Tag Archive | Gu Yong Ha

Mitzi on…Heartstrings or You’ve Fallen For Me (넌 내게 반했어)

I had mentioned to a student that I was mildly upset about the coupling in “You’re Beautiful” and was assured that Nun-to-Be (Park Shin Hye) and Mr. Sensitive (Kang Shin Woo) actually star in another Kdrama together as the main leads.  So I stopped Sungkyunkwan Scandal and watched Heartstrings the entire way through (and neglected some obligations but not really bothered by it so whatevsies)

It was a lot of fun to watch and the music was pretty entertaining as well.

Cast:

Actual name/ character name/ nickname I give so I remember who they are.

WARNING! HERE BE SPOILERS!

Just a quick summary. At least, I hope it will be as there are a crap ton of conflicts.

First, we are introduced to an Arts University. Amongst the music majors, there are two camps; Western music and Traditional music.  They don’t like each other much.  Guitar God is leader of a band named “The Stupid” (also including Hungry Drummer) and is de facto leader of the Western music majors.  He also has a major case of Jerkface going on cause he knows he’s rad. He also has a case of ‘the luvs’ for Injured Teacher who is at least 10 years his senior.

Traditional Goddess is the granddaughter of a Traditional Korean Music singer.  She’s been groomed from a young age, by her grandfather, to follow in his footsteps and she can’t have anything to do with western music. She is de facto leader of Traditional Music Majors.

Director flies to Korea all the way from Broadway to direct the 100th anniversary show of the arts university where we learn he had a fling with Injured Teacher in the past.

Hungry Pixie is introduced dancing to a Britney Spears song (more on this later) that Hungry Drummer accidentally watches.  He catches ‘the luvs’ for her almost instantaneously even though she tells him to get lost. However, they do bond over a candy bar.  Hungry Pixie, as daughter of the schools chancellor is expected to be star of the 100th anniversary show.

Guitar God flakes on a charity show for Traditional Goddess’s cancer stricken teacher.  Unfortunately, that teacher dies and Traditional Goddess is so pissed off she challenges Guitar God to a battle of the bands.  Loser becomes slave to the other for a month.  Guitar God plays something that reminds me of the Top Gun Anthem. Traditional Goddess’ instrument fails her. Traditional music loses making Traditional Goddess slave to Guitar God.

Forced to do lame stuff, like get coffee every morning for Guitar God, Traditional Goddess catches ‘the luvs’ for Guitar God.  Guitar God does not notice or care because he still hot for Injured Teacher.  He confesses his love to Injured Teacher a few times and crashes and burns each time.

After Battle of the Bands, Traditional Goddess is urged by Director to try out for the 100th anniversary show. She tries out, singing a song about unrequited love.  Spurned by Injured Teacher, Guitar God begins to catch ‘the luvs’ for Traditional Goddess.    Hungry Pixie and her mother are outraged auditions are being held for a spot they feel is rightfully hers.

Director is accused of favoritism and the show gets a new director.  Show turns to crap. Show gets cancelled.  The cast, feeling they don’t want their hard work to go for nothing, decides to put on the show themselves.  Director comes back. All are happy. Somewhere in all of this, both Guitar God and Traditional Goddess become a couple.

Hungry Pixie comes back, despite needing surgery to fix her voice.  Hungry Pixie becomes star of the show while lip synching to Traditional Goddess’ voice. (as she sings and cries simultaneously into the microphone)

Traditional Goddess goes to a traditional music competition where Guitar God meets her. She trips and falls into Guitar God which makes him fall and hurt his wrist.  He can’t play Guitar well anymore but keeps it a secret.

Traditional Goddess gets record deal to sing Western music causing rift between her grandfather and herself. After signing her contract, Traditional Goddess must go abroad for a  year.  She discovers Guitar God’s injury and says she will not become a star to help take care of him.  Guitar God, determined she should go, dumps Traditional Goddess and makes her cry.

A year later, Traditional Goddess is a huge star. She comes back to Korea where Guitar God is still trying to regain his musical abilities.  Both meet again, fight and part ways.  Traditional Goddess dances and discusses the past with Director (who ends up with Injured Teacher).  Traditional Goddess, remembering good times with Guitar God, walks down a park path and runs into Guitar God, who was doing the same thing.  They make eye contact, giggle, and reconcile.

Hungry Pixie and Hungry Drummer end up being hungry together.

