Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Coming Soon: The 2012 Wish List

Like many fans of Korean television, I suffer from that most wonderful of first-world problems: Too many dramas, too little time. With the never-ending production schedule and decades worth of older shows waiting to be watched, there’s no way any latecomer could ever hope to catch up. 

And then there’s the issue of availability. With my drama-watching setup, streaming shows are the easiest to watch. And although a crack distribution network exists for international fans of Korean drama, some programs are still hard to come by: Nearly everything is available somewhere out there in the wilds of the Internet, but not always in a format I’d care to spend my time on. God bless services like My Soju and Drama Crazy, but it’s hard to watch their 15-minute chunks of blurry, low-res video when you’re used to high-quality streaming sources like Netflix, Viki, Crunchyroll, and Dramafever.

Last week I posted a list of new dramas I’m looking forward to watching. This week, we’ll explore the flip side: Old dramas that I want to watch, but haven’t been able to find high-quality streaming files for.


LOVE STORY IN HARVARD (2004; 16 episodes). 


Melodrama. Practically every Korean rom-com threatens to send at least one character to America to study. This show actually does it—its first half is set in Harvard, where the members of its love triangle are working toward graduation. While the plot predictably focuses on a hardworking poor girl and the two wealthy men who fight for her affections, online reviews note that Love Story in Harvard actually deals realistically with the difficulties of studying abroad and adjusting to life in a foreign country. In its decidedly less-than-beloved second half, the action returns to Korea, and by the end this drama lives up to its namesake. You guessed it…Erich Segal’s weepy 1970 novel Love Story. It’s always fun to see how Korean dramas portray America, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that Dramafever will pick this one up.



Watch them now:
—Kim Rae Won, as male lead Park Ji Hyung in A Thousand Day’s Promise
—Kim Tae Hee, as female lead Lee Soel in My Princess

Watch it now, if you dare: 
MySoju 
DramaCrazy
Good Drama
Drama Downloads




CAPITAL SCANDAL (2007; 16 episodes). 


Romantic comedy. Based on a book by the author of the original Coffee Prince novel, this sageuk is set during Japan’s occupation of Korea in the 1930s. Drama set-ups don’t get much better than this: Its heroine is a bookstore-owning freedom fighter who meets the male lead, a shallow playboy, when he bets his friends he can seduce her. Of course he eventually grows a soul and works for the cause of liberation, all while wearing an extensive wardrobe of jaunty fedoras. In spite of what seem to be campy production values and a cartoony vibe, this show’s reviewers report that it’s an unexpectedly serious exploration of Korea’s struggle for freedom.


Watch them now: 
—Kang Ji Hwan, male lead Hyun Ki Joon in Lie to Me
—Ha Ji Min, female lead Park Ha in Rooftop Prince

Watch it now, if you dare: 
My Soju
Drama Crazy
Good Drama
Drama Downloads



SEOUL’S SAD SONG/CONSPIRACY IN THE COURT (2007; 8 episodes).


Sageuk. A Joseon-era girl who’s trained as an assassin meets up with her first love and the two become entangled in a plot against the progressive-minded king, a man eager to improve the lives of his subjects in spite of protests from the nobility. By all reports beautifully written and shot, this drama seems like it has a social conscience—and a sad, sad ending, if the reviews are to be believed.



Watch them now: 
—Jin Yi Han, as supporting character Hong Young Hwi in Dr. Jinn
—Kim Ha Eun, as supporting character Yang Mi Ryun The Thornbirds

Watch it now, if you dare:
My Soju
Drama Crazy




DELIGHTFUL GIRL CHOON HYANG (2005; 17 episodes).


Romantic comedy. The first drama written by the Hong sisters (yes, the ones who gave us the deeply sub-par Big) is widely held to their best work to date. Based on a Korean folktale, it traces the tumultuous relationship of two high schoolers that are forced to marry after a rumor gets around that they spent the night together. Naturally, the male lead is rich and mean and the female lead is poor and hardworking, and they spend the next few years bickering and falling in love in spite of their differences. To the best of my knowledge, the owner of the website Dramabeans has never once said the words “Hong sisters” without reminiscing about how much she loved this show, which is enough recommendation or me.



Watch them now: 
—Han Chae Young, on MBC’s upcoming Strangers 6
—Jae Hee, on MBC’s upcoming May Queen

Availability: 
Mysoju 
Dramacrazy
Good Drama
Drama Downloads


A WIFE’S CREDENTIALS (2012; 16 episodes).



