Drama Reactions & Reviews
A Variety of Flavors in 2012 [Year In Review, Part 3]
by | December 15, 2012 | 133 Comments

Looking at the buffet table of 2012, I’m left in awe at the vast array of possible selections before me. The sheer number of choices is growing every year and I feel like I have to taste-test the premiere and make a quick decision of whether to keep digging in or move on. Sometimes you don’t just know for sure until you’re left with the aftertaste.

And because some dramas that fall within the same genre can have unique flavors, I’m using a Taste O’Meter to assess this year’s dramas. Was it sweet, sour, bitter, salty, or savory? Maybe more than one?

Like any “Thanks to…” in a good Kpop album: My unending thanks to javabeans and girlfriday for the opportunity to let me write about what I love; to HeadsNo2 for the squee-fests and love of makgulli; to kaedejun for the laughs, hugs, and love of Oppa; and last but not least, to YOU GUYS for being awesome readers. I put in a good word for y’all with Santa but he may have used my note as a coaster instead. Or a tissue.

The series below include the ones seen in its entirety, listed chronologically(ish):

SONG OF THE DAY

Shut Up Flower Boy Band OST – Sung Joon/Eye Candy - “Wake Up” Download ]

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Shut Up: Flower Boy Band

Be still, my beating heart. What a rockin’ way to start off the year. This drama remains on the top of my re-watch list and I find myself playing the OST to get me going in the morning.

Prior to watching the premiere, the words ‘flower boys’ and ‘rock’ in one sentence didn’t equate in my head and I expected a saturated, fun show like its predecessor, Flower Boy Ramyun Shop. So I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a tightly-written story of a ragtag group of teenage boys driven by a raw passion to make their mark on the world. Their cheers felt like a harmonious major chord, their tears like a minor chord that strikes you in the heart. I was reminded of what it was like to be young, misunderstood, and having your dreams being laughed at by the rest of the world.

This was the drama where I finally took notice of Sung Joon (I refuse to believe that he was previously in Lie to Me) but it was L (Kim Myung-soo)’s character, Hyun-soo, I fell in love with. His loyalty to the boys, his struggle with feeling like second fiddle to the larger-than-life character Byung-hee (Lee Min-ki) is something that grips the strings of my soul better than a cabo.

Every episode left me wanting just a little more and this journey through a chapter of adolescence to discover who you are no matter what the world hurls your way isn’t a score easily forgotten. So twirl those drumsticks, add another guitar riff, sing into those mics. We’re ready for your encore.

Tastes like…: Pop Rocks. A treat for the eyes and a sweet explosion in your mouth.

 

Operation Proposal

Operation Proposal kicked off one of the drama trends in 2012: time-travel. Though the time-travel gimmick was formulaic, the show asked an overarching question: What if you got a second chance at your first love? Or a third chance? Or a fifteenth chance?

And so in the beginning, we were rooting for Baek-ho (Yoo Seung-ho), our hero, because he’s the guy next door who thought he was friendzoned ten years ago and just missed his chance with the girl of his dreams. That is, until you realize that he had plenty of chances (thanks to his constant voiceover) but still managed to muck it up anyway. Even when he gave his Baekpercent, he realized that winning someone’s heart is harder than pitching a fastball. I applaud Yoo Seung-ho for breathing life into the hero and his fantastic portrayal of Baek-ho’s vulnerabilities (and kisses) kept his journey from venturing too far into wimpy protagonist territory. Though if I find a Jin-won (Lee Hyun-jin) in my lifetime, I’d choose him any day.

Remakes can be a hit or miss and the Japanese original (Proposal Daisakusen) holds a special place in my heart. This show did a fine job of holding its own ground. On a technical level, the cinematography was beautiful and the series held such sweet moments in the character interactions. I loved that our side characters were integral cogs in the main storyline and had their own character journeys as well. So when Baek-ho’s actions tweaked his relationship with Yi-seul (Park Eun-bin), we also saw the butterfly effect in subsequent alternative realities, for better or for worse.

But most of all, what got me in the gut was the lifelong friendship in our main cast. They constantly challenged and encouraged each other to become better versions of themselves, even without  the use of “Renovatio!” to spur the change. It may not have always been peachy, but true friendship is golden.

Tastes like…: The moment you realize you sent the same dish back to the kitchen 16 times.

 

The King 2 Hearts

I distinctly remember that I fell behind on this show about four episodes into its run. And then I marathoned six episodes in a row to catch up. And boy was it worth it.

Initially I tuned in for Lee Seung-gi since I always found him as a fine actor. I wondered if his role as a royal would prove to be a challenge but I loved his watching him start out as a petty, immature man-child to become a respectable (and brainy!) leader of his nation. Ha Ji-won is one of my favorite heroines of the year and it was so refreshing to see a woman with sass and just so badass. Give this woman her own nation to rule and she’ll do just fine, ‘s all I’m sayin’.

Their relationship rocked this pseudoworld between war and peace in every turn and I loved what their pairing meant not only between themselves but for the world at large. While I was with the characters in the highs and lows, I had a tough time with the age gap between our two actors. It’s a minor point in the overall scheme of the show, and at the end of the day, a number.

North-South relations is already a sensitive topic, but I was impressed that the drama didn’t skirt the tension between the two nations but rather used it to drive the plot and characters to new extremes, even if I nearly suffered through a few heart attacks along the way. Viewers should take this drama’s perspective with a grain of salt because history and politics will be painted in a subjective light.

Bong-gu (Yoon Je-moon) was a fantastic maniacal villain and a great foil for our protagonists. He legitimately scared me in some moments and his interactions with the pillar of loyalty, Earnest Bot aka Jo Jung-seok chilled me to the bone. So it’s a good thing that the bromance between the bodyguard and his king, the romance with his princess, and his straightforwardness is what makes him so darned lovable and the king of my heart.

Tastes…: Royally elegant, but watch out for the rotten cookies.

 

Marriage Plot

The premise: a Korean mother who runs a boardinghouse and tries to marry off her four daughters. Naturally that would means that we would get cohabitation hijinks galore, right?

Not in this kimchi vat. Instead, the focus shone on a simple corporate conflict tied to the Past to justify the present. Yet despite our initial expectations, the series turned out to be funny, heartwarming, and reflective, raising some interesting metaphorical questions on life, love, and family.

Mom (Cha Hwa-yeon) was usually the one asking these questions, describing her boarders as kimchi who will grow ripe for harvest. The relationship with her daughters turned out to be an essential lesson in this series, teaching them that family transcends blood relations. Though I loved the dichotomy of traditional vs. corporate kimchi, the answer to this conflict made me groan rather than feel satisfied.

Thankfully the sizzling chemistry in our leading couple covered some of the show’s flaws, mostly thanks to Lee Kyu-han who is finally out of second-lead drama territory. *knocks on wood* It took some time for the viewers to embrace Kang Hye-jung‘s character but you can’t help but love her once she comes around. The story on the other hand, meandered in its middle stretch and circled around the same conflict you already know the answer to.

The characters are likeable enough and one may find it an easy, breezy watch for a romantic comedy. It’s a metaphorical wonderland for kimchi, but I’d skip this drama if you’re expecting any marriage plotting to be had.

Tastes like…: Unripened kimchi. A bit bland but makes you think of what ingredients to add to the batch.

 

Queen In-hyun’s Man

If you felt that Operation Proposal got too many wasted chances, then Queen In-hyun’s Man made our couple work to travel across three centuries. Boasting a strong narrative, it struck me as a modern storybook romance that swept me right off of my feet.

Kim Boong-do (Ji Hyun-woo) wins in my book (hur) as the Most Resourceful Time Traveler award this year. You see the discombobulated-OMG-where-am-I type so often in so many shows that his calm and collected personality was a breath of fresh air. An entirely different era didn’t ruffle his feathers and his curiosity to learn the ways of society was just plain adorable. And then he and Yoon Inna were even more adorable together, if that’s altogether possible.

