Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Finally saw Frozen

At last, after many failed attempts, I got to see Frozen last night. It finally appeared on the pay-per-view channels, and I hopped right onto it.

Disappointing. I'd expected much, much more from the film that everyone had raved about since it came out. The songs were EXTREMELY mediocre, the only one I thought good being Olaf the Snowman's song, and the singing voices were terrible. I only enjoyed Olaf's. I much prefer the casts of the dubbed films for overseas - I've heard a lot of the songs prior to watching the film in other languages, and seriously, take a listen to 'Do You Want to Build A Snowman' in Korean. It is so cute


The English version. . . . not so much. The little girl sounds much older in English, like they just got the teenage version to do it too. Hey, they might've. The 'grown up Anna' voice is too flat, and has a hard time reaching the right notes. Elsa's grown up singing voice sounds too husky, and frankly too old, for her, though her speaking voice is nice.

Characters wise, I initially liked Elsa, but the film tried too hard, I think, to push 'not marrying so soon after meeting someone' and make a point to audiences that Disney can do something else. A lot of other plot points were too obvious, slap-you-in-the-face-type, repeating the information that an act of love can heal a frozen heart one too many times for my liking, and definitely more often than in the general kids film.

People posted a lot of funny things about Hans' rejection of Anna, saying 'if only someone loved you.' But when it got to that part in the movie, it was really anti-climatic, and I didn't see what so many people got so upset about. From that point on, Hans actually became my favourite character!

By the time it got to the trolls' number when Anna and Kristoff arrive after visiting Elsa, I skipped straight through it. The first few lines were enough to convince me that the songwriter(s) had given up entirely for this film, and weren't going to bother. The very last section when Kristoff and Anna make their way back to the castle to the end was the best section of the film in my opinion, and the rest was cringeworthy.

The animation was similarly bad. There were several moments where it just felt so sloppy. I couldn't believe this was from Disney, whose animation is not exactly top-of-the-line all the time, but this was nearly scary. A lot of water and hair seemed slap-dash, though much of the snow was excellent.


I don't want to say that it was all because there was a lot of expectation on my part, because though I did look forward to the movie (winter is a favourite theme of mine), I wanted to wait and see the thing before I actually made a decision to like it or not. And while I can say I didn't totally dislike it, I'm not eager to see it again. Overall it felt short and bland, with nothing really remarkable that sticks out in my mind. It could have been so much better!!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Joint Drama Review: Heartstrings + Moon Embracing the Sun

This post was delayed until I changed browsers and was able to post pictures. Sorry for the delay, but here it is at last!

Time for a drama review! Or in this case, two of them! Heartstrings and Moon Embracing the Sun were two of about four or five dramas I was watching simultaneously, so they all got finished up at about the same time. Interestingly, both Heartstrings and Moon Embracing the Sun share a few actors/actresses in common (though none of the main cast in either case).

Fortunately/unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), I watched the last of Heartstrings first. I thought there were 17 episodes to it, as listed on Drama Fever, but the two last episodes were 'best of' episodes, rather than part of the show itself. Therefore, I didn't realize it would end as soon as it did.


Boy did it end. It ended with a rush, like they had to end faster than they thought. At 15 episodes it's considerably shorter than most dramas, K-Dramas normally running 20-21 episodes though occasionally more. They all looked exhausted too - about halfway through the drama, you can start telling where they stopped sleeping as much as they needed to, because Park Shin Hye and Jung Yong Hwa both looked beat. There were a lot of little subplots that got dropped in a hurry and things that were glossed over too easily nearing the end, though surprisingly I didn't mind them.

This drama was a seriously easy watch. This is definitely no melodrama (which is fast becoming my favourite type of drama, actually). It's sweet and typical, but the chemistry between the two main actors is stunning. The way they interact is very believable. Perhaps a side effect from this being their second drama together? Both starred in You're Beautiful, though not as the main couple. Everything about the drama is everything I say I never watch - but with this one it just seemed to click.


Shin Hye's character, Gyu Won, is nearly all about a character I don't generally care for, and I loved her character. I don't like the actress generally, and I loved her in this drama! Gyu Won plays a traditional Korean instrument, the Gayageum (가야금), and is majoring in Traditional Korean music at college. Her character is childish, innocent, and easily annoyed with the male lead, but otherwise girlish and giggly. I generally don't like these characters. They rarely have any development in the shows, while the men are made to conform their characters to her childlike innocence. I'm all for being a little more innocent (though in a different sense - I really need to write that post), but can we allow ourselves to grow up a little here? She acts more often like an elementary student than a college student, and it's easy to forget that they aren't actually in a much younger grade than they are!

Her supposed opposite is Lee Shin, played by CNBlue lead singer Jung Yong Hwa. He's a passably good actor, with the way he acts suiting a second male lead role than a first, which was refreshing in this drama. In a way it felt like the second male lead getting their turn at last - and in a way, it was, as his first drama role back in 'You're Beautiful' (again with Shin Hye) was as the second male lead! Lee Shin is a modern music major, playing a guitar with a part time job in a band at a nearby bar. It is this that is makes the pair 'opposites,' especially as Gyu Won's grandfather absolutely forbids even hearing modern music by accident, saying that only traditional music has true soul or can move a person by hearing it. Modern music is just disharmonic noise to him. Though they try to play up this opposite, I find the two characters are really close to each other in temperament and style, both on the quieter side, though slightly rebellious to insult or being told they can't do something. Both get upset for others who are denied opportunity or are made fun of. I think this was a big factor in the two characters - and in a small extension to the actors themselves - getting along so well. Trying to pair an outgoing, bubbly, proud girl of the lower classes with a quiet, reserved, choosy boy of the higher classes (spoiled) does not always equate a love match, while two quiet sorts nearby to each other (without having to come up with ridiculous scenarios to make them meet enough times to realize they like each other) easily fit together.

