A Guilty Pleasure: Thai Lakorns
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Feb. 23rd, 2012 | 01:26 pm
While I wait for Arashi news (crosses fingers for concert DVDs), SPs, music shows, and dramas, and while I procrastinate on more important things...
What's guilty about watching and liking lakorns? That these soap operas are cliche, dramatic, frustrating, the characters are one-dimensional, the roles are stereotypocal, and most of the good guys are stupid. The best way to watch these soap operas is to fast forward most of the series. (This is usually CH7 though. CH3 is a bit better.)
But I grew up watching dubbed lakorns and I'm already used to the idea of stupidity. As much as I scream and bitch about the flow of the story or how the two-faced evil characters are always one step ahead of the gullible good characters, I still can't kick lakorns out of my life.
In any case, when I'm in need of something predictable and simple, I go to lakorns because their dramas have that which no other asian dramas have: sappy, corny, sweet, romantic, moments between the male lead and female lead, and fairy-tale happy endings. I mostly watch lakorn for the romance and in some cases (especially when you fast forward the rest), it balances out the annoying stuff. Plus, I always look forward to how the boy meets the girl at the beginning and the spark for their hatred of each other. It's fun to know that despite their dislike of the other, they'll eventually fall in love; the contrast is amusing.
Some background on lakorn and my opinion:
What's special and amazing about lakorns is that (although some deviate) most lakorns go by the same formula. This formula makes the story cliche and predictable, but that's not the point. The point is how this formula is manipulated to fit the plot.
- The formula: the drama centers around the budding romance between the main couple (not hard to guess who they are) and, more importantly, a problem. While the problem persists in the story, the main couple misunderstands each other but always manages to fall in love. The evil characters try to keep the main couple apart and at the same time they contribute or are part of the problem. At the end, everything (usually) is solved. The evil characters get punished. The good characters get rewarded. The main couple ends up together.
- The main couple usually don't know each other at the start of the story, or they haven't seen each other for a long time. The main couple is the male lead (pra'ek) and female lead (nang'ek) and they are often the first two characters shown in the opening credits.
- The male lead is usually rich or of high social status. In borans (historical/classic lakorns) he is a prince or noble. In modern lakorns, he is a rich businessman or etc. The female lead, while she may sometimes be rich, is typically poor or she was born rich and her status falls at the beginning of the story. She could be rich though.
- The female lead usually have a heart of gold. Although she is mean to the male lead and his troupe, she is essentially nice and just to everyone else. She is also initially strong and independent, though that may change at some point in the story. (The best lakorns are the ones where the female leads stay consistent throughout.)
- The male lead may be a jerk, asshole, and violent towards the female lead. He won't beat or hit her, but he'll hold on to her very tight. It's common for the slighter female leads to be fighting their way out of the male leads' grip. (Masochists?) In other words, the male leads are supposedly physically stronger and bigger. Most, although not all, female leads are small in build.
- There is a mean girl (may be an evil character) who will try to separate the main couple and get rid of the female lead. She wants the male lead for various reasons: love, money, status, and etc. She and various other evil guys always cause the main couple to misunderstand and distrust each other. Warning: high-pitch female screaming in frustration is common.
- There might be a second male who is a connected to the male lead or the female lead in some way. He might be interested in the female lead. He is usually kind and wants to help the female lead with her struggles. There may be, more rare, a second female who is in love with the male lead and who is extremely kind also.
- Most times if the female lead have family, her family members are a hindrance to her. (Not that she thinks so. The female lead is often pious to her blood relations.)
- Because of their continuous misunderstandings (urged on by the evil characters), the male and female lead are usually squabbling/arguing. (These arguments are cute :3 because of how they try to get the upperhand over the other.) Jealousy is very common. Angst too.
- Money and status is always involved in some way.
- In almost half of the lakorns, some kind of rape occurs. There is a double standard here. While rape is always a NO, but because of the fact that the female lead and male lead are soulmates and will typically end up as a happy couple, the male lead raping the female lead is usually forgiven/accepted (by the viewers). On the other hand, other rapes or abuse that occur in the story are a definite NO!!!
- The female leads are usually virgins and innocent. A respectable lady protects her virtue. (Some kind of sexism here.) By old custom, if a male sleeps with a respectable female, she is his wife and he has to marry her. (After he rapes the female lead, the male lead might tell her he'll "take responsibility," which pisses the female lead off, of course.)
- If there is a transgendered or homosexual character, he/she is usually used as comedic relief.
- Did I forget anything else? I know I did.
