Monday, June 30, 2008

In Soon is Pretty - The Characters

After watching one k-drama, I'm never sure what else to watch. There's a lot out there. Fortunately, my friend dramaok has a page with recommendations. I have so far made my way through "White Tower", "Legend", "Thank You", and "Coffee Prince". I started "Que Sera Sera" but I didn't find myself investing enough in the characters and stopped watching. Possibly unfortunate, since dramaok has been pretty right on in her assessments of the shows that I've watched.

So it was time to watch another one and I picked "In Soon is Pretty". Not quite finished with 2.5 episodes to go. It's the story of Park In Soon (IS), an orphan whose parents allegedly died when she was 100 days old, cared for in her youth by her Grandmother. While still in high school IS was jailed for (what appears to be 10 years) accidentally killing a girl.

We meet In Soon as she trolls Seoul looking for work upon her release from prison. In Soon; homeless, friendless, and jobless decides to end her life by stepping out in front of an oncoming train. It is at this moment her old junior high friend Yoo Sang Woo (YSW) recognizes her on the train platform and calls her name.

Brought back from the brink of death, we continue watching In Soon try to push on. There were few people who believed in her while she was in prison; one was her Gramma and the other was one of her junior high teachers. Gramma dies while In Soon is in prison and In Soon falls in love with her teacher. Transferrence at its best. Her teacher however, recognizes this for what it is and consistently pushes In Soon away. His kid is cute though.

Her Aunt and Uncle. Wooooof. The Uncle is a nasty brute who drinks wine like koolaid and knocks his wife down for sport. The Aunt has supported In Soon throughout but isn't above taking pot shots and playing the "You have ruined our lives" card, nicely adding to In Soon's burden of guilt. In what I considered to be a purely selfish act (she just didn't want to have any responsibility for IS any longer) she drops a bombshell on IS - her mother is still alive. Niiiiiiiice. I'm not liking any of these people.

Mom is an actress ~ Lee Sun Young (LSY). LSY is supremely, no, MONUMENTALLY self absorbed, not getting the roles she wants any longer and so she pushes her other daughter, Jung Ha, to go on auditions. Mom starts to see her own star fading and to keep herself in the spotlight, longs to get her daughter involved in the business as well. Jung Ha has no interest and could probably benefit from a run on the Prozac train quite frankly.

Yoo Sang Woo has loved Park In Soon his whole life. He was a geeky kid, not smart, not athletic, kinda goofy looking when they were children (yeeeesss, we get the obligatory childhood love flashbacks all through the show) and he finds himself attracted to her as an adult. Born to irresponsible parents, we see a flashback of them fleeing to Canada in the middle of the night to escape their creditors. This may have been a viable option in the 1980s, certainly a penniless Korean family carrying plastic garbage bags full of their life's possessions out of Korea and into Canada wouldn't have caused any raised eyebrows. Nooooo sir.

YSW has done well for himself. Shed his geeky image and grew into a fiiiine lookin' young man. Finished school, went to college, and is now a successful reporter with KBC television. Personally, I think his success can be argued, or at the very least it can be determined that he has a lousy research department, since he has no idea what happened to In Soon since he last saw her. He further condemns himself when he claims to have searched the internet to no avail to try to find information on her. I decided later on in the series that he was hired solely for his cool good looks - Hey! Sang Woo! Google dude. Google.

YSW's dad seems to be going through a mid-life crisis, as he becomes obsessed with In Soon's Mom, Lee Sun Young - he has several mugs on his office desk sporting her in a variety of roles, photos are pasted on his office walls. If this was CSI and LSY were dead, we'd be looking for a lock of hair and her liver in a jar at this point. However, LSY revels in the attention and actually meets with her stalker. He's falling in love, she's looking for someone to remodel her house on the cheap.