While Gyu Won is a little more outgoing than Lee Shin, they each have their group of friends they hang out with, and their interactions are absolutely adorable. This drama gave me happy feelings nearly all the way through, and even the 'mishaps' that occur - Lee Shin hurting his wrist, Gyu Won being found out making fusion music of traditional with modern - never seem very large or oppressive. It's firmly in the realm of 'fluff' and enjoys being there!


I really didn't care for the second love story playing out with the teachers. It never interested me, with their attempts to get back together and rekindle their college days. Honestly, I started skipping over some parts near the end with them, because they just never seemed to do much. They had an-almost-romantic moment that become awkward and funny because not everything got set up, but there was just too much 'serious talk' going on in the otherwise chipper drama to make it anything but a weight on the show. The third love story with the gawky and slightly slow band member Yeo Joon Hee (played by another CNBlue member, Kang Minhyuk) and Han Hee Joo (Kim Yoon Hye) was considerably better. Though they have their seriousness in a forbidden relationship and Hee Joo's health problems as she attempts to get ever thinner, it's done in a way that fits with the rest of the drama. Joon Hee is clumsy and cute, and Hee Joo's not all serious either. Though they aren't 'officially' together by the end of the drama, it's obvious that they're together anyway.


Another way this drama was refreshing was that there was no second male lead syndrome going on. There are occasions when attempts are made to introduce such a character, but it's otherwise absent, choosing to focus on its three love stories and the obstacles created by Gyu Won's grandfather.
Sorry for the GIF but the guy on the far left reminds me strongly of a tall Onew (SHINee)

Some things that was a little annoying: first, the constant back-and-forth on whether or not the musical was going to happen. One episode, they're working on it, the next it's been cancelled, put back on schedule, and cancelled again. Evil mothers and injured stars repeatedly put the musical out of commission and back on at their every whim, taking out cast members or directors and then sticking them back in. As a monetary backer, I'd've pulled out sooner than they actually did!

And the second one: Hugs. Honestly. The real world does not hug like that. Wrap your arms around each other, tuck your head in, and hug. It's not the end of the world. If I kept hugging someone who stood perfectly straight, with their head directly over my shoulder, I wouldn't bother anymore. What's the point of a hug if you don't actually hug? Just interlock your arms or something, it's about as effective. -_-


The soundtrack for this drama is one of the first that I've really loved. Several months later, I'm still listening to it!

Moon Embracing the Sun

This drama was a heartbreaker. It's not the first drama I've cried at, but it's the second (the first being City Hunter, in that dreadful last episode), and it was much worse crying than the first drama. DX I was house-sitting when I really got into watching it, for which I am eternally grateful because I actually sobbed through those episodes where Yeon Woo was dying. Yeo Jin Goo plays Prince Lee Hwon and is extremely good at what he does. Even though I knew that she didn't actually die, it was still so painful to watch. What made it worse was that it was the last you'd see of these 'child actors,' who had done so brilliantly in setting the show up, so though her character hasn't died, you don't see the same actress any longer and it makes the scenes feel all the stronger. Introduce the main actors, and it takes a while to get used to them. I always find this transition difficult, even if I really like the main/adult actors, and with this show all the more so. I've since seen Kim Soo Hyun in two or three other films/dramas now (such as You Who Came From the Stars, which I've reviewed on here already), and have grown to love his acting and abilities, but at the time he was the last person I wanted to see on screen!

As a side note, this drama was based off of a book! The story 'Moon Embracing the Sun' was written by the same person who wrote the book Sungkyunkwan Scandal was based off of - I had no idea either were based on books until the end of this drama. And it makes complete sense that they would be books first, as I look back on how excellently plots were handled - and perhaps why the endings of both dramas are similar, and 'happy endings' rather than the ambiguity a lot of other shows end on.

Characters: 

Prince Lee Hwon: Prince and heir to the throne of Korea; young version acted by Yeo Jin Goo/여진구, 15 at the time of filming, grown up version by Kim Soo Hyun/김수현.

Heo Yeon Woo: Youngest child and only daughter to Heo Young Jae and Shin Jung Kyung, a couple of the nobility/yangban class, sister to Heo Yeom; young version acted by Kim Yoo Jung/김유정, 13 at the time of filming, grown up version Han Ga In/한가인.

Prince Yang Myung: Older half-brother to Lee Hwon, a wanderer and not welcome at court; young version acted by Lee Min Ho (No, not that Lee Min Ho, it's another guy)/이민호, grown up version by Jung Il Woo/정일우.

Heo Yeom: Elder brother and only son to Heo Young Jae and Shin Jung Kyung, a couple of the nobility/yangban class, brother to Heo Yeon Woo; young version acted by Im Shi Wan/임시완 (member of K-Pop group ZE:A), grown up version by Song Jae Hee/송재희. This character also got a 4 year old version in one scene!

