June 30, 2007

Hallyu Romantic Festival in Japan

As a fan of the Hallyu wave, especially it's dramas, I try to follow news on the global "Hallyu wave" as closely, time permitting, as I can. Just read in KBS Global's website that a Hallyu Romantic Festival 2007 just took place recently in Japan. The event, unsurprisingly, attracted huge attention from both Japanese fans and media alike. It is even less surprising when you count the guys (featured in the picture below) as part of the star studded guests. Being a K-drama fan, I am rather ashamed to say that I can recognise only three of the faces below. Well, I can only take heart that learning is a lifelong activity, and my obsession with K-dramas started only this April. Yeah, you are staring at a 2-month old K-drama fan! It's great to be young!

(Source: KBS Global)

Pssst, guess which are the 3 hunks of the 6 above I recognised?

1. Top-Left - Gong Yoo

He is too easy! I see him in the First Shop of Coffee Prince's photos with Yoon Eun Hye as well as the One Fine Day drama which I watched recently.

2. Bottom-Centre - Ji Jin Hee

Despite his relative good looks, the one and only reason I remember him for is his portrayal of role in Dae Jang Gum. Remembered seeing him in a 2002 movie thriller "H". Not sure what he's up to nowadays.

3. Bottom-Right - Cha Tae Hyun

Love this guy. He and Jeon Ji Hyun, in My Sassy Girl opened my eyes to the Hallyu wave back in 2001. Knew little of what Cha Tae Hyun did between My Sassy Girl till his role in Flowers for My Life, which I happen to be catching on KBS World. This is a wonderful drama which I recommend to all readers. Anyway, this guy has a face which is really difficult to not to love.

Now, I need the experts out there to tell me who are the other 3 hunks. :)

Oh, btw, should the organisers of the festival happen to read this, please organise a similar festival in Singapore, or any other country nearby, I am sure Hallyu fans around the south-east asian region would appreciate that! A teeny weeny request (to the organisers), please include Yoon Eun Hye as one of the guest stars!

June 26, 2007

First Shop of Coffee Prince Special

[Source: Chosun Ilbo]

[Source: Chosun Ilbo]

[Source: Chosun Ilbo]

More photos of the upcoming MBC drama for you to feast upon. :)

Before this, I never really knew what the plot was about. I suspected it had something to do with a cafe (um, obviously...) but that's about it. Today I finally unearthed a bit more information. Anyway, a correction to my previous post. This new series is slated to air on 14 July, not 2nd as I thought earlier.

Short synopsis: Yoon Eun Hye plays a young woman with a talent for distinguishing the different types of coffee based on their aroma. She ended up working as an assistant in First Shop of Coffee Prince. There, she met - and eventually fell in love with - the cold and aloof cafe owner, played by the dashing Gong Yoo (oh yes, after watching One Fine Day, I think he is quite yummy!). Her father passed away when she was still young, so Yoon had to depend on the goodwill of neighbours and relatives to get by. Despite all this, she maintained her sunny, upbeat self. At Coffee Prince, she learnt all about coffee and slowly developed a passion for it. Thus began her dream of becoming a world-class coffee sommelier...

[Source: Chosun Ilbo]

Anyway, the plot reminds me a little of My Name is Kim Sam Soon. Was that based on a manhwa too? Well, these storylines do get a little repetitive and familiar after you watch enough. But there's always more to appreciate in K-dramas, and stories aren't exactly their strong suit, I feel. For me, the appeal lies more in the sensitive portrayal of emotions and the characters one could relate to.

[Source: Chosun Ilbo]

Sigh, now I just wish I understand Korean. This way I can appreciate the full range of emotions displayed by the actors. Think I'll have a little fund set aside to start going for language classes!

Review: Fantasy Couple - Episode 2

This is the episode which finally sparks off the relationship between Chul Soo and Jo Anna.

Anna was half drunk and in a reflective mood after a quarrel with Billy, her husband. Her expression while she reminiscing about Chul Soo's tirade, in a previous conversation, was one of hurt and pain. Life must be tough for this rich a rich girl. There must be a yet to be revealed side story on how Anna ended up being the bitch she is today.

Anyway, in her anger, she flung her wedding band away. While trying to retrieve it, she falls into the sea and lost her memory. This is poetic justice since she had just pushed Chul Soo overboard earlier. It so happens that Anna was admitted into the hospital where Chul Soo was recuperating from his earlier "accidental" fall off Anna's yacht. Counting his monetary loss due to the atrocities meted by Anna on him, Chul Soo decides to teach Anna a lesson by telling her that she's his live-in girlfriend. He even pointed out her mole on her bust when challenged by the indignant Anna. What Chul Soo wants is for Anna to be a cleaning"ahjumma", or auntie, who will help to look after his nephews and household chores.

