We’ll go through the disclaimers first. Yes, am late to the K-Drama bandwagon. I am also pretty late in discovering Hyun Bin, his dimples and his stellar acting chops. Now, I am watching a 2018 show, and raving about it like I discovered fire. There, done. TBH, for me, new is not always better. I buy clothes on a discount (a pretty heavy one!) because I like a brand and never wonder why I an SS20 is better than a FW15. That’s how it is for TV series + movies for me – I discover old ones all the time. And if it’s fashion we’re talking – remember, it always comes around.
Time is relative, so is style. Fashion is timeless if you pick the right stuff. And as I always say, the only reference point for me in fashion is pop culture and that’s why I look for labels + styles + fits after seeing a glimpse of them in shows and movies. That’s a healthy way to discover fashion no? Because it’s worn by semi-real people and not stick thin models sauntering on the runways with their signature pout and bodies that look unreal. I mean, they’re not real people either, but whatever, you get the memo – just go with me, ok?
The deal is – If I have to own a genre and call it my favourite, it would be – SOMETHING that’s high tech action alongside fast editing, tight story with a love, emo story in bits and pieces. This unique wierd genre is unfortunately not searchable on Netflix and falls under thriller or action which is according to me is one vague bucket. Romance ought to be part of it though but it shouldn’t be slathered all over it. I hate bland love stories where misunderstandings happen, two characters are stupid enough to not make up their minds and waste 3 hours of your time. Seeing Bollywood do this regularly has made me cynical. Hollywood is not better, people. Pretty Woman is by far the worst movie according to me and that genre of unrealistic expectations and over-dramatic romances interest me the least. I also hate slow movies – like “please, get a good editor, pay good money for that, stop wasting precious time”. Things need to happen fast before I jump onto another streaming platform. My attention span is around 0.03 seconds on good days.
Yes, I am also that person who skips to the end of a book to know the ending coz I have no patience. I once read 50 books just by asking my friend to bookmark the interesting parts. I also read up wikipedia on certain movies to know if it’s worth my time. That’s how I land on movies whose story line is not perfectly described online – those weird ones where the premise is perfect but the process is interesting and an ending that’s just not normal.
Talking about Korean shows, I’m obsessed coz they use fashion beautifully. I haven’t seen many – maybe just 3-4 at this point and I might not know much, but I like a well-fitted casual jacket when I see one. In subtle ways their colour choices and style fits in well with the story, even elevates it at times. Also their choice of designers is staggering ( They have used everything from Zegna to Off-White, I noticed). In fact, I watched Crash Landing On You starring Hyun Bin, Son Ye-jin and boy, that’s some good fashion right there (I’ve researched on it and will be writing about it soon). Memories of Alhambra on the other hand had been picked up because it had Spain as the backdrop. Like I said, I excel in choosing random shows based on random details. Also, the trailer showcased gaming and tech stuff, random shots of Spain and Hyun Bin with silky soft hair. That was enough to get me in the door.
Memories of Alhambra
Coming back to my favourite character, Yoo Jin Woo, played beautifully by Hyun Bin in Memories of Alhambra. He’s flawed, rude, ambitious to the point of not caring about other people’s feelings and sarcastic but he comes with integrity, loyalty, hard work and a certain kind of sophistication. The kind of hero who is not exactly good, but not exactly bad but a cocktail of hard choices. He falls into line with two of my other favourite characters – Michael Corleone and Jason Bourne. Very flawed humans but you like them because of their weird integrity and because they have some vital principles in place. Yoo Jin Woo can be impatient, extremely cunning at business, competitive and demanding – that’s how he works. And I loved the show for it’s really off-beat story-telling and AR gaming situation – it catches your attention till the end. Yeah it has great action sequences, some fun banter and decent-ish romance. It is a better Bollywood film sans songs.
I love it when characters in films + series become real people with real issues. Have often seen Shah Rukh do his “heyyyy am Rahul” bit in either action or words or expressions in all of his movies. It becomes hard to relate to him as anything else. Some of the biggest stars come with their own self into roles and it becomes harder and harder to relate. That’s not the case with Hyun Bin – you see him as Yoo Jin Woo, flawed, ambiguous and even unromantic coz he jokes, instead of flirting. And he’s plain sarcastic and you don’t know what’s going on in his head if his monologue wasn’t going on in the background. He’s an engineer and has passed out from a prestigious university, he’s a game developer and is passionate about tech – I mean, give me a hero with a proper educated background, a good cv and a passion for work and I’ll lap it up. Yoo Jin Woo is an engineer? My South-Indian soul is now at peace. LOLZ
16 episodes full of drama and action, I was hooked. The ending ( not giving any spoilers!) got everyone annoyed but honestly I like bittersweet endings. You can’t really tie everything up nicely sometimes – the world is just not that perfect. Park Shin Hye is just a-okay but has her moments. She’s too saintly for my liking but I guess they are paired well then, she can be his moral compass. But it’s Hyun Bin who catches your attention with his natural flair – he’s so good at what he does and carries the whole Netflix series on his smooth shoulders. There are so many curveballs until the grand ending and it’s a ride. You are pretty much invested in his quest because the game has to be played and he can’t help himself and his crazy world has its own rules.
