Kdrama Cliches


This is a different article from what I used to write. There is no research needed this time because this is all about what I learned throughout the past 10 years watching Kdramas. 

If you are an avid fan of Kdrama like me, you probably noticed these patterns in Kdrama.

1. The White Truck of Doom 

When someone dies in an accident in Kdrama, it is amazing how one truck seems to be the cause all the time. Whether the driver was drunk, it was a planned accident, or simply an unfortunate incident, this truck is just a truck of Doom. It is the source of many memes online to the point that it is starting to affect the seriousness of accident scenes for me. ๐Ÿ˜ธ

2. She Tripped So We Hugged and Kissed

Romcoms have these patterns that you can't miss, including back hugs, love triangles, handsome childhood sweetheart comeback, etc. The one pattern you know will happen at the start of a relationship is the trip and hug scenario. She tripped, so to prevent her from falling, we hugged! Or he tripped, then .. Drumroll .. we kissed. 

3. Fevers are Serious!!

When the male lead or the female lead is sick, they usually faint from fevers all the time. It is like fevers exist to send the female lead to the male lead's house. Apparently, fever reduction medicines are not something you can get yourself; your lover needs to get them! 

4. Dirt-Poor With an Expensive Handphone 

The rich man, poor woman scenario is one of the most popular Kdrama scenarios that helped the Hallyu wave start. One of the most popular cliches in this scenario is the handphone the poor woman usually carries. Apparently, you can be dirt poor yet a picky tech nerd with the latest Samsung model. 

5. Product Placement 

It is not a cliche but a fact all Kdrama fans are aware of. Suddenly, the female lead is wearing perfume in the middle of the events, and the camera stays on the brand name for a few seconds. It seems like something you could miss, but then again, you won't if it keeps happening. Nowadays, product placement is not obvious as before; however, there was a time where you could notice an ad in the middle of the drama all of a sudden. 

6. Drink All You Want! You are Getting Piggybacked Home!

Even getting drunk can be romantic in Kdramas! You are not a mess when drunk, you are actually cuter, and now it is time for you to get on the lead's back. Enjoy a piggyback ride home, sweetheart, and maybe you can confess on the way. 

Now, you know all the Kdrama cliches I know of. Do you have anything else in mind? Type a Kdrama cliche you always see below and let's start a conversation together. 


 Probably the fastest binge ever in my own history of binge-watching. Move To Heaven is a short 10 episode drama produced by Netflix, especially for Kdrama lovers. It explores life and death through the story of the workers at Move To Heaven trauma cleaning agency. From Lee Je Hoon to the newly discovered Tang Joon-Sang, the cast for this drama is more than top-notch. 


Move to heaven Kdrama


Trauma Cleaning 

Ever heard of trauma cleaning? Personally, I have never heard nor even thought about them. It is weird, they say, "away from the eyes, away from the mind." It is totally true in this case. I have even written about unconventional careers before for a job; surprisingly, this job was not even mentioned anywhere. It is like the whole industry of crime scene cleaning is not exactly recognized by people. After reading a few articles about a trauma cleaner's job, it is a job that requires handling chemical materials that remove the worst type of contamination you can think of. Certainly, a job that requires real expertise!!

One scene in this drama shows Geu Ru explaining to his uncle that people don't like anything associated with death; therefore, they always ask them to hurry up and move the car away from the eyes. Certainly, it is humans nature to avoid death and anything related to it. Admitting that unfortunate incidents happened around you is admitting that the same thing might happen to you. It is a thought that passes through our minds briefly before we shake it off and go on with our lives. This drama challenges this thought. It also showcases how even the jobs that might seem scary to many of us are, in fact, rewarding and helpful to many people. 

 The real job of a trauma cleaner is to clean and empty the deceased's space. Of course, elements like venturing through the life of a deceased to send their messages to their loved ones are exaggerated for impact's sake; however, it is true that while cleaning you are bound to know more than you would like sometimes. 

What to Expect?

Trauma cleaning is not the only focus of this drama though, it is the backstory of the dead that moves the audience. I have had to shed enough tears for an ocean while watching this drama. We had natural deaths, murders, suicide, and accidents throughout the ten episodes - people sure die for many reasons!!

Watching the emotional rollercoaster that the characters have to go through after every case seriously helped open my eyes to the struggles that humans face. Additionally, the writer didn't forget to add backstories for the main characters, and they were well explored for sure. Tied to an event or a new case of some sort, the characters' background were revealed bit by bit the longer they spent together. Gu-Ru and Sang-gu had more in common than I thought. Both had a sad past of sorts, and Sang-gu had humane values that he always tried to mask by acting tough. 

