Vindication: The “science” is not to be trusted.

It’s been awhile, I’ve been busy working on other projects and stories. Finally have a first draft completed for Trolls for Dust, Season 3, and editing is happening.

Sometimes we have to and should say I Told You So! even at the risk of looking petty. But this is anything but petty. This is the beginning of the collective realization that almost all of our current institutions cannot be trusted at best and even are based on lies. No, Pfizer did not do proper safety testing on the covid vaccines. Nor do they on any vaccines, is my guess, but that’s yet to come. For news on general vaccine safety and testing, take a look at

Vindication is happening over and over for those of us who stood our ground and refused to be vaccinated during the covid scam that was operated on and presented to the American public and to the world. True science is not being done. True study and safety is not being done. Why? Just like our runaway governments in much of the Western world, no one is holding the vaccine manufactures to account. It is simply a lie that vaccines are safe. It is also a lie that they are effective, and, folks, they have been lying since the invention of vaccines. Just take a read of Dr. Suzanne Humphries’ Dissolving Illusions.

And, check out Steve Kirsch’s substack on how Pfizer did not do the proper testing.

Happy Reading!

COVID Vaccine Hearing on Capitol Hill

At least one person in public office cares about the very high amounts of people who have had medical problems after the experimental “vaccine” that they were told was safe and effective. Senator Ron Johnson, thank you for at least taking the time to hear the information that has been previously banned and censored. You can watch the full hearing here:

Crimes against humanity don’t even begin to explain all of this, and still we can’t talk about it openly, for it either angers those who believe the vaccine lies and/or have taken the jabs, or, more of my concern, may put them into a state of fear. Fear is not what we want, but we do want accountability and justice for the evil that has happened. Like many others, I believe it was all intentional, a power grab, and a way to reduce the world’s population. This should not be allowed to stand, and I fervently hope it will not; however, going by the past and all of the harm caused by all of the other vaccines, it is doubtful that anyone will be held significantly accountable.

The good news is there are signs that more are waking up to the truth, more are noticing all the strangeness going on, healthy people dying suddenly, many people suddenly developing cancers, the downturn in birth rates, etc. The good news some of the doctors and professionals who actually stand a chance of doing something about this are slowly coming around to the truth. The good news is, less and less people are taking the jabs and boosters. The good news is, more and more people are coming to the realization that our health care industry doesn’t care about their health at all. It may not be realistic to expect justice to be done in this matter, but the next best thing would be for the public at large to reject the narrative of vaccines once and for all.

Today’s Webtoon: A Bit of Onscreen Magic

Recently I finished the 2022 Kdrama Today’s Webtoon and really enjoyed it. I’m not sure how many stars I would give it, as it does so many things right and so many wrong, and I’m not certain I’d watch it again, but it was on the whole enjoyable. Especially from a writing perspective, the characters on the show discuss much about writing, storytelling, art, and the creative process. Much food for thought there.

Starring the cute-as-a-button Kim Se Jeong (The Uncanny Encounter) as a former Judo champion turned webtoon producer, fellow toon rookie played by Nam Yoon Too (The King’s Affection), and their editing supervisor in a wonderful, quiet performance by Daniel Choi (The Jugglers), the story follows a standard “office work” genre format. The rookies are given tough assignments and learn on the job and not only become great at what they do, but also gain a newfound love for it. The show is a based on a Japanese manga called Juhan Shuttai. The previous TV adaptation came out in Japan in 2016. The show has two directors, Kim Young Hum and Jo Soo Won, both of whom worked together on Kdrama Gogh, the Starry Night. Jo has a bit more projects under his belt, having directed the amazing Pinocchio and also Doctor John, which I hope to watch someday.

First off, the show boasts many good, magical scenes, the best of which is On Ma Eum (Kim Se Jeong) and Seok Ji Hyung (Daniel Choi) flipping a coin at a bus station. It’s a great scene and cements the personalities of both characters, their chemistry, and possibly their future. The scene hints at future romance, but that ends in a bit of a dud. Here’s the scene. Many of the episodes had me in tears as they were very human, sweet stories. The show makes something what many would consider trivial, webtoons, or online comic series and graphic novels, and shows how the writing, messages, images, and themes can be just as profound and soul touch as literary works of yore. In tone, the show is low key, the music light. The webtoon artists themselves are all fun personalities, each with their own challenges and their own little dramas. Again, and again the producers and editors of Neon Webtoon have to stretch and finesse them to meet their production goals and keep producing toons that the audience will keep reading.

