Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Playing Favorites

Coming up with their very own top-ten list seems to be a major rite of passage for every fan of Korean television. Now that I’ve been watching Kdrama for almost a year, I guess my time has come. I’ve seen seen an awful lot of dramas: some that I’ve loved, some that I’ve loathed, and some that weren’t good enough to merit either emotion.

The shows listed here may not be the finest dramas Korea has ever made, but they are my favorites—the ones that stuck with me long after I watched their final episodes.

1. Coffee Prince (2007). A delight on every level, Coffee Prince is rooted in what could have been just another Kdrama cliché: a hardworking, tomboyish girl pretends to be a boy to make money to support her family. Over the course of 17 episodes, though, it manages to subvert almost every drama trope as it grows into a genuine, heartfelt story of best friends falling in love. The perfect mix of comedy and melodrama, it’s peopled by a huge cast of incredibly compelling characters and graced with sky-high production values. This drama may not have much to say about homosexuality, but if you listen closely it does have something to say about what it means to be a woman, a state of being that, contrary to popular Kdrama opinion, doesn’t require a two-inch skirt, white pancake makeup, or teetery high-heels. With its heart in the real, everyday world, Coffee Prince is a Kdrama romance unlike any other: It’s not a show about finding ways to keep people apart. It’s a show about bringing them together. So wonderful, even a year after watching it for the first time just the thought of Coffee Prince can make me smile until my face hurts.

2. Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010). Only the hardest of hearts won’t be charmed by this candy-colored, deeply principled fusion sageuk that values learning, loyalty, and friendship above all else. Yet another story about a girl pretending to be a boy so she can support her family, Sungkyunkwan Scandal features one of Kdrama’s greatest quartets, perfectly embodied by a group of young actors with unforgettably flirty chemistry. This show’s most wonderful conflict isn’t to be found in its archery contests, classroom competitions, or royal intrigues. Instead, it’s the constant battle of worldviews waged by the jaded female lead and the idealistic young Confucian scholar she comes to love. Fun, swoony, and sometimes silly, Sungkyunkwan Scandal’s dreamy brand of revisionist history is the perfect introduction to historical Kdramas.

3. Boys over Flowers (2009). This story of Cinderella meeting Prince-not-so-charming isn’t good by any stretch of the imagination—but if you’re susceptible to its particular brand of cheese, it’s nonetheless irresistible. With characters so flatly iconic they’re approaching Hero of a Thousand Faces territory, it focuses on a poor every-girl and the dashing, mega-rich (and mega-flawed) young man who inexplicably wants to whisk her away into his life of privilege. Boys over Flowers has it all: wish-fulfillment shopping sprees, lavish tropical vacations, a nail-biting love-triangle, and more handsome knights in shining armor than it knows what to do with. The impact of this sweetly chaste, odds-defying love story is still reverberating throughout Asia—and the world. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I cannot tell a lie: I loved almost every minute I spent watching this train wreck. 

4. Que Sera, Sera (2007). A sordid Kdrama for grownups, this is a dark gem full of complex characters, edge-of-your-seat storytelling, and deeply felt emotions. There’s no cartoony Kdrama villain to be found here; instead, human nature in all its greedy, jealous, and cruel guises takes on the role of bad guy. And just when you think Que Sera, Sera’s imperfect characters are completely beyond redemption, they find a way out of the cycle of hurt and regret that propels most of this drama’s action and emerge as people who might just be better for their heartbreaking pasts. Compulsively watchable and with a surprisingly satisfying ending, this dark horse drama isn’t to be missed.

5. Painter of the Wind (2008). The rarest of birds: A thoughtful, girl-centered sageuk that beautifully explores the creation of real-life works of art by two historical figures. At the heart of the story is the imagined relationship between the artists, part professional mentorship, part friendship, and part love. (Did I mention that the younger artist happens to be a girl pretending to be boy so she can attend the royal painting academy?) The most sincere of the Korean gender-bending dramas, it explores the repercussions that would probably be felt by someone who actually spent most of her life hiding her gender. For my money, the most compelling relationship in this show isn’t the one between the two leads, though—it’s the one between the young artist and the courtesan she romances while searching for her true self. Tragic, exciting, and gorgeously filmed.

6. Goong (2006). Still the gold standard when it comes to dramas featuring modern-day Korean royalty, Goong is a goofy take on the standard love triangle. Instead of chaebols, though, the every-girl female lead gets to choose between two handsome princes—one distant and prickly, the other sweet and clingy with a creepy mother from hell. Its clever conceit, able script, and almost painfully winsome cast elevate Goong above its rom-com competition. A perfect vehicle for Yoon Eun Hye, this drama is charming, sweet, funny, and so wonderfully unafraid of being cute and cuddly that every episode ends with a teddy-bear diorama. (I love you, Korea.)

7. I Need Romance (2011). This show is the one thing I never expected from a Korean drama: racy. The only Kdrama romance I’ve seen that honestly depicts adult relationships, sex and all, I Need Romance is built around the friendship between three women in their early 30s. It explores the perils and pleasures of love from each of their perspectives—one a goddess of lust, one a long-term girlfriend, and one a virgin. Although the making, breaking, and remaking of an established relationship is at the heart of this show, no member of its likeable cast is wasted. Sex in the City, if Sex in the City were less sex-mad and more sweet-hearted (and Korean).

8. Padam Padam (2012). Being no stranger to the gutter makes the heights reached by this supernatural romance all the more powerful. Having spent most of his adult life in prison after being convicted for the murder of his best friend, Padam Padam’s male lead is understandably dour and jaded. But when the stakes are highest, God or fate or the universe steps in to give him a chance at happiness, rewinding time and allowing him to right the wrongs he’s committed. The real miracle of this drama is that it never loses sight of telling a good story about compelling characters, even when faced with the distractions of heartrending possible angels, supernatural plot twists, and truly breathtaking cinematography. Even a fairly lame final plot twist and an uninteresting female lead aren’t enough to ruin this lovely, reflective show.

