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?
[Actors] Song Kang
Is it me or is Song Kang everywhere this year? Following his leading turns in Sweet Home (which aired at the tail end of December last year), Love Alarm 2, Navillera, and Nevertheless, the actor is set to star in yet another drama, this time opposite melo veteran Park Min-young. And I have to say, it is fascinating seeing him top-bill one show after another with seemingly little time in between. How does he prepare for a part, I wonder? Does he slip the previous character off with ease, or do parts of it follow him and manifest in each new role? I mean, with Nevertheless’s production still ongoing and his latest drama set to start shooting soon, will he be able to pivot from college flirt to geeky employee in good time? Or to put things simply—does the man even get enough rest?
I suppose this isn’t surprising since, at 28 (Korean age), Song is nearing his military-enlistment due date. Like many actors and idols before him, he seems intent on leaving behind a nice enough image before the inevitable hiatus. So good on him, I guess, for all his hard work! I just hope for his sake he gets to enjoy the fruits of his labor too.
My entire week has been consumed by Onewe. Since the release of their first mini album last Wednesday, I’ve been listening to it nonstop. Although I was already excited because I live for Onewe comebacks, their casual highlight medley where the members talk about the tracks before playing acoustic versions increased my anticipation. After watching that medley, I dug around their YouTube and discovered one of CyA‘s “Make a Sound” video, where he creates a song about a random item. The choice for that video was a diffuser, and it was so fascinating to see him build the track and then write the (really cool) lyrics. I have no idea how much time it actually took him, but my respect for him and producers/lyricists skyrocketed. I’m also in that stage where I’m desperately searching for any and all Onewe content. They are a hilarious group of five, and I wish they were on variety shows/had their own reality show (*glances at RBW*) because we need more fun, relaxed, and kind of silly Onewe!
[Idols/Music] Onewe, N.Flying. Woosung
I am definitely hopping on the Onewe train with Sara this week! With Onewe, N.Flying, and Woosung from The Rose all having new music recently, I’ve been on quite the band kick.
On Onewe’s new album Planet Nine: Alter Ego, I continue to be impressed with the superb musicality and songwriting all the members exude. My favorites so far are “Rain To Be” with its delicate vocals and addictive guitar melodies and the fun and catchy track “Veronica.” I love the whole album, but I keep throwing these on repeat and finding myself trying to pick out all of the nuanced composition Kanghyun and Cya really flexed some amazing guitar and bass licks this time around.
N.Flying continues to be a mainstay on my playlist, especially since reviewing it recently. The title track “Moonshot” is great, but I think “You” has my whole heart as well. The cute “kissing ah”s, bouncy instrumentals, and the earworm of a melody in the verses have been enjoyable while the weather is nice and warm this summer.
Late to the party in my playlist is Woosung’s “Lazy” that came out just Thursday morning. It has a really chill backbeat and cute lyrics, so I find myself vibe along to it as I drive to work or sit outside before the weather gets too hot in the morning. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is a freedom and lightness to the track that I find really refreshing, like the feeling of a weight being lifted off your shoulders. It literally just got released, but I’m looking forward to adding it to my regular rotation for the time being!
[Dramas/Music] Nevertheless, Hospital Playlist, Sam Kim
As for me, what a well-fed week I had as a K-entertainment fan! Circling back to Renee’s mention about Song Kang’s Nevertheless, I can’t wait to see how this story will play out as a drama. I happened to read the webtoon in one sitting before the drama came out (what a wild ride), and really like how it portrayed the complexities of some romantic relationships.
Also, this is a belated mention, but I’m super stoked that Hospital Playlist is back with a new season! I’ve been enamored by director Shin Won Ho and writer Lee Woo Jung‘s way of storytelling since Season 1. They do such a good job of playing with the audience’s expectations and bringing lots of fun and meaning to plain, everyday stories. Not to mention, the first episode made my Winter Garden heart so happy! (If you know, you know.) I think I speak for not just myself when I say that episode 1 left me feeling warm and fuzzy—as if I had reunited with old friends.
Lastly and most importantly, my all-time favorite artist, Sam Kim is back with “The Juice” after two years! It’s such a groovy and fresh song that immediately brightens up my day. I love everything about this concept as well, from its distinct look to its dance break. That’s right, for probably the first time in Antenna‘s history there’s a dance break! While I’m still happily struggling to keep up with all the new content for his promotion, above all I’m glad to see him again on my Youtube feed.
[YouTube] ReacThing, Channel GimCheolSoo, Mango Couple, Neon Milk Collective
As it is pride month, a great deal of content creators on YouTube have turned their focus to LGBTQ+ content in the past few weeks. In particular, ReacThing had their Korean grandma, Lim Jung-ok, sit down and talk to two prominent gay youtubers, Kim Cheol-soo and Son Jang-ho of Channel GimCheolSoo. I’ve followed these two for years now as they share bits of their life together and their experiences as openly gay men in South Korea. A conversation with an 81 year old grandma could have been awkward, but Lim Jung-ok is always so open minded and loving with everything new she experiences on her grand-daughter’s channel. It was nice to just watch the two generations have an open conversation, correct some stereotypes, and learn about each other. The interview is in two parts, and I recommend all the interviews Cheol-soo and Jang-ho have done over the years.
I’ll also send shout-outs to Mango Couple who work with the Rainbow House and Chingu-Sai (one of the oldest queer rights organizations in South Korea), as well as Neon Milk Collective for their wonderful content year-round.