I found all the discussions about story and what makes one webtoon better than another to be fascinating. It was also interesting to see how much pressure there is to produce when working with serial stories. Sometimes I wondered if these people, artists, editors, or producers, every really got a day off. Often the artists who I figured would give up did not and some who did came back at the end, wiser and more practiced in their craft. It was inspiring to watch.

Although in the show itself the characters discuss romance in stories and how it can help move stories along and engage the audience, for some mystifying reason, at least in this adaption, there is almost zero romance. By the end, a little is forced in, and it really felt forced. Although there’s a significant age gap, the palpable chemistry between Kim Se Jeong and her supervisor really overshadows the third lead, the other rookie, Goo Jun Yeong. Spoiler: He is supposed to be the love interest. It also really doesn’t help that Nam Yoon Too is one of those actors that sucks the energy off the screen. It’s not exactly bad acting, but certainly not engaging acting and lacking in screen presence. In his defense, though, Daniel Choi has an advantage, being more of a veteran actor and looking ridiculously good in glasses–and supervisor Seok owns a lot of glasses. Also really awkward throughout the show is the product placements, not subtle in the slightest and with the tendency to pull one out of the story.

The latter half of Today’s Webtoon almost had me stop watching. One of the webtoon artists is clearly dealing with trauma or psychological problems and it is like no one at all notices. But his behavior is even abnormal despite the colorful characters that are the other artists. When the fact that he has a problem gets addressed, it is handled very poorly, with a not-too-credible reason for what happened. Although the character gets much needed closure, it is probably the show’s worst moment.

Another thing that really had me rolling my eyes after awhile, was the Neon Webtoon department’s obsession with their former company Ginger Toon. I get that it didn’t work out and that it is sad for them, but…it is a bit too much after awhile, especially as, not to disrespect comics, but it is not like they are making essential products or solving major world problems or something. It is great they all still have so much passion for Ginger Toon, but it is also cringey that they can’t just move on already. And the bad guy is so meh, but that kind of works as with the low-key style of the drama. The primary focus is the main character’s transformation in joining this field of work.

Speaking of that, I can’t say enough about Kim Se Jeong. She brings so much life to the screen and is a pleasure to watch. Her character is written well, and the Judo angle kind of neat, as is the fact that her family owns a manga or comic book cafe. Almost all of the family scenes are wonderful. They seem like a real family that genuinely cares for each other. Kim really carries the show, especially as after awhile Daniel Choi is severely underused. The outfits chosen for her character show the growing pains of a character that’s never really thought about fashion before. In the end Ma Eum’s style is comfortable, yet feminine, and unique to her.

Today’s Webtoon isn’t a drama that will change your life, but it may give you the itch to be more creative and to consider how much meaning all stories have for their readers/watchers/consumers.

What Could Be Causing the Clots?

In a sense it’s a good think that the documentary Died Suddenly is so shocking. It’s meant to grab and hold one’s attention and references other so-called conspiracy theories in part to make one comfortable taking in this information that is so opposite the mainstream narrative on the shots, but also to reference it for those of us who have been following for a time now, realizing that these aren’t “theories.” Many of these things are true, and, yes, conspiracies actually do exist.

It’s interesting, the fight over this documentary. Many are simply just maligning Stew Peters, which really is irrelevant to some degree. It is not the messenger who matters here, but the information, and it is the information, specifically about the unusual clots embalmers and others have been seeing, that is the key point to Died Suddenly. That it’s all being done on purpose to harm is the next leap, but it’s enough if the public at large just realizes that something quite awful is happening. If the clots are indeed caused by the COVID vaccines, or even in part by COVID itself, here is a very helpful article explaining how it possibly works.

