seraphcelene: (pic#523339)
You expect rom-com's to be romance and comedy thrown together for a fun, light-hearted, improbable romp down the path to coupledom. You do not necessarily expect it to be full of complexity, emotional subtlety, and best girlfriend awesomeness! The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry was surprising and fulfilling in a way that I haven't encountered since The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince.

34 year-old "spinsters" Lee Shin Young, Kim Bu Ki, and Jung Da Jung are career women at the heart of the story. Their friendship is of the awesome variety. They support each other in everything, providing a shoulder to cry on, awesome advice courtesy of the fabulous Bu Ki (aka Boogie Woogie), and a makegeolli drinking buddy at any hour of the night. Shin Young and Da Jung also want to get married and that wish is becoming problematized by their age (30 in Korea is apparently getting over the hill). Bu Ki is completely comfortable with her single status, having dumped her fiance four years earlier when she realized that she was destined to be a slave to the in-laws. The women are all successful, and they all LOVE their jobs (reporter, restaurant consultant, and interpreter, respectively). That was something that I really loved about this drama. The girls were true friends, sharing and supporting each other, and they were people outside of their relationships.
Read more... )
seraphcelene: (curious cat)
Happy Solstice! It's the longest, and apparently the wettest night of the year.

So, you know how you think that things are going to work out, and then they don't? Yeah, My Sweet Seoul turned out to be one of those things. All signs pointed towards the yes, but sadly it was kinda a no.

It started well enough, despite the melodrama tag that should have warned me of rough times ahead. Remember the last time I went down the melodrama road? Things Did Not End Well. Unfortunately, the melodrama tag isn't necessarily representative of a drama. Stars Falling from the Sky was considered a melodrama, and there were plenty of the angsty, dramatic moments of direness, but mostly it was upbeat. It was also very enjoyable. My Sweet Seoul wasn't tragic like A Love That Kills, but it wasn't quite as upbeat and harmless as Stars Falling from the Sky.

My Sweet Seoul is the story of how Oh Eun Soo, an old maid at the ripe old age of 31, grows up, finds love, and gets her life together. Ji Hyun Woo plays the adorably enthusiastic, Yoon Tae Oh, a film student seven years her junior, who she falls for quite by accident. Mr. Voice, Kee Sun Gyun plays the older, emotionally strained Kim Young Soo. It's not a traditional love triangle, there's never any real competition between the guys for Eun Soo's affections. The drama overlays their relationships, and there are moments where both Young Soo and Tae Oh are in love with Eun Soo, but the drama compartmentalizes the attractions and keeps them pretty separated on Eun Soo's side. Also, unlike standard kdrama tropes, both male leads are ridiculously likable. I was curious as I watched to see who she was going to actually end up with in the end. It could have very easily gone either way.

The film is very modern and falls in with the trendier style of kdramas, but it's not as slick. The drama is very beautifully shot, very indie and reminded me in ways of the cinematography of A Love to Kill. What's more, Eun Soo's soul mate BFF is played by the aforementioned drama's Kim Young Jae. Their relationship was an interesting one, and gets reflected in an unlikely place. My Sweet Seoul presents phases of relationships and of love, ones that work out, ones that don't, love that fades, love that's destructive, platonic love, romantic love, and love that never really was. I liked how to travels across this spectrum, although there were places were the relationships were abrupt and somewhat unformed. Ha Jane, one of Eun Soo's best friends, gets married early on and it is very obvious that their relationship is destined to fail, if for no other reason than that it is lined up against Eun Soo's parents marriage is definitely at its end, and from the looks of it, has been in its death knells for a while.

The representation of female relationships was also something that I liked quite a lot in this drama. The three BFF's (Eun Soo, Jane, and Yoo Hee of the tragic past)spend a day at the beach bonding. In one of my favorite scenes in the drama they start hurling insults about themselves and their failures at the ocean. Ha Jane starts it off by yelling at the ocean about how pathetic she is; she has just agreed to a divorce after only a few months. Yoo Hee steps up and yells out that she loves Ha Jane. Then Yoo Hee yells out her own shortcomings. Eun Soo steps in after her and yells that she loves Nam Yoo Hee. Then, of course, it's her turn, to which her two best friends shout their love for Eun Soo. I LOVED the affirmation between friends that no matter their flaws, no matter their troubles with men and work, their own selfishness, and immaturity, they love each other just as they are.

