Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Coming Soon: Late Summer 2012


In 10 Things I Hate About You, my favorite teen movie of all time, one character looks at another with a perplexed expression on her face and asks: “I know you can be overwhelmed and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever be just whelmed?”

After watching many of the 2012 Kdramas I was looking forward to, I can report that it is indeed possible to be whelmed. None of them have been nightmarishly bad, but they also haven’t been daydreamily good—mostly they’re just whelmingly meh. I’m hopeful that things will turn around as we gear up for the fall season, though, and am already looking forward to the new crop of shows due to start airing after the Olympics.

Without further ado, here are brief notes about four upcoming dramas that I’m eager to watch. (And mentions of two that I’m not really excited about, but may eventually get around to if the reports are good.)





Faith (24 episodes; begins airing 8/13). After reading Dramabeans’ deeply amusing recaps of this summer’s god-awful Timeslip Dr. Jin, I decided to scratch it off my list of things to watch altogether and instead pin my hopes on this similarly themed fusion sageuk starring the lovely Lee Min Ho. The recent rash of time-travel dramas have mostly focused on people moving forward in time from the Joseon era, but this one takes the opposite approach: a modern-day plastic surgeon is kidnapped by a warrior from the Goryeo Dynasty and brought back in time to save a injured princess. (Or so says DramaWiki).

This spring’s rom-com time-travel capers Rooftop Prince and Queen In-hyun’s Man were fun to watch, but I’m hoping that Faith’s take on the subject matter will be grittier and more concerned with the realities of adapting to life in the past. I want it to be from the Outlander school of warts-and-all, OMG-is-that-a-bedbug? time travel, not the we-wear-Nikes-in-the-Old-West of Back to the Future III. It’s probably too much to hope for social commentary—I imagine the full extent of the female lead’s adjustment to the past will be getting used to wearing flats—but inherent in the plot is the potential for fascinating discussion about how Korean society has changed in the modern world, especially because it’s an independent woman doing the time travel. Will she be expected to show deference to men in a way she wouldn’t today? Will her talents be ignored by everyone but her kidnapper, because she’s just a girl? Will she have to get used to being carried around in one of those claustrophobic little boxes sageuk women are always seen in?

I’ll also be interested to see what the script does with the dichotomy between its romantic leads—based on their early descriptions, he’s a laid-back warrior prone to taking naps while she’s a type-A overachiever who decided to specialize in plastic surgery after realizing the life-or-death stakes of being a doctor weren’t for her. (Where have I met that character before? Oh, right 2004’s dreadful Lovers.) It could be fun if the two just had contrasting outlooks on life, but I suspect that the show’s primary journey will be finding a way for them to live up to they potential they’ve been denying by overcoming their fears of failure.

For more, visit:

Watch it on:

Arang and the Magistrate (20 episodes, beings airing 8/15). Another fusion sageuk with supernatural elements, this drama tells the story of a ghost’s attempt to solve her own murder with the help of the handsome local magistrate. Naturally, forbidden love is the result (yay!), but depending on the show’s approach it’s hard to imagine a happy ending for a couple separated by death (boo!). The lead actors are about as charming as they come—Shin Min A from My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho and Time between Dog and Wolf’s Lee Joon Ki, fresh out of the army—and I look forward to seeing how Kdrama handles this ghostly plotline. In the West, ghosts are just as likely to be friendly as evil, but from what I’ve seen the Asian understanding of them leans more toward the terrifying. (Or maybe I’ve been watching too many Japanese horror movies?) I can’t imagine this show actually being scary, but the promotional materials do give it a Sixth Sense vibe, with the male lead having seen ghosts throughout his life. 

Judging by blogger buzz, Arang and the Magistrate is in a dead (ahem) heat with Faith for the title of drama of the season. As long as Dramafever cooperates, I’ve already decided to watch it as it airs, rather than waiting for the whole show to be subbed before starting it.