Each episode was more addicting than the one that preceded it, and the clear indication that love is a choice felt more real (as real as fiction can be) in a land where love is otherwise dictated by fate and destiny.

There’s a certain magic that holds this show together and I don’t need a time-travel gimmick to feel that connection.

Tastes like…: Dippin’ Dots. Unique, futuristic, fantastic, and just plain fun.

 

Gaksital

Gaksitaaaaal!! By far, one of the most memorable dramas for me this year. This comic book-esque historical action series kicked my summer into high gear from the premiere. Heart-wrenching and heart-pounding, I can still feel the pangs in the distance.

This show nearly got everything right – from the origin story to its rocking pacing to characters you actually laughed, screamed, and cried with. Sure I questioned Kang-to’s perfect coiffe, the multiple identities, or how Angel Club seemed eerily close to the police station. But all of those paled in comparison to the larger story at hand.

A perfect example of intentional storytelling, the directing took us from scene to scene in a fluid motion as if we were seeing frames from a comic book played out before our eyes. And even though this show fell victim to the live shoot system like so many shows before it, you would have never known given its execution. If ever there was an ending that wanted me to pump my fists into the air, it was this one.

1930s Korea isn’t the easiest waters to tread, but I loved that it dared to shine a spotlight on some of the darkest moments in history. Swinging us back and forth through the deepest and most intense of emotions like a pendulum, you saw the upswing in Joo Won‘s performance and how it affects Park Ki-woong (Shunji)’s resolve to the very core.

Listening to the OST still grips me to this day and if I ever have to see a box of nails in my life again, it’ll be too soon.

Tastes like…: A black and white cookie you have no idea which side to bite into first.

 

I Do, I Do

By the time I Do, I Do stepped in, I was ready for a refreshingly light-hearted summer romantic comedy. Gorgeous shoes a plus, of course.

We got just that: a sweet, bumbling workplace romance between a driven careerwoman and idealistic and innocent hero. Though the icy outer shell of our heroine left us with a question mark in the earlier half of the drama, Kim Sun-ah reminded us why we love her in the first place by shining in moments of complete vulnerability. Pair that with an earnest and warm Lee Jang-woo in search of his own niche and you have a simply electrifying onscreen couple.

Moreso than that, I was invested to see how a sudden pregnancy from a one-night stand and the daunting notion of motherhood would affect a single woman in her thirties. So I was impressed when hush-hush issues of pregnancy and motherhood were breached (e.g. abortion) but they were subsequently dropped as the drama progressed. These particular episodes were when the numbers started to climb and in retrospect, such a shame since this series was so understated compared to its competitors (Gaksital, Dr. Jin).

The show itself was mostly absent of any major opposition and some characters defied any reasonable medical and personal boundaries (Here’s lookin’ at you, Dr. Without Borders). In terms of plot development, I felt like I was tapping my foot for the majority of its run, waiting patiently (Okay, not so patiently at times) for the payoff that seemed like would never come. When it did, I was grateful but still frustrated knowing the drama’s potential if it delivered sooner rather than later.

What I appreciated though, was that the series took its own spin on the classic romantic comedy dilemma: Do you choose love or career? If the ending is any indication, maybe you can chase after both without breaking a heel.

Tastes like…: A slow-roasted bun in the oven.

 

Big

Big anticipation, Big expectations, Big …disappointment. It’s like a logic defying drama recipe. You take a pair of Hong Sisters, add a serving of Gong Yoo, mix in a dash of whimsical with a sprinkle of mystical. Failproof, right?

[Possible Spoilers Ahead. You've been warned.]

The show struck a different tone than the Hong Sisters’ previous works, dialing down the zany but still humorful and thought-provoking. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t appreciate the shameless chocolate abs display in Episode 2, but I was hooked because I was promised body-swapping. So I was willing to wait a few episodes and charmed by how the story kept luring me in, even subverting my expectations early in its run.

And deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole we went, as the drama played with our hearts between Team Kyung-joon and Team Yoon-jae. I was even impressed when the savior sibling twist came to the foreground (when a child is born to be a possible organ donor match) ’cause that’s just rich with conflict.

My expectations were raised higher now. Surely Shin Won-ho (or WonderHo as I like to call him) can’t stay asleep for that long, right? I fed on every glimpse of him, ready for the answer to that burning question, “Who is Yoon-jae?”

When all was said and done, my question was never answered and I never saw WonderHo again. And I still don’t know who Yoon-jae is. So after much gnashing of teeth and a plethora of cursory remarks that boiled down to WTF, I chalked this drama as my biggest disappointment of the year. Even a miracle wasn’t enough to save this sinking ship.

In the words of Kang Kyung-joon: “Uh-oh.”

Tastes like…: Melted chocolate you forgot in your glove compartment on a hot summer’s day.

 

Answer Me, 1997

Now I’ve realized I’ve watched a lot of tvN this year. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing but it does say something about the relationship between the level of quality from this cable network and my level of interest. And I’m not that good at math, so let’s call it a direct relationship.

This show was a stroll down memory lane for me: the static noise of dial-up, the H.O.T. obsession, the realm of internet fanfiction. These pieces of nostalgic references were little drops of fangirl heaven compared to the rest of the drama’s charm. I loved that we were transported to someplace outside of Seoul (for once), and Jung Eun-ji is as winning as they come. It even took me a few episodes to realize that we were watching a band of newbie actors because they fit their character molds so naturally.

It was Answer Me‘s droll, witty humor that pulled me into its unconventional storytelling of six friends who transitioned from their awkward teenage years to… their awkward adult years. The heartfelt relationships came in all forms through family, love, friendship, and kindness. I mean, what better way is there to mend a relationship than seeing your best friend sport the same hideous ‘do? *tear*

Overall, I felt assured at the story’s pace at the viewer, though sadly,the drama’s own awareness of its success did the plot no favors (Think of that hot boy-next-door who realized that he can become a model.). But even then, I held on tight to those golden nuggets of nostalgia. One thing’s for sure – Tuesdays will just never be the same.

Tastes like…: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Smooth, a little nutty, and a yummy throwback to childhood.

 

To the Beautiful You

To the Beautiful You OST – J-Min  – ”일어나” (Stand Up) [ Download ]

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Hi. My name is gummi and I’m a die-hard Kpop-aholic. When I heard the first whispers of this classic Hanazakari no Kimitachi e remake produced by SM Entertainment and saw the promotional teasers, I was totally on board. I had enough faith in the premise and sincerely hoped that this could be an idol launching pad like Dream High that I was willing to turn a blind eye to its possible flaws.

So what could have been a cute Disney Channel-esque show that caters to a young audience sadly turned out to be an illogical loosely-strung story of a girl who flew halfway around the world to an all-boys high school to spur her idol to high jump again. Why? No one knows from this side of the television screen.

Without a character motivation, Jae-hee takes the cake as the densest, most infuriating heroine of the year. As a viewer, we want to cheer, laugh, and cry with you as you chase after your dreams. But if we don’t know what those are then how can we root for you?

To the show’s credit, the cinematography is gorgeous and the lavish dorm rooms makes you wish you went to Genie High. You can call this series a delightful treat for the eyes even before you got to the idols. But all of those pieces still weren’t enough to salvage the directing that stretched you from one extreme to the other or an internal logic that failed at even supporting its own inconsistencies. Though the show successfully delivered the source material to appeal to the purist of manga fans, the production missed an opportunity to take creative liberty and build upon that success to attract a larger populace.

Unable to handle the ensemble we were initially introduced to, supporting characters were swung in and out like a revolving door when the occasion called for it. The biggest travesty of all was that the show wasted the acting chops of two powerhouses, Lee Hyun-woo and Seo Joon-young, and we were given snippets of the range we might have seen in their previous projects.

The adorable romance in To the Beautiful You managed to buoy me through the serious notes of the series and Minho‘s smile has won countless hearts of noona fans everywhere.