9. Time between Dog and Wolf (2007). An action thriller with a heart, Time between Dog and Wolf is a high-tension exploration of the relationships between fathers and sons, whether they’re related by blood or not. This is the drama City Hunter should have been but wasn’t: a beautifully shot, thoughtfully written story of a young man’s quest for revenge against his mother’s murderer, and all the many things that get in the way—including his love for the murderer’s daughter (this is a Korean drama, after all).

10. Shut Up! Flower Boy Band (2012). SUFBB’s screenwriters could have phoned it in—nobody expects a gimmicky drama intended for teenage girls to actually be good. Instead, they created a gritty, acutely observed coming-of-age story that just happens to focus on good-looking bad boys in a rock band, and be set in the cutthroat world of Kpop. This drama is most memorable for its brisk pacing, strong characterizations, and poignant adolescent friendships that are closer to family ties. Also, the cute boys. (Duh.)

Learned from the list:

• I love it when girls pretend to be boys. Sadly, I suspect this is because it’s one of the few times Kdrama rom-com girls get to be smart and capable instead of airheaded and bumbling. (Note, of course, that Go Mi Nyeo from You’re Beautiful is the exception that proves this rule. She’s airheaded and bumbling as either gender.) Also wonderful is that gender-bending romantic leads tend to spend more time together—they’re not separated by the Great Wall of Boy versus Girl.

• My absolute favorite dramas are some of the first few I watched—of course, they’re also most everyone’s favorites, which makes them popular and easy to find. I think it was also easier to love without reservation back in the early days of my obsession, when I was too blinded by the fantastically exotic sparkle of Kdrama to watch with a critical eye. (This, I like to think, explains my undying love for Boys over Flowers. It was the second Kdrama I ever saw—of course I imprinted on it like a baby duck.) It’s certainly harder to please me nowadays, but I also think that I’m running out of classics. My first year down the Kdrama rabbit hole was spent watching the greatest hits that are widely beloved and still under discussion, while today I’m branching out into lesser-known shows, which can be hit or miss.

• I love youthful coming-of-age romances, and wish there were more of them out there in dramaland. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m a failure at adulthood, but somehow I find 15 infinitely more interesting than 35.

• I’m incapable of writing about Korean drama without using the word heart a lot. Whether that says something about me or Kdrama, I’m not sure. On the bright side, I’d still rather jump off something extremely high than discuss a character’s (or person’s) dream, whatever it may be.

• When I started putting this list together, I was only sure of my top two or three dramas. As I got going, though, I realized all the shows that were coming to mind were ones I had devoted an entire blog post to (or most of one, anyway). The rest of the shows I’ve written about in detail here? They would go on this list’s counterpart—my ten least favorite Kdramas.


  1. In preparation for your post today, I actually spent a good bit of last evening trying to iron out My top 10. It's interesting how time makes you begin to doubt your judgement (and/or pure objectivity, or lack thereof). I started out with all the ones I'd given 5 stars to on DF, when 4 star dramas start leaping off the screen ahead of 5 stars - There are even 5 star shows that I honestly think are probably more 4 star quality, I just like them too much... Anyways, after about 2 lists were scrapped... here were my results:

    1- Coffee Prince
    2- Secret Garden
    3- 49 Days
    4- My Lovely Sam Soon
    5- I Need Romance
    6- Jewel in the Palace
    7- City Hall
    8- City Hunter
    9- Fugitive: Plan B
    10- Heartstrings

    1. You approached your list more scientifically than I did ;) In fact, I didn’t check Dramafever until after I came up with the list...and even then I only did it to see if I had actually given all my picks five stars. I try to write a DF review immediately after I finish watching something so I don't forget about it, but my opinion sometimes changes after a show has time to percolate a little.

      In some ways, it would be interesting for people to come up with three separate top tens: one of their personal favorites, one of the shows they objectively believe to be the best, and of the titles they would recommend to people. I suspect that each version would be significantly different. (I would only recommend BoF to fellow lunatics, for example—I know it's not everybody's cup of tea.)

      I haven't seen numbers 3, 6, 7, or 9 on your list yet. I liked the rest of your choices, though, with the exception of Secret Garden. For some reason, I couldn't stand that drama: I was only able to make it through to the last episode on a hate watch level ;)

    2. My Top 10 Favourite KDramas

      • City Hunter (2011) 10/10
      • Dae Jang Geum (2003) 10/10
      • Heartless City/Cruel City (2013) 9.5/10
      • Two Weeks (2013) 9/10
      • Answer me, 1997 (2012) 9/10
      • My Girl (2005) 9/10
      • Time Between Dog and Wolf (2007) 8.5/10
      • Greatest Love (2011) 8.5/10
      • Shut Up Flower Boy Band (2012) 8/10

  2. Anyways - I won't try to defend my list at the moment. I'd need another 2 days and probably my own blog to do that (which is probably why I don't Have a blog - I'd spend way too much time on it - more fun to read what other people have said for more continuations Kdrama stimulation).

    No surprise about No. 1 though - hehe. Unfortunately I havent seen your Nos. 4, 5, 8-10.

    Mostly I'm trying to figure out why I couldn't stomach Boys Over Flowers or SungKyunKwan Sandal beyond a point. BOF was my third attempt at Kdrama following Lie to Me and City Hunter. And while I'm the first to admit that I'm completely partial to those because of when I saw them, I could not get past ep 6 of BOF. It seemed to me complete nonense, where every little thing about it becamse infuriating. It means unfinished for me..

