A Few of My Favorite Korean Dramas

 

I heart kdramaI’m going to make it easy on myself and tell you that you really have to preview these to be sure they are family friendly.  I can’t take responsibility for somebody watching one of these on my say-so and then being embarrassed because we don’t have the same standards, or because I dozed off and missed an important scene.  This is a place to start, not the ultimate guide to family friendly viewing- plus, most of these I would not watch with younger viewers anyway (mostly they’d be bored and couldn’t keep up with the subtitles).
Here are some basic things I’ve picked up from watching K-dramas and reading up on them. I am undoubtedly wrong about some of them, but that’s okay.   Culture Clash may also be useful.

Where to get your fix.

 

Note- if it’s one of my top ten (so far), I’ve asterisked the title.  Do bear in mind that this is all about dramas I liked. I don’t usually review dramas I disliked.  I also do not generally review any K-dramas that I think are unsuitable for watching with teens at all.

I don’t watch K-dramas to get deep insights into life, to be given some philosophical questions to ponder, though there are K-dramas that certainly do that, I don’t watch them.  I watch for escape, for distraction, for PTSD thereapeutic purposes.

There are certain things I especially like in my K-dramas, and if these elements are in a show, I am predisposed to be smitten.  Those elements are (and not in any special order):

  • Cute kids
  • Warm sibling/family bonds and connections
  • Bromance
  • Certain types of fight scenes- mainly scenes that require wire work and utilize high kicks. I don’t know why.
  • Lots of Korean cultural elements (this is why I liked Gourmet and Hello, Miss, even though otherwise, they were kind of slow).
  • large families
  • Heavy on the cute and adorable

I don’t have to have all of these things in any given drama.  It’s just that any drama that has a strong showing of any one or two of these things goes to my head- the more of these elements the more smitten I am.  Your list may be different than mine. I like other things, too, of course, good soundtrack, witty writing, fine acting, good production values- but these are things that make a show.  The list above are the things for which I am willing to forgive a show that might otherwise be lacking.

So here’s my list- in mostly random order-

**********The King 2 Hearts; My favorite, and the only one I watched twice just because I loved it that much (I have watched two or three others twice to preview them for my kids, but this one I watched just because I loved it).  Longer review here.

Full House:  Often the gateway drug to Korean dramas.  Reviews of both the K-Drama and the Thai Lakorn version here. (Psst, watch the Thai version. It’s adorable)


*********City Hunter

This is a crime/revenge story with multiple twists and just enough romance to make it a nice compromise between those who only want chick flicks and those who prefer more adrenaline.  I really enjoyed it, and not just because of Lee Min Ho.  Reviewed here.

Jumong– historical drama. Jumong is the third son of the king, his mother is not the King’s first wife, and he is the sort of male Cinderella character typical in fairy tales, bumbling, lazy, goofy, despised by his older brothers and the Queen. Naturally, this is the story of how he grows up and overcomes his disadvantages and becomes King.

Secret Garden: nothing to do with the British book of the same title. It’s a body swapping romantic comedy. Naturally, there are some jokes about the body swapping issues that are related to the fact that it’s the male/female leads who have somehow swapped souls and are now trapped in other body of the other person. Being that this a chaste (ish) Korean drama, the first time the newly swapped female character has to go to the bathroom in her now male body, you don’t see it, you just hear her screams of horror and then watch her washing her hands over and over, which, actually, was pretty hilarious. There are some very weak plot points involved in the storyline of just how and why their bodies are switched and how to get them back, but it’s worth the ride.  Huge bonus, and to me more fun even than the romance- you get one of the best bromances ever between the two male cousins, who are first and second lead, and they only get better as the story progresses.  Oh, that Oska. A side character is gay. I wouldn’t watch this one with my youngest kids and maybe not my son (I’m thinking he wouldn’t really enjoy most of it anyway, not being a chick flick kind of dude), but I liked it. The humour is a bit racier than you may like at times, but I didn’t think it was vile.

You’re Beautiful: romantic comedy- the twin sister of a newly recruited (male) idol-to-be has to pretend to be him while he recovers from a botched cosmetic surgery in order to save his huge big break for him. She’s slightly more believable as a boy than most of the other shows I’ve seen with the same premise, mainly because she fits the flower-boy image so popular with Korean idols (a flower boy doesn’t mean what it sounds like to American ears- he just is pretty, fresh faced, very young looking and dream-boaty). Lots of improbable plot points, some annoyingly tedious shenanigans from third parties who mainly exist to prolong the agony, along with the usual obnoxious misunderstandings based on somebody being too proud or too bashful to speak up when speaking up would clear everything up instantly.  However, cute, cute, cute, and I loved the transformation of the main male lead from mean jerk to devoted lover. Lots of funny moments, some iffy.

Faith, or The Great Doctor– I’m watching this one with my 14 y.o. son. It’s not epic, but it’s fun. Some of the main characters have some special powers and that aspect of the program is a bit cheesy and comic booky, but then, so is the idea that there is a time traveling door that opens once in a while and people can slip in and out,  and the main female lead is a modern day cosmetic surgeon kidnapped from the modern era by a warrior sent to bring her back to the middle ages of Korea to save the Queen’s life. Ignore that and enjoy the ride again. The parts I especially enjoy: The main lead’s droll delivery of most of his lines, his dry wit, his growth; The little king, who learns how to be a king worthy of the name, the young queen who loves him with all her heart but it takes him forever to figure that out; the delicious Court Lady Choi, who says things like, “Can I stop bowing now, because I am busy and have many things to do?” The fight scenes. The acrobatic Dae-man and his hair, which should be a character all its own. Also, Lee Min Ho, and if that means nothing to you, maybe you’ve only been watching K-dramas since yesterday.

What I don’t like: the female lead is shrill, trivial, annoying, and cringe inducingly shallow at times.  A flaming fay warrior in white who is just a bit creepy.  Flute boy is beautiful to look at but really doesn’t do much to progress the plot and his side-kick Firehand Girl is equally pointless to the plot.

Caveat- we skipped through part of a scene in, I think, the 4th episode.  It’s a recounting of the behavior of a previous king who ran a very loose and promiscuous court- all the retainers and the king are drunk, they all have female companions wearing strapless gowns, and there is a scene where he orders another female to undress. It stops before you’ve seen anything you can’t see on the cover of Cosmopolitan, and maybe less, but it’s suggestive and I don’t think you can be too careful with 14 year old boys.

 

********The Man of the Vineyard: Also called Vineyard Man- romantic comedy, pro-agrarian theme, lovely scenes, noble farmer- I loved this. It’s a bit slow at times, and the main actress is not one of my favorites. She is hugely popular in Korea, but I find she plays essentially the same part the same way all the time, and that part includes a lot of whining and muttering and trailing off into inarticulate slurred speech in whatever she’s saying. She’s kind of mush mouthed- I can’t distinguish any words she says. You’d think it wouldn’t matter, since I don’t speak Korean or understand more than about ten words, and those ten words need to be spoken slowly.  But her trailing mutterings irritate me after a while and I want to shake her and ask her to ENUNCIATE!  For family viewing there is a scene in the first and second episodes you might prefer to skip- she is a struggling fashion designer wannabe, and her boss hires three thugs to steal her newly designed outfit- which she is wearing. She’s stuck in the bathroom in her slip, and then there is confusion that would take too long to explain but ends up with her and Vineyard man stuck at the police station swapping accusations of sexual assault. Really, I think the first two episodes are mostly skippable- read a recap to get up to speed and then watch the rest. I thought it was incredibly sweet, and I loved the pro-agrarian theme.

Hello Miss / Hello My Lady: romantic comedy with some lovely background scenes on traditional Korean culture. I would so love to have the male lead’s character as a son-in-law. He’s so sweet.  This is one of my favorites, but that could be because it was one of the earliest ones I watched.  There is another drama called Hello, My Lady that is totally a different story, but I loved it, too.

My Girlfriend is a Nine-tailed Fox, also called My Girlfriend is a Gumiho– romantic comedy, total chick-flick, frustrating and irritating conflicts at times, but both the leads here are so ridiculously cute that I’d forgive a lot just to watch them be unbelievably adorable and mischievous together.  Some of the jokes are around her matter of fact remarks about ‘mating,’ and that is the word she uses. She is a fox, after all. A Gumiho is a Korean mythical creature, a nine-tailed fox. She is a nine-tailed fox who wished to become human.  The real legend of the Gumiho is altered significantly for the show, and that was kind of a neat storyline.  Probably more ‘off color’ jokes than most of the others (with the exception of Hong Gil Dong) I like, but this is very sweet, funny, and adorable.  Longer review here.

Coffee House– Romantic Comedy (not to be confused with Coffee Prince, which I do not recommend)- an early scene involves a lot of toilet humour, which is more common in Korean dramas than in American (I find it interesting that toilet humour is crass and vulgar here, but sexual jokes are perfectly acceptable), and there is a really irritating part of the story that involves the female lead being so dumb- the dumb is way overplayed here, and I could hardly stand to watch her on screen in the middle of the series- it was uncomfortable because she was so dumb that in real life a character that clueless would actually belong in the special ed class at school so it was like making fun of somebody for being disabled. However, I love the main actor and the second female lead and I really liked the story, so I just gritted my teeth and pushed through it. The female lead does grow up and wake up a few brain cells, but I never really cared very much about her, I just wanted to see the antics of her boss, her boss’s boss, and the guy in the building across the way.
There’s some lazy writing where some major story resolution occurs off screen as though by magic, some steamy kiss scenes, and a couple other scenes I’d rather my son didn’t watch- it’s really a chick flick, anyway. Did I say I like this actor a lot?  He’s really quite good, especially at portraying slightly offbeat, quirky people.

Detectives in Trouble / Crime Squad / Homicide
I liked this, but at the moment I can’t remember anything else about it except that I liked it, and it was as the title suggests – crime/suspense, not comedy..

Iris 13 Icon

Iris- this is the first drama that I watched, and I really enjoyed it at the time. It’s action/adventure/spy material.  Reviewed here.   Athena is similar, but the best episode turned out to be a dream.  I won’t be watching Iris 2, the sequel.

Iris I has a fascinating usage of Christian symbols and terms.

I also really enjoyed the squeaky clean and incredibly sweet Heartstrings / You’ve Fallen for Me , a teen romance (the kids are in college).  There’s an annoying Noble Idiot theme in the second to last and part of the last episode, and that really is a buzzkill, but I just pretend that’s not how it all happened and edit it out in my mind and rewrote it to make sense and not totally shred the character that has been built up through the entire series.  The first episode is incredibly sloooooooow (this tends to be true for me for most Korean dramas- I have to watch two, and sometimes three episodes before I think I’ve seen enough of the storyline to know if I like it or not- or I read a recap of the first and second episodes to see where they are going).  Other than that, this is really a sweet chickflicky romance that I really enjoyed. Added bonus- the music is delightful, and if you wished the second lead got the girl in You’re Beautiful, that actor plays the main lead here, and he’s still the best boyfriend ever and he finally gets the girl. Just remember to rewrite most of the Noble Stupidhead plotline in your head, because it totally doesn’t work, well, just about ever, but it was really jarring here..

******Another one I love that isn’t for everybody goes by the names Shut Up, Flower Boy Band/ Shut Up and Run/Shut UP and Let’s Go, and a couple other titles I forget.  For me, this one is up there with King 2 Hearts, probably one of my top five favorites of the dramas I’ve watched.  It’s also clean in regard to relations between the sexes, deliciously full to the brim of some truly delightful bromance, and loaded with rock music and sass. It’s really well done, and it just gets better and better, apart from the noble idiot theme again, although the noble idiot totally gets called on that, so that was good.

It’s about a high school rock band of near delinquents, mostly from broken homes, and their search for fame.  They aren’t so much bad as they are a bit wild, independent, and quick to defend themselves with some handy fisticuffs. They never start the fights, but they usually end them, with smiles. They are also cuter than a basket full of puppies, and I am not just talking about their looks, but about their interactions with each other. The Chemistry and Charisma, it is strong in these boys.
I watched the first two episodes and thought it was okay, but not really my thing. Then a recap made me think otherwise and I watched the rest. I am glad I did.  But if rough around the edges teens who get into fights and sass their teachers (with wit, charm, and sharp insight into what those teachers are doing wrong) is a turn off, you won’t like it.  I really, really loved the way they worked out the plot in this drama with some really nice coming of age resolutions.  I found this series overall to be very heartwarming and endearing, once you get past the first 3 episodes or so, when you might think you’re only watching a fangirl’s dream show about teen rockers and James Dean types, but if you pay close attention even in the very first scene you’re getting much more than that. It starts out looking like a show just for teens, but I don’t think it is at all limited to teens for its appeal. Also, spoiler, spoiler, spoiler- the leader of the band is only a cameo role by a real-life Korean rocker. He dies dramatically and abruptly in the second or third episode, and I was a bit shaken by that scene.

For me, this is definitely one of my top ten.  I would even suggest going back and watching the first scene of the first episode once you finish it, to see how well the foreshadowing was done.

 

I mentioned MARY STAYED OUT ALL NIGHT above-  review here.

