Friday, January 02, 2009

Rooftop Room Cat (옥탑방 고양이)

I just finished watching an old Korea drama called "옥탑방 고양이," which translates into "Rooftop Room Cat" (옥탑 = roof, 방 = room, 고양이 = cat). It's not really old- it first aired in 2003.

In Korea, roofs are flat and usually have a small room. I remember one of my uncles kept his giant water boiler in his rooftop room. They're very different than attics, because the way Korean buildings are built is completely different than how American buildings are built. Here's a photo as proof:

See all the roofs? They hang laundry on them, grow plants, etc. Koreans don't generally have yards and such, since most people live in cities rather than in rural areas (shudder. I hate farms), so they have to do "outdoor" things on the roof. Economical use of space, really.

Some people add bathrooms and kitchens to their rooftop rooms and rent them out, particularly to students. Kind of like a studio in America, or perhaps a bachelor apartment.

All this to explain the title of this drama...

"Rooftop Room Cat" (sometimes translated as "Attic Cat," which makes no sense to me since IT ISN'T AN ATTIC) is about a feisty girl that has no money and a lazy boy that comes from money.

Seriously, that's what it's about.

Oh, okay, there are other plot points- she's trying to make ends meet while going to school, he's a good student that lacks ambition, they're both stubborn (oh, so stubborn!) and strong-willed, they clash over every little thing (the type of food to eat, the way to properly do laundry, how to clean the floor of the little apartment-- every. little. thing).

Of course, I felt it was a foregone conclusion from the beginning of the series that they would end up in love and somehow work it out.

I found the show a bit tedious at times, because they repeat the same thing over and over again- he does something to piss her off (buys a washing machine because he hates doing laundry by hand, she doesn't like it because it's a waste of money that could be used for something useful, he's just being lazy), they fight, he packs his suitcase and storms out, they make up, he comes back and unpacks his suitcase ... and then repeat. They just fought too much. I get it, I get it! They fight, they must be incompatible.

A few reasons I really liked the show:

- Kim Rae Won (김래원) really threw himself into acting like a spoiled little rich boy that's used to getting what he wants. He sounds terrible, but he was great! He really sold it. (Incidentally, why is his name spelled with an 'R'?? Koreans don't have the letter R in their alphabet; it's really pronounced Kim Lae Won. Confusing).

- Jung Da Bin (정다빈) also committed to her character. She was shrill at times, she was physically abusive at times, and it was embarrassing to watch her at times (she's a sturdy country girl and tries one night to "seduce" him, realizing that she has fallen for him. She's too proud to just say it, so she puts on a little nightie and tries to make nice. He thinks she's fallen ill because she's never been so nice to him before!), but at least the girl committed! I appreciate that.

- There was a refreshingly non-Korean plot point of a man and a woman living together as roommates. Koreans don't do that kind of thing- my mother would have a heart attack and take to her bed for about two months if I even thought about something like that.

- I felt like a big point that this drama made was that money cannot buy happiness. He came from a rich family and was used to having money to do whatever he wanted- buy expensive clothes, have a maid, go drinking- but he ends up realizing that he is happiest when he is poorest, living in a tiny apartment with a prickly woman that forces him to peel hundreds of cloves of garlic.

One huge reason I did not like this show:

- Choi Jung Yoon (최정윤) makes me want to reach into the screen and rip her hair out. I have a horrible habit of believing actors to be just like the characters they play (Ellen Pompeo, you will always be Meredith Grey to me and therefore I will always hate you). And so right now, I hate Choi Jung Yoon. She was a vile, vindictive, opportunistic banshee and had a voice like a harpy with PMS. I wanted to poke her eyes out with a dull fork. Every time she came on-screen, I had to distract myself or at least cover either my ears or my eyes (having her in just one of my senses was better than the two-senses experience). Shudder. Never again.

All in all, though, a cute show. The first maybe 8 or 9 episodes were repetitive and I sort of zoned out for chunks of time, but I wanted to know what happened and how things ended by about the 14th episode (it was 16 episodes total).

I wish the show had had better pacing, and I wish the writer(s) hadn't been so lazy (same. arguments. every. flipping. episode), but I still enjoyed it. Eye candy- not too filling, doesn't give you any revelations, but leaves you feeling a little cheerier.

I was pretty much set on watching this drama because of Jung Da Bin. She was born on March 4, 1980, two years before me. She died on February 10, 2007, just 27 years old.

It breaks my heart when I hear of children dying before their parents. I could not imagine my life without my parents, but I also know that I would rather they go first, before my sister and me. They made us, they see themselves in us, they did so much for us and do so much for us still. I feel so bad for Jung Da Bin, that she felt so hopeless ... to feel that you have no alternative but suicide is terrible, must feel absolutely wretched.

I hope she is in peace, and I hope that she knows people remember her fondly.


william January 3, 2009 at 12:37 AM  

girl, you did not just diss meredith grey.

jeanny January 3, 2009 at 8:14 AM  

Oh, Meredith Grey!

Here's my reasoning...

I ♥ Derek Shepherd (blame "Can't Buy Me Love"-- I was at a very impressionable age!) and Meredith is no good for Derek!

Therefore, I do not like Meredith.

Derek's been annoying me, though, so we'll see. (I found Rose sympathetic and Derek to be cruel).

william January 3, 2009 at 5:46 PM  

i find meredith charming and complicated in a very late 20s angsty way. sometimes i hate her decisions, but i still maintain my liking for her.

derek is boring, and rose had no chance (she also slit. his. hand!).

but who really cares about merder when we all know cristina is the star of the show.

jeanny January 3, 2009 at 9:48 PM  

Doesn't everyone know Cristina's the star?? I miss Burke- their relationship was fantastic (even though Isaiah Washington is hateful).

Also, I was against Meredith because Addison? Wow. Loved that girl from the start, evil as she was! She was the best kind of evil.

The OCD Asian in me can't deal with the horricious decisions Meredith makes, but I see what you mean about the angst. "Grey's" is nothing if not angsty!

... I also think Ellen Pompeo's role in "Catch Me If You Can" really just gave me a general feeling of blah about here. I was biased from the beginning!

william January 4, 2009 at 9:06 PM  

but she was in moonlight mile! did you forget moonlight mile!? okay, so everyone forgets about moonlight mile (and rightfully so).

i accept that meredith is polarizing. but i think that's great. and yes, isaiah washington is hateful. sometimes they show old episodes of oprah in korea, and i caught one where isaiah washington was on oprah's couch (this was before the slur incident), and he was talking about how proud he was to play a guy who wasn't defined as being black and was just a doctor and how he never liked playing thugs or gangsters or drug dealers or haters. and i was like, far you have fallen off that high horse.

jeanny January 4, 2009 at 11:10 PM  

I have no words to adequately describe the fall from grace Isaiah Washington has taken. Shame on him.

I vaguely recognized the title "Moonlight Mile" but hadn't watched it, and just looked it up. I LOVE the fact that Ellen Pompeo's character's name is Bertie Knox! I may need to watch it just for that.