[REVIEW] Suits

Suits (Hangul: 슈츠; RR: Shucheu) is a South Korean television series starring Jang Dong-gun and Park Hyung-sik. The drama is based on the American television series of the same name by Aaron Korsh. It aired on KBS2 starting April 25, 2018 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 22:00 (KST) for 16 episodes.


First Impressions

I have been waiting for some time for Hyung-sik to come back with a good production, and immediately got excited when I heard that he would be acting in the Korean remake of Suits with Jang Dong-gun.

As a heads-up, I’ve never watched the original Suits, though I’ve heard bits about it, so I can’t really give feedback about whether the Korean version did justice/is worse/is better than the American one. But I consider that an advantage of sorts, since I have no bias nor expectation of how the show should flow.


The Good

Cast – All. So. Outstanding.

Okay frankly, I had a minor issue with Ko Sung-hee’s Ji-na, because she didn’t seem as naturally in-role as the other actors, but generally she was fine. She’s not a bad actress, just not exactly the perfect fit.

Park Hyung-sik and Jang Dong-geun though – just wow. These two actors had never worked before (not to my knowledge), but the bromance is definitely strong in this pair. Hyung-sik had no problem as a hardworking genius (albeit very cocky), and JDG was just suave from start to finish. I think PHS is clearly a very talented actor, but JDG really shows how experienced he is when he pays attention to tiny actions and details. They really made it feel like I was enjoying a movie rather than a drama, which is not something I’ve experienced since Goblin? I think. Someone really needs to bring these two actors together again in another production. I won’t say they carried the show because it discredits the rest of the cast, but they were the ones that truly breathed the life into this drama. I honestly can’t imagine anyone else being casted for their roles.

Mentee or replica?

 

 Plot – I’ve heard about how the original Suits has 7 seasons, and apparently they kinda crammed it into 16 episodes for the Korean one – please correct me if I’m wrong. But for all that cramming, I truly enjoyed how fast-paced the drama was. Every episode was well-timed, exciting, and truly kept me on my seat from start to end. You know how some K-dramas just drag some of the episodes out with nothing happening except like some petty squabble? You’ll have none of it here in Suits. I don’t know if I was the only one, but every episode felt like part of a long, continuous movie to me. That is exactly how tight the plot is.

There’s one thing I really, really want to highlight – the ending. I know, very typical that bad guys get their desserts served by the end of the show. But for the main lead to get the punishment he deserves too? Hold up right there. I was actually a bit shocked at how it went because K-drama scriptwriters are so good at wriggling the leads out of sticky situations (looking right at you DOTS) that I think it’s one of the rare few times I ever saw the male lead going to jail and not getting the glorified hero’s welcome. Actually, it’s probably the only time.

OST – Do check out VROMANCE’s Now, one of my favourite songs in this drama’s OST. I think it really encapsulates the drama by prompting action and tense emotions, which adds to the intensity of every episode.


The Bad

It’s one of those rare few reviews where I can’t pick any faults out.

If I had to be nit-picky, like really nit-picky, I would probably choose some of the bad guys as being – well, too stereotypical. I feel like they are very typical K-drama antagonists – downright evil, cunning, hates on the good guys so much that you wonder why. However, one saving grace is Geun-sik. Throughout the show, he’s portrayed as this annoying character who keeps trying to thwart the good guys, but you realize in the end that he’s just like any other ambitious (but sadly, severely lacking) person who wants recognition and to be on an equal footing as his colleague. I know this trope is has been used before (think Harry Potter), but it’s still uncommon in K-dramaland, so I’ll give this a thumbs-up for the effort made.

Definitely harmless.


 Final Verdict

I know the fact that it’s a legal drama can throw some people off with the misconception that it’s going to be boring, but that frankly does no justice to the fantastic plot and cast strung together by this production team. Even if you are watching this having watched the American one, I suggest to put aside your prejudices so that you can better enjoy this show for what it simply is – a masterpiece.

Anyone knows if a 2nd season might be in the works? 👀


Rating

Plot: ✮✮✮✮✮
Cast: ✮✮✮✮✮
Cinematography: ✮✮✮✮✮
Pace: ✮✮✮✮✮
OST: ✮✮✮✮✮

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[REVIEW] 몬스타엑스 (MONSTA X) – 하얀소녀 (White Love)

Recently I’ve been listening to many songs & artistes outside of my usual music playlist, which is fantastic because I actually find many gems.

I had listened to MONSTA X’s songs before and loved a few of them, but never really got around to listening to more of their songs. I’m not sure what inspired me, but I got back to listening to their recent releases and actually discovered a few songs that really got me hooked. White Love (from [EP] THE CLAN pt. 2 ‘GUILTY’) is one of these songs that I found myself replaying every day ~

While the title is admittedly very controversial (it literally translates to ‘White Girl’, and not exactly ‘White Love’), it actually refers to a girl that is pure and not fair-skinned.

