In terms of genre, 구르미 그린 달빛 checks all the boxes for me–historical rom-com, crossdressing (
guilty pleasure don’t judge), princes who pretend they aren’t princes, and dramatic angst delivered in the most delicious of ways.
In terms of genre, 구르미 그린 달빛 checks all the boxes for me–historical rom-com, crossdressing (
Yay long weekend! I just finished a 6 hour binge of 청춘시대 (Age of Youth). The last 4 episodes were such a rollercoaster – I think I cried in every single one. Ha.
Given that I generally don’t like “slice of life” type shows–and the fact that the last Korean drama I actually finished was 마을: 아치아라의 비밀 (The Village)–I’m kind of shocked at how much I enjoyed this one.
The plot is pretty simple: Five young women in their twenties share a house together. We follow their trials and tribulations as they each navigate through their lives, and grow to cherish each other (and themselves). Each character has her own inner demons (almost literally) to face and overcome.
This show isn’t flawless by any means. The idea isn’t original; the writing, frankly, isn’t superlative either. There were some odd genre-bending shenanigans going on, which made me wonder at certain points whether I was watching a makjang or a mystery thriller or a romcom? In retrospect, it’s probably because the nature of each character’s inner demon is so different that we got a bunch of varying, and sometimes disjointed, tones in one show. There were plot holes and a couple of instances of really cringe-worthy writing (I’m shaking my head at some of Jong-yeol’s red-flaggy “romantic” one-liners) , but. BUT.
The one major thing this show does well, it does oh so well.
It is A+ at evoking the viewer’s empathy. The characters each have their foibles–and not insignificant ones–but ultimately you’re cheering for them. In my mind, that trumps all of the smaller narrative flaws the show may have.
The importance of empathy is actually a running theme throughout the show, and each character realizes it at some point. This sort of surprised me because I think that’s not something that comes easily to twenty-somethings, especially when you’re trying to get your own two feet on the ground, but the show pulled it off well, without sounding maudlin.
One of my favorite parts of the show is this exchange between Eun-jae and Ji-won:
사람마다 죄다 사정이란 게 있다는 거야. 그 사정 알기 전까지는 이렇다 저렇다 말하면 안 된다는 거고.
Every person has their own situation they’re dealing with. That’s why until you know their situation you can’t tell them to live this way or that way.
It’s easier to empathize with someone if you know what their “situation” is, but even if you don’t, it’s important to try to understand them anyway. Such a great sentiment.
There are parts of this show that would’ve hit me really hard had it come out 3-4 years ago. It’s interesting watching this as someone who’s close in age to these characters, but also just past the stage that most of them are at, and reflecting if the show really captures the worries and joys of 청춘 (youth). I’d say it does.
So, I’m not crazy.
I was re-watching きみはペット (incidentally, one of my favorite Japanese dramas) and I confirmed a long-standing suspicion. A lot of Japanese people pronounce すみません as すいません.
For years I’ve thought my brain was somehow not computing the み sound correctly until I actually saw it spelled with い in a manga I was reading.
The general consensus from all the language forums I’ve combed through seems to be that すいません is a colloquial and more casual way of pronouncing すみません. The latter is always used when you’re being exceptionally apologetic (as opposed to simply trying to catch someone’s attention) and/or speaking formally to superior.
Probably because I don’t know the language that intimately, I’ve always assumed Japanese to be a really rigid language compared to Korean. There aren’t any complex pronunciation rules like in Korean, hiragana/katakana spelling is pretty much 100% phonetic, and verb conjugations are shockingly regular…. I guess that’s why this ‘mispronunciation’ surprised me so much.
I am getting to the point in Japanese where I’m finally starting to pick up on colloquialisms and slang, which is kind of cool. (The first bit of Japanese slang I picked up was the word 「ちょう」). At some point I should graduate from reading manga to actual novels so I don’t sound like a middle schooler the next time I’m in Japan.
On a related note, anime has been holding my attention far better than Korean dramas these days. (I couldn’t even make it past episode four of 마녀보감, the last drama I attempted to watch. Sigh.)
