October 6, 2008

KBS Drama - The World They Live In @ Worlds Within

Song Hye Gyo and Hyun Bin looking cool against Singapore's skyline
(Source: Chosunilbo )

My eyes nearly popped when I saw this photo. No, I was drooling at the uber attractive cast of Song Hye Gyo and Hyun Bin in their roles for the drama The World They Live In. Rather, I was pleasantly surprised by the backdrop of the photo. It's none other than the skyline of Singapore!!!

Pity that I was too busy to catch a glimpse of the filming while the cast and the crew of Worlds Within were filming in town. Now I can't wait to see which part of Singapore was captured in the drama.

The Kingdom of the Winds - Poster

Saw this poster while, still, catching up with the Korean entertainment scene. I am over the moon with the fact that The Kingdom of the Winds is a KBS production as this means that I will get to watch it 'live' on KBS World. :)

Just to update my readers out there, I have just discovered that I have the Arirang channel on my cable! It's on channel 172 of Starhub's cable, and silly old me failed to discover this fact despite my frequent forays to channel 173 - KBS World!!!

Now back to my reading. If only work is so fun!

October 1, 2008


Apologies to all for the long hiatus. Real life caught up with us at HelloHallyu. Thus, the long, I am mean really long, absence.

The good thing is, we had 2 very good Korean dramas which accompanied us through this busy time. The dramas which I speak of is Air City and The Golden Bride. Will be giving my reviews on the dramas in a later post.

Time to do some 'homework' and catch up with the latest developments in Korean entertainment. As always, it feels good to be back!

August 10, 2008

Beijing Olympics 2008 Update - Park Tae Hwan wins 400m Freestyle

Park (on the right) won the 400m freestyle event this morning. Congratulations!

HelloHallyu has been bitten by the Beijing Olympics 2008 bug. Have been following watching various sports, beach volleyball, hockey, swimming, on the cable when I caught the 400m freestyle finals this morning.

Being a fan of Korean dramas, I didn't really pay much attention to how Korean sportsmen do in the games since I naturally support my own countrymen/women - Team Singapore! But I was happy when I saw the great race by Park Taw Hwan against the games favourite - Grant Hackett.

Grant led initially, but Park took control of the race and beat Hackett, who eventually came in fourth, convincingly.
Congratulations to the Korean team on their 2nd Gold medal!

August 7, 2008

Movie - Dance of the Dragon

My jaw kind of slammed into my keyboard when I read that homegrown Singaporean actress Fann Wong being awarded a "Best Actress" Hollywood (note the italics) award for her role in Dance of the Dragon, which incidentally also starred Korean hearthrob Jang Hyuk. The award was given at the inaugural West Hollywood International Film Festival (WHIFF). Apparently, Jang Hyuk also won the "Best Actor" award for his role in the film.

Being objective, I have to say that I did not watch the film, so I am not exactly in any position to comment if Fann and Jang deserved, or not, the awards. All I know of the movie is based on the short clip which I saw when watching another movie.

That short clip alone convinced me to give the movie a wide berth, i.e. avoid at all costs, with its cheesy lines and rather poor cinematography. Jang's presence could only do so much to rescue the movie. Think he should stick with Korean productions.

And here's the article that I saw which sorta hurt my lower jaw.

The Straits Times, 5 August 2008

Panned at home, Fann's movie wows US film fest

CELEBRITY Fann Wong, 37, won her first Hollywood award for Best Actress for her role in Dance of The Dragon at the inaugural West Hollywood International Film Festival (WHIFF), but was unfortunately also sick at the same time.

The MediaCorp actress was 'pleasantly surprised' when she heard news of her win, but jokingly lamented that she was 'celebrating in bed with dosages of medicine instead of champagne'. Local film critics were surprised as well, but for different reasons as most of them had panned the romantic movie that was directed by Australian John Radel.

Despite being a flop at the local box-office in Singapore, Dance of The Dragon took 10 awards at WHIFF, including Best Festival Movie, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress. About 140 films from 20 countries around the world took part in the film festival, but most were little-known independent titles, documentaries and short films.

Singapore-based Easternlight Film Productions, which produced Dance of The Dragon, said in a statement that the film will also compete at the 12th Annual Rhode Island International Film Festival, the 5th Rome International Film Festival, the 14th Annual Temecula Valley International Film Festival and the 9th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival.

July 24, 2008

MBC - Beethoven Virus

Fresh from her success in The Legend, Lee Ji Ah will exhange her magical orb for a musical instrument (violin) in MBC's new drama series, Beehtoven Virus. Lee plays the role of a talented violinist who plies her trade in subway trains, and stations, busker style. The drama will air on MBC on 3 September.

Gotta find out more about this drama as I am sure that it will likely end up as one of those dramas which I will 'collect' in its DVD version.

