The May drama frenzy is slowly wrapping up, with Best Love being the first among the batch to come to a close. And well, this means that we can start anticipating for the upcoming July drama frenzy. But I can’t be the only one finding it difficult to get all these titles straight, right? So for your convenience, I’ve prepared a list of the upcoming dramas for July and August, and my quick thoughts on them. There definitely is a much greater variety in the upcoming batch of dramas, so hopefully, you will find that there is something for everyone!
Myung Wol the Spy (KBS)
Projected broadcast period: July 11-Aug. 30, 2011 (16 episodes) (scheduled to replace Baby-Faced Beauty)
PD: Hwang In Hyuk (Sungkyunkwan Scandal, The Iron Empress, Pure 19, Goodbye Solo)
Scriptwriters: Kim Eun Young & Kim Jung Ah (Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy???)
Cast: Han Ye Seul (Will It Snow For Christmas), Eric Mun (Strongest Chil Woo), Lee Jin Wook (City of Glass), Jang Hee Jin (2009 Hometown Legends), Lee Duk Hwa (Midas), Yoo Ji In (49 Days), Jo Hyung Ki (Your Heaven), Lee Byung Joon (Dream High)
Synopsis: A spy, melodrama (첩보멜로물) that features a love story between a beautiful North Korean spy (played by Han Ye Seul) and South Korea’s top Hallyu star (played by Eric Mun).
Blue’s clues: Hmm, all this time, I had assumed Myung Wol the Spy was a romantic comedy, so I was pretty surprised (and disappointed) when I learned that the Korean media was describing it as a “spy, melodrama.” (Yeah, your guess is good as mine on what that exactly means, but it sounds like it might be a similar genre as the 1999 film Shiri, perhaps?)
PD Hwang has a diverse list of dramas to his resume, including the introspective Goodbye Solo, a popular daily drama (Pure 19), a traditional sageuk (The Iron Empress), and a more modern, fusion sageuk (Sungkyunkwan Scandal). Considering how the tones of all his past dramas were so different from each other, I’m super curious how he’ll deliver his newest work… especially since the genre for this drama is still unclear.
Not much is known about the writers. Kim Eun Young was one of the winners in the 2010 KBS drama script contest for Myung Wol the Spy. Past winners include Gumiho: Tale of the Fox’s Child and My Country Calls, but I still haven’t made up my mind on whether any special merit should be given to the dramas that win in these drama script contests. From what I can tell, it’s just a way to recognize new and upcoming writers, and doesn’t signify that they’re any better writers than the already established writers with more experiences. The other screenwriter, Kim Jung Ah, has the same name as the writer for Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy. I’ve been trying to look up whether they merely share the same name (Jung Ah is a common Korean name) or whether it’s the same person, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find any info on it.
I’ll say it straight out that Han Ye Seul is not a very good actress, but her strongest performance to date was in the comedy Fantasy Couple. This is one of the major reasons why I’m disappointed Myung Wol the Spy is not a romantic comedy. I can handle watching sixteen episodes of her playing a comical role, but a melodrama? I’m not sure about that one.
Projected broadcast period: July 25, 2011 (32 episodes) (scheduled to replace Miss Ripley)
PDs: Kim Geun Hong (Queen Seon Deok, Yi San, Jumong) & Jung Dae Yoon
Scriptwriter: Jung Hyung Soo (Yacha, Dream, Jumong, Damo)
Cast: Lee Seo Jin (Hon), Jo Jae Hyun (New Heart), Cha In Pyo (Daemul), Oh Yeon Soo (Bad Guy), Jun Noh Min (Royal Family), Kim Yoo Suk (Smile Donghae)
Synopsis: A big-budget sageuk drama on the life of General Gyebaek of Baekje.
Blue’s clues: Another big-budget weekday sageuk from MBC, following in the footsteps of Queen Seon Deok, Yi San, and Jumong, with many of the same people from these dramas collaborating once again. The latest news is that the production is having some major budgeting issues, but as long as that pulls through, I predict that Gyebaek will do well in the ratings, attracting the same group of audience as the prior dramas.
