Drama Reactions & Reviews
2012 Editors’ Picks [Year In Review, Part 6]
by | December 28, 2012 | 320 Comments

Annnnnnnd another year comes to a close.

Big thanks to our recap minions HeadsNo2, gummimochi, and kaedejun for sharing their reviews with us and joining the spirited discussion for the Editors’ Picks this year. There wasn’t even any hair-pulling, and only one person lost an eye! It’s been a great year for K-dramas and an even better one at Dramabeans because of all our readers, so thanks to you guys for making this community what it is. Okay, enough mushy stuff.

And the winners are…

SONG OF THE DAY

Queen In-hyun’s Man OST – “내 남자, 김붕도” (My Man, Kim Boong-do) [ Download ]

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2012 Editors’ Picks

 

BEST DRAMA

Gaksital

girlfriday: It was quite a year for dramas of all shapes and sizes, but few left the kind of impact that Gaksital did. If it had only been a historical drama about a painful era in Korean history; if it had only been a heart-wrenching tale of two friends torn apart by country; if it had only been a superhero chronicle about a larger-than-life figure… but it wasn’t. It was all of those things, and more. Sometimes a man becomes more than a hero when he gives the power of his mask to the people. And sometimes a drama becomes more than a story when it stirs your heart, reminds you of the importance of fighting for what you believe in, and makes you want to be that kind of hero every day.

Honorable Mentions: Answer Me 1997, Padam Padam, Shut Up: Flower Boy Band

 

BEST ACTOR

Joo-won, Gaksital

javabeans: Joo-won did not immediately win me over in this role; I hadn’t connected with him in the past and I wasn’t sure I’d be with him emotionally here. There was also the matter of his difficult character, who by no means had his pathway cleared for him as an easy hero archetype. But as Gaksital unfolded and cast our hero into the throes of rage, injustice, anguish, love, and righteousness, the pieces of this fractured soul came together—in understanding, growth, and healing—all held together by the actor’s committed performance. Joo-won had a steep hill to climb, but he dove into this drama head-first, willing to do anything in service of the story. Has the hero role in a drama ever been so flawed and dark and potentially career-killing? No matter, because Joo-won seemed aware that the story trumped his ego, that the drama was bigger than his star moments. Bravo.

Honorable Mentions: Lee Beom-soo (History of a Salaryman), Lee Seung-gi (The King 2 Hearts), Song Joong-ki (Nice Guy)

 

BEST ACTRESS

Jung Ryeo-won, History of the Salaryman

HeadsNo2: Delightfully subverting well-worn gender tropes by being the exact opposite of everything we’ve come to expect in our drama heroines, Jung Ryeo-won cursed her way right to the top of every ‘Most Awesome’ list, ever. It takes a dedicated actress to deliver such a fun, no-holds-barred performance, made of equal parts running mascara, Kill Bill tracksuits, and an inherent lack of understanding for the plight of the poor. In all those instances, Jung Ryeo-won delivered a truly unforgettable bleeping performance by injecting heart and raw emotion into a character that could otherwise be very unlikable, but one which turned out to be utterly bleeping lovable.

Honorable Mentions: Ha Ji-won (The King 2 Hearts), Moon Chae-won (Nice Guy)

 

BEST DIRECTING

Gaksital

HeadsNo2: Gaksital was, among many good things, a director’s drama. Using the bleak backdrop of the Japanese occupation as the setting for a deeply moving tale of two friends on both sides of the divide, we ended up with a fast-moving, high-stakes drama that delivered a hero story filled to the brim with adventure and thrills. Orchestrated by a director unafraid to lead us into the depths of darkness (only to reward us with moments of fist-pumping glory after), this was a comic book adaptation with a completely unique look and feel, evident whether you’ve seen one frame or a hundred. Coupled with a fantastic score, this truly was a drama that lived and breathed on the frenetic energy of its directing hand, and one that really makes me miss hearing cries to the tune of: “Gaksitaaaaaaal!”

Honorable Mentions: Padam Padam, Queen In-hyun’s Man

 

BEST MELODRAMA

Nice Guy

gummimochi: As a dramatic tale about a boy-next-door hero on a revenge path to bring everyone and everything down with him, Nice Guy fit the melodrama mold and also shook it up in interesting ways. Its fast-paced narrative kept things moving, though its trail of ambiguity and obscurity could leave you scratching your head if you thought too hard. Still, gorgeous directing and commanding performances from beautiful actors patched these holes to make this an engaging watch. We’ll never look at nice guys the same way again.

Honorable Mention: Padam Padam

 

BEST HISTORICAL DRAMA

Gaksital

javabeans: I love history. I love dramas. The two do not, however, always mix well. What makes for gripping television isn’t always respectful of facts, and fascinating history doesn’t always translate well to the screen. Gaksital not only did right by both of those facets, it also married the two in brilliant, heartbreaking fashion. Set amidst a painful period in recent history, the drama constructed a rich onscreen reality, made more vivid by its anchoring with trufax. The history was skillfully woven into the backdrop to complete the picture, but never took over for the narrative driving the show—because while the main story may have been fiction, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real. Sometimes that vividness was so stark that it hurt a little to watch (or maybe a whole lot), but it wasn’t an indulgent, sadistic, or manipulative hurt. It was a hurt that highlighted some grim human truths, honored the lives from which it drew its inspiration, and reminded you of the dangers of forgetting.

