Search: WWW (2019)


Drama: Search: WWW (검색어를 입력하세요: WWW)
Network: tvN
Episodes: 16
Release Date: June 5 – July 25, 2019
Runtime: Wed. & Thu. 21:30
This drama tells story of three beautiful, successful and strong female directors in the web portal industry: Bae Ta-Mi, Cha Hyeon and Song Ga-Gyeong, as they compete to be the best web portal company and balance their professional and personal lives.
Main Cast
Lim Soo-Jung – Bae Ta-Mi
Lee Da-hee – Cha Hyeon
Jeon Hye Jin – Song Ga-Gyeong
Jang Ki Yong – Park Morgan
Lee Jae Wook – Seol Ji Hwan
Ji Seung Hyun – Oh Jin Woo
Wow! I loved this show so much I binged watched in just 4 days. I was blown away with everything and can’t think of anything I didn’t like.
Web portal vs Government
This topic of this drama was very timely and important since more and more users are depending on web portals to get real time information. I didn’t realize that’s how these web portal companies work and how powerful they can be with all the information they have. Reminds of the recent Facebook issue and all the discussions on political agendas and fake news that is being experienced around the world. Interested to hear more about real time keyword search and how web portals can actually delete these keywords if needed. I love that the drama showed various sides of the story, there is no right or wrong way, and we need to learn to consider all options and that big companies have the responsibility to manage the information, esp if it will have a significant affect to the people. I also liked the working style of Barro vs Unicon. While I liked that Unicon is more traditional, I liked Barro for being more open and where each individual’s opinions are considered. I also would love having a boss like Brian and maybe Tammy – they are good people to learn from. As for the evil mother-in-law, I have always seem to watch the actress play pitiful characters so was surprised to see her be so effective at being cruel and manipulative. So glad she got what she deserved at the end.
Women empowerment
I love that the story focused on three very different but equally confident, successful and gorgeous career women. Society has always demanded that when women reach a certain age and status in life, women should be married with children and if you’re single, it seems that there is something wrong with you — like you are too career focused or too intimidating and that you have such high standards. There is nothing wrong with aiming high and not wanting to be married and have children. Each one has different choices in life and there is no life that is more fulfilling or worth it than the other. I liked what Tammy said to Morgan — why is it that when a women decides that she doesn’t want to marry, she has to explain her reasons and it’s considered as abnormal? This is so true. I’m not sure who started this whole, “you have to be married with kids or else you’re not a woman or not fulfilled” thinking but this has to stop since it just puts pressure on women, which does not happen to men. Not that I’m saying that being a married career women is wrong either – in fact I admire these women and I have a lot of friends who juggle career and family and do it so well. I just mean that single women can also thrive and be happy with or without a love life and no one should belittle them for not wanting to reach their dreams and career goals.  Likewise, I loved the support/friendship that these women have with each other. They may argue/fight/disagree but these women check each other when one is crossing the line, comfort each other when one is down and support each other when necessary.
I also love that their personal (love) lives were secondary to the story. It’s nice to see that they have good support and interests outside of work. Tammy, Ga Gyeong and Hyeon’s romances were all different but I also love them.
Tammy and Morgan’s relationship was the most realistic and relatable. They tackle the usual issues about the age gap, differing values and I was happy to see it “resolved” in the end. I agree with Morgan, it’s too early to think about the future and the end and they should instead focus on the present. But my practical and mature self agrees with Tammy, why start something when you know it’s going to end? Why go through the heartache? Life is so short, if not being with each other is just not making you happy, then why not just be happy together? Even if years from now their relationship ends, it will not be useless because they would have had many wonderful memories and moments together and that is something you can never get back. As each person grows older and people’s habits and likes change over time, maybe Morgan will realize he doesn’t need marriage to be happy or maybe Tammy may realize marriage may not be so bad at all. They won’t be sacrificing anything if their opinions change naturally.
Hyeon and Ji Hwan’s relationship is the total opposite of Tammy and Morgan. I felt it was too childish/unrealistic/fantasy-ish but I don’t mind. I thought they were too cute. It was like every fan girl noona’s dream to meet and fall in love with their favorite Korean actor/kpop idol, even though they are younger (haha. PSJ or CSW for me!). Hyeon is fed up with all the cheaters and Ji Hwan is such a pure soul/puppy and they are perfect for each other. I love that Hyeon looks so fierce at work but so giggly and girly when she’s with Ji Hwan. The same way that Tammy may be tough and independent at work but becomes a cute lady and dependent when she’s with Morgan.
Ga Gyeong and Jin woo’s relationship was the saddest, yet one i’m most optimistic for. Theirs was a marriage of convenience and they were almost strangers for 10 years. And when they both took a stand and divorced, it was only then we saw a glimpse / glimmer of hope that maybe, when you take out KU Group, Unicon, and the pressures and just put them together in one room, maybe they can start over just as a man and a woman. I didn’t expect that Ga Gyeong will resign from Unicon but I think it was the best decision she has made — she finally got her wish to disappear and live her own life. most especially away from her parents (who I nominate as worst parents of the decade!!)
And everything else!
The fashion (I loved all of their power suits!!), their makeup (Hyeon’s lips, Tami’s hair, Ga Gyeong’s eyes), the cars, the soundtrack, the shots. New “oppas” to add to my endless collection – Jang Ki Yong and Lee Jae Wook.
Overall, I would say this is one of the best dramas I watched all year and I’m glad I’m closing the year with such a great feeling!
Rating: 9/10

Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung (2019)


Drama: Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung (신입사관 구해령)
Network: MBC
Episodes: 40
Release Date: July 17 – September 26, 2019
Runtime: Wednesday & Thursdays 21:00 (35 minutes each / 2 episodes per day)
This drama tells a fictionalized story of the first female historians in Korea. Goo Hae Ryung is a smart, progressive female historian who is not afraid to speak up when necessary. One day, she meets and argues with Yi Rim, who she later founds out to be Prince Dowon, the son of the King. She is assigned to follow his daily activities in Nokseodang.
Main Cast
Shin Se Kyung – Goo Hae-Ryung
Cha Eun Woo – Yi Rim / Prince Dowon
Park Ki Woong – Yi Jin / Crown Prince
Lee Ji Hoon – Min U Won
Please check out my previous posts for my detailed review of each episode until episode 17. This is the only historical drama I watched all year and I was not disappointed. It took a lot of time for me to complete the drama, mostly because I was so busy with work and recording an audio comment for each episode was hard work, especially trying to fit everything in under one minute.
Gu Hae Ryung and Prince Dowon
I liked this drama, mostly for Gu Hae Ryung – I thought she was a great heroine — so ahead of her time. She was smart and compassionate, she apologizes when she’s wrong and speaks up when she’s right. I also liked Prince Dowon – he may be young and naïve but like Gu Hae Ryung, he stands up to his father/king when needed. I also loved their relationship, I didn’t even feel that the Prince was younger than Hae Ryung – they complemented each other well. The only thing I didn’t like with Hae Ryung was when she kept everything she knew hidden until around episode 17 or 18. She knew so much yet never spoke about it to anyone – maybe it wouldn’t have gotten that far had she talked to her brother.
The historians
I already mentioned in one of the episodes that I didn’t like the historians group. I don’t know if they made the team purposely funny/light hearted but I didn’t like how they were always looking down at the 4 female historians, esp. at the start, and they don’t seem like they are really working (they just kept complaining that they have too much work). Even when they finally stood up against the others since their historian pride is being trampled on, I still didn’t like the team. Even the girls, to be honest. Sa Hui and the two girls who kept whining. Even the stony faced Min U Won – was just okay, he let the team down so often by being silent and only in the end when he led the protest against this father did it feel like he finally got free from his father’s shadow.
I also liked how the drama tackled the role of historians in history. They say that the winners write the history and to some extent, it makes sense. I liked that topics such as how much and what kind of information need to be documented since these are the things that the future generations will read and learn from. Also, how much influence does the king have on what is being written and how independent should these historians be (what if they also try to manipulate the truth?)
The King, the Second State Counsellor and the Queen Dowager
Ugh. Hated them to pieces. especially the smug face of the second state counsellor. The story took some time to tell the story of what happened to HoDam and that night. Even now I still don’t understand the motivation of the second state counsellor and why he was so bad. But then I guess it’s really greed for power and being afraid of the change that Ho Dam was initiating that time. As for the Queen Dowager, it must have been terrible for her to find out her son killed her other son and she had to wait for so long to avenge her son’s death. Oh I didn’t particularly like or dislike the Crown Prince so I don’t have anything else to say except he would be a better king that his father. He is more just and listens to the people.
Mohwa and Jae Kyung
Another brave and bold woman ahead of the time was Mohwa. I love her and Jae Kyung. I thought all this time that Jae Kyung was a traitor but it turns out he had no choice that time and he was being biding his time when he can redeem himself. He’s a nice guy to take care and raise Hae Ryung all along.
Special mention
I loved Sambo, the two funny handmaidens and Hae Ryung’s hand maiden!! They are too hilarious and made the show easier to watch.
Overall, this drama is not the best historical drama but worth the watch once.
Rating: 7/10

When Camellia Blooms (2019)


