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Cheers to Dramaland 2013 [Year in Review, Part 1]

Another year has flown by, and it’s time to look back, reminisce, and assess how 2013 treated us in dramaland. And in taking a trip down memory lane (sure it’s a short lane, but so’s the memory), it strikes me that 2013 was pretty good in churning out a steady diet of watchable dramas, but a little stingy on the standouts. Which is to say, there were many, many dramas I enjoyed (including some that were so flawed that there was no reason to have enjoyed them as much as I did), but few if any that I really loved.

In my very unscientific approach to judging a year in dramaland, I generally feel that if a year brings me at least one awesome drama that gets me in both the head and the heart, it’s been a satisfying year. By that criteria, I’ll have to say 2013 falls a bit short of drama excellence, because I missed having that mind-and-body absorption into a drama and its world. Yet there were enough solid offerings to keep me well entertained, so I can’t be too disappointed.

And yes, there were some stinkers too, but that’s what man invented liquor for. So grab a drink, raise your glass, and join me in looking back on the year that was. (If you don’t see your favorite drama in this review, there’s a good chance it’ll be covered in the upcoming reviews. We’ve done our best to cover as much as possible, we swears. We have the dark circles to prove it.)

SONG OF THE DAY

Suspicious Housekeeper OST – “First Love” sung by Kim So-hyun [ Download ]

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So. What’s your poison?

CELEBRATORY DRINKIN’
 

Nine: Nine Time Travels

Raise your glass of: Single malt scotch. Complex, layered, and a little bracing.

Hands down, Nine is dramaland’s best take on the time-travel premise (and we have had many to compare against). But more than being head and shoulders above the other Korean time-travelers, I’d argue that Nine, with its intricate and intelligent handling, is one of the best onscreen explorations of time travel, period.

Where other dramas often relegate the time travel element to role of narrative tool—a reason to kick off a romance, for instance, or pluck our fish out of water—Nine put the time travel front and center and built a complex mythology with rules, complications, and consequences fully thought out. Sharp and smart, the plot kept the gears in our brains turning and our worry meters dialed up to ten at the hero’s ever-tangling predicaments, making for a suspenseful and often unpredictable watch.

While there are dramas that try to outsmart audiences as a gimmick (withholding info or deliberately being contrary), Nine outsmarted us just by being inherently smart. And the show assumed I was smart, too, never talking down to its audience. The details were laid in thoughtfully, but it wasn’t so caught up in its own cleverness that it became incomprehensible to the average viewer, which is something that shows like Lost couldn’t always manage. Nine provided a good balance between an accessible story and a complex framework holding it up, so that it could be enjoyed on multiple levels.

It wasn’t a flawless show (though it’s still on a shortlist of the year’s best-executed), and neither was it very fast; even when the story picked up steam, it didn’t actually move very quickly—the relationships played out in somewhat leisurely fashion. It’s to the drama’s credit that every development was wrought with intrigue despite that; sometimes the fallout was more interesting than the conflict itself. The drama wasted nothing on filler, giving us lean, economical storytelling with tight internal logic.

I came away from Nine with admiration for its intellectual streak and awe at the deftness of its directing, which kept me happily engaged on a mental level and on the edge of my seat through all the unexpected twists and turns. And while I’d classify it more as a cerebral treat than a gooey emotional one, that doesn’t mean it was without emotion; it was, however, refreshing for the brain to get as much a workout as the heart.

 

Master’s Sun

Raise your glass of: Makgulli. Sweet, fizzy, comforting.

Perhaps Master’s Sun wasn’t the Hong Sisters at the pinnacle of their writing game, but they have bounced back from recent missteps and toned down some of their excesses, which made this series a solid return to form. Past dramas have showcased the Hongs’ tendency to take their wordplay and jokes a beat too far; in Master’s Sun, they showed a restraint we’d not seen before. Sometimes a joke can be just a joke, and they finally got the memo, toning down that frantic impulse to turn everything a metaphor, and then make all those metaphors collide into a supernova of tongue-twisting semantic gymnastics.

While the drama didn’t have quite the fast-flying dialogue or addictive punch of their past shows, it drew me in with its slower burn and the fantastic chemistry between Gong Hyo-jin (so relatable and winsome) and So Ji-sub (hilarious and absurd, but played with a thread of longing that was just lovely to see). Thus while Master’s Sun employed a more sedate pace, it offered a nice change from the breakneck speed of past dramas—I got to enjoy moments a little longer before zipping along to the next joke. Not to mention: Skinship as a legitimate plot device? Who knew! (Also, this must become A Thing.)

