Category Archives: KDrama

楊柳青青江水平 聞郎江上唱歌聲 東邊日出西邊雨 道是無晴卻有晴 — Curio Serand (@CurioSerandC) January 15, 2017

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王維 Wang Wei (701-761) 終南別業 (Zhongnan Mountain Retreat)

中岁颇好道,晚家南山陲。 兴来每独往,胜事空自知。 行到水穷处,坐看云起时。 偶然值林叟,谈笑无还期。 WANG WEI (699-761) “Zhongnan Mountain Retreat” “Zhongnan Mountain Retreat,” by Wang Wei In my middle years I came to much love the Way and late made my home by South Mountain’s edge. When the mood comes upon me, I go off alone, and have glorious moments all to myself. I walk to the point where a stream ends, and sitting, watch when the clouds rise. By chance I … Continue reading

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Le faussaire de Paris


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Sea of Drama! New Game, New Name

안녕하세요! 你好! SPQ&R, aka, Zamani Inkwell is changing it’s name! Once upon a time, I wrote mostly about KDrama and for a while, I believed that was all I would write about here. This year, however, I discovered three beautiful CDrama offerings and started drafting posts about them. I was so smitten that I even started to learn Chinese so the site started getting populated with the lyrics to the Chinese songs I liked … Continue reading

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风起时 《主题曲 琅琊榜》MV 胡歌 (Hu Ge)

风起时 – 胡歌 When Wind Blows – Hu Ge 变幻 风云几卷 乱世起惊澜 血仍殷 何人心念 烈火清平愿 Changes and stories chronicle the pages Trouble time stirring fears Blood still flows but no one cares Strong fire burns off lifelong hopes 慧剑 借别红颜 无意续余年 帝阙巍 豪气仍在 冰心誓 破长夜天 Sword is given away to her I have no wish for long life Emperor’s palace is towering and mighty Crystal clear vows lit the night 昔年朱弓 壁上空悬 … Continue reading

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红颜旧 《琅琊榜》 MV 刘涛 (Liu Tao)

红颜旧 – 刘涛 Faded Beauty – Liu Tao 西风夜渡寒山雨 家国依稀残梦里 思君不见倍思君 别离难忍忍别离 In a night of western wind and cold mountain rain I dream of home country I especially miss you who I have not seen Separation is hard but we endure it 狼烟烽火何时休 成王败寇尽东流 蜡炬已残泪难干 江山未老红颜旧 When will the war end And the victors and losers cease to matter Time draws near yet tears persist The world is new but the … Continue reading

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赤血长殷 《琅琊榜》 MV 胡歌 刘涛 (Hu Ge, Liu Tao)

赤血长殷 – 王凯 Loyal Blood Forever Runs Red – Wang Kai 青砖黛瓦 故景如旧 草木无情 不解凡忧 当时烽火骤焚尽几多残留 一袭白衣祭故人 陈情此时休 The house looked the same But nature mercilessly had taken its course The fire that destroyed all left little behind He dressed in funeral clothes to remember the dead 霁月清风 琅琊榜首 谁记昔年 策马风流 十载倏忽过 几回魂梦旧游 又多少冤魂织就 那缓带轻裘 Moon appeared, wind blew, he who ranked first on Lang Ya Bang Who still remembers he rode … Continue reading

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Ikseongwan 익선관

For a long time I wondered why the bulbous hat worn in the Joseon court had what appeared to be Cicada wings in the back. Now I know! Thank you Arirang TV!

