Drama Reactions & Reviews
Life Lessons from a Mixed Bag of Dramas [Year In Review, Part 2]
by | December 11, 2012 | 148 Comments

2012 was certainly a mixed bag: I saw plenty of action dramas and then I saw fluffy dramas that made no sense. There were dramas I loved, dramas that I liked enough, and then dramas that I hated. It was a tough year for me, and I felt I had bad luck in choosing which dramas to watch this year. But it helps to appreciate all the dramas – good or bad – because there are still plenty of life lessons to be learned from them.

One of my goals for this year was to watch a drama from every letter of the alphabet – HA! Like that really happened. But in the hopes that I did, the reviews will be in alphabetical order… with life lessons in between.

SONG OF THE DAY

“Might Gonna” from What’s Up OST [download]

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ANSWER ME 1997

Oh school dramas – honestly two of my favorite dramas this year took place in a school. This is so high up on my list for this year because it had everything I could ever want in a K-drama that’s both relevant and timeless: friendship, love, and family. The biggest win for this drama was that it had heart. It had solid characters that were all perfect and imperfect. It had virtually unknown lead actors (Seo In Gook and Jung Eun Ji) that had that special chemistry that convinced you they had to be friends off the set – if not, real life lovers.

It had a very simple storyline: six high school friends who go through the ups and downs of high school, and once they reach their thirties, two of them are to get married. But which two!? I swear, this was a mystery drama done right, because it certainly kept me on edge. Some of my predictions were right, some of them were wrong. However, in the end it didn’t matter. The most important thing was this drama stayed with me.

I sobbed like a baby with this drama that my pillows became my tissue. I laughed like a lunatic, that made my mother’s head turn curiously over what turned her daughter into a hyena. My heart soared with every new revelation, then deflated when another opportunity was lost by one of the characters. Talk about a freakin’ roller coaster.

It is a timeless drama for me because even though it takes place in the 90’s, it still speaks to the very basic human emotions of passionate fanaticism, love between friends, trust between lovers, and sacrifice between family members. If you don’t know what a Tamagotchi is, you’re missing out you probably still know what it’s like to be obsessed over a game on your iPhone.

Life Lesson: Nothing like a baaaaaaing soundtrack to take the edge off emotional roller coasters.

BIG

I tried. I really really tried. I really really really tried to like this one. I really gave the Hong Sisters a chance to impress me because I have not completed a single one of their series since You’re Beautiful. I thought, “I’m not gonna quit this drama because Gong Yoo‘s in it. It’s all for Gong Yoo and his chocolate abs.”

Wow – I nearly flipped a table after I saw the ending.

Yes – spoilers will be said for this review. The beginning was quite fun, and it set up the drama with an air of mystery. What was the connection between Seo Yoon Jae (Gong Yoo) and Gyung Joon (Shin Won Ho) that led them to switch bodies? What was with all that mysterious talk with Yoon Jae’s mother and the father about not seeing their “other son”? When are Yoon Jae and Gyung Joon going to switch back, and how? What was Yoon Jae going to tell Da Ran (Lee Min Jung) that fateful day of the accident? And most importantly – who is going to win Da Ran’s heart?!

And then Gyung Joon’s body sleeps for the entire series while Yoon Jae’s body/Gong Yoo does all the work in wooing Da Ran and convincing her that he’s the one for her. Despite the fact that he’s really underage.

It was a confusing mess of a drama because I think the Hong Sisters just dug a deeper hole for themselves with every line they wrote for Gyung Joon/Yoon Jae. With every time jump and with every word he says, I as a viewer started to believe that the real Yoon Jae was a cad and a coward, and that Da Ran should end up with the underage Gyung Joon because he was so much more honorable. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but then it made me want to see Shin Won Ho wake up from sleeping and properly take Da Ran’s hand. I wanted Yoon Jae to die… which I’m not exactly sure is what we’re supposed to want happen. It was also terrible in that I never understood how they were going to switch back. Surgeries and going abroad to resolve “body switching” as if it were a disease were talked about constantly. But despite all these possible solutions, we never see the actual switch back. We are told it happens, but when we see Gyung Joon step out of the bus and chase after Da Ran to reunite with her, it’s so clearly Gong Yoo’s body. And Gong Yoo is supposed to be associated with Yoon Jae.

When those last five minutes of the drama rolled around, I was so angry that I spent 16 hours for that kind of pay-off. The drama convinces me that Shin Won Ho’s character is the better one, but gives me Gong Yoo instead. One of the rare times I despised seeing him onscreen. It felt as if by the end of this series, the Hong Sisters didn’t know what to do with their characters or what to do with their plot. Most of the side characters fell flat (as they tend to do) and the resolution still felt unresolved. I personally disliked this drama to the core, because I never felt satisfied watching it. Hong Sisters – you pretty much have three strikes with me.

Life Lesson: Don’t trade souls with your future twin. He might steal your girl.

FAITH

I was so excited for this drama. Lee Min Ho in a historical fantasy with time traveling? Bring it on! The first two episodes were promising enough, and I was particularly excited over how they would fit in Kim Hee Sun’s character Eun Soo in history without changing history – as Dr. Jin had done. In the beginning it was interesting, as Eun Soo had to learn how to make herself clear to people who couldn’t understand her Seoul-isms. It was also interesting in that everything she did didn’t change history, but rather helped make the history happen. Case in point is when she ends up saving the life of young Lee Seong Gye, who historically ends up killing Choi Young (Lee Min Ho) and building up the Joseon dynasty. I found all of this intriguing.

And then we got into a huge power play of “who can win Eun Soo’s heart?” because everyone just wanted to know the future as if she held all the tarot cards. And then the series kind of got boring. And then we never really got anywhere as each time a coup against King Gongmin failed, or each time Eun Soo got close to the secret of her diary and then never really did. For twenty episodes I felt like I was watching a bunch of fight scenes that led to nowhere, and all this talk about a future that never seemed to happen. I had to stare at Lee Min Ho’s atrocious hair (sorry – really didn’t like those bangs) until finally in the last twenty minutes we understood everything that had happened and why it happened to Eun Soo.

I wasn’t as disappointed with this as I was with Big, but I certainly felt cheated because I thought I was going to watch this grand epic historical, only to end up watching a soldier brood over his past wounds and his future lady love. Meh. Blah. Blegh.

Life Lesson: Nothing wins a girl’s heart like a soldier’s honor. 

FULL HOUSE TAKE 2

[DISCLAIMER: I've only seen up to episode 14 at the writing of this review. This is not a full series review.]

Ah – the drama more famous for the hair than for… anything else. At first I tuned in because it was only 30 minutes long. (30 minutes – what’s to lose? It’s like you could watch it while going to work. Or watch it while cooking dinner. Or watch it while in the bathroom.) I didn’t know what to expect, except that I knew it wasn’t going to be that great of a drama. Boy was I wrong – it is 3/4 hilarious, and 1/4 serious. You have ridiculous hairstyles (are matching perms the new it thing?) and ridiculous outfits (who can forget the teddy bear necklace?) with ridiculous egos. If you think that this drama is a blemish on Park Ki Woong’s or Noh Min Woo’s resumes, it’s not. Instead, it shows their versatility as an actor because not only can they be ridiculous and diva-tastic, but they also can commit to it.

