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Malaysia’s future stars set to shine on TVS reality show TVSTARZ!

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What makes a truly addictive reality talent competition? Is it the tension? The sad backstories? The thrill of seeing your favourite make it through to the finals? Now you can add TVS reality show TVSTARZ to your must-watch list.

TVS may have just unveiled the latest addition in its programme lineup on Feb 26, 2021, but TVSTARZ already garnered over 645 applicants nationwide with 6 contestants already selected and shortlisted.

Six singers, otherwise dubbed ‘The Dream Team’, will have to sing their way to the finals as they face one challenger per week.

“TVSTARZ by TVS will be a breath of fresh air to the industry. We believe that this platform can leverage and nurture talents to the next level while utilizing local creative industry players particularly in Sarawak,” said Suhaimi Sulaiman, Chief Executive Officer of TVS in its official statement.

TVSTARZ! will be the first 100% online talent search program made available on TV due to today’s current pandemic.
In the hopes of finding the next movers and shakers of Malaysia’s entertainment industry, TVS’ first ever reality show production is set to meet the audience over 3 nail-biting seasons. Each season will focus on a different talent, with Season 1 focusing on vocals, Season 2 on hosting and Season 3 on acting abilities.

The first season will be aired over 10 episodes while Season 2 and 3 will each conclude after a 6-week challenge. Each season will feature different contestants.

TVS’ producer, singer and dancer, Jay C will host the show while singing coach, Yudhi Seriestha, and powerhouse singers Ernie Zakri and Amir Jahari will be judges.

Meanwhile singer and former Miss World Malaysia 2014, Sarawak’s very own Dewi Liana Seriestha will be the show’s vocal coach as well as TVS’ very own music producer Farouq Mousthofa will act as music arranger.

The show is set to air on March 16th, 2021 on TVS Channel 122 on Astro and myFreeview.

Watch it to believe it! Making way to your screens soon, TVSTARZ’s astounding vocalists are here to take centre-stage as the most unique and entertaining talent search program!

KajoPicks: 10 South Korean revenge dramas you need to watch

On KajoMag.com, we have covered Korean revenge movies so here are our favourite Korean revenge dramas you need to watch:

1.Doctor Prisoner (2019)

Korean revenge drama

What would you do if you were fired unfairly from your job? Normal people would file a complaint with the labour department, but in this Korean revenge drama, the main character goes as far as applying for a job at the prison.

Doctor Prisoner (2019) centers around an ace doctor named Na Yi-je (Min Nam-gung) who works at a university hospital’s emergency care center.

However, his medical license gets suspended as a result of a medical malpractice incident which he did not cause.

He then gets his certificate as a medical internist and applies to work at a prison.

His plot is to cozy up to all the big-shots in the prison such as business tycoons, celebrities, sports stars to win allies.

Using his connections, he is planning to get revenge against the hospital that ousted him.

2.The Innocent Man (2012)

Song Joong-ki as Kang Ma-ru, is a smart but poor medical student who has to singlehandedly look after his little sister.

He was in love with Jae-hee (Park Si-yeon) who left him for a rich CEO, as she always dreamt of being rich. (Cuz, who doesn’t?)

Six years after Jae-hee leaves, he becomes an arrogant playboy who works as a bartender. Now, he is no longer the ‘innocent man’.

He then meets Seo Eun-gi (Moon Chae-won) as part of his revenge plan against Jae-hee.

Slowly, Ma-ru starts to care for her and eventually falls in love with her. In the end, can he really see through with his revenge onJae-hee?

3.Secret Love (2013)

How much do you love someone? Are you willing to sacrifice your future by going to prison for your boyfriend?

When Do-hoon (Bae Soo-bin) kills a woman in a hit-and-run accident, he asks his girlfriend Kang Yoo-jung (Hwang Jung-eum) to admit she was the one who drove.

Yoo-jung agrees and ends up in prison. Then Do-hoon dumps her when she is in prison.

In the meantime, Jo Min-hyuk (Ji Sung) is burning with revenge after the death of his girlfriend who was killed in the hit-and-run accident.

After realising the truth that Yoo-jung was not the one behind the wheel, Min-hyuk begins to help her making a fresh start in life.

4.Monster (2016)

When you lose all your family wealth, causing you to fall from being a rich, spoilt heir to blind beggar, it is natural for you to seek for revenge.

Born Lee Guk-cheol (Kang Ji-hwan), he was the heir to Sudo Hospital, until the deaths of his parents and aunt.

While he survived several murder attempts against him, he lost everything and became a beggar.

Blinded by the car accident that killed his parents, Guk-cheol’s sense of hearing is heightened to superhuman level, an ability he would continue to possess as an adult.

Years later, he undergoes surgery to cure his blindness and change his appearance.

He obtains a new identity – Kang Ki-tan, using it to take revenge on those responsible for his misfortune.

5.I Hear You Voice (2013)

KajoMag picked this drama as one of our favourite ‘noona’ drama since the main characters are in love with each other and six years apart.

Revenge-wise, it offers viewers a slice of thriller and suspense with a murderer running around trying to kill the main characters.

Lawyer Jang Hye-sung (Lee Bo-young) is a public defender who doesn’t care about her clients and only does her job for the salary.

When she was a teenager, she testified on the witness stand causing the murderer of Park Soo-ha’s father to be convicted and imprisoned.

Meanwhile, Soo-ha has the supernatural ability to read people’s minds by looking into their eyes. He gains it after witnessing his father killed.

Ten years later, the murderer has been released from prison. Now, he is getting revenge on Hye-sung and Soo-ha as well as their loved ones.

6.City Hunter (2011)

Dive South Korean officials plan a covert operation, codenamed “Operation Cleansweep”, to enter North Korea and kill several top members of the North’s high command.

Lee Jin-pyo (Kim Sang-joong) and Park Moo-yeol (Park Sang-min), two Presidential Security Service bodyguards and best friends organised a 21-man team for the mission.

The operation is successful, but as the troops swim out to return, the Navy submarine assigned for their extraction, snipers aboard the submarine open fire on them.

An already injured Moo-yeol sacrifices his life to save Jin-pyo. Jin-pyo then swims back to shore and returns to South Korea.

