Show Review: The Innocent Man | Nice Guy | 세상 어디에도 없는 착한 남자 (2012)

Oh my gosh, The Innocent Man has me hooooooooked. If you like intense dramatic romances, this one is fantastic. I’m only about six episodes in, but I can’t stop! (It’s on Netflix as Nice Guy, if you’re looking!)

[I keep writing reviews for these shows before I’ve finished them but I just have a lot of EMOTIONS and OPINIONS so bear with me (and also there are some spoilers for the first six episodes herein, so if you don’t like spoilers, avoid until you’ve seen the show!).]

The main characters are Kang Ma-ru, Seo Eun-gi, Han Jae-hee, Kang Choco and Park Jae-gil. At the start, Kang Ma-ru’s madly in love with Han Jae-hee. They grew up together without money and have been together for years. There’s nothing Kang Ma-ru wouldn’t do for her. One night, after proving himself in medical school, he comes home to find his sister unconscious on the floor. Choco suffers from a long term illness and is constantly fainting and needing medical care. He’s in the process of bringing her to hospital when Jae-hee calls him, frantic. Torn between his sister and his girlfriend, he promises his sister that he’ll be right back, she only has to count to 500, and he runs to Jae-hee.

At a hotel, he finds Jae-hee sitting beside a dead body. They panic about what’s going to happen and in a spur of the moment decision, Ma-ru takes the fall. He’s kicked out of medical school and goes to prison, Choco’s health worsens, and Jae-hee ends up marrying a rich older man.

Five years later, Ma-ru’s jaded and furious. He’s on a flight when he encounters Seo Eun-gi, an heiress and step-daughter to Jae-hee. When Eun-gi faints onboard the plane, he uses his medical knowledge to save her life. In the process, he encounters Jae-hee once more.

Later, Jae-hee comes to his house and offers him compensation for taking the fall. Disgusted, Ma-ru returns the money but he gets caught in the crossfire between Jae-hee and Eun-gi, and is accused of blackmailing the family for money. So, that’s twice now that Jae-hee’s got him into trouble with the law.

I don’t know what to think about Jae-hee, honestly. She’s a really interesting and well developed character. Like, I cannot stand her in most of her scenes, but I do feel deep empathy for what her character experiences before the start of the show. She’s truly broken and terrified of going back to where she came from, so even though she’s manipulative and awful at times, she’s an interesting character and I hope she finds peace by the end. Also, her chemistry with Ma-ru is unreal and their scenes can be really heartbreaking.

Both of the women have great side relationships outside of Ma-ru and the love triangle, too. Eun-gi is close with Park Joon-ha, who’s been her friend all her life and fights for her within the company she runs, and always has her back. Jae-hee is close to Ahn Min-young, her husband’s secretary who’s secretly in love with her and helps her fight back against Eun-gi, who’s hated Jae-hee since her father kicked out her mother to make room for Jae-hee. There’s also Choco’s relationship with Park Jae-gil, Ma-ru’s best friend, who lives with them and supports Ma-ru through thick and thin. It’s a really splendid cast overall!

I really adore Ma-ru the most, though. He’s an amazing character. He’s such a good brother to Choco and he loves fiercely even though he’s been deeply hurt by Jae-hee’s actions. I love how his relationship with Eun-gi develops even as he’s battling Jae-hee and their tangled history. There’s so much intrigue and tension and looks. Seriously, this is a show that thrives on glares and side-long glances and I am here for it.

I can’t wait to see how it ends! Has anyone else seen it? If not, you totally should!

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 ♡

Show Review: 질투의 화신 / Don’t Dare to Dream / Jealousy Incarnate (2016)

Okay, so 질투의 화신 aka Don’t Dare to Dream aka Jealousy Incarnate is so not what I expected. The summary just did not give away many details. A love triangle? Cool? What else? So I didn’t go into it with much context and I’m glad I was willing to give it a try! A much better summary would be: A weather forecaster, Na-ri, works at a news network and is struggling to make it big in the business. She’s thrown for a loop when the reporter she had a crush on three years ago, Hwa-shin, returns to South Korea from Thailand. At the same time, his best (and possibly only) friend, Jung-won, begins to crush on Na-ri. So, yes, love triangle.

