Archive for category Korean Television

Announcement- In Case You Forgot

I’m tagging this post not only as an Announcement, but also with the non-English movies and TV shows, so please read if you plan on watching something I recommended.

I watch all of my foreign (non-English) shows online with English subs, and I don’t usually link these shows to my reviews. I just wanted to give you the links I have so you can use them to check out the programs I’ve been reviewing or even to just browse and watch on your own then recommend back to me ^^

First I tend to check this site:

http://www.mysoju.com/

They’re brilliant- they update usually the day after an episode is aired (if the subbing teams have found it) and whenever a link stops working they are pretty quick to get at it.

If they don’t have a show usually this site does:

http://www.dramacrazy.net

One thing to keep in mind though: if you’re from anywhere but the United States you’ll run into problems with anything subbed by the teams on “Viikii.com” (usually marked just as “Viikii”). Their site has special licensing thingies (that’s a technical term) that keep you from being able to watch it in any other country. If you see that MySoju only has a show on Viikii then go over to DramaCrazy. Usually there you can click on an episode, then tell it which video to play (it shows you the links for just about any site the video is uploaded to). I hope that you can use the links!!! ^^

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Personal Taste

I finally finished watching this show (even though I started it a long time ago). It isn’t really the show’s fault I got through it so slowly, so don’t worry.

Plot: 4/5

Gae-In is the 30-something year old daughter of an internationally renown architect. Her father has always shown little to no affection to his daughter to the point where she is pretty sure he hates her and so she works hard trying to become a famous furniture designer to prove herself to him. Gae-In lives in SanGoJae, a massive traditional Korean-style home designed by her father. SanGoJae is the envy of the architecture world as her father said he would “Create a space that would inspire his wife and child to dream”. After San Go Jae’s completion however Gae-In’s mother died in a tragic and mysterious accident. After her death her father refused to ever work as an architect again, becoming a professor instead. Eventually he left Korea entirely to teach in England, leaving Gae-In alone in SanGoJae.

Gae-In survives her time alone with the help of her two best friends: In-Hee and Yong-Sun. In-Hee is an orphan who came to live with Gae-In as a young child and remained with her through college and both of their professional careers. Gae-In is also devoted to her boyfriend, architect ChangRyul. When In-Hee announces she is getting married everything seems to be going perfectly, until (on the eve on In-Hee’s wedding) Chang Ryul brutally breaks up with Gae-In, calling her a lost puppy he only ever felt pity for. Gae-In survives the first night of heartbreak with Yong-Sun’s encouragement and manages to pull herself together for In-Hee’s wedding, only to arrive and see that In-Hee is marrying Chang Ryul. The whole lie comes apart at the seams: In-Hee stole Chang Ryul shortly after he and Gae-In started dating. He continued to date Gae-In out of a desire not to tell her. In-Hee pretty much laughs in Gae-In’s face.

Just before the ordeal with Chang Ryul starts, Gae-In meets snotty and stuck-up Jin-Ho- a hard working and highly organized architect whose father was cheated and unfairly run out of business by Chang Ryul’s evil and underhanded father.

Jin-Ho’s firm is going under and desperately needs to land the Dam Art Gallery contract- a lucrative deal that could land them in the spotlight. Jin-Ho learns that the director had initially begged Gae-In’s father to design it, but since he no longer works in the design field they have no option. Jin-Ho decides there must be a secret in SanGoJae that would attract the director so much, and so when he learns Gae-In is renting out a room (for complicated reasons that will only confuse you) he decides to buy. He gets Gae-In to let him through the door when, after a complete misunderstanding, she decides he must be gay.

This is a love story between Jin-Ho and Gae-In, who is hounded by Chang Ryul who decides he was a fool and can’t live without her (after In-Hee cancels the wedding, takes the house given to them as a gift, and pretty much does the whole manipulative bitch act). Jin-Ho wants nothing more than for Gae-In to see him as a man, and Gae-In wishes she were one so Jin-Ho might fall in love with her. While Chang Ryul and Jin-Ho prepare to battle it out over the Dam Art Gallery project, In-Hee has plans to steal Jin-Ho from Gae-In’s side. As Jin-Ho and Gae-In fall in love and the secrets start to come to light, Gae-In learns the horrible secret around her mother’s death and her father’s distance.