The End

A few things:

1. Hungry Pixie (Woo Ri)

I thought she was going to break halfway through her introduction. (dancing to a Britney Spears song, memba?) Soooooo thin.  I found it interesting her character had an eating disorder (maybe anorexia and bulimia?).  It was awkward to watch her dance with such lanky limbs, there wasn’t much power behind the movements.  Maybe the actress has an ultra high metabolism, I don’t know, all I do know is that I was distracted by a walking skeleton whenever she came on screen.

However, I really liked how Hungry Pixie and Hungry Drummer were written to be together because they were both hungry.  He because his body was constantly craving food even though he stuffs his face more than I do on Thanksgiving Day, and she because she’s been trained to be body conscious by her evil witch of a mother.

2. Choreography.

I was a competitive dancer in my youth and like to think I know a thing or two about movement and choreography. Not an expert, but not a noob either.  I loved the choreography because it reminded me of the 80’s.  Yes, the 1980’s.  It was fairly easy stuff so I have to assume most of the actors were not trained in dance.  That being said, all of the dancers, including Hungry Pixie, are far superior dancers than I am at this point in time.

3. Hot for Teacher

When I first saw that Guitar God was in love with Injured Teacher I had one of those moment where you go “OOOOOOOOH!” and point at the screen because that same exact thing happened to you.

I’ve been Injured Teacher before! Definitely not something to strive for.

I’ve been asked to Prom a few times, asked out on dates been given the kissy face *eyeroll* and other ridiculous and inappropriate things.  Each time it happens, it doesn’t get any less awkward. (one reason why I’m thinking of leaving the teaching profession)

But Injured Teacher kinda got herself in this position.  When Guitar God kissed her, she should have thrown a fist or two. Not just stand there.  (not that hitting students is a good thing either…)

So, the big lesson everyone can learn from the Kdrama is not to fall in love with your teachers.

If you do, you will get your heart broken, fall in love with your sworn enemy and then break your wrist making it impossible for you to play the guitar well ever again.

4. Nun-to-be and Mr. Sensitive from You’re Beautiful!

Finally together!  The heavens rejoice!

5. The kissing: *headdesk*

LOL! why do they always looked so surprised?!

9/10 because I can’t give every kdrama a perfect score (actual reason why my graduate professor wouldn’t give me an ‘A’ on a paper I wrote)

Mitzi on…You’re Beautiful (미남이시네요)

When trying to figure out which Kdrama I should watch next, I saw You’re Beautiful had a lot of good reviews.  A small amount of research revealed it was a drama about a boy band.  Whoa, its like having your cake and eating it too.  As a New Kids on the Block fan for over 20 years, I have loads of love for the music genre, so this Kdrama seemed perfect.

Now, when I started watching, with in the first episode I was so shocked with the plot that I had to watch a few scenes over again to see if my eyes were deceiving me or if I was reading the subtitles wrong.

A nun-to-be is convinced by her twin brother’s manager to take his place as the newest member of a successful boy band. (because he needs plastic surgery)

Even that sentence alone needed to be read a few times just so I got it right.  Who on Earth comes up with this stuff?!  And how can I get them money to come up with more?

Cast:

Actual name/character name/the nickname I give them to help me remember who they are.

WARNING! HERE BE SPOILERS!

The one sentence I used to sum up the plot is pretty much the first few episodes so I’ll skip ahead a bit.  After successfully proving to the band she has what it takes to become the new singer for A.N.JELL, Nun-to-be moves into the house the band lives in (like on The Real World, I guess)  Mr. Sensitive figured out Nun-to-be is actually a girl early on and helps protect her identity, gets a case of ‘the luvs’ for her, without letting her know he knows her secret.

Mr. Serious does not like Nun-to-be and tries to kick him/her out of the band. Nun-to-be begs Mr. Serious to allow her to stay in the band as it will help her discover who her parents are (she and her twin brother are orphans. They feel they only way to discover their parents is to become famous)

Mr. Adorable is uncomfortable with the way Nun-to-be is acting around his bandmates, but can’t help the growing attraction he feels for him/her. And also, his cheeks get pinched a lot for being so adorable.

Nun-to-be’s leach of an aunt moves into the house kicking Nun-to-be out of his/her room so he/she has to bunk with Mr. Serious.  Hilarity ensues including a scene where he/she zaps herself with a tazer and passes out on top of him while he sleeps and they *gasp* sleep in the same bed together.

Nun-to-be discovers her parents are dead (lots of tears).