Drama: When the Camellia Blooms (동백꽃 필 무렵)
Network: KBS2
Episodes: 40
Release Date: September 18 – November 21, 2019
Runtime: Weds. & Thurs. 22:00
Dong-Baek is a single mother who moved to a small town of Ongsan 8 years ago. She has 1 child and she runs the neighborhood bar called Camellia. The neighbors don’t like her except for one mother, who became her best friend. One day, her best friend’s son, Yong Sik moves back to Ongsan and immediately falls in love with Dong Baek. Yong Sik finds out that there was a series of murders a few years ago in Ongsan and DB seems to be the new target.
Main Cast
Gong Hyo Jin – Dong Baek
Kang Ha-neul – Hwang Yongsik
Kim Ji Suk – Kang Jong Ryeol
I couldn’t decide what this drama was — at times it was a sweet noona romance, other times it became a really heavy drama about mothers and the strained relationships between their children, and another side where there’s a chilling murderer on the loose. I think trying to mix these 3 plots somehow brought down the drama since I kept switching from one emotion to another.
Sweet noona romance
To be honest, at first i didn’t like Yongsik, not because he was a country bumpkin, but i thought he was too naive for Dong Baek, and sometimes too possessive. I didn’t like how he gets whenever he sees Jong Ryeol. I think Jong Ryeol has every right to get to know his son and Yong Shik has no right to tell him to leave and never come back. But a few episodes later, i decided that Yong shik is a nice guy and maybe it’s DB who doesn’t deserve him. Her character is so inconsistent i dont know sometimes what Yongsik saw in her. She just kept crying and crying and crying. Then she will suddenly become brave. it’s the first time I didn’t like the main lead at all. She has a lot of hurt, i know, from being abandoned by her mother and feeling unloved by Jong Ryeol, to raising her kid alone (which is another story) so she is mostly shy and self conscious and intimidated. I like the overall growth in her character by the end of the show, but I still didn’t like her that much.
I think the drama could have handled the Jong Ryeol/Dong Baek/Pilgu storyline a little bit better. I loved the writing and all the scenes and lines between DB and JR, DB and Pilgu, esp. JR and Pilgu. First of all, DB should not have deprived Pilgu from knowing his own father and for not telling JR about his son. She just decided to leave him when she was pregnant and raised her on his own. and Now that JR found out and is trying to help, she won’t even accept the help! I thought she was such a selfish girl. I know how much sacrifice she went through but she did it all on her own. She kept saying Pilgu is her child and not JR but it takes two to tango. I think JR is a nice guy (took some time for him to grow up) but he was willing to face his responsibilities once he is there. I didn’t like that in the end, JR just became a “bank account” to DB and Pilgu and he never got the chance to have a real father-son relationship with Pilgu. On the other hand, I understand how much Pilgu hated JR but DB should have told him the truth — that JR didn’t know about him that’s why he was never there. I think Pilgu would have somehow softened his heart against JR had he known that.
Heavy drama about mother-daughter relationships
This is the reason why it took me almost 3 weeks to finish the drama. Not only were the episodes dragging and boring, the drama was so heavy it was hard to watch 2 episodes each night. The recurring theme here was motherhood and the plight of single mothers- as shown with DB-Pilgu, Yong Sik and his mom, Jessica and her mom, DB and her mom, DB-YS’s mom, Lawyer and mom in law. Except for Pilgu and Yong shik, the daughters are messed up. I can’t say that the mothers are successful given that their daughters/sons have a lot of emotional baggage. I love that this drama showed different types of relationships — most of them felt real and complex that even though it’s so hard to watch them fight all the time, it was so compelling that i just kept watching and hoping they all have their happy endings.  I love to hate all the characters — they are all so flawed but that’s also what makes them really good characters. Especially the relationship between DB and her mom. Wow. I can’t even like DB’s mom at all and that episode 19 where we see everything that happened in the past to her almost dying – i honestly didn’t care about the episode at all. I still didn’t like her (and kudos to the actress who played her so well).
Murder storyline
At first it was intriguing. Episode 1 opens up with finding a body in a lake and it’s obviously not DB. Early on we somehow knew it was Hyang Mi, but to get to how Hyang Mi was killed, who killed her, who is Joker just took soooo long it was anti-climactic. imagine, the cops finally finding out Hyang Mi’s body only in episode 16. Seriously. The pacing was so excruciatingly slow because they were also focusing on the other storylines that someone in episode 17 i didn’t care anymore who was Joker and if they never found Hyang Mi. Likewise, the reveal of who Joker is and his motive to do so was also LAME. We already know who it was half way into the drama but they just had to put a small ineffective twist in episode 18. Speaking of Hyang Mi, i can’t say i really liked her. She was too weird — blackmailing the people around her that even if i found out the story behind her life (her brother, her past, etc) still did not make me like her a little bit. But she didn’t deserve to die horribly.
Other characters
Gyu Tae and the lawyer wife were annoying. Gyu Tae was sleazy and yucky. Lawyer wife just assumed too much without even evidence or thinking. But they deserve each other and was actually glad they got back together.
I actually thought JR and Jessica will really get divorced because I never felt like they really loved each other at all but surprisingly they were still together at the end. I like that they both grew up and they’re growing together and their relationship is getting better. I didn’t like Jessica but I think she will be a great mom once she accepts herself completely.
Given the chance, i wouldn’t want to live in Ongsan. The neighbors are nosy and judgemental. We find out in the latter episodes that some people knew something about the murder 5 years ago but no one stepped forward and they all kept quiet because they were busy covering their own butts. They continued to bully DB. They didn’t care at all when Hyang Mi disappeared. They only became “united” and “friendlier” in the end when DB’s mom almost died, and when they found Joker and the last episode where DB was finally included as part of the community.
Overall, this was an okay drama for me, good to watch once because of the brilliant acting by the entire cast, the beautiful shots and the lovely soundtrack and the fantastic writing. But this is too heavy and dragging for a repeat.
Rating: 7 / 10

