A quick romp through the K-dramas of 2019

This is not all the K-dramas of 2019, just ones I kind of liked or really liked or would have liked except for A or B, or watched in slack jawed comotose drolling stage because then I didn’t have to think about all the things I was purging to move to Malaysia (with zero sympathy at home), and it was better than my actually dealing with real life towards the end of that dreadful year. Who knew 2020 would be worse?

****Romance is a Bonus Book: Noona romance, which are just not usually my personal cup of tea, but I was okay with this one. It’s totally PG-13. Set in the book publishing and writing world with a seasoning of advertising and I loved it for all the book stuff. Charming, cute, funny.

That Psychometric Guy- Serial killer, plus a supernatural element where that psychometric guy can read people’s thoughts or memories by touching them, except his guardian’s/foster brother, who is a cop hunting for the serial killer who set their apartment building on fire when the two lads were neighbours. Hyung saved Psychometric’s life and that’s where their bond began. It’s kind of creepy, but has a fabulous bromance and a twist you probably didn’t see coming, and it wrung my heart and I liked it anyway.

Kill It (formerly Blue Eyes)- assassins trained from childhood, cops, a gorgeous dog, stylized fighting. I watched it all, but can’t say I strongly recommend it.

****Her Private Life- this was a lot of fun, and it starred two of my favourites, Park Min-young, Kim Jae-wook. There were no serious villains, one came close but she is more bumbling and foolish than evil all the way down. The assistant director of an art museum is highly competent at her job, but hides from her boss- and most other adults- that in her private life she is the die hard fan-girl of a Kpop star, the head of his fan-club, and the host of a popular message board and blog about him. She expects to be promoted when her boss is removed from her position for embezzling funds or some suchcorporate high jinks. Instead, a KoreanAmerican artist is imported from the U.S. to take the job. They have some misunderstandings at first, but I liked the way they handled them. She gets mistaken for the girlfriend of her favourite pop star and comes in for a lot of crazy abuse from netizens. Her new boss is in a position to credibly claim that the boyfriend is him, not the popstar, so he suggests they pretend to be a couple briefly to protect her from the abuse. You know where that’s going. The only real caveat I remember is that for a time, one of the misunderstandings is that he thinks she and her bestie are lovers and not just friends, and there’s the heavy handed message about protecting sexual minorities, but once that is resolved things improve. There is also a birth secret and a couple other makjang elements ,but overall this was a sweet, fun romantic comedy.

The Secret Life of My Secretary- It was such a great show in so many ways, and lots of people like it. But there is a theme I just could not stomach. The secretary has a crush on her boss, and she is very, very good at her job. He has a disability- he has face blindness. Through a couple of mix ups he meets his secretary all dressed up and outside of work and he thinks she’s somebody else (an arranged date)- she misses her first chance to correct the error and then continues to date him, pretending to be the other woman just because she has a crush on him. There was really a whole lof of cuteness about all of this show, but I cannot get beyond the betrayal, how long and how often she tricked the boss using his disability, because she liked him. Shudder.

Search Query: WWW- The internet world and ethics and dating- the actors were strong, the female characters were brilliant and interesting, the relationships all very different. I liked it for the most part but found the main leads relationship frustrating and sad.

***Watcher- POlice corruption, suspense, a decades old murder to revist, who are the good guys, who are the bad guys, and more. I thought it was really well done.

Level Up- meh. Romance, a starter company, a gaming company and take-overs and restructuring. Cotton candy. Not that there is always something wrong with that.

Hotel Del Luna – Hotel de Luna is a hotel for the dead, a place they pass through before moving on to the afterlife. Sometimes special services are performed, for a fee. IU has been running the hotel for centuries and she has a hard, bitter grudge to get over before she can move on. Her hotel requires one human staffer to help be the go between for the ghost and living world, and Yeo Jin Gu plays that role beautifully. He is a total coward and also just entirely too kind to let even a bitter, grudge holding ghost suffer. IU’s costumes alone deserve an Emmy- they were gorgeous and absolute perfection. There isn’t a single theological point in this show that I agreed with, but as a fictional ghost story it was quite interesting, the actors were terrific, and the writing- well, it’s the Hong sisters.

Class of Lies- Corruption in one of the upper crust schools, murder, under-age prostitution, and lots of mysteries to unravel.

***When the Devil Calls Your Name- The second half mostly fizzled out. I did like the end for the most part. I loved the first half and the sound track is just incredible. The music industry, selling your soul to the devil and what that really means, and what happens when he comes to tell you your time is up?

