K-drama: Cute, Cuter, Cutest!

I feel like I use the word cute too much in my reviews. But I can't really help it, there isn't a synonym that works as well as cute does in these situations. And Koreans really like cute. Heck, they have their own special kinda of cute - aegyo. And for the record, I'm not an aegyo hater but I do agree with eat your kimchi (which is much funnier if you've already seen You're Beautiful) - it's cute when it's somewhat natural (enrique!), annoying when it's not.

Secret Garden - 3.75

My first body swapping drama. And yes, apparently there is a sub-set of these. This one is a neurotic and arrogant company president with a love of sequined track suits switches places with a poor more feminine than you would expect stunt double. Hilarity ensues. And it is really really funny at times.

I loved Hyun Bin's character Kim Joo Won and his acting, in all his many, boy/girl/young/old roles in this drama. And I loved how his character really developed over the show. It took him a while but the man-child he started out as, with all his little mermaid/bubble crap, was completely gone when he drove into the rain. Although Hyun-Bin is also the male lead in My Name is Kim Sam-Soon but it took my two full episodes to believe it, he looks so different! He's so much skinnier in this one and I never would have look at him in MNIKSS and said he needed to lose weight. He's adorable in both but I want to find him a real life pattissier to fatten him back up.

I liked  Ha Ji-Win as Gil-Ra Im too, but I didn't feel like the writers gave her as much to work with and at some point wished we knew more about how she was supposed to be feeling. I don't think I was the only viewer to feel like they were a bit in the dark and it meant some scenes ended up feeling kinda icky when I don't think they were intended to be seen that way (evidence of this: "kiss" scene was sketchier to me because I was less aware of her feelings than the "bed" scene even though writing those down would make you think the opposite - but if you haven't seen it note that the "bed" scene is not quite what you might imagine it to be.)

I wish the plot surrounding the swap, the who/what/how part, was a bit more fleshed out but I did enjoy the wide variety of results. The humor, including the bathroom humor parts -  you can't put a k-drama with a male/female body switch and not expect that to come into play but it was funny and not overly done for my american tastes.  The skinship - but that's my body I'm touching :) and even the serious and touching (but I swear I didn't cry even when, well, I can't spoil it, but if you know, you know.)

It had some really good scenes and I enjoyed the story but it almost felt like they couldn't decide where to take it. It started out with a lot of slapstick comedy, then decided it wanted to be a tearjerker then back to crazy comedy.

I did however really like the ending (as in last two episodes).

SPOILER ALERT I'm partial to a long complete ending, none of this vague smiles roll credits stuff (my one beef with city hunter was the final scene - that's all I get?! I want marriage. I want babies. And seriously, how cute would those babies have been? That's okay, I can imagine them :-). But we get babies here! But I didn't just like having a full fleshed out ending, I liked this specific ending. None of character's change personalities to clean up loose ends but we still have a happy (enough) ending. Crazy mom is still crazy mom. But the two leads are adults too and I love how they let them be adults but while still being respectful to her crazy self. 

Flower Boy Next Door - 3.75

As third installment of tvN's "Oh Boy!" Flower boy series, I was really looking forward to this series and for the most part, it did well. I find Park Shin Hye to be adorable. Her character is a reclusive and frugal copy editor who secretly stalks her neighbor -  very different from the other roles I've seen her in, but she just makes it seem like a role she was meant to plan. She doesn't even talk much the first 6-8 episodes but conveys her emotions seamlessly.

I'd never seen Yoon Shi Yoon before but fell in love with him too - in one cliffhanger scene, I actually yelled "my puppy" outloud and Craig gave me the weirdest look but seriously, he's a puppy in this show. Bouncy and talkative and you can tell he just wants to be loved, for pete's sake, somebody love him! Oh wait, somebody does :-)

Kim Ji-Hoon is always a favorite and does not disappoint as Jin-Rak, the other boy next door, who secretly loves his neighbor Rapunzel. Plus all the great side characters -  Jin-Rak's dongsaeng, the security guard and ahjumma, the crazy editor (especially the crazy editor!) basically, this show is like unicorns and kitties and panda hats and all that is adorable and cute in the world, smooshed together into one little corner of korea (with the exception of crazy ex-friend and weird stalker fans)

If it ended at episode 12 I would have given it 4.5 stars but alas, it started dragging a bit after that. A few slow episodes is quite common for a k-drama but if it has to drag, I prefer it to do so in the middle and then recover but I do think this one ended well so that's a plus. I think it also hurt it that I was watching QIM  at the same time and it definitely suffered in comparison but still, FBND is sweet and quirky and fun and even touching at moments and I am not even a teensy bit sorry I watched it.

