Tag Archives: Korea

K-Drama Review: Master’s Sun

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master sun mirror

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  • English title: Master’s Sun
  • Revised romanization: Joogoonui Taeyang
  • Hangul: 주군의 태양
  • Director: Jin Hyeok
  • Writer: Hong Jung-Eun, Hong Mi-Ran
  • Network: SBS
  • Episodes: 17
  • Release Date: August 7 – October 3, 2013

The Master's Sun-So Ji-Sub.jpg The Master's Sun-Kong Hyo-Jin.jpg The Master's Sun-Seo In-Guk.jpg Kim Yoo-Ri
So Ji-Sub Kong Hyo-Jin Seo In-Guk Kim Yoo-Ri
Joo Joong-Won (Master) Tae Kong-Sil (Sun) Kang-Woo Tae Yi-Ryung

Master’s Sun is by far one of my favourite dramas of 2013. A horror/fantasy romantic comedy from the acclaimed Hong Sisters, Master’s Sun manages to blend, with just the right amount of each, horror with irony, along with a good dash of quirky fantasy and comedy.

So Ji-sub plays Joo Joong-won (his name being a play on the word, “Master”), the good looking but arrogant and stingy CEO of Kingdom, a major conglomerate which includes hotels and shopping centres. On a rainy night, on the way back from completing a business deal, he encounters the gloomy Tae Gong-shil (her name being a play on the word “Sun”). Played by Gong Hyo-jin. Gong-shil is a lonely recluse who can see ghosts and is terrified by their presence. When Gong-shil accidentally touches Joong-won, the ghosts around her unexpectedly disappear. Wanting relief from the never ending stream of ghosts haunting her, Gong-shil attempted to convince to Joong-won to be her “safe haven”, much to his debelief and initial disdain.

Also joining the cast of Master’s Sun, in the second male lead role, is Seo In-gok who plays a former soldier hired by Joo Joong-won as his head of security. He soon become the Joong-won’s rival for the affections of Gong-shil.

To be honest, I had not expected to love this drama soooo much. While the Hong Sisters are much acclaimed, I have found their dramas (at least the ones I have watched so far) to be a bit hit and miss. I loved My Girlfriend is a Gumiho with Lee Seung-gi and Shin Min-ah, although it initially took a few episodes for it grow on me. However, as much as I love Gong Yoo as an actor, I found the Hong Sister’s drama, Big, very ordinary. So while Master’s Sun looked promising, I was also sceptical. I am glad to say that any scepticism I had was quickly done away.

There is much to love about this drama – the storyline, script and acting are all superb. I particularly loved the fact that the two lead characters were, for a change, older (in their 30s). I think it added weight to their performances and the storyline in general. As much as I enjoy dramas with younger actors, including many idols, the drama can often end up being a bit to bubblegum at time.

My favourite thing about the drama, however, was the Hong’s Sister ironic and quirky humour instilled into the script and its delivery by their actors. Master’s Sun is by far the funniest of all the Korean Rom/Com dramas I have watch over the last few years. It made me laugh – a lot. In particular, So Ji-sub is hilarious as the petty CEO Joo Joong-won. I never once got bored with his character and his deadpan comedic timing was just wonderful. This is the first drama and/or movie that I watched him in and I now want to check out his other dramas and movies.

Master’s Sun marks the second time for Gong Hyo-jin has worked with the Hong Sisters, her first turn being with the rom/com, Greatest Love. While Greatest Love is still on my drama list to watch, I did enjoy her acting in Pasta, despite the fact I really hated the terrible sexual politics of both the drama and the character she played. Unfortunately, despite having Gong and Lee Sun-kyun who is I like a lot, Pasta, is one of my least favourite dramas – primarily because of the buckets of sexism, both in the script and character development. While there is certainly some level of sexism in Master’s Sun, it is nowhere near the levels of Pasta and ultimately, Gong-shil proves herself to be capable and independent woman, who realises the need to stand on her own two feet.

This time around the Hong Sisters have done a terrific job of serving up a funny, sweet and quirky drama, with just the right amount of horror and fantasy. I enjoyed the drama so much that I want to rewatch it again straight away, as I did not want to say goodbye to either Gong-shil or Joong-won. So if you enjoy fantasy with quirky humour, then Master’s Sun should be right up your alley as it does both extremely well.

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Running Man in Australia

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Like most other die-hard fans of Running Man, I was very excited to hear that my favourite Korean variety show would be coming to film some episodes in Australia.   Running Man is a Korean reality “action variety” show in which individuals and teams compete against each other in a variety of missions.  The show 70-80% unscripted, which allows for a lot of fun. Running Man has 7 permanent cast members, with the cast being made up of comedians, singers, actors and other entertainers.

cast shotCast L to R:  Lee Kwangsoo, Kim Jong Kook, Yoo Jae-suk, Song Jihyo,
Song Jong-ki (former cast member), Ji Suk-jin, HaHa (Ha Dong-hoon) and Gary (Kang Hee-gun)

The show regularly hosts celebrity guests who also participate in the various missions. The highlight of the show is often the signature ‘Race Mission’ where individuals have to remove each other’s tags to become the winner.

The cast and crew are shooting in Australia this week, with the episodes screening on the 9th and 16th March.

The turn out of fans has been overwhelming and at times a little crazy.  Here are some of the fan photos and videos (*my apologies for not being able to provide photo credits with all the photos.  So many of the photos have been retweeted/shared with out credits and I have not been able to locate the original source).

airport beach brisbane airport  collins st haha goldcoast Jihyo Jongkook - roo kangaroos -inmyownmind1 kjk state lib entry kjk state library kwangsoo airport kwangsoo ripponlea @KSDC from IG -AllForKwangSo kwangsoo woobin Eric Chang library - cre4msoda rain jihyo motnapat ig ripponla  ripponlea collage runningman collective airport runninmancast woobin John Smith @jphamnguyen

Arrival in Australia at Brisbane airport.

