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Top Five Binge-able Korean shows on Netflix

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Rugal

Police officer Kang Ki-beom lost his eyes and his wife and was set up for the whole thing after he put all his efforts into taking down the large criminal organization Argos. Now recruited to the super-secret NIS special task force known as “Rugal”, where the members are given biotechnology implants to replace their missing body parts and thus gain the equivalent of superpowers, Kang Ki-beom, and his teammates set out to really take down Argos, and bring his wife’s killers to justice!

The show is full of kick-ass fight scenes, fun Robocop-like scenes courtesy of Kang’s bionic eyes and his co-worker’s replacement parts, and all the Korean cop drama you can shake your kim-chi at!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZtgPv3LjrI

Mystic Pop-Up Bar

Mobile outdoor tent pop-up bars known as pojangmacha are a staple in Korea, but this one is special! Run by sharp-tempered proprietress Weol-ju and her stoic partner Chief Gwi, Mystic Pop-up Bar actually solves their client’s issues through a supernatural method of dream incubation. Both Weol-ju and Chief Gwi are spirits sent back to the Living Realm as a punishment; Weol-ju has to settle the grudges of 100,000 souls to be forgiven for her crimes in a past life and Chief Gwi has sworn to help her.

Han Kang-bae is a kind young man who was cursed since he was little with the ability to make anyone pour out their innermost truths to him through physical contact. And when Weol-ju meets hapless Han Kang-bae, it’s a match made in the supernatural realm, and ripe for all kinds of nefarious shenanigans!

Full of heart and snark and the continual reminder that people really need to just talk to each other instead of keeping it all in, Mystic Pop-up Bar boasts shades of the beloved Japanese anime Xxxholic and is a great supernatural jaunt for a Korean drama.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0RfpPHksRA

100 Days My Prince

The first of a few saeguk (Korean historical drama) entries, this one begins with an unusual premise – a prince suffering amnesia who finds love amongst the common people.

So Lee Yul is the crown prince, whether he likes it or not, after a successful coup completely rearranges the power and King of the Court. From a devastated boy who loses his beloved mother at a tender age too, he grows into a bitter and cold young man who seems to delight in pegging-down everyone around him. Resentful and angry, during a drought plaguing the kingdom and everyone else plaguing him about consummating his marriage to the crown princess, Lee Yul commands for all unmarried people under a certain age to wed.

And then en route to the rain ritual, a botched assassination attempt sends the crown prince with a head wound amongst the common folk, to be taken care of by Hong-shim, her adoptive father, and a cadre of other very-common peasant friends. Facing arrest if she doesn’t obey the new law, Hong-shim ends up marrying the newly-arrived and rechristened amnesiac Won-deuk, and hilarity ensues!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LxsJGR7DgU

Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung

A fictional story of one of the first four female historians of the Korean Joseon period to ever be involved in compiling the Veritable Records of the dynasty.

Goo Hae-ryung is plucky and smart, but also young and undeniably female, which of course means everyone thinks she’s destined for an arranged marriage with a stranger, a passel of children, and likely young death from overwork. Instead, Goo Hae-ryung takes her destiny in her own hands and determinedly joins the testing for female historians, passing the challenge and joining a highly exclusive formerly mens-only club of historians that compile the Veritable Records for future generations.

As she struggles to work on the same level as the men, Hae-ryung meets the throwaway prince Yi Rim, himself an frustrated and overlooked soul who loves to write romance novels, of all things, and that earns him arrogant sniffs from his peers too.

Workplace romance shenanigans ensue, the constant struggle for the stability of the Joseon dynasty leads to life-threatening political entanglements, and through all this, Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung is there to fearlessly endure and record it for the precious historical records.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqaGhUJ9Vgs

My Country The New Age

Another saeguk entry, this one focuses more on military battles and aristocratic political mongering, though there is a small, sweet romance laced throughout the bloody business; a pretty pair of pink shoes abandoned on the battlefield as Korea fights its blood-soaked way from the Goryeo dynasty to the new Joseon dynasty.

A pair of friends begin the story by taking the state military exam together – Seo-hwi is a blacksmith and the disgraced son of a man wrongly executed for embezzlement, while Seon-ho is technically an aristocrat but still looked down upon as his mother was a concubine. Seon-ho commits an unforgivable act of betrayal against Seo-hwi at the exam, setting off a downward spiral that pits the two brothers at odds with each other, set against the backdrop of epic dynastic changes as one era ends and a new one attempts to rise from the ashes.

Lavish with well-made fight scenes and the kind of drama and tragedy that Korean shows are famous for, My Country The New Age is a tear-jerker of the finest quality.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khANmq-3Too

Bonus entry – Kingdom

Yet another saeguk entry, Kingdom is of course set in the Korean Joseon period and is full of your standard political and social strife, but with one significant addition – zombies!

