First Impressions: Encounter (Korean Drama 2018)

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I thought of writing my first impressions on dramas which piqued my interest on the get go. Meaning from the moment it was announced and to the moment I have started the first episode. This may not be a regular segment from this blog but I hope the readers would enjoy my thoughts.

For those who have no idea what the drama is about, here’s a link to read about the synopsis and the characters: Read Encounter at Mydramalist.com

To be honest, I was not a big fan of the pairing but I totally love Song Hye Kyo and Park Bo Gum. It’s just that the noona thing doesn’t work well for me for these two since Hye Kyo is basically a newly wedded woman while Bo Gum is currently the Oppa of KDrama woman fans these days and he’s pretty much close with Kyo’s hubby, Song Joong Ki. Seeing them together during the press conference and drama posters felt weird. Anyway,DsggpUFWsAAwGnS I had to throw out that repulsive feeling out of me and swallowed all precautions that told me I might not like this drama. I’m glad I did, because the actors were professionals and they did their best to portray the characters that they have to. I guess I can say that I have finally matured as a viewer. After years of watching different drama series, I have learned to like a show as it is, regardless of biases or an actor’s personal history. Initially, I did start watching Kdrama without knowing about the actor’s background. However, these days, information is so accessible that a star’s image can be marred by their personal history that their hard work is simply put aside. Therefore, I’m going back to my roots and enjoy shows as they come along.

Now about the drama – although it was very slow on the uptake, the entire cinematography was beautiful. The first episode screamed at me with its beauty. Cuba may look dirty and dingy if you search it in the internet, but with great video panning and cinematography skills, it became a picturesque place. Third world countries does have the best and worst places there could ever be. Another thing that I loved about the first episode was the back shots. Everything started with a back shot of Cha Soo Hyun wherein the video showed how she started from being a politician’s young daughter up to the time she got divorced but became successful. Then add up the back shots of Kim Jin Hyuk and the ones he had together with Soo Hyun, they looked very much artistic. I like the way the scenes were done and to be introduced in such a way was a smart idea to lessen all the fuss about the characters with unnecessary screen time. Kudos to whoever conceptualized that.

A story line between star crossed lovers is not an original one and more on the cliché-makjang type of Kdrama but the way that the actors were able to deliver those simple conversations with a subtle nonchalant smile plus the unintentional skinship, everything went quite well. The main characters drew me into their charm and their palpable onscreen chemistry. Park Bo GUm seriously can release big amounts of pheromones with just a simple smile. Gaaaaad… I’d like to know what his parents fed him while growing up to become such a great guy like that. As for Song Hye Kyo, next to the shining guy, she does seem look older and yet still beautiful. I love the way she age beautifully. It suits her unlike other artists I know. Both artists were able to portray their character well enough that I don’t feel icky or weird while watching them but instead look forward to the next episode.

I also have high hopes to the sub characters who I think would be an essential part of the story, ie. Cha Soo Hyun’s secretary. She’s pretty uptight and yet when she’s off work, she could be quite snarky and definitely not a pushover. I’m definitely looking for her character growth along with the rest of the cast. I wasn’t expecting to like the drama but I’m pretty surprised that I’m drawn into it and hopefully things get more interesting when these two get back in Korea and not become too draggy like most melodrama usually end up to.

 

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Cinderella’s Sister (Korean Drama 2011)

Drama Rating: 10/10

Song Kang Sook is a single mother who has a daughter named Eun Joo. She married a rich widower named Goo Dae Sung who also has a daughter called Yoo Sun. The two girls became step sisters during their teenage years. What Dae Sung wasn’t aware of was that Kang Sook had a difficult past with a bad reputation and she is also a gold digger who simply wants to improve her way of living and social status. However, she seem to genuinely love Dae Sung and Yoo Sun, probably even more than Eun Joo, her very own daughter. This is the main reason why Eun Joo resented her mother, adding the fact that she hated their way of surviving in the harsh world by leeching off from someone else’s money. Aside from her mother, Eun Joo also detested her step sister’s sunny personality who didn’t know what being poor and unloved meant since Yoo Sun grew up from a rich family with a lot of love from the people around her.

Eun Joo became cold to everyone due to moving from one place to another, never settling in. That’s why she tried hard to live unattached to the people who gets involved with her because she knew that she and her mother would have to leave sooner or later. The only thing she didn’t expect was that the Goo household was different. Her step father Dae Sung has shown her fatherly love and compassion which she never even dreamt of experiencing. For the first time in her life, she felt comforted from knowing that she finally had a legitimate father figure to look out for her despite her stubborn personality. Then one day, a tragedy happened triggered by lies and deceit which caused chaos in the family and threatened to tear each member apart.

