A week’s worth of kdramas

Ever wonder how people can watch so many kdramas 한국드라마 and if they get anything else done? It’s true, I’ve been known to fall into a kdrama black hole – usually in the cold, somber winter months – and marathon standbys like Faith, The Greatest Love, Moon Lovers, Cruel City, or Sorry I Love You, knowing that I won’t emerge for days and certainly won’t get anything else done. In my head, there are days that I think I manage to maximize my kdrama viewing time and do other stuff, too. But lots of times I just want to watch my kdramas. So, I thought I’d see if I really do get anything else done when watching kdrams and k-variety shows by logging a week’s worth of what I watch and what else I do (if anything) while I’m watching. Most of all, the other things I do have to allow me to read the subtitles because I don’t know Korean although I’ve picked up a few words and phrases here and there. (Which brings me to a shout out to all the subbers for their invaluable and much appreciated hard work. Thank you!)

So, let’s do it! Here’s an annotated log of what I watched in kdramaland this week!

Friday night

Happy Together is such an uneven show. I miss Late Night Cafeteria so much, can’t the producers just bring that back?

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Last week, Shinee. It’s hard to top that.

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This week’s theme is, “We just want to hear your voice” with Whee Sung, Han Dong Geum, Kim Hyungho, and Lee Su Joon  – singers who don’t have a chance with Korea’s crazy and impossibly high standard for looks obsession. But they are loved for their voices. They just get good at making fun of themselves. Also, doing impressions of other Korean celebs is such a thing, now. Everyone can imitate someone and even imitate the person who imitates them, so funny! I’m not sure about the new addition of comic artist Kian84. He draws clues and the Happy Together guests and MC crew guess what he’s drawn, similar to Pictionary. It looks like it’s fun to play but it’s not that fun to watch them play for very long. Hello~Late Night Cafeteria, think about it.

My Wife’s Having an Affair This Week ep 1

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My love for my first kdrama, Pasta, is largely due to Lee Syun Gyun. So, convince me, drama, that this storyline will be a good one! So far, it’s  funny and elusive enough to keep my attention. Crossed signals, reading between the lines, and the power of suggestion make for understandable suspicions on the part of Hyun Woo that his wife, Soo Yeon, is having an affair. Or is he overreacting on his own weaknesses and shortcomings and blaming her undeservedly?

K2 ep 11 – Like everyone else, I’m watching for Ji Chang Wook.

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Infinity Challenge 503. Okay, this is where it gets fun. I have a friend who lives far away and we have a virtual Girls’ Night Date Night watching Infinity Challenge together at a coordinated time on Friday nights. The fun part is texting comments back and forth as we watch in RT. We virtually share face masks, drinks of choice, snacks, and plenty of comments – sarcastic and fangirl – across the miles once a week. Long story how we met up but if you can virtually watch a Korean show with someone who shares your love of them ( because as you all know there aren’t many family members or friends who you can turn to for your kdrama addiction), then you’ve hit gold. Sharing inside kdrama-lover jokes is the best!

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As for this particular episode, I know they’re still carrying out the year’s wish list of what the team members will do, but the theme this week was weak compared to the anniversary specials that recently aired. Infinity Challenge has always been hot and cold; just when the producers announce that the show is in crisis, they hit on a winning theme that saves the day. Reaching the 500th episode anniversary is no small feat, and the members vow to reach 1,000. Good luck, IC! Do better next week. 🙂

infinite-challenge-503

Kwanghee holds a special place in our virtual hearts, we always root for him to catch a break. Here he is making his way in pitch black as part of astronaut training. {{{{Kwanghee in space}}}}}

Saturday night

WGM – I have to be honest, I ff through this sometimes depending on the couples. Right now I’ll check on what Jota and Jin Kyung – the 33 couple – are up to. (Jota just joined Real Men, which is on later in the week.)

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The 33 couple are athletic and very competitive and always do well in sports events. Rock climbing, I’m impressed!

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It’s Seoul Fashion Week and model Jin Kyung looks beautiful in, well, whatever she wears. Husband Jota is proud of his wife – these two are an amazingly attractive couple!

