Drama Reactions & Reviews
Finding hidden gems and lumps of coal in 2009 [Year in Review, Part 5]
by | December 30, 2009 | 123 Comments

First, I’d like to start by thanking Sarah for inviting me to be a guest reviewer. I must admit that I was, at first, a bit daunted (okay, scared ****less would be more precise), but how else could I begin to pay a little back to those who have given me so much? I’m neither a blogger nor a writer, but I am an avid fan of kdramas (possibly, too avid), as well as Javabeans’ blog, and these past few years have been brighter and better because I get to come here, my home away from home, each and every day. Good company makes for good times. It truly is an honor to be included with the likes of Dahee, Thundie, JB…and, yes, even Samsooki 😉 .

Overall, I’d say 2009 had more to offer than the kdrama drought of the previous year, but as I watched more than 20 of this year’s fare (plus several more that I dropped midway), I found myself becoming increasingly…..well, grumpy. Usually, I tend to finish dramas that I start, I don’t have many expectations from dramas when they begin because I never know how they will affect me personally, and I don’t easily succumb to boredom…so what could’ve caused the permanent indentation on my forehead [from all the headdesking]?

Could it have been the number of daily dramas I was so easily suck[er]ed into watching due to fangirliness and the prospect of shared ogling and squeeing with friends (I haven’t forgotten who recommended those dramas to me, mind you!)? Had my tastes changed so drastically since reaching triple-digits for total dramas watched over the years? Or was I simply turning into one of those persnickety old ajummas with rapidly decreasing patience for idiocy? I’m sure it’s a combination of all that, along with an increased appreciation for solid writing, directing, and acting.

Then towards the end of the year, just when I thought I could not endure any more squama frontalis abuse, I finally watched Kwak Jung Hwan’s 2007 masterpiece, Conspiracy In The Court. It had always been a part of my Horn of Plenty (my ever-increasing list of dramas to watch), but it wasn’t until this mind-blowing experience that I finally realized why I had been drawn to the underrated gems of 2009 while being left unmoved by those that brought in the big ratings.


Conspiracy in the Court OST – “Parallel Lines (평행선)” by JK Kim Dong-wook (Because this is just an awesome song, covered in a decadent awesome sauce with whipped cream and a cherry on top.)
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So let’s begin with the daily dramas, shall we? They really do have to be taken with a grain mountain of salt. Don’t forget to turn your brain off at the door, and barricade yourself with some nice, soft cushions to lessen the blow from the oncoming barrage of drama clichés and caricatures.

(or as I like to call it – “I love you, and someone’s going to end up crying…a lot” and that someone was usually me [from the sheer torture])

Oh, Lee Jung Jin…this was your follow-up to Two Outs In The Bottom Of The Ninth? Lee Yu Ri was decent, Kim Jin Seong as little Jun was adorable (especially with that puppy). The second female lead deserved much more slapping than she dished out. Veteran Lee Soon Jae was his usual great self, but Kim Mi Kyung, whom I normally love, annoyed me to no end, as did Kang Boo Ja (who played LYR’s grandmother) and her circus make-up…for the entire 132-episode run.

(a.k.a. The Road Sure Was Long, Winding, and Torturous…so I took a left turn at Albuquerque and moved on)

I’m not ashamed to admit it. I watched this for Lee Sang Woo (and a group of kdrama-watching buddies). He’s no thespian, and he really does look like chipmunk (although, we’d affectionately named him hamster boy long ago), but everyone’s entitled to a little eye-candy now and then, right? This drama boasted some great veteran names (most daily dramas do), but it was the younger cast that had me running for the hills. Jang Shin Young was insipid and had little chemistry with Lee Sang Woo, and it wasn’t till far into the drama that I realized she was the actress I was so annoyed with in Rebirth-Next. Park Hye Won (Time Between Dog and Wolf) and Otani Ryohei (Soulmate) were cute, but I didn’t stick around long enough to see where their relationship went.

Yoon Sang Hyun was slated to play Lee Sang Woo’s older brother (which later went to Shim Hyun Tak), but it’s a good thing, for his career, that he ended up in Queen of Housewives, instead.

(a.k.a. Don’t worry about missing any of the drama because there’ll be more than enough flashbacks of what just happened five minutes ago, every two minutes!)

Another Lee Sang Woo drama (I was lured in by fanservice and the promises of my buddies – again!) Except, instead of family birth secrets, this one has the dreaded…..dum, dum, dum-dum…AMNESIA! And not just your ordinary amnesia, mind you…nor the initial amnesia followed by the second amnesia of the memories you accumulated during the first bout of amnesia – oh, no sir-ee…this one is ‘selective amnesia’ of all memories pertaining to the boyfriend who slept with your best friend (resulting in a child) and whose life you saved by donating part of your liver! Then, post-surgery, you go into a coma from the shock of it all, wake up three years later, and start working at the company where said lily-livered (pun intended!) ex-boyfriend works. You fall in love with your supervisor (Lee Sang Woo), who just happens to be the childhood friend of said ex-bf and his sister, who is also in love with the aforementioned supervisor. (What happened, Kim Young Jae? You were so adorable in My Sweet Seoul!) Oh, and you don’t remember your backstabbing best friend, either, and she just happens to be the first love of…..yeah, you guessed it -> your supervisor! OMG, kill me now!!!