YSW's mom ~ next to In Soon, I feel saddest for her. Here this woman keeps a lovely home, takes care of her family, stuck by that pig of a partner of hers when they spirited off to Canada after he failed in business and now that she's older she's no longer attractive to him anymore.
She's ignored by her husband - indeed, the only time he deigns to speak to her it's to abusively criticize. Sang Woo does little to ease the tension - after a long hard day of chasing In Soon around Seoul, he comes home ignoring his mother's attempts at communication with little more than grunts and goes to his nicely appointed room.

Mom eventually finds out that Dad is having an affair (which in k-drama fashion = going to a play's as good as a hug) and she packs his bags and throws him out. When she calls Sang Woo to tell him what's going on, he ignores the pain in her voice and is dismissive to her so ~ good on her ~ she says she's on strike. Tells him she's not cooking or cleaning or doing his laundry any more. "Hey Oma, is something wrong?" Ohhhhh, NOW he senses she's upset. My boys ever treat me like that, they're gonna get an earful.

Couple of minor characters - Jung Ha and Geun Soo. Jung Ha - as I mentioned before is In Soon's half sister and Geun Soo is her adoptive brother - it's amazing how complicated these shows get. JH falls in love with GS - GS is a ne'er do well, a grifter, who owes the mob money. He has women shoving all sorts of money at him - you know, I don't even know if he pays the thugs off, but he has no problem taking the money. A tortured lonely soul, I think GS's measure of love is non-abandonment, stemming from when his own mother left him at a bus terminal telling him she'd be right back. Mom abandoned him, IS in an act of tough love tells him she's done with him. The only one who sticks is JH who follows him through the streets of Seouls and further. He can't shake her. And he's starting to need her.

Jung Ha, for all her money and privilege just can't stand her mom and like all good girls looking to rebel, falls for the baddest boy that comes in her line of sight. I think she really understands him though, inasmuch as her life experience has been sheltered.

Lonely. All these characters are lonely. Even after becoming a media darling, In Soon is still empty, her mom with her one fan is lonely, YSW with his successful career is lonely, all lonely trying to make it work. Loneliness and sadness permeates this series, but the sweet thread running throughtout is YSW's love for IS. We get to see it when they are young when it's pure and sweet, and now we watch as it matures while they are hefting all their baggage from the intervening years and trying to sort through the baggage of those around them.

I think this will end sweetly and I hope happily for all the characters. Except for In Soon's Mom. We still haven't had a good solid trip "to the beach" yet...but I'm hopeful.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

In the Navy

Expecting the Village People? Yeah, I thought about embedding the song. But as I listened to it I thought it lacked dignity and my son's decision to enter into the US Navy was worth more than that suggested.

My son registered at Naval Officer Candidate School on Sunday in the nuclear submarine program. Having no immediate experience of the military (I have uncles, cousins and friends who entered, but it's not immediate enough for me) I've been pretty anxious. I found a wonderful website:

full of wonderful supportive and warm women who have also sent their children into the Navy. Their tagline; "You gave them the values, we give them the opportunity." made me burst into tears yesterday. Lot of stuff making me burst into tears over this lately. But its a great site, full of suggestions, what to expect, what not to expect, when to expect it, pictures, videos and camaraderie; a sort of face book for Navy Moms.

I think I'm going to need it. He graduates in 12 weeks.

Monday, June 23, 2008

KDrama Review: Emperor of the Sea

“Emperor of the Sea” is based on the Choi In-Ho novel of the same title. The drama focuses on the life of Jang BoGo (? – 846) who dominated the East Asian Sea and international trade during the Shilla Dynasty (676 A.D. – 935 A.D). The drama features Jang BoGo’s growth from slave to Ambassador of Cheong Hae-Jin.

Ponder Angst – I was very frustrated with the amount of lonely staring that went on in this series. Maybe it was just because I had never been exposed to Korean Ponder Angst and it was a culture shock for me. Jang Bo Go looks out at the ocean. Jung Hwa looks out at the ocean. Yeom Moon looks out at the ocean. Master Lee looks out at the ocean. Madame Jami looks at a wall from her table of doom. Awful. 5 points.

