Self-Care Friday (Week 8)

You’ll notice that I haven’t listened to a lot of music this week. That isn’t strictly true, most of my music has been from my YouTube Watch Later playlist. If you’re not a regular YT user (I am and ever since I subscribed to Google Music, I use it even more — it comes with YT Red, which means no commercials) you may not know what it is. When you’re logged into your Google account and go to YT, as you browse videos you’ll see something in the upper right corner of the thumbnail that looks like a clock. That’s the add to watch later button. You click that and then you can save it for later. I have been doing that a lot and I had a ton of videos in there. But in preparation for hanging out with N this weekend, I wanted to clear them out so it’s just filled of English subbed videos. That meant most of the stuff I listened to (still kpop, of course) was on YT and not Spotify or Google Music.

Anyway, onto the fun stuff.

What I’ve Been Reading:

No new read harder books this week, maybe something next week, we’ll see. I’ll hopefully be reviewing the Jack Cheng book at some point.

Completed:

  • See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
  • Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels, book 8)
  • Black Panther: a Nation Under Our Feet. Book Two by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze
  • What Did You Eat Yesterday vol 10 by Fumi Yoshinaga

Currently reading:

  • The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu (audio book – on hold)
  • Chapelwood: the Borden dispatches by Cherie Priest
  • Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino
  • Chimes At Midnight by Seanan McGuire (audio book: October Daye, Book 7)
  • What Did You Eat Yesterday vol 11 by Fumi Yoshinaga

What I’m Watching:

Completed:

I’m hoping to write up a review of TTM sometime soon, too.

  • Tokyo Tarareba Musume (Japanese drama)
  • Flash Point (HK film)
  • Brigadoon (1954)
  • The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years (documentary)
  • The Three Musketeers (1973)
  • Logan’s Run (1976)

Currently:

  • Totsuzen Desu ga, Ashita Kekkon Shimasu (Japanese drama)
  • Oh My Ghost (kdrama)

What I’m listening to:

Mostly a bunch of new groups. I can’t help it. It’s one of the best things about kpop, they’re the gift that keeps on giving. On Spotify, though, just two different kpop groups (one new, one not) and a great jazz musician.

Joey Alexander – Countdown

Seven O’Clock – Butterfly Effect

Monsta X – The Clan pt. 2.5 [Beautiful]

And a picture. Monsta X (above) is going to make their Japanese debut soon and their Japanese company has been releasing photos. Have one of my favorite member of Monsta X, Kihyun. I’ve shared him a lot, but he is my favorite, after all!

C8PCxdnU0AAH2ei

Yoo Kihyun of Monsta X

The Wednesday Four

A lot happened in Week 19. One of the things was good, the rest … well, you know. And on this line of thinking, there is so much news that a few minutes, an hour, a whole night, away from your phone (or the news in general) feels like a vacation. My dad visited me last weekend and I didn’t spend a lot of time on my phone or looking at the news, but when I did, it was like getting crushed. BuzzFeed wrote a really great article about this, which you can read:

It doesn’t necessarily offer any solutions, but it does help to know that we’re all in this together. And now onto the links.

June 15,2007

blue jay. (c) Heather Kaiser

Series Review: Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (SBS)

Moon_Lovers-_Scarlet_Heart_Ryeo-p3

I said last week I’d write about this drama, so here we go. Back when it finished (November of last year) my friend N and I were barely halfway through, if that. We knew a few spoilers, but not a lot and the only thing I remember is that people were kind of pissed about the ending and, in general, didn’t really enjoy the drama. Now that we’ve completed it, I totally disagree with their assessment. Not that they’re wrong, but I actually found little to complain about.

For reference: IU is a singer, Jisoo and Nam Joohyuk are two popular up and coming actors, Baekhyun is a member of the kpop group EXO, Seohyun is a member of SNSD/Girls Generation, and Lee Junki is a actor/singer who I love. There are others, but those are the more famous ones I might mention.

Spoilers ahead!

