Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Not-so-short List of Short Kdrama Lists

Three ways Korea is like Vermont, my home state:
  1. Our cars have green license plates.
  2. Both are full of hills and mountains, most of them likewise green.
  3. Although some areas are heavily populated and cosmopolitan, as soon as you pass their boundaries you’re surrounded by farmland (and poverty of varying degrees of abjectness). 

Three ways Korea is unlike Vermont, my home state:
  1. In the US, state funding for television is practically non-existent. In Korea, the government owns entire TV stations. (As is so often the case, both extremes seem to suck.)
  2. Although it snows here just like it does in Kdramas, nobody ever thinks to use an umbrella during a snowstorm. We’re kind of stupid, it seems.
  3. To the best of my knowledge, no adult Vermonter has ever received a piggyback ride in the history of the world.

Three things I’d like to see in more Kdramas:
  1. Smart girls, who read books and make witty comments. See, for example, Rory Gilmore. (Or her friend Lane—who’s Korean, after all.)
  2. More girl-centered sageuks, fusion or not. Clearly Joseon women didn’t get a lot of excitement (Painter of the Wind implied they were only allowed out of their homes once a year), but Kdrama is no place for slavish devotion to historical accuracy, now is it? 
  3. A continuation of the trend toward men in shower and/or bath scenes. Not the most noble of desires, certainly, but hard to resist.

Three things I never want to see in another Kdrama:
  1. Blank-eyed caricatures of stupid girls, ala the dread Bong Uri of Can You Hear My Heart?
  2. Last-minute diagnoses of and/or deaths from cancer.
  3. Sports-themed plots. (Birdie Buddy? What’s next? Curling CutieDiving Darling?  Let’s just hope they stop before getting to the almost inevitable Snake-charming Slut.)

Three Korean actors I’d like to see more of:


    1. Im Ju Hwan from What’s Up. Tends to be slightly wise-ass, slightly puppyish, and totally handsome. (Currently doing his mandatory military service. Couldn’t he serve his country by acting in another sageuk, instead?)
    2. Bae Soo Bin from Shining Inheritance. Dreamy and sad-eyed; apparently massively prolific, but I’ve only seen him in a few shows to date.
    3. Hero Jaejoong from Protect the Boss. Brings the funny, brings the cute, brings me to whatever he’s in. Also, sings.

    Three great moments in every Kdrama relationship:

    1. The first longing glance.
    2. When he asks her never to smile/cry/laugh in front of another man, feminist principles be damned.
    3. The ritual eyelash touch.

    Three randomly sexual moments in Kdrama:

    1. Every time the female lead got on a horse in The Princess’s Man.
    2. Flower Boy Ramen Shop’s panting, sweaty volleyball daydreams.
    3. Jan-di’s “fireman” in Boys over Flowers. Those Koreans sure are an innocent lot if their minds don’t go immediately to the gutter at the thought of all the hoses involved in said profession.

    Three Kdrama jobs I want:
    1. Writer at a smutty men’s magazine (What’s Up, Fox?).
    2. Scuba-diving aquarium cleaner (One Fine Day).
    3. Manga author (Someday).

    Three Kdrama jobs I’d rather not have:
    1. Convenience store clerk (Who Are You?).
    2. Milk deliverer (Coffee Prince, Shining Inheritance, and all other Kdramas starring a plucky girl).
    3. Government party planner (Lie to Me).

    Three Kdramas I’ve loved enough to watch more than once:
    1. Coffee Prince (3 times). My obsession with this drama knows no bounds—as I’m sure you've noticed if you’ve spent more than 2 seconds on this blog.
    2. Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2 times). Smart, sassy, and incredibly fun, this show has a heart of gold.
    3. Boys before Flowers (1.5 times). The television equivalent of tuna-noodle casserole. Homey, totally undemanding, and embarrassingly tasty.

    Three Kdramas I’ve hated enough to stop watching:
    1. Triple (episode 1). A grating female lead, Korean-style fat jokes, and a male lead who’s about 20 years too old? No thanks.
    2. Miss Ripley (episode 3)The idea of a hard-working Kdrama girl gone wrong is fun, but not my cup of tea.
    3. Queen Seon Duk (episode 1). This show might be awesome, but its 62-episode run is too daunting for me to even think about. 

    Three heart-wrenchingly wonderful Kdrama kisses:
    1. Sungkyunkwan Scandal, episode 17
    This slow, tender kiss goes all the way past sweet to reverent, but it’s the shot of their clasped hands at the end that puts it completely over the top. Sigh.


