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Welcome to micaelasmusings!

Hi there! As you would have guessed, my name is Micaela! I am a prose writer, an avid reader, a deep-thinker/day-dreamer and an unashamed master of puns.

This blog started out as a platform to share my recollections of my trip to the Gallipoli Centenary Commemorations as a NZ Youth Ambassador in 2015. However, I want to keep writing here because, as I mentioned above, I’m a deep-thinker…lots of musings. And I happen to have become somewhat obsessed with Asian dramas in recent months, so I’m starting to write reviews and post them up here.

Please bear with me because this is my first ever attempt at writing a blog. I’m excited to be trying blogging, and I want to say a big thank you to my Uncle and Aunt for setting this up and dealing with the technical bits of running a blog, thus giving me the opportunity to have a writer’s voice on the World Wide Web despite my appalling IT skills!

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo review

Drama: Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo
Type: Korean drama
Year of broadcast: 2016-2017
Episodes: 16
Episode length: approx. 60 minutes
Total hours if binge-watching: approx. 16 hours

PLEASE NOTE: I will be reviewing this work as a standalone (even if it is an adaptation/version of a manga/film/drama or based on a real-life event/person).

 

The title ‘Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo’ may have raised your eyebrow, just like it had mine the first time I heard of this Korean drama. Despite its interesting name, and apart from a few moments of hilarity, the 16-episode drama is actually quite a complex and often serious one, in my opinion. It wasn’t what I had originally expected – it was heavier…but in an innocent way?

Synopsis:

The drama follows the journey of weightlifter Kim Bok-Joo training at Haneul Sports University, working toward her dream of representing South Korea and winning Gold at the Olympics, alongside her two best friends.

The drama starts with Bok-Joo developing her first crush, who happens to be a weight-loss clinic doctor, and she goes to great lengths to be able to see him (while still keeping her feelings a secret). Apart from the close-knit family that is the Weightlifting department of the university, Bok-Joo gains a few more friends along the way throughout the drama, as well as an enemy. But along with her strenuous weightlifting training, there are more challenges Bok-Joo has to face, such as her father’s dialysis treatment.

But on a more light-hearted note, she comes to experience the blooming of a love for someone other than her crush…and it is a guy that she had never expected to fall for. They cheer each other on in their respective sports and support each other through their personal challenges.

Themes and messages:

In this drama, the low moments are really low and the high moments are really high – so let your emotions be prepared for a roller coaster ride. This series deals with real problems, some of which are family health, mental health (such as PTSD, depression and bulimia), pain from unrequited love, and bullies. In my opinion, I don’t think these problems were too confronting or graphic in the drama, but I say that based on another Korean drama I watched where it definitely and unexpectedly was.

A key theme I believe I noticed in Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo seemed to be reconciling gender and sport – there are stereotypes surrounding what gender suits a sport, but this drama addressed that and then proved that gender and sport have no bearing on each other and that the athlete should feel good both in themselves and in their sport. I felt that was a powerful message.

Character and plot:

Personally, I didn’t really enjoy the first half of the series (BUT DON’T STOP READING YET). Bok-Joo really got on my nerves because she did something that no one in their right mind would do, in my opinion – not wanting to reveal any spoilers, I’ll just say that it’s something someone might do impulsively but that she did even after thinking about it, and in doing so went completely overboard. When the situation drew on for several episodes and finally came to a head, I found myself unable to feel any real sympathy for her because she had known the consequences that would come of it. And talk about the serious case of second-hand embarrassment I felt when watching those episodes…the second-hand embarrassment was REAL. I only persevered because I had previously seen some really good clips from later in the series and I knew it would get better at some point. In my opinion, the drama’s saving grace in the first six or seven episodes are the side characters who are absolutely awesome, and a few hilarious features like the “what!” sound effect (…if you watch the drama, you’ll find out what I mean – it’s pretty darn funny!).

If you like your subplots, you’ll love this drama because nearly every character either has their backstory explained or has an entire subplot of their own that develops throughout the series. That being said, even though not all the characters’ subplots have anything to do with romance, there is a lot of unrequited love going on! And a lot of secrets that people keep on keeping even though telling the truth wouldn’t be such a big deal and it would save them so much trouble later on.

