Drama Reactions & Reviews
A Newbie Reviews 2009 [Year In Review, Part 3]
by | December 29, 2009 | 155 Comments


My pick for Drama of the Year: City Hall.

I’ll start of with an admission.  When javabeans asked me to give my thoughts on 2009, I was pretty excited, and agreed without much thought.  After all, 2009 was the best year of k-drama watching I’ve ever had.  But then it hit me: 2009 was also the only year of k-drama watching I’ve ever had. lol. And so, even given the number of dramas as I have seen this year (probably topping 50) I feel a bit out of my league.  How can I be critique-ing with any legitimacy?  

Nevertheless, I do think a newbie’s perspective on dramas is not necessarily a bad thing – since everything is new to me, it is tougher for me to be jaded.  Like when I saw Save The Last Dance For Me (my third k-drama ever!), I spent days afterwords thinking about what it would be like to have amnesia and then a second round of amnesia where I would forget what I had promised to remember while being forgetful the first time time around…

So while I can’t do an expert review, since I’m not an expert, I can give a newbie opinion on what worked for me, and what didn’t.  First though, a little background on me so that you know where I am coming from.  Sample of pre-2009 dramas that I liked:  My Love Patzzi, Who Are You, Full House, Save The Last Dance For Me, Two Outs In The Bottom of the Ninth, and Super Rookie.  These dramas tend to mix cuteness and heart together in a way that Western television shows still haven’t figured out how to do consistently.  I think it has something to do with the soundtrack songs that act as demi leit motifs and burrow the sentiment of the drama into your heart and mind. I mean would Full House have been as good, without “I Think I” by Byul? Or how good would Save The Last Dance For Me have been, without Edward Chun’s breath-y lyrics?

And taking it up a notch, here is a sample of pre-2009 dramas I loved:  Goong, Coffee Prince, Bad Family, Dal Ja’s Spring, Hong Gil Dong and My Girl.  Even more than the first group, these latter dramas did more than just create a nice balance of cuteness and heart; these dramas created a love story so palpable and real that, if you wanted to, you would need both hands to reach out and hold onto one.  And lastly, my first and still favorite drama of all is My Name is Kim Sam Soon, which combined everything – the cuteness, heart, love story, wonderful acting and a kickass OST.

Enough with the old, however. In no particular order, here are my thoughts on 2009 (oh, btw, hit “play” for the mp3 so you get the full technicolor and sound effects of this review. if the song ends, and you’re not done reading, then just scroll back up and hit play again. hehehe!):


City Hall OST – “웃어봐” (Laugh) by Chae Dong-ha [ Download ]

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What worked for me in 2009

Tamra the Island.


Cute and fun, this drama reminds me of what happens when you go on an island cruise vacation, going to visit places you’ve never been before.  And that first night, rather than just staying in your room, you get up the courage to just start exploring a new world.  You may not like it that much at first because it’s not quite what you expect, and you may not “get it” on the first go around, but by the time your time on vacation is at and end, you might wish you just had a few more days to spend.  An extended stay on Tamra the Island pretty much ensures a return visit. Seo Woo is a standout here, although she might have whimpered “Willlliaaaaam…” maybe once too many times for my taste.

Dramabeans readers being an odd bunch, having created not one but two fan groups to support this drama: Team Park Kyu and the Tamra Islanders. While I am not a card-carrying member of either group, I do think this is worth watching in its entirety, and not just the condensed version. Having seen Im Joo Hwan in a few of his previous roles (Snow Queen, Millionaire’s First Love), seeing him in an entirely different persona of Park Kyu was quite neat.

City Hall.


Yes, the acting was not uniform.  And yes, I agree, the editing and writing were a bit choppy at times.  And for sure, the drama had trouble establishing an even balance between and among comedic, dramatic and romantic elements.  But make no mistake, City Hall is not a comedy and it isn’t a political drama.  It is a love story about a woman who went from being nothing to becoming Wonder Woman, to protect her people.  It’s a love story about a man who had to choose between his love and his ambition, and ends up gaining both by growing to meet the challenge.  By the end of the drama, if you’ve not alternated between cheering and tearing up, and then cheering again, then, well, there is no then.  You will be moved.

Now, I don’t judge dramas on whether the director did this or whether the cinematographer did that; I judge dramas on whether I was moved. And more than any other 2009 drama, City Hall moved me. From tears to cheers, from face flushing fist-pumps to surreptitiously wiping my eyes with my sleeve as I stretch, this drama moved me. And that’s why this drama holds my vote for Drama of the Year.

You’re Beautiful.


There is an art and a science to creating culinary creations that are true delights on every level. The science / analytics to culinary creation is quite real, as you have to know what works and what doesn’t work. In addition, to create something that goes beyond the standard cook-book fare, you have to add in your artistic measure. And so, when a creation comes along that hits all the right spots, analytically and artistically, then you know you have a hit dish.  That’s basically You’re Beautiful, a trendy and youthful mixture of good writing, good acting and good marketing.  Funny, clever, with good writing and just the right amount of cute and beautiful, heart and soul, You’re Beautiful did not disappoint.  And the OST is the same way – produced to please, it is pleasing to the ear.

More than any other trendy drama this year, You’re Beautiful delivered on expectations and provided a moving story. I believe that it should be on everyone’s watch list, because young or old, male or female, You’re Beautiful has something to offer that is fun, interesting and with enough heart that makes you want to just go ahead and watch that next episode.  What is interesting to note is that initially, I was not going to watch this because I thought it was going to be boring. But because I was volunteering to spot-translate the initial episodes for WITHS2, I grudgingly watched Episode 1…and within 15 minutes, I absolutely knew this was going to work and I knew I was going to love it. It is that good.

Story of a Man, aka The Slingshot


Technically, this might be the best k-drama of 2009.  The writing, the layers of plot, the consistency / uniformity of the acting excellence – it is all there.  If you have a chance, watch and re-watch Story of a Man (SOAM) to see how the story was put together, to see how plot-points were constructed across episodes, across characters. 

And yet, despite all the accolades I can give it, SOAM falls short of a full-weight recommendation.  Why?  Because there was never a point where I lived and died with any of the characters.  Still, I can appreciate technically well-done dramas without crushing on them, and this is one I can appreciate on multiple levels. Kim Kang Woo as incredibly scary Chae Do Woo is a revelation. Of all the 2009 k-drama sociopaths, I think Chae Do Woo is the one I would least want to have as a roommate. I think I could handle Lady Mishil – I can outsmart her by flattering her to death. But Chae Do Woo, you just never know, and that’s truly creepy.

Queen Seon Deok. With that segueway, I guess it’s time to talk about QSD. Despite its monster ratings, Queen Seon Deok has been panned by far better and more experienced k-drama watchers than I. So it is hard to voice a differing opinion here, not the least because what I know of QSD largely comes from them, since as WITHS2 subbers, they are responsible for me understanding what was happening in the first place. But while QSD may be known as “Queen Snore Deok” among those in the know, I remain blissfully unaware of its short-comings and just think of this drama as fun and interesting.

And yet, even those who pan this drama will acknowledge the superlative acting of Go Hyun-Jung, who played the part of Lady Mishil. Who’s Lady Mishil?  Well, she’s just the biggest bad-ass in the nation known as Shilla, during the Three Kingdoms Period of Korean history. What is interesting, though, is that GHJ’s performance is not at all why I liked this drama. For me, it was Lee Yo-Won, who played Princess Deok-Man, who made me tune in twice a week. Everyone talks about GHJ, but wouldn’t QSD have been a failure, if Lee Yo-Won’s character wasn’t at least as strong as Go Hyun-Jung’s?

Friend, Our Legend


Part history lesson for the uninitiated in the turbulent times pre-postmodern Korea, and part epic tragedy, Friend Our Legend really had something I’ve not seen before in k- drama.  I’ve seen it in movies, especially in HK films, but not in k-drama.  The operative word for this drama is pathos.  Pathos is Greek for “suffering” and it also can mean “to feel” or “feeling.”  And pathos is pretty much what happens to Hyun Bin, who devolves into a sociopath over the course of the story arc.  And pathos is what happens to the viewer.  Episode 19 of this drama is worth seeing by itself, even if you don’t watch the whole drama.

Friend, Our Legend is a remake of a movie by the same name, and there was a lot of speculation as to whether Hyun Bin could pull off the titular role. Let me say this about Binnie’s performance. Whatever you think you know about Hyun Bin, based on Snow Queen and My Name Is Kim Samsoon, whatever you saw in his acting from Worlds Within or Ireland, his performance in this drama is different. It’s like he tapped into a dark side to him that he’s never had to touch before. One of the best acting performances of the year, if not the best.

But Hyun Bin isn’t the only gem.  Kim Min Joon is solid in his role opposite of Binnie, and Jung Yoo Mi (playing the role of Eunji) was my pick for best supporting actress of this year

Sons of Sol Pharmacy


What is this drama about? It’s about the stages of life, and how love and sadness can hit you at any stage. It’s about a family of men who take their time in becoming adults, even as they pass from age to age. And in the end, this wonderful drama is about the little stories.  You care enough about the family to watch these stories get concluded, and in the meantime you get rewarded every now and then with songs and heart-filled events that satisfy your craving for k-drama.  Isn’t that really what k-drama watching is all about?  Caring about the people whose lives you follow, until the very end?

The one criticism, if you can call it that, is that this drama is long. 54 episodes. But before that gets you down, trust me – there is a good reason why it won the ratings battle for the last half of the series, and almost half (49%) of Korea’s television audience tuned in to the very last episode.

Kyung Sook, Kyung Sook’s Father


You’ve probably never heard of this drama, at least not until the End of the Year reviews.  At least, I didn’t.  But rave reviews by some very intelligent and knowledgeable people made me take a look.  This is a 4 episode “mini” drama about a daughter and a father during the Korean war (1950 – 1953). 