    SKKS though - Ok I adore the Jalgeum Quartet. I just didn't like the main guy on his own, or well.. the plot? It was sort of my first sageuk (fusion though I've now learend to call it), so maybe I just wasn't ready to try and follow it. I didn't get their chemistry though, outside of the quartet at least ;)

    Obviously I understand your love of I Need Romance. I also share your dislike of dream analysis... I think most of my dream analyses would be something like this: "Sara, you watch too much Kdrama and play way too many video games. Also, you are probably stressed. Drink more chamomile before bed."

    1. I completely understand BoF hate—and, in fact, think the first part of the show is significantly better than the rest. If you'd stuck with it you would have regretted it, as it would likely have driven you to throw something heavy at your television. I just dig the youthful Cinderella angle like nobodies' business ;)

      SKKS also worked for me in spite of (or maybe even *because* of) the male lead's woodenness: it came off as quietly noble and principled to me. I also liked that the script had more to offer than just romance, which is kind of rare in a Kdrama rom-com.

      I actually dreamed I was in a Kdrama the other day. Which I think is probably a warning signal—time to lay off the dramafever and spend time thinking about things other than what the hell's happening in Big ;)

    2. LOL...Your dream analyses sounds suspiciously like you're talking to me.

  3. Now, when you start dreaming in Korean, then we might have something to discuss ;)

    I actually like the idea of 3 separate top 10 lists. Maybe I'll work on that, because it really is true, how different those concepts are. I found myself recommending Pasta the other day as a first time watch for someone, and that drama doesn't even figure in my top 10. Then again, I change my recommendations based on the person I'm talking to. I guess this list is basically the 10 dramas that stayed with me the most and longest. But there were a good 3 other dramas that really wanted to make a play for the last few spots, and only brutal efficiency made me rule them out. Even if I didn't watch anymore dramas from now until the next time I made this list, time would probably make me change up a few.. hah. I'm even begining to change my mind right now... :D

    Now, the Idle Revelry bloggers' system of stars and hearts is one of my most admired systems, conveying both objectivy and true love regardless of the rating.

    1. Dreaming in Korean? I wish ;) Then I wouldn't have to wait for shows to be subbed!

      They do everything wonderfully over at Idle Revelry. Dramabeans also has a similar system—a numerical rating for how good a show is objectively, and another one for how much they enjoyed it. I guess I should sort out something like that, but it kind of goes without saying that what I post here is my subjective opinion. What I really need is a master rating list of all the dramas I've watched...which would actually be sort of embarrassing, because I've spent an unhealthy amount of time in front of my television in the past year =X

  4. I haven't watched any of yours except the first 3 and Goong, and 2 episodes of Shut Up. I loved your first 2 and Goong, though I think it is actually my least favorite YEH drama, all of her dramas are wonderful though. SKKS was really awesome because of the characters. The romantic aspect of the story was pretty average, but I was in love with the interaction between Kim Yoon Hee, Gaeol Oh, and Yeo Rim, especially between Gaeol and Yeo Rim. Yeo Rim really made that show, he's up there as one of my favorite supporting characters from a kdrama. Ooooh, that's going to be my next list lol. I think that Lee Sun Joon was kind of stiff because most kdramas don't have 2 dominating personalities as the leads. It's normally the guy who is dominating and the girl who is ditzy and mindless. But this time they had a girl with a strong infectious personality and a guy who was stiff as a board lol. I really want to redo my top 10 after re-evaluating some dramas and watching new ones. I think mine changes constantly lol (with Coffee Prince always being #1 :P). I know that I am definitely prone to liking the dramedys because I love to laugh, but every now and then a more serious one gets my attention. I can't handle too much angst in a drama though, there needs to be a good healthy dose of it, but when it gets to be too much I can't handle it lol. Secret Garden was one of my faves because of the comedy aspect.

    I think there is always one or two that each person likes that other people are like "What? really?" lol. For me it was Myung Wol the Spy. When I read that you have one that people always search for and stumble on your blog it made me laugh because Myung Wol is that for my blog ha ha. I'm going to have to watch some more of the ones on your list.

    1. Yeo Rim was wonderful in SKKS—he was sparkling and fabulous and just the comedic touch the show needed. (I still wish he'd hooked up with Gaeol Oh for real, though.) I tend to like shows that are a little more drama than comedy, which is probably one of the reasons why Secret Garden made me seethe with dislike.

      Myung Wol the Spy is on my list to watch, because you said you liked it so much. My favorite drama that everyone else hates is One Fine Day...starring, of course, Gong Yoo. It's all angsty, cliche, melodramatic, and completely wonderful. (As far as I'm concerned, anyway.) Anything set in an aquarium with lots of Gong Yoo shirtless scenes is A-OK in my book.

    2. I've seen SKKS and really liked it. Haven't seen Myung Wol the Spy. I have seen One Fine Day. Like Amanda, I have seen everything Gong Yoo has done, movies and dramas. I even ferreted out Biscuit Teacher/Star Candy. I don't like it when he plays the goofy types now that he is an adult. Mr. Destiny and Big are two examples that I didn't like, especially Big. I haven't seen the movie Crucible yet. It being based on a true story and the horror those children experienced. I don't if I can handle it.

  5. Ha ha!! I don't know if you'll like Myung Wol but we'll see... oh Gong Yoo he's so fabulous. I'll have to watch that one soon. Did you watch Cinderella's Sister? If you like angst and lots of drama you will probably like it. It was by far the angstiest drama I've ever seen lol. Not my cup of tea, but I will admit the acting was fantastic (with the exception Seo Woo's whinyness), but you might really like it.

  6. Longgg post ahead!

    Hmm, I don't think I've finished enough kdramas to fill up a Top Ten list, but I have enough for five. My preferred genres are mystery/thrillers, which sadly kdramas don't do enough of. None of them are technically perfect, but I can rewatch them over and over again.

