by Akage Girl, March 28, 2020
72

Stuck in seclusion? Ummmm, so am I, and well, about a billion of our closest friends. There are a limited amount of things one can do in this situation. How about a nice walk (properly spaced of course), reading books, study a foreign language (I��m working on Korean),  contemplate the meaning of life or maybe a nap. All fine endeavours. I’ve meant to revisit Shakespeare’s tragedies, BUT I keep reading the news, so Shakespeare has been set aside (one discouraging task a day is enough). I can work from home, and I do… Grateful to be employed but longing for anything to help me forget I haven’t talked to a live human being face to face outside my family in more than a week (except that nice lady at the grocery store scanning my 10 packages of Double Stuff Oreo’s without so much as a smirk – Thank you, Ma’am).

As evening descends, some might consider dabbling in hobbies like knitting (not me - not that good with my hands). Perhaps I can learn to play the tuba, or learn Jujitsu Ala YouTube. However, none of those sound as interesting as what I’d rather be doing, well there are several things I’d rather be doing, but in this reality, it is just not possible to try on all the shoes in a department store or share a pizza and laugh with a couple of friends. Rather than cry in my Tteokbokki, I just escape… Not on an aeroplane, train, or bus, (all too dangerous) but through my television. How you ask?? (As if you didn’t already know) By watching Asian dramas, of course.

Quarantine got you blue? Escape with an Asian drama… Mark Chao… sigh

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of escape is to break free from confinement or control. While I am not planning on breaking free from my current predicament, I sure do need to break free from my reality, and knitting just won’t cut it. Or the tuba for that matter. I don’t have the lung power nor the dexterity, and NEITHER will get me the HECK OUTTA HERE!

What I CAN do is go to spectacular places so far removed from my here and now, full of wonder, places where I forget about confinement, and for a moment or two or sixteen hours or more, I’m in magical kingdoms with dragons and swords, or jetting across the world to save South Korea from evil villains, or laughing and crying with my very own goblin and his best friend the grim reaper. PLEASE come with me as I explore three of my favourite shows that take me away from the ick: the confinement, the unnatural quiet, and especially the ANXIETY in the best possible of ways.


Man to Man

No need to thank me. Man to Man is waiting for you now!

Is there a greater escape than an action-adventure with a little drama and romance thrown in? Of course not! Is it even better when the story is like James Bond meets your favourite actor with your most annoying friend tagging along, you know one you still like even though they say or do foolish things (don’t tell me you don’t have one of those). Man to Man is about Kim Seol Woo or Agent K, who is brought back from the exotic locals where he works deep undercover for the South Korean government. He is tasked with helping an internal corruption investigation. With someone’s strange logic, he secretly goes undercover as a bodyguard for a famous Hallyu movie star, and hi-jinx ensue. Yeah, the premise might be a little weak, but for escapist television, this show is just AMAZEBALLS (I checked... this word is now in the dictionary).

It doesn’t hurt that Man to Man has my #1 oppa Park Hae Jin playing the male lead, Agent K (yes, this is the show where I discovered him… sigh). His other roles are very serious compared to Agent K, but he plays Agent K like a comic genius. You will wonder why he doesn’t do more comedies. The second male lead is the less than humble actor Yeo Woon Gwang (Park Sung Woong – such a good role for him) who also keeps the humour at the forefront. These two have incredible comic timing together. Kim Min Jung plays the manager Cha Do Ha, and yes she can be annoying, and no I don’t always think that’s a bad thing because her character adds to the story-line and frankly she is the only normal character in the entire show. All the rest are either spies, bureaucrats, or glamorous. With the exception of Cha Do Ha, not one character is realistic (ok, maybe the crooked politicians but do we really want to go there?). All these unrealistic characters and plot-lines makes this pure unadulterated escapist television… Just plain fun. And this show comes complete with all the exciting paraphernalia like spy toys, Hallyu hoopla, and kick-butt action that keeps me entertained and so very far away from the reality that I just lapped it.


ETERNAL LOVE 

Tired of Social Distancing? Just escape from it all... Watch Eternal Love!