Hong Gil Dong
lots of caveats required for sexual innuendos,so preview.  This is another one where I watched it because I really like the main actors- the male lead is the guy in Coffee House and as I said,  I think he’s really talented at quirky, zany characters.   Hong Gil Dong is a Korean Robin Hood character.  This one starts out as a great comedy/adventure show for about the first half, and then became political tragedy, which was frustrating.  Both were well done, but I prefer to watch one or the other at a time, or at least know what’s coming.  Now you know, so maybe you’ll enjoy it.

Dream High Romantic comedy, high school musical, coming of age, figuring out who you are and what your dreams are- Dream High just got better and better as it went along. It’s kind of like Fame, only way better, cleaner, sweeter, cuter, and with a set story arc heading toward a solid conclusion. Cutest pairing ever- Pil-sook and Jason, who are not the first or second leads, but the third, and I want to take them home with me. When I say it’s kind of like Fame I mean if you liked Fame, you’ll probably like this, but if you hated Fame, you still might like this because it’s so much better (IMO). Or maybe you aren’t old enough to remember Fame, in which case, I hate you. No, I mean, never mind that comparison.

What we have here is a bunch of talented kids, some with great egos to match, at a performing arts high school competing for honors and glory, and a quick run through on their after high school story. There’s some hilarity, some bromance (YAY), lots of cuteness, teen-age angst, parent troubles (because a couple of the parents are real losers), warmth, and lots of affection. Sweet show, but does not sacrifice some genuine realism and pain for the sweet- there is a very well done thread (as in realistic without being graphic or needlessly detailed) involving an unscrupulous mogul assaulting a sweet young thing (that happens off screen), and the aftermath, and how the scandal ends up hurting her more than him, even though she’s the victim.  It was done as discretely and tastefully as it could be done, and would go right over the heads of most kids- you have to know something about the seamy life to know what they are talking about in this part of the story, and i thought it was well-done and worth watching.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal
Set in the Joseun era, a girl must support her widowed mother and sickly younger brother, and she does it by dressing up as a boy in order to be a scribe. Through a series of unfortunate events all of which are driven by a well meaning busy body, she ends up as a scholarship student at an all boys’ school (the only kind there were), where she has to share a room with two boys while keeping her identity a secret, because she’s risking her life to be there. But then, she’d have been risking her life to turn down the scholarship, too. Mostly a romantic comedy with adventure elements.
Requires previewing, it’s not really for everyone and there are the caveats you can imagine would occur with the main plot point, although it was all handled much more delicately than it would have been in an American version. Other caveats center around some of the manuscripts our main lead copies for pay- they are the sort sold in the back room.
I thought it was witty, well acted, and funny for the most part.   there were especially wonderful performances by all four of the main young actors, but i particularly enjoyed Song Joong-ki’s performance as the wealthy young merchant’s son and all around frivolous playboy with a secret serious side (I like him in Innocent Man or Nice Guy, too, and the movie Penny Pinchers, though there was a lot of totally not family friendly stuff in the first third or so of that movie.  He is outstanding in Werewolf Boy).

The King of DramasThis is about overcoming your past and the makings of personal growth, about the proper use of power, about hubris, about keeping your moral compass in a world that doesn’t have one, and it’s told through the vehicle of the throat cutting competition and high powered stress inside the world of Korean drama making- the live shoots, the scandals, the time pressures, the back stabbing, the idols, the third rate lives actors have to live while shooting, and more. It’s sometimes tongue in cheek, often hilarious, other times gut punchingly sad. the music and cinematography is crisp and beautiful, the acting is impressive. The female lead is just luminous, the male lead’s voice sonorous, the directing and editing is tight and often gives us some sharp hairpin turns that I love. Dramabeans’ recaps are a must, because there are a lot of inside jokes here.  The soundtrack is another character in this movie- they use it and don’t use it equally well to communicate and drive the story at just the right times.  This is a great show to watch to get some understanding of the inside world of K-drama making.

It is one of the most tightly crafted dramas I’ve seen yet.  Also, Siwon playing Hyun Min= Belly Laughs.  That boy is hilarious, and I love how he throws his whole Idol Self into the role and isn’t afraid to make fun of himself, and the whole idol world in which he actually lives and moves in real life, if you can call the idol lifestyle real life.

The ending was a tad weak, but it wasn’t awful, and over-all, I really enjoyed this series and thought it was a great romantic comedy for grown ups, as opposed to the school dramas which seem to be heavily represented in my list.

*****Stars Falling from the Sky or Pick the Stars: LOVE this.  Totally in my top 10.  I have a long review here.  Six kids,, the oldest being a 25 year old big sister who is now responsible for the care and feeding of her five younger (adopted) siblings.  The five younger kids are adorable and range in age from a baby to a boy about 12.  Big Sis is broke, has been foolish and irresponsible but is now trying to do right with now skills and loads of bad habits.  Love this family, love the highjinks. There’s a sideplot involving villains that is tired and not of much interest, but the kids make it all worthwhile.

Glove– a movie, rather than a t.v. series, based on the true story of a baseball team at a school for the deaf and the down on his luck, ill tempered baseball player who coaches them.  I reviewed this here, and I highly recommend it.

Panda and Hedgehog– Charming candyfloss, sweetness, light, lots of cute, and some serious stuff about family, love, support, and sibling adoration.  I LOVE the sibling interactions here.  There are a couple of scenes I could totally do without, and one of the worst offenders also made no sense in terms of the plot- it’s like they meant to do more with it but forgot it was there. There were other things I did not love, but overall, this was a sweet, happy making show.

The general idea is that Panda (a pun for her name) owns a failing bakeshop and cafe. Hedgehog (a pun on his name) is an unbelievably skilled pastry maker who comes to her rescue.  He is supposed to be prickly and harsh, and he can be, but mostly I couldn’t buy the prickly part, he is just too sweet.  Maybe if I understand his use of banmal more, I would have thought otherwise.  He has a prison record and it’s kind of a scary one, and he’s lived a very rough life, although he’s been clean and straight for the last five years.  Panda’s old friend Won Il is the heir to a huge and glamorous bakery chain, and he’s come back to Korea after nearly 15 years in the States. He needs to wrest control of his family’s bakery from his evil Step-baddy.  He also loves Panda.

Other characters include the adorably gruff and kind grandfather, the taxi driving aunt, various siblings and friends, the weak but willing to overlook crimes wife to evil Step-Baddy (and the mother of Won Il and his roguishly tomboyish little sis).  Other plots include a missing child, a jailed mother, a detective, embezzlement, and even child abuse, but the Show manages to tell most of these with a light and uplifting hand.

ALL the sibling relationships and the Grandpapa and grandson are my favorite parts of this show.

Operation Proposal, reviewed here.

Extravagant Challenge/Skip Beat!- This is a Taiwanese drama, but I found it because it had two Korean actors who are in two of my other favorite dramas (Donghae from Panda and Hedgehog, and Si Won from King of Dramas and Oh, My Lady, both of whom are in the boy band Suer Junior).  It’s based on a Japanese comic book (lots of dramas I’ve liked are).  It’s kind of quirky and strange with a ridiculous premise but lots of heart and charm.

Gong Shi, the main character, played by Ivy Chen, has always loved Shan, whom she grew up with. He runs away from home to become a famous musician and takes her with him. After three or four years of working three jobs to support him and keeping herself and their connections a secret, she discovers he only thinks of her as his housekeeper and has other girlfriends. In spite of the fact that she lived with Shan for three years or so, she’s never been kissed, and I take it we are supposed to understand that it was more of a room-mate situation.  Gong Shi vows to become a famous star herself and get revenge on him.

The main character has some cute little ghosts or demon selves (that sounds worse than it really is), they help her persuade people to her way of thinking sometimes. She can outpace a train on her bike, which also comes when she whistles.  She unleashed the little ghosty creatures from within herself when she was in such a rage over Shan’s betrayal.

However, what happens in her fight to revenge herself on Shan is that she learns about herself, about life and love, about doing a good job, about dedication and consideration for others, and about acting.

There is a love interest, but there is not a conclusive ending wrapped up in a tidy bow. I usually like the tidy bow, but I was fine with this somewhat open-ended final, because it fit well with all the characters, and fit in particularly nicely with the concerns expressed by Si Won’s character.

SiWon’s character has a manager who is the nicest guy ever, and the actor playing him did a great job.

****What’s Up :  Another performing arts school story, but a little darker than Dream High.  I really enjoyed it.  Reviewed here.

Creating Destiny:  romantic comedy with some of the most adorable couple chemistry ever, and this couple actually got married in real life.  Reviewed here.

School 2013:   It’s another high school based drama, darker than Master of Study, grittier, with kids who have real problems, and where the fights are brutal bullying, not cooly choreographed martial arts scenes.  I really enjoy the way the backgrounds of the kids and the second teacher are peeled back episode by episode, like layers of an onion.  At the end of the season, I experienced a rarity in K-dramas for me, it ended too quickly.  I wanted extensions, and lots of them. I wanted to follow these kids at least through to the end of high school.  Love this drama.  Loaded with heart and bromance, and no caveats beyond the usual (some language).

Master of Study: another school drama, reviewed at the link.

It’s Okay, Daddy’s Girl: Reviewed at the link.  I like it, but it’s not in the top ten.  Written by the same team as Panda and Hedgehog with several of the same actors and many of the same things I love (notably warm sibling relationships and lots of cute).

71:Into the Fire– a movie rather than a drama, and it’s heart-breaking.  Based on a true story, fabulously well done, gripping heroic story of some of the student soldiers of the Korean War.  Reviewed at the link.  Would be in the top 10, but I don’t put movies that break my heart in the top 10.  I am the mother of a 14 year old boy, the mother-in-law of a veteran of the Iraq War who enlisted at 18 (I babysat him at 13), the wife of a veteran. This is about boy-soldiers, high school students defending their country in the midst of the Korean War.  I will never forget it, but I can’t watch it a second time. I can even talk about it out loud.  I will have my 14 year old boy watch it- it’s ‘clean’ as far as war movies go- I mean, as clean as you can make a war movie that is still about war, which is after all, a very bloody business.

**********Greatest Love with Cha Seung-Won- reviewed it here.  Love it.  Definitely in my top ten, probably my second favorite rom-com in K-drama land.

K-Drama Addict Flower Boy Next Door: Reviewed here.

Werewolf Boy: I loved this movie. If you liked Edward Scissorshands you should love this one, too. If you would have liked ES, but the scissors kind of freaked you out, you’ll like this one.  I don’t want to give spoilers, but if you would avoid this one because you don’t do supernatural stuff, it’s okay.  The werewolf boy is not that kind of werewolf.   Reviewed here.

1% of Anything: I liked it, but it’s not where you should start if you are new to K-Dramas. Reviewed here.

Gourmet: 24 episodes.  The romance is there and it’s cute, but not really strong.

The main character: Korean Food- featured in every episode, in detail with close up shots, mood music, and descriptions that will have you licking your lips and wishing for some Korean food. It will make your mouth water even when you have no idea how it tastes. In fact, in some cases it makes you drool and have a craving for a nibble even when you do know exactly how something tastes because you ate it in Korea and you also know you don’t have the palate to appreciate it, but it still looks so good on screen and the descriptions are so tantalizing that you want to try it again just in case you were wrong and that little incident about setting your tongue on fire and melting your tonsils so you couldn’t taste anything else for a week was just a silly misunderstanding between you and the spicy chili paste.  Also stars Kim Rae Won who really made the emotional connection for viewers in this show.    Reviewed here.

My Love  Patzzi : Patzzi is the name of the mean sister in a Korean folk tale similar in some ways to the Cinderella tale.  Only ten episodes, light rom-com with a kind of silly but fun ending.  Mostly squeaky clean except for one very regrettable scene in the first episode.  I also really like Kim Rae Won as an actor, or maybe he just chooses roles that are well suited to him. He does the genial, warm, friendly, bumbling but kind-hearted thing really well.  Reviewed here.

DreamReviewed here.  Ostensibly a boxing show, really about family, friends, loyalty, honor, and success.  Also, Bromance!  Lots of bromance. Kim Bum and Joo Jin Mo own the screen in every one of their scenes, and whenever they are together, the bromance just snap, crackles, and pops.  There’s a very sweet hyung/dongsaeng connection developing between them.  Jang Seok is adorably insolent and cheeky and Nam Jae Il responds with a totally believable older brotherly mix of a cold and gruff ‘mind your manners’ exterior at war with the fact that he’s actually mostly amused and charmed by the younger boy’s antics, while at other times warmly compassionate and protective over the rough hand that life has dealt the motherless boy.  Beefcake abounds, too, so if you are offended by scenes of shirtless males, you should omit this one.

The Righteous Thief– a movie, so it’s only about a 2 hour commitment.  Rom-Com, very, very funny.  By day our main characters are an ordinary family of housewife mom, college prof dad, high school music teacher son, and high school student son. By night, they are James Bond figures, direct descendants of Hong Gil Dong (Korea’s Robin Hood) who rob from the rich to give to the poor= except the high school student, who isn’t allowed in the family business because he’s too young.   The family is adorable together.  The high school music teacher is in love with another teacher, whose brother happens to be a prosecutor who believes Javert was the hero of Les Miserables.  There’s a wonderfully over the top  villain.  Strider’s family, the Boy, Jenny, and my husband watched this one with me, and they were all laughing at all the right moments.  Three caveats- I can only find it at Viki.com and the English subs include some really awful language, including a number of f-bombs.  Girlfriend is seriously into passionate kissing.  She makes one blunt reference to the, er, intimate relationship she’s had with the oldest son.  These are fixable with some good previewing and some tedious attention to detail (turn the subs off during the swearing and her reference to the physical aspect of their relationship, ffwd the kissing if you desire, although the first of those is also one of the funniest scenes in the movie).