The ghosts of the week could be hit or miss, and the drama was the better for dropping the episodic ghost cases once the central loveline was in full swing. For instance, the hero being haunted (literally) by a past love was a key point of his character, but the drama tended to slow when his ghost backstory stepped to the fore, marking one of the show’s less successful handlings.

Not that ghosts on their own were a detractor. I loved that ghost-seeing was an intrinsic part of who our heroine was, so the conflict went deeper than “Make ghosts go bye-bye.” Was there a way to live without being forever haunted, and if not, could she be her own person anyway? And while the hero’s hot, hot body conveniently provided a safe haven from her unwanted gift, it was at best a stopgap measure, a band-aid to deal with the problem right now without fixing the source of the issue. So agency and identity were very much tied into the paranormal conceit, which makes one of the year’s more thoughtful and complex explorations of an otherworldly device.

 

Two Weeks

Raise your glass of: Soju, preferably in shot form. To take the edge off the nail-biting.

Two Weeks marks the second year in a row that Lee Jun-ki put in a strong performance in a solid show that nevertheless didn’t quite garner the popularity it deserved. The condensed-time thriller wasn’t a flop—it had a modest fanbase and drew mostly positive responses—but felt underrated anyway, considering how well-written its thriller plotline was and how strongly it kept up its brisk pace.

Careful plotting was one of Two Weeks’ greatest assets, because it doled out its story in a consistent series of payoffs and setbacks, testament to a well-planned plot. The live-shoot never betrayed the drama’s narrative integrity, and we never felt like the drama was scrambling to pull twists out of a hat; the twists were set in place from the outset, which is probably why I never feared that the show was about to take an obvious dive in quality, no matter how tight the shooting schedule became.

I have to give Two Weeks serious props for daring to make its hero genuinely unpalatable at its outset, which was ballsy—going too far could endanger our inclination to root for him. On the flipside, holding back would have shortchanged his redemption arc, which in turn would’ve defanged his gratifying turnaround. We didn’t merely want to see a guy clearing his name after being beaten by the system; we wanted to see him change and become the better man in the process, and Tae-san earned every bit of his redemption. The show took care to explain his bad behavior, but to its credit the hero didn’t shy away from taking responsibility for his actions, regardless of whatever extenuating circumstances led him to them.

Two Weeks also succeeded in making the hero’s flight from justice feel harrowing, and there were moments I had no idea how Tae-san was going to get himself out of his fix. The writing deserves credit for maintaining a relentless pace that made us feel like we were on the run with the hero, frantically thinking up desperate schemes to save our skin along with his. Perhaps it’s because he was no brainy genius who could easily outmaneuver his chasers that his victories felt so triumphant, and we saw the spark in his eyes flickering back to life after lying dormant for so long. After wallowing for years in defeat and purposelessness, our hero plugged into his own life in his lowest moment, and I couldn’t NOT root for a guy who’d finally figured out that life is worth fighting for. Would that we all knew that secret.

 

Mandate of Heaven

Raise your glass of: Long Island Iced Tea. So many shots of different things. But tasty!

I have a lot of warm thoughts for Mandate of Heaven, which was an example of a fusion sageuk that knew when to draw upon real historical facts to enhance the story it wanted to tell, without going to either extreme of being shackled to historical record or disregarding it willy-nilly. The drama set its characters in a political conflict that is fairly well-known, then layered on its own interpretations; thus it didn’t greatly diverge with what we knew about this slice of history, but still did the work of fleshing out the characters’ motivations and conflicts.

Though the one-sentence logline is nearly identical to that of Two Weeks, the two shows are distinct entities, and not just because one takes place in contemporary times and the other in the Joseon era. Mandate of Heaven was the warmer, friendlier version of the framed-fugitive story (Two Weeks was the darker, suspenseful one), allowing its beleaguered hero refuge in a growing circle of allies to back him in his desperate plan to clear his name. Not only did those side characters provide a much-needed dose of levity amidst all the court intrigue and coup plots, they became a highlight of the show and often even outshined the hero.

It’s a shame that the lead actor (Lee Dong-wook) ended up being the show’s weakest link, and he fell flat pretty spectacularly. It didn’t help that he lacked any sort of spark with his love interest (Song Ji-hyo), the two of whom were morally upstanding people with righteous hearts who made for boring television. Thankfully the love story wasn’t the focus; the driving force was always the father-daughter love story, and there the connection held strong. It’s a lucky thing that the drama also had a steady stream of engaging personalities on the side, ready to add charisma and humor to the proceedings. (A few standouts: Song Jong-ho as the fugitive-chaser-turned-ally, Im Seul-ong as the lonely prince, Kwon Hyun-sang as the devoted bandit leader.)

