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.

Book review: The Devil in the Dark Water

SPOILERS

As I very much enjoyed The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, I was super excited to read Stuart Turton’s next book. Okay, to be fair, the ending of 7 1/2 Deaths wasn’t ideal, but it’s a story in which whatever explanations comes up it will sound hokey. It’s just that kind of story. The Devil in the Dark Water, however, is different, more of straightforward whodunnit and set in an interesting period of time, the 1600s and on the high seas to boot.

The first half or so of the book was great, very good set up, etc., but I was disappointed that this very famous detective Samuel Pipps was barely a part of the story. The two characters who end up being the detectives, as Sammy is imprisoned, were sorta bland, if good people. There was some vibrancy lacking in their characters. The ending explained just why Sammy couldn’t be the detective in the mystery and that reveal was actually okay.

I don’t know much about sailing on the ocean, much less at that time in history, but it strained credulity to me that they ended up shipwrecked on just the island they were supposed to be shipwrecked on. This after a very long storm that the culprits couldn’t have known was coming. Also, I struggled picturing the world of the boat in my head. Some of the descriptions were fine, but I didn’t quite get how or where all the other passengers who weren’t the main nobles fit onto the boat. Perhaps in my head the ship was smaller than it actually is in the book. Also, by the end of the story, I was thinking more of the show Lost than that time period. The atmosphere had disappeared.

The ending ending. The answers to the mystery all made sense to some degree, but what did not make sense is that our upright heroes agree to form a secret society with the murderers to supposedly bring judgement on “bad” nobles. These people had just been betrayed by who they thought were their best friends. The “friends” they are going to collaborate in the future are untrustworthy to the extreme, and are also violent and dangerous. They have no problem harming the innocent in their desire to deal out “justice.” I found the ending bizarre and lacking in morality. Repulsive, even. Suddenly the main characters no longer seemed good, or any good. A society like this would be something to be afraid of. On the one hand we can all understand the idea of vigilante justice, but on the other, the reality of a world run that way would be terrifying. Robin Hood or Batman are fictional also, but these guys have rules. To some degree they do their stuff within the bounds of law and morality. With the people in this book, however, I shudder. It clearly struck me in reading the ending how much I did not care for any of the characters.

Sometimes it would be far better to simply end on a cliffhanger. And now I really want a smashing good detective story about Samuel Pipps, a good Sammy Pipps who’s like Sherlock, just in a different century.

Turton’s definitely got talent, but I think it’s difficult on the next book when the first one’s such a success. It’s like poor, M. Night Shyamalan trying to comeback after The Sixth Sense. Expectations are next to impossible. That being said, the ending was terrible and unlike, 7 1/2 Deaths, I do not recommend this book and it will not stay on my bookshelves.

Yumi’s Cells 1&2: Final Opinion

Spoilers ahead.

This was a great show. It really goes through the ups and downs of how people are thinking and feeling, especially when it comes to dating and romantic relationships. It had great acting, great soundtrack, and great CGI for the cell characters. Often it was laugh-out-loud hilarious. That being said, the ending wasn’t great.

Sadly many stories fall or rise depending on their endings. The majority probably fall, which is why we never hear about them. A bad ending, however, doesn’t mean people will not still enjoy and read or watch the story. I found the ending to Tess of the D’Urbervilles absurd yet it was a treat to read, sad story that it was, so I will read it again someday. Also the show Lost. I didn’t care for the ending, but would absolutely watch the show again. It was exciting and trippy. It is the same with Yumi’s Cells. I did not like the ending of season 2, but I would definitely watch the show again.

Simply said, the ending doesn’t match the rest of the show. Perhaps the comic it is based on focuses more on Yumi’s personal growth and her writing career, but largely the show did not. It focused on what most watching Kdramas want: romance. And because so much focus was on the romances that Yumi had, the personal growth ending just didn’t fit. It was a disappointment. We as the viewers wanted her to end up with Wung or Babi, and if neither, then be properly introduced to the real Mr. Right at the end. There was an introduction of him, but it was hardly him, just a haze, a shadow. I also really wanted to see Yumi actually loving someone. All through her time with both Wung and Babi, it’s like she never really loved them, but they loved her a great deal, especially Babi. How satisfying it would have been to have her realize she was in love with either one, but especially with Babi because he clearly fought for her the whole time.

