Juvenile Justice (2022)

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Drama: Juvenile Justice (소년심판)
Network: Netflix
Episodes: 10
Release Date: February 25, 2022

Plot: This drama is about bringing juvenile offenders to justice.

Main Cast:
Kim Hye Soo – Shim Eun Seok
Kim Moo Yool – Cha Tae Joo
Lee Sung Min – Kang Won Jung
Lee Jung Eun – Na Geun Hee

Review: This is a heavy drama about juvenile offenders. Bullying, murder, gang rape. Should they be punished or help them reform? Can they really change? This drama will make you think and this is not just applicable to SK. It’s an issue around the world. I realized it’s very important for kids to grow up in a loving and stable family/environment since their childhood trauma remains even when they grow up as adults.

I liked each of the cases although not always how these were resolved. It also made me think how far should we do our jobs. As judges they weren’t supposed to investigate but they crossed the line. Coz if they don’t do it who will? Or maybe they need everyone or the system (prosecutors, police, workers) to effectively work together to reform the children.

On the downside, I just couldn’t connect with or care for the two main leads despite their sad background stories. Cha Tae Joo is clingy and needy, although I like that he really cares for the kids. Eun Seok is too harsh and does not even smile. I would be scared if I had a mother or even a teacher/boss like her. She is soft hearted too and fair.

Rating: 8/10

Yaksha Ruthless Operations (2022)

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Movie: Yaksha: Ruthless Operations (야차)
Release Date: April 8, 2022
Genre: Spy / Action
Distributor: Netflix

Main Cast
Sol Kyung Gu – Yaksha/Ji Kang In
Park Hae Soo – Han Ji Eun
Hiroyuki Takeuchi – Yoshinobu Ozawa
Yang Dong Geun – Chief Hong
Lee El – Hui Won
Song Jae Rim – Jae Kyu
Jin Young – Jong Dae
Lee Soo Kyung – Moon Ju Yeong
Kim Jong Man – Ryeon Hui

Review:
“Justice has to be preserved by any means necessary.”

This movie is about a prosecutor being sent to Shenyang to investigate the Korean team but he ends up in the middle of a war between Sokor, Nokor and Japanese spies.

Sol Kyung Gu is so cool in this movie while Haesu’s straight laced character started off as clueless (how many times was he fooled throughout the movie?). But he later learns and joins hands with Yaksha to defeat the enemy. The story was confusing because we didnt exactly know what was happening but it all makes sense later on.

The betrayals were predictable, same with using chemical factory as the final scene so they can blow up the factory 😆. But still enjoyed watching.

Rating: 8/10

Twenty Five Twenty One (2022)

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Drama: Twenty Five Twenty One (스물다섯 스물하나)
Network: tvN
Episodes: 16
Release Date: February 12 – April 3, 2022
Runtime: Sat. & Sun. 21:10

Plot: A story about five friends and their once youthful lives filled with dreams, passion and love.

Main Cast
Kim Tae Ri – Na Hee Do
Nam Joo Hyuk – Baek Yijin
Bona – Ko Yurim
Choi Hyun Wook – Moon Ji Woong
Lee Joo Myoung – Ji Seung Wan

Review:
The title alone should already warn us of the ending but some didn’t take the hint.

I loved the nostalgia feel of the drama because I grew up in the 90s. Actually I was the same age as Heedo in 1998 that’s why even though I didn’t grow up in Korea and was not an athlete, I could still somehow relate to her. I keep thinking, she is my age. What if I were her friend? How would I support her? It also made me think of my own high school experience and how different I am from when I was 18 years old vs who I am now and how I interact with my friends. I could totally understand them, that even though so many years have passed and we don’t always get to meet often, we will always remain friends and when we get together, it’s as if time has not passed. We also reminisce the good and bad memories and laugh about it.

I really loved the friendship between Heedo and Yurim. They started out as strangers, almost like enemies, fan to idol. They fought, they disagreed, they supported and comforted each other through out their personal and professional lives. I loved and teared up in all their final matches and when Heedo retired and Yurim was there to support her. Boys/men can come and go but friends will always be forever. The writer is the same as Search WWW and it’s no wonder you can also feel some girl-love vibes between Heedo and Yurim (just like Gakyeong and Scarlet in WWW).

I also loved Heedo and Yijin’s relationship. I think the drama spent more time showing how close they were (friendship, brother-sister kind of love) and less than when they were in love. A lot of people hated the ending. They thought they should have ended together. I was fine either way, as long the writer end it well (more on this in the latter paragraphs). I think it was the right love at the wrong time. The love they had was real and it was what they needed during those times. But their circumstances and the events just didn’t make it possible for them to survive.

Maybe if they met in their 30s they could have handled the relationship better. But Heedo was in high school. Sometimes she was brave but often times she was still immature and couldn’t handle a relationship with an older guy. But give her a break, she was young, she still had so many things going on for her and I agree that she deserved to have a relationship with someone who doesn’t make her sad and worry. There are other guys out there and she knows herself and to walk away when she is no longer happy. But at the same time, she also didn’t empathize and understand enough with what Yijin was going through. That’s why they failed.

On the other hand, Yijin tried his best to stay away from Heedo. Not only was she younger than him, he knows he also has a lot of issues to work with himself and his career and his family. Plus the trauma of witnessing the New York attacks took a toll on his mental state. I believe he wasn’t in the right state of mind to maintain a relationship and it was best to let go, no matter painful it was. I was also crying in that scene when they knew it was over and just wanted to take back all the hurtful words they said to each other. Their looks told me they may have broken up but they will always love and support each other. Just like 10 years later when they meet again via Yijin’s show. Although they haven’t kept in touch, you can see they’re still happy for each other and how far they have gone from 10 years ago.

