grub + travels + perspectives

Yay + Nay: Gaga About K-Dramas

"Kinain na ng K-drama." That's what most people say nowadays when they acknowledge the fact that they indeed have succumbed to the magic of Korean dramas. I, for one, ain't a stranger to binge watching a handful of Asian series. For me, it all started with Meteor Garden. I religiously watched it back when I was in high school and I think the affinity for Asian dramas stuck ever since.

Though admittedly, I'm not at the high level of fangirling in this aspect. I usually just watch whatever's the talk of the town. I remember a friend telling me to watch Pinocchio and My Love from the Star 2 years ago but didn't pay much attention to it. But last year, I've sort of rekindled my liking for Asian dramas, specifically Korean ones. I binged on episodes of Oh My Venus (because So Ji-sub!!!) and it sort of snowballed into this Korean drama frenzy for me.

The other series I was able to see last year were Descendants of the Sun, Healer, School 2015, finally got around to watching My Love from Another Star, K2, One Sunny Day, W: Two Worlds, and rewatched Coffee Prince, among others. I can't bring myself to watch Cheese in the Trap just yet.

For today's Yay + Nay, I'm going to go over the 3 most talked about K-dramas that my radar managed to pick up. Around November last year, I've first learned about Legend of the Blue Sea, and later on, Goblin, which were both generating international buzz. I mean, who wouldn't see these shows when they're headlined by the likes of Gong Yoo, Gianna Jun and Lee Min-ho? I was really excited to get my Korean drama fix once again!

Goblin: The Lonely and Great God: A BIG FAT HELL YEAH WATCH THIS!!!

Quality-wise, I think Goblin is an absolute must watch for K-drama fans. Definitely one for the books. Goblin actually came out 2 weeks after Legend of the Blue Sea and I can't help but notice a lot of parallels between the two.

So just why should you devote your time to watch this gem? First, Gong Yoo's in it. If you've seen him in Coffee Prince, you'd certainly get what I mean. Him being in this drama after 4 years of no small screen presence is a pretty good reason to watch this. He was just amazing opposite Yoon Eun-hye!!! There's no denying that he's a great actor. (You should also check out his other films like The Crucible, The Suspect, A Man and a Woman, Train to Busan and Age of Shadows.) Here are other great reasons to watch Goblin: the breathtaking cinematography (Every frame is impeccable and satisfying! The colors, the transitions and overlapping of scenes were just perfect. This alone was enough reason for me.), the superb soundtrack (which added a whole new depth to the scenes), the adorable and comedic bromance between the Goblin and the Grim Reaper (and sometimes, Deok Hwa), the casting (They got it to a tee right down to the actress playing Eun Tak's aunt), the second lead romance (Lee Dong-wook and Yoo In-na got that on-screen spark), the infectious smiles of Eun Tak, the melancholic but beautiful plot (I swear it always took a turn in the most unexpected way), and Sun Hee Sunny's sass. Even the CGI was not cheap-looking. And before I forget: When Gong Yoo cries, we all cry.

All these things add up to make Goblin an awesome and worthwhile watch. It's been a while since I've felt excited for a show. It surpassed all my preconceived notions and expectations but I have to say that this is also the kind of drama that you should enjoy while it lasts because the ending was poetic but bittersweet. You kind of know the ending will be sad but you're hoping that there will be some twist and they will live happily ever after. But I am glad that the conclusion stayed faithful to the story line and didn't deviate just for fan service. Plus, I got to discover Kim Go-eun and Yook Sung-jae's great acting chops! I loved the former's films like Eungyo and Coin Locker Girl, (she was so bad ass!) and the latter's School 2015 as the second lead, which, up to this day, I believe deserved the girl more. Hahaha.

I was so emotionally invested and I have to admit I was exhausted when this drama ended. Goblin definitely set the bar higher for Korean dramas. I've managed to convince some of my friends to watch this and so far, everyone loved it.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo: YES YES YES YES YES!

WFKBJ is an example of a K-drama that I had no interest in watching but a lot of my Twitter friends love it so I decided to give in. There are a few K-drama storylines that I'd rather not watch: sageuk (or historical), the overused high school setting, rich boy poor girl (Umay na sa The Heirs! I disliked that so much!), and anything related to sports. And this, with the title actually beginning with a sport, I automatically decided "Nope!"

But a lot of people were raving about it... for a long time. This aired back in November, competing against Legend of the Blue Sea, but I only got to watch it after Goblin was done. And I'm happy I decided to give it a chance this because it is one of the best out there. Seriously. I don't know how I'll emphasize that more. It tanked on ratings (I believe for the sole reason that it was in the same time slot as Legend of the Blue Sea) but the writing was really very, very good. It's realistic and the story is sound and solid. Do watch this!!! I highly recommend it!

The things I loved about Weightlifting Fairy:

1. Lee Sung-kyung and Nam Joo-hyuk had this insane chemistry (they are out-of-this-world cute!!!) that can make your toes curl with happiness whenever they have a scene. I ship them so much, I wish they'd date IRL. Hahaha. I was a bit bothered that NJH played the goody-goody swimmer boyfriend character again after School 2015. It was even shot in the same school! I'm glad I've seen this before School 2015. He's waaay better in WFKBJ!

