[Time Out For TV] K-Drama Review: “God’s Gift: 14 Days (신의 선물 – 14일)”

Goodreads is experiencing an outage, so all the reviews and The Mysterious Reading Society stuff that I planned to do are now on hold. I don’t want to continue reading because there are a lot of thoughts I still have to unload for the said reviews, so it looks like it’s the perfect time for a new Time Out for TV post.

This previous Korean drama cycle (January/February to March/April) was an exhausting one for me because the dramas I decided to watch all happen to air on Mondays-Tuesdays. But I finally got a reprieve as two of them finished airing this week!

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~゜・_・゜~ ☆ ~゜・_・゜~

GOD’S GIFT: 14 DAYS / 신의 선물 – 14일
Seoul Broadcasting System, Mondays-Tuesdays
3 March-22 April 2014, 16 episodes + 1 Special

I only have two reasons for picking which Korean TV series to watch: 1. A favorite actor or actress is in it, or 2. I find the plot or premise interesting. My list of favorite actors or those whose performances I am curious about is quite short, so most of the time, it’s the premise that sells a show to me.

“God’s Gift” had actress Lee Bo-young in it. I loved her in “I Hear Your Voice”, but I decided to watch this show because it’s a thriller and a whodunit with a time travel element. It’s certainly not unique, but it’s different from the usual romances that were masquerading as dramas with novel or supposedly innovative concepts.

In “God’s Gift”, Kim Soo-hyun (Lee Bo-young) is a television writer whose only daughter, Saet-byul, is one day kidnapped and then later found dead. [Side note: It seems like Kim Soo-hyun is a popular name these days. Here, it is the character’s (a woman) name. Not to be confused with the popular actor of “My Love From The Stars” or the actress who was cast in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”.] Thinking that her daughter was murdered as an act of revenge for her story about recent serial killings, Soo-hyun, in despair, commits suicide by jumping into the same lake where her daughter’s body was found.

Meanwhile, a few meters away, ex-cop and private detective Ki Dong-chan (Jo Seung-woo) is about to be murdered himself by a bunch of gangsters. He tries to ask help from Soo-hyun, but she couldn’t hear him, and so he, too, dies in the lake.

Later, some unexplained magic envelopes them both, and they wake up 14 days before Saet-byul’s death. They cross each other’s paths at some point, and they figure out that their stories and their fates are intertwined, and that they must have been sent back to change their futures. What follows is a series of red herrings and revelations that were all subtly referenced in the events of the first 2 episodes leading up to Saet-byul’s death, and are slowly unraveled every day (1 episode = 1 day). Continue reading

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Time Out for TV: Gratuitous Picture of Yourself 0001 / “Dal Ja’s Spring (2007)”

Me too, Sleepy Kitty Cat. Me too. a.k.a. Gratuitous Picture of Myself After About 8 hours of Dramathoning “Dal Ja’s Spring”.

“Dal Ja’s Spring 달자의 봄” is a Korean drama released in 2007. Mother Monster Mabs recommended it to me a while back, but I only took it up last weekend when I didn’t have any other new episodes to watch because my internet connection was being a snail again.

Synopsis (Dramawiki): ‘Dalja’s Spring’ is the story of Dalja, a 33-year old single at a crossroad of whether to remain single or get married before she gets older. The drama aims to comically and candidly portray the reality and undying pursuit of romance of a thirty something single woman. The drama also highlights the life and work of women in their thirties through Dalja who is a talented managing director at a home shopping channel.

I enjoyed watching this drama very much because the story is a familiar one that I can empathize and sympathize with. Dal Ja’s story and her circumstances and her feelings will not be alien to a certain demographic of women, me included. These days, while many women are striving to build careers, the pressure to marry or even just to be in a relationship is ever present. But if you will watch this, you have to be open to how different the rules and perceptions of Korean society and culture are, though. If you will hold the characters to your own standards, then I don’t think it’ll be easy to enjoy the story.

Writer Kang Eun-kyung can be very blunt when she is trying to hammer in some of the character points, such as Dal Ja’s dilemma about her age and her relationship status. I know that’s the entire crux of the drama, but it felt like she got whinier and whinier about it. And we had 22 episodes to get through! 22 episodes, which felt like it should really have been 20 or even 18. I wouldn’t be surprised if this got an extension back then.

I am not sure if it’s because of hindsight and because I’ve watched too many dramas for my own good, but the plot was predictable. Again, not surprising. considering this is from the same writer who gave us “Baker King: Kim Tak Gu”. In the 3 dramas she wrote that I’ve watched, I was only ever surprised–story-wise–by what she did in the last few episodes of “Gu Family Book (a.k.a. Kang Chi: The Beginning, a.k.a. The Love Story of Kang Chi)”, and not in a good way.

