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Scandal: a girl enrolls in Sungkyunkwan

In this light historical drama that I watched a year ago I found myself asking, “So where is the scandal?” Ah, that a mere girl has infiltrated the hallowed halls of Sungkyunkwan is the scandal, hence the title Sungkyunkwan Scandal.

Let’s say I didn’t know that there’s a real Sungkyunkwan University, that I watched this series without knowing beforehand who the actresses/actors in it are, that I was just curious about a centuries ago campus life when school buildings were of wood, foot-walks to classrooms were paved with stone, attendance in the cafeteria was checked, and the dorm looked like the traditional countryside house, what could I say after watching it?

Sungkyunkwan S _ep20_ professor takes the blame for the scandal

Prof. Jung Yak-yong takes the blame for the scandal, humbles himself before the king.

Produced in 2010, this is set during King Jeongjo’s reign (Yi San, 28 October 1752 – 18 August 1800, the 22nd ruler of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea, r. 1776-1800), when his character in the drama is shown to be already using painkillers and is talking of how limited his time is and so he must speed things up. He secretly visits the campus to watch ball games and is at one time the arbiter of a campus crime investigation that he turned into an examination item.

The meat of this drama is in the dialogues. I was not disappointed in my quest at taking a peek at what elite Confucian students might have been looking into because they do recite here small snippets from the books. Taking note of the dialogues and putting them in a post here will have to be done at another time, though. Like with Tree with Deep Roots here’s another way to get introduced into the high regard for the Chinese classics, which form the basics of a Confucian scholarship.What makes the series interesting for me is the way the students and their mentors/elders make moves one after and against the other around the problems they have to contend with, making it seem like a chess game of wits with integrity at stake. When parts start to drag, like in the romantic scenes, I just fast-forward.

There are many characters here, which is usual. I can speak about the four main characters only for now, and on what makes them interesting for me. They each are from different spheres of their society, from different political influences, making their friendship an object of admiration even by the king. Although the drama moves around their involvement with each other the story starts long before they were born, in the strife between political opponents that got the present king’s father killed.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal _ep20 _King Yi San & Kim Yoon Hee

The king does not disappoint as the scholars’ father.

1.) Kim Yoon Hee sacrifices much for the sake of her family. She takes care of them, being the eldest child of a fatherless household that has a chronically sick younger son. This in itself is not unusual then and now, but what is unusual is her way of doing it: she transcribes books (a bit like “print on demand” type of job) for a bookseller. She has made good use of this skill and talent she has — unconventional for a girl during her time because it was only the men who can get a high level of literacy such as hers, so the bookseller knows her only as Kim Yoon Shik since she comes to the shop attired as a man using her brother’s name. She had a good start at the classics as a little girl when her father, who was a professor at Sungkyunkwan, was still alive. After she enters Sungkyunkwan in guise her schoolmates nickname her Daemul, meaning “big shot”. Sungkyunkwan, being the elite learning institution of Joseon, is exclusive to males and the uncovering of her successful entry comprise the scandal. She is the key, however, as the child of a former Sungkyunkwan professor who was highly trusted by the king, in locating a controversial document that several political bigwigs tried to destroy ten years ago.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal _Ep20 _4 friends, lull before the final storm

Lull before the final storm: four drunk scholars celebrating a coup.

2.) Lee Seon Jun is the child of the Left Minister who is also the leader of the kingdom’s strongest political faction. Hence he is an “untouchable” to the extent that the school’s chancellor is always on tiptoe in looking out for his welfare. He is as upright as can be, a perfect replica of his father in conduct and demeanor, which is consistently emotionless. He struggles with his attraction to his roommate whom he sincerely believes to be a man. Thus, he undergoes an existential struggle concerning an issue that is anathema to the principles he lives by: conservative Confucianism. He, an upright leader-to-be of the kingdom, becomes introduced into a world that is outside the scope of his upbringing and the contemporary norms — and this not only with regards to sexuality but also with the overall worldview, giving him opportunities for applying into deeds the principles written by scholars of long ago, those he had learned in books, on how to live a worthy life. A friend nicknames him Garang, meaning an ideal husband material. He represents the awkwardly fumbling bridge between erudition and the authentic human.

Gul-oh & Yeorim, best friends _Sungkyunkwan Scandal

The Crazy Horse and the Playboy, hidden talents, latent abilities, opposites, best friends.

3.) Moon Jae Shin is the surviving younger son of the Justice Minister. His older brother was a radical supporter on issues regarding the common people — he and Kim Yoon Hee’s father were killed while performing a secret royal order, the transport of a document that was written by the former king wherein stated is his remorse over the death penalty he gave to his own son the Crown Prince Sado, the present king’s father. Moon Jae Shin’s nickname is Gul-oh (also Geol-oh), the crazy horse. He disregards conventions practiced by Sungkyunkwan scholars and his teachers have “failed” him from graduating three times already, though no-one berates him, not even his father. He comes and goes to his dorm room at will, which he occupies by himself, and it’s not unusual for him to reek of alcohol, be unkempt, and be absent from or asleep in class. However, like his older brother he is an excellent writer, and has read all the books in the library. He leads a double life, being a masked vigilante at some nights who drops off from the rooftops to the main roads below seemingly subversive red notes. By these notes the king has ascertained that he’s a Sungkyunkwan scholar and thus wants to protect him from the powers that suspect him of knowing about the former king’s secret document, the recovery of which threatens the current strongest political faction’s hold on power.

Yeorim, Garang, Gul-oh

Yeorim, Garang, Gul-oh, and a ghost. Ep.8

4.) Gu Yong Ha is the son of a rich merchant. They can afford vacation trips to China, is always very fashionably dressed, has a dorm room all to himself that is lavishly decorated — whereas the others have to share up to three persons each, ones that are almost bare of furniture. He is very popular among the gisaeng (the female entertainers) and is nicknamed Yeorim, the playboy. Being not of the yangban (nobleman class), his father bought their status, thus making Yeorim acceptable to Sungkyunkwan and their family respectable. Having a traditionally merchant family has made Yeorim wise in the ways of the streets, making him “at home” not only among the aristocracy but also in the shops. Their wealth makes Yeorim a valuable ally among the leaders-to-be in his school but isn’t a strong enough buffer against political ignominy, thus his bought status is a well guarded secret. Yeorim is the tactician among the Jalgeum Quartet — which is the name given by the gisaengs to this group of four friends, meaning that to the girls they’re four exciting/thrilling young men. It is Yeorim who consistently puts two and two together, enabling him to anticipate happenings and so is never at a loss at any situation. Yeorim is the one who can be depended on to get things done. His shallow-playboy image is a mask that covers an introspective personality. He’s actually a cynic and only their teacher has discerned his propensity at distancing himself from disadvantageous situations. Using their individual means, he and Geol-oh are the most mobile of the four friends, having the confidence and the capicity to roam anywhere they want — Geol-oh using his martial arts prowess and Yeorim using his family’s resources that includes a private army.

Gul-oh _night smile

a rare relaxed Gul-oh smile but, alas, in the shadows 🙂

My favorite characters in the drama all in all are, briefly:

❤ Gul-oh – he uses academics as an end to something else, and is emotionally engaged in his aim, which basically is upholding the common folk – a value rubbed off on him by his brother
❤ Yeorim – he speaks out, knows his way through situations, operates with certainty while being unafraid of well-calculated risks
❤ Sun Dol, Lee Seon-jun’s personal servant – he’s so unguarded, so sincere in what he does that he doesn’t let conventions check the way he expresses himself: he teases, scolds, nags and hugs his young master
❤ the king (Yi San) – resists political pressures for the sake of the populace; he listens to the opinions of young scholars, trusts them, and gives generous appreciation where due
❤ the two professors – they have integrity and deserve the respect given to them
❤ the school principal/chancellor – always torn between being upright, dealing with the parents, and being on the good side of the powers-that-be — in his funny way manages this beautifully
❤ the school’s staff, including the children who run errands and ring the bell – they are the main keepers of order in campus, cleaning, cooking, and assisting the teachers

Garang at a loss. Gul-oh acts weird.

Garang puzzled, with obnoxious Gul-oh insisting to sleep next to him, replacing Daemul at the center spot.

Daemul and Garang, the romantic pair, are fine in their own way but they’re not the reason why I’ve counted this drama as a favorite 🙂 One’s always too nice and the other’s always too goody-two-shoes, what Yeorim might call “boring” if not for the events that arise because of them. But the way each of the four responded to their unusual friendship is engaging for me, and the dynamics makes the drama worth watching again. Children who have disappointments with regards to their fathers might find this drama interesting despite its obvious commercial attractions — the young men’s relationships with their prominent fathers are given attention in this drama. Considering that the unkempt Garang and the well-groomed Yeorim have been buddies for a decade now, and that the “cheat” Daemul bonds with the irreproachable Garang, the yin-yang concept is seen here. Daemul, who is not interested in the attractive Yeorim, was first found out by the indifferent Gul-oh who is “allergic” to girls — he hiccups when he gets close to one. Garang is also the opposite to Gul-oh, in temperament and in political orientations. Similar to Garang, Yeorim also once had to deal with his strong fascination over another male, Gul-oh, but which does not bother him now. Gul-oh is the most physically capable of the 4 but has to be “saved” by them several times. One thing that I appreciate in this drama: thankfully there’s no fighting among the 3 guys over Daemul 🙂

…that’s all for now… ciao 🙂 (all captures in this post zoom in when clicked on)




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Chuno, and those who live only for the day

Good afternoon 🙂 The sun is setting, a golden world ❤

This post is from a scene of the 2010 South Korean fusion sageuk The Slave Hunters ( 추노推奴 Chuno)Chuno _ slave hunters   (1) It was a year ago when I first watched it.  I have no summary here, but I can direct you to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Slave_Hunters  if you wish to read one. All pictures here are captures from the drama. A sageuk is a S. Korean historical drama. Fusion because it has contemporary elements, those that are non-traditional to a sageuk such as stylized costumes and background music that does not belong to the period. The period of this drama is the Joseon Dynasty, in the early 1600’s. Aside from the traditional music featured here, which are lovely, there are also pop and rock sound tracks. Chuno _ slave hunters   (2)One of them, Stigma (Yim Jae Bum), will have its own post here one of these days. It embodies what for me the theme of the drama is, which is a chasing after something that cannot be had, in this lifetime at least.

The slave hunters are just that, they hunt for run-away household-slaves. They are mercenary-like in that they can be hired by anyone, or that they can claim rewards from owners whose slaves they have caught. They have a low status in society and are loathed by the slaves especially. They are not an organized body and hence there is competition among the different chuno gangs. They live by brawn mostly, and brains for some like the group in this drama, which consists of three friends who are among the best in the trade:

Chuno _Choi chamgun (1) Chuno _Choi chamgun (2)1.) Mr. Choi, nicknamed General Choi, or Choi chamgun, the oldest in the group and hence the older-brother-in-authority for the two younger ones;

Chuno _Daegil (0) Chuno _Daegil (1)2.) Daegil, about 6 years younger than Choi chamgun, is the originator of the group and has the most know-how on their trade;

Chuno _Wangson (0) Chuno _Wangson (1)3.) Wangson, the ladies’ man and the youngest of these three, lived formerly as what one would call a scoundrel; it was because he pick-pocketed Choi chamgun that the three first met, in a scuffle;

This scene here involves a newcomer to the group, Seolhwa. Chuno _Seolhwa (0) Chuno _Seolhwa (1)She’s only 17, about half the age of Choi chamgun, and maybe about 10 years younger than Daegil. She calls the three men her orabeoni, meaning older brother. Seolhwa was sold into slavery when she was 6 because her family was starving. (At another time I will relate this with Won Bin’s movie Ahjussi, where his character Cha Tae-shik has a small friend Somi who got into contact with children who were abandoned in a similar way by their parents. This is a modern-day setting movie.) Seolhwa was resold into prostitution in her early teens and is first seen in the drama as belonging to a traveling group of entertainers that goes around Joseon. She is a valuable asset to its owner, a nasty woman who has a retinue of private thugs. Chuno _ slave hunters   (3)One particular evening Seolhwa, apparently deciding to abandon her way of living, slipped through her guards and thus managed to come across the three chuno. From then on she has successfully attached herself to their gang. Hence, she has become an unofficial member, taken in by the “older brothers” out of their sense of responsibility for one in such a helpless and danger-full situation. She is a smart aleck but also surprisingly smart. Despite the three’s initial refusal to take her in she eventually gains their genuine acceptance.

