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: “Missing You” – Why did it Have To End?

missing youThe words “Final Episode” appeared as an unwelcome guest at a party. OK, maybe it was not the usual convivial, ‘cocktails-raised-in-cheer’ type party, but nonetheless, I was unprepared for the series to end. “Missing You” had me engrossed in its heartrending episodes.

Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 8/10

At 15, Soo Yeon (Kim So Hyun), the daughter of a murderer is a social outcast. She is befriended by Jung Woo (Yeo Jin Ku) and the two become emotionally inseparable. A horrific event separates the two.

A decade later Jung Woo (played by Park Yoo Chun) is now a detective. His driving force has been his belief that Soo Yeon (Yoon Eun Hye) is alive and he will find her. Soo Yeon returns as an established fashion designer with Hyung Jun (Yoo Seung Ho), an emotionally damaged, wealthy fund manager who has been her only family since her escape from death.

Script/Acting: My rating 8/10

I have yet to see anything with Park Yoo Chun or Yoon Eun Hye that I didn’t like. When I saw that the two would be appearing together, I knew this drama would be a must-see. I was not disappointed. Their acting skills are superior. I will admit that I was more impressed with Park missing you2Yoo Chun than Yoon Eun Hye in this particular production. I think the character was too dark for her to play effectively. Kim So Hyun and Yeo Jin Ku were fabulous as the young couple as well. Her dark, brooding personality with flashes of hope played well off of Yeo Jin Ku’s bright smiles.

A certain amount of predictability is to be expected in a melodrama, and ‘Missing You’ certainly contained all of the key elements: star crossed lovers, misunderstood intentions, grieving parents. An interesting element in this script found in very few Korean dramas was the main character’s (Jung Woo’s) willingness to abandon his appalling father, Han Tae Joon, flawlessly played by Han Jin Hee. In this drama he is a man with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, so I for one, have no issues with Jung Woo leaving the man behind, but for this to happen in a Korean drama is unusual at best.

I was also honestly surprised when I saw “Final Episode” at the beginning of episode 21. It’s not that there were so many loose ends that could not be effectively cleared up (they were), but it seemed there were avenues that we could still go down and, really, I just wasn’t emotionally prepared for it to end. Sigh. I guess it is a good thing that a drama leaves me wanting more?

Cinematography: My rating 9/10

Lots of flashback scenes were used, but I found it less irritating than in some dramas because they were necessary to the plot and they were often creatively constructed. There was an unusual amount of auditory creativity – not just in the music, but in creative use of auditory cuing. (i.e. The use of the sound of Hyun Jun’s cane and shoes.) Visually, the filming is dramatic – the lighting, the sets. Everything seemed to contribute well to the overall experience.

Music: My rating 8/10

Great music! “Tears Are Falling” (WAX) is a sweet, sad song that will bring tears to your eyes when you hear it after watching the drama. The second single, “Just Look at You” (Jeong Dong Ha) is equally sad and sweet. Italianesque classical guitar permeated the acoustic soundtrack and I’m hoping it will be released at some point as the music is absolutely gorgeous. So far, nothing is available on iTunes. YouTube has the two main songs, though.

Overall Charisma: My rating 8/10

There were so many really wonderful ‘non-main’ characters throughout the drama that really contributed to charisma and success of ‘Missing You’. “Wifey”, Jung Woo’s police partner; “Lover”, Soo Yeon’s mom and caretaker of Jung Woo; Hyun Jun’s psychotic mother. Along with the main cast, they all contributed to team that worked well together.

The final word? If you hate melodramas, you’re going to hate this because you’ll be teary-eyed from episode 1. I was actually amazing that I was that engaged from the get-go, but I honestly went through several boxes of kleenex on this one, folks. Need a cathartic release? This is just the ticket.

Happy Drama Watching!

