[What Mary Thinks] Hyena, Hi Bye Mama, Born Again, The King: Eternal Monarch

With every passing month comes a batch of new Korean dramas as well as shows wrapping up its run. The past few months in particular marked a pretty interesting season and to take advantage of all the time that we are given now especially in this time and day, I took the opportunity to watch dramas ‘Hyena’ and ‘Hi Bye Mama.’ Combine this with ‘Find Me in Your Memory‘ and ‘Secret, the Meow Boy‘ and I was struggling to catch up with all my shows! It’s been so long since I’ve watched this amount of shows all at the same time I was struggling to catch up. Thankfully, I barely did.

Hi Bye Mama

You can only imagine just how excited I was when I learned that the writer of ‘Hi Bye Mama’ was the same writer as ‘Go Back Couple’ — a drama that I absolutely loved and still do love to this very day (and one that I think I will love for the rest of my life. Such a good and heartwarming and wholesome drama!). Because of this, I went into ‘Hi Bye Mama’ with no knowledge of what the premise was about, but with a sense of eagerness and excitement because of the writer. I mean, ‘Hi Bye Mama’ has to be somewhat just as fulfilling and amazing as ‘Go Back Couple’ was right? Except it was and wasn’t. I know it’s wrong to go into dramas with high expectations, but I couldn’t help it because this was the same writer as ‘Go Back Couple’ which was a drama that I absolutely loved. And maybe it was because of these expectations that I finished ‘Hi Bye Mama’ with disappointment.

The premise and storyline was interesting: Kim Tae-hee‘s character, Cha Yu-ri, is given a second chance at life when she is given 49 days to return as a human being to regain her spot as a mother and wife to her family. The first few episodes were gripping in that you witnessed Cha Yu-ri’s journey back into a human being. You also saw her former husband, Jo Gang-hwa’s (played by Lee Kyu-hyung), struggle to accept his new reality. In the beginning of the drama, you watched as he learned to navigate this new chapter in his life where he has a wife and a kid and a mother to take care of his baby, but it’s not Yu-ri who’s doing that. He instead remarried an old crush named Min-jung (played by Go Bo-gyeol) after Yu-ri’s death who then becomes the new mother to his child, Seo-woo. The beginning was interesting because you were trying to understand the dynamic between Gang-hwa and Min-jung and what kind of connection they had with each other. Their relationship was mysterious in a way, because they were married and they were both taking care of Seo-woo, but it was obvious that Gang-hwa still dearly loved Yu-ri despite being remarried. This was what made the drama intriguing and engaging to watch. I loved it even more when Gang-hwa first interacted with Yu-ri upon her return as a human being because it was finally the reunion that we had been waiting for! How was he going to react to his deceased wife’s second chance at life? What was he going to do about Min-jung with Yu-ri now back in the picture? How would Seo-woo react to interacting with both moms?

However, as the drama progressed and the storyline started to expand, I felt like the drama began to focus less on Yu-ri and instead dove into too many other sub-plots. I was not a big fan of all the ghosts and their storylines; I think it was too much of a distraction and it didn’t help that there were many of them. I didn’t care about the ghosts and their backgrounds because I felt like it was out of place and didn’t necessarily contribute to the overall plot which was primarily about Yu-ri. I felt like the drama was attempting to tug at our heartstrings by giving us the backstory to some of the ghosts, but I couldn’t get myself to be invested in their stories because the drama didn’t give a reason for us to do so. I just wanted to see more of Yu-ri and her journey, but the show decided to experiment with the ghosts which did not make for an entertaining watch. With the inclusion of the ghosts, the drama also sort of reminded me of ‘Hotel Del Luna.’ I felt like the drama was attempting to do too much and became desperate to fill up time by including the parts about the ghosts. At times, it felt like I was watching two separate dramas. Overall, I ended up skipping a few episodes towards the end because things started to drag and I only tuned in to the very last episode. I’m not surprised with how the show ended (I think the ending was even expected to an extent) and I’m glad that I dedicated my time wisely by just going straight to the last episode. ‘Hi Bye Mama’ started off on such an interesting and engaging note, but quickly deteriorated as the show progressed. It’s a shame for it had such a promising start and the cast was talented as well. ‘Hi Bye Mama’ was no ‘Go Back Couple’ and that was a difficult thing for me to accept. Lesson learned.

Hyena

Oh Hyena, what can I say about you? Look, I’m not the biggest fan of law dramas or lawyer/prosecutor/judge type of dramas. I’ve given some dramas in the past a try, but the only drama within that genre that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed was ‘Miss Hammurabi.’ With ‘Hyena’, I have to admit that I enjoyed the drama a lot more than I thought I would. It wasn’t a show that I was expecting to watch, but since it was out on Netflix and I needed something to watch, I decided to give it a try. Of course, as many people noted, the primary component about this show that made it as successful as it was was the work of our two leads – Kim Hye-soo and Joo Ji-hoon. Both were great and phenomenal individually (especially Kim Hye-soo who is SO good in everything), but they were also electric and on fire together. Their chemistry was off the roof when they worked together or interacted with each other and that was the main reason as to why I stuck with this show until the very end. I also enjoyed how the drama didn’t focus on a new case per episode. Some dramas love to do that which I find a bit distracting and redundant at times. ‘Hyena’ instead chose to spend its time on a few select cases throughout the show and then devote its other time on our characters, the team, and the politics within the law company. I could care less about the politics, but I absolutely loved watching our team roll up their sleeves and do their jobs (even if it wasn’t the most ethical as seen with Geum-ja). I love watching teams do some work and all the bonding that comes along with that (that was also another reason as to why I stuck with ‘Itaewon Class‘) and ‘Hyena’ was no exception to that.