Mr. Serious discovers his neglectful mother wants him to sing a song that he doesn’t realize Nun-to-be’s father had written for Nun-to-be’s mother.  Mr. Serious also discovers Nun-to-be is a girl and slowly starts to have feelings for her.

Mr. Sensitive discovers Nun-to-be has a crush on Mr. Serious even though Mr. Serious is still trying to kick him/her out.

Mr. Adorable discovers he might be gay as he likes Nun-to-be.   (Ok, so what I’ve learned from this Kdrama so far is that if I want guys to like me, I need to dress in drag, join a boy band, and then they will ALL like me.  Got it!)

Nations Fairy likes Mr. Serious enough to blackmail anyone and everyone to get him.  She discovers Nun-to-be’s secret and tells him/her to tell everyone at a press conference. Nun-to-be shows up at said press conference dressed as a girl but Mr. Sensitive tells everyone she is his secret girlfriend in order to keep the band,  A.N.JELL, together.

Mr. Adorable is ecstatic to discover Nun-to-be is a girl and that he is NOT gay. Mr. Adorable gets his cheeks pinched more.

More hijinks ensue in order to keep Nun-to-be’s secret from the public that ultimately push Nun-to-be and Mr. Serious closer together.

Big secret learned: Mr. Serious’ mother abandoned him in order to be with Nun-to-be’s father.

In the end, Nun-to-be’s twin brother comes back to Korea just in time to avoid Nun-to-be being revealed to the public. Nun-to-be wants to do charity work in Africa. Before she leaves, Mr. Serious confesses undying love for Nun-to-be in front of entire concert hall full of die-hard A.N.JELL fans.  (I’d be lying if I said my inner teenager didn’t swoon at this)

A few things:

1. Fandom in Korea (or at least what I can tell from this film):

These fans are so nice and supportive of their boy bands.  The signs? The costumes?  They put American fangirls to shame!  TO SHAME, I SAY!  For instance, when Mr. Serious’ and Nun-to-be’s fake relationship is released to the public, the fans are, of course, upset but they chant congratulations to the A.N.JELL studio.  When Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears came out as a couple, there was mayhem in the streets!  The L.A. Riots were nothing compared to the black lash Britney Spears received.   So, I’m thinking this has got to be an exaggeration of  Korean fan girls.  No hormonal teenage girl is that respectful when ‘their man’ is dating someone else.

2. Mr. Adorable (Jeremy)….THIS SCENE!!!!

Cause at one point or another, in our lives, we all find ourselves being rejected on a public bus while simultaneously singing/sobbing on a phone call to a radio station.   As silly as the situation sounds, this scene actually  made my ice cold heart melt a little.   *le sigh*

3. I totes feel that Mr. Sensitive and Nun-to-be should have gotten together in the end. That’s just my opinion, because (and this goes back to my review/rant on Playful Kiss and how the nice guy never wins! gah!!!) Mr. Sensitive was way nicer to Nun-to-be than Mr. Serious was.  BUT my students told me that the actor and actress who played Mr. Sensitive and Nun-to-be reunited in another Kdrama called “Heartstrings” and I watched the crap out of that show.   This just leads me to believe that I’m not the only one who thought Mr. Sensitive and Nun-to-be were a better match.

10/10 for epic use of boy band in a Kdrama.  And use of actual boy band members in a Kdrama about a boyband: Mr. Sensitive in CN Blue and Mr. Adorable in F.T. Island …Xzibit would be so proud!

Mitzi on…Secret Garden (시크릿 가든)

Wow, just wow.  Now this show is everything I didn’t know I ever wanted in a drama.  Cocky CEO, badass chick, ghosts AND soul switching.  You wanna watch it now too, huh? Totes.

When I first read the summary for this show I thought it was going to be the same old tired plot of man gets caught in woman’s body and vice versa.  Well, it is that but its also very well done.  Hilarious.  And since the characters were out of their 20’s and a bit more capable, I liked it even more.

Wait, let me add on to that.  The female lead is literally a kickass woman able to take care of herself.  Mega props!!

Cast:

Actual name/character name/the nickname I give them to help me remember who they are.

  • Ha Ji Won as Gil Ra Im (Main girl/Badass chick)
  • Hyun Bin as Kim Joo Won (Main dude/Cocky CEO)
  • Yoon Sang Hyun as Choi Woo Young / Oska (Main dude’s cousin/redeemable pop star)
  • Kim Sa-rang as Yoon Seul (Redeemable Pop Star’s on/off GF)
  • Lee Jong Suk as Han Tae Sun (Redeemable Pop Star’s protege)
  • Yoo In-na as Im Ah Young (Badass Chick’s BFF)

WARNING! HERE BE SPOILERS!

