Show Review: Marriage Contract / 결혼계약 (2016)

Oof. This one’s tough and beautiful.

Marriage Contract deals with two very tough situations: a son dealing with his mother’s illness and his desperation to find her a new liver; and a young mother, hiding from loan sharks after her deceased husband left her a massive amount of debt, who finds out that she has a brain tumour. The pair cross paths when Kang Hye-soo, the young mother, begins working at Han Ji-hoon’s restaurant. She overhears his plans to marry someone and pay for a liver, she offers herself and requests that he gives her enough money so that her daughter Eun-Seong will want for nothing. Not knowing the reasons why, Ji-hoon pays off the loan sharks, marries Hye-soo, and the pair begin to sort out plans for her giving her liver to his mother.

The more time they spend together, the closer they become, but that only makes things more difficult as Hye-soo doesn’t want to share what’s happening to her with anyone or ask for help. Her scenes are absolutely shattering. Ji-hoon’s mother’s storyline is also devastating; his father’s the absolute worst, though.

One of the best parts of this show, other than Hye-soo and Ji-hoon’s relationship, is their relationship with Eun-Seong. She doesn’t warm up to Ji-hoon at first, and is deeply protective of her mother, but soon the pair begin to bond and it’s clear they come to see each other as family. I loved how fatherly he was and how much he cared about both Hye-soo and Eun-Seong.

I’m not gonna lie, this show will make you cry. Constantly. Hye-soo’s pain is so real and all I wanted to do was reach into the screen and hug her. Ji-hoon is such a good son and caretaker and partner. He really grows over the course of the show and I loved his character progression. His dedication to his mother and now-wife are amazing. LOVE IT.

This show is truly wonderful and touches on some really rough topics. I definitely recommend giving it a chance!

Show Review: Where Your Eyes Linger / 너의 시선이 머무는 곳에 (2020)

It appears television writers came together and wrote a show just for me! (Just kidding, but not really.) One of my absolute favourite tropes is a bodyguard falling in love with the one they’re protecting; another of my favs is ANGST that hits you in the FEELS without ruining your whole day. And thus we are blessed with Where Your Eyes Linger.

The short series – eight episodes, ten(ish) minutes each – follows Han Tae-joo, heir and rich kid, who is guarded and protected by his best friend of fifteen years Kang-gook. They’re more than friends, though. Their relationship is deeper than just bodyguard/protectee as well. They spend every waking moment together and have only been apart for one week when Tae-joo visited Japan.

Things take a turn when Choi Hye-mi, a girl at their school, begins to take an interest in Kang-gook and Tae-joo’s jealousy surfaces. But it’s far from one sided, and as Tae-joo tries to get Kang-gook’s attention, things become more and more intense.

I watched the whole series in less than two hours and it’s totally worth it. Has anyone else seen this one? Or have some bodyguard show recs? (The K2 is perfection, FYI.)

Film Review: #Alive / #살아있다 (2020)

Because who doesn’t turn on a zombie movie first thing in the morning before you’ve properly finished your coffee?

Oh my gosh, this film was actually great! I’m very picky when it comes to zombie films/shows, as so many are so cliché, but I quite liked this one. It’s fast paced, straight forward and felt almost like an indie movie with the focus being on only two characters and their day to day lives, only there’s zombies outside. Actually, it’s quite a lot like 28 Days Later.

The plot follows Oh Joon-woo, a gamer and streamer, who wakes up one day to find that the zombie apocalypse has started and he’s trapped inside his apartment. Over the next few days, Joon-woo tries to contact his family, the outside, anyone, but there’s no responses and the signal dies fairly quickly, although the news continues on the television for a while. The uses/drawbacks of modern tech are touched on. The drone is helpful, having nothing with an antenna is not, etc. I liked that aspect.

Across the apartment complex is Kim Yoo-bin. The pair start to communicate by holding up messages to each other and eventually string a rope between their apartments to send food and walkie-talkies. But you can only stay inside for so long in a zombie apocalypse and soon the pair are faced with what to do next …

If you like zombie movies, or character driven action films, definitely check this one out! I loved the two main characters and the ending was very satisfactory.

Show Review: Romance is a Bonus Book / 로맨스는 별책부록 (2019)

Romance is a Bonus Book (로맨스는 별책부록) is a lovely surprise. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but I’m taken aback by how invested I’ve become. Seriously, I love each and every one of these characters and kind of want to ramble about them, so this review is a bit spoilery! It’s just such a likeable show with a likeable cast with a unique, heartfelt premise and relatable storyline and I must EXPLAIN. ♡_♡

The show follows Kang Dan-i and Cha Eun-ho, childhood friends that have always been supportive of each other and have remained close into adulthood. At the start, Dan-i’s getting married to Dong-min, only to run away from her own wedding and hide in Eun-ho’s car. He ends up talking her back to her wedding and she goes through with it. Years later, Dan-i’s divorced from Dong-min and homeless. She’s pretending to be Eun-ho’s housekeeper and eats and showers in his house while he’s at work, and cleaning the place in exchange for money meant for a housekeeper she supposedly hired for him.

