Gu Family Book emphasises it is the choices we make that shape our identities and destinies, not fate or circumstance. The courage and strength to make difficult choices is what it means to not throw away opportunities, to not waste the lives that we’re given. This recurs not only with Kang Chi’s struggle to become human, but with every character: Kang Chi’s decision to save the thief that tried to murder him, to forgive and protect the brother who betrayed him, Yeo Wool’s steadfast decision to stand by Kang Chi even at his worst, sometimes sacrificing her own safety, Lee Soo Shin’s belief that a monster’s actions and intentions proves his humanity more than his blood, and Chung Jo’s decision to find a new fate, despite losing everything that has defined her identity so far. As much as Kang Chi and Yeo Wool prove themselves with heroic choices, it’s Chung Jo’s decision with which I am most impressed. Read More →
Big broke me. The trauma of watching Big was so great I honestly couldn’t face the thought of finishing (or starting) any K-drama at all, no matter how appealing the premise or the actors seemed to me. I tried beginning a few dramas post Big, but even the most charming and compelling couldn’t get over the mountain that was the molehill Big. Some of it isn’t all Big’s fault, I do work a lot, so it’s natural that I’m going to try to be careful about how I use what precious free time I have. Cue Gu Family Book. This was another drama I fully intended to watch, but I intend to listen/read/watch lots of things and never follow through, so I didn’t truly expect to ever even start it, despite my enduring affection for Lee Seunggi. Fortuitously however, I timed spending an afternoon with my mother just when she happened to be beginning episode one, so I joined her and after about ten minutes my mother asked me incredulously, “Are you crying already?!” Um, that would be yes, and I continued to tear up through most of the first episode, because guys, I am a total sucker. Also there is a lot of death, sacrifice and trauma in those first two episodes. Read More →
If Hayley and I were actually good bloggers, we would have divied up the Korean film festival movies between us so we could have blogged them all, but since we’re not, we just went to see the four movies that I could fit into my work schedule, together. That’s how we roll kids. First up:
Christmas in August Director – Hur Jin-Ho, 1998
Christmas in August is actually the second film at Koffia we saw, but it’s possibly the most relevant in regards to K-Drama tropes and traditions.
Basic Plot: Jung-Won (Han Suk-Kyu), a photo development store owner/portrait photographer with an unnamed terminal illness meets Da-Rim (Shim Eun-Ha) a parking officer. The film follows the development of their relationship.
I often go see films with barely any knowledge of what they’re about, especially if it’s something I’m seeing with other people, and generally I find it serves me well to have no expectations of what’s to come. Hayley however, jokingly gave me a rather turgid description of the film before it started, and I half expected a Sirkian melodrama, Korean style [Hayley: Muhahaha! Although I would legitimately LOVE to see a Sirkian style Korean melodrama, film producers, get on it]. Instead what I found was a quiet, contemplative film, more in the vein of an Ozu family drama.
Christmas in August has every right to be considered the modern Korean classic it is; it’s a really beautiful film that revels in showing its audience small, undramatic moments that become profound in their very lack of pathos. There’s a scene where Jung-Won patiently tries to teach his father how to play a video by himself- it is pitch perfect, universally Read More →
Big is quite honestly one of the worst shows I’ve ever seen. Watching bad entertainment is such a big sport these days there’s a vernacular which surrounds it- “It’s so bad it’s good!”, “trashtastic” etc. We enthuse about being entertained despite ourselves, about being moved to tears and laughter even though what we’re watching is sometimes objectively terrible. What we’re really saying is that we’ve enjoyed being swept away, that some magical combination has allowed us to experience a show or a movie viscerally, from the gut, often throwing ‘good taste’ and logic out the window. Enjoying something to the degree we can forgive its many flaws is often more rewarding than being unmoved by Read More →
I’ve enjoyed writing recaps for Big (this has been an entirely new experience for me), because the time it takes to write out every scene gives me a chance to process everything I’ve seen in different way. Today, unfortunately I’m too swamped with work to manage it, but I figured since Dramabeans and Koala’s Playground do such great recaps anyway, there’s no reason to put one out a couple days late.
I did want to write my thoughts on the episode however- although as I said, I’ve had less to time to process it all. My thoughts here aren’t a critical assessment of the quality of the episode, as much as it is me spewing ‘I have too many feels!’
This was a very sweet episode. Da Ran finally does something, although in the most passive way imaginable, and Kyung Joon of course, is as awesome as ever.
We start where we left off: Kyung Joon, being badass as usual, states since they got married to protect him, if they separate, he’ll be the one to take responsibility for it. Further, as long she wears Yoon Jae’s ring he’ll never break his promise to her, but if she takes that ring off and comes to him, he’s going to immediately steal her away. I love him.
Since last week, I haven’t been able to find anywhere that streams KBS live anymore, so now I have to choose between watching Big or sleeping, and predictably, sleep has been winning out (ironically however, I should be asleep now instead of posting this). So, recaps for this are going to be up later (well, later than usual anyway), especially with work being sort of nuts and long-hour-y right now. Onto the episode! Read More →
Okay, we’re back! This episode felt like the show finally found its feet, which makes sense given that Da Ran finally, properly has to confront her own feelings for Kyung Joon. At this late stage of the drama, they needed to banish any ambivalence the audience felt about the central couple, and they did.
I was too full and tired to watch the episode live, but weirdly, as if my body knew I hadn’t had my Big fix, I woke up at 3am, watched the episode and fell back asleep with a big smile on my face. It was a sweetly angsty episode that turned out to be quite fun to recap. Read More →
*Crap! I didn’t mean to post this until later tonight. The recap part is finished, but I haven’t put in pics or thoughts yet, which is what happens when you go on long tangents about green frogs. But since I already hit ‘publish’, I’ll leave it for now and update later. Now I have to run and meet a friend for dinner. Whoops!
Updated with screencaps.
In some ways we still got some repetitive narrative, but those parts went down a whole lot sweeter than in episode 8. This was a far less draggy episode, with one major reveal and Da Ran perhaps realising her feelings for Kyung Joon aren’t as uncomplicated as she thinks…
We open on Da Ran and Kyung Joon driving back to Seoul from the airport. Kyung Joon definitely feels he returned to his body- for at least 3, maybe 5 seconds. “If I felt something, my body definitely would have felt something too”. Read More →
Warning: I’ve been nursing a crazy headache for over a day, and it has possibly coloured my reaction to this episode (also why this post is so late). Grain of salt and all that.
The pace of this episode was a problem for me. If the dialogue was crackling, if I was laughing my butt off, if the show captured a mood and an essence, if there was anything interesting happening at all, I wouldn’t complain.
However, I really think it’s a concern when you’ve set up a plot with as many possibilities as Big, and it feels like the show keeps repeating the same scenes and themes several times over. When you have a finite number of episodes to tell your story and you waste significant amounts of time on story-lines that go nowhere, or re-tread a point you’ve Read More →