All posts by Taleena Sinclair

Sensory Couple Episodes 1&2

I began Sensory Couple this week, mostly on the strength of Park Yoo Chun. The premise sounded wonky to me: a man without pain sensations, a girl who sees smells – love ensues! AND yes, that is partly true. What I was unprepared for was a show that managed to hit all my targets.

Park Yoo Chun is not the handsomest K drama actor out there, but has a huge charisma that infuses his scenes. Whether it is outsized comedy, a subtle humorous expression, or anywhere on a vast sliding scale from wistful to heartbroken, Yoo Chun embodies the emotional state of the character.

His female opposite is ably handled by Shin Se Kyung. She has the unenviable task of having to stare into the middle distance and express surprise, curiosity and disgust, but manages to do so credibly.

The Secondary Characters, are engaging. Many of the actors seemed to have been pulled wholesale from Modern Farmer. If the Gossipy Ahjummah or Kimbap Auntie show up I’ll laugh my head off.

Mystery. I’m a sucker for a good mystery and while Yoo Chun’s obsession with his sister’s death brings to mind his crazy focus in I Miss You, fortunately it’s handled with a lighter hand here – so far. The same actress playing Yoo Chun’s deceased sister in Sensory Couple, Kim So Hyun, gave a masterful turn as the younger version of his love interest in I Miss You.

I am eagerly waiting for episode 3, I haven’t been this engaged in a drama in a while.

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This is My Uncomfortable Face

There are a lot of lonely people out there, but I get the serial killer heebie jeebies from this story. From the Nerdist: ” fans who purchase the premium edition of the as-yet untitled single, which will be available for preorder on February 20 for approximately $105, will receive a massive bedsheet emblazoned with Gackt clad in white or entirely in black.” This was the “prize” from his last single:


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American Music Cues in Dramas

I notice this the most in the Hong Sisters dramas, but there are others that are just as savvy in their use. Wendilynn points out that the lyric is “dancing Jews” rather than dancing juice. In my defense I saw dancing juice on many of the lyrics sites.  Thought it was a reference to alcohol. Eh. live and learn.

American Music in a K drama

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When Hollywood Meets K Dramas

I like American TV, some of it.  But what I don’t want is for the K Drama to be swallowed by the Hollywood machine.

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In the Korean Folk Village

According to this poster, the K Drama festival runs later this fall at the Folk Village October through November. I considered selling a kidney to go, but realized I couldn’t arrange it and recover fast enough.



Do a Little Dance, Beat a Little Drum, Get Down Tonight.





Reins? Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Reins!





I Know That Place!






This Kimchi Is Making Me Thirsty


The kimchi pancake is amazing.

Say Hello To Your Little Friends



Read the whole story over at Drama Fever.



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Kimchi Family Episode 4

Welcome back! We left Ho Tae remembering more about the day he lost his Dad, and episode four resumes with Ho Tae being called to the family dinner table which has been expanded to include the new chef, Hae Joon.  As they sit to eat, Hae Joon remembers meals of solitary grandeur as a child and leaves the table filled with emotion.


Hae Joon and Ho Tae are sharing a room.  Ho Tae is exasperated with Hae Joon’s fussy correctness and Hae Joon is too alarmed by Ho Tae’s gangster tattoos to complain about space hogging ways.

The next morning Eun Bi and Woo Joo find a letter from Mr. Lee in the seaweed telling the girls to remember their mother making the many different kinds of kimchi.  Kang San is left pondering what to do.

Ho Tae tracks down Eun Bi’s teacher as the next member of Heaven, Earth and Man to appeal to her good graces.  He offers to teach her self defense and asks that she hold off reporting on Eun Bi while he tracks Eun Bi’s mother down.  Later, Kang San also finds the teacher and brings her food.

Hae Joon samples the kimchi pastes fermenting in Heaven, Earth and Man’s pots. He is interrupted by Do Sik who ignores Hae Joon’s inquiries and defensive statements except to ask a question or two of his own.