Lee Ji Ah looking the part as a street musician in the upcoming drama - Beethoven Virus

July 9, 2008

SBS - The Lobbyist (Angel)

Been searching over a month for a Korean drama worth watching since I completed The Legend some time back. Good news is that my personal Korean drama drought has finally ended 2 weeks back when The Lobbyist started its run on Starhub Channel 55. Now that's the reason why I burn a hole in my pocket to subscribe to the increasingly expensive cable subscription!
SBS' The Lobbyist is one drama that truly deviates from the stereotypical storylines of most Korean dramas which I have seen so far. In a definitive break from revolving on the love lives, plus trials and tribulations, of individuals, The Lobbyist puts under the microscope the little known commercial activity of the international arms, read weapon, trade, conducted by lobbyists, around the world. This international flavour to the storyline is really a wonderful breath of fresh air for the rather staid Korean drama scene.

The extended filming in America, and apparently parts of Africa, from what I read elswhere, is a also wonderful break for the eyes from the now over-filmed city-scape of Seoul and its environs. The staid grey buildings and neon lights of Seoul are replaced with stunning panoramic shots of various key buildings in Washingston. Guess that's the reason why it is one of the most expensive dramas to be made this year.

Pity the perfect panoramic view of America is not matched by the diction of the Korean stars when they converse in English. Perfect diction may not a pre-requisite when targeting the Korean market, but it's definitely hard to stomach for those of us who uses the English language more or less as the native language.

That said, The Lobbyist is helmed by one of my favourite male leads - Song Il Gook who plays Harry the suave lobbyist which the drama is named after. The ever youthful looking chap once again makes blokes like me wonder how he manages to look like a youth in his 20s when he's hitting 40 soon! Partnering Song is Jang Jin Young who plays the role of Maria, a childhood sweetheart while Han Jae Suk takes on the role of Korean military spy - Kang Tae Hyuk.

Song Il Kook looking cool in his James Bond set-up.

Jang Jin Young as Maria, the female lobbyist

Han Jae Suk

Currently at episode 6 of this 24 parter, all I can say is that I love the cinematography, with it rich colours and well angled shots. The pacing of story is commendable although there were some rather awkward moments reminiscent of what I saw in War of Money. I just hope it doesn't go on the path of War of Money where a great drama simply ended up rather flat.

In The Lobbyist, the story begins with Harry moving to a small border coastal town as his dad, a South Korean military officer, was posted to. There Harry meets Maria and a fast friendship cum puppy love develops between the new kid in town and the small town girl.

One day, a North Korean, those troublemakers, submarine beached at the coast of the town and released its human cargo - spies, into South Korean territory. This twist in the story sets the stage for the eventual trip of both Harry and Maria to US.

Harry's dad was killed in the ensuing manhunt for the North Koreans. With no other relatives in Korea, Harry and his sister travels to US to live with his aunt and American husband. As for Maria, her dad, disillusioned with the South Korean government decides to uproot the family and migrates to the land of opportunities - US.

The paths of Harry and Maria did not cross again till 10 odd years later. By this time, Maria is a tour bus driver while Harry is a small time gambler deep in debts. Although Maria still thinks of Harry, they no longer recognise each other when Harry, through some bizarre twist of fate, was asked by his debtor to kill Maria.

Think I have let on more than I should. Judging by the 6 episodes thus far, I would rate this drama a 7.5 out of a score of 10. So do keep a look out of this space to see what I have to write once I finish watching it.

June 16, 2008

Sikgaek - Le Grand Chef's on the small screen

Despite topping the movie charts in Korea, Le Grand Chef was a movie which I did not enjoy. Check out HelloHallyu's Le Grand Chef's movie review here. Ok, having gotten my thoughts of the movie out of the way, I do actually wonder how SBS's version of the story will unfold on the small screen over 24 episodes. Perhaps the length of the drama will do justice to a poorly developed and rather predictable plot of it big screen version.

Only time will tell.

Fans in Korea will get their first bite of the cuisine showcased on the drama as it will hit their small screens tomorrow (17 Jun 2008). Fans like me, as usual, will have to wait our turn for the dvd release.

Going by the description of the drama by The Korean Herald's article "'Sikgaek' sets off on new culinary journey", the drama looks set to whet our taste buds with more delectable Korean cuisince, a la Jewel of the Palace-style. Read the extract of the article below to get a feel of which I am trying to say. Truly, nothing beats the visual impact of seeing a chef slicing, dicing, chopping and throwing all the wonderful stuff into pots, pans, woks, and creating works of culinary art and delight.

"Judging from the 40-minute preview screening last week, SBS' "Sikgaek" promises to bring classic drama-making elements to audiences nationwide. Rivalry, love triangles and heritage all factor into this miniseries. Glossy shots of Korean palace food, the rival chefs Seong-chan and Oh Bong-ju - played by Kim Rae-won and Kwon Oh-jung respectively - and the beautiful woman whom they long for, played by actress Kim So-yun, hinted at the potential soap opera to come.

But sequences featuring vast persimmon farms, cattle, and a crying child eating stew promised a different story, one that involved the heart of Korean cuisine: the story of the land itself and the people who harvested it."

