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. 101 hanni12

    30 winners, Gaksital has won 8 times.

    That is 26,666%.

    Seriously people, it wasn’t that great…

     (0)


    • 101.1 lili

      Seriously, it was THAT great…It deserves every praise it gets. Fantastic actors (minus the lead actress), great story and very inspiring. I sure spent an exciting summer with Gaksital.

       (0)


      • 101.1.1 Addylovesbwood

        Whatt??? It wasn’t that great!?? It was the most epic drama of the year! I’m pretty sure you marathoned it.

        Those who invested in it are the one would appreciate it! I followed Gaksitaal for 3.5 Months so it’ll take 10X that amount to ease out my system.

         (0)


        • 101.1.1.1 hanni12

          No, I completed it, but I never marathoned it. Thank you very much.

          It is just mediocre with some very nice packaging. There no message behind it other than some superficial patriotism and it also doesn’t have any sort of respect for the period that is the very subject of it. There is in no way any sort of realism in it.

          It tries to be intense from the first minute, but fails as there is really NOTHING beyond the surface. To create that intensity artificially they just scream in your face and show you the crazy eyes. It just doesn’t work…

          Every episode is just constructed for the cliffhanger at the end of it. The plot itself just runs in circles mostly, how often was Mok Dam captured? How often were Kang To and Shunji having a stand-off? How often was Kang To nearly discovered?

          It is just some shallow story telling, I get why people like it, as it is easy and quite fun to watch for some people, but it really doesn’t deserve any sort of recognition. You also can’t ignore how freaking much it was hyped on Dramabeans, which is basically word of god for some people.

           (0)


          • 101.1.1.1.1 SS

            Most dramas have their flaws and weakness. For every drama that has earned raves, I can think of the plot holes, weak characters etc. Since you think Gaksital is such a terrible drama, which drama(s) in your opinion should win or be in contention for the Best Drama Award?

             (0)


        • 101.1.1.2 missjb

          I regret watching it airing.. LOL
          It’s frustating, but because of cliffhanger and my concerned about SHunji’s journey, I followed the crowd who did watch this drama when it aired

           (0)


      • 101.1.2 SHema

        ^^THIS!!

         (0)


      • 101.1.3 lu

        Girl, everyone have their own opinions. The drama had a lot of plot holes and got a love repetitive and I don’t think it need the extension.

        The basic plot of the first episodes:

        Police wants to get Gaksital, Gaksital appears and the police once again fails, Gaksital saves another day! Yay! Next episode? Again the same. Main girl still annoying as ever never doing something right and Police still failing to catch Gaksital!!

        The romance also felt forced and didn’t work for me.

         (0)


        • 101.1.3.1 Dee

          *nods head at hanni12 and Lu* The drama sure is pretty, and the actors are all doing a fine job, but the story is just meh. I stopped watching the last few eps, but was relying on the recaps here on dramabeans. The story was really honestly shallow to me, even though I could accept it at that time. There are definitely a lot who would disagree, but we all have different opinions.

           (0)


        • 101.1.3.2 lili

          Of course, it got repetitive, it’s based on a manhwa, furthermore it’s a shounen…What did you expect? Shounens always uses the same formula : Righteous hero who fights the baddies, he always win or even if he lose, he learns from his defeats.

          As for the main girl, she is definitely the weakest link of the the drama. I didn’t watch this drama for the romance but for the plot so I wasn’t that much disappointed.

          But yeah I do respect your opinions^^

           (0)


          • 101.1.3.2.1 hanni12

            You can’t just take the manhwa and make an drama out of it without an writer.

            The writer (in this case Yoo Hyun-Mi) is supposed to adapt the manhwa to television and make an fitting script out of it. You can argue that the adaptation shouldn’t go too far of the source, but cutting some story lines and expanding others is pretty expected.

            Yoo Hyun Mi could have just cut out the one of the circles with Mok Dam and her father and could have expanded the comfort woman storyline. There just seems little effort put into adapting the manhwa, an better writer would have put a lot more of his own creativity in it.

            The characters could have also undergone a more slow development regarding that life changing event in episode 6. The roles were pretty much switched right after that. It is a little unbelievable how fast Shunji goes from gentle school teacher to a raging monster in just an episode.

            The thing that has also bothered me was that there was no ideology or politics in it. It would have made these people a lot more human if there were some sort of split between the people fighting the Japanese and some sort of discussions what happens after the liberation. Also the whole cultural identity crisis thing going on could have been a lot more developed and more in the foreground.

