K-Drama Report: My Name

I’m three episodes into My Name and already desperate to continue. On paper, it’s tailor-made to my sensibilities, those which I’ve struggled to communicate on this blog. My only remotely successful With Eyes East YouTube video is a wild-eyed plea to Hollywood, or Indonesian Hollywood, or anyone with a camera and a gallon of fake blood, to cast Julie Estelle and contribute to her undoubtedly skyward journey. I hardly got this point across in the video, but Estelle represents, to me, a new kind of action star. Where the Hong Kong heroines from the ‘60s through the‘90s were simply working with a different sort of market — less bloodsoaked and crazy, with notable exceptions — and modern actresses dip from time to time into action with mixed results, say Kim Ok-vin or Mary Elizabeth Winstead, the image Julie Estelle has built for herself so far has the potential to stay gory at the intersection of Indonesia’s auteurs and the international market’s appetite. … More K-Drama Report: My Name

10/08/2021 – The Three Greatest K-Pop Songs?

I know I still have a long way to go on my K-pop journey, and am in no way claiming the authority necessary to even ask this question. But sometimes there’s music so compelling that the only way to express my feelings is with superlative. It’s shortsighted, and I’ve been burned on listicles before (because I live dangerously, apparently), but this is my current thought process. Sometimes I think I know which is number one, but then it changes. I do know better than to ask for input, unless the spiders have opinions, but if you’re reading this sometime in the future, let me know your take, and your top three. And don’t forget to like, comm– oh, right, spiders. … More 10/08/2021 – The Three Greatest K-Pop Songs?

Three More the Korean Way: Wow, Cool Capitalist Critique!

One of the stranger experiences I have on Twitter is witnessing non-Koreans speak in defense of Korean pop culture against the clutches of Hollywood, as it’s both heartening to witness and not something I completely agree with. The assertion is that America doesn’t understand what made these originals so great, that X factor unique to the culture. Admittedly, we have a proven track record, from The Uninvited to Oldboy, to still easternmore scars like Death Note and Ghost in the Shell. And yet, we say that a film like Parasite is distinctly Korean but universally understood. Train to Busan is better without a remake despite that remakes are a cornerstone of the zombie subgenre. And then there’s our Squid Game, and if you must take what little remains, hey, The Running Man is good! Believe me, I get the concern that American adaptations won’t capture what the originals are saying — but what are they saying? … More Three More the Korean Way: Wow, Cool Capitalist Critique!

Madame Antoine: The Love Therapist | Recommended Korean Drama

As is customary with the “Recommended K-Drama” feature, I’ll explain my choice, though as always, I’d really rather not. “OMG, actress X” is one thing, but just wait. See, I first heard about Madame Antoine via YouTube, mentioned in a video essay about sexual assault in K-dramas. I’ll be sure to link the video in the future, but not in the context of this post. Specifically, the video discussed female perpetrators, for example the “ajumma” trope, where middle-aged women flock together and harass the young male lead. The problem, the video emphasizes, is that these scenarios are comedic. These women have no compunctions about inappropriate touching, and the usually strong man can’t speak against it because of Korea’s social hierarchy. A cultural thing, but this should ring familiar to anyone well-acquainted with American pop culture, where sexual assault is funny when a lady’s doing it. Accordingly, the video cites a moment from this show Madame Antoine: The Love Therapist, where a girl — a noona, not an ajumma — forcefully kisses a guy under the guise of helping him practice kissing the girl he’s actually attracted to. It’s also a “no becomes yes” scene, for anyone playing trope bingo. Please understand that when I say what I’m about to say, I’m not winking. Sexual assault is always wrong, and that’s a baseline for membership into human civilization. But the truth is, I proceeded to watch Madame Antoine because this scene sparked in me a perverse desire. … More Madame Antoine: The Love Therapist | Recommended Korean Drama

08/29/2021 – Train to Busan Remake

The reviews are in! First of all, before mentioning the personnel involved in the Train to Busan remake — I hate this, and it broke wide yesterday. Now, I understand the sentiment, because Hollywood has had a bad track record remaking Korean movies, from The Lake House to Oldboy, but I have to emphasize that this example is different. The director is Timo Tjahjanto, a horror filmmaker in the clique with Ti West and Gareth Evans (in that they’ve all contributed shorts to the V/H/S series) who also happened to direct The Night Comes for Us. This is an Indonesian guy, and he was hired by James Wan — neither are Korean, fine, but it’s not the usual Wonderbread cash grab. … More 08/29/2021 – Train to Busan Remake

Happy Birthday!

know I mentioned this last year, but I can’t get over the coincidence. Today is my birthday — thank you, thank you — but it’s also Yoon Bomi’s, with the time zones. Still, I don’t know what to do with this information, that my favorite K-pop idol was born hours after myself, on August 1993. … More Happy Birthday!

07/20/2021 – Summer Red Velvet Maybe

I realize I hadn’t done even a brief write-up on Joy’s solo debut as I had Wendy’s, but that’s partly because it dropped at a busy time. See, I’d been preparing to move from Los Angeles back home, as the dream is over or what have you. The video for Joy’s “Hello” is a sweet and surprisingly emotional piece, trading the CG dreamscapes of Red Velvet past for an indie-movie feel — the earthy color palette and road trip narrative. Joy, overcoming a Wendy-approved breakup, packs up for vacation and encounters a little girl trying to get home. Here we have very human moments like the dad squeezing his daughter in the end, which is a different kind of special effect, to be terrible. “Hello” is a really big song and Joy bursts with soaring energy. However, it’s an interesting approach to a Joy debut, not only being an album of cover songs, but I thought her whole thing was “sexy dynamite.” I expected it to be closer to something like Namjoo’s “Bird,” at least in terms of visuals. So it’s a nice surprise, and very Red Velvet — refreshing, like a summer breeze. … More 07/20/2021 – Summer Red Velvet Maybe

My Favorite Shots from “Wind Flower”

Mamamoo’s 2018 single “Wind Flower” is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard, and its corresponding video is a nice surprise, a Hong Kong-set mood piece with echoes of Wong Kar-wai. Although, my second thought watching the video was, “Is that true, or is it just the blue fluorescent in the noodle shop?” Maybe for Hong Kongers, Wong doesn’t solely define the city, but nevertheless, the four members of this group do their part in staring sadly across wide spaces and dancing in private. As this is the first real mention of Mamamoo on this site, I’ll introduce each member as they come and try to give you a sense of the group. … More My Favorite Shots from “Wind Flower”

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