Korean cuisine aside, images of Korean rural life and scenic spot are always something which I enjoy seeing in a good drama. Lines of grape vines bring back memories of Yoon Eun Hye's and Oh Man Seok's - The Man in the Vineyard, while the fog enshrouded mountain in Jeju brings to mind Hyun Bin's long climb up the mountain in search for his love in My Lovely Samsoon. Ah, the power of, beautiful, images.

Looking at The Korean Herald's description, I am sure viewers are in for a treat! This alone is good enough reason for me to wait out for the dvd release of Sikgaek. But I would definitely track any entertainment news reports on it just to make sure it's worth my money. After all, in times of hyper-inflation, one can never be too careful with money. Yes, not even with my beloved Korean dramas.

June 10, 2008

Yoon Eun Hye's says 'Hi' from Paris

We have not seen Yoon Eun Hye on the small screen since the phenomenal success of Coffee Prince. So what has she been up to lately. Well, she has taken a well earned, but rather extended break, in my opinion, since I do miss her in Korean dramas, in the city of romance - Paris, since the filming of Coffee Prince ended. Hmmm, is our dear "My Chan" trying to pick up some barrista techniques from the city's famous cafe? Well, you decide on what to make of the photos that she took of herself while letting her, now rather long, tresses down in Paris. I can't believe I did not meet her while I was there in March!

June 4, 2008

South Korea going big on its 'Nip & Tuck' Industry

Fancy looking like one of the hottest Korean stars currently gracing your TV sets now? All you need to do is fly to South Korea and have a stay there as a medical tourist. Yup, Korea is going all out to woo the medical tourists with their famed nip and tuck procedures.

I am preparing my eyes to spot Yoon Eun Hye, Song Hye Gyo, Lee Ji Ah and Sung Yu Ri look-a-likes strutting down Orchard Road soon.

Here's the Straits Times article on this news.

June 4, 2008
South Korea targets 'nip and tuck' tourist
By Lee Tee Jong

SEOUL - A LIMOUSINE pulls up at the airport and whisks you to a hospital for a nip and tuck. You recuperate in a ward resembling a five-star hotel, then you tour the theme parks of popular Korean dramas such as Jewel In The Palace before flying home.

It is part of the facelift package offered by some Seoul plastic surgeons.

Already a destination for medical tourists, South Korea is eyeing a bigger slice of the growing global pie, seeing potential in attracting patients from neighbours China and Japan, and well beyond.

In 2006, medical tourism grossed about US$60 billion (S$82 billion) worldwide. Management consulting firm McKinsey and Company estimates that the sum will rise to US$100 billion by 2012.

Competition for the medical tourist dollar is stiff, stretching worldwide from Argentina and Poland to India, Malaysia and Singapore.

In Asia, the health-care industry is estimated to be worth S$7 billion a year and the key draw is the lower price compared with the United States or Western Europe.

Hospitals in Singapore charge up to US$12,000 for a partial hip replacement, half of what it costs in the US. A nose reconstruction that costs US$850 in India runs up to US$4,500 in the US. Singapore and Thailand are already leading players in Asia with more than 400,000 and 1.4 million foreign patients respectively last year.

Singapore plans to boost that to one million medical tourists by 2012, and they are expected to spend S$2.4 billion. Likewise, foreign patients in Thailand spent around S$1.5 billion there in 2006.

Now Seoul is playing catch-up, hoping to draw 100,000 medical tourists by 2012. The government hopes this will yield 6,000 new jobs and contribute US$900 million to the economy. President Lee
Myung Bak said earlier this year the country had too many unfriendly regulations in the way of growing the business.

'We must do away with unnecessary rules to turn this sector into a new national growth engine,' he said.

For a start, hospitals will be allowed to market themselves to foreign patients as soon as Parliament approves the revised laws.

Previously, hospitals were considered non-profit organisations and could not advertise their services.
Now, the ministry will allow medical institutions to engage the services of travel agencies and provide transportation for foreign patients.

In another important move, family members of foreign patients can get long-term visas to take care of their loved ones.

South Korean doctors are confident that their medical skills surpass that of their rivals elsewhere.

'Our medical technology is better than that of Singapore, Thailand and India,' declared Dr Jang Kyung Won, the secretary-general of the Council for Korean Medicine Overseas Promotion. 'We
offer high-quality services for plastic surgery, spinal diseases, stomach cancer
surgery, Oriental medicine and laser treatment to correct myopia.'

Thirty-six hospitals came together in March last year to set up the promotion council.

It has held overseas expositions and worked with travel agencies to develop medical tourism packages that target mainly patients from neighbouring China and Japan.

Several member hospitals are currently working with travel agencies in the US, Japan and China to roll out packages for different budgets.

The package includes air fare, medical treatment, hotel accommodation and visits to tourist attractions.

Some hospitals have an international department where doctors and nurses can communicate with patients in English, Chinese or Japanese.