I’ve fallen behind on watching this drama, but now that I’ve gone over its, er, finer points…I’ve realized that I won’t be picking it back up anytime soon.

I don’t know why they named it thus, except to torture us with that annoying theme song at the beginning of every episode (and after marathoning the first 40 episodes, I’d rather have listened to a cat singing a Tom Waits song while on acid). Oh Man Seok, who also gets my vote for Biggest Waste of Talent, is criminally underutilized. I don’t know how or why he ended up here, but the only thing that got me through much of this drama was trading snarks with Dahee. (Thank you, dear!) When they extended the drama to 150 episodes, I just about cracked my skull open as it came crashing down on the desk. Now, if only Oh Man Seok would sing a little bit more…or not wear such god-awful clothes, it would make the journey just a tiny bit more bearable. Oh, who am I kidding?! But I made a vow to finish this drama, and by golly, I will finish it!…someday?

Now, with all the headdesking I endure while watching daily dramas, you may wonder why I subject myself to such misery. In all honesty, I don’t really know, either. I only started watching daily dramas last year (except for one in 2006). Sometimes, it can be quite enjoyable watching a drama that’s so BAD that it’s so much fun to mock it with one’s friends. And other times, you just want to see the main couple overcome their trials and tribulations to finally BE TOGETHER.


I checked out this daily drama when it first started airing because of Lee Tae Sung (Two Outs In The Bottom Of The Ninth, Time Between Dog and Wolf, Romance Zero). Hong Min Soo (Kim Yoo Mi) and Jang Yoo Jin’s (Lee Tae Sung) noona-dongsaeng romance (she’s 35; he’s 29) is surprisingly sweet. What starts off as one-night stand turns into something much deeper, as Yoo Jin does his best to woo Min Soo – braving precarious heights while the entire neighborhood watches, to propose to her outside her window, and serenading her with a piano tune (and lovely singing, btw).

Go Doo Shim and Park In Hwan play Min Soo’s parents and are still happily married after 35+ years. Park Jung Soo and Im Chae Moo (last seen together in My Life’s Golden Age, in completely different roles) play Yoo Jin’s parents. Jang In Shik (Im Chae Moo) is an abusive, chauvinistic brute. Sometimes, I get the urge to strangle him with his own golf clubs, but I read a synopsis in which his wife finally leaves him after some of Min Soo’s independence and strength rubs off on her, so I’m holding out hope that he’ll be getting his comeuppance soon.

Okay, it does sound like almost any other daily drama, but I’m a sucker for romance. Here, I’m drawn to main couple…I’m invested, and I want to see them make a success of their marriage. It’s not going to win any awards (remember, it’s a daily drama), but it’s entertaining enough for me. Can I have my happy ending now?


Two trendy teen dramas. Both with avid crazed followings. Both overrated. But why was my experience with one so different from the other?

When BOF aired earlier in the year, I, too, got swept up in the mania…to some degree. I wasn’t crack-addicted, but I did tune in every Monday & Tuesday. Since it was the only one among its competitors I was watching at the time, it was the first drama I downloaded and watched on those days, and I was eager to do so. The writing, directing, and music left so much to be desired, and my head knew this wasn’t going to be the drama of the year – far from it, in fact…but my heart was invested. I even kept up with the faster-than-a-speeding-bullet soompi thread (and survived with my vision still intact!).

I was impressed by Lee Min Ho’s performance. He’s got natural talent and it shone. Gu Hye Sun wasn’t at her finest, but she didn’t bother me, either. Lee Hye Young, Jung Ho Bin, and Kim Young Ok’s performances deserve to be mentioned as well.

What about YB, you ask? I am fan of the Hong sisters. Hong Gil Dong is my favorite among their works. (sidenote: Samsooki, although you may continue to live the rest of your days in utter and complete delusion, Kang Ji Hwan is first JB’s, then mine…and if you’re very well-behaved, you may get visitation rights when baby Ji Hoon is old enough to chaperone you. 😛 )

I was entertained, and sometimes amused…but I never caught that “it” feeling from YB. You know, the one that makes you rush home from work, ignore your spouse, dinner, and anything else that gets in your way…just to feed your current crack-addiction. I had other dramas queued up for watching first, I didn’t go near any YB threads (except to read JB’s excellent recaps), and I never felt fully invested in the drama. While Jang Geun Suk’s performance awed many most, I was always cognizant of his “acting”. He does have natural talent, but I have yet to see him make the most of it in his adult roles.

To sum it all up: Did I regret watching either drama? No. Would I rewatch either of them? BOF – no. YB – yeah, maybe…but not anytime soon. (If you need to reach me, I’ll be hiding behind Dahee, ducking from the burning pitchforks thrown my way.)



That Fool OST – “길” (Dong-baek’s theme) by Choi Chul-ho [ Download ]

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This is considered a gem in my book because it is where I discovered the sublime brilliance that is Hwang Jung Min. Prior to watching this drama, I had only seen him in the movie, A Bittersweet Life. Could this be the same actor that played such a ruthless villain? It most certainly was. Hwang Jung Min immersed himself into this role so completely that the actor disappeared and what was left was 100% Gu Dong Baek. He elevated what would have been another forgettable show, into a jewel of a heartwarming, feel-good drama.

And don’t let the title mislead you – Gu Dong Baek was certainly no fool. He chose to view the world his way, following his own moral compass of goodness and sincerity. His genuine heart infected all those around him, including me.

