Category: Must watch Kdramas

Unnie Recommends: 3 Reasons Extraordinary You is a kdrama to tune into!

It’s comforting to know that we are the heroes/heroines of our own story, but what if you find out that you’re merely the supporting character of someone else’s fairytale? Would you resign yourself to the grand scheme of fate or will you try and change the path laid out for you? Our protagonist, or rather, supporting heroine, Eun Dan Oh, gets the shock of her life when she discovers that not only is she a character of a comic book, but that she’s only an extra!🤯

Extraordinary You offers a fresh perspective on leading roles as a supporting character realizes that she isn’t human and her life’s purpose is to serve as a bridge between the real leading lady and man of the book . Funny, entertaining, and has stunning cinematography and comic book style graphics, this kdrama is certainly a page turner in its own league.

Current Impression

*As of this writing, I’ve only watched until episode 4 of this kdrama.

It’s an age old question of destiny vs. freewill as Dan Oh goes to great lengths to change her predetermined fate as a student with a heart condition and is engaged to one of her classmates.

1. Ever wondered if a minor character told the main story in their perspective? In this comic book universe, this is how extras live and feel their existence.

Dan Oh first realizes that something is not right when she experiences memory loss such as when she was about to take a test in class; in the blink of an eye, she is done with her exam, with answers and all. With the help of another extra character, she learns that she has become self aware and that’s why she recognizes these gaps between scenes.

She also finds out that despite her nice background of being rich, kindhearted, and well loved by her classmates, she is not the heroine of the story. Entitled “Secret”, the comic book is set in Seuli high school where a love story between two of her other classmates, Oh Nam Ju and Yeo Ju Da, takes place. Along with this revelation, she comprehends the rules governing the comic book realm and realizes that despite wanting to say or feel something else, she speaks and acts how she ought to according to how her character is supposed to act.

Although she can act freely at times and upset the course of the comic book’s story, things always go back to how the writer intended events to occur. Actions such as not paying attention in class, wanting to buy strawberry milk, and avoiding accidents are attempted by Dan Oh but she hears the sound of a page turning a few seconds later and she goes back to her original planned scene and story. Frustrating right? That is, until one fateful day…

2. You’ll surely root and hate the characters of the comic book as each person has a distinct role to fill.

Like any book, each tale has a set of characters to pique our interests. It follows the bullied heroine and the bad boy with a heart of gold type of romance, complete with a 2nd male lead who falls in love with the leading lady. From left to right, meet the cast of “Secret”:

  1. Eun Dan Oh – The main, supporting character
  2. Yeo Ju Da – A transfer student who frequently gets bullied and is the actual heroine of the book
  3. Oh Nam Ju – Leader of his gang, “A3”, and develops a romantic interest on Ju Da
  4. Baek Kyung – Dan Oh’s fiance who doesn’t like her and is part of A3
  5. Lee Do Hwa – The other member of A3 and is the 2nd male lead who falls for Ju Da as well
  6. Ha Roo – The mysterious classmate who helps Dan Oh change her fate in the comic book
  7. Sae Min, Il Jin, Sam Jin, Ae Il – Dan Oh’s classmates in school

It is because of Ha Roo that Dan Oh doesn’t get her leg broken when she was supposed to and she goes on a manhunt to find him. She believes that he is the key to changing her fate. I think that he’s also a self aware character at this point and it will open up a whole new story with her, Ha Roo, and Baek Kyung as the love triangle. Oohhh, I am so excited for this show’s potential!

3. Just because we are supporting someone else’s story doesn’t mean we can’t become a main character in our own story. We are our own person no matter what!

Dan Oh’s character is someone who talks to herself a lot and has an animated persona due to her saying her thoughts aloud and doing hand gestures to express her being dumbfounded or determination in lots of scenes. It’s not that she wants to be the main character in the book itself, like replacing Ju Da or ruining the main leads’ romance, but she just wants to live a life that is decidedly hers.