Love “ – “ Angles – It’s a Quint. Jang BoGo loves Jung Hwa. Jung Hwa loves Bo Go. Other chick loves Bo Go. Yeom Moon loves Jung Hwa. Bo Go has baby with Other chick and feels a great deal of affection. 20 points.

Sizzle – Song Il Guk as Yeom Moon not only sizzled in this series, the man was on fire. He lit up the screen for me. I woke up in the middle of the night to watch the next installment of the series just so I could see what would happen to Yeom Moon next. Song Il Guk is solely responsible for my k-drama obsession. I have yet to find a character that entranced and captured me the way the tragic Yeom Moon did. 50 points. Yeah, that's right, I said 50. If you say anything, I’ll give it 10 more.

Physical Intimacy – Well, again, since my k-drama cherry was popped on EotS, the lack of physical intimacy made me nuts. I have since gotten used to this really endearing quality in my Korean dramas. This time though, I wanted something more than hands to touch, and I barely got that. Jang Bo Go’s and Jeong Nyeon's wives get pregnant, so we know that at least 2 couples consummated their relationship, so I give it 10 points.

Tragic Heartwrenching Disease and/or Character Death from Same – If I go into all the heart wrenching tragic death on this series, I’ll start to cry and spoil the whole thing for anyone who hasn’t seen it. This series devastated me even though I had read all the spoilers and I knew what was going to happen. 20 points

Going to the Beach – Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding! Bonus Round! The e-ville Madame Jami kills herself by walking into the ocean. Yessssss! 15 points!

Emperor of the Sea gets 120 points and for me, that was really on target. I watched this series out of boredom and on a whim. Figured I’d give it an episode. I fell in love with all the characters in the series; I rooted for them and I cried for them. The end devastated me.

I haven’t watched the series full through since though. It’s not the kind of drama where you get a warm fuzzy feeling; there is dread throughout now. What the show did do was to introduce me to a fascinating culture, it put me in touch with people I otherwise never would have met – I’ve made friends all over the world because of this series and it’s characters.

I think that’s what has made this series the most special for me.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Kingdom of the Winds

As far as I know, Song Il Guk's management company, Barunson, has yet to officially announce his participation as King Damushin in "Kingdom of the Winds", even though word has it that he is already in China filming this KBS' sageuk.

Actress actress Choi Jeong-Won [최정원] has been slated as one of Damushin's concubines, and actress Oh Yoon-Ah [오윤아]will play Damushin's wet nurse. Jeong Jin-Yeong and Jeong Tae-Seong have also been cast; I just don't know in what capacity yet.

KotW is a popular graphic novel, or manga, foundation: Korean history; genre: fantasy. It has also been made into the pay to play multiplayer online role playing game NEXUS: The Kingdom of the Winds (Korean:바람의 나라), alternately known as Nexus TK or simply Nexus. The game is currently run in the US by Kru Interactive.

I'm a tool enough to check out the graphic novels, old enough not to be interested in the game.

information provided by the inimitable dramaok

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Excedrin PM Glooblie

Feel foggie this morning, thanks for asking. Yeah, I'm still not feeling 100%, but I'm a lot better than I was Tuesday night. Low grade fever, really sore, just felt all around junky. Stayed in, hit the couch, fell asleep early. I didn't really have much in the way of cold medicine to take, so I just let it fuss its' way out of me.

Yesterday it hurt to talk but as the day wore on, I felt better. I feel still better today; just logie like I took 2 Excedrin PM last night. Except I didn't. Blaaaaah. Taking Buddy out for a walk helped though; it's a lovely bracing 53 degrees out this morning. This went a long way toward waking me up.

Thoughts of taking a sick day yesterday were banished early since I had to cover for my colleague. I would have missed some vigorous e-debate with my pen pal regarding, of all things, parents that feel entitled to take sick time when their kids are sick. Somehow it descended into a rant about the flat tax and his mother - I don't know - I didn't say he was rational.