For more, visit:

Watch it on:

To the Beautiful You (16 episodes, beings airing 8/15). Based on the Japanese maga/drama Hana Kimi, this might just be the perfect show for me: A girl pretends to be a boy to attend her hero’s school, all in hopes of getting close to him. Unfortunately, though, the plot is rife with things that might make me loathe it: By all accounts, it’s more of a comedy than a drama, and I love angst more than yucks when it comes to Korean television. And then there’s the sports angle—the male lead is a track and field athlete who specializes in the high jump; the story apparently revolves around an injury that prevents him from participating. It should go without saying that I have yet to see a sports drama that didn’t make me want to scratch my own eyes out with a golf tee rather than watching past episode 2. Another red flag? The Wikipedia entry about Hana Kimi calls the female lead a “ditz.” This sounds like cross-dressing in the style of You’re Beautiful’s idiot Go Mi Nyeo, rather than the smart, capable girls in Coffee Prince and Sungkyunkwan Scandal. Why is it, then, that I can still barely wait to watch this show? Must be the cute dog that keeps popping up in early stills. (Right? Because it would be wrong of me to perv over boys who are half my age.)

For more, visit:

Watch it on:


Answer Me, 1997 (16 half-hour episodes, airing now). Although I was in college in 1997, I’m not entirely sure I could have found South Korea on a map. But even if the pop-culture nostalgia of this sitcom set in 1997 will be lost on me, coming-of-age school shows are pretty much my catnip. Tragically, I don’t know that anyone is subbing this in English, let alone posting it steaming, so it’s shaping up to be another Wife’s Credentials—a Kdrama Holy Grail universally acknowledged as good, but inaccessible to suckers like me who don’t speak Korean. Dramabeans is recapping, though, so here’s hoping that will inspire someone to translate it.


For more, visit:

Watch it on:
Nowhere. (Sigh.)

[Update: Answer Me, 1997 has been added to Dramafever's coming-soon list, which is about a mile long and full of awesomeness. Hooray!]



In spite of a name that sounds like a sexual position highlighted in last month’s Cosmo, Panda and the Hedgehog is a romantic comedy that seems to be a younger version of Pasta. Not a bad thing, but I’m not holding my breath. Begins airing August 18.

Haeundae Lovers deals with a prosecutor who loses his memory and ends up working with the gangsters he’s been trying to convict. Inevitably, he falls in love with the head gangster’s daughter. This plot was great—when it was used in 2007’s Time between Dog and Wolf. I guess this romance-centric version of the story might be interesting. Maybe? Begins airing August 13. (Side note: For an amusing take on the inevitability of some traditional plotlines, I highly recommend Mercedes Lackey’s Five Hundred Kingdoms books.)

18 comments:

  1. I am super excited about Arang and the Magistrate and will definitely also be wathcing it while it airs. I feel like this drama if done correctly is destined for greatness because it reminds me of my favorite book Peony in Love by Lisa See. If you like to read(which I'm assuming you do because you're a writer), you should definitely read it because it's right up your alley. It's a Chinese historical fiction drama about a young woman in old China who falls in love with a young man after meeting him one night, but is already arranged to marry someone so she pines herself literally to death, only to find out after she dies that she was actually arranged to marry the man she had fallen in love with but didn't know it(If I remember correctly I don't think she ever knew his name). Sucks for her right lol? But that all happens in the beginning and then for the majority of the book she is a "hungry ghost" wandering and trying to make peace with her life. She eventually gets involved in her lover's life, trying to help his wife (that he ended up marrying instead of her because she's dead) become someone he can love so he can be happy. It is like horribly sad, but so amazingly good and so beautifully written. I LOVE Lisa See for this reason, she really knows how to write a tear jerker. If they turned this book into a kdrama I would be like the happiest woman on the planet(while bawling my eyes out as I'm watching it lol).

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    1. Oh and a random aside (as you know I must always do ha ha), as much as Big sucked, I just listened to a couple songs from the OST and they were really good!! Especially Gong Yoo singing Because It's You, God I thought I was going to die listening to that. Damnit is there anything he can't do? He just keeps making other men look less and less attractive lol.

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    2. I just ordered Peony in Love—thanks for the rec! I'm about as obsessed with books as I am with Korean drama, although my TV watching has cut down on my reading lately ;) For some reason I mostly go for books set in America, so this will be a welcome change. And who can go wrong with a plot that sounds that Kdrama-y?

      I don't think I can handle any more Gong Yoo lust, so I should probably stay away from the soundtrack. Interesting that entertainers in Korea are expected to be so well rounded, while in America we only allow them to be one thing at a time—singer or actor, dancer or musician.

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  2. Let me know what you think!!! I am in love with it.

    I know right, I shouldn't have listened to it either, my poor husband is so sick of my Gong Yoo obsession lol. We used to require our stars to be like that in the 40s, 50s, and 60s but that kind of died out save the singing and dancing Disney channel clones.

