Drama Reactions & Reviews
Romantic-comedy drama recommendations
by | November 28, 2009 | 284 Comments

Since I’ve had a lot of requests for drama recommendations following You’re Beautiful, I thought I’d put this up as its own post. I may be spotty with some of the other genres out there, but I’m ALL about the trendy drama! The following is a list of my recommendations (and some that are not recs but merely possibilities) for trendies that have a similar tone and vibe to You’re Beautiful.

I’m sure many of you have seen many (maybe even all) of the dramas on this list. But some others who haven’t racked up as many drama-watching hours may want a guide to help them navigate the many, many offerings out there.

First, we’ll start with the other the Hong Sisters dramas…

 
DELIGHTFUL GIRL CHUN-HYANG (2005)

What it’s about: Modernized reworking of classic Korean folktale of a Romeo and Juliet-esque couple from Joseon times. Jae Hee and Han Chae-young are forced together at a young age, then fall in love as they mature.
Why you might like it: Jae Hee, Jae Hee, Jae Hee. Brilliant comic timing and heartfelt emotion. The situations are laugh-inducing and it’s a lot of fun; the couple bickers their way throughout but you can feel the love between them. Trademark Hong Sisters jokes — every episode ends with a sageuk parody that plays off the traditional folktale with a modern sense of humor.
Why you might not: This is my favorite Hong Sisters drama, but remember that it’s their first. If you’re watching it after seeing their others, keep in mind that what was fresh and new in 2005 may now seem common. Also, some people hate the second leads, particularly the male (even if it is a yummy Uhm Tae-woong!). Maybe it helps to remember that he’s based on the evil, possessive magistrate from the folktale.

 
MY GIRL (2005)

What it’s about: A girl who’s gifted at telling lies is hired to impersonate a long-lost granddaughter of an old, ailing rich man. Her warm, bubbly personality clashes with the old man’s cold, businesslike grandson, so naturally they fall in love.
Why you might like it: Super chemistry between Lee Da-hae and Lee Dong-wook. (Also: Lee Junki.) Lots of comedy, cute romantic moments, quotable lines.
Why you might not: I loved Lee Da-hae’s bubbliness, but some found her too much. The last few episodes get a little too angsty, and the big conflict is a little contrived. Still, it’s one of the better/best offerings in the trendy drama genre. If you liked You’re Beautiful, this is the first drama I’d recommend.

 
FANTASY COUPLE (2006)

What it’s about: Reworking of American film Overboard. A privileged, snobby heiress loses her memory, and the blue-collar worker she mistreated decides to get his revenge by pretending she’s his girlfriend. He brings her home and puts her to work.
Why you might like it: It’s less angsty than the other Hong Sisters dramas. Han Ye-seul completely reinvented her image with a great rich-bitch characterization; she doesn’t hold back and really goes for it. Quirky side characters like loopy Kang-ja add a fun touch. A subplot actively mocks Autumn Love Story.
Why you might not: The Anna & Chul-soo relationship is funny and cute, but not overtly romantic (perhaps this is a plus for some). I consider the directing to be the weak link, and while it isn’t outright bad, it veers into the slapstick. The writing is better than the iffy directing.

 
HONG GIL DONG (2008)

What it’s about: Fusion sageuk reimagining of Joseon hero Hong Gil Dong, a Robin Hood-like crusader for the poor. “Fusion” means that while the setting is in the 1600s, it has a modern sensibility and sense of humor.
Why you might like it: Kang Ji-hwan is awesome. He starts out a lazy, swaggering, troublemaking rascal, but that’s because Hong Gil Dong is an illegitimate son and therefore was unable to fulfill his dreams. His pairing with a cheery Sung Yuri is great, and she changed a lot of people’s minds about her acting, formerly deemed subpar. Jang Geun-seok plays a cool-headed prince. There’s comedy and wackiness, but also political machinations and a royal coup plot that adds complexity.
Why you might not: I liked the ending and wrote my big explanation in the finale recap, but many did not agree. Because this has more weighty plot matters, the humor scales back and the conspiracy takes over in the last third. I think it gets downright slow toward the end, before it picks up in the run-up to the finale. The humor is a little slapstick for my taste.

 
And then the rest, in no particular order:

 
FULL HOUSE (2004)

What it’s about: A girl’s debt-ridden friends sell her house for the money. She comes home from vacation to find that a surly movie star has moved in. Homeless and alone, she works as his maid to earn her keep.
Why you might like it: Rain and Song Hye-gyo are cute as a bickering couple, and this was one of the early “contract romance” dramas. It was huge in the ratings and is probably one of the most-watched early Hallyu dramas.
Why you might not: Don’t think too hard, or the logic might collapse (even the premise doesn’t quite hold up — your friends sell your house and you don’t fight back?). This is one of those “shut your brain off and enjoy” dramas; particularly toward the end, the plot stops making total sense in its efforts to keep the couple apart. The romance is cute but not necessarily romantic. Still, it’s an easy, mostly fun watch.

 
MY NAME IS KIM SAM-SOON (2005)

What it’s about: Like Bridget Jones, the lead is a 30-year-old who isn’t the typical pretty skinny girl that most guys go for. She’s loud, hot-tempered, and likes to eat. Her boss is a cold, unfeeling type with whom she agrees to a contract romance in order to get his mother off his back about marriage.
Why you might like it: It sounds typical, but the execution makes this great; it was a huge phenomenon and broke 50% ratings. At times funny, at times heartwarming, the writing is solid and Kim Sun-ah and Hyun Bin work great together. You should really see this drama if you’re a fan of rom-coms.
Why you might not: Maybe the hype has turned you off? I do think it gets built up too much, but it’s a very solid drama.