So in to work, must get on the treadmill tonight; I've missed it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Guest Blogger and I do the Washington Post crossword puzzles. She is much better at the game than I, with a mind more on point and agile than I have ever had. I admire this. I generally just sit next to her and say, "Yep, yep, that sounds good," bobbling my head up and down. I will occasionally be "on" and get a few answers, but usually, nah. It's still fun. She does them in pen. When I note that this is the hallmark of a confident albeit arrogant individual, she interjects that, no, doing the New York Times crossword puzzle in pen is the archetype of the arrogant. I suspect she secretly does these in pen as well. Not because she is arrogant, but because she is brilliant.

To try to keep my hand in the game as well as in an effort to stave off the Alzheimers I'm certain will inevitably settle in, I do the occasional generic crossword puzzle on my own. I can go slowly this way, using pencil with a large eraser. Since it's getting harder and harder for me to see the words without additional ocular intervention, my nose is pressed pretty closely to the page. And I never do the Washington Post Crossword puzzle on my own. I did that once and the reaction from Guest Blogger was akin to a wife learning that her husband just slept with a much younger more naturally blonde woman.
So it was in the execution of one of these generic crosswords that I became flummoxed. The clue was KEEP _ _ _ _ (persevere). I got a few of the down answers and came up with :
A _ IT.
I got the down clue, which was TSAR, making the answer ATIT. It took me a while to realize that the answer was KEEP AT IT.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Coming Down With

I woke up this morning feeling like there was junk in my throat. It occurred to me that I might be coming down with something, but I pushed the thought away; I hadn’t been near anyone who was sick. I shrugged it off.

Not shrugging it off so much now. Tonsils still feel junky, up through my nose, my head hurts and my shoulders are starting to ache. Some people soldier on, “I feel fine,”. Yeah, no, not workin’ for me. Big baby. Huge. I want DayQuil, NyQuil, ibuprofen, ginger ale, a box of tissues, a cold pillow, a fan on my face, blanket covering the rest of my shivery fever-y body. I want a thermometer within reach so I can take my temperature whenever I want. I want the television on and I want to watch DVDs. I want tea, chamomile if I have it, and a hot bath (a hot bath cures all things).

Might just be allergies. We’ll see. I got no problem taking sick time.

Monday, June 16, 2008


This is my daughter doing a solo at the one act at her high school.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Hakawati – by Rabih Alameddine

I bought “The Hakawati” two months ago after reading a write up on it in The Wall Street Journal. I read it during my lunch hour at work and it has been an enjoyable two months ~ I’m going to miss this book.

A hakawati is a middle eastern story teller and oh, what tales we are told! The foundation of the book is the story of Osama al-Kharrat and his struggle to come to terms with in relationship with his father before his father passes away. We learn about Osama’s siblings, parents and antecedents. Peppered in between Osama’s struggle are stories of old. We are treated to stories of Fatima and her battle with the jinn Afreet-Jehanam and their subsequent and passionate love affair, of Fatima’s son Shams and the son of the emir Layl, of Baybars, of Taboush, of Abraham, and my two favorites Othman and his beautiful, strong, wise and crafty wife Layla.

I’m slowly gaining a little insight into the Korean culture through all those k-dramas I watch. The Korean culture is different and charming and sweet. “The Hakawati” offered me, after “The Red Tent” and “The Kite Runner”, some tiny insight into the Middle Eastern culture; one that is magical and real and lusty. Some of it was a little weird for me, but it didn't ruin in the telling.

I barely even realized that a tapestry that was being woven around me. I got confused trying to remember all of Osama’s family, who fathered whom, which wife was feuding with which other one’s aunt. It was told in sort of a conversational style that pulled me right in, felt real and kept me invested. But by the end, after all the magical tales were told, I realized that through the stories I grew to love, alongside the characters for whom I supported and ached, the thread of the hakawati continued through the ages. The thread uniting grandfathers and fathers and sons and nephews and cousins and sisters and mothers and aunts and grandmothers. The thread bringing life to their stories and richness to ours. Osama realizes it too, he understands in the end that he really does know his father and he will enjoy telling the story of his father for many years to come.