In this scene the companions are momentarily at a walking-rest pace in the middle of their pursuit of a run-away military-baracks-slave, one whose price is a whooping 500 monetary units and so would be quite a catch to the struggling gang. The dialogue is mostly between Seolhwa and Daegil, who are walking ahead of the other two. Choi chamgun is at the rear, by reason of having the unspoken responsibility of watching his group’s back. Besides, he’s the quiet type. He doesn’t speak in this scene. Seolhwa has chosen to attach herself to Daegil. Wangson was supposedly, by an unspoken rule, be the one in charge of her (has something to do with age-related ranking within the group). But since Wangson is the playful playboy of the group and Seolhwa’s status normally elicits sexual innuendos from men then both continually clash. Daegil, therefore, seemingly grudgingly looks after her now. But the truth is that behind Daegil’s rough facade he’s the most sensitive of the three men, something which, I suspect, Seolhwa instinctively sensed since it was him who actually effected her rescue from her madame-owner and her thugs that night she ran away. The clothes she wears now is the one she ran away on — clothing was expensive, so it’s either they splurge for her or they steal for her or she just goes on with the only set she owns.

In the conversation Seolhwa reveals that she lives only for the day. For one so young it’s such a grave statement, as if she has seen so much already and is now resigned to just embracing what can be had right in front of one’s eyes and not so much as hope for more or for a better situation in the morrow. Wangson and Choi chamgun more or less have this same attitude to life, whereas Daegil thinks differently — but more on this at a later post ❤

It is just a simple conversation but one that I appreciate for its timelessness. For such situations as Seolhwa’s and the slave hunters dreaming of an abundant life is a luxury. Many would deem it an impossibility. I was a bit taken aback by the matter-of-fact way Seolhwa talks about it — this is how her persona is presented in the drama, as someone who has tasted the gruesomeness of life and yet manages not to let it show. Daegil, on the other hand, broods over and nurtures his pains. I’m happy to share with you here a tiny part of the entire story, and in pictures, too (a million thanks to the makers of Chuno). The gallery zooms in when clicked on.

❤ that’s it for this scene … the one that follows is a series of pursuits again, where Seolhwa will surprise Daegil with two more things, that she can ride a horse just as well as they can and that she can be sharp about discerning situations ❤ Seolhwa is basically for comic relief, because the drama is simply awash of heartaches plus it has many instances of sword fight violence — I watched it because my Korean classmate recommended it to me after learning that the plight of the lowest of classes in the old Korean society interests me, by the reason that I have found out that its mechanics greatly helps me understand the everywhere contemporary wo/man, and of course at the same time contemporary Korea/Japan.

The situations of the Chuno characters are, in one word, depressing. But Seolhwa in her role as the silly youngster in fact carries the light that would have been Daegil’s redemption from his perennial angst. Chuno can be spoken of as Daegil’s story but more can be seen within it after just a little more digging behind Daegil’s glaring presence. It is Daegil’s angst that provides the drive for the main plot but Daegil owns only one face of this angst — because it can be seen in the adjacent/parallel subplots as well. Almost everyone here is trapped by circumstances and are striving for some sort of restitution. There are no obvious answers at the ending, so it’s far from the happily-ever-after formula.

This journey with Daegil, this main body of the drama that is within this tiny period of fictional history, is much more value-full for me than any ending the writers would have come up with. Many are upset by the tragic ending and are only compensated by the hope that Daegil’s sacrifice has provided — he dies so that a future government, one that is redemptive, will have a fighting chance to emerge — at least this is the obvious conclusion to the story. For me I look at the entire story, which is the collection of the stories of the characters that I met here, as one of a perennial refrain in human life not so unlike that of Daegil’s at-times-pointless angst.  I was able to meet people whose faces can be replaced by any of us who are of similar dilemmas and aspirations, of waiting for, of giving loyalty to, of trusting, of risking, of giving beyond capacity, of just getting by, of going on despite everything … there is so much packed within this tiny bundle of a story … I am at awe of how its writers accomplished such a tapestry ❤ My only regret is that I do not understand the mother tongue that is the medium for all the conversations, otherwise I could have gained much more than what I can glean from the English translations so generously provided by many people including the one running with the captures above.

Seolhwa is among my favorite characters anywhere. There’s another girl character here that shines as well — a slave named Chobok and is also a favorite of mine. It’s her face, along with that of the young girl whom Daegil has saved, who are featured at the very end of the drama as they watch the sunrise together and is thus a closure to the story. It is a parallelism to the official soundtrack’s Stigma last lyrics “When will the morning come?”. As for Seolhwa, I envy her capacity for springing back to life, for her resilience, her matter-of-fact acceptance of what cannot be changed, and her insistence in ploughing through hopelessness just to get to the other end. Her status as among the society’s dregs does not weigh her spirits down. The drama makes it appear like she’s a potential romantic interest for Daegil, which helps bring in the profits, but is actually something that is obviously impossible to materialize right from the start. This aspect of the relationship between Daegil and Seolhwa, the being there yet not there, is such a delicate layering of interactions that I am very impressed at how the two artists, Mr. Jang Hyuk and Ms. Kim Ha-Eun, have successfully put it across clearly.

Somi and her ahjussi

Somi shows to her ahjussi ( = “uncle”) her nail art because he’s asking her what she’s saving her money for, as he quickly waters his cactus before the two eat a meal with her favorite sausages. A warning, though: this movie has lots (really) of violence and therefore must not be shown to children and the like. But the friendship between Somi and her ahjussi is as lovely as can be, even more touching than that of Alexandria and Roy in The Fall.

Please do not be misled by my appreciation for the drama, interpreting it as a recommendation for just anyone to watch it — it’s because it has lots of violence and I would really caution one to be prepared for this aspect in case (you) decide to take a look at it. It’s not for the “innocent” because it can leave scars to the unprepared psyche. That is, I would not recommend it simply for light-hearted entertainment’s sake.

I recall one scene where Seolhwa was utterly irresponsible, where she sold the gang’s horses and spent the money on drinks — yeah, the lot 😀 but Daegil did the unexpected, by collecting her home without the slightest fuss — and as of now the only way I can talk about that scene is to relate it again with Somi, the little girl in Ahjussi 🙂 . . . ’til next time then 🙂 ciao ciao

Han Suk-Kyu + Song Joong-Ki = King Lee Do = King Sejong the Great

Tree With Deep Roots.

A novel by Lee Jung Myung adapted into a sageuk (S. Korean historical drama) of 24 episodes. The name comes from a poem… and the roots pertain to the ministers…

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…This post is unfinished. But since I have already done much on it then I’ve decided to let it out. I do not know when I can have the chance to finish it. I ask for you kindness and understanding.

The things I say here do not do justice to the story, specifically the drama. I do not have much analysis here because it has already been a year since I saw it. I have forgotten the details. But what will always remain with me is the way the King Lee Do here fought off self-aggrandizement. He is ever wary of power but he knows how to make good with the privilege he has as the nation’s ruler. Perhaps when I pick up this post again, to edit, then I would be able to speak with more substance. For now, please excuse the mess 😛 . But please enjoy the photo galleries I have made. I am especially happy that it is for the sageuk Tree With Deep Roots’ King Sejong the Great, or informally King Lee Do, that I have first made them. Also, I am delighted to find out that South Korea names a new “city” after him. I have a little information about it here. I have another post about this drama, speaking of why I like it, please click here.

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King Sejong the Great (May 15, 1397 – April 8, 1450, reigned 1418–1450, fourth king of Joseon), of the personal name Lee Do, or Yi Do, is the subject of the story. This drama revolves around his efforts to create the first official native Korean script, called Han-gul or Han-geul. The most characteristic trait of King Lee Do portrayed here is that he refuses to succumb to the use of might.  The drama depicts the academic and logistic struggles of the king and his companions to eventually bring out into the common people the easily memorized Korean alphabet (compared to the official Chinese script that only those of the so-called upper class know how to read and write).

As his title states, King Sejong the Great is a highly honored person even today. Here was how his birth anniversary was celebrated in 2012:

modern day celebration of king sejong's birthday _2012

A celebration of the 615th anniversary of the birth of King Sejong took place on May 12 and 13 in Gyeongbokgung Palace (photo courtesy of the National Gugak Center). http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/Culture/view?articleId=100378

This year 2014 marks the inauguration of  an autonomous city named after him:

Sejong Metropolitan Autonomous City _map's caption

The map’s caption. This enlarges when clicked on.

From the article where the map above is found it reads:

“The Government Complex Sejong is the new home for 4,888 civil servants from ten central government organizations: the ministries of culture, sports and tourism; trade, industry and energy; health and welfare; employment and labor; and, patriots and veterans affairs. The 17-day move takes place from December 13 to 29. With this phase of moving, the total number of civil servants in the new government complex has reached about 10,000 and covers 31 organizations. So far, ten out of the total 17 central government organizations have moved to the Government Complex-Sejong, with state-funded research institutes having started the move in 2011. The shift to the new administrative city now being almost complete, the government’s new era at the Government Complex-Sejong is in full effect. “

There also is a Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, http://www.sejongpac.or.kr/eng/main/main.asp . It holds Asia’s largest pipe organ.

There is a movement for promoting the Korean language, undertaken by the King Sejong Institute.

An image-search on King Sejong the Great yields results that include a monument to him, a royal portrait done in the authentic style, and a poster of another drama based on his life. The king is usually shown wearing his robe, called the dragon robe, of a specific red hue. Even his official portrait has to have this specificity, a fact I learned from Painter of the Wind, which is another historical drama based on the lives of two of the best painters in the kingdom during Yi San’s reign (Yisan = Lee San) 🙂

King Sejong the Great _representations

Tree With Deep Roots, both the novel and the drama, incorporate much fiction. They are not factual authorities. This post deals with the drama and is from a perspective after almost a year of having watched it. This perspective is of a particular Asian who has not read the novel, does not know the languages and scripts of China and Korea, has not studied Confucianism, Buddhism, and Korea itself, and who has not been there, yet. Please excuse the deficiencies and the obvious delight over this particular film production.

Part I.   The king’s personal struggle against the ugliness of violence starts when as a child he accidentally discovers that his father is a ruthless ruler. He did so after having read an essay in a scholars’ exam. The examinee is the young son, not much older than him, of the person representing the main opposition to his father’s rule. He then meets this young scholar and does a verbal sparring with him. The naive Lee Do seemed to have been defeated in this encounter, leading him to be in the company of this boy, actually the future Bonwon (Main Root), as they witness one of the ways that Lee Do’s father employ in order to maintain his power. In this instance the violence is against the future Bonwon’s person and family itself.

The picture galleries zoom in when clicked on.

 

Part II.  Lee Do ascends to the throne as a young man, at an age when he does not yet have the adult men’s facial hair, the one that easily marks eunuchs, who do not have such. His father the former king, King Lee Bang-won (King Taejong), still holds power in every sense of the word. As such, Lee Do is king only in garb and name. His days are spent by himself, thinking and studying, away from the company that his father keeps. His encounters with his father is always tense because his father disapproves of his naivete.

Ministers stand before the king’s throne. But the kingdom is run by his father the former king, the one seated to the side of him in dark royal robes.