 
GOONG (PRINCESS HOURS) (2006)

What it’s about: Modern Cinderella story with a twist, in that Korea is imagined as a monarchy; a handsome prince is the source of every young girl’s fantasy. A normal girl is forced to marry the prince because of a decades-old pact between their grandfathers. She is brought into the palace, where she starts out clumsy and out of place as she is trained to be a princess. The awkward couple gradually falls in love.
Why you might like it: Beautiful visuals, gorgeous soundtrack, amazing costumes. Yoon Eun-hye shot to stardom, as did Joo Ji-hoon, and this drama was a huge phenomenon with its young fanbase. The intriguing twist (an imagined Korean monarchy) adds interest to the opposites-attract romance. A gentle, caring second male lead makes for a good love triangle as Yoon Eun-hye is caught between the nice prince and the cold one.
Why you might not: The extension surely hurt the pacing of the later episodes, and this drama got downright sloooow. The political conspiracy was drawn out and sucked fun out of the latter half. The ending (which is a puzzler) feels sloppy. But the other elements are strong enough that it’s well worth a look.

 
WHAT’S UP FOX? (2006)

What it’s about: A 33-year-old woman has a one-night stand with a guy 9 years her junior — her best friend’s brother. At first they agree to ignore it, but they start to fall for each other and she fights the attraction because the age gap is such an obstacle, particularly when she’s being courted by a handsome, charming doctor her own age.
Why you might like it: This comes from the writer of My Name is Kim Sam-soon, and like that drama, the writing is solid and the acting very strong by leads Go Hyun-jung and the adorable Chun Jung-myung.
Why you might not: It has a mellower, low-key vibe with a realistic air, and it isn’t as outrageous or outright comical as some other rom-coms. The chemistry is great, but some people have a problem with the age gap. (I think they make it work.)

 
SOULMATE (2006)

What it’s about: A light, humor-filled drama about the modern dating world, told through the relationships of six main characters. Each person has a different dating philosophy, demonstrated by how they view the concept of soulmates. (Is fate something that comes to you, or are you in charge of making your own?)
Why you might like it: Super, super editing and plotting. The storytelling plays with nonlinear structure, and in earlier episodes, one half of the episode tells something from the main girl’s perspective, while the other half takes the guy’s perspective, and we see how the two halves fit together by episode’s end. Clever writing, great dialogue. Lots of fun. It’s short and sweet at 12 episodes, and was completely written in advance of its broadcast.
Why you might not: I love this drama to pieces, but it may be a little slick and fast for some others. It’s a little risque and definitely not as chaste as most kdramas, but I think that’s a welcome thing.

 
BAD FAMILY (2006)

What it’s about: When a family is killed in a car crash, the only survivor is a little girl who suffers amnesia. Her uncle hires a “fake family” to act as her family to help her recover until he can get to the bottom of the car accident.
Why you might like it: Hilarious! The fake grandpa flirts with his fake daughter-in-law. The fake uncle starts to like his fake niece. They all have to juggle their regular lives outside their family performance. Comedy abounds and Kim Myung-min, in a rare comic performance, is fantastic as an uneducated ex-gangster; Nam Sang-mi is in one of her more adorable roles. Heechul plays a runaway hired to be the fake brother. This drama isn’t as romance-heavy (although there is romance), and is more about the wonderful shenanigans of the fake family as they go from fighting all the time to forming actual bonds.
Why you might not: I remember hating the first episode, which was boring. But after that, I fell in love!

 
DAL JA’S SPRING (2007)

What it’s about: Perhaps inspired by the j-dorama “office lady” genre, this series features the romantic foibles of a 33-year-old professional woman who’s unpracticed in dating; Lee Min-ki becomes Chae Rim’s romance coach.
Why you might like it: Funny, sweet, adorable. Chemistry is great, Dal Ja is lovable, and Lee Min-ki is perfect. Lots of pop-culture parodies and funny situations. Best of all, it explores friendships and working relationships in addition to the romance.
Why you might not: It was extended by two episodes, and while I almost don’t even notice, it does slow a teeny bit. Chae Rim’s makeup and hair takes a little getting used to. But definitely worth a watch.

 
COFFEE PRINCE (2007)

What it’s about: (As if I have to even tell you!) A tomboyish girl who is regularly mistaken for a boy takes a job at a cafe whose concept is to hire only good-looking guys. She falls for her boss, who falls for her too — while thinking she’s a boy.
Why you might like it: Gong Yoo’s portrayal of conflict is complex and nuanced. Jeremy in You’re Beautiful took a comic bent, but Gong Yoo’s exploration of his feelings is wrought with emotion. Yoon Eun-hye dove into this character and made it her own. The other “princes” are great to watch, and the director injects a breezy, refreshing air to the atmosphere. Fantabulous music selection.
Why you might not: The extension hurt the ending, and the tension drops off toward the end. Otherwise, this is one of the shining highlights of the trendy kdrama.

 
THE STORY OF HYANG DAN (2007)

What it’s about: What Shrek did for the Western canon of fairy tales, Story of Hyang Dan does for traditional Korean folktales. A modern comic spin takes us through multiple folk stories while centering the plot around the one about Chun-hyang and Mong-ryong (which is the basis for Delightful Girl Chun-hyang). However, this drama twists the tale to speculate what would happen if Chun-hyang were a selfish brat and Mong-ryong fell for her servant girl instead.
Why you might like it: You like irreverent, humorous reworkings of classics, and/or light-hearted fusion sageuks. Choi Shi-won (Super Junior) and Seo Ji-hye have cute chemistry, and this is low-commitment at a mere two episodes. Modern parodies (Love Actually, Prison Break) are included among the folktale allusions (Iljimae, Shim Chung).
Why you might not: This is not a serious drama at all. It’s purely a short, entertaining goof. But cute and sweet all the same.

