Discussion: Favorite K-Dramas?

When regular reader Pranx recently challenged us to name our favorite K-dramas, I paused. Out of the ridiculous number of K-dramas I’ve watched, which ones really deserve to be favorites—and which ones are favorites just because I was in the right mood at the time?

Even more troubling, what about all the great shows I haven’t watched yet, which may become favorites in the future?

Picking favorites feels a little like choosing “favorite friends.” I don’t want to alienate the people who don’t make the top of the list.

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But even though I find it hard to pick favorites, I love knowing other people’s favorites. How else should I pick which show to watch next out of my long, long queues on Dramafever and Viki? Innocent Man sat on my “future” list for six months before I watched it—motivated by seeing it was one of Pranx’s faves. (It was worth every tear-drenched minute.)

I tend to see a “favorite” as a recommendation. Someone else liked it, so I should give it a chance, right?

But sometimes we love a show we don’t necessarily recommend to everyone. Maybe the heroine reminded us of ourselves, or we watched a show for comfort during a tough time. Lately, I’ve been rewatching I’m a Flower, Too (2011). It was the second K-drama I ever watched (after Coffee Prince, of course), and the romance between prickly policewoman Officer Cha and self-made millionaire Seo Jae-Hee can still absorb me for hours in glaze-eyed admiration.

The show as a whole isn’t very good, though. The secondary characters are still among the most irritating I’ve ever seen in a K-drama. And I have to admit Yoon Shi-Yoon overacts a fair bit, though I can’t hold it against him (that would be like kicking a puppy—it’s Yoon Shi-Yoon after all).

pride and prejudice episode 17 choi jin hyuk baek jin hee kiss scene medweb

Because the show is so uneven, I can’t call it a favorite. But I wish I could. The lead couple are favorites of mine and I want to share them with the world.

There are a lot of shows like that—shows I want to talk about and discuss, though they aren’t favorites. Pride and Prejudice isn’t exactly a favorite of mine in the sense that I would watch it all over again. But because it was the first show I ever wrote about week after week, it has a special place in my heart. It’s almost better than a favorite.

I’m curious how KDT readers choose their favorites. Does it have to be a show you watch again and again? Are your favorites the highest quality shows? Are there high-quality shows you respect but can’t quite love?

Do you have one show that’s definitely your number one favorite? Or is your K-drama love so wide-ranging you have to make a list?

Do you feel bad for the shows that almost but don’t quite make it onto your favorite list?

coffee prince window poster horizontal medweb

I’ll kick off the discussion with my list: 1) Kill Me, Heal Me, 2) It’s Okay, That’s Love, 3) City Hunter, 4) Shut Up Flower Boy Band, 5) Coffee Prince and 6) Master’s Sun.

Why do these ones make the cut? Kill Me, Heal Me, for being gleefully insane. It’s Okay, That’s Love for making mental illness really, really sexy. City Hunter for reinventing the revenge swashbuckler for the twenty-first century (and for featuring Lee Min-Ho’s most fun character to date). Shut Up Flower Boy Band for getting a coming-of-age story right, all the way to the unexpectedly intelligent ending. Coffee Prince for making an impossible plot device look totally reasonable. And Master’s Sun because its quirky ghost stories and weird central couple make me ridiculously happy even if they don’t always make sense.

These are all shows that I finished at least six months ago, so I know they’ve passed the test of time. (Has it been that long since Kill Me, Heal Me? Sniff.) It’s possible that I Remember You will make my favorites list at some point, once some time has passed. That show was definitely my kind of weird.

Dear readers, please share! What are your faves? And what should I watch next? ♥

46 thoughts on “Discussion: Favorite K-Dramas?

  1. Choosing a favorite or favorites is soooo hard. There are just too many so I sort of cheat & refuse to label a drama a favorite unless I’ve re-watched it more than twice. So Coffee Prince–which I watched about 7 or 8 times is on the top of my favorites list.

    Other favorites include Queen In-hyun’s Man (which I loved so much I actually bought the dvd set), Full House, My Name is Kim Sam-soon & Last Scandal.

    But that leaves off a few I haven’t been able to re-watch yet that I really loved–I will call this soon-to-be-favorites, lol. They include Answer Me 1997, Marriage Not Dating, SUFBB, and Master’s Sun.

    Then there are the ones that I really really liked and would recommend as must-see dramas but I don’t know if I would include them as my favorites–they’d be more like almost favorites. They include classics I loved like Delightful Girl Choon-hyang, My Girl and Goong, and 2014’s My Love From Another Star.

    ALL that is to say–why oh why did you bring this topic up!? It’s just too hard to narrow lists like this down. I feel a bit manic after all this thinking & sorting. Maybe I should watch one of your favs–HMKM, which is still on my to-watch list after all this time.

