heartfelt words

Believe it or not, I actually started writing reviews after I read a long verdict of The Princess Man by thefangirlverdict . I’m still trying out review styles but honestly thefangirlverdict does really detailed reviews, so much so you’ll be swooned by it. So today I chanced upon this liebster post by the sole writer of fangirlverdict and instead of a comment I shall write it up here.

Q1. For some people, kdrama literally saved their lives. What does kdrama mean to you?

It meant fusion of fantasy and reality to me, in which sometimes surfaced values in life which I had long forgotten about. Just like many others, I was touched, mesmerized and deeply inspired by many kdramas. From the seemingly shallow reason of killing time, to the mere curiosity of kdramas and even to sentimental reasons of how kdramas stirred up courage, hope and positive emotions within oneself, it is undeniable that kdramas had affected lives in a way or another. As for mine, it isn’t to the extent of saving my life, but in a way portray realities within fantasies with professional acting and skillful cinematography– which I thought was pretty magical. Kdramas brought me back to ancient times through sageuk dramas ( which I really love), witness the transformation of the past and present through time travel dramas, and of course experience fan girl moments through romance comedies. All of these emotions which was deemed impossible to feel in our mundane life had been dug up thoroughly through these myriad range of dramas. As for that, I am truly thankful 😉

2. Which is your favorite comfort-food drama? Your go-to drama when everything feels bleargh and you just wanna feel better?

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I have this habit of not returning to a drama after I’ve watched it once, probably feeling afraid that I will lose interest and love for it. However, if I were to choose one, I would pick Shining Inheritance, a 2009 drama starring Lee Seung Gi and Han Hyo Joo. It is a drama of life, in which showcases how people face adversities in life, how and why people stick to their decisions and values. It gives a very down-to-earth feel throughout the 28 episodes and I just could not have enough of it. Since the values portrayed in this drama is fairly relatable to people from all walks of life, I would strongly recommend this drama and of course is the drama I would return to when I feel like shit.

3. Who’s your favorite kdrama character and why?

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The all-so-mighty Jjang Byun. ^^ I was hesitant between Jang Hye Sung of I Can Hear Your Voice and Go Eun Sung in Shining Inheritance. While one is a public defendant full of flaws and the latter is a down-to-earth girl with introspective thoughts, I became more inclined towards Hye Sung eventually. Every viewer can see that Hye Sung is a prideful woman, but her growth is equally significant. Amongst the noona romance and interesting court cases, I thought that her acknowledgment of her mistake in the twins case changed my view towards her. That I believe, was the show’s turning point and that made me watch out for this public defendant more than ever.

It is true that Eun Sang’s personality is admirable as well, but the show had portrayed her thoughts as part of her basic personality and focused more on the growth of Sun Woo Hwan (played by Lee Seung Gi). While I enjoyed watching Eun Sang’s influence on Woo Hwan, I was even more drawn towards Hye Sung who took off her egoistic mask and become a jjang byun ultimately. Though that growth of hers was filled with heartache, tears and laughter, it was filled with courage and faith. Admirable indeed.

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1.  Liebstar Shower [Round 2]

Drama Review: I Can Hear Your Voice

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I finished this drama just a month ago and though this post came kinda late, I thought it would be a good drama to review on. It has been ages since I was last hooked onto a drama so badly, such that I was desperate to find out the ending yet unwilling to sacrifice any bit of detail. For the first time of my life, I wished I was a lawyer (thankfully this thought ended alongside the drama) and this is enough proof of how amazing the cast executed their roles.

Writing:

Following the hit drama Dream High, Park Hye-Ryun continued showcasing her flawless writing skills in I Can Hear Your Voice. The pace of the drama was at breakneck speed, such that events happen faster than I thought they would have. However, I loved how she managed to seamlessly insert relationships among all the intense drama that is taking place. Character growth was also present throughout but was only prominent during the last few episodes upon the confirmation of extension. Only then did the drama slowed down and focused on more heartfelt and relatable issues.

I was skeptical of this drama initially since I wasn’t a fan of noona romance but the ratings changed my mind and WALAHHH this is one drama which blew me away.