In the end Yumi is run by her Writing cell. I’m not sure that’s an improvement over being run by her Love cell. Careers are fleeting things. People are what matters. The writing of the show did not leave me with the impression that Yumi will really learn to love this new guy on the horizon, even though she did have some character growth. It is a triumph to be content in one’s life and content just being single, too, if that’s the state you are in.

The show is still great and worth watching because at times it digs deep into both the feels and the humor and the opposite ways men and women often think. Both sexes are out of sync with each other, as Alison Armstrong of The Queen’s Code would say. A lot of the side characters are a hoot as are main ones like Wung. And the show does deliver romance, just not lasting romance and true love. If they were real people, I would hope that both Wung and Babi could quickly get over Yumi and move on to a woman who really loves them. And for Yumi that she would really fall in love with someone.

Yumi’s Cells 2: Hilarious!

Spoilers ahead.

This series is my current favorite. Not only is it hilarious, but it also has a lot of food for thought and fun, romantic suspense: Which guy will Yumi end up with? Based on the popular Webtoon, Yumi’s Cells was an instant hit, taking a lonely 30-something through one romantic possibility after another. In season one, we were introduced to Ku Woong (Ahn Bo Hyun – Kairos),got to watch as he and Yumi built a relationship, and subsequently got to watch it fall apart largely due to lack of communication.

Alternating between the real life scenes are cartoon scenes of the “cells” in each of their bodies, telling the audience what the character is thinking and feeling but as if each thought or desire was a separate cute, cartoon character interacting and arguing with the others. At first I didn’t like the back and forth, but more and more I enjoyed the very funny cells scenes that put a great X-factor on what is itself a rather humdrum story. It also makes one think, “hey, I sometimes do that!” or think that way, or feel that way. It makes one start to consider what “cell” is ruling at any given time. Am I ruled by logic primarily? Pride? Love? Hope? The depth of the show is often astounding.

It was sad to see Yumi and Ku Woong break up at the end of season one and I was pleasantly surprised there was a season 2, because with Kdramas there’s so often not. Yumi’s Cells 2 is even better. Kim Go Eun (Goblin) is Yumi. I can’t see the character being played by anyone else. And, although Yumi is frustratingly awkward in romance, she has good chemistry with this season’s love interest, Yoo BaBi, played by Jin Young of group GOT7. Jin is not only easy on the eyes, just like Ahn, but he has very expressive eyes himself, always a plus for an actor.

Babi was literally a paper doll in season one. Hey, it’s true, often when you’re dating or really into a certain person, all the other guys or girls could just be paper dolls, no matter how cute they are. It was pretty funny seeing that shown on screen that way. In season two it is Babi’s turn to date Yumi, and although he’s refreshingly straightforward as a person, it still takes them what seems like ages to get together. In contrast with Woong, Babi is more of a grownup and thus Yumi becomes more grownup as well. Some may think of this as boring, but it’s character growth and the two characters really seem like they have a real relationship. Refreshing also, is that Babi isn’t run by pride. His heart throws a party in welcome for Yumi. It’s a great thing and I sometimes wish that more people were like this: more straightforward and more ready just to dive into love. So, so much time is wasted on hesitation. Diving in is likely the best way to get to know the person, to know if they really are the right one. Over time, Yumi also has the courage to be straightforward as well, and sadly, a bit of her hesitancy and awkwardness rubs off on Babi. But, hey, he’s too perfect and needs flaws.

Speaking of those, Babi is quite possibly too nice in some ways and too open to love. If you have a damsel, you shouldn’t be out there helping every other damsel in distress you see. While that should be obvious, it isn’t to Babi, and he finds himself quite shocked one day to find that he has allowed a cute intern to worm her way into his affections. Sometimes it can be dangerous to care about others too much. If you have a significant other, there must be boundaries in place to protect yourself, that person, and the relationship. It seems Babi didn’t have those boundaries set well. Yumi ends up so hurt by this–even though he didn’t really, physically cheat on her–that she breaks up with him.

Although I am very team Babi, I get that Yumi can’t trust him. Still, he chases after her, while Woong most certainly did not. It shows Babi is willing to fight for her, and is something that remains with the viewers even after Woong shows up again, with better clothes, better hair, and loads of money as his computer game has now become a success.