  2. Elle – I think you can blame me and pranx as being the instigators of this post. We sort of hijacked the thread on “I remember you” and talked a bit about our favourites. Because fo that i watched Queen In-Hyun’s Man and really enjoyed it. And also “Innocent Man”.

    • Now I feel like I could totally watch Queen In-Hyun’s Man back over. It was tons of fun though its no. 19 on my list. I seriously did a list but I always spend some time reordering and debating with myself over them.

  3. @Erin, yes we hijacked that thread didn’t we? But I got both of you to see Innocent Man so I’m not sorry 😉
    I watched some more of Bali and can’t wait for So Ji Sub to grace the screen again. SJK is so far off in 2016 its almost unfair!

    @Elle, definitely KMHM if a show with lot of heart and comedy is what you like. KMHM has its share of LOL moments and also amazing acting by Ji Sung!

    Now to the questions
    Does it have to be a show you watch again and again?
    YES

    Are your favorites the highest quality shows?
    Not always. There is a reason why we pick donuts over oatmeal 🙂

    Are there high-quality shows you respect but can’t quite love?
    I will rephrase this as shows I respect but can’t rewatch. Punch is in that category. Misaeng too. And grapevine. I am planning to watch Assembly next, political dramas are my drug. Not Frank Underwood though. Among English shows, it would be Mad Men.

    Do you have one show that’s definitely your number one favorite? Or is your K-drama love so wide-ranging you have to make a list?
    I don’t believe in absolute favourites since that can change over time as you mature and your worldview and Kdrama view expands.

    Do you feel bad for the shows that almost but don’t quite make it onto your favorite list?
    Yes I feel very bad. When I pick shows by myself, its usually those whose storylines appeal to me. Or those that are recommended by like-minded people. I am not usually the one to faithfully follow actors and watch their bad works (SJK might turn out to be an exception, but I hope to find a cure for it soon…)
    The dramas I feel bad for: Healer, Pride and Prejudice and currently airing Yongpal. All three had the ingredients to make them crack dramas, but sadly they never came together quite right. Healer got lost in the fan service, the writer of P&P tied herself into too many knots and Yongpal is losing sight of what it supposed to be.

    • @pranx – well I feel nearly no guilt either. The little bit I feel is for not answering your question there yet. But it has been hellish at work and the last thing I want to do at the end of the day is think. But I will do so now. And really So Ji Sub is really the reason I kept watching Bali. He was mesmerising.

      ” SJK is so far off in 2016 its almost unfair!” — what does that mean? Similarly why are you trying to find a cure for your SJK addiction? Though I also am not one to go watch all of someone’s works so if there are ones of his you suggest that will save me effort in deciding.

      I like your answers to the questions other than the fact I feel bad for not doing the homework.

      Does it have to be a show you watch again and again?
      No. But that makes a good candidate. I am not a rewatcher by nature and I find the thought of rewatching most kdramas to be daunting. That being said I have been glad to rewatch the few I have done.

      Do you have one show that’s definitely your number one favorite?
      Not really. I am not one for favourites. Different things appeal at different times. A candidate though is Liar Game but I have not rewatched it. I also know this is because of who I am and would not suggest it to all and sundry. I recommended it to a student at work and I was not surprised that despite never watching a kdrama before she loved it. I think it is a perfect fit for a certain tiny group of people I know.

      Are your favorites the highest quality shows?
      no. but having a special quality without really annoying problems helps.

      And what should I watch next? ♥
      Oh that is too much responsibility for me. You should watch what calls out to you, enjoy it for whatever it is and enjoy your week.

      • Likewise, I’m not a re-watcher by nature. I would recommend letting a couple years pass before do so. Makes the show feel fresh again and you can really objectively see how good a show was. For example, I’m re-watching a show I saw years ago, Hana Kimi (Taiwanese version). Its still so much fun to watch.

        Plus, typically when I’ve found a crack drama, I’ve already seen each episode at least 3-5 times. I agree with you about the daunting task of re-watching. I love KMHM but must I watch it all over again? Not likely. Tried to do that in my KMHM-post depression. I stopped at the first episode. Not all great dramas turn out to be completely re-watchable. The newness of the drama is a factor. But if a drama is binge-worthy it’s definitely good. Like It’s Okay, That’s Love. I had heard about it so much but couldn’t get myself to check it out. It was so good. I was impressed.

    • I totally feel the same for Healer, I don’t hate it but I can’t like it either,
      I feel like romance and work (especially for high unusual job) shouldn’t be tied up to make our heart flutter in kiss but in companionship, togetherness and trust, like someone who cover you in blanket when you sleep in desk but not necessary followed by kissing you after and move you to bed.
      sometimes I think it just my taste but I can;t lie that it did bother me

      • I have a problem when the payback is not commensurate with the crime committed. The leads had sparkling chemistry but the whole story with past and present generations did not come together in the end. My opinion though.