Kang San and Ho Tae go to the market to replace the cucumbers Ho Tae scrubbed to oblivion and as they are returning, Kang San notices an Italian food restaurant that has a waiting line even off peak hours. She and Ho Tae enter and the cuisine sparks a thought Kang San can’t quite pin down. Kang San gets a call in the meal and she and Ho Tae hurry to meet Hyun Suk, the head of the food conglomerate attempting to buy out Heaven, Earth and Man.


Hyun Suk tries to persuade Kang San to sell, saying she wants to preserve the flavors, if not the traditions, of the Lee’s restaurant. Kang San responds that changing the traditional methods will change the flavors of the kimchi and kimchi pastes.  As she is quoting her father, she has an idea.  Bidding Hyun Suk good bye and good luck, Kang San and Ho Tae leave.  As they are leaving the business man and his driver come in and Ho Tae recognizes one of them from his half remembered memories.  The business man has a cryptic conversation with his driver.  It seems they are looking for someone.

Back at Heaven, Earth and Man Kang San shares her epiphany with Woo Joo: the seaweed should make Gardenia Kimchi Rolls.



Further, Kang San believes they could partner with the busy Italian restaurant and offer kimchi pairings that would be compatible with the the high end Italian cuisine.  The revenue could help save heaven, Earth and Man.  When Kang San approaches the owner with samples to explain her business proposal, she is rudely rebuffed.  She leaves in a temper, dragging Woo Joo – who is convinced that her slow understanding is responsible for the deal going poorly – leaving her samples behind.

kimchi 4.7

Ho Tae buys Eun Bi new shoes, and bonds with her more.  Kang San takes a request for a special party for the night heaven, Earth and Man is closed.  Eun Bi’s teacher arrives at Heaven, Earth and Man to return the empty food containers each of the Lee sisters has left with her and Do Sik draws her to the family table.  Like Hae Joon, she is a bit overwhelmed by the warm family dynamic.  Ultimately, she reveals to the family that she is going to break the rules and look the other way until Eun Bi’s mother can be found. Do Sik invites her to the family table at anytime.

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Ho Tae, disturbed by the attraction he has for Kang San, steals both sister’s toothbrushes in a bid to get enough DNA evidence to confirm or deny his suspicion that Mr. Lee is his father.

Finally, a woman tries to plant tampered food on her plate at Heaven, Earth and Man.  Ho Tae follows her to find she has connections to his old gang.  He connects with his old underling to try and find out why the woman was there.


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Kimchi Family Episode 3

Welcome back to Kimchi Family. In episode three we meet the final two cast regulars and important characters of the over arching arc of the story. More characters come and go like the daily specials of Heaven, Earth and Man but these two have special significance to the Lee family. I forgot to show last week’s recipe, Japanese Apricot Kimchi so here it is:
Japanese Apricot Kimchi
That looks so beautiful and tasty! We here in the United States tend to think of cabbage kimchi as ‘kimchi’ and don’t realize there is a huge array of varieties. It’s like thinking that all sandwiches are ham and cheese because that is the only kind of sandwich you’ve had.

First we find that Woo Joo is dragging Kang San with her to check on Eun Bi. Woo Joo has noticed that Eun Bi was eating instant ramen and her restaurateur’s heart is outraged. They arrive at the dingy building only to discover Ho Tae has also arrived and is lurking outdoors. Ho Tae can not admit to being worried about the child, but neither sister is fooled. Woo Joo, whose kind heart and simplicity of nature moves her forward into the unlocked apartment door, and finds an unconscious and unresponsive Eun Bi.

When I first watched this show, I was VERY worried for Eun Bi even though she was in the credits as a regular cast member. I had just watched my first ever K Drama, where in they killed a child, and I did not trust anyone to ever live in any K drama.

Ho Tae and the sisters rush her to the hospital, where the doctor, mistaking Ho Tae for the Eun Bi’s negligent father scold him for neglect. As the doctor chides Ho Tae for Eun Bi’s malnurishment you can see each word as a hammer blow into Ho Tae, spurring a deep seated hurt and rage.

Eun Bi returns with Ho Tae and the sisters to Heaven, Earth and Man and Woo Joo declares her intention to keep and care for Eun Bi. Do Sik is the one to put Eun Bi to bed in the sister’s room. His tenderness in doing so belying his impassive face. Kang San is worried that they will be prosecuting for kidnapping .

