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!

Friday Drama Review: “Two Weeks”

 

Two-Weeks-Poster4Hold onto your hankies! Two Weeks is an action packed melodrama that tugs on all the major heartstrings: a (cute-as-a-button) dying child with just two weeks left to live unless a donor comes forward to save her; a father, who didn’t know he had a daughter, who has lived the wasted gangster life of an orphan with no family; a cop with a heart, who wants to marry the beautiful young mother and be a father to the (cute-as-a-button) child; a prosecutor willing to throw her life away to catch the villain who really killed her father.

Now take said villain, have him murder the friend of the prosecutor, frame the dad who’s willing and wanting to donate his bone marrow to save his newly found (cute-as-a-button) daughter, and for fun, let’s have the cop who wants to save the child chase after the framed man, not knowing he is the innocent savior of his daughter-to-be.

2_Weeks-0017

 

Two weeks.

 

 

 

Storyline/Synopsis: My Rating 7/10

Jang Tae-san has lived his life as an orphan thug. Forced by a gangster boss (Moon Il-suk) to do jail time in his place, Tae-san spends time in prison, rather than endangering the woman he loves. Years later he finds he has a daughter who is dying and needs his bone marrow. He two weeks daddydesperately wants to donate, but the mob boss has just framed him once again, never imagining that Tae-san might fight back this time.

The most adorable small child on planet earth (Lee Chae-mi) plays the eminently endearing Seo Soo-jin, Tae-san’s brave little daughter, fighting cancer, cheering her father on. Twisted turns of events keep Tae-san running from the law in hopes of preserving his precious body long enough to save his precious daughter.

 

Script/Acting: My Rating 7/10

A well constructed, albeit twisted and complex plot, kept viewers guessing throughout the series. Plot-twists, revelations, melodramatic moments – all the classic devices were used to great effect to create a memorable drama.

The middle episodes of the drama, however, amount to a long drawn-out chase scene, with Tae-san narrowly escaping capture, over and over again. While the episodes were somewhat exciting, they were also a bit tiring, to some extent. High hopes for a dramatic ending in standard ‘melo’ fashion fizzled into a relatively satisfying, if soft, ending that tied up all loose ends without any of the angst expected from a drama that showed all the signs of being a major tearjerker.

Two-Weeks4Lee Joon-ki (Arang and the Magistrate, Iljimae) was a wonderfully complex in his portrayal of Jang Tae-san. Thug-with-a-conscience, unwilling participant in his own life, he fell into a way of life that he felt helpless to escape. The motivation of a dying daughter provided him with the bravado needed to confront the man controlling his life. The role of Jang Tae-san was an interesting one: humble, yet fierce in his loyalty; unwilling to believe he could be loved, yet loving unconditionally; unable to kill, but with a fierce desire to exact justice. His character was completely appealing and believable.

Two-Weeks13Kim So-yun (IRIS, Prosecutor Princess) was Park Jae-kyung, the prosecutor whose father was killed by Moon Il-suk, the mobster, and who vowed vengeance against him and his co-conspirator, the politically connected and seemingly upstanding Jo Seo-hee. Holding them accountable for their misdeeds became something of a life work for Prosecutor Park, and many personal sacrifices were made to capture them. She was one of the few who knew from the start than Jang Tae-san was jailed in place of Moon Il-suk for her father’s murder. Her character was required to walk a delicate line between upholding justice, assisting an innocent man on the run, and figuring who to trust in a corrupt world.

Two-Weeks10Jang Tae-san’s ex-girlfriend, mother of his daughter, was Seo In-hye, played by Park Ha-sun (Time Slip Dr. Jin, Dong Yi). Another interesting role, In-hye was atypical in her ability to see past Tae-san’s outer appearance and into his soul. She sacrificed her family to be with Tae-san and had his child despite his apparent abandonment. Raising her daughter alone, she showed strength, and eventually came to rely on Detective Im Seung-woo, a man who was drawn to her fortitude.

Two-Weeks9Ryu Soo-young (Rascal Sons, My Princess) was Im Seung-woo, fiancé to In-hye, the detective with a soft spot a mile wide for Soo-jin, In-hye’s daughter. Yet another complex character, Seung-woo was a man with integrity, determined to catch the criminal Jang Tae-sang by any means, and agonized when he comes to realize the truth of the convoluted circumstances. His integrity was stretched thin by the difficult events, and his faith in the people he loves severely tested by long-held secrets. The character was depicted with insight and a true feeling for the dramatic emotional nature of the situations.

Two-Weeks11

 

Kim Hye-ok (Time Slip Dr. Jin, Scent of a Woman), who played Jo Seo-hee, was the political powerhouse who, to all outward appearances was a humble and good woman. She often plays women with integrity, and sometimes women with difficult personalities. This, however, one of the first dramas where she is seen as a truly malevolent character and the portrayal was unsettlingly convincing.

Two-Weeks12

 

Her partner in crime, Moon Il-suk, was played by Jo Min-ki (Five Fingers, The Great Seer). Although the character was rather one-dimensional, he was quite convincing in his evil intentions.

 

two weeks kid

The adorable Lee Chae-mi (Cruel Palace, Still You) was Seo Soo-jin, daughter to Seo In-hye and Jang Tae-san. With refined acting skills that belie her young (7) years, she successfully won hearts from the first time she appeared on screen.

 

Music: My Rating 7/10

“Run” Nell  hhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeLxgn_Nhbw

“Love Leaves” Ahn Ye-seul  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3L_7hUd37s

“The Day You Come” Yoo Seung-woo  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wi88F-y2agg

“Hitting My Heart” Kim Bo-kyung  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V83YbuX_WWg

“This Is the Person” Dick Punks  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9toD0cjVPvA

“Turning” Toxic  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LN3ZVZzDgA

“Don’t Cry My Love” The One  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWyoeWDwak0

 

Overall Charisma: My Rating 7/10

A heartwarming, yet gripping drama, Two Weeks is worth watching. While the eternal chase was somewhat tiresome at times, it was, in fact, the point of the drama, and episodes did not fail to  capture attention. Most characters were engaging and well developed. The weak, predictable ending was disappointing, but sensible in that the story progressed to logical conclusions. And Miss Cute-as-a-Button is worth every moment of viewing time!

 

 Happy Drama Watching!

two weeks ting ting

 

 

Director: Son Hyung-suk, Choi Jung-kyu

Writer: So Hyun-kyung