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The title says “Cinderella” because it was depicted from the fairy tale’s premise of step sisters but the drama was very much different in every aspect. This drama was somewhat similar to Cinderella’s story but with a big twist, there was no glass slipper and Cinderella was not the highlight but instead, it was the step sister who shined

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through the whole series even though she was too sardonic to be understood by anyone. Plus there was all the makjang that the drama could offer – it was a big roller coaster ride of emotions. So what exactly made it similar to the original fairytale? There’s the not-so-evil step sister Song Eun Joo who was acted by Moon Geun Young and Cinderella who’s known as Goo Yoo Sun which was portrayed by Seo Woo, but aside that, nothing else is. These two characters are so vital in this drama since the story mainly revolved around them. Then insert the male lead and second one namely Chun Jung Myung and Ok Taec Yeon, things gets more interesting and complicated at the same time with these two men involved in the pretty ladies lives. There’s also Lee Mi Sook as Song Kang Sook and Goo Dae Sung as Kim Gab Soo.

These two characters who posed as the parents held so much meaning for this drama too. Without them, there wouldn’t be Eun Joo and Yoo Sun to begin with. Their lives would never have crossed in the twisted fashion that the writer had thought of if not for them. The parents had their own story to tell so as to pave way for the step sisters and that’s one part of this drama to look forward to.

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To be honest, what made me watch this in the first place was Moon Geun Young. I am biased like that when it comes to actresses I like. Then adding up how the writer depicted Eun Joo’s character, though dark and gloomy, the character held so much promise. Setting my bias aside – Geun Young did great justice acting as Eun Joo. Due to Eun Joo’s
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family history and social back ground, her bad personality simply justified her outward bitchiness. I really love the tough exterior that she exuded all throughout even though deep inside, she’s all marshmallows. Oh, and I’m not forgetting Hong Ki Hoon, the man who moved her heart and made her do things she don’t usually do. My favorite scene is when Ki Hoon asked Eun Joo to call his name because he loved hearing
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her say it. The way I write it here may seem nonsensical, but in the drama, it was a very moving scene worth replaying again and again. Another highlight scene about these two is when they firsts met and Ki Hoon pulled at Eun Joo’s hear pin making her beautiful lush hair fall dawn behind her as she ran away from him. There’s also Han Jung Woo, the second lead who is always lurking about Eun Joo, in a good way, since he had good intentions for her. It’s just too bad that the other guy had already marked his
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way into Eun Joo’s heart because Jung Woo would have been a great guy for her if not for Ki Hoon. Lastly, Goo Yoo Sun, she’s the type of character who gets too annoying because she’s the ultimate goody two shoes. It’s not that she’s pretending to be one but she’s innately like that and that’s pretty tiring to watch especially when I have invested myself in feeling all sad and melodramatic because of the main protagonist.

The music was also lovely especially in those very melodramatic moments in which I couldn’t help crying and say to myself, “Please please please stop hurting so badly already so I could stop crying for you”. This was my internal dialogue which ran through my mind all through out every episode for Eun Joo. Do take note that it has been 7 years since I last saw this drama but still… by far, this is one of the best melodramatic Korean series I have ever seen. I rated it 9/10 because though I loved it, there were some turn out in the story line which I disagree with and would have changed if it was up to me. That aside, I’m definitely recommending this to those who are into a cry-fest makjang drama. It’s probably best to prepare a bucket for those incoming tears if not, a box of tissue would do.

Photos are not mine. Credits to the owner.

Good Doctor (Korean Drama 2013)

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Synopsis:

A man named Park Shi On is a doctor with autistic savant disorder who has the mentality of a 10-year-old. He overcomes bias and discrimination by society and workmates and becomes a pediatrician by utilizing his exceptional abilities that the illness brings.

Excerpted from: MyDramalist

Words from me:

The story line of this drama is quite peculiar – the fact that an autistic person could adapt fully and work in a hospital nonetheless is quite impressive because in reality it is unheard of.

The pilot episode had given me the impression that it was going to be a very promising drama, then by the end of the whole series I proved myself right. Although like any drama, Good Doctor has it high and low points along with loop holes. Due to the unbelievable premise, I say the writer was very much imaginative although farfetched for having such a plot. An autistic person basically has a lot of limitation but given the patience and perseverance to the people surrounding the person with a disability, it could be managed. Setting those thoughts aside, I love this drama because of the story and characters. It was like watching the movie Forrest Gump only in a clinical setting.