But right off the top, I have to say that Kyung Sook, Kyung Sook’s Father isn’t for everybody.  If you don’t have at least some background in Korean, you might not “get” a lot of what makes this drama endearing.  For me, watching this drama made me feel really uncomfortable for a while.  It’s like having a crazy drunk for an uncle, whom nobody really talks about but during the holidays when there is even money he will get wasted and embarrass everyone.  This drama is a story that Korean people of my parents’ generation will see as part of their past – they will see the drama and think, “Was I really like that?  Were things really that bad?”  It will cause them to dig up memories more than 50 years buried, and they will remember how things were really, really different 50 years ago. 

While I didn’t like this drama because it made me very uncomfortable, it still is a wonderful drama – one of the best of 2009, and one thing is for sure – Shim Eun Kyung, the lead actress in this drama, is phenomenal.   She was my pick for Best Actress of the Year.

That Fool.


This drama, with Hwang Jung Min and Kim Ah Joong, takes a hackneyed plot – the fake relationship plot, and makes it work beautifully, at least for a dozen episodes or so.  If you’ve watched k-dramas, you know the fake relationship plot.  You’ve breathed it, and you’ve dreamed it.   You’ve watched Full House, and you wonder when Rain (or SHG for the guys) will ask you to be in a fake relationship with him/her.  Why can’t such a thing happen to me? And now, in this cute drama, That Fool,  an honest, rather idealistic postal employee / everyman ahjussi lives that very dream.  Is it predictable?  Oh, absolutely.  Is it believable?  No, not really… but do we really want to talk about how realistic Full House was?

In the end, this drama works because Kim Ah Joong is simply stunning, because Hwang Jung Min is heart-warming, and because That Fool basically takes the movie Notting Hill and turns it into a 16 episode series with a Full House kind of twist. At first I was not convinced because I started this drama about halfway in, but I restarted this series from the beginning, and boy did I fall for it the second time around. Lee Chung Ah as Dong Baek’s younger sister is a gem throughout this series.



Expectations were extremely high for this action drama, and it delivered – mostly.  Lee Byung Hoon alone makes this drama worth watching.  But while it was fun and interesting to watch, and while the production values were through the roof, I felt like I was watching something other than a k-drama.  And I mean this as a detraction.  If I wanted to watch Bourne Identity, I can watch that – Matt Damon does it better in my opinion and my English is better than my Korean.  So while I do appreciate IRIS quite a bit, I can’t say that I liked it a whole lot, because I never got invested in any of the characters.

Still, I feel like IRIS is an evolutionary step for k-dramas, and a lot of the techniques used in the filming (e.g., the jerky documentary style camera motion ala the Fox action series “24” or the upgraded production values for sound effects and music (not OST)) should be a great boost to future action drama projects.

Temptation of Wife.


This is my pick for Worst Drama of the Year.  It is so stupid and so lacking in any virtue, that it probably damages your brain if you watch all 129 episodes.   Seriously, this drama has no redeeming social value.  It is pure mindless entertainment that actually degrades your mind and ethical principals as you watch.  So why does it reside in the “What Worked” section?  Because it WAS addictive.  Because the episode breaks were all habit-forming.   This drama is known as a “mak-jang” or a dead-end drama, but really, I call it a “crack-jang” because that’s really closer to the truth.

Temptation of Wife made me stay up at night, for weeks, shielding the TV light with a pillowcase to avoid waking the wife.  It worked because by the halfway point, I cared a whole lot whether the heroine would get her revenge.  It worked because even though I knew I was getting dumber while watching it, literally, getting dumber by the episode, I still watched.  And even though the ending was complete BS, and even though I was totally unsatisfied, I don’t regret finishing.  I regret starting and getting addicted, but once you start, you might not be able to stop.

What didn’t work for me

Cinderella Man. From the outset, as I was early yet into my newbie ways, I was excited by the prospect of a genuine KSW make-em-cry-but-have-happy-ending drama.  I honestly couldn’t see how this could fail.  It has all the hall marks of an epic. 

It has long lost twins creating a switcheroo in the fashion industry.  The latest Girls Generation ‘it’ girl (Yoona) as the love interest.  A chae-bol corporate proxy fight.  Grandma in a coma with two humidifiers by her bedside, giving you an idea of how serious of a coma this really is. Multiple scenes in street soju bars.  Rooftop apartments with that square table to sit upon, stare at the sky and reflect. Characters leaving to study abroad and return. Want more k-drama cliches? It has not one but TWO love triangles, with the odd person out being the crazy-I-Will-Never-Let-You-Go lunatic. We have a hero who grows up in an orphanage. Yeah, but does it have terminal illness that affects a main character? Oh, you betcha. How about a fireman’s carry for a passed out girl? Check! What about Ahn Seok Hwan? Gotta have Ahn Seok Hwan…. Oh, you better believe he’s in there!

But at the end of the day, surprisingly for me, it just didn’t work.  I never got into the story enough to root for anyone in this drama. What a waste of a two-humidifier coma chae-bol CEO grandma.

Good Job, Good Job.   


Cutest girls ever?

Where Chae Rim goes, I tend to follow.  But Chae Rim didn’t go anywhere in this really long drama (40 episodes) about a single mom who is pursued by two men:  The Wrong Guy / Jerk who happens to be the unknowing father of her child (the über cute Joon Min Seo, who plays Chae Rim’s daughter, Byul), and The Right Guy / cute and nice guy.  The Wrong Guy pretty much stalks, pesters, annoys, threatens and otherwise makes Chae Rim’s life miserable for dozens of episodes.  The Right Guy also pursues Chae Rim, the latter of whom vacillates between giving up on having a love life altogether and being with The Right Guy.  Every episode of Good Job, Good Job was pretty much the same, as if the production was trying to live up to the repetitiveness of the title.  If it wasn’t for Joon Min Seo and Chae Rim, two of the cutest people on the planet, I probably wouldn’t have watched all 40 episodes.

Assorted Gems / Jewel Bibimbap.  


Another super long drama (50 episodes).  I can’t say for sure that it didn’t work, because I only saw about a fifteen episodes sporadically and randomly spaced out on MBC America (cable television), but the episodes I did see were uninteresting.  I never got the motivation to see back to back episodes.  Others will tell you of Jewel Bibimbap’s virtues, but here’s what I saw:  various people engaging in various relationship-type issues.  That’s it.  That’s the entirety of the show from what I saw.  That’s… life? 

Michael Blunck (you can probably pick him out in the above picture – he is the… bald guy) was notable to me, but not really for his acting, which I found to be…. average.  (For those who want to parse – when I say “average,” I mean “not bad, not great” relative to other k-drama actors)  What was notable about Michael Blunck was that although his Korean speaking skills are way better than mine, and probably better now than I will ever be,  his pronunciation and his awkwardness in using Korean with slow-to-react facial expressions (as if he had to remember which facial expressions went with which Korean phrases) pretty much killed his character for me.  You know how, if you say, “OMG, no way…” you have a certain facial expression?  Now, in Korean, that’s “Jung-mal?  Seol mah…”  If you see MB saying this phrase, which he does, his mouth moves first, then his face follows.  Which says to me that he is speaking first, acting second.  It’s not a deal-breaker (the deal-breaker is the ennui that follows an episode), but it is interesting.

Dream / Partner / Style / Triple


Like most dramas that fail to get my interest, these dramas failed because I never really cared that much who won, who lost, who got whom, in the end.  I watched them all, sometimes due to subbing responsibilities.

The reason for my lack of care for each drama, however, was different across each. For example, in Triple, I liked the main character a lot, but nothing that happened in her life was beyond the norm. Everyone has struggles, and everyone has decisions and issues that they have to face. And in Style, my reason for not caring was that I seriously did not like any of the characters – my feeling was that whoever was going to win, whoever was going to lose, just please win or lose already so I can watch something else. And with Partner and Dream, I just didn’t like the stories that much. There wasn’t enough there to hold my interest.

My Fair Lady.


Even given the less than stellar dramas above, I would say that by far the biggest Disappointment Of The Year came with the drama, My Fair Lady.  After Goong and Coffee Prince, I am, without reservation, immediately on board with whatever YEH puts out.  But what was put out in this drama was just not very interesting.  I watched the first few episodes, and then to be fair, I just fast-forwarded through the rest of the series, hoping that at some point I could hit play against rather than FF >> or FF >>>.  The fatal flaw, shared by all the dramas that did not work for me in 2009, was that I never got to the point where I cared about the main characters.  And when that happens, you can shut off the drama and just move on with your life. I am certain that YEH will bounce back, and I look forward to the next project she has with the same eagerness that I had for My Fair Lady.

Parting Thoughts –

This year has been one of many milestones for me, both personally and in k-drama land. And looking back on this year, I note with some surprise how much I’ve expanded my own horizons and learned much more about life and people than I have ever had before. And quite a lot of it is due to how wonderful a place that dramabeans.com is, with its denizens reflecting the spirit and character of the site’s host. As I look back at this fantastic year of 50+ dramas, including about a dozen or more epic dramas, and how cool it was that I found (errrr, rather, that my wife found) dramabeans.com, I am grateful to javabeans for her gift of KJH to me, and I am grateful and to everyone who spends the time to deposit little bits of knowledge, humor, sadness, their personal lives and their hopes and dreams onto dramabeans. I grew here, and I hope that everyone else grew as well, in 2009.

Whatever your viewpoint, whatever your tastes and background, let’s remember that this is all for our enjoyment of our mutual interest and a warm exchange of ideas and knowledge. Be civil and open-minded as you read the reviews of others; a different opinion does not diminish your own. We might disagree or have strong feelings about things, but in the end, we are just talking about our own thoughts – and we should take care to respect what others think.

Finally, not everyone who began 2009 with the same hopes and dreams as everyone else, will be leaving 2009 intact and whole, and I hope that we won’t ever forget those who will not see 2010, who are lost to us for reasons that could have been prevented if only people treated one other with the respect and dignity that each of us deserve. This is a lesson that I hope has been learned, that we ought to take care of each other, we ought to take responsibility for each other, to support one another. What I wish, for 2010, is that we won’t have the senseless tragedies that littered the landscape of 2009.