Honorable Mentions: Arang and the Magistrate, Queen In-hyun’s Man

 

BEST COMEDY

Answer Me, 1997

kaedejun: Comedies may be built on a set of amusing circumstances, but ought to also tap into an emotional center—that’s the case with Answer Me, 1997. Even with the crazy fandom wars (H.O.T! SechsKies!) and the students’ heightened reactions to simple problems (because things just tend to get overblown in high school) it had more heart than any drama I’ve seen all year. More than situations built for comedy, the moments that brought us laughs also connected the characters to each other, whether it was best friends, first loves, or family. It was as heartwarming as it was funny, though it doesn’t hurt that the show never failed to give my abs a healthy workout or make my cheeks sore from smiling.

Honorable Mention: History of the Salaryman

 

BEST ACTION DRAMA

Gaksital

gummimochi: You can’t have a drama about an epic character like Gaksital and not include some awesome fight sequences. What could have been all flash and little substance, Gaksital instead took that same fight scene and intentionally used it to drive its storytelling to push the narrative forward. Beautifully shot, each scene was like watching frames from a comic book play out in a fluid motion. Every swing of a sword or a blow to the gut meant the difference between life and death. As a viewer, each cut to the arm was a cut to the heart. And when you can feel that on a visceral level, you know you’ve got a compelling and fantastic action series on your hands.

 

BEST WRITING

Answer Me, 1997

girlfriday: A high school drama may not seem like the likeliest vehicle for best screenplay of the year, but emotion is never as universal or raw, and stakes never so high, as when you first love, first hurt, and first experience change. Answer Me, 1997 did a lot of impressive things, like intricate plotting that took place in two or more time periods and jumped around with shifts in perspective; it had deft wordplay, visual punchlines, realistic situational comedy, and a slick draw in the delayed narrative reveal that would stab you in the heart when you least expected it. But all that was in service of something earnest and deeply personal, inasmuch as you couldn’t write that drama if you didn’t have an outpouring of love and nostalgia for your own youth. It was that touch that tapped into people’s hearts, and made the ’90s come alive for a new generation.

Honorable Mentions: Gakistal, Shut Up: Flower Boy Band

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Park Ki-woong, Gaksital

HeadsNo2: Park Ki-woong put in a masterful performance as the torturously misguided Shunji Kimura in this year’s Gaksital, allowing us a rare glimpse into the heart of a man who left the world he knew for one much darker than he, or the audience, could have ever imagined. If eyes are the windows to the soul, his became a cage formed by self-loathing and fear – fear that he might never return to the way things were, despite all his sacrifices to get there. The fact that we could see that desperation literally seeping from his pores lent his role a sense of restrained immediacy that kept us on the edge of our seats, if only to allow the chills caused by his dead-eyed grins to more freely crawl up our collective spines.

Honorable Mention: Jo Jung-seok (The King 2 Hearts)

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Lee Yoon-ji, The King 2 Hearts

kaedejun: Lee Yoon-ji is a force to be reckoned with. As the sister to the king, she managed to keep the grace of a royal while being sassy and modern, in the most lovable way. It didn’t hurt that she wasn’t afraid to tell Oppa when he was being an ass, and had one of the most bittersweet love stories of the year. She’s had her practice being a princess in modern-day Korea (see Goong), but here her dramatic arc took full advantage of her range, and gave her the chance to dig deep. Her ability to draw you in and make you care for her puts her with among the best of the year—where’s her headlining role?

Honorable Mention: Park Shi-yeon (Nice Guy)

 

BEST MUSIC

Shut Up: Flower Boy Band

javabeans: A drama about music having good music—you’d think it a foregone conclusion (and find, woefully, that assumption to be hasty in a number of cases). And Shut Up: Flower Boy Band does have a fantastic soundtrack, with a kickass rocker-songwriter as musical director (Lee Jae-hak of Loveholic) making keen musical choices. But elevating this case is how the music rounds out the drama both thematically and narratively, acting as a metaphor for these boys’ troubled journeys and expressing to us what they can’t always say in words. Not only does the music establish mood and provide narration for emotional beats, it even drives the action at times, becoming rather like a character in itself. A rough-around-the-edges, fiercely sensitive, emotionally charged, bleeding-heart, guylinered character with a badass swagger and a posse of loyal bros, of course. Nothing less would do.

Honorable Mentions: Answer Me 1997, Gaksital, What’s Up

 

BEST ENSEMBLE

Answer Me, 1997

gummimochi: Having one lovable, memorable character is an achievement in itself but Answer Me, 1997 was able to create and balance the lives of six friends from high school to adulthood, along with family members who were as pivotal to the story as they were. The performances were so tightly woven and in sync that it does more justice to highlight them as a group. Together they exemplified that true friends and family are there to cheer, comfort, and cry with you through the good times and the bad. Their personalities were each unique, but like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle — it’s only when you step back that you see the masterpiece they form together.

Honorable Mention: Shut Up: Flower Boy Band

 

BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE

Jo Jung-seok, The King 2 Hearts

kaedejun: This guy managed to get three hits in one year: In What’s Up he stole scenes as the stage-shy Byeong-gun; in The King 2 Hearts he stole scenes as the steadfast soldier with a heart of gold; and in Introduction to Architecture he stole scenes with a tiny sidekick role. This multitalented actor is just at the beginning of a promising career, and I can’t wait for him to spread his wings into other genres and show a broader audience what he can do. I’m betting stealing scenes will have something to do with it.

and

Jung Eun-ji, Answer Me, 1997

girlfriday: Answer Me, 1997 was chock full of breakout performances from a cast of fresh faces, but it was Jung Eun-ji’s relatable heartfelt turn as the Tony-Oppa-loving fangirl from Busan who anchored the show. Perhaps it was her actual youth that felt so immediate, but she captured that teenage exuberance that was the very essence of the drama, and at the same time managed to rattle off pages and pages of fast-talking dialogue like effortless conversation. She made us laugh in mortified horror or cry in earnest heartache, and even if YOU didn’t love Tony Oppa, didn’t you feel like the world might end if she couldn’t keep on loving him?

