First Impressions: Cheongdam Dong Alice and School 2013


It’s interesting how dramas affect us, get a hold and grip into our emotions so easily and flimsily. One minute we can love and devour a drama like no other, the next we may lose interest, with all curiosity zapped away by lightning just like that, no warning signs no nothing. I’ve had a fair share of those this year, beginning with the screamfest horror that was of Gaksital, to the once whack zip fun turned boring Arang and The Magistrate, to cute-turned-solemnly makjang fare that was of My Daughter Seo Young, and to the most recent Missing You (admittedly this never really got to me save for the first 4 eps thanks to the wonderful Yeo Jin Gu and Kim So Hyun). These dramas caught my attention, hooked me on from the beginning tho they were never really perfect to begin with… but something happened along the way, the dramas faltered? Stupid things happened? Things didn’t make sense? I lost interest, and yeap they were all binned, trashed and never to be seen again. It could be me and my never-ever consistent and fickle taste in dramas, it could be the drama Gods up there doing their magic to save me some precious time for the really golden dramas instead (ILICDD you!). Who knows?

But let the bygones be bygones, the K-drama world never stops, the globe keeps spinning, new dramas are churned out every now and then, we get hooked, we lose interest, the cycle repeats itself.  Maybe I should be thankful that some dramas aren’t up to par, for I could drop them without hesitation and thought, move on to the newer batch and indulge in excitement and freshness of ’em all (provided that they do not go all incredulous on me all of a sudden). Speaking of which, the recent hot off the oven dramas I’m watching right now: Cheongdam-Dong Alice and School 2013.

School 2013 [03/16]


School, a place of irony and contradiction don’t you think so? When we were in school, we HATED school, the countless hours of droopy eyes before our teachers, the going on and on of lessons and lectures that we will never remember once the bell rings, the once a week tests and once in two months exams..etc oh all those horrible memories! But then again, when we look back in time, we realise that we never knew, we loved  being in school more than anything. The youthful innocence, the playful minds devoid of the ability to scrutinise worldly problems, there was nothing better than having to go on about our on worlds without having to take real responsibility.  School oh school, how I miss you.

Perhaps I was a goody goody girl and in a goody goody class with goody goody teachers back then, I have never experienced anything alike to what’s being shown (student violence) in School 2013. I do not think it’s non-existent but it’s just that I’ve never really encountered it first hand (not that I’d have ever wanted to back then thank goodness). I can understand but it’s just not very easy to relate.

I do appreciate what drama’s trying to tell, about the erratic behavior of such students and their motivations and reasons behind their actions. But I guess I was expecting a little bit more than just the typical and pedestrian plot of teacher trying to tame and guide her students to do the right thing, walk the right path etc… I dunno, I just think there can be more originality to tackling school themed dramas, like maybe for instance, the paradox between a teacher’s authority and student’s opinion, or perhaps, the extent of physical punishment and discipline, the stress and pressure suffered by teachers who are not competent or up to the job.. I think they are plenty of issues which can be dealt with, creatively with a twinge of freshness if writer makes a point to deviate from the hackneyed notion of violence is the only problem in school. I’m not saying that School 2013 is not without all those elements (we’re only up till Ep 3 who knows), but it’s just a bit underwhelming to start off the drama predictable, writer’s problem.

 I have no problems with Daniel or Nara but I’m not very much intrigued by the teacher characters right now. They have cute and lovely chemistry (I can vouch for that) and I love it when they bounce each other off with their differing points on teaching. It’s just that their characters feel very plain and listless so far. It’s not that they’re so boring I want to skip their scenes, in fact they do exert certain importance in scenes involving their students’ misfits and disobedience..  but hmm..I dunno, I think  they’re lacking a certain charm of their own, as if besides being the passionate and result-reaching teachers they are, individually, they have no personality? But you know, I’m in a good mood now, given the rabid fan I was of their previous collab in BFB, I’m going to watch a few more eps to judge whether I like them or not.

