What’s up in the blogsphere? Drama News and Recs

So I’m not really looking forwards to any drama coming out this week (thank goodness because there are already too many lakorns out there I want to watch), so instead I wanted to point out some posts I’ve seen that are interesting to us drama lovers.

I’m going to be busy this week and possibly next week finishing up projects and updates to my other blog so unfortunately won’t be getting to blog about the newly released lakorns until later on. Hopefully, this will give you a good idea on where to go to find more posts on lakorns and more reviews.

Drama News

My Husband in Law aired in both China and Thailand at the same time.
  • Because of the popularity of Asian content as demonstrated in this article, Netflix is pouring even more money and resources into making Asian content.
  • A lot of that will be South Korean of course, but lakorns in particular are gaining in popularity in Asia (see here and here – not in English), and this means more money will go into making them, a good thing if you ask me that should increase the production costs of lakorns, but hopefully also reward good writing, directing and so on.
  • Blobofcolour had a post about the rising popularity of lakorns in Singapore here.
  • Now sites like Viu.com and Dimsum.my have lakorns that are English subbed. It’s like we have viki back, but unfortunately only certain Asian countries can access the sites.

Drama Reviews, Recaps and Recommendations

  • Lovefia has been on a roll recently, taking a look at lakorns like Talay Luang, Mia Jum Pen, and Dao Kon La Duang, as well as doing recaps of a drama on my to watch list, Duangjai Nai Montra.
  • You can also catch Lovefia on twitter.
  • I love it when fansubbers do reviews of the lakorns they watched subbed, so check out Thippy‘s 2020 Lakorn Recap and Reviews. She did a rant on Rahut Rissaya 2020, which I sorta agree about, but I also liked it more than she did. And I still have to finish the last 3 episodes (I heard disappointing things about them so I’m not excited.😟)
  • Want to find more recommendations on 2020 dramas to watch, Chinese dramas in particular? I thought this post by mz4jun was really well made.
  • Lakorn Galaxy recently did a Best Lakorns of 2020 list here.

And that’s it for this post. Do you know of any bloggers I’ve missed? What are you favorite go to blogs?

2020 in Lakorns: Drama! Reviews

Lots of dramas were English subbed in 2020, so many I can’t really talk about all of them. So I decided to focus on the lakorns I’ve actually watched at least half of and give some mini reviews so you can decide whether you want to watch or not. And there weren’t a lot of dramatic lakorns that I felt should be English subbed that wasn’t except perhaps the Thai remake of Japanese dorama Mother (2020), so I won’t have a part two this time where I talk about the dramas I wished were subbed.

This year, I’ve already done 2020 comedy lakorns part 1, part 2, historical lakorns and action lakorns. Last year, I put all the 2019 English subbed lakorns in part 1 and if they were not subbed, but sounded interesting, or different and should be subbed, they were part 2. So you can check out these posts to see what you may have missed out on in 2019. So 2019 action lakorns part 1 here, part 2 here, 2019 comedy lakorns part 1 here, part 2 here, 2019 drama lakorns (slap n kiss included) part 1 here, part 2 here. 2019 historical lakorns here.

ENGLISH SUBBED

Drama can be a very broad category covering everything from melodramas, more even keeled, but non comic lakorns, to slap and kiss lakorns. I decided to narrow this to lakorns that don’t fall into other categories, so if it’s a horror lakorn or historical lakorn, I’m not covering it here. I did decide to include slap and kiss lakorns because I’m not making a separate post about them.

My Forever Sunshine (2020) – The story about Paeng, a girl with a tragic life. After losing her father, she has to go live at Artit’s house. The only way for her to be able to stay at this house is to be with him. But no one expected that her approaching Artit nearly costs him his life. He ends up hating her to the bones and she is exiled far from home for four years until the day they come across each other again. One might think that time will lessen hate, but not for Artit. Not only he still hates her, but he also hates her even more than before. But in order to keep her final promise to Artit’s father, she must endure it! (Source: VIU)
(Source: MyDramaList)

Reason it’s interesting? My Forever Sunshine (2020) started off on a really intense note, with our main heroine losing her parents and practically witnessing their deaths at the age of 16. She proceeds to really self-destruct and then we have a time skip of years before we meet her again and we land in a farm comedy. Literally. I was expecting this intense, psychological study of a girl in crisis that would really have revolutionize lakorns forever and instead I got a farm comedy. We stay in that farm comedy mode for most of the drama, only near the last episodes is the trauma of the first few episodes even addressed. I felt this was such a lost opportunity, but on the other hand, I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the comedy part or how the romance slowly develops. And why can’t a drama choose to focus on someone who’s healthy and whole rather than broken by their traumatic past? Still, it was disappointing in all. Subbed by Muse.

Payakorn Sorn Ruk (2020) – Rosita gets into a car accident and suddenly gets a talent where she sees the future when she touches a rose. She becomes a famous fortune teller. One day, she makes a prediction in public to reporters that Theeruth, a famous actor, will make a woman pregnant and have a secret child. That prediction gets Theeruth into trouble and their relationship becomes antagonistic from that day. A few years later, there is a charity event and the host invites Theeruth and four celebrities as special guests, and also invites Rosita to tell their fortunes. Five celebrities choose different roses and give them to her to read. Once Rosita touches those roses, she sees sweet scenes of Theeruth and herself hugging, kissing and loving each other very much. She is so shocked. Her reaction is so strange and the five celebrities are very curious about what she saw. Rosita does not tell anyone and claims that she saw nothing. But all the guests do not believe her. After that day, something strange happens to her. She is attacked by someone and the suspect is one of the five celebrities whose fortunes she had read. The biggest suspect is Theeruth who had always been her opponent. But one day, he coincidentally saves her from the criminal and also offers to let her live with him as it is the safest place for her since everyone thinks that they are opponents. Their relationship improves little by little from that day through many dangerous situations to find the real criminal who wants to kill Rosita. (Source: James Ji Fansub)

Reason it’s interesting? Overall a solid drama, Payakorn Sorn Ruk (2020) featured one of the top themes in 2020 lakorns where the main character has some sort of special powers, be it ESP or some other type of power. This drama also had one of the best male leads in any drama, he was very sweet, protective and he was always watching out for the heroine. James Jiyaru did an excellent job acting as Theeruth. I didn’t feel the same enthusiasm for a heroine (or her hairstyles, which distracted me greatly as they seemed to change multiple times in the same episode.) but she was okay too. This was a mystery/thriller as someone kept attacking the nang’ek and you had to figure whodunit from a range of suspects, and while the main villains weren’t too surprising, I enjoyed the mystery and learning more about what was behind the attacks. Subbed by Muse.

