Stories from the community: Trent’s story!

If you didn’t already know, we’ve got a special series to kick off the new year! Guests posts, by patrons on Patreon, sharing their personal drama stories, mostly around the topic of “How did you get into dramas?” and “What does your first drama mean to you?” – with flexibility to go off on personal tangents, of course. 😁 Feel free to share your stories too, in the comments!

This guest series is MC‘s brainchild (thanks MC! ❤️). You can check out the earlier posts in this series as follows: MCSeanShahzJJMartinaBethUyen, Ella & Leslie.

This is the last guest post in the series, and it’s brought to you by Trent, who, aside from Sean, is the other person whose time-bending skills I continue to marvel at. The number of dramas Trent manages to watch, while still leading a full life, continues to impress me – and he’s got lots of thoughtful observations on all of the dramas too, which also impresses me. Thanks, Trent, for making time to share your story with us!

You might also like to check out Trent’s blog, where he writes more drama thoughts!

I hope you guys enjoy!

~ KFG ❤️

My kdrama story thus far…

Hmmm. I’m worried that it’s really kind of a boring story, alas.  But as I’m sure you’d all agree, a proper story requires context, a bit of table-setting, right? (Unless you’re one of those pros who can pull off an in media res cold open, and yeah…I am only an egg, you know?).

So, I was born…wait.  That’s too much context.

Umm.  How about this: my main introduction to the cultures of East Asia was via China and Chinese. I took a year of Mandarin my sophomore year of college, and then ended up going off to Taiwan to live for a couple of years between sophomore and junior year.

I came back to the U.S., majored in Chinese language and Asian Culture, and then headed off to grad school with dreams of a Chinese literature PhD and a career teaching snot-nosed undergrads about the delights of the Zhuangzi dancing in my head.

Zhuangzi

Fast forward a couple years, and my grad school sojourn was flaming out on the dawning realization, that perhaps academia just wasn’t where I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

I headed off to my first full time job, in the localization department of a large software company. We had native speakers to translate the software into Chinese, but I was using my language skills to provide QA review of the final product for release to Chinese markets.

Now, I’d taken a couple of years of Japanese in grad school…but I’d largely managed to avoid much contact with Korean history, language, or culture, until that first job, when I had several Korean colleagues in the localization department.

I dated one them for a little while, and a couple others became pretty good friends. Did I start watching kdramas or learn Korean? Hah, hah, no (for one thing, this was mid-90s, so before Hallyu was really a big thing, I think, and also it was a bit different with them being Koreans in the U.S… where they were the ones really focused on fitting in and learning about American lifestyle).

I did learn Hangul and a few words, though (and surprisingly, found that I had remembered Hangul fairly well when I came back to it a couple years ago).

But that was it.

Now, one other snippet of context: I’ve never been a particularly dedicated watcher of television.

I grew up watching syndicated shows after school (OG Star Trek and M*A*S*H are two I particularly remember), and I had a few favorite shows that I followed through the 90s, post-college (ER, Buffy, Highlander, for example).

But then I got married and had a kid, and we just…never really watched TV; hardly saw any movies, even, for a number of years (to be honest, my leisure/hobby medium of choice had always been reading novels, mostly SFF novels – I read a lot growing up).

Long form visual story telling? Not so much; I think pre-kdrama, the only TV series that I really followed, beginning to end, in the last 15-20 years, has been Game of Thrones (at least in part because I was a huge fan of the books).

So. Why kdramas, and how?

I had heard the term kdrama before, but had only the vaguest notion what it referred to, and I am sad and ashamed to confess that I had somewhere, somehow, acquired the impression that they were akin to soap operas and therefore safe to condescend to.  Bad past me! (I also shouldn’t condescend to soap operas, I know.)

But then…then.  Covid-19 got serious in the U.S. in March 2019; that’s when the local and state government where I live (California) issued emergency orders to try to shut things down and put a halt to “non-essential” contact and activity.

I was designated to be the one to come in to the office daily and kind of hold down the fort, so to speak; everybody else stayed home and worked from home for the next three months or so.

I ended up having a lot of time on my hands; I was kind of bored; and I had fallen into a rut where I didn’t really feel like reading anything. I started idly browsing Netflix, even though I almost never watched anything there (our subscription was mostly used by my wife and daughter).

Netflix kept throwing up the trailer for this one drama: The King: Eternal Monarch. And after about the fifth or sixth time.. I was just bored enough and intrigued enough to hit play.

I think what intrigued me about it, enough to start the show at least, is the idea of a parallel world, which has always been an interesting narrative device to me (portal fantasies have a long and distinguished lineage in fantasy literature; think The Chronicles of Narnia, but also, say, The Fionavar Tapestry).

The initial setup was interesting enough, but it really got cooking for me when our young king in an alternate, present-day “Corean empire” went through the magical bamboo forest gate and emerged in Gwanghwamun Plaza in “our” world, only to come face-to-face with a plucky, no-nonsense police detective.

Now, at this point, I’d never heard of either Lee Min-ho or Kim Go-eun, but I was quickly captivated both by the “fish out of water” storylines of the king in our world and later, the police detective in his world, as well as the burgeoning attraction between the two.

I’ve since run across a number of more compelling romances in kdramaland, and I can understand those for whom the romance between the characters feels kind of forced, but for a complete newbie like me, man, that scene in episode 8 where she looks at him and says “I love you,” well.  I felt my heart skip a little beat, not gonna lie.