I am reminded of a quote from Hwang Jung Min’s character, Goo Dong Baek, in That Fool. Goo Dong Baek was talking to one of the principal antagonists, the father of the Kim Ah Joong’s initial love interest. The father was doing everything in his considerable power to protect his son’s bright political and career future, to the detriment of Kim Ah Joong’s character, Han Ji Soo, who was getting her heart torn to shreds by the father’s machinations.

Goo Dong Baek: You must love your son very much, like any parent would love his child. But that person [Han Ji Soo], she is also someone’s child too.

And so, with that, my parting shot is this. What I urge for all of you for 2010 – be better to others than you were in 2009. Happy Drama Viewing everyone! CitC, Chuno and Damo in 2010! *wave*


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155 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. ockoala

    You know I’ve been waiting for you, don’t you, samsooki?

    You and I have some unfinished business……of which I mean a giant congrats on your first ever year-end review. By know I know your writing style and tone even if you didn’t plaster a giant City Hall picture before your review. Nonetheless, thank you for the fanservice.

    Great review, and I’m happiest to know you actually boarded that ship to Tamra and didn’t sink with the weight of one too many a “William……”

    And oh, is it even necessary for me to say that I agree with your choice for drama of the year? Another VOTE for City Hall from me. With a second vote for Tamra, too.

    Bravo! And an obligatory OPW to you for a job well done!

  2. mLinsoundtrack

    ^-^ It’s here!

    thanks for the review, I look forward to reading it.

  3. Snikki

    50 dramas?!?! On top of that, you have your day job and your family. Do we have the same hours in a day? Wow, I’m amazed.

    Ok, off to read your reviews.

  4. mie

    I think it’s refreshing to read your thoughts because, like you said, it’s your first year of watching K-dramas (albeit, you watched a heck of a lot of dramas this year, pre-2009 included) and you aren’t yet “tainted” by the pessimism that strikes a lot of K-drama watchers. I like that you don’t get super technical in your review (oh, this one had TOO MUCH use of music, that one had a plot hole that just bugged me to death, etc.), but you simply stated what you liked and that’s it.

    I agree with a lot of what you said – particularly about QSD. I’ve been watching K-dramas for years now (way over a decade) and I’ve watched a lot of the old Korean sageuk “greats” (pre-Daejanggeum). QSD is flawed like any other series, but it was a lot of fun and I think that’s what’s most important. Everyone knew from the onset that the series wasn’t going to follow history very closely (it got pretty much everything wrong from the start except the character names), and I think as long as you aren’t a historian, it was a fairly exciting and fun ride. Could it have been better? Sure. But it was pretty good in its own right.

    Anyway, I thought 2009 was a decent year (definitely better than 2008) in terms of dramas. There were some duds, some real gems, and some it-may-be-mediocre-but-it’s-still-fun-so-it’s-okay in-betweens. I’m looking forward to more fun dramas in 2010!

  5. Olowo

    Thank you Samsooki. I loved your review, it was full of heart and even though I don’t agree with some of your opinions, I enjoyed reading them. I hope you have a great 2010. Best Wishes.

  6. Anna :D

    I LOVED your review!!
    It was the best so far, and we have the same drama interests!!

    I’m really glad you added Tamra the Island cause I LOVED that drama :)

    Unlike the other reviews, you also stated you thougt Lee Yeo Won’s acting was good as well. I totally agree. Yeah, Go Hyun Jung’s acting was superb but so was Lee Yeo Won’s!! I still love Bidam and Chunchu <333 and alcheon

    I LOVED You're Beautiful!! I'm such a fangirl now :)

    I'm really considering wathcing City Hall now cause everyone seems to like it….

    Partner = am i the only one who enjoyed it?? maybe it was because there was nothing on during the summer days in Korea, but I enjoyed is ALOT

    Good job on your review! A+

  7. elisa

    YAY. finally someone who acknowledges lee yo won. it would’ve been a total snooze if deok man’s character/lee yo won’s performance wasn’t at least worthy of competition.

    and for story of a man – you got me there. it’s an excellent drama… but i don’t think i can connect to any of the characters on a level where i’m tied and if they fall, i fall. @___@, but nevertheless, kim kang woo, park ki woong, park yong ha, amazing!

    btw if you’ve watched that many dramas this year… wow o-o. i’ve only watched like 49 in the past 3-4 years? 😛

  8. Kate

    I can watch Dal Ja’s Spring and My Name is Kim Sam Soon over and over…What about BOF?

  9. nabi


    Samsooki, I thoroughly enjoyed your review.. (You got me by putting Tamra the Island-my drama of the year- first in Dramas That Worked category, hehe.) I’m glad you joined the world of K-drama and this blog and thank you for entertaining us fellow K-drama lovers with your wits and interesting ideas.

    Your review is making me really obligated to watch Kyungsook, Kyungsook’s Father which has been burned in a dvd and has been sitting in stacks of my drama backup dvds for months. I wasn’t going to watch Friend but I guess I’ll at least try Ep 19 like you suggested. Most of the dramas that worked for you worked for me as well except for a few lengthy dramas. Hope to see you back around this time of next year in your year end review for 2010.

  10. 10 Lahmongnese

    I agree 100%, City Hall was by far the best drama of 2009. The story, acting, music, was all flippin’ amazing. I have always been a fan of Kim Sun Ah and think that she is a fantastic actress, and this drama(City Hall) only proves what I think. Laughter, tears, romance and a happy ending really makes this drama standout among all dramas of 2009.

  11. 11 Dahee_Fanel

    Awesome write-up, as expected. I don’t know what you were worried about, haha. I’ve loved discussing this year’s dramas with you and the other Dramabeans editors, and I loved reading what you had to say about the year’s shows. Beautiful!

    See ya when Chuno starts January 6. 😉

  12. 12 annieee

    i think its wonderful how everyone has such different opinions on the same dramas! lol
    jb’s blog is simply heaven. even though i dont nearly watch as many kdramas as the folks here, nor am i as addicted xp, i love how everyone’s so nice and friendly and open to discuss all things kdrama. the reviews are truly entertaining, despite my not having watched many kdramas this year. ive heard about most of them, and the reviews help me alot in choosing what to watch next. as always, i tend to over-think and over-analyze things, esp when it comes to those addictive kdramas, and im really glad im not alone in that aspect!
    infinite thanks to jb for this awesome place! also ty to all the guest bloggers and everyone else here! you all are so intelligent and witty and fun! and of course, may 2010 be a healthy, happy, and prosperous year for all!

    (may i ask what citC stands for?)

  13. 13 snow

    it’s been a pleasure reading your review, samsooki! i think you said a lot of things very nicely without going into histrionics, and balanced out what you liked and didn’t like about the dramas. kudos to you for taking the time to watch these dramas and sharing your thoughts with us. while i can’t see kim sun-ah’s perfect screen partner beyond hyun bin (hence giving City Hall a miss), yay for both of us that we’re MNIKSS fans!

    happy 2010!

  14. 14 Nonbirira

    Thanks, Samsooki, for a great review! Might just watch City Hall after all!

    (Oh, and VERY impressive for a newbie! Don’t know how on earth you manage to have a life as well! And appreciated your final thoughts. “A different opinion does not diminish your own.” Very wise words indeed for a blog such as this.)

  15. 15 ockoala

    @ annieee

    CitC stands for Conspiracy in the Court. A few of us are planning to watch it in the near future. Its supposed to be awesome (so sayeth hjkomo).

    @ snow

    I agree, Hyun Bin and KSA was perfect couple alchemy in MNIKSS. But if you can imagine it – Cha Seung-won and KSA was also couples chemical magic in City Hall. Made me just have to make room in the best KSA couple category for a tie. Sigh, it does happen, and I’m happier for it, two awesome KSA dramas to watch and re-watch anytime. Oh, and there was a couple of inside jokes to Hyun Bin himself in City Hall. We wondered if HB would make a cameo, but alas, it was just his name, and oh was it hilarious!

  16. 16 unny

    Thank you for your wonderful review! City Hall was DEFINITELY one of my favorites of this year. Along with Brilliant Legacy and You’re Beautiful. If I had to choose one of those as the best drama, I’d probably go with Brilliant Legacy because although I loved all three, I have to say I was most giddy with Brilliant Legacy. I CRAVED it. I couldn’t stop watching once the story line started getting good. It was crazy addicting. The antagonistic elements of the story were just so over-the-top but so well done that they produced this deep emotional attachment in me to the drama. I seriously wanted the evil mother and her daughter to go to hell xD So because I cared so much I really invested myself into the drama and I must say, it paid off. I wish it was included in your list because I’m curious to see what you would think of it, but oh well 😛 Your list was well-put either way!

  17. 17 langdon813

    Great job samsooki!

    You’ve been my Pied Piper of Kdramas all year long, and though I may give you a hard time about some of them (ahem…Hong Gil Dong; Friend, Our Legend), the truth is I was never led anywhere I didn’t want to go. You may have broken my heart but you never steered me wrong.

    Thanks for a great 2009 and for all the fun I know we’ll have in 2010 (just as long as you don’t get any ideas about Lee Min-ki and Jang Hyuk, mister…everything will be cool)!

  18. 18 kdramalovers

    ” It worked because even though I knew I was getting dumber while watching it, literally, getting dumber by the episode”

    LOL, best line ever to why we watch k-drama and why we get addicted to it! hahaha, I totally agree with you^^

  19. 19 Sere

    Samsooki, how much I loooove you. Seriously. First of all, if we hadn’t had exchanged a few emails months ago and you didn’t rec me City Hall, I would have missed one of my favorite kdramas. For that alone, I’ll be forever thankful. Did I say forever? Cos yeah. Forever.

    Secondly, I agree with pretty much everything you said. Hahah. I don’t even know if that sounds like me fangirling you? But no, I just agree with your opinions. And I might even give That fool a try now. It’s the only kdrama on your list I’m reluctant to watch, but if you rec it…

    That said, I know I’m pretty much alone on this, but for all its faults, I still watched Take care of agasshi and liked it. I mean, it’s soooooooo far from perfect it’s not even funny. I think, for me, it was so bad it actually turned almost good again? If you know what I mean? LOL, even I don’t know what that means. *thinks* I think TKoA was to me what BBF was to other kdrama viewers: a hot mess, but still enjoyable. BTW, I coudln’t even finish BBF. *shrugs* I don’t know. Maybe it was temporary insanity or something.