The students are ermm.. just okay. It’s gonna take some time for me to warm up to them because they’re all so closed off in their own ways, for reasons we’re not supposed to know now (yes drama we know). I know I’m supposed to be empathetic and concerned for Nam Soon, and I’m supposed to like him for his willingness to help, but I’m not very fond of his elusive and avoiding ways. It’s a problem I have with a lot of drama characters when they refuse to talk, to communicate or at least leave a reason, they just don’t elicit much feeling from me because I cannot relate to their problems, and so I don’t have a reason to feel bad or sorry for them. Easy as piece of cake.  Lee Jeong Seok is doing fine if not just decent, but nothing great to call home. The only time when I look forward to his scenes, are his when he gives it a point to talk to people (like when he’s with Ha Kyung).

The rest of the students are less interesting, but maybe because they’re not as fleshed out as Nam Soon. I’m actually more interested on Jong Ho and his rash behavior but again, he does nothing but glares and stares non stop, I feel bad for the actor. And Park Se Young‘s Ha Kyung, I can only say that she does it better fierce and noisy (Love Rain), acting all stiff stoic just doesn’t make her icy queen (it worked in Faith because she had an amazing Ryu Deok Hwan to lead and amp her scenes).

Overall, just a lil bit more than okay a start for School 2013. Still more so underwhelmed after Ep 3, but am going to continue watching in hope that things will spice up a bit. Can I count on you Kim Woo Bin?

Cheongdam-dong Alice [4/16]


Crack, crack CRACK! This drama is CRACK!

It’s crack because it has a animated zany Park Shi Hoo trying to go all SG Joo Won on us (I don’t mind because I have soft spot for this actor –  I’ve liked most of his dramas ever since Prosecutor Princess). It’s crack because Moon Geun Young‘s her usual awesome self once again (her last one was terrible fcked up crap MMM)  . And it’s crack because it’s about mad-hatter falling for Alice,  how wicked SWEEEEET!

CDDA isn’t one drama I’d expected to have myself hooked on, granted that I wasn’t really fond of the first 2 episodes. I also had this terrible tugging notion prior to drama premier that PSH and MGY just couldn’t and wouldn’t work because PSH looked way too mature for the forever 15-year old looking MGY. And then I also had no idea drama was going to be about MGY’s character Se Kyung’s way up the ladder of the rich and glamorous. First 2 episodes I was quite ambivalent, though I had a zany fun time watching PSH pull off the exaggerated clownish Cha Seung Jo character of his.  He’s obviously over-acting to the point that nothing can pull him back ever, going all out with his expressions mannerisms and even bodily actions. Strangely tho, however allergic I am to OTT, I actually enjoyed watching him go on and off manic without warning. I dunno maybe it’s the PSH softie in me, I just cannot hate him.

But something along the way clicked, something in Ep 3 got me interested. The drama has  interesting themes about poverty and wealth, differences in classes of life, and how such drastically different classes affect certain facets of life, affect the way they approach life. Necessity is always the beginning of motivation, and here it’s Se Kyung’s thirst to break off poverty and debt that pushes her forward, towards something that she’d never think of doing, being the person she once condemned and wowed never to be, Seo Yun Joo.  I do think drama is taking everything on face value and making the theme work merely on the basics of K-drama formula, nothing terribly original or creative there, but somehow, the driving theme intrigues me, and I want to see if Se Kyung is able to make it in the end (either way, to be a designer or to be like Seo Yun Joo).

Ep 4 solidified my intrigue in CDDA further. The more I watch of MGY, the more I begin to see why she’s so loved and appreciated as an actress. Not because she’s been acting since forever, not because she’s the nation’s lil sister, because this girl has fire in her, she imbues her portrayal with such passion and emotion that you cannot help but want to root for her. My initial ignorance and doubt of her performance as Se Kyung gone, she does innocence cute and vulnerable spot on, and while her other more extreme reactions can go a lil overboard at times, she’s generally a ball of fire on her own.

