The First Annual 2013 Soju DramaQueen Awards

sojuaward

The First Annual

2013 Soju DramaQueen Awards

 

I did not realize what a busy, amazing year 2013 has been until I consulted the all-knowing Excel Spreadsheet and compiled the Contender’s List. Of the 35 dramas that I viewed, am viewing, or in very few cases, abandoned mid-series, just this year, the list was finally narrowed down to the following Top Ten Must-See Dramas for 2013. (A difficult choice, but my editor insisted…)

 

 

Cheongdam-dong Alice

Dating Agency Cyrano

Good Doctor

Gu Family Book (Kang Chi: The Beginning)

I Hear Your Voice

Jang Ok Jung, Live in Love

Jung Yi: Goddess of Fire

Monstar

Sword and Flower

The Master’s Sun

 

The choices were difficult, but listed are the nominees in each category, with the winners highlighted:

 

park shi hooBest Actor (tie)

It was tough narrowing down this category to just 5 nominees, but the winners were pretty clear. Scandals aside, Park Shi-hoo was positively brilliant in Cheongdam-dong Alice. I sincerely hope he make a comeback soon! Park Shi-hoo화이팅!  Joo Won also put in an amazing performance as the autistic Doctor Park Shi-on (Good Doctor). It was a difficult role played with empathy and credibility.

 

 

Nominees:

good doc joo wonPark Shi-hoo “Cheongdam-dong Alice”

Joo Won “Good Doctor”

Lee Jong-Suk “I Hear Your Voice”

Park Yoochun “I Miss You”

Jo In-sung “That Winter, the Wind Blows”

 

 

jae hee

Best Supporting Actor

This is another category with more nominees in the original list than I could include. The choice was more difficult here, but I settled on Lee Jae-hee. His character in When a Man Loves was very well-developed and complex.

 

Nominees:

Choi Jin-hyuk “Gu Family Book”

Seo In-guk “Master’s Sun”

Jo Jae-Hyun “Scandal: A Shocking and Wrongful Incident”

Kim Bum “That Winter, the Wind Blows”

Lee Jae-hee “When A Man Loves”

 

Masters_Sun_taeBest Actress

There were many fine performances this year by Korea’s leading actresses, but Gong Hyo-jin stood out with her quirky performance in The Master’s Sun.

 

Nominees:

Lee Bo-young “I Hear Your Voice”

Kim Tae-Hee “Jang Ok Jung: Live in Love”

Moon Geun-young “Jung Yi: Goddess of Fire”

Gong Hyo-jin “Master’s Sun”

Jo Yoon-hee “Scandal: A Shocking and Wrongful Incident”

 

master funny face

Best Supporting Actress

Secondary actresses typically have pretty one-dimensional characters, but Kim Yu-ri was blessed with an extraordinary role that she made her own. The character was engaging in all it’s iterations and aspects. Bravo!

 

Nominees:

So Yi-hyun “Cheongdam-dong Alice”

Hong Soo-hyun “Jang Ok Jung: Live in Love”

Kim Yu-ri “Master’s Sun”

Park Ha-Sun “Two Weeks”

 

kang eui shikBest New Actor

It’s no surprise that Monstar garnered most of the new actor nominations as the drama sported a cast composed almost entirely of newcomers. The stand-out male was Kang Eui-shik who played “Radio”, an intriguing character. The performance was outstanding, especially the tear-filled solo sung in defiance of his bullies.

 

Nominees:

Kang Eui-shik “Monstar”

Park Kyu-sun “Monstar”

Yong Joon-hyun “Monstar”

Park Hyun-shik “Nine: Nine Time Travels”

 

Monstar-1

Best New Actress

There were fewer notables among the new actresses, but those on the list were stellar. Kim Min-young gave a stand-out performance in Monstar. With her incredible voice and acting talent, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of this fine young woman.

 

Nominees:

Choi Soo-young “Dating Agency: Cyrano”

Ha Yun-soo “Monstar”

Kim Min-young “Monstar”

 

Monstar-Poster2Best Music

There were really nice OSTs this year and a few songs on my iPod that I admit to listening to repeatedly. While I had a difficult time not choosing I Hear Your Voice, in the end, Monstar had to win out with it’s outstanding mix of creative covers, fun mash-ups and and all-around great music.

 

Nominees:

“Cheongdam-dong Alice”

“Good Doctor”

“Gu Family Book”

“I Hear Your Voice”

“Monstar”

 

 

gu moon

Best Cinematography

Creativity seemed to be the order of the day this year. With a plethora of fantasy-type dramas, special effects were necessary and were, in general, very well done. Gu Family Book stood out, however, for its sheer beauty.

 

Nominees:

“Cheongdam-dong Alice”

“Flower Boy Next Door”

“Gu Family Book”

“I Hear Your Voice”

“Sword and Flower”

 

Cheongdamdong_Alice-p1Best Drama

Looking at the overall charisma of a drama, the acting, the script, the cinematography, the music and the ending (too many were really weak!), the list was slowly whittled down. The one drama that intrigued me from the start and held me to the end, keeping me entertained and captivated by brilliant performances and a great story was Cheongdam-dong Alice. I gave I Hear Your Voice a close second as it, too, was intriguing throughout and was a marvelous feel-good drama.

IHearYourVoice_Slider

 

Nominees:

“Cheongdam-dong Alice”

“Dating Agency Cyrano”

Close Second: “I Hear Your Voice”

“Gu Family Book”

“Jung Yi: Goddess of Fire”

 

2013 has been a good year for Korean dramas, and it’s not over yet. At the time awards were selected, the much-anticipated Heirs, with its all-star cast was still in progress, and Marry Him, If You Dare was shaping up well. Still others have just begun and will bleed into 2014.

