How to Make a Korean Drama: Lessons From My Favourites

What happens when you are out of ideas for a post and have been sitting on some reviews? You steal from  get inspired by an article elsewhere and apply it to K-drama!

1. Start off on the right foot (Coffee Prince)

Coffee Prince ep 1 Choi Han Kyul steps out of the shower

Opening strong counts for a great deal. But sometimes a drama conflates ‘strong’ with ‘a lot’, and in a desperate bid to hook audiences throws every thing it can at the screen–a car chase here, a shower scene there, a flashback or three. All this frenzy of activity can seem disorienting and muddled instead of clear and assuring. In this light, I’m struck by how lean and efficient Coffee Prince‘s opening is. The first 6 minutes contains everything you need to know about the show in a nutshell. In quick, fun succession, the show introduces the two leads, tells us who they are, and even has them meet! We see Eun Chan zipping around on her motorcycle, and getting thrown out of the sauna when she’s mistaken for a boy–there’s our Candy (with a slight twist). Han Kyul is all playboy charm, toothy, bare-chested and sweet-talking (our resident man-child male lead). And with his brief glance at a photo and slight hesitance on the phone, we see our second leads, Han Seong and Yoo Joo, and get hints of Han Kyul’s complicated relationship with them. Voila! Characters, conflict and set-up all in 6 minutes. It’s a fabulous reminder of that old adage less is more. (For a recent example of the exact opposite, see the first episode of Warm & Cozy.)

Continue reading

Favourites of 2013

I’m sorry to inflict yet another best-of list on you but I figured it would be good for my swiss cheese memory to jot these down for posterity.

It’s been a year of many firsts: my first year of K-drama watching, of blogging, of tumblr-ing (is that a word?), and of meeting a lovely community of fellow drama obsessives (that means you!) which has been totally awesome.

I wish everyone lots of love, happiness and many more good dramas in 2014!

Favourites

These worked for me in all the ways that matter–heart, story, substance and execution–and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend every one of them. In no particular order: Continue reading

Review: I Hear Your Voice (SBS, 2013)

Premise: A lawyer and a young man with mind-reading abilities re-connect 10 years after she witnesses his father’s murder. They work together to solve her cases, until the murderer gets released from prison and all hell breaks loose. 

I’ve written so much about I Hear Your Voice already that this final review seems a little redundant. So I’ll just come out and say it and save those who just want to know whether I liked it or not the trouble of trudging through to the end: I really liked this show. Watch it. The end.  Continue reading

I Hear Your Voice: Final(e) check-in

I Hear Your Voice Ep 18

The noona romance to end all noona romances

And.. it’s over! I was happy. Thrilled, in fact. I’m about to go make a virgin sacrifice to the drama gods to give thanks! How rare is it for a show that has delivered the goods each week to wrap up so successfully? We’ve all been burned, even when we thought our expectations could not get any lower. But here’s that rarest of creatures: a show that up-ended expectations and managed to exceed them, consistently. Did we end up where I thought we would? Yes, but how we got there was a delightful surprise each week, like discovering the road to Oz was not made of yellow bricks but chocolate and marshmallows.  Continue reading

I Hear Your Voice: post mid-point pre-finale check in

The shit has hit the fan

The shit has hit the fan

Dear show,

Remember when we first met? I was kinda in a slump. Then you came along on a Wednesday night. I liked a few things about you from the start. You seemed fun, good-looking and had a sense of humour which always gets me. You also had a dark side–very attractive. I got the sense that there was more to you than just a pretty face. My curiosity was piqued, but I wasn’t sure where this was going or how long I’d stick around. So I thought I’d keep things casual.  Continue reading

I Hear Your Voice: mid-point check in

Doesn’t this look say it all?

SHep14It’s no wonder why I Hear Your Voice gets noonas across the globe all hot and bothered. I admit this noona was slow to board this ship. I was all about Lawyer Cha and his dorky goodness. Yes, colour me crazy but Lee Jong Sook took awhile to get under my skin, and I’m still not convinced he’s a natural in the acting department. But he’s got charisma and charm, and embodies an on-the-cusp-of-manhood quality that’s damn near perfect for this role.  So now I’m fully on board and its giving me all sorts of warm fuzzies :).  Continue reading