The next morning the sisters are consternated as Eun Bi refuses to eat.  They sit and try to comfort and coax her to no avail.  Ho Tae, just outside the room, seethes and fidgets until he can no longer contain himself  and barrels into the room yelling, “Do you think crying will make her come back?! You have to learn to live on!” As the sisters sit horrified, Ho Tae’s own hard learned truths come spilling out from him.  He leaves and to the astonishment of the Lee sisters Eun Bi begins eating.  Recognizing the truth in Ho Tae’s words does more than all the best intended comfort.

Kimchi Family 3.1kimchi3.2

Ho Tae tracks down Eun Bi’s father.  He discovers that he is a woman beating, gambling addict who does not care if Eun Bi goes to an orphanage.  Further, we discover that Eun Bi’s mother was a hostess bar woman. Clearly Eun Bi has no advocate other than the denizens of Heaven, Earth and Man. Already we see the beginnings of Ho Tae’s reformation.  Although he dearly would love to beat Eun Bi’s father, he restrains himself on the off chance that Eun Bi might be unhappy over it later in life.

kimchi 3.3

Ho Tae discovers that Eun Bi has been pretending her mom is around to keep from going to the orphanage.  She discovers that Ho Tae is also an orphan, and a bond is formed between them.  Ho Tae tells Eun Bi that she will live with the Lee Sisters.

Kimchi 3.4

Kang San corners Ho Tae about Eun Bi’s absent father. As Do Sik quietly listens in the kitchen, Ho Tae tells Kang San and Woo Joo about the man’s lack of character and his promise to Eun Bi.  Although Kang San is worried about finding Eun Bi’s extended family, neither is she willing to ship Eun Bi to an orphanage.

Kang San sits by her mother’s grave and sing the Wine Song.  She begins to understand that a child’s happiness is paid for by a parent’s weariness and worry.  As she is considering, Woo Joo calls her.  Their father has sent a shipment of seaweed to the restaurant.

We discover that as Mr. Lee has been gone he has become roaming the countryside trying to trace the boy we know as Ho Tae. As he does he serves others by cooking for them.  As he provides them a meal he is relieving them of their burdens for a short while.  The small kindnesses having an outsize effect upon their lives, the interventions a ribbon of goodness. Mr. Lee has started a new diary, letters to his late wife, chronicling his journey to find “the Boy”.

Back at Heaven, Earth and Man.  Kang San understands that the seaweed is a message, homework of a sort.  As if the work “homework” conjures her, at the restaurant arrives Eun Bi’s homeroom teacher.


Eun Bi’s homeroom teacher is there to collect Eun Bi and take her to the orphanage.  Before they could even enter the house, a man arrives asking for Mr. Lee.  Informed that Mr. Lee is gone, the man asks for whomever is in charge of Heaven, Earth and Man.  Ho Tae responds by asking who he is.  The man ignores Ho Tae, increasingly demanding request before snapping out, “Who are you?”

kimchi 3.6

Ho Tae’s thin skinned response to a perceived deficit in manners, sets the tone of rivalry with the new man and does nothing to smooth the ruffled feathers of the teacher. The new man is a chef who heard there was an opening. Kang San upbraids both men for their childishness and Do Sik brings and end to the squabbling with a short authoritative word.  He bades the chef to wait as the teacher is brought down to the house to settle the business of Eun Bi.

The family learns that no one meets the qualifications to officially adopt Eun Bi, none of them married and experienced with children – even when Do Sik speaks up to volunteer.  Furthermore, they do not have any explicit or implicit permission from a parent to keep her.  Eun Bi’s father not listed on Eun Bi’s birth certificate. As usual, even though Kang San expresses reservations within the family about the wisdom of keeping Eun Bi, she is united in front of strangers to the family consensus that Eun Bi must live at Heaven, Earth and Man.  When Eun Bi pitifully comes out to stop the escalation of voices by offering to go to the orphanage, the teacher relents that Eun Bi may stay the weekend.