The drama is at its best when it is focused on Tae Ik and Kang Hwi’s histrionics. Gosh, the house may have been meant to be “full of happiness” but it’s really a house “full of divas.” Add in an irritating actress Se Ryung, a shouty CEO in Lee Joon, and a spunky hapkido master in Man Ok, and you’ve really got a full house of loud personalities. The drama veered towards melodramatic territory for a bit, and it wasn’t the drama’s strength. However I definitely do appreciate that the drama added depth to Tae Ik and Kang Hwi’s characters. They could have been two-dimensional idols that just wanted Man Ok because she “changed their lives,” but in reality, they both had tortured childhoods that really formed who they are now. It’s not a run-of-the-mill tragic story, but rather it comes up every so often and really ties in well with their present actions and present personalities.

The drama is getting to that frustrating point where you want to shake some sense into Man Ok’s head. So many misunderstandings could be cleared up if she just opened her mouth to speak. She’s getting the hugest personality makeover in the worst way possible, and it coincided with her changing hairdo. Lose the curls, lose the spunk. But since we’re in zany dramaland with this drama that is going to stay predictable, we just have to accept it for what it is. At least we have a catchy OST to go with it too.

Life Lesson: Bromance overcomes bad hairdos. But just barely. 

GHOST

One of the few dramas I enjoyed through and through this year. It was a thriller written up by Kim Eun Hee from Sign, and so I knew right away that I would love it. And she surely delivered. It’s hard to make cyber-terrorism gripping, especially when all the police had to do was sit in front of a computer and either stop a virus or track down the root of a virus. (Wow – typing fast – so thrilling.) So to make up for it, this drama had a really compelling villain in the form of Eom Ki Joon and an early twist involving So Ji Sub and Daniel Choi that kicked everything up a notch from the get-go.

While the characters were all quite endearing (including the usually-bland Lee Yeon Hee) I enjoyed watching them solve the cases week after week the most. It’s quite frightening to see how they were easily able to hack into other people’s accounts just as the criminals did – drama or not. It had a very similar vibe to Sign where you knew who the big bad was, but the Cyber Anti-terrorism team had to find a way to get conclusive evidence to pin the villain down. It was exciting to see them all race against time to get the evidence that could be deleted with the click of a button – even if they were just sitting behind a computer!

I enjoyed Eom Ki Joon’s subtle portrayal of a complex villain who’s not all that he seems to be. On the other hand, So Ji Sub felt too stiff for me, so you could even say he had a very understated performance. But these two men balanced each other out quite perfectly. With twist after twist, there was no better way to start my summer than with a good ole’ thriller.

Life Lesson: Antivirus has the word virus in it. Just sayin’.

HAEUNDAE LOVERS

Talk about poking fun at oneself! This drama was surprisingly written by the same writer for City Hunter. Well, I enjoyed City Hunter so why not this one, right?

It had quite a crazy but interesting premise: workaholic prosecutor Lee Tae Sung (Kim Kang Woo) goes undercover to try and bring down a drug kingpin right after he gets married, but ends up in an accident that leads to a loss of memory. A case of stolen identity results in his family thinking that he’s dead, and Tae Sung finds himself with a new name and hanging around with Go So Ra (Jo Yeo Jung), who’s the daughter of a former gangster in Busan. He ends up falling smack into a war over Haeundae Hotel, where the current hotel president’s wife is trying to make sure that the president’s lost son does not inherit it. Thing is – the president’s lost son is none other than Tae Sung himself. Comedy and a dash of “Romeo and Juliet” ensues as Tae Sung falls in love with So Ra.

It’s not much of a thinking drama as it is a “sit back and enjoy the ride” drama. Everything about it is pretty predictable, and it wasn’t perfect throughout. There were definite plot holes and misunderstandings that occurred on my part because I, as a viewer, was privy to more information than all of the characters knew. That caused a lot of confusion for me because I was constantly wondering, “Don’t you know that already? Oh wait, you don’t, because he didn’t say that to you specifically. He was just talking aloud. In your vicinity.” However, the nice thing about this drama is that the writers and actors made sure that everything stayed zany. This drama could have failed if it didn’t poke fun at itself properly – but it did. All the actors kept up with the over-the-top acting, and the writing was self-aware of copying the usual K-drama tropes, and blatantly owned up to it.

I’m really thankful that this drama was so short, and managed to keep up a zippy pace that didn’t bog down on the melodrama, even though it sometimes felt like certain characters weren’t getting the full treatment, or endings were a bit rushed. But one of the key takeaways in this drama for me was the range in Kim Kang Woo’s acting. This was my first drama watching him, and boy can this man flip his personalities like a switch – which is useful when playing a character with two different identities.

Life Lesson: Amnesia can be such a pain, but on the upside, it can give you a much-needed personality makeover.

HANBANDO / PENINSULA

Oh. My. God. When I first watched this drama in the beginning of the year, I thought it was the worst drama ever. I take it back. It’s one of the worst dramas ever for this year. Why did I stick to watching this? Oh right, because of the potential it had regarding the politics of North-South reunification.

Honestly, I’ll give this drama for having plot, and for trying to achieve something ambitious. However it failed because the drama moved so slowly and it was ridiculously predictable. It kept having Hwang Jung Min’s scientist character Myung Joon go undercover to save his lady love Jin Jae (Kim Jung Eun), who’s always being captured by the North Koreans and tortured under her mother’s orders. Dude – aren’t you trying to, um, run for president?! I thought this drama was about a man’s journey as the president to reunifying the Koreas. Instead, it was a man’s campaign to become president to unify the Koreas. Um… not as exciting as you’d think. I don’t care about how he has to win all of South Korea, who are skeptical that a man who loves a North Korean and avoids war at all cost could be president. (What?! That’s a president I’d like to vote for if the goal is reunification!) I wanted to see him DO something about the reunification.

The drama’s pacing is the worst part of it, because the last episode does the necessary time jump that shows all of our characters doing something towards reunification, while the previous 17 episodes was just a struggle of getting our hero and heroine together. Repetitiveness in this drama made it difficult to get through, and it didn’t quite have the “action-thriller” aspect that I had hoped to get out of it. Beautiful shots, expensive budget, but didn’t live up to its pre-broadcast hype.

Life Lesson: Scientists are just as badass as spies. 

HERO (OCN)

Ah – one of the three OCN dramas I saw this year. Surprisingly, this was the least compelling when compared to Special Affairs Team TEN and Vampire Prosecutor 2. However, it had its own charms – a layabout who gets into an accident, receives a superhero serum, and decides to be a vigilante because heck – why not?!