As to if it’s on purpose. My personal belief is that it is on purpose. Evil absolutely exists and mostly in the form of sinful human beings who enjoy ruling over others. Last fall, in 2021, when I decided to give up my job due to the damage I saw the shots doing, the pressure to get them myself, and also the outright gaslighting going on, I nearly had a nervous breakdown. Just the thought of how many deaths were going to be coming from this. The thought of people just continually getting sick and not knowing why. The thought of not being able to help, nay, even to tell the truth, it just was so overwhelming. It was difficult to talk about these things coherently at the time, and still is a bit difficult now. So many that I know and love had and have such a willful blindness about it all. If one has followed politics it is quite easy to see that a thing like this could be planned and was planned. From all I have read and seen, I do firmly believe that both the COVID crisis and the vaccine rollout were done on purpose, and that ultimate power and control over humanity was almost seized. By the grace of God, we were pulled back just at the brink, and now it depends on how everything plays out as to if we reach such a brink again, but the spell has been broken to some degree. A much larger amount of people than before now are skeptical of the media, and especially skeptical of both the medical industry and vaccines. These people won’t necessarily say or do anything big going forward, but they won’t comply, either, and that’s what needed to ultimately make the power grab work. Still, it’s chilling to remember just how easily everyone went along with it, especially fellow Christians, who went along with orders to not meet and worship in person. That, to me, was the saddest part of all, and just brought home how sinful we really are, and how much we need our Savior, Jesus Christ. No way can we save ourselves, no way. Not went we’re so afraid of a cold we can’t even meet in God’s together. Too afraid of dying to meet together and worship our Maker. It was a truly embarrassing for the Church at large.

Well, that’s enough on top of the soap box today, but I wanted to get some of the thoughts out. Up next time will be a review of the mostly enchanting Kdrama Today’s Webtoon.

Love in Contract: Writing Fail – DNF

Park Min Young has turned out to be a great actress. Her character in City Hunter largely irritated me, but since then she has become an it girl for romantic comedies such as What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim, Her Private Life, my fave, When the Weather is Fine, and lately, Love in Contract in which she plays a thirty-something who has made marrying and divorcing men into a job. Starring alongside her are Ko Kyoung Po (Chicago Typewriter) and Kim Jae Young (Beautiful Love, Wonderful Life).

Mostly, I attempted watching this show for PMY, and Ko Kyoung Po is easy on the eyes. Wasn’t sure about the second lead as I hadn’t seen him in anything before. All around, the acting is pretty good, but they all really suffer through the writing, because it’s terrible! It’s as if the writers have no clue what either romance or comedy is. Ko valiantly carries the weight of the story as his character is the most intriguing and the least cliche. His awkward, introverted judge is supper appealing and it was clear early on that he was the one PMY’s character would fall for. Aside from their romance–and there wasn’t enough of it–the rest of the story is pretty useless. The main character’s roomie is funny and nice, but if he was easily forgotten, as was the second lead, as were most of the other characters. PMY herself also looked thin and tired, which is perhaps how her character was supposed to look, but it was distracting.

Made it to episode eleven and gave up. I just wasn’t interested anymore and it was clear the plot was just meandering along with no focus. Many of the choices the characters made were just dumb and not believable. When all you’ve got is either characters lying or withholding the truth as a way of creating drama, you don’t have much. Daytime soaps have better drama. How interesting it could have been to follow the main character as she navigates multiple marriages, and fake marriages at that. Instead the focus was on her strange past, that is sad, but not altogether interesting, and the life of the second lead, also uninteresting.

Altogether, Love in Contract will just be one of the many forgotten shows. There’s no there there to make it memorable.

Moneyball: How to Become Obsessed

Although I like attending the occasional professional game and spent much of my childhood waiting on my brothers’ Little League games to end, I’ve never been that into baseball. What I have liked a lot over the years are the movies like A League of Their Own, Angels in the Outfield, and more recently, Moneyball, and even more recently the Korean drama Stove League. Something about baseball is romantic, what exactly about it is romantic, I’m not sure, but it definitely has a completely illogical, dreamer side to it that other sports just don’t have.

Standing in the middle of right field with a too big glove on my right hand and a too big hat falling over my eyes. The sweet grass, the beautiful sky above, and wham! there comes a ball into my territory. My own experience playing softball I just never understood why the game had to interrupt my daydreaming in the outfield.

But I digress. Moneyball is a good movie and the book is an excellent read if you don’t mind skimming over a lot of statistics. The statistic, the number have an eerie draw in that if one does understand them, one might become obsessed. Michael Lewis takes a rather dry topic and makes some magic out of it. While the book isn’t quite as plot propelled as the movie starring Brad Pitt is, one can see why some screenwriter thought this story would make a good movie. Billy Beans sounds like an amazing person, and maybe a little scary. But those who see things others don’t are all a little scary to some degree.