Mandate of Heaven was one of the prettier dramas of the year, thanks to that gorgeous camera, and with its steady escalation of conflict, the show mixed humor with thrills and intrigue in a skillful combination. It didn’t reinvent the wheel, but it kept it moving with dexterity.

 

Answer Me 1994

Raise your glass of: Egg nog. Hearty and substantial. A little much.

I’m in a strange place with this show, which is a few weeks shy of its wrap-up, which makes an overall review difficult to write as I’ve yet to come to terms with how I feel about it all. (And likely will not have a fully formed conclusion until it actually ends.) The experience of watching Answer Me 1994 has been a bit of a roller coaster, because while I very much love many aspects about the show, I also have significant dissatisfactions with it. Answer Me 1994 is like a prime cut of meat, cooked to perfection, making your mouth water—and then you bite in and get a mouthful of fat. You’ve gotta trim that sucker, chef! Otherwise it doesn’t matter how awesome the rest is, because the excess is getting in the way.

After the massive success of Answer Me 1997 last year, which snuck up on everybody to become a sleeper hit, going into this series my question was whether it would retain the witty writing and heart-feels of the first drama, and if so, how it would set itself apart. And despite a few jarring moments early on where 1994 did feel rather familiar (repeat castings, reuse of the same sound effects, the same flashback structure and “Who’s the husband?” mystery), it did succeed in creating its own distinct characters and a world that felt every bit as real as the 1997 world.

I’d argue that 1994 beats 1997 in emotional warmth and lovable characters (especially the supporting ones), which is probably why I was drawn to this story more than I had been last year. However, I will say that it has been the less satisfying watch for me, in story and overall execution. Apart from the meandering episodes that take forever to get to the point, 1994 commits a fatal flaw: It lacks follow-through. Scenes are routinely built up to a climax, only to zoom forward weeks or months, thus depriving us of the fall-out or reaction and bypassing huge narrative moments. I suspect this is at least partly to preserve the husband mystery, but it cheats us of developments that are frankly pretty vital.

So while 1997 never had my heart, 1994 did—which it jerked around too much until my feelings went sour. I’m not sure which is better. It says a lot that even with several large gripes, I still come away from this drama loving all the characters, who feel fleshed out and real, like people whose lives we get to peek into rather than fictional creations of actors and writers.

Go Ara hasn’t been known for her strong acting in the past, but she also hasn’t been this good before—she pours herself into Na-jung with commitment, wearing her character’s emotions on her sleeve like they’re her own. Secondary characters are all distinct and endearing, and the love triangle has been so effective as to cause wars among fans, which is (glass half full!) at least proof of its efficacy. Not that I blame either ship’s side for being so devoted, as both Jung Woo and Yoo Yeon-seok are earning every bit of the love being sent their way for their sensitive, nuanced interpretations of their characters. The drama ends in a couple weeks, and in addition to hoping we all survive the husband wars, I’m crossing my fingers that the show gets back on track with what it does best, which is not about sending us sly winks about a mystery, but all about depicting their characters with thoughtfulness and care.

 

I Hear Your Voice

Raise your glass of: Bloody Mary. Spicy and salty with a kick.

Although the main character of I Hear Your Voice is presumably the hero who can hear your voice, for me this show was really all about Lee Bo-young. Not to sell Lee Jong-seok short, who was no slouch as the stubborn, strong-willed young man with the unwavering sense of justice—it’s just that the heroine was the one who breathed life into the show with her strong personality, hilarious sardonic attitude, and dramatic trajectory.

I love that the heroine was allowed to be a bratty, snarky woman who was in no way held up to (and constrained by) traditional drama characterizations of ideal femininity. She got to be delightfully bitchy and jaded and wasn’t painted as a terrible person for it; it was just one facet of her personality, just as it was part of her personality to be a monster slob and careless cook. She was refreshing and awesome, and dramaland could really use more characters like her, as well as more relationships like the one between her and her childhood antagonist. Their grown-up rivalry became something much more meaningful than the standard expected clash between bitchy females, and I was thrilled that for once a relationship between two strong-headed women at professional odds with each other was still portrayed in a positive light.

The plot itself was a little hole-y at moments, and there are still unanswered questions I wish they’d addressed. (Like how Su-ha gained his ability to read minds, then lost it, then gained it again.) But I Hear Your Voice was the best kind of fast-paced, driven by strong character developments as well as convincing external forces. And you don’t get more convincing than a homicidal maniac out on the loose determined to kill you.