I don’t expect this to be a particularly innovative or groundbreaking sageuk drama. If you loved and enjoyed the other sageuk dramas listed, make sure to check out Gyebaek. If you did not, don’t expect to suddenly fall in love with this one. Simple as that!
Warrior Baek Dong-soo (SBS) (previously known as Honorable Baek Dong-soo)
Projected broadcast period: July 4-Sept. 20, 2011 (24 episodes) (scheduled to replace Lie to Me)
PDs: Lee Hyun Jik (OB&GYN, Lobbyist, That Woman, Punch) & Kim Hong Sun (Yacha, Jung Yak Yong, Mackerel Run, Exhibition of Fireworks)
Scriptwriter: Kwon Soon Kyu (internet novelist)
Cast: Ji Chang Wook (Smile Donghae), Yoo Seung Ho (Flames of Ambition), Yoon So Yi (Hero), Shin Hyun Bin (He’s on Duty), Jeon Gwang Ryul (Sign), Choi Min Soo (Road No. 1)
Synopsis: Drama adaptation of a manhwa by the same name. A fusion action sageuk under the fictional premise that Crown Prince Sado (King Jeongjo’s father) actually had a powerful secret force behind him. The drama will be a fictionalized account of a real-life historical figure, Warrior Baek Dong-soo, and a battle between King Jeongjo’s royal guards protecting the king and a secret assassin group plotting to kill him.
Blue’s clues: What exactly is meant by an internet novel? Is it like a fanfic? But anyway, although he doesn’t have any experience in writing dramas, Kwon Soon Kyu was the grand prize (daesang) winner in the 2004 SBSi internet novel contest.
The two directors involved both have experiences in bringing much “flash” to their dramas (wait, is that a good thing?), but I do think their style fits for an action fusion sageuk such as this.
I’m not too crazy about the young cast, but with my low expectations, I’m totally waiting to be pleasantly surprised.
The Princess’s Man (KBS)
Projected broadcast period: July 20-Oct. 6, 2011 (24 episodes) (scheduled to replace Romance Town)
PD: Kim Jung Min (Drama Special: Family Secrets, Loving You a Thousand Times, Hometown Legends, Cannot Hate You, Barefoot Love, Woman Above Flowers)
Scriptwriters: Jo Jung Joo (Partner) & Kim Wook
Cast: Park Shi Hoo (Queen of Reversals), Moon Chae Won (It’s Okay Daddy’s Girl), Hong Soo Hyun (Lie to Me), Song Jong Ho (Three Sisters), Lee Min Woo (Life is Beautiful), Lee Soon Jae (My Princess), Kim Young Chul (Life is Beautiful)
Synopsis: A Joseon-era Romeo and Juliet love story between King Sejo’s daughter and Kim Jongseo’s youngest son. (King Sejo, better known as Grand Prince Suyang, killed Kim Jongseo in a coup to take power from Kim Jongseo and his faction before taking the throne for himself.)
Blue’s clues: Based strictly on the cast and the premise of the show, The Princess’s Man is the drama that I’m most fascinated by and anticipating the most from the upcoming batch of dramas. This will be Park Shi Hoo’s first period piece since Iljimae, and Moon Chae Won’s first since The Painter of the Wind.
I haven’t watched any of Director Kim Jung Min’s past works, so I purposely checked out his Drama Special episode to get a feel for his style. And well, his style is not very… noteworthy. Not once while watching the episode did I think, “Wow, that’s so visually stimulating or creative.” (In other words, style-wise, I predict he’ll be closer to Dong Yi than Chuno, if that makes sense.) I don’t really have any thoughts on the writers, so I hold no prior biases about them.
You’ve Fallen For Me (a.k.a. Heartstrings) (MBC) (previously known as Festival)
Projected broadcast period: June 29-Aug. 18, 2011 (16 episodes) (scheduled to replace Best Love)
PD: Pyo Min Soo (Coffee House, The World that They Live In, Insoon is Pretty, Which Star Are You From, Full House, Solitude, Blue Mist, Foolish Love, Sad Temptation, Lie)
Scriptwriter: Lee Myung Sook (Just Run)
Cast: Jung Yong Hwa (You’re Beautiful), Park Shin Hye (You’re Beautiful), Song Chang Eui (Life is Beautiful), So Yi Hyun (Gloria), Kang Min Hyuk (It’s Okay Daddy’s Girl)
Synopsis: A story of love, friendship, and dreams of college students at a performing arts college.
