Foreign Friday

Foreign Friday: Let’s Eat!

IMG_0305Korean dramas are super popular right now.  I can’t pinpoint the population with which they are popular… probably people like me that watch foreign language television?  Anyway, I’ve been hearing a lot about Korean shows and the title of this one enticed me to give it a try.  Well, the title and the teaser: what do four foodies and a murder have in common?

Let me just say, I’m absolutely loving Let’s Eat!  I identify with the main character so much.  The constant food imagery, the way they paint the lifestyle of a single woman living alone, and the hints of the murder mystery makes this basically the perfect show for me.

jungyooyeon-singledaysLee Soo Kyung is a 33-year-old divorced woman living alone.  Everyone makes a huge deal about this.  Soo Kyung doesn’t let the pressure to get remarried bother her and manages to live a very pleasant life privately.  She likes to watch “American dramas” like The Walking Dead, and mainly keeps the company of her dog, whose name is Che Guevara (“Bara” for short). What Soo Kyung really loves is eating.  Every episode has a sequence of Soo Kyung eating indulgently, almost orgasmically.  Eating delicious food is truly her passion.

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Soo Kyung is perfectly capable of doing things by herself, but struggles with eating alone.  I feel this struggle.  Restaurants alone are hard, and some portions are simply too much for one person.  Soo Kyung prefers to be alone, but when a dinner offer is made she just can’t resist.  She is obsessed with a food blog and works at a small law firm as the chief secretary.  The series starts with Soo Kyung coming home to learn her next door neighbor, another woman living alone, has died after choking on her dinner.

319653Koo Dae Young, Soo Kyung’s sketchy neighbor is a definite foodie as well.  His apartment is barely furnished and he sleeps on the floor with a blanket and pillow.  Soo Kyung doesn’t trust him and calls him a con artist type.  He knows a lot of information about people, but is generally good-natured.  He is later revealed to be an insurance agent, but there’s still something a little off about him.  I have a hunch that he’s the food blogger Soo Kyung is so into.  When it comes time to eat, Dae Young always instructs on the best way to enjoy what’s about to be consumed.  This usually leads to someone saying something like, “but all pizza is the same!”  Dae Young will then launch into and elegant diatribe about the food at hand.  He is admired by Soo Kyung’s spinster coworker, Attorney Oh, as well as Jin Yi.

Let's_Eat_OST_Part_4Yoon Jin Yi is a young, student-aged girl who moves into the apartment the woman had died in.  Jin Yi comes from a rich family, but is temporarily on her own making ends meet.  Her father has gone to prison (I don’t remember why, but it’s not a violent crime, something white collar) and her mother, in shock, has moved to America with her brother, Jin Yi’s uncle, to get through the difficult time.  Jin Yi is a very optimistic girl who doesn’t feel the gravity of her situation.  She is very naive about finances, having never had to think about supporting herself before.  She befriends Dae Young and Soo Kyung and really brings them together as a group.  She also receives advice from Soo Kyung’s friend Kyung Mi.

327424Kim Hak Moon is the lawyer and owner of the law firm for which Soo Kyung works. It is revealed that they are alumni of the same college.  While Soo Kyung doesn’t remember Hak Moon, he had a huge crush on her because she was beautiful and sought-after.  Lawyer Kim, as he’s called by his staff, on the other hand, was a total nerd in school so Soo Kyung never noticed him.  He hired her and seems to be working on some kind of revenge now that he’s successful and sexy.  (I’m totally into Lawyer Kim.)  He seems to derive genuine enjoyment from watching Soo Kyung eat, and can get a little flustered because of how sexual it can seem.

I’m on my fifth episode and the “foodie club” has just been formed.  Right now, it’s just Soo Kyung, Dae Young, and Jin Yi.  Lawyer Kim has not met Jin Yi, but it seems that he is the fourth member of this group.

In the meantime, the neighborhood in which Soo Kyung, Dae Young, and Jin Yi live is being stalked by a murderer who hits women over the head from behind with a blunt object.  The murders so far are not central to the plot.  Let’s Eat pretty much exemplifies the term “food porn.”

The story really revolves around Soo Kyung and her relationships– especially her relationship with food!  I totally need a foodie club like this.  Who’s in?!

From what I can tell (because I don’t speak Korean), there are 16 episodes so far of Let’s Eat.  Twelve of them are available on Viki.com and the English translations have been great!  I 100% recommend checking out this show!

PS: I’m also obsessed with Let’s Eat’s perfect theme song.

