“Loving You a Thousand Times” (천만번 사랑해)

The heroine of this Korean drama is the epitome of a long-suffering doormat, whose life would’ve been so much better if she grew a spine and stood up for herself. Instead of being guilted into giving up her hard-earned money — that she had ear-marked for returning to college — to her ungrateful older half-sister, who is “studying” overseas in the United States; or giving up her own body, so that she can pay for her father’s surgery; or letting virtually everyone treat her like a servant … Eun-Nim just swallows her pride and accepts it as her life.

“Way Back Home” (집으로 가는 길)

The first Korean film to be shot in the Caribbean, “Way Back Home” was shot in a real women’s prison, with some of the actual guards and detainees serving as background characters. The filmmakers clearly believe that while Jang Mi-Jeong (the woman on whom the movie is based) may have been guilty, her crime was less egregious than the way the Ministry of Foreign Affairs handled her case.

“Boys Over Flowers” (꽃보다 남자)

I had a difficult time reconciling myself with the fact that I enjoyed “Boys Over Flowers,” while being disgusted that the showrunners never addressed how cruel the main characters were to kids outside of their circle.

“Big”

Let’s cut to the chase: the plot revolves around a high school student and a doctor who switch bodies after an accident. Yoon-Jae, the 30something doctor is in a vegetative state in the body of 17-year-old Kyung-Joon. Meanwhile, the teenager is alive and well, but he is trapped in the buff body belonging to Gong Yoo, er, I mean Yoon-Jae. Caught between these two is Gil Da-Ran, a wet dishrag of a woman, who (despite her beauty) has absolutely no confidence in herself. When she realizes that Yoon-Jae really isn’t Yoon-Jae and that it may take a while for the two to switch bodies again, she plays along with the charade.

“Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo” (역도요정 김복주)

If I were to rate this series, I would give it a 👎 for the first half. But the second half … wow. It was worth sitting through eight hours of meh to get to the satisfying ending. Bok-Joo is the top female wrestler at her school. In order to give the other women on her team a chance of medaling, her coach asks her to go up a weight class. The 5-foot-9 athlete weights roughly 127 pounds and must go up by about 10 pounds. Bear in mind that by U.S. standards, she would be considered thin. But much is made of the fact that she’s a big, overweight girl.

“Goblin: The Lonely and Great God” (쓸쓸하고 찬란하神-도깨비)

There are few things in life that would be more difficult than to watch generations of loved ones grow old and die, while you live on for centuries without them. Such is the case with Kim Shin, a dokkaebi (goblin). For more than 900 years, he has been cursed to live a life of loneliness as atonement for all the enemies he killed during his days as an unbeatable general. Yes, his victims would’ve slain him if they had the opportunity. But, as God says in the narration, they were all precious creations, as well.

“Cinderella and Four Knights” (신데렐라와 네 명의 기사)

There are a some really great moments in “Cinderella and Four Knights.” But there was an element that made me uncomfortable. When we meet the female lead, she is not yet 18 and is a few months away from her high school graduation. It’s vague how old the Knights are, but since they are all clearly out of college, I’d guesstimate that they range from mid to late 20’s. Ten years isn’t a big difference when you’re a 30-year-old dating a 40something. But when one half of the duo is 17 … I don’t know. It just detracted from my enjoyment of the series.

“Heirs” (왕관을 쓰려는자, 그무게를 견뎌라-상속자들)

Set in a high school populated with the children of the rich — and therefore — powerful, “Heirs” introduces us to teenagers who live by a strict caste system. Tan, followed by Young-Do, are at the top. The scholarship students are at the bottom. They are bullied and beaten mercilessly and even those who’d like to help won’t, because they don’t want to align themselves with the unwanted.

“Uncontrollably Fond” (함부로 애틋하게)

What would you do if you knew that you had three months left to live? Would you spend it with the ones you love, or would you try to right the wrongs in which you played a part? That’s the dilemma for Korea’s top Hallyu star Joon-Young, who is dying. I don’t feel bad about revealing this bit of information, because it’s revealed early on in this series.

“Ode to My Father” (국제시장)

In a review that ran in the New York Times, film critic Jeannette Catsoulis gave “Ode to My Father” a big thumbs down for being “syrupy” and for having “packaged pain … likely to leave Western audiences cold.” While there is no doubt that director Yoo Je-Kyoon would’ve loved for American audiences to embrace his movie, it’s also undeniable that this film was not made with Western moviegoers in mind. It was made for Koreans.

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