However, the biggest focus of the series coming in are the struggles of the characters individually: Na-ri lives with her brother in a house with a few other tenants. The young girl, Ppal-gang, is the niece of Hwa-shin, who left for Thailand after destroying his brother’s/her father’s reputation. Her mother also works at the news station, but doesn’t take care of her. When Ppal-gang’s father ends up in hospital after a drunken accident, she blames Hwa-shin and her mother entirely. Na-ri’s younger brother and another boy in the house make it their goal to look after her. Then there’s Hwa-shin himself, who, thanks to Na-ri’s accidental discovery while giving him first aid, learns he has breast cancer. It’s something I’ve not seen much, if any, representation for in English or Korean shows (or any other that I can think of?).

Hwa-shin spends a good bit of time in denial and has a negative reaction to what he considers a mark on his masculinity. It’s really heartbreaking to see. It takes a lot of women – Na-ri, the doctors and nurses at the hospital – to convince him to get treatment. In fact, the show spends a lot of time focusing on Hwa-shin’s journey after receiving his diagnosis. I’m really glad the show highlighted a topic as important as this and it’s not used merely as a dramatic and discarded plot point, it’s a big focus. You see Hwa-shin’s struggles and eventful acceptance of his cancer that leads him to getting the help he needs. He also doesn’t go through it alone. Na-ri’s mother and grandmother both had cancer, so she gets screenings every six months. It brings them into each other’s orbit and they slowly grow close.

Na-ri is also dealing with work complications, as no one takes her seriously and the sexist regulations from one of the directors is making it a wretched place to be. Hwa-shin, despite his irritation with her appearances in his life, starts to fight her corner at work, like highlighting how she’s a ratings success to the other anchors. Jung-won, a rich businessman who supplies the network with clothes, also begins to take an interest in Na-ri’s success.

The friendship between Hwa-shin and Jung-won is bromance material to the max, guys. Check out this set on Tumblr, I MEAN THE CUTENESS! And then there’s this one. I STAN A SHOW WHERE THE GUYS ARE TRUE AND UNAPOLOGETIC BESTIES.

I’m only five episodes in, but I’m really liking 질투의 화신! It covers important topics with care and comedy, and the characters are super likeable. Definitely recommend!

Show Reviews: Abyss (2019) & Beautiful Gong Shim (2016)

It’s been a little bit since I’ve watched a K-drama, so of course I started two in one week. Abyss (어비스) and Beautiful Gong Shim (미녀 공심이). I haven’t finished either yet, and I’m only about five episodes into each, but so far I’m loving both of them.

Abyss follows two best friends: a man who doesn’t find himself attractive and is often ridiculed, and a woman who believes herself stunning and gets quite a lot of compliments. Both die on the same day. Cha Min decides to kill himself after his fiancée dumps him over text and insults his appearance. However he changes his mind at the last second and calls his best friend, Go Se-yeon. She doesn’t take him seriously at first and halfway through the call, Cha Min is knocked off the building, only to be revived by two other worldly beings. He’s reborn as his ‘soul’s true form’: younger, taller, more confident. The beings gift him with an Abyss, a glowing orb that brought him back to life, and tell him to read the instructions. He heads towards his best friend’s flat, ready to tell her what happened, only she doesn’t come to the door and he goes to his apartment. At the same time, Go Se-yeon, is being murdered.

The next day, Cha Min learns what happened to Go Se-yeon and goes to mourn her, horrified that he could have stopped what was happening if he’d only gone inside the building. The Abyss lights up and Go Se-yeon is brought back to life in her soul’s true form: a little older and what she considers less attractive. (I will at this point note that some of the comments about beauty standards did bother me and I don’t like the body shaming a few of the characters do.)

Cha Min explains to Go Se-yeon what happened to them and proves he’s who he says is. They pair up to solve her murder and find his fiancée, who went missing just after dumping him via text. The investigation is quite interesting so far and I’m really enjoying Cha Min and Go Se-yeon’s dynamic, so I’m excited to see how it ends!