        But I will keep an eye out for PMY and JCW’s future shows.

        I have also observed that I am less critical when I marathon shows. On the other hand if I am watching it while its airing, I have the week to ponder and find inadequacies in the plot, acting, etc.

        • The payback also another reason that just can’t sit right for me,
          I marathon like 1st 5 ep and watch it regularly so I can’t feel right after it ends,
          like something need to be add,

          this makes me want Kdrama has special ep like J-Drama to tied everything up or just to make something clear.

  4. this is a hard things to do…T.T spare my heart
    – Does it have to be a show you watch again and again? Are your favorites the highest quality shows? Are there high-quality shows you respect but can’t quite love?

    yes and no (sometimes I like to preserve my beautiful memory and doesn’t want to watch the sad episode),
    my fave are Reply 1997, KMHM, Jewel in the palace (it flutter my heart every time I watched it), Queen of Seon Deok (Bidam and Mishil, no word needed), The Greatest Love story. Secret (to cry my heart out). Can you Hear my heart (damn to the weird situation with hyung and mom), Prosecutor Princess, IRY………..I think I have a lot but I am not so sure after saying the drama’s title ……

    -Do you have one show that’s definitely your number one favorite? Or is your K-drama love so wide-ranging you have to make a list?

    Can’t choose number one for Drama but for I can a character——-> I think it’s Bidam (Queen of Seon Deok)

    – Do you feel bad for the shows that almost but don’t quite make it onto your favorite list?

    yeah… it hurt me when I know it’s a good show overall but I can’t
    as example: City Hunter (I can’t stand Park Min young character, the shows need to be clever but…she just doesn’t for me, honestly I don’t think the romance should be like that, for me it better like J-Drama romance that preserve simple moment)
    Gaksital (never acknowledge bad acting as much as JSY in gaksital, it did ruin me, like …a lot)
    Reply 1994 (I still bitter cause I watch in real time, I SHOULDN’T)
    IOIL (I like it but I don’t know if it’s my favorite)

    Honestly my list may change, sorry this is so hard for me, Choosing my fave anime would be easier (on second thought, I don’t think so too)

    ^^

  5. And that’s the ultimate question in all forms of art. “What is your favorite piece and under which criteria?”

    If that’s not a difficult choice I wonder what it is! Even choosing a close friend or a bf/gf is not that hard because there is interaction between human beings. Art products, on the other hand, have no gradual improvement nor deterioration in time. That being said, I have to admit that, after 3 years in Kdramaland, there are certain shows that still carry their “magical flair” while others have faded away (not much, though).

    Do we have to rewatch something we like? Nor necessarily. I loved Joseon X-Files but, no matter how many times I watch it, I don’t understand episodes 7 and 8. (BTW, if anyone can help, I’d appreciate it. Thanks!). However, I watched multiple times Greatest Love, Call of The Country, Protect The Boss, You Are Beautiful ( plus Fabulous Boys). I’m sure it doesn’t mean they are the best shows ever,- it only means I love rom-coms or just coms for that matter. We must admit it’s one of the genres that has been neglected by TV globally; besides, Koreans “do it better”, right? 😉
    I haven’t watched Coffee Prince more than once but I know it’s one of the best dramas. It was fresh and unconventional for SK television in 2007. The acting was fantastic and the story…well, the story was not Korean after all. I have watched Secret Garden multiple times but I know it’s not up to par with CF, in terms of artistic value. Maybe, unlike cinema, unique dramas need to be one-time experience only.
    The bottom line is I don’t know which drama is my favorite, :-(. I still like “Kim Sam-soon” but not as much as I used to; City Hall, however, matures with time like a fine wine. Beautiful Days and Princess’s Man also fall under this category. I’m sure KMHM and most shows on tvN will stand the time challenge as well.
    The only certain thing is I don’t find recommendations helpful most of the time and that’s why I avoid them anyway ( unless I’m asked by online communities, of course!). Perhaps I need more time with my “precious” dramas, who knows!!!

  6. Hmm I’m not an “ultimate favorite” kind of person; I’m more of a “flavor of the month” sort of girl as my tastes and interests ebb and flow. I like shows with good plots, acting, cinematography, etc etc, the whole shebang, but I don’t really rewatch dramas. That said, I judge which shows stand the test of time by the vividness of their characters. Although I’m good at recalling basic plot, the specifics will eventually escape me, so even if I revel in excellence when I’m watching it, even if its a “good” show, if the characters don’t stick, I won’t feel strongly about it when it’s over. Sometimes there are shows I didn’t even finish and they’ll still be worth a mention because of its characters.

