by Akage Girl, March 17, 2020

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Oh My Venus, Kahogo no Kahoko, and Falling for Innocence

Tired of depressing news reports? Going stir crazy in isolation? Stuck in long lines at the grocery store, only to find the last roll of toilet paper was purchased by your next-door neighbor, the chinchilla farmer? Well… I’m suffering right along with you, my friend. I feel like a spectator in a world gone more than crazy… My reality has flipped upside down and turned sideways, so I’m no longer rusticating in New England but wonder if I’ve been transported to Seychelles (Oh, how I wish)… Or more like I’m in one of those countries where canned food is not plentiful, there is plenty of sugar, and paper goods are products only the rich can afford.

Me after my last trip to the grocery store (I just love Gong Yoo)

What I need right now is an escape from all this madness…Unfortunately, a quick trip to a tropical island is not in the cards for me and well… Anyone else in the world either (unless you’re already there… Lucky you). Since we are all staying put (and I’m pretty sure anyone reading this isn’t traveling around much), let me make a suggestion... Watch an Asian drama (or 2 or 6)... You just might feel better about yourself, you’ll certainly be entertained, and maybe…Just maybe… Not be so ticked off at that strange dude with the chinchillas (did he really need that much toilet paper?).

Asian dramas are just about the least costly and most fun escape anyone can experience without ever leaving the safety of your underground bunker, and no one will check your temperature… Well unless you get a little overheated because it has Park Hae Jin or Mark Chao in it. In fact, oftentimes they leave the audience with messages that engender tears or cheers or… Gasp… Even help us to feel better about the insanity around (is that even possible?).

Come with me and explore three shows that will leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling and perhaps help you to forgive that person (ummm… Or family member) that took the last Double Stuff Oreo from the cookie jar. If these three shows don’t make you smile… Well then…Send me a message, and I’ll suggest 3 more!


Funny and determined Kang Joo Eun and her fitness buddies

If you haven’t watched this show, give it a try. Although it wasn’t hard for me to LOVE So Ji Sub (ahem, added to my oppa list after that 1st episode… Sigh, the pecs on that man), Oh My Venus is a sweet and realistic story (yep, I’ve struggled with thyroid issues as well) about Kang Joo Eun, who was the “Daegu Venus” during high school and college. After becoming a lawyer, she packed on the pounds. Pretty soon, her long-time boyfriend dumps her; her friend from college becomes her boss and starts dating her ex-boyfriend, making Kang Joo Eun’s life miserable in the process. To make matters worse, Kang Joo Eun needs to be continually rescued from the ill-effects of her weight by Kim Yeong Ho. Just when we think her life can’t be more miserable, she tells the world and the skeptical Kim Yeong Ho that she can accomplish anything, if she just tries hard enough. For Kang Joo Eun, she’s committed to losing the weight with his coaching.

While the premise of the story is entertaining and not-so-far-fetched, there is an underlying theme to Oh My Venus. Throughout the whole show, they educate through various storylines… “DON’T GIVE UP!” One moving scene can be found in episode 13 where our hero Kim Yeong Ho was just in a devastating car accident, both his legs badly injured, and it wasn’t likely that he’d ever walk again. He refuses to let our heroine Kang Joo Eun see him in such a state. Rather than leave him alone as he requests, she stands outside his hospital room door and yells comforting words to him saying: “If you are enduring it now, you aren’t at your limit. If you believe you can do it, you can. It's okay to be hurt. Even if your less pretty, even if you are less sexy, it's fine.” (translation courtesy of VIKI). She’s not just shouting at the injured Kim Yeong Ho, but at anyone who will listen. IF WE ARE ABLE TO COPE WITH IT NOW, WE AREN’T AT OUR LIMIT! (I just loved that message).


Kahoko and Haijime… Two peculiar characters that have passion and tenacity

Kahogo no Kahoko was the first Japanese drama I watched. It was a bit like my first experience with British television... Very different than American television in a lot of ways… But not (it's hard to explain). Be that as it may, this show was a gem. Nemoto Kahoko is a spoiled girl who has everything done for her by her family… Or so we are led to believe by the end of the first episode. The character appears to be somehow mentally challenged. What the audience comes to learn is that no one is more committed and determined to protect her family than Kahoko. Takahata Mitsuki does a brilliant job portraying just the right amount of naivete, grit, and humorous quirks to keep the audience rooting for the young woman and her new boyfriend/sidekick Haijime.

