I’ve watched so many dramas this year that it only seemed right to summarize my opinions of them (not to mention organize my thoughts for the sake of my own sanity). It’s been a pretty solid year, with plenty of pleasant surprises, and I hope that 2012 can offer up as much enjoyment. Posts like this have been a huge help to me in the past when I didn’t know what to watch, so hopefully mine will help someone too.
Since this is more or less a visual blog, I’ve also posted a favorite MV (music video) to go with each review. One each wasn’t nearly enough, so I also made a youTube playlist of 113 MVs featuring the dramas of 2011. I was very picky with my selection, so they’re all good!. There are too many creators to thank them all here by name, but I do want to sincerely thank them for their hard work and the hours of enjoyment they’ve given me. If you like a particular MV I would recommend subscribing to that person’s channel (it makes finding the best ones a lot easier!).
I know with 100% certainty that many people will disagree with my thoughts on certain dramas, so please don’t flame me! I usually try not to be too negative but this post is entirely based on my unfiltered personal opinion, so please don’t be offended if I dislike a drama or an actor that you love. I’d love to hear your own opinions on these shows (and others) so please comment! If I know what people like, I will also know what people would like me to draw ;)
I’ve linked each drama to its synopsis over on the Drama-Addicts Wiki so you can read about any you haven’t heard of. That way I can just focus on what I thought of them, and not specifically what they’re about. I’ll avoid spoilers as much as I can (although the embedded MVs will be full of spoilers, so watch at your own peril).
*Gah. I thought that I avoided embedding any videos that can’t be embedded, but I wasn’t even close. I’ll try to swap them out eventually, but meanwhile they’ll open in a new tab.
The Best of the Best
Can You Hear My Heart (aka Listen to My Heart)
I’m not sure if I will ever love another weekend drama as much as I loved Can You Hear My Heart. This drama kept me on the edge of my seat, touched my heart, and continuously surprised me with its flawless pacing and well-constructed plot. Every one of the characters was extremely well developed, and I found myself caring about all of them. This drama’s OTP (Kim Jae Won, Hwang Jung Eum) was by far the best of the year, but the “NTP” (non-true pairing) was also one of the bests (Namgoong Min). Besides the obvious chemistry between the three leads, they were also just written extremely well, but differently than I’ve seen in other dramas. I kept expecting them to follow the cliche rules of kdramaland for the sake of drama, but defying those cliches ended up being far more compelling.
The acting in CYHMH brought this show to a whole new level, and I have to give special credit to the kids for their portrayal of the leads during childhood, Jung Bo Suk for his role as the mentally disabled father, and Namgoong Min for breaking our hearts so deftly.
CYHMH was anything but fluff, and touched on some of the most poignant themes this year. It deftly handled issues concerning family, disability and loyalty, but never got preachy and still satisfied like a romantic comedy. The bromance was incredibly heartwarming; the affection between Dong Joo, Woo Ri and her father was heart melting. The ending to this drama was fantastic, and throughout all the episodes this drama never lost steam. Other than Woo Ri’s unfortunate hairstyle, it was essentially perfection.
I almost didn’t watch CYHMH because it sounded too melodramatic and I prefer shorter dramas. Do not make that mistake! If you haven’t yet watched it, why are you still here reading my silly post? Get watching! 30 episodes won’t feel like enough. If I had to force someone against their will to watch a 2011 drama, this would it.
*This drama has an extra special place in my heart because its fantastic use of color is what really got me started on drawing k-dramas. Thank you CYHMH! I also apologize for that very random screenshot, but I’ve always wanted to use it for something.
There are some other CYHMH MVs I love, but I feel like this one is the most thematically appropriate for the show (doesn’t include the last 4 episodes btw). Thanks to Ajewell for making it!
Protect the Boss is another drama I almost didn’t watch. The teaser ads leading up to PTB’s premiere were extremely lame, and killed the little interest I had. Ji Sung’s hair didn’t help. Thankfully a moment of boredom coaxed me into watching, and there was no looking back.
I thought that PTB would only aim to be funny, and it was (extremely) but it also managed to create meaningful story and depth, impressing me with how touching it made the more serious topics (such as agoraphobia). Some of the year’s most ridiculous characters are in this drama, and yet in an instant they would become believably heart-wrenching. Ji Sung’s character (Ji Heon) showed the greatest dichotomy that way, and I can’t think of a single other actor that could have sold Ji Heon as well as he did (he even managed to make bad hair and absurd clothing endearing!). Ji Sung is incredible at layering emotions, and I think that his acting was ultimately what made it possible for this drama to work so well.
PTB actually deserves some sort of award for its character creation. All four leads were quirky and flawed, but incredibly endearing (I dare you not to love Wang Ji Hye as Na Yun in this drama). Each of them had a unique but adorable relationship with the other three, and I enjoyed the friendships as much as the romances. No single minor character was one-dimensional either, and absolutely everyone was funny and entertaining in their own way. There are no “evil” characters in PTB, and I hope that other writers took note because it is a formula that can work extremely well.
