Criminal Minds USA vs Criminal Minds Korea: The Comparison

I’ve come a long way as a Criminal Minds fan ever since my 14 year old self stumbled across an episode of the first season airing on my local channel. In most ways, I consider the BAU team a part of my family so, when I heard that Korea was doing a remake of the series for their own network; I immediately went, ‘Oh, hell nawwww.

It’s not that I have anything against remakes. Some remakes are wonderful but there are some that just kinda seem to have miss their mark. So, after having seen the first 3 episodes of Criminal Minds Korea (which is currently airing on the cable channel tvN), I have a sufficient feel of the series to deliver my verdict.

I. STRUCTURE & PLOT.

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Credit: tvN

As Korean dramas go, we are rarely treated to a continuing series of a particular title. Almost all of the Korean dramas produced are based off a one-time story line that plays out in 50-60 mins spanning a 20-30 episodic run. The time duration that the Koreans had was looking good for a possible replication of the American ‘one case per episode’ scenario but it wasn’t the case. Instead of wrapping up the case in one episode, it was dragged into the next episode; taking up about 3/4 of the episode duration.

In terms of the cases, they were similar. CMK’s first investigation was into The Seattle Strangler. However, in place of the FBI, we have the NCI – National Criminal Investigation. Unlike the usual protocol whereby the BAU needs to be called in to assist, it seems like the NCI picks up cases that cross their radar and comes in to take the case from the local police station.

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Credit: CBS

Now, to fans of the original CM like me, CMK is a lot more dramatic with dull moments that added to the already slow build-up of the series. While I can understand that it may have been done intentionally with the idea of properly introducing the concept of criminal profilers to a culturally different audience, I felt that they could have followed CM’s structure in delivering the summary of the concept before the introduction of the characters. Their effort in trying to introduce the characters amidst the plot felt unnecessarily long-winded which often overshadowed the situation at hand. It somehow seemed like time wasn’t a key factor for their team – something that the BAU in CM takes priority in.

Another thing that was jarringly present in the series was the lack of proper character development. While my initial thought was of CMK being a remake of CM’s season 1, I was pretty surprised when The Reaper made an appearance, becoming the next major development in episode 3. Since there wasn’t a proper lead-up to this big fish, the introduction of the Reaper felt lackluster and a tad bit rushed.

It’s alright to pick and choose cases to replicate for CMK. But it isn’t right to jump to one of the most antagonizing unsubs in CM history this quick.

II. CHARACTERS.

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Credit: Criminal Minds Fanatic Blogspot

CM’s characters are the heart of the show. Alongside the cases they encounter, each tend to have a sort of personal connection with the victims and unsubs they face. And what really worked with the characters was the unity they bring whenever they all share a scene.

While it had been fun trying to guess which were the Asian counterparts of the BAU, it was disappointing to see the disjointed feel of the team and how some portrayals didn’t live up to the traits of the original characters.

*The following are my guesses of which personality they are assuming from the OG Criminal Minds. May or may not be accurate.

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Credit: tvN

Kang Ki Hyung aka Asian Jason Gideon / Aaron Hotchner

It was pretty obvious from the get-go that Kang could be our unit chief, Aaron Hotchner. From his calm demeanor to the eyebrows game, we were looking at a pretty decent Asian counterpart. But, it turns out that he seems to be a blend of two characters (Gideon & Hotchner) in one.

Similar to Gideon, Kang suffers PTSD after dealing with the Korean version of The Boston Shrapnel Bomber where he assumed responsibility for the loss of 4 men from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal. He goes off sabbatical (or medical leave) to teach Criminal Profiling. He is asked to come back to the unit when their version of The Seattle Strangler surfaces. Kang’s embodiment of Hotchner comes in his role as the unit chief (or team manager as they call it in Korea), and his seemingly happy family life (Hotchner had that in the beginning).

Portraying Kang, Son Hyun Joo, who had been cast for this role seems to be the best out of the rest of the team. Perhaps it’s to do with him being a seasoned actor in Korea but at least his expression and mannerisms were on-par with the character he was playing. His dramatic moments were not over-the-top and felt just right to elicit the reaction needed from the audience.