Fans mob Running Man in Melbourne

K-Drama Review: Shut Up and Run! (aka Shut Up! Flower Boy Band)

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  • English title: Shut Up! Flower Boy Band
  • Alternative English title: Shut Up and Run!/ Shut Up and Let’s Go!
  • Revised romanization: Dagchigo Kkochminambaendeu
  • Hangul: 닥치고 꽃미남밴드
  • Year Released: 2012
  • Episodes: 16
  • Director: Lee Kwon
  • Writer: Seo Yoon-Hee
Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Sung Joon.jpg Shut Up Flower Boy Band-L (Kim Myung-Soo).jpg Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Lee Hyun-Jae.jpg Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Yoo Min-Kyu.jpg Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Kim Min-Suk.jpg
Sung Joon L (Kim Myung-Soo) Lee Hyun-Jae Yoo Min-Kyu Kim Min-Suk
Kwon Ji-Hyuk Lee Hyun-Soo Jang Do-Il Kim Ha-Jin Seo Kyung-Jong
(leader and vocals) (guitar) (drums) (bass) (keyboard)
Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Jung Eui-Chul.jpg Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Jo Bo-Ah.jpg Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Kim Ye-Rim.jpg Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Lee Min-Ki.jpg
Jung Eui-Chul Jo Bo-Ah Kim Ye-Rim Lee Min-Ki
Yoo Seung-Hoon Im Soo-Ah Ye-Rim Joo Byung-Hee

A coming-of-age story about an underground high school rock band called, “Eye Candy”, which explores the friendship and rivalry between six “deliquent” working class boys who make up the band. Made up of band leader, charismatic, free-spirited vocalist Joo Byung-hee (Lee Min-ki); his best friend Kwon Ji-hyuk (Sung Joon), the guitarist with the band; quiet and serious drummer, Jang Do-il (Lee Hyun-jae);  cassanova bass player, Kim Ha-jin (Yoo Min-kyu) and loyal keyboardist, Seo Kyung-jong (Kim Min-suk).

In the aftermath of Joo Byung-hee’s death (at the end of episode 2), the rest of the band try to come to grips with the death of their friend and begin a journey to not only honour his memory and legacy but also – unbeknown to them – also a journey of self-discovery about themselves. The drama is atypical of normal “music dramas”, with the focus actually being more on the journey of the friends, rather than the music itself.

I had not expected to end up loving this drama. I decided only to watch it because I had watched TVN’s other two “Flower Boy” dramas and because I liked Lee Min-ki as an actor and had enjoyed watching Sung Joon in Gu Family Book and wanted to check out more of his work. The drama surprised me with not only its wonderfully down to earth scripts but also characters, who were not your usual cardboard cuts outs that are often found in drama shows (both in Korea and internationally). Over all, the vast majority of the characters, both the lead and supporting, were nuanced, layered and really wonderful to watch.

While Shut Up and Run!/Shut Up! Flowerboy Band  displays many of the standard kdrama tropes, it delves into them in an atypical way, bringing a freshness to many a tired trope and plot twist.  This can be seen for example, in the way the drama deals with the standard triangle relationships often found in kdramas. In Shut Up and Run!/Shut Up! Flower Boy Band, there are two triangle relationships, one between Ji-hyuk, Su-ah and Seung-hoon and one between Ji-hug, Su-ah and the deceased Bung-hee. It’s the second of these two, which is the real triangle relationship that needs to be overcome. And while the focus of most k-drama loves stories are the two lead characters in Shut Up and Run!/Shut Up! Flowerboy Band , the central love story in this drama is not the love story between the lead male and female characters, Ji-hyuk and Su-ha but between the boys in the band. It is a love story about their friendship, loyalty and dedication to each other.

One of the standard tropes used in kdramas is class conflict, between working class and wealthy elite characters. What I loved about Shut Up and Run!/Shut Up! Flowerboy Band  was that it actually treated the class back ground of the boys in the band as something genuine and as something that shaped their world view and actions. Often a nod is given to this in dramas, but then its ignored. With this particular series, it was a constant presence in the drama, one which wasn’t dealt with lightly or with little regard or treated as a mere plot or comedic device.

The other thing I loved about Shut Up and Run!/Shut Up! Flowerboy Band  was its depiction of the female characters. Far to often in kdramas (and non-kdramas) the women characters are frustrating – often portrayed as weak and/or meek and/or shrill and/or mean and/or just there to prop up the male lead’s ego or to pander to his every whim. They often lack any real separate identity, depth or agency, which is annoying and frustrating.  What is outstanding about Shut Up and Run!/Shut Up! Flowerboy Band , is that on the whole most of the female characters in this drama are realistic, have a strong identity of their own, separate from the male lead characters and have agency in spades. While some of the supporting female characters can be criticised on some levels, on the whole even they, along with the main female characters, are strong willed with a backbone and minds of their own. They are not cardboard cuts out and are shown to be independent and capable.

While I enjoyed all three of TVN’s “Flowerboy” shows, this was probably the one I enjoyed most.  It stood out because not only did the series circumvent and recreate in its own image many of the standard k-drama tropes but because it was not your standard love story.  And it was the atypical love story about the boys, their friendship, loyalty and dedication to each other which gave depth and heart to Shut Up and Run!/Shut Up! Flowerboy Band