Synopsis of lakorns I've seen, skimmed, want to see, or have not finished:
All summaries are from memory (that's why you don't have the character's names.) Most I have provided the opening credits of the lakorn. I like to watch opening/ending credits of lakorns. :D It's like a teaser in itself. Summed up, the stories seem very interesting.
FIRST LAKORN I SAW UN-DUBBED/UN-CUT AND MADE ME CRAVE LAKORNS:
Leads: P'ek: Patson - N'ek: Earn Jirawan
Opening song on u-tube. Embedding disabled.
(opening song of the lakorn, sung by Earn Jirawan just because)
N'ek is a parentless/abandoned child who lives with two brothers (not blood related) in Hong Kong. They pick pocket for a living. When P'ek comes to Hong Kong for a business meeting/transaction, his wallet is picked by N'ek. N'ek, being a good person though, takes the money but wants to return his wallet.
At the same time, P'ek becomes the target of a hired assassin. In an alley when P'ek fights back against the assassin, he gets hit in the eyes and becomes blind. N'ek, searching for him so she could return his wallet, comes in time to rescue him. Because he is blind, she takes P'ek under her care, but P'ek doesn't know that she was the one who stole his wallet. They become attached to each other.
Later, P'ek comes across an acquaintance who takes him back to Thailand, and he has a surgery/transplant to restore his vision. Not knowing this, N'ek and her second brother leaves Hong Kong in search of him. She cross dresses as a boy for safety reasons. Thus, P'ek eventually comes across N'ek cross dressed as a boy. Although she recognizes him, he doesn't. Their story of secrets and misunderstanding continue. Additionally, the hired assassin have not given up on his target P'ek yet. But who hired him?
I love the opening song sung by the female lead. In fact, I'm still addicted to it. Patson was probably my first love, btw. LOL. I remember rewatching this opening over and over and over when I was young. This lakorn is very old. There were no "english subs" (no internet, for that matter) so my mother translated for me. I remembering falling asleep somewhere towards the middle-end because we watched the whole drama straight. This might not actually be a great lakorn, but my liking of it is skewed by childhood and it being my first.
LAKORN I RECEIVED BY MISTAKE INSTEAD OF THE ONE I RENTED:
Leads: P'ek: Aum - N'ek: Margie
P'ek is traumatized by his past: his beloved girlfriend whom he had proposed to committed suicide in front of him, and he never knew why she killed herself. Years later, he meets the young N'ek who is the daughter of his mother's friend. She is fresh, innocent, and sweet. P'ek is both kind and condescending to her. He dislikes that his mother, N'ek's mother, and his sister is trying to set him up with N'ek despite the fact that he is still very hung up on his deceased girlfriend.
When one day, P'ek and N'ek gets into a car accident because of his own rashness, the properly-raised P'ek decides to take responsibility for N'ek and decides to marry her. As she admired P'ek, N'ek eventually agrees to his proposal. Yet, on their wedding day a girl who looked very similar to P'ek's deceased girlfriend appears. She turns out to be the deceased girlfriend's younger sister who is the spitting image of her, and she has designs on the recently married P'ek. How will the marriage between P'ek and N'ek fare?
And did P'ek's deceased girlfriend commit suicide or had she been murdered?
I rented a different lakorn and was given this one, raged because I didn't know Margie and I didn't like Aum (was not a fan of Jam Loey Rak) and then I turned out to love this lakorn so very very very much! Thus, began my adoration of Aum and his ability to exude charisma. I still think it was fate I was handed the wrong series. Of course, this lakorn gave me a lot of frustration, but the ending was worth it. Aum's decision, more than anything, was worth it.
LAKORN THAT BROUGHT ME BACK TO LOVING NUM & MY USED-TO-BE FAVORITE LAKORN:
Leads: P'ek: Num - N'ek: Donut
P'ek wants the love of his stepmother who loves only her blood son, P'ek's younger brother. Thus, P'ek will do almost anything for her love. When it is found out that N'ek, a singer at the mother's cabaret club, has an affliation with the younger son, the mother asks P'ek to deceptively steal the girl away. She thinks her younger son is too good for N'ek, but cares not for P'ek. However, P'ek refuses because he knows that his younger brother loves the girl.
Undetered, the mother hires goons to kidnap and rape N'ek. P'ek happens to see the kidnapping and rescues N'ek who had been knocked unconscious. Unfortunately, N'ek wakes up and accuses P'ek of having kidnapped her instead. Faced with this accusation, P'ek knows he will face charges if he returns N'ek to her home or his younger brother. He whisks N'ek away to a cottage in the forest and keeps her prisoner there.
