Chinglish

Will and I went to a great play called Chinglish while we were in New York.  It’s about miscommunication and the complicated situations it can cause.  What really attracted me to the show was that both English and Mandarin was spoken.  While it helps to be bilingual when watching the play, there are surtitles on stage for those who only speak English. It also helps that the play runs under 2 hours including intermission, for people like me who tend to get itchy-butt 90 minutes in.

The story starts with a businessman, Daniel, who goes to a small city in China’s midwest.  He doesn’t know a word of Chinese, so he meets up with a “business consultant” British guy who speaks pretty good mandarin.  Stephen Pucci, who plays the consultant, has great Mandarin-speaking skills, as well as a decent Beijing-opera-style singing voice which makes for some hilarious scenes. Wacky hijinks follow as the Daniel tries to get the Chinese government to sign a contract with his company.

The dialog, especially the mis-communication issues reminded me of some nights at my parents’ dinner table while they were trying to talk to Will.  It was funny in a that’s-so-true sort of way. Another cool thing about the play was the set design.  The scene changes are done live, with the set and furniture moving in and out on tracks while rhythmic music plays.  Who knew one could get so excited about a scene change.

There was a Q&A session after the show.  One member of the audience started crying tears of joy (I hope that’s what it was!) when he was remarking about how far Asian-American actors have come.  It was touching, but also awkward.

I highly recommend the show, even if it doesn’t come with a slightly-awkward, Q&A session afterward.

Kdrama: Pasta

My favorite Korean drama so far has been this one called Pasta.  It’s about a woman who just graduated from being a kitchen helper to a line cook.  Her dream is to become a chef.  On the third day of her job on the pasta line, an upheaval happens in the restaurant, all the women cooks (including her) are fired, and a new, young chef takes over as executive chef.

What appealed to me about the show is that most of it takes place in an Italian restaurant in Korea. There’s lots of food and kitchen porn and I think I even picked up a couple of tips from watching the show.  The chef was a complete ass at first and continued to be an ass, but he grew on me and the romance was slow and gradual, for a Korean drama at least.

Pasta also had one of the sweetest declarations of love from one character to the other.  I knew the declaration was going to come sooner or later, but what surprised me was when it came and how suddenly it came. It definitely caught me off guard.

Then, there were the later episodes, where I got a little teary eyed at the love triangle drama.  It just sucks when the nice guy never wins out in Korean dramas!

Korean Dramas

We’ve been watching a lot of Korean dramas (aka K-drama) a lot at home. I don’t watch as much as Will, who’s pretty indiscriminate when it comes to Korean soap operas, but here are the ones that we’ve watched together so far.

Boys Over Flowers

This is the one that started it all.  A few years ago, we watched the Taiwanese drama (Meteor Garden) which is based off the same manga this show was based off of. Since we all know that Korean dramas are superior to Taiwanese drama, we started watching this. The premise is the same (poor, lower-class girl gets accepted to prestigious, high-class private school and the super popular boy falls in love with her), but the characters were slightly different. The main guy is noticeably meaner to the girl in the beginning of this Korean version. I also noticed that “Do you want to die?!” is a very casual threat in Korea.

My Princess

This one is about a regular girl who discovers she’s the secret heir to the last Korean King. Through some convoluted politics, this big mega-rich corporation wants to reinstate Korean royalty and need to convince her to take on her royal duties. The plot thickens as the corporation head’s grandson opposes the decision but ends up being her public servant. Of course, they end up falling in love, and lots of drama ensues.

The best part of this show was the evil museum director lady. She was so mean and conniving! I mainly watched this show to see her get her come-uppence.

Coffee Prince

I was so confused when I watched the first episode of this. I couldn’t figure out if the main character was a boy or a girl, which is the whole premise of this show. The lead, a tomboy girl, gets hired a hipster coffee shop under the assumption that she’s a boy. The manager of the shop, a third-generation rich guy, falls in love with her, but can’t come to terms with it because he still thinks she’s a boy.

At first, I was excited about this show. The subject matter sounded so modern and risque for Korea! Unfortunately, the series devolved into conflicts generated by the age-old problem of not saying the one thing that could solve the problem. For a handful of episodes, while the manager is in turmoil about his feelings for a supposed boy, the girl still thinks it’s a good idea to keep her gender a secret, despite liking the manager as well. Aaah, too much drama!

I was also disappointed that the tomboy girl, who totally kicks ass in the beginning of the series, ends up being an emotional cry baby who keeps getting pushed around by people.

My Fair Lady (aka Lady Castle)

This one was a change from what we’ve been watching, where it’s the men who are third-generation rich guys. In My Fair Lady, Yoon Eun Hye (of Coffee Prince fame), plays the heiress to some rich mogul’s empire. She falls in love with her thuggish low-class butler. Drama ensues.

I didn’t really watch much of this except for the first few episodes and the ending. I got tired of the love drama cliches and how they kept going back and forth with being together and not.

After watching so many K-dramas, I’ve started to notice a trend. Maybe there should be a drinking game made up to go along with watching this.

Drink one shot of soju if:

  • a male character demands that a female character calls him ‘oppa’
  • there’s an airport scene
  • there’s a slow-motion arm grab scene
  • the old person has some mortal illness or disease
  • someone says: n-th generation chaebol
  • the secondary male and female characters end up together
  • someone’s sewing doll eyes, or peeling chestnuts to earn money.
  • someone goes to Jeju island
  • someone has to go to America for X-years and it ends up being New York