Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Yet Another Relatively Mammoth List of Short Kdrama Lists

Reasons Korean dramas are better than American TV
1. Beginnings, middles, and ends.
2. Love stories get to be the true stars of the show.
3. Two words: flower boys.

King 2 Hearts gun
Is that a gun, or are you just happy to see me?

Toughest Kdrama female leads
1. Kim Hang Ah, King 2 Hearts. Need some bad-guy butt kicked? Your mother being held hostage by a psycho with a thing for the pointier kinds of dental equipment? Stuck in the middle of an international incident with a loaded gun pointed at your head? Kim Hang Ah is the one to call.

2. Hwang Jin Yi, Hwang Jin Yi. She lived her life for art in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, even going so far as to eschew true love in favor of dancing. No man ever got the better of her—although, interestingly, some women did.

3. Na Bo Ri, Hello, My Teacher. She may have been bumbling, but Bo Ri would do anything within her power (and a number of things that weren’t) to protect her students.

Shining Inheritance hand holding
Nothing to see here, folks.

Kdrama couples with no chemistry whatsoever
1. Eun Sung and Woo Han, Shining Inheritance. I would say these two seemed more like brother and sister than lovers, but I’ve never seen siblings so visibly uncomfortable around each other.

2. Young In and Seung Hyo, Who Are You? Your dad, that’s who, and it shows every time the viewer looks at him.

3. Jan Di and Joon Pyo, Boys before Flowers. It’s just as well that these two had no chemistry—this spectacularly cracktacular drama needed a flaw or two.

Coffee Prince kiss
Lo, it is the single most heavenly kiss in all of Korean drama.

Kdrama couples with Nobel-Prize-level chemistry
1. Eun Chan and Han Gyul, Coffee Prince. If life were ever-so-slightly more prone to magical realism, the heat between these two would actually cause televisions to melt.

2. Byung Hee and Chul Su, What’s Up, Fox. He always looks as if he’d like to eat her alive—in a good way.

3. Hee Jin and Boong Do, Queen In-Hyun’s Man. You know, maybe he really was a player all along: Kisses that hot take practice. And spawn real relationships, it seems.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal Yeo Rim and Gael Oh
Ah, young love in all its splendor.

Kdrama bromances that should have been consummated
1. Yeo-Rim and Gael-Oh, Sungkyunkwan Scandal. The show never dared to make the romance in this bromance happen, but I suspect the imaginations of many viewers did. Sweet, funny, and supportive of each other’s quirks, I would have liked them even better than this drama’s main couple if they’d gotten together. (Above image borrowed from A Bag’s Life.)

2. Dong Joo and Ma Roo, Can You Hear My Heart? Their relationship was far and away the best thing about this show, and they spent half of its running time rolling around in bed together anyway. If only a little kissing had been thrown into the bargain, my enjoyment of this drama would have skyrocketed.

3. Lee Gak and Tae Moo, Rooftop Prince. This edgy, love-hate relationship would have been even edgier and love-hatier if they’d just given in to (the audience’s) baser desires and made out instead of playing all that squash.

Queen In-hyun's Man kiss sunflower
Hmm...where have I seen a Kdrama kiss shot in front of a similar background?

More things I love about Kdrama romances
1. Hot kisses. Contrary to common wisdom, there are smoking hot Kdrama kisses out there—and in some ways they’re all the better because they’re so very rare.

2. Reincarnation talk. The deck might be stacked against the lovers in this lifetime, but it kills me when they’re already hopeful for the next.

3. The back hug. Most Kdrama front hugs feature stick-stiff girls looking like they’re mentally tallying an upcoming dry-cleaning bill. The back hug is a pure, nonsexual act of love and comfort in which the she gets to take control.

Que Sera Sera rain
Guess what? This in no way excuses the awful thing you just did.

Incredibly horrible things a Kdrama character has done to his or her lover (that the show expects you to forgive without batting an eyelash)
1. Attempted rape on a hotel room bed. She was visibly terrified by his use of brute force one minute and confessing her love for him the next? Ick.

2. With the help of the second male lead, she convinced her soulmate that she’d died—and let him believe it for years. That dreamy surprise meeting in the final scene should have involved a slap and some screaming, not loving, dewy-eyed glances.

3. Trying to strangle the female lead through the bars of his prison cell. Clearly this was traumatic for all involved, especially the actress: the scene must have taken several attempts to film, because from the very beginning you could already see the angry red marks on her neck.

(Drama names for this section will be posted in the comments to avoid spoiling anyone.)

