My Wife is a Gangster 3

There’s a tropey thing in movies where the badass hero guy goes big-league, demonstrating killer skills outside his usual environment. Maybe it’s Ray Liotta pistol-whipping the guy in Goodfellas, or Jason Statham beating up the basketball court in The Expendables. We know they deal with bigger threats, so this one’s just for fun — applied badass. I went looking through the Goodfellas listing on TV Tropes and didn’t find anything, though the scene is considered, among others, an example of their trope “All Girls Want Bad Boys.” True enough, in both cases, the badass application makes audience of a woman (“I gotta admit, It turned me on,” says Karen Hill). … More My Wife is a Gangster 3

Search: WWW | Recommended Korean Drama

“Give me Cha Hyeon,” Ga-kyeong says, and as the scene whips between reaction shots and the music swells, I’m bouncing the iPad on my knees, making a positively indescribable noise. Search: WWW often shocked me like this, inducing so much excitement and even dread, then clocking me square in the stupid grin. It was urgent somehow, to even process my experience with it — but I couldn’t. Perhaps it left me feeling so much that my thoughts were annihilated. I’d like to recommend it, but where do I even start? … More Search: WWW | Recommended Korean Drama

Lee Da-hee: Dichotomy

I promise not to make this a regular feature, especially since it’s rare anyway. It’s something I’ve always liked about actors, when an already compelling turn is underscored by just how opposite the performer seems to be in reality. It’s a strange thing to write about, but the actress Lee Da-hee represents an extraordinary case. … More Lee Da-hee: Dichotomy

K-Drama Report: The Beauty Inside (2018)

Yes, I cried. Happy? I am, because it’s been a while. The story as old as this website is my search for another K-drama as affecting to me as the first I saw, Cheer Up! (Sassy Go Go). Last year, I thought it might be Something in the Rain, with superstar Son Ye-jin, a relatively straightforward romance where the twist is that the woman is older than the man by maybe six years. Scandalous! Granted, it was further complicated by the man being a family friend, so to Son’s mother, it was like her two children were hooking up and she did not take that well. Also, it is kind of scandalous, damn it, and would be even in the States. Also, if the woman is taller, but I do go on. Could go on. I’ve seen ten episodes, but a few episodes back, my view rate slipped from days to weeks to months. It was so disheartening because I loved the show from premise on, and I really liked the central couple, as well as Son’s long-suffering friend. The problem was a fatal, repetitive subplot involving sexual harassment, which felt so tertiary to the main plot and certainly prickled me with sensitive subject matter. … More K-Drama Report: The Beauty Inside (2018)

Seulgi: Dichotomy

There’s just something about Seulgi. She is, to me, the first K-pop idol — the one who first fascinated, with her bonkers off-stage persona and friendly, appealing demeanor. These, of course, are surface details, so what struck me with time was not only her deeper talents, but how much those talents clashed with the surface details. This is a bubbly idol girl and a woman who communicated to me that dance is an artform. You watch any given Red Velvet music video or see her on stage touring the world, and she’s so fierce and confident, and the second she steps off that stage she becomes clumsy, bubbly “Ddeulgi,” as the fans have called her. It’s something that still fascinates me, and I’d like to attempt to replicate it here, in images. … More Seulgi: Dichotomy

05/16/2021 – Wonderful Days

The last few posts here have been fluff, and that feels especially callous as so much tragedy is happening in the Asian world — Palestine, Myanmar, India, so many more. I’ll hopefully get back to more important business soon, but for now, I just want to record some recent thoughts. First up, I rewatched the original A Better Tomorrow on Friday in anticipation of a future QNA episode about the sequel. I hadn’t remembered much of the first, just that it isn’t as actiony as Woo’s other big movies, and that Chow Yun-Fat surprisingly dies at the end. Watching it this time, I was blown away. … More 05/16/2021 – Wonderful Days

The Best Red Velvet Album?

This is a tough one. For me, Red Velvet has an almost spotless discography, a blunting effect on my critical thinking, because it’s always “Wow, this song is amazing,” and “Wow, this song is amazing.” Not only that, I haven’t thought about them in terms of albums, unlike other musical acts. Best Paramore album? Easy. Pound for pound, it’s Brand New Eyes. I think it’s just the time in my life I experienced these groups. As a kid, I was getting into music (late) while CDs were being phased out for MP3s, but I still had CDs, and I’m still burning CDs today because the aux jack in my car doesn’t work anymore. I only started listening to Red Velvet in 2019, and I use Apple Music, so from my perspective, Red Velvet is just a mass of songs which I discovered bit by bit and sorted into various playlists. This had the strange consequence of “headcanon,” where songs with no real relation to one another have a strong connection in my mind, like the sequence of “Ice Cream Cake,” “Russian Roulette,” and “Peek-a-Boo.” For whatever reason, that’s how that trilogy goes, despite that “Peek-a-Boo” predates “Russian Roulette.” … More The Best Red Velvet Album?

04/19/2021 – Congratulations, Apink!

Today is the ten-year anniversary of Apink, one of my favorite K-pop groups. I don’t have anything big planned to commemorate such an achievement, but I have been working intermittently behind-the-scenes on a podcast episode dedicated to them, something like “Apink: A Musical Journey” or “The Art of Apink.” I don’t know, whatever sounds less dumb. But I don’t mind being dumb, because Apink makes for sometimes simple pleasures, with their easy, listenable sound. This is their overall character, “soft” or “cute,” so they lull you and when the surprises come, they hit hard. There’s the gradual “maturing” in tone they’ve developed in the past few years, with hits like “I’m So Sick” and “Eung Eung” — both excellent — but I don’t want to look at that as a change of style. I think it’s all one thing, that there’s a central driver behind songs as disparate in theme as “My My” and “Dumhdurum.” We’ll talk more in-depth about their artistry later. … More 04/19/2021 – Congratulations, Apink!

04/05/2021 – Sir, this is a WENDY

What did everyone think of Wendy’s solo debut? We have the video for her single “Like Water,” and a mini-album with — appropriately so — great B-sides, including a duet with Seulgi adorably titled “Best Friend.” It’s been a long, strange journey, but for Wendy, she’s arrived. After suffering an injury around Christmas 2019 during a rehearsal, she spent 2020 recuperating, and while Red Velvet fans (myself included) imagined that’s all she did, here she comes with another stunning SM production. The album itself Like Water may not have the sheer dynamism of the Iseul debut before it, cleaving entirely toward the Velvet concept — no wild synth here or colorful bubblegum — but it’s a long-awaited showcase for Wendy’s vocals. … More 04/05/2021 – Sir, this is a WENDY

2009: Lost Memories

By the time 2009: Lost Memories exposes itself in the final third, forgoing language and subtlety for foaming rabid nationalism, there may be a sense of relief, as its interpretation of the police procedural was laborious: a mystery unfolding poorly. This is an alternate history action-thriller which posits that Germany, not Japan, was hit by the atomic bomb, and as a consequence, Korea was never liberated. In the present day of near-future 2009, the “Japanese Bureau of Intelligence,” or JBI, battles an underground Korean terrorist cell in what would’ve been Seoul, digging up old ghosts for ethnically Korean agent Masayuki Sakamoto. … More 2009: Lost Memories