  20. 20 ybfan

    Great reviews Samsookie.. didn’t even sound like a newbie. I think I am pretty much in line with you on all the dramas that I have watched thus far. I myself am also a big fan of City Hall. But I’m surprised that you didn’t mention Brilliant Legacy. I loooved that one as well. Happy New Year!

  21. 21 Jay Jay

    Short and sweet. I praise your review. My Name is Kim Sam Soon is definitely worth its hype, I’m very glad that it was your first kdrama and still remains as your favorite. Seems like we have the same taste. 😀

  22. 22 unny

    @ 15 ockoala

    I’m sorry, I was trying to find “CitC” on dramawiki but apparently the drama aired in 2007?? What exactly is the drama that is going to air in 2010? Thanks for the info…I’m always on the lookout for potential dramas to watch.

  23. 23 hyall

    I have been coming to this place on and off for some time. I just love to read all the intelligent comments and discussions that go on here. Many sites do not have very good discussions because either people post very little or are not taking the time to share their thoughts.

    I too think City Hall was simply great and I agree with what you have written mainly because you seem to have my tastes. I felt the drama would not have worked with any other casting. The casting was simply brilliant.

    I also watched You’re Beautiful and I agree they managed to hit the right notes with that drama. When I first saw shots of it I too had decided against watching it but the hype drew me to it and I was trapped.

  24. 24 deannadsc

    Samsooki…i can’t believe just how in sync your reviews are with mine!!! I’ve watched ALL the dramas you’ve critiqued on (well,except for SOAM..w/c I’ve reserved for a marathon run this week..after all my Holiday-obligations are done)…& I must say, we’re on the same wavelenght!!!
    I recommend that you re-start watching Assorted Gems though…I’m soooo loving this drama right now…best family drama for me this year!!! It’s heart-warming, especially the 2 grandmas, but I also am turned off by the “Kyle” character.
    Smile, You…I like because of the 2 leads’ chemistry.
    Creating Destiny, I’m watching only because of my loyalty to Eugene.
    WISFC…I’m watching solely because I’m a sucker for that kind of melodrama…because I’m falling for GO SOO!!! Gong Yoo, my first love ought to comeback soon cuz I’m sooo getting into GS these days!!!LOL!!!
    I’ve watched & liked Partner,too only because of LDW….so as you can realise by now, a lot of my drama choices weigh heavily on whether the leads are eye-candies or not!!!LOL!!!
    I totally agree that CH & YAB are two of the best dramas this year!!!

    Samsooki, thanks to you & JB…you’ve enhanced my drama-viewing experience year after year!!! Hope you’ll continue w/ your recaps, etc….can’t start & end my day w/o DRAMABEANS!!! LOVE YOU< GUYS!!!

  25. 25 ockoala

    @ 22 unny

    Yes, CitC aired in 2007, and Damo aired in 2003. I believe samsooki mentioned those 2, and the upcoming Chuno (premiering on Jan 6, 2010 on KBS), as dramas he is planning to for sure watch in 2010 (not that all those dramas are airing in 2010). Only Chuno is set to air in 2010. And all three are sagueks. Sounds like samsooki is on a sageuk-binge. 😉

  26. 26 unny

    @ ockoala

    OH! I got confused and thought all three were premiering then 😛 Thank you! By the way it looks good, CitC. Yay! Another drama on my potential drama list :)

  27. 27 bluebunny

    Thanks for the reviews Samsooki!!! :)

    “Save The Last Dance for Me” started my craze for K-drama! I wanted the OST so bad after watching it!

  28. 28 anna

    loved your review! and i am also a newbie in this whole kdramas world. and could not agree with you more with what you say about different opinion does not diminish your own. different people have different way and angle of viewing things.
    and i am very impressed actually envy you for the fact that you could manage to squeeze in 50 dramas in a year! wow. i fell into the kdrama craze and world only last summer and managed to watch only around 15 dramas.

    anyway, happy new year and thanks for the great review.

  29. 29 Becky

    I have the same criteria as you: I have to be moved. It’s interesting how some dramas “move” different people. Like I totally was not crazed about City Hall, but I loved/love Sons of Sol, You are Beautiful (though I felt the ending was not as great as it could have been) Smile, and even Partner. Anyway, thanks for sharing what moved you this year!

  30. 30 Sonam

    I must watch KS, KS’s father. It seems to be on everyone’s best list.
    I disagree….I don’t think you need to have a Korean background to appreciate a drama. I am not Korean and I was very moved by Park Chan Wook’s JSA. It’s my fav’ PCW film. If the drama is good it will work no matter what.
    Not having watched any of the drama you have reviewed except half of CH I cannot agree or disagree but I am looking forward to watching Sons of Sol Pharmacy. Just finally realized I am the family drama kind of gal…thanks to Smile You.
    City Hall just didn’t work for me tho’ I am a huge fan of KSA. Two grown almost middle aged people acting like love sick teenagers was just too …ugh.

  31. 31 eiko

    Samsooki…..I have been waiting for you!!!! You are the best when it comes to analyzing and commenting the dramas! You NEVER disappoint and you have a way with words and your choice of words keeps me giggling from beginning to end and many times….onward!

    You’re right on about City Hall…..and absolutely on the mark with You’re Beautiful! I keep trying to encourage people to check out both dramas just BECAUSE! They are on opposite ends of the pole….but oh so inspiring like a cleansing emotionally and psychologically! I felt like I could relate to so much of the story line in both dramas….and it was the best medicine!

    Hauoli Makahiki Hou Samsooki! Happy New Year! I look forward to more from you in 2010! And I expect to read about the excitement of baby’s first word or first step and first “bite”….check those choppers! :-)

  32. 32 Jane

    Thanks for the review! I really liked it and the different view that you took to your review. Instead of technically analyzing the dramas, you judged them on whether or not they moved you, which is how I judge (and prefer to judge) my dramas.

    Your review was very refreshing to read. Keep it up! :]]

  33. 33 bbm

    YAY!!! you can’t miss Samsooki’s recap with the big city hall picture on top 😛
    thank you for sharing your thoughts…
    and i gotta say, even though 2009 is the first KDrama year for you, yet you finished about 50 dramas, that’s insane!! bow down to Samsooki…
    at last somebody mentioned Chae Do Woo… even though This Mishil took everyone by storm, to me Chae Do Woo is still the greatest psychopath/villain of the year!!

    waiting for your CitC recaps!!

  34. 34 Jihwan

    I really do hope that Chuno does not disappoint. It seems that everyone (this year’s reviewers in particular) has high expectations for this project.

    Tamna the Island is indeed a gem. One that is concealed by other drama’s popularity. I never had much expectations for Tamna and the only reason why I started it was because I literally had nothing better to do. To my surprise, though, one episode was enough to get me hooked. Tamna the Island gets better and better with every episode. I just wished MBC didn’t shorten it into 16 episodes. Who knows how much MORE amazing tamna could have been.

  35. 35 diane

    Samsooki, you did good! I love reading your reviews, always.

    You did manage to bring a tear to my eyes at the end of your review. How very true.

    Thank you!

  36. 36 anon lurker

    JB, Samsooki and everyone else here at javabeans, thank you. Majority of my selections are based on what I read here. I’ve got to find this Kyung Sook now!
    same anon that loved Damo here….I also watched CitC and it is a very heavy drama. In fact, I had to watch it twice. First time, had no idea what was going on but after I watched Yi San and Painter of the Wind, went back and re-watched it. It was really awsome the second time around. I’ve been trying to watch 8 Days also but haven’t had the time to get past 3rd episode.

  37. 37 cingdoc

    (Hands clapping, Standing ovations from me and my 16yo)
    Once again, your writing was Brilliant. .. you know you’re good, no need to be humble, my friend 😉
    I think what I like most about this review is that it was very objective in tone and yet personal ( like you’ve mentioned- each of us like/dislike each drama for our own personal reason). Needless to say, I’m one of your fans ( but don’t expect any OPW from this old girl), and I will continue to enjoy reading your drama recaps and analysis.

    PS That was sneaky of you on how while you were praising JB, you just “claim” KJH for yourself…and you thought none of us notices that 😉

  38. 38 nycgrl

    Samsookie great job. I loved your background intro and though you may be a newbie critic, your passion for kdramas is plain and clear and around here we all know you and your love of binnie and KJH.

    I watched 4 or maybe 5 kdramas this year and even if I times that by the years I’ve watched kdramas I don’t think it would still amount to your 50 episodes this year.

    Out of the ones you reviewed I’ve watched 4 on your list. I agree with City Hall, Your Beautiful and Sons of Sol Pharmacy but I really really disliked IRIS. I thought it was one of the worst I’ve seen in the last few years since I’ve become pretty adept at picking dramas that would appeal to me. Except for LBH the acting was subpar, writing dismal, love story boring and the drama just lacks soul. If there is a drama that was created solely for ratings and not for critical success its this one.

  39. 39 hjkomo

    @ Samsooki

    Great review!
    And it’s set in stone 0’s & 1’s…you’re going to watch CitC! 😀
    (nice try w/KJH 😛 )

    @ unny

    Btw, Chuno is the romanization of the Korean title. The English title of the drama is Slave Hunters.

    January 6th, 2010. Mark your calendars!

  40. 40 annieee

    thanks, ockoala, for clearing that up!

    btw, my fav kdrama EVERR is also MNIKSS. i can rewatch that drama 234903 times and never be bored. it’s funny as hell, hyun bin and daniel henney are yum, sun ah is amazing, and it’s by far the most heartwarming and addicting drama i’ve seen! in my heart, i dont think any drama can ever top it!
    i was planning to watch friend, our legend after hearing you guys rave about it (and also b/c binnie’s in it xp), and i even watched the movie just for reference, but it was recently removed from dramafever and i’ll have to download it, which will take some time. and after hearing what you guys had to say about it, i think i’ll have to give myself some preparation first before embarking on the dark journey ahead!

