Fated to Love – Episode 1 – First Impressions

Fated to Love – Episode 1 – First Impressions

Within the first twenty minutes of Fated to Love I was reminded of one of my favorite dramas ever, Secret Garden.  I doubt the show will have the emotional pull that Secret Garden managed to illicit (in my opinion it’s the greatest love story ever told.) but, there was something fantastic about the first episode. 

The show is full of bright colors and insane situations that had my guts in pain from laughter.  When you watch the show a certain cherry turns up and steals the show.  Aside from the delightful sets the lead female, Mi Young (Jang Na Ra) is outfitted in some really awesome prints that would make Lilly Pullitzer blush.  They did a great job making her look adorable, sweet, and likable.  The glasses she wears, while kind of reminiscent of Harry Potter’s, adds to her innocent face.  She’s super cute and I think many people are going to like this kind hearted character.  I do have to say that I would like to see her character grow a spine and learn to say no to the people who take advantage of her.  Let’s practice…

Ahneeyo…annie…andeyo. 하지, 하지. Mi Young.  Practice that, please.

Aside from Jang Na Ra who stole the show for me the remainder of the cast is killer.  Clara Lee (Emergency Couple), Jang Hyuk (OMG he’s back), Wang Ji Won (I Need Romance 3), and to top things off Choi Freaking Jin Hyuk round out the leading cast.  By the way, that’s Jin Hyuk’s official name from here on out on this blog.  CFJH…FTW!

Jang Hyuk hasn’t been in a drama in quite a while.  Last I saw him he was kicking butt in Iris II and The Flu, but you probably won’t recognize the age defying nearly forty year old actor here.  His hair, wow his hair, is completely different than what I’m used to seeing and may give Lee Min Ho’s Gun Jun Pyo’s perm a run for its money for nonsensical hair style of the century.  It’s kind of amazing.  In other news, I’ve already started growing my hair out so I can jump on this train…sure to be a hot issue.  I’m used to seeing Jang Hyuk in a very macho save the day kind of role, but here he’s caught me completely off guard.  He’s a big scaredy cat, well quoiffed, and way to into himself.  He’s so over the top I couldn’t help laughing at him…in a good way.

Clara Lee and Choi Jin Hyuk each owned just two scenes in the first episode and didn’t share any screen time together, but it was great to see them on screen within the same hour again.  I loved Emergency Couple and hope they get to have a scene or two before this show ends it’s run.  Jin Hyuk, as usual, did not disappoint with his trademarked faces and Clara looked absolutely amazing.  Wait till you peep her outfit in Macau.  Holee meat balls, batman. 

Overall, I’ve got to say I’m digging this show.  I’ve got big hopes for this one as it’s been a long time since a dramas really grabbed my attention.  It’s got all the makings for an extremely fun ride.  Will you be watching?

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League of Legends – Day Two

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Fiddlesticks

Day two of my League of Legends journey took me out of the tutorials and into co-op vs. ai matches, repeatedly. One after the other after the other until I was feeling confident. I continued to play Shyvanna until late morning. I found her powerful enough, but not nearly wicked enough for my tastes. Sure, she’s a bad ass and feels very powerful, but I’m a necromancer and mastermind general type player at heart. Give me demons, zombies, and minions galore and I’m going to be happy. So, I went to the LoL shop and checked out every champion I could afford with my accrued Influence Points and who should I find, but a very creepy looking scarecrow. I knew this would be my character, my main, my new love.

Mr. Fiddlesticks is his name and he’s a mid range caster with a diverse skillset. He calls me master, and while he might be my only minion in the game he plays close enough to the type of builds I like I was beginning to feel right at home.

The skill that lately drew me to him was his drain ability which has always been one of my favorite skills to use. Syphoning off the life force of my foe while replenishing my own health. Yes, please…sign me up. At full power I was mowing down enemies left and right while taking no damage. It’s great.

