Tazza: The High Rollers (2006)

(The War of Flower)
Korean title: 타짜 (Ta-jja)

What’s popping:

I wanted to see this movie simply because the title of the movie intrigued me. With a title like “Tazza: The High Rollers” what kind of movie could it be?

That was before i knew a “high roller” is a gambler who wagers large amounts of money. “Tazza” (타짜) on the other hand, is a professional gambler, at the top of his game. Well if you know that, then you would know that this movie is a movie about gambling. The name of the game? Sotda.

Sotda is played with a deck of Hwatu cards.

Winner of the 43rd Annual Baeksang Arts Awards for Best Film and Best Director (Choi Dong-hoon), this movie comes highly recommended. The movie was also very well received in South Korea as it sold more than 6.8 million tickets, making it the second most commercially successful movie of 2006, after The Host.

Goni (Cho Seung-woo) gambles away his life savings

Tazza is a crime thriller that has almost everything you need for a blockbuster movie. It is fast paced, has an amazing cast, high suspense (gambling when the stakes are as high as loosing your right hand, surely has suspense!) and you even have Kim Hye-soo flashing her panties.

With all that, what movie would not make good entertainment? For me, it has almost everything except for a clear time line (the story is told by a series of flashbacks intermixed with current day and it comes across as complex) and satisfying romance. The romance between Goni and his girlfriend was a little too weak for me.

Madam Jeong has her eyes set on young ambitious Goni

In this mostly male dominant movie, my favourite character watch was most definitely femme fatale Madam Jeong (Kim Hye-soo). Even though she is not the main character, for me, the movie belonged to her. She exudes confidence, sex appeal and plays the only female gambler in an almost all-male domain to the hilt. Her game is not sotda, but the innocent victims who find themselves at her table.

Goni caught in Madam Jeong’s clutches.
“If you are that good, tell me what colour are my knickers.”

The Plot:

The movie takes you on a journey of young and handsome Goni (Cho Seung-woo) who starts off an amateur gambler but later becomes one of the best “Tazza” around under the tutelage of Mr Pyeong (Baek Yoon-sik). Goni’s gambling friend and comic relief in the movie is the motor-mouth Gwang (Yoo Hae-jin).

Sick of losing all the time, Goni begs
Tazza Mr Pyeong to teach him the ropes

Mr Pyeong is one of the top three gamblers around. On the way, Goni meets the other two pro-gamblers Agwee and One Ear. Agwee cut off One Ear’s …err what else ear, because the latter was caught cheating and then Agwee cut off his arm for losing. So One Ear has only one ear and one arm! Now with stakes this high, who will remain in the end?

For the love of money is the root to all evil…
Only the most ruthless survive.
Goni and Agwee battle it out in the end,

while Madam Jeong fears for her boyfriend.

Watch it:

We bought the DVD.

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K-popped! readers want a day at the vineyard with Yoon Eun-hye

We asked our readers what they wanted for Christmas and Coffee Prince darling Yoon Eun-hye came up tops!

Before we announce the results, a heartfelt thank you to all 522 voters who participated in the poll.

It looks like many of our readers are Yoon Eun-hye fans as 139 (26%) voted for a day at the vineyard with the 23-year-old actress.

Yoon Eun-hye waves to all who’d like to spend
a day at the vineyard with her.

However, many readers also picked the opportunity to duet with Xiah Junsoo of TVXQ as their most-wanted Christmas present. 112 (21%) were eager to exercise their vocal chords with the young man.

At 3rd place is Big Bang. 83 (15%) of our readers wanted a pair of Big Bang concert tickets.

Here are the rest of the results:

4th – smooching lessons from Kwon Sang-woo (52/9%) – hey, I voted for this ;-). Why so low? You don’t want to kiss Sang-woo oppa? Are you freakin’ kiddin’ me?
5th – go clubbing with Se7en (44/8%)
6th – teach English to Song Hye-kyo (37/7%)
7th – have curves like Kim Hye-soo (30/5%)
8th – have a round of soju with Lee Hyori (17/3%) – we don’t have many Hyori fans here? Where did all the Korean men go?