And PSH, yes oh PSH! What a crazy mad albino bird you are! His mad-hatter portrayal gets me into delirious fits, sometimes I just fall off my chair. lol I do no think this performance is for everyone though, he can be utterly unbearable and cringe-worthy that no amount of MGY wonder can do good, but as much as he is poison to the others, he’s like meat to me, I can devour him in a go (provided that he doesn’t go zig-zaggy in a kamikaze lol). His character Seung Jo is also part of the reason why I’m not dismissing this show for now, I just find him thoroughly interesting and amusing, with a certain innocence and naivete. It’s not just his crazy silly OTT expressions, or his bipolarity which gets to me all the time, but the fact that he’s a person who wants to feel again, who wants to love again (but is afraid to because of his earlier betrayal by Yun Joo) in spite of his cool-ish confident front.

There are certain things I’m miffed about with this show, such as the all over the place direction and the typical 2nd lead evil trope (which I believe will happen tho Yun Joo’s being sort of a mentor to Se Kyung now). But they aren’t major gripes I’m planning to harp on right now because I do want to see where Se Kyung plans to go from here. Ep 4 ends with her stuck between her wall of conscience and her drive to achieve more than what she has. It’s kind of interesting because if she does decide to go all out, her character would more or less be marred with a shade of grey, tainted, definitely not your typical female lead stereotype – who has to be kind, nice, loving and unselfish. But I LIKE, at least she’s not damsel distress waiting to be rescued.

Overall, a pretty good start for drama. No where near the other drama in CDD, but still decent. I find PSH and MGY’s chemistry believable for now despite the still obvious age-gap, and acting is just fine. If drama continues to be as enjoyable and interesting the way it is now, I’m all good. Crosses fingers.

credits: pictures as tagged


14 thoughts on “First Impressions: Cheongdam Dong Alice and School 2013”

  1. ”PSH! What a crazy mad albino bird you are!”

    This is going to creep you out but I was totally writing a School and Alice post a few days ago but it’s sat in my drafts, I’m on a blogger’s block induced by my shitty job, it’s beginning to eat me even when I’m meant to be ‘switched off’? I’m sure everyone has these patches, right?

    But anyway — I’m so there with you:
    School? *snort* Boring. Plenty of leads worth following into this show, like the promising Park Se-young, and then I adored Kwak Jung-wook in White Christmas but seeing him play such a gruff, lairy bully is not as fun as I’d expected, and I doubt they’ll make him likable any. There is some potential for the show and its cast but there’s just… no spark. Thus disinterest.

    Alice? First episode, MGY was love love… Love! Though I was a little conflicted as to how I felt about the rest of the show. Second episode was even better! Haven’t watched eps 3/4 yet but I’m kind of wondering whether or not to proceed. I’m not PSH’s biggest fan (understatement), and the sultry Namgoong Min is out, but maybe sexy sleazebag Kim Ji-suk as a permanent fixture can help gauge my interest for the remaining episodes??

    1. No creeps of course, Alice and School are the newest dramas so it’s not surprising. And dun mention, I get blogger’s block ALL THE TIME, prob more serious than I think.. but I try to cover up by posting irrelevant stuff (music trailers and teasers) lol.

      Which ep are you up to in School 2013? Because right after I published my entry, I watched Ep 4, and it was so so so much better than the 1st 3 eps combined. The writing cliches are still there (guess you gotta live with it), and some characters continue to annoy, but Kim Woo Bin! – His appearance makes a whole lot difference to me in terms of level of intrigue and enjoyment , a sense of mystery and darkness is felt, his piercing presence and charisma overwhelms, his character piques my interest and curiosity, I love him already (sorry Nam Soon, you just not my type). I want to like this drama so I hope Ep 4 isn’t just a mere passing ep of intrigue.

      Hey you’re open to express you dislike of albino bird here! I so do not mind LOL I can even laugh and pick on him with you. I think Ep 3 and 4 were pretty enjoyable IMO better than the first 2 because it showed pretty interesting dynamics between mad-hatter Seung Jo and our very own Alice trying venture into Wonderland (Se Kyung and her resolve to be a true CDD elite). Drama also projects some very interesting ideas which may interest you, if you’re into something new. Granted you may still be turned off by the crazier PSH (he gets madder and madder), rest assured you will have a wonderful and even better MGY to savour in these 2 eps. She’s just that awesome. Kim Ji Seok’s okay so far, interesting douchy character but may have more inside… the more the reason you have to continue watching!