Fiddlesticks is equipped with a basic fear ability which seems to disorient the target for up to two seconds which synchs really well with drain. If drain isn’t off cool down, fear them and most likely you’ll be back in business. Is led to a really awesome sequence in my first live five vs. five match. At the end of the day I was ready to go head to head with other humans and I tell you what, this fear saved my life and earned me my first double kill. Our base was being raided by three enemies, the other two were protecting their base while my team was pushing towards the enemy core. I was spawned back at my base after a death and uses my ultimate to bum rush the invading group. All those lovely crows wearing them down while I drained the life force from one target. But, my drain was short lived. The bastards stunned me! I was nearly out of life when I was able to fear one of the three and get drain back on my initial target. The ultimate took out the third invader while all of this was going on (Single Kill) and my second drain knocked out what should have been tanky looking rock creature (Double Kill). That just left me with Jinx in my base and I was able to silence her again, get drain locked in and finish her off all this happening within the span of ten seconds. Three Kills.

To say my blood was pumping is an understatement. I don’t think I’ve ever had that much adrenaline pumping through my body from a game before. Maybe the original Halo and maybe to a much smaller degree in Diablo 3 even compare. I can recall I had a similar experience the first time I entered the Halls of Reflection at the end of Wrath of the Lich King, but even that fight wasn’t as crazy as what I experienced in League of Legends tonight.

Now that…was fun!

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League of Legends – Day One

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Shyvanna

Last night I finally clicked the launch button on League of Legends. A friend at work suggested I check it out because he knew I like rpg and arpg’s, but I’ve always been skeptical about League of Legends because I prefer to mostly play solo and didn’t think I would like moba style gameplay. Which largely is true, but before I knew it I had played all night and it was 2am.

Something attracted me to the game even if I wasn’t blown away with killing creeps repeatedly and leveling up so slowly. Seven gods…Seven hells, so slowly…I earn a level and the next game all that experience just goes away. Look closely at the palm of my right hand.

The character that drew me in was Shyvanna. She’s got a massive AoE grinding spell which I’m all about, a somewhat decent fireball, and has ability to transform into a dragon and alter her three other abilities. The only thing that confused me was that she classified as a tank. Tank? Who me? What? Never do I tank. Ok there, was that one time in wow…but, it barely counts.

Anyone else playing this ridiculously popular and addictive game?

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A Witch’s Romance – Episode Six

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A fourteen year gap…what’s wrong with that?

Nothing I say!

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten into a drama. Sure, I’ve watched an episode here and there, but I haven’t gotten sucked in. That point where I’m cheering for a lead and screaming on the inside hasn’t hit me with the last month’s dramas, but that changed with episode six of A Witch’s Romance.

Dong Ha impressed me with the way he stepped up to save the day for Ji Yeon at her club meeting while simultaneously confessing that he likes her in the cutest way possible.

“We like the same girl groups!” Omo, omo. Marriage material right there, amirite?

That dress Ji Yeon wore to the meeting, how cool was that thing? I’d like to know who designed it.

Episode six didn’t end on such a high note with the return of this #DonkeyFace Shi Hoon. He needs to go, I don’t like him. Since he returned I sadly will predict that the next episode or two will be all about a sad panda Ji Yeon and a melancholy love struck puppy-faced Dong Ha. Don’t waste too much time, y’all got babies to make. Ji Yeon ain’t getting any younger.

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Doctor Stranger – I’m Not Sure About This One Folks

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2014 has been an amazing year in Dramaland with superb dramas all year. Doctor Stranger was my most anticipated Drama of the year and when it debuted the only drama I was really interested in following. Every other show that’s been on just wasn’t good enough to hold my attention and those that were like Gap Dong, A Witch’s Romance, Angel Eyes, and Secret Love Affair, sadly went to the wayside due to the Sewol Ferry Accident. Over the last month I’ve gone from watching eight to twelve hours of dramas each week and blogging about them to zero. This week…I haven’t watched a single drama and because Doctor Stranger has let me down so much I’m probably not going to.

This weekend, I’ll make time to watch this weeks episodes, but I have to ask…

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH JAE HEE!?!

Seriously, this is old news by now, but she’s driving me nuts and not in a good way. At the end of last week’s episodes I was hoping they’d shoot her and send her corpse back to Pyongyang! O_o.

Another issue I have with the show revolves around this political issue and the Prime Minister. I really couldn’t care less about him and his need for a surgery. I don’t find the storyline compelling in the slightest and wish he’d just go away. In it’s stead I’d love to see more of Doctor Oh’s family issues. Her father would make a great antagonist for the show.

Anyway,

I’ve been wanting to get that out for weeks now.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming…

– Matthew

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Why I Love Kpop.

