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  1. Squid Game ‘Squid Game’ Is Now The #1 Show In 90 Different Countries - Forbes | Oct 3, 2021 - Posters English Title: Squid Game (literal title) Hangul Title: 오징어 게임 Also Known As: Round Six Genre: Thriller, Action, Adventure, Drama Director: Hwang Dong-Hyuk Writer: Hwang Dong-Hyuk Network: Netflix Official Website: Netflix Episodes: 9 Release Date: Sep 17, 2021 Aired On: Netflix Synopsis Netflix Round Six depicts a story of people who decide to become the players of a mysterious survival game that has a whopping 40-million-dollar prize at stake. Gi-hun, played by Lee Jung-jae, seems defeated by life after being fired from his job. He decides to join the survival game to win prize money. Sang-woo, played by Park Hae-soo, is Gi-hun’s childhood friend and he also joins the game as he gets in trouble at work despite all the hard work he has done to be where he is at now. The literal translation of Round Six’s Korean title is ‘Squid Game’ (오징어 게임), which is the street game Gi-hun and Sang-woo played together when they were young. It’s quite a physical game that only ends when there’s a final winner, much like the survival game they play now. It’s named as such because players are to draw different geometric shapes on the ground, which, as a whole, look like a squid.
  2. Inspector Goo / Inspector Koo Drama title: 구경이 / Gugyeongi Formerly known as: A Wonderful Sight Genre: Drama, action, thriller, comedy Episodes: 12 Broadcast network: JTBC Broadcast period: 2021-Oct-30 to 2021-Dec-05 Air time: Saturday & Sunday 22:30 KST Director : Lee Jung Heum (Nobody Knows, Falsify) Writer: Sung Cho Yi Drama Descriptions (JTBC official site) rough translations The almighty God asks you, "Seriously, do you think all living being has their worth for being alive?" You supposed to answer that all life is precious and they have their worth for being alive, but after seeing the terrible news about the society, you can't easily answer it. While you are hesitating, God comes one step closer. In the form of an innocent girl. "You can't answer me? So, can I get rid of all of them now?" At that moment, our main character Inspector Goo appears. She has a sloppy hair that hasn't been washed for days while wearing a trench coat over a t-shirt. "What are you talking about?! Of course they have to stay alive. Because...!" That's the answer that Inspector Goo gave. Instead of lecture from moral book, she answered in her own way. The truth that she found through the pain that she has experienced. 'Nevertheless', humans must stay alive. This drama is a long story that follows after 'the because part'. But before that, she has to play one game first. Go go go! Drama Sypnosis (Asianwiki) Goo Kyung-Yi (Lee Young-Ae) is in her 40's. She is a former police officer, but now works as an insurance investigator and a private detective. With her smarts and excellent intuition, she is able to solve cases. Koo Kyung-Yi tries to catch a serial killer, who is a female university student.
  3. This sounds like a promising police procedural with a talented cast too. Synopsis from Asian Wiki Lee Dong-Sik (Shin Ha-Kyun) was once a capable detective. He now works at the Manyang Police Substation in a small city and does all the tedious chores at the station. His life is quiet there. One day, Detective Han Joo-Won (Yeo Jin-Goo) is transferred to the same police substation. He is assigned to work as Lee Dong-Sik’s boss and also his partner. Han Joo-Won is an elite detective and comes from a distinguished background. His father has a good chance of becoming the next chief at the National Police Agency. Han Joo-Won also has a secret. A serial murder case takes place in the small, peaceful city. The case is the same serial murder case that took place 20 years ago and changed Lee Dong-Sik’s life. The two detectives work to catch the killer. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Director: Sim Na-Yeon Writer: Kim Soo-Jin Network: JTBC Episodes: 16 Release Date: 19 February, 2021 -- Runtime: Friday & Saturday 23:00
  4. Those Who Read the Hearts of Evil 악의 마음을 읽는 자들 (working title) Story of criminal profilers who struggle day and night to read the minds of serial murderers. Kim Nam Gil is back for another heroic role as crime buster, in smoldering look and suits. While he was previously pegged as the fiery priest, Kim Nam Gil will take a new challenging character to become the mind reader of serial killers and high class criminals. Broadcasting Station : SBS Air date: Oct. 25,2021- Dec.14,2021 (tentative), Mon -Tue Director: Park Bo Ram Writer: Seol Yi Na
  5. Surprising good news! Filming starts in Oct. Telecast likely in 2022. The Good Detective 2 Poster from Season 1 English Title: The Good Detective 2 Literal Title: Model Detective 2 Hangul Title: 모범형사2 Genre: Detective, Action, Thriller Director: Writer: Network: JTBC Official Website: Episodes: Release Date: Aired On: Synopsis: Hello @stroppyse please help to add in the directory. Thanks.