    (No, I haven't seen Coffee Prince yet. Yes, I should remedy that.)

    Top Five Favorite Kdramas (in no particular order):

    -Story of A Man/The Slingshot (20 eps, 2009): Took me a few eps to get into this revenge drama, but then I couldn't stop. RIP Park Yong Ha.

    -White Christmas (8 eps, 2011): Set among some high school students in a prestigious and isolated school, this began as a mystery before transforming into a psychological thriller. Excellent writing and gorgeous moody cinematography. The young cast is very green and it shows, but a lot of them moved on to bigger and better things (Sung Joon to SUFBB, Baek Sung Hyun to Queen Insoo and Big, Lee Soo Hyuk to Tree With Deep Roots and What's Up). There are definitely flaws, but I loved this from the first scene to the last.

    -Soulmate (12 eps, 2006): It's a romantic sitcom about the concept of soulmates, but the atmosphere has an almost indie-vibe, the soundtrack is glorious, and it somehow manages to be incredibly witty and cheesy and cynical and romantic at the same time.

    -Joseon X-files/Secret Investigation Records (12 eps, 2010): A fusion saguek/horror/sci-fi about aliens and other supernatural occurrences in Joseon Korea! Strange concept but great execution.

    - Queen In-hyun's Man (16 eps, 2012): I still think the ending could have been better handled, but overall this show made me feel dazed and giddy, like having a crush all over again.

    ...now that I look back on my list, I seem to really have a thing for shorter dramas with pretty cinematography and nice music.

    1. Yay! I've only seen one drama on your list, which is fabulous—I'm always looking for good new things to watch. The shorter drama specials like White Christmas seem to be hard to find online, though :b

  7. Ha, I'm embarrassed to say the only drama I've seen on your list is Coffee Prince- I'm officially a terrible K drama watcher.

    " Maybe it’s a sign that I’m a failure at adulthood, but somehow I find 15 infinitely more interesting than 35."

    There something waaay more interesting about youthful characters in K dramas- they're often given all the hope and spunk you want out of your leads... I don't know why so many K dramas think being 35 or 30 for that matter is synonymous with being humourless and stuffy, and often they have so much baggage they behave like 12 yr olds anyway. This is possibly why my all time favourite k drama heroine is Kim Samsoon, because she was always mouthing off and being generally hilarious.

    1. Ah, but if there's one drama I think everybody should watch, it's totally Coffee Prince. So you picked well, in my estimation ;)

      And I'm always drawn to stories about younger people, even in American entertainment. Once you're 35, you've pretty much made your decisions, whichever continent you're on. When you're 15, all you have is possibility, which is a pretty exciting thing.

      Kdrama leads really do act about a decade younger than they I would think they should, though. I love Kim Samsoon, too: She's a girl who gets things done, unlike so many of her peers.

  8. Hi Amanda!
    Have you come across this blog: Kdrama Laws http://kdramalaws.wordpress.com/? It reminded me of your post about the Kdrama writer contract. LOL.

    Oh, and I keep a spreadsheet of the dramas I've watched. It's very unwieldy now, but extremely handy in figuring out when I first started crushing on KimuTaku and WonBin (and all the hot guys I have in my other list, which I've been meaning to turn into a slideshow presentation). I no longer consider this embarrassing. :)

    1. I did see those Kdrama Laws...they're incredibly funny. From the genius Bathroom Use law:

      "In office and/or school restrooms, characters may gossip about or backstab a certain person IF AND ONLY IF said person is quietly hiding in/using a stall and can clearly hear everything."

      Is that ever true.

      Hmm...a Kdrama spreadsheet. That's probably just what I need, sadly enough. Or maybe a Kdrama intervention? Is anyone doing those yet? ;)

  9. I think I've been watching kdramas since November and it's embarassing how many I've seen now that I'm thinking about it. Maybe I need one of those interventions as well. This is my top ten list in no particular order, except Coffee Prince is still my number 1. It was my first kdrama and I blame it entirely for my kdrama obsession.
    1. Coffee Prince
    2. Sungkyunkwan Scandal
    3. City Hall
    4. Beethoven Virus
    5. History of a Salaryman
    6. Greatest Love
    7. Que Sera, Sera
    8. The Devil
    9. Shining Inheritance
    10. Mary Stayed Out All Night (Hey, we all have our weaknesses!)
    Some of these I didn't rate so high when I first saw them, but they've all stayed with me while others that I rated highly have kind of slipped away. Of course this list probably changes on a daily basis. Bridal Mask is looking really promising as of episode 11, and not just because Joo Won can fill out a suit. Plus I still have so many on my to watch list.

    As a side note, I saw Soulmate on someone's list up above and what pops in my head but, "This is not a love song..." I couldn't get that song out my head the whole time I was watching that drama.

    P.S. - While I didn't hate Secret Garden, I sure as hell didn't like it. I did think the bit with the Oska socks was pretty funny though.

  10. My top 10 for now are:

    1. Coffee Prince - started my addiction, introduced me to Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun Hye
    2. Goong - continued my addiction and again with adorable Yoon Eun Hye
    3. Kim Sam Soon - introduced me to Kim Sun Ah and Hyun Bin
    4. Secret Garden - Hyun Bin all the way
    5. Sungkyunkwan Scandal - introduced me to Mickey Youchun and Park Min Ah
    6. Rooftop Prince - just adorable - Mickey Youchun again
    7. King 2 Hearts - Lee Seung Gi, also loved My Girlfriend is a Nine Tail Fox
    8. Kimchi Family - loved the kimchi preparation scenes, have to do them all
    9. I Do I Do - introduced me to Lee Jang Woo and my wonderful Kim Sun Ah
    10.Friend, Legend - Hyun Bin, not my kind of drama but he was great!

    1. I enjoyed almost all of these shows, too. I've never even heard of drama 10 on your list, though! How could that be? ::searches::

    2. It's Friend, Our Legend. DramaFever didn't carry it but it's on Vicki.com. If you watch it the scene where he is in prison and his love comes to see him is absolutely amazing. It is backlit in yellow lighting and the look in his eyes is the look I want a man who loves me to look. Otherwise it's a grueling gangster drama. Also, he sings a song for the OST, Can't Have You. It's on my iPod too.

  11. My favorites:
    1. City Hunter (LMH and all production)
    2. Bridal Mask (perfomances)
    3. Friend our legend (Hyun Bin, great direction)
    4. My name is Kim Sam Soon (performances, plot, comedy, etc.)
    5. Coffee Prince (GY & YEH, plot, production, etc.)
    6. Hello my teacher (excellent students stories)
    7. Secret Garden (Hyun Bin)
    8. Cinderella's sister (Moon Geun Young)
    9. Gentlemen's dignity (bromance)
    10. Goong

  12. I've seen about 20 so far. These are the ones that I'd recommend to others:

    1. Answer me 1997 (my absolutely new favorite. The music in this series also rocks)
    2. Boys Over Flowers (yes, the story was not the greatest and it can have been shorter, but something about this one made me a K-drama addict. There were so many absurd plots that made me laugh so hard. It was the first drama in which I had to suffer thru some serious withdrawal)
    3. Sungkyunkwan Scandal (interesting plots)
    4. I Need Romance (great cast and dialogue. I'm so sad though with the guy she ended up choosing)
    5. Queen In-Hyun's Man (yes, the kisses - for once they are believable)
    6. My Girlfriend is a Guminho (cute and lighthearted)
    7. You are Beautiful (this is like BOF - silly story, but highly addictive)
    8. Shut up Flower Boy Band (but what's up with the male lead's hair? It looks like a mop)
    9. Dream High

    These are the ones that I saw that I thought were OK, but may be worth your time if you've nothing else to watch :)
    1. Arang and the Magistrate
    2. Lie to Me
    3. Personal Taste
    4. City Hunter
    5. King 2 Hearts
    6. My Name is Kim Sam Soon
    7. Coffee Prince (Amanda, I know how much you like this one. It is a great drama, but not on my top list because I'm not as into gender bending type of drama, except for You're Beautiful)
    8. 9 Ends 2 Outs
    9. Full House
    10. Faith

    Ones to avoid:
    1. My Princess (I've never seen anything so boring)
    2. Shiny Inheritance (huh? No chemistry between the male and female leads. The second male lead was so much cuter. Makes no sense why she passed him up)
    3. Heartstrings (yawn)
    4. Secret Garden (Didn't get this one at all. The body switching is strange. And what's up with Hyun Bin's face - he appears to have no jaws. I think he lost way too much weight).

    1. can you make a new list ,PLEASE?pretty please? there were so many good dramas this year!

  13. Merry Christmas everyone! A catastrophic thing has occurred. Dramafever is down right now, on Christmas Eve. Thank goodness I have my trusty DVD of She's on Duty with Kim Sun Ah and Gong Yoo. I'll be okay, I know I will.........

  14. 1.-Scent of a women (KSA was marvelous in this drama, My Wookie the handsome....)
    2.-Smile You
    3.- Full House
    4.-king of 2 hearts full of surprises
    5.-Full House
    6.- Cinderella Sister.I was depresed all along
    7.-A love to kill...Rain :O
    8.-I need Romance
    9.My girlfriend is a Gumiho
    10.- I do I do.. Lee Jang Woo My Hubby♥♥

  15. Happy Holidays!
    My list:
    1. My name is Kim Sam Soon (so funny)
    2. A love to kill (Rain!!!!)
    3. Queen In Hyun's man (true love? yes!)
    4. Arang and Magistrate (sweet and beautiful visually)
    5. Answer me 1997 (raw and sincere)
    6. Secret Garden (funny)
    7. Let's go to school, San Goo (cutting his daughter's hair, sob)
    8. Time between Dog and Wolf (gorgeous man)
    9. Tamra the island (scenery, women, music)
    10. What happened in Bali (sob, sob, more sobs)

  16. 1. Full House
    2. Rooftop Prince
    3. Lie to Me
    4. Goong
    5. Love Rain
    6. Gentleman Dignity
    7. 49 days
    8. City Hunter
    9. Queen In Hyun's Man
    10. 18 vs 29

    and recently i watched Taiwanesse Drama, which is i love to death: Autumn Concerto and Material Queen

  17. i very high recommend k drama to others:

    1. Coffee Prince (laugh always )
    2. Secret Garden ( i crying many time for this drama, very touching)
    3. Roof top Prince ( i like last screen, really the place at korea tower )
    4. Sungkyunkwan Scandal ( make me try to watching another historical k-drama
    like: jewel in palace,princess man, arang & Magistrate, iljime )
    5. 18 VS 29 ( i feel warm watching that drama)
    6. Queen In-Hyun's Man ( curiosity to see each other, to make me sad )
    7. My Girlfriend is a Guminho ( Lee Seung Ki so amaging, have real prefect
    men like he..)
    8. Sweet 18 ( make me love k-drama a lot)
    9. Prosecutor Princess ( Park Shi Hoo, through a lot of grief..because love
    make everything colourfull )
    10. Delightful Girl Choon Hyang ( true love, all will be beautiful with the
    passage of time )

    actually many good drama that could not be enumerated
    Enjoyed all..