The chef, Oh Hae Joon, creates a sample meal for them.

kimch 3.7

He studied at CIA in New York and says he wishes to practice more traditional Korean food. Kang San is suspicious.  Woo Joo is welcoming.  Do Sik says they need more hands, but the sisters should still prepare the kimchi and set the menus.

Kang San confides privately to Do Sik that she is not ready to take on Heaven, Earth and Man.  Kang San understands that that Heaven, Earth and Man is more than just a restaurant, it is a ministry to people.  Like anyone asked to assume a mantle of import, Kang San knows that it will become her life’s work and she is afraid to assume it.  Do Sik tells her to not worry, to follow her heart and the kitchen will be waiting for her to take it when she is ready.

Kang San also finds time to sit with Eun Bi, telling her that she should run and play and not only work hard. Eun Bi says that she has to work hard because she has been abandoned.  Kang San tells her that the abandonment was a mistake her mother will regret. She tells Eun Bi that she should forgive her mother, as Eun Bi is forgiven for making mistakes. She promises Eun Bi that she can stay with the Lees again, that they will find a way. Kang San has continued the relationship begun by her father, already beginning to do the work he did from the kitchen of Heaven, Earth and Man.kimchi 3.8

Mr. Lee asks at an orphanage if they remember seeing the child, holding a photo of Ho Tae.  The orphanage workers deny knowing him, but one runs to make a frantic phone call in private.

During the dinner rush, Woo Joo walks over to the teacher’s apartment with a bundle of food. While not entirely guileless, Woo Joo hopes to change the teacher’s mind about Eun Bi, Woo Joo’s main aim is to show caring to the teacher and draw her into the circle of community that Heaven, Earth and Man fosters.kimchi 3.9

As Eun Bi and the sisters set the table for the evening meal Ho Tae tries to remember more about the day he lost his father.  As he searches his memory he remembers a yellow truck and someone telling him to forget it all.

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Kimchi Family Episode 2


Welcome back to Kimchi Family episode two –  a day late despite my best intentions. We pick up the episode as Ki Ho Tae returns to Heaven, Earth and Man and declares his intention to help out at the restaurant until Papa Lee returns.

Ho Tae is given a chance to prove his kitchen chops, and the result illustrates the dynamic that rules the familial relationship. Woo Joo, big hearted and always looking for the bright side of things, is immediately impressed with the result and votes to keep Ho Tae on. Kang San, suspicious and self confident, points out all the flaws in the dish and votes against Ho Tae.  The sisters appeal to “Uncle” Do Sik, who while quiet on his opinion of the food’s taste, points out that they really need the help at the restaurant.  Kang San overruled, Ho Tae stays.

Kang San and Ho Tae exchange words, Ho Tae accusing her of running away in her determination to sell the restaurant while Kang San defends that he doesn’t understand the family.  She walks off to the kitchen and tries to understand what motivated her father to leave. As she looks at the pile of ingredients to be prepped for the next day, she thinks she knows the next day’s dish.

Ho Tae asks questions of Woo Joo, trying to ferret out information to confirm or deny whether or not the father he can’t quite remember is Mr. Lee. Woo Joo, on whom guile and subtext are wasted, answers Ho Tae but sheds no light on the situation.  She goes back to care for the baby that had been abandoned at the restaurant, and while pondering her own mother has an epiphany. Finding Kang San, the sisters confirm their conclusions about the next day’s dish and set about making it.

As they cook, Ho Tae looks though Mr. Lee’s room.  He finds a journal detailing Mr. Lee’s returning customers, not only their favorite foods but family history, health needs and well being.  He also finds a picture of Mr. Lee and himself at age 8.  He remembers more of the day he was lost the memory expanding to include an amusement park and being taken to an orphanage where he is given the name Ki Ho Tae after Don Quixote.

The sisters meanwhile, remember their mother teaching them to prepare the Japanese Apricot Kimchi. As little girls she taught them, likening the ingredients to family members, all different but working harmoniously together.