Also, not to be missed is Hwang Jung Min’s bromance with Baek Sung Hyun. I certainly look forward to their reunion in the upcoming movie, Like The Moon Escaping From The Clouds.


Assorted Gems OST – “Tell Me” by KCM [ Download ]

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Unlike the other weekend dramas I began watching around the same time (Yes, I’m talking about you, Creating Destiny, Loving You A Thousand Times, and Smile, You), this one left me with not a single urge to fling my head against the nearest hard, flat surface…not one temptation to throw the first object within reach at my precious laptop screen…nor the desire to jump into the drama to strangle the nearest annoying character. (It happened just as my state of grumpiness was reaching its all-time high, so this was certainly no easy feat.) This is what good writing and a talented ensemble cast can do. The writer, Im Sung Han, who was previously known for her makjang-ish dramas chock-full of histrionics, decided to stay far away from those elements this time around. The result? A well-written, solid weekend drama…and it gets my vote for Best Family Drama. It started out with dismal ratings, but they have steadily increased over time, like the tortoise that quietly keeps chugging along in the race against hare.

The Goong children, Go Na Eun (Bi Chwi -> jade), So Yi Hyun (Ruby), Lee Hyun Jin (San Ho -> coral), and Lee Il Min (Ho Bak -> amber) have a special relationship with each other. Bi Chwi is mother hen of the brood, willing to sacrifice herself for the sake of her siblings (like any normal Korean mother would). She and Ruby are especially close. They are each other’s sounding boards – yes, they confide, they confer…they think. Forced to take on the role of the adults in the family because of their own parents’ continual mishaps (Dad’s a philanderer & Mom’s a gambler – played by veteran actors, Han Jin Hee and Han Hye Sook, respectively.), the Goong children must, time and time again, pick up the pieces of the messes their parents leave behind. Finally, once the last straw has broken the camel’s back, they band together to preserve and protect what’s left of their sanity, as well as their own physical well-being, and decide send their parents packing. It may sound harsh on the surface, but it is handled in a mature, realistic fashion. The immature, selfish “parents” are sent to live with the grandmothers, who are also deliciously flawed in their own right.

Kim Young Ok as the paternal grandmother, Gyul Myung Ja is FAB-U-LOUS (and gets my vote for Best Supporting Actress). Her name may mean cassia flower seed, but she’s anything but fragrant and flowery. She’s got the tongue of a sailor and the strength to match. (I sooo want to be like her when I’m old/gray[er]. 😀 )

Jung Hye Sun is the maternal grandmother, Baek Jo, which means swan in Korean. She’s a prima donna with a penchant for home shopping.

Together, these two make up the Best Odd Couple. They are each other’s neighbors, nemeses, and confidantes. They get into ridiculously hilarious brawls, rent hanbok (traditional Korean dresses) that look more at home in an amusement park parade or on top of a cake than on any normal Korean, and dance to Brown Eyed Girls’ Abracadabra (multiple times!). Need I say more? Well, as hilarious as they both are (their shenanigans seriously make my sides ache whenever I fall into fits laughter), the writer has also ensured that their characters are given more depth than merely being used as comic relief. Neither is relegated to the boring role of “elder who must uphold Confucian values and ensure that order and peace prevail within the family.” Aw, hayell no. Each is a living, breathing human being with her own wants and desires.

Newbie actor Michael Blunck plays the Goong family’s Buddhist monk-in-training tenant. (An American playing an American – what a novel idea!) His constant squinting as he tries to emote in the early episodes is quite distracting, but his acting does improve as the drama progresses. And I’ve got to give him mucho props for his Korean. How wonderful is it to have a non-Korean speak Hangeul so well, in addition to his flawless English? Much, much better, say I, than unintelligible English from a European…or a Korean who supposedly studied in the U.S. (Who else, besides me, was forced to read the Hangeul subtitles in Job Well Done in order to understand what Seo Hyo Rim was supposed to be saying in English?) And his character, Kyle Huntington, grows on you. He’s a strange amalgam of part – lost little boy, part – neighborhood ajumma.

Lee Tae Gon (Im Sung Han must be a fan because of his because of all the fanservice he gets) plays the other tenant, who develops a romance with Go Na Eun. Theirs is not a teeny-bopper romance. It’s a slow-simmering love story between mature adults. It certainly wins for best hug, as well as best hand-holding-near-miss. Other dramas have tried the latter, but none measure up to the one here.

Two more things about this drama, in case you need more reasons to watch it –> 1) FOOD PORN! The dishes aren’t fancy, but they remind me of my mother’s and grandmother’s home cooking. I always find myself extremely hungry while watching these scenes and even craving dishes I didn’t really enjoy that much as a child. 2) Fantasy sequences. While YB had my favorite stand-alone fantasy sequence (idol group fanfic), Assorted Gems has the best overall cumulative, well-placed fantasy sequences. (One word of warning, though – recent episodes have been using the fantasy sequences in the previews, but I blame the PD for this bait-and-switch tactic, not the writer.)

So, we’ve got solid writing, excellent acting, hilarious comedy, a 30-something year-old male Caucasian ajumma, fanservice, romance, food porn, and fantasy sequences. Now, don’t you want to try a taste of this Jewel Bibimbap?