Characters (major spoiler) :

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Lee Jong Suk played the role of Soo Ha, a 19 year old guy who can read people’s mind with a simple eye contact. Sounds freaky but just like he said ” there are people in this world with IQs of 200, and others who can run a hundred meters in nine seconds, and so I’m just special, not a monster” (quote taken from dramabeans), Soo-Ha is one unique guy. This ability of his probably started the ball rolling, signifying that this drama is no typical noona romance. This show is a great test on Lee Jong Suk’s acting skills for the reversal of Soo-Ha is nothing but extreme. From his initial noisy world, to him losing his ability and memories after a car accident (sounds cliche but in fact not), it showcased a seemingly powerful Soo Ha for he can see through lies, to a Soo Ha who is vulnerable and someone who has to decipher truths and lies. Not only that, lee Jong Suk has to balance the feeling of man-boy character till the last few episodes, displaying an array of complex emotions and expressions. I am ever so glad that he took upon this role and mannnnn he sure is one star to look out for!

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From comic to sorry, to lost, to panic, to rage, we saw Soo Ha grew from a boy to man, one who dedicate his life to protect that special one.

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Hye Sung was played by Lee Bo Young, who showcased a lady of strong personality. This was even more prominent after she became a public defendant, but it was this same personality which made her the heroine which so many viewers love. Pride and practical doesn’t go well with each other but this was the perfect combination executed by Lee Bo Young. While one can witness her walls breaking down upon the entry of grown up Soo Ha (she had a history with the kiddy Soo Ha which she desperately want to forget) into her life, her charisma and principles in life remain unchanged, especially so on court. However, her perfect image isn’t all that she is. The writer wasn’t hesitant in uncovering hye Sung’s weak side, including admitting for her mistakes as well as throwing away her pride to plead for justice. This character seems so real and it was no doubt I was so drawn towards Hye Sung throughout the 18 episodes.

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If Choi Young Do ( played by Kim Woo Bin in The Heirs) is the scariest bully in school, then Min Joon Kook (played by Jung Woong In) must have been the creepiest killer I’ve seen. I mean look at this, who doesn’t get chills down their spine?!

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I was so glad for the extension, for I felt that the slow yet intense unvieling of Min Joon Kook’s history with Soo Ha’s father made us view Min Joon Kook in a different light– well at least for me; that he is in fact a typical man who does all that he can to save his late wife’s life but utterly failed to; that he is a victim behind those evil smirks and chilling looks. But still, just like what Hye Sung said to Soo Ha “If you do (kill him), then all the reasons disappear—what a terrible person Min Joon-gook is, why we hated him—those things disappear. The moment we kill him, we cease to be victims, and just become murderers ”  (quote taken from dramabeans)

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Lee Dae Hee played the role of Seo Do Yeon in this drama and I really detest this awful character initially… till episode 6, where Do Yeon the prosecutor suggested a plan with a defendant regarding a twins case. However, that doesn’t change her arrogant and prideful character, until I reached episode 12 where Do Yeon spoke of her regretful past involving Hye Sung in her drunken state. With little character growth in the beginning, I was really glad the writer actually wrote a court case involving Do Yeon indirectly towards the end, tearing down her brave front as we watched her sob helplessly to Hye Sung. She sure is one interesting character to watch.

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Another supporting role which I thought was crucial was Hye-Sung’s mum, played by the ‘Mum of South Korea’, Kim Hae Sook. From her standing up for Hye Sung to her cute dance when Hye Sung became a public defendant to her dying words for her daughter, she is someone who brought tears to my eyes and I was especially reluctant to see her go. Nevertheless, I thought it was a smart decision by the writer for the death of Hye Sung’s mum sure is impactful.

the best part:

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Balance. The drama is mixed with life and death issues as well as a noona romance. Such seemingly impossible combination has been made amazingly possible in this drama. I love how the writer manipulated every court case to its maximum potential, both in the flow of drama, the links between cases as well as character growth. It amazes me how neat the whole story is displayed despite the myriad of events happening simultaneously.

Moreover, I love how the writer depicts the means of our main leads getting closer together, not through meaningless bickering but through serious court cases and the affectionate ways they cherish each other makes the whole drama heartwarming and addictive to watch.

