Tag Archives: Jang Geun Seok

‘Mary Stayed Out All Night’ Ends With Little To Show

Mary Stayed Out All Night was an absolute waste of its young and talented leads comprising of Jang Geon Seok, Kim Jae Wook, and Moon Geun Young.  Being an adaptation, there probably was a bare minimum the producers had to follow, but from a one hundred plus episodes manhwa they could’ve and should’ve been able to reap better scenarios and sewn them into a cohesive mural of beauty instead of a dishevel quilt of patches.

There wasn’t anything fresh about the titular character Mary (played by MGY), but more unfortunate was she wasn’t root-worthy. She came off bland, not having fatal cons, but neither having strong nor endearing pros which made it difficult to buy that both the male leads fell in love with her so quickly and completely. The massive mob of unflattering curls overpowering MGY’s small face and frame didn’t help her character’s case either.  Even though she had a killer wardrobe of eclectic bohemian pieces, it wasn’t necessarily, for the most part, combined and matched well nor fitted in the right size on her. In fact, her wardrobe and hair were very distracting throughout the whole duration of the drama. 

Moving on, JGS’s character Mu-gul was simply a messy character to witness and endure. He had the unfortunate mixture of mopiness, insecurity, attachment isssues, rashness, and bringing it all to its disagreeable rim a lack of sufficient noogans between the ears to connect a row of vision impaired friendly numbered dots even with a How-To-Connect-the-Dots-for-Dummies besides him for reference. In terms of the character’s style, it has nothing on JGS’s real life style. In fact, Mu-gul’s style was rather tame compared to the usual ensembles JGS shows up in public in, but it does make one wonder if the stylist did his/her research or instead slacked off and just decided to pile on all the style stereotypes and prejudices of what he/she believes a young alternative bohemian rocker looks like and dresses in on Mu-gul.

Last in this trio is KJW’s Jung-in, styled from head to toe reminiscent of Jude Law’s futuristic artificial intelligent robot character in Steven Spielberg’s A.I.: Artificial Intelligence(2001). His hair was too slick and high, his face too shiny and structured, his suits too stiff and manufactured that one can almost smell the starch in the collar and hear the last snip from the tailor’s scissors before the garments were draped over his lean almost mannequin-like frame.  The character’s traits were the usual stuff of second male leads- overflowing family wealth, unreasonably good looks, daddy issues, self-sacrificing (for the female lead) inclination, touch of vulnerability, and perfected I’m-rejected–but-I-sincerely-wish-them-the best-even-though-I-still-love-her martyr expression.  Again, nothing fresh about his character, but at least in KJW’s ownership, the character emoted naturally.

Mary’s storyline was a joke. It had an unlikely and confusing premise to begin with, but winnable in more capable scripting hands. (Case done oh so very right: soul switching fantastical romantic comedy Secret Garden.)  Like déjà vu, the same sequence of events and emotions kept playing over and over again so that even if one missed two or three episodes, unavoidably or purposely, one really wouldn’t miss much of the storyline at all- only difference is change of clothes and setting. The sequence of Mary agreeing to marry then breaking it off with the rich alpha Jung-in because she’s really in love with the poor boho Mu-gyul, was repeated several times even to the last predictable episode. The only unpredictable, creative even, though this is not meant to be a compliment, was what kind of manufactured wacky obstacles and hijinks would nonsensically turn up to instigate and try to move the not very romantic, not very comedic story that, if logical is slightly forgivable, but in the case of Mary is nowhere to be sensed.  The characters’ reactions and decisions were so frustrating to watch… that it’s better to just not.

Field of Flower Boys

A while back, I posted the MV of Korean boy group Super Junior’s “Sorry Sorry” on my Facebook page to celebrate SuJu’s end of year reign on top of the South Korean and other pan-Asian music charts. The comments and subsequent posts I received for it was completely not what I expected. Instead of “nice video,” “great song”, or “I like the dance choreography”, what poured in were “I enjoyed watching those girls dance…”and “what pretty faces…(and)…prettier frames they have” which pretty much sum up that post thread.