When I tell people I’m a kpop fan, or that I write a blog on Hallyu the most common and first response I receive is “Korean music…how did you get into that!?!”

At first, this type of question bothered me and internally, I’d think to myself “because it’s freaking awesome and super cool.” Which by the way is 100% true, but that reaction is a reaction to 90% of the time a seemingly judgmental question.

It’s been six years and then some since I’ve been riding the Hallyu wave and that’s a good chunk of my life, one sixth to be exact (although, between you and me, I’m still celebrating my 21st birthday every year!) and lately that’s not a question that bothers me so much anymore. Hallyu is a huge part of my life in all of its aspects. I first and foremost love kpop in all it’s iterations and Korean Dramas make up the bulk of my television viewing habits. Hallyu is so much more than just these two aspects, but let’s be honest it’s the music that’s fed my hunger for many years.

Someone asked me recently why I like Korean music so much and for the first time in a long time I felt it was a genuine question. I honestly had to stop and think about it. Kpop has been such a huge part of my life that I think I nearly forgot why I prefer Korean pop exclusively over any other genre of music. It’s not about a comparison to other forms of music. It’s about Kpop being something special.

I went to YouTube and checked out the very first kpop song I ever saw… SS501’s De Javu (I’ll get back to that a bit later, give it a listen while you read, it’s a classic). Until late April or early May of 2008 I didn’t even know Korea had pop music. I was a student of Asian art at the time and however limited, knew that Korea historically had made some of the most pristine and refined works of art in all of Asia, personal opinion but that sentence ends in a emphatic period. Whether ink wash or ceramic, Korea as early as the Shilla dynasty peeked my interest. There was something special in 600 C.E. and I vaguely recall wanting to know what was happening in the pop culture there today. In my studies, Korea was taught and considered to be the “red headed step child” of Asian art for a number of reasons. I think this is one of the primary reasons why I went out on my own to discover Hallyu, no one else, at the time was talking about it much less coining the term. In 2008, videos like the one above would garner a few thousand views outside Korea and not much more. Six years ago, no one would have thought PSY, or anyone else would have over 2 billionviews on a single video. There was not a community for Kpop lovers to meet and connect, at least not one I could find. Kpop was my own little obsession and it’s one where I really really liked what I found.

What I found was a highly refined, excellently produced, and pristine Korean adaptation of Western pop music. I’m confident in saying that Kpop as an art form is just as polished as any work of art created in Korea’s history. I should say that I consider Kpop an adaptation of Western pop music because Korea has it’s own natively created pop music…it’s called trot and is also a lot of fun. Kpop, however, is a completely different beast that takes it’s queues from Western pop like 1980’s Madonna, The New Kids on the Block, and in some respects the horrible (doesn’t stand the test of time) boy band acts of the 1990’s. When groups like N’sync and the Backstreet Boys were no longer en vogue in the States those same types of boy and girl groups were going strong in South Korea. That flavor of pop music never died out and over the last six or seven years has hit a new plateau of success year after year in international exposure. Kpop has grown into a cultural phenomenon not only in Korea, Asia, but now globally and shows no signs of slowing down. I’ve compared Hallyu to Japanese Anime quite often in explaining how culturally relevant Hallyu as a whole is. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s Japanese produced animation, Anime, reached its peak and was a major cultural export for Japan. A lot of money was made licensing out Japanese titles for Stateside consumption and was largely -the- cultural import from Asia to the United States at that time. So much so that Anime is considered to be a part of U.S. pop culture in the same vein as comic books and other geeky cultural mediums. If I’m correct in asserting that Anime was the cultural import of yesterday, Kpop is the cultural import of today and what a product it’s become.

