Annus Mirabilis

The title of this post refers strictly to my experiences as a fan of Wang Ji Won.  It has proved to be a year of miracles, a year of wonders,  thanks to one astonishing week.

I have been a fan of Ms. Wang for four years now, and the week started with a surprise that was literally incredible, difficult to believe.  I received a totally unexpected gift package. A copy of the DVD of her debut movie One Line and a copy of a limited run magazine featuring an interview with her made me smile with delight, but discovering this underneath them left me stunned:

For a fan FAR removed geographically from his bias, and even FARTHER removed demographically from her fanbase, receiving a framed autograph was truly “mirabilis”, a marvellous surprise I struggled to process. But the best was yet to come.

Receiving Ji Won’s autograph was a stunning surprise, but what cemented the week and thus the year as miraculous was the fulfilment of a long held, oft-stated dream.  Ever since I became her fan, I have dreamed of seeing Wang Ji Won in a show about dance.  Swan Club made that dream come true.

This ballet-themed special was a very emotional experience to watch. Seeing Ji Won tear up when being surprised at meeting her famous seonbae, KNB’s prima ballerina Kim Ji Yeong made me all teary-eyed too. Watching her grimace and weep with pain in her pilates/rehab session made me so proud of her inner strength , a reminder of the iron will that has driven her building a new career after  being forced out of the ballet world she so clearly still loves.  Watching her smile and laugh, with her fellow cast members and with her ballet colleagues made me so very happy.

Above all, watching her actually DANCE blew me away. Her beauty and  her grace were mesmerising, and the sheer joy she got from expressing her love of dance again,  was more than I had dared hope for.  Even the song she chose to dance to was an assertive statement – Amor Fati. If translated as “Love Your Fate” it comes across as an expression of her resolute determination to do just that: Fate may have taken her away from ballet and into acting, but instead of pining or mourning, she is “loving her fate” and making the most of every opportunity she gets. Watching the show was the most emotionally satisfying TV experience of the year, and I’ve already lost count of how many times I’ve watched her segments.  I am sure like many performers, she dreads reading internet comments, but I really hope she reads this one, because it comes from my heart with sincerity and truth:

To my incomparable bias Wang Ji Won I say, THANK YOU! Thank you for the wonderful surprise gift of your autograph, but most especially, thank you for touching my heart by giving your fans, all of us, such a wonderful, beautiful, “mirabilis” gift – the gift of your dance.  고맙습니다,  항상 고맙습니다!

저는 왕지원의 팬입니다

 

 

Always Look on the Bright Side – Fit the 2nd

GOOD Dramas

Apart from the good things happening for my bias there have been other reasons to look on the bright side, including some very good Dramas. Japan supplied  the outstanding Quartet, here are some Korean Dramas that made me feel glad I got to see them

MY ONLY LOVE SONG

This web drama is not high art. Ludicrously silly, with a plot so thin it barely pretends to be one, and a deus ex machina device ripped (probably) from the director watching Herbie as a kid,  the critics would (defensibly) savage it. BUT, I gave it 10/10 for being perfect in one very important respect. It delivered EXACTLY what it promised; a celebration of sweet, uncomplicated romance, and thus a reminder that when K Dramas get it right, they REALLY get it right. An incredibly cute OTP with exceptional chemistry, and (VERY rare for K Dramas), more happy endings than you could shake a stick at.

CIRCLE

The appearance and performance of the female lead in My Only Love Song so caught my attention  that I went looking for another Drama starring Gong Seung Yeon. What I found was  was one of the best Korean Dramas I’ve ever seen. In no particular order, some  things that really impressed me:

The genre:  This was the very first pure SF Korean Drama I’ve seen. No fantasy or supernatural elements, just science fiction. Very, very rare in K Dramas, a fact that may at least partly explain the very low ratings

The Story: A well thought-out morality tale about the link between memory and identity, and the extent to which the former defines the latter.  Different characters had different views on the question, and some characters changed their views through the course of the story.

The execution:  In the entire Drama, there was only one significant flaw I noted, involving an improbable recovery from massive blood loss. This meant almost no jarring facepalm moments taking  viewers out of the world the story was building,

Gong Seung Yeon. I was impressed she chose such a completely different Drama after My Only Love Song. Clearly she’s  serious  about challenging herself and improving her craft by trying new roles. She did not disappoint, and I  look forward to her next Drama, soon.

