Gu Family Book: Foxy Korean Fantasy Drama Charms Audiences

Number one in Nielsen, Gu Family book
Lee Seung Gu, hit star Korean Actor Gu Family Book

Lee Seung Gi and Bae Suzy stir up plenty of romantic chemistry in the hit Korean Drama Gu Family Book.

By Tabrez

Gu Family Book (also known as: Ancient Medical Book / The Writings of Nine Houses / Book of the House of Gu / Kang Chi, the Beginning)
Ratings and Review: 9 out of 10

It’s always a sure bet that Lee Seung Gi star billing will draw substantial audiences, and with over 20 episodes aired, Gu Family Book  moved to first place in the Seoul ratings according to AGB Nielsen. The hot star plays a half fox, half human semi-supernatural being, Kang Chi, who grows up thinking he’s a human. With a lesser actor, such a premise might have resulted in 3rd or 4th in the ratings, typical for a fantasy. Fox stories (think, werefox or half spirit, or magical creature) are not new to Korean drama, nor is Lee Seung Gi, who played in the hit drama My Girlfriend is a Nine Tailed Fox. Lee Seung Gi also sings many of the songs on the amazing soundtrack.

Watch clips of some romantic scenes from Gu Family Book to the OST MV] 더원(The One) _ Best Wishes to you(잘 있나요)(Kangchi, the Beginning(구가의 서)OST Pt.6):

Gu Family Book engages with a lively pace, and a unique combination of fantasy, action, historic tapestry, and romance (plenty of romance, but no kiss until episode 17), all beautifully interwoven. This is a hopelessly endearing and charming drama.

Synopsis
Kang Chi (Lee Seung Gi) is convincing as a charming, mythical creature with special powers. His father is thousand years old gumiho mountain spirit named Gu Wol Ryung. Abandoned by his human biological mother, he is adopted by another human, played by Lee Yeon Hee. As part of a subplot, she is the daughter of a Yangban killed for the treason.

Number one in Nielsen, Gu Family book

Lee Seung Gi, always charming with his famous trademark smile, helped bring Gu Family Book to number one in the Nielsen Ratings in Korea.

Kang Chi, found floating in a river by the Park family grew up oblivious of his magical heritage, apparently a human child, unaware of his heredity or special nature for twenty years. Oblivious, he lived his life under the care of Park Moo Sol, the righteous owner of 100 Year Inn.

His life changes with the arrival of a stranger at the inn. Suddenly, Kang Chi’s life is swept up in a tsunami of mysteries. In a twist, Kang Chi was forced to be under the protection of his father’s slayer Pyung Joon. A dramatic incident helps Kang Chi realize his his half human-half fairy creature.

Gu Family book starring Lee Seung Gi

Lee Seung Gi, uses is foxy good looks to play a half fox (supernatural creature)-half human in the inventive fantasy-romance Korean Drama Gu Family Book.

Progress Review

Gu Family Book maintained high quality and garnered rave reviews with each episodes, steadily growing from 7th place in episode one to 1st at episode 20 in the Nielsen Ratings. Romantic tensions between Kang Chi (Lee Seung Gi) and  Dam Yeo Wool (Bae Suzy) is a major driving force behind the popularity of this drama.

Lee Seung Gi, an engaging and versatile actor with superb comic styling and appealing looks, helps hold the interest of fans, but the story is inventive enough to stand on its own merits.

The supernatural aspects his not unique to Korean drama, but doesn’t always work to draw large audiences, yet here it is part of a tightly written and acted drama sure to please. The art direction is also worth mentioning, with a camera that loves all the characters.

Lee Seung Gi  helped make Gu Family Book a number one hit.

Lee Seung Gi helped make Gu Family Book a number one hit.

Korean Drama- Gu Family Book
Korean Title- Gugai Seo
Genre- romance fusion, period fantasy
Episode- 24
Director- Shin Woo Cheol
Writer- Kang Eun Kyung
Broadcast Channel- MBC

Main Cast

Lee Sueng Gi as Choi Kang Chi
Bae Su Ji as Dam Yeo Wool
Lee Sung Jae as Jo Kwan Wong
Lee Yoo Bi as park Cheong Jo

Supporting Cast

Lee Yeon Hee as Yoon Seo Hwa (young)
Yoon Se Ah as Yoon Seo Hwa (old)
Choi Jin Hyuk as Gu Wol Ryung
Sung Joon as Geon
Yon Yeon Seok as Park Tae Seo

Other Credits
Dam Pyung Joon
Haengsu
Admiral Lee Soon Shin
Sung
Wol Sun
Gob Dan
Deputy Seo

5 Korean Film Stars to Watch—Possible Future Hallyu Film Superstars

Soong Joong Ki Korean Actor
Soong Joong Ki Korean Actor

Song Joong Ki starring in Wolf Boy, is an up-and-coming Korean film star with potential to be a Hallyu superstar.

With Korean Film and Drama’s popularity on a rocket-like trajectory, many new actors are breaking through to become the prospective future Hallyu Film Superstars. This unprecedented popularity is largely due to Korea’s growing list of Hallyu-status actors—those popular outside of Korea—mostly attributable to heart-wrenching characters, superb acting (for the most part) and painfully cute personas.  At the same time Bollywood fans are the among the largest dedicated audiences in the world. Films and Books picks the best stars and films from both.

 The movies, too, are known for art direction, original musical scoring, and very deep character development. Actors such as Jang Keun Suk, Lee Min Ho, Rain, Song Hye Kyo and Lee Byung Hun are the Hallyu film stars of today. Who will it be in the next couple of years?

Through these film stars, people around the world have come to fall in love with Korea’s actors. Some of these actors will not fade easily in popularity, but there is still room for prospective future superstars. Here, are our picks for future possible superstars of film. Here, we are not picking top stars in drama or music who might be Hallyu stars such as Big Bang and Psy, but future film stars who have a good shot at being Hallyu status in the next two or three years. We’re also not including drama-only actors for this list. Do you have different picks?