The “I love you” scene

As it happened, there were only eight episodes available at the time I started, and I binged through those quickly, and then it was really really hard waiting each week for a couple new episodes to arrive (a feeling that has since become all too familiar, argh!).

I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for this, my gateway drama, and that feeling of strangers connecting through a doorway to a whole alternate universe, even though it has long since been supplanted on my list of top favorites.

Okay, so when I hit the end of the available episodes for TK:EM and started my sad panda wait for new episodes, I was already sufficiently awakened to the cool new potential of kdramas -hey, dude, this stuff is actually good! It’s pretty compelling! (so my subconscious was saying to itself) – that the very first thing I did was start poking around to see what other shows might be interesting to see.

And that is how I became aware of Viki and non-Netflix sources of Asian drama at quite an early point in the journey. I don’t remember precisely how I became aware of it – I think it was some combination of Kim Go-eun (FL of TK:EM) and Kim Eun-sook (writer of TK:EM) that naturally led me to Guardian: the Lonely and Great God, aka Goblin – and I started it right away as I waited to finish TK:EM.

Goblin

I don’t remember the exact timeline, but I know I also binged Goblin fairly quickly, so there’s a fair-to-excellent chance that it’s the first kdrama I actually finished.

At this point it’s maybe useful to think for a minute about just what it is that makes a show compelling. And you know, I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and I’m not sure I have a really articulate answer.

An interesting story is certainly part of it; exciting or crisp or intelligent plotting definitely doesn’t hurt; great scenery, high production values, fun or charismatic or pulchritudinous cast all have a role.

But if there can be said to be a sine qua non of a truly compelling show, I think for me at least it comes down to the characters. How closely, deeply, truly, do I enter into their journey, and end up empathizing with their lives and their choices and their stories? How much do I feel for what happens with and to them?

As I cast my eye back over the 90+ shows that I’ve seen in the almost two years I’ve been at this (such a short time, I know!  I’m still a newbie, what place do I have talking about my “kdrama journey” like it’s an actual thing?! Yet here we are…), the ones that are the most memorable are the ones that I became deeply absorbed, for whatever reason, with at least some aspect of the characters in the show.

Other elements might suffer; the show, subjected to the strictest of analytical lenses, may not be that objectively good, but if I care about one or more of the characters…well, much is forgiven.

Which brings me circling back to Goblin.  Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, it seems like in addition to its wide popularity, it’s also fairly polarizing.

A lot of people just don’t get into it or care for it. And the thing is, I can understand!  It strikes me as the sort of show that if you don’t manage to enter into its premises and subject yourself to its particular spell, its flavor of magic will just pass you by. I get it; considered dispassionately, it has a number of flaws!

And yet, I fell captive to its spell.

The tale of the immortal goblin and his fated bride, the grim reaper and his entanglements from a past life, they sucked me in and started to matter to me. I think I ended up more or less crying through the last three or four episodes.

Parenthetically, I will just observe that this is one of the few instances where I think the amnesia trope actually works, where it appears organically as part of the story – if you accept the supernatural premises, that is (and if you don’t, you’re watching the wrong drama) – and furthers the narrative. A shame I ran into it done well, so early in my kdrama journey, otherwise I might have been inoculated against so many lazy uses of the trope later on.

If you are entangled with the characters and their story to that degree, it becomes almost all-consuming. It’s also emotionally exhausting, but hey, sometimes it feels good to just FEEL, you know? To let it all go, just have that ugly cry.

As the master put it, better than I ever could: “…he sang to them […] until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.” Yeah, sometimes it’s like that.

Well, after those first two shows, it’s safe to say I was kind of hooked, and I set out on an enthusiastic quest to find new gems to treasure.

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

In those early months, before stumbling across a network of wise old hands who could provide guidance and suggestions (I didn’t find this site until around November 2000), browsing Netflix and Viki, as well as using the Wikipedia listing of most popular kdramas by rating, as a springboard to finding new shows to watch were all invaluable.

Of course, as it turns out, not every show is going to plumb the depths of the human heart or leave you a quivering emotional wreck, but that’s probably for the best. And there have been enough gems out there to keep the quest for the next great show alive.

In the meantime, even shows that aren’t great or particularly emotionally compelling, often have something to recommend them, or provide a certain baseline level of entertainment.

When we strike gold, though, that’s when it’s really worthwhile. I’m thinking, for example, of the top three shows that I watched in my first year (2020): It’s Okay to Not Be Okay; Crash Landing on You; and Flower of Evil. What fantastically absorbing, interesting shows they were, each in their own way.

Crash Landing On You

Or my top three from last year: My Mister, Chuno, and Secret Love Affair. Is that not an incredible line-up of shows? (Last year was harder to pick the top, both because I watched a lot more shows, and also because I had the benefit of a more sophisticated selection algorithm.)

And hey, this year is off to an excellent start already: the first two shows I finished this year are The Red Sleeve, a sageuk that set its sights high, made complicated choices, and really transcended what it could have been in order to reach for greatness; and Our Beloved Summer, an utterly delightful romantic comedy with great characters and a core couple so real and nuanced and happy-making that I just want to watch them being cute and adorable together forever and ever.

Of course, not everything is going to be that good; it can’t be. The law of averages always wins, right? But it gives us hope to know there are still great shows out there waiting for us, to suck us in, to demand we laugh and cry and empathize and FEEL.

FEEL..

One last note,

..and I think it’s an important one.

For me, at least, an essential part of fully digesting, enjoying, and processing a show is the ability to discuss it, to write about it, to set down on paper (or in person, but finding the venue where that’s possible is tough) all the thoughts and feelings stimulated and engendered by a scene, a theme, a character.. what happened, and what do I think about it?