  41. 41 Amy

    Great review!
    I must agree with you on My Fair Lady; it was the most disappointing k-drama of the year. I had such high expectations going into it and I really tried to stay upbeat and focus on the positives, but, ugh, a bad drama is a bad drama.

  42. 42 Samsooki

    @37 cingdoc *blerg* and I would have gotten away with it too! *shhhhhhhhhhhh* there’s still a chance jb won’t notice…

  43. 43 Kay

    Thanks a lot for your review! I always enjoy read your comments, and it was a really goog rewiew. I felt the same in my first kdrama year, and I guess I watched every drama that crossed my path, so I understand your 50+ drama for this year.
    I agree with you with almost everything that you post (at least the ones I watched), except perhaps SOAM, for me is the number one of this year, I really loved the characters a lot, and make me had a wonderful time. Guess is a matter of taste, but I think that you also enjoyed this one.
    Im glad to be one of the followers of this blogg too, thanks to that, is way easy for me to decide the next drama to watch, even if everyone has a diferent taste you can feel the true in every recommendation, and in that way I dont have to throw away that many hours with a drama that I end hating.
    Thanks, a lot, your comments were refreshing and full of heart.

  44. 44 soysauce

    50 dramas along with your job and family? I have never felt so inferior in my life. Seriously? I struggled to get through 56 episodes of East of Eden, and can barely handle high school. MAJOR props to you Samsooki.

    I have to agree that Temptation of Wife was SO.DUMB. I couldn’t sit through the whole 129 episodes, but saw bits and pieces there on TV. Another failure of the year, Heading to Ground? I didn’t bother to check it out, and was definitely not looking forward to Yunho’s acting. Dream was a drama that I WANTED to like SO much, but it’s so hard! Son Dam Bi was all blegh, and Kim Bum, no matter how hot he is, just didn’t fit his character.

    SOAM- I’ll get onto that as soon as possible since Bean here has been raving about it. And my TOP TOP drama of the year has to be You’re Beautiful. Jang Geun Suk and Park Shin Hye totally rocked that series. Lee HongKi is WAY too adorable. The OSTs were AMAZING! (and I have to agree that, what are K-dramas without the awesome awesome OSTs?) Speaking of TRENDY dramas, Boys Before Flowers is a MAJOR MAJOR disappointment. The plot was incoherent, the music was edited in such an untimely manner that “AALLLMOOSTT PARAAADISE” gets more and more annoying my the episodes. Jandi didn’t live up to my expectation and I just wanted to shout at JiHoo to man up and get the girl already.

    Either way, congrats to you for discovering your new interest and keep making up those past few years of missing out K-dramas. Dare I suggest you watch Alone In Love (If you haven’t already). Son Ye Jin & Gam Wu Seong were ♥♥♥♥


  45. 45 Lumi

    Samsooki, thank you for your review of 2009 k-dramas and contributions to this blog throughout this year. I enjoy reading your posts very much as there is always something interesting or new to me in them.

    Dramas a is my window into the Asian world I knew very little ot before I started watching them. Besides being entertained, there is always something about life and/or Asian culture to learn from/and through them.

    Boredom and channel surfing made me tune one summer day to the International channel where episode 30 something of Jewel of the Palace was being aired. One year later, it was Emperor of the Sea, and from them on I never looked back and became another k-drama addict. And as most people afflicted by such disease, I don’t want to be cured from it.

    Best wishes and blessings for you, Mrs. Samsooki and little Ji Hoo.

  46. 46 tokai

    in all the 3 reviews so far.. nobody mentioned HON (which was the top highlight this season, IMHO!)? :)

  47. 47 sleeplessinwgtn

    I was looking forward to reading your review.

    I LOVED all those pre-2009 dramas that you highlighted(except for MLP, STLDFM and SR, which I have yet to watch). I guess I like the same style and the same effect – I have to be moved. I need to feel the angst, the joy, the rollercoaster ride of emotions, the cheering and the sobbing, while watching a movie. I was telling my friends… if a movie does not move me enough to make me cry, then it’s not a winner for me. And I don’t cry just out of sadness, I cry out of joy, too.

    What makes a drama tick depends largely on one’s own personal circumstances and if it touches me, then it’s done its job.

    I have yet to watch Friends; I know it’s a good drama. I will muster the courage and watch it one of these days.

    Thanks for sharing your insight with us.

    To you, samsooki, JB, and all dramabeans readers…

    All the best to 2010… may it bring you peace, good health, prosperity, fulfilment, happines and more great Asian dramas.

  48. 48 cingdoc

    (wiggling/waving my index finger)
    …Noooo my friend…since @hjkomo and I are “Aunties” of our Ji Hoonie, we will not and cannot condone such sneaky behaviour…better luck next time, but remember, ahem , I’m very good in seeing details ( just ask @ockoala 😉

  49. 49 heejung

    crack-jang = my new favorite word :]

  50. 50 jandoe

    samsooki, interesting review! loved it, thanks 😀

  51. 51 ashbeanie

    I loved the song you picked as the background music for your reviews. It really does fit well with the way and tone of voice in which I read your reviews. Thumbs up! 😀

  52. 52 xylo

    Really great review. I especially enjoy your writing style, very eloquent and not cold or impersonal. Though I enjoyed the other two reviews too, this one may be my favourite.

    Appreciated your viewpoint! Thanks a lot for writing this review and you did a great job!

  53. 53 Cam

    Ooo….. YEAAA, Good Job, y’all — How interesting about this review!


    YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL ————–> THIS is really BEST 2009
    CITY HALL —————-> drama of the YEAR !!!!

    Of course, I enjoy reading all of review what you think of any different 2009 dramas while you all have variable opinion, heh!
    Wow, I think it’s really something so…….impressive to me — FRIEND, OUR LEGEND ** KYUNG SOOK’S FATHER ** TARMA THE ISLAND ** Especially, I still didn’t finish watching some of drama like — My Fair Lady, He Who Can’t Married, and etc……. I am kinda falling behind, ouch. Lolz.

    I am sure that I agreed what some people had commenting about this and I think this 2009 drama is kinda better than last year in 2008, mm. Ooo….ONE thing is — IF I would pick any 2009 dramas for the drama of the year is — STORY OF A MAN — to ADD — YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL, too! (beams)

    So! I can’t believe that all of our old special memories of 2009s’ will be leaving so slowly……..TO a incoming NEW year — 2010 — anyway, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    ** FIGHTING !!! ** (winkz)

  54. 54 unny

    @ hjkomo

    Yep I know ^_^

    I am sooo excited for Jan 6!! Do you know how much I LOVE Lee Da Hae???? She’s a great actress and so, so pretty. Her beauty is literally unmatched, in my opinion! And I love Jang Hyuk and Oh Ji Ho as well 😀 Not to mention I love sageuks. It has all the ingredients for a great drama. Calendar is definitely MARKED! 😀

  55. 55 Penn

    I’ve been waiting for your review, Samsooki. I too love Tamra Island and City Hall. Although the ratings for these two drama were not high, I was still moved my their characters. Thank you for a job well done.

  56. 56 Taohua

    Samsooki, I was really looking forward to your review! And it was a wonderful read! I always enjoying reading your thoughts and insights. I liked most of the dramas you listed in what worked for you in 2009 ‘cept for QSD but I think personally it was because I was so hyped about beforehand (I had HUGE hopes for UTW) and then it started dragging and Yushin was pretty bland, but GHJ was excellent as This Mishil. Tamna I think would be in my top five but since I haven’t finished it yet is not (I really am hoping WithS2 will be able to sub the directors cut).

    You know I love KSA (she is my favorite actress) and while I really enjoyed City Hall for the most part and KSA and CSW had fabulous chemistry, towards the end I kind of lost interest. I’m still not sure why…

    Definitely am looking forward to reading either your thoughts or recaps on CitC. Thank you so much for doing the review! And especially thank you for the words of wisdom at the end (: Can I just say I’m impressed like everyone else with the fact that you finished 50 dramas in less than one year? Especially with the baby, work, subbing and everything else?! I hope you will get the chance to relax!

  57. 57 thunderbolt

    Samsooki, this was so much fun to read. Love your humor and honesty, and how you wear your heart on your sleeve. Totally cracked me up to see you announcing your pick for Drama of the Year right away! 😆

    I can’t wait to see you embark on Conspiracy in the Court and Damo. Seriously can’t wait!!

  58. 58 ybfan

    Do you mind if I ask what you mean by KJH? i didn’t get the reference.

  59. 59 rentao

    This sounded better than what was posted in javabeans/dramabeans earlier posts .’ but i somehow don’t get why Partner is not as acknowledgeable as it should be?.. I mean, i don’t really understand why Partner isn’t drawing praises when it has a good storyline and characters.. Maybe i’m just used to stories that are quite “all talk” and not much “lovey-dovey” scenes, coz I hate it when a drama is just too focused on the lives of the protagonists..and leaving behind the other characters..
    And oh, I would like to add that “That Fool” is such a heartwarming drama and what the characters say create an impact. Hwang Jung Min is such an amazing actor.

  60. 60 Samsooki

    @58 ybfan –

    err.. well, let me see if I can’t explain in a way that shows the full extent of the situation…

    I feel like I am Hong Gil Dong, the Choson Era legend who was a robber who takes things from the rich and gives them to the poor. javabeans has all these awesome actors that are “hers” and I am Hong Gil Dong, taking Kang Ji Hwan (a prized possession of javabeans, but by no means her only possession) away and giving KJH to the poor and needy (me).


  61. 61 anjell


    TOP-NOTCH REVIEW!!! 😉 (bow)

    It’s nice to hear a newbie’s perspective.
    for a newbie, i can’t believe you watched 50 dramas this year! 0_o

    “Whatever your viewpoint, whatever your tastes and background, let’s remember that this is all for our enjoyment of our mutual interest and a warm exchange of ideas and knowledge. Be civil and open-minded as you read the reviews of others; a different opinion does not diminish your own. We might disagree or have strong feelings about things, but in the end, we are just talking about our own thoughts – and we should take care to respect what others think. ”

    – 100% agree!!! 😉

    i’m looking forward to reading more of your posts… ^____________________^

  62. 62 otk

    lmao Samsooki!!! your so funny , I love reading your stuff.