That’s the charm of Yang Dong Geun, as he’s your perfect anti-hero. He had a great supporting cast with Han Chae Ah as a righteous detective, and Son Byung Ho and Choi Chul Ho as his evil father and brother respectively. This drama was like a version of Batman – if Bruce Wayne had the smart-alecky sense of Spiderman – replete with a dark and despairing ‘Gotham.’ What’s great is that every character is painted in shades of gray. No one is good, but no one is bad either. Every character had their faults; while the father and the brother were both dastardly evil in corrupting the city for their own gain, Heuk Chul was also not innocent because to him, saving other people was just for fun. For me, his loyalty to his corrupt father also showed that he was not going to truly go up against him. He was only going to rankle his father’s nerves, but not really help change society. I

While that sort of hero can be quite uninspiring, the hope by the end of the series is that he will be the hero that the city needs. The drama had the gall to put an imperfect hero in our faces that wasn’t going to be righteous and idealistic right away. I don’t think it’s a drama that merits a sequel, like the other two OCN dramas, but it’s certainly the only one that leaves me feeling like the protagonist in the drama will have the brightest future.

Life Lesson: Don’t do drugs.

I NEED ROMANCE 2012

A worthy sequel to I Need Romance (2011), I Need Romance 2012 showed what happens when you’ve found “the one.” Do you eventually tire of each other? Do you learn from your mistakes and continue to grow and change together? Or do you realize that you’re better off apart? This drama was all about timing; each of those girls met their man at the wrong time. For Yeol Mae (Jung Yumi), it took her a long time before she finally learned what Suk Hyun’s (Lee Jin Wook) quirks were, and by the time she was ready to accept him unconditionally, he was not. It was only when he could accept himself that he could be with her again.

Similarly, for her best friend and shoe designer Jae Kyung, she was having an affair with the man she truly loved but had rejected a marriage proposal from. It was only when she was unafraid of a relationship based on love (and not on money) that she was brave enough to admit she wanted to be with him. And as for the innocent Ji Hee, she met her fated love Tae Woo at the worst possible time – when her then-boyfriend yelled at her for being terrible in bed in front of him! (To her ex-boyfriend’s credit, he thought that Tae Woo couldn’t hear him because he had earbuds on.)

A grown up drama with a harsh look on love, this drama was not as happy as I felt I Need Romance was. It was full of pain, sorrow, and learning from mistakes. It was a very good drama, until the whole pushing back and forth between the leads got a little tiresome towards the end. (“I want her back!” “I don’t want you back!” “I need you back!”) But this just highlighted this drama’s strength: that all the characters had the time to think, reflect, and grow – and become even stronger characters by the end.

Life Lesson: Time heals all wounds – unless you live in a conjoined house. 

THE KING 2 HEARTS

I like this other set of Hong Sisters. I enjoyed their take on how North-South reunification would be like if South Korea was still ruled by a monarchy. Already we are transported into a parallel universe that does not exist, and yet the rules of this world when it comes to diplomacy remains the same. One of my favorite things about this drama was the political-ness of it, because it didn’t try to glaze over the tensions between the two Koreas, as well as the tensions with the rest of the world. It wasn’t afraid to paint other countries in a bad light, especially if realistically speaking they wouldn’t be happy about reunification. It’s all about perspective, and this drama excelled with that.

Lee Seung Gi, I felt, was pitch perfect in this role. He was at turns funny and charming, and then serious and pained. He wasn’t dumb at all, which made things more satisfying because he allowed himself to be constantly underestimated by his enemies. He proved himself to his own staff, to the world, and even to me that he was the ruler South Korea needed at that moment. As for Ha Ji Won, after I got over her accent and girlish voice, I cheered for such a badass female lead that wasn’t afraid to go and save her man, and wasn’t about to sit back and let him do all the work in reunifying the two countries. She was a proactive woman, and most definitely the queen the peninsula needed. See – why couldn’t Hanbando do this!?

As for villains, Yoon Je Moon takes the cake. Even more devious and frightening than his character in Tree With Deep Rootshe sold it as a crazed mad man who childishly wanted to rule the world, and didn’t care what he had to do in order to achieve it. It took all of Lee Seung Gi and Ha Ji Won to equally match the force that is Yoon Je Moon. Such a solid villain and such a grounded plot made this drama a big win for me. Spy Myung Wol and Hanbando couldn’t cover North-South relations right; this drama managed to balance the melodrama and the comedy in just the right way, with the perfect dash of politics to help ground the drama in something we can all relate to.

I can’t end this review without a special shoutout to Lee Yoon Ji (who is the perfect princess in every drama she’s in – 50% sassy, 40% grace, and 10% best sister in the world), and Jo Jung Suk, whose portrayal of the ever loyal bodyguard made his little bromance with the king all that much better. They certainly took the cake when it came to couplings, and I was rooting for them more than I cared for the main pairing.

Life Lesson: Not everything can be solved with a magic trick. Especially by a crazy person.

LOVE RAIN

Oh drama, how slow thou art. I knew what I was sort of getting into because it was directed by Yoon Suk Ho, who did the classic season dramas. You’re bound to get disease, obstacles for the protagonists, a wretched third wheel, and really really really pretty scenery. I felt like I was watching all the season dramas again, as this drama spanned from the winter time to the spring/summer time. I don’t think we ever reached autumn…

I knew I was going to get leads who were so innocent and wistful that you kind of wondered how they stayed so “pure,” and it did happen for the 70’s portion of the drama. Everything dragged on in the 70’s because everyone was too stuffy and formal to say the things they really felt, and then when they wanted to they tried to be the noble one to give the girl away to the friend who liked her. But refreshingly enough we got feisty leads in the present-day portion of the drama.

I enjoyed the first half of the series because the 70’s episodes were beautiful visually, and the present-day generation were more relatable and less innocent. But then we fell into a predictable pattern of “will they or won’t they?” This especially became frustrating because of Jang Geun Suk’s and Yoona’s parents deciding to be together. The children generation kept saying that they’d give up their love for their parents, then go back to not being able to give up on that love. I could literally skip through a bunch of the latter half episodes, and still understood what happened. The love triangle never fully formed in my opinion, and there was an attempt to make a love square (with Seo! In! Gook!) but it never really worked out. The drama was much too predictable – you knew Jang Geun Suk and Yoona had to end up together. I can only give credit to how beautifully this drama was composed, and for making Lee Mi Sook such a sympathetic mom for once. Other than that – snooze fest!

Life Lesson: Who needs Fate when you have a yellow umbrella?

PADAM PADAM

I plunged into this drama headfirst with almost no knowledge of the drama because everyone around me refused to tell me the story for fear of being to spoiler-y. Bah humbug. The story is really about an ex-convict trying to rebuild his life, and he has three chances to make it right.

Moody, dark, but atmospheric, the drama truly focuses on the human spirit and how one’s will can change his or her fate. Jung Woo Sung redeemed himself here after that bit of a trainwreck called Athena, as he showed us the simple heart of ex-murderer Yang Kang Chil who really wanted to leave his past behind. Kim Bum was the angel and fellow inmate Lee Gook Soo, who guided him along the way, knowing certain things before Kang Chil, but also just as confused on how to help Kang Chil get the life he deserves. Jung Ji Na (Han Ji Min) is the love interest, a veterinarian who has a tragic history with Kang Chil (because of course, what melodramatic heroine wouldn’t?) and ends up falling for him.