    Yoona’s Street, Ruler of Your Own Word, Punch, and Heartless City are shows that I still have strong feelings for even though it’s been a while since I’ve watched them.

    Faith I didn’t like enough to finish but was memorable (the King and Queen and Ki Chul are still fond memories). Heart to Heart I skipped the last four episodes but liked the characters and pretty much all of it till that point I’m content to ignore the rest. Bad Guys I loved in theory but plot-wise you can’t think too long or look too close with certain arcs which lowers its ranking but didn’t kill it.

    Coffee Prince never stuck with me. I appreciate it being a rom-com without the bubblegum pop aesthetic that’s standard in K-dramas. But yea, I left it feeling underwhelmed. That was before I frequented blogs and such and so I get it reading people’s explanations, but the feeling eludes me. Heard it Through the Grapevine was satisfyingly excellent but my fondness is all mental (if that makes sense). Some shows I like the conversations that they sparked more than the actual show, like IOIL. Some shows on my to-watch list I can sense my impending love for them, so this list might even change in the next few months. I is fickle huh? ^_^

  7. This is why I like these lists, now I can add Queen of Seon Deok, City Hall, Heartless City to the list after Assembly.

    @erin, my SJK comment was about the fact that his next drama has been pushed to early 2016 from fall 2015. He basically shot to fame (as an actor) with Sungkyunkwan scandal where he plays the most lovable playboy ever. If you are going to check out his works werewolf boy (keep tissues handy) and tree with deep roots (first four episodes) are good to see his acting range.
    Why I want to cure it? Because part of my brain rebels against fangirlism.

  8. I’m COMPLETELY sold to KMHM. I’m still not able to Watch another drama without thinking “It’s not KMHM, so disappointing!” Ha!

  9. I started watching K-Dramas last year and I find it remarkable how you can’t just be a “fan” of k-dramas. You have to make lists. With American or British shows, I never found myself cataloguing the shows I’d watched—or making note of my favorite leads or second leads, or favorite couple moments, or best kisses (I think every K-drama fan probably has a list of the latter), —but with K-dramas it just enhances the whole experience, and feels inextricably essential to the process of both watching K-dramas and being a K-drama fan. And I’m with you on how useful these lists can be for newbies, because honestly, without Dramabeans and Outside Seoul and their intelligent, thought-provoking reviews, I probably would have have watched more of the crap (let’s admit, there’s plenty of that out there) and less of the heart-stirringly-mind-meltingly-irresistably-feel-good dramas that I’ve watched and loved since last year—I’ve watched a lot.

    When it comes to picking favorites, I have two different lists (I can do that right? … I probably can’t, but oh well): the first represents those dramas that are both qualitatively excellent (writing, acting, directing, production… all top notch) and emotionally fulfilling; and the second represents those dramas that I love irrationally, that just make me smile endlessly—not quite guilty pleasures (because I refuse to be apologetic about something I enjoy so unabashedly) but definitely the kind of dramas I would only recommend with many many qualifiers pinned to them. Dramas that only tickle my intellect never make the grade (I’m looking at you Joseon X-Files … and yes, I don’t get episodes 7 and 8 either, but I think they were brilliant); K-dramas represent my zone of optimal feeling, any intellectual stimulation is just gravy to be honest.

    Here’s my first list (the “for public pleasure and consumption” list):
    1. Coffee Prince (2007): Fantastic and loveable characters (leading and supporting), an almost-perfect evolution of a romantic relationship from animosity to friendship to angst-ridden-denial to deep and abiding love, a killer soundtrack, and one of the best first kisses of all time. Basically rainbows and unicorns. What’s not to like?
    2. Secret Love Affair (2014): I’m a sucker for a good noona romance, but this one took it to a whole other level. The passion combined with the restraint (in both the film-making and the relationship) made this a truly special watch.
    3. Thank You (2007): I keep remembering a scene near the end of this drama where the leads just stare at each other for a long stretch and say nothing, and yet they say everything—every possibly emotion you could conceive. I rewinded that scene more than any other I’ve ever watched (though the handcuff kiss in Me Too, Flower, comes in at a close second).
    4. The Princess’s Man (2011): Epic, grandiose, and sweepingly romantic. It was every historical romance I’d ever read come vividly to life in marvelous Technicolor and it may have knocked North and South (Gaskell not Jakes) off the perch as my favorite period drama of all time.
    5. I Remember You (2015): I loved your commentary on this one Odessa and completely agree. But I’m already there when it comes to recognizing what an underrated marvel this drama was. I replay the theme song, “Dear Cloud” constantly; it lingers in the best way, as do the questions that the drama poses about human nature. And Seo In Guk. (That is a complete sentence in my opinion).
    6. It’s Okay, That’s Love (2014): Quirky and offbeat, just like its OST. But also sexy and smart and fun.
    7. Master’s Sun (2013): Oh the feels. Even amnesia could not topple this one from the list.
    8. Answer Me 1997 (2012): The bleating and the incomprehensibly screechy fangirling aside, the 90s nostalgia had me at hello.
    9. Shut Up Flower Boy Band (2012): All the reviews said this one was more about the bromance, and yes, the bromance was something special, but I have a soft spot for the romance too. Restraint and maturity and poignancy are hardly words I thought I’d ever associate with a drama about teen rockers, but there you have it … except for the title (who comes up with these titles, seriously?)
    10. Healer (2015): I know, it’s not getting a lot of love from some of the commentators above, but this one just seemed to have it all. I’d probably pick this as “The” gateway K-Drama to get others hooked.