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WGM doesn’t require as much focus so I can follow along while watching Eric Nam and Solar on their honeymoon in Dubai and newlyweds Bomi and Choi Tae Joon set up house while I do 50 wall push-ups* and 25 sit-ups. Wait, should I be doing those during Real Men? A little exercise makes me feel like I’m not wasting time. Choi Tae Joon was such a hit as a guest on Hello Counselor that the producers made him a regular. I think they wanted to add new, younger blood to the longstanding regular hosts. When he’s not filming WGM, Eric Nam is running around Mongolia with Byungman and the crew on Law of the Jungle.

* wall push-ups

Now for coffee, pumpkin bread, and a Crème Shop face mask (made in Korea) while I watch ~

korean face mask, K2, kdrama

K2 ep 12

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Cosmetologist: “You’ll be an embarrassment if you look this uncool at a high-fashion event.”

Je Ha: “What? I look uncool?” (Can Ji Chang Wook even look uncool?)

Having access to Mirror doesn’t seem like a good thing for Je Ha.

I read that viewership ratings are dropping and two reasons are cited: Yoona and the fact that it’s a political drama. The political story is definitely dragging and Yoona isn’t helping. But JCW so I’ll probably stick with it.

Law of the Jungle – Mongolia

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As if hunting wolves last week wasn’t exciting enough, the group heads towards the frozen region across Lake Biakal near the Russian border. Eric Nam is on this show and WGM at the same time – I like the crossover between shows. It gives a better read on a person’s personality and talents!

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Changsub (BTOB), Eric Nam, and Park Se Young (one of my favorite rookie actresses) are eating hail that has just pelted them. And yes, those are reindeer. Last week the crew was foraging for mushrooms and hunting wolves who attacked the livestock of the local residents. It is nearly impossible to explain the format of Law of the Jungle to a non-viewer: a mismatched collection of unsuspecting actors and idols who take on nature in remote places on earth. Half the time someone is on an IV for dehydration or some other exotic illness. Somehow they make a series from that concept.

It’s 12:55 a.m. G’night~

Sunday

My Wife’s Having an Affair This Week ep 2

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By the second episode, Hyun Woo (Lee Sun Gyun) is a pathetic mess, suspecting his wife, Soo Yeon (Song Ji Hyo), of having an affair and interpreting or misinterpreting (we’re not sure, yet) her EVERY move. I love how the supporting characters have a big role as they play into Hyun Woo’s suspicions and the situation spins out of control. On top of that, they all work for a TV station and have come up with a new show about women having affairs based on the (real life) adultery law being abolished in Korea in 2015. It’s a mishmash of reality and fiction as the stories presented for the show are based on actual situations – Hyun Woo’s included. Of course, he has no proof, but based on his hunches that Soo Yeon is having an affair, he becomes and obsessed madman. I nearly cried when he changed her name in his phone from [Pretty Wife] to [Wife] as the countdown to what he supposes is a meeting with her lover approaches.

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I like poor PD Ahn who is beside himself on behalf of Hyun Woo when he finds out some of the details that have made Hyun Woo strongly suspect Soo Yeon. It’s scary how all of a sudden everyday things become highly suspicious acts. BoA (love her as a singer and performer and like what I’ve seen of her acting before) plays a divorced woman who is more of a voice of reason than anyone else in the office.

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Happy eighth anniversary – the rubber anniversary (representing resilience? not sure). Hyun Woo gives it his best even though he nearly forgot and brings home a cake and balloons to celebrate in spite of his growing suspicions. Guess he’s thinking that this will get Soo Yeon’s attention. But she is not home and he finds a note that she and their daughter are at a birthday sleepover. “She forgot our anniversary,” Hyun Woo realizes. He lights the cake’s candles alone in their dark living room. Such a sad sack.

Immortal Songs 2 is my weekly dose of Korean music culture. I think it is the highest quality and caliber music show on with amazing performances from singers of every genre and age. Although Shin Dong-yup is the presenter, the three MCs and the guests backstage have the best green room banter in the industry.

