Entertainment

How Recent K-Dramas Are Defying The Stereotypical Narrative

8 Feb 2019 by Jasmine Ong

It is no secret that the recipe to success for most Korean dramas is often the star-studded cast and fairytale-esque storyline that help viewers envision the perfect romance. Told with characters that usually meet in unlikely but predictable situations, these plots somehow always end up similar to one another – where the main couple has to jump hurdles such as difference in social status, family disapproval or jealous exes, to secure their happy ending.

However, in recent years, these small-screen treats have started to push the envelope in creating content that doesn’t just satisfy the average K-aficionado; but also help to modify the stereotype that has stuck with the genre. Instead of the usual dosage of romance, show writers are demonstrating a willingness to mix up their plots through tackling various existent issues that continue to plague society today, but are hardly talked about.

From tackling tough societal issues to the deep-rooted stigma of mental illness, our beloved guilty pleasure has steadily evolved to become something more than just sheer scripted entertainment. To give you a better understanding of how this emerging trend has revolutionised the drama-verse for the better, we’ve compiled a list of six K-dramas that are challenging the conventional and spearheading change – one episode at a time.

Clean With Passion For Now

Clean With Passion For Now

Having mysophobia (a fear of germs) can often make a person’s life difficult, even more so when it’s paired with an obsessive compulsive disorder. This can lead to one getting stuck in a cycle of extreme anxiety stemming from irrational thoughts of contamination, amongst other complications.

Despite suffering from this double whammy, Jang Sun Kyul (Yoon Kyun Sang) views his traits positively and turns his unintentional quirks into a strength which he uses to start his own cleaning company. Despite being conscientious with all aspects of his life, he undoubtedly catches feelings for the ostensibly unhygienic new female recruit of his cleaning crew (Kim Yoo Jung), which pushes him out of his comfort zone in an attempt to be normal.

Described as a light-hearted romantic comedy, Clean With Passion For Now delves deep into the personal struggles of how Sun Kyul deals with OCD while giving us an insight of how he grapples with society and his family’s perception of his condition. Though the community may be more tolerant and accepting today, the older generation is still rather resistant in accepting the diagnosis as they regard this as something you can get over with sheer willpower. Nevertheless, it is inspiring to see how Sun Kyul uses his hidden afflictions to motivate himself to overcome his difficulties.

Clean With Passion For Now is available on Viu and Viki.

It’s Okay, That’s Love

It's Okay That's Love

What do you get when you put two successful and strong personalities under one roof? A complicated love story between a best-selling mystery author (Jo In Sung) and an ambitious psychiatrist (Gong Hyo Jin) – one that is riddled with issues arising from their own mental health issues.

As probably one of few Korean dramas that feature main characters plagued with mental illnesses, It’s Okay, That’s Love doesn’t shy away from exploring how they cope with their symptoms and the effects their conditions have on their daily lives. From the often destructive Schizophrenia to the incurable Tourette’s Syndrome, this melodrama attempts to shatter society’s perceptions of mental illness as a whole by shedding a positive light on individuals who suffer from such invisible conditions. Striving to create an open conversation with its imperfect characters, viewers are given a better understanding of this seemingly taboo subject that should encourage discussion and acceptance, instead of isolation and ignorance.

It’s Okay, That’s Love is available on Netflix and Viu.

My ID Is Gangnam Beauty

My ID Is Gangnam Beauty

They often say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But when you live in a society that already has a preconceived definition of what beauty is, it’s difficult not to find ways to conform to those standards. Due to her previously unattractive appearance, Kang Mi Rae (Im Soo Hyang) decides to get plastic surgery in order to escape being bullied in college. However, her new look causes her to be labelled as a ‘Gangnam Beauty’ – a derogatory term for someone who has undergone a number of plastic surgeries to look pretty. Little does she know that a person’s outlook isn’t all that matters, especially when it concerns her former high school classmate played by the dashing Cha Eun Woo.

Although My ID Is Gangnam Beauty does come across as one of those common romantic dramas, the plot deals largely with the brutal reality of Korea’s unrealistic beauty standards and its undeniable relation to plastic surgery. Though seen as a rather touchy subject, it is something that women still receive judgement for despite having to act on the idea out of societal pressures.

Aside from wanting to alter her outlook for the better, the drama also touches on insecurities that Mi Rae possesses which is the driving force behind her actions. Her longtime struggle with being bullied unfortunately ruined her self-esteem, inadvertently forcing her to believe in society’s standard of a good-looking person. In spite of the changes in Mi Rae’s physical appearance, it’s heartening to see that it conveys a positive message in self-acceptance as the key takeaway. 