That’s why a forum that has an open ability to comment and a sympathetic or like-minded group of participants, like here or on KFG’s Patreon, is such a valuable, nay essential, component of living the kdrama life in full.

So thank you, one and all (and especially our host KFG for enabling us and making the forum possible) for being part of the community that rounds out the kdrama story.  It wouldn’t be the same without all of y’all’s voices, sharing your thoughts and reactions and recommendations.

~ Trent

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

102 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David
David
7 months ago

Nice story Trent. I noticed you didn’t get the warm intro from KFG like Leslie did – she “is sweet, wise and thoughtful, as she is unassuming and modest.” Damn – so lofty goals there – phd in chinese lit. But – localization, don’t get me wrong, it’s important, but I personally could never do that – props. And, I have used that alphabet picture when I started learning Hangul – if I can plug, there is a good vid on youtube from Korean friend Hailey (that’s her tagline) search for 21 vowels – explains it perfectly. I dropped Our Beloved Summer at episode 8 or 9 – got too repetitive for me, but may check it out again. Perhaps my fav korean moment was in Episode 7 where the two do a drunken dance. Interesting note on the kdrama discussion – agree about sharing.

I am curious if some of you thought about doing reviews on youtube. If nothing else, entertaining and potentially more exposure of the site. 

Trent
7 months ago
Reply to  David

Thanks, David. I have to admit I’ve never really considered doing anything on youtube; let’s just say that visual presentation is…probably not my strong suit, you know?

J3ffc
J3ffc
7 months ago

Wowza, Trent. Thanks for participating and for ending our group’s origin stories on such a fascinating note. I was already jealous of your writing skills in English, and being linguistically challenged myself, now I is really envious of your studies of Asian tongues. Super-impressive!

Like others have noted, I marvel at your ability to get in so many dramas in such a short period of time. Reading though the comments on the blog, it always seems to me that everybody has been watching these shows since the early Hallyu days, so finding otherwise has been among the biggest eye-openers of the whole series.

I’ve not seen The King: EM yet and may add it to the Neverending List; I’ll admit to being swayed from it by the negative comments I’ve seen both here and elsewhere. As a matter of fact, I’m thinking of adding all of the group’s first watches to the List as well, as each obviously had a big impact on some member of the community. And I’ll probably do Goblin as my next optional watch as soon as I’m done with Do You Like Brahms?

Thanks for sharing, Trent, and also thanks for being such an interacting and thoughtful member of the Verdict family. You always have something to say and express it beautifully. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of your blog, too, btw (read your review of Oh My Ghost) and otherwise wandered around a bit. And I would add my voice to you comments at the end, as have others: there is enough Good Stuff coming out of the global drama machine that there is every reason to hope that the next classic will be right around the corner.

And finally, thanks again to @kfangirl for offering the big stage to all of our colleagues. It’s been a privilege to hear your stories.

Trent
7 months ago
Reply to  J3ffc

Thanks, J3ffc, you’re too kind, truly. I don’t want to cheerlead too hard for TK:EM (that’s JJ’s job!), as it does have shortcomings, and I can see why a substantial chunk of the audience might not love it. I just retain a real fondness for it as the gateway. (not to be confused with Zuul, the gatekeeper 😂).

j3ffc
j3ffc
7 months ago
Reply to  Trent

I hear what you mean about Gateway Nostalgia! (Not to be confused with Keymaster Nostalgia 😉).

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  J3ffc

– I love this – “Verdict family”

beez
8 months ago

@Trent – I moseyed (mosied?) over to your blog but couldn’t even leave a “hi”. I kept hitting “reply” but it bounced me around. Then I realized that maybe that’s what @seank meant in his comment there about some other something “dream[something]”. Maybe it’s not WordPress and I’d have to create an account or something? That’s okay cause these days I’ve barely got time to see what’s going on in Kfangurl’s world. I just wanted you to know that I did stop by. 👋

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  beez

@beez — thanks for visiting! The dirty little secret, of course, is that my last update/entry over there was last September. I keep having grand ambitions to get back to it, but, well…so far haven’t realized those ambitions, let’s just say. Part of it is that a lot of my kdrama writing energy ends up getting expended here and on Patreon, now. Oh well.

And yeah, it’s not a WordPress platform, it’s DreamWidth, which was like an independent heir to LiveJournal that sprang up a few years back (I think when everyone was afraid that LJ was being bought by some shady Russian connection or something–I was never that clear). Usually when you hit “reply” to a post, it will reveal a box you can type in your thoughts, and then below there’s a link for “post comment”. Sorry it wasn’t working for you…comments always welcome!

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  Trent

@Trent – have you thought of compiling your comments made here and posting them on your blog (maybe with a bit of intro explanation)?

Trent
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@beez — it’s an intriguing idea! I think I’m probably more likely to use what I write here to kind of solidify what I think about a given show or issue in the ol’ bean, so that it will flow more smoothly if I ever get around to writing about the same show or issue on the blog…

beez
8 months ago

@Trent – I’m so glad you liked Goblin. You retain your “cool” status in my book. 👍😄

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  beez

@beez — Whew! I was sweatin’ it, let me tell you!! 😁😂

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
8 months ago

Another great story from Trent! Happy to see some of my favorites on your list. It’s Okay To Not Be Okay definitely deserves a rewatch!

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

Thanks, Snow Flower! Yeah, IOTNBO was a great show, wasn’t it?

