K-Drama Couch: “Encounter” Achieves Happy Ending + “Romance Is A Bonus Book”, “Babel” & More Premiere
Three new exciting dramas have premiered this week for the second batch of 2019 Korean Dramas!
This week continues the engaging momentum of 2019 Korean dramas. Exciting new dramas are added to the list as Encounter ended its run on a sweet high note. Sky Castle continues its streak as it broke its own rating record from the previous week.
Here is the current roster of 2019 Korean dramas currently airing.
My Lawyer Mr. Jo 2 (KBS2)
Less Than Evil (MBC)
My Strange Hero (SBS)
The Crowned Clown (tvN)
Clean With Passion For Now (jTBC)
Liver or Die (KBS2)
Children of Nobody (MBC)
The Last Empress (SBS)
Spring Turns To Spring (MBC) *Premiere
A Promise to the Gods (MBC)
Fates and Furies (SBS)
Romance Is A Bonus Book (tvN) *Premiere
Babel (TV Chosun) *Premiere
Here are the highlights of this week’s airing 2019 Korean Dramas.
*Covers January 21 to January 27, 2019.
*Note: weekend and daily dramas are not included in Hellokpop’s weekly roundup coverage
MY STRANGE HERO (SBS)
Corruption in Seolsong High is finally exposed through Bok Soo’s leaked video. The school is in an uproar and Chae Min is caught in the middle of it all. He’s the prime suspect for the leaked answer sheet for the finals his mom got for him from Principal Kim. This was a desperate move to regain the top spot after Seung Woo beat him twice in the class placement exam.
To protect Bok Soo, Soo Jeong decides to break up with him first until he graduates. As Teacher Park leaves Seolsong High, the rest of the teachers doubt each other as they suspect who is guilty in bribing Myun Ho for a permanent teaching position.
As if it was nine years ago, Se Ho, Bok Soo and Soo Jeong are back on the rooftop as they watch Chae Min stand on the edge. This time, Se Ho tells Chae Min to jump.
THE CROWNED CLOWN (tvN)
Ha Seon continues to stir things up in the palace and slowly crawls his way to the Queen’s heart. After stabbing Ha Seon, the Chief Royal Secretary explains the reason to him. He is then taken back to the palace to heal. The secretary instructs the Eunuch to prevent people from seeing the King and to tell them he is recovering from a cold.
Lord Shin Chi Soo demands to see the King, only to be rebuffed. He is becoming anxious as no one is allowed inside the King’s chamber, not even his Chief Court Lady. He becomes more troubled when the Queen is allowed to enter. Inside the King’s quarters, the Queen promises to personally brew Ha Seon’s medicine after the Queen Dowager admonishes her for not taking care of the King.
The Queen reminds him about his mother’s upcoming death anniversary, and as tradition, the palace gives out rice to the people. However, the Queen points out that the palace’s rice stock is running low so the King must find a way to stock up.
Ha Seon talks to Lord Shin Chi Soo but he tells him he can’t follow the order because the rice offering has never been supplied by the Palace Supply Bureau. Every year, they ask help from local officials to supply the rice. For this year Shin Chi Soo says he can’t ask for their help because they need them more for the construction of the palace.
Ha Seon suggests postponing the construction but Shin Chi Soo reiterates the importance of having the palace reconstruction to show King’s authority and to restore people’s faith. He then mentions to order officials to gather more taxes if he truly wishes to give out rice.
After talking to the Minister of Taxation, Ha Seon is adamant to take the genius Joo Ho Geol to the palace to help them investigate the tribute system. Shin Chi Soo becomes suspicious and scolds his son for not thoroughly checking if the man is truly dead after the planned assassination of Ho Geol.
It turns out that the genius is not dead, and he is able to find evidence of embezzlement in the records. Ho Geol also reveals the identity of the man who orders his death – Shin Chi Soo’s son. As punishment, Ha Seon orders Shin Chi Soo to cane his son 100 times.
Ha Seon wants to deliver a message for his sister and uncle, and goes to the brothel house but his royal guard intercepts him. Using the Double Ninth celebration as an excuse, Ha Seon and his guard venture to the town where he meets the Queen who stops by on her way back to the palace. The two run off, and at the same time, Dal Rae is chasing after Yi Heon who manages to get out of his confinement.
CLEAN WITH PASSION FOR NOW (JTBC)
As the finale draws near, Sun Gyeol and O Sol face their biggest problem yet – the disapproval of Sun Gyeol’s grandfather. O Sol finds out who Sun Gyeol really is, so she breaks up with him. Sun Gyeol can’t accept it so his germophobia gets worse.
He gets into an accident. O Sol visits him every day as he is still in a coma, but once he wakes up, she stops going. She realizes how upset her father and brother are because of who Sun Gyeol is. The latter tries to help O Sol and her family with O Sol’s case.
WED – THU
Encounter is the kind of drama that gives you varying insights depending on your state of mind. If you have seen it in your 20’s, you might struggle with its pace. But give a time to rewatch it after a few years or maybe a few heartbreaks, and you would feel the difference.