Aww, not many would want a round of
soju with this sexpot. How sad.

9th – a pair of JYP see-through pants (8/1%) – to the eight persons who picked this, please, only wear the pants when you are all alone. Thank you.

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K-popped! Kitchen: Japchae

I must admit, when Liz, Orchid and I went out for our Korean lunch in Beijing, I snubbed the Japchae. “Japchae? Why, it looks just like Chap Chai (Chinese mixed vegetable dish). I want to try something special!

In contrast to the Malaysian Chinese Chap Chai (consisting of napa cabbage, fermented beancurd, beancurd sheets, glass noodles and a smattering of other veggies), Japchae has a fresher, less complicated taste. Hmm, I can’t help but wonder if the American Chop Suey is a variation on these dishes. Is it?

I wasn’t able to find Korean glass noodles, which are made from sweet potato flour, but I did find a Chinese glass noodle variety packet which had tomato, spinach, carrot and pumpkin glass noodles!

I couldn’t decide on which to use, so I used a little of everything. Besides, their mild flavours were indistinguishable to me anyway. These noodles are firmer (not chewy) and more opaque than the glass noodle made from mung bean flour. Perhaps these are closer in texture to the Korean glass noodle.

Anyway, less talk, let’s get to the good stuff!

Step 1: Ingredients!
Anything! It seems to me that Japchae is another dish that helps rid your fridge of vegetable odds and ends! The sauce and glass noodles make this dish. This is what I had in mine:-

Oops, glass noodles not pictured.
  • Glass noodles (about 1cup of cooked noodles)
  • Spinach, chopped
  • Beansprouts
  • Sliced red bell pepper
  • Sliced green chillies (fresh jalapenos)
  • Carrots julienned
  • Mushrooms – pictured here are enoki (or golden needle) mushrooms and sliced oyster mushrooms
  • Dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked until softened
  • Scallions chopped 1” in length
  • Minced ginger and garlic (save some for sauce)
  • Firm tofu sliced

In a small bowl combine 3tbsp light soy sauce, 1tbsp honey, 1tbsp sesame oil, 1tsp cracked black pepper, 2tbsp rice wine, 1tsp minced ginger, 1tsp minced garlic and 3tbsp hot water. Stir and set aside.

Step 2: Cook the noodles!
Boil glass noodles in water for 15 minutes (depending on the kind you get. Mung bean noodles take a shorter time to cook). Run cooked noodles through cold water and drain then set aside. I like to toss in some sesame oil to keep the noodles moist while it waits for me.

Step 3: Prepare the tofu!
Season with black pepper and a dash of salt. Pan fry with vegetable oil until golden brown. Set aside.

If you prefer meat instead you can use beef (cut into strips). Make a little extra sauce and marinate the meat for 20mins before pan frying. I bet chicken, squid or shrimp would work too.

Step 4: Stir fry!
On medium-high heat, add sesame oil into a wok or large skillet. When oil is hot, add minced garlic, ginger and oyster mushrooms. Toss for one minute then add the chillies, carrots, bell pepper, wood ear mushroom, spinach, scallions, enoki mushrooms and bean sprouts. Stir fry until vegetables are tender.

Add vegetables in order – hard to soft (e.g. carrots before bean sprouts) -
to avoid overcooked mushy veggies.

Once vegetables are tender, add the glass noodles, tofu (or meat) and sauce. Stir fry until sauce has coated ingredients evenly. Dish up and serve!

If Japchae still seems dry after adding the sauce, add some hot water.

Step 5: Eat!
Garnish with a sprinkle of toasted black sesame seeds and serve with hot rice. A quick, simple, guilt free meal!