The tune is very catchy and definitely invokes images of a white (snowy) Christmas. The lyrics, on the other hand, are very straightforward: the unrequited love of a guy for a pure girl. If you don’t understand Korean it would be nice to just listen to the song, but reading the lyrics may make you cringe a tiny bit:

White girl I hope that you love me
White girl I wanna love your heart
White girl I hope that you adore me
White girl you are a pretty girl

Frankly, I love the vocals a lot, and it’s even more impressive that even the rappers are singing in this ballad. The MV is very nicely filmed – can I also just say that I love this pastel hue that’s been frequently seen in K-pop MVs these days? It softens the look and gives the song a nuance that comes with ‘rose-tinted’ videos.

At 2.1 million views, I think this song definitely deserves more people listening to it, so go give it a try if you haven’t!


Rating

Melody: ✮✮✮✮✮
Lyrics: ✮✮✮
MV: ✮✮✮✮
Longevity: ✮✮✮✮

[PD101 Season 2] 5 Most Memorable Performances

I finally got around to watching Produce 101 last December (yes, I’m always extremely late to the game), and I’ve honestly never felt so emotional watching a reality show. Before I actually watched it, I had already listened to Wanna One’s songs and loved them, so I thought I wouldn’t be too emotionally attached to the other contestants.

I WAS WRONG.

That being said, I do have a few favourite performances from the show, some of which are so good that I keep going back to watch and listen. I’m still in awe of how professional they are despite the fact that they are only trainees who have yet to debut. Here is a list of my top 5 favourite performances.


Downpour

(Hyunbin, Jisung, Jaehwan, Sungwoon, Minhyun)

Downpour is my favourite I.O.I song, and having these amazing vocals sing it live easily made this performance one of my favourites. Of course, it also helps that it hits you right in the feels when you look at Jisung encouraging Hyunbin (who bravely took on the vocal challenge) gently from the side. Coupled with Jaehwan’s stable high notes and a perfect blend of harmonies from all 5, there’s no way you wouldn’t love this performance.


Sorry Sorry

(Hyunbin, Daniel, Seongwoo, Jonghyun, Jaehwan, Minhyun)

Taking on this legendary K-pop song takes a lot of bravery, and this team definitely doesn’t shy away from it. This team is a fantastic combination of some of the best vocals, rappers, and dancers (maybe except Hyunbin, who is a real klutz) in Produce 101, and is one of the best Sorry Sorry covers that I’ve ever heard.


Be Mine

(Hoe Seung, Kim Chan, Hee Soo, Ji Han, Jae Woo, Ye Hyeon)

I honestly hoped that this team would win – reality, however, was that the team with more popular members won. Admittedly, I’m not familiar with all members of the team, but Hoe Seung really shone in this performance. He even reminded me (and a lot of other viewers) of Nam Woohyun, the main vocalist of INFINITE, with his stable high notes and humour off-stage. With such a powerful interpretation of an INFINITE classic, I can only lament that it’s a huge pity that none of them made it to the final 11.


Amazing Kiss

(Heeseok, Gunhwi, Dongsu, Seongheok)

In this vocal evaluation, a team that had to cover BoA’s Amazing Kiss seemed destined for failure. It didn’t help that Heeseok made an error at the beginning, but they more than made up for it by delivering a performance that earned them the most votes that day, despite not being in the list of popular contestants. Again, a true pity that despite having shown how talented they can be, none of them made the final cut.


Never

(Minhyun, Jaewan, Seongwoo, Woojin, Jonghyun, Daehwi, Guanlin)

While watching this performance, the trainers were full of praise, saying that this group looked ready to debut, and they weren’t exaggerating. Slick dance moves, impeccable vocals, precise rap, and many dashing faces – which idol group could get better than this? The irony about this is that Jonghyun, despite his stellar performance here, was surprisingly left out of the final 11.

 

[REVIEW] WANNA ONE – 1-1=0 (Nothing Without You)

Wanna One (워너원) – 1-1=0 (NOTHING WITHOUT YOU)

Release Date: 2017.11.13
Genre: Ballad, Dance
Language: Korean

Track List:
01. Nothing Without You (Intro.)
02. Beautiful *Title
03. 갖고 싶어
04. Twilight
05. 활활 (Burn It Up) (Prequel Remix)
06. 에너제틱 (Energetic) (Prequel Remix)
07. Wanna Be (My Baby)
08. 에너제틱 (Energetic)
09. 활활 (Burn It Up)
10. To Be One (Outro.)
11. Wanna Be (My Baby) (Premier Show-con Live Ver.)