It’s kind of complicated, and that’s why I took a point off. The interactions between the characters are excellent, don’t get me wrong, but the whole story feels very sectioned. The love between the main characters isn’t as abrupt as in “Oh! My Lady”, but they seem to move from one thing to another too quickly. Also there is a lot of detail in each episode, so after you finish all 16 episodes your mind feels like you watched 26. It’s well written, it’s just a little complex. It could have easily been split into two seasons and then the story could have gone a little slower, but I guess it’s ok… I don’t know, the story with In-Hee and Chang Ryul is really too complex and they are on the fence about if they are working together to ruin Gae-In and Jin-Ho’s relationship or if they are working separately. It’s kind of annoying.

Acting: 5/5
This story’s got a few great actors, so I’m going through them one at a time.

Son Ye Jin plays Gae-In, the female lead. Even though the story is really rushed and Gae-In is kind of an out there character to begin with I think she did a great job portraying her. There is a rough patch for me when Gae-In finds out Jin-Ho isn’t gay (what? It happens in like ep 6, it’s not a big horrid surprise, that’s only the first half of the story). She gets over it really fast and just keeps going. Like I said I get that that’s just the kind of person Gae-In is supposed to be, but it didn’t feel quite right there. I think that issue is more with the writing than the acting though. Her work in this show is consistently great and I really enjoyed watching her act.

Lee Min Ho is Jin0Ho, the male lead. Have I said lately that he’s my favorite Korean actor (or one of my favorites, Choi Si Won is showing himself to be pretty good too)? I think he has the most flawless performance in this show, and I really can never say enough good things about him. You might remember him from “Boys Over Flowers”, in which he was also the male lead (Jun Pyo). Lee Min Ho is fun to look at, and in this show he has to pull on a larger range of emotions and has shown himself as a very capable actor indeed. I hope he gets another award for his work here.

Kim Ji Suk and Wang Ji Hye play Chang Ryul and In-Hee respectively. They both do a good job. Ji Suk is great at playing Chang Ryul as a total jerk, an arrogant prick, and a kind and cuddly guy. His character hits a massive range of behaviors and emotions, and I like it. Whenever they want an attitude change from him though they just show him drunk, and it’s kind of a cheap writing trick. Ji Hye does a pretty good job as In-Hee, but her character is the same from start to end, so she doesn’t show much range at all.

I just wanted to mention this actor, even though he doesn’t have much of a role: Im Seul Ong. His name isn’t familiar, right? Seulong? He’s a member of the idol group 2AM. As far as I know this is his debut as an actor, and I think he did a really good job. The overly goofy role of Tae Hoon (one of Jin-Ho’s assistants) gave him a memorable start, but after his character is the hysterical comic relief early on he kind of becomes a wall flower later in the show and makes a comeback as a more emotionally based person later. I think the problem there is the writing though. It shows he can play a wide range, but the character was kind of all over the place. I hope he does more acting in the future, apart from Lee Min Ho he was the most fun to watch ^^

Directing: 5/5
Invisible directing, always a good choice. There isn’t anything that stands out as “Oh, that was a great camera trick”, but the story has a very natural feel. My only complaint I have I’ll mention later, since I’m not sure if it would fall under directing or writing. I think directing, but I’ll post it separately just in case. Like I said the directing wasn’t especially inventive, and I don’t think I saw anything new, but they made good use of space and got an excellent performance from their actors. The continuity was even quite impressive, which is one of those weird things I’m picky about.

Other Things

There is a cameo later in the show by Yoon Eun-Hye, my personal favorite actress who has starred in such hits as “Coffee Prince” and “Palace” (aka “Goong”). This is worth mentioning because if you can’t read Korean you won’t get the joke. When her, Jin-Ho and Gae-In are sitting together in a cafe the director went through a lot of trouble to show her coffee cup. If you pause it before her hand covers the logo you will see written in Konglish (when the Korean alphabet spells out English words it is called “Konglish”, at least that is what all of my professors call it) “Coffee Prince”. As I said that was the name of the coffee shop in Eun-Hye’s greatest hit show. It’s a real chain too, you can even visit the one they filmed in, it’s an operational coffee house that kept everything as it was in the drama with autographs from the cast.

