Thursday, April 30, 2015

Feature Follow Friday: Book Hangover Cures


Every Friday Parajunkee and Alison Can Read hosts Feature Follow Friday. It's a great way to get to know the blogging community and they ask fun questions!

This week's question is:

How do you cure a book hangover/blogging slump/reading slump? - Suggested by Take Me Away....

I see these as three different questions, so I will answer all of them separately:


 Book Hangover - I define this as being emotionally drained after reading a really great book or series. I feel like I can't even think or process anything because I've just gone through so many emotions (This also happens to me when I watch a really good show).

I have a detox book that I try to read to get me down from the emotional high. Ironically, it is also a very emotional book, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Perhaps it is because I've read the book so many times, or maybe because I feel like the book is very "real" feeling (even with the fantastical time travelling elements). Either way, it helps me detox from my book hangovers and I can go on living a normal life.

Blogging Slump - Not having any ideas of what to blog about, no time, or just no motivation to blog.

I rely heavily on Memes when this happens. And you can probably tell that I'm in a major blogging slump this month. I just try to power through and make sure I'm posting something at least once or twice a week because maybe I'll be inspired to write more posts eventually. I also try to pre-write a lot of reviews and posts when I am in an upswing, and use those as filler when I am in a blogging slump.

Reading Slump - I am always motivated to read, but I would define this as not knowing what to read next (often created by a TBR list that's just too big, or maybe being too emotionally drained aka in a Book Hangover).

I just start to read a bunch of books at the same time and whatever sticks, I just keep reading it. I have gotten into a lot of random series this way and it's actually really fun. So, for me reading slumps are often a great time :)

Adventures in Revising: Writer's Block


This post is written because of my own personal writer's block that I've been experiencing for a few months now. It is an issue of changing up my whole life (new city, new job, new apartment) and then letting that get in the way of writing. So I needed to find a way to pull myself out of my writer's block. 

I went to some of my favorite writing blogs to get advice:
Brenda Drake's Making Connections
Dorothy Dreye's We Do Write
Chuck Wendig's Terribleminds Blog
Krista Van Dolzer's Mother.Write.Repeat

1. I think critiquing another's work (as a CP) could help you get your mind around the basics of your own writing. Reading often helps my writing, and reading with the thought to lend constructive criticism makes your brain work in a slightly different angle. Looking at characterization of a character you didn't write, or the plot flow of a story you didn't craft. It helps loosen up your brain, like stretching before working out.

2. In that same vein, you should READ! Just read, get out a book that you loved, or crack open a new one on your TBR list and just read. I've had this conversation with many writers and one of the best ways to get better at writing is reading. I wholeheartedly believe that. 

3. Take a break. Sometimes I think I just get in my own head too much. I don't let myself breath. And I have these deadlines for my writing that I  just need to let go of sometimes. Now, I'm not saying don't have any deadlines. You totally should, you should have something to motivate yourself to finish that WiP and get it out there (if that is your main goal of course). But I think that arbitrary goals are why I would turn in mediocre work in school.

4. Go to a Writing Conference. Writing conferences are AWESOME! They really get you motivated to work on your MS. And they give great direction for things that are tripping you up as a writer. The speakers, the authors, the editors and agents, and the other attendees are all sources of inspiration. I love my critique group who I met all at a writing conference. We are always supporting each other and bouncing ideas off of each other, and we met because we all were so motivated to learn more that we went to the same writing conference.
Bonus: Writing Conferences are also great places to go to pitch your work to agents and editors. So there's always networking you can do there that you'll never accomplish at home behind your computer.

5. Have your friends go to a writing conference. This is something I just figured out. Haha. It might not be true for everyone, but for me, having my CPs and friends go to a writing conference (even if I didn't go) helps tremendously with motivation. I see them talking about all they learned (and sharing, because sharing is caring). I see them getting so excited about their writing and talking about what they just heard the keynote speaker say, and I get jazzed! All of my writing group went to a conference this year and I wasn't able to go because of work and life. But I saw them talking about it in our Facebook group and I got so inspired that I wrote a whole new chapter in the WiP that I've been stuck on for months!