On a side note, this was the first drama I watched simulcast. I'd seen people saying they were waiting until a show was almost over so they could marathon and that seemed really odd to me but now I understand. It's really a different experience than marathoning, even though a few of the dramas I've seen, I've "marathoned" at a slow pace. There are upside and downsides but I think I like marathoning better. While watching it "live" means that I am forced to slow down and therefore have more time to think about what's happening, it also takes you out of the world of the show a bit. But the biggest downside is that I don't know if I'm wasting my time or not. I tend to be pretty picky about what I watch. I want several good reviews from sources I trust before I commit to spending 16+ hours of my life watching something and I obviously can't do that if we are all watching it together. The exception to that is if I'm watching because of a specific actor/actress as was the case here - although even Lee Min Ho couldn't save Faith for me (I bailed at episode 4). So I might try watching live again if another drama comes up staring one of my favorites but for the most part, I'll be sticking with shows that have ended.

Queen In-Hyun's man - 5 stars

I go back and forth about some of the ratings I've given, 3.5 or 4? It was better than that one I ranked 3.5 but not quite as good as that other one I gave a 4.5 to so...but fives are easy. I can go back later and figure out what I loved about it but I know it's a five when I feel like it's ruined all other dramas for me. That's what happened here, I finished this and had no desire to watch another k-drama because I just knew nothing would be as good as this one. And apparently I'm not the only one to feel that way about a specific drama since someone made this:

 Why even try, I can't top it?! Of course, seeing as how I've said that 4 times now, I'm probably wrong, I will find another drama that's this good - someday.

But on to the actual drama stuff. QIM is sageuk (historical) fusion drama about Kim Boong-do, a Joseon ere chronicler for the king and Choi Hee-Jin a modern day actress. Seeing as how they interect, there is obviously some time travel involved.

I had never seen a sageuk, fusion or otherwise, and I originally shied away from this despite rave reviews but I'm so glad I gave it. It's so good, y'all. It melts my heart. It's so pretty to look at but it's not a drama that is all slick and no substance. It has some very funny parts and lots of sweet interactions between the main characters, the female lead and her friend, the male lead and his little posse and while the second male lead doesn't stand a chance, he adds to the story without being annoying. You'll laugh and cry - sometimes at the same time (episode 15? 16!?). And the plot didn't have a dull moment. There were two spots where they could have stopped and easily coasted to the end with filler and fluff and I would have been fine with that but things only got more tense from there even up to the very end, I wasn't sure my heart could take it at times and I mean that in a good way. Also, it's another tvN show (yep, same as the flower boy series) and cable = lots of good kisses and cutesy skinship!

But the best thing is the two main characters. Now I love me some I-hate-you until I-love-you couples as much as the next guy gal but its very refreshing to watch a show about two genuinely nice people who meet, are kind to each other, start to like each other and then fall in love. Yes, that does really happen sometimes! Of course, being separated by 300 years is enough of a struggle you don't really need to bring in jerkwadiness into the picture. I know some drama fans aren't the same, but I am a sucker for the "take responsability" line and how that is woven into the story really works because of their respective backgrounds. So basically, this show is about the falling in love and that is such a treat.

And how much cuter is it knowing that they really did fall in love. After the lead actor, Ji Hyun Woo, publically announced he loved his co-star, she responded with "We decided that he will stop being In-Hyun's Man and instead, start being Yoo In-na's Man." I can just imagine then eating ice cream and making little hand hearts - aegyo! 


The ending. It seems you either loved it or you hated it (not necessarily what happened in the end but how it played out). I think people reacted so strongly because the show was sooo good that you couldn't help but be very emotionally invested. I do get why people were upset but I think it worked perfectly. What happened to the talisman had to happen to have a clean ending but I think after that the only option was to have something else replace it and either it would be obvious and there would be no tension or it wouldn't be and you would be surprised. Of course, that surprise still needed to fit within the narrative of the show but I thought it did tie (sorry, really bad pun!) in very nicely - we saw the phone as a link/communication between them multiple times, I think the tie part was necessary to break all the former "wrongs of time/fate/history" that had occurred because of the talisman (the arrows didn't count because he didn't think it would happen, he had a plan then!) and to allow her to form the memories she needed to make that connection, and so that now instead of it being Yoon-Wol's wish, it was Hee Jin's. In the end, it was not fate but rather their choices and their memories and their love, that made what happened - happen.  And I'm so very glad it did.


  1. To which eatyourkimchi post did you intend to link? (Prepositions, smepositions.)

    I think I'm going to celebrate getting my new computer by watching one of your 5 star picks.

  2. Sorry about that. I updated it in the post as well but it was the aegyo video: