“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.

“Running Man (런닝맨)”

The combination of slapstick humor and witty banter makes “Running Man” a fun viewing experience, even for those who don’t understand Korean. For instance, there is a recurring game where participants will stand in front of mike stands that are rigged to blast air in their faces if they answer incorrectly. My son, now 8, has no comprehension of what’s being asked, but he will search these episodes out to laugh at the slo-motion expressions on the cast members faces when they are “punished.”

“Doctor Crush” (닥터스)

“Doctor Crush” is full of bad characters full of bad intentions: the money-hungry father-son duo trying to take over the hospital; Ji-Hong’s uncle, who steals his inheritance and then dumps him off at an orphanage; Hye-Jung’s father, who abandons her; and even Hye-Jung’s raison d’etre for much of the series: revenge.

“Sungkyunkwan Scandal” (성균관 스캔들)

If you commit a crime against a system that is gender biased, is it really a crime? And, just as importantly, should you be punished?

“Descendants of the Sun” (태양의 후예)

Production on “Descendants of the Sun” began just three months after Song Joong-Ki finished his mandatory two-year military duty in Korea. He displays an easygoing flair in the role of the charismatic leader of the Alpha Team. Even bulked up (for him), Song is slight of build and baby faced. At times, I wondered whether someone like So Ji-Sub would’ve been better cast in the role. But, what he lacks in brawn, Song makes up with magnetism. He has one of those faces that the camera loves.

“She was Pretty” (그녀는 예뻤다)

If you were given the opportunity to be reunited with your childhood love, would you do it? Hye-Jin jumps at the chance, because she has nothing but good memories of Sung-Joon.

“Cheese in the Trap” (치즈 인 더 트랩)

There’s a word in Korean called jung/정 that’s difficult to verbalize. It encapsulates a feeling of love and loyalty that people have for one another. They will do things out of the kindness of their hearts, rather than as quid pro quo. I sometimes long for having more 정 with the people I know, but I also know that some are incapable of it. Jung is also the name of the male protagonist in this series, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the writers gave him that name.

“Moon that Embraces the Sun” (해를 품은 달)

A sweeping dramatic series set in Korea’s Joseon era, the “Moon That Embraces the Sun” is a love story that at times is painfully heartbreaking. But, it’s also filled with hope and humor. That combination makes for an addictive series that will leave viewers hungering for more.

“Secretly, Greatly” (은밀하게 위대하게)

“Secretly, Greatly” starts off as a comedy and veers off into a drama with a graphic, violent ending. Had the film stuck to one genre, the result would’ve been more cohesive and effective. Still, it’s a worthwhile film that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Kim Soo-Hyun shows impressive range in his dual portrayal of a North Korean spy and the dimwitted village idiot that’s his cover.

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