6. Talk to Others about your writing. This is kind of a lesson from #5, talking about your writing helps tremendously. And if you are lucky enough to have friends who are willing to listen to you talk their ear off about your characters, story, and writing then you are truly blessed. I am blessed a dozen times over because of my previously mentioned critique group. I also happen to have a sister who just got a book deal and a cousin who is the best writer I know. So I have some great resources to talk to about my writing.

7. Stop overthinking and just write. The other best way to get better at writing is writing! Surprise! Hahaha. Seriously, I decided to write through my writer's block. And not only did that help the WiP I originally started writing, but I came up with a bunch of other story ideas by merely writing whatever popped into my head. I have so many google docs that I'm going to run out of that free storage they give everyone. (Nooo! I can't let that happen!)


Do you have any tips for breaking out of writer's block? Please share in the comments, because I'm always up for more suggestions!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Feature Follow Friday: Blog Title


Every Friday Parajunkee and Alison Can Read hosts Feature Follow Friday. It's a great way to get to know the blogging community and they ask fun questions!

This week's question is:

How did you come up with your blog title and address? Does it have a special meaning for you? - Suggested by The Paperback Princess.

I pretty much just made it up on the spot when Blogger.com asked me what the name of my blog would be. I had just decided to make my own blog after co-blogging with my cousin for awhile. And I thought to myself, "This is ridiculous, I don't have enough to say that other people would be at all interested. Wait...Ridiculous sounds like it has the word 'read' in it...Done. No more thinking."
My Brain: "Really? Is that smart?"
Me: "Quiet brain! You have no more power here!"
My Brain: "Okay, but I feel like you'll regret this decision when it's time to do your taxes."
And then Readiculous Blog was born.

My randomness was then shown again when I chose this meme as my first blog post (And I stand by that decision.)


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kat's K-Dramas: Gaksital - Bridal Mask

각시탈
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Romance
Episodes: 28
Aired: May 30, 2012 - September 6, 2012
Network: KBS
Watch it on: Dramafever, Viki
Synopsis:

Lee Kang To lives in Seoul in the 1930s, oppressed under the Japanese rule. He is a rising star in the police force and works with the Japanese police to capture “Bridal Mask,” a mysterious freedom fighter who fights for independence wearing a Korean Bridal. A twist of fate puts the role of the Bridal Mask in Kang-to's hands.
Kimura Shunji is a gentle Japanese teacher who has come to teach in Korea against his father's will. He is best friends with Kang-to and shares a loving relationship with his Korean nanny. He also falls in love with the fiercely patriotic Mok Dan, a woman who is in love with Kang-to, a twist that begins to change him into a darker person.
 
Main Character: Lee Kang To is a police officer in the Japanese Imperial Police. As a Korean person this is kind of like betraying your people since the Japanese are the brutal imperialists that are terrorizing Korea in this pre-world war 2 story. He is the ultimate anti-hero. In the first 20 minutes of episode 1, I thought that it might be impossible for me to like a character that started out so low. I actually stopped watching the show altogether for awhile and didn't get back to it until I saw Joo Won in another show where I loved him. That's how low Lee Kang To starts, I just didn't think I could root for such a bad guy. However, like any good story they gave him just enough backstory and redeeming factors that I eventually found myself rooting for his character development that I knew was to come. That's a great main character if there is one.

Love Interest: Oh Mok Dan (Boon-yi). She is a strong female character, she is solidly on the Korean side. Her father is one of the leaders of the Korean Independence movement. What I kind of found facsinating was that she and Kang To were so solidly on opposite sides that he tortured her and almost had her killed in a public firing squad! It's the most adverse beginning I've ever seen in a love story. And the show just keeps layering tons of backstory, connections, and history on top of this to make it so much more complicated then it seems.

Second Male Lead: I loved Kimura Shunji (also romanized to Choonji) in the beginning. He is a Japanese man who was raised in Korea. Because his nanny was Korean, and he loved her so much, he is very empathetic to the Korean people's plight. He starts out kind, loyal, and with strong morals. He continues to be loyal and he definitely lives by a certain code the whole time, but these things get skewed greatly over time. Shunji has a character arc that is just as wide as Kang To and that makes him a good foil to Lee Kang To's character. He goes a little far into the dark side, and I mourned the wonderful Shunji I loved in the first few episodes.