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千字文 (Qiānzìwén) Daily lessons

  Learning Tools 千字文 (Qiānzìwén) 1000 characters with Pinyin   千字文 (Qiānzìwén) 250 lines with Pinyin   千字文 (125 verses & Pinyin & Translation)

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The Village Blacksmith

Another poem about a forger at his forge… and naturally, my mind turns to the legend of Pythagoras hearing the harmony of the spheres in the smithy’s ringing anvils… Surely the world is full of beautiful things just waiting to be celebrated! Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 1807–1882 Under a spreading chestnut-tree The village smithy stands; The smith, a mighty man is he, With large and sinewy hands; And the muscles of his brawny arms Are strong as iron bands. His hair is crisp, and black, and long, His face is like the tan; His brow is wet with honest sweat, He earns whate’er he can, And looks the whole world in the face, For he owes not any man. Week in, week out, from morn till night, You can hear his bellows blow; You can hear him swing his heavy sledge, With measured beat and slow, Like a sexton ringing the village bell, When the evening sun is low. And children coming home from school Look in at the open door; They love to see the flaming forge, And hear the bellows roar, And catch the burning sparks that fly Like chaff from a threshing-floor. He goes on Sunday to the church, And sits among his boys; … Continue reading

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As far as I can see, this poem defies translation for a very simple reason: the word “fingidor” which, in Portuguese means something akin to “one who feigns or forges; a pretender; a forger.” On the surface it seems clear enough, especially since all the apparent definitions and translations agree on the duplicity of the poet. However, if you look at the root word. “fingir” and its etymology in Latin “fingere,” a … Continue reading

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— “제비꽃” — ( 제비꽃) 내가 처음 너를 만났을 때 너는 작은 소녀였고 머리엔 제비꽃 너는 웃으며 내게 말했지 아주 멀리 새처럼 날으고 싶어 내가 다시 너를 만났을 때 너는 많이 야위였고 이마엔 땀방울 너는 웃으며 내게 말했지 아주 작은 일에도 눈물이 나와 내가 마지막 너를 보았을 때 너는 아주 평화롭고 창 너머 먼 눈길 너는 웃으며 내게 말했지 아주 한밤중에도 깨어 있고 싶어 — “Violet” — (Jo Dong Jin ) When … Continue reading

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자장가 – 신돈

신돈 – 자장가 어젯밤에 바라본 달님이 엄마얼굴 닮아서 오늘 밤도 하늘을 보지만 구름속에 가려져 작사 : 김태윤 작곡 : 노형우 ,황상준 편곡 : 노형우 Shin Don – Lullaby Last night the moon shone Recalling a mother’s face Tonight we see the sky Shrouded in the clouds Lyrics: Kim Tae-Yoon Music: Noh Hyeong-Woo, Hwang Sang Jun Arrangement: Noh Hyeong-Woo

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Spotlight: Park Min Young

Thanks to Healer, I finally get to discover Park Min Young: an actor so talented in inhabiting her roles that it is only now that I realize how often I have seen and thoroughly enjoyed her performances in a variety of kdramas over the past few years. Say hello, yorobun, to Park Min Young of Ja Myung Go, City Hunter, New Leaf, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, and now Healer. She is also in Unstoppable High Kick and Dr. Jin, among others, but … Continue reading

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The Perfection of 운명처럼 널 사랑해 (Fated to Love You)

School of Comedy After the finale of that most enchanting of romantic comedies, 운명처럼 널 사랑해 (Fated to Love You), I found myself, like many fellow aficionados who had been absorbed in the story of Lee Geon and Kim Mi Yeong, uninterested in watching any other productions despite KDrama’s abundant offerings, including titles on my “to watch” list. I remember something like this happening once before when, after my initial introduction to, and frenzied consumption of KDrama, my appetite for … Continue reading

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Love in 운명처럼 널 사랑해 (Fated to Love You)

Every once in a blue moon something comes along that has you so entranced, so engaged, so… moved… that it leaves you at a loss to comprehend just what is happening to you. As you try to make sense of it, it sparkles and shines with every gesture. Words issuing from it are musical pearls of poetic truth that imbue the very air with a richness never before imaginable to your dopamine-saturated mind. Thus … Continue reading

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Pragmatic Altruism vs. Noble Idiocy in 운명처럼 널 사랑해 (Fated to Love You)