    Here’s my second list (the “my happy place may not be your happy place” list):
    1. Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy / Hello My Teacher (2005): The first few episodes were a bit hard to watch … they veered too dramatically into awkwardly crazy, but then, somewhere along the way, the drama finds its tone and your heart melts into a puddle of cherry-blossom-infused mush. And Gong Yoo. (Another perfect sentence).
    2. King of High School (2014): Yes, logic was abandoned with this one, and yes, he’s in high school (this was a deal breaker for many fans). But the characters were all so adorably quirky and the story was so heart-warming and genuinely funny that I could probably watch the whole thing again on a loop … ad infinitum.
    3. Oh My Ghost (2015): The concept was so off the wall, but the execution was perfect. This one made me laugh, cry, swoon, then rinse and repeat.
    4. City Hall (2009): The heroine was so awful in the first few episodes that I almost gave up on this drama, but I’m so glad I didn’t. She changes realistically and the romance was a perfect tango—intense, passionate, full of sharp turns and dips and twirls, and perfectly beautiful to watch.
    5. My Love From Another Star (2013): I really really love Cheon Song Yi, she’s such a fabulous character, but I can see how she’d be completely over the top for some—as were some aspects of the plot-hole-infested plot. But shellacked exterior aside, this drama really had heart and it kinda stole mine.

    So sorry for the long reply, but I couldn’t resist.

    • @pranx Totally get you aversion to fangirlism. There are actors that I think are amazing, like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and I will consider shows they are in but if it doesn’t grab me their presence will not be enough.

      I am with you for liking the lists. As you know I have already watched several on your list. And just recently I have watched heartless city and secret love affair which are both mentioned in this thread. I really enjoyed both but of course it is too early to consider them for favourites. Still I look forward to you finishing Heartless City as I want to know if you had similar feelings to me at the end. Are you enjoying Assembly? I have it on my possible watch list.

      @Rouny I love your 2 list breakdown. I think we all have those shows we know onjectively are not the great but that we love anyways. There were so many shows on your list that I liked I will now put those I have not seen on to my possibles list. So thank you for writing up the mini reviews.

      my list (repeat from other thread)
      favourites: Liar Game, A Word from Warm Heart, and Coffee Prince

      Might be favourites but I am not decided: My Name is Kim Samsoon, Kill Me Heal Me, Moon Embracing the Sun

      Not a favourite, but stuck in my brain: Faith, City Hunter, Healer, Personal Taste

      Looking the over I realised that I had not mentioned either Its Ok, Thats Love or That Winter the Wind Blows. They both fall into the “not a favourite, but stuck in my brain” list. What I find funny is that in That Winter the Wind Blows I have to take it off a favourites list because of Jo In Sung’s mouth breathing acting. I wanted to reach through the screen and smack his chin. But in Its Okay, That’s Love I thought his acting was the thing that elevated the crazy story into near favourite zone. Plus the soundtrack is bar none the best on any kdrama I’ve seen.

      In rereading that thread I was reminded of our votes for posters so bad/misleading that they caused us to nearly miss a good show. So far we have I Remember You and Master’s Sun. I want to nominate Secret Love Affair’s poster for inclusion. First off she does not look like that at all, second there is never a scene like that and thirdly it wrongly suggests that she is this older woman attacking a helpless young man. Misleading and ugly.

    • I really, really like the way you think 🙂 But the ” two lists” (“micro”-)cheating do make things worse. Which list has the advantage for you and why? To which list do you go back more often? Which one would you suggest to a friend of yours who has no previous experience in K-dramas? It’s getting more complicated each year, no doubt…but still, having two separate lists is brilliant by all means 😉

      • Oh now you have spawned a whole new list “Shows to suggest to a kdrama virgin”.