I don’t think that this drama really needed the two episode extension it received, but I also don’t feel that it lagged as much as most dramas do towards the end. A bit of lag was nonetheless felt, but PTB is so otherwise fantastic that it still easily makes my favorites list.
I really wanted to post this super funny video but it can’t be embedded. So then I was going to post this serious one, but it can’t embed either. So now I’m posting one that only covers the first 8 episodes, but it’s great. Credit to Ayachan.
It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of anything that involves singing or dancing, so it’s not surprising that I loved Dream High. That being said, I fully expected the story to be nonsensical fluff, and was once again pleasantly surprised.
For a “youth drama” this show had impressive depth and maturity. I really felt like I was dreaming right along with all the hopeful teens, and acutely felt for them when they had those dreams crushed. The singing and dancing did not disappoint, but this drama’s heart was what made it a favorite. I laughed and cried, and eagerly sat on the edge of my seat dying to know what came next.
Unlike most youth dramas, Dream High wasn’t predictable. I literally had no inkling of who Hye Mi (Suzy) would end up with, who K would be, or where everyone would end up, and I don’t think that’s ever happened before. Both male leads had very compelling stories, and it’s rare for two ships to be so equally balanced.
I need to make special note of Kim Soo Hyun, who is such a powerhouse of talent that it’s not even fair. In the early episodes I thought that he would just be some dopey character, but his growth and struggle ended up being my favorite part of the drama (and the boy can sing!). KSH took his role very seriously, and if he didn’t break your heart you should probably see a doctor. His haircuts also just kept getting better and better. Bonus!
Usually I’m anti-drama-extension, but I do feel like Dream High could have used an extra episode. The ending felt slightly rushed, and I wanted to know more. Even though I hope that Dream High 2 is a standalone series, I wouldn’t mind some references to Dream High 1 just to fill in the blanks.
Despite being utterly fantastic, Dream High is still a teen drama, so if you’re allergic to the genre you may want to stay away (even though it’s beyond me how someone could not like this show).
*Every time I hear the Dream High theme song I want to jump up and do a flash-mob. That song has been off-and-on stuck in my head all year long.
The great visuals in Dream High make it a gold mine for MV makers. That being said, finding one that includes the drama, the dancing, and all the characters is like finding a needle in a haystack. Thank you to Anon for making just such a video.
Secret Garden just barely squeaked onto this post since it mostly aired in 2010, but I loved it, so I’m including it!
Unlike the rest of the universe I’m not actually a huge Hyun Bin fan, but he was perfect for this role. He pulled off the sarcastic, fashion-challenged, borderline-obsessive rich kid absolutely flawlessly. Ha Ji Won was equally perfect, and I loved her characters frequent changes from indignant tomboy to girly swooner. The chemistry between the two was through the roof, and watching the actors try to act like each other (after the body swaps) never got old.
Secret Garden was hilarious. The sparkly track-suits, the body switching, the banter, the physical gags…all of it was pure gold. The supporting cast was almost as great as the OTP, and the scope of the drama was greater than what most dramas bother with (time-jumps don’t count!).
On top of the hilarity, this was one of the more touching dramas this year and it did a good job of tugging at my hearstrings. Most kdramas get more serious after ten episodes or so, and often thatmeans more boring. In Secret Garden the episodes just got more heart-wrenching, so I was still on the edge of my seat completely invested and not even noticing the drop-off in humor.
Overall, Secret Garden does pretty much everything right, and I consider it a pretty iconic korean drama. Surely everyone’s watched it by now?
Credit for this one goes to ADxxProd. Very appropriate song choice!
The Not Quite Best of the Best
Greatest Love (aka Best Love)
Oh Hong Sisters, how I love thee. The Greatest Love gave me the biggest laughs this year, and did not disappoint my expectation of a zany story with snappy writing. Even the music was funny, and the wacky plot felt believable enough that I didn’t lose interest or take the show lightly. The idea of translating physical heart problems into emotional ones seems incredibly silly, and I suppose it is, but it was also done very cleverly and provided a lot of the humor.
The only reason this drama isn’t a favorite is because I didn’t feel myself as invested in Cha Seung Won’s character (Dokko Jin) as I would’ve liked. His character was just a little too hammy for me to take seriously, and even though his offbeat charm was a big part of what made this drama so great, I just didn’t relate to the serious half of his personality enough (unlike Ji Sung’s character in PTB).
I would rank this as my third favorite Hong Sisters drama (after YaB and MGiaG) and would still consider it a “must watch”. The references to pop culture and the horrific hilarity of a Hong Sisters dramas really can’t be matched.
I agree with Charisnova, the youtuber who made this, that this is an incredibly suitable song:
49 Days is yet another drama that I almost didn’t watch. I usually avoid shows that deal with “spirits” since I tend to find them lame or offensive. 49 Days managed to strike just the right tone, and achieved what I consider most important in a drama: strong character development and good story-telling.
