Frights of fancy

An unbridled imagination, it goes places. Just ask me.

So three days ago I was watching Episode 5 of Tree With Deep Roots. Rather listlessly, I confess, because I was still bummed about a certain someone’s exit the previous episode. Friends raved about Han Seok-kyu’s acting and how it was helping them to be, you know, more forward-looking about the drama. Backward-looking me, however, didn’t think his King Sejong was exceptional; he was solid as expected, nothing more and nothing less. I also found the characterization of the two Sejongs to be so disparate as to be jarring. Yawning even though the night was still early, my drowsy mind half-contemplated two thoughts: Bail now. Bail after Episode 6.

And then it happened. A flashback that jolted me awake.

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When we disagree: K-bones of contention

It began innocently enough.

Someone tweeted, and also clucked disapprovingly, that Kim Bum had been added to the cast of the upcoming Noh Hee-kyung drama, Padam Padam. That announcement set off a twitter debate that Serendipity has aptly christened The (Fifth) Noona Wars. Poor Kim Bum’s ears must have itched like crazy yesterday as we argued about his acting in The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry, whether he was smirking, why he dyed his mane silver, and if he was dialing up his sexiness. His good pal got dragged into the fray and soon the debate veered into Is Lee Min-ho Hot? territory, among other things (and I shan’t elaborate on these “other things”).

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What makes a good drama?

In the last few days I have watched dramas so fine I don’t feel worthy, and dramas so farcical* they make a mockery of the whole genre.

*(In case you’re wondering, no, I’m not referring to Boys Over Flowers.)

Whether a drama is brilliant or a piece of crap, it affects me. I may feel elated or insulted; rarely do I feel nothing. The feelings may dissipate after a while, or they may hang around for a long time. For all the hours I spend on my kdramas—watching, thinking, and writing about them—I hope my brain is getting a beneficial workout. The day when I watch uncaring about quality is the day when it’s time to move on and look for a new obsession hobby.

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Mid-Year Report Card (Part 1)



With just a few days left in July 2010, I thought it would be fun for us to take stock of the dramas that have aired so far.

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Sageuk Awards

Was it six years ago? A man and a woman at night, she bleeding from a wound on her shoulder, he tending so gently to the wound. Their voices are as soft as the breeze is light. As they walk home afterwards, cherry blossoms flutter around them, like a million pink and white lights aglow in the dark.

Even now, six years later, I can’t speak of my first sageuk (Korean historical or period drama) without a lump suddenly forming in my throat. Damo changed my life, literally flinging me over the edge into the depths of kdrama addiction. It marked the beginning of a love affair that has continued to grow; both my top movie and drama are period ones and I don’t see any other genre coming along to topple them, in the foreseeable future or otherwise.

Damo stayed at the top of my favorites list for a long time, but the day finally came when I had to sadly acknowledge that another drama would take its place. So it has been, this game of musical chairs, this rotation of faves and favored. I’m not alone. One of the contributors to this post sent me this note along with her picks: “I RESERVE THE RIGHT TO CHANGE MY MIND.” (See how passionate we sageuk fans are? Haha.)

So here we are, a special post on my favorite genre. Six dear friends, all familiar names in the Kdrama community, responded enthusiastically to my invitation to participate in this poll of sorts. Nine categories in all (because it’s obvious thundie can’t count; she thought she listed ten), with picks that I’m sure will delight or dismay you. Wrapping up the post is a hilarious and insightful look at how sageuk and wuxia stack up against each other.

Many thanks (and cups of coffee) to ockoala (who wrote the sageuk/wuxia piece), dahee, dramaok, hjkomo, javabeans and His Grumpiness misterX. All of you inspire me every day to be a more discerning viewer.

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