Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Air City- first impression

I've just finished watching 'The Devil' but will need to recollect my thoughts before I write a review on it.

So in the meantime, I'll do a short initial thought about 'Air City' as I've just watched the 1st episode.

For those sick of romantic comedy, romantic tragedy, romantic mushy love story...this may be your cup of tea as it's action from the word, 'Go'. Of course, I'm not saying there's going to be no love story in this drama...this is Korean drama, you know. But I think the romance factor will not be the major focus.


Starring Choi Ji Woo, Lee Jung Jae, Lee Jin Wook and Moon Jung Hee, the drama, 'Air City' as I mentioned in my earlier post was done in celebration of Incheon Airport's 5th anniversary. The drama is an attempt to show the 'scenes and people' behind Incheon Airport- what makes it work, who makes it work, how it works. Actually, it reminds me of the drama, 'Hotelier'. The daily working routine and environment is the main storyline. Of course, in this case, it is even more dramatic....what with gun chase, fake passport, drug traffickers and terrorists all in just the first episode....whew! I needed to catch my breath after watching it. It makes the mergers and acquisition world in 'Hotelier' mild.

Without going into too many details at the moment as I've yet to watch the other 3 episodes, I would have to say that the first episode has left a good impression on me.


In particular, I'm liking what I see in Choi Ji Woo here- professional and confident (she's already spoken in Korean, English and Chinese so far though of course not fluently). There is a sense of maturity in her (well, she is 32 this year) and with that maturity- a kind of sexiness. Thumps up so far. I'm crossing my fingers that the writer won't make her wail like in 'Winter Sonata' or 'Beautiful Days' or 'Stairway to Heaven'. That would really spoil it. She is no longer the young Yu Jin in Winter Sonata.


Lee Jung Jae, though not on my list of Ban Chan (so far, I may change my mind by the end of this drama) is one fantastic actor- a real pro and he should be, having been in this line for over 10 years. Manly and cool - especially when he's holding that gun....hehe! I think he's a good match for Choi Ji Woo age wise (he's older than her by 2 years).


Lee Jin Wook is quite a cute guy and I think acting wise, he's not too bad for someone new. Unfortunately I've yet to see any of his earlier works like 'Smile Again' or 'Alone in Love' (this drama is in the queue). But he is really too young and looks it too to be a Choi Ji Woo's primary school mate.

So far, I can't really detect any 'love' chemistry between Lee Jin Wook and Choi Ji Woo. Of course, it is a little too early to conculde but I can see the potential sparks between Lee Jun Jae and Choi Ji Woo.

The 2nd lead actress, Moon Jung Hee, has yet to make her appearance in the 1st episode. I think she appears from the 2nd episode onwards. I'll be interested to see how the equation works out with her in the picture later.

동방신기 (I still can't recognise them!)


The theme song is sung by TVXQ- . Now I can't say I really like their songs but this song is not too bad. I guess it fits with the drama's storyline and content- fast, urban. With Kangta and Super Junior singing the other songs, I must admit that the feel for the rest of the songs in the ost is somewhat similar. . And no, there aren't really any slow songs in the ost. Told you this isn't really a romantic story... hehe! the ost is available now.

Here's a trailer and a fan made mv using the theme song All in Vain by TVXQ.

Ok.. I must admit, there's a personal reason why I like Air City. I used to work in the airport and watching the drama brings back the memories. Though I hated the long hours, the atmospheare in the airport is really quite different. I get a thrill each time I breeze into the transit area with my working pass through the special door. Hehe!

This was a cute scene...hehe!


I was debating whether I should start watching Park Shin Yang's 'War of Money' now as well but after the mad, hectic 2 months of watching 5 dramas at the same time, I have serious doubts if I would be able to retain my sanity if I start watching too many at the same time. Besides, I want very much to finish my 'Freeze' first. ^^

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Classic- Winter Sonata/ Winter Love Story

If you're into Korean entertainment, you would know 'Winter Sonata'...even if you're not into the Korean wave, you would have heard of Bae Yong Joon. Of course, whether you like the drama and Bae Yong Joon or not is another matter.