Song Joon Ki has the potential to be a future Hallyu Star

Song Joon Ki has the potential to be a future Hallyu Star

Song Joong Ki

The Korean actor is known for a youthful, charming face, but equally for versatile acting ability. The diversity of roles—from illiterate “wolf boy” to flamboyant scholar who openly pursues other men—proves his skills. His star rose higher with his role in “Sungkyunkwan Scandal”. Parts in other dramas, “Obstetrics and Gynaecology Doctors” and “Tree with Deep Roots”, solidified his reputation as more than a pretty face. Song Joong Ki showed versatility in various film roles, acting in “Five Senses of Eros”, “The Grand Heist”, and “Hearty Paws 2”. He received acclaim as the lead role for the film “A Werewolf Boy”, which makes him an actor to watch as a future Hallyu prospect. 

Korean star Lee Je Hoon

Lee Je Hoon in The Fortune Tellers (Ghost Sweepers) (2012) is a strong contender for future Hallyu prospect in Korean Film.

Lee Je Hoon

This Korean actor received more Korean film than drama, the opposite of most Korean actor careers. With thirteen films, but only 2 dramas, his fame is solid in the cinema big screen with roles in The Fortune Tellers (2012), Architecture 101 (2012), The Front Line (2011), Bleak Night (2010), Finding Kim Jong Wook (2010) and six other big screen films. His superb acting talent and looks have reminded many fans of a younger version of Uhm Tae Woong (himself not too old!), a celebrated actor in the same industry, notably for hits role in Introduction to Architecture in 2012. Having an innocent, yet versatile face, as natural in a teary scene as in a romantic one, makes him an actor to watch as a future Korean Hallyu prospect.

Kim Yoo Jung is a familiar face, a strong presence in Korean Dramas such as The Sun Embraces The Moon, and with the move to film will be a big star.

Kim Yoo Jung is a familiar face, a strong presence in Korean Dramas such as The Sun Embraces The Moon, and with the move to film will be a big star.

Kim Yoo Jung

Kim Hoo Jung first became famous for her young roles asa child actor, and has acted in almost as many movies as dramas. She has had roles in some of the most famous dramas—known for her role as young Wol in the highest-rated drama in 2012, The Moon that Embracing the Sun. She has acted in 20 dramas and 14 movies, showing a diversity, despite her young age in some roles. Famously, she acted in Quen Seon Deok, Gye Baek and Iljamae, and other hits. Kim Yoo Jung’s later film role was 2012’s, Alumni. She portrayed her tear-jerker role so well, that—with great acting talent plus her cute face—she is definitely one to watch out for big screen Korean cinema.

Song Jae Rim, like Kim Yoo Jung, played a strong role in The Moon Embraces the Sun. Although he's new, with only a few movies, he is considered a breakout prospect.

Song Jae Rim, like Kim Yoo Jung, played a strong role in The Moon Embraces the Sun. Although he’s new, with only a few movies, he is considered a breakout prospect.

Song Jae Rim

Song Jae Rim started to work in the industry in 2009, a relative newbie, but many viewers became instant fans, appreciating his acting skills after he planed Woon in The Moon That Embraces the Sun, a hit drama on Korean television. He displayed unique dramatic timing and acting ability in the series. He has also acted in three movies, latest Give Me Back My Cat (2012), the same year as he stared in The Moon That Embraces the Sun. This may be a long-shot call, with a short history of three dramas and three movies, but with his looks, and fan support, we think he’s a prospect for future Hallyu star.

Park Bo Young is a perennial favorite, and made a move to films with If You Were Me 4, Speedy Scandal, The ESP Couple and Our School E.T. In 2012 she starred in Wolf Boy, alongside Song Joong Ki.

Park Bo Young is a perennial favorite, and made a move to films with If You Were Me 4, Speedy Scandal, The ESP Couple and Our School E.T. In 2012 she starred in Wolf Boy, alongside Song Joong Ki.

Park Bo Young

From 2006-2008, Park Bo Young starred in seven Korean Dramas, but left the drama scene for film in 2008. She acted in four movies in 2008, including If You Were Me 4, Speedy Scandal, The ESP Couple and Our School E.T. In 2012, she jumped into two roles, Don’t Click and Wolf Boy along side our other pick Song Joong Ki. Her sudden popularity, her unique looks, solid acting ability makes her a prospect for the future.

Although Korean drama is, perhaps, arguably more popular than Korean film internationally — the big stars break into film, after hot careers in drama. Although there’s no way to predict Korea’s future Hallyu superstars, these five are prospects if all goes well in the unpredictable industry.

Hyun Bin: Stardom After the Army—Still a Hero to His Fans

Hyun Bin, Korean Superstar
Hyun Bin, Korean Superstar

Hyun Bin, Binnie to his fans, is adored in many nations for his charm, good looks (natural: no plastic surgery!), acting ability and humility. And he picks good roles.

In some ways, you could argue, Hyun Bin is iconic of Korean stardom. He has the looks, the smile, the charm, the modesty, the “princely” bearing that wears so well in Cinderella stories—which, after all, is one of the attractive themes in Korean Drama. As Korean Drama continually finds new fans around the world, stars like Hyun Bin become world stars, no longer just “K-Stars.”

Hyun Bin, also known as Binnie among his fans, is considered as one of the handsomest and hottest Korean stars worldwide. His looks plus his acting talent moved more women to fall in love with him; he has one of the biggest bases of hardcore fans in Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, all of Asia, and around the world.. Aside from dominating ratings in Korean drama, he was also cast in numerous films, product promotions, and music videos.

The Rise to Stardom
Hyun Bin is near-universally known as the epitome of Korean stars, but Korean fans and other fans across the globe probably first became really aware of him in the run-away ratings champ, “My Name is Kim Sam Soon,” opposite fellow star Kim Sun Ah. Bringing in a 53.4% share by episode 16, the series has been bested by only a couple of dramas. In the series, Hyun Bin played Jin Hyeon, an angsty and arrogant French restaurant owner who looks for the best pastry chef he can find. Landing the job was Kim Sam Soon, played by Kim Sun Ah, a tough-as-nails and pastry chef with great talent in baking—and who appeared to have indulged in too many of her own cakes. Judged too old and “chubby” by characters in the drama, the Cinderella story that follows is classic “plain-poor-plump girl steals prince’s heart”, but with truly comic flair and personality. Fans couldn’t get enough of Hyun Bin.

Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won created a sensation in Secret Garden.

Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won created a sensation in Secret Garden.

