Be forewarned—spoilers scattered throughout.
A blog can be like a diary. Or if you’re Doonesbury’s Rick Redfern, it’s your non-paying, disrespected gig after being tossed out of the hanging-by-the-skin-of-their-teeth traditional news outlets. Either way, you’re blogging to reach the masses (if not, your posts would be all private, which indeed, some of you may be doing—not me, though).
So in looking at my stats, even though the comments area is still a vast, wasteland yet to be explored, it seems it’s my previous post about Korean drama that gets the most hits, and pretty much one of the few posts where anyone bothers to click outgoing links.
In any case, watching online kDrama is one of my biggest web addictions, so I’m pleased as punch to blog about a new series that tickles my kDrama addiction with no end in sight because it only just started airing in Korea…
So without further ado, I bring you: THE KING OF DRAMAS (this post is writing itself)
. . .
Disclaimer: my previous excitement over ARANG AND THE MAGISTRATE proved to be premature—it started out with a glorious, bright, beautiful bang that about a third of the way through, petered into a hiccup making me sadder by each subsequent, excruciatingly deflated episode. It was definitely watchable but the latter part of it most certainly didn’t match up to the beginning part.
Maybe KING OF DRAMAS will go down that same route, but for now, I am wearing my ear-to-ear silly grin seeing KIM MYUNG MIN (김명민) sparkle like a sharply cut diamond, with his seething, snarling delivery that’s as razor sharp as it was back in the day when he played the sadistic conductor, cut-you-at-the-knees, torturer role in his other starring kDrama, BEETHOVEN’S VIRUS. (Hard to describe his anti-hero charm; you have to see it for yourself.)
. . .
In KING, Myung Min plays the egotistic, arrogant producer, Anthony Kim, of a Korean entertainment production company who eventually must go against a seemingly sweet, mild mannered, assistant writer, Lee Go Eun, played by JUNG RYU WON (정려원), who’s proving to be a pretty good comic actress. She had a hysterical scene in her previous kDrama, HISTORY OF A SALARYMAN, where she’s talking on her cell in a coffee shop and her sweet, innocent face suddenly contorts into a non-stop tirade of coarse, street gutter swearing you usually hear coming from big, tough cops or gangsters (she’s anorexic petite).
. . .
In KING, Go Eun has a job that’s on the lowest level on the totem pole in the entertainment industry. When Go Eun tries to get an extension on a bank loan, the bank employee sneers at her insisting an assistant writer (transliterated as secondary writer) was as good as being jobless doing no more than gopher type tasks.
The beginning of the first episode gives a nice—albeit brief—overview of kDrama segue-waying into an actual shoot in progress (for those of you who know PARK SHIN HYE (박신혜) from YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL (silly fluff), she does a hilarious cameo in a boring scene that has the director snoozing, not to mention the leading guy who’s so bored, he falls asleep while holding Shin Hye dripping drool on her face while she plays dead, a burning car wreck in the background).
. . .
I salivated over the scene between the CEO and his minion about a production’s main screenwriter who, right before the final filming of a series in progress, balks over the ethics of having to write the final scene with a product placement: (the subtitling is not professionally done but I leave it as is since I don’t know Korean, ergo I don’t know the intention of what’s being said)
Anthony Kim (CEO): So how much percent of a probability to miss the broadcasting time?
minion: Well, I’m not so good at math… I majored in Literature, so…
The scene immediately cuts to the crazed screenwriter (not naming her because she has a short role), a 20-year veteran, who gets paid 20 million won per episode. Over the phone, she verbally spars with Anthony, who insists she write in a segment where orange juice in a carton is the drink of choice just before the main star of the drama dies.
In the end, the screenwriter refuses to compromise her integrity as a writer and submits the screenplay of the hero’s death sans the orange juice in a carton.