I had heard early on in the year what a gem this drama was, but I never had a chance to watch it until last week while visiting my family. I had an interesting experience watching this drama with my 98 year-old grandmother and my uncle, both of whom lived through the Korean war. I only know the general stories of their and my parents’ experiences during that time, but for most who survived (as well as those who didn’t), it wasn’t very pleasant. The first thing my uncle said while watching Jung Bo Suk as Kyung Sook’s father was, “There really were fathers like that.” And that is what this drama is about – a realistic snapshot of what it was like for this particular young girl (played so brilliantly by Shim Eun Kyung) during the war.

True, this drama is not for everyone, but I don’t think it is necessary for one to have a Korean background to really appreciate this drama. Just as it isn’t necessary for one to be in a similar situation as Willy Loman to understand Death of a Salesman. I bring up the theatre because this drama is an adaptation of a play. I didn’t know this fact while watching it, but once I learned of its origin, my reaction to the drama made much more sense. There are plays/movies/dramas you watch purely for entertainment, and there are those you watch for something more – a hard look at human nature. Kyung Sook, Kyung Sook’s Father belongs to the latter category. It’s not a comfortable watch, but I don’t believe it’s meant to be. I found myself very uncomfortable whenever Kyung Sook’s grandmother (played by Jung Jae Soon) was on the screen. Here was a woman with nary a maternal instinct in her, willing to forgo food for entire family for god only knows how long, just so she could eat chicken on her birthday.

As for the laughter? I didn’t find this drama funny at all, but I understood why it would be approached with a dark comedic bent -> because the alternative to laughter…is tears. The comedy wasn’t trying to make light of the tragedy. To me, it was merely the way the tragic circumstances of that era could be retold without causing one to fall into an utter and dismal abyss. Again, I think of Alan Cumming’s stage performance as the emcee in Cabaret (the musical was set in Berlin in the 1930’s during the Nazi’s rise to power).

This drama reminds us not to forget what transpired during that harrowing time, but it is also a beautiful peek into the life of a young girl searching for hope…for some way to cope with what life has thrown at her.


This is the first of three underrated dramas I’m going to mention that didn’t get the ratings numbers it deserved (they fluctuated in the 5-10% range) but demonstrated the quality that could be reached when dramas are pre-produced, as in filmed before airing. I watched the film version before I started watching the drama, so I already had an idea of what Kwak Kyung Taek could bring to the drama scene. I didn’t have a chance, however, to finish the drama due to time constraints, but from what I did see, I’m confident that this is going to be another hidden gem from 2009. It’s currently sitting at the top of my Horn of Plenty list.


Tamna the Island – “그저 말하고 싶어” (I just want to say) by HowL [ Download ]

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This was the little drama that could…and did…..and then got screwed by MBC. It began filming about a year before its first broadcast and had most of its footage completed when the higher-ups (Damn you! Damn you to HAY-YELLLLLLL!!!!!! *shakes fists*) cut its run from 20 to 16 episodes because of dismal ratings (usually in the 5-6% range, nationwide). They had already made a similar cut to Strike Love a few months earlier (which I didn’t watch but, by all accounts, heard that the ending was quite unsatisfactory). Would the same fate befall our little pearl of a drama?

I lurve fusion sageuk. Throw in some romance, noteworthy acting, humor, and heart…and, normally, I’m sold faster than tickets to a Hallyu fanmeeting & concert. But like many others, I didn’t join Team Islander right away. It took a few episodes to get past the cringe-worthy English scenes and not-so-subtle humor to reach heart of the Island. And this drama had a lot of heart. It wasn’t just about an arrogant, city nobleman who falls in love with the plucky island girl. It’s about a man who falls in love with, and is forever transformed by, the island itself.

Fortunately, despite some awkward flow, the truncated episodes were still moving and thoroughly entertaining. Im Ju Hwan delivers a breakthrough performance as Park Kyu. And if you didn’t clutch your heart or stifle your own cries alongside him in episode 11, then your membership on Team Park Kyu is highly suspect. Seo Woo as the bubbly Beo Jin suited her role well (any complaints with her character would have to be blamed on the writing, not her performance). Kim Mi Kyung as Beo Jin’s mom was a joy to watch, and Jung Joo Ri was a hoot. I, for one, can’t wait to see the uncut version. Team Park Kyu, FTW!


Return of Iljimae OST – “매화가 흐드러진 날” (A day the plum blossoms were beautiful”
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This drama is the third example of the quality that can be achieved when a drama is produced prior to airing. Ratings started at a promising 18%, but gradually declined, reaching around 8% at its finale. But like most, if not all, of my favorites, a drama’s ratings is no indicator of quality for me.

There isn’t much I can add to Javabeans’ eloquent recaps and review of this drama. It was one my favorite ones I watched this year, and it ranks very high in my all-time favorites list. It was simply beautiful in every sense – another fusion sageuk, but one with such exquisite directing that I was often left in awe and amazement. This was a manhwa adaption done right. Hwang In Roi succeeded here, where he failed with Goong. The emotions and longing between the characters permeated through the lens simply by the way a shot was framed.

I loved everything about this drama – the cinematography, score, action, writing, and acting. Jung Il Woo’s emotions shone even when all you could see was his eyes behind his black mask. Yoon Jin Seo suited the dual role of Iljimae’s two loves: his first love as a boy – Dal Yi, and his lifelong love as a man – Wol Hee. Jung Hye Young and Kim Min Jong were especially moving in their performances, as was the rest of the supporting cast. This one hero’s journey from a boy to a man during turbulent times should not be missed.