**** (this would be in top 10 if I were likely to stick tear jerkers in my top 10): Scent of a Woman– this is a PG-13 with some smoldering hot tangos and issues with getting the wedding and bedding in the wrong order, but, oh, my stars and garters.  Whew.   It’s also outside the norm for the types of dramas I normally like. I don’t like tear-jerkers. I like ridiculously happy and unlikely smiley faced endings, tied in a lovely bow. Nevertheless, I liked this even though I needed a full box of tissues and some Gator-ade to replenish my body salts after I cried so much that basically my skin turned to leather and my blood was reduced to dehydrated dust. But this, this was fairly incredible. The acting was outstanding, right down to the minor detail that Korean characters using English were actually using English with skill.
It’s visually lovely as well, and it takes you to areas like Korea’s Wando Island, and Japan’s Okinawa and Hondo islands.

The first episode was draggy, and the whole show had far too much time given to the nasty chaebol daughter/would-be-girlfriend and the nasty chaebol fathers on both sides. There is the incredibly annoying noble idiot theme, which I really, really, really hate. and  the last bit of the final episode was a tad weak, but I was okay with that.

But for the rest- well scripted, well acted, well directed, and genuinely funny and darling in many scenes. It really is a combo of comedy, wonderful love story, and messily sobbing heart-break. If you like movies like Walk to Remember, you’ll probably love this.
There is more than one cancer patient, but that’s no coincidence since one of the male leads is a cancer doctor and he meets the female lead (again, they were friends in grade school) in the hospital when she’s being checked out after a car accident and the scans show a suspicious mass, which is raising enough red flags to call in the oncologist.
The female lead begins the show as an employee of a large tour company. The main male lead is the son of the owner and one of the major CEOs, newly appointed. They begin to fall in love after she has already been diagnosed with cancer, but she doesn’t tell him about the cancer because she doesn’t think things will really go anywhere.  There is growth, change, and development in all of the characters who matter (annoying chaebol sorts just didn’t matter to me).  Note: the blogger at Yarns and Storys also reviewed this one.

Daddy!  Where Are We Going? – Yummy, delightful, fun, charming, heartwarming, unique, and loaded with real life cuteness- This is a ‘reality’ show- a genre I usually hate.  But it’s kind of like what you’d get if Kids Say the Darndest Things married the Korean show 1 Night 2 Days and they had beautiful babies.  Only way cuter than whatever it is you are imagining.  Review here.

 

That Winter the Wind Blows– If I read only the description, I never would have watched this one, but I read a recap that was soaring in its praise, so I took a chance.  Click on the title to read my review.

Because I get asked about it often, I finally did a sort of review of Boys Over Flowers (or Boys Before Flowers) with Lee Min Ho.  You can read it here.

Ad Genius Lee Tae Baek; Rom com, understated, no fireworks, but I thought it was really, really sweet and I loved the warmth between the two romantic leads and the way their connection grew out of shared values and friendship. Squeaky clean.  Review here.

Detective K: Secret Of Virtuous Widow: a movie rather than a drama, with some interesting Christian themes. Reviewed  here.

Nine Times Time Travel- time travel series with an interesting premise and trick to the time traveling. Big adrenaline rush, love this actor. But there are some caveats, see what they are here.

Prosecutor Princess– much sweeter and cuter than I expected, and not nearly as shallow as I presumed it would be.  I liked this- but it is pretty much totally a chick-flick.  Reviewed here.

Dating Agency Cyrano– rom-com sort of like Hitch on steroids, maybe not quite so funny as Will Smith, but cleaner and lots more cutesy stuff. It’s a show based on a Korean movie with a similar or the same title, which I also enjoyed. The premise is that a dating agency based in an old theater and staffed by people with connections to theatre (most of them) works by secretly setting up scenarios designed to appeal to the object of one’s affections and sort of drive said object into one’s arms. It’s cute and pretty funny, with a little bit of a mystery edge.  The main character is one of the dads in Appa! Eodiga?, a show I love.  Here he plays a slightly coldhearted, very brilliant tactician always three steps ahead of everybody else (his nickname or pseudonym, Seo Il Rok,  is a play on Sherlock in Korean).  Cute and clean with some angsty, mysterious stuff.  Also part of the flower-boy set, so, again, lots and lots of pretty.

Charming.  Total chick flick, clean, sweet, funny- a strange to American tastes but typical for K-dramas  diversion from mostly cute and funny into fortunately brief but strange psycho territory, and the ending wasn’t totally unpredictable but it did have a cute twist.

accidental couple ears barbershopAccidental Couple: Contract marriage, forced proximity, rom-com- loved it.  THis is probably the best of the contract marriage/forced proximity genre.  Full review at the link.  Totally, delightfully, Adorkable.

Review at the link.

Monstar– cute, teen romance, lots of gorgeous music.  Almost all of the main actors are singers (the main character plays a teen idol in a boy band, and he actually is a teen idol in a boy band, but surprisingly, he can really act).  Watched it with my 17 year old.

Review at the link.

Kang Chi gumiho meets selfGu Family Book:  Set in olden days Korea, features a man who, unbeknownst to himself, is actually half human, half divine creature of some sort (his father is a gumiho, a guardian of the forest).   Very funny, lots of action, sword fights, martial arts, ninja stuff, lots of cute. I find the ending somewhat dissatisfactory, but to explain why is a spoiler.  I would watch this with my kids with a couple caveats.

Protect the Boss– Rom Com, seems cliched but it is not entirely- some of it is poking fun at those cliches. Review at the link.

 

49 Days: I’m not going to write a longer review- this was very well done, good writing, good acting, good story telling. Romance with many comedic moments, suspense, drama, and some heart-ache.  I cried buckets. It’s a great movie show for when you need a good therapeutic sob-fest.  I watched it mainly because of the description of Jung Il Woo’s character (you might have seen him in Iljamae or Flower Boy Ramyun Shop) as a sassy, hip, Angel of Death who prefers to be known as The Scheduler, and he was everything I hoped for more besides, and so were his co-workers.  I take issue with one very contrived plot point, and the basic theology is reincarnation centered, and, you know, I hate to be made to cry and then cry again, but I never felt like I was being manipulated.  Otherwise, yes. Oh, yes.  Also, very, very clean.   It’s hard to discuss this without spoilers.  I liked this one a lot, though, even though it broke my heart in surprising ways (I love it for the surprises).

Ugly Alert: I loved this longer, family drama series. I loved the strong, yet still feminine, women characters- all of them (except one). I loved the central love story, and I loved the family connections between siblings who had no blood bond.  I loved the acting.

Oh, My Lady– Oh, my goodness, I loved this.  SO CUTE!   Idol star discovers he had an child five years ago. He learns this when the mother deposits the child at his doorstep, by taxi cab, and flees, and his (divorced) housekeeper takes the child to the apartment without realizing it’s a secret love-child.  More at the link.

Master’s Sun: The ending was  so so, but the rest was riveting, and the acting was incredible (by both parties).  A ghost story and a rom-com.

Who Are You?-2013 with Taecyeon, and an actress who doesn’t bring a lot to the screen, and Kim Jae-Wook, who, oh, my stars and garters, made me sob and broke my heart without saying a single word.  He is good.  Another ghost story.

Who Are You? (누구세요), 2008 (this is not the 2013 Who Are You ghost story starring Taecyeon, which has this transliterated English title in Hangul:후아유) Starring Yoon Kye Sang and Go Ah Ra Yoon Kye Sang is the second male lead in Greatest Love (which I loved), and the younger brother in My 19 Year Old.  Review at the link. Like 49 days, involves body swapping and 49 days for the soul to take care of things on earth.

Dad, Where Are You Going?– Chinese version of the variety show, five dads, five kids, exponential amounts of adorable.

 

***** You Who Came From the Stars- 10 out of 10 stars. I loved this.  Review here.

God’s Gift- 14 Days: Kelly, Badgermum, reviewed this one on her blog.

Just You- a sweet TW drama (Taiwanese) is reviewed here.

The Prime Minister is Dating– 10 0ut of 10 stars for the first 3/4 of the show, 6 out of 10 for the rest.

 Let’s Eat:  Loved this lightweight rom-com with the emphasis on Korean food.  Yum. Review at the link.

You’re Surrounded (Lee Seung-gi, who was the prince/king in my favorite King2Hearts, and the lead in My Girlfriend is a Gumiho and Gu Family Book, and Cha Seung Won!!!  He was the lead in my other favorite Greatest Love, the N. Korean general in Into the Fire, and he has a long line of other credits; Go Ara, from Answer me 1994; and the actor who played the little brother in You From Another Star)-  A group of cops, four newbies and their chief, played by Cha Seung Won.  Lee Seung-gi became a cop to find out who is behind the murder of his mother, which orphaned him as a child.  So much fun.

Big Man: Kang Ji Hwan- I love him.  He cracks me up.  He was the lead in Incarnation of Money, Coffee House, Hong Gil Dong, and plenty of others.   In this story he plays an orphan who had some experience as a gangster, but cleaned up his act.  A scheming chaebol family needs a heart transplant for their son, discover he’s a good match, and they have him conked on the head and hospitalized, where they put him on their family registry as their long-lost son- this is because if he is a family member, they can jump to the head of the line in heart transplants. They drug him with some concoction which should certify him as brain dead, but it turns out this street rat is not that easy to kill.  They intend to quietly remove him from the family registry and just go find a donor in China- but what with one thing and another they lose control of the charade and now have to pretend to accept him as their son.  According to the drama write up, at some point he will discover he is not their son, and he’ll learn why they really wanted him, and they will regret ever messing with him. Great cast, the story got weak at the knees toward the end, but the acting was strong all the way through.

 

Triangle- (Lee Bum Sook, the Prime Minister in the Prime Minister and I, JaeJoong of the K-Pop group JYJ and the lead in Protect the Boss and the movie Heaven’s Postman and Jackal is Coming, also in Dr. Jinn; Im Siwan of a famous idol boy band)-  Three brothers were separated as children and have lost all contact with each other- they may not even know the other two are alive.  One is a cop, one a low level gangster, and one was adopted by a wealthy family.  They are all a bit of a mess with various issues stemming from their losses and separation.  This story so far combines a zany mix of crazy humour, deep pathos, and melodrama.  Also, JaeJoong spends a lot of time in one episode running around in nothing but a pair of red boxer shorts with a Chinese dragon imprinted on them.

I enjoyed it all the way through because the actors playing the 3 brothers continued to hit it out of the park, but honestly, the plot got boring and repetitive, and the end was weird- there was this huge climax at the beginning of the last episode, and then the rest of the episode was jarring epilogue.  Even when I enjoyed it, I still had half my mind on the early climax.

I’ve mentioned before how the Korean style of shooting dramas seriously influences the way some of them turn out, and this is one of those cases.  Triangle got an extension of two episodes, but some of the actors already had commitments, and that actually changed the storyline.

Here’s JaeJoong in an interview (spoiler alert!):

“The drama has ended and I know I can speak up about it now, but honestly, Jang Dong Chul’s death was certain. He was supposed to die at the airport on the way to attend the Hold ‘Em Championships. However, the drama was extended by two episodes, so the ending changed. Im Siwan had other filming schedules and could only attend the filming of one extended episode, so that is why his character Jang Dong Woo died instead.”

Kim Jaejoong further explains, “Oh Yeon Soo, who plays Hwang Shin Hye, had to go to the U.S. for personal family matters, so we weren’t able to film together at the end. Lee Bum Soo and I had time, so we were together until the very last episode.”

The Huntresses:  Movie rather than a drama. I loved this.  JennyAnyDots watched it with me and she thought it was cute, too.  It is that uniquely Asian mix of hilarious hijinx and deep pathos. I’ll give you a spoiler that I would want- it ends on a fun, upbeat note.  The basic story is that the “huntresses’ are bounty hunters, three girls highly trained in martial arts and various tools of warfare, one of them also with a bent for science and inventing things.  It’s a sort of fusion sageuk, in American terms, a little brush of steampunk now and again, with some highly entertaining kung-fu mojo and ju-ju (love the yo-yos of death).  The three young women are played by Ha Ji-won, Kang Ye-won and Son Ga-in .  Ha Ji-Won is one of my favorite actresses.  She was the North Korean girl in King2Hearts and the female lead in Secret Garden.  I haven’t seen Kang Ye-won in anything else, but she was great here.  Son Ga-in is better known as a singer in the K-pop girl group Brown-Eyed Girls.  That surprised me- I hadn’t seen her before and I looked her up after the movie and was suprised that she was a singer rather than an actress.  She was adorable and feisty in her role.

Caveats- very, very few.   The translated subtitles often translated various Korean slang words as the name of a deity and I don’t think that was always accurate. There’s one hot kiss scene, one scene where a man who can’t believe he’s been bested by a girl grabs her breastplate to convince himself she’s really a man, one scene where a thug mistakes her role and calls Ha Ji-Won’s character an, um, lady of the night but he is cruder (he regrets it about two seconds later), and one longish bellydancing scene.  Probably the belly dancing scene is the one I’d be likely to skip.

