‘Saimdang: Light’s Diary’ struggles with Lee Young Ae’s legacy of ‘Jewel in the Palace’

When actress Lee Young Ae took a break from her drama career in 2005, it was on a high note. Her last role, playing female physician Dae Jang Geum in the 2004 drama Jewel in the Palace made her an international star. Jewel in the Palace was a hard act to follow, and any role Lee took after that would invite comparisons.

Lee continued to receive offers for roles during her long acting break, including a possible sequel to Jewel in the Palace that she rejected. After appearing in the 2005 film Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, the third installment of Park Chan Wook’s The Vengeance Trilogy for which she won Blue Dragon Film and Baeksang Arts awards, Lee declined both film and drama roles, preferring to spend time with her family. Then she was offered the role of Shin Saimdang, the only woman ever to be featured on South Korean currency, the 50,000 won note. Along with being a poet and calligrapher, Shin is also known for being the mother of famous scholar Yulgok, who is on the 5,000 note.

In Saimdang: Light’s Diary, Lee would again have the chance to play an iconic South Korean historical figure, but after the success of Jewel in the Palace, expectations for both the drama’s caliber and ratings were high.

Also on KultScene: The magic of tvN’s ‘Goblin’

Ratings-wise, Jewel In the Palace is one of the top 10 Korean dramas of all time. At its peak the historical drama rated 57.8 percent of Korea’s viewers. Because of the drama’s success in China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia, the South Korean government presented Lee with a Medal of Culture Merit for her contributions to the promulgation of Korean culture Hallyu.

The first episode of Saimdang: Light’s Diary aired on January 26, earning a 16.3 percent Nielsen rating nationwide. Ratings have mostly been double digit but, fell to 10.3 percent by the eighth episode. Saimdang’s ratings would be considered successful for most dramas, but seem less impressive when compared to the runaway ratings of Jewel in the Palace. But judging Saimdang: Light’s Diary through its comparative ratings is not entirely fair, as it’s very different from Jewel in the Palace.

In Jewel In the Palace Lee played a character born with an unlucky fate. The character’s intense desire for justice helped her persevere but also sometimes makes her life more difficult. Orphaned at an early age, she became a palace maid and, despite being smart and talented or perhaps because of it, she made enemies. In each episode Dae Jang Geum faced a potential disaster, overcame it and then faced another disaster. As Korea’s first female doctor, the doggedly determined Dae is also something of a feminist icon. The character fearlessly, recklessly challenged traditions, eventually changing some of them.

But Saimdang: Light’s Diary is a more sophisticated and far less predictable of a drama in comparison to Jewel, which was satisfyingly predictable and emotionally manipulative in the classic K-drama tradition. With a story that flits back and forth between the 16th century and the present in Saimdang, Lee plays two different characters, Seo Ji Yoon, an unjustly disgraced present-day art historian and the title role of Shin Saimdang. While investigating possible art fraud, Seo discovers a diary that offers clues about Shin’s life and helps her to imagine it.

Both Saimdang characters are strong and resilient women, but neither is as easy to relate to as Dae Jang Geum. The real Shin Saimdang was an accomplished and unusually well-educated Joseon-era woman and, fittingly, the character in the drama is as accomplished and well educated, and also reserved and cautious. She’s not interested in winning external approval or changing the order of things. Every sacrifice she undertakes is for others. She gives up romance to save her lover and sacrifices her pride to save her family. She operates within the confines of her family, as a good wife and mother, never letting the disastrous actions of her incompetent fictional husband defeat her. She is a Confucian model of the ideal woman. Yet Shin’s saintly dignity can make the character harder to relate to than the innocent and impulsive actions of Dae Jang Geum. Seo’s introverted character is more nebulous and often seems to exist just to move the story along.

The drama script also incorporates a fictional, unrequited romance into Shin’s story, with Song Seung Heon playing her heartbroken childhood love, the historic figure Lee Gyeom, an artist and influential politician during Korea’s Goryeo era. In reality, Shin and Lee Gyeom were contemporaries but there’s no evidence they ever really met. Similarly, the show depicts Shin married to a lazy gambling scholar, but in actuality she was married to Commander Yi Wonsu and accompanied him to his various postings.

Although the romance is fictional, Song’s presence in this drama makes for the most obvious comparison to Jewel in the Palace; Song’s role as Shin’s aristocratic protector and admirer is similar to the role played by Ji Jin Hee in Jewel in the Palace.

Saimdang’s lesser ratings may also reflect the fact that the drama is two separate stories with some of the same cast. A few actors play very different roles in the past and the present. The roles are so different that it can take some readjustment when the story moves between the present and the past. It could be compared to suddenly switching between two fine but different dramas featuring the same cast. Once viewers segue into another time, the drama is engaging, but the switch can be disorienting.

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But, even with the struggles, Saimdang is an enjoyable drama. So rather than asking if Saimdang: Light’s Diary lives up to the precedent set by Jewel in the Palace, it might be better to ask if it’s worth watching. It is certainly, particular if you like historical dramas, mysteries, and also enjoy watching Lee Young Ae and Song Seung Heon, both of whom deliver an impressive performance. Saimdang’s cast is accomplished, the story is interesting albeit sometimes disorienting, and the cinematography is beautiful. Hopefully Lee Young Ae’s career will include many more varied roles, each of which is judged on its own merit.

Saimdang: Light’s Diary may not become one of the top ten Korean dramas of all time like Lee’s last drama, but it’s well worth seeing, whether or not you’ve seen Jewel in the Palace.

Which Lee Young Ae drama is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

‘Unpretty Rapstar,’ crooked or boost to female Korean rappers?

Rap music in Korea has gained acceptance in recent years to the point where it’s earned space in mainstream culture, primarily through an increase in rap-focused reality shows. But while male hip-hop stars have begun becoming major players in Korea’s entertainment industry, women aren’t doing quite as well.

In the past, Korean rap has been filled with male artists. Women generally appeared only as members of OG hip-hop crews such as Uptown and Honey Family. Nowadays, we get to see more female rappers in Korea, but still very few compared with the hegemony of male rappers on charts, and awards and T.V. shows. But to say that Korea lacks good female MCs would be a false statement. So why aren’t they getting the treatment they deserve? Shows like Mnet’s Unpretty Rapstar highlight the issue.

