ENG 355: Virtual Museum Exhibitions and Catalogues

A Night in Harlem

Group 1: Delia Lloyd, Chelsea Yarborough, Christopher Corr, Kathryn

Egyptian Orientalism in the Harlem Renaissance

Group 2: Joshua Sotomayor, Derrick Burnett, Brittany Barbieri, Jaime Metellus

Respectable Vs. Crude: The Balancing Act of the Harlem Renaissance

Group 3: Kuylain Howard, Rob Shapiro, Alex Quinn, Lilly Deacon

Southern Roots

Group 4: Rachel Bowden, Kyle Wons, Hunter Ertel, Carolyn Shaeffer

Culture and Intellect in the Harlem Renaissance

Group 5: James Geiger, Natasha Langsdorf, Arron Jones-Williams, Neima Abdulahi

Boys Over Flowers: Episode 5

I. Love. This. Episode.

I feel like I need to confess something first, before I start talking about the episode itself. For those of you who don’t know me (Nabi), there are two things that I like my male Korean idols to do: have pyrotechnics (read “fire”) in their K-Pop performances, and hit and/or throw things in their videos and dramas. My best explanation for why I love it when these things happen is that I consider them to be very manly things. If a dude gets angry, I expect him to hit or throw something. Hitting or throwing something at another person is a totally different thing, and is only approved of on a case-by-case basis. For example, punching a best friend who snuck around with your girlfriend behind your back is totally cool by me, but punching an old lady on the street for no good reason…not so much. And the fire thing, well, trust me I am NOT a pyro! I do not like to set things on fire, I just really enjoy when fire is present as a special effect.

Why is that important? Because my MAN Jun Pyo kicks some serious butt in this episode, and I LOVE IT. Jan Di is getting torn up by the school kids – some are throwing waterballoons, she’s already been jacked up from the bicycle accident they cause (oh, and her bike is still on fire), and some psycho with a fire extinguisher is using it on HER, instead of on the FIRE. They’re doing this because they think Jan Di went and cheated on Jun Pyo with some dude and now he must hate her, right?


You hear someone yell “SCREW OFF!” and in comes Jun Pyo. He starts throwing punches! He takes one kid’s waterballoon and smacks him in the head with it! He pushes a lot of people! AND HE HITS PSYCHO KID IN THE STOMACH WITH THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER!!!

It gets better.

He goes up to Jan Di, who at this point is semi-conscious on the ground, bleeding everywhere, feeling hopeless because her white knight (Ji Hoo) wasn’t there to save her this time and she certianly didn’t think that Jun Pyo would come back for her. He hugs her to him, tells her that he’s sorry, and lifts her up to carry her to safety. He tells her that he believes her when she says she’s innocent, and she starts to cry. He takes her to his house and helps clean her up, gives her some pajamas and a comfy bed, tends to her wounds some more, and gives her a kiss on the head as a “goodnight.”

I love Jun Pyo. But you already knew this, right? ^^;

So, on to the episode! This one really had two parts to it. Part One is all about the Frenemy, Min Ji. Min Ji is Jan Di’s “best friend” at Shinhwa Academy, and WAY back in Episode 1, she was the girl who accidentally dropped her ice cream on Jun Pyo’s shoe. In the last episode, she proved that she was a frenemy by setting Jan Di up with that Ji Hoo look-alike in the nightclub. In this episode, we get the background story for why she did what she did.

As it so happens, Min Ji went to kindergarten with the F4, and she had a huge, adorable, little-girl crush on Jun Pyo. In the flashback, you see her drawing in her sketchbook with crayons, and it’s a picture of her and Jun Pyo, holding hands. Little Jun Pyo decides to walk to the other side of the playground, and is suddenly stopped by his old nemesis: a bug. He starts ducking and jerking around saying “Go away!” and Little Min Ji runs over to him and uses her sketchbook to shoo the fiend away. She is SO EXCITED to be near him at this point because they are “alone” and she has her drawing clearly held up for him to see. His reaction? He throws the sketchbook on the ground, stomps on it (effectively stomping on her heart), pushes her so that she falls on the ground, and tells her that she’s dumb for thinking she could be with him (Remember, this is Rich Kid Kindergarten, so they are more than aware of their status and their duty to marry someone of equal status). IT’S JUN PYO. HE DOESN’T DO “FEELINGS”! His response to both his and others’ feelings is to squash them and run away. So, that’s what he does.

Little Min Ji cries and cries and cries. But there’s something I haven’t told you yet: she was “ugly” as a child. Here’s a picture of Lee Minho (aka Jun Pyo) with the girl who plays Little Min Ji: 

I LOVE THIS PICTURE! Doesn’t it make you sad to think that this is what “ugly” means in K Drama Land?! So now it gets personal. It’s not just that Little Jun Pyo rejects Little Min Ji, but he tells her to her face that the reason why he doesn’t like her is because she is ugly. He even calls her an “ugly pumpkin.” Remember: Little boy with terrible communication skills.

Min Ji is a little girl with a tender heart that’s easily broken and thus becomes a breeding ground for bitterness and obsession. Which is exactly what happens. A few years later, she and her family move to Germany, and she begins a series of plastic surgery procedures, a few every 2 years, in order to become “beautiful” for Jun Pyo. As a girl from a rich family, her parents are often absent and her servants could probably care less about her. On top of that, she is in a foreign country surrounded by people she doesn’t know, and who don’t know her. AND, she’s undergoing slow transformation from plastic surgery, which means that she needs a LOT of recovery time. So what does she do while she’s in Germany? She sits in her room and thinks about that day when Jun Pyo crushed her heart. She sits and thinks about how she is “ugly” but soon she will be “beautiful” and then Jun Pyo will tell her that he likes her and everything will be perfect.