      1. OK, I’m officially giving both a second chance. Yes! I have a perennial soft spot for all the cast of White Christmas (two of whom are in Can we Get Married?) and Kim Woo-bin is a potential Kim Seong-oh. But but… please tell me this. does the bully character played by my lovely Kwak Jung-wook gain any love? Or is he simply resigned to nasty irredeemable jerkwad status? I don’t think my heart will be able to take it, although props to him for playing such a character so competently, cos it’s not even a glamorous bully role, it’s just… ugly.

        OK, I’ll resume Alice, I’m always a little skeptical with the more blatant of the rom-com genre, though I did quite like the two episodes I watched. ❤

      2. Are you already up to date, Ep 4? Kwak Jung Wook is still pretty much the sulky nasty baddie character he’s been so far, and doesn’t back down on his bullying, but Ep 4 does show that there’s something more to his actions (familial influence or lack of parental guidance?). I’m sure future eps will start to justify, for the lack of a better word, explain why he acts the way he is. And Kim Woo Bin, IWUBHIM (I must watch White Christmas now since I practically adore all of the boy cast who’re now doing other stuff, Sung Joon especially <33, and the writing of course by PYS).

      3. I just snuck on to see what episode 5 was like, as a means to catch-up (booo!), I’m still finding this show’s execution overall quite clumsy; the directing and the writing even more so. Characters are written very broadly, I’m not seeing the depth and dimension from the characters as much as this show is brandishing itself as a ‘realistic, slice of life’ school drama — that should be the bread and butter of this genre. It’s akin to a murder mystery without anyone dying. and as much as I don’t mind Lee Jong-suk he is mugging far too much for the camera. Though that’s not the actor’s fault but the PD.

        I mean, if all else fails it could have just banked on the aegyo appeal a la God of Study, y’know? I just… can’t… grasp what this show’s setting out to do.

        BUT, did I say there is no spark? Because the White Christmas alum are bringing it! I think the horrible Jung-oh has grown on me… muahahaha! And Kim Woo-bin is lovely as ever, too.
        You haven’t watched it yet? And I thought I was a a late arrival to the party? Haha! It’s…freaking amazeballs! Yes, Park Yeon-seon and PD par excellence Kim Yong-soo and that cast. Yum!

      4. Now you’re making me apprehensive of the coming eps, but you’re kinda right about the directing and direction of drama. There was nothing truly appealing in the first 3 eps.. not until Kim Woo Bin’s char came out to spice things up. My take’s that everything’s pretty much painted with superficial on the surface strokes, there is no depth (yet) so far. But I’m willing to give drama a chance for the actors, if in the end the realism doesn’t get to me, I’ll probably just stay put with what’s in store (violence issues and whatnot).

        And FYI if it makes any difference to you, drama team has decided to cut/reduce the love-lines between Nam Soon-Ha Kyung (and HS-KJ?) to the minimal. Not sure why but it looks like Korean viewers prefer a school themed drama focusing on real issues, they fear that the budding hinted romance between the students might undermine everything else? I’m on the fence about this because while I do want drama reach out to us about school realistically, to do away with all potential love lines/crushes between students just seem a bit… unnecessary (it’s part of high school teen life no?). Let’s see.

  2. I drop dramas all the time too. And I never look back, because, there are continually more fish in the sea. With that said, I’m sure I’ll stick w both of these unless something monstrous on the scale of M3 happens.
    I really like CDDA so far which is a huge relief because there hadn’t been a MGY drama I finished despite being a professed fan of hers.
    But my crack is actually School. They’re tackling other non-bullying issues too, like peer pressure, study pressure, perhaps drugs and cheating in the coming days. And I love Namsoon. He’s the interesting one for me since it’s clear he has been keeping a lurking shadow beneath. And watching him is like waiting for thin ice to crack.