Lie to Me finale beach
::insert Jaws theme music here::

Kdrama places I want to visit
1. The place where Lie to Me’s finale was shot. Green waters, palm trees, volcanic rocks: even without a dreamy male lead, this is a place where I’d like to spend some time.

2. Heaven, Earth, and Man, the restaurant in Kimchi Family. On dumpling soup and scallion pancake day, please!

3. The giant Japanese bookstore in Someday. Bookstores make me happy on a visceral level, and although it might be suspiciously close to hell on earth to be in one this enormous and yet not be able to read a word, I’d be willing to give it a shot. I love how books look, and feel, and smell, whatever language they’re written in.

City Hunter Lee Min Ho washes hair
I would give him a huge tip, that’s for sure.

Things every drama writer thinks Korean women want
1. For Lee Min Ho to wash her hair (which happened in both Personal Preference and City Hunter)

2. To step between Park Shi Hoo and a deadly weapon (see both Family’s Honor and Princess’s Man)

3. To wear couple rings with Park Yoochun (as in both Sungkyunkwan Scandal and Rooftop Prince)

Princess's Man swing
It’s a miracle anyone survived the Joseon Dynasty, between all the royal
poisonings and dangerous playground equipment. From The Princess's Man.

Kdrama things that differ fundamentally from their western counterparts
1. Swinging standing up. Really? I spent my entire elementary school career being yelled at for doing this on the playground, and it’s actually the traditional Korean approach to swings?

2. Rubbing your palms together. When an American does this, it means we’re excited and looking forward to eating/seeing/doing something. When a Korean does it, it means they’re begging. I guess the common theme is that it’s expressing hope for something you want, but it’s bizarre that the same gesture means something totally different in these two cultures.

3. Opening envelopes along a short edge, not the long one. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally ripped through the top fold of an envelope’s contents. Why don’t we Americans adopt this safer method for opening mail?

I want to go to there (on a number of levels).

Unspeakably wonderful things people overlook about Coffee Prince
1. Props and set direction. From Eun Chan’s grown-up version of a kid’s scheduling chart to Han Sung’s castle in the clouds, the things and places associated with this drama’s characters have just as much to say about who they are as the actors do.

2. Locations. Seoul has never looked more lush, green, and welcoming. From the Coffee Prince shop itself to the tree-lined hill leading from Han Sung’s house and the checkerboard-pavement of the playground Yoo Joo frequents, this show was a gift to Korea’s tourism board.

3. The clothes. In this case, the clothes really did make the man…and the woman. Without their amazing wardrobes, Coffee Prince’s actors couldn’t have been so successful in creating indelible characters. Han Gyul, the impeccably tailored ladies’ man; Eun Chan, the everyday girl who happened to prefer baggy jeans to short skirts; and Han Sung, the low-key, comfortable hipster. My favorite example of a wardrobe choice that goes above and beyond the call of duty? On her big night with Han Gyul, Eun Chan wore a boyish red polo shirt. When she returned from Italy a year later, a different girl but still the same person, she wore a girlier version of the very same red polo shirt.

My drama cave (note the Coffee Prince
box set next to the cable box).

Things all North American Kdrama fans should be lucky enough to have
1. Sony’s blu-ray player featuring Google TV. Most of the “Smart TVs” they’re selling these days aren’t that smart at all: they allow you to download apps, but rope off the rest of the Internet. Not so with this set-top Google TV device. Using it, I can visit any website on my television—and watch videos from Dramafever, Kimchidrama, Mysoju, and Dramacrazy. (Just not Viki, for some bizarre reason.)

2. Logitech’s Squeezebox radio. It uses wireless Internet to access radio stations anywhere in the world—including Seoul. (And Jeju, Teajeon, Ulsan, Cheonju, Gangneung, Kwangju, and Pusan...)

3. A Dramafever premium membership. Always reliable, always fast, and always decently subbed, Dramafever is worth every penny they charge. (And a many more, actually.) My membership predates the recent price hike, so a year of Kdrama is costing me about a third of one month’s cable bill. The only changes I could hope for would be a bit more coverage of new dramas (A Wife's Credentials, wherefore art thou?) and a stronger backlist of old shows.

The most popular Google searches that land people on this blog
1. Gong Yoo girlfriend. Yup. I definitely have the lowdown on that.... Or not, other than sometimes wishing it were me. (And then realizing I could probably only think of ways to keep him entertained for an hour or so before he would want to go do something athletic, and I would want to re-enact scenes from Coffee Prince. Which, it goes without saying, would be awkward.)