Mia Archeep (2020) – The Plan is a business that turns women into perfect ladies for a man, which is managed by Mr. Robert. He calls these women the “Ideal Wife”. Chollada is from a middle-class family who became a perfect and educated lady by The Plan. She was considered to be a great product from the company. Mr. Robert thinks she’s perfect for Kasidit and tries to invite him for this service many times. Kasidit starts to think of this as a fun game, so he accepts it and meets Chollada. It’s no longer a game for him when he falls in love with her, but he doesn’t know if she truly likes him or if it’s a set up by The Plan.

Reason it’s interesting? Solid lakorn overall, that played up some clichés, had loving family relationships. Unlike some lakorns, this lakorn felt much more grounded in the present, with the female lead Chollada having a more modern relationship with the male lead played by Mai Warit. There is some angst here because of the premise and also people who are trying to break up their relationship, but I felt this was a surprisingly well made lakorn and the main couple had lots of chemistry. Subbed by Neko.

So Wayree (2020) – Two hotel moguls, once family friends since their grandparents’ generation, are now sworn enemies, and are competing with each other to become the top in the industry. Parin never thought that he would be part of the hatred. Although his father is the son in law of Sirimantra, his mom was only a mistress who was abandoned in America. Growing up, he never knew what having a father was like. Paramita is the only heiress of the famous Emporium real estate mogul. Before going overseas to further her studies, something horrible happened to her. Four years later, she came back with a set of twins but she told everyone that they were her cousins, adopted by her aunt. She then meets the man who caused her misery after many years and decides to willingly help her father into the warring game after finding out that he was the son of her father’s rival. Parin and Paramita, standing on opposite sides of the line as sworn enemies
(Source: asianfuse.net)

Reason it’s interesting? This was one of the most popular and talked about dramas of 2020. I watched about half of it before I couldn’t take it any more. There is a lot of drama here and this is a slap and kiss drama featuring a rape. I was there for the female empowerment, the heroine getting revenge on her abuser, but I just couldn’t stand how weak the heroine became as she fell in love? And the fall in love part? I didn’t see that. How, when, where did she fall ln love? I wanted to see them reunite, but not without major groveling on hero’s part and actions that showed he was sincere. I also wanted heroine to be more fierce and really make him work for his redemption. Kids are cute though. This lakorn really could have used some rewriting and more seasoned actors. Subbed by Neko and Muse.

Prom Pissawat (2020) – This is the story of God bringing two unlikely people from different parts of the world together. Plapol, a half Korean-half Thai man who grew up in Korea his whole life but chose to escape to Thailand sees his new step-mother as just another gold digger after his dad’s wealth. He pretty much thinks that of all women because his mother disappeared from his life since divorcing his dad when he was young. With hatred for his step-mother, Plapol decided to go to Thailand to find his mother. While in Thailand, Plapol goes to a bar and meets a young woman named Pantawan, a sexy singer who’s popular among the men there. He views her in the same light as the other women he has come across in his life. However, Pantawan is not that type of woman and doesn’t take insult from anyone especially from a misogynistic man like him. The two always get in a fight but eventually they came to an understanding and fell in love. But after love blossomed, all is not rosy for Plapol and Pantawan because of one truth that gets revealed: Pantawan’s mother is Plapol’s new step-mother. (Source: NinjaKKN) ~~ Adapted from a novel of the same title by author Tepita

Reason it’s interesting? This was another popular drama and for many of the same reasons that the previous drama was popular. Again the very angsty story, lots of drama and conflict. Here we also had a tale of families divided and reunited. But overall, the storyline was pretty cliché and mediocre. I didn’t really feel the romance, or the acting or anything really took it to another level which made me want to continue watching the last part of it. I may still finish it, I don’t know, but it’s no priority. Subbed by Muse and Neko.

Rahut Rissaya (2020) When the heiress of a billionaire family lost everything including her parents who got murdered…lost all the properties to her aunt and her daughter. Her revenge starts with a businessman who is a fiancé of her aunt’s daughter, as he becomes a chess piece in her game. She uses a confidential document that shows his father’s bad deed as a way to force/pressure him. But their closeness turns to love. Before she starts to see the value in his love and to learn how to forgive, everything is almost too late. (Source: Choi’s_(MY) at MyDramaList)

Reason it’s interesting? A remake of a 2007 titular lakorn, this lakorn seemed more like a complete reimaging of the 2007 version rather than a remake. Just a lot of scenes changed and/or deleted and new scenes added. Characters were fleshed out, or changed and so on. I liked the idea of the changes more than the execution because often times the new dialogue/scenes wasn’t very compelling. Still, good chemistry between the couple and Bank Artit really gives a stand out performance here as Siwa, who has to go through seeing his family torn apart and yet also have a new love bloom. This is even darker than the previous 2007 version, with more attempted murders/murders, but there are some comic moments here to lighten things up. Subbed by Thippy.

Many More English Subbed Lakorns

There were a lot of lakorns subbed this year, in part thanks to streaming platforms like Viu, Dimsum, which isn’t accessible from the US. So there were a lot of lakorns I didn’t watch but still wanted to include in case you’re interested.

First Impression/Recap: Trab Fah Mee Tawan EP01

So I’ve pretty much watched everything on my watching list (and more) and will be making a post about my reactions to those dramas soon. But I wanted to make a separate post on Trab Fah Mee Tawan, now known as My Forever Sunshine (2020) because it’s good. Really good. Production wise, directing, writing, acting, this is a grand slam. It’s the only lakorn I’ve watched so far this year that I’ve felt that way about. By the way, I have started posting on instagram as I watch, I might try twitter and/or facebook as well, but my instagram is here, so you can follow along as I watch.

