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Somewhere Over the K-Drama Rainbow [Year in Review, Part 3]

The other day, I sat down and thought long and hard about all of the various dramas that I’ve seen over the course of my life. I remembered secretly turning on the T.V. as a small child and pressing my nose against the glass, fascinated with the powerful, forbidden emotions at play somewhere inside that magical box (forbidden because my mother had deemed that I was too young to watch a story about cheating husbands and raging women). I remembered how, as a preteen, I would rent boxfuls of dramas at a time, taking out one video tape as soon as it was done and putting in the next, the addiction overpowering silly needs like food or drink.

And I looked at how I’m approaching dramas today. How the initial addiction has worn away, and how that magic sheen that had coated my eyes is long gone. I am no longer capable of returning to those golden days when I watched everything and anything without judgment, and always with a sense of pleasure. It’s a frame of mind that is lost to me. This sense of having slipped into a different viewpoint when approaching dramas has never been as strong as it was this year.

Because you know what? I took a look at the list of dramas that have aired this year. I remembered every twinge of disappointment, every flicker of anger. And I thought, “It’s no friggin’ wonder I’ve become so grumpy. 2011 SUCKED FLAMING CHICKEN BALLS.”

But for the sake of space and time, I will not mention the dozens of dramas that I tried to watch (and love), and ultimately ended up abandoning out of sheer disgust. I will not mention Shitty Hunter, Can You Hear My Bowel Movement, Smile Diarrhea, Best Lard, or Lie To My Bladder. Instead, I will stick to the dramas I stuck to (although that will require mention of a few duds), and try to shed light on some shows that I feel were tragically ignored this year. Because despite this being one of the worst years for K-dramas in recent memory, there were still a few gems that appeared out of the blue, and helped me to endure what has been the most tiring and frustrating year for me as a K-drama fan since the terrible year that was 2008. Maybe this means that we’re due for another good year? While the current crop of dramas airing right now don’t exactly support that view, there’s always hope…

The following are arranged in alphabetical order, and are divided between long dramas and short dramas.

SONG OF THE DAY

Park Wan-kyu – “하루애” (A Day of Love) from The Princess’ Man OST. [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
LONG DRAMAS

 
Dream High

The main thing I took away from this show is: “Man, this is weird.”

The thing is, before it aired, I expected it to be absolutely insufferable, and to be full of all the kinds of things I hate about Hallyu and idol casting. Yet it turned out to be harmless fluff at best. It did have its insulting moments, but never to the extent that I initially expected. Sure, Bae Yong Joon still gives me the heebie jeebies, and someone should really tell JYP that he should just squash his dreams of being a Big Time Actor right here and now. And yes, the acting was atrocious all around, with even Eom Ki Joon phoning in his performance, and normally sweet and underrated actresses like Lee Yoon Ji being dreadfully misused. The only real highlight, acting-wise, was Kim Soo Hyun. I wouldn’t say he was amazing or anything, but when you’re surrounded by people who can’t even crack a smile without making it look like an exercise in painful constipation, and when you’re the only person who has a clue when it comes to acting, you look that much better for it. Plus, he’s adorable.

Let’s face it: The writing was flimsy and shallow at best, and there were some horribly cheesy moments that made me gag more than a little. (I do not understand what was so great about that scene where they all sing SNSD’s “Genie.” I mean, it was SO UNBEARABLY CHEESY. I could’ve been okay with just the dancing, but that guy crying while watching it…? Give me a break. Someone please explain its charm to me.) The music was bad, and the vocal talents of much of its cast more than a little questionable. And I was SO BORED so much of the time. BUT. The directing was actually, well, kinda good. And because it was good, it saved this show from utter failure. The atmosphere that it managed to create, one of warmth and good cheer, kind of saved what would otherwise have been completely unbearable crap. It makes me wonder what this PD has in store for the future (y’know, besides Dream High 2). Keep in mind that I added that “kind of” – I’m still not a fan of this show, and I certainly wouldn’t consider it to be “good.” It’s very forgettable. But it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be, and in a year when even dramas that I was anticipating turned out to be unbearable, I guess that’s saying something.

 
 
Flames of Ambition

Yes, I realize that I talked about this show in my 2010 review, too. But a sizable chunk of it aired in 2011 as well, and I am not one to pass up the chance to gush over this wonderful drama that warmed my black, black heart.

The episodes that aired in 2011 (the show ended in March) were ones that centered around things like the reunion of a birth mother with the daughter she “abandoned,” the choice between power or love, and a look into heroine Yoon Na-young’s hidden motivations. Her fears and weaknesses were laid bare, and it became all too apparent that she wasn’t the evil mastermind that she perhaps strove to be. She was just a woman carrying the scars of her childhood, tormented by the mistakes of her parents and the burdens of society, and driven to desperation out of her own dark desires and ambitions. In the end, Flames of Ambition was not makjang. It was a character study of Yoon Na-young, in all her glorious complexity, and her fierce struggle for survival.

This is something I notice with every Jung Ha Yeon drama I watch, but his shows overflow with a belief in the strength and power of women, and are a call to try to be understanding of every kind of person. In his dramas, every single character is a human being, and no matter what awful things they do, there are always understandable reasons for their actions. You might not agree with them, but you can’t help but understand them. They are not monsters or caricatures. They’re just people. And it is that sensibility that emanates from every second of Flames of Ambition, overriding the ho-hum directing and the iffy acting of a few members of the cast. It roars out from the exquisitely expressive face of Shin Eun Kyung, in the greatest performance of her career. It swallows you up. All you can do is surrender to it.

The problem, then, lies in the aftermath. This drama made me reconsider the ways I interact with people, and my approach to everyday things. Javabeans and Girlfriday talked in one of their podcasts about “drama stickiness.” Well, if any drama is sticky, it’s this one. It lingers to the point of exhaustion. Thus, this is not a drama for everyone. It is not an easy watch. But those who do fall under its spell will never really break away. What more from a show can you ask for than that?

 
 
Just Like Today

Oh, Kim Gab Soo. The things I do for you. The pain I have suffered.

After the torture that was Everybody Cha Cha Cha, which I sat through all because of my love for Oh Man Seok, I swore that I would never again watch a daily drama of my own volition (because, of course, sometimes I watch dailies with my grandmother, because I just can’t say no to that woman, dammit). And then I heard that Kim Gab Soo had been cast in this as the lead. And I groaned with despair, because if there is any actor that I have a weakness for, it is Kim Gab Soo.

Actually, the first episode wasn’t so bad. It took things slow, focusing on introducing its characters without much fanfare or silliness, just showing us a family and how it worked. Alas, the end of the episode featured that dreaded daily drama cliche: FAUXCEST. Or, in this case, REAL incest, because they’re cousins but they don’t know that they’re cousins because Kim Gab Soo isn’t really his father, and AAAARRRGGGHHH. If only it weren’t for this incest plot, this drama would be actually kind of palatable. It does help a little that secrets aren’t really kept all that long (only about two or three weeks…which is a very short period of time for a daily drama), and that the core of this drama lies in Kim Gab Soo’s character’s deep love for his son. It’s kind of nice to see a show where the parents are the leads, rather than the youngsters (it is so sad to watch Han Groo, who was so badass in Girl K, act out such an annoying little goody two shoes here, making me want to strangle her half the time). Still. Still. That makjang plot element is just unforgivable.

This show is hundreds of episodes long, and the idea of watching it for months and months kind of makes me want to spork myself in the eye. But I will (probably) do it. Because I am a fangirl. And when you’re a fangirl, you must make sacrifices. Really, really big sacrifices.

 
 
President

President is not a perfect drama. But it’s a FUN one. Oh god, is it ever fun.