  18. Are we only listing kdramas? (Autumn's Concerto)[fav of all time tbh]

    1. Queen InHyun's Man
    2. City Hunter
    3. Can Your Hear My Heart?
    4. The Greatest Love
    5. Coffee Prince
    6. Pasta
    7. Bad Couple
    8. Love Marriage
    9. City Hall
    10. Baby-Faced Beauty

    These are dramas I could NOT stop watching. Those that didn't let me sleep and woke me up early for more. Ugh, especially the ones that tug at my heart when something happened to the protagonists. Ah, filling in the last spot was difficult. (I was tied up with these four: 9 Ends 2 Outs, Scent of a Woman, The Moon Embracing the Sun, Baby-Faced Beauty)

    What this post made me realize, is that I have seen far too many dramas. I mean seriously? Have I seen the sun? Hahaha, I think you should make a post for dramas you do NOT recommend. Or have you made one?

  19. I'm new to K- Drama's the first one i watched that got me hooked was Boys Over Flowers...think i've watched quiet a few some more than once like Iris...

  20. I am now watching Sweet 18 and it is really cute so far. Also watching King 2 Heart for the second time. Really good.

    There are so many and so little time.....

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. Another group of favorites:
    Tree with deep roots (excellent lingustic history!!!!)
    Nice Guy (SJK one of the best...)
    Queen In Hyun's man (beautiful story)
    Answer me 1997 (I love school stories!)

  23. I've never seen an historical K-drama, I guess I will try Sungkyunkwan Scandal. I love dramas with a strong and complex female lead, that's why Kim Sun-Ah it's my favorite actress :)

    These are my favorites:

    1. City Hall
    2. I'm Sorry, I Love You (this is an exception to my rule, the characters are so vulnerable (in a good way) and the story is perfectly written)
    3. Coffee Prince
    4. My Name Is Kim Sam Soon
    5. Answer me 1997
    6. Scent of a Woman
    7. Worlds Within
    8. In Time With You (a Taiwanese drama)
    9. Secret Garden
    10. It can be Greatest Love, Dalja's Spring or Protect the Boss

  24. 1. Brain (The best medical drama, great & believable plot, amazing casts and LOVE IT!!!)
    2.Beautiful Days (One of the melodrama that captured my heart, watched this back in High school, endless crying... T__T)
    3.Lie To Me (Its a BIAS since I am SO INTO Kang Ji Hwan)
    4.Goong (Love it!)
    5.Coffee Prince (Enjoyed the storyline a lott!)
    6.Secret Garden (Awesome plot, and the sequined jumper...LoL)
    7.Sweet 18 (It's about getting married really young, to your favorite guy)
    8. Sang Doo, Let's Go To School (Rain & Gong Hyo Jin, must watch list)
    9. Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy (Gong Yoo "naughty guy!" & Gong Hyo Jin-Its a drama about student-teacher love, funny and romantic)
    10. BoF (No reasons NOT to watch)
    11. My Girl (Its so Funny)

  25. I have a list too, but I don't really rank them, 'cause it's so confusing!

    1. IRIS
    2. Nice Guy
    3. Princess Hours
    4. Pasta
    5. Reply 1997
    6. Thank You
    7. Sungkyunkwan Scandal
    8. A Love to Kill
    9. Jungle Fish
    10. Autumn in My Heart

    anyway, have you ever wathced IRIS? Kkk~

  26. This is my first comment on your blog (which I only recently discovered from a Dramabeans link)

    Your blog is very cool and I think your writing style is hugely amusing!! I have had quite a few laugh out loud moments so far! :)
    Which is actually kind of bad as I do not need to get addicted to a new blog right now....sigh.

    My favorites are mostly fusion and fantasy Sagueks though I love a lot of modern set ones too!

    - Tamra the Island
    - Faith
    - Arang and the Magistrate
    - Dream High (my first ever K-drama)
    - White Christmas
    - Princess Man
    - Queen In-hyuns Man

    Mmmh, I feel like I am missing some very important dramas....

  27. Your list is so refreshing in that it includes some older dramas.
    I used to be a very big fan of kDramas before they became popular (pshh, I am not trying to be a hipster... maybe a little), then I stopped watching them for few years. Now that my friends are trying to bring me back into the world of kDrama, this blog has been a great help. As for my list, most of them are from my kDrama frenzy days so they are quite old, but I think they are still better than most of the popular dramas I've seen recently (I may be a bit biased).

    1. Time between Dog and Wolf - I visited Tokyo the summer this drama aired (the same summer as Coffee Prince). It was hot, humid, and magical. Thanks to that trip, I could fully immerse myself into the poignant last scene. This is, without a doubt, my favourite kDrama.

    2. Goong - Whenever I need a cheesy sugar rush, I return to this classic.

    3. Old Miss Diary - It is a long sitcom and very old too, but it is also full of what we kDrama fans refer to as 'heart.'

    4. Alone in Love - I think this is the most realistic portrayal of an adult relationship in any kDrama ever made. This also happens to be the most well acted kDrama I've seen thus far.

    5. Kim Sam Soon - For sentimental reasons it makes the list.

    6. The Devil - Watching this drama felt like witnessing a train wreck happen at a distance. I knew where all the characters were heading and they can only end in tragedy, but I also knew that everything that was about to unfold was unavoidable.

    7. Behind the White Tower - I think this is the only kDrama that I've seen that doesn't deal with romance at all (maybe a little). It is a classic tale of a tragic hero who sees his rise and fall due to his inherent qualities. What makes this

    8. Coffee Prince - Having read your blog I don't think I need to explain why I like this drama.

    9. Rebirth(Buhwal) - Spiritual predecessor of The Devil. I can't quite put my finger on what it is about this drama that draws me into it. Objectively speaking this is a poorly acted, horribly aged, and plot hole ridden drama. I can't recommend anyone watch this drama. However, I can still vividly remember many scenes from this drama as if I watched them yesterday.

    10. Sungkyunkwan Scandal - This is what got me back into kDramas. I think it has all the quintessential ingredients of a good kDrama like cute and lovable characters, romance, cross-dressing, etc. What separates this one from other good kDramas is the chemistry between the ensemble cast.