Synopsis: The story about Paeng, a girl with a tragic life. After losing her father, she has to go live at Artit’s house. The only way for her to be able to stay at this house is to be with him. But no one expected that her approaching Artit nearly costs him his life. He ends up hating her to the bones and she is exiled far from home for four years until the day they come across each other again. One might think that time will lessen hate, but not for Artit. Not only he still hates her, but he also hates her even more than before. But in order to keep her final promise to Artit’s father, she must endure it! (Source: VIU)

I’ve watched the only episode out so far, and the airing schedule is really wacko.

I have a feeling this has to do with it being on Viu tv and Tencent, not to mention WeTv. So lots of places for fans to watch. You can watch this on Muse as well.

Our first episode starts with Artit, the pra’ek showing off his soccer skills at a match, then eating with his friends as he moons over the girl of the group, Ling. Next we see our nang’ek Paeng/Fahmai who is getting bullied by other girls, but Artit steps in and helps her. Paeng tries to hid her injuries from her dad, but he seems to know what’s up anyway. Then mom comes home and we get this great shot of a close, happy family in a group hug.

Paeng’s happy family

That happy family? Immediately, immediately undercut a few scenes from now. Paeng comes to eat and learns her mom isn’t there. And she goes off. She goes to a club with her maid and pretends to drink and poses with guys, all to get her mom’s attention. Artit is asked to go after her by her parent and does so, getting in a fight with some guys which lands them at the police station.

At school the next day, Paeng is about to skip school, but is stopped by Artit who tells her he knows what she is doing and asks her if it’s working? He tells her to try being good instead and she takes his words to heart, only to come home to an empty house and she eats all alone.

Meanwhile, we see Artit being greeted by the staff and his parents with warmth and sitting down to eat with them.

What are you doing playing around instead of working? Lah gag. As in this scene made me want to gag.

Later, he goes on a bike ride and passes his servant who’s playing and has the nerve to try to dictate to them how they should spend their FREE TIME and then plays soccer with them. Not sure of the purpose of the scene except to make him out to be a total prick. Writer? Could you elaborate?

That scene was completely typical and awful. But regardless, he redeems himself soon anyway. His father has been fooled by his new business partner and it looks like the family has lost their farm. This lands his father in the hospital. Artit stands up against the lawyer who comes to their farm with hired guns who came to their farm and then Paeng and her father shows up.

Turns out Paeng’s father and Artit’s father are old friends, and Paeng and Artit knew each other when Paeng was just four and Artit was? Not sure how old, at least 8 or 10 or something. Paeng and Artit promise friendship with each other at the same time we see Paeng’s father helps Artit’s family to keep their farm by loaning them money.

Artit and his friends – Love Rival, Comic Sidekick, Ling, Artit

We also see more of Artit’s friends and their connections, don’t really want to go into it, suffice to say both Artit and his friend have a rivalry going on for the only female member, Ling, of their group, and there’s the usual comic sidekick too.

Paeng and her mom mend their fences, for like two seconds, lol.

Paeng and her dad had gone to the farm after Paeng got upset learning her mom went on vacation with friends without telling her first and Paeng and her mom reunite and mend ways after her mom apologizes and gives Paeng one of the matching bracelets she bought.

This doesn’t last long of course, as her mom reneges on a dinner promise she made with Paeng and Paeng goes to find her. Paeng does find her mom after asking around, but when they get in an argument, Paeng accuses her mom of not caring about her and runs away. Artit is tasked with finding her and does so, finding she’s safe and sound, if not a bit hungry. She doesn’t want to go home though, and Artit agrees.

At end, Artit finds Paeng, whom he briefly feared jumped after seeing her backpack on railing.

My thoughts: This is good. It’s been one episode, things can change, but this lakorn really surprised me with the strength of its acting, writing and directing. I loved how we see this picture of a big happy family that Paeng desperately wants, and that is immediately undercut as we see Paeng’s desperation to keep her mother close and how she tries to get her family together (in one scene, she orchestrates an elaborate date for her parents, telling them she wants a sibling.)

Paeng eating alone.

I also loved the way the director (I’m assuming it was a directing choice) chooses to layer scenes together and ties them together. For example, the picture of Paeng sitting alone is cut by scenes of Artit with his family. Then we have Paeng and Artit promising to be friends while we see their parents SHOWING their deep friendship to each other. The directing reinforces the previous scenes, giving both more weight. That’s what good directors do, give more underlying meaning to scenes.

And can I just say how much I appreciate Kao Supassara’s performance as a 15 year confused and vulnerable teen? She nails it! The deep yearning in Paeng for a real family, the desperation she feels when she thinks that family is slipping away from her. The relationship between Paeng and her mom makes me uneasy. I can’t tell if its because of the acting (and I’m not talking about Kao) or that their relationship is supposed to make me anxious, because it’s so unstable and fraught (on Paeng’s side) at least with emotion.

I also appreciate Mark’s performance here as well. It’s not just that his character is much more likeable than in My Husband in Law, his caring scenes with his father, his brotherly advice to Paeng and how he looks after her feel very nature and realistic. Maybe this has something to do with the directing as well.

I was unsure based on the synopsis, which seems to suggest Paeng tries to get Artit by seducing him, that I wanted to watch this because, yuck. That’s more a nang’rai’s action then the nang’ek. But now I totally understand and get it. Of course Paeng would do ANYTHING, ANYTHING to have the warmth and love of a family forever. We’ve seen how loving Artit’s family is and I can imagine Paeng wanting to hold on to that by any means necessary. Definitely will be watching more. In terms of recapping, this will have back to back to back episodes, so I don’t know about more recaps, that would be alot to do in a timely fashion. But who knows? We’ll see.

Credits: mydramalist.com, asianfuse.net, asianfuse.wiki

Poster Love❤

I have written about lakorn posters before, comparing them to Korean posters here, but I wanted to do a separate post on lakorn posters as there have been a number of them that have stood out to me in the recent years. Join me for some poster lovin’. 😊

Dare To Love: Hai Ruk Pipaksa (2020)

I really love the fresh, simplistic look of this poster, the colors really complement each other and the blue pops. This makes me want to watch it, I’m thinking it will be a cute, light hearted (but sweet) romantic comedy from this poster. It’s not out yet, so we’ll have to keep waiting for it to air.

