K-Drama Couch: Thrilling Cliff-Hangers Highlight “The Last Empress”, “Memories Of The Alhambra” & “Sky Castle”
Story trajectories for the first batch of 2019 Korean dramas which we’ve been covering are heating up to a highly addictive pace.
As 2018 K-Drama season nears its waning moment, the runs of the 2019 Korean dramas which our team has been covering are warming us well. Things are definitely heating up in K-drama land as most dramas have already passed their defining mid-point.
Note: Covers episodes from December 17-23 of the first batch of 2019 Korean Dramas.
Currently Airing K-Dramas
MONDAY-TUESDAY Korean Dramas
MY STRANGE HERO (SBS)
This week, our story began to evolve as Se Ho, Soo Jeong and Bok Soo are all back in Seolsong High School. After being lauded as a hero, Bok Soo accepts the invitation to return to school. Unfortunately for Soo Jeong, she is assigned as his homeroom teacher. Se Ho is appointed as the new school chairman, and he vows to change the direction of the school under his reign.
We started to see more snippets of what exactly happened nine years ago. We found out that Bok Soo jumped to save Se Ho from falling. But he neatly framed Bok Soo by screaming at him to save him, and yet he pushed Bok Soo’s hands away.
Young Min, the boy whom Soo Jeong jumped into the river with, is being bullied by his classmates. He locks himself in the Ivy Class glass booth. The teachers crowd around him and beg for him to come out but he refuses. Se Ho is conducting a school tour at the same time, and they all watch the commotion. Bok Soo comes out of nowhere and shatters the glass door with the chair. The parents are furious and demand for Bok Soo to be expelled immediately.
TALE OF FAIRY (TVN)
After seven weeks, Tale of Fairy spilled all the beans about the three fairy friends life in fairy realm, and how the banished two fairies’ reincarnated lives entangled with Fairy Seon. Geum, finally getting all the visions that made him remember his life as the woodcutter husband of Fairy Seon, rushes to Mt. Gyeryong to reunite with his family. Jeom Dol finally hatches through Geum’s touch, and Fairy Seon learns that Geum is her husband. (At long last!)
Professor Jung’s memories has also resurfaced, and we also got the back story of what happened between the three friends in fairy realm.
Izy (Professor Jung in present time) and Dubhe (Kim Geum) are close friends in Fairy realm. The latter harbors love towards Alkaid (Fairy Seon). Dubhe reported Izy’s unstable meddling in human world to the head fairy. Hence, the latter was banished. Dubhe also left the fairy world (reason not yet revealed), and has lived as a human since then. His halted romance with Alkaid continues in his human form as the woodcutter.
The cryptic deer (also Izy’s spirit) leads Geum to a waterfall, where the latter retrieves another memory of him betraying his close friend when he was a fairy. Wounded Professor Jung appears just then, and blazes the waterfall with fire. Fairy Seon also arrives, and the three friends reunite with their past lives memories.
I honestly just want Tale of Fairy to finish. I will reserve all what I have to say in the full review. The series are by far the most challenging drama task I have to endure. For the record, it is not a bad drama, the intention was and is there, but the execution somehow requires viewers to watch it on a binge to get the whole picture to understand its message. It really has its own problems on how messy the storytelling is.
JUST DANCE (KBS2)
Running for a month only, Just Dance took advantage and made the most out of its coming-of-age theme. Focusing on Lee Shi Eun and how she has built friendship with girls who formed Dance Sports Club, the story has delicately switched to emotional outburst picturing the heroine’s relationship with her mother.
It’s amazing how I found myself tearing up and laughing at its lively pace, so much so that I could happily send off the characters and their stories.
CLEAN WITH PASSION FOR NOW (JTBC)
As we approach the midway point of the drama, we’re still watching as Sun Gyeol dances around his feelings for Oh Sol. After their kiss, he cruelly turns her down, and tells her that he has no interest in dating anyone. Choi Gun continues to be the kind next-door neighbor to her. Despite his feelings for her, he patiently listens as she talks about her confusion with Sun Gyeol.
Even after Sun Gyeol apologizes for what he said to Oh Sol that day, she still keeps her distance from him. She tells him that she thinks he’s obnoxious, because he plays with her feelings.
Oh Sol and Sun Gyeol find out Choi Gun’s true identity. Sun Gyeol witnesses Choi Gun’s confession to O Sol as well. It takes awhile for Choi Gun to convince O Sol that he really likes her and wants to protect her.
So far, the progress of the story seems to be too slow for me. At this point, I’m beginning to root for Choi Gun more, because Sun Gyeol seems to be too immersed in himself that I can’t really find myself wanting to see him with O Sol. Also, he’s treating her too shabbily that I’m really feeling bad for her. Hopefully the rest of the drama will move faster, and be able to win me over in favor of Sun Gyeol.