Will Eun Dan Oh defy the odds of her supporting role and become her own lead character of her own story? Or is she meant to be a bystander in someone else’s story? I have such high expectations for Extraordinary You and hope that like how Dan Oh is forging her own fate, we pen the chapters of our life with choices and memories that we willingly make✨

Unnie Recommends: Gender Switch Shenanigans for The Tale of Nokdu

Pretending to be a member of the opposite sex usually falls as a woman’s responsibility in Joseon dynasty shows, but this kdrama has a male take center stage for a gender role reversal👨🏻👉🏻👩🏻 Based on the webcomic Nokdujeon, Jang Dong Yoon pretends to be a woman to infiltrate a widowers only village to find the people that are hunting him and his family.

Before I go any further, can I just say that Jang Dong Yoon is beautiful as a girl?😍 You’ll enjoy this korean drama, The Tale of Nokdu, as the first few episodes dives right into the story and features Jang Dong Yoon’s character, Jeon Nok Du, struggle to fit in as a woman, deal with his first romance, and at the same time find his enemies.

Current Impression

Living on a remote island, Nok Du and his family are attacked by masked assassins. He manages to fight them off and slashes the legs of one of them who he finds out is a woman. Against his father’s wishes, he chases after her all the way to Hanyang. He meets Dong Ju (Kim So Hyun’s character) at a bad timing but helps her get out of a sticky situation that involved almost killing the King. In his quest to find the person responsible, he ends up disguising himself as Ms. Kim when he discovers that a secret group is inside the village: Ordinary women by day, mercenaries at night.

Having watched his previous kdramas (School 2017 and A Poem, A Day), I’m so happy that Dong Yoon is finally the leading man this time. He is smart and determined to achieve his goals as he thinks of ways to become chummy with the girls who he suspects is involved with the secret group. Nok Du is the funniest when he gets awkward and stammers to avoid eye contact when the girls of the village are so casual in taking off their clothes. It’s a stark contrast for women who disguise themselves as men because while they need to come off smug and strong, Nok Du tries his best to be reserved and keep his physical distance from the women😅

Dong Ju is a reluctant gisaeng in training at the widowers village. It’s not yet explained whose side she is aligned with because although she tried to assassinate the King, it seems like she isn’t part of the secret women’s group. Her character is a bit of a troublemaker and does things her own way, even cutting off her long hair to save another girl from being taken away. She and Nok Du end up as roommates and fight like cats and dogs, but asks later on if she could treat him as an older sister — which makes me think that she’s lonely and doesn’t have a real friend in the village. I’m curious about her backstory and hope that she can shine as an individual in this kdrama!

We’ll have to see when or how the women will find out that Nok Du is a man, but even if he’s been kind or isn’t a pervert, I’m sure the consequences will be hilarious and bad for him🤣 I have a feeling that the mystery surrounding Nok Du’s true identity could be similar with another kdrama (I’m looking at you Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency) where Nok Du is of royalty but let’s wait and see if my hunch is correct.

The Tale of Nokdu narrated its first few chapters with fun, laughter, and a little danger. Let’s enjoy our hero’s journey and watch his eventual happy ending unfold weekly😁

Unnie Recommends: Melting Me Softly

It’s 1999 in South Korea — a world on the cusp of a booming digital age, flip cellphones were still a thing, and the possibilities for scientific progress are endless. Melting Me Softly tells the tale of 2 people who wake up 20 years after being frozen in a cryo chamber🥶 The plot reminds me of the Hollywood movie, Passengers, where the leads also went into hibernation only to be awakened with no one to tell them what really happened to them. The similarity ends there though as Melting Me Softly applies a different setting, time, and angle.

Going into the 1st episode, I wasn’t sure what to expect but thankfully, any hesitations went away as Ji Chang Wook’s charm as Ma Dong Chan is simply irresistible, hee. I first watched the actress Won Jin A in her previous kdrama, Rain or Shine, and I’m happy that she’s portraying a spunkier and more outspoken person here as Ko Mi Ran.