Ok, here is what I wasn’t sure about: the transition of time in the drama is HORRIBLE. I’m not sure if it was the director or writer who was supposed to figure out first how to show this, but in the end both dropped the ball. You’d have to see it to understand. One minute it’s day, the next it’s midnight and so on. I think they really needed to find a way to keep track of time within the drama so the viewer isn’t lost.

All in all this is a good show. It’s definitely not kid-oriented, like a lot of Korean dramas. Indeed, I don’t think kids who are too young would understand the story at all. It’s a drama for an older audience, but  I understood and enjoyed it just fine. Despite my complaints it really is a good show. Other than the acting quality and the writing (which was pretty good in parts) it doesn’t stand out over other dramas. I can think of dramas I’d rank higher than this one, but it’s not horrendous. It’s… pleasant. It’s not amazing, it’s not horrible, it’s a good thing to watch if you’re bored or killing time.

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Chef’s Kiss

I know you probably wouldn’t count this as a show since it’s a Variety show. I forgot to warn you that since I want to work on Variety shows at some point  after college I tend to watch them more than dramas. I’ll review a couple of dramas for you later on (it’s 2AM here so I can’t exactly say tomorrow, but I need to sleep sometime), but for now this is what I have. I don’t usually review Variety shows, but after watching a few episodes I have some comments (I think it’s still being filmed?).

Chef’s Kiss is one of those shows that belongs solely to one group: U-Kiss (hence the title). Basically it isn’t made to last, just to entertain kids and fill a time block for a couple of months. The show seems to be split into two episodes for each part of the challenge, so here is the breakdown.

Part 1
The members of U-Kiss (who apparently live in a dorm now, they used to live separately) are brought a covered box containing a live version of that week’s main ingredient. For example the first ingredient was Chicken, so a chicken in a cage was brought to them. They then get a day to research different foods they can make using Chicken as their main. They can look things up online, call friends, or visit restaurants to get tips. Then they gather together at a filming kitchen where they are observed by two hosts- one an actress (I believe) and the other a professional chef. They are pre-divided into teams (Kevin and Eli, Kibum and Soohyun, and Kiseop, Dongho and Alexander) and each team makes a single serving of their meal. There is a taste-test and one recipe is chosen as the best.

U-Kiss then hits the streets to promote their restaurant that opens once a week for the filming of the show- the U-KisSteakhouse (ironically they haven’t served steak yet). After their promotions are over they prepare to head to the restaurant itself and are divided into the cooking team and the serving team. The cooking team is whichever members won the taste test and the serving team acts as waiters in the restaurant that night.

Part 2
The fans are seated in the restaurant and experience the cooking for themselves. The show also chronicles the difficulties the members have in the kitchen and on the floor due to food not being prepared right or service being too slow. The kitchen group is under the supervision of Chef Kim, one of their judges, and the waiters are under the supervision of the actress MC. Neither can directly help though, only give advice. At the end of their meal the customers are asked to fill out comment cards and these are used to determine if the food was a success or failure.

My Comments

The show doesn’t go through that introduction period you usually see (one episode that doesn’t follow the pattern of the others as a way to get the feel of the show). The members are just kind of thrown into the thick of things. This causes a lot of problems in the show and the overall feeling of the first few episodes is that they were kind of sloppily done. I think that intro episode would have saved the show, but as it is to just dump singers into a restaurant with real customers and say “yay- cook!” is a HORRIBLE idea. The whole notion of the show- singers running their own restaurant- is great and all, but you can’t just put them down and expect everything to turn out. I think the PD should have done the intro to get the singers trained for their experience. It really feels sloppy and badly arranged. Not only are U-Kiss members scrambling, but the cameramen seem to be desperate to find things to film. It’s very aimless and there isn’t much tension or any reason to get sucked into watching. I hope the show improves as everyone gets their feet under them, but this is really a prime example of how important that intro is.

You can find the show on youtube with or without subs, so I won’t post a link.

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Naughty/ Playful Kiss- 3 Eps in

I don’t think I’ll review this series again after it’s done unless there is some improvement, but I’ve decided to keep watching- I’ll explain why later.

Plot: 1/5
Like I said in my initial impressions of this show it is a Korean re-make of the hit Taiwanese drama “It Started With a Kiss”. The story is about a girl who lives with her loveable and almost child-like father. Her mother died when she was four and has grown up as a best friend to her dad. When they move into their new home, however, there is a tiny earthquake (2.0) and their brand new home collapses due to shoddy construction.