It would’ve been easy for 49 Days to get overly melodramatic or sappy, but it mixed in a healthy dose of humor and a message that was ultimately uplifting. Episode 19 still made me cry more than any other show ever (it’s all your fault Jung Il Woo!) but it’s a drama that saves up for the sad moments, rather than beating you to death with them. The motivations of the characters were easily understood, and I even found myself caring for the “bad” people.
I wasn’t familiar with any of the actors in this drama before watching, other than Jung Il Woo. They all won me over (especially Jo Hyun Jae) and Jung Il Woo far exceeded the expectations I had for him after watching the Return of Iljimae. He was good in RoI, but I never expected him to dig as deep as he did with the Scheduler (which is such a fantastic character btw).
My only gripe with this drama was the ending. I would’ve been fine with it if it felt like it fit, but instead it felt a bit like a last minute writing change. The rest of 49 Days was very carefully constructed and paced, but the ending used too much deus ex machina for the sake of surprising us and tying together some loose ends. 49 Days was 100% worth watching and the finale was still very good (I just felt it could have been better). I did think that the ending for the Scheduler was perfect.
A lot k-dramas feel like they’ve been done before, but not 49 Days. Even if it hadn’t been so very well done, I would’ve loved it for being fresh and unique.
*Try watching episode 19 and then listening to Jung Il Woo’s Scarecrow (허수아비) song. I bet you can’t get through it it.
I couldn’t choose between posting a Kang/Ji Hyun MV or a Yi Soo/Yi Kyung MV, so I’m breaking the rules and posting one of each. Not that I recommend watching 49 Days MVs if you’ve watched the drama. It often results in weeping. Credit to theBelovedVampire and LonsomeMultiAngel.
Heartstrings (aka You’ve Fallen For Me)
Heartstrings is a drama that I loved, but would hesitate to recommend because of its simplicity. Heartstrings is a bit like a designer tank top. It’s not flashy, most people won’t notice it, and its quality is more easily felt than seen. To some people that will probably translate as boring, and I find it hard to argue that a tank top is interesting.
Musically and visually I think this drama was one of the best of the year (just look at how many drawings it made me do!). Particularly throughout the first half of the show, the number of great new songs it churned out was impressive. If you like CN Blue you will probably like this OST, although some of the best musical moments aren’t even on the OST. Jung Yong Hwa was a great casting choice if only for his musical talent, which matched perfectly with the soft colors and mellow vibe of the show. It also helped that he and Park Shin Hye have fantastic chemistry (I even shipped them in YaB).
Another thing I really like about this drama is that the characters just felt like real people acting like real people do. Most dramas occasionally have characters step outside their established personalities for the sake of plot development, but Heartstrings seemed content to be a quiet little slice of life show that didn’t need such contrivances.
The most unfortunate thing to happen to this drama was Park Shin Hye’s car accident. Besides forcing story changes and limiting PSH, it also resulted in an episode being cut, and that cut was noticeable. Some of the side stories suffered as a result, and the writing lost a bit of its focus. This drama also isn’t going to win any acting awards, but Jung Yong Hwa has grown leaps and bounds since YaB and I found myself genuinely enjoying the cast. They did feel a bit more like teenagers than adults, but I loved them anyways.
Even though this drama wasn’t a huge hit, it seems like one of the most popular dramas to make into MVs this year. Surely that must mean something.
*For those who are suspicious, yes, Me Too Flower did inspire the tank top metaphor!
This video is actually mine, and it’s pretty terrible, but it includes their whole relationship (which was the point). Unfortunately my computer couldn’t handle it after I got through about 10%, so I just had to get ‘er done.
I really dislike Lee Dong Wook as an actor, and still thought Scent of a Woman was a good drama (and lets be honest, Lee Dong Wook isn’t going to be a problem for anyone else but me). Most shows are just entertainment, but SoaW actually made me want to live better, and that’s pretty rad.
Although I felt like the character development stagnated a bit mid-drama (too much moping!) the character arcs were extremely satisfying overall, and I was particularly moved by the second lead Eun Suk (played by Eom Ki Jun) along with Kim Sun Ah’s fellow hospital patient. The way different people handle grief and mortality is a universal issue, and I think anyone who watched this drama would find someone to relate to.
Normally I stay away from melodramas (happiness is my preferred emotion) but I would’ve been sorry to miss out on this one. The ending was perfect. It was believable, and it set the right tone with the right message at the right time. Extra kudos to Lee Dong Wook and Kim Sun Ah for their riveting tango scene. Watching it felt like an invasion of privacy, and that’s because they made the scene sizzle.
*I haven’t seen Robert Deniro’s Scent of a Woman, so I have no comparisons to make in that regard.
This video doesn’t really represent the drama, but it it wins points for being so stylish.
The Middling and Mediocre
I remember enjoying My Princess while watching it, but unfortunately I don’t remember much else about it. I know that it was super cute, that I liked the OTP, and that Kim Tae Hee had a killer shoe collection (I would’ve watched it for that alone).