Current Impression

I liked how they depicted the 1st episode through flashbacks and not a linear story telling style. In the first few minutes alone, we see both Ma Dong Chan and Ko Mi Ran participate in a cryogenics project of a Doctor Hwang, freezing themselves in a chamber for only a period of 24 hours. How they got to this point unfolds piece by piece when we see glimpses of Dong Chan and Mi Ran’s life before getting frozen.

Dong Chan is as a talented and out-of-the-box thinking PD (Production director) directing a very popular variety show. He is passionate, hardworking, talented, and has an equally supportive girlfriend. He veers away from the ordinary and prides himself in doing things that no one in TV land has done before. He is very interested in cryogenics as it is a very new technology in 1999 and wants to be the first one to show the world its revolutionary effects. He volunteers to be a test subject himself to make it more believable for viewers and enlists the help of another person to go in with him.

Enter Mi Ran, a 24 year old woman who takes the dangerous jobs that no one dares to do in Dong Chan’s variety show because it pays a lot of money. She is enjoying her youth while struggling to find a permanent job in between participating in the show’s experiments, happily hangs out with friends, and takes care of her little brother who gets bullied from time to time. She is initially reluctant to volunteer but when Dong Chan mentions that an effect of cryogenics is curing diseases, she thinks of her brother and is all in with the project.

Something goes wrong as the Professor is chased by a car and supposedly killed on the same day that both go into the chamber. He is the only one who can unfreeze both Dong Chan and Mi Ran to administer a special shot to prevent their bodies from reacting negatively to being frozen for a day. With the Professor still alive 20 years later, he finally sets them free…with a consequence that their body temperatures must be maintained at 31.5 degrees Celsius🤒

Both Ji Chang Wook and Won Jin A portrayed their frenzied and pale 2019 selves very well when the former calls his assistant PD to continue shooting and the latter trying to find her family. They are in for the surprise of their lives when they both finally realize that so much time has passed since their awakening! They can’t exactly resume their lives as if nothing has happened and have to adjust to a more progressive Korea and an older generation of their loved ones.

Melting Me Softly is an intriguing korean drama that combines sci-fi elements with romance and comedy. There hasn’t been much interaction between our 2 leads yet so let’s anticipate the temperature of their love to heat up and see how they navigate their 2019 together!😊

Unnie Recommends: Heart Thumping Action in Vagabond

Every action star is a superhero, someone who can withstand an immeasurable amount of hits and thuds, and survives the most impossible situations imaginable. Especially those who have a clear drive within them, may it be revenge or finding clarity, a man/woman will do what they can to finish what they started.

I was blown away with the first 2 episodes of the show! Not only does it highlight how gorgeous Morocco is with its cool beaches and cascade of color roofed houses, but the action sequences and chases are of Hollywood movie quality👌🏻

Current Impression

Lee Seung Gi (Odyssey) stars as Cha Dal Geon, an ex stuntman who is now a cab driver raising his nephew (Hoon). He quit that line of work so he can ensure his own safety to be able to raise Hoon alive. He absolutely loves his craft with a montage showing several of his jobs (Getting beaten up, experiencing a car crash, being engulfed in flames) but also ending up hospitalized or needing care as well.

When news breaks out that the plane his nephew along with 200+ people rode in crashed leaving no survivors, he and the parents of Hoon’s judo team go to Morocco to pay their respects. Hoon uploads videos of his life and Dal Geon watches him laughing and goofing around with his judo teammates on the plane. Things get dicey in Morocco when he spots a man who he saw in Hoon’s video as someone on the plane and wildly chases after him. This is the catalyst that echoes throughout the show as it jumpstarts a game of cat and mouse to see who catches each other first. The man is backed up by a powerful corporation hellbent on landing a trillion dollar deal to have their fighter jets purchased and probably entangled with future conspiracies.

He meets Suzy Bae’s (While You Were Sleeping) character, Go Hae Ri, in Morocco as an intern for the Korean embassy who helps the parents with the memorial. Initially setting her up as part of the evil side, she clears her name as an NIS agent stationed at Morocco. She plays her character of being undercover well and is the breadwinner of her family. I like her role here so I hope this catapults Suzy into further stardom as an actress.