I liked it, a little weird, but yeah, I liked it. I think I will read it again; high marks. It is recommended.

Wants, Needs, Expectations, Reality

Written at work yesterday:

What I want:
I'm tired and I just want to go home. I want a steak. Rare. I want a honking big martini; dirty please, with three olives. I want to travel someplace exotic (current spot of choice – the Taj Mahal). I want a big HD tv that I can connect to my computer. I want a new bedding set. I want to sit in a hot tub and soak.

What I'd settle for:

Delivery salad. 45 minutes on the treadmill with the air conditioning in the gym fixed. Maybe start a new k-drama.

What I got:

Treadmill - in a gym that is STILL not air conditioned. Maybe I’ll get Chick to break something. Oh! I saw Chick Sunday going into his apartment. I waved a curt hello to acknowledge his presence. He just looked at me. I tell myself he nodded his head in greeting and that he wasn’t deep in thought plotting my demise in his cold cement hell.

Anyway, back to what I got. 30 minutes on the treadmill, but I increased the incline, so I pat myself on the back for that. Went back home dripping sweat and suppressing ire directed at impotent condominium managers, decided against delivery salad and just cooked some "italian" turkey sausage. Was then too hot and tired to dump sauce on it and cook pasta, so just ate the sausage. Internet not working on computer and that meant no new kdrama, so I settled for deleting the Colbert Report and Frasier on the DVR until I fell asleep.

My wants are varied and and align according to whim; like the choices at an all you can eat buffet. My expectations are modest and attainable; like a virgin on her wedding night. My reality is rustic and unpretentious; like dirt.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Song Il Guk; Kingdom of the Wind

Get married: Check

Compete in the South Korean Iron Man: Check

Deal with ongoing court case: Check
Sign on for next wildly popular sageuk: hooooold on there!

While nothing has been confirmed officially, word has it that Song Il Guk will be signing on to star in his next sageuk, KBS's "Kingdom of the Wind". This isn't an automatic choice for Song Il Guk, who was allegedly also considering a series that was set in modern times, and not a descendant of Jumong.

"Kingdom of the Wind"'s Director will be Kang Il-soo (Emperor Of The Sea), Writers: Jung Jin-ok (Emperor Of The Sea), Park Jin-woo (Hansungbyulgok), and Choi Wan-gyoo (Jumong).
I'm already excited - if this series is half as good as EotS or Jumong, I'm in; I don't care who is the lead. Well, I do; it'll be the icing on the sageuk cake if SIG signs on.
The series is a remake of the comic by Kim Jin and SIG (once official) will play the lead role as Jumong's grandson, Daemusin. Could prove interesting, considering Daemusin killed Daeso, Jumong's chief rival in the 2006-2007 series "Jumong; Prince of Legend".
Filming is scheduled to begin in China in mid-June. I'll keep you posted on SIG's participation.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Bae Yong Jun, getting into character. Oooooooooo, toys and prizes underneath all that kingly garb. Who knew?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Legend; The Story of the First King's Four Gods"

“Man no longer waits for heaven. Now it is heaven who waits for man.”

I think that was the overarching theme of the series; that man can do good of his own free will. I think fans of the show might question that the writers/producers/directors of “Legend” did “good” with the way the series ended.

There was a lot about “Legend” that I didn’t understand. I had assumed that I found the whole fantasy concept of the White Tiger, Blue Dragon, Black Turtle Snake and Red Phoenix strange because I’m western. I think that was part of it. There is such a long history of Korea, unlike the brief 200 years of United States history.

However, the ending seemed fast and forced and unclear to me. After reading fan comments I felt a little better. It seemed fast and forced and unclear to them as well. The hope had been that Dam Deok and Sujini would be together forever raising little Yuri (it was the kid’s name in Jumong; I can’t remember his name in Legend). But Dam Deok broke the Damul bow, causing all the “gods” to “die”, went toward the light of heaven, and the show was over. Fans were infuriated.