Pandemonium erupts when Anna sees the state of Chul Soo's house. It's really hilarious to see Anna getting her just desserts for all the mean stuff she has done so far. But don't bet on that fact that she will humbly obey Chul Soo's wishes. Chul Soo will find out that Anna, with or without her memory, is one tough nut to crack.

Another interesting development is the introduction of a new girl - Oh Yoo Kyung (Park Han Byul). This, extremely, sweet looking girl appears to be Chul Soo's ex-love. Can't tell what part she's playing in the story yet, but I am sure her appearance will add a much needed dimension to the current simple Chul Soo-vs-Anna storyline.

June 25, 2007

Coffee Prince anticipation heats up

The series is slated to air in Korea on July 2nd, and the anticipation surrounding it is really quite unbelievable. One obvious reason: Yoon Eun Hye in short hair!

[Image source: Popseoul]

Stills of First Shop of Coffee Prince are already making their rounds online. We got our first glimpse of the series, thanks to the folks at Popseoul. I'm not sure when the series will actually hit Singapore shores, but if there aren't any more good shows for the Hallyu fan in me to watch on KBS World after Flowers of My Life, I'll be ordering the Coffee Prince DVDs online. When it comes to artistes I support, I make sure I buy original. :)


Review: Fantasy Couple (Episode 1)

(Source: Hancinema)

Woman with a "bad-ass" attitude. Naked man in a female bathhouse. A cat that's worth 10 million won. Put these together and you get the Korean drama - Fantasy Couple (Couple in Trouble). Honestly, my interest in Fantasy Couple was sparked off only by the fact that this MBC production piped, well, trounced would be a more fitting word, KBS' The Snow Queen when both were aired at almost the same time at the end of last year. Having enjoyed Snow Queen immensely, I just have to find out what's the big deal with Fantasy Couple.

Fantasy Couple contains similar themes to that of The Snow Queen. Each has its own "snobbish" female protagonists, Kim Bo Ra (Sung Yu Ri) and Jo Anna (Han Ye Seul), and good looking leading men, in the form of Han Tae Woong (Hyun Bin) and Jang Chul Soo (Oh Ji Ho). What sets the dramas apart is that the Snow Queen is a depressingly sad show, while Fantasy Couple is a romantic comedy offering lots of laughs. Put them back to back on the TV at the same time slot and you know where viewers would head for.

Think I talked too much about The Snow Queen when I should be writing on Fantasy Couple. Anyway, based on episode 1, I can say that Fantasy Couple makes for great entertainment after a hard day's work. It's definitely worth a laugh for those in need of a good laugh. Adding to these is the fact that both Han Ye Suel and Oh Ji Ho are both eye candies. This drama contains the right ingredients for a rollicking good time!

June 24, 2007

Music Video - The Snow Queen

Found this fan-made music video for the Snow Queen. I absolutely love this track. "Mackie", the MV creator, did a great job in capturing some of the most memorable scenes in the drama. A big thanks to Mackie for bringing us this wonderful video. Enjoy!

June 18, 2007

Review - "The Snow Queen" (2006)

After I finished watching The Snow Queen, I was so sad I couldn't bear to listen to the OST of the series for a while. It was that depressing. Beautiful but melancholic is how I'd describe the whole story. But of course I've recovered from all that and nowadays the OST is always playing in the background when I'm working.

[Image source: Hancinema]

I actually think this is one of the better Korean dramas I have watched lately. I used to like An Autumn's Tale a lot, but now if you ask me, I think I prefer The Snow Queen.

The story revolves around Han Tae Woong (Hyun Bin), a Maths genius who went to one of the top science schools in Korea and became best friends with a fellow student, Kim Jeong Kyu (Lee Sun Ho). Unfortunately, fate dealt a cruel hand in the lives of the two young men, and Tae Woong - instead of achieving the greatness his talents promised - sank into the depths of depression. (I must add, though, this part of the story didn't really convince me. But let's leave it at that.)

Eight years later, and still struggling to overcome his grief, Tae Woong became a boxer (um, actually he's more like the sandbag for other boxers). He then met the very beautiful but also extremely obnoxious Kim Bo Ra (Sung Yu Ri). What he doesn't know is that Bo Ra and him had actually met a long time ago when they were still schooling. Both of them still cherished memories of each other (especially for Bo Ra) but as such stories would have it, they took the next ten episodes to find out. Of course, there were also other distractions, like a handsome doctor who had his mind set on winning Bo Ra's heart and a tomboyish girl hopelessly infatuated with Tae Woong.

