Tag Archives: What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim

Dear kfangurl: What are some archetypes in kdramas?

T writes:

Hi kfangurl,

What are some of the archetypes you see in Kdrama characters? Could you recommend other dramas with those types of characters?

For example:

Romance is A Bonus Book’s Kang Dan-i is strong, sensitive, but oblivious to Eun-ho’s love for her. Eun-ho is petty, cocky, but really protective and compassionate toward his loved ones.

Another example:

Strong Girl Bong Soon’s rich heir Ahn Min-hyuk is the hardcore, serious, charming type, but completely caught off-guard and smitten with Do Bong-soon, which makes him fall to pieces. Bong-soon is the epitome of aegyo, but hesitant to embrace her full potential (another type).

What other dramas use these archetypes in similar ways or mix and match them in surprising or refreshing ways?

Thanks.

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Dear kfangurl: What are some iconic kdramas over the years?

Today’s Dear kfangurl post is inspired by j3ffc‘s and Trent‘s comments on my recent VOGUE India collab post, where I talk about the male gaze vs. the female gaze in kdramas over the years.

In response, j3ffc basically wanted to know which classic dramas I think drama fans should check out (which would demonstrate the shift in gaze over the years), and Trent heartily seconded the idea and expanded on it:

“The question I’ve been thinking about is along the lines of how do you think kdramas have evolved over the last couple decades? Do you see discernible or important trends in that time? (Broadly considered: thematically, in treatment of tropes, genre or sub-genre expansion (or contraction), production values, stylistic changes, acting and\or casting type trends: it’s all fair game). You touched on a bit of this in this Vogue interview, but I’d be very interested in a broader look, and I just don’t have the range of experience to even attempt a synthesis. You do, though. 😁”

So today I thought I’d talk about kdramas which I would consider iconic, over the years, and how kdramas have been evolving, in broad strokes.

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Dear kfangurl: Can you talk about the female gaze vs. the male gaze in dramas? [Interview with VOGUE India!]

Screenshot of the VOGUE India article!

This is a slightly different Dear kfangurl post, you guys.

Technically, someone did ask the questions – what makes it different than usual, is that that someone was representing VOGUE India, and it was for a collab of sorts, where I answered a bunch of questions over email, for a VOGUE India article!

Hasina Khatib (@thejoblessjourno on Instagram), who writes for VOGUE India, reached out to me a couple of weeks ago, and asked if I’d be interested to participate in an article that she was writing for VOGUE India. I said yes, and you can check out the article, where she quotes me selectively, here!

At the same time, there was a lot that I said, that didn’t make it into the final article, so with Hasina’s permission, I’m sharing the actual interview questions and answers here with you guys – because my gut tells me that this is just the sort of topic that you guys would enjoy digging into.

The only difference is that I’ve added screenshots and linked my reviews where relevant, to make this more reader-friendly. I hope you all enjoy! ❤️

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Review: My Unfamiliar Family

THE SHORT VERDICT:

My Unfamiliar Family is a drama that feels familiar and yet fresh at the same time, to my eyes.

It feels like a lot of the things I like in family dramas, condensed into a more efficient 16 episodes rather than a sprawling 54 episodes, presented with more polish, and sprinkled with a harder dash of reality, than the average family drama. Show has more surprises up its sleeve than the average kdrama, which makes this almost (but not quite) feel like a soapy watch experience. Yet, at the same time, there is a solid amount to unpack with this show, which makes it feel meaty and serious.

Altogether, Show feels kind of spicy and interesting, while managing to remain raw, heart-hitting and thought-provoking, at the same time.

An unusual combination of drama flavors that makes for a refreshing watch.

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Review: Itaewon Class

THE SHORT VERDICT:

An earnest, underdog story with lots of heart, Itaewon Class feels like a breath of fresh air, for a good part of its run. Even though the backstory hinges on the idea of revenge, this always feels more like a story of an underdog trying to make good, while collecting a found family along the way. In particular, I really appreciate the diversity that Itaewon Class embraces, in the course of peopling our drama world. I don’t think I’ve seen the same degree of diversity in another drama, to date.

Oddly, I feel like this drama is at once a Park Seo Joon vehicle, and yet, an ensemble drama, at the same time. Our protagonist Park Sae Ro Yi is the backbone of this story, and it’s his journey, his thoughts, his philosophy and his unflagging determination that drives this story forward. At the same time, it’s the ensemble of endearing characters around him that makes this drama world pop and come alive in such a heartwarming way. Altogether, an unusual dichotomy which I’m happy to embrace.