Beautiful Gong Shim, on the other hand, is a contemporary romance with a mystery twist. Gong Shim is the youngest, overlooked daughter of a family who relies financially upon her older, more successful sister Gong Mi. Gong Mi is quite shallow and puts Gong Shim down constantly, as if lowering her sister’s self-esteem is her evil art form. Honestly, she’s the worst.

Ahn Dan-tae is a pro-bono human rights lawyer and all around cheerful bloke. He encounters Gong Shim when she almost drops a potted plant on his head while trying to take a selfie on her roof. Despite this encounter, he ends up wrangling his way into renting her flat and moves in quickly. There are a lot of misunderstandings (largely on Gong Shim’s behalf), but when Gong Shim is beaten up by a rich woman at the petrol station she works out, she ends up going to Ahn Dan-tae for help.

Unfortunately, the woman who assaulted Gong Shim is the wife of the head lawyer at her sister’s law firm, and when Gong Mi learns of this, she bullies Gong Shim into dropping the law suit. Ahn Dan-tae isn’t remotely convinced and continues to help Gong Shim. He also makes fast friends with Seok Joon-soo, a rich businessman who ends up getting Gong Shim a job. Seok Joon-soo, for his part, is still reeling from the disappearance of his cousin years before, with his grandmother trying desperately to locate her missing grandson and his parents wanting to forget it happened (you get the impression they don’t care about their missing nephew).

The four lives get entwined over the episodes as Gong Mi falls for Seok Joon-soo, who likes Gong Shim, who’s liked by Ahn Dan-tae, who can’t seem to admit it to himself. CUE THE DRAMAAAA.

I definitely recommend both!

Show Review: Discovery of Love (2014)

Ooooooh, I love a good second chance romance! And that’s exactly what Discovery of Love (aka Discovery of Romance aka 연애의 발견) is all about. This show follows Han Yeo-reum (played by Jung Yu-mi), her ex-boyfriend Kang Tae-ha (played by Eric Mun), her current boyfriend Nam Ha-jin (played by Sung Joon), and her housemates Yoon Sol (played by Kim Seul-gi) and Do Joon-ho (played by Yoon Hyun-min).

Before the events of the show, Yeo-reum and Tae-ha were in a five year relationship that started perfectly and ended rather anti-climatically. To the point where Tae-ha has trouble even remembering why they broke up. But Yeo-reum remembers. She remembers how Tae-ha never asked her what was wrong, how he never had any interest in spending time with her, how he stopped being the guy she fell in love with. So much so that she stopped telling him about big events simply because he wouldn’t think to ask. They break up at a train station, the same place they fell in love, and go their separate ways.

Five years later, Yeo-reum is dating Ha-jin, a plastic surgeon and seemingly all around perfect boyfriend. Her housemates love him and they have plans to get married. But then a new job comes to Yeo-reum – interior design of a wine bar. The wine bar, as it turns out, is owned by Tae-ha and his business partner. Cue, **drama**.

The show is shot in a way that scenes are interspersed with characters giving interviews and insights to the audience, so you get what they’re thinking even when they’re not saying as much to the other characters. Ha-jin, like Yeo-reum, is keeping secrets in their relationship and the secrets spiral out of control. While Yeo-reum is hiding her past relationship with Tae-ha from Ha-jin, Ha-jin is hiding his childhood friendship with Ahn Ah-rim (played by Yoon Jin-yi), whom he sees as his little sister after growing up together in an orphanage and being separated as children. They haven’t seen each other since, but Ah-rim has kept a large scar on her arm in the hopes that Ha-jin will recognise her scar and find her, which he does. Yet he keeps their burgeoning friendship from Yeo-reum, thus leading her to believe he’s cheating. The mix ups continue with everyone (including their friends) trying to convince the couple that there’s no cheating happening on either side.

My feelings on the characters changed from episode to episode. Tae-ha was not a good boyfriend in the flashbacks, but in the present, I really liked him and how much he grew. I was totally Team Tae-ha by the end. Ha-jin was super frustrating when it came to Yeo-reum, but as an older brother to Ah-rim, I really liked him and I loved how protective he was of his little sister. There’s a good bit of commentary about quitting a relationship before it becomes toxic, too.

Overall, if you’re looking for a cute second chance romance with likeable leads, this is definitely one to check out!