Honorable Mentions: Lee Jang-woo (I Do, I Do), Sung Joon (Shut Up: Flower Boy Band)

 

BEST COUPLE

Ji Hyun-woo & Yoo Inna, Queen In-hyun’s Man

gummimochi: If there’s one thing that Queen In-hyun’s Man taught us, it’s that we should never lose hope in a well-written fairytale romance that transcends time and space. The electrifying connection between a brainy hero and an earnest heroine had a palpable chemistry that flew off the page and swept us along on their love story. By telling us that love is more than a card dealt by Fate, Boong-do and Hee-jin worked to earn their happily ever after, Fate be damned. It’s as if they told the ol’ fogey, “We create our own destiny.”

Honorable Mentions: Lee Jun-ki & Shin Mina (Arang and the Magistrate), Ha Ji-won & Lee Seung-gi (The King 2 Hearts)

 

BEST BROMANCE

Lee Seung-gi & Jo Jung-seok, The King 2 Hearts

girlfriday: Bromance had a great run this year—the six-way kind (Shut Up: Flower Boy Band), the sad kind (Gaksital), the go-to-hell kind (Equator Man)—but there was no better odd-couple this year than the bromance between a humorless, earnest soldier and his witty, immature king. At times they shared an awkward drink or even more awkward dating advice, and sometimes one had to lead a country while the other stood on the front lines of his battle. They were always disagreeing, but always standing on the same side when it mattered, proving that a king really is only as good as his most faithful soldier… even one who never laughed at his jokes. A friendship built on mutual misunderstanding was never funnier, and an allegiance to one’s king never more inspirational.

Honorable Mentions: The boys of Shut Up: Flower Boy Band

 

BEST CHARACTER

Kim Boong-do, Queen In-hyun’s Man

HeadsNo2: There were moments during Queen In-hyun’s Man where I just expected the dialogue to be overpowered by the sound of countless hearts set aflutter by the intelligent, resourceful, steadfast, and refreshingly blunt fish-out-of-water awesomesauce that was Kim Boong-do. In what seemed like forever, we had a romantic hero who could not have lived more dangerously if he tried (I’m pretty sure that almost killing yourself each time you want to time travel for a date must win about five trillion points on the Scorecard o’ Devotion), and more importantly, one who made his own choices. You know, choices not dictated by Fate but by feelings, which translated into something real and palpable – something (and someone) you just couldn’t help but root for. We all love you, Boong-do. Even if you’re a playboy.

and

Lee Kang-to / Gaksital, Gaksital

girlfriday: Not that we’re debating here (*whistles innocently*), but it’s hard to argue that any character beats Superhero Who Saved His Country. Just sayin’. That’s pretty much your all-kill in this category, especially if he’s the dark, complex, frighteningly raw, badass bad guy… who turns it all around to become the hero of the people. Okay, so there was that bout of torture (or two), the time he killed everyone’s brother, and the years he spent being a traitor to his country to feed his family and keep himself in snazzy suits. But certainly his redemption counts for more? He wins for biggest arc, biggest sacrifice, and biggest… … …horse.

 

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Big

kaedejun: A body-swapping drama should be interesting — but when one body’s in a coma and the other is stealing Coma Guy’s girl, and no one knows how the hell to switch them back, we’ve got a problem. This was billed as a romantic-comedy but the romance was fundamentally flawed and the comedy was… where was the comedy? It took a melodramatic twist and never looked back, and we didn’t want to either. We may have come for the cute and the chocolate abs, but that does not a satisfying drama make. Big disappointment.

Honorable Mentions: Dream High 2, Faith

 

BEST VILLAIN

Park Ki-woong as Shunji, Gaksital

gummimochi: A good villain will make you hate him. A great villain will blur the lines between good and evil to the point where you have to stop and ask if monsters are born or made. No other baddie this year swung that moral pendulum quite like Shunji, who firmly justified all of his evil acts in desperate determination to return to a lost innocence. Who knew that a quiet schoolteacher would eventually scorch you with a hot iron rod and kick a box of nails over repeatedly with a dull expression on his face? Just thinking about it still sends shivers down my spine.

Honorable Mentions: Yoo Oh-sung as Ki Chul (Faith), Eom Ki-joon as Jo Hyun-min (Ghost)

 

BIGGEST WASTE OF TALENT

Lee Je-hoon, Fashion King

HeadsNo2: Sometimes it’s hard to swallow the fact that our favorite actors are capable of picking terrible projects, but there you have it: Lee Je-hoon picked a real dud in Fashion King. Even his vast amount of talent, his whole-body method of conveying the full emotional depth of his characters, just couldn’t elevate such miserable source material. One could argue that he gave his character nuance that most definitely could not be found on the page, and I’d agree with that person wholeheartedly. Let’s just hope he’s not scared away from dramaland forever when he returns from military service, so that I can use the interim to wipe away my tears of disappointment with tissues made from his countless critical accolades. First world problems.

Honorable Mentions: Jung Il-woo (The Moon That Embraces the Sun), Lee Hyun-woo (To the Beautiful You)

 

MOST OVERRATED DRAMA

The Moon That Embraces the Sun

javabeans: A 40%-ratings drama in this day and age is a feat worth boasting about; there’s no denying that The Moon That Embraces the Sun earned the right to be proud of its achievement. It’s just that… well, it’s too bad the distinction couldn’t have been given to a better show. One with a solid plot, whose characters had dimension, which was sustained by a conflict stronger than the juvenile love story (some might call it obsession) at this one’s core. There was an awful lotta hype about a show that ultimately wasn’t about very much; it’s sorta like seeing a floofy puffball of a cat dunked in water and turning into a tiny sack of limbs—shockingly lacking in substance and maybe a little sad. (And don’t forget the ensuing hissing and wrath.) The Moon That Embraces the Sun wasn’t a terrible show, and it had a gorgeous look and a compelling cast. It’s just that we were promised so much, but opened up the packaging to find a lot of hot air.