If this isn’t bad enough just before the earthquake the girl tried to confess her love for this smart boy in her school (same year, different class). He returned her letter to her with no reply- but with the mistakes in spelling and such corrected and a grade of “D-” written on it. Her further insulted her with the whole school gathered saying he hated stupid women.

Embarrassed and homeless the girl and her father are rescued by an old friend of her father’s. The two grew up in the same house (they took in the friend when he was young) but fell out of touch later on in life. They always regretted it and wanted to get back in touch, and finally were reunited when the friend saw the story about his house on the news. The friend’s wife immediately suggests the father and daughter move in with them, as she’s always dreamed of having a daughter and really appreciates all the father did for her husband when they were young.

So the two families are now under one roof. And you can guess what happened, right? The son of the family just happens to be the boy the girl had such a huge crush on. With all three parents rooting for them to become a couple, and the two hating one another, the drama is about how the two eventually do fall in love.

The story is cute. Simple, but easy to follow and it holds your attention… At least in the Taiwanese drama (I’ll write a separate review for that one eventually, i still haven’t finished it with English subtitles :P). This plot, which normally gets a 5/5 in my book, lost major points for execution. I’ll complain about that in the “Directing” section.

Acting: 1/5
Ok, so it isn’t HORRIBLE- there are two who really save this rating, but it should really get a 0/5, since they are more background characters. The male lead debuted in “Boys Over Flowers” as a male lead, and he was actually quite good, but in this he’s horrible. He seems to have gone for the passive brainy jerk (which is his character) but plays it too hard. He has no emotion and really sucks the energy out of every scene. I get that he’s just going for the character, and I’ve seen him in other stuff and I know his acting isn’t bad, but so far he hasn’t quite fit into that fine line between a dull character and a dull performance.

The female lead is kind of a let down. Her emotions are too exaggerated and there is no subtlety in her performance. She’s playing the character like it was some simple low-budget sitcom, not a heavily funded drama. While it is a comedy, she seems too aware of that fact. Ariel Lin portrayed the character expertly in the Taiwanese version- yes she’s hilarious, but she doesn’t mean to be, it just kind of happens. That is how the lead girl needs to be played.

There is a boy (I’m not posting names, I keep getting them mixed up between versions~~~) who is in love with the lead girl (Ha Ni, there, you get a name). His character is supposed to be of a guy completely lost in his absurd love for a girl who obviously has no interest in him. The actor in the Korean version thinks he’s in the same low-class sitcom the female lead does, maybe even worse. He plays the character like he’s acting down to children, and it isn’t cute, it’s annoying. Jiro Wang had his role in the Taiwanese drama, and Jiro’s particular brand of sweet stupidity is what the actor is obviously going for, but unless it’s natural (I’m not saying Jiro Wang is stupid, but he’s just kind of goofy, if you’ve seen him in shows you know what I mean) it isn’t something you should EVER try to fake.

Ok- so the actors who gave a point are the two who play the girl’s father and the wife of the friend who takes them in. Both don’t try to draw attention to themselves- they are just sweet. I’ve never seen the father in a role he hasn’t nailed, and I’ve never seen the mother before, but I like her. Frankly speaking she’s the reason I’m going to keep watching- any scene she’s in is immediately forgiven and I like seeing her much more than anyone else in the movie. With this kind of storyline you’d expect the mother to be against this girl who her son obviously hates and who is being dropped into her house quite unexpectedly, but she loves the girl like a daughter and is always giggling and happy. She’s also not alone in her desire to couple them- both fathers are also eager, but she’s the most active participant ^^.

Directing: 0/5
-_-
It is the directors job (in my opinion) to make sure everyone is doing their work. That means the actors too. The quality of this entire show is at about the level of a kid’s sitcom on nickelodeon in early mornings. The lighting is too bright, the sets are too bright, the costumes are too bright, and the hair and acting is overdone. The director should have pulled the staff back and pushed the actors more for a good performance. That being considered, I guess he did the best he could with what was given…

Other People to Yell At

The hair stylist: what??? The lead girl and the guy who has a crush on her look ridiculous. The guy and his friends all look like they belong in a circus with those hairstyles. It wouldn’t be bad if the one friend of his had blond hair OR an afro, BUT BOTH?!?!?!?! You really don’t like him ,do you?