Speaking of whom, yes the villain was outrageous, but I appreciated that at least he was a vastly entertaining one. If we must put the main characters under this ax of potential life-threatening danger, then I want to at least feel the weight of that threat. With this villain the threat felt real, and you know, that just made it extra-fun to force the leads to live together. We’re savvy enough as viewers to recognize a flimsy excuse for cohabitation when we see one, but if the drama can at least go through the legwork to make the reason convincing, we can enjoy the payoff all the more. Wink-wink. Snerk.

I’ll admit that I’m not such a fan of noona romances that I’ll feel an automatic draw to them, so I wasn’t entirely sold on Voice’s pairing. I felt they had wonderful rapport as roommates and longtime friends, but I never quite felt the romance, and perhaps as a corollary to that the drama never quite had my heart, either. I realize this puts me rather on the outside of the fandom, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t a fan. It just means I’ll let y’all do the fighting over the young adoring puppy, and I’ll be over there waiting for Oppa.

 

BEER GOGGLES TO BLUR THE FLAWS
 

Suspicious Housekeeper

Raise your glass of: Chardonnay. Serious and dry. Hint of sweet.

Suspicious Housekeeper snuck up on me, but once I got a taste of its darkly dry tone, I was intrigued. It wasn’t a straight-up melodrama, nor was it black comedy or outright mystery, though it had those elements. It was both coolly detached and heartwarming, and the line it walked between those was what gave it its unique atmosphere.

At the center of the story was Choi Ji-woo as the suspicious housekeeper, whose robotic demeanor and superhuman competence roused curiosity—who was this woman, and what was her story? Was she even human? Were we going to get paranormal explanations, or were we dealing strictly in the real, material world?

It’s this angle that gave the drama its fresh feel, because the steadfastly unemotional housekeeper provided a mystery we were eager to unveil. She also presented the ideal foil for the family she came to work for, her uber-efficiency and no-nonsense personality a stark contrast to their messy, confused, emotional tribulations. The story slowly grew out of that initial coldness as the family bonded and rebounded from its earlier setbacks, but even then the show retained its cool, slightly eerie tone, which kept it from veering too sappy. That was a welcome approach (I enjoyed a drama dealing in subdued emotions for once), though I could see the potential for frustration over its constantly even-keel tone.

I’d argue that the drama could have been even more compelling had they played more with its sardonic streak and dry sense of humor, because Bok-neyo was a fascinating new type of character for dramaland. Frankly I love that Choi Ji-woo took on a role like this after such a long run dominating as a melo queen—she had a wonderful handle on her character’s trajectory, playing the repressed emotion and glimmers of feeling with carefully calibrated control. She never fully lost her robotic mannerisms or melted into a warm, inviting character, but we were able to see, gradually, past the outer layer to the person underneath.

The drama did veer a bit extreme once it brought in the housekeeper’s past demons, and the tone threatened to tip into melodramatic waters. It was to the drama’s benefit that it maintained its cool undertone despite that shift, to temper what could have become makjang excess.

The housekeeper wasn’t a mere deux ex machina, either, and found herself unexpectedly the target of others’ helping hands, a strange position for somebody who’s spent so much time being the efficient helper. I didn’t want to see a mystical know-it-all swoop in to fix problems and put a broken family back together, because then she’s just playing god, and that’s not interesting. I appreciated that her presence spurred the family toward understanding, but once they were on back on solid ground, they took it upon themselves to help her right back, however much she resisted that interference. Healing is a two-way street, don’t ya know, even for supernannies and robot-genius housekeepers.

 

Flower Boy Next Door

Raise your glass of: A hot toddy, warm and sleepy.

Flower Boy Next Door OST – “I Want To Date” sung by Yoon Shi-yoon [ Download ]

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The Flower Boy series, despite its frivolous name, had exceeded my expectations with its first two series (Flower Boy Ramyun Shop and Shut Up: Flower Boy Band), so I was in for the third installment automatically. And while it shared some traits in common with the other dramas, this franchise has managed to successfully build a brand that still allows its shows to have their own distinct personalities.

Flower Boy Next Door was slightly moodier and more introspective than its premise had led us to expect, less about comedic neighborly hijinks and more about two lonely souls connecting. The show felt appropriately timed to deliver a dose of warmth in the winter television season, a little darkly shaded but without dolor.

Ultimately, the drama was both more and less than I wanted it to be. Starting off strong with a strong dash of quirk, the drama built up a lovely rapport between its intriguingly wounded heroine and the chatterbox hero, two characters who seemed at complete odds and yet found kindred spirits in each other. Though it initially seemed the hero was trying to draw the heroine out into the world for her own good, as their connection grew it became evident that the healing flowed in both directions. More than romance or even friendship, Flower Boy Next Door was a story of communication, told through characters who were simultaneously hyperconnected to their surrounding worlds (through the internet, their gadgets, and their views into each others’ personal spaces) and completely disconnected (by shutting down the pathways of communication). As the characters worked to bridge that divide, the series provided insights via the heroine’s narration that were eloquent and often poetic.