Tastes like…: A delicious-looking s’more but a cardboard imitation at best.

 

Arang and the Magistrate

Bellowing Arraaanngg!! doesn’t quite carry that same gravitas as say, Gaksital, but the earnestness of this fantasy fusion-sageuk reminded me of folklore I heard as a child. Establishing a world can be a tall task in dramaland, but Arang took that a step further and built a universe that was both mystifying and mystical.

With ghosts, reapers, fairies, and goats running around, the possibilities of mythological creatures were endless and you wondered what can’t exist rather than what can. I mean, what’s more fun than a playboy Jade Emperor and a crankypants Hades bicker about the rules of the universe?

Where this show excelled was at slowly unraveling the mystery that surrounded this enriched fantasy realm, teasing the strands bit by bit; sometimes subverting our initial hypotheses, sometimes rewarding us for using our noggin’. But even if we chose not to make guesses, the writers handled the story with delicate hands so that we never felt like we fell behind at any point.

The undercurrent of character emotions was an added plus I didn’t expect. They tugged at your heartstrings at just the right moments and reminded you that not everything is what it seems. If only the show wasn’t so dark (as in, I can’t see you Lee Jun-ki) but that minor complaint doesn’t detract much from the whimsical that made this show a pure delight to watch from start to finish.

Tastes like…: Ghouly and eerie, kind of reminds you of liver. Wait, that’s not right.

 

Vampire Prosecutor 2

After a fantastic, jaw-dropping first season of Vampire Prosecutor, I was fully ready to embrace what was sure to be a heart-stopping, slick second season. As if I would turn down a chance to stare at Yeon Jung-hoon for twelve hours.

The intensity of the premiere sure stopped my heart all right. And though I was happy to see the ol’ gang back together again with our ageless vamp prosecutor-detective at the helm, I looked forward to getting some answers from the previous season. Because what’s the point of another season unless you intend to give us more clues, right?

The episodes were slicker, grittier, and darker than last season and yet, it still felt a bit lackluster. It took a while for me to become invested in the overarching storyline that supposedly tied this world together and I asked myself, “Wait, who turned who? And wait, who are you supposed to be?” With all these clues piling on top of each other without much of a payoff, it felt like we were watching one long trailer setting us up for a finale.

At its strongest moments, we got a chilling enemy in L or Red Eyes (Kwon Hyun-sang) who seriously made me fear for Tae-yeon’s safety. Thankfully, the season finale pulled out all the stops and because curiosity always gets the best of me, I’ll be tuning in til the end.

Tastes like…: A rich red velvet cupcake soaked in blood with guyliner icing.

 

Nice Guy

Melodramas can be a tricky thing in my book. And if one is entitled, There’s No Such Thing as Nice Guys or better known as Nice Guy here at DB, I’m going to expect an anti-hero streak in our protagonist.

Oddly enough, this was the only melodrama I stuck with this year (save for I Miss You, which is still airing) because this is a show that scrutinizes the human psyche under a dramatic microscope. What makes someone tick and how far must you chase after your desires? From the onset, this is what the show excelled at: introducing us to cryptic, puzzling characters we wanted to solve – let’s be honest – in the prettiest of ways. And I’m not just talking about Song Joong-ki.

As much as I was fascinated by these characters who lived in an enclosed world that consisted only of themselves, I saw the same brush strokes of Writer Lee Kyung-hee that was reminiscent of her previous projects. That isn’t to say that every drama should be innovative because there’s a reason why melodramas fall under this category. But we have an orphan hero on a revenge path but can’t help but fall in love with our heroine. Sound familiar? It should. (I’m Sorry, I Love You, A Love to Kill)

I grit my teeth through the amnesia storyline, not because it’s a classic drama trope but rather it sucked the snap, crackle, and pop out of our once cold and calculating Eun-ki (Moon Chae-won) and we had to bear a few episodes of not-all-that-exciting E3PO. Song Joong-ki brought a compelling Maru to the table and it’s not Park Si-yeon‘s fault that the name ‘Jae-hee’ has scarred me for life.

So at the end of this metaphorical tunnel, I think I came out pretty unscathed. Wait, I think I sustained a life-threatening brain injury after all.

Tastes like…: Wait, what did I just eat? I forgot.

 

Full House Take 2

After nearly eight years of off-again, on-again talks of a possible sequel after the original Full House, I raised an eyebrow when production finally gave it the green light to air after all. If you’re looking for the same kind of charm that made you fall in love with Rain, this ain’t it. Because this series is a fascinating show on its own. And I’m not being sarcastic.

You only need two seconds to figure out who will end up as our leading couple (hint: they’ve got the same ‘dos) and another two to wonder why someone who would wear a teddy bear accessory would be in charge of someone else‘s fashion choices. But once you look past those barriers (I know it’s hard), what you’ll find is a gem tucked underneath the ridiculous.

Blink twice and you’ll miss the satirical jabs at the entertainment industry between the hilarious Kpop references. It’s enough to make you think twice about not only who Oppa really is but why he’s working so damned hard. Maybe he has a Full House on lien and he has to rely on brand name lotion samples to get it back.

What started as a ridiculously hilarious and zany series in its earlier episodes took the exit towards Angstville, which sadly, did the drama no favors. Though it gave both of our boys great depth in their tragic childhoods (Seriously, Tragic Triangle could find work here.), this is when the series felt out-of-place and conventional. But stick with it all the way through and you’ll be rewarded for your infinite patience.

The bromance alone is worth the watch and – dare I say – a formidable rival to the romance. Both Noh Min-woo and Park Ki-woong are so damned cute in this series that you know that Shunji would roll his eyes at them and say, “Bitch, please.”

Full House Take 2 just wrapped up on cable network SBS Plus this past week, so if you need a bit of hilarity before you ring in the new year, this is it.

Tastes like…: An allergen-free fluffy marshmallow.

Time to put the Taste O’Meter back on the shelf until next year! Let’s hope the Mayans were wrong because 2013 looks like it’ll be a pretty fantastic year.

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133 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. blokkoms

    Brilliant review, thanks gummimochi! But gosh darnit, all the year-end reviews are having the cumulative effect of making me reconsider all the dramas I’ve dropped – this is going to be a very drama-laden Christmas…

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  2. lemonade candy

    GAKSITAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL~~

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  3. kookicookie

    Thankies! I love your reviews and the music!

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    • 3.1 rainbow

      Awesome reviews :)

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  4. zekwana

    My heart just leaped when I saw Gaksital!!!:))

    One of the most memorable dramas indeed!!

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    • 4.1 chane

      Gummimochi: “If ever there was an ending that wanted me to pump my fists into the air, it was this one.”

      Totally agree!!! Gaksital left a giant hole in my heart, now I want every drama to be as awesome as Gaksital!!<33

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      • 4.1.1 ladysarahii

        Me, too! As soon as I could see through the tears, that is.

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      • 4.1.2 DayDreamer

        Amen. Gaksital was just pure awesomeness. I tried to get my fellow non-Korean friends who don’t watch any Korean dramas to watch it and they’re all like, “Why are you so invested in some other country’s patriotic movements?” and I’m just like, “Wtf, that’s not even the point. This drama is so amazing for its exquisite storytelling, direction, and acting.”

        Anyways, I can never forget Gaksital. It was the greatest emotional roller coaster I went through. Normally patriotic shows and movies don’t really affect me much but this is one show where I was deeply affected by every person’s death, even the boy soldiers. Which is amazing because when there are nameless soldiers dying off in a show/movie, I don’t really get affected…my emotions are tugged mostly by the hero. But here, I felt a great loss seeing their lives taken away. Gaksital really immersed me in its world as if I were really there in that time watching all these lives going by and events unfolding. It effortlessly and plausibly traced the transformation of an anti-hero to a hero and a good guy to a multi-layered villain. Just so damn amazing.

