Jung_E (정이) is a South Korean movie released on 20th January 2023 commissioned by Netflix.
Set in the 22nd century, climate change has caused the planet to become uninhabitable and humans live within a man-made shelter. A war takes place within the shelter. Jung Yi is the elite leader of the allied forces. She becomes the subject of a brain cloning experiment. The cloning experiment is a potential key to win the war.
Kang Soon Yeon (강수연) as Yoon Seo Hyun
Sadly she passed away from a cerebral haemorrhage on 7th May 2022, while the movie was in post-production, she was only 55 years old. She is a veteran award-winning actress with her first film being in 1977 and TV drama in 1979. The Korea Times has this interesting article.
Ryu Kyung Soo (류경수) as Kim Sang Hoon
He is best down for drama series such as Itaewon Class and Confession. Jung_E is not his only Netflix production, previously in the 2021 series Hellbound in the upcoming series Glitch.
The best thing about this film was the special effects. Very interesting landscapes and the robot scenes were faultless, including the fight scenes.
The film was let down by the script. They should have focused on improving that.
I take this as a more action movie than anything. So, don’t expect Shakespeare.
With the exception of Kong Soon Yeon the acting wasn’t that great either. The three elements of the film just didn’t come together ie CGI, story and acting.
Unfortunately, when we started watching the movie Netflix defaulted to the English dubbed version rather than the Korean voice and English subtitles. I never watch anything that is dubbed in English because the voices they use are patronizing. This was the case with this film, it was just dreadful, especially the voice of the character Kim Sang Hoon. Later on, I did watch parts of the film that hadn’t been dubbed and it was much better.
I don’t want to rate this movie since it was all over the place, I suggest viewing it and deciding for yourself.
Where To Watch
This film is only available on Netflix, it’s in their Top 10 in Canada.
6/45 is a military comedy movie from South Korea that was released on 24th August 2022.
This a story of South and North Korean soldiers meetings up secretly when the wind blows a first-prize lottery ticket, with a substantial win, into Korea’s military demarcation line.
The cast seemed very familiar but don’t recall where we have seen them, certainly not in any of the productions that are listed in their bios.
Go Kyung Pyo (고경표) plays Chun Woo
He has a decent list of TV shows and films in his bio. He did his military service between 2018 and 2020. Instagram
Lee Yi Kyung (이이경) plays Yong Ho
A longer bio than Go Kyung Pyo. He has been in comedic roles before. Not sure if he has done his military service. His father is the CEO of LG Innotek. Instagram
Although I’ve seen South and North related TV shows and films before this one feels very different as it has a comedic aspect and the story is very well written with more than one meaning.
The film did go into a small number of cultural differences between the South and North. They did seem to learn from each other regarding each other’s good points.
While it is a comedy film I think there is a more serious part of the film seeing the South and North work together on a common goal and they all were in agreement that they look forward to unification.
The best moments of the film were the animal scenes in North Korea and the German translation in South Korea. These scenes were just so well done and very memorable moments.
This film couldn’t have been made by any other country as the scenarios just don’t exist.
One of the best Korean films I have ever seen, I will give it 5/5. It is a must-see movie, great for family holiday viewing.
Secret House (비밀의 집) is a 124-episode South Korean soap-opera style show that aired between 11 April through 10 October 2022.
Lawyer Woo Ji Hwan, who comes from a poor family, goes against a rich family to seek revenge for the dreadful things they did to his mother who is suffering from dementia. He discovers many life-changing secrets along the way including revelations about his past.
Seo Ha Joon (서하준) plays Woo Ji Hwan
He was the main character in the show which some have said to see a male leased is unusual for a daily soap. It looks as though he was the main driving force behind the scenes too. The media tried to make a big deal of a recent controversial event the actor went through but fans wasn’t having it. He has been in soaps more than any other shows. Instagram
Lee Young Eun (이영은) plays Baek Joo Hong
She has been in a large variety of soaps, regular TV shows and movies, I haven’t seen her in any other of her productions. She won the New Star Award at the SBS Drama Awards in 2007. Instagram
Jung Heon (김정헌) plays Nam Tae Hyung
He is an actor and model and appeared in a number of soap opera’s and TV shows, plus some movies. I’ve not seen him in any other productions. Instagram
Kang Byul (강별) plays Nam Tae Hee
She appeared in Rooftop Prince, one of my favourite Korean shows, but I do not recall her in it but it was just a support role. She has played in 3 other soap type shows and a variety of regular shows.
She hasn’t updated her social media since 2019 and it looks as though her Instagram page has been deleted.
