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Mouse (2021)

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Drama: Mouse (마우스)
Network: tvN
Episodes: 20
Release Date: March 3 – May 19, 2021
Runtime: Wed. & Thu. 22:30
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
Are psychopaths born or bred? This drama follows two guys with the psychopath gene. One is the son of a well-known serial killer called Head Hunter, the other is the son of a scientist researching about psychopath genes. When a series of murders start happening again, a detective (who is a victim of Headhunter) tries to uncover the killer before it’s too late.

Main Cast
Lee Seung Gi – Jung Bareum
Lee Hee Joon – Ko Moo Chi
Kyung Soo Jin – Choi Hong Ju
Park Ju Hyun – Oh Bong Yi
Kwon Hwa Woon – Sung Yohan

Review
This drama was one hell of a ride! It took the basic question of ‘nature vs nurture’ and put a lot of interesting things along the way. Just when you think you know who the killer is and why, the writer comes up with a sudden twist that makes you rethink what you know. I appreciated that the writer was able to explain a lot of the small clues and questions we have (although most of the ideas were unbelievable).

I loved Bareum and Moochi. I wish they were more scenes of them working together like the first few episodes and in the middle when Bareum suddenly became a genius who can predict the serial killer’s mind. I really like Moochi but sometimes it feels like he is always too late. He is always drunk or away whenever something major happens or cant be reached. And he ends up with people dying on him. He became a detective to kill the Headhunter so when everything ended, he left the force and became an average guy. At least he is at peace.

I liked Bongyi at the start even though she was a brat. But in the latter episodes her character was just there when it was convenient for the plot. And the romance between her and Bareum was weird. She is too young for Bareum and she was mostly annoying. I feel bad for her and what she went through but at least, she ends up having a great guy like Moochi taking care of her.

Never liked Hongju. She was a mystery. How can she not call her parents after all this time? Because of guilt? And i find it hard to believe that the father never recognized who she was when she is a famous tv personality. And she grew up with this huge guilt on her shoulders but was silent the entire time until Yohan was killed. She also had a sour face the whole 20 episodes. What did Yohan like about her? But at least better late than never. She went to jail for what she did years ago, and when she got out of prison, she was finally surrounded by loving parents, here son and Yohan’s mom. I think she deserved happiness too.

The whole government conspiracy was interesting but the big reveal wasn’t too impactful. Or maybe it was rushed. The drama was hinting about this huge OZ operation for so many episodes but all we got in the end was the lady also getting out early (but secretly assassinated).

I feel bad for Sung Yohan. He was misunderstood but he was the softest genius who cared for everyone around him. I thought he deserved more public recognition than just exonerating his name as a killer.

And of course, Jung Bareum as the main lead was sympathetic. He really tried hard, he wished very hard not to become a monster. He was doing well until the stupid OZ triggered his psycho mind and he starting killing people. The brain transplant and Yohan’s emotions blending with his is puro science fiction. I read an article that most of the psychopaths do not always act on their tendencies so it made me wonder, the fact that Bareum has been consciously suppressing his psycho-ness – did it mean that he could have not become a psychopath? or was it going to happen eventually and OZ just triggered it early? And I know Bareum did kill a lot of people but to people who knew him like Chi Kook, his friend, Hongju, Moochi, Bongyi, i knew although they were angry at him, also felt bad for him. I wished there was a better farewell between Moochi and Bareum and not just that one visit. The part where Bareum fulfilled his promise to kill Headhunter was a nice touch, but was too little too late too. The ending was sad but it was the most appropriate ending given the circumstances.

Rating: 8.5/10

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Sell Your Haunted House (2021)

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Drama: Daebak Real Estate (대박부동산)
Network: KBS2
Episodes: 16
Release Date: April 14 – June 9, 2021
Runtime: Weds. & Thurs. 21:30
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
Daebak Real Estate specializes in selling haunted houses. Jia will exorcise the ghosts and her secretary Hwa Jeong will sell the house. Inbum and Jichul scam people by creating fake ghosts to scare them and selling machines to detect these ghosts. Jia and Inbum meet while working on the same case and start to work together to find out what really happened 20 years ago.

Main Cast
Jang Nara – Hong Jia
Jung Yong Hwa – Oh In bum
Kang Mal Geum – Jung Hwa Jeong
Kang Hong Suk – Heo Jichul
Ahn Gil Kang – Do Hak Sung

Review
This drama reminded me a lot of The Master’s Sun – episodic cases with an overarching story, the girl can see ghosts and needs to touch the guy for support (in Master’s Sun, the ghosts disappear whenever she touches him, here, she needs his warmth to bring up her temperature after the exorcism), but the tone and the story is different.