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        • 4.1.2.1 chane

          It was the same with my friends, I’m from the Philippines and it’s rare that I watch non-filipino dramas, but I recently discovered that we had KBS world in our cable and I tried watching K-dramas but I got tired of some dramas because I found them boring but with Gaksital, it was just a different thing because I got hooked so easily that I just found myself re-reading the ep recaps here and re-watching the eps whenever it airs…and I tried to get my friends to watch it but they wouldn’t even give it a chance, well, sucks for them, they may never know the awesomness that is Gaksital!!!

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        • 4.1.2.2 Ann

          LOL. That’s like saying,”Why do you feel good at the end of Les Miserables?” I guess you don’t know unless you have watched it.

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      • 4.1.3 Arhazivory

        My heart always leaps when I think of Gaksitaaaaaaal. And that ending is, hands down, the BEST ending I’ve ever watched in all my years of drama watching.

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    • 4.2 OneFive1

      I totally agree….
      And all this talk about Gaksital….so many feels….i will never get over it TT.TT

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  5. pogo

    I do agree about Arang’s extra-dark cinematography in the later episodes – not that I minded because that drama (and THAT COUPLE!) still has my heart anyway, but to think of what AatM could have looked like if they’d kept the entire thing as beautifully shot and lit as the early episodes……the end of episode 18 was a small hearkening-back to that gorgeousness, but a bit too late :(

    Also, Shut Up Flower Boy Band. It’s so good, I’m thinking of prodding my non-kdrama-watching friends into giving it a try. And the soundtrack is perfection, Wake Up makes me want to dance and swoon in equal parts.

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  6. RockPaperScissors

    Thank you Gummi for your reviews.

    So many surprises this year. I would have to say that if I were to be stranded on a deserted island, I would pick the SUFBB OST to listen to over & over, and I may as well throw in the King2Hearts DVD while I’m at it. Oh, and a very, very long extension cord!

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  7. Carole McDonnell

    Aranggggggggggg! Queen InHyun’s Mannnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!

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    • 7.1 Kiara

      So Sqeeeeeee worthy. <3

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      • 7.1.1 Kiara

        Forgot my u lol

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  8. korfan

    Nice Guy!!

    This one was it for me this year. It ended here 2 days ago ….. *sigh*

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  9. pogo

    Nice Guy is totally that melo that makes you want the popcorn instead of the tissues.

    I did appreciate the blinding gorgeousness of its pretty (both male and female, and for Song Joong Ki it stayed consistent across three hairstyles, which is rare in dramaland) but I’d say I was entertained more than moved.

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    • 9.1 korfan

      pogo -

      I agree with you. Especially your comment, “… the blinding gorgeousness of its pretty (both male and female, and for Song Joong Ki it stayed consistent across three hairstyles, which is rare in dramaland” …. Totally!!

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  10. 10 MsScorpion

    “Let’s hope the Mayans were wrong because 2013 looks like it’ll be a pretty fantastic year.”

    If I had read this sentence just a few weeks ago, I would not have understood :)

    I agree with all what you said on the shows that I watched, and I’d like to thank all dramabeans’ writers for these amazing reviews.

    Looking for 2013 only of the Mayans were wrong :D

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  11. 11 V

    We need to finish watching Gaksitaal. Loved it so far. We stopped at episode 11 I think. Our plan is to marathon the resy over the holiday break.

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  12. 12 Ann

    Not much love for Equator Man (sigh). After reading about Big, I Do, I Do, and others that seemed disappointing, I really am glad that I spent my drama hours on EM. Why do I prefer shows about betrayal, death and getting whacked over the head to time travel and body swapping? Is it more realistic? When a guy wakes up from a coma after seven years and the only changes are he is blind and very good-looking, I can’t defend myself THAT way.

     (0)


    • 12.1 korfan

      Ann –

      I watched Equator Man and I enjoyed it. The people in this drama were certainly interesting …. and with a little side of crazy!

      Loved Lee Joon Hyuk as Lee Chang Il. Loved the portrayal, loved his look, loved it all ….. well, not his actions so much. What a frenemy!

       (0)


      • 12.1.1 Ann

        I started it for UTW, but his partner LJH was awesome as well. He was rather like a cross between the frenemies in Gaksital and Story of a Man.

         (0)


      • 12.1.2 redfox

        Lee Joon Hyuk, ahh what a crush I have on each of his characters. if there is any actor who just disarmes me… so much spirit, he is so….!

         (0)


    • 12.2 chane

      Agree, there needs to be more love for Equator Man, that show was such an intense ride, there were moments where it got stale but overall i’m glad I stuck through with EM!!

      Plus, UTW and LJH had a great bromance chemistry!!!

       (0)


      • 12.2.1 Ann

        Equaaaator Maaaaaan!

         (0)


  13. 13 moondust

    Thank you gummimochi! Yay TK2H and Answer Me 1997 ftw~ :)

     (0)


  14. 14 Mari

    Ok, so I’m starting to think there’s something wrong with me. Everyone has given so much love to Shut up flower boy band. I remember watching the first few episodes and then dropping it ( I skipped to last episode to see the ending, I know that’s bad of me). Should I give it another go? Maybe it be like Coffee prince, the first time I watched it I did not care for it, the second time I fell madly in love with it. Otherwise I completely agree with everything gummy wrote. Especially the part about Minho. I’m like the biggest Shinee fan girl now..

     (0)


    • 14.1 Mrs_d

      I wasn’t that keen on Shut Up:Flower Boy Band either. But… I tried it again this week and ended up marathoning the whole series in one day! And then rewatched it again the next. So yeah, give it a shot!

       (0)


    • 14.2 Ilovedramas

      OMG! i felt the same,my friend tried convincing me but she’s terrible at it or its just probably me. i think i should try watching it too!

       (0)


    • 14.3 Ann

      I know I am being sacrilegious when I say this, but I was not really into the main pairing of Coffee Prince. For some reason the actress who played the main character did not appeal to me at all. I fell in love with Lee Sun Gyun, so it wasn’t a total loss.

      Don’t hurt me!

       (0)


      • 14.3.1 Mari

        What??? Really??? But she is awesome!!! Yoon Eun-Hye is one of my fave korean actress. She totally gives her all to all her roles. Plus she’s just not afraid of looking ugly when she cries ( which lets me honest she does a lot in all her dramas starting with Princess hours). But yeah personal taste and all that. Totally agree with you and Lee Sung-Gyun , I love him! I wish I could just record him reading a book, so that every night his amazing voice would make fall a sleep and have wonderfull dreams…

         (0)


    • 14.4 Mar

      You are not alone on Shut up Flower Boy Band. I didn’t make it through the first episode.

       (0)


      • 14.4.1 pillowhead

        Mar, it get’s better. try again :D

         (0)


    • 14.5 Ash

      That’s where I am with Shut Up. I don’t know if I keep trying it when I’m not in the right mood or what, but I’ve stalled out after the first episode twice already. Still keeping it on the to-watch List o’ Doom because that many fans can’t be wrong, but it’s pushed to the back burner for now.

       (0)


    • 14.6 queencircles

      I would say if you got caught up in the first two episodes and didn’t finish.. definitely give it another go to at least episode 4.

      Everyone loved lee minki as byung-hee, but I wasn’t as impressed, he actually turned me off a little. I think he was too old for the part personally.

      But after that, I got super into it and went marathoning.

      I would say definitely give it another chance. I waited so long to watch it just cause, though everyone praised it, I wasn’t so sure I’d be into it. But I was SO MUCH.

       (0)


    • 14.7 DayDreamer

      Add me to the list of people who can’t seem to be interested in Shut Up Flower Boy Band, heh.

       (0)


    • 14.8 flour

      im with you! i dont get the love. i tried watching is, all episodes! its just not for me, i guess. my middle school self would enjoy it, but im past highschool and its just too unreal for me. im now rooting for school 2013! although a bit angsty and dramatic, i understand the gang cultures more than a band (emotional and dramatic one at that) culture.