Klin Kasalong (2019)

The direct look at the camera, the possessive hand across the chest, this poster really does convey a lot about the plot. If you’re thinking possessive ghost out to get/terrorize the hero, you’re right. Look at the muted colors in this, and the fog surrounding them. I watched part of Klin Kasalong, a couple of episodes, but couldn’t stand Yaya or her voice as the sweet twin and had to bail. Nails on chalkboard aversion! Ugh!

Payakorn Sorn Ruk (2020)

This was another lakorn where the poster caught my eye first. I loved the roses, which are a big part of the lakorn by the way (and the name of the nang’ek.) I also really loved the confident, assertive pose of the nang’ek, and it made me think the lakorn would have an equally strong, confident heroine, which was pretty accurate. A good lakorn all around, my one quibble with the poster is that poor James gets less attention and should probably be looking at the nang’ek, like he did all throughout the lakorn! 😍


My Husband in Law (2020)

Loved the poses, Mew’s character of Muey really shines here, you see her love for Thien (played by Mark Prin) and her cheerful nature. I watched 4 episodes and felt the lakorn was all over the place in turns of plot, and the poster also reflected a big problem about the lakorn, Thien’s lack of love for Muey, until many episodes later. I like the unrequited love story at times, but not this time.

In Time With You (2020)

I haven’t even watched this lakorn, but that red and blue background? Come on! I had to include this lakorn just for that contrast. In reality, if you anything about the plot, the poster doesn’t really make sense. In the lakorn, it is the guy who has secretly loved the girl for a long time, while she just sees him as her best friend. But maybe it’s trying to show the girl being very comfortable with him and he holding her away stiffly and looking away to hide his feelings? That… might be a reach, lol. Anyway, I really love the font they used here as well, in fact in all of these posters.

I Hate You, I Love You

I actually watched this drama, and the poster was one of the reasons why I wanted to watch it. I was intrigued by the dark setting and the arrangements of the characters in an almost half circle. Most seemed to be focused on someone, who was focused on someone else and that caught my notice too. I thought this was a good short drama.

Credits: mydramalist.com, asianfuse.net, asianfuse.wiki

Matchup Monday: Fated To Love You Versions

So I’m taking a break from posting the OST of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay mostly because I’m still waiting for official videos of my favorite songs to be released 😋. Instead, I’m comparing and contrasting a drama and its remakes, the Taiwanese drama Fated to Love You (2008).

I’ve watched all four remakes of it (well, I’m in the process of watching the latest one now), so I thought I’d give my opinion of it. The Taiwanese drama was very popular at the time and starred big names Joe Chen and Ethan Juan. The success of it lead to more episodes then originally planned, which unfortunately lead to a bloated and more convoluted storyline in the last 3rd of the drama. Without further introduction, let’s start this matchup!

Fated to Love You (2008)

Synopsis: A really unfashionable working class girl Chen Xin Yi has the desire to tie down her handsome boyfriend to be with her. Due to certain reasons, her boyfriend gets her to go on a love cruise and she started to ponder on how to lose her virginity and tie down her boyfriend. Xin Yi ended up taking cold medicine which made her drowsy and went into Ji Cun Xi’s room. Cun Xi is the sole male heir to his family’s company and has been in love with his girlfriend, Anna, for a long time. He planned to propose to Anna on the boat but she didn’t turn up on the cruise. An island owner added drugs into Cun Xi’s drink and Cun Xi became disorientated and returned to his own room. Xin Yi and Cun Xi end up having a one night stand. Xin Yi later finds out that she’s pregnant and Cun Xi’s grandmother forces them to get married. Will a couple forced to marry for the sake of their unborn child find love with each other?

With an awesome soundtrack, wonderful female actress and real character growth in the plot, Fated to Love You (2008) did a number of things right, including the sizzling chemistry between the leads. Unfortunately, some of your interest will probably wander later on in the drama, as they added episodes because of its popularity. So yeah, the plotline could have been much tighter and shorter. But Joe Chen as the female lead is truly wonderful here and I also loved her family, her mom and the grandma too. Ethan Juan isn’t a great actor here, but he has great chemisty with Joe. 24 episodes, 1 hr 30mins each.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

So Korea is the first to remake it, basically a copy of the plot, except they do add their own Korean touches. Jang Hyuk as the male lead is basically gives this role this crazed energy (think Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean). It doesn’t really work as romance, but it is great comedy and so I would say this drama almost works better as a comedy than a romance. Jang Na Ra is the meek girl lead and I liked what she did with the role. This drama also added a few scenes between the leads, changed the actions of the 2nd female lead slightly to make her more sympathetic and also got rid of some of the minor plot points. There was one big change in the plot. See below!

Major plot spoiler (highlight to view).

One thing they added was making our male lead played by Jang Hyuk have a tragic illness, it was really lame and did little but to waste time. And yes, it was a happy ending, but still that stupid last minute illness was really unnecessary. I really can’t understand what was the thinking behind it, we don’t have enough angst, so let’s add our male lead dying? Ridiculous!

Overall, I liked it, not loved, but there were moments that worked really well. 20 episodes, 1 hr each

Rating: 3 out of 5.

You’re My Destiny (2017)

Now we finally get to the Thailand remake of Fated to Love You (2014), and this is based more on the Korean version then the Taiwanese version, lol. The remake starred Esther Supreeleela and Bie Sukrit and both did a good job together. They totally toned down the wackiness of Jang Hyuk’s portrayal of the male lead, Bie basically plays him as the romantic male lead, not the comic male lead. They also don’t bother with the major Korean added plot device I spoke about before. While I find this remake acceptable, it doesn’t really do much to change things up or enhance the story/characters. 17 episodes, 1hr each

Rating: 3 out of 5.