And the sheer idea that the protagonist is seen with a limp throughout the series is admirable. And the fact that he is married and divorced twice, gets called crude by his own team and is a man-child with a weird obsession for sword-fighting and winning and gaming is even better. I can’t imagine any Bollywood character agreeing to do this and still looking as hot as Bin. Of course there are other characters that add the charm here: Min Jin Woong as Secretary Seo and Lee Re as Min Joo, the little sister of the heroine, they really give the story it’s good bits. But that said, it’s worth a watch and is neat storytelling with a few lags and inconsistencies in between. I am waiting for season two, if there ever will be one.
And as usual, I really liked his outfits and how his style moves around in the series. A CEO of a tech empire, how does one really dress him up without making him look suited up all the time? I also liked how his style evolves through the show – he goes from CEO-type suits and ties to casual jackets by the end of the show. The first things that you notice is how well-fitted his outfits are: the collars are sharp, the fabric most comfortable yet chic, the parkas billowing when he’s fighting NPCs and finally, the jackets and how interestingly they pair with his basics. Not to forget his Breitling that is shoved on our faces most of the time. The flex was too much to handle but the leather straps made it tolerable. It’s been a while since I’ve seen men wear strap watches, coz I gotta admit, leather hits different.
So…Men’s style through a Korean series, here we go.
The typical minimalistic style he showcases is fraught with linens, tee shirts on blazers, Chinese collars in colours that are muted but impactful. From khaki to converse, you see him in everything and the cuts go as minimalistic as possible. The colours range from eggshell to ochre to deep blues and crispy whites. Whatever it is, dear CEOs, there are lessons to take from here.
- The white tee, matching suit combo. Brown is such an underrated suit colour but Bin manages to make it his own. And whatever happened to round-collar tees.
2. The blue jeans + white shirt combo is probably the best thing to happen to men’s styling. An add-on like a linen jacket adds the laid-back CEO on a work holiday look. The look is from System.
3. Blue linen shirts with khakis – uff, such a modern take on casual. I like heroes who don’t have to try too hard. And he wears it in the first episode with a navy linen jacket – again, great combo. This one’s from Seig Fahrenheit.
4. Another day, another white shirt on Hyun Bin. This time, another interesting bit is how he pairs it with a parka/ a cas jacket in blue. My detective side also found a close match to Muji, though it’s apparently Nouvmaree. I have realised that white on Hyun Bin is a completely reasonable topic to write about because social media is full of it. He chooses white most of the time I guess so men must take some lessons on how he sports white so effortlessly. #hyunbininwhite
5. Am sorry I couldn’t get better pictures but this trench in the date episode is just so so cool. I just bought one this year so I know how comfy these things are. And it’s a timeless design and it’s from Viva Studio. Plus, this scene with Min-Joo is damn cute – who knew his rude ass is nice sometimes.
6. This time, white linens are used with a grey tee – easy peasy.
7. By far my fave look of the lot – the khaki parka paired with Converse sneakers while he’s on a quest with those crazy machine guns on NPCs. The fact that those Converse are dirtier especially in the train scene with all that shooting and blood – makes it so worn out. I like.
7. Beige suit with green shirt. So sophisticated yet so casual.
8. Suede bomber jacket with an all-black look – simple and effortless. This is apparently a top-to-toe Zara look.
9. White + black = Best. The fact that uses this outfit to sleep in the whole day? Amaze. Yoo Jin Woo as a character was inspired by Elon Musk (my fave btw) and this outfit does justice to that bit.
10. No pics of this look but it’s all black jacket + pants with a white tee – by far one of the coolest looks in the show. It was used in the saddest scene though – sniff.
Here’s hoping there’s a season two of it. In my imagination, it would be great if they can find a new-ish player coming in, rescuing and sparring with Yoo Jin Woo. If it’s a woman even better. I thought Park Shin Hye doesn’t have the chops to be bigger than her character but maybe another gamer. Maybe Deepika Padukone, who knows. Yeah, that’s about it. That’s my two bits on men’s style via Hyun Bin.
And no matter what else I watch, Yoo Jin Woo will always be my favourite character. I Stan his mind and his style. Even more than Captain Ri Jeong-hyuk in Crash-landing. Only because it was super complicated and I love me some original storytelling. But as usual, I go for the outfits and it’s what makes me understand a character better.
More K-DRAMAS and general nonsense will be coming up soon. Stay tuned.