       (0)


  15. 15 Mar

    While I Do I Do had it’s problems, It was standard formula in many ways, but I Do I Do deserves an award for somehow quietly stepping a couple of steps to the side the k drama formula with a lead character, a career woman that was markedly NOT A 30 year old virgin, pregnant from a one night stand with a significantly younger man, AND she chooses to have and keep her child and not to get married. Not to mention the role reversal of the female lead being the strong silent charismatic type and the male lead being the poor bumbling heart of gold young thing. I think the viewpoint of this drama is relevant, there are women that do not fit, and do not want to fit, into what culture tells out women should be or do. And they get beat down all of their lives for it. Usually female roles like this are the antagonists in the show and are shown in a negative light. I think it is great this show even got to see the light of day in k drama.

    The same can be said for Answer Me 1997, what a breath of fresh air. I loved it’s portrayal of a group of teens that fought and angsted and ‘shipped and loved and looked at porn lol. And the parents were friggin awesome to watch too.

    As much as I loved the actors, as well done (as compared to Faith) as it was, as beautiful as it was to watch, Arang just never captivated me like the leads in Faith did, in the heart, I never connected with Sato and Arang like I did with Choi Young and Eun-soo. I do not know what was missing for me, but something was missing.

    To the Beautiful You-soccer boy could light of the world with his smile. Another show where I found myself fast forwarding to watch the secondary characters.

    Queen Inhyun’s Man-Another show that took a step into more realistic modern feel of lead characters interaction. I can’t say I loved the entire show, the side characters and political intrigue bored me, but it was worth it for the rare chemistry we got to see with the two leads. I almost dislike that the couple ended up together in real life because it just encourages idiot viewers to say stupid shit about any actresses and actors that show one ounce of chemistry.

     (0)


    • 15.1 Annie

      This. I didn’t like the show much – Kim Sun Ah and Lee Jang Woo didn’t quite fit for me (personal taste, I guess) – but I read the recap for the finale and I was so happy that they didn’t spend an entire show proving the lead female’s worth and then have her subvert that entirely by feeding into society’s expectations. It was a shockingly consistent ending for Kdrama…

       (0)


      • 15.1.1 Mar

        I understand what you are saying about the fit of the actors. Normally characters that don’t fit physically does not bother me, I think it can add some flavor. But that was not the problem here. They looked okay other than I don’t find him appealing. I can’t even describe what the problem was from my point of view. I just did not like the actor in the role maybe My friend felt he was too…flamboyant and diva/drama queen dressed in sheep’s clothing. Her words not mine. I however liked the male lead CHARACTER as written alot and felt the character fit what the female lead character needed in her life.

         (0)


    • 15.2 a_diva

      great points about i do, i do.

       (0)


    • 15.3 mel

      Great points about I Do, I Do. I also liked how getting together with either one of the guys wasn’t something I felt she had to do. She would have been fine on her own. The romance was really kind of secondary to her character, which could be good or bad depending on what you were looking for in the drama.

      re: QIHM. Ha. I was thinking the same thing about them getting together. It seems part of every drama fandom turns into RL shipping of actors if they look like they can mostly stand each other.

       (0)


      • 15.3.1 Mar

        Yes, that was part of the point of the show I think, the character learning to accept who she was and love herself despite what others thought in order to have valuable relationships with others (work, family, friends, Ankle, the guy) as much as it was about the romance. I’m a big fan of happy as you can be endings in some situations. This was one of them.

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    • 15.4 Ann

      I haven’t seen most of those, but I must say I prefer to watch dramas about older people and their issues. Now that my youngest son is out of high school (which shows you how old I am!) I just can’t find the time to watch shows about it. Perhaps if they did Answer Me 1977…

       (0)


      • 15.4.1 a_diva

        lol!

         (0)


      • 15.4.2 skelly

        Ann, so with you on this one! I was a sophomore in high school, so Answer Me 1977 would be perfect – let’s see, instead of computers we would have IBM Selectric typewriters and the very first electronic games…the music would be tough, though – can’t say I like much from that era.

         (0)


    • 15.5 kkongchi

      Re: your points about I Do, I Do, ironically this was the main reason why My Name is Kim Sam Soon kind of gave me a bad taste. I mean, I didn’t hate it, I did think it was funny, but the overall theme just seemed really mean-spirited and kind of outdated. Like, let’s all laugh at and shun this woman who dared to reach the age of 30 without getting married. It’s not really like that in Korea anymore, plenty of single women who are thirty-ish still have really vibrant social lives and are still considered very attractive and not over-the-hill at all. And I think I Do, I Do showed this quite well.

       (0)


      • 15.5.1 Mar

        Well, it was a drama so everything was more in your face. I do not think it is out dated, that attitude is still out there, and it’s not singular to Korea. I think it’s a broader scope though, to include just being over 30 and single, period. People are like, why are you single? Are you gay? Are your still in love with your ex? Are you dating? It’s like a single person is some sort of exotic creature that MUST be paired off to save the species. It even happens to older people. My Mom outlived two husbands and even in her late 60′s and early 70′s people still felt the need to question her status. She finally started saying, “Why? Do you have someone to fix me up with? Can I see his portfolio first?” That shut them the hell up.

         (0)


    • 15.6 korfan

      Mar –

      Regarding I Do, I Do …. your entire first paragraph, I agree completely.

      For these reasons you mentioned, this drama was truly a breath of fresh air.

       (0)


  16. 16 Maya

    “Let’s hope the Mayans were wrong because 2013 looks like it’ll be a pretty fantastic year”

    Don’t worry, we were wrong, you’ll still be able to watch plenty of dramas on 2013 (people kept asking me this question this week)

    Agree on Gaksital, definitely one of my most memorable dramas of 2012. And I think I really need to start on Shut Up Flower Band! Btw, I also just realized that there are 3 J-dorama remakes this year: Operation Proposal, Dr Jin, To The Beautiful You..

     (0)


  17. 17 DayDreamer

    Gah, my heart started pounding while reading the part about Gaksital. For a show that has had such an immense impact on me, I think for me, it was the best drama of the year only because I haven’t really watched a lot of dramas this year.

    I don’t think I Do I Do was underrated. It was cute and all but it didn’t have an impact. For me, it was easily forgettable even though I enjoyed the crazy daydreams the leads had throughout the show. The Doctor Without Borders was a pest, so was Kim Sun-Ah’s character’s father with all his yelling. I felt the characterizations could have been a bit better and the plot not moving at such a snail’s pace.

    Arang and the Magistrate, however, was underrated while Nice Guy was overrated for reasons mentioned in Javabeans’ review.

     (0)


    • 17.1 tapioca pearl

      Gaksital is the drama of the year for me too. I love reading what the reviewers say about it, and I (like gummi) still feel that rush of anxiety and heartache when I listen to the soundtrack. AAAAHHHHH!

       (0)


      • 17.1.1 DayDreamer

        I don’t even have to listen to the soundtrack….it runs through my head continuously whenever I become silent, especially that really sad one. And yes, I’m very happy there are a lot of good reviews for it. I kinda feel proud…for what, I don’t even know. :)

         (0)


  18. 18 missjb

    LOL… I’m so sad The Innocent Man called overated for many reviews..
    I think I’m alone here who did invested this show so much way more than Arang, King2heart, or even Gaksital, that so many reviews rave a good review.

    Maybe I learn alot of thing and thinking deep too much into the show, I know the show lack of logic, but the narrative point and the directing, also the acting and the character what makes this drama stand out for me…

    Okay my drama of the year so far, reply 1997, Nice Guy, Can We Get married. some people kept saying CWGM is a mini version of wife’s credential.

    I hope there will be a wife’s credential review. I need that, I heard so many good raves about the show already.