Some contestants themselves are more problematic than others, but the larger evil is the show’s format rather than specific individuals. Unpretty Rapstar could be a platform for female empowerment, and instead, it appears just to be usurping it for ratings.

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The first season aired in January 2015 and was not only a local sensation, but also appealed to audiences overseas. The second season aired in September 2015 and brought even more attention to more female rappers. The third season aired in July 2016, and ended up catching less attention for the quality of performances and moreso for forcing beefs between the contestants. Not that there wasn’t drama in the script of previous seasons; battles and diss tracks are a common thing in rap music and the hip-hop movement, but compelling women to take it more personally than they are willing to is a whole different thing.

In first season, for example, Tymee said multiple times that she had no problem with Jolly V and no desire to continue fighting her. But it was suggested through the show’s production that the two do so. Season two similarly did not waste opportunities to pit Heize and KittiB against each other on numerous occasions. Moreover, KittiB was constantly body shamed by the show for her curvier silhouette.

On the positive side, the show has contributed a lot to reveal unknown talents and gave more opportunities to female rappers who already had a solid career or were up-and-coming. However, the premise itself is problematic. It leads one to wonder whether a segregated space for women to rap in would be needed if they already had equal opportunities to showcase their work regardless of their gender. Women are able to appear on Show Me The Money, the male-dominated equivalent of Unpretty Rapstar, but few have made it to the final rounds.

Moreover, it’s not only the need for all-woman competition show that is questionable; the execution of the concept doesn’t help much either. This year’s season had less of a focus on the talent and experience of the contestants and instead veered towards focusing on and maximizing the drama between contestants. More often than not, it centered on their physical appearances — far more than it had during the previous two installments.

It is hard to take a show like this seriously when we see legends like Miryo (former member of hip-hop group Honey Family and current member of girl group Brown Eyed Girls) competing next to artists like Kassy, who is actually a singer that occasionally spits a few bars on her songs. Or when we see Grace, who gained more screen time due to charisma and creative outfits than actual talent.

Is that all women are for? To serve as entertainment?

And since we mentioned Miryo, it is relevant to say that even though, apparently, she was there because she wanted to, her presence on the show only serves to support the thesis that Unpretty Rapstar fails to help the cause of female union and empowerment. Kept in due proportion, Miryo is like Tymee (contestant on Unpretty Rapstar 1) and Gilme (contestant on Unpretty Rapstar 2): a talented and respected rapper with enough history to be on the position of a mentor, not a contestant.

Except for Yoon Mirae (who’s au concour in any discussion about female Korean rappers) and some underground legends such as Choi Sam, Rimi, and Sleeq, almost every female rapper with considerable notoriety in Korea has already been on Unpretty Rapstar. When you unite the majority of female talent as competitors, especially considering that these competitors will be judged mostly by men, what you’re saying is that you don’t have women talented enough to be on a position of power, which is false.

Let’s take the winner of Unpretty Rapstar 3 as an example. The very fact that Giant Pink was inserted into the show after being unfairly eliminated from Show Me the Money 5 is problematic.

Watching the cast of Unpretty Rapstar 3 performing on Show Me the Money 5 already gave viewers an idea of what was to come. Just like during Unpretty Rapstar 2, when Truedy got more bars on the group song and was favoured during the entire competition until she won, Giant Pink played a similar role in season 3 by receiving prominence on a performance featured on the same competition she was previously discarded by, as if they wanted people to be happy for her to be reigning on a female exclusive competition though she wasn’t “good enough” to make it in Show Me the Money. It continually reinforces the “you’re good for a girl” ideology; good enough for the girls, but not quite up against guys.

Also on KultScene: Which ‘Unpretty Rapstar’ Contestant Are You? [QUIZ]

And, of course, Giant Pink won, even though she failed multiple times during the competition.

What’s being questioned is not the contestants talent; that’s arbitrary. Both Truedy and Giant Pink are very competent rappers, but the main thing is that it is hard to believe Unpretty Rapstar 3 didn’t intend for Giant Pink to come out as the winner since the beginning. The whole scenario suggests that she would only be able to succeed as long as she did not try to be as good as a man.

The same could be said about Ash-B, a fierce girl with amazing flow who also got eliminated early on on Show Me the Money 5 for no perceptible reason, that she was a woman. She later got reinserted into the third season of Unpretty Rapstar after failing during the second season. This time, Ash-B did much better and went much farther on the competition. But the concerning remains: if she is so qualified, why didn’t they let her show all this talent in a competition that is supposed to be for rappers of any gender?

It doesn’t help at all that women can only get attention when they are seen competing against each other. Instead of criticizing women, we should be asking ourselves why is it that they cannot get appropriate opportunities to showcase their work outside of the little arena in media designed for females only?

With that said, the benefits gained from participating in Unpretty Rapstar can’t be ignored. It got Cheetah and Yezi to be featured as judges in another rap show; KittiB signed with Brand New Music, being now the only female solo act amongst names like Verbal Jint, San E, and P-Type; Heize got an all-kill on music charts with her single “Star” in Dec. 2016; Jessi’s career finally took off after more than 10 years in the business. Those achievements certainly would have been less likely to happen if those ladies hadn’t been on the show.

Will women in Korean rap ever have the respect and success they deserve? Will they be put in spotlight in situations different than forcefully battling their congenial or serving as entertainment? We sure do hope so. While we wait to see about a fourth season, we can surely say that 2017 has potential to be a better year for female rappers and that’s, in a way, thanks to Unpretty Rapstar.

What are your thoughts on Unpretty Rapstar’s portrayal of female rappers? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

The magic of tvN’s ‘Goblin’

Goblin K-drama

Swooping in at the end of the year, tvN’s Goblin is quickly is on its way to being one of the most watched Korean dramas of all time. Only two weeks into its eight-week-long run, Goblinhas already surpassed this year’s previously most popular K-drama, Descendants of the Sun (aka DOTS); Goblin’s second week of ratings was on par with DOTS’s fifth week.

The new series tells the stories of a goblin who has spent a millennium looking for his bride who will — wait for it– put an end to his life and suffering. It stars Gong Yoo, Kim Go Eun Lee Dong Wook, Yoo In Na and BTOB’s Yook Sungjae as the motley crew of characters who have entranced K-drama fans internationally in a way no other show in 2016 has even come close to.