Second Female Lead: Ueno Rie's character is so interesting to me. Just a bit of background info, she was a Korean girl whose parents died. She then became a gisaeng and was noticed by Ueno Hideki and he adopted her because he respected her strong will and disdain for Koreans who she sees as abandoning her. She returns to Korea as a spy for her father and she has a goal of capturing Gaksital. But this is all complicated by her internal struggle with being a Korean who hates Koreans (kind of like Kang To, so it was interesting symmetry).

Allies: Abe is Kang To's comedic friend in the Imperial police. Along with Mok Dan's circus troupe he is the source of a lot of the humor in the show.

Kang San is the source of so much of Kang To's initial angst. He is the older brother that Kang To revered and looked up to. So when Kang San is beaten by the Japanese Imperial Army for being a part of the Independence Movement and became mentally handicapped, Kang To realized that the Independence Movement had done his family many wrongs (Since his father had also died for being a high ranking officer in the Independence Movement).

Mok Dam Sari is Oh Mok Dan's father. He is a captain in the Korean Independence movement and he shows up sporadically in the show. But he is a symbol of the greater struggle of some Koreans who wanted their country back from Japan.


Random Thoughts: This show was set during a very interesting time in both Korean and Japanese history. It's a time that they don't talk about too much in dramas/films. However, it's a very important time to talk about when looking at how Korea became what it is today.

We look at the time leading up to World War II a lot from the Western world's point of view, but almost never from the Eastern world's. So I'm really happy that this show is out there.

Also, this show is great.

Really good characterization and story telling. The character arcs of Lee Kang To and Kimura Shunji are two of the most wide-reaching changes I've ever seen. And both characters go through so many stages. I will say I think that Lee Kang To's development was more dynamic than Kimura Shunji. He kind of became flat when he became "evil." I know he wasn't actually evil, he was just blinded by his rage and need for revenge. But I wish that he could have kept some of his original kindness and empathy that he displayed. I genuinely liked the Shunji in the first few episodes, and the fact that he was able to turn into such a vengeful man was very upsetting to me (but it worked really well for the story, and I know that).


I think that the show has a very underlying theme of brotherhood (which means major bromances!). However, because it is set during a time filled with so much conflict, these relationships are torn apart. Especially the epic friendship between Kang To and Shunji. This relationship broke my heart. That two people who could have been best friends in a time of peace must be pitted against each other in a time of war (wars are the worst!). And Shunji was only more important to Kang To because he lost his brother when he was beaten by the Japanese. Now that Kang San is no longer the man Kang To knew and loved, their relationship has drastically changed. Kang To does a lot of what he does in the beginning with the desire to get the original Kang San back (which makes an eventual plot twist all that much more tragic).


One thing that I kept thinking (and this might only be me) was that it seemed really weird when all of the Japanese officers and officials were yelling about how great Japan was and how Korea was a land to be subdued, but they were doing it in Korean. I understand it's a Korean show, so they should be speaking in Korean for the majority of the time. But I the scenes that tripped me up was where it was a bunch of Japanese officials sitting in a room by themselves yelling about how great Japan was...in Korean...it just kept thinking it sounded a little odd to me in that context.

I won't say the show was always at the top of it's game. There were a few episodes that seemed to draw out certain conflicts too much. The show lags a little around episode 8-10, but picks up again in Episode 11. And again the conflicts get kind of repetative between episodes 22-25. But Looking at that pattern it seems like the writers were trying to build up tension for some big splashy episode around the midpoint and the finale. So I can understand that from a plotting/writing point of view. However, as a viewer of the show I wish they would have sped it along (also, I know that the show got an extension before they got to episode 8, so I wonder if the writers took that opportunity to draw out things and ended up stretching the plot a little thin).

Overall, great show. One of the best I've seen in a long time. It had action, it had intrigue, it had history. But most of all it had great characters and great heart. I think this might go to show that even when writing falters a bit (and the writing in the show wasn't bad, but it was a tad flat at points) the acting and characters can carry a show through the rough patches. Also the scenery and the costumes (and the art direction in general) were awesome (maybe that's because I love this time period). It was just a really well done show about a period of time that was full of conflict and strife. It took turns that I never saw coming and I was super excited to watch each new episode.