There is a lot of violence and bloodshed, but most of the violence is fun, cool, and campy- Ha Ji-Won wading through a dozen or more soldiers, mowing them down with her two swords which remain pristinely spotless (as does her cool white costume) through the whole scene is just fun to watch.

 

Trot-Lovers– The story is every K-drama rom-com- poor girl meets rich snot of a boy who treats her rudely, there are misunderstandings, they get thrown together, fall in love, meet obstacles, etc. Trot is a style of Korean music that I find similar in style and feel to the early 20th century, mostly WW2 era songs like Sentimental Journey, Shoo-fly Pie, etc.  I like it.  So I enjoy the songs.  Eun-ji of APink has a gorgeous voice, and she’s an adorable little actress. In this drama she is raising her little sister who is another adorable, much littler actress, and her character and the main lead’s are perfectly adorable together.  Lots of adorable, fun music, little substance. IOW, Perfect.

Marriage, Not Dating: I am loving this one so much, although elements are a bit more risque than my usual k-drama fare.

Gong Ki-tae is a successful plastic surgeon of marriageable age, but he hates the idea of marriage for good and sufficient reasons and wants to live alone forever.  His mother owns the apartment he lives in and loves and generally runs everyone and everything around her with a smile and a velvet glove over the iron fist.  They are in a battle of wits where the goal is not just to get their own way, but to get the other to concede.  Mom (who is an amazing actress, i have loved her in every drama she’s been in) wants him to get married to the girl of her choice, and soon, or move out of the apartment and come live at home.  Ki-tae wants to bring home a girl Mom can’t approve of and have Mom actually say, “No, I don’t approve of her.”

Toward that end, he’s talked his best friend’s ex girlfriend into playing the part of the girl no mother could love for him.

That girl is Jang-Mi, played by the absolutely adorable and excellent at comedy Han Groo.  Jang Mi is the total opposite of Ki-tae, she is warm, affectionate, goes out of her way to help others with no expectation of receiving something in return, and she’s terrified of being alone.

Other characters include Ki-Tae’s cheating dad, spying aunt, and dark horse Grandma; Jang-Mi’s ex boyfriend, who dumped her cruelly but now wants her back, Jang-Mi’s co-worker who has a crush on the ex boyfriend, Han Yeo-reum (jeong jin woon, the macknae of the boy band 2 a.m.) a young aspiring chef who is something of a player and now finds himself falling for Jang-Mi, and Kang Se-Ah, Ki-Tae’s ex-fiance, who now wants him for his sperm and is willing to blackmail him to get it. Yuk.

There are sad (and in the case of Se Ah, disturbing) elements, but mostly, this is funny and touching, as the main pair keep trying to end their fake relationship and go their separate ways but keep getting drawn back into it and all manner of hi-jinks  follow.  But again- much more risque than the ones I usually preview.  Nothing much compared to American standards, but if we liked American standards many of us wouldn’t be watching K-dramas, now, would we?

 

High School King of Savvy– high school student looks just like his older brother, ergo, older brother gets in a pickle of some sort with his new job (we don’t know what until later), and asks dongsaeng to pretend to be hyung at the office.  I love the main actor a lot (Seo In-guk).  It was cute, funny, with the right touch of pathos, but then the plot was also weird and confusing at times. The Grandpa is adorable. The love story was annoying to me (I really dislike wide age gaps and underage/ten years older pairings, even when it’s reversed).

Fated to Love You-  This is a Korean remake of the TW version.  I loved it, but it begins with the premise that two strangers accidentally end up in the same room at a resort, both have been sort of drugged with a home-made island remedy for, er, certain marital problems (one by mistake, one on purpose, but the neer do wells are comic relief and it really comes across that way), and, um, create a situation where they need to get married. Once you get past that, it’s cute, really cute.  All the actors hit the right beats. There’s some really sad stuff,  Spoiler, because some of us really need to know this stuff in advance, but I’ll put it in white, so highlight the text here—-> There is a miscarriage, and it’s pretty traumatic.

The Huntresses: a movie rather than a drama, sageok-fusion (that is, historical drama with totally anachronistic stuff mixed in).  The three main characters are female bounty hunters.  A mix of comedy and a touch of heartache and lots of fun,  over the top,  martial arts and steampunky inventions with occasional gory bloodshed.  I thought this was mostly great fun.  Jenny watched it with me, and she laughed in all the right places.   I vaguely recall that as we watched it, there were two scenes where I said “oops, I forgot that was there,” but I’ve already forgotten again.  I think one was an innuendo and one was a rather kissier than strictly necessary kiss, but don’t count on me for remembering that accurately.

Trot-Lovers– The story is every K-drama rom-com you have ever seen- poor girl meets rich snot of a boy who treats her rudely, there are misunderstandings, they get thrown together, fall in love, meet obstacles, etc. Trot is a style of Korean music that I find similar in style and feel to the early 20th century, mostly WW2 era songs like Sentimental Journey, Shoo-fly Pie, etc.  I like it.  So I enjoy the songs.   The setting is a music company full of K-Pop idols and trainees, so lots of opportunities for music.  Eun-ji of APink has a gorgeous voice, and she’s an adorable little actress. In this drama she is raising her little sister who is another adorable, much littler actress, and her character and the main leads are perfectly adorable together.  Lots of adorable, fun music, little substance. IOW, Perfect.

Marriage, Not Dating: I enjoyed this one so much, although elements are a bit more risque than my usual k-drama fare. I probably wouldn’t watch it with my teens, even if they’d be willing to watch a K-drama with me, which they aren’t.

Gong Ki-tae is a successful plastic surgeon of marriageable age, but he hates the idea of marriage for good and sufficient reasons and wants to live alone forever.  His mother owns the apartment he lives in and loves and generally runs everyone and everything around her with a smile and a velvet glove over the iron fist.  They are in a battle of wits where the goal is not just to get their own way, but to get the other to concede.  Mom (who is an amazing actress, i have loved her in every drama she’s been in) wants him to get married to the girl of her choice, and soon, or move out of the apartment and come live at home.  Ki-tae wants to bring home a girl Mom can’t approve of and have Mom actually say, “No, I don’t approve of her,” and then he can say, “Well, it’s her or nobody,” and Mom will be so horrified she will say, “Remain a bachelor forever, that’s preferable,” and he will say, “fine. I will.”

Toward that end, he’s talked his best friend’s ex girlfriend into playing the part of the girl no mother could love for him.

That girl is Jang-Mi, played by the absolutely adorable and excellent at comedy Han Groo.  Jang Mi is the total opposite of Ki-tae, she is warm, affectionate, goes out of her way to help others with no expectation of receiving something in return, ridiculously impulsive, and she’s terrified of being alone.

Other characters include Ki-Tae’s cheating dad, spying aunt, and dark horse Grandma; Jang-Mi’s ex boyfriend, who dumped her cruelly but now wants her back, Jang-Mi’s co-worker who has a crush on the ex boyfriend, Han Yeo-reum (Jeong jin woon, the macknae of the boy band 2 a.m.) a young aspiring chef who is something of a player and now finds himself falling for Jang-Mi, and Kang Se-Ah, Ki-Tae’s ex-fiance, who now wants him for his sperm and is willing to blackmail him to get it. Yuk.  That was about the weirdest, most annoying twist ever.

There are sad (and in the case of Se Ah, disturbing) elements, but mostly, this is funny and touching, as the main pair keep trying to end their fake relationship and go their separate ways but keep getting drawn back into it and all manner of hi-jinks  follow.

City Hall- this is an older rom-com starring Cha Seung Won (just google him. He’s amazing) and Kim Sun Ah (My Lovely Sam Soon; Scent of a Woman; I Do, I Do).  She’s a low ranking employee at the mayor’s office, he’s an ambitious politician currently stuck as deputy mayor but with much bigger aspirations. She ends up forcing the mayor to resign due to corruption, and then runs for mayor herself and wins.

It’s hard to peg this one- it’s not just a rom-com.  It’s a slice of life, a political fairy tale, a morality tale with strong plot and characters, and a beautiful, complicated romance. Elements of it remind me very much of some British shows- Doc. Martin, Stephen Fry’s Kingdom, for instance.

High School King of Savvy–  So funny, and it’s even a noona romance, which I generally don’t much care for.  Seo In-guk (Answer Me, 1994; Dream High; My Rascal Sons) – is a high school student who looks just like his older brother (also played by Seo In-guk).  Hyung has been in Germany, has run into some trouble while he’s supposed to be starting a new job in Korea in their hometown, so he convinces his little bro to pretend to be him until he can extricate himself and come to his new job.   Lee Ha-na, Lee Soo-hyuk and Lee Yeol-eum are also in it.  I liked this- there are a couple off colour moments, and hyung’s issues don’t really make that much sense.  But Seo In Guk sells everything he does.

Fated to Love You-  This is a remake of a Thai Drama.  The Thai drama was something like a 100 episodes, and there was a lot more going on.  The Korean version is only about 16, so they tightened it up immensely, and also made the lead far more likable.    The premise to both is the same, and it’s a bit of a doozy- there is a one night stand between two otherwise moral and upstanding citizens because of reasons, as well as a case of mistaken identity.  It’s not totally plausible, but if we cared about total plausibility would we be K-drama fans? No, we would not.  So, go with it.   Naturally, since this is a drama, she gets pregnant, and they get married.  I liked both versions, and think whether one or the other is better depends a lot on what it is you want from a drama, with my thumb leaning a bit on the K-version scales for this one.

K-Drama It's Okay That's Love The Camel Remembers downsizedIt’s Okay, That’s Love: Okay, this one is REALLY different from my usual fare, and the cover image for the show (a pair of apparently unclad people in a bathtub under a blanket) will really throw my usual readers.  I don’t know what to tell you.  It does deal with the topic of sex more than the usual drama. There is a girl in a towel in at least one scene.  But there is far more to this than meets the eye- that cover, for example, six episodes into the show, the bathtub scene (which I don’t think even happens in the show, unless I dozed off)  means something COMPLETELY different than you expect.

The show deals with head-doctors and various mental health issues, and I think it’s brilliant and insightful and lovely.  The main character is dealing with the trauma of some horrifically brutal child abuse from his step-father and older brother, and his insights and comments about it just make me fall in love with the writer of this drama.  She’s brilliant.  Now, it is full of triggers of all kinds of things, as there is a different mental health issue each week (at least one,s ometimes more, and several of them have to do with sexual issues).   I had to skip watching one or two sections completely and just go with re-caps.  But I love, love, love, love this one.

Also, the soundtrack is simply brilliant.  If you read anything about the show anywhere, almost immediately somebody will mention the soundtrack.  Keep your eyes on this post, as the writer here is updating the soundtrack regularly.  I skipped a couple of songs because I don’t like them, or I do like them but found them inappropriate, but by and large, I just love this.  I don’t know how many other ways to say this.

All the actors are brilliant, and include two of my favourites, Jo In-sung and  Gong Hyo-jin, as well as the delicious evil ajusshi from Appa, Eodiga, Sung Dong-il, giraffe from that famous Korean game show that the title of escapes me just now-Lee Kwang-soo-  and Do Kyung-soo.

The ending is a trifle unrealistic but I was perfectly fine with that.

Pinocchio– The Pinocchio of the drama is a syndrome, not a puppet. It’s a made up syndrome for the purposes of the drama.  Those with it cannot lie or they start hiccuping until they tell the truth. Using that vehicle, the drama has a lot to say about the media, honest reporting vs emotional punch reporting, ethics in journalism, and, of course, there’s pathos and romance.  It kind of broke my heart and horrified me for a bit.  That part was never satisfactorily resolved to my mind, but over all, I enjoyed this.

 

 

 

 

Shows I am currently watching but haven’t finished yet are described here.

You might also enjoy:

Dramas I’ve completed, recommend, and reviewed: see here.

K-Dramas I almost liked– most of these are just darker than I usually prefer. Some are just flawed.  If you’re looking to see what I thought about a K-drama and you don’t see it on this post, you just might find it here.fa

Things to know when watching a K-drama

More Things To Know

Addiction, and why I like K-dramas

You might be watching a K-Drama if….

Where to get your fix: Sites where you can find subtitled K-dramas (and dramas from other countries, as well.

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46 Comments

  1. harmonyl
    Posted November 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    You already know my favorite dramas, but fir the benefit of others I’m going to list them here.

    Of the ones you mentioned, my favorites are:
    *King 2 Hearts – The Best for all the reasons you mentioned. Anyone interested in Korean dramas MUST watch this.
    *Full House
    *Secret Garden
    *City Hunter
    *You’re Beautiful

    Others I loved:
    *Golden Bride (not available on the sites you mentioned, unfortunately) – good social commentary on Koreans views of half Koreans (which obviously interests me), and it doesn’t hurt that the lead male and his family are so nice to his half Korean wife. Also, unlike most Korean dramas which are about the lead-up to marriage, this drama is about the marriage itself. A quarter of the way into the drama or so, the leads are married and in love.

    *Tree With Deep Roots – Combination mystery thriller, action, romance, and historical. Set in one of the most important time periods of Korean history, when King Sejong the Great is about to release the Korean alphabet. It’s probably more interesting to me, since I have studied the language. But it’s still pretty interesting.

    *Dong-Yi – Historical drama loosely based on a real life commoner who rose to become the concubine of the king and the mother of the future king. The main caveat is just that – Korean palace life involves kings married to more than one woman. But it’s a sweet story and, I think, very tastefully done.