The popularity of Korean pop culture such as dramas has been cited as a marketing advantage for their medical services especially in the field of aesthetic treatment.

'I have Japanese and Chinese patients coming to me with pictures of Korean celebrities whose features they want to replicate,' said plastic surgeon Kim Sung Byeon, who treats about 10 foreigners a month.

Despite the optimism, there is one key factor keeping foreign patients from coming: pricey food and accommodation, and that matters because patients often arrive with accompanying family members.
Seoul is the most expensive Asian city for expatriates who live here, according to the latest survey by human resources firm ECA International. Singapore was No. 9 on that list.

Still, South Korea has lined up a series of projects aimed at attracting medical tourists.

The Health Ministry is planning to set up a high-tech medical park by the end of 2010 to develop new treatments and medical devices.

Jeju, the tourist island, is in a partnership with Malaysia's Berjaya Corporation to build a US$2 billion integrated resort which will include medical facilities over the next eight years.

By 2010, the island will have Healthcare Town, a complex of hospitals and rehabilitation facilities offering comprehensive medical treatment.

In November, Seoul will host the third International Medical Travel Conference for participants to share information on medical travel trends and new markets.

Singapore held the first conference in 2006 and the Philippines hosted the second last year. For those seeking to enhance their looks, the skilled Korean surgeon's scalpel can yield unexpected problems.

Dr Kim said: 'Last year, I operated on a Singaporean to give her double eyelids.
'On her way home, she was held up at the airport immigration because they did not recognise her from the photograph
in her passport.'

She was allowed to leave, but only after an hour of interrogation.

June 3, 2008

KBS - The Kingdom of the Winds

Like grandfather like grandson. Song as Prince Muhyul - Jumong's grandson.

Song Il Kook is making a comeback to historical drama following his portrayal as Prince Jumong in MBC's production some two years back. This follows after his last drama in SBS' Lobbyist. In KBS' - The Kingdom of the Winds, Song will play the role of Jumong's grandson, Prince Muhyul, the third king of Goguryeo. The Kingdom of the Winds is a remake of a comic by Kim Jin. Song expressed that reprising a character so closely related to his previous role in Jumong has given him added pressure to perform. However, we at HelloHallyu think KBS has got the right guy. Who's better to portray Jumong's grandon than Jumong himself.

June 2, 2008

Cast of The Legend meets Japanese fans

Bae Yong Jun, Lee Ji Ah, Moon So Ri and other cast members touched down in Osaka, Japan, for a special fan event for the drama The Legend. It must have been a dream come true for many a Japanese female fans when Bae Yong Jun gamely put on his armor and strutted his stuff on stage.

Here's some photos of the fan event in Osaka on 1 Jun 2008.

(Source: chosun.com)

May 28, 2008

Pictures - MBC's Spotlight

Here are some pictures of Son Ye Jin and Ji Jin Hee taken from their filming for MBC's new drama - Spotlight. Don't you think they look great together? The Spotlight dvd set is definitely on my shopping list in the coming months. Looks like I have to make do with checking out clips and pictures on the net till I get the dvds.

(All image rights belong to the original owners)

May 27, 2008

Rain's "Kungfu Fighting" a big hit

(Image: Chosun.com)

Rain's rendition of "Kungfu Fighting" for the upcoming Kungfu Panda has garnered rave reviews before the official launch of the movie's Asian version of the OST on 29 May. There are 3 versions of this song, each sung by different singers for different markets - Cee-Lo Green (US version), Rain and Sam Concepcion (both for the Asian market).

Here's the clip. Enjoy!

May 26, 2008

Korean Stars chip in to help China quake victims

Jackie, Rain and Park Jin Young are all heroes in both reel and real life!
(Image rights belong to the original owners)

May 2008 marked the twin natural tragedies where Typhoon Nargis hitting Myanmar hard while the massive earthquake shattered large swathes of the Sichuan province in China. As aid around the world started pouring into these countries, it is heartening to see that Korean stars, together with their Chinese counterparts are coming together to raise aid for the victims of the earthquake in Sichuan.

According to The Korean Herald's - Jackie Chan, JYP join to help quake victims:

"International martial-arts and action-comic star Jackie Chan will join hands with Korean singer/producer Park Jin-young and film director Kang Je-gyu to help the victims of the recent earthquake in Sichuan, China. JYP Entertainment said yesterday that Chan has solicited the help of his two Korean friends -- Park and Kang -- to launch a charity project featuring K-pop stars.

JYP said that Chan will be visiting Seoul starting today to observe the recording of the Asian version of "USA for Africa" and filming of the music
video. The lineup of singers who will be participating in the project has yet to
be released, though JYP said Park has been contacting a wide variety of top-notch Korean entertainers and other celebrities, including singer and actor

HelloHallyu applauds all Asian entertainers and stars for coming together at a time when fellow asian citizens are in need of help and care. I am looking forward to listening to the Asian version of "USA for Africa", or should I say "We are the World" according to some other sources. Whatever the title, Hellohallyu is in full support of this humanitarian effort to raise funds in aid of those in need.