 
WHO ARE YOU? (2007)

What it’s about: A dad dies in an accident and is granted 49 days by a sympathetic Grim Reaper to come back using the body of a young man in a coma. He gets three hours a day to do for his daughter what he wasn’t able to do while he was alive. The body he “borrows” belongs to a cold businessman, and the three-hour body-jacking episodes turn the unsuspecting businessman’s life upside-down.
Why you might like it: Yoon Kye-sang is awesome. He does the body-switching surprisingly well, and his relationship to his ghost inhabitant develops with unexpected warmth.
Why you might not: The romance is funny and sweet, but mostly because of Yoon Kye-sang — Go Ara is rather flat. The drama gets off to a silly start, but get past the first few episodes and you may discover a gem.

 
LAST SCANDAL OF MY LIFE (2008)

What it’s about: Cinderella with a twist. An ordinary ajumma with a cheating husband and a kid runs into her first love, who is now a movie star (and faking his age as much younger). The movie star is horrified at how she’s let herself go over the years, but as they spend more time together when she is hired as his housekeeper, he sees past that and starts to fall for her again.
Why you might like it: Funny, fast-paced, and sweet! Rom-coms are often stronger in plot than in acting, but the benefit of having veteran actors is that they can ACT! Jung Jun-ho is fantastic as the pampered movie star, and Choi Jin-shil is winning as the ajumma.
Why you might not: If you’re still saddened over Choi’s death, you may not feel comfortable watching her last work. I personally think it’s a great way to remember her. If you don’t like the idea of watching an ajumma in love, well, you’re missing out!

 
BOYS BEFORE FLOWERS (2009)

What it’s about: Korean version of Japanese manga/anime/drama Hana Yori Dango. Poor girl gets a free ride to an exclusive, uber-rich high school ruled by the bored, privileged “F4″ clique. She offends the leader, who makes it his mission to terrorize her and eject her from the school. Surprisingly, she stands up to him and fights back, and he falls for her.
Why you might like it: The premise is great. Lee Min-ho burst on to the scene with a star-making performance as the mean F4 leader, and the whole country fell in love with his character. He made the drama worth watching for me.
Why you might not: Out of all the dramas on this list, this is the one that I most hesitate to recommend (and it comes with a lot of caveats). Poor writing wasted the great source material. Often, it was riddled with poor acting. Poor directing. Middling musical selections were overused and badly applied. The production was so fraught with accidents that the live-shoot system exhausted everyone involved, and the time contraint really shows. Crazy, illogical plotting and a second half that drags make this a frustrating watch — but an addicting one. On the other hand, I don’t regret watching it, and the fandom craze was hella fun.

 
Other possibilities that I won’t/can’t vouch for, but that others surely will:

My Love Patzzi (2002): Jang Nara has two awesome guys chasing after her and the interactions are cute, but I don’t think you can take this drama seriously; it’s a real lightweight. It’s an update of the Korean Cinderella (Kongji & Patzzi), where the person everything thinks is the good girl is actually fake, and the rude, troublemaking girl is actually the one you root for. At 10 episodes, it’s a fast series.

Attic Cat (2003): One of the first dramas to have a couple cohabitate (or, as I call it, using the forced proximity device). If Jung Da-bin’s death interferes with your enjoyment of her roles, you may not want to watch. Like with many stories when the couple lives together, there are contrivances to get one of them to leave, then return, then leave again, which you may find tiresome.

Capital Scandal (2007): A little slapstick with the humor, this drama places leads Kang Ji-hwan and Han Ji-min in 1920s Korea at the time of Japanese imperialism.

Bottom of the Ninth with Two Outs (2007): The baseball motif works with the story of a 30-year-old single woman and her romance with her best friend. Low-key and naturalistic with strong dialogue, it may be refreshing for some or too slow for others.

City Hall (2009): Don’t listen to me, listen to the fervent praise of all the die-hard City Hallers! Strong, mature chemistry between Kim Sun-ah and Cha Seung-won make this one enjoyable if you’re hankering to see something more than the typical chaste trendy-drama kisses and hand-holding.

Brilliant Legacy (Shining Inheritance) (2009): Romance with plenty of dramatic, makjang elements. One of the year’s highest-rated dramas and a hitmaker, catapulting careers for Han Hyo-joo, Bae Soo-bin, Moon Chae-won and Lee Seung-gi.

 
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284 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. obivia

    I’ve never wanted to watch Delightful Chunyang but since you recommend, I must concede–you’ve never failed us, Javabeans!

    I do reeeeeally enjoy Smile–it’s cute, endearing, sweet, hilarious, etc. The leads make me SQUEEEE!

     (1)


  2. rainey

    coffee prince!

    my girl!

    dal ja’s spring!

     (1)


  3. fizzle

    Great list – I agree with most of your choices, especially the Hong Sisters ones (minus Hong Gil Dong, though Kang Ji Hwan kind of makes up for everything wrong with that drama). It’s a shame I couldn’t get into You’re Beautiful.

    Only one I would add is I Love You/Saranghae. Really adorable, feel-good drama. I guess the age gap might turn people off, but I thought Seo Ji-hye and Ahn Jae Wook had great chemistry.

     (0)


  4. langdon813

    This is a GREAT list, and gives me 7 dramas that I haven’t seen yet to choose from. I loved You’re Beautiful and I’m thoroughly enjoying Smile, You, but the downside is having to watch them live. The wait from week to week is excruciating! These choices offer immediate gratification, which is awesome.

    Thanks JB!

     (0)


  5. Toya

    Funny that you mention City Hall because that’s what I have been watching now. I still gotta finish You’re beautiful though.

     (0)


  6. Angela

    Wow. The only one on this list I haven’t watched is WHAT’S UP FOX. I feel pathetic and old, lol. I just started Glass Slipper which is depressing beyond belief, so maybe I’ll go back and forth between these two when I can’t take the angst any longer! Thanks for the list!! ^_^

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  7. Sorrowmask

    Woah, thanks for your recommendation list… Surprisingly I watched most of them especially the ones you recommended at the top… ^^… I think it is kind of my taste…
    I didn’t watch City Hall, and the old dramas like Attic Cat and Love Patzzzi… I think I should watch Bad Family again as I dropped that drama after first 2 eps..
    Great work, javabeans!!