Winter Sonata/ Winter Love Story



Winter Sonata sparked the huge interest in Korean drama, Korean artistes and generally, the Korean wave in Asia and possibly beyond in 2002/ 2003. Korean dramas were already popular in Taiwan and China then, but not to this extent. Of course, there are many many good dramas besides 'Winter Sonta' but I think none had the impact that it did on the Hallyu Wave and Korea tourism.

Winter Sonata was the second in the season series by PD Yoon, the first being 'Autumn in my Heart' - which made stars out of Song Seung Hun, Won Bin and Song Hae Gyo. PD Yoon had worked together with Bae Yong Joon in his first drama, 'Love's Greetings'. He was kind to the young, new actor and gave him many useful advise, so when the director asked him to act in Winter Sonata, he readily agreed. He was however, apprehensive about the first 2 episodes as he was required to act as a 18 years old student (he was already 28 then). He was afraid he would looked too old to be convincing. But PD Yoon persuaded him that it was important for the story that he should act both roles and he would be fine.

In addition, he was also nervous about having to dye his hair blond and being trendy (he's really quite conservative). Hehe! That was the first and only time he's dyed his hair. Don't think he's very comfortable with it, so I doubt he'll do it again.

Both Bae Yong Joon's 'Hotelier' and Choi Ji Woo's 'Beautiful Days' were fighting for ratings in 2001, so it was a little ironical that they would both be in the same drama a year later. But this was not their first drama together, 'First Love' in 1997 was their first. Here's an interesting blog about this great drama.

                   

In 'Winter Sonata', Bae Yong Joon played 2 characters- Kang Joon Sang and Lee Min Hyung. As the 18 years old Kang Jun Sang, he went to his parents' high school in Chun Cheon in search of his father. There he met and fell in love with Jung Yu Jin (Choi Ji Woo).. a happy, kind and fun girl.

     

Kim Sang Hyuk (Park Yong Ha) is the model student and has known Yu Jin since young. He is in love with her. Oh Chae Rin is a pretty, confident girl who pretty much gets the man she wants, except for Joon Sang.


Complications set in when Joon Sang first thought Sang Hyuk's father was his own father. Then later, he mistakenly thought that he and Yu Jin may half siblings... (actually, now that I've watched enough Korean dramas, this isn't complicated at all...hahaha!). Anyway, on that Christmas eve, Joon Sang and Yu Jin had arranged to meet along the main Chun Cheon streeet, only that he never turned up. He had 'died' in an accident whilst on his way to meeting her.

Cut to 10 years later.. and Yu Jin and Sang Hyuk are about to get engaged. That day, after a nice visit to the hair stylist for her engagement party, Yu Jin saw 'Joon Sang' on the road and completely missed the engagement party. Later, Chae Rin brought her boyfriend, Lee Min Hyung to meet (or rather show off) her friends and surprise..surprise...he is the splitting image of Kang Joon Sang.

The rest of the story deals with the 2 main leads falling in love and the 2 supporting leads, family members and friends trying their hardest to stop them. Then Min Hyung found out that he's actually Joon Sang but he's lost his memories. More misunderstandings of whose son he is...

In other words, you have the classic content of a Korean drama- half siblings in love, loss of memory and terminal illness of some sort. Although this may be clique now, but it was new to me back then. And somehow, it touched a chord in me and many around the world.

For me.. this was my first full length Korean drama and I absolutely fell in love with the story and of course Bae Yong Joon. I'm not sure which exact moment it was.. I guess it must me this... when he was peeping at Yu Jin dancing away to ABBA's Dancing Queen in the studio. Here's the clip I'm talking about.


And for the first time, I cried buckets and my heart broke over a drama and I ended up with red, puffy eyes almost everyday for work. Not to mention that I was dead tired too as I would be watching up till 4 to 5 am every morning. I had to creep into bed just so that I wouldn't wake my husband. ^^

This scene positively broke my heart... as Joon Sang/ Min Hyung threw all the momentos he had with Yu Jin before he 'left' her.


As in 'Beautiful Days', Bae Yong Joon was meant to die...but for the same reason, the fans' protest resulted in him being blind instead of dead.

So just why do we love this drama so much? I think a large part is because it was just such a refreshing change from our usual diet of Japanese and Hong Kong dramas. The cast was wonderful and the chemistry between Bae Yong Joon and Choi Ji Woo was keenly felt (there was even a rumour that they were going out for awhile).