2. It promotes self-love, self-reliance and body positivity (which reminded me of my other fave, Oh My Venus). It's really rare to find a K-drama that tackles all of that in a not too heavy way. Kim Bok-joo is an unconventional female lead and I love it how she's super relatable and did not fit the mold of the usual appearances of K-drama leads. There was no complicated love story where the male lead terrorizes the hell out of the female lead to show her he likes her (hahaha), instead we get this love story that started from friendship and Joon-hyung actually supported Book-joo in all her endeavors.

Best boyfriend ever.
3. The celebration of friendship and family! The loving relationship with parents, the squad that's always got your back, the big brother that's always looking out for you, and the ever supportive and dependable coaches and teammates. Of course, it's not always rainbows and happy days, but there's no backstabbing friends that perpetrated an elaborate scheme because she's jealous of the female lead, no psycho ex-girlfriends, no rich mom making all the stops for the female lead to stop dating the male lead, no secret siblings, no cliche tropes of the usual K-dramas. I AM JUST SO HAPPY.

4. The cameos and references! It was so cute that Lee Jong-suk made an appearance in one of the earlier episodes (and that W banter haha!) and when they sang Fantastic Baby by BIGBANG (and I saw a G-Dragon poster up in one of there girls' dorm). I'm pretty sure I missed other ones that I'm not super familiar with.

5. The simple story line. There are no cray plot twists, no foreign locations, no CGI needed, no tragedies, just the pure, unadulterated joy of being infatuated. It's an enjoyable, light adventure that makes you want to fall in love all over again. Weightlifting Kim Bok-joo tells us that great love don't need to be hurtful to be worth it.

Legend of the Blue Sea: It's okay.

I'm not a big fan of Lee Min-ho (sure, he's a looker), but when I learned that he starred this K-drama together with Gianna Jun, I was sold. Powerhouse Hallyu stars as leads! This must be awesome! When I saw LotBS, I was almost done watching My Love from Another Star and I noticed that much of Gianna's character there was brought to this one. It's not a bad thing actually. I loved her over the top and funny as hell acting in LotBS! Especially that scene when her then unnamed character and Joon-jae were crossing the street!

I found the first episode really engaging. There were cameos by Kim Sung-ryung and Krystal, which played Kim Tan's mother and ex-girlfriend, respectively, in The Heirs. I thought that was cute. The jump of scenes between the past (Joseon era) and the present provided that sad and comedic contrasting injections to the series. Gianna Jun was excellent as the mermaid, especially the part when she was captured during the Joseon era and she was all wistful and sad and she perfectly communicated with her eyes.

I eagerly watched the succeeding episodes until all the cliches started happening. I really didn't like the submissive character of Sim Cheong. It's too much for me. And the irritating push and pull of their relationship (if you could call it that.) I guess I've grown tired of this type of plot after being exposed to too much. Although Gianna Jun and LMH are gorgeous actors, I felt that there wasn't much chemistry between them. Then, I don't know, it got really boring for me. LMH's acting skills started to pale in comparison to GJ and a lot of the things happening are... unsurprising. The evil step mother trying to get Joon-jae's inheritance (chaebol trope), the mother that was under their noses all this time, the murder, the attempt of a love triangle, etc. There was just too damn much drama happening, it's confusing. The scene where they were trying to get a confession from Joon-jae's stepmother by pretending to go along with her evil plans was super cringe-worthy. When Joon-jae revealed he recorded their conversation and the police appeared behind the stacks of boxes (they were inside some sort of warehouse), I just had to stop watching. Seriously?!?! How predictable can this get? It's like the writer stopped trying.

It's good that they concluded on a happy note. I couldn't imagine LotBS ending tragically, then the story would just be this big conflict after conflict after conflict. On the other hand, there were a few good points that I loved about this K-drama:

1. This cameo: My Sassy Girl reunion!!!

2. So Ji-sub references. YES! In Episode 2, you'd see Sim Cheong losing sleep over fangirling and you could see she's got So Ji-sub on the screen. In Episode 7, together with Jo Jung-suk's character, they cry while watching So Ji-sub's The Master's Sun.

3. This couple. They are so cute together. I wish they had more scenes especially in the finale.



If you're planning to watch these 3 dramas, I suggest you watch Goblin first. The ending is not as happy as one would expect, so it might leave you a sad, unsatisfied feeling, but in hindsight, it's the perfect way to conclude the story. It's definitely top notch and nothing like you'd seen before. Weightlifting Kim Bok-joo would be perfect to watch next since it's all good vibes and cute and realistic. I wouldn't necessarily discard Legend of the Blue Sea. It's an okay watch on a weekend.

My K-drama obsession, I thought, would end after seeing Kim Bok-joo, but I'm now hooked with Tomorrow with You (because Shin Min-ah!) then I'm planning to watch Signal next!

What do you think of these 3 Korean dramas? :)