Thursday, May 12, 2016

Prince of Ballad



By now I've seen many episodes of the variety show, 1 Night 2 Days and I know Sung Si Kyung is a good singer but I haven't really watched any of his performances on Youtube or really listened to his songs. My introduction to SSK was through Joo Won when I watched Baker King Special and saw Joo Won performed the song "Two People." I fell in love with the song but I didn't seek out the original version and the original singer. 

Also, he mentions Sung Si Kyung's songs a lot during interviews before. He seems to really like listening and singing to his songs. Then I watched 1N2D season 2 because of Joo Won and surprisingly, Sung Si Kyung was also one of the new casts. They call him "The Prince of Ballad." But you know how 1N2D is such an image ruiner and since I haven't seen SSK on any other show, I only saw him as this really huge guy who is super strong, smart (even though they nicknamed him Idiot Sung), competitive, and with a huge appetite. Everyone goes hungry on that show but for some reason, when I think of food, my first thought will be Sung Si Kyung. It also didn't help that I've seen him without his glasses and he doesn't really look that good without them so I didn't find him swoon worthy. (Although, I swooned every time he cooks. That's one of my weaknesses, a guy who knows how to cook.)

But then, for some reason, while watching a 1N2D episode last night, I started looking up Sung Si Kyung's video performances on Youtube. I think my jaw dropped to the floor when I watched him. Haha. I mean, like I said, I KNOW he is a good singer but it's like it didn't hit me just how great he is - not until that moment. And while watching him sing I understood why girls swoon over him. I did too. 

Below are some of Sung Si Kyung's video performances however the first video is the album version of "Two People" which is my favorite SSK song.

edit: 12May2016, 1948H - Just found out that most of the videos I previously embedded here cannot be played outside Youtube so I have to change them.


 
"Two People"

 "Two People" (Live Version)

"You Are My Spring"

"It's You" 

"If" 

"I Believe"


"Mandy"
and he sings really well in English too!

 "She"
(I couldn't find a replacement video for this one 
so just head over to YT. You won't regret it. It's one
of the best renditions of this song.)

 
He really deserves the title "The Prince of Ballad."








Friday, May 6, 2016

Discovering Joo Won



I've never been into an actor this much in such a short time. I got to know him more than a month ago and now I've become such a huge fan. I'm highly impressed with his acting skills, his singing voice and his personality. I love how simple, hardworking and sincere he is.

I was lurking around Joo Won's page in a forum when I was struck by an idea for this post. There were newbies there introducing themselves and old members wanting to know how they discovered Joo Won. I asked myself the same question and I realized that my discovery of Joo Won was kind of interesting in its own way.

The thing is, I've met Joo Won (on TV, that is) a couple of times in the past. Baker King, Kim Tak Gu was a huge hit in my country. I didn't follow it but I've seen some episodes. Back then Eugene was one of my favorite actresses (loved her ever since I watched Save The Last Dance For Me) however the drama was shown on another network and in our household, we don't really watch anything from that network. And honestly, the title Baker King didn't perk up my interest that much coz I'm pretty sure it's about people being dramatic over baking and I didn't think that was my cup of tea.

Fast forward to 2014 and the news of a Nodame Cantabile remake made a huge noise all over dramaland. I am a huge fan of Nodame Cantabile (the manga, anime, and especially the Jdorama which is my all time favorite Japanese drama) and when I heard about this, I was surprised and honestly, very, very unwilling.
Though very much unwilling, I was still obviously interested. I kept close watch over the casting announcement. Joo Won was casted first. I didn't know him so rather than comment on his acting skills, I just thought he didn't look 'Chiaki' enough for me BUT since he was unfamiliar to me, I was a bit against with his casting. A little shallow, I know. And then at that time, Yoona's name was also mentioned. I like Yoona as an idol but as an actress, not really. (I've seen some of her dramas though I could never finish them). At the very beginning, I already think that Chiaki and Nodame should only be Tamaki Hiroshi and Ueno Juri, then they go and cast someone that 1) I do not know (JW) and 2) do not trust the acting skills (Y). So, I was really disappointed with the casting announcement at that time.
(how sad that this was my very first mention of Joo Won on my Twitter)

But thankfully, they ended up with an actress instead of an idol. I watched the first 5 episodes and I remember thinking that the leads delivered.