        I think those shows have to be chosen carefully and be tailored to what you know might draw that specific friend in. Oddly I have suggested “Miss Granny” because while it is a movie it has a lot of the same feel as a kdrama. Plus the short time frame is an easier sell than 20 hours. I did get a convert with Liar Game and my mother is currently enjoying Coffee Prince, but I would never suggest Liar Game to her.

        • So, the shows on your first list are the ones you think they have an international appeal (even to a newbie viewer) while your second list is more personal. Well, I think this approach seems to be very clever. We should all adapt ourselves to your system and start all over again. Coffee Prince is mythical, no one argues on that, but King of High School is deliriously funny. Liar Game could have been a show on a US cable channel ( and it might even have won an Emmy Award, on top of that) but Fated To Love You, You Are Beautiful or Greatest Love are more targeted to K-ent’s buffs. After 3 years, I don’t feel guilty about enjoying less “glamorous” dramas (or less recommended for that matter) and your system has completely set me free, thanks… 🙂

  10. @erin

    I’m halfway through Assembly. I’ll only say you have to watch first 5 episodes rather than the usual 4 to decide whether or not to continue 🙂 And be prepared for an overkill of Mozart’s symphony 40.

    To me its an uneven ride. On the plus side, the show delves into the nitty gritty of politics, West Wing style. Also the female lead is awesome! This show should have centered around her. On the bad side, other female characters (other most characters) are reduced to caricatures. And I was unexpectedly hit with noble idiocy and resulting misunderstandings in this drama, the last place I expected to find them. Oh and did I mention Mozart?

    Another OST which I felt was sampled in this drama (the nostalgia!)

    • sorry for unrelated content, I had thought to watch Assembly (and it already over too)
      Thanks for posting Kenshin related, I still remember crying after read the manga (that chapter, a young Kenshin) in junior high and then watch the OVA years later and still crying although I already memorize the story….

      Idk if this is anybody taste, but how about this song as background for this article, (don’t mind the MV)

  11. Oh, WordPress, why do you mock me! I wrote a thoughtful reply to your thoughtful replies–and WordPress erased it mercilessly. This fits with the fact that I’ve had a long, frustrating week. So this will be a shorter post than originally!

    But at the end of a long, frustrating week, I was so psyched to read about so many interesting shows I haven’t see yet. Some have been on my list for a long time (Heartless City, You’re Beautiful) and others I’ve never seriously considered watching but would probably love (King of High School Savvy is probably just my kind of silly rom com).

    I like that K-dramas don’t have Established Arbiters of Good Taste (though the folks at Drama Beans come close sometimes) so we feel free to like what we like. Different people are touched by different things. K-dramas usually make a strong appeal to the emotions rather than the intellect, so everyone’s list of favorites is different. This makes it hard to recommend shows to other people. There are shows beloved at DramaBeans that set my teeth on edge (Flower Boy Ramyun Shop), and others I love that never got a mention there (Protect the Boss). But so much disagreement is more fun than if we had an Emmy-nominating committee imposing their idea of what’s good. (I love good criticism, but all too often it devolves into “what’s good and what’s bad.” And too often that has come to equal “stuff men like is good, stuff women like is bad.”)

    @ Pranx: Thanks for the Assembly review! I’ve watched the first four episodes and I love the smart heroine and the complex politics. Not sure if I’ll keep going but I’ll follow your advice and watch episode 5.

    @ Rouny: The phrase “north and south (gaskell not jakes)” made my day (Koreans aren’t the only ones with confusing titles). I agree with you about “I Remember You” (glad you liked my commentary!). That show haunts me at odd moments. Smart AND beautiful.

    BTW, “And Gong Yoo” is definitely a complete sentence!

    I can’t remember the other things I wrote–did I mention it’s been a long week?–but I do sense an upcoming post about Misleading K-drama Posters. (Thanks Erin! You’re a shameless Thread Hijacker and I salute you. :))

    I hope everyone has a good weekend!

  12. oh I loved the West Wing so perhaps 5 episodes of Assembly are in my future. Although I am now being tempted by the British TV fall season. That did not stop me from finishing Master’s Sun (was it meant to be a parody?).

    I don’t try to hijack threads I just have a wandering sieve like brain – honest. (did I ever post hat links for you?)

    • Aargh, the Dark Past plotline in Master’s Sun is so ridiculous! That show just goes to prove that something can make it onto my favorites list without actually making any sense. If it made sense, I probably wouldn’t like it as much.

      • Well the silliness is part of the charm. And I am glad I watched it. The ghost stories were often weak but as they were only the bits of string that tied our OTP together that did not bother me. But the stilted delivery of So Ji Sub did. Given that he is a good actor I had to wonder if it was a send-up.