Secret Forest

I’m not the biggest fan of tvN  as  Antarctica is not the hottest  place on Earth. But they’ve delivered two hits  year. First  the stunning Circle, and then  the equally good Secret Forest. A complex tale of political and judicial corruption, the content of the Drama is  not new But the excellence of the writing and the performances by the very strong cast, including the formidable Bae Doona, have elevated Secret Forest  far above other political “thrillers” Korean TV cranks out. Apart from a few ponderously overlong early episodes (especially the first), it’s as close to perfect as we’re ever likely to see. Again in no particular order, some highlights:

¡A SENTIENT COP! As any longtime K Drama viewer knows, 999 out of every 1000 K Drama police officers would be outsmarted by a brain-damaged rock with a bad hangover. Bae Doona’s Han Yeo Jin is the 1 who wouldn’t. The joy that comes from watching a detective  detect, using professional training and rational deductive thinking to do her job is enough to make me giddy. 

A real partnership: The pairing of Detective Han with Prosecutor Hwang is at the heart of the show and it reminds me VERY strongly of the best Holmes-Watson pair I’ve ever seen, in Elementary. Just as with those two, this is  truly a partnership. They complement and respect each other, and as a result, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

A credible villain: Bad guys in K Dramas are often shouty maniacs who make Dr Evil seem like a genuine mastermind. CEO Lee, though is calm, methodical and dispassionate. This makes the battle between he and Prosecutor Hwang a real joy to watch.

Background silence: Many K Dramas  try to coerce viewers’ reactions through intrusive and unsubtle music, Secret Forest lets the talking do the talking

BAD Dramas & GOOD Company

I have a wonderful Twitter timeline. Many of them are devoted fans of various actors and/or idols themselves, so  indulge my ceaseless fanboying over Wang Ji Won, and my deliberately bad wordplay with good humour (or at least fake it well). They’re also there to celebrate bad or potentially bad Dramas, such as Manhole: Wonderland Feels. The hours of hilarity this Drama’s name has generated on my Twitter feed has been a real treasure, and when the awesome Mary  excelled herself by creating a game to celebrate the absurdity, even more fun was had by even more people.  Finding things to laugh AT is easy, finding good people to laugh WITH is definitely reason to look on the bright side.

Netflix

Netflix rounds out my list for a couple of reasons. First, quantitatively, for making ever more East Asian Dramas available legally here in Aotearoa. As the major Korean networks retreat to a supply channel which defines “global” to mean “US/(Canada) only”, Netflix keeps adding to its available library here. Second, qualitatively. Of the three Dramas I discuss above, two are Netflix productions or co-productions. So for making many Dramas available here, and especially for making My Only Love Story and Secret Forest, thank you very kamsa, Netflix!

I hope these posts have given at least some readers cause to think of their own reasons to look on the bright side. BESIDES the obvious one – the fact that I’m finally done!

Always Look on the Bright Side: Fit the 1st

In a world of  naked negativicity, the contrarian in me decided it’s time to celebrate some good stuff that has happened, is happening and is about to happen in the world of Asian entertainment. From the perspective of one eccentric old man, anyway.

원라인


Wang Ji Won’s debut movie was the primary trigger for this post. When the movie was announced, she got a lot of press coverage. In the months leading up to its release that changed, and in the end, her role was not  everything this avid fanboy spent a whole year hoping for.

Nevertheless, I’m counting it as a blessing overall because it was her debut. She worked tirelessly to promote it, she looks GREAT in it, and she did well with the role she ended up with. So I’m celebrating it as a successful first step and hope the experience, connections and reputation earned by her hard work and professionalism will help advance her career.  She’s continued to make good use of whatever opportunities have come her way to raise her profile, including an appearance on Happy Together which reduced me to incoherence by giving its audience a fleeting glimpse of her dancing again. I was overcome, and hope the link below survives so others can enjoy it too.

