Drama Review: More than a Rumor, “Grapevine” Is A Winner

Originally published in the “Korean Quarterly.”

What if Romeo and Juliet or any other star-crossed lovers took charge of their destiny? Forget vials of poison in the crypt and tragic endings, if they were as intelligent and motivated as the protagonists of the dark comedy “Heard It Through the Grapevine,” they might just have ruled the world!

From the punchy opening chords of the electric keyboard from “Heard a Rumor,” by Jang Kiha and Faces, used as the opening title song, to the scenes of the elegant and expansive Han household being run like clockwork, viewers should immediately be aware that they are not entering into the typical family drama. The atmosphere is one of money, but also of care and attention. The visuals of this drama are one of the most impressive, with a quality usually scene only in the cinema, and that’s particularly appropriate as the drama stars actors who have made their names in the cinema and use their talents wisely and well.

Cast of Heard It Through the Grapevine

Ah Sung Go may be a young actress, but she has an impressive film resume to her name, including the recent “Snowpiercer.” As Seo Bom, the radical Juliet of the drama, she deftly portrays a character that is practical, but with the ability to dream big, passionate, but with an ability to plan. And she is a fighter, ready to take on any challenge. She will need to be, because the drama opens to introduce her as a fully pregnant, unwed teenage mother and (by necessity) a high school dropout, living with her family in their cramped and worn house in a working class part of Seoul. Continue reading

Drama Review: Taking the Path Less Traveled: The “Misaeng” Journey

This review was written for and appeared in the Korean Quarterly

Do you (or have you) work in the corporate world in a “cubicle farm,” or do you love someone who goes into the office day after day? Perhaps you’re in the medical field, and fight a never-ending battle every shift to see to the welfare of your patients.

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Do you go to school, and crack the books night after night to keep on top of each day’s lessons, or do you watch over someone who does?

Is your daily life a harried blend of chores and obligations, with just enough sunshine to keep you emotionally fueled and able to continue?

Have you ever felt that you were an outsider and were challenged to find ways to fit in, or have you seen others on the outside and witnessed their efforts?

If so, then the special 10th anniversary drama from the Korean cable channel tvN, “Misaeng” will touch you and inspire you!

“Misaeng,” translated as an “incomplete life,” or one that is not yet lived, takes its characters on voyages of discovery, as they seek the paths that will lead each to find his or her own place in life, and fulfillment. Continue reading

Great minds think alike?

When I saw this (photo) sculpture outside of the Hong Kong Museum of Art in Tsa Shim Tsui, I immediately assumed that it was the work of Anish Kapoor, who had designed and constructed the lovely Cloud Gate sculpture situated in Chicago’s Millennium Park. I was very surprised to see that it was by another artist, Danny Lee. It got me wondering: when you’re working in something as time-consuming as stainless steel, can it be just coincidence that two artists would develop forms so thematically similar?

So, I did a little research. Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate was constructed between 2004 and 2006 (and commissioned for the park, which was to have been completed for, of course, the start of the new millennium), Danny Lee’s Waterdrop (above) was dated 2008.

Coincidence?

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Working within the square

Confining a photo to square proportions is harder than it looks, I’ve found, especially when your normal range of vision takes in close to 180˚. While a wide angle lens won’t come close to that, it does capture an image that goes far beyond an equal-sided frame. But to share images on Instagram, one does what one must!

While I just can’t make myself wield the ‘scissors’ with many of the hundreds of images I shot on a recent stay in the Hong Kong area, a few of them do make for fun snapshots of that fascinating part of the world. And the use of Snapseed for some playful editing just adds to the fun!

Hong Kong on Instagram album on Flickr

Hong Kong: Image of the Day (9)

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The beauty of the Mai Po wetlands deserves not a single image, but many (or at least in this case, two). Located in the New Territories, within site of the growing unsightly sprawl of Shenzhen, across the border, this nature reserve managed by the WWF offered a chance to stretch our legs and take in some of the flora and fauna once common to the region.

By late afternoon the waterlilies were closing and submerging back into the marshy wetlands, and the golden sunlight cast reflections of the impressive mangrove stand upon the murky, tannic waters.

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