    2. Coffee Prince, episode 10

    The embodiment of love and trust. I don’t even need the subtitles for this scene—the dialogue, sadly enough, is etched on my heart, just like the rest of Coffee Prince’s script. 

    Watch Kiss - Coffee Prince in Music  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

    3. Padam Padam, episode 8 (skip to 6:30)
    Slow and sweet, just like the best kisses always are. Also a beautifully handled example of a standard Kdrama convention: a kiss isn’t a kiss until someone’s eyes are shown sliding slowly shut.

    Three frustratingly awful Kdrama kisses:
    1. Autumn in My Heart (skip to 3:05)
    Their families are against them, their friends are against them, fate is against them. Must her jacket’s collar also be against them? The only real kiss in this entire drama, and it’s very nearly foiled by outerwear.

    2. My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, episode 12
    Bloodless, bland, and boring, just like all Lee Seung Gi’s on-screen kisses.

    3. Personal Taste, episode 10
    A slobbery cross between CPR and Return of the Living Dead. A kiss from Lee Min Ho seems like a hard thing to mess up, but his dramas always seem to manage it. The infamous “game over” kiss is a total ambush, barely involving the female lead—he might as well be kissing a mannequin.


    1. Love the post! SKS just moved wayyy up the list of dramas to watch. I do disagree about the game over kiss, but I agree with you about her participation. His enthusiasm, however, was VERY enjoyable. Uru Seung Gi Puppy..that kiss was sweet. Loved the hand rubbing the wrist and I'm a big sucker for a nice manly hand cradling a tiny lady skull. Here's hoping he sizzles with Ha Ji Won, ne?

      1. You should drop everything and immediately watch SKS! It's second only to Coffee Prince on my list of favorite dramas.

        And yes, I agree that Lee Min Ho gets an A for effort in the Game Over kiss. (And, in fact, pretty much every on-screen kiss he's ever been involved with.) Maybe they told the female lead to act like a mannequin so we could all pretend we were her? ;)

        Lee Seung Gi is great at the sweet. But I want to see him do steamy =X

    2. The thing I don't want to see in another drama is the idiot who can't tell the other person the real reason they need to break up for whatever reason and decides the best thing to do is to try to completely crush the person they supposedly love. Apparently it is obvious to everyone in kdrama land that the best way to get your love to let you go and go live a happy life without you is to break up with that person in the meanest possible way. This really gets on my nerves.

      I don't understand the appeal of Im Ju Hwan myself. I don't care for him very much. I must be one of the only ones that didn't like What's Up. I couldn't even finish it. While the music was good, it was boring in every other respect. And the only character I liked was Doo Mi (I think that was her name).

      Yay to more shower scenes!!! That's the best idea I've heard.

      And I agree that Coffee Prince is the best!

      Oh, it seems very common in kdramas for the women to not really participate in kisses. It happens far too often. It really pulls me out of the moment. I had more passionate kisses by the age of 12.

      1. I share more passionate kisses with my cat than most of these Kdrama actors can manage. I wonder if that's the point, though—if the people who make the shows are worried anything too blood-boiling would be off-putting to their actual audience ;)

        And I can see how Im Ju Hwan is an acquired taste. I first saw him playing a conspicuously young doctor in The Snow Queen, and was extremely surprised to see him playing a conspicuously old college student three years later in What's Up. There's something a little Gregory Smith-ish about him, which leaves me utterly defenseless.

    3. Sports-themed dramas would be good if they were actually about the SPORT rather than some makjang family secret/forbidden love plot. Learn from Jdramas on this one, Kdrama writers. Also with your too-rare youth dramas. Please make them about actual youth problems rather than a mini-me version of a typical melodrama.
      Korea, I love your dramas, I really do. But on those two subjects, please look to others for inspiration. Cuz you're really not doing it right. :/ Jungle Fish 2 was a great start, tho. SUFBB, also.

    4. Ohhh I think that the kiss in personal taste was one of the best haha I really liked it!

    5. Ohh, no matter how much I love kdramas, most of the kissing scenes make me cringe. Not much payoff after suffering through actually falling in love. That said, I too like LMH kiss in personal taste. But in my top 5 has got to be Lie to Me!

    6. One of the most terrible kissing scenes I've seen was between the two leads in You're Beautiful.

      I remember, early in the show, Tae Kyung pretended to kiss He Yi, and revealed it was just a staged kiss, and they weren't actually kissing.

      Later in the series, in the first "real" kiss between Tae Kyung and Mi Nam, they used the same kind of kiss, but tried to pass it off as something actually happening! It was a little ridiculous and completely obvious, if you ask me.

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