Eun-ho quickly figures out ‘the housekeeper’ is using his place and tells Dan-i, who ‘hired’ the pretend housekeeper, to fire her. Dan-i begs him to give ‘the housekeeper’ another chance, and frantically starts looking for a new job. Her daughter’s in the Philippines at school, but her tuition and medical bills have left Dan-i with nothing. Dong-min doesn’t send child support or alimony, so she struggles to get by.

One night, after losing her shoe on the way to a job interview, losing the job interview, and having no place to sleep, Dan-i meets Ji Seo-joon. He actually found her shoes earlier that day and gives them back to her, along with an umbrella. She gives him her onion plant.

Dan-i shows up at Eun-ho’s and asks for a place to sleep. He doesn’t know she’s been divorced for a year or that her husband has left with his mistress. They’re still good friends, but drifted apart after her marriage. Eun-ho clearly hates her ex-husband, too. At first he thinks Dan-i’s making it up, but he soon learns that she’s homeless and divorced. He agrees to let her stay until she can find her own place. Dan-i then finds flyers in his house for a job interview at his book publishing company that requires no degree and she jumps on it. Having not been in the work force for eleven years, no one wants to hire her and she’s desperate for anything to pay her daughter’s hospital bill.

Dan-i ends up impressing the company without Eun-ho’s help and she’s hired as a team support contractor. Her job is basically to help out everyone, clean up, get coffee, file work, run errands. Eun-ho doubts her at first, but Dan-i ends up fitting into the company well. Although one of the colleagues, their director, hates her. When Dan-i starts showing promise in meetings and putting forward ideas, the director sabotages her efforts. I liked that Eun-ho wasn’t kept in the dark about it, but I do wish he’d done more about it. At one point his co-worker/on-again, off-again girlfriend, calls him cold-blooded for not standing up for Dan-i more. On this note, I will say that Song Hae-rin is really great. I didn’t like her at first, but she grew on me quickly.

Over the course of the episodes, Dan-i learns more and more about the book publishing industry. You see the ups and downs, and how very hard it is to get published or become successful even when you actually manage to get your manuscript picked up. The scene at the book binning plant was particularly hard to watch. Dan-i’s reaction was spot on. Like, ouch. There’s also an episode focused around a poet and how hard it is for poetry to circulate. That episode broke my heart.

Dan-i ends up running into Seo-joon in the neighbourhood and they bond over umbrellas, green onions and his dog, whom Dan-i even names. These two are the definition of adorably awkward. Like, you fall in love with Eun-ho and Dan-i in episode one, but Seo-joon is lovely. It’s a wonderful case of Team Everybody, so the episodes are enjoyable no matter who the focus is on.

The members of the company are a colourful bunch. The new hires vary wildly from Dan-i, but the trio quickly become supportive of each other. Although Dan-i faces a lot of setbacks, she gets support from Eun-ho and Hae-rin, and things slowly start to improve.

There are also great conversations about love, divorce, relationships, work, the impact of infidelity, poverty, class, etc. For anyone looking for an upbeat, charming, relatable romantic comedy show, definitely check this one out! I insist ♡

Non-English Language Show Recs

I’m a big fan of international television. Which is to say, I watch a lot of shows in a lot of different languages. As a teenager this meant watching videos in clips on YouTube, but with streaming being what it is, finding programmes from other countries is easier than ever. And that makes me so happy! Thank you, Netflix. King of Streaming. So, I’m randomly compiling a list for anyone looking for non-English language shows.

**This is by no means a full list, just what I’ve written up reviews for. **

  1. Le Bazar de la Charité [2019] french, romance, costume drama | ‎★‎★‎★‎★‎★ | that romance
  2. Zone Blanche [2017] french, noir, crime, fantasy | ‎★‎★‎★‎★½ | so spooky, so good
  3. Øyevitne [2014] norwegian, crime, lgbt+ | ★★★★★ | couldn’t relax, couldn’t look away
  4. Suspicious Partner [2017] korean, courtroom drama, romance | ★★★★½ | adorbs, fab, whoa
  5. When the Camellia Blooms [2019] korean, crime, mystery, romance | ★★★★ | awww romance and aaahhhh evil villain
  6. Crash Landing on You [2019] korean, drama, romance | ★★★★★ | THEIR LOVE LASTS FOREVAAAA
  7. Made in Heaven [2019] hindi, drama, romance | ★★★★ | right in the feels
  8. The K2 [2016] korean, action, romance | ★★★★★ | I will never get over this couple. NEVER.
  9. Because This Is My First Life [2017] korean, contemporary, romance | ★★★★ | d’aww, you guys
  10. When Heroes Fly [2018] hebrew, spanish | thriller, action | ★★★★ | non stop action like whoa
  11. Kurt Seyit ve Şura [2014] turkish, romance, costume drama | ★★★★★ | IT’S SO LUSH, EVERYTHING IS LUSH
  12. Élite [2018] spanish, drama, romance | ★★★★½ | everything about this is cray
  13. Don’t Dare to Dream [2016] korean, contemporary, romance | ★★★★★ | the storyline, the ending
  14. Beautiful Gong Shim [2016] korean, contemporary, romance | ★★★★ | I want to draw hearts around them
  15. Il était une seconde fois [2018] french, science fiction, romance | ★★★★ | confusing in a great way

Writing up this post has also made me realise how many other shows I should write up reviews for! Seriously, there are so many amazing shows out there and I have so many in my queue, but alas, time.