Reading the synopsis, you would not think that it is. What, a political drama about a man who’s campaigning to be the president of Korea? SNORE. However, as usual, looks can be deceiving. The drama approaches its subject matter in an exciting, easily accessible way, with a lead who certainly seems like a good man, but has moments when he is so manipulative and sly that you end up wondering whether your assessment of him is wrong – just like Jay Kim’s character does. Oh, there are plenty of implausible moments, and a few sappy ones, and the romance is forgettable at best. But it makes up for all of that with its speedy and smart twists and turns, and in the awesome chemistry between Choi Soo Jong and Ha Hee Ra, who are married both in real life and in the drama. Choi manages to escape a little from his usual Morally Steadfast Hero stereotype, while Ha is riveting as a woman who is willing to stoop to any lows in order to help her husband fulfill his dream of the presidency. I must admit I developed a bit of a crush watching her here (why do I always fall for the unscrupulous characters?).

President is an example of a political drama that refuses to become stuffy or dull, and really shows the entertaining side of politics – in fact, it’s often a pretty comedic show. I feel like a lot of viewers steered away from this because of its subject matter, and thus missed out on something that is actually a very easy watch. Because even the politics are rooted in the impact on the family, the relationship between husband and wife, and on father and son. It takes what could possibly be an impersonal topic and makes it very personal. All you have to do is sit down and watch it to feel the impact of this choice.

 
 
Scent of a Woman

*rolls up sleeves*

My god, do I ever have a bone to pick with this drama.

It started out well enough. The first episode actually reminded me of a kind of indie film aesthetic, at least in its visuals. It even had a light Japanese touch in its handling of weird situations and quirky characters. I thought it was promising. Even my sister, who watches maybe one drama every two or three years, sat down to watch it with me (although her crush on Kim Sun Ah may have played a large role in that decision). Every week we zipped easily through the episodes, often with a glass (or five…) of wine in hand and lightly poking fun at the silly moments and cliches that cropped up from time to time. We could endure those missteps because we felt that it was sticking to its overall theme, and that the emotional factor made up for it all.

How very wrong we turned out to be.

I can’t remember what episode it was. I think it was around the halfway point. At any rate, quite suddenly, one particular episode sent everything spiralling down to hell. The cliches came fast and furious, the noble idiocy started, and the repetitions came with mind-numbing frequency (you could make a drinking game out of how many times Lee Dong Wook started heading somewhere (usually towards Yeon-jae) and then changed his mind at the very last second). You want improbable coincidences? You got it. You want those coincidences to lead to people overhearing Important Conversations? You got it. You want tiresome repetitions of sexually suggestive tango dances that did nothing but make my sister and I howl with derisive laughter? You got it.

All of this just proves that writer Noh Ji Seol didn’t really know what to do with this show once it entered its mid-way point – she simply ran out of ideas, and fell back on lazy stereotypes in order to hand the scripts in on time for the shoots. Or maybe she’s just a lazy writer in general. It’s a shame, because visually it’s a pretty show – Park Hyung Ki certainly did a good job of capturing the sights of Okinawa, fulfilling the necessary product placement quota for the early episodes. And Eom Ki Joon, my love, was adorable and managed to get as much out of his potentially stereotypical character as possible, giving him layers and depth and charisma. I suffered some serious Second Lead Syndrome because of him (and also because Lee Dong Wook’s character was so useless so much of the time). Someone get him cast as the lead in a good drama, already.

If last year my biggest disappointment was Sungkyunkwan Scandal, which I felt careened off into mediocrity in its second half, then my biggest disappointment this year is Scent of a Woman. This is all because I felt that it did have potential, that it could have been a moving story about a woman’s wake-up call and her determination to live the rest of her life with no regrets. It wouldn’t have insulted me half as much if it had been bad from the very beginning. As it is, it simply made me angry, and curse the time I wasted on it. Oh well. I guess it was a good learning experience…

 
 
The Duo

There are dramas that are like a shot of hard alcohol, that burn on the way down and make you dizzy from the effects. There are dramas that are like a nice glass of wine, meant to be sipped slowly and with relish. And then there are dramas like The Duo, which was more like makgeolli – familiar, homey, and taking its time in showing its effects.

There is nothing hurried or overly dramatic about The Duo. Which might come as a surprise to some, who read its plot synopsis of two boys who are switched at birth, one growing up a beggar, and the other as the only son of a noble household, and thought it was more of a cliche-ridden makjang fest in sageuk clothes. This preconception could not be farther from the truth. The birth secrets are revealed fairly early on, and are discovered easily by characters who prove that they are not stupid, and need just a hint to realize what is going on. There is no huge drama there. Rather, The Duo chooses to focus on more important things.

The heart of this show lies in its complex study of everyday relations between the various classes, from the beggars on the streets to the yangban who pass them by without a second glance. It digs into several characters from different classes, but most of all it portrays the lowest classes with sympathy and understanding, showing their loves, their hopes, and their ideas. It shows us the effects of the differences between the classes, and how that motivates the various characters. For example, Mak-soon, our “villain” of the piece, played by a wonderful Yoon Yoo Seon, does some truly despicable things. And yet you can understand her choices, and why she is so selfish. How else would anyone in her situation have reacted to the horrific things that had happened to her, really? She acts out of love and self-preservation, and for that, I couldn’t judge her.

There is probably no other drama writer in Korea who could portray all of this so effortlessly and with so much heart and earthiness than Kim Woon Kyung. He takes his time with the plot, taking things slow, peeling back the layers of every single character, so that everyone becomes a friend, someone with whom you feel comfortable, someone you hope desperately will become happy. And beneath it all you can sense the bubbling of the rebel Robin Hood-like plot, and when it finally rises to the surface and really starts to affect our main characters, it fills you with excitement and a desperate worry for how it will affect certain relationships – especially what is pretty much THE bromance of the year.

I would not say The Duo is an addictive, or even particularly exciting, drama. Each episode ends on a cliffhanger, yes, but I never really felt a hurry to watch the next episode. Instead, I felt content to watch it in small doses, thinking with each episode: “This drama is like coming home.” That warmth, that certainty that it would never betray me, that feeling of refreshment and joy…I thank this drama for giving me all of that. I will love it forever.

 
 
The Princess’ Man

Ahhhh. It felt so good to feel addicted to a drama again. It felt good to feel the urge to marathon episodes until I developed dark circles the size of Antarctica. It felt good to feel feverish with love, to have my every waking thought devoted to the characters and themes.

I’ve written so much about The Princess’ Man that it’s a wonder my fingers haven’t fallen off, so for this I’ll just stick to the basics.

It makes me glow with happiness to know that such a gem of a drama was not ignored, and that it gained a fierce and loyal following. It’s not often that this happens for the dramas that I love, so it was a welcome change. The Princess’ Man is not only addictive and engaging, it’s also smart, actually knows its history (and then chooses to change it up for thematic purposes, but I’m fine with that, since I think it had good reasons for it), and has some wonderful thematic elements to which it remains loyal until the very last frame. It even manages to make its romance believable, which does not happen often for someone like me, who is often bored with romance in dramas. Sure, there were a few cast members that I felt were a little iffy (Park Shi Hoo, although he certainly improved here, will, I fear, never become a really amazing actor…and I’m not just saying that because his Batman voice grated so much on my nerves). But most of them brought it, with even people like Hong Soo Hyun transforming themselves into beacons of fire and passion. But really, the person I want to heap the most praise on is Kim Young Chul, who played the dangerously intelligent and not-quite-evil Prince Suyang with such skill and emotion that he left virtually everyone else this year in his dust. If he asked me to kiss his toes, I would.

The Princess’ Man was not without its occasional implausible plot points or convenient coincidences. But it elevated itself above all of that through sheer intelligence and power, something that forgettable shows like Scent of a Woman could never dream of doing. It proved that, even through the turmoil of a live shoot, it is possible for a show to maintain its integrity and quality, as long as there’s talent and passion involved. And it helped to reignite my hope for Korean dramas, for which I am personally most grateful. Onward ho, I say!