Badass chick is introduced rightfully threatening Redeemable Pop Star’s on/off GF in Cocky CEO’s department store which get’s Badass Chick’s BFF fired from her job as hostess at said department store.  Cut to scene in which Redeemable Pop Star asks Cocky CEO to get a starlet from movie set that Badass Chick just happens to be stunt double for.  Cocky CEO mistakes Badass Chick for starlet and we have our meet cute. Badass Chick gets hurt in a stunt and Cocky CEO takes her to the hospital.  Cocky CEO’s heart melts slightly.

Day’s later, Badass Chick is fine and working at the Action School (where people train to be stuntmen/women) Cocky CEO comes around asking for money since he paid for her hospital bill.  Since she won’t see him, he auditions for a spot on the Action School team.  Here Badass Chick forces Cocky CEO to participate in exercises and we get to see one of the best scenes in the entire movie.  Badass Chick holds Cocky CEO’s feet while he does sit-ups and in a show of unabashed confidence, Cocky CEO performs sit-ups so that Badass Chick is forced face to face with Cocky CEO.

Squeeee!  It was one of those scenes that makes you a little uncomfortable to watch but you can’ t tear your eyes away for the world.

However, at this point, Cocky CEO tells Badass Chick that she should be around him only when he wants her to be and then one day disappear like bubbles just like the Little Mermaid did (real version, not Disney).  It is here Badass Chick should have punched Cocky CEO in the throat, but apparently, she has more class than me so we will leave it at that.

Cocky CEO, falling in ‘the luvs’ with Badass Chick, finds silly reasons to be around her.  He fixes a department store raffle so that she wins a vacuum cleaner (so romantic?) and she storms over to his ultra modern house and throws the vacuum in a lake.  (HA!)

Action School gets invited to an island to film a music video for Redeemable Pop Star that’s being directed by Redeemable Pop Star’s on/off GF.  Cocky CEO is there as his company is sponsoring Redeemable Pop Star’s come back album.  Badass Chick is also there as winner of contest to spend weekend with Redeemable Pop Star.

Somehow Badass Chick and Cocky CEO end up alone in the woods. They come across a mysterious house, buy some booze, go back to the hotel, drink booze separately and BOOM!  they wake up the next morning in each others bodies.  (shhhhh, its ok. Just suspend disbelief and go along for the ride) Badass Chick looks like Cocky CEO and Cocky CEO looks like Badass Chick. Hilarity ensues.

Both learn to understand each other a little better before they magically switch back (because of the rain).  Cocky CEO falls more for Badass Chick. Badass Chick seems annoyed but eventually her heart melts too.  This is just reason #2 why Badass Chick is better than me.  She’s classier and she has a heart capable of melting.

Badass Chick gets opportunity to work on a Hollywood film but before she audition, it rains again.  Cocky CEO and Badass Chick switch bodies…again.  This time, both work closely together to fool everyone around them.  Cocky CEO trains as Badass Chick in order to win the film part.  Before the audition, it rains.  They switch again, but Badass Chick, in Cocky CEO’s body, entered an elevator which is bad because Cocky CEO has claustrophobia.  Cocky CEO realizing he’s now stuck in an elevator begins to die.  (Seriously? Claustrophobia? Seriously?!) Badass Chick rushes to Cocky CEO’s aid, and misses audition.

Flexing his networking muscles, Cocky CEO gets Badass Chick second audition. She gets the part. She dumps Cocky CEO to avoid evil vibes from Cocky CEO’s evil mother.

Badass Chick gets into accident on set, goes into coma. Cocky CEO steals Badass Chicks body and drives into the rain so they switch bodies again. He would rather she have a chance to live. *tears*

Meanwhile Redeemable Pop Star tries to mend fences with fellow entertainers and his on/off GF after he realizes his arrogant attitude has alienated him from the business.  He tries to help his Protege become a famous musician but Protege confesses his love for Redeemable Pop Star.  Redeemable Pop Star says, ‘no thanks, but we should still work together’.  Protege decides he can’t be around Redeemable Pop Star without being with him and leaves. Korea.

Soon, Cocky CEO wakes up as a 21 year old version of himself. He doesn’t remember Badass Chick but somehow constantly finds himself around her.  He finally remembers everything after reading a poem on The Little Mermaid (real version, not Disney)

And they all live happily ever after.