    *Family’s Honor – A good look at new money families in Korea vs the old traditional families.

    *Goong/Princess Hours – This one is very cute, in a teeny bopper kind of way. It’s based off a Korean comic book, and it definitely has that feel. I absolutely loved it. It’s a cinderella story where the lead female was betrothed at birth to the crown prince, but she’s not at all what the royal family was looking for in a princess.

    *Playful Kiss – This one is based off a Japanese manga, one of the most popular ones of all time. the drama completely bombed in Korea, but has a crazy fan following outside the country. It’s another teen drama, so avoid those if teenage angst makes your skin crawl. :-) I’m somewhat ashamed to say that I like a fun teenage romantic comedy every now and then….

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted November 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      I have most of the ones you mention in my queue to watch later. Speaking of teenage angst- I’m almost done with Heartstrings, and I am loving it for all those reasons you mention even while being slightly embarrassed. Shin is like the best boyfriend ever, and this couple is also very cute. The lead actor is weak as an actor, but he’s obviously learning and growing in his craft- you can watch him improve as the show goes on.
      Unfortunately, I think in the second to last episode we have the drama trope that I probably hate above all others, and that is when a love interest plays Noble Stupidhead, unfortunately.

      Updated to add: I just finished the last episode of Heartstrings/I’ve Fallen For You, and he does play Noble Stupidhead, but he does it for a better reason than most of the shows I’ve seen. It’s not really a case where telling her the truth would resolve the issue, because she’s guessed the truth and wants to play Noble Stupidhead, too, and she has more to lose than he does. He’s pre-empting her N.S. act. So I like the ending better than I thought, although it’s still probably my least favorite drama trope and it still could have been handled a little better since he continues to be a Noble Stupidhead for way too long. This is very family friendly, too. It’s a very sweet, innocent chickflick show about fame, art, doing your best, love, growing up. It’s not earth shattering, but it’s cute, fun, and really clean. The music is also lot of fun (all the characters are involved in performance arts, either as students at an arts centered university, professors, or family members in the business in some form or other).

      Have you watched it, Harmony?

    • Mari13ssa
      Posted April 21, 2014 at 12:04 am | Permalink

      Have you seen My Princess it was my first ever drama I really liked it, I also Love all the ones you mentioned, some other ones I like are Lie To Me, Wedding Scheme and one I recently watched and really loved was A Gentleman’s Dignity :) the OST is amazing I ordered it as soon as I finished the drama.

      • Headmistress, zookeeper
        Posted April 21, 2014 at 12:38 am | Permalink

        I have seen My Princess. It was very sweet and funny.
        I enjoyed most of Lie to Me and Gentleman’s Dignity. I haven’t see Wedding Scheme. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Posted November 7, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    So glad you posted these. When I was a teenager, my dad was stationed in Korea and when my much younger brother when down for quiet time, my mom and I would take a break too and watch our favorites (I have no idea what their names are unfortunately). My mom always joked that it was part of my cultural education – homeschoolers can make anything “school,” right?

  3. JunkMale
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    In general, you can tell formal speech if you hear lots of “yo” and “da” syllables. You can probably also tell by body language as well.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted January 21, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

      I can’t tell by body language, at least not most of the time. I think you have to have more familiarity with the culture for the body language to be obvious.

  4. Posted November 21, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I. Love. You.

    I am moving back to the Midwest next month and the one thing I was truly lamenting about leaving CA was my Korean dramas! I watch them on tv every time one I really like airs on KBS. I don’t watch with my teens (yet), so I haven’t had to subject myself to a lot of the teen-y romances. I watch the more family-oriented dramas. Two of my faves are “He Who Can’t Marry” and “My Husband Got a Family”. Korean dramas are my “me time” and I require utter silence when I watch. Bless you for turning me on to viki.com. Seriously. Bless you!

    (And, I don’t know what type of leading man you like to look at, since I’ve not watched any of the shows you listed above, but the lead guy in “He Who Can’t Marry” is my type in so many ways! I even love his Aspie personality.)

  5. Headmistress, zookeeper
    Posted November 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    I’m watching He Who Can’t Marry right now- only on the second episode, but it is making me laugh. I like this one a lot so far. Thanks for mentioning it.

  6. Posted January 2, 2013 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    I have seen some of these dramas and the time Korean wave spread in our country, many have admired such stories mixed with comedy to lighten up the situation. Truly remarkable how these Korean dramas can capture the attention of many.

  7. Katie Jo
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi, new here to common room. Got hooked on K Drama this summer with Boys Before Flowers. Gotta love a show that makes me cry. I have certainly found the shows I’ve watched refreshing after American television. I have been reading your reviews and am thankful for the input and looking forward to expanding my K Drama horizons.

  8. teachergirl
    Posted March 19, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Have you seen any dramas that you’d share with elementary age kids (10-11 year olds)?

    I’m doing a foreign films and media enrichment class at school and was thinking about introducing kdrama (we’ve watched Running Man, which they love, so I thought I’d try a show with a plot), but I tend to watch shows that are very romance focused. Even if they’re clean (like Playful Kiss), I don’t think my students would be interested. I’ve got 4 girls and 10 boys in the class, so…

    Would you recommend Dream High or Shut Up Flower boy Band for that age group? I haven’t seen either of them.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted March 22, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think I would suggest Dream High or Flower Boy Band for that age, unless you did a fwd through some of the scenes in the first two episodes of Flower Boy Band and just summarized them. There is some romance there, but there’s a lot more just about the boys and their friendships.

      Oh- Maybe Faith (also known as the Great Doctor)?

      I know you wanted something with a plot, but there is a documentary about Big Bang and how they went through their training as teens- I’ve seen it on Youtube. That might be interesting. As I recall, the only thing that was really inappropriate was a poster in their recording room, and I think you only see that once. Youtube also has several Korean music videos and then a lot of ‘making of’ videos, which is fun, and does show some cultural aspects that I find fascinating.

      I am sure there is something else, I’ll try to think about it some more.

      • Headmistress, zookeeper
        Posted March 22, 2013 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

        You know what- your kids might like Master of Study, mainly because it shows a Korean school in operation- so there’s lots of culturally distinctive stuff going on. There is very little romance. Another good one would be the movie Glove.

      • teachergirl
        Posted March 30, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the recommendations.

        Master of Study should be a good one. I hadn’t watched it since I saw the Japanese version a few years ago (called Dragon Zakura), and I haven’t been impressed with the Korean versions of some of my favorite Japanese shows like Boys over Flowers and the Man Who Can’t Get Married. We were on Spring Break this week so I watched a few episodes and it seems like a good choice.

        I liked the idea of Faith, too, so I rewatched the first two episodes. I think it’s a little too violent to show in a public school setting when I don’t know the students’ parents well.

        The BigBang documentary – one of my students is obsessed with BigBang and 2NE1. She’d love it. I’ll have to see if I can find it.

  9. ita
    Posted June 27, 2013 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    can download korean dramas here http://kdwes.org/

  10. Haenyolady
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for compiling this list! My kids are half Korean and one of the ways that we familiarize them with the language is to watch K dramas with them. We just finished Manny and Falling Stars, which they both adored, but were stuck as to what to watch next that would be both appropriate and hold their attention. Love your suggestions and found them very helpful = )

  11. Robyn
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for linking to my post and for posting the link to it there, I’d seen this post once but lost track of it, and am glad to have an easy way back to it now. :) My sister is watching City Hunter, I think, and I was thinking of joining her in that.

  12. Preeti Ravindra
    Posted October 16, 2013 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Thank you for compiling this list.. will make it so much easier for me to watch more dramas as I have found that our taste matches a lot :D!!

    I absolutely adore King 2 Hearts… I have made all my friends watch it! I dunno if it was that famous in Korea but I think its the best K-drama I have watched :)
    Full House was the first K-drama I watched so it obviously has a special spot on my list. And I liked City Hunter, HeartStrings, Panda and Hedgehog, 1% of Anything, My girlfriend is a gumiho(watched it bcoz of Lee Seung Gi), Protect the Boss(took some time to warm up), Faith, Monstar and Good Doctor.

    Have you watched Reply 1997? I loved that too… Really liked the actors :) Also apart from K-drama, the best J-drama that I like is Rich Man, Poor Woman (I was a little put-off by the name but then I read the plot and to a Compute Science student an innovation business sounded so cool :D)

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted October 16, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      I did watch Reply 1997, and I liked it, too. I liked Rich Man, Poor Woman a lot, too! We do have similar tastes.=) That actor was also in one about a veterinary science, I think, right? Maybe it was Dr. Dolittle?

  13. Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    hi.. i loved King 2 hearts….really really rea;llly loved it….

  14. Jill Reiser
    Posted January 16, 2014 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant Legacy was my first Korean Drama and I love it. Even my husband watched it with me. Your blog was very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Willson
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Hi, thanks for the list.
    I just remember korean tv series that i loved to watch, it is back at 90’s when i was at school.
    The story is about a very romantic couple, but somehow one day the boyfriend died crash by a car. The car driver that made his boyfriend died are on coma state because of the accident. Somehow i forgot, his boyfriend soul was granted by the angels to live again, but the tragic thing was he revived on his car driver body. Of course after that he tried to meet his girlfriend but ofc she hate hate him so much because he was on body of his boyfriend murderer. But somehow in the end she realize that he is his boyfriend. It’s looks like fly me to polarize, can u please help me find the title of this series?

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted January 18, 2014 at 12:17 am | Permalink

      I’m not that good with the older K-dramas. Do you know Dramabeans? Dramabeans.com has a regular ‘name this K-drama’ feature where people have sent in questions just like yours and readers pool their knowledge to answer the question. Good luck!

    • martin fennell
      Posted February 18, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Hello I’m a 54 year old irish guy.
      I am a big fan of asian dramas and movies.
      here are my ratings for korean dramas I’ve seen
      6/10
      queens classroom (preferred the origunal japanese)
      7/10
      white christmas
      autumn in my heart (my first one. I stopped for a while, before coming back to finish it off. The female was excellent.
      coma
      freeze
      the devil
      secret
      8/10
      dr champ
      my too perfect sons
      king of dramas
      mackarel run
      athena :godess of war
      please marry me
      scent of a woman
      49 days
      iris
      triangle
      big
      damo
      boys over flowers . (i have seen japanese, and taiwan version. Overall I thought the japanese version was the best.)
      my name is kim sam soon (my favourirte korean actress equally good at drama or comedy. My second favourite korean character.)
      ireland (the irish scenes were shot in korea)
      jumomg.
      9/10
      DAe Joyoung
      giant
      yalu river flows.
      secret garden
      warrior baek dong suk
      iris 2 (yes, preffered it to the original)
      The Chaser. (the movie “The chaser” {nothing to do with this} was what led me to Korean dramas)
      10/10
      kingdom of the winds (fav)
      the sandglass
      the city hall (fav)

      When i look at all asian dramas Ive seen. The makjority of 10/10s come from japan.

      • martin fennell
        Posted February 18, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        oh I missed out some
        my love pattzi (6)
        Dong yi (9) my favourite korean character.
        chuno (9)

        I think that’s them all.

      • Headmistress, zookeeper
        Posted February 18, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        Thanks!

        • martin fennell
          Posted February 19, 2014 at 5:47 am | Permalink

          welcome

  16. Megan P
    Posted January 30, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    You should watch Queen of Housewives. Very funny.

  17. martin fennell
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    ok, this definetly should be the last one.

    Birth of a rich man
    8/10
    If someone was to ask me for a good introduction to Korean drama, This would be the one I’d recommend. It isn’t the best. But for me it has what is tops about them ie great characters, good story, and a nice balance between laughter and tears.

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  20. Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Coffee Prince was the one that made me thing that K dramas are the new Shakespeare plays… unrequited love, comic misunderstandings… cross-dressing….

  21. martin fennell
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    some updates
    four sisters
    7/10
    nice enough, but nothing special. Good acting overall, follows a predictable plotline

    It’s okay,that’s love.
    8/10
    Not since queen of the classroom (Japanese version),has a drama made me think the way this one has.When it started off first, i thought i might just give it a 5/10, then it veered between 6 and 7, for a long time, then 8. but I still wonder why i didn’t want to rate it higher.It’s one of the best written dramas I’ve seen. The two leads are excellent and for the most part are backed up a wonderful cast. Being specific, the punk girl isn’t really in the same league. It seems to be going in one direction, then goes in another unexpected one. Well at least for me, who hadn’t read much about it before. I don’t know how anybody who deals with mental health issues would rate this, but i thought it portrayed them honestly. It brought home to me the fact, that anyone can suffer from mental health problems, and just because you look okay, doesn’t always mean you are okay.
    i see it won a plaque of appreciation at the Korean Society for Schizophrenia arch
    Lee Sung-Kyung (the punk girl) is actually 24. Maybe her acting deserves a bit more credit, than i was giving her..
    nice soundtrack,
    In regard to the emotional scenes, from what i remember for the most part, they were done in a low key way and were all the better for it.
    Manny
    7/10
    although the kids acceptance is a bit too easy,and the ending could have have had a bit more zip to it, this drama had some nice touches. I liked the fact that the lead
    actress didn’t stop wearing her glasses. or if she did take them didn’t transfer into a raving beauty. On the acting front, nobody was bad, but the best performance probably came from the youngest cast member Goo Seung Hyun, and if i had a favourite character it would be Jin Seo Yun as Shin Gi Roo.