            It is not like the drama lacked any time, if the writer would have been more into the developing of the world and the people living in it, the story wouldn’t have needed to go into circles.

            The manhwa and the period have a lot more potential than the drama let’s one and that potential could have been put into the screenplay without offending any fans of the manhwa.

             (0)


          • 101.1.3.2.2 pogo

            @hanni – I agree with you, which is why you have decently-adapted manhwas (Goong suffered from a little bloat, but on the whole the TV writers improved the characters vastly) as well as badly-adapted ones (Boys Before Flowers, To The Beautiful You etc).

            Things shouldn’t be too literal between the page and screen, and I feel like it could have been better though I’m not complaining since it’s already very good.

             (0)


          • 101.1.3.2.3 Meeyeong

            Heo Young-Man’s Gaksital is no shounen.

             (0)


    • 101.2 dcmbr

      Everyone has different opinions when it comes to dramas, but so far for me Gaksital is an amazing and definitely unforgettable drama! I still have 8 episode to go and I don’t know if I want it to end. I usually cringed at dramas that have more than 20 episodes, but at this point in the drama I am anxious that it is coming to an end.

       (0)


  2. 102 kopytko

    Huh. Must be the Editors and me look for different qualities in dramas. I started Gaksital but never got further than to the 2nd episode. I never felt like even starting Answer me – I assumed it would be a fail if I cannot understand the pop-cultural references anyway.

    I want warmth and laughter. I got that from Padam Padam, History of a Salatyman, A Gentleman’s Dignity, King of Dramas and many others never mentioned in this review. Maybe they are too average to be honoured? I can live with that as along as they are nice to watch.

    However I agree about Jung Ryeo Won – she is the revelation of 2012 for me. Hands down.

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  3. 103 pogo

    I’m happy that Arang and the Magistrate got a mention, even if it is sadly underrated – when a drama breaks the 400-comment barrier on here a clear two episodes before its finale, you know it’s got to be something special (or specially hateable – thankfully, Arang is the former!)

    Also, Lee Jun-ki and Shin Mina are hands down my favourite couple of the year, even if the writers chose to keep their romance on a simmer and let other elements balance out the story – which was done so well, I didn’t really mind – that stuff was awesome and interesting, even if the threat of a lack of happy ending did have commenters on the Arang recaps threatening the life of Yoo Seung-ho’s goat.

    The ONE flaw I can find is that the camera work became a lot less ‘pretty’ as time went on and they got into live shooting mode, but it’s pretty negligible (and now I really want some fanfic for the show. Don’t care what it’s about – the goat, our OTP, some rogue reapers, but I WANT IT RIGHT NOW, no drama that’s come after has quite filled the Arang-shaped hole in my heart).

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  4. 104 dany

    I totally agree with Gaksital getting so much recognition, it was the best drama of the year.
    You deserve an award for the most/least acting category! :D

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  5. 105 red

    Thank You so much for a wonderful year of recaps, spent more time reading recaps than watching dramas this year so I am doubly grateful.

    Of the dramas I did watch, Gakistal and answer me 1997 were the ones that still linger with me.

    And yay for Gaskistal’s winnings, I couldn’t agree more.

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  6. 106 observantzani

    My favorite portion of the reviews. I agree with almost all the results except for underrated drama. I think What’s Up deserved it more. Only kaedejun had it in her review. It’s as good as Shut Up: Flower Boy Band and Answer Me 1997 but no one is talking about it at all.

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  7. 107 jedi

    Why Ghost not mentioned at all? It’s really good drama, the casts, writing and directing.

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  8. 108 mskololia

    Nice read. Thanks everyone!

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  9. 109 kfangurl

    Thank you! For a great read that is funny, witty yet insightful! Kudos! :D

    Also, had to laugh out loud at the most acting & least acting awards!! The pic of SSH was priceless! XD

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  10. 110 omonathania

    Wow, i like this recap, really. Hehe.
    Glad you mentioned Nice Guy :D I love that drama. The casts, soundtracks, and the story. Honestly, i love the ambiguity of it, it makes me wondering whats happen there. And, maybe you should put joongki-chaewon at best couple’s honorable mention mihihi :D bcos i think they have simply amazing chemistry :3
    Overall, this is a greaaaat recap to read :333

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  11. 111 rheina07

    GAKSITAL FTW !!!!!!!!