However, I wasn't able to finish that drama the first time around. I was too biased to the original and I kept comparing. It also didn't help that the drama was still finding its footing during the first few episodes. I dropped it.

In 2015 (latter half), there was so much buzz for Yongpal on my twitter timeline. I was curious about it and I think I've opened Yongpal's wiki page more times that I'd like but in 2015, I was more immersed in watching American TV series (I was watching around 15 series at that time) so I didn't have the time to watch an Asian drama. 

Now, here starts my true discovery of Joo Won. I tried to be detailed as I can and it helps that I've got tweets from that time to prove it. It was March 27, 2016 and I was watching Cheese in the Trap fanvids on Youtube when I chanced upon this 'collab collection' video. Perhaps I thought the thumbnail pic was cute (I'm pretty sure it was because of Kim Jae Won) that's why I decided to click it. Sure enough, it was an interesting collection of fanvids for different dramas. I actually made a mental note to check some of them.


Around 01:29 mark, the fanvid for Ojakgyo Brothers showed up. I didn't know this drama AT ALL. Somehow, I haven't even heard of it. (Maybe because it was one of those weekend dramas) But in just a couple of seconds, I got so interested in the OTP. They were cute and I wanted to know more of their love story. On the 'Suggestions' column, there was this another fanvid for Ojakgyo Brothers featuring this OTP.



This video did it for me. I was already invested and I really want to watch the drama. However, Google informed me that it has 58 episodes and I got intimidated. 58 episodes for an American drama are nothing but 58 episodes for a Korean drama seem like forever. 
So I just made a mental note to watch that drama some time and went back to the fanvid. Once again, on the 'Suggestions' column, there was this another fanvid. Thumbnail pic looked interesting and even more so is the content. 


Here was the cute guy from the Ojakgyo Brothers fanvid but now he looks more badass and scary (he was a police officer during the Japanese occupation in the 1930s) and there was so much hate between him and this girl from the video (and he was actually torturing her at one point) but what was weird was, I can actually sense chemistry between them. I admit, I'm quite a sucker for enemies turned lovers. My so-called 'OTP of all OTPs' and 'Ship of all Ships' which is LoVe (Logan & Veronica from 'Veronica Mars') were enemies turned lovers (although technically, they were friends first then turned enemies then turned lovers).

So, once again, I got curious. Are these two the drama's OTP or is this some wishful thinking non-OTP pairing coming from a fan? I checked Wiki and the plot of the drama Gaksital aka Bridal Mask looks interesting. And it's definitely something that I would like. It has 28 episodes. It was still pretty daunting to me but I checked the first episode and was blown away. I ended up binge-watching that drama. When it ended, I was a mess. That's how good that drama was. It was such a rare feat in dramaland for a drama to start off strong and remain strong for 28 episodes. The finale was amazing and the ending scene was particularly powerful and exceptionally moving. 

Below are evidences of my gushing about the show.
There is romance in this show with the OTP mentioned above. Here's what they look like when they're not hating and trying to kill each other.


 (those smiles are so beautiful)
  
When it ended, I got 2 things from it. One - the drama became my all time favorite Korean drama and two - I had this so much love for the actor who played the main character. That's when I started to research Joo Won. Imagine my surprise when I realized that he's the lead actor in Cantabile Tomorrow and Yong Pal, and he was also in Baker King. I decided then to do a Joo Won drama marathon. After Gaksital, I watched Ojakgyo Brothers. It was a nice family drama with 4 mini love stories but I was into it so much because of Joo Won and his pairing with UEE that got me so in love. They were the main OTP and I like that this drama was long so the romance aspect was super satisfying. I mean, just look at this lovely couple. (And I didn't even have to include the kissing scenes GIFs and there were so many!!!)


