09 January, 2013

King of Dramas: A Lesson in K-drama

Well, for a while the title of this post was: King of Disappointment, but then I thought, hmmmm, that's rather melodramatic considering how much I actually enjoyed, no loved this drama. I really do love this drama - but it did leave me rather disappointed, and a little angry.

And it all happened mostly with those ending episodes. So before we commence, the drama has three circulating titles: the Korean one - Drama King (I sort of like the English connotations of a drama queen-esque feel, though I don't know if the Korean has those overtones), The Lord of the Dramas (the official international title), and The King of Dramas (which is the one I saw most of the time bandied about online)...so I might use that one in the review...

From episode 1 this drama was crack. The soundtrack was so perfectly cued and matched for the maximum dramatic effect (and I really loved it throughout the drama - yay for the OST), the comic timing was impeccable, the drama was intense, the characters were fleshed out and fabulous, Kang Hyun Min had me laughing out loud, Anthony became more and more fabulously awesome, Lee Go Eun was superb, Joo PD made me want to just cuddle him, and it was one of my best drama experiences of 2012...and then the last episode happened...and it was like all happiness was drained from this drama for me. I had to take a day off before actually finishing this post because I was just so upset. Silly, I know - I shouldn't let drama get to me like that. I think though that I'll have to come back to the happy to end the review because otherwise that would just be sad.

First off, I am not really sure why the drama had such low ratings because I found it clever, tongue-in-cheek, and incredibly well-done (though not perfect), and I am wondering if that is why SBS decided that the whole blindness melodrama arc needed to be introduced. Really, what is it with the illnesses and K-drama?! It almost seemed like the writer was like, really, you want an extension because your other drama isn't ready? Well, screw that, I am going to make it suck just to stick it to the man! (this is absolute and complete speculation on my part). It's also possible that the drama really wanted the four episode extension, and had a really great story arc for 20 episodes, but got stuck with 18 and no special. Who knows, what's done is done. So we ended up with a final episode that was just blah/awful/okay in parts.

The pacing for the last episode was terrible! It was choppy, poorly edited, incomplete, and rushed. At least episode 17 had some really great emotional moments (like with Anthony's mom), but in episode 18, we saw the mom, and I don't even think we barely got to hear her speak before the scene cut to the possible "miracle" study in Florida announcement by the doctor. There was just no time to feel any emotion. Something that I LOVED from the earlier 16 episodes (and some of 17) was that the PD/writer knew how to use silence, and pauses in dialogue to really build the emotional impact of a scene. That was completely missing from episode 18. And what hurts the most about that for me, is that the actors really were so amazing, and they didn't really get to show that build-up and emotional resolution in the final episode. This just leaves me with a feeling of, wait, what, is the drama finished? It doesn't really feel like it because there has been no catharsis. Nada, zilch, zero.

You are probably saying, but dewaanifordrama, there was story resolution...and yeah, I will concede, the story finished, but I don't really feel like it was resolved. It was all too neatly tied up with perfect, pretty bows to be truly satisfying. Kang Hyun Min and Sung Min Ah end up together happily making CFs (what?! yeah, I could see it was building up to that, but really - we need more before we got there),  Representative Oh got his just desserts (in the world's most predictable take-over), Director Nam and his dad reconcile - okay, whatever, and Anthony dies only to be resuscitated by Lee Go Eun holding his hand. Really, that was all you could come up with drama? I would much rather have had her beating his chest over and over with her fist, which could actually result in her kick-starting his heart (it's a medical maneuver for getting a heart to start again - and then all of a sudden I have Kimura Shunji flashbacks where he stabs the stimulant into the guy's heart over and over, killing and reviving him over and over, but I digress...). And what happened to Goo PD (who I think would have made a more interesting character as a recovering alcoholic instead of just being able to quit cold turkey)?

One last thing before some happy - Anthony and Lee Go Eun. I did want them to end up together, but I don't think the ending was particularly satisfactory. We did get some great moments at the end of epsiode 17, leading into them watching the sunrise together - those moments were lovely, but here is why I have issues with the ending. (Side note - what was the drama intending with the whole toothbrushes scene? Either they're together, and he is actually there and it means something...or he just keeps the toothbrush there to worry her mom, but decides to stay on his rooftop looking contemplative instead of being with the woman he loves. Okay, whatever.) Another thing, the cutting of scenes/editing left me confused how things were progressing between them (and then we also have that time jump to add to that confusion). We see this in the airport where all the trust and honesty about feelings sort of went out the window with him lying to her about his flight - I get that he lies because he's done it whole drama long - but I thought we had gotten past that with Anthony and Lee Go Eun. And then the whole: "You wouldn't have let me go and help finish the drama, so I lied to you" that is not healthy people. I thought the drama was all about subverting clich├ęs - and maybe, just maybe having a communicative couple, for once! Fine, I can deal with all that, and then that terrible death scene - I have already talked enough about that, no more. I just want to forget that they even tried to do that in the drama. *Thinks of all the great moments between Anthony and Lee Go Eun and all the amazing parts of the drama*

