While the landscape of Korean entertainment can be vast and wondrous, it’s often the little things that make us fall in love, inspire awe, evoke secondhand embarrassment, or sometimes…break our hearts. In this segment, we ask our writers: Among the many things vying for your attention this week, what made your heart beat?
[Music] Youha, “Abittispy”
This week, I have once again become obsessed with the criminally underrated “Abittispy” by Youha. At least once every two weeks, I just listen to it on a loop, because it is amazing. I’ve never even seen the MV, I just adore this song. The 80s pop is brilliantly composed– dazzling and glittery synths dancing all over the mix, with just enough darkness in the bass to convey the pain Youha is trying to hide via her nonchalance. A driving beat that warps the other elements of production, giving it an off-kilter feel. The high, bright “oh!”‘s in the chorus right before dropping into a rapid almost mumble. “Abittispy” is one of the most perfectly composed tracks I have ever laid ear on, and I will be happily listening to it until I die.
[Music] TXT, N.Flying
This week I’ve had a mix of TXT and N.Flying on repeat. I often like the sound of TXT’s albums and the world building that they continue to cultivate, but lately I’ve fallen in love with both “0x1=LOVESONG” and “Anti-romantic” off Chaos Chapter: Freeze. There’s a fun nostalgic melancholy in both, especially “Anti-romantic.” I love the unapologetic repeat of essentially “sorry I’m not into romance, I’ve had my heart broken before, so I’m not sure what loving you would mean.” Comparing love to bitter chocolate is a fun and sometimes fitting analogy that I feel like I’m still unpacking (#foreversingle).
Secondly, I just unashamedly love N.Flying. Their performance charisma, killer vocals (Hweseung and Seunghyub are stunning in this era), and great music are amazing on their own, but I keep coming back for their dumb, chaotic shenanigans, like the entire “Let’s Roll” series, too. Now that their drummer Jaehyun is back from filming a drama in Japan the last few months, I’m glad to see them back to making badass and fun music. “Moonshot” and “You” are my favorites from their new album Man on the Moon right now!
I’m sincerely hoping that after this comeback we also get more YouTube content from Chahun and Jaehyun’s channel “두얼간이 2IDIOTS” soon too! They went on hiatus while Jaehyun stayed in Japan filming (and because of COVID) but now that fans have been teased with new pranks and hijinks literally as soon as Jaehyun came out of quarantine, thanks to their new bassist Dongsung, I’m more than ready for whatever the duo have in store (and another “Let’s Roll” with all the members)! Until then, I shall leave you with the iconic “Meow Meow” song that they somehow convinced Hweseung to take part in.
[Youtube/Idols] Poclanos & Yugyeom
Poclanos has a YouTube page which is a doorway into a vast array of Korean music. Every day I’m greeted by a new track from an artist I’ve never heard of. Some weeks there are album releases other weeks there are live performances and curated playlists. It is pretty much everything you could ask for under the indie sun. My favorite finds so far are a jazz band called Liquor Desk Live and an indie-rock duo called Marrakech.
I’ve also been following the rollout of Yugyeom‘s solo debut EP: Point of View: U. The artwork, the packaging and the tracklisting all point towards a gorgeous upcoming release. It’s a complete AOMG affair with Gray producing the lion’s share of the album alongside Cha Cha Malone. Loco, Jay Park, DeVita, and Punchnello all feature to round out a tight 7 track EP. It will be interesting to see what Yugyeom has to say artistically and judging from everyone involved we’ll likely have an R&B and Hip-hop influenced release.
[Idols] JYPE time
Two o’clock in the afternoon is not the hottest time of the day. I have to see this written out in those words, one time in my life, even if I type them myself. It’s a reality I have felt in my bones. It’s one of those inanities that entertainment companies invent to market something as trendy but is ridiculous. Four or five o’clock is hotter when I go swimming all day in summer. 12 is the time I had believed it was: when the sun is highest.
When my best friend told me 2PM is called that because it’s the hottest time of the day, I laughed for a really long time. I thought, “does JYP expect us to swallow the concept that these men are heating up the world by the power of their charisma alone.” I giggled at the hubris. I was, as I have been so many times before, quite wrong. The Old Farmer’s Almanac says, “the hottest time of the day is determined by location and time of the year”. Depending on the time of year and where you are, anything is possible. It turns out, JYP knows more about geology than I.
My new reality, the one I can feel in my marrow, is that two o’clock in the afternoon is not always the hottest time of the day. But on Monday, 28 June 2021, when MUST is released… where I am, it will be. In the meantime, I will be rewatching the Wild Six’s variety show Over 2PM, the 2PM “My House” dance practice (the second version with eye contact), and 2PM stage compilations.