Lee Seung Yeon (이승연) plays Ham Sook Jin
An actress and talk show host who has had a lot of experience. She won third place in the Miss Korea beauty pageant and was South Korea’s representative to the 1993 Miss World pageant, she ended up in the top ten.
There was something about this soap opera that just didn’t click, maybe it was just COVID making it difficult to film and keep things together.
The storyline was good, plenty of twists and turns. However, I don’t think there was enough content within that story to keep the pace going for the first 80% of the show.
At first I got the perceptions that the acting just wasn’t that good. Some actors just stood there like wooden planks and didn’t have much to contribute, such as Jo Yoo Shin.There was the nurse of the grandfather, played by Bang Eun Hee, she played an odd character who seemed to periodically talk to the camera to give commentary on what was happing on the show. Then I thought, well, maybe, the directing was pretty bad. It was difficult to pin point.
So, the musical score. There was little of someone singing the end theme, it was more dramatic like western soaps. However, the music was over dramatic for some scenes, or there was a gap when people were staring into space before the closing sequence happened. Kind of odd.
There were the usual product placements through the series, mostly the same brand of health supplements seen in other soaps. Also, some kind of vibrating bed and a food company where they send you the ingredients then make at home.
Overall, I did enjoy the show though. Certainly a memorable soap opera. It’s tough to score as some parts were a little dull but others were outstanding. So, I will be coward and don’t score it at all, just watch it.
Kim Woo Bin (김우빈) as Thunder
Thunder is the car/computer in the film. Instagram
This film is completely bonkers, in a good way.
This film had everything in it; UFOs, time travel, drama, comedy, wuxia-style fight scenes, shape-shifting robots, flying time travelling talking car, sleeper aliens planted in human brains and plenty of CGI. There wasn’t a single boring moment in the film, something was happening every minute. With so much going on a lot of credit must go not only to the actors but everyone behind the scenes, it must have been difficult to execute.
There is a good chance that any SciFi enthusiast will love it.
The negative for me was the movie moved so quickly it was quite confusing at times. Some commented that they thought the producers tried to squeeze so much in within the time allowed. I wondered if I had just missed some key elements of the plot. If at all possible I would recommend watching it at the cinema.
Asian movies always score lower points on Internet Movie Database, so it didn’t score well there but did better on Asian review sites and I agree with the latter. Can’t wait for part 2 to come out next year. It received a “critics pick” from the New York Times. I will give this movie 4.5 out of 5.
The Outlaws (범죄도시) is a Korean action movie that was released on 3rd October 2017.
The movie is based on real events in 2007 named the “Heuksapa Incident”. For a summary of this event please go to Korea JoongAng Daily.
The story is about a turf war between a local gang that runs Garibong-dong in Guro District, Seoul, and the Heuksapa gang from Yanbian, China. The Chinese gang use brutal methods and make a move to take over.
Ma Dong Seok (마동석) plays Ma Suk Do
He is the central character and adds much-needed comedy to the film. He is also one of the most popular actors in Korea. Known also by Don Lee, his nationality is American; before acting he was a personal trainer, he lived in Ohio, attended the Columbus State Community College then moved back to Korea. He made his Hollywood debut in Marvel’s Eternals. Instagram
Yoon Kye Sang (윤계상) plays Jang Chen
He is an actor and singer, he started his career in 1999 with the K-pop band g.o.d. He won the Best New Actor Award in 2005. Instagram
The movie appeared to be very popular as they have released a sequel, called The Roundup, and planning a third movie.
If it hadn’t been for the entertaining Don Lee I might have given up on this movie before the halfway point.
The violence in the movie was continuous and relentless, in fact, after a while, it became a little tedious. Even the police were violent with each other at some points. The light relief came from Don Lee, very dry sense of humour, which broke up the monotony.
The story was kind of typical for a gangster movie. Lots of fights and smashing up people and places. Evidently, it was filmed in Seoul, maybe all the seedy areas that you wouldn’t see in soap operas.
The film won 12 out of 14 awards which is amazing. I notice the awards were mainly “Best Actor”, “Best New Director”, and “Best Supporting Actor”.
So, what did I think of it? It was ok. Not really my thing. More on violence than story, I would prefer the other way round. I will give it a generous 3 out of 5.
Where To See It
Prime Video (not in Canada by the looks of it). Viki and Tubi.
Second Husband (두번째 남편) is a South Korean daily drama that aired between 9th August 2021 thru 4 April 2022.