     (0)


  8. Emily

    After reading the reviews, I’ll try watching Soulmates and Bad Family. I know I’ll like Bad Family because of the cast. However, I’m apprehensive about Soulmates because I tend to like traditional heroines…kind, innocent, and young (Go mi Nyu is my all time favorite k-drama lead female). LOL. I am so indoctrinated by Confucianism it’s not even funny.

    I don’t agree with Who Are You? because it wasn’t that funny or that romantic. It felt more like a drama than anything else and it was really awkward watching the father take control of the body of the man that his daughter will be dating. For some people, it seemed to work but it totally squicked me out. The secondary characters (the art dealer and his inferiority-complexed girlfriend) were very blah. I never got into their storyline even though the guy is supposedly the villain.

    BTW, I was so surprised that your favorite Hong sisters drama was Delightful Girl. I felt for sure it would be Hong Gil Dong = )

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  9. Pigmom

    lol, i’m such a K-drama addict. I’ve seen everything on this list except The Story of Hyang Dan >.<
    How did i manage to watch so many K-dramas my whole life? XD XD XD. Now that YAB ended, im gonna start watching IRIS but i've never been a sucker for this genre though. Smile,you is really sweet and adorable so i'd recommend to anyone who likes light-hearted dramas and wants to have a good laugh. First few episodes may tire u out a bit but dont drop it! it gets better and better later on, and u might even find urself digging the lead couples more than TaeKyung-MiNam ^^

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  10. 10 rachel

    great recommendations…surprisingly, i have already watched most of them but there are a few in there that i intend on checking out (last scandal and what’s up fox). i’m even considering re-watching My Name is Kim Sam Soon again just b/c its just a classic and it never fails to make me laugh.

    another trendy drama both full of romance and laughs i would add is Love Marriage (2008). i thought it was a pretty fun and zippy watch.

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  11. 11 Eve

    I love most of these dramas but I just thought I would push Capital Scandal on people. It might be slap sticky in the beginning but I don’t think it lasts through the whole drama and the last few episodes are definitely the best which I think is uncommon in most dramas where the endings can be either too dramatic or too boring. It is just very well done.

    Also those of you looking in the comments for more recommendations: If you don’t mind jdramas, try Hana Yori Dango!

     (0)


    • 11.1 angelpur

      word

      capital scandal was truly amazing – loved the cast (although first time seeing kjh+hjm), story and music. the strong sense of mystery held me throughout the 16 eps, and the romance of course, which i thought was well done.

      and city hall people should give a go. the chemistry is A-MAZ-ING- it’s top notch, and for me it rivals the chemistry in coffee prince (an all time fave).

      hmmm, i disagree with brilliant legacy & who are you. after initially enjoying the first few episodes/first quarter of the drama, my ineterest seemed to wan. in brilliant legecy, i liked niether of the men, because i thought bae so bin was too stalkerish and i didnt believe his puppy love for hhj. for lsg, i wasn’t convinced by his acting. he changed too late in the series so i didnt like him as a character overall, but i liked him better in mgig.

      in who are you, i didnt like the main couple as well as the painter guy. for some reason, i was completley turned off by go ara.

       (0)


  12. 12 Lisa

    Nuts, I was hoping to see something I’ve missed, but I’ve either watched and loved, or started and didn’t really like that much, EVERY SINGLE DRAMA LISTED OMG

    I didn’t think I’d seen that many, wow.

    One not on the list is Biscuit Teacher! Gong Yoo plays a delinquent student, even though he is clearly too old lol, and he is awesoooooome! It’s from 2005 I think. Great watch. Lots of funny moments and great chemistry between GY and Gong Hyo Jin.

    Anyone looking to branch off to Jdramas should check out:
    Hana Yori Dango
    Nodame Cantabile
    Orange Days
    Kimi wa Petto
    Gokusen

    Those are my favorites. (:

     (0)


  13. 13 deannadsc

    …I’ve watched ALL the afore mentioned Romantic-Comedies you’ve mentioned( & have them on dvds, so that I can rewatch them anytime!!!), also based on your previous recaps & recommendations, JB!!! They’re ALL GEMS or better still, CLASSICS for me!!!
    …Thanks for your blogs, recaps & articles…I never fail to start & end my days w/ Dramabeans!!!

     (0)


  14. 14 JAM

    Ahhhhhhh! A list just in time to save me from withdrawal symptons after finishing Dal Ja’s Spring a couple of days ago. I’ve watched the first half of your recommendations already and will start on the 2nd half soon. Thanks a million!!!!!

     (0)


  15. 15 lenrasoon

    you know when you’re addicted to dramas when you watched the most recommended here lol

    the ones i didn’t watch yet was “What’s Up Fox?”, “Attic Cat” and “My Love Patzzi”

    of the dramas you recommended i didn’t like “Boys Before Flowers”, even though i’m a HUGE FAN of Hana Yori Dango (jdrama, anime and mangá…yeah i saw it all lol), but the acting, the music and the directing was awful, i like the first 13 episodes then i quit, but i miss watching Lee Minho since he saved the drama for me sometimes.

    the two of my favorites that people might not watch (since they not get the attention like the first ones lol) are “Bottom of the Ninth with Two Outs” sooo good, slow yeah but good and with great chemistry from the leads and “Capital Scandal” KANG JI HWAN honestly the man can do not wrong <3

    ah i don't know if "Hello My Teacher" with Gong Yoo is considered a rom-com but OMG he was so great in it!! people who like him must watch this<3

     (0)


  16. 16 pennylanechic

    thanks for the recommendations and I’m just happy that I’ve watched almost all of them or maybe I’m not that happy, since that means there’s only a few left for me to watch T___T But I haven’t watched Bad Family, I’m now adding it to my list of downloads ♥ as well as Last Scandal of my Life, however I don’t know why but I don’t really feel like watching Chun Hyang, sorry I know it’s your favorite :(

    Among the recommendations, I liked Who Are You & Boys over Flowers the least :( I just didn’t feel like watching them after a few episodes, it was nice but was forgettable :( didn’t make me look forward to watching future episodes.