ReLIFE has been my favorite this season (definitely one of my favorites in the last couple years too). The story hits home–a 27-year old man, recently unemployed, gets the chance to participate in an experiment that lets him redo his senior year of high school. The webcomic is also available to read for free on comico! I know I’ve written a ton about webcomics/shows that I never actually finish (heh), but this one I can recommend wholeheartedly.
So I just finished reading season 1 of Cheese in the Trap, which is kind of a big accomplishment for me because I tend to drop webtoons pretty quickly. That, or I forget to check an update/ author goes on hiatus and it drops off my radar forever.
I like this one. I have no idea how close the author is to finishing it so the possibility may be high that I get caught up and it ends up dropping off my radar anyway, but hopefully not.
I think this is the first time I’ve read a webtoon where I actually really like the main character. Seol and I are actually very much alike. She’s smart but also hardworking, too busy to care about how she looks, struggles with her hair (see below), and is generally well-liked. There’s a part near the end of season 1 that I really identified with – Seol has to complete a big group assignment/presentation for one of her classes and all of her group members bail on her at the last minute. She ends up pulling an all-nighter and doing the whole thing herself… and still ends up failing the assignment.
Seol is very much a people-pleaser. She’s non-confrontational; so much so that even if she’s not okay with something, she stifles it until she explodes. She will go out of her way to check her own behavior and desires to put the other person(s) at ease. It’s part of what makes her so likable but it’s also to her own detriment. She’s very attuned to peoples’ reactions to her and to others. It’s a harsh kind of empathy that makes her question everything she does and says.
At the moment, I don’t really care for Jung. In the latter half of season 1 we get some insight into why he is the way he is. He’s from a really wealthy family; everyone is on their toes around them and for the sake of preserving the status quo, he has to be gracious at all times, even when he’s upset. When people upset him, he can only afford to get angry behind closed doors, so to speak; his comebacks have a particularly sadistic nuance to them.
Seriously, with friends like Jung who needs enemies? Luckily Seol has a wonderful group of friends. I freaking love Bora. When she overhears random guys “evaluating” how dateable Seol is, she completely flips out on them and then decides to set Seol up with the greatest guy in existence, Jung be damned!
I’m guessing there’s going to be an eventual romance between Jung and Seol? Jung definitely seems interested in her (whether that’s in a romantic sense or otherwise). Given the way season 1 ended, I have a feeling the happy times are coming to an end and the webtoon might turn rather dark, rather soon.
Overall I’m still having a ton of fun reading this. Onward to season 2!
@chanamuu tell me what you think about it and BLOGGGG
— 지니 (@nocturnal_seoul) January 9, 2016
Okay, so I am BLOGGGG-ing about Cheese in the Trap. Only the webtoon, though, not the drama.
(I’m feeling meh about dramas these days. I’m almost finished with 마을 아치아라의 비밀 – a drama that is seriously making me question my liking for Moon Geun-young and one that I would’ve given up if it weren’t so deliciously melodramatic. But I digress.)
So anyway, Cheese in the Trap.
We’re following the story of Hong Seol, a college student heading back to school after a long leave of absence. She’s pretty normal. She’s smart (though the circumstances behind which she received her full scholarship is one of the mysteries of the story) and has a decent social life with a tight-knit group of friends. Surprisingly she’s not dirt poor like most K-drama protagonists, but she’s trying her hardest to not burden her parents with tuition fees (there’s a story behind that too).
There’s one thorn in her side though – the campus Mr. Perfect, Yoo Jung, who happens to be the reason she ended up taking a break from school in the first place.
This dude is weird. Outwardly, he’s bizarrely perfect: good-looking, smart, polite, kind… all the girls love him and all the guys want to be him. Except Seol notices some inconsistencies in his behavior. Sometimes he’s nice, sometimes he seems cold and condescending, and sometimes he’s outright mean to Seol. I’m 30 chapters into the webtoon and I don’t know what this dude’s deal is. Seol thinks he’s playing mind games with her by orchestrating situations that make her highly uncomfortable. But she has no proof and sometimes she just thinks she’s being overly sensitive. That was a year ago. Now she’s back in school, and he seems like he’s trying really hard to be her friend for some weird reason….