    Dr stranger.
    8/10
    This started off with dialogue so bad, i thought it would end up as the drama i gave the lowest rating so far to.
    Episode 2, didn’t raise my hopes too much. There is a silly chase around a pillar, which I don;t think was meant to be funny. But as the show got on, it got better. It seemed to be a show that wanted to tick as many korean type dramas as possible from extreme violence to more light hearted fare, and in between. It was only as the show went on, and no longer seemed to be going for extremes that it found it’s footing, or perhaps I just got used to it.
    Acting wise. I thought Kang So-Ra was terrific, followed by Cheon Ho-Jin, who made a great villain. In I suppose what was the nominal female role, Jin Se-Yeon was fine. But she’s probably not as good an actress as Kang So-Ra. In the lead role, Lee Jong-Suk, came across as being one of the better pretty boy actors out there. Although I really had to use my imagination to think of him as a doctor, especially when he had that HAIR.

    Angel eyes
    8/10
    The cast are excellent. I can’t really fault anybody. It’s always a pleasure to see Jung Jin-Young, one of the best Korean actors out there.
    Attractive leads. But my favourite character was
    the tenacious cop Cha Min-Soo played by Juan. I also liked Kim Yoon-Jung played by Park Jin-Joo.
    This drama seemed to have more hugging, and songs than any other drama I’ve watched. Well, not different songs, but the same songs being played an incessant amount of times. I think the drama could have been cut by about 4 episodes. But, hey no poor girl falling in love with a rich guy, which makes a change.
    Oh! So that was the girl from boys over flowers. I had no idea.

    special affairs team ten.
    season 2
    9/10.

    The Greatest love
    8/10.
    I’ve seen Cha Seung-Won in this, City Hall, and Athena. City Hall was the best drama, but this is his best performance. Kong Hyo-Jin was a good match. As The second leads Yoon Kye-Sang was fine, but Yoo In-Na didn’t really impress me.
    What I was a bit confused by, was who was the main female lead. Was it Kang So-Ra, or Jin Se-Yeon. to me it was Kang So-Ra, and the playful scenes between her and Lee Jong-Suk were some of the best in the series. Park Hae-Jin’s performance came across as being rather one note, but maybe that was the character he played.
    Choi Jung-Woo could have done with toning down his performance at times.
    The acting from the rest of the cast ranged from adequate to good, and better.
    Oh! the actress who played the sister of one of the doctors, or whatever he was, she looked far too thin, and Kim Sang-Ho had a smaller role, than I’m used to seeing him, and it is probably the most subdued I’ve seen him, which was nice. As for Kang Tae-Hwan, was that how his hair really looks?

    Angels revenge
    8/10
    Well, we’ve seen it all before. But how many versions of Hamlet are there. It’s not the fact, there is nothing original here, but how it’s done. This is done very well. I found it totally compelling from beginning to end.
    Yes, there are things you could baulk at, the usual plot contrivances. But there are some nice touches too. I guess what’s important, is that you care for the characters, and want to know what what’s going to happen to them.
    Perhaps the idea of a povotol character seeming to reappear was a bit too covinient, but I’ll overlook it.
    As for the cast, the acting was average at best. That is except for Choi Jae-Won who was wonderful as the childlike Woo-Hyeon.
    At the other end of the scale, the most irrating character was Poong-Ho played
    by Lee Doll-Hyung. Well at least I found him ammoying when he was crying.
    One thing puzzled me. There is a moment in one of the episodes where leading man what happened to her sister, and who is responsible. But later it’s as if that never happened.

    City Hunter
    8/10
    Wow, his acting really improved since boys over flowers.

    nine times travel
    9/10
    Attractive leads, (although I thought she was too talkitive. But when the story required her to play more serious scenes, and she became less hyper,you might say, I appreciated her acting more. I think though the best perormance came from Jeon No-Min as the brother.

    ma boy
    6/10
    a nice 3 part drama

    • martin fennell
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      i’ll post reviews of some of the other korean dramas, i rated.
      Jumomg
      jumong
      8/10.
      As The title character, Song Il Gook is okay didn’t make a great impression. He was adequate, but that’s really about it. But Luckily he is surrounded by a great cast.
      the best were probably
      Hu Joon Ho as Hae Mo Su
      Oh Yun Soo as Lady Yoo Hwa
      Jun Kwang Ryul as King Geum Wa (although I dn’t know what the laughing was about.
      and the guy who played the prime mininster
      But most of the cast were fine.
      I liked Han Hye Jin as So Seo No
      and Kim Seung Soo as Prince Dae So too, and others too
      At first I liked Bae Soo Bin as Sayong, and even thought he might have better in the title role. But Now I think, it was a rather one note performance. I did like the
      gay relationship though.
      The costumes were magnificent.
      The battle scenes were the best I’ve seen in a korean costume drama. Although it was only from around ep 50 or so, that I thought that.
      I’m not sure about the jumping around. If it’s for a purpose fine. but some of the time, it seemed to be just for showing off.
      Some great horse riding scenes

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted April 14, 2015 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, I really enjoyed reading your reviews.
      I loved It’s Okay, That’s Love, and I do have mental health issues (PTSD, a lot of it stemming from abuse through out my childhood), so I really connected with male lead. And I tracked down most of the songs and added them to my iPod and play them when I’m having trouble sleeping.

  22. martin fennell
    Posted April 15, 2015 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    God, I read the above reviews after posting them.
    Please don’t leave it up. I’m gonna edit it, and make it look a bit more decent.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted April 15, 2015 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      Ooops. Oh dear. I was gone all day and am playing catch up now. I hit approve too fast. Not sure which ones are which now.

  23. martin fennell
    Posted April 15, 2015 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Hi, Headmistress, bowing low :)
    I hope your life is better now. I was lucky to have two loving parents.
    Anyway some more reviews.
    Note.These are old reviews pasted from another site.

    NOTE. I see that the Triangle drama I saw was japanese, not korean. I haven’t seen the korean one.
    I’m not sure why I put it in here. Was there an earlier Korean drama mystery drama called Triangle.
    I’m presuming that the one I saw was the japanese one. I saw it in 2011

    autumn in my heart.
    7/10
    Moving drama, if a little contrived at times. I thought the best performances came from The lead actress, the lady playing her real mother, and the guy playing tae sukh.

    scent of a woman 8/10
    lovely drama with some beautiful performances especially from the lead actress and the lady playing her mother. What a wonderful relationship. Sometimes it was loving, sometimes they got on each other’s nerves.
    I love the fact that the toupee wearing tango teacher wasn’t made a figure of fun, and that the toupee is never used for comedy purposes.
    There were some lovely moments. My favourite was the dance on the beach with the elderly gentleman.
    The last drama i watched was 49 days, which was very good too. but i think i preferred scent . because unlike 49, it had a good balance between great looking people, and others.
    The ending was spot on

    The kingdom of the 4 winds 10/10
    This was my first drama to finish. One of the dramas I’m watching at the moment is warrior baek dong su. I’m enjoying it very much. But comparing the subs in kingdom to warrior is like comparing water to wine. Wine being Kingdom. The subs in that were perfect. They felt like they came from the period the drama is set in. In Warrior, the speech from the younger actors at least is just too modern
    eg ” rotten brat” ” this fellow” which has to be the most used line in korean drama.
    I’m not compaining. I’m grateful to anybody who takes the time and effort to sub a drama. I was probably spoilt by kingdom.
    But perhaps i’m putting the blame on the wrong party.
    Perhaps i should be blaming the makers of warrior for letting the actors speak in modern dialogue.

    Iris
    8/10
    review contains spoilers.

    Well 24 hangs a big shadow over this. But in 24 as far i recall, you never saw Kiefer Sutherland crying. This has some great action sequences. It also spends more time on the romance angle than 24 would.

    But it also has moments, which didn’t cut it with me
    (1) When Kim Sun Hwa is shooting at Kim Hyun Joon she’s not really a very good shot is she.
    As a matter of fact, a lot of people who tried to kill him are very bad shots
    (2) the reason for the main character to gang up with the terrorists and attack NSS seemed weak. They had nothing to do with what happened to him. That was IRIS.
    Is there something I’ve forgotten.
    (3) The final confrontion between Vick and Kim Hyun Joon. More should have made on how Kim got into the place. As a matter of fact, i thought that Vick would have made sure that no one was following him. Assuming that Kim was just too smart for him, you would imagine Vick would have had lots of alarms in his place. So there should have been a sequence showing Kim getting into the building. Then when he has the opportunity to kill him, or take him in, he decides to throw his gun away and kick the you know what out of him. Not only that, he leaves the gun conviently near for Vick to attempt to kill him.
    (4) The confrontation where the S.W.A.T. team leader pulls a gun on Kim. That was just too silly.
    (5) The hostages disguised as terrorists. Well kim, and san wee were plainly being fired at. So unless a quick bit of hypnotism was done on the hostages to make them believe they really were terrorists, I don’t understand why they would fire on them.
    my favourite character was the north korean female agent Kim Sun Hwa.
    She was in serious mode most of the time. But on the few occassions, she did smile, it was lovely to see.
    My least favourite was the section chief. Where all of the other acting was minimilist, he went in the other direction. I liked him at first, but then his over the top expressions weren’t to my liking.
    So why after all my complaints, do i rate the series so highly.
    Well, it’s compelling. it keeps you on your toes. you want to know what’s gonna happen. That’s a big plus.
    I would like to see some of these actors (i include the ladies) in other stuff, because I found it hard to gauge just how well they can act.
    my favourite scene is where the section chief and others come to Choi Seung Hee’s house on her birthday. But they find her in a very bad way. I just liked the way it changed from light to dark

    The devil
    7/10
    Terrific storyline. Well there was one part near the end where i was thinking, why is he doing that, if he wants that to be done. I also thought that in the final sequence, the two leads looked like two drunks more than what they were supposed to be.
    The acting was fine. Nobody really stood out. Although it was only in the final episode or two, that I saw that the actor playing the title roll could act.
    so if i was to say acting =6
    story=8
    total 14
    divided by 2=7 .

    Please marry me
    8/10
    Well, i finally got around to finishing this.
    Although it wasn’t my favourite drama, it did have my favourite cast of characters.
    I chose it after seeing oh yoon ah in Kingdom of the winds, where I thought she was sexy as hell. But I wasn’t sure if she could really act or not. In this drama, it took me a while to see that she could.
    Although she was probably the weakest in it. Her acting was acceptible, but not up to the standards of the other cast members.
    But once again I found her character to be my favourite. She also has one the warmest smiles I’ve seen.
    The best performances came from kim ji young as the main character Nam Jung Im
    and as her father and mother in law,Baek Il Sub and Go Doo Shim.
    There are some beautiful relationships, in particular between kim ji young’s character and Go Doo Shim’s.
    my favourite moment was when Lee Da In as Yoo Da Hye tries to get Baek Il Sub’s character to do some vacumming.
    You like characters and then start disliking them, and vice versa.
    I should also thank this drama for introducing me to Susan Boyle. I had never heard of her.
    Was the drama overlong. I would say yes. But that doesm’t mean, I didn’t enjoy it.

    Athena:goddess of war
    8/10
    I haven’t read all the reviews, but I read most of them. So I would say I’m in the minority, when I say that Iprefer this to Iris.
    The main reasons being, I think it has better characters, and to use words the director of N.T.S. uses, it has more light and shade in storyline and acting, The best acting came came from Kim Min-Jong and the actor who the aforementioned employs, after in a very funny scene hitting him in the face a number of times. There is a delightful scene between the two of them where they try to gain information by pretending to be who they are not.
    I also lliked Oh Yoon-Ah. This is the third thing I’ve seen her in, and the more I see her, the more I like her. She is not a great actress. But she is game, and wiling to try different things. She seems to like playing characters more than lead roles. She reminds me a bit of Cameron Diaz.
    Looking at her picture on Asianwiki, she looks a lot different.
    In Iris, a lot of the performances were rather one note. In this drama, at least some of the actors are given a chance to show they can do more than look very very serious.
    I thought there were some terrific gunfights
    Yes it has it’s faults. There were too many people being saved in the nick of time.
    who the hell was oh yoon ha talking to on the phone after she had been out drinking with Soo-Ae’s character.
    A major theme of this drama is redemption.
    Some viewers might not like the fact that a character who they would probably prefer to be killed isn’t, and another character who they might have preferred to have lived doesn’t.
    There are also some very funny lines in this, mostly coming from the characters I said I liked. The director of N.T.S. also said something I found amusing.He mentions something about N.T.S. upholding justice, and then says “You may find that cheesy and boring” You would never hear the director of homeland security in 24 says something like that.
    Regarding the special. It reminded me of the what was to me the best action scene, the one between the main villain, and another guy. in the first episode in the bathroom.

    mackarel run
    8/10
    Some very wacky visual which i liked. But for me it got more interesting around episode 4, when it settled down. Although the humour doesn’t disappear completly.
    I did think the second male lead was a bit too pretty for his own good.
    I guess I’ll have to get used to the two guys in love with one girl. Although this
    time, there arte two girls attracted to one guy. Actually it could be three girls.
    The four leads are all likeable, although they don’t all like each other.
    My favourite characters were the tarot reader and her friend.

