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Drama Review

‘Tomorrow’ and Recovery Reflections

Contains spoilers for the Korean drama series “Tomorrow”. Content / Trigger Warning: Suicide

Fantasy K-drama Tomorrow is probably the last thing I would have consumed for comfort. I’d been re-watching and rereading the Spy x Family anime and manga to the ground in the worst days of my sickness and isolation. I guess one day I thought, “hmm, how about pain?”

Tomorrow’s premise is the main content and trigger warning. It follows a small team of grim reapers tasked not to collect souls but to save lives. Called Risk Management (RM), team leader Koo Ryeon (Kim Heesun) and assistant manager Lim Ryunggu (Yoon Ji-on) monitor negative energies, the kind that leads humans to choose suicide, and stops them before they do.

Passionate in their jobs despite being a small and often dismissed unit, their two-person machinery was disrupted by Choi Junwoong (Rowoon), a human who got in the way of one of their missions. Junwoong eventually joins the team on a six-month contract while his mortal body is in a coma. Scrappy, bounding with reckless energy, and brimming with a sense of justice with little knowledge and sometimes willful disregard of the afterlife’s rules, Junwoong’s working relationship with his stone-faced, taciturn bosses is off to a rocky start.

Then there’s Park Junggil (Lee Soohyuk), team leader of the elite Escort team. Tall, broad-shouldered, and ever brooding in his meticulously tailored black suits. He expresses disdain and blatant disapproval of the very existence of the Risk Management team. He considers their efforts futile. Worthless. Why waste time and resources on people who have decided to commit the worst crime of all, the murder of one’s self? These people deserve the Hell they have chosen.

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Drama Review

The King: Eternal Hangover


It’s been 50 days since the finale of The King: Eternal Monarch and I am still here going back and forth the portal to the Kingdom of Corea. Usually 2 weeks of K-drama hangover is enough (or even too much) but this is TKEM, the drama that loved me back and helped me through pandemic anxiety. In this essay (lol) I try to process why I still live here.

[Obviously spoilers everywhere. This is your first and only warning. Ok go]


Reconciling with Lee Minho. I came here because of Kim Goeun whom I loved since Goblin. When casting news came out about her reuniting with writer Kim Eunsook (Goblin, The Heirs, DOTS) with LMH as her main man I went ‘eh’, the kind of eh made by a person who has seen and enjoyed LMH’s previous things (Boys Over Flowers, The Heirs) and never quite getting what made him click. Well in this drama I got it, okay. I don’t know if it’s the character, the post-serving-the-country aura (they all get it, we know this), his chemistry with KGE (I’m not going to even but here is one bts clip of many enjoy!!!) or all of the above. It is likely all of the above. But it works okay, I am into this LMH. And by the time he was dropping ‘I am your King’ to a poor gobsmacked Kang Sinjae I was there facing my Netflix screen going ‘ye Pyeha.’

Lee Gon and Jeong Taeeul. It always goes back to these two. I was unsure of how I would feel about this couple (see above re reconciling with LMH, and there’s also my Goblin and Cheese in the Trap feelings) and have admittedly tripped on how fast burn their love was but once I got into it there was no turning back. KES was said to have explained the quicker-than-most progression of their love as fate, but there are also the little things that matter.