 
 

SHORT DRAMAS

 
Girl K

In a word: BADASS.

I grew up watching a lot of action flicks, so when I find something that does action well, I tend to fall head over heels in love. Girl K isn’t particularly original, has a flimsy story at best, and most of its actors are just cruising along. What makes it work, though, is the good directing and action sequences. You just wait on the edge of your seat for that next action scene that will make your heart leap into your throat. And y’know, I just loved the idea of its heroine, a teenaged girl with all of the usual problems, who just happens to have an evil father and these unbelievable martial arts skills. I rooted for her, and I certainly rooted for her protective ahjusshi, Kim Jung Tae, in his sexiest role yet. (Oh god, why do I have such a weakness for the ahjusshi of the world?)

Girl K proves that you don’t need complicated plotlines in order to be successful. You just have to stick to what you know you’re good at, and not stray from your original themes and intentions. Girl K manages to tap into that reserve of pure emotion and adrenaline that overcomes most of its flaws, and makes it one hell of an enjoyable ride.

 
 
Drama Special

Identical Criminals

At once a detective story and a cautionary tale on judging books by their covers, Identical Criminals is sleek and well-directed, with some impressive action sequences (especially considering the budget) and an engaging plot. But more than anything, it’s a story about a young up and coming detective who’s grown a little too big for his britches, and the fallen older detective who is scorned wherever he goes. It keeps this theme firmly in mind throughout its entire 60 or so minutes, even through its exciting plot twists and creepy murder sequences. And for once, I did not find Lee Ji Hoon annoying. Can he just stick to detective roles from now on, please?

Ji-hoon, Born in ’82

Ji-hoon is 30 years old. He is an office worker who doesn’t know when he might get fired, has a whiny girlfriend who is always threatening to leave him, and a father with whom he is always fighting. Over the course of the hour, we watch as one thing after another goes wrong, and the stress builds up until he explodes with the pressure of it all…and then, at last, learns what is really important in life, and how to deal with all of the daily problems that bombard him.

This drama paints this picture with such simplicity and steadiness of purpose that it might be easy to dismiss it in its early moments, especially with its physical humour that nonetheless later takes on a distinctive black comedy edge. But you realize by the end of the hour that the steady build-up leads to a truly stirring finale, one that calls upon the empathy of everyone who is struggling with the daily trials of life, and those periods of growth that everyone must face up to. This is also one case of a show where being able to understand the lyrics of the songs that play in the background helps add a deeper dimension to the proceedings (and really, any drama that uses a Kim Gwang Seok song automatically gets an extra point from me).

Of all the short dramas I saw this year, this one probably touched me the most. Although maybe it’s just because I’ve been really stressed out lately…

 

Our Happy Days of Youth

May 1980. A pair of young men dreaming of becoming comedians travel to Gwangju in order to try out for the KBN comedian auditions. There, one of them meets, and falls in love, with a Gwangju woman who dreams of becoming an announcer. They end up staying at her home during their stay in Gwangju, thanks to the generosity of her grandmother. And soon, it becomes all too clear that they’ve come to Gwangju at a time when one of its greatest tragedies is about to strike.

This is a fascinating little show. It starts out by establishing its characters as being uninterested in politics, and even buying into the propaganda of the ruling dictatorship, with them being far too concerned with things like romance to care much about the historical things going on around them. Even the tone of much of the hour is light and jokey, in keeping with the characters’ psyches. But all too soon, they are dragged into the current of the times, and come to realize how blind they have been, and how important it is to resist when a ruling power tries to take away the things that are most important to you. It’s a sly, intelligent stab at the current political landscape in Korea, and manages to slip in a few digs at the various media sources that support the propaganda of the government, as well as the tendencies of division between the various provinces (especially between Kyungsangdo and Jeollado). It’s a terribly important message hidden in a light and carefree package. And it shows more than ever the dangers of not knowing your history. Because allowing history to repeat itself is more dangerous than any of us can imagine.

That Man Is There

What is a dream, and what is reality? This stylish, atmospheric, and altogether creepy short examines that question but doesn’t provide any answers. Instead it sinks itself deeper and deeper into ambiguity, touching upon the tragedy of a mentally ill photographer who is silently suffering under the abuse of her tyrannical husband. In order to escape from her hellish reality, she runs away into her imagination, until the viewer her/himself can no longer tell what to trust. Into this it weaves the mystery of a murder, making the proceedings even more complicated and desperate. Yet it also manages to have an emotional impact, avoiding the possible pitfall of cold intellectuality.

Altogether, this is one of the most interesting and creative dramas of the year, and certainly one that deserves more attention.

 

The Man Is Crying

It’s a simple premise. A gangster finds out that he has cancer, and decides that before he dies, he must confess his sin of murdering a beloved friend to said friend’s fiancee. It’s a story we’ve seen hundreds of times before. And yet it feels realistic, with its tragic little details, never shying away from the terrible realities of poverty. It helps that the acting is so good – Son Hyun Joo proves once again what a talent he is, and how wonderful he is at touching upon the emotional cores of the characters he portrays. It’s a warm, heartbreaking little show that strives to cling to hope despite the odds, and to argue for the good in life, hidden behind the shadows.

Young-deok Women’s Wrestling Team

Sometimes a show comes along that isn’t particularly inventive and, when you look at all its separate parts, doesn’t seem so special. Yet when you look at the whole, for some reason it works. It just feels right.

Young-deok Women’s Wrestling Team does not do anything new. It has the typical cliches of the high school girl whose father has abandoned her and her mentally disabled sister, and her slow realization that life ain’t so bad after all, thanks to the intervention of a kind (if flawed and rather selfish) teacher. Some of its characters feel a bit like caricatures, and the progress of the story is pretty predictable. Yet its big heart, and its lack of any overwrought drama, helps to make it a fun ride. Besides, I love watching Lee Jong Hyuk as a fallen model who is a bit of a loser. How is it possible for a man to be so sexy even while playing such an embarrassing character?

 

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my years as a K-drama fan, it’s that patience is key. 2011 was not a good year, not by a long shot. But I try to remember that 2010 was wonderful, and that there were other wonderful years before that, and that dramas are always surprising me. Even when I’m feeling enormously frustrated, I cling to hope. Because it does exist. No matter how bleak things may seem. With every valley comes a hill. It’s the reason that I will be a K-drama fan for life. Because when they are at their best, nothing else comes even close. You just have to keep looking for that rainbow. Somewhere out there. Maybe behind the next cloud.

 
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Where are all the java beans and girlfriday reviews when i want them

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Where are all the java beans and girlfriday reviews when i want them

Where are all the respectful commenters when I want them?

(btw, JB already posted her 2011 review and GF's will be here soon)

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Thank you for reminding me that Javabeans and Girlfriday are the most insightful, smart, witty and drama enthusiasts without being over bitchy and just the all round best writers of anything related with korean drama.

And Fanderay from Kolorful Palette doesn't like City Hunter either. But, I can take that as her review is actually decent.

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Personal attacks, including thinly veiled ones like this one, are totally uncool. And inappropriate. After all, JB invited Dahee to write a review, which by nature is a summary of the reviewer's opinions. I don't know Dahee, but I'm pretty sure she never intended this to be The Gospel According to Dahee. I'm also pretty sure that she knew that a lot of her opinions would be unpopular here at DB, and hotly debated in the comments section. If you disagree with her opinions, feel free to say so. If you feel the review is "overly bitchy", feel free to say that too. However, IMO, when you belittle her as a writer and imply that her review isn't even a decent one, you've crossed the line.

The relative lack of hostility towards one another is one of the things that makes the DB community feel like an actual community-- can we please try to keep it that way? Cheers!