So there are basically two different timelines being told in parallel – we’re privy to Seol’s flashbacks from one year prior ago as well as the present day storyline, so I don’t know (yet) what it was that made Seol quit school, but it definitely had something to do with Jung.
I’m still at the start of this series (about 75% of the way through part 1 of 3) but I’m enjoying it so far. There’s a touch of mystery, touch of comedy, touch of romance…. The characters are great, including Seol. She’s hilarious.
Also this random sunbae of hers. I don’t know if he’s going to play a bigger role later in the webtoon, but look at him. You can’t not like that face.
It seems like figuring out what the heck Jung’s deal is will be the focus of the bulk of the webtoon.
My guess is that he’s the really sheltered son of a mafia boss who is on some kind of undercover mission at the university. Never mind, Jeannie tells me this isn’t true. I could’ve sworn… he’s so good at those arcade shooting games too!
I’ll probably blog on and off about the webtoon here. Is anyone else reading this or watching the drama? Let me know what you think (but no spoilers please).
And if you’re not comfortable with reading it in Korean, there’s an English translation too!
Okay, so imagine you’re in Japan.
For lovers of Japanese fiction/non-fiction, there’s Kinokuniya. For lovers of manga, light novels, and anime merch, there’s Animate. And then, my friends, there is a store for those of us who like all of the above but are on a budget. That’s Mandarake.
Mandarake (まんだらけ) is a multi-story anime/manga media store found in a number of locations throughout Japan. The store is chock-full of anime CDs, DVDs, even VHS tapes (it’s true!), collectible figurines, cosplay gear, toys and cell phone charms, fan-made doujinshi and, best of all, a jaw-dropping quantity of used manga.
I went to two different Mandarake’s when I visited Japan: one in Akihabara (Tokyo) and one in Namba (Osaka). The photo above isn’t mine, but that’s the Namba branch of the store. And no, your eyes do not deceive you: Those are shelves of used manga literally chilling outside the building.
I very often delude myself into thinking I know Japanese better than I actually do, especially when it comes to reading. I’m horrible at reading Japanese. You’d be amazed how undeterred I am by that fact when I am in store such as Mandarake. One of the most difficult things about this store was actually navigating around and trying to find a specific title. The manga seemed to be classified by genre first, and then by the magazine it was serialized in, and then by author. So basically, I was wandering like a lost sheep most of the time, under the guise of “browsing” casually.
I did spot some familiar titles.
Throwback to early high school. You will not believe how emotionally invested in Marmalade Boy I was. Funnily enough, it’s one of Theo’s most memorable mangas too. We don’t overlap a ton in terms of what we’ve read or watched so that was pretty interesting to find out!
Believe it or not, it wasn’t too difficult to walk away empty-handed from normal bookstores like Kinokuniya. One tankoubon at Kinokuniya is $6.20 in the U.S. and roughly the same price in Japan; I wouldn’t save money by buying manga or novels in Japan. But used manga in Mandarake run as cheap as ¥200 (1.60 USD) and are in practically new condition. That was true temptation.
In the spirit of bonding over manga that we’ve both read, I picked up volume 1 of a couple of Theo’s favorites. Orange in particular was quite popular, probably because the final chapter release a few months ago. There’s apparently going to be a live action movie too, releasing in Japan this December.
Slowly, but surely, my Japanese bookshelf grows. One of these days I’ll actually finish something on it. My first ever Japanese novel was 告白 by Minato Kanae, the novel which gave rise to one of my all-time favorite movies. A friend gave me the novel… oh, three or so years ago. And I still can’t make it past the third sentence without stumbling across kanji that I can’t read.
One of these days!
Given that I know zilch about what’s happening in Korean entertainment these days, it came as a mild surprise to learn that Park Yoochun (of K-drama & K-pop fame) is off to serve his mandatory two-year military service. Very soon in fact. Like, today. Or yesterday.