Kim Chae Woon: Loyal bodyguard to Prince Lee Hwon from the get-go; young version acted by Lee Won Geun/이 원근, grown up version by Song Jae Rim/송재림

Other characters include the sweet and spoiled princess, Lee Hwon's younger sister, Princess Min Hwa; the loyal bodyguard of Yeon Woo's, Seol; and the power-greedy but easily manipulated Yoon Bo Kyung. These three orbit around the outside of the main cast, each with their important moments, but otherwise are fillers for the background. Perhaps because I was not as invested in these characters before the cast changes over to the adult version, I felt that all three of these had the best transition from child to adult, with very similar faces between a pair intended to be the younger and older of the same character, and these felt strangely as the characters that held the drama together across that bridge between young and older. Soo Hyun is a fabulous actor; so is Jin Goo; they don't quite look similar though! They have very expressive faces and larger mouths, but there's no way the young Lee Hwon would have grown up into Soo Hyun. I felt the same about the elder half-brother Yang Myung, as well as with Yeom, Yeon Woo's brother.

Young Cast, Left to Right - (Top) Yang Myung, Hwon, Yeom, Woon; (Bottom) Hwon, Yang Myung, Yeom, Woon
Adult Cast - (Left to Right) Yeom, Yang Myung, Hwon, Woon
Young Cast - (Left to Right) Bo Kyung, Princess Min Hwa, Yeon Woo
Adult Cast, Left to Right - Princess Min Hwa, Seol, Yeon Woo, Queen Bo Kyung
Young Seol on Left, Adult Seol on Right
The plot of the show could be summed up this way: Prince Lee Hwon falls in love with young Yeon Woo, and she is chosen as his future bride. His grandmother has decided on Bo Kyung to strengthen the ties with their clan/faction, and disagrees violently with the decision of Yeon Woo as her father is part of the rival clan. The grandmother conspires to murder Yeon Woo through shamanistic means, and involves the child Princess to achieve it. The head shaman does not want to kill the girl, instead faking the death, while Yeon Woo loses all memories in the process. The head shaman goes on the run with Yeon Woo and the girl's former servant Seol for several years, telling Yeon Woo that she too is a shaman though Yeon Woo does not have any powers; YW is convinced she is simply too weak to fully possess her talent.

Bo Kyung is made queen after Yeon Woo's supposed death, a marriage that Lee Hwon refuses to participate in. The Princess Min Hwa is married off to Yeom, Yeon Woo's older brother, to keep Yeom out of court politics (a law of the court is that the princess' husband cannot be in court; this removes Yeom's scholarly intellectual nature from so the Grandmother's clan/faction can do more as they please). Lee Hwon ascends to the throne.

Yang Myung is the second male lead of the drama. He fell in love with Yeon Woo long ago, and was trying to win her hand before Lee Hwon took an interest in her and decided to marry her. Her 'death' broke the spirit of both men, but when the head shaman and Yeon Woo travel back to the court he recognizes something in the new shaman named 'Wol' and falls in love with her again. Meanwhile, under her new name Wol, Yeon Woo is taken into the palace. The king repeatedly falls ill, and the cause is deemed to be evil in the space, something that can be absorbed by a pure talisman, in this case, a living person - Wol. She sits in his room while he sleeps to 'absorb the evil influence,' though the real effect is quite different. This pair were intended by the heavens and the shaman's attempt to kill Yeon Woo has changed their fates. The heavens are moving to put the fated couple back together no matter the cost, and this is what makes Hwon ill. Yeon Woo's presence in the room is not absorbing evil, but is being near him as they were supposed to be, which heals him of his ills.

While that part is a little weird, it's definitely a unique way to bring the two together again! Hwon sees a resemblance in Yeon Woo and tries to figure her out, though Wol denies ever knowing him before. He attempts to discover the exact nature of his intended bride's 'death' so many years before again, stirring up action at court, inciting threats and the murders of many witnesses (such as the doctors who served at the time and examined Yeon Woo).


The ending was 'happy' - but only at the very end. They kill off some of the characters, and that was not all that great to watch. DX

Overall, excellent acting, excellent plot, really well done. Loved it, would watch it again (and I've seen it twice). The beginning remains my favourite, and there is a good dose of humour throughout. Highly recommended, though perhaps not to the same audience who love Heartstrings! Definitely for Melodrama fans, and those who enjoy something darker and more serious.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Harry Potter and the Secret's Chamber - I mean Chamber of Secrets!

As with about five other posts, this post was written back in February or earlier, and delayed until I was able to change the browser on my new computer to one that would allow photos to be uploaded on Blogger. The previous browser wasn't letting me upload any pictures, and all of my posts required photos to make any sense!

Though the ordering information gave me a two week window extending into March, I received my Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets books (in Korean!) on the 15th of February, wayyy earlier than I thought I would! I say books, because the Korean translations all come in parts - not one solid text like the English and many other translations are in. And I say Secret's Chamber because that's really what the title in Korean means. XD


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
해리 포터와 비밀의 방 =
해리 포터와: Harry Potter and
비밀의: Secret's
방: Room
More literally "Harry Potter and the Room of Secrets." :D



The Korean version of The Chamber of Secrets comes in two parts, as do most of the books (though later installments in the series go over four parts), and the one I have is in paperback though sturdy. It probably has another name in the publishing world than paperback, because it's not just a flimsy cover; it has some thickness to it that doesn't bend as easily as others would. Each part is labelled with a little coloured circle with a '1' or a '2' on it to let you know which part it is.




I was interested in how different the book setup is. It omits the dedication and front-flap description of the book, replacing them instead with the awards the book has received and a bit about J. K. Rowling on the flap. Apart from this difference, there are two further that I'm intrigued by - the chapter images, and the titles mentioned in the book.







As you can see here, the drawings given at the beginning of the chapter are much darker in the Korean version. A LOT darker. I wonder why that is?