So, she comes back, enters into Shinhwa high school, and prepares for the day when she will see Jun Pyo and he will fall madly in love with her beauty. Except that her new (and only) friend, Jan Di, is being pursued by Jun Pyo! HOW UNFAIR! Min Ji stewed in hurt and insecurity for so many years, endured so much pain with plastic surgery, and had such strong dreams of a perfect fariytale ending for her Ugly Duckling story, that Jan Di suddenly became a roadblock in her otherwise perfect plan. Thus, she had to be removed from Jun Pyo’s life. All those years of bitterness and pain made Min Ji a bitter and scheming sort of girl, so that’s why she arranged such an elaborate attack on Jan Di’s integrity, instead of just, you know, TALKING TO HER FRIEND AND TELLING HER WHAT’S GOING ON! Jeez.

I really wanted to explain all of that because, at least to me, this is a complex, incredibly human situation. Personal story time! I was a dumpy kid for most of my childhood, and I was always the tallest and often one of the heaviest kid in my class until about 9th grade (that part was not my fault, boys grow so slowly and I LOVED to brag about how I was taller than they were). So there’s that issue that I can personally relate to. On top of that, though, MY heart was stomped on by a kid in my 2nd grade class. Bottom line: if you have a tender heart, do not give a 2nd grade boy a love letter, because he will read it out loud to the class, and everyone will laugh at you. Yes, this actually happened to me. And people wonder why I don’t date…

Back to the episode. Min Ji gets to confront Jun Pyo when Thuglife (Frick and Frack) take her to his house to explain why she faked the photos of Jan Di. Min Ji asks Jun Pyo, “Am I beautiful, now?” Again, another human question! She starts to cry and scream “Say that you like me! Say you like Min Ji! Say it!” That’s all she’s wanted her entire life. Everything has been filled with pain and bitterness since that day, and she’s become obsessed with getting closure on it by finally getting some sort of acknowledgment from Jun Pyo! Now, Jun Pyo is MY MAN, and I love him a lot, but his reaction to her is simply cruel. He tells her that he doesn’t remember that incident, but that he’s sorry it caused her so much pain that she felt like she had to change so dramatically. He does one final slap in the face by saying that at least when she was little she had a beautiful heart and soul, and leaves her crying on his expensive marble floor, empty, broken, and alone.

The next day, Thuglife have put up Min Ji’s before and after photos and spread the story around school (I think they did that, at least, I’m not totally sure because you know that Thuglife doesn’t leave traces of their handiwork). All the students become Jan Di’s best friend…again…and show her the pictures flashing on the plasma screen in the cafeteria. They start to make snide comments about Min Ji and how ugly she was and how mean she was to poor Jan Di. Uh, hello? Wasn’t it just YESTERDAY that you torched her bike and sent her crashing? Min Ji walks into the cafeteria just as one of the girls says “If I was that ugly, I would have committed suicide a long time ago!”

And this is when I love Jan Di. Jan Di doesn’t know that Min Ji is there, so this is completely on her own. Jan Di steps in front of the plasma screen and blocks the pictures. Then she says that everyone in that room has probably had plastic surgery, and that they had plastic surgery when they didn’t need it simply because they wanted to become even MORE beautiful than they already were. “So,” Jan Di asks them, “is it really so horrible that an ugly person uses plastic surgery to become beautiful, too?” LOVE THIS. Jan Di has just defended Min Ji from all of the Plastics when she would have been well within her rights to let her be slandered. Jan Di starts to walk away from the cafeteria and sees Min Ji. Get ready for some more Jan Di love. This is how the scene goes:

Min Ji: I won’t beg you for forgiveness…

Jan Di: *SLAPS HER IN THE FACE, not too hard, though.*

Min Ji: *recovers* and I won’t apologize to you.

Jan Di: *SLAPS HER IN THE FACE, HARD.* I will never forgive you for what you have done.

I LOVED THIS MOMENT! I loved it because while she defended Min Ji from the Plastics, she also didn’t go all love-and-peace-and-sparkles-and-butterflies and completely forgive her for everything she’s done. Min Ji has ruined their friendship, and Jan Di will not ignore that fact. Everything ends with Min Ji leaving a stuffed lamb on Jan Di’s desk, with a message in it about how she was thankful to have her as a friend, that she really liked her, and sings a child-like friendship song. You can tell in Min Ji’s recording that she’s crying, and Jan Di begins to cry too. What this means to me is that their friendship was real and important for both of them, and both of them are going to mourn what they have lost. Hasn’t everyone experienced this kind of sadness?! So many of the moments are just so real in this K Drama! That part, at least, I prefer over the manga – this stuff is believable because it is done in a real way. Mostly.

I know, I know, this post is super long and I haven’t even gotten to PART TWO. Calm down. I’m going to leave Part Two to CeeFu. While I have many, many, MANY things in Part Two that I love (LIKE THE ENDING! Yes, I’d like some of THAT for MY main course, thank you very much!!!!) I wanted to write about Part One because it was so personal for me to watch. So far, I’m totally digging this K Drama! It’s my first one, by the way, and I just may become addicted if there are more out there like this one! 😀

Boys Over Flowers: Episode 4

I have so much love for this episode! It’s packed full of treats and SO much happens. A lot happens in every episode, but I guess that’s what you get when you have episodes that are over an hour long.