It’s a shame, then, that the latter portion of the drama fell back on cheap conflicts arising from external sources, taking a step backwards in the name of unnecessary angst that was a disservice to the character growth we’d witnessed thus far. The show’s forte had hitherto been its internal developments and exploration of the characters psyches, so to dump a last-ditch separation in their laps felt weak and dissatisfying. An unfortunate misstep for a drama that had begun so strongly. At least it gave us Enrique Panda, one of the year’s more winning and memorable characters.

 

Monstar

Raise your glass of: Bitters. Because it’s bitter.

When Monstar premiered, I watched with a sense of growing excitement, feeling the potential to be hook-line-and-sinkered by this youthful melo about a band of misfits grudgingly coming together to find friendships, and maybe also themselves. The series was marked by a looser format than other dramas, its slot on cable music station Mnet allowing for something of an experimental vibe—it was fresh, thoughtful, a little meandering, and peppered with musical numbers that were thematically relevant as well as just plain well-done.

Because of the languid pace, the drama took a little getting used to, but there were quirky and compelling characters (in particular Ha Yeon-soo’s heroine, delightfully 4-D and left-of-center) and loads of potential for complex relationship developments: the idol star being flustered by the strange girl who has no idea who he is, the perfect class president jumping from the winners circle to the misfits, the signs of past friendships now broken. The drama used music in a few clever ways, such as reviving bygone hits and dusting them off with modern interpretations. Some unfolded as fantasy sequences, with the glossy imagined performances reflecting a character’s daydreams or hopes for future developments. Yet others acted as musical soliloquies, fueled by feeling, such as the bullying victim singing defiantly in the face of his tormentor.

Alas, the show started to lose its way, fizzling in earnest once the big showdown took place. Or perhaps it never had a planned arc to begin with, and once the sing-off had come and gone, there was nothing left to fill that space. The day I realized the show wasn’t going to fulfill all its wonderful promise was a disappointing one, because I could just see the flashes of specialness scattered here and there. But those grew sparser and sparser, and the plot ambled along like a wanderer without a destination, pausing in places to drop in musical numbers that were becoming increasingly irrelevant.

If Monstar had at least resolved relationship issues in the end, I would have been content to overlook the absence of a plot. But even here the show didn’t appear to know how to make up its mind how to leave the characters, and so we just sort of… left… and they went on doing their thing. There’s slice of life and there’s pointless, and I’m not convinced Monstar fell on the happy side of that divide. The beat we ended on wasn’t so much bittersweet as it was downright bitter, a taste that lingers and mars my enthusiasm for the first half of the show. It was rather the opposite of fanservice, leaving us dangling without a definitive ending. How dismaying, to be wrapped up in somebody’s storytelling and then come to a point where it cuts out without completing its thought or—

 

Dating Agency Cyrano

Raise your glass of: An appletini. Liquid candy.

When you’re talking romantic comedy, light and cute is pretty much the main point. In that respect Dating Agency Cyrano achieved that goal, characterized by a lightness of spirit and a consistency of tone that made for a breezy, good-natured watch. Its case-of-the-week format was an efficient way to demonstrate the premise of the drama—that love could be nurtured by helping people initiate a connection—and the variety of personalities in the agency’s clientele offered a range of stories. Despite some hints of a more ominous turn, by and large Cyrano was a cheerful show, populated by good folk whose warm rapport brought a smile to my face.

Even so, there are limits to light and cute, and going too far can be just as much a detractor than not getting there at all. The drama that overdoes the lightness becomes too surface, too lacking in emotional heft, and such was the case for Cyrano. The cases were often interesting, and the drama did a good job mixing up the strategies employed to nurture the spark of interest into something more, but there was a slickness to the proceedings that kept it from engaging the feelings. I understood that the hero was traveling a trajectory from being emotionally shut off to opening his heart, for instance, but the developments frequently felt like a plot necessity, not a natural development of the character.

This translated into a romance that was cute but not fundamentally believable. So while the romance worked narratively, the actors felt like stand-ins for an idea more than two people in love, and my feelings remained disengaged. That’s not a dealbreaker, since not all dramas have to break your heart. You don’t want to go around giving that power to every drama that comes your way, do you?

 

Good Doctor

Raise your glass of: Mudslide, the Kit-Kat of cocktails.