    Secret garden.
    9/10
    Very funny, very touching. For the most part, a wonderful screenplay. The chemistry was good between the two leads. But then I often find that in these dramas. It had cliches common to korean dramas. But I tend to overlook those. The two leads gave good performances, but there were no real standouts. It made me laugh, smile, cry.

    The Sandglass
    10/10
    An excellent crime drama. Anybody who has seen the old b/w movie manhattan melodrama (the film john dillinger had been to see, before being shot) will recognise one of the threads running through the story. I was also reminded of The Godfather. highly recommended

    Boys over Flowers.
    8/10
    Terrific performance by the lead actress. A reviewer on dvd beaver said she was a cross between Stan laurel, and Guelita Masina. She does smile like Stan Laurel, okay. Not too many scenes that brought a tear. I smiled more and cried. The level of violence in it caught me by surprise. Maybe it was the title that threw me. But then again I should have been prepared, when the series starts with an attempted suicide. I would describe it as a show about love, friendship, and the possible sacrifice of
    one’s own happiness for a friends. There is friendship between women, friendship between men, even if it sometimes leads to jealousy and violence, and friendship bettween men and women ie f4 and Jan Di. Overall it;’s a series I admired more than liked, particularly for the lead actress. The rest of the cast are ok, but no real standouts acting wise. I do wonder why only 3 of the f4 members were given decent storylines.
    Perhaps in the japanese and/or taiwan version, we get to find out more about the gangsters son.

    Excuse me a bit of an indulgence here. I know this is a blog only for korean dramas, and not asian dramas in general. So forgive me rudeness for posting my review of the japanese version

    Hana Yori Dango
    season 1
    9/10
    I liked this version better than the korean one.
    Although I think I prefer the female lead in the K version.
    This version has a more sympathetic male lead, who is also a better actor. I’m not saying he’s great, but he’s certainly more animated. In the K version, I could never understand what she saw in him. In this one I can.
    This version is more wacky, but it also has it’s violent moments.
    My favourite character is probably the owner of the sweet shop, especially her stories about john lennon, and a certain person who goes around in a red suit at christmas.
    Funnily enough, in this version, the male lead’s hair is referred to as weird. Actually I saw nothing wrong with it. In the korean version, (unless I’m mistaken) no mention is made of the hair. Although inho, it is weird.

    Note. The next winner of Miss World will be decided on a play of stone, paper, scissors.
    You would have to have seen the japanese version to get this higly amusing remark :)

    and just to continue
    Hana yori dango season 2.
    9/10
    What can i add to what I said about season 1.
    Well, I’ve recognised the male lead is a good actor.
    The charactor is more enderaring than his counterpart in the korean version. I guess one thing that made me root for him, instead of Rui, which I did in the korean version, was his mangling of certain japanese/english phrases/words.
    I also liked that in the fight with Rui in particular, he didn’t always come out on top.
    Wheras I think he did in the K version.
    I thought the best performance was by Nishihara Aki as Yuki. who sheer coincidence was also the best looking. Okay, She’s gorgeous. :)

    and to go the whole hog.
    the Taiwan version

    Meteor garden-season 1.
    8/10.
    Not as good as the japanese version, but I preferred it to the korean one.
    This is the first time, I found the male lead sympathetic, and was happy for them to get together. In the korean, and japanese version, i wondered why she would have anything to do with such a jerk. Of course he’s a jerk here, and sometimes he’s more of a jerk than in the japanese or korean versions.But overall he is more likeable.
    I also found one of aspect of the bullying inflicted on Shancai or shan cai quite funny. It’s when her hands/arms get stuck to the desk.
    One of my favourite scenes is when QingHe is talking 9 to the dozen to XiaoYou and she just walks off. I guess she just had enough of listening to him.
    So how does the cast compare to the cast of the japanese and korean versions.
    female lead
    taiwan
    korean
    japanese

    male lead
    japanese
    taiwan
    korean

    second male lead
    taiwan
    korean
    japanese.

    Damo
    SPOLIERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
    8/10
    Beautiful performance by Ha Ji-won.

    But I was troubled by the following.
    (1) Why did the captain take so long to tell Jang, that Chai was his sister. Was it because he wanted him to kill him, so that he wouldn’t have to kill the brother of the girl he was in love with.
    (2) Jang was too quick to believe that Chai would have been involved in the masacare of the lepers. He had spent enough time with her in the cave to know, that she wasn;t the type of person to do something like that. Even if he did believe it, it wasn’t in his nature not to have looked in her eyes before he killed her. Obviously the idea was to make him believe he had killed her. but what happens if he ran into her afterwards. If it had been me, i think it would have been better to have threatened the life of the rebel girl.
    (3) When Jang finds that Jai is alive, after he was supposed to have killed her, he doesn’t seem too surprised

    (4) The ending. It didn’t get the tear ducts going. Maybe because, I knew that it was going to be tragic, But as far as I could see, she still stabs him, even after she finds out that he’s her brother. Okay. maybe, she was just too blinded with the idea of revenge against the man who killed the captain.

    Anyway, here’s my ending.
    The captain is not dead. He finds out that Jai has gone to kill her brother. As she delivers the death blow, he (the captain)cries out that he’s her brother. But it’s too late. She cries in aguish, and finally kills herself.

    Oh, one other thing. The wuxia element. Exciting enough to watch. But in relation to Jai, because I can only think about in relation to her. Sometimes she used it, and sometimes she didn’t. Was it only effective in certain hours of the day or what? :)

    yalu river flows.
    9/10
    Well this is different for the most part.
    quote from d-addicts
    “The first co-production between Korea and Germany, made to celebrate the 125th year of diplomatic relations between the two countries, 압록강은 흐른다 (Der Yalu Fließt) is not only a very faithful adaptation of the original (the first episode is more or less the novel’s content, while the remaining two talk about the rest of Li’s life in Germany), but also a throwback to the great period dramas of the early to mid 90s, like 카레이스키 (Kareisky) and 여명의 눈동자 (Eyes of Dawn). Its slow paced and poetic prose might feel out of place in today’s K-drama industry, so preoccupied with shallow glitz and glamour, but it’s with substance and narrative fundamentals that this drama succeed on almost all accounts, as one of the best overlooked gems of the year

    “Yalu River Flows (German title: Der Yalu Fliesst)” is originally an autobiographical novel written by Korean ex-pat writer Li Mirok. Now the novel has been turned into a TV series co-produced by Korea’s SBS and Germany’s BR (Bayerischer Rundtunk). The drama portrays the life of Li Mirok, who fled to China and finally settled in Germany after fighting for Korea’s freedom while studying medicine in Tokyo during the Japanese colonial regime. The dramatic life of Li reflects the turbulent era of modern Korean and Germany history.

    The role of Li is played by Woo Byeok-song, a Korean actor living in Germany, and Li’s parents are played by esteemed Shin Gu and Na Moon-hee. Its executive producer Lee Jong-han says the drama has been in preparation for nearly 30 years and it’s going to be his signature piece.”

    A lot of it set in germany, where some of the german characters speak korean, and the korean lead speaks german. Heck, there is also a snatch or so of a famous irish poem.
    It’s only 3 episodes long, and can be found on the gooddrama website

    my name is kim sam soon
    8/10
    wonderful lead character, and a terrific performance from Kim Sun-Ah.
    At the same, i find it a bit sad that she considers herself an old maid at 30.
    Although 1t made me laugh, every time she said it.
    The fact that she was considered fat is also to my mind ridiculus. I can see a reason for calling herself fat. I guess many women of even that size would consider themselves overweight. But it’s the idea that others considered her fat is more troubling.
    Also on her age-30. Well, it seems she was 30 in real life, but I bet there are ordinary korean women out there of that age who would love to look that good.
    So even though I liked the show. To me it preached some bad messages.
    (1) being thirty and not married is tantamount to being an old maid
    (2) being a little overweight is the same as being fat.

    ireland 8/10
    Nice drama. Good acting. For the most part it’s a straight drama. But i thought it was parodying one particular cliche of korean dramas, ie the piggyback ride. There are a few attempts at it, but only one sucessful one, where one of the main actors carries the other. Now the last episode gets a bit weird. I’ll put it like this, if you didn’t like the ending of “Big” you won’t be happy with this one either, and I’m still not sure whether he was her brother or not.
    I was more impressed with hyun bin, here, than in My Name is Kim Sam Soon. I guess, because she shows a broader range. The scenes with the ex pastor really helped.
    I guess there weren’t many memorable sequences. Well if there were, I can’t remember them. Which could of course mean, they just weren’t memorable to me. But there is one outstanding monologue sequence in a car with kim min;jeoong when she gets some good news.it shows how good this actress is.
    NOTE. The irish sequences were shot in jeju island.

    Chuno 9/10
    Favourite characters min cho bok yi, seol hwa. best performance by Ha Si-eun as Lee Sun Young, the woman with cerebal palsy. Yes, an obvious choice to make. But i think it was an extrordinary performance.
    questions.
    (1) what happened to eop bok.
    (2) when the guards or whatever had hye won’s picture in front of the,. Even if she had some kind of disease, it was plainthat it was her. it would have been better if she had worn something to hide her face.
    overall, a terrific drama.

    Rondo 8/10
    I suppose you could say this has two distinct parts. For me the first part. which would be episodes 1-6 is the best. What I particularly liked was the struggle for the japanese and korean to understand each other.
    The second part starts off very well and is always gripping. But for me, it got a bit too melodramatic at times.
    Then the female lead is about to do something soon into the second part. But she is prevented. Her character changes here. But she doesn’t stay with that characterisaion for long. What she was going to do. or it looked she was going to do, although convincing at the time, later on, doesn’t really hang together. But still the second part is gripping too. So that part, gets an 8. As does the whole series.

    The city hall.
    10/10 (fav)
    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, 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 sure where.

    Giant
    9/10
    acting
    a+
    Hwang Jung-Eum+Park Sang-Min
    a
    Jeong Bo-Seok+Kim Seo-Hyung+Lee Beom-Soo
    b+
    Lee Ki-Young
    b
    Joo Sang-Wook+Park Jin-Hee+Yun Yu-Seon+Moon Hee-Kyeong
    c
    Lee Ki-Young+the cast of people working for kang-mo or gangmo depending on which translation you watch.
    At times I would have given this a ten, but it didn’t quiet sustain the
    quality all the way through. The music at certain dramatic moments could have used a bit more subtlety.
    As in other korean dramas, some great emotionally powwrful scenes.
    great villian in jo/cho pil-yeon.
    most interesting character Jo Min-Woo, because we get to see both sides of him.

    Iris 2
    9/10
    Terrific. This for me is better than the original. I found myself questioning it less. Section chief Oh is not as irrating, as I found him in the original.
    Jang Hyuk is excellent as the damaged (aren’t they all) agent. But all of the cast turn in good performances particularly Lee Da-Hae as the love interest.
    There are quite a lot of hand to hand combat scenes. Some better than others. The best one for me is between Lim Soo-Hyang) Yoon So-Yi.
    There also some nice comedy moments, particularly a howlingy funny sequence involving a gangster/arms dealer. Well he’s listed on asian wiki as arms dealer. But he came across as more of a gangster to me.
    Park sang wook is great in what is basically a cameo role as the aforementioned.
    The story for me is tighter than in the original. There’s also a nice cameo at the end from.. Well I won’t say who. But the sequence ends with two women showing a bunch of guys that you can’t put a good woman down, or a bad one for that matter. It made me think “Oh, those two should have their own series together” But it would be more lighthearted than iris; maybe as two female private eyes:)

    Sequences that made me go “hmmm”
    It is obvious when Park Tae Hee dealt so easily with ris agents, how good she was. Yet only two are sent to tail her afterwards.
    At least one great snow chase scene. Was there two, I can’t remember.
    Some great fashion too, particularly Lee Da Hae’s trench coat, and Oh Yeon-Su white outfit.
    Then there is Lee Da Hae’s great walk, when she enters her place of work, and the sound of her
    shoes. I also liked the music.
    Then there is Kim Young-Chul as Baek san. who was 60 in feburary, and whips guys younger
    than him. I see he majored in physical education. Well, it certainly shows in Iris 2. What’s also
    nice that he looks his age, and yet the scenes of him dealing with the enemy are totally convincing/

    NOTE. This comes from a guy who liked the critically panned avengers movie with Ralph Fiennes, and Uma Thurman.

    DAe Joyoung.
    9/10
    SPOILERS, so don’t read unless you have seen the full series.

    If this series had a poster it would be say something like “The story of one of Korea’s greatest hereoes” But just as applicable would be a line spoken by one of the main characters, which went something like “Nobody remains a friend forever, and nobody remains an enemy forever.
    I’ll divide my review into sections.
    Performances.
    I’ll give names of characters, as I’m not very good at remembering actors names. It’s too tedious to keep looking them up.
    Best performance. Li Geom. (blood son of chulin and Daejo young
    Usually I am more impressed by the older actors in korean costume/historical dramas. But this guy was excellent. I want to see him in more stuff.
    The last king of goguryeo, whose name I can’t remember.
    Wu Zeitan.
    Dae joyung’s father

    Best character and look at me performance
    xui rengui
    Funniest moment.
    When Xui Rengui tells hongpei to take his purple cloak off referring to it as a curtain.

    Most poignant scene.
    The death of Geomlan.

    The dialogue.
    There are at least two types of dialogue here.
    Professional screen dialogue, and dialogue that sounds like it was written for a school play, or that youngsters might say when playing war games.