His favorite activity whenever he experiences fear due to his father is sudoku. In his massive personal/private study hall he has a giant 33 x 33 board on the floor, one that he has been trying to solve for some time now. As Muhyul enters the hall we see him passing by solved sudoku in increasing sizes, the biggest one visible is at the further right of the king who has his back turned to everyone as he figures out the puzzle on paper. All his attendants are palace maids. They are the movers of the blocks and the calculators, using the abacus. Later is father comes in and mocks the puzzle on hand, calling it the Devil Defensive Formation due to how it can engage the one who tries to solve it as if possessed by a demon. His father destroyed a 3 x 3 formation to show him his own solution to that pattern. It is to put only the value 1 at the center. Somehow this idea, along with another one that comes in later, enabled him to solve the 33 x 33.

His father constantly hopes and entices him through subtle psychological wars to engage in the wielding of power the way he does it. Lee Do refuses him until his death bed, even when his father keeps on insisting that his reigning of this power, keeping it in check with his will, will eventually “rot” inside him and “poison” him. This struggle against the wielding of power, against the wanton use of might, stays with Lee Do until his adult years.

A major psychological war between them took place on the night of the slaughter of prisoners, who are mostly household slaves of the young king Lee Do’s father-in-law (i.e., they are of the queen’s household), due to political machinations. This is in episode 2. Lee Do for the first time unknowingly shows his father that he is wise enough to figure out where to tap power from. This was a very engaging scene involving extreme emotions: disdain, fear, resignation, anger, pain, panic, and overall tension that could draw blood any moment. Lee Do’s winning move was found in his personal bodyguard, Muhyul (Moohyul). Lee Do thought that he had lost in this battle but in fact because of his lightning decision to engage Muhyul his father is now beginning to see him with new eyes. The direct point of contention, the root of the argument, was that Lee Bang-won wanted to kill an escaped slave’s son, a young boy, whom Lee Do has protected by hiding him in a shed nearby. Lee Do simply refuses to give up this boy (who will grow up to be the adult Kang Chae-yoon, portrayed by Mr. Jang Hyuk), and at that time a seemingly petty exercise on his part as the protector of the common people but nevertheless he’s determined to see it through against his father’s all-might.

Here next is an evolution in pictures of how Lee Do changed from a nervous adolescent into one who now carries a veiled threat to his father’s power, but in a dissimilar manner. As Lee Do steps into the soldiers’ target training area the powerful part of the longish soundtrack My Way plays. His father himself gives the order to shoot. The soldiers obey their commander despite their nervousness. The activity is an extreme insult to the young king, one which in ordinary circumstances would call for instant death. Lee Do knows, despite his understandable fear, that due to political reasons his father would not have the arrows be aimed at him, as well as he knows of the dexterity of the soldiers to not have any accidentally hit him. The greater fear that he has to face is therefore the one of him finally stepping out of the shadows and have it spelled out to his father that finally he knows what to do, and that he intends to do it. He offset his father in this encounter when he answered resolutely that from now on he would do things his own way. This final encounter between them came about when his father presented him with a no-win puzzle, with his life at stake. He was able to solve it by radically thinking outside of the box, literally and figuratively (there’s another picture gallery on this, after the one below). He interpreted Lee Bang-won’s puzzle in an unexpected manner, one that Lee Bang-won himself gave the clue to. Thus, his latent insightfulness was unveiled before his father’s eyes. He and his father downplay this potential, that is him, until the former king dies. Although Lee Bang-won never won in any of their ideas-parrying sessions, still Lee Do fulfills his promise of “humility”. He went on to build his Jip-hyun-jun, a hall for studying among fellow scholars, since he has resolved to wait it out and prepare the field for the time when his father is no more, when he at last becomes his own person as the people’s king.

That crucial encounter with his father was the result of him finally having solved the 33 x 33 sudoku puzzle. He has figured out a way to enable him to solve any sudoku game, of any size. Instead of just concentrating on the enclosed square space he expanded the area, making a bigger square that encloses the original one. With all the figures in place now, corresponding blocks are then inserted into appropriate places, back into the original square-area. Voila. All columns, rows, and diagonals add up to the same figure.

 

Part III.  King Lee Do’s reign is a triumph against the seduction of power. He is shown as a superb scholar with radical perspectives. As such he has to work things out away from the acidity of the kingdom’s conservative mainstream scholars. He is introspective, careful, systematic, patient, persevering. These few faces of the young and the adult King Lee Do speak of this personality. Adulthood has brought him self-confidence and openness in his interpersonal relationships. But his pensiveness and naivete remained with him. As time goes by the passion with which he pursues things for his people is of similar, if not slightly less, intensity to the one he subjects his own self to, in self-criticism, throughout the years that he, stage after stage, works out his plans. This group of pictures may be redundant for this post but still I include them because I admire this character, Lee Do, in this drama. He’s the reason why I gave up things today just to be able to do put this all up. It is also because of him that I was able to try making a picture gallery, here in this post for the first time. If not for him I wouldn’t have found out about the two great actors featured here, Mr. Han Suk-kyu as the adult king and Mr. Song Joong-ki as the young king, plus the others who also made the story adaptation great. [This particular picture gallery does not zoom in when clicked on, but a slideshow of them follows beneath.]

Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (1) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (1) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (2) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (3) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (4) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (5) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (6) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (7) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (8) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (9) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (10) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (11) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (12) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (13) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (14) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (15) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (16) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (17) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (18) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (19) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (20) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (21) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (22)

 

 

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[12 April 2014 addition]

It is timely that I am now in Episode 18 of re-watching the drama. Without taking note of the specifics, the points being made clear now are of the promulgation of the king’s letters. The antagonists think of it as a life-and-death situation. They oppose the enabling of the commoners’ literacy because this would take power away from the aristocrats. This, they say, will cause the kingdom to collapse. King Lee Do thinks otherwise. He mobilizes his allies, both overt and covert, against an enemy the capability of which matches his.

I anticipate that by the time I get through this episode, and most likely the next as well, I would have arrived at the heart of all the arguments. Most likely I would recall why I got attached to Lee Do’s story this strong, why I thought that he’s radical as well as credible, not just a revered icon but a real human, and why I fell for him 🙂 I have a feeling that these two episodes need a separate longish post as well 😛

Here now are those whom I call as composing King Lee Do’s Machinery, and a tiny glimpse of the “antis”. The whole story works with intersections among the characters. What I have here, for now, is the simplest of delineations. The other characters who are as crucial to the entire movement I will have to leave off until the next part:

 

This part is about the king, Ddolbok and Soyi, plus the king’s self-deliberation scenes with his younger self. ___________ : [I pressed enter here before uploading the pictures]

 

This part shows the relationships between the main protagonists and antagonists. ———- ?

 

This part shows the cast _________ :

 

This part shows related discoveries ____________ :

 

The main trigger as to why I was encouraged to make this longish post was a modelling picture of Song Joong Ki that I saw. When I noticed that he, too, had make-up on I was reminded of how make-up is basic to show business/entertainment, both then and now. Not even Song Joong Ki is spared of it despite his clear skin. I was just at first looking at that picture of his, marveling at the make-up he has on, and suddenly had to recall to myself when and how did I notice that he is not just a face but a talented artist, too. So I thought that instead of just commenting at his looks why not talk about the drama where I first admired the way he projected a character, that of young King Lee Do side by side with a respected veteran, Mr. Han Suk-kyu. So here are just a few other faces of Mr. Song Joong-ki, including that one where I noticed the make-up on him. My top favorites here are, of course, the ones where he just poses as himself, the common citizen who is known by the name Song Joong-ki in the glamour world. [The original owners have the credit to these pictures).

By the way, it’s not only the male celebrities who patronize make-up in South Korea, and in other countries as well. In South Korea the qualification for employment, which involves fierce competition, is assumed to be taking into consideration the way a person fixes his face (i.e., equally with men & women). Somehow it’s a manifestation of the drive to excellence. But you know how the business world is… push push push … treating assets, living and inanimate, all alike …

 

 

..

Baby Gook in Episode 16

[updated April 5, 2014 & includes until episode 21]

Happy weekend, everyone 🙂 It’s a good noon now where I am. I’m supposed to be doing my homework. I’d like to first put baby Gook of the ongoing South Korean medical-romantic-comedy drama Emergency Couple in my agenda. By episode 16 I don’t see him cry anymore. I appreciate how everyone around him takes care not to stress him out, most especially his daddy Kwangsoo in the story, the one who holds him most of the time in the scenes.

There are previous episodes where I was so disturbed as I saw him cry. Are babies filmed just when they are crying naturally, because they do cry normally, or do the adults around do something to make him cry? I have no answer to this question. What I do know is that I have to speak out against the taking advantage of pure innocence for the sake of consumer entertainment this is a general statement, and I’m not attacking this drama. I am a fan of this drama. ❤ Peace.

I love the way baby Gook makes me feel all peaceful and rejoicing whenever I see him on screen. I always pay attention whenever he’s on. I share with you some pictures I got while I was checking on his facial expressions (clicking on any plays the gallery/ enlarges the thumbnail) :

There, see? It’s a bit distressful scene for him, actually, because of the loud voice that Jin Hee’s younger sister uses in expressing to their mom how angry she is over the way Chang Min’s mom keeps being nasty to Jin Hee. In order not to alarm baby Gook daddy Kwangsoo rocks him gently and cuddles him close and safe.

I’m appreciative to the many baby Gook fans who share shots of him on the net. I have saved some of their uploaded captures on the previous episodes because I want to treasure the way baby Gook has brought me another reason to claim that life is beautiful. I put them here in turn in one page to share with other baby Gook fans. I notice that many are searching for information on him but since I’m not really happy that babies are “working” in this manner then I won’t add more to the information about him. I’ll just share these few pictures of his and that’s that. I wish for baby Gook and the likes of him, child actors/actresses around the world, to grow up and lead a life where they are free to move around, where they are not pressured to conform to a voiceless and choice-less life.

And speaking of choices, I’m happy to read from somewhere that Mr. Lee Pil-mo, the actor for the character of ER Chief Resident Dr. Gook, acts because he loves to do it, and not because of fame or money. Ah, I’m happy for him.

Here are baby Gooki’s other pictures now (again, many thanks to those who originally uploaded them) :

I like both Chang Min and Dr. Gook so I don’t mind too much about the ending for Jin Hee. I admire Jin Hee and her family, how supportive they are of one another despite the never-ending crises. Beyond my appreciation for the successful result of so much hard work by everyone involved in the making of this series, what I’m interested in are the statements that this drama can speak to me about living life with integrity. 🙂 Be healthy, everyone. Real life is the one outside the screen. Don’t get addicted to it. 🙂 And don’t forget what Antoine de Saint-Exupery said: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye. ❤ Kaja!