Kahoko reminds the audience of the importance of protecting and strengthening the family, no matter the odds. It doesn’t take long before we see that Kahoko’s relatives are less than perfect, including her two very dysfunctional parents, but Kahoko doesn’t change her focus nor let failure send her running in the opposite direction. The strong-minded woman is saddened by the incredibly poor decisions made by her beloved family, but they do not prevent her from trying to help them become better people. I think the pinnacle of the show is when Haijime (a struggling artist) shows his drawing to Kahoko’s ailing grandmother. He explains that through Kahoko’s influence, he knows that he should paint those who are struggling to live and illustrate how people are loving those who are important to them. The two finish the show exemplifying the need to focus on those around us rather than ourselves, and not to give up on even the most hopeless of situations. Always leave the door open for a beloved family member or friend to return and be loved. Ahhhhhhh. That’s so sweet! Perhaps there is something in that message applicable to the here and now… It can be difficult maintaining family relationships (especially healthy ones). 


Kang Min Ho and Kim Soon Jung… Perfect sweethearts (pun intended)

This is a little gem of a show about a man who wants revenge on his terrible uncle before he dies of heart disease (him not his uncle) and will do anything to get it, and a woman that no matter what happens, always has a smile and a positive attitude. The two spark off from episode one, which is why I kept watching despite hating the male character from the get-go. Jung Kyung Ho is spectacular as the ML Kang Min Ho with his bitter and vicious attitude slowly giving way to humanity after a heart transplant. But it was the character of Kim Soon Jung (played by Kim So Yeon) that paints a picture of what is right in the world, even when it seems all hope is lost.

The character of Kim Soon Jung remains positive despite some devastating setbacks and sees the best in others, regardless of their behavior. She can be counted on to comfort anyone in need, even when her own heart is breaking. One pivotal scene is when she and Kang Min Ho are sharing a pot of ramen after a less than successful night trying to gain favor with factory workers in Episode 9. She explains to the hapless Min Ho that good-times and bad-times always have an end. Everything passes and nothing stays the same. Although happiness passes, so does sadness. I can’t help but think of the world today when I watch that scene again. Perhaps her message is spot on, reminding an uneasy audience that this bad time will pass too, just like the good times did. Kim Soon Jung says the pain and the sadness we feel are good BECAUSE we are alive to feel them. I’ll admit, this message does cheer me up a bit and increases my hopeful outlook. Thank you, Kim Soon Jung!

Family comes in all shapes and sizes-just like this one from Oh My Venus-alas it is not appropriate to touch them at this time… Even So Ji Sub!

Frankly, I can think of nothing more depressing than reading another article on why the world is coming to an end. If that’s the case, I’d rather go out with a smile on my face, and each of these shows made me smile and say “Ahhhhhh maybe people aren’t so bad after all.” I will admit that they weren’t my favorite shows but oh… How I loved the message, the meaning, and the passion the characters had towards doing good things. Maybe… Just maybe... If there’s a happy ending for the hard-working characters in these shows… There will be a happy ending for the rest of us… And, if not… Well, we just spent 16 hours watching So Ji Sub… Certainly, no waste of time by any stretch of the imagination! 

So my friends in drama-land, don’t be frustrated or unhappy because the world is going to hell in a hand-basket in real-time. Join me in watching these dramas with messages of love, family, determination… Ummm, and good deeds. Please take a break from the news every once in a while, step away from the cookie jar, and stop making that shelter out of toilet paper (yes, I’m talking to you, Lisa!). Partake in a fun Asian drama this week. Maybe it will lift your spirits as a good drama does for me... (still working on forgiving the chinchilla farmer though). 

What about you? What shows are you watching to escape the madness of the world? What shows give you the warm fuzzy positive vibe like these three did for me? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Cookie (1st editor)