You Are My Destiny (2020)

Now on to the Japanese version, which at 10 episodes of 30 mins each, is by far the shortest of them. This dorama starred Takimoto Miori and Kizu Takumi, and while I thought Takimoto Miori did a good job as the female lead, I was not at all impressed by the male lead, who comes off as meaner and more cruel then in the previous versions. Perhaps it’s because this was shortened so much, they cut out a lot of the scenes and made other scenes shorter, there was less chance to build a positive rapport between the leads and give the hero chances to grovel he badly needed. Again, this seemed to be based more on the Korean remake then the original version, and obviously a number of scenes were dropped. There were also some big changes here. 10 episodes, 30min each. MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD! Highlight to view.

There are some rumors going around that there is to be a 2nd season, which we need because the remake basically stopped at a crucial point.

When the heroine goes off to another place and comes back more mature, and confident in herself, this remake stopped right as she was leaving. So it basically was an open ending.

Rating: 1 out of 5.


You Are My Destiny (2020)

Next, we have the Chinese remake which just finished airing on June 23. I haven’t watched all of it yet, but the main couple is played by Xing Zhao Lin and Liang Jie who garnered fans as the main couple in The Eternal Love (2017) and its sequels. This drama looks like it will have pretty significant tweaking from the original. They’ve added more scenes and background info on the heroine and her relationship with her mom, got rid of her sisters. Changes I like. The only thing I don’t think works that well is the main couple. Maybe I’ll change my mind later on, but for now, I don’t find either of the pair’s acting to be great. This version probably has the weakest actors outside of Japanese version where I didn’t think the hero was all that great actingwise. I am still watching this, 6 episodes in so this is a very preliminary review. 36 episodes, 45 mins each.

Wedding day

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Credits: mydramalist.com, asianfuse.net, asianfuse.wiki

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay – Recap 2

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020) continues to be a dark fairy tale sprung to light. And like with any Grimm fairy tale, we begin to see the bits and pieces of a dark past filled with blood and violence that brought this fairy tale to life. You can find this drama English subbed at Netflix.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Synopsis:

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020): The story of a community health worker at a psychiatric ward who lives on 1.8 million won (approximately $1,520) a month and a storybook writer suffering from an antisocial personality disorder. A man who denies love and a woman who doesn’t know love defy fate and fall in love, finding their souls and identities in the process. Moon Kang Tae is a community health worker at a psychiatric ward who was blessed with everything including a great body, smarts, ability to sympathize with others, patience, ability to react quickly, stamina, and more. Meanwhile, Ko Moon Young is a popular writer of children’s literature, but she is extremely selfish, arrogant, and rude. (Source: Soompi & Koreandrama.org)

Episode 2 Recap

Episode 2 starts right where episode 1 left off, Kang Tae and Moon Young are discussing why he’s here and he says her she reminds him of someone who is messed up. Then we see a flashback of a boy in an icy pond drowning. Meanwhile, a girl stands nearby and picks petals from a flower, asking should I help him or not?

A reference to the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk?

Back to the present, where they talk about bad memories. Kang Tae then tells her to tell the manager not to call again, but the manager Lee Sang In has already arrived, loaded with boxes filled with money. Moon Young learns that Kang Tae wanted her autograph and gives him it, while the manager tries to give Kang Tae the money, but he refuses the money and leaves. Moon Young watches as he leaves and says ‘he’s beautiful’ and ‘I want him’. And then we have this flight of fantasy as we see this gigantic version of our heroine trying to grab him.

When Kang Tae looks at the autographed book, he finds that she has invited them to go to her new book’s launch party and he enlists his friend Jae Soo to take his brother instead. Jae Soo has a guest, an old friend Joo Ri whom he’s excited to see and they go drinking at his place where Joo Ri asks him about Kang Tae. Meanwhile, Sang Tae is very excited to go to launch party, looking at his clothes and figuring out what to wear, while his brother is more concerned with wrapping things up so they can move. And Moon Young? She’s in the middle of a meeting at her company, queening it up as she shoots down any and all queries, she’s more interested in queries about Kang Tae, which she gets Jin Joo, the assistant to Sang In, to look for info on him.

Joo Ri meets with Kang Tae, whom it’s obvious she has a thing for as she tries to scoot closer to him on the bench, and he scoots away. She tells him that her hospital, the OK Psychiatric Hospital, is looking for a caregiver. Joo Ri tells him it’s in their hometown and there is a flashback.

Flashback: There is a stream of blood and a crime scene in a tunnel. A younger Kang Tae is seen crying over a dead body as the other brother (Sang Tae?) keep talking about a butterfly. Younger Kang Tae tries to get more details out of his brother, but Sang Tae just says that the butterfly said it will kill him if he said anything. When Kang Tae hears people arranging to split them up, he tells Sang Tae to leave and they hit the road.

Joo Ri and Kang Tae at the bus

Meanwhile back in the present, Kang Tae goes to see Joo Ri off on the bus. She offers him a place to stay if he comes with her and her mom if he took the job. Kang Tae thanks her but says he won’t go. As she leaves on the bus, Joo Ri remembered something she had previously talked about with Jae Soo about how Kang Tae never builds deep relationships because he’ll just leave. She wondered why he leaves, but Jae Soo just says it’s because of that butterfly.

Later, Kang Tae looks up jobs and then looks at Ok Psychiatric Hospital where he sees an article saying that you have to face your traumas to overcome them. The next day, he calls his friend Jae Soo, but he doesn’t answer because he’s out cold, so Kang Tae has to take his brother to the launch party and stuff. There’s this wonderful little sequence of pure joy as Sang Tae walks to the launch party with his party, seeing these balloons and birds and animated sequences in a full blown musical number.

At the launch party, it’s obvious that Moon Young is looking for them. When they arrive, Kang Tae gets a call and leaves to take it, making sure his brother is in line. The CEO Sang In is having a conversation with a critic of Moon Young. Then Sang Tae sees someone wearing a dinosaur costume and he’s absolutely entranced by it and he goes and starts to point out details about dinosaurs to the kid in the costume. He’s not doing anything really, but the dad pushes him and makes a scene. When the dad touches him, Sang Tae starts screaming and his brother runs back from the call to calm down. And we see the heroine making a calculation, to help or not? She decides in his favor, and joins the group, says that you need to apologize to the father who pushed Sang Tae. She tells him he’s ruining her book’s launch party and basically turns the table on him, not accepting his excuses. The mom steps in to protect her husband, calling the brother a lunatic harassing her son, but the heroine just ask her are you a psychiatrist? She then calls her Crazy B*tch and everyone is shocked. Moon Young goes on to explain that lady was talking about random stuff so she thought she was a lunatic.