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I don't recall these mean comments all those years ago. This is something new which I notice started in the recent year.

Kind of miss the old time when people at large seem to have a certain standard on how to comment and be a good sport even when they're disaggreeing with somebody else....

Personally, I think it's okay for a writer to use certain expressions, words, or sentences in their writing however when one tries to use those things in their comments, their comments will turn into something mean and kind of personal. Which is not a good thing.

DB is a good place to visit because of the good people who visit it.

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I agree. Enough with the snark. I'd be very interested to see these commentators take on a review themselves.

Kinda Best Lovey....

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If you have a critique of the review, that is perfectly acceptable. But demeaning a writer is not.

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*witty drama enthusiasts*

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There's always interesting reading year-end review, so many different opinions! even reading the comment is interesting.

I'm not new to the K-drama ground, but still in the middle territory where a lot of things is new to me, but also find some really boring.

On the other hand, i find this year is a very good year. so many good dramas to watch. i watched city hunter and best love a bit late, and unfortunately i found watching them in big dose doesn't work. i still like both shows but couldn't find time to finish them when i finished watching The Princess Man less than a week.

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HAHAHA your names crack me up

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hilarious writing. wish you'd write more.

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It's out!

This is the review that I was looking forward to this year. As usual, you never fail to give a brilliant and entertaining review! Bring it on 2012!

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one thing that is quite consistent with all the yearly reviews I've read: They all loved Princess' Man! that's enough for me

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agree! that's what made me start d/loading them right away...

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Same here, I'm very happy that Princess Man received so much love.

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finally! the only review i've been waiting for.

every year there're always some people who call you hard to please, too cynical, or so. but to me, that what makes me wait for your review more.
to me you're the most brilliant reviewer, please write more dahee.

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Yeah Princess Man seems to be the common point.

I really liked the renamed dramas including one of my faves Best Lard. All of those renames got a huge laugh out of me.

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I Disagree about some of them :(

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I must say I agree with you regarding the shows you dislike. Even though I absolutely love reading the recaps of City Hunter, Best Love, Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Scent of a Woman and Dream High, but somehow when I watched the shows I was just meh... So I just stopped watching and read the wonderfully insightful recaps. Its like as if the recaps were much more interesting than the shows themselves! And I thought it was just something wrong with me since lots of people were raving over them.

But that said, I don't really like the shows that you like either. But your review of The Duo did pique some interest in me so I may give it a try when I have the time.

The few shows that managed to get me all giddy and excited over again are Protect the Boss (which sadly got very little love ): ), Hick Kick 3 and Tree with Deep Roots. And not forgetting the daebak variety shows 1D2N and Running Man <3!

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You know, I agree that Dream High was not that great....however, I could not get past episode 1 so I cannot give a definitive answer on that. Still not going to watch it tho. I really liked Princess' Man and loved the evil dad (Kim Young Chul). Loved him in Life is B and he is one of the reasons I decided to watch TPM. I confess I like watching Park Shi hoo even tho he really is not the best actor out there. City Hunter I liked. CYHMH I really liked....although sometimes, I felt that the dr. brother overacted a bit. hmmmm.....

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Oooh and I forgot to add that Best Love was extremely hyped up so when I watched it, I was expecting alot and ended up not quite satisfied....

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It's always a problem when you have such high expectations. It's hard for a drama to meet them. I found with City Hunter, GF and JB had talked about how great it was so much that by the time I watched it, it was NEVER going to be as good as I expected. That said, it was still awesome.

I have to say, I totally disagree with Dahee, lol. My favourite shows of the year were Best Love, Can You Hear My Heart, and Scent of a Woman. And I think overall, 2011 hasn't been a bad year. I mean, there has been plenty of misses, but enough hits to keep me satisfied.

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What I love about dramabeans is that it gives us a place to share our ideas. We cant all like the same things, right??? I am glad that you liked Princess Man but I for one was disappointed with the ending. ... i was like.... really, this is how it is going to end??? so many hours i spent on watching this show and this is the end you will give me??? we could have ended at episode 10... the real reason i stick with the show is not the romantic pairing of romeo and juliet. like you, i was enamored with prince suyang.

i respect your take on scent of a woman, i know not everybody liked it but i loved it. i love the way the story progressed from episode 1 to episode 16, even the middle episodes 11 - 13 where people hated lee yeon jae's noble idiocy. Her noble idiocy i believe is part of her growth, from the old yeon jae to the new yeon jae. i so totally loved the ending. i think it was javabeans who said "for a show that promised to give us death, this one give us life."

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Dahee, I'm your fan *waving fangirling \o/*
Your thoughtful insight on dramas is really a refreshing read to my eyes. Again, you exceed it with this year in review and proved to have one of the most accurate view for dramas out there.
Now, I gonna have to watch President, The Duo and rewatch FOA.
Congratulations! :D

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Fangirling, too!
Could she possibly be included in the next podcast?

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*join the fangirling*

I always value Dahee's opinion since she said something good about Abe Hiroshi somewhere in her blog. Kke.

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Wow!
I go to sleep and wake up to reading mean things.

I don't understand why fans of something are not willing to read opposing opinions, and why those who voice them suddenly become targets.

It is like telling someone:
How can your favorite color not be the same as mine? You must be an idiot.
or
Only stupid people don't like bananas.

How boring would this world be if you only exposed to people who have the same opinion as you? Why not take a look everyone's ideas, mix 'em up with your own and create a well rounded viewpoint on stuff?

I love a lot of things people don't and I can't stand some of the most popular dramas of all time. It doesn't make the stories worse or better.
And, don't worry about the dramas' feelings; they'll be just fine.

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HERE HERE JOMO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I managed to watch most of Dream High just to find out who K was. But I spent most of the time really really wishing that they had used actors instead of idols. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why they cast Suzy as the main character. And it felt like they were trying to milk KSH's acting skills to make up for the lack in the others which made me tire of his character.

I enjoyed Best Love and City Hunter probably because life was stressful at the time and i was in the mood for "safe" stuff where you know that the main characters will end up with a happy ending and the bad guys will get their due soon enough without too much angst and evil shenanigans in between.
And I found Gu Aejong refreshing because she wasn't overly emotional like a lot of female characters tend to be. And Dokko won me over halfway through the drama even though I found his wackiness almost embarrassing at times.

I started watching SoaW because of KSA and quit halfway through because it brought back too many memories of losing family to cancer. The one HUGE complaint I have about this drama was the ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLY HORRIBLE acting in the scenes in Okinawa. WHERE did those Japanese actors come from? Are they even actors? Did the PD just use staff at the hotel? Did he pick them off the streets? Then he shouldn't have given them so many lines. As a native Japanese I cringed through the whole Okinawa episode. Even the porter saying "thank you"(with a Korean accent LOL) was so obviously not a porter that it would have been better if he had kept his mouth shut. It was like the PD was trying to score points from Japanese viewers but I ended up feeling almost insulted because it was SO SO BAD.

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I want to clarify what I wrote earlier, about this review being to cynical for me.

First of all, I very very easy to please. To get a sense on how easy pleaseable (yes, in my mind that IS a word) I am, even though I wouldn't watch it again, I don't know what was so horrible wrong with "A love to kill." Well I do know, of course, but I could live with it.

With most dramas this year, I found something to like and so I was pleased. It is actually one of the reason I come to dramabeans. To read a little more indept. To read stuff from people who are not as easy to please and who take mistakes for what they are. I also like it, that people can express their honest opinion about dramas. Where if not here.

But now I read the review and the comments and all of that leaves are certain sour feeling in my mouth. As I wrote earlier, I, personally, have a problem with people connection something to shit, because it lacks a certain respect. As much as I would never say that food is disgusting I would never say that certain dramas were "shitty" or "bowel movement". Even if I hated them (yes I do have a certain HATE drama).