Without a hint of scruples, Anthony concocts a whopper of a lie on the spot convincing the assistant screenwriter, Go Eun, to revise the crucial death scene adding in the orange juice (that’s helping fund the drama production). To the low-on-the-totem-pole assistant writer, the authoritative figure and demeanor of a very convincing CEO plus the temptation of writing an important scene is too juicy to pass up.
Anthony is a hands on CEO; he changes bits and parts of the scenes as Go Eun feverishly envisions and types out the drama finale on the fly, typing on a laptop in a van en route to the production site, minutes away from the actual “lights, camera, action.” When she questions his direction, Anthony spits out specifics and statistics of the ever important ratings (in kDrama, screenwriters change elements of the plot/script on a daily—if not minute-by-minute—basis to boost ratings) that has the CEO’s majored-in-Literature minion looking up at the ceiling trying to comprehend the math. This is a devilishly delightful turn for JUNG MAN SHIK (정만식) casted here as the bumbling minion when most folks will remember him as the k-pop girl band’s evil manager in THE GREATEST LOVE.
. . .
It’s an adrenalin rush to see screenwriting in action as Go Eun is pushed and pulled by Anthony’s spur of the moment scene changes, the corresponding ripples of change reflected in the hectic, running around like headless chickens of the production crew and actors filming the up-to-the-moment revised scenes while the background music swells with the sounds of church choir music you hear in satanic horror movies.
The brazen absurdity of the hero walking along the beach towards the ocean, waves lapping near his feet, a gun in one hand and a carton of orange juice in the other, is ridiculous yet satisfying.
It’s a wrap.
How the CEO negotiates with an oblivious, earbud plugged, head bopping courier to get the tape into the studios in time for the show’s last broadcast compounds the consistent notion that everyone’s dealings with Anthony is like making a pact with the devil.
By all appearances this is a comedy, but a kDrama is not a kDrama if it doesn’t have its gut wrenching moments. Anthony is not just a devil stand-in, nor is his verbal bile simple excesses of Machiavelli—he shows a hint of a soul that understands human pain although we are not clued into the specifics of it yet.
KING is absolute wicked fun. Whether it will continue to have high caliber writing and acting remains to be seen but the first episode has been a heart pounding rollercoaster ride that leaves a suspicion of trouble brewing for Anthony; whether you hate him or love him, it’s motivation to see more of KING.
Myung Min didn’t get the girl in BEETHOVEN’S VIRUS but neither did the other lead guy, heartthrob JANG GEUN SEOK (장근석 wasn’t the lead in HONG GIL DONG but I liked him best in that kDrama where everybody was rooting for the bromance between Geun Seok as Prince/King and Hong Gil Dong); it didn’t matter because the spectacle of watching Myung Min chewing up the scenery in that gargantuan way of his is more than satisfying.
. . .
Getting the girl may be equally elusive in KING seeing as Super Junior boy-band idol, Choi Si Won (최시원 of ATTACK ON THE PIN-UP BOYS, a super fun movie where the boy-band makes fun of themselves), is set to make his appearance in episode 3, playing himself as a male diva (divo?).
. . .
If Go Eun ends up being Anthony’s eventual love interest (more satisfying since they’re intellectual equals and watching them work together is intense) that’s just icing, if it comes to pass; right now, their tenuous partnership/enmity is enough cake to keep this kDrama addict satisfied.