     (0)


  19. 19 queencircles

    I just finished flower boy rock bad. Gah I love that feeling of marathoning through a show at 3am because you just NEED to see what happens next. I don’t do that too much anymore so it was an unexpected surprise of this show. I loved it so much! Sung joon was fantastic, I can’t wait to see him in other things, but all the characters were great and so well thought out. Amazing writing and I loved the female lead character who said what she was feeling and didn’t let any guy manipulate her.

     (0)


    • 19.1 pogo

      I know, right?! It’d be so easy to be indifferent to Suah, but she’s written so well and so three-dimensionally that she’s not at all the perfect muse/princess figure you’d take her for on first glance.

       (0)


      • 19.1.1 queencircles

        Seriously. At every turn I was like, damn, I like this girl.

         (0)


    • 19.2 Dorotka

      Try “Can We Get Married?”. He is there. A totally different kind of drama. But I love it.

       (0)


      • 19.2.1 Mari

        I totally dislike his charecter there!! Half of the time I want to scream at him to “be a man” uhg it’s so frustrating that he basically just let’s everyone walk all over him.

         (0)


        • 19.2.1.1 Dorotka

          Well, he has a very kind father… and a very dominant mother ;–)
          Though I don’t think he just lets anyone to walk over him. He was able to get angry at the cheater Do Hyun, at Ki Joong… and even at his mother, finally. I just think his character here, Jung Hoon, is introvert and very polite. My husband is a bit like that. And although it is sometimes frustrating, he is a great caring father… and husband.

          One of the reasons why I like this drama is that everybody has flaws. Nobody is perfect. And I can feel nearly for all of them (Do Hyun is out). For example, I first hated the mother of Hye Yoon. But with the progress of the drama, I more and more see her love for her daughters.

           (0)


          • 19.2.1.1.1 Mari

            Yes! I actually just watched the last 2 episodes. I was very happy for him! He finally stoop up to his mom in his own very well behaved way. Then he got in the fight with both his best friend & the cheating scum ( older sisters husband). I just felt that made him more human. He is always soo polite, quiet and just too nice. Can’t wait to see the last 2 episodes…

             (0)


  20. 20 DayDreamer

    By the way, looking at the I Do I Do photo in the review, I am also reminded of Kim Sun-Ah’s weird eyebrows throughout the show, lol. It always looked like it could be ripped off easily which distracted me from the story several times.

     (0)


    • 20.1 Bea

      Oh my! I kinda thought the same thing, hahaha. Actually, while watching that drama I started to look at my own eyebrows to see if mine were so weird and at the end I was a little bit obsess with everybody’s eyebrows.

       (0)


  21. 21 mel

    The main thing I remember from I Do, I Do is how much the 2nd male lead pissed me off. And not in the normal Kdrama way. I seriously wanted to punch him a few times.

    Oh man in K2H, honestly Earnest Bot’s fate basically ruined his storyline for me. It was really unnecessary for it to happen and just felt like they were trying too hard to upset people. I also watched City Hunter during K2H and felt in that case the unnecessary bad thing that happened worked, but here… it just didn’t. So I can’t say I cared all that much about what happened. Though I was never as invested in him as some people.

     (0)


    • 21.1 Mystisith

      I see things differently: I remember Doc without borders cause he was smart and straightforward and pretty funny. LDW’s character was written as dull and stupid and I would never have chosen him, in dramaland or in my own life. If LDW’s character would have been more “streetsmart” it would have been better. I also feel than the main couple had no chemistry. With Big, the biggest disappointment of my year. And I SO wanted a nice noona-dongsaeng drama… Oh, well.

       (0)


      • 21.1.1 Annie

        Yeah, Lee Jang Woo was just insipid. Even by Kdrama standards the main leads didn’t belong together. I think the dreamy doc rubbed people the wrong way partly because he wasn’t the typical self-sacrificing second lead who stepped aside for the leading man without a whimper. He knew what he wanted and went for it.

         (0)


      • 21.1.2 mel

        The whole I’m offended and so disappointed that you’d even think of having an abortion thing kind of killed his character for me. Plus he was portrayed as the better choice obviously and I couldn’t get past what he said to her before. I don’t think either guy was wonderful. I actually thought the most heartwarming part of the drama was the father/son relationship.

         (0)


      • 21.1.3 Mari

        Ok. So random, but I always remember it when a charecter I like dies. At the end of the Harry Potter series they asked JK Rowling why she killed soo many characters. Her answer was something along the lines ( I’m completely paraphrasing this) War, there’s always casualties & good people die, and their children’s and families are left behind its just a fact of life. Soo this can apply to K2H too, they are fighting an evil man that just wants power no matter what. There has to be casualties to his evil plan. I love ( I called him the good lil soldier) his charecter, and while I hated the writers I see why they did it…

         (0)


        • 21.1.3.1 queencircles

          I was pissed for like a year and a half after Serius died lol. But yeah I hated it when Earnest Bot died. I understood why, but I was still too upset.

           (0)


          • 21.1.3.1.1 Arhazivory

            Agreed. As much as I love K2H, I’ll never forget my deep upset at his pointless death. I honestly felt like I’d discontinue ep 19 after that happened. I was too upset to even shed a tear. ><

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    • 21.2 Dorotka

      For me, Shi Kyung’s death was completely logical and made sense. The main villian, crazy Bong Goo, was pissed off and wanted to hurt Jae Ha. An punish Shi Kyung for fooling him. Yes, I was sad and cried a thousand rivers. But I never found it being something out of the story.

       (0)


  22. 22 mskololia

    Thanks gummimochi.

    I only saw/completed QIM and Arang from you list. NG was dropped after the tunnel of forgetfulness, yet we-love-each-other-dearly Kdrama nonsense.

     (0)


  23. 23 Sara

    Big…thinking about it makes me feel like i’ve got something stuck in my chest. Was such a big disappointment, n unfortunately, i have a tough time forgetting it. All that wait for Kang Kyun Joon to wake up…and in the end we got cheated out of even the glimpse of his real, authentic shoulders. GRRR….
    On top of which, we didnt even get answers to the questions the show invested in raising. Uncool.

     (0)


    • 23.1 queencircles

      SO UNCOOL. I’m having a hard time getting past it too.

       (0)


  24. 24 queencircles

    So much goodness!

    Flower Boy band: Amazing. Heartfelt. Funny. ADORABLE. Smart. Fantastically well written characters. Teen angst done right.

    Big: WTF …..Started in a good direction, crashed harder than the the fated accident. CRASHED. SO. HARD. I’m so annoyed with this, it actually turns me off of the Hong Sisters a little. Still cute most of the way through. Gong Yoo, Suzy, and Baek Sung-hyun made it watchable.

    Arang: Intelligent. Funny. Mystical. Cute. Fantasy done right. (Also fantasy fusion-sageuk done right lol)

    Queen Inhyun’s Man: ROMANTIC. Beautiful. Whimsical. Fun. Heartwarming. Time-travel and romance done right.

    Gaksitaaaaaaaaal: Fantastic! Exciting. Dramatic. Unforgetable. BADASS. Hot. Hot. Hot Male Leads (plus Damsari my sexy ajusshi crush). Action with heart done right.

    The King 2 Hearts: Dramatic. Lovely. Charming. Creepy Villian. Hot, smart Hero. Badass Herione. JO. JUNG. SEOK. (Love him to the core). High steaks. Politics done right.

    Answer me 97: Fun. Nostalgic. Great characters. Witty. Heart-tugging. First love drama done SO right.

     (0)


    • 24.1 queencircles

      Forgot to add that it was a great year for bromance! Shut Up, Arang, Gaksitaaal, King 2 Hearts, Answer me. If you love bromance (who doesn’t??), this was a fan-freaking-tastic year!!

       (0)


    • 24.2 tapioca pearl

      Agree with your comments (except Big and Arang as I haven’t seen those yet). All those dramas did their genre right, and I didn’t even realize that until I read your comments.