MORE FANS

More appearances on TV and now film lead to another reason for this fanboy  to be happy – seeing the number of Ji Won’s followers on SNS grow. Every fan wants their bias to be better known, and seeing it happen is a real cause for happiness. In the 4 years or so I’ve been following her, her number of followers  has remained relatively constant, until quite recently. All of a sudden it seems, she has almost double the numbers of followers  she did when I started following her, a year after her debut. Still not a large number by K Ent standards, but the sudden spike in numbers is gratifying, especially as more and more of them are coming from various countries far from Korea. I’m happy to see more and more people following her cute, fun Instagram profile. If 원라인 brings her still more fans, that will be another reason to celebrate it. Which brings me to:

ONE FAN

For Ji Won’s Number One fan, I’m sure I’ve been a source of some misery (ha!). This is a shame because I, and Ji Won’s other international fans, owe her so much. She works tirelessly to protect Ji Won’s SNS from antis, and helps scores of non-Korean fans  feel more connected to Ji Won than they otherwise would. She  continues to be VERY patiently generous with her time, providing unsolicited translations and explanations and keeping us informed of Ji Won’s activities and well-being. Her devotion to Ji Won is remarkable, and her willingness to give of herself to help other fans is truly a blessing. As is the very happy news that ends this summary of “things that make a Wang Ji Won fanboy happy”

HOSPITAL SHIP

After two years, Wang Ji Won is finally back in a prime-time network Drama! I wasn’t originally planning to watch Hospital Ship but of course her casting changed all that. I am very excited that she’s back, and in a Drama lead by a real big headline name in Ha Ji Won. The boost to her profile from this Drama could be really significant, hopefully continuing the revival of her career trajectory. It also starts airing just after her fifth debut anniversary, and I’m really hoping that her fans get to do something truly very special for her to celebrate this happy double.  As the above ramble shows, there’s much for me to be happy about, and hopeful about, as a Wang Ji Won fanboy, but I have several more reasons to look on the bright side. So many that they have forced  a  sequel to this post. Stay tuned, y’all!

 

Women Ahead of Their Time?

The inspiration for this post was a question that occurred to me toward the end of 2015: Are there any Korean films of the 60s and 70s that feature  strong women making their own choices in lead roles?

The Korean Dramas I watch almost all reflect the male-dominated, chauvinist hierarchy of traditional Korean society. The phrase “male-dominated, chauvinist hierarchy” applies with equal force to traditional Indian society too, which is precisely why the three films I’m briefly looking at here really stand out for me.

Two of these were made in the 60s, and the other  in the 70s. One I like,  I really like, one I really don’t. But all three seem almost anachronistic in their depiction of the female leads, hence the title of this post.

GUIDE (1965)

The blurb on my DVD of this film says that Waheeda was told she was committing professional suicide by taking the role of a woman who left her husband to pursue her dream of being a dancer, aided by her manager/lover.

It really was a remarkable story for 1965 India, and Waheeda made the role her own, with her dancing skills and nuanced portrayal of a woman’s journey of self-discovery,  coming to believe that she could choose to live her life on her terms.

TEESRI KASAM  (1966)

Another Waheeda starrer, this film has many similarities to Guide. Once again she plays a dancer living life on her own terms, or in this case on terms she has chosen to accept. In Guide Dev Anand’s character was initially her guide into independence, helping steer her to fame and fortune. In Teesri Kasam she has neither fame nor fortune, and the man who enters her life is no smooth-talking guide, but a very simple bullock cart driver.

What I love about this film is the way Waheeda’s Hirabai deals with the reality of her life. Others may see it as demeaning and sordid, but whatever, it is her  life, and she will be the one to accept or reject its constraints. She may not have been an empowered woman, but she was not powerless, and demonstrated that her dignity was her business, no one else’s

SEETA AUR GEETA (1972)

This film is named for the two female lead roles, only one of whom qualifies for consideration as an independent,self-assured woman.

Seeta is a meek, downtrodden Cinderella character, not unlike the Candy trope of East Asian Dramas.  Her  separated-at-birth identical twin sister Geeta on the other hand is a real gem. After the opening twenty minutes of the film establishing how miserable Seeta’s life is, Geeta’s introduction is a welcome change of mood. She enters singing “life’s a game” in the song above, and the rest of the film shows her keeping that spirit.

