Unnie Life Lessons: 4 Ways to Laugh and Live a Good, Mistake Filled Life from Welcome to Waikiki 2

Welcome to Waikiki 2 is fully booked and had a good run but it seems like the gang will be forever entangled with money problems, career struggles, and making mistakes. The show ended with everyone still trying to find success but the promise of them being all together for the ride is the heart of this show.

Honestly though the 1st season was perfect as the kdrama wrapped up each character’s story beautifully. Although there were open ended arcs and a few more details we could have been fed, there was no pressing curiosity that needed to be further explored. Welcome to Waikiki 2 wasn’t as good as the first one and I felt like they recycled some of the plot devices used previously as well. I felt that the last episode was rushed although kdramas naturally have a 16 episode run, this one felt premature.

Welcome to Waikiki 2 did a good job though like the first season in featuring the 6 characters lives individually and as a group. You get to know little by little who each person is and get to know their highs and woes equally. But if I have to be critical, the characters of Jung Eun and Soo Yeon weren’t really explored. I felt that the show focused Jung Eun liking Jun Ki only and although it showed that she was a good friend to him, her own character didn’t shine through. Soo Yeon had more emotions to show because of her father’s bankruptcy and romance with Woo Shik but she always had a doe eyed look and bland personality. But all in all, every chatacter got a chance to be seen and heard enough to support them in whatever emdeavor they embarked on.

It’s up to our imaginations to think of what kind of future life has in store for our beloved gang. For a brief overview of the show, please read my previous post to catch up.

Unnie Life Lessons

1. Pursuing something you love and having a hard time is worth the effort and hardships. At the end of the day, at least you know that you’re working towards a dream/goal that you truly are passionate about.

  • Jun Ki was telling Jung Eun that auditioning for minor roles and not knowing whether he’ll get the part is exhausting but he would rather keep trying than doing something else that he doesn’t love. Not everyone is lucky to do something they love for work or even just a hobby because of financial or physical hindrances. His character in this kdrama has always been sure of his love for acting, optimistic, and can endure humiliating and low key roles that it makes one root for him to succeed even more (Although he had already found success in the 1st season as he portrayed an important character in a kdrama but for story purposes, he’s still struggling in season 2).

  • Knowing what you want and actually taking action for it is admirable in itself as any endeavour takes sacrifice and money. There’s the added pressure of time too because as we grow older, it’s natural that we fear to take on more risks especially if our decisions can affect the lives of others. This may not be realistically probable for everyone but know that doing something you love, even if others may look down on you or disapprove, is okay 🙂
  • You don’t need to have everything figured out because it takes time to sort out what you really want to do. If you’re someone who is pursuing something they really want to do but is having a tough time, don’t give up as your conviction for following your dreams will yield good results. For those who are working hard for a job that they don’t necessarily like (but have to) and have other interests, find the time to do it on your spare time. You never know what could happen if you allot even a few hours of your day doing something you love.

2. The famous quote in the movie Forrest Gump goes:

My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You’ll never know what you’re gonna get.

  • Ki Bong was let go in his baseball team because his shoulder injury had recurred again. He became obsessed with a box of chocolates that tasted so delicious to divert his attention elsewhere. Yu Ri told him that life isn’t comprised of good moments only but that there will be sad and bitter events too.
  • Each day is a surprise and we won’t know the wonderful things or struggles that will occur — if it happens, then it happens. I just felt bad for Ki Bong because he loved playing baseball ever since he was a kid so it is extremely difficult for him to go through this. Regardless though of how hard or manageable our life can get, we must pick ourselves up and not avoid the difficult times. A sweet chocolate will pop out soon enough.

3. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you can forgive others or vice versa, have the courage to forgive yourself too and start over.

  • In the middle of this season, Jun Ki felt ashamed and guilty for accepting a role that his hoobae (Junior colleague) helped him get. He was berated by the fact that being righteous won’t get him far as an actor and using connections to get a role is no big deal. When Jun Ki saw the actual actor who auditioned & got the role before him beg the director for another chance, he decided to quit acting for good.
  • Jung Eun helped Jun Ki ask that same actor for forgiveness and in turn, he was able to cheer up and forgive himself too. We are often harder on ourselves than anyone else because we build certain expectations on ourselves or carry the blame of knowing we did something wrong to heart. Admitting our mistakes & accepting that fact to move forward should go hand in hand.

  • We are imperfect human beings. This is not an excuse to just give up and not try at all, it’s just that we can breathe a little easier knowing that when something we work hard for doesn’t work out, we don’t have to blame ourselves severely. We can get a fresh start, improve, and have a burden-free state of mind.

