March Drama Report: Ratings and Reviews

The show I cared about most in March was Kill Me, Heal Me, but now it’s time to look around. What other shows did well in March? And what buzz-worthy shows should I check out now that we’ve run out of split personality dramas?


Though I’m not into weekend dramas, I’m fascinated by the news that SBS cut My Heart Twinkle Twinkle from a planned 50 episodes down to 26. The show had very low ratings, but that’s still a lot of episodes to ax.

The show taking over the My Heart time-slot is Divorce Lawyer in Love. Fortunately, producers thought ahead, and it started pre-production back in January. It starts airing April 18. Yeon Woo-Jin (Arang and the Magistrate, Marriage not Dating) and Cho Yeo-Jeong (I Need Romance) are in this one, so I’m keeping my eye on it.

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“Queen’s Flower”: I want to eat this publicity poster.

At KBS and MBS, weekend dramas continue to pay the bills by pulling in big audiences. The top three shows on weekends are 50 episode family dramas: Bluebird’s House (KBS), Rosy Lovers (MBC) and Flower of the Queen (MBC). Bluebird and Lovers are getting audience shares in the mid-twenties. I’m glad to hear Bluebird is doing well, because it’s Lee Jun-Hyuk‘s first outing as first lead, after years of playing great second lead roles.

Back in December, the historical drama Maids (JTBC) nearly ceased production after airing only one episode, when a fire broke out, killed one crew member and destroyed the set. The ending of the story is less unhappy than it could have been, however. After pausing for some weeks, they resumed production. When Maids wrapped up its 20 episodes at the end of March, it averaged three percent audience share, an excellent number for a drama on cable. I’m glad to hear the effort paid off, because it must have been emotionally and logistically difficult to get back into production.

Lastly, weekend historical epic Jing Bi Rok (KBS) is hanging in there at a respectable ten percent audience share.

Mondays and Tuesdays

No Monday-Tuesday drama was a huge winner in March, but Blood (KBS) was the clear loser. The vampire medical drama is maintaining ratings between four and six percent. Meanwhile, teen mom melodrama Heard it Through the Grapevine (SBS) averages percentages in the low teens, and Jang Hyuk and Oh Yeon-Seo‘s costume drama Shine or Go Crazy (MBC) is just behind it.

Heard it Through the Grapevine has had steadily increasing popularity among Seoul audiences. Shine or Go Crazy has also seen some slow audience growth, enough to reassure us that the show might hang on to its spot as #2 Monday-Tuesday drama.

The unusual romantic comedy Hogu’s Love (aka Fool’s Love) wrapped up with respectable cable drama ratings averaging 1.1 percent. (For comparison, Liar’s Game averaged 1 percent.)

Unkind_Ladies poster for Korean drama 2015
“Unkind Women”

It also made it onto the CPI’s list of “most buzzed about” dramas briefly in early March. Since it talked about acquaintance rape, abortion, single motherhood—and touched on homosexuality in an overly roundabout way—it certainly gave people something to buzz about. Uee did an excellent job, and Choi Woo-Sik rocked it in his first outing as leading man. After seeing him play comic characters it was fun to see him go emo. Good job, everyone at Hogu!

Wednesdays and Thursdays

Sigh, how rich were my Wednesdays and Thursdays.

But while I was wrapped up in Cha Do-Hyun and Oh Ri-Jin, what else was going on? Well, for one thing, Kill Me, Heal Me (MBC) was consistently the second most popular drama on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Its fans were ardent, but outnumbered by the viewers for multi-generational family drama Unkind Women (KBS).

Kill Me, Heal Me reached fourth place in the rankings briefly in mid-February, but lost ground as March went on. In the end, it averaged decent ratings of 10 percent outside Seoul and 11 to 13 percent in Seoul.

Those are respectable numbers, but apparently Unkind Women also has a lump of appeal. (I’m tempted to make a joke about Song Jae-Rim being in it.) Its audience share was a couple percentage points higher than Kill Me, Heal Me in the first half of March, and it picked up additional viewers after Cha Do-Hyun and Oh Ri-Jin found their happy ending. By the beginning of April, it was one of the top five mid-week shows, and the undisputed top drama in this timeslot.

Lest anyone worry Kill Me, Heal Me didn’t get its fair share of attention, it was one of the “most buzzed about” shows in February and March according to marketing firm CJ E&M’s “Content Power Index.” The calculations for “content power” look at factors besides ratings, including news articles, online searches and social media discussion.

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“Angry Mom”

The CPI is typically dominated by variety shows and reality shows. In early February, the only drama among the top five “most discussed” was Kill Me, Heal Me. By the end of its run in mid-March, Kill Me, Heal Me was the number 1 show for “content power,” beating out the usual suspects like Running Man and Infinity Challenge.

My conclusion? Unkind Women had more viewers, but Kill Me, Heal Me viewers spend more time on the internet—and are more long-winded. No one who visits my site will be surprised!

Melodrama-turning-increasingly-comic-to-everyone’s-relief Angry Mom took over from Kill Me, Heal Me in mid-March and sits comfortably in second place behind Unkind Women. It has potential to rise in the ratings through word of mouth, though. It rose to top place in that Content Power Index at the start of April.

At the bottom of the barrel, in every sense, was Hyun Bin‘s comeback project Hyde, Jekyll, Me (SBS). Its low ratings remained consistent throughout March. I gather its incoherent plot and slow-as-molasses-in-January pacing remained consistent as well.