***Welcome 2 Life- a rich, selfish, greedy lawyer known for defending scum used to date a righteous cop and now they fight all the time. He gets on the wrong side of one of his clients and ends up in a coma, then wakes up in an alternate universe where he’s not rich or selfish, he’s a good guy, a prosecutor who works with the cops, especially with his… wife. Also in this world, they have a child. evHe spends a lot of time trying to get back to his own world and then he spends more time and energy trying to stay where he is. Stars Rain, and I totally enjoyed this (although the creepy killers were creepy killers). The supernatural part never does get explained to my satisfaction and I just pretended not to notice. Did I mention it stars Rain?

***Be Melodramatic- This was poignant, heartwrenching, and sheer delight and love and laughter. Very fun. Obligatory alternative lifestyle character, just so you know.

***Graceful Family- Wicked, powerful Chaebol family, crazy birth secrets, unsolved murder, wrong person framed, this show will make you laugh out loud and also break your heart and exasperate you along the way, but I would consider watching it again for the antics of Mo Seok Hee (Im Soo Hyang):

I would name my next daughter Mo Seok Hee if I were to have another daughter, so it’s just as well I am far too old for that.

The Great Show: So much cute. Lots of adorable kids, and a blended family learns to be a family for real.

*****When the Camellia Blooms **- probably my favourite, although painful because there is a nasty serial killer and some people I liked become victims. Adorable child. And Kang Ha Neul plays a bumbling, hayseed cop, totally different from any other role I have ever seen him in, and he was brilliant.

Vagabond * I know it’s kind of trash, but I don’t care. Stars Lee Seung-gi, Bae Suzy. Lee Seung-gi, an orphan himself, has to bring up his nephew when the boy’s father dies and the mom abandons him. IT’s hard, and they fight and argue but love each other. Seung-gi supports them through his desperate, I’ll do anything for cash stunt work and his martial arts studio. The young nephew dies on a plane crash that turns out to be an international scandal, involving arms dealing, assassins, corporate terrorists, spies, and more. Lee Seung-Gi’s character has more lives than a troop of back alley cats, and I kind of loved how they just hung a bell on that by having people commenting repeatedly about his crazy luck.Lots of action. Lots and lots of lots of action.

Extraordinary You- a comic book comes to life and the characters who realize they are just characters in a comic book struggle to live their own independent lives and have losing battles with the artist, who never is revealed. It was super cute. Sad in places, but very cute high school drama.

The Lies Within- Lee Min Ki, an actor I love to watch, and Lee Yoo Yong, who is also brilliant but was not given enough interesting things to do here. Lee Min Ki plays a cop. Lee Yoo Song is the daughter of a well known and highly placed politician. Her husband is kidnapped, her father murdered and there’s a desperate hunt to find her husband before he dies. Meanwhile, at intervals, the kidnapper releases body parts- and the coroner tells them the surgery looks to be expertly done and there’s every reason to believe the victim has survived. So gross and very disturbing all the way to the absolutely insane end. The acting was fabulous. The writing almost deserves an award of its own just for the phantasm-esque trolling of viewers. I actually, at one point, thought of this very ending and dismissed it, just sure no drama could be that crazy. It was.

Leverage – This is a remake of the American show, just different enough to keep it interesting.

**Catch the Ghost- not supernatural, the Ghost is the nickname for a subway serial killer. A rookie at the Subway Police has a private reason for being here- her autistic twin sister disappeared a few years ago and she believes her sister was his first victim. She breaks the rules and exasperates her boss, who is a stickler for rules. Sometimes I found her rule breaking maddening, and sometimes it was just what needed to be done. Over all, I liked this one, and I loved the actors involved.

Asterisks are ones I particularly liked, but that doesn’t mean you’ll like them.=)

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  1. Poppy Socks
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Hurrah! Thank you!

  2. Jayne
    Posted April 5, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I always like seeing your reviews of K-dramas because we have similar enough tastes that you often give me ideas for what to watch next. It didn’t work this time. All of them were either things that I already watched (and mostly liked) or things that I just wouldn’t even want to try. I tend to avoid anything that does not have a happy ending. My range is clearly more limited than yours. Anyhow, I still appreciated seeing your thoughts.

    I liked Welcome2Life a lot because reformed bad guys is my favourite theme. But I had to fast forward through the creepy killers. I just can’t handle those.

    • Headmistress
      Posted April 5, 2020 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      I do prefer happy endings myself. And I do a lot of crochet or calligraphy practice during creep killers.

      That psychometric guy was gutting. I kept hoping that was not going to be the ending. But I loved it because the psychometric guy is the one who helped his hyung to feel.

    • Headmistress
      Posted April 5, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      What were your favourites of the year? I forgot, the other thing about the k-dramas I watched last year is that my scoundrel of a cheating scumbag husband watched some with me and he preferred not super romantic, and I threw in some not happy endings to throw him off the predictability scent.

  3. Cat
    Posted April 6, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    This post reminded me that I started Her Private Life (by myself) and That Psychometric Guy (with a younger sister) and really need to finish them, haha.

    Also Welcome 2 Life sounds fun, might have to check that one out!

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