I can surely say that this is one of the best dramas I’ve watched by far, given my willingness to read all the episode recaps before settling in to write this review. And finally… I’m done~!

Drama Review: Heartstrings

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Having watched several of Park Shin Hye’s dramas, I realized that I had left out one of her supposed hit dramas which aired in 2011, 2 years after You’re Beautiful was aired. Right from the start, the shadow of Shin Woo ( Yonghwa’s role in You’re Beautiful) kept haunting me and even up till the final scene, I felt that Heartstrings merely served as an epilogue from You’re Beautiful.

Plot:

Disappointment is the word. Predictable is the reason. The opening scene wasn’t a BOOM straight away but the writer did attempt in inserting subtle hints regarding the personalities of the main characters. Lee Kyu Won having a trot song as her ringtone, Lee Shin’s relaxed yet poker face, in fact I thought that the mood was comfortable enough. Sadly, such careful writing trailed off towards the end, leading to nothing but a lazy and predictable plot.

Disappointment was up to the point where I was able to predict the lines of the actors/ actresses. This truly isn’t the way for a drama to receive high ratings. Though I thought the pace was pretty good right from the beginning, it started dwindling down from episode 7 onwards. Many a times, relationships often took a turn at wrong times/ scenes. It felt abrupt, nonsensical and seemingly superficial.

Ending:

The overall ending was actually pretty good (though predictable) except for the final kiss scene. Unlike The Heirs, the writer for Heartstrings had a good grasp over all characters and gave them a relatively good wrap up. However, the final kiss scene seriously ruined the whole episode.

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It was so stiff it felt like it was 2 friends kissing each other, let to say how uncomfortable it is to watch. Mind you, it’s 2 lovers finally acknowledging their need and love for each other after 1 year of breakup. Major major sigh.  To add on, the attempt to let history repeat itself (halfway this time) at the ending sums up to one word— cliche.

Apart from that, I thought that the walk down the memory lane between Shin and Kyu Won was heartwarming though classic. The writer sure did keep the mood consistent throughout the drama. Cudos to that! ^^

OST:

Honestly, I think the best part of Heartstrings is the OST. From the insertion of appropriate songs into specific scenes to the songs prepared for the centennial performance, this is really one of the best OST I’ve heard. While it is probably my first time hearing Kang Min Hyuk (CN BLUE drummer) sing, he sure didn’t disappoint fans and viewers!

Characters:

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From the hesitant guy when it comes to love in You’re Beautiful to the seemingly cold and arrogant Shin in Heartstrings, he sure did loosen up quite a bit. There was obvious improvement in his acting but nevertheless I felt myself trapped between Shin and Shin Woo to and fro several times in Heartstrings.

That being said, I thought Yong Hwa did a pretty good job in uncovering the layers of his character. The scene where he rushed to the hospital upon receiving the news of his sister’s hospitalisation and his constant heartwarming visits to his dying fathershowed a completely different side of him. From a cool guitarist on stage to a devoted and warm person to the people he deeply cares about, Yong Hwa executed these sides of Shin without a sweat.

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Similar to Yong Hwa, it seems like Park Shin Hye had yet to get over her role of Go Mi Nyu/Nam. Unveiling her layers are pretty much obvious the moment she toned down her cuteness to a more serious Kyu Won who became much more passionate in musicals and practices. Her expressions in such scenes truly live up to her title “Queen of Romance Comedy”.

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Though Kang Min Hyuk took upon the role of Yeo Joon Hee as a supporting character, he sure plays a crucial role in maintaining the light-heartedness of the drama. With his naiveness as well as his never-ending ball of energy and faith, I found myself smiling at scenes featuring him.

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Song Chang Eui played the role of Kim Suk Hyun, a director who returned from Broadway just in time to direct the centennial performance. As much as I love his character, I found myself confused many a times, especially when it comes to his feelings and attitude to Kyu Won. Is his biasness solely because he saw a rare talent in Kyu Won or that he might have romantic feelings for her? The clarification was only made clear in the 2nd last episode. Though the writer did clarify, I wish it was said much earlier for the focus of the drama shifted quite a bit due to that.

final say:

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If you’re looking for a drama to kill your time, spazz about CN BLUE and occasional appearances of hot guys, or simply want to watch a typical romance comedy, this is the drama for you. That being said, it’s kinda sad to say that I wasn’t really hooked onto the drama ultimately.