       (0)


  25. 25 Sara

    Oh, and loved Queen Inhyun’s man!!

     (0)


  26. 26 tapioca pearl

    You stated Answer Me’s problem for me very well. Although I love that drama, I certainly had difficulty paying attention the last third. Like you said, the drama became aware of its success and got sidetracked from what it was. I didn’t feel satisfied with some of the side characters’ ending, and I think that had to do with the imbalance of screen time for each character once the episodes got longer (I still scratch my head at the different lengths of the episodes–they were never consistent). I still love the drama and the characters especially!

     (0)


    • 26.1 queencircles

      100% agreed. Lost a bit of steam towards the end

       (0)


    • 26.2 Arhazivory

      I liked it but it didn’t sink into my skin like it did for others. To me, Reply1997 was overrated.

       (0)


  27. 27 pogo

    And here’s to my favourite memory from the Arang recaps: commenters en masse threatening to roast the Jade Emperor’s flowery goat if he didn’t give our OTP a happy ending.

    (and what an OTP they were <3)

     (0)


    • 27.1 DayDreamer

      ROFL….I wonder how I missed that…and i had been reading the recaps and comments faithfully after watching each episode.

       (0)


  28. 28 queencircles

    This summer I watched Hana Kimi and fell in love. I don’t usually watch Jdoramas but I have a few on my list just based on people’s good reviews.

    That said, I LOVED it. It was so light and sillyand just plain fun. A fucking hilarious if-unrealistic high school drama. I loved every bit of it.

    Soo when I went into To The Beautiful You, I knew it wouldn’t be exactly the same just cause k and j are different. Just like hana yori dango and BOF were different. I tried to go in unbiased.

    But I did not enjoy TTBY really at all. I dropped it about halfway just because I was so damn bored. It lost ALL spark and had no character motivation whatsoever. Very disappointing. And as gummimochi stated, Lee Hyun-woo and Seo Joon-young were so underused.

    Basically all it had was The Cute. But there are SO many MUCH better dramas that have The Cute, that TTBY is just not worth it. It’s just not.

     (0)


    • 28.1 Mystisith

      MTE. There wasn’t the fantasy of the original Hana Kimi in TTBY and it was boring. Why so serious, Show? I must have watched 2 eps before dropping it.

       (0)


    • 28.2 pogo

      The first J-Hana Kimi was awesome, but that was more because of its supporting cast (including the GORGEOUS Mizushima Hiro – never have I been so glad to discover that an actor I’m crushing on is actually legal) and general fun vibe. It’s hard to replicate, and honestly I’m not very fond of Maki as the lead but the rest of the characters make up for it.

       (0)


    • 28.3 DayDreamer

      I’m probably the only one but I didn’t really like the Japanese Hana Kimi…I read the manga and it had a fulfilling storyline but in the Japanese version (from what I remember) everyone was running around a lot and it all looked wtf to me. Then I watched the Taiwanese version and it was pretty good until the ending killed it for me. That made the whole effect of the show seem bland then. With such a history, I didn’t bother with TTBY then.

       (0)


      • 28.3.1 Mar

        I couldn’t watch either the Japanese or Taiwanese version. Both were cringe worthy. I’m not big on J drama anyway, I’ve tried, and most of the time I feel like I’m being punked and drop it. But I like some Taiwanese shows. Just not that one. The Korean was pretty cringe worthy too actually. I did however watch a good portion of it just to see the soccer boy smile.

         (0)


        • 28.3.1.1 queencircles

          Yeah, I don’t get into too many J doramas either. They’re just weirder lol. I’ve only seen a few. But that’s why I think it totally worked in that context.

          Lee Hyun-woo (soccer boy) is suuch a cutie. I’m glad they gave him a new haircut halfway through, that first one was godawful lol.

           (0)


        • 28.3.1.2 DayDreamer

          OMG!!! I am so glad to meet you, Mar and queencircle. Normally, I see a lot of people raving how great Jdramas are but I personally find most of them boring, crazy, lacking soul, or some other thing. Only a very few were great but on the whole, a lot of them seem to have repetitive storylines. Case in point: there seems to be a ton of Jdramas focusing on a sensei who has to deal with unruly students or some amateur playing detective. I also frankly don’t find a lot of the actors handsome like I do with Korean actors (with the latter, it’s like instant love at first sight, lol). Moreover, I like a good well-developed story, not some crazy running around, holding signs. I’d also like better acting….much, much better acting. Taiwanese dramas have a lot of heart and soul in them and usually great romantic storylines (some even better than Korean romantic dramas and rather more passionate kisses, heh). However, Korean dramas seem to be on a whole, a greater level with their great cinematography, directing, and acting. I appreciate that level of talent despite some mediocre aspects that crop every now and then. Then again, that’s there in every industry.

           (0)


          • 28.3.1.2.1 Mar

            Yes I feel very much the same. J dramas are often too quirky for me. T dramas have a lot of heart and often have more sensuality, but they can also have a funny quirk, or even add a dark quirk you sometimes do not see coming. K drama, I have got used to that you never know when melo is going to turn comic or comic is going to turn melo. I agree often K drama has higher quality production especially regarding sets and locations, cinematography, costume, etc. I’m not hating on anyone, I just have my preferences like we all do.

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      • 28.3.2 bjharm

        the 2011 version with Atsuko Maeda is said to follow the manga story line more than the first did, though I enjoyed both really. that always been a strong point for Japanese drama is they normally quite short, leaving less time for things to go wrong. Totally agree with the comments the korean version totally ruined the charm of the story, yes they where all cute..but also soooooooo boring

         (0)


  29. 29 pigtookie

    I’d have to agree with most your reviews for those dramas I did watch – summarized my afterthoughts about those shows quite succinctly!

    Yeah, it was L’s turbulent Hyun Soo I was watching out for more in SHFBB, QIH’sM was rather like Dippin Dots :)

    I hope Lee Hyun Woo chooses a better drama next year, though he did well in his role. The other thing I remember is Kim Woo Bin and Lee Hyun Woo’s roommate stealing my heart. I’d say the difference between this and Dream High is the writing – they didn’t have to follow the manga scene for scene but if they did, tone down the more aggravating moments and bring out more of the friendships and unique personalities from smaller roles that made the story endearing (and I think AM1997 production would have suited this more than the lavish cameras/set for that purpose).

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  30. 30 redfox

    again, I am all with you except Arang.

    But Shut Up!!!!! I also start my day with Jaywalking more than once a week, every week. I just can´t let go. I want to see how the boys are doing. It is like we all got 5 (or 6) little brothers and you wanna pick up the phone and call them and tell them to eat three meals a day and wear socks and what exiting things are happening. hey boys, I wanna know you are doing well, even if you are fictional characters! come back and show me, I worry!

    and Full House Take 2 – aww man past the hair and melodrama, a sharp view into pop idol world. someone pulled into this rollercoaster and out of their natural environment, all because they have a dream to protect. and Kang Hwi omg… really, how can the SAME ACTOR bring us the scariest AND the cutest characters of the drama year????? it is like the wolf in the zoo also puts on bunny ears and runs from one cage to another.

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    • 30.1 Ann

      Park Ki Woong did have to compete with aeygo Joo Won!

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      • 30.1.1 DayDreamer

        I keep seeing that word floating around in relation to Joo Won. What does aeygo mean?

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  31. 31 Dorotka

    Thanks. IDID could have been much better… but also much worse. I liked Ji An… and dad’s wig :–)

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    • 31.1 Mar

      Dad rocked the wig. Gaksital who? This hero can fix shoes.

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  32. 32 Tani

    thank’s dramaland for the fantastic year 2012. Two of the dramas this year are in my list of all time favourites: “Shut up flower boy band”and “Queen IH Man”. I loved them! :)

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    • 32.1 pogo

      yeah, I love that this year has given me so many dramas that I’d love to rewatch – Arang, SUFBB, QIHM, etc , and I suspect School 2013 is going to join the ranks in a bit – when in an ordinary year, I get maybe one.