The premise of Moon Lovers is that IU’s character, Go Ha Jin, travels back in time to Goryeo era of Korea’s history. She falls into the body of a young woman (Hae Soo) and basically becomes her. The fate of the real Hae Soo is most likely death, though this is not really explained, but instead inferred.

Hae Soo is the cousin of the wife of one of the kingdom’s many princes (sons of the current king) and goes from being in her 20s to being 16. The beginning of the drama is made of a Hae Soo trying to figure out her new body and life in Goryeo. Everything, from court behavior to the writing is complete foreign to her. The one thing she remembers from her history text is that the person who takes over from the current king will kill all of his brothers. This knowledge and the fact that she’s not supposed to meddle in affairs of state, are the two things guiding her throughout the whole drama.

Of course, as you can expect, Hae Soo fails at meddling. It’s not as though she sets out to mess things up, but that’s how it happens. You see, Hae Soo inadvertently befriends most of the princes and several of them fall in love with her. This is one of the ways her presence disrupts history, but both N and I decided that it didn’t actually matter what she did, things were always going to turn into the bloodbath at the end of the drama.

making-lee-joon-gi-iu-introducing-their-characters-moon-lovers

The Princes and Hae Soo
(L-R) Won, Eun (seated), Jung, Wook, Hae Soo, So (seated), Baekah, and Yo.

Hae Soo has several love interests throughout the drama: including Baekhyun’s prince (the youngest) Eun, Kang Hanuel’s princes, Wook, Junki’s So, and, the always adorable Jisoo’s Jung. Eun does find love, toward the end of the drama (and his character’s life). He is a cute character, often providing comedy, but toward the end Baekhyun’s acting comes through and you do care about Eun and his wife, Soonduk (she is amazing and kick ass and played by singer Z.Hera).

The main people, aside from the characters above, of importance to Hae Soo are the Crown Prince, Moo, and two of the brothers, Yo and Uk/Baekah (the latter played by Nam Joohyuk). It’s a lot of characters to keep track of — and that doesn’t even include Baekah’s love interest (played by Seohyun), the two queens, Wook’s (late) wife, and his sister. But that’s more detail that is needed in this review. Instead, if you do want to know, watch the drama.

Hae Soo is favored by the Crown Prince, who becomes king when his father dies. She discovers, by accident when he’s still the Crown Prince, that he has a medical condition. Under the training of Court Lady Oh, Hae Soo begins to work in the palace. This happens because she’d been living with Wook and his wife, who dies and though Wook and Hae Soo are in love, things don’t work out and she can’t stay with him so she moves to the court.

Much of the drama focuses on Hae Soo and her interactions with the princes and the people who surround them. As time passes Hae Soo changes from her 21st century self into a proper Goryeo court lady. Both N and I began to question whether she would go back to her former life at the end of the drama. As Hae Soo became more a Goryeo woman, her love changed, too. Wook’s sister didn’t like Hae Soo and along with two of the brothers Yo and Won, caused her lots of problems. When Wook should’ve stood up for Hae Soo, his sister threatened him and forced his hand, showing us his true feels.

scarlet-heart-1

Lee Junki as Prince Wang So

It was Junki’s prince, So, who ended up standing up for her and, eventually, falling in love with her. Prince So was feared, both because he’s a ruthless killer and because he always wears a mask due to the scar on his face. His mother loathed him and she tried to kill him, failed, and left his face scarred. So, on the other hand, both loves his mother, even while he hates her and it’s not until he meets Hae Soo that he begins to understand friendship and love.

Of course, all of the romances in this drama are doomed. The king who becomes Gwangjong kills all of his brothers in order to attain the thrown and this is what Hae Soo fears. As the drama passes, she begins to think that So is going to be the next king and that he will kill his brothers. She tries, at different times, to prevent this from happening, but history as a way of working itself out and no matter how she tries, it fails.