Honorable Mention: Nice Guy

 

MOST UNDERRATED DRAMA

Arang and the Magistrate

girlfriday: It’s often only when a year has gone by that you realize how few dramas had a full vision of its own story world, and how few told a satisfying tale within the rules of that universe. So simple, and yet… le sigh. Arang and the Magistrate had perhaps the largest storyverse in dramaland this year, from heaven to hell and earth in between, filled with reapers, gods, fairies, ghosts, and even your local government magistrates—but no matter how wide it went in scope, it never lost its center. Though the mythology is what made it impressive, it was really one woman’s journey of self-discovery—and how the love of a magistrate changed her—that carried the heart of the show. Arang may have flown under the radar, but it was one of the sweetest and most satisfying rides of the year.

Honorable Mention: The Chaser

 

MOST MEMORABLE TIME TRAVEL GIMMICK

Brain fetus, Dr. Jin

gummimochi: It’s easy to get lost in a year filled with a plethora of time travel gimmicks that vary from golden vials, to talismans, to the hand of Fate. But Dr. Jin upstaged all of these with its own ingenious time slip mechanism: a gummi bear brain fetus. It reminded our hero Hyuk with a pleasant “zap” whenever it felt like he went astray from the course of history, or… anytime it wanted to. You shame us gummis everywhere, brain fetus. We’ll never be sure of what came first: the brain fetus or Dr. Jin. If anything, it’s certain that we’ll forever be wondering, WTF.

Honorable Mentions: Talisman (Queen In-hyun’s Man), Morally selective wormhole (Faith)

 

MOST GLORIOUS MANE OF GLORY

Kim Bum, Padam Padam

girlfriday: You wouldn’t think Method had anything to do with our admittedly cosmetic category, but give the man a brownie point for growing his own mane out for the role. (And another brownie point for nailing the perfect cascade of waves.) Because no matter how hot a hero looks with his flowing tresses blowing in the wind, Wig of Glory doesn’t quite have the same ring. Then again, it’s not like he could grow his very own angel wings, so maybe he had to get his Method fix somewhere. Better that than any other prison initiation.

Honorable Mentions: Lee Min-ho (Faith), Joo-won (Gaksital), Yoo Seung-ho (Arang and the Magistrate)

 

MOST SHAMEFUL MANE OF SHAME

Park Yoochun, Rooftop Prince

javabeans: The troll doll hair qualifies as shameful, definitely, but kudos for Yoochun for wearing it so well. Er, not well, exactly, but with aplomb. Inasmuch as the hair had a function in this zany comedy to make the hero look extra-ridiculous (y’know, since the tracksuit and Joseon royal hat weren’t enough, or his absurd prince-out-of-water haughtiness) and to wring some laughs, I suppose we have to credit it as a success. Although, is succeeding in being horrible a real success, or is it just extra-horrible? Is this a winning look, or a losing one? Glorious ‘dos may prompt a litany of poetry, but it’s the shameful ones that ask life’s important questions.

Honorable Mentions: Hwang Jung-eum (Full House Take 2), Noh Min-woo (Full House Take 2)

 

MOST ACTING

Song Seung-heon, Dr. Jin

HeadsNo2: You can see it in most awards ceremonies – where the “best” of anything is more often than not just the “most” of something. Our minds tend to trick us in that we tend to praise “best acting” as someone who did the “most acting,” though Song Seung-heon proved that there is indeed a separation between the two by delivering the most heavily-acted performance of the year as the titular character in Dr. Jin. Passable performances need to at least fly under the radar to do their job, but here we got a case of an actor going above and beyond the call of duty to make sure the audience knew when he was very shocked, or very angry, or very confused. Is there something to be said about the fact that we always knew what he was thinking? I’d like to think that answer isn’t a yes or no, but a very firm “Derp.”

Honorable Mentions: Lee Shi-young (Wild Romance), Yoo Ah-in (Fashion Kin), Yoo Oh-sung (Faith)

 

LEAST ACTING

Shin Won-ho, Big

javabeans: Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

……

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

*looks pretty*

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

*paycheck, please*

 
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320 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. 51 theedie

    Should be categories for best costumes and best cinematography or something that recognizes the pretty. But with that said, nice summary of this year’s dramas. Here’s to another year more!

  2. 52 WM

    Bwahahahahahaha!!!! That picture for “Most Acted” Dr. Jin says everything that needs to be said for that drama. LOLOLOLOL…priceless!

  3. 53 wanne

    I guess this is how those who didn’t like City Hunter felt when that drama swept most of the awards here last year. I think Gaksital was a great action drama, dark with interesting story arc for the hero, epic soundtracks and all but I couldn’t connect with it emotionally. This may sound like a repeat to what some of the commentators here already said, but that’s what I really felt. Joowon at times was too shouty that it was disturbing too. Maybe he toned it down afterwards, but I stopped watching the drama midway. Anyway, congratulations to all the winners (the last award cracks me up LOL!) and I’m looking forward to the year-end award ceremonies. Thanks Dramabeans!