While not tautly executed, its soothing effect and that invisible drive to support the couple’s ever-after goal draw its mesmerizing hook. As the roster of 2019 Korean dramas appear to be threading richly on “noona romance” theme, this Park Bo Gum and Song Hye Kyo starrer looks like the yardstick to beat for the succeeding dramas to follow the trend.
LIVER OR DIE (KBS2)
Hints that Poong Sang is not well physically have steadily been appearing throughout the last few episodes. Hwa Sang leaves the house and goes back to her ex-husband. Wae Sang starts to find love with Young Pil, and they become a couple. Unfortunately for Wae Sang, a coworker shows up in front of his house and tells him she’s pregnant with his baby.
Jung Sang is caught in the aftermath of the exposure of her affair with Jin Ham. The hospital wants to send her to a hospital on a faraway island. As a bargain, Jin Ham agrees to be transferred in exchange for Jung Sang to stay instead.
SPRING TURNS TO SPRING (MBC)
In a laboratory somewhere in California, a group of scientists has successfully swapped two bodies with the aid of blue and pink liquids. However, one of them is not in favor of the experiment and shoots everyone in the lab except for one. When he is about to kill the man, the lead scientist, barely hanging on to his dear life, is able to shoot him first. As the warning signal blares and authorities rush to the laboratory, the lone survivor escapes and make his way back to Korea.
Former actress Lee Bom is content to be a mother to her child and a wife of an assemblyman. She is timid and wants everything to be in order. She devotes all her energy and time to take care of her family and their household. Lee Bom is the exact opposite of aspiring anchor Kim Bom Yi, who is messy and only cares for herself.
Aiming for the 9PM News anchor position, she deliberately sabotages the closing spiel. Her stunt creates some buzz and has been a hot topic. Because of it, the program director of a quiz show celebrating its anniversary, asks his production assistant to contact Bom Yi to have her participate in the show. The assistant misheard and calls Lee Bom instead.
In a bizarre twist, Lee Bom wins the quiz show despite Bom Yi leading all throughout the contest. She harbors some anger towards Lee Bom, while the latter shows her kindness. Bom Yi manages to get the anchor position and her first day coincides with Lee Bom’s sponsored fun run. She goes there and vows to defeat Lee Bom this time.
Bom Sam, a man who hates Bom Yi, pours the liquid in bottles after Bom Il tells him it is an instant aging chemical. He gives the bottle to Bom Yi and Lee Bom snatches the other one. The women drink and their bodies switch.
Frantic, Bom Yi tells Lee Bom to act as her because its her first day as anchor. Lee Bom cries when she sees a report about a man and his mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s in the monitor.
The duo try to redo the things they did prior to the switch but nothing works. Lee Bom even lies to her husband, so she can sleep over Bom Yi’s house thinking it will help.
During her daughter’s piano competition and Bom Yi’s important meeting, their bodies switch, and both are happy. They promise not to see each other again. However on that same night, as Lee Bom takes a bath and Bom Yi is drunk, their bodies swap once again.
THE LAST EMPRESS (SBS)
Watching The Last Empress every week makes me in a staged setting of an “ajumma slumped on the floor with one leg raised sipping some beer or soju while munching dried squid”. This series shares similarities with Sky Castle, but sticking on its fictional freedom has made me root for it more.
We have a few more episodes left in the series, and the problems raised are slowly being resolved. Empress Sunny has finally acclimatized to show her claws in battling the den of villains in the palace.
The villain-with-nine-lives Min Yu Ra successfully returns to the palace pledging allegiance to Queen Regent. Stumbling on Woo Bin’s badge in Dong Shik’s possession has her order her minion to delve on Woo Bin’s identity.
Evading the people’s questions about Empress So Hyun’s death, Queen Regent explains it as suicide. To hide the fact about her secret relationship with the chief guard, they resort to revealing her cause of death as a cardiac arrest.
Empress Sunny learns from Princess Ari about Queen Regent’s plan of making her an empress. The princess also reveals the truth about the late Queen Dowager’s last will delegating all her wealth to Sunny.
Cornered with Sunny’s sudden inquiry, the Queen Regent asks Woo Bin to stage a scandal with the empress. Sunny tells Woo Bin to share the information to the Emperor so he can help them. They successfully hit Queen Regent’s reputation by picturing her of doing the same ploy that happened to Empress So Hyun.
Every week, The Last Empress is like a buffet of small stories efficiently connected to support the big picture it is threading to. It alternates good and crazy points.
The closing scene revealed the Emperor confirming his most trusted man’s feelings towards the empress. In the next three weeks, we should see how the conflicts will be resolved and who will ultimately be the last person standing in the dysfunctional royal family we can’t help but root for.
SKY CASTLE (JTBC)
Sky Castle lives another week as its finale gets cancelled because of World Cup coverage. Episode 19 saw Seo Jin’s redeeming moment as she went to the police to report about the stolen exam papers.