The next is that it seems all titles of books are enclosed in odd little brackets. This page is the book list for Second Year students, the list received by Harry and the Weasleys at the Burrow in the fourth chapter. I hadn't come across this in my studies of Korean, and I wonder if that's usual? Most likely, but it would be nice for the info.

I'm sorry for the picture quality; this is actually markedly better from the previous set of photos I had taken. Unluckily again today was rainy, and though this is a better camera than on my last computer, the light wasn't great. I've been playing around with the settings on the camera for better quality, and I think it's a little over saturated!
One thing to get used to is that Korean, unlike English, is not typed in the same style. In English, all of our words have to end at the edge of the page, or get a hyphen and continue on the next line. We don't write so that the 'Ha' of Harry is on one line, and 'rry' is on the next. We go down a line and write Harry if it doesn't fit on that line, or with longer words such as 'anymore' we can have 'any-' on the edge of the page, and 'more' on the next line. Korean doesn't seem to bother with that style of writing, and words just flow over the page, fall where they might, with no 'obvious' connectors like a hyphen to tell you the word was broken off and continues on the next line. Some websites I've visited that were written in English by Korean speakers reflect this, in that they write the same way, without hyphens or going to the next line if the word doesn't fit. Many of our writing tools online or on our computers do this for us, allowing us to type without worrying about it, and going down lines automatically as we type. I don't recall accurately, but I think it's called word-wrapping? The program will go to the next line or insert a word break, or hyphen, where permissible, rather than allow us to type the first letter of something and continue on the next line without it.

While you can survive this, if you picked up a book that didn't use hyphens or 'left letters behind' on the previous line, it would be immediately odd to an English reader. In Korean especially though, this is difficult for the learner. There are a lot of 'particles' or parts added to a word depending on where it falls in the sentence, or tells more about that word. For a learner, having the particles broken off the end of the word and stuck on the next line can catch you off guard! I'm not saying it's the end of the world, but definitely something to get used to.

I'm going to try and compile vocabulary lists Harry Potter style as I read it - since there will be a lot of magic related words in the text that you don't exactly get familiar with in the typical 101 class! Doubtful I'd publish the lists on here, but that's something to work on.

Until next time! ~x~

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

TV Wednesday: My Love From Another Star Review!

I recently finished watching 별에서 온 그대, which goes by enough "Translated Names" to thoroughly confuse any watcher! This show is otherwise known as You From the Star(s), You Who Came From the Star(s), My Love From the Star(s), and even Man From the Stars. For any who might want to see this drama later, or are still watching it, this is all about spoilers!





The abbreviated version (no major spoilers): The drama was cute and fun, and though classed as a melodrama, there was never any point where I felt it was a melodrama, so much as say, Innocent Man was. The ending was somewhat slow, since this show was given an extension episode (added an episode to the series; this is often done with dramas that have really good viewer ratings). But even with the extra episode, I felt like they really didn't pay attention to what they were doing and left a lot of loose ends dangling. It had a happy ending though, and that rather helped deflect the ignored plots. The characters all interacted really well, the main couple had believable chemistry, and I highly recommend watching - it isn't a disappointment as the other two dramas I've reviewed on here were (Substitute Princess, Taiwan, and Big, Korea), rather the opposite! It's got a lot of good laughs, ET references, and witty comments to other dramas and how real life is for actors/actresses in the business these days. Though with its share of crying scenes, I didn't feel it to be a tear-jerker; the whole thing is decidedly light-hearted.


The full version!


Do Min Joon



Min Joon is our main lead, played by Kim Soo Hyun (Secretly, Greatly; Moon Embracing the Sun). An alien from a far off planet you cannot see from Earth that he names KMT184.05, his people are similar in appearance to human beings, but possess far different traits. Among these, he can stop time, affect objects using only his mind (turning on/off lights, moving cups, cars, rocks, books, etc.), possesses hearing and sight seven times the ability of average humans, can move with extraordinary speed, and is able to teleport through space. He also does not age in the same way that humans do, and seemingly eternally appears in the prime of his youth. 

The people of his star/planet see the life on Earth and wish to examine it more closely, and arrive in Joseon-era Korea, 400 years ago from the present day (about 1609). In futuristic black clothing, they take samples of plant life and watch human beings, while their shiny UFOs are reported in terror across the country by the Korean townsfolk - this is based on real-life historical records that tell us in the first year of Gwanghae’s reign during the Joseon era on August 25, a mysterious “round, shining flying object” was sighted; it zoomed overhead with “a thunderous noise” before disappearing into sparks, leaving the skies clear and cloudless. He has some weaknesses, the major ones being that saliva and blood can never mix. An interesting backstory of his life during the 70s or so, has a disgruntled co-worker spitting in his coffee as silent revenge, and he nearly dies from the reaction he has with it! Because of this, he insists on never eating with anyone.




Cheon Song Yi


Cotton, Mocha, what's the difference?
Our main lead is a famous actress, played by a famous actress (Jeon Ji Hyun). The character Song Yi is known for her great beauty and acting skills, though she is somewhat clueless, having numerous scandals all centred around her moments of stupidity. The 'pizza incident' is one such, where she asks her Twitter followers why she smells 마늘 (mah-neul, meaning 'garlic') on her pizza when she knows there is 'garlic' (using the English word) on it. The scandal, of course, is in her ridiculousness on not knowing that garlic and 마늘 are the same thing. Later, in her introduction to us on the show, she attempts a pun (consciously or not) on similar sounding words - taking a selca/selfie with a mocha coffee, she tweets thanks to a famous historical figure for smuggling 목화 (mok-hwa) seeds into Korea - 목화 meaning cotton seeds, not mocha seeds! XD This tweet leads to a full-on investigation of celebrity favouritism in universities, as her selca is proof that she's obviously not studying when she's supposed to be attending university.