(Hwang Tae Hee and Baek Ja Eun have properly earned their spot in my Top 5 OTPs)


After OB, I watched Cantabile Tomorrow next. The show found its footing after the first few episodes and since I watched it with an open mind the second time around, I actually enjoyed it. Good Doctor was my next since every one said Joo Won did such a fine job on his role as an autistic doctor with savant syndrome. It was a bit painful to watch because of the constant belittling and shaming but it was a heartwarming drama with Joo Won indeed showcasing major acting chops. He should've really won a Daesang for this role. After that was Yong Pal. The first 6 episodes were amazing but it slowly went downhill. Although if you watch it with low expectations (which I did coz I've read the reviews), you will enjoy it.  Joo Won's acting is still topnotch though not his best- maybe because of the limitations of the role. My next drama was 7th Grade Civil Servant. This one also needed to be watched with even lower expectations. I actually speedwatched the drama. It was a mess and Joo Won had no chemistry with Choi Kang Hee (which is such a shame considering how much he likes her in real life). The only saving grace was that it was Joo Won's first ever romantic comedy so it was nice seeing a different side of him when acting. A cute, funny, sometimes lovesick Joo Won is not bad at all.

 
I'm currently on my last Joo Won drama which is Baker King, Kim Tak Gu. This is his debut drama where he played the antagonist Gu Ma Jun. It's kinda difficult to watch coz Joo Won's playing such a mean guy. Baker King was a huge hit at that time with its highest rating reaching 50.8% (this is unheard of nowadays) and I'm so happy that this was Joo Won's first ever drama and his character was interesting, complicated and more layered. It actually makes me want to root for him but every time he does bad things, it's like I get disappointed time and time again. I chastise him every time on the screen.

While watching Baker King, I also watched a few episodes of 1 Night 2 Days. I’ve seen some clips and I like how the program showcases his shy personality which is also full of aegyoness (cuteness). I also like that he is strong and competitive in some games. As of the moment, I’m enjoying 1N2D so much that I’ve put Baker King on a short hiatus. Well, not really, I still watch it like an episode or two a day but I’m no longer binge-watching it. To be honest, I’ve watched all Joo Won’s scenes and I know basically how the story goes and how it ends. I don’t want to speedwatch it like I did with 7th Grade Civil Servant because Baker King, even with all its makjang glory, actually has an engaging story.

1N2D is giving me so much joy every time I watch it. Sure there are some boring episodes but I love the casts and their bromance so much that it is actually the highlight. During the time Gaksital was airing, Joo Won was already in 1N2D. I love it when I read old recaps and how everyone (audience, netizens) was having whiplash because of his character. It's like they cannot comprehend that the cute maknae who aegyos around his hyungs and scared of bugs is the badass, masked vigilante Lee Kang To in Gaksital. It impressed everyone and made them appreciate his acting talent even more. (coz he is such a big baby in real life)

 
In between watching his dramas, I've also watched his interviews and guestings. I personally love his Win Win and Healing Camp interviews, and his guestings on Happy Together. The story of the way he got to debut and casted was like a story from a drama. He got to debut as a lead in the musical, Altar Boyz, when his university senior heard him singing while he was cleaning the stage and recommended him to audition. He was the understudy for the lead in Spring Awakening but he prepared so much (memorizing the songs and dances, taking notes of the lead actor’s acting, reading the script twice every day) that when the lead actor injured himself during the first full rehearsal, they made him perform and he got through it successfully. He got double casted for Spring Awakening and was given 150 of the total 250 performances. During the audition for Baker King, the producers and directors didn't like him to play Gu Ma Jun coz he was a novice but the writer liked him so much that she didn't want to do the drama unless Joo Won was casted.