[note added 27March2014]:

A post directly related to this one, in case you’re interested, would be my Dear Actor/Actress, I Respect You. Kumapsumida. Also, this post was created because of a comment that I made in a previous post, about baby Gooki crying, here.

by episode 18, a baby Gooki looking  ready to sleep comes out with daddy Kwangsoo who joins mom’s and aunt’s conversation … and he doesn’t care much about the drama going on among his elders because there’s something more interesting outside the camera’s range … looking forward to seeing Chang Min hold you next episode, baby Gooki … good night …

 

🙂 Episode 19 next, Baby Gooki visits Uncle Chang Min, in Pictures

(they do not enlarge anymore) 🙂

baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19a baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19b baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19c baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19d baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19e baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19f baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19g baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19h baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19i baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19j baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19k   baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19l baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19m baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19n baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19o baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19p baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19q baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19r baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19s baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19t baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19u baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19v baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19w baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19x

baby Gooki pats uncle Chang Min’s hand as he is at last tucked into bed ❤ … babies are so sensitive and so responsive to stimuli … they upload gazillions of information all the time … good night baby Gooki ❤

[ I wonder what was happening while baby Gooki was crying … it wasn’t a frightened cry, it was more of like impatience, the usual sound babies give out when they want something asap 🙂 … I’m sure Choi Jin Hyuk enjoyed this episode 😉 ]

Two interns researching baby formula on the net. Pretty soon baby Gooki will know how to do that, too. click to enlarge

Two interns researching baby formula on the net. Pretty soon baby Gook will know how to do that, too. 😉 click on to enlarge

 … in Episode 20 next …baby Gooki is of course too young to understand the girl talk but he looks as if he senses that there’s something special going on 😉 just please click on any to zoom in a bit

 

 

. . . and by episode 21, the final episode, baby Gooki appears only at the end, during the credits roll, in a no-good scene taken that time he first came home to the family house … Auntie Jin-hee was a bit shocked at the happenings and as she was speaking baby Gooki suddenly cried, which made Jihyo horrified at what she had done to the baby ❤ … here …

no-good scene where Jihyo is horrified that baby Gook cries because of her tone of speaking

🙂 an NG scene, shown at the end of episode 21 (the final episode)

… now that I’m done watching it …

❤ then I say Choi Jin-hyuk has a very cool singing voice and a killer smile … Lee Pil-mo is a more respectable doctor here as Gook Chun-soo compared to his smart playboy pediatrician Song Dae-pung at My Too Perfect Sons … Jihyo as Nurse Da-in in Mandate of Heaven is more dignified than the intern that she is here … Jinhee is a bit like Jang-geum (Jewel in the Palace) because they both started with making healthy food and then became doctors … okay, I count this now as among my “comfort dramas”, too 😀 … in episode 20, Changmin’s advise to Kwangsoo: never win in an argument with your wife, because that’s how nature has made them … Jinhee’s advise to Jin-ae: men are simple creatures, so just focus on his trait that you like and don’t fret over the bad ones … !yep! makes sense! 😉

nicest characters: Ah-reum, Yong-gyu (and cute love story, too)

❤ coolest characters: Dr. Shim Ji-hye, Kim Gwang-soo (Kwangsoo)

 

❤ prettiest women: the mothers of Changmin and Jinhee

❤ my most admirable character: Changmin’s father

❤ OST to fall for: Choi Jin-hyuk’s Scent of a Flower that’s nearly acapella…

[added April 6:  …While I was listening to him singing Should I Say My Love To Her Again? at the end of episode 14 I suddenly came to a point-of-no-return feeling, and so the first time I listened to Choi Jin-hyuk sing is actually a life-marker for me — but the why of this would need a whole post, for next time. Halfway through that song his Scent of a Flower plays, and I thought that I haven’t heard a song as lovely as that for such a long time already — eherm, The King’s Daughter Su Baek Hyang‘s main OST is next in loveliness* 😉 — in this way I became attached to the timbre of his voice. About the time I finished the April 5 update to this post I was then listening to my stock of music and the 추노 OST = Chuno OST called 낙인 = nag-in = Stigma plays. I checked who the singer is, because I thought that the vocal timbre is similar to Choi Jin-hyuk’s. Could it be him? I don’t even know yet if he’s a professional singer, too. im jae bum Well, I saw that the song’s interpreter is 임재범 = 任載範 = imjaebeom or Im Jae Bum or Lim Jae-bum or Yim Jae-bum or Yim Jae Beom or Yim Jae beum. I looked for information on him and found out that he’s impressive, as well as very good-looking. His gorgeous longish hair is now among the most recent ones I fell for, like Yi Gwak’s (Jung Woo Sung in The Restless) and Koichi’s (Oguri Shun in The Woodsman and the Rain). Goodness. It seems that I have Choi Jin-hyuk to thank for at my having discovered one of the best singers anywhere! The timbre of their voices do sound similar. Oh, well, I don’t know that many Korean singers so I’m not an authority here. Still, when I get to make that point-of-no-return post I would have already listened to both Choi Jin-hyuk’s and Yim Jae-bum’s songs. I would certainly include pictures of these heads that have gorgeous tresses, including Choi Jin-hyuk’s if I can find one, and!… including No Min-woo‘s, who’s somebody I’ve always wanted to find out more about ever since his silent role in A Frozen Flower plus that I’ve recently discovered that he’s one good musician, too. Ayeee! Happy Sunday, everyone. Thanks for reading. Kamsahamnida ❤ halong! = ingat! = take care! 🙂

*… ooops … I have to change my mind, because I’m listening to it right now and I am moved by it in just the same way as when I first heard it 🙂 I don’t think I can compare them because they’re of different genres … so I say that they’re as lovely to me, in fact I like the three versions of that folktale song that is Su Baek Hyang’s mom’s favorite, which includes the acapella that Solnan did as she was secretly saying goodbye to Myeongnong If I can find more about that song then I’d be ready to compose a post about Su Baek Hyang and her two lovely fathers … ciao for now …

unforgettable, Dr. Gook

. ❤

. ❤

My Appreciation for Some Film/Drama Artists and Their Work

yisan poster

Yisan

This post is complementary to the post Dear Actor/Actress, I Respect You. This is a collection of my personal expressions of appreciation for some of the characters/artists and movies/‘dramas’ (here for now mostly South Korean) in the past year or so that I’ve started to turn to them for my vicarious learning-of-the-wider-world, and for entertainment, too. The fonts in pink are links to other posts in this blog. ❤

There has already been numerous “stories” I’ve wanted to speak about in this blog, to share my pleasure in them — also Japanese, Chinese/Hong Kong, Taiwanese, Filipino — but there isn’t time enough. In the mean time I decided to little by little pool some my thoughts related to them and post them here in order to reaffirm and say more of my appreciation for the hard work put in by writers, directors, staff, artists, and everyone who has put their sincerity in producing such quality work.

This little post of mine is a way of saying a BIG THANK YOU to the artists/musicians and visionaries working with the film industry who have contributed to the going-round-of-the-world, in the positive way, wherever they are and however they are doing in life now.

Every time I see a “film” I cannot help but be emotionally affected anew by the money-side of the business, just barely able to imagine for myself the financial difficulties that many of the workers/artists involved are experiencing. One “big” example that has made me very sad is the event involving the director of Taewangsasingi ( = The Legend, or The Story of the First King’s Four Gods). With that event this drama has become more valuable to me. Many a time has Taewansasingi lifted my spirits, what with the fantastic soundtracks by the superb Mr. Joe Hisaishi.

Jang-geum and her adoptive father Dukgu

(Dae Jang-Geum = Jewel in the Palace) Jang-geum and her Dukgu ahjussi (“uncle”)

I feel bad that “stories” and story-making is dealt with around the world like just any other mass-produced commodity. People keep imbibing these products, films and dramas, because the stories of our lives and the stories we see/hear about talk to each other. These stories are us, our lives (Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes has THE BOOK on this: Women Who Run With the Wolves). The way that greed takes advantage of our need for stories is one ugly reality. My wish for us all story-lovers is to be of help in propagating the pro-biotics, the good germs, the life-supporting elements that we pick up from these stories and anything associated in their making, and to identify those that kill the heart and so be able to deny their power in our lives.

[I hope to add more thoughts here, and pictures also, when I can have the time. Some pictures here enlarge when clicked on. Thank you to the original owners, the makers of these films. ❤ ]

 

Tree_With_Deep_Roots  (2-3).mp4_snapshot_17.00_[2013.10.16_23.39.51]

a young King Lee Do solves a giant sudoku

for:  Tree With Deep Roots

I’ve seen enough sageuk and I say this is among the top.

a young King Lee Do

young King Lee Do (Song Joong-ki)

It fills the sensibilities much more than it pulls at the heartstrings. I am grateful to those who were involved in making such a valuable treasure — I don’t care if it’s just mostly fiction. What matters is that it talks about humanity and is a champion of compassion, openness, and hope. The cinematography + music is refreshing, too. Congratulations to all who have worked hard on it, and it’s not only the actors/actresses but are also all those myriads of people not seen on screen. Banzai! Ganbei! Salud! Prost! Mabuhay! Long live 뿌리깊은 나무 ! Hooray!

radical King Lee Do

the adult King Lee Do

 ⇐for:  Han Suk-kyu

Sir, I fell in love with your King Lee Do / Sejong in Deep Rooted Tree ( = Tree with Deep Roots). I’m so inspired by the character you projected. Though he had much sorrow he was also surrounded by superb people, his friends. I said to myself, wow, a king who makes an impossible dream come true together with friends who in turn love him not as a king but as a person, not the least his son the prince. It’s out of this world yet I find it all realistic. I look forward to seeing more of you on screen, sir. I wish you the best, and much happiness.

Chuno_24 CLOSURE 23

Jang Hyuk as Dae-Gil in Chuno

 

for:  Jang Hyuk⇒

At first I thought you were just some show-off actor when I first saw you in Chuno. But seeing you in Tree with Deep Roots raised my respect for you into unprecedented heights.   🙂    Thank you for putting your heart into your work, Mr. Jang Hyuk. May the many people you inspire by the characters you play be blessings to you as well. I wish you the best.

 

Muhyul decides for Lee Do

Muhyul decides for Lee Do

for:  Cho Jin-Woong

I already admired Mr. Cho Jin Woong when I saw him in Chuno, with the role of an upright soldier ordered by his direct superior to betray the same. When I saw him again in Deep Rooted Tree in a yet another heroic role I decided that I’d like to watch more of his movies/dramas. Though all the actors/actresses in Deep Rooted Tree are superb, and I really fell in love with the king, !and I’m awed by the storyline, but I think Moohyul is among the most regal sageuk personas I have come across. Every time Moohyul appears on screen I would think ‘handsome’, ‘elegant’, ‘proper’, and he’s the best dressed in the drama, too. However, it’s his tiny facial expressions that qualify him as human enough to be the king’s buddy == their teamwork/friendship is impressive … (Sir, I wish you happiness in your work. Salud!)

 

for:  Kim Sung-hyun

… awesome character in Tree With Deep Roots  (as legendary mercenary Kareupaeyi) … wish you all the best!

 

for:  Painter of the Wind

Dan Won & Hye Won paint a mural

 Dan Won teaches Hye Won how to do a mural

 DanWon-HyeWon = the best love story. It’s comparable to the best of love stories there is out there. I believe it’s due largely to the very authentic acting. Their body language speak volumes and the music (Song of the Wind), especially in Episode 4 when they were doing that mural, is smack on the mood. I found myself wishing for a Sonsaengnim like Kim Hong Do  🙂   There’s so much to see and hear (wow lots of music) in here. 20 episodes is too short for me  🙂   I’d have loved to see Dan Won and Hye Won work together for a loooong time, make beautiful art together, make up for lost time, enjoy their special relationship with the king. They still have so much to learn from each other. I love it that their personalities match, and that’s why they always have fun when they’re together, and they understand each other without too much words. So much symbolism and parallelisms.. and I also love the art school guys’ support for Yun Bok and Sonsaengnim. I must mention Hyung/Orabeoni Young Bok as an ideal bff, and even lover…he’s the sweetest… Congratulations to the author, writer, artists/musicians, and directors for a story that will live on. I’m so happy for all the staff/workers and actors/actresses that were involved in this production — you’ve accomplished something very valuable and relevant…I’ve been so touched by its gravity and respect for the audience…thank you very much…I wish you all the best…blessings.

Portrait_of_a_Beauty _fireflies Yunbok & Kangmu

fireflies Yunbok & Kangmu, in Portrait of a Beauty

for:  Portrait of a Beauty  (added 20Feb2014. This film was based on the same novel as Painter of the Wind, above, was. The story is, of course, treated differently here, but is just as haunting.)