I love the perfect combination of badass Jia and cool In Bum 🥰 They complemented each other well. I didn’t mind that they didn’t end up together as a couple, because although it felt like Inbum liked her, it also felt more like kinship because they understand what the other is going through and are supportive of each other. Also, they are like Kdrama version of ghostbusters with the giant stapler, the needle and Inbum’s fake electro-something machine!

No matter how many times they show it, I can’t get enough of Inbum whenever he is possessed by the spirits and Jia stabbing them. I didn’t have a “favorite” case (i’ve already forgotten the cases now that I’m writing this). I wished they continued with the episodic cases but towards the middle the main story was taking over and it was losing a little bit steam. I think it’s because Do Hak Sun as the main villain was boring. There was no motivation at all why I should care about him or why I should be scared of it. He was just annoying and I wanted him to go away. I’m not sure if I like how his character ended – did I want him to pay for his crimes in prison, or did I want him to die immediately without fanfare? Either way, I’m just glad that he’s gone and burning in hell forever.

As for the main storyline, I don’t know if I should feel sad for Inbum’s uncle or angry. He did set fire to the village that killed people, but all this time he just keeps shouting, Give me my apartment, without really reflecting on the death he created. His grudge why he remained an unrested spirit is because he felt unfair for not getting the apartment, and not because he killed people and feeling remorseful.

I have mixed emotions about Jia and Jia’s mom, and I think that’s exactly how Jia feels. On one hand, she is angry that Jia’s mom chose to kill herself than stay with her, making her an orphan. But once the real events were revealed, we realized that Jia’s mom sacrificed herself for the better good, and it was Jia who stabbed her mom. I think Jia needed people to tell her that she didn’t really “kill” her mom and she should stop feeling guilty about it. And I loved that through her exorcism, she was able to understand her mother’s actions that night, because faced with the same situation, she will do the same thing. The exorcism of the egg ghost wasn’t as spectaculas as I expected it to be though. I loved that Jia’s mom had a nice sendoff. I thought they were going to give her a fantastic goodbye but what we got was beautiful and perfect.

The brightest thing about the show is not just Jung Yong Hwa looking so handsome as Inbum, but also his bromance with Jichul. They are too sweet! Even that scene where they said I love you to each other was both poignant and funny.

I knew somehow Hwa Jeong has a secret but I’m glad it wasn’t that bad. She also had a burden of taking care of Jia at a young age. Maybe she should have trusted Jia more but understandable. I also loved Jia’s mom showing herself to Hwa Jeong to say thank you. Hwa Jeong’s face as she sees her mentor/idol made me tear up.

Rating: 8.5/10

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I Picked Up A Celebrity on the Street (2018)

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Drama: I Picked Up A Star on The Road (나는 길에서 연예인을 주웠다)
Network: Viki, Oksusu
Episodes: 10
Air Date: Nov 1, 2018 – Dec 14, 2018
Air Days: Thursday and Friday
Country: South Korea

Plot
A drunk girl accidentally knocks a guy unconscious after mistaking him for her awful boss. Thinking she may have killed him, she brought him back to her house.

Main Cast
Sung Hoon – Kang Joon Hyuk
Kim Ga Eun – Lee Yeon Seo
Kim Jong Hoon – Nak Goo

Review
The plot was so ridiculous that I almost thought of dropping this after ep 2. But it was also so intriguing and funny so I continued watching. I think by episode 3 I started appreciating the dark humor. Plus Sung Hoon is so handsome as grouchy arrogant Hallyu star!

The female lead is not too bright but I’m impressed how creative and out of the box she is in coming up with solutions to her problem. (If only she channeled it at work too hehe) Afraid she killed a person? Drag him home and really kill him. He woke up and threatens to report you to the police? Kidnap him and hold him hostage! Worried he might escape? Sign a contract that he agrees to live with you without escaping! HAHAHAHA!!! Totally absurd but the leads are so hilarious and cute together! Of course they will fall in love in the end! Stockholm syndrome kdrama style!

More than the kidnapping, this was also about Joon Hyeok investigating who was trying to kill him. I had an initial guess who it was (I ended up being right) but I didn’t know the motive. The reveal was as dark as the mood of the second half and liked it.