FEEL GOOD TO DIE (KBS2)
As Lee Roo Da’s sister and colleagues mourn her death, Baek Jin Sang finally realizes all the things he did wrong. He visits the security guard’s daughter and apologizes to her. Viewers were also given a preview of what had truly happened between her and Baek Jin Sang. While crying at her bedside, all the hateful and hurtful words disappear from her diary.
The time has been reset to the day when the time loop first happened. But this time, only Baek Jin Sang knows about it. Lee Roo Da finds his actions weird, and tells him to wake up. On the night when the fire takes place, Baek Jin Sang goes to save the guard’s daughter from her burning apartment.
I really was not worried when they “killed” Lee Roo Da, because I know the time loop will come to play. Now that the drama is coming to an end, it is going to be so interesting how Baek Jin Sang convinces Lee Roo Da to remember all that transpired between while both of them were caught in the time loop.
CHILDREN OF NOBODY (MBC)
Red Cry is on a mission to punish all child abusers. When the mother of Cha Woo Kyung’s former patient admitted to abusing her daughter, Red Cry goes after her. It becomes a wild goose chase as Ji Heon and Soo Young try to apprehend Red Cry.
Meanwhile, Min Ha Jung contacts Woo Kyung, and requests a meeting with her and her daughter Bit Na. Clearly disgusted by her actions, she apologizes to her daughter, but also requests not to forgive her.
Thinking that Red Cry will be at the Café where Woo Kyung and Min Ha Jung are, the two detectives go there. As the woman excuses herself to go to the bathroom, Woo Kyung senses she is going to do something else. So she gets up and search for her. She finds the mother reading a message from Red Cry on her cellphone that reads, “Are you Judging yourself?”. She looks at Woo Kyung, smiles, and leaps to her death.
At that exact moment, Ji Heon and Soo Young arrive. Bit Na also sees her mother’s lifeless body on the ground. While the detectives and the daughter are in shock, her cellphone continues to receive messages from Red Cry, encouraging her to take action.
Now that the relationship is in the open with Jin Hyuk and Soo Hyun getting the first dose of many more to come in, their relationship problem is expected.
I look forward to their love journey, but I also worry that there’s not much room to spin on for the characters and the plot to move given the trite conflict established in the series.
Encounter has worked on the reversal of roles to the fullest. But relying on it while working on the pictured problem to be tackled by the main leads can make or break the flow of the series.
THE LAST EMPRESS (SBS)
Always leaving on a strong note each week, the outmaneuvering showdowns of the heroes and villains ensued, crossing the halfway mark of the series.
“Who killed Grand Empress Dowager?” spanned the story this week, with Empress Sunny finally learning about the monstrous deeds of the emperor she married. Queen Mother, the Emperor, and Min Yu Ra have also formed an alliance to pin Empress Sunny as the murderer.
But Chief Byun (father of the Emperor’s first wife) has been helping her together with Woo Bin. After gaining the upper hand by releasing the video recordings of her husband’s infidelity, Sunny secured mass sympathy from the people, demanding explanation to the Emperor’s uncalled for act.
The Royal family abducts her and her family, and forced her to sign a document which she forcedly agreed to keep her family safe. The Empress’ revelation dents public trust so to up his public image, and a documentary to show his human side is underway. But Empress Sunny steals the scene by declaring to forego the Emperor’s mistake, and starts a new chapter with him again.
I must admit that no matter how chaotic this dysfunctional fictional royal family is, I am immensely enjoying the modernized way of those period drama conspiracy cliches staple to contending members of the royal family.
The quick pace and amazing cast portrayals can be attributed to its strong following. Looking forward to what Sunny’s trump card is and what befitting closure the villains will achieve, I am bracing to a more riveting second half for The Last Empress.
GOD’S QUIZ REBOOT (OCN)
God’s Quiz Reboot has been consistent with providing me those CSI feels every week. My frustrations over not becoming a police detective are being fulfilled by watching this drama.
This week, Sang-Pil victimizes a group of high executives in a room of a closed restaurant. The team finds gold in their systems, but only after they receive the tips from the press; whoever is responsible has leaked the information to the media.
The story is starting to revolve more closely around the leads as Sang-Pil closes in on them. As we approach the midpoint of the drama, we’re getting closer to finding out more about Young Sil also. We can’t wait to tune in for more next week.
Friday-Sunday Korean Dramas
SKY CASTLE (Fri-Sat/JTBC)
After learning the truth about her birth father, Hye Na starts getting close to his children, and even asks Seo Jin to be Ye Bin’s tutor. But Seo Jin refuses even when Coach Kim suggests the same.