Geeta’s character shines for simply refusing to accept the kind of treatment her society and culture considered both normal and proper for women to receive. Confronted with routine physical and verbal abuse, degradation and oppression, she gives as good as she gets. Especially noteworthy is the climactic fight scene at the end, in which she is an active, vigorous participant. No demure heroine waiting to be rescued, she plays a major part in saving herself, and helping the hero.

Another thing these films have in common is that the actresses were both famous for their dancing skills. All three films reference the low esteem female dancers were held in, and it’s central to both Guide and Teesri Kasam.  Perhaps being part of a contemned (and often condemned) profession played a part in the characters’ resilience?

Like Waheeda and Hema, my bias  Wang Ji Won came to acting from dance. So did several other actresses I follow, including Han Ye Ri, whose major was in Korean traditional dance. Unlike Waheeda and Hema, I’ve never seen any of the Korean dancer-actresses I follow in a role involving dance in a truly significant way, though Ji Won played a ballerina in Fated To Love You. So now I have two questions:

First, are there any Korean films from the 60s or 70s that feature similarly independent, self-assertive women? Second, are there Korean films or Dramas about dancers or featuring dance prominently and starring actresses who are or were dancers? I look forward to your responses, gentle readers.

In Support Of The King 왕지원

저는 왕지원의 팬입니다

The phrase above is the background image for my Twitter profile.”I am a fan of Wang Ji Won”.  The use of the deferential form of “I” maybe grammatically incorrect, but the choice was very deliberate. This post is to celebrate her, and reflect on my experiences as an international fan.

As mentioned here, I started following Wang Ji Won a couple of years ago on Instagram. Her posts were pretty, cute and fun. At the time she was second lead in the drama I Need Romance 3. Many of her Instagram posts feature the cast of the drama having fun together, and I fell for her impish smile and ridiculously cute pout. But it was reading a translated interview in which she talked about her background that converted me into a hard-core fan.

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Learning that she had spent 17 years devoted to ballet, including attending the Royal School of Ballet and earning a place with the Korea National Ballet before a pelvic fracture put her in a wheelchair for six months and ended her ballet career gave me a new perspective on this young woman. It showed that behind her cute, funny, impish smile was a character of determination, diligence and drive, someone who could still exude fun after having her life’s dream taken away. The trajectory of her post-ballet career has further demonstrated  those characteristics.

ballet1

Becoming proficient at ballet requires years of practice, lots of intensive physical exercise and sheer hard work, with a lot of pain. It has been similar for Wang Ji Won in her career as an actress. She started modelling and doing some advertising work around the time she was with the Korea National Ballet. Some of her earliest commercials also provide an excellent example of the depth of my fanboy’s commitment. They feature an actor of almost legendary fame, whom I have never seen in anything other than those commercials. So when people talk about him, he is to me “that guy who was with Wang Ji Won in those ads”.

 

Her first drama role was in the 120 episode Shut Up Family in 2012 . I watched this drama a few months ago to complete her canon, and recorded the time and duration of every one of her scenes in the entire drama. Following Shut Up Family, her next drama was the 2013 Good Doctor, which happened to be the first drama I watched while it was airing. After that came a very brief cameo in the mega smash hit The Heirs before she secured her first second lead in I Need Romance 3. One of her closest Korean fans recently said something like “don’t worry she’s not Oh Se Ryeong (her character in INR3)” I smiled and thought “but I like Se Ryeong”. And I did. The best friends to frenemies to best friends again arc was well executed by Wang Ji Won and the lead Kim So Yeon.

In 2014, Wang Ji Won got her first lead role in the web drama Another Parting . Effectively an hour-long MV for the eponymous title track, Another Parting was another step forward in her career, especially thanks to her high profile male lead Seo In Guk. It also featured a scene that made my blood boil when I learned later it was filmed in -9°C!

After Another Parting, her next second lead was a role that got me really excited. It was a remake of the Taiwanese drama Fated to Love You. I hated that drama, including its female second, who deliberately caused the lead to miscarry. The second lead character in the drama was a ballet dancer, but sadly the actress playing that character in the Taiwanese drama had no experience in ballet and was not a very good actor. So I was super excited when my ballerina bias scored the role in the Korean remake. Seeing her dance again even briefly remains a highlight of the drama for me. That her character was significantly less awful than in the Taiwanese original was a nice bonus.