I like how each time he gets interviewed, it further shows how much of a non-celebrity he is. During his Healing Camp interview, he revealed that he was asked by the media as to why he seemed different from other actors his age. He said, at the moment, it seems that he's only walking towards the path of acting. Fellow actor Jung Woong In (in a video interview) said that people may think he is boring because he has caused no event incidents, has no scandals and no mishaps on set (has never even been late). His attitude hasn't changed (still humble) and he only thinks of acting. Personally, I like how simple he is. He doesn't even have extravagant hobbies. He considers drinking coffee at a cafe with friends, going for a drive and walking for long hours (8-9hours) his hobbies. 

When you read and watch his interviews, the word "sincere" gets thrown around a lot. Almost everyone who gets to interview Joo Won had remarked that he is such a sincere guy. He listens to questions intently and answers them earnestly. He is known for his lack of pretense. One article from OSEN recently dubbed him as an "Icon of Integrity" and "Icon of Sincerity."  
 
CLEO interview, August 2015

I haven’t started his movies yet but I’m looking forward to (some of) them. (Honestly, I checked Fashion King and it doesn’t look like my cup of tea). I’m excited for his new dramas although I’m really skeptical of a sageuk My Sassy Girl and Chinese drama means dubbed voices. But I trust Joo Won and even if I don’t enjoy the story, I always enjoy his acting.

He’ll be enlisting for military this year and as a new fan, that saddens me coz I’ve been devouring all his shows one after another and after I’m done with them, that means for 2 years, I will have no regular dose of Joo Won. I really regret the fact that I just learned about him this year. Oh well, better late than never. 




 

Miscellaneous stuff: Joo Won singing!!! (I love his voice so much.)


 Song: Instinctively (Win Win)

 Song: Two People  (Baker King Special)

Song: This is the Moment | Korean ver. 
(Lee Seung-yeon and 100 Women)

 Song: Snow Flower (1 Night 2 Days)

Song: If I Were (Yoo Hee Yeol's Sketchbook)

Song: Judgement Day (KBS Drama Awards 2012)

Song: Honey (Happy Together)




Monday, June 1, 2015

For The Love of J



It's been a while since I've updated but this time I'm not here to post a review of something. I'm here to actually talk about celebrity crushes. Obviously, having celebrity crushes is nothing new and I have a lot of them over the years but I just realized that the celebrities that I admire the most have something in common. They are all of course good looking and talented but they have another thing in common - their names (either first, second or last names) start with the letter J. It's an amusing coincidence and it's not like I have a preference with the letter J or something - it just turned out like that. 

Below is the list of my celebrity crushes over the years. It's arranged with the person that I like the most on top. (warning: pics and GIF heavy post)

1. MATSUMOTO JUN
(Japanese)


For those who don't know, Jun is the 1/5 of the Japanese pop idol group Arashi. I first got to know him when his drama, Gokusen, aired in the local channel back in 2006. I was on my summer break during my first year in college and I watched that show everyday. I was so in love with him. Haha. Also, because of him, I became an Arashi fan and the rest is history.





2. JASON DOHRING
(American)


He played Logan Echolls in the TV drama Veronica Mars and he is the half of my so-called "OTP to end all OTPs and Ship of all Ships" which is LoVe (Logan and Veronica). Jason is a really talented actor and he is also a lovable person in real life (based on his interviews, fan accounts and accounts of other people in the industry). I need him back on TV. 




3. JO IN SUNG
(South Korean)



First saw him the amazing sitcom Nonstop 2 and that was way back in 2001. I love that show so much and I used to wake up at 5am just to watch the repeat broadcast. I can't forget his pairing with Square-Face (that's what they call her in the show). They were so funny. Jo In Sung is my second longest celebrity crush. 






4. JERRY YAN
(Taiwanese)


Dao Ming Si from Meteor Garden and a member of the defunct F4. You can say that F4 is my very first idol group and after all these times, I still love them. Jerry is my favorite.




5. (tie) JIMMY LIN
(Taiwanese)


Arashi fans always mention Nino as forever 17. In my Taiwanese fandom, they call this guy as Jimmy "forever young" Lin. I first saw him in Amazing Twins but the show that made me a fan was My Lucky Star. Jimmy is a singer, actor, a successful businessman, photographer and a professional race car driver. He is amazing!