On the other hand, Yurim and Jiwoong’s happy ever after is a contrast to H&Y. Despite the LDR they still made it work. Again, I would say the difference is that they didn’t have a lot of issues to deal with. No mommy issues, no mental health or career issues. That’s why it was easier for them to stay long and strong. I loved the proposal. Very creative Jiwoong and very apt for Yurim.

What I didn’t like in this drama? I think the present timeline wasn’t necessary. Maybe because they used a different actress to play Heedo and she had a very different vibe from the younger Heedo. It makes you think what happened to her all these years and how her youth and passionate love shaped her into who she is now but we didn’t get any of that.

Instead the present timeline served more as a way to introduce the story and was weakly trying to show a parallel between Heedo and her daughter who wanted to quit ballet. Before, Heedo’s mom was against her continuing fencing, but mom Heedo didn’t force Minchae if she didn’t want to do ballet anymore. Minchae, through reading Heedo’s diary also got inspired after reading all the hard work that Heedo went through to reach her success and made her want to take up ballet again.

Those were fine, but it doesn’t really link back to Yijin and Heedo’s story, which was very much the center of the plot. I felt like maybe she wasn’t really over Yijin? It felt like she had so many regrets and that she only had closure when she found her diary. Also, we didn’t see who she married and why they married. Is she happy? If she is happy why is she still not over the diary? Why did she have to go back to the tunnel and look so regretful? If she left Yijin because she wanted to have a relationship with someone who would be there for her, then why is her husband not around? The ending /present timeline really did not close the story well.

We also do not get see what happened to older Yijin aside from being UBS anchor. Did he marry or did he stay single because he couldn’t get over Heedo? He was able to build a home for his family, and we see his younger brother look so grown up. Is he happy? He is the male lead but I felt we didn’t get his own ending.

Overall, I loved this drama. It made me cry buckets of tears every single episode and made me feel so much emotions. I just wish the ending was stronger and made more impact considering the rest of the 15 episodes were almost perfect.

Rating: 9/10

All of Us Are Dead (2022)

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Drama: All of Us Are Dead (지금 우리 학교는)
Network: Netflix
Episodes: 12
Release Date: January 28, 2022
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot: Hyosan High School becomes ground zero for a zombie outbreak and the kids fight their way to survive.

Main Cast
Park Ji Hu – Nam On Jo
Yoon Chang Young – Lee Cheong San
Park Lomon – Lee Suhyeok
Cho Yi Hyun – Choi Namra

Review
I love zombie movies/drama and I think South Korea has almost perfected this genre. This time, the setting is in a high school and the stories are about high school kids. What will they do (without adults or parents present)?

Out of all the kids in this drama (and there were a lot of characters), I liked Cheongsan and Suhyeok the most. Well, Cheongsan first, because he is the leader – he always thinks of what to do, he was brave and was willing to risk his life for his friends. Suhyeok was his more handsome and taller sidekick who follows him and helps him beat the bad guys. i really liked their friendship, but I was disappointed that when Cheongsan sacrificed himself, Suhyeok didn’t shed a tear or looked anguished for his friend.

I also didn’t like the girls. They were pretty much useless. Everything there were zombies, the girls were just mostly hiding behind the guys except for the latter episodes. Even Onjo as the female lead was very disappointing as she was portrayed as a damsel in distress, although I feel bad that she lost her best friend, father and potential boyfriend in the drama. I was hoping Cheongsan and Lomon wouldn’t end up with Onjo and Namra, and I was actually happy they really didn’t!!

We see different reactions from the kids when faced with this fight or die scenario. Some because the worst friend like Yumi, some didn’t want to let go and save their friends like Isak and Jimin, some were willing to sacrifice themselves for their friends. I particularly loved and shed tears for Joon Yeong (in the auditorium), Gyeong Su (in the broadcasting room) and Wujin (saved his sister).

We didn’t see a lot of parents in this drama, mostly just saw Onjo’s dad, Cheongsan’s mom, Jimin’s parents who risked their lives to save their children. I also cried when the kids saw what happened to their parents and the thought that they are now orphans.

I also thought there were a lot of unexplored or unsatisfactory stories in this drama. Let’s see:

  1. Gwinam won’t f*ing die!! There’s no explanation why he is super strong and recovers fast other than needing to have a villain in the school.
  2. Namra was useless as a halfbie. She just served as their radar to detect other zombies. She is supposed to have special strength like Gwinam but during zombie attacks she hides behind and do nothing except in the end.
  3. There were a lot of unnecessary deaths like with Onjo’s dad (he didn’t have to lock himself in the tennis/badminton court), Cheongsan (he seemed like the main lead but killing him off was a big disappointment, and Wujin (he had to die so that there will be a sad story for him and his sister, like he they had to kill him when they’re almost free).
  4. There were also characters who didn’t have to be in the drama like the pregnant girl who gave birth to a baby, Jae-ik who didn’t really do anything other than get the laptop, the assemblywoman who was mostly powerless and useless in the quarantine, the youtuber, the little girl who was crying.
  5. There were potential issues that could have added depth to the story but the writer didn’t push through, like Nayeon, who didn’t have a chance to ask forgiveness from her friends before she got mercilessly killed by Gwinam. Gwinam fighting with Cheongsan just because he didn’t want to be caught murdering the principal. Eunji, who never got her revenge against Gwinam for the sexual harrassment, although her eating her coward friend was a little satisfying.
  6. I don’t know if they were hoping for a season 2, but they didn’t explore what happened after the Hyosan bombing, other than the kids, gathering to mourn their friends, and meeting Namra on the rooftop. Maybe I was still hoping that Cheongsan is alive.

I still enjoyed this despite the dislikes. Better if they kept this at 8 or 10 eps. Not sure about the ending but I don’t really need a season 2.

Rating: 8/10