  6. Synopsis A thriller that tackles the contemporary topic of social connection apps. “Somebody” is the name of the social app, and the story follows the developer of the app and her friends as they become involved in a murder case. At the same time a mysterious person named Yoon-oh appears in their lives. Kim Young-kwang will play Yoon-oh, an architectural designer whose charisma enchants people at first glance, but keeps his real personality hidden. Kang Hae-rim (Live On) plays Seom, the app developer. She has difficulty communicating with others, but her extraordinary tech capabilities allow her to create the innovative AI chatting program. Rookie actress Kim Soo-yeon plays Seom’s decade-long best friend and police officer, Ki Eun. (She won her role through an audition, surpassing 500+ other applicants!) Kim Yong-ji (Tale of the Nine Tailed) plays one of Ki Eun’s friends, Mok-won, who helps with the murder investigations and apparently has "strange" energy. Source ----------------------- Writer: Han Ji-wan (Ghost Detective, Wanted) Director: Jung Ji-woo ( films, "Eungyo" (2012) and "Tune in For Love" (2019)) Network: Netfilx Episodes: TBD Airing Date: TBD
  7. The Road: The Tragedy of One 더 로드: 1의 비극 A story of the secrets, desires, guilts, and salvation of residents who live at "Royal the Hill," a place where only the top 1 percenters live. Baek Soo Hyun is a popular and respected anchorman. He is known as a journalist with strong beliefs. When he states something on camera, viewers take his words as the truth. Yet, Baek Soo Hyun has another side; he's cold-hearted, and when he wants something, he gets it no matter what and will use any and all means to get what he wants. He is married to Seo Eun Soo, and they have children. Seo Eun Soo is the daughter of the chairman of the Jegang Group and married to Anchorman Baek Soo Hyun. Her father is powerful enough that he wields heavy influence in the political and economic worlds. Seo Eun Soo is herself a popular miniature artist. She prioritizes her family and tries never to lose her dignity, but she encounters tragedy. Seo Eun-Soo attempts to protect her family. Cha Seo Young is an announcer for a broadcast station. She has everything, including a prestigious job, exemplary educational background, and a beautiful appearance, but she is rarely satisfied with what she has. (Source: Naver & AsianWiki) ~~ Adapted from a novel "One Tragedy" (一の悲劇) by Norizuki Rintaro (法月綸太郞). Edit Translation @abs-oluteM
  8. M I N E Broadcast station: TVN Schedule: May 8-June 27, 2021 / Saturday-Sunday / 21:00 (KST) About the Show: The story tells of strong ambitious women who have to overcome prejudices in this world in order to find their true selves. Seo Hee Soo (Lee Bo Young) is a former top star who gave up her career and married the second son of Hyo Won Group. Jung Seo Hyun (Kim Seo Hyung) is her sister-in-law from the first son of Hyo Won Group. She is from a chaebol family herself. Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Drama
  9. Well, well , well , if 2020 was the year of the zombies, then 2021 could very well set of new trend for mutants. I have no idea if this would be done X-Men style but I do hope that the execution would not fail me. My anticipation is high because it is my dearest oppa Lee Joon Hyuk in the lead role alongside Kim Ok Vin (whom I thought was very good in OCN's The Children of The Lesser God ). This drama is also written by a rather experience screen writer - Jung Yi Do (정이도) who wrote Save Me ( which I liked a lot) , Strangers From Hell ( which I was too scared to watch ) and Item . And fortunately, this drama will be done by OCN, a channel well-known for mystery , thriller and action flicks. Yes, 3 plus points there . Sorry if you had to read me ramble about my excitement ...but if you were looking for a quick synopsis , this was from AsianWiki: Lee Hwa-Sun (Kim Ok-Vin) is a detective at the regional investigation unit of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. She receives a phone call from the person who murdered her husband. Lee Hwa-Sun then travels to Muji City. There, people inhale a mysterious dark smoke and turn into monsters. The residents in Muji City become terrified. Lee Hwa-Sun struggles to save people there and she also chases after her husband's murderer. Meanwhile, Yoo Tae-Han (Lee Joon-Hyuk) has lived in Muji City all of his life. He once worked as a detective, but he had to quit because of a case. He now works as a wrecker driver. His still has his strong of justice, while he is also easy going and a joker. Yoo Tae-Han now faces his city falling into chaos because of the dark smoke that causes people to turn into monsters. He joins Lee Hwa-Sun to save people in Muji City. So the key thing to note is the description of LJH's character here. Yes, seems like oppa is a good guy . Whoopee ! Ahh would this be like his character in 365 Repeat The Year since he was clearly so adorable there? What caused him to quit ? Would there be romance ? Danger is always a great vehicle for romance :D As you can see I already have so many questions and cannot wait till this airs . - written by abs-oluteM- Director: Kim Bong-Joo Writer: Jung Yi-Do Network: OCN (will also be aired on TVN) Episodes: 12 Expected Broadcast Date: 30 April 2021 (Friday) Run time : Fri. & Sat. 22:50
  10. G L I T C H Broadcast station: Netflix Schedule: 2021 About the Show: About a woman searching for her missing boyfriend, who disappeared one night in a flash of unknown lights. With the help of a community of UFO watchers, she uncovers the truth behind a mysterious secret. Hong Ji Hyo is a “parachute hire” (someone who got hired based on their family connections). She has a steady job and a solid family background. Although they are no longer passionately in love, she also has a boyfriend that she’s dated for four years. The couple is beginning to think of marriage when her boyfriend suddenly goes missing. (source: soompi) Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Comedy, Sci-Fi
  11. Looking forward to this since this will be Kim Rae Won's return to the silver screen after a 3-year break. He will be joined by the gorgeous Lee Da Hee who made her mark in Search: WWW and The Beauty Inside. Synopsis from AsianWiki /Soompi/ MDL: “LUCA,” which stands for Last Universal Common Ancestor, is a concept inspired by Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” in which the scholar first proposed the theory of universal common descent from a shared ancestor. The upcoming drama will tell the story of an elite scientist who, after facing personal hardship, creates a new living organism to speed up the process of human evolution. Ji-O (Kim Rae-Won) has a special power and a secret, but he doesn't know who he really is. He is chased by mysterious figures, while he tries to find answers to numerous questions that surround him. Goo-Reum (Lee Da-Hee) is a detective. When she decides on a course of action, she won't change no matter what. Her parents disappeared when she was only a young child. Goo-Reum chases after the truth behind her parents' disappearance. She meets Ji-O and her life changes. Director: Kim Hong-Sun Writer: Chun Sung-Il Network: tvN Episodes: ( I once read that it was 10 /12 episodes - TBC) Release Date: February 1, 2021 -- Runtime: Monday & Tuesday 21:00 Cast Kim Rae-Won - Ji-O Lee Da-Hee - Goo-Reum Kim Sung-Oh - Yi-Son Kim Sang-Ho - Choi Jin-Hwan Park Hyuk-Kwon - Kim Cheol-Soo Ahn Nae-Sang - Ryu Joong-Kwon Jin Kyung - Hwang Jung-A Kim Min-Gwi - Kim Tae-O Jung Da-Eun - Choi Yoo-Na Lee Joong-Ok - Kim Hwang-Sik Hwang Jae-Yeol - Detective Kim