Blue’s clues: It’s the reunion of the Go Minam and Kang Shinwoo couple from You’re Beautiful! I’ve never heard of writer Lee Myung Sook or her drama Just Run. (Any info or feedback on her dramas would be greatly appreciated!) In contrast, director Pyo Min Soo is one of the few star-status drama PDs in Korea, with a long list of dramas to his resume. Pyo has had many hits and misses, but I honestly believe that he fully deserves his fame. Whether he’s making a romantic comedy drama about a contract marriage, or an adulterous affair between two lonely people, Director Pyo is a genius in just striking the right tone and atmosphere for his dramas.
Protect the Boss (SBS) (previously known as The Last Female Secretary and The Boss Has Changed)
Projected broadcast period: Aug. 3-Sept. 22, 2011 (16 episodes) (scheduled to replace City Hunter)
PD: Son Jung Hyun (First Wives Club, Crazy for Love, Princess Lulu, Lovers in Paris, New Human Market)
Scriptwriter: Kwon Ki Young (Drama Special: The Woman Next Door, Crazy for Love)
Cast: Ji Sung (Royal Family), Choi Kang Hee (Petty Romance), Hero Jaejoong (Heaven’s Postman), Wang Ji Hye (President), Lee Hee Jin (Best Love)
Synopsis: A romantic comedy about a woman who lands a job as a secretary at a major company after struggling to find employment, and falls in love with her boss.
Blue’s clues: Hmm, I really like this cast. In particular, Ji Sung and Choi Kang Hee teaming up for a rom-com… they look like they’d make such a fun and quirky pairing! I’m sold! But what an unusual writer choice for a romantic comedy. Writer Kwon’s past dramas were all about miserable people falling in moody love, so I can’t even guess what kind of rom-com he would create. One interesting thing is that whereas most romantic comedy dramas are written by female writers, the writer here is male. I think it’d be interesting to check out what kind of male perspective he would bring in.
Early evening weekend dramas:
Golden Pond (tentative title) (KBS)
Projected broadcast period: Aug. 6, 2011 (scheduled to replace Believe in Love)
PD: Ki Min Soo (That Fool, Goodbye Solo)
Scriptwriter: Lee Jung Sun (My Life’s Golden Age, Surgeon Bong Dal Hee, Be Strong Geum Soon, Age of Innocence, Days of Delight, Seven Spoons, TV City, Adolescence)
Cast: Uee (You’re Beautiful), Joo Won (Baker King Kim Tak Gu), Baek Il Sub (The Scarlet Letter), Jung Woong In (King Geunchogo)
Synopsis: A family drama about the Hwang family of four sons who lives on a farm on the outskirts of Seoul. Uee plays a woman who shows up in front of the Hwang family one day to reclaim her old farm, starts up conflicts, and has a love story with the third son.
Blue’s clues: The first thought that came to my mind when I read this synopsis was “The Sons of Sol Pharmacy taking place in a farm.” I was a fan of two of the writer’s past works (Surgeon Bong Dal Hee and Seven Spoons), and absolutely hated one (Age of Innocence has the honor of making my list of “The Worst Kdrama that I’ve watched until the end”). The director should be fine. I really have no thoughts on the cast so far, but I was a member of the “Joo Won can’t act” club during Baker King. We’ll have to wait and see who gets casted in the roles of the other three brothers now.
Late evening weekend dramas:
King Gwanggaeto the Great (KBS)
Projected broadcast period: Currently airing
PD: Kim Jong Sun (Dae Jo Young, Taejo Wang Geon, King and Queen, Dawn)
Scriptwriters: Jo Myung Joo (Three Dads One Mom, The Vineyard Man) & Jang Ki Chang (The Immortal Yi Soon Shin)
Cast: Lee Tae Gon (Golden Fish), Kim Seung Soo (I Am Legend), Im Ho (You Don’t Know Women), Oh Ji Eun (Smile Donghae), Kim Jung Hwa (Job Well Done), Hong Kyung In (Comrades), Lee In Hye (Comrades), Jo Ahn (Three Sisters)
Synopsis: An epic-scale sageuk drama on the life of King Gwanggaeto of Goguryeo.