The main character Park Shi-on (acted by Joo Won) was such a lovable character. During the first few episodes, he may be an annoying autistic man who knows everything but after awhile his character grows on to you even his mannerisms become endearing… or maybe it’s just me because I find him really cute and funny? Anyyyywaaay… not to get side tracked, Cha Yeon-so (acted by Moon Chae-Won) is a woman with a strong personality. She has this tough exterior but deep inside she has a really fluffy heart which has a soft spot for our main lead.

I am not going to elaborate on that or else I might post unwanted spoilers. As for the supporting cast, they are essential in the series because they provide the substantial element of acceptance depending on the character’s relationship with Shi-on.

Music wise their is nothing really memorable about it except that it adds to the drama.

Good Doctor may not be in my rewatchable list but it is very much in my recommended one. You don’t have to be a medical literate to appreciate this drama because there are notes which would explain the terms & procedures. Over all it is a wonderful drama and it has exceeded my expectations.

 

Will it Snow for Christmas? (Korean Drama 2009)

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Synopsis:

Cha Kang Jin is the son of barmaid, Cha Chun Hee. His life is difficult as he gets into fights and has to watch other people push his mother around yet he can’t do anything to stop it. He met Han Ji Wan when they were teens but they weren’t able to continue their relationship as Ji Wan ran away. He meets Ji Wan 8 years later, when he’s attending her engagement ceremony to Park Tae Joon. However, he is heartbroken as Ji Wan pretends to not remember him at all.

Excerpted from: MyDramalist

Words from Me:

This drama, I have no idea why I took the liberty of putting it in my list of “To Watch” dramas for the year of 2009-2010. This is one of the most melodramatic drama’s I’ve seen for that year.

It have made me cry a bucket but it was all worth it. Having seen the show made my sense of Kdrama more diverse, since I tend to choose rom-com to genres like this. My heart is just weak like that, but this show made my threshold on tears much stronger… or so I thought until I saw Cinderella’s sister and 49 days. Heh.

This drama would always be dear in my heart because of the story line. It may sound unbelievable or ridiculous or even annoying for some because everything was such a mess. The main character’s past was so jumbled up that the future became dim for them. You would tend to watch and wait and watch some more, thinking, when would it ever stop?

Until one day, things would just fall into their proper places.

The ending wasn’t that satisfying for me but the whole journey of the drama was worth it. Once again, I got my mother crying out of this drama and she had to point her fingers at me “again” for doing so. I so love my mom when she does that but still continue on watching anyway.

Acting wise was superb, so maybe that’s what got me hooked after seeing the first episode.

 

Save the Last Dance for Me (Korean Drama 2004)

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Synopsis:

Eun Soo is a pure but unsophisticated woman who runs a small resort inn with her father. Eun Soo is just an ordinary girl, but her life changes when she meets a man who’s completely lost his memory. She takes him in and cares for him, and even gives him a name: “Baek Chang Ho”. Love blossoms, and soon wedding bells can be heard. But on the night of their wedding ceremony, Eun Soo’s father passes away. And soon after, Chang Ho disappears too! In the blink of an eye, the two people Eun Soo loves most in the world have left her. But Chang Ho had his reasons for disappearing: his real name is Kang Hyun Woo, and he’s heir to a large conglomerate. Even more, someone is plotting to kill him.

Excerpted from: MyDramalist

Words from Me:

I have been thinking so much about the title, because it never really made sense to me even at the very end. Why the title? Koreans has this weird way of putting in titles to their drama which sometimes doesn’t make sense (or maybe it’s just the translation?). I will dwell on title confusion some other time, but for now, let me talk about the drama.

Save the last dance is melodrama so don’t expect yourself to smile all throughout the episodes because, I’m warning you in advance, you won’t. There would be action scenes in which I have noticed in most KDrama series, they never cease to insert any fist-fighting-kick-ass-moves to make a statement that this is where all troubles began. Then after all these, the romantic moments come in along with conflicts.

The story revolves around two different people who have an entirely different family background: Kang Hyun Woo get’s the dose of amnesia, while Ji Eun Soo helps him recover his memories. In that period of time, romance blossoms and when things were going smoothly for both of them something tragic happens in Eun Soo’s end. Then the plotline gets pretty much out of this world after that.

I like how the story ran, not letting you know what would happen next. The twist and turns at the ending and the portrayal of the characters were a bit refreshing after watching too much rom-com with predictable sub-plots. It’s quite amusing to see them running around, chasing something which may or may not be there because in truth, they’re just confusing themselves for the things they’ve done to each other.

