Secret Garden, the first 2 episodes

[I’m really excited to introduce my fourth guest blogger to you. Michael, whom some of you may know as mhugh from Soompi, is a good friend whose writing and opinions I have always valued. Please welcome him!]

When Thundie first asked me about being a guest writer for her blog, I thought long and hard (okay, at least a few seconds) about how to best do this. I asked myself the question, why do people come to a blog like this? To get information about a certain movie or drama, of course, but ultimately I think they come to help them decide if they should spend roughly two hours on a movie and anywhere from 16 to 60 hours on average to watch a drama themselves.

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Damo, the Undercover Lady Detective (MBC 2003)

Do you subscribe to the belief that “you never forget your first love”? It’s a lovely sentiment, but in reality not always true. We forget stuff all the time, including poignant memories such as a first love. [Like, I recently forgot I was married with kids, and attempted to buy a ticket to Japan to stalk a certain shiny, crooked toothy-grinned, newly muscular, spacey fluff-ball, only to regain my sanity memory, right before I clicked the Buy button. Disaster and marriage counseling averted].

Memory loss nothwithstanding, do you still remember the first time you de-lurked? In whatever context, whichever forum, you typed the first tentative comments about a drama that moved you. Armed with that little ounce of courage in announcing your presence in the drama-verse, I applaud you. This review has been inspired by the devotees of dramas world-wide.

When you really love something, you pour your heart and soul into it. And it shows. I want to share with you such a drama. From the first frame to the last lingering shot, every detail is exquisite, every emotion is genuine. While not the best drama I have ever watched, I absolutely, unequivocally, love it. [I once wrote that I loved a drama so much I wanted to marry it and have its babies. I probably have a tendency to be effusive, and I don’t want to become the koala who cried wolf (every drama is the “Best Drama EVAR!!!”). I promise to fight my natural inclination to pile on the accolades, and try to be objective here].

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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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What Happened in Bali

(SBS 2004; alternative titles: Memories of Bali, Something Happened in Bali)

First, a big Ni Hao shout-out to all my chingus in dramaland (and a warning that what you are about to read may contain snippets of a newly discovered language I hereby dub KorChinGlish – trademark pending). Second, a happy wave to Thundie for allowing me a return trip to her blog. And finally, I’m back with a follow-up attempt to entertain you, with a K-drama review which I hope answers the age-old question everyone has been dying to know.

What the heck happened in Bali?

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Favorite Female Roles (Part 1)

Here is Part 2 of our Favorite Roles poll. Part 1 is here.

Twenty actresses and seven of their most recent or most famous roles. (They must have at least seven to qualify for this poll. Sorry, Yoon Eun-hye.) Again, in random order except for the one who reigns deservedly at the top: Korea’s first win at Cannes for Best Actress.

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Anticipating Jeon Woo Chi

Is it December yet? The reason I’m asking is because around the time the streets and malls are going to be packed with merrymakers and carolers, my most anticipated movie is going to be released.

Why am I so hyped up about Jeon Woo Chi, a film about an ancient Taoist monk teleported into modern Seoul? Well, do you know who’s the male lead? And have you seen him in a period movie? I present Exhibit A below:

See? Now you realize why Duelist reminds me of the following quote by Rumi:

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Two-word Sunday: Ha Ji-won

Lest readers think Two-word Sunday is really Two-word Male Sunday, may I introduce our first actress to grace this weekly series?

I first watched her in Ditto where she played a supporting role as friend of one of the main characters. Next came Damo where she made me weep like a skinned cat. In Daddy-Long-Legs she was that sweet girl writing to an unknown benefactor and walking around with a huge teddy bear on her back. Then came Duelist, that movie that makes me feel like I’m undergoing hypnosis each time I watch it. (Hmm, what’s with all the titles beginning with the letter D?) In What Happened in Bali I wanted to throttle her for making So Ji-sub cry. (And for enjoying more than one juicy kiss with him.) And now her latest movie is My Love By My Side where she stars opposite Kim Myung-min!

Meet the beautiful and talented Ha Ji-won.

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