Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Cliff’s ultimate guide to Korean Drama TV (kdramas)

It all started with watching ‘parasite’. We loved it. So much in fact, that I looked at what Korean TV dramas were available on Netflix. That got us hooked, and now I would say probably 75% of my TV viewing is Korean dramas on netflix. I’ve watched a LOT of them, and they are long….. and some are better than others. Here is my much delayed ultimate guide to how to get into korean dramas.


I’ve never watched squid game. I don’t like dark, or violent or ‘harrowing’ TV. If you loved squid game and want more of the same, I cannot help you. The kind of drama I like is very very low-stakes. Think downton abbey with noodles. There are no exploding helicopters or torture scenes. Although some of the dinner-table arguments in some kdramas are a sort of mental torture I guess…


Do you have Misophonia? Its a fear/hatred of the sounds of people eating, specifically slurping. If so. Just stop reading here. Its culturally totally accepted for people to make loud slurping noises when eating and drinking in Korea. Its expected. I’ve sat through hours of people slurping noodles noisely. You have been warned.

Does workplace bullying trigger you? If so, you may also want to quit now. There are constant themes of workplace bullying in Korean dramas. I dont mean passive-aggressive emails, I mean people physically assaulting subordinates in an office and yelling abuse in their faces. Super common. Its kinda shocking.

There is no sex and almost no violence. Thats likely a positive but some people will find Korean dramas laughably tame. I’m sticking with my ‘downton abbey with noodles’ theme. The EMOTIONAL power of the best of the series is exceptional, but I am yet to see an exploding helicopter.


KDramas do some weird things that western dramas just DO NOT DO. For example, if someone smiles in some of the lighter dramas, and its supposed to be cute, don’t be shocked to see some added emojis and cartoon graphics appear on screen. Its a thing. Also, don’t be surprised if, the first time we see a good looking young man, he is walking in slow motion with his own theme song. Yup, thats a thing too. Oh and there will be an enormous amount of bowing, of drinking soju, a lot of people printing documents and shredding and scanning documents, a lot of late night drinking in bars that are seemingly tents, and a staggering amount of discussion of school homework.


People who have only watched one KDrama apart from squid game have watched this one. I almost skipped it, because the premise was so stupid: Fashion designer and daughter of billionaire accidentally skydives into North Korea’. Seriously? Although apparently this is more common that you might think. Anyway… this is a really good one. Its a romance, but its the most ‘action’ of all the dramas listed here. There are actual chases! on a motorbike! someone fires a gun!

CLOY (as its known) is a typically epic story about the repercussions of a wealthy families daughter ending up in North Korea. Its a very clever intertwined romance that involves a bunch of people, multiple families, a lot of history, a cover-up and conspiracy, corruption, and lots more. You might *think* at the start that its a lightweight comedy, but its actually got more depth than you think. Its also got a superb cast.

CLOY plays heavily with the hilarity of a wealthy fashion celeb who finds herself stuck in a peasant village, where only 4 different state-sanctioned hairstyles are permitted, and everything she tells people about her life is dismissed as ‘southern propaganda’. The North Korean soldiers who find her are often hilarious. CLOY got some grief for not depicting North Korean life as harshly as it maybe should have, which is fair, but its a comedy and a romance, not a documentary. Its long, but worth the effort. I’ve watched the whole thing twice.


Do you think parents put too much pressure on their kids to do well at school? HAHAHAHA. You might think that, but unless you are an upper-middle class South Korean mother, you are absolutely kidding. This drama shows you what REAL pressure on kids is like, and this is a common theme in many kdramas. South Korean kids have a staggeringly high suicide rate, and when you watch this series you will understand why. Oh. My. God.