5. (tie) BRADLEY JAMES
(English)



He's the one that inspired this post. I knew Bradley from a few episodes of Merlin that I caught in the local cable channel back when it was still airing. He recently guest starred in iZombie and I realized, I missed him. I downloaded all 5 seasons of Merlin and started watching from the start. Now, I'm so in love with the show and I'm just a bit sad that I didn't watch it when it was airing. Bradley is so good in this series and I love his interactions and bromance with Colin Morgan who plays Merlin. I also found a new OTP with Arthur and Guinevere. 


*perfect smile is PERFECT*




6. PIOLO JOSE PASCUAL
(Filipino)


It could be the year 1998 or 1999 when Piolo joined the cast of Esperanza as Brian and I first saw him. I know there are a lot of rumors surrounding him but whatever, he is still Papa P to me. Haha. He is my longest celebrity crush. 





7. DAN JONATHAN STEVENS
(English)


My dear Matthew Crawley. You broke my heart when you died. And I still can't forgive you for ruining the MatthewxMary OTP. I love him in The Guest and I'm excited to see him as Beast in Beauty and the Beast.



*He looks so different! But still hot!*

A cute coincidence isn't it? I think the only celebrity crush that I have that doesn't have J in his name is Keanu Charles Reeves. =)






*pics and GIFs from Google and Tumblr, others credited on image

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Orange Marmalade




“We have feelings too, believe it or not. 
Just like you people, we also fall in love and get hurt.”


This will be my first webtoon review! I just got into webtoons last year and at first I was not used to its reading format since I’m more of a manga fan. Webtoon is basically manhwa style webcomic and the first webtoon that I’ve read was Cheese in the Trap but the one that got me really obsessed was Noblesse. Both series are still ongoing. I found CitT boring in the first few chapters but when I got back to it after Noblesse went on a break, I fell in love with it too.

Anyway, I just finished this series an hour ago and I’m writing this while everything is still quite fresh in my mind. 

The protagonist in this story is Baek Ma Ri, a teenage vampire trying to live a normal student life. The story is set in the modern world but it is a world where vampires are known to co-exist with humans. They’re known to no longer drink human blood but still people are afraid of them and think of them as monsters. If the humans feel uncomfortable with vampires in their community, they can easily report and have them banished from the place. The vampires in this world are treated like an oppressed race. So most vampires keep their identity a secret and Ma Ri is also the same. 


Unfortunately, she had an unprecedented encounter with the most popular guy in school - Jung Jae Min - and that’s when her life gets even more complicated. It is a romance story through and through but this one had the male lead falling in love first. 

The art is beautiful and I appreciate that most webtoons are in color so it’s like watching/reading anime. If we used the Japanese manga classification, this is a shoujo manga complete with bishoujos and bishounens. The color definitely adds impact and it makes the scene more alive. The author sometimes also use chibi (small) versions of the characters and they are absolutely cute too.

 


The story isn’t overly complicated. The premise is intriguing but the storytelling is quite simple in its execution. There are some predictable tropes and overly used scenarios. It comes across as shallow sometimes. The main characters’ pasts were discussed but it felt lacking somehow. The last few chapters felt rushed. It turned dark one chapter and then turned fluffy the next. The ending was a bit vague and it left quite a number of questions but it ended on a good and happy note. I would consider it perfect though if it ended like that because a sequel is in the works.



However, even a simple story can impart a message. Anti-bullying and anti-discrimination are Orange Marmalade’s. The scenes showing those left a bigger impact on me than the romantic scenes. But the romantic scenes are cute too.



I like it. Although Jae Min made me uncomfortable at times, it was a cute and romantic read that also gives a small pinch to the heart. 







PS. Apparently, there will be a drama adaptation of this webtoon. 
PS2. This is one of my favorite lines. 

FOOD as son in law! Hahahaha.



*Pics screengrabbed from the scanlated version



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