This year, I’ve decided that it’s too taxing to write something about all the dramas that I’ve watched, so I’m going to cherry pick those that imho are worth that 24h if any one of us KDrama addicts, decides to watch dramas instead of insert-what-other-people-would-have-done in the last 24h of their lives. It’s a tough choice, since I think this year’s offerings are really good, save for a few disappointing dramas (Moon Lovers, I’m looking at you). Without further ado, here we go!
This drama wins hands down. It’s THE drama of 2016, ushering in the year without much fanfare, but leaving all us who watched it raving months after it’s ended. Almost a year has passed, but I still hold fond memories of our detective trio, transcending the time-space boundary and solve crimes together. The writing is nifty, the action awesome, and most importantly it sets people thinking – the choices we make, are they really for the best? I can’t wait for the sequel, and it better be just as good!
Pied Piper: Tried too hard to be smart-alecky, but well, efforts for trying.
W – Two Worlds: If not for that last 3 episodes, it’s oh-so-good, blowing my mind away week aftter week.
Dear My Friends
I love its message about life, love and friends. It’s a drama that’s so realistic (save for that ubiquitous truck-o-doom), I sometimes forget that it’s scripted and feels I’m just watching the veterans being themselves. Show is a timely reminder to us younger folks that before being our elders, these senior citizens were once young before, and while their chansori (nags) ARE annoying, they mean well and most of the time they’ve been in our situations before. I may not necessarily want to watch this again, but it’s definitely a drama that’s worth all the time spent to digest the message behind it, and to appreciate the stellar performance from the cast.
Fantastic: The three ladies reconnecting and rallying behind each other. Girl friends FTW!
One More Happy Ending: Four ladies being there for each other. ‘Nuff said.
Best Fushion Saguek
Moonlight Drawn by Clouds
This is such a feel good fluffy drama that happens to be in a period setting, which means all that politicking may marr your viewing experience, if you ain’t no sageuk fan, that is. And that ending. Everyone loves their happy endings, but I’d rather history not be disregarded all together in this case. Nonetheless, Show was really enjoyable, with our leads being cute together. I wouldn’t say they had sizzling chemistry, but it’s always good to have eye candies on my screen, working on a reasonable story. I remember telling a friend, if W blows my mind weekly, Moonlight melts my heart. I was a puddle of goo when both were airing in the same week, heh. And who can resist Park Bo Gum?
Mirror of the Witch: If only the good guys were smarter.
What can I say about this. From quirky characters to quirky soundtracks (No no no no no~~~), Show is in a class of its own. Never had there been such amicable love triangles (ok, kinda amicable), or so many parallels going on among the characters (ie, 3 love triangles between 9 characters, imagine that!). The chemistry between Jo Jung Seok and Gong Hyo Jin is so awesome I feel my TV unable to take the heat sometimes. It’s THE drama while it aired, and I’m sure it’ll be just like Signal, leaving people raving about it months after it ended. It’s a drama that’s more about the characters than the plot (a signature of this scriptwriter), and I do hope it does raise the awareness of male breast cancer patients among us. Lee Hwa Shin x Pyo Na-ri, hwaiting!
Shopping King Louis: One of the most non-threatening dramas of 2016. Bok-shil ah!
Beautiful Gong-shim: Namgoong Min brings a notch up to being a wacky chaebol.
Lucky Romance: If fortune-telling and believing superstitions are your thing.
Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho
Park Shin Yang IS Jo Deul-ho, and I simply cannot imagine anyone else playing the character. His over-flowing self-confidence is what unnerves his opponents, but he plays the card so well one cannot help but concede defeat. Some of the side characters are simply for comedy relief, but they’re needed when the plot becomes a wee bit dark. The villains are pretty one-dimensional, but it doesn’t matter coz we’re in this for Jo Deul-ho. I do hope the sequel will be just as interesting, and do give us more scenes of Jo Deul-ho and his daughter!
Ms Temper and Nam Jung-ki: I love the ambiguity in the lovelines, and the focus that remained on office ethics.
The Good Wife
I haven’t watched the original, but I have to say this has to be the best Korean adaptation I’ve seen so far. So many were a disappointment (Moon Lovers, I’m looking at you again), but this drama managed to remain faithful to the original, yet added in the Korean nuances not in the original. The entire cast put up a stellar performance, and it’s difficult to imagine other artistes in the same role. Show moves on a fast pace, and often details are missed if you’re not paying attention. I know Yoo Ji-tae‘s character Lee Tae Joon is a b***ard but he exudes such charm that I totally understood why Hye Kyung (Jeon Do Yeon) fell for him. It’s better late than never to discover he’s a snake, but their lives have become so intertwined that she can’t just leave him and start a brand new chapter of her life. I didn’t root of either of the guys, the other being Yoon Kye Sang‘s Seo Joong Won, since he’s not a total angel either, and I really wished Hye Kyung and rid herself of either man and establish her own footing in the legal world. Alas, 16 episodes was too short to condense a drama that spanned 7 seasons, so I’m good with what we had.
Woman with a Suitcase: IMO, this is a Choi Ji Woo drama through and through.
Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: And this is a Han Seok Kyu drama, although the other characters are interesting as well.
Bonus (if you’re able to manipulate time)
Oh My Geum-bi
Still airing, but if you like your main characters pint-sized, this is highly recommended. I cannot stress enough how talented Heo Jung Eun is, injecting life and nuances to her character that perhaps even some of the adult (idol) actresses are incapable of. The storytelling is solid, and despite the gloom looming over the characters’ heads, there’s always a lighthearted moment reminding us that there’s something to smile for in life.
Jang Young Shil
This. Any sageuk lovers should not miss this out. I do find the pace of Show a little jarring, too slow in front and too rushed at the back. 24 episodes is pretty short to retell the life of such an interesting historical character, but well I guess it’d be a good 24 hours spent if it’s your last 24 hours eh? Song Il-kook is awesome as the titular character, and his bromance with Kim Sang Kyung‘s King Sejong is lovely.
I know there’re several other dramas which I watched, but didn’t mention here. Some were worth the time spent (Bring it on, Ghost!, Marriage Contract), some were meh (Prison Flower, Doctors, The K2), while others I demand a refund of time (Madame Antoine, Monster, Moon Lovers).
Well, I hope 2016 had been a great KDrama viewing experience for you, and may 2017 bring us even more exciting new dramas! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!