Moon Young faces down his critic on the stairs she pushes him down.

Next we see that Sang Tae has isolated himself and is trying to calm himself down. Kang Tae and Moon Young are waiting for him, and she’s getting impatient. They’re interrupted by her critic who is carrying bundles of money thanks to Moon Young’s CEO Sang In and he starts messing with her calling her sexy and so on. He also talks about her mother, a famous writer, who passed away somehow and her father went crazy after that and got locked up.

Moon Young goes after the critic, as Kang Tae tries to stop her. The critic threatens her and he tells her he can destroy her career with his pen. He tells her he’s tired of just receiving the money, and he would rather she humor him a little. She takes his pen and jabs at him and he totters back. She pushes him down the steps with a finger as he’s tottering on the edge and then we see an ambulance coming to take him away.

Kang Tae comes over to her and shows her a technique to help her calm down, a technique called the butterfly hug method. This is the same thing that Sang Tae was doing to himself, but she turns in his arms as she moves in close as if for a kiss. Sang Tae has come out of the closet, and Kang Tae turns to go back to him. But Moon Young is not finished with him, she has an offer for the hero and tells him that he could keep her in check, preventing her further from going out of control and that she’ll pay him a lot. He tells her that unlike his patients, drugs and injections can’t help her and so it’s just best to avoid her. Moon Young tells him he’s not avoiding her, he’s running away and we see a flashback to their younger selves where Kang Tae runs away and Moon Young calls him a coward.

The brothers ride home on the bus, and it looks like someone has a surprise for his brother as Kang Tae pulls out the dinosaur encyclopedia for Sang Tae to cheer him up. Ahhhh.

Kang Tae realizes he’s been running because HE wanted to.

At their stop, he tries to take the book from him, but Sang Tae doesn’t want to give it back and they’re interrupted by his friend Jae Soo. Kang Tae and Jae Soo have a talk, Kang Tae telling him that he needs to stop following them and get a life. Kang Tae tells him that he thought he was on the run because of his brother. But he realized that maybe he was just running away because he wanted to because life was just too hard and the easiest thing is to run away. Later, Kang Tae approaches the subject of them going back to their hometown as they are packing, but much to his surprise, his brother Sang Tae is all for it, talking about the great food they have.

The phones are off the hook and everyone is talking about the scandal that Moon Young created. We see the CEO and his team watching the news as even her past scandals are dragged up. The book burning begins and there are new calls to censor her new book, saying that it is too cruel for kids. Meanwhile Moon Young hits the road, she just got back the report from Jin Joo so she’s on her way to Kang Tae’s or their hometown.

Red shoes = obsession, excitement, invigorated.

Jin Joo also tells Sang In and he calls Moon Young, who asks him if he knows the story of the red shoes. She goes on about the story and says she is on her way to meet her pair of red shoes, Kang Tae. And so they meet again at the Ok Psychiatric Hospital, where we see Kang Tae at his new job.

My Take:

Sang Tae’s musical number

I love some of the movie musicals of the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s. (If you haven’t watched some Fred Astaire or Jane Powell you’re missing out). The musical number here with Sang Tae and balloons and dancing very much reminded me of them. And it’s somewhat surprising that in the same episode we can also learn about the death of their mother. Not to mention Moon Young’s tragic life, with her mother dead (killed?) and her father at a psychiatric hospital. Kudos to Director Park Shin Woo and the writer Jo Yong for making it work.

One of the most important moments here was when Kang Tae realized he was running away not because of his brother, but because it was easy to do. After he started running off with his brother after his mother’s death, perhaps it was just easier to move then deal with whatever problems occurred and it became a habit. But when he met Moon Young again, he woke up. Sleeping Beauty perhaps?

And Moon Young, too, has been newly invigorated, newly awakened. She probably spent her years toying and playing with her food (aka the people around her) and Kang Tae was always the good brother, the one who took care of his brother, but lead a lonely life by his side.

In fairy tales, characters have to be tested and tried before they are found worthy and deserving. Cinderella’s whole life at the hands of her stepmother was a test, Hansel and Gretel had to face a witch and Jack a giant. This isn’t just a facet of fairy tales of course, a lot of stories do this, but how many lakorns have you watched which are basically Cinderella tales with the poor, but good nang’ek has to deal with being treated like crap before she gets her hea (happily ever after) ending? So this makes me wonder, will there be a happy ever after? I think the answer is probably yes, but we’ll keep our fingers 🤞🏽.

Credits: mydramalist.com, asianfuse.net, asianfuse.wiki

Music Monday

Two episodes in and I can already tell It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is going be a favorite for me in terms of soundtrack. I’ve been scouring youtube looking for songs from the drama, and one was released, but my fav still isn’t out.

This week I will be working on more recaps, but I also want to focus on the music I love, the soundtracks that has stayed with me other the years.

Here’s the 2nd song to be released from It’s Okay to Not Be Okay ost. Waiting for the rest.
From kdrama Save the Last Dance for Me, the kdrama was good, but I loved this song more, lol.
I’ve talked about this song before, but this song from Loving, Never Forgetting is unforgettable.

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay – Recap 1

I debated whether I should write about It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020) at all, as I’m sure there will be many people (some who actually know Korean, I will be depending upon English subbed version at Netflix), who will be recapping this. But the quality of the production is a master class in so many ways that I wanted to write about, to talk about it. I could discuss the characters, the bromance, the music, the directing, the writing, but in the end, I want to focus on two things, fairy tales and cinematography.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Synopsis:

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020): The story of a community health worker at a psychiatric ward who lives on 1.8 million won (approximately $1,520) a month and a storybook writer suffering from an antisocial personality disorder. A man who denies love and a woman who doesn’t know love defy fate and fall in love, finding their souls and identities in the process. Moon Kang Tae is a community health worker at a psychiatric ward who was blessed with everything including a great body, smarts, ability to sympathize with others, patience, ability to react quickly, stamina, and more. Meanwhile, Ko Moon Young is a popular writer of children’s literature, but she is extremely selfish, arrogant, and rude. (Source: Soompi & Koreandrama.org)

Episode 1 Recap

The animation sequence ends with a shot of Moon Young (played by Seo Ye Ji), who hears a different voice (her mother?) saying no one will ever stay by your side and then we hear Moon Young’s voice saying yes, mother.