  12. If I Cheat, I Die "..an uncovential and intense story about adults who do bad things with guilt" - http://mksports.co.kr/view/2020/1082179/ Broadcast station: KBS2 Date: December 2, 2020 - January 28, 2021 Schedule: Wednesday & Thursday, 21:30 KST Genre: comedy/mystery/thriller About: A writer (Cho Yeo Jeong) who thinks only about how to murder people for her stories married a divorce lawyer (Go Joon). He wrote a memo to his wife: "If I cheat, I die." Source: Asianwiki
  13. What would you do or say if a stranger approaches you with the unbelievable opportunity of going back in time — a year earlier — to do it all again? Would you take it? What would you do differently? This is the predicament that detective Ji Hyung-joo, played by the versatile Lee Joon-hyuk, is presented with as he grieves inconsolably over the brutal murder of his beloved partner and brother-in-arms, Park Sun-ho (Lee Sung-wook). He isn’t the only one. 9 others in his cohort are similarly invited to partake in this “reset” — individuals who all carry some kind of emotional baggage and compelling personal reason to get onboard this seemingly farfetched proposition to change the past. What all these individuals have in common is perhaps an inhuman desperation to act. It is almost always the case that time travelling to fix the past in Kdramaland is a dubious notion fraught with problems. It is no different here. For Hyung-joo, things goes well at first immediately after the reset. Armed with foreknowledge he apprehends his partner’s killer preemptively and earn commendation for preventing other related crimes. For Shin Ga-hyeon (Nam Ji-hyun), a popular crime writing web cartoonist, she manages to avoid the car accident that paralysed her waist down but the law of unintended consequences come to haunt her in other punishing ways. Soon, one by one, members of the reset group fall prey to inexplicable deaths which cause our resident detectives to become embroiled in a fight for survival. One of my favourite parts of the show is watching Hyung-joo, initially a second-rate cop grow as a detective and character while navigating the biggest mystery of his career. Lee Joon-hyuk is adorable in the role and especially in his interactions with Nam Ji-hyun. Romance isn’t a key feature here although their chemistry is delightful and there are subtle hints all throughout that these two collaborators have growing feelings for each other. The razor sharp Ga-hyeon is a great sounding board for Hyung-joo who in both his official and unofficial capacity is forced to grapple with a series of deaths related to the “reset” group. Is there something inherent in the reset mechanism that is flawed? Or are there other unknown sinister forces at play? The cast and the performances are undoubtedly the best thing about it and so it should be because as one peels away the insanity one layer at a time, it is clear that this rollercoaster of a drama ultimately about character. Central to the reset idea is its enigmatic proponent, Lee Shin, a clinical psychiatrist whose good intentions of wanting to give people second chances might be a cover for something possibly less altruistic. Her motives are unclear all throughout and the show has viewers questioning them all throughout as she deals with the fallout from the reset. The show benefits greatly from the 12 episode format. The plotting is tight and the mind-bending storyline keeps viewers on their toes. Just when you think you know exactly what’s going on, the show throws in a twist or takes a different turn which leaves you re-evaluating your cherished assumptions. Of course I never expected the show to satisfactorily explain the temporal device although some explanation is offered. In the end the time travelling element is merely a vehicle (no pun intended) for the show to explore age old questions of predestination and individual choice. Plot/story 9 Cast/acting 10 Production values 8 Rewatch Value 8.5
  14. http://img.imbc.com/adams/Program/202010/132470205138721820.jpg Broadcast station: MBC Schedule: October 21 - December 10, 2020 / Wednesday-Thursday / 21:20 (KST) About the Show: The story tells of a wedding dress designer who gets entangled in the world of espionage because of an unexpected event that happened to her best friend. Her ex-husband and current husband are both spies and they have been hiding their secret identity from her. Genre: Romance, Comedy, Thriller Trailers:
  15. The Call 콜 Directed and Written By: Lee Chung Hyun Released: November 27, 2020 Venue: Netflix This film is a thriller involving two women (Park Shin Hye as Seo Yeon, Jeon Jong Seo as Young Sook) who are mysteriously connected by a phone call though they live 20 years apart albeit in the same house. Young Sook is a serial killer who is looking to change the past to change her own fate. Main Cast: Park Shin Hye - Seo Yeon Jeon Jong Seo - Young Sook Kim Sung Ryung - Eun Ae (Seo Yeon's mother) Park Ho San - Mr. Kim (Seo Yeon's father) Lee El - Ja Ok (Young Sook's mother) Oh Jung Se - Seong Ho Lee Dong Hwi - Baek Mi Hyun Trailer
  16. Na I-jae (Namgoong Min) formerly an emergency specialist and surgeon at Taekang Hospital was falsely accused of medical malpractice and served out a three-year prison sentence where he cultivated key relationships and began hatching a revenge scheme against those who put him there. Or so it seems. But as the story unfolds, it is not entirely certain that revenge is all he’s after. The “good” doctor apparently has bigger fish to fry. Using his medical skills, mental acuity and a knack for thinking on his feet, Na I-jae sets his sights on being the medical director of one of the largest penitentiaries in Seoul. Why? According to the premise of this drama, the person who runs the medical facility in the prison wields the greatest power. That person has the authority to control the traffic of prisoners in and out of the penitentiary by exploiting his medical expertise. Not long after his release the ethically flexible I-jae uses his seemingly encyclopaedic knowledge of medical conditions to enable well-connected inmates to appeal for stays of execution to take advantage of this particular loop hole in the judicial system. Our introduction to how Na I-jae works comes from his interaction with O Jung-hee a wealthy businesswoman who allegedly took out a contract on her ex-husband’s mistress. She escapes a prolonged prison stay when Na I-jae manufactures an illness which provides her with a stay of execution. This lady is happy but completely unaware that this is merely the start to a longwinded transactional relationship between them. Early on Na I-jae targets the second son of the Taekang conglomerate, Lee Jae-hwan (Park Eun-seok) who figures in the doctor’s past. The youngster is a no-good wastrel whose drug habit makes him an easy prey for his older half brother. As he heads towards prison, he falls into the