8/10, on viki.com
Oh My Venus centers around the story of a lawyer named Kang Joo-eun (played by Shin Min-a) who was once a schoolgirl so pretty she was named the “Venus of Daegu” (Daegu being the name of the city she’s from). But now she’s all grown up and as the years passed, she’s gained a bit of weight. Her first and long-time love Im Woo-shik (played by Jung Gyu-woon) for the last 15 years, breaks up with her saying that they’ve become different people.
Kim Young-ho/ John Kim (So Ji-sub) is a personal trainer to Hollywood stars, and after becoming embroiled in a Hollywood scandal (scandalous maybe for Koreans, not for Americans) returns to Korea with Jang Joong Sung (Sung Hoon) a pro MMA fighter he’s been working with and Joong Sung’s manager Kim Ji-Woong (Henry Lau). A series of coincidences ends up having Young-ho “save” Joo-eun from a few situations, and before you know it, Young-ho is helping Joo-eun through her weightless journey and slowly falling in love with her.
Things I liked:
-The backstory use of Young-ho’s childhood cancer to ground his character. Young-ho’s not working out to look good, but out of a drive to be healthy out of a fear of cancer. As someone who spent much of his childhood in hospitals, he is someone who recognizes that that what someone looks like on the outside is not who they are in the inside. This makes his falling for the overweight Joo-eun more realistic.
-Joo-eun has a drive, determination and confidence that she never lost, even when she had picked up weight. Her motto is “I can do anything if I put my effort into it,” which doesn’t change even when she is overweight. It’s an attitude you often see in middle-school books about fearless girls, less so in adult women, but it’s so refreshing to see a female character who still keeps that attitude. Though the break up with Woo-shik is definitely a catalyst for embarking on a weight loss journey, it is not the primary reason that keeps pushing Joo-eun to keep going.
-Slowburn of Joo-eun and Young-ho’s romance actually felt realistic. They navigated issues by talking about them like adults. After their first kiss, Joo-eun is not sure what that means for their relationship as a Coach/Trainee. The next day is a kind of hazy status quo of them acting normally towards each other with a few flirtatious hints. This worked nicely because as a viewer, I got caught up in the will they/won’t they.
-Complex characters and relationships: There’s a point in the series where Joo-eun sits down with Woo-shik and talk about how at first her weight loss journey was originally motivated by their breakup, but became about recovering a part of her self, when she realized they had become different people. Woo-shik admits that he is a little jealous of her new relationship, even though he doesn’t want to get back together with her, you can’t just make 15 years of feelings vanish over night. There’s a complexity here in their relationship that isn’t just pure jealousy or regret, and it strikes me as being very realistic.
-Oh Soo-jin - the primary female antagonist, Joo-eun’s former friend from law school, now her boss, who is now dating Woo-shik. You want to hate her for her cutting remarks and nastiness, but underneath that is an extremely lonely and self-conscious girl who fears that she will never be truly loved.
-Young-ho’s found family with Joong Sung, and Ji-Woong. Young-ho really is like their father figure to them and they readily adopt Joo-eun into their circle. These guys man, if everyone had friends like these two, the world would be a better place.
Things I didn’t like [SPOILER SECTION BELOW]:
-The secondary romance with Jang Joong Sung and his famous female stalker. Yes, I know they’re trying to play it off as being ok because she’s pretty, but really? There was no chemistry and no actual romantic buildup to their relationship. It was basically let-me-follow-you-and-harass-you-until-you-like-me.
-When Joo-eun finds out that Young-ho is actually a chaebol heir (and a client of her firm), she freaks out and walks out of the corporate meeting they both find themselves in. He chases after and she confronts him about lying (even though it was more of a deception by omission). He says to her they haven’t exchanged promises or rings, so he doesn’t see why she’s running already. She admits that’s the case, but leaves to mope around for a day, even leaving Seoul to see her family in Daegu (a 3 hr drive from Seoul). He comes all the way to Daegu to see her that evening and she just runs to him. I know that’s a big gesture on his part, but I felt like it should have been bigger.
- Young-ho spends an ENTIRE year away from Joo-eun recovering from the car accident. Granted I get that seeing her in pain because of him would upset him more and yes, I know he needs to concentrate on rehabilitation and learning to walk again. But to not even read her texts? Or have a single phone call or email? And then to have Joo-eun not be just a little bit furious when he shows up again (especially after she chewed out Oh Soo-jin for ghosting her after law school).
- The whole backstory with Young-ho’s father, step-mom and step-mom’s uncle. I don’t understand why step-mom’s uncle would suddenly get it into his head that killing Young-ho would be the way to grab control of the company. That sub-plot kind of came out of nowhere for me.
Having just previously watched the ugly ducking themed sitcom, She Was Pretty, which had far fewer plot issues, Oh My Venus suffered in comparison.
Still overall, I enjoyed Oh My Venus and I am glad I watched it. This is a good romcom to watch if you’re looking to binge something fun and delightful.
I always loved escaping into books but I confess real world anxieties have made it really hard for me to focus on any book lately. So I've been diving into stories in other media like webcomics and dramas in other languages. They use familiar tropes (i.e. enemies-to-lovers, fake engagement, etc) but because they are different media the way in which the story is told changes.