More K-popped! Kitchen
Su jeong gwa (Persimmon Tea)
Tuna Kimbap
Kimchi Jjigae

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Bad Love (2007)

Korean title: 못된사랑 (Mot-dwen-sa-rang)

What’s popping:

What a great Christmas present we received last night when KBS World aired the first episode of Kwon Sang-woo and Kim Sung-su‘s latest melodrama Bad Love (the network named it Cruel Love)!

After a very early Christmas morning running around at church followed by a very late Korean lunch (more on that next time) with the women of the clan, it was nice to finally unwind in front of the TV; watching two very handsome oppas – 좋아해요!

OK, enough about me. How was the show? I enjoyed the first episode and am looking forward to the next one.

We saw Su-hwan (Kim Sung-su) and Na In-jung (Lee Yo-won) falling in love (pic below) before he informs her that he’s married and wants out. Damn.

Kiss: *Cue Marvin Gaye “Let’s Get It On”*

Su-hwan’s wife is a spoilt, rich b*tch who turns into a kleptomaniac during “that time of the month”. Uh huh, she steals from her family’s store whenever she’s ovulating and walks around with this ugly Afro-like wig on. Oh, wait a minute, the wig seems to be a permanent fixture.

But her Daddy’s Mr. Rich, Powerful and Influential and cheating hubby decides to stay with her so he can fulfill his ambition. Also, Rich B*tch doesn’t want to let hubby go since oppa’s so hot and all…I think ;-).

Enter Yong-gi (Kwon Sang-woo), an artist who has had his heart broken when Daddy disapproved of his relationship with some chick. He’s planning to go to New York – new beginnings and all that jazz – but meets the very heart broken In-jung on the way to the airport.

Hey, out of curiosity, was the kissing scene in the first episode? You know, the one that took 10 hours to film? If it was, then our Malaysian censors snipped it out.

Back to the series. Ah, Yong-gi’s Daddy is actually Mr. Rich, Powerful and Influential himself! He was the result of an affair Rich, Powerful and Influential men like Daddy usually have. Thus, this makes Yong-gi and Rich B*tch blood siblings.

Can you already see the complications that will occur soon?


In-jung & Su-hwan: I love you, you love me, but you’re married. Bummer.

Bodily harm: ‘Look at me like that again and I’ll whack you with my cello.’

Yong-gi & In-jung: I was once heartbroken and will do anything to protect a new romantic relationship but the man vying for your affections is technically my bro-in-law. How now?

And so, the plot thickens.

Watch it:

  • KBS World (Astro Channel 303)
  • 9.00pm to 10.15pm
  • Caught the 1st episode on Tuesday, Dec 25. Please check your Astro guide for details, but try tuning in every Monday and Tuesday.
  • In Korean with English subtitles – hip, hip hooray!
  • Official Bad Love website
  • The series aired in Korea on Dec 3, 2007.

Pics credit: Naver

Listen to the Bad Love OST while reading our drama recaps

Bad Love Episode recap with screen shots
(Join us – read & discuss):

Bad Love – Episode 2
Bad Love – Episode 3
Bad Love – Episode 4
Bad Love – Episode 5
Bad Love – Episode 6
Bad Love – Episode 7
Bad Love – Episode 8
Bad Love – Episode 9
Bad Love – Episode 10
Bad Love – Episode 11
Bad Love – Episode 12
Bad Love – Episode 13
Bad Love – Episode 14
Bad Love – Episode 15
Bad Love – Episode 16
Bad Love – Episode 17
Bad Love – Episode 18
Bad Love – Episode 19
Bad Love – Final Episode

More on Bad Love:
Bad Love ratings, rants and behind-the-scenes
Kwon Sang-woo is the perfect boyfriend…
Bad Love opens to mixed ratings
Kwon Sang-woo caught in a passionate kiss
Kwon Sang-woo cries for bad love

Bad Love OST
Bad Love OST Poster

Show me all stories related to Bad Love

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Korean Cuisine at Pavilion KL

On Christmas eve, we visited Kuala Lumpur’s latest shopping haunt, Pavilion KL. It is located at 168 Bukit Bintang and houses a great selection of boutiques and branded stores.