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Credit: tvN

Ha Sun Woo aka Asian Aaron Hotchner / Elle Greenway

This is the only character that still has me baffled. While Ha seems to embody the bad-assery we’ve seen in Elle, she’s also portrayed the mannerisms of a calm and serious Hotchner. I’m not sure if this was what CMK was aiming for but if it isn’t their intention, then the character is lacking some serious personality.

Portraying Ha, Moon Chae Won seems to be the only one that almost always uses the same sort of expression. She felt a lot like the Kristen Stewart of Korea with her few expressions that always seems hard to interpret. While she may be another seasoned actress in her own right, it seems like the complexity of this role may be hindering her performance in one way or another.

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Credit: tvN

Kim Hyun Joon aka Asian Derek Morgan / Elle Greenway

Despite the basic similarity of Morgan’s explosive expertise and being employed by the police before the big leagues, Kim’s character had more striking character traits with Elle especially with the rash behavior. And, similar to her situation, Kim is also given the chance to join the NCI team, filling the remaining spot on the team.

As a widely renowned actor, Lee Joon Ki’s portrayal of Kim often sees him stealing the scenes from his fellow co-stars; which leads it into a rather precarious position of becoming an idol drama. In scenes like these, the
disjointed feel of the team can be felt which definitely loses the ‘team effect’ that CMK is trying to replicate. At one point, I felt like it was Kim Hyun Joon and the NCI team.

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Credit: tvN

Lee Han aka Asian Spencer Reid

Lee Han, or ‘Korean Reid’ is almost similar to Reid sans the personality. And I feel that this is very much to do with the actor portraying Lee. Often, instead of delivering his lines with depth and the endearing awkward mannerisms of Reid, Go Yoon portrays Lee like an automated fact robot devoid of feelings. His understanding of the character seemed very much a surface thing which gave an annoying vibe instead of an endearing vibe. The Dr. Reid that we know and love definitely wasn’t a nerd with a blank expression – which Go seemed to think was how the character functions 99% of the time. I particularly disliked the scene where he used his gloved hands to touch his chin while they were at the crime scene. No one in the BAU does that. No one in the real police force does that unless they want to contaminate evidence.

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Credit: tvN

Yoo Min Young aka Asian Jennifer ‘J.J’ Jareau

While Yoo and JJ were similar in most ways, I felt that Yoo wasn’t really given much time to shine. As I’ve mentioned before, the characters seem to find a very hard time coming together as a team and in most cases, characters like Yoo become overshadowed by the other characters. Even when they did give Yoo a somewhat featured role of importance in the remake of the case on the train (aka Derailed, S01E09 – which was originally meant to be Elle), she once again blends into the background.

I’m not really sure how I feel about their choosing of Lee Sun Bin to play Yoo but as my assumption is leaning towards the ‘just-another-pretty-face’ reason. Yes, J.J. is super pretty but there is more to her character than just being pleasing to the eye.

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Credit: tvN

Na Na Hwang aka Asian Penelope Garcia

Loud accessories ✔
Colorful glasses and brightly colored clothing ✔
Decorated computer room with personality ✔
Quirky personality ✘

I applaud CMK for their attempt at the very fun-loving and quirky Garcia. But they definitely fell short in the personality department. Her Korean counterpart, portrayed by Yoo Sun, definitely tried her hardest in recreating the speech identifiers of the OG Garcia but it all came out differently. Instead of the endearing aspect, I get the overcompensating ditsy effect. I can see that Yoo is trying her best to do justice to Garcia but her portrayal could stand to gain if she dropped the over-excited reaction by a notch or two.

III. THE ISSUE WITH DERAILED

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Credit: tvN

Like I’ve mentioned before, the heart of the show is essentially the BAU team which I’ve come to love over the course of the series. And, with Reid being my favorite character, I was particularly peeved with the remake of ‘Derailed’ in CMK which lasted less than 30 mins of the 1-hour episode.