Unfortunately, there are not alot of moments like that. This drama is very intimate, focusing on quiet and introspective moments. It works very well at the beginning, but over time the narrative structure begins to drag. I also stopped caring a whole hell of a lot. I did manage to make it through 12 episodes before I completely checked out. I skipped to the final (16th) episode just to see how it all ended. And that was weird. Mom left her husband and opened a lunchbox shop, Eun Soo who quit her job back in episode 10 (or 11) started her own company, got engaged to and then broke up with Young Soo who turned out to have a big, dark secret. It might have been the eleventh hour revelation of that secret that did me in. We kept getting hints that all was not kosher with Young Soo, but the drama focused so much on Eun Soo and her girls, or Eun Soo and Tae Oh that trying to fold in Young Soo just felt uneven. The plot revolving around Eun Soo's parents was also rather disjointed, floating in and out of focus so that sometimes I wondered if they were going to resolve the plot or just leave it as a loose thread.

So, not sure how I feel about the drama. Entertaining at times, but it didn't live up to its own ambition.
seraphcelene: (curse you villains)
Seriously, Drama? Sixteen episodes of love and devotion, angst and tears, and this is the finale that you give me? Seriously? I may very, very, very well never watch another melodrama again.


Spoilers )
seraphcelene: (pic#516763)
Hello Melodrama, so very nice to see you. I've been drowning in cutsy, moderately angsty rom-com, it's about time someone showed up to bring da Noise and da Funk the Real Drama.

A Love to Kill is a 2005 kdrama starring Bi(Rain) and Shin Min Ah (adorably and most recently of My Girlfriend is a Gumiho). In an attempt not to be spoiled, something kdramas are good at doing right there in the series synopsis, I haven't done too much reading up. What I do know is that the very sexy Bi(Rain) plays K-1 fighter Kang Bok Gu, a man out for revenge. Shin Min Ah plays Cha Eun Seok, an actress nursing a broken heart. Her honey, further down the food chain then she is, has gone MIA. He's moved from his house and won't return her calls. Poor Cha Eun Seok is pretty heartbroken about it all and has turned to tipping the bottle back a little too often. Which leads her into troubles of another kind. The wrong time, wrong place kind of troubles that land our mess of a heroine in the midst of a sex scandal and the announcement of her engagement that, I suspect, is meant to resolve it.

Unlike the more recent rom-com's that I've been watching, A Love to Kill is missing that shiny, slick, primary color-ish feel. The filming is full of tricky camera angles, wide street shots, and artistic cut-aways. The color palette is decidedly washed out, dulled and interspersed with gritty black and white shots that I haven't yet figured out the code for. Initially, I thought they were meant to represent memories, but maybe not so much. They seem to kind of show up to enhance what I can only assume is the overall artsy fartsy vibe. That's not to say that I don't really like it or that I'm not impressed because ... yeah. That closing sequence? Pretty much killer.

Are you a Cha Eun Seok stalker? )
seraphcelene: (pic#516763)
Playful Kiss (or Mischievous Kiss) is the Korean version of Itazura na Kiss, a Japanese manga that was also adapted into a Jdrama back in 1996. With only a nine episode broadcast schedule, I can only assume that Itzaura na Kiss was a kinder, gentler, far less annoying trip down the drama rom-com road. Of course, until I sit down with Itzaura na Kiss I shall never know.

All that said, Playful Kiss was strangely entertaining. It lacked the cracktastic awesomeness of Boys Over Flowers, but I was invested just enough to make it through all sixteen episodes. On some days, I think I should have gotten a medal.