clutches of the soon-to-be medical director of Western Seoul penitentiary. This marks the beginings of the crafty doctor’s grand plan to deal with corruption between colluding forces in medicine and Big Business. Na I-jae’s primary adversaries are the former medical director of Western Seoul Prison, Sun Min-sik (Kim Byung-chul) and the ambitious scion of Taekang Group, Lee Jae-jun (Choi Won-young). All three actors of course are well-regarded veterans of the screen and they are seem to play up the villainous side of their respective characters with no lack of enjoyment. The main trio are pros in the way they negotiate, transact and play off one against the other with inhuman energy and resolve. Most of the show’s best moments involve these men bluffing like seasoned card sharps in a poker game. At first glance this drama functions as a protracted David and Goliath battle of wits among the the dubious, the devious and the maniacal. Na I-jae, the man is something of a cipher to those around him. One wonders how he managed to transform himself from being a caring ER doctor into a machiavellian power broker almost overnight. One some level he seems rather too eager to walk on the wild side, as someone who is willing to bend the law, play fast and loose with the hippocratic oath to get the job done. His unscrupulous streak is undeniable.All up he's an outlaw, an avenging angel and a glib negotiator. In short an antihero, beautifully played by the immersive Namgoong Min. Namgoong Min has built his career in the last decade playing villains and antiheroes. He does this it seems to me as an actor playing an actor which really suits here. I-jae is a man with many faces and switches roles when the occasion calls for it. A look, a glance, a trademark gesture, a smirk and a death glare. His instincts for the character, in my opinion, are absolutely right on the money. Na I-jae doesn’t exactly have friends. Perhaps a man in his position can’t afford to. But what he has are allies - an interesting assortment of individuals who throw their lot in with him when they are backed into a corner by his machinations or perceive a common cause when he achieves the right results. One of his most important allies is psychiatrist Han So-geum (Kwon Na-ra) who is searching for her brother Han Bit who seems to have disappeared off the surface of the earth. Han BIt is connected to Taekang and was working as analyst there when the former chairman collapsed in his office. Han So-geum does psychiatric sessions with the mercurial Lee Jae-jun and handily provides insight into his character as Na I-jae adapts his schemes accordingly. A reluctant ally in the cause is Prosecutor Jung Ui-sik (Jang Hyun-sung) who is dragged into the fray but bread crumbs fed to him by Na I-jae. He throws fake tantrums about being led around but at the end of the day he has enough a conscience to do the right thing. His push and pull with O Jung-hee is hilarious and they end up having the show’s only real romance. Speaking of Han So-geum and O Jung-hee, the show has a lovely parade of good female characters. It’s the advantage, I think of not having romance front and centre of the interactions. Apart from them, there’s also Lee Jae-in (Lee Dae-in) , the immensely competent sister of Lee Jae-hwan who is a much better candidate to run the family business. Their mother Mo Yi-ra has her moments. Furthermore Dr Bok Hye-soo, a staff member of the prison becomes an important part of the gang later in the story. Despite the high stakes game that’s being played here, the show has a fun vibe with plenty of laughs to be had. It games plausibility with joyful abandon. At times it’s a little bit Count of Monte Cristo, at other times it feels like Ocean’s 11 or The Italian Job. Some might accuse it of being over-the-top and there’s some obligatory melodrama but I revel in the cleverness of the crazy plot. In a way I'm glad that I watched it after its initial airing. It would have killed me having to wait week after week after the nail-biting, edge-of the seat cliffhangers. Even within each episode there are all kinds of nerve-wrecking moments... and they allow for Na I-jae to show off his adaptability and agility. Story/Plot: 9 Storytelling: 10 Acting: 10 Production Values: 10 Rewatch Value: 8
  17. Broadcast Starion : TVN Schedule: 2020-08-15 to 2020-10-04 Saturday & Sunday, 2100 Airing: NetFlix Nationwide & TVN Duration: 60 minutes About the Show : The prosecutor's office and the police find themselves on opposing sides. The prosecutors, including elite prosecutor Woo Tae Ha, want discretionary power over investigations. Meanwhile, the police, including Choi Bit, tries to get complete investigative authority that is independent of the prosecutor's office. Under this tense situation, Prosecutor Hwang Shi Mok and Detective Han Yeo Jin chase after the truth in a hidden case. Source : Asianwiki Genre: Thriller Drama Investigation Drama Crime
  18. After spending 18 years in Seoul biding his time, Bong Sang-pil (Lee Joon-gi) returns to Gisung, the place he spent as a child with his working mother. It is also where he last saw his mother alive. Sang-pil barely escaped with his life and went to live with his gangland boss uncle (Ahn Nae-sang). As soon as the stars align ie. when a series of circumstances come into play, Sang-pil immediately heads back to his hometown in readiness to execute his scheme to take down those who are responsible for his mother’s death. One event includes the suspension and sacking of another lawyer, the hot headed Ha Jae-yi (Seo Yea-ji), also an immigrant from Gisung. Although it isn’t immediately apparent, he’d been observing her for a while. Eventually she becomes embroiled in his big revenge plot. Sang-pil lives up to his appellation as a badge of honour, coming across more as a smooth-talking hustler than a serious trial lawyer. All of that belies a steely resolve and a deep personal anguish to see justice done. He keeps a statue of Lady Justice close-by as a reminder that he will exploit the law as his weapon to do what is necessary to right past wrongs. In their early interactions, Jae-yi is suitably unimpressed with Sang-pil who seems to her more like a trashy gangster who resorts to unethical means to get his way. Sang-pil’s greatest adversary, and the real power behind Gisung is Judge Cha Moon-seok (Lee Hye-young) who is something of a cult figure in the city for her impartial judgments and charity work. In so doing she has built a reputation for being a champion for the underdog. Her late father was also a revered judge. Away from public scrutiny and when the altruistic facade is allowed to drop, Cha Moon-seok is revealed to be a highly corrupt, unconscionable and hugely ambitious political aspirant. Through her the show moralizes about the attribution of god-like status to mere mortals and the problem with blind and mindless devotion. Cha Moon-seok uses her currency as the people’s judge (and her father’s daughter) to wield unchecked power behind the scenes. She is in effect the Queen of Gisung as depicted by all the kowtowing done by her bootlicking minions. According to rumours from certain quarters, Cha Moon-seok was patterned after SK’s first female president, Park Gun-hye who is now serving a 