Saturday, 31 March 2012

'The King 2 Hearts' and 'Rooftop Prince'

The King 2 Hearts
And so with the demise of 'The Moon That Embraces The Sun' 2 weeks ago I was left feeling lost and saddened upon the fact that I would be unable to see Hwon (Kim SooHyun) and YangMyung (Jung IlWoo) on my laptop screen again. I will dearly miss them.
Especially the eunuch with a Chopper-like grin, HyungSun. The comic relief and pistachio to the drama.

However, it's sucessor, 'The King 2 Hearts' (however it is spelt), having been featured on EpDrama's video player countless times before I viewed the last few episodes of TMTETS caught my interest, for it had appeared that Ha JiWon and Lee SeungGi (I thought it was Song JoongKi at first because of the angle) would be playing the lead roles.
BAM.
Instant interest.
Having loved Ha JiWon from 'Secret Garden' and Lee SeungGi in 'My Girlfriend is a Gumiho' I was intrigued as to how this pairing will fare in a drama. I guess you could say I'm a bit of a HyunBin and JiWon shipper after 'Secret Garden', hah.



I found myself furthermore intrigued after watching the preview teaser to the series. Romance that could spark between a North Korean and a South Korea in what appeared to be a military base. I have yet to stumble across this in any dramas yet - well the ones I've watched.
What really hooked me was the concept of including North Korean characters in the drama, especially as a part of the main cast.
Keep in mind that I have very little knowledge on how South Koreans will react to this drama for I am not a South Korean nor do I have any knowledge on the dominant ideologies of South Korea.
Personally I thought this may have potentially angered a handful of people, be it North and/or South Koreans. To further explain, the potential romance between a North and South Korean could be deemed as betrayal or unsightly. And also the portrayal and presentation of North Koreans and North Korean interior design could irk North Koreans. JaeHa who consistently mocks the North Koreans could add oil to the already burning flames.
But the first two explanations were just my thoughts of the moment, don't take it seriously. I think about a lot of things, but it doesn't mean I follow through with all of them. Of course society isn't as narrow minded these days, and how are North Koreans able to access such media? However, these are still possibilities that could occur in a small scale, say a handful of close minded people within society.

But
getting back to the point, I found this type of juxtoposition (North and South) to be unique and challenging compared to other cliched pairings out there in the Korean drama sphere.
Nevertheless, despite the challenging feature to the pairing, Lee SeungGi's character (JaeHa) being of a higher status (King) in the pair as well as a douchebag is relative to the rich, uncaring, douchebaggy male leads of typical dramas. For example, 'Goong', 'Coffee Prince' and 'Lie To Me'. We have a cold prince and a commoner, lazy son sponging off his rich family and a dirt poor girl scrounging for money every day, and a hotel CEO matched with an average government employee.
Yet, such extreme oppositions are necessary if we were to follow Barthes' theory of 'binary opposites' and Hall's belief that 'difference is significant'. We need such extreme polar oppositions in order to create solid meaning, which is true but can be annoying.

But such things should be discussed another day...in another post...or on another blog...*ahem*

Back to the drama.

I went off to scrounge for more information on this intrguing drama before it had aired. On one particular site (Dramabeans perhaps) the writer had noted that the script writers of 'The King 2 Hearts' were somewhat notorious for their dragged out plotlines. What a turn off.
And thus my expecations lowered for this drama and I began to seek out Rooftop Prince - since my ultimate bias is the male lead.

However, in the end I fell in love with this drama. It has dark humour slapped all over it. A psycho villain - for the first time ever I actually feared a K-drama baddie. Serious politics that wouldn't bore me. AND I find Ha JiWon's North Korean accent adorable!
Perhaps it was because my expectations lowered for this drama hence why I was quickly able to accept it as my replacement for TMTETS.

Yet, there is potential for this drama to eventually reach to a point where the plotline will drag. So far I have watched three episodes, all of which had so much substance that I was left craving for more after each episode. Maybe it's because I'm not the script writer, but I can't possibly find this drama to be any more entertaining after episode 10.
I have read the character profiles that MBC had (perhaps) stupidly released, now I have a strong feeling that I know what will happen either next week or the week after. And because of that event things may begin to slow down.
This is a belief that I'm hoping not to follow through with. I do have a few ideas in mind as to how the series would be able to maintain pace and interest, it involves the heavy reliance of action - very much like 'City Hunter'.

