This is the hair shirt and barbed wire pants of K-drama – if you can get through all 16 episodes, you’re a better person than me.
The first kazoo in the dramatic symphony comes early on, when our heroine, after being cruelly dumped by her boyfriend, says plaintively “Am I so unattractive?” I’m sorry sister, but no amount of baggy clothing can convince us that you don’t have men lined up to win your favours. Either the casting director or the scriptwriter or both needed a good talking to, and perhaps a good slap, in order to win back their lost credibility.
Most Beautiful Songwriter On The Planet demonstrates the fine art of levitation, as the boys try not to freeze their bits off while filming outdoors in a Korean winter.
If talents were apportioned fairly, Jinyoung would just be a pretty face, but alas, that’s not the case – he also wrote and produced this song. I take some comfort from the fact that his fellow members nicknamed him Halbae (Grandpa) because they thought he danced like a grandpa and because he could be quite clumsy (examples to come, gentle readers).
This is simply one of the most beautiful funk ballads out there. It starts powerfully, with CNU’s haunting falsetto underlying Jinyoung’s repetitive cry of “Lonely lonely lonely” – we’re left in no doubt of the title or the mood.
Siusin is bored with X-Men, and is now fascinated with K-pop. Maybe it’s the faces, maybe it’s the voices. Maybe she’s just humouring me to ensure an ongoing supply of tuna. Who knows, but it does play merry hell with my viewing.
I really didn’t want to love this so much. I didn’t even want to watch it. Let me explain…
It started with a song. I’d never liked Park Seo-jun, but a friend recommended the series, so I finally watched the ad. And man, that song is powerful – in about 30 seconds it had me half-convinced I wanted to start a bar and take over the world.
So I started watching. The effect is like swimming on a beach with a rip tide – it looks calm on the surface, but before you know it, you’ve been dragged into deep water and you can’t get free.
If you put the story into words, it sounds pretty trite: schoolboy stands up against rich bully and his even worse father, drama ensues, boy spends next 15 years enacting a special kind of vengeance. Yah, yah, yah, yawn. But I’m not writing the script, or acting it. And the people who did so, did it brilliantly. The series is based on a webtoon by Jo Gwang Jin, who also wrote the script (as well as the lyrics for the song Diamond in the OST).
It’s not that there’s wild action, blockbuster special effects, car chases, thrills and spills, or even, as promised by Rocky Horror Picture Show, “lotsa larfs and sex”. But what there is, includes a great script, great acting, and a great soundtrack. And the highlights, gentle reader, loathe though I am to admit it, definitely include Park Seo-jun.
Taemin’s back in the bondage closet, being dark, dangerous, and ever so enticing.
In this MV Taemin becomes the poster boy for the B&D community, and possibly the S&M community as well. It does make you wonder what was going on in his life that he’s diving right into the dungeon. And since he’s going public with this much, what on earth is he keeping secret?
Once again, it’s dark, musically, lyrically, and visually. Taemin keeps returning to themes of love, lust, and obsession, appropriate for a man who’s the living incarnation of at least one of the 7 deadly sins. I’d say it’s odd for a Catholic to be so overt about all this, except that I’ve known too many Catholics to be able to say that with a straight face.
Glorious BIBI – Ulysses would have had himself lashed to a mast to hear this voice. But then, given her predilection for singing about uncomfortable topics, he might have ended up lashing her to something afterwards. And by uncomfortable topics, I mean things that aren’t about boyfriends, makeup, or fashion. She doesn’t pull any punches – indeed, in this video she looks to cop a few instead.
Korean girl groups and singers tend to one of two extremes: they’re either overtly sexy or overtly cute, and it’s rare that female singers get to avoid these two narrow paths. But BIBI is one of the few who’s succeeded, and she’s done it with style and sass, not so much by remaining above the fray as by wading right into it and doing whatever the hell she wants.
A historical entry in the “I fell in love with my eunuch” category, lifted above the ordinary by the quality of the whole cast. Kim Yoo-Jeong plays Hong Ra-on (or Hong Sam-nom, as a male), the young woman who ends up working in the palace as a eunuch (long story), while Park Bo-gum plays crown prince Lee Yeong, heir to the Joseon throne, who becomes intrigued with Hong Sam-nom while still unaware she’s a woman. Both young actors are charming, and their early scenes together have a will-they-won’t-they tension.
This young love is complicated by Kim Yoon-sung, a childhood friend of the crown prince who, as grandson of the Prime Minister, the chief villain of this piece, has fallen out of favour. The role of Yoon-sung is brought to life by Jinyoung (not to be confused with Park Jinyoung of GOT7, or veteran actor Jung Jin-young), who possesses the ethereal beauty of the late Leslie Cheung, as well as some of Leslie’s awesome subtle talent. Jinyoung, ex-singer/songwriter of K-pop group B1A4, glides through the series like a stalking panther, always enigmatic. Yoon-sung offers friendship to Ra-on, and would like to offer more, but is biding his time (see me raising one quizzical eyebrow). The friendship here is surprisingly gentle – Ra-on has spent her life pretending to be a boy, and although Yoon-sung spots the deception immediately (unlike the crown prince), he opts to reveal his knowledge to her in the most delicate and supportive way possible.
Something a bit different this week – I’ve got a review for a K-drama series going up on Heroic Cinema today, so I thought I’d dig up a couple of songs from the OST for your delectation.
And just to add to the fun, here’s the teaser they released, which shows star Park Bo-gum in his dragon robe dancing in front of the Gwanghwamun gate, to the decidedly non-Joseon strains of Jessy Matador’s French song Bomba, with a full cohort of eunuchs, guards, and court ladies. Watch out for Lee Joon-hyuk, who plays the crown prince’s chief eunuch, sporting an artificial dog perched atop one shoulder – because why not?