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.

Kimch1.2

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.”

Kimchi1.3

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.

Share Button

Fated to Love You : The Korean Version Ep 1-2

Hello Peeps.  I hope you’re able to stay cool during these summer months.  July has been insanely warm for Oregon.  Dare I even say hot.  Thankfully an angel gifted me with an A/C unit and so for the first time, I’m surviving nicely.  Although, to get the best circulation for the apartment I put it in the window near my computer.  The apartment feels great…..but I need a sweater to blog. *chuckles*

For those of us who are fans of the Taiwanese show Fated To Love You, there is now a Korean remake for us to watch and enjoy.  This is one of my favorite shows out of Taiwan and I watch it regularly.  This may put an unfair bias towards the Korean remake simply because there is so much that is awesome about the Taiwan version such as our male lead, for example. Ethan Ruan set the bar high for the confused but adorable Cun Xi.  Jang Hyuk has some big shoes to fill as our lead Gun.

Joining me on this quest will be Firnlambe from Soju-Like-Kdramas:   “Greetings!! I suppose you can call me the counterbalance to Wendilynn for this series. I’ve only seen the Taiwanese version once. I loved it, don’t get me wrong–but I don’t have nearly the same attachment to the characters, so I should be able to provide a little less biased opinion on each episode” ^-^

So then…lets get started.

We start out with a model shampooing her hair for a CF.  She freaks out that this unknown product will damage her pampered locks.  In saunters our company president, full of confident arrogance and gifts us, the viewers, with some gorgeous, over the top shampoo porn.

FTLY1

Wendilynn:  Its quite an introduction for our male lead, Lee Gun.  He’s gorgeous without his shirt on and this show does seem to try and keep him shirtless at every opportunity.  That laugh though… *shakes head*   Its uncomfortable to listen to. I had a hard time warming up to him because he came across so smarmy.
Firnlambe: Oh God….this…..this was hard to watch. As glorious and gorgeous as Lee Gun is shirtless, the over the top cheesiness to this scene was a tough pill to swallow.

FTLY5

Next comes our Post-it girl, Kim Mi Young.  She has the coolest opening sequence ever.  Who wouldn’t want Pentatonix singing your introduction. 

Firnlambe: I like this casting…..this version of the Post-it girl is just as good as the original.

Wendilynn: I have to agree with you.  I like Jang Na Ra.  So I was really happy to see her as our Post-it girl.

FTLY21

Here’s the jerk she takes on her winning vacation to Macau.  I’m only including him because they actually keep him around for a few episodes.  This guy is a total sleaze.  As soon as she wins the vacation, he starts schmoozing her so he can go along. 

Firnlambe: Personally….I didn’t like how Korea went about introducing this couple. It was waaaaay too rushed. And because of that, the coming events didn’t have nearly the same impact on my sympathy radar for our leading lady as I had in the original.
Wendilynn:  I also felt like part of the story was missing leading up to the morning after.

FTLY20

Here’s our prime candidate for SLS.  Daniel is gently played by gorgeous Choi Jin Hyuk.  Looking for his lost sister who was adopted out to strangers unknown.  We are greeted with him at an orphanage playing soccer with children.  Can he steal our hearts any more completely?

Firnlambe: I foresee much more heartache in my feeling towards Korea’s Daniel than I had for Taiwan’s Dylan. Granted……..that maaaaaaay have to do with how gentle Choi Jin Hyuk is portraying him.
Wendilynn:  He’s playing him much more warm than Dylan was played. Dylan didn’t get warm till much later, where Daniel’s warmth is evident from his first words.

FTLY3

Enter trouble in the bodies of the Island company President and Kim Mi Young’s brother-in-law. These two have hatched a plan to catch Gun In flagrante delicto so that they can save their doomed company.  Their comedy of errors is funny and sets everyone up for the inevitable. 

Firnlambe: Mixed feelings are mixed on these two. I can’t decide if I’m going to like them or not yet.

Wendilynn:  One of the joys of the Taiwan version is the cheesiness of the islanders.  Although these same characters were more redneck in the T version.  Here they are just sort of dumb.

Firnlambe: Agreed…and that’s too bad. I’ll take cheesy rednecks over bumbling idiots any day.

Wendilynn:  I think the difference in story length plays a role here.  Taiwan shows get far more episodes to play with  then Korean shows do.  Although, this K version is supposed to have 20 episodes.