The End.

I loved this drama.  LOVED it!  Besides the fact that the kissing didn’t look painfully awkward (and even made me blush a little bit), the two leads had sooooo much chemistry.  And I don’t think I’ve ever laughed at a film harder in my life than when the two lead characters switched bodies.

And I would like to point out, that this drama made me realize for the first time that there are some really good looking Asian dudes out there.  Really really good looking.  Dayum.  Ahem…

My absolute favorite character from this drama is Redeemable Pop Star (Oska).  After meeting one of my pop idols recently (who has been in the entertainment industry for over 25 years) I can definitely see a similarity between the two.  Rather than making Oska seem pathetic, hes written very self deprecating, often aware he’s being childish but unwilling to care.  Or when he isn’t aware he’s hilariously ignorant of others opinions about him.  But I like knowing, at the end of the day, the character has a heart of gold and genuinely does what he can to right his wrongs.

10/10 for a truly excellent adventure

Mitzi on…Playful Kiss

Gah!  Another high school drama!  That is my reaction to this drama now, but before I watched it I thought, “Oh cool, it’s that guy from Boys Before Flowers.  Let’s watch this one.”

Let me just say, this is probably the drama I dislike the most out of all that I’ve seen.  So, no surprises later ok, k? Oh, and this is my opinion so if it doesn’t match yours, lets just respect the differences. No offense intended…they’re just characters in a story.

Cast:

Actual name/character name/the nickname I give them to help me remember who they are.

My dislike stems mostly from the relationship the two main characters have, or I should say, the way the Jerkface treats the Main girl and how she puts up with it.

WARNING! HERE BE SPOILERS!

This drama started out cute. Really cute. And I was pretty sure I’d like it much more than Boys Before Flowers, but as the story progressed things just got really depressing.  There was no death, cancer, or amnesia involved so it wasn’t sob worthy. I was mostly sad because of the way Jerkface treated the Main girl.  He called her dumb. He wasn’t nice to her. Sure he saved her from seeing the nether regions of a pervert but come on…he shouldn’t go around like he’s embarrassed by her all the time.

Main girl has been in love with Jerkface, who is apparently really smart because he aces all his tests, for years.  Main girl finally gets the nerve to confess her love to Jerkface but he calls her out on it (and her bad grammar in her love letter to him) in front of the entire school and tells her he doesn’t like stupid girls.  ESCANDALO!!!  Needless to say, Main girl is crushed and is determined to dislike Jerkface.

However, Main girl’s poorly designed house falls down in a small earthquake and she and her father have to move into his BFF’s house.  Unfortunately for Main girl, that house is also Jerkface’s house.  In this house of refuge, both Jerkface and his little brother, Jerkface Jr only make Main girl feel bad about herself. But for some reason, Main girl is somehow still in ‘the luvs’ with Jerkface.  *facepalm*

Meanwhile, Main girl doesn’t realize that her friend, Nice Guy, has been in love with her for years.  He’s not smart, but he cares for her and he works hard.  The things he goes through for this girl…including getting blown up (HA!) is, IMHO, what she should be appreciating instead of spending all of her energy trying to impress Jerkface.

Anyway, eventually, Jerkface realizes he does love Main girl, they share some really awkward kisses and get ‘married’ but I guess in Korea they aren’t really married unless she gets on his family registry.  Jerkface tells Main girl that he won’t add her to his family unless she gets her act together.  *headdesk*  But, you know, its OK because it’s all to teach her a lesson.

Ok, I need to stop.  After having my own classroom last year and dealing with the whole Twilight monstrosity (He’s not in love with Bella, he’s stalking her!), I am appalled by the way teenage girls fall for the jerks and how the jerks think if they treat a girl like dirt, she will stick to him like mud.  (sadly, this is true sometimes) And it royally sucks when I see this happen right in front of my eyes with my students.  So heartbreaking because it never actually works out.  Ever.

Why can’t the nice guy win?!

But apparently this type of pairing/relationship is quite common in kdramas.  I just wish the women would stand up for themselves a bit more and at least slap the stupid out of the guys when they act like clowns. And I guess there wouldn’t be a drama if this crap didn’t happen so I’ll just leave it at that.

I will say that I really liked Jerkface’s mom in this drama because she called him out on his BS quite a few times.  At least someone did.   And the zingers Jerkface Jr. delivered were quite funny, even if they were mean.