Overall I do recommend this drama, it's too early to say that it would flop.

Rooftop Prince

Originally I had planned to watch both 'Rooftop Prince' and 'The King 2 Hearts'. Unfortunately the former disappointed me.

The drama appeared low budget, maybe it's because I was still in awe with TMTETS's lavish Joseon setting, but everything appeared plain and boring, including the colour treatment which was dulled to the point like I was watching a 90s historical TVB drama. Unappealing to the eye is what I'm trying to say. This is also applicable to the scene when YooChun's modern character was in New York...Mother of God. Words cannot describe my disappointment.

Not only was the editting and setting terrible but the English too. I was cringing, just like when I watched the first couple of seconds of Boyfriend's 'Boyfriend' MV *shudder*.
True, it's not like the actress is fluent in English in the first place, but at least dub her voice over with an English speaker or tell her to practice to the point that it wouldn't sound...strange and out of place.
I was also irked with the foreigner's perfomances in the drama, it was awful. It can be somewhat forgiveable if they were picked up from the streets with no experience, but really, surely the production team were able to snag one who had some acting skills and put them in the drama as the American friend of the lead actress. At least do that. Or was their budget too low to even hire one?

Another reason, perhaps crude, is that I dislike the actress (Han JiMin). No, the reason is definitely not because she's paired with my ultimate bias YooChun and that I hate any woman who kisses him. I had no problems with MinYoung when she played the love interest of YooChun's character in 'SungKyunKwan Scandal'. Perhaps it's because she killed my first impression of her when she spoke in terrible English. But I feel that her acting is a bit...mellow. Maybe it's simply just her character. Who knows. I haven't seen her in any other drama before. But her acting reminds me of a..."ba ja por" - Cantonese term describing a woman who's loud and overexaggerates...Her actions feel a bit abrupt and unnatural.
However, I felt the same when I first watched Jung IlWoo in 'Flower Boy Ramyun Shop'. I questioned Jung IlWoo's acting as it appeared exaggerated and over the top. Only to realise, after watching TMTETS, it is most likely due to his character and the genre of the drama being a comedy. Thus this is applicable to JiMin, 'Rooftop Prince' is a comedy, her character must be exaggerated and OTT.

The whole past and present intertwining with each other concept became complicated when they presented modern day YooChun floating the water with the drowned princess of the past. The main problem lies on the drowned princess. Initially I thought it would have been JiMin's character who drowned since prince YooChun seemed to have developed a thing for sister-in-law JiMin, and that her drowning may have happened after a few years when the princess was somehow divorced and so prince YooChun married JiMin. I believed this simply because it appeared that YooChun should be paired with JiMin, hence why YooChun should be more distraught over her death than the princess. But now that I think about it, it's logical that YooChun would be distraught over his pretty princess's death over an 'ugly' princess's death.
But hey, beats me. This twist may be confusing but provides plot for later episodes to unravel it all out.
Unfortunately I'm still a bit irked over modern day YooChun being drowned. I feel unsatisfied and unsettled as to how the plot would unfold without modern day YooChun - I had assumed that he would be transported back in time to the Joseon era, but alas no.
How is the gang going to find out who drowned the princess in the modern era?
Will the gang ever return to the Joseon era?
What are the consequences of the gang being missing from the Joseon era and running around in the modern era?
What are they going to do about the modern day YooChun and drowned princess?
Why are they presented as if they are somewhat tied?
What's the significance of it all?
This drama is going to have to answer a lot of questions for me. And I really can't see how they're going to answer it all without confusing me whilst trying to maintain a steady flow.
What happened to simple is best? I expected a simple fantasy romcom drama, not necessarily linear in terms of plot but with twists that are easy to follow. The additional dashes of 'time space continuum' and 'who dunnit' mixed together further complicates the series.

If I were to give some praise to this drama is it's comedic elements.
Lee MinHo (the younger one) and Do ChiSan's characters are perky and interesting.
The concept of bringing a gang of people from the old era into the new is bound to produce a lot of hilarious situations, and this drama dishes it all up.
Maybe I'll give it another chance whenever I feel like wanting to ROFL over something.

Overall, I still have very little interest in Rooftop Price. The plotline did sound appealing, but it was a disappointment and overcomplicated, thus making it intimidating to watch. It's not like I had high expectations of it in the first place.
The only thing sustaining my interest are its comedic elements.

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