And the scenary, ahh...the scenary... winter never looked more beautiful and it captured just the right feel of the drama..first love, innocent love. For the first time, I realised that Korea was not just kimchi and LG. It made me want to go Korea. Me and thousands other fans. And I've been to Korea every year since 2003. ^^

     

Nami Island, Chun Cheon and Yong Pyong Resort became must visit places, which of course pleased the Korea Tourism Office greatly. For more infor on the Winter Sonata filming sites, you can go to KNTO site

Park Sol Mi's latest movie is 'Paradise Murdered' with Park Il Hae. Unfortunately, I seemed to read more reviews about him than her. Her last drama was 'Golden Apple' with Jung Chan.


Park Yong Ha discovered that he could sing after singing the theme song in 'All In' and is now a singer based mostly in Japan, releasing albums and singles there. Sigh... so many of them based in Japan now.


Ryu Seung Soo, the vet in the drama, acted with Bae Yong Joon again recently in the movie, 'April Snow'. Boy, I almost couldn't recognise him as he's err... put on quite a few kilograms. But then, as he was supposed to be in a coma throughout the whole show, there wasn't much chance to see him.


Choi Ji Woo has not had much success since 'Stairways to Heaven'. Even her latest weepie, 'Now and Forever' with the hunk Jo Han Sun did not do too well. However, her latest drama, 'Air City' which started airing last weekend looks promising. Starring the very hot Lee Jung Jae and the ultra cute Lee Jin Wook, the plot is action packed so far. And for once (ok, maybe not once) she's not a sweet, demure girl. She's a professional and she looks like it too. Of course, she's also more matured and I'm liking what I see so far. My only fear is that the writer will make her wail in the later episodes.



Bae Yong Joon's latest drama, 'Great King Four Gods' will finally be aired on the 25th June on MBC. It's been 5 years since 'Winter Sonata' and it's taken almost 18 months for the drama to be ready. I'm really looking forward to it.



There are no end to the numerous clips on youtube, so I'll just select a few interesting ones here. If the streaming is bad, just let the clip run through once and it will be smooth the second time round.

MVs:
My Memory
Moment
Don't Forget Me
From Beginning until Now
From Beginning until Now in...Vietnamese
Parody on Winter Sonata during the KBS Awards. Very, very funny. Haha! Must watch!
NG
BTS. This is about 9 minutes long and the commentary is in Japanese but it's interesting.

And here's a very interesting article on Why is Winter Sonata a big hit in Asia on the Koreanfilm board.



This sure bring back memories. And for me, this remains one of my top favourite drama. : )

*Edit- Just went on to bb's blog and it seems she just blogged about Winter Sonata a few days ago too. Great minds think alike...hehe! Click here to read about it.

Related post:

Park Yong Ha

Friday, May 18, 2007

Ban Chan (반찬)

I'm sitting in front of my computer, having a curry puff for my lunch and what am I dreaming of? Ban chan- those Koreaan sides dishes that are amazing in its variety and the limitless refill.

Unfortunately though...most of the Korean restaurants in Singapore are really not up to mark in terms of the variety, freshness and generosity. One of the restaurant even wanted to charge me for refills!!!! Luckily, they saw the errors of their way and did away with that parctice subsequemtly. Probably had too many people complaining. Whoever heard for a Korean eatery charging for refill of ban chan????!!!!

The only 2 restaurants that I've tried and been somewhat close to standard were Mana Restaurant (along Telok Ayer St) and Mido Restaurant (26 Tanjong Pagar Rd, though I don't think it's called Mido anymore).

Anyway... I figured if I can't have the real thing now, I could at least look at them right? I just got to make sure I don't drool over my keyboard.. hahaha!

This was from the abalone restaurant in Jeju. bb has blogged about it but hor...she wrote so much, I don't where to look. Anyway, here's her blogsite

This was part of the royal cuisine that I tried at the Gyeongbokgung Palace during my 2004 trip sponsored by KNTO. Very, very good. For more infor, you can go to KNTO's website here.

And I love the kimchis...

Raddish kimchi from Good Morning, Kimchi!

Whole Cabbage kimchi from Good Morning, Kimchi!