Growing up watching lots of Hong Kong and various other Asian dramas, I guess I got used to and became immune to the girlie boy stature of those East Asian men who paraded across my tv screen through the years. So it wasn’t a long stretch for me to accept this new breed of prettier than flower boys (translation: prettier than most females) who has saturated, been imitated, and drooled over in Korea, and then been exported to Japan, Southeast Asia , Hong Kong, and mainland China spawning, defining and dressing  a new breed of acceptable and celebrated men-looking-like-feminine-prepubescents preference.

In all seriousness, one has to wonder after gaping and awing at how these full grown twentysomething heterosexual men can look soooo pretty. The usual reflex reactions of admiring ‘so cute,’ ‘so hawt’, etc take a back seat to envying streams of ‘how could they have such beautiful pearly skin!’, ‘how could they be so slim!’, ‘I want his skin or at least the name of his aesthetician!’, and ‘look at those perfectly manicured nails and long fingers!’ Of course there  are also sufficient equilibriating eye-rollings and (shallow) critiques over the varying degrees of ridiculousness in these guys signature über coiffed hair of cascading waves or perfect ringlets, and ensembles of multi-graphic or flowing pastelly and bright colored tops complete with, more often than not, girlie legs touting skin tight pants.  As if people aren’t opionated enough as it is, if you walk out of the house dressed in that fashion, you’re just asking for the claws to come out.

Feminine looking men have always been around but never as celebrated and strong in numbers on screen as they are now. In fact, Korean audiences and Korean drama fans can’t seem to get enough of them. Almost every single trendy drama these recent years stars at least one flower boy. The ultimate one is probably the self-crown titled Boys Over Flowers 꽃보다 남자(2008) with not one, not two, but four prettier than flowers, heck, prettier than supermodels not-boys-but-not-yet-men male leads. Even discounting the fact that the female lead is suppose to be a below average plain Jane character, the juxtaposition of her and them are like comparing Apollo’s radiant charge on an August summer with a flickering incandescent light bulb. It was too sad to watch.

Other flower boy drama show pieces include You’re Beautiful 미남이시네요(2009), Baker King, Kim Tak Goo 제빵왕 김탁구 (2010), Tamra, the Island 탐나는 도다(2010), Sungkyunkwan Scandal 성균관 스캔들(2010), Playful Kiss 장난스런 키스(2010), and Mary Stayed Out All Night 장난스런 키스 (2010). The general stew of reigning and rising flower boys include Lee Jun Ki (The King and the Clown 왕의 남자 2005, My Girl 마이걸2005), Kim Hyun Joong and his cohorts of SS501, Jung Il Woo (Return of Iljimae 돌아온 일지매2009, Take Care of the Young Lady 아가씨를 부탁해 2009), Jang Geun Seok (Beethoven’s Virus, You’re Beautiful 미남이시네요2009), Song Joong Ki (Sungkyunkwan Scandal 성균관 스캔들 2010, Will It Snow At Christmas 크리스마스에 눈이 올까요 2009), and Noh Min Woo (My Girlfriend is a Gumiho 내 여자친구는 구미호 2010).

There are so many more eligible for this list, but since the subject is on looks, I reckon it’ll be more effective for my point to post pictures of these pretty, dainty looking boys/men. You can be sure that there are plenty of other candidates I haven’t mentioned or missed.