Let’s talk about Frick and Frack first: THEY ARE SO THUGLIFE. I love that they ‘tried’ to protect Jan Di (via her friend, who I also loved because she didn’t fall for Frick’s overwhelmingly cute smile!) and then they went about trying to find who was really responsible for the scandal pictures! I know that this was more for Jun Pyo’s sake, but still. At first I was confused as to why Frick was suddenly playing the saxophone and Frack was dancing with the ladies, but then when the scene flashed to a back alley where the club owner (?) was getting beat up, it all made sense – why dirty their hands punching him themselves? They’ll provide the distraction while their minions take care of the dirty work. This was a really great episode for them because they got some more face time!

SS501…I completely forgot that they were supposed to make a cameo in this series, and I’m so glad it was THIS episode! Of course it’d be Baby Joon who would point to Jan Di out of the crowd. I’m kind of sad that Jung Min couldn’t be a part of it (what was he doing at this time? I know it was something…) but I’m glad our other three boys were able to showcase ‘UR Man’ and look so darn good while doing it!

Jun Pyo: I love him. Is there really anything else I need to say about him? Well, yes, because I love talking about him. I felt SO BAD for him when he waited the entire time out in the cold for her, and I really felt sad for him when he came to school, looking great with straight hair (although the man may be the only Korean idol I’ve seen so far who can pull of really curly hair) and a nice school uniform, all dolled up for her, and then he sees the photos and jumps to conclusions – who wouldn’t? – and is just so angry and insulted. Can we also talk about how he went Edo Japan on us with the random demonstration of swordpractice? I’m thinking this episode may have been trying to appeal to a lot of different people: the Green Peas (for SS501), girls who love Edo period anything, and those who want the more musical side to come through (for Frick and Frack). He ended up throwing stuff again. Which I loved. Is that bad? He also looked. so. fine. Just about everything looked amazing on him. Oh no…am I turning into one of the F4’s fangirls?! But I don’t want to wear super short skirts and white knee highs and high heels!!!!

Jun Pyo: there were also a few moments that I did NOT love about him this episode. Mostly one recurring one – why do you always have to grab for the girls’ throats when you want to talk to them? ‘Cornering’ Jan Di against a car is one thing, at least that’s sexy, but grabbing at her tie to make her tell you the truth? Throwing her Fake Friend to the ground after grabbing HER throat? Do not like. This second part I don’t like mostly because he did have a lot of reasons to be upset with her, and he’s not one to hold himself back, but I think it could have hurt her a lot more if he had just straight up ignored her.

Fake Friend: I will say that at least in the TV series she made more sense. In the manga, she’s almost bipolar – at school she’s ridiculously sweet and ‘naive’ (like a unicorn threw up a rainbow kind of sweet), but at the club, which by the way is supposed to be one of those ‘practically a stripper club but anyone can come on stage and shake their stuff’ kind of clubs, she’s overly sexualizing herself while being a complete flirt to the guys and a venomous snake to the girls. At least in the series they toned that down a little bit, and I think future episodes should reveal more things about her. I did believe her when she was asking Jun Pyo “Why is Jan Di okay but not me?”, but we’ll get to that in later episodes.

I tend to like those self-searching questions, ‘Am I really that loathsome?’ and ‘Why is she okay but not me?’ mostly because they are such honest and realistic questions. It’s as if I’ve stumbled onto some recorded diary entry of these characters, and these questions make them suddenly very human. I mean, these are questions that any person who has had a crush can relate to, but they were said so realistically (yep! I’m claiming that they were NOT melodramatic, which is usually the case for TV shows) that for a second I almost feel like they’re real people, too. You know, not just amazingly attractive models who are acting these specific roles in a staged television series.

Jan Di: Believe it or not, although most of the time I really, REALLY do not like her, in this episode she redeemed herself (to me) because of her interactions with, you guessed it, Jun Pyo. They actually have a real tete-a-tete going on in this episode! I love that she took care of him while he was sick and they were stranded in the cable car (?), maybe this time their interactions are more significant though because she wasn’t drunk and could actually call him ‘stupid’ or ‘punk’ back!

Fun Observation (although there’s a lot more in this episode to unpack, I need to leave something for my unni to write about!): Just how did they set the bicycle on fire so fast?!

Boys Over Flowers: Episode 3

Oh my! I think this episode does a lot for character development and interaction.

So, I love the interplay between Jun Pyo and Jan Di (I’m not totally against her….yet…she still has her moments). You can tell that when he calls her a punk and a gangster that it is done from a place of LOVE. He’s so cheeky, that Jun Pyo. He was completely enjoying getting his life saved!  Jan Di has a positive effect on him, he smiles much more, even if he still hasn’t gotten down the correct way to share his feelings of affection. Did you see how tickled he was when he put the ducks in the swimming pool? I thought he was going to fall out of his chair from cackling so much.  He clearly cares about her, but he also relates to her in a completely different way than Ji Hoo. He’s kinda real with his. He insults her, and she gives it right back to him. For some reason, I enjoy this back and forth. Whereas Jan Di’s interaction with Ji Hoo is weird (girl, get off your knees! you could have totally bandaged his finger standing up!)