Fried Cucumbers from Le Wade's Korean Cookery

Now, if I can have these Ban Chan together with my other type of Ban Chan...it would be great. Wahahaha! You can read about my other Ban Chan here and here

Now, I'm really, really hungry! Oops, that doesn't sound too good... hahaha!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Fly Daddy



Cast: Lee Moon Shik (Jang Ga Pil,강가필), Lee Jun Ki (Go Seung Suk,고승속)

thread on soompi
Fly Daddy on Yesasia
Fly Daddy mv
Fly Daddy trailer
filming of boxing scene

After the sensational success of 'The King & the Clown' and his drama, 'My Girl', Lee Jun Ki teams up with Lee Moon Shik of the popular 'Mapado' for this family film about a underdog who fought those in power.

Synopsis:
Lee Moon Shik (Jang Ga Pil) is a 30-something salary family man with a pretty daughter. His family is his world and he is willing to do anything for them. Until he discovered that his power as a normal salary man with a 7-years housing loan is often limited.

One day, his daughter was badly assaulted by the school bully, Kang Tae Wook, who happens to be the son of a rich, powerful politician. There was nothing he could do..he wasn't rich, nor was he powerful. Thrown with veiled threats to his career and his family, he was forced to accept a feeble, forced apology from Tae Wook.


He was disappointed that he could not protect his family and his family was disappointed with him too (though I''m not sure what they expected him to do). In a desperate attempt to achieve some sort of justice and regain the trust and confidence of his family, he decided that the only way to do so would be in the boxing ring. There in the ring, he could meet Tae Wook fairly without the protection of his bodyguards and powerful parents. Lee Jun Ki (Go Seung Suk) is a brooding teenager with a past. He is also an excellent boxer, the only one who has defeated Tae Wook so far.

And so Ga Pil managed to persuade Seung Sok to train him in 45 days to become a champion. And in the process, Ga Pil became the father that Seung Sok never had.

How is the ending? Come on, it's a feel-good family movie, so of course it ends happily ever after.

Thoughts:
This could have been a good movie or at least it could have been better. There have been coutless movies about the underdog who made good, the family man who protected his loved ones (think of The Host). It can either connect the audience or it can be pretty dull if not handled well. Whilst I'm not saying it's a total washed out movie, it certainly doesn't have that necessary spark to make the audience root for the slightly paunchy, quiet, underdog Ga Pil. Having said that, Lee Moon Shik is an excellent, veteran actor.


I also find it rather incredible that Seung Sok managed to transform him into a fit fighting maching in that short a time. I should very much like to engage him as my personal trainer please. Haha! Ok, ok..this is a movie, so anything is possible.


It's an ok, watchable movie and there are redeeming moments which I enjoyed. Like when Lee Moon Shik was racing against the bus, with the whole bus load of passengers rooting for him. I thought that was quite good. And when he went to bail out Lee Jun Ki, acting as his guarantor after a fight. I thought that was a really sweet moment.


Of course, most of the interesting moment involved Lee Jun Ki....basically because he was looking so very cool in it...Sigh....There's quite a lot of fight scenes, a major departure from his role in 'The King and the Clown'. Watching this movie should dispel any thoughts that he is girly, even if he might have feminine, sharp features.


Fly Daddy is based on a Japanese comic (I believe there is also a Japanese movie version as well).

Lee Moon Shik has acted in mostly movies, though he was in '101 Proposals' shortly after 'Fly Daddy'. He even got Lee Jun Ki to make a guest star appearance in the drama.

Lee Jun Ki's latest movie, 'Virgin Snow' has just screened in both Japan and Korea. This is a joint Japan/ Korean production. I hope it will do well. However, I'm really looking forward to his drama in July, 'Time of the Wolf and the Dog' with Nam Sang Mi. He's even got a new hairstyle for the drama. And oh...if anyone wants to catch the cast of this drama, you should probably make a trip to Bangkok in June. Heard they're going there to do some filming.


Lee Jun Ki has also released a single, My Jun My Style. It contains some video clips of his previous activities and the 3 songs that he sang during his fan meeting last year. Surprisingly, he doesn't sing too badly and dances quite well too. You can watch the clips here. You can also go onto his Singapore forum, Lee Jun Ki Singapore for more infor, clips and photos.