When unable to figure out what else to do, P'ek informs his mother of his rash decision. Ecstatic, the mother forces P'ek to keep N'ek prisoner until her younger son marries the rich lady she has set him up with, and she threatens to turn her older son in if he doesn't obey. Thus, P'ek keeps N'ek prisoner at the cottage and pretends to be viciously evil. He, of course, begins to care for her although she cannot see that. Wanting to follow his mother's orders, in love with N'ek, and knowing that she loves his younger brother instead, what will P'ek do to his prisoner?
I found Num again! That was my sentiment when I saw this movie, because I had seen him in something else before and thought I had lost track of him forever. My stanning of him came back full force when I finished this lakorn. It has a lot of faults and I CANNOT overlook the polygamy (not the p'ek though), but I still love this lakorn very much. The only setback was that Donut barely saw Num's kindness (although he was mean, no doubt).
LAKORN KNEW THROUGH THE KARAOKE VCD, FELL FOR THE MAIN COUPLE, AND WANTED TO SEE:
Leads: P'ek: Oil - N'ek: Noon
N'ek is a princess who was forced to flee as a child when a relative tries to usurp her father. She grows up as a commoner under the care of people who do not know her true identity.
One day, N'ek meets the dance-singing troupe that is traveling across the country to perform. P'ek is the star of this troupe and he has fallen for N'ek at first sight. However, the son of the troupe's head is also in love with N'ek, and worse, this son wants P'ek's star position.
I only saw the beginning of this lakorn, unsubbed and untranslated so I may be wrong at some parts. But in any case, I am a big fan of the karaoke vcd and Oil's songs. I became Oil's fan through only this much. After reading the spoiler of the ending though, I won't watch this lakorn.
LAKORN THAT IS MY SECOND FAVORITE OF ALL TIME:
Leads: P'ek: Oil - N'ek: Kwan
N'ek is a reporter who messes up a story about P'ek's father. Although she apologizes, P'ek does not believe in her sincerity and continues to hate her. His hatred/misunderstanding is fueled by the fact that the mistress of his girlfriend's father is N'ek's sister. P'ek thinks N'ek and N'ek's sister have no shame.
Meanwhile, P'ek's mother is living in the asylum and feigns mental illness. She abhors all men because of her husband, P'ek's father, having cheated on her repeatedly when they were a younger. The mother latches on to N'ek when she finds out that N'ek is a strong willed girl who will not allow men to trample over her. She blackmails her son to marry N'ek, the only girl she wants as a daugther-in-law, or she threatens to never return home otherwise. Pressured also by his father who wants his wife home, P'ek reluctantly marries the bane of his life, N'ek.
But he vows to divorce N'ek after three months in order to marry his beloved girlfriend. The problem is, after marrying N'ek, P'ek starts to become attached to her. What will P'ek do when he is pressured from both sides by his girlfriend and his mother, and will he let N'ek go?
I watched this lakorn for Oil. My liking for him had also waned at this time, but it came back strongly. The cute/entertaining squabbles and arguments between Oil and Kwan were the best parts of the whole lakorn. I also tolerated this lakorn because, for once, the bad characters were not ahead. Oil's mother was the best character. You gotta love her. This series is my second favorite of all time for a reason. I love when the P'ek makes his own decisions at the end (because they usually don't) and when the N'ek continues to be strong.
LAKORN THAT I LOVED AT FIRST AND NOW SEE A LOT OF FAULTS WITH, BUT STILL KIND OF LIKE:
Leads: P'ek: Win Tawin - N'ek: Kwan
Woranut loves money and seduces the younger son of a wealthy business man. The man knowing that she is manipulative, greedy, and evil, offers her millions of money to leave when his son goes overseas for a business trip. At this time, Woranut is also pregnant and the man promises to ensure that she gets child support money for the rest of her life. Unfortunately, Woranut miscarries a few months later. She steals the newborn baby of her friend and runs because she needs the child support money (she is a gambler and spends recklessly).
Years later, the man dies in a car accident with his two sons. His inheritance is split between his grandson (P'ek), who was the child of his older son, and his granddaughter Woranut's child. N'ek, the stolen baby, does not know that she is not truly P'ek's cousin. She is in dire need of money because of her reckless mother being jailed and goes to claim her inheritance. Because she also has a claim on the mansion, she and her family eventually moves in to live with P'ek when they are kicked out of their living quarters. Living together in one house, P'ek hates N'ek even more.