At the same moment the only opinion this give me about Dahee is that we probably have a very different taste. And a throw away line about being grumpy doesn't encourage me to make judgements. I hate stuff like this. It gives off a certain youtube comments vibe (or imdb.com). Both sides deserve gold stars for having user who discuss things with smart commets like "well you think different from they way I think. So you must be a unhappy stinker". That is the reason I stay away from the comment section. I makes my blood boil and face palm myself.

Dramabeans, for me, is a side from grown-ups for growns ups. Please let it keep that way.

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I think people put too much esteem on dramabeans. I don't mean that as an insult, I mean that this is still more or less a fan blog. Just as I find it's weird to read in posts and comments "come to noona" or "mmm, abs..", this is just the expressing the other extreme.

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I think most people can't wait for 2012 because 2011 was a kind of a "mean" feeling year. I don't know why. I thought it was a normal, par-for-the-course drama year. Some I thoroughly enjoyed, others I avoided like the plague, but almost all the reviews I've read have branded 2011 a horrible year of dramas or at best a mediocre one...

I think some fans expect too much meaning no matter what, not every drama is going to be the best ever in your opinion. (It doesn't mean you shouldn't ask for great dramas.) You're only ever going to really, really love one or maybe two dramas a year.

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Thank You Dahee, for the review and a gentler tone this year. It's a graceful improvement you managed to acknowledge some encouraging positive, even in the mediocre (like Dream High). While I enjoy reading diverse viewpoints to mine, a rude OTT tone does leave a sour taste. Overboard acerbic can border on arrogance and negativity.

I'd agree with Jennifer. While it is normal to have high expectations, it is also respectful to remain considerate. When I taste a dish that falls below my expectations, I think of some effort and whether I can cook the same dish myself to any standard. If a restaurant fails me, I simply won't go back another time. I dislike difficult customers who have to demand their rights in public very vocally, and dramatically. Such people also leave a sour taste.

As Jennifer has said, it is not really necessary to dramatically liken anything to a piece of turd, or any worse descriptives. Teenagers often resort to it, to prove a point to the world.

Perception and receptiveness to any drama can be governed by our overall mood. Are you this grumpy outside of drama viewing time too?

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Actually you expressed my point a lot better than I did. Thank you passer by

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See, I don't agree at all, but I can dig this CONSTRUCTIVE criticism (Jennifer and passerby), cause you all are not hatin'. This is the sort of criticisms that should be made.

As for the ogling of the pretty, that's a lot of the drawing point of dramas. You get drawn in, and then you learn to love/hate the show. At least I do, if we're being honest. I'm a shallow creature at heart.

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This is the first year of watching kdramas for me and I've enjoyed it. For kdrama, The Princess's Man was the best. I look forward to more good dramas to come but I'm more picky now.

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Oh Dahee_Fanel, forever the "unpopular opinion" that I [mostly] agree with :D

The thing is, even if some plots are hopelessly cliche, I still watch them because I like the actor/storyline/etc. You seem to have the courage to drop dramas, something I cannot.

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You seem to have the courage to drop dramas, something I cannot. -- THIS. While I can drop something at the first episode, I absolutely can't drop something when I reached mid episodes. It's like... the curiosity'll hunt me down for the rest of my life. Lol.

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Thanks very much for the time and effort you put into writing this review. I salute your courage for going against popular opinion and making it publicly known. For the dramas I watched, we are mostly in agreement. While I wouldn't say City Hunter was shitty, it was definitely overrated in my opinion. To me, there were just too many logic gaps in the story plus I thought the acting lacked depth. As for Best Love, I couldn't get past episode 1 due to CSW's 'greasy' look and bad haircut. LOL (I know, I sound really shallow). I watched a few episodes of President and agree the acting was good and the story cohesive; but I didn't continue since the story about becoming president just didn't interest me that much. TPM - I simply loved to bits. To use JB's stickiness index, it stuck big time. While I have not watched all of PSH's dramas, I thought he did well (sure, there's always room for further improvement). Based on your recommendation (and that of several others as well), I might just watch The Duo and Girl K.

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After reading part of yr blog (sorry, I couldn't work through the rest), my only advice to you is to take a loong break. Stop watching korean dramas for say 2 yrs as it is obvious that u hv lost yr youthful jest and enthusiasm for them

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Amen to that.

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That's a bit rude! I happen to agree with her - Big Live was overrated and I didn't think much of CSW (not a fan I, I have to admit).

Just because someone does not like the same things as you does not mean that they are wrong, need to take time off. It's nothing about losing youthful jest and enthusiasm - people just become more picky.

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Hannah 25 this is not a question of personal taste. Being generally disrespectful and a pain in the butt can be categorised as being rude but was I being rude in asking him/her to take a break?

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Hmm?
Sorry, I couldn't see how our comment had anything to do with the dramas you didn't like? So you agree with her/him...(shrug), okay.
"Just because someone does not like the same things as you does not mean that they are wrong, need to take time off."
Those are two different things.
1) Not liking the same thing does not mean that they are wrong. Agreed, meaning expressing MY opinion on the dramas means I'm not wrong either. And take note, we never mentioned any opposition to her/his review of the dramas.
2) Not like the same things does not mean they need to take time off. Err...let's decipher that.
When you've seen too many dramas in a year or two (in her/his case, it was more than that), you'll reach a point where you easily tire of the plots, characters and the cliches that run over and over. Dahee-sshi herself/himself admittedly said that in the first few paragraphs before she/he enumerated her/his reviews. I don't think asking her/him to take a break from watching was rude at all. Instead of continuing to be grumpy with the cliches and all, why not let her/him change her/his routine? Let her/him read a book or travel somewhere to get rejuvenate herself/himself?
No, ma'am. Not being rude at all.

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Or maybe they should start hiring better writers or start making better dramas. I mean god forbid right?

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OMG! Why u bring up 2008!

WORST YEAR EVER.

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I learned to be very selective with dramas this year. I dropped a drama entirely and forgot about its existence, which was actually pretty easy for some yet very disappointing for the likes of Lie to Me which was an absolute waste of actors.

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After the heroine in Flames of Ambition let her sister get raped to benefit her own ends I just couldn't watch anymore. That was in the first few episodes. A few reviews have said it's a good drama. Maybe I'll have to try to get past that scene to see how good it actually is.

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Yeah, you have to get past that scene. Yoon Na Young is a borderline psychopath, not gonna defend her. She clearly Needed Help from a therapist with strong nerves. But the genuis of this show is, as you look into Na Young's head episode after episode (and there are 50 episodes - count them, 50) one actually starts to understand why she does what she does. By the middle of the series I was starting to sympathize with her. (I know I know, it's crazy). By the end of the series I was positively rooting for her. And, y'know, it's not as if I don't have high moral standards. It's just that when I start to get to know another human being and when she becomes real to me, warts and wickedness mixed in with humanity and frailty, I come to love her a bit. Yup, it's wicked.

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I'm not gonna lie. I was fascinated by her. I think I watched something like 7 episodes. But I found my fascination with her scary. She made me feel uneasy. I think it's because she had this temperament and personality that was so anti-moral from the time she was a child. Or maybe she made her own rules about what was right and what was wrong... but the child/young Na Young gave me the vibe of a little female anti-christ.

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I know why some people feel it a good drama. I admit This drama is so addicting.. I watched till around epi 5 and for some odd reason, I just eager to watched the next episode despite dislike some aspect in it.. I fascinated with her character, too... And there are some good dialogue and scene that make me interested ... I'm such a sucker for good storytelling, and this drama deliver it. But My dislike towards many scene can't be ignored That I forced myself to not watch it anymore...

Dahee is right, this drama is not for everyone...