The 7-storey shopping paradise also boasts a spacious food court (Food Republic) on level 1. The variety of food stalls is so vast that you are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting a place to eat. You also have many stand alone restaurants to choose from on other levels of the huge shopping centre.

Sam Sam (삼삼) – Korean Cuisine at Pavilion KL’s food court

After walking around for a bit, Liz and i decided on (what else!) Korean Cuisine. We ate at Sam Sam (삼삼) – Korean Cuisine which is located at the Food Republic food court. It is sandwiched between “Little Taiwan” and “Indian Cuisine” and opposite Madam Kwan’s & Tony Roma’s.

Korean fast food…Sam Sam serves popular simple Korean dishes

There’s a reasonable selection of Korean fare to choose from, and Liz settled for the Bibimbap (MYR13.90) while i ordered the Japchae Bap (MYR10.90). Ever since i watched Full House and Song Hye-kyo‘s character trying learn how to cook Japchae from grandma, i wanted to try the dish.

Bibimbap beef is served in a hot stone pot and comes
with a little Kimchi and bean paste soup

The Japchae was delicious.
Korean glass noodle
cooked with mushroom,
carrots, onions and other
vegetables in a tasty sauce.
Garnished with lightly
toasted sesame seeds.
Served with rice, soup and kimchi!

What’s for dessert?

Oh and for dessert we had delicious mango ice kacang! Nope, this is not a Korean dish. It’s truly Malaysian. But since this is a Malaysian blog, i’ll slip it in. ;-)

Mango ice kacang – cold and refreshing,
shaved ice topped with mangoes
and hidden beneath is all sorts of
condiments such as red bean, corn, jelly and nuts.
A Malaysian favourite.

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Mind Your Korean 2: The one where 선생님 beats Liz to the punch line

Orchid and Liz continue with their Korean lessons (yes, Rooster still naps) and share with you their adventures and misadventures with the language in MYK 2!

Wow, we did a lot in the 2nd lesson and there was even an additional student in class. Now, the grand total of students in our Korean language class is SIX.

Among other things, we continued to learn about final consonants (batchim), aspirated consonants (ㅋ, ㅍ, ㅌ,ㅊ, ㅎ), as well as asking simple questions such as 뭐예요? (mwo-ye-yo = What is this?), 누구예요 (noo-goo-ye-yo = Who is this?) and 어디예요? (eo-di-ye-yo = Where is this?).

We also ran through 있어요 (iss-eo-yo = there is/have), 없어요 (eop-seo-yo = there isn’t/don’t have) and since we learnt 좋아해요 (joh-ah-hae-yo = like) last week, Teacher taught us the difference between 좋아해요 and 좋아요 (joh-ah-yo = good, fine).

포크 & 나이프

While learning to ask questions, we learnt two new words – 포크 (po-keu) and 나이프 (nai-peu). Teacher asked us to guess what they were. Can you? (take a few seconds here, if you don’t already know).

We drew a blank so she went:

Teacher: 포크 is fork and 나이프 is knife. For Koreans, we pronounce each syllable of the word clearly. So po-keu – since we don’t have “F” – is fork and nai-peu is knife. But Koreans with good English, and even ordinary Koreans these days will just say “fork and knife”.

Cow liquor, anyone?

While learning with flash cards, the class came across the word 포도 (po-do = grape). Hey, it sounds familiar to me because grapes in Hokkien (a Chinese dialect which I speak) is po-toh. Then Teacher expanded on the word a bit.

Teacher: Can anyone guess what 포도주 (po-do-ju) is? 주 (ju) is actually similar to the Chinese word “chiu” as in liquor. So 포도주 (grape liquor) is wine.
Fellow student: 선생님, then you’re telling me 소주 (so-ju) is “cow liquor” since last week, we learned that cow is 소 (so)?
Teacher: No, no, no it is not like that. But you’re very imaginative.