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  17. 17 junghiwon

    SOULMATE. Definitely give it a try unless you hate any type of sex reference, and if that’s the case, I don’t know how you’ll get through life. :D jkjkjkjk

    I’d also like to vouch for Shining Inheritance. Some people might find it boring but I strangely found myself addicted to it. Lee Seung-gi is not one of the best actors but he is a pretty good one, and same goes to Bae Soo-bin. Han Hyo-joo overacted a bit in the beginning and Han Chae-young might seem flat, but I think they both did a great job with their characters. Especially HCY. I dunno why, she pulled off the inner conflicts pretty well.
    Plot was a bittttttttt unreasonable and the whole “how-the-hell-can-Grandma-do-that?!” uproar was a bit exaggerated. Not to mention the dad…though it kind of made sense. Hwan’s family also annoyed the hell out of me. But that’s just me. And Eunsung’s stepmom. But she made sense.
    I really think people should try it out though, it’s not for everybody and it’s not particularly special, but Hwan and Eunsung are adorable, Junse is so SWEET, and Seungmi…you could at least pity her. She’s not TOTALLY evil like her mom, at least.
    Angst and crying scenes get a bit dragged out, too.

    Wow. I’m terrible at reviewing dramas, dammit.

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  18. 18 Brendel

    My favorites- aside from You’re Beautiful- are;

    My Name is Kim Sam Soon
    Delightful Girl Chun-Hyang
    Full House
    My Girl
    Attic Cat
    Coffee Prince
    Bottom of the 9th with 2 Outs

    I also liked Soulmate, Which Star Are You From?, Who Are You?, BOF, My Love Patzzi… :-)

    Mental note to self: Watch Bad Family and continue watching Fantasy Couple

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  19. 19 Taohua

    There are only two dramas I haven’t seen on the list: Bad Family (which I’ve been meaning to b/c of KMM) and Capital Scandal (the setting sounds really interesting). Thank you for the recommendations!

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  20. 20 melica

    I loved City Hall! One of my all time favorites.

    I would also throw in That Fool. There is no sweeter love story than That Fool.

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  21. 21 Shay

    Wow, this list made me realize how many dramas I’ve watched since I started appreciating my Korean background (maybe 2 years ago?).
    I’m currently watching Smile, You & Creating Destiny :)

    Just to help others out, my personal favorites are (in order):
    You’re Beautiful
    Shining Inheritance
    My Name is Kim Sam Soon
    Last Scandal of My Life
    Goong
    Soulmate
    Hana Yori Dango! (I don’t care if it’s a J-drama, it’s awesomeeeee)

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can ever like Boys Before Flowers, My Girl, or Coffee Prince like the others. They were definitely entertaining, but eh, not my cup of tea.

    And I agree with melica, That Fool was just delightful.

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  22. 22 innocec3

    I have watched most of the dramas on the list. Delightful Girl Chun-Hyang and My Name is Kim Sam Soon are definitely my most favourite dramas. (along with Dal Ja’s Spring, My Girl, etc)

    I think I am going to try watching What’s Up Fox, because MNIKSS’ script was awesome.
    I watched Soulmate because i read your drama ratings, and man, it was such a good drama. I loved every little bits of it. I did think it took them way too long to meet each other :/ and it made me believe in soulmates more.

    Thanks for your recommendations!

     (0)


  23. 23 alison

    i have to agree with everything you recommended except for delightful girl chun hyang. i watched up to ep. 6 or 7 of it years ago, and i stopped. something about han chae young’s character (or maybe just her) really annoyed me and i couldn’t finish the drama.

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  24. 24 deeta

    I take offense whenever people say that Brilliant Legacy is full of makjang elements because I think it has one of the best writing I’ve seen and pretty contrary to the sudden rush of makjangs. There IS that one dimensional feeling to the characters (except for Hwan and Seungmi), but the story unfolds really nicely and the writer tries to explain the reasonings behind every plot twists she has.

    But total nods on the list! I would vouch for Capital Scandal and 9 End 2 Outs as well.

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  25. 25 Snikki

    This is great! Thanks, JB! I’ll do a dramathon on my Christmas break; I’ll refer to this list.

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  26. 26 luraaa

    I actually liked Chun Hyang more than Full House, and it’s probably because of the plot differences. True, Delightful Girl Chun Hyang was very refreshing at that time because I remember that our local television was broadcasting most of the Tragedy dramas (Season dramas), and seeing this on my television every night was wonderful. It was fun, new, and exciting. And I admit, I’m one of the people who hate Uhm Tae Woong’s character. But this show is really worth it, it’s not a complete waste of your time.

    I find Soulmate refreshing as well, for it’s very, very different from all the Korean dramas that I’ve seen. Too bad there’s no recurring season anymore.

    Goong was okay, and honestly (please do not kill me), I actually find it boring at times. It was only Yoon Eun Hye and Jo Ji Hoon that I enjoyed watching, so I found myself fastforwarding it at times.

    My Girl, meh. I like the couple, LDH and LDW, but it just wasn’t good enough for me to watch all over again. But I do think it’s enjoyable enough. Their scenes are worth it, actually. But the others, not that much (sorry about this).

    Coffee Prince is a very enjoyable drama, and it’s one of those few out there that is worth watching all over again. At first the concept of a girl acting like a boy turned me off, but then the plot completely changed after a few episodes which has got me hooked. The set was just oozing with chemistry.

