Category: Korea

Father Is Strange – KDrama Review

Father Is Strange – KDrama Review


I have to confess I am totally addicted to Korean dramas now. But then again there are so many good dramas that keep your mind riveted. Like for instance, this drama called Father Is Strange.

This is a family drama which is shown during the weekend – Saturday and Sunday.

It comprises of 50 episodes; as of writing, episode 18 had been shown.

So far, it has been a rollicking fun; all the actors had done their respective roles justice.

The story is about a close-knit family with a son and three daughters. Out of the blue a man, who used to be a KPop idol and now turned actor, came to see the patriarch of the family, who runs a restaurant. He blurted out that he was his son.  Imagine the mayhem this would bring to the family!

The first two episodes introduced the characters.  The mother and father are a loving, hard-working couple, very down to earth.

The eldest son is a bit of a no-hoper.  Though a gentle giant, he had spent years studying and revising for his civil servant exam, which he regularly fails.  However he is reliable and loving son and brother, if rather dopey.

The eldest daughter is Hye-Young, a very beautiful, intelligent, sophisticated lawyer, who gets what she wants. Or does she wants including secretly living with her boyfriend, an act which is still frowned upon by Korean society.

The middle daughter and presumably the real star of the drama is Mi Young.  She suffers from self-doubt and lack of confidence, having been a victim of bullying when she was in middle school.  She was obese and was bullied for it.  Despite having lost the excess weight, she is still rather shy and retiring but has moments of bravados.

The youngest daughter is Ra Young, she is an extrovert shopaholic, despite not earning much.  She falls in and out of love.

The drama deals with relationship within the family, extended family, boyfriends, girlfriends, retirement, work, etc.

What I like about this drama is that, so far, there are no annoying characters that would turn you off.   There are some nastiness but it is required to fully develop the characters, as opposed to just trying to add drama to a drama series.


Update:

Scenes by actor Ahn made me rather tearful.  You can feel his loneliness in a house full of indifferent people.

Radiant Office, KDrama Review

Radiant Office (Jachebalgwang Opiseu)

“Life is a series of blockings and openings.”
– Eun Ho-won

This drama has been consistently enjoyable.

Radiant Office, KDrama Review

Jachebalgwang Opiseu

I started watching this Korean series after having just seen two dramas: Drinking Solo and Something About 1%.  Both dramas starred Ha Seok-jin.  I enjoyed both dramas tremendously, so I invested more viewing hours on this new one having put my faith on the lead actor, Seok -jin.  Good investment. 🙂

Radiant Office shows work culture which is universal around the world. 🙂 🙂 🙂  How the newbies had to kowtow to their seniors.  They had to find their wings and develop thicker skin pronto in order to survive.

Why the drama is called Radiant Office?  I can only hazard a guess.

I think, interns, as well as the seniors, had to continuously excel in their jobs to secure or keep permanent positions.

Employees must radiate competence and cheerfulness to be deserving of their positions.

Anyway the story is about three interns who started working at Hauline, in its furniture division.  The interns have something in common, they were all treated for attempted suicide in the same hospital at the same time by an emergency doctor, who happens to be a chaebol, being the second son of the owner of Hauline.

At that same night in the hospital, all three individuals inadvertently heard a rather alarming post-suicide prognosis that one of them has a terminal illness and not much long to live, probably 6 months max.

The three did not wait to find out who was actually had the illness.

That same night, Eun Ho-won, one of the three, played by Go Ah-sung, got a text message that she passed the interview and now going to be an intern at Hauline.  Finally a result after rejections totalling to 101 job applications.

The next time the three met again was at Hauline as interns competing for a single permanent position. By that time the other two male interns had gone back in the hospital for a good check-up.  By power of deduction, it must be Eun Ho Won, who had not gone for a check up yet, who is the ill one.

Eun Ho-won, has been emboldened by her ‘illness’ that she is more confident and feisty, thinking she had really nothing to lose.  Often she would blurt out the machinations and the ails within the sales and marketing departments, contravening office politics. 🙂

The actors are amazing in portraying their respective roles.

This is a 16-episodes series and would finish next week.  What a shame.  I am going to miss it.