25-year term in prison for bribery and corruption. One of her more prominent subjects is the mercurial An O-ju (Choi Min-su) who has attained a measure respectability as the CEO of a conglomerate despite his lowly beginnings as an insignificant lowlife He does the judge’s dirty bidding and cleans up where necessary. An O-ju is a fascinating figure because despite his background, he isn’t necessarily content to be the judge’s lap dog perpetually. He too demonstrates a flair for the game that he is inevitably drawn into. As Lawless Lawyer is less a crime show and more a revenge-political drama, it’s never any mystery who the conspirators are. What we’re privy to is a cat and mouse game initiated by Sang-pil and Co against the Goliaths of the city starting from the bottom feeders of the food chain. Our titular antihero sets up shop where his mother once had her law practice and manages to co-opt the idealistic Jae-yi to be his reluctant office manager as well as a motley crew of former loansharks. They are the show’s unerring comic relief. The show flies off to a promising start moving at breakneck speed from set-up to Sang-pil’s opening move in his chess game. After receiving a mysterious notebook and Jae-yi’s sacking from her law firm, he jumps into his flashy sports car and into an unknown future. While the show remains entertaining and lively for the most part, it never reaches the pinnacle of its potential as far as plot is concerned. Even if there are Count of Monte Cristo resonances, the juggling act is seldom as adept as other more recent equivalents like Money Flower or Doctor Prisoner. The first half of the show is excellent and loads of fun but then it suffers from a repetitive and weaker third act. I would say in all frankness that the cat and mouse game as it played out lacked the stamina to go the distance. Thankfully though there are some nice action sequences to distract us some of the time which involves the multi-talented and exceedingly agile Lee Joon-gi who does all his own stunts. As a whole the stellar lineup do their best. There’s no doubt every character is well-cast. The veterans Lee Hye-young and Choi Min-su are scene stealers. Choi Min-su often chews the scenery. Both Cha Moon-seok and An O-ju are certainly depicted as larger-than-life characters. They also divert the audience from the flaws of the final act especially when it feels as if the writer has run out of good ideas. While Lee Joon-gi and Seo Yea-ji do a great job with what they’ve been given, (Lee Joon-gi gives a reliably nuanced performance) their characters are often overshadowed by the villains of the piece. The show does a decent enough job taking advantage their terrific onscreen chemistry but theirs isn’t a slow burn romance by any stretch of the imagination which did cause some controversy at the time. Nothing in this show can be accused of moving slowly. As far as memory serves at least. Mention should also be made of the rip-roaring introduction and closing OSTs. It’s one of the highlights in this largely entertaining and good-natured romp. Plot: 8 Storytelling: 7 Cast/Acting: 10 Production Values: 8.5 Rewatch Value: 7
  19. The mention of OCN firsts last week set me thinking about what mine was. After some mulling over I came to the conclusion that it was something called The Virus (2013) which I don’t have a great deal of recollection about. But what makes it vaguely memorable is that it led me to my second OCN drama, TEN which heralded the start of my love affair with the “Only Crime Network”. During The Virus’ original run, ads for TEN S2 were also broadcast. They looked sufficiently eye-catching that I thought I should do a proper job and begin from the beginning. TEN is an all-time favourite for many reasons. It’s a well-written, stylish police procedural that delves into complex, puzzling cases working from the template laid down by the likes of Criminal Minds and Wire in the Blood. The atmosphere is often bleak and moody reflecting the deathly content. The action revolves around a criminal investigation team that handles the most violent crimes occurring domestically. The “ten” comes from the fact that these violent crimes usually have less than 10% arrest rate. This elite team comprises of 4 members (rookie in tow) with a variety of detection and profiling skills as well as policing experiences. The main reason why this show has a special place in my heart is because it is the first Korean police drama that I came across in my early days watching K dramas that I didn’t have to urge to throw things at. It became a great comfort to me that South Koreans are capable of producing good crime shows and OCN is where it’s at. From then on I’ve been an avid follower of the cable network’s offerings… for better or worse. Like with many other OCN shows, it is pre-requisite that the viewer come with a strong stomach. Violent crimes does mean violence… the whole bloody ball of wax. The team is spearheaded by Yeo Ji-hoon (Joo Sang-wook) a renowned criminologist-profiler (after the manner of Gideon and Hotchner) whose motto is “become a monster to catch a monster”. He has a tragedy in his past that drives him to extremes. Back Do-sik (Kim Sang-ho) is the veteran cop who has a couple of decades of field work under his belt. The other talented profiler in this team is the outwardly cheerful Nam Yi-re (Jo-An), psychology honours graduate who has an uncanny ability to read people accurately. Team Ten’s rookie is Choi Woo-shik’s Park Min-ho who doubles as Ji-hoon’s apprentice. The drama follows the unit on a series of knotty problems from domestic crimes to serial deaths. Nothing is what they seem on first appearance. In the first case, the catalyst for the team’s eventual formation, members of the would-be-team are drawn from different vantage points to the murder of a young woman whose twin sister becomes the chief suspect. Ji-hoon’s interest is piqued because it resembles a series of unsolved killings from several years earlier involving women tied up in duct whose fingers are cut up while still alive. The pilot with its convoluted plot and introduction to the team is longer than a normal tv episode playing for about 2 hours. In the time honoured tradition of cop shows, it’s inevitable that cops with different investigation styles butt heads at first. Do-shik, who is old school to the core is sceptical of the new fangled methods but eventually comes to have grudging respect for members of his team when the unit becomes a raging success apprehending culprits in difficult cases in record time. Ji-hoon is aloof and arrogant in Sherlock Holmes fashion but he respects genuine ability when he sees it. On some level, the drama has something to say about team building and necessity for teams to have diversity of approaches and perspectives to achieve success. Each member has their part to play and there are lessons they learn from each other in every case they work. My two favourite cases involve serial deaths. The first one sees bodies disposed of in ritualistic fashion close to a popular recreational mountain trail. Each is accompanied by a biblical quote apparently condemning the victim of some previous crime. While trying to solve the murders, the team work against the clock and a persistent