I also loved watching Geum-ja with her little minion, Ji-eun. They made such a great duo and the mentor-mentee dynamic between the two was awesome. Geum-ja’s backstory was also generally interesting and engaging to watch. She’s as daring, bold, and strong as she is because of her complicated relationship with her father that stemmed from her childhood. I felt like the show became a little less interesting towards the end of the drama, but Kim Hye-soo and Joo Ji-hoon was what carried the drama to be as good as it was. Without them, the show would not have achieved its level of success, charisma, and energy. ‘Hyena’ is a good example of a show that is much better than it really is when you have talented and exceptional leads.

The King: Eternal Monarch

Yes, yes, I am going there. I am going to talk about this show and honestly reveal my thoughts. To be honest just right off the bat, I have mixed feelings about the drama. I can understand where the disappointment with this show is coming from. I too am disappointed to an extent, but I also am not as disappointed at the level that other people might be. Honestly, ‘The King: Eternal Monarch’ is not a ‘Goblin.’ It’s not at the level of Kim Eun-sook’s former dramas like ‘Goblin’ or ‘Mr. Sunshine’ and I’m not sure it’s ever going to be with what we were shown so far. And a part of me is completely fine with the drama not being at the same level as the other dramas before it. I know there is eventually going to be more that happens and all hell is going to break loose once Lee Lim (Lee Jung-jin) fulfills his mission in gaining power, but until then, the show feels empty. There’s nothing happening and it’s taking a while for things to happen. The show is barely focusing on the villain so it feels like there’s nothing driving the drama at the moment.

Of course, with a grand writer like Kim Eun-sook, you can’t help but compare ‘The King’ to her past dramas and similar to ‘Hi Bye Mama’, I know I shouldn’t have expectations for ‘The King.’ I shouldn’t want or expect ‘The King’ to be as creative and different as ‘Goblin’ because it’s just going to lead me to disappointment. And I know ‘Goblin’ is not everyone’s favorite either and plenty of people had issues with the drama, but I actually liked it. I actually enjoyed it so I was hoping that ‘The King’ would be just as entertaining to watch. However, with six episodes in, I don’t think we’re going to get that anytime soon (or maybe at all) which is completely fine with me too although I do have to admit that it’s a little mind-boggling at how empty the drama feels at times. When you take a step back to reflect on what’s happened within the last six episodes, you realize that there’s not a lot that has happened. The show is mainly focusing on Lee Gon (Lee Min-ho) and Jung Tae-eul’s (Kim Go-eun) relationship right now and even then, their romance is not the greatest thing to watch. The pacing of their relationship feels a little too fast and I’m struggling to feel the chemistry between the two leads.

With that being said, I’m still going to watch the drama and give it a few more episodes. I want to see how this whole parallel universe plot pans out and what the show is going to do with it. I do enjoy the comedic relief that Kim Eun-sook inserts into her dramas. I’m also mainly just watching this for Woo Do-hwan, Jung Eun-chae, and Kim Kyung-nam. Hopefully, things pick up for ‘The King.’ Do I think it deserves all the criticism and bashing that it’s gotten so far? Maybe not. Do I think it could be better? Absolutely. I think there’s potential for the drama to be much better and to do more, but the writer just hasn’t tapped into that yet. Hopefully it will soon though.

Born Again

Look, I wanted to like this drama. I actually considered recapping it on this blog, but after watching the first four episodes, I decided to tap out. Reincarnations is one thing, but the possibility of souls and bodies being swapped is another thing and I don’t think I can handle that. I unfortunately am going to have to drop this show which is such a shame because I was looking forward to it. I’m a casual fan of the cast (LOVE Jang Ki-yong especially) so I was hoping I could stay with the drama until the end. However, I can’t get myself to be invested and to stay watching. The first two episodes especially was a WILD roller coaster and if you watched it, you would know what I’m talking about. Unlike ‘The King’, there was so much going on within the first two episodes to ‘Born Again’, there was too much happening all at once. It was an overwhelming watch. I don’t see myself picking the drama back up unfortunately. Hopefully Jang Ki-yong’s future projects won’t be so dramatic and he can return to his more simple, easy going roles like he did in ‘Go Back Couple’ (is it obvious yet how much I love that drama?).

And this wraps up all the thoughts and comments I have about the dramas that I recently finished and am currently watching (excluding the dramas I’m recapping on the blog). While I’m not completely satisfied with all the dramas that I’m tuning in to, there are some upcoming dramas that I am excited for, including ‘Oh My Baby’ with Jang Nara (and Go Joon!!) as well as ‘Would You Like to Have Dinner Together?’ starring Seo Ji-hye (Crash Landing On You). Hopefully, the next batch of dramas will offer more and not leave me hanging. That’s not too much to ask for, right?

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