Although Beane and what he accomplished with the Oakland A’s is the focus of the book, Lewis also delves into the obsession, the romantic obsession that so many have with the game and especially with the statistics and picking the players. He presents the intriguing Bill James, who turned writing about baseball into an art form and first started hashing out the idea that the scouts had it wrong. That how players were picked for the league teams was all wrong.

Lewis follows one obsession to another, as James picks up readers and those readers come up with new ideas and then people are obsessed not only with the game of baseball, but the metrics of it, the statistics. Sabermetrics. It’s a sad tale how these smart, genuine fans come across brilliance, but that the big league teams just don’t see it, as they are blinded both by money and just how it’s always been done. “How it’s always been done” is a curse on the world sometimes and how good it is to shake things up. More than half our stories are about this very thing and this is the great appeal of Beane’s story, except it’s backwards almost. Usually throwing off how things have been done before means getting to know people better not increasing the technology and metrics and measuring of the people. But, here, that’s what’s done, and here it works. Here, the numbers tell more of the story of a player’s worth than do the scouts who are all too often looking at the superficial.

Beane isn’t presented as some kind of saint, and neither is his assistant manager Paul DePodesta. Although both see amazing potential through the number for certain otherwise overlooked players, they are constantly moving on and moving on to the next one. It’s not about the people, it’s about getting wins, getting walks, getting on base. Or is it? A great majority of Moneyball is about the debate: Number vs. Numbers. Which statistics really tell the truth about a player and his potential? One could get obsessed.

The Afterward is the saddest and most interesting part. Writing about real people has real consequences. Even if you’re presenting everything as you see, presenting a whole person, still the readers can misunderstand. In this case, the “readers” are those involved in professional baseball. Lewis insulted them with this work and it seems like they took it out on Beane. No one likes to be told they are wrong, and it is a royal pain trying to convince anyone they are wrong. Often, they take their ire out on the messenger, and in this case, although the messenger was Lewis, they decided to take it out on Beane. Sad for him, but I’m sure he wasn’t surprised and I’m sure he used it to further his very smart antics with the Oakland A’s. I’m sorry the scouts built him up so much for baseball and it didn’t work out, but because it didn’t work out, he and the Oakland A’s changed how the game is done.

Moneyball was a good read and almost pulled me into the obsession. Someday I would like to read Bill James’s writings on the sport and I now have a much better understanding of the people in my life who are rather obsessed with baseball: They are romantics and dreamers, and maybe number people too.

Kdrama review: The Devil Judge, Excellence on Every Level

Spoilers ahead.

Approaching this review has been difficult. I absolutely loved this show. It is one of the best dramas I’ve ever seen. Instead of just gushing or simply layering effusive adjectives one on top of the other, I wanted to have something of substance to actually say. So that’s why this is late, had to wait a few days for the awesomeness of the show to lessen a bit for me.

Thankfully, The Devil Judge isn’t about the actual devil, but it is certainly about how human beings don’t act much better, especially those who have power over others. Set in a dystopian alternate reality, this show is unique among Korean TV shows, and did a good job, especially by set design, in creating a fake Korea just close enough to the real one (or the dramaland one, anyway) to be unsettling.

This show has everything: Top notch set design, phenomenal costume design, a near perfect soundtrack, great acting, fantastic directing, and truly stellar writing. See, already I’m piling on the adjectives. Although there are a few stupidities to the writing and characters as there always are, it was really some of the best writing I’ve seen for a show. At times I felt I was watching a Greek tragedy, not a modern television show. Many of the characters were fleshed out archetypes, and it absolutely worked for the show’s and plot’s purposes.

Starring Ji Sung (Dr. John) as Kang Yo Han, and Jin Young (Yumi’s Cells 2) as Kim Ga On, the story revolves around reality TV. In this world the elite have lost the trust of the masses due to their corruption. Much like in too many countries today. As a consequence, law and order is falling apart and the elites need at least a skeleton of law and order to say in power. They need at least some trust of the populace to continue their plans. They decide to make justice into a reality television show. A star judge and two co-judges will hear cases live as will anyone who watches along, and before the judge makes his final decision, he will get the votes of the regular people first. American Idol justice. Sounds awful and is awful, except the star judge in question wants to bring actual justice about. The first case he picks is one in which one of the elites is a defendant. This displeases his bosses.