    I was part of the Boys over Flowers craze when it was aired, and I gotta say, I was surprised JB when you included this drama in the list. I don’t think BoF is worth a recommendation, but since it is the Korean version of Hana Yori Dango, I guess that’s it’s only saving grace. The boys were lovely, I admit. But acting, directing, and the writing could have been better. (argh, I feel like I’m not still over it. But I think I am. It’s just a memory for me now when I look back at those crazy first three months of this year. Fun, but crazy.)

    Which now brings me to one of my favorite Japanese drama: Hana Yori Dango. That pretty much says it all. I think this is the one drama that I could never get tired of watching. Everything was just excellent. The writing, directing, music, acting, heck, even the smallest detail was amazing. Shots and scenes were breathtaking (especially in Season 2), and the music was soothing. There were a few flaws, but it has better stuff so you can just shove it away and not think about it. (Hmm. In fact, Season 2 got me raised eyebrows for a bit of inconsistency, but decided to not mull over it.)

    There are some good Japanese dramas out there if you are interested, and you can also start on what Lisa mentioned (although I’ve only seen Nodame and HanaDan).

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  27. 27 Protocol Snow

    Thanks for the list! Sooo many dramas X_X

    Bookmarked for after I finish You’re Beautiful ;)

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  28. 28 Pencaps

    As much as I love my trendy dramas, the melo’s are really where my heart’s at. I would seriously LOVE it if you, or maybe a guest reviewer could do some melodrama recommendations?

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  29. 29 pabo ceo reom

    I can’t decide if it’s awesome or pathetic that I’ve watched pretty much everything on that list (most noticeable exception is Fantasy Couple..will get to it).

    But of course I am proud to admit my trendy genre obsession! <3

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  30. 30 panshel

    Many thanks for this recommendation list, javabeans! I prefer romantic comedies more than any other genre, so naturally, my favorite dramas all come from this list. There are dramas listed that I’ve been meaning to watch but just haven’t gotten around to. I started the first episode of Bad Family but gave up, so maybe I’ll pick that up again.

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    • 30.1 cleopatra

      oooohhhhh l like this list especially city hall……

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  31. 31 Molly

    Thanks for the great list! This is my personal list of favorite dramas, in somewhat of a best-to-less-best order.

    - My Name is Kim Sam Soon (I love it for all the reasons that Javabeans mentioned, plus the adorable smiles of Hyun Bin. Watched it twice, no regrets!)
    - City Hall (I saw this over the summer and it’s hilarious. The chemistry is wonderful and the plot is interesting, even though it’s political)
    - My Girl (Funny! I’m one of those people who thought that Lee Da-hae’s bubbliness was over the top though. I didn’t notice it the first time I saw it, but the second time, I found it a bit overwhelming.)

    Notable mentions:
    - Full House (I saw this one a few years back, and it’s just too cute!)
    - Lovers in Paris (I saw this a few years back too, and can’t really remember much except that I liked it for the most part. The music also really stuck with me.)
    - My Fair Lady (It’s nonsensical at times and poorly written, but it’s also pretty to look at. The scenery’s great and the clothing choices were ostentatious but so cool to look at. I watched the whole thing despite my frustrations about the plot)
    - Goong (My first Yoon Eun-hye drama. Very slow midway through the drama, but I still liked it)

    I’ve also seen a few others, like Sweet Spy, What Star Are You From, I Really Really Like You…Which had fun moments but overall weren’t very memorable. With Boys Before Flowers, I agree with Javabeans. It’s an illogical drama but it sweeps you up. I stopped watching halfway though because of the illogical plot and addicting (in a bad way) music.

    I’m watching IRIS right now, and I am in love. Even if you’re not an action-movie person, I think you’d enjoy it. The plot is tight and the actors are great, Kim Tae-hee included for the most part. I hope they keep up the good work though! And Coffee Prince is something I really need to watch.

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  32. 32 LL

    I think all of my favorite Kdramas (Coffee Prince, Dal Ja’s Spring, City Hall, Gourmet, Soulmate) have been mentioned, but I wanted to add Long Vacation to the Jdrama list. It’s old, but good!

    There are a lot of popular and well-loved dramas that I just couldn’t stand because they got way too overwrought or repetitive. Delightful Girl Chun-hyang was one (Jae Hee just barely saved it for me), and I also felt that way about Full House, Attic Cat, and Goong (maybe the worst offender). In all of these, I had a hard time buying the love between the characters, and a harder time buying the reasons they were kept apart. It’s worth mentioning that I absolutely hate clingy second leads as a continual plot device/relationship obstruction, which all of these had in full force. (In Delightful Girl Chun-Hyang, it was Jae Hee’s old crush, not the businessman, that I felt that way about.)

    That’s just a warning to anyone who might feel similarly!

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    • 32.1 Petra

      Thank you for this. I hate the repetitive, clichéd dramas as well, so i felt the same way about full house and goong.
      But from the ones you like I’ve only seen Coffee Price so far( which is my all time favorite). I intend to watch the others as soon as possible.

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  33. 33 luraaa

    LL,

    Yes, Chun Hyang had two awful second leads. The girl was too clingy, which got me really irritated, and the guy was just too evil for me. (which means they did a good job, because I really hated them).

    Nothing much to say on Goong, I don’t really like it that much. It’s just one word for me: Fastforward. Again, YEH and JJH were great, but still, that’s what the FF button is for.

    On Long Vacation: How could I forget this drama? This was my first Kimura Takuya drama and I instantly fell in love with him. The music was great though, wasn’t it? I was first turned off with the age gap, but then I already forgot about it by the second episode.

    Love Generation is good as well. I mean, this starred Kimura Takuya and Matsu Takako, the Golden Combi of Japan.