There he finds out that the assault team’s service and personal records have been erased.

Promising to avenge his fallen comrades, Jin-pyo kidnaps Mu-yeol’s infant son, and names him Lee Yoon-sung (Lee Min-ho).

He flees to the Golden Triangle to raise the child as his own and trains the boy intensively in combat.

Yoon-sung returns to South Korea to avenge his father’s killers.

7.Iris (2009)

Two elite National Security System (NSS) agents and best friends, Hyeong-jun (Lee Byung-hun) and Sa-woo (Jeong Jun-ho) both are in love with fellow agent Seung-hee (Kim Tae-hee).

However for the sake of his friend, Sa-Woo suppresses his feelings for Seung-Hee.

Hyeon-Jun is then sent off on a solo mission to Hungary.

In Hungary, Hyeon-jun accomplishes his mission but wounded while making his escape.

Shortly after that, he finds out that he was betrayed by his friend Sa-woo.

At that time, Seung-hee steps in to help Hyeon-jun escape, but a car explosion separates the two and both are misled to believe that the other person are dead.

Hyeon-jun is then saved by an unknown organisation and learns of the secret society “IRIS”.

One year later, Hyeon-jun returns to Korea to seek revenge. During this time, the two Koreas are set to reunify, while the group “IRIS” are intent on stopping the reunification.

Full of action and suspense, Iris (2009) is one of the most expensive Korean series ever make.

8.Golden Cross (2014)

Speaking of secret societies here is a drama about a secret society known as ‘Golden Cross’.

It secretly controls the Korean economy and marketplace using its deep connections and financial power.

In the midst of it, prosecutor Kang Do-yoon (Kim Kang-woo) gets entangled in the society when his sister is murdered and his father gets framed for it.

Due to this, Do-yoon is set to get his revenge against the powerful man behind the organisation, Seo Dong-ha (Jeong Bo-seok).

Things gets complicated when Seo happens to be the father of the woman he loves. So do you seek vengeance on your potential father in-law?

Watch the trailer here.

9.Defendant (2017)

How do you prove your innocence when you have amnesia? Park Jung-woo (Ji Sung) is a renowned prosecutor at the Seoul Central Prosecution Office.

One day, he wakes up in a prison cell and is told that he has killed his wife and that his daughter is currently missing.

To make things worse, he suffers from temporary amnesia not remembering what happened.

Can Jung-woo proves his innocence as well as find the real culprit behind it?

The drama also stars Um Ki-joon, Kwon Yu-ri, Oh Chang-seok and Uhm Hyun-kyung.

Watch the trailer here.

10.Pinocchio (2014)

This Korean revenge drama showcases how irresponsible media organisations could ruin families and affect public perception.

It also shows how the rich and powerful could control the media by deverting the public’s attention to juicy, but ultimately unimportant news.

After a misleading news report destroys his family, Ha-myung (Lee Jong-suk) begins to live a new life as Dal-po.

He hides his intelligence and past memories behind a facade.

After years of being a taxi driver, he decides to become a reporter to prove his family’s innocence.

However, not everybody is like him who takes the high ground in taking revenge. Some people who just take the violent and bloody way to seek vengeance.

KajoPicks: 15 webtoon adaptations into Korean dramas you should watch

A webtoon is a type of digital comic that originated in South Korea. Just like how J-dramas are often inspired by manga or anime, there are more South Korean dramas based on webtoons these days.

So here are KajoMag’s pick of 15 webtoon adaptations into dramas you should watch:

1.Orange Marmalade (2015)

Korean webtoon 10
Watch the trailer here.

This Korean drama is based on the Naver webtoon of the same name published from 2011 to 2013.

It stars Yeo Jin-goo, Kim Seol-hyun, Lee Jong-hyun and Gil Eun-hye.

The story goes that 300 years ago, humans and vampires signed a peace treaty.

Nonetheless, they still do not get along well with each other. Even though the vampires no longer rely on human blood as food, they are still discriminated on by humans.

This causes many vampires to hide their identities including Baek Ma-ri (Kim Seol-hyun). She falls in love with Jung Jae-min (Yeo Jin-goo), the most popular boy at her high school (of course). What happens when Jae-min finds out Ma-ri’s true identity?

Orange Marmalade won the Best New Actor (Yeo Jin-Goo) and Popularity Actress Award (Seol-hyun) during the 2015 KBS Drama Awards.

2.Hey Ghost, Let’s Fight (2016)

Korean Webtoon 11
Watch the trailer here.

How do you get rid of a ghost? Use holy water, crucifix or long chanting? In this drama, the male lead character gets rid of ghosts using nothing but his fist.

Park Bong-pal (Ok Taec-yeon) uses his ability to see ghosts to banish ghosts.

When he is tasked to get rid of a ghost at a haunted high school, he comes across Kim Hyun-ji (Kim So-hyun) who became a wandering spirit due to a traffic accident.

With Hyun-ji, Bong-pal finds that he can fight even stronger ghosts. Together with two other Bong-pal’s collegemates, they form a ghost fighting team.

Sometimes scary, sometimes funny, the drama is overall entertaining to watch.

3.The Tale of Nokdu (2019)

Korean webtoon 9
Watch the trailer here.

Jeon Nok-du (Jang Dong-yoon) lives on an island with his father and older brother.

Since he was young, his father would never allow him to go to the mainland. He grows up becoming a good swordsman.

One day, his father and older brother are attacked by a group of female assassins.

To find out who and why his family was attached, Nok-du has to disguise himself as a woman to enter a mysterious women-only village.

There, he meets Dong Dong-ju (Kim So-hyun), a woman who refuses to become a kisaeng.

Based on the webtoon by Hye Jin-yang published in 2014, the drama was one of the most talked about Korean dramas in 2019.

4.What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim (2018)

Whats Wrong With Secretary Kim

What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim started first as a novel of the same title. Written by Jung Kyung-yoon, the novel was published in 2013.

Then in 2015, it was serialized into a webtoon via KakaoPage.

The drama adaptation of the webtoon takes place in 2016 with Park Seo-joon and Park Min-young in the starring roles.