I felt the OTP loveline was rather too forced in Show’s final leg, and I also feel like Show’s focus shifts in the last stretch, such that Show loses some of its original charm, but I still enjoyed this one very well, overall.

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Dear kfangurl: What are some dramas with excellent OTPs?

Reka writes:

Dear kfangurl,

thank you very much for your answer to my previous question, the one about strong and nuanced women 😀 I already started watching “The Story of Minglan’ and I am loving it so much! (Btw it’s also one of my first C-dramas, so thank you for the new experience!)

This time too, I have a similar question about couples. I love romance and I’ll never have enough of it, but many times it seems to me that the characters end up together just because it’s a “plot requirement” and because we expect them to get together. So there may be no chemistry at all, or plot holes about their coming together, things can feel clichéd and may lack of depth.

I read your review of “Crash landing on you” and since you appreciated the OTP, I went to watch the show and yes! The OTP was marvellous! They were very believable and engaging. Thus I ask for your advice once again xD

Can you recommend me some dramas with believable couples and good chemistry?

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Review: Her Private Life

THE SHORT VERDICT:

This is a show that pretty much lives and dies by the combined charm of and chemistry between its OTP. Park Min Young is lovely and manages to come across as both relatable and aspirational, while Kim Jae Wook shines in his first romantic leading man role, which just happens to be that of the Perfect Boyfriend with the power to melt you into a puddle on a regular basis. The interactions between our OTP are a big highlight, from the very organic skinship – ranging from sexy sizzle to absentmindedly agreeable – to the wonderfully healthy conversations that they regularly share; a precious rarity in Dramaland.

Everything else is pretty much set-dressing for the main romance, but Show does a very solid job of making that set dressing generally pleasant and appealing, with a nice handful of likable secondary characters, a very pretty collection of OST tracks, and a keen spotlight on the fangirl experience.

Yes, Show does have its flaws, but that usually poofs away quite nicely, whenever the OTP shows up onscreen. It’s like magic fairy dust.

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Dropped: Boyfriend [Encounter]

One thing that Dramaland has taught me, is that true love simply cannot be forced.

Whether you’re one of the leads trying to make it work with a chaebol-parent-approved love interest, or a second lead working hard to earn the affection of the lead that you’re one-sidedly crushing on, no amount of effort will produce true love.

I don’t know which I am in this drama analogy (maybe I’m a lead character and Boyfriend is a chaebol-parent-approved, er,  boyfriend? Hur); what I do know is, after 10 episodes of trying – like, really working – to love Boyfriend, I’m finally realizing that I’m just never going to love this show, no matter how hard I try.

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Year In Review: 2018

What a year, I say.

I know I said last year that Dramaland was exploding with more dramas than ever before, but Dramaland basically outdid itself in 2018 – and then some.

You know when you have only 2 ice-cream flavors, and only room in your stomach for 1 scoop, it’s really easy to choose, but you still wish you had more flavors to choose from? Well, it’s all fine and good when it increases to 5 flavors, or 10 flavors, right? But when it gets to like, a thousand flavors, your eyes glaze over, you get hit by decision paralysis, and it just feels impossible to choose, anymore? Same thing.

I used to try and keep up with Dramaland, especially after I started blogging. I’d try to stay on top on what dramas were airing, and which ones were good, and I’d try to watch all the reportedly good ones, because I’m a curious cat and FOMO is real, yo. Well. I think 2018 is the year that I realized it is humanly impossible to keep up with everything that Dramaland is putting out, and there is just not enough time in one person’s world, to watch all the reportedly good ones, and take time for the ones that you wanna watch, whether anyone else is interested or not.

So 2018 is the year that I stopped trying. Uh.. Kinda.

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Flash Review: What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? [Why Secretary Kim]

A phrase that’s sometimes said around the dramaverse – and maybe you’ve said something similar yourself, at some point – is, “I could literally just watch these two be cute for sixteen hours.”

Well. Except for a backstory involving childhood trauma (kidnapping trigger alert, coz some folks might be sensitive to that), this show pretty much gives us exactly that: Park Seo Joon and Park Min Young being cute together, pretty much all of the time, for 16 episodes.

Yep. It’s as fluffy and angst-lite as it sounds. So if you’re up for something that’s light on plot but heavy on cute, this just might be the show for you.

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