But overall, I believe that it is a great drama in its richness, filming and casting. The second half of the series definitely made up for the drag of the first half. It got quite emotional, and while there was quite a bit of frustration because the main protagonist never learnt from her mistakes and kept making them again, the episodes were for the most part more fast-moving and had more light-hearted moments in them. And I think this is largely due to the main romantic couple of the drama, Bok-Joo and Joon-Hyung.

The OTP (One True Pairing):

In my opinion, the chemistry between the actress and actor that play Kim Bok-Joo and Jung Joon-Hyung is awesome, and as a result their acting while playing a couple was incredible. As I watched them, I noticed how genuinely comfortable and casual they seemed with physical contact and I would often forget that they were acting – I later found out that at the time of filming the drama, they were actually dating, so I’m sure a lot of that affection was real. But they make the cutest couple in this drama – they were so adorable and had some really funny moments that made me grin like a loon. Not to mention envious of Bok-Joo – I think we can all agree (and for those of you who will watch the drama, I am sure you will also come to agree) that Joon-Hyung is perfect boyfriend material.

My Verdict:

All in all, the first half of Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo was not for me, but the richness of the plot (even if a bit questionable at times) and subplots, the great acting and the great use of funny sound effects, not to mention the absolutely tooth-rotting sweetness of the main romantic couple, all made this drama worth watching. I suppose I could summarise my opinion by saying that I didn’t enjoy the plot-line of the first half of the series but the drama itself was executed really well with great depth to its characters and subplots – in other words, a really good drama but just not entirely my taste. But a great bonus is that the drama ended on a high note for pretty much every character, which is closure I think we can all agree we need.

Full House (Thai) review

Drama: Full House
Type: Thai drama
Year of broadcast: 2014
Episodes: 20
Episode length: approx. 50 minutes
Total hours if binge-watching: approx. 16.7 hours

PLEASE NOTE: I will be reviewing this work as a standalone (even if it is an adaptation/version of a manga/film/drama or based on a real-life event/person).

 

I must say that Full House (Thai) is one of my favourite dramas – dramatic, rich plot and character relationships.

Synopsis:

Aom-am is swindled out of her own house (the home she grew up in and is now looking after in place of her deceased parents) by her own sister and brother-in-law who needed to sell the house for money when they found out they were expecting a baby. They send an unknowing Aom-am to Korea for a trip while they sell the house.

It is in Korea that Aom-am meets both Mike, an arrogant superstar, and the second male lead, Guy. Aom-am and Mike get off to a bad start and don’t expect to see each other ever again – they are both proven wrong when Aom-am returns to Thailand and finds that her house has been emptied and sold to none other than Mike. Aom-am’s sister and brother-in-law are uncontactable so Aom-am begs Mike to let her live there, and he lets her stay on the condition that she work as the house maid/cleaner.

Later, due to an impulsive decision made by Mike, Aom-am ends up caught in the crossfire, the subsequent circumstances forcing her and Mike to get married. Mike makes a deal with Aom-am that in return for her staying married to him for a certain period of time, he will let her get the house back from him afterwards.

They also make a side bet that whoever falls in love with the other first will lose (lose just pride, I guess). And so starts an epic love story. Of course, there are love rivals on both sides, and challenges of having to pretend to be married with someone you hate, but love does begin to bloom despite this.

Character:

The main female protagonist, Aom-am, has to put up with a lot of betrayal in this drama – and especially horrible is the one from her own sister. Yet, she continually forgives everyone. And she is a very strong individual yet still sensitive.

The main male protagonist, Mike, seems like a jerk from the get-go and puts the female protagonist in a difficult situation because he is impulsive and childish. However, he seems to grow up a bit, Aom-am inspiring him to be a better person.

The second male lead, Guy, is a really nice guy (haha, pun) and Aom-am meets him quite early on (before she meets Mike, I think), but while he was a much better choice rationally, I didn’t really ship him with her.

Mintra tries to steal Mike away from Aom-am, and is a really annoying character, in my opinion. I think Mintra seriously needs to grow up and stop being selfish.

Aom-am’s sister and brother-in-law are seriously horrible relatives, the way I see it – they appear to be nice and innocent but they take advantage of Aom-am’s kindness in order to achieve their own goals. They don’t think about Aom-am, always expecting her to help them and forgive them.

Mike’s grandma is quite a character. She’s quirky but also quite clever and devious.

The OTP (One True Pairing):

In my opinion, Mike D’Angelo (Mike) and Manaying Sushar (Aom-am) seem to have great chemistry in real life and this made for such an incredibly believable couple in this drama. I seriously wonder whether sometimes they forgot they were acting because it seemed so natural. Or maybe they’re just amazing actors. Probably both.