  28. It's so hard to make a list with just 10 dramas:
    1.Reply 1997 - so interesting from the start till the end
    2.The Greatest Love - amazing love story
    3.BoF - F4
    4.Goong - sweet growing love
    5.Queen In-hyuns Man - great chemistry between the main actors
    6.Shut up Flower Boy Band - so realistic view of the k-pop industry
    7. 9 Ends 2 Outs/ Coffee prince- friendship and love
    8. Heartstrings- just so sweet main couple,match from heaven
    9. My Name is Kim Sam Sun/Soulmate-because of the great female character/strangely compelling story
    10. Flower Boy Ramyen Shop - so funny but still so hot

  29. I just finished your number 4. It blows my mind. So good. Thank you very much!!!!! Please, recommend me something like that! Thanks

  30. I gave up listing my drama rankings haha! But with everyone listing down their favorites, I would like to rewrite my own too haha!

    1-Reply 1997
    2-City Hunter
    3-49 Days
    4-Gu Family Book (i was hoping this would be on top but finales happen and sometimes they screw everything up)
    5-Nice Guy
    6-Moon Sun
    7-Rooftop Prince
    8-My GF is a Gumiho
    8-Sassy Girl Chunhyang
    10-Greatest Love


    1. Coffee Prince
    2. Reply 1997
    3. What's up fox?
    4. Dalja's spring
    5. World's within
    6. 9 end 2 outs
    7. Tree of heaven

    Taiwan dramas: Hana kimi, prince who became a frog, In time with you.

    I love dramas with a good scriptwriter that gives depth, thought and insight to the drama and consequently, life.
    1. Secret Garden
    2. School 2013
    3. Can we get married
    4. I need Romance
    5. Flower boys next door
    6. shut up flower boy band
    7. Baby Faced Beauty (although it became boring at the end)

    When I was younger, I loved mindless rom-coms a lot and though I find some boring now, I can't chase out dramas I've already put in my heart.
    1. Sweet 18
    2. Full house
    3. My sassy girl
    4. Last scandal of my life
    5. My name is kim sam soon
    6. Kim Tak gu (Although not really old, it feels like a classic.
    7. Summer scent

    Family shows that get you in the heart or kids that are unbelievably good in their acting. And because they're kids, you root for them more and they tend to feel more earnest in acting. You can't rank kids, so they are all number one in this section of my heart. HA.
    1. One mum three dads (The Dads are kids)
    1. Wish upon a star
    1. I miss you (kids)
    1. Iljimae (kids)
    1. A Gumiho's Revenge (kids)
    1. I'm Sam
    1. Manny

    Those that swept you off your feet but for some reason, you didn't let them in your heart to stay.
    1. Queen In hyun's man
    2. City hunter
    3. I hear your voice
    4. SKK scandal
    5. My Girl
    6. Goong
    7. Boys over flowers (Jandi is not supposed to be weak!)

    The ones to watch that may end up on these lists: Cruel city, Time between dog and wolf, Star in my heart, Alone in love, Can you hear my voice

    I couldn't really decide on the ranking for this.
    1. Dream High
    2. Master of Study
    3. Big
    3. The Innocent Man
    3. The moon that embraces the sun
    3. Flower Boy Ramyun Shop
    7. Love Rain

    I gave up having my rankings but decided to try after seeing you guys do it. ^^ Thanks to you guys I found a way to categorize my love for kdramas so I don't feel conflicted in giving out the rankings. I categorised them in terms of why I loved them and ranked them accordingly.

  32. My top five, in no order:

    1. Coffee Prince: One of my first k-dramas, and my gateway drug to Gong Yoo
    2. My Girl: Hilarious
    3. Bad Family: Heartwarming, funny and I love a good mix bag of characters
    4. My Princess: A chemistry like none other, and very cute and funny
    5. Shut Up Flower Boy Band/I Summon You, Gold! tie

    But really, I'm more of a J-drama girl...

  33. 1. Coffee Prince - acting, production, soundtrack... perfection. Best chemistry I have ever seen. Started my obsession with YEH and Kdramas.

    2. Answer me 1997 - Funny and nostalgic. One of the few shows where I actually cared about all the characters. Jung Eun Ji is very charismatic and she needs to keep pursuing acting. Meeeehhh (makes weird goat sound)

    3, Scent of a Woman - quite an uplifting story. It made me cry a lot and I mean A LOT.

    4. The Moon that Embraces the Sun - such great child actors.

    5. Secret Garden / Rooftop Prince - Hyun Bin and his silly track suits. Joseon Power Rangers. Too funny.

  34. Read everyone's lists and got super excited to see some of my favs present and accounted for. Here's mine which I won't rank:

    Kimchi Family
    Nine: Nine Times
    Love Around
    Tree With Deep Roots
    Nobu Wo Produce
    Me Too Flower
    When It's At Night
    King 2 Hearts
    Can You Hear My Heart
    Man From the Stars

  35. Amanda, back to Coffee Prince. I can't imagine you haven't seen this You Tube video yet but just in case, and for anyone else who is interested. It is set to the music of Tyler Ward's cover of Taylor Swift's "Loving her was Red". Fantastic! https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OKSupXmez5w

  36. My Top 10 Fave is

    1. I Hear Your Voice
    2. My Girl
    3. Reply 1997
    4. You're Beautiful
    5. Lovers in Paris
    6. City Hunter
    7. Moon that Embraces the Sun
    8. You From Another Star
    9. Dream High
    10. A Gentleman's Dignity