Melodrama. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that this drama starring grownups and intended for grownups has yet to be completely subbed in English, even though it finished airing months ago. An unhappily married woman is urged by her husband and his family to focus on her son’s education in hopes of getting him into an exclusive school. In the meanwhile, she develops feelings for their married neighbor. With the sensibility of an indie movie and a down-to-earth plot focusing on a nearly invisible segment of the Korean population—the middle-aged ajumma—this drama is so good it can make jaded blogger types squeal like little girls. 



Watch them now: 
—Jang Hyun Sung, as Kyung Joon’s uncle on Big (They can’t all be winners, can they?)
—Kim Hee Ae, as supporting character Yoon In Hye Midas
Watch it now, if you dare: 
As far as I know, no fan subs have made it beyond episode 6. Whether any official sources will carry this drama is up in the air—like this spring’s Queen Insoo and the currently airing I Live in Cheongdam Dong, Wife’s Credentials originally aired on jTBC, one of Korea’s new upstart cable channels.

25 comments:

  1. Nice list. Delightful Girl Choon Hyang was one of my earliest dramas, so it is a sentimental favorite of mine. Best to lower your expectations, especially if you have found the more recent Hong Sisters dramas very good.

    A Wife's Credentials. I started watching on wat purely on the recommendations of a lot of bloggers I follow, and because I wanted to see more of Lee Tae Ran (after I couldn't find subbed episodes of her drama Famous Princesses) and of Lee Sung Jae (I've had an ajussi crush on him. He's so fineeee).

    Viewers can watch him as the lead of the drama Lawyers of Korea on dramafever: http://www.dramafever.com/drama/62/1/Lawyers_of_Korea/. I actually watched every single episode of that (a rarity nowadays for me). Drama had so many familiar faces, except LSJ's, so I was hooked.

    ****SPOILERY!!! sort of ****
    The kiss at the final scene is actually my favorite Kdrama kiss. It violates The.Kiss.Law (http://kdramalaws.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/the-kiss-law/). Such a surprise in a drama that was pretty much law-abiding. kekekekeke

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    1. I think watching My Girl caused my expectations to be permanently lowered for all older Kdramas ;) Most people who saw it when it was new seem to have loved it, but watching it today was a letdown—through no fault of its own, it was just like every other drama made in the past six years.

      I think it's how a topic is handled that makes the difference, when it comes to watching something you find unpleasant. I've never seen a Kdrama that seriously deals with adultery—usually it's just thrown in as a comedic element, not a seriously considered event in someone's life. That's one of the reasons why Wife's Credentials seems so compelling: the characters must have more depth than the standard issue Kdrama hero/heroine, because you have to be interested in them in spite of the fact that they're involved in this horrible thing.

      I loved The.Kiss.Law, and was especially amused by the part about the unresponsive female only being required on the major networks. This couldn't be more true, as I Need Romance 2012 proves in every episode. (Thank heavens.)

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  2. I forgot to add that I started AWC against my will (keke) because I abhor adultery dramas. I'm not sure I can continue the drama even if it were all subbed, but I'd take recaps. :)

    Interestingly, it might be argued that Lawyers of Korea is also an adultery drama. It's been a while since I saw that drama, so I forgot the plot already. Hrm. Am I being contradictory here? I probably need to chew on that thought for a while.

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  3. This is why my 10 Year Plan involves learning Korean - so that I won't have to wait for subs. Maybe I should also stop reading DramaTic's blog. I get so depressed seeing him go on and on about all these dramas that I can't watch! Or.. nah, I like the suffering.

    Point of interest (for me at least): yesterday I started down the path of Japanese dramas. Possibly a combination of the recent bouts of Kdrama marathoning, and Koala's massive post about Jdramas, I just decided I was ready for something a little bit different. I kind of approached the post like they were all on sale at the grocery store: Hmm, which brand should I try? This one looks a little too intense. This seems like something I'd probably hate. I settled on Nobatu wo Produce, and promptly began watching it on DramaCrazy. 4 episodes in, and I'm in love. :))) Sooo bizarre hearing Japanes, and not being able to understand a single word.

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    1. I completely agree about DramaTic's blog. He makes these jTBC shows sound like the lone bastions of high-quality Kdrama in the modern world, but they're totally inaccessible to people who only speak English. Even if he's subbing some stuff for us sad, underprivileged Americans, I can't imagine any fan sub actually making its way through a 100-plus episode show like I Live in Cheongdam Dong :b

      Your point of interest is also a point of interest to me ;) I love the supermarket sale image—it's completely befuddling to have this giant array of choices you know nothing about at all.