Is the movie good? Yes. Is it worth discussing? Yes. Would adolescents understand it? No (they will flounder among the themes; the story’s sense will simply pass over their heads). Was it made just to make money? No. Is it credible? Yes. Where do the depths lie? 1) In Kim Hong-do’s confession of how he failed his student. 2) In Yun-bok’s integrity, in expressing into paper the contents of his/her mind and heart with full honesty. 3) In the film’s reliance on visuals rather than on verbal elaborations. 4) In showcasing the contents of a human’s heart: jealousy, greed, violence, generosity, openness, frailty, trust, courage, lasciviousness… How does the entire film strike you? It’s a fusion of a novel-storytelling (I feel like I’m watching in front of my eyes the words that I read that sound in my head) and a painting (I will never forget the golden sheen of the lovers’ skins, and the general lighting with which they were encased inside that building as they laughed/glowed in each others’ company) and an anthropological study (of a society where females have very limited range of freedom plus that they exist to cater to the needs of the males, where the males were like demi-gods, where royalty is as distant as the moon, where societal class was the measure of a person’s worth). What is the over-all mood? It has a cadence with which one won’t be disillusioned into expecting a happily-ever-after ending. One sits in front of the screen with gravity. For me, I was constantly feeling watchful, because of the constant threat of Yun-bok being uncovered. Then I felt protective of the love between Yun-bok and Kang-mu, where Kang-mu (by actor Kim Nam-gil) was freed from his class thereby becoming just another man reveling in his love for a woman, and Yun-bok’s true form was uncovered and she became a female just like any other human female. Then I felt disgust over the whole cannot-be-helped situation, in the weakness of the respected teacher, in the arrogance of traditions. If the darkness of the night is the context/environment within which Yun-bok’s art/”beauty” exists, then the fireflies are 1) Yun-bok being able to draw out from within herself and transfer onto paper her perception of life; 2) Yun-bok and Kang-mu’s love, where Kang-mu the mirror-maker is himself the mirror with which Yun-bok saw her real self.

 

Lee Bang-ji, warrior (musa), Ddolbok's teacher (sabunim)

Lee Bang-ji, warrior (musa), Ddolbok’s teacher (sabunim)

for:  Woo Hyeon

Sujini & Ahjussi, drinking buddies

drinking buddies, Sujini & ahjussi (Lee Ji-ah & Woo Hyeon)

Dear Mr. Woo Hyeon, I immediately became your fan the first time I saw you in Taewangsasingi. Now I’ve just seen you in Deep Rooted Tree and your character Lee Bang Ji is among my favorites ever. I’m looking forward to your character in The King and the Clown which I plan to watch next. Please stay healthy and thank you very much. Mabuhay po sila!

 

for:  Kim Sun-Kyung

Ma’am, I saw you first in Taewangsasingi interpreting a very strong character, though regrettably the storyline had to kill Ho Gae’s mom early in the drama. Crime Squad was where I saw you next and I really appreciated the way you incorporated being funny, scary, and cool into the character of a cop who is always ready for action. Crime Squad is among my favorite drama series. I look forward to watching your other roles. I wish you the best in life!

 

Gen. Go & Bason, in Taewangsasingi

Park Jung-hak & Kim Mi-Kyung, as Gen. Go & Bason, in Taewangsasingi

for:  Park Jung-hak

Sir, I really really love your role in The Restless  🙂   It was a superb projection — even as a woman myself I don’t think I could outshine your elegance and finesse in there — and it made me see that you’re among the best actors! I wish you the best, always!

for:  Kim Mi-Kyung

Ma’am, my hats-off to your Ba-Son character (Taewangsasingi), such a far contrast to your Dae Jang Geum (Fugitive of Joseon) … my respect …

 

for:   Crime Squad (Detectives in Trouble)

hungry, Sae-hyuk & Min-joo

hungry after the fall, Sae-hyuk & Min-joo

I rated this drama 100%. I like the personalities/roles of Song Il Guk and Song Ji Hyo here (plus the others in the main cast also). Despite that she calls him ‘Ahjussi’ still Park Se Hyuk and Jo Min Joo are right for each other, they’re funny together, not sticky sweet to each other, each passionate of their respective jobs, supportive of each other, accepted as a close-buddy-pair by everyone around them, and so their ‘romance’ wasn’t a source of ‘stress’ for me. Their bond, and the scenes where they are together, was a ‘comfort zone’ to me all throughout the drama, since the scenes have crimes for base stories. The crime-storylines cannot be underestimated also, especially the last case, on which I really gave my full attention to. I am relieved that Se Hyuk and his team are shown to be competent cops who sincerely care for people, and so for me this itself is the drama’s statement, that evil intentions does not pay. Wow, the actors/actresses here are among the best, including those who played small parts. I salute Mr. Jang Hang-Seon (as Retired Team Leader Kwon) and Mr. Kim Kyu-Cheol (as Jo Sung Tae) for roles that are unforgettable to me. This is among the dramas I am never tired of watching repeatedly, the music is good, there’s always something to laugh about, there are many very important life lessons to be picked up, though I do speed thru some gory scenes (!!ironically I learned a nice Korean phrase from one of them: “jal-hae-sseo-yo”, meaning “Well done!”) The bonding within Se Hyuk’s work team and the hilarity in Min Joo’s workplace also endear this drama to me (thank you Shocking.com!) !Park Se Hyuk and Jo Min Joo! Aja! You’re my favorite pair! Thank you ‘Crime Squad’!

 

for:  Chuno (The Slave Hunters)

Chuno_23_1. yangban-in-disguise converse with slave-rebel 12

Eop-bok

Chuno _Seolhwa (0)

Seolhwa

I’d still say NO NO NO to violence but in this series, notwithstanding, I see balance restored, demons vanquished, hope nurtured. My topmost favorite is the slave Eop Bok.  He’s as subdued as the foundation of a huge edifice, having learned to keep to himself that he used to hunt tigers. Of the females my favorites are the slave Cho Bok-yi (she projects an aura of hopefulness despite her dismal status and she neither looks down on slaves nor envy the nobles — she has an inner joy that shines through her ragged appearance, especially that she’s in love) & the silly entertainer/prostitute Seolhwa (her beauty lies in her “simpleness” and I’m happy that she falls in love with Dae Gil). The fast action-music is super! I’m infatuated with it as much as I am with the hot male leads. On a serious note, this series has been enlightening for me, on the way “slaves” and “nobles” see themselves and the world around them, on the distance of the “gap” between them so much so that it’s difficult for somebody of one class to connect with or to get across to the other. The friendship of the 3 buddies Daegil, Choi & Wangson is really admirable. I’m very glad I decided to watch this one not so much because I was entertained but because I learned much about human beings. My many thanks to all who worked hard in this drama. If you’re a fan of Mr. Jang Hyuk then I heartily recommend Tree with Deep Roots.

 

for:  Lee Han-Wi

Mr. Lee Han Wi is definitely one of my favorites. I’m always glad when I see his face on screen, like having that feeling of coming home. I first saw him in Damo, then in Chuno, then in Freeze, then in War of the Arrows — there’s always something ‘hard’ yet ‘soft’ about his character portrayals. I wish Mr. Lee Han Wi the best, and good health!

 

for:  Damo (The Legendary Policewoman)

Ah, Damo, you broke my heart, then you restored it, then broke it again, then offered to mend it. Millions love you already because of that, so what else can I say?   🙂   You’re one of the best romantic sageuks out there. I wish blessings to all who have been blessed in the struggle to get hold of what your story had to say. The struggles and the triumphs of the 4 main characters (for me they were Yoon, Ohk, Sung Baek, and Soo Myung) was awesome. The supporting cast did not lag behind in prominence, too. I greatly appreciate the presence of Mr. Lim Hyeon Shik in it even for the short time that it was. Ah, Damo, I’m still looking forward to analyzing the movement of your storyline.  🙂 As of now I’d say the Yoon-Ohk, Ohk-Sungbaek, and Sungbaek-Soomyung tandems, as well as the camaraderie in the Left Police Bureau, are worthy of envy. May the good influence of Damo live long!

 

for:  Kwon Oh-Jung

Sir, you’re definitely definitely hot in Damo  🙂   I wish you happiness, salud! [added 19March2014: At last, by Empress Ki episode 36 I got to see the whole of your face and it felt so right. I hope the hairstylists don’t pull your hair down over your face again…]

 

for:  The Restless

Jung Woo Sung _The Restless _2006I watched this movie because of Jung Woo Sung — his eyes mesmerize me. I got a very nice surprise when I saw Mr. Heo Jun Ho in here also — I’ve become a big fan of his since Jumong and so I always think of him as ‘Haemosu’ 🙂 I treasure this movie The Restless because of ‘Haemosu’ PLUS Mr. Park Jung Hak’s portrayal of his role — which is another very nice surprise. What impressed me most here is Ban-Chu’s regality, especially the effect of his hair. However, it’s Yi Gwak’s hair that I fell in love with  🙂   its ‘softness’ complements his eyes. I had a big laugh when somebody asked him of what he ate that made him so tall 🙂 ! The panoramic views, the lush grass, the petals, and the firefly-like lights are delightful…they echo the plot’s insistence that it’s love that changes the world.

 

for:  Ji Jin-Hee

It’s been almost a decade since I first saw you, Mr. Ji Jin Hee, and after so many dramas/sageuks that I’ve been through you remain a big favorite. I watched the movie Paradise because of you and afterwards I found myself so inspired by it. Thank you very much, to you and to everyone involved in its making. Your parents must be very happy to have you, indeed. Please continue to be in projects that will encourage the ordinary everyday person. May God bless you.

 

for:  Lim Hyeon-Shik

Sir, thank you for your portrayals in Dae Jang Geum (as Jang-geum’s Dukgu ahjussi, seen sitting with her at the second topmost picture in this post) and Yisan (the eccentric painter who teaches Songyeon). You’re one of the best! I wish you happiness and health 🙂

 

for:  Seo Beom-Sik     Seo Bum Sik

Just want to say a WARM HELLO to one of my favorite actors ever! Ever since I saw you in Jumong I’ve always looked for you whenever I’m into another sageuk/drama and always am happy whenever your face appears on screen regardless of your role. I wish you all the best, and blessings! [added 19March2014: I knew it! Since you are cast as antagonist to Goryo’s King Wangyu ( in Empress Ki) then most likely the character you play will be killed in battle. I was not wrong. Phew! Well at least I got to see that you’re doing as great as ever…]

 

for:  A Frozen Flower

I’m glad I watched this film. I looked at the struggles of the three main characters. I find it awesome, how they handled it. The three actors did very well, always a tug of war between suppressing or expressing emotions. A Frozen Flower 2008 _posterThe king is frightening, the queen is courageous, Hong Lim is true to himself, wonderful set design and costume, and music. I think the ‘flower’ also refers to the CAPABILITY of the queen and of Hong Lim TO LOVE AS PERSONS, as an individual, that would have remained ‘frozen’ had there been only the king as the object of that love (Hong Lim as lover and the queen as wife). Had it remained so then Hong Lim would not have known passion of the like that he had with the queen. And the queen would not have gotten pregnant (you know what I mean). Unfortunately for the king an un-freezing/thawing/warming happened between the two persons closest to him and, well, he just had to do something to re-freeze it, so to say. I agree with xxxxx, that “the interpretation of the ending will depend on the person.” For me I choose to see it as a happy ending for both the queen and Hong Lim because somehow, given the context vis-a-vis the capability/power of the king, both Hong Lim and the queen evolved into his/her “own person”, they became ‘persons’ and not just ‘bodyguard/subject’ and ‘queen’, and they also came to know how it is to truly/selflessly love another “person”.           

and also:

… yeah I’ve been wondering too about the flower that’s been “frozen” ..