Best Episodes
Episode 6 - Best reveal/Best emotion from Kang To (Joo Won's episode for sure)
Episode 7 - Best character development episode (by the end I wrote a message to my cousin, Axie, who introduced me to the show and said "I am feeling all of the emotions right now!")
Episode 11 - intrigue, characters colliding, love story development
Episode 17 - Great character development for Kang To
Any Episode after 25  - Most emotional!

Favorite Soundtrack songs:

Goodbye Day(굿바이데이) by ULALASESSION(울랄라세션)



Judgement Day (심판의 날 - 주원) Joo Won feat Lee Jung Hyun
(This song is sung by Joo Won, the lead actor in the show)




SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!


Spoilers ahead! Do Not read on if you don't want SPOILERS!

The things Kang To has to go through to develop as a character. It's almost too much sometimes. When his mom and Kang San die IN THE SAME EPISODE! That killed me. I was bawling!

I never thought I would be sad to see Kenji Kimura die, but I felt so bad for Shunji. Also, I did not think he would die so soon. This show really yanked my emotions around.

I really enjoyed seeing how Rie would watch Kang To. She obviously had feelings for him, but it was hard for me to think of it as love for a while. She is just so cold and detached because of her upbringing. And when she collides with Mok Dan in episode 11 and gets jealous of Kang To staring at Mok Dan, it was great.

I thought Mok Dan had the perfect reaction to finding out that Kang To was her Young Master. I think it was totally believable for her to kind of flip out on him. The image of this wonderful, self-sacrificing young man was shattered when she imagined the Kang To she knows (not the one we know obvi) is him all grown up. I wished in that moment that she could overlook all the mistakes he's made and believe in him. But if she had then I wouldn't have believed her. So I thought she had the perfect reaction to the news and I give both the show and Jin Se-Yeon major props for that scene.

The reveals were great. I loved how and when they revealed to Oh Mok Dan that Lee Kang To was Gaksital. And I like that she came to her understanding of him as a person more organically. It worked really well that she found out he was her Young Master before she found out that he was Gaksital.

Also, when Shunji finds out that Lee Kang To is Gaksital I almost died! I thought for sure it would be like ten episodes of him being in jail and Oh Mok Dan trying to break him out. But that super did not happen, and I'm glad.

On the flip side, there were way too many episodes where Lee Kang To and Kimura Shunji just tiptoed around each other, the whole time wondering what the other knew. I was getting really tired of it by the end.

OMG, the ending KILLED me! I can't believe they would kill Mok Dan like that. I know that it fits in a show that's about a hostile occupation and war. But the fact that they didn't get their happy ending really upset me. I'm still upset now. I've never watched a k-drama where the two mains don't get to be happy together in the end. Lee Kang To deserved his happy ending. He lost so much to get where he was by the end, and then he looses the woman he loves?!
Why world?! (shakes fists)

However, those kinds of plot twists are what made the show entertaining the whole time. And in the end, Mok Dan's character was more important as a symbol for the two male leads than she was important for herself (Feminist PSA: this is not a lesson for women, this is the opposite of how we should live our lives). The one positive that came from this is that Kang To was able to fight for himself and for his people after this. He started fighting for his brother, his mother, and his father. Then he continued fighting for Mok Dan. Now he fights for himself and to free his people. That's the best reason to fight.

Kimura Shunji's suicide death is fitting for where his character ended up. I found myself wondering if they knew he would kill himself and therefore chose to make him go too far so he couldn't live with himself. In the end, I like to think there was a bit of the original Shunji still in there, but then I'm conflicted because I wouldn't want that Shunji to die (even though he kind of did die, to make way for the evil Shunji). I was also really happy that Kang To didn't have to kill Shunji. it would have taken Kang To back to a dark place that he might not be able to escape if he had to kill his best friend. I wonder if Shunji knew this, and his last gift to Kang To was taking this last fatal act out of Kang To's hands. I know this is perhaps projecting a nobility to such a sad and hopeless act, but I can't help wanting there to still be something good in Shunji's character, even in the end when he's at his lowest.