Like all the best kdramas, the first few episodes of Sky castle make you think you know how its all going to go. ‘Ok, so its about all these elite families and the lengths they go to in order to get their kids to the top of the class right?’ But it goes way further, and into way more into depth than you expect. Characters that you think you know all about very definitely turn out to have more depth. It also has some really superb performances, and is very, very emotional. I don’t have kids, and I’m massively affected by watching this. Its maybe a bit long, and some of the more lightweight plots, to do with the day jobs (mostly as doctors) of the parents can seem a bit ‘meh’ compared to the fairly dark and serious stuff, but I massively recommend this. It probably has the most jaw-open OMG moments of any kdrama


Not for everyone. Its unusual. EAW is about Koreas first attorney who is diagnosed as autistic. I REALLY like it. It handles it very well, although the lead character is probably a bit of a media-cliche of someone with autism. On the surface, again like all kdramas, its a simple premise: Young attorney Woo starts her first ever job, and learns to navigate the work environment, and make new friends. However, over time, you realize there is a lot of backstory and bigger, more serious plot also playing out in the background.

The thing that really makes this special for me is the way in which they portray an autistic character as being openly, proudly and specifically autistic. There is none of this ‘shes a bit different’ or ‘thats just how she is I guess’ coded bullshit. She even introduces herself as autistic to the jury. Its really nicely done. I warn you that its one of those ‘wacky’ kdramas that is not afraid of cartoon sound effects and other silliness. Whenever Woo ‘cracks a case’ she gets visions of dolphins and her hair is blown back the wind. Yes really.

Woo also has some really great performances. Specifically, her immediate boss does a brilliant job of navigating from arrogant and work-obsessed lawyer who hates the idea of woo in the office, to understanding, to friendship, and eventually to becoming a really likable character. Unlike the other shows listed here, Woo is very episodic. Each episode in a case, and the over-arching drama/romance is secondary.


This one is SO HARD to describe without it sounding boring, or unfocused. It is however, excellent, and probably has the best acting out of all these ones listed here, plus some great writing. The main star was also in Parasite, as the rich man, if that helps at all. Its really hard to explain the plot… but basically its about a family of 3 brothers, and how they are coping at a certain point in their life. One had a business fail, and is now unemployed and living back with the mother. Another is a once super-cool, but now failed movie director, also stuck at home with the mother. The third, and the ‘star’ is working as a structural engineer for a massive company, and it seems like the plot is basically going to be about an attempt to force him out of his job…

My mister is LONG, and pretty dark, but its well worth the effort. It genuinely makes you feel for the characters, and you get to know so much about them. It has a unique mood, thats very carefully crafted, and really draws you in. Some of the characters are better than others, and the villains evil sidekick is *probably* funny on some level in Korea, but he just comes across as an over-the-top buffoon. Where My Mister really shines is the chemistry between the two stars. You *think* that this is going to be some sort of office romance between them… then you think ‘hell no, its a corruption/blackmail/stalking thing?’ and then your perspective on it changes again and again.

My Mister has a big cast, and it doesn’t exactly race by. There is a LOT of drunken banter, a lot of slow moody scenes of people walking home in the dark, a lot of scenes of people loading and unloading paper into photocopiers… but its all awesome. What My Mister does really well is the philosophizing of the main characters. These are not people just slinging out snappy one-liners. There is a lot of deep introspection about life, what matters, whats important, emotions, and relationships. Its probably the best written kdrama in this list. Its also big on office politics. Which leads us to…


Dont ask me about the titles. Who knows how this happens… Anyway, this is an office drama. Like all Korean dramas, the focus of every single employee in these massive conglomerates is 100% on how they can screw over people in another department. Its amazing that ANYTHING gets made in Korea. All of the staff are constantly fighting with other departments. Its almost comical.

Misaeng is basically about an intern at some big company. He is unusual in that he has very few qualifications, and has thus got he job through ‘connections’ (a common angry theme in kdramas). He is a one time professional baduk (Korean ‘go’, basically) player, who couldn’t make it full time, so suddenly has to refocus and get an office job. Sounds pretty tame?

Misaeng was one of the first series we watched, so I was a bit shocked by how long it is, how AWFUL the workplace environment is for interns in a korean office, and all the other culture shock stuff, like the extreme, extreme deference to superiors at work (not at all unusual for everyone to stand and bow if the manager walks into the room). I also found myself constantly thinking ‘What the hell does this company even DO?’, but all of that is secondary to the relationships between the people in the tiny department it focuses on.