But outside of the court intrigue and Goryeo politics is a love story. Where Hae Soo loved Wook, when he turned away from her, she too turned away from him. It was So who ended up putting the pieces of her heart together and this is the romance that spans the rest of the drama. Much of the criticism of this drama involved Junki and IU’s acting, but I found it to be very, very good. Their romance as believable, well-acted, and often quite emotional. Both N and I did a lot of crying as we proceeded through the episodes.

In the end, So does become king and most of his brothers die — though not complete by his hand. There’s much in this drama that I’m leaving out, but I do want to talk about the ending. Hae Soo learns she cannot marry the King (So) and he won’t let her leave the palace, even though she’s dying. The body she’s in has a weak heart and it’s slowly killing her. Eventually Jisoo’s prince, (and my favorite), Jung, comes to the rescue. He had always been in love with Hae Soo and had convinced his own brother (Yo) who was briefly king, to proclaim that he could marry Hae Soo. He presented this information to the So who, with a tenuous grasp on actually being King, had to enforce it. This, it turns out, was the only way Hae Soo could leave the palace.

Spoilers — seriously more spoilers.

Jung and Hae Soo leave and he cares for her as she struggles with child. It is, of course, the King’s daughter and Hae Soo does not live long after her child’s brith. But as she’s dying, she sends letter after letter to the King, who doesn’t open them as Jung had put them in envelopes and the King had dismissed them. When he does open them, it’s too late and Hae Soo has died. Everyone is miserable and we cried along with Jung and the King. Then, of course, we skip forward to the present day where Hae Soo, back in her body and known as Ha Jin, is living her life as normal. We learn that she’s been in a coma for a year and she doesn’t remember what happened to her.

She does remember, it’s so sad and heartbreaking and then the drama ends. There is no extra episode, no epilogue and we don’t know if they (So and Ha Jin) find their way to each other. That being said, the ending fit perfectly. Life is open ended, we don’t ever know what happens or what’s going to happen.

tumblr_obmfybNMb11rlzlwyo1_1280

Hae Soo and Wang So

I really liked this drama. IU’s acting was very good and her chemistry with all of the princes was incredible. There were some bad points and plot holes, but what drama doesn’t have them? Since this is a fantasy-historical fusion drama, it might not be for everyone. But definitely give it a try if it sounds interesting. Spoilers don’t really take away much from the drama, mostly because it is 20 episodes and there’s so much more that happened.

You can watch it on Dramafever.

Self-Care Friday (Week 7)

I finished another kdrama this week! My friend N and I, who saw SHINee together on Sunday, finished Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo on Sunday (before our concert, actually). It premiered back in August of last year and took us until now to finish it. It was 20 episodes and I plan to write up a review for next week. Suffice to say, we both enjoyed it for the most part.

I did not watch any new movies this week, alas. I was too busy with other things (like traveling!) but my dad is coming to visit me this weekend and I have a bunch of movies (including a musical) to watch. Anyway, onto the good stuff.

What I’ve Been Reading:

Reader Harder:

  • Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
  • Read a classic by an author of color: Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

Completed:

  • Black Panther: a Nation Under Our Feet. Book One by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze
  • Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire (audio book: October Daye, Book 6)
  • What Did You Eat Yesterday volume 9 by Fumi Yoshinaga

Reading:

  • The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu (audio book – on hold)
  • Chapelwood: the Borden dispatches by Cherie Priest
  • Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino
  • Black Panther: a Nation Under Our Feet. Book Two by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze
  • Chimes At Midnight by Seanan McGuire (audio book: October Daye, Book 7)
  • See You In The Cosmos by Jack Cheng

What I’m Watching:

I haven’t started any new kdramas yet, but that’ll happen soon. Next week some time, I’m sure. I will also include the movies I watch in next week’s update.

Completed:

  • Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (kdrama)

Currently:

  • Tokyo Tarareba Musume (Japanese drama)
  • Totsuzen Desu ga, Ashita Kekkon Shimasu (Japanese drama)

Upcoming:

  • Oh My Ghost (kdrama)
  • Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (kdrama)

What I’m Listening To:

I’m going to try a bit of a different format this time, so bare with me (similar, but also different).