I-Miss-You-Poster3

He he he he…  For those wondering why Friday’s Drama review was published on Wednesday? Well, you see, aliens landed  in my back yard, and somehow, after running around in their spacecraft, the time-space continuum was altered, and I was a little confused, and, well, you know how those sorts of days go.   CD

Friday Drama Review: Rooftop Prince – A Winner in any Time Period

240px-RooftopPrinceGarnering a respectable share of the booty at the 2012 Korean Drama Awards, “Rooftop Prince” is a worthy prizewinner. With a remarkable capacity to successfully combine quirky comedy with gut-wrenching dramatic scenes, this drama is definitely worth watching. Released early in 2012, I’ve already watched it three (yup, three!) times through and will undoubtedly watch it again in the future.

Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 9/10

Doppelgangers abound in this combined historical/modern day drama. Crown Prince Lee Gak, while trying to solve the mysterious murder of his Crown Princess, is magically transported 300 years into the future with his three faithful subordinates. As one can well imagine, adapting suddenly to the future can bring it’s own set of –ahem- challenges. Trying to figure out why and how this will help solve a murder mystery becomes the consuming task. The following YouTube clip illustrates:

rooftop prince2Script/Acting: My rating 9/10

A marvelous cast of intriguing characters successfully buoys what could be a real Kleenex-box drama. The Crown Prince Lee Gak’s (Mickey Yoochun) three sidekicks have the comedic timing of the Three Stooges combined with the fierce loyalty of the Three Musketeers. Played by Lee Min Ho (the younger), Jung Suk Won and Choi Woo Shik, they make a hilarious job of adapting to the modern world. Han Ji Min is brilliant as Park Ha/ Bu Yong. Playing ‘straight man’ to the 4 men from the Joseon period, she was the perfect romantic lead.

Tae MooAnd then there’s Tae Mu: Evil never looked so good. 😉 Lee Tae Sung plays the role so well you almost feel sorry for the guy with so many near misses killing people, intended or not. Such a versatile actor. Hard to believe he was the goofy Mr. Bong from Mischievous Kiss! Add in a Bow-tie Dog Whisperer, Mentor to the Good Guys; Aunt Wang, perpetually dressed in tulle and other great characters and the cast has to be considered top-notch.

If I have a complaint it would be that the lines in English were usually written and/or delivered very awkwardly. I was surprised as some of the most awkward lines were delivered by obviously native-English speakers.

Cinematography: My rating 8/10

Sped-up frames, comedic cartoon animations and goofy sound effects added to the fun. The special effects were managed well. While not on the scale of high-end Sci-Fi movies, the effects did not come across as ‘cheesy’ either.

Rooftop-PrinceThe filming locations were beautiful. Lovely scenes in parks and historical locations. Great action scenes: not just fighting, but moving shots such as the truck following the bus with the mammoth beach painting…

Drama Clichés: Stopped/trapped in the middle of a busy traffic intersection. (twice) A Metaphorical Crossroads? Stomping on laundry together in a small washtub; What did I miss?

Music: My rating 8/10

The music was highlighted by the juxtaposition of two the main theme songs, a poignant song (“Hurt” sung by Ali) with a historical flavor and a catchy up-beat song, (“Happy Ending” sung by Jay Park) often played, one right after the other. The other music was also great, albeit very difficult to find. Rooftop Prince Part I is now available on iTunes and contains “After a Long Time” and “I Love You, Too”, both sung by Baek Ji Young and the above mentioned “Hurt”. The instrumental versions are also included for the nominal price of $5.94.

Overall Charisma: My rating 10/10

As I said before, I have watched this drama three times. Already. It’s charming. It’s sweet. It’s a tearjerker. It’s funny. It’s heartwarming. The characters are engaging and loveable and definitely gel well together.

Equip yourself with a glass of wine, a stash of food, a box of Kleenex (towards the end) and get ready to enjoy! You won’t want to leave the T.V. once you begin. Just a warning.

Happy Drama Watching!

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