Good Ol' Review: It Won't Be Easy to Forget the Excellent Cast of SBS' Remember

SBS Remember

Major spoilers for drama ending, but with warning before it begins in review.

Rich vs. poor. Revenge. The underdog. The SBS drama Remember (– War of the Sun) has a simple enough premise. But after watching the 20 episodes, the most memorable aspect of the series anyone will remember will be the outstanding performances of its stellar cast. Continue reading

Good Ol' Review: Middle School Student A Misses Huge Opportunity to Be Something Great

KBS Drama Special Youth

No Spoilers

Another recent teen-centric KBS Drama Special was Middle School Student A about a transfer student, Hae Joon (Kwak Dong Yun) who provokes the top student in the class after he bumps her from her #1 ranking.

The theme and unfortunate reality of young Koreans being pressured about excelling in school has been depicted in various types of stories from drama to comedy to horror. Teens feeling trapped by their parents’ expectations and the nasty competition between the students themselves, high school life in Korea appears to be pretty dramatic. And the themes are certainly not restricted to South Korea.

It is a worthy theme to explore and Middle School Student A even touches on the growing problem of suicide in Korea.

But while the drama takes a dark turn in the last third, it starts off like a typical and cliche-ridden teen romance. Continue reading

Good Ol' Review: Youth is Another Excellent and Affecting KBS Drama Special

KBS Drama Special Youth

No Spoilers

If revenge is the most popular go-to theme in Korean drama, then the youth experience is a close 2nd. While there have been plenty of youth/high school dramas, many cute and idol-driven stories, KBS Drama Specials have been able to present darker and maybe more realistic depictions.

And the KBS Drama Special Youth (청춘) blends both themes into one dark, gritty hour. Continue reading

Good Ol' Review: KBS' Angel's Revenge a Fully Satisfying Cat-and-Mouse Game

Angel's Revenge


KBS’ recently concluded Angel’s Revenge (천상 여자) is a fully satisfying drama series. As long as you commit to all 103 episodes.

That may seem daunting and this was a daily drama. But committing yourself to the entire series about a nun-in-training leaving the convent to seek revenge for the murder of her pregnant sister will help ensure that this won’t be a wasted experience. In fact, Angel’s Revenge ends as a completely worthwhile and dramatic cat and mouse game with some sweet romance and fun (and short!) detours. Continue reading

Fox to Develop American Adaptation of Answer Me 1997

While ABC’s adaptation of tvN’s Nine Time Travels is stuck somewhere in development, another hit tvN drama has a shot to make its away across Pacific with Fox looking to adapt Answer Me 1997/Reply 1997 for the US.

Deadline reports that Fox has put Answer Me 1999 into development with Step Up 3D writers Amy Andelson and Emily Meyer writing the script and Step Up director John M. Chu at the helm of the pilot with all three set as Executive Producers under FX Productions.

The article describes the series as a “musical drama” and “musical journey,” but unless they’re developing the adaptation as a replacement for Glee, that description could be misleading.

I’d say both Answer Me series are musical dramas in the way NBC’s late, great American Dreams was a musical drama in that the music of the era was used as a way to frame and enhance the events in the characters’ lives and of the world at that time. People aren’t breaking out into musical numbers during the episode.

This Fox adaptation is interesting in many ways. Both Answer Mes definitely had a gimmick (which is not mentioned in the Deadline article and I won’t spoil here), but both were at their best as true coming-of-age and slice of life stories. The characters friendships and bonds in the midst of a changing world were the biggest draw.

Setting Fox’s adaptation in 1999 at the height of *NSYNC, Britney, Christina and the Backstreet Boys is pretty inspired and a good jumping off point. But like most American teen dramas, Answer Me 1999 will probably be a sexed-up version of the original series, both of which were more innocent, even while groundbreaking in many aspects. That innocence and more conservative Korean drama treatment added to both series’ charm and nostalgia, at least for me.

So regardless, it will be interesting to see what Answer Me 1999 would eventually look like.