    The battle/fight/violence scenes.
    Was all that jumping up and down really how they faught in those days. As episodes wore on, scenes became more graphic.
    At first that impressed me, but later I became unconvinced by how unlikely looking the blood was. It looked just too much like strawberry jam.

    Scenes that kind of grew tiresome.
    “Give me death your majesty” I was hoping that for once someone would actually get what they were supposedly looking for.
    Daejoung (mostly) in disguise and peeering up from under his big hat.

    Characters i found a bit tiresome, but I suppose I got used to them.
    Heuk sodol, and the guy with the weird voice.

    A fascinating story, that kept me enthrallled.
    Overlong, probably.
    But still 9/10

    Dong yi
    9/10
    SPOILERS

    Han Hyo-joo is marvelous in the leading role.She is backed up a terrific cast. For me, the standouts
    were Park Ha-sun as queen Inhyeon, Jung Jin-young as Seo Yong Gi.
    (I first came across this actor in Kingdom of the winds, and loved his
    performance as King Yuri. It’s probably the best portrayal of a king
    I’ve seen. It’s how I would want a king to be.)
    Oh Yeon Seo as Queen Inwon, Kim Yoo Jung playing Dong Yi as a child
    Nam Da Reum as Dong yi’s second child
    the guy who played Dong Yi’s nemesis after the death of Lady Jang.
    The drama itself is a terrific mixture of romance, political intrigue, adventure, mystery and
    some comedy as well.
    For me, the comedy was probably the weakest part.I’m not saying I didn’t laugh at the antics of the two court musicians, or the idiot who was obsessed with Dong Yi, But I never warmed too any of those characters.
    My favorites scenes were Queen inheyon’s return to the palace, Dong yi’s entry to the palace, Dong yi’s return to the palace. Jung Jin-young smiling in the last episode.
    most moving scenes;Dong yi cradling her dead child, Dong yi and Chun soo finding each other again.
    I loved the tenderness of the scenes between Dong Yi and her second son.
    The romance between Dong Yi and the king was very convincing.
    The realtionship between the two princes’s was very well done. Yes, youcould say the drama was quiet predictable, and that Dong Yi would always turn up trumps.But the drama was so well told, that it didn’t
    matter, and yes, it is a great story. There is a lot of love in this series.
    The love between Dong Yi and her two children, between the king and Dong yI. But also between Lady Jangm and her mother, and brother.
    Yes, they are the villains, but they are also willing to lay down their lives for each other. At one point, Dong Yi says something like “Even the most evil person hides a tender heart” At first I thought”Really”.
    But then I thought about it more, and realised it was true. Heck, even Hitler loved somebody. Although I’m not quite sure that’s what the scriptwriters meant.
    Now a few things that bugged me. (1) When Consort Chun/Choi/Dong yi’s room is being searched for the deployment records, lady Yu,(was it her) and her two helpers are discovered by one of the
    consort’s attendants. Lady Yu tells her helpers to get rid of her, which obviously meant to kill her. Did those two girls really look,like they could kill anybody. But leaving that aside, there is only a
    brief mention of the girl’s dissapearence afterwards. There is no investigation into it. I also thought that the drama didn’t have to go so far as to have Dong Yi lose a child, so that the king wouldn’t have
    had to execute her. Surely he could have stood his ground with the ministers, and said “Look, I’m having the woman I love, exiled. If that’s not good enough for you, tough luck” Highly recommended.
    oh, yes. One other character, i liked Kang Yoo Mi as Ae Jong. It’s nice to see a young person, who wasn’t a beauty.I suspected, she might have been a comedien.

    The Chaser.
    9/10
    Terrific drama is absorbing all the way. Although ostensibly a revenge thriller, Power is as much a central theme. The cast are great with some terrific characters. My favourite being Jang Shin-Young as Shin Hye-ra.
    The ending is rather abrupt. from googling it looks like there was going to be a one off special, but it never happened.

    My too perfect sons
    8/10
    This was a really nice drama with some wonderful naturalistic acting. I couldn’t fault any of the cast. As for the characters, Boksil as Boksil (you’ll have to see the drama to find what I mean by that) was my favourite. But in the second part of the drama, i grew to like Sujin. The scene with her looking into the window of the pharmacy and seeing images of the good times she had with Jipoong is one of my favoutites in asian drama, It showed me how good an actress Park Sun-Young was by allowing her to display a range of emotions.

    Dr Champ
    8/10
    Good cast, particutly Uhm Tae-Woong who i will add to my list of asian actors I admire. But even the pretty boys don’t let the side down.

    The King of dramas
    8/10
    I suppose this is what’s called having your cake and eating it, and also biting the hand that feeds you.
    In one way It’s a different type of drama, and in another way, it’s the same type of drama.
    The different part is the most interesting bit for me, which is what goes into the making of a drama.
    Kim Myung Min is terrific in the title role
    Jung Ryu Won is good and likeable as the female lead.
    My favourite sequence is him watching her as she watches a japanese movie for inspiration.
    Great ending, especially for people like me, who are big fans of radio drama.

    The Queens classroom (korean)
    6/10
    A decent remake of the japanese original. Although it’s a while since I’ve seen the latter, i think this one is more sentimental. The cast are fine.,and it’s nice to see a korean actress in a leading role with a bit of weight on her. The performance that impressed me the most though was the actor who played Madam Oh. Was there an equivilant of the principal in the japanese version? and did we have a character displaying the reasoning behind the title character’s teaching methods. I think the japanese version was tougher. This one seemed to pander more to the audience. In the original, i believe the audience are allowed to make up their own minds about the teacher. Here, we are told that she is a good teacher. She is a more sympathetic character. The teacher doesn’t look as forbidding. She has a nicer haircut, and her features are softer. Although perhaps I shouldn’t deduct points because of that. It’s a slightly different approach to the same character. But for me the japanese actress was more convincing. Would I have given this drama a higher rating if I hadn’t seen the original. Was part of the the reason I gave the original an 8 because of the life lessons the teacher imparted. Now when i hear them again, they don’t leave the same impression on me. If I watched the japanese version again, would I still give it the same rating.

    Birth of a rich man
    8/10
    If someone were to ask me for a good introduction to Korean drama, This would be the one I’d recommend. It isn’t the best. But for me it has, what is tops about them ie great characters, good story, and a nice balance between laughter and tears.
    spoiler below.

    favoutite character Boo Tae Hee who starts off as someone you will despise, until you learn she has a heart as big as the ocean.

    secret
    7/10
    This drama looks absolutely stunning.
    Hwang Jung-Eum is wonderful in the lead role. For the rest of the cast, I was impressed by Jung Soo-Young. I’m not sure why I didn’t rate this even higher, because it was a good story. It is a serious drama for the most part, but doesn’t skimp on humour entirely. Perhaps it had a lack of really good characters.

    Warrior Baek Dong suk.
    9/10
    THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERSA.r

    This only the second costume drama, I managed to complete. The first being Kingdom of the winds, which I think surpasses this. Although this has some of the best characters I’ve seen in an asian drama.
    Top characters
    Skylord. This character left the series too early. He is the most charismatic baddie, I have come across in a long time. He should have a series of his own,
    Moosa Baek Dong Soo. Vicous, pathetic, funny
    The queen. She looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but her heart is blacker than night.
    jin joo. She’s feisty as hell, and more interesting than who I presume is the lead female
    Bubbling under
    Commander hong, who is as cunning as hell,
    Ga ok. She’s probably the first character I liked, but found others more interesting as the show went on.
    Kenzo-enigmatic
    Yes, all but one are baddies
    It;s a while since I’ve seen four wimds, but I think this series has more comedy. It has some great one liners such as one of the characters being referred to as a male gigolo,
    It also has a nice little joke. that doesn’t outstay it’s welcome concerning ears being pulled.
    A major theme of the drama would seem to be redemption.
    The most moving scene is where jin joo tells the pirate chief exactly how she feels about him.
    The thing I’m not sure what to say without just writing ot . The actress playing ga ok plays the mother of a charactor who in real life is only 8 years younger than her. I think the acress playing the daughter is supposed to be playing younger
    The most actorly scene, is where skylord cries over the dearh of the woman he loved.
    Another thing I liked was the grit shown by charactors it might not have been expected of, eg the son of commander hong, when confronted by skylord.

    my gripe. Although I’m grateful for subs, it would nice if modern speech was not in it

    best action scene. Where the two male leads take on a load of bad guys.

    Big
    8/10
    Spoiler coming up

    The two leads were great. My other favourite charactor was Da Ren’s teacher friend.
    But what was the ending about.
    They were supposed to have switched bodies back. But the ending didn’t show that. Maybe Da ren was so used to seeing the kkj as the older guy, that, that’s how she always saw him ,even when he appeared as himself.

    White christmas
    7/10
    Maybe I should have given it an 8.
    But I’ll stick with 7.
    It has a serial killer in it, but it’s not about a serial killer. In a way he/she is the least important character.
    The acting is okay, nothing outstanding.
    The interplay between the characters is the most interesting thing,

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted April 15, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Next time I put up some more K-drama reviews, I’d like to use some of these in the post as well.

      • martin fennell
        Posted April 15, 2015 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        I’m pleased, that you think that at leat some are worth putting up. So, by all means, please go ahead.

        Looking at your reasons for liking korean dramas.

        I would agree with these
        Warm sibling/family bonds and connections
        Bromance (i like when there is a living relationship, between friends whether it be two males, or females
        large families. Yes, especially meal scenes.
        As for cute kids. Well, not cute to the point of ickiness. If they have a kind of naturalness about them. okay, but not if they are blatantly cute. But they kind of kids performance I like would be the two children in treeless mountain
        http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1143155/
        trailer
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoUwUnRuqEA&hd=1

        Another thinh I like is little recognisable bits that make me smile.
        eg, in Ieland there is a scene where a character, in an angry mood starts kicking a bicycle around, and another character says something like “What are you taking it out on the bicycle for. What did that on you”
        I’m sure we’ve all seen the words “No parking, changed to “No Barking” I saw that in a korean drama, or perhaps a movie. It;s a long time ago. Just little smalll things, but I appreciate them.
        The fact they don’t go on for years.Although having said that, there are some that are quiet long. But at least you know, that’s it/

  24. martin fennell
    Posted April 15, 2015 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    oh, sorry.this not a korean drama blog.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted April 15, 2015 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      I LOVE Korean dramas, though, and even though it’s not my whole blog, I do review K-Dramas from time to time, so I’m glad you shared.

  25. martin fennell
    Posted May 24, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Thank you.
    Two excellent dramas I watched recently were Punch (2014).I list the date, because there is an earlier punch which is a completly different story, and What happens to my family. The second one is a family type drama. There is the father, his sister, the father’s 3 children and as the story progressess, 3 others come to live in the house. It’s a drama that might make you think about your own family, and can be watched legally here in excellent quality.
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMf7VY8La5REsP7o3qlY139MxmVtZQzNH
    Punch could be the best korean drama, I’ve seen. Suberb acting, writing, and direction.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted May 24, 2015 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Thanks! I was curious about both of those, partly because I really have admired the previous work of the lead in Punch, but I tend to avoid the really sad dramas. I have watched some of them, though, just not usually on purpose- I accidentally start it before I realize what’s going to happen and then I have to finish.

      • martin fennell
        Posted May 24, 2015 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        Hi. I guess, the main lead in punch would be the guy, so I guess that’s who you mean.
        I saw him My love Patzi, but don’t remember him. God, I’ve been watching asian dramas for some years now, and still don’t know the names of actors.
        Both dramas have sad situations, but I would’t call them exceptionally sad.

9 Trackbacks

  1. By Frivolous Friday: K-Dramas « humble adoration on January 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    […] Then in December, while I was at the height of discomfort with pregnancy and desperately needing distraction, my friend MacKenzie mentioned that she was Giving Up and Giving In and watching Korean dramas instead of American television. Like her, I rely heavily on British television — Downton Abbey, Sherlock Holmes, Call the Midwife, Doctor Who — for entertainment. Due to the way the Brits have series instead of seasons, I’m often between shows on PBS.org, and I have to wait f-o-r-e-v-e-r to watch Doctor Who on DVD because I don’t have cable. MacKenzie pointed me to CommonRoom’s list of A Few of My Favorite Korean Dramas. […]

  2. By K-Dramas Reccomended » Semicolon on February 25, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    […] King 2 Hearts, recommended at The Common Room. […]

  3. […] With an Accent: The King 2 Hearts. The Common Room: A Few of my Favorite Korean Dramas. […]

  4. […] Dramas I’ve completed, recommend, and reviewed: see here. […]

  5. By K-Dramas I Almost Liked | The Common Room on July 20, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    […] here anyway because they are darker, not family friendly,  or otherwise not a great fit with my other K-Drama reviews.  In the end, it’s all kind of […]

  6. […] Dramas I’ve completed, recommend, and reviewed: see here. […]

  7. By different ways to smoke weed on October 18, 2014 at 10:03 am

    different ways to smoke weed…

    A Few of My Favorite Korean Dramas | The Common Room…

  8. […] Dramas I’ve completed, recommend, and reviewed: see here. […]

  9. By More K-Drama Reviews | The Common Room on July 8, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    […] are not my reviews- Reader Martin in the comments here shared them with me and gave me permission to repost them here. […]

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