I can see why Good Doctor became a hit drama: It had a simple, straightforward premise, a heartwarming story structure, and an underdog played by a much-loved young actor (Joo-won). It’s sort of the Kit-Kat of dramas, easily understood and good for instant gratification, though there’s not much underneath the chocolate coating.

What you see is what you get with Good Doctor, which painted its conflicts in black and white, with oversimplified villains and conflicts that often turned preachy—our team of doctors is good. Anybody who interferes, for whatever reason (say, bureaucracy or the law) is wrong and therefore the enemy of the greater good. In making our core team of docs sufficiently good, the drama then pushed opposing forces into the land of cartoon villainy.

For instance, the drama had opportunities to delve into some interesting issues of medical ethics, particularly when our doctors kept breaking rank, disobeying orders to care for the patient in the way they thought best. But what if something bad happened, instead of the rebel doc turning out to be right and saving the day? How could somebody like our autistic doctor actually survive within a hospital bureaucracy? And yet, the drama always chose the easy way out, rewarding the rogue doctors for being correct, which seems to me a dangerous portrayal. As a result, Good Doctor also did away with any opportunities to deal with medical questions with any sort of nuance.

Joo-won’s performance as an autistic doctor was lauded, and you certainly see Joo-won putting his whole body and mind into the portrayal, which is one thing we have come to expect of him. On the other hand, it made for a one-man show, and none of the other doctors were given anywhere near that level of development. Mostly they were there to antagonize and then support our wonder doc, as the story dictated. What we got was feel-good stories that always worked out for the better, so overall my memory of watching Good Doctor was that it was a warm, simple drama with a cutesy sense of humor. Not really big on substance, it at least supplied a reliable dose of instant gratification.

 

Mi-rae’s Choice

Raise your glass of: Gin and tonic, but the bartender forgot the gin. A little gutless and sobering.

Mi-rae’s Choice (aka Marry Him If You Dare) was a late entry into the time-traveler genre, but while that was a pivotal part of the premise—the heroine tries to convince her younger self against a marriage that would make her unhappy—the drama wasn’t really much of a time travel story at all. That was both a good thing and a bad thing, because it employed the conceit in a different way than other dramas had (so, points for freshness), but never really had a handle on its own mechanics (minus points for muddled rules).

The drama started off promising and won me over with its refreshing tone, and I have a great appreciation for any show that can built a convincing conflict while letting its characters remain fundamentally decent people. This was a story of likable people up against a dramatic circumstance (for instance, a rewritten Fate), with the conflict coming from the inherent drama of human emotions and life choices. As an added bonus, it was a fun touch to make the one quasi-antagonistic character an obstacle not from evil intent but sheer stupidity (by which I mean Miranda, the grandma CEO with the terrible business decisions).

A promising message emerged midway through the drama’s run, as heroine Mi-rae struggled with her desires versus her knowledge of what was supposed to be best for her, reminding us that the future doesn’t define our choices. Our choices are what create our futures, and therefore, Mi-rae wasn’t quite as caged in by her future Fate as she was worried she was. Yet for some curious reason, the drama refused to move forward with its story, and for a long while it spun its wheels in place, letting an unresolved love triangle stagnate there with no momentum. How could you build an entire drama around a choice, and the withhold from us that choice? Ironically or not, the drama was sunk not by picking the wrong option but by its own indecision.

 

Who Are You

Raise your glass of: Lite beer. Lacks body. (Har har.)

Ghost procedural Who Are You was a bit of a cold watch, and I don’t attribute that to its paranormal element. In fact, it was early on when the drama was incorporating a chillier horror vibe that the tone was most interesting, with the spookiness of the ghosts fueling the mystery of the heroine’s connection to the ghost world and her lost love.

The drama soon smoothed out into a romance melo, which should have drawn us; the conflict was an inherently heart-tugging one, with her being unable to move past her dead fiancé, whom she can still see lingering around her in ghost form. It should have been more of a conflict as she formed an attachment to a new love interest who was, at the least, alive and in the here and now… yet all I could do was lament the fact that the dead guy had to be dead. Maybe the puppy-dog cuteness of Taecyeon couldn’t compete with the soulful tragedy of dead Kim Jae-wook, or maybe Kim Jae-wook just really needs a role where he gets to speak. In any case, the drama moved away from spooks and settled into something more mundane, and there was no reviving that early spark of interest.

Furthermore, the focus to the new love interest came hand in hand with a shift toward police procedural stories, which, yawn. Not to mention the show working in a bumbling-cops vibe that gave the proceedings a distinctly jokey air—a jarring contrast to the tragic lovers-separated-by-death storyline unfolding alongside it. (They take a team of cops… to a cop retreat… and have to call the cops for help.) On top of that, Who Are You took the standard Ghost Whisperer approach to its ghost cases of the week, which resolved in predictable ways and stirred little emotional connection with us.

