I have sort-of reviewed one Korean drama – Queen In-Hyun’s Man – but I’m a regular kdrama watcher. I also converted one of my colleagues and she’s learning Korean as a result, so I must say it’s high time my blog reflected my love of foreign TV production. So I’m using the lazy Sundays to feature my favourite kdramas. 😀
I’m extremely picky about what I watch so the number of dramas I finish varies largely each year. There are times when nothing catches my eye and I go dry for months and there are times when I can’t wait to get new episodes of several dramas at once. Not speaking the language the wait for subtitles could be maddening but quality fan-subbers have fixed that with legal sites like Viki and Dramafever. There’s so much content there you could watch it for years.
I got hooked by contemporary dramas with crazy amount of humour and great romance then veered into historical drama only to return back to my initial genre this year. I must say 2015 has turned out really good in terms of quality and appeal.
Genre: romance, comedy
Broadcast network: tvN
Link: Twenty Again (Wikipedia article)
Ha No-ra once dreamed of becoming a dancer, but she unexpectedly became pregnant at age 19 and had to quit school and get married. For the next two decades, her life revolved around being a housewife and mother. Now 38 years old and on the brink of divorce, No-ra is mistakenly diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and given a six-month prognosis. So she decides to go back to school and experience college life for the first time. Among the incoming freshmen are her own 20-year-old son Kim Min-soo and his girlfriend Oh Hye-mi, who are horrified to have No-ra as their classmate. Unbeknownst to No-ra, her intellectual snob husband Kim Woo-chul recently accepted a job teaching psychology at the same university, and her prickly theater arts professor turns out to be Cha Hyun-seok, who had a crush on No-ra in high school.
Twenty Again is a contemporary drama with super funny characters and plotline. I laughed so many times this became my pick-up watch when I felt even slightly down or tired. I just loved it despite some minor stuff I nitpick about but that’s really irrelevant to the big picture. I loved it and I heartily recommend it to everyone.
As the summary tells us the drama manages to turn a very serious misdiagnosis and ensuing miscommunication into comedy gold and the way various characters react to the information is simply fabulous. Later hijinks between No-ra, Kim Woo-chul, and Cha Hyun-seok make this a must watch.
No-ra is a character whose side you’re on from the very start. She’s just this kind woman who is utterly crushed by her husband. She believes she can fix her marriage by becoming smarter and getting her high school diploma – Kim Woo-chul had said they could work only if they could actually converse with one another after all. All is in vain though because he already has a plan in sight and because he’s a narcissist of the highest order. When No-ra serves him the textbook definition of a narcissistic personality I cracked up so hard I had to pause the episode to calm down. That was awesome and the entire drama is filled with these moments when you just cheer on a character or laugh like mad at their expressions. The music and sound effects only enhance this as is expected of kdramas.
No-ra decides to do things her way when she believes she’s dying thereby utterly shocking everyone who never knew her high-school self. The melt-downs of her husband and son once they realise she’s going to their university are hilarious. So this drama is about No-ra finding her strength and building up a new life. Instrumental to all this is her past friend Cha Hyun-seok.
He is still bitter about the abrupt way Nora left school to follow her husband to Germany but he’d be satisfied if her life turned out great. Instead he finds an overly timid woman so unlike his spunky, full-of-life friend (and crush) that bitterness gets the better of him and he turns into a jerk around her. You understand his frustration if not his actions but he utterly redeems himself for any harsh word by championing Nora. He finds a way to make her every dream on her list of things to do before dying come true and later on pushes her to regain her confidence, even fighting to fix her marriage not knowing it is already over. He still loves her so he tries to build up her confidence again, moonlighting as her guardian angel although No-ra is resourceful enough on her own most of the time. You can’t help yourself but be utterly in love with him. 😀
The story moves smoothly between the past and present as No-ra slowly starts to evaluate events from a new perspective. She takes a long hard look at her life and compares it to what other students are going through. She forges new friendships among them despite the huge age-difference. Some of the things they come up with are both poignant and heart-warming. Her new experiences and the reawakening of the old No-ra make her more aware of the needs of her son, mending their relationship. I just loved that kid once he opened his eyes and realised what a great mom he had.
Other characters undergo personal growth as well and that is why I rate this drama so high – it isn’t just about the main characters, it’s about everyone No-ra touches. She’s the central point but the people orbiting around her play their role. She is a catalyst to so many transformations and through her we also get a glimpse of university life in Korea and the problems students face once this time is over and job hunting takes centre stage. It’s a drama about family, marriage, but also friendship and staying true to oneself.