Should Asian entertainment be more diverse?

Really interesting. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, so I have a lot to say. It makes sense that because a country is mostly ethnically Asian, most of the actors would be Asian. I think right now the countries are broadening their horizons by accepting Asian actors and entertainers from other Asian countries, or Asian-Americans, or entertainers who are biracial.

I can think of a good amount of biracial entertainers in the Korean entertainment industry. Julian Kang, mentioned in this article, is actually half-Korean (and Canadian, not American.) He was also on a season of We Got Married and in High Kick through the roof. Daniel Henny is an American, half-Korean actor, that’s had a lot of success in Korea. He was in Kim Sam Soon, and also was the lead in Seducing Mr. Perfect, where he spoke English. Yoon Mirae/Tasha is half-black, half Korean and is a crazy talented singer-rapper. I believe she’s American, and is married to Tiger JK who is Korean-American; they have a child, Jordan, who occasionally makes appearances at concerts or on TV. Insooni and Lee Michelle are half-black singers who grew up in Korea: what they’ve said about being mixed, especially half-black, growing up in Korea makes me think that racial prejudice is still pretty strong and that might be one reason we don’t see more actors of different races. I know that for a long time it was hard, if not impossible, to get a Korean birth certificate for a child where the father was a foreigner. During it’s history Korea was attacked and controlled by several different entities (China, Japan) and part of the unwillingness to accept mixed-race children came from a reaction to that, an urge to protect Korean culture and bloodlines. Frankly, even in more ethnically diverse countries, interracial marriages and biracial children are still in the process of being accepted. I am half-black, half-white, and I can actually recall someone hazing my family from a car. I grew up in a very liberal part of California. (Any Americans recall the reaction to a certain Cheerios Commercial?) Anyway, I don’t know the situation in Korea now, but I have seen MANY mixed kids in variety shows like Hello Baby and We Got Married. Most of them have had one parent from a different Asian country, or one white parent. I did read something that suggested you have it easier being biracial or a foreigner in Korea if you’re pretty, but I guess that’s everywhere.

For foreign celebs, Sam Hammington is an Australian comedian. For some reason, even though they’re quite different in age, I always confuse him with Robert Holley, who is an American born, naturalized Korean citizen and television personality known for speaking Korean in a Busan dialect. I saw him on an episode of Mamma Mia with his son, who is half-Korean (and seemed kinda cocky, but whatever, he’s a kid.) I also saw a French singer at some point, who’s name I can’t remember at all, with her son. I’ve seen a few episodes of Hello Counselor where foreigners appeared. Abigail Alderete is from Paraguay, and played Chris on Playful Kiss. She also was recently on a show where foreigners teach English with Sam Hammington, Bradley Ray Moore of Busker Busker, and Sam Otswiri from Ghana.
Now that I’m at the end of this lengthy introduction, I’m not quite sure what I was trying to say. But any thought from others would be welcome.

Quiller Ink

I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine about my obsession fondness of korean dramas and anime/manga, and she asked an interesting question. She knows that I’m someone who actively tries  to support diversity, particularly in television series and literature. So when I told her about my watching of Korean, Japanese and Chinese entertainment, her response was “But there’s nothing but Asians in those shows”.

But that point, 'tho Say What? Nothing but Asians?

For the most part, she’s right. I then also mentioned that Nollywood and Bollywood are similar as well. But then, I asked her why she thinks these things, and on a western level, stations like BET were set up? She shrugged and said “Because each culture wants their own entertainment”. And she’s right, but there are more factors than that. Here in North America, people of color weren’t  even allowed on television and movies for a time…

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High School King of Savvy- First Impression

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High-School King of Savvy got off to a good start this week. Seo In Guk plays a teenage hockey player, Min Seok, who suddenly has to pretend to be his brother, Hyung Suk,  a hot-shot executive at a big company who hasn’t been home in years. When I first read about it, I had flashbacks to Don’t tell Mom the Babysitters Dead, which was my favorite movie when I was a preteen. Teens b.s.ing their way through business is always a funny concept to watch, especially if they realize at least one or two of the adults around them are  doing the same thing. I don’t know if this show will bear much resemblance to my favorite early-90s Christina Applegate film, but I am finding it pretty entertaining.