Sam Butler
8 months ago

Ah, Goblin. What a wonderful show. But not the one that pulled my wife and me in, which would be Strong Woman. Goblin, however, was the show that convinced us that switching to k-dramas was the right choice. Stories with endings! Without the American curse of beating a dead horse through season after season after season! Plus they do sf/f so much better too, which is why the only Americans we find who also like k-dramas as much as we do are usually sf/f fans as well. Thanks for the post.

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  Sam Butler

Thanks, Sam. I agree with you that one draw of the standard kdrama format is that it’s a discrete story package that finishes its journey and is done.

(Usually–we occasionally see a popular show get a second, sometimes now even a third, season. Voice even went four! And that’s setting aside the family dramas that run up to/into a hundred+ episodes, which is like 4-5 “seasons,” at least, in the old U.S. format that I’m most used to, back when I was younger. I don’t have the fortitude for those, although Sean and some others are familiar with them, I think).

Leslie
Leslie
8 months ago

Trent, I love your post, and I’m not surprised. I felt like I was walking your early kdrama journey with you, pleased by the similarities and interested in the differences. It also made me wonder, whatever made me game to try reading subtitles for 16 episodes, during my first couple dramas?! It really wasn’t my thing back in the day (you know, 2-3 years ago.) Now my frequent refrain to my husband is, can we talk later, I’m reading my kdrama? 😂 Thankfully, he gets it.

You identified a category, portal fantasies, that I should explore further, because I really liked that element in Goblin, and loved it in the Chronicles of Narnia – might be that traveler thing in me, with the benefit of speed to destination. As pre-teens, my best friend and I would walk around the neighborhood at night (back when parents allowed such thing), find a good street lamp, and wish with all of our might that we would be taken to Narnia. Such was the power of a good story, that more than once we’d look at each other and say “That almost worked this time, right?” I have not been drawn to TKEM, but this element might entice me to give it a go.

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

Leslie, thanks! I felt the same, reading your post. I was like, hey, that sounds like my reaction or my experience, too! And yeah, it is definitely interesting how quickly subtitles became second-nature, so I almost don’t even notice them (until I turn my head to look at something else, and realize that no, I don’t actually understand Korean dialogue yet). I happened to be passing by someone watching Squid Game a few weeks ago, and they were watching the dubbed version, and I think I actually recoiled in horror! It just felt so…wrong, you know?

Yes, many a kid has entertained fantasies of finding a lamppost or a magic wardrobe that will open to reveal a whole new world on the other side…

Leslie
Leslie
8 months ago
Reply to  Trent

Same. “Let me just check this email”, does not work. The back arrow on my laptop is well-worn.

Natalia
Natalia
8 months ago

Trent, your post made me think how much our lives have changed in the past 2 years. Our acquaintance with Kdramaland being the positive side!

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  Natalia

@Natalia — it’s true, a lot has changed, it seems, in the last couple years. I would definitely consider the kdrama odyssey a positive, a silver lining in the generally cloud-strewn horizon…

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  Natalia

Natalie – well said!

Martina Conte
Martina Conte
8 months ago

Trent what an interesting life you had and have …❤️ you could make the plot of a kdrama out of it….

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  Martina Conte

Aw, Martina, you make me chuckle.. I suppose if you squint at it, it maybe looks sort of interesting? Of course I am just mentioning the sort-of interesting parts!

I will admit that I did a thing or two that was kinda sorta adventurous, back when I was a lot younger. But it’s been pretty steady and unglamorous for quite awhile now, I’m afraid…

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
8 months ago

Trent – I started my day with your post and what a lovely way to start! I read it twice it was so good.

There were a few things that caught my eye – as per our comments a while back, I also cried buckets while watching Goblin. Then, I sat up while reading this line – “there are still great shows out there waiting for us, to suck us in, to demand we laugh and cry and empathize and FEEL“. I think this is the heart and soul of KDrama. We all tend to get caught up in the daily rat race and to do so, have put a lot of our lives on auto pilot. KDrama is the chance to stop and FEEL.

Thanks for a super post Trent!

Leslie
Leslie
8 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

@phlrxd – That line stood out for me, as well. (@Trent – thanks for the line!)

The ability to make us FEEL is one of the great gifts of kdrama. I find it a little hard to explain to people unfamiliar with the genre, because it can sound soapy or Hallmark-y (which shows, have their value, but kdrama can’t be understood by understanding them.) The few who watch even one show, however, get it and like it for the same reason. How interesting that it feels rare to experience the emotional resonance elsewhere in modern life, and so, many of us get hooked on the emotional fix here in kdrama.

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Thank you, phl1rxd! Twice, even, I feel SEEN!!

Yes, it is not just a chance to stop and feel after coasting through another sometimes-numbing day, it is the evidence and indication that we are still ABLE to feel, that we have the capacity to be touched and to care…that in itself is often unexpectedly moving as well.

MC
MC
8 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Same here. I really loved that line. Kdramas, I feel, out of so many shows I’ve watched in my life, have consistently been able to draw me in and make me feel. The power of good storytelling! Thank you for this, I feel that I’ve gotten to know you better and I think your mandarin chinese might be better than mine (even as a native speaker.. oops).