At first I didn’t care about the second lead. He was annoying but harmless. My eyes were focused on Sung Hoon lol. But Nak Goo made a good impression on me when he started becoming a star. He is a nice guy and always thought of Yeonseo first, but nice guys doesn’t always get you the girl.

I also liked how much the trio have grown up so much by the end of the drama. Joon hyuk became softer and nicer, Yeonseo became happier and more hardworking and Nakgoo finally found his passion.

The OST was fantastic! Im getting LSS from listening to swing swing swing baby🎶🎶

The ending came too fast, wish it have added one extra episode or extended 30 more mins, just so we can see more sweet scenes between the couple

Rating: 8/10

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Misty (2018)

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Drama: Misty (미스티)
Network: JTBC
Episodes: 16
Release Date: February 2 – March 24, 2018
Runtime: Friday & Saturday 23:00
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
A story of the life and loves of a popular anchorwoman – how far will she go to reach the top and the many men who are willing to do anything for her (even in death), and her enemies who are willing to do anything to bring her down.

Main Cast
Kim Nam Joo – Go Hye Ran
Ji Jin Hee – Kang Tae Wook
Jeon Hye Jin – Seo Eun Joo
Im Tae Kyung – Ha Myung Woo
Go Joon – Kevin Lee

Review
After watching the last episode, I know why they called this Misty, but I think “Misery” is more appropriate and probably how I can describe this drama. I would also describe this as Tragic but it doesn’t sound as good as Misery.

What I loved the most (and really the reason I couldn’t stop watching) is hands down the twisted relationship between Go Hye Ran and Kang Tae wook! Their palpable chemistry whenever they’re on screen. The way they look at each other was so full of sexual tension. And most especially, Kang Tae Wook’s angsty eyes were so sexy yet so sad. After 7 years of pain, and all the difficult things they went through to get to each other, I just wanted them to live happy ever after.

Ji Jinhee just went straight to my oppa collection. OMG! I cant believe i’ve been sleeping on him for years!! (Most probably because his dramas weren’t my cup of tea, but now I’m looking forward to his succeeding dramas).

Go Hye Ran is one of those amazing female characters in Kdramaland. She is so powerful and successful. I loved what Han Ji won said to her, “I dont know about respect, but I know Go Hye Ran always win.” She is not the nicest female character, but you will empathize with her in some way, that’s why despite the tv station being scared of her, when she retired, you can see the admiration in everyone’s eyes, and how much they loved her.

Oh I can’t not mention the fashion. Go Hye Ran’s pantsuits and her different shades of lipsticks screams powerful and sexy. Kang Tae Wook’s gorgeous coats and turtlenecks made him more mysterious and protective.

Director Jang! I normally hate all the characters that Lee Gyun Yeong plays but this time he was amazing! One minute, I’m scared he will throw Hye Ran under the bus, but the next minute, he is all bad-ass, defending her and the reputation of journalists. I really wish that media people are like him. Not manipulating the news for their own (and some powerful corporation’s) interests, but also not withholding the truth from the people. Like he said, FACTS. Give the facts, let the people decide / interpret.

The whole murder-Kevin Lee affair at the start got me so hooked with the story. It was short but Go Joon nailed the playboy Kevin Lee. It was fun to think of who killed Kevin, how and why. About halfway, I was already dreading the truth after I was eliminating each suspect from my mind. I was right — but I didn’t want to be right!!! I also hated Kevin Lee’s wife!!! It’s not Hye Ran’s fault she is amazing, but for Eun Joo to keep insisting she killed Kevin without enough evidence was both infuriating (I wanted to scratch her eyes out for hurting Hye Ran) and pathetic (Eun Joo also led a sad life, but she made her own choices, she knew Kevin’s infidelity, she lost her baby through her negligence, she should just move on and forward).

The downside of this drama is the way the writer handled the murder investigation. For one, I disliked the super incompetent Detective Kang. I can’t believe he has worked as a detective for 20 years and arrests people based on bias and circumstantial evidence. Second, the trial was a big mess. Third, the prosecutors were too dumb. I loved it when Taewook’s assistant shouted at Kang to do his job properly. Like, finally, someone told him what all the viewers must be thinking all this time!

There were also some plotholes and other questions that were never fully answered, but it was okay, because in the end it didn’t really matter to me anymore. I just wanted the case to be closed and put everyone out of their misery.