I have long wanted to examine pragmatic altruism in KDrama narratives, a trope which exemplifies certain Confucian ethical tenets, yet is repeatedly deprecated as “noble idiocy” at interweb oases where KDrama aficionados gather, including DramaBeans, the go-to resource for KDrama news, recaps, and commentary. Finally compelled by this summer’s revelatory 운명처럼 널 사랑해 (Fated to Love You), a romantic comedy at once loud and subtle, playful, sly, culturally erudite and deeply moving –whether in mirth or in woe– … Continue reading

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When words r jjust not enough…

…to accurately describe 운명처럼 널 사랑해 (Fated to Love You)…

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궁중잔혹사 – 꽃들의 전쟁 (Cruel Palace – War of Flowers)

Greed, betrayal, vengeance — all this and the casual brutality wrought in their service — are at the raw, bloody heart of 궁중잔혹사 – 꽃들의 전쟁 (Cruel Palace: War of the Flowers), where a veritable Pandemonium of malignant narcissists —essentially functional psychopaths, the lot of them!— has the run of King Injo of Joseon’s court. Joseon era sageuk are generally replete with a particularly acrid flavor of palace intrigue, but none more so than those … Continue reading

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김수한무 거북이와 두루미 (A Fable)

More fun from Secret Garden “김수한무 거북이와 두루미 삼천갑자 동방삭 치치카포 사리사리센타 워리워리 세브리깡 무두셀라 구름이 허리케인 담벼락 서생원에 고양이 바둑이는 돌돌이“. So the story goes: A long, long time ago, a man who was descended from a long line of only sons per generation became father to a baby boy. So he consulted a name-specialist to give his only son a name symbolic of a long life. But no matter what the name-specialist suggested, … Continue reading

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추락: 임재범

추락: 임재범 /Im Jae-bum 어둠이 느껴져 난 그래서 편한걸 저 바람을 재워 찬 기운이 날 깨워 제발 깨지마 어차피 난 다시 떨어질 테니까 아무리 걸어도 눈 뜨면 제자리야 끝이다 서 보면 또 다시 처음이야 시간은 내 목을 죄이며 쫓아오고 그러니 이렇게 /// 어쩜 더 높은 곳으로 올라야 했나 그만큼 더욱더 깊숙히 묻혀질 테니까 기어서라도 난 살아내려고 했어 내 모든 열정이 언제나 무시돼도 날 위로해 주며 또 살아내려 했어 난 그걸 후회해 /// … Continue reading

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얼 굴 (Face)

— “얼굴” — 작사: 심봉선 작곡: 신귀복 동그라미 그리려다 무심코 그린 얼굴 내마음 따라 피어나던 하얀 그때 꿈을 풀잎들에 이슬처럼 빛나던 눈동자 동그랗게 동그랗게 맴돌다 가는 얼굴 동그라미 그리려다 무심코 그린 얼굴 무지개 따라 올라갔던 오색빛 하늘 아래 구름속에 나비처럼 날으던 지난 날 동그랗게 동그랗게 맴돌곤 하는 얼굴     — “Face” — Lyrics: Shim Bong Seon Music: Shin Kwi Bok The face I drew unwittingly while making a circle Like the white dream of … Continue reading

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시크릿 가든 (Secret Garden)

I had no idea Binnie was such a fantastic singer! 1) 그 남자 (That Man) – Hyeon Bin 한 남자가 그대를 사랑합니다 그 남자는 열심히 사랑합니다 매일 그림자처럼 그대를 따라 다니며 그 남자는 웃으며 울고 있어요 얼마나 얼마나 더 너를 이렇게 바라만 보며 혼자 이 바람같은 사랑 이 거지같은 사랑 계속해야 니가 나를 사랑하겠니 조금만 가까이 와 조금만 한 발 다가가면 두 발 도망가는 널 사랑하는 날 지금도 옆에 있어 그 남잔 … Continue reading