Three years after the fictional Unpo Wetland Battle, where 500 Korean soldiers and the governor-turned-general defeated an invading Japanese army of 30,000 using some terrible secret methods, Kingdom skillfully weaves a horrific storyline of the unquiet dead through an already-epic tale of dynastic betrayal and manipulation. Featuring a starring role from Bae Doona (Sense8, The Host, Cloud Atlas) as the physician’s assistant turned war medic Seo-bi, Kingdom boasts two whole seasons available on Netflix now!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l-yByZpaaM

 

 

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Caesar’s Reign Comes To The Big Screen With New Trailer For Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes

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Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the global, epic franchise set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is directed by Wes Ball (the “Maze Runner” trilogy) and stars Owen Teague (“IT”), Freya Allan (“The Witcher”), Kevin Durand (“Locke & Key”), Peter Macon (“Shameless”), and William H. Macy (“Fargo”). The screenplay is by Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”) and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (“Avatar: The Way of Water”) and Patrick Aison (“Prey”), based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, and the producers are Wes Ball, Joe Hartwick, Jr., p.g.a. (“The Maze Runner”), Rick Jaffa, p.g.a., Amanda Silver, p.g.a., Jason Reed, p.g.a. (“Mulan”), with Peter Chernin (the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy) and Jenno Topping (“Ford v. Ferrari”) serving as executive producers.

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Masterchef Is Back! For Halo Season 2

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A quick recap – Halo is set in a war-torn 26th century, where humanity led by the United Nations Space Command or UNSC and their supersoldiers known as Spartans, fights against the onslaught of the alien conglomerate known as the Covenant. The full dust-up of Halo Season 1, can be found here. Onward into the introduction of Halo Season 2!

It’s been six months since the forced separation of Spartan Masterchief John (Pablo Schreiber) and Cortana (Jen Taylor), and the Silver Team has been sent on a mission to evacuate residents of the planet Sanctuary before the Covenant glasses the whole thing. This comes with its own set of challenges, given the resistance of the planet’s inhabitants, and it doesn’t help that Masterchef starts seeing things right in the middle of trying to save some marines. Or is he? Those energy swords the squad of Elites were carrying looked worryingly real.

Back on Reach, the Silver Team is entirely dismayed to learn they have a brand new Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) representative come in as the new boss, to finally replace the traitorous Halsey, James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan). And of course, Ackerson manages to immediately get under Masterchief’s skin, by not only expressing far too much interest in John’s relationship with Cortana but also apparently disbelieving of John’s report of his encounters on Sanctuary. That just means Masterchief has to go around, if not entirely over, Ackerson’s head.

Elsewhere, Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) is trolling the slave markets in his boredom, only to stumble across a soon-to-be indentured servant who claims he knows the whereabouts of the UNSC’s most hunted human, Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone). That should bring a huge bounty, but really, Soren should’ve known better by now.

Halo Season 2 premieres Thursday, February 8th, 2024, and will continue to air every Thursday, only on Paramount+!

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Reborn as a Vending Machine I Now Wander the Dungeon’: I look forward to your next use!  

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If the title of this delightful little isekai anime entry didn’t give it all away, our nameless protagonist is a vending machine fanatic who, after being killed by a vending machine, gets reincarnated in another fantasy-style world as one! 

Japan has a tendency to give birth to all sorts of crazed fads that can last for decades, and no one does better when it comes to the vending machine industry, too. These days there are vending machines that will serve you sushi you can actually eat, hot pizza in the box, wagyu steaks, freshly popped popcorn, and a whole mind-boggling array of tasty treats, and other non-edible but still useful items! Umbrellas! Condoms! Oxygen masks, sterile bandages, shoes, and emergency clothing! Actually, far more things that we use on an everyday basis, could be considered as technically a vending machine, and the anime explores that beautifully. Into the world of vending machine fanaticism, we dive! 

So our poor protagonist never gave a name, and inevitably when he’s discovered by his first official friend the starving hunter Lammis, she dubs him “Boxxo”. Like many isekai that seem to take inspiration from video games and RPGs, Boxxo discovers he ways he can communicate, level up his existence, and even evince magic-like powers and attack and defend against monsters and enemies. Though in the beginning, and as an underlying theme throughout the show, Boxxo is primarily concerned with providing unique never-before-tasted-in-this-world food and drink to the amazed folk, human and otherwise. 

Boxxo’s prices are entirely reasonable and hey, he can even choose to give out his wares for free on occasion, so his popularity immediately skyrockets. Lammis with her awkward charm and prodigious strength blessing, introduces Boxxo to other friends of Clearflow Lake Village and associates along the way – Director Bear, an actual bear-monster who’s the head of the Hunters Association; Lammis’ friend Hulemy, the insane genius magic item engineer; the Bearcats Suco, Pell, Short and Mikenne, cheerful hunters with astronomic appetites; even suspicious Kerioyl, leader of the Menagerie of Fools party. 

The show approaches the practicality and versatility of the true vending machine with amusement, but also with the love true fans display for things they’re passionate about. Certainly, things like a brothel needing a condom vending machine exist in our world, but to toss them into a potentially more innocent other-world isekai is a welcome and often hilarious treat. The show celebrates the cheerful idiocy and devotion of the fans to their chosen fandom, in this case, yes vending machines, but also the spirit of the lonely otaku finally finding their Tribe! 

Pay your coins to watch ‘Reborn as a Vending Machine’ on Crunchyroll now! 

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