    • 53.1 SS

      The number of times I jumped to Joo Won’s defense but there’s only 2 more days left to 2012 so might as well go all out.
      Maybe because I watched Joo Won in Ojakgyo Brothers before Gaksital where he played a officer Hwang Taehee a taciturn man, I can say that Joo Won is only shouty as Lee Kangto. And it was only in the earlier episodes of Gaksital because that’s who Lee Kangto was. A hot-blooded, quick tempered, ambitious young man. He also used his voice to subdue and make people cower.
      His performance is by no mean 100% perfect but almost. Rather, no one can imagine any other actor as Lee Kangto. That’s the extent he owned the character.

      • 53.1.1 juniper

        ^^^THIS!

        He wasn’t shouty, maybe you mistook that as delivering lines with raw and intense emotions…Joo Won owned that character, he made that character and I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing Lee Kangto!!

      • 53.1.2 wanne

        I also watched Ojakyo and I liked him in there. I think he’s a passionate actor capable of showing raw emotions but his screaming in Gaksital was disturbing to me and there was a lot of it. It must be exhausting for him.

      • 53.1.3 latteholic

        I actually watched Ojagkyo after Gaksital and I only knew him from some (very few) episodes of Bread, Love, and Dream prior to Gaksital, so I wasn’t aware of his acting capability. But I agree with SS that he needs to be shouty as evil Kang To. He’s supposed to be hot blooded and quick-temper and him being shouty is one way to emphasize that character. As the story progress you’ll see that he started to tone down his level of intensity, and in turn we’ll get more shouting from Shunji.. :D But I feel the same with you. I didn’t find his screaming disturbing, but I did worry sometimes with how much he strained his voice, eventhough still he delivered.

  4. 54 Addonemore?

    Worst villain should go to the evil bitch sister and cousin from Rooftop Prince.

    • 54.1 Kiara

      Yes yes Yong Tae Moo has got to be the worst epic fail villain ever.

      • 54.1.1 Addylovesbwood

        Sena from rtp did get under my skin.

  5. 55 estelle

    Thank you so much ladies! :)

    2012 was a great year for kdramas. My top 3 favourite dramas of all time have since reshuffled to: The King 2 Hearts, Answer Me 1997 and Queen In Hyun’s Man. I’m so thankful that I managed to meet these 3 great dramas this year. Very very thankful.

    Happy New Year everyone! Cheers to a better year ahead!

  6. 56 Susan

    Maybe I should give Gaksital another try, I stopped watching after episode 4…
    Anyway, thanks for all your hard work guys and happy new year =)

    • 56.1 Addylovesbwood

      you really should!! ep 4-7 were like the most crucial episodes in the whole drama!!

  7. 57 risa

    I’m pleasantly surprised to see the nod to Padam Padam. Too bad so few people here have watched I Live in Cheongdamdong and A Wife’s Credentials– I hear (from multiple sources) that they’re both superb. (It looks like subs for A Wife’s Credentials will be finished soon but I don’t think anyone has taken on subbing ILICDD since the take-down of MisterX’s former site.)

    Next year can we please have Best Music included in the Beanies’ Choice Awards?

    THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU to all of of the db team (including Santa). You are wonderful, talented, funny, and oh-so-generous with your time and energy. Thanks for making my 2012 much more enjoyable. ♥

  8. 58 Aleena

    So hilarious xD You guys just made my day xD Love you all, Dramabeans people!! :D <3

  9. 59 cushee

    I CAN’T DECIDE IF I LIKE SHUT UP FLOWER BOY BAND OR ANSWER ME 1997 MORE.

    both left me a very strong impression on the heart :)

  10. 60 lucylee

    Yet ANOTHER reason why I love these guy. Most under-rated drama: Arang and the Magistrate!!!

    Loved, loved , am still loving the show and been evangelising to all my friends to watch it. At least the show gets a mention on this page and I totally agree with the award given. It didn’t get due recognition but man, it was good!

    Although…Waste of Talent-wise, hey, where’s the shout-out to Yoo Ah In? He’s a superb actor given the crappiest role this year.

    • 60.1 Anastassia

      Me two!

  11. 61 anais

    Thank you, k-drama gods, for giving us Kim Boong-Do. My love life is ruined now.

    • 61.1 Lovebug

      Sigh so true, its hard to contemplate settling for less now…

    • 61.2 Kiara

      Kim Boong Do is still my favorite hero. (Lee Jun Ki) Kim Eun-oh came really close.

  12. 62 Anastassia

    Many popular dramas. I felt curious about dramabeans view of A wife credentials and can we get married which recived a lot of praise too. Weekend or family drama also didnt get included on the list.
    , i.e ILICD or The one who rolls unexpected etc. i believe action drama has lots to offer and would fell grateful if thriller drama is put in the list so TEN or GHOST has their distinct category.

    Anyway best couple for me is always lee jun ki and shin mina. Even tiugh their romanic scenes is limited but their love, chemistry, romance so overwhelming, heartfelt that i thought my heart gonna explode.

    Thanks everyone.

  13. 63 cindy

    I have to say Gaksital was a good drama, well acted except for the Main girl. But I didnt feel connected Wirth the characters at all.

    Like city Hunter which I do think it was a good drama But also didnt feel connected to.

    And even though I like joo won I really wish shunji’s actor wins some award!!!

    • 63.1 Addylovesbwood

      Oh Mok Dan really deserves the most irrelevant lead actress award!

  14. 64 Candy

    Girlfriday, may I know the other contenders for the Biggest..Horse category? All I know is the BIG Winner Joo Won. I am curious as to who else fought for the title. ㅋㅋㅋ

  15. 65 cindy

    Hm I can’t pick between k2h and sufbb for best bromance !!! both gave me too Manny feels.

    And a1997 best Writing? Really? The second half was weak and end RSS expected.