4. Life doesn’t always go the way we want it to, we will always make mistakes and have bad days. We can’t let the thought of failing stop us from living or taking chances to improve our lives.

  • Welcome to Waikiki 2 has no shortage when it comes to financial and career problems. Even in season 1, the balance in trying to run the guest house while pursuing their individual goals and getting into relationships showcased a realistic slice of life problem. But time and time again, the gang was able to continue with the flow of their lives and found reasons to smile despite their dilemmas.

  • We musn’t forget that we can seek comfort and advice from our family and friends when things get too tough for us to handle alone. Ki Bong helped Yu Ri open a food truck business, Soo Yeon got a chance to be a reporter with Jun Ki’s help, and Jung Eun was encouraged by Jun Ki to not quit acting altogether.

  • Living in this day and age will never be a smooth sailing journey but we can always bounce back from our hardships and move forward. We have to at least try and do something as to have no regrets.

As the guesthouse closes for a 2nd time around, I’m happy I got to watch this chapter filled with new tenants. If the Welcome to Waikiki series has proven anything, making mistakes is okay — learn from the experience and live to fight another day. In the immortal words of Jun Ki, “Kenchana, kenchana!” (It’s okay, it’s okay) 😊

Unnie Recommends: Abyss

Every now and then, a mystery/romance/supernatural themed show makes its way into kdramaland. Perhaps its the thrill of crafting a killer’s motives or piecing together how the protagonists will deal with each other & their dilemmas — its these different elements that make korean dramas so addicting to watch.

Having premiered with its first 2 episodes this week, Abyss tells the story of 2 friends who work together to solve a crime despite literally having an out of body experience.

Current Impression

The opening scene introduces us to a man drinking his sorrows away on a building rooftop. As he sits on the edge after climbing past the railing, we learn that the man’s (Cha Min) fiancé, can’t go through with their wedding because of his unattractive face. He is accidentally killed by supernatural forces (Special guest appearances from Jung So Min & Seo In Guk from Hundred Million Stars From the Sky🥰) but revived by them with an orb named Abyss. The rule is that a person will be revived with the reflection of their soul and since Cha Min is a kindhearted person, he was given a more handsome and fitter body.

Before Min’s untimely death, he calls his long time friend, Ko Se Yeon, a beautiful, smart, and driven prosecutor who is in the middle of a crime scene. Though it hasn’t been explicitly shown, Min apparently has been in love with her for the longest time but she isn’t reciprocating those feelings. She is murdered one night and by Min’s efforts, he was able to revive her with the Abyss. Only this time, she gets a downgrade as her face & body is just like any other normal Korean woman.

It’s a cat and mouse game they try to solve the mystery of Se Yeon’s murder and navigate everyday life with their new bodies. We weren’t shown any flashbacks yet of how Min and Se Yeon’s characters were like before they died but it’s safe to assume that how they are interacting with each other, revivial mode, is still their true personalities. I hope that Min stays humble and thoughtful even with his more attractive physique. Se Yeon doesn’t have a bad personality (Park Bo Young is adorable & not common at all!), she’s actually resourceful and practical but as the show stands, she has a normal-faced soul but I don’t really see anything wrong with that.

It’s obvious that Se Yeon will fall in love with Min now but I hope that she’ll be able to accept him for his physical features before. Falling in love with his handsome, reborn character is easier but accepting Min’s original face seems like an important point of this show. Despite having a fiancé, I think Min still cares about Se Yeon more than as a friend but with the roles reversed (She’s a plain Jane while he’s a hottie) now, I’m excited to see how their relationship progresses from this point on.

Unleash your detective sleuthing skills and don’t be surprised when you also get romantic feels as Abyss will surely deliver a mayhem of fun and suspense worth the weekly wait!

Unnie Recommends: My First First Love

Ahhh, young, adolescent, love ❤️ The cool and refreshing wind of innocence filling your days with hope and wonder as the smell of new beginnings and (mis) fortunes wrap your thoughts with a sunshine state of mind. Remember the feeling that everything was ahead of you, you just have to walk the path, but nobody told you that taking a detour or obstacles can get in your way?

Netflix’s pre-produced kdrama, My First First Love (Also known as “Because it’s my First Love”), offers viewers with a walk down memory lane of a time in our lives where our curiosity and senses were heightened to explore and make our mark in the world.