Secret Garden Phenomena
Secret Garden is Hyun Bin’s most famous role, played alongside co-star Ha Ji Won, who also gained popularity for different dramas like Hwang Jin Yi. In this Korean fantasy romance drama, their characters, they begin hating each other, mysteriously changed bodies, resorted to a comical bickering relationship—and, of course, fell in love. Secret Garden made tacky track suits fashionable. Hyun Bin and Ha’s chemistry made a lot of people fall in love with both of them and led to Secret Garden’s high ratings, dozens of awards for everyone, Secret Garden parody fever, and a near cult status.

Military Service and Global Heartbreak
Secret Garden and Hyun Bin were at the height of their popularity when the actor broke the news that he was enrolling in military service. As a mandatory service, it took the actor away from his fans for an agonizingly long 21 months.

The news resulted in global heartbreak. Fans cried, but kept him alive in forums and fansites. Media followed his career in the marines.  The actor himself was said he would miss his fans, and sounded as if he meant it.

A Sensational Comeback
Many actor’s careers couldn’t endure a 21 month hiatus, especially in the highly volatile “next greatest sexy superstar” environment of Korean drama. However, fans hung on like pitbulls, showing undying love for Hyun Bin. When he finally discharged, crowds met him. The actor broke into tears, as charming and popular as ever..

Comeback is also not an issue for  Binnie. Several months after his return, after a popular fan tour, and weighting many options, he accepted his first sageuk-themed movie, The King’s Wrath. By now, fans across the globe look forward to his return to the big screen, especially in a movie that is his first historical-themed show.

Through fans’ support this eternally popular star didn’t lose any shine off his superstar status.

Lee Seung Gi: The Fast-Rising Star

Korean actor Lee Seung Gi on Films and Books

Lee Seung Gi’s infectious smile, famous abs, popular drama roles and strong singing career, have made him a genuine superstar prospect. His likeable, playful personality charmed television viewers. His wide grin drew in the fans. But he was first discovered because of his voice—a powerful tone that fills an auditorium full of thousands of screaming fans.

Currently airing as the star of the Gu Family Book (Gugaui Seo, MBC, 2013), his previous hits included King 2Hearts, and the perennial favorite My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox.

Korean actor Lee Seung Gi on Films and Books

Lee Seung Gi is a rising Korean superstar, popular in drama and on stage as a soloist singer.

Born January 13, 1987 in Seoul in South Korea, Lee Seung Gi grew up with his parents and younger sister. He was considered as an outstanding student in his high school years, getting good grades. He was also elected as student council President.

At an early age, he already showed interest in music, and became a member of a band during his teenage years. His journey started very early, and continued in the following years that made him amongthe most bankable stars of his generation. He was also deemed as a total entertainer by many of his supporters.

Aside from being a singer, he is also most known for being a part of the season one of a weekend variety show called “1 Night 2 Days,” which ran from November 2007 up to February 2012 and also featured notibles such as Uhm Tae Woong. The South Korean singer was also the host of the talk show called “Strong Heart” which aired from October 2009 up to April 2012.

Lee Seung Gi, fast rising star with chisled abs

Lee Seung Gi is equally famous for his abs, as his singing voice and acting ability. Here, on a promo interview, against a backdrop of Lee Sung Gi abs.

Lee Seung Gi’s Debut
He was discovered by Lee Sun He, where the former received training from the latter for 2 years, before making his debut on June, 2004 at age 7.

The Korean singer’s debut song, “Because You are My Girl,” from his opening album entitled “The Dream of a Moth,” became a famous ballad and hit the hearts of older women in South Korea.

Through this song, he bagged the “Best Newcomer” ‘award in some music award ceremonies in 2004, including the Seoul Music Awards and the ‘M.net KM’ Music Festival. His first official debut in Japan happened on March 6 2012. He released an album entitled, “Time for Love” (with English translations “Generation of Love,” Alone in Love,” ‘and “Era of Love”).

A Favorite in Japan

Popularity in Japan can make a Korean star a genuine Hallyu (Korean Wave) superstar. On June 1, 2012, he had a concert held at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo.

A few months after, he released a mini album (#5.5), “Forest,” which emerged to be the number one in various music charts that include Korean K-Pop Hot 100, Instiz, Chart, Billboard Gaon, and ‘Korea K-Pop Hot 100’ for several weeks.

In December, it emerged number one on Gaon Chart, setting a ‘record’ for being the number 1 for 6 consecutive weeks in Billboard’s ‘Korea K-Pop’ Hot 100.

Acting Career

Lee Seung Gi tried acting in 2005 when he became a guest star in a sitcom called “Nonstop 5”. In 2006, he made an official debut in KBS ‘2006 weekend drama’ called “The Infamous ‘Chil Sisters.”

AI lead role in MBC historic drama, “The ‘Return of Iljimae” was given to him in 2008, but did not push through because of his busy schedule.

In 2009, he became a cast in SBS’s drama “Brilliant Legacy,” starring Korean actresses ‘Moon Chae Won’ and Han Hyo Joo.

For ten straight weeks, the Korean drama which ended on July 26, 2009 stayed at number one in terms of viewer ratings.

Lee Seung Gi in Concert shows off his body

Lee Seung Gi during a live concert rips open his shirt to reveal his famous abs to adoring fans.

Its success made a great boost on Lee’s career in the local and international scene. This drama also gave him the “Excellence in ‘Acting” award, and “Top 10 Stars” award. His 2010 Wednesday to Thursday drama “My Girlfriend is a ‘Nine-Tailed Fox” paved way to his 2nd “Excellence in ‘Acting” award, “Best Couple” award, and “Top 10 Stars” award in the ‘SBS Drama Awards’.[13]

Just last year, he starred in MBC Wednesday to Thursday drama “The King 2 Hearts” with ‘Ha Ji Won’.

Last October 2012, it was announced by Lee’s agency that the Korean star will play a lead role in a fantasy and historical drama entitled “Gu Family Book” ( 서), which commenced in April of 2013.