Prettier than flowers (plus most females) boys

Why do so many Korean girls and Korean drama fans like or accept this traditionally ridiculed look so much? Although I no longer have the one-note aesthetic and perspective of some of my western raised friends and emote shock, giggles, and sarcasm at the sight of these boys, personally I’m not attractive to them either per se, being steeped too many impressionable years in the school of it’s unmasculine, wimpy, and it’s-wrong-that-the boy-is-prettier-than-the-girl thoughts. I can’t even offer a non-statistical, unscientific guess on the mass attraction. Noticeably bizarre is that the younger generations of Korean girls (in Korea) are getting taller, bigger boned, and more statuesque these days right in stride with the guys. Could be all the mineral enriched and extra-amped up products they’ve regularly been feeding on since birth i.e DHA omega fortified dairy, well-being foods. One would think they would prefer men with even bigger not slighter stature than them. I can understand the attraction to the characters some of these pretty boys portray in their movies or dramas, but the look itself- no, not really.

Just to follow up on the Super Junior “Sorry Sorry” post story, I posted a comparatively more masculine looking MV of “Mirotic” by TVXQ/DBSK/Tohoshinki/東方神起 (the group goes by so many different monikers) to man and muscle up the Korean men’s image and offer some balance. Yeah, that calmed the giggles.

Full House so Mary Stayed Out All Night

Teaser Poster for MSOAN

Maybe it’s time to fold on the idea of a Full House sequel with Rain and Song Hye Gyo intact. At this point, do audiences really want to see SHG do aegyo (super cute) anymore? Or Rain as an immature, fashion question mark brat? She has turned out to be an elegant, versatile actress and commercial princess that reprising her 2004 hyper cutesy, naive, mischievous role would actually seem like a step back in her career and acting development. He has become so ridiculously famous and international, a full mansion might not be able to contain him. Even if the producers should set the drama years later into their marriage life or what not, it’s not really Full House anymore, is it? So the next best thing as far as satisfying the prolonged Full House fever is concerned is another adaptation from the same manhwa creator and writer Won Soo Yeon.  Maybe great creative minds think alike, because the light is go and money vault is open for such an idea. Coming to KBS in November is the light-hearted adaptation of manhwa Mary Stayed Out All Night (no arguments here if the producers should elect to change the misleadingly scandalous title).

The story surrounds three protagonists- Mary, a dating virgin and daughter of a failed chaebol who shuns dating at her tender age only to then end up in an envious love triangle with two completely opposite yet equally magnetic guys in the form of a free-spirited hippie musician and a prestigiously educated, responsible, and rich tycoon. All three leads have finally been cast to much of the netizens’ great approval and applause.

Moon Geun Young (Cinderella’s Sister 신데렐라 언니 2010, The Painter of the Wind 바람의 화원 2008) lauded as the finest Korean actress of her generation plays Wi Mae Ri (Mary), Jang Geun Seok (You’re Beautiful 미남이시네요 2009, Beethoven’s Virus 베토벤 바이러스 2008) rocks the role of frontman Kang Moo Kyul, while Kim Jae Wook (Bad Guy 나쁜 남자 2010, The 1st Shop of the Coffee Prince 커피프린스1호점 2007) sets up the love triangle as steady Byun Jung In.

It might be a favorite plot devise of the manhwa author, because similar to the marriage contract used to bond the lead characters in Full House, the premise of this love triangle lies in the love contracts that Mary enters separately into with both guys. Learning from the failure of her business father, these contracts are sure to contain clear terms, stipulations, and expiration date which roughly translates to storied excuses, amusing misunderstandings, and a sea of sighs and squeals from viewers.

Mary Stayed Out All Night also has a very interesting Trivial Pursuit tie to Full House– Moon Geun Young played the child role of the character Eun Suh, whom Song Hye Gyo played the adult role in none other than Autumn in My Heart 가을동화 (2000) arguably the k-drama that ignited the Korean Wave.

Penned by In Eun Na (Goong 궁 2006) and directed by Hong Seuk Gu (Kyung-sook, Kyung-sook’s Father 경숙이 경숙아버지 2009), 2010’s last trendy drama drops on November 8 on KBS, picking up the Monday-Tuesday slot of Sungkyunkwan Scandal.