Drama Review: History of the Salaryman

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Carefully plotted, cleverly written, amazing twists, that’s how I would describe this drama. Ironically, despite its uniqueness, it was also the drama which took me one of the longest time to complete it and even so to write a review for it.

Firstly, I chose this drama simply because of its high ratings per episode when it was aired. Looking at how popular it was, I decided to give it a shot. The opening scene was definitely something I did not expect considering the nature of the drama in which it focuses on the business world and the insides of a conglomerate. Despite its twists at unexpected times, I only found myself hooked on to the drama starting from episode 13 onwards.

Plot:

Honestly I feel that the script is truly well written, especially even so for all the cursings by Yeo-Chi, the female lead. Words were well said and emotions were well expressed. The first few episodes left me laughing at how silly and bizarre some things were, such as this 112 years old chicken.

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The light hearted mood and the unconventional heros really did set the mood right…until a rectangle love relationship surfaced. From then on, the confusion overwhelmed my enjoyment instead and it felt as if romance was the centerstage. It made several episodes directionless and I had to say it was frustrating enough for me to stop watching the drama for a few days.

This drama isn’t the dilly-dally type in which it exemplified its nature right from the start. Stealing the technology of a longevity pill, betrayal and bribery between insiders and tricks played between companies  are merely some snippets of the plot. The wow factor is the performances of the actors and actresses in which how they utilize their characters to solve each crisis and in the process achieve much growth as the drama proceeds. It is amazing how each events are linked seamlessly which contribute greatly to the smooth flow of the drama as well as its coherence. Unsurprisingly, this is probably the first drama which I found myself rooting and craving for scenes of both the villains and the heroes; wherein some cases the roles were switched around between the main casts.

character development:

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The last drama I watched featuring Lee Beum-Soo was IRIS 2 which he displayed his seriousness and charisma as a refugee from North Korea. However, he managed to pull off this a naive yet smart character in History of a Salaryman. Or rather I would say that the character Yoo-Bang is simply made for him. Yoo-Bang is a character who stand firmly by his principles, sometimes throwing away his pride and getting down to his knees, sometimes going head-on and splashing alcohol to despicable rivals, but most of the time he is the unconventional hero who is truly a smart strategist. The writers chose a different wrote in establishing Yoo-Bang’s personality in which they manifested Yoo-Bang’s personality right from the start, such that there was no drastic uncoverings in his personality throughout the drama.

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Fresh-faced Jeong Ryeo Won pulled off her part amusingly and amazingly enough. Do not get fooled by Yeo-Chi’s  innocent looks and pretty gestures for her words were pretty much censored half the time. Her cursings are truly professional and this certainly throws me off. Yeo-Chi started out as an immature young adult, whose grandfather is the Chairman of Chun Han’s Group. While she was blaming her grandfather for the death of her parents in the first half of the drama, her attitude slowly changes when she found out the condition of her grandfather. Together with her grandfather, they tricked the insiders of the company that the Chairman is blind and bit by bit reveal the true faces of the employees who were planning the betrayal. With the help of Hang-Woo and Yoo-Bang, she entered the business world and ultimately played a decisive role in upholding justice.

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My first drama which starred Hong Soo-Hyun was the Princess Man whom she played an elegant yet heartbroken princess in the royal family. From a traditional hanbok to office wear, I found myself struggling to adjust for the change. Nevertheless, Cha Woo-Hee is a lady with pride, overflowing with sexiness at the right scenes but eventually she became a woman in love. The uncoverings of her character matches the level of Yeo-Chi’s and I found the writers utilising her character as a researcher from the start till the end, wrapping her character up nicely. Definitely a character to watch out for!

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Jung Gyu-Woon really reminds me of Rain, probably because of the build. He is displayed as a cold-hearted man of capability who is recognized in the business world. His bribery acts showed that he does things relentlessly, focusing only on the results he desired. The typical villain isn’t it? I had the same thought initially but after he got involved with Woo Hee, his softer and warmer side started surfacing. His drunkard state was unexpectedly amusing while his cold heartedness melts away towards the back episodes. That’s when I thought ” Ah.. So he’s a human being after all.”