2. Family’s Honor review. I guess nobody else wrote much about this, so I’m toward the top of the search pile.

3. Painter of the Wind. Once again, hardly anyone is still writing about this show, but I can’t shut up about it. (And to the person who searched for “Painter of the Wind” “Incest”: They’re not related by blood, so it doesn’t count!) 


  1. Dramas containing unforgivable things:
    1. Que Sera, Sera
    2. Summer Scent
    3. Princess's Man

  2. oh Amanda! I just adore your lists! they're the best. And since I'm a QIHM fangirl and InHyun shipper, I just love that they got on your list and you posted a picture of that toe-curling kiss.

    "I want to go to there." is one of my favoritest statements in the whole of the English language!

    1. QIHM was full of toe-curling kisses, really. And I love that the actors actually hooked up. I'm usually not someone who gets all worked up about people "looking good together," but as a tall girl I have to say that their proportions are just perfect: He's big enough to make her look dainty, but not so big she looks like his child ;)

      And anything said by Tina Fey and/or Liz Lemon qualifies for the list of my favorite statements in the English language. (What the what?!?)

      Glad you liked the list :)

  3. This was great!! Lol I love Yeo-Rim and Gael-Oh, they really did have an awesome bromance!! I also love that you love Coffee Prince as much as I do :P I always feel like I write about it way too much on my blog, but I just can't stop myself lol. Have not seen another set of actors yet that could portray that kind of chemistry, it was unreal!! I didn't make it that far in Queen Inhyun's man before I gave up, but it's funny that you point out in the pic of that kiss there is a sunflower mural in the background. That IS familiar ha ha. Are you talking about Myung Wol with the attempted rape thing? I really liked that drama but I thought that scene was kinda awkward and uncomfortable to watch, and I was wondering if you were referring to that.

    1. Sometimes I wonder if my Kdrama obsession is actually just an extended Coffee Prince obsession. In all the many, many dramas I've watched since, nothing comes close to the unspeakable awesomeness that is Coffee Prince. You could write about that one drama forever and I, for one, would read every single word ;)

      I can see why QIHM isn't everyone's cup of tea (bowl of kimchi?), but it really is beautifully and thoughtfully shot—not unlike Coffee Prince. I wonder if the sunflower mural was an intentional homage, or just sort of happened?

      The specific attempted rape I was talking about was in the drama Que Sera, Sera. It seems like there's a lot of competition for the title of worst rape attempt in a Kdrama :b Somehow that drama manages to be a great watch in spite of this one awful segment, though. I've heard otherwise about Myung Wol.

  4. Girls night in the drama cave?? Oh please, oh pretty pretty please?? *rubs palms together frantically* I need to get me one of those TVs...

    So, I'm really just going to have to watch QIHM or give up reading this blog, yes? I'm almost done with What's Up Fox - and I'm going to need more nobel prize winning chemistry again.. very soon..

    1. Teehee...you know, I haven't been able to convince a single person I know in real life to give Kdrama a serious try, so girl's night in the drama cave sounds sort of wonderful. I wish others would share their drama watching set-ups—I'm curious if most people actually watch on their computers. (Roku boxes are way cheaper than my Blu-ray thing, but they also have a dramafever app that works on TVs.)

      I really did like QIHM, but I think I'm done writing about it. Unlike Coffee Prince, it's not a complete obsession. So you're safe to come back even if you don't want to read about it again ;)

    2. My drama watching set-up is sort of pitiful. I have one very lame TV, an xbox 360 with netflix on it (so only the dramas that Netflix happens to carry at any given moment can I watch on the tv). That leaves us with my computer - usually very nice, and quite fast - but the hard drive has been singing its swansong for 6 months, and my husband just hasn't gotten around to fixing it yet. >>Insert Coffee Prince re-runs with the sounds of headache inducing electric death<< Eeek!

    3. On the bright side, Netflix does have some decent dramas these days (and I see that it's getting some of the shows with international appeal before they go to Dramafever, even—like Miss Ripley and Protect the Boss). I think you could get Dramafever through Hulu if you had Hulu plus.

      I can't decide whether or not the insanely complicated process of watching shows online is part of the charm of being a drama addict. It's like a video game—I found episode 4 part 3 subbed in English on some obscure Russian streaming website...level up!

  5. I don't think I will ever get over the sheer awesomness that is Coffee Prince either. Big so far is coming close, but I still don't think it can dethrone Coffee Prince as my greatest kdrama love lol.

    I am going to eventually try to finish QIHM, but I am just not getting into it right now for whatever reason. I really liked Myung Wol, but from a sheer comedic prospective. If you took it seriously it would be horrible, but if you sit back and laugh at the ridiculousness and campyness of it, it is awesome!! :P
    I also do not have real life friends that watch kdramas. They all think I'm a nerdy mess lol. I watch most of mine through my bluray player so I can see it on the big screen.