Lee Seung Gi portrays Dal Geon as an intense man who would hunt down the truth even if it costs him his life. His desperation to get to the bottom of things is evident and proves that he has great instincts when he concluded that the plane crash was not a systems/machine error. His chemistry with Suzy is electric, being at odds with each other due to Dal Geon’s brash personality and Hae Ri’s reluctance to believe him but ends up helping him in various situations. She does discover the truth thanks to the video clip Dal Geon provided her proving that the plane crash was an act of terrorism. It’ll be interesting to see how their romance (IF there is) will blossom given their not so great first impressions but I know it will amplify their connection further⚡️

Vagabond follows the normal formula for an action genre TV show — Money hungry powerful person/company bulldozes anyone who gets in their way, a protagonist victim seeking retribution, plot twists, a looming romance on the works with another lead fighting for the same cause. But formulas can be rearranged to get the same end result. Given the characters, action scenes, and story, expect the variables of this kdrama to be bold, feisty, and explosively good!💥

Unnie Recommends: Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency

Do you leave your life in destiny’s hands or do you believe that you shape your own fate? What if our choices, despite being made on our own free will, is all part of a grander scheme to lead us to the very destiny that we are trying so hard to avoid?

Visually appealing, funny, romantic vibes laced with a bit of drama, Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency will surely be a match made in heaven to brighten up your weekday kdrama habit!🌸

Current Impression

I like that it’s not another ordinary show as the story centers around a trio of young men running a matchmaking agency. What tasks they do, how they work, and what problems they encounter when setting up 2 people in the Joseon dynasty era is a tale worth telling. For our titular Flower Crew, the friends consists of:

  1. Ma Hoon – Smart, aloof, and is the leader of the agency.
  2. Ko Young Soo – Handsome, a ladies man, and lives his life to the fullest.
  3. Do Joon – A happy-go-lucky trendsetter/fashionista who says the wrong things as he actually means another word.

They’ll meet Lee Soo, a blacksmith’s son who wishes to be set up with his childhood friend, Gae Ddong, the stubborn but hardworking leading lady of the show. Without spoiling too much, Lee Soo and Gae Ddong’s case was accepted but just as they were about to get married, fate intervenes leaving Gae Ddong without a groom to marry. Our trio will find themselves getting involved with a mystery much bigger than their cupid style moves. Add to the equation Gae Ddong joining their team soon so expect lots of mishaps and learning curve for our Flower Crew.

Of course, in true Joseon dynasty fashion, no story is complete without the presence of the Royal family. One of the King’s advisers is the head villain, along with the Queen who he helped put into a position of power. But this is the 1st period kdrama that I’ve watched featuring a weak, but nontheless, scheming Queen who is an annoying, wannabe antagonist if you ask me.

Smack dab in the middle of this romcom is a love triangle between Soo, Gae Ddong, and Hoon. Soo is clearly in love with Gae Ddong and has the most sincerest intentions for her while I’m sure she also cares for him deeply, I think she loves him more of as a friend than a romantic partner. With Hoon, they always fight with each other but he helps her nonetheless when she is desperate to find Hoon. This is the 1st kdrama where I’m not sure who the girl will end up with because both seem like leading men material so I’m excited about that!😁

Sparks flew, (un)pleasantries were exchanged, and the seeds of a new adventure awaits. Join the Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency gang as they tackle their futures together, weathering whatever destiny decides to throw their way!💓

Unnie Recommends: 5 Times Love Alarm will buzz our kdrama hearts

In a world where information is readily available and technological advancements are constantly evolving, our lives have become in sync with an open and fast-paced lifestyle. What if even our most complex emotions, love, can also be determined and shown at the tips of our fingers?

Love Alarm is a korean drama based on a webtoon by Chon Kye Young revolving around a high school student named Kim Jo Jo (Played by Kim So Hyun), who gets a wake-up call when she downloads the app and explores her first steps in falling and love and going through adulthood. The show is produced by Netflix and following its predecessor (My First First Love), the show’s 1st season (8 episodes) have been released already.