The first half of the show is just building the situation of Judge Yo Han wreaking havoc on those around him, whether it’s the evil, self-righteous elites or the perhaps the even more insufferably self-righteous Ga On, who believes in human good and law and order almost to a fault. The second half is largely about Ga On fully realizing just how corrupt his society is, and with that realizing that Yo Han may not be the bad guy at all. This is essentially the story of a man becoming a monster to defeat the monsters and also training an apprentice to do the same. Yo Han is happy to play the monster to some degree because he’s always been misunderstood by those around him. He is bringing some form of justice to society and a change of power, but his true aim is revenge. It just so happens that both of these things coincide. Ga On is the everyman, he is us. He is also stupid and infuriating, but, hey, ain’t that the Average Joe? He is also easily manipulated, something that grates on us as we watch, thinking, no way would I be so easily used. But by the end of the show, I think we realize differently: We wouldn’t have fared and don’t currently fare much better. Ga On is humbled by the end and it is unclear if he will take up the vigilante mantel that Yo Han hands to him.

This is the first show I’ve seen Ji Sung in, and he was outstanding. I have no doubt this was one of the best performances of his career and of course I plan to watch his other performances as I have the chance. His character is a fun one to play, someone that walks the tightrope between good and bad. Yo Han’s methods to bring justice are what ultimately gets him labeled a “devil,” and at times one wonders exactly what world he may be ushering in. As corrupt as the society is, he may be bringing something worse into play. This is essentially what Ga On fears, that Yo Han is nothing more than a Joker character, wanting to watch the world burn. The judge definitely believes in keeping one’s enemies close, too close for comfort at times. Ji Sung is wonderful as Ga On, so wonderful, that after a certain number of episodes we really start to grate against him for thwarting Yo Han’s plans. Good writing, good acting. Ji Sung really knows how to cry on camera, and, oh, does he bring the feels. Like his character, we too are shocked, shocked at the corruption, and shocked also by Yo Han, who is clearly manipulating his coworker.

The Devil Judge also has superb villains. The two best are: Kim Min Jung (Man to Man) as crazy lady Jung Sun A. She is almost an evil queen out of a fairy tale and definitely Kim’s best performance to date. She uses her voice to great effect, talking in a weird sort of whisper. As President Heo, Baek Hyun Jin (Happiness) also has a wonderful, if painful to hear, use of voice, and is rather hilarious as Heo is a former actor using dictator speech tropes to keep the masses on his side. Baek is no stranger to playing the villain and also did great in Happiness as a whining, would be murderer.

Although the sets are fantastic it is the costume design that really sells the show. All of the characters look impeccable, everything about them suited to their stations and also ambitions in life. There are no weird fashions just for the sake of it, everything fits the story and the strangest yet most beautiful designs are given to the evil queen that as a watcher one loves to hate. It is a testament to the excellence of the show that at the end of the day we have a certain amount of sympathy for Jung Sun A. She has a very unhealthy relationship with judge Jo Yan, but their story is really only the true romance in the show, except for, perhaps, the friendship between Jo Yan and Ga On. Ga On gets a romance, but it’s one realized too late, and more just a piece of his character than anything else. One more step on his path to waking up. And wake up he does.

Much like The Hunger Games before it, The Devil Judge ends on a sad but poignant truth: Although it is possible to rid ourselves of corruption, it always comes back, because that’s human beings for you. We are sinners to the core. The difference with this story, however, is that the writers managed to end on a note of hope, if nothing else than the hope of true friendship and family. And really, if we have that in life, that is so, so much. As a Christian, of course I would have loved if they had employed more use of forgiveness and the gospel message, but few movies or shows, even so-called Christian ones, truly know how to do so, so I can’t really expect this one to, either. However, the Christian symbol of the cross is used to represent the justice being meeted out. It is clear, too, that Yo Han is just waiting for any of the bad people to simply show some true remorse, to repent and turn to good. He knows they won’t, but he gives them the chance, much like perhaps God gives us the chance in this life to repent and believe. One gets a glimmer, just a glimmer of how God must feel about our sinfulness in one powerful scene in which Yo Han reveals to Ga On just how corrupt their society is by using the case of his parents who were irreparably injured by a swindler. The kicker in the scene is that we still don’t know if Yo Han is good or what his goal is, but either way, it’s a powerful performance from Jin Young as Ga On experiences sorrow and almost a complete breakdown. In some ways, he has lost a true love. One of the best scenes in the show.