      Almost all of the Asian dramas I've watched have been Korean, with two exceptions: the Japanese Boys over Flowers (which I wasn't all that crazy about—it had all of the drawbacks of the Korean version, but none of the over-the-top, Jun-Pyo-arrives-in-a-helicopter-wearing-a-fur-stole charm) and Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge (which was so insanely insane [did I mention that it's insane?] that I couldn't even make it through episode 1). I've been friends with a lot of anime fangirls over the years, so I'm always surprised by how much I know about Japan and the Japanese language.

      I'm thinking the new frontier is Taiwan... From what I've read, their dramas make Korean ones look low-key and restrained. I think my first will be Autumn's Concerto, which Mad Dino is all about. (Unfortunately, Dramafever is posting subbed episodes at a glacial pace, even though it's an old drama, so I may never get started at this rate.)

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    2. I also want to watch Autumn's Concerto (Hurry up DF!). Love Forward was my first and so far only Taiwanese drama - when it was good, it was fantastic; when it was bad, it just plain out sucked. It was neat though seeing Asian culture through a different lense. It's not weird for people like us to say that we most definitely know and understand Korean culture like the inside of our eyelids.. 50+ dramas will do that to a person, even if the dramas have glaring deficiencies in portraying day-to-day Korean lives.

      To hear Chinese though! And see Taiwanese beaches! And all the intangibles that make up a whole new group of people - I think the first watch for anybody is something of a rite of passage. That may be why watching (and let me spell this right this time!) Nobuta wo Produce is giving me something like euphoria! It's a coming of age tale of the highest possible caliber (so far), the characters are so believable in their roles (and it's the guys who are weird/quirky, not the girls), so many scenes make me actually giggle! It's not really over the top, and has almost none of the slapstick/assinine (dare I say it?) Korean reactions to weird developments that make me want to die of a new symptom I'm defining as "audience mortification." Ahh, and it's only 10 or 11 episodes long. I'll be done by tomorrow.. so I'll let you know how it goes. ;)

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    3. A Wife's Credentials and Seol's Sad Song sound really good. I don't know if I will ever convince myself to watch another Hong Sisters drama after Big.

      I have watched so much anime in the past that it was totally weird to hear Korean when I first started watching CP. I am just as familiar with the Japanese language and culture as I an with Korean and I was thinking that I may try to watch a Jdrama soon. I may have to check out Nobuta Wo Produce soon, let me know if you still loved it after you finish it!!

      I am almost finished with I Need Romance and I have loved every second of it. I actually may have accidentally stayed up until 3:00 AM on Sunday watching it because I couldn't stop, but then I thought I was going to die during the workshop on Monday at work so I didn't do that again last night lol. But I'm on episode 13, though it may be tomorrow when I finish because I just got home (I had to turn around and leave as soon as I got home from today's workshop because I got a call and someone had recommended me for an awesome teaching job in the town I'm originally from which is only like a 45 minute drive from here and they called me out of the blue asking me to come interview (I didn't even apply), I was not expecting it at all. It would be way less stress than what I'm under now, just to give you an idea, this year I am supposed to have a class of 17 intellectually disabled and autistic students that are all from homes of very low socioeconomic status, so no home training on top of their disabilities and almost zero parental support. This other job would be at an A school with only 4 kids who have emotional and behavior disabilities but a normal ranged intellectual capacity. Anyway, I will stop telling you my life story now but wish me luck, because this would be an amazing change as far as my stress level goes!!!) I will probably not stay up too late because I am exhausted and I have another awesomely fun workshop to attend first thing in the morning, but mark my words I will finish I Need Romance by tomorrow evening lol.

      Also this is random, but I am going to explode if they don't air the last 2 episodes of AGD soon!! They were going to air them at an earlier time last Saturday and then they pushed it back because the S. Koreans won a bunch of medals at something and they wanted to show the ceremony and then Drama Fever said they were rescheduled to air last night, but I guess they got pushed back again because I cannot find them anywhere, not even Viki.com, which is usually lightning fast. Grrrrrrrrrr!!!!!

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    4. I do hope your interview goes well! High stress level jobs can only be tolerable for a short while. Ep 9 of Nobuta wo Produce!!! And yes, I'm still in squeal mode! Everytime it goes to a place in the plot where you think, "Oh no.. here's where it all deteriorates," it doesn't.. I'm actually so upset becaues it's only 10 episodes.. what am I going to do when I've finished?? (Besides watch it over and over again?!?) !!