It is a drama-comedy.  Highly recommended.

Man to Man – KDrama Review

Man to Man – KDrama Review

A new Korean drama has just started airing on 21 April 2017, replacing the super cutésie Strong Woman Do Bong Soon.

I have looked forward to the new drama after I saw a trailer starring  Park Hae-Jin, a gorgeous clean cut Korean actor, who I first saw in the drama Cheese in the Trap.  He was so good with his role that I’ve been watching his other dramas.

He is currently starring in Man to Man.  Two episodes of the series has been released.  But I am still not really hooked.  Not because of Park Hae-Jin was lacking!  He is still very good, in fact he is maturing into a very fine actor.

But there is something about the drama that is rather off putting, at the moment.

It is the lead actress, Kim Min-Jung; her character is too full on, that you want to strangle her or even banish her from the show.  It is how they made up poor Kim MIn-Jung.   The actress is pretty but she was made to look very androgynous with her full lips and enormous big eyes highlighted by her severe fringe, she looked like not a cuddly but rather a ferocious bush baby.  She has so many scenes where she is annoyingly stalking either one of the main actors. I just wanted her to go away!

I noticed that the best scenes were the interactions between the two male leads and therefore, the female lead is really redundant.

Anyway the drama series is about a popular action star Yeo Woon-Gwang played by Park Sung-Woong, who was being used by a government agency as a cover for a secret agent Kim Sul-Woo played by Park Hae Jin, for undercover work.

Park Hae Jin, looked so cool in the beginning of the drama, where he was a member of an elite team; as sharp shooter, he saved a little girl from a terrorist but got court marshalled for insubordination.

Just for Park Hae-Jin,  I will persevere to watch a few more episodes before I give a final verdict of continuing to the end or not. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Update:

25 April 2017, I opened Netflix and found Man to Man as being shown but sadly as an instalment just like normal series on telly!

More updates:

I tried watching episode 3 but fast-forwarded a great deal of the drama.  It is just not catching my attention.  🙂 Episode 4 has also been released, at least a couple of days ago, and I am still undecided whether to watch it or not.

Probably, I’ll just let it pile up and watch the whole series in one lump.

I heard that Man to Man garnered the highest first episode rating in JTBC history.  The trailer for the show was really thrilling.  🙂 And starts Park Hae Jin.

But after the first episode, apparently there was a sharp drop in the ratings.

Sadly they might not be able to remedy the situation by making the characters, especially that of the lead actress to be more viewer friendly because the whole series was pre-packaged or it had been completed before it aired on television.

It is really important to introduce the characters  and allow development of empathy during the first episode, otherwise viewers lose interest despite good story.

Queen of Mystery – 2017 KDrama Review

Queen of Mystery

Queen of Mystery – 2017 KDrama Review

There seems to be a bit of a lull as far as Korean dramas are concerned.   Of course there are still plenty to watch but nothing really that exciting that you can’t wait for the next instalment of the series to come by.  Some of the dramas are alright but most, you can leave to pile up and wait for the whole drama to conclude and then binge-watch them all in a day (with lots of fast-forwarding) or over a weekend.

There are of course a few that are so watchable that you are left wanting for more.  One of these dramas was the Queen of mystery.

Based on the four episodes shown so far, the story is about a woman,Yoo Seol-Ok (played by Choi Gang-Hee), who is somewhat strangulated by her day to day responsibilities towards her rather onerous husband’s family.  She doesn’t really get much support from her husband either, who is busy being a prosecutor, which is a very hectic and busy job.  Her mother-in-law, though not too nasty so far, is very demanding.  There is also a rather wily sister-in-law.

To get away from the humdrum of her rather slavish life, she would hole herself in a secret room in her best friend’s restaurant.  She made a little office, where she created her own library  of information on murders, mischiefs, misdemeanours and everything else.

With keen, logical and didactic mind, she developed an excellent observational capabilities, so much so that she started going out on her own investigating crimes within her locality.

Her abilities did not go unnoticed; before too long a still rookie lieutenant of the police force started consulting her with minor crimes, which she solved with 100% accuracy.