[And if anyone can direct me to where I can find the song that plays during Iljimae & Wol Hee’s reunion in Episode 8 (it’s not on the OST), I will be eternally grateful! 😀 ]


This was another family drama I enjoyed this year. It began in 2008 but aired more than half of its episodes in 2009. It had a lot of warmth and portrayed Korean Confucian values in a way that didn’t make me want to commit serious headdesking. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The family relationships were touching, and I found myself having many insightful discussions with my parents about our own family history. The romance between the two main characters, as well as the supporting couples, was beautiful to watch as the drama unfolded. After you’ve finished Assorted Gems, I’d recommend checking this one out as well.

Currently my favorite Wed/Thurs drama (at least, until Chuno begins). I’m not a Lee Junki fan, but I’m thoroughly enjoying this quirky little drama. Veteran actor Baek Yoon Shik is amazing as the former gangster, Jo Yong Deok (he’s also the father of actor Baek Do Bin). Yoon So Yi is well-cast as a female detective, and Uhm Ki Joon never disappoints (well, except when the writing in a drama is so, so bad that everything goes to hell in a hand basket *cough* Job [Not] Well Done *cough*)

A fun and funny cable drama about a group of misfit employees at a matchmaking agency. Lee Tae Sung (Enjoy Life) stars in this one, as well as contributing to the soundtrack. It has a lot of guest actors you may recognize from other dramas this year, including a few Hwarang warriors (for those of you Queen Seon Duk fans). My favorite episodes so far (I’ve only finished a little over half of the drama) have been episodes 7 and 8 – a gangster with certain..er, issues…when it come comes to women, and rich playboy who falls in love with a country school teacher. I plan on catching up with this drama as soon as I can.

For me, this drama was just okay overall – it started off fun but became quite draggy, especially after it was extended, and I just couldn’t feel for Kim Nam Joo’s character. She was irritating to the point of grating on my nerves. Oh Ji Ho was pretty vanilla, and Sun Woo Sun was…inoffensive, is the only word I can come up with. This was Yoon Sang Hyun’s breakout role, but I couldn’t get into the whole Ji Ae/Tae Joon dynamic. Besides, the title of the drama is Queen of “naejo” – naejo refers to a wife’s help/support/assistance to her husband, everything she does for the household and behind the scenes in order for her husband to succeed. For there even to be a possibility of a Ji Ae/Tae Joon pairing, they would have had to change the drama’s title. But the one bright star that emerged from this drama was the Lee Hye Young/Choi Chul Ho couple. Choi Chul Ho, known for sageuk (historical) and dramatic roles, gave the comic performance of his career. If I were to ever rewatch this drama, it would only be to fast-forward to his scenes.


Has the bar been raised too high? I don’t think so. I consider it a natural evolution of my drama-watching experience. I still love me my romances and light, entertaining fluff, but I’ve also come to appreciate greatness when it graces us with its elusive presence. I hope to find many more hidden (and, hopefully, some not so hidden) gems in 2010.


123 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. thunderbolt

    “The second female lead deserved much more slapping than she dished out.”

    LOL, that was priceless! *runs back giddily to read, big fat grin on face*

  2. dramalover

    thank you for your efforts but this review is the worst of all the reviews so far. Too much fooling around and not much serious thought. NEXT PLEASE.

  3. yen_nguyen

    thank you for reminding me of Romance zero, I used to like it a lot but I don’t know why I forgot when I mentioned my Top dramas.
    it’s really unique and attractive but was cut ( like Soul mate)
    what a pity!

  4. Samsooki


    What a wonderful review. *clap* *clap* The songs were amazing choices, and can I say? “Parallel Lines (평행선)” by JK Kim Dong-wook is my new favorite song ever, which means, of course, that CitC is just around the corner.

    I feel so happy after reading your Year End. It’s like Parallel Lines. That’s what you and I are. We will never intersect or agree on KJH, but that doesn’t mean I won’t see you daily and we won’t ever be further apart than we are now. 🙂

  5. Reese

    How sad. I only watched three dramas on this list.

    I started and got to episode 28 (or something like that) of “I Love You, Don’t Cry” before I was forced to give up. Stupid friends and their incessant need to spoil endings for me. After I found out the ending there was no way in hell I was going to watch the rest of that drama and set myself up for the disappoint that would happen in coming episodes…for me anyway.

    “Return of Iljimae” was definitely better than “Iljimae”. I managed to get through “Return of Iljimae” which meant I liked it enough to finish it (for which I’m grateful, cause it was actually a good drama) and I got through about twenty minutes of “Iljimae” before I gave up. I completely agree with your take on “Return…”

    And of course “Assorted Gems”. You managed to articulate everything much better than I could have done and I agree with it completely (how could I not? it was a perfect review of AG). I must admit things are definitely getting good in the drama right about now and I can’t wait for the confrontations that are sure to occur.

    Great job! 😀

    • 5.1 gracie

      Hehehe… I watched 4 minutes and 30 seconds of iljimae before I gave up:)

  6. thunderbolt

    What an awesome, awesome review! I kept giggling throughout. LOVE everything you wrote about Assorted Gems and am thrilled that we have the same picks (Best Family Drama, Best Supporting Actress, Best Odd Couple).