The last 2 episodes lost focus of its original intention. I was disappointed that Hyeran let go of her principles. I already knew this will never have a happy ending and I would have been happy up to the second half of the last episode. Ha Myung Woo’s sacrifice didn’t make sense and was all for nothing because of the last 10 mins. But I understand why the ending was that way. That final scene when Kang Tae Wook said, “Are you happy?” And Hyeran was crying. SO SAD. SO TRAGIC. I couldn’t stop thinking about the ending even days after watching the show.

Rating: 8.5/10 (8 for the story +0.5 for tragic lives of the leads)

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Vincenzo (2021)

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Drama: Vincenzo (빈센조)
Network: tvN
Episodes: 20
Release Date: February 20 – April 26, 2021
Runtime: Sat. & Sun. 21:00
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
A lawyer for an Italian mafia goes back to Korea with a plan.

Main Cast
Song Joong Ki – Vincenzo Cassano
Jeon Yeo Bin – Hong Cha Young
Ok Taecyeon – Jang Joon Woo
Kwak Dong Yeon – Jang Han Seo
Yoo Jae Myung – Hong Yu Chan
Choi Young Joon – Cho Yeong Un

Review
I was looking forward to Vincenzo because I loved The Fiery Priest and this one did not disappoint! This drama reminded me why I loved Song Joong Ki during his Nice Guy days and pre-army (I didn’t like him in DOTS). He is more than just a pretty face – he is an amazing actor, esp. when he goes on his mafia rage. His cold blooded looks and lifeless eyes were scary!

At first I found it hard to believe that he is the consigliere considering he looks young, he’s not Italian and he’s scrawny. But by the end of the show, I now know why he is the consigliere. He is compassionate yet ruthless, he is precise and he thinks ahead. I honestly didn’t understand why Babel and the 2 lawyers were not scared of him and his threats. I guess, they didn’t think it was true until they faced death.

The most memorable character after Vincenzo is Jang Han Seo. From the start, I already thought that one day he will side with Vincenzo and go up against his brother, but did he really had to have a sad ending? When Vincenzo said “you deserve to be my brother!” I cried too.

I wasn’t that keen on Hong Cha Young at first, I thought the actress was overacting (or maybe trying hard to be like Lee Hanee’s character in The Fiery Priest, who was effortlessly funny and cool) but I eventually warmed up to her (or maybe I got used to her OA-ness?) I like the little team of her, Vincenzo and Lawyer Nam. She was one of the main drivers in the first half of the story, but I also felt she took a backseat when the story focused on Vincenzo and his taking down Babel. The romance between them was also subtle, maybe because it wasn’t the highlight of the story, and also because it would be hard to have a happy ending when Vincenzo can’t stay in Korea. I still loved where they ended up though.

Speaking of Lawyer Nam, I absolutely adored him!!! Very different from his character in Hot Stove League. He is so cute here, and such a fan boy of Vincenzo (him, President of Vincenzo fan club Ahn Gi seok and cutie curly haired Bye -Bye Balloon guy). I was worried that something bad might happen to him along the way, but I remembered that no one died in The Fiery Priest so was happy.

It took some time for me to get used to the Geumga Plaza gang. IMHO, they were not too memorable individually, but together they were a great team! Aside from Lawyer Nam and Bye Bye Balloon ahjussi, I also liked the Scissorhands guy.

I know, some people didn’t like the humor, but I loved the humor (as always from this writer though less laugh out loud like The Fiery Priest), and I loved that the BGM is always perfect for the specific scene. The final episode showing the winery named Vincenzo Cassano 1+1 was perfect (though I don’t think I want to drink wine fertilized by Jung Woo’s remains)!!

Now on to the not so nice part. Hanseok as the main villain wasn’t that engaging to me, mostly because I thought he was no match for Vincenzo. He is a psycho, but the minute his life is in danger, he runs away like a lame bully. The only reason he can get away with it is because of Myunghee, who is the more evil one. She is despicable and I hate her but she was a great character! Their brutal deaths were well deserved.

I wondered how the writer will end this show. Will Vincenzo get exonerated from his crimes? Will he become a consultant to Ahn’s organization? But I think, the ending was just right. Vincenzo stayed the same as an anti-hero, but he gained another set of family and more purpose in life.

Looking back, there wasn’t a meaningful lesson to be learned in this show. It just felt like a mafia guy on a personal vendetta against one corrupt company. Nothing really changed with society. He came and left and everyone moved on with their lives.

Oh, and the most tragic of all — what a waste of gold!! They didn’t even get to spend it!

Rating: 8.5/10