We have a special surprise treat today: a mini dream drama, thanks to (drrrrumroll please..).. j3ffc! 🥳
This is what happens when serendipity meets inspiration meets a burgeoning drama education.
Let me explain. 😁
This is Trent’s summary:
“A tour group from SK (nine people plus driver) got stuck in their bus in the huge snowstorm in Buffalo, NY (on the way to NIagara Falls), and then spent a couple days with the couple whose house they were stuck outside of… who coincidentally were all stocked up on food, and like Korean food, too, so had all the ingredients to make Korean dishes.”
South China Morning Post also carried a version of the article, which you can check out here.
In response, j3ffc wrote an inspired, absolutely brilliant story, all drama-fied for our enjoyment.
I loved it so much that I couldn’t not share it, and j3ffc kindly agreed to find a cast for his drama, so that I could share it here with everyone.
New York State of Mind
Proposal for Drama
Working Title: New York State of Mind (6 episodes)
Style: Cinema verité, sort of like Blair Witch Project, but without witches and horror and stuff
Synopsis: Five young couples meet for the first time (or is it??) at Incheon Airport for a long-awaited trip to the eastern United States. They are:
1. Jun-ho and Mi-ran, early forties married couple, have spent time as architectural interns in NYC and are fluent in English. They are revisiting the States to recall their youth.
Suggested casting: Jo Jae-yoon and Ha Ji-won. Dude’s gotta rehabilitate himself, somehow, and I like him playing against (recent) type across from Ha Ji-won, who is here reprising her role from “House on Wheels” (where she played herself).
2. Soo-hyun and Young-ae, dating couple, 20s.
Soo-hyun is an aspiring filmmaker and generically nosy, so he is the one with the video cam recording everything we see on the show.
3. Shi-ra (goes by Rhonda) and Soo-ho, 20s, long-term couple, currently with their relationship on the rocks due to Soo-ho’s inability to commit.
Not sure if they’ve ever kissed each other or not. Rhonda is fluent in English.
Suggested casting: Bae Suzy and Yeo Jin-goo. The closest we get to an OTP in this piece. I really wanted to go with Kim Seul-gi and Kim Woo-bin for this, but the height difference police flagged me down for that.
4. Jang-woo and Ki-joo, mid twenties.
They’re just friends and on a trip gifted by Ki-Joo to Jang-woo, who is gearing up for his military service as soon as they get back.
Ki-joo is independently wealthy thanks to her mom (mom has made a killing in dramas and is played by Choi Ji-woo in voice over only) while Jang-woo is definitely from the wrong side of the Han).
Suggested casting: Jung Chaeyeon and Key (from Drinking Solo).
5. Ha-neul and Hyo-jin, late-thirties/early-forties.
He’s an advertising executive on the way up – but very demanding and needy at home. She’s an aspiring chef who has had to hold back on her dreams to support hubby’s ambitions. Fluent English speakers.
Suggested casting: Son Suk-ku and Gong Hyo-jin
Upon arrival in NYC, they board a minibus that was, to be honest, not up to anyone’s expectations, for a drive up to Niagara Falls (where Soo-hyun has been secretly thinking about popping the question to Young-ae).
Quick shots of big sights: Empire State, Rock Center, etc.
But as the trip goes on the weather gets worse and worse, but the driver Joe needs to score this one last gig to buy his son a Playstation for Christmas, so insists on continuing.
They barely make it to Buffalo when the snow becomes too much and the van get stuck outside the home of one Alex and Andie Charles, who realize that this is The Darth Vader of Storms (cue Vader’s march, if we can afford it; if not, we have “Stand By Your Man” as a backup) and that there is no way that they can leave these travelers to the storm.
An ex-minister with a big heart and secretly the world’s biggest fan of Winter Sonata, Alex invites the crew to stay at their home.
Andie, also a Hallyu fan (more of a CLOY woman, though) is delighted to have some company. The tourists call home, with Alex perking up a bit upon eves-dropping into Ki-joo’s phone call with her mom, then shaking his head just a bit.
“No way,” he says to himself.
The crowd settle in for a night of getting to know one another, the interactions lubricated by digging into the Charles’s six cases of soju (should be enough for a night or two).
The Charles’s immediately start grilling the group about life in Korea and the ending of Memories of the Alhambra, but it grows late and people drowsy.
Jang-woo and Ki-joo serenade the group with a rendition of Silent Night and the guests, exhausted, fall asleep.
The Charles’s note (to no one besides each other awake to listen) that they have always wanted to go to SK, but it’s never been in the cards.
Suggested casting: Ed Begley, Jr. and Catherine O’Hara. I’m going older here than the actual couple to ramp up the pathos aspect of this being a once in a lifetime encounter for them. Also, O’Hara is such a good comic actor but I think she’d be great in a sincere, non-ironic role like Andie.
There will be set pieces.
Hyo-jin, delighted by the Charles’s huge pantry of Asian staples and rice maker, astonishes everybody with her cooking skills.
Even Ha-neul takes notice, seeing Hyo-jin in an entirely different light, maybe realizing that when it comes to relationships, he has been more lucky then entitled.
In subsequent evenings, the younger couples – with only school English – naturally hang together and play complicated drinking games after the Charles’s have gone to bed (although Alex does peek around the corner and smile at the shenanigans).
Inspired by the Buffalo/Bills game, they all have a rousing football game in the snow, where everybody looks unnaturally attractive in their snow gear.
But something is bugging Soo-ho.
He’s been staring at Young-ae for the last couple of days trying to place her and – O!M!G! – she is his third-grade First Love, now all grown up into a kind young woman.
He thinks about acting on this, but since Ki-joo has had long-term amnesia from a go-kart accident as a young girl, she doesn’t remember him at all.
Meanwhile, Soo-ho also notices the loving relationship between the Charles couple, and recognizes the value in growing old together with someone you love.
And there is another story going on, a Friends-to-Lovers saga between Jang-woo and Ki-joo, for whom close proximity has solidified what Jang-woo has always known.
He is deeply in love with Ki-joo but considers her to be above his status and doesn’t think she would ever stoop to a guy like him.
But, for her part, Ki-joo is immune to the allure of class and has always had a soft spot in her heart for Jang-woo.
They eventually stay up all night talking and, Ki-joo admits that she hopes that Jang-woo will still remember her during his service.
Soo-ho (remember Soo-ho?) has been paying attention.
Not only watching with admiration how Rhonda has interacted with Andie (the two have bonded over spicy stir-fried pork), but has noticed how she is literally glowing when standing next to the Christmas tree.
He finally figures out that he is, in fact, incredibly lucky himself to have met her.
Meanwhile, Andie teaches Hyo-jin how to make Buffalo chicken wings, and she formulates a brilliant business idea of bringing them back to Korea for a new store. Even Ha-neul approves and offers to invest.
The Korean crew worry about imposing on Alex and Andie, but they’ll have none of that, giving us viewers a badly-needed lesson in how to achieve world-wide peace.
As the group finally is able to arrange a transport back to NYC, the group plans a going-away dinner together in Koreatown.
They invite Andie and Alex to join them, but they can’t make it due to the snow and their modest finances.
They all agree that they will have to reunite in Seoul sometime soon, but we all know that it’ll never happen.
Quick shot to Rhonda and Andie chatting by the tree.
As everyone gets ready to head out, Soo-hyun quietly captures Soo-ho on his phone, fingering a boxed piece of jewelry, and making arrangements for the two of them to stay in NYC through New Year’s.
Quick cut to nothing as Soo-hyun’s video-cam runs out of memory.