It was ‘hate at first sight’ for Mike and Aom-am, though. But along with all the drama that comes with…well…a drama, there were hilarious moments between the lead characters as they tried to get along in each others’ company, and some sweet moments as they began to fall for each other – and the whole journey was actually quite believable for a quite unlikely real-life scenario.

Plot:

The first three episodes or so were rather slow, in my opinion. Mostly, apart from setting up the main story, it was scenes of Aom-am sightseeing Korea. While the leading characters do meet in the first or second episode, they really only properly meet and have a real conversation in a couple more episodes after that. For someone like me who pretty much just wants to see the leading couple’s story start as soon as possible (because to me they are the most important part of the drama) it was a bit slow.

But I’m so glad that I stuck with it, because out of it came such a touching, sweet and sad love story. The ending was absolutely perfect and so sweet, in my opinion, and it tied up any loose ends.

Themes and Messages:

There aren’t really any solid ones that stand out in this drama, I think. I suppose the idea of forgiveness is heavily featured throughout, though – poor Aom-am is wronged often, and she does a heck of a lot of forgiving.

My Verdict:

I definitely recommend this Thai drama – this is quite a rich one in terms of plot and character. And the phenomenal acting is truly a beautiful thing to watch.

ANZAC DAY – DAWN SERVICE

On the 24th.

On the 24th.

It was a very early start for us on the morning of the 24th, getting everything organised and ready before the gates opened to the crowds. As I mentioned a few posts ago, us Youth Ambassadors had the responsibility of crowd management – we helped people find their seats and where needed pointed them in the direction of the site’s facilities. We paired up and each pair had a grandstand they were in charge of.

Some of the merchandise stalls.

Some of the merchandise stalls.

The first people began filtering in in the early afternoon, and by the time the gates closed again, it was 2AM on the morning of the 25th! Ten thousand people filled up the stands and the grass; everyone in beanies, puffer jackets and sleeping bags. We really felt the conditions on the Peninsula as evening arrived – long before we left NZ, we were warned that the night of the 24th on the Peninsula was going to be very cold, but I don’t think any of us were expecting it to be quite as bitterly cold as it was. We were also told beforehand to watch for signs of hypothermia among people in the crowds! I had more layers of clothing on than I’ve ever worn at once, but even with those several layers – which included two thermals – I was still shivering. I have to wonder how the ANZAC troops managed to survive the ridiculous temperatures in only their uniform?

Evening of the 24th.  [Photo used with permission from Rawhitiroa Photography.]

Evening of the 24th.
[Photo used with permission from Rawhitiroa Photography.]

The site was still alive throughout the night and morning – you could see some people trying to get some sleep, others engaging in conversation, others at the merchandise tents buying warm blankets. Still others of course, were queuing for the port-a-loos (not so glamorous anymore after ten thousand people have been using them). That night all us Youth Ambassadors huddled up to sleep before our 3AM breakfast – I managed a whole one and a half hours of sleep! Suffice it to say, we were all tired…but still ready for the day! And I wasn’t expecting to have an appetite at 3 in the morning, but breakfast was so delicious!

The crowds just before the service was set to start. [Photo used with permission from Rawhitiroa Photography.]

The crowds just before the service was set to start.
[Photo used with permission from Rawhitiroa Photography.]

Watching the Dawn Service on television is one thing but being there and experiencing it is something else entirely. Sitting in reserved seating up front, we were closest to the beach which was just on the other side of the podium stage, and the arctic breeze coming off it was harsh. I have never been so cold in all my life (and I thought the previous evening was cold? – psh!) and I really was concerned that I was going to develop hypothermia.

It was still pitch dark at that time of morning, so once the floodlights were switched off, you couldn’t even see the water. I remember that there was a moment of silence during the service – and it was real silence, despite the ten thousand or so people all occupying the same space – where all you could hear was the ambient sound of the waves lapping on the beach. In that moment, it was so easy to imagine the ANZAC troops arriving on their boats and scrambling up the beach for any form of cover from the enemy bullets raining down from above. It was too easy to imagine the many who weren’t lucky enough to reach shelter. All on that same beach in front of us.

And though there were so many people present at the Dawn Service, there was an overwhelming sense of unity. All ten thousand of us had travelled far and were gathered there for the same reason, and it was a very powerful thing.