. And after seeing it yes it does have the elements of those 2 movies with the sociopathic looks of actress Kim Da-Mi. I’m not sure if she’s already being stereotyped for these kinds of roles but
damn girl got it down. I wish there was more. I want to know what happens to Ja-yoon on her mission to take down the company that made her.
Tell Me What You Saw (본 대로 말하라)
Aired: Feb 1 – March 20, 2020
Plot: Oh Hyun-jae was a genius profiler who cracked many cold cases using his unsurpassed profiling skills. One day, his fiancée was killed in an explosion set by a serial killer and Hyun-jae lived in seclusion after that. Five years later, a new murder takes place using the same method as that serial killer. While investigating the case, team leader Hwang Ha-young (Jin Seo-yeon) meets a detective from the countryside, Cha Soo-young, who has a photographic memory. She introduced Soo-young to Hyun-jae and they work together to go after the serial killer.
Thoughts: When it comes to playing a tough-a$$ detective, Jang Hyuk has got the looks and the acting skills. He’s so different from when I first encountered him in Destined to Love You and I love him better for his detective roles. I’m now addicted to Korean Mystery dramas like these. It’s filled with action, crime solving, arcs for different characters, etc. I was on the edge of my seat watching this series, and heartbroken when they had to kill off one of the kind detectives.
Aired: Oct 14 – Dec 10, 2017
Plot: Black is the story of a grim reaper who is forced to track down his fugitive partner. In the process, he uncovers the truth about a series of cold case murders from 20 years ago. Investigating the murders complicates the reaper’s primary role of guiding the deceased to their respective afterlife, especially after he falls in love with a mortal woman – which leads him to break supernatural rules against involvement in human affairs.
Thoughts: I had high hopes for this drama but it fell flat. The grim reaper took on the name Black because he heard about the movie Meet Joe Black from his fellow grim reapers. He doesn’t have any memories from his past and believes he was born a grim reaper. So the reason why it fell flat was because of the plot holes and that ending. Each grim reaper was called by a number and one of the reapers figured out that their number was the date they died. Our main reapers number is 444 which doesn’t make sense because calendar dates only go up to 30 or 31 nor did the character die in April of 1944. Also, why the eff did they dress up some of the characters to look really old at the end when they could have just gotten actual older actors to play the main leads in their old age? I understand Kdramas don’t really always follow the Happy-Ever-After trope but couldn’t the reaper have gotten and experienced his love to the full at the end? Ugh.
I took a break from my mystery dramas to watch a few romances. 😁😁😁
The Bride of Habaek (하백의 신부)
Aired: July 3 – Aug 22, 2017
Plot: When the narcissistic water god Ha-baek (Nam Joo-hyuk) visits earth in order to find three stones powerful enough to help him claim his throne, he seeks out the help of his servant and destined bride, psychiatrist So-ah (Shin Se-kyung), whose family is fated to serve the water god for generations. The problem is that she has no belief in the gods and initially mistakes him for suffering from delusions. Things get even stranger when the wind god Bi-ryeom (Gong Myung), the water goddess Mu-ra (Krystal), and the semi-god Hu-ye (Lim Ju-hwan) show up to complicate things.
Thoughts: I honestly liked this series because it’s different than the usual fantasy dramas I’ve seen so far except, again, that ending. Habaek is immortal, couldn’t the female lead wish to be with her love forever? Couldn’t the gods have paid back the injustice that happened to her family which they were at fault at in the first place anyway and actually made her into a goddess instead? That would have been the cherry on top with this drama. 😦😦😦
My Secret Romance (애타는 로맨스)
Aired: April 17 – May 30, 2017
Plot: Cha Jin Wook (Sung Hoon) is the son and heir of a wealthy family. His family owns one of the largest companies in the country.
Lee Yoo Mi (Song Ji Eun) is a 25-year-old young single woman, with a cheering personality that doesn’t do much with her appearance, as she doesn’t wear makeup or even bother to dress up nicely, she is very informal and unconventional. Her mother was an erotic actress, and that changed her life from the moment she found out. Due to the bullying, she received at school, she began to dress conservatively, which is why she shows such a modest appearance. She had never had a date before, so she is surprised at herself when she meets Jin Wook and spends a single night with him after being delighted by his cunning and playful personality. After having a one-night stand, she disappears quickly in the morning, something that bothers him, as he knows absolutely nothing about her, not even her name. But as if it had been the work of a magical spell, he suddenly began to change, going from a cunning playboy to a workaholic businessman who does not enjoy the pleasures of life. Three years later, both are surprised when she introduces herself as the new nutritionist at a cafeteria inside his company. Although she pretends not to remember him, they can’t avoid the physical attraction, and memories of that night, both are beginning to wonder if that encounter that began as a nightstand could lead to a more meaningful relationship.