This project is carried out under the theme "Asia is one, We Love Asia". So look out for it!

The Legend Premieres in Singapore

Singapore fans of Bae Yong Jun must have rejoiced as The Legend made its much awaited premiere on small screens via Channel U at 7.30pm last night (Sunday). It must have been a long wait for many since the drama has been released for quite some time in Korea.

I happened to switch over from the 'live' coverage of the F1 Monaco GP, being a Ferrari fan that I am, to watch the sequence showing the 3 gods taking on the black phoenix. It felt great to rewatch this sequence and relive the part where Bae Yong Joon had to kill Lee Ji Ah to put an end to the destruction wrought on by the black phoenix conjured by Lee Ji Ah's anger.

I noticed that the picture quality of the drama suffered greatly on the telly. I can tell the difference as I watched this series on dvd. Not sure if it has something to do with the fact the Channel U is currently not a HD channel. It's a real pity that the full glory of the special effects in the drama cannot be enjoyed by fans in Singapore.

For those who can afford the dvds, I suggest that you grab a copy and enjoy the drama in its full High Definition glory which it was meant to be seen in the first place. For your info, I bought the below version. It's pretty good, the chinese dubbing is quite well done and I had no problem with any of the discs. And I paid around S$25 for it. So it's pretty cheap for a series running for 30 plus episodes. Since it's the Great Singapore Sale (GSS) season, you might get it even at lower prices!

Btw, Hellohallyu am in no way advertising for this particular version. We are just giving some honest opinions on the version we bought! :)

May 20, 2008

YEH does a Marilyn

Here's Yoon Eun Hye looking drop dead gorgeous a la Marilyn Monroe pose in her new ad for Amore Pacific. YEH is definitely maturing into quite an alluring beauty, but I do kind of miss her more innocant and child-like look when she first broke into showbiz with The Princess Hours.

Song Hye Gyo makes small screen comeback

Song Hye Gyo last graced small screens with her last TV drama Full House in 2004. Since then her career has taken her to the silver screen with indie flicks such Fetish. I am sure fans of Song would have leapt in joy, well my heart did skip a beat, when I read that Song will once again appear in a new KBS2 drama The World They Live In which will air sometime in November (mark this date). Also found out that my favourite male Korean actor Hyun Bin will be starring opposite Song! Now this drama sounds like a potential hit.

This drama revolves around Song and Hyun who are production directors in the setting of a drama production set. I am sure such a setting makes for a good story since fans of Korean drama all around the world, like myself, would love to have a peek, no matter how unreal it is, at how their Korean dramas are produced. I have already put a big red 'X' in my calendar for November. Do remember to mark it on your calendar since it has been a long 4 years when a last saw the ever sweet and effervescent Song on the telly.

April 28, 2008

Congratulations to the winners of the 44th Annual Baeksang Arts Awards

It's kinda late, but here are the list of winners for the 44th Annual Baeksang Arts Awards which took place last week on 24 Apr (click here to see the full nomination list in my previous post).


Best Film
Forever The Moment

Best Director
Lee Chang Dong (Secret Sunshine)

Best New Director
Na Hong Jin (The Chaser)

Best Leading Actor
Im Chang Jung (Scout)

Best Leading Actress
Kim Min Hee (Hell Cats)

Best New Actor
Jang Geun Seok (The Happy Life)

Best New Actress
Han Ye Seul (Miss Gold Digger)

Best Screenplay
Kim Hyun Seok (Scout)

Kwon Sang Woo & Kim Jeong Eun,


Kang Ho Dong

Best TV Drama
SBS (War of Money)

Best Producer
Lee Byeong Hun (Yi San)

Best New Producer
Lee Yoon Jung (Coffee Prince)

Best Leading Actor
Park Shin Yang - SBS (War Of Money)

Best Leading Actress
Yoon Eun Hye - MBC (Coffee Prince)

Best New Actor
Song Chang Ui - SBS (Golden Bride)

Best New Actress
Lee Ji Ah - MBC (Legend)

Best Screenplay
MBC - Thank you

Kang Ji Hwan & Sung Yu Ri

Here are some selected photos of the star studded guests at the awards ceremony.

Hong Gil Dong and Yi Nok in contemporary costumes

The ever stunning Son Ye Jin

Yoon Eun Hye, all alone as Coffee Prince - Gong Yoo - is in the military camp

LEE JI AH! Need I say more

Money War's Park Shin Young and Park Jin Hee

Han Ye Seul

April 27, 2008

Legend (Tae Wang Sa Shim Gi)

Watching Bae Yong Jun in Legend was such a strange experience. He's just not suited for period dramas. I think it's his eyes - they are too specky.