Read more... )
seraphcelene: (geum jan di by espirit_serein)
I finished up the kdrama My Lovely Sam Soon (alternately titled My Name is Kim Sam Soon) a week or so ago and was very content with the show as a whole. I loved the premise and I loved Kim Sun Ah as Sam Soon. I loved that she was a little overweight and older and temperamental. She was pretty damn awesome. Ponce though he was, I even liked Hyun Bin's Hyun Jin Heon. Sam Soon's sister and the Head Chef were a great secondary couple and I laughed quite a bit. There were some dropped threads that I wish had been better, or more clearly resolved, Sam Soon's attempts to change her name and the insistent pursuit of her ex, for example.

Watching kdramas is interesting because there are cultural cues that inform the story that I completely don't get. I kinda see that they are there, but it pretty much sails right over my head. Sam Soon's name and her insistence on changing it were the big red flag on this drama. I assume that it's like Julia Roberts naming her offspring Finn and Hazel. Much mock was made about the how outdated the names were. I loved the names for that, but apparently if you don't name your kid Bella or Taylor you're doing it wrong. Whatever. That Sam Soon's shiny younger boyfriend comes to love her name and thwart her every attempt to change it was a signal of his attachment to her, just as she is. I found that kinda endearing.

So, I've moved on to a new drama this week. I was up in the air about what to watch next. [personal profile] oyceter had recommended Dal Ja's Spring. Pasta is a recently completed drama starring Lee Sun Gyun from Coffee Prince and Personal Taste is a currently airing kdrama featuring Lee Min Ho from Boys Over Flowers. So, I had a moment trying to choose. Randomly I started the first episode of Personal Taste, which may have been a mistake since its still on first run in Korea and therefore isn't complete at Drama Fever. So, I may start Pasta to go along with. Part of my reason for not starting Pasta first was that My Lovely Sam Soon revolves around a chef (Sam Soon is a patissier) and I had just finished that. Dal Ja's Spring features an older heroine, again reminiscent of My Lovely Sam Soon. I am beginning to recognize the tropes in kdramas. Thankfully, I haven't gotten tired of them yet otherwise I'd really have nothing to watch. My American TV schedule is terribly, terribly thin and doesn't show any signs of fleshing out any time soon.

So, yeah. Rambling.

Really, I just wanted to say that I love kdramas, I've finished Kim Sam Soon and started on Personal Taste, and if anyone wants to take me to Korea, I'd only be too happy to go.
seraphcelene: (geum jan di by espirit_serein)
As my obsession with kdramas continues, my plans to watch My Name is Kim Sam Soon have been thwarted by SBS LA18. Last week they started airing Will it Snow for Christmas? It's not readily available for stream since it is still airing in Korea, so I decided to go ahead and watch it on my TV despite my general dislike for the subbing on LA18.

I have watched a total of four full kdramas over the last few months: Lure of Wife, 1st Shop of Coffee Prince, You're Beautiful and Boys Over Flowers. I'm currently watching Smile, Honey and Will it Snow for Christmas? I had a side moment which I need to finish involving Coffee Prince's Gong Yoo, and dipped my toes into the first four episodes of One Fine Day. Some things I have watched on TV, some streaming online. In the case of You're Beautiful, I did both. What I've learned is that SBS LA18 kinda sucks with the subbing. Watching Lure of Wife, my first kdrama, there were a lot of things that I missed due to my unfamiliarity with Korean. I watched one episode with a friend who is a native Korean speaker and she pointed out to me that the translations were inaccurate. What I gathered from talking to her about the translation and the spoken dialogue is that LA18 was translating into the simplest terms and concepts and that was not always the most accurate. My next kdrama, 1st Shop of Coffee Prince, I watched streaming on That's where I began to recognize the discrepancies in subbing. Mysoju doesn't host streams, so subbing can vary from episode to episode depending on the host location and who did the translations. The same is true for watching episodes on You Tube. I would go through the first few minutes of various sub versions until I found one that I liked, both in presentation of text on frame (font, color, timing) and actual language translation (which is kind of arbitrary, when I think about it, since I don't speak Korean). Once I find something I like, I try to stick to that user's content.