    That’s the moment when I fall in love with Joo Won <3

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  12. 112 boholAnna

    Thank you to all of you! I’ve been watching dramas for years but it’s only this year that I’ve started reading the recaps on this website and joining in the discussions. It has added a whole new dimension to the experience and has made it more enjoyable for me.

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  13. 113 John

    Jung Eun- Ji !!!

     (0)


    • 113.1 John

      Jung Ryu Won !

      Not to forget her. While I enjoyed Salaryman, her real gem is King of Dramas. When I see her smile, it’s like sunshine.

       (0)


  14. 114 Mar

    Thanks so much for all you do.

    For me, Answer Me 1997 just stood out from all the others. It was consistently good and left me satisfied. I can remember somehow stumbling across the first episode and wow, just delightful. I loved this show even though I was out of the loop on the inside jokes. You didn’t have to be a 90′s k pop fan-we can all access our inner fan gurl. We’ve all had the teen angst and one sided crushes etc, crazy friends and relatives, etc. Thanks Javabeans for creating and providing a forum that helped me fill in holes of ignorance on some of the 90′s references.

    It is nice to see Padam Padam getting mentioned alot. It deserved a lot more attention. Just a lovely lovely show, and I don’t normally do melos, but it’s on my favorites list.

    And big appreciation for the nod to Kim Bum’s mane of glory. I’ll take any kind of nod at that guy, he’s just friggin adorable and overlooked in drama land.

    Queen Inhyun’s Man. I agree wholeheartedly on the general consensus that this is possibly the best couple chemistry ever, the relationship delightfully teasing yet frank in it’s honest put it out there approach to the attraction between the characters. And the male lead character just so freaking smart which made him more hot, because to me smart is so friggin sexy. It’s not on my favorites list, but it is on my good show/recommendation list simple because of the couple. If I am honest, the secondary characters were filler, the political intrigue was filler. Thinking back I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about anything in the movie besides the scenes with the leads. I realized I probably multi tasked through the other scenes other than Bong do being extremely clever, because I just did not care about watching anything but the couple.

    Probably pissed forever over the huge fail of Big and utterly confused how production and direction totally fucked up the potential awesome of Faith. Boo. You guys suck. Go stand in the corner and think about what you’ve done. Forever.

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  15. 115 Bambiina

    GAKSITAL????….. I can only watch one time and that’s it…. It didn’t stay in my mind.. Except the word GAKSITAL. Joo Won acting was close to SSH style… Over is more.. Ie close to most acting and we see a lot of this type of drama… Revenge etc etc…. First love from young to adult etc etc… Two frens fighting over same girl. You see this everyday. Nothing new except for the setup.

    My pick would be QIHM (new and refresh ideas)…. Kang Bong Do is awesome… I have never encounter such character before.. Totally new … Leave me breathless and want more…

    Next would be Answer me 1997…. And Tree with deep root. I love the King and his plight to educate his ppl. His dedication touched my heart. This is the only drama with less romance that I love so much.

    TK2H is unbelievable… The plot is just too BIG to absorb… to a point it became a little ridiculous. The heroic attempt by Ha Ji Won to safe the King is a little too much to accept. The whole setup look fake, the whole cast especially the chocolate girl looked fake.. Their acting kinda force… It’s difficult for me to accept that one corporation would have big influence on The United States of America… It’s THE USA…. for heaven sake. But the thing that make me stick with it is the princess and the no nonsense bodyguard …. I am smitten by the two of them… and when they kill my fav character.. Find there’s no reason to watch… BTW this is just my opinion… Which doesn’t mean a thing so TK2H fans don’t get upset for nothing… And sorry for my crappy English… I slept a lot during my english class…

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    • 115.1 lili

      “Joo Won acting was close to SSH style”

      Are you kidding me here?
      Comparing Joo Won’s acting to Song Seung Hun’s acting is lika an insult. It’s like saying Chuck Norris is on a par with Marlon Brando/Al Pacino/Robert De Niro (take your pick)…just laughable.

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      • 115.1.1 Annie

        I’m serious. He’s a terrible actor. And his character arc was soooooooo not as great as reviewers have made it out to be. It had potential, but the execution was poor.