    1. I just admit that I'm a nerdy mess. Fortunately, I've managed to convert my sister-in-law, several good friends (that unfortunately don't live nearby), and sometimes even my husband (who happens to adore watching Pasta with me right now - hehehe). The problem though: nobody watches as much or as fast as me. So conversations with the theme of I<3Kdrama become limited after a few minutes discussion of Lee Min Ho or Kim Sun Ah..

    2. Random thought: I would be *so* up for an IM group date to watch some drama episode together if anyone else wanted to...it would be fun to chat through some Coffee Prince or something.

      (Some open-thread-ers on Dramabeans do a complicated version this, but I've never gone—it's a huge hassle with lots of people and many time zones.)

    3. I also don't have any real life friends who watch kdramas. All the people I've mentioned it to have just looked at me crazy and asked my why with a very mystified look on their faces. My niece and nephew are the only ones that had ever even heard of kdramas before and they teased me a good bit about it the other day.

  6. That would be cool!! Just a question, where are you guys from? I am from the U.S., but most of the people I talk to on kdrama blogs that speak really good English are European or Australian.

    BTW-I LOVED Pasta, I think it should be on my top 10 list, I swear I'm going to have to make a new one soon, I keep rethinking it and I want to shift things around lol. God the main guy was the biggest ASS, but he was so freaking funny :P

    1. I'm from Vermont, actually. I think most people who come to this blog are in the U.S. (not that there are so terribly many of them in the first place). I don't know why more Americans aren't crazy for Korean drama. I think it might be because a lot of people are put off by subtitles—and the ones who aren't would rather be watching arty French films.

      Of course, now that I posted about this I don't really have a clue how to go about it =X I have ichat, but am extremely rusty with using it.

      Does anyone who's interested in joining in have a preferred time/day? I work 9-5 EST on weekdays, so I'm not available then. (Although being at work sure doesn't stop me from commenting. Cough.)

    2. Oohh I'd totally be up for watching something together! I work 9-5 EST weekdays too, though. And I'm not sure how well this will work with a 20 hr long series...so start with something shorter maybe?

    3. I think it sounds like a great idea. I'm in Louisiana so I'm on Central time, but I work regular weekday hours as well.

  7. Oh okay cool, yeah most of the people who follow my blog are not from America. Well hopefully the weather in Vermont is better than Florida right now lol, we have been whacked by a tropical storm the last few days and I am in Orlando visiting my grandparents, but my hometown just South of Tallahassee got over 20 inches of rain and is flooded everywhere. Anyway, I can be random, for some reason I thought you needed to know that lol.

    I wish I could get more Americans into kdrama, actually that's one of the main reasons why I started my blog. Have definitely had more people asking me about it because all of my stuff is publicized on my Facebook. Boo on arty French stuff, kdramas are so much more entertaining!! :D

    Do you use Skype or Google Talk? I'm not sure what ichat is. Is it like an Apple thing? I am a teacher, so I am working summer school hours right now (the weeks that I am working) which are 7:30-12:30 EST time.

    1. Eeek! That sounds like quite the rainstorm. It's been miserable here--90 degrees and 90 percent humidity one day, 50 degrees and rainy the next.

      Some arty French stuff is okay (I'm Coffee-prince level obsessed with the movie Amalie, for one), but as far as I'm concerned a balanced TV diet also has to include some chaebols and plotting mother-in-laws. I started my blog because everyone I know visibly winced whenever I say the word "Korean," and I thought it would be a kindness to them to vent elsewhere.;)

      I do have Skype, although I'm not sure about video chatting, what with my preferred drama-watching outfit involving pajamas and all. iChat is just Mac's instant messaging program--I think it can hook up with anything. (Including Facebook chat.) Say when, and I'm there!

    2. I'm in Texas, currently surviving record 109 degree temps (not too bad, actually - as long as I'm not outside more than.. oh say 30 seconds). I work mornings, so most of my afternoons and evenings are free (excepting every evening this week, and in general Mondays/Wednesdays). I do have Skype, just no webcam attached. What is the best chat system anyway? I haven't really done that since my AIM days, a looong long time ago.

  8. Humidity is the worst, Florida is a giant swamp so it is always terribly humid. 109!! Good grief!!

    Ha ha AIM, I remember that :P You can IM on Skype and google talk without video chatting, usually with video chatting you can really only see the person's face and not their clothes, but we don't have to do that. I don't have apple software, but facebook messenger works for me too. My husband said there is something on Google Plus that allows you to watch videos at the same time, so I am going to check that out and see how it works.