Love Alarm Season 1 (2019)


Drama: Love Alarm (좋아하면 울리는)
Network: Netflix
Episodes: 8
Release Date: August 22, 2019
A new cellphone app is causing a frenzy among the people. If someone likes you and they are within 10 meters of you, the Joalarm for the app rings. The app also shows how many people like you, but the app doesn’t reveal specific details on who likes you. Kim JoJo is a pretty, smart but poor high school student who tries to leave a simple life just working hard to earn a living for herself. On the other hand, Hwang Sun-O is a popular handsome student at the same high school where Kim Jo-Jo attends. He is the son of a wealthy family, but he is not loved by his parents. His best friend Lee Hye-Young also attends the same high school. Hwang Sun-O notices that his best friend Lee Hye-Young likes Kim Jo-Jo. Hwang Sun-O wants to know if his friend really likes her, so he kisses her.
Main Cast
Kim So-hyun – Kim Jojo
Song Kang – Hwang Sun-O
Jung Ga-ram – Lee Hye-young
I watched this way back in August when this first came out in Netflix and i was as addicted and hooked as everyone else! I haven’t watched a kdrama about high schoolers for so long cause I find them juvenile now, but this was just so much fun and angsty to watch? You dont need to ask me if I’m Team Sun Oh or Team Hye Young! Of course I’m Team Sun Oh! I know some are saying he was such a jerk for “stealing” Jo Jo away from Hye Young when he knows how much his best friend likes her, but (i’m not defending him) he asked Hye Young several times if he liked her and he always said no, and i thought it was love at first sight, not just for him but for JoJo as well. They obviously like each other so why can’t they be together? Jojo never liked Hye Young (mostly dont even know him) so no one was stealing anyone. All’s fair in love and war right? And Hye Young is a creepy stalker!! Followed her around without her knowing and was too shy and coward to talk to her and tell her how he feels. Sun Oh made his intentions known and wasn’t afraid to go all out for her.But what about the boyfriend? it was quite obvious that Jojo and the boyfriend was so over and it didn’t take long for them to break up. I didn’t like Jojo’s best friend- trying to be all nice but was actually backstabbing Jojo because she liked Jojo’s boyfriend! I’m glad the boyfriend turned her down- serves her right for being an awful friend.I could understand why Jojo broke up with Sun Oh after the accident – she must really feel terrible that she seems to be putting Sun Oh in danger and getting him in all sorts of trouble. and Jojo is sensible enough to break up before her feelings gets even deeper. They’re in high school – they will get over this and move on. Right?

But poor Sun Oh. he never got over her. and i think it’s mostly because he never got closure. Years later, they finally meet again but Sun Oh is icy cold and angry.. but still ringing Jojo’s love alarm (what a sad puppy). I’m sure Jojo is really resisting to fall in love with him again. Now Hye Young is back too and this time is older and has finally found the courage to go after Jojo. Who will Jojo choose? Her first love that made her feel alive or this nice comfortable guy who has been there for her all this time?

Aside from the love triangle, the drama also explores the impact of the Joalarm to the society. How sad and lonely people feel when no one rings their alarm and they resort to suicide. It’s scary to think how much people feels pressure to be liked and loved. Why can’t we go back to the old time when life was simple? Do we really have to complicate things and set this standards that are so high and is becoming toxic?

I can’t wait for season 2! I know Jojo ended up with Hye Young in the comic book but with the way the first season was written, there was no indication that Jojo ever liked Hye Young so i hope she either ends up with Sun Oh or the writer better give us the reason why she should be with Hye Young. (Sun Oh is hard to beat though – he is rich, handsome and actually a nice guy).