  • The way Gon has been patient with Taeeul from the start, understanding that yes, ‘okay my truth is weird but I have scienced and mathed this for 25 years, I do believe this is a parallel universe and you are the face that has helped me feel less lonely for same number of years. And I’m going to stay here and get to know you and try to make your world a little rounder.’ He is a King who is surrounded by people who do his bidding in a single word. How many times has he uttered ‘this is a King’s order’ to full effect? But with Taeeul he understands how little that mattered and he is willing to work from the ground up.
  • The way Taeeul warms up to him, first as a cop when the evidence starts favoring his claims, then as a woman when she decides to accept that a beautiful man is proclaiming all these beautiful things to her and alright why not? She sees for herself that he is a good man, a just and beloved leader, and someone who grew up well despite the gruesomeness of his past. She talks about accepting the fate that chose her–the goodness and uncertainty of loving this man. It was a brave, very Taeeul thing to do.
  • The way they work together. I love it so much how their rule of command shifts across universes. In the Republic of Korea, Taeeul is the boss, but in the Kingdom, Gon is her King (he is always her King, but you get me). I love how even when they only have literal numbered days being in the same universe together, they know the big picture and the important roles they play and they do the work. They look for the root of evil, and then they meet up later for chicken and MSD. It’s an equal relationship. No one is treated above the other, which is especially beautiful to see in this story where the man is a literal King. He knows she is strong and has her own mind and is good at her job. He calls her a warrior. And he not only respects this but cherishes it. Basically these two together are competence porn. They are both awesome in what they do, and seeing them put their heads together (in the non-kissy sense but the kissing is also A++) and solve things is wonderful to watch.
  • The way they are honest to each other. In Kdramas we often reach a point where at least one hurts the other, usually in an act of noble idiocy. Here throughout their journey Gon and Taeeul are always finding their way to each other, from the progression of their hugs and kisses (again, best, A++), to Gon opening all the doors in the universe and Taeeul keeping faith that he will come. Even when they said goodbye, they did so not to hurt each other, but with the honest knowledge that it was the only way to make things right. Their love is fate but fate is bigger than they were, and they had sacrifices to make.
  • More little things: Gon walking in pace with Taeeul not just in her world but also in his, where as King he walks ahead of everyone else. Taeeul giving Gon the numbers of five people who would help him no matter what, thereby embracing him in her world and protecting him too. The way Lee Gon the King empties the kitchen to cook for her I’m ??? heartheart. Wew, a lot. Love languages and the things they do to meet each other.
  • The hugs and kisses because it really needs to be said again. They hug like there is no tomorrow which is literally the thing hanging over their heads all the time. And the kisses haha wew see Episodes 12 and 16.

The squad. Kdramas are good with squads, though sometimes there’s a tipping point of too many people and not enough time to know about them all. TKEM was able to do its cast justice for the most part.

  • I wish PM Koo Seoryeong was written differently. Edited a bit? I wish I was able to understand and see her more as shades of gray rather than someone whose conscience darkened all the way to evil by the last plot turn. Then I remembered how in sageuks the PM is often the power-grabbing foe with the usual plot of marrying his daughter to the King, and I guess here Seoryeong takes on both roles. She is the politician who also desires to be Queen, not for love but for ambition. Maybe I should have foreseen her end from there. But still one hopes there was space in the drama for more than one woman who was excelling in a world mostly occupied by men.
  • Yeong and Ensup. Watching Woo Dohwan here is such a joy. How he got to play with two totally different characters and mix them up when Gon did the exchange was brilliant. These two gave the much needed laugh breaks when shit was really hitting the fan. And I love love how these characters, especially Yeong, was a constant reminder to Gon that he is not alone, and he doesn’t have to go through everything on his own.
  • Nari and Seunga. I mean a girl who is consistently rich and landed with a sharp tongue in both universes, yes please. And she drives awesome cars and serves milk tea. I love her friendship with Taeeul (would have wanted more of this but ok) and how she is a foil to both Yeong and Eunsup. And also how, as a fellow monied person, Nari understood Gon and lent him when he needed it (could have given him free milk tea but there are limits I guess).
  • Taeeul and Sinjae hyungnim. Huhu I still cry. I love this friendship. It was worrying to think of a second lead versus a King (and versus the walking tree charisma of LMH which makes it an extra extra challenge), so it was nice to see a gentle, light hand on this one-sided love. Sinjae knew Taeeul saw him as a brother and that was what he became for her, only deciding he needed to be honest with his feelings when she told him she was going on a suicide mission. He never liked Gon because of course, jealousy and negative bias, but he respected him, and he respected that Taeeul loved and chose Gon. Which in conclusion made that confession/goodbye scene so much more cathartic and heartbreaking. If I have one gripe about the ending, it’s that Taeeul didn’t get to properly grieve the loss of hyungnim, a lifelong friend she was apparently not fated to have (brb crying).
  • Lee Lim. Such an evil megalomaniac that there was no hope for him, which then made it super satisfying seeing him die not once, not even twice, but three forking times.

Happy ever after ever ever! Still cannot believe I invested in this series without the assurance of a happy ending, when I am the type of anxious person who reads up on the synopsis of a movie on Wiki in the middle of watching said movie in a theater, just because I need to know how it ends.

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When a book is declared romance, readers know the HEA contract and the author delivers this. Kdramas on the other hand can pin the genre on its title and then turn around to trample viewers’ hearts with an open-ended finale at best. (Never getting over my Cheese in the Trap grudge) The King, however! Despite the heart wrenching goodbyes of the penultimate episode and the puzzle of how the doors in the universe work, our King and Queen were able to arrive at a beautiful solution. It wasn’t a royal wedding or the birth of royal twins, because that wasn’t the point.