I was never in danger of dropping My Princess, and I think that anyone who enjoys 16 episode trendy rom-coms would like it. It had plenty of sweet moments, and I don’t remember ever getting bored. I think the problem was that it didn’t do much that was new, and that’s why I forgot so much of it so quickly. Basically it’s a standard chick flick. It will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but probably won’t leave a deep impression.
This video has lots of My Princess cutenes…aka the stuff I remember. Credit to POE.
What a controversial little drama this turned out to be! I must admit, the first few episodes of Spy Myung Wol sunk their claws into me and had me hooked. The premise was so absurd it was fabulous, and the offbeat characters were a joy to watch.
Much like its characters, Spy Myung Wol suffered from an identity crisis and ended up all over the place. I won’t get into my opinions regarding Han Ye Seul not showing up to set and leaving the country, but the plot took some major hits as a result. In the beginning the sudden plot shifts were part of what made this drama fun and exciting, but towards the end it just felt like disorganized writing.
Despite all the hiccups, Eric did a good enough acting job to make me go watch Que Sera Sera, and I have no regrets about watching this drama since there were so many great tidbits full of wacky charm. It’s unfortunate that so much of this drama’s potential was squandered.
There are surprisingly few zany myung wol videos, so here’s one that’s mostly serious instead. Credit to Evanstuhh!
Princess’ Man was better and worse than I expected. I thought that it would be an overly tragic melodrama (boo!) but that it would be extremely pretty to look at (huzzah!). It started out as both, but ended as neither.
In the first episode when Park Shin Hee’s father died, I literally laughed. The scene couldn’t possibly have been more dramatic, and I wasn’t about to feel anything for characters that I didn’t even know. After that I put the drama away for several weeks, but eventually came back to it to seek drawing inspiration. Some of the early episodes did have great cinematography, but not as much as I expected. Towards the end of the drama I didn’t find myself noticing the cinematography at all, which made me sad.
I did like the end of this drama, and it was better than I had hoped for, but overall Princess’ Man was just too cheesy for me. It could have used a little bit more intrigue, or even more plot concerning the OTP’s relationship. I thought the best episodes were the ones where they battled wits and started liking each other, but after that their interactions became fairly cliche and one-dimensional. I would’ve much preferred some conversation over the numerous slow-motion flashbacks.
That being said, Le Se Ryung (Moon Chae Won) is one of my favorite sageuk heroines, and I loved her feistiness, even though it didn’t have as much opportunity to shine towards the end. Similarly, I found Seung Yoo (Park Shi Hoo) to have much more spark and personality in the beginning, and though I realize it was due to circumstance, I found myself missing the real them.
I don’t regret watching it, and would recommend the Princess’ Man to major sageuk fans or those who adore the leads. I think extra cheese and slow-motion are the norm with sageuks, but I’m still not used to it and need some faster pacing to keep myself invested.
If I’m honest, I like this MV more than I liked the drama. Credit to snowcedarplanes.
“What? City Hunter…middling? Mediocre?” I realize that I’m a minority, but I had very high hopes for this drama and wanted to love it as much as I love Time Between Dog and Wolf. I think this is a great fusion genre, but ultimately City Hunter disappointed me. If Heartstrings is a designer tank-top to me, then City Hunter is a cheap but flashy pair of high heels (lots of flair, quick to get compliments, irresistible at first sight, but a victim of shoddy workmanship and arguably not worth the sore feet).
All of the right elements were in place: a great premise, a hefty budget, trendy casting and good music. Unfortunately City Hunter was so flawed that I just couldn’t take it seriously. Usually I try to turn my brain off when I’m watching anything involving action (since it’s so frequently unrealistic) but City Hunter was so full of odd little mistakes that it became humorous. You know how some kids think that no one can see them when their eyes are closed? In City Hunter as long as the audience couldn’t see someone, no one else could either (which made escape oh-so-easy).
I’m not going to start listing off the hundreds of little flaws that I noticed since I don’t want to ruin the enjoyment of this show for anyone else, but what bothers me the most is that all thoselittle mistakes were a result of laziness. No effort was put into researching anything, and none of the nonsense added anything to the show, or was necessary for plot development (in which case I’d be happy to let many errors slide). For example, Lee Min Ho could have dealt with guard dogs in any number of ways, but instead he used a dog whistle to pacify them. The only difference between a normal whistle and a dog whistle is that humans can’t hear the latter, and LMH should have had his face torn off (hopefully no one tries his technique in real life). One little scene like that isn’t a big deal, but there was no reason for it and the drama as a whole was over-saturated with such things. I’ve been criticized (IRL) for being hyper-logical all the time, and I guess it’s true because I just couldn’t make my brain accept this show.