SHINee of course! I saw them on Sunday night and it was fantastic! I feel very lucky to have seen them live. It was so good. Hopefully they’ll release a DVD and album of our concert, or at least one of the North American ones. Anyway, to listen to SHINee now, check your favorite streaming sites or go to Spotify:

Next up: BLANC7 as usual! I can’t get enough of them. Listen on Google Play.

And last up, one of my most favorite groups EVER: Monsta X! First of all, check out the music video for their new song, Beautiful (off of their new album, more about that below):

I love them a lot, y’all! Anyway, you can listen to their new song on Google Play or on Spotify and I cannot recommend it enough! Their new album is by far and away the best of their releases (and their stuff is pretty good all around). It’s 10 songs (!!!) and it makes me so happy. I’m really excited about this album and I hope they do well. I also hope they come to the US, because they’re one of the few groups that I want to see and haven’t yet seen. Please, Starship!

Anyway, give it a listen on Spotify (since it’s not embedding right now).

And, lastly, a photo to get you through the day. I went to the SHINee concert with Taemin as my favorite, but left with the guy below as my favorite. What are you going to do? It happens. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

tumblr_on4pejFSEK1sznxh3o1_1280

Choi Minho in Toronto (3/19/2017) (c) FATAL (sources: here and here)

The Wednesday Four

This week’s links are a mess of things, nothing directly related to current events, so enjoy them, please. I did find them all interesting (and some even entertaining).

Week 18 is over and aren’t we all glad. It’s not like things could get worse. Oh, wait …

  • Death Is Optional A Conversation: Yuval Noah Harari, Daniel Kahneman (Edge) Note: This was sent to me a few years ago by my father, I believe. 
  • Sir Arthur and the Fairies In the spring of 1920, at the beginning of a growing fascination with spiritualism brought on by the death of his son and brother in WWI, Arthur Conan Doyle took up the case of the Cottingley Fairies. Mary Losure explores how the creator of Sherlock Holmes became convinced that the ‘fairy photographs’ taken by two girls from Yorkshire were real. (Public Domain Review)
C7Z3-FlXgAAoORU

SHINee World in Toronto (c) snowxbunnyjeon on Twitter

Series Review: Voice (OCN)

I haven’t talked about a kdrama (Korean drama/tv show) on this blog in a long time, it’s about time I did it again. So, enjoy this review!

파일-보이스_포스터If you know anything about me, you may have noticed that I really like crime dramas (and books). I’m not sure when this started or why I like them so much, but I do. Whenever a new I read about new kdramas, if they’re crime-related, I usually am interested. When I read the synopsis, I knew I wanted to watch it:

Two detectives teamed up to catch a serial killer who murdered their family. Moo Jin Hyuk’s life spiraled out of control after his wife was murdered. He starts to put himself together after he meets Kang Kwon Joo, US-graduated voice-profiler, who lost her police father to the same serial killer. They work together on the 112 (emergency telephone number) call center team.

Serial killer shows also intrigue me (ex: Gap Dong, Signal, and, to some extent, Bad Guys) and so that just sealed the deal for me. The who is, in fact, about Jin Hyuk and Kwon Joo’s hunt for the serial killer who killed their loved ones, but it’s actually more than just that. The serial killer storyline is what brings the two characters together and it’s the overarching theme that runs through each episode, but it’s not what brings the show together. Instead, that is left in the hands of the characters whole make up the call center and the detectives who solve the crimes the call sender sends their way.

Spoilers for the entire show (16 episodes) to follow.