An experienced but rather maverick police officer, Ha Wan-Seung (played by the gorgeous Kwon Sang-Woo) was transferred to her local police station and did not like her involvement with the police.  He basically told her to go home and look after her house; cook for her husband.  Solving crime is not for bored housewives.

Of course, with all the initiating forces coming together, Ha Wan-Seung started to think that the ajumma (an aged or mature married woman) can be of use in an investigation after a seemingly ordinary burglary turned into a murder as the ajumma rightly predicted.

The chemistry between the leads is good.  You can see them working together and could lead to a possible romance.

Little hints have been given that her husband is known in the police force as being single, he is also working away from home all the time.

I can’t wait to see how this drama develops.  It ticks all the boxes of a good drama, so far.  I do love a bit of action and of course I would never say NO to a bit of romance. either 🙂

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon – KDrama

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon – KDrama

Do Bong Soon, 27 years old, has a super power.  She is very strong.  The source of her extraordinary strength came from her maternal side of the family.  The power is limited by righteousness. Her grandma has still got hers, her mom lost hers because she used her strength to bully people for money. Bong Soon got it in spade.  The grandmother hoped to instil to Bong Soon to use her power to do good only.

Do Bong Soon lives in Dobong-don in Dobong-gu, where a serial kidnapper is in operation.

This Korean drama is so cute, saccharine-sweet most of the time because the three leading characters are so aesthetically perfect.  There is romance overload – a love triangle, comedy as well as tense moments due a serial kidnapper on the loose.

Park Hyung Sik plays Ahn Min-hyuk, a CEO of Ainsoft, who witnessed Do Bong Soon’s (played by Park Bo-young) amazing strength first hand.  He found Bong Soon’s sassy attitude sexy and rather alluring. At that time he was being plagued by a blackmailer.  He needed a bodyguard and who better to hire than the superwoman, Bong Soon.

Bong Soon has been in love with Gook Du (played by the gorgeous, Ji Soo),  a police office in the violent crime division since they where in middle school.  Gook Du however had a girlfriend, thus treated Bong Soon like a rather annoying, scatterbrain younger sister.

As the drama progressed, Bong Soon found herself being attracted to Min-hyuk, who pursues her relentlessly.  She finally reliased that ‘crush’ has an expiry date, which was rather bad news for Gook Du, who happened to break up with his girlfriend and acknowledges that he felt more for Bong Soon more than he realised. But he was a tad too late.  He did tell her the there was always something amiss with their ‘timing’.

Just another two whole weeks for this drama.  I am missing it already.

Heartbeat by Suran Official soundtrack

Curing Cramps a la Korean

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Curing Cramps a la Korean

I have been watching quite a few Korean dramas lately and I often see something rather strange practised time and again by some of the drama characters.

I am talking about touching their tongue with their index finger and then their nose, they do this a few times.

Currently I am watching Reply 1997, a very good coming of age drama which I can highly recommend.

One of the boys had a girl sleeping soundly with her head on his legs.  Instead of waking her up,he started licking his index finger and then touching the tip of his nose several times.

I google about this strange thing and came up with how to cure a cramp a la Korean.  It figures then that the boy had a cramp from the weight of the girl’s head across his legs.

I will try it if it works the next time I get a leg cramp! 😉

 

Wilted Spinach a la Korean

Wilted Spinach a la Korean

Wilted Spinach, Photo by JMorton

Wilted Spinach a la Korean

I have seen Korean dramas where the obedient daughter in law making the mother in law tastes her wilted spinach called sigeumchi-namul.  I must admit the stringy wilted spinach looked so appetising! And not only that, spinach is a superfood as it contains a multitude of vitamins and minerals.

Below is an easy recipe to follow and enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 500g spinach, cleaned and washed
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 stalk green onion, chopped
  • 1½ teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Directions

  1. Boil 10 cups of water in a large casserole or sauce pan.
  2. Drop in the spinach into the boiling water and blanch quickly for a minute, stirring  continuously using a wooden ladle.
  3. Remove from heat and drain the spinach using a colander, then rinse in cold water.
  4. Squeeze into a ball to remove excess water
  5. Mix the spinach with garlic, green onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds by hand.  Korean dramas show the lady/ladies of the house covering their hands with transparent plastic gloves.  (gloves are available in most supermarkets in the West)
  6. Transfer into a serving bowl and sprinkle with the roasted spinach.
  7. Serve as a side to rice and meats.
  8. Enjoy.