Of course, no sub is created equal. Depending on the subber and the amount of time invested, experience, fluency, etc, the subs are better or worse. I've attempted to watch dramas where the timing was so poorly done that I couldn't actually read the text before it flashed out of frame. I assumed that on TV they would be better, but apparently not. So far, Written in the Heavens Subbing Squad (WITHS2), a fansub group, do some of the best subbing that I've seen. Here are the differences I've noticed:

1. WITHS2 doesn't translate the untranslatable. Certain words don't have verbatim translations. Colloquialisms and slang, for example are sometimes left as is and an additional line of text, usually at the top of the frame rather than the bottom, is included with the dialogue to explain the word, phrase or concept. Explanatory text can also be included to explain aphorisms or other cultural references that, although they are translated, do not have readily accessible associations or meanings to a non-Korean audience.

2. LA18 omits honorifics and kinship terms. The use of kinship terms and honorifics between characters says alot about their relationship both personally and socially. English equivalents are very thin on the ground and, besides, Korean usage is more complex. My preferred subs leave those usages in tact. In the LA18 translations, first names are substituted.

3. Anglicizing name order. Korean names consist of the Family name followed by the Given Name, in that order. The given name is made up of a generational name followed by a secondary, distinct syllable (a sort of personal name, as I understand it). For example, in You're Beautiful, the lead female is named Go Mi Nyu. Her twin brother who she spends most of the series impersonating is Go Mi Nam. Of course LA18 insists on flipping the order and running the syllables of the given name together. So that Go Mi Nam becomes Minam Go. I take offense to the Anglicization because it seems an arbitrary and unnecessary change. It's not difficult to understand that in the Korean culture names are written "This Way" and not "That Way". Even if you're not willing to do the leg work and learn why.

3. LA18 doesn't translate written text. That is REALLY annoying. Text messages, notes, names on cellphones, among other things, are never translated unless there is a voiceover. These things can be a really important part of the story, so missing out on the translations present unnecessary gaps in the narrative.

4. Sometimes the translation just doesn't make sense. Literally, the translation is nonsense.

There is always a disconnect between listening to the dialogue and reading translations. As they say, all translators are traitors, and there are many elements to consider when translating. However, I find that the loss of specific language and over simplification of concepts detrimental to my understanding of the narrative. Researching elements that I don't understand or that are not translated broadens my understanding and ultimate appreciation of the drama and the culture it derives from. It can only enrich the experience. There is also, at least for me, the aural disruption that comes with reading one thing and hearing something else. Initially, it didn't register, but as I've become more familiar with the cadences in the spoken language, certain adjustments become very obvious. Perhaps if I had never been introduced to the words, their meanings and proper usages ... but hearing oppa and reading Ganjin always throws me for a loop. Not that I'm going to learn Korean by watching kdramas.

I also believe that there is a certain amount of work perpetrated by the audience that should go into consuming foreign material. Part of enjoying unfamiliar media is learning about it. In the case of kdramas that involves a little bit of research on naming practices, and usage of honorifics and kinship terms, for example. Accessing another culture's art should, I think, include accessing specifics about the culture. Otherwise, how do you really *get* it? How do you ever being to grasp the nuance and depth of the narrative? Geum Jan Di refusing to call Gu Jun Pyu "oppa" or "sunbae" and insisting on calling him by his full name means something. Go Eun Chan calling Choi Han Kyul "hyung", but never calling Choi Han Seung anything besides "ahjusshi" really means something outside of the verbatim translations. Watching a character being invited to call another character "unni" or "noona" are very specific and impact what we understand about the relationships developing on screen.

Although, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the legitimacy of fansubs, I prefer them because they seem to be much more representative of the heart of what I am watching. I don't watch kdramas looking for an Americanized/anglicized version of a Korean story. I get enough of that in the American film industry (i.e. Ju-On becoming The Grudge, Bruders becoming Brothers, Americanized versions of Torchwood and The Office). What I am looking for is a good story.

I suppose that, in the end, I would like LA18 to be a little more careful in their translations, and to remain more faithful to the source material. Maybe I should be writing a letter to someone.


seraphcelene: (Default)

August 2016



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