        • Funny you should mention that. Have you seen any of Greatest Love, the Hong Sisters previous show with Gong Hyo-Jin? I have a theory So Ji-Sub is basically playing Cha Seung-Won playing his character in Greatest Love. There’s something eerie about how similar the two characters are, and it goes beyond the one-dimensionality of the characters. Can’t say it’s a send-up, but I wonder about this.

      • SJS didn’t embrace hilarity as much as CSW did in GL, miss Odessa. But I see where you’re coming from,- I was able to depict the similarities between the two of them, in terms of character and acting, throughout the show.
        SJS was probably scared of a completely ridiculous persona (perhaps in regard to his previous roles?) and Hong sisters didn’t push him (and their luck, of course) beyond his “boiling point”. CSW, as an older actor with much previous experience in comedy, measured himself against hilarity and came out as a fantastic Dokko Jin, an achievement that it was his personal victory, aside from the writers’ perspective!

        • Somehow I could never really get into Greatest Love, though Cha Seung Won was great. (And I still think of Dokko Jin whenever I see the Korean word for “cow.”) I blame my lack of enthusiasm for GL more on the Hong Sisters than on CSW. As for why I like MS, which is also by the Sisters (and also stars GHJ), it might be because I like ghost stories. Having the occasional angry dead person wandering through the story helped.

      • Master’s Sun was the first SJS and GHJ drama I had seen. I didn’t know of them before that (kdrama infancy). I loved her whimsical acting and his deadpan delivery! I read this was his first comedic role, maybe thats why the delivery felt off, but I didn’t notice it, since I had nothing to compare it against at the time. And can I say I hated the neck scarves? They are so great gatsby era! Made him age at least 10 years I feel.

        • I have not seen greatest love so can’t comment.

          The neck scarves were another thing that made me wonder if it was a parody. But I think you must be correct in that they were going for deadpan. It was a very sweet show. Though I prefer the ghost aspect of Oh My Ghostess. I would like to see SJS in another comedic role to see if it was the show or him. I did just watch him in Sunny Day and while it is not a comedy there are some moments where he is simply a happy guy and he pulls that off quite well. Plus he is in my all time favourite k-drama shower scene.

          And your description of Assembly leaves me thinking maybe I’ll avoid. She was pretty is annoying me again but less so. And yes I’m only vaguely wandering around the topic but as Odessa has labelled me a “shameless thread hijacker” I guess I won’t worry about it.

    • Finally finished Assembly. Its an earnest show, I give credit for that. But it took a conscious effort on my part to finish it off. There is only so much I can take about a naive yet earnest politician. To truly enjoy this, I think you need some insight into Korean politics, which I totally lack. But what held my attention was Aide Choi (Song Yoon A). I can recommend this show only for her, the actress and the character.

      After gaining encyclopedic knowledge about the process of drafting a bill and making a law, She was pretty is the perfect show to unwind.

  13. Just stopping by here to thank @erin for Liar Game! I confess I binge watched it. So. Very. Good! I hope there is a season 2! I can’t recommend it enough.
    Also @museofmanymasks for recommending Heartless City, saw 4 episodes and it has gripped me.

    • oh how wonderful! I am so glad you enjoyed it. Are you a math or logic lover? I am! I adored this show so much and appreciated there was no romance. though I was fully expecting one so I was a bit confused. Sadly I think there will not be a second season.

      Heartless City was a total find for me also based on this thread. so thank you @museofmanymasks.

      I am once again on bed rest and took the time to re-watch some of Liar Game and that lead me to watching Life is Beautiful. I only meant to get a feel for a different LSY show. He was not great but I at least partially blame the director. But the show had me hooked and actually weeping. Not just misty eyed, but weeping. The step mother-son relationship is so utterly beautiful (not sad- just beautiful). All but two of the characters are extremes of some type and at first I found it annoying. But the payoff was so huge by episode 21-ish that those extremes became required for the story. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would watch a 63 episode show and now I am already wondering how long it will be before I re-watch it all.

      • I am a math and logic lover. The lack of romance didn’t bother me in the least since I never got that vibe from the lead pair. I’m just confused by one part in the final episode…following question will have a major SPOILER so be warned.

        Why does do young load her gun? Why does he want to die by her hand?

        • So I have a mind like a steel sieve and have forgotten a lot of the detail of Liar Game despite having just re-watched it recently. So when I first saw your post I thought I would go watch the scene again but I have not. So my answer quality may be a wee bit impaired.