Thoughts: Lots of kissing. And I mean A LOT. 🤣🤣🤣 Kdramas are known to be a bit conservative when it comes to showing sex in their dramas and usually kissing scenes aren’t all that much either. But this drama seriously had like a lot of kissing almost every episode. It was good light drama to watch to take a break from the really emotional and mentally engaging ones.
This drama has been on my list in Netflix for a while before I watched it. It’s also kind of a light “school” mystery romance.
Moorim School: Saga of the Brave (무림학교)
Aired: Jan 11 – March 8, 2016
Plot: The story of the lives of a group of young students in their 20s at Moorim School, a place where they learn about honesty, faith, survival, hope, communication, interpersonal relationships, and other virtues needed to survive in society.
Thoughts: Under all the bad martial arts moves, this drama is all about the bonds of family and friendship and what you would do if you were given the chance to have power to change anything. The best parts for me was when the 2 male leads started to become friends and at the end when they were shown to still be the best of friends to each other.
This next one is a Cdrama and I watched it because Yang Yang was in it.
The Lost Tomb (盗墓笔记)
Aired: June 12. 2015
Plot: Wu Xie (Li Yifeng) is an antique shop owner who comes from a family of tomb raiders. As he continues the family trade with his team of tomb raiders, he finds lost treasures of the Warring States as well as the answers to the tragedies of his family’s past. With the help of his grandfather’s notes and his team – the quiet Zhang Qiling (Yang Yang), the resourceful Pang Zi (Liu Tianzuo), the experienced Wu Sanxing (Ken Chang), San Xing’s loyal helper Pan Zi (Wei Wei), and the skillful Ah Ning (Tiffany Tang) – Wu Xie sets out to find the lost treasures as well as the people responsible for the massacre of his family.
Thoughts: The story didn’t have coherency. It was like the story line was really jumbled and there were too many plot holes that remained unexplained. The next 2 movies no longer features the mysterious hang Qiling so viewers wouldn’t know who he actually is. The only upside was a half naked Yang Yang with a dragon tattoo on his body.
This last drama I stumbled upon while I was browsing through video clips in Facebook. Since I loved the original version I decided to give it a try.
Princess Hours Thailand (รักวุ่นๆ เจ้าหญิงจอมจุ้น)
Aired: April 25 – July 3, 2017
Plot: The plot takes place in Bhutin, a fictitious country. Crown Prince In and Kaning get married due to a promise between both of their families. Before getting married to Kaning, Prince In had a close friend who is close enough to be called his “girlfriend” named Minnie. He has asked Minnie for her hand in marriage, but Minnie rejected him. Minnie now regrets doing so, and want Prince In back. Also, theformer Crown princess also wants the throne back for her son, Prince In’s cousin. But as Prince In and Kaning spend time together every day they begin to understand each other more and develop feelings for each other. How will Prince In and Kaning’s love story unfold?
Thoughts: This was a cutesy version of the original Korean drama – it had a fictional Kingdom that revolved around flowers, hence the flower accessories everyone wore. Seriously, a flower instead of a tie? It also had a much spunkier female lead who actually saved the Prince a couple of times, in the beginning. I wish they just stuck with that until the end and not make her weak but since it’s part of the “drama” of the story they had to show the damsel in distress side of the princess. The feel of the drama was too westernized (clothing, location/setting) unlike the original Korean version that showed an alternate reality where Korea still has a monarchy. It would have been great to see Thai culture. They also did their own spin which was, I guess, a lot more appropriate for their own audience in their country.
I just found out there was an Indonesian version of Princess Hours so I might search and watch that too.
I’m still keeping tabs on Rugal and Memorist (my patience is running thin having to wait for new episodes every week ) and I plan to watch The King: Eternal Monarch when it completes.
We don’t know up to when this quarantine will be but I hope everyone is keeping safe indoors enjoying what we do and keeping ourselves sane during this pandemic.