It was also fascinating how the show starts with the father's death and ends with his trauma cleaning ceremony as a way for Guru to move forward. It was a brilliant way to end an arc of Guru's life and Move to Heaven's life. 

Season 2? Yes or No?

Move to Heaven


While the series was wrapped beautifully, given the setting of this show, more seasons won't be frowned upon. People won't stop dying, and 10 more tearjerkers won't cause any harm to this masterpiece. In fact, it will help it. Also, Guru and Namu are a good couple to explore! Namu didn't have that much development during the show, so maybe exploring her character might set a path for further content. Sang Gu is now a free man, but he also showed interest in that volunteer and civil servant; it is worth a try, right? 


If you follow me on Twitter, you would know that Vincenzo is one of the few dramas I followed weekly till its final episode recently. I was very happy and satisfied with how things were developing in this drama - until a certain point, that is!!!



Why I loved Vincenzo!


Vincenzo is a story about a consigliere who leaves Italy after the head of the family dies and goes to Korea to start a war again evil ๐Ÿ˜…. While I am not familiar with how well the drama showcases the mafia, it is a fact that Song Joong Ki put a lot of effort in this role. According to reviews, his Italian is very good, and he definitely tried to mimic Italian body language even if he was not always successful. 

Vincenzo starts as a well-balanced show with quirky characters and fun interactions between Vincenzo and the tenants of Guemga Plaza, and serious altercations between Vincenzo and Ok Taecyeon - Aka. Evil Guy - Aka. Jang Junu.

 The main genre of the show is dark comedy; however, it definitely didn't set the tone for the level of darkness to come. Vincenzo starts with only hints at how the rich control society and people's lives; scenes showcasing murders followed by comic dances and celebrations are the only hints at dark comedy during the first few episodes of the show. Don't let that deceive you, though! This show gets as dark as it could be and as sarcastic as a dark comedy could be. 

If you think you will get a thrilling revenge story only out of this, think again! This show is simply a big LOL game between the Geumga Plaza team and the Babel team. The loser loses all!

The show plays a game with the viewer, whereas you get a glimpse of how good Vincenzo is throughout the first half and only gets the bloody truth at the end. 

Vincenzo is vicious, canny, unforgiving, smart and sarcastically, a good leader?? He is as contradictory as the next person, which makes him both appealing and appalling. Ironically, elements of dark comedy are present in how people handle Vincezo mainly, not the other side who acts and behaves like typical evil people. The female lead was totally fine with drowning a group of assassins. The Geumga Plaza team was totally fine with a human exploding as a warning to the evil people. Even the intelligence agency was totally fine with a mafia handling country secrets and playing with people lives. 

Why I hated Vincenzo!

So far, it might seem like Vincenzo simply followed its theme throughout the series, which means I should be happy with it, right? .. Wrong! While I was very happy till the final couple of episodes in Vincenzo, the final episode totally changed my perspective. Despite Vincenzo's extreme criminal behaviour, I did expect a happy ending for the drama. The writer was obviously aiming at keeping us on Vincenzo's team throughout the series, so a happy ending was expected. Additionally, an ending where Vincenzo kills the other side was hinted at throughout the final half; therefore, even that was expected.

 What was the issue, though??! The writer took it too far during the final revenge. Don't get me wrong, it was obvious Vincenzo had killed many, many people throughout his life by the end of the series. However, how sadistic he could be was certainly not well explained until the final episode. Cruel and inhumane are not enough to explain how Vincenzo killed his enemies. As a viewer, the final episode took a turn that I was not ready for nor willing to accept. It was expected that Jang Junu will definitely meet his demise; however, was literally screwing him a good idea to end a series that obviously needed to end with people still in love with Vincenzo?

For me, it wasn't! It definitely added the series to my blacklist faster than I thought. Maybe the irony of how easy it is to kiss after massacring people was what the writer aimed for!! It definitely didn't sit well with me, dark comedy or not!


Overall, Vincenzo gave me satisfaction for few weeks; however, it will stay in a corner in my watchlist that I never expected to add it to. The corner of " Never Watching Again" right next to School Days, if you know that anime๐Ÿ˜….
I seriously need to write a list of unpopular Kdramas for 2020. I keep discovering new gems that I should have watched last year. 

Team Bulldog Off-Duty Investigation


Team Bulldog Korean Drama

Team Bulldog: Off-Duty Investigation
This is a 12-episode short series starring Cha Tae Hyun and Lee Sun Bin as the main characters alongside multiple first-rate supporting actors. I especially loved Jung Sang-hoon in here. I always saw him in comedic roles and he was fun to watch but I wanted to see him in a serious role once. 