But why? Why is this one show, a short, 16-episode miniseries essentially, getting such a roar of approval from audiences who have already seen several well-received dramas of 2016?

Quality Truly Does Matter

To compare Goblin with other 2016 hits, like DOTS, W, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryo, Cheese In the Trap, or Answer Me 1988, would make a lot of sense. But the fantasy romance has surpassed all of those and other popular dramas of the year, simply thanks to its amazing production value.

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The show was partially pre-produced in a year when pre-production seems more like a curse than a blessing for some K-dramas. But knowing when and how to use pre-production isn’t the only thing that showrunners have excelled at on Goblin. They have made the most of its limited episode-length and actually done something most Korean television shows struggle with: make a coherent plot without the need for unwarranted filler.

While it’s only four episodes in, every moment in the drama seems to have a point. The stillness of the quiet moments, the hilarity of the bromantic fighting between the Goblin and the Grim Reaper, the main character getting bullied in school… Each moment on its own could be seen as a subplot keeping the two main characters apart and avoiding the inevitable moment when Kim Go Eun’s Ji Eun Tak attempts to put an end to the Goblin’s suffering. But none of it comes across that way, and the show’s writing and cinematography stage the tale so perfectly that (in the first four episodes at least) every storyline runs into one another and nothing comes across as pointless scenes to kill time. The relatively small ensemble fills each episode fully while the scripting and storylines make viewers care for each character.

Kim Eun Sook has written numerous popular dramas, including Secret Garden, Gentleman’s Dignity, The Heirs, and, yes, Descendants of the Sun but she’s turned things up a notch for Goblin. While several of those shows were built to appeal to millions around the globe, it seems that Goblin’s home on a cable channel has given Kim the environment to create a show and characters that are a pleasure to watch rather than poorly written characters portrayed by major stars. The multi-faceted characters are the best Kim Eun Sook have written, even more so than the fully-leshed out playboys from Gentleman’s Dignity, and if tvN is what she needs to provide actors with wonderful scripts, she should never leave cable. The dark comedy is the best thing she’s ever had her hand in.

The Actors

After the fiasco that was Cheese In The Trap, placing Kim Go Eun as the lead in any show seemed risky. Although Kim herself wasn’t the problem with Cheese, she was attached to it and carried the weight of the show on her shoulders. But her portrayal of Ji Eun Tak hits all the right notes: She’s a spunky high school student who has dealt with more than her fair share of hardships but strolls into Gong Yoo’s Goblin’s life like a burst of sunshine.

Gong Yoo, in turn, is providing his best performance to date as the stoic title character who goes from vicious warrior to adorkable “what if she doesn’t like me?” bridegroom on a moment’s notice. His chemistry with Kim, whose character is in high school, works because neither character’s intensity overwhelms the other: although they’re involved in an epic love story, there are still the individual quirks that make lovers attracted to one another.

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Then, aside from the two leads (although it really feels like each of the quintet has some lead value), there’s Lee Dong Wook and Yook Sungjae acting as the Moe and Curly to Gong Yoo’s Larry. But each actor provides so much more to Goblin than just characters to act as foils to Gong Yoo’s less-than-perfect hero. Lee’s Grim Reaper brings the perfect amount of gravity to guiding humans to the afterlife, never taking pleasure in his role as intermediary between life and death but instead seeing it as penance for the life he himself cannot remember. His interactions with Gong Yoo’s Goblin are tinged with a hatred, jealousy, and appreciation, and a pleasure to watch. (The bromance between the two supernatural entities is filled with some of the best K-drama moments of 2016.)

Meanwhile, Yook Sungjae is acting as the annoying little brother (or nephew) character for the show’s titular character and doing his best to figure out why a Goblin and Grim Reaper live with one another. (And get his credit card back from Grampa…)

And after her mother’s death and being raised by horrible relatives, Kim Go Eun’s character finds support in Yoo In Na’s Kim Sun (Sunny? Still unclear!) as an older sister mentor figure. Yoo In Na has had the least amount of screentime in the four aired episodes, but she’s had a major impact as a flirty but serious shop owner looking for financial success and love.

The male-dominated show needed another woman for Kim to interact with, and choosing to go with the strong-willed, independent Yoo instead of the obvious choice of a high school classmate was a perfect decision by the showrunners. (Fans speculate that Lee and Yoo’s characters also may have a wider connection than currently explored on the show, related to in the series’ pilot and the Goblin’s curse. We’ll just have to wait and see!)

2016 has proved that bigger isn’t necessarily better, with well-funded K-dramas like DOTS and Moon Lovers not being able to deliver on well-written plots that matched their sizeable budgets. Goblin, which doesn’t appear to be troubled by an excess of sponsorships, has taken the characters to autumn in Quebec and historic battlefields with some of the most beautiful cinematography coming out of Korea in 2016.

Combined with a soundtrack filled with appropriately haunting ballads, Goblin’s setting is the perfect accompaniment for the plot and characters. While often considered lesser than the actors or screenwriters, Goblin’s crew deserves a round of accolades for being able to put together what is one of the most perfectly created K-dramas of the year, if not decade.

Also, it’s extremely self aware for a K-drama. 

Only time will tell if Goblin lives up to the promise delivered in the first four episodes, but for now we’re enthralled.

Are you watching? If not, it’s available on DramaFever in the US. Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

What’s Killing ‘Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo’?

Moon Lovers Scarlet Heart Ryeo

Time travel, betrayals, sibling rivalry, star-crossed lovers… SBS’s latest pre-produced drama Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo has it all. Except the South Korean viewers. Those all went to KBS2’s Moonlight Drawn By the Clouds, which managed to garner more than double the amount of viewers of its rival historical K-drama before ending earlier this week. International fans are clearly watching, but Moon Lovers is not really as popular as expected based on the fact that NBC Universal and YG Entertainment co-produced the show. But it’s more than just one show is better than another; Moon Lovers is struggling from immense flaws and the cute, safer (aka banal) drama is winning over Korean television audiences, with Moonlight dominating with more than double the amount of viewers that Moon Lovers retains in the same time slot.

So what’s going on with Moon Lovers exactly that’s making it bomb at home and causing international fans to stop watching?