Ho Tae sits by the kimchi pots in the dark contemplating the picture, and Kang San, finished with the next day’s kimchi comes out.  Before they can talk, she sees someone lurking in the dark behind Ho Tae. Kang San and Ho Tae chase the intruder who gets away.  As the whole house calms from the uproar, Kang San returns Ho Tae’s earlier insight with a little of her own.  She accurately deduces the circumstances of Ho Tae’s exile from the gang and tells him that her father will come back when he needs to. His questions prompt Kang San to wonder long into the night about what could be so important as to pull Mr. Lee away from his whole life at Heaven, Earth and Man.

The next morning Ho Tae’s ignorance is exposed as he can’t even correctly wash cucumbers. Disgusted, Do Sik rescinds his support of Ho Tae’s presence. Kang San reveals the depth of the financial emergency to Dr. Han and Grandpa, the two regulars of such long standing that they insinuate themselves at the family breakfast table. Ho Tae pleads with Do Sik to give him a chance saying he’ll work at anything to stay.

Kang San intercedes with Do Sik unbeknownst to Ho Tae, explaining she is brought Ho Tae home because of his great hunger and it seemed she was following her father’s ideal of feeding the hungry. To make a difference one person at a time. Do Sik stops Ho Tae from leaving and puts him to work doing every grunt job around the restaurant.

Kang San returns to the French restaurant to get her job back and in the course of her conversation with the new boss, realizes how important Heaven, Earth and Man is. She loses her temper and walks out after telling the boss that a Korean chef who doesn’t value Korean cuisine will never be successful. Before she leaves, her subordinate gives her the contact info for the head French chef in France.  Kang San returns to Heaven, Earth and man to work.

Kang San finds her father’s customer notebook.  As she begins to look through it.  Woo Joo calls her agitatedly.  The mother of the abandoned baby reappears.  She is a young high school student.  Regretting the abandonment of her child, she returns for her, having seen the notice on the menu board that the baby had called Woo Joo “mom”. The family feeds her and encourages her to return home to her parents with the baby to make a fresh start.  Woo Joo is stricken at the loss, and the normally taciturn Do Sik is angry. The turmoil drives Ho Tae to contemplate a broken watch – the only link to his missing father.

We meet the first of two persons interested in buying Heaven, Earth and Man: Jung Hyun Suk, owner of a large corporation, she seems to know Mr. Lee quite well. A bit later we meet a man directing things to be taken care of without fuss.

Kang San, after contemplating her father’s customer journal decides to not sell, but hang onto Heaven, Earth and Man as long as she can. Kang San reclaims the apron her mother made for her as a child.

Ho Tae’s gangster boss is trying to find Ho Tae.

Ho Tae and Woo Joo run across Eun Bi, the small girl who used to come to Heaven, Earth and Man.  Eun Bi says that her mother tells her to eat at home these days.  Woo Joo accepts this, but Ho Tae is more skeptical, although he says nothing. They leave but we see that Eun Bi is living alone in a dirty, water damaged room, living on instant ramen.

Kang San, happy with her decision to stay enjoys makgeolli at the family dinner table. Uncle tell the sisters that they must create the daily menus, all they have to do is remember the food they ate growing up. In high spirits Kang San, with Woo Joo, remembers a song taught to them about tasting wine from their parents.

Have some, have some
Have a cup of this wine
This wine is not wine
This wine is our mother’s tears
This wine is our father’s sweat
Don’t say it’s bitter or sweet
Have a taste with your heart
Don’t be sad
The myeongsasibri rose buds fall
When spring arrives next year
you will bloom once again Our pitiful life
is like a floating rootless weed

 Have some, have some  – Have a cup of this wine

The paulownia tree
in the bright fall moon
reminds me of my wife
and saddens me
Does my wife think of me?
Or am I alone in this thought?
In the morning’s cold frost,
the wild goose cries and leaves

I hope for news of my wife
The overflowing clouds
are empty of noise

Ho Tae sees Do Sik fall quietly into the warmth of the song and shared memories, and realizes that he is part of the family now.

