Friday, December 11, 2009

TV: Lovers in Prague

The Korean drama has become wildly popular all around the world, and I watched my first one recently. If you've never seen one, think of the K-drama as a soap opera crossed with a miniseries. Most are over before twenty episodes, and K-dramas usually don't go on for decades and decades like American soaps. Despite their relative brevity, the combination of intricate love triangles, photogenic Korean performers, and melodramatic pop music just strikes a chord with people. I watched "Lovers in Prague," an archetypical K-drama from the people who brought you "Lovers in Paris":

"Lovers in Prague" follows Yoon Jae-hee, a round-faced diplomat who happens to be the daughter of the president of Korea. While working in Prague, Jae-hee runs into Choi Sang-hyun, a police detective who's visiting the city to look for his estranged girlfriend. Predictably, sparks fly between Jae-hee and Sang-hyun, though matters are complicated greatly when both of their ex-lovers show up in Prague, too. From there, it's a romantic battle for the heart of Jae-hee.

The premise is decent, at least at first. The initial episodes are shot in Prague, which is easily one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The background scenery does a lot to liven up the proceedings. This is also well before the principal characters, Jae-hee and Sang-hyun, acquire too much emotional inertia.

Unfortunately, the bulk of the series takes place in Seoul, ditching the wondrous bridges and castles of Prague for the boring monotony of Seoul office buildings. From there it starts to become tedious. Every single encounter between any of the main characters turns into an event where the involved characters freeze, stare at each other, and dramatic music plays. Even worse, there's some strange attraction field that ensures all the love triangle participants meet each other daily, even in a city of 25 million people.

Maybe I'm being too hard on "Lovers in Prague." I'm sure most K-dramas are like this, throwing out logic and plot for the sake of face-time with the actors looking weepy. It does make for some very maudlin montages:


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