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I got a kick out of reading this. As a result, I've added a couple to my possible viewing list. As someone who just started watching Korean dramas this year, I have been impressed with some of the shows that were panned (comparing them to American TV, much improvement!)

"Shitty Hunter"! Got a good laugh from that. I actually liked it but now find it wanting after others that I have watched. Scent of a Woman was personal to me so I actually loved it. As I was diagnosed with cancer along the same time a couple of other people I knew were who have since died and 8 years later I am still here, my perspective on it is a lot different. TPM, is definitely what I gauge all other dramas I now watch. There were a couple others mentioned that you did not like that overall I did but your assessment on their failings was on point. I do find that I like a lot more of the older dramas. But being new to the world, I am depending on all of you for all of my future viewing pleasure. My love for KDrama is still strong so its not waned yet!! Currently love A Thousand Kisses which is my first long running drama I have watched (not ready for the daily ones yet).

Cheers. Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah to all!!

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Dahee-sshi, you really sound like one of those ladies who've seen too many dramas or did too many drama marathons on summer vacation. Seen so many that the addiction kinda wore out and the new ones that come out hardly ever pleases your delicate palate anymore.

Perhaps this is why the dramas that you've picked are ones that are hmmm, not the usual feel-good, cutesy, not-too-tragic type of dramas. I can't really judge 'cause I haven't watched most of the dramas listed.

But then, this is also probably why I couldn't understand why you included Dream High in your review while bashing the whole thing out except for briefly praising Soo Hyun's acting prowess and how the directing saved the drama from a bunch of lousy idol-actors.

Why? If you have a badly written story to be acted out by a bunch of kids with bad acting, then it could all be saved by good directing? If the directing is good, then surely the acting would be proof of that? And even if you had great actors, if the script is bad (as in the case of Lie to Me), it doesn't sell either. I'm sure this logic goes for the other dramas as well.

Found it a bit ironic that you said this drama was
forgettable yet it still stuck to you and landed on your review.

While I agree with you on some points with the cliches in Scent of A Woman, I focused on how the drama dealt with emotions and relationships despite having cancer glaring in the midst of it all. I thought the TANGO was forgettable. Please, that wasn't so hot.

I haven't finished TPM yet so...can't argue.

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I think you took 'stuck' a bit differently from what she intended, she meant she will review the dramas she actually watched throughout (or at least more than half), not the dramas she got addicted to

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I stand corrected.

It should be: Found it a bit ironic that you said this drama was forgettable yet you still stuck to it and landed on your review.

Thanks ...-sshi.

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After reading the review and all of the comments (bye bye lunch time!), I have this feeling that I just want everyone to be happy in kdrama-land. Especially at the end of the year which is suppose to be a happy time when we look forward to the new year and good things to come....

I was happy with the selection of kdramas this year, but I think what we can take away is 1. Don't listen to the hype. Hype is hype, and doesn't guarantee you will like something. 2. Know what you like and *choose* to watch that. Drama watching is a choice.

IMO drama watching should be enjoyable, but I feel like half of us spent 2011 torturing ourselves watching things we don't like. Why? I surely didn't. And now we're torturing ourselves *talking* about things we still don't like!

Did anyone enjoy themselves this year?

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Me! Me! Me!

I'm not ashamed to say that I even liked the dramas that were considered mediocre (like Can't Lose, MWTS). It's the little stuff in those that I liked. The kdramas I watched showed relationships between family, friends, lovers, etc. and as I'm Asian I could relate to it, enjoy it, & understand stuff that Western audiences do not.

Let's just say that what we choose to watch tells a little something about ourselves, right? TBH, I'm not really a fan of MNIKSS or DGCH. It was watchable but it's not something I wanted to watch again. I've long ago resigned myself that we don't always like the same dramas, even wondered how anyone could not like MGIAG or how anyone could love MSOAN so much, but that's just how it is. This is not the first grumpy review I've read this year. One thing that I can agree on is the review on The Princess' Man. That's it. ;)

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I... don't like MGIAG. More like, I haven't finished watching it and I'm hesitated to do that... I like Shin Minah, my friend whose recommendations I always take recommend it, JB and GB gave a perfect score for it, and I'm not even a picky watcher, but I just... can't finished it. I stuck in episode 1 and not really excited continuing it. And all that happen when I love Lee Seunggi so much. I just... don't know. Maybe I'll attempt another try in finishing it. .___.

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I love MNIKSS, but I've never watch MGIAG or DGCH. I thought Best Love was cute, breezy and kinda wacky, but not the holy grail of cracktastic kdramas by any means. I find Hong Sister's dramas hard to follow because I don't understand all the puns and jokes. I'm surprised they are so popular among the international crowd since you can't enjoy their dramas to the fullest without knowing Korean. I always think non-koreans are watching laughing at jokes and puns they don't actually really get...

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I enjoyed the hell out of this year: The Princess's Man, Me Too Flower, City Hunter (bumpy ride that it was), Can You Hear My Heart, Scent of a Woman, and Dream High, not to mention re-watching my favs. Even if I couldn't love all of them in whole, there were parts of them (Pil Suk and Jason! Lee Dong Wook! Kim Nana! The cliffhangers!) that elicited such happiness and enjoyment in me that I couldn't help but love them. For example, with Me Too Flower, the leads are acted out so well, and the characterizations are so engaging that they more than cancel out the rather predictable plot. The holistic experience of watching a show stays with me more than any betrayal I might feel from a bad final episode or anything like that.

Here's how I choose what to watch: first I have to be inclined to watch it, either from someone's recommendation, because I like the writer or actor/ress, or the synopsis intrigues me. Then I give it a try, and if it sticks, it sticks. If it doesn't, fuggedaboutit.

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I enjoy this year! Waaaaay more enjoyable than last year for me! ^^

But anyway, I always value Daheefanel's opinion. In fact, I found her recommendations are worth-watching. I don't get it why some people complain about Daheefanel didn't write a thing about City Hunter or The Greatest Love when everyone can actually pick what they like.

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Yeah. Pretty sure I'm gonna check out President now since many people say it's good. I don't think I can go down the Flames of Ambition route. I just don't care about the heroine.

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Trying to understand CITY HUNTER is like trying to understand THE TWILIGHT SAGA. You have to possess the little screeching fangirl mentality that can comprehend the phenom that is Lee Min-Hooooooooooooooooo.....

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I am almost thirty, I have no fangirl mentality and I enjoyed City Hunter alot!

This is exactly what I mean. How do you know my mentality just because I happen to enjoy a drama that you didn't like. Alot of people enjoy Flower Boy Ramyung Shop. But it is not for me. It doesn't mean that everybody who likes it need to grow up or that I don't have a sense of humor. It just means that this particular drama isn't for me.

(It is the premises really. The acting is fine, the directing is fine... but the premises is somewhere between "ugh" and "blah" for me).

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We can critique the show without bashing it's viewers, folks.

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I don't care much for the title, but "Princess' Man" maybe the best K-Drama that I have ever seen. I can't think of anything better. Fact is, there is nothing like K-Drama when it's running on all cylinders. This is what K-Drama can be.

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Brilliant review, Dahee~

I need to finish Flames (much like you need to finish President, no?) but I have yet to view Na Young as anything more than a fascinating and horrifying human being. She's like a car wreck I can't look away from.

I'm surprised you like DH as much as you did (which is so very little, but it was very little more than I recalled from the chit chat about it). It was silly, and simplistic, and sometimes stupifyingly acted, but I loved it's feel good tone that wasn't mean to be pompous. It's a sweet high school drama that didn't suck.

SOAW left me feeling wretchedly like I wasted even 4 episodes of my time. Lee Dong Wook needs to go to the bathroom more often, to relieve his constipation. Sun Ah was pretty blah, too.