Another highlight of this drama is the soundtrack. If it’s possible to be in love just because of a song… then I was probably already in love when I was watching this drama. The main theme song had a very nice composition and the lyrics (yes it was translated to English as well, that’s how good the song is) was simply love.

What made me recommend this drama are the story line and its romantic moments. That hooked me into the drama big time, then throw in the OST, ah… it just became perfect. Another thing, this drama was aired during 2004 so expect it to be old school and grainy, but it still remains as one of the classic Kdramas I would want to rewatch sometime soon.

 

Love Letter (Japanese Movie 1995)

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Synopsis:

Watanabe Hiroko’s fiancé Itsuki died two years earlier in a mountain climbing accident. While looking through his high school yearbook, Hiroko in a fit of grief decides to write a letter to him using his old school address. Surprisingly she receives a reply, not from the dead Itsuki, but from a woman with the same name whom had known Hiroko’s fiancé in school. A relationship develops between the two women as they continue to exchange letters and share memories of the dead Itsuki.

Excerpted from: MyDramalist

Words from Me:

It’s one of those bittersweet films that would leave you crying by the ending credits and probably say… “Damn, that was such a beautiful film.”

I said that and will say it again.

Love Letter is a beautiful film with a wonderful setting and a pretty convincing plot. Though it was confusing at first due to flashbacks and some dialogues, I finally got to understand what was going on after getting into the latter half of the movie. Once I got my confusion out of the way, that unsettling feels inside my chest ceased to exist and only that wonderful feeling of going back to the days of high school innocence and pure love remained.

The film was very simple, not too dramatic or mind boggling. It didn’t even have any proper CG effects to make the cinematography better (since this is an old film and was released during the 90’s) but it will show you extremely good actors, great story in the background and a really nice soundtrack to come along with everything. It also has this softness that has melancholy written all over the storyline but the sweetness seeps in with everything until it’s late to realize that you’re caught up with the story and would want more.

This left me weeping at the end but made me feel good at the same time. It surely made me want to recommend it to everyone.

 

One Day (Korean Movie 2017)

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Synopsis:

A newly widowed insurance investigator handling the case of a woman in a coma after a car accident encounters her spirit when he visits her in a hospital one day and realizes that he is the only person who can see her.

Excerpted from: TvN Asia

Words from Me:

I’m in a movie hangover.

I didn’t expect to be in this kind of state at all. I only watched this because of Kim Nam Gil and barely read the synopsis. Lately, I noticed that I’ve been picking a lot of melancholic stuff which I know isn’t good for my heart but then again this movie was beautifully portrayed that I’m letting myself succumb to the fact that it is about death, letting go and moving on with your life. To be exact, the story is the opposite of a happy-go-lucky-romantic-comedy which is my usual genre to pick and it is pretty far from being perfect… however, though it may sound like a despondent type of film, it definitely has a lot to offer.

The storyline involves some supernatural characters like a half ghost (half dead-half alive) but it is very interesting and I liked the fact that it lead me to realize all kinds of emotions through the main lead’s character portrayal. I was kind of waiting for some romance, however there was none up to the very end. I was only left with a bittersweet ending and lasting taste of some meaningful friendship. My tears fell at some point due to the emotional baggage of both the lead protagonist. I was partly wishing something really good will happen for the female lead which was acted by Chun Woo Hee but I already knew how it would end for her and so I braced myself for the inevitable and instead tried to enjoy the interactions that unfolded in front of me. On a side note, I love how the sub characters made the movie more fun to watch as they gave color to the main ones. Without them, I’d say that main lead’s lives could have been more bitter and dull.

I’d like to commend how Nam Gil was perfect for this role along with Woo Hee as his co-star. They suit each other well and even though my prayers for some romantic interaction between the two of them wasn’t granted, I didn’t feel disappointed at all because the friendship that they both portrayed was spot on. As I’ve already mentioned earlier, the male lead was the sole reason I checked out this film, I expected for him to be good in his character portrayal. Yet again, he has proven himself as a great actor and never lets me down. He has also exceeded my expectations! The female lead on the other hand was unexpected. It was the first time I’ve seen her and yet she was able to capture my attention and put her in my list of female actresses to follow. I liked her acting style and her portrayal of a blind person. It definitely looks hard to pretend to be blind because at some point there would be a glitch in the acting, but she was able to portray her character impeccably which impressed me.

The music was as morose as the movie could be, not that memorable but it was tuned in perfectly for each scene and I liked its simple tune. Overall this is a movie worth watching and doesn’t seem like a waste of time at all. Recommending it to those who are looking for some bittersweet drama full of lessons about the reality of losing a person you love.