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(MCs Moon Hee-jun, Jung Hae-hyun, and Yoon Min-soo have a strong rapport to keep the backstage talk lively and entertaining.)Today is “the song of the nation – Arirang special.” When I hear Arirang I think of a particular song that touches the hearts of all Koreans. But I didn’t know there were so many variations. I looked up:

Arirang – Arirang is a popular form of Korean folk song and the outcome of collective contributions made by ordinary Koreans throughout generations. Essentially a simple song, it consists of the refrain ‘Arirang, arirang, arariyo’ and two simple lines, which differ from region to region. (more at  http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/RL/arirang-lyrical-folk-song-in-the-republic-of-korea-00445).

gugak – translates into “national music” and comprises roughly of two bigger genres, folk music and court music. (more at    http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/Culture/view?articleId=111648)

pansori – (Korean: 판소리, also spelled p’ansori) is a Korean genre of musical storytelling performed by a vocalist and a drummer. The music is usually performed by one sorikkun (Korean: 소리꾼, a singer) and one gosu (a drummer playing a barrel drum called buk Korean: 북).

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I was introduced to Song Sohee through Immortal Songs 2. She is a young (21), extremely talented and charming gugak singer and I couldn’t wait for her performance. She blows me away with her singing that carries a haunting spirit of the Korean people throughout the ages. She is girl♥crush worthy.

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This week’s guests: Boohwal, Kim Kyungho, Kim Sohyun, Kim Dongjun, Song Sohee, 2nd Moon, Kim Junsu, Ko Yeongyeol. I was mesmerized by every performance and the audience was moved to goosebumps.

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(Eating coffee chocolate chip ice cream while watching the winning performance.) I learned that Arirang was registered in 2012 by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Very cool.

Real Men ep 182

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First day in the barracks: getting rid of unnecessary items. Jota gets busted for wearing his WGM wedding ring because he’s not really married. Shim Hyung Tak and his love for comic character Doraemon gets him in trouble because he’s brought a Doraemon notebook. He also showed up at boot camp with a Doraemon tee-shirt. (*Sigh*) How old are you?

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Punishment: 20 high jumps. They’re already having a hard time.

Society Game ep 2 

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I decided to watch the second episode tonight while I dried my hair and jotted down a few reminders to myself for the coming week. Society Game is a team strategy and elimination game. Two teams, Nopdong and Madong, compete in daily brains and brawn challenges. The winning team is awarded money and gets to keep its players; the losing team has to eliminate a player. It is reminiscent of The Genius which was an exciting mind-bender competition, but the difference is its players were celebrities or semi-celebrities, whereas Society Game‘s players are not for the most part. I’m finding that I’m not as invested in this show or the competitors and I’ll probably drop it. The male models are annoying, Macho’s incredible lack of basic math skills really hurt his team – he actually made them lose, and Pharaoh’s extreme fear of chickens is goofy. Plus no one is really fun.

12:22 a.m. – time to hit the hay!

Monday

IN2D ep 147

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I sneaked in the newest episode early this morning while I got ready. There’s nothing like a dose of Shi Yoon (aka Dong Gu on 1N2D) and a cup of coffee to start out my day right!

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Actor Yoo Ji Tae and comedian Myung Hoon, friends of Joon Ho, were guests on 1N2D and weren’t half bad once they got the hang of  the flour candy game for dibs on an amazing lunch spread (or not) and telephone charades for dinner. Ji Tae’s role in the famous movie, Oldboy got a lot of mileage and, no surprise, there were plenty of voice imitations. Ji Tae even did a voice imitation of himself as his Oldboy character. I like that everyone seems to have a good time on 1N2D.

I see Moon Lovers is up raw, yay, looking forward to episode 19 tonight!

Moon Lovers ep 19

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I had to wait until after trick-or-treating to watch Moon Lovers subbed.

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Such palace angst! Baek Ah ~! Jung ~ ! So ~! (Can you tell I’m over Wook – he doesn’t get an exclamation mention.) With only one more episode to go, how will Moon Lovers Scarlet Heart Ryeo end?

Thanks for the Food ep 15 – It’s 12:43 a.m. This midnight hour foodie show is making me hungry!

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MCs: Seho, Moon Hee-jun, and Yang Se-hyung

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Foodies first generation idols, Tony Ahn (H,O.T.), Bada, and Joon hyung (g.o.d.) are the guests who entice the panel to try their favorite foods.

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Tuesday

Three Meals a Day – Fishing Village 3 ep 3

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Who knew watching three guys and two cats cook three meals a day in a remote island fishing village could be thrilling? With Chef Eric, Captain Seojinie, and hard-working maknae Kyunsang every week I guess I answered my own question.