I’ve said it before. Eternal Love or Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms is my favourite C-drama ever. The characters are colourful and juicy, and the multiple plot lines are intricate and tasty. Put together, this show is one ripe peach (yes, pun intended) just waiting for me to take a big sloppy bite. It starts out as a colourful painting with pretty scenery, vibrant costumes and I defy anyone to not fall in love with Mo Yuan, Si Yin, Zhe Yan and Zi Lan within the first episode. The pace of the show is a little slower than the roller coaster ride like Ashes of Love but consider the time well spent as you watch the magical tale of all these characters gradually unfold before your eyes like a fine Renoir.

Eternal Love was so good, it led to Eternal Love of Dream which is airing right now… A more detailed version of Dong Hua Di Jun and Bai Feng Jiu’s love story (my current mode of escape). Eternal Love is more than the love-story of Bai Qian and Ye Hua; it’s much more than an epic about warring deities and ancient magic. There are compelling friendships between disciple brothers, an interesting dichotomy between a stiflingly proper family and a loving and supportive family, and a very dysfunctional family. There are several positive female role models (with weapons no less), a sibling rivalry or two, annoying in-law issues, a bunch of silly females chasing after a good looking male (but I can’t blame them… He is played by Mark Chao), a sweet and loyal child, and don’t forget a bully or two… Just for some added drama.

Eternal Love is as complicated, colourful, and compelling as one of those frescoes in the Sistine Chapel… And you don’t have to leave home to view it (or risk exposure)! And don’t worry about those 58 episodes. Right now, we ALL have plenty of time to partake in this spectacular piece of art.


GOBLIN

No really…… I’m serious….No Better Escape from any reality than Goblin!

Goblin is the granddaddy of all K-dramas (ok my opinion, but still). It's highly rated, very popular, and I defy anyone to find me a badly written character in this show (my opinion again, but just try it out)! Before anyone questions about my judgement, I will admit, the only really odd part of this show is that she is 19 and he is 939 when they meet (truth be told – she’s actually in utero when they 1st encounter each other). Throw those thoughts out the door because, guess what, it’s escapist television and Ji Eun Tak’s almost 30 by the last episode, so please, watch what wonders this show has to offer. Goblin will not disappoint, especially if you need to get away.

Goblin (or Guardian the Lonely and Great God) is like watching the most unique family unfold before our eyes. Can’t be near your own? Escape to this one! It comes complete with a moody goblin named Kim Shin (sigh… Gong Yoo), an even moodier grim reaper (Hello, the just splendid Lee Dong Wook), a perky graduating high school senior Ji Eun Tak (the remarkable Kim Go Eun), a witty and smart businesswoman (knocked it out of the park Yoo In Na), a spoiled chaebol (the handsomely funny Yook Sung Jae), a mother deity (Lee El just killed it) and more. Each character delights and amazes us as these rare creatures pull us into their peculiar and fascinating familial dynamic, and by episode 16, love, hatred, perseverance, friendship, and forgiveness are merged with murder, mayhem, and a few exceptionally creepy ghosts. Watching Goblin, I laughed so hard I cried, and I cried so hard, my eyes were swollen shut. Is it even possible to watch this show and NOT feel strong emotions of some kind? Talk about an escape! And with family no less!

Not sure what to do next… Get food, get comfortable and watch a drama

Whether your reality includes knitting, the tuba, hoarding cookies, or just contemplating the meaning of life while you shelter in place, when reality starts to look bleak, just break free. Break the confines of the here and now, and spend some time binge-watching an Asian drama or two. There are so many out there that will take you far away… So far away that for a time you’ll forget you haven’t touched another human being in weeks or can’t remember the smell of your mother’s perfume… And you will have spent the better part of the month with the likes of Park Hae Jin, Mark Chao and Gong Yoo... sigh… Is there a better distraction? NOT FOR ME!!!


What about you? What Asian dramas do you think are far removed from reality? 

What Asian drama is just pure escapism? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Edited by: Cookie (1st editor), Yuanwei (2nd editor)

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