Neko's Dramas

The TV KItty

Colorful. Silly. But it makes this blogger itching to watch on. It’s not funny-therefore-LOL kind of drama, but it made this blogger LOL because I can totally identify and empathize with Oh Ha Ni’s (Jung So Min) predicament with her crush, Baek Seung Jo (Kim Hyun Joong). This blogger has to admit that despite constantly claiming to have no interest in this drama (I’d only watched the Japanese version before, and I loved it; maybe because it was still in the 90s when I watched it, and loved the silliness of it), this blogger has grown to love this Korean version because, 1) Jung So Min is very convincing as our protagonist, 2) it reminds this blogger of the long lost youth (oh the melancholy).

This blogged loves the portrayal of Ha Ni, because she does all the things that any girl in a serious crush will do. Giving love letter, giggling to herself when crush pays slightly more attention to her, jumping up and down in glee, and of course, crying her heart out when the crush ignores her. It’s all these that made Ha Ni very endearing, because even if we don’t have the same reactions as her, it reminds us of how we were when we liked someone. Alot. Just like Ha Ni said,

Eun Jo ah, I think it is a miracle that two people will like each other at the same time. Will this miracle ever happen on me?

On the other hand, Seung Jo is this, alpha male with ridiculously high IQ (well, he apparently doesn’t study, yet always top his cohort with full marks) and seemingly incredibly low EQ. He already showed signs of liking Ha Ni, whenever he gets jealous when she was talking about Joon Gu (Lee Tae Sung), yet either he is a dork in the emotions department, or he refuses to acknowledge his own feelings, or both. This blogger thinks Seung Jo has a huge ego which dictates his heart, which results in this drama we’re watching. Also, this blogger believes that Seung Jo knows everytime his mother (Jung Hye Young) set them up together, such as the home-alone scene, and the Goong musical date. He is not a cold-hearted guy, yet he just can’t bring himself to say kind words to Ha Ni. Seung Jo is a weird character because usually when people guard their hearts fiercely, afraid to let their true feelings be known, they’re usually ones who had suffered great pain caused by love before, but Seung Jo did not.

Anyway, most elements were kept the same as with the Japanese version, but because the Japanese version was released before the manga was completed (drama was out in 1996, while the manga ended its run in 1999), this Korean version, like the Taiwanese version, saw our protagonists heading towards university and marriage. Some differencse that this blogger recalled was Kotoko’s (Japanese version of Ha Ni) house was burnt, rather than a knock in the pillar which coincided with an earthquake (this was really really lame), and Naoki (Japanese version of Seung Jo) headed straight for medical college, instead of claiming initially he did not want to attend college. But the biggest reason why this manga is call Itazura Na Kiss (literally means bad joke kiss) is the reason why Kotoko developed a crush on Naoki, and it’s not shown in this version. It literally is a joke from cupid on Kotoko that she and Naoki accidentally kissed in their first year in high school, from which she started liking him.

This blogger has read elsewhere that some were frustrated by the plain lack-of-self Ha Ni displays, but this blogger believes that Ha Ni is just being herself because Seung Jo IS her interest. Furthermore, she said to Seung Jo that she decided to go to college even though her results were terrible because she HAD to find out where her interest (meaning her REAL interest) lie.

What this blogger didn’t really like about the first episode, which appears to be most viewers’ problem as well, is the excessive use of fantasy sequences. We had an extra long opening of around 5 minutes of Ha Ni dreaming about her Prince Charming, and then we had her thinking about them in the Swan Lake setting, and lastly imagining herself as a gangster and Seung Jo chose to lie in a coffin than be with her.

So far owever, this blogger has remained interested in Playful Kiss (7 episodes done in two nights is considered quite a feat for this blogger here); the expectation is low because how the story goes is already known, and it is simply a simple drama that keeps this blogger’s happy index up because of the fluff. It’s a welcomed change from the usual evil-second-leads-who-stoop-low-to-try-and-get-the-protagonists sequence, and well, it allows this blogger to revisit some of the stored away memories.And oh, though Goong also used the same method for while credits scroll, this blogger just loves the teddy bears used to depict each important scene in every episode. So cute!

The sole reason why this blogger decided to give this drama a try (just a look at the title is enough to wince) because of Yoo Seung Ho. This is yet another family-brimming-with-crazy-people drama, which recently this blogger tends to shy away from, but I can’t resist Yoo Seung Ho’s charm. So here goes!

It begins with Yoon Na Young (Shin Eun Kyung) trying to stop her son, Kim Min Jae (Yoo Seung Ho) from leaving to meet the woman he loves. She asks him to play the violin for his grandpa, which he throws away in a fit for Mom always interfere with his life it seems. Mom and son cannot see eye to eye to things, and Min Jae begged her to release him from her clutches, saying he knows she loves him but enough is enough. Eventually he managed to get away and sped away from home.