Lacking Proper Direction and Editing

It’s not uncommon to get frustrated with a fantastic drama, but Moon Lovers took things to another level and truly well-done episode or scene is paired with a dozen less exciting alternatives. Because the show is spanning such a long time, it seems that the plot has been edited to speed things up rather than actually, you know, develop. Notably, we’re more than 15 episodes in and I doubt the titular lovers (played by IU and Lee Joonki) have had an hour of on-screen time together. There’s also a lot of focus on certain things, such as taking too long with determining Kang Haneul’s relationship with IU, and then rushing key moments of IU and Lee Joonki’s relationship. Some subplots, like a marriage of a prince, gets too much of a focus in order to highlight a key moment of the plot… Four episodes later. Can someone please fire the production team and replace the show so that we get the full story in a timely manner, please and thank you?

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It’s Too Short

The development is completely hindered by the length of the show. Most historical dramas are typically at least 50 episodes long, or don’t really address major lengths of time. But attempting to gloss over time… It doesn’t really work. Moonlight took place over a few months, but Moon Lovers has skipped years at a time and left characters in just about the same spot they were or, even worse, with major changes that the audience is supposed to simply… guess? There have been some lovely scenes to portray the passing of time and some just gave the characters new clothes.

Idol Stigma

Aside from the production issues, the show was hurt early on because of IU and EXO’s Baekhyun. Both singers were announced as key roles and many people, particularly the Korean media and audience, appear to have shunned the show initially because of it. And, to be honest, neither of them are solid enough actors to take lead characters in a drama produced in part by NBC Universal. A pre-produced, well-funded show should have great actors. IU and Baekhyun have each shown their potential, but they’re relative amateurs and often rely on other actors to pick up the emotional brunt of the moment. With that said, the stigma is ridiculous since the show still manages to have some of the most intriguing plots of the year despite its flaws.  Moon Lovers has such a great story with so much potential, it seems kind of silly at the end of the day that there are this many blatant flaws with it.

(And shout out to singer Z.Hera for doing a phenomenal role as the cute, yet fierce, Soon Deok.)

Pandering to International (Female) Audiences

Lee Joonki, Kang Haneul, Baekhyun, Hong Jong Hyun, Nam Joo Hyuk, and Ji Soo each play a prince, and each of them are fairly well-known and attractive young actors. While the show doesn’t lack extraordinary female characters (Woo Hee Jin deserves an award for her final scene as Lady Oh), Moon Lovers appears to be nothing but eye candy at first glance. While Korean audiences enjoy a good love story, Moon Lovers looks like the historic, updated version of the juvenile romance Boys Over Flowers. Which is a good thing to some people but also a deterrent for others hoping for a more serious show. Moon Lovers is more of a tragedy than a comedy, but it’s certainly more lighthearted than other famous Korean historical dramas, like Queen Seondeok or Daejanggeum, but it truly looked off putting at first glance.

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Improper Distribution

Hands down, the worst thing to happen to Moon Lovers is the fact that foreign fans aren’t getting the same version as the Korean ones are. If you are watching the show and don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to start googling “Moon Lovers Korean version eng sub” or something similar, because you’re going to understand so much more of the show right now. That terrifying assault of a kiss? Still horrific, but there was actually something leading up to that which put it in perspective. But because Korea edited the pre-produced show and shipped it overseas before the air date, when the production team decided to re-edit the plot (aka LIVE PRODUCE) they weren’t able to send the updated versions. I reached out to DramaFever to see why that was the case, but unfortunately, never heard back.

So essentially, instead of pre-production ensuring the quality of the drama, it led to fans around the globe getting different versions of the show. Obviously pre-production has its positives, but it seems like it hindered Moon Lovers’ international distribution.

It’s Not Necessarily A Romance

Thanks Anna and Leah for making me realize this one. As much as a lot of South Korean dramas do well locally that aren’t melodramas or romantic comedies, those are mostly relegated to cable television and never garner incredibly high ratings. Like saccharine ballads replacing K-pop on Korean music charts, romantic shows like Moonlight will always do better than more politically driven shows like Moon Lovers. (Kind of like how Signal is acknowledged as the best drama Korea’s put out this year but more mainstream-friendly ones with straightforward plots, like Descendants of the Sun and W, pick up all of the awards).

At the end of the day, most people in South Korea don’t appear to want to watch a show about a long ago dynasty’s struggles, and that’s what Moon Lovers is at the end of the day: a succession story. The romance comes secondary, to the degree that many viewers (myself included) want there to be more time spent on the lead couple’s romance. But this show isn’t necessarily about the titular lovers. Rather, Moon Lovers about the foundation of Korea’s Goryeo dynasty.

What are your thoughts on Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo? Share your opinions in the comment section below. Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Who’s your ‘Cinderella & Four Knights’ ideal guy? [QUIZ] [EXCLUSIVE CLIP]

k drama k-drama kdrama quiz Cinderella and Four Knights

Ever since we watched the last episode of Boys Over Flowers, there’s been a void in our hearts. Many K-dramas with their jaded chaebols and their flower boy cliques have tried to fill up the emptiness, but nothing really feels quite the same. But then came Cinderella and Four Knights with its three good-looking, rich cousins who hate each other and the relatable heroine who will help them be normal and better people. Yup, sign us up.

Starring Jung Il Woo(The Moon Embracing the Sun), Ahn Jae Hyeon (Blood), Lee Jung Shin (of group CNBLUE), Choi Min (Yong Pal) and Park So Dam (Because it’s the First Time), Cinderella and Four Knights recreates a classic tale with a Korean twist. It follows Eun Ha Won (Park So Dam) as she moves into a fancy mansion with four handsome billionaires after being kicked out of her house by her mean stepmother. She takes on the job of improving the guys’ personalities.