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ockoala, You're here! It's just like the good old OT times again! :-)

Where are you up to in Flames? Yeah, I ditched FOA on my first attempt to get through ep1 largely because I loathed Na Young so much. I know it sounds a bit sick, but by the end of the show I loved her, yes I did. Loved her every honest wicked, grasping impulse and longed for her to trample all her enemies under the feet of her war elephants.

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I'm up to episode 33. Somewhere between "bucket needed" and "bucket overflowing".

I will probably finish it in the next few weeks during this lean time in new dramas out there.

I hope Seo Woo tones down her overacting, though. Her face I can't do anything about, but I miss her Beojin-ness, when she did animated without it feeling exaggerated.

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Yeah, if I ever had to warn a young person of the risks of plastic surgery, I just have to show a few Ingi funny-face clips from FOA...

I agree that when Seo Woo does her full-blown "prima donna acting like a prima donna" act she was over the top. But when Ingi has quiet moments of anguish, when she's not shouting or anything, but just stricken and nearly speechless, when she tapped into her inner hurt little child, I thought she KILLED it. Those eyes...

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OMG! i got so happy while reading your review for the princess' man (: that was for sure the best drama of 2011! & i normally dont even watch historical dramas, but this one was an exception. I HAVE NO WORDS FOR IT EXCEPT FOR AMAZING AMAZING & AMAZING.

although i disagree with you about dream high. i, for one, LOVED dream high. i found it enjoyable & refreshing. the acting might not be the best, but half of them are still rookies! suzy's acting was horrendous in the first few episodes, then she ended up meeting my satisfactions further through the drama. i have to say, suzy is pretty good for her age. cmon, she's only 17. i promise she will definitely improve in the future (= while kim soo hyun might not be the best, he was the best actor in the drama. well, my favorite character will always be pilsook (: after watching dream high, i have been on IU crack since then till now. i just love her xD but i think this drama is more suitable for teenagers like me ha xD i still respect your opinion though, not everyone can like the same thing. i respect you for being honest.

as for scent of a woman, i agree it wasnt the best, but i still loved it anyway. maybe i have lower expectations of dramas than you? haha cuz i was even able to sit through the whole thing of lie to me xD the main reason i loved scent of a woman was because of the sizzling chemistry between kim sun ah & lee dong wook. i found myself giggling throughout the whole thing. however, some scenes made me really teary-eyed as well. again, it wasnt perfect, but i never expected it to be. haha, well, i wont attack you for stating your honest opinion even though it was sort of hard to read the whole review since i loved the drama.

but for me, the princess' man will always be the best of 2011. for those of you who havent watched it, YOU JUST HAVE TO. kbye (:

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Finally I get to somebody else thinking Suzy did okay. It was her first drama and she's 17 for crying out loud. No experience in theater whatsoever unlike Soo Hyun who got into it in high school (thank you, JB).
Oh well, I think Dahee-sshi still appreciated Dream High in a way. Or else she wouldn't have cared a whit about reviewing it, bad acting, idol stars and all.

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I mostly disagree with the review but that's to be expected, since I've long discovered that my tastes run very differently from Dahee. But that's fine. We all have a right to our likes and dislikes, to our views.
The problem I have with this review, is the way the author put her thoughts into words. Even If she didn't like something, she could express it in a eloquent, witty and constructive way. Instead she took an easy way out, throwing some scornful remarks. Don't get me wrong - I love me some snark. When it's at its best, I love it even when it's aimed at my favourite tv shows, movies or dramas (and I'd like to note that none of the mentioned titles are on my top list).
Sadly, it wasn't snark at its best.

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As it turned out, after reading Dehee's reveiw, I felt like staying away from the dramas that she praised. It could be my loss, but well I could always check them out some other day. I just need to wait till the sour feeling in my mouth disappears. Even if dramas such as City Hunter or Scent of a Woman aren't to my taste, strangely enough, I feel protective toward the dramas she dissed. This is how words people choose can lead to a backlash.

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Strange. I feel the same. I even skipped reading those short dramas listed at the end.

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DaheeFanel is a highly capable writer. Her blog is well-written. But her thoughts are controversial and I think that mixed with the good is what causes the controversy. I don't agree with most of what she wrote, but I still appreciate the writing style and her opinions.

I thought it was snark at its best. Again, different strokes for different folks.

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This review is FAR MORE entertaining than the crap I tried to watch this year.Thanks for stating the obvious.Since I've been hearing glowing reviews for The Princess Man, I'll try to watch it before the year is over.I temporarily put this drama on the side because of its title, I try to steer clear from dramas that have the word "princess" in their title.Got burned by My Princess.

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Kind of disappointed with the reviewer's opinion on dramas I liked, but what to do lol
I definitely think you shouldn't watch something just because of the hype and people definitely need to be a bit more respectful on here...
I'm not new to kdramas but I don't mind overly cliched or makjang plots as long as they manage to act it well and maybe give it a fresher spin, which is why I did like SOAW, CH, and BL. They had their flaws, but I think if you're too picky about what you watch, you get too hung up on those small details and dramas aren't as fun.

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Aww... you didn't watch too much drama, I was expecting to list many have-to-watch this year... :/

But I always love your review! Yours is my favorite actually! Now that you've officially finished this review, I'll hunt down "President" and "The Duo" and watch them asap! ^^

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Btw, I'm curious of what you (Dahee) thought of "Tree With Deep Roots"

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Dahee_Fanel,

Great reviews! Agree that the Drama Specials are some of the best K-drama on TV. Until reading your review, I didn't GET the "...Born in '82 drama, so thanks for that.

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I couldn't read through this year-end review. Maybe you are just not the type of writer I enjoy. Plus, although your intro kind of served as a disclaimer, I thought your point of view is severely cynical. These are Korean dramas not cancer research or something.

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That's a shame really. It could use the same amount of extensive research into coming up with less inane set-ups for some it's same-old tired setups.

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I don't know about everyone else, but I enjoyed the HELL out of the 2011 dramas. If this is a bad year, then I wonder what the hell a good year looks like.

Also, a thought: When you start a drama already itching to criticize it, you're coming at it from a bad place. Be open to it first rather than starting cynical. That may help :)

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I'll always be cheering for snarky sharp reviewers! Waouw those ad hominem attacks on the writer are just petty to me... Not everybody lives in a lala dreamy and rosy land. And for the one who said the reviewer is grumpy in real life, reading comprehension is your friend. Dahee specially said that she's BECOME grumpy since her hope of watching good dramas was crushed. I'm
pretty new to kdrama but I'm a picky watcher I've never followed to hype the only time I did ( boys over flowers) I wanted to cry of boredom. I'm
not a Hong sisters worshipper, SOAW became pretty boring, Dream High bleh, CH was bleh I agree with those who said recaps were better than the actual dramas.

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Dahee, great review. I love your tenacity at bringing it every year. Some might call this "bitchy-ness" but I call it individualism.

It's a pity that as DB has grown, the general open-mindedness of it's patrons seem to have decreased. I don't remember criticism over popular content ever being so...unacceptable...and only in a few years time. I guess as the passion increases, the objectivity and rationalistic behavior decreases. Sigh, it's one of the reasons I've stopped calling this place a haven.

Though I may not agree with your view on some of the dramas, but I can definitely understand your high standards and drama-viewing aesthetics. Been watching dramas since I could sit up straight in dippies. I do not rely on others to give me my own judgement, so regardless of DB, GF, or any of the guest writers, I watch, then make my own conclusions. Normally, don't even read the recaps unless I'm interested in others' analysis of particular scenes...and I'm still confounded why some dramas are so obviously empty/disappointing and get so much hype while others' are so much more but don't get enough recognition. Well, at long as I get enjoyment and enlightenment out of it, then it won't be a waste of my time.

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Open-mindedness floats both ways. A snarky reviewer with exceedingly high standards ready to nit pick at will, does not seem to start with an open mind either.

