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Star power lights up K-dramas

Brace yourself for South Korean star power on television. -My Paper
Gwendolyn Ng

Tue, Nov 20, 2012
My Paper

Must-watch Korean Dramas

Moon Embracing The Sun

Premieres on Saturday on VV Drama (StarHub Ch 855)

To air on Saturdays, 9.30pm

Love Rain

Premieres on Dec 1 on E City (StarHub Ch 825)

To air on Saturdays, 10.30pm

SINGAPORE - Brace yourself for South Korean star power on television, with big names fronting two highly-anticipated dramas soon to be aired on cable.

The period drama Moon Embracing The Sun, which aired in South Korea earlier this year, was a blockbuster hit, helping to propel its leading man and lady - Kim Soo Hyun and Han Ga In - into the upper echelons of stardom.

Thanks to the show's popularity, Kim reportedly snagged a record-breaking 17 endorsement deals in one go.

He's now the face that helps sell cameras, fabric softeners, the Korea Tourism Organisation's agendas, and more.

Good news for you K-drama junkies: Just a week after the premiere of Moon, a new drama, Love Rain, will premiere.

The latter is set to air in the time slot just after Moon's (albeit on another channel).

Here, star power is high, too.

The series will see actor Jang Geun Suk and Girls' Generation's Im Yoona in the lead roles.

So buzzed-about was this show that even before the romantic drama premiered in its home country, a Japanese broadcaster secured the rights to air it.

Sad to say, star power isn't always everything. While Moon was named one of the top dramas of this year - with the series' final episode drawing 42 per cent of South Korean viewers - Love Rain scored so-so ratings.

Still, it's worth a watch for the engaging Im and Jang.

My Paper rates the two dramas.

Moon Embracing The Sun

The story: Embroiled in royal- palace politics, childhood sweethearts crown prince Lee Hwon (Kim Soo Hyun) and nobleman's daughter Heo Yeon Woo (Han Ga In) are cruelly separated.

Succeeding the throne years later, King Lee Hwon meets shaman Wol (played by Han), who cannot recall her past and who bears a striking resemblance to his first love.

Star power: Actor Kim, 24, was catapulted to fame in teen drama Dream High, stealing the hearts of girls with his boyish good looks.

But it was his role in Moon that sealed his place as one of the up-and-coming actors to watch - he was crowned Best Actor at the 2012 Baeksang Art Awards.

As for actress Han Ga In, 30, this is her breakthrough role. She entered the showbiz industry a decade ago, and has told the media that is has been a "long and tedious" road to fame.

Well, this is the year for her, as she also starred in another hit this year: the film Architecture 101.

Gwen says: This drama, revolving around an ill-fated romance ruined by scheming politicking, also involves dark magic.

Intriguing, no? But be prepared to sit through a number of episodes before getting to see Kim and Han, with a huge chunk of the 20-parter devoted to their younger days.

Don't get me wrong, the child actors (Yeo Jin Goo and Kim Yoo Joo) playing the leads' younger selves are a talented duo. But I was itching to get into the thick of the action.

In the end, Kim has upped the ante with his acting chops - adorable when joking around with his personal aide and heartwrenching when he cries.

But where are the sparks between Kim and Han? Could it be their real-life age gap, or Han's stiff portrayal of the serious and steel-willed Wol?

Still, I hung on to my seat, admiring the elaborate period-drama costumes and setting while watching the riveting plot unfold.


Love Rain

The story: This cross-generational romance drama follows the trials and tribulations of ill-fated university sweethearts Seo In Ha (Jang Geun Suk) and Kim Yoon Hee (Im Yoona) in the 1970s to the modern day, when their own children - Seo Joon (In Ha's son, played by Jang) and Jung Ha Na (Yoon Hee's daughter, played by Im) meet.

Star power: Mention actor-singer Jang and his breakout role as a rocker in the 2009 drama You're Beautiful comes to mind. But, mind you, the young actor, at the age of 25, already has two decades of experience in showbiz since debuting as a child model.

Singer-actress Im, 22, is known as "the face of Girls' Generation". Unfortunately, her star power didn't translate to stellar ratings for Love Rain.

Gwen says: The stars were aligned for Love Rain with its famous cast, but it didn't live up to the hype.

This is despite the fact that director Yoon Seok Ho helmed South Korean classics Winter Sonata and Autumn In My Heart.

What's worth watching are the atmospheric scenes set in the 1970s involving the two stars.

Here,Yoon gives you dreamy nostalgia worthy of an art-house film.

While some may find the pace of the 1970s episodes a tad too slow, I'll remember this series for its lovely scenes, such as when the protagonists' eyes meet across a bookshelf, or when they awkwardly share a faulty umbrella.

Fast-forward to this year, and typical Korean-drama mode kicks in. Enter a bickering couple, also played by Im and Jang, who meet in a chance encounter.

The plot here is draggy and rather cliched. But, I must say, there's some great chemistry between Im and Jang - be it potraying the shy and reserved couple in the 1970s or the exuberant couple of the modern age.

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