Blue’s clues: This drama has started already, but I haven’t gotten a chance to watch it yet. But here’s what I said about it earlier:
“This is a drama on the life of King Gwanggaeto, the king of Goguryeo who is known for expanding his kingdom far and wide. Naturally, I expect there to be many court politics and battle scenes, and there are very few directors who have had as much experience in this field as PD Kim Jong Sun.
Writer Jang Ki Chang also has some experience with writing a sageuk from co-writing The Immortal Yi Soon Shin. But Jo Myung Joo is an interesting choice to work on this drama, considering her past works only included modern-day romantic comedy dramas. And even within this genre, I did not think that her scripts were exactly tightly written, which makes me wonder how she would be able to handle the much longer and much more demanding sageuk drama script. Umm, good luck?
Actor Lee Tae Gon will be playing the title character of King Gwanggaeto. I can understand why they casted him, as he has that deep voice and the (former swimmer) built that would suit a king. Although this is not his first sageuk (he played young Yeon Gae Somun in the 2006-07 sageuk drama, Yeon Gae Somun - thanks dramaok for the correction!), leading one will place a heavy burden on his shoulders. I’m not sure he’s yet ready for such a role, but umm, good luck?”
Hooray for Love (MBC) (previously known as The Woman Who Never Loses)
Projected broadcast period: July 16, 2011 (scheduled to replace Can You Hear My Heart)
PD: Joo Sung Woo (Golden Fish, Hyunhaetan Marriage War, Chunja’s Happy Events)
Scriptwriter: Park Hyun Joo (Enjoy Life, My Precious Child, Golden Bride, One Day Suddenly, Queen of Conditions, Pardon, Sweet Bride, When Salmon Returns, Elegy, Asphalt Man, Conditions of Love)
Cast: Lee Bo Young (The Birth of the Rich), Lee Tae Sung (Playful Kiss), Jin Yi Han (All for Love), Byun Jung Soo (Manny), Bae Jong Ok (Pure Pumpkin Flower), Chun Ho Jin (City Hunter)
Synopsis: A comical family drama about a woman (played by Lee Bo Young) who overcomes obstacles after being betrayed by her husband. A love triangle with a playboy lawyer (Lee Tae Sung) and her ex-husband (Jin Yi Han) ensues.
Blue’s clues: The director did mostly daily dramas. The writer did mostly morning, daily, or weekend dramas. I predict that this will be one of those VERY conventional weekend dramas liked by ahjummas.
Scent of a Woman (SBS)
Projected broadcast period: July 23, 2011 (scheduled to replace New Gisaeng Story)
PD: Park Hyung Ki (Dr. Champ, Get Karl! Oh Soo Jung, I Want to Love)
Scriptwriter: Noh Ji Seol (Dr. Champ)
Cast: Kim Sun Ah (City Hall), Lee Dong Wook (Partner), Eom Ki Joon (Dream High), Seo Hyorim (Sungkyunkwan Scandal)
Synopsis: A romantic comedy drama that starts when a struggling low-level employee at a travel agency (played by Kim Sun Ah) goes on an overseas trip in search of happiness. The production describes Scent of a Woman as a rom-com that “delivers the message that you find happiness when you stay true to the here and now.”
Blue’s clues: So it’s the new drama by the director-writer team of Dr. Champ. Despite being oh so prettily filmed and all the half-naked men running around enjoying their bromance, I was not a fan of the writing for Dr. Champ.
So what can I say specifically about Scent of a Woman? Based on the producer/writer’s past work and the drama description, it sounds like Scent of a Woman will be a very low-key drama. Hmm, I do think this has a pretty decent cast… But who am I kidding? All the “Wookie” fans and Kim Sun Ah fans will watch this no matter what, am I not correct? They have such a loyal fan base.