Wednesday, July 30, 2014

So You Wanna Watch Some Kdramas? Time Travel Dramas

A slightly less used, but still pretty common situation involves time travel. As a huge fan of Doctor Who, I quite enjoy these dramas, especially when they follow time travel rules and don't use it merely as a device.

So, here are some recommendations of dramas that involve time travel.

Rooftop Prince- In the midst of investigating the murder of his beloved wife, the Crown Prince of the Joseon Dynasty is transported 300 years in to the future to modern day Seoul, where he meets a plucky, independent, young girl. He brings along 3 trusted sidekicks, and their adaptation to the modern world results in a lot of hilarity and also chaos, especially when it is discovered that the Crown Prince strongly resembles a chaebol (CEO or corporate bigwig's son, who is rich and will have a big inheritance) who's been missing for 2 years. A cute, adorable and hilarious drama.

20 Episodes, about 1 hour each. Some silly subplot things, a few work, but some just drag the story a tiny bit. But you're here for the adorable, not so much the story.

Faith (The Great Doctor)- A refreshing drama in that it actual doesn't involve the Joseon Dynasty (as almost all historical/time travel dramas do), but the earlier Goryeo Dynasty. The Queen is mortally wounded, so the king's best bodyguard goes to a mysterious and legendary place called "Heaven's Door" in hopes of meeting the "Great Doctor" that supposedly exists beyond it. The door turns out to be a portal that brings him to modern day Seoul, where he meets and kidnaps a plastic surgeon and brings her back in time to save the queen. Unable to return home until the mysterious gate opens again, she gets involved in the tumultuous political climate. This one stars one of my favorite actors, Lee Min Ho.

It's a little long (24 episodes) and gets quite political, but the relationships are quite interesting and fun to watch. Plus, the lead female's fish out of water situation is quite funny. It also has great fight scenes.

Queen In Hyun's Man- This drama is my hands down favorite time travel drama, as well as one of my favorite overall dramas to date. The story features a Joseon Dynasty scholar who supports Queen In Hyun, whom the king dethroned in favor of his mistress. His close friend gives him a talisman to protect him as he gets involved in political turmoil. In the midst of dire, life threatening situations, he is transported to modern day Seoul.  There, he meets an unknown actress who just caught her big break in a new historical drama: playing Queen In Hyun herself! She becomes the only person he can trust and confide in in this new, strange world. Cute rom com situations follow, but our scholar discovers that the use of the talisman comes with a price.

This drama has kept me begging for more and has had me on the edge of my seat since day 1. It had me saying "oh, just one more episode!" well past my bedtime, and it had me cringing, crying, laughing and squealing in the same episode. The chemistry of the main couple is sizzling, longing and beautiful.  It utilizes time travel in its story incredibly (and sometimes frustratingly) well. It also features one of the best kdrama kisses I have ever seen.

16 episodes (45 min each, which is really nice)

Pick of the list: Queen In Hyun's Man. If you're going to only watch one, my vote goes to this fabulous story. Either you watch the other two first, or be forever ruined by the perfection that is QIHM, because no other time travel dramas quite reach its level of awesome. Of the 3, it utilizes time travel the most, and to me, the best. It's also the shortest, so each episode really counts, and there aren't too many stupid filler sub plots. It focuses pretty well on the main couple and conflict.

All 3 are pretty decent dramas, though, so if you like time travel and the hilarity that ensues, check these out!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Preparations, End of the Semester, and Das Musical Mozart!

Well hello there everyone!

This was an eventful week and I have lots to say, so this one is gonna be a pretty long post. 

Well, summer vacation is nearly upon me. School finished up this week, and I just have 9 days of camp left before I can be freeeeeeeee. For a little while. And Cesca will be here soon! Soooo, that means that this week was a busy one, with final prep for camp, me teaching classes alone, and gathering things for Cesca's arrival. I have many, many stories to tell!

Most of the other teachers were finished early this week, so one of them made snack bags for everyone haha.

We also had some good lunches this week.

Bulgogi day is the best day at lunch!!!

One of my 6th graders gave me jellybeans.

So yes, in the midst of camp prep and an easy week, I had one monumental task: teaching 5th grade alone. Everyone was surprised I was still teaching them, since it was late in the week- Thursday. Thankfully, I had to teach a reading class, which is pretty easy to teach, but relatively boring for them, since they just have to, you know, keep reading things. 

I also had to teach them intonation. It's really
hard to naturally intonate when you're thinking
about it.... Try reading these and see if they
sound natural...