Dramas:

    Gu Family Book | Gugaui Seo (MBC / 2013) – Choi Kang-Chi
The King 2hearts | Deokingtuheocheu (MBC / 2012) – Lee Jae-Ha
The Greatest Love | Choigowei Sarang (MBC / 2011) – Lee Seung-Gi (cameo / ep 9)
My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox | Nae Yeochineun Gumiho (KBS2 / 2010)
Brilliant Legacy | Chanranhan Yusan (SBS / 2009) – Seon Woo-Hwan
Famous Chil Princesses | Somunnam Chilkongju (KBS2 / 2006) – Hwang Tae-Ja
Nonstop 5 (MBC, 2005)

Top 5 Best New and Upcoming Korean Dramas of 2013

Lee Sung-Gi stars in Gu Family Book, a K-Drama

Are you among the countless Korean Drama fanatics across the globe? The increasing popularity of Korean Dramas is not a big surprise since majority of them feature timely and intriguing scenarios. They also boast casts composed of talented actors who have dedicated themselves in honing their craft. New and upcoming Korean Dramas of 2013 promise more astonishing, funny, scary, and sweet moments including mind-blowing twists and turns. Can’t decide which one to start watching? Here is a list of the top 5 best Korean dramas of 2013 to serve as your guide. Browse through each review and discover why any of these drama series deserves to be called the best of 2013.

Lee Sung-Gi stars in Gu Family Book, a K-Drama

Gu Family Book is a blockbuster Korean Drama from Shin Woo-chul and Kim Jyung-Hyun, and Kang Eun-Kyung. Superstar singer-actor Lee Sung-gi stars.

Gu Family Book

Gu Family Book is a Korean drama series which features trust, deception, love, hatred, and various traditional Korean myths.  Thousands across the globe were easily drawn to stay tuned as the series displayed good acting and scenarios that are never seen before in Korean television during its pilot episode. The beauty of classic wardrobes featured in this Korean Drama series alone indicates how the production team worked so hard to make it all possible. This drama series is a collaboration of Korea’s top directors and writer namely Shin Woo-chul and Kim Jyung-Hyun, and Kang Eun-Kyung so its current success is not a big surprise. Added with a cast teeming with talent which includes Lee Sung-gi, Suzy, Lee Yoobi, Lee Sung-Jae, and Sung Joon, this series will surely take you to an unforgettable Korean drama journey.

 

Korean Drama All About Romance

All About Romance is a new 2013 drama starring Lee Min-Jung, Shin Ha-Kyun, Park Hee-Soon, Han Chae-Ah, and Jin Tae-Hyun.

All about romance

All about romance is another love story flick by the infamous director Son Jung -Hyun and writer Kwon Ki-Young. The story revolves around two individuals namely Kim Soo-Young and No Min-Young with different political affiliations falling in love with another. This drama highlights surprising scenes which never fails to leave audiences guessing and romantic moments that assure a worthwhile viewing experience for lovers. The cast includes established and promising Korean stars including Lee Min-Jung, Shin Ha-Kyun, Park Hee-Soon, Han Chae-Ah, and Jin Tae-Hyun.

Cast from Cruel City, a 2013 Korean Drama

Cast from Cruel City, a 2013 Korean Drama

Cruel City

Are you a fan of crime drama? Cruel city will surely entertain you most as it promises to be a perfect combination of tragedy, love, and everything in between. This drama is brought to us by two of the finest Korean directors namely Jang Yong-Woo and Lee Jeong-hyo. The series’ writer, Yoo Seong-Yeol successfully captured a considerable amount of audience even just after a few episodes as he delivered amazing and stimulating scenarios. This Korean drama series is all about a dedicated police who is willing to do everything for a mission to the extent of joining a gang and being an undercover agent. But can he carry out his duties while protecting the woman that matters to him most? With a robust story paired with a talented cast composed of Jeong Kyeong-ho, Nam Gyoo-ri, Kim Yoo-Mi, and Lee Jae-yoon-I, this Korean drama series truly deserves to be in this list and is expected to continue being one of the top for several months more.
 

Korean hit drama 2013 Dating Agency Cyrano

Korean 2013 Drama Dating Agency: Cyrano stars Sang-yong, Hee-joong, and Byeong-Hoon.

Dating Agency: Cyrano

The creative mind of Kim Heon-Suk paved way to the birth of a feel-good Korean drama series entitled Dating Agency: Cyrano.  This funny and heartwarming Korean drama installment features a small agency which claims 100% success in making people fall in love. The agency consists of energetic and self-proclaimed love experts who will do almost everything just to satisfy their clients and leave them with a happy love life. As the drama series blooms, the agent’s personal feelings start to get in the way with their business transactions as a love triangle among Sang-yong, Hee-joong, and Byeong-Hoon starts to develop. How will their agency survive despite love problems among their agents? This drama series also showcases a cast teeming with talented actors namely Lee Min-Jung, Park Shin-hye, Choi Daniel, Uhm Tae-woong, and many more.
 

Queen of Office is a 2013 Korean drama.

Queen of Office is a 2013 Korean drama.

The Queen of Office

Jeon Chang-Geun, a highly-acclaimed Korean drama director is the one behind the promising series entitled The Queen of Office. It is about the struggle of a temporary employee, Ms. Kim (Kim Hye-Soo), in building a relation with her prideful but experienced co-worker Jang Kyu-Jik (Oh Ji-Ho). These two promising employees started out as competitors but everything changed as they develop special feelings towards each other. The cast also includes other known Korean actors like Lee Hee-Joon and Jeon Hye-Bin.

 

Top ten Korean Dramas of 2012

If you didn’t catch all the top Korean Dramas as they aired in 2012, here’s a list of the most popular dramas based on ratings and popular acclaim, and awards. All are well worth watching. The list is in order of ratings from AGB Nielsen as % for live air date, averaged for entire run.

A Gentleman’s Dignity
Ratings Average: 20.8%
This is a romantic and dramatic comedy which has 20 episodes, unusually focused on the older audiences. It tells the tale of four men, all in their forties, an older, but not necessarily mature snapshot of their love lives, failures, careers and breakups. Fun, dignified and real, it’s a must see for all ages.

Trailer for A Gentleman’s Dignity:

The Innocent Man
Ratings Average: 16.8%
Previously known as Nice Guy, this romantic melodrama tells of a story of Kang Ma Roo (Song Joong Ki) who, after being hurt by the woman he loved, sought revenge. This drama is oddly intriguing, and never loses audience interest over twenty episodes. The main cast includes Song Joong Ki , Moon Chae Won, Park Si Yeon (Han Jae Hee) and Kang Chan Hee (Kang Ma Roo).