I guess ultimately misaeng is about friendships at work, and how people rely on one another, and get to know one another. Its amazing watching it a second time, because you see your first impressions of almost everyone are so wrong. You end up REALLY rooting for the manager of this small team, and really caring about them when things dont go their way. Be warned: if watching a billion hours of people answering the phone and writing reports and fetching coffee is going to kill you, then probably don’t get started with this one :D.


This one is DEFINITELY an acquired taste. Its super weird, but for some reason I found it absolutely hilarious. It REALLY piles on the wacky sound effects and crazy camera tricks, but it does it with such style… Its basically the story of a lawyer who has a reputation for never, ever, ever losing a case, and who is famously obsessed with money (or is he?). Due to a hilarious translation, his nickname is ‘monster pervert’, but you have to just mentally ignore that, because its clearly gone a bit wrong there…

Anyway, I LOVE the main character, he was obviously born to play this role. He excels at pulling the most amazingly smug expressions every time he inexplicably wins a case and things go his way. His assistant, a man obviously styled on Batman’s ‘Alfred’ is also good value. Some of the other characters can be over-the-top and annoying, but its worth it for those scenes where Ko Tae Rim goes into one of his rapid fire nonsensical monologues that win over the jury.


Trust me, these are the best 6. I’ve watched a load more, including Startup, Strongest Deliveryman, Our Blues, Revolutionary Love, Crash Course in Romance and likely more I cant remember. If you want something closest to a western drama in style, its probably Crash landing. If you want excellent writing, its My Mister. For light hearted fun, Legal High or Attorney Woo. Sky Castle is tough to watch but worth it. Misaeng will make you glad you arent an office worker in Korea.

Solar farm progress update: Pre-installation

So, it turns out there has not been a proper solar farm update since this one, back when we finally got the planning permission. It probably feels like nothing has happened since, which is more accurate than you might think, but stuff is changing much faster now, so time for an update!

For anyone new to the blog, I own a small company that is building a 1.2MWp solar farm in England as a side-project to making video games. 1.2MWp is tiny by solar farm standards, but it will power 300 homes, so its not *that* tiny. This is the first time I’ve ever got involved in any sort of ‘infrastructure’ project, so I’m learning as I go along…

I knew back in October when we got permission, that nothing was going to happen straight away, because any construction site that is in that part of England, in winter, in the rain and the mud and the rain and also in the rain… is basically untenable. I can not remember the exact number of large truckloads of equipment we need to get to this field, but I know its more like 30 than 20. Put that together with all the manpower that has to get there, and its just going to be an absolute mudslide of horrific proportions. When I first visited the site, the landowner met me on a quadbike, and I can see why…

(Imagine this…but with a thousand billion times more rain and mud)

Anyway, there was a lot of other stuff that needed doing before we actually stick things in the ground, so there has actually been some non-visible progress. Most of the progress was, sadly, in things I didn’t even know we needed.

The contractor who will build (and likely operate/maintain) the solar farm basically builds an array of low voltage (about 400v) solar panels, all of the inverters and the cabling to a substation. Thats basically all they do. They know how to wire up a LOT (3,024) of solar panels at a voltage of about 400v. Thats considered low voltage. The actual UK power grid at this size, tends to be operating at 11,000v (11kv) or 33kv or even higher. That means you need a transformer that steps up the voltage to 11kv, and switchgear that handles all that stuff. You then need to cable it from your substation to the DNO substation, which is where their responsibility begins.

It feels weird to me that this means 2 substations, but apparently it does. It also means that you need a high-voltage expert to design and handle all of the 11kv stuff, which goes beyond ‘ouch that hurts’ and right up to the ‘all that was left was the flaming boots’ level of danger, so I guess its no surprise you need a 3rd party expert for that stuff. Also I discovered that big transformers are full of oil. Who knew?