With only five episodes in, it’s not definite who Eun Ha Won will fall for: the player Kang Hyun Min (Ahn Jae Hyeon), the dreamy Kang Seo Woo (Lee Jung Shin), the reliable Lee Yoon Sung (Choi Min), or the badass Kang Ji Woo (Jung Il Woo). However, us viewers are already setting our eyes on which knight we like the best. And to help you make a better informed decision on who to stan and make your heart race a little, KultScene has an exclusive clip of today’s episode of Cinderella and Four Knights streaming on DramaFever. More on that later…

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Have you already fallen for one of the knights? Are you still on the fence? Want a little help to reinforce that you’ve made the right choice? Or maybe we can just help you make it. Take our quiz and find out who your ideal Cinderella and Four Knights guy is:

…Of course it doesn’t end with knowing who your Cinderella and Four Knights beau is. If you’ve been keeping up with the drama, you can’t wait to find out what’s next, and we’re hooking you up with an exclusive clip for today’s episode. Check it out here:

Are you watching Cinderella and Four Knights? How are you liking it so far? Share your thoughts and quiz results in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

‘Age of Youth’ is the sweetest, most realistic, & most underrated K-drama of 2016

Age of Youth Poster

Watching a K-drama is typically a lot of fun, whether they’re feel-good romances or haunting melodramas. But over the past few years, there has been an uptick in Korean television shows whose sole purpose is to highlight the feelings of a generation. The Answer Me and School (sans perhaps the last 2015 installment) are two such series praised for their capacity to make the audience recognize the trials young people go through. JTBC’s soon-to-be-ending drama Age of Youth strives to do the same, but rather than focus on a generation, it emphasizes the stressors in the lives of young women modern day Seoul and South Korean society as a whole. It does such a phenomenal job that it’s going to be depressing come the award season when Age of Youth will likely be overlooked in favor of bigger budget and high-profile dramas.

Between the superb acting, endearing plotlines, and well-written script, Age of Youth is one of the best dramas South Korea’s seen this year. While high-profile dramas get a lot of attention both locally and internationally, Age of Youth is slowly garnering attention. According to Wikipedia, the show achieved nearly 3 percent of ratings nationally in South Korea during the Olympics, nothing to scoff at. So what’s the big deal and why is this little, 12-episode drama grabbing the attention?

[Disclaimer: Some spoilers are included but no major plot points.]

1. It’s All About The Ladies

These five roommates may not be the best of friends, but they still root for one another through all the ups and downs of the last few months. Have a job interview? Here are some shoes to borrow. (Or not…) Need a drink? We got you, whether you need a raucous party or just to be left alone to nurse your beer and a broken heart. Miss a shift at work? Here are four replacement workers! Break up? We’ll throw you a party! And, my personal favorite, started dating and you’re an innocent cutie (who may not have committed patricide)? Here, have a folder full of porn.

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 1.10.48 PM Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 1.11.13 PM

If you’re a fan of K-pop, you’ve probably heard the idea of a girl crush girl group (BlackPink and Twice, anyone?) But Korean dramas aren’t exactly known for their strong, tough “girl crush” characters for women to look up to. Handsome men? Check. More or less independent women who still swoon the minute they see one of those men? Check. But women doing their own thing? Sometimes…? That’s what this whole show is about. The quintet are one another’s cheerleaders, sometimes lovers, and even though there are still misunderstandings the beauty of the show is that the five women truly support one another.

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2. The Actresses Are All Fabulous

I was a bit doubtful, considering that Age of Youth had no names I recognized except former T-ara member Ryu Hwayoung (who looks a lot like actress Park Shin Hye) and former KARA member Han Seungyeon, who play a high-end call girl and a blinded by love student in an abusive relationship respectively. But all of the stars are phenomenal actors. The viewers will root for the five women, even at their worst. And by worst, I mean when you find out that at least two of the main characters have killed people.

credit DOLLIU on Tubmlr

credit DOLLIU on Tubmlr

credit DOLLIU on Tubmlr

credit DOLLIU on Tubmlr








Han Yeri in particular evokes a sense of sadness even though she has the least lines in the show, but she is such a consummate actress that every movement is full of meaning. And if you don’t absolutely hate the characters played by Ji Il Joo (slimy Doo Young) and Min Sung Wook (the restaurant manager), then you should go back and rewatch because those two actors make it believable that there are such detestable people in the everyday world.

3. No Chaebols

Can it be true??? Chaebols, or the (usually young and handsome) heirs of family conglomerates, often play a role in many popular South Korean dramas. But Age of Youth is almost entirely devoid of this K-drama cliche. Some characters come from wealthier backgrounds or earn more, but overall, most characters are regular, everyday middle class Koreans living in random neighborhoods throughout Seoul. This is a drama so, of course; everybody still has the best phones and looks stylish, but it’s a step in the right direction to make relatable television. It’s clearly one of the best dramatizations of everyday life out of Korea, and the U.S to be honest, this year.

4. It Talks About All The Big Issues

Sex, depression, stalking, murder, death, poverty, finding direction, workplace harassment, and prostitution are just some of the things that Age of Youth addresses.

While many dramas make a big deal of sleeping with someone, in this drama, it just is normal. The budding romance between Park Hyesoo and Shin Hyunsoo’s characters, Eunjae and Jongyeol is sweet and innocent, but the minute they kiss the next question the other girls ask is when they’re going to have sex, no coyishness whatsoever. This is the real world, and these are real young women with desires.

Life is too easy until death

And as for finances, it simply makes sense a few episodes in when the roommates discover one of their peers is selling herself for money; it’s the only way to live fashionably in Seoul. (Some social commentary, maybe?) A recurring theme, several characters encounter situations where they face being forced to reject money in favor of preserving their self-respect. Even debt is portrayed realistically, as something horrifying and life-threatening. And the debt collectors aren’t ruthless gangsters as in most dramas, they’re just guys trying to collect even while feeling bad for harassing a college student to pay for her mother’s mistakes.

5. We’re All People

The first episode gave us a basic introduction through the five women living in the house together. And while it seemed like the story would be centered around newcomer Eunjae, but by the end of the episode the screenwriting enabled viewers to see the point of view of each of the quintet and has since followed that pattern. It was, in essence, a maturing from the typical K-drama trope of following just one or two main characters. Age of Youth is all about the process of growing older through college years, and those few minutes of understanding the other housemates for the first time seemed like the first baby steps that will lead the path to adulthood (which, unfortunately, will likely arrive when the final episode airs this week).

via arangs on Tumblr

via arangs on Tumblr

Also on KultScene: How effective will China’s ban on K-dramas be?

6. It’s Not Just About Romance

If you haven’t realized yet, this show isn’t the typical K-drama romance. These girls sit around chatting sometimes, do laundry, exercise, play pranks, bicker, date, go to school and work, etc. Thankfully, Age of Youth is filled with young women who are literal Wonder Women doing their own thing and it’s very clear that happiness doesn’t innately mean finding Mr. Right. It’s still a K-drama, so that definitely helps, but these ladies are searching for their paths in life first with romance coming as just one part on a path to self-fulfillment. Even though each of the five women have some sort of loveline, the relationships are used more to depict personal growth and character development rather than the innate goal of this drama. disappointing age of youth relationship

7. But We’re Still Rooting for Happy Endings

While Age of Youth is atypical for a drama, it will still likely aim for the happy ending trope and that’s not particularly a bad thing. (Although if one of them gets a sad finale… Well, it will just prove how quasi-realistic this show is!).