I chanced upon this short interview while scanning Korean celeb magazines for quality reading content and – well, normally I’m rather indifferent to Yoochun but sentimentality got the better of me. I’d just resumed reading 셩균관 유생들의 나날 for the umpteenth time, which got me thinking about Sungkyunkwan Scandal, (still one of my favorite dramas to date, by the way), which made me think about JYJ and DBSK and OT5 4ever, etc. etc.
I found this interview pretty funny actually because the interviewer/writer can’t start a single question without talking about how PYC is going to be gone for TWO YEARS – it’s like s/he is so desperate for Yoochun to talk about how crushed he’s going to be to give up the spotlight, but Chunnie’s having none of that. Full translated interview under the cut! And the usual:
(Disclaimer: All copyright belongs to the original source. I am not profiting by this translation and cannot guarantee its accuracy. In fact, I’ve taken a few liberties with my translation this time by prioritizing meaning and written fluency over more literally representing the original text.)
Let’s talk about 상류사회 (High Society). That show should win some kind of award for creating two of the most precious side characters in a drama full of people I couldn’t care a whit about. Changsoo and Jiyi’s flirtationship is, at least in the first six episodes (
and honestly I don’t see myself continuing with this show in the future Edit: I am no longer following this show), everything that Joongki and Yoonha’s relationship is not. It’s honest and transparent, a little bit silly and awkward and, golly, the characters actually communicate about their feelings and insecurities! Go figure!!
Granted, I’m speaking from what I’ve seen of the Changsoo-Jiyi dynamics up till episode 6. I’m sure the writers will screw it all up with stupid misunderstandings and heartbreak and such now that all the cute is out of the way. I know their relationship is bound to have drama but it’s just a question of whether the characters suddenly devolve into frustrating idiocy or continue to communicate openly like they have thus far. Please don’t ruin this couple, 작가님!
Anyway, I love this couple. Certain silly, unrealistic K-drama lines still make me swoon on occasion (despite having a heart of ice, or so I’ve been told) and there was one such exchange between Changsoo and Jiyi in episode 5.
Jiyi says she knows he’s a “bad guy” – as in, he dates around without the intention of getting married. She pouts and tells him not to do nice things for her because she’s starting to like him more and more. They go back and forth a little and then…
창수: 이건 뭐냐?
지이: 좋아지고 있어요. 안 좋아하려고 했는데 넘 귀여워요.
지이: 만나면 꿈 꾸는 것 같아요 […] 세상에 공짜는 없지만 사랑에 공짜는 있잖아요. 본부장님은 점점 좋아지는데 나는 점점 싫어져요. 이럼 안되잖아요.
창수: 넌 남자한테 책임감 끌어내는 능력이 있다?
Changsoo: What are you doing?
Jiyi: I’m starting to like you. I wasn’t going to like you, but you’re so cute.
Jiyi: Going out with you is like being in a dream […] Nothing is free in life, but love is free, you know. I’m starting to like you more and more, but I’m starting to hate myself more and more too. That’s not okay, is it?
Changsoo: You have a talent for dragging a sense of responsibility out of a man, you know?
책임감 is literally defined as a sense of responsibility. Obligation. Duty. Those are words are associated with the different roles we play as a person i.e. my “duty” to my family as a daughter or sister, my “responsibility” as a tenant, my “obligation” to pay taxes as law-abiding citizen, fulfilling my duties at work and owning up to them, etc.
Perhaps it’s just me, but I rarely associate the word responsibility/obligation/duty with friends or lovers. Is that individualistic Western thinking? I will do things and act a certain way to my friends because I cherish them and care for them. If they ask for help, I will always do my best to help them, but I don’t feel a sense of “responsibility” for them. I do what I do for my friends out of love, but not responsibility. I don’t see my friend and think, “I have a duty to do x or y for this person.” I think, “I will do x or y for this person because I care for them.”