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The real villain who has countless of faces, Mo Gabi was played by Kim Seo-Hyung. As her acting was already recognised in Temptation of Wife, I wasn’t surprised with her role in History of the Salaryman. While her acting was undoubtedly good, I felt that the writers kinda had her character left hanging there at the ending. Nonetheless, given her mysterious nature from the beginning, I found myself often doubting her intentions and was at times surprised at her influence amidst her elegance.

final say:

With a strong cast and a well written plot with few loopholes, I would say that this drama is certainly worth watching. To the insiders of large corporations, this drama may just be a reflection of what they experience daily but to a viewer like me, it definitely is a good drama in which I like, but I have second thoughts about loving it.

Drama review: The Heirs

i’ve completed The Heirs the day after the last episode was aired and i was awaiting for some long verdict of the drama for days. since  it never came up, i shall do one instead.

honestly, the reason why i started this drama (especially when it’s near As period) was because of the cast. with articles harping on the unbelievably good chemistry between Lee Minho and Park Shinhye and Choi Jin Hyuk as one of the supporting character, i admitted that i grew curious.

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Plot

having california, its beaches and waters as the opening scene is certainly the best choice ever. while it creates a fresh atmosphere and start, it however reminded me of secret garden and boys over flowers. i liked it how the show zoomed into Kim Tan and Eun Sang directly, zooming into details at times but not sacrificing the pace of the show.  all was well until the middle of episodes where it started to get a little draggy. this greatly reminds me of Personal Taste, another of Lee Minho’s drama which i gave up halfway when it got too draggy. personally, i thought that the plot was fairly decent, but there were certainly some instances which i thought that such high school romance isn’t as realistic as it seems. also, even though Kim Tan’s father was the main boulder in the relationship of Kim Tan and Eun Sang, i thought that the writers should have some creativity in “resolving” the dispute other than letting Eun Sang leave Kim Tan’s household each other. considering that they have put in quite an effort in creating the donut kiss and some other skinship which created a scene among the audience,   why not transfer some of these skills into plot writing? the coherence of the show went well, until it reaches the part when Kim Tan and Rachel’s engagement broke off. while it creates an opportunity for the audience to go awwwww when Kim Tan and Eun sang finally got together, it made one wonder what would happen to Rachel thereafter, which the writers had unfortunately neglected.  moreover, the writer had made Hyun Joo a character which only experiences heartbreaks and tears from her first scene to her last, making her seem like a convenience character whenever a loophole had to be fixed. while the ending was pretty much predictable, the only interesting part was Won’s ending which depicted the difference between himself and Kim Tan. it also serves as a reminder in which ” the one who wears the crown, bears the crown”.

character development

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i thought that the writers actually did a pretty good job in terms of character development, even extending their scope to secondary characters. while everyone i know seem to hate Young Do in the show, i thought that his character development is the best, even surpassing that of Kim Tan’s and Eun Sang’s. Young Do is seen as the biggest bully in Empire High where he instilled fear in his peers, especially to those on welfare scholarships. the unpredictability and uncertainty of his emotions was so real, i found myself anticipating more of his scenes as the episodes crawled by. undoubtedly, from someone to object Kim Tan’s and Eun Sang’s romance initially to someone who mends their relationship eventually reflected the human nature in us once again- that his hateful side was merely a facade when in actual fact he was beyond lonely. the writers actually stated such loneliness of Young Do quite obviously through his speech which i thought wasn’t necessary for Kim Woo-Bin’s acting skills had already pulled it off. nevertheless, cudos to the writers!

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Krystal’s character was another well-written one. initially, i doubted why the top scorer Chang- Young was dating such a heartless girl but was eventually convinced as the show went on. while Bo Na left a bimbo impression after the first few episodes, i came to realize her good when she first shared her room with Eun Sang, though it was an attempt to protect her boyfriend. overall, one will come to realize how cute Bo Na’s personality actually is and she is definitely one character which had injected much joy and liveliness into the show.