There is still a lot to be said for City Hunter. It had a great vibe, an interesting story, and encompassed the whole emotional spectrum. It’s incredibly stylish and makes for some of the best MVs around, despite Lee Min Ho’s pink pants. The Min/Min couple has great chemistry, as evidenced by their real life relationship. For fans of Lee Min Ho this show is a “must watch”, and even I was impressed by how badass he managed to be for a skinny pretty boy. Even people who don’t care for LMH probably couldn’t go wrong with this drama; just be wary if you’re anal about details like me!
*The exciting part of Sad Run (from the OST) makes for a great phone notification. I loved every time it started playing during the show.
There are so many good City Hunter MVs it’s absurd, and they range from all-action to all-romance. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to go with, so I’m posting the one with the most extreme style. Credit to Transparent Darkness.
Paradise Ranch aka Paradise Farm
Paradise Ranch was so forgettable that I almost forgot to include it. The only reason it’s not under “waste of time” is that I don’t remember being angry that I watched it.
I originally watched this drama for Lee Yeon Hee because I liked her in A Millionaire’s First Love (which I unfortunately watched without realizing it was a melodrama). Honestly, I find Shim Chang Min so annoying that it’s a miracle I didn’t give this show up. That face and that acting make for a cringe-worthy combination. I know that he has a fan-base, particularly among TVXQ fans, but other than his voice I really don’t understand the appeal. Regardless of how I feel about him as an actor, he also looks younger than his age and I think that someone with more maturity was needed to sell the role or a guy who was married, divorced, and met the same girl six years later.
Aspects of this show were cute, but poor acting often detracted from the sweeter moments. Joo Sang Wook was the definite highlight, but I wouldn’t say he’s enough to make this drama worth watching. It’s fluff, but unlike dramas like My Princess, it’s not good fluff.
This is a MV for the second lead shippers (and I was one of them when I watched this drama). Credit to DontBeABetch55.
The Waste of Time
In retrospect, the only redeeming thing about Royal Family was Ji Sung. I have low standards. I hardly regret watching anything. The plot almost got good, but then didn’t. The romance almost got compelling, but then wasn’t. It seemed like the drama was about to go somewhere interesting, and then it had the worst ending ever.
The ending was so badly executed that I wasn’t sure if it was happy or sad. I wasn’t even sure that it was the end. My actual response was, “What? Why did I just watch all that? Did I miscount the episodes? Is there more?”
It’s a testament to Ji Sung’s acting that I got through the whole drama. He’s one of those vacuum actors that can draw you in and make you care in an instant (and unfortunately for me, that’s what happened). I didn’t even know who he was before watching this show, but his very first scene had me impressed.
I wouldn’t recommend this show to anyone, ever. Even visually it was bland. You might like parts of it if you imagine your own ending and skip the last couple episodes, but even then it’s probably not worth it.
I think Svetik is the only person to make a MV for this drama. Thank goodness for Svetik. She makes it seems like good MVs grow on trees!
I have a golf pro in the family, so I felt obligated to try Birdie Buddy. My brain was tricked by the short episode length (combined with evil autoplay) and I suddenly realized that the drama was half over and nothing had happened yet. There’s not really anything note-worthy about Birdie Buddy, and I can’t imagine that the ending is great enough to make the first half of the series worth it.
Baby Faced Beauty (aka Youthful Beauty)
I watched 16 out of 20 episodes (or was it 18?) of Baby Faced Beauty but will never finish it. It started out great with good directing, a fun story, and concrete plot. Unfortunately this show got repetitive and started looping plot devices right along with emotional states. Eventually I couldn’t stand to look at the female lead’s mopey face for a moment longer and gave the drama up.
Thanks to TransparentDarkness for another MV!
I watched all of Lie to Me except the last two episodes. I don’t think that anyone considered it to be an expertly crafted drama, and its popularity was mostly based around the chemistry between Yoon Eun Hye and Kang Ji Hwan (which is valid; I’ve watched shows for much less than that!). Unfortunately for me I find Ji Hwan’s eyes cold and reptilian, and think he would be perfectly cast in a Korean version of Sleeping With the Enemy (sorry, blame my brain…I know it’s broken). Yoon Eun Hye’s character seemed sad or exasperated 90% of the time, so that made matters worse. Sang Hee was by far my favorite character, and unfortunately he was borderline nonexistent towards the end, so my interest in continuing to watch the show became equally non-existent.
* I admit it, I posted a screenshot of Sang Hee instead of the OTP out of spite. That’s the face he probably made from the sidelines while he was busy not being in the drama.
Thanks to TransparentDarkness again. Seriously TP, stop making good MVs already!
I really wanted to love Warrior Baek Dong Soo, and genuinely did at times. I was a big fan of the plot set-up, the characters, and the fantastic cinematography. I’ve always had a soft spot for assassin’s with sad stories (seriously) so WBDS was right up my alley. The bromances were fantastic, as were the rivalries.
Unfortunately my beloved characters stagnated and showed little growth over the course of many many episodes. The melodrama also got a liiiittle too melodramatic for my tastes. After about 20 minutes of mournful wailing I start to feel uncomfortable.