          I think he wants to ruin their lives and he does not care if he lives or dies after the final game. If I recall correctly he is not too pleased about escaping from prison later on either. He is a tortured soul who hates her for escaping and hates Ha Woo-jin for being the real son. If she kills him then she loses her virtuous character and HWJ fails at protecting her. He can rob them both at the same time. And if it goes wrong then HJW being dead is still pretty good. But that is just my really foggy memory talking

    • I finally saw Liar Game some months ago. I binged it. It wasn’t the gritty thing i expected it to be. The Dramaverse never turn out like you think in your head, which makes K-dramas so delightful (most of the time). I loved the first 8 episodes. I was totally impressed. It’s a show I could see coming on American TV for sure. However, at about episode 8 it stopped blowing me away. I may never be sure why, Glad I watched it though. I’m thankful that I got to see the lead actor too. He really was distractingly attractive.

  14. I am currently watching I Have a Lover. It’s my favorite one of 2015! 30 episodes in and it’s still very good! Great script, directing, acting, and ost. The first 9 episodes are really intense. Emotionally draining.

      • Give it a shot but I completely understand tackling a 50 episode drama. I started watching I Have a Lover not knowing it was 50 episodes lol. I was wondering why things were going at a slower pace than what I was used to. If you do start I can’t wait to hear what you have to say. Your thoughts and writing about KD is one of the best I’ve seen so far! 🙂

        • Maybe it’s because of the pacing that I get impatient with long dramas, or maybe it’s just habit…around the time we get to episode 20, I’m always expecting it to wrap up!

  15. Here are my top 6 favourites (I actually have 14 but that might be too long). I’ve also rated them but the dilemma is always “how do I rate these shows? Quality vs. Feels vs. Acting vs. Plot?” So in reality, there are shows I loved more but on an objective level they just couldn’t get higher ratings than some others. Okay, okay. Here’s my top 6.

    1) Kill Me Heal Me 5/5
    2) You Who Came From the Stars 5/5
    3) The Princess Man 5/5
    4) Good Doctor 5/5
    5) Beethoven’s Virus 4.9/5
    6) It’s Okay, That’s Love 4.9/5

    P.S There are some shows that should probably be here but I haven’t seen them for so long I’ve no idea how to rate them. I’d have to re-watch them. Also, the new drama, Splash Splash Love would be no. 7 but I can’t rate it since its not over yet.

    Some not mentioned here include: Ho Goo’s Love, You’re Beautiful, Dream High, King 2 Hearts, Pinocchio, She Was Pretty, Ex-Girlfriend Club.

    I’m clearly obsessed…

    • Hi Camille! It’s so hard to narrow it down, right? It’s fun in one way, because it makes us think about what we care about most. Turns out that you and I agree that KMHM and IOTL are amazing even if some other people don’t like the tone changes. I think I give big points to shows that make me think about people in a different way. Your longer list has reminded me that Dream High and K2H are still on my list for future watching. Not enough time!

      The first half of Splash Splash Love was way cute. I love Kim Seul-Gi and I hope she’s in tons more things. Hope you’re well!

      • Hi Odessa unni! Been so long. I actually have two lists. One has the shows that I completed and their ratings. The other is really a document of lists. I have my top favourites at the beginning of the document. But it has all kinds of other things in it such as favourite actors and actresses, best songs and soundtracks, guilty pleasures, underrated dramas, best drama endings of all time etc. I started to document what I watch in that same document too. For each year there are these headings at the top, next to each other: ‘finished’, ‘watching’, ‘unfinished’ (dramas I might continue at some point), ‘dropped’ and (the newly added) ‘re-watching’. I’m constantly updating this list. Right now this is what my headings look like:

        2015 Finished: 22, Watching: 8, Dropped: 6 , Unfinished: 6, Re-watched: 1

        Under this I’d have all the dramas I’ve seen in that year.

        It irks me that I’m watching so many dramas at the moment but these days it’s so hard to resist the urge to check out new dramas. The Korean dramas I’m still watching are Yong Pal, High School King of Savvy (a cliffhanger has left it on hold for months), Splash Splash Love, Twenty Again and Misaeng.

        I also really try to keep my unfinished count as low as possible because the more you haven’t completed the less appealing it becomes to finish them.

        Anyway, I could go on forever but all the best to you! I hope you’re getting adequate rest. And I hope you enjoy the holidays 🙂

        • Wow! I’m impressed by your list. I think there must be something about K-drama fandom that encourages list-making. I admit I dropped a LOT of shows in 2015. Of the shows that came out in 2015, I finished 9 of them. But I dropped roughly 26! Of those 26, I stopped watching roughly 9 of them after the first episode (or sometimes even part of the first episode). The other 17 I watched more of, but I didn’t finish them and don’t intend to. (This includes a bunch of popular shows where I watched half and then read DB’s recaps for the rest, ex., Yongpal.)

          But I’m usually only watching one or two shows at a time. For me they are like novels, and I like to get really absorbed. I hope you finish King of High School Savvy! If you haven’t finished, believe me there’s still good stuff to come. I hope you are having good holidays, Camille! Take care!

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