It’s a drama that I appreciated over time, because while watching the drama I felt constantly frustrated that Kang Chil couldn’t seem to get out of the rut he was in. The main villain Chang Gul was simply a cowardly guy with status, and yet had so much control over Kang Chil’s life. Admittedly towards the end of the drama I was very sick of it and just wanted it to be done. But now with some distance, I appreciate the drama, because Kang Chil never acted out of character; things moved slowly because it took him a while to become the hero we all wanted, but considering his circumstances, it wasn’t like he could become a hero overnight. I now appreciate that he was such a weak character in the beginning, because it shows that no matter who you are, you can take control over your life. You still have power over it.

This drama was his journey in learning that lesson. Padam Padam is a beautiful drama, with the excellent cinematography, the touch of whimsy that never felt too out of place, and the stellar actors who poured out their soul for you. It’s certainly up there on my list for melodramas – and I don’t usually like melodramas.

Life lesson: Kim Bum is an angel.

SPECIAL AFFAIRS TEAM Ten

The grittiest of all the OCN dramas I had seen this year. It is sick, it is raw, it is not going to shy away from crime. And I mean really bloody crime. We start off with such a harrowing case of girls being murdered after being suffocated from duct tape, and we end with that. What makes it similar to Sign or Ghost (in a way) is the overarching plot where the police need to capture one big bad who usually starts off the season. I love stories like that, because while you have the other cases on the side, there’s always still that one big evil person niggling at you in the back of your brain, taunting you to figure out who he is.

The characters ended up being a big draw for me for this drama. Joo Sang Wook is the most moody boss in town as he’s aloof with slightly sociopathic tendencies, and gets a kick out of checking out dead bodies to find out how they died. His team doesn’t quite have that special camaraderie that the team in Vampire Prosecutor has, but they’re a special kind of family that I wouldn’t mind seeing more of. After that, I really enjoyed the story and how everything was so carefully woven together. It was confusing at times, and I had a headache trying to figure out all the clues that I eventually gave up, screaming “Explain the answer in the easiest way possible!” to the computer. But that’s what’s amazing about it – it never assumed the audience was an idiot. If there was a simple case, I felt lucky because less thinking involved when recapping!

For all the crime dramas, this had the most suspenseful ending that merits it a season 2 for sure. True to its nature, it offers twist after twist until you’re not quite sure what to expect. It’s better than some of the cases in Vampire Prosecutor 2 and it also knows how to use the concept of “seasons” to its advantage. Leave them wanting for more, they say. And boy am I bloodthirsty for more on this one.

A complex story filled with rich characters for both the good and the bad, this is not a drama for the faint-hearted. But it sure is satisfying to the bitter end.

Life Lesson: It’s hard to unwrap a cactus from gift wrapping. They prick.  

VAMPIRE PROSECUTOR 2

Vampire Prosecutor 2 held on its own quite well with more intriguing cases and more instances of bromance, but I somehow felt that it was very “been there-done that” sort of drama for me. This season truly upped the stakes with the appearance of “L” as a worthy foe to Min Tae Yeon, and it was amazing to watch Min Tae Yeon’s resolve shatter bit by bit as L attacked everyone close to him. It was bound to happen that Tae Yeon’s vampire alter-ego was going to give him some sort of trouble. But the thing was I felt lost because there was such a disconnect between L and the case-of-the-week. I admittedly felt confused whenever the jumped between Park Hoon’s storyline and Min Tae Yeon, because I couldn’t tell if we were in the past or in the present time.

The drama didn’t get very exciting until towards the end, when all hell pretty much broke loose and everything was fair game for death – including the characters we’ve come to love. I loved seeing Min Tae Yeon trying to be a superhero when he technically can be a superhero, but isn’t really. But the ending was quite frustrating because it just called for a season 3, and I honestly felt like this drama didn’t need anymore seasons. If it had a tighter storyline around L throughout the season, I felt that a lot of questions could have been answered. Instead I was left confused and with more questions.

It’s not a terrible drama, but after expecting a certain quality from OCN dramas with its predecessors, you could say I was a bit disappointed.

Life Lesson: More eyeliner, more badass. Rules of dramaland.

WHAT’S UP

The last of the 2011 musical dramas that ended in 2012, and probably the best. What’s Up followed the dreams of a group of students who wanted to be a star! It’s very similar to You’ve Fallen For Me, and yet it managed to take on a more serious tone, showing the rivalries and friendship that grew out of all these students who had one remarkable professor who made them think about why they were in that school, and to be true to themselves. Only then could they become the best.The stakes were higher in this drama than You’ve Fallen For Me, which was appropriate for college students.

What’s Up is easily one of my favorite dramas this year. I loved this drama for the talent involved. I discovered Jo Jung Seok and his musical greatness, the richness of Im Joo Hwan’s voice, the raw ferocity in Im Joo Eun, the awesome-ness that is Oh Man Suk and the thrill of listening to Daesung. It also had one of the most elusive OST’s for me to access, and therefore I honor this drama to be the song representative for this review of the year. Their songs – renditions of Broadway classics, or purely original – were catchy and lyrical, and were played on repeat for me. The chemistry between the students was wonderful because I really felt that they were their characters. I do believe that Song Ji Na wrote a very solid story because she made the characters rich, considering that she had to juggle up to ten characters and weave together their stories while also showing their growth. With such strong personalities, it’s as if their life stories wrote themselves on the page, and it felt like there was always plenty of material to share.

Even though it was a 20-episode series, I was left wanting for more, wanting for another year with these characters. I kind of felt disappointed when it began to rush on tying up loose ends, and focused more on Im Joo Hwan and Kim Ji Won‘s love story. The drama then became a little more conventional, showing how these two characters were in love, but never really meant to be because of something in the past.

What’s important for me is that it is something I could watch again and again. The drama is about growing up, whether it’s facing your fears, facing your past, or facing your uncertain future. And that is something you never stop doing.

Life Lesson: “You and I” watch dramas in the “springtime” for “those magic changes.”

WILD ROMANCE

Oh Wild Romance – what a wild ride. It’s a typical rom-com where a tomboyish lead (with the hair to match) becomes the bodyguard of a baseball player she hates the most, only to end up winning his heart. Lee Si Young (Eun Jae) and Lee Dong Wook (Mu Yeol) are the bickering couple, and while I didn’t feel like they were “lovers” to me, they certainly had that chemistry that could be likened to a brother and sister’s relationship. It started off conventionally enough, and I never felt a rush to watch the drama. I was mainly interested in the main, dark plot point: who is Mu Yeol’s stalker?

I watched this drama after What’s Up so I was pretty psyched to see Oh Man Seok and Im Joo Eun here. But then, I was a bit disappointed that Oh Man Seok’s character ended up being a bit – dare I say? – dull. He was the forever good guy, which is a good thing considering that Mu Yeol doesn’t have many friends, but he had a character background that could have made him the “jealous best friend” and Oh Man Seok would have portrayed it brilliantly. Save for perhaps Im Joo Eun’s quirky performance (although it wasn’t that quirky) and Kang Dong Ho’s stiff demeanor (Robo-Tae-Han love!), the rest of the supporting cast had pretty bland characters that, though they tried to be interesting and complex, the writing was never quite there to help support that. Jessica was forever an “eyesore” to my screen, as I have no belief that she can really act and was irritated with her and her character for most of the series.