The writer (for the Korean version, Taiwan’s writer gets a gold star): those fantasy scenes are an embarrassment to film. That is all I have to say to you. And I’m shaking my head and making annoyed sighing noises.

I’ll come up with a longer list as I watch more, I’m sure of that, but that’s all I can do for now.

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Naughty/Playful Kiss- First Impressions

For those of you who don’t know, the new Korean drama “Naughty Kiss” (or “Playful Kiss” depending on which translation you go with) is a remake of the popular Taiwanese drama “It Started With A Kiss”.

So far it seems “Naughty Kiss” is following the same plot (actually, some of the shots and scenes are identical too). It’s about a girl who is in love with the extremely smart and good looking top student in her school. She is from the “Dumb Class” who score the lowest in every test, and isn’t particularly bright herself. One day her friends talk her into confessing her love for him, which goes horribly wrong when he turns out to be a cold jerk as well.

The girl has just moved into a new “Western Style” house with her father (her mother is dead) when suddenly there is an earthquake and the house collapses (no other houses on the street even show signs of there being an earthquake, a similarity the Korean and Taiwanese version hold). On a news report about the incident an old friend of the father’s sees him again and immediately goes to him. The two were close in college but fell out of touch and are ecstatic to see one another again. The man immediately insists he and his daughter move in until they can have a new home built.

You can guess what’s coming, right? The man has two sons of his own- the eldest being that smart and cold jerk the girl had the crush on. As they are now house-mates the two begin to fight more and more, and sometimes he aids her in studying or just lives to watch her squirm. Over time they fall in love.

Now I say these are my first impressions of the show- and know that I REALLY mean first impressions, I’m just finishing up the first episode when I’m done typing this.

Compared to the Taiwanese version this one is falling pretty short. The Taiwanese version is slightly over-the-top in parts, but it’s largely believable and the cast is brilliant. The Korean version though is beyond over-the-top, to the point where it feels more like you’re watching a show intended for toddlers. I hope it matures a bit as the series progresses, but so far I’m really disappointed.

The casting is another issue I have. Forgive me for not knowing his name, but the male lead (Formerly of SS501, and I say formally because now like half of them are part of different companies, so you have to face it, they aren’t coming back any time soon) was really great in Boys Over Flowers. He was rough at the beginning, too quick in emotional transitions and kind of patchy, but he really picked it up by the end. Well, so far he’s right back to old tricks. I know the character is supposed to be a blank wall, but there is something in the expression he holds that just doesn’t sync with the rest of the show. And the lead girl so far is falling short. She seems too fidgety and kind of acts like someone used to filming more outrageous characters in sitcoms or such.

All in all I’m kind of disappointed in the Korean version so far. But you have to give a show at least 3 episodes to make any real decisions, so I’ll stick through and watch more, then decide if I like it enough to keep going.

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Idol Army

Also known as “Idol World”, “Idol Show”, and “Every 1 Idol”

Concept:
Each season is hosted by a different idol group. The idols compete to be partnered with members of a visiting group (usually female) and complete a challenge for a great prize. Guests do not repeat within seasons, but there have been cases where a guest reappears in a different season.

What Makes it Stand Out:
I really like the idea of idols hosting other idols. There are always professional MCs with the idols, these change each season as well, but the show has a very hands-off feel (I’m sure this isn’t the case, but that is how it feels). The hosting idols are not treated like celebrities, and are often insulted or teased by the production crew, while the guests tend to be treated very well. I’ve only seen the seasons with Super Junior, 2PM, and M.BLAQ, so I don’t know about the mini-seasons with KARA and FT Island.