killer to prevent more deaths from occurring. As the investigation progresses it becomes evident that behind the killings is a deep grievance. The second of my favourites is a serious of inexplicable suicides that references The Doors and Jim Morrison explicitly. Do-shik gets a call from a former colleague nicknamed “Dog Nose” who dies before he can say anything. His body is marked by multiple stab wounds which gets Do-shik on the case. He retraces Dog Noses’ steps, dragging Yi-re along. The deceased cop apparently lived up to his sobriquet as he was able to sniff out drugs on from a series of suicide victims which set him on the trajectory to his demise. Soon everyone on the team gets onboard after some inter-departmental wrangling to prove that there’s something far more sinister going on than suicide. As a long time crime buff, TEN is a dream watch. The cases have depth and are mentally stimulating. It’s comparable with the best of the best from the UK and the US. The storytelling is top-notch and engaging on every level. It’s a joy to watch the team work and how their minds play out the solution of the individual cases. Each member is unique and have their own story arc that's integrated into the bigger story. It should be noted that the first season does end on a cliffhanger with Ji-hoon’s disappearance but that is resolved over the course of the second series. The second series although fascinating loses the freshness of the first. As I revisit portions of the drama for this review, I feel a certain nostalgia for it. Despite having watched many crime shows from Kdramaland since, this drama, the first season especially, has a classic feel to it that calls for a rewatch. It has aged well. The actors are noticeably younger but it was this show introduced me to all of them. When I see the actors in different dramas from time to time, I still wonder when we’re going to get a third season. Plot: 9.5 Storytelling: 10 Cast: 9 Production Values: 8 Rewatch Value: 9
  20. When the Camellia Blooms 동백꽃 필 무렵 Director: Cha Yeong Hoon Writer: Lim Sang Choon Original Broadcast: Sept 18 - Nov 21, 2019 Original Broadcast station: KBS2 Genre: Romantic Comedy, Thriller Main Cast: Gong Hyo Jin - Oh Dong Baek Kang Ha Neul - Hwang Yong Shik Kim Ji Seok - Kang Jong Ryul Kim Kang Hoon - Kang Pil Gu Notable Supporting Cast: Son Dam Bi - Choi Hyang Mi/ Choi Go Eun Oh Jung Se - No Gyu Tae Yeon Hye Ran - Hong Ja Young Some background: Anticipation was high for this drama since it was Kang Ha Neul’s first drama on returning from his military service. Kang Ha Neul’s return was eagerly anticipated as one of the leading men of his generation, truly comfortable on stage, musical theater, screen, and film, having both an exquisite timing for comedy as well as the acting gravitas to draw you into the darkness of a pained or flawed character, and an amazing singing voice. Gong Hyo Jin is a veteran actress who has been playing female leads for quite some time now, and is famous for having amazing chemistry with her leads and helping them shine in their roles. Kim Ji Seok has been steadily building his resume in a number of supporting roles as well as a few leading roles, going from strength to strength. The true revelation in this drama, however, may be the young actor Kim Kang Hoon who plays Kang Pil Gu. While having acted in quite a number of projects, this drama turned KKH into a star, and for a child actor, he receives significant screen time with all three leads as well as having solo scenes in this drama. The set up and review: Oh Dong Baek (Gong Hyo Jin) is the attractive single mother of Kang Pil Gu (Kim Kang Hoon) who is in elementary school and shows talent as a young baseball player. DB had PG with her first love/serious boyfriend, a professional baseball player Kang Jong Ryul (Kim Ji Seok), but had left him before he was even aware that she was pregnant. JR went on to marry another woman much later after DB had left him, but has never been able to forget her. Hwang Yong Shik (Kang Ha Neul) is a police officer who had grown up in the town that DB and PG now live in, and had moved to Seoul to work, but was recently transferred back t his home town. YS falls for DB as soon as he sees her. DB and PG live in the fictional small coastal town of Ongsan where DB runs a bar, which leads to the other townswomen’s disapproval as both an unmarried mother of a child who also runs a bar. She is shown as being very nice and has an inferiority complex about herself, accepting most disapprobation directed at her, though she’s not spineless when it comes to the people she cares about. This leads her young son PG, though, to fight on her behalf with his friends and coming to her defense whenever he hears of his mother being under attack, having a fiery temper of his own. There is a rather heartbreaking scene in the second act where PG demands of his mother why he, a first grader, should be protecting his mother when his mother should be the one to protect him. When his flabbergasted mother asks him why he does that, he responds that it’s because he’s the only one in the world who likes his mother, and everyone else dislikes her. This scene speaks to the relative isolation and loneliness of DB which is also affecting her young son, though she wasn’t quite aware of that before. PG also has no interest in knowing about his father, because as he says, it’s better to not ever have one than to have one and then get him taken away from him. Back during their first love days, DB and JR had been crazy in love with each other. They had been planning on getting married until DB left JR with a note and no way for JR to find her. The drama shows us the details of why they separated throughout the drama to explain how this passionately in love couple ended up separating, and it’s really a question of immaturity and a lack of self confidence with both DB and JR. Their relationship is such that it left its marks on both of them, though in different ways. JR has gone on to marry a young woman who married him for his popularity than anything else. The wife is shown as being very immature and narcissistic rather than truly evil. JR and his wife have an infant daughter whom JR takes on a popular variety program modeled after Return of Superman which is about dads taking care of the children. So, due to JR being a popular professional ball player as well as on a variety program, DB is aware of how JR seems to be doing and where he is, but has no plans to contact him. However, DB, when she left JR, had run to a town that JR had lived in as a child, and it’s JR’s elementary school that PG now attends and one of JR’s old school buddies who is now the coach of the elementary baseball team. JR comes back to the elementary school to film his segment for the show and meets PG and reconnects with DB. YS is the most straightforward person ever. And, he admits that thinking is not his strong point, that rather he prefers to go with his instincts. Thus, when YS sees a crime in progress, he can’t help but tackle the criminals without thoughts of any costs or damages to himself. It was a nightmare for the police to have YS as a private citizen capturing criminals in the act, but when YS finally became a policeman, it turned out to be