Hui Kyeong/Hwi Kyung


Hui Kyung (Park Hae Jin) is the third and youngest son of a wealthy family, a happy-go-lucky sort that doesn't have a lot to do. He's working as a newbie in an office setting - though apparently 'stationed' there by his father, no one seems to realise who he is, thus not receiving the special treatment he would otherwise have gotten for being the son of such a wealthy family. He seems to want to work his way up as the average sort, but doesn't realize how to go about doing this resulting in some endearing blunders and funny moments in the office.
This second male lead is one of the least heart-pulling of the second male lead realm that I've seen. Unlike other dramas, such as Goong, Boys Over Flowers, and its type, where the SML is obviously a better choice of human generally, and is often mistreated by the oblivious main actress, Hui Kyung as a character never feels that way. He's loved Song Yi for 15 years when they met as kids in school, and has been chasing her ever since. He even proposes to her again in this
show, and has apparently done so repeatedly in the past. Even still, the feel of the show does not lean towards his plight as much as others, and he plays the kind big brother sort, always looking to give a friendly smile and helping hand, which he does in generous doses throughout. He gets an interesting subplot later when he delves into the mystery side of the drama and enlists the help of Min Joon.


Yoo Se Mi

Played by a favourite actress of mine, Yoo In Na (Queen In Hyun's Man), she plays the second female lead, and she's got quite a thing against Song Yi! She's loved Hui Kyung for all the 15 years that he's loved Song Yi, and has secretly hated Song Yi more and more as time passes. She, like the second male lead, is not the typical character, but has an intriguing character that slowly unravels. While at first she's just a supportive friend, later as the tables turn she reveals a more calculating side, and you get the feeling that she's a lot better at the business than famous Song Yi.



The story starts off flipping back and forth between Joseon-era backstory and modern-day Korea action. Min Joon's arrival on Earth brings massive wind gusts that knock people over. Some of these people are in a procession around a girl in a palanquin, all of them in white and straw and weeping over the fate of their poor mistress - apparently the young girl had just been married, then widowed directly after. Her lot now is to live on as a widow from her teens, shut away from others. As Min Joon's UFO blows by, everyone is knocked over and her palanquin goes flying over the cliff edge that so handily is nearby - but his ability to stop time freezes the world, while he pulls her palanquin back to solid ground and hands her out kindly.



 
Later while the others in his group are packing away plants and twigs in the forest, he goes traipsing through the towns dressed as an aristocrat, smiling as he stops time and wanders through the town centre as he wills. He interferes a little here and there but eventually lets time continue on. 
Later in the drama, we're told that the extent of his time-stopping-power is one full minute, after which time must continue again, though he could stop it again afterwards. The way he says that its extent is a minute, and that he had to play around with it to discover this limit makes me wonder if on his home planet he could stop time indefinitely. Obviously it's a talent he knows he has when he arrives on Earth, so it isn't something new. But as he refers on a few occasions to the 'long time' his home planet has, it makes me wonder why you would want to stop time at all. Since stopping it also halts everyone around you, it isn't as though you could stop time around you and actively continue a conversation with them. It's interesting that his powers have limits here, at least more so than where he comes from, but it's a story that never gets told. Why he has limits here is just something that's presented, take it or leave it.
 
When we return to the storyline concerning the young widow, she's been kidnapped and nearly hanged, but Min Joon rescues her again, teleporting her away from her attackers. As they later enter the village, they discover that word has been spread the girl hanged herself to follow her husband in death and preserve herself as a virtuous woman - her in-laws want nothing to do with her, and the fact that she dies a 'virtuous death' gives all involved a good image. O.o She and Min Joon set off for her parents house, the girl wanting to repay Min
Joon for helping her, but news again travels, and it reaches officials that her death was faked so that the honour given the couple was fraudulently gained. They speak at this point about an arch of virtue, something that made me think there was a physical marker of virtue made in their honour, rather than just giving the couples a good image, but that part was really muddled for me.


Reaching the house of the widow's parents, the couple are astonished (in a bad way) to see their daughter alive, especially as she returns out of the countryside unescorted save by an unknown young man. Dishonour is about to fall hard. 



They poison Min Joon with the food they offer their daughter's 'saviour' and her own mother attempts to strangle her that night as she sleeps. Luckily the parents are good people and the mother was only doing it for show. The moment her husband is out of hearing range, mother hands daughter a bag of money and begs her live in hiding. Hubby later tells the mother that he could not have killed her either, and was glad she had helped the girl. But poisoned Min Joon hasn't died the way a normal human would have - and as he lays in the storeroom, he sees in the sky the UFOs leaving. He's stranded on Earth.

Sick Min Joon and girl run out of town, Min Joon learns to speak Korean all of a sudden, seeming to have heard it enough to have internalized the entire language fluently, and they are followed. Officials surround them and back them up against a cliff (a different one than before), but as they prepare to shoot, the girl dives in front of Min Joon and is shot with the arrow instead.

From here Min Joon lives quietly on Earth for 400 years, amassing land, knowledge, and wealth, becoming an expert on law and medicine, moving about and not getting close to anyone. Every now and then he attempts to make a friendship with someone or save someone from danger, but whenever his powers are revealed, they turn on him as some monster and he is left alone again. Enter modern day Korea, and he's living in one of the most expensive apartments in Seoul, and is one of the 'youngest' professors at the same university Song Yi is supposed to be attending. I have no idea what the guy teaches - one day it's about fly mating rituals, another day it's about the chemical reactions that people mistake for love, and how that should be overruled by the human brain, and overall sounds like the sort of class you'd hate to have to take.