I had such a love/hate relationship with this drama that I found myself perpetually dropping it and picking it up again. I can’t remember where I ended up, but I watched at least 20 episodes. I inadvertently found out how it ends, and that ending feels right to me.
Overall I think this drama could have used major condensing. I think 20 episodes would’ve been plenty and kept more people interested. I’m a bit sad that I didn’t see this drama through to its conclusion, but the though of picking it up yet again feels a bit too much like work.
This is another show with tons of great MVs. The bromance was one of my favorite parts of this show, so this MV is about that. Credit to Martyna267.
I thought that I loved Romance Town while I was watching it. It had a fairly unique plot and a slightly offbeat assortment of characters that immediately caught my interest. I found it hard to predict what was going to happen next (which is always refreshing) and the group dynamic was consistently entertaining. I particularly liked the twists on common cliches. Instead of a girl without a shoe being given a piggyback, she was given a “foot” and I got to watch the cutest “three legged race” ever. I hard a hard time choosing who to ship because the relationship with the second lead was so great too (I loved all that Spirit of the Mountain liver-stealing stuff).
So why did I stop watching? I’m not sure. About halfway through the drama I got too busy and missed a week. After that I just never felt compelled to start up again. Romance Town was decent in pretty much every category, but I suppose it didn’t excel enough in any one area to get me hooked.
*The original title, “Maids” was better suited to this show I think. Or perhaps “Greed Town” would be more apt. There’s a fair bit of romance, but it deals with a lot more than that.
Credit to Ayachan for this very appropriate MV.
The Currently Airing
I’m pretty confident that Tree with Deep Roots will be my sageuk of the year. The premise sounded incredibly boring and I only watched it so my brother wouldn’t have to be tortured by a k-drama rom-com, but this is another one that would’ve been a shame to miss. The pacing and expertly woven plot keep me on the edge of me seat, and so far this drama seems immune to overtly-cheesy-sageuk-disease.
The acting is some of the best I’ve seen this year (I’m looking at you Sejong 1 and Sejong 2!) and there is a ton of intrigue and action considering that this a drama about an alphabet. Normally I don’t find political figures or kings all that entertaining, but this king has me hanging on his every word. Every episode has been so solid that I feel like it’s impossible to not be disappointed eventually, but I sincerely hope to be proven wrong.
I have to confess, a weekend family drama about a farm was not high on my “to watch” list. Could there be a more mundane-sounding setup? Fortunately Softy made a great Ojakgyo Brothers sales pitch and I didn’t miss out on this great drama. It’s not the fastest paced show out of there, but it’s full of heart and deals with a gamut of family issues that anyone could relate to. UEE has proven herself to be an appealing lead (not that she wasn’t great in You Are Beautiful) and the variance among the story-lines gives this drama widespread appeal. The first 34 episodes have flown by, and it’s been great fun doing screenshots for Softy’s recaps over at Cadence.
With most dramas I can fairly accurately pinpoint why they’re so good, but Ojakkyo Brothers has some sort of X-factor that I don’t quite understand. Maybe it’s the cast, or maybe it’s all the relatable stories, but either way it has been a very worthwhile watch, and I’ll be sad when it’s over.
* I probably should have posted a picture of the family, but I love that shot.
Thank you so much to Sailor Enigma for dedicating this OB MV to us. I’m not just posting it her to be nice. It’s one of the best I’ve seen.
The Musical somewhat reminds me of a more somber version of Heartstrings. It is seemingly simple but has complicated characters that keep me watching. If nothing else, it deserves recognition for creating an 8 way love “triangle” that actually works. Every person involved has a unique but well-developed personality, and I find myself wanting to know more about everyone.
My biggest issue with this drama is that the person I care about the least is the protagonist (Go Eun Bi). She seems to lack the most depth, and frequently frustrates me by giving up or having a pity party. I don’t find it believable that she would survive in the musical world, but I’m hoping that she steps up her game to become more deserving of her position (not to mention the affection of two great men). Other than Eun Bi I think that this behind-the-scenes look at musicals is handled rather realistically, and I appreciate the many references to real musical pieces. I’ve enjoyed recapping it, and I just hope that the end doesn’t disappoint me.
This is a great MV, mostly about the OTP. Credit to annabell885.
Even though I very much enjoy Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, I do think it is a bit over-rated. I love it for it’s deliberate hamminess as well as its more serious moments, but it doesn’t quite feel real to me (I don’t mean “real” real of course, just real within k-dramaland). I think the reason for this is Jung Il Woo’s character, Cha Ji Soo. He’s funny, borderline crazy, and I love watching him, but that’s not enough. I need to believe that Eun Bi (the female lead) would fall for him despite the large age gap, and so far I’m not completely buying it. I do love Ji Soo’s incredibly deranged personality though, so it’s not a bad trade-off.