FTLY8

Gun’s first love, Se Ra.  Prima Ballerina who has lost the audition to be Odette in Swan Lake. She is willing to let Gun propose to her because she thinks she has nothing else. One phone call is all it takes to change her life as well as Gun’s and Mi Young.

Firnlambe: Begin the hate cycle!!! Se Ra is just as selfish and self-centered as An Na.
Wendilynn:  I didn’t like this character in either story.  What really made it worse is that we get far more backstory  on how much Gun has loved and ached for her.  Its a counterpoint to his overwhelming smarminess when he’s being a jerk.

FTLY9

Yes, lets thank the hapless morons who get you jacked up on sex juice.  Really, does Gun absolutely need to wear clothing?

Firnlambe: He can keep the shirt off…..as long as he changes his hairstyle. This floppy mop needs to go.
Wendilynn:  Yeah, it adds to the smarmy feeling. lol

FTLY11

Our couple has both consumed the drink that will make sex inevitable, however, unlike the Taiwanese version that actually gives you a clean love scene.  We get a hokey cartoon euphemism about making rice and then a snuggle wake up scene. This show has no problem getting Gun shirtless at any opportunity, but heaven forbid we show people kissing.

Firnlambe: Well….in their defense it’s not a cable show…or a weekend drama

Wendilynn:  I was just dumbfounded that they didn’t even kiss.  Not even a chaste one before switching to the cartoon. And after the shampoo porn scene, what’s to be worried about?

Firnlambe: True….maybe they’re wanting to save the kisses for later?

FTLY14

Mi Young, upset after finding out that she not only slept with the wrong person, but that her sleazy BF was sleeping with someone else as well is left upset and feeling low.  While scumbag refuses to take any responsibility for her emotional state, enter Gun to play the white knight.

Firnlambe: So you know how I said my feels for the coming events were not as strong this time around. Yes….I felt sad for Mi Young, but it wasn’t neeearly the same level of devastation that Xin Yi experienced. Although I did love that Gun was there to pull her up when she reached her lowest point.
Wendilynn:  Agreed.  I don’t think they played it to the same level as in the T version.  Although, that conversation about whose the noble and whose the commoner was amusing to watch.  Lawyer scumbag thinks he’s all that and Gun shows up to show him otherwise.

FTLY15

Both Gun and Mi Young have been hurt by the people they liked. Ditched unfairly.  Gun, despite his bravado at other moments, had a heart of gold and listens to her sad story.  Fighting tears, he decides to champion her cause and embarrassment and maybe, get a little payback.

Firnlambe: I wholeheartedly LOVED this scene….no qualms whatsoever.

Wendilynn:  I had serious.. and I mean serious misgivings about Gun as our lead up until this scene.  Even when he’s practicing for his proposal, I had a hard time buying that he could be gentle.  Those tears in his eyes dispelled that worry.

Firnlambe: I blame his hair stylist.

Wendilynn:   LOL!! Maybe they went and borrowed whoever ruined Full House: Take Two’s hair and make up?
Firnlambe: It all makes sense now…..

FTLY16

Enter the polka-dot twins.  Why are male fashion designers always played as being gay?  In this case, they are way too funny to not give a shout out to.   They are responsible for turning our post-it girl into a goddess. 

Firnlambe: ooooooh Polka-dot twins…..I loved these two
Wendilynn:  They were funny, but a bit too much for me.  When they were complaining I kept wanting to say, “Is this all your skill is good for?  Wimp out at the first challenge because she hasn’t been spending 20K a month on plastic surgery and spa treatments?”

FTLY17

Enemy spotted.  Gun is taking Mi Young out to slay the troll under the bridge.  They are both dressed to kill.

Firnlambe: Seeee!! Swept back hair looks much better on Gun than the floppy style he was sporting earlier.

Wendilynn: Yes, he’s very handsome here.

Firnlambe: I also preferred this makeover….it felt more dramatic for some reason.

Wendilynn:  I’m with you on this one, this Post-it girl makeover was much more the thing and fit her better then what Xin Yi got.  She looked like a goddess here.

Firnlambe: Lady Luck … goddess style!!

FTLY18

There is nothing more humiliating then realizing you had a crush on a coward. While some people would take pleasure in their enemy on their knees before them.  Mi Young knows that this was the guy she thought was “worth it”.  To see him groveling so he doesn’t lose his gambling money makes her realize she had picked a loser to start with.  That’s never a good feeling.

