2014 in Retrospect

2014 was actually a strange year overall for me. Sometimes it felt so fast, but there were moments when I thought that time moved at the speed of a crawling tortoise. It was not a great year personally and even to the world’s population in general, but I am reflecting on what had happened to make 2015 a better year. Despite all the challenges, I come to realize that blessings come in small packets of full of warmth, just like some of the dramas which aired in 2014.

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Secret Door: The Good, the Bad, and the Acceptable Ones

I would be lying to myself if I said that Secret Door was not my most anticipated drama of the year. Everything about it screamed potential ground-breaking series on the paper: the network (SBS!), the screenwriter (her past works included Hwang Jin-yi and The Immortal Yi Sun-shin!), the director (he worked behind Sign, Ghost, and The Suspicious Housekeeper!), and not to forget, the star-studded cast. But then, the drama suffered low ratings despite the hype surrounding it before it premiered. One can argue that ratings aren’t what they used to represent but there are reasons why the drama turned up being underwhelming than what was expected.

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The Crown Princes Club

If there’s a running theme for this year’s historical Kdramas, it should be the continuous appearance of unfortunate and ill-fated princes of Joseon. So far, we had Crown Prince Sohyeon (1612-1645) in Three Musketeers, Crown Prince Sado (1735-1762) in Secret Door and another addition to the club: Gwanghaegun (1575-1641) in the recently premiered King’s Face. If tales about the fighting consorts of the kings and the drama in the harem were once popular among the viewers, stories about these unfortunate princes who faced difficulties during their days serving as the nation’s heir to the throne are gaining popularity among the youth viewers nowadays. Although the dramas are made with several tweaks here and there for the sake of dramatization, the history behind these princes is still worth reading, for those who are curious about the real historical figures.

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Secret Door: History Bits (Part 3)

This is the last part of the history bits column (?) about Secret Door on this blog, so I hope that these lacking translations can give rough ideas on the history behind the leading figures featured in the drama. There’s another one article related to Sado’s effort to conduct a reform on the state examination and I will translate that one when I have the time to do so. For now, enjoy this post!

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Watchlog (November 2014)

It’s already mid-November and I’ve realized that I only managed to complete a total of four full-length dramas this year. Gasp! The past me would be rushing to finish whatever dramas I’ve put aside throughout the year because I used to hate dropping dramas without finishing them, but since I learned the joy (and relief) of being able to drop dramas, it’s like a new world for me. Definitely less dramas, but more time to deal with more pressing issues of real life. Or is it the other way around? Anyway, I’m back to civilization for these few days and that means..catching up with my dramas!

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Secret Door: History Bits (Part 2)

The history bits delve into the weekly issues presented in the drama and with Secret Door already at its halfway mark, things could only go awry and worse for Yeongjo and Yi Sun. As much as I am dreading the ending, these little things about the historical background of the characters distract me a bit from the impending heartbreak. History presents its complicated points and the endless possibility of interpretations in these articles, so I hope that this will be an eye-opener for us, learning about other’s interpretation of the history. After all…

There is not just one truth out there. Everyone involved carries their own form of the truth.

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Secret Door: History Bits (Part 1)

I chanced upon several articles discussing the history behind Secret Door, and thought that the mix of history and the author’s view on the current politics in South Korea are worth the time spent to read them. I realize that the author, Kim Jung-sung, also wrote a series of articles (one of them can be found here) in response to the historical drama airing in 2011, Tree with Deep Roots. One thing that I like about historical dramas is that they have the power to generate the public’s interest in the history used as the settings. As a foreigner, this is an opportunity for me to gain more insights regarding the fascinating history of South Korea.

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Daddies Have Issues Too!

Forget leads with daddy issues, because this season is for drama daddies with their own issues! Fathers are no longer background characters in dramas because they are more fleshed out now, sometimes possessing threats to the leads, who are no other than their own offspring. There are fathers who are not afraid to risk their own lives in order to protect their family and others who are willing to kill for their children, but there are also fathers who put themselves above everything, even their own children.

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Traditional Korean Clothing: Kdrama Style (Part 2)

It’s been more than three years since the first post about hanbok was posted on this blog. Time does fly very fast nowadays, huh? After doing the introductory post, I also made several short posts focusing on the court attires and ornaments used during Joseon Dynasty. In fact, this was supposed to be the the third installment to the Joseon’s Court Attire posts, but I decided to change it into the second part of the main post, that was the Traditional Korean Clothing: Kdrama Style. Thanks to the world wide web and the never ending interest in hanbok, I have found more details about traditional Korean clothing and I feel that it should be shared with fellow enthusiasts about hanbok, especially those featured in the dramas. I still love to spot the ornaments and the attires worn by the cast, so for those who are in the same boat as me, this detailed post focusing on the court attires might be for you!

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An Outsider’s Thoughts on Sageuk

With the currently airing Three Musketeers and the upcoming Secret Door, the focus is not only the characters in the dramas but also the historical figures who inspired the fictional people featured in the period pieces. Although the history could be a major spoiler for those who hate to be spoiled when they are watching a particular drama, to me, the process to reach the conclusion is more important, since it sets a drama different from the others revolving around the same historical figures. Sure, we already know the ending, but it is worth the time if the events leading to the ultimate ending are wonderfully crafted, enough to leave me breathless. Although breathless sounds like an exaggerated expression but that’s what it feels to watch a well-written drama, which is rare nowadays.

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