Current Impression

We meet our gang altogether at the end of the 1st episode, eager to meet with the series lead, Yun Tae Oh (Played by Ji Soo), as he is the common friend of the four individuals. Due to their personal circumstances sans Do Hyun (the single guy in the picture below), they end up living at Tae Oh’s house. Currently 23 years old and in college, Tae Oh’s friends’ will soon find themselves entangled with each other.

From left to right, the trio in the image above are:

1. Hoon – He was kicked out of his home because his dad had enough of him trying out for musicals and pursuing singing. He goes to auditions and vows to show his parents that he’ll make something of himself someday.

2. Song Yi – Long haired girl in the middle, is Tae Oh’s best friend from high school who is homeless now because her house was seized and her MIA mom wasn’t able to help her out. She is best friends with Tae Oh and develops a crush on Do Hyun. They go to the same school together where she studies architecture.

3. Ga Rin – Wearing the red hoodie, she is a childhood friend of Tae Oh who ran away from her strict and sheltered lifestyle. She follows Hoon in his auditions hoping to learn something from him.

Rounding up the whole gang is:

4. Do Hyun – Goes to the same college witth Tae Oh and is studying to become a civil servant someday. He meets Song Yi in another way (Not thru Tae Oh) and even if he is uninterested in girls, he finds himself falling for her.

5. Tae Oh – Last but not the least, the cheerful, Mr. Congeniality, and glue of the group — Tae Oh is living the bachelor life (not anymore though😜) at his grandfather’s house. He just wants to bring a girl home but complications get in the way of his plans.

Tae Oh had feelings for Song Yi when they were in highschool but the latter did not feel the same for him. There’s the classic love triangle plot here and I’d like to say that it’s cliché and predictable, and yes, the story seems to be pushing Song Yi and Do Hyun together BUT you never know! To be young (er) and have the first signs of heart fluttering, stolen glances, and eventual confessions of the fragile heart — My First First Love presents the details and care of first love in a light yet heartwarming tone❤️ Still rooting for Tae Oh to end up with the girl (As of this writing, I’m only on episode 5).

A story about firsts, friendship, and growing up, My First First Love is a is a slice of life korean drama that comforts our forever young souls but prepares us for the harsher but still fun stage of adulthood. Netflix has released all 8 episodes already so binge watch this if you can!😁

Unnie Recommends: 3 Reasons to Watch Her Private Life

“The more you hate, the more you love” — Whether this is something you believe in or not, Her Private Life is the newest kdrama that represents this saying perfectly. Romantic comedies always tickle my fancy and yes, we’ve seen maybe hundreds of love stories unfold already.. but why is it we can’t get enough of them?

Current Impression

Tvn’s latest offering is a testament that romcoms never get outdated and that if you paint a picture even with the same subject, theme, and setting; the details such as colors and perspective that can make a difference.

1. Male (Kim Jae Wook) and Female Lead (Park Min Young) are a fresh and talented pair to watch– Her Private Life features the character Sung Deok Mi who lives a double life as she is employed as an art curator by day but at night, is a devoted fangirl who worships an idol of a kpop group. Park Min Young shows more range here as she goes through silly and more comedic moments that differentiate her character from her most recent successful kdrama (What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim). She goes through great lengths to hide the fact that she is a fangirl and is also a passionate and hardworking employee who loves her craft.

On his first romcom kdrama as the leading man, Kim Jae Wook portrays Ryan Gold, a former artist turned art gallery director. Did I mention that he is very handsome and has a chiseled face that literally, and I would say this every time I see him, he has looks that can kill?😂 I first saw him act at the kdrama “Voice” (Season 1) where he portrayed a murderer and damn, he does indeed look the part. This time around, he plays the icy and unforgiving male lead which he is doing a very good job at. It’s a cat and dog type of relationship for them as their first few meetings weren’t the best impressions of each other. What would a kdrama be without its conflicts and exasperated sighs am I right?😜

2. The story explores an industry or phenomenon that is not commonly portrayed in today’s dramaland – I’m an avid fan of kdramas and enjoy listening to korean music but I’m not an invested fangirl for any Kpop bands or singers. The first 2 episodes enlightens “muggles” on how a true fangirl/boy devotes their time to their favorite idols. It’s also interesting to see and explore the inner workings of how an art gallery operates since both of them work in one.

Even if it’s not a new kind of love story (Enemies becoming lovers), our leading characters’ jobs and hobbies is surely an unexplored and unique part of the show. Deok Mi is a fanpage manager and is obsessed with her idol, Shi An, that she attends concerts and takes snapshots of him to post on a website.