         (0)


        • 115.1.1.1 lili

          Let’s agree to disagree…His acting moved me during Gaksital and believe me, I’m not easily affected by a performance. Oh well, different strokes for different folks I guess…

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      • 115.1.2 dcmbr

        “Joo Won acting was close to SSH style”

        this comment had me literally LOL! I have seen a good share of SSH’s drama and movies and only one drama of Joo Won’s and I can confidently say that Joo Won’s acting is by far much more superior than SSH. After attempting to finish Dr. Jin, I gave up and watched his remake of Ghost. Oh gosh such a horrible movie and dull acting and no emotions whatsoever. On the contrary, Joo won in Gaksital still stuck with me, his acting, character, and emotions! His character was very complex and he portrayed it beautifully! And don’t forget he was shooting Gaksital while shooting 1N2D. I applaud the amazing work balance!

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    • 115.2 missjb

      I agree about some of your post, especially the acting.

       (0)


  16. 116 ladysarahii

    Love that Gaksital got so many shout-outs here!

    I think I might need to watch Answer Me 1997. I was hesitant, since I was not following K-pop then and felt I wouldn’t get the inside jokes, but I was such a teeny-bopper in 97 I still might get some amusement out of it. Haha.

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    • 116.1 starrs

      You totally should! I really only learned about k-pop this year (watched my first k-drama late last year) but AM1997 really reminded me of boyband fandoms in the US. I wasn’t as crazy as Shiwon back then but everything just FELT SO RIGHT. I didn’t get the Korean culture references, but in a way, I still just understood the feeling.

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  17. 117 Addylovesbwood

    Thank you dramabeans for all your hard work and for creating a community I share my obsession with.

    As for the awards, I already gave Bridal Mask – Best Actor, Best Villian and Best Drama of the year in my Mid-Year review blog. So I’m not surprised DB did the same.

    Just a couple tweaks here and there…
    Best couple: Ha Ji Won and Lee Seung Gi (…. my two favorite actors in drama??yess, I choose to walk in the path of biasness…)

    I do agree Ji HyunWoo and Yoo Inna had amazing chemistry.
    I remember, after watching Queen In Hyun’s man, I said to myself… I won’t be surprised if these two r dating in real life… that was how real their chemistry was…. a couple weeks later, I found out they were a real couple!

    I’m shocked Faith was honorably mentioned as biggest disappointment…. **ahh I have to agree** I take back what I said about dramabeans being Lee Min Ho biased. **hugs**

    Yoochun doesn’t deserve to be alone in that shameless category. No Min Woo should be right up there with him!!

    I had a fantastic year with you guys!! You’ve made my drama obsession even worse. lol

    Enjoy your holidays and we shall meet again in 2013!!

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  18. 118 Bambiina

    *Kim Boong Do

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  19. 119 Melmax

    Awesome!!! Awesome!!! You guys just add so much fun to Kdramaland with your wit, wisdom…. Love categories including most acting…. glorious mane… You bring laughter after a loooong night at work…. Thanks to you all and the fans who make this site just sizzle…. Khamawo…

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  20. 120 mel

    Kim Boong-do <3
    Best Bromance <3

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  21. 121 hippyninja27

    I remember watching 1N2D when Gaksital was airing and difference between Joo Won in real life and Lee Kang-to always made me laugh

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  22. 122 lizzie

    TBH The main from Gaksital should have a honorable mention on the ‘least acting’

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  23. 123 lemonade candy

    Gaksitaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal

    wins!

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  24. 124 Elizabeth

    actually I am quite disapointed that dramabeans did not bother to write anything about the horse doctor which leads in ratings in its time slot. I mean even a recap of few eps so that we know what it is about??

     (0)


    • 124.1 Kiara

      Its a very long sageuk. Dramabeans has never done recaps for dramas that long and I dont blame them. Go to hulu and watc h it there with English subs.

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  25. 125 Betsy Hp

    Yay and thanks! For the Editor Picks list and all your recapping this year. And I shed a single, solitary tear because usually I use this list as a drama-rec… but I’ve seen them all! I guess I’m growing up (per k-drama land).

    My top three dramas were Queen InHyun’s Man, Shut Up Flower Boy Band, and Answer Me 1997… but I can totally see why Gaksital made the final cut. The emotions it raised… plus it’s an epic hero vs. villain and those don’t come along all that often.

    And if I had a wish it’d be to be a fly on the wall while you all discussed this list. Dramatic and hilarious I’m betting!

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  26. 126 Miica

    Love Jung Ryeo Won! She’s my new favorite and I’m glad she’s being appreciated ;)

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  27. 127 sleuthme

    LOL at Most Acting.

