Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fashion Face-off Friday: Terrible Kdrama Date Outfits

The votes are officially in for our last Fashion Face-off Friday, and once again, we have a tie!  Gil Ra Im was winning by a landslide for a while, but Goo Jae Hee's feeble attempts at masculinity caught up in the end!  Let's see if we can make this next one a solid, clean victory...

As we all know, the makeover is a staple of k-drama-dom.  The dorky girl gets whisked away, and the man of her dreams gasps at her beauty as she walks into the room, transformed.  For many k-drama viewers, the makeover is a payoff for putting up with absurdly awkward costumes/hair for the first half of the series, but sometimes the payoff just isn't as satisfying as it should be.  For this week's Fashion Face-off Friday, I bring you supposedly awesome date outfits gone wrong!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I Wish My Life Were a Kdrama: Expectation vs. Reality

I wish my life were a Korean drama. I don't think I'm alone in this. Judging sheerly by the number of fantastic kdrama fangirls we follow on Pinterest, many women feel the same way to some extent. The difference is that I seriously expect that my life will still turn out like one. Now I know this may sound delusional, but hear my reasoning out:

5 Reasons I Expect My Life to Be Like a Kdrama

Photo Source
1. Most kdrama female leads live in the
booming metropolis of Seoul. I don't think romantic comedy kdramas ever take place anywhere else. Now, I'm not so delusional as to believe that I really will meet Lee Min Ho and marry him and end up living in Seoul (although I won't rule that out), but the American romantic comedy equivalent location is New York City. I live in New York City! I have lived here for nearly six months and have had the expectation that my life would magically become a romcom from day one. I still just know that it will.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

When All You Need Is a Good Cry: Scent of a Woman Kdrama Review

My natural inclination is to watch Korean romantic comedies, but sometimes I just need a good cry, and there's nothing like a good korean melodrama to make your tears run dry. It's hard for me to get into most melodramas because I am not really in to being sad during my escapes from reality. However, one day my kdrama fangirl mother recommended that I watch Scent of a Woman, and I followed her advice because I'm 28 now and past the stage where you think everything your parents say is stupid. It turns out that my mother was right and I really enjoyed my first melodrama. There, I said it! Mothers do know everything. Thanks mom! So here are the top three reasons you should watch Scent of a Woman:

1. The Transformation of the Female Lead
The thing that almost made me quit this drama was ultimately the thing that made me love it the most. In order for it to be a fulfilling and worthwhile story, the characters in dramas must experience some kind of growth and change. Along this line, most kdrama female leads start out as either passive, or socially awkward, or badly dressed, or selfish, or any combination of these traits. The pitiful, awkward, and badly dressed female lead in Scent of a Woman, Lee Yeon-Jae, irritated me so much at the beginning! It was painful to watch how passive and downtrodden she was.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Finding My K-Drama Alter-Ego: A Gentleman's Dignity Review

I have this theory that you can learn pretty much anything you need to know about a person by asking them which Disney character they relate to the most (not which one they wish they could be, which is very different).  For example, my friends have told me on more than one occasion that I remind them of the evil asylum man in Beauty and the Beast.  Enough said.

Over years of asking people this question, I've noticed that 90% of women will claim that they most resemble Belle or Mulan.  At first, this seemed like complete arrogance because, let's face it, no one is as great as Belle, but then I realized that it wasn't a lie: for all introverted nerds out there, Belle really is the best (though idealized) Disney character match.  For socially awkward tomboys, it's Mulan.

I think I've found my Belle of the k-drama world in Seo Yi Soo of A Gentleman's Dignity.  I have a hard time relating to most k-drama leading ladies because they are either sassy loudmouths who are infinitely better at beating people up than I am, or they are sad puppies who don't understand even basic social cues.  In fact, this is why, in spite of her mad chemistry with lead actors, I can't quite join the Yoon Eun Hye fanclub like Coco has.  Eun Hye's characters are often so blatant and socially unaware with their emotions that it makes me uncomfortable as a viewer. (Stop standing in front of his car and crying like a maniac! He doesn't even know you're a girl!)
Fine, Yi Soo, you win me over with your poise and your charm
and your potted plant!  Now give me those clothes!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Time Travel and Track Suits: Rooftop Prince Review

As I mentioned in our "Best Kdrama Recommendations for Beginners"  post, Rooftop Prince is a great place to bridge the gap between rom coms and full-on historical dramas.  It mostly takes place in the present, but it has just enough major plot points taking place in the past that you can't just fast forward through those parts. So let's take a look at what makes it tick.

This was a drama that I almost quit after the first episode.  A lot of stuff happened, but I just felt so bored by the whole thing that I wasn't sure if I could continue.  As it turned out, once I just sat back and enjoyed the ridiculous ride, I had a grand ole time.  Am I going to watch Rooftop Prince over and over and over again?  Probably not.  But I would still recommend it to others.

The Best of the Best

Awwww. I want to be their best friend.
The plot was pretty fast-paced, the murder mystery kept me guessing until the end, and the romance was cute, but I feel like all of these positive elements were massively eclipsed by the supremely awesome friendship between Lee Gak and his minions.  They're like a time-travelling F4, only their scenes are funny on purpose instead of on accident. (Can we all just pause and remember Woo-bin's gangsta English and Yi-jung's five-minute-long, super creepy old man saxophone solo in BoF?) These guys were the highlight of the show for sure, and I got giddy every time their wacky "adjusting to modern life" theme song started to play.