From the start, Gon has been saying he has no desire to marry and have an heir, and in any case the lineage was safe with good uncle Buyeong. Even when Gon proposes to Taeeul and asks her to be with him in his world, he knows she wouldn’t, and he could not bear her to do it either, because her life isn’t less than his. So what they did–keeping their lives and spending weekends discovering universes together was the most sustainable and the most responsible solution. Gon and Taeeul’s fight with Lee Lim taught them two important things–that the universes must be kept separate and parallel, and that they cannot live without loving each other. And so they chose to accept both responsibilities by having dates in different universes. And since this is Gon and Taeeul with eternity and infinity in their hands, they will live for today, only today, and it will be a loooong day.

The brilliance of Kim Goeun. She is just an absolute joy to watch. In Goblin she portrayed a bubbly, heart-on-her-sleeve high school girl growing up to be a lonely, struggling 29-year-old woman, with a clear transition and separation of both roles. Here in TKEM she portrayed not one, not even two but–Taeeul, Luna, Luna pretending to be Taeeul, new timeline Luna, and four alternate universe characters. Every appearance was distinct, from how she moves to her speech to the look in her eyes. Huhu amazing I love her.

Something to look forward to as the world burns. Obviously the drama wasn’t perfect. There were some narrative decisions that could have been handled differently for better clarity and less stressing over things for the viewer, since we were already breaking our brains with the theories and the math (the math is legit by the way and it’s awesome). But it’s a beautiful drama, and although I’ve never watched a drama while it is airing before, I do not regret doing it with TKEM. It was nice having Fridays and Saturdays to live for, having an alarm set to the time I was going to watch it together with a friend (annyeong Chi, thank you forever for doing this with me). It was a light guiding me through days when I’ve lost the context of time. And as Chi said, we loved TKEM and it loved us back. It loved me back so much that I’ve been writing again (thanks to both the actual drama and the unfolding romcom that is the bts reel oops).

So yeah, MSD and chicken for this hangover. Long live the King and Queen.

Drama Review

Review: Cheese in the Trap [SPOILERS]

Last night I knowingly made the mistake of watching Episode 14 of webtoon-based Kdrama Cheese in the Trap. I expected it to be a mistake because given how compelling the drama is and how in love with it I already am, starting Episode 14 would mean binge watching all through the Episode 16 finale. My expected aftermath was a sleepless night and a heart full of kilig and sepanx. I had a sleepless night sure, and sepanx in spades, but the swirling vat of kilig and delicious complex emotions I’ve accumulated for this drama were overridden by a high wave of hurt.

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Drama Review Maj Guanzon Music Dance and Lyrics

Remembering Finn, Cory and other things lost

Glee Cory Monteith Tribute

I don’t remember crying so much over someone I only felt I knew but never really did.

This week, Glee finally put out its much awaited and similarly dreaded tribute episode for the late Cory Monteith.  It was honestly one of the hardest 44 minutes of television that I had to go through, and I am a known crier for all sob stories.

Cory’s passing is one big Hollywood spectacle. But despite his tragic and sudden loss, a lot of hecklers wondered out loud, why the big deal? Why the tribute at the Emmy‘s and now for an entire episode in his memory? I can see where they were coming from. Cory was young. He was no Michael Jackson or Princess Diana. He was a budding actor with a short resume, treading the gray line between misfit and cool in Hollywood, much the same as his character quarterback-cum-acapella-singer Finn Hudson. But I guess in death, we do not look at the person’s list of achievements and measure our grieving from there. We look at the person he was, the kindness he emanated, the charm he exuded, the little good things he spread around. We wonder at the demons he faced, and are saddened that the demons won. We look at the people he loved, and know even just a tiny little bit of the grief they bear, because we have carried the same weight ourselves.

I look at how he has barely breached 30 years, and I grieve for him, and I grieve for the person I lost at the same age he was. I grieve that much the same as my personal dearly departed, Finn and Cory will only be alive again in pictures, in videos and in songs. Beyond that, as Sue said in defeat, “there is just nothing.”


Track list for Glee Season 5 Episode 3: The Quarterback

“Seasons of Love,” featuring Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, Chris Colfer, Mark Salling, Harry Shum Jr., and Glee‘s current cast.

“I’ll Stand by You,” featuring Amber Riley and Glee‘s current cast

“Fire and Rain,” featuring Chord Overstreet, Kevin McHale, and Glee’s current cast

“If I Die Young,” featuring Naya Rivera

“No Surrender,” featuring Mark Salling

“Make You Feel My Love,” featuring Lea Michele

Photo and video credits to Glee. Cory Monteith (May 11, 1982 – July 13, 2013)