You know, I think the series could have developed more satisfactorily had they not focused so much on the variety of wars, the planning, the stratagems. They could have used exposition through the scribe to do that. It was a noble endeavor on a noble subject with complex characters and situations that needed better treatment than they received. There were some really fine character moments that could have been developed more. It felt like the powers that be fully expected to be able to extend the series (as so often happens) but unforeseen factors stopped it and they were forced to finish sooner than they really hoped.

I read several alternate endings and some sounded like they would have been pretty good. It appears that the cost of the project, coupled with the continued injuries sustained by some of the main characters prohibited extending the series to clarify and bring happy closure to our characters. Bae Yong Joon, God bless him, ripped some ligaments on his index finger (it’s all bandaged up in the last episode) and sustained significant injuries to his knee. BYJ looked like he had lost a lot of weight and just didn't look well.

That ending left holes that I suppose the “Legend” powers that be assumed the fans would fill in themselves. So I filled in explanations that made me happy.

Dam Deok’s father teaches the boy to hide his greatness, to not let others see his abilities so that they will think him a weak fool, thereby protecting him until he’s old enough to deal with palace intrigue. This worked for years (a long freaking 11 episodes btw) until DD becomes a man. DD has an admirable quality of humility and sincerely believes that his cousin Hogae would make a better King. He never sought the title, though it was thrust on him by the Heavens. All signs eventually point to him being the Joo Shin King and he feels forced to accept the role.

But at what cost? He loves his parents, his friends, his family and his people. His method of rule is always geared toward saving lives, to making the lives of his people better. He is a just and kind King using love first and justice when needed, but always tempered with mercy.

His mother dies. He is forced to confront his Aunt's atrocities when he is a young boy and she commits suicide. His father later takes his own life so that DD will become King. He loses his faith in his youthful love Kiha, he loses the love of his cousin Hogae through jealousy and vengeance, the friends from his youth die protecting him, men go to battle for him and die, his people suffer because Hogae tries to gain the throne through force. Sujini leaves to protect DD and his son.

Dam Deok is tired of the Heavens. He says to General Go, “Joo Shin King, do you know how much I resent that title? The many things I have lost because of that title? My mother, my father, my people.” He looks longingly at the last thing that Sujini touched before she left him, so we know that her loss still weighs heavily on his heart 8 years later. He has lost so much, yet has ruled Goguryeo wisely, supporting his people and the clans around him to the benefit of all. His war tactics are always geared toward the least loss of life possible. He hasn’t needed the heavens to help him rule, yet he has lost everything closest to him in sacrifice to the heavens for a rule thrust upon him; one that he never wanted.

In the last battle, Hogae kills the loyal General Go. Dam Deok does not hesitate, he immediately takes the same spear that killed Go and kills Hogae. After Hogae passes, Dam Deok looks at the battle raging all around him and he feels the pointlessness of it all, the killing and dying because of the title the heavens bestowed on him.

He determines in the end that his purpose on earth was to show that mankind could, through his own will, rule with wisdom, with grace, with love and with mercy. They didn’t need the heavens to intervene any longer. The problem was, that as long as heavenly blood coursed through the veins of his descendants, there would always be those intent on usurping power. To prevent others from coming along to claim the heavenly powers through destruction, and to prevent the hold that the Heavens have upon man's free will, he destroys the link between heaven and earth; the Damul Bow.

I don’t think the breaking of the Damul Bow killed the four gods and the Joo Shin King. We don’t see any of them actually die; we see the three gods on the battlefield clutch their hearts, weaken with pain, but we don’t see them die. We don’t even see Kiha actually die, she just floats in her cocoon of cherry Jell-O. I think the breaking of the bow took away the gods and the Joo Shin King’s “CGI” powers; you know, the blue dragon-y spear of death, the Black Turtle Snake cone of lost time, the White Tiger’s ability to – what the hell did that thing do besides save Hogae anyway? – I mean damn, that axe, and the Red Phoenix’s Bic Lighter Fighter Fingers.