“No one can ever stay by your side because you’re a monster. Do not ever forget that. Do you understand?”

Shadow of death

“Yes, mother.”

Moon Young replies.

Back in the real world, we see a book called The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares by Go Moon Young that is beloved by Sang Tae (Oh Jung Se), the brother of Kang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun). Sang Tae had an incident where he caused a ruckus at the Daun Vocational School he attends and his brother came to talk to the people in charge. He wonders if his brother is angry, and seeing Kang Tae’s face, knows he is. Kang Tae sees Sang Tae is upset and reassures him beautifully, saying Sang Tae was never meant to stay there long anyway and they’ll find somewhere else.

Our first view of Kang Tae’s face. We saw a back view of him on the bus and walking to the school, but the first view of his face is through Sang Tae’s perspective.

Next, here’s our heroine Moon Young eating in a restaurant, dressed to the hilt. Moon Young’s lunch is interrupted by a young fan and her mom and Moon Young writes an autograph for her, but when the young girl babbles about being a princess cuz they’re pretty, Moon Young says cutting words to her, suggesting that the girl must not have read her books, because in her books, the witches are the pretty ones. She suggests the girl tell her mom she’s going to be a pretty witch, which sets the girl off. The CEO of Moon Young’s publishing company, Lee Sang In comes in as the girl and mom run off and he immediately knows what’s up as it seems like a situation he’s very familiar dealing with. As they leave, Moon Young casually steals a knife from the restaurant and puts it in her purse.

Moon Young is often set apart from others in public.

At Kang Tae’s workplace now, we get a view of various scars on his upper torso as he dresses in scrubs for his work in a mental hospital. He has to deal with a woman who is gobbling up food on the floor and elsewhere and he tries to talk to her. Eventually she hugs him, she thinking he’s her cheating hubby, but then the woman makes herself vomit all over him (presumably because said cheating hubby left her for a skinny woman). A flight of metaphors appear in place of actual vomit, an image of a waterfall and others. Kang Tae is also told of a new case, a man with an anxiety disorder who tried to kill himself and his daughter Go Eun, who is fine because she threw up the pills, but the father is being restrained.

Back to Moon Young who is headed to the hospital to do a reading of her story for the kids and their parents there. Sang In (CEO/manager) gets a call from another hospital that Moon Young’s dad stays in. Apparently, a nurse there by the name of Nam Juri (Park Kyu Young) is trying to get in contact with Moon Young to get her to sign papers as her father’s guardian so he can get a surgery. But Moon Young just says her father is dead and asks why are they trying to resurrect the dead? Juri is told by her supervisor to visit Moon Young to get the signature and we see a scene of the dad who get upsets when Juri mentions his daughter visiting him, talking about death.

A coworker asks Kang Tae about why he’s worked at so many different hospitals, changing them every year, but Kang Tae just shrugs it off. He notices that his brother Sang Tae’s favorite author is coming to the hospital and calls his brother, who immediately gets ready to go see her, but Kang Tae tells him it’s only for kids and that he’ll try to get her autograph instead. He asks his brother who’s better, he or Moon Young, but his brother hung up already and went back to his drawing.

The first meeting. Or is it? Moon Young wonders if it is destiny.

There’s a beautiful scene when Kang Tae sees someone smoking and asks them to stop. It’s Moon Young, who of course, isn’t about to just obey orders, but makes a scene of stubbing out her cigarette in his cup.

Moon Young’s reading

Moon Young starts her reading and things go beautifully until the patient Kim Seung Cheol who tried to kill his daughter tricks a worker into letting him loose and comes looking for his daughter Go Eun. As the hospital workers shut down the reading and ask families to leave, the father finds his daughter and manages to shuffle off with her and Moon Young sees them. She follows after them, taunting the father he’s too cowardly to die alone and smacks him with her purse. The knife she took falls out, and both reach for it, but she knocks it away.

Eventually, the father manages to get her in a chokehold, and we see Moon Young remembering? another scene of a young Moon Young and her dad choking her. Kang Tae comes to the rescue and ties the father up, but then he has to stop Moon Young, who has the knife now and is trying to hurt the dad. Kang Tae stops the knife with his hand around the blade, cutting himself, and Moon Young tells him he overreacted, she was only going to hurt the father a little. She tells him that there are people who kill vermin like the father without most people being aware of them.

In another frame of his horrible, no good, very bad day, Kang Tae learns he’s to take the blame for the incident, and well, he probably would have left soon anyway since he doesn’t stay in the stay place long, so he’s fired. He’s waiting for the bus, when his old friend Jo Jae Soo (played by Kang Gi Doong) comes by on a motorbike and gives him a ride. His luck being what it is, of course, it breaks down and they have to push the motorbike to his home.

“Fake.”

Kang Tae then remembers the autograph he never got, thankfully Jae Soo makes a forgery, which Sang Tae takes only one look at to denounce it as fake and goes off in a huff.

Moon Young and Juri

Meanwhile Moon Young gets an unwelcome visitor in Juri, who is trying to get her signature so Moon Young’s dad could get his operation. There is something uneasy between the two, Juri and Moon Young, who seem to have known each other in the past. After much verbiage from Moon Young about her father being physically alive with a dead soul and her mother dead, but her soul is alive, Juri gets her to sign and collapses outside the apartment, talking about how much she (Moon Young) pisses her off.

And in an almost throwaway clip, we get a brief shot of news saying someone died in solitary confinement. Go Eun’s father, the man who caused the incident at the reading. Interesting, no?

Bedtime, with both thinking of each other. Kang Tae starts to read Moon Young’s book, The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares. Basically the story goes as follows (paraphrasing here.) A boy was besieged by bad memories and nightmares that he wanted to forget so he went to a witch and she helped him. But the boy grew older and noticed he wasn’t happy. He meets the witch again to pay the price, his soul and tells her that, and she replies that the bad memories are what makes you grow stronger, more passionate and without them, you don’t have happiness.