Aside from the alarmingly short duration of the case, they had changed the agent who went onto the train to assist in defusing the situation. What was meant to be a case that led to a better understanding of Spencer Reid in CM;
became an opportunity for the newly-minted NCI agent to show off his skills in CMK. The switch-up made the case feel very much like a filler and I was utterly annoyed with the lines they gave Korean Reid to recite after the apprehension of the unsub.

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Credit: CBS

Reid didn’t tell anyone about his mother or his worry about becoming a paranoid schizophrenic until Season 2, Episode 1 where he confides in Garcia. So the decision to summarize Korean Reid’s mother and mental health worry into just 3 lines in CMK was frustrating to me. They managed to take a complex character and downplayed it so much that their version of Reid seemed like an awkward block of wood with a high IQ.

Kudos CMK. You managed to make me dislike a character that I would have otherwise loved in this remake.

IV. CONCLUSION

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Credit: tvN

Despite the many glaring differences that would make any CM fan (like me) grimace, CMK does have elaborate settings that isn’t confined within the studios; which had me wondering what was the budget for the series..

Ultimately, CMK still pales in comparison with the slow pace, poorly constructed episode structure and almost non-existent character development. While CM provides the excitement and anticipation in every episode, CMK loses these essential factors which made Criminal Minds the success it is today.

As I mentioned previously, Korean dramas rarely have a case-by-case episode and I guess they are not going to start that trend anytime soon. With that said, it’s pretty clear that CMK is not my bowl of kimchi. I’ll continue to watch the upcoming episodes though they’d have to work doubly hard to impress me.

Until then, my profile remains as it is – Criminal Minds USA for the win.

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Credit: Criminal Minds Fans

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5 Things I Should Have Said

Job interviews – Love it or hate it, we’ve all got to go through it at some point in our lives.

Sitting in the interview room, there’s always a moment of silence where we all pray that whoever comes in through that door next would be a pleasant interviewer. The last thing we want adding to our already anxious situation is a nasty interviewer that is out to make your following 20 minutes or more a living nightmare.

Well, sometimes life hands you a punnet of sweet, juicy strawberries only to stomp them into pulp right before your eyes.

Yes, ladies and gents, I sat through the worst job interview of my young adult life to which I felt like an unknowing participant being critiqued by a very catty RuPaul panel. While I can’t say that I had defended myself like I wanted to, I now know that I should have just stood up and quote Katy Perry – ‘Swish Swish, bish.’.

Now, before we begin, here’s a little background. The job interview I went for was for the role of a Digital Marketing Executive. It was with a tourism board for a country that rhymes with a long gong. Though my respect for this tourism board was thrown out of the 34th floor window they’re set up on, I still love the country they represent and it will still remain my ideal vacation destination. There were 2 interviewers who conducted the interview. One was a fairly neutral representative while the other thought she was a real housewife interviewing a lowly person for the position of housekeeper.

Though I can’t re-do what’s already passed, here are the 5 things that had me wishing I had done something instead of being afraid to offend them (since they clearly had no mutual respect).

1. She enters the interview room with such an unhappy expression that I thought someone stole the last donut she wanted.

What I wanted to say: Well, look who woke up the wrong side of the bed. I’m sorry hunny, am I making you waste precious time to interview me? Don’t take it out on me – take it up with your HR executive.

What I should have said: Hi, is this a bad time for the interview? Perhaps I could come back another day that is suitable.

2. Wrongly states my duration at my job to which I politely corrected her. She condescendingly replies: Oh-so you’ve been with your current job just 2 years… well, it’s not like it’s 20 years.”

What I wanted to say: How ’bout that! You CAN count! If anybody stays in their job for 20 years, they won’t be looking around for an executive job. Besides, isn’t it your responsibility to state the facts from the resume correctly?

What I should have said: Though 2 years isn’t 20 years, an enthusiastic attitude is not something that can be defined by time.

3. After I explain the similarities between my current position and the position that they’re hiring. As if I annoyed her a GREAT deal, she replies: “Yeah, yours is just 1 market. Ours is 5 markets in the region.”