sword dance, A Frozen Flower

sword dance, A Frozen Flower

It does make sense that the queen’s facial expressions have to be “frozen” and yet have to express emotions at the same time, and I think she has done it very well… she has to project coldness and distance because this is what’s expected of her in that setting…
Hong Lim was VERY COURAGEOUS when he sent the honeysuckle tea to her, and again when he gave her the necklace—a mere “servant” does not do that to his queen, because in this setting doing that is like shouting out your love, nevertheless the queen answered when she wore the necklace in public—it was a very safe way of shouting out her love, in which Hong Lim would only be the one to understand the message…

Hong Lim’s sexuality has also become “unfrozen” when he fell in love with the queen… instinctively he just kept mum about it when the king asked him how it was to become a “man” at last— he gave the king an evasive answer to protect all three of them, knowing that the king would be jealous of the queen and he didn’t want her to be a target of such ill-feelings, knowing that the king would be hurt and he didn’t want to betray the king even in that way, and for himself guarding that his newly found wonderful “freedom” isn’t “crushed” at its bud…

A Frozen Flower main cast _Jo In Sung _ Song Ji Hyo _  Joo Jin Mo

Jo In-sung, Song Ji-hyo, & Joo Jin-mo: the main cast having fun promoting their movie

What makes this story unforgettable for me is the portrayal of choices of victims of circumstance. I love it that Hong Lim and the queen did come to the point of being willing to die for each other’s sake—both had nothing at first, but eventually a self-sacrificing love blossomed, became unfrozen. Also, that Hong Lim might have felt betrayed by the king when he was ordered to father the queen’s child—I mean, he might have looked at sex as an expression of deep affection—and in a sense it would have bothered him that the king himself, the object of his affections then, would order him to a “betrayal” (one can’t simply switch affection on and off) …the saving grace is when he sees that the queen is alive, who with his growing baby inside her is the redemption of his castrated state, and so was willing to forgive the dead king, and be reconciled with him at his last breath for old time’s sake…

 

Hong Da-in's Do Mun Jipsanimfor:  Seong Woong

   🙂   if the doctor had not been there I really wished you for Da-in  🙂 but too bad the social stratification didn’t allow you to pursue her affections for you, because I saw that Da-in had a strong attachment to you also   🙂   — in The Fugitive of Joseon (Mandate of Heaven)…  anyway, your Do Mun character is unforgettable to me … I wish you the best!

 

Park Sae Hyuk_Jo Min Joo .Crime Squad. ep12  (6)

Jo Sang-tae under investigation

for:  Kim Kyu-Cheol

Sir, thank you for your Jo Sang-Tae role in Crime Squad … that has touched me, plus that he brought together all the main characters in the drama, at the finale … I’ll always remember your poignant scene with Jo Min-joo in front of her house   🙂   I wish you good health and the best!

 

for:  Jang Hang-Seon

Sir, I’ve seen you only twice — Taewangsasingi and Crime Squad — but you’re already one of my favorites   🙂   Please stay healthy for a long long time … !Ganbei!

 

for:  Strongest Chil Woo (Chilwu, the Mighty)Chil Woo ending

?who cares about the criteria of a “good” drama? For me this one’s so lovable with or without Eric and I’m counting it as among my favorites   🙂 The cast is super, many of my favorite actors/actresses are here. Even though for several their parts are small, still I will treasure this drama because of them. Personally I feel like for the 20 episodes I’m seeing the personality of Eric in drama form: serious depth and bursts of silliness   🙂

 

for:  A Werewolf Boy

This film is so human. I’d score it more than 100% if I could. It doesn’t matter that I had to depend on the translation. It’s not the fantasy or the scientific possibility part that attached me to this film but it’s the way the folks involved handled the situation. The mother, the neighbors, and the children are simply lovely people. Even a non-Korean like me can clearly appreciate that. This question plays in my head about it: what-if-it’s-true? If it’s indeed true then the story is simply beautiful, as beautiful as the lush garden that Chul-soo keeps in his home.

 

for:  Sungkyunkwan Scandal

Gul-oh!ahahaha umuulan ng kagwapuhan! ( = a raining of handsomeness)  🙂 this drama is so student-life, albeit set in sexist Joseon era, but that’s just how it was  🙂 I’ve had lots of laughs in here, it’s so entertaining as long as one can overlook the usual dragging dialogues. I’m in Lesson 7 now and I’m not gonna breathe until I finish this one, and then I’m gonna watch it again over vacation for in-depth analysis  !students rock!  🙂

 

for:   Tajomaru

It’s a fairytale — sort of, where the protagonists and antagonists keep switching. Beautiful scenic shots. Lovely lovely costumes. There’s tragedy all throughout but I like the ending, because it makes sense and it sets Naomitsu free from a horrible life under the shogun. I’m currently infatuated with Oguri Shun so any film that has him I’d definitely “like”.  🙂

 

for:  The Woodsman and the Rain

I have to write it in capitals: Oguri and the Woodsman _seatsTHIS IS A VERY GOOD MOVIE. This is my most memorable Oguri Shun character because this is where I first saw him and immediately I warmed up to him. Of course, Mr. Yakusho Koji is in his usual best. This movie is warm-hearted, funny, quirky, uncluttered, cozy to the heart. It reminds me of woodblock prints, seemingly monotonous but is actually rich and detailed if only one looks close enough. I’ve seen many other Oguri Shun characters after this but I love him most in here — and with his natural unruly hair! This is about family, friendships, authentic rural neighborliness, and film-making, too. If you love people, and if you also like anything Japanese, then this film is a treasure.

———————————————

A Sleeping Forest _poster

A Sleeping Forest

… that’s it for now … … I’d love to talk next of Kaneshiro Takeshi (Golden Bowl, & more), Kimura Takuya (A Sleeping Forest, & more), Eita (Toad’s Oil), Secretly Greatly, Ahjussi, Jun Matsumoto (Smile), The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail, Seven Samurai, Zatoichi (2003 film, especially on the geisha siblings and The Stripes tap dance at the end), Sakuran, Petal Dance, …  … currently re-enjoying the soundtracks of Return of the Condor Heroes 2006 … currently trying to watch Gu Am Heo Joon and Su Baek Hyang (theme song here is lovely) whenever I can … had just sped through the jewel Water Bloom and I highly recommend this old drama to anyone who loves the simple things in life or anything Korean or has Song Il Guk in it … set to watch old Keanu Reeves films plus his two newest, Man of Taichi and 47 Ronin  …

  … really want to find the time to make a nice post featuring Park Sae-hyuk, Jo Min-joo, Jumong, and Ye Soya  

  ♥

  ♥

  ♥ —————————————-

 

added 9January2014:

for:  Kisaragi

Kisaragi _posterAs usual, I wasn’t surprised at how this film ran, after watching several Japanese films already. It’s simplicity in complexity and complexity in simplicity, a constant harmonious motion from one point to the next, so artful, so tasteful, so subdued and successful in highlighting where it should — and great acting! I’d say the story borders on the absurd, but that’s storytelling for you. I was glued to the screen without meaning to, because I was skeptical at first and thought that I’d fast-forward. But then it just happened that didn’t realize I was mesmerized until the film’s almost over. If you’re an Oguri Shun fan it’s a must-watch. The heart of the story, though, is very realistic and should be taken with respect and gravity. It’s a statement on the personal lives of the faces in the entertainment industry.

 

added 16Feb2014:

for:  King’s Daughter, Su Baek-hyang

… (by Episode 89 –> ) … waaa! Kuchon dies! I don’t like this! waaa!

Kuchon says farewell to step-daughter Solnan

Kuchon says farewell to step-daughter Solnan

I really can’t comprehend how Solhi turns out like that when her parents were like angels. Solnan-Kuchon is the best step-father-daughter relationship I’ve ever encountered on screen. However, it’s the king and Jinmu that I worry most about, and on what effect it will be on Myongnong when he finds out that it’s for his and his father’s sakes that the king did all of these…I laughed loudly when I read somewhere that her blood boils whenever she sees Solhi on screen. Mine simmers. It’s unbelievable how twistedly selfish this character is. I really have no sympathy for her. Unlike many other sageuk antagonists, this spoiled brat has no excuse at all for her behavior. She’s just fortunate that Kuchon has not abandoned her, ever since then, despite seeing through her lies. In the real world there are indeed kids who end up that way despite being born in a nice and caring family. So, she better not have her cake and eat it, too, because I’m rooting for the happy endings for the nice people around her, including Jinmu. Would it be too much to hope that Solhi finds the right path somehow? Poor, poor, girl. She missed the opportunity of being good friends with one of the nicest queens I’ve seen on sageuk-land! As for Solnan and the nice prince, I really really wish for your happinesses 🙂 Please, let them end up together. [added 19March2014:  !ek! the smileys are now pudgy little faces 🙂 so kawaii! ah, I just finished the 108th episode, the final. well, what can I say of the ending?:everything was put into their places. it felt like I have just done reading a legend that will give me sweet dreams. I had thought that the way Solhi was resolved is rather the easiest way out. But then again I remember that in our class discussion in school me and my classmates rather saw that us humans actually have no free choices. It’s because there are factors affecting our behaviors of which we are not aware of, of which we have no control over. Still, I’d say Solhi had it really easy, lucky girl. But then if love is at work no power can go against it. subaekhyang. centennial fragrance. lovely story ❤ ❤ ❤ <– see I was right heheh the hearts are now available! ❤ nice WordPress, thanks 🙂

 

 

a very scared heir to the Yuan empire

a very scared heir to the Yuan empire

Anna taste-tests Bongi & Dong-hae's recipe

Anna taste-tests Bongi & Dong-hae’s recipe

for: Ji Chang-wook

hah… “Bakit ngayon ka lang dumating sa buhay ko?” ( = “Why is it that you’ve come into my life only just now?”, and it’s a nice song, too)  ahh… Ji Chang-wook-ssi, I like you now despite of your very pretty face 🙂 Baek Dong-soo didn’t convince me then; it’s this scared-ly Yuan emperor that did it, this adorably pale awkward spoilt rich kid, enough to make me go through Dong-hae’s life (Smile, Dong-hae) while waiting for the rest of the episodes (of Empress Ki), enough to make it fine for me that Sungnyang does not end up with the gorgeous Goryo king …

Dong-hae, Anna, & Bongi's family

Dong-hae, Anna, & Bongi’s family

 Bild 2014-07-06_14-07_003Mr. Ji Chang-wook, I wish you the strength to choose film-roles that will provide positive inspiration for the everyday person on the street, especially the youth 🙂 may you prosper in your choices and plans whatever they may be in the future … banzai! [Please see also about My Too Perfect Sons, below, after a bit of scrolling… thanks ❤ ]

 

 

Park Ki Woong _& Secretly Greatly co-stars

Secretly & Greatly co-stars

added 25Feb2014:

for:  Park Ki Woong

Hello Mr. Park, your character in Chuno Park Ki Woong _in Chunomade me think “Just another wannabe actor taking advantage of his good looks” because appearing as a villain like that shouldn’t be such a difficult job, and I especially detested how that character betrayed my favorite Eop Bok. But then I saw you as among the good guys in Secretly Greatly, in a subtle-multiple-layer character that you did very easily despite your pretty face, and so I thought I judged your face rather harshly. I am very sorry, Mr. Park. 🙂 Peace. I’m looking forward to appreciating your work again in Gaksital Park Ki Woong _sweetand I’m now preparing my heart and my mind before watching it, knowing that I will get involved in the story and I will not escape its effects on me 🙂 Mr. Park, please remain the sweet guy that I have found out you to be.Secretly and Greatly Kamsahamnida 🙂

 

… I will find time to write about Secretly and Greatly … I need to find a way to salvage it from the glaring violence that occupies much of its time … [added 23June2014]

 

 

added 2March2014:Donnie Yen - Tang Wei - Wu Xia - 2011

for:  Wu Xia (Dragon)  