That being said, it actually went pretty well. 5th grade has a decent level of English, and I have a handful of students who can translate for me if necessarily. The hardest thing was keeping them quiet. I was tired and my throat was sore by the end of the day, but I feel accomplished, since I taught an actual lesson (not just review) on my own. When I came back to the office, I was a little late because the last class is the wildest, so all of the other teachers had already pretty much finished eating. A bunch of them said "Oooh, poor Christina! Are you ok? You had to teach by yourself, you must be so tired!" Which I was, but it was all ok. That's what coffee is for. And I was laughing inside, because everyone else ALWAYS teaches alone. Granted, they don't usually have as many classes as I do, and they speak the same language, but still. 

The kids were also nervous to just have me, but they did really well, and I'm as proud of them as I am myself. It was a good week, teaching wise. 

Since it was also the end of the semester, on Wednesday, we had a final teacher's bonding activity, this time with the whole school. While the principal had wanted to go on another overnight trip, almost everyone voted for an after school activity. And because one of the teachers knew someone on the production staff, we ended up going to see Das Musical Mozart!

The show is all in Korean, adopted from the Austrian musical, which is sung in German (there is legitimately no English version of this musical). Apparently, it's pretty popular in Korea- there was a production in 2010, another in 2012, and a newly imagined version, this one, in 2014. 

It was all in Korean, a realization which dawned on everyone as we were leaving school for the show. I heard like 3 people mention me, and my co teacher even asked, "So, will you be able to understand the show?"  I told them all I would be fine. The music teacher walked up to me after and said, "Maybe you didn't understand the words?" I told her I didn't understand it at all (really, I didn't), but it was ok, because I liked listening to the music anyway. 

Musicals in Korea often use idols as stunt casting, but most of them are actually amazing singers. We happened to catch a performance with a musical theater veteran:

Posing with our Mozart, Im Tae Kyung

screens on the chairs for when they have
non Korean productions. no English subtitles
tho :(

Giant pipe organ!

The story wasn't what I was expecting. The most I know about Mozart comes from the movie Amadeus, which was focused on Salieri, Mozart's 'rival.' This one focused more on Mozart's own struggles with his family, the aristocracy and his own personality, which was frivolous and naive.  I couldn't understand the words, but I could tell poor Mozart got duped and frustrated throughout the show, but also that he was a pretty careless and extravagant guy.

The most interesting aspect of the show was the presentation of Mozart vs his genius. A child version of Mozart looms throughout the show, embodying the genius of the musician. It is the child that constantly produces the music, while Mozart struggles with the politics of the time and his desire to be free from all of his obligations. 

As the show goes on though, Mozart's genius becomes more demanding, and eventually ends up tormenting Mozart. 

In this scene from an earlier version, the genius stabs Mozart
and uses his blood to write the music.

Yeah, apparently Mozart had dreadlocks in the older version of this show... I definitely enjoy the new direction better...

2014 version, where Mozart fights against his genius and the
confines it has placed on him. He gets more crazy in the 2nd act,
trading his proper coat and wig for a more rocker haircut
and an emo black coat
Eventually, the politics, Mozart's extravagant lifestyle, his enemies, his loneliness (his loved ones have died or left him) and his genius overwhelm him; after the success of The Magic Flute, Mozart is commissioned to write a Requiem. Exhausted and abandoned by everyone he loves, he begs the genius inside of him to set him free. The genius complies, and the show ends with Mozart's death.  

But the actors seem to have a good relationship. CUTE!

The show was a little long for my taste, but the music was AWESOME. Very Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera-esque, which I wasn't expecting. But we all know how much I love ALW, so I really enjoyed it. It was a nice mix of classical sound with the edge brought on by electric guitars and belting. Seriously, each song was like a power ballad. In fact, it may have had a few too many "let me sing about my feels" ballads from each of the characters, which happens when it's a show about someone's life, I suppose. Mozart sure had a lot of "whyyyyy is *insert problem here* happening" songs. But they were all enjoyable to listen to.

This show is also a big first for me in my theater viewing. You all know I see shows a lot, but this was the first time that the show was actually stopped midway through. In the midst of a big song, the microphones all just cut out suddenly. Because the actors can project, we could faintly hear them, but admittedly, I thought I had suddenly lost my hearing or something in the middle of the show haha. Until I heard other people start to murmur and react, I was like "Omg, did something happen to my ears? Why can't I hear!?!?"

After about 15 minutes, the show was back on. Poor Im Tae Kyung felt so bad about it that he made a speech at curtain call, saying that in his 10+ years performing, this has never happened. He asked us to please accept his apology (I understood that part) did a deep apology bow, the kind where you get down on your knees and press your forehead to the ground. He apologized again and again, and even got a little choked up. I felt so bad!