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성균관 스캔들 – ’tis not poetry

Without love for the people and concerns for the nation, ’tis not poetry. Without aching for our era and outrage at the world, ’tis not poetry. Without striving for good and guarding against evil, this too, is not poetry. attr. Jeong Yak Yong (Sungkyunkwan Scandal)

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풀 꽃 (Grass Flower)

  풀 꽃-  나태주 자세히 보아야 예쁘다 오래 보아야 사랑스럽다 너도 그렇다 ________ Grass Flower  by Na Taeju You have to look closely to see its loveliness You have to gaze for a long time to discover that it is lovable You are just like that. Courtesy  학교 2013 (School 2013) See also: Love in 운명처럼 널 사랑해 (Fated to Love You)

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And now this, from 내 이름은 김삼순 (My Lovely Sam Soon): 아름다운사람 서유석 작사 : 서유석 작곡 : 서유석 편곡 : 서유석 장난감을 받고서 그것을 바라보고 얼싸안고 기어이 부숴버리는 내일이면 벌써 그를 준 사람조차 잊어버리는 아이처럼 오 오오오 오 오 오오오 오 오 오오오 오 아름다운 나의 사람아~ 당신은 내가 드린 내마음을 고운 장난감처럼 조그만 손으로 장난하고 내마음이 고민에 잠겨있는 돌보지않는 나의 여인아 나의 사람아 오 오오오 오 아름다운 나의 사람아   … Continue reading

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주몽 (Jumong)

  “Trust is more important than life. Kill them all!” So declares Soseono (소서노) with admirable equanimity on her first outing as the leader of the trade troop owned by Yeontabal (연타발), Chief of Keru and Leader of the Jolbon (졸본) confederacy. Soseono is destined to inherit the troop from her father and this is her first opportunity to prove her mettle as a trader and to freely wield her authority as the troop leader. … Continue reading

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49일: An Exploration of Empathy

“There is a pain that you cannot truly understand until you have experienced it yourself…” So runs the dominant theme in the beautiful, unexpectedly humorous, yet haunting  49 Days featuring the exquisite Lee Yo Won and the blithe Nam Gyu Ri. Indeed, it is empathy, or the lack thereof, that is at the core of each of the stories woven together to create the tapestry that is 49 Days. It is through empathy that the … Continue reading

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태양은 가득히 (The Full Sun)

The surprisingly engaging yet low key 태양은 가득히 (The Full Sun) has proven itself the perfectly satisfying close to an insanely packed semester. The misleading DramaFever title, Beyond the Clouds, unfortunately suggests the kind of supernatural sentimentalism and maudlin in which Stairway to Heaven and some of the Four Seasons dramas are usually awash. Thankfully  태양은 가득히 (The Full Sun) is a much better story told in a brisk yet leisurely set of 16 chapters with just the right degree of dramatic momentum. Once you finish the … Continue reading

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밀회 (Milhwe)

  I cannot believe it…! I just let myself get roped into a new drama live… arghhh! Oh, who am I kidding! I could have kept myself from falling into this trap. But I saw “piano prodigy” and saw Kim Hee Ae (recent of Midas), and then saw JTBC who last brought us Jeong Kyeong Ho’s brilliant 무정도시 (Heartless City) and I thought, “hmm, I wonder…?” 10 minutes in and I love it. Three minutes … Continue reading

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고백 – 정선연 … just ’cause …

고백 – 정선연 내가 원한 게 없다면 그건 나의 거짓말 내겐 전부인 그댈 갖는 게 나의 소망인데 // 모두 잘못이라 해도 그대 날 받아주오 나의 욕심이 그댈 힘들게 하지 않는다면 날.. 바람 가득한 바닷가 고독.. 멈출 수 가 없는 운명이 우릴 기다리고 있는 걸 차마 느끼기 전에 나 그댈 사랑하게 되었단 고백.. 나를 받아주오 // 그대의 마음에 슬픔이 내릴 때 나 두 손에 그댈 향한 내 사랑을 모든 것을 나당신께 드릴께 그대 … Continue reading

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동이 (Dong Yi)