Despite Woong being back in the picture and still head over heels for Yumi and egged on by the awesome “Control Z” illustrator (P.O of Block B), the show clearly still has plans for Babi. Both men face off in a hilarious showdown in which their cartoon cells do all the actual fighting. Both get significant barbs in, but it’s Babi who walks away with the girl.

The scene where Yumi and Babi get back together was done so well. The acting was amazing and we could see both knocking down each other’s walls. Afterward they are awkward together and walking on eggshells and it’s only at the end of episode 12 that we really find out why: Each one is sure the other one feels they made a mistake in getting back together. But that they are finally able to tell each other that is a great thing.

Not a great thing: Like Woong, Babi has now for the second time kept very important information from Yumi. It’s a lie of omission, it’s not ideal, and throws Yumi for a very big loop, as normally he is very straightforward. This seems to be his great flaw, that he is unable or unwilling to share either something he doesn’t understand about himself, or something he thinks will burden Yumi. Hopefully he got the message loud and clear from her that he shouldn’t do that, that not communicating is worse than the hurt that could be caused by communicating. Communication is so key in every relationship, but especially in romantic ones. Our basic instincts have us constantly misunderstanding each other, so even if a couple communicates well, it can still be a bit of a battle.

Four more episodes remain in the season. Although the Webtoon adds another guy, purportedly the one and Mr. Right, I do not know if there are plans for a season three of the drama. I think the writers will have Yumi end up with either Woong or Babi. The feminism doesn’t seem strong enough in this show to have her end up alone, but who knows? I am waiting in suspense for the next episodes.

The funniest things this season: Ruby and Control Z! Wow, are they great. I loved Lee Yoo-Bi in Pinocchio and she’s hilarious here as well as a ridiculous, cute girl who always refers to herself in the third person. We get more of these two than is warranted, but I like it. Funniest cells scene, aside from the man face off, was when Yumi and Babi kiss for the first time. Their tongue cells meet! It was laugh-out-loud funny. Yumi’s editor, played by Jun Suk Ho (Kingdom Season 2) was also hysterical.

Other things I love about this season is the soundtrack–a lot of great, mellow love songs–and also the poster. It’s a great poster. See for yourself: https://asianwiki.com/images/e/e4/Yumis_Cells_S2-p2.jpg

Can’t wait to find out what happens!

Updates

Finally, I am making headway with my manuscript. Telling a complicated story only gets more complicated with each subsequent book, but it’s fun. Kinda like solving a puzzle. So Trolls for Dust, Season 3 is rolling again-yay! It’s satisfying to look out on the figurative horizon and see a point where I could have people read the tome and give their thoughts. And it is a tome, a doorstop that I hope and pray will be worthy of the trees killed in its name when printed.

Summer is good. I am changing jobs, which will hopefully be both fruitful and interesting. It’s a relief to change things up sometimes. That being said, I have thought a bit about blogging and this blog and do want to continue to do reviews every week. But it was nice to have a break.

Korean dramas I am watching and will soon have reviews of: Yumi’s Cells 2 (tearing my heart out), Chimera (who doesn’t love a good serial killer mystery series?), and Alice (time travel plot twisty goodness).

Books I am reading and will soon have reviews of: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (since I saw the movie once upon a time and already know the twist, it’s a bit meh), The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien (so wholesome compared to more modern fare. Even Sauron seems wholesome!), A Grand Deception by Elizabeth Mansfield (those Regency romances keep following me), and The Knight by Steven James (book 3 of the Patrick Bowers series. Reading one of these a summer. Maybe should speed it up?).

My heart is up and down these days and sometimes the Psalmist says it all:

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37: 3&4

Happy Summer!

Hello, All! Well, June is here and in May I did some writing and since my book is calling to me, will be working more on that the rest of the summer. So I won’t be posting very regularly.

God answers prayers and I am happy to report that He seems to be answering my prayer for a great summer for me, my friends, and family with a resounding YES! What winter will bring, we have yet to see, but summer is to be fun and glorious and for that I am very, very happy. We need to be filled up with joy for the sorrows and hardships we may face ahead.