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    1. So I totally broke down and listened. It's surprisingly lovely, and downright endearing when he can't quite hit the high notes.

      Also, it gave rise to Gong Yoo fantasy #472: being sung to sleep by him =X

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  3. I know it sounds really genuine and heartfelt and not overly practiced and studio edited. I read that he recorded it the same day they asked him to sing it in the first place and it was after hours and hours of filming.

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  4. Where did you watch Time Between Dog and Wolf? The only place I have found it is on dramacrazy.net and I am watching it there but it's super annoying because each episode is broken down into 5 parts.

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    1. Because Time between Dog and Wolf is an older show not favored by the drama overlords, it's actually really hard to find streaming. I watched it on Dramacrazy, too, because no legit sites carry it :b. Even Mysoju doesn't have it (their setup for watching multi-file episodes tends to be better than DC's). It looks as if Netflix actually has TbDW on DVD, if you subscribe...

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    2. I literally fought with dramacrazy for like an hour yesterday trying to finish watching the second episode and finally gave up. It was lagging horribly. Going to try again in a little bit (I have to catch up on Secret Life of the American Teenager first, don't judge me, I know it's an awful show but I got hooked on it a long time ago and now I have to keep watching it). But seriously if I keep having to fight with dramacrazy I don't know if I'll have the patience to finish watching it.

      BTW, guess what I'm listening to.... Sad Thing from the Coffee Prince OST lol. I just went on a short rant on my blog about how I wish more kdramas would get out of the 90s power ballad rut, and it made me miss Coffee Prince again lol. I am like wishing for another epic romance like CP so bad it pains me right now for some reason. Que Sera, Sera was awesome but it was not very happy, bittersweet at best, and then I made the mistake of watching Remember Me with Robert Pattinson last night and it was horribly depressing. Quick recommend a good happy romantic kdrama so I can get some therapy and get out of this funk!!!

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    3. I actually hate watching shows on Dramacrazy—it's so unreliable. Sometimes there are even missing videos, so you'll get halfway through something and then episode 8.4 won't be available :b Time between Dog and Wolf worked out for me, but I've started a number of shows there only to give up.

      Good happy romantic kdrama? Have you seen Protect the Boss? I'm usually not a fan of straight-up romantic comedy without any melodrama, but I loved that show. It's funny and sweet and has a great cast of characters. (And Jaejong ::dreamy sigh::)

      I'm listening to the Spring Waltz theme song on repeat. Music doesn't get cheesier than that, but I can't for the life of me stop =X

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  5. I'm looking forward to Faith and Arang too! And I'm also trying to find places to watch Answer Me 1997, but no luck so far.

    RE: Faith - Faith is written by Song Ji Na, who also wrote What's Up, Story of a Man and Legend (among others), and they all had a nice variety of interesting female characters. Legend in particular which is also a fantasy fusion saeguk had some really strong female characters: a female blacksmith, ancient Korea's version of Lady MacBeth, a leader of her tribe who went back into battle immediately after giving birth, an alcoholic, gambling street rat archer and a priestess who could set people on fire. I'm pretty sure it's anachronistic, but the women were so awesome I didn't care. Actually, Faith kinda feels alot like Legend 2.0 + time travelling doctor to me. There is magic, in any case, so I'm not expecting complete historical accuracy anyways.

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    1. I'm actually surprised how fantasy-ish both these shows look. Even most of the fusion sageuks I've seen have only had one or two fantastical elements in them, but never things like the gods Arang seems to include or the magicky white-haired duo from Faith. I'm super excited for both of them, historical accuracy be damned. (And who am I kidding? It's not like I can tell the difference between things that are factual and total fabrications.)

      I didn't realize that Faith had such a good pedigree, but I was shocked to see that DramaTic had some good things to say about it in his preview. Usually he has nothing good to say about *anything.* I guess I need to put that Legend on my watch list--I wouldn't want to miss a Kdrama featuring girls with brains, now would I?

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    2. I think Dramafever just added Answer Me 1997 to their coming soon list.

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    3. They totally did. I'm such a loser I check the coming-soon list every night before bed, and it was just added. Thanks for the tip--post updated accordingly.

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  6. All this talk about Faith actually makes me way more interested in it.. the only thing I've been going on is that fact that Lee Min Ho is supposed to be a Goryeo warrior with a wavy, emo haircut/ponytail. I'm sure that's completely factual too.

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    1. I will probably watch it just because of Lee Min Ho, though I am a little time traveled out right now.

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