The young couple in question: Min Jae and In Ki (Seo Woo). Just why is Na Young so against their union? When Na Young ran out of the house trying to stop her son from leaving, a conversation between her and her husband (Jo Min Ki) dropped the answers. Min Jae is not her biological son, which left this blogger guessing that In Ki must be her daughter then. In Ki gave Na Young a call while Na Young was watching Min Jae speed away, asking to meet her. Meanwhile, Min Jae is speeding and praying that In Ki will leave her house to meet him. (It’s so weird to see Yoo Seung Ho driving and being all adult-like coz this blogger is still so used to him being this kiddo from God of Study!)

Na Young just appeared at In Ki’s house (she teleports? or In Ki actually stays very near them? Then why does Min Jae need to drive?), which was decorated in a very, mysterious manner. Candles all over the place, and In Ki was dressed in a red dress, looking pretty dazed. Na Young tried to strike deals with In Ki; as long as she leave Min Jae, Na Young can promise her anything. We can see that daughter hates mother, as she calls her ahjumma, and says as long as she dies it’ll be a good thing. However, it had turned out that In Ki had downed plenty of pills (which I assume is sleeping pill, but why was she still awake then?) prior to Na Young’s arrival. I’m not sure if Na Young’s emotions when her daughter just seemingly dropped dead in front of her is real, but she seems pretty distressed that In Ki chose to commit suicide.

And then we were brought back to 27 years ago, a group of children sitting in a circle singing. Na Young, at eleven, was already showing signs of her strong character. She expects her little friends to obey her bidding, and when she saw thugs at her home, she kept beating and biting the man trying to bring away her dad. And when an old friend of her dad’s, Kim Tae Jin (Lee Soon Jae, “national grandpa”!) came with his third son Kim Young Min (Joo Han Na as the younger version), and said he was planning to build a factory at this sleepy little fishing village they were staying at, Na Young immediately paid more attention to the guests and asked elder Kim if he’s a rich man. She commented she likes rich people. A subsequent conversation with her sister, Jung Suk at the cliff while her sister was probably picking shells or what, asking her sister what she wants to be in the future, revealed that Na Young will stop at nothing just to be rich. All these while Na Young is only eleven! Jung Suk replied she wants to be a doctor, because doctors can save poor sickly people. Elder Kim took a liking to Jung Suk, and seemed to hope that Young Min can marry her when they grow up. But we know from the beginning that instead, Na Young will become his wife. This blogger is anticipating a full blown evil Na Young.

And we time leap to 14 years later. Na Young is working at a bus company, and her calculative nature got under a nerve of a bus driver. The bus driver uncles were complaining to each other, and one of them let slip that Na Young will become the boss’ daughter-in-law. The boyfriend looks like a younger version of Chow Yun Fatt and he seems to be up to no good. After parting ways, on her way home Na Young met a group of gangsters who beat her terribly as she tried to resist, throwing sacks at them and biting whoever she can sink her teeth into. It seems that the boyfriend’s father sent them at her, for the leader threw stacks of money at her and said she should have known her boundaries. It turns out that the boyfriend already has has rich fiancee. Just at this moment, Na Young found out that she is three months pregnant.

She moved back home, six months pregnant, and attempted to hid her pregnancy from her family, but was found out by her elder sister (Kim Hee Jung). Na Young told her sister her story, and said she still wanted to abort the child, for how can she give birth to a child with unknown parentage? (Blogger note: over at this drama’s thread at Soompi, the forumers thought she was gang raped when she was beaten up, but this blogger doesn’t think so. I think she said that she didn’t know the child’s father because she believed the child will not be acknowledged.)

And Na Young attempted to carry out abortion by herself by concocting some herbal medicine, which didn’t work out and she puked it all out. Frustrated at her failure, she asked Jung Suk if she was a bad woman, for she wanted her child to die. She thinks she’ll be punished by the heavens, but even so, she vowed to marry a really rich man and be rich, by hook or by crook. A few days later, Na Young was seen trying to get out of her house with difficulty. She hailed a taxi as she saw one, and it seemed that she was about to give birth. She reached the hospital her sister was working at, and Jung Suk wanted to admit her to the hospital upon hearing Na Young say she’s about to give birth. Na Young didn’t want news of her giving birth being spread at her sister’s workplace (I suppose she didn’t want it to reach her father’s ears. They seem to have a terrible relationship.), and the sisters travelled yet again to another hospital further away. The doctor there said because it is premature, it would be safer if they conduct Caesarian. Na Young was adamant against it, for how can she get married with the C-section scar? Eventually (after much screaming) she gave birth, and Jung Suk told her the child is dead when Na Young asked after it.