    Qihm had also second half not so perfect and hás fanservice (Burt a1997 had a lot too.)

  16. 66 cindy

    Cont. I feel like Qihm Second half was better that a1997 second half….

    Oh well both dramas are good.

  17. 67 Rachel

    Oh all the emotions from QIHM just hit me AGAIN with that music! Love that show so much.

    • 67.1 D~

      Oh I agree~~ I even bought the soundtrack x–x

  18. 68 graceface

    BAHAHAHA. OHMYGOD. MOST ACTING. HILARIOUS. I may just take a peak into that drama just to see this award winning acting.

  19. 69 tapioca pearl

    Gosh, all your reviews on Dr. Jin makes me super curious about that gummy brain fetus. It’s an enigma to me, but I steadfastly refuse to watch it. And I loved JB’s puffy-cat-in-water metaphor for Moon/Sun. Didn’t watch that, but that metaphor is enough for me.

    More importantly: great picks! I whole-heartedly agree with nearly all of them, especially with Jung Ryeo-won, whose Baek Yeo-chi is so unforgettable for me. And yay for Gaksitaaaal! I was pleasantly surprised that you guys named Joo Won as best actor. Actually, I was also surprised Gaksital got best drama because I thought you guys might choose Answer Me, 1997. Well-deserved. And good call on splitting the best character distinction. Lee Kang-to is my favorite male kdrama character quite possibly ever, but Kim Boong-do is a veryveryveryclosesecond.

    2012 was an excellent year not just because of the dramas but for the actors that these dramas brought to my attention, whether they were relative newcomers or have been around for a few years but just never captivated me. Joo-won, Jung Ryeo-won, Jo Jung-seok, Park Ki-woong, Lee Jun-ki, Hong Soo-hyun, Ji Hyun-woo, Lee Jin-wook, Lee Beom-soo, Choi Shi-won, Sung Joon, Jung Eun-ji and Im Joo-eun are just a few (many) that caught my eye.

    Thanks to all you Recappers on Dramabeans for everything you’ve written this year! I’ve been a fan of this site for over two years but only started commenting this past summer, and I don’t know why that is because I love reading your website and want to thank you all for the hard work and wit and analyses you provide. This review just caps off another great year for you guys! Happy New Year! May 2013 bring more awesomeness, less chaebols, and Hyun Bin!

  20. 70 Lovebug

    Yay!!! Have been so excited to read this. Big thanks to all of the recappers who have made this year of Drama watching epecially epically awesome. (Thanks to all the commenters too! Being a dramafan is so much fun here!)

    Regarding the best, though I think Gaskital was a awesome drama especially from a acting and directing standpoint. I think there were some major weak points regarding writing and character development that make it hard to rank it as the best. In particular weak points included the weak characterization of the lead actress, the rushed or unexplained love story between the otp, the sometimes oversimplistic episodic plots, the shallow and sometimes over the top character portrayals of the villians, and to a lesser extent Park Kiwoongs overnight descent into evil/madness (though that one is easier to overlook because of how awesome Park Ki Woong’s acting was.) Though despite all that the drama still ended up being pretty awesome.

    And with that said usually the best dramas are not the best to us because they are perfect but because of the connection and love to story, characters, etc that we form.

    For me that best drama was and is Queen Inhyun’s man. It just so happens to be a pretty perfect drama as well. It was excellent on all fronts acting, directing, and storytelling. To me that should have won Best Drama and Best Writing. (Though I loved Reply 1997)

    Otherwise I am totally on board with all of the picks!
    My favorite Dramas of the year were:

    Queen InHyun’s Man
    Reply to me 1997
    Nice Guy
    Gakistal

  21. 71 lizzie

    I feel like the Only person who don’t like Kang to so much here. Lol

    Don’t take me wrong but I never connected with his character….

    On the other side Jae ha from k2h won me over and I was so connected to it.

    I feel like because the story of gaksital is more personal to you guys editors that is why it got you guys more connected with it….

  22. 72 Tha

    Troll hair. hahaha!

  23. 73 Vanessa

    HEHE I literally squealed in joy every time Gaksital won an award. <3 That drama….it gives me a boatload of feelings every time I think about it. Joo-Won and Park Ki Woong are stellar actors and their twisted bromance tore my heart (or what was left of it anyways) to shreds. Just the idea of how much Kang-to and every other admirable character had to sacrifice in that tense time really makes me emotional and reminds me constantly on why I love the drama so much! :)

    Queen Inhyun's Man <3 Oh, so romantic and well done! I wish Ji Hyun woo and Yoo In Na all the best in their future together. The drama really did execute the romantic and fate angle well and remains close to my heart whenever I think of all those sweet moments between the two. :)

    Shut Up Flower Boy Band was just pure awesomeness. The bromance and the boys' journey together was both heartbreaking and joyful to watch as each matured in his own unique way. Ahhh that drama reminds me of how much I value friendship and the love between friends. <3

    Answer me 1997 I am SO going to watch this winter break! Everyone has been telling me to and I know I have to since the premise plus all the great reviews keep nagging me to.

    Anyways, I totally agree w/ all the winners of each category! Thank you so much javabeans, girlfriday, kaedejun, gummimochi, and HeadsNo2 for all your hard work. <3 You guys make my day everyday :)

  24. 74 Suzume

    Hmmmm… I got it, here, at DB, Gaksitaaaaaaaaal is this year’s City Hunter :) I do like Gaksital, but dont think it deserves *seven* best awards ^^

    And best melodrama, for me, its no doubt Padam Padam.

    Happy New Year!

  25. 75 asianromance

    Thank you all for your take on the 2012 dramas! The Most/Least Acting category made me LOL! It got me thinking- I wonder how SSH will act if he ever gets to play a character who goes into a temporary coma….