THE KING OF DRAMAS/[Teaser] The King Of Dramas – Korean Drama 2012, Published on Oct 22, 2012 by Jungryeowon Yoana: A drama about the entertainment business that revolves around the life of Anthony Kim, a brilliant CEO of a drama production company who does everything and anything for money; Lee Go Eun, an aspiring assistant screenwriter; and Kang Hyun Min, the egoistic and arrogant top star of the series Kim produces
BEETHOVEN’S VIRUS/Beethoven Virus Trailer – Korean Drama starred Jang Geun Suk, Kim Myung Min and Lee Ji Ah, Uploaded by Vindy Defansha: Kang Gun Woo is a world renowned orchestra maestro, a perfectionist feared by all his players; his world is changed when he meets first violinist, Du Ru Mi, and a young cop who turns out to be a musical genius without any formal training
HISTORY OF A SALARYMAN/샐러리맨 초한지.wmv, Uploaded by SBSNOW1: One night, Yoo Bang enters a dark, mysterious villa with nothing but a flashlight, only to find an executive of the Chunha Medical Group, Jin Ho Hae, slouched in a chair, dead, and his niece, Yeo Chi hiding behind a curtain; this is a whodunit, whose cast of characters revolve around rival pharmaceutical companies competing for a formula for eternal youth
THE GREATEST LOVE/The Greatest Love – Preview 11, Uploaded by Veronica Fernandez: Ae Jung, once the most popular member of girl-band, The National Treasure Girls, is now blamed for the group’s demise at the peak of their popularity; while trying stay in the entertainment industry, Ae Jung meets up with Dokko Jin, a top movie star at the height of his career, and Yoon Pil Joo, a popular oriental medicine doctor who is persuaded to do a dating show—both men fall for Ae Jung, on and off screen
YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL/You’re Beautiful – funny clips, Uploaded by LittleAnny94: The management company of boy-band, A.N.JELL, adds a new singer, Go Mi Nam, to the group as lead vocalist but just before signing the contract, he goes missing; his agent persuades Mi Nam’s twin sister, nun-in-training, Mi Nyu, to stand in for her brother until he is found; initially an outcast by the band’s original members, they each end up falling for Mi Nyu as Mi Nam, the guy
HONG GIL DONG/Hong Gil Dong DVD teaser (Jap Ver), Uploaded by coogoocoogoo: Hong Gil Dong, the illegitimate son of a high ranked minister, fights against the injustice that divides people into the upper and lower classes of nobility and ordinary citizens; Gil Dong encounters free spirited Heo Yi Nok, who makes a living on the streets, and Lee Chang Hwi, rightful heir to the throne usurped by his half brother, and the three are entangled in love, hate, loyalty and betrayal where only one side can win
ATTACK ON THE PIN-UP BOYS/Uploaded by mimzZ89: High school flower boys (heartthrobs or pretty boys) are the target of poop attacks; student Kibum decides to investigate the matter, covering the attacks on his blog which becomes a hot topic at one high school, causing the next potential victims: Siwon, president of the student body, Heechul, president of the dance club, and Kangin, the captain of the Judo Team, to vie for the prestigious poop windfall
00 – introduction
01 – pick your ePoison
02 – plug in or be obsolete
03 – eJunk in the trunk
04.1 – once upon a time in YouTube/episode 1: IN THE BEGINNING
04.2 – once upon a time in YouTube/episode 2: STRANGE MISSILES
04.3 – once upon a time in YouTube/episode 3: HUNGER
04.4a – once upon a time in YouTube/episode 4a: ANOTHER DIMENSION
04.4b – once upon a time in YouTube/episode 4b: SPOTTED!
04.5a – once upon a time in YouTube/episode 5a: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS
04.5b – once upon a time in YouTube/episode 5b: SEE WHAT I SEE?
04.6a – once upon a time in YouTube/episode 6a: DARKNESS
04.6b – once upon a time in YouTube/episode 6b: LIFE AND DEATH
04.7a – once upon a time in YouTube/episode 7a: LIFE IS SUFFERING
04.7b – once upon a time in YouTube/episode 7b: FREE WILL
04.8 – once upon a time in YouTube/episode 8: LAY IT ALL OUT/FINALE
05 – kDrama: Arang and the Magistrate/Reply 1997/The Great Doctor
06 – jDorama: Iki mo Dekinai Natsu
07 – the evil that lurks behind the web curtain
08 – back to the future: The King of Dramas 드라마의 제왕
09 – of turkey and vampires: Let the Right One In vs Twilight