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unfortunately, i thought that Rachel’s character was greatly neglected. after the first few episodes, i found myself craving for Rachel’s scenes since she was displayed as a pretty conflicted character. however, just as Kim Tan said ” the first door which i have to overcome is you (referring to Rachel)”, her character was pretty much thrown out of place when the romance between the main characters had moved on. i was expecting some sparks between Rachel and Hyo Shin but sadly after creating an awkward kiss scene between them, the development stopped there.

cinematography 

it definitely did a good job right from the start where the opening was filmed in US. it was consistent throughout and made an impact once again in episodes 19-20.

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final say

i thought that the drama had too many characters, causing it to lose focus especially in the ending. if only there were more people supporting the relationship between the 2 main characters, the show would not have deflated towards the end. however, this is undoubtedly an addictive drama with a decent balance of heart-wrenching and happy moments. oh and not to mention the appropriate cliffhangers after every episodes. though not really realistic, it is still a light-hearted show, especially for fans of lee Minho and Choi Jin Hyuk (OMG).

Drama Review: Princess Man

My love for sageuk (historical) korean dramas took flight when I first watched Dae Jang Geum. With a total of 60 episodes, I completed the entire drama within a month. Thereafter, I embarked on The Moon That Embraces The Sun which was a fusion sageuk. No doubt was it an addictive drama which showcased the excellent acting of Kim Soo Hyun, where he displayed countless layers of himself as the King of Joseon. It was so addictive to a point I gave up watching and scanned through the synopsis instead. Though the plot may be lacking, the lighthearted romance and cliffhangers at the end of every episode has been the cause of many late nights of mine.

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Plot:

On contary to The Moon, I spent quite a few days on the Princess Man.  INTENSE is the word for it and TRAGIC follows thereafter. While romance takes the centerstage, politics surrounding it brought the drama to another level. Though it is based on true historical records whilst the inserting of some fictional characters, the landscape, OST and characters complement one another perfectly. It has slightly more episodes than The Moon but I took longer than expected to finish this drama, simply because it is just too intense. The writing is so tight such that the plot is well-crafted enough to make this drama one of my favourite. While The Moon balances between the thoughts of teens to young adults, i felt that TPM manifested a mature, tragic yet realistic love between the 2 main characters. The emotions in the drama is like the Cyclone on Battlestar Galactica (the one that goes 360 degree). Just like how latte art shows the seriousness and sincerity of a barista in making your drink, the ending of a drama is an important element contributing to the ratings of the drama, which unfortunately has been neglected by many scriptwriters. The ending of TPM is bittersweet, but I thought that it was a pretty good attempt. While I do not understand the necessity of making the male lead blind (oops major spoiler), I thought that it was a great try in balancing the beauty and the sadness, which was the nature of this drama. Once again, because the scriptwriter has painstakingly dedicated a huge chunk to character development, it became a drama which requires one to enjoy the slow brew of story, with occasional tears and heart wrenching moments. Funny how TPM is slow-paced yet not being draggy at all, one impressive drama indeed.

Cinematography:

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The director truly took advantage of Mother nature and blend the landscapes into appropriate scenes. Colours of clothing often matches the surroundings, a direct exemplification of how detailed the production crew actually is. And I truly applaud for that.

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Usually, dramas focuses mainly on the leads and more often than not utilises supporting roles as convenience characters. I’m glad to finally see a change in relationships development for secondary roles and to make it well-established like TPM is no child’s play given the complexity involved. 

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The relationship between the main characters Kim Seung Yoo and Lee Se Ryung was both realistic and convincing. As the bulk of their relationship lies on faith and strength of their love, applause to these main leads who managed to pull this off, not so much of their words but expressions and gestures instead.

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I had expected the slow brewed romance between Jung Jong and Princess Kyung Hye to surface at some point in time but I had not predicted that the process was touching yet tragic. The number of heart-wrenching moments was nothing lower than the main lead’s. Though the number of scenes of this romance was outnumbered by the main lead’s, their scenes were however the most touching and nostalgia often lingered on after every episode.

final verdict:

Revenge ,Politics, Romance. These 3 words probably summed up what the whole drama is about. If you’re in the mood for a drama with a tight-written intense plot and an emotional rollar coaster ride, this is the drama for you.

 

favourite line in the drama?

” Answering to the call of battle is important, and it doesn’t matter if i lose or win.”