Current Impression

1. It has a unique plot involving an app that can show if someone likes you📱

Love Alarm is an app that lets users know if someone likes you within a 10 meter radius. There are certain rules for this to work: For example, one’s Love Alarm has to be turned on so that when you have a crush on them, their app will ring informing them of how many people like them. It cannot show who likes you specifically so if there’s more than 1 person who likes you but there are 3 or more people in the radius, you just need to take an intelligent guess on who likes you, haha!

Jo Jo and Sun Oh’s 1st meeting

Our leading lady, Jo Jo, is attracted to the new transfer student, Hwang Sun Oh, who has also taken an interest with her. Sun Oh is best friends with Lee Hye Young, who also studies in the same school and is the 1st one to have a crush on Jo Jo as they work in the same Korean Bbq restaurant. When she downloads the app, she discovers her feelings for Sun Oh and that both men are also in love with her.

Jo Jo and Hye Young
2. A love triangle that will have you side with either of the guys!

*Spoilers ahead*

I’ll be honest… the majority of the episodes focused on Jo Jo and Sun Oh’s romance that it made me root for them completely. How can I feel a shred of conflict when she and Hye Young had almost zero interaction and he was basically stuck in a one-sided crush? Korean dramas have a tendency to make it obvious who the leading man/woman will end up with despite a love triangle angle. If you’re wishing for a fighting chance for the 2nd lead, tune in and don’t tap out until the last episode💕

There are 2 timelines in the 1st season: One is when they were in high school and another is 4 years later down the road. High school was all about Jo Jo and Sun Oh’s blooming romance while the more grown-up versions of themselves will find Hye Yeong and Jo Jo becoming friends. Sun Oh and Jo Jo started out with an attraction based, shallow, kind of vibe — but it naturally developed into a meaningful relationship because he accepted her problems and truly wanted to be with her despite it.

I didn’t think Hye Young could top Sun Oh’s efforts but the show did a good job in making me root for him too. Hye Young was shy and reserved back in high school, but he became more outspoken and didn’t hold his feelings back for Jo Jo anymore when they met again by chance. Jo Jo was honest to tell him that she might not be able to open her heart anymore but instead of getting dissuaded, he expressed that he’ll be okay with taking a chance on her. He also comforted her when she needed a friend so when she agreed to have Hye Young ring her love alarm, that small leap of faith made my love triangle heart throb🥺

3. It deals with real life issues such as the negative effects of social media and the consequences of depression.

This show surprised me a lot with as it tackled the impact that such an app, or any other social media platform, can have on our mental health. Our life is so exposed because we post and display so much of ourselves — from our mundane thoughts to our worst fears and feelings, we sometimes forget that this kind of validation shouldn’t define our self worth.

Suicide and stalking are some of the severe concerns that grew rampant over the course of this korean drama. The presence of an anti-love alarm group was even established to show that something created out of good intentions can malfunction into an ugly product.

4. Relate or hate the leading lady, but aren’t we all just trying to find our own path in the world?

I didn’t expect this show to deliver so much drama — the baggage of Jo Jo regarding her current financial and living situation showed through her character portrayal. I have always admired Kim So Hyun and this kdrama exemplifies her talent as an actress even further. Physically, she rarely gives out smiles and her lips are almost always curved downward like a pout. She was socially alienated by her peers and keeps her problems to herself. Jo Jo is a fighter though, but I’m hoping that she doesn’t close herself off being with other people to enjoy her life.

I thought Love Alarm would be a cutesy romcom but it actually deals with relevant problems such as self love, bullying, and addiction to the digital world.

5. Look forward to Love Alarm 2.0 and season 2!

No news yet on when season 2 will launch but I’m hoping it’s within 2019 or my crazy alarm will go off from waiting too long🤣 Before the show’s cliffhanger, a little bit of information was shown in the last episode for the titular kdrama’s newest update.