After a few months, Woo Joo is set free from the prison. Meanwhile Professor Cha wallows in his solitary life as his wife and children refuse to live with him anymore.
Amidst the impressive ratings this drama is getting, I am honestly not so engrossed about it. The shallow conflict, which was transformed to a big issue with web of lies and side stories adorning it, does not leave an encouraging note for me.
But I am not denying the efficient way of how the broken characters breathe life to the story. That’s what I feel on its fictional narrative treatment.
Now, since it is a satire, I’ve been trying to see through its message as a whole – since its big picture threads on how families use the resources they have to make sure their children get the best possible education for their future.
Establishing the families to be rich and influential people is making me feeling irrelevant. Because no matter what economic status a family has, all parents equally want to give their children the best education they can afford.
Are we going to castigate the rich people for splurging money for their children’s education? For that reason, I got my lessons through the standout characters and their depicted frustrations.
The drama has given a healthy dose for viewers to remain grounded and to always settle for peace of mind. For parents, it is giving ample scenarios on what they should not ask their children to do to fulfill the dreams they failed to achieve.
A PROMISE TO THE GODS (MBC)
Ji Young is reliving the nightmare of ten years ago as the doctor confirms Hyeon Woo has relapsed. She puts on a brave face and tells him he needs to stay in the hospital for treatment.
There are two possible donors for Hyeon Woo. However, he makes her promise not to allow Joon Seo to donate even if he is the last resort. Ji Young agrees half-heartedly but still goes to talk to Na Kyung.
Ji Young begs for her consent to allow Joon Seo to be a donor. Na Kyung says she needs to talk to her in-laws to get their permission as well. Min Ho also talks to Jae Wook and promises he will do anything to ensure Hyeon Woo’s safety. Jae Wook says the same thing.
Meanwhile, Jae Wook has become even colder to Na Kyung. She asks him if saving Hyeon Woo’s life is more important or his anger towards her. If he wants to be a good father to Hyeon Woo, he must talk to his father about restoring her position in the company. Jae Wook returns the challenge by telling her to sue him, because whatever happens, he will not allow his sons to be used for her personal gain.
Na Kyung takes Joon Seo on a trip. As fate would have it, Ji Young, Min Ho and Hyeon Woo are also in the same place. Jae Wook arrives later, and the two families share a meal.
Joon Seo is excited to see Hyeon Woo, and asks Ji Young if he can visit their house again because he feels happy there. Min Ho readily agrees which causes Na Kyung to snap at him. Jae Wook apologizes for Na Kyung’s behavior.
After the meal, Ji Young wants to speak to Na Kyung privately. She asks if Jae Wook’s father has agreed to her conditions and Na Kyung says her father-in-law needs written documents to make things legal.
Min Ho tells Ji Young he will do anything for Hyeon Woo even if it means sending him to his grandfather’s house. He convinces himself and Ji Young that Hyeon Woo’s physical presence is not that important because he knows they are his parents.
The next day, Min Ho goes to a court house to file a dissolution of adoption, giving up his parental rights over Hyeon Woo. He gives this to Ji Young and she brings it Na Kyung. The latter, on the other hand, gives the document to Jae Wook’s father in the hopes to gain back his favor.
Later that night, the older man is wide awake thinking about how Na Kyung is able to secure the papers. His wife tells him that there must be a good reason why Min Ho did what he did, despite him giving up on having Hyeon Woo in the family registry.
In the morning, he goes to Jae Wook’s office and hands him the document. Jae Wook reveals Hyeon Woo’s condition and his father is now even more angry at Na Kyung because of her scheme.
FATES AND FURIES (SBS)
The secrets are out for this week’s episode of Fates and Furies.
Jung Ho and his mom succeed in their scheme to oust In Joon from the Gold Group. However, they take it one step further by also framing him for what Jung Ho did to Hae Ra’s older sister Hyun Joo.
Unfortunately for Hae Ra, Sun Young dies after being chased by Sung Sook’s men, taking the evidence she got from their home with her. Sung Sook plants a picture of In Joon talking to Hyun Joo outside their home, further fueling Hae Ra’s suspicions.
In Joon is sentenced to two-year imprisonment, and upon orders of Soo Hyun, Tae O visits him in jail and tells him about everything. Meanwhile, Hae Ra and Chang Soo discover that Jung Ho is behind it all, and the actual culprit is not In Joon. To be able to make things right, Hae Ra becomes the president of Gold Shoes.
ROMANCE IS A BONUS BOOK (tvN)
Romance Is A Bonus Book already pre-announced it is not going to be shallow on its approach to blend romance and comedy. Read our premiere recap to see how the story is developing.
BABEL (TV Chosun)
What I liked about the premiere episode is that it lulls the viewers into a certain belief and then turns around to destroy that belief in the next few seconds. The mystery behind Woo Hyuk and the Tae family caught my attention and got me excited for the next episode.
Babel started strong with its pilot episode, and I can only hope it can keep up the high excitement and riveting storyline.