What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim marks Min-young’s first romantic comedy role since her debut in 2005.

Meanwhile, Seo-joon’s performance in the drama gained positive reviews among the critics being dubbed the ‘master of romantic comedy’ by the Korean press.

The plot revolves around the ambitious and self-absorbed vice-chairman of a major corporation Lee Young-joon (Seo-joon). One day, his highly capable secretary of nine years Kim Mi-soo (Min-young) decides to resign from her job.

Will Young-joon let her go or will Mi-soo have a change of heart?

The drama is one of the highest-rated Korean dramas in cable television history.

5.Gangnam Beauty (2018)

Korean webtoon 8
Watch the trailer here.

At first glance, the drama is a basic campus romance story. Boy likes girl, girl keeps on rejecting boy and the girl finally realises that she likes the boy too.

However, its underlying theme of superficial beauty standards not only resonates in Korean society but the rest of the world.

The title of the webtoon and television series, Gangnam Beauty is actually a derogatory term in South Korea. It refers to those who are attractive but look as if they went through plastic surgery.

Im Soo-hyang’s portrayal of Kang Mi-rae, who decides to get plastic surgery after years of being bullied for her looks, is praise-worthy.

She starts being insecure even after her plastic surgery and slowly recovers her self-esteem throughout the drama.

Mi-rae also receives help from her collegemate, Do Kyung-seok (Cha Eun-woo) who look beyond her look.

Furthermore, the drama is able to portray rare themes in Korean series such as bulimia and discrimination based on physical looks in South Korea.

6.Save Me (2017)

Cults, violence, secret society, torture and even murder; this drama has them all.

Based on the popular Daum webtoon Out of the World by Jo Geum-san, the drama stars Ok Taec-yeon, Seo Ye-ji, Jo Sung-ha and Woo Do-hwan.

It centres around Im Sang-mi who moves from Seoul to Muji-gun, a suburban town with her family.

Sangmi’s brother, Sang-jin is bullied mercilessly at school pushing him to suicide.

The incident causes Sangmi’s to fall apart. Taking advantage of their state, the leader of a church called Goseonwon lures Sangmi’s into their community. Disguised as a peaceful church, Goseonwon is actually a religious cult.

Sang-mi becomes trapped until three years later, Sang-mi’s previous classmate Han Sang-hwan comes back to town.

Together with three friends, the group tries to expose the dark reality of the cult.

Watch Save Me’s trailer here.

7.Love Alarm (2019)

Korean webtoon 7
Watch Love Alarm’s trailer here.

What if we have an app that tells us there is someone we like within our vicinity? Would our love life be easier then?

The drama revolves around the story of a disruptive technology that enables users to discover love through an application. It notifies whether someone within the vicinity of a 10-meter radius has romantic feelings for them.

Based on the Daum webtoon of the same name, it stars Kim So-hyun, Jung Ga-ram and Song Kang.

Chon Kye-young, the webtoon author, is one of South Korea’s most popular graphic novelists.

The plot circles around Kim Jo-jo, a high school student who is having a hard life after the deaths of her parents.

Her high school life gets complicated when two boys, popular kid in school Hwang Sun-oh and his best friend Lee Hye-young start to pay attention to her.

A commercial success, Love Alarm (2019) was one of Netflix’s top releases in 2019.

8.Extraordinary You (2019)

Korean webtoon 6

Speaking of high school drama, Extraordinary You has almost all the things a high school drama needs; humour, romance, suspense and a little dose of fantasy.

The series follows high school girl Eun Dan-oh (Kim Hye-yoon) who is a student at a prestigious academy.

Things turn upside down for her when she find out that the world she lives in is a fantasy world of comics.

Dan-oh and everyone around her are just characters in a comic book entitled ‘Secret’.

She later finds out that she is just a supporting character in the comic and is expected to die soon.

What happen when Dan-oh decide to go against the writer’s storyline and create her own destiny? Will it work or will the plan backfires?

On top of that, who else beside Dan-oh are aware of that they are just characters in a comic book?

Based on the webtoon July Found by Chance, the drama stars Kim Hye-yoon, Rowoon, Lee Jae-wook and Lee Na-eun.

9.Tale of Fairy (2018)

Tale of Fairy is a popular webtoon by Dol Bae published via Naver Webtoon in 2017.

In 2018, it was adapted into a drama starring Moon Chae-won, Yoon Hyun-min, Seo Ji-hoon, Jeon Soo-jin and Kang Mi-na.

It revolves around a 669-year-old who has lived since the Goryeo dynasty. In this modern time, she works as a barista and has a special ability to talk to plants.

The plot starts to climax when she meets two potential reincarnations of her former husband.

Watch the trailer here.

10.A Girl Who Sees Smells (2015)

After the murder of his sister by the ‘Barcode’ serial killer, Choi Moo-gak (Park Yoo-chun) is determined to become a police inspector and solve her case.

Meanwhile, Oh Cho-rim (Shin Se-kyung) witnesses the murder of her parents,becoming the sole witness of the Barcode serial murders.

However, both of them are traumatised in their own ways after the murders.

Moo-gak becomes unable to smell or taste while Cho-rim acquires a strange ability of being able to see smells as patterns in the air.

Together, they both work to solve the series of the Barcode murders.
It is adapted from the KTOON webtoon of the same title by Seo Soo-kyung.

11.Itaewon Class (2020)

Korean webtoon 4

This webtoon adaptation tells the story of ex-convict Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo-joon) whose life has been turned upside down after he gets expelled from school for punching a bully and his father is killed in an accident.

Following his father’s steps, he opens his bar-restaurant DanBam (Sweet Night) in Itaewon.

Alongside his manager, Jo Yi-seo (Kim Da-Mi) and his staff, he aims for success while battling against a food conglomerate, Jangga Group.

Currently, Itaewon Class is the seventh highest rated drama in Korean cable television history.

It is based on the webtoon of the same name published on Daum.

Watch the trailer here.

12.Strangers from Hell (2019)

Korean webtoon 3

If it is broadcast on OCN, you know it would be a good, chilling thriller.