My ID Is Gangnam Beauty is available on NetflixViu and Viki.

SKY Castle

SKY Castle

If you thought the Singaporean education system was the toughest out there, think again. Crowned as the current reigning Korean drama with a record-breaking viewership in cable network history, SKY Castle revolves around four elite families that live in a luxurious residential estate, and the lengths these parents go to in order to secure a bright future for their children.

Steering away from the typical romantic vein of K-dramas, this gripping series resonates with today’s society where academic performance is pivotal in defining the path an individual takes in life. Playing on the acronym of South Korea’s top three prestigious universities – Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University – SKY Castle aims to give an unflinchingly honest look at the pressures of its cutthroat education system.

Aside from casting a spotlight on the topic of education, it also makes an attempt to remind parents on the importance of loving a child for who they are, and not their accomplishments. Their goal is to emphasise the role that parents play in their children’s lives as pillars of support, rather then objects of anxiety amidst the high-pressured scholastic environment – and judging from its skyrocketing viewership, SKY Castle has achieved just that. 

SKY Castle is available on Viu and Viki.

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon

As its name suggests, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon tells the story of a seemingly petite girl named Do Bong Soon (Park Bo Young) who is born with hereditary superhuman strength that is only passed down to the women in her family. Despite the amazing gift she’s been given, she finds her ability a burden and often tries to hide it. But when a series of kidnapping cases threaten the safety of her neighbourhood, she is determined to use her strength for good and catch the culprit before it’s too late.

In spite of the comedic moments, it also subtly discusses the overarching social issue that Bong Soon and almost every woman struggles with in this day and age. In a world where a patriarchal society has already identified how we should act and behave, it is easy to undermine the incredible strengths and abilities of a female when they don’t conform to the established mould of society. In Bong Soon’s case, her innate superhuman strength leads her to believe that this is an unattractive trait to have, and that she should keep it hidden in order to win the affection of her longtime crush Ahn Min Hyuk (Park Hyung Sik).

Unbeknownst to her, Bong Soon’s unconventional characteristics were what attracted Min Hyuk to her in the first place. His non-judgemental fascination and unwavering love for her demonstrates why we shouldn’t let society dictate the way we view others. Instead, we should empower one another to embrace our one-of-a-kind qualities – because that’s what makes us extraordinary.

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon is available on NetflixViu and Viki.

The Beauty Inside

The Beauty Inside

How would you feel if you had to live with a different appearance for a week out of every month? That’s what happens to Han Se Gye (Seo Hyun Jin), a popular actress who appears to live a mysterious life but actually suffers from this unusual phenomenon. Through a chance meeting, she meets Seo Do Jae (Lee Min Ki), who may look perfect in every way but is plagued with prosopagnosia, which renders him unable to recognise faces.

On the surface, The Beauty Inside looks very much a drama that’s filled with romantic fluff – but what makes it different from others is the addition of two flawed leads who struggle with their unusual disabilities. While the most common outcome for similar characters is to overcome their problems, the plot focuses on the theme of acceptance. In creating characters with such unique imperfections, it challenges viewers to see through the eyes of these two individuals who don’t have the luxury to judge by appearance. At the same time, it creates an opportunity for us to reflect on reserving personal judgements based off of looks, which is what the world really needs to develop a more kind and accepting society.

The Beauty Inside is available on Viu and Viki.

More related stories: 14 Upcoming Blockbuster Korean Dramas To Watch In 201910 K-Drama Male Leads We Wish Existed In Real Life

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Since going their separate ways after concluding their final concert in Seoul, the members of Wanna One wasted no time in keeping fans updated on their post-disbandment activities. From opening their individual Instagram accounts to dropping collaboration tracks for fans, alongside news of solo debuts, musical projects and drama works, Wannables have a lot to keep up with in the coming months. Here’s one more piece of good news for local WNBs: fans of Ong Seong Woo and Yoon Ji Sung can now get ready to welcome their biases back to our shores, as both of them will soon be making their way to Singapore for their respective fanmeeting tours!

Following news of his upcoming solo debut on 20 February, Ji Sung announced that he will be embarking on his first fanmeeting tour ‘Aside’ which will first kick off in Seoul. Other stops include Macau, Taipei, Malaysia, Tokyo, Osaka, Bangkok – and of course, Singapore. In addition, the 27-year-old will be starring in the musical The Days ahead of his mandatory military enlistment.