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  33. 33 Kiara

    Thanks for the review gummimochi :). One of these days I’ll marathon The King 2 Hearts. I was hooked on QIHM and wasn’t able to watch it.

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    • 33.1 skelly

      Same here. I stopped watching everything to focus solely on QIHM, I loved that show so much. I think I will marathon K2H over vacation.
      Another thing these reviews are making me realize is that I have never liked – and I’ve never been able to finish – a single Hong Sisters drama. Not one. And I tried twice with Best Love, and I think about three times with My Girl. I’ve attempted nearly all of them. So Big was not the shocker to me that it was to others; I sortof expected not to like it.

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  34. 34 george

    Thanks gummimochi for letting us year-end-taste-test with you some of the years dramas.I seem to notice all the year end reviews so far has all good words for Shut Up,Flower Boy Band.I think i started on it but it didn’t grab my attention so i forgot about it.I might watch it over the holidays just out curiosity.

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  35. 35 k-soup

    well. BIG was a truly a BIG DISAPPOINTMENT.. very promising plot and I’ve been very patient with it…

    and I felt BETRAYED.

    KINGS2HEART: GOOD. BAD-ASS
    TO THE BEAUTIFUL YOU: fun, exciting but damn with human logic and common sense!
    ARANG & THE MAGISTRATE: Great start but totally dragging, Didn’t finish it.
    QUEEN IN HYUN’S MAN: MAGICAL. Best Time Traveling Drama Award!

    watching NICE GUY right now ;)

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    • 35.1 Kate

      Nice Guy is such a good drama. You won’t be disappointed.

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  36. 36 wanderlust

    ah le minho smile. not just noonas, he gained a bunch of fans off TTBY and with the songs and the international viewers buying the dvd and ost plus airing rights in other countries, TTBY did just fine.

    the dramas that gripped me this year were none other than QIM, Reply, TTBY and Nice Guy.

    its been a good year for my kdrama watching where i just went to hell with subs and live streamed my favourite shows and watched the other interesting ones that were uploaded a few hours after. made for some horrible sleeping routines but i wouldnt trade it :)

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  37. 37 eternalfive

    LOVED the review – thanks gummimochi! :D Didn’t really watch many of the same dramas, but I still enjoyed reading it. I mean, food metaphors for every drama? That’s aweeesome. XD

    And why is every reviewer description of Shut Up Flower Boy Band just so heartwrenching and beautiful at the same time? <3 <3 <3

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  38. 38 Laica

    Thanks for the year end review, gummi! I like the Taste-o-Meter. Especially the Nice Guy one, lol!

    Gotta agree with you on Shut Up and King 2 Hearts. My two favourite dramas of the year. And Full House 2 just tasted like crack. :)

    It was a delicious year, despite the few duds we accidentally bit into. Made all the better by your very tasty recaps. Thanks for all your hard work this year on DB! <3 <3 <3

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  39. 39 Viki

    Still haven’t watch some of the dramas reviewed due to school…but it’s winter break, def watching all of these! has been on my watch-list since the beginning of this year!

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  40. 40 Stardust

    I love your review gummi, because you combined my two favourite things – kdramas and FOOD LOL …

    I can’t agree more with all you wrote, its really gratifying to see that my palate in kdramas has been more refined since I came to dramabeans a year back, and I can actually taste the subtle different flavors in the different foods hehehe

    The only one I skipped was Nice Guy…becos I intend to watch that later if I survive I Miss You, so I wanted to be spoiler free lol..

    Thank you so much for another great year!! =D

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    • 40.1 Kate

      I thought I Miss You was so boring. Nice guy is a really great drama. You should definitely watch it!

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  41. 41 Yuppy

    The King 2 Hearts ! Love live king Jae Ha and the Queen. My favourite royalty couple in drama land.

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  42. 42 Aiya

    Queen In Hyun’s Man, best romantic drama for 2012! :) Who could forget the smooches? Gaaah. And Ji Hyun Woo’s just adorable. <3

    Arang and TK2H rocks. Ha Ji Won and Shin Min Ah's badassery knocks my feet off. Also, I fell in love with Sato and Lee Seung Gi. :) Ive yet to watch Gaksital. Based on the reviews, I think I should really watch it. :)

    Gong Yoo is my first love but I skipped watching Big. I just dont want to see his talent wasted on the story. But i hope there's another drama store for him next year.

    This has been a good year. Im just waiting for Hyun Bin in 2013! Hoping he could come back to dramaland soon! :)

    Thank you for the awesomeness dramabeans (jb, gf, gummi, kaedejun, orangy). You guys rock!

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  43. 43 owl

    Can’t stop staring at the pic of the SUFBB boyz- gah~

    Fun review, gummimochi – fun year in kdramaland. I have not watched Gaksital yet because the pictures remind me of Phantom of the Opera and I get stuck there. By all the great comments, though, I’d better marathon it soon, yes?

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  44. 44 asianromance

    Love the name you’ve given Shin Won Ho- WonderHo. hehee. I loved the savior sibling twist too. It was something I didn’t expect and I love it when science meets fantasy. But yeah, after that, the drama plateaued and took a dive.

    Marriage Plot- I wish we got to know the other sisters. The way the drama was promoted seemed to indicate ensemble drama, but it was more like a straightfoward rom-com. But yay for Lee Kyu-han taking the lead. Why is this guy hardly ever the lead?!

    To the Beautiful You – I watched a little of it and was unable to totally get into it. I’ve read the manga and watched the taiwanese (which was sort of horrible in its own wat) and the first japanese adaptations, and I think the korean one lacks the spirit of the original story.

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  45. 45 ajj

    Operation Daisakusen-my favorite Japanese dorama.
    Made me fall for Yamapi for life.

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  46. 46 satsuki

    BULLETPROOF REVIEW!

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    • 46.1 satsuki

      errr that was embarassing i pressed submit without saying which was my pick!

      Arang and the Magistrate for me! So sweet together. *sigh*

      and oh not forgetting my love Princess Jae Shin and Eun Shi Kyung! ^^

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  47. 47 Brian

    LOL, even though To the Beautiful You had lots of flaws, I enjoyed it immensely. I think because it was so fluffy and didn’t take itself too seriously and frankly watching Sully was very fun.

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  48. 48 skinnymocha

    I don’t know… Whilst I enjoyed Gaksital, it didn’t quite hit all the right spots for me (aside from Shunji); I grew up watching Hong Kong dramas based on the Second Sino-Japanese War (the most recent one that left an impression on me being “No Regrets”) so I sort of knew what to look out for. I think the failed logics and Kang-to being a much juicier – and far more wits about him – “villain” sort of took away the emotional pull (especially as I felt it was more the writers’ doing that conveniently swooped in to save him later on). And Mok-dan, as a character, was far too one-dimensional.

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  49. 49 glitzmadrb

    That’s right gummimochi. I also do hope that the Mayans are wrong since next year’s dramas would be something to look out for, especially with promising dramas that just started airing this time. Let’s wish for a great year ahead!

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  50. 50 Gasenadi

    Thanks, gummimochi, and all the db recappers for all your work. You so enrich my addicted dramaviewing.

    Also liked the food-taste+drama link. So here’s mine:

    Padam, Padam = white chocolate frosting on moist red velvet cupcake. It went directly to my Favorite Rewatch List for the lead character’s story, his angelic (awesome magic-realistic) sidekick, his adoring gazes at his Love. The cinematography was stunning. Just an unforgettable work of art.

    While I can understand the love for the high school dramas, and I really tried to stick to SUFFB cuz of the raves here, they are not my cup of tea. (I just read the AM1997 recaps; wasn’t going to invest the time)

    I appreciate having db to steer me away from the Bigs, etc. There are too many good dramas to watch for the first time and RE-watch to waste time on duds.

    Enjoy vacationers!

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