The story revolves around Bong Seon Hwa. Going through a tough childhood she was bought up by her grandmother. She fell in love with Moon Sang Hyeok and was in a common-law relationship with him. They had a baby together. He had an affair and then married the evil Yoon Jae Kyeong who started to murder people and become involved in multiple scandals.
There are too many cast members to mention here but I will list the top ones from my perspective.
Uhm Hyun Kyung (엄현경)
Popular actress with a good track record of shows she has appeared on. The last time I saw her was on A Man in a Veil, now she has jumped ship from KBS to MBC to be the lead actress in Second Husband. She won an MBC award for her performance in this show. Instagram
Cha Seo Won (차서원)
A young actor from Busan appeared in numerous shows before but Second Husband is the first I have seen him in. He plays the new love interest for Seon Hwa, I understood he is dating Uhm Hyun Kyung – but just a rumour. He won an MBC award for his performance in this show. Instagram
“Study with me” YouTube video
Oh Seung Ah (오승아)
Talented singer and actress, she plays the evil Jae Kyeong. I understand she is the main vocalist for a group called Rainbow. She has appeared in other soap-style dramas before, this is not the first time she has played an evil character. Instagram
On “King of Masked Singer” YouTube video
Han Ki Woong (한기웅)
He has appeared in numerous TV dramas but this appears to be one of his first as the main character. He plays a more “little boy lost” character who is misled but certain people especially when there is money involved. I have seen him before in “Love to the End”. He played his part well here, a slightly downcast character even though in real life he seems very jolly. Instagram
Ji Soo Won (지수원)
She delivered a great performance as the wife who has been trying to get revenge for 30 years, she is very popular with a long list of roles. I have not seen her in other shows. Instagram
Kim Hee Jung (김희정)
I can’t believe how busy this actress is. I saw her play an evil character in A Man in a Veil. She then performed in 6 other shows before going on to Second Husband. Then, is now in two other shows. I thought her role in Second Husband was a bit subdued and the character could have developed more, however, I think that was down to the director, producers and writers. She is now in KBS soap Bravo, My Life.
Great performances by all the actors, it’s not easy being on a daily show.
Second Husband TV Show Review
The show was originally contracted for 120 episodes but since it was so popular it was extended by 30 to 150. Actually, there was a 151st episode which was just a “best moments of the show”. The show was broadcast on MBC, Monday to Friday, from 19:15 to 19:50.
It had all the elements of a typical Korean daily drama. Crazy mothers. People are supposedly dead but returning again. Revenge. Evil rich people. A gap in time between the storyline, for example – Love To The End had 6 years, A Man in a Veil had 5 years, and Second Husband had about 4 years. Cute child. Lots of Soju was consumed. Quite a few product placements, first a health supplement up to episode 120 and then a food delivery service for the rest. Pretending to be someone else. Memory loss after an accident.
The show had dramatic incidental music without words, on the whole. They had slightly different versions of that music, probably about 5 I think I counted. The album from the show was released on 16 April 2022, singles have released dates prior to that. I did note that the show and album included Trot music!
More music info here
The story kept going despite the longevity of the show, additional stories were included when it was extended. Some reviewers I noticed was complaining about the additions which made the story slow. I thought it was ok though. There were a couple of hints in the early episodes about a couple of the characters but one of them at least was done purposely to mislead or surprise the audience later.
My only criticism was the character of Seo Jun. I’m not sure if it was the actor not just getting into the role or the writers just didn’t explore his background. He seemed to be at home when he was part of the action but otherwise, the lines he was given weren’t that great.
Cha Seo Won and Uhm Hyun Kyung won the Best Actor and Actress category at the 2021 MBC Drama Awards broadcast on 30 December 2021.
I will give this a 5 out of 5, top marks. I thought this was better than A Man in a Veil. So far, this is my favourite daily melodrama.
L.U.C.A. The Beginning (루카: 더 비기닝) is a South Korean TV show that was broadcast on tvN between 1 Feb and 9 Mar 2021.
LUCA ran for 12 episodes of just over an hour each.
Ji Oh has superpowers but whenever he uses them most of his memories go away. He is chased by a mysterious sect who want to bring him home to perform further experiments in order to duplicate and clone his species.
A younger Ji Oh had spent a day in Gu Reum’s home but the day after her parents vanished. When Gu Reum grows up and becomes a detective she is determined to find out what happened to her family.
Even though the titles are familiar I’ve not seen any of the productions the actors have starred in.
Kim Rae Won (김래원) as Ji Oh
A popular actor mainly for TV rather than film work. He will be starring in a 2022 production called “The Police Station Next to Fire Station”.