And speaking of the script, I never saw one go off the deep end so oddly like this one. For most of the series, it was pretty straightforward – two people who hate each other will fall for each other while solving the mystery to who is Mu Yeol’s stalker. But in the last three episodes everyone just went into crazy town; episode 14 felt like the writer forgot everyone’s original personalities; episode 15 had improbable events as shit hit the fan; and episode 16 dragged on endlessly as we watched every loose end get tied up, and waited for Mu Yeol and Eun Jae to get together.

Overall, this drama felt like a mixed bag in and of itself. To check it out, really check your brain at the door.

Life Lesson: In dramaland, a K-O is foreplay. 

 
So there’s the year of 2012 in a nutshell for me: some regular hard candies, some chewy ones that get stuck to your teeth, and some smooth, melting chocolate. Thanks to girlfriday and javabeans, I get to share my humble thoughts on some of these dramas. A toast to 2013! May the best be yet to come!

 
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148 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. fishy

    I wanted Yoon Jae to die…

    LOLOLOLOL my thoughts exactly :”””)

    • 1.1 elainestale

      i had to ctrl+f to find this line because i thought you were talking about yoon yoon jae and i was like “WHAT? WHY!!”

      but yes. the younger body could have just died with seo yoon jae’s soul and we would have otp in gong yoo’s body. but then where would the so highly hyped up switch go to? pfft i was so disappointed with Big and its waste of a perfect gong yoo. now we have to wait (hopefully not another 5 years) for a new drama with him in it

      • 1.1.1 KimYoonmi

        That was Yoon Yoon Je. O.o;; Somehow one typo ruled the English-speaking Internet.

    • 1.2 OMG

      this and more things that i have read have made me forever grateful that i didnt watch BIG!

      • 1.2.1 MEalways

        Oh boy… how lucky you are.
        I was lured to watch this because of the casts and the promising story by the writers.

        I ended up with a lot of asking… Why, WHAT? (with bold, exclamation and any signs/expression we can have) and I wanted my sleep-time back!

    • 1.3 luvs

      2012 Kdrama for me was all about King2Hearts…… i learned, i felt, i loved, and i connected with kdrama viewers .
      K2H will be in my all time top ten list.

      I recently watched GIANT ( I know I am a new kdrama fan, so I am still catching up ) – it belongs in my top ten too.

      I haven’t decided which ones to add in my top ten, i am still building my list.

      Currently watching Drama King, and ALice in Cheongdam – i like the characters.

      I am also discovering some great actors …. Kyung Min, Park Sang Min (my favorite character in Giant, he was in God of War as well. I can’t say enough of the veteran actors – the older ones who I see in every drama, almost , and the child actors- they are really good.

      Sorry it is off topic but it is still about kdramas :)

  2. Kayleigh

    Thanks kaedejun. I think I will forever more look at all k-dramas and think about what I can learn from them (which reminds me – I have a lot of catching up to do drama 2012-wise).

  3. Mawiie

    Ha! I loved the life lessons. Who says that you can’t learn about life while watching k-dramas?

    Life Lesson: Don’t trade souls with your future twin. He might steal your girl.

    This made me laugh out loud. And really, it might be the only time I found something related to Big that is not infuriating me ;)

    Thanks for the review Kaedejun!

  4. kakashi

    Thanks for the lessons! They will help for sure in my gutuer life :9

    soooo…. will there be a Season 2 of TEN? I’ve been waiting for the announcement! Nothing so far, or did I miss something?

    • 4.1 mtoh

      I didn’t read anything yet.., but cross fingers!

    • 4.2 kakashi

      that’s meant to be “future life”. no idea what “gutuer” is – and how it sneaked into my post >.<

    • 4.3 dreamandwonder

      I could swear I saw something about a second season on the OCN website a couple months ago, but looking now I don’t see anything. Possibly I’m crazy.

    • 4.4 MsB

      Supposed to be, early next year! My new love!!!

    • 4.5 Anastassia

      I want season 2. The show soooo good.

    • 4.6 peachyogurt

      yes! i too wants second season of TEN. just glad i’m not the only 1.

  5. pogo

    The only one of this lot I’ve seen is Love Rain….which I enjoyed, but ONLY with lots of fast-forwarding to get through the parental bits because GOD were those characters boring in both past and present versions, and the superfluous bits with the non-happening present-day love triangles.

    (I have no shame in admitting that I went into this for Jang Geun-seok, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked Yoona once she was done with the thankless role of 70s Yoon-hee. Also, really gorgeous visuals and decent kissing is a bonus)

    • 5.1 Nespelem

      Absolutely agree with you, Pogo.

  6. pogo

    Oh wait, I’ve also seen Answer Me 1997 – which is retro done right, if anything….that will teach me to have a goldfish memory!

  7. cg

    Great…..another Year In Review :)

  8. baboo

    life lessons made me LAUGH ..but these KILLED me laughing…
    —-Antivirus has the word virus in it. Just sayin’.
    —-Kim Bum is an angel.(ROFL how was that life lesson )..
    i used to read your reviews and recaps .its really wonderful and amazing….

    this comment is to say that, i fell in love with you “sense of humor”

    • 8.1 dbfan

      lol the antivirus joke had me literally laughing on the floor.

  9. joo

    ahh~~ i really enjoyed reading this & loved your last bit about chewiness & chocolate, etc. it’s great. thank you!! ^^*

  10. 10 baboo

    lol correction:-)
    this comment is to say that, i fell in love with your “sense of humor”

  11. 11 Lilian

    I loved King2Hearts too and I applaud the writers for being daring. Not easy to touch on politics. but they really made my heart ache when the couple were split coz of the different idealogies. And even the transition towards love seem believable. And on top of that, we had the bromance.

    Answer 1997 enough said. I agree that it really captured my hear =D

    • 11.1 Lilian

      oops..i meant capture my heart =D

    • 11.2 anonymous

      I also enjoyed K2H and the more I watched it the more I like the drama especially the main lead and second lead.Not a typical k-drama.It was also my first time to watch live streaming even though I don’ t speak korean.I guess I was fully invested in this drama.

      • 11.2.1 Osi

        Me, too. The first drama that I watched live streaming, and I don’t even speak Korean. Even until now, so far, I don’t watch any dramas live streaming after TK2H. After watching it live, I watched it with incomplete subs, then, with complete subs, after that, I rewatched the episodes all over again while waiting for the next episodes. Read the recaps and commented. My sleep, work, and chores, were all in a mess. Ah, I miss those days.