Trailer for The Innocent Man:

Time Slip Dr. Jin
Ratings Average: 14.3%
This 22 episode fusion drama has elements of romance, time travel and fantasy, and perhaps an over-abundance of graphic surgery scenes. Despite the almost too-real surgery scenes, it is quite intriguing, particularly in the unique view of themes like destiny. The story line revolves around Jin Hyuk (Song Seung Hun) who is a neurosurgeon. In his pursuit of perfection, he has alienated most people in his social circle including his love interest. Hyuk gets transported to the year 1860 where he interferes with the timeline—urged on by his conscience to save people—by saving people with modern techniques who were destined to die. In doing so, he is accused of magic and chased by authorities. Saving people makes him a better human being, but he starts to realize he’s changing the future. After awhile, he deliberately tampers, with less than predictable results. If you can watch through the graphic surgery scenes, this is a great drama. Performances are stunning from Lee Bum Soo, as always, who threatens to take over the lead role in the drama, although Song Seung Hun and Park Min Young play strong roles.

Time Slip Dr. Jin Trailer:

The King 2 Hearts
Ratings Average: 14.1%
Any drama with Lee Sueng Ki—Hallyu singing star, and star in hit dramas such as My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox—is bound to be a hit, and this black dramatic comedy doesn’t disappoint. Set in the modern day South Korea in an “alternate reality” where the monarchy survived, we meet Lee Jae Ha (Lee Sueng Ki), a handsome prince who is very materialistic and cares less about politics. His idealistic life ends when he is forced to join a team of soldiers from North and South Korea and ends clashing with—and laterfalling in love with—Kim Hyang Ah—who is a Special Forces agent.

Trailer for King 2 Hearts

Arang and the Magistrate
Ratings Average: 14.0%
This is a fusion historical/paranormal mystery based on ghostly folklore. This very romantic comedy plays 21 episodes in total and never flags in pace, drama or surprises. The drama features Shin Min Ah (Arang), Yun Woo Jin (Choi Joo Wal) and Lee Joon Ki (Kim Eun Oh). Kim Eun Oh, who has an ability to see spirits, arrives in Miryang town in search for his mother. Spirits approach him and he pretends that he cannot hear them—until a virgin ghost named Arang begs his help to vengeance her unjusticed death.

Trailer for Arang and the Magistrate:

Rooftop Prince
Ratings Average: 12.8%
This is the crown jewel in time-travel dramas, a romantic fantasy comedy with 20 episodes. The charisma of Micky Yoochun made this a sure hit. Also translated as the “Attic Prince” the drama blends the best of fantasy, romance and mystery with heavy doses of very funny comedy. It is a story about Lee Gak, played charmingly by Micky Yoochun (Park Yoochun), a displaced Joseon prince—and his funny retainers. They were trying to solve his princess’s murder, fleeing from the perpetrators, when they are hurled into the future by a mysterious force. He leads his almost three-stooges fun retainers—Song Man Bo, Do Chi San and Woo Young—in an attempt to adjust to the future and to understand why he was thrown 300 years ahead in time. When he is rescued by a girl who resembles his princess, he knows it was not random chance. The rest is hilarity, adventure and romance

Trailer for Rooftop Prince, a time-traveling comedy drama that is not to be missed:

I Miss You
Ratings Average: 12.0%
This is a melodrama comedy which revolves around a guy and a girl who ended their relationship painfully at the age of 15. They meet later on in life after playing a game of hide and seek. A story of love lost, love found, revenge and mystery, the cast includes Lee Soo Yeon, Kang Hyung Joon, Kim Eun Joo and Han Jung Woo.

Trailer for I Miss You:

Faith  
Ratings Average: 11.0%
Faith is an intriguing historical romance fantasy drama set in an ancient times. It is also called the Great Doctor, and has 24 fast-paced, adventure  episodes—a cannot miss with cast-leader Lee Min Ho, Korea’s rising Hallyu star. Although it is perhaps the latest in a time-travel trend (after Rooftop Prince, Queen In Hyun’s Man and Time Slip Dr. Jin) it flips the story-convention around, bringing a martial-arts powerhouse from the past to the future where he kidnaps a present day female doctor and takes her back to the past where she is trapped. She saves the prince and nearly kills her kidnapper, yet, despite her immature antics, love flourishes between her and her kidnapper. Main cast drama includes Kim Hee Sun (Yoo Eun Soo), Lee Min Ho (Choi Young), Yoo Oh Sung (Ki Cheol), Lee Philip (Jang Bin), Park Se Young (Princess Nogook) and Rvu Duk Hwan (King Gong Min).

Trailer for Faith, one of the hot dramas of 2012:

Queen In Hyun’s Man – The Time Traveler’s Wife
This spunky romantic comedy plays over 16 episodes, keeping interest with its unique and elegant story line. Although it’s yet another time-travel comedy, this one has its unique charms as Kim Boong Do travels into the future in Seoul where he meets Choi Hee Jin.

Excerpts from Queen In Hyun’s Man:

Love Rain
Ratings Average: 6.0%
It is a romantic fantasy which has twenty episodes. It cleverly juxtapositions the the children of a previous ill-fated couple, who met in the 1970s, managed to meet and fall in love against a present day love. Seo In Ha and Kim Yoo Hee, a lovely and engaging couple in the 70s meet, fall in love, but unfortunately their relationship is not to be. Forward to the 21st century, and their respective children meet and become involved. But can they survive romantically where their parents did not? Top notch editing and pace, and authentic recreation this interesting period, complete with bad hair, together with the strong relationships,  makes this an immensely interesting and memorable drama.

Extended seven-minute trailer for Love Rain with English subtitles:

– Ren Zost

Lee Byung-Hun On the World Stage

Born in July 1970, Lee Byung-Hun is known as an actor and singer is known for his charm, sculpted abs, brilliant smile, masculine good looks and acting ability.

Lee Byung-Hun, has won most of the major drama acting awards, and went  on to superstar status in Korea which ultimately led to International film opportunities. He is fluent in English, Korean, French and Mandarin and has played speaking roles in all of these languages.

Lee Byung-Hun is famous for roles in dozens of Korean Dramas, hit Korean Movies and now Hollywood films such as G.I.Joe and the forthcoming Reds 2.