Ji Hoo and his emotional state, now that’s a different story. I know you think I’m always on Ji Hoo’s side because of his fabulous wardrobe choices, but this time I think that while Ji Hoo is a man responsible for his own choices, I wonder if his association with Min isn’t entirely healthy. I know we briefly mentioned this last time, but I’m with Ji Hoo, “Exactly who are you to him?” Are you the motherly figure, are you a potential girlfriend? Have you been playing Ji Hoo all these years, feeding your own narcissism to have an incredibly rich and attractive man at your beck and call? Min can’t be all, I’m a little jealous of Jan Di, but then continue to STRING JI HOO ALONG!!!! Ji Hoo is a MAN, with MAN feelings, you gotta treat him like a man. So her own kind of vagueness doesn’t help. Is she dumping Ji Hoo on Jan Di? Is she now supposed to fulfill this mother/girlfriend freaky role for him? I’m not really buying that Min is all that torn up about leaving Ji Hoo. C’mon! You know how emotionally fragile that man is!

This is also the episode where I get more interested in the interplay among the boys. Jun Pyo clearly knows that Ji Hoo has a thing for Jan Di, even if Ji Ho doesn’t, so he’s taking every opportunity to throw his ‘relationship’ in his face.  Look, I’ve got my arm around Jan Di!  Look, Jan Di’s in my room!  Yet, they all rush over when there is an emergency, and that emergency is JUN PYO’S WITCH OF A MOTHER!!! You need to prepare yourself, there is a reason why they are all afraid of her. You know it’s bad when Yi Jung can barely pull of his charming wiles. SHE. IS. BAD. Although it tickles me that Jun Pyo refers to her as “the hag,” you notice he doesn’t do it to her face.  She is a piece of work. Even when things are rocky, they rally to each other’s side, and this is why the Boys become more interesting to me than Jan Di.

I also find the class dynamics getting more pronounced: Jan Di is a dry cleaner’s daughter with a ‘commoner’s pride.’ They talk about her like she’s an alien. And yet Jun Pyo is cool with crossing that class barrier.  Interesting.  I wonder if Jan Di’s inability to be feminine is supposed to be yet another marker of her class origins. Do you notice just how uncomfortable she is when they dress her up (and yes, I realize that it is problematic that she is getting dressed, Pygmalion-style, by these boys who try to transform her)? You would think Jan Di never wore a dress in her entire life. What, working-class girls have no femininity? In her drunken state, we do get some insight into her low self-esteem. She really doesn’t think she is smart, pretty or has any redeeming qualities whatsoever.  But I also think that she can be stubborn when it comes to her pride.

Jun Pyo, working on getting into Jan Di’s heart. Did you notice how closely she held those goggles? She just doesn’t know it yet….the problem is, even when she knows it, she will act the same way!


Boys Over Flowers: Episode 2

SUCH a good episode! I noticed that they played SHINee’s musical contribution to the soundtrack a lot during this one (which I thoroughly approve of!), so much so that I may have to go and get it. “Whether I’m making you smile…”

Alright, let’s get to business. There’s a LOT in this episode that I liked, and believe it or not I think that this was a very “good” episode for Jun Pyo! Here’s why: the first thing that needs to be addressed is the issue of whether or not he told the “Locker Room Punks” to rape Jan Di, because that’s definitely what they were going for. To me, and my interpretation of his reprimand to them, he did NOT tell them to rape her specifically, but he absolutely wanted them to scare her very, very badly. Um, so since I’ve called them the Locker Room Punks….which locker room are they in, exactly? If it’s a women’s locker room, then what the heck is Ji Hoo doing in there? If it’s a men’s locker room, what’s Jan Di doing there? And I definitely don’t think that “co-ed” locker rooms exist in this high school (or any high school, for that matter).

Second thing to address is Jan Di’s Super Totally Awesome Roundhouse Kick TO THE FACE! Yes, I LOVED this part, both because it’s a definite wake-up call to Jun Pyo but it also means that Jan Di has some fire in her blood! I love that she PHYSICALLY fought back this time! Of course, this is in the beginning stages with the whole discourse of Jun Pyo thinking that, since women say the opposite of what they mean, she is totally in love with him. What that means, in Jun Pyo-speak, is that he’s finally realized that he likes her in some way, shape, or form, but since he can’t consciously realize this he’s letting his “affections” out in other ways. Like kidnapping her and dressing her up. Honestly, that’d really freak me out, too, as soon as I was awake from my chloroform-sleep I’d be running, fancy house be damned!

At first, I was unsure about the “bee attack” that followed Jan Di leaving his house, but I think I have it figured out: I think that little scene is showing what his actions and speech are like after he’s been embarrassed – he both hides his embarrassment behind arrogance and takes it out on the people around him who have “embarrassed” him. I think this is supposed to explain his more violent tendencies, and it’s echoed by Min (I can’t remember the rest of her name!!) at the end of this episode when she says it’s also because he’s lonely. Moving on, another moment of his that I loved was just before the bee attack, when he’s upset and throwing the clothes and shoes on the ground. As Almighty Key has shown us in SHINee’s Hello Baby, bribing people for love with gifts does. not. work. But Jun Pyo is SO UPSET that it didn’t work, that he decides to take his anger out on Jan Di’s shoes. It’s such a beautiful, awkward love moment – you show that shirt who’s boss! The last moment that really caught me for him was his attempt to comfort Jan Di after she gets smacked in the face with the volleyball. Really, I loved that entire scene, but specifically when he says “Don’t cry, it doesn’t suit you.” He LIKES her fiery attitude! He wants her to keep being feisty and spirited! Then she says “I would rather die in blood than be indebted to you” and the look on his face just about killed me. That’s really all I could hear in my thoughts during that moment: “Awwww, BUT LOOK AT THAT FACE! Jan Di, why are you so mean?!” I know why she’s so “mean” at this point, but, as you can tell, Jun Pyo is my man in this show.