I think Seo In Guk is a great actor in general, and although he doesn’t look much like a real life high-school student, he does a great job of acting like one. (He doesn’t look old or anything, he just looks obviously past the wobbly-voiced, constantly covered with pimples, arms-too-big-for-body stage of life.) This show has a much better reason to cast a 27 year old as a teen than any other show, since Min Seok is substituting for his brother who is much older. Still, because the age and life-experience gap between the two brothers is one of the most important parts of the show, Seo In Guk being able to convince the audience he’s a teenage-fish-out-of-water is crucial. As expected, he pulls it off. I do think casting an 18 year old as his stalker/possible love interest just makes him look older, but I might be the only person who feels that way.

This isn’t an out-and-out comedy, but there are some very funny moments and quirky characters. What I especially like is how the serious issues/moments blend well with the comedic beats. And there are some pretty heavy things going on, even just in the first episode; the back-story regarding Hyung Seuk and Min Seuk’s parents, for instance. None of the heavy moments drown the humor, and there aren’t any rapid, uncalled for shifts in tone.

So far, of the supporting characters, Lee Soo Hyuk’s character, Jin Woo, and Lee Ha Na’s character, Soo Young, are the most interesting to me. Soo Young is a bit of a walking train wreck, and might not be for everyone, but her bumbling confession of love (in the men’s room, for crying out loud) and subsequent drunk dialing, combined with her efficiency at work and general quick thinking, seemed pretty realistic to me. She’s all book smarts at this point, with no emotional intelligence; I’m curious if this will change. Soo Young and Jin Woo actually have really great chemistry, and as Jinn Woo seems distrustful of absolutely everyone, they’d be an interesting pairing. I don’t know if Soo Young is Min Seuk’s main love interest, but if not, so far I hope that Soo Young and Jin Woo are end game.

I’m wondering if this is a Noona romance or not…’cause if it is, how old is that kid supposed to be, anyway? I have no problem with relationships with substantial age disparities, but I like the younger party to be out of high school first. I don’t like the term jail bait because is assumes that people in a relationship are automatically having sex, but I do think teens are still children, and need time to be kids and grow before they hop into relationships with adults. True, TV does a horrible job of modeling what life should look like and how everyone should think, feel, and act, and everyone should know not to imitate it; that doesn’t mean we should just watch whatever and not think of about the messages it sends out.

That said, I’m actually ok with a Soo Young/ Min Seuk pairing here, because I really like Soo Young. Also, because I think it’s a little strange to have a problem with Seo In Guk’s being paired with an actress who is five years older than him in order for him to be paired with an actress who is 9 or so years younger. The characters ages are not as important to me as the actors ages, because older male actors are paired with younger females constantly without much commentary, and it’s often not even mentioned in the plot. On the other hand, shows with older women paired with younger males draw a lot of commentary about the woman’s age, looks, and suitability, AND the age is a big part of the plot.

Anyway, we pretty much know by now that if Soo Young is the one for  Min Seuk,  there will be a time jump for just enough years to keep it from being creepy. Right now, they haven’t exactly interacted much, but there is some chemistry and you can tell Min Seuk is amused by her.

Some comments and complaints:

There was a strange editing moment at the beginning of the first episode that I’m sure left some people rewinding to see if they missed something. Did the editor of Witch’s Romance come along with the timeslot?

It is very hard to find this drama online with English subs. I was visiting a friend in Sacramento without my laptop. I wasn’t able to find this show on any of the video apps my tablet has. Neither dramafever nor Viki has it, although some users on Viki are trying to start a fan channel. When I had computer access again, I found it here, but I’m not sure how quick the subs will be uploaded.  Making it harder to locate, this show is called about 452 different things in English: “King of High-School Manners,” “High-School King of Manners,” “High-School King of Savvy,””King of High-School Savvy,” “King of High-School Life Conduct,” (literal translation) and just plain “King of High-school” are a few I’ve seen. I prefer either the literal translation or “High-school King of Savvy,” simply because that was the name I saw in all the promotional material.