Anyway this is really Lord of the Rings set in Korea, oh sorry, Goguryeo. Bae stars as King Damdeok, great-great-great-grandson of King Jumong (remember that guy?). And here's the amazing secret we were not privy to when watching MBC's Jumong - the founding emperor of Guchosun is actually a god who looks like Bae Yong Jun. With flowing white hair. Shudder.

Really brief synopsis of episode 1: The white-haired god (superstar of the entire show) has four other demi-gods watching over him. Except one of them went crazy and tried to destroy the world after her newborn child was stolen from her. Oh, and did I mention she also happened to be the white-haired god's wife? And technically speaking, she isn't really even a demi-god. Yeah, well, it's complicated...

So complicated that it takes us the next 31 episodes to find out if she (acted by my newest idol Lee Ji Ah) is going to be reunited with her god of a husband in their next lives. This show has got everything - mythogical beasts, demi-gods, tribal wars, magical artifacts, even reincarnation. So hang on to your seat.

The cinematography of Legend is really amazing. No wonder Teddy said Japan is actually screening this episode by episode in the cinemas! There are probably plenty of aunties who would gladly pay to watch Bae ride a horse, brandish a sword and look sagely as a legendary king. If you ask me, he's ok. But really not that drool-worthy. I prefer the boy who acted as as the teen Damdeok. :) But of course, the only real idol material who emerged from Legend is Lee Ji Ah (Yoon Eun Hye, watch out)!

Oh, the soundtrack is not bad. Total score 6.5/10.

April 21, 2008

Rain's publicity shots for Speed Racer

Here are some publicity shots of the ever cool looking Rain for his upcoming movie - Speed Racer.

(Image Source: chosun.com)

War of Money

A few weeks back, I touted War of Money (click to read the previous post) as potentially a great Korean drama standing tall among classics such as Alone in Love and Flowers for My Life. The chemistry between the leggy Park Jin Hee and Park Shin Young more than sizzled the pixels on my lcd tv. Two weeks, and 10 episodes - the last half of the series - later, I am writing a post which is likely to sound like a major 'panning'.

The ingredients for a good, if not great, Korean drama are (in our view) as follows:
  • Good and well written storyline
  • Witty scripts with a dash of humour or a load of reflective thoughts
  • Great cinematography - watch Alone in Love if you want to know what I mean
  • Beautiful cast - preferred but optional
  • Moments of tenderness/Tears (Korean dramas ain't right without them)
  • Romance between the male/female leads
Money War had all the above in the first 10 episodes. The story was both tight and progressed at an exciting, yet believable, pace. The producers did well in bringing together the Parks who fleshed out their roles well. Like I said earlier, the chemistry was almost tangible in my living room as I watched the drama.

Filming/cinematography was ok as the sets were quite nicely done and the on-site locations gave the entire series a feel which related well with the theme of the drama. Park Jin Hee with her super long legs dominated the looks department while at the same time picked up the 'slack' from the rather normal looking, but extremely charismatic, Park Shin Young. There were definitely moments of TLC - tender, loving, care, between the leads, tears and sobs included.

So, what went wrong?

Both Mydaemon and I agreed on ONE thing. It's none other than the fact that the storyline and the feel of the entire series veered sharply, so sharply that we even suspected the scriptwriter(s) has changed, midway through the series. The dip, to put it nicely, in quality of the story and script was so bad they we almost gave up watching the drama. We stuck to it only because we wanted closure.


(scroll down only if you want to read more)




Things started turning for the worse when Park Shin Yang discovers that the mean loan shark bully whom he works for was the same guy who pushed his debt-ridden dad to suicide and causing all manners of family havoc in his life. Finding out the truth is actually expected, but how he dealt with it was inexplicable.

Park Shin Yang with his 'boss' in better days
(Image Source: sbs.co.kr)

First, he wanted to clobber the guy with a golf club, chasing him all over a public bath. He subsequently mulled over this fact and decided that he can let bygones be bygones as long as his loan shark boss pays him for the work done. How he overcame his anguish and hatred to make such a decision was never explained. There were some lines which I suspected was written to help viewers understand his decision, but they were vague to the point of being irrelevant. If anyone managed to decipher the 'coded' script, please enlighten me!

The chemistry so tangible between the leads was totally diluted by the meandering manner which they relationship developed. Hints were dropped now and then about a potential romance between the two Parks, pun not intended. But these hints only remained as hints. There were no serious attempts are nurturing the great chemistry into a lovely relationship. Instead the script writers decided the leads must be in love.

To elaborate, Park Jin Hee was kidnapped by the baddies in the show, the other Park risked his life to rescue her. After the rescue, the couple decided that they were indeed in love. The decision is once again inexplicable. What's more the romance started with a 'lip-locking' moment in the rear of a lorry. The attempt at making the rear of a lorry romantic totally did not connect nor evoked warm or mushy emotions. It felt surreally weird!