Which brings us to Ji Hoo. Of course Ji Hoo would ride around on a cool motorbike and give Jan Di his HUMONGOUS sports shoes to wear, which she would then thoroughly scrub down. Of course. Um, remember back in episode 1 how I was saying that I couldn’t forget what Ji Hoo is like in the manga? I would like to quote, since it happens in this episode, emphasis added: “THEN HE RETREATED INTO AUTISM.” Yes, Ji Hoo is autistic. Or, since he’s so high functioning, has Asperger’s Sydrome. Which I think he still exhibits. Which is why he drives me CRAZY. But apparently he went even deeper into a more extreme autism when his parents died, and somehow Min was able to pull him out of it. Which I don’t think works, because autism definitely is NOT temporary, but then again who’s really taking the time to look into the medical details of Ji Hoo’s past? “She’s his first love, girlfriend, and mother.” Weird.

The last thing I’ll put on here is my Random Question/Observation of the Day: Why……..why is there a mirror directly beneath the showerhead while Jun Pyo is taking a shower after Rugby Practice (a.k.a. Anger Releasing Time)? It’s so weird, I think that’s the third time I’ve seen some show have a mirror in the shower, underneath the showerhead. Is this common in East Asia? Note that I’m totally not mad that it showed him showering. I can appreciate that.

Okay CeeFu, how’s that for my first official post?

Boys Over Flowers: Episode 1

You know, some things never get old. Like pimptastic, overindulged Korean privileged boys entering their high school backlight with a halo of light, as they stroll in in suits and ascots.  Oh, yeah, I guess I should say something about Jan Di first.

Yes, she’s plucky (kinda), I know as the audience we are supposed to side with her and her “positive” attitude.  But her habit of being ambivalent isn’t attractive.  F4 treats her badly, like they treat everyone badly in the beginning, but somehow that doesn’t make me like  her more. She’s all for the underdog, but do you see the way she screams at her parents? You know THAT ain’t going down in the average Korean household.

One thing I forgot is that Jan Di also declares war on F4, this is after she finds out they are affluent, and before the real abuse from Jun Pyo really starts. She’s no innocent. And I also forgot how the rest of F4 laughs at Jun Pyo. I think they know he’s got issues, and secretly want Jan Di to beat him down. I also remember thinking, “Jan Di is too trusting of people she shouldn’t trust, and can’t bring herself to trust the people she should.” She calls herself a loner, and so this must explain her utter inability to deal with people in a sane way.  Oops, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Nolan Nabi, what you got?


Boys Over Flowers: The Prologue

I know, I know, I talked about Boys Over Flowers before, but it warrants a revisit, and what better way to do it than with a friend! I have enlisted Nolan Nabi to rewatch the whole pimptastic kdrama again with me, and we will be discussing our thoughts on the good (the pretty boys), the bad (Jun Pyo’s psychotic mother) and the ugly (the completely unsympathetic Jan Di).  Stay tuned!

I Am Legend: 11-16

And no I didn’t forget about this kdrama.  In the end, I found it cute, if a little bit odd. Our heroine, Seol-hee achieves her dreams in the end, triumphing over the nasty ex-husband, who comes to see the error of his ways, the ambitious lawyer/mistress, and the evil mother-in-law. The Comeback Madonna experiences a level of success, complete with fans. Everyone’s happy.

Well, nearly everyone. I wonder why this kdrama bothers to even set up the expected love triangle and resolve it in such an unsatisfying way. Why give Seol-hee two options and have her choose neither? Are you trying to say that ahjumma’s don’t deserve love? WHAT???!!!!!!! Also, why imply that there is something between Tae Hyun and Kang, and then not explore it?  Sometimes I did find Seol-hee to be a bit TOO good. At some point, somebody would have caught a bottle to the head. And there is a lot of behavior that never gets addressed. Seung Hye does all sorts of evil things that just float on by. Threatens to take Tae Hyun’s child on a regular basis. If she is so in love with Ji Wook, what does she care who Tae Hyun dates and why? She just WANTS IT ALL. And what drives me crazy is that she really doesn’t think it’s over with Ji Wook.  Get the memo, sister. He’s dumping you. Actually, he’s been playing you for quite some time, you just don’t want to accept it.

Who I really ended up LOVING is Hwa Ja! I love the fact that she is loud, willing to beat somebody down. I love that they put her on bass, in short dresses and knee-high boots. I love that she’s a healthy girl, but doesn’t come off as “the fat one.”  I love that she’s a mom and a wife. She kinda stole the show somewhat when Seol-hee got boring.

So that’s it! Hmmmmm…..what will I watch next?

I Am Legend: Episodes 9-10

So the actual divorce proceedings in court were BAD! Where does such nastiness come from? And Ji Wook just sat there and let his witchy lawyer/girlfriend lie in court.  I guess this is why nobody likes lawyers. The mother-in-law gave an excellent performance, portraying someone who actually cares. I wonder if the judge bought her act.  In the end, our heroine does not play dirty, gets her divorce but no money.