When I discovered Kpop and that’s the whole point of this post I saw five guys in a dark stage dancing with intense energy draped in stylish clothing that was wardrobed to perfection. Their hair styles were like nothing I had seen before…their hair framed their faces and each strand was flawlessly placed. I was in awe at how their dancing was choreographed to match each verse and beat. The melody of the song was so in touch with the sound of 2008’s pop music (think Lady Gaga’s Just Dance and Timberland’s The Way I Are) I was instantly hooked. Then I got to their voices, oh their voices. They had voices of angels to my Kpop virgin ears even though I didn’t have a clue what they were saying. It didn’t matter, it sounded incredible. Many Kpop fans today probably don’t even I know who SS501 are. They’ve been working solo for a number of years, but back in the day they were the hottest group in Kpop. If DBSK was the EX-O of the time, SS501 was the VIXX of the time, but on a much more successful level. Between 2006 and 2008 DBSK and SS501 traded years as the Kpop Artist of the year at the M-Net Asian Music Awards (M-Net Korean Music Festival at the time) which was the biggest and most important awards show in the Kpop-verse. It was a time when the industry was much smaller and JYPE wasn’t even considered a major force in the industry. No, in 2006-2008 the Big Three were YG Entertainment, SM Entertainement, and DSP Entertainment (home of SS501 and Kara). JYP was just about to hit a home run with the Wonder Girls’ Nobody and in my opinion change the industry forever later that year with the debut of 2PM.

For a few months in 2008 and previously in Kpop there was an innocence to the music. You did not see scantily clad women and you never saw a male singers abs. It just didn’t happen, unless you’re name was 미 or Rain. Abs were always Rain’s thing and he owned them until 2008’s release of 2PM which would give birth to the Beastly Idol’s we see saturating the market today. It’s not about the abs though or sexy concepts. It’s about the highly stylized and perfect visuals we see in Kpop. There are positive and negative aspects to an industry that has consistently produced perfect visuals, but that’s a subject for another day. Kpop as a product may be music, but that product is so much more than just music. Kpop is the total package of auditory eargasms and visual eyegasms. Yeah, I went there. So why do I love Kpop?

That’s not a simple question to answer, it seems, but if I had to make a list…

1. The music. It’s got great beats, great vocals, and always has a hook that keeps you coming back for more.
2. The visuals. You will never see a Kpop idol not in the best fashions, makeup, and hairstyles. Guyliner? Yeah, we’re down.
3. Seductive hands. When’s the last time you saw a Kpop performance that didn’t have crazy seductive hand movements?
4. The dancing. These idols spend years learning how to dance. I respect their determination and the effort they put into their work.
5. Fangirling! Kpop is fun and there’s something special about an industry with perennial comebacks and constant debuts. The x-factor that makes Kpop so great are the fans.

Whoa, been a while since I’ve written a post and I think this might be my longest post to date. So tell me, why do you love Kpop?

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Gap Dong – Episode 6 – Ok, Ok…

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I’ve been pretty hard on Gap Dong after it’s first week due to a lack of creativity in the storyline and nearly complete lack of realistic conflict between its two leads. Episode six went a long way in fixing a lot of the issues I had with the show’s apparent inconsistencies. First and foremost, the cranky police chief needed to receive a whole heck of a lot less screen time and thankfully he did. For a show based around a serial murderer the police chief was way too much of a jerk and the writers for some reason set him up as the central antagonist of the show. I suppose it makes sense to establish that he and My Yeom have a history, but honestly it’s not a history I care one bit about when there is a possible rapist and definite murderer on the loose preying on young woman. The thought get it together crossed my mind a time or two, how about for you?

Get it together they did because after five hours of television (the shows only 16 episodes) we finally get to see our Hero Mu Yeom Oska square off with the incredibly handsome and creepy Gap Dong. That’s what I’ve been waiting for!?! Lee Joon is one of my favorite idols much less idol-actors and he’s killing it week after week, pun intended, and his scenes have made the show watchable. Lee Joon is doing a great job at portraying an uber smart and cunning villain. From his devilish smirk to clown make up and literal stalking of women he’s bringing his A game to the show.

I haven’t watched last weeks episodes yet, but one thing I do want to see is these murders ramp up. I would love to have the show focus more on Tae Oh doing his thing and build his relationship with the original Gap Dong. How interesting would it be to see the “bad guy” get the screen time to tell his story. We so often get a monologue that explains their motives, but rarely to writers of this kind of television let you get inside their heads. It would be rather cool if they let us get inside Tae Oh’s mind and show us what he’s thinking. It would also set up nicely the inevitable showdown between him and the police force that brings him down in a different way. Maybe even spend two weeks showing Tae Oh going on a killing spree and have the cops not able to do a thing about it.

There are plenty of possibilities for this show. After episode six my interest in the show picked up a bit. What about all of you out there…what are you thinking about the show?

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Doctor Stranger – Episode 3 – That Was Fun!

Ahjussi…save my father.