After watching a few episodes of Hyde, Jekyll, Me and reading recaps, I’m torn between feeling very sorry for everyone involved and feeling astonished that any reasonably intelligent human beings could have produced such a muddle. A perfect storm like this required failure on the part of the producer, director and writer, all working together.

But now that Girl Who Sees Smells (aka Sensory Couple) has taken over that time slot, the SBS audience for Wednesdays and Thursdays has already increased substantially. And this is a show I have to check out. Park Yoo-Chun (Rooftop Prince) and Shin Se-Kyung (Blademan) are excellent and the vibe sounds comic, with prospects of good chemistry and light melodrama to come.

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“Falling for Innocence”

Cable Buzz

Lastly, the cable shows may include a few worth checking out. Let’s Eat 2 starts this week. I’m confused by how it will connect to the original (or not), since it stars the same male lead, but it may have the same light slice-of-life feel.

Early viewer response to Missing Noir M says it may be an interesting thriller, but I haven’t checked it out. I’m not big on thrillers. Viewers watching Superdaddy Yeol say it’s melodrama with impending tears, but sincere and warm. And the 19+ comedy The Lover is described memorably at the blog Dramajjang as “a brothel of soul-corrupting disharmony,” but that’s a positive review—it’s an unusually frank show about couples living together, including (blast the trumpets!) potential for a homosexual love story with a happy ending.

Early episodes of heart-transplant melodrama Falling for Innocence (aka Fall in Love with Soon-Jung) make it sound like a relatively standard cold-businessman-finds-redemption story. But its promo posters made it look relatively light and comic. It has one of my favorite actresses, Kim So-Yeon (Prosecutor PrincessI Need Romance 3), so I’ll keep my eye on it. ♥

8 thoughts on “March Drama Report: Ratings and Reviews

  1. Thanks a lot for the reference, it’s pretty much appreciated! As for Queen’s Flower’s cover it’s indeed gorgeous and only right now i found out there are subs lurking around for some of its eps! Lee Sung Kyung caught instantly my attention on It’s OK, that’s Love due to her immense charms and she was the reason i wanted to watch Queen’s Flower in the first place, now that subs are out and if drama time is gentle upon me i’ll start it!

    • Ooo, I hope you’re able to watch it and share some recaps or impressions! The cast looks awesome. I wasn’t crazy about the character Lee Sung-Kyung played in That’s Ok, but I was impressed at her acting. And Lee Jong-Hyuk is a weakness of mine since being one of the only things I liked about Gentleman’s Dignity. I’m wondering what Kim Sung-Ryoung will be like–I’ve only seen her in Heirs, where she was really funny and good at making fun of herself. I figure if she can do comedy well, she can do anything. I’m so happy for all these talented actors that they’ve got leading parts in a long, meaty drama. Darn it! I’ve almost convinced myself to watch it. But 50 episodes! Maybe I’ll just watch a little…

      • Everything’s just so promising about this drama but the number of the episodes! It’s easy to lose the course between fill-in moments. Another one that delivered all the good vibes is Blue Bird’s House (50 eps too), i have watched the first 2 eps and it felt like a user-friendly drama environment with great chemistry among the young characters, as for the elders, typical k-drama elders full of secrets in the past that will eventually come out in the future. 😛 i want to watch and write about so many dramas but time’s always an enemy. Recaps take hours, week-caps are better, but still take lots of time, quarter reviews are good too but chances are high you’ll miss something having to write about 4 eps in one article. I need an extra pair of automatic hands and an external drive brain to fast-forwards my thought-signals on my fingers to write as fast as possible 😛 My Heart Twinkle Twinkle is a really good drama as i’ve watched the first 15 eps, it’s dark, darker than expected for a world of chickens and there are many stories in the background waiting explanations, hope the episode reduction won’t affect the many stories and characters negatively…

        • For people watching My Heart Twinkle Twinkle, it’s a pretty ridiculous change. I don’t know what I’d do if I were the writer. I saw the first episode and Bae Soo-Bin’s character kinda scared me–he was definitely dark. I tell myself I won’t start watching a 50 ep drama because of the time, but then, I used to tell myself I would never write recaps because they take too much time! The only solution is to have extra hands!

  2. I’m not sure if I should thank you or not for this. I mean it is not like I don’t have other things to do in my life. But I confess even before I read this post I saw The Lover being promoted on Viki and thought it might be interesting. I really liked Choi Yeo Jin in Emergency Couple even if it was not the most amazing show.

    On a side note I do try and click through when I get one of your articles in email. So I was glad to see this one proper;y visible since the last review was not. Thanks again for your time on this blog.

    • I know, I’m kind of regretting it myself. It would be easier to resist temptation if I didn’t know what was on. “The Lover” sounds totally outrageous but it’s out to make an impression! I’m glad to hear that the emails go through, though I’m sorry they don’t always go through correctly. The travails of WordPress! At least I haven’t been hacked by ISIL. (I’m not making this up: someone in central Iraq keeps trying to break in!) Thanks so much for reading!

      • Sorry if I was unclear. The email of the review for Swallow the Sun came to my inbox no problem. But the links to your blog give 404 errors and if I try to find that review on your site it is not visible.

        • Oh! I know what happened! I think what happened was a few days ago I was working on that review, as a draft, and one of the times I went to save it, I accidentally hit publish. I changed the status right back to draft, because I’m still working on it, but it must have sent out emails. Sorry! It’s the one thing about the WordPress system that worries me most–I’m always coming close to accidentally posting things I haven’t finished, because of how the buttons are located. But I’m glad I could figure out why you got 404s–the bane of my existence. And in a couple days I’ll have a chance to finish the draft. Thank you for explaining! 🙂

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