    • 75.1 Saturtledaisy

      Can’t it be a rather long semi-permanent coma? Then he just has to be there and be pretty and not do anything.

      • 75.1.1 asianromance

        As the winner of the “most acting” category, I’m not sure if he can resist not doing anything. He will probably lay like down super stiffly, like a corpse in its 12 hour of rigor mortis- instead of just sleeping. And in those moments when he’s about to wake up from his coma, there may be a wild flailing of the arms and legs to indicate that he’s running away the Light and back into consciousness.

        • 75.1.1.1 Saturtledaisy

          HAHAHAHA.
          I can just seem him waking up already, gigantic pop-out eyes ready: Where am I? Who are you? Who am I?

  26. 76 nakai

    Padam Padam is my all time favourite drama now but I always thought of it as a drama in 2011. Anyway, wish that drama is more recognised. It’s sooo good.

  27. 77 redfox

    I would probably have picked Shunji as best character though. But that would contradict that he was also the worst. But I can´t wipe it out of my head. even though Park Ki Woong wittyly sneaked Full House 2 on the heels of the bloodfest so we could forget.
    and I would have chosen SUFBB as best bromance.

  28. 78 Sidi

    For me the best actor is ,hands down, Lee Seung Gi. I’m not his fangirl, mind you. I was skeptical with his acting at first, but boy was he great. He showed range of expressions which brought me emotionally into his character. I felt like King Lee Jae Ha was a real king in Korea. I felt his witty, his anger, his sorrow, and his pain. I was happy when he successfully knocked down the villain. I could feel his satisfaction in his eyes. His eyes were ‘speaking’. What a performance.

    On the side note, the music in the drama, man, it’s so beautiful and was approppriately put in the scenes.

    Thanks Dramabeans for all the great recaps and news this year.
    Looking forward to 2013.

  29. 79 Briana

    I loved Answer Me 1997…..I mean loved…….It was one of the gretest shows I watched all year and I loved History of a Salaryman as well. Yeo Chi’s constant cursing never failed to make me laugh.

  30. 80 earthna

    HAHAHAHAHAHHA THE LAST ONE.

    Okay. I’ll officially restart watching Gaksital tomorrow. It dominated this year. I’ll come back when I’m ready. hihi.

    Thanks for all your hardwork this year! So happy that there is a place I can go to where people also appreciate dramas the way I do. Thank you!

  31. 81 Lisa

    Ahh~~ finally! I’ve been waiting for this forever! Thanks so much to jb gf and the other amzing recapers for their wonderful recaps this year! I totally agree with probably all of your picks but for the best villian I think it goes to the villian in king 2 hearts bong gu was it? Haha I dont remeber his name…. congrats to gaksital ~ they took so many of these Its kinda funny but they deserved it! I just love love lobe the ‘least acting’ that goes to shin won ho! Zzzzzz hahahah

  32. 82 adette

    THANK YOU FOR THE SONG.
    i’ve been replaying a 40 second clip from the drama for the longest time…. as soon as i hit play i rejoiced♥♥♥♥♥

  33. 83 coby

    As I read the headline last night on facebook, I didn’t hit the link to read it, as I prepare myself for the heartbreak of Gaksital not getting the best drama of this year. But boy…

    **squeeeaaaaallllllllll!!!!

    GAKSITAL!

    if dramabeans didn’t, GAKSITAL will never forgive thee!

    Thanks for this site, my Kdrama life has never been better!
    **hugs

  34. 84 laraffinee

    I guess you really, REALLY liked “Gaksital”.

    For me, the best drama was “Queen Inhyun’s Man” – great story that was well written; actors who brought the characters to life, really clever time travel plot…etc. etc.

    I like a good historical drama, and I was part of the 40% who actually liked “The Moon that Embraces the Sun”. I have seen snarky reviews stating it was just about an obsession with “getting it”–that’s quite a myopic oversimplification.

    The recaps have been fabulous. The whole “Dr. Jin” insanity became more enjoyable with your recaps.

    Thank you!

  35. 85 korfan

    Something tell me I should have watched Gaksital this year.

    The fantastic experience that was Nice Guy/Innocent Man is still with me though. What can I say, I was simply mesmerized by it. I agree with you that it was the Best Melodrama.

    Also agree with the honorable mention of The Chaser in the most underrated category.

    Congrats to all the dramaland winners! *applause*

    To the amazing staff of Dramabeans, thank you again for all you do for us ….. and to all the fantastic people who gather here thank you for making things so enjoyable and for giving me a warm welcome when I found you guys.

    May 2013 be just as grand!

  36. 86 Yuhotarubi

    GAKSITAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I agree with all of your other selections, and I loled at least acting award, seriously I think they should have brought a puppet instead of wasting that poor guy’s time.

    anyway, thank you so much JB, GF, KJ, GM, and HN2! 2012 was really a great year of K-drama!

    open the doors now to 2013, I hope it’ll be even better

  37. 87 Astrid_974

    Thank you so much for the reviews, and for everything else ! <3
    2012 was a good year… Let's hope 2013 will also deliver !

  38. 88 Laurita

    I definitely need to watch Answer Me, 1997 now. :)

  39. 89 SS

    How come there are no ‘Honorable Mentions’ in the Least Acting Category? Wouldnt gummi bear foetus count? Or maybe not huh? At least it act up every now and then to torment dear Dr…

  40. 90 nedenuleyn

    Where are Uhm Tae Woong and Equator Man? Uhm Tae Woong: The best actor!

  41. 91 nnna

    hahaa that least acting category cracks me.