Ji Wook does not understand that he has still not learned his lesson. So even though the trial is over, he must feel bad. You paid absolutely no attention to Seoh-hee while you were married, yet you just can’t stay away: meeting her at a cafe to try to give her money (and still insisting she live a quiet life–you are a moron, aren’t you?), showing up at the ER, representing the company that her lawyer is suing. When will you get the hint, Ji Wook? You got unfinished business!!

What is delicious, though, is that Seung Hye is about to get hers. Oh not right now, but she’s about to become used and abused by the Family. I guess she thought that they’d be grateful that she got Ji Wook through the divorce unscathed, but Mama ain’t having that. She’s already told Ji Wook in no uncertain terms that he needs to move on, and not move on to Seung Hye. She is also a moron, and can’t take the hint (maybe they do belong together), because she is still acting like they are destined to be together.  He’s about to treat you like he treated Seol-hee.  Get a grip!

Meanwhile, it now looks like Seol-hee is going to be plucky lawyer assistant by day, rock band maven by night.  Good luck with that!

I Am Legend: Episodes 3-4


Um, who goes to divorce court in hot pants? Ok, maybe they aren’t hot pants, and I know Seol-hee’s wardrobe choices are supposed to represent the freedom she now has as she pursues the rock star lifestyle, but the beginning of the courtroom proceedings were a bit, um, unrealistic?

I don’t know why I’m always amazed at how nasty the mother of sons can be in a kdrama!  Ji Wook’s mother is CRAZED!!!!  I can understand the importance they may place on having a son to be an heir, but does she have to treat Seol-hee like a dog? ALL THE TIME?  And he is no better. He just can’t let well enough alone. He doesn’t want a divorce, he wants a divorce, he wants a divorce and wants to shut Seol-hee up. Hey, why don’t you leave the country to make my life easier. And just when she was about to give in, he (of course) shows his mean self.  I DESPISE the way he talks to her. It’s not just I need you to make a baby. It’s the condescension. Um, Ji Wook, that’s your girl….she wasn’t all “eeewwww” when you got her pregnant! What else is a girl supposed to do but fight back?

And then there are the girls-who-aren’t-girls-girls. That’s right, I’m talking about you, Ran-hee. You are a spoiled brat in need of a beatdown. It’s just all about you. No wonder you have no friends. Even willing to use a friend’s misfortune to make yourself feel better.  Soo-in had your number, early!  And if she wasn’t enough, there is Seung Hye, who doesn’t seem to be over her husband, who is our requisite cutie, Tae Hyun. He’s not bad to look at; I will spare you my shout out to my most recent favorite kdrama man. Ok, NOT!!!!!  STILL lovin’ on Lee Seung Hyo!

I also like how Seol-hee’s girls have her back.  This is excellent!!!  I’ve been there: your friends are engaged in questionable behavior on your behalf, and you get convinced it is a perfectly legitimate thing to do!

I wonder how long the divorce will take?

I Am Legend: Episode 1-2


Ok, you had me at Girl. Rock. Band.  But it’s a kdrama, so there must also be some slaptastic tension going on, usually between some man and some woman.  Oh, but there’s more.

So it  doesn’t start with the girl rock band. It starts with Seol-hee, trapped in a loveless marriage of her own making. And you can see the repression in the first scenes.  Her hair is pulled back so tight it could snap! She literally can’t say anything.  All she is supposed to do is smile and shut up.  Then you see the other side of her, ’cause karaoke brings that out of you.  Once she put a knot in her evening gown, put her 5-inch high heel up on the tabIe, and told two guys she would beat them both at the same time, I knew I was going to like her.

I give her props, she embraces her choices, no whining or complaining.  She puts up with her hateful mother-in-law and her punk-of-a-husband Ji Wook.  But she’s drawing the line when they actually think she is going to be a baby maker instead of saving her sister who has cancer. Seol-hee is like, “Peace out!”  Now of course it won’t be that easy.  Ji Wook, who has political aspirations, won’t give her a divorce. But I think that Seol-hee is about to give her husband’s family a run for their money.

And that would be cool in itself, but there are the other girls in the band. These aren’t teeny-bopper chicks with dreams of making it big. These are ladies who have seen what life has to offer, and still have that exuberance of the young. Especially Hwa-ja.  I know you’ve heard me stay it a million times: SHE’S MY GIRL!!!  Eager sidekick of Seol-hee.

Um, yeah, and there is some attractive guy in here too. I’m sure we’ll get more on him later.

Yeah, you had me at girl rock band.

Queen Seondeok: 57-The Bitter End


Ok, I’m not surprised. It’s not called the Great Prime Minister Bidam, it’s called the Great Queen Seondeok, and knowing it is historically based, I know how this was probably going to end. But I still have ISSUES!!!

First, I come from the wuxia world, where people don’t have problems messing with actual history. If I was Deokman, I would have taken a page out of The Water Margin, way back when she was Princess Deokman after Cheongmyeong gets shot. I would have gathered Bidam, Yushin and Archeon together, any rogue Hwarang hanging out, and anybody else who was tired of the status quo, and taken it to some impregnable mountain fortress, and told the king: “We out! If the cause is just and righteous, we’ll come and help you out.  Good luck with Mishil!”  Then I would have told, TOLD Yushin:  “Look, I need a general, and you are it. No more doe eyes!”   I would have made Bidam my bodyguard, ’cause he’s cute and handy with a sword and good with sneaky stuff, but I don’t really have any romantic interest him, leaving Archeon to be my  BOO!!!!!!