Here are some of my recent distractions (which I HIGHLY recommend as a much more worthwhile way to spend your time rather than doomscrolling).
MY DEAR COLD-BLOODED KING
A F-R-E-E romance webcomic, secret identities, hot princes, and assassins in a feudal-based fantasy Japan. I literally stayed up until 3AM one night to binge read this comic and ended up joining the artist's Patreon.
Another F-R-E-E webcomic. Hades and Persephone retold. Greek gods with modern day trappings. Totally addictive.Enter your text here...
I know, lots of people are not into watching tv with subtitles, but trust me when I tell you that K-dramas are well worth it.
These shows are totally addictive, so much so that when I was asked by OSRBC Romance Readers Group (a general romance readers Facebook group with more than 8k members) if I wanted to moderate an OSRBC side group for lovers of Asian Dramas, I said yes. Romance readers and Asian dramas are such a natural niche - in the first day we had more than 100 readers join! So if you want to learn more (and fill your Facebook feed with pictures of gorgeous men) join us here: OSRBC: Asian Dramas.
What's the appeal? Here's a quote from an article about what appeal these dramas have, particularly for romance fans.
"K-Dramas push the envelope hard on the feisty-oddball girl character...female characters in K-Dramas have the space to be eccentric and even morally unsound (occasional kleptomania or blackmail are fine).
While male leads have to be paragons of virtue who are dapper dressers and also happen to look good in the shower, the female lead character is often a hot mess. She can complain about her unwashed, itchy scalp while on a date or be told that she needs to bathe as her clothes "smell of kimchi".
Women probably feel more seen in this universe for the complicated, angry, disobedient, funny, ambitious, feisty, acerbic and normal people that we can be in real life. A part of the reason for this space afforded to women characters could that about 90% of Korean scriptwriters and series writers are women. Compare this to the barely 27% of women’s presence in American film and TV, and you will see why Joan MacDonald, an American writer, feels that these shows "pay tribute to the female gaze" and the "female perspective."
-Anita Vachharajani, Crash-landing on the world: Why Korean dramas are as addictive as an unending stack of potato chips
These are the shows I have been watching and rewatching:
CRASH LANDING ON YOU - Netflix - (16 episodes) Enemies-to-lovers, opposites attract, fish out of water, fake relationship, protector, band of brothers, found family
South Korean female CEO accidentally paraglides into N. Korea. She falls on top of a N. Korean soldier. Since N. Korea and S. Korea are still technically at war, if she's caught there, she risks being sent to prison and possibly tortured and he spends half the series trying to safely return her home. Awesome hilarious cast of secondary characters. This was apparently the #3 series in all of Global Netflix in March of this year (FOR GOOD REASON!)
This is basically Tony Stark / Pepper Potts without Ironman. Long suffering secretary to genius CEO resigns, making him realize he can't live without her. Awkwardly proposes marriage to her, she says hell no (nicely with a smile, because this is S. Korea after all) he realizes he really does love her and he spends the rest of the series trying to woo her. Another great cast of secondary characters.
DESCENDANTS OF THE SUN - Viki.com (free with commercials), note that the version of this on Amazon Prime is the Vietnamese remake; romance melodrama in a disaster zone. Strong heroine doctor meets cocky special forces soldier, discover that despite their attraction, have very different philosophies about the value and sanctity of life. This also has amazing side character, including an amazing bromance between the hero and his second, with awesome conversations like this:
Hero: Ow, I think I hurt something. Maybe my appendix. I think I need to see that doctor over there.
Sgt Dae: The pretty doctor, of course.
Hero: No, it really hurts!
Sgt Dae: The appendix is on the other side.
Hero: ::quickly switches to the other side:: Yes! It really hurts!
Sgt Dae: You were right the first time, it's on the other side.
I’ve never been much of an artist, but I do like to make and play with patterns on my computer. I find it rather soothing and meditative, the digital equivalent of drawing zentangles I suppose. It’s an easy way to try and self-soothe away my 2020 anxieties.
So the other day, in between working with the kids on their homework, I started playing around with some images. Up in my header, the medallion pattern is one I made from a dragon head, stars and books.
Here are some other patterns I made (click display images at the top of this post to see!)
A friend of mine suggested I upload the patterns to Spoonflower (a place where you can buy unique fabric designed by independent artists and hobbyists) so people could order them, but I wasn’t sure anyone else would be interested. I mean I like them, and I’ve uploaded them to a Redbubble shop here (mainly so I could order stuff for myself haha ) but what do you think? I have more patterns over there including more dragons and stars. Are there any other color suggestions? Hit reply and let me know!
Anyways, if you are a new user to Redbubble, you can use this referral link https://www.talkable.com/x/nFgD7O to get $20 off your first purchase (and today is the last day of the f-r-e-e-e shipping USA special – disclosure, if you sign up with this link, I get 20 smackers too). You can use it on anything, not just my shop. There are lots of great things by independent artists and designers that I’ll be coming back to for holiday gifts.