Also known as Hell is Other People, it follows Yoon Jong-woo (Im Si-wan) who moves to Seoul after landing an internship.

While looking for accommodation, he stumbles upon Eden Studio. It looks ominous but it is a cheap dormitory.

Jong-woo decides to stay because he is low in money.

What happen when things start to get weird in the dormitory?

It adapted from the Naver webtoon of the same name by Kim Yong-ki.

Watch the trailer here.

13.Memorist (2020)

Korean webtoon 2

Based on the Daum webtoon of the same name by Jae Hoo published on 2016-2018, this crime drama stars Yoo Seung-ho, Lee Se-young and Jo Sung-ha.

It follows Dong Baek who uses his power to read people’s memories to solve crimes as a detective.

Together with criminal profiler Han Sun-mi, they team up to stop a serial killer. In a classic Korean drama’s turn of events, their pasts begins to unravel as the murders start to escalate.

Watch Memorist’ trailer here.

14.Pegasus Market (2019)

Moon Suk-goo (Lee Dong-hwi) works as a manager at Cheonrima Mart, which belongs to the Daema Group.

Cheonrima Mart’s future looks bleak as they don’t have many customers.

One day, Jung Bok-dong (Kim Byung-chul), who was an executive at Cheonrima Group, is demoted to the CEO position at Cheonrima Mart.

Suk-Goo begins to have hope that the store will experience a turnaround with the new CEO.

However, Bok-dong wants to destroy Cheonrima Mart to take revenge on the parent company for his demotion.

Unexpectedly, Bok-dong’s actions soon causes the store to attract customers.

It is based on Kim Gyu-sam’s webtoon of the same name.

15.Method to Hate You (2019)

Korean webtoon 1
Watch this drama here.

If a campus romance drama is your thing, this is the drama for you.

Also known as How to Hate You, this web drama follows the dating adventure of a college freshman Oh Mi-ri.

It also stars Na Jae-min, Lee Jong-won and Kim Ji-in as Oh Mi-ri.

KajoPicks: 8 Korean dramas set during the Goryeo dynasty to watch

The Goryeo dynasty was a Korean kingdom which spanned the years 918 to 1392.

In the beginning, the once prosperous kingdom of Later Silla (one of the three kingdoms of Korea) ruled much of the Korean Peninsula since the late 7th century. Then the kingdom began to crumble in the late 9th century due to internal turmoil.

This caused the revival of ancient states of Baekje and Goguryeo which also known as Later Baekje and Later Goguryeo respectively.

From Later Goguryeo (also known as Taebong) came out a general named Wang Geon. In 918, four other top-ranked generals of Taebong; Hong Yu, Bae Hyeongyeong, Shin Sung-gyeom and Bok Ji-gyeom overthrew Taebong’s ruling king Gung Ye.

The generals then crowned Wang Geon as the king. After taking the name King Taejo, the new king renamed the kingdom Goryeo and begun the new Goryeo dynasty.

Subsequently, King Taejo peacefully annexed Later Silla in 935 and military conquered Later Baekje in 936. Hence, he successfully unified and ruled the Korean Peninsula under one ruling.

According to history, the Goryeo dynasty was a period of intense religious fervour. It was when everyone from the kings to the lowest subjects all were Buddhist.

The name “Korea” is derived from the name “Goryeo” which also spelled Koryo.

If you are looking for Korean dramas based on Goryeo dynasty, here are KajoMag’s suggestions:

1.Empress Cheonchu (2009)

This Korean period drama series is based on the granddaughter of Goryeo dynasty founder Taejo Wanggeon.

Known as Queen Heonae, she was the third Queen consort of King Gyeongjong of Goryeo who is also her first cousin.

The story plot circles around her desire to win back her son Mokjong from her brother Seongjong when he decides to have his nephew succeed him as ruler.

Seongjong believes she is not capable of raising him to become an Emperor. Plus, Seongjong and his wife do not have a child of their own.

Despite the conflict, Seongjong and his sister continue to work together to protect their country from invasion and internal power struggles.

Directed by Shin Chang-suk and Hwang In-hyuk, the drama stars Chae Shi-ra, Kim Suk-hoon and Choi Jae-sung.

2.Empress Ki (2013)

From 1270 to 1356, the Goryeo kingdom came under the Yuan dynasty of Mongol Empire. During this time, there were many intermarriages between Goryeo and Yuan dynasties.

Empress Ki was one of the primary empresses of Toghon Temur of the Yuan dynasty. She later became the mother of Emperor Zhaozong of Yuan.

Originally from an aristocratic family of Goryeo dynasty, she came to Yuan as an imperial concubine of Toghon Temur.

The drama Empress Ki (2013) revolves around a woman named Ki Seung Nyang (Ha Ji-won). It showcases how she slowly rises to power from a consort to Toghon Temur (Emperor of Mongol Empire) to become an empress of the Yuan dynasty.

If you love political dramas in the royal court with all the betrayal and framing, Empress Ki (2013) is definitely worth-watching.

It also stars Ji Chang-wook as Toghon Temur and Joo Jin-mo as Wang Yoo, the King of Goryeo.

The drama was a domestic and international hit, winning the Golden Bird Prize for Serial Drama at the 9th Seoul International Drama Awards.

Watch the trailer here.

3.God of War (2012)

The Goryeosa (History of Goryeo) is the main surviving history record of Korea’s Goryeo dynasty.

It was composed nearly a century after the fall of Goryeo, during the reign of King Sejong.

One of the historical figures written in it is Kim Jun. What makes Kim Jun interesting and different from other historical figures from Goryeo dynasty is that he is not of royal blood.

He is the son of an escaped palace slave who was raised by monks.

During the Mongol invasions of Korea, Kim Jun rises in the ranks to become the top military official.

He eventually becomes the ruler of Goryeo dynasty for 60 years in place of its king.

The drama God of War (2012) is based on the story of Kim Jun. It stars Kim Joo-hyuk as the real-life historical figure.

4.The Great Seer (2012)

Mok Ji-sang (Ji Sung) is a gifted seer who was born with the ability to see into people’s pasts and futures.

However, there are those who believe him to possess dark supernatural powers, thinking him possessed by ghosts.