Song Yi is a famous actress, but as detailed above isn't the smartest when it comes to certain things. She's had a rocky past with her family: her mother wants her in the acting business so she can earn lots of money, and basically leeches off of her daughter to finance her enormous spending habits, but doesn't even know when her daughter has moved house. Her younger brother is constantly 'running away' (read, spending days on computers in the game rooms), and her father was estranged from the family because he lost his money and his wife didn't want him around anymore. Song Yi, like Min Joon, doesn't have any close relationships outside of Se Mi, and as we see more and more, turns out to not be that close of a relationship. Min Joon has a closer relationship to Lawyer Jang, whom he has enlisted to aid him in forging death certificates and the like so Min Joon can continue living on Earth without others questioning his non-aging.
Random Metal Handle in your dress there. . . .
Where Song Yi decides to wear a leather couch
Song Yi is interestingly acted. At points it feels odd, but the rest of the time, it feels like a well-done character. Having not seen this actress in anything else, I don't have anything to go on, though I did see a clip of her in a previous work where she acted nearly exactly the same - so perhaps not the character, but the actress? The character tends to talk 'to herself' a lot, though in a way that everybody hears and knows it's about them, and favours reeling off lines quickly - both of which she also did in the clip I saw, which is what I mean by not the character but the actress - playing the same role rather than different ones in separate films. She's stick thin and they dress her terribly in this drama - I've seen a lot of reviews that loved her style, but there were many, many times when I just had to stop the video and beg 'What is that?' There are a lot of drapey coats and capes - I get that it's winter. But honestly, there was nothing else that flattered her a little better? I much preferred the styles Se Mi (Yoo In Na) wore. The bad wardrobe effect didn't seem to extend to other characters, aside from the weird ahjumma/chaebol mom look that Song Yi's mother attempts to pull off. My favourite one to laugh at was the weird separated-turtleneck thing she wore for about two episodes:


This. This right here. What the. . . . ?
Because this feathery thing says I'm rich, somehow.
Except for Se Mi's mom, who has elected death by fur strangulation

Through a series of scandals, Song Yi's fame is somewhat tarnishing. Enter the bad habits of Hui Kyung's elder brother, Jae Kyung, the second son who runs the family company - and by bad habits, I mean awful. I mean murder. This dude is sufficiently creepy for any
melodrama, crime, or spy film he'd ever want to try his hand at, and this character oozes madman with power. Apparently he's put some away in years past - either in mental hospitals, or in the grave. We get a murder mystery that involves Song Yi's rival in the business, and Song Yi's implicated in the woman's death. This scandal is too great, and Song Yi's contracts are severed. In an attempt to save face, Song Yi goes around breaking the contracts herself so that they won't have the chance to do so first - but this means paying enormous severance fees to the company she's signed under, and is left with very little money. She's facing leaving her nice apartment - which just so happens to be next door to Min Joon's - and she sells many of her expensive bags for cheap just to keep going. This is sort of shunted to the side for the rest of the drama until her contracts are renewed again - they make it out as if, at first, she's destitute, about to be thrown into the streets, but then she just keeps on living in her fancy big apartment and still (occasionally) attending her university. Obviously she's still got something put away.

The young-widow line is resurrected as Min Joon discovers photos of Song Yi as a child in her wallet, where she looks exactly like the girl he knew 400 years ago. He questions her as to who she is, but she's got no idea what he's on about. Later, he takes her to a museum, where the hairpin (binyeo, a stick of metal or wood and gems that was worn by married women in ancient Korea) the widow once wore is on display. The moment her eyes land on it, Song Yi remarks that she suddenly feels sad and doesn't know why, but this is never again explored. We are repeatedly informed by in-denial-Min-Joon that he was only ever interested in Song Yi because of her resemblance to the girl he knew in the past, but we never actually discover if there is any tie to this girl. Is it her reincarnated? Is there some other family tie? Is it really just some coincidence? You just have to pick one you like and stick with it, because it's never concluded.


As I mentioned above, this is classed as a melodrama. I don't know if perhaps it was just the website I watched it on (DramaFever). There it's classed as a melodrama and as a romantic comedy, and actually does incorporate plenty of both genres, though elsewhere it's simply classed as a rom-com (Viki classes the drama as Romantic Comedy and Sci-Fi/Fantasy). Seeing that it was classed as a melo made me hesitate a bit, since I've watched a good deal of that type recently - dark plots, more tears than the usual drama, usually a couple of deaths or at least disappearances, loads of obstacles and moral dilemmas - but it never really felt like a melo. In all the darker scenes, where the evil baddie Jae Kyung is phoning his henchmen and planning murders (of which a few occur in this drama), they have bubbly, lighthearted music playing in the background! It's really odd; the music would rather suit a frenemy phone call with loads of backbiting comments, rather than the arrangements to off someone. This man murdered his older brother just to get his business, and nearly kills off Hui Kyung, attempts to kill Song Yi (multiple times), and tries to off Min Joon as well. All the while, happy-go-lucky music burbles along, and these things don't jump out at you as they might have done otherwise.

Through the usual lines of K-Dramas, Song Yi and Min Joon come to like each other despite not really liking each other at all at first. But there's a problem - three months after meeting Song Yi for the first time, the comet/asteroid from deep space is returning. It's 400 year orbit is nearing completion, and it's time for Min Joon to return to his people. As the show progresses, we get hints that maybe he was intended to stay, as he says aloud in his bedroom one episode, addressing his grandmother that he's finally learned love as she had wished for him to.