Just have a happy ending please!


Even though it’s not all about love, each of main characters are young teens and twenty somethings (the youngest Eunjae is 20 by Korean standards, likely 18 internationally, while the eldest Jinmyung is 28 Korean age/26 internationally) and looking for happiness. For some of them, at the moment that hopefully includes the men who have been cheering them on as they overcome their hardships and for others it means finding out what makes them happy.

Have you watched Age of Youth? Which roommate is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

How effective will China’s ban on K-dramas be?

chinese ban on korean dramas kdrama

Early in July 2016, South Korea and the US agreed to deploy the US Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) to the Korean Peninsula as North Korea continues to test launch intermediate-range ballistic missiles. South Korea says it wants the system for protection against North Korean missiles, but China feels the system will be used to spy on strategic Chinese locations. To retaliate for South Korea’s defensive move, China has banned Korean entertainers from appearing in China and banned K-dramas altogether. Enforcing that ban and asking Chinese viewers to stop watching K-dramas may be a bit more complicated than that for a variety of reasons.

It’s hard to know how the Chinese people feel about this ban. China’s state news agency Xinhua said there’s support for the ban because the Chinese love their country more than they love K-drama, but Chinese viewers might find it hard to break up with this highly addictive form of entertainment. In some ways, the choice forced on viewers can be compared to that much loved K-drama trope: the love triangle. On one hand, there’s a government saying love of country comes first. On the other, there’s hyper-addictive entertainment with attractive stars that has won Chinese hearts. Who wins? China’s government may want to take note. In k-dramas the female lead usually chooses the more attractive and charismatic alternative.

The popularity of South Korean entertainment media in China has never pleased the Chinese government. Every new K-drama success prompted a warning from the government. When the recent drama Descendents of the Sun hit over 400 million views, the government issued a warning saying that “watching Korean dramas could be dangerous, and even lead to legal troubles.” While that particular statement did not explain what those “legal troubles” were, dramas reportedly caused a pregnant Chinese woman to almost miscarry after bingeing on the fried chicken consumed in the drama “My Love From The Star” and another young woman to develop glaucoma after binge-watching a drama.

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The government has long decried the values K-dramas depict; values that are more in line with capitalist countries, such as the U.S., and cautioned citizens against their not-so-subtle influence. Following the recent political defense move by South Korea, the Chinese government decided to ban appearances by Korean drama and K-pop celebrities.

For starters, Chinese viewers have become used to Korean content. By 2006, Korean dramas already accounted for more of the programming on Chinese television than any other foreign programming and the demand continued to grow. This, in part, is why China’s political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC), held a meeting in 2014 to discuss the dangerous appeal. The focus? Why could the Chinese government not make comparable television dramas that appeal around the globe when China had long considered itself the standard bearer for Asian culture.

While the Chinese government and industry pondered the question a lot of money left China earmarked for Korean entertainment companies and the makers of the products promoted in them. As successive dramas aired, the price for episodes went up, funneling even more Chinese money to Korea. The YSL lipstick shade worn by Jun Ji Hyun, star of the 2014 drama You Who Came From The Stars, sold out almost immediately. Chinese imports of South Korean beauty products doubled in 2015. Moreover, increasing numbers of Chinese tourists traveled to Korea to visit drama sites, including “You Who Came From The Stars,” often outnumbering Korean tourists at the same sites.

Doing business in China was profitable for the Korean entertainment community, which increasingly catered to fandoms there. The variety show Running Man made more money from the sale of copyright for the Chinese version than it did domestically. The casting of stars in K-drama or variety shows was influenced by their popularity in China. For example, Park Hae Jin was a smart casting choice in Cheese in the Trap not only because he was right for the part, but also due to his huge following in China.

During the last decade more Hallyu actors appeared in Chinese dramas and Chinese actors became more common in Korean dramas. Dramas such as Descendants of the Sun, starring Song Hye Kyo and Song Joong Ki, and Saimdang: The Herstory, starring Lee Young Ae and Song Seung Heon, were filmed completely in advance, partly to make it easier for Chinese censors to screen out sensitive material that might offend Chinese audiences. Censorship is a must when dramas air in China. For example, Doctor Stranger had the North Korean segments removed before it could be shown in China, as the government supports the North Korean regime.

The Chinese government also wanted some of the K-drama revenue to stay in China, insisting that Chinese companies had to invest in or co-produce any dramas that could be shown there. As a result, Seoul and Beijing signed a Free Trade Agreement in June 2015, and Chinese investment in the entertainment industry surged to $86 million in 2016. That’s a considerable amount of Chinese money entangled in the future of K-dramas, especially considering that future may be uncertain.

After the Chinese government threatened to ban Korea’s pop stars and actors, China’s Morning Post newspaper quoted industry experts saying that they were told to postpone any plans for new programs that involve South Korean stars or copyright for South Korean shows. Additionally, appearances by Korean stars were immediately canceled, the first being events for Uncontrollably Fond stars Kim Woo Bin and Suzy Bae and Park Bo Gum of Reply 1988. Song Joong Ki, the star of Descendents of the Sun, has seen his ads removed from China’s smartphones. The smartphone company Vivo cited “unavoidable circumstances.”

So what does that mean for Korean-Chinese productions? According to the American entertainment publication Variety, Chinese-Korean co-productions and talent are to be restricted, but shows already being filmed and aired may be exempt. However, there are Korean stars appearing in Chinese productions. Ji Chang Wook and Yoo In Na are currently working in China. Actor Ji Chang Wook stars in the Chinese drama Whirlwind Girl 2. Rumors spread that it was taken off the air but on August 2, his agency Glorious Entertainment denied those rumors saying that the program still airs. Yoo In Na is currently filming a Chinese period fantasy drama titled Love Weaves Through A Millennium 2, a remake of her K-drama Queen In-Hyun’s Man. Production did stop briefly after the announcement, but Yoo In Na’s agency, YG Entertainment, cautioned jumping to a conclusion. There has been no announcement that the show will be cancelled.