    1. Can human beings even survive at 109 degrees?!? Here's hoping everyone there has central air.

      I miss the days of AIM =X It was so easy an universal, for like 5 years there. (Except for those weirdos who used ICQ.)

      I did some digging, and it looks like Google+ only allows you to watch youtube videos together, which is pretty limited. There's a service called Chill that allows both youtube videos and hulu (where, of course, our darling Coffee Prince lives). I set up an account under my e-mail name, llama_esque. Somebody want to see if the can get in and comment on the video? It's a little annoying because the service takes up so much screen space with advertising, so maybe just regular old IM would work better.

    2. I'll check out the Chill thing when I get home.

      Believe it or not, we survive 100+ temps like this every summer. I always get amused when East Coast people start freaking out when the temp tops 100. I lived most of my life in Houston, where we got 100+ degrees PLUS 100% humidity, where rain showers don't cool things off, they just turn the whole world into a steam bath/outdoor sauna.

    3. :)That's so true, Sara. I'm not too far from you, just over in Baton Rouge.

  9. Okay. Peeps (is anyone still saying that these days?) who want in on the group-watch, e-mail me at llamaesque(at)aol.com and we'll sort something out. :)

  10. Hmmm I am going to have to investigate Chill.

    I still say peeps all the time lol. I want in!! I will e-mail you :)

  11. Okay, just got on Chill and made an account through my fb and was able to comment. It doesn't seem like you can have it on full screen mode and comment at the same time though.

  12. Omg, whenever I recall SKKS all I remember is Yong Ha and Jae Shin. I don't even remember the name of the actual male lead! Perfect list. Mmm...it makes me want to revisit Coffee Prince.

  13. Amanda
    I love your blog. I got addicted to K-dramas early this year and cannot watch anything else but Korean tv shows. Lie to me on Netflix was the first drama I watched and it all went crazy from there,lol. There is so much cultural differences in what is portrayed vs. what we in the west experience. Some of the things I absolutely love- short series (16-25 epis is just perfect when marathoning on the weekend), hot actors (some of them atleast), strong character development (even if some of the stuff they do, makes me face palm). Stuff I absolutely dislike- The men's hairstyle with the hair sweeping to the side, ugh!, the awful class mistreatment, ridiculous demands of the elders in a family and the angsty manner in which the protagonist has to follow them.

    1. Thanks for commenting! It makes me feel like less of a loser to spend so much time on this blog when I know at least a few people actually enjoy it ;)

      It sounds like we're in the same boat—I'm just about to cancel my basic cable. Who needs American television when I could be watching Korean drama? And it's all thanks to Netflix...

      I, too, hate the sweeping-to-the-side hairstyle. (It made the male lead in Flower Boy Ramen Shop look like an eyebrowless alien, for one.) On the bright side, Kdramas are super on top of trendy styles, so now that that look has gotten old I don't think we'll see "the Bieber" on many more of our drama heroes. (Thank god.)

  14. I love these lists :) I just recently got into K-dramas, and I think it's really an adjustment that needs to be made from watching Western dramas. I love the focus on minute shifts in expression, and the focus on emotion rather than action. (I'm probably overgeneralising here, you could probably tell me better.) So I recently got into Nice Guy, and Song Joong Ki and Moon Chae Won are totally killing it. It's making me feel like the world of Korean dramas isn't so difficult to navigate, after all :)

    1. Korean dramas definitely take some getting used to for Western viewers, but I think that's half the fun. It's a whole new fascinating world to explore: From the culture they depict to the technical aspects of their filmmaking and storytelling, everything is utterly different from what we grew up with.

      I'm loving Nice Guy...the leads really are amazing, and the story is super intense. I saving this week's episodes to watch right before the finale and am living in fear of being spoiled rotten.

  15. Though this is totally late, GENIUS-NESS! Oh, I'm from the States! I live in Georgia. Good ol' South! Except when it comes to wanting to be culturally aware. My parents [also] visibly cringe when I say the word "Korea". To make you feel awesome, Amanda, Outside Seoul is my homepage for my computer! So, it's the first thing I check every time I get on the computer! Yay! But, I feel so young (in a bad way) 'cause I'm only 17 years. [insert wide-eyed, "Holy smokes!" type stare here] Adjusting to Dramas wasn't really that big of a deal for me though but, then again, I've been watching Japanese/Korean/Taiwanese Dramas since about 7th or 8th grade, so...

    I also found your blog because of Painter of the Wind! I was looking for a review without too many spoilers and viola! Found your blog!

    -My name is Hope-

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