Her next drama role was in 2015 as second lead in Divorce Lawyer in Love. I will be polite and describe the drama as underwhelming. As a very committed fan, I was hugely disappointed at the way her character’s role faded in significance and screen time in the last half of the drama, to the point where she was effectively absent. Nevertheless, the drama did give me many treasured memories of my beautiful bias looking very beautiful.

bluecomp18

In a recent interview for her first cover article in a magazine, Wang Ji Won mentioned (according to Google translate) that 2015 was a bit of a slump year for her. I found that candour endearing. Happily 2016 has been much better . Not only her first magazine cover but a short web drama that was effectively all about her, Immortal Goddess. These however are the appetisers for what makes 2016 a very special year for Wang Ji Won and her fans. She completed filming this year on her very first film role , a con artist caper film with Im Si Wan , One Line. It hasn’t come out yet, but when it does, this fan boy will be raving, again.

This brief recap of her career showcases her focus and determination. She has worked her way up slowly, from commercials to small parts on to 2nd leads and web dramas and now to a movie role. She has candidly acknowledged the role luck has played, but she’s also seized the opportunities presented and made the most of them. And it has not all been smooth sailing.

The same social media that cemented my attachment to her as a fan also caused her significant pain. She suffered serious verbal abuse from people who refuse to recognise that public performers are entitled to private lives. Performers need to a space to perform, and they need an audience.  Social media interactions provide both. Sadly some mean-spirited people attacked her repeatedly over a long period of time, to the point where she withdrew from social media. That low point in her public life also taught me the truth of the adage “never say never”

When I started getting into Korean dramas, I could not understand why fans would send expensive gifts to their biases, who obviously have a lot more money than their fans. Yet last year, when I learned the extent and nature of the abuse that Wang Ji Won was suffering from unkind people, I was moved to respond by sending a fan gift. Not solely as a fan, but  primarily as someone who wanted to express sympathy. That fan gift mission turned into quite a saga itself, with its own ups and downs and crises,(and even its own playlist) but in the end I got what every fan craves, acknowledgement from my bias. Since then, as her career has continued its upward arc, I have contributed to fan gifts on two further occasions. Never say “never”!

Being a hard-core fan of an actor with a lower profile has its advantages. Her fan base is not that large at the moment, so she interacts with many of them. For a few months, she even followed me on Instagram. This was, of course, the highlight of my social media existence. Any performer’s public social media presence is in large part about performance, publicity and promotion. No one shows all of themselves on SNS, and not for a minute do I think that Ji Won’s  public SNS shows all of her, but it what it does show, I like. Her interactions with her Korean fans on Instagram always present the same picture – that of a warm, friendly and genuinely fun young woman, who enjoys chatting with her peers. From her unobtrusive fondness for her cat, whom she rescued from a freeway, to her unfeigned anguish at being almost 30 (Korean age) and her constant willingness to simply goof off, there is nothing not to like. If I had a ₩ for every ㅋㅋㅋ in her comments and replies, I could afford to learn Korean in Korea. Which would certainly make my fan life a whole lot simpler.

There is a clip from Sesame Street I’m fond of using to express my relationship with the rest of Wang Ji Won’s fandom. The overwhelming majority of her fans are Korean, female, and under 30. I am emphatically none of those things. I cannot speak Korean, can barely read Hangul, and live 13,000 km away, in addition to being more than 20 years older than my bias and the majority of her fans. Despite all this, I have been made to feel very welcome as part of her fandom.

I am especially indebted to the fan who has the closest connection to Wang Ji Won. For her star, this young woman is a truly devoted fan, a friend, and a fierce protector. Their exchanges on SNS are always a joy to read, even through machine translation, good natured banter between friends. This fan has a fan in me. Despite already spending countless hours producing beautiful fan vids, and constantly being on guard  to shield Ji Won’s SNS from those who wish her ill, she has shown extraordinary patience and helpfulness in facilitating my fandom by sharing information with me and translating it for me. Her tireless loyalty is worthy of its own tribute. I have been deeply moved by her willingness to offer me the opportunity to participate in fan events, even when the realities of distance, differing timezones and my  lack of Korean eventually precluded my participation.

