Monday, March 15, 2021

Who would have thought eight years?


The Ides of March has come around again and it's time to take stock. It's hard to believe we've been watching Asian dramas for eight years. This year we finished 17 Korean dramas and 5 movies. We watched 7 Japanese dramas and 6 movies. And we saw 3 Chinese dramas. I must admit that we got a little tired and took a long break during Christmas to rewatch some of our favorite older movies. And lately we've been watching the Star Trek movies and Discovery. Some of the Short Treks were pretty cute, and germane to the plot. 


Hospital Playlist was maybe the best drama of the year. It's about five friends from medical school who all end up working at the same hospital. We get stories of their lives, and you haven't lived until you've seen Darth Vader walk into a hospital. It has a lot of heart, and we get both successes and failures of the patients. *****

Spark is a very forgettable mini drama about someone who is touched by a shooting star or something, and thereafter emits electric shocks to anyone who touches him. *

I'll Go to You When the Weather is Nice is a very slow drama that has Park Min Young and Seo Kang Joon living in a small town in the countryside. He has a bookstore and has a secret house on a nearby hill. She helps with her aunt's boardinghouse and discovers secrets about her mother's past. ***

Reply 1988 is an older show we luckily decided to watch. It's about the intertwined lives of the families in one neighborhood, and their five teenagers who are all friends. Crushes on each other come and go. Park Bo Gum is a professional Go player and Song Dong Il is everyone's favorite dad.Very strong show for most of its run, but with a weak ending. *****

One Spring Night is about a couple who meet when the woman stops at a pharmacy and finds she has forgotten her wallet. The pharmacist lets her take the items on the honor system and they slowly get to know each other after that. A little draggy. ***

Champion is a movie about a Korean-American who returns to Korea for an arm-wrestling contest. He gets tangled up in what is possibly his birth family and a couple of cute kids. Stars Ma Dong Seok and Han Ye Ri. Pretty good but not as engaging as I expected. ***

Kkondae Intern stars Park Hae Jin and Kim Eung Soo as a young business manager and his previous boss who becomes an intern in his department. The previous boss had been very mean to him and he is sorely tempted to pay him back. Quite a cute show that peters out in the end. ***

Train is a sci-fi drama about parallel timelines. Yoon Shi Yoon is a successful detective in one timeline and a drunk cop in the other. A murderer gets rid of bodies by dropping them off of a train when it crosses occasionally into a different dimension. Interesting and suspenseful, holds up all the way through. ****

My Unfamiliar Family is about a family of mostly nice people who can't seem to quite get along. Han Ye Ri is the younger daughter who tries to please everyone. The parents are about to get divorced because of secrets they have been keeping for many years, and just can't trust each other. If they would just TALK! ***

Hi Bye Mama is a fantasy where Kim Tae Hee plays a ghost who keeps hanging around her family to watch her young daughter grow up. Starts cute but then wallows way too much in grief, which is very irritating. *

Into the Ring is a funny drama about a woman who makes so many citizen complaints to the city government that they cringe when they see her coming. And then she decides to run for city council. She is very energetic and is able to engage people in her projects, but of course has run-ins with the higher-ups. Stars Nana, *****

#Alive is a movie about zombies taking over Seoul. Yoo Ah In and Park Shin Hye are holed up in their apartments when they see each other across the courtyard and try to help each other escape. ****

Stranger 2 aka Forest of Secrets 2
 is the return of Bae Doona and Cho Seung Woo as a warmhearted police detective and a prosecutor who can hardly connect with emotions at all. They try to cooperate in investigations when their departments are at odds, jockeying for position over each other and concealing evidence. Great sequel to a great original drama. *****

Mystic Pop-up Bar features Hwang Jung Eum as a Joseon-era ghost who has to pay for her misdeeds by helping 100,000 people. She is still trying to finish this task in the present day, and runs a snack tent where she meets people who might be good subjects. She enters their dreams to give them ways to confront their problems. ****

Reply 1994 is the last of the Reply series we watched. It's about a family who runs a boarding house for college students. Go Ara plays the cheerful, energetic daughter who has a love triangle between athlete Yoo Yeon Seok and med student Jung Woo. My opinion, she chose the wrong one, but you could see it coming. *****

Do Do Sol Sol La La Do looked like a super cute drama, with Go Ara as a very cheerful pianist who makes friends with a mysterious neighbor played by Lee Jae Wook. The acting was good and the story was good too up until episode 12 when it tanked. Don't say I didn't warn you. Very bad ending. **

War of Prosecutors aka Diary of a Prosecutor is a slice of life drama about a prosecutors' office in a small town near the seacoast. Jung Ryeo Won plays an over-achieving new prosecutor who tries to take on everyone else's cases. Lee Sun Woong is the long-suffering, kindhearted, experienced prosecutor who has to live away from his family. Relaxing, low-stress drama with many good cases-of-the-week. *****

Mister Zoo is a movie that tries to be cute, with a person wearing a panda suit trying to stand in for a real panda that is stolen. Mostly inept shenanigans but probably good for kids. **

Okay! Madam is a hilarious movie featuring Uhm Jung Hwa, about a family that wins a free trip to Hawaii. On the plane are North Korean agents, a retired North Korean agent, a South Korean agent, a retired South Korean agent, a crew member who always wanted to be an agent, and a terrorist. Hijinks ensue. *****