I don’t have a problem with big age gaps when they’re done right, and I loved The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry, as well as Dal Ja’s Spring. Kim Beom looked like he was 14, but I believed his relationship with Park Jin Hee because they felt like equals. He regularly bested her in verbal battles and made her re-think aspects of her life. He also brought out sides of her personality that had been laying dormant, and helped her focus on the more important things in life (which so often feel less important).
So what does Ji Soo offer Eun Bi? He doesn’t have many endearing qualities other than his looks. He’s rude, demanding, lazy, disrespectful, and not all that smart. He doesn’t understand women or the world around him, and is basically just a regular teenage boy with an added dose of immaturity. He hasn’t even lured Eun Bi with the “fun of youth” or by acting genuinely charming, and she never seemed like she was suffering from the drudgery of mature living in the first place. Yes, Eun Bi hears bells, but that’s not enough for me to buy their relationship. *For the record, I do think has a very kind/sweet side to his personality, but no one’s seen it yet.
All that sounds very negative, but I’m still hooked and would watch this show to the end just for Kang Hyuk (Lee Ki Woo). His disarming cheekiness puts a big grin on my face, and his mild autism makes me feel for him, but also makes him more entertaining (I apologize if it’s inappropriate for me to enjoy his lack of understanding for social boundaries).
I also love the dynamic between the other “flower boys” and think that the bunch as a whole is much more interesting than F4. The writing is exceedingly clever at times, and I love the many layered conversations where two characters are talking about completely different things. Every episode provides plenty of fun moments, so my only demand is that Kang Kyuk gets some sort of happy ending.
This is a very cute video by StupidApples.
As soon as Kim Jae Won got in an accident and had to drop out Me Too, Flower, it was off my list. I streamed it one day in a desperate attempt to procrastinate, and ended up marathoning the first six episodes (my procrastination was a success!).
Even though it’s not my favorite, this drama is probably the one I’m most addicted to right now. I’ve always liked the premise, and it delivers. Yoon Shi Yoon does a surprisingly good job of playing the secretly rich valet Jae Hee. The only point against him is that he isn’t Kim Jae Won, and really, that’s not his fault. For someone less naturally suited to the role he is nailing it, and if not for the constant comparisons to KJW I think he would be receiving a lot of praise. His chemistry with Lee Ji Ah (playing Bong Sun) is believable, as is his self-assurance and regret over the past.
The main characters have been extremely well developed, and I was impressed that the writers researched personality types so they could give Bong Sun an extremely accurate profile (yep, I looked it all up). Many similar characters would feel disjointed and unrealistic, but the extra detail makes her feel very much like a real person. She’s also the least tough “tough girl” I’ve probably every seen in a kdrama, which is rather endearing.
One of my favorite aspects of this show is that the characters don’t spend 14 episodes in denial about their feelings. They are sometimes fickle or confused, but once they feel something they act on it. Probably the main reason I’m so eager to watch new episodes is that these quick emotional decisions result in a quickly changing and unpredictable plot. Hopefully this doesn’t mean that the story will stagnate later, but so far I’ve been very happy with the progress.
Unfortunately, Me Too Flower suffers from some awkward editing and directing. It’s not so bad that it feels distracting, but it’s definitely not up to the current standard (which is quite high I might add!). I think it’s mainly a result of delayed production while the team tried to wait for Kim Jae Won, and I’m impressed that they created such a good show with the time they did have. I figure that the lack of lead time means this drama can only get better!
Thanks to Jomo for the great MV. I love this song!
With a title like Vampire Prosecutor, I had no expectations. Cable dramas are often worth watching so I was set on giving it a shot, and am glad I did. It’s as good as any other crime show out there, and I love the look and feel of this drama. The plot never blows me away and some of the cases are a bit predictable, but I have yet to watch a crime drama where I was always surprised.
What I really like about Vampire Prosecutor is that “vampireness” is more of a character trait than it is the focus of the show. Of course it’s a necessary part of the premise and affects much of the plot, but it feels no different than Dr. Gregory House being incredibly smart, or Patrick Jayne being extremely astute.
Vampire Prosecutor is also one of the most stylish dramas this year. Why is it that cable dramas always have the more interesting directing (ex. Joseon X-Files)? It’s moody and dark with well-chosen music, and I particularly enjoy the “blood flash-backs” (I have no idea what to call them).
My only fear is that there are only a few episodes left, and there is still so much more that I want to know. Unlike most kdramas the episodes in this show can almost stand alone, and I find myself sometimes wishing there was more carry-through plot. The little tidbits we’re given are tantalizingly cruel.
Thanks again to Svetik for this MV!
Man of Honor (aka Glory Jane)
I don’t really like Chun Jung Myung and was going to let Man of Honor pass since the premise didn’t seem very interesting (I can take or leave Park Min Young since she always feels like the same character to mee). I finally watched the first eleven episodes because it seemed like a strong fan-base had developed (and I don’t like to miss out on a good drama!).
The story turned out to be much better than I expected. I didn’t predict that the characters would have such intricate pasts or that there would be so many rivalries and so much plotting. As a result I was quite intrigued, although In Woo’s many struggles would’ve kept me watching regardless.