Yes, yes you should.

5/10 for propagating unrealistic and unhealthy relationships to teenage girls.

8/10 for the guy playing Jerkface because I’m told, by a student, he’s actually in a Kpop boyband.  As a huge New Kids on the Block fan from back in the day, there something about boybands that make me give them extra cool points.

Homegirl knows what she’s doing.

Mitzi on…Boys Before Flowers (꽃보다 남자)

I figure until I start watching The List, I’d give my thoughts on the other dramas I’ve previously watched.  So, I guess it makes sense to start with the first one.

Boys Before Flowers

Oh, I should mention, that same female student (the one who yelled at me for pronouncing the ‘u’ in Ikemen Desu Ne) also yelled at me for calling this drama ‘Boys Over Flowers’.   My bad. When will I ever learn?!

Cast:

Actual name/character name/nickname I give to help me remember who they are

  • Ku Hye Sun as Geum Jan Di  (Main girl)
  • Lee Min Ho as Gu Jun Pyo (Main girl’s main squeeze and main dude)
  • Kim Hyun Joong as Yoon Ji Hoo (Main dude’s 1st BFF)
  • Kim Joon as Song Woo Bin (Main dude’s 2nd BFF)
  • Kim Bum as So Ee Jung (Main Dude’s 3rd BFF)
  • Kim So Eun as Chu Ga Eul (I forgot who this is)

WARNING!  HERE BE SPOILERS!

Anywho, I started watching this drama and at about half way through I found the Japanese version and watched that entirely before returning to this one.  So…where should I start?

Let me Mitzi-fy the plot.  Main girl gets into ultra exclusive high school run by Main dude and his 3 BFF’s. They are called F4 and have the following of a boyband (but without the singing).  Main dude ridicules Main girl and gets entire school to terrorize her in order to make her leave. Lovely.

Main girl humiliates Main dude and that makes him fall in love with her.  (?! why does this not work in real life?!)  However Main girl is in love with Main dude’s BFF #1.  Throw in typical high school shenanigans and a few episodes later BOOM! Main dude and Main girl are in love.

Follow that with Main dude’s mom being an uber beotch and literally making Main girl homeless for daring to date Main dude.  (the audacity! gasp!)  Main dude and Main girl break up, make up, break up, make up, Main dude gets amnesia and forgets Main girl.  Main dude finally remembers Main girl when she almost kills herself and he’s forced to save her. (WTF?!)

The End.

It was exhausting to watch and the plot (based on a manga that I would barely get through) had me so irritated by the implausible situations that I technically still haven’t completed it.

BUT I still it was humorous and enjoyable.

And, I really have to mention this, but this guy’s character (mannerism’s, personality, family situation and even looks) reminds me so much of a very dear friend  that passed away a few years ago that I was somewhat unsettled by it.  I mean, it’s not a compliment to be compared to a wealthy playboy that hits and runs every chance he gets, but it’s the truth.  And I think being so startled by the similarities between his character and my friend kept me watching for as long as I did.  Other than that, seeing as it was  a high school aged drama, and I’m clearly not high school aged, I don’t think I appreciated the drama as much as others would.  Don’t get me wrong, its totes rad!  I’m just not the target audience.

7/10 for playing “Almost Paradise” in every friggin’ episode.

But I’ll still take it to mean that he’s pretty.

Mitzi on… Sungyunkwan Scandal (성균관 스캔들)

As I admitted earlier, I interrupted my viewing of Sungkyunkwan Scandal because someone made me aware of Heartstrings.  Sungkyunkwan Scandal started off a bit slow so I did need a little break.

Initial thoughts: I love history and even studied hard enough to get a degree and become certified to teach several areas of the subject.  This Kdrama should be awesome. Reviews told me this Kdrama was similar to Boys Before flowers in that there is a quartet of popular men but differs in that one of those men is actually a lady.

Cast:

Actual name/ character name/ nickname to help me remember who they are

WARNING! HERE BE SPOILERS!

Mitzi-fied summary:

Gutsy Girl, born a girl but disguised as a guy, makes money for her family, and sick brother, by transcribing books in a time (1791) when women are not allowed to learn or earn money in Korea.  If she’s found out, she could be sentenced to death. (Pic of Gutsy Girl as a girl since it’s not shown much in the drama)Mazel tov! It's a girl!

Her boss at the book store where she illegally makes study guides and cheat sheets for male students, asks her if she will be a substitute test taker. She declines saying the risk is too great, even if she would be paid a lot of money.