3. It’s a feel good show but it isn’t afraid to delve into sad or slice of life realities – Romcoms can inject heartwrenching backstories or unfortunate circumstances as a way to humanize protagonists. Deok Mi’s family seems to have unresolved tensions between them and Ryan has to deal with the issue of suddenly being unable to paint along with a traumatic childhood seen via flashback. I hope that his personality though is not a result of his past but that he is who he is regardless. I’d like to see Deok Mi fall in love with this version of Ryan, not a man who is secretly kinder and more humble but just needed to resolve his internal problems first.

I am intrigued on how Ryan will fall in love with Deok Mi because his character is so closed off and seems uninterested in love. With the icy stare and the way Ryan carries himself, I’m excited to see how he’ll open his heart to someone else.

Life is not all rainbows and happy endings as we need to resolve problems and overcome hurdles to grow into better and stronger versions of ourselves. Her Private Life has laid out the begginings of its unfinished picture and only the future episodes will tell how colorful, out of the box, and satisfying their journey will be!

Unnie Thoughts: Don’t be afraid to live your best, hard earned life

Unnie Thoughts: Don’t be afraid to live your best, hard earned life

This 2019, I found myself enjoying reading self-help books more than novels. Each page tells a story on how to approach life with a wisdom that we secretly know but never get to fully apply in our lives. Mental health has become a growing concern in today’s society and getting advice or having someone tell you what you can do to survive is helpful. Whether or not we follow the advice is up to us but having someone narrate steps or explain the process is reassuring that I’m not the only one going through something alone.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from the books I’ve read, it’s that it’s okay to enjoy your life. Don’t feel bad for living your best life — there’s nothing wrong in being content and happy with your everyday. But why is it so hard to feel this way sometimes? Because while we get to work a stable job, have a good family to come home to, travel once in awhile.. others are suffering. There’s this guilt that eats us up for being able to enjoy while even other people around us are struggling. Or we tend to look at the lives of other people and go down the rabbit hole of jealousy & insecurity, we stop & rethink if we are indeed living the best life we can have.

But it’s not their fault that they live that way. Nor is it ours that we have a different life. We can make assumptions and think that the grass is greener on the other side but do we really know the hard work and sacrifices that went into the grass to become healthy and full of life? Let’s not feel bad about our choices & lifestyle and learn to embrace that what we currently (and can) have is enjoyment in its purest form already.

Here’s the thing though: Enjoying life’s fruits doesn’t mean it’s an easy breezy experience. Earning money takes hard work, exercising is a chore, and travelling means waking up early and doing a lot of walking to soak in the sights (Except for staycations, depends on your IT) and requires money to spend. Maintaining friendships and having good relations with your parents/siblings develops over time. A good life means working through problems and exerting thought & effort to live a balanced lifestyle. There’s no shortcuts and as we experience the opposite of anything easy, the lessons and hardships will make us wiser and improve our lives. If we allow it, and we should.

I’m slowly trying to unlearn the notion of guilt and stripping away the care and attention I give to jealousy. When I look at other people’s social media feeds or hear their success stories, I admit that the emotions can bubble up and eat me alive. But I always remind myself that what others have that I don’t does not make me weaker. Get rid of entitlement and own up to your strengths. Don’t we downplay our lives when other people compliment it? The same rule applies when we admire others for theirs — let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt.

To be confident and know that despite what other people say, you can still do your own thing, is hard. Don’t be afraid to be happy and live with a smile on your face because that smile can come from many different (easy & difficult) experiences. This entry doesn’t mean that I’m well on my way to achieving true happiness without falter but I’m hoping that these words will remind me that I’m doing okay. I’m not miserable and I want to start fully enjoying my life without any buts😊

Unnie Recommends: Welcome to Waikiki 2

Get ready for another season of laughter and misadventures as the surprisingly popular and very well received kdrama, Welcome to Waikiki, comes back with its 2nd season this 2019. This time though, only 1 character from the original cast came back and I’m happy that it’s Lee Yi Kyung, the breakout star in my opinion of the show, as he portrays Lee Jun Ki, a struggling actor trying to make it big in the Korean entertainment industry. Welcome to Waikiki circles around a group of friends who run a guesthouse while also trying to achieve their respective dreams/goals in life. It’s the same plot this time but Jun Ki enlists the help of his high school friends to run the business. 

Current Impression

Watching the first few episodes brought me to a place of nostalgia as I remembered the antics and craziness of the show’s first season. It feels like I’m part of an inside joke as some elements present now such as the background music, certain characters, Rebecca (Jun Ki’s car), and his expressions all stem from the glory of season one 🙂 I highly recommend watching the 1st season of the show as the characters and story were so good, but even if you haven’t and you want to watch this first, you’ll still have a great time.