Eric sports a natural, laid back style as he chops and dices vegetables for all sorts of yummy dishes. I think he has found his new calling.

three-meals-a-day-eric-seojin-hyunsangthree-meals-a-day-eric

Like all cats, Mongie and Koongie are aloof but like attention when they want it. Thanks to Three Meals a Day I was in a pretty good mood this morning as I got ready and had coffee with the guys.

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After tasting the kimchi, cold sweet soup, and curry rice that Eric expertly made,  Seojin asked, “Do you want to run a restaurant with me?” Eric’s curry secret: coconut milk and dark chocolate. Looks so good!

Sweet Stranger and Me (or The Man Living In Our House) ep 3 & 4

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I watched episodes 3 and 4 back to back and like that there is a lot going and plenty of unknowns on but not so much that it’s hard to keep track. Kim Jihoon plays the boyfriend every girl hates. (Wasn’t he in a similar role not too long ago?) Oppa is adorable but his comments such as, “It’s like a parent getting a gift from his child” throw me off as much as they do Na Ri.

Moon Lovers Scarlet Heart Ryeo ep 20 Final

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Yes, that is Hae Soo and Jung together.

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The ending? I haven’t read any of the comments yet so here’s my stream of consciousness reaction. Warning: may be hazardous to your k-health! The beautiful scenery and the handsome princes – above all our King So – linger. But I HATED the rushed last episode with enough events and time covered that it could have been a mini series in itself. ^^Blink^^ – Soo was gone. Whaaa? So missed ever seeing her again? I ended up loving Soo and Jung together the most even though Jung knew to whom Soo’s heart belonged. So had no right to barge in on Jung that way and yet he had every right. Gah! And their daughter – Soo’s and Jung’s – was hidden for years with nary a mention. When So met her five or six years later on chance, he knew who she was even though he didn’t come out and say it.

moon-lovers-solar-eclipse-lee-joonki-ep-20

Ji Mong’s departure was our signal that the total eclipse of the sun was approaching. Then they made us do the big time leap. Okay, Soo is back in the 21st century. I’m waiting. How will she meet So? Ji Mong shows up at her cosmetic booth. Surely So will appear – as a cosmetics model? An investor? A mystery lover? It could be so cool, c’mon time travel, do your stuff!

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Then Soo has flashbacks, stumbles, and has to leave the booth. While wandering through the Goryeo cosmetics display she sees pictures of the palace and king. King So appears in her mind. Now! I think he will show up now. But, there’s no So in sight. In Soo’s mind she sees herself with So at the palace. We see a lot of flashback scenes from past episodes as Moon Lovers wraps up. Was it a dream? I think So will walk up behind her – now! More scenes from the palace with So and Soo talking by the pond and then…then….*pop!* It’s over. Just like that. Then end. The untold story of the untold story.

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Was Moon Lovers too short or too long? This is not a recap or even well-formed comments. It’s just that I’m sitting here and ML is over. It is one of those kdramas that could have been so much more and that potential kept me watching. All right. It was Lee Joonki that kept me watching, I’ll confess. I will read the hundreds of comments on dramabeans tomorrow. No one ended up happy, but in real Goryeo, they didn’t anyway.

Goryeo BB cream. Who knew?

Hip Hop Tribe 2: Game of Thrones Episode 2

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A rapping competition show – blind auditions by celebs who, for the most part, aren’t rappers but think they have some talent in that genre. Some want air time so they aren’t forgotten by the public; others want to try something new. There are lots of fails, some are okay, and a few aren’t too bad. The auditions are in front of a panel of teams made up of Korean rappers who choose 5 new members from the auditions to train and compete for the win. I actually like the SeSeSe team which is the only aggressive team and has 3 new members so far. The team with G2 (he seems so cynical) still hasn’t chosen anyone. It’s a good show to wind down with before falling asleep.

Wednesday

BIGBANG MADE: The Documentary Episode 1

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It’s BIGBANG’s 10th year anniversary. This interview style documentary follows their global tour last year and is sprinkled with reflection and love for fans. BIGBANG’s specialty. Watching ’cause GDragon. Who knew of T.O.P.’s art appreciation bent ? Ten years have gone by *–zip–* – with thoughts on maybe ten more years together (T.O.P. will be 40 then. Wow.)