Still, while this is great news for Korean drama (many deserving of the big Hollywood treatment), I’m more anxious to hear about Nine Time Travels‘s fate.

Good Ol' Review: KBS Drama Special A Taste of Curry Another Charming Story

A Taste of Curry

No spoilers.

Another KBS Drama Special, another pleasant surprise.

A Taste of Curry starring Jun Hye Bin and Hyun Woo is another great example of KBS Drama Special’s penchant to present different and engaging stories.

Yoo Mi (Jun Hye Bin) owns and runs a curry restaurant and Hongdae all by herself. She doesn’t get very many customers and she’s fine with that even though she and her mother need the money. One day, she ends up knocking out Kyung Pyo (Hyun Woo), a seemingly drunk man who has just awaken on the bench outside her restaurant. Continue reading

Good Ol' Review: Join After School Bokbulbok For an Insanely Fun and Surprisingly Sweet Little Drama

After School Bokbulbok

Some small spoilers.

Dramas have grown a great deal in the last year with many fresh and even big stars taking part in projects being delivered to audiences in non-traditional ways.

After School Bokbulbok (or After School Lucky or Not) is one of those experimental new dramas having premiered online and on mobile devices via SK Telecom properties like Nate last September. It was recently made available on DramaFever and Hulu which is where I discovered this hilarious little gem. Continue reading

Good Ol' Review: The Universal Appeal of tvN's Answer Me 1994

Reply 1994

LOTS of spoilers.

So I am definitely late to the entire Reply/Answer Me hype, but finally managed to jump in last week. Instead of starting with 2012’s Answer Me 1997, I chose to watch the more recent Answer Me 1994 first.

One of my favorite things about Korean dramas is that their short, miniseries format allows for a wide variety of stories even if most fall into the same drama tropes. To find a few more original, risk taking or fresh concepts, the cable networks and the late night drama specials on the big three (or maybe just KBS?) are where to go.

tvN has been at the forefront of dramas that are both out of the box while still having mainstream appeal. And the Answer Me series certainly falls within that spectrum.

Another one of my favorite things about Korean dramas is when I stumble upon a drama that appears to be very Korean on the surface, yet ends up being very universal instead.

Answer Me 1994 is a perfect example. Continue reading

Review: KBS' Charming and Poignant Waiting For Love

Waiting for Love KBS

SPOILER ALERT! Full discussion of the story, but there is fair warning.

After watching two KBS Drama Specials today, I decided to catch up with the two-episode drama special (though not under the Drama Special banner) Waiting For Love.

The two-parter stars BoA, Choi Daniel and ZE:A’s Siwan in a contemporary story about love and relationships.

Before we get to the spoilerific review of the special, how about watching both episodes right here. I absolutely recommend Waiting For Love, both for the charming and emotional story and the great performances by its lead cast.

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

*Spoilers begin!* Continue reading

Review: Your Noir and Came To Me and Became a Star Are Excellent, Engrossing Examples of the KBS Drama Special

Drama Special

SPOILER ALERT! Full discussion of the two drama specials, but there is fair warning after a little intro to both.

KBS Drama Specials continue to present some of Korean television’s best and most unique stories. And two recent Drama Specials are excellent examples of that fact.

Now since my review will pretty much spoil both stories, I will say right now that both are well worth your time. And you can watch them both right now thanks to KBS World posting every Drama Special episode on their official YouTube.

The first drama is Your Noir starring 2PM’s Chansung as Hyung Joo, a new recruit in an “organized crime” gang whose boss wants to bring down a pesky prosecutor by finding clear proof of the prosecutor’s abuse of his wife. Turns out, the prosecutor’s wife (Chae Jung Ahn) is Hyung Joo’s former high school teacher who he had feelings for.

The second drama is Came To Me and Became a Star starring Kim Ji Suk and Jung So Min as two 20-somethings who are struggling to make a living and must live in a youth hostel. After getting paired up at a blind date meeting party, they start dating but hide from each other the fact that they are practically dirt poor.

*Spoilers begin now!* Continue reading