So, I didn't think I would care at all about Ueno Rie's departure. She was a character I was really excited to learn about and they didn't really delve too deep into her (so sad! She was such an intriguing character in the beginning). However, they threw a hail mary pass in the end where they revealed Katsuyama loved her. I think this was actually alluded to way earlier in the show. I thought it would be corny, but their farewell scene was just so heartbreaking and beautiful. I loved it.

And the ending of the series finale was epic. Perfection! I loved that it wasn't all roses and happiness and, yay Korea is free now. Because that's not what happened. There was a long and winding path to that. But the bigger victory was that the Korean people fought back and retained their identity. And the final scene shows this big time! And all of the Gaksitals in the street were a great image to see in the end.

I like to think think that Kang To will be alright. He won't be completely whole without his family or Mok Dan, but he'll pull through all of this because he has something to fight for.

Monday, April 20, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #1

2a

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It's a meme to share what you read last week and what you're planning to read this week.

Last week I read:


Dark Lord: The Early Years by Jamie Thomson
(fun story, I was reading this at my salon while getting my hair colored and my stylist asked me what I was reading. I responded "Dark Lord. It's about...well, a dark lord, who gets trapped in a little boy's body and has to make it back to his demon dimension." My stylist did not have a good response to this so he just walked away.)

Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres


(I'm on a bit of a non-fiction kick)

This week I'll (try to) read:


Prophecy by Ellen Oh


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Kat's K-Dramas: The Moon that Embraces the Sun



This week I binge watched The Moon that Embraces the Sun.

And by binge watched I mean BINGE WATCHED. I couldn't stay away! I loved this saeguk drama so much. 


해를 품은 달
Genre: Historical/Saeguk, Romance, Drama

Episodes: 20
Aired: 2012-Jan-04 to 2012-Mar-15
Network: MBC
Starring: Kim Soo HyunHan Ga InJung Il WooKim Min Seo
Young Cast: Yeo Jin GooKim Yoo JungLee Min HoKim So Hyun 
Watch it on: Dramafever, Viki, Netflix
Synopsis:

The story of the secret love between Lee Hwon, a fictional king of Joseon, and Weol, a female shaman. Weol was born as Heo Yeon Woo, the daughter of a noble family who won the love of the crown prince, Hwon. Her enemies, jealous of her family's position in court, schemed against her and wrestled away her rightful place as crown princess and nearly takes her life. Years later, an embittered Hwon meets Weol, now a female shaman who has no recollection of her past.

Main Character: Heo Yeon Woo - a sweet, intelligent, and graceful noblewoman. She is a good daughter and sister. I liked her as the main character, but since she has some memory loss in the middle of the series her character does go through some shifts and changes (and, as you'll see below, I have a preference for the younger Yeon Woo).

Love Interest/Second Main Character: Prince/King Lee Hwon - I really loved him as the prince. He was so fun and sweet. It made me sad to see him become bitter as a grown king, but then again he was manipulated by some of the people closest to him, so his bitterness doesn't take away from his character, and actually kind of adds needed layers to it.

Secondary Love Interest: Prince Yang Myung - a great second lead. He describes himself as a "useless man." He says that he has to smile to hide things that hurt him. That characteristic really  makes me sad, the idea that someone has to use smiles to hide their pain.

Setting: Joseon Period Korea

Random Thoughts: Possibly my favorite Saeguk (so far).

Also, the first time I've loved the child actors just as much (possibly more?) than the adult actors. Seriously, this drama stayed with the child actors for six episodes and I was actually sad when they grew up (then I saw Kim Soo Hyun and I was no longer sad. Love him!)

I think that people were also super excited about Jung Il-Woo as well (Probably because he was super cute in Flower Boy Ramen Shop). But I am partial to Kim Soo Hyun, so I was so happy with the main characters. Actually Han Ga In was the only lead actor that I wasn't excited about. I still thought she did a good job in her lead role as Weol/Yeon Woo, but she didn't blow me away like Kim Soo Hyun and Jung Il Woo did.

This drama had a lot of good aspects. For me, it was interesting the whole time. There might have been one or two episodes where thing got dragged out a little more than I'd like. But two out of twenty is not bad. The fact that they took six episodes to set up the future story, yet still kept my interest, is saying a lot. I like quick backstories so I can get into the meat of a drama. But I found myself missing the young actors at times (but they did utilize some great flashbacks so I wasn't without the wonderful Yeo Jin Goo and Kim Yoo Jung for too long).