        • 11.2.1.1 queencircles

          reminds me of my sunkyunkwan scandal days. Ah, fond memories. :-) :-) nds

      • 11.2.2 crizzyville

        wee! i can relate to this… for the first time too, i have been watching via stream just a week late (or two) with subs and my, what an experience… even DB has a very active community that time… i love the story, full with suspense, laughs, romance, mystery and action… it’s like a one-stop shop and no boredom, not even a bit… i understand why TK2H didnt rate much in Korea due to politics but us, international kdrama viewers did enjoy it for the global-ness of the stroyline and to some extent, the idealness of how it should it be especially for conflicted nations trying to work together for peace..

    • 11.3 ilikemangos

      ” it didn’t try to glaze over the tensions between the two Koreas, as well as the tensions with the rest of the world.”

      One of the reasons i loved this show, and one of the reasons why it wasn’t as popular domestically.

  12. 12 Peridot

    I really enjoyed “What’s Up.” At twenty episodes, it did seem very short. I am a fan of Lim Ju-hwan and hope that he gets the recognition he deserves upon returning from the army.

    “Big” caused me so much frustration and made me question why I wasted sixteen hours (or maybe fourteen, since I skipped a couple of episodes, but there was no real loss as the plot never developed) of my life. We were presented with interesting questions and possible dilemmas: What makes a person (the physical body or the soul?); what will happen when the two brothers return to their bodies (what will they say to each other, will Kyung Joon forgive his mother, etc), can Da Ran overcome her reservations and fully accept Kyung Joon (since he wasn’t a minor by the time they both started to feel something for each other, I was never uncomfortable at the thought of a relationship between them)? In the end, the drama took the safe (and illogical) way out.

    As for Answer Me 1997, I thoroughly enjoyed its simplicity and heart (even though I think that Joon-hee’s character got the short end of the stick).

    I made myself watch Faith, but never really felt invested in what was happening. The moments that touched me were very few and far in between. I sometimes think about what the show could have been had production never been halted and had the candidates for the main male lead not constantly changed.

  13. 13 Carole McDonnell

    love the bromance hair comment.
    Unfortunately I didn’t see or maybe didn’t finish most of the dramas on this list. Loved Faith, though. Why do i get all googly and gooey when i see any still from Faith?

    I might try to see SPECIAL AFFAIRS TEAM Ten. Sounds really good. Thanks so much for the recap. I think that’s why I ended up loving this blog so much. I happened upon one of your recaps a year or so ago and voila…hooked!

    Thanks for all the great work you guys do!

    • 13.1 MsB

      SPECIAL is dark and definitely not a romance. If you like Vampire Prosecutor, then you will like it.

      • 13.1.1 Carole McDonnell

        I like dark but am not sure if i like dark, dark. If it’s like vampire prosecutor, i should like it. Sometimes I found VP a bit gruesome, but they had more light episodes than really terrifying ones…so I could manage. Thanks.

    • 13.2 owl

      I’m a hardcore Faith fan, too. I’m not sure what to count it as, historical fiction, fantasy time travel, romance – all genres I usually don’t pull toward. But it just worked for me. (LMH and the Wudalchi, need I say more?)

      I’ve even shamelessly thrown out a comment or two about the Goreyo dynasty and it’s famous celedon ware (and wouldn’t I give anything to come across a piece from that period). But my anime-loving friends, whose conversations I don’t always follow, don’t know that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and I think they totally respect me for it – fighting!

      • 13.2.1 Carole McDonnell

        oh woman, you gotta jump on the anime wagon! And yes, the color celadon did seem to pop up a lot on some fine fine vases. It’s called celadonware? Or is it your moniker? Either way, as long as our friends respect our comments (knowledgeable or not) we’re blessed. I’ve thrown out some pretty iffy comments online (and in real life) as well. Fighting.

        I still don’t know why Faith touched me so much.

        • 13.2.1.1 owl

          It is celadon ware, more widely known from China. And I’ve watched Avatar, although I do know enough to realize it is USA made and not what most purists would consider anime, plus Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. Just haven’t gotten into them as regular series, mostly because I’m afraid I will be sucked into a black hole and lose all sense of time and responsibility. Which has practically already happened with kdramas.

          Back to Faith (always)- doesn’t LMH’s voice do something to you? Maybe that is part of the charm and draw-a-bility of his films – aside from eye candy and that boyish grin (drifting away . . .)

  14. 14 Daisy

    Love rain was horrible period.

  15. 15 Noemi

    Really glad to read your comments on What’s Up! Definitely one of my favorites of the year too. I almost didn’t watch it because it’s one of those dramas that fly under the radar, but I’m so glad that I did! I agree though, I think it could’ve been longer, so the end wouldn’t have seemed so rushed.

    Oh, and “Life Lesson: Nothing like a baaaaaaing soundtrack to take the edge off emotional roller coasters.”
    This made me laugh :) The first couple times I heard the baaaaing in episode 1, I was very confused, but then it really grew on me. Also one of my favorite dramas of the year–maybe even my top favorite.

    • 15.1 anotheraddict

      I’m happy to see What’s Up getting some love, too. It had some obvious flaws but when I look back on this year’s dramas, I realize that it has that “stickiness” factor for me. Just like its characters, it was a diamond in the rough and I’m full of fondness for it. But What’s Up, what’s up with your elusive soundtrack? It was awesomesauce.

  16. 16 linda

    Your life lesson comment is hilarious.

  17. 17 OMG

    thanks to this review i have added Special Team Affairs Ten to my ever growing list of kdramas

    • 17.1 Anastassia

      You should watch it, it was veryyyy good.

    • 17.2 peachyogurt

      i admit i watched it cuz of joo sang wook’s in it, but in the end i fell in love with the show. i like criminal minds since ever, so TEN is like korean version of that. TEN = joo sang wook, criminal minds = matthew gray gubler. me = ogling.

  18. 18 John

    Re: Lee Mi Sook such a sympathetic mom in Love Rain. She had an almost terminal case of Noble Idiocy.

    I prefer the heel on whells mon she portrays in Can We Get Married.

    • 18.1 John

      Let’s try that again.

      Hell on Wheels Mom. That’s better.

      • 18.1.1 Dorotka

        I have a love-hate relationship with them.
        But they do love their children.

    • 18.2 owl

      You’re right on @ Lee Mi Sook, John. If she would have moved any slower in Love Rain her screen time would have been still shots. Too sensitive, self-sacrificing and a bit boring.

      In CWGM she is not very classy, says what she wants, and doesn’t have time for nonsense niceties when life is demanding and hard. Outa my way mom. GO!

  19. 19 mskololia

    Thanks Kaedejun!

    The only drama on your list that I actually watched was SPECIAL AFFAIRS TEAM Ten. Looking forward to season 2 in 2013 (I hope).

  20. 20 Annie

    Does Lee Si Young’s face look especially plastic to any of you? I’ve always thought it had a stretched quality to it that seemed way too unnatural.. or maybe I’m just being mean today. *shrug*

    • 20.1 Ara

      I hate to say it but… yes. She’s still a good actress and a kickass boxer!

  21. 21 Noelle

    Oh Wild Romance, I had such hopes. I don’t remember why I did though? Weird. But the hopes were there and so was the bitter result. The only good thing was the BFF and her relationship with Robo. Love those two.