    Hooray for Gaksital! Although, for me, Park Ki-woong was not a supporting actor. He was also the main lead with Joo-won. Both had the same intensity of characters, the amount of exposure was almost the same, Joo-won had it more in the first episodes though.

    Great picks! :D

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  28. 128 missjb

    most acting should goes to almost all gaksital baddie member. LOL

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  29. 129 Rie

    I really really love Gaksital so I’m very happy with your choices :)
    Thanks Dramabeans team for all the great recaps, reviews, articles :)

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  30. 130 missjb

    this year, I mostly disagreed about some of the choice. particularly for acting departement and best drama. the best acting must consider nuance, subtlety, without going overboard or cross the line. As mush as I love park ki woong, I wish he woukd turn down his overacting in most dramatic scene, make it more relax, etc. He actually understand his character. But that OTT acting has to go and he will definitely can do a better job.. And about Jo WOON, SORRY. I couldn’t connected with Kang To’s journey and his emotional turmoil mostly because his OTT acting and underacting that has no depth at all. he has his moment, like when KT eat potatoes and cried remember his family. but it just few.

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  31. 131 manassuper

    THANX TO DRAMABEANS FOR BEAUTIFUL PENWORK…ENJOYED READING YOUR RECAPS AND YEAR END REVIEWS ARTICLES THAT SO BEAUTIFULLY PENNED THROUGHOUT 2012…HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU DB!ANTICIPATING YOUR BEAUTIFULLY PENNED RECAPS AND REFRESHING NEWS IN YEAR AHEAD(2014)…. MY HEARTIEST CONGRATULATION TO DB TEAM!

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  32. 132 Steph

    Most underrated drama should be can we get married? It’s good.

     (0)


    • 132.1 Lilian

      Ooh yes! That too…I didn’t even know it was coming out till a friend asked me what I thought about the drama!

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  33. 133 Mira

    I also think that lee kang to is the best character !!!
    Bravo joo won for this performance <3
    And thanks a lot dramabeans !!!

    There is recently an interview of the gaksital director (yoon seong sik) praising joo won, and saying that he would like to work with him again in the future !!! Yeah i would really love to see that :)

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  34. 134 Peridot

    I agree with a lot of these selections. I want to thank all the dramabeans-recappers for their hard work, dedication, and wittiness! Let’s hope that the new year will give us plenty of good dramas and fewer disappointments (we can dream, can’t we?)

    Gaksital and Arang were two of my favorite dramas for 2012. I truly feel that the Moon Embracing the Sun was one of the most overrated dramas. It had a lot of potential but wasted it. Half the time, I wondered what Jung Il Woo’s role was in that drama. His character’s potential, in addition to characters of many of the other actors on that show, was not put to good use (to phrase things mildly). The characters seemed to exist merely to bring the two leads together and die in the process.

    Kudos to Park Gi Woong! I just love him! He is an actor who utilizes every facial muscle (even the ones I didn’t know we had lol!) to express the inner depths of his characters’ emotions. I hope that more people recognize his talents and that he can continue to get more challenging roles. He may not yet get leading roles in dramas but I would rather he take on complex and challenging roles than conventional, leading-man roles.

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  35. 135 malta

    Be done 2012! 6 reviews and the Beanies! I’m tired and all I did was read. Lol.

    Ready for 2013! Bring it on.

    Happy New Year everyone :D

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  36. 136 LL

    Can we get a category for female friendship next year? I know there aren’t nearly as many of those as bromances, but for the sake of equality! One-dimensional evil female second leads seem to be on the down trend lately (fingers crossed) so maybe we have more female friendships to look forward to!

     (0)


    • 136.1 canxi

      I would really love a nice womance, also! Women can be friends too, dammit!

       (0)


      • 136.1.1 Lilian

        haha…true ! if there was a female award, for 2012 it would go to I need a Romance 2012…at the top of my head, I can;t really think of another group of females. haha..

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  37. 137 canxi

    Park Ki Woong and Jung Ryeo Won are definitely my favorites for this year. My sweet babies, I love the both of them to bits and bleeping pieces!!!!

    Also, I have a clay mask on my face right now. It was the only thing stopping me from BUSTING out laughing at the last one! OMG. Easiest acting gig ever.

    Loved all of the love for Padam Padam, will 5ever be a favorite for sure. It’s still stuck in my mind & heart. And was pretty much the first melodrama to actually make me cry instead of roll my eyes.

    And Lee Je Hoon! Please do another drama! Pleeaaaase. Don’t be afraid and show us how it is done. Though I really did say he did bring depth to that character in Fashion King. Depth that was just not there at all. At. All.