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  34. 34 jacq

    I absolutely LOVED & ENJOYED every bit of You’re Beautiful. It was amazingly written and the cast was just perfect. Goong comes in second and I like My Name is Kim Sam Soon as well. I enjoyed th first 2/3 of Coffee Prince and quite quickly lost interests after the secret was reviewed and the tension dropped off. I just couldn’t finish the last few episodes (I tried and failed multiple attempts to finish th series). BOF, I enjoyd it somewhat towards the beginning (mostly because I loved the story and enjoyed Meteor Garden immensely) but quit watching after episode 12th. Jandi bugged me, Jihoo bugged me, the plot, writing, crazy music choices, everything seemed to bug me to the point that I stopped watching. LMH however, was great in it. Too bad he himself could not make me finish the rest….
    Japanese drama-wise, Long Vacation is classic, and I love Love Generation and Pride as well–Kimura Takuya is one of my all-time fav j-actors.

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    • 34.1 girlatsea

      I was exactly the same with Coffee Prince. I enjoyed the first 2/3 of it but I lost interest afterward (when the secret was revealed.) I tired REALLY hard to finish it but I just couldn’t..

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      • 34.1.1 Enz

        I am new to k dramas and watched coffee prince only recently. I LOVE it. For a drama that’s 5 years old, it doesn’t feel dated at all. And I still love it after the secret was out. One of my favorite scenes was when Han kyul ‘let’s’ eun chan go.. To Milan. A lot of ppl seem to have been disappointed with the last episode but I was not. Could be cos am Korean drama virgin and not have watched enough to know better :)

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  35. 35 LL

    luraaa,

    Haha, I fastforwarded through many sections of Goong, too. After a while, If the scene didn’t have Yoon Eun-Hye and Joo Ji-hoon, I just skimmed through as fast as I could while still being able to read the subtitles.

    Long Vacation did have great music! I loved Kimura Takuya in that as well… do you know of any other good dramas with him? I saw Pride, and I thought it was alright, but not great.

    I agree with you about Coffee Prince – I think it’s the only drama I’ve seen that I’ve rewatched in its entirety.

    As for Hana Yori Dango, I need to watch it again. I have to say I prefer Lee Min-ho to Matsumoto Jun, but I think in every other way, Hana Yori Dango is superior to BBF (except maybe in pure insanity).

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  36. 36 frash

    Ive seen nearly everything on your list ;D
    the ones i havent seen, I probably never will.
    And a few I tried to watch and ended up dropping. For instance ‘DELIGHTFUL GIRL CHUN-HYANG’ , I tried to. Marathoned my way through episodes 1-13, and couldnt stand watching it after that.

    Brilliant Legacy has such a dear place in my heart. It was the first drama I ever watched as it aired, so my emotional connection with these characters lasted months, rather than just a few days. The drama itself is far from perfect, but strangely satisfying when I finished it. This is probably one of the most frustrating dramas I’ve ever watched. I remember wanting to throw my laptop out the window at times, but even with that that, after the episode was over, I couldnt wait till the next week to see what happened. It’s not really my style either, I prefer (and by prefer, I mean 95% of dramas I let myself watch) light-hearted romance-comedies (though, I can still appreciate a deep romance, as long as there is no unnecessary drama), but this was very heavy. Very very heavy. Romance was definitely there, but I wouldnt call it the main focus. I still have trouble figuring out what the main focus was -not saying that they didnt know what direction they were going, because they did. It’s more like the it was there, I just have yet to put my finger on what ‘it’ is. I really dont know what it is that makes me love this drama. I dont even bother recommending it to my friends anymore, because I, myself, dont understand what’s so great about it. (That, and my cousin fell asleep after the first few episodes when I recommended it to her. haha) I dont know, but Brilliant Legacy made my year -and I dont even know why or how.
    /rant.

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  37. 37 Amy

    I’ve watched a majority of the dramas recommended on this list and I gotta say, of the ones that I did watch, none of the humor in any of them were a match for that in “You’re Beautiful.” Maybe it’s because I’m freshly coming off from YB’s final broadcast, but I haven’t ever laughed as hard as I have for K-drama than when I watched a couple of scenes from YB. Sure some of it was intentionally slap-sticky and there was a lot of toilet humor, but man, YB was fun.

    ….writing all of that did not help fill my YB void at all whatsoever, lol.

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  38. 38 YB

    I love your list!! and in a way I’m embarassed that I know every single one of these dramas.
    A lot of these dramas are the ones that are sort of unbelievable and seem stupid, but you watch them and it just makes you all bubbly and happy inside. Would a bunch of men really need someone to tell them to figure out that their coworker is a girl? or that there can be such a school as Shinhwa where students can burn bikes and throw eggs at their classmates?
    But I doubt anyone really cares. If a drama makes you smile (inside or out), it’s a (relative) success.

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  39. 39 saranga

    sangdoo let’s go to school (2003) is a really wonderful drama as well. it stars rain (his first drama!), gong hyo jin, and lee dong gun. rain’s acting is phenomenal, and i like to think that i am not biased. lol not sure if the series was a hit though, or how much press it got. i wasn’t tuned into kdramas or kpop back while at my very american high school.

    it has some wonderful older actors as well, and it has some belly-achingly hilarious moments, but it is also a tearjerker. but it is extremely sweet and funny, and the lead actors give the drama such incredible charm. i always tell people to watch this drama!!

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  40. 40 yeindarrrling

    you totally read my mind! after i finished you’re beautiful; i’ve been desperately trying to find a new romantic-comedy drama to watch. you definitely saved my life with this recommendations list. thanks so much!

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  41. 41 jackie

    haha. i’m one of the people who thought lee da-hae was disgustingly overacting the bubbliness in my girl. i kind of hated that drama for the first 7 or 8 episodes, and it was only because i read all of the ending spoilers that i continued watching. i thought the only reason the drama was worth watching at all were the last three episodes. guess i’m a fan of the angst factor =)

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  42. 42 Fauvish

    I’ve seen most of the recommended list. Ha! (maybe since I’ve frequently used your list to pick dramas XD)Though i have yet to watch Fantasy couple.. but I will soon. Have to complete my Hong Sisters drama list right?