Almost an aside in the show, but certainly a part of it is the real life political trickery called COVID. This show came out in 2021 and I think the writers and producers of the The Devil Judge show great courage here in indicating that much of that whole thing was a lie, political theatre in the lust for power. Much of the world, too much, still believes the lies of COVID, many people, too many are dying and/or severely harmed by the vaccines the elites–the real world elites–foisted upon us. More people have awakened to the truth now, but in 2021 to have had this as a plot point, the gov’t making up a virus as an excuse to clear out a poor neighborhood and steal the land? Wow. Sadly, many watchers will probably take it as fantasy, but it seemed by the show comments that a few at least were awake to the truth.

The Devil Judge was so effective, because like Greek tragedy or like Shakespeare, it has a timeless quality. Change the technology and the wardrobe and this same story could take place in any country, any society, and in any time period. Most importantly, it showcases the reality of the real world and what we face on a continual basis. One stamps out corruption and the next tier, the next generation of elites, are hankering to go the same way, so powerful is the allure of money and power, so clear the pursuit of both into corrupting the heart and soul.

It is rare that a show without a happy ending gets such a thumbs up from me, but the writers latch onto the human element of true friendship and hope, the kind of friendship in which the parties are family to each other, if not biologically so. It also ends with a clear protection of family, even to the point of removing family to a place that has a chance of a better life. The ending message is that this dystopian Korea cannot be saved, yet Ga On is still there and we wonder, just what will his next steps be? Yo Han is clearly handing off the duty to him of striving to bring justice. An impossible task, but there it is. Much like God calls us to truly love our fellow sinners. Impossible, right? But God does the impossible every single day. It’s His stock in trade.

Last, but not least, this show would make a great book or book series.

Quick Reviews and Updates

Some reading, writing, and watching updates and a few quick reviews! Happy reading.

4:50 to Paddington by Agatha Christie – Almost positive I’ve read this one before, but the great thing about Christie’s mysteries is that I often forget them after reading, so when going back it’s like I’m reading it for the first time again. Anyway, this is one of those that they’ve retitled over the years. Used to be What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw. Either title works for me and this is probably one of her most inventive mysteries. Hats off! I thoroughly enjoyed it, including the cheek of Miss Marple to end by not telling us which man her young friend ended up with.

Alice – Although truly unique in the world of Korean dramas, I couldn’t finish this one. Too weird having the main love interest being essentially the same person as the main character’s mother. Incest not cool, even admidst parallel worlds.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien – What a wonderful, wholesome story! Clear lines between good and evil, characters who don’t immediately have all the answers but do their best, and a made up world that reflects our own in myriad ways, leaving such food for thought. Just who is Tom Bombadil, anyway? But that’s just it, there are mysteries in life that may never be explained to us. It’s okay, maybe even preferable, not knowing everything. It’s clearer in the books than the LOTR movies that the characters floundered for much of the time–all of them, elves included. Refreshing, perhaps, even human.

A Grand Deception by Elizabeth Mansfield – So good was this book that I can’t remember a thing about it. Now I’m reading her story My Lord Murderer. Sadly, it’s going the forgettable way, too.

The Knight by Steven James – The murders in this series are extremely violent, sickeningly so. It’s been difficult for me to continue. Taking a pause on this one.

Chimera – This Korean drama had great promise, great acting and all that, but just ended up being too slowly paced for me. Almost halfway through it didn’t feel as if the main characters were progressing with the investigation or solving the mystery.

He Is Psychometric – This was an enjoyable procedural drama starring Park Jin Young from Yumi’s Cells 1 & 2 and Shin Ye Eun from Yumi’s Cells 2. These two have good chemistry and explains a bit more the hurt that Park’s character Babi brought to Yumi with regards to Shin’s character in that show. This drama tells the story of a young man who can read the history of objects and people by touching them. It was full of good acting and decent plot points and development. Not a must see, but definitely showcases Park’s acting chops and ability to carry a show.