Mini Review Roundup [30/04]

mini review

Show Rec: Because This Is My First Life:  I totally recommend this! The main guy’s such an interesting character and the main lady is so wonderful. Let me just say, the otps otp hard. I was a very happy fangirl by the end, haha. And all three couples are just the CUTEST. Without question, the romance in this one is top notch. GO WATCH.

Audiobook Rec: The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl: Okay, this is super cute and I love Kate Winslet’s voice, so I definitely recommend the audiobook version of this. It’s super short, under half an hour, and totally worth it. A must read for kids, definitely, and for burgeoning vegetarians and those who hate hunting. Go Dahl!

Book Rec: Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah:  This was a truly strange, deeply melancholy novella. It’s very stream of consciousness style and the main character drifts from day to day, experiencing grim events at every turn. The writing was very good, though.

Book Rec: The Gown of Harmonies by Francesca Forrest: This was such a cool idea! A gown that makes music. LOVE IT.

Currently Reading

Currently Watching

 

What’s everyone else watching/reading in lockdown? Hope you’re all well! (✿◠‿◠)

Show Review: Suspicious Partner (2017)

show_film review (1)

Suspicious Partner (수상한 파트너) took me completely by surprise. It’s a courtroom drama with romance and a murder mystery to boot. (It’s on Netflix, if you’re looking!) Honestly, the premise sounded cutesy and kind of bubblegum, but give it one episode and you’ll fall in love. It has swallowed me whole. I watched the first eight episodes in one sitting and the entire show in a weekend.

The show follows Eun Bong-hee, a newbie lawyer, and Noh Ji-wook, a prosecutor known for his dislike of criminals. They meet on a train one day when Bong-hee is groped by a random man – unfortunately, she thinks Ji-wook is the one who groped her and she tells him off, much to his chagrin. They part ways, with Bong-hee going to confront her boyfriend at a hotel with another woman, and Ji-wook on his way to a business meeting. As it happens, they’re going to the same hotel.

Ji-wook is still reeling from walking in on his ex-girlfriend Cha Yoo-jung with his ex-best friend Ji Eun-hyuk. When he overhears how poorly Bong-hee’s boyfriend is treating her, he intervenes and offers her an out. Despite the fact that neither particularly like each other, they spend the night drinking and then part ways. Later the next day, however, they realise that he’s her new mentor. Things really kick off, though, when Bong-hee accidentally witnesses a murder and someone else gets killed. Suddenly, she’s accused of the crime and Ji-wook is the prosecutor on her case. And everything spirals from there.

The murder mystery of the show gets super intense (in a wonderfully well written way). I was not expecting some of those twists! The suspense gets quite stellar and keeps the pace of the show moving along briskly. It doesn’t drag along and the villain is scary, complex and well-explored. A very interesting, well done character. The comedy and the drama mesh really well and the actors have amazing range. I’m talking slapstick comedy to serious, intense, heart-breaking angst. This show has it all.

I loved the core group of lawyers and their family banter. Other than Ji-wook, Bong-hee, and Eun-hyuk, there’s Bang Eun-ho and Byun Young-hee. The group dynamic is so, so cute. And a great counter to the angst of the mystery storyline. They have a chore chart and everything. They bicker like a family and it’s so adorable. Mr Bang really stole the show, though! He was like everyone’s dad and even refers to them all as his four children at one point. Mr Bang is just PRECIOUS. I loved his relationship with Ji-wook and Eun-hyuk especially.

On that note, Eun-hyuk was a treasure. He did something in his past to Ji-wook that has never been forgiven, but he spends every moment of the show trying to prove how sorry he is and how much he wants them to be best friends again. His atonement is A+ and I really adored his characterisation. I liked Yoo-jung less as a character until the middle/end. At the start, it seemed like Eun-hyuk really fought for his atonement, while she just wanted to be forgiven without working for it. By the end, though, I realised that she was awesome, too. This show does that! Every character assumption you had gets turned around.

I thoroughly recommend this to anyone who likes slow-burn romance, murder mysteries, court-room dramas, and comedy mixed with their action and angst. This is a brilliantly done one! (●^o^●)

 

**gifs found online, not mine