“Earth Arcade 2” (tvN)
Song Hooryeong: “It’s our home ground!” With a shout from the familiar high-decibel voice of Lee Youngji, our earthly warriors are back. There’s so much bustling from the start, they never sit still, and once Earth Arcade’s signature random play dance begins, their eyes sparkle to get ready, just like in season one. Lee Eunji, Mimi, Lee Youngji, and An Yujin–the delightful synergy that emerges when these four are together has a unique power that makes viewers forget all their worries and just laugh. Producer Na Youngseok points to An Yujin and says, “She’s using our program to do whatever she wants,” while Lee Eunji keeps telling Mimi since the previous season, “You never really seemed like someone who would appear on shows." Their genuine laughter, free from contrivance, comes from their sheer enjoyment, infusing the show with a sense of freshness that captivates viewers, even amidst the abundance of entertainment programs featuring cast members on trips or playing games with food bets. During one game when Mimi fails by repeating the same answer “Seokbakji” twice, An Yujin playfully comments, “Unnie, are you a Seokbakji ambassador or something?” The inextricably bouncy reactions of the players bring out unexpected fun from the games that are in familiar formats. Mimi, who earned the nickname “the black hole of entertainment" in the previous season, surprises everyone with a uniquely humorous answer to the question “Name three words that end with the sound dang,” cracking everyone up. Like the arcade games you play by inserting coins has its own fun, Earth Arcade presents viewers with an immense joy that only the four earthly warriors can deliver , making so many people come back and watch its first episode.
“The Little Mermaid”
Im Sooyeon (CINE21 reporter): On the day when mermaid sisters of various races from seven seas get together, the curious and adventurous youngest sister, Ariel, doesn't show up as she is busy exploring the sunken shipwreck deep in the sea. King Triton, the ruler of the Atlantica Sea, gets worried and scolds his daughter who longs for the life on land, but Ariel can’t understand her father’s rejection of humans without having met them. One day, she unexpectedly falls in love with Prince Eric as she saves him from the shipwreck from a storm. To reappear before him in human form, Ariel visits the sea witch Ursula and makes a dangerous deal to trade her beautiful voice for a pair of human legs. This live action adaptation closely adheres to the original Disney animation, with generally the same plot, soundtrack, and main characters. Additionally, it emphasizes the political implications of the romance between a mermaid and a man by highlighting Prince Eric as a fearless explorer of the unknown. “The Little Mermaid” portrays the enchanting journey of diverse and seemingly disparate groups, such as humans and mermaids, black and white, opening their hearts to one another, reaffirming the need for a contemporary reinterpretation of this timeless tale.
“Detective Park Miok” - Park Miok
Kim Gyeoul (Writer): A legendary detective. She played a major role in apprehending the escaped prisoner Shin Changwon, and supervised the fire investigation at the scene of the Sungnyemun Gate arson case. She also solved high-profile cases like the murder of a pregnant doctor's wife and the murder of a middle school girl by the Hangang River, and provided consulting on various detective characters in soap operas and films. Her name is Park Miok. In 2000, she became the first female head of a major crimes division and later held positions as the head of the Behavioral Science Team, the head of the Violent Crimes Division, and the chief detective before retiring and settling in Jeju. It is difficult to even fathom the countless challenges she must have faced throughout her 30-year police career, carrying the weight of numerous "first female" titles. From sarcastic remarks like "Is this the lipstick policy?” when she was appointed as the head of the Gangnam Police Station’s Violent Crimes Division, to offering consolation to a junior female detective who apprehended the mastermind behind the "Doctor’s Room” case, her history of resilience in the face of exhaustion and adversity provides readers with great inspiration. This is a vivid testimony and a proud retrospection of someone who has lived her life to the fullest. Also, her strong, life-drawn thoughts and writings which feel just as lively as her life seem to explain why she is now running a bookstore in Jeju. Even after witnessing more brutal scenes than most, she says, "Detective work must be done by someone who loves people," the words that carry even greater weight in these ominous times.
Sun Gin, Kyuk, Bubdubee - Arkestra
Kang Ilkwon (RHYTHMER, Music Critic): Sun Ra, a progressive experimenter in the world of jazz, used the word “arkestra” instead of orchestra for his band name. Why he chose this particular spelling still remains a mystery. Some speculate that it has a special meaning derived from the word “ark,” perhaps a safe haven for art untainted by blind pursuit of commercial values. The message conveyed in “Arkestra,” created by Producer Sun Gin and the two rappers Kyuk and Bubdubee, resonates in a similar vein. Their “Akestra” could be anything from an unspoiled art or hip-hop, or the ideal that such art can be preserved, or some absolute existence that eliminates any threats to such art. It's an album that feels serious, with aspiration for something that “isn’t about money,” which has been rarely encountered in the Korean hip-hop scene for long. Sun Gin successfully creates a form of “drumless hip-hop,” eliminating the iconic drum element that is almost symbolic of hip-hop, and instead focusing on sample phrases. Bubdubee and Kyuk raps through challenging beats, encapsulating their themes through the lyrics and delivering tight flows, all while maintaining a solid rhyme structure. While it is true that many may resonate with Lee Chanhyuk's lyric, “At some point, Hip-Hop doesn’t look so cool anymore,” if we take a look outside the mainstream, we can still find hip-hop that is cool. This album is a testament to that.
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