    Coffee Prince, I’ve just started rewatching it for the third time (in celebration of Gong Yoo’s impending release from the army). I totally love this drama! My other favorites are Kim Sam Soon, My Girl , You’re Beautiful Bad Family, Briliant Legacy (Lee Seung Gi is just adorable here and so is Han Hyo Joo) and Dal Ja’s spring.

    I didn’t really like Full House.. it was just meh. And Goong, well ot had its nice sides (and it was the 2nd kdrama I ever watched) but it was soooo draggy in the middle.

    I dunno what it is with the romanic comedy genre.. the ingredients are usually the same (poor girl, rich boy, nice 2nd boy, clingy second girl, lot’s of obstacles to keep them apart, a time leap and usually a weak final episode), but it’s still my favorite genre.

    As for a recent romcom that is awesome in my eyes: smile, you. I love the leads together. Such chemistry.

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  43. 43 Toya

    I just had a strange thought. What I thought was, wouldn’t Kang Ji-hwan make a great Monkey King for Journey to the West? Don’t ask me why I just thought it would be fun to see him in that role. Ending random comment!

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  44. 44 Emi

    I’ve seen most of the dramas on this list (or at least some of each one– I’m in the middle of Fantasy Couple right now) and my favorite is Last Scandal. I enjoyed that one so much! The chemistry was amazing, and I was so excited when they were going to make a sequel. *sigh* Such a shame about that :( Coffee Prince and 2 Outs in the 9th are also very high on my list.

    I’d like to add Sweet 18 to the list. It was fun and cute, and the chemistry between Lee Dong Gun and Han Ji Hye is also great.

    Snow White/Taste Sweet Love was ok also, though their attempts to make Kim Jung Hwa look ugly were ridiculous ^^;;

    Country Princess is another one of my favorites. It also has a lead guy who is cranky and surly, and a heroine who is outgoing and enthusiastic. I like the cranky type of male lead, which explains my love for Tae-Kyung in You’re Beautiful :)

    And I agree that everyone should check out Biscuit Teacher/Hello My Teacher. Gong Yoo is great in it *_*

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  45. 45 luraaa

    LL,

    I don’t really want to compare Lee Min Ho and Matsumoto Jun on who was the best Domyouji, because I consider them completely two different entities. LMH was, is, and will always be Gu Jun Pyo in BoF, and there is no one who can play that role again. That’s the same case with Jun’s Domyouji. And yes, HanaDan is better than BoF.

    On Kimura Takuya: I LOVE Pride, and I don’t know why. I love Kimura and Takeuchi Yuko together,although I feel like betraying some of my fellow fangirls who are fans of the Golden Combi, because I also love Kimura-Matsu. I’ve seen some of his dramas such as Hero (series/SP/movie) and A Million Stars falling from the Sky. I like Hero, it’s very entertaining, and as for Million Stars, it’s not your typical drama. It’s dark and angsty, and you’ll see a different Kimura here (and a sexy one, I might add. But then again, when was he never sexy?)

    Alright, I’m digressing a bit. I apologize. But yeah. Rom-coms are feel-good shows when you feel like your life is bleak and miserable. :)

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  46. 46 Amg1

    Thanks a lot. Here is a list of my favorite K-Dramas. I have seen them all! For some reason I stop watching US programing, so I am thankful to have found a better alternative, I have become a Drama Addict (Junky) Hell Yeah!!!!!!!

    A Love To Kill, A Mans Story, Attic Cat, Autumn Tale, Cinderella Man, Coffee Prince, Delightful Girl Choon-Hyang, Full House, He Who Can’t Marry,, IRIS, My Fair Lady,
    Phoenix, Que Sera Sera, Shining Inheritance, Smile, You, Stained Glass, Spring Waltz, Summer Scent, Surgeon Bong Dal Hee, The Vineyard Man, Triple, Winter Sonata, Witch Yoo Hee. You’re Beautiful.
    I cant stop the madness, thanks for the “FIX” JB……… :O

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  47. 47 hsinya

    Just had to jump in and vouch for Bad Family :P A friend recommended it to me almost 2 years ago, but back then I didn’t even finish Episode 1, and left the rest of the drama lying in the hard drive… Recently I started to take an interest in Kim Myung-min, so I decided to pick Bad Family up again and give it a go. Boy was I ever glad I did! It’s such a little gem, and one that seems grossly overlooked when people talk about K-dramas. Even though it is a comedy, there is so much more going on if you look closely. I’m a sucker for stories where the main characters are all in their respective ruts in life, and are the least likely to help other people (coz they need as much help as they can get themselves), but they come together, and unexpectly help one another to become better people. I suppose it could be called “redemption.” Plus, I totally fell for Kim Myung-min in this series. How can he make a gangster so hot and attractive??!! I think it’s awesome that he’s done a comedy, and would love to see him do more. An actor who can nail both professional dramas AND comedies, now that’s the mark of a great actor!

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  48. 48 nileey

    Seems like I’ve watched most of your recommendations!

    I love My Girl, Coffee Prince and Choon Hyang. Goong is ok but I was more interested in the deco and costumes.

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  49. 49 pinky

    I’ve watched almost all of those lists. And my most favorite are Full House, My Girl, Goong, Coffee Prince, Fantasy Couple, My Name Kim Sam Soon.
    What I love from those firstly is the main role, like Rain & SHK, LDW & LDH, Hyun Bin, Gong Yoo …. :)
    Currently I am watching the drama Partner (for the 4th times heheheee…). What makes me watch it because LDW and KHJ. After I watched Partner for the first time, I also loved the story, because it’s different from what I’ve watched of Korean drama before. But what keeps me watching Partner is because Lee Dong Wook. I missed Wookie :x

    Anyway, thanks for the lists that remains me of them :)

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  50. 50 aquarianunicorn

    CITY HALL !
    after you watch this….any other drama wont be the same.

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