What I wanted to say: Yes, I think I heard your colleague loud and clear. Calm yourself lady. I am not saying that your ‘5 markets’ are so small that I can handle it easily. I’m merely saying that I have experience in working with in-house teams. It’s not my fault you’ve already created your own judgement before actually interviewing me with an open mind.

What I should have said: Yes, I understand that. But I am merely stating the similarities in the process.

4. Frowning is the new black, or at least for the entire time she was interviewing me.

What I wanted to do: Stand up from my seat and say, “Bye Felicia.”

What I should have done: Look at her directly and said. “This obviously isn’t a good time to conduct the interview and I feel that whatever transpires here will not be treated seriously. As such, I think it’s best that we continue this at a more preferable time.”

5. Condescending tone whenever she talks to me. Disrespecting me as a human being with her incredibly judgmental descriptions. Wait a minute – am I here for an interview or here to be critiqued by someone who doesn’t know me?

What I wanted to say: Hey miss, I think you better check your attitude at the door. If you think I am SO under-qualified for this job, you could politely inform me. Or, better yet, screen my resume AGAIN before calling me down for the interview! Don’t make it seem like I dragged you out from your cubicle or office and forced you to interview me. It is highly unprofessional on your part as your higher than thou personality is not for your place of work.

What I should have said: I’m sorry but I would like to end this interview. I do not appreciate being talked down and disrespected as a candidate. I will withdraw my interest in this position.

With that said, this is definitely an unpleasant lesson that I learnt which did open my eyes to certain companies and their interview procedure. Though some might argue that this isn’t the worse they’ve heard about, this definitely threw me off my game.

If you talk to me like a haughty rich lady would to a Chanel retail assistant during an interview, you can keep the position and shove it up where the sun don’t shine.

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Thoughts on the Manchester Arena Explosion

After reading about the horrifying incident in Manchester, I needed to get this off my chest and apologies to anyone who might get offended or annoyed with me for this!

Going to a concert is meant to be a fun thing to do with your friends and family.

When have events that were meant to be memorable become a weapon against humanity? What has made the human race so hateful against one another that devious ideas such as these are thought up to bring harm to people? At the end of the day, what is achieved? Instant vengeance? A few weeks of notoriety? A supposed acceptance of superiority?

While there are a million excuses a hateful human being can come up with to defend their actions, one thing is certain – innocent lives are taken and ruined in the process.

Knowing that majority of the concert-goers were pre-teens, teens and young adults, it got me thinking about how the young ones would handle this traumatic experience.

I’m a 26 year old living in Asia and I cannot even bring myself to imagine how it would have felt to be 12 again in a horrific scenario such as this. What had meant to be a fun night to remember is suddenly turned into a night that can’t be forgotten. I’ve seen photos on Twitter of young concert-goers who had blood on their shirt and hair. The amount of shock and fear these young ones had to experience is simply unimaginable.

I love attending concerts as they’ve always been a magical and memorable experience. To see experiences like this taken as a target of attack for hateful beings to radicalize their beliefs makes me absolutely disgusted. No child, woman or man should have to have their experience sullied by another human being who values the right to hurt others.

My heart goes out to all who have been affected in this horrifying incident.

Recuperate and stand strong.

Do not let a person or group’s reprehensible actions forever change the way you experience life.

Do not apologize or be guilty for having fun on a night out.

Do not let the perpetrator’s dastardly deed be the barrier between you and life’s offers.

Stay strong guys; the world is with you.

PSA: There are posters of the Fantastic Beasts for the film!

Having seen the film, I bet all of us are wondering why the Fantastic Beasts didn’t get their chance at gracing the posters, right? They practically stole the show!

As if knowing these beasts were going to be even more popular than the human characters, China had six posters were created by artist Zhang Chun, for the film. Inspired by 工笔 or ‘gongbi’, the posters were created using a realist Chinese painting technique that involves highly detailed brushstrokes.

The result are these exquisite-looking posters showcasing the 6 brilliant beasts from the film: Niffler, Demiguise, Bowtruckle, Occamy, Thunderbird & Swooping Evil.

Now to get my hands on a physical copy…