For Seong Woo, he will also be heading to Asia for his three-stop fanmeeting tour ‘Eternity’ – namely Bangkok, Malaysia and Singapore. After which, fans can look forward to his acting debut in the upcoming JTBC drama Moments of Eighteen, which is slated to air in May. Both of their fanmeetings are coincidentally held at [email protected] Box.

Unlike the high-energy performances you usually see in Wanna One concerts, this will be a rare opportunity for fans to get upclose and personal with the two members – who are both well-loved for their charming sense of humour and top-notch fan service – in a more intimate setting.

[UPDATED]

Wanna One Yoon Ji Sung 2019 1st Fan Meeting In Singapore

Yoon Ji Sung 2019 1st Fan Meeting In Singapore
Date: 15 March 2019
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: [email protected] Box
Tickets: $260, $217, $196, $152, $122

Tickets will go on sale 2 March, 10am via www.sistic.com.sg.

Wanna One Ong Seong Woo 2019 First Fan Meeting Singapore

Ong Seong Woo 2019 First Fan Meeting Singapore
Date: 6 April 2019
Time: 6pm
Venue: [email protected]
Tickets: $248, $198, $148, $98

Tickets will go on sale 24 February, 10am via www.apactix.com.

Good luck, Wannables!

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BTS is no stranger to the world of video games. For those who are already obsessed over SuperStar BTS (a rhythm game that is identical to the likes of Beat Fever or Tap Tap Reborn), ARMYs will soon have a new game to add to their must-download list. Following their endless string of high-profile collaborations, Big Hit Entertainment has unveiled their latest project in development by web game publisher Netmarble, BTS World.

According to a report by Straits Times, BTS World is described as a “simulation game built around the idea of grooming the BTS bandmates into superstars”, with the users roleplaying as artist managers. And who knows, perhaps you’ll be so great at your virtual job that you’ll give Manager Sejin (BTS’ actual manager) a run for his money!

While not much details are known about the game specifics, it’s looking to be a large-scale project featuring more than 10,000 images and 100 videos of the BTS members.

An official Twitter has been set up in anticipation of its launch, which has since garnered over 170,000 followers as of Friday evening. It’s also worth noting that the account was opened back in April 2018, which means BTS World has been in the works for several months now!

That’s not all; Netmarble has previously announced its plans to develop more games for the K-pop band as part of its global expansion strategy, so fans have plenty to look forward to.

BTS World is slated for release in the first quarter of 2019.

More related stories: BTS Is Getting Their Own Line Of Mattel Dolls And We’re Not Sure How To FeelBTS Just Teased A Possible Collaboration With Ed Sheeran And We’re Losing It

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Entertainment

5 Things We Loved About Netflix's New Zombie K-Drama Kingdom

29 Jan 2019 by Jasmine Ong

Since the explosive success of the 2016 zombie flick Train to Busan, it is clear that love for the living dead has become a global, if not Asian phenomenon. From the animated Seoul Station to recent box office hit Rampant and now Kingdom, it seems like Koreans just can’t get enough of the undead genre.

While we all know how the use of zombies can result in a repetitive narrative, this new Netflix original actually does the opposite. Set in the medieval Joseon period, Kingdom infuses the elements of history, politics, mystery and horror to bring you a thrilling drama about a crown prince who despite getting caught in a power-grabbing conspiracy, embarks on a personal mission to investigate a mysterious plague that threatens his people and his kingdom. If that doesn’t pique your interest, perhaps our list of five things that we loved from this debut series might change your mind. Oh, and did we mention it stars Ju Ji Hoon and Ryu Seung Ryong?

#1 The fast-paced plot that surprises

5-Things-We-Loved-About-New-Zombie-K-Drama-Kingdom-01-Plot

Though there may be some similarities between the 2018 Korean film Rampant and Kingdom, the latter actually holds its own in terms of its ability to intricately weave the undead element in with real details from the Joseon era such as their belief in Confucianist ideologies, which almost threatened to ruin any hopes of survival for the characters. In addition to that, we really enjoyed the fast-paced storytelling which kept us at the edge of our seats. The limited use of zombie appearances also helped to keep us from predicting what comes next, and allowed us to experience the surprise twists without disruptions.