So…stuff has now got more complicated because the new structure of this project is now:

  • Positech Energy (my company)
  • The site construction contractor
  • The landowner (farmer)
  • The Distribution Network Operator or DNO (Grid people)
  • High Voltage Consultant

No doubt during construction a bunch of other 3rd parties will be subcontracted to the construction contractor, but thats their problem. Also, eventually there will be an insurance company, plus the people who buy our electricity through a PPA (Power purchase agreement). Hilariously, that may happen through a PPA broker, so there may be yet another party involved. Are you starting to see where your electricity bill goes yet? :D

Anyway…so we now have a high voltage consultant who I deal with directly, but who has to liaise with the construction company and also the DNO, and this involves hilariously complicated email chains where everyone is waiting for everyone else until I step in and yell WHY IS NOTHING HAPPENING, but hopefully in a politer tone :D.

So…moving on from the fact that we now have a high voltage consultant, lets talk about all the other sudden expenses and complications. Ladies and gentleman, I introduce you to the excitement of pullout-tests. Apparently, you have to do pullout tests. Who knew? This is basically paying some engineering experts to go bang some metal posts into the field at a variety of points, then do their best to pull them out again, and measure how much force is required to pull them out. They use special machines and gadgets:

You get a rather tedious number of photos like this, and the eventual TL:DR; of it is that ‘its fine’ which is good to know, albeit a very unfulfilling way to spend £6,795. Yes really. You can buy a very nice guitar for that. Why are pullout tests needed? well they determine what kind of ground mount kit you will need to keep the panels in the ground. Why so important? well solar panels are actually pretty light, and catch the wind like crazy, and we have over 3,000 of them. We are basically anchoring a giant expensive sail to the top of a hill in the midlands. If we don’t secure these puppies nicely, we are just one storm away from them all turning up in Liverpool one day.

Anyway, after all the pain and stress of paying for pullout tests, comes the new excitement around earthing studies. Yes earthing studies. Did you not know solar farms need to be earthed! haha, you fool. Yes of course, we all knew that *loud coughing*. Its to stop a big lightning strike pulverizing the whole farm. Did I mention we are sticking 60 tons of solar panels on the top of a remote field? Anyway, in order to work out HOW to earth the farm, you need to know the resistance of the soil, which apparently, is a thing that varies.

A lot.

Anyway, thats of course another expense, and its all very depressing, and it takes time. Not only that, but TWO completely different companies carry out earthing designs for separate parts of the installation. The DNO (grid people) design the earthing for their substation, and our HV contractor designs the earthing for our bit. Its totally separate. This seems nuts to me, and ripe for optimisation, but I’m not an electrical engineer so maybe there are reasons for this.

Anyway, it means you get sent exciting diagrams like this:

I think we all understand this right? *louder coughing*. It also means you get a design for how all the fancy underground earthing stuff will be arranged, which is apparently generally in a grid pattern, presumably because you are earthing a LOT of stuff, and a single earth rod stuck in the ground isn’t going to cut it:

Oh, in other news I actually have the final quote for the install of the farm. I’ll give a proper breakdown once the farm is constructed, but you will enjoy the hilarity of reading about when I got the quote at 6PM on Friday, with a VERY ambiguous sentence in it, that led me to believe the farm was going to cost £450,000 more than I anticipated. I did not sleep at all Friday night, and was *relieved* on Monday when this was clarified.

Oh how we laughed

The final hilarious piece of news is that due to changes we had to make to the plant layout between getting planning permission refused, and then granted, I have 200 more solar panels than I need. I am still being charged monthly to store them, and this is not fun. I THINK I might be able to stick 8 of them in my driveway to replace my old 12 year old ones, but I’m not sure about that yet. The others will likely be sold to the construction company, at cost (still a net loss as I’ve stored them for 6 months+).

Anyway… the short version of this blog post is that there is PROGRESS. We are anticipating making the first 30% payment to the construction company today, which will mean we can plan actual install dates, and actually order the ground mount kit, inverters and other stuff like cabling. We will use 15km of DC solar cable, for example. Thats a lot of cable.

The good news is that stuff looks like its starting to actually happen now. I have been told that the cutout-switch has already arrived to the town next to the farm, and some other equipment used by the grid connection company has been ordered already. This is a very *good sign* as it means the grid connection will happen this decade, at least.

TL:DR; Gamedev is easy. Building stuff is hard.