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  MC

@MC — aw, trust me, I would never compare my Mandarin to a native speaker. That’s just another step up. I have met people who learned, say, English as a second language and who have mastered it well enough that I would say they speak as well (in some cases better, yes) as a native speaker, but I am not on that level with Mandarin. I can communicate, usually pretty well, let’s put it that way…

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
8 months ago

This is a great post, Trent. I felt like I was having an actual conversation with you. One of the challenges is certainly finding content that will ensure the drama watching journey continues. I have dropped six shows alone this week now, which is also up against a viewing wilderness for a week or two until the next batch of shows unleash themselves. Here’s to some awesome viewing ahead 😊

JJ
JJ
8 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

– which Shows did you drop? Since you are waiting for next batch of Shows to drop, why dont you go back and finish TKEM 🙂

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago
Reply to  JJ

Nice try again, JJ 😂 Apart from Bad and Crazy, I dropped The Ghost Doctor (Rain was too shouty in this 🤣) and Moonshine (I slept my way through the first two eps). As for Cdramas: Operation Special Warfare (had real potential), Win The Future (this could have been excellent) and Lucky With You (two of my favourite actors in this and it just missed the mark badly).

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Sean – I was going to check out Lucky with you (Huang Jing Yu is so incredibly intense even when he is not trying to be intense), but put it on the back burner, I did think this would be one that you would check out due to the bodyguard aspect. I will keep your comments in mind if I decide to go forward with this.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Phl – The Cdramas I am watching at the moment are: Vacation of Love 2 (it’s a northeastern story – great fun, fiery women and with that that style of filming that is different to the usual churned out dramas. It has terrible machine subs at times – some of the language translated is rather fruity to say the least). The other is The Autumn Ballard – great interaction between the leads. Both have very experienced actors that set shows apart from others.

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

@seank – So nobody’s watching Kitchen Cupid except me?

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – I am watching Cupid’s Kitchen and I am on E24. Typical modern CDrama fare (cray-cray SL/SL mother, not a lot of logic and some all around bad character behavior), but the differences are the great food footage (I am literally salivating over here looking at the food porn), and Ethan Yuan. Even when they pull the tired, old ‘bi-polar character arc writing excuse‘, I am still going to watch for those two reasons. Food and Ethan Yuan, yes Ma’am!

Last edited 7 months ago by phl1rxd
beez
7 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

SL mother?

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – I should have spoiler tagged that sentence, yes?

Mild spoiler
The FSL and her cray cray mom.

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Second Lead. Oh. Thanks. lol

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Thanks, Sean. As always, in awe of the sheer amount of content you manage to power through. I need to learn from you guys how to be more willing to pull the trigger on under-performing shows. As it is, I tend to stick them out just to say I finished them. But it does look like we have a number of promising offerings coming up to the plate a little later this month…

beez
8 months ago
Reply to  Trent

@Trent – at first I could not drop a show no matter how terrible. A bit of OCD. It really helped once I started keeping a separate list of the shows that I’ve dropped (and at which episode). That way that niggling part of my brain can accept that I could always pick them back up if someone stated how good it became later on. 😄

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  beez

@beez — I hear you! I feel that same sort of compulsive tug…I just have to finish this mediocre show, just to say I finished it! I’ve still only dropped three shows all this time! (which I define as giving up on after I’ve watched at least 3-4 episodes, not just checked out all or part of the first episode to see what it looks like).

(My three: Backstreet Rookie, about 5 episodes in (just could not continue with the romantic set-up between Ji Chang-wook and Kim Yoo-jung, plus I found the ongoing subplot of the secondary character in dreadlocks and how it treated Afro-Caribbean culture really really bad/off-putting); Kill Me, Heal Me, 7 episodes in (just couldn’t acclimate to Screechy, plus just wasn’t drawn in or very interested by ML’s various personas); and Dali and the Cocky Prince, about 10 episodes in (I’ve gone on about this one at more length elsewhere, but it was mostly about the ML, who I found super-shouty and off-putting, and the chemistry in the OTP, which I didn’t buy at all).

Jiyuu
Jiyuu
8 months ago
Reply to  Trent

Oh. Does this mean you have an ear for soothing, well-modulated voices too? Seeing as how you described Dali and the Cocky Prince as super-shouty and Kill Me, Heal Me as super screechy.

Kim Yoo Jung has a nice voice so I ended up finishing Lovers of the Red Sky partly just to hear her speak—but not enough for me to go beyond episode 2 of Backstreet Rookie.

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  Jiyuu

Jiyuu — I mean, not necessarily; it’s probably asymmetrical? I’m no more adept at evaluating or susceptible to soothing voices than the next person. And really, it wasn’t just the tone of voice on those characters, it was the overall package–how their voices were part of the overall characterizations. They just left me feeling kinda antagonistic.

I do otherwise have no problem with Kim Min-jae, and look forward to seeing him in Do You Like Brahms.

And I generally like Kim Yoo-jung (and Ji Chang-wook, as well), I thought she was delightful in Love in the Moonlight, and she wasn’t the weak link in the otherwise fairly anodyne Lovers of the Red Sky; she was just very ill-served by the script and characterization in Backstreet Rookie, IMO.

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  Jiyuu

@Trent – @Jiyuu reminded me that i meant to mention Backstreet Rookie too. I can’t figure out why there was no chemistry? Maybe it was the Shirley Temple syndrome?

Jiyuu
Jiyuu
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

Did you drop it too Beez? The first episode was alright but I couldn’t see any clear or pressing reason for me to keep watching beyond though. Perhaps I wasn’t in the mood for a romcom that day? Or I wanted a more complex story at the time? Or maybe I prefer my romance series where guys are doing the chasing rather than vice versa? I did put Backstreet Rookie under my “might watch again” list—but I probably never would 🙂

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  Jiyuu

@jj – Heavens to Betsy! No way! Devoted K-fangirls never, ever, drop a drama that has their bias! 😄 I suffered through Backstreet Rookie just like I suffered through Melting Me Softly and, to a lesser extent, The K2. Oh! And I almost forgot that bucket of misery – Lovestruck in the City.