… this 2011 movie, Wu Xia (or Dragon), says it is neither the past nor appearances nor parentage nor affiliation that makes a man … it has the stars Kaneshiro Takeshi, Tang Wei, and Donnie Yen set against the backdrop of an obscure Chinese village where life is simple and sweet … it features two kinds of family life: one is full of love and peace, the other is as gruesome as hell … Kaneshiro Takeshi _Wu Xia poster 2011if you plan to watch this movie then it’s best to find time for it because it deserves an undivided attention … it’s like a dish that has been richly flavored by subtle additions of an array of condiments and spices … what one can take out from it depends on how much of life one has already come across … it is neither shallow nor simply entertaining, because it remains as something to be pondered about long after you’ve seen it … this poster featuring Kaneshiro Takeshi’s face says the truth about it …

 

added 4March2014:

for: Emergency Couple

Baby Gooki

 (as of episode 11 15) !ahahaha I totally Emergency Couple- on the setunderstand why this drama is so beloved, coz it’s also making me grin with glee from ear to ear just witnessing the developments 🙂 I wonder how the story will end. Whether Jin-hee ends up with the awesome & handsome chief [ ❤ he is the actor Lee Pil-mo, more about him below, in for: My Too Perfect Sons] or gets back with cutiepie Chang-min I hope the other guy can end up happy, too (is that possible? !haha) Baby Gook _Emergency Couple _yawnI’m happy for Song Ji-hyo because she’s doing great here but I do hope she gets more rest …    Emergency Couple _Baby Gook _ ep15  I’m a bit worried that she looks like she’s not getting enough sleep … I really admire this actress 🙂 I can spot several events here that are similar to Crime Squad & I’m just delighted at the coincidences (having a meal together with Chief Gook/Park Saehyuk & where he secretly gets amused at her; she shops for a gift for Chief Gook/Saehyuk at a clothes store; Emergency Couple _Baby Gook  ep15she’s comfortable & nimble in footwear without heels; she has non-flamboyant but trendy/cool wardrobe; she’s struggling to prove her worth in her job) … I wish the best for whole team that’s making this series refreshing, intelligent, & fun to watch! And please don’t pressure Baby Gooki to work!  🙂  Emergency Couple _Baby Gook _ep15!NO NO NO NO! I just saw baby Gooki cry! Don’t put him in a situation where he’ll possibly cry! Or else remove him totally from the series! You can’t use a baby this way! Arrrgh!!! <– I’m sorry. Gooki visits Chief Gook_Emergency Couple ep15I think that was very strong language there. I still feel strongly against babies crying for no reason, but at the same time I understand the situation. [added 22March2014: By episode 16 baby Gooki is fine. I have a post on it, here, where I also share a few captures of him — has been updated and includes those until episode 21.]

 

for:  My Too Perfect Sons  (added 14March2014)

My Too Perfect Sons _castThis is a 54-episode family type drama. I’m in episode 13 now and its magic for me has not waned. This series has been cracking me up since the beginning. My Too Perfect Sons _ castI still don’t know how it ends but as of now I am convinced that I have found another jewel. I had no idea before I started watching it that it’s this good. I have already cried a load along the story but please don’t be put off by this. It’s a drama after all. I appreciate these tear-inducing parts because they help in making the characters more real-like. Also, many of these for-cry episodes act as removers of sting from the nasty characters. Harabuji Abuji MiranThus I am not stressed out by any one character here, making me appreciate more the unfolding of the story. So it’s not all silly laughs, and it’s not even an all-sweet-flow because there’s lots of nagging from all sides that personally I would be exasperated many times a day had I been living among them.

My Too Perfect Sons poster

this thumbnail zooms in greatly when clicked on

The story revolves around a family that has 4 adult single sons, of which the eldest 3 are professionals and are being nagged by their mother into marriage. I have put here photos of the main cast because I don’t have the time now for writing much about any and each. If you’ve been around quality K-dramas for a while you’d recognize that most of these faces are among the ablest in the industry. Names on the upper rows are the artists’ names, while those on the lower rows are their character names in this drama. I ended up here in my search for other Ji Chang-wook (the emperor in the current Empress Ki) and Lee Pil-mo (the ER chief resident in the current Emergency Couple) characters. If you like these two then My Too Perfect Sons is a must for you (incidentally, it’s Ji Chang-wook’s first drama). My Too Perfect Sons _mother Okhui & hers 4 sonsI already have lots of love for each of the main characters (except Choi Soo-hee, who has appeared only once so far hence the audience still has to get to know her). If, like me, you’d want to know more about ordinary folks’ lives in present-day South Korea then you’ll be charmed by this series. Don’t expect, though, that what you see here is an accurate description. Song Daepung & Kim BoksilIt is a tailored presentation, after all.     But I have warmed up to it this much because it’s near to the normal family situation where farts, burps, dog poops, and blowing of noses are part and parcel of living with loved ones within close proximity. My Too Perfect Sons _Song brothers + BoksilThere are lots of bond-drinking, too, but thankfully none has thrown up on another yet. I hope there’s none of this  here, hahaha. However, there was already something similar to this in one of the episodes. That one also cracked me up. The menfolk here are as crazy and as whacky as the womenfolk. This is among the rare K-dramas where I am not irritated by a bitch-type or a meek-type character. Yes, both types are here but somehow they manage to come across as bitch/meek with a substance.

My Too Perfect Sons _Song brothers L-R _Daepung, Jinpung, Seonpung, MipungNo one’s paying me to say things here. I’m just sharing my joy with you 🙂 I’m going back to watching episode 13 now. Have a super day! (Thanks to asianwiki for the My Too Perfect Sons main cast photos.)

>added 19 March 2014. Superb. I have just finished the watching the drama. I relished every episode of it. I’m smiling like the Cheshire Cat right now as I’m writing this update. My Too Perfect Sons did not disappoint me until the end. I now confirm that this is among my favorites. My Too Perfect Sons _Song brothers L-R _Mipung, Seonpung, Daepung, JinpungThe story of the Song family, of their 4 handsome sons and of the people involved in their lives, was carefully crafted to showcase family related events so as to encourage the viewer with the message that no matter what the situation is living shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It’s because in life no matter what the situation is unexpected events could always turn up and they could lead us to paths we never thought we’d take. Ahh, I’m so sleepy now I can’t think much anymore. I’ll just describe the entire drama this way: it’s like a cuddly teddy bear, big, soft, cushy, and warm. My Too Perfect Sons _Song familyIf I have to choose a most favorite character then it would be Song Gwangho (by the great actor Mr. Baek Il-seob), the father of the 4 sons. Anyone who has a father like him can’t be anything but a happy child, and anyone who has a child like him can’t be anything but a happy parent. But the rest of the main characters are also lovable in their own unique ways, including Miran the boys’ cousin who’s not in the photos above.

I now count this as among my treasure of ‘comfort’ dramas, stress relievers without fail, the others being:

Golden Bowl (Japanese) [background theme: bowling],

Hana Kimi – Taiwan [background theme: a girl in a boys’ school],

Yankumi's class at play _Gokusen 1Gokusen-1 [Japan, whacky boys’ class + whackier teacher],

Crime Squad [police work & a journalist],

The Legend (The Story of the First King’s Four Gods or Taewangsasingi) fantasy-myth,

The 5 kids studying _God of StudyThe God of Study [down-to-earth teenage kids and their awesome school teachers],

Take Care of Us, Captain [aviation & admirable characters of the 4 leads],

Return of the Condor Heroes 2006 [wuxia-fantasy],

❤ and, hopefully Emergency Couple [medical] based on episode 15 so far.

Kaja! (let’s go!)

    

 

 

 

 

 

Cheol-su, the werewolf brother

A Werewolf Boy - 2012 South Korean movie

Song Joong-Ki in A Werewolf Boy, a 2012 South Korean movie

A Werewolf Boy - playing   (1) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (2) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (3) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (4) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (5) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (6) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (7) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (8) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (9) A Werewolf Boy - playing   (10) Cheol-su's playmates A Werewolf Boy - playing   (11) Cheol-su, Suni & kids feed paper to goats A Werewolf Boy - the call of dinner   (1) A Werewolf Boy - the call of dinner   (2) A Werewolf Boy - the call of dinner   (3) A Werewolf Boy - the call of dinner   (4) A Werewolf Boy - the call of dinner   (5) A Werewolf Boy - the call of dinner   (6) A Werewolf Boy - the call of dinner   (7)There’s something wrong about this movie.

A stinking-to-heaven animal-like human is taken as part of the family in the shortest time imaginable.

The family consists of a middle-aged, pretty, smart, bubbly, kind, warm, loving, simple, responsible, very busy widow, a pretty teen-aged daughter, and just as pretty elementary-school younger daughter.

The animal-like human transforms, after a thorough wash, into a tall and handsome young man about the age of the older daughter. He fell asleep sitting as the mother was scrubbing his back, suds and all, in the spacious bathroom. They have become mother and son after just hours of being acquainted.

He later is named Cheol-su by mom, something she liked doing since she had regretted that she had not borne a son to her husband, who wanted one so much.

Cheol-su wolfs down, literally, food at the dinner table. He lived with wolves, presumably, after all. Despite so, he is always expected to eat with everyone, as family should. And, as is expected, other members of the family adjust to him. They calmly guard over their bowls and plates against him, thereby everyone gets to eat, too.

Cheol-su is very smart. He cannot produce the word-sounds but he understands whatever is told him. This way he is just like a deaf-mute member of the family, very sensitive to facial expressions and body language. Thus, 98% of the time we have a werewolf boy who is docile, clean, sweet, nice to be around, goes along and plays with the kids, listens and looks at everything, absorbing, learning.

We have, what is, a very handsome and smart asexual young man. After learning from Suni, the older daughter, not to wolf down food, we have a virile man with whom no threat stemming from any passion whatsoever can be associated with — he will not rape, nor assault, nor even verbally abuse any-one around him, not his family, not his neighbors, not the kids, not the animals, not even the plants.

This is not a movie about a werewolf. This is a movie about how love can be so comfy and warm and giving between people who have just come to know each other. Among strangers. Among neighbors. In the family. In a small remote village with wide open spaces. This movie just bubbles over with natural warmth and generous welcoming. True loving. Only one nasty presence is here, and he is so misplaced that he’s almost like a caricature. He, however, represents what to many of us the real world is. Violent. Unreasonable. Selfish. Egoistic. Arrogant.

This movie to me is so painful and so painfully beautiful that I feel I shouldn’t talk much about it lest I do it a disservice. Besides, I don’t quite know where to start talking about it. The science involved here is hazy, but with genetic engineering it could be possible. This aspect of the story did not receive much attention anyway. What’s concrete is that Cheol-su is there, breathing, living, loving. He just loves and loves like an ever-flowing stream, clear and calm, and that’s all that matters.

I hate the way time, and everyone, forgot Cheol-su. I hate the way he was deprived of so many things that we all have: circle of friends, company, a family relationship that’s always beside you. What’s even more poignant for me is that Cheol-su has no perception of having been deprived. He is like a plant, a full-grown tree, stationed in a tiny spot on earth and content with the rain and the sunshine that come his way. He thrives all by himself. He keeps his love and learns of things associated with this love: he teaches himself to read, write, and speak. Just that. He has no ambitions beyond that.

I hate the way a story caged a Cheol-su inside a story. But I really have no idea, as of now, what I could do for Cheol-su. If there’s something I can do for him at all then I would really do it. Right now. I really hate it that he’s there stuck playing with no-one but not seeing his loneliness. I hate it that I can see him like that, but he himself doesn’t have any idea of what it’s like to be able to see him like that, to know about him, knowing that he doesn’t perceive the pain of having been left alone.

I really wish that Cheol-su has not existed at all. However, if he did not, I wouldn’t have known that love can be like this.

I will never ever forget this movie. There are only about two other like it for me: Lost in the Desert (1969/1970), and The Fall (2006).