His powers begin to fade, ability to affect other objects disappears, and teleporting takes him far from the places he had intended to go. His time stopping ability hangs on most, but it's tenuous at best. Unlike the previous centuries he's been on Earth, he's able to feel cold, and though his kisses with Song Yi have previously made him seriously ill (since he can't mix saliva. . . . um, oops. . . . though honestly with the 'peck' kisses that smother dramas, Song Yi had to have some sort of licking-lips-constantly-problem for this to have ever actually been an issue), he now reacts less and less.

Hui Kyung holds on admirably to Song Yi and continues to ignore Se Mi, even after she confesses to him, thus rocking their friendship nearly to the breaking point. The drama ends as typical with the second leads, neither of them reaching a romantic relationship with anyone in the whole of dramaland, though Se Mi makes her peace with Song Yi and seems to no longer hate the older woman.

Eventually Min Joon himself begins to fade. He sees a vision of himself completely disappearing one day, and makes his farewells with Song Yi in case he won't be able to when the time comes. Jae Kyung makes a final attempt on Song Yi's life, as the mysteries surrounding him and the murders of the past are revealed hinge on Hui Kyung's, Min Joon's, and Song Yi's efforts, and he decides poisoning her is his best bet to get out of being handed over to police. Min Joon easily (too easily) saves Song Yi by treating her himself in a hospital and then teleporting out in front of a crowd. The world goes insane. People who knew Min Joon in the past few decades come forward to say he looks just like colleagues or friends they once knew that they thought had died (Min Joon faking his death every decade to keep others from realizing he never ages coming back to bite him at last), and videos of his teleporting are posted all over the web.

This becomes yet another problem that isn't quite fully dealt with. All the people in control - police, Lawyer Jang - repeatedly tell the world that they 'saw wrong' or that it was somehow faked, but the whole shock of it blows over really quickly. Jae Kyung is put in prison, his father (who thought Jae Kyung could do no wrong finally getting conclusive evidence that Jae Kyung killed his elder brother for the company rights and wealth) letting him rot there, and Hui Kyung sits on the sidelines rather shattered. Both elder brothers are now gone. Daddy plans to hand over all Jae Kyung's assets to charity and hire a 'professional CEO' to run the company.

Finally, Min Joon just disappears from the world altogether, right as UFOs from his home planet arrive on Earth. Song Yi is devastated, and her mother finally stops being a loser and starts caring for her daughter, rather than for her daughter's money.
We arrive now at the end of the series, which calls for the nearly obligatory time jump - this one for three years rather than the usual one year leap ahead. Min Joon is still absent, though Song Yi and Lawyer Jang (and later, Jae Kyung as well) see 'flashes' of him about, though they all rather think they're hallucinating. Song Yi's career is obviously back on top, and in the middle of a red carpet walk to a premiere, time freezes. Min Joon has returned! Unlike any other time-stop in the show, Song Yi is left out of the time freeze and is able to move about and talk, which is odd given the past 20 episodes of 'rules' that we've seen rather consistently applied. Saying that he's returned, he gives her a kiss in the middle of the frozen scene and then time unfreezes - obviously still limited here on Earth - and the world is shocked. But then he disappears again.

In an interview scene, like so many others peppered throughout the show, usually either at the very start or at the end with the credits, the happy couple are together, and explain that Min Joon is not on Earth permanently. He has to make periodical returns to the home planet. Each time he returns, he is able to stay longer - at the time of this interview it's been a year and two months on Earth. He also explains that he was sucked into a wormhole that took him back to his planet and his powers were restored, but that he continually tried to return to Earth - the flashes Song Yi, Lawyer Jang, and Jae Kyung all saw were real, and not hallucinations. He explains that he prefers the short time here [on Earth] over the long time there [his planet], but gives no further explanation.

This bugs me. It could be taken to mean that he has, like Arwen from Lord of the Rings, managed to give up the long life span of his people for the shorter life on Earth with Song Yi, so that he will age and die as she does. But it also could simply be taken as that he prefers to live on Earth for the time being. Will he actually age and eventually die? Song Yi had a perfect panic attack about this earlier on in the show, immediately attempting every age-reversal procedure in the book (and out of it) in hopes to stay younger, longer, and asked if there was any way Min Joon could 'change' her so she would not age. As with the moving-around-periodically theme, we run into another Twilight-esque worry that the handsome love will stay handsome and young forever while the girl ages and dies without him. But unlike Twilight, this one is not fully closed, and leaves you wondering what actually will occur.
 
Even with the left-out plot lines, the rest of the drama was pretty happily wrapped up for me, and it was really a good watch. I enjoyed every minute of it, and it didn't seem to get as repetitive as other series do. As I wrote above in the abbreviated review it lagged minimally at the end, considering, which was nice, and the couple really clicked together. The acting was overall good, and I wouldn't mind seeing another drama with any of the main cast in it. Unlike two of the other dramas I've extensively reviewed here on the blog - Substitute Princess (Taiwan) and Big (Korea) - this one is excellent all across the board, and I highly recommend watching it.

On to the next!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Return of the Pictures!

I've changed my browser to FireFox (first time I've ever changed my browser; it was rather fun), and now I'm able to put pictures on my posts again! All that remains is putting the appropriate pictures in the right spots on the drafts I've got going, and then it'll be time to get blogging in full strength again! I will also post my Tumblr blogs on Hanbok and Kimono on here, so they'll be in both places!