I cut Backstreet Rookie a whole lot of slack since it is based on a webtoon. *sigh* (That’s not a good sigh)

Melting Me Softly had a fun sounding premise but the writing was just stoopid. And this is coming from me – a person who loves The Girl Who Can See Smells ❤ which is an even stupider premise but the writing is fun and somehow makes it work.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – I have to give you a ton of credit for powering your way through Backstreet Rookie. Really, a ton of credit!

Trent
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@beez — it’s a good question; sometimes the age gap matters more than others, and a very fresh-faced 21 year old Kim Yoo-jung getting together with a 32 year old Ji Chang-wook was already a stretch, and then the second factor was Ji Chang-wook was leaning hard into his nebbishy, bumbling nerd incarnation (which can work great in small doses, as we are about to see once again when we all watch Healer again together), and that was a real chemistry killer, I think…

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  Trent

@Trent – I know it’s very old fashioned of me but big age gaps have never been a problem for me (except when it comes to noona romances). When I said “Shirley Temple syndrome”, I meant that when Shirley Temple tried to transition to films as an adult – her star power fizzled. It just didn’t work. People weren’t prepared to see her in an adult relationship/capacity. I don’t know how everyone else felt about Kim Yoo-jung in the scantily clad clothes, but I wasn’t ready. 😆 But in her other “adult” drama – Clean With Passion For Now – I couldn’t handle it either and she was mostly dressed in baggy sweats. But all the kissing scenes disturbed me. I feel so dumb writing that! But it’s true. The drama just didn’t grab me and didn’t give me my Kdrama feels and I’m not sure if it was the writing, the actors, or the Shirley Temple syndrome that made me unable to get into it.

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  Trent

@Trent – I agree with you that watching the first episode is not enough to know whether a show will be a total disaster or the best thing you’ve ever seen. A good example of that is Rooftop Prince. The first episode has almost nothing to do with the rest of the show and yet you need it just to establish things.

Wow! You dropped Cocky Prince at episode 10?! It is really hard for me to leave something that I’ve watched 10 or more episodes of. At that point it feels like a waste of 10 hours and I’m telling myself “Well you’ve almost finished it now. You might as well…”

Trent
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@beez — I know! Generally I am in your boat; once I’ve gotten a good two-thirds into a show, I’m usually like, even if I’m not that engaged, I’m just going to finish this sucker off, prove I can getter done.

With Cocky Prince, I’d been having issues with the ML and also the OTP, but I’d been kind of going with it anyway, thinking it might smooth out at some point, plus I love the FL (Park Gyu-young), both in general and the character here (except for inexplicably liking the ML, go figure). But then I got about 15-20 minutes into episode 10, and the ML was still being a shouty pinhead (IMO), and I thought to myself, you know what? I’m just not going to like this guy or this OTP at any point, am I? Why continue to subject myself to this to prove a point? And…that was it. Dunzo.

(I’ve explained this before, so apologies to anyone who is feeling bored reading the same explanation for the second or third time.. 😘)

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  Trent

@Trent – thanks for explaining it – again – for me. 😊

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago
Reply to  Trent

Cheers Trent – I have been trying to write a post for a little while now about how I manage to bend space and time to power through what I watch. It’s not going well 😂 I’m not sure it’s something I should be proud of, anyway! I will make a prediction that you will get to the point of being able to drop a drama – its almost like a right of passage 😉 I am looking forward to whats on offer shortly 😎

Trent
7 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

I will probably get more practiced at heaving under-performing shows over the gunwale, yes.

There are some fresh new prospects coming over the transom in the next couple weeks, so…finishing the current slate off just in time!

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

@seank – I’m waiting with bated breath! You have no idea how obsessed I am or how much time I spend speculating – I bet he fast forwards a lot. Yup. That’s got to be it. 🤔

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – I hope you won’t be disappointed when I make the big reveal 😎

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Sean – I am with Miz B. I am also waiting for this explanation. I cannot keep up with you even though I watch a ton of dramas. I know that you have a demanding schedule only made more restrictive over the last two years. And yet, you surge forward like the charge of the light brigade. You are amazing sir!

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Phl – To you and Miz B – Yes, I have been pushed a bit of late. However, I have started work on it though. I am a student of the Charge of the Light Brigade! There are many great lessons to be learned from it. I know what it feels like to have canons going off all around me, that is for sure, but onward I ride 😂

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

@Seank – if you could only see inside my mind as I picture a caricature of Sean intently watching a Kdrama on one screen while typing on another handling his bureaucratic duties, his feet typing comments on The KFG Verdict on a third computer – all while literal cannons are being fired out the window from around his desk and him ducking incoming cannon fodder! 🤣🤣🤣

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – I can, I really can picture this…

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – That is awesome 😂😎 – I am going to use it in my post. Also, I have my earbuds in and The 1812 Overtue is playing at full boar, in sync with the incoming canon fodder 💣💥 💣

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Sean – I can picture that as well 😅🤣😂😆🙄😉😁😄😃😶😮😉😅

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Phl – that’s exactly how it was yesterday 😂🤣😂🤣

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

@sean – I wish my drawing was better these days, I’d make it for you. 😄

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – that would be awesome 😎

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez @Sean – I am going to try this. My Wacom is out of service so let me see if I can pick up some needed vectors to do this…this may take a good while.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez @Sean – Ok, no canons explosions because it did not look right, though I did try. There are hidden little goodies in here so look good. I ‘gots Foot issues again 🙄…but the rest is OK. That was fun!