What a discovery! Watching 동이 (Dong Yi) is like unwrapping a present you received a long time ago and decided to open later but then ended up neglecting to open because “later” never came and you soon forgot about it. And then one day you discover the still-wrapped package in the top shelf of the coat closet and  take it down and start opening it out of idle curiosity, absent any expectations, only … Continue reading

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선덕여왕 (The Great Queen Seon Deok)

“Chess” may be the word best suited to conveying the drama of open-faced intrigue and gamesmanship that is 선덕여왕 (The Great Queen Seon Deok). The war between Princess Deokman (the future Queen Seon Deok) and the formidable Mi Shil for control of Silla is the stuff of epic. And perhaps because our contenders are both women, heroic prowess is here not framed in terms of brute force and naked aggression, but rather through strategic craft … Continue reading

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황금의 제국 (Empire of Gold)…

Among all the sins a man might commit, betrayal – a species of fraud – ranks among the most ethically abhorrent. The key to understanding the gravity of the sin of betrayal, and the crime of fraud, is the fundamental role of trust in the organization, function and governance of society. In Aristotle’s model of the ethical spectrum whereby human relationships range from the primarily transactional (business and trade) to the largely … Continue reading

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I ♡ 무정도시 (Heartless City)… truly… sadly… deeply…

…by the end of the first chapter I could already tell that things are not going to end well for our protagonist. When we first meet him, it is the middle of the night in Seoul and Jeong Shi Hyeon is standing on the roof of a tall, tall building from which an undercover police officer who suspected he had been made has apparently just plummeted to his death in the street below. … Continue reading

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Notes on 자명고 (Ja Myung Go)

There is so much to say about Ja Myung Go, the first of which must be that it is beautifully complex… and also rather narratively intricate at the beginning. The complexity is wonderful: it is in the characters, in the political intrigue, in the lost history of Naklang, in the legend of Prince Hodong’s tragic love(s). But the initial narrative intricacy can be disorienting, especially since the significance of what happens in the … Continue reading

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Ahn Seok-Hwan (안석환) – The (not)-Everyman Extraordinaire!

To celebrate the end of my first year as a KDrama aficionado, I’ve put together a little tribute to Ahn Seok-Hwan, that bundle of awesome that comes wrapped in a different package in every – and I do mean every other (well, almost) KDrama I’ve seen. He is that guy – you know, the character actor who seems to appear in every drama you watch, is always very present, very different, yet so, so familiar that it … Continue reading

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Boys Over Flowers, or “The Education of Gu Jun Pyo : a Bildungsroman”

Recently, I stumbled upon Boys Over Flowers (꽃보다 남자), the second kdrama series I ever saw nearly a year ago, and found myself watching it all over again! Had you asked me a few weeks earlier, I would have declared myself no longer compelled to revisit the tale of Jan Di’s misadventures among the spoilt rich. Don’t get me wrong: I greatly enjoyed it the first time around. I remember breezing through each episode … Continue reading

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Teuroteu Tourchsong Tribute: 심수봉 – 사랑밖엔 난 몰라!

Perhaps nothing inspires my inner Tourchsong Crooner like the teuroteu classic “I Know Nothing But Love” (사랑밖엔 난 몰라) by Shim Soo Bong (심수봉). I first heard it nearly a year ago in the absurdly addictive kdrama Boys Over Flowers and was immediately hooked. So it was not long before a casual search of the interwebs yielded a bumper crop of YouTube videos of several versions of the song performed by the teuroteu legend herself as well as … Continue reading

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Notes on 근초고왕 (King Geunchogo)

Ah! What a relief – an historical saga that feels like an historical saga! After the foamy travesty that was Kim Soo Ro and the less-than-solid despite its beauty Ja Myung Go, it is refreshing to once again happen upon a Goguryeo-era sageuk drama that has some of the appealing traits of Jumong. It is becoming increasingly clear to me as I watch this that among the elements that makes Jumong so engaging is the spot on mix of political … Continue reading

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At Last! Time Travel Done Right!