I'll have my first post ready by tomorrow; a review on a drama at last! It'd be nice to have it done today, and it may happen still, but I have a few chapters and editing work to be done before I can get back to editing the post and getting the photos where I need them. Until then!

~x~

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Updated Tumblr - Kimono Time!

The next post is finally completed! While I wasn't too happy with it, there it is at last. I included wedding and funeral clothing in this post, unlike with the Hanbok post. I'm considering adding that into the post at a later date, or whether I should do a new post dedicated to wedding and funerary wear that would incorporate both cultures.


Previous Posts:


Geisha and Gisaeng


Intro to the Series


Part I: Hanbok!


New Post:


Part II: Kimono!


My plans continue to be furthering the post with a write up on jewellery and a further, more in-depth post on the attire of Geisha and Gisaeng. As I mentioned above, it's possible I'll write one specifically on weddings and/or funerals, as I left that information out entirely in the Hanbok post, and is one that rather needs to be covered in a survey of clothing! Enjoy the pretty pictures - do you know how hard it is to find good pictures of men in Kimono that's not just the same thing over and over again? Women really have the upper hand in design on this costume!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

New Posts on Tumblr!

Since BlogSpot is still not allowing me to post pictures on here, I'd like to share my latest posts on Tumblr, where I've been compiling all my knowledge on Hanbok, as well as Kimono, in a series on telling the two costumes apart! There are lots of awesome pictures over there, so click and enjoy! :D


Geisha and Gisaeng


Intro to the Series


Part I: Hanbok!


The next post is in the works, and is on Kimono. After that will be a post on jewellery and hair, and then a further write up of the differences between the attire of Geisha and Gisaeng (or Kisaeng), in the telling-them-apart realm, to include the material that I left out of the first post on the list, since I didn't want it to get even longer than it was! Hope you like them!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

A Bathroom Mystery

My sister and I share a 'Jack and Jill' bathroom. One door leads to my room, and a second door on the opposite wall leads to my sister's bedroom. We've recently moved into the house, nearly two years ago, with the rest of the family. The bathroom was one of the nicest things about the house for us, at least for me, since it looked newly redone, freshly painted a nice purple, with a nice white bathtub, and a corner closet, with clean white tile. It seemed a nice step up from our last bathroom that always felt grungy.

Move in, though, and it's not so great. Unlike the master bathroom across the hall, which as a window, this one had the window covered by the surround on the tub. Sometimes you can hear the panes rattling through the wall. This 'nice' bathroom gets stuffy easily, and often smells of mildewing cloth, and I've literally scrubbed it down every day for a week straight, and no cleaner gets rid of it. The plumbing has caused no end of trouble, with the sink and tub often failing to drain - while we've been able to fix the sink [repeatedly] with unclogging products, the tub has never fully drained correctly.


For the past year now, both my sister and I have been complaining to ourselves about the habits of the other. I've said how much I hate it that she just leaves all her washcloth piling up, layered over one another on the rail, when things get mouldy easily here. She constantly leaves damp towels piled up behind the door to my bedroom - as in, more than ten at a time. She often showers before leaving in the morning, so I thought that's simply where she would leave them.


This afternoon, however, I found out that she's been thinking the same thing about me! She thought I was the one leaving the washcloths and the towels behind, and said that she was getting really sick of me leaving all these things in the floor or piled up by the sink, or on the rail. Neither of us had told each other outright to stop doing these things because, somewhat childishly I think, both of us figured the other would eventually stop doing it when it got so obvious. O.O


The thing is, I don't shower in that bathroom. I keep my towel hung over a closet door in my room. She showers in that bathroom, and keeps her towel hung over a bar in her closet. I don't use a washcloth to wash my face, and leave my washcloth in the other bathroom that I shower in. She uses a single washcloth for her face, and reuses it, then puts it in her bedroom with the rest of her laundry. Neither of us leaves our towels in the bathroom, period. So where are all of these towels coming from??? It's not just one or two, it's ten or more at a time! And neither of us leave washcloths there - so why were there so many?


After discussing this and getting a good giggle out of it before we realized how weird it was, we went back to the bathroom. There was a pile of towels behind my door as usual, and washcloths on the rail. They looked used, as though with a lot of makeup, like splotches of pinks, reds, browns and blacks, like lipstick or mascara would. Some were soaking wet still. There were over 20 towels and cloths in there today. We've decided to observe carefully over the next week, and be careful of where we put things, and tell each other where we put things. Try to figure out where all these things are coming from!


Definitely an odd mystery. . . . hopefully we can get it resolved so we don't have so much laundry all the time!!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

New Computer!

I finally got the browser correct with my old computer, for it to have been, quite literally, destroyed. I'm on my lovely new one, which cost under $300, and decidedly not compatible. I'll have to do something about it, but not yet. DX



I've picked up stitching at last, in amongst my pursuits for reading as many books as possible and searching for clothing patterns. I'm working on a few pieces at once (again - it's just not fun otherwise!) and none of them are ones I was working on before. Brand new stuff. Ah - I take that back, one of them is from before, as I've added in a few more stitches on my Woodland Sampler. Alas, not completed last year, so it'll have a 2014 at the bottom instead, but still it goes. I'm on September currently, filling in the first of the hedgehogs. I had a bit of a panic the other day when I realized I'd forgotten what colour I'm using for the border. Must find it again!!


Since attempting this post a while back, I've not changed my browser. For now I can't upload any pictures, and though I've gotten several posts written, they rather need the pictures (drama reviews, written, cross stitch updates, written - but no pictures). I've got six drafts written. SIX. Hopefully I'll get pictures back. If not. . . . I don't know what I'm going to do with this thing.