Lee Da Hee (이다희) as Gu Reum
She is a model, singer, television and film actress. She is better known for her TV performances.
Kim Sung Oh (김성오) as Lee Son
A very popular actor starring in many TV and film productions, he also directed a movie called Warikkang.
Summary – Spoilers
Other people who have reviewed this drama are more or less in agreement that after episode 8 the storyline became much worse.
A group of mad scientists made Ji Oh in a laboratory, it was linked to a religious sect that used the followers to carry the clone babies until birth. A government agency was also linked to the experiments. They wanted to create a race of superior beings with the most powerful parts from animals. With Ji Oh on the run they wanted him back, to obtain his embryos. The sect would go to any length to get him back.
There was a soap opera element to this drama going on in the background. Woman meets super being, falls in love, has his baby, and so on. Then there is the action side where Ji Oh was being chased all the time and only narrowly escaping each time. The action sequences were done well, very good special effects. There would be most likely too much violence for many people in this show. Probably the lack of action and more romance put some people off the drama, after episode 8.
The ending is another story, it was a little bizarre, but left the series on a cliffhanger about a possible return. I think I was hoping for a happy ending but giving the way the script was going it was most likely impossible. I think it’s best to put this drama to sleep at this point. I did enjoy it though.
I will rate it 7/10. That is about average compared to everyone else.
The drama is available on WeTV and Viki. I don’t know what’s on WeTV but Viki procured “behind the scenes” footage which is just as interesting to watch as the drama itself.
Escape from Mogadishu (모가디슈) is a South Korean film released on 28 July 2021.
The movie is based on a true story. “Escape from Mogadishu” tells the story of personnel of the South and North Korean embassies attempting to escape Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.
In 1991, a civil war broke out in Mogadishu. The South Korean embassy’s staff and their families became isolated. One night, a group from the North Korean embassy knocks on their door asking for help.
I haven’t heard of any of the actors in this film.
Kim Yoon Seok (김윤석) plays Han Shin Sung, the South Korean Ambassador
He has appeared in mostly movies but is also a screenwriter and director.
Heo Joon Ho (허준호) plays Rim Yong Soo, the North Korean Ambassador
It looks as though his big-screen career started in 1992, and the small screen in 1993. He has appeared in many productions. Other members of his family are well-known actors as well.
All the actors did an outstanding job with this movie.
Summary – Spoilers
This was an outstanding and memorable movie.
I have to start out by saying, even though it’s based on a true story it is more “inspired by events”. The former South Korean Ambassador talked about this period in time, read about it here.
The movie cost ₩24 billion (South Korean Won) which at today’s rate (25th October 2021) is equal to GBP £14,796,900 / USD $20,362,600. From what I understand it’s made USD $29m at the box office to date. The film was delayed by about a year due to the COVID pandemic. There is an IMAX version of the film as well. The film was shot in Morocco in the second half of 2019.
I was particularly interested in the movie because a work colleague of mine was posted to Mogadishu in the 1980s, she was a Personal Assistant with the British diplomatic service. Her life there was pretty good, she had her own three-bedroom house on the beach and staff to look after her since they were cheap to hire. Hiring staff also meant putting income into the local economy where those people may not have had a job otherwise.
There was a certain vastness about the movie, it really felt as though you were taken into a city. The devastation on the streets and children carrying guns added to the realistic representation of the movie.
This was generally about the relationship between South and North Korea. When the North Korean mission comes under attack they only have one choice but to ask the South Korean’s for assistance. Both the Ambassadors, staff and families had one thing in common, to escape the city, so the two sides called a truce and worked together to figure out how they were going to get out of the country. Both the South and North had built up a relationship through their common adversities.
Parts of the film were incredibly powerful as there were some continuing tensions but how each side protected each other to achieve their common goal. It reminded me of the Christmas truce between British and German soldiers in 1914 during the 1st World War [read more (via Imperial War Museum UK].
I’ve been unable to find out information on the side actors in this film, the ones who played the Somali people. Some of them had significant roles so it would have been nice to know who they are.
There was some CGI in the movie, although at first glance it was hard to tell. The dogs were most definitely CGI. Whether some of the town was CGI I would have no idea.
I would give this movie 9/10. It’s one of those “must-see” films that wasn’t over-hyped.
Love To The End (끝까지 사랑) was an extremely popular South Korean soap opera that ran between July and December 2018.
The story is about four main characters, as follows:
Han Ka Young
A bright and positive young lady whose parents divorced after the father became bankrupt. The father now owns another company and the mother running a small restaurant. She falls in love with Yoon Jung Han who works at a glass factory.