But the thing about predictability and overall ridiculousness that Writer Kang does well, though, is when she decides to go in that direction, she goes all the way. At least we get a consistent story in terms of the tone and what we can expect from the characters.

Speaking of tone, I like that even though Dal Ja experiences a lot of drama in her life, the show doesn’t devolve into crying fits and mopiness and gloom and doom. I like that we get narrations which provide insight into Dal Ja’s thoughts, although it’s not that hard to read her. And I also love the humor and the meta and the camp and the overall artsy aesthetic of the show.

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There were a lot of super cute and hilarious and warm moments in the show, and there are characters you do get attached to, like the Ice Queen Wee Seon-joo, Dal Ja’s loveable Grandma, and the Cross-Between-Snape-and-Ms.-Trunchbull Team Manager Kang. The ending is tied up neatly, which is okay, but every single character was redeemed, which was…well, just a little too perfect. (Yeah, yeah, the fickle mind of a Drama Fan: damn you if it’s a messy ending, and damn you if it’s too neat.)

Chae Rim was great as Dal Ja, and the other actors were okay, too. I can’t decide whether I like Lee Min-ki’s performance here, though. His character is certainly charming, and he himself has quite an appeal, but he won’t win acting awards in my book for this; I liked him better in “Chilling Romance”. I did root for his character the entire time, though.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 yellow roses

Time Out for TV: Halftime Commmentary on “I Hear Your Voice 너의 목소리가 들려”

Hey, it’s been a while since I’ve done a Time Out for TV post!

These thoughts about the latest Korean drama I’ve been fixating on has been stewing in my head for a month. I really need to be able to put them into a “pensieve”, so I’m taking a break from books today.

It’s now a little over halftime for I Hear Your Voice 너의 목소리가 들려, which currently airs Wednesdays/Thursdays over SBS in South Korea. Episodes 9-10 aired last week, but my notes are more about the first 8 because there was a natural break in the story at that point. So…8 episodes’ worth of comments! This is going to be long, but it will be such a relief to get this out of my head. *flexes fingers*

Lucky Gremlins are watching a 3D movie! I wish I can watch Lee Jong Seok in 3D.

Lucky Gremlins are watching a 3D movie! I wish I can watch Lee Jong Seok in 3D.

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I Spy: “Catching Fire” in “Wild Romance 난폭한 로맨스”

This is the result of me being unable to start on my review of “The Rithmatist” because I have to finish writing my story on Sungha Jung’s concert for publication. 😀 It’s been difficult to even start writing it because:

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Now that I have my alibi, let’s get down to business. So here’s what I Spied recently:

Screenshot from the Korean drama "Wild Romance 난폭한 로맨스"

Screenshot from Episode 9 of the Korean drama “Wild Romance 난폭한 로맨스”: “Catching Fire” (Korean Edition)

Or to be more accurate, that’s what my friend Rainecaphriel spied recently. (Thanks, Lea!) 😉 She said the book didn’t play a particularly significant role, it was just among the things that one of the characters (a guy who is suspected to be the main male character’s stalker) had. Well, what do you know? Suspected Stalker-types read YA books! Kidding. 😛

“Wild Romance 난폭한 로맨스” was shown during the first cycle of dramas in Korea last year (January-March). It’s a romantic comedy/suspense drama that explores the relationship between a star pro baseball player (Lee Dong-wook) and his lady bodyguard (Lee Si-young). It didn’t fare too well in the ratings there because it was up against the juggernaut that was “The Moon That Embraces The Sun 해를 품은 달”, but apparently the drama had a small, loyal following.

I Spy: “Harry Potter” in “Princess Hours”

I am unable to write a long entry today, so following “Scoring the Book”, I decided to start another feature here called “I Spy”, where I post screenshots of books that I have spotted in TV shows that I am watching.

"Harry Potter" in Korean drama "Princess Hours"

Various “Harry Potter” books in Korean drama “Princess Hours”

 
I will cheat today, though, because I haven’t seen this drama myself. Fellow Korean drama enthusiast Rainecaphriel shared this screenshot she took of various “Harry Potter” books seen in episode 7 of “Princess Hours” a.k.a. “Goong (궁)”, a 2006 drama which starred one of my favorite ladies, Yoon Eun-hye. In this scene, Prince Yul (Kim Jeong-hoon) was reading the books. It’s interesting to note that these are the English Bloomsbury editions. 🙂

I chose this as my first entry for this feature because it’s my friend Leia’s favorite K-drama (and the only one she would gush about, LOL), and it’s her birthday today! Happy Birthday, dude!