Dear Actor/Actress, I Respect You

tree with deep roots posterDear South Korean Actress/Actor,

A very warm hello from an admirer. Please stay a while and read what I have to say from my heart.

I have been watching your projects, dramas mostly, for quite a while now and you have never failed to solicit my admiration. Painter of the Wind posterI have always found you amazingly competent in your portrayals of the many faces of humanity. You have provided windows for me from where I could see glimpses of that part of living that I may have a blind spot on, or that I am barred from seeing by reason of points of perception.

Yes, I have not been drawn to your projects for the purpose of entertainment alone. You might say you don’t understand my point since, after all, entertainment is your business. But please understand that audiences do vary greatly. Not all of us are up for the sole purpose of being “entertained”.An official poster of the drama. From left to right: Bidam Sangdaedung, Mishil Seju, Deokman Paeha, Kim Yushin Chamgun, Princess Cheonmyong Besides, there are many other media for ‘entertainment’. Well, okay, your colorful clothes and your music accompaniments have entertained me, and many a time the funny portrayals, too, but they’re not really the meat of what I’m after. I’m really after the story of humanity.

Please take my present post with a bright perspective — chuno posterthe reason why I had the urgency to write this NOW is that I have just Googled “dark side of Korean film industry” and the first three entries that came up confirmed my suspicion. Of course these things do not happen in your country alone. I suspect that it’s worse with another actor/actress in another country. However, it’s you that appears on my screen most of the time nowadays that I feel compelled to do something about it.

dae jang geum posterYou see, for quite a while now I have marveled at the quantity and quality of dramas produced in your country. They are very good and there simply are so many of them. Then I noticed that you, dear actress/actor, appear in so many projects so that if your role was evil in a ‘previous’ project I had to re-program my perception of your face (not you as a person) as someone who is very likable in this ‘newer’ project that you are in.damo poster I am forced to adjust to your new persona fast, and it’s not really nice for my psyche. I have this feeling, therefore, that the projects you appear in are devalued as works of art —- instead of being rendered the proper respect as expressions of human creativity, like paintings and classical music/theater, your dramas/movies are being treated like mass-produced commodity, cheapened.

jumong poster  Actually it’s the historical stories that I’m more fond of. I do appreciate how difficult it is to make these. The costumes are heavy, or sometimes too thin for winter. In some there has to be rough horse action. In the fights you have to risk your bones and skin. Even the speech is not familiar to you. And even if you’re just a face in the background, without a speaking part, I really could see that you give a very convincing performance. crime squad posterAlthough I would forget your name I would still be able to remember you because I see you again and again as I watch another and yet another drama. And when I see you in a modern-day setting I will suddenly give a yelp of delight because your face will look different now that you don’t have a gat or a hanbok or a slave’s clothes on.

Honestly I value the stories that you appear in, that you act on, and I do spend time in digesting them. I analyze them. I think about the events. I reflect on them. dongyi posterI do so because they make me think about my life, about the life of my friends and acquaintances, about the lives of those who live similarly to the situations in the story that you appeared in, on screen. Your stories make me reflect on the human situation. As I said earlier, I do not value them for entertainment’s sake. I value them for what they can teach me about life.

Mandate of Heaven PosterSo, okay, what do I really want to say to you, dear actress/actor? I want to say to you that I really wish for you to take care of your well-being. I don’t want you to be pressured into ‘entertaining’ me so much so that you don’t get enough sleep anymore. It could happen that I would really start crying for you, as a person, even before your face is shown on screen on your next project because my suspicions were confirmed that you are being constrained by the business side of entertainment. Please, if it happens that you already have enough money to live a healthy lifestyle then don’t push yourself to overwork for my sake. Freeze posterI will not be happy if you do so. Just seeing that you are working hard to be a good performer is already inspiring for me. I would already appreciate it that you are someone who is serious about your job and your responsibilities. I respect you as you are, even if I saw you in one project only, and my respect and admiration for you will not lessen just because you did not have a good project this year, or because other fans did not like the way you looked in your last appearance.

Please understand that however your face is structured you are handsome/beautiful to me. phoenix posterYour original face is beautiful. I’m your fan, and I know that you are also a human being like me. I am your fan because I admire the way you could get into a character’s shoes after just reading about him/her merely days or hours before filming. I bet many of the roles you were able to excellently portray you did them without consulting encyclopedias or psychiatry journals or historical accounts.

kingdom of the winds posterPlease take care of yourself. Next time I see the eye bags heavy under your eyes I would know that it was not because you stayed out late drinking with friends, but it was because most likely you pushed yourself to work too hard, for me. Sometimes your paleness is obvious despite the make-up and lighting. I would really hate it if you got sick because you overworked for my sake. Instead of making me happy to see your face again, it would make me sad, even if your role is funny.

Thank you very much for all your hard work. taewangsasingi 4 guardiansYou have already given me so much. You have shown to me how beautiful Korea and its people is. Your drama stories have encouraged me. The goodness of heart that I could see in the characters you play have inspired me, in my living. I owe you so much, so I thought it’s my turn to extend my support for you. I wish for you to find real happiness in life. I wish for you to love yourself, too, much more than I love the characters that you bring to life on screen.

gye baek posterthe great seer posterIt’s gotten into a long message now, and it’s already midnight so I have to say goodnight. 🙂 Goodnight, dear beautiful person. Have a lovely new day tomorrow. May God bless you.

——————

added on 9March2014:

I felt that I needed to say more about this matter.

Running Man _coreThere are video clips readily available online about almost anything in the known universe. Among these I came across one that gave me a glimpse of a world that I did not suspect existed. It’s an in-house training establishment for entertainer wannabe’s. This particular one I found was of Eric Mun’s, which made me feel awed at the intensity of dedication he gives to these training periods. That’s the first time I became aware that behind Kpop’s glamour is also a world of sweat and tears.

Joong Ki + Ji Hyo + Kwang Soo _ep21

Joongki, Jihyo, Kwangsoo _ep21

Lately, which makes me quite late into the game, I discovered that aside from Song Ji Hyo there’s also Lee Kwang Soo (and Song Joong Ki in the past) in the South Korean variety show Running Man. I never bothered with variety shows because they always made me feel like I waste my enthusiasms in paying attention to them.  But since it’s these three, whom I belatedly discovered to be close friends, and who are favorites to me individually, that are in this show then I watched one episode. That was Episode 2. That was memorable because I had not been able to laugh that loud and long about anything for many years now. For a Filipino this phenomenon is unusual — not having laughed hard for a long time — since we always have opportunities to laugh our guts out with family and friends.

Running Man _by 2011In watching a bit more of that show I gradually found it irksome that the true personalities of the members are suppressed during the show. For instance I hate it that Lee Kwang Soo is being projected as inept and stupid, because he clearly isn’t. I hate it that Song Ji Hyo is being made the “female” to the “male” of whoever that will guarantee continuous high ratings to the show. I somehow feel that it’s a disrespect to Song Ji Hyo as a person because if she were not a female then she wouldn’t be paired off like this, just an object, to one guy or another. I am frustrated that she and the guys are not free to express themselves during the show. Somehow I feel cheated by the fact that though I’m anticipating to witness true camaraderie among personalities that, I’d like to believe, by now have become real friends in the real sense, (yet) what I see are faked interactions.

A show has to be scripted, obviously. But the question of to script or not to script, or how to script, is not what I’m touching on here.

Running Man ep3 (1)    I’ve become this affected (!hahaha) because I have come to like each of the members of Running Man. I do not see Kim Jong Kook as frightening. I can sense his finesse and gentleness. I do not see Haha as inept. He has a solid sense of responsibility and self confidence. Song Joong Ki comes across as an intellectual to me, a sort of an academician, someone who loves learning but just happens to have a beautiful face. Though Kang Gary is constantly teased of his looks he actually oozes of sexuality, and he is totally far from being ugly. Same with Lee Kwang Soo.

Ji Hyo + Kwang Soo _ep21

Jihyo & Kwangsoo

This guy is smart but he suppresses it. I saw him only once, in Dongyi, and I thought of how he amazingly could pull off that character. He’s just good at making silly faces but actually he’s handsome. (Whew… I am a bit disappointed with myself in having to use the handsome-ugly categorization here because I feel strongly against this mass media gauge that is used in the distortion of humanity’s sense of beauty, and hence all values that are related to this sense, like self-acceptance.)

Running Man ep3 (2)But the fact is that the entertainment industry is a reflection of humanity’s greed for sensual gratification. That is, involving the senses. The term is already mentioned: for entertainment. Since the market potential is huge then the greed for unprecedented profits is also boundless. That’s what humanity is like.

The reason why I felt the urgency to add to this post is because I found additional information relevant to the topic. If you’re interested at what is going on, at the real situation, the one that is hidden from those who are not willing to dig deep, then I would like to share these three links with you:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13760064

http://xypherfarrell.hubpages.com/hub/KPop-JPop-Why-are-People-Hating-it

http://xypherfarrell.hubpages.com/hub/REAL-Bad-Boys-of-Korean-Entertainment

Running Man ep3 (3)(I’ve bookmarked the bad-boys page because I’m now ready to get acquainted with them, to see for myself these ones who are admirable for their courage. Also, Kang Gary is there.)

I’m sorry that it’s only these that I can share with you for now. I know that it’s as bad in other countries (e.g., USA, India), but I don’t have time yet to look for the specifics. I don’t exactly know how it goes in the Philippines but it’s safe to assume that it’s also messy and bloody. It’s a lucrative livelihood, after all. Where greed is great, corruption in corresponding levels is also present. Myself being a Filipino, I could easily imagine how it is plus allowing that fact could be stranger than fiction here.

Running Man ep3 (4)Though I will remain enthusiastic for film productions I will not stay blind on the struggles of the small people who are involved in it. They are the ones whose faces are peddled on screen. They are the ones who touch my life, even bring me needed courage at times. I will not be like a pimp for them, raving about their work and selling it to the world by my praises, without being aware that I as a fan am also responsible for the pressure that constantly hounds them. Only a few of them are lucky enough to be born or be granted with the privilege of choice, like Kaneshiro Takeshi and Lee Seo Jin. Most of them are just struggling artists. Most of them are just bread winners who are stuck in a job that is actually a prison to them.

Running Man ep3 (5)I’ve decided to just choose first the Running Man episodes where only the core members are interacting amongst themselves. I now see them as close friends.  — The Filipino equivalent is the barkada. One’s barkada are the people that one hangs out with, each one being an important part of the others’ lives, to share laughs and other emotions with, a venue for self-expression, to grow up with, to explore reality with, a quasi-family. — Of course, I will watch all episodes that has Song Joong Ki in it and I will especially cherish those where he, Song Ji Hyo, and Lee Kwang Soo are on the same team.When I’m done with all those episodes I’d choose again from the episodes where artists that I admire have come as guests, like Jackie Chan, Cha In Pyo, Eric Mun, and Ji Jin Hee.

Running Man ep21 (1) Running Man ep21 (2) Running Man ep21 (3)Each time I watch them I will especially be alert for spontaneous interactions, the ones that bring out their unguarded emotions. In this way I’d feel like I’m having fun with them, too. Because this is how it is among barkada — just being with each other’s company is a guarantee for an opportunity to celebrate life, a partaking of well-being.

Thus, I will not watch Running Man merely for my entertainment and doses of laughter. I will watch it because I want to celebrate life through friendship, though vicariously for now.

♥♥

many thanks to the sites that made these pictures here available for everyone; all enlarge, some much, some a bit, when clicked on

♥♥

[added April 3, 2014] Kwangsoo enthusiastically greets Jihyo upon seeing her as she joins the gang late in the games in episode 189, tired as she is after more than 10 hours’ travel to Melbourne. Much younger Kim Woobin, Kwangsoo’s teammate, respectfully looks on and laughs at his elders as they end up squabbling.

Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (1) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (2) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (3) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (4) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (5) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (6) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (7) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (8) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (9)