Yoon Jung Han
The successor to the family-owned glass factory. His father has some health issues, and the mother is a little hypersensitive.
Kang Se Na
Determined to destroy the family that ruined her “adoptive” mother’s life.
Kang Hyun Ki
The successor of a large conglomerate company the owners of which are up to no good. He falls in love with Yoon Jung Han’s sister.
Lee Young Ah (이영아) as Han Ka Young
I hadn’t seen her in any other productions. She has won several awards. Gossip columnists suggested that she was dating Kang Eun Tak around the time of this production.
Kang Eun Tak (강은탁) as Yoon Jung Han
I saw him in A Man In A Veil recently, he has starred in many soap opera type series. He will be in a 50-part series starting 25th September 2021 called A Gentlemen and a Young Lady (신사와 아가씨), first venture out of soaps in a while.
Follow him on Instagram.
Hong Soo Ah (홍수아) as Kang Se Na
An actress I hadn’t seen in any other dramas. After Love To The End she also had a main role in soap Phoenix 2020, playing Lee Ji Eun. She recorded a Chinese series called Billion Dollar Heir but some experts are saying it won’t be aired, I guess we’ll see.
Shim Ji Ho (심지호) as Kang Hyun Ki
An actor whose career started in 1999 and has appeared in many regular TV drama’s as well as soap operas. I hadn’t seen him in anything else but he is very popular. He is starring in a new soap called National Wife starting in October 2021.
Follow him on YouTube, he’s a jolly fellow who is a bit of a foodie.
During the first 25% of this drama, I almost gave up on it. Everything seemed to revolve around the on/off romance between Han Ka Young and Yoon Jun Han. More off than on. However, after that was out of the way I would say the show was brilliant.
There were certain episodes that had a cliffhanger that had the viewers on edge. Episode 55 was one of them.
All the actors did a brilliant job on this show. For example, Hong Soo Ah didn’t look the part to play someone so evil but she really went to town with it. The most interesting relationship was between actor Im Jae Geun (Kang Se Na’s secretary) and Eun Hae Sung as James’s assistant K. As a side fact both Kang Eun Tak and Eun Hae Sung both speak English well.
So, this show was a welcome COVID distraction. Be patient some of the slower episodes because the drama will become more exciting. I will give it an 8.5/10.
Where To Watch
Love To The End is available on the KBS YouTube Channel, in this playlist.
Color Rush (컬러 러쉬) is a short web-based LGBTQ series from South Korea. The following contains spoilers.
Choi Yeon Woo cannot see any colors apart from those in greyscale, rarely people with such a condition can see color if connected to the right person. When Go Yoo Han, a classmate, takes his mask off, Yeon Woo can suddenly see color. This can not only open a whole new world for the color-blind person but can also lead to a dangerous obsession. They start to form a mutual bond between each other…!
In the meantime, Woo, along with his aunt, is trying to find his missing Mother who also has the same color-blind condition.
The story is adapted from the book 컬러 러쉬 (Color Rush) by Se Sang.
Each episode is around 15 minutes in duration, there is a compilation movie of the same name. There are rumours of a season two.
I hadn’t seen the two main actors in this series in any other productions although both have had decent careers.
Yoo Jun (유준) plays Choi Yeon Woo
He was an advertising model in 2009 and acting since 2012 in TV shows and movies.
Hur Hyun Jun (허현준) plays Go Yoo Han
His main career seems to have been in singing, modelling, and dancing. Color Rush was his first acting role, it seems he did a decent job with this character.
Well, where shall we start. might be best to dissect each element.
It was a good story line. The concept of how a color-blind person can cured temporarily by a certain person is more or less a medical science fiction element of the show. “Mono” in real life is short for another condition, so not to be confused with that. The story ranges from Woo not wanting to connect with Han as he is aware of the dangers a “Mono”/”Probe” relationship, to Woo learning about colors from Han, to trying to find the missing mother, and how intimate the two guys relationship is becoming. The two main characters grow as the story progresses and there are little surprises along the route.
Good performance from all the actors, I was surprised to learn it was Hur Hyun Jun’s first endeavour into that area.
The show didn’t seem to flow as well as I had hoped, not sure if that was down to the directing or the way it was split into 8 x 15-minute chunks. There wasn’t something quite right to me, can’t pinpoint it.
There were some minimal special effects in the show, the moment when Choi Yeon Woo could see color, this well done.
It was worth watching but there was something missing with the how things flowed.
Where To Watch
The show is on Viki and according to some on Apple TV.