    • 21.1 MsB

      They could have been a drama by themselves and I would have loved it! BFF and Robo!!

    • 21.2 anonymous

      I did enjoy this drama though I wouldn’t watch it again.

      • 21.2.1 ashura

        Same here. I enjoyed it while I was watching it. Followed it till the end cos I loved Lee Dong Wook In Scent of a Woman and found Lee Si Young really cute. Didn’t rush to watch it every week but always watched it once translations were out. Not bad, but won’t rewatch.

    • 21.3 AnotherFan

      Think we need some positive voters for Wild Romance. I actually enjoyed it quite much. It was definitely different and pretty refreshing in many ways and I like the whole suspense-y vibe weaving throughout the thing. It’s not your typical rom-com if you let the title fool you ;-)

    • 21.4 MEalways

      I enjoyed Wild Romance, even to Jessica’s character.
      Yes, most idols couldn’t act, but I believe in giving anyone an opportunity and second chance to be better.

      I loved Robo very, very, very much, with his liking on Hanbok (although to be honest, I’m not into Hanbok as he was). I also wished that his character in the drama got more times and got develop into something solid.

      I did not regret watching it, and oh… my spouse also loved it. We watched together and laughed a lot together. I cried when they killed the cat (that was NOT good, never ever ever do that again…), because I also lost my beloved cat.

      I fell in love with Lee Si Young since she MC in Entertainment Weekly. I had a secret wish that she and Shin Hyun Joon can be a couple, and this is the only couple in K-Entertainment I ever ship. I love when they bickering to each other or when she jabbed him… or when he came unnoticed when they interviewed her…

      She is good.
      I wish her success, and she can join the boxing national team… (although that means she won’t be able to act in any drama soon…)

    • 21.5 ladida

      I love all the characters in Wild Romance, I just hated the story, and only when it started revolving around Jessica. And the identity of the stalker was so obvious. But Lee Dong Wook and Lee Shi Young? They are so good at comedy, with their ridiculous facial expressions and physical dexterity. I still love the scene where she jumps on him and he just walks away like he gives up, with her still clinging to him. And Kim Dong Ah with her porn videos and making The Robot sweat bullets? PERFECTION! Every scene between them was glorious and they’re actually one of my favorite couples, which says a lot, considering they’re the second leads.

      • 21.5.1 Gasenadi

        Yes, I enjoyed Wild Romance more than I expected. So much so, that I became so invested in her character that I bawled every time I saw her squelching her love for the male lead. Her tough demeanor and tomboyishness made it that much more touching, to me at least. And the funny parts were VERY funny! Glad it got a mention.

  22. 22 SoyB

    Your life lessons were quite funny… thanks!

  23. 23 Saima

    LOVED What’s Up for many reasons. A few would be that I discovered JJS (I secretly wanted him to star in the Joo Won spy drama :'() & Daesung…which eventually made me check out BigBang. The rest as they say is history!! :D

    TEN was o.k. for me…it started out great. Since am a procedural junkie only a few cases were memorable. Still waiting for the sequel. I may not remember a lot about this show but I remember that cliffhanger and it was GOOOOD!

    I did enjoy OCN’s God’s Quiz series a LOT. Marathoning this series was such a joy…not only did the show get darker & Dr. Han’s character become more complex with each successive season, it also made me a RYU DEOK HWAN fangirl!! Gomawo, Show! <3<3<3

    Awesome review, Kaedejun! Thanks.

    • 23.1 momosa

      I did the same thing after hearing Daesung in What’s up. He is amazing, he can really sing.

  24. 24 MariD

    I still get angry when I think of Big. Those were 16 ( 15, I skipped an episode) that I could had been a sleep!!!! Soo much potential!! The only good things about it where Goon Yoo & Suzy. I know some of you all hate Suzy. She may not be the best actress yet, but she really gives it her all and has improve a lot since DH. Plus she’s soo pretty. How can people hate her??

  25. 25 Quiet Thought

    My some-time policy of only watching the early episodes of Kdramas seems to have paid off handsomely this year. I enjoyed all the characters in Wild Romance except Jessica’s. She needs to fire her agent AND her acting teacher. No way she should have been expected to pull off that part. Dropping the series at Episode 12 paid off. It was obviously just stalling for time because it didn’t have a clue as to how to wrap up. Faith was also obviously spinning its wheels after the first half dozen episodes. It was just painful to watch some competent actors and fine costumes trapped in a series that was so under-produced it sometimes looked like was staged for the tourists at at a local historical museum. You expected to see the characters posing for Selcas with high school kids on a day trip.

  26. 26 Cath

    I can so relate with your review.

    I may agree or not agree on everything you said. Even so i loved it.

  27. 27 queencircles

    I really enjoyed what’s up. Jo Jung Seok is fantastic. I’m glad you posted this song, cause the ost is soooo friggen elusive. I enjoyed this show the whole way through, though I agree with you that it was rushed at the end. It had a serious tone, it was also strangely light in tone as well. It felt real, and not annoyingly melo. It was a thoroughly enjoyable drama.

    I can’t say enough how much I LOVE Jo Jung Seok.

    • 27.1 queencircles

      Oh Man Seok and Im Joo Eun knocked it out of the park too. Can’t forget that

      What a great show. Hilarious and moving. Gah, I’m getting nostalgic.

  28. 28 ninji

    I’ll join all the other ones and give a big thanks for the lessons – that’s the first thing I read. ^^

  29. 29 redfox

    Only watched Love Rain ( till ep 12 I think) and I blanked it out cause every time it is mentioned I remember the snow and Japan and that I can never afford to go there. life is unfair. I wanna see diamond snow too.

  30. 30 Jinny

    Glad you wrote about What’s Up, I feel like I watched it so long ago but it was definitely an awesome drama! You ended and started this post with my two favorite dramas of 2012 heh. I’m just beginning to see how writers and their previous works influence (or completely do not influence) whatever drama they’re writing and dang it is really interesting…I definitely had no clue the writer of City Hunter wrote Haeundae Lovers; they were so different (although I also did not like City Hunter a lot because of, IMO, the very very laggy last 4 eps). Thanks for the review! :D

  31. 31 crazedlu

    Hear hear!

  32. 32 pigtookie

    My favorites too :) What’s Up is still fairly memorable for me almost a year later. That’s a great song, I cheered when I heard the beginning of it – Jo Jung Seok is fantastic and has so many talents.

    and baaaaaah <3

  33. 33 queencircles

    I think I’ll comment on every one of these year end reviews about how much of a funsuck Big was. Such a disappointment, whenever I think about it I feel like cracking skulls.

    But thanks for the review! I didn’t see many of these (only 4 out of the 15), but your work and your opinion is appreciated!!

    • 33.1 AnotherFan

      Woo, skull-cracking, that sounds pretty scary :-) But I am with you on the disappointment part – huge! Maybe I will join you in the cracking.

  34. 34 lemonade candy

    I agree with most of your points. big’s ending ruin it all for me… and love rain was.. meh…

    think I’ll watch Padam Padam and Haeundae Lovers after finals…

    • 34.1 OMG

      uuuuu Padam Padam is good, u wont regret it…..