Se Ho! Roommate Episode 7 quick commentary

I’m watching Roommate episode 7. I’m only 20 minutes in, and I just had to pause so I could cry tears of confused laughter as Se Ho groped the members of Exo. What in the World. This guy is hilarious. Also, Mama Shin is pretty cute. I kind-of noticed this before, but now I think I’m nursing a tiny crush.

Other notes-

Nana’s presents to the cast are cute and funny. I especially liked Mama Shin’s presents, but I hope someone finds out it’s his birthday and gives him a present just for him, or at least a “Happy Birthday.”

I don’t know why Min Woo had to explain why he’s visiting his parents- don’t most people visit their parents occasionally?

Kang Joon and Min Woo and their continued communication problems are amusing.

Favorite Soo Hyun moment: Her waking Se Ho up by saying “Come eat Ramen” and telling him in a completely deadpan voice that it was 4:00 in the afternoon. Very effective way to wake someone up. She’s really grown on me, especially since she went from doing full makeup to have breakfast to walking around with her hair un-brushed in the morning (which is the right way to do it, of course.)

Chanyeol is adorable as usual. Loved his jittery old-man walk when he was surprised by the roommates. I’m not quite into his outfit, though; he looks kind of like the twelve-year-old boys at church whose parents make them wear suits. It probably looks more appropriate when he’s got his EXO-performance vibe going on the stage.

Haven’t seen much of Ga Yeon or So Ra yet.

Bom’s airport fashion just looked like a shirt, shorts, a jacket and boots to me, but she did look cute.

Random thought- I think the reason the cast gets a long so well is that they don’t stay with each other all the time, but only once in a while for filming. So it probably feels like getting to have a sleepover with schoolmates.

 

EDIT: OK, I watched the whole thing. Dong Wook needs to be in the show more. Chanyeol is successful at only appearing from time to time, but I think he’s the only one who can do it and still stay relevant to the viewers at home. Not that Dong Wook isn’t relevant, I’d plan to marry him if I was more delusional about my attractiveness to Korean celebrities; it’s just that he’s being pushed and pushed as maybe having something with Bom, and it’s not very realistic because they NEVER see each other. It seems like Dong Wook is amused because he thinks Bom likes him, but show, if you want me to believe it’s more than that, show them together!

I like Nana. She doesn’t come off very well until about 6th impression, but she’s not the horrible person I was afraid she was. She’s just a little impulsive. Se Ho is nursing a big crush, which, I mean, well, whatever. I don’t really have an opinion. If they get together in the end, I won’t believe it’s real, because quite a few of their interactions fall into the “this is probably staged” category.

I think so Ra doesn’t talk to Mama Shin because she has difficulty talking to people first. Remember when she first moved in? And then after that, she fit in with everybody by being kind of a big sister figure, but Sung Woo is a bit older.

I think  Ga Yeon and Min Woo are just really good friends, and nothing else is going to come of it. When Dong Wook accused them of coming back from a date, Min Woo just responded dryly “Yep, you caught us” without any sense of embarrassment, and didn’t rush to explain that they were just buying a cake. If they were really dating, or interested in doing so, there would be some embarrassment, right?

Kang Joon is super young!!! I know they mentioned that early on, but it just sunk into my head.

What else…this episode was funny, but totally devoid of content, to tell you the truth. My favorite part came early, and I watched the rest a bit absentmindedly. I’m not surprised the ratings were low.

A (Loving) Look at the Clichés in “Witch’s Romance”

Spoilers ahead: The writers of Witch’s Romance didn’t avoid cliches. Instead, they used said cliches to create unexpected outcomes. Look at Ji Yeon’s colleagues, for instance. They are the stereotypical one-dimensional evil bullies in the first episode, but very quickly, as the drama goes on, that changes. Or Dong-Ha. He is the stereotypical “puppy” of the Noona romance genre, except that he is independent and self-assured in most things. There is no long separation needed at the end of the show to “grow him up” because he is already as mature as Ji Yeon (which, true, sometimes is not very, but they match.) And as this article mentions, there was the setup for an angsty separation and then a reuinion later, but the show avoided that; Ji-Yeon went abroad for a year and, as MANY people do, they dated long distance. Even the forced living situation didn’t involve the typical accidentally seeing each other naked scenes. The whole living situation is actually one of the calmest parts of the whole drama. Anyway, read this post, because it has a lot of interesting points.