I enjoyed watching Sung Yu Ri display her versatility in this show. Not just in her fashion sense (that, as far as I know, is the most talked-about thing about her) but also in the unveiling of Bo Ra's character. At first she was just a mean and spoilt rich little girl, but as the story unfolded, her profound sense of loneliness (hence the title of the series) came across much stronger and it really touched me. For some reason, I'm always drawn to such characters.

[Image source: Hancinema]

Things were never meant to be simple between Bo Ra and Tae Woong, and as their relationship deepened, events from the past began to rear their ugly heads. Whatever fragile trust and feelings they had built started to crumble. The fact is, the two of them needed each other to undo the past and find the happiness that had long eluded them, especially for Tae Woong (whom I feel is really suffering needlessly at times). But like in 99% other Korean dramas, fate had other nasty tricks up its sleeve. I have to admit, by this time, I could predict what was going to happen. All the classic signs were there. To the credit of the director, though, I was hooked till the end because of the strong emotions and the beautiful filming (each scene was picture perfect).

If you throw in everything - the actors, scenery, music, story - I think I'd give The Snow Queen 7.5/10.

New Drama: Flowers for My Life (KBS)

Playing on the goggle box at Hello Hallyu's "headquarters" is the new KBS drama Flowers for My Life. Cha Tae-hyun (My Sassy Girl) and Kang Hye-jeong plays an unlikely couple brought together by the most bizarre twist of events. Cha Tae-hyun plays Yoon Ho-sang, a typical good for nothing bum, stumbling along with his nondescript life. Life took a dramatic turn when he, (a) takes on the identity of a rich man, (b) meets Na Hana (Kang Hye-jeong), a girl looking for a rich man who's dying so as to inherit his wealth, and (c) eventually falling in love with Hana. These ingredients add up to make a really campy and hilarious drama.

Flowers for My Life

Having watched just 5 episodes of the drama, and I have to say that Flowers for My Life is one of the better romantic comedies after 2006's The Man in the Vineyard. The posturing from both Ho-sang and Hana lead to situations which really cracked me up. Flowers for My Life is a light-hearted drama with lots of laughs and fun. This is one drama that doesn't try too hard to be a good, cause discerning viewers will know its true value once the drama starts playing.

Although it is too early to make a rating call, Hello Hallyu highly recommends Flowers for My Life to everyone who's looking for a drama that doesn't pretend to be something it isn't and doing all the rights things that it was trying to achieve. Kudos to KBS, its director and scriptwriter.

June 16, 2007

Fan Art - 1st Shop of Coffee Prince

This just came in from a Hello Hallyu contributor with a good dose of creative talents (that would be me, lol). Don't you think that Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun Hye make a lovely on-screen couple? :)

June 12, 2007

1st Shop of Coffee Prince

Over here at Hello Hallyu, we can't wait to see Yoon Eun Hye in 1st Shop of Coffee Prince (link from Wikipedia). The MBC drama is slated to air in July 2007 - less than a month away! The male lead is Gong Yoo, which in our opinion is a pretty good choice. As it happens, I've just finished watching a 2006 MBC drama, One Fine Day. In it, Gong Yoo is the leading man opposite the lovely Sung Yu Ri. Would he be just as good with Young Girl Warrior? Well, I have high hopes. Anyway once stills of the drama are available, we'll be linking them here. I'm really curious to see how the girlish Yoon Eun Hye looks as a tomboy.

(Photo source: http://www.arirang.co.kr/)

June 11, 2007

New SBS Drama "Perfect Match" pips MBC's "Air City" in ratings

After 3 episodes, SBS' latest drama offering - Perfect Match has overtaken MBC's Air City in viewership ratings. Shin Eun Gyeong (申恩庆) stars as a successful fashion magazine editor who places her career above all else, even love. However, a series of incidents convinced her that life would be kind of lonely in the later part of her life should she end up all alone. The fear of loneliness drove her to look for a man. Not any man mind you. She's looking for the perfect man to father her child, the child who would provide her with company in her golden years. And of all people, she meets a guy - Ryu Soo Young (崔智友), of the conservative "love forever" sort, to hatch her 'devious' plan. No prizes for guessing the awkward and interesting situations such a couple is likely to face together.

(Photo source: Chosunilbo)

June 9, 2007

BoA's new personal blog

Korean pop sensation, and photographer wannabe, BoA has started a new personal blog. Presented in Japanese, the blog contains, at this point in time, photos taken by BoA in her everyday life. The photos ain't too bad. What I'd like to say is: give us more photos of the blogger herself! Lol.