Learning Korean

korean

My copy of Korean Made Simple finally arrived in the post! Duolingo’s really fun, but I do find that I’m wanting more writing exercises and more detailed explanations. (Eggbun is another fun one I’m trying and it comes with a Korean keyboard, which is definitely a bonus.) This guide’s been recommended by a few sites and so far it looks really good. Can’t wait to get started on the exercises. Has anyone else tried this one? What are your thoughts?

I also found this video really helpful for understanding the Korean alphabet. This video and this one are also very informative! WooLara Company’s YouTube channel in general seems fabulous for helping people understand Korean, so I’m definitely going to watch more of her videos. 

Is anyone else trying to learn a language? How are your experiences going?

My Introduction to Korean Dramas (한국드라마)

korean drama

I don’t know why it took me so long to get into Korean dramas, but I am now deeply enamoured with the genre and have been watching them non-stop throughout the lockdown. Not only is it helping me learn Korean, but they’re just so much fun! The romance is always top notch, the acting is superb, and as a lady who needs bad-ass action scenes in everything, these shows more than provide.

I’ve written up long reviews of Crash Landing on You, Suspicious Partner and When the Camellia Blooms, but all of these deserve their own posts, honestly. And I’m going to try and write up some longer reviews for them when I can.

I’m now almost done with Oh My Venus and My Secret Terrius, which I’m loving. Both have So Ji-sub and he’s definitely one of my new favourite actors. No one enters an action scene like him! (Except maybe Ji Chang-wook, haha.) The action scenes in these shows are just so satisfying to watch.

*All of these are available on (Irish) Netflix, but I think they’re pretty widely available in most countries.*

The K2 (더 케이투) – [action, politics, romance] This one follows a framed soldier-turned-mercenary-turned-bodyguard as he protects a wealthy family with nefarious intentions. The romance and political intrigue in this was great, but the action scenes were by far the best. SUCH GOOD ACTION SCENES.

Suspicious Partner (수상한 파트너) – [romance, comedy, drama, mystery] My review. If you like adorable courtroom dramas with a touch of action, this one’s for you.

Because This is My First Life (이번 생은 처음이라) – [romance, drama] My (short) review. This show is actually one of my top favs despite the short review. It’s really, really good and the relationships are wonderful.

Doctors (닥터스) – [romance, medical drama] This one follows a troubled student who becomes a doctor and the mentor who becomes her co-worker years later. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m really enjoying the main character. She’s such a legend (and throws quite the punch)!

Descendants of the Sun (태양의 후예) – [romance, military drama, action] Two Special Forces soldiers are sent to Uruk and are joined by a group of doctors. The angst in this one is wonderful, the friendships are so great, and the awesome brotps are fierce.

My Secret Terrius (내 뒤에 테리우스) – [romance, action, comedy, drama] I am loving this one. When a young mother to twins is left widowed, her strange neighbour offers to be her babysitter as he tries to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her husband’s death. This one is just pure fluff at times and I am HERE. FOR. IT.

Oh My Venus (오 마이 비너스) – [romance, drama] After passing out on a plane from a toxic combination of diet pills and an untreated thyroid condition, a lawyer joins a trio of fitness enthusiasts who help her get healthy and fit.

Crash Landing on You (사랑의 불시착) – [romance, politics, drama] My review. My first ever Korean drama and still one of my top favs. Just start this one right now!

When the Camellia Blooms (동백꽃 필 무렵) – [romance, mystery, drama] My review. A cosy, smalltown mystery show with the cutest of characters.

Vagabond (배가본드) – [action, politics, touch o’ romance]  This one is super intense. The chase scenes are some of the best ever. The story follows Cha Dal-gun, a former stuntman as he tracks down those responsible for the death of his nephew.

Something in the Rain (밥 잘 사주는 예쁜 누나) – [romance, drama] This is a quiet, lovely show that follows the romance between a woman in her thirties and a man in his twenties, and the judgements they get from their friends and family. I started this one for Son Ye-jin, but Jung Hae-in totally stole the show.

***

If anyone has any Korean drama recommendations, definitely link me! For once I have the time to watch new television, so I may as well watch them all 😉

April Books 2020

mini review (1)

April was a pretty good month for reading, largely because I’m inside all the time with the lockdown. I’ve been reading a lot of short stories and listening to audiobooks, which I’m really enjoying! Trying to blend genres, too.

Additionally, I’ve started teaching myself Korean, which I’m loving! I’m trying to do a bit of Korean everyday and so far so good. I’ve been looking into workbooks for beginners and English-Korean dictionaries. I got this one! If anyone has any recommendations, please do share! 🙂 

April’s covers:

How’s everyone getting on with their reading? Any recommendations from the last month? What’s everyone doing to stay busy during these crazy times?