As he grows up into adulthood in the late Goryeo era, he becomes a scholar of divination and fortune telling.

He eventually becomes a ‘king-maker’ who holds the key to a major political shift in the overthrow of Goryeo and the rise of Joseon dynasty.

The Great Seer (2012) is set during the turbulent decline of Goryeo when divination practitioners hold powers over the fate of the country.

5.Jeong Do-jeon (2014)

Jeong Do-jeon (1342-1398) is a real-life historical figure. He was a prominent Korean scholar-official during the late Goryeo to the early Joseon dynasty.

The drama focuses on the crucial role Do-jeon had in the planning and founding of Joseon dynasty.

Many critics hailed it as one of the most “authentic” and “realistic” Korean historical dramas.

The plot begins in 1374 during the final year of King Gongmin of Goryeo. At the time, the dynasty is marked with corruption and political chaos.

Then comes Do-jeon, a politician and aristocrat who helps Yi Seong-gye (later King Taejo) to establish a new dynasty, Joseon.

Starring Cho Jae-hyun and Yoo Dong-geun, the series won the Grand Prize (Daesang), Best Director and Best Writer at 41st Korea Broadcasting Awards.

Watch the trailer here.

6.The King in Love (2017)

Here is a fictional romance story based during the Goryeo dynasty. It tells the story of a young and ambitious monarch Won (Im Si-wan) and his childhood friend Wang Rin (Hong Jong-hyun) and a beautiful young woman named Eun San (Im Yoon-ah).

The three become best friends. Things start to change when both men fall in love with Eun San.

Even though Wang Rin is in love with Eun San, due to his duty to Won as his personal bodyguard and their friendship, he hides his feelings for her.

It is a romance melodrama stories about friendship, brotherhood and love.

The character Won is inspired by King Chungseon of Goryeo (1275-1325). He was the 28th king of the Goryeo dynasty. He was the eldest son of King Chungryeol and his queen from the Yuan royal family.

Watch the trailer here.

7.Shine or Go Crazy (2015)

Based on the novel of the same name by Hyun Go-woon, this is a drama about romance between Goryeo prince and a Balhae princess.

The Goryeo prince is a real-life prince named Wang So. In this drama, he is exiled from the palace and shunned by the royal family because there is a prophecy which foretells that he will turn the country into a river of blood. After his loses his right to the throne, he lives an isolated life.

Meanwhile, Shin Yool is the princess of Later Balhae (927-1030/1064). This ancient state in Manchuria emerged after Balhae was destroyed by the Liao Empire.

In the series, she narrowly escaped death as child at the hand of her own people because of a prophecy. The prophecy states that she will become “the light of another nation.”

Somehow, Wang So and Shin Yool are married and begin to fall in love with each other. How do they cope with their marriage and will Wang So claim his place on the throne?

Watch the trailer here.

8.Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016)

Here is another drama based on Wang So who later became Gwanjong the fourth King of Goryeo.

A 25-year-old 21st-century woman, Go Ha-jin (Lee Ji-eun), is transported back in time to the Goryeo dynasty.

She wakes up in the year of 941 in the body of Hae Soo, among the many royal princes of the ruling Wang family. She initially falls in love with the gentle and warm-hearted eighth Prince Wang Wook (Kang Ha-neul).

Then, her heart turns to Wang So (Lee Joon-gi), the fearsome fourth Prince who hides his face behind a mask and is given the derogatory label of “wolf dog.”

As the plots unfolds, Hae Soo finds herself unwittingly caught between the rivalry and politics among the princes over the fight for the throne.

In the midst of the political struggle among the princes to fight for the throne, it is about family, love and brotherhood.

Goryeo dynasty
Scarlet Heart Ryeo promotional poster. Watch the trailer here.

10 things behind the scenes of Korean dramas you might not know

More popularly known as K-dramas, Korean dramas are television series produced in South Korea.

Due to the spread of Hallyu (literally means Korean Wave), Korean dramas have become a popular source of entertainment worldwide.

How did the term Hallyu first come about? According to Korean Culture and Information Service South Korea, Hallyu is a term that was first coined in China by Beijing Journalists in the mid-1990s.

It was used to describe the fast-growing popularity of Korean entertainment and culture in that country.

The first Korean television series which opened the path for the rest of the dramas to global recognition is none other than Winter Sonata (2002).

It is widely considered to be the Korean drama that launched the K-dramas not only in Asia but also worldwide.

Starring Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo, it is the second part of the season-themed Endless Love series directed by Yoon Seok-ho.

The drama has all the basic elements of a successful TV drama; good-looking lead actor and actress, beautiful scenery and romantic plot circling around love and death.

On top of it, there is the melancholy music of the soundtrack to complement the storyline.

In South Korea, dramas appear on these public networks; Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS), Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) and Munhwa Broadcasting (MBC). Besides, the cable channels include Joongang Tongyang Broadcasting Company (JTBC), Channel A, tvN and Orion Cinema Network (OCN).

Each of these broadcasting companies has its own distinct thing they are known for when it comes to Korean dramas.

For instance, OCN is known for its thriller dramas such as Voice (2017), Tunnel (2017) and Special Affairs TEN (2011).

Viewers can always expect the best from tvN. As of April 2020, it holds 33 spots of the 60 on the list of highest-rated Korean television series in cable networks.

These include Crash Landing on You (2020), Reply 1988 (2016), Hotel Del Luna (2019) and Goblin (2017).

If you are a big fan of K-dramas, here are 10 things you might not know about what goes behind the scenes of Korean dramas:

1.How Korean dramas are produced

In the beginning, these television channels originally produced in-house Korean series by themselves.

However, since the 2000s, it has been outsourced to independent companies.

With that, the production cost is split between the production company and the broadcasting channels. The broadcasting channels usually cover around 50 per cent of the expenses.

Most of the expenses go to paying the top actors and actress who are starring in the dramas. Their salaries alone could take up as much as 55% (sometimes more) of the budget.

After that the rest of the budget goes to the salaries of the less-famous actors, extras, staff and overall production.

2.The amount of PPL in a Korea drama

What if there is not enough money to cover the budget of producing your Korean drama? That is when PPL comes in. PPL or product placement is a form of advertising by displaying the brand names and corporate logos of product in the drama.