Shin Dong Wook trying to look sauve with his greasy long hair
(Image Source: sbs.co.kr)

The story became even more muddled as Park Shin Young competed with Shin Dong Wook over the purchase of a company by the name of "Blue Angel". The last five or so episodes focused on the posturing between Park Shin Yang And Shin Dong Wook. Frankly, the scriptwriters overenthusiasm in fleshing out this part of the story was in my opinion a mistake. The airtime could have been put to good use in developing the characters of the two leads, as well as their budding romance.

Now comes the spoiler of spoilers. Read on at your own risk...




Sad endings are not uncommon in today's dramas or movies. Flowers for My Life and Alone in Love fared really well in putting across the poignant message that life does not end happily everafter for everyone. Doubts and sadness are issues which everyone deal with some point in our lives. Kudos for the manner in which these two dramas handled the rather sad ending to the story.

War of Money had one more inexplicable twist to the story at the very end. Well, we have already come to accept the 'inexplicability' of almost every development in the War of Money, but nothing really prepared us for what was to come in the last episode.

We all know that last episodes are usually the reserve for tying up loose ends and giving closure to any subplots which could have been forgotten when stories developed. The scriptwriters did well to show that Park Shin Young defeated Shin Dong Wook in wresting over the control of Blue Angel. Yay! The two Parks finally decided to go all the way with a beautiful wedding. Yay! Yay! Friends and enemies of Park Shin Young made peace with him at his wedding. Yay! Yay! Yay!

Happy Ending? NO WAY!!!
(Image Source: sbs.co.kr)

You'd have thought, "Ah, what a beautiful ending!" That's precisely my thought till the Park's mean ex-loanshark boss turns up at the wedding. Everything seems ok as he handed Park a gift. But in a spilt second, the guy uses his walking stick to bash the brains out of Park. The drama ends with the scene of blood gushing out of Park's head wounds as he lay dying on the lawn of the church where he's getting married.

Yup, that's it.

This is definitely one of the worst ever endings for a Korean drama. While Park Shin Yang had it coming, us audience deserve a better ending. Guess that's the difference between great scriptwriters (Flowers for My Life & Alone in Love) and mediocre ones who penned War of Money. It left a bitter taste in my mouth to see the potential of a great drama to only have it end such a undignified manner.

April 9, 2008

Yi Nok - The name of Kang Ji Hwan's new pet

Loosely translated the Korean words say "This is a super kawaii gift from Heo Yi Nok to Hong Gil Dong - Yi Nok the pet doggie. Though small now, I am sure I will grow up quickly under the care of Gil Dong!"

It seems like the on-screen chemistry between the leads in Hong Gil Dong - The Hero - Kang Ji Hwan and Sung Yu Ri, has spilled over into real life. They are apparently so chummy that Sung actually bought a cute little Shih Tzu pup, which Sung named "Yi Nok", as a birthday present for Kang who celebrated his birthday on 20th March. Hong Gil Dong fans would immediately recognise that Yi Nok is the name of Sung's character in the drama.

Anyway, it's good to see that friendships are forged, and can be forged, on the sets of Korean dramas. Only problem is, this act of friendship has set tongues wagging about a potential romance between Kang and Sung. This must be causing a whole load of anxiety to Yoo Ha Joon who's reportedly Sung's beau. Read all about him in my previous post titled "Beauty & The Beast".

Wonder Girls woo voters to polling stations

Voter turn-out in Korea would have been great...
if only politicians looked this good... (Wonder Girls)

It's interesting to read, in yesterday's The Straits Times article "S. Korea lures voters with 'Wonder Girls' and gift", the herculean effort that South Korea puts in to encourage their citizens to cast their polls in their parliamentary election (read the article below). We don't have such problems in Singapore since voting is mandatory.

Artistes and performers in Korea must be rejoicing at this potential new income stream - fronting ads to encourage voting. Their only gripe must be the time they have to wait in between the parliamentary and presidential elections, say every five years or so.

S. Korea lures voters with 'Wonder Girls' and gifts

SEOUL - SOUTH Korea is trying to head off a projected record low turnout for its parliamentary election on Wednesday by luring voters with singing teenagers and discount tickets to parks and museums.

'We have decided to offer voters incentives and step up PR to boost what is expected to be the lowest voter turnout rate ever,' the National Election Commission said in a statement obtained on Tuesday.

Polls indicate turnout will be just 50 per cent, down from 60.6 per cent four years ago, and the lowest since South Korea held its first genuinely democratic election about 20 years ago.

Analysts said voters have been turned off by a campaign mostly devoid of issues and are suffering from election-fatigue after a gruelling presidential vote in December.

Even communist North Korea's furious rhetoric over the past week with threats to attack the South has been ignored by voters, long used to the sabre-rattling of their hermit neighbour.

To attract voters to the ballot box, the election commission is running an advertising campaign featuring the hugely popular 'Wonder Girls", a song and dance group of teenage girls.

It is also, for the first time, offering discount vouchers entitling voters to about US$2 (S$2.76) off on admission to about 1,400 state-run venues, such as exhibition halls and parks.