The title of this tribute is a dig at Google Translate. The name “Ji Won” is not uncommon among Korean actresses, but Wang Ji Won is the ONLY one whose name Google refuses to treat as such, instead translating her name as words. With her star seeming to be on the rise, I hope to see this change soon. All the signs are that this beautiful,  hard-working, talented, determined and beautiful young woman is starting to reap the rewards due her effort. I’m sure that in the not too distant future, many more, including Google, will know her name. When that time comes, and she shines to others as the star she already is to me, I will be cheering and clapping and smiling.

It’s every fan’s dream to meet their bias, of course, even when we know it won’t happen. Aotearoa is so far away from anywhere it famously doesn’t even show up on many maps. And my little corner of this little country is off the tourist track (except for wine buffs). So when I see photos of  my bias meeting fans, I feel very, very happy for them, and just a tiny bit wistful.

If the unimaginably improbable happened and I did meet Wang Ji Won, what would I say?

“감사합니다! 진짜 , 정말, 감사합니다!” ” Thank you for sharing your talent, grace and beauty.” “Thank you for making me smile and gush. Thank you for keeping the teenager in me alive and well.”  “Thank you for being a good person.”

As I watch this lovely young woman’s career from afar, I will continue to be proud to say, “I’m her fan” And when she’s the big name star she deserves to be, I’ll still keep treasuring  the words and images of a young woman who loves iced Americanos from Starbucks (sigh!), who gushes like a teenage fangirl over her favourite Dramas and anime, who rescues stray cats, who has kind words for strange old fans far away, and who has a smile and a pout that no tribute can do justice to. There may be many Jiwons, but for me, there can be only !

Number 1: Day 19

Drama That Started Your Bias

 

 

I NEED ROMANCE 3

I said in the introductory post to this series that “The ten I’ve chosen are going to be listed more or less in chronological order.” We’ve had the nine less, here’s the one more.

When it comes to my bias’s fandom, I’m the ultimate outlier. I am the wrong age, the wrong gender, in the wrong country and speak the wrong language. I am, in short, just plain wrong.  Despite all of that, I AM  a fan, and as such will gladly seize any chance to sing her praises.

This was a challenging category to answer  because my crush on my bias did not start from Dramas. I fell hard for Ms Wang Ji Won (yes, that is her NAME, Google Translate) by following her on her first Instagram account. Before being hounded out of SNS  her Instagram showed a young woman with an irrepressible sense of fun, who loved being silly, with a  killer pout that captured an old man’s fan heart “with a wink and a smile”.  Add in the cat she rescued from a freeway and doesn’t torment  for SNS fodder, and she had my vote before any Drama.

A big part of that SNS fun also revolved around the first of her Dramas that really did cement her as my bias. The cast of I Need Romance 3 spent a lot of time together in social settings, and continued to get together as often as possible long after the Drama had ended. Following her IG at the same time as watching the Drama was a double whammy of cute and pretty, with a  large side order of fun. It also foreshadowed “the start of a beautiful friendship” with the scene below being re-enacted endlessly on Twitter by two fans of the actors involved:

 


fight

If INR3 was the Drama that came closest to being the start of my bias, Fated To Love You was the one that sealed the deal. The Taiwanese original featured a bad actor playing an awful character, a ballerina. The Korean remake featured a better actor playing a less horrid character, and was played by a real ballerina. Ji Won’s story of building a new career after the injury that put her in a wheelchair for 6 months and ended her 17 year ballet dream was a big part of what made me such a fan, seeing her dance again, even fleetingly, in FTLY ,  completely shattered any chance of my escaping the thrall of my bias. When she first shared the clip below, of her practicing for the FTLY role,  she said it had been 5 years since she’d danced ballet. I can’t help thinking it may have  been a bittersweet moment for her
Many of the people I follow on Twitter get to tweet enthusiastically and  at length about the aesthetic appeal of their male biases. When one’s bias is both female, and a second lead, such opportunities are rare. A sign of how low profile my bias is can be seen in the way Google treats her name. Of seven actresses I know called Ji Won, she is the only  one whose name is not recognised as such, and a youtube clip entitled “Wang Ji Won ballet”, actually features a compilation of several Ji Wons, much to my annoyance, So the missing piece of the “cement my bias” puzzle was finally supplied by the web Drama Immortal Goddess. The whole Drama was built around Wang Ji Won, with the key plot point being “Wang Ji Won is really ridiculously good looking”.