Lee Byung-Hun is famous for roles in dozens of Korean Dramas, hit Korean Movies and now Hollywood films such as G.I.Joe and the forthcoming Reds 2.

Lee Byung-Hun became a world renowned South Korean film star after first coming to dominate Korean drama and movies. He was first noticed for his box office hit entitled Korean Joint Security Area in the year of 2000—but has gone on to popularity around the world. Just this year, he was recognized as ‘Star of the Year’ by CineAsia. Hollywood film-maker Jon Chu described him as “Korea’s Tom Cruise,” after his role in Hollywood’s G.I. Joe.

Lee Byung-Hun kicks his performance up in GI Joe:

One of Korea’s Most Popular Stars
The handsome star, arguably one of Korea’s most popular—and long before his current adored Hallyu status—first starred in Asphalt My Hometown after winning the audition of KBS talent. This led quickly to an opportunity to act in a huge television hit called Beautiful Days in 2001 and followed by another television show called All In in the year of 2003.

2009’s Iris was a hit around the world, and added tremendous value to the Lee Byung-Hun image machine:

Lee Byung-Hun continued his craft and went on to create the unique movie The Good, the Bad, the Weird and the suspense thriller I Saw the Devil. After releasing a successful line of movies he came back to his first love which is creating popular drama series and has starred in the drama Iris. Iris was rated number one for every episode in Korean ratings, and went on to translation and broadcast around the world. It has become one of the best known Korean Dramas outside of Korea.

Lee Byung-Hun is famous for a sculpted body, rippling abs, and his martial arts Tae Kwon Do moves.

Lee Byung-Hun is famous for a sculpted body, rippling abs, and his martial arts Tae Kwon Do moves.

He was considered to a pioneer as one of the first Korean Hallyu stars to leave his mark at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood (together with Ahn Sung-Ki.) Many remember him for his role as a border-guard soldier; this earned him his first Best Actor Award in the prestigious Pusan Film Critic’s Awards.

Many Awards and Successes
It was a string of success for him including winning top prize at SBS Drama Awards and the Best Actor for Baeksang Arts Awards. Lee Byung-Hun also earned a nomination for the Blue Dragon film awards Best actor, the Chunsa Film Art Awards including the famous Grand Bell awards.

“Lee Byung-Hun, the best actor ever in the world.” A fan on YouTube

Here’s what his fans think of him: “Lee Byung Hun, the best actor ever in the world” from YouTube:

His big break in Hollywood was for the much-anticipated G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra. Although the film didn’t receive many accolades, his performance was acclaimed as Storm Shadow. His contract was renewed for two G.I. Joe sequels. He co-starred with actors Sienna Miller and Channing Tatum.

Lee Byung-Hun plays Shadow Hawk, overshadowing his co-stars in the first G.I. Joe movie. He has been signed for two sequels, one in release currently.

Lee Byung-Hun plays Shadow Hawk, overshadowing his co-stars in the first G.I. Joe movie. He has been signed for two sequels, one in release currently.

In 2012 the first sequel came in the better-received G.I Joe: Retaliation, where he reprised his popular role as Storm Shadow. He was compared to Korean superstar Rain, and his appearance in Ninja Assassin, and ultimately, more offers came. He was cast in Reds 2, an action comedy sequel together with Bruce Willis, Hellen Mirren, actor John Malkovich and Catherine Zeta Jones.

Formed His Own Management Company
Aside from being a successful actor he has also formed his own management company, BH entertainment. Today he manages actors like Han Hyo-Joo, Han Chae-Young and Go Soo. He also owns a well-known fashion line called BHNC, famous for hats, wallets as well as scarfs.

Lee Byun-Hun is developing fans in North America for Hollywood roles, and has long been a Hallyu star popular in Korea, Japan, China and many other countries.

Lee Byun-Hun is developing fans in North America for Hollywood roles, and has long been a Hallyu star popular in Korea, Japan, China and many other countries.

Personal Life
He reportedly dated Song Hye-Kyo but they broke up in the year of 2004. He acknowledged that he is currently in a relationship with Lee Min-jung, confirming it in August 2012.  Lee Byung-Hun also has a famous sister named Lee Eun-Hee who became Miss Korea in 1996.

He grew up as a wealthy child and has often described himself as mischievous during his younger days. He was well educated, a French Literature major from Hanyang University and a Theater and Cinematography major from the Graduate School of Chung Ang University.

To his Korean fans, he will always be number one, one of the precious stars who broke out of the talented Korean drama arts scene on to the world stage. To the world, he is a star to watch.

Lee Byung Hun at the A-Awards 2012:

Awards

  • 2011 47th PaekSang Arts Awards – Daesang Grand Award (I Saw the Devil)
  • 2010 46th Baeksang Arts Award: Best TV Actor Award (IRIS)
  • 2009 KBS Drama Awards: Grand Prize (IRIS)
  • 2009 KBS Drama Awards: Best Couple Award (with Kim Tae Hee in IRIS)
  • 2009 KBS Drama Awards: Netizen Popularity Award (IRIS)
  • 42nd Baek-sang Arts Award: Best Leading Actor for “Once in a Summer” (2006)
Lee Byung-Hun is famous for his smile.

Lee Byung-Hun is famous for his smile.

  • 2005 Busan Cinema Critics Award: Best Leading Actor
  • 39th Baek-sang Arts Award: Best Performing Actor for All In (2003)
  • 38th Baek-sang Arts Award: Best Performing Actor (2002)
  • 2001 SBS Drama Awards: Best Performing Actor
  • 2001 Blue Dragon Awards: Most Popular Actor
  • 2000 Busan Cinema Critics Award: Best Leading Actor
  • 1996 KBS Drama Awards: Best Performing Actor
  • 1995 KBS Drama Awards: Best Performing Actor
  • 1993 KBS Drama Awards: Best Performing Actor
  • 1992 KBS Drama Awards: Best Performing Actor
Lee Byung-Hun early in his career.

Lee Byung-Hun early in his career.

