Who doesn’t love a good quote from a show? Just think of Princess Bride and I bet two phrases come to mind, “Inconceivable” and “As you wish.” (Well maybe others as well because there are a lot of good quotes from that movie.) The same is true for some of the Asian dramas I have watched over the last year. I love that Ye Hua always used the phrase “Come Here” with Bai Qian. My heart goes pitter-pat remembering that scene in Splash Splash Love when the King tells Dan Bi that she is enough (translation: he loves her just the way she is)… my teeth just ache thinking about those sweet words. From my perspective, if I watch a scene over and over (no, not kissing scenes), it is highly likely the dialogue is stellar.
Currently Watching Meteor Garden… frequently the dialogue between these 2 drives me nuts
There are dramas out there where the dialogue is inventive, funny, or just darn engaging. To avoid repeating myself about some of these shows, I thought I’d highlight some of the diverting dialogue from the less written about shows from the now 468 episodes I’ve watched over the last year.
The Aside (Meaning when a character speaks to the audience)
The premise of Go Princess Go involves a man, who is transported back in time to live in a woman’s body who happens to be married to the Crown Prince. Throughout most of the series, the woman randomly breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience in the man’s voice explaining his/her thought process. Sometimes those remarks are crass or ridiculous. Other times the observations are incredibly insightful into the male/female dynamic, and from time to time they are amusing. It may seem like a cheap gimmick using an aside to carry the story along, but in this case, it ties a modern viewpoint to the historical viewpoint, which is like frosting on a cake, better than it was before. (I just love frosting!)
The asides of Go Princess Go are a superb mix of Crystal Zhang’s acting and Zhang Zhi Yuan’s voice. It is important to note that Crystal’s mannerisms when Zhi Yuan talks make the whole talking to the audience work. They are very masculine in appearance and paint a picture of a man locked in a woman’s body. Her actions and his dialogue (the aside) prevent this otherwise semi-interesting low budget show from becoming just another period C-drama.
Character & Dialogue
Park Hyung Shik's delivery of dialogue makes my knees weak
Sometimes, the dialogue might be simplistic, but the delivery makes the moment. An example of this can be found in Strong Woman Do Bong Soon and the character of Ahn Min Hyuk (played by Park Hyung Shik). It wasn’t just the words but the way he said them that captured my interest in Min Hyuk. Truth be told, I loved Min Hyuk long before I learned to like the character of Bong Soon. Park Hyung Shik does a sensational job using words to make Min Hyuk magnetic and engaging.
Here are some choice examples where Park Hyung Shik used dialogue to create such a sublime character.
- The scene where Min Hyuk tries so hard to be stern with his girlfriend Bong Soon then she calls him Min-Min. He dissolves into a mushy puddle explaining that he can’t be angry when she is so adorable (sounds pretty silly, but his delivery is, well, delightful).
- Min Hyuk gets angry at Gook Doo for dropping the honorifics when they talk (those of us raised in cultures without strict honorific rules might not understand, but the execution of this scene schooled me on how it all works… and made me smile at the same time)
- Min Hyuk explains that just as in the movie When Harry Met Sally, men can’t be friends with women they find attractive. He speaks one line and the audience realizes the tide has turned for Bong Soon and Min Hyuk, “This one step makes the relationship change.” (I’m fanning myself just thinking about it.)
- Towards the end, the character of Bong Soon is locked in a room with a bomb and Min Hyuk can’t get through to save her. All Bong Soon does is yell and cry (yes, exceedingly irritating) for him to leave so he won’t die with her. Min Hyuk gives this sweet monologue despite Bong Soon’s intelligible weeping and says he is not going anywhere, she shouldn’t be scared, he will be with her to the bitter end (my translation of the scene). Again, WAY TOO sappy but his delivery made the insipid words meaningful and charming.
Granted, you might be saying, “Hey, its Park Hyung Shik, and anything he says is enjoyable.” Okay, there is truth to that... but I just can’t forget some of the words he said. And that makes for good dialogue.
If you haven’t guessed, my primary language is English and therefore, there are some words or ideas lost in translation for me with the Asian dramas. Not as many lines are re-quotable as would be in English based films or TV shows. That said, I have found some phrases or words that even through translation, I have added to the Akage Girl lexicon such as “poop coloured shoes” from Hotel Del Luna or “I’m a woman with enough shoes not to fall short in a comparison with Imelda Marcos” from You Who Came from the Stars. One show I found has a few keepers was the K-drama Her Private Life.
The dialogue between the two leads, Ryan Gold (sigh… Kim Jae Wook) and Deok Mi (Park Min Young) was sometimes charming, sometimes touching, and usually lively. There are a couple of lines that I found memorable such as Ryan Gold teasing Deok Mi saying, “His clavicles are sexy.” Deok Mi looks at Ryan Gold and says, “You’re so annoyingly beautiful.” THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I’M THINKING when looking at Kim Jae Wook!
In Her Private Life, there are two interesting characters I enjoyed: Cindy played by Kim Bo Ra and Deok Mi’s best friend Seon Joo played by Park Jin Joo. Each of them had several droll lines that I have gleaned for my own use in dealing with daily life. Here are a few examples I appreciated.
- We’re seeing things we don’t want to see at work, at least we shouldn’t be hungry.
- The fact that those two date is already a ticking time bomb.
- You have to take this to court. Life Sentence.
- Lock the door. I’m becoming a widow tonight.
That last line just rocks. I plan on using it next time my husband brings home another high maintenance animal or complicated building project… it's just so appropriate.
I know it sounds crazy… but dialogue truly matters (even in Meteor Garden)
For those readers who think I’m overestimating the power of dialogue in a movie, ask yourself this. When was the last time you heard someone say, “I’m king of the world!” (Titanic), “Go ahead, make my day.” (Sudden Impact), and “Here’s looking at you, kid.” (Casablanca). Those are just a few examples of the power of words on a screen oozing into everyday life. Even now, there is more exciting dialogue out there just waiting for me to find... don’t worry, I’m still looking.
What about your favourite lines or dialogue?
What are some of your favourite Asian drama quotes that you just can’t help but use on naïve friend or family?
Is there a show I haven’t mentioned where the dialogue is faced paced and fun?
Please let me know!