Sean multitasking.jpg
seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

@phl @Beez – what can I say, phl! This is beyond awesome 😎 😎😎 Thank you so much for doing this. I just love all the little details. I am very fond of wombats, had many encounters with kangaroos and nearly just as many encounters with emus. And you even have the West Aussie flag in there 🤗

The six arms do come in handy 😂🤣😂 I love the 10,000 episode membership card 😉 The Hawaiian shirt is fabulous – I must get the design 😆 The Fangirl Verdict on my tablet is a nice little touch.

What more can I say?: Time is but an illusion and I will treasure this pictorial always, phl 😊

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Sean – so glad you like it! I have another one that is a little more personal that I will email to you in a few days. I put it together from bits of vector files I purchased, so note that I did not draw this -.I just utilized the bits I needed and changed them to fit. As I said, my Wacom is down and I need a new one, but I have been too idle of late to really need to replace it. I did study your glasses to make them correct though. 😆 The guitar was a must, as was the clock nod to the Stones . 🥰 Think of it as an appreciation for all the great recommendations over the years. The cannon fodder was an exciting concept but I just could not get it to look the way I wanted it to – sorry Miz B. Let’s face it – Beez has an great imagination. I am down for the silly.

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Hey! Did I just get called silly! 😖🤪

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – I just love your imagination and yes, it is really funny, even silly. 🤣😂😅 I love it. As soon as I read one of your imagination posts I instantly see it in my head. So I guess that makes both of us quite silly. Laughter is needed these days so thanks for the inspiration. Reminds me of Carol Burnett Show and In Loving Color shows. I never missed any of those shows and still watch reruns of both and laugh like it first time. Classic comedy right there.

Last edited 7 months ago by phl1rxd
beez
7 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

– I loved Carol Burnett’s show. That reminds me, I just watched a documentary on Betty White yesterday. I think it was on Hulu. Lots of talking heads of actors who worked with her (a wide variety of people) and clips of her work and, of course, talk show clips. True genius.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Carol Burnett was awesome. Those moments of when she got the giggles and couldn’t stop laughing – classic.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Hello phl, thank you for the appreciation. Your attention to detail is fabulous, the glasses are spot on. Time is on my side, yes it is, yes it is! I enjoy playing the Stones on the guitar 😊 Miz B. does have a wonderful imagination and knows how to be silly in the best possible way 😃

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Awww shucks! You guys! *blushing kicking my imaginary tin can*

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – The Verdict wouldn’t be the same without you 😊

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

*speechless*

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

@Sean @ phl1rxd – I had to blow it up really big so I could see all the details Sean has mentioned. That’s really amazing!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

Thanks Miz B!

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – phl has done an amazing job here 😉

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

AWESOME! That’s talent! (I’m assuming that’s like Photoshop which gave me all types of stress and I never could learn how to make a curved line but somehow I managed to pass the class.)
All it’s missing is the cannon ball (and me crouching down just barely out of sight) firing it the next time he disparages CCHUNO! got my typing stuttering, I’m so mad!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – it is Illustrator, which is my nemesis. I have a love/hate relationship with it. Not so with Photoshop which I use every day, all day.

I tried everything to get that canon in there – seriously. I did get that foot in there though 😊 because that was hysterical. I then added some specials just for him. 😉 Thanks for your inspiration! Had a ball!

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

I had to pull it up and look at it again. You did get the foot in there. 😆 And I noticed even more stuff every time I look at it. His official 10,000 episodes card which I thought was a credit card at first. 😆 But pray tell me what is Sean doing with two Daesang awards?

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – For his time management skills. 😉

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Ahhhh. I can’t deny he deserves it. (He can also use them to stir up his witch’s brew.)

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

😂🤣😂

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

– no. no, no. I love it so much I downloaded it!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – 😂🤣😅

kate
kate
8 months ago

I loved your post, Trent. 😍

I can relate to a lot of aspects in your story. I, too didn’t really watch TV until I finished my PhD (biology), during a postdoc stint in NYC where everyone watched LOST and you needed to to know what’s what in order to socialize lol

I also was only peripherally aware of kdrama and thought it akin to South American telenovelas (my mom watched them for Spanish practice when I was growing up). So shame on me as well 😂

Also started watching kdrama only during the pandemic, coming up on 2 years now 😮

I have yet to watch TK:EM, I‘m not really a fan of LMH (forgive me), so I keep postponing it. But IOTNBO is my nr 1 😍

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  kate

Thanks, kate! Wow, mad props to you about getting the biology PhD, that is dedication and smarts for sure!

I remember Lost mania! I watched the first season, and remember being as captivated as everyone, and then I just kind of wandered away somewhere in the second season, part of my not having time and also lacking focus to just really stay with a show (which judging from the screams about the ending may have been good in that case?).

You are forgiven for not being a partisan of LMH, to be perfectly honest I’m fairly neutral as to his charms as well. I mean, I don’t think he’s a terrible actor like some apparently do, but I don’t get a tingle when he shows up or anything. I did think he was pretty good in TK:EM, but I’m the first to admit it wasn’t a super-demanding role or anything, so.

And yes, mad IOTNBO love! It’s one of the handful of shows I would actually look forward to sitting down and rewatching at some point. Really loved it!