Firnlambe: Jerks will always be jerks….no matter how much they tell you otherwise.
Wendilynn:  I understand how she feels though.  My last boyfriend was a train wreck and it made me feel terrible that this was the type of guy I was attracting. What did it say about me?  I haven’t really dated seriously since.

FTLY19

Gun truly is a gentleman. He may not be in love with Mi Young, but he respects her courage and kindness.  He gives her the gambling chip and tells her that as long as she’s got one chip, she has a chance to change the game.  This was also a running theme in the Taiwanese version. Its nice to see it here too.

Firnlambe: Agreed…. I’m also glad they kept the chip theme running. Here’s hoping she puts it on her key chain…..although this chip is a tad bit larger–so that may cause some problems.

Wendilynn:  Maybe she can turn it into a charm necklace?

Firnlambe: Ooooo, I like the way you think m’dear.

This wraps up our first two episodes of this new series.  As you can see we have mixed reactions to the set up of our leads and the pacing felt a little off.  We have much hope for the next episodes where things start getting serious for Gun and Mi Young.

 

Share Button

Drama Club : Fall In Love With Me

While I have been sick with the hurt arm this last month or so I have been taking a break from this website BUT, thanks to DF and my friend Firnlambe, I have not been absent from blogging about asian dramas that I like so much.

I’ve joined Firnlambe and Aunnie  on Soju-Like-Kdrama to recap/review  Aaron Yan’s newest drama  Fall In Love With Me.  I’ve been an Aaron Yan fan for awhile.   I first saw his drama KO One when I was following up on his band mate Jiro Wang work.  I then watched Just You and loved him in that.   I was excited to see him in this new drama and boy oh boy has it been crazy.   I can honestly say the last few episodes have been hard to watch because of the emotional train wreck we the audience have to wade through.

 

Past Episodes

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Episode 6

Episode 7

Episode 8

Episode 9

Episode 10

Episode 11

Episode 12

Here’s the revamped video for the song that makes up the ending credits to this drama.

Share Button

Drama Club : Trot Lovers

I’m part of my third Drama Club on Dramafever.  I cannot describe how much fun I’m having.  Yes, its a lot of work trying to get 3 ladies together to comment on an episode, and thank you Google docs.   Boy, does that make it easier.

The first 6 episodes are out.   I’ll be adding the links for Episodes 5 and 6 when they post this week, so here are the links for the first 4 episodes.

Episodes 1-2    3-4

Now,  just a little review so far.   I fell in love with this series with the first episode.  Our two male leads took on characters that were polar opposites from their last projects.   Let me explain.

Joon Hyun:  Self professed god of music, petty, selfish and a colossal jerk.  Oh the stuff this boy pulls….   *shakes head*

Petty1 Petty Petty2

Entertainingly played by actor Ji Hyun Woo.  This is Hyun Woo’s first role since his discharge from the military.    Now what made this great for me was that this character was NOTHING like his last one.   His last role was the strong, almost silent protector of  Queen In-Hyun’s Man.  He was everything a girl dreams about in her fantasy white knight who over comes time and space for love.   The chemistry he had with his leading lady was amazing and I really like watching this boy kiss.  Joon Hyun is NOTHING like Boong Do and I’m so happy about that.   I hate when actors gets type-cast.   Hyun Woo does a great job of bringing to life this egotistical asshole who believes anything is okay as long as he’s right.   This drama takes this character on a roller coaster ride in just the first 4 episodes and its a humbling experience for him.

Geun Woo:   Son of the music company president who contracts with our lead actress.   He’s flaky,  a bit klepto and doesn’t take himself seriously.  He knows he’s a spoiled rich brat and has the humor and insight to laugh at himself.

Flaky Oppa TL2a TL10a

This character is what sold me.  Shin Sung Rok last played an evil psychopath in My Love From Another Star.  This guy was so evil that anytime he smiled you knew someone was about to die.  He was brilliantly evil and Sung Rok was compelling.   We nick named him Scary Oppa.  Geun Woo is anything but.   We go from scary and evil to goofy and light hearted….and you buy it.  Completely.  He comes across as a flake but you soon learn that that is a cover for someone who is very very observant.

These are but two of the very entertaining characters in this delightful drama.

 

 

Share Button