[Drama/Idols] Time Travel Family Rom-coms and the Hottest Time of the Day
I recently started watching 18 Again, and as the mid-point of the series approaches, I can’t help but marvel over how the show’s parts and sum just feel so right. Helmed by the PD of one of my all-time favourites, Go Back Spouses, 18 Again puts its own spin on the time travel trope by turning recently divorced Dae-young (Yoon Sang-hyun) into his high school self (played by and Lee Do-hyun with equal parts humour and heart).
Because of the mismatch between Dae-young’s youthful appearance and his mental age, this premise is rich with comic opportunity, but the show also leverages on the potential for a heartfelt journey of self-discovery. He’s forced out of the habits and mindset of his older self, allowing him a fresh perspective on the countless small ways in which he failed his family despite working hard to support them.
Like Go Back Spouses and Familiar Wife, this is a different kind of rom-com that looks at what happens after the happily ever after of the regular rom-com. What happens when a pair who care for each other deeply find themselves divided by a seemingly unbridgeable rift, after years of being weighed down by pressures from the world outside? How do they find their way back to each other? Much as I love regular rom-coms, I find that this type of time travel family rom-com is capable of probing more complex relationship issues. It’s a premise that I wouldn’t mind seeing turn into a cliché.
Dramas aside, I’m so excited for the dramatic comeback trailer that 2PM released last weekend. I mean, will you look at that? Our beastly idols are back, and they’re buzzing with so much charisma they’re causing a blackout! I can’t wait to see these greasy, smooth guys be back to charm fans old and new. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go dig into my collection of 144p “Heartbeat” live performance endings for a trip down memory lane.
[Drama/Idols] 2PM, Racket Boys
2PM…Honestly can’t wait for the men who stole my 14 y/o heart to return as a full group for the first time in five years!!! Absolutely loved the hilarious reunion they had when Junho returned from his military service (the double pranks and the absolutely chaotic mess they descended into were wonderful to watch), and just in time, their first group appearance on MMTG just dropped!
I really loved Run On too, so I wholeheartedly second that recommendation by Karen. These days I’ve been keeping up with Racket Boys, a drama written by Prison Playbook‘s screenwriter Jung Bo-hoon. It’s heartwarming, hilarious, and Tang Joon-sang is fantastic here as the adorably arrogant Yoon Hae-kang. His character is 180° different from Geu-ru of Move to Heaven, and it’s hard to believe that this actor is only turning 18 this year – he is versatile, has good chemistry with all the actors he works with and has such a bright future ahead of him. Back to Racket Boys, I love how all the students are played by genuinely young actors, and how there are really no villains in this show. I’ve had more than enough of corrupt politicians and scheming chaebols, give me some old-fashioned neighbourly kindness and badminton rivalry any day.
Per usual, I am way behind the hype, but I have discovered that Vincenzo is absolutely a “me” show. I’ve been into Chinese idol competition shows recently, and I haven’t watched a K-drama since my botched attempt to watch Run On. However, when I saw the dramatic poster for Vincenzo and Song Joong-ki in a suit, I knew I had to take a chance on this show. The beginning was a bit slow, but I stuck around because a) Song Joong-ki in a suit (I love a good suit), b) Jeon Yeo-been‘s amazing portrayal of Hong Cha-young, balancing humor and self-interest, and c) Vincenzo’s amusing journey to find the hidden gold. Later on, Ok Taecyeon blew me away; I can’t look at his face the same (he’s so perfect as Jang Joon-woo)! Now, I have about five episodes left, and I really don’t know what I’m going to do with this Vincenzo-sized hole I’m bound to have by the end. Essentially, I watched for the suits and stayed for the villains. Vincenzo is definitely a new favorite!
[Drama] Run On, Master’s Sun
I had the time of my life the past two weeks binging on Run On, starring Shin Se-kyung as subtitle translator Oh Mi-joo and Im Si-wan as national sprinter Ki Seon-gyeom. Though mainly a romance drama, it was heartening to see how the series allowed room for characters to grow and focus on their passions outside of the love story. The subtle manner in which both the main characters expressed their opinions, while still being considerate of each other’s feelings was a refreshing watch. It made me think of how much dramas are used to portraying the chase for another’s affections as a relentless pursuit. Yet, somehow, Run On handles relationships delicately. I also loved how gorgeous the script was in its very meticulous selection of words and modes of expression, which is perfect for a show about translation! Having almost all the characters, major or minor, grow in some way was also what made the show feel complete at its conclusion.
I am now rewatching Master’s Sun, because I need some good ol’ 2010s romance drama, where stories are far less packed with content while still being equally meaningful. I’ll probably line up yet another one of my favorite series, Because This Is My First Life, to rewatch again just to feel good.