Life Lessons

I don’t if it’s cause we’re mostly girls or just because dating is probably on most people’s minds, but I feel as though the subject of dating comes up pretty frequently in my Korean class. One chapter was dedicated to our ideal type in potential partners.

Our teacher shared hers. “I don’t like good looking guys,” she said happily. “This way you don’t have to worry about other women wanting them. And skinny guys are too critical of your appearance.”

She described her husband by asking us to imagine Colonel Sanders from KFC. She doesn’t really have photos of him because he doesn’t like getting his picture taken.

Also I’ve been seeing more “No Smoking” signs around campus. I have also seen more people smoking. Often in front of the signs. The ones around Ewha usually say stuff like, “Smoking can cause CANCER and EVICTION”. I personally think they’d be a bit more effective if they took them to further extreme.┬áThere’s this little gem I found in Gangnam’s Dr. Fish bathroom:

After I was done laughing, I asked my friend to snap a picture for me. That’s so yandere


Goong Review

Happy girl meets unhappy guy who becomes a happy guy because of happy girl


Though “To the Beautiful You” was the first drama I ever completed, Goong (which I won’t put in quotation marks) was the first drama I’d ever seen. You always remember your first…haha. I don’t remember how old I was when I first saw it. Probably early high school. For most of my peers, this is normally the drama that got them into dramas in the first place. For at least one celebrity, watching Goong is how they started learning Korean. But because it was so enormously popular, it got taken down before I could complete it. Now many years later, I decided re-watch the whole thing.

Holy turnips it blew me away. Not to say that there weren’t any bad parts, but it left a far greater impression upon me than it had when I’d first seen it. I bet it’s because I just have more hormones now. I feel like I’m better with pros/cons charts, so here you go. And of course, spoilers aplenty.

What I didn’t like:
-Repetitive plots.
How many times does Shin end things with Hyorin for good? How often does Yul confess to Chaegyong? Will they never make up their minds? I mean I can understand since I hear the drama was supposed to be 14 episodes before the popularity pushed it to 24 and they had to find some way to drag it on. But maybe a shorter span would’ve benefited the plot. Perhaps they were trying for realism in a way since letting go is often harder than we need it to be. And I suppose I can’t really complain about their indecisiveness since I myself change my mind about as often as I change my clothes.

-Shin’s big sister. I felt like they could’ve done more with her. She just seemed like some stock character for the smart and pretty noona who conveniently was able to take on the crown. I felt like I was supposed to admire her for being intelligent and all, but I couldn’t bring myself to feel anything more than mild annoyance because she didn’t have any stated flaws.

-Chaegyong’s family. They had their moments, but I just thought that they lacked some serious noonchi. I couldn’t really understand why Chaegyong missed them as much as she did, or why she often called out for her mom in her sleep. The mom didn’t really seem like the coddling type.

-The End. To me the ending was a bit of a puzzler. Why exactly Chaegyong had to leave Korea and for how long wasn’t really clear to me. The totally abrupt ending is somewhat understandable as well since everyone thought a sequel was coming. We were sadly very wrong, but that’s what fanfiction is for. In fact, I found this series because of fanfiction.

What I Liked:
-The Pictures where they imitated the manhwa.

-The Soundtrack. Despite the fact that it sounds kind of Irish at some points, it’s beautiful. I never really realized that the celli had such a warm, round solidity in its tone. I’ll probably try to find the CD while I’m here so I can put it on my iPod. It also wasn’t as jarring as “To the Beautiful You” (comparisons are inevitable) where the mood whip-lashed you more often than it needed to.

-The Clothes. Some of the designs were taken straight out of the manhwa! Some of Chaegyong’s clothes were flat out gorgeous and reminded me a lot of some of the things I’d seen Kate Middleton wearing. Not to mention the lovely and super elaborate hanboks.

-The Love Square. Unlike “To the Beautiful You,” I could actually understand how the characters fell for each other and see sort of when the they did.

I imagine Hyorin finds similarities in Shin since they’re both unhappy with their homes and their lives. I think they could’ve had a shot together, but I’ve found upon past observation that when unhappiness brings two together, it’s often what also pulls them apart. Like the song. Not healthy.

For Yul, he doesn’t really have friends, and he doesn’t seem like he’s had a girlfriend before judging by how his mom reacts when she realizes she’s not first in his life anymore (Their relationship had some rather incestuous undertones to me). He’s also never had a stable life since his dad died, he lost his crown, got kicked out of the country, and to top it off his mother tried to kill herself at least once. Then out comes Chaegyong who’s pretty much the embodiment of affection and stability. No wonder he’s a goner. Though honestly even if he hadn’t had a seriously unhappy childhood, I think he would’ve fallen for her anyway. I think guys like happy girls.

Once Chaegyong remarks to Yul that the only reasons she really had for falling for Shin was because she was lonely, saw him everyday, and she falls for people easily. She could have loved Yul if she’d met him first. I was pretty surprised by this since it’s probably the wisest thing I’ve ever heard a drama character say. I honestly believe that we could can fall in love with anyone if we see them often enough (Mere exposure effect and Stockholm Syndrome). But that’s another post, and probably on a different blog.

Shin’s reasons are probably a combination of both Yul’s and Chaegyoung’s. He doesn’t get much love from home, he sees Chaegyoung all the time, and she’s pretty much hope for a happier life. Down he goes.

-The Friends. Not so much the comic relief friends, but I did appreciate the insight and blunt humor the glasses girl brought.

-The Visuals. Made my eyes happy. I was also pleased to see the Korean style watercolors in their fancy arts high school.

-The Teddy Bears. At the end of every episode, the key scenes were reenacted with Teddy bear pictures. I heard you can see them at the Teddy Bear Museum at Namsan Tower.

In the end, this drama will probably always have a special place in my little stone heart. Exploring Korea definitely helped me to appreciate the drama better since I’ve visited Gyongbukgoong (five minutes away from me by bus) where I think the characters are supposed to live. I was also happy to see Namsan Tower in the backgrounds. It’s kind of comforting for me to see Namsan Tower anywhere I am. At one point they mention that Shin has some activity at U-plex and that’s just a 10-15 minute walk away in Shinchon. Unless there’s another U-plex that I don’t know of.

And watching it was also kind of sad too. Since I learned of the tragic ways the Korean royalty met its end, I kind of wanted to believe that somehow they were still alive. That somehow either Japan never took over, or that Korea might have modernized itself in time. I think maybe if the royalty existed today, I could see it happening the way I saw it in Goong. Beloved figureheads with no actual power trying to keep tradition alive. Maybe if they’d been around today I might’ve been able to spot them on streets walking around the way I sometimes see celebrities.