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! :)

April 1, 2008

Kim Tae Hee looks stunning sans make-up in ads for Olympus

In her latest advertisements for Olympus digital cameras, Kim Tae Hee shows the way to look stylish and beautiful with little make-up and no photoshop, I hope!

(Image Source: olympusmju.co.kr)