According to Youjeong Oh in Pop City: Korean Popular Culture and the Selling of Place, the Korean drama industry only began to use PPL in 2000.

The Integrated Broadcasting Act became effective in 2000. It stipulates that any broadcasting business operator may announce a commercial sponsor, who provides costs, gift, a location, costumes, vignettes, information. Under this law, the direct displays of brand names or corporate logos in the middle of a show was totally prohibited.

Then in January 2010, the Korean Communications Commission eased the regulations regarding PPL.

Under the new law, Korean dramas were allowed to display brand names and corporate logos.

Since then, we have seen perhaps too many PPLs in a Korean television series. It is ridiculous yet commendable on how skillful to see these actors casually showcasing the advertisers’ brand names, like how they are able to showcase the brand name whenever they gulping from a bottle.

There are so many Korean series slammed for their PPLs because they mostly have nothing to do with the storyline and are distracting.

Meanwhile, there are cases of actors and actresses who turned down sponsorships in a drama to stay true to their characters.

For example ,Park Bo-young in Strong Woman Do Bong Soon rejected offers from luxury clothing brands. Her character is supposed to be middle-income and doing a lot of action scenes. It would be ridiculous to see her in high-end dresses.

3.How the actors are paid

It is interesting to know how these actors and actresses are paid. One thing for sure, every cast is paid different from the other depending on their experience and popularity.

Actor Park Jun-gyu revealed in Korean talk show Happy Together, “You get paid for each episode. It doesn’t matter if you shoot 10 cuts or 50 cuts, you get paid the same amount. But some actors only appear in photos, they are not actually acting in the drama. In that case, if it is someone who is well-known, the actor gets half of the amount of their pay. When you appear as a dead person and you are covered in white cloth, you get half of the amount. However if your face appeared as the dead body, then you get paid the full amount of an episode.”

Moreover if the actor appeared again in flashback scenes even when the character is already dead, then they get paid 30-40% of their pay of an episode. For narration, the actor would get paid up to 30% of their pay per episode.

Lee Byung-hun in Mr Sunshine (2018) reportedly made USD4.3 million with USD180,000 per episode.

In 2017, Lee Jong-suk and Lee Seung-ki were both paid roughly USD110,000 per episode for While You Were Sleeping and A Korean Odyssey respectively.

Meanwhile, according to Glassdoor, a producer in South Korea could earn around USD60,000 in average per year.

4.The ridiculous amount of time to shoot a drama

Unlike other television series out there, the first four episodes of Korean series are usually shot in advance.

Then, the rest of the episodes are shot continuously while the series is being aired. Hence, the storyline could change according to ratings and the viewers’ receptions.

There are cases where the crew would be still shooting or editing the episode while the episode is being broadcast.

An example is actor Kwon Sang-woo was still shooting Queen of Ambition (2013) 30 minutes before the last episode began to air.

As the production cost is high, the production companies seek to shoot the episode in the shortest time possible.

Due to this, Korean drama production usually adheres to tight shooting schedules and unfinished scripts. Most cast and crew only have one hour to sleep when filming.

The filming of these live-shoot dramas do get postponed mainly because unavoidable causes such as health issues and accidents.

However in rare cases, there are occurrences in which the cast leaves abruptly during the production.

In 2011, Han Ye-seul was cast as the main actress in Spy Myung-wol. She plays a North Korean spy who infiltrates the South to kidnap a popular actor, only to end up falling in love with him.

Following a dispute with director Hwang In-hyuk over her working conditions, she did not show up for filming on Aug 14-15, 2011. She then flew to thr United States on Aug 16. During her absence, an episode was canceled. Instead, KBS aired a special featuring highlights of the series.

While most people criticised her action, some fans defended her saying that stressful Korean drama live-shoot system was at fault.

5.The pre-production of Korean dramas

Since late 2015, production companies started to pitch and pre-sell the overseas broadcast and streaming rights of their dramas.

This allows the production company to have enough budget for the drama and they could complete shooting before it is broadcast.

Descendants of the Sun (2016) is an example of a successful pre-production of a Korean drama.

It managed it to secure investment and distribution at the same time allowing the drama to air simultaneously in China, bringing in more profits.

However, not all pre-produced dramas are successful. Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth (2016) and Uncontrollably Fond (2016) are some of the pre-produced dramas which suffered in low ratings.

6.Korean dramas written by famous screenwriters usually gain more hype

In American television series, there could be more than one screenwriter in-charge of the scripts and they are changeable throughout the season. Meanwhile in Korean series, it is usually written by one or one team of scriptwriters right until the last episode.

Korean drama screenwriters have better recognition and higher salary compared to Korean cinema.

Some of the famous scriptwriters are Hong Sisters, Kim Eun-sook and Noh Hee-kyung.

Hong Sisters are famous for Hotel Del Luna (2019) and Master’s Sun (2013). Kim Eun-sook is widely known for Secret Garden (2010), Goblin (2016) and The Heirs (2013).

These scriptwriters tend to have a say in their field including who to cast in their drama.

Hotel Del Luna
Hotel Del Luna poster.

7.The original soundtrack is like an album on its own

What makes these Korean dramas so addictive to watch is also the soundtrack.

Unlike in American series, Korean original soundtracks (OST) are specifically made for each series. It is crucial to choose the perfect OST for each scene in a drama to maximise the viewers’ emotion.

The combination of these soundtracks of one drama could be a chart-topping album on its own.

Sometimes, the actors themselves record songs for the dramas they acted in.

For instances are Kim Hyun-joong in Boys over Flowers (2009) and IU in Dream High (2011).

8.The rise of Korean web series

A typical Korean drama has 16 to 20 episodes. For Korean historical or family drama, the number of episodes could go up to 200 episodes.

Over the years, there has been a new rage over web dramas or web series especially among younger audience.

Unlike the conventional Korean drama in which the story could be dragged on, web dramas have more fast-paced storylines. It consists about 10 episodes with around 10 minutes per episode.

It is perfect for those who are looking for quick fix of Korean drama.