Yet, he unwittingly starts to fall for her despite the fact that she is his first cousin (though they do not know that they are not) and are distrustful of each other. Will they ever find out the truth? And what of Woranut who creates misunderstanding between P'ek and N'ek so she could get P'ek for her younger blood daughter?
It was cute at first. This was my introduction to Kwan and Tawin. Unsurprisingly, I started stanning Tawin very hard after this. When other P'ek's are usually tall, strong, and charismatic, Tawin was very youthful and boy-ish. The bad characters always had the upper hand in this one though, and it got really frustrating after a while. Plus, Kwan's character started becoming weak towards the middle, and that became annoying. She allowed her evil mother to manipulate her too many times. Ignorant and gullible characters are exasperating. The only saving part was that despite Tawin not trusting or believing Kwan, he still protected and stood up for her when necessary.
LAKORN I WATCHED BECAUSE OF TAWIN AND REALIZED HE WASN'T THAT GREAT:
Leads: P'ek: Win Tawin - N'ek: Pinky
Second Leads: Kelly - Amy
P'ek and N'ek are half-siblings but they do not know that they are actually not blood-related at all. P'ek was the son of his father's first wife and N'ek was the daughter of a woman the father rescued and decided to take responsibility for. Since they had been raised separately, P'ek and N'ek meet again years later in Dew Palace, the mansion/estate of their father, and the father wants them to marry. They eventually learn that they are not blood related, but P'ek rejects his father's wishes because he has a girlfriend he loves. When his girlfriend arrives at Dew Palace but goes missing, he blames N'ek for driving her away.
But as he looks for his missing girlfriend, P'ek starts to fall in love with N'ek. He also starts to learn the history of Dew Palace as he had been raised away from his father's estate. N'ek's mother alledgedly committed suicide on the cliff. It seems that her spirit is coming back to haunt the inhabitants of Dew Palace.
Could her ghost have been the cause of P'ek's girlfriend's disappearance? And what about the former servant who went insane when she saw N'ek's mother commit suicide? Was it really suicide?
The second leads stood out more. Their characters were more powerful and easier to like. While I thought Tawin matched his role as a son to the last detail, he couldn't hold his own as the lead male in the series. I was not a fan of Pinky but I watched this for Tawin. In the end, I think she's really pretty. Her clothing throughout the lakorn was short sleeves and shorts, so I thought she must have been cold a lot of times though, despite that it could actually be hot when filming. But Pinky's character was gullible and annoying. Her friend, Amy, was smart and warned her a lot of times, but Pinky threw the warnings in the wind because she was the nice girl who wouldn't suspect anyone.
LAKORN THAT IS MY FAVORITE AND WILL ALWAYS BE:
Leads: P'ek: Paul - N'ek: Noon
N'ek's family name have fallen into degradation after her parent's death because of shady dealings, but she knows otherwise. She knows her parents were framed and murdered (their car was tampered with). She sets her sights on P'ek's father who is a politician. N'ek confronts P'ek and blackmails him into marrying her by threatening to reveal dirt on his father's name. Her evidence is stored in a locked site and she will give him the password if he marries her. Hacking might allow the information to leak, so P'ek does as N'ek wishes with the promise that she won't tell anyone, including his girlfriend. N'ek agrees and after signing the marriage certificate, she moves in to live with P'ek in a separate wing of the estate, unknown to his parents or anyone else.
In truth, N'ek does not have any dirt on P'ek's father, but she knows there is. Thus, she had resorted to her last plan. That is, getting as close to her enemy as possible. While living on P'ek's premises, she seeks the evidence that she needs to clear her parents' name, of which P'ek's father and accomplice had conspired to destroy.
Running out of time, N'ek also has to deal with P'ek who is unhappy with her and that she refuses to give him the full password to the site. But her mission, and P'ek's mission to dismiss her out of his home, becomes difficult when they begin to develop affection for one another.
I didn't know Paul, but Noon was and is still my favorite actress. But, unsurprisingly, I came to like Paul so very very much, that he might have become my favorite actor. Most of his characters are playful, and that goes very well with him. I also like him for the fact that he was a righteous and strong character, less gullible, like Noon. This main couple shone beautifully together. Paul and Noon were intelligent and did not always allow the bad guys to have the upper hand. This lakorn is my utmost favorite for a good reason. While it was still cliche, the characters were not weak and waiting for luck or help. The squabbles between P'ek and N'ek were also cute and entertaining.
And then there's a bunch of other lakorns that I won't mention here because this have already gotten too long.