Moon didn't do anything new (e.g. a lot of the plot points and mechanisms it used to drive the plot forward have been used many times in both Korean Dramas and other stories). However, I think this was a well developed, well written drama. I don't think all dramas need to recreate the wheel, if it can do story telling well then I am good to go for 16-25 episodes. And if there is great acting and great emotion then I am super sold on a show. Like I've already said, Moon had that in spades with it's male leads.

Because this is a saeguk, there are some very Korean cultural topics that much of the plot and the drama is based on. So, prepare yourself for lots of colorful hanboks and ceremonial garb, as well as a lot of fantastical elements related to Korean shamanism.

In any KDrama with mistaken identity/hidden identity and political intrigue there are always certain elements. Some of them I love and some of them I hate. Moon used them all and I kind of loved them all. That's how awesome this show was. There was angst, oh so much of it, but it was acted so wonderfully. Especially by Kim Soo Hyun and Jung Il Woo. Seriously these guys are hotties and they can act, the total package. And Yeo Jin Goo gets a serious honorable mention for his awesome scenes, he seriously made me cry. There was also secret meetings, shady dealings, and secret missions on both the good guy and the baddie sides. These usually get too drawn out, but this time I thought there was just enough intrigue while keeping the plot moving forward. Finally, there was the dreaded self sacrifice (by Yeon Woo/Weol mostly). I kind of hate self sacrifice as a mechanism for increasing tension. But it actually worked in this series and wasn't drawn out too long.

I would 100% recommend this show. I loved it and could not wait to see what happened next. Lots of romance, comedy, friendship/bromance, and a solid plot.

Recommendations: If you liked Kim Soo Hyun as a jaded yet powerful man in Moon then try My Love from Another Star.

Bonus:

Favorite episodes: 
Episode 6 - best time jump
Episode14 - best reveal/remembering episode
Episode 17 - best romance
Episode 18 - best meta episode

Character Awards:

Most adorable - young Heo Yeon Woo
Most clueless - Heo Yeom
Biggest brat - Princess Min Hwa
Best crier - young Prince Hwon and adult King Hwon
Best comic relief - Cheif Eunuch Hyung Sun
Most evil - Tie between Dowager Queen and Minister Yoon Dae Hyung
Most pathetic - Yoon Bo Kyung

Comparing Young Actor to Adult Actor:

Young Heo Yeon Woo (Kim Yoo Jung> Older Heo Yeon Woo ( Han Ga In- this comparison doesn't mean Older Yeon Woo was bad. It actually just means the Young Yeon Woo was phenomenal. Seriously, I am a huge fan of Kim Yoo Jung now after watching her in this drama. I thought Han Ga In did a fine job as a kind main character. However, if she was the only actor playing Yeon Woo in this show I wouldn't have loved Yeon Woo as much as I did. Kim Yoo Jung dide a wonderful job creating a great foundation for Yeon Woo in the first six episodes.
Young Lee Hwon (Yeo Jin Goo) = Older Lee Hwon (Kim Soo Hyun) - I consider this a huge compliment to Yeo Jin Goo. I am a very big fan of Kim Soo Hyun. This could be because I watched his more recent drama, My Love From Another Star, and he was great in that. Or maybe because I liked him in Dream High. Either way, I'm a tried and true Kim Soo Hyun fan. So the fact that Yeo Jin Goo made such an impression on me as younger Lee Hwon really stuck out. He had great emotion and was so fun as a young prince in love. I think this was a great pairing of younger and older actor who met on the same level.