The Boy Who Fed On Nightmares

In other words, what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.

We see the little girl Go Eun, unable to sleep, looking at the autograph of her book, in which Moon Young wrote to the girl, “Never forget today.”

Another person has nightmares as well, Sang Tae, where he’s younger and is being chased through the woods by butterflies. His screams wake up Kang Tae and his friend Je Soo who spent the night.

In the morning, Kang Tae heads out to get the autograph. He meets Moon Young of course, and she wonders what’s he’s there for? Money or even… sex? He denies it, saying he came only to see her again, her eyes that reminds him of another girl he knew, one without warmth or conscience. Moon Young asks if he was afraid of her and he tells her it was just the opposite, he liked the girl. And we see flashbacks of a boy drowning and a girl, picking flowers with the boy trailing after her. And the two stare at each other, the boy with the beautiful eyes, the girl with eyes lacking warmth.

My Take:

From the opening sequence.

When I was young, I discovered fairy tales. I would go to the library and check out swathes of Andrew Lang’s fairy tale books. I would go on to become a fan of Disney movies like The Little Mermaid and TV shows such as The Storyteller. But along the way I discovered something, that there was and is a big difference between the Disney versions of fairy tales and the Grimms Brothers original tales which contained more violence, sex, and many other facets of society. I started to watch more Hayao Miyazaki films such as Princess Mononoke, which contained multiple scenes of violence and gore as well as a more nuanced look at good and evil.

It’s Okay to Not be okay is such a tale. It is the darker side of fairy tales, the Grimms Bros version, that wants to remind you that there are always things hiding in the dark and it is better to face them, rather than pretend they’re not there.

We could argue about who is the princess in this drama, who is the villain, the Big Bad Wolf, the evil witch (Moon Young obviously wants this role 😁) or the prince (Sang Tae perhaps?). I could debate whether Kang Tae is the fairy godmother, the wise old man who sets the characters on the right path. Or whether he is the Big Bad Wolf. Because of all the characters in the drama, the most closed up and less unknown one is Kang Tae. He appears framed as if closed in a box, from the first shot we get of his face, to another frame shown below. Perhaps he is the sweet brother, competent worker he appears to be. Perhaps not. From fairy tales, we should know by now that the sweet old grandma could indeed be the wolf in disguise, or the beautiful polished apple is also a poisoned one.

Another image of Kang Tae framed by the drink machine, looking a Moon Young’s poster.

But what is clear is that it is the fairy dust sprinkled around, the visual flights of fantasy that make this a fairy tale. What is a fairy tale that is just reality with no fantasy elements? So for vomit, we see waterfalls, we see animated trash, milk. Think of these visual flourishes as Tinker Bell’s pixie dust.

Fairy tale vomit.

The main character, Moon Young, is a pure wonderful, glorious fairy tale creature. She wears clothes that mark her as such, acts as if she’s a princess (she claims to be a witch or monster, but only a princess is that entitled). What or rather who is the shadow of death that follows her? What parts do her parents play in this? And why do those around her end up dead? To be continued…

Credits: mydramalist.com, asianfuse.net, asianfuse.wiki

Music Monday

One of the genres I feel Thailand lakorns are lacking in is that of suspense and mystery. There are a few (2019’s The Stranded), and the genre is growing, but it can’t compare to South Korea dramas or especially Japan’s doramas. So I want to take a closer look at the mystery/suspense/thriller genre and my pick today is SPEC: Birth (2010).

Synopsis: The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has set up a special department named Mishou (Unidentified Crimes Unit) for hard to crack cases without evidence, witnesses, or involving special organizations. These cases are beyond the scope of Keizoku (First Investigative Division’s Unsolved Crimes Unit).

The section chief for Mishou is Kotaro Nonomura (Raita Ryu). He is a senior in age with a dignified look, so usually nobody blames him even though his answers are evasive. Saya Toma (Erika Toda) is a young woman with an IQ of 201. With her amazing intellect she became part of the faculty at the Department of Science at Kyoto University without schooling. Takeru Sebumi (Ryo Kase) is an excellant career detective. He was picked for the Metropolitan Police Department’s SIT unit and became platoon leader by the young age of 27. He is also highly skilled with guns and the martial arts.

Saya Toma & Takeru Sebumi work on cases for Mishou first by postulating the “SPEC” of the unknown criminals. They then deduce the criminal’s unknown “SPEC” and use this information to trap the criminals

(Source: mydramalist.com)

The soundtrack of SPEC is my favorite, the characters are weird, yet compelling, in particular our female lead. This series spawned a whole host of special episodes, movies etc. Even this dorama is a sequel of Keizoku (1999), which was just as awful, horrifying and beautiful as well. Honestly this is one of my favorite dramas of all time. 😍 Most of the sequels, movies, special episodes, though? Eh… 🤨

Credits: mydramalist.com, asianfuse.net, asianfuse.wiki

Music Monday

A new theme for Lakorn View! How do u like it? I’m still testing it out, so we’ll see if I keep it. In addition, this week I’m introducing more content from other dramas outside of lakorns, so today I can introduce my all time favorite ost from the Chinese drama Loving, Never Forgetting (2014). I love the drama, it’s a guilty pleasure of mine, but the song (and music in general) from the drama is wonderful. Also this week, I’m working on more posts about the brand new lakorn Who Are You? and so on.

Loving, Never Forgetting (2014) synopsis: She first met him when the blooming lotus flower was falling, only to have to part ways. Years later, when they reunited, Li Zhong Mou had all but forgotten of Wu Tong’s existence, leaving her forlorn, except the only thing he wants now from her is the guardianship to their son. 7 years long years together, can they fix their broken relationship? This drama is based off the novel by Lian Bai Se.

Such beautiful lyrics.
No scenes from the drama, but I like this version on how you can focus on just the music. The song is called How Do or What to Do? – Zhu Jie: lyrics, Authors : Zhu Jie , Lin Yu Composer: Zhu Jie

Credits: mydramalist.com, asianfuse.net, asianfuse.wiki