    Thanks for the year of entertainment, DB Editors. Huggles & Happy Holidays to you all. May you have sweet dreams filled with your half naked oppas!

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  38. 138 Mexxdbest

    Is it me or this year in review plenty funny hahahaha! The sleeping beauty with a paycheck crack me so much! I loved how a lot of my wanted mentions happened to be there!

    Best Bromance
    Best Couple
    Totally Agree!
    Most Acting that is actually Overacting

    Overall I feel like every review I read I get more interested and eager to watch Gakistal and Answer Me 1997 (however this one, I still don’t know where to watch)

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  39. 139 missaisohee

    i’ve been waiting for this the whole year,
    and : GAKSITAAAAAAAAL !

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  40. 140 ilikemangos

    Every year it seems as though DB’s favorite show of the year sweeps the editor picks year-in-review with basically all the categories, lol.
    Last year it was City Hunter.

     (0)


    • 140.1 canxi

      This is true. I imagine it’s the dramas that they all love rather than a favorite for an individual, so they must pick from a group and decide which one they raved about most,lol.

      I was not a City Hunter fan at all, but I can see why Gaksital won this year. If anything I loved it for showing off Park Ki Woong’s talent because that’s one role that’s still fresh in my mind. Though I have my complaints about it too–one being the emptiness of Mok Dan (she had a meaning/was symbolism but she had no personality or character).

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  41. 141 DS

    Haha the last few picks cracked me up xD But couldn’t agree more~ I love how Gaksital is in most of these because its so true that this drama wooped everything else. I never watched K2H but I’ll watch it once I get bored. Lol the Dr.Jin for Most Memorable~ it was weird and disappointing sadly.

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  42. 142 Onees

    Luff…Luff..Lufff…Lmao

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..zzzzzzzzzzzz………zzzzzzzzzz…..

    zzzzzzzzzzz……paycheck please…..zzzzzzzzz…….

    Lmao…………..

     (0)


  43. 143 Joyce

    GAKSITAAAAAAAAL!

    THE CREAM OF THE CROP, HANDS DOWN.

    Gaksital will sweep all the drama awards there are this year or someone will feel my wrath /cracks knuckles menacingly/ ◕‿◕

    - insert Shunji’s maniacal laughter here -

    No, seriously. Standing ovation for the cast of Gaksital, the directors, the script-writers, and every single person who has made Gaksital the heartwrenching, tearjerking, smile-evoking, thought-provoking, sanity-questioning etc etc etc drama it is ;A;

    I love you all. Bless.

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  44. 144 Nikilann

    Last year, I couldn’t agree with the editors’ pick in every category. This year, I damn do =D

    Especially concerning the last one ^^
    No seriously, thanks for the laugh. Delightful review !! Seriously, 2012 was a great year for Dramaland !

     (0)


  45. 145 skinnymocha

    Haha, that picture of Song Seung-heon… Looks like a Nick Park creation. He’d fit right in with Wallace & Gromit.

     (0)


  46. 146 eternalfive

    HAHAHA the Least Acting Winner! XD Well-deserved. Hmm, and it seems like Gaksital is this year’s City Hunter.

     (0)


  47. 147 Viki

    Lol @ the last award.

     (0)


  48. 148 John

    I tried watching Gaksital. It was supposed to be set in the 1930′s and they featured a 1950 Cadillac. I stopped watching it then and there. A mere 20 seconds in to the show.

    WTH is this, Back to the Future? Sorry, fail. I was expecting to see Marty McFly to make an appearance.

    The 1950 Cadillac is a beautiful machine though. I’ll give them the award of the best use of a retro/futuristic automobile.

     (0)


    • 148.1 canxi

      WOW, really? Good thing I no nothing about cars. That would have pissed me off for sure,lol. I already roll my eyes/get annoyed at continuity errors so I can just imagine myself LOL.

       (0)


  49. 149 porcelain

    I realize I did watch quite a few drama this year.

    Thank you JB and team…

    The selection is kept pretty tight, suprise that many dramas were not included… well guess its editor’s pick after all…

    I always look forward to this for best mane of glory lol…

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  50. 150 george

    Thank you Dramabeans.It hasn’t been that long since i discovered about your blog but it’s already a big part of my life now.I can’t thank you enough for that.

    Happy New Year to all and looking forward to what 2013 will bring!!

     (0)


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