From a high note, since achieving the goal to make Ye Seo become the school president, Seo Jin’s ploy to stop Soo Im’s novel about Young Jae’s family backfires as Soo Im inadvertently reveals the lie which Seo Jin told about her past.
Seo Jin’s proud admittance of her humble family background causes disturbance to Ye Seo’s mental health, eventually causing her drop to fourth place in the final exams. Hye Na places first, while Woo Joo follows second. Seo Jin seeks Coach Kim’s office, and finally relents to the suggestion to let Hye Na live in the house.
I am curious to find out Hye Na’s motive in getting close to her estranged father’s family, as we see how she is also manipulating situations, even using Woo Joo to tick Ye Seo, who obviously likes the former.
We thought we were clear with the definition of home-wrecker until Coach Kim introduced herself in Sky Castle families. Her thirst to break families apart, I hope, would be explained in the future episodes.
Thankfully this drama seems not to drag on the disheartening themes depicted in its narrative. Because even now, I am struggling of what the lingering message it is trying to impart aside from the saddening “rich people” problems.
A PROMISE TO THE GODS (SAT/MBC)
I can’t express enough how much I love this drama. Each week, A Promise to the Gods gives viewers a reason to tune in and wait for the next episodes.
After getting in her car and driving off to meet Jae Wook, Ji Young stops and contemplates. She realizes that no matter how sorry she is for belatedly knowing what happened, she can no longer change their situation. She ends up not meeting Jae Wook.
Meanwhile, Jae Wook’s sister is plotting her revenge against their father. She convinces Jae Wook to have her son take over the Smart City project. Jae Wook is surprised to learn that his nephew graduated with honors from an Ivy League school. At the same time, their father is getting more curious about Hyeon Woo, and decides to meet him.
Hyeon Woo finally knows who his biological father is, and confronts Jae Wook. He rebuffs him and asks him the reason why he left him and his mother. Jae Wook accepts his son’s tirade and apologizes. Grandfather and son meet, and the elder convinces Hyeon Woo to stay with them.
Ji Young and Min Ho are still unaware of Hyeon Woo’s bruises. As his condition worsens, Hyeon Woo agrees to stay with his father. He makes his grandfather promise to take care of his parents. Regardless if he lives up to his expectations or not, Ji Young is against the idea of Hyeon Woo living with Jae Wook. However, Min Ho convinces her that it is about time Hyeon Woo knows of his family on his father’s side.
MEMORIES OF THE ALHAMBRA (SAT-SUN/TVN)
We know there is a bigger picture attached to the narrative direction of Memories of the Alhambra,and with four weeks before the culminating point, I can’t help but fear if time will be enough to achieve a gratifying closure. By now, there are a lot needed to be revealed, with possibly more that can even be added.
While I have been drawn mostly on its ingenious plot, the noticeable emotional layers have been bringing soul to the main leads of the story. Incidentally, it is also creating a ripple of engrossing story bends.
After the death of Father Moon, Ham Eun Ho and Oh Soo Min meet with Sister Hae Min. The nun offers to restore their erased memories, and we learned that the two had a romantic past.
Eun Ho was possessed by the evil entity that she accidentally released from the mother-of-pearl box. Fearing for her life and still haunted by his mother’s possession, Oh Soo Min begs Father Moon to perform the exorcism. He also agrees to have both of their memories erased.
Now that both remember their past, they become awkward with each other, but they are able to get over it. Meanwhile, Sister Hae Min takes over 634 Regia even though Father Moon states he wants Soo Min to lead the group.
According to the nun, she is in doubt of Oh Soo Min’s commitment now that he knows his past. Soo Min insists he would keep his vow.
On the day Eun Ho is about to leave for Venezuela, she tries to talk to him for the last time. However, she is unable to reach him. She realizes she can’t go without talking to Soo Min. At the place where they first met, she tells Father Soo Min that she wants him to be by her side. Even if they can’t go back to their previous relationship.
If possession and exorcism are not creepy enough, Priest has gone further, adding voodoo to the evil mix. Week five of the drama has had a lot of things going on. It is getting more interesting as the viewers are left with a glimpse that there is someone eager to unleash the demon inside the mother-of-pearl box.
abbyinhallyuland covers Tale of Fairy, The Last Empress, Just Dance, Sky Castle, Encounter, and Memories of the Alhambra.
Emylyn covers Feel Good to Die, Children of Nobody, Priest and A Promise To The Gods.
Nicole covers God’s Quiz Reboot, Clean With Passion For Now, Fates and Furies, and My Strange Hero.