      And, I don't consider anything we gals talk about here as too random anymore. I would go mad absolutely mad if it was a show I was completely in to, and they kept delaying it.

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    5. Good luck with that new job, Julie! It sounds awesome. And re accidentally staying up until 3 am: HA! Sounds like something I would do, and then spend the next week recovering from. I loved the original INR, too. I'm on episode 9 of the new one at this point, and actually like it just as much: the physical chemistry is a little less electric, but I think the plot is actually better, so far. The female lead is less prone to doing frustrating and inexplicable things--she knows what she wants and does what it takes to get it. I can even forgive casting slightly less cute male leads, it's so good ;)

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    6. ::sigh:: Just what my social life needs--a whole new nation worth of Asian TV. Nonetheless, I'm adding Nobuta wo Produce to my list of things to watch as we speak. It sounds fabulous--I could go for a coming-of-age drama next, actually. And I actually like shorter dramas like that, although it's a bummer when the show is good. INR suffers from a little of that--at 45 minutes, the episodes whizz by in a heartbeat :b

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    7. I finished... I don't know what I was thinking.. I didn't have time to finish it last night or this morning, so I e-mailed myself the link and just finished the last half hour here at work.. now I'm in a daze. I don't know how I'm going to get anything accomplished today. I'm not sure I've ever seen something this glorious bebefore... I can't even rate it with any comparison in mind. All I can think is that I'm terrified to watch another Jdrama - what if it's not as amazing???? I'll be heartbroken forever.. I'm even tempted to watch more of the actors; one of the leads was in Proposal Daisakusen (which I watched all of 5 minutes worth - yuck).. ahhh the dilemna! I think I'll just go back to Kdrama until I recover.

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    8. "I'm not sure I've ever seen something this glorious bebefore... I can't even rate it with any comparison in mind."

      !!!! Well, that just rocketed to the top of my to-watch list. You might have made a mistake equivalent to starting off your Kdrama watching with Coffee Prince: There's nowhere to go but down from heights that lofty ;)

      I just read the dramacrazy summary, and it sounds like a crack drama, all right. I'm also glad to see that it's less of a comedy than the other Japanese dramas I've watched—I think I just don't get Japanese humor.

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    9. P.S. This might be a perfect time to watch Spring Waltz, Sara ;) I still haven't recovered, and am still listening to the theme song almost constantly. God help me.

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    10. Ahhhh now I want to watch it!!! I finished INR and cried like a baby in the last episode even though I was sure they were going to end up together anyway. I totally had the mascara racoon thing going on, a drama hasn't made me cry like that in a long time. Hmmm I think I may watch INR2012 and then Nobuta wo Produce. Evidently now AGD is supposed to air on the 11th, isn't that the same day as Arang? Happy kdrama watching day for me!!!

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    11. So I started watching I Need Romance 2012, and I realized something. As if kdrama needed more triangles there's an acting triangle lol. Lee Jin Wook played the second lead in Myung Wol the Spy in which Eric played the lead, and Jung Yoo Mi played the lead opposite Eric in Que Sera, Sera, so she has now played the love interest of both the male leads of Myung Wol in different dramas lol. Just a fun little random detail I noticed.

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    12. I love it when an actress's second lead ends up with her in their next drama together--the same thing happened with Park Shin Hye in You're Beautiful/Heartstrings. It's like getting a do-over that allows the best of both worlds :)

      I'll look forward to reading your review of INR1--and hope you like the sequel as much as I do!

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    13. So, I have this fear that y'all are going to watch Nobuta and hate it, and I'll be sitting here thinking.. "what's wrong with me??" Hopefully this doesn't happen... because I think it's awesome..

      I'm still in a daze though, and can't really sit still for long. Plus, I have an eye twitch. I put on Playful Kiss as background noise.. That may be the only way I'll ever get through something as silly as this.. why does every scene look like a child's playroom threw up? I haven't seen this much color since the last time I accidentally channel-surfed past the Disney channel. Yeeesh.

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    14. I know exactly what you mean about recommending dramas—it can be stressful, because you end up feeling like a terrible person if the recc-ee hates the show. ::cough::SorryaboutSpringWaltz,Julie::cough::

      Playful Kiss was what I turned to when I finished crack-marathoning Boys over Flowers, my first Kdrama—It was the moment I realized that all Korean television is not created equal ;) It's actually kind of a cute show if you can get over the fact that the female lead is a total doormat and the male lead never manages to be anything but an egotistical creep. (Their relationship is actually much more tolerable in the YouTube sequels that are kicking around out there.) I love her dad's noodle shop, though, and would give my pinky toes to be there right now.

