I’d like to kick this post off with a shout out to the lesser known, far more conservative, yet equally bat-shit insane sister of Japanese Manga; Korean Manhwa. I’ve recently allowed myself to become FAR to obsessed with not one but two manhwa’s. The first is called Forbidden Kiss and you can read the English translations here. But I must strongly advise you that once you fall down this rabbit hole there will be no return from wonderland. This guilty pleasure beckons to me every morning and I can’t help but click the link to see if the newly translated issue has been posted yet, only to find that cruel bitch of a message telling me that my next issue will be coming soon. Not soon enough my friends, not soon enough.
The basic story is pretty stereotypical of manhwa, which is to say that we’re gonna have to utilize our suspension of belief here people. Okay so, Lee Ha-Eun our heroine lives with her mother, step-father and younger step-brother Lee Shin. Lee Shin just happens to be a local gang leader (known as a jjang in Korean) and a total badass, I mean the kid drives a goddamn motorcycle and he’s only 16-the legal driving age in Korea is 18-ballsy move dude! One day on her way to school Lee Haeun runs into a busy street to catch her bus and causes a minor fender bender. The driver of the damaged car, 17 year-old Han Shihu (I can only assume driving laws are not strictly enforced in this village) gets out and starts screaming at Haeun that this is her fault and she must compensate him for the damage done to his vehicle. However, the amount of money he asks for is enough to cause anyone a panty stain, but especially for Haeun seeing as she’s only a high school student. She doesn’t want her parents to find out so she can’t ask them for help, and there is no way that she’ll be able to earn this kind of money without taking her clothes off. So what’s a girl to do? Become Shihu’s slave and work off her debt through menial labor. Logical, no? So she starts working for him secretly, going to his house after school to clean it, and surprise, surprise, Shihu starts to fall for her. But wait, just as the rich, asshole-ish Shihu is warming up to her, she starts to realize her step-brother Shin, isn’t such a bad guy after all. In fact, a casual observer might even says she’s in love with him, though she won’t admit it to herself, and wouldn’t ya know, Shin has been in love with her THIS WHOLE TIME!!! OMG-A love triangle! I’m sure Mr. and Mrs. Lee will be just thrilled when they discover this revelation.
The other manhwa that has me powerless in its clutches is Mary Stayed Out All Night. Now, if you are lucky enough to be able to understand and read Korean, you can find the scans here. If, you’re one of the rare few that don’t know Korean you’re up shit creek for the time being, unless you happen to know a very kind and extraordinarily patient Korean who is willing to translate it for you, such as I, myself do (Lee Hye Kyung you rock my world!). But fear not, from what I understand Manga Fox is in the process of translating it, so hopefully the English version will be out soon! It’s written by the same author that did Full House, which any manhwa nerd worth their salt has read and loved, if you haven’t, fore shame! Here, consider it an early Christmas gift from your pal Flonz. As much as I love Full House, I’m loving Mary even more. Firstly, the art in Mary is pretty damn awesome, the attention to detail is incredible and really does a lot to further the story. Plus, the characters are quite frankly more likeable. Wi Mae Ri, the heroine is adorable and hardworking but a bit of a, for lack of a better word, square. When her friends drag her to a rock concert, she puts her headphones on and complains about the noise until she happens to look up on stage and see Kang Moo Kyul. Boom goes the dynamite and they decide to get married. This goes down like a fart in a space suit with Mae Ri’s father, who is about as keen to have a long-haired, eu de beer smelling, unemployed, musician son-in-law as he is to have a colonoscopy. So he sets up a contract marriage between Mae Ri and his rich friend’s son, Byun Jung In. Mae Ri is forced to split her time equally for the next 100 days between her hastily married rocker hubby and her rich contract husband, in the hopes that she might change her mind and choose money and stability over what is best described as dead sexiness. If you simply cannot wait for the English translations to come out, you could check out the live action drama that just came out based on the manhwa. Yes, I have watched every episode, and you may be asking yourself, do I love it? My reply: Does a bear shit in the woods?