Despite my current i.v. drip of TVB kungfu soaps of the early 80s, I’ve been meaning to write a healthy post on another seemingly innocent vice of mine, Korean television drama fever, or hallyu. Miniseries in format, at most twenty episodes long, these spicy morsels are easily digested and keep you full and smiling the whole way through. Next post, I’ll cover some of the classics that should’nt be passed up, like, Full House, (nope, sorry, not the one with Greek superstud Uncle Jesse) Winter Sonata, Princess Hours, and a top fave of mine, My Girl, (yeah yeah, I know its funny how these Koreans seem to swipe names from U.S. counterparts, that don’t echo the plot at all) to name a few.
You’re Beautiful (미남이시네요), literally “He’s a handsome man”, is a South Korean drama about a fictional boy band A.N.Jell and the relationship between its members when a female, posing as her twin brother, joins the group. The series aired from October 7 to November 26, 2009 on the Korean network SBS.
Go Mi Nyu is a nun-in-training, ala Sally Field in the Flying Nun series of yesteryear. Her twin brother Go Mi Nam successfully auditions for the musical band A.N.Jell, but is forced to leave for the United States to correct a botched plastic surgery. Mi Nyu is approached by Mi Nam’s manager to pose as Mi Nam while he recovers. She is against it at first, but agrees in order to fulfill her dream of finding their mother. Once a star, she feels it will be much easier for her birth mother to find her, let alone greedy relatives crawling from the woodwork. Now, posing as Mi Nam, Mi Nyu enters the group and meets its members: Hwang Tae Kyung, Kang Shin Woo and Jeremy. If not getting along with three guys that don’t know youre a girl wasn’t hard enough, you have a horde of jealous fans wondering who this fledgling member is, and can he even sing?!
Created by duo Hong Jung Eun & Hong Mi Ran, this series bursts with amazingly complex charactes. Seemingly cold-hearted, Hwang Tae Kyung, (Jang Geun Suk) the lead vocalist, is desperately seeking to regain his relationship with his ex-starlet mother, despite his stonefaced exterior, all the while falling in love with the group’s newest member. Kang Shin Woo, (Jung Yong Hwa) the smart, loyal, and extremely receptive guitarist, he’s handsome dandy that also finds himself strangely attracted to our androgynous nun-turned-popstar. Jeremy, (Lee Hongki) blonde-coiffed drummer, and prankster of the group, really plays up the humor here, and is super cute all the while.Whether its his unique facial expressions, his jarring bleach-blonde locks, or his impeccable comic delivery, hands down, he’s my fave. Major crush, heh.
Yoo He Yi (portrayed by Uee, member of real-life girl group After School) adds the bitch factor. She’s a rising pop star competing for stage time with A.N.Jell, and trying early on to expose Go Mi Nam for what she really is. She soon falls for Hwang Tae Kyung, reluctantly at first, and uses her diva antic to always get what she wants. She’s gorgeous, and steals every scene she’s in. She easily switches from icy-cold-stare to anime-eyed sweetcheeks as the paparazzi arrives each time.
Interesting to note, the drama features a live concert, and A.N.Jell actually performed,where it was reported that as many 25,000 fans showed up.The group performed the songs “Promise” and “Still”. Their music is comprised of the wispy ballads and rock-pop infused drivel you’d expect from current Korean boybandery. It’s fluff, well-written, and catchy to boot.
Thankfully, I was able to get the entire series with excellent English subs for a mere $15 in NY Chinatown. Actually, you can get almost ANY Korean drama series there if you look hard enough. The best spot is hardly even noticeable from street level. It’s an unassuming glass door, next to a modern bubble tea cafe. Once opened, you walk down a flight of stairs, the entire stairwell plastered with the posters for the latest TVB dramas, which reminds me of my bedroom as a teen geeker. The entire basement is filled wall-to-wall with box sets of the DVD and VCD variety. Each section is well stocked with the latest releases at fantastically cheap prices. I got the entire Legend of the Condor Heroes series for $50! They have Chinese (TVB, ATV, CCTV), Japanese, and Korean sections as well. As for the staff, while not fluent in English, they excel at being quite friendly, albeit a bit pushy at times. It’s a group of five middle-aged Chinese women, all gossiping while drinking oolong tea and munching on sweets, but it’s all part of the charm of the place. It’s a Asian TV drama queen’s paradise. They also have a large variety of recent Hong Kong movies, bootlegged, and mostly non-subtitled, plus even some cheaply produced Chinese CGI anime crap as well.