The app will be able to predict how your feelings will develop and whether or not one will be able to ring one’s love alarm or not. It’s farfetched to think that a program can relay such subjective information but I’m excited to see how accurate it will be given that a person’s feelings can change. I’m curious to how different scenarios will play out such as if the app can detect a person loving 2 people at the same time (because it can happen) or if a person chooses not to follow love alarm’s findings.

Love Alarm poses the question on whether or not we should rely on electronics to convey our emotions and ultimately influence our actions. Before we ring someone else’s heart, we ought to learn to love ourselves first and fight for a life that we want. No program in the world can tell us otherwise❤️

Unnie Recommends: I Wanna Hear Your Song

There are no coincidences, perhaps just a series of events that lead us to our desired or undesired destinies. I Wanna Hear Your Song centers around a girl who is involved in a murder mystery that she can’t remember. Portrayed by Gugudan kpop band member Kim Se Jeong, her character Hong Yi Young is a 27 year old who got into an “accident” and lost 3 months worth of her memories. Problem is, certain people are gravitating towards her now because of the so-called accident.

I Wanna Hear Your Song is another mixed genre type of kdrama which involves romance, comedy, mystery, and suspense at the same time. I know I’ve mentioned before that they’ve been experimenting with these kinds of shows and so far, the Korean entertainment industry has been doing a good job of producing dramas with these varied elements.

Current Impression

Hong Yi Young is an unlucky soul with a happy-go-lucky spirit. She is a timpanist looking to be hired in an orchestra and is an insomniac. She’s failed numerous times on several auditions but still carries a positive attitude that she’ll just have to work harder to achieve her dreams. A stark aspect of her character is that she has a difficult time falling asleep. She meets someone in a convenience store a couple of times and reluctantly takes his offer to help her sleep at night for a fee. I’m not sure if her difficulty dozing off happened before or after the accident but maybe it’s her brain’s way of suppressing the traumatic memories that she can’t remember.

Enter Jang Yoon, (Played by Yeon Woo Jin), a seemingly oddball who saves Yi Young from getting hit by a car and brings to her a hospital when she was drunk one night. He pops out in her life at various situations, I’m guessing not by chance, and sings to her in a tone deaf voice that helps her sleep at night. Apparently, he is also a great pianist who just so happens to get recruited in the same orchestra (Shinyoung Philharmonic) as Yi Young.

I’ve only watched 2 of his many kdramas (Marriage, Not Dating and Queen for 7 Days) and this is by far his most versatile role. He’s a layered character, as shown in flashbacks, it seems like someone he cared about died in the accident. He has a menacing vibe to him but he can also be kind and aloof when he needs to be. I’m not sure if he’s purely a good guy here but we’ll have to wait and see how his character plays out.

There’s also a violinist named Ha Eun Joo who slept with Yi Young’s now ex-boyfriend and is currently sleeping with the new conductor of the orchestra, Nam Joo Wan. She accuses him of liking Yi Young ever since the accident which means that he’s involved in it too. He does hold an audition to have a 2nd timpanist in the ensemble that even if Yi Young fumbled on her audition, he still hired her. Whether that’s a twisted way of feeling guilty to someone or keeping your enemies closer, Nam Joo Wan is also a very cryptic character for now.

I do feel though that Joo Wan has a different aura compared to Jang Yoon with their approaches to Yi Young. The former does have a pre-established connection with Yi Young as a senior-junior relationship and is flirty with her too. While the latter although helps her sleep with his horrid voice (haha), he is more cautious and calculated with their interaction. From what I can deduce, the accident is a murder and the killer has yet to be found. Is it Yi Young who deliriously killed someone or is Joo Wan trying to hide something much bigger? Jang Yoon is determined to get to the bottom of things!

I Wanna Hear Your Song’s plot is a mysterious melody that I’m enjoying every bit. The show’s dark yet upbeat tune with scenes switching from laughable to eerie is quite catchy. But if the song reveals anything, it’s that this tale is not of the romantic kind.