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As for films, The Korea Times reported that Lee Min Ho’s film The Bounty Hunter grossed $29 million since its Chinese release in July. Will Korean films face the same restrictions and will Chinese audiences be ready to skip the next drama of the megastar so many fans love? That remains to be seen.

One thing is sure, however. The ban will hurt the bottom line at Korea’s entertainment agencies. China is the biggest foreign buyer of Korean cultural content. No sooner was the ban announced than stock in Korean entertainment companies dropped, although since then some companies have recovered slightly.

South Korea is not likely to withdraw from THAAD, so China may find it difficult to rescind its ban. The government has drawn a line in the sand and it may be a line that some Chinese viewers are tempted to cross; a ban on the Hallyu could backfire by making K-dramas seem even more appealing. Will more Chinese drama lovers travel to Korea more often to see their favorite stars or possibly find new viewing sources to satisfy their drama fever? After all, K-dramas are a hard habit to break.

What’s your take on the Chinese ban? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

“Let’s Fight Ghost” Diverges From Previous Ghost Dramas

Screengrab from official site

During the first few frames of “Let’s Fight Ghost,” starring 2PM’s Ok Taecyeon and Kim So Hyun, it seemed as if the drama might be haunted by the past of other recent tvN spectral dramas, like “The Master’s Sun,” Oh My Ghostess,”and “Who Are You.” The dramas set the bar for spooky tVN shows as they featured plenty of gloomy ghosts and star-crossed supernatural pairings. But “Let’s Fight Ghost” takes a different horror rom-com angle; a lighter, leave-you-grinning take on the veil between life and death.

Taecyeon plays the part of a college student well, but then it’s the right kind of role for him. The 2PM rapper has a boyish, wide-eyed charm that makes him a likable if not nuanced actor. He always seems slightly embarrassed that anyone has asked him to act, but his earnestness and charismatic smile are seductive. He’s appealing enough as a character who’s hired to take out ghosts — a sort of supernatural fixer or gangster ghostbuster. As an actor, Taecyeon knows his way around ghosts. It’s not his first drama dealing with them firsthand: he played a supernaturally challenged detective in “Who Are You?”

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Here Taecyeon plays a main character who sees ghosts just like Gong Hyo Jin’s character in “The Master’s Sun.” But in this ghost story, the person who sees spirits is a man with his fists up rather than a tormented woman trying to avoid the apparitions. Rather than trying to run from the specters, only to eventually be scared into carrying out their mission, Taecyeon’s ghost visionary both seeks out and literally knocks ghosts out into submission. And, unlike So Ji Sub’s ghost-repellant character, Taecyeon’s love interest does not make ghosts disappear. Instead, she’s a ghost in her own right.

That’s where the star-crossed lover part comes in…

It doesn’t get more star-crossed than falling in love with a person who is not alive. It rarely works out well, even in K-dramas. Yes, Park Bon Pal, Taecyeon’s character, can see and talk to Kim Hyun Ji, the spectre played by Kim So Hyun, but the relationship is likely doomed by her lifeless state. Kim Hyun Ji’s lack of physical substance will definitely make it hard for Park Bon Pal to introduce her to his friends and family. Admitting that he was dating a ghost might qualify him for some extensive therapy.

And as for the relationship, Taecyeon and Kim So Hyun seem well matched in energy. He’s actually a decade older than the child actress, but she qualifies as his acting senior, since she debuted 10 years ago while he’s only been acting for six. The drama explains their age disparity by saying she’s been dead for a while so that she is actually older… Dead years apparently count…

Actress Kim So Hyun is always appealing in fresh wholesome way, but this time, she plays a sassy student ghost eager to be kissed. Kim’s Kim Hyun Ji can’t remember her former life and is somehow convinced that kissing Taecyeon’s character will help restore lost memories. One of the actress’ last roles was playing twin students in “Who Are You: School 2015?” What this role lacks in complexity, compared to her character in “Who Are You: School 2015,” it makes up for with sheer sassiness. And Kim seems worlds older. At 17, this actress is no longer a child but becoming a beautiful and flirtatious leading lady.

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Ghost dramas don’t always do well, although “Oh My Ghostess” and “The Master’s Sun” were both successful, ratings-wise. “Let’s Fight Ghost” is more like “Oh My Ghostess,” as the romantic parameters of the plot were well established early on. It’s not as comically tortured nor funnily foreboding as “The Master’s Sun.” The “Let’s Fight” ghosts are frightening, but can be physically vanquished. So far, they don’t expect emotionally wrenching missions to be carried out, no grieving family members to contact, no secrets to reveal.

Kim So Hyun’s ghost is not as quirky as Kim Seul Gi’s virgin ghost in “Oh My Ghostess.” Nor is she as tragic as Ji Hyun’s heartbreaking ghost in SBS’s 2011 drama, “49 Days.” But like both of those ghosts, she has a mission of her own: she needs to revive her memories. And to do so, she only needs to get closer to Taecyeon’s lips. Her past and future depend on the kind of kiss that woke Sleeping Beauty.

So far, “Let’s Fight Ghost” is as fluffy as a dandelion puff and as PG as an after school special, but it’s entertainingly light and silly. The cinematography is quick paced, with a graphic novel feel, and the actors look like they’re having fun. Contributing to the fun are performances by Kim Sang Ho as a has-been exorcist, Lee Do Yeon as a love-obsessed ghost, and Kang Ki Young and David Lee as intrepid ghost hunters and videographers. The tone may change in subsequent episodes, but it’s worth a watch if you are in the mood for an uplifting romcom.

Are you watching this drama? What do you think? Please let us know in the comments below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

5 Things To Know About ‘Uncontrollably Fond’

Uncontrollably Fond

Every few months, there’s a big K-drama that garners a lot of hype either because of the popular actors taking a roll in it or because the plot is something truly innovative. Right now it seems like everybody in the K-drama world is talking about Unaccountably Fond, the new show featuring Kim Woo Bin and miss A’s Suzy. The show premiered yesterday, so before you start watching we have a few things we think you should know.

1. Kim Woo Bin is a Rising Star

Rising? He’s already here according to many die hard Kim Woo Bin fans. But in actuality this is Kim Woo Bin’s first time as the main lead of any Korean drama; he was relegated to the second male lead role in both “The Heirs” and “School 2013.” After years of modeling and impressive roles in film (including my personal favorite “Twenty”), Kim is ready to transform himself into a swoon-worthy K-drama male lead who is set to romance a certain K-pop princess.

