Iljimae! Iljimae!

 

Okay. So I just spent the last 4-5 hours cooped up in my room with this laptop while I sobbed, bit my nails ferociously to the stubs and screamed and squealed loud enough to possibly wake the rest of my family this late at night. All of this as I watched the final episodes of Iljimae.

Let me start off by saying what I normally say: I wasn’t expecting this to be that great of a drama. After finishing Secret Garden, I had lost all faith that pretty much anything else could measure up to it, and settled on a random, completely impulsive last-minute choice, the historical action flick Iljimae. It was slow-moving, too action-packed, not enough romance, and pretty much just all around not appealing in the beginning, however, I saw the ratings, despite my questioning the first episode, and decided, if this much of South Korea loved it (it was #1 or #2 the entire time it was on the air) then I guess I can too.

So, here’s the plot in a jist (with no spoilers that you don’t find out within the first few minutes): Joseon Dynasty (for those of you non-history buffs, just say medieval olden-days Korea) is the setting. Boy has nobleman father. Boy’s father is framed as a traitor and killed in front of him. Boy loses his memory. Boy is adopted by a peasant family. Boy grows up as a beggar, one day gets his memory back and embarks on a quest to avenge his father. Boy does this by dressing up as a badass Robin-hood-esque thief to search for his father’s killer. Boy becomes increasingly more badass as time elapses.

Who is this boy? Well, he goes by three names: his birth name Gyum, his adopted name Yong, and his badass name, Iljimae. But I like to call him the amazing actor Lee Joon Ki, who I had not realized would ever end up as fantastic and lovely as he did.

My first impression of both the main character and the plot was mild interest, but mostly confusion and annoyance. Yong starts off as a whiny, obnoxious arrogant douchebag (pardon my language) that cries almost constantly, is lazy, mean, and honestly just the perfect example of the worst possible hero/main character ever. But I knew, I just KNEW, it wasn’t going to stay that way.     As for the plot, it is really slow moving in the beginning. You literally have to watch the kid grow up, and it gets to a point where you are practically tempted to just click on episode 10 and get the whole affair over with. But YOU MUST BE PATIENT. Please remember: All good things come to those who wait. Or, in this case, GREAT FANTASTIC things 😀

There comes a point when everything changes. All the things you may have hated are suddenly all wiped away and it becomes increasingly more intense, engrossing, suspenseful, heart-wrenching, and GOOD. Yong/Iljimae develops from an annoying little weasel to the hottest, coolest, strongest, most lovable character ever with his badass (honestly, I don’t feel I can overuse the word ‘badass’ enough here) character, who makes every scene more wonderful than the last.

In this drama, you will laugh often, cry more often, and sit on the edge of your seat biting your nails the most. I’ve always though the term ‘a nail-biter’ was cheesy, but it is literally the case here. My fingers are sore. I guess I really got into this drama 😀

If you’re a sappy, over-emotional teenage girl like myself who NEEDS- and I mean NEEDS- romantic comedy to live, and cannot possibly imagine yourself enjoying a drama which is about 5% romance and about 95% crazy fighting, political conspiracies, and suspense, then change your mentality. Give this drama a chance. Lee Joon Ki, while unappealing at first, absolutely glows in this drama, and the characters seriously grow on you.

This is an example of a drama which grows exponentially greater and greater as it moves forward. You become gradually more interested after each episode until you can’t pull yourself away. I’ve never watched so many episodes of a drama in a row before- I just couldn’t stop. And for those nerds out there like me who scout out soundtracks, this one has a goodie (I downloaded the ENTIRE thing). Give this drama a chance! And don’t let those words “historical” and “action” turn you away.

Much love to Iljimae, and my new favorite actor Lee Joon Ki ^_^ Annyeoung!

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My #1 All-Time Favorite Drama

For the first time ever, I am rewatching a drama.

Typically, when I finish a drama, I think of it as a chapter of my life that has closed, and I move on. When I finished Nodame Cantabile a few days ago (which was wonderful!) I moved on to watch Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge, in hopes of enjoying another J-drama. While it wasn’t particularly bad, by the time I reached episode 3 I realized I was beginning to go through K-drama withdrawal and needed to quench that intense thirst for good acting and beautiful Korean actors.

Unconsciously, I drifted back to my favorite drama. The best drama I’ve ever watched. The most unique, the most enthralling, the most “mature” as well. All in spite of my aversion to “repeating” old dramas.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal.

I am watching it again, as it brought me so much joy and fufillment the first time. And you know what? It’s just as great the second time! Really!

We’ve got Park Min Young, sweet and cute, as the lead Kim Yoon Shik, and her costar is our little Mickey Yoochun from DBSK as the stuck-up Lee Seon Joon. Plenty of other charming, wonderful actors and actresses light up this historical period drama about the prestigious Sunkyunkwan University in 18th century Joseon Korea.

So, I know alot of teens want to puke at the though of a ‘historical’ drama, and hey, I can understand your feelings to some extent, but bare with me here. Sungkyunkwan Scandal may take place in the ‘olden days’, but what it lacks in modern flair it makes up for in fantastic acting, strong dramatic plot twists and even a colorful soundtrack.

This drama is the most unique I’ve ever seen. It’s not your average bubble-gum romantic comedy boy-meets-girl kind of drama. And, while many parts may bring about smiles and laughter, overall, this is not a comedy, and the crazy, unrealistic quirkiness seen in average dramas is absent. In fact, this drama actually is a DRAMA, and though it is fictional, it is not terribly unrealistic. In fact, of all the dramas I’ve seen (which is a lot) this one seems to be the highest quality one I’ve ever watched.

Sure, I love the classic kidnappings, relationship quarrels, love triangles, terminal illnesses and dark tormented pasts of your typical cookie cutter Korean dramas, but it really is refreshing and incredible to finally watch a drama that doesn’t need so much flair and hype, and seems to be crafted so carefully.

But don’t get me wrong, this drama is not by any means a serious, stern, complex drama that you must be super mature and appreciative of history to enjoy. There is plenty of romance and suspense, and the characters are all so god-damn lovable I can’t even pick a favorite! Overall, I enjoy (for once) a heroine that is an intelligent, academic scholar (kind of like me) who doesn’t act like a typical “teenage girl” like we are used to. Nevertheless, she is so cute, and paired with Yoochun, the two of them compliment each other perfectly.

I cannot rave about this drama enough. If you love dramatic, girl-disguises-as-a-boy-to-save-her-family historical plots, good acting, plenty of intelligent drama and some of the best characters out there, you MUST at least check out this drama. In my opinion, it deserves way more recognition. I will always be prepared to advocate for this drama!

Well, I’m off to watch more Sungkyunkwan Scandal. Annyeoung!