The cast consists of younger actors, giving them a chance to showcase their talents.

9.The adaptation of webtoon into Korean dramas

While the Japanese have their adaptations of manga or anime into dramas, the Korean have their webtoon which is a type of digital comic.

Unlike conventional comic books, each episode of a webtoon is published on one long vertical strip rather than in multiple pages. This is to make it easier to read on smartphone or computer.

Over the years, there are more webtoon getting their real-life adaptations into Korean dramas.

What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim (2018), Gangnam Beauty (2018) and Itawon Class (2020) are among the famous adaptations of Korean webtoons.

Whats Wrong With Secretary Kim
What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim poster.

10.Exploitation of labour

On Oct 26, 2016, an assistant producer for Korean drama Drinking Solo (2016) took his own life. Six months after his death, his brother revealed his suicide note to shed some light on the circumstances surrounding his demise.

He wrote, “The phrase ‘exploitation of labour’, which the staff on set would say half jokingly and half seriously, dug a hole in my heart. We were forced to push the already tired workers into creating the results that the company wanted.”

Korean actor Gong Yoo also revealed the sad truth behind Korean dramas to Strait Times. He said, “A lot of the staff cannot sleep or rest well. They film from morning to night and if some voices and sounds cannot be captured, they have to go back to the recording studio. They can rest only after the recording is done.”

It is highly likely that the Korean entertainment industry will completely forego the live-shoot system.

First of all, it is hard to gain budget for pre-production dramas. Moreover, there is uncertainty of how well the drama would be received by viewers.

Many have argued that Korean leading actors and actress should be paid less in order to give more for the staff or hire more crews in lessen the workload.

KajoPicks: 10 Chinese campus romance dramas to watch

Admit it; any youth or coming-of-age drama is better when the producer throws some campus romance into the storyline.

If you are looking for Chinese campus romance dramas to watch, here are 10 of KajoMag’s suggestions:

1.Your Highness, The Class Monitor (2019)

Su Nian Nian (Xing Fei) wants to go to top universities in big cities like Beijing University and Tsinghua University. But due to an accident on her way to university admission examination, she fails to enter the university she wanted.

She has to settle for a predominantly male engineering university. Things get complicated around her after she is appointed as the class monitor and come across Gu Zi Chen (Niu Jun Feng). Nian Nian strongly believes Zi Chen is the one who caused her accident. After constant bickering and getting on each others’ nerves, they eventually fall in love.

Basically, the campus romance in this drama is a love-hate relationship. Plus, there is a lot of push-pulls that at one point gets tiring to watch.

Putting aside the love story, the drama touches on some relatable themes, like how women need to work harder to prove themselves when choosing a career dominated by men. Or how some fields like engineering are gender-stereotyped, and can only be pursued by the male species.

2.Put Your Head on My Shoulder (2019)

Starring Xing Fei and Lin Yi, this drama is based on Zhao Qianqian’s novel of the same name.

It circles around Situ Mo (Xing Fei), an accounting student who wants to work in the advertising industry.

As she tries to find her place in the world, circumstances put her to live in the same house with physics student Gu Weiyi (Lin Yi).

Though the drama marks Gu Weiyi’s television debut, his performance as an uptight, rigid science student is rather impressive.

Meanwhile, Xing Fei is definitely in her ‘zone’ as she takes another lead role in a Chinese campus romance drama. But we do hope that she will take more versatile roles in the future.

3.Love 020 (2016)

This campus romance story is between a senior and a junior student of computer science. Bei Weiwei (Zheng Shuang) the brain with the beauty of the computer science department, while her senior Xiao Nai (Yang Yang) is the cream of the crop in sports and academics. Together, they make the A-list couple of their university.

What makes this pair different from most couples in campus romance dramas is that there is no relationship drama between them.

There is no over-the-top jealousy fights, no crying over insecurities and no dramatic disapproved parent.

On top of this, the drama highlights the work that goes behind the scenes in the game development industry.

Watch the drama here on Youtube.

4.Stand By Me (2016)

Not every group of high school friends is lucky enough to continue studying together in the same university. This group of friends in Stand By Me (2016) is one of the few.

Lu Qiao (Wu Ye Ze), Zhong Bai (Xu Xiao Lu), and Ren Yi Fan (Yu Xiang) are close high school friends.

They meet new friends as they begin their college life at the same university.

Things should not get complicated when Lu Qiao falls in love with a new classmate.

However, they dk because Zhong Bai has had a crush on him since, like, forever. Hence, Ren Yi Fan has to step in to mediate between the two.

Oh well, what is a campus romance drama without a love triangle?

5.Proud of Love (2016)

Here is a campus romance drama with a dose of fantasy! Shen Xi is a dance major student who has a sweet, caring boyfriend named Lin Yu Tang.

Everything is normal until she swaps souls with an engineering student He Zhi Zhou from a nearby university.

So you have an engineering student stuck in a dancer’s body and a dancer caught in the life of an engineering student.

If you are into hilarious, manga-like drama, then this series is for you.

6.Beyond Light Years (2018)

Computer science or specifically game development has become the trendy course for many male leads in campus romance dramas over the years.

Meanwhile, the female lead is usually pursuing an artsy kind of course.

In this drama, the male lead is a computing major named Li Yu Chen who is cold but extremely intelligent (why are we not surprised?).

In the meantime, the leading female is Xia Xiao Ci who is bubbly and passionate about reading and writing.

Clearly, the two leading characters’ personalities clashes. Will they finally be together in the end or will continue to drift apart especially after graduating?

Watch the trailer here.

7.Where the Lost Ones Go (2017)

First of all, let us praise the cinematography of this drama. It is aptly artistically beautiful as the revolves around two art students.

Ye Zi is a major in Chinese art painting while Xiang Zei Yi majors in oil painting.

They engage ina whirlwind campus romance until Xiang Ze Yi leaves without a word.

So what happen when Xiang Zei Yi comes back into Ye Zi’s life years later? Will she pick up the pieces and forgive her first love?

Watch the trailer here.

8.One and Half Summer (2014)

For K-pop fans, this is the Chinese campus romance drama that you need to watch. It stars Nickhun, a Thai member of K-pop group 2PM.