One Word MV
Foolish Love

Isn't he cute? ^^            

You know what's really depressing? Lee Moon Shik is younger than me.....Sob! Sob! Think I'll just look at this young man's picture and drown my sorrow.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Korea Children's Day- 어린이날

Hmm... I only found out last Saturday that Korea celebrates it's Children's Day on the 5th May, which is different from Sinagpore (we celebrate it on the 1st October). And whilst it's a national holiday over there...it's only a holiday day here if you are below 12 years old (being young at heart doesn't count).

Anyway, Square 2 (being the so-call Korean mall) had some activities on Saturday to celebrate this festival. There was magic show, giveaways etc.

There was also sort of a contest for the children who came dressed in Korean costumes. They got to take a photo with Lee An, the singer. The cuttiest 5 boys and 5 girls were chosen by him to receive some prizes.

There were some really, really cute kids there....not all were Koreans but I think a fair number were. It's great to be a kid. ^^




A little information on the national holiday.

Korea Children's Day began in 1923 and was initiated by a well-known children's writer, Bang Jeong Hwan, who wrote an open letter to adults on 1st May, beseeching them to speak to the children with 'respect' amongst other things.

Children's Day in Korea is very much like Christmas for children for those who celebrate Christmas- ie, lots of presents, food and fun. In other words, you are the king or queen of the day.

You can get more information about this special day here.

Wonder if I can ask my MP to persuade the government to declare Children's Day here as a public holiday. Maybe can tell him that it will help in the fertility productivity. Wahahaha!

Lee An didn't sing that day. We figured that the mall probably didn't pay him enough to sing, so he only took photos with the kids individually. Think the MC mentioned 100 kids!!!!! Luckily, don't have 100 kids or we would be there the whole afternoon. Some of the girls were wondering if they can pretend to be 'over grown kids' and take a photo with him. Haha!



Don't know who Lee An is? You can read about him here and here.

This little girl was a clear winner with all of us...퀴여워요...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Dramas in May-another busy month

And I thought I would be able to take a breather and watch my own collection of dramas after the March frenzy...but I guess not.. There are a few interesting dramas in May. Oh dear, when am I going to have time to watch my stock of dramas...?

Air City
Cast: Choi Ji Woo, Lee Jung Jae, Lee Jin Wook, Moon Hee Jung
Station: MBC, official site
Starts: 18th May, Sat/Sun
thread on soompi

This is probably amongst the more anticipated drama, if only because both Choi Ji Woo and Lee Jung Jae will return to the Korean small screen after an absence of 4 years and *gasp* 9 years respectively. The setting is the Incheon Airport and it is actually in celebration of the airport's 5th anniversary. Hmm...I'm sure it was supposed to be 60 episodes originally...but I guess they changed their mind and it will only be 20 episodes now.


Lee Jung Jae is a government agent working at the airport. He's incharge of security...already I see lots of pics of him holding guns and jumping around. Well, he did say he was a little apprehensive at first as he was also an agent in his last movie, 'Typhoon'.

I have yet to watch 'Typhoon' (somehow I didn't really fancy watching Jang Dong Gun as a pirate..sigh...so the disc is still somewhere in my cupboard) but I really like 'Il Mare' (forget about 'Lake House') and 'An Affair'. The game room scene made this one of the most talked about movie for awhile.


Choi Ji Woo has not had much success since 'Stairways to Heaven'. She's very popular in Japan and even acted with Takenouchi Yutaka(drool) in 'Rondo'. I heard there wasn't much chemistry between the leads though...sigh.. must be the language problem

Can't say I'm a big fan of Choi Ji Woo but I really like her in 'Beautiful Days' and 'Winter Sonata'.


She's a lot more matured now, which may be good thing.

Lee Jin Wook had a vert favourable impact in the drama, 'Alone in Love' (starring Gam Woo Song & Son Yeh Jin). Rather good looking....hehe!



I Came in Search of a Flower
Cast: Cha Tae Hyun, Kang Hye Jung, Gong Hyun Joo, Kim Ji Joon
PD: Ji Young Soon (Oh! Pil Seung Bong Sun Young)
Station: KBS
Starts: 14th May, Mon/Tue
thread on soompi

Cha Tae Hyun works in a funeral parlor, and though he has a nice, simple personality, he's not been very lucky in life. Kang Hye Jung is the daughter of the funeral parlor's owner. She's seen many deaths and have become unfeeling because of what she sees day in and day out.