    • 34.2 Gasenadi

      Please, give Padam, Padam a chance. One of the most underrated dramas ever. The life lesson in the review was cute, but as Kaedejun says, those lessons become more and more apparent AFTER the show’s over and the memories just won’t die!

  35. 35 Faranak

    Woah! Kaedejun,i excatly think like you! :-*

  36. 36 DayDreamer

    Thanks for the review. Although, honestly, out of all the shows mentioned here, I only watched Vampire Prosecutor 2. All I want to say to that is, they better make a much better sequel to 2nd season.

  37. 37 kjlover

    OMG i love the review u did for What’s up! totally agree with you.. that drama is not boring at all omG it has everything in it.humour, saddness, everything.. i love it andlove watching the shy moments where daesung is scared but baimn become hades!! u

  38. 38 Lilly

    Ghost was a great show that I would have missed if I had not been reading dramabeans. TY for that.

  39. 39 Mystisith

    “Padam Padam is a melo for people who don’t like melos.” *Raise my hand*: I hate 90% of the melo production but this one is quite incredible.
    And I agree about What’s up? and TEN being awesome dramas.

    • 39.1 Fab

      Gah I love Padam Padam but I can’t bring myself to finish it- got 4 episodes left… Ottekeotteke

  40. 40 Lilly

    Is there a vote for best OST of the year?
    I really love Touch and it added to its drama a lot I think.

  41. 41 owl

    Loved the life’s lessons theme – highly entertaining!

    I’ve spent last week back in high school with HS2013 and Answer Me, 1997. Had NO IDEA how much I’d love AM1997 and marathoned it in two 8-hour nights. It was so easy to watch. Wow. Bestest and hottest confession. Best bromance. Best romance. Best other bromance. One of the best endings. The story and acting made me happy. I was totally satisfied, aahhhhhh.

    High school is the one thing that a huge % of people have in common – and I think that is why high school kdramas that are done well are so “been there, done that” nostalgic. SOooo, guess what my catch-up kdrama is for this week? Dream High, what else? Answer Me 1997 got me on a roll!

  42. 42 Fab

    I can go through a lot of bad dramas for the sake of an actor/ress, but OMG I am glad I’ve only burned my hands on BIG. Faith, Rain, Crazy and Full House are a BIG no.

    Thanks for the life lessons!

  43. 43 owl

    I’m a hardcore Faith fan, too. I’m not sure what to count it as, historical fiction, fantasy time travel, romance – all genres I usually don’t pull toward. But it just worked for me. (LMH and the Wudalchi, need I say more?)

    I’ve even shamelessly thrown out a comment or two about the Goreyo dynasty and it’s famous celedon ware (and wouldn’t I give anything to come across a piece from that period). But my anime-loving friends, whose conversations I don’t always follow, don’t know that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and I think they totally respect me for it – fighting!

  44. 44 owl

    oops, sorry 43 ended up in two places.

  45. 45 Dorotka

    Thanks. I like the alphabetical order :-)
    From your list I only watched Answer Me 1997 (loved, loved, loved), Big (loved Kyung Joon, hated the end) and King 2 Hearts (what an emotional ride with plenty of deep and touching relationships… I still love the most Hang Ah’s father).

  46. 46 Daragon

    I have to admit the dramas I was very excited to watch (Big and Faith) really let me down. If not for Gaksital and Queen In-Hyun I would not have even bother with anymore k-drama. Thanks for your review though and I think you deserve a hug for all the crappy dramas that you ended up watching this year!! May next year bring on better shows!!!

  47. 47 Nallali

    -I quit BIG halfway thru…WTF???
    -Am taking a break from FULL HOUSE 2 for a bit cuz watching the madness in quick succession just might require me to ‘check my brain at the door!
    -FAITH wasn’t the best but i still enjoyed it, massively
    -PADAM PADAM i might have to go back to it, watched only 2 eps and couldn’t go on (plus i wasn’t familiar with HJM (rooftop prince) then)
    -I will never watch LOVE RAIN-don’t have that kinda energy on reserve tbh plus i think the collective sentiment is, it sucks!!!
    -TEN, VP2, GHOST, AM1997, K2H were spot on, magnifique!
    -The rest-so so, comme ci comme ca

    Looking forward to 2013…Flower Boys anyone :)

  48. 48 bim2

    Cheers for What’s Up ^^ for the best drama of this year ^^~

  49. 49 Ash

    I can’t think of a single other drama that made me want to go out and punch a puppy quite like Big did. My life lesson from that one? Never watch a Hong sisters’ drama until it’s finished airing.

    But on the brighter side: Yay, What’s Up! One of my first dramas of the year, and I still love it ridiculously. So underrated it makes me sad.

    I’ve been meaning to go back and give Padam Padam another shot. Could anyone vaguely spoil me for the ending? I don’t want/need detail, but if someone could tell me where it falls on the heartwarming-to-soulcrushing spectrum, I’d really appreciate it.

    And Vampire Prosecutor 2 *is* more of the same, but as of episode 8, I love the same that it’s more of. No complaints here.

    • 49.1 Mystisith

      Padam padam ending: Not depressing but realistic. Meaningful and poetic in my opinion.

      • 49.1.1 Ash

        Thanks! It’s one of those dramas that doesn’t get talked about much, so I never really got a sense of how it turned out. There are worse ways to go than meaningful and poetic. :)

        (Apologies if the clues were there in the review above. Didn’t want to read too closely in case it got specific about what happens.)

    • 49.2 Dewo

      I recommends Padam padam. It end beautifully and encouragingly.

      • 49.2.1 Ash

        Thank you! I’m definitely going to go back to it when I have a gap in the drama schedule.

  50. 50 JC

    I totally agree with most of your commentary (Ghost was probably the most underrated drama of this year), and even on the dramas where I would beg to differ, I think the points you make are spot on. ^^

    The one drama for which I’d probably disagree is What’s Up. I had such high hopes for this drama! And the first half was really good, and I pretty much watched it all in two days. But then the second half started to drag, and the both the lead girl and the villainous one started to really get on my nerves– they were just both so irritating, in different yet annoyingly similar ways. I ended up shipping the side couple of Oh Man Suk and Im Joon Eun’s characters way more than the main couple, since although I loved the main guy, Kim Ji Won’s character/acting (still not sure which) was just too grating. I ended up dropping it at around episode 12? I might go back and watch it because I did love most of the males in the drama, but meh… I’ll have to ignore the female half of it to do so. :P

    • 50.1 Annie

      Why oh why doesn’t Im Joo Eun have her own drama yet??!!

    • 50.2 Danna

      , I feel the exact same way about What’s up!!…like word to word everything that you said…lol….I also dropped the show at exactly ep 12…I just wasn’t interested in anyone’s story except for those of 2 ppl (Im Joo Eun’s and Jo Jung Suk’s) and they just werent getting enough screentime by that point…plus the angst between the lead couple was getting on my nerves as I could see where it was going from a mile and a half (you killed my dad who killed your blah blah) and don’t even get me started with the acting from half the female cast

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