They even look the same when they cross dress.
Also, random observation, but speaking of k-drama Hollywood lookalikes, Chi San totally looks like Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot

....I just spent five minutes staring into space reminiscing about all of my favorite scenes with these guys while giggling to myself.  It has short-circuited my ability to think about anything else on this show.  Let's move on, shall we?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fashion Face-off Friday: Korean Female Bowl Cuts, Who Wore it Best?

Results are in for our first Fashion Face-Off Friday: Crazy Man Hair poll, and it's a tie between Lee Min Ho in Boys Over Flowers and Jang Guen Suk in You Are Beautiful! Here is the conversation where ViVi and I discussed the close race. ViVi thought Lee Min Ho won.

Let this be a warning to you when texting your kdrama fangirl bestie that auto correct just does not get it.

For our second Fashion Face-Off Friday, where we celebrate bizarre kdrama styling choices, we examine female bowl cuts. Who ever said bowl cuts never look good on women? Everyone...except kdrama stylists. But let's be positive about this. Some leading ladies pull it off better than others and are a little easier to imagine as desirable to men.  Let's vote on, as far as bowl and extended bowl cuts go, who wore it best!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Personal Taste/Preference Review

I just finished watching Personal Taste/Preference, and I have such strong feelings about it that I'm skipping the other two reviews I've been working on (Rooftop Prince  and A Gentleman's Dignity) to get this one off my chest.  The best analogy I can think of for this drama is when you get to the bottom of a bag of popcorn and you have those half-popped kernels that you eat because they're kind of popcorn-y, but the whole time, you're fully aware that it would be a million times more satisfying if you had just let it cook another 20 seconds.

Personal Taste was my half-popped popcorn.  I watched it and got so close to loving it so many times, and yet I felt like it never really reached the plot's full potential.  Here are some quick observations:

The Good

1. Lee Min Ho:  Obviously.  I was never crazy about him in Boys over Flowers (the crazy poodle hair didn't help), and I haven't gotten around to listening to Coco's rave reviews and watching City Hunter yet, but I'm sold after this drama.  He was dashing and charming and every bit the Korean Ryan Gosling that Coco has been calling him all this time.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fashion Face-off Friday: Crazy Man Hair

One of my favorite things about Korean dramas is the crazy fashion that pops up from time to time.  While many dramas have suave male leads sporting sharp suits, they also have their fair share of bizarre styling choices.  So I want to take some time to embrace these fashion trends with a series of fashion face-offs.  Vote for your favorite challenger in this battle of who wore it worst!

For our first Fashion Face-off Friday, I had to go with one of my favorites: crazy man hair.  Anyone in a historical drama is exempt from this category for trying to be accurate. Let's meet the challengers:

Challenger 1: Taecyeon in Dream High
Maybe this isn't fair because it was stage hair for a dance show, but is that an accordion headband I see?  Like the ones I wore in eighth grade?  Was he wearing stirrup stretch pants too?
Maybe the headband keeps his hair from getting wet with tears.
Or maybe he's crying because of the headband.
Challenger 2: Lee Min Ho in Boys over Flowers

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Best Korean Drama Recommendations, List of Kdrama Suggestions for Beginners

We have compiled a concise list of great Korean drama recommendations for beginners because, let's face it: entering the world of kdramas can be a pretty daunting task. Maybe a friend gushes over them every time you see her, or maybe your Netflix queue keeps recommending them to you, but you just don't know where to begin. These suggestions will help get your feet wet and prepare you for a lifetime of addiction!

ViVi's Picks
Okay, so the first criteria I have for watching a Korean drama for the first time is that it should absolutely be available for streaming without commercials, either on DramaFever or with a commercial-free paid subscription, or Netflix (click here for a current list of kdramas on Netflix). That may seem like a minor point, but the first time watching can be overwhelming if you're used to the 23- or 46- minute breakdown of American television, and cutting out the commercials can really help.  My picks aren't necessarily all of my favorite k-dramas ever (though some of them are pretty high on the list), but I feel like they set the groundwork well to help you know what you're looking for in future dramas.  Happy watching!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Why Do They Say "Fighting!" in Korean Dramas?

I wasn't very far along my Korean drama journey when I heard my first character shout, "Fighting!" It was possibly one of the cutest things I had ever seen. At a moment of discouragement for the female lead, her friend smiled wide, pumped her fists into the air, and said this expression which could only possibly mean, "You can do it! You go girl!" I thought to myself, "I love that! Wouldn't it be nice if we said that in English?" And then I thought to myself, "But wait, that was in English." And then I thought to myself, "Wait, why was that in English? Where do Koreans get that?"

It seems that I was not alone in this chain of thought. I typed in my question to google and a whole slew of people asked it. There are many theories about where it came from, but no real historical answers. To save you the time of weeding through all the explanations, I will give you a concise list of the possible origins of "fighting" aka, "hwaiting" or "paiting" as used by Koreans.

Friday, March 1, 2013

All About Family: Korean Family Terms

The first time you watch a Korean drama, it can be kind of confusing when they throw in titles and terms for people that aren't necessarily used in the United States.  For example, the fact that Jan Di always called Ji Hoo "sunbae" threw me off for quite a while. And by a while, I mean that it still throws me off a little.

Wallow in confusion no longer!  Today I'm going to start with the basics: immediate family terms.  Once you master these, you will be well on your way to understanding family relationships just by hearing the words they use!

Image credit
(Note: Romanized pronunciation spellings can vary based on the source.  The "eo" is written a variety of ways, including "uh," "u," or "o.")

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