Season 1
Host: Super Junior- Happy
MCs: Go Young Wook, Kim Sang Hyuk, Jang Dongmin
Episode 1) Jewelry
Episode 2) FT Island and Brown Eyed Girls
Episode 3) Wonder Girls
Episode 4) Wonder Girls
Episode 5) KARA
Episode 6) Roo’ra
Episode 7) Baby Vox Re. V
Episode 8] 2AM
Episode 9) Han Seung Yeon, Goo Hara, Joo, Moon Ji Eun, Lim So Young
Episode 10) Han Seung Yeon, Goo Hara, Joo, Moon Ji Eun, Lim So Young
Episode 11) Kim Na Young, Chun Ja, Han Young
Episode 12) Kim Na Young, Seulong, Lim So Young
Episode 13) Lee Chung Ah
Episode 14) Lee Chung Ah

Season 2
Host: FT Island
MCs: Jang Dongmin
Episode 1) Younha
Episode 2) Younha
Episode 3) 2PM, Hwangbo, Baek Boram
Episode 4) 2PM, Hwangbo, Baek Boram
Episode 5) No info on guest
Episode 6) Kim Na Young, Kim Sang Mi, Min Ji, Choi Eun Joo, Jamilla
Episode 7) Kim Na Young, Kim Sang Mi, Min Ji, Choi Eun Joo, Jamilla

Season 3
Host: 2PM
MCs: Boom
Episode 1) No Guest
Episode 2) KARA
Episode 3) JunJin Girls and Ulzzang Nunas
Episode 4) 2AM, Jang Young Ran, Go Young Wook
Episode 5) Brown Eyed Girls
Episode 6) Foreign Girls
Episode 7) No Guest
Episode 8] Girls’ Generation/ So Nyeo Shi Dae
Episode 9) Girls’ Generation/ So Nyeo Shi Dae
Episode 10) Going to MT
Episode 11) JunJin Girls and Friends
Episode 12) College Girls
Episode 13) Black Pearl, Jung Joori, Lee Chaeyeong, Kim Jungmin, Jin Bora
Episode 14) SHINee
Episode 15) SHINee
Episode 16) After School
Episode 17) No Guests

Season 4
Host: KARA
MC: Boom
Episode 1) No Guest
Episode 2) Daesung
Episode 3) Lee Chun Hee
Episode 4) FT Island
Episode 5) 2AM

Season 5
Host: M.BLAQ
MCs: Shin Bong Sun, Jung Joori
Episode 1) No Guest
Episode 2) Secret
Episode 3) T-ARA
Episode 4) Kim Na Young, Kim Sae Rom, Kang Ye Bin
Episode 5) Queen Seon Duk Parody/ Lee Joon’s Secret Camera
Episode 6) Soo Jung
Episode 7) After School
Episode 8] After School
Episode 9) No Guest
Episode 10) No Guest
Episode 11) IU, Kim Eun Jung, Ha Joo Yeon, Hong Jin Young
Episode 12) Transfer Girls
Episode 13) F(x)’s Sulli
Episode 14) F(x)’s Sulli
Episode 15) No Guest
Episode 16) No Guest

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Explorers of the Human Body

Concept:
At it’s core EHB is an educational mythbusters-type show. It deals with different questions regarding the human body (or just anything really) and attempts to answer through experiments and tests the issue. Each episode has a different theme (I’ll list the themes later).

Why it Stands Out:
A health show is hard to market to teens, right? Well, not when you bring in the 13 member mega-hit Super Junior. This is the first variety show in which all 13 members appear together. I think using a band with international popularity as high as Super Junior’s was a brilliant idea. It guarantees viewers and also allows a lighter side to each episode. This is a show anyone can enjoy, regardless of age or if you know who the band is or not. It’s interesting and pretty hilarious. A note: in the first half of the show only 12 members appear. Maknae (Youngest member) Kyuhyun did not participate in early experiments because he was still in the early stages of recovering from his near-fatal car accident.

Episodes (Themes)

1) Tongue and Eyes
2) Stomach and Digestion
3) Strength Part 1
4) Strength Part 2
5) Laughter
6) Balance
7) Flexibility
8] Tear Production and Salt Content of Emotional Tears vs Tears from Stimulation (Onions/fans)
9) Reflexes Part 1 (Featuring Dong Bang Shin Ki)
10) Reflexes Part 2 (Featuring Dong Bang Shin Ki)
11) Archery- Catching an arrow and firing at moving targets
~~This is the first episode in which members are split into a Team 1 and Team 2, they remain in teams for the rest of the series, though the members can change teams based on their performance each week~~
12) Breathing Underwater: Props to Breathe vs Air Exchange
13) Dogs’ Sense of Smell- Out-smarting it

You can find all of these on YouTube or Veoh with English Subtitles

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