    I also fell in the ToW trap, but I still can’t pin point why you picked it as worst drama – it’s a makjang drama -you can’t do much about dramaticness and surealness. the pacing of the story was quite fine. In fact I’m sure everyone is waiting for JSH to win Daesang for SBS Drama awards this year. ToW fighting (much much better than stupid TOA with stupid ending…arhghhh_

    Omo, wae?! Assorted Gems is such a perfectly scripted drama with various characters, the most perfect family drama of this year imo .

    In anycase, every review is voicing different opinions *_*

  63. 63 ockoala

    @ ybfan

    Oh lordy, I feel like a fourth wheel here, but an impartial person ought to explain what samsooki meant by saying javabeans gifted Kang Ji-hwan (he of the Hong Gil Dong fame, and many other dramas and movies) to samsooki.

    You see, JB loves KJH, maybe more, maybe less, than her love for Lee Jung-jae and/or Yoon Kye-sang. Samsooki also loves KJH. As does hjkomo. So here we have a three-way battle to determine who *owns* KJH (i.e. who has rights to proclaim that KJH is *mine*, you know, what we fans love to do when we’ve glommed on to a fave actor/actress).

    samsooki claims that being first to call mine doesn’t matter, apparently something about finder’s keepers, or whatever determines the ownership right. Apparently, he now also believes that JB not only relinquished her claim to KJH (highly suspect), but somewhere along the way, he doesn’t even acknowledge his fellow year-end review hjkomo’s also quite legitimate claims to KJH.

    Ergo, he thanks JB for giving him rights to call KHJ *mine* and thus KJH, he of the soulful gaze, multi-faceted acting charisma, turns on a dime between goofy and heartbreaking, now belongs to samsooki.

    I suspect hjkomo will address this claim in her year-end review. 😉

    I am completely uninvolved in this fray, but I see that samsooki has given his “interpretation” and “analysis” above in his reply to you. hey samsooki, remember, when and if you watch A Moment to Remember, Jung Woo-sung belongs to me (and I timeshare with hjkomo….somtimes if I’m in a good mood).

  64. 64 su-pah

    Loving this review!
    I’m totally sold on watching Friend, Our Legend thanks to this and a review here earlier. Hyun Bin is love and I’m a long-time lover of HK Cinema, especially WKW flicks e.g. As Tears Go By.
    Saying that though, I can’t handle anything too dark, kdramas are meant to make me feel happy, giddy-dreamy-little-bubbles-bursting-with-happiness kind of happy ( or delirium, whatever). I don’t mind the tearjerker moments, as long as the ending is a happy one, I’m game.

    You’re Beautiful worked for me because it was overall cute, endearing and Jang Geon-sok’s pouting was jaaam hot/sexy!

    I agree about Cinderella Man, which is disappointing given I like KSW. Yoona is a bad actress and should stick to bad kpop and synchronised dancing, but she was ‘decent’ in You Are My Destiny, imo (I cried in a lot of scenes!), so, I would have thought playing another unfortunate little orphan role would have been an easy feat for her. It was an awful waste of a drama and KSW’s talent, epic fail!

    Partner I watched through the end but it failed to stir me, LDW was just too aloof and detached and Honey Lee made me feel dirty just watching her, she just looked far too sleazy… her and CCH both! (Finally warmed to her during the scene where she’s buying kimbab on the street and communicating with him via. the restaurant windows and the airport scene.) It could have been a good drama had the love between LDW and KHJ been given a chance to develop, there just wasn’t enough heart in their relationship, it was just too easy breezy, blurgh!

    City Hall is next on my to-watch list, sounds decent enough, I admire Kim Sun-ah as an actress and the male lead looks hot enough as her love interest. Also, Kyung Sook, Kyung Sook’s Father looks awesome.

    Thanks Samsooki!

  65. 65 pixie

    Samsooki, you’re such a comedian :) ‘love your review! you’ve been added to one of my fave reviewers as well lol! oh heck, all JB’s guest reviewers are great because you all have different viewpoints and that makes it interesting. have fun with CitC and Damo :)

  66. 66 paj007

    IT WAS A PLEASURE TO READ YOUR REVIEW!!!.. i like reading other peoples thoughts.. and surprisingly major indeed!

    CITY HALL HAS ALL MY VOTES FOR BEST DRAMA OF 2009 – its not the typical love story. it’s more than a love story!. and KSA AND CSW who doesn’t love them???

    and i would have to agree. i was dissapointed with Cinderella Man.. since Kwon Sang Woo was in it i thougth it would be a must see! but then agian. it didn’t catch my attention at all. : ( how sad !

    anyway. AWESOME REVIEW! 😀

  67. 67 Aaron

    Thank you Javabeans for allowing guest bloggers to participate in Year-End K drama reviews. I really appreciate reading different opinions and perspectives of good, bad, or mediocre dramas.

    This year for me , City Hall stands out among all other dramas. I am not a Cityhaller, or a Kim Sun Ah’s fan but I do agree with Samsooki, I enjoyed City Hall tremendously. Cha Seung Won is simply delish and Kim Sun Ah’s possesses top notch acting. Episode 20 was obviously for fan service and I thought the romance scenes in that episode were a little bit over the top and too cliche. Nevertheless, this drama moved me.

    I am with Samsooki that My Fair Lady had to be the most disappointed drama of the year. Being a Qoong and Coffee Prince fan, I expected more from YEH.

    just like Samsooki, I determine a good and bad drama based on whether I feel moved by the drama or not. Glad to hear from a newbie

  68. 68 Amg1

    Thank you for your review, but in
    the defense of “Yoon Eun Hye” and “Lady Castle” I do believe that at least 80% of the problem was the writing the other 20% was the acting, YEH is my #1 Girl but I must admit that playing a true to life “Biaaatch” is an art, we all here have our favorite BAB’s (bad ass bitche’s) but Hae-na is not on my top five, but being a true to the core Yoon Eun Hye fan I am still her true loyal follower……..
    P.S I like your writing style, and respect your undying love for CH, reading your recaps is what draw me to CH, I am half way there…Thank you all you guys and “Keep The Faith”…….

  69. 69 GreenFreak

    First of all, Thanks!

    I agree with many of your views on those dramas… which made it easier to read. 😀

    I’m glad to read that I wasn’t the only one that had trouble with Michael Blunck in Assorted Gem. I don’t understand Korean, but it was awkward watching him. But he was better than the guy (who played Alex) in Creating Destiny. He spoke only in English but it still sounded strange and the acting was awful. How could an American guy with a law degree not speak “normal” English. There was no way Eugene could of realistically fall for a guy so dorky and stiff…

  70. 70 amhrancas


    Firstly, congrats on your first year-end recap!!


    “It worked because even though I knew I was getting dumber while watching it, literally, getting dumber by the episode, I still watched.”

    “Grandma in a coma with two humidifiers by her bedside, giving you an idea of how serious of a coma this really is. ”

    “my feeling was that whoever was going to win, whoever was going to lose, just please win or lose already so I can watch something else”

    It’s lines like these ^^ that make me love reading your re-caps, and now your review! This was my first year with K-dramas as well, and while I did jump around with some older and newer ones playing catch-up, I came nowhere near your 50. *bows in awe*

    One of the highlights of reading your reviews is that, while you haven’t yet become jaded over the technical failings of a drama which become more prominent the longer a person has been watching/critiquing shows, you still have an eye/ear/sense for what should be present in a drama to make it work. This makes your approach more similar to that of my own, being a k-drama newbie as well. While I don’t necessarily watch dramas to further my Wellesian-inspired critical thinking skills (especially not K- and J-dramas), I do expect something good to come out of them, and I love it when it’s a well-packaged something good (direction, writing, acting, MUSIC). It was nice to see these aspects incorporated into your breakdowns. Sure, a drama could have been a critical failure, it could have been a ratings success, but if I don’t have a reason to care about the characters, why bother watching?

    Thank you so much for your contribution to the DB wrap-up! It was quite refreshing to read.

    Oh! yeah, did you seriously manage to escape watching the fabulous trainwreck that was BOF?? How did you pull that one off? I like to refer to that one as my chocolate-frosting crack drama. I know its bad for me. I know that it will only kill my brain cells. I know that it will most-likely make me horribly sick. But I just can’t put the spoon down….. (Well, that and LMH has the potential to cure just about any sugar hangover, here’s hoping for a better show for him next go-around.)

  71. 71 MEIKO**** ^-^

    lol! To have watched 50+ dramas and a dramabeans devoutee, I still cant believe you are a guy! lol!!

    a good, revealing and funny review…

    congrats and good luck! ^_^

  72. 72 celestialorigin

    Samsooki, Thanks for the great reviews! Newbie or not, I enjoyed reading them immensely. Love the sense of humor you’ve injected all the way through.

    Yes! City hall was one fine drama. Tamra is on my next to watch list. You have to teach some of us the secret of time management(50 dramas in one year with your career and family!), though… Soon, I’ll have to go into my J/K drama cold turkey period come January as my business is taking off and I don’t seem to be able to manifest 30hrs/a day. This, of course, excludes Chuno and DJG(hopefully). I’m almost hoping I will not be taken by Chuno so that I won’t have to follow… Crazy, huh?

  73. 73 Molly

    Samsooki, I loved your review! You covered a lot of dramas that I watched this year, and each review was thoughtful and insightful with the classic Samsooki wit and cleverness. Thanks for the great guest posts you’ve done so far!

  74. 74 lovewls

    Samsooki, thanks for spending your time to write the review! I enjoyed reading yours a lot!!!! When it comes to drama, I do not wish to pay too much attention to a drama script, actors, etc. As long as the drama is enjoyable for me to watch, I’ll watch it. After all, it’s entertainment.

    ” It worked because even though I knew I was getting dumber while watching it, literally, getting dumber by the episode”
    OMG this is how I felt. Temptation of wife is strangely addictive.

    I’ve been watching K-dramas for a while now and I was getting bored in 2009 with all the dramas out there, but City Hall revives my interest. I love it a lot and it was really fun for me to time it at BON. The two leads’ chemistry is just amazing!