  42. 92 Ivy

    Wonderful reviews!!! :D I was so happy to see Answer Me 1997 and Queen In-hyun’s man win so many awards :D :D And then wow Gaksital won a loooot – I have to watch that drama – it seems like 2012’s City Hunter (which won loads of prizes in 2011)

  43. 93 Suzi Q

    Thanks for your insightful and hilarious post.

    Loved your DERP comment.. and the category for LEAST ACTING – Shin Won Ho. ZZZZ. LOL. He needs a better agent to get him a better role next time. BIG was so hyped, but the writers wrote themselves into a major hole which they couldn’t get out of for the ending of the drama. Total BIG disappointment especially having the dumb idea of one of the main characters comatose throughout the drama.

    Also agree that “The Moon that Embraces the Sun” although it had beautiful costumes and cinematography, the plot was lacking.I’m amazed it went 40%.

  44. 94 Stephen

    I personally abhorred Arang and the Magistrate. It receivers as much attention that it deserved but no more. The plot was interesting but nothing new, like any other drama storyline.

  45. 95 Elizabeth

    “Gaksital” is misspelt in the Honourable Mentions of the “Best Writing” section ;)

  46. 96 sweetcloud

    Thanks for another awesome year of dramas and recaps! I laughed at the last two categories, although I haven’t seen the dramas the screencap of Dr. Jin and the zzzz comment for Big are pretty self explanatory :D

    I feel sad that Arang and the Magistrate remained underrated until the very end, but it will hold a special place in my heart. Although I haven’t seen all the dramas mentioned and therefore might not have as objective an eye, I would have given the drama a nod for its beautiful OST – although javabeans did mention it in her year end review, thank you for that. Gaksital, to me, had a beautiful soundtrack as well but more conventional and not as rich.

    All in all, a great drama year means more laugh/tears for us viewers, and what emotional rides some of these have proven to be!

  47. 97 mtoh

    Thanks ladies, this was one good year of dramas, even my best drama was TK2H, bow for Gaksital.
    Happy New Year, see ya in January…cheers DB crew!

  48. 98 manassuper

    FOR ME THEKING 2 HEARTS IS THE BEST DRAMA SO FAR BECOZ IT IS SO DIFFERENT FOR A K-CONVENTIONAL TYPE….. I DON’TKNOW BUT girlfriday MUST HAVE HAD A HARD TIME CHOSING OUT OF THE KING 2 HEARTS AND Gaksital ……BUT MYVOTE GOES TO TK2H FOR BEST DRAMA AND LEE SEUNG GI AND HA JI WON FOR BEST ACTRESS AND ACTRESS…..HA JI WON WITH THAT ALMOST REAL NORTH ACCENT AND TOTALLY BEING PERFECT IN ACTION,ENOTION AND MELODRAMATIC SCENE…..AND LEE SEUNGGI HIS VERSATILITY FRO PROTRAYING PERFECTLY FROM A BRATTY KING TO A KING THAT PEOPLE CAN LEAN ON..EXCEELENT IN EMOTIONAL,MELODRAMATIC SCENES TO COMEDY…SPECIALLY THE SEEN WITH KIM BONG GU,ALSO WITH LEE SEON JAE WHEN HE WAS CAUGHT,EVEN WITH HIS MOTHERIN A EMOTIONAL SCENES WHERE SHE SAYS IT’S OK TO BECOME COWARD AND NOT RETALIATE…THEY ARE SO MUCH SCENES THAT STOOD OUT NOT TO MENTION THE BROMANCE BETWEEN HIS ROYAL GAURD AND KING….AT LEAST WITH BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE FROM KING,QUEEN,PRINCESS TO ROYAL GAURD IT GOT TO BE THE BEST DRAMA…….

  49. 99 MsScorpion

    I was dying of laughter on those last 2 or 3 awards, sooooooo funny.

    Thank you for your great picks and excellent taste in dramas.

    But now I have a request, on next years reviews and editors pick, please please please don’t forget King of Dramas, it’s an awesome drama but because it’s airing at the very end of the year it wasn’t mentioned here and might be left out in next year’s, so pretty please don’t forget it in next year’s one.

  50. 100 Angela Q

    GAKSITAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! <3

    so glad to see this drama receiving the most love because it deserves all of it. it was truly an amazing drama from start to finish. to be honest, i actually just finished it a few days ago and i feel so bad :( i wish i could have watched it earlier……… now it's like already in my top 5 favorite dramas ^__^ i agree with every category gaksital won in (: this reminds me of last year when city hunter won everything LOL. funny since the genres are similar too. anyway, i am so anticipating joowon's new drama just gah! i knew he had strong potential ever since i watched him in baker king, and i am so glad he is using that potential of his to the fullest extent. no words can describe how amazing gaksital and joowon's acting was!! if this drama doesnt win the awards it deserves during the drama awards, i am literally going to cry harder than i did during the dramaaaa ok im done expressing my love for gaksital i would write so much more about it but im afraid it might take up the whole page so im just going to stop here LOL

    my top favorite dramas this year would have to be: gaksitaaaaaal
    nice guy
    reply 1997
    king 2 hearts
    arang and the magistrate
    shut up flower boy band
    ^^

    and omfg, literally died of laughter at the last one! the only time he really acted was in the first episode then he spent the rest of the drama in dreamland……….. damn how i wish i could sleep as much as he did. freaking school taking away my sleep. he should like, give me his life. LOLOL jkjks! ….sigh big was actually the drama i had the highest expectations for but it turned out to be a huge disappointment. the first half was pretty good, but then the rest was just a snooze-fest….. what a waste of my gongyoo and lee minjung -___-

    well looking forward to a new year of kdramas! i hope it will be as good as 2012 ^__^

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