#2 The relationship between the crown prince and his royal bodyguard

5-Things-We-Loved-About-New-Zombie-K-Drama-Kingdom-02-Bromance

In place of a non-existent romance in the debut season of Kingdom, viewers are treated to a brief but present bromance between Lee Chang (Ju Ji Hoon) and his royal bodyguard Moo Young (Kim Sang Ho). When Lee Chang first appears, it is pretty evident that the crown prince stays rather isolated from others due to political reasons since he holds the least amount of power despite his title. As such, the only person he can turn to for aid is his bodyguard whom he also treats like a personal friend. Having seen a glimpse of what the crown prince has been through, it’s nice to see that he has someone in his corner who not only banters with him but still provides support when it matters.

#3 Character-building 101

5-Things-We-Loved-About-New-Zombie-K-Drama-Kingdom-03-Character

It’s not easy to substantially develop characters in just one season with only six episodes, but this Netflix series made it possible to evolve their characters within each episode using time-sensitive situations which elicits certain qualities in a person. We particularly loved the obvious character development for Lee Chang, who was first introduced as a haughty person with a privileged attitude but eventually becomes a humbler version of himself after witnessing the loss of innocent lives first-hand.

#4 The ambiguity of Young Shin

5-Things-We-Loved-About-New-Zombie-K-Drama-Kingdom-04-Young-Shin

If there’s one character that continually mystifies in the entire first season, it’s the enigmatic lone wolf Young Shin (Kim Sung Kyu). Since his appearance in the first episode, not much is known about this agile, sharp-shooting young man who was the first to encounter the living dead together with Seo Bi (Bae Doo Na). The uncertainty behind his character creates an air of mystery about him, which works in the show’s favour as he continually surprises with his useful skill sets. It also presents a world of possibilities to his real identity where he might just be the beneficial ally that the crown prince needs to take back his throne.

#5 The overtly talented cast of characters

5-Things-We-Loved-About-New-Zombie-K-Drama-Kingdom-05-Cast

What makes a brilliant Korean drama if not for its actors? Helmed by a stellar cast of hard-working veterans and seasoned actors, Kingdom has an incredible mix of talent that all play an integral role in this newly created world. From Ryu Seung Ryong’s quiet and intimidating villain Cho Hak Jo to Jun Suk Ho’s bumbling magistrate Beom Pal, every actor seemed to embody their characters seamlessly, allowing viewers to suspend their beliefs as they go on the journey with them. It also helped that the cast had such great chemistry with one another, as this gave each person the ability to share the spotlight without the worry of overshadowing their scene partners.

Photo credits: Netflix Singapore

Catch all episodes of Kingdom starring Ju Ji Hoon, Ryu Seung Ryong and more on Netflix now!

More related stories: 5 Reasons Why Rampant is the New Zombie Flick You’ll Love, 14 Upcoming Blockbuster Korean Dramas To Watch In 2019

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Wanna One’s final concert Therefore was held from 24 to 27 January at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul – and it was a bittersweet affair filled with a massive outpouring of support from not just their beloved Wannables, but also some of their close celebrity friends.

Wanna One Therefore

Emotions ran high throughout all four days as the boys poured their hearts out for their last performance as a group. While Wanna One’s farewell concert caused a truckload of waterworks from fans, it turned out we were not the only ones grieving – a few familiar faces were also spotted in tears amidst the crowd.

From Produce 101 alumni Jeon Somi and Jeong Sewoon, to popular idols like BTS’ Jimin and EXO’s Xiumin, to even big-name actors like Park Seo Jun and Ahn Jae Hyun, here are all the celebrities who showed up in support of the Wanna One members.

Jeon Somi

 
 
 
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Jeong Se Woon

 
 
 
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2017년을 웃으며 추억할 수 있게 해준 워너원 고마워요! 안녕, 나의 2017년.

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Kim Sang Bin

 
 
 
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흠🎉

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Seong Hyun Woo

 
 
 
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Jeong Si Hyun

 
 
 
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20190127 저번에 찍은 사진이랑 구도가 같네옄ㅋㅋㅋㅋ고생많으셨습니다😄😄

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Heize


BTS’ Jimin


EXO’s Xiumin


BIGBANG’s Seungri


MOMOLAND’s JooE


Park Seo Jun


Ahn Jae Hyun

 
 
 
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😎

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Baek Min Hyun

 
 
 
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Kim Sae Ron

 
 
 
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Rhymer

What a heartwarming sight to witness! Even though we’ve come to the end of Wanna One, it’s really just the beginning. We wish nothing but success for the rest of the members as they continue to pursue their dreams on a different path.

All the best, Wanna One!

A trip down memory lane: Wanna One Puts On A Show To Remember At First (And Final) Solo Concert In Singapore13 Things That Only Happen At A Wanna One Fanmeeting101 Facts You Need To Know About Produce 101’s Wanna One

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