The guesthouse is still struggling to have guests and money problems still haunt the group. The other 2 men that make up the inevitable trio lead are Cha Woo Shik (Played by Kim Sun Ho) and Kook Ki Bong (Played by Shin Hyun Soo). The former is an aspiring musician while the latter is a minor league baseball player. They have another guest staying with them, Kim Jung Eun (Played by Ahn So Hee) and eventually meets their first high school love, Han Soo Yeon (Played by Moon Ga Young) who’ll end up staying with them due to her family going bankrupt. The comedy is not over the top and the predicaments they get themselves into (E.g. Unable to pee while acting in a scene for Jun Ki, Woo Shik dating their landlady to temporarily avoid being kicked out of the guesthouse) are genuinely hilarious to watch. The jokes are not forced and how they continue to push through life despite their sometimes unrealistic but still true to life rotten luck just makes you root for them even more.

Romance was also a big part of this kdrama but I’m hoping that Jun Ki doesn’t get a love life here because he and Seo Jin (in season 1) were perfect for each other. For the other 2 boys, I feel like something will be brewed for them as the story progresses. What makes Welcome to Waikiki worth the watch was the friendship and support the group of friends had for each other, even when they were seriously already annoyed with each other. I can see that dynamic between the 3 high school friends so I know the chemistry of the new cast is gold.

I hope that in the future episodes the former cast would guest star somehow, perhaps not at the same time in 1 episode, but I’d love to see their character growth now. We do get a glimpse of their lives (all are very successful) via a short introduction from the landlady:

Welcome to Waikiki 2 is following in its predecessor’s footsteps in providing a feel good yet slice of life korean drama. I don’t know if I’m hoping for a 3rd season just like the Let’s Eat series as I’m not sure who I want to see lead the guesthouse next time. But for the meantime, relax, enjoy the view, and have a wonderful stay at Waikiki!

Unnie Recommends: Doctor Prisoner

In today’s vast and creative TV show landscape, the best stories are usually those with unexpected plot twists and where we, the audience, are treated to a whirlwind of emotions. Villains can become heroes, romantic partners can die leaving the hero/heroine all by themselves, or the very person we root for, the show’s protagonist, can even become the bad guy or just borderline evil.

Korean dramas have been getting better and better over the past few years and although remain conservative in some approaches, they aren’t afraid to showcase leading characters with a blurry moral compass. It’s not just a straight path that gets us to the destination, even heroes can stray from the road of righteousness and loyalty to explore the dark and dangerous trail of self imposed justice to get to their desired stop.

Current Impression

Doctor Prisoner tells the story of a very talented and kindhearted surgeon, Na Yi Je, who gets his medical license removed due to an incident with a son helming from a very rich family. With accusations of malpractice and treating patients illegally (He performs surgeries on less fortunate people even if they can’t pay), he serves time in prison as well. He seeks out his revenge by becoming the medical director of a prison where the son will be held at due to an accusation involving possession of drugs after a few years. It has a similar plot to Cross, a kdrama where a great doctor also works at a prison to seek revenge, but the rest of the story takes a different direction.

The first memory I have of the the actor (Namgung Min) in this titular role started out as a villain in the kdrama Remember, and he was so good in it! The so good meaning you hope the bad guy suffers a long death😈 It suits him to play sort of a vigilante protagonist given his face and aura can exude qualities of both a good and bad guy.

It’s always the lone wolf against a pack of enemies though as Yi Je will encounter more enemies such as the prison’s current medical director and the rich son’s (Park Eun Seok) mother who are working together as (of course) a bigger conspiracy is tied into the show’s overall plot.

Smart and cunning, Yi Je will also encounter psychiatrist Han So Geum, a female doctor who works at the prison now but also worked at the previous hospital with him. I’m not sure if they’ll push the romance heavily but hey, what korean drama doesn’t have a side story of love right? As of now, she is the most secretive as her intentions are not clear but don’t expect Yi Je to get blindsided with her quickly as I can see his character just going full force revenge mode on the baddies.

Doctor Prisoner is not the most original in terms of the plot wherein the spoiled and highly connected villain battles with the avenging anti – hero but any medical drama laced with themes of mystery and suspense will always be more than interesting for me. Nam Gu Min is an excellent actor who has proven that he can play the guy who can smile so genuinely but have hidden, killer motives behind his pearly whites. Let Doctor Prisoner free you from the mundane, one dimensional stories and watch an anti-hero’s exciting journey that’ll either lead him to his doom or redemption.