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Flower Crew Episode 9 – Time to drop. I really wanted to like this and watched 8 entire episodes, but it doesn’t capture my heart. I was hoping it would feel like The Human Condition which somehow always managed to evolve into something meaningful. But this doesn’t do it for me. Bye-bye.

 Jealousy Incarnate ep 21 Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

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Hello Counselor ep 297  – Hello VIXX  – guests Hongbin & Ken, and actress Seo Yoo Jung. I’m always amazed at the topics people write in about and air publicly and the offending person (often a family member or co-worker/boss) comes on the show! One good thing is that the “offender” makes promises on national television and, apparently – especially in Korea, breaking that promise would bring humiliation and hurt that person’s pride. Seems fairly effective for breaking bad habits.

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Thursday

Duet Song Festival ep 26 – I see that I really am a sucker for Korean singing shows. I was looking forward to Duet Song Festival ep 26 because this week is part 2 of competing teams made up of a celeb singer and an ordinary person who the singer chose from audition clips that were sent in.

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Last week the duets included Ailee and her partner, Soo-bin, who is only 16 years old and a fabulous singer, Dong Geum and his partner who have won for four weeks straight, B.A.P.’s Dae Hyun, Will K., and a few other powerful singers all put on a really good show. If I’ve learned anything about Korean entertainment, it’s that it’s is cutthroat, stressful, and in the famous catchphrase of Heidi Klum, one day you’re in – the next, you’re out. Not one performer holds back on emotions or sincerity. Today’s second round is combined with last week’s scores for a winning team. I was rooting for either Ailee or Dong Geum’s team, but the winners were deserving and the audience voted Dong Geum and his partner to appear again next week as “the team they want to hear again.”

Radio Star ep 499 – even Kyuhyun seems like a middle-aged man on this show with the other middle-aged MCs.

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Radio Star is random and today’s guests don’t even match, but all the same, it is low-key entertainment, mostly impromptu and fun conversation. Plus, I really did get a couple of things done while I watched: chopped veggies for dinner; threw in a load of wash, and did 50 wall push-ups. Anyway, Joon hyung is always himself, never quite getting Korean sayings correct, Jay Park is somewhat mysterious and definitely talented, and Guk Joo is as popular as she is for a reason – she is comfortable in her own skin and is generous with others.

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Like Sleepy, who has a reputation of riding on Guk Joo’s coattails as they continue to be linked together as “boyfriend/girlfriend” for business purposes. I think. Sleepy seems to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time these days.

Jealousy Incarnate ep 22 – After Moon Lovers’ rushed and in many ways unsatisfying final episode for those of us who remained loyal viewers and deserved more although we saw it coming, I wasn’t sure what to expect from yet another kdrama nearing the end.

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What a happy surprise that Jealousy Incarnate is turning out to be rather philosophical, or maybe it’s more accurate to say that we get to see Hwa Shin go through the process of dealing with one of life’s most difficult issues – finding out that you have cancer. He has dealt with denial, bargaining, lying, ignoring, blaming, anger, covering up, skipping treatments, shame, pushing people away, and changes that have to be made even though you want to act like nothing has changed. We also see how those around him react to all this.

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Truth, in the end, won out. At first, I was thinking that Hwa Shin should have been truthful from the start, but I came to realize that it wasn’t untruthfulness so much as it was facing dealing with his disease, the prejudice of illness in the professional world, and the unspoken and unknown occurrence of male breast cancer. Hwa Shin figured out that in order to protect what he loved and be true to himself, he had to accept the reality of what was true (even if he didn’t like it) and let the outcome rest on that. Often in kdramas I root for the unappreciated and devalued female and I did in the beginning with Na Ri, but I think the drama did a decent job of sorting through that as well. Now, all we have left is how the romance will progress:) and two more episodes remain for that.

That ends my Friday-to-Thursday-night log of the Korean shows I watched. I had fun keeping track and realize that I enjoy my viewing and don’t do much to interrupt my shows. As much as I don’t want to admit it, getting other stuff done while watching kdramas doesn’t really happen. Oh well – life in kdramaland is grand~

Do you keep track of what you watch each week?

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One thought on “A week’s worth of kdramas

  1. Pingback: Drama Awards 2016: Closing Thoughts | Cozybooks

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