I am with you that as long as "I" get enjoyment and enlightenment out of any drama, that is all that's important for me. Yes it doesn't matter what any reviewer says about a drama; since I see these reviews as reading entertainment and reading diverse viewpoints, whether or not they agree or disagree with my preferences.

But while this reviewer writes decently, there's also an undertone that ruins reading enjoyment. Most DB readers are not immature nor moronic fangirls. What I think some commenters are saying here is that there’s little need to be excessively derogatory to demonstrate pseudo-intelligence or sophisticated snark. Not so much their need for Dahee to wholly agree with them, or to endorse their favorite dramas.

Dark periods in someone’s life can sometimes be an accumulation of endless tough challenges and negativities (hint) that finally pushes one over the edge. People should really stop to think and self reflect for a minute.

It’s all too convenient to go all “touchy-feely emotional”, sob and scream outrage when any person suicides. Not thinking you are at all any part of the problem.

If everyone just respectfully practised being more tactful and saying less hateful rhetoric in the name of ‘intelligent wit’, perhaps then they wouldn’t be part of the problem. One pebble thrown, when combined with a thousand, is afterall part of the rock that can sink a ship.

There's also a huge difference in laughing at someone, or laughing along with someone.

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Amen! You said everything

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haha AGREED!!
passer by, you need to pass by more often.

"One pebble thrown, when combined with a thousand, is afterall part of the rock that can sink a ship." LOVED this line..

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What? Do you live in some fantasy land we commoners aren't aware about? Please come back to reality where critics are free to talk about the QUALITY of a piece of television programming and not turning it into some existential life lesson.

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ditto.

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amen to that!

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Alien! I mean...Amen!

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Finally someone who also watched Girl K. Please see this mini series! As mentioned here, it is badass!

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Dahee Fanel - you're awesome in your bashing and its incredible that I think so since I share almost NONE of your opinions. We even liked TPM for different reasons! But these made my night" Shitty Hunter, Can You Hear My Bowel Movement, Smile Diarrhea, Best Lard, or Lie To My Bladder"

PS Chicken Balls wouldn't burn that long. Pick something larger, like an elephant.

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technically, write "시티헌터" as "shitty hunter" is not wrong, right?

/hide

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To be nit-picky is not a bad thing, and that's exactly what Da Hee is. I'm sorry to all of those who are able to watch a drama "for the fun of it" or because it was enjoyable in the carefree flirty way that has nothing to do with plot or acting. These things matter to viewers who have higher expectations on what a good drama is; it's not like you can lower expectations with a snap of a finger. For me, I can't watch a drama unless it has good acting, good plot, and good directing, all of which I think is needed to make a solid praiseworthy drama. What is GOOD and what is BAD are very subjective ideas, and one shouldn't attack a person for their opinions and preferences.

Also, I found no bone to pick with Da Hee's writing. I think it is remarkably refreshing and bold, and it's not like she bashed the dramas without watching it. She watched them; it was horrible (to her); why wouldn't it warrant a thorough bashing?! We'd do the same if we thought a drama stole twenty hours of our lives, so chill out. It's not like she's writing for a newspaper where we're supposed to "stay neutral."

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Dahee, you need to do more sane reviews around here. Javabeans and Girlfriday has become totally, over the top gushing fangirls. I can't take their reviews seriously anymore.

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thanks for the review!

I'm so with you in loving THE PRINCESS' MAN. It's my again-kdrama addiction drug. One that I thought I would not have the joy of experiencing after long seasons of drought.

Also with you in SCENT OF A WOMAN. I was squirming at episode 11 and got lost at episode 12.

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Wow, going through these comments. It seems like so many drama watchers are willing to let downright bad storytelling, half-baked characters, and incredibly boring and tired setups go for...what? Some unspecific feeling you get? Is it really elitism or nitpicky when you can call out bad tv for being what it is? I'm not going to go out of my way to say that no one should ever watch Two-and-A-Half-Men, but I will say that it is a terrible piece of television programming. Many of the dramas Dahee lambasted all contain the things I listed above. I started almost all of the dramas he listed and never really finished any of them. I just read the recaps because it was infinitely more entertaining than watching a train wreck and wasting my time. Cynical, call it whatever you want. But when something like Girl K or Vampire Prosecutor (which I never expected to like) comes along, everything really does look like tired old crap.

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*she

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I can relate to YJ character in Scent of a woman, I think KSA was able to pull off the character very well, base on reality, if some of you have experienced cancer, you would know. the writer presented the story in a very realistic way. Having cancer is not fun and game, in time the illness will sink in to the patient mind and body, while suffering from pain and thinking about those people who she will left behind and this drama is about dying and living life a day at a time while trying to do what is right and best for her remaining days.
I still recommend this drama to those who haven`t watch it. Don`t be discourage from what you read, check it out and you will love Scent of a woman.

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I've read a few reviews written by Dahee, and they all seem to have that "mean girl" mentality. What is this obsession with being so overcritical to the point of narcissism and arrogance? Sure, she has a right to share her opinions (negative or not) but maybe it's time to be a little more humble and less of an egoist. To be a film or television critic, you have to be able to convey your feelings without spewing outright rejection. Good critics know the difference between brutal honesty and where to draw the line. This applies to all writers, whether reputable critics, authors or fanwriters, bloggers.

So I ask you this, Dahee, what have you made that has more value than these dramas you so easily bash? What gives you the gall to berate them as if you know better? I patiently await the day Dahee produces, writes & directs a drama of her own, and for her to be humbled and taken off her high horse. Point out the flaws but don't offer any solutions... That seems to be your type of writing style. I hope one day your posts develop into a more mature way of getting your point across.

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So I ask you this, Dahee, what have you made that has more value than these dramas you so easily bash?

A critic need not necessarily imply being skilled in order to judge. Does a restaurant critic need to have the creativity of a Grant Achatzs in order to opine whether a dish or restaurant is good? Does an art critic need to have the imagination and skill of a Dali in order to judge whether the art is crap or actually fine Vieux Boulogne?

Have you heard of James Wood, François Simon or Pauline Kael? All critics known for their sarcasm, wit and acerbic tongue (many have called them mean and brutal!) and yet they are respected and influential critics.

Rather than thinking Dahee mean, arrogant or egotistical, I find her writing & criticism style to be direct, honest and doesn't suffer fools. May not be to everyone's taste but I find it refreshing & un-sugarcoated.

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(I know writing in this blog isn't like writing in the industry, so I'm sorry if I come off as being too serious, but all good critics strive for the same goal so I'll address it as such.)

You're right, nycgrl. To be a critic, you don't have to be the top master or expert in whatever you're reviewing. But to give good feedback, you have have the knowledge to be able to measure how good or bad something is. Good critics try to find out the intentions behind what the artist is trying to do, and they reflect on that. Assuming the worst (as Dahee so wittingly does) just shows that you are criticizing what you don't understand.

A good critic has the intention of helping the other person to do better work, or to understand his perspective or project better. Being dismissive, sarcastic & vicious is not trying to be helpful, nor is it respectful to the person and his work. Although you may not agree, pointing out all of the technical errors, holes in the storyline, the acting, etc. isn't helpful and is perceived as a personal attack. The fact that all of her reviews on this site are riddled with personal preferences rather than useful feedback or insight shouts, "ME! ME! It's all about ME!" It's not about the reviewer. It's about the work she is reviewing and the person behind it. Personal taste clouds the positive and the good attributes in the work you easily dismiss.

I know Dahee (and all of the commentors eagerly defending her) are thinking that I'm trying to belittle her work or attack her personally, but truthfully I am not. She is a great writer with much to offer, but I hope she realizes that it is possible to criticize without negativity. You can be direct, blunt, straightforward while also being positive. It's a lot more effective.So please accept this criticism, learn, and grow from it.

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