Foreign Friday: Ipartment

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Now that Top Chef season 11 is sadly over, I have no more recaps for you.  Instead, today is Foreign Friday!  I love languages, and although I only fully understand English, I’ve never let a little language-barrier stop me from enjoying TV!  Most of the foreign TV I watch is English language, either British, Australian, or Canadian.  I’ve enjoyed many a Japanese show, both live action and anime, so I’m used to hearing that.  I’ve studied French and Italian, so romance languages don’t sound foreign to my ear.  This time, however, I tried something completely different: Chinese.

I stumbled upon Ipartment when searching for Friends— allegations that this Chinese sitcom ripped off Friends and various other American shows are all over the internet.  As an avid Friends fan myself, I was intrigued.  I initially pronounced it “ip-partment” (as in chip, minus the ch), but wikipedia set me straight: it’s eye-partment, the i standing for “ai,” meaning love.  The Chinese name of this show is Ai Qing Gong Yu, which means Love Apartment.

When watching foreign television, you not only have to get used to the language, but also the cultural differences a show may portray.  Admittedly, I don’t know anything about Chinese culture.  I didn’t know what to expect.  As aforementioned, I’m used to Japanese shows so I modeled my expectations on this, assuming that the Asian cultures would share some elements.  Mostly, it felt very much like an American sitcom.  Ipartment is a fast-talking show, packed with comedic moments and pop-culture references that even an American can understand.

Ipartment is about 7 young people, 3 women and 4 men, who all live in the same apartment building in Shanghai.  The first episode features the wedding of a couple who met in the apartment building.  As a wedding gift, the building is renamed Love Apartment at their request.  All couples in love receive free water and electricity, and half off rent.  This of course leads to some deception for a good deal.  Here’s what I was able to understand about the characters:

Zhan Bo

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After studying computer science abroad, Zhan Bo returns to China.  (Wikipedia says he went to MIT— woo Boston!)  His sister, Yi Fei, already lived in Love Apartment and he moves in with her.  He meets Wan Yu on the bus and falls for her.  He’s a little socially awkward.

Wan Yu

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The daughter of a wealthy banker, Wan Yu ran away to avoid an arranged marriage.  She was supposed to go to music school in New York.  She’s pretty happy-go-lucky and that attitude seems to serve her well.  After meeting Zhan Bo on the bus, she moves in with him and his sister at Love Apartment.

Xiao Xian

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One of the only characters who lived in Love Apartment before the start of the show, Xiao Xian is the host of a late night radio show called “Your Moon, My Heart.”  He seems to just pop into the others’ apartments Kramer-style, which leads to many moments of comedy.

Yi Fei

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Zhan Bo’s older sister, Yi Fei is a PhD graduate who works at a university.  She is a very strong personality— forceful, competitive, and bossy.  She seems to be a meddler, thinking she knows the best recourse for many situations.  She’s the other Love Apartment resident who lived there prior to the show.

Zi Qiao

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Wikipedia calls him a “freelancer,” but he’s more of a swindler.  He shows up at the wedding in the first episode trying to sell his health supplement.  When the priest falls ill (he might have actually died?) in the bathroom, Zi Qiao takes over his duties to make a few bucks.  There’s a great moment of him pretending to speak English here.

Mei Jia

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Zi Qiao’s ex-girlfriend, Mei Jia also shows up to the wedding uninvited… looking to gorge on free food.  After hearing about the couple’s discount, she and Zi Qiao pretend to be a couple and move in together, despite their dislike of each other.  Mei Jia is a silly girl, who loves cute things and tends to scream with delight.  She falls for Guan Gu as soon as she sees him.

Guan Gu

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A Japanese man who is tricked by Mei Jia and Zi Qiao into moving in with them to share the burden of the rent, Guan Gu doesn’t show up until the second episode.  The fact that Chinese is not his first language is a source of humor in the show.  He is a manga artist, specifically the artist of Mei Jia’s favorite manga.  I dig Guan Gu, especially for the several Sailor Moon posters he hangs in his room, but his name bugs me— it definitely sounds Chinese and not Japanese.

I was only able to watch two episodes with subtitles, and I really wish I could keep on watching!  I started the third, but the subtitles dropped out after the first 10 minutes.  While you don’t have to understand every single word to enjoy the show, it simply isn’t feasible to keep watching with no idea what they’re saying.  Still, throughout the first two episodes, I laughed many times.  I’ll definitely scour Youtube to see if I can find more subbed episodes.  As for the allegations that Ipartment has ripped off American sitcoms… don’t all sitcoms do similar things?  I think it’s par for the course.

The two episodes I watched are on viki.com— I recommend checking them out!

Do you have any suggestions for my next Foreign Friday?  Let me know!