K-Dramas since moving to the Philippines

Catching up on my dramas has been slow. On the plus side, we have a young neighbor who is Korean and teaches at our school, and we have him over for dinner a couple times a week, I’m honorary Auntie to another young Korean teacher at the school, my closest coworker (I’m at the high school library every day now) is Korean and gives me tips, 3/4 of the school students are Korean, there are Korean restaurants all over and a couple Korean stores, one of which carries K-dramas which even come with English subs, and there are Korean books at the library. My husband mainly works on the other side of the school and the teacher in the room next to his is also Korean (her husband has the room next to mine) and his co-worker and mine keep us in kimchi fairly regularly. My tutor for the local dialect (Visaya/Bisaya) also loves K-dramas so we get to chat about those every once in a while. It’s really quite lovely.

My young neighbor is male and he did his military service in Korea but in a joint exercise with the American military, so his English is pretty terrific.

Meanwhile, off the top of my head, here are some K-dramas I watched in the last seven or eight months:

Suspicious Partners: This was An interesting combination of funny, cute, romantic, and creepy scary, and lots of adorable.  The killer villain was scary, the other villain, an unjust official, was absolutely infuriating and obnoxious and there was absolutely no reason for him to keep being so awful.
Lead is the same actor who was in Healer (Ji Chang Wook), who is always adorable.

Nam Ji Hyun plays a girl who used to be a martial arts major who switches to law because she is upset about about the way there is one law for the poor and one law for the rich, even though she really doesn’t have a head for it and has to study harder than everybody else.  She is wrongfully arrested for murder and Ji Chang Wook’s character is the one who prosecutes her, but he knows she is innocent. He ends up withdrawing charges at the cost of his career.  Meanwhile, there’s a real killer and a bigger story than they know going on, not to mention the romance.  This one was nice for me with my bandwidth issues in the Philippines,  because episodes are only half an hour or so in length.

Chicago Typewriter-  Oh, this was so beautiful.  I could say that about three or four recent dramas- they seem to be getting really artsy and pretty, or at least more of them are.

Two boys and a girl are active in the Korean resistance during the Japanese occupation in the 20s or 30s (I forget).  In the current era, one of them has reincarnated as a gifted, driven, diligent, and successful author with a painful past (Yoo Ah In, and he’s wonderful and all is forgiven). The girl is now a vet (as in animal doctor) with a spooky past, a failed attempt at an Olympic Gold medal in shooting and occasional strange dreams where she shoots somebody and it’s the wrong guy.  Go Kyung Po is only a ghost.  He’s been trapped all these years in a specially made vintage typewriter with Korean keys (I covet that typewriter)  and he doesn’t know why.  They are reunited, although for quite some time only Ah In’s character can see the ghost, which makes for some hilarious shenanigans. To jog your memory,  Yoo Ah In played the rebel, masked resistance fighter in Syungkyungang Scandal, he was in Punch, and other things, including Six Flying Dragons and, regrettably, Fashion King.  He’s brilliant here and it’s a beautiful show, and was beautiful….
All the way to the end.  Wow.  Two or three caveats for those who care:  There’s a ghost, reincarnation is a major theme, and a kind of significant (and very annoying) continuity error/ contradiction in what the ghost says he cannot do and what he has already done, and some very maekjang elements.  But they are really unavoidable if you’re going to have anything at all about the Japanese occupation in your story.  For me, the reincarnation stuff was a constant irritation and annoyance, and it does kind of drive the whole story- there is no story without it.  So,  if you can overlook those, there is so much pathos and humor, warmth, thoughtful approaches to forgiveness and repentance and what happens when you cannot admit you are wrong, really terrific and cool stuff about being a writer and what that means-  and the acting, oh, my goodness.  The acting.  Yoo Ah In, about that Fashion King monstrosity, all is forgiven.  Im Soo Jung, who ordinarily I consider a negligible actress, made me cry more than once, and made me believe she was crying.  Well done.  Go Kyung Po is always delightful.   I said Yoo Ah In was brilliant- and he is, he is a polished, sparkling gem, glittering all over.  The writing is pretty fabulous, too. The music is gorgeous, the opening credits stunning, the cinematography lovely, and the story has oh so many feels.

Mystery Queen: Do not bother.  It had a good beginning, but one of the stupidest endings I have ever seen.  A housewife secretly studies crimes, and finds herself also secretly helping the police to solve local crimes while fielding calls from her mother-in-law, who really does adore her to death but is also quite self-centered and demanding. The crimes escalate, and eventually she’s helping to catch serial killers. This was a lot of fun at first, (except for the serial killing part, obviously).  I’m  at the point where I am concerned that the direction it’s going is going to result in her leaving her husband, and I won’t love it nearly as much.

Update: Oh, good grief.  This is so lame. It has the worst ending.  It just fizzled. We don’t ever really get resolution about anything, and it’s abrupt. It’s like everybody just threw in the towel and said let’s quit, and so they suddenly did and they made up the quickest ending they could on the fly on their way out the door in a race to see who could escape first.  Don’t even start this.

Goblin– Beautiful.  Funny.  Heartrending.  Adorable.  Hilarious.  The scene with the two guys and the green onions, oh, my, goodness.  You’ve got reincarnation stuff, a ghost or two or a hundred, fortunate telling, a weird (albeit kind of interesting) idea about God (or god? I was never sure), Angels of Death, especially one in particular, and this weird thing that ought to be disturbing but it works where a guy cursed to live forever and be a goblin until he finds his bride at least meets his bride, only she’s still a high school student and he’s 780 years old or something.  All the acting was fabulous.  This is one of my favourites.

Hwarang– lots of very pretty people and a bromance I could really get behind and appreciate. Fun.

Legend of the Blue Sea– Lee Min Ho,need-I-say-more-I-think-not, Jun Ji Hyun (My Love From a Star) and egad this gorgeous actress is funny!  Parts of the story line were lame, the villains were annoying and nasty, but the two leads, plus a fairly substantial  cameo from Jo Jung Suk (the much beloved earnest soldier in King 2 Hearts, the bashful singer with stage fright in What’s Up, and the nearly a gangster thug brother in the heartbreaking movie My Annoying Brother) left me satisfied, although I wouldn’t put it in my top 20.







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

K-Dramas I almost liked– most of these are  darker than I usually prefer. Some are also-rans- I thought I was going to like them, which is why I started reviewing, but they there were just too flawed.

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. I’ve watched a handful of J-dramas (Japanese) and TW (Taiwanese) dramas, but I vastly prefer the K-dramas, even though I know more Japanese – I got an A in my Japanese 101 class back in the day, when we actually lived in Japan and once I even knew both hiragana and katakana- but still K-dramas interest me vastly more).

Need to read still more about K-dramas?


Dramabeans– must reading, as long as you can filter out the point that they see misogyny everywhere, but never met a scene with a girl kicking a boy in the crotch for no good reason that doesn’t make them chortle with glee.

Outside Seoul

Noonas Over Forks

Couch Kimchi

Learn more background stuff about Korean culture from askakorean

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  1. Stephanie
    Posted September 1, 2017 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    I am glad you are still enjoying your kdramas, and I envy you a but that you have someone with whom you can discuss them. I loved Goblin and Chicago Typewriter. Both gave me that great bittersweet ache of sorrow and friendship. If you gave not tried it yet, I recommend Father is Strange. It is ling (52 episodes), but it so well written, that I stuck with it to the end.

  2. Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    The first three or four lines of your review for Chicago Typewriter have completely sold me on it. I’m gonna watch it.

    • Headmistress
      Posted January 22, 2018 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      Hope you love it as much as I did!

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