Let's cut to the end. Why does being blind mean that he has to become a third-rate producer? (I am actually okay with his choice to forgo the possible miracle treatment and go blind (it's a lot more powerful than the stupid death scene thing). Being blind does not mean that he becomes mentally handicapped. Yes, I understand that he might not be able to actually see, but he could get audio versions of scripts, or be a mega-awesome producing consultant. Blindness doesn't mean that a person becomes sub-human. People can still be major contributors, they don't need to become third-rate. It's insulting to people who deal with handicaps like blindness. And why in the world does him being blind mean that she has to stop being a top writer? Really, we're going to waste her talent because she's married to/in a relationship with Anthony who has become third-rate in the drama world (only because he's blind)? That actually made me more angry than anything - it just seemed to hit home that the drama wasn't that concerned about being new and innovative, and was content to make sure that the formerly sassy, spunky, talented, go-for-her-dreams Lee Go Eun settled for working as a third-rate writer. And I think it's mostly because she's a woman, and heaven forbid that a woman actually be successful if her husband/partner can't be as successful! Doing things like this just undid the previous awesomeness of everything that had gone before. *sigh*

Okay, to end on some happy. Kim Myung Min KILLED in this role!!! I was so impressed with his acting, with his command of expression, emotion, and ability to portray the complexity of a man such as Anthony - all within the comedic and dramatic aspects of the drama. I felt like his character progression was natural and heartfelt. And there were just such excellent details to his character - like the briefcases he always carried - they were so Anthony. Anthony seems like a real person, and not just a character in a drama. One scene that I loved for all it's heartfelt, earnest hilariousness was when he watched "Love Letter" - it was just so excellent. I also really loved the scenes with his mother, and of course the scenes with Lee Go Eun. They were just so excellently paired. I didn't feel like their pairing was at all unnatural, they just seemed to fit, and they had a natural chemistry and rapport. (And of course, for me as a viewer, it doesn't hurt that he is a particularly attractive man). This is most definitelty a drama character I will remember vividly because of Kim Myung Min's performance.

The last time I saw Jung Ryo Won was the in My Name is Kim Samsoon (her starring in Gummi's MV doesn't count), and that was the first drama I watched - I hated her guts! That of course is largely to her credit, but wow, she blew me away as Lee Go Eun. She was smart, sassy, spunky, talented, and I really loved her down-to-earth beauty styling. She just shone with a sort of radiant and alive beauty. I think I also just loved that she was someone who was good, kind, and true - she had this sort of innocence, but not in a cloying aegyo kind of way - it was just natural. She was an easy person to trust, both for the viewer, and also for Anthony. She was also not afraid to say to Anthony - I like you, but then she didn't spend episodes and episodes pining for him and being insipid and manipulative. Two favourite scenes with her come to mind - when she goes to get Kang Hyun Min and makes him come with her at "gun-point", and then the scene where the truck breaks down out in the freezing boondocks. That part where they have to hug the barrel, and then later snuggle - it was just a lovely scene with a very natural and just heartfelt quiet beauty that I loved. Pretty much any scene with her in it, I loved!

The supporting cast were great too. PD Goo (Jung In Ki) was fabulous, and funny, and I just enjoyed him. Joo PD and the office staff were adorable, but particularly Joo PD - I totally have a crush on Suh Dong Won now. I loved his smile, and then his disappointed scowling at Anthony (you know that scene where he's washing the car in episode 17) - just adorable! Director Nam (Kwon Hae Hyo) gave a fabulous performance as the director trying to retain some dignity and honour to the art of making of drama - I really did love him. Sung Min Ah (Oh Ji Eun) was actually not too annoying as the second female lead - I am sooooo glad that the drama didn't go too overboard with that. She was cute, and funny, and an excellent foil for Kang Hyun Min.

Choi Siwon completely and utterly made me a fan. I already love Super Junior (he's not my favourite though), but I was a little hesitant to trust his casting, but boy am I glad we got to see his Kang Hyun Min. He threw away his idol image and just had fun with his role. I don't think I'll easily be able to forget that hilariously ridiculous laugh of his, or his super funny banter with his manager. Siwon was an entirely believable Kang Hyun Min (and wasn't that Dokko Jin's house that he lived in?) Probably one of my all time favourite scenes with him was fairly early on in the drama. It's where he's sitting down with Goo PD who is describing his vision of episode 1 of Kyungsung Morning, and Siwon is enraptured. What was so perfect and hilarious was Kang Hyun Min's hand actions to ask for applause from his manager, and then his abrupt hand motion to stop. It was just perfectly timed, and played so perfectly. I just enjoyed every time Kang Hyun Min came on screen.

See, I can be positive about it...all in all, I really did love this drama. I think I will just pretend that the last episode didn't happen - I will rewrite it in my head that we get a better and funnier relationship development between Kang Hyun Min and Sung Min Ah - hey, they might not even end up together but instead pretend to be a couple to make the most money that they can, nah, that wouldn't really be true to her character. We would get to see more of Joo PD *smile* . World Productions would become a force to be contended with (I'm not sure if I would keep the Taesan deal thing), and Lee Go Eun would go on to become a first class writer who was much sought after, and Anthony would be a first-rate producer/consultant guy (and I would probably have skipped the whole blindness arc and if we needed some more drama, well let it be with Kyungsung Morning, and not that whole noble-idiocy-we-must-keep-the-couple-apart nonsense that was just stupid melodrama). And we would get to actually see the scene with Lee Go Eun, Anthony, and his mom that was cut short. Well, I am no drama writer, but maybe that's what I'd do. Okay, so I loved this drama, and it is definitely worth watching, but know that if you do watch it, the ending is what it is.


  1. You should check out History of a Salaryman. Jung Ryo Won was really good. In fact the whole. Drama was awesome.

  2. Thanks for the recommendation! I have been meaning to check it out.