Ghosts in dramaland are not a new conceit, so it’s possible the producers felt no need to explain the paranormal rules governing their inclusion in the story. Even so, a drama that raises plot points that don’t exist in our natural world bears the responsibility of explaining its premise. People gained, lost, and gained ghost-seeing skills without clear reasoning, and once it became clear the show wasn’t going to bother to have an explanation, I couldn’t be persuaded to care either.

 

DRINK TO DULL THE PAIN
 

You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin

Raise your glass of: Box wine. At a certain point you’re just trying to finish it off.

You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin – “완전 사랑해요” (I totally love you) sung by Jo Jung-seok [ Download ]

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You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin had all the makings of a decent, perhaps even strong, family drama: a likable heroine, an adorable lead romance, an underdog trajectory, appealing side romances, a birth secret to add conflict, and solid performers in the cast. And from time to time those elements came together in just the right combination, bringing a smile to our faces with the heartwarming, feel-good developments. Sadly for us, however, it was more often that Soon-shin focused on all the wrong things to prove that even with good ingredients, mixing them together in all the wrong proportions will still yield a failed recipe.

Family dramas are often tonal hodgepodge by nature, alternating between story threads to keep the overall pace quick; light plots temper the dramatic melo turns, and multiple romances will develop at different rates so that there’s always somebody to carry this week’s episode. Done well, this formula can be quite nifty: The weightier elements are always present as a source of conflict, but can get set aside periodically so as to not drag down the whole production.

Of course, Soon-shin did it all backward by putting the romance on the back burner in favor of the makjang-y birth secret storyline, which soon turned the angst tedious. (Is birth secret angst ever not tedious?) Birth Mom was a brat, Adoptive Mom was a mope, and Grandma was a pill—why did we have to focus on these characters when we had such a bevy of fun, boisterous, likable folks just waiting for their turn in the spotlight?

On the upside, the drama proved to be a solid leading turn for newcomer IU, who put in a strong showing as the mostly plucky heroine, and her romance with Jo Jung-seok was seriously adorable when it was allowed to shine (which was less often than I wanted). And while Jung Woo is currently enjoying his star turn for Answer Me 1994, it’s Soon-shin we can thank for giving him exposure to mainstream audiences as a small background character who stole our hearts and every scene he was in. All hail the Bread Man.

Despite the disappointments, Soon-shin wasn’t a bad family drama, just a standard entry into the weekend makjang that makes you wonder why this is such a popular category, except that it’s exactly these kinds of shows that get popular: There’s just enough to like about it that you tune in for what you hate about it anyway. Aren’t we drama-watchers a perverse bunch?

 

King’s Family

Raise your glass of: Prison wine. You’re in prison, but at least you have wine.

King’s Family (aka Wang Family) is a strange breed of makjang, but it’s not necessarily a bad one. Or should I say an unwelcome one—because the drama is, in fact, some kind of terrible. It’s off-the-rails absurd with its story logic and there is nary a subtle bone in the drama’s body. But it’s not makjang in the sense of provoking you to mad rage at the characters’ misdeeds, or the kind that rips your heart out until you just want to die. It’s entertaining makjang—extreme people behaving in extreme ways, whose outrageous antics you can either yell at or laugh at. I choose to laugh.

King’s Family is not a drama that requires you to puzzle out how this world or its characters operate. That would mean there’s some sense to be made in the first place. On the other hand entirely, this is a drama you watch as though examining aliens in their native habitat through an observation window, understanding that there is some fundamental logic driving these people that defies human emotion.

The premise is no different from every other weekend family drama to grace the airwaves since the beginning of K-dramas: There’s a multi-generation family at the center, and through the sprawling network of relationships the drama explores contemporary issues of marriage, dating, career, family, and the like. What makes King’s Family so incomprehensible is the way these parts have been woven together, which is to say with all the skill of a baboon knitting while drunk. One bad twitch and somebody’s bound to lose an eye. Somebody take away his prison wine.

Take, for instance, the wife who is proud of the fact that she has no marketable skills and is an incompetent mother (it’s her excuse not to parent). There’s the self-sufficient breadwinner wife who finds out her loser husband has a girlfriend—and begs him not to divorce her, taking the blame for driving him away. And there’s the father who refuses to let his son marry his beloved, and thus organizes a Daughter-in-Law Audition (’cause he saw a show on the teevee, yunno), in which the forbidden beloved is allowed to compete. The mere inclusion of such puzzling characters is not what makes the drama so strange; it’s that everybody in this world accepts this rationale as sensical. And so we are left to shrug, figuring that WTF is just a theme inherent to the show.