    I’ve been curious about Family Honor because I heart Shin Goo. After reading your review, I’m going to buy the set.

    Now get your much-needed rest! *hugs*

  7. charlie

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your year end review! I always think it’s nice to read what others think about dramas they have watched and now I’ve added some more to my “HAVE to watch list!” 😀

  8. charis

    Yay! I enjoy reading your review, hjkomo. Thanks for writing about Tamra Island! You’re so right. It’s sad IJH didn’t win the award he deserve with his tears. Hero was pretty much ignored even though it has witty storyline.
    🙂 Happy new year!

  9. GreenFreak

    Thank you for taking the time to share your opinion! 🙂

    I enjoyed the first half of Family Honor, not so much the latter half. The many problems they to overcome seemed ridiculous after a while. And what was with the time frame ??… it seemed forever… yet the step mother was barely pregnant. All that happened in less than 9 months. o.O

    I’m watching Assorted Gem now, so far it’s been entertaining… hopefully it last.

    Good to hear you enjoyed Hero, since no one has mentioned it, I wasn’t planning to watch it, even though I’m a Lee JunKi fan. But now I might.

    Again thanks, I enjoyed reading every word.

  10. 10 Masaya

    Nice review hjkomo. I paid special attention to Tamra part because that’s the only drama I finished watching.

  11. 11 neverletgo

    I LOVE your review of Assorted Gems. I am so glad that the drama is becoming more popular and receiving better ratings. I usually shy away from family dramas but I got sucked into this one because of BC and YG’s romance. Your description of their relationship is perfect:

    “It’s a slow-simmering love story between mature adults. It certainly wins for best hug, as well as best hand-holding-near-miss. ”

    I just hope that we will not be disappointed but will be able to see many more tender moments between them. =D

  12. 12 ockoala

    Wonderful review, hjkomo! I hope you are catching up on sleep now. 😉

    I don’t think I’ll ever venture near a daily drama, but I love to hear your views on them cuz, well, if you can sum up a story in one paragraph that takes 150 episodes to air, then bravo for me who loves condensed nuggets of goodness!

    I have nothing more to add other than: TEAM PARK KYU Fighting! And Team Underdog Hang In There! (I’m a gonna start Hero tonight, hee, since I couldn’t find CitC anywhere to watch, boo).

    And lastly……..Jan 6, 2010 – Chunojamma’s Unite! More abs, please, PD nice man.

  13. 13 jm126

    Out of all the reviews this is the one I share the least in common with. But it was still an interesting read neverthless.

  14. 14 listennothear

    That was a great review! I kept grinning the entire time! Not too shabby for someone who claims to not be a writer! 😀 Good job!

  15. 15 trixicopper

    Thank you for your reveiw. I enjoyed reading it. I liked the fact that you included daily dramas in your list.
    Sorry to see that you don’t intend to continue following the trauma and drama that is “The further adventures of liverboy, Hot Cake and Ms. Huh?”. It isn’t just the repetition, utter stupidity and amnesia. Who can resist the fact that there have been 4, count them 4, separate characters who have been in some state of long term unconciousness in only 60 episodes! Actually the best part , and probably the only reason I still watch this is the group on viikii is very snarkilicious. Even though I am risking having a permanent flat spot on my forehead from banging my head on my desk!

  16. 16 thunderbolt

    Btw, it tickles me so that this is the second year in a row that Conspiracy in the Court manages to sneak into the review even though it’s a 2007 drama! 😆 Love, love that Parallel Lines song. Samsooki, wait till you watch the scenes where it is played. CiTC’s OST is fantastic.

  17. 17 nabi

    Well first I want to say just ignore any of those rude and thoughtless comments.

    It was real fun reading your review.. and wow.. you do watch a lot of dramas. I liked your review because you covered a lot of daily dramas which I simply do not watch (the only exceptions were Be Strong, Geum-soon which I am yet to finish, and 있을때 잘해 (I don’t know what its English title is) which I endured through just to see the fabulous Mr. Kim Yun-seok). I think talents are most likely to be always wasted in daily dramas which is why I do not ever want my fav actors to do daily dramas.. it was a torture forcing myself to watch them just to see the actor I like… Your summaries of those dramas confirm my thoughts on daily dramas yet again–that they just suck. There used to be good ones in the olden days, but it’s really difficult to find good daily dramas nowadays.

    Also the family dramas.. I generally don’t watch them because they usually have too many characters which means I get to see less of the main leads..

    Like you I have a long list of dramas to watch.. I wish I had more time so I can finally watch them all and then rewatch my favorite dramas again and again. ROI is on that list and CitC as well.. I watched it up to ep 7 and left it there.. in 2007. I’ll probably have to start over from ep 6 since it’s been a long time.

    Tamra the Island has become one of my top 5 favorite dramas to date.. I’ve become to heart this drama. Love the acting, music, and the beautiful cinematography… the chemistry between actors regardless of whether they were the main leads or in supporting roles was excellent, too. Thanks for putting Tamra poster on top ^^

  18. 18 Anonymous

    Standing ovation from your Cal sister….good job…I didn’t watch all the drama’s that you’ve mentioned but those that I did ( CitC 😉 , Tamna Island, BOF and YAB), I totally agreed with your analysis and breakdown.