Team Bulldog Off-Duty Investigation Review

Team Bulldog is a mystery drama with quirky characters, fun investigations, disgusting murderers, and interesting reporters. You get the whole package in just 12 episodes in this drama. A group of misfits try to solve mysteries that the police themselves cannot solve. With one member a real detective, they are not a totally illegitimate group; therefore, they have access to crime scenes and police resources when needed. The group itself includes a former forensic pathologist, a former profiler/detective, a former gangster and a reporter, such a great variety!!!

Anyway, the cases that the team handles are mostly murder and violent cases. Although there are no rape cases or anything similar, the cases themselves are very violent. Seeing the previous description of the story, you might think it is a light mystery story; however, don't forget this is still an OCN drama. I made a mistake when I read the synopsis, then with the first murder case, I saw how realistic they filmed the murder and realised what I started. ^_^

Anyway, this serious mainly discusses the following cases *Spoilers Ahead*:

1. The Case With The Twin 
2. The Case With The Runaway Serial Murderer 
3. The Case With The Gang History 
4. The Case With The Homeless Kids
5. The Case With The 10 Years Old Murder
6. The Case With the Closed Rooms
7. The Manhole Case

The previous names are not the original names of the episodes, I simply wanted to give new names to each case. Regardless, except the twin case, most cases relate to each other in a way that is very surprising, The serial murderer case was fabricated to give a political figure power and help gang members rise in society. The homeless kids started with the manhole case. Finally, the 10 years old murder was witnessed by the closed rooms murderer. The writer sure knew how to make a smooth transition from one case to another. 

Memorable Scenes

This drama had too many memorable scenes that I can't count; however, if I have to choose two scenes stand out to me. 
  • The first scene is the one where the forensics doctor frantically searches for his daughter. I didn't know Jung Sang-hoon could act so well as the father of a teenager. It is such a perfect scene!!!
  • The second scene is the scene where the old couple's true colour is finally seen. The elder couple where such good actors that I was mesmerized. 
Finally, it is time to move to the overall rating. It is 9/10 for me for this drama. I would love to get the chance to see a second season for this. 


Love Me If You Dare Chinese Drama

Been a while since my last Chinese drama review, Love Me If You Dare is a Chinese mystery drama starring Wang Kai, Wallace Huo, and Ma Sichun. The first thing I noticed about the actors is the uncanny resemblance between Ma Sichun and Kim Hyun-Joo, the famous Korean actress. Just to show you, here they are together. 


Kim Hyun Joo


Ma Sichun


Who is who? I will let you guess!!

What is the Story of Love Me If you Dare Chinese Drama?


Now to move along, I started this show based on a Twitter recommendation, and it was indeed well-recommended. The show discusses the life of a genius profiler and crime psychology professor who is able to deduct and find the most dangerous criminals ever; he even collaborated with the FBI, CIA and so on. Said genius starts to solve a series of crimes with the help of an assistant he somehow got interested in. All the crimes led him to the identity of his mortal enemy of sorts, a smart stalker like no other. This is a drama that combines thriller, mystery, action and romance together.  

Where to Watch This Drama?

Viki is the ideal place to watch this drama as the episodes are all available subbed in more than 30 languages.

Love Me If You Dare Chinese Drama Review

Cons of the Drama

Storyline

The first half of the drama was brilliantly written with a gutsy female lead who is shown as smart, slightly outspoken and way more social than the male lead. She literally completes the male lead! The same female lead thought changes into a background character half-way through the drama once the focus shift more and more towards the big evil guy.  The outspoken part of her character disappears halfway through the drama, which was a serious turn off for me. Additionally, the writer went overboard with the concept of the big evil guy. Having one henchman for the Flower Cannibal Murderer is enough but having 3 is really irritating and not the best way to end a series that started really well. Honestly, I would have loved it if they'd stopped at 16 episodes for this one. 

Dubbing and Acting Issue

This is my second time witnessing this issue after Best Lover drama, although this time it is not a Netflix mistake. In fact, I was very happy when I noticed this was one of the few Chinese dramas not dubbed like many others, which means the actors and their actions were not overacted by an irritating high-pitch voice. However, I believe the drama took the no dubbing rule way too far with this one, especially when they decided that it is ok to move the drama over to the US and have the cast speak both Mandarin and English at the same time and understand each other perfectly. 