So essentially, this is a love story. And it should be a very simple love story.


I don't think I've seen any of Cha Tae Hyun's drama, unless you count 'First Love'. He was one of Chan Woo's (Bae Yong Joon) friend and appeared only briefly in a few scenes. I have however, watched quite a few of his movies, including his last one with Song Hye Kyo- 'My Girl and I'. Unfortunately I wasn't very impressed- it was just a little over done in my opinion. I think he was better in 'My Sassy Girl'. Cha Tae Hyun's last drama was 'First Love of a Royal Prince'. He's looking a little fat now and I really do not dig his permed hair. Still, I've liked most of his movies so far.


Just a little side information that I can't resist putting here...both Cha Tae Hyun & Song Hye Kyo were in a drama together long, long time ago..They were in 'First Love'. Presenting a very young Cha Tae Hyun and Song Hye Kyo.

   

I have no impression of Kang Hye Jung, probably because I've yet to see any of her works. According to her profile, she was in 'Old Boy', 'Welcome to Dongmakgol' and 'Herb'.



Me Ri, Dae Gu's Attack & Defense Battle
Cast: Ji Hyun Woo, Wang Bit Na, Lee Min Woo, Lee Ha Na
Station: MBC, official site
Starts: 16th May, Wed/Thu
thread on soompi

Ji Hyun woo is a novelist who writes about martial arts stories. Lee Ha Na is a snack vendor who asipires to be a singer. One day they met and well... the love-hate relationship begins from there.


I've not watched Ji Hyun Woo's drama though I have seen him host a couple of programs. I know he was very popular in Korea last year, especially after the airing of 'Over the Rainbow'. How do I know? Well, when I was in a Korean restaurant last year, I happened to have a copy of the Asta TV magazine, which had him on the cover. The waitress who was serving us got very excited when she saw the magazine. Kept saying how cute he was. ^^


Le Ha Na is a pretty new actress. Think her recent drama was 'When Spring Comes'.


There was some confusion initially as some people thought it was Lee Min Woo of Shinhwa. It got quite a few fans pretty excited. Unfortunately (or fortunately? hehe!), it is Lee Min Woo, the actor.



Warfare of Money
Cast: Park Shin Yang, Park Jin Hee, Kim Jung Hwa, Shin Dong Wook
PD: Jung Tae Yoo (Bad Family)
Station: SBS, official site
Starts: 16th May, Wed/Thu
thread on soompi

Park Shin Yang is a ruthless money lender. Park Jin Hee was going to marry a divorced man to repay her family's debts. Her plans were ruined by Park Shin Yang on her wedding day. Shin Dong Wook is also a money lender and Kim Jung Hwa is a banker. Seems lots of money being involved. ^^


Anyway, I kept thinking of Eileen when I learnt about Park Shin Yan's return to the small screen after 3 years. He was last seen in the immensely popular drama 'Lovers in Paris' in 2004. She must be over the moon, especially as he also has a new movie out - 'Shiny Day'. This is with the same adorable little girl, Seo Shin Ae in MBC' s 'Thank You'.


Strange that I was just talking about Park Jin Hee the other day here. Have not really watched any of her dramas, so will have to reserve my comments.


I last saw Kim Jung Hwa in '1% of Something' with the very good looking Kang Dong Won. She's pretty and sweet and acts ok BUT she has yet to make a major impact on me. Let's see how she will fare in here as her character is supposed to be different from her previous ones.


I watched Shin Dong Wook's 'Cloud Staircase' with Han Ji Hye and gave up halfway. It was not the most inspiring drama.



Of all these dramas, I guess 'Air City' is the most hyped. The cast was recently in Hong Kong to film part of the drama. 'I Came in Search of a Flower' is the least anticipated. However, I wouldn't dismiss it as Jang Hyuk's drama 'Thank You' had the least hype and expectation when it began compared to the other 2 dramas and it turned out to have the highest ratings.

Sometimes, a simple storyline, with great acting is all that is needed.

Totally unrelated...but I'm having a little trouble remembering all the 'wooks'.

Lee Dong Wook
Shin Dong Wook
Lee Jin Wook

Much thanks to people on soompi, especially Shirley for the updated information on the various dramas.