    Excuse me for a sec….
    @2 dramalover
    Until I have read your well written review, please try to refrain yourself from stating demeaning comment!!! I guess that you have NO IDEA how much time and efforts these guys put in when they write these reviews…please be nice about it.

    Sorry, JB and hjkomo 😉

    I’m back….
    Thank you JB, Dahee, thunderbolt, Samsooki and hjkomo….so much time, so much (re)watching, so much thinking and writing….I really appreciate all your hard work….Have a very Happy and Healthy New Year….

  19. 19 Anna :D

    Awesome Review!!

    I’m really considering watching Assorted Gems now…

    I agree with you COMPLETELY on Tamna the Island!!
    I LOVED LOVED LOVED it soooooooo much and i was totally team Park Kyu 🙂

    thanks anyways haha

  20. 20 cingdoc

    @18 was me…in case you guys don’t know by now…me and the crazy internet 😉

  21. 21 MEIKO**** ^-^

    ^_^ am glad you mentioned return of iljimae…was hoping someone liked it…

  22. 22 ockoala

    I believe @ 18 is our beloved sweetie cingdoc. Your computer hating on you again?

  23. 23 Samsooki


    I am honestly chomping at the bit to watch CitC now. I might explode in flames if it is as good as Parallel Lines mp3. This song sounds like a bad-ass gangster who is caught in sageuk, rapping… (gotta play the Parallel Lines song while you rap – this isn’t a translation, I just made it up as an ode to why hjkomo should give up her delusion that kjh is anyone’s but mine.)

    So I’m there in the fields of pain
    Wavin my pitchfork, waitin for the grain
    Oh, oh, oh but when will it rain?

    No harvest means I gotta head to court
    But what do I hear, there’s a conspiracy in the court
    They keep telling me to watch for my life
    What can I do, I’m just a brother with a scythe.

    The king is a righteous man, but what he can do?
    Gold against blood, too many against too few
    No right, no wrong, just Lee Na Young and Park Sang-Gyu.

    H to the J to ko to the mo is the muse of this rhyme
    And she just keeps bustin, bustin, bustin on my time

    H to the J to ko to the mo is the muse of this rhyme
    She just keeps bustin, bustin, bustin on what’s mine.

    KJH ftw, i’m outie. 😀

  24. 24 hjkomo

    Thank you, everyone! 😀

    @ 3 yen_nguyen
    Oh, no! Romance Zero was cut? Do you mean it had a cliffhanger ending with no season 2, like Soulmate? I still enjoyed Soulmate a lot, though, so I’m still planning on finishing RZ.

    @ 4 Samsooki
    You’ve got one week to watch CitC before Chuno begins. 😉

    @ 15 trixicopper
    LOL. If Hot Cake ever makes his way back to a decent drama, I’ll be sure to tune in. Same with Liverboy. 🙂

    @ 17 nabi
    I didn’t even get far enough to include my list of Lumps of Coal. I just plain ran out of time. Did you know that CitC came out with a director’s cut edition. The episodes are each about 15 minutes longer, so you may want to start over from the beginning with the director’s cut.

    @ 18 cingdoc
    Of course I knew it was my Cal sister!

    @ Samsooki
    LMAO!!!! See? You ARE a writer…and a rapper to boot!
    Hubby is giving me the “you crazy” stink-eye. 😛

  25. 25 GreenFreak


    Samsooki, I actually thought they were the lyrics of the song until I got to the end part.

    LOL 😀

  26. 26 Sonam

    Wow, I haven’t watched anything on this list except 8 episodes of BBF.
    The poster of Tamna the island is so cool …it makes me want to watch the drama.
    AG sounds like my kind of drama. Home cooking scenes sound wonderful. Never cared for the dramas devoted to fancy cuisines and even fancier chefs.

  27. 27 Snikki

    Awesome! I really enjoyed reading your reviews. 🙂

  28. 28 thunderbolt

    OMG, I just cracked two ribs because of that rap. Sending you my hospital bill, Samsooki.

    I bet ten packs of Baby Ji-hoon’s diapers that you’re going to fall in love with Kim Ha-eun in CiTC. She might just nudge KSA off a certain pedestal, beware. And just to kill any ideas you might have while/after watching CiTC, Jin Yi-han and Lee Chun-hee are MINE. You can have any of the courtiers or the queen dowager. 😀

  29. 29 cingdoc

    @23 Samsooki
    You’re pulling my leg, right? I mean I don’t understand Korean (except the obligatory OPW/ OPPA), but somehow I don’t think that’s the lyric to the song…what I felt every time that I heard that song was…conflict….internal conflict…that’s all I can say without giving out the plot to you…YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS 😉
    ps…what’s that reference about KJH at the end ??? what outie???

    I forgot to say that this piece of review is definitely DwinelleHall ( where all my English lectures were) worthy 😉

  30. 30 hanjanman

    Congratulations hjkomo!!! I loved this. Very well written and so funny. I LOL’ed quite a few times. I will try to watch those that you liked.

    BTW, ignore dramalover. I’ve read all her comments before. She’s a miserable c*w.


    Nope. That’s it. That’s the last review. Now we’d like to hear from you. What is your view of the past year’s kdramas? I bet you would give us a wonderful read. Looking forward to it.