When Gutsy Girl returns home to her mother and sick brother, she discovers her mother sold her to the Minister of War to become his second bride to pay the 100 coin debt against her family. (WTH mom?!)

Gutsy Girl immediately returns to her boss to take the test substitute job. On the test date, Gutsy Girl mistakenly attempts to take a college entrance exam for Mr. Stoic, who being so prim and proper and immovable face, alerts the proctors to Gutsy Girl’s presence. Gutsy Girl writes an insult on Mr. Stoic’s clothing and escapes capture.

Mr. Stoic, determined to get back at Gutsy Girl, sets a trap to catch her.  The insult Gutsy Girl threw at Mr. Stoic was so clever, he insists he/she take the exam for himself.  He/she does and both gain admittance to Sungkyunkwan University.

Once on school grounds, we are introduced to Mr. Ambiguous who dresses very fashionably and takes an immediate interest in Gutsy Girl as he’s sure something smells fishy.

We also meet another fellow scholar, Disenchanted Scholar (also the super hero, Red Messenger, who is a champion for justice) who was held back a few years for playing hookey so much.

On the first night, Cruel Student Body President (and son of the Minister of War) holds a hazing ceremony for the freshmen. He gives everyone a task they must have completed by midnight or they will be dunked in a river of piss.

The challenges Cruel Student Body President gives to Mr. Stoic and Gutsy Girl are designed to be impossible.  Mr. Stoic must seduce Cruel Student Body President’s little sister, Clueless. Gusty Girl must seduce Pretty Dangerous Lady who is a type of concubine that Cruel Student Body President is in love with.

Upon seeing Mr. Stoic, Clueless falls in love with him, and he, being a gentleman, does not seduce her and fails his mission.

Gutsy Girl is nice to Pretty Dangerous Lady and she thanks Gutsy Girl by giving him/her lingerie to use as proof of a liaison that didn’t actually happen.  Pretty Dangerous Lady falls in love with Gutsy Girl thinking she is a he and it only gets more awkward from there.

When Mr. Stoic is about to be thrown in a river of piss, Gutsy Girl (after having earned the nickname Big Shot for seducing Pretty Dangerous Lady when Cruel Student Body President couldn’t) requests that Mr. Stoic be saved.  He is saved but Gutsy Girl has earned an enemy in Cruel Student Body President.

Gutsy Girl, Mr. Stoic and Disenchanted Scholar are all in the same dorm room. This allows for hilarity to follow when Gutsy Girl tries to find time to change and bathe.  (can’t you just feel the awkward from this photo?)

(Ah! That’s 10x better. Much more comfortable)

Mr. Ambiguous, trying to confirm if Gutsy Girl really is a girl, tricks her into bathing in a small ceremonial hut that he claims is never used at night.  Disenchanted Scholar knows Mr. Ambiguous is up to something and follows him to the hut not knowing Gutsy Girl is in there.  Disenchanted Scholar sees more than he thought he would and learns Gutsy Girls secret.

An Archery competition is proposed.  Upon learning one of the professors knows of Gutsy Girls secret, she begs him not to kick her out of the university.  The professor says he won’t, only if she wins the archery competition.

Gutsy Girl and Mr. Stoic train for days so their dorm can win. In the process, Mr. Stoic starts to feel an attraction for Gutsy Girl. He’s unnerved by this because he still believes Gutsy Girl is a man.  Gutsy Girl starts to have feelings for Mr. Stoic as well, but holds back as she knows nothing could happen while she’s dressed as a man.

At the archery competition, Gutsy Girl, Mr. Stoic and Disenchanted Scholar beat Cruel Student Body President’s team despite sabotage.  Gutsy Girl gets to stay in school.

Mr. Ambiguous, seeing a mutual attraction between Gutsy Girl and Mr. Stoic sets up a trip for them to be alone on an island in the middle of a lake.  While on the island, Mr. Stoic realizes he likes Gutsy Girl way more than he should and decides to get engaged to Clueless who has been after him since the first night they met.