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Kimchi Family Episode 1

Kimchi Family was the second Korean drama I ever watched.  At the time, while I was knocked out of my socks at how wonderful it was, I didn’t appreciate how unique it was.  It is romantic with out being a romance, filled with action without being action driven.  Like many dramas it has its far fetched elements, yet there is a realness to the characters and relationships – even the restaurant, Heaven, Earth and Man feels like a real place, not an analog of something in the real world.

The first episode has a lot going on as it introduces the main characters in the ensemble and sets up the three story arcs which span the series.

First we meet Ki Ho Tae played by Song Il Kuk.

Ho Tae is at a crossroads in his career at a gangster.  Ho Tae is a formidable opponent, as the opening scene demonstrates him beating down the members of his own gangster squad.  He is filled with anger, impatient, and hungry.  We see that his physical hunger, where in his refined palate detects the subtle flaws in every dish he eats, is a indicator of his spiritual hunger. Ho Tae is not irredeemable.  He is, as our female lead says at one point, 2% redeemable.  This is what get him in trouble with his gangster squad, he is not utterly ruthless.  He saves the life and livelihood of one of the loan shark victims, which puts him at odds with his own gang.  Ho Tae is number three in the gang.  He is favored by the Big Boss who is hospitalized, and at loggerheads with the number two gangster, his immediate boss.

Lee Kang San, played by Park Jin Hee.


Kang San is a classically French trained chef who can’t quite leave her family’s traditional Korean restaurant behind. Kang San is fearless, rushing in to confront Ho Tae as he is leading off the delinquent lendee from the French restaurant where she is in charge of a line.  She is also teachable, she defends her food but is flexible enough to correct the mistake Ho Tae points out.  Kang San is also at a cross roads.  The main French chef is leaving and, like Ho Tae, she is favored by the lead chef but not her immediate boss. She receives a call from her sister asking her to return home for their father’s birthday.

Kang San’s family restaurant, Heaven, Earth and Man, is featured in a TV show. It is how we are introduced to the ensemble which is centered at the restaurant: Kang San’ older sister, Woo Joo, Grandpa Sul and Dr. Han, restaurant regulars,  Do Sik, the secondary chef, Mr. Lee, Kang San’s father, and Eun Bi, a small girl fascinated by Mr. Lee and the welcome exuded by Heaven, Earth and Man.

Ho Tae sees part of the TV special and it catches his attention.  He travels to Heaven, Earth and Man and as he stands in front of it, we find he remembers coming there as a boy. Before he can explore further, Ho Tae is called away by his junior in the gang.

Using Ho Tae’s leniency to the debtor as an excuse, Ho Tae’s immediate boss in the gang sets upon Ho Tae.  If Ho Tae is removed a new regime can control the gangsters, no matter what happens with the big boss in the hospital.  Just before numbers overwhelm Ho Tae, they scatter as a car with a siren rolls up.  To Ho Tae’s surprise it is Kang San.  “Are you alright?” she asks.  Ho Tae responds with his deepest need, “I’m hungry.”


Ho Tae has just sealed his fate.  Ho Tae is not just hungry for food, he is hungry for warmth and human kindness.  He is hungry for acceptance and family.  Kang San comes from a long line of chefs whose calling is not just to feed the body, but to feed the soul.  Like anyone with deep familial bonds, when faced with a crisis she retreats to the support of her family.  It does not matter that she has been exasperated with them and trying to establish her own identity.  Family is there for her. In Kang San’s response to Ho Tae we see the fruit of every relationship and every life lesson nurtured by her family.  It is not enough for the Lee family to take the traveler on the road to Jericho to the hospital. No, these Good Samaritans take him home to tend his wounds.

Ho Tae spends the next day at Heaven, Earth and Man joining the family table.  It is a revelation.  The food satiates the physical hunger, the familial love, the emotional hunger.  Kimchi1.1

He still is having flashbacks and resolves to ask Mr. Lee to shed light on the matter.

Tensions are bared when a man tries to buy Heaven, Earth and Man.  Mr. Lee and Ho Tae kick him out, but we learn that the restaurant is encumbered with debt, leaving it vulnerable to take over by a hostile group. Kang San and Woo Joo are at odds over the best course of action.  Woo Joo is convinced that if Kang San came home and took over the restaurant it could be saved. Kang San wants to sell the restaurant.  Mr. Lee asks Ho Tae to stay a few days.