Young Yang Myung (Lee Min Ho) < Older Yang Myung (Jung Il Woo) - I don't think Lee Min Ho (not to be confused with the other Lee Min Ho) had a huge chance of surpassing Jung Il Woo. Jung Il Woo is a pretty great main lead (see Flower Boy Ramen Shop) so he was a pretty great casting choice for the very complicated and
handsome second lead in this show. I am always wary of love triangles, I often get annoyed quickly with second leads. But Jung Il Woo's Prince Yang Myung was just so complex, handsome, funny, and interesting. I really did want his complete happiness. And he made all the right choices (in my mind). So perhaps Lee Min Ho really never had a chance since young Yang Myung was just there to be angsty.
Young Heo Yeom (Siwan) > Older Heo Yeom (Song Jae Hee) - I didn't hate Song Jae Hee as the older Yeom, but I just loved Siwan as the handsome and beloved younger Yeom. I think it also has to do with the fact that when Yeom was younger he had a lot more substance. The older Yeom was a peripheral character that was yanked around by the people around him.
Young Seol (Seo Ji Hee) = Older Seol (Yoon Seung Ah) - To be fair Seol was definitely a side character, but I really liked young Seol and how loyal she was to Yeon Woo and the Heo family. So I was really happy that I liked Older Seol just as equally.






STOP NOW IF YOU DON'T WANT TO READ SPOILERS!


SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!


I really liked the ending. I thought that it came to a climax that was worthy of the build-up. Some dramas don't do this, so I really appreciate one that does. The right people were punished, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't relish the death of Minister Yoon. He was too evil (seriously a father that can throw away his daughter because she is no longer politically useful? Worst. Ever!). I also thought that the dowager queen's death was super appropriate. She was way too greedy and got too big for her britches. The fact that her death was a quiet poisoning felt right. She didn't deserve a big death, and she super deserved to be betrayed by the horrible people she surrounded herself with.

I liked that the people who deserved to be punished were punished. There are some dramas that allow the evil people to turn it around and repent in the eleventh hour and everyone lives all happy at the end. Call me a cynic, but that's just not how the world works. Sometimes there are bad people who will never be redeemed, and they should be made to face the consequences of their actions. Young Prince Hwon said so much in a flashback. He told the old king that just because the evil people are your blood relatives doesn't mean they deserve to have their misdeeds covered up. He claims he will be a just and fair king, and he proves his younger self right. I like that the drama followed through on this claim, and it punished the people who did bad things. For example, punishing Princess Min Hwa and Chief Shaman Jang is right since they did evil things. The fact that Min Hwa was young and naive shouldn't have saved her from judgement. The fact that Chief Shaman Jang protected Yeon Woo for eight years doesn't mean she didn't curse her in the first place. They both deserved to be punished and they both were.

I also like that Princess Min Hwa wasn't immediately regretful of her actions. The scene where she tells the king she would do it again just killed me. It made me so mad at her, but it also made her a more complex character for me. Where before she had been a very two-dimensional character. I also liked that though Yeon Woo was kind to her in the end, she was firm. Yeon Woo said that she would forgive Min Hwa for the sake of the king and Yeom, not for Min Hwa's sake. Yeon Woo tells Min Hwa that she needs to take responsibility and repent so that she can come to Yeon Woo in the future and sincerely ask for forgiveness. I loved this scene. It fit both characters perfectly and showed that not everything is so easily fixed.

I was bawling during Seol's final scene. I loved that she loved Yeom. I also loved that her love for him was so sweet. She never wanted to be with him romantically, she just wanted him to be happy. It was self-sacrificing, but seemed appropriate. She was a great side character, and I was really sad that she had to die (but it also seemed like something that helped push the plot forward emotionally).

I cried even harder (if that's possible) at Prince Yang Myung's death. At first I was like "WTF?! Why is no one saving him? Why does he have to die?" But it was all explained when Yang Myung's voiceover said that if he was still around he could be used to raise more rebellions against the king. The fact that he had to die makes me mad, but the fact that he loved his country and his brother enough to die was so noble and sweet. I thought Yang Myung was a wonderful character, maybe one of my all time favorite second leads. He was really well developed and always stayed at a high level of character. 

Meanwhile, Bo Kyung's death, much like her entire character, was so pathetic. She commits suicide after being driven partly crazy by her guilt and the fact that she was being abandoned by her father and the king. While she definitely didn't deserve to be used to blatantly by the people around her, she also kind of contributed to her own fate. She knew that her father was planning to kill Yeon Woo and did nothing, she even went so far as to try to curse Yeon Woo herself. She was definitely not an innocent victim (as the Shaman says after the botched curse). I didn't think Bo Kyung needed to die, but I also see how her suicide fits her character and the story.

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