  37. The kingdom of the winds.
    a marvellous mini series (if that's the correct term)which enthralls right from the start and never lets go. In it's 36 or so hours, it seldom puts a foot wrong. The performances from some of the actors including female are hard to gauge in particular the two leading men, and the leading actressess ie Oh Yoon Ah as hye ap, who i nominate as the sexiest female character I've seen in a long time, and we never even get to see her legs. Then there is Choi Jung Won as Princess Yeon, who is full of grace and serenity. But I have no doubt that the best performance comes from Jung Jin Young as king yuri. plaudits also to among others Kim Hye Ri as as Lady Mi Yoo (Yeo Jin's mother), and Han Jin Hee as King Daeso. yes, there are faults. There is plenty of fighting, but very little blood. At one stage, i thought a character who was being executed had survived. it looked like the excutioners blade had missed him. but no, he had been killed. when one of the main characters is killed in a rather inhumane way, and his friend has the oppurtunity to treat the instigator in like manner, he doesn't. perhaps it's to do with korean tv restrictions. the two leading male and female characters are not without fault. At one stage, she poisons someone, and he has a tendency at times to kill people who are no threat to him. perhaps it was just one person, i can't temember. i see those as positive aspects of the series. When one of the lead characters dies, my heart broke. and i cried like anthing. That is one of the great strenths of korean movies and tv dramas; the emotion they can get from you, and also how they involve you in the stories. highly recommonded without reservations

    NOTE. This was my second drama, and the one that got me into korean dramas.
    Having watched quiet, I believe it's not easy to manipulate my emotions now. I might not "cry like anything" at the same scenes now, or maybe not at all of them. I've also learned how much the music has to with getting emotional responses.

    1. City Hall
      What a wonderful show.
      Kim seon-ah is absolutely perfect as the mayor who never compromises, no matter what she is put through. Whether she is playing a comedy scene, drama, romance, drama, or just being cute, she is totally convincing.
      She is backed up by a terrific cast.
      I do remember thinking in certain parts while watching that there was a hollywood elememt to it.
      although I'm not quite where.

    2. The immortal Yi Soon Shin
      What a drama. What a man.
      Wow, I'm stunned by the quality of this drama. It goes straight to the top as the best Korean drama I've ever seen, and in 2nd place behind Soredemo ito yuke as the best drama. Okay, actually 3rd place if we go outside. The Killing (original) would be in second place.
      Why. Well, there were some that niggled at me
      One. Having japanese characters laugh in a kind of way, to remind us, that "Hey, don't forget we're the baddies here"
      How are the Japanese portrayed overall. Well, first of all, they have great uniforms.
      Some of the best scenes in the movie, are the japanese sections/
      They are portayed as both honourable and brutal.
      two. The "comedy" didn't really work for me. This is one of my biggest gripes with
      Korean historical drama. I guess what you would call "light relief characters" are a staple of thise types of dramas. I'm not saying they never make me laugh, but more
      often than not they don't. I'm referring here to Park Chul-Min. Although there are scenes when he wasn;t trying to be funny, and in some of those, you could see that there is a pretty good actor in there. There were also 3 actors who I thought of
      as the three stooges, but once they, or perhaps just one or two of them, did some
      straight acting, i was more impressed.
      3. Characters dissapear from the drama.
      4. I can't make up my mind about the performances of Kim Kyu-Cheol,Lee Han-Wi,and Ahn Yeon-Hong. At first I thought She was rather weak, but in some scenes I thought she displayed some good acting skills.
      I also wasn't impressed at first by Choi Yu-Jeong. I just thought she was too bland.
      But once she married Yi Soon shin, her performance seemed to get better.

      5. Well, this is not really a fault. There are so many great performances in this, but not all of them are great all the time. I guess it's because their characters become less interesting.
      (a)Jung Ae-Ri. She portrays Yi's mother. In his childhood scenes, she's terrific, but later as he grows to adulthood, her performance for me. didn't hold the same impaact
      (b) Jeon Ik-Ryeong. This for me was the most dissappointing aspect of the series.
      Her character as the feisty courtesan Chung-Hyang was I thought astonishing. It was my facourite character in the drama. But then basicaLLY, she stops becoming a courtesan, and her performance, well, let's kust say, she doesn't get the same opportunities as an actress. But for her performance as the courtesan, I believe she gives the greatest performance. Believe me, in this, that's no easy feat
      6. The beards. The beards all look at the same.

    3. This drama has so many excellent performances in it. Besides the aforementioned, please stand up Choi Jae-Sung,Lee Jae-Ryong,Kim Gyu-Ri,Gi Ju-Bong,Jeong Dong-Hwan wonderful as the wily Yoon Doo-Soo, Choi Cheol-Ho, Lee In, showing that there are good young actors in korea and many others.
      Oh, I nearly forgot Kim Myung-Min in the lead. He holds the whole thing together. He is the centre. It;s really a terrific performance. It;s only when I watch the flasback scenes, showing the difference between the older Yi, and the older, that I can really appreciate his acting.

      The screenplay is terrific, with some wonderful dialogue
      AT First, I thought I preferred the story before he came Admiral. But, no, the series doesn;t falter. It actually becomes more fascinating. eg, the building of the turtle ships, yi's battle stategy, the aforementioned japanese sequences.

      The Battle scenes.At first, these were okay, nothing special. But as the series
      went on, they became better, bloodier.It's as if the makers of the series became
      more confident, in what they could show.
      I should warn people, that this series is one of the most graphic I've ever seen.
      That's not something, that bothers me, but it may others. I'll give you an example. In other korean historical series, if someody is about to be excuted for example, we see the sword coming down, and then perhaps the person lying dead.
      Here, we see the blood.

  38. Get daily suggestions and guides for making $1,000s per day FROM HOME totally FREE.

  39. If you need your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (no matter why you broke up) you got to watch this video
    right away...

    (VIDEO) Want your ex CRAWLING back to you...?

  40. Quantum Binary Signals

    Get professional trading signals sent to your cell phone daily.

    Start following our signals NOW & profit up to 270% a day.