C0pcNjcVQAANAjx

Jin Hyuk

Jin Hyuk’s characters is call “mad dog” (at least in the English subs on Dramafever) because he’s kind of nuts — but he also doggedly (lol) gets the job done. The show begins with Jin Hyuk and his team solving a crime and then celebrating a job well done while a woman is being stalked in the shadows. She calls someone, who doesn’t answer, and then she calls 112 (911) and Kwon Joo picks up. It turns out that the person on the phone is Jin Hyuk’s wife and he’s the one she called first. He was too bus, both catching the bad guy and then celebrating to answer the phone. His wife is killed and we suffer his guilt and grief alongside him.

We skip to the trial, a man’s arrested for the murder, but all is not as it seems. A woman, Kwon Joo (though we don’t know it’s her) arrives to testify. She explains that she heard the killer’s voice when he killed her father (a cop) and she knows the man they have on trial isn’t the murder. She asks them to play the recording of her conversation with the killer, but it’s gone — erased. The man gets off and Jin Hyuk goes crazy.

We skip three years and this is where the drama truly beings. Jin Hyuk is back to being a glorified traffic cop and Kwon Joo has just returned from life in the United States. She is assigned to the same police station where Jin Hyuk works, determined to find out who killed her father and Jin Hyuk’s wife. She forms what is called the Golden Time Team, which consists of the 112 call center and detectives who solve the crimes that come in. She insists that Jin Hyuk be part of the time and this is the first part of the drama of the show.

C0ucgw8UQAUsSdt

Kwon Joo

Kwon Joo wants to work with Jin Hyuk, but he wants nothing to do with her. He reluctantly begins solving the crimes she throws at him and this is the basis for each episode, except the very last one. There are threads of the serial killer search throughout the show, but the central plot of each episode revolves around cases that come into the 112 line. Similar to a “case of the week” show (like Law & Order or Person of Interest), the Golden Time Team must save people before it’s too late. The beginning of each episode resolves the case of the previous episode and the second half introduces the next case, all mixed up with the search for serial killer.

Some of the cases are tied to the serial killer directly, some not so much. It is through these cases, and the frank honest between Kwon Joo and Jin Hyuk, that they grow to trust each other. Really, that Jin Hyuk learns to trust Kwon Joo. She convinces him that she’s not nuts — her story is that when she was younger, she was gravely ill and lost her sight for many years. During her period of blindness, she honed her hearing and now it is exceptionally good. This is the only true part of the show that is not quite believable, but without it, this show wouldn’t work. I decided, almost immediately, that I didn’t care if this part didn’t seem real, it works too well for me to care.

Once Jin Hyuk grudgingly trusts Kwon Joo, their hunt for the murderer of her father and his husband begins in earnest. While they solve crimes each week, we also slowly see them uncover the truth behind the murders. They uncover conspiracies, are thwarted at every turn and eventually discover a mole in the police.

Voice is a very dark drama. It’s actually darker than many kdramas I’ve seen, even the crime ones that I adore. The stories feel real, the anguish the victims and our cops feel is real, too. Even the emotions of the bad guys, with whom we do spend time, are very raw. There is back story, reasons for why people behave the way they do, and much of is heart breaking. For those of you who’ve read my reviews before, you know I like the “flower boy” detectives quite a bit and Shim Dae Shik is no exception. I adored him, but as with most of our characters, all is not what it seems.

C1I7mxmUkAE8pb5

Jin Hyuk and Dae Shik

Another spoiler warning! Somewhere toward the middle of the show, maybe episode eight, I realized that they were going to make Dae Shik the mole. I didn’t want to be write, I loved his character, but unfortunately I was correct. He was the mole and his storyline just grew more and more upsetting.

Of course, we always knew how this drama was going to end, with the good guys bringing down the bad guys. The truth is that the way they got there was the interesting part. While not a perfect drama, it had all the elements I really enjoyed. Once I accepted how Kwon Joo’s hearing worked, everything else seemed more or less believable. It was a great drama, the acting was by far and away the best part of the show and is, to be honest, a reason to watch it.

I enjoyed Voice much more than I expected and am glad I watched it. Perhaps for my next kdrama I’ll go for something a bit more light hearted. Maybe.