Literally, right before Mr. Stoic enters Clueless’ house to get engaged, Gutsy Girl runs into him.  Gutsy Girl is upset to see the man she loves get engaged to someone else so she runs away. Mr. Stoic chases after her and tells her that he’s leaving Sungkyunkwan to study in the mountains because he has feelings that he shouldn’t have for his friend.  (its here that I’m yelling at the screen, “Just tell him!” but she doesn’t *le sigh*)

Disenchanted Scholar, dressed as the Red Messenger, has been causing problems for the Minister of War and the Left Minister (also Mr. Stoic’s dad) so they set up a trap to catch him.  The Minister of War coerces Pretty Dangerous Lady to pretend to be the Red Messenger and capture him.  They fight and Disenchanted Scholar is injured and hobbles back to the university where Gutsy Girl learns of his secret identity.  Both Gutsy Girl and Mr. Ambiguous help Disenchanted Scholar evade capture.

The scholars take a school trip to the same mountain that Mr. Stoic is studying at.  While there, he is tricked to go outside where he runs into Gutsy Girl on the banks of a river.  Realizing they are secluded, he runs to Gutsy Girl and embraces him/her, apparently still in love and more accepting of his feelings.  He admits his feelings again and before Gutsy Girl can respond, she falls into the river causing Mr. Stoic to dive right in after.  Once Mr. Stoic has pulled Gutsy Girl from the river, he tries to get her to regain consciousness.  He starts to take her clothes off and finally realizes that his friend/roommate/love interest is a girl.  (Pic: *gasp* Where did those things come from?!)

Mr. Stoic immediately returns to the university and calls off the engagement to Clueless who cries.

The King calls in Mr. Ambiguous, Mr. Stoic, Disenchanted Scholar and Gutsy Girl to find a hidden document that will help him enact reform in his country.

After some searching, flirting between Mr. Stoic and Gutsy Girl, Mr. Stoic’s mistaken arrest for being the Red Messenger, and Gutsy Girl’s eventual outing, the document is finally found and the king tries to make a more equal Korea. Gutsy Girl and Mr. Stoic get married and become professors at the university.  Disenchanted Scholar becomes an official and Mr. Ambiguous shamelessly flirts with the ladies.

The end.

A few things:

1. So happy I watched this show.  As a lover of history, I found this window to the past to be incredibly enlightening.  Before pressing play on Sungkyunkwan Scandal, I knew very little of Korean history before the Korean War and now I feel I know a bit more (even though there were probably some liberties taken)

I really liked the struggle for Gutsy Girl to find equality and her own voice through out the show, and even how the king and other professors saw the injustice of keeping a woman down.  I would like to point out, however, that the ‘Western philosophy’ preached in the show is a bit idealistic than reality of the time.  Korean women in 1791 couldn’t learn or earn their own money…neither could American women.  During this time, an American woman was essentially her husbands property. And in France, they were too busy trying to survive the Reign of Terror to think of education.  I also found it funny how it was mentioned that Catholicism preaches equality between the sexes.  As a Catholic myself, I’ll believe that when a woman is elected Pope.    Just saying that 1791 Korean and 1791 Western culture were far more similar than this show leads on.

2. The Costumes!!!

Also found it interested that with American styles today, the tinier the hat the better (as illustrated in the Saturday Night Live skit) Meanwhile, in Korea, the bigger the better…

Hey, whatever makes you feel pretty, right?

3. This guy (Mr. Ambiguous)

When Gu Yong Ha is first introduced, I wasn’t sure if he was gay or not.  I don’t know how Korean’s view homosexuals (accepting? not accepting?).  And ultimately, I don’t even care.  He is, by far, my favorite character out of all the Kdramas I’ve seen. Incredibly fashionable, he’s always wearing bold colors and a fan.  When something needs to get done, he’s got the know how to get things rolling. The kid’s got swagger and he knows it. (Or maybe that’s just what I think since I can’t understand a word he’s saying.)

My favorite part about this character is his ability to read people’s thoughts and feelings before anyone else and he positions them like pawns on a chessboard in order to watch how they react with each other. He’s very manipulative, but not malicious. He uses his powers for good and not evil.  Like when he sent Mr. Stoic and Gutsy Girl to the island by themselves, he was hoping they both would stop the charade they were both playing and admit their feelings.  It was all with good intentions.

In other words, he’s kinda like a Greek God.

4.  Use of naughty books…

Mr. Ambiguous gave Mr. Stoic a naughty book and the look on Mr. Stoic’s face when he realized what it was is the same look I see when I catch a student reading a Romance novel.  Mortified shock.  Very few things in life are funnier than that look.

The final scene, when Mr. Stoic took the book to bed with him and Gutsy Girl ‘because he’s still inexperienced’ was quite humorous as well.

9/10 for slooooooooow start.