In the end, I like to think we get the human Dam Deok, King and husband of Sujini, the perky alcoholic, mother to Yuri, son of Jumong… sorry, I mean Dam Deok. There’s Jumuchi - father of twins, the white robed guy with a cane still hustling people out of money, and poor long faced long javelin spear throwing man who will unrequitedly love Sujini forever but will serve Dam Deok faithfully.

Oh, and I’m not sure about Kiha. She might still be smiling in the cherry Jell-O.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

KDrama Review; Legend: Story of the First King's Four Gods

A review:

Ponder Angst – Plenty of pondering, but not too bad. I fast forwarded more through the spectacularly dull talk-o-war / lead-up-to-war/plan-for-war / cleverly-avoiding-war / war-tents / war-smoke / war-horses / war-ships/war-map-scenes. The guys watching the show may have been fascinated by the testosterone soaked war rooms but as a chick…not so much. And what the heck? We had to have five minutes of exposition at the beginning of almost every episode. Sheesh. Afraid it gets a 5.

Love “ – “ Angles – Dam Deok loves Kiha, Kiha loves Dam Deok, Hogae loves Kiha, Kiha never loves Hogae, Sujini loves Dam Deok, Dam Deok eventually loves Sujini and Dam Deok loves his people (he’s a good king). Blue Diamond, I mean, Dragon, loves Sujini, but I’m not counting that because it goes no where except offers a few anguished looks from our quiet long faced dragon man “Legend” gets 24 points.

Sizzle – Bae Yong Jun is a very hot commodity in South Korea. The women apparently go ape over him. My money is all on Hogae though. He was just burning up the screen with that sweaty, “I’m the doomed character” thing going on. That guy was…hot. In fact, he gets all the points since I thought he was the best looking actor in the series (Park Jung Hak as General Go comes in second, and Dam Deok comes a distant third since he didn’t do anything for me until he grew his beard the last couple of episodes) So 15 points for hot hot Hogae.

Physical Intimacy – In good kdrama fashion, no lips were hurt in the making of this series. There was more sizzle between sweet sweet Jumuchi and Dalbi – and THAT took 4 years. We know that at least 2 couples were intimate, since both Kiha and Dalbi get pregnant. Even after Dalbi is large with twins, she seems shy and reserved around her funky-haired man when he wants to snuggle. A chaste movement toward each other’s mouth was all we got for intimacy. Well, other than Kiha and Dam Deok waking up in each other’s arms. 5 points.

Tragic Heartwrenching Disease and/or Character Death from Same – I wasn’t going to give “Legend” any points for this one until I went back and read my definition that includes “arrow/sword/dagger to the heart or eye ball”. There’s no anorexia or cancer, but people get stabbed to the heart in this thing left and right (it’s all that war they keep engaging in). Kids get cut, poison is administered, mothers bleed from their mouth, lots of daggers / javelins to the heart – LOTS of those. I have to give 20 points – this series was just stinking with death.

Going to the Beach – And mommy, did we have SUICIDES! Hogae’s Mom, Hogae’s Dad, Dam Deok’s Dad, several royal elders slit their own throats, a few attempted suicides. Sadly none happened at the beach. I’m going to give 20 points.

All in all, "Legend" gets a respectable 89 points on the E-Scale for Kdrama.

Legend of the First King's Four Gods

“You should be in your palace.”

“From this moment on, my palace will be wherever you are.”

Wooof. What a line. If any guys are reading – FYI – it’s totally what a woman wants to hear.

I mentioned a few blogs ago that I had started watching “Legend; The First King’s Four Gods”. I finished this weekend. “Legend” had been scheduled in 2007 to air head to head against Song Il Guk’s “The Lobbyist” and much had been made in South Korean entertainment about “who would win”.

I was able to finish “Legend”, but “Lobbyist” lost me early on.

As briefly as I can, “Legend” was about the promised Joo Shin King, Crown Prince Dam Deok (Gwanggaeto the Great of Goguryeo); a descendant of King Hwanung (Dangun Wanggeom)…You know what - it’s really complicated. I’m going to have to send you to wikipedia to read a synopsis of the series.