Ele Nash
8 months ago

I hadn’t realised you were as relatively new to kdrama as I am, Trent – and, context is everything, which makes the number of shows you’ve seen even more impressive! As you say, having a forum like kfangurl’s makes it all the more enjoyable and I always like reading your insightful comments on group watches. And you mentioned Buffy! Hey, I may even be a bit of a Trent-fangirl 😅

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

@Ele Nash — I’m a total noob! And yeah, I’ve been lucky that all of my various enthusiasms, at least since the internet came along–say mid-90s for me–and provided the means, I’ve had a good outlet to share and interact about them. It’s great to find like-minded fans to squee about something (0r sniff disdainfully, if that’s required….).

uyen
8 months ago

So great reading this, Trent! I too, fell captive to Goblin’s spell and didn’t get it at all when others said it was boring because I was invested in the characters. Also loved It’s Okay To Not Be Okay and your two from this year so far!

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  uyen

@uyen – Thanks! Yeah, I was definitely under the spell of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay. It’s another one that had a handful of episodes available when I started, and once I binged them I was a jittery mess waiting each week for new episodes to drop. Loved the main characters and their journey so much, and Seo Ye-ji was incandescent (as I’ve described her more than once) in the role.

Jiyuu
Jiyuu
8 months ago

Me too! I waddled (back) into kdramas around Christmas 2019 and
then the lockdowns happened and I went on a full dive since. I think I’ve seen 130-ish dramas since (including those that I dropped after a couple of episodes).

I like a good story primarily but I’ve fangirled quite a bunch too and ended up watching even meh series (though I know better now) just to see more of an actor (or sometimes actress) that I super like.

2020 watching/fangirling focused on So Ji Sub (Master’s Sun, Cain & Abel, Terrius, Oh My Venus), Jang Hyuk (Fated to Love You, Thank You, Money Flower, Chuno) and Ji Chang Wook (Healer, Empress Ki, The K2); with bits of Gong Yoo (Goblin, Big, Biscuit Teacher and Coffee Prince), Lee Dong Wook (Touch Your Heart, Life, Goblin, Scent of a Woman), and Ju Ji Hoon (Kingdom, Hyena).

2021 was mostly centered on Yeo Jin Goo (Beyond Evil, The Crowned Clown, Absolute Boyfriend, Hotel del Luna, House on Wheels), Cha Seung Won (The Greatest Love, Hwayugi, City Hall, Libera Me, a bunch of his gangster movies) and the gorgeous Kim Hee Sun (Faith, Angry Mom, Room No. 9, her movie with Jackie Chan, Alice). It also included sprinkles of Taiwanese actor Marcus Chang (his projects always start with an intriguing premise but so crappy in execution!), Nam Joo Hyuk (Radiant, School 2015), Lee Do Hyun (18 Again, Melancholia), and Han Ji Min (Radiant, One Spring Night).

This year, 2022, so far is shaping well with the immensely talented Liu Haoran (Nirvana in Fire 2, Novoland: Eagle Flag and Detective Chinatown franchise—all his projects are good btw) at the forefront.

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  Jiyuu

@Jiyuu — wow, 130?! that’s impressive! I don’t count my dropped dramas, but that’s not really a factor for me since I drop them so rarely (I have a completist bias that I still haven’t overcome for dramas; I used to have the same thing for books, and it took me years and years to get over and just drop a book if it wasn’t working for me. I assume I’ll eventually get there with dramas, but the lure of the sunk cost fallacy is strong, y’all!).

I hear you about watching a subpar production just because it’s starring someone we like a lot. I confess to doing that, more when I just started out. Now I’ve gradually realized that even if I really like an actor or actress (usually actress for me, let’s be honest), it’s just not worth it to see them in a mediocre or bad show.

JJ
JJ
8 months ago

Thank you so much for sharing your context 🙂 Always love reading what you have to say 🙂 I am totally shocked though that you werent a big TV watcher… SHOCKED. You are making up for lost time now!!!!

YAY, TRENT!!! Finally some loooooove for TK:EM and Guardian/Goblin! Thank you !!!! That was a GREAT moment when she said I Love You in such a matter of fact manner. Loved it and STILL love it. Might watch it again just because you brought it up. (How’s that Mr. Fletcher aka Sean!) Ah Goblin, still too hard to discuss 🙂

Emotional wrecks? Us the crew over on Patreon? Never…… 😉 Ugly cry…nope not that either 😉

Thanks Trent 🙂

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
8 months ago
Reply to  JJ

@JJ – I wish you well re your rewatch of TKEM 😉

Trent
8 months ago
Reply to  JJ

Thanks, JJ…yeah, believe it or not I was never really super into TV. I certainly watched my share, don’t get me wrong, but once I hit college and beyond, I just never really had time or a strong inclination to really prioritize it much.

Yeah, I mean, I’ve seen better/more potent confession scenes since that one, but there was just something about how she delivered that line so unexpectedly (although she had that whole inner monologue about accepting one’s fate, leading up to it), that just slipped past the defenses and…oof.

Ugly cry? Huh?! Wait, I didn’t say that, did I? 😏

Trent
8 months ago

KFG — thanks once again for the awesome graphics capture work! You went and found the confession scene from TK:EM! I love it!

And I’m chortling over here that you managed to find and illustration from the Zhuangzi; one of the most iconic scenes, no less! (the dreaming butterflies section)

kfangurl
Admin
8 months ago
Reply to  Trent

@Trent Ahaha, I actually couldn’t remember the confession scene in TK:EM at all, and had to google it! But whatever works, y’know? 😁😁 I’m glad you like the end result!!