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 won and made your heart beat?
[Dramas] The Devil Judge
A dystopian legal drama with theatrical costumes, flaming CGI overlays, and slow-motion glaring between the handsome male leads… sounds like my kind of show. The casting directors snapped when they cast GOT7’s Park Jinyoung as the rookie judge investigating Ji Sung’s mysterious, unorthodox, violent “devil judge”. I initially thought Jinyoung would be too young to portray a judge but after googling a little, I learned there isn’t a system including an assistant or probationary judge period and it is quite common for jurists to be under 30 in Korea. Learning about the institutional differences between my country’s and South Korea’s judiciary aside, the show itself is so camp, I am deeply satisfied.
The religious imagery, from the characters symbolically engulfed in flames to the dangling cross bracelet and braided robes worn by the titular Devil Judge, brings this story alive. While the characters are still pretty much a collection of tropes so far (I’ve only watched the first two episodes), I am enjoying the aesthetic and commitment to being over the top. The romantic subplot between Jinyoung’s character and Park Gyu-Young has been cute, mostly because of its silliness. Watching a young man squee at the thought of getting married and flirting before following his boss around to search for clues of judicial misconduct is a bit of fun amongst the emotional intensity and melodrama of the rest of it. My evenings will be absorbed by this drama and I am looking forward to more scenes of Ji Sung burning up with fervor to stare at and scold people.
[News] Soojin leaves (G)i-dle, Wendy returns to Red Velvet
It seemed awfully random – and dare I say a little pointless? – to have Soojin leave (G)I-dle six months since the bullying controversy first began. Not only did Cube already do a bad job by dragging things on for months (and being totally rude to Seo Shin Ae), but both Soojin and her team were cocky enough to “demand” Seo to release a statement. Then, they waited until everyone “seemed” to forget what happened before doing what they should’ve done the moment things were confirmed to be true. This unlikely sequence of events brings up the question of how impactful a confession of bullying can actually be in the long term.
Did confessing create the intended outcome? Does a past of bullying hold as much impact as it even used to? And, what does this outcome mean in light of other accused idols who are still going on strong (however specific or vague their clarifications may have been)? Soojin was definitely not the only one swept up in the sea of accusations that took place earlier this year – it’ll be worth watching to see how agencies will consider current or future accusations.
In other developments, I am utterly delighted to see Wendy fully return for Red Velvet’s sixth mini album comeback for Queendom. She looks bright, beautiful, and full of energy, and it’s gratifying to see her resume her career. The group shines the greatest as five, and I can’t wait to see more performances with all of them together. Some people did express their discomfort with seeing Irene participate as the center for the group following the “gapjil” controversy, but I do think she stayed out of the limelight longer than most people with scandals have done around similar timing. We’ll all have to make of it what we will, but I for one am just happy the group is able to continue their promotions altogether.
[Variety] TXT on Showterview! with Jessi
TXT finally appeared in Jessi’s Showterview, and I can’t stop smiling! It’s so good! The 31-minute episode has everything—heart, laughs, outrageousness, competition, and of course the classic Showterview guest line, “Are we allowed to air this?” Ever since Soobin and Jessi’s hilariously awkward first meeting in Music Bank, I’ve always wondered how the young group would fare in Jessi’s mature show. Will their contrast provide great chemistry or uneven tension? Sure enough, the episode starts stiffly as both parties try to get a feel of each other. Jessi is thrown back by the boys’ age, and they act as formally as possible. But thanks to the group’s disarming charm and frankly crackhead energy, things pick up pretty quickly. By the end of the show, they’re all hugging each other like old friends.
As an aside, I really appreciate the genuine mentor-mentee relationship that has bloomed between Soobin and Jessi. Their sweet exchange in the episode, which nearly had Jessi in tears, clearly lives on, as evidenced by this heartfelt tweet and IG response.
[Music] Somi, “Dumb Dumb”
Somi’s “Dumb Dumb” has been on repeat for me this past week. It’s a short song that’s clearly formulated for TikTok success, whether it’s the point dance, length, or the various short videos that Somi has been uploading with her celebrity friends. However, I can’t deny that it’s working. Even as someone who doesn’t use TikTok, the song is absolutely infectious, and it’s a joy to watch Somi in her element as a performer. Her expressions while dancing are so alive, and I’ve found myself watching her live performances on repeat. The world of K-pop female soloists is absolutely brimming with talent and women who bring the charisma, and Somi is now taking her place as one of them. I look forward to how her career develops from here!
[Music/YouTube] MCND, The Boyz, TXT, and CIX
If last week I was all about k-dramas, namely Mine, this week was all about K-pop. While I was diving deep into MCND, I came across their Count Dance videos, like this one and this one, where the five members cover Shinee, Everglow, BTS, and various NCT units. Their signature intensity and eye-catching expressions are even clearer in their Play Music Ground (PMG) K-pop medley. I think I could watch MCND dance all day, especially their 30 second cover of (G)I-dle‘s “Oh My God“. And Minjae doing Ryujin‘s iconic shoulder move in “Wannabe” was the highlight of my week.
I’ve also had “Thrill Ride” by The Boyz on repeat as well as the entire Thrill-Ing album. The chill summer concept really fits the group, and I think “Thrill Ride” balances their youthful charm, their bright dynamic, and their sense of humor without being too much. I personally love the shots at the beginning and at the end of the MV where the 11 members lounge by the side of the pool in bathrobes. Oh, and I just discovered that they did a dance practice in these same bathrobes.
And I completely agree with everything that Renee wrote about TXT on Jessi‘s Showterview! It was so funny to watch the members surprising Jessi with their English, the easy back-and-forth between the two parties, and, of course, Beomgyu saying “f*** Covid-19”.