For this Throwback Thursday we are traveling back to 2015 when Vampires were one of the big trends. Come find out our thoughts on some of the classic Vampire trope dramas and see if they are worth taking a look.
Oh Korean vampires. How I want to love you, but so often you just miss the mark on being scary and/or romantic. It’s not that you don’t cast the best and hottest kactors out there, but more often than not, I end up rolling my eyes at their vampy antics. So with Halloween arriving soon and keeping in tune with our Halloween themed Kdrama and Kpop posts, let’s do some discussing of the greatest and most “meh” of the vampire genre.
– KMUSE’S DISCLAIMER –
While I have enjoyed several of the following dramas, I tend to have a problem with Korean vampires in general. I actually had a tiny bit of insomnia and contemplated this last night (yes I know I am a kaddict when I even think of kdramas in bed).
I think my biggest problem is that they are always trying to make the vampires, not be vampires (Orange Marmalade being the exception). Instead of the sexy bad boys that just need the right woman to change them into blood sucking pussycats, we get a lot of mopey and angsty men instead.
I want to feel the same way I felt about “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” where the bad guys were bad guys. Or “The Vampire Diaries” where Damon is a borderline psychopath.
However in Kdramas, we always start off with really nice guys who, under circumstances beyond their control, become vampires. Then they spend almost the whole time living under extreme angst over even trying human blood. They either starve as much as possible, drink animal blood as an alternative, or in one case, procure blood from a blood bank. Not one of them goes into nibble mode and takes a dance on the dark side. I think that this is going to continue to be one of those cultural things. Growing up westernized I like a certain type of vampire story. And due to the cultural beliefs in regards to death and evil that you find in most kdramas (they tend to be on the conservative side to bring in more viewers) you won’t get the redeemed killer very often. Which sadly means that bad boy killer vamps are never going to get the girl.
Synopsis: Innocent romance between adolescent vampire Luis who wants to find the fabled ‘vampire flower’ with help of a human girl he has fallen for. (MyDramaList)
KMUSE: I remember wanting to write a post about this way back when it came out. Sadly, I was on vacation with no access to my blog. By the time I got home the opportunity had passed and I had to put it on the back burner. So I am really excited to chat about it now! Also, for those of you who have not watched this webseries, look below for the link. It is a really fast watch with six episodes that clock in at just around an hour total.KMUSE: Yes I know that this one is a vampire themed cheese fest with mediocre actors and a thin plot. Think Disney Channel Halloween special, if you need a reference. Despite all that, I actually enjoyed it. The guys were pretty ( all members of the Kpop band A-Jax), the girl was decent, and the music was great (actually my favorite part and all done by A-Jax). All in all it was worth the watch. I just wish it had been a couple of hours longer to fill in some of the details that had to be dumped due to time.
Synopsis: Park Ji Sang is a doctor specializing in hepato-pancreato-biliary surgery in the best cancer research hospital in the country. He is also a vampire. Despite seeming cold and unfeeling, Ji Sang masks his soft heart and inner pain and yearns for closeness with people. He believes very strongly in the sanctity of human life, and suppresses his thirst for blood to treat terminally ill patients and save lives.
Among his colleagues is Yoo Ri Ta, a hotshot physician who entered medical school at the age of 17 and is also the niece of the chaebol group chairman who owns the hospital. Ri Ta is highly capable but snooty and prideful, yet Ji Sang finds himself falling for her. He also gets drawn into a conflict between good and evil as he encounters Lee Jae Wook, a two-faced hospital chief who gains everyone’s trust with his gentle demeanor, but inwardly harbors a dangerous ambition for power and a talent for cruelty. (MyDramaList)
KMUSE: This was just a sad mix of poor casting followed with bad directing. When it comes down to it, the story isn’t that horrible (except the ending which I hated) but the bad directing of rookie actor (Ahn Jae Hyeon) and casting a mediocre actress (Ku Hye Sun) was the death knell for this drama. Add in an over the top baddie vamp who has motivations that make absolutely no sense and this is easy to declare a train wreck. In my opinion, you shouldn’t even bother with this show and go check out one of the other dramas on our list.
JENNIE: I have to agree with Amber about this one. I never finished it because the plot was all over the place, but I really tried to like it. Neither of the actors were strong enough to portray what the story was really going for.
Scholar Who Walks the Night
Synopsis:Jo Yang Sun is the daughter of a nobleman whose family loses everything when her father is framed for treason. To make ends meet, Yang Sun begins cross-dressing as a male bookseller, and meets the handsome and mysterious scholar Kim Sung Yeol, who works at the Hongmungwan. Sung Yeol is a vampire, and he continues to be haunted by the long-ago death of his first love Lee Myung Hee, especially when he meets Myung Hee’s present-day look-alike Choi Hye Ryung, an aloof nobleman’s daughter. Meanwhile, the evil vampire Gwi resides in the royal palace and uses his powers and political machinations to prevent the Crown Prince from ascending the throne. ~~ Based on a hit manhwa by Jo Joo Hee and Han Seung Hee. (MyDramaList)
KMUSE: This is the perfect example of a Korean angsty good guy vampire. He goes around for 400 years trying his best to do what is right, but underneath it all he hates himself. Sure we get some sexy scenes between the two leads, but the constipated angst every other minute detracts from all the smexyness.
JENNIE: So much angst. The story was good until about episode fourteen. That was the point when they could go one of two ways: 1. Have the character be a noble idiot and basically kill himself every time the heroine was threatened, or 2. face the problem head on, even if means getting hurt. It was Kdrama, guess which road they took? (Hint: No problems were faced head on.)