Teacher (or 선생님) steals the punchline

After the 1st class last week, Teacher discovered that I was a Bi fan and had been asking me now and then, 비 좋아해요? (Bi joh-ah-hae-yo? = Do you like Rain?), so I could practice my 네, 좋아해요 (Ne, joh-ah-hae-yo = Yes, I like).

So for the week leading up to our 2nd class, I’ve been practicing with Orchid this so-called “punch line”, which I had planned to deliver when Teacher asked me the question again.

It would have gone: 아니요. 비 안 좋아해요, 하지만 사랑해요! (A-ni-yo. Bi An joh-ah-hae-yo, ha-ji-man sa-rang-hae-yo = No, I don’t like Rain, but I love him).

However, it was not meant to be as right at the beginning of the 2nd class, Teacher actually stole the punch line when she did a recap. Bummer, I guess the joke was on me ;-)

Class adjourned, see you next time.

Mind Your Korean series:
MYK 1: I’m sorry (미안합니다) – You’re welcome (아니에요)
MYK 3: The tale of the uncooperative tissue paper
MYK 4: From learning the alphabets to self-introduction
MYK 5: Simple conversations in Korean
MYK 6: 하나, 둘, 셋, 넷…come on and count in Korean!
MYK Quiz 1: The Match Up
MYK Quiz 1: Answers and winner announcement
MYK 7: Location, location, location
MYK Tidbits
MYK 8: 일, 이, 삼, 사…come on and count in Sino-Korean!

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Christmas special: K-popped! Trio dances with Bi

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Boy, do we have a treat for you this Christmas day! The K-popped! Trio, along with the beloved Energizer Bunny, goes through an elfamorphosis to bring you this holiday jig.

Yup, it’s our little online Christmas present to all our readers. We got jiggy with it for your viewing pleasure, so please hit the link to watch it. The special dance ends Jan 2, 2008.

여러분, 메리 크리스마스 and a Happy New Year!

God bless!

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K-popped! Kitchen: Su jeong gwa (Persimmon Tea)

Orchid will be happy to know that her favourite snack happens to also be a common Korean treat!

Dried persimmons – a preserved fruit snack that’s well loved across Asia. In Korean, it is known as gotgam (곶감). In Malaysia, the Hokkien community has given gotgam the rather endearing name of gu sai pneah which literally translates into… cow pie biscuit.

Care for a turd?

Have you ever had a gotgam? Well, it’s chewy flesh could either be pleasantly rich and sweet or as astringent as an unripe banana! Blegh! But perhaps we could escape that unsavory surprise of biting into an unripe gotgam by making su jeong gwa (수정과)!

Some recipes online call for 20 gotgams. Like… whoa! I’m probably the only one who is going to drink this batch, so I’ve reduced and tampered with some recipes to make enough to fill 4 glasses, or several tea cups. Korean cooks out there – do share your tips with us! :)

Step 1: Ingredients!
  • 5 dried persimmons rinsed and halved.
  • Some pine nuts. These are expensive little buggers!
  • Sliced Ginger, about 10 slices. More or less depending on what you like.
  • Rock sugar (8oz or 1/2lbs)
  • A stick of cinnamon.
  • About 6 cups of water.

Step 2: Boil!
Here I’m using a clay pot I use to boil herbal teas with, but I think a heavy soup pot will do. Add water into the pot with the ginger slices, cinnamon and rock sugar. Some recipes online say that you should add the sugar later, but I was so caught up in the photo taking that I forgot that part, tee hee! I guess it should be okay.

Bring to a boil then lower the heat and allow it to simmer covered for 1 ½ hours. Wow, forget about air fresheners, your home will smell great when this baby gets brewin’!

Step 3: Cool down…
Turn off the heat and let the liquid return to room temperature before adding the persimmons… so they say, ㅋㅋㅋ! I probably would have had to wait another hour for it to cool in that thick walled clay pot. So I waited 20 minutes.