Congratulations to this year’s Soju DramaQueen winners. I’m looking forward to another great year with these amazing actors and actresses!

 Happy Drama Watching!

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Friday Drama Review – “Nine: Nine Time Travels”

9-Times-Time-Travel-Poster4It’s a Fantasy. It’s a Melodrama. It’s Science Fiction. It’s Romance.

 

Director Kim Byung Soo and Screenwriters Song Jae Jung and Kim Yoon Joo, the time-travel dream team that created “Queen Inhyun’s Man” teamed up again to create another stunning drama. It’s like “The Monkey’s Paw” in drama form – a tale in which what the granting of a special power – in this case, going back in time to fix things that went awry in the past – comes with horrible consequences when hitherto unknown side effects occur as a result. Everyone knows that mucking around with timelines is a bad idea, right?

And yet, I found myself desperately wondering, from episode to episode, how and if everything was going to be set to rights.

 

Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 7/10 

Park Sun Woo is a TV anchorman who has been hiding his love for fellow reporter Joo Min Young for five years. His father died years ago in a tragic fire. His mother lost her sanity. His brother wandered aimlessly for years until Sun Woo learned of his death in Tibet. Left behind in his belongings are incense sticks that when lit have a more than curious effect: they transport the individual who lights the incense back 20 years in time. After realizing what it does, Sun Woo decides to travel back and change things around a bit – save his father, bring the culprit responsible for his father’s death to justice and try to make his brother happy by allowing him to marry the girl he chose, but of whom dad disapproved.

The change is managed, but it also set in motion a future far different from the one Sun Woo had hoped for. With 8 more incense sticks, can he set things back on the right track and still keep everyone happy?

Here’s the trailer (Sorry – I couldn’t find one with English subbing!)

 

nine-4Script/Acting: My rating 8/10

Lee Jin Wook, who starred as Park Jung Woo, the main character of our story,  is one of my new favorite actors. He recently starred in “I Need Romance” (2012), “Myung Wol the Spy” (2011), and “City of Glass” (2008). His acting style is a little understated but powerful, nonetheless. His ability to convey, with a glance, emotions that are hard to script is incontestable.

HS2
Park Hyung Shik and Ze:A – Hollywood Bowl, May, 2013

Park Hyung Shik who played Park Sun Woo in his younger iteration was also quite compelling. Before I looked up the cast list I kept looking at this young man knowing I had seen him somewhere before finally realizing I had innumerable pictures of him on my hard drive from the Korea Times Music Festival at the Hollywood where he was moonlighting in his ‘second’ job as a member of Ze:A.

 

brideJoo Min Young was portrayed by actress Jo Yoon Hee.  While the character was likeable and engaging the ‘couple-hood’ of the two main leads was not as appealing. Both characters were very charismatic in their own right and I found myself cheering them on despite the fact that I just did not “ship” those two.

Jung WooJun Noh Min played the part of Park Jung Woo, Sun Woo’s brother. The character was a challenging one as he changed personalities frequently depending on the timeline involved.  His was a character that, while weak and somewhat wretched, commanded empathy from the viewers. Seo Woo Jin played the young Jung Woo. The emotional struggles of the young man were perceptively portrayed.

docAnd let’s not forget Lee Seung Joon who played Sun Woo’s best friend Dr. Han Young Hoon, a type A personality if ever there was one. Nervous, excitable, constantly worrying but always supportive and ready to give good advice, the quirky doctor added a certain amount of comic vlcsnap-2013-04-09-03h49m57s227relief with his high energy angst. His younger self, played by Lee Yi Kyung might be a familiar face to those who watched School 2013. Although he did not get a lot of screen time, his character was was the perfect foil to the young, serious Sun Woo.

 

Cinematography: My rating 9/10

Due to the fantasy nature of the drama – time travel, alternate timelines, timelines changing abruptly – special effects were definitely needed and most expertly accomplished. No cheesy, low budget sci fi effects here. Everything was tastefully and artistically filmed. The use of the incense smoke as a method of change – the ‘up in smoke’ changeovers, as it were, were creatively done and effectively used.

In episode 11 there’s a musical number with fabulous cinematography featuring creative close-ups, wonderful blurs and great lighting as Sun Woo chases around town in the rain, searching for Min Young.

The filming in the Himalayas was beyond spectacular. In fact, I very much enjoyed so many aspects of the cinematography in this drama.

 

Music: My rating 7/10

If you like ballads, this OST is one you’ll definitely enjoy! The music commissioned for this drama was poignant and beautiful.

“Nine Scents” Lee Ji Hye http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8ChD6uZpCM

My favorite: “Because It’s You” Kim Yeon Woo  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtFl3MkfSro

“Oh Please” Natthew  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8BHCz7AniQ

A close runner up: “Just a Little Bit” Urban Zakapa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-zQBV97kxY

 

Overall Charisma: My rating 8/10

Compelling characters, great cinematography, nice music and an intriguing storyline. The only thing that could have mucked it up would be a bad ending, but happily the ending was perfect. Enigmatic, somewhat thought-provoking. No loose ends, but no hasty, conveniently tied up knots, either. My kind of ending. Happy sigh.

For a drama that didn’t get great ratings or much attention, I was more than pleasantly surprised. This drama will go on the favorites list.

Happy Drama Watching!

sun woo9-Times-Time-Travel-Poster3