Other Stories: Moonlight

I like looking for patterns in things around me. Maybe that’s why I was drawn to “Fringe,” which is one of my favorite TV shows ever.

This week, it seems, is all about the word “moonlight.”

☽ The song I listened to the most this week so far is “Moonlight Punch Romance” by Nell.


 I really love the title and the song itself, so I told my friend Lea:

 
☽ The day before that, we talked about a new Korean variety show called “Moonlight Prince,” which totally has nothing to do with moonlight or royalty. It actually has to do with books, and the concept is something similar to an idea for guest posts that I wanted to implement here but just never had the time to properly do. Maybe I should try to start on this soon; it could be fun!

☽ Lea thought the title of the show is pretty, though, and might be a good one to use for a story or as a username. And so:

 
“Next time I play a game, I’m going to use Moonlight Princess as a username.” It might be good to save this up for an epic fantasy edition of “Angry Birds.” LOL

Later, this prompted me to remember that I have a history with even more moonlight-related things.

☽ The local “Twilight” fandom knows me by my username: Clair de Lune (French, moonlight).

☽ One of my most memorable scenes from one of my favorite Korean dramas last year, “The Moon That Embraces The Sun”, is when the heroine, Heo Yeon-woo, sent the Crown Prince a classical poem as a response to his letter.

A monk living in the mountains
desired the moonlight
he saw it floating in his bottle of water and filled it
but at the temple he realized
that if you lean the bottle and pour it out
the moon disappears

[Translation Source: Dramabeans]

It’s such a vivid image that I can almost draw if I had the talent to do so. And it’s also significant in the story because it alludes to both characters’ developing feelings for each other and the painful lesson that they had to learn then: you can’t always have something just because you want it.

☽ One of my favorite movies of all time is “Sabrina,” the one which stars Julia Ormond and Harrison Ford. No matter how many times I watch this movie, I just never get tired of it. And my favorite song from the film is “Moonlight” by Sting:


 So there! I just hope this doesn’t mean that if I get zapped by some magical light ray that transforms people into supernatural creatures, I will turn into a werewolf. I’d rather turn into this instead:

Sailor Moon

😛

Other Stories: Despite the fangirling, somehow, it still comes around to books.

this is how i roll AVATARI’ve toyed with the idea of putting up another blog where I could write about non-book-related things and occasional personal stuff, but then I remembered that I put up a disclaimer that there will be non-book stuff in this blog because it’s The Girl Who Read and Other Stories after all, and stories are everywhere, not just in books. Besides, it’s just a pain to maintain too many blogs.

So, lest I protest too much, I will just go ahead and write, and…yeah, I’ll probably do this every weekend.

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Caution: Fangirl Blogging.

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Waiting On Wednesday: “Deadlocked” by Charlaine Harris

 


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

 

I doubt it’s still Wednesday anywhere else in the world, so my usual “I come from the future” excuse won’t work today. The truth is, this really is just a late post because, unfortunately, there is still procrastination in the future. 😛

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12)
by: Charlaine Harris

With Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), in town, it’s the worst possible time for a body to show up in Eric Northman’s front yard—especially the body of a woman whose blood he just drank.

Now, it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down.

Publication Date: 1 May 2012

Dead Reckoning left me hanging, so it’s a relief to know this book will be out in less than a month.

Charlaine Harris has an excerpt of chapter 2 up on her website (click!), and if my math and logic are any good, I’d say the “devious enemy” being referred to in the synopsis is probably werewolf/Sam’s GF/Alcide’s enforcer Jannalyn Hopper. Sorry, Sookie, it really is difficult being the most desirable woman in the supernatural community. 😛

It will be intriguing to see how Sookie and Bill will work together to solve the murder in question. I still can’t forget what happened in the last season of True Blood, where Sookie essentially went all Team Switzerland on us Eric/Sookie shippers. Then again, Sookie is in a different place now when it comes to the books. Just don’t give me a Sookie/Bill reunion, please!

Oh, and I just have to say Charlaine Harris does excellent work when it comes to her characters. Even though I watched True Blood before getting into any of the Sookie books, I can still un-imagine Anna as Sookie, Stephen as Bill, and Alex as Eric because the book characters are very vivid. And that’s saying something considering Alexander Skarsgård’s compelling portrayal of Eric.