I’ve been meaning to review this for some time after I bought the album, but never actually got down to doing it. I’m in fact still watching backlogged episodes of Produce 101 Season 2, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying Wanna One’s music.

The intro, Nothing Without You, is so good that it honestly deserves to be much longer. I am frankly very disappointed whenever it ends so quickly because it has a lot of potential to be developed into a longer track. The great harmonization in the intro is also a great transition to the title track, Beautiful. It’s a lovely and catchy ballad that really sticks in your mind. Personally, I really liked this track the best out of all the songs on the album. It’s a nice change from their previously sunny and energetic (haha) dance tracks on their first album and really shows how versatile this group can be.

There aren’t really many B-side tracks on this album, but my favourite one is probably Twilight. Do keep an ear out for it!

Some of the other songs (Energetic and Burn It Up) on the album are not totally unfamiliar to fans or listeners familiar with Wanna One, but their remix versions are fresh to the ears, especially after you have replayed the original versions a little way too often.

I would say that this album is a great listen from start to finish, which is often the case with albums putting in B-side tracks which sound like fillers. My only gripe (?), or rather wish, is that they had put out more original songs, instead of remixes. Fans would definitely want to hear a lot more fresh content from a group that’s contractually bound to disband this December, right?


Rating: ✮✮✮✮

Buy the album here on iTunes.

10 Favourite OST Songs (2017)

If I had to pick one thing I love most about K-dramas, I would definitely pick the OST (common sense would have dictated that I should have said the plots, but personal experience tells me otherwise).

Here are my top 10 favourite OST songs that I kept putting on repeat in 2017:


1. Lucid Dream – Monogram

(While You Were Sleeping)


2. A Lot Like Love – Baek A Yeon

(Scarlet Heart: Ryeo)


3. Your Garden – Jung Eunji

(Strong Woman Do Bong Soon)


4. I Will Go To You Like The First Snow – Ailee

(Goblin)


5. Become Each Other’s Tears – Hyolyn

(Hwarang)


6. I Love You Boy – Suzy

(While You Were Sleeping)


7. You Are – Seunghee

(Temperature of Love)


8. Maze – Kim Na Young

(While You Were Sleeping)


9. When Night Falls – Eddy Kim

(While You Were Sleeping)


10. Because of You – Moon Taeil

(The Merchant)


Are any of these songs in your favourite OST playlist as well? Comment and share which ones!

[REVEW] While You Were Sleeping

While You Were Sleeping (Hangul: 당신이 잠든 사이에; RR: Dangshini Jamdeun Saie) is a 2017 South Korean television series starring Lee Jong-suk, Bae Suzy, Lee Sang-yeob, Jung Hae-in and Ko Sung-hee. It aired on SBS from September 27 to November 16, 2017 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 22:00 (KST) time slot for 32 episodes.


First Impressions

Frankly, I was not super keen on watching this because of Suzy. I had seen her previous works, and yet only liked her acting in Dream High.

However, the mere fact that Lee Jong Suk was acting in it was enough to get me started. He always has fantastic chemistry with his female leads (Park Shin Hye, Han Hyo Joo etc.), and even male ones (cough Kim Woo Bin cough). I was of course still not fully convinced that he would be a good match with Suzy – not until I saw snippets of the drama on Facebook. Suzy’s acting looked pretty decent in it, so I thought I’d be fair and judge her only after I watched this.


The Good

Cast – Jong Suk is such a gem, and always will be. As a young prosecutor fresh in the industry, Jong Suk’s character is hilarious and serious at all the right times. He can dole out his trademark puppy eyes and melt your heart, then transition to a justice-serving superhero in the next moment. I don’t know how he does it, but I’m just glad that he can. It’s not a role totally unfamiliar to him if you have seen him in other dramas, but it’s always a masterpiece worth appreciating.

Suzy was a real dark horse here. For all the flak that we sometimes give her for her unconvincing and stiff acting, she actually fit into her role pretty well this time. Sassy, cheerful, yet brooding and self-depreciating, Suzy really brings you on a rollercoaster ride through her character’s journey to self-acceptance and growth. She isn’t overshadowed by Jong Suk – no, not at all. You see her trying as hard as her character to do her best in everything, and it kind of touched me.

Jung Hae-in was a lovely new kid on the block, and I’m just angry that he wasn’t given a bigger role in the drama despite the obvious fact that he was supposed to be a love rival. If Jong Suk is the glamorous male lead, Hae-in would be the guy next door that you might never really take notice of. Actually, you might notice since he’s good-looking, but in the drama it seemed like Suzy’s character was quite oblivious to that fact. Ah well.