Movies

  • Reds 2 (2013)
  • GI Joe: Retaliation (2012)
  • I Saw the Devil (2010)
  • Iris: The Movie (2010)
  • The Influence (2010)
  • G.I. Joe (2009)
  • I Come with the Rain (2008)
  • The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008)
  • Hero (2007)
  • Once in a Summer / Summer Story (2006)
  • A Bittersweet Life (2005)
  • Three… Extremes (segment “Cut”) (2004)
  • Everybody Has Secrets (2004)
  • Addicted / The Poisoning (2002)
  • My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2002)
  • Bungee Jumping of Their Own (2001)
  • Joint Security Area (2000)
  • Organ of My Heart (1998)
  • Ji sang man ga (1997)
  • Kill the Love (1996)
  • Run Away (1995)
  • Who Drives Me Mad? (1995)
Lee-Byung Hun helped make Iris the number one hit of the year 2009 in Korea. The show went on to popularity in many other countries.

Lee-Byung Hun helped make Iris the number one hit of the year 2009 in Korea. The show went on to popularity in many other countries.

TV Dramas

  • Diplomat Kuroda Kousaku (Fuji TV, 2011)
  • IRIS (2009)
  • All In (SBS, 2003)
  • Beautiful Days (SBS, 2001)
  • Road (SBS, 2001)
  • Sally is Back (SBS, 1999)
  • Sunflower (MBC, 1999)
  • Happy Together (SBS, 1999)
  • White Nights 3.98 (SBS, 1998)
  • White Sand (KBS, 1997)
  • I Do (SBS, 1997)
  • Beautiful Lady (SBS, 1997)
  • Son of Wind (KBS, 1995)
  • Asphalt Man (SBS, 1995)
  • Fragrance of Love (SBS, 1994)
  • Police (KBS, 1993)
  • The Sorrow of the Survivor (KBS, 1992)
  • Tomorrow Love (KBS, 1992)
  • Dawn (KBS, 1992)
  • Days of Sunshine (KBS, 1992)
  • Wild Sunflower (KBS, 1992)
  • Flower That Never Wilt (KBS, 1991)
  • Family (KBS, 1991)
  • Asphalt My Hometown, Asphalt (KBS, 1991)

– by Calypso

An Angel’s Choice: A Choice Drama for K-D Fans

Korean drama is famous for romance, melodrama, and complex characterizations. Arguably, character is the strongest and most appealing feature of k-drama, accounting for the extraordinary length of many series.

At 140 episodes, Cheonsa-ui Seontaek—or An Angel’s Choice as it translates to in English—is a drama that involves a gigantic investment in time. In this reviewer’s opinion, it is a worthwhile investment if you enjoy all of the hallmarks of great k-drama.

An Angels Choice stars Jeong Seong Un (left) and Choe Il Hwa (right)

An Angels Choice stars Jeong Seong Un (left) and Choe Il Hwa (right)

The story revolves around a young woman who lives her life intensely. The young woman, Choi Eun Seol is a married woman who endures her husband’s constant battery and betrayal—bolstered by a string of misunderstandings that make us totally sympathetic to her. This goes on for too long, but eventually, she takes the chance, breaks away, and ends up with a second chance on true love as well as happiness. None of this is possible without the help of her ever-caring family, who stay with her through the ups and downs and the darkest nights of her life.

Films-and-books-f&B-4An-Angels-Choice-An Angels Choice, starring Yun Hui Seok,left, and Go Na Eun,right

An Angels Choice, starring Yun Hui Seok,left, and Go Na Eun,right

Seol shows appealing determination in her career, a strong redeeming characteristic. She is a researcher in a leading cosmetics company. On the outside she appears to be cheerful and lively, despite the troubles with violent marriage—and endearing trait.

This drama as produced by Choi Chang Wook and directed by Son Hyung Suk and Jang Ui Soon. Inexplicably, despite the extraordinary scope of a 140 episode run, viewers are hooked and anxious for the next episode.

Trailer from Cheonsa-ui Seontaek—or An Angel’s Choice as it translates to in English:

Scriptwriter Suh Hyun Joo writes a compelling script, and masterfully manages the plot flows well, with judicious pace and plenty of conflict. As much as there is considerable suffering within the story, the writer lightens the mood with plenty of humorous moments.

The story involves 4 families: Eun’s family, Min Jae’s family, Sang Ho’s family as well as Yoo Ran’s family. The fates of these families are intertwined in the most complicated of ways but brought out in a very unique way in the drama.

An AngelsChoice starring Choe Jeong Yun

An AngelsChoice starring Choe Jeong Yun

The cast of this great drama from Korea are well known to fans of k-drama. Choi Eun Seol is played by the beautiful Choi Jung Yoon who has boasted some top honors in her acting career. Others include Jung Sung Woon, Yoon Hee Suk as well as Go Na Eun. With a top notch director, producer, script writer as well as a strong cast, An Angel’s Choice, engages audiences with pace, story, complex relationships and is showcased with in strong production values. If you are a fan of Korean melodrama, you will not be disappointed.

This drama consists of 140 episodes, the biggest obstacle to a casual fan of k-drama. However, in my opinion, this is one drama that you are definitely bound to connect with from the beginning to end as it encompasses issues we all deal with around the world, and in Korean, and in particular issues of women’s rights and issues. I rate it four out of five stars.

Four out of Five Stars
—E. Muchiri

Stephen Chow Goes Gangnam Style

Don’t miss this hilarious spoof of the spoofer. Gangnam style is already funny. Stephen Chow is funny. Put them together, and you get crazy.

Stephen Chow is famous around the world for his award-winning and hysterically funny Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, both featured cleverly in this video.

Spoofing Gangnam Style using footage from the king of spoofers Stephen Chow, here with a cleverly time scene from Shaolin Soccer.


Shaolin Soccer grossed $60 million in Hong Kong, and won best picture, best actor and best director at the 2002 Hong Kong Film Awards. It was an international hit in film festivals and made Stephen Chow a household name in North America and Europe. He has always been popular in Asia. Known for slapstick fun and crazy comedy, Chow is extremely popular in the biggest film audience in the world—mainland China.

Born June 22, 1962, he is a big fan of Bruce Lee—and often parodies him (respectfully) in his dramas. He has starred in or directed 66 films from 1988 to today. Before Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, his best remembered Hong Kong hits included Royal Tramp (based on the novel), King of the Beggars, and The Tricky Master. He has won everything from Film Festivals to Golden Horse Awards and was nominated for a Golden Globe.

To his fans, we just think of crazy fun, which meshed really well with Gangnam Style!