It was kind of interesting as well, because, as I told Young Ah, in America, we would just kind of say "Oh well, haha, that's live theater for you! You never know what will happen!" And then they'd move on, even if they were mortified. 
The advertising for the show is pretty cool, in my opinion

I headed back on Saturday, not to see the show, but because I wanted some merchandise. Annoyingly, I misread the bus map and got on the wrong bus, so I had to rush to the theater and got there with minutes to spare (they don't sell during the show). The lady kind of scolded me since the show was starting, but I told her, in Korean, that I had seen the show on Wednesday, but I didn't have time to buy anything because it was a school trip. She seemed slightly less miffed after that, probably because I spoke Korean. And may have looked deranged and out of breath. Whatever.

So I snapped a few pictures while I had the chance.

This is Park Hyo Shin, a famous singer in Korea.
. His vocals, from what I've heard from Young Ah, are
quite impressive. I kinda wish I could see him.

This is Im Tae Kyung, who we saw Wednesday.
He's had a long and illustrious career. I dig
his hair.

I liked it so much that I went back Saturday and got the
soundtrack and program. The CD is from 2010, but the same
guy performed the role of Mozart, so that's good!

I also got a card advertising Das Musical
Rebecca. Apparently, German/Austrian/lesser
known musicals are popular here!

TL/DR: The show was great, I loved the music and it was a musical theater first for me to have the show stop midway through. 

We went out to dinner after. Young Ah had to leave early, and during a string of speeches I inexplicably found myself up at the mic in front of 50+ Koreans. I totally blanked, so all I said was, in Korean, "Hello, I can't speak Korean well," (this got the most applause I've ever had for saying Hello and a simple sentence in any langauge), "I will study hard!" and then I said "Thank you," in English and high tailed it out of there. I felt bad for not saying much, but I just panicked a little bit. Looking back, I should have said "I'm happy to be here for another year," but alas, I forgot. My co workers were very supportive though. I got applause and a big thumbs up from my table. 

Hae In was at the 6th grade table, which
was close to the mic. She said I did fine
and everyone thought it was cute.

The next day, young ah just laughed
and said I probably impressed
everyone with my Korean

Despite my embarrassment and mortification, I enjoyed the evening. 

In other news, I'm getting ready for Cesca to come! This has been the process so far!

The pillows arrived vacuum wrapped, and at first I thought I had ordered the wrong thing, haha.

ta da! All poofed up!

 I got excited and bought new pillowcases as well. This decision took me much longer than I thought. Too many pretty pillowcases!

All ready for my house guest!!

I'm also doing well in my Korean class. I even got a perfect score on a reading and writing test! To be fair, Young Ah did look it over, but she only had minimal corrections! I'm still a beginner, but I'm understanding more and feeling better. Gotta study hard for the next year, and I may be decent by then!

My Korean teacher gave my chocolates
from Starbucks as congratulations!

They're yummy!

So I of course texted Young Ah

And here are the random other pictures I took this week while I was doing stuff. 

Graffiti on the way to school

graffiti on the way to school

We went to see this film festival Friday in
Bucheon, a satellite city of Seoul. It was,
uh, an interesting film. 


Saying hi to Sejong, since I had to stop by
the Sejong Center for the Performing
Arts to see Mozart!

Iris also filmed in this plaza.
It was a pretty good show

New phone case!

Some sort of Sprite sponsored super soaker
festival was happening this weekend. I
avoided it.

Lauren and I went for BBQ. YUM.

FYI, yes, this is how expensive deodorant is here. ON SALE.

Foot mask time! Spa night!

Sometimes Lauren and I text at 2 am about
dramas. She just finished Queen In Hyun's
Man, which is one of my top dramas EVER

So, there's that. A full week with lots to tell you. Thanks for sticking with me guys! Hope you all have an awesome week! Wish me luck for my English Camp! I have to teach alone. Eeeek!

Here's a song from a group I haven't talked about as much, CNBlue. Young Hwa is in a lot of dramas, and their music is awesome. I loooove this song; it's been stuck in my head all week!

Aaaand if you're curious about what Das Musical Mozart! sounds like, here's a performance from the Korean Musical Awards, in 2010, back when Mozart had dreads... But yeah, you can hear the rock-operaness.

This isn't the guy I saw, but he is also sharing the role in the 2014 production.

I clearly am not good at Korean, but I think the song is about Mozart wondering what he should do and how  he can control his fate. Please note scary child genius thing STABBING HIM. This is the scene where Mozart begins to fight against his genius, and we see that it has turned dark and is beginning to consume him.

Honestly, if I had the time and it wasn't so long, I'd totally see it again. It was a really great show. Especially now that I actually understand what happened.