    I have yet to watch Tamra. My friends are recommending it to me, so hopefully I’ll get the chance to watch it in 2010.

  75. 75 shin mi rae

    congratulations samsooki. 50 dramas, a day job, a wife and a baby…. you are superman! your review is my favorite. i love that your criteria for judging is very simple… what drama moved you???… for me, a simple korean drama watcher, i really can’t dissect a drama down to script (i dont speak korean after all), cinematography and other technical stuff… all i know is did the drama moved me? am i cheering for the main character and ready to wring the neck of the anti-hero??? am i crying and laughing with the characters??? that is how i know that it worked for me. i am glad we picked basically the same dramas. i loved cityhall. i started watching it around the same time as cinderella man which i wasnt able to finish. at first i thought KSA is doing a Kim San Soon in Cityhall but was i so wrong… i am glad i gave it a chance. after the first few episodes, i was hooked. i laughed and cried with shin mi rae (on cue too) … jo gook gave me a heck of a ride in an emotional roller coaster. one minute i am swooning and melting under his hypnotic gaze, the next minute i hate his guts for his political maneuverings and two-timing under dealings to again loving him so much because the pain in his eyes begged me to forgive him for everything he had done and will do in the future. and surely i want to scratch go hae’s eyes out of her very pretty face….. cityhall is indeed the best drama of 2009.

    my second favorite is You’re Beautiful… why? because i needed a break after riding the roller coaster Cityhall ride. i needed something light and fun. and boy, are the a.n.jell fun. jeremy is a breath of fresh air. now this drama is not new, if anything, it used so many cliche in the korean series formula. example *spoiler alert* (1) the love triangle – lead boy full of angst and emotional baggage, lead girl who is pure and naive and always in need of rescue, and finally the other guy who is gentle, sensitive and always suffering and always rescuing the lead girl. (2) a verbal fight fest between lead boy and lead girl that will end in a frozen in time kiss (with camera circling the frozen couple), (3) a stuff animal that lead boy gives to lead girl but ended up being with lead boy so he talks to the doll all the time (remember samsooki in MNIKSS), (4) a material symbol of the love of lead boy to lead girl that lead girl will always accidentally lose (Stairway to Heaven, Boys Before Flowers), (5) u-turns, hand grabbing, 30-seconds “i hate you” glares between lead boy and other boy – *end of spoilers*. name it, they have it…. i should have hated it immediately.. omo, i couldn’t stop watching it from the first moment i opened viikii because i read something here in dramabeans that got me curious. i was so hooked that i searched for it in youtube after i encountered broken links in viikii… i finished it in two days… its like sherbet, to cleanse the palette after a heavy meal.

    so now, im ready for a new drama. based on your review, i think we have the same taste in dramas. i will follow your lead and check out hyun bin in friend our legend. iris was suppose to be next in line but after two episodes, i dont think i can watch kim tae hee for 20 or so more hours. and i already miss hyun bin.

    thanks again samsooki. great year for you. please send my love to the wife and baby samsooki.

  76. 76 Laica

    Lovely review. Although I may be biased because I share your great love of City Hall, lol. (I’m also following your wonderful recaps!)

    I agree with you about the charm of Kdramas – in the end it’s all about whether you laugh and cry and are moved. Whether the characters make you giddy and break your heart.

    Also love the quote from That Fool. Thanks for your wise and entertaining sum-up of 2009!

  77. 77 Samsooki

    @11 Dahee –

    Thank you for your opinions and the discussions. I always learn more by reading what you write. What I know about k-dramas wouldn’t take up a sock drawer in your mansion of knowledge. I feel like that person on American Idol who made it through the auditions and had Justin Timberlake call out her name (and she was a huge fan of JT). That’s sort of how I feel. Dahee called out my name! kiki.

    @16 unny / @20 yb –

    I ran out of time to finish Brilliant Legacy. I did watch most of the episodes, but I didn’t finish. And while I could have commented on the drama (it was fun), I think that Brilliant Legacy deserved my full attention in order to review it properly, and I ran out of time. It was one of 3 dramas that I really wanted to finish in December but couldn’t…

    @sere – with respect to TKoA (My Fair Lady), I just think that anytime you have YEH in a drama, you have a chance to make it epic. And they didn’t do that. They made it a normal drama, and so you could have put anybody in that role other than YEH and it would have been the same result. That’s really disappointing.

    @deannadsc – bleh…. Assorted Gems… do I really have to? Do I have to start from the beginning or can I start halfway through? (For example, the drama “New Heart” didn’t really get going until about Episode 11, and so you could have skipped the first 10 episodes and not lost anything…).

    @27 bluebunny – I can’t believe that more people aren’t constantly just shouting out how awesome-sauce the OST to Save the Last Dance For Me was. If I had Tourette’s Syndrome, I would just be saying that every five minutes. Come ON people, I KNOW it’s on your playlists….

    @30 Sonam –

    I didn’t say that you had to have a K-background to appreciate KS. I said that without that background, you may not “get” a lot of what makes it endearing. For example, so much of the cleverness of the drama is based on the language/diction choices and country-side culturalisms. These things don’t translate well or at all. Not that you need those little things to appreciate the drama, but if you can speak Korean and/or you understand the mannerisms / cultural history, then a lot of the absurdity is evident – all of which makes for the black comedic aspect of the drama. KS was made to poke fun at Koreans, using the Korean War (in 3 short years, it is still one of the most tragic and most sorrowful times in the 5,000 years of Korean history) as the backdrop. To me, none of it is funny. It is all sad and makes me angry. But I recognize how brilliant KS was, the writing, the acting. So, that’s why it has to be mentioned.

    @46 tokai – I run away from scary dramas. HON had a scary picture on its poster and so I ran away.


    I crack myself up, trust me! I even tear up, and then I chuckle at how silly I am! If I had two more days, I could have re-watched all of Assorted Gems and then I would have been able to review it properly! If I have time in 2010, I’ll go back. Your word alone is good enough for me. Btw, I heard that Damo is sad, so I dropping it from my list.

    @63 ockoala – lol. everybody always rushes to defend javabeans and her claim of kjh. HEY PPL: I seriously doubt jb will feed you guys less if kjh is mine you know!

    @75 shin mi rae – oohhh.. hmm. Friend Our Legend is really really good, but it is completely different than City Hall and YB. I would suggest you do this: watch Episode 19 first, and then if you like it, then watch it from the beginning.

    SPOILER Synopsis for Friend Our Legend:
    In Ep 19 of Friend, Binnie the gangster has basically reached the point of no return. He knows it, and he can’t help it. He has so much pain inside of him that he isn’t really human any more. His brain is human and his emotions are human, but his instincts are not, and so he is self-destructing. Binnie is given one last chance to turn away before it is too late, meeting with his lifelong closest friend, who is a gangster of a different gang…. Can his best friend and rival, his sworn brother who also his sworn enemy, reach Binnie’s heart? But Binnie is no longer human…

    If you like Ep 19, you can go back and start at the beginning. If Ep 19 doesn’t work for you, then I would just skip this drama. =)

  78. 78 ALYN

    Thank you for being the first one so far to actually review Tamra, and even better, place it on your “best” list. What a gem that turned out to be! The characters somehow manage to crawl inside your heart. I gave myself completely to this drama and don’t regret it at all. Wow, that doesn’t sound right…

    And just to clarify, i’m Team Park Kyu 😉

  79. 79 wednesday

    great job samsooki. loved your review. though im expecting already that city hall is your best for the year, it was still so refreshing to read it.

  80. 80 serendipity


    I have a theory. Which is that you are not a real person at all. You are a committee of people using the same email account, posting on DB, watching stuff and writing reviews. There is no way one single person can watch as much as you did, review, subtitle, have a family and hold down a job.

    On the other hand, there’s no way a committee could have written a review that is so coherent and full of wit and heart.

    Hmm. Where am I left now? In awe! Very nice review. Thanks!

  81. 81 curiouscat

    thanks for the review samsooki. I really love the fact that you said that you base your judgment of a drama on how that drama moves you. And here I thought I was the only one who judges a drama on how it moves/makes me feel. We are the same on that point. I don’t usually go into a deep analysis of angle shots/lighting and such, but I do notice the use of music that does help in molding a scene. That’s why I love to read everyone’s recaps/reviews of a drama to see what I have missed because when I watch I just sit and enjoy the drama (if it is a pleasurable watch). Thanks for a great review!

    Javabeans, looking forward to the next reviewer and of course yours too!

  82. 82 sukispop

    Hi Samsooki,

    I loved your “Newbie Reviews 2009″! Thanks so much for taking the time and providing us with it!

    Newbie-schnewbie! I think your insight is every bit(if not more) as spot-on as some of the “expert” critics’ we’ve seen here, recently. I love your style of writing, your wit, and the fact that you seem to begin each new drama with a sense of hope and excitement. I hope that you’ll continue to write reviews for dramas. I look forward to reading them.

  83. 83 tombrady

    Thanks for your review. I really like the way you write – your review, CH recaps, comments in open thread or JB recaps. It shows a lot of depth, insight and maturity, plus a real love and joy for k-dramas. Personally, i love a good story myself whether executed in dramas, books, poems, manga or anime.

    I love your parting thoughts the most, esp your parting shot “be better to others than you were in 2009″. Its a good reminder… Sometimes i think people forget to be nice just because they lead such busy lives or caught up in their own concerns. So thank you for that. :)

  84. 84 momosan

    @39 hjkomo –
    Looks like we officially caught him up in the CitC vortex! muahahahah!

    AND he’s going into Damo territory! We have a sageuk addict in the making. WOOT! The more the merrier! We should probably prepare that St. Bernard with the brandy, because if he heads down this path, the next thing you know he’ll watch 8 Days, Yi San, and then go straight into Sung Il Gook territory…next thing you know he’ll be asking to borrow my copy of EotS and debating the Deep Hidden Meaning of the ending…..
    Better not to warn him of the perils that are ahead!

    @samsooki –
    Domo arigato! A pleasure to read, as always!