Crayon Dreams

I loved watching Witch’s Romance every week and seeing my favorite couple interact. As much as I liked it, though, I was not blind to its many, many drama clichés. Actually, what’s truly amazing about this drama is that it is incredibly well-done despite all of its clichés. As many have said, it’s all in the execution. It also manages to avert just as many drama clichés as it uses. But I’ll get to that later. First, let’s take a look at some of the prominent clichés included in Witch’s Romance. *Spoilers Ahead!*

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Roommate Ships

I enjoy roommate, and although there is obviously scripting being done, I think the actors are expressing their real personalities for the most part.

(Oh, lemme just insert a complaint here. I found out the other day that Se Ho is a year younger than me. I know you’re the funny man, and you might have some insecurities about being around actors and singers known for their looks, but please stop wearing things that make you look 8000 years old. Like that ridiculous pajama set.)

A big part of Roommate is the whole “will anyone become a real couple and get the overseas trip” question. I’m thinking no, unless it’s pre-planned. And the only ship I’m really invested in probably can’t happen in real life, because it involves Chanyeol.

I was sort-of behind a Min Woo-GaYeon pairing, but because they have such a great sibling-like relationship I’m a little uncertain about that now. I would like to see them become good friends, though. Chanyeol and GaYeon, on the other hand, seem to be unable to look at each other, and that adds a layer of cute to two already adorable people. Even when Chanyeol is talking to GaYeon, he talks past her or to other people about her. Plus Ga Yeon is pretty blunt, even if she is very polite, and Chanyeol is very loving and careful about what he says, so I think they contrast well with each other. I like relationships were one person fills in the things the other person is missing. (I’ve decided to treat this show like a  drama, and worry more about what would entertain me than about what’s real and what’s not.)

SeHo/Na Na, on the other hand, is really confusing me. I’m not sure, but I think the show is trying to push the idea that there’s something there. I get actually uncomfortable with their interactions sometimes, because it seems to me like the whole pretty-girl-who-doesn’t-realize-her-guy-best-friend-isn’t-joking-about-liking-her-scenario (whew, let me take a breath) and that way usually lies heartbreak. I’m not even sure if it’s real, but I’ve been in similar situations before, on both sides to tell you the truth, so I’m not very comfortable with it.

Bom/Dongwook might be easier for me to be on board with if they actually talked to each other once in a while.

Kang Joon-whoever Also would be great if he was more present. I think maybe he likes Na Na, but I also think he might be indifferent about the whole thing. Soo Hyun, even though she’s obviously a fan of the pretty, doesn’t seem like someone who would actually date a 20 year old at 32.

Min Woo/Soo Hyun was a pairing I liked in the beginning, but I don’t really know about it now. I like Soo Hyun a lot better than I did at the beginning, but she seems like someone that is very big-sister to those younger to her. It might be better for her to date someone older than her. I don’t know who, though. Mama Shin? I don’t think that would happen, but it might be sorta cute, maybe?

Mama Shin/ So Ra- There was the whole stare at each other thing in the last episode, and they looked uncomfortable, but I don’t think it was romantic. I got the feeling these two avoided each other simply because they’re both used to being in charge, and both have strong personalities.

Are you shipping anyone? Or are you still waiting for a pairing to jump out at you? Or do you maybe find the whole concept a little silly?

 

A Witch’s Romace: Short Review

All Kinds of Cute, all Kinds of Heart

Totally spoilerific. Read with caution.

A Witch’s Romance finished today. I’m both sad to see it go and relieved that it finished nicely. It was a “noona romance” that didn’t depend on the male lead being overly boyish, or base too much conflict on what other people thought of the 14 year age gap. It instead focused on a creating a loving, sweet friendship between leads who were both afraid to let go of the past.

I’ve mentioned before, I watched My Queen, the original Taiwanese version of this drama, and went from loving it to feeling tortured by it. That colors my perspective of A Witch’s Romance quite a bit. The fact that A Witch’s Romance came out of the gate with complex characters, amazing chemistry between the leads, and a great sense of humor couldn’t keep me from fearing the downward slope that (I assumed) was going to come.