  31. 31 cingdoc

    You’ve edited your post while I was typing my last post….sheesh…I got it now….you little stinker you…I’m gonna have a talk with Ji Hoonie and tell him what a stinker his Daddy is 😉
    FYI….I’m on @hjkomo’s side, so don’t try to MINE KJH 😉

  32. 32 ockoala

    Alright here why did no one tell me CitC is also known as Seoul Sad Song! Found it, gonna watch with Chinese subs, wish me luck of it’s as dense as I’ve been forewarned. Must watch with samsooki’s rap in mind.

  33. 33 Sushi

    I’m not totally in agreement with you about YAB, I really liked it and wouldn’t compare it to BBF at all, but I do agree about Assorted gems. I really like that show a lot, and it shows a lot of good variety. I’m going to have to watch Kyung sook, kyung sook’s father because from your review and Dahee’s it seems worth watching!!

  34. 34 ruthie

    after reading all the 5 reviews…i’ll probably put THAT FOOL on my to watch list.
    seems like its a good drama. thanks for the wonder review~

  35. 35 gia

    Oh Man Seok, who also gets my vote for Biggest Waste of Talent


  36. 36 cingdoc

    If I may, I would recommend you to watch CitC on AZVN ( that’s what our beloved @hjkomo suggested to me …thanks 😉 It’s eng subbed and director’s cut…it’s a splendid drama…one just can’t stop thinking about it …for days…really 😉

  37. 37 avonmarissa

    Thanks for your review. I enjoyed Romance Zero as well- the gangster’s story was my favorite, followed by the 싸가지(jacka**) playboy. Job well done, Ms. hjkomo.

  38. 38 Ani

    Thanks for your great reviews, I enjoyed reading them. I agree with you in regards to Tamna the Island, BOF, and YAB.

  39. 39 Janie

    hjkomo, I always appreciate your wit and insight on certain dramas at soompi and did think that you would be a great guest for JB’s year-end review and here you are! I thoroughly enjoyed your review, so graceful and so heartily done; Congratulations and thank you on a job well done!
    Have in mind to pick two of the recommended dramas above to watch and that Jewel Bibimbap sure sounds pretty appetizing!

    oh ya, I shall pick 3 forgot about Conspiracy in the Court

    #16 p.s. thundie, I still haven’t had time to dl tat awesome drama you’ve been prattling about ;p

  40. 40 thunderbolt

    Soompi CiTC thread:


    Go to page 5 and you’ll find the un-Samsooki translation of Parallel Lines. Nothing about pitchforks and scythes!

    #32 ockoala, you’re not watching with WITHS2’s Director’s Cut subs? 🙁

  41. 41 momosan

    Super stuff hjkomo!
    I had forgotten about Romance Zero. That was a little gem.

    So, another vote for Assorted Gems, and another for Tamra the Island – I bailed on ep 1, but apparently I must endure through the bleach blond French guy badly playing an English guy to get to the real story.

  42. 42 smiles

    I agree with you. I LOVED TAMRA. I am team ParkKyu and have become a IJH fan since watching this drama.

  43. 43 viola

    congratulations on your first review! It was well written and very funny. I went lol quite a few times. 🙂

  44. 44 cingdoc

    “Tamra the Island – I bailed on ep 1, but apparently I must endure through the bleach blond French guy badly playing an English guy to get to the real story.”…
    I have to warn you that you also have to endure one too many times of “WILLIAM…..”but once you fall in love with Park Kyu, every other thing that annoys you would seem irrelevant 😉 There’s ALWAYS open enrollment for TEAM PARK KYU 😉

  45. 45 viola

    @ dramalover
    Do you have any idea how much time, effort, editing and sheer hardwork that goes into writing a piece as long as this one? You are entitled to your opinions but try not to be so discouraging!

  46. 46 Kay

    Thanks for the review!
    It was really fun to read.
    Too bad for me, I haven’t watch most of the dramas in here, but I think my next will be definitely AG, its been review for almost all of you, so Ill have to give it a try (I’m not too fond with daily dramas, but with such good remarks I have to make an exception).
    Anyway, I agree with the ones I do watch, sadly Tamra don’t have english subs, so I couldn’t end this one, but I enjoyed the first episodes (I think the fan sub worked till episode 5)
    Thanks a lot, I cant wait to see the final post for this 2009.

  47. 47 ockoala

    @ thundie dear

    1. I don’t know how to DL dramas and do the WITHS2 subs thingie. I need a tutorial on that stat!

    2. Also, with sagueks, I prefer to watch it with Chinese subs, in no small part due to the use of Chinese characters in sagueks that are more meaningful for me to comprehend. However, I may have to watch CitC twice if I come across not understanding it.

  48. 48 ALYN

    Yes! Someone else who gives Tamra the praise it deserves! It’s such a shame that so many people either won’t give it a chance or bail early on without sticking with it because this drama is marvelous. No other drama this year got me so emotionally invested in the story and most importantly the characters.

    Team Park Kyu indeed! A character you will have a difficult time letting go of.

  49. 49 ber

    nice review! 😀

  50. 50 asianromance

    Thank you for your review! yay you mentioned Romance Zero! I didn’t realize it was a 2009 drama! The gangster episodes are also my favorite ones of the series. I also loved the ones with the playboy and the country schoolteacher. I definitely replayed them quite a few times and sighed many a romantic sigh. And there was a lol BOF parody in there too with the gangster episodes. Jay Kim’s (from the rock band, TRAX) character and his failed plots to destroy the romance zero team are also hilarious.

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