But wait, since when did Nickhun speak Mandarin? He doesn’t, somebody else does a voice over for his character.

Nickhun plays Zhang Hao, a Chinese American who come to China from New York just to find a mysterious woman whom he meets during a vacation in Greece.

Then, he meets her at Nanyang University where the two subsequently fall in love with one another.

Watch the trailer here.

9.My Sunshine (2015)

When two college sweethearts meet each other again seven years after they broke up, will they rekindle their old flame?

The drama starts with a predictable storyline; a girl falls in love at first sight with a boy on campus. They date and a third party comes into the picture to ruin their love.

In a classic romance drama move, the girl gets upset so she moves to another country.

If only real people like us have that luxury to move to another country every time our hearts get broken.

Watch the trailer here.

10.Suddenly This Summer (2018)

This slice-of-life drama feels realistic and somehow relatable to most of us. The 30-episode series divides into 10 episodes during high school time, 10 episodes at campus and the last 10 with the characters in adulthood.

Unlike the campus romances on this list, the couple ends up going to different universities in two different cities because that is the reality for some us who date during university. You juggle between your campus life and a long distance relationship.

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Watch Outlander

(Picture source: Starz.com)

If you are obsessed with Game of Thrones (GoT), then you would love Outlander. Based on a book series by Diana Gabaldon, we follow the story of a WW2 combat nurse who, through the magic of some time portal stones in the Scottish countryside, finds herself transported back in time to Scotland in 1743.

From its story line, cinematography and characters, here are the top 10 reasons why you should watch Outlander.

 

1. Claire Fraser

Claire Fraser played by Caitriona Balfe (Picture source: Starz.com)

Claire Fraser (played by the flawless Caitriona Balfe) is definitely Kajo girl-material.

As one of the main protagonist in the series, she is a combat nurse from 1940s England.

As a woman ahead of her own time, she fiercely values her own independence and freedom.

Even in tough times, she stubbornly refuses to be part of any patriarchal social system or take orders blindly without questioning them.

However, there are a few times in the series where her need to make a stand (usually at the wrong time) can make you grab your hair in frustration because it usually gets her in trouble.

2. Jamie Fraser

Jamie Fraser played by Sam Hueghan (Picture source: Starz.com)

Just watching Jamie Fraser (played by Sam Heughan)  is enough to turn anybody into a fictiophilia.

If you’re wondering how to pronounce Sam’s last name, in a 2013 Facebook post where Outlander author Diana Gabaldon first announces Heughan as Jamie Fraser, she relates how she asked him to pronounce his last name: “HEW-an is good or if you can, insert the Scottish throat clearing/spitting sound in the middle… HewCH-an. Hard to get right first time without spraying close friends with saliva.”

3. Time traveling factor

Claire travel back in time to the 1700s Scotland (Picture source: Starz.com)

While on a second-honeymoon in Scotland with her husband Frank Randall (played by honey-voiced Tobias Menzies), Claire accidentally time travels to the 1700s through a circle of standing stones.

In her confusion, there she first bumps into Jonathan ‘Jack Black’ Randall, a mirror-image of her husband Frank. (If you’ve been paying attention from the beginning of the episode, you’ll find out how they’re related.) Eventually, she will bump into Jamie Fraser’s clan, and she will eventually learn of the Highlander struggle for Scottish independence from the English.

If you think that Outlander is going to be one of those typical time travel stories where either one of them has to follow the other to the future or stay back in the past, you’re almost right.

4. The unnecessarily attractive cast of Outlander

Is it necessary that they all have to be attractive?

Apart from our favourite couple Jamie and Claire, the cast of Outlander look more like runway models.

While most of them might be covered in dirt, blood, sweat and tears, they are still insanely gorgeous at the same time.

It is also unfair that Jamie and Claire have an unnecessarily attractive daughter as well (oops….spoiler alert).

5. The many Vogue-worthy moments (mainly Claire’s wardrobe)

While the clothes from the 1700s in Europe look suffocating and heavy, that does not mean they have to be unfashionable.

From season 1, Claire’s outfits have been eyecatching and praise-worthy. However, the stakes in fashion really got an upgrade in Outlander when they moved to France.

6. The books by Diana Gabaldon are still ongoing!

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The Outlander series has eight books (Picture source: Pixabay)

Outlander is the same as GoT in that the series is based on a series of books.

First started by Diana Gabaldon as a personal project on what it took to write a novel, today the Outlander series have spanned  eight books… and two decades. The first one was published in 1991, and the latest, Written in my own heart’s blood, in 2014.

Like GoT, the series is yet to be completed, with the ninth one – Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone – forthcoming and fans are dying to know what happens next.

7. Scotland: A holiday-mode destination

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Scotland (Picture source: Pixabay)

Taking place in historical Scotland, the series were shot in numerous places such as the Doune Castle, Stirling; East Linton, East Lothian, Newtonmre in the Scottish Highland, Rothiemurchus Forest; Bathgate; West Lothian and Aberfoyle, Stirling.

While watching Outlander, one can’t resist but think of it as a traveling channel as you might find yourself unintentionally planning an imaginary vacation to Scotland.

8. Stay for the history

Jamie and Jack Randall during the Battle of Culloden (Picture source: Starz.com)

While the characters may be fictional, some of the plot lines in the series are based on real events and sometimes refer to real people throughout history.

In the final episode of Season 2, the storyline is set in the time of the Battle of Culloden which took place in April 16th, 1746.

9. Plenty of time to catch up

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Something to binge-watch (Picture source: Pixabay)

As of now, Outlander has produced three seasons with 16 episodes in Season 1 and 13 episodes for both Season 2 and 3 respectively.

So if you are planning to watch the latest season, you have plenty of time to catch up.

Apart from that, the straightforward and uncomplicated plot line makes it easy for fans to process and digest.

10. Outlander has been renewed for two more seasons!

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

According to some reports, Outlander has been given a two-season renewal, taking the series into six seasons.

Season 4 of Outlander is set to air sometime in November this year.  The latest season is said to be based on Diana Gabaldon’s fourth book, Drums of Autumn.

To know more, click here.