One thing I find weird about this drama is the slight usage of supernatural elements (like the homeless guy with the “magical” necklace from Jae In’s dad). It seems awkward and unnecessary for the development of the plot, and like it’s being used an excuse for coincidences and deus ex machina. Instead these devices just make the coincidences more noticeable! Supernatural elements are fine when they drive the story (Family Man, Secret Garden, etc) but I’m not sure why Man of Honor bothered.
All that being said, I think am done with this show. When Jae In and Young Kwang started thinking they were related I thought it would be a positive thing because it would allow them to quickly develop a genuine friendship. Instead this drama went the faux-cest route and the characters started developing romantic feelings before realizing that they have no blood ties. It creeps me out and the thought of watching now makes my face scrunch up.
Thanks to blackkxstar for this excellent MV.
Team Park Kyu!!
I’ve only watched one episode of What’s Up, but my initial thought was, “How did this not get picked up earlier?” I absolutely loved the intro to the first episode with that French song playing in the background (although the end of it was ruined by Hades’ voice says “what’s up”). In fact, all the music in that first episode was great. The Phantom of the Opera is a favorite of mine, and it gives me chills every time I hear it.
On top of that, the story was surprisingly compelling surprisingly fast. Im Ju Hwan’s spunky scam-artist character is great, and I felt my heart pounding right along with his at the scene of the accident.
I was expecting Daesung to play a typical ballad-singing idol, so I was pleasantly surprised to see him doing metal (even though I hated that first metal song). I thought he was a bit cheesy at his audition, but I’ve always considered Daesung the cheesiest Big Bang member and don’t think it was over-acting in his case. His characters’s insecurities make him pretty interesting (I bet there’s a history there) so I hope his acting ability is up to the challenge (he seemed decent so far).
The only real disappointments with the first episode were Im Ju Hwan’s wardrobe (he really needs to buy something from the current decade), the “what’s up” voice-overs and the lack of Lee Soo Hyeok. Other than that, I’m very excited!
This is Hades’ (Daesung’s) MV from the the drama. It’s interesting that they made an MV for a fictional character, and that MV doesn’t actually appear in the show! Thanks to loveKpopSubs for uploading.
*This drama needs a different name. “What’s Up” is almost as bad to google as “The Musical”.
Upcoming This Year
Padam Padam (Dec. 5th)
The impossible has happened…Kim Bum looks like an adult! It sort of weirds me out that I will no longer have a constant cheek-pinching impulse every time he’s on screen.
I’m actually really looking forward to Padam Padam because it has a very unique premise, and it seems like it will be more mature than most vibes. The first long preview has me very impressed with the vibe and look of the show.
Even they’re both successful actors, I’m not familiar with either leads, but they look like great actors, and I already want to know more about their pasts.
While reading an article I read that Kim Bum thinks he’s a guardian angel. Ooh…I like that. I hope that we the audience don’t know the truth of it right away, since I like not knowing.
Added bonus: There are dogs! Lots and lots of dogs! And they’re not tied up on two foot leashes :D
This is the five minute preview (no subs, sorry). Thanks to Kikimbeom for uploading.
Bachelor’s Vegetable Store (Dec. 21st)
It’s not the greatest title around, but I like true stories and this sounds like a good one (man starts a small vegetable store and eventually turns it into a successful chain). I expect that the real story will be pretty heavily altered, particularly since it sounds like this is going to have a bit of a Coffee Prince vibe with a store full of bachelors. I liked Ji Chang Wook in Warrior Baek Dong Su and loved Wang Ji Hye in Protect the Boss, so I’ll definitely be checking this one out.
Vampire Idol (Dec. 5th?)
If I had to pick two Korean actors most likely to be vampires, it would be No Min Woo and Lee Soo Hyeok. On top of them being perfect casting choices, I’m huge fans of them both, so I’ll definitely be tuning in to check this one out. The tidbits I’ve heard regarding Vampire Idol are pretty odd-sounding, so I’m sort of hoping they go all out and make this drama absurdly funny (while poking some fun at the vampire genre in general). Vampire Idol has the potential to be horrendously horrendous, but my fingers are crossed that it’s done right (like Vampire Prosecutor…but with the opposite strategy!).
Edit: I just realized that this is a daily drama, which kills my interest pretty much completely. How are they going to keep silly vampires interesting for 120 episodes? Bleh.
And that’s it! I would’ve liked to have posted this after Padam Padam aired, but I knew I would be too short on time. This year has left me very contented; it provided me with a good mix of things that I love and things that I’ve never seen before. I’m extremely happy to see cable dramas coming to the forefront (ever since Someday I’ve been sold on them) and I feel pretty confident that Korean dramas are just going to keep on upping their game.
I felt like my video of the day should be a Can You Hear My Heart video since I consider it my drama of the year. This is on of my favorite CYHMH MVs, and credit goes to ayachan.