    1. ^Yeap Ep 4 finally moved on to more interesting issues, not just the violence and bullying *phew*. Find myself relating more to Nam Soon with Heung Soo in the picture, he brings out NS’s past and the bits and pieces of why NS’s so closed off to others. And it doesn’t hurt that Kim Woo Bin’s my type hehehe.. Hopefully drama will not drag on the violence/bullying plot for too long because that ain’t the only major problem in school.

      I don’t mind love-lines too because it is only realistic that way hehehe.. remember our past crushes and one-sided love in school back then?

  3. LOL…. should I felt a relief I haven’t start watching Missing You yet? I loved CYHMH, that’s a reason i want to watch MY. but reading ockoala’s recap and your point of view, it seems the plot went somewhere and can’t go back.

    this year is a strange year for me for watching kdrama. since I can’t drop a drama so easily like before, particularly if I have love and invest the character’s journey.

    I didn’t knew you allergic to OTT acting that much since I DID enjoy Gaksital despite it flaws. The more I think about it, makes me regret even more for wasting my time and emotion watching it, haha. And I agree with you about Arang. The first 6 episode I find it enjoyable. But it gets boring towards the end. It seems I and JB+readers don’t get along with me this year like before. makes me wonder is it because my taste in drama has changed over the years?

    So far my crack drama I’m watching right now is cheongdam dong alice and can we get married. I love this drama so much and love each character. You’re right CDA is like a crack. PSH, you really did pick a good project since PP’s days.

    1. MY went downhill right after the adults came in, I feel kinda bad for dropping because CYHMH was such a gem amongst gems, writer did so well with it, touched and moved our hearts in spite of the makjang-ish plot. But MY, it’s really ridiculous, totally not my cup of tea. Writer is really better off writing family dramas.

      Can We Get Married is awesome awesome stuff, love it so much. The characters are so very flawed, and they all know very well, but for some reason, I don’t hate or resent them at all. Their actions, their reasons, the drama just manages to present them in such realistic ways, not blown out of major proportion. I laugh, I cry, I laugh then I cry, this drama messes with my emotions so bad. This drama is golden, definitely going up my top 3 of all favs if it continues to be this GOOD!

      Year 2012, I can die happy in drama world ❤

      1. Guess what, ripgal? I AM WATCHING CWGM, believe it or not (I blame the lack of gifs on the internetz). Still don’t see how the main OTP are meant for each other (i’m pretty sure it defies k-drama rules), but other than that, thumbs up!

      2. @ripgal: so glad to know you still love CWGM, since You are no longer write CWGM even I know you’re watching this show… Makes me wonder have you lost interest watching it? Glad to know I’m wrong. CDA and CWGM, talk about rom com with substance and add abit realism to the character, and I have a soft spot for the director, Kim Yoon chul. Despite some crazy antic they have been showing, the character and their journey really hits all the right notes for me. it’s been a while I’m waiting for a good romcom this year. After watching many a dark theme drama.

        2012 has been a good year for me. Even despite some drama I enjoyed it’s flawed, but I learned something from them.

      3. @hellochloe, how far are you into CWGM? The latest episodes? I think that’s the brilliance of this show, you really do not know what to expect from the characters/OTPs though it’s pretty much a given that one of them (main OTP) will end up together. The things that they talk about, argue about.. they’re all pretty much stuff that we REAL ppl and REAL OTPs go about. I’ve heard countless stories (mind you they ARE hearsay) about ppl breaking up with their partners before their big day, the hassles of it all..etc it happens. So if you’re not already up to Ep 14, you be prepared to see the main OTP struggle, but if you’re already there, I’m sure you’ll be more than convinced that they love each other so and are so meant for each other 🙂

      4. @missjb This show is my favourite trendy com right now, I just don’t know what to write because I keep repeating the same stuff over and over i.e. it’s good stuff. The recent episodes have been quite eventful though, with some character developments and plot movements that surprised me, will try to churn something out… hopefully soon. 😉

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