Lee Sang Yeob was every part the despicable lawyer (and ex-prosecutor). It gave me a shock to see how sweet he was on a recent episode of Running Man because he was so convincing as a scheming guy in this drama.

Every other actor made the drama feel almost like home. The other prosecutors, family members, criminals, victims – no one felt out of place, which really helped the story to progress smoothly.

 Plot – There’s a bit of a supernatural element to this drama, but nothing drastic enough to throw viewers off. The only problem is that it sometimes seems to solve problems a little too easily, but again, nothing really drastic.

I think my favourite part about this drama’s plot is that every character has an important role to play, be it a major or minor character. Everyone is there for a reason (much like my review of W), and at the end of every episode of the drama, you’d probably be clutching your heart from all the feelings that these characters are giving you. I love the plot twists and surprises, the sadness and the heartache, the relevations and the happiness at every point. I think it’s been some time since I’ve been so hooked on a drama (my last being Strong Woman Do Bong Soon).

Yah, your fate was written by the scriptwriter.

OST – Best OST I’ve heard in 2017, besides Goblin’s. I can’t even decide on my favourite one, but I think the song that touched my heart the most is probably Eddy Kim’s When Night Falls. It’s also the first time Jong Suk lends his voice to an OST, so please give it a listen!!


The Bad

Pace – Nothing much really irked me in this drama, but there were times I wished they wouldn’t keep inserting so many flashbacks. It really slowed down the drama a little, and I did think they could afford to speed up at certain parts.

Could I also add that the younger version of Jong Suk’s character is really cute?? Apparently, he acted as Jong Suk’s younger self in Pinocchio too HAHA


 Final Verdict

I listed this as no.2 on my top 5 dramas in 2017, so it really shows how much I enjoyed this. Brilliant, touching, and thought-provoking, this drama is yet another masterpiece in Jong Suk’s books. It’s definitely a breakthrough for Suzy and Hae-in, so you definitely should get around to watching this before their next work.


Rating

Plot: ✮✮✮✮
Cast: ✮✮✮✮✮
Cinematography: ✮✮✮✮✮
Pace: ✮✮✮
OST: ✮✮✮✮✮

Top 5 K-Dramas in 2017

As the year comes to a close, it is inevitable that I’ll have to do a roundup of some of the dramas I’ve loved in 2017.

2016 brought us Descendants of the Sun, which shot our real-life couple Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo to meteoric success. 2017 started off with a few dramas that technically started in 2016 but ended in 2017, so they made the list as well.


5/ Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo

A light-hearted drama that tackles serious issues such as the struggles of athletes and body image acceptance, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo was underrated during its air time in Korea. This is Nam Joo-hyuk and Lee Sung Kyung’s best drama performance to date, and the other cast shine in their own ways as well, making this an enjoyable show from start to finish.


4/ Fight For My Way

Again, more struggles of ordinary people with their life dreams. All 4 main characters will make you sigh and empathize with them as they fight for what belongs to them, even if they lose sight along the way. This is guaranteed to be a tear-jerker – I cried almost every episode because everything was so relatable.


3/ Strong Woman Do Bong Soon

This was the drama I was looking forward to the most this year. How could you not, with a plot where tiny Park Bo Young is the girl with superpowers and saves Park Hyungsik and Ji Soo? I love how this drama directly took on stereotypes and taught important lessons about self-acceptance and strength (literally and figuratively). Comedic, tearful and inspiring at all the right times, there’s no reason for you not to be watching this if you haven’t.


2/ While You Were Sleeping

I was a bit hesitant about watching this because of Suzy – her acting wasn’t known to be top-notch, and I didn’t feel like she would have a lot of chemistry with Lee Jong Suk. I was dreadfully wrong (but happily so) – Suzy showed that she could be as good as she needed to be, and Jong Suk really proved his mettle as one of Korea’s top actors. Plot-wise, it’s tight, coherent and guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. The delightful OST was also a nice bonus.


1/ Goblin

Need I say anymore? I’m a huge Gong Yoo fan because of this (yes, I came onboard the ship late) and I had lengthy discussions with my friends over EVERY episode because I was so emotionally attached to this drama. The cinematography was gorgeous (is Canada really so breathtaking?), and the OST really heightened the emotional experience in every episode.

I know the mythical aspect of the drama is not everyone’s cup of tea, and the lines also a bit cheesy, but Gong Yoo delivers! As always! What more can you ask for?! Special credit as well to Lee Dong Wook’s emotional (though mostly stoic) performance as the Grim Reaper and Sung Jae’s comedic relief.


I’m looking forward to watching more fantastic K-dramas in 2018 ~ Also big thank you to my readers, thank you for sticking around and taking time to read my reviews 🙂 See you in 2018!