Kimchi Family is My Korean Drama of the Year

From funny moments and squabbles to romantic intensity to tragedy to complex family drama, Kimchi family drama has something for every fan, including a killer cast featuring Song Il Guk and Park Jin Hee.

Balhyo Kajok, known to western fans as Kimchi Family (or even Fermentation Family) has my vote for best drama of the year. The combination of complex story, genuinely lyrical writing, superb acting by all players, and an emotional depth rarely taken on in dramas, makes this the best drama of the year, at least so far. Take your choice, 2011 or 2012, since it began airing in 2011 and finished in 2012.

By Josephine Nolan
Note: This is my vote, not the opinion of Films&Books

Perfect 5 rating

Korean Drama Balhyo Kajok (Kimchi Family appeals to everyone at all levels. If you enjoy family drama, you’ll never find a more complicated or fulfilling plot line in any drama on any continent. For those who prefer action, Song Il Gook in classic form, swings into martial arts action. I’m a mystery and cop drama nut, and Kimchi Family, despite the name, weaves in a very deep crime drama and mystery, not solved until the very end. Looking for uplifting? There is no more philosophical or subtle drama I can think of—full of very poignant vignettes, meaningful lives and philosophical questions such as the meaning of life and death, why do bad things happen to good people, and other very Zen topics.

Kimchi Family brings on plenty of romance, from sizzling scens featuring Song Il Guk and Park Jin He—always G rated but sexy none-the-less,

If you’re looking for romance, you’ll have plenty to digest, from our main two characters touching love, to tragic love stories with secondary characters (who still enjoy deep plot arcs of their own). Just love sexy actors? Well, you’ve got A-Lister Song Il Gook, who’s aged well through his career and still one of the sexiest screen idols on my list.

The Cast Truly are Stars

This ensemble could probably make a bad story watchable, and it features some of my all time favorites, with Song Il Gook (as Ki Ho Tae), Park Jin Hee (as Lee Kang San). I really liked the character role of Choi Jae Sung as Chef Kang Do Shik and a superb performance from Kang Shin Il.

Song Il Guk is simmering and sexy in his portrayal of an ex-gangster turned romantic lead chef. He sports a scruffy look, sheepdog hair and never-shaved beard that seems endearing rather than tough. In the past, he’s proven his acting chops as action prince (Jumong), Batman-like hero (A Man Called God), and bad-ass cop (Detectives in Trouble.)

Song Il Gook Sexy and Vulnerable
My number one guy in Korean Drama—for me anyway—is Song Il Gook(Song Il Guk or Song Il Kuk), and here he’s in prime form at about 43 years of age (but not looking like it!). He is a real character actor, equally at home as a prince (The Kingdom of the Winds), hero (Jumong), cop (Crime Squad), vengeful secret agent (A Man Called God). Here, in Balhyo Kajok, he perfectly plays an ex-gangster orphan who seeks meaning in life through the unraveling of his own tragic past. He’s thoughtful, intense, sexy, romantic, intelligent and vulnerable all at once, and it’s a treat whenever the camera makes love to his face. Although he plays a thug, once we get to know him, half the time you just want to hug him and have a good cry.

Below: Romance a-plenty in Kimchi Family, and great kiss scenes (with superb cinematic composition, by the way):

I enjoyed Park Jin Hee also, as his lead romantic interest. Not all Korean Dramas have strong female leads (notable exceptions Dae Jang Guem, etc.) Too often, the male dominates, without a strong enough opposite to make it credible. Here Park Jin Hee plays a never-say-die, eternally optimistic yet earthy character who shoulders her own pain—career struggles, a dependent sister and a father with Alzheimer’s—yet manages to be just charming throughout. Herein, might lie my single criticism. The writers laid on a little too much sugar on her role. Is she sometimes a little too sweet, no matter how dire the situation. No, not really, but she can preach up a storm, zen style.

Below: Early trailer for Kimchi Family:

Cinematography the Real Star
Normally I review story first, then character, finally cinematography and direction. I think I’ve made it clear that I believe story and character are perfect in this drama. Am I leading up to criticizing the crew and visuals? The opposite, in fact. The cinematography is worthy of a big budget film, despite a modest number of locations. The scenery is stunning to begin with, views we see in all four seasons in this drama. I wanted to highlight the camera crews and director for some of the most breathtaking framing I’ve seen in a long time. I review hundreds of dramas and films every year, and this certainly stands out as an eye treat.

Kimchi Family, though not a genre drama, features plenty of suspense and action. Here star Song Il Guk fights with over a dozen thugs armed with clubs in his quest to shed light on his hidden past.

Every frame is immaculate. You could frame grab any scene in this drama and hang it on your wall as art. It’s that good. Am I over gushing? Maybe the one area where the crew lets us down is in the car scenes, with the artificially lit car interiors and autos that move at a snails pace down the highway. Many Korean Dramas are guilty of this, and it’s the one weak point in the shooting.

The seasons arc beautifully with the story, making the visuals an integral part of the plot arc. The story takes us from birth through death through rebirth and all the agonizing and wonderful steps in between—reflected in gorgeous seasonal scenery. Winter, in this show, means something. Spring, even more so.

Complex and Riveting Story
I know it’s a good story when I am disappointed at the ending of an episode, and simply can’t get it out of my mind as I wait for the next. Kimchi Family is like this. You feel like part of the family, emotionally involved, and can’t wait to get back to their lives.

Multiple complex stories weave through the series, ultimately threading together like an integral whole. Here, I can’t reveal any of these intricacies, for fear of plot spoilers, but the disparate themes and threads all arc together until, by the end, with laser precision, they meld into one, unexpected aha moment.

Laugh Out Loud Funny and Cry Out Loud Touching
Typical of the best of Korean drama, Kimchi Family wrings tears out of audiences, while simultaneously giving us laugh attacks. There’s suspense, humour, romance, tragedy—what more could a drama do? Oh, and great sound track, too?

Below, one of the hits from Kimchi Family, Afraid of Love:

From reformed gangster turns kitchen help—stated another way, thug turns to romantic lead—to zen-master father’s journey into a hazy Alzheimer’s world, to sharp and hateful businesswoman transformed into tragic mother, to… trust me, the wonderful moments here are simply that—wonderful. Balhyo Kajok (Kimchi Family) is the don’t miss K-Drama of the year—and my vote for 2012’s best so far.

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