Ho Tae wakes the next morning determined to understand his flashbacks, but Mr. Lee has left, leaving a note for his daughters to resolve the dilemma on their own.  Stymied, Ho Tae leaves, only to be told to stay hidden by his junior in the gang.  Ho Tae must keep low until the Big Boss leaves the hospital.

Kang San resolves to leave Heaven, Earth and Man only to find out from her junior that she was replaced at the restaurant by her immediate boss, once the French chef who had groomed her left the country.

I don’t know if you have ever had the experience that Ki Ho Tae has had: of finding your needs graciously and humbly met. Undeservedly, unexpectedly, but in that aha! HERE it is moment. Those moments are the moments that can change you, can correct your course through the sheer kindness of them if you are able to receive.  Receiving is so much harder than giving if you feel unworthy to receive.  Those that are unworthy to receive are the ones that most need a gift.  Can you tell I love this drama? What was your favorite part? See you next Thursday for Episode 2.

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In Praise of Second Bananas

Sometimes I am watching a K-Drama and I just can’t help but yell at the screen, “What are you doing! You clearly should choose the second banana!” K-Dramas thrive on making their leads cry with broken hearts and the aching possibility that someone else may steal away the loves of their lives. If the lead hero is not being driven away by evil relatives or suffering from a brain tumor, a second banana is there to make the lead work to secure his love. Sometimes, though, the main lead is not right for the heroine. Why do you choose the young pretty boy over the hunkalicious CEO who will give you a giant rock? Why aren’t you choosing the sweet playboy who is reforming his ways for you? Weh? WEH? WEH?! Aigoo.
Sometimes you love the second banana AND the lead. If second bananas are REALLY lucky there is another person calling them “Oppa” at the end of the series. Sometimes though, they are left crying sadly until they are cast as lead banana in your next drama. Here are six supporting leads we were hoping had a shot at the girl. You can’t help but cheer them on, even though they are trying to rival Pretty Lee Min Ho:
1. Yun Ji Hu in Boys Over Flowers.fireman

“One will be your soul mate, the other your husband.” Never has a fortune teller had more chilling words for a heroine. Poor, lucky Jan Di she got Ji Hu and Pretty Lee Min Ho, I mean, Jun Pyo.
2. Lee Joon Gi as Seo Jung Woo in My Girlsnowglobe

This second banana made all the right moves. He used his words. He led her to his many stepped thinking spot. He played his hand as well as he could, but there is just no beating your good looking cousin with dibs and a snow globe.
3. Kang Ha-Nuel as Jung Sun Woo in Monstar.Cello

He’s handsome, rich, smart, carries a torch for Min Se-Yi for years, and plays cello so smooth and fine I had to go take lessons. Maybe if I play cello too he’ll come duet Nocturne with me. Luckily a certain gangster’s daughter with a rocking set of pipes will make him some sweet fashions and soothe his sad heart.
4. It’s an embarrassment of riches for Park Min Young in Sungkyunkwan Scandal. While I don’t fault her for choosing charismatic Park Yoo Chun (with a beard – mrrrrow!), a corner of my heart cheered on Song Joong Ki’s mischievous smile. Frootloops
5. Lee Tae Seong as Bong Joon Gu in Playful Kiss.noodles

Oh Ha Ni should be commended for her tenacity but Joon Gu would have cooked delicious noodles for you adoringly forever and he got along fantastically with your dad. I wanted Joon Gu’s noodle dream to have been realized.
6. Ryu Jin as Ji Seong Il in Baby Faced Beauty.MrJi

A handsome, rich guy, who shares your interests, whose little girl loves you, whose sister is a good friend – and you pick the guy who is 7 years younger than you with a overbearing dad? A guy moreover who is pressured into proposing because he is stubborn? Daniel Choi was cute and endearing as the lead here, but sign me up for Mr. Ji!
My K Drama friends tell me I have left out Kim Woo Bin as Choi Young-Do in the Heirs, but I think we all agree he needs to be saved for our favorite bad boy list.

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