Korean Drama is big on going back to the beginning and “Legend” was no exception. We were treated to our character descendants practically crawling out of the primordial ooze, all fire and brimstone and vengeance and peace and love and healing and sex and vengeance and kids dropped off a cliff. Tough times, tough times. Fast forward (sorta) to “present day”…which was still like 374 AD…here we go, our stories can really begin.

Uhhhhh, not quite. If there is something else I’ve learned, kdrama writers love to start our story back in childhood. Like all kids there are lots of hijinks going on, like sneaking into the library to read books (those crazy kids), curing the King after he’d been poisoned, making the Aunt suicide before she lost face in front of the nation for poisoning the King. Typical pre-pubescent impish deviltry. Little rascals.

Power struggles, secret training to become King (a la Jumong and Haesin), star-crossed lovers, evil Chancellors, nasty Aunties, really super duper eee-ville old guy who is like a billion years old, White Tigers, Green Dragons, Black Turtle Snakes, Red Phoenix, pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers and new blue diamonds! Oh, sorry, that’s a cereal.

Overall, I enjoyed it. Felt as though I had to slog through 11 episodes to like it though. I waited patiently for all our four gods to get together and beat the bad guys up; it took until the 17th episode for our Blue Dragon to finally open up a can of whoop ass on a bad guy.

I love recognizing actors from some of my favorite sageuks – and there was a lot to love here. Particularly General Go – who played the evil Madam Jami’s henchman in “Emperor of the Sea”. I was always sad that he was a bad buy in that series. I liked his quiet brooding loyalty. The Gramma from Coffee Prince made a cameo appearance too. I'm not sure (someone correct me if I'm wrong) but the little guy who played Dam Deok's son looked an awful lot like the fella who played Jumong's son in that series.

I particularly enjoyed all the tie ins to the history of Jumong, with mentions of Haemosu, Soseono, Yuwha, etc., the Damul Bow and the three legged bird. Not just shout outs, but real bits of Korean history, legend and fantasy all wrapped all up in it.

There were only 24 episodes in “Legend” and that might be part of the reason why I didn’t feel the same level of affection for the characters as I did in “Emperor of the Sea” (51 episodes) or “Jumong” (80-something episodes - I forget). Don’t get me wrong, I was invested, but I compare everything to “Jumong” and “Emperor of the Sea”. I cried watching those series. “Legend” didn’t make me cry, but I watched to the end, and I thoroughly enjoyed the characters.

The "will I watch it again yardstick" says, eh, probably not. But I said that about Coffee Prince too, and now I own the series. Tomorrow, I'll post my score card.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Jang Hyuk Weds!

Posted online May 28; translation by a fan on soompi forums

Jang Hyuk getting married on 2 June discloses the face of his bride to the public (for the first time) through their wedding photos, but ‘slightly’ (deliberately blurred photos).

They already registered at the marriage register last winter and had a baby boy born on Feb. 8. Jang Hyuk and Kim Yeo Jin said in the wedding invitation “We are starting a new family and hope to make it a sweet home with peace and harmony. We are preparing this ceremony to have you witness our commitment to live in one unity, looking at each other with caring and warm-hearted eyes forever.”

He has been together with his bride, Kim Yeo Jin, 2 year older than him, for 6 years from 2002. They met first at a fitness club in 2002 and finally get married after 6 year courtship.

Jang Hyuk said in the press release,

“We are thankful to all those who send us love and support. We hope you understand our decision that the wedding ceremony will be the non-open-to-the-public one. We are so excited and elated at the wedding, the would-be-the biggest event to our life.

Frankly I feel a bit abashed about this belated wedding as having a baby already, but because of that, this wedding will bring more significance to me. As a husband and a father, the more I feel like committing myself to my resolution to work harder to make a sweet home. I think the wedding is a new start in my life. I promise I will care, respect, adore, and love my family along this new road.”

God Bless them both; I wish them luck and happiness forever!

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