Fall’s here, the rain’s back and time to bid summer adieu. As far as drama watching goes, yours truly is back to kdrama-watching after an experimental few months with Chinese and Taiwanese dramas.
This time I’m joining the masses devouring what’s currently airing, shows that are talk of the town and contenders making a push on the ratings game.
I love Gong Hyo Jin. She’s a superb actress in my books and so far I’ve never been disappointed with her performances. Except for Producers, which didn’t mesh well with my drama tastebuds, many of her dramas made my favorites. So I didn’t need any persuading when Jealousy Incarnate aired. Just like that, I started watching. Jo Jung Suk as co-star is simply cherry on top of an already delicious cake. I loved him in Oh My Ghostess.
But I gotta admit, I did not start out loving this show. Let’s just say, the breast touching moments just sort of weird me out. That a woman would grope a man’s breast in public and he just stands there allowing it to happen. Eww. Mind you, if this was a bedroom scene, it’s a completely different story but in broad daylight. Hmm. Let’s say if it was role reversal, a man doing that to a woman, we would all be screaming sexual assault. Never mind.. I’m digressing. But, show has slowly grown on me with each endearing episode. It is undeniably fresh and unpretentious.
Na Ri, the sweet tempered weather girl with a one sided crush for hotshot Reporter Lee Hwa Shin. Unrequited, she moves on and eventually falls in love at first sight with his best friend, Chaebol heir, Go Jung Won. Both men are charming in his own ways, decent and kind but one’s got the wealth and the other’s got the fame. Not a bad choice either way but which one gets Na Ri’s heart?
The show is chock full of stellar actors playing characters with interesting stories to tell. I do have a difficult time connecting with Bbal Gang. I don’t get why everyone is super protective of an 18 year old girl. Understandably, she lost her dad, was raised in a dysfunctional household and her only uncle betrayed the family for the greater good but she’s no longer a five year old. I wish writer-nim’d give her some backbone. Time to grow up. The two moms are goofy but adorable; they hate each other’s guts but deep down both want what’s best for Bbal Gang. Their wacky three way love interest with the impotent Mr. Nice Guy, Kim Rak, is charming without being tacky.
Ep 14 escalates the show from good to awesome delivering that tingling feeling of joy, love and ecstasy in one fulfilling hour. This breezy workplace romantic comedy is definitely a class of its own, finding a perfect middle ground between comedy and touchy feely melo. It has quirkiness, rofl-worthy moments (mud fight), best friends love triangle but one that values friendship and loyalty above all else while introducing a delicate subject to the audience, that breast cancer is not just a woman’s disease.
Action, action, action! Need I say more? Korean Mission Impossible or Matrix re-invented? The first few episodes feel like the show is trying to showcase Ji Chang Wook’s fighting skills rather than letting the plot drives the actions. Don’t get me wrong. I chuckled with the rest of Twitterverse with the shower fight sequence but it feels more like comic relief rather than story development. I don’t need more of Ji Chang Wook making his foes eat dirt or should I say soap-suds, I already know his character is king in the ring. Good thing he’s not just Rambo or Neo, he can actually act. His face lits up when it needs to be (Ramyun scene) and his heartfelt pain is plain for all to see (Rania’s death).
Six episodes in, the pacing has been fairly good giving me the edge of the seat storytelling and compelling leads. Mind you, I’m talking about Ji Chang Wook and Song Yoon Ah. Song impressed me with her masterful performance as an upright political aide in Assembly. And she has up her game here as the callous, ambitious and murderous wife of presidential candidate Jang Se Joon. There is nothing upright about this character but Song’s delivery is nothing short of praiseworthy.
The gem in this thriller is the amazing chemistry Song has with Ji Chang Wook. It is not the romantic kind but the high-tension exploration of relationship between two strong characters. Are they friends or foes, partners or antagonists? This compelling duo is the number one reason I’m tuned in. All other characters are a distant second for me. Unless Anna suddenly becomes front and center and Writer-nim develops this character, she’s not going to make it or break it for me. Given the promotional materials and teasers that have aired to date, I am hard pressed to think Writer-nim will deviate from the norm and the recluse in distress will end up with our hero. Which is just fine, but please do make her character earn it.
As a high stake political drama and thriller, the rest of the villains and supporting casts are appropriately cast though I find it hard to believe an elite security firm like JSS would employ the likes of Mi Ran and Master Song.
I can’t wait for Yoo Jin’s backstory to unfold. Is her ruthlessness grounded in her DNA or has life dealt her unfair justice? Is she on a path to revenge or is her ambition simply a quest for power and greed?
On the Way to the Airport
This one made my watch-list simply because the show is sponsored by AirAsia. Seeing the characters playing AirAsia flight attendants and pilots with location shoots in Malaysia, let’s just say, it makes me smile and automatically seals the deal for me. Any cultural references, big or small to my motherland never fails to perk up my interest in anything newsworthy, let alone in kdramas.
Well, bumbling motherland feels aside, the leads in this show are no slouch either. Lee Sang Yoon, Kim Ha Neul, Shin Sung Rok. These are as star studded as they come.
Granted, I’m not one to shy away from adultery-themed shows. Not that I condone the adulterous acts but I can understand why marriages fall apart, husband and/or wife forget their vows and commit the unthinkable. Some, for myriad of reasons cannot walk away from a bad marriage but at the same time, cannot stop what the heart wants to feel.
On the Way to the Airport is one such show. This is one for the grown-ups. The subject matter is deep, it is dark and it is uncomfortable. Just like Soo Ah said in ep 5, “this is scary and sad.”
On the surface, Choi Soo Ah and Seo Do Woo have decent marriages but underneath the serene calm, tinder is quietly building, stoking the fire for a hint of unease. Their spouses though “normal”, have questionable characteristics. Jin Suk has a history of being a player though up until ep 6, he’s been loyal and has spurned the advances of flight attendant Joo Hyun. But at home, he is a lazy bum and an irresponsible alpha male dishing directives where his daughter is concerned. And considering the little time he and Soo Ah have together as husband and wife, he chooses to spend his off shift time alone in his apartment and not with his wife. Can anyone blame Soo Ah if her heart is touched by Do Woo?
Kim Hye Won, Do Woo’s wife gives us the thrill and mystic in an otherwise thoughtful but mundane story. At this point, we don’t know her history, her mental health and the reason why Do Woo married her. Did he really marry her for love or was she a skilled temptress that swayed a gentle man’s tender heart?
One part of me want both couples to stay faithful to their vows. I can take a gut-wrenching melo, heart-rending romantic tension and ultimately forbidden love but I’d rather see a road to redemption for the spouses. Yes, love hurts but let noble idiocy reign and please don’t cross the line! I don’t think I’m ready to accept a cheating Soo Ah and Do Woo.
The preview for ep 7 hints at further development of Soo Ah and Do Woo’s relationship to dangerous places. I’m conflicted but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a well executed show, elegantly directed and beautifully acted, giving the viewers an aura of nostalgia, of what ifs and if onlys.