It was purely on a whim that I started watching  Nine: Nine Time Travels  (나인: 아홉번의 시간여행), and all I can say is YES! As in, FINALLY! — a time travel story that spends most of its energy broaching topics closely pertinent to the question of time and also near and dear to my heart — namely: Free Will vs. Predestination; Counterfactuals and Causality; the simultaneity of the present in all instances; and the progressive/sequential nature of the … Continue reading

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Liebster Award!

  So I just got through designating my own set of arbitrary awards for “Must See” KDrama  when I got this lovely message from Maybee at dramababble telling me that she had nominated me for a Liebster Award. Please check out her fantastic blog and read her own Liebster Award entry! First, let me just say – “Oh, what an honor! I would like to thank my agent, my manager, my personal assistant, my … Continue reading

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Series or Feature Film? Hwang Jin Yi and Shin Yun Bok, a Case Study.

who tells the better story? – who tells the story better? It’s one thing to watch two kdrama adaptations of the same story, like MBC’s  The Return of Iljimae and SBS’s  Iljimae. It’s quite another to have at your disposal feature film interpretations of stories already elaborated in full length dramas as happens with two artistic geniuses of the Joseon era whose lives are dramatized in the television series Hwang Jin Yi and Painter of … Continue reading

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Playing Favorites… the KDrama and Film ‘Must See’ List

Long overdue is the time to tip the nib of my (virtual) pen to those dramas and feature films to which I have been awarding my highest rating, three stars.  If you wish to see a comprehensive list of titles I’ve explored since setting off on this adventure, you may find it in “Curio in KDramaland… (or, Through the Sageuk Lens)“. You will also find the key to the asterisk and numeric annotation. … Continue reading

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Curio in KDramaland… (or, Through the Sageuk Lens)

I have been contemplating the virtues of the well made sageuk and what its persistent appeal to me (and maybe even to other viewers) might mean. Surely, something… It turns out that while I apparently have watched only one third as many sageuks as contemporary fictions (from comedies to melodramas and everything in between), I am more disposed to want to collect historical dramas than I am contemporary fictions. When it comes … Continue reading

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Notes on 돌아온 일지매 (The Return of Iljimae)

Chapters 1-2 Okay… the first adjectives that come to mind during episode 1 and most of 2: “weird” and then “bizarre” and then “camp.” I barely made it past the first (structurally very rocky and disjointed, hyper-didactic, excessively-yet-not-quite-adequately-expositional) episode… Were it not for the fact that I have committed to following this drama through, especially since I enjoyed SBS’s Iljimae so much, I would have had a very difficult time moving on to episode … Continue reading

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일지매 (Iljimae) – birth of a hero…

Just finished watching Iljimae and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I went in expecting little more than a two-dimensional comic book hero in a campy fusion sageuk. Instead I got a light-hearted yet touching folk-hero novel that is amusing and moving — with plenty a wink and a nod yet full of pathos as well. And tropes, tropes and more tropes… yet sooo much fun to watch as the story of Lee Joon Gi’s Iljimae … Continue reading

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그 겨울, 바람이 분다 (That Winter, the Wind Blows)

Betsy Hp over at Creating Volumes posed a curious question in her recent notes about That Winter, the Wind Blows (그 겨울, 바람이 분다), a drama that follows the vicissitudes of Oh Soo’s oh-so-complicated life. Our hero is a con-man — a playboy, a gambler and a smart ass — and he is posing as the long lost brother of the blind, orphaned heiress to a mega-fortune. If he can pull off the … Continue reading

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Island in the stream…

The summer after I received my diploma in Romance Languages and Literatures and struck out into the world as a Medievalist, I happened upon I know-not-what Korean Drama on hulu and I could not take my eyes off the 16-episode tale so woeful that it wrung from me every last tear my lacrimal glands could produce, leaving me quite spent. Then I discovered DramaFever and for six months after that I drank … Continue reading

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