Oh my gawd. If this episode wasn’t the definition of roller coaster I don’t know what is. Nice job writers. You had us laughing out loud one second and crying just a minute later. I don’t know about you, but this guy certainly was!

Can I just ask, how nice is it to have Lee Jong Suk back on our televisions and mobile devices not once, but twice a week? He’s really become an actor that you want to watch and holds your attention with every little mannerism. He’s always been the kind of guy who can turn the smallest eye twitch or smirk into something great, but tonight he brought his facial expressions to a whole other level. I’d dare even say he’s reach Choi Jin Hyuk levels of expression. I really had a good time just watching him be a goof ball tonight!

There is something special about this show. I’m not sure it quite knows yet what it’s going to be, but whether it settles on thriller, comedy, or a mixture of the two this is going to be the show of the season. I just don’t see anything coming even close to being able to throw your from one emotional extreme to another and make it enjoyable at the same time. Korean Dramas as a whole have a masterful talent at making your tear ducts work overtime often for the sake of the emotional pull, here however, the emotion is visceral and you feel it in your gut. Having little 500won break down in the hospital and seeing her fear makes her not only relatable, but her situation. Who doesn’t remember having a similar experience in their youth when you get lost or separated from your family at the zoo? The scene was remarkable for how relatable it was which made it very effective to me.

I’ve got to say that if Kim Ok Ryeon/Mok Dan (not sure what to call Jin Se Yeon anymore) doesn’t pick up a damn phone and call her man I’m going to flip. It’s not 1930 anymore and you’re not under North Korean occupation (for once) so get that handapone and call Hoon. He misses you!

My only gripe and it is a minor one is how rigid and stiff Park Hae Jin seemed throughout most of the show. Yes, he did have a super sexy “I’m da boss kiss me” kiss scene which got my heart all a flutter, but man if he doesn’t look like a 2×4 in that lab coat. Check out the way he turns when approaching patients, it’s totally awkward.

Can’t wait for tomorrow and I sure hope that Hoon runs into Jae Hee at that wacky hospital. I really can’t fathom how she ended up south of the DMZ, but I’m also really glad we aren’t going to have to wait another five years before they get reunited.

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Way Back Wednesdays – The Moon Embracing the Sun – Episode 5

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Spoilers very very possible.

See that guy up there in the picture? The one with the distraught, teary eyed face? That might look like our sweet prince, but no…that was me! Same damn face after watching episode five.

I was really not expecting this episode. It kind of came out of left field to me from a storyline perspective. First, we get introduced to the awesome child actors who are totally nailing it and setting up their roles for the somewhat more adult actors who will be leading the way in later episodes. We get two incredible female actresses, the Moons, who are two very different sides of a coin. They make for great foils for each other and they “love” the same boy-man. That’s a rather nice conflict in and of itself and was interested in seeing more of that, but what did I get? Swerved! Swerved hard.

Yeon Woo is a young noble lady whose got the goods to be an amazing Joseon Queen. She’s caring and sensitive…she’s freaking awesome and that’s why the entire royal family loves her except for that creepy nasty Queen Dowager. Folks, I need this former Queen to die and die painfully. Why? She has the leading shaman cast a spell that essentially turns poor Yeon Woo into a vegetable and causes her constant pain. This in turn forces her out of the castle and separates her from her betrothed, perhaps for good. I’ve seen some pretty crappy former Queen’s in my time, here’s looking at you Cersei, but this wench takes it to another level. I had a visceral dislike for her and on that note what’s up with the Shaman. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the Shaman who pledged to protect the “moon who will embrace the sun?” at the very beginning of the show? I was not happy to see Yeon Woo die and I’m wondering now just where the hell does the show go? Unless I’m about to be swerved again in episode six I think I just saw our female lead get killed off. 0_o

There isn’t really much that strikes my mind about episode five. There really was not a whole lot going on outside of the tragedy that befell Yeon Woo and the fall out of her illness. I do wonder what Prince Yang Myung is going to do once he finds out she’s dead and how will this effect Lee Hwon. I’m kind of excited to get episode six out of the way and get the adult actors on screen. I’ve totally enjoyed the younger versions of the characters, but I need a time warp here so I can see Lee Hwon and Yang Myung kick some ass and fix this situation.

Next week, will I get to see Song Jae Rim and Kim Soo Hyun again? Lord, I hope so!

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