But I digress. Back to the show. I’ve been reading around the ‘net how they describe Bidam. He’s on a mad quest for power. He wants to be king. He leads a coup (ok, he does that last bit).  First, let’s see what all the fuss is about:


Bidam http://www.hs.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=114126085268552&id=288913751479&ref=share)



I like Bidam.  I’m going to defend Bidam (very capably played by Kim Nam Gil). Remember where we first meet him? Dude was sleeping in a cave and throwing chicken at Yushin. That’s your great villain.  Bidam is very conflicted, abandoned as a child then abandoned by Munno. And Deokman doesn’t help once they get in the palace to help assuage his insecurity. Nobody every gives him a chance: from the get go everybody is like, oooh, he’s dangerous and can’t be trusted.  On side you got rat fink Chunchu (more on him later), on the other side you got Misaeng, Yumjong and the rest of the crazy Mishil crew. Whatever Bidam turns out to be, he didn’t get there by himself. If he and Deokman were just left alone, we could have avoided a lot of this. But we do have a coup, and I have to say, at least there was no whining, no pleading, no running away.  Deokman knew she had to whack Bidam; Bidam knew he was going to get whacked, and he took it like a man, going down swinging!

Let’s talk about others who are responsible for where we end up. I’m talking to you, Great Queen Seondeok! What would have happened if she just whacked Mishil’s crew from the get go? Sure, other ambitious people would have come on the scene and caused trouble, but would they have trained under the most cunning mind of the day? I think not. And they rush past it, but the Queen seems pretty satisfied to use Bidam to her dirty work. I like her, but she ain’t blameless.  She also just stands there and lets countless soldiers get whacked trying to kill Bidam, when all she had to do was say stop, let him say his peace, and execute him with those other punks. But no……

Let’s talk about that pimple Chunchu. How is he any different from Bidam, motivated by unresolved issues in his past? Except that dude makes no bones about wanting the throne the way that he wants it. He never gets over Mishil killing his mom, like he’s the only one who lost  a parent.  And remember he punked Mishil!  He’s not an innocent; he’s got a serious agenda: Gee Bidam, I know you are in love with my aunt, but since I want the throne, you gotta go, by any means necessary!  And can we not forget that he was in on the whacking of Munno? Hello? Rat fink! I hate his smug attitude (although, big props to the teenager who  plays him!).

Let’s talk about Misaeng, Hajong and that wacky crew. I know they eventually get the traitor treatment, but they make it to the end, causing trouble, being nobles. That hardly seems fair.

Which brings me to one thing I learned: you can’t have your love or any kind of a normal life and rule a country. Politics and righteousness and romance don’t mix.  Ask any wuxia swordsman. You don’t see them getting entangled in crazy national issues, and when they do, it NEVER works out:

  • The Legendary Warrior: guys spends most of the series denied his due by royalty, royal woman mostly, and who takes her out? Some royal guard? NO! Swordswoman!
  • Romance of the Red Dust: in addition to the crazy going on in the basements of some official’s homes, when our hero recognizes that the guy he helps get the throne is going to engage in the same type of shenanigans they fought against, he takes his cookies and goes home to live a life of solitude
  • The Young Warriors: we’ve already discussed how the Yangs get dissed by the incompetent emperor, and who has to suffer? our righteous Yang family
  • Shall I go on?
  • The Handsome Siblings: these guys just happen to be born to the wrong parents, and try as they may, they get caught up in some Single Chinese Empress syndrome because she’s obsessed with one of them. This costs both of the siblings EVERYTHING and EVERYONE!
  • Sword Stained with Royal Blood: I know, the title seems self-explanatory, but this is another story where you help new dude get rid of old dude on the throne only to have new dude act even worse and dash your hopes of a better tomorrow.
  • Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain: agent of the government mucking up jiang hu, all for the promise of recognition by the ruler.

If you want to survive and be an upright, fight-for-justice kind of person, and have your love survive, stay away from the palace!  It is not the place for righteous folk who have a cause. As bad as she was, Mishil manages to keep her people alive and safe, even Daenambo, who kills a PRINCESS and lives to tell about it. She worked the palace like Deokman never manages to do. She loses her people to crazy schemes, and it takes its toll.  Mishil don’t look lonely, and Deokman remains so.  It’s not so much that people are bad, it’s the quest for power and more power that drives them to do bad, BAD things. Even Mishil wasn’t going to destroy Shilla to get what she wanted.

Ok, on the up side, my boo Archeon lives!  Once again, let’s see what we’re working with:


Archeon http://meylaniaryanti.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/lee-seung-hyo-cute-al-cheon/


THAT, is my MAN!!! I love Archeon. I love his character and I love Lee Seung Hyo who plays him.  So, of course, way back in the early episodes, he was just as arrogant as the other Hwarang, but unlike the other Hwarang, he becomes boyz with Yushin after they narrowly escape the battlefield. Anytime things don’t look right, Archeon is like, “This looks shady, I’m not going to be a part of this.” Whenever somebody needs him to something for the cause, he’s there. He doesn’t get much screen time, but he is a righteous man, down to the end, and the only one that Deokman could depend on as Queen because he wasn’t in love with her. And even after Deokman is gone, he’s still on his job!

