I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

Sang Doo, Let’s Include a Plot March 26, 2008

Filed under: kdramas — Raven @ 3:18 pm
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Yesterday I finished watching the kdrama Sang Doo, Let’s Go to School (상두야,학교가자!), starring Bi/Rain and Gong Hyo Jin. It had a promising setup: guy working as a gigolo in order to pay his daughter’s hospital bills meets a girl from his past who has no clue what he’s up to now. Naturally, she was his first love and he’s still in love with her. As cliched as the whole “first love” thing is, I thought it worked here. But someone needs to tell the writers of kdramas that it can’t all be about the love story. Dramas really work much better if the characters have external goals beyond getting together.


The characters played by Bi and Gong Hyo Jin have no external goals, and the plot is further watered down by the addition of love interests for each of them. I suppose the love interests are intended to increase the conflict, but there would have been plenty of conflict if the writers had come up with a storyline that forced Bi and Gong Hyo Jin to come into constant contact with each other whether they liked it or not. He’s ashamed of his present life and they both have secrets from their past that they’re hiding, so in terms of emotional content there’s already plenty. I would have liked to see the writers do something like have Gong Hyo Jin set up an amateur sting operation to catch Bi and/or his uncle (also a gigolo). Based on the first episode, the drama could totally have gone that direction. It just didn’t.

There was nothing wrong with the acting. I particularly like Rain when he’s doing sad scenes. This drama didn’t make me cry, but it did have some poignant moments. But ultimately I foresaw virtually every plot twist, and it felt like most of the stuff was being added in to fill up the full 16 episodes. The only thing they didn’t put in? You guessed it, a plot. I wanted to like this drama, but ultimately it was a disappointment.

P.S. On the bright side, this was the first kdrama I’ve seen where a character gets a nosebleed from working too hard and lack of sleep and doesn’t end up having leukemia.

P.P.S. Also on the bright side, I’ve now learned how to say “gigolo” in Korean. I’m sure this word will stand me in good stead…


D-War September 21, 2007

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 2:03 pm
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This film, supposedly the most expensive in Korean history, is… a stinker. Okay, that’s totally hearsay on my part, since I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m now thinking I’ll wait for DVD. Nobody seems to have anything good to say about the film, although I have to admit the destruction of downtown LA is something I wouldn’t mind seeing on the big screen.

Korean film critic Kim Bong-sok said, “They want it to be successful in the U.S. because it’s Korean, not because it’s good,” and called the film “immature and poorly made.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Well, I was rooting for it too, also because it’s Korean, but I can’t root for something that isn’t any good. The story sounded iffy and confusing from the beginning, but I still had high hopes. My hopes are now on hold until I manage to see it, either in the theater or on DVD.

P.S. I thought Rain was supposed to be in it. Maybe its quality is why he backed out?

P.P.S I realize I’m saying a lot of bad things about a movie I haven’t seen. For the record, I would love to be able to come back and retract everything after I do see it.


A Love to Kill: The Verdict July 22, 2007

a-love-to-kill-2.jpgA Love to Kill is one of those kdramas where you get caught up in the story and while you’re watching it it works, but after it’s over and you’ve had time to think about it you realize that, um, it shouldn’t have worked.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still one of the few kdramas I’d consider buying instead of renting… And yeah, for some reason the huge long post I wrote got cut off here when I tried to post it, don’t ask me why. Thanks, WordPress. Maybe I’ll come back and try to recreate it later. Meanwhile here’s the short version: Rain did a great job, the love story needed a believability boost in the final 6 eps or so, and I loved the soundtrack. Click here for my fave song, 이 죽일 놈의 사랑 by Lee Soo Young.

Oh, and Shin Min Ah, the female lead, also stars in The Devil, a kdrama from this spring that I’m eagerly awaiting on DVD. Also in The Devil we’ve got the hot Uhm Tae Woong (in my age range, always a plus) and Joo Ji Hoon, the male lead from Goong. If they’re as good as they’ve been in the past, it should be worth the wait.

I guess I don’t need to come back and try to recreate this post after all. The short version works.

P.S. My post about Rain’s concert in LA is still generating hits, presumably for the hot pic. I still can’t get over the fact that they wouldn’t let him go onstage and say hi to his fans even if he wasn’t going to be allowed to sing.


Rainy weekend in LA July 14, 2007

Filed under: kdramas — Raven @ 10:46 pm
Tags: ,

Okay, I’ve figured out why Jeong Ji Hoon calls himself Rain. Because it’s just so much fun to make puns on the name! I mean, why else could it be? Now my alias, Raven, doesn’t lend itself to puns so well. The only thing I’ve been able to come up with so far, raven lunatic, is neither flattering nor spelled correctly. But I digress.

This weekend we (and by we I mean I) are watching A Love to Kill, which stars Bi/Rain. This is the first time I’ve seen him in anything. There are some minor difficulties with the DVD version I’m watching, namely that the subs are REALLY bad (Tiger Cinema said they were average quality, but I’d say they’re poor quality) and in some of the eps the picture is on a two- or three-second delay, so you get the sound before you see the actors’ lips move, or whatever. But neither of those problems are the fault of the series.

This series is darker and also more mixed up chronologically than some I’ve watched. Granted, kdramas do tend to go dark at times, but so far I haven’t come across any other protagonists as dark as this one. Maybe that’s because I’ve mostly watched relatively lighthearted romantic dramas. In terms of chronology, I’m used to flashbacks, but this drama does some weird things with time, especially at the end of the first few episodes, and the flashbacks it uses are extensive. I think it’s working, though. I’m kind of enjoying the weird chronology and the darkness of it all. What can I say, the protag is a tortured soul. Those are the best kind.

Maybe I’m also enjoying taking a break from being lighthearted. And it helps that the protag has a strong external goal that drives the story. That’s a refreshing departure from some of the kdramas I’ve seen where there’s not really anything propelling the story.

I haven’t finished it yet, so we’ll see what I think after I find out how it ends.


It doesn’t rain in LA July 2, 2007

Filed under: music — Raven @ 11:03 pm
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Bi/Rain’s concert in LA on Saturday got canceled because the producers messed up, or something like that. According to rumor (this rumor was found at soompi.com), at the last minute he wasn’t going to be allowed to use the equipment he’d brought along from Korea, and supposedly the show couldn’t go on without the effects it provided. I think there’s actually something else going on behind the scenes. In any case, it was very bad luck for the folks who flew in from Asia for this concert (and for everybody else who had tickets and was looking forward to it). Rain wasn’t even allowed to go on stage to say hello to his fans. 😦

There’s an article about it here. The same article says we have about 200,000 Koreans in LA. I understand we’ve got the largest concentration outside of Korea.

They should have warned Rain not to get his hopes up. It doesn’t rain much in LA, especially in the summer.