I hope that Harris will use this book to start wrapping up any loose ends going into Book 13, which is the alleged last book. While I love the series, it really does have to end some time, and this conflict with King Felipe de Castro of Several States, and the revelations in the Faery world are all good set-ups for the finale. Sookie’s journey has been a very long one, and she deserves her peace and happiness.

⍣ ⍣ ⍣

Honorable Mention for Waiting on Wednesday : Darth Vader and Son  by Jeffrey Brown! Super cute and super sweet! Coming April 18th. 🙂

Miscellany: While I was hiding out in Joseon-era Korea…

I’m back from Holy Week Semi-Hibernation!

Aside from participation in the usual religious ceremonies, my holiday also included a Korean drama marathon (The charming Sungkyunkwan Scandal and The-Show-That-Made-Me-Cry-For-1.5-Hours-Straight The Moon That Embraces The Sun ) and, unfortunately, much procrastinating on writing assignments.

While I was on that self-imposed internet blackout, these happened:

➳ Writer-producer-director Chris Weitz, otherwise known to me as the director who made a problematic Twilight book at least watchable (i.e. New Moon ), will soon add “author” to his résumé. Little, Brown and Company won the rights to publish Weitz’s The Young World, the first in an “epic, post-apocalyptic trilogy” set in a New York where only teenagers remained alive. [Source: click!]

It sounds a little too manufactured for my taste, to be honest. I can see where he wants to go with these teenagers who are left alone without adults and the comforts of life. I just hope it’s written well and that Weitz can bring something new to the post-apocalyptic YA sub-genre.

➳ As Lauren Oliver revealed when she visited last month, she’s writing her first adult novel. The Harper Collins website just revealed that the book will be titled Rooms, but offers no other details about the plot. (Duh.)

➳ One of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson, will release four shorts this year. I don’t know how he does it considering he’s working on other novels and is probably at the editing stage on A Memory of Light (Pub. Date: 13 January 2013). I think he’s a secret Mistborn and he must have found a previously unknown metal that can be burned to enhance writing efficiency. If so, I hope you can hear me, Brandon: will you be my Kelsier? 😛

Heuristic Algorithm and Reasoning Response Engine (with Ethan Skarstedt) will appear in the John Joseph Adams-edited military science fiction anthology, Armored. Mecha fans will probably love this! If you click on the title link, you’ll find a short excerpt on his blog.

Legion , meanwhile, is a modern sci-fi-ish mystery/thriller that will be released as a novella and e-book.

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell   is included in an anthology called Dangerous Women, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.

The one that I’m most excited about is The Emperor’s Soul, which is set in the Branderson Cosmere (the core mythology will tie-in with the worlds of almost all of his adult fantasy novels). I love the premise of the story, and this promises to be another showcase of Brandon’s always-fresh-and-never-boring magic systems.

Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Though condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Despite the fact that her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead from the attack of assassins.

Delving deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that her forgery is as much artistry as it is deception.

Skillfully deducing the machinations of her captors, Shai needs a perfect plan to escape. The fate of the kingdom lies in one impossible task. Is it possible to create a forgery of a soul so convincing that it is better than the soul itself?

➳ In other Branderson news, Writing Excuses is up for a Hugo this year and the Mistborn movie is moving forward!

They now have a working script for Mistborn that Brandon likes, and it’s being shopped around to studios along with this “mood trailer.”


 
Note: That wasn’t an official trailer; it’s cut from scenes from different movies that were put together to show studios what kind of film Mistborn is supposed to look and feel like.

I wish I had several million dollars to put into financing this film! (Actually, I wish I had several million dollars, PERIOD. 😛 )

➳ Mina V. Esguerra’s new book, That Kind of Guy–I mentioned this in my profile story about her–will be released this month! She’s hosting a giveaway on her site. Check it out: click!

➳ Lastly, if you are wondering why I never posted about The Hunger Games after seeing the movie, well…let’s just say I had so many things to say that I didn’t know where to start. I had a LONG conversation with my friend Frankie via the comments section of her blog post (click!), but I lapsed into procrastinating and lost a lot of the words that I wanted to write into the ether.

I eventually managed to put together a coherent review, which was published yesterday on GMA News Online: (click!) I’m sure it’s evident in the tone of the article that I had more to say about the movie, but I had a maximum word count to abide by and had to choose only the points that are most important to me.

I hope I can still make myself write a proper blog post about the movie, but re-capturing my train of thought despite extensive notes is going to be an uphill battle. After a marathon of 2 Korean historical dramas, I feel like my mind is stuck in another time and place where magical english subtitles appear when people speak. 😛

I really should take Jae-Shin‘s advice, eh? Don’t procrastinate often; it will become a habit. Lesson learned! (I hope.)