kooriyuki: Because sab doesn’t want to do a full year in review, we’ve decided to do a combined post, by all of us here.
sab: Yes, I am lazy. But I also don’t think anyone would be so driven to read lengthy posts.
kooriyuki: Nooooo I do read long posts! But anyways, let’s get on with our thoughts of the Kdramas of 2018.
kooriyuki: More often than not, what’s memorable to me may not be the best drama of the year, and there’s no difference for this year’s offerings. Woohoo Waikiki and 100 Days My Prince may very possibly be my choice of being most memorable for 2018, and I have to admit they’re neither the most well made nor well written. Despite that, a good ensemble and a healthy dose of warmth (and a hearty portion of LOL) is what made them stand out among all other dramas for me this year.
In a year of offerings where most dramas started off engaging and well written, too many fell into the abyss of nonsense and mess by the second act and lost track of the story it wanted to tell. Woohoo and 100 Days knew what they wanted to convey and it’s easy to see that the cast had fun acting out the stories. That to me, is something difficult to come by and meant to be treasured.
sab: I suppose I’m more mainstream? haha, but my choice would probably not qualify even in the “drama” category…cos it’s a mini-drama. (sorry, me short attention spanned) I loved MBC’s mini-series You Drive Me Crazy about 2 friends to lovers story told with much heart, in a compressed time frame that feels like a movie (hence drama-movie).
Children of a Lesser God with its kick-ass and psychic female lead had me glued to the series even though I went in with zero expectations. I knew it’d be a “horror-fantasy” type of police procedural, but I loved how our OTP cross swords initially (with Mr Logic pooh-poohing Ms Psychic’s abilities) and eventually worked together, leveraging on each other’s strengths. (won’t mind a sequel for Children).
bearcatchong: I will choose Woohoo Waikiki as the most memorable as well, since the funny scenes were really creative! How can anyone forget about almost broken down Rebecca (Rebacar), Seo-jin’s (Go Won-hee) fashion sense with the onion bag, as well as Doo-shik (Song Seung-won) singing in his Chipmunk’s voice? Woohoo may seem nonsensical, but the drama actually had some insightful discussion about societal phenomenons, such as single parent and gambling. Another memorable drama for me would be Live, which is unlike most detective stories in kdramas. There are no crime-solving stories or corrupted cops, instead we see how a group of patrol officers strived to protect people in the neighborhood and their livelihood.
Least Expectations but Delivered
kooriyuki: My vote goes to Woohoo Waikiki, because I went in without knowing what to expect, but ended up being hooked for all 16 episodes. It’s the best ragtag family of 2018, tickling my funny bones while telling a story of 6 fresh adults trying to make a living while living their dreams. It tells the difficulties of surviving the Korean society as an adult in the 20s, yet never fails to make any dire situation funny. We all need that Lee Joon Gi (Lee Yi-kyung) in our lives, who makes any dark days sunny.
sab: I’d say Investigation Couple. Despite it being the type of show I’d usually watch (being a CSI fan and all), it being on a “mainstream” station did lower my expectations. And tbh, the first few eps were a little slow — as the narrative sets to build up its characters, especially that of the greenhorn female prosecutor lead, Eun-sol (Jung Yoo Mi), who made so many glaring errors in a crime scene investigation that even I cringe. But the story progressed on a breakneck pace later, with many secrets unveiled, and ending with the promise of a sequel. Which I am totally rooting for. Cos frankly, there’s a possibility of our OTP happening now that Bum’s (Jung Jae-young) old flame has “properly died”.
A close second would be Witch’s Love. What started out as a bored-I’ve-got-nothing-to-watch-atm show becomes strangely, an addiction as the weeks progress. The story is refreshing, with strong supporting veterans alongside really a green cast. But the OTP, despite their comparatively lack of acting experience, manage to hold their weight against their sunbaes. It’s quite a no-brainer-relax-and-enjoy show, which is good to end a hectic work week.
bearcatchong: Hmmm, my vote also goes to Woohoo Waikiki, as I did not expect the drama to be so fun and yet insightful. To be honest, neither the synopsis or cast attracted me initially, if not for kooriyuki‘s recommendation, I probably would have miss such an interesting drama. Another drama I would like to honorably mention is Life on Mars. Due to bad experience of drama adaptations like Criminal Minds, I also did not expect much from this drama initially despite having a solid cast. The adaptation turned out to be surprisingly good. Although the main story about the protagonist remained similar, the crime-solving stories were well-written to portray South Korea in the 80’s.