A Witch’s Romance didn’t completely avoid all the potholes on the highway, but it got where it was going in much better shape the My Queen.

Let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first:

The return of Polar Bear/Sunbae/Phillip Noh.

This is really the only negative for me, but it’s a big, big, big one. In fact, it has categories and sub categories of bad. I need to use a bulleted list here. I only do that when there was so much bad it has to be carefully organized.

  •  The relationship was SO DEPRESSING. It wasn’t that the ex-fiancee’s return was badly written, or that the actors were bad, but that the situation was painful to watch. When I say the actors weren’t bad, I don’t mean that Han Jae Suk and Uhm Jung Hwa had chemistry. They didn’t. That worked for the story, though. Ji Yeon mostly looked sad and a bit like an Alzheimer patient when she was with him- as if “How did I get here?” was echoing over and over in her head.
  1. Ji Yeon lost her personality. Watching Ji Yeon not speak her mind and practice “image maintenance” was so heartbreaking. The thing I loved most about the show was that the writing didn’t suggest Ji Yeon needed to change being straightforward and opinionated, but that she needed to show what she was thinking to the people around. Women like Ji Yeon who are goal oriented and don’t pull punches are often labeled  not Witch but something that rhymes with it. I was over the moon to see Ji Yeon stay herself and be loved for it, and then this happened.
  2. Sunbae’s kind of dull and maybe a bit of an ass. This is the one area that My Queen clearly did better: The 2nd male lead was a much better person, and you really felt for him and understood why the female lead fekt that she had to be with him. (To be fair, the 2nd female lead was way worse, so I guess it’s a draw.)
  3. It was hard to tell how Ji Yeon felt about Dong ha. She went around being silent and mopey, and although she obviously liked him it was hard to tell if she had acknowledged it to herself.
  • Dong Ha’s reaction was SO DEPRESSING. Once Dong Ha let go of a the past, he rushed head on into his feelings for Ji Yeon, which, of course, is when her ex came back. It was the exact moment he threw himself 100% into loving her, the point of no return. This was great dramatic fodder and everything, but I could barely force myself watch him break down for- what, 4 to 6 episodes?
  1. He started avoiding her and being rude to her. Understandable, just sad.
  2. He got in fights, got drunk in random places, and didn’t know she cared about him. Again, understandable, but did it really have to go on FOR SO LONG.
  3. Even the moments when he started acting like himself again broke your heart. He told her mom he loved Ji Yeon even though he didn’t have to, and he looked like he was going to cry. Again, not bad, not hard to understand, and actually really sweet, but did we need SO MUCH ANGST. They could have shortened the angsty period by an episode or two.

The Positive Points

I’m a total fan girl for this show, so I’m going to do my best to make it short so I can actually go to sleep tonight.

The depressing part went on for FAR FEWER EPISODES than it did in My Queen. I know that’s hard to believe, but trust me, it could have been worse. Also, Dong Ha and Ji Yeon still had cute scenes throughout this mess, which they didn’t really in My Queen. There was also a more dramatic revealing of feelings, and they also recovered their zippy, fun interactions much more convincingly.

The main pairing had amazing chemistry. I was very skeptical about this pairing. I though Uhm Jung Hwa might act circles around Park Seo Joon, or that he would look way to young acting opposite her (like a high school student.) I also thought a 19 year age gap between the actors, with the woman being older, might lead to the female acting overly cutesy all the time. None of that happened. Park Seo Joon absolutely made the role of Dong Ha his own, but I think the natural chemistry between the two actors helped him do so. I completely forgot about the age gap, and I’m not really a fan of large age gaps, whether it’s the man or woman who is older. I’m even embarrassed at being a year and four months older than my boyfriend. Here, i didn’t care. The two characters seemed perfect for each other. They seemed to almost have their own language.

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You’re All Surrounded ep 9 kdrama

This is from a blog with a lot of good fan art. I really like this drawing. It captures the characters well and is really vibrant. I thin Go Ara’s eyes and Lee Seung Gi’s lips are my favorite parts.

cimiart

You're All Surrounded ep 9 kdrama You’re All Surrounded ep 9 kdrama markers, by Cimi

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