KMUSE: I always laughed n the scenes where poor Lee Joon Ki looks so horrified at wanting to munch his girlfriend. Not to mention that none of the vampires could drink blood without having it dribble all over their faces. Do fangs automatically affect your hand eye coordination? Despite the blood and the buggy eyes, I was easily able to ignore the overacting because Lee Joon Ki in guyliner and hanbok is a thing of beauty.
JENNIE: I was really watching for their pretty faces and it hurt me every time they were covered with blood. Don’t worry folks, it only happened EVERY EPISODE. But seriously, get those boys some napkins.
KMUSE: I do think they had a missed opportunity with Lee Soo-Hyuk. He is the perfect example of a bad guy who could have been changed because of the love of a good girl. Sure he had a thing for eating his victims in odd places and killing everyone around him. But really he was just lonely. What’s a vampire supposed to do when no one wants to be his BFF?
JENNIE: The other thing about the vamps—Lee Joong Ki’s character spends so much time hating himself, I never believed he had room to love anyone else. Not to mention they built up the story-line with a first love that gets reincarnated, then they did nothing about it. I wouldn’t completely throw out the drama. The costumes were great and they had Lee Soo Hyuk. If you watch it, watch for the pretty, not the plot.
Synopsis: Set in a fantasy world where humans and vampires coexist, the latter have evolved and no longer rely on human blood as food. Still, they are feared and discriminated against by society, causing many of them to hide their true nature and live as “normal” citizens, or else become outcasts.
Baek Ma Ri is a socially withdrawn teenage girl hiding her vampire identity. Driven away from several neighborhoods, she is eager to settle down in her new city and live quietly. But things change when she falls in love with Jung Jae Min, the most popular boy at her high school. (MyDramaList)
KMUSE: I was so excited to watch this drama because I LOVED the webtoon. Little did I know that the screenwriters were going to take extreme liberties with the adaptation.
Turtle Maknae: So This is the only one I watched on this list and I completely forgot it was about vampires until like 30 seconds ago. I never read the webtoon so I saw this with fresh eyes. Also, dang Yeo Jin Goo, you have the voice of the gods and the face a baby, what the actually heck man.
JENNIE: I didn’t read the Webtoon either, but I might now that I’ve seen the drama. (This happened to me with Percy Jackson. I can appreciate the book and the movie as two separate lovely stories. Sometimes it pays to watch before you read.)
KMUSE: It was actually a good thing that I was recapping this drama because otherwise I might have dumped the show when they switched the cast into historical Joseon. This would have been a shame since the show actually did successfully connect the time travel into the narrative and ended up with a pretty solid drama.
Turtle Maknae: I was so confused when they jumped to the Joseon Era. I honestly stopped watching until someone told me that it would get better. I trusted them and it turned out pretty good. The tree thing was odd but it worked, so why not right?
JENNIE: The middle was sooo hard. It started off super chemistry charged, then it dropped the whole thing. Once again, I kept watching for the pretty, and I’m glad I did because it got wrapped up well.
KMUSE: The one downside is that the vampire aspect is almost a non focus. What the show is really promoting is acceptance and I feel that the story could have easily been done with different social castes, ethnicities, etc. The vampire thing is just chosen to show how societies need to accept each other. So in conclusion, watch for the story but don’t expect any scary vampire moments.
Turtle Maknae: Yeah, not scary at all, which I’m ok with, and the vampire bit really wasn’t necessary to get the message across. The whole Orange Marmalade band story thing was kind of a “In case you couldn’t tell what the show was about here’s a story so that you get it”. They really wanted to get the message across and it’s a good message. I liked the show. It wasn’t my favorite but it was entertaining. It doesn’t take much to entertain me though.
JENNIE: There was that one cool Vampire battle in Joseon era… but seriously, the boys in the drama were dreamy and the narrative ended up being a fantastic story even as it was sidetracked. Vampires were a good choice to portray the idea. Since I’m not huge on gory I thought it was done well.
Vampire Prosecutor 1 & 2
Synopsis: Prosecutor Min Tae Yeon is bitten by somebody and becomes a Vampire. Tae Yeon rejects the life of a vampire and he survives by drinking the blood of dead people and still lives as a righteous prosecutor. Tae Yeon also uses his new founded abilities as a Vampire to prosecute powerful persons normally thought above the law. A mysterious case then occurs and the evidence points to a Vampire as the perpetrator. Tae Yeon now knows that he is not the only Vampire. He also ponders why he became a Vampire and what truths may lie behind their motives. (MyDramaList)
KMUSE: I love Yun Jung Hoon when he goes all bad boy and blue eyed. Thankfully this happens constantly throughout the whole series. This character is also the closest to a westernized vampire that we are going to get in a kdrama. Sure he doesn’t drink from humans (he is a blood bank vamp) but his super strength and extremely stylish wardrobe yells alpha male to the nth degree. Sadly, we don’t get a lot of romance because of the whole no nibbling a human thing, but we get a lot of tension between our leads and crimes to solve so that helps distract from it.
Turtle Maknae: I tried this one when I first started watching Kdramas and couldn’t get into it. Maybe I should try again…
JENNIE: I haven’t watched this one, but that picture of Jung Hun is making me drool. If vampires=eyeliner, maybe we should have a few more of them hanging around. . .
So that is the sum total of vampire kdramas. Oddly enough, not as many as I would have guessed if you look at how crazy vampires were post “Twilight”. It will be interesting to see if this is a genre that will continue to grow and develop or whether it is just a flash in the pan and soon to be over. Guess only time will tell.
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi
*Originally published October 2015