Your Honor is a story about identical twin brothers, one of whom is a judge, and the other is a criminal. The judge suddenly disappears, and the criminal takes his place, trying to keep the office intern from finding out. Yoon Shi Yoon plays both brothers and Lee Yoo Young is the intern. It's really well done, and you can always tell the brothers apart by their mannerisms. The mother is a piece of work. ****

Run On is a cute, light drama with nice romances. There is a professional sprinter and a translator who does movie subtitles. They amazingly can always talk things out, but they are not as cute as the secondary couple. A businesswoman admires some paintings and wants to meet the artist. He is a sweet and trusting college student, and different from anyone else she knows. Im Si Won, Shin Se Kyung, Sooyoung, and Kang Tae Oh star. ****

Space Sweepers is a motion picture starring Song Joong Ki about people who collect space debris and sell it for recycling. They hear about a dangerous robot made to look like a little girl, and then find her on a derelict ship they haul in. Good special effects, and nice found family story. ****


Princess Jellyfish is a cute drama about extreme fangirls who live together in a share house and try to raise money to keep it when the landlord decides to sell. Tsukimi designs a dress inspired by her favorite jellyfish, and they make more to try earn money. A fashion show put on by shy nerds and a crossdresser is a novelty. ****

Criminologist Himura and Mystery Writer Arisugawa is an easygoing drama based on characters resembling Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The cases seem to be separate at first, but then they become interconnected. ***

Is This Love Checkmate? A shy salaryman meets an older woman who plays shogi. Fairly light except for the stalker storyline, that doesn't really fit in. **

Under the Miracle Cherry Tree is about a high school student who had died and reappears seven years later. His friends react in different ways, some with complacence, some with nostalgia or regret. Over time we find out why he came back. Very thoughtful and sweet. ****

You Are My Destiny is about a woman who is a doormat and people at the office put sticky notes on her for jobs they want her to do. She has a drunken one-night-stand with an heir to a big company, who encourages her to be more assertive but then leaves her.  And she finds out she is pregnant. Very forgettable, unsatisfactory ending; I had to look it up to see what this was. *

Choose Spouse by Lottery is a drama inspired by the low birth rate in Japan. The government sets up blind dates for people, hoping for marriages and more babies. We get to know a core of people and problems they have that explain why they are still single, and would be difficult match up with a spouse. They are coping with Asperger's, overweight, shyness, over-high expectations, are stuck on someone they can't get, or are gay. This is very thoughtful actually, and has well-drawn characters. ****

Ex-Enthusiasts is about people who keep longing for their ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend. We get someone who is afraid to commit, one who longs for someone who married someone else, and one who gives up a relationship to move away for a better job. Some of these resolve and some don't. ***

My  Retirement, My Life is a movie about a widower who thinks he can veg out and relax when he retires, but his daughter is tired of taking care of him and has her own plans. He makes friends with people at a neighborhood exercise class, meets a pretty divorcee, and joins an odd-jobs group. Quietly entertaining, sometimes funny. ****

Tori Girl is a movie about a girl who joins her college human-powered flight club. They are competing with other colleges to fly over Lake Biwa, and they recruit her because she is a good cyclist. She is interested because of a cute boy in the club. Well done and amusing, sometimes exciting as well. ****

Today's Kira Kun is a boring movie about a high school girl who is bullied and then befriended by a popular boy, who her parents don't want her to date because he has heart disease. The official synopsis is annoying because it touts a parrot who sits on her shoulder. There is no parrot. There is a cockatiel, but it doesn't sit on her shoulder either. I would've given more points for the parrot. **

Till Death Do Us What is a different sort of movie about a man whose wife has died, and he keeps seeing her everywhere, and even talks to her. He has written up their story in a blog, and she wants him to make it into a book and put more of her own viewpoint into it. Sweet and thoughtful. ****

All of Them are Troublesome is very irritating movie about a young male teacher who can't deal with some brash girls in his classes who flirt with him and try to get him into trouble. It is one of those genre of shows where the kids are smarter than the adults. *

Anokono Toriko is a movie about three childhood friends who promised they would become famous some day. By high school one of the boys is a popular actor and the girl is a professional model. The other boy has been too shy to accomplish anything, but he gets his chance in this story. The actor does a good job growing from quiet and shy to more confidant. The best actor here is Ishitani Goro, who played the director and was decisive and had great presence. 


The Romance of Tiger and Rose is about a drama writer who wakes up one day to find herself in her own drama. She asks people what episode she is in, and keep saying that she knows what is going to happen because she wrote it herself. Very cute drama, very appealing characters, last third is slow. ****

My Roommate is a Detective is a fun, light drama about a really smart Sherlock Holmes type who gets hired by the police chief to help his solve cases. There is conflict between the Europeans, who run their "concession" areas, and the local Chinese criminal gangs. New story every couple of episodes. ****

Le Coup de Foudre is a slice of life drama about some friends during their college and young married years. It is told in flashback style and it takes them a long time to realize they like each other. One of the men goes to school in England, and the woman follows him there to try to find him. ***

These are the shows we watched and finished. There is a much longer list of shows that we watched one or two episode of and dropped. Or even watched 10 minutes of and dropped.That accounts for having so few low scores.