The conservative Grand National Party (GNP) of President Lee Myung-bak is expected to win a majority in parliament from left-of-centre forces now in control, helping him implement sweeping reforms to Asia's fourth largest economy.

Latest opinion polls suggest the GNP will pick up at least 160 seats in the 299-seat assembly with its main opponents, the United Democratic Party (UDP), lucky to get 100.

Mr Lee, who took office in February, has seen his support slide as his government stumbled out of the blocks by bungling personnel appointments and policy initiatives. The GNP has also lost support due to infighting over nominees for the election. -- REUTERS (Source: The Straits Times, 8 Apr 2008)

April 5, 2008

44th Annual Baeksang Arts Awards

Here are the nominees for the upcoming 44th Baeksang Arts Awards. This award ceremony will take place on 24 Apr 2008 and will be broadcasted on SBS.

For the film section, the nominees are...

Secret Sunshine
Forever The Moment
The Chaser
Splendid Holiday

Secret SunshineSecret Sunshine

Kim Hyun Seok - (Scout)
Na Hong Jin (The Chaser)
Lee Myung Se (M)
Lee Chang Dong (Secret Sunshine)
Lim Soon Rye - (Forever The Moment)

Kim Mee Jeung (Shadows in the Palace)
Kim Tai Sik (Driving with my Wife's Lover)
Na Hong Jin (The Chaser)
Ra Hee Chan(Going by the Book)
Jeong Beom Sik and Jeong Sik (Epitaph)

Kim Yoon suk (The Chaser)
Im Chang jung (Scout)
Byun Hee Bong (The Game)
Song Kang Ho ( The Show must go on )
Ha Jung Woo (The Chaser)

Kim Min Hee (Hell Cats)
Kim Yun Jin (Seven Days )
Kim Jung Eun (Forever the Moments)
Lim Soo Jung (Happiness)
Jeon Do Yeon (Secret Sunshine)

Kim Jun Sung (West 32nd)
Kim Heung Su (Hellcats)
Jang Geun Seok (The happy Life)
Yoo Gun (Kidnapping of Geanny)
Jeong Il Woo (My Love)

Lee Bo Young (Once Upon a Time in Corea)
Lee Yeon Hee (M)
Lee Ha Na (Le Grand Chef)
Jeong Ryeo won (Two Faces of My GirlFriend)
Han Ye Seul (Miss Gold Digger)

Miss Gold Digger - Han Ye Seul

Han Ye Seul having men for lunch in Miss Gold Digger

Kim Han Min (Paradise Murdered)
Kim Hyun Seok (Scout)
Na Hyun (Forever the Moments)
Na Hong Jin (The CHaser)
Lee Chang Dong (Secret Sunshine)

And the nominees for the TV section are...

KBS (Likeable or Not)
SBS (My Man's Woman)
SBS (The War of Money)
MBC (Coffee Prince)
MBC (The Legend)

First Shop of Coffee Prince

First Shop of Coffee Prince

The Legend The Legend

Woon Goon Il (SBS, Golden Bride)
Yoo Cheol Yong (MBC, HIT)
Lee Dook Joon (KBS, Likeable Or Not)
Lee Byeong-Hun (Yi San)
Jung Tae Yoo (War of Money)

Park Hong Gyun (MBC, New Heart)
Lee Min Woo (SBS, Bad Couple)
Lee Yoon Jung (MBC, Coffee Prince)
Han Joon Suh (KBS, Capital Scandal)
Ham Young Hoon (KBS, Evasive Inquiry Agency)

Capital Scandal

Capital Scandal

Kang Ji Hwan (KBS, Capital Scandal)
Park Shin Yang (SBS, War Of Money)
Bae Yong Joon (MBC, The Legend)
Lee Seo Jin (MBC, Yi San)
Cho Jae Hyun (MBC, New Heart)

Kim Hyun Joo (KBS, In Soon is Pretty)
Kim Hee Ae (SBS, My Man's Woman)
Park Jin Hee (SBS, War of money)
Bae Jong Ok (MBC, Woman Of Matchless Beauty)
Yoon Eun Hye (MBC, Coffee Prince)
Han Ji Min (KBS, Capital Scandal)

Kim Hyun Joo

In Soon is Pretty - in real life too!

Yoon Eun Hye's My Chan!My Chan!

Kim Ji Seok (KBS, Likeable or Not)
Song Chang Ui (SBS, Golden Bride)
Lee Philip (MBC, The Legend)
Han Sang Jin (MBC, Yi San)
Ha Seok Jin (SBS, Happiness)

Park Min Young (KBS, I am Sam)
Park Shin Hye (MBC, Ggak-du-gi)
Yoo In-yeong (KBS, Likeable or Not)
Lee Ji Ah (MBC, The Legend)
Choi Yu Jin (SBS, Golden Bride)

SBS, My Man's Woman
MBC, Thank you
MBC, Coffee Prince
KBS, In Soon is Pretty
MBC, New Heart

Highlighted in Purple are those supported by Hellohallyu! :)