That’s not to say that love and responsibility are mutually exclusive! But they certainly do not always overlap.
Maybe that’s why I’ve always been fascinated by the Korean concept of couples vowing to “take responsibility” for each other. When you tell someone you love them, I guess it’s implicit that you will support each other come what may, etc. but (and this may just be me reading too much into it) there’s something deeply serious about the idea of having 책임감. Taking responsibility for a person. It’s something I would expect out of a marriage but not out of friendship or courtship; and yet, it is not unusual to hear Korean couples say “책임 질게” to each other.
To me, 책임 질게 connotes an earnestness, gravity, and a depth of love that’s lacking in a mere “I love you.” These days, “I love you” is so overused it’s practically meaningless.
Now, I think the phrase is mostly used by the man and said to the woman in the relationship, though not always. The feminist in me protests, “Men and women should be responsible for themselves!” but then I think, how truly comforting it must be to hear those words from a best friend or lover, regardless of your gender. It’s like saying, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything. Just depend on me.”
On those especially stressful days when you aren’t strong enough to take on the world, sometimes just hearing those words is enough to take the weight off your shoulders.
Okay so this happened: On May 28, Epik High commenced their 2015 North American Tour at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco.
AND I WAS THERE.
This was a big deal for me because it was my first ever concert. I’m a homebody and the idea of standing in line, enduring screaming fans and general madness just to hear/see artists live never seemed appealing to me – especially since I can just listen to a CD or watch a YouTube video in the comfort of own home. But I’m thrilled to give up my… uh… concert virginity to Epik High. Honestly there’s no other group I’d want that honor to go to. Hee.
I still can’t believe my two eyes saw them in the flesh.
San Francisco was the first stop on their tour so their energy was really fresh. Tablo’s always been my musical bias (I still think he’s one of the best wordsmiths in this industry) but Mithra was FANTASTIC at rapping live. The venue was small enough that the whole concert itself felt intimate. So intimate, in fact, that their true dorkiness shone through. During the intermission, the trio listed off their favorite things about North America and – I kid you not – Tablo said geocities and hotmail. Woooowww. (Tablo couldn’t hide his nerdiness – Mithra and Tukutz named some popular movies and Tablo’s like, “Uh… F. Scott Fitzgerald…” I screamed extra loud for that.)
A fan requested poor Mithra to do aegyo…. let’s just say that is a memory I want to bleach out of my brain forever.
The concert ranged from songs from their relatively new stuff (“Born Hater,” “Don’t Hate Me,” “Happen Ending,” “Eyes, Nose, Lips”) to old fan favorites (“Umbrella,” “Love, Love, Love,” “Fan”). Such nostalgia. A tiny part of me wishes I had splurged on VIP tickets but we had pretty great seats overall.
I swear I have photos from the concert and will add them to this post at a later time (they’re on my phone – haven’t had time to transfer them to my computer). Better late than never! Photos below.
I consider 나인: 아홉 번의 시간 여행 (Nine: Nine Time Travels) to be the Korean drama to end all Korean dramas for me. In a good way. It’s not my all-time favorite drama, but it hit me in a way that no K-drama since has been able to. In fact, I don’t think I’ve managed to finish a single Korean drama since watching Nine – as if I’ve been cursed by the magical Himalayan incense myself! About a year ago, there was news that Nine would be remade for an American audience which made me simultaneously roll my eyes and perk up my ears. If it ever came into fruition, I love the story line and the questions it raises enough to consider watching it. Cautiously.
Anyway, this is an old piece came that out in the April 2013 edition of Marie Claire Korea, right when Nine had started to air that I translated on a whim last night. If you’re looking for something mind-bending, thrilling, heartbreaking, and suspenseful all at once, I highly recommend Nine – just sit tight through the first couple (rather slow) episodes!
(Disclaimer: As with all my other translations, all copyright belongs to the original source. I am not profiting by this translation and cannot guarantee its accuracy. In fact, I’ve taken a few liberties with my translation this time by prioritizing meaning and written fluency over more literally representing the original text.)