    “What a waste of a two-humidifier coma chae-bol CEO grandma.”
    Cracked me right up. And so so true!

    So, that’s 3 votes for watching Kyung Sook, Kyung Sook’s Father and Friend Our Legend – which means they get kicked up yet another notch on the watch list (and since I’m marathoning Otomen this evening – which is a truly weird experience, even for a shojo manga based jdrama) – they are moving to the top rapidly.

    The only real disagreements I have are on the ranking of disappointments. Triple was one I abandoned when they ran over a puppy. What a true waste of The Voice and other talented actors. My Fair Lady, I watched the thing wishing that better things would happen. They didn’t, but I still had hope. A sad, dashed hope, but hope none the less.

    And yet it was Style that ranked as my worst disappointment. It changed course so many times that you couldn’t figure out who the heck was supposed to be the main couple. We never DID find out what the heck was up with the photographer! And the all important design contest worth kidnapping the designer for….nada. Never went anywhere. Bizarre.

    Edited to add: Save the last dance for me? Yeah. Amnesia. Twice. Dude. Doubly violates the law of semi-reason for k dramas..watched it and enjoyed it though. Guilty as charged.

    See you on the other side of CitC!

  85. 85 D

    City Hall is also my pick of the year. What can I say, I’m a sucker for romance….for a chances…for happy endings….

  86. 86 Elsie

    Definitely a great review, didn’t seem like a newbie at all. I love your sense of humor ;)! And I agree with your review, you have the same taste as me. Your review contained a lot of heart, and it was very easy and comfortable to read. I appreciate it immensely 😉

  87. 87 yen_nguyen

    I’ve read both 2 previous reviews.
    About this- the 3rd, what can I say?
    hmm, from each dramas, you point out good points and not good points as well, so this review won’t make tons of arguments like others.
    It’s smooth to read. and it is good to ease tension caused by differences in LOVE – HATE dramas from precious reviews.
    And it’s very logical.
    Thanks for the review! well done.
    And I am a City Haller too.
    So excited for 2010!

  88. 88 viola

    Thank you Samsooki for the wonderful review, the ending moved me very much. I truly admire your writing and the person you reveal yourself to be through it. Congratulations on your baby and I hope 2010 is a wonderfully happy year for you and your family. :)

  89. 89 cingdoc

    Don’t take this in a wrong way….but I feel like I have a superstar (you) as a friend…you have soooo many fans here. 2 thumbs up and beaming proud from me 😉

  90. 90 ltahk

    I’ve enjoyed reading your City Hall recaps as well as this year-end review. I’m a corporate lawyer, who faced with an incredibly slow billing year started watching k-drama as a way to kill some time in the office. Of course that quickly turned into a manic-obsession. And though I can’t claim 50+ in my rookie year, I took inventory and I think i’m around 20 (eek!). An unfortunate side-effect is that I no longer work out or read books (ha). And I also write comments on blogs – another 1st.

    I just wrapped up CitC. Really beautiful cinematography and completely absorbing, but needs a rewatch b/c of the intricate plot. One small gripe, the subtitles require subtitles. I’m still not sure if compeer is a word….

  91. 91 ironmouse

    Thank you for this thoughtful and entertaining review.

    I am with serendipity – there must be few more people helping you to watch all 50 dramas :o. Maybe you could write another review about time management :o.

    Besides dramas, one of the highlights for this year for me was the thread here about KJH and how you found the way of not clicking the link and therefore not losing your rights to KJH. It still cracks me up once in a while.

  92. 92 mzpakipot

    Samsooki! Congratulations on your first NEWBIE REVIEW!
    You have a nice way to put your opinions in good writing, and i do appreciate the fact that you’re not so brutally honest. So thank you for being extra-extra nice with your review. And of course, your wittiness is what made it so enjoyable to read!

    I Wish You, Mrs. Samsooki and Baby Ji Hoon a Happy and Prosperous NEW YEAR!

  93. 93 bbm

    @ samsooki 42 & 60,
    Wow, you’re going to stake your claim on KJH??!! Really?? are you ready for the craziness that going to ensue if you ever go there??!! well best of luck to you for entering that teritory… XD
    and btw, what would’ve happen with your Binnie, if ever (ever i say) you can get hold of KJH, he would’ve been sad, no?? LOL….

    @samsooki 77,
    please don’t drop Damo… from OT 114, Ockoala unnie been raving about it and it got me very curious… not going to expect you to recap it of course, you have to do CitC first :P… i just want to hear your opinion of it, since Ockoala unnie has raved so much on OT… now i sounded sooooo demanding… sorry samsooki

    wishing you, mrs. samsooki n baby ji hoon a wonderful new year!!!

  94. 94 birdscout

    Dear samsooki,

    Your many and varied intelligent contributions to this blog throughout the past months have really been appreciated by many, myself included. Not only did we learn about hairstyle products, recipes, law, and kdramas, but we got to LOL along the way! Thank you very much!

    I certainly did not get close to watching 50(!) dramas (are you by chance a non-somniac? a person who does not need to sleep as much as the average person?) But of the ones I’ve watched that were also in your 50, I agree with most of your thoughts. City Hall, Story of a Man, and You’re Beautiful were my top three favourites this year, although I’ve yet to see Tamra the Island, Friend Our Legend, and Kyung Sook, Kyung Sook’s Father. (Hope to catch up soon!)

    The one major difference of opinion is in regards to Assorted Gems. This is only my second family drama, now that I am not “afraid” of tackling 50+ episodes. It is more “realistic” than Sons of Sol Pharmacy (which I also loved) and I have come to really care about the characters, especially the main couple who has been nominated for a “Best Couple Award”, as someone else posted in the comments section of thunderbolt’s review. I thought you would have gotten a kick out of the duelling grandmas.

    Your comments about Cinderella Man really made me crack up. Every single cliche you pointed out had me laughing so much, even though I didn’t watch this one. TWO humidifiers, not just one! Ahn Seok Hwan has appeared in probably 50% of the dramas I’ve ever watched! But you know what? I LOVE every single one of these cliches, if done well. In fact, my dream when I finally travel to Korea is to spend an evening under the stars on a roof-top apartment, sitting on a square wooden table with someone playing an acoustic guitar and singing (as was done in Soulmate), and eating ramen from the lid of a gold-coloured pot.

    I think I enjoy kdramas so much because I love improving my Korean language skills; I love experiencing the emotions that come with caring for the characters in the dramas; I love feeling more connected to my Korean background which was semi-dormant for the past 40 years.

    Ultimately, I enjoy k-dramas with heart, and I enjoy reading your posts because you write with heart. Thanks!

  95. 95 bernadetteeee

    um. i love your review(: to be more specific…. i like the tone of your writing. plus, you say amusing things. and i agreed with almost everything you had to say (i say “almost” because i haven’t seen all of these dramas, in whole or in part[: ) but ohhh my gosh. i had noooo idea that you only started watching dramas this year. i always see you posting around the site &i thought you were a seasoned kdrama watcher. (hah; using the word seasoned to describe people always makes me think of foood. dahh. am so hungry D; )

  96. 96 cheonsa

    Thanks for the review, Samsooki! I’ve been looking forward to your review and the wait was worth it. I was nodding my head in agreement all through your review.

    “These dramas tend to mix cuteness and heart together in a way that Western television shows still haven’t figured out how to do consistently.” – My sentiments exactly! Now I get turned off by western dramas that I used to love – it’s all about the sex and deception. And yeah, even though some kdramas make me “dumber while watching it, literally, getting dumber by the episode”, I’m still hooked. Coffee Prince started the addiction, BOF brought it up a notch (haha, I can’t believe it too – but joining in the frenzy with kdrama addicts from all over the world at dramabeans, soompi and viikii was crazy fun) and City Hall and You’re Beautiful made me a hard core addict. I’ve watched so much kdramas in the past year – from classics like Star in my Heart, Fashion 70’s, Dae Jang Geum to all of the latest trendies, sageuks and family dramas from Mon to Sun, it’s many times more than all of the western dramas and HK dramas I’ve watched growing up. I can’t believe I only started kdramas beginning 2009! I’m now only catching up on Assorted Gems during this year end drama break and I love the drama for being so heartwarming and so true to life – family squabbles and all.

    Thanks to all kdrama lovers for sharing your love in this blog and at other forums. And I love the way you ended your review. Thanks for your words of wisdom, Samsooki. My only wish for 2010 is that my hubby may learn to appreciate kdramas just like you do.

    Have a blessed new year!

  97. 97 balletbabe

    Great Review! Totally agree with you on City Hall as Drama of the Year! Had everything I usually look for in a drama and did not let me down one bit through all 20 episode! Your pick for Disappointment Of The Year going to My Fair Lady would have been mine as well. I went into the drama with sooooooooooooooooooooo much expectation because of YEH but after 6 episodes I just couldn’t do it anymore. The only thing I liked in the drama was the fashion!!!

  98. 98 Liz

    Thank you for your input! Honestly, I know other people can’t have the same reaction to every drama and most things make me happy but I really liked QSD a lot. I can overlook stuff like you know Yuushin’s wife and child not being mentioned at all after the jump and some other issues for the times I was literally jumping up and down.

  99. 99 asianromance

    an awesome year in review! It’s sort of refreshing to hear a thoughtfully written POV from a newbie, who hasn’t been too jaded by korean dramas, especially the mediocre ones. I knew you have started watching kdramas recently, but I didn’t know you watched so many! I guess this proves that with good time management, anything is possible. And I’m glad you acknowledged Lee Yo Won. I haven’t watched QSD, but I do feel really bad for her, being in Go Hyun Jung’s spotlight and the ratings responsibility on her shoulders when Go Hyun Jung’s part ended.

  100. 100 deeta

    Samsooki, I loved your parting note a lot. What a great throwback from Goo Dongbaek’s words.

    Thanks so much for the reviews. I agree with a lot of what you said. My Fair Lady was by far my biggest disappointment as well mainly because I had such a huge anticipation for that drama. I mean, YEH, YSH, MCW, and JIW all in one drama. WHAT could go wrong? But apparently a whole lot!

    Happy New Year to you!

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