Thoughts: Now obviously the child didn’t die, for she’ll grow up to be In Ki. Jung Suk was always the kinder and more considerate sister, while Na Young, as her father puts it, the selfish one. Indeed, a hard and poor life has taught Na Young to be ruthless when it comes to survival, and survival means being very rich.

This is a drama slated as 50-episodes, so an episodic review might be a little tough. This blogger is considering lumping probably two to three episodes per entry, nothing is fixed yet. This drama looks quite set to satisfy the ahjumma-side in this blogger, as makjangs always attract ahjummas. And Yoo Seung Ho, this blogger can’t wait for him to reappear in the upcoming episodes!

If one day, you run away from home, and took refuge at a rural temple because you hitchhiked secretly on a lorry heading for the rural areas, and run into a supernatural being who asked you to free it, I suppose you’ll be scared out of your wits, no? That’s what happened to Cha Dae Woong (Lee Seung Gi), our protagonist, when he ran away from his grandpa and ran into Gu-Miho (Shin Min Ah), a well, at least 500 years old nine-tailed fox trapped in a painting that was housed in a rural temple.

Cute? As the drama was airing, the plot resembles, of all famous stories, the relationship of Harry Potter and Voldemort. Yes, one lives while the other shall die. Every week, loyal viewers were guessing whether this will turn out to have a sweet ending, or an eternally sad one. Of course, with such cute graphics, it can’t be sad, be rest assured. This blogger here guessed from the start that Gu-Miho, will remain as a Gumiho, since that’s how the title goes! Kudos for keeping things simple, scriptwriters!

In Asian folklores, the nine-tailed fox is a symbolism of evil, where in the Korean version, it, appearing as a very pretty lady, seduces men, and eat their livers to keep alive. However, we have here a gumiho that is insanely cute, naive and kind. All she wanted was a husband so that she can become human, but because 500 years ago when she roamed Korea, all men were enchanted by her beauty, and all women were flabbergasted and jealous and hence created the “eat liver” rumors. Poor gumiho thus was unable to get married and ended up being sealed in a painting. Fastfoward to 2010, cue entrance of Cha Daewoong, an orphan raised by his rich grandpa and single aunt, he was spoiled and a little selfish, timid ass-hole in actuality. As flawed as our hero can get here, this drama also chronicles his maturity through his relationship with Gu Mi-ho.

Now throw in a perpetually emo guy who claims he has lived a thousand years, working in the day as a vet specializing in dogs, and hiding in his lair at night eyeing this hourglass that’s supposed to what, finish a cycle in 100 days, thinking about how to separate our hoi couple (I’ll get to that later), in an attempt to redeem his sin committed 1000 years ago. Park Dong Joo (Noh Min Woo) is this half human half I-dunno-what, which is the basis of his living for a thousand years and couting, who as usual Korean dramas go, the second male lead who’ll never get the girl (though there’s remotely any romance inkling detected in this context), and is always somehow around to hear all the important bits and details the leads mentioned. And oh, I think he can teleport too! The rate at which he appears between scenes which are supposed to be at different locations, IS WAY TOO FAST. Is this guy for real? Oh wait, we’re at a fantasy rom-com here.

Undeniably, there are some glaring loopholes in this drama (hardly any dramas exist without loopholes), such as the ending, so is Daewoong going to be like Dong Joo, a half human half I-dunno-what? I assume he is, since he is holding on to the fox bead. Anyway, we have some seriously cute scenes, as well as props. Have you ever seen a DRUMSTICK softtoy? I haven’t, but I’d want one as it looks very huggable though inedible. And since Gu Mi-ho comes from 500 years ago, she’s not used to present day terms, so we had fizzle water for soda, cow, pig and chicken representing brown, pink and yellow respectively (Mi-ho LOVES brown, because she adores beef). Daewoong, initially despising the constant superglue-like existence of Gu Mi-ho around him, is actually a big softie who eventually accepts her in his life, and initiated a “ritual”, which both parties say “hoi-hoi” and points and touch their index finger at each other, like in E.T. And oh, not forgetting this wink-and-flick-fingers action that Gu Mi-ho picked up from a random couple on her first “date” out with Daewoong.

The soundtrack was singalong-friendly, with the main theme by Korea’s national songbird Lee Sun Hee (she also sang the theme song for movie King and Clown). The lyrics were as always, thoughtful and reflect the emotions and development of the characters.

All in all, it was a pretty fun ride, the cute-ness, angst, wringing of hands in exasperation because the plot just had to fall back on the usual been-there-done-that plot devices, all thrown in. Some may find it slow at points, with redundant characters and plot points (but hey, it’s all good fun!) such as the leads turning into Noble Idiots (quoting Javabeans/girlfriday), I still love our hoi-hoi couple. The cuteness just grew on me. Hoi hoi!