The Devil Judge – Talk about atypical Korean drama! Here, Park Jin Young plays an everyman character opposite a formidable and charismatic head judge played by Ji Sung (Dr. John). It’s based in a dystopian world where justice is turned into a reality television show. Haven’t finished it yet, but this is definitely one of my top favorite dramas I’ve watched. Up there with shows like Awaken, Signal, and Tunnel. Also he is not literally a devil, or the Devil, I don’t think, so much relieved there. Longer review coming.

WritingTrolls for Dust 3 is getting more added to it and also edited. As I’m still getting used to a new job, I am not sure about a timeline for this one, but I do hope to get it published just as soon as I can. For now am backing off of a thriller I started because I’m just not feeling it right now, and interestingly enough am cooking away at what I call my “grandma” story. It’s an idea for a drama that I’ve had for a few years now and I think it’s going to make a nice, little novel revolving around fairies. In addition to that, I’ve written a poem that could easily be a children’s book and if I can find someone willing to illustrate perhaps I will publish that too.

Reading – Enjoying Moneyball, have some Agatha Christie’s to dig into, and cracking open a John Grisham, The Last Juror. My all time favorite Grisham is The Pelican Brief and I’m doubtful any of his newer works can top it for me, but I always like giving him a chance. Also attempting the somewhat intimidating and tedious S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. Being familiar with Abrams, I don’t expect any solid resolutions to the mystery/ies involved, but I love the idea of two readers bashing out ideas together in the margins.

A Story to Read When You First Fall in Love: The Age Gap Romance

Spoilers ahead.

Age Gap Romances are tricky. And, especially gaps where it’s the woman who is older. Depending on the story, they don’t always come across as believable, and then there’s just the Don’t-Even-Go-There! ones. A Story to Read When You First Fall in Love gets many, awesome story points, but as a romance, I wished they just didn’t even go there.

Maybe it’s because we now have so many lonely, aging, single women suddenly waking up to the fact that feminism has failed them. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason there are more and more age gap romance dramas where the women falls for a much younger man, or he falls for her, or whatever. It’s not totally unbelievable, certainly there are relationships like this in real life, however they are not the norm, and this sub-genre of romance is definitely also in the fantasy category. In this particular drama, a Japanese drama, it really only works for one reason: The female lead is extremely beautiful almost to the point of looking ageless. If she was an average looking woman, this relationship would be creepy. In fact, later on in the show, the show itself showcases the creepiness of such relationships using a woman of the same age who is slightly less beautiful, and more manipulative.

But I get ahead of myself. Harumi Junko is a cram school teacher who never really made it in life. She failed the test for Tokyo University and just settled into being sort of a nothing. She is thirty-two, still living with her parents, and at risk of losing her job because she’s not a popular teacher at the school. Through happenstance, Harumi comes in contact with a group of teenage boys and somewhat befriends them. Later on, one of the students, a boy with pink hair named Yuri comes to her cram school. He’s a slacker who decides he wants to pass the test for Tokyo University. This is a nearly impossible feat, for he’s barely up to junior high standards in scholastic activity. However, Harumi sees something in him, a bit of herself at the same age, and she strives to help him see this through despite difficult odds.

This in itself would have been a great story, no romance needed. But, because the writers decided to go the Don’t-Even-Go-There! route, it’s also a romance. Not just any romance, no. I am not sure what’s worse, the sixteen-year age gap, the fact that Yuri is a minor and only seventeen for most of the show, or the fact that they are very clearly teacher and student. I think the last fact is the stickler for me. Coming from an American perspective we have a lot–a lot–of thirty-something female teachers who end up in sexual relationships with their male students and have ended up charged with crimes, doing jail time, etc. Fortunately in this story the female lead is so utterly clueless about any romantic attention towards herself that it’s the farthest thing from her mind until about the last episode. That doesn’t really make it great, though.

A great platonic friendship between student and teacher would have made more sense. And this is because the largest portion of the show is all about Yuri studying and striving with blood, sweat, and tears to pass the test and make it to Tokyo university. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, on the show cheers him on. And so the romance is pushed to the side…yet it’s not.