Egg Rolls Recipe

I have been seeing lots of egg rolls as a side dish in many Korean and Japanese drama.  It looks so good that I thought I should try making some.

It is fairly easy to make and quite quick as well.  Just remember to cook these under very low heat to give you a chance to manoeuvre the egg pancake into a fairly neat roll without burning it.

Egg Rolls Recipe

Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon green part of spring onion, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning
Instructions
  1. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, beat in the milk and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Whisk until combined and no lumps are left, otherwise run into a sieve to remove any remaining lumps.
  2. Add in the carrot, onion and spring onion and stir until combined.
  3. Lightly oil a medium size frying pan or a pancake pan over a low heat.
  4. Pour in half of the egg mixture into the pan, when half-way cooked, slowly and carefully fold the omelette into a roll using a flat spatula and a pair of chopsticks (if available) and push it into the left side of the pan. As a space is created from the omelette roll, pour in half of the remaining egg mixture to it.  When the consistency starts to set, connect it by rolling it to the first batch, thus creating another layer.  Finally pour in the remaining egg mixture; do the same, roll in to make a stack.  Just imagine making a Swiss Roll. 🙂
  5. Transfer to a chopping board and slice into bite size pieces.

Enjoy!

Quick Kimchi Rice Recipe

Quick Kimchi Rice, Photo by JMorton

Quick Kimchi Rice Recipe

My quick kimchi rice was really the quickest most basic recipe ever.  It was just kimchi, freshly boiled hot steaming basmati rice, a bit of olive oil and kimchi juice.  I also added the heated marinade from the peri-peri chicken I was cooking at the same time. 🙂  Mix together to make a delicious rice dish to go with meat  (in this case the peri-peri chicken) or vegetable dish.

Below is the more standard Korean recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2-3 cups boiled rice
  • ¾ cup kimchi, chopped
  • ¼ cup kimchi juice (if are not making your own kimchi 🙂 , you can get the juice from packet or a large jar of kimchi available in any Oriental supermarket.)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2-3 tablespoons gochujang (hot red pepper paste)
  • 1½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 stalk spring onion, chopped finely
  • 1 sheet of kim, (also known as gim is a Korean’s edible seaweed much like the Japanese’ nori) roasted and shredded
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Heat up a large frying pan or a wok.
  2. Add the vegetable oil.
  3. Quickly stir-fry the kimchi; for a minute under high heat.
  4. Stir in the rice, kimchi juice, water, and gochujang.
  5. Continue stirring the ingredients together for 5-7 minutes.
  6. Drizzle the sesame oil and remove from the heat.
  7. Finally sprinkle the chopped spring onion and crumbled roasted gim,
  8. Serve hot!

 

Korean Yellow Pickled Radish

pickled radish, photo by jmortonn

pickled radish, photo by JMorton

Korean Yellow Pickled Radish

Due to excessive, almost obsessive newly acquired habit of watching Korean dramas (Kdramas), Korean way of life as depicted on television has influenced how Peter and I eat our dinner.

Suddenly we are going to Korean restaurant to try Korean cuisine, which thankfully is rather good

Korean pickled radish is daikon radish

Ingredients
  • 1 large daikon (labanos) radish
  • 2 cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 11/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorn
  • 3 bay leaves
  • distilled tall pickling jar
Instructions
  1. Peel the daikon and cut in half lenghtwise; each half cut crosswise in two parts or 3 portions if radish is really long.
  2. Arrange the pieces standing up into the tall pickling jar.
  3. Make the pickling liquid by mixing the vinegar, sugar, salt turmeric, bay leaves and pepper corns together.
  4. Pour the spiced vinegar over the pieces of daikon.  Ensure that they are soaked through with the the pickling marinade.
  5. Cover the jar and leave overnight in the fridge.
  6. Store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Delicious as addition to grilled meat, fish and vegetables also as a side to a freshly made ramen soup.