Category Archives: Kdrama reviews

The New Tales of Gisaeng Episode 1

I found episode 1 of the SBS drama The New Tales of Gisaeng quite a mix. The two leads Sa Ran and Da Mo are sullen and serious and have issues with their parents. Sa Ran’s spoilt friend Ra Ra looks like she is capable of creating lots of trouble along with her materialistic aunt. And there is the classic K-drama feature of identity issues and family secrets to be discovered. The episode jumps around filling in the story from three different families plus the gisaeng house. And there are some bizarre humour elements too.

Episode 1 has a quirky start. We see Dan Gong Joo, Sa Ran’s step sister, in pajamas and curlers dancing to funky music in her bedroom in the evening. She looks sullen and seems to be taking her dancing very seriously, twisting her hips and throwing her arms in the air. The scene goes on for quite a long time to the point where I’m wondering why it’s going on for so long! At this point I’m thinking she must be the lead. Then suddenly we see a thief on the roof outside her room with a stocking over his head and he’s staring in at her through the window. It’s dark outside and she’s oblivious to the fact that she’s being watched. Then the stockinged man (still on the roof) starts dancing too! Gong Joo’s friend Son Ja is walking outside and calls her mobile. When she stops dancing to answer the phone she glances out of the window and sees the thief dancing on the roof and their eyes meet. At the same time Son Ja looks up from the street and sees the thief too. The fast paced music stops and Son Ja shouts “thief” into the silence.

There’s a dramatic shift in mood and pace as the modern music changes to slower, sedate traditional Korean music. Now we are in a wealthy home where the dance student Sa Ran is dressed in elaborate hanbok doing a traditional dance in front of her teacher’s friend (Da Mo’s grandmother). Sa Ran performs slowly and gracefully and we can assume she has spent hours perfecting this at her dance school. Da Mo’s grandmother sits on the floor in her hanbok watching Sa Ran with an appreciative gaze. Continue reading

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Who’s Who in The New Tales of Gisaeng

I’ve just had a short K-drama break, but now I’m trying to get up to date with the weekend drama now airing on SBS, New Tales of Gisaeng. The story is about a modern day gisaeng house and this appealed to me – mixing modern life with the traditional gisaeng element. I’ve watched the first ten episodes and so far I’m enjoying this drama. There are some quirky elements to it, but I’m liking the romance that’s building between the two main characters Da Mo and Sa Ran. There are lots of new faces in this drama and at times some of the acting seems a little stiff, and sometimes the humor interludes seem a bit odd to me. But I’ll look more into that later. So far we are learning about the intertwined relationships of the characters so there hasn’t been that much about the lives of the actual gisaengs yet. But I’m guessing there will be more of that to come.

Anyway, here’s an overview of the families involved in the story and a little bit about the plot and characters. Everything revolves around three families and a gisaeng house.

Ah Da Mo is the son of  a rich family. (top left) He begins to date Dan Sa Ran a poor dance student. (top right) But Sa Ran’s friend Ra Ra likes him too. The couple date in secret so what will Ra Ra say? (bottom left) Continue reading

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Retro Drama Review: Lovers in Paris (2004)

Tae-young (Kim Jung-eun) and Ki-joo (Park Shin-yang) in Lovers in Paris (2004) SBS

Synopsis

I’ve just finished watching Lovers in Paris, starring Park Shin-yang (Money Warfare) and Kim Jung-eun. The story begins in Paris (surprise) where Tae-young an optimistic and unpretentious young woman is studying. To supplement her studies she ends up having to get a part time job as housekeeper for a rich Korean businessman. This job doesn’t suit her and because she’s a bit clumsy she fails to meet his high standards as a housekeeper and he wants to sack her. However, he agrees to give her the job back if she will be his date to impress a French businessman whose Korean wife comes from the same hometown as Tae-young.

Soo-hyuk (Lee Dong-geon), Lovers in Paris (2004) SBS

Back in Korea they meet again and Ki-joo begins to get interested in Tae-young but his nephew, Soo-hyuk (Lee Dong-geon) also likes her. In some ways the men are very similar but in other ways they are different. Soo-hyuk has no interest in the family business and wants to be a free spirit playing his drums and riding his motorbike. He becomes jealous of Ki-joo when he starts dating Tae-young. The couple have more problems when Ki-joo’s father and CEO of the company arranges a marriage between Ki-joo and the daughter of a politician. Ki-joo refuses to comply with his father’s wishes but the family refuses to accept Tae-young saying she doesn’t come from a good enough family. There is a secret that Ki-joo doesn’t know. Continue reading

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Dong Yi

official poster Dong-yi MBC source: hancinema

Good news –  Dong Yi, the latest historical drama by Dae Jang Geum director Lee Byeong-hoon is now airing on MBC (Mon/Tues 21:55) and this time Ji jin-hee is playing the King.

Like Dae Jang Geum, the main character , Dong Yi (Han Hyo-joo) is female and based on a real historical figure.

Every sageuk drama (set in the Joseon period, 1392 – 1910) I’ve watched by PD Lee Byeung-hoon has kept me absolutely hooked till the end (usually around 50 episodes). And I’m expecting the conspiracies of jealous court ladies to have me jumping off the sofa in frustration again. Smashing. Continue reading

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My Name is Kim Sam-soon review

One of the dramas that always crops up when I ask people to recommend a good one is the MBC drama,  My Name is Kim Sam-soon (2005) staring Kim Sun-ah (City Hall) and Hyun Bin. So last week I sat down to watch it and it didn’t disappoint.

Synopsis

Kim Sam-soon

Chubby Kim Sam-soon (Kim Sun-ah) breaks up with her cheating boyfriend and worries that she’ll never find a decent man. Determined to fulfill her dream to be a fabulous baker she gets a job working for Hyun Jin-heon (Hyun Bin), the young, rich, owner of a restaurant. Jin-heon is fed up with his mother setting up blind dates for him as he still has feelings for his pretty and slim girlfriend Hee-jin who moved to America three years ago. Sam-soon needs money to save her family home so she agrees to act as Jin-heon’s girlfriend in exchange for a loan. Troubles arise when Hee-jin comes back into Jin-heon’s life.

General thoughts

With great onscreen chemistry between the lead characters this romantic comedy had me hooked and I watched all 16 episodes in less than a week. It was easy to relate to Sam-soon – the heroine who can’t stick to a diet and worries that she is getting older and men won’t be interested in her. (cough cough) and there’s plenty of eye candy with the young Hyun Bin (23 at the time) who puts in a good performance as the arrogant, but hurting, rich restaurant owner. Plenty of girl-power, laugh out loud moments, and a down to earth tone – it’s not as prissy as some romantic dramas that try to suggest that nobody in Korea would dream of even holding hands outside wedlock.

The women in this drama are full on, speaking their minds and sticking to what they believe in. Sam-soon’s mother chases men away with a broom, her sister drags her man by his tie to a love hotel, and Sam soon drinks several bottles of soju, burps, throws up, and wakes up in Jin-heon’s bed after he has to carry her home. But she remains unapologetic and still innocent (nothing happened between them). Continue reading

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