Harumi actually has three possible love interests in the show, and all are Don’t-Even-Go-There! Besides Yuri, we have Masashi, Harumi’s successful cousin who works at a trading company and who incidentally went to Tokyo University. That’s right, he’s her cousin, her literal cousin who has been in love with her for twenty years and too scared to make an actual move. Then we have Kazuma who is not only Yuri’s teacher at school school, but the first person that Harumi ever taught. He’s a bad boy, who is awesome and flirty and…married. Yes, married. But he gets divorced. I wish I could say that made things better. It didn’t. Suffice to say, with three possibles and a very clueless heroine, the show actually has very little romance, so, so little that it could have been done away with altogether.

With Yuri, he’s a minor, and of course you can’t show Harumi wanting or doing something illegal, so that’s out. There’s not a lot of “story” to their love story. Then there’s her cousin. Same deal. Then there’s the sometimes married, sometimes divorced one. Same thing again. The only way the romance kind of works in the end is that Harumi finally gets a clue already and actually does something for herself for a change. Thankfully, by this point our pink-haired hero is nineteen. Still with the pink hair, though. Yes, this man will never change, not even his hair, so you, beautiful woman, sixteen years older, have nothing to fear.

Yet there’s a lot to love about this show. Not the title, which has nothing to do with anything, but the characters. Almost every single one of them turns out to be really good people. These are people that genuinely love and care about others, and that’s pretty awesome. The cousin in love wins us over by the fact that he really does love Harumi and wants what’s best for her. He is true to her and helps Yuri for the test any way he can even though this boy is his rival. Masashi just tried so hard, yet fails so miserably, one just can’t help but root for him. But by the end, he gets the truth: cousin or no cousin, Harumi is just not into him like that. Sad, but true. He has a great line, asking her to give him a clear rejection, so he can move on. That’s a life lesson there. Often we want to let people down easy and it’s better just to give them the straightforward truth so that they can move on and find the one who will love them.

The bad boy teacher makes the biggest, selfless move, seemingly giving up everything so that Yuri can have a chance at succeeding on the test. But his move sacrifices any chance he and Harumi could be together. It’s all okay, though, because he still loves his wife, or ex-wife, or whatever she is. At the end he says he’s courting her, which is rather cute, and he becomes a politician, giving up his teaching career. He also has the best flirtations on the show and a sort of dry humor. He and Harumi drink together and fall asleep. He touches her boobs, but swears to her he didn’t do anything else because he doesn’t want to sleep with her when she’s drunk. He wants them to be coherent and in love, etc. Puzzled, she asks, then why did you touch my boobs? Because they’re there, is his answer. That got a laugh out of me. I don’t know, sometimes in these shows it’s just nice having men being, well, men. And it was just refreshing that he didn’t come up with any big excuse or falling over apology that really wouldn’t have been sincere. She obviously forgives him, for they continue to be friends.

In addition to the heroine and the three love interests, all of the minor characters on this show are also great. Some strange at first, but they all come around and are, fantastic, caring people. Interestingly, none of them are truly put out by a Harumi-Yuri romance, but then this is a bit of a fantasy. It is also a comment that people of all ages do fall in love, and sometimes with those deemed unlikely to be the object of one’s affection.

It is true that age gaps matter less the older one is, however, it was just unseemly that Yuri was a minor and also her student. It’s hard not to see a “grooming” aspect in the story, and the writers know full well it is there as they address it later on with another teacher the same age as Harumi who definitely preys on her students in a romantic way. This is then swept away as she just does it to motivate them to study. Really?!? In the last episode many other teachers at the cram school state that when the students pass their exams they will often give love confessions to their teachers. Maybe stuff like that does happen, and sure, students sometimes get crushes on their teachers, but it’s odd to make it seem so lighthearted and so commonplace mixing romance with teacher-student relationships. Maybe I am just too cynical, but what’s the real agenda of such plot lines?

Age gaps: Sixteen years. This is one of the biggest age gaps I’ve seen in an Asian drama. My favorite one, High School King of Savvy, was ten years and definitely and solidly more of a romantic comedy, with a clear emphasis on both. They took pains to show how the pair was a match for each other and also that the young man was ready to be a man. It still has a bit of a weird factor, though. Then there’s Secret Love Affair that is almost a work of art when it comes to the sound and cinematography, but has a twenty-year age gap with the man being younger. In that one at least he’s not a minor, but the woman is married. Don’t-Even-Go-There! but the writers do and somehow manage to tell compelling stories while doing so.