a mixed blessing since YS has no idea about politics and being accommodating to his superiors, nor can he restrain himself from teaching perpetrators “lessons” in having manners. It’s his straightforward nature that causes him to recognize that he’s fallen for DB as soon as he sees her, and then being extremely obvious that he likes her to everyone in town. Unfortunately, that also includes his mother who had been hoping that her son will settle down and get married to a nice woman, but her relatively progressive attitudes are put to the test when she realizes that YS likes DB who has a son by another man. Especially since previous to YS falling for DB, YS' mother had taken both DB and her son PG under her wing. YS is also the son of a single mother, albeit a widow who had a total of 3 sons. YS had also spent his formative years defending his mother, so he’s quick to recognize a kindred spirit in PG. YS demonstrates a special affinity with PG even before YS finds out that PG is DB’s son. However, PG is highly suspicious of any man who comes sniffing around his mother. So, some massive spoilers from the first couple of episodes, but the beauty of this drama is in the story of how these characters interact and how their interactions lead to growth and development not just between the main characters, but also their various neighbors and relatives. At heart, this is a family drama which explores various couple and family dynamics as it follows the relationship course of the three main leads plus PG. There are some notable side stories. The most engaging is actually the relationship progression of the relatively not smart optometrist and momma’s boy No Gyu Tae (Oh Jung Se in a very different role to his role in IOTNBO) and the razor sharp lawyer Hong Ja Young (Yeon Hye Ran). No Gyu Tae obviously feels intimidated by his smart wife and has an inferiority complex which leads to some interesting behaviors from him. Because he comes from a wealthy family and is a landowner, GT does like to swan around being the Big Fish in the little pond. The townspeople let GT get away with his puffery because GT is an easy touch when someone needs money and is actually very generous. JY is no nonsense and has become fed up with her husband’s silliness as well as his mother’s attempts to put her, JY, down. It’s not until JY becomes suspicious that GT might be cheating on her that she starts doing something about it, though. GT, for his part, is irritated that DB doesn’t give him the respect and preferential treatment that he feels he deserves, but that causes him to give even more attention to DB and demonstrate suspicious behaviors to his wife. GT is acted by the talented Oh Jung Se who most recently played the intellectually challenged brother in It's Okay To Not Be Okay, and is a bit of a scene stealer. Then there is the issue of the townspeople of Ongsan who are initially shown as almost caricatures of small town people with their pecking orders and narrow points of view, but eventually are shown with a more realistic light of having both good and bad traits. There are also a number of mysteries in this drama. It opens with a serial killer, dubbed the Joker because he leaves notes saying that the victim shouldn’t have joked with him, who has been uncaught for many years, and now seems to have set his sights on DB. Plus, Hyang Mi who helps DB in the bar is rather mysterious though we eventually find out about her tragic past. This drama was a lot of fun to watch, with very few weak points. (A subplot regarding JR’s marriage to his wife being one of them.) The plot itself isn’t the main thrust of this drama either since it’s a rather straightforward rom-com with a bit of crime suspense twist to drive the story. Rather, it’s the various relationships that are formed, broken, strained, but are made resilient that is at the heart of this story. With characters who have flaws and only 1 true villain (the serial killer), it was fun watching their interactions evolve over the course of this drama. And Pil Gu is just adorable in his fierceness and love for his mother, fighting with his instincts to just be a kid. One other note: K-dramas like to title their dramas after their lead characters. So, the Camellia in the title is not only the name of the bar that Dong Baek runs, it also refers to Dong Baek herself since a "dong baek" is a camellia, and this drama is about Dong Baek blooming and finding love, but also claiming her own sense of self. Ratings: Plot/story 8 Cast/acting 10 Production Value 8 Rewatch Value 8 Overall 9
  21. It doesn’t seem all that long ago when I caught this high octane, no holds barred blood and guts fest from OCN. Since then it seems to have developed something of a cult following not so much because of the whodunit side of things (which is entertaining enough) but because of the character dynamics. Detective Oh Goo-tak, a known maverick in the force, nicknamed “Mad Dog”, is tasked with grabbing the scummiest of criminal scum after the police chief loses his son to the murderous whims of a serial killer. Much to the chagrin of his “babysitter”, Inspector Yoo Mi-young, Oh Goo-tak scours the local prison(s) for his talent pool: Park Woong-cheol, a former gangbanger; Lee Jung-moon, a genius level psychopath; Jung Tae-su, a slippery ex-contract killer who, for unknown reasons, turned himself in. The cast as a whole is fantastic. It boasts the likes of Kim Sang-joong, Ma Dong-seok, Park Hae-jin, Jo Dong-hyuk and Kang Shin-il who are perfectly cast in their roles. Less impressive is the expressionless Gang Ye-won as the only female crime fighter on the team’s roster. The premise of using “bad guys” (convicts) to catch other “bad guys” (unconscionable criminals that continue to roam the streets committing wanton mayhem) is made more interesting by the fact that Goo-tak is particularly selective about who he picks. As the show progresses, it’s clear that the 3 men are interconnected in some fashion and Goo-tak has his own agenda playing in the background. This entire exercise as one might expect is related to a personal grievance. It should be said too that Goo-tak lives up to his nickname often pushing the boundaries of the law in his fervour to deal out his brand of vigilante justice. Further on the title, it is an intentional part of the show’s DNA to consider how “bad guys” are made. Although the exploration of evil here isn’t profoundly philosophical, I am reminded of what Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once wrote. “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” There’s a clear acknowledgment all throughout the story that it doesn’t take much for anyone to cross the line and fall into the clutches of crime. If there’s a negative to this terrific drama, it’s perhaps the implausibility of the villain… the ultimate “bad guy” but it’s not a huge deal for me because it can be seen as part and parcel of the narrative to explore the corruptibility of evil. With the combination of skill-sets Goo-tak puts together, the team is an overnight success and there are plenty of good action sequences to be had. They catch killers, break up crime syndicates and rescue victims of crime. Their success doesn’t go unnoticed and soon a shrewd prosecutor Oh Jae-won (Kim Tae-hoon) comes knocking on Goo-tak’s door wanting to get in on the action. Of course he too has his motives for doing this and shows an inexplicably keen interest in Lee Jung-moon, who was convicted not only of killing his own parents but a whole lot of others as well. The best part of the drama for me and the most emotionally satisfying aspect of the drama would be the backstories of our favourite convicts. Not only does each character have their shining moment in the present day exploits but we are given glimpses of their past as their stories and connections unfold in the present. My personal favourite among them would have to be Tae-su’s (ex-contract killer) arc. We are given insight into why he turned himself in and where he got his start in the trade. Jo Dong-hyuk surprised me with his multifaceted performance here. Not to mention a thoroughly genuine badass.The lesson from each of their stories is hammered home repeatedly. Even “bad guys” have their limits, their loyalties and their loves. The good news too is that “bad guys” are not irredeemable. Whatever led them to commit crimes against their fellow humans, they are capable of change to the point that they can make the world a better place to live. Perhaps what they need is a miracle of second chances and in this case, a miracle in the very flawed person of Oh Goo-tak. Overall, the cinematography is something to behold, resembling a big screen production than a television show more often than not. It boasts some great set pieces especially in the punishing fight scenes. The atmosphere is moody and bleak right from the word “go” and is relentless in that regard. Bad Guys plays like panels in an adult graphic novel in its harsh presentation of criminal elements and the people that inhabit that underbelly of society that’s seldom referred to in polite company. It’s there and thankfully most of us would never have to deal with it because of the unsung heroes that walk our streets and protect them. Bad Guys is now available on Netflix. Plot/Story: 8.5 Storytelling: 10 Cast: 9.5 Production Values: 10 Rewatch Value: 8 (I’ve watched it at least 3 times)
  22. "Just like the viewers called Yun Hwa Pyung "Yun Peace" We hope that all the viewers find peace of mind in their hearts & souls. Again, thank you for watching." -Director Kim Hong Soon That was the note and ideation that the director of "Sohn:The Guest" wanted the audience to know. In today's review, we are going to dive in to the story of this fabulous piece. This series hits me hard, mainly because I have never wanted to watch this series. It was after a week of the airing, I have decided watched it, and I fell in love with it. Let's talk about that. Plot The story at first glance, it seems dark and scary. (It's definitely understandable that people would find this piece scary, but believe me. It's more than that.) On the outside, it is deem to be scary, but on the inside when you look at it, there are more than you imagined. A deeper glance to life's lessons and social situations that may relate one's life. One of the story that I would like to dive into, to give you an idea of what I have said... "What so hard about letting someone feel like they are welcomed and not shun them out like social outcasts?" Today we see the one that we love, we could see the pain that the person is going through at work, but they can't do anything about it. The only thing that that person could do, ruined both his and her life altogether. It's the power of rising after the fall that this episode had taught us dearly. Her man was bullied for his constant sweating, being dragged to the staircase by his colleagues as they reprimanded him to no end. He...He just couldn't take it. He sent a text to his wife who was having his child at the time of his death. His wife came back home only to see the sight of him, in the bathroom with blood-stained water coming out of it. She has contemplated of jumping over the edge from the building, that is when They came in. That they feeds on the negative emotions that one had. It's the anger, the darkness that desires. The morale of this chapter, tells us that we got to always stand up bright and strong and not give up. Love the people that we love, cherish them, be strong for yourself and them. Don't blame on others/you/ or anyone. Learn to forgive. (In which I too, am trying to learn and I hope you too as well) Overall, this series taught us the many strong principles in life. I can quote a few episodes, like the Child episode or the man who was paralyse down. There are many more, and it's up to you to uncover it. Though I recommend it, the only part that I felt that it could be better, it's the last episode...Had they made the final boss scenes a little longer with more actions like hunting down a victim of his anger, it would had been so much better. But, hey...I got what I wanted, I shouldn't complain about it. Plot - 9.5/10 Casting/Acting Now, I applaud the acting of all of the third main characters, I would say that I give them a 100% in acting, especially for the last episode of the series. Main takeaway from these three is that, you will notice that their acting gets more and more emotional after each episode. The three characters have their own arcs of emotions and they are very different as well. Yun Hwa Pyung (Kim Dong Wook) his arc starts out from being this forceful kid to a manly man who is willing to take what the evil wants upon himself to save other. Choi Yoon (Kim Jae Wook), he starts off cold but as the time goes by he starts to open up to the rest while getting cursed every episode to the point that he was vomiting blood and turning frail. Kang Kil Young(Jung En Chae), she honestly starts off as someone whom I really don't like, because she starts off as a very strong cop who blocks our main leads from achieve theirs goals. As the time goes by, we can see that she starts to soften up and become someone who actually cares for the leads. The cast members really acted well in this and I can see no one who can replace them. In no way did I felt out of touch from the characters, they really stand out and make everything very chilling when tricky situations are portrayed to them. Acting - 9/10 Production Value Let's be honest here, the production values in this is marvellous to the point where it really helps to boast the aesthetics of the story. The constant usage of blue and orange lighting (Occasionally green as well) really hits the spot for me. As it is not that bright, your eyes feels very comfortable, if you were to watch it at night. (Trust me, it's worth it!) Production Values - 8.5/10 Re-watch Value Can you believe it? After I was done with this series, I have not re-watched it? Even though I would love to re-watch this...But I can only re-watch this if I were to wash my brain off about who is the spirit possessing. Even though it's good, but sadly, if you know who that person is, it no longer bare the hype as to when you first saw it. I have to say, if you are okay with it, you can still watch it again, for all the characters! Re-watch Value - 8.5/10 If you ever choose to watch this, Hwa Pyung and Park Il Do will come by smiling saying thank you for watching!
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