That One Drama that Should Not Exist
sab: Erm, there were quite a few of them — mostly those I started, and didn’t bothered to complete. The MOST recent being The Ghost Detective. I shan’t rant too much about it — just trawl this blog for my posts. Suffice to say, there’s another similar one, which I really struggled to complete. (here’s me giving Mr Park the evil eye)
kooriyuki: I’d have to agree with all of sab‘s choices above, sorry to those Sketch fans out there. This drama gets an unanimous vote from us here that it’s more irritating than entertaining/engaging.
Queen of Mystery 2 gets a vote from me because it totally lost the feel of the original. The sequel feels labored and ends up marring the image of our quirky leads. I wish the writer just tied up all loose ends in the original and just leave it as a single season drama, instead of spoiling all fond memories we have of the original. Another drama that shouldn’t have existed would be Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food because goodness, it should have been a movie instead! The cinematography was awesome, the cast was good, but damn, the story just wasn’t enough to sustain 16 hours! I gave up after 6 episodes and began watching at 3x speed because nothing is progressing and I only have this much patience watching an OTP being chummy with each other and doing nothing else. Grr.
bearcatchong: I guess for me will be Lovely Horribly, which kooriyuki and sab had so smartly avoided. The drama started by hinting that the mother performing some rituals to “snatch luck” for her son, only to end the drama telling me the mother actually did not perform any ritual…. So this drama was non-existing in the first place! Other than the dramas mentioned by
kooriyuki and sab, I think Handsome Guy and Jung-eum and Radio Romance were not worth watching as well.
kooriyuki: Some dramas are meant to be watched without thinking, as in, just buckle your seatbelt and enjoy the ride. For me, the best No-brainer is again Woohoo Waikiki (words cannot describe how much I love this drama), with perhaps Your House Helper coming in a close second. Your House Helper is exactly what it is – a healing drama with practically no secrets (didn’t like that last minute addition of the bartender’s backstory) nor villains, just full of warmth and feel-goodness.
sab: I choose to give this category a slightly positive spin. “No brainer” as in safe-you-expect-an-expected-ending, and it delivers just that. I’d say God’s Quiz: Reboot will fall into this category. Being a tried-and-tested franchise, the seasoned fan would kinda know its template. So no surprises there — though CODAS may give the narrative (current and possible futures) a good “reboot” (pun intended).
Another few I’d say which are good for sitting back and switching off, are What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?, Let’s Eat 3, and My Husband, Oh Jak-doo. All these 3 shows are in the very Kdrama romcom space — the OTP are stoic and totally unshakeable even if tornadoes and earthquakes rock them. You just have to give them plenty of faith and ride the storm out. For Eat 3, we have the added benefit of knowing previous instalments — like Quiz 5, the show format is consistent.
bearcatchong: I will choose both Woohoo Waikiki and What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? for this category, as it is difficult for me to decided which one is more entertaining. I like the chemistry between the 2 leads in Secretary Kim, which had greatly enhanced the entertaining value when watching how these 2 characters interact and romance, just like how kimchi and ramyun goes well together.
Ultimate Brain Cells Killer
sab: Ok, this… I’d say connotes a slightly negative tone (btw, it’s kooriyuki who came out with the categories, if you have issues, pls take them up with her. :P)
I’d give this dubious award to 2 shows: The Black Knight and Fluttering Alert. Both shows, while they have their merits, eventually gave me some form of carpal tunnel on my index finger — from ffwding too much. Although you KNOW the OTP will pull through — the level of angst, makjang and what-not are SO high level mid-show you just want to jump in and break them up. So. ANNOYING.
kooriyuki: Umm, I meant for this to be for dramas that made us think and ponder, no negative tone attached! I actually have a hard time choosing between Life on Mars and Children of a Lesser God, because both made me really wonder what’s going to happen next. Perhaps more so for the former, because what exactly was that 1988 period, time traveling or some kind of afterlife? Despite never watching the original, I felt the remake did away with that rhetorical question posed in the original, and I thought it’s a shame. Nevertheless, I think OCN did a good job with the remake.
bearcatchong: For me, it is definitely Children of Nobody, as there are so many mysteries surrounding the lead characters, and I am not only kept busy guessing who the murderer is, but also the identity of the girl in green dress and if she actually existed in reality before, as well as the back stories for each of the lead characters. Another drama which may be hard to understand will be Suits, as it is hard to follow the legal terms used as well as to understand the strategies those lawyers choose to be beneficial to their clients and the law firm, yet still considered legal.
This is where we’ll conclude our collective take on KDramas in 2018. Here’s to a bountiful 2019 in KDramaland, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone who reads our blog! Thank you for the support over the years!