 I have to admit when it first happened over a video call, I simply thought Jian Yao and the FBI agent understand each other because they worked together and she understands Chinese. However, when suddenly even the doctor in the hospital responded in English in the middle of a Chinese conversation, I simply wanted to shut his mouth. 

Another major let down was the English cast as well. If you intend to give them a huge role, make sure they can act, the female FBI agent was just super flirty most of the time even during situations where her tone should be threatening, I was literally rolling my eyes. 

Pros of the Drama

I feel like I have talked too much about the cons of the drama and ignored the pros, which are also a lot.

1. Direction

The drama handles very heavy issues like murder, torture and suicide, so it is not easy to watch; however, it was brilliantly directed to only show the minimum of these harmful scenes to complete the story. While you get a look at an explosion once or twice, you don't get a detailed look at the corpse, torture scenes are also filmed from an angle that does not show much bleeding at least at first. The second half of the drama did take a drastic change in terms of direction as the story got more and more violent, so the director had to show more than just simple scenes. Still, overall, it was not as heavy as it could have been if filmed another way. 

2. Acting and Storyline

The Chinese cast acted brilliantly; therefore, the first half of the drama when it was just them is really enjoyable, and you get a rather quirky feel thanks to Andry, the AI car. Moreover, the storyline, in the beginning, was solid. The chemistry between the actors was very obvious, and the way they solved mysteries was fun, 

Finally, the handsome main lead and pretty actress add to the charm of the drama if you are looking for a manga-like drama. The drama sure has that feeling of Kindaichi Jikenbo, Conan or well mystery mangas in general. 









Korean dramas in 2020 were really top-notch. Despite finishing my fair share of dramas, I am still discovering new gems till now in January. Hot Stove League is one of the dramas I didn't think I would like because I literally know nothing about Baseball. In fact, I am "sports illiterate" in general. However, this is one show that could count as educational, entertaining, and even non-romantic.


Hot Stove League

Hot Stove League


Still, before starting the drama, it is better if you are not familiar with the rules of baseball to at least read an article before the beginning of this drama. It is not a drama about a high school team, therefore, you won't start the drama with an introduction to the rules of the game. In fact, one of the first meetings in the show included terminologies like WAR (Wins Above Replacements), batting average, etc. Therefore, I recommend you read the following articles before you start. 


The drama has scenes and terminologies that might not be understandable even after reading these articles so keep that in mind. Still, minimal knowledge is better than nothing at all.

Drama Synopsis

Hot Stove League Starring Nam Gong Min is a drama about a last-place baseball team struggling to keep things intact. The team gets a new general manager who decides to restructure everything from the ground up again. He analyses all the weak points of the team and slowly but surely changes things for a better tomorrow.

Actors and Cast 

This drama has one of the best casts I ever saw in one drama together. Starting Nam Gong Min to Park Eun Bin, the cast of this drama is very diverse and it is obvious the director paid attention to his choices for even the smallest characters.

For a sports drama to succeed, you need actors that are able to show all aspects of their characters in one single episode, and that is shown easily in this drama. All players and their struggles can be seen through one episode and sometimes only a couple of scenes in an episode. Players like "Lim Dong Gyu" played by Jo Han-sun were fully explored in one episode or two and they left an impact that was big enough to remember them once they appeared again in the series. 

Writing

The writing of this drama is really one of its strong points, however, it is also one of its weak points. While the writer obviously did a lot of research in terms of baseball terminologies, team management, player trades, baseball rules, and even promotions, the writer focused so much on these things that he/she fell short in other parts. *Spoilers ahead*

The main reason for all the team struggles is simply non-existent in the show. The main company wants the team to disband, however, instead of making use of the failure in the first scene of the drama to simply disband the team that is already at rock bottom, the company decides to go forward with a fair general manager recruitment process and hinders every step said manager takes to improve the team. It is such a roundabout way to kill a dead cat already. Especially since in the end despite the team successfully winning over one of the top teams in a practice match and even earning more promotion money, the company simply held a press conference to announce the team is disbanded because of its bad results that were months ago at that point.

Drama FAQ

What is the Meaning of " Hot Stove League"? 

One of the many questions that popped in my mind while watching the drama is whether even the name is related to the terminologies of the sport. I did short research and sure enough, it is a term used in the baseball community to describe the off-season time where most of the player trades, promotions and planning stages take place. Seeing that the drama was named after the period it takes place in really increases my respect for the writer. 

Where to Watch "Hot Stove League"?

Netflix is my preferred place for this one, however, surprisingly it is actually available on SBS world channel for free. So no need to even pay to watch this one legally. Simply visit SBS channel. Check Viki as well. It is available over there.