2. Suzy is the Reigning Darling of South Korea

The miss A member and actress Suzy (Bae Suji) had a breakout role in the film “Architecture 101” in 2012 and has been in demand ever since. “Uncontrollably Fond” is the fourth drama that Suzy takes front and center in, her first since she partnered with Lee Seung Gi in 2013’s “Gu Family Book.” Suzy has charmed the hearts of many South Korean and international fans of K-pop and K-dramas, and now it’s time to see if she can win over the heart of Kim Woo Bin.

Suzy also released the “Ring My Bell” as part of the soundtrack so make sure to take a listen.

Also on KultScene: Let’s Discuss: Park Yoochun & The Changing Perception Of Leading Men in K-Dramas

3. Writer Lee Kyoung Hee Is A Queen of Melodrama

While “Uncontrollably Fond” appears to be a simple K-drama romance featuring two popular actors, that’s not all there is to it. Lee Kyoung Hee wrote the heart wrenching 2012 drama “The Innocent Man” featuring Song Joong Ki, Moon Chae Won, and Park Si Yeon. If that drama had anything to show for it, it was that the writer had no qualms stomping on the viewers’ hearts and putting characters in difficult positions If this lives up to Lee’s reputation, prepare to keep a tissue box close. Warning:  Be cautious of getting too fond of Kim’s character based on a life-altering issue we find out about in the first episode.

4. Director Park Hyun Suk Loves Spies

While “Uncontrollably Fond” doesn’t appear to be a spy drama, director Park Hyun Suk has a reputation as a bit of a spymaster between 2015’s “Spy” and 2011’s “Perfect Spy.” Does that mean that we want this drama to have spies? Definitely not. That would be altogether too dramatic, even for K-dramas. But it’s just something to keep in mind considering that the show is setting itself up to deal with mistaken identities, terminal illnesses, and who knows what else.

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5. Watch Until the Very End

As far as Korean dramas go, “Uncontrollably Fond” starts a bit slow. But within the last few moments of the first episode, things pick up and set the tone for the rest of the series. This is a spoiler-free list, but let’s just say that you’ll be itching to watch the next episode right away so you can see what past connection the main characters share.

“Uncontrollably Fond” is available on DramaFever, so head over there and check out the first episode.

Are you watching? Are there any other dramas you’re watching right now? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

The Unreality of Reality TV Reaches K-Dramas

k drama korean dramas reality tv

What’s real and what’s not is a big question, but one thing we know for sure is that reality shows are not real. Much of the action is staged, and many of the conflicts are hyper-exaggerated to provoke laughter or tears and generate ratings. Despite this obvious artifice being general knowledge, reality/variety shows continue to be very popular both in the U.S. and Korea.

Reality shows are so popular that they are moving into K-drama. Lately, these shows have even inspired a trend of fictional TV about the making of reality shows.

In the U.S. “Unreal,” a show about the Machiavellian schemes maneuvering a reality show styled on “The Bachelor,” scored big at several award ceremonies, winning honors that included Critic’s Choice Awards and a Peabody. K-dramas have taken the bait too. From the hilarious to the chill-invoking, several K-dramas have tackled the topic of the unreality of reality shows, using the topic to explore the bigger question of how one’s sense of reality is vulnerable. “Wanted” is the latest of these dramas.

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In “Wanted,” an actress is planning to retire and leave her unhappy marriage when her son is kidnapped. The only way she can ensure his survival is to film a reality show with missions doled out by her captors. The husband she is about to leave is the producer of the show.

The plot premise raises plenty of questions about the role of the media in tailoring what viewers think of as reality. Who kidnapped the child? Is the kidnapping real or a publicity stunt? Did her soon-to-be ex kidnap the child to make money? Who can you trust? Should TV shows give criminals the wrong idea by publicizing crime?

The drama, which stars Kim Ah Joong, Uhm Tae Woong and Ji Hyun Woo, has only been on for a few episodes but already plot developments have demonstrated that reality is all a matter of perception and that perception can be manipulated.

It’s not the first time that K-dramas have tackled reality shows from a dark perspective. “The Liar Game,” starring Kim So Eun, Shin Sung Rok, and Lee Sang Yoon, focused on the filming of a psychological survival game wherein participants trick and lie to each other. To win, you had to be a really good and confident liar. What’s real and not real? What’s the truth and what’s a lie? The contestants and reality show participants were often not sure what the truth was and which goals to pursue. If they were honest when they began the game, they lied to survive. The sinister game show drama kept viewers guessing until the very end.

Other K-dramas have tackled the reality show format on a lighter note. In “Eccentric Daughter-In-Law,” a fading K-pop star attempts to revive her image by appearing on a “We Got Married” style reality show. Only the singer, played by Kim Da Som, is paired with more than a prospective husband, played by Ryu Soo Young. She also acquires a prospective mother-in-law, played by Go Doo Shim. It’s a very traditional family and the fading K-pop idol Kim Da Som is not the daughter-in-law that Go Doo Shim’s very critical character was expecting.

“Producers” focused on the variety type of reality show, but there was plenty of staging going on in that drama too. While it mainly focused on the characters who made the program, it provided plenty of glimpses of the off-screen manipulation that goes on when producers film reality/variety shows. The producers, played by Cha Tae Hyun, Gong Hyo Jin, and Kim Soo Hyun, knew that their show needed ratings to survive and they worked hard to make it dramatic, placing characters in difficult situations and pitting them against each other. Called a “variety drama,” it was actually filmed by the variety department at SBS, rather than the drama department.

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“The Greatest Love,” starring Gong Hyo Jin, Cha Seung Won, Yoon Kye Sang, and Yoo In Na, was one of the first to parody a reality show. Also based on the real matchmaking reality show, “We Got Married,” the drama shows that true love can even happen in the unreal world of staged entertainment. That has not been the case with the real “We Got Married,” which has featured real-life couples but has not resulted in matchmaking a lasting relationship.

The reality show is here to stay. Part of the appeal may be seeing people react in real time to unexpected situations. Whether it brings out the worst or the best in participants, it has become a staple in prime time entertainment. Does it work in K-dramas? The viewers will have to decide.

What are your thoughts about the reality TV concept within K-Drama? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.