So that’s it: 62 episodes later.  Is Deokman The Great Queen? Yes she is great! Can’t say the same for some of the flunkies around her. And she’s also great because another woman made her great. MIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!

Queen Seondeok: 52-56


Yes, I continue the slow descent to the end of this kdrama! At first I thought it was because I didn’t want to see the inevitable tragedy that was Bidam. But then the show did the fast forward, you know, where everyone “gets older,” signalled by more “adult” hairstyles for women and goatees for men!  And I realized, just because Mishil is gone doesn’t mean that the palace intrigue stops! But there’s something icky about the series now. Gone are the plucky rebel days when Seondeok and her ragtag crew were battling Mishil.  Now, everybody’s got an agenda, a plan, a motive and is liable to whack somebody if the need arises.

This is what I’m feeling so far: um, Queen Seondeok is nothing like Princess Seondeok! Queen Seondeok has some hard, high-riding attitude going on! Like she took a page out the Mishil playbook! I have to say, I do like the way she’s pimp-slapping the Bokya around–somebody needs to put them in their place. News alert: you Gaya folk need to get with the program; your country is gone and it’s not coming back.  And she actually gets mad at Yushin! You know in the end, he’s her boy, but still.

And as always, there is my beloved Archeon, just hanging out as the Queen’s guard, chillin’ in the cut. I love that man (Lee Seung Hyo)!

I’m going to try to barrel through to the end so I can write the wrap-up entry, because I got some opinions about Bidam as well as about the whole royal thing in general. I think Bidam is getting a bad rap. I don’t think he’s a bad man, I just think he got put in some really BAD circumstances.  Could he have responded to them better? Probably. Is he alone in responding to circumstances in a bad way? Not at ALL!

Queen Seondeok: 47-51


I just can’t believe she’s gone.  GONE!!! Mishil has left the building! As the series went on, she just kept getting more and more gangster!  You know you are bad when your ENEMIES cry when you die.  But, we got 12 more episodes to go! How much fun is that going to be?

Let’s explore the departure of The Evil One, shall we? The thing about Mishil is, yes she’s bad, but she’s the kind of villain who thinks she is actually doing something for a cause.  So while she did some bad, BAD things, Mishil had an up side.  How do we know? Because way back in the day that the show doesn’t show us, she was down with people like Munno.  In several of her final speeches, she waxes poetic about her love of Shilla, her lost comrades, how she and the former king basically “built this city.”  She’s got loyal followers that don’t include her pathetic husband Sejong, her puppy-love boyfriend Seolwon, and her in-need-of-serious-help relatives.  She did surround herself with the best, and they remain loyal, perhaps loyal out of fear, but loyal nonetheless.

Like so many good serialized historical dramas with swords and intrigue, no one is saccarhine-ly sweet good, or dark black heart-of-darkness bad. Can we talk about Munno for a minute? You think he’s all loyal, down for the cause, working to get Deokman as queen. Dude’s got his own agenda, and it don’t include the queen! Can we talk about Chunchu for a minute? I know our righteous side is the forgiving sort, but am I wrong in believing that dude had Munno whacked? You can’t act all innocent now, buddy. And I’ve been fighting it, but hey, I know that Bidam is headed for disaster, but he looks very sexy manly doing it!  I can totally see how his behavior is motivated by his failure to work out his abandonment issues coupled with Deokman’s mixed signals when it comes to him and Yushin.  I just wonder as I head into the final episodes, how do we go from “yay, we’re number one” to coup #3.

I know I’ve said it before, but Deokman and Yushin work a nerve.  Just putting it out there, again.  And while I’m at it, Archeon is still my boo. He definitely needs more screen time!!!

Queen Seondeok: Episodes 26-46

Ok, things have been moving fast and furious on the show. When you realize that there are 62 episodes to this thing, you learn to pace yourself. I think I had some Queen Seondeok overload over the break. At any rate, it is still a top quality pursuit. I know I go on and on about Mishil, but when was the last time you saw a smart, conniving woman who was a real villain worthy of your respect AND your disdain? I actually got a little scared when it looked like Mishil was going to give up….but luckily, she comes back even more gangsta than ever.

The royal politics are very intriguing, but I do have some concerns. Like you would think the palace guards who protect the princess would be better fighters. During the coup (oh,I didn’t mention this–there’s a coup, y’all!), they are far too easily dispatched.  Then again, there can’t be too many Yushins, Archeons and Bidams rolling around.  In case you have forgotten, Archeon is my boy! Lee Seung Hyo is fantastic! He should totally get more air time! I especially like it when he gets his righteous indignation on!  I like Bidam (Kim Nam Gil) also, but my spidey sense is telling me that tragedy is waiting for him down the road in this drama, or at least something I won’t be groovy with.

Also in the interim Cheonmyeong’s son shows up, all arrogant and in desperate need of an introduction to a belt.  He eventually reconciles himself to the Princess Deokman plan, but it does point to one of the strengths of the show, and the need for the 62 episodes.  62 episodes allows you to develop characters, let them grow and change, even in ways you may not like. It makes villains for more complex and heroes a little less shiny. People have opportunities to make mistakes, I mean BIG mistakes (dude, Munno?) and move on from them.  Take for instance Yongchun.  I was ready to consign him to the “I wish someone would whack you” category when he opposes Deokman’s quest for the throne, but he totally won me back when he says that he’d slit his own throat before letting Seolwon and his crew arrest him. That was sassy. Forget the fact that he apparently can’t wield a sword to save his life.  I like his attitude!