Speaking of sorrows, I’m hearing of more and more people diagnosed with various ailments and illnesses they have “had for years and just didn’t know it.” I am hearing of more people going on disability and more people suddenly dying. The main cause, however, is still elusive to the general public. Most want to pretend the authoritarian two years of COVID did not happen and that many, many people took a harmful vaccine under coercion and threat. To us who have long been awake about vaccines, it seems obvious that the vaccines have been hastening death and ill health in many as their immune systems have been, possibly, irrepairably harmed. Socially, there is still the pressure to not mention vaccines, or the vaccine, to not bring it up. To so many friends I want to ask, did they (whoever is having the health issue) get the vaccine? But I’m just not sure how they’ll react. So, so many still have a huge blindspot about vaccines, thinking that a vaccine is always something good and could never harm anyone. It fills me with sorrow to see so many under this delusion and under this spell. And it is a kind of spell, because if people weren’t under it, they would question vaccines or list them as possible causes for health difficulties. Sorrow hovers over me, too, knowing there may be many, many more yet to come who will die or have serious health problems due to these vaccines, probably at these some that I know personally. And yet I also live in the JOY that God is in control and that he has and may still spare some from their bad decision.

True Beauty: I realized I completely forgot to write a review for this funny and excellent Korean drama! Suffice to say, I really liked it, even though some of the initial episodes dragged. The show reminded me a bit of Boys over Flowers, perhaps being a high school show, and also of Extraordinary You, as it is the same director. In fact, if one pays attention there are a few nods to Extraordinary You in the show. The acting was great and the topic timely, as so many especially young women are obsessed with their own looks. Moral of the story: Ladies, don’t stress! If he likes your looks, he likes your looks, wearing makeup may enhance your attributes, but it’s really just down to does the guy dig you or not. If he does dig you, jackpot! If not, changing your looks isn’t really going to do anything, and isn’t it a rather hollow victory to only win someone after having to change so much for them?

In this story the main character uses makeup to stop being bullied for being “ugly,” but really she finds all she needs is self-confidence. Makeup isn’t directly vilified in the show; in fact, it’s a bit of a springboard for the heroine who finds a passion for it, wanting to be a professional makeup artist. What is highlighted in the show is the bad behavior of people who constant criticize others looks and call them ugly. From what I have heard of South Korean society, they have a problem with this. How true this is, I don’t know firsthand, but find most Koreans very good looking. Perhaps these are problems that plague good looking peoples? Shrug. Who knows? Americans often seem to revel in looking fat and sloppy–different side of the spectrum. Anyway, True Beauty was a great show, laugh out loud funny at times and having much food for thought.

It’s a Distraction

Hi, All,

Just popping on to say this whole Supreme Court thing right now is a distraction. Pfizer has been forced to reveal 80 more pages of damning data on their so-called vaccine. This is due to the wonderful lawyer Aaron Siri of I Can Decide and The Highwire. I can’t tell you enough how much he and this organization have done. He has won law suit after lawsuit for the American people, and, well, the world. The safety and efficacy of this vaccine, but really any vaccine is one of the biggest lies ever told–ever! And I am so thankful that more and more people are waking up to that. There is not one answer to health, one fix. God has provided many ways to heal, the biggest one, of course, being turning to Him in prayer. Vaccines generally harm a person’s immune system and spread disease. The little “efficacy” they have is to be spit upon.

Sadly, I belong to some groups where I can’t share this, where even my fellow Christians and friends would likely label it as speech that is the opposite of love–which is ridiculous–but that’s where we are these days. If you want real stories and hard data on all things vaccine, I encourage you to start watching Del Bigtree on The Highwire. The journalism is solid, the desire for the truth sincere. The show airs for a couple of hours on Thursdays at 1pm CT, but you can watch anytime on their site after that as well. Thank you, Del and Thank you Aaron! Again, due to these people Pfizer cannot hide their documents until our grandchildren are old. That’s how evil these pharmaceutical companies are, how much they have our “best” health and interest in mind.

thehighwire.com

Updates

Happy Wednesday! Later this week I will have a review of the charming, funny show True Beauty. After that, due to limited time and energy and the need to focus on my own stories, I will be taking a break from blogging, at least until June. Thank you so much for reading. –Pixie