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    15. I did not hate Spring Waltz lol, it just didn't have a profound impact on me. I didn't expect it to because it's not really the type of drama I typically go for.

      I actually liked Playful Kiss better then BOF because I'm a weirdo lol. Actually I think maybe it's because I liked the actor's character in BOF so much better than the lead that I was happy to see him get the girl in Playful Kiss. Also, it was not as out there and ridiculous as BOF lol.

      I am about to write my review on INR1. I fell asleep super early last night because I have had a crazy week and I'm starting to get sick, perfect timing lol.

      It looks like I have the job if this woman will officially resign. She told them she was leaving and then she won't resign so they called me today and said they were going to make her resign by tomorrow so they could replace her. Crazy woman lol, why tell them you're leaving and then refuse to resign? It's a bad situation because in Leon County (where I currently work)the students return on the 20th, which is about 2 weeks from now, and in Wakulla County (where I will be working if I get this job) the students return on the 16th, which is next Thursday, and I haven't told my boss yet because unless this lady officially resigns I don't have a new job to go to, so it's really going to be down to the wire and putting my current boss in a hard spot the longer it takes them to let me know... Oh well at least I know if she resigns I have the position.

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    16. I liked the second lead way better in both versions of BoF that I've seen. Why would anyone want the prickly Jun Pyo and not the dreamy, bookworm Ji Hoo? The Japanese original is even worse on this front than the Kdrama--it's lead wasn't even cute =x

      I guess in drama, as in life, there's no accounting for taste.

      Congrats about the job! Maybe that other woman is waiting for news about another job, but that's ridiculous that she won't just hand in her resignation and get it over with. (Random note: the only thing I can read in Korean is "letter of resignation." Wonder why that might be?

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  4. I like your list! I've started watching some of the dramas on there and want to watch others:

    -Capital Scandal: I saw the first few eps of this and then set it aside once Bridal Mask started because I wanted to finish the darker one first. It is rather campy, but I liked it, and I'll finish it one day. Also has the only instance I've seen in kdrama where the male lead and the second female lead are platonic soulmates--best friends who have no romantic interest in each other whatsoever. Secondary female is awesome all around, actually. Also, Kang Ji Hwan in spiffy suits. (This is the post that convinced me to check it out: http://rainscene.livejournal.com/4663.html)

    -Conspiracy in the Court: this was the very first saeguk I ever watched, and in retrospect I really should have started with a lighter one. Falls into the category where intellectually I know it's very good but it didn't truly touch me. Partly because of my unfamiliarity with saeguks at the time, but mainly because of the *breakneck* pacing. I usually love fast paced dramas, and I thought this drama should have been 12 eps long or so instead of 8, because everything happened so quickly my emotions didn't have enough time to become engaged.

    -A Wife's Credentials: waiting for subs to slowllyyy come out...

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    1. When Bridal Mask first came out, all the talk about it made it seem like the first show to be set during the Japanese occupation. I was surprised to see that something as recent as Capital Scandal dealt with the same issues. I wasn't that crazy about Kang Ji Hwan in Lie to Me—Sung Joon was too much of a distraction, I think.

      I lucked onto the perfect first sageuk—Sungkyunkwan Scandal is such a gateway drug when it comes to men in mesh pilgrim hats and hanboks. Conspiracy in the Court definitely seems too serious and hardcore for a beginner. It was next on my list of things to watch, but you may have talked me out of it ;)

      I'm so not starting Wife's Credentials until somebody finishes subbing it. I can just imagine it being totally awesome and getting abandoned mid-sub. Blurg.

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    2. No, Bridal Mask isn't the only drama set during the Japanese occupation, but it's one of the very very few (understandably).

      Yeah, I think I'll rewatch Conspiracy in the Court one day after I've seen some heavier saeguks. It's not that it's dark and depressing, it's was the really convoluted (for me at the time) political conspiracies which went wayyy over my head. The opening theme still sends shivers down my spine though.

      In other news: YESSS Answer me 1997 is on Dramafever!

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    3. When I saw Answer me 1997 appeared on Dramafever this morning, I suspect I made a sound like a dolphin undergoing horrific torture. Hooray! It seems like Dramafever is really expanding their coverage, which is so exciting I can barely take it. Now if only they'd get the jTBC shows...

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