 

She got to do things  she’s never done  onscreen before, including throw up, get piggybacked, and laugh.
 FINALLY, I got to have the pure fan service experience so many of my Twitter friends get so often, and it was, as the lady herself might say, “wangderful”. While looking forward to her first movie role, a lead in a con film One Line,  I’ll close with some of my favourite shots from Immortal Goddess,  ones that highlight the Wang Ji Won I will always support:

 

And now it’s done. Thanks again to Indigo/Helena for her truly excellent Drama Challenge and for the chance to challenge myself by writing ten positive pieces. Incredibly self-indulgent they were, and that may have been off-putting to some. As a gracious host AND hardcore Wang Ji Won fan, to any who have waded through my waffle and now feel worse for wear, I will let my beautiful ballerina bias convey my sincerest regrets:

Number 8: Day 13

 

Western Series You Think Could Be Adapted Into A Drama

When I started the 30 Day Drama Challenge, I expected Day 13 to be unlucky, too tough to answer. In fact, it was easy to answer. So easy that I came up with two good candidates:J-Dorama: Black Books

This is not an excuse to plug two of my favourite comedies. Well, not just an excuse to plug two of my favourite comedies. Watching the compilation above solidified my conviction that a Japanese adaptation could really work. The slightly surreal nature of Black Books antisocial vibe seems a better fit for Japanese Drama than Korean, I think. Also, the 9-11 episode run of a J-Dorama would be ideal, allowing the show to stay sharply funny to the end, without running the concept dry.  I started off with a very clear image of who should play the Dylan Moran character:
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Odagiri Joe would be great, I think, and his Drama Juhan Shuttai features Yasui, a character who embodies A LOT of Bernard Black, as in this clip:
Another Japanese character who reminds me strongly of Bernard Black is Takumi, the  unforgettable male lead character from one of my favourite comedies, Date. Smug, insular, hard to like and burdened with a crushing superiority complex in the fields of literature and movies, there is a lot of Bernard Black in Takumi.

Not only does Takumi display many of  the key Bernard Black characteristics, but I think Higashide Anne’s  performance in Date shows she could pull off the Fran character. She showed herself capable of  displaying the right mix of desperation, fragility and silliness, I think:

 

So there you have it: Take the bitter, jaded  cynicism of Juhan Shuttai‘s Yasui, the bookish reclusiveness and neuroticism of Date‘s Takumi,  meld them into the smoky bemused detachment of Odagiri Joe’s Iokibe, and you have a viable J-version of Bernard Black. Besides Higashide Anne, Matsushita Nao’s earnest, amiable awkwardness in Hayako Sensei  suggests her as a possible  Fran. I haven’t seen enough J-Doramas to have a clear picture of a J-Manny, so I’m very open to suggestions.

K-Web Drama: The IT Crowd

 

One thing that struck me about Juhan Shuttai  was how curiously analog Japan still is in many ways. Korea, on the other hand is possibly the most wired country on Earth. I think a short web series would be the ideal setting for a Korean version of The IT Crowd, and based on his performances in Beautiful Gong Shim I’d love to see Namgoong Min in the Roy role. Choi Siwon could probably pull it off too, going by his She Was Pretty  performance. Lee Dong Hwi seems like a potential Moss, while Lee Yeol Eum or Dasom could work as Jen – especially given Web Dramas tendency to cast idols. There is another possibility, one I offer very reluctantly, solely in the interests of being ruthlessly objective.Wang Ji Won is older than my other suggestions, nearer Jen’s age, and is capable of displaying the sort of fish-out-of-water naivete and credulity that marks Jen.
I would love to hear your views on this, dear (putative) readers: Do you think either or both of these would work, and if so, who would you cast?