Step 4: Forget about it.
Yup, leave it and forget about it for 5 hours and allow the persimmons to steep. I suggest you surf K-popped! to pass the time. :p

Step 5: Cool it further.
Take the persimmons out, strain the tea and store your brew in the refrigerator.

Step 6: Drink!
Serve the su jeong gwa cold garnished with 3 precious pine nuts. Cheers!

And what does it taste like? Like a festival! The spice, the fruitiness – a holiday drink with an Asian flair! I think it would make an excellent drink for a Christmas or New Year’s party. But do make a small batch for yourself to test first and see if you like it. This perfumed beverage may not suit everyone’s palate.

Happy cooking and Happy Holidays!

More K-popped! Kitchen
Tuna Kimbap
Kimchi Jjigae

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JYP's comeback concert in Buchun

Park Jin-young in shiny red pants
tucked into laced up boots, gave his Korean
fans a full-fledged concert

Singer and producer Park Jin-young (JYP) took to stage and gave his Korean fans a concert to remember. The concert was held on 22 Dec, at 7pm at Kyonggi-Do Buchun.

Peace man – don’t get offended by the sexual
acts I will perform on-stage soon

JYP treated his fans to his usual upbeat catchy tunes which includes songs from his new album “
Back to Stage“. The two most notable songs from his new album are “KISS” and “That house you live in“. Other songs include g.o.d.’s “Friday Night” and Wonder Girl‘s “Tell Me“.

Yeah baby…kiss me right here. Right here!

JYP’s performance and dances were full of sexual connotations. Well, we are not surprised as from his recent short stints on Korean TV, that was the way he is heading. Plus he gave us a great big hint dirty dancing with Kim Hye-soo in “That House you live in” music video.

According to an article on StarNews, the crowd loved JYP’s heavily sexual performance as he received a “hot shout of joy”.

Orchid is speechless…thus not able to
provide any witty captions. :-|
[Pic credits: StarNews]

JYP performed to 3,500 fans in Buchun and it was reported that JYP’s wife’s father was in the audience!

JYP will hold another concert on the 31st December at the Seoul Olympic Park stadium.

If you are in the States, you may look forward to a JYP concert in 2008 . He will be performing in New York and Los Angeles in February.

For fans of The Wonder Girls, you will get a special bonus as they five-girl pop group who made the “Tell Me” dance so popular, will make a guest appearance at JYP’s concerts. [For more, read Wonder Girls to Debut in US on The Korea Times]

See y’all in New York & LA in 2008!

I’ll be bringing along my Korean women dancers…

Video clip – JYP performing “Tell Me” at his concert

Pics credit: Newsen, StarNews

Source: StarNews

Who is this weird man? Gimme more on JYP

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Kumi Koda & Tohoshinki on Music Station

Sexy J-pop singer Kumi Koda and Tohoshinki, better known as TVXQ, performed the song Last Angel on Music Station.

Kumi Koda featuring Tohoshinki a.k.a. TVXQ a.k.a. DBSK

When interviewed by the show’s hosts (initially, I thought the ajusshi with the sunnies on was blind), Kumi Koda said that the song is to encourage young girls to do what they want and hold on to their dreams.

Xiah & Kumi Koda sing about never giving up on your dreams

Hero does his thang…still lookin’ pretty

The TVXQ boys & Kumi Koda sing about…er, destroying sumthin’

Sexy Kumi Koda gives viewers the come hither look

Music Station is a long-running Japanese music program that is shown on Astro’s Animax channel (Channel 715). I caught the 2pm – 3pm show on Dec 22.

Xiah (left) & Hero “stand up from misery”

Kumi Koda makes sure her mic is working

U-Know sings about “saving his baby forever”…whatever that means

Sorry about the lousy TV stills, I was busy wrapping presents when they came on.

Final pose: Everyone stands at an angle so they can look
slimmer on TV

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