King’s Family is just past its halfway point so judgment is still incomplete, but we have certainly seen enough to know that crazy makjang is its modus operandi, and also the reason for its ever-climbing ratings. These things are directly correlative, so expect the whackadoo antics to continue as the drama aims to break the 40% ratings mark. I won’t be following anybody’s demented logic, but I’ll be enjoying the daftness. Pass the prison wine.

 

Basketball

Raise your glass of: Robitussin. It’ll do the trick, for all the wrong reasons.

I was SO looking forward to Basketball, y’all have no idea. I wasn’t even expecting it to be another Gaksital, which is the obvious point of comparison for every Occupation drama going forward; my hopes were stirred entirely by the premise and the richness of the historical backdrop the show was invoking as its main storyline. Basketball in the 1940s! Poor boy makes good! The rivalry with the rich basketball star! THE OLYMPICS.

Such a promising premise, such a shame it got weighed down by plodding execution. There are a number of issues with Basketball and you can’t quite pin its failure on one factor alone, but I feel like it lost its way early on by fixating on the wrong things. This is not a case of trying to pad out a thin story with any plot you can get your hands on; it’s a world crammed with so much story material that editing those elements down into a tight, compelling narrative is as crucial as thinking up that material in the first place. It feels as though the producers were so excited to depict everything that they couldn’t kill their babies (er, that is to say, let go of things they considered precious for the benefit of the whole). So instead of picking a direction, they continued to go in all directions. This… does not work.

I wondered at the number of episodes that were passing by without getting anywhere near what I considered the core premise of the show: Korea’s liberation, the united Olympics basketball team, the division of the peninsula. Why so much attention on a love triangle that nobody really cared about? The cutdown from 24 episodes to 18 seems to have taken the wind out of the drama’s sails, but let’s be honest, the show was floundering long before the cut was decided.

The characters are an odd bunch as well, because I’ve always felt that Chi-ho (Jung Dong-hyun) was getting the better hero’s arc, while basketball phenom San (Do Ji-han) was getting short shrift by being moony-eyed over his honey. She was badly written and even more badly acted, and his infatuation with her made me lose respect for his character just by proxy. That’s a sad story.

It feels as though Basketball got caught up trying to be more important than it is, and I can understand the compulsion to do that—the Occupation isn’t something you want to gloss over with careless or inaccurate writing, and by all reports the drama has been praised for its meticulously researched historical details. But in doing so it lost sight of the story it should have been telling, and therefore we had little to connect with. It isn’t an awful drama by any means, but it hasn’t made it a priority to be very entertaining. And who wants their entertainment to be dull and serious?

 

Heirs

Raise your glass of: The fanciest champagne cocktail money can buy, which you can’t drink because you spilled it on your ugly sweater collection. You win some, you lose some.

I wasn’t so ambitious as to expect Heirs to be the best high school drama ever, but I did have the hope that it would at least be entertaining, of the Boys Before Flowers variety—despite character inconsistencies or outrageous twists or frustrating relationship angst, that show was at least good soapy fun. Heirs’ writer, as much as she can drive me nuts, has always demonstrated a talent for glib dialogue and witty banter, which seemed exactly the sort of thing to drive a glossy teen romance fantasy set in the world of the uber-rich.

There’s still a week left to the show but it seems fair to say that Heirs has fallen short of that expectation, having misstepped on a few levels. First of all, for being a modern show featuring a new generation of rising stars, the story is remarkably old-fashioned, and not in a clever way. I was hoping for a fresh twist on the ole chaebol-Candy romance, because in this day and age how do you get away with that trope without twisting it somehow? Yet nothing we’ve been given is something we haven’t already seen in every stereotypical chaebol drama of the past decade.

The cast is, by and large, populated with solid actors who have been carrying the drama more than the writing supports. The drama owes much of its popularity to the one-two punch of Lee Min-ho and Kim Woo-bin, who certainly give their characters a charm that the writing does not. I will contend that both man-boys need serious lessons on how to not be a neanderthal with women, but I can only imagine how much more horrible these characters would be in the hands of less talented (or at least less charismatic) actors. Then again, maybe the writer would finally be taken to task for her awful characterizations, so maybe that would have had its own brand of silver lining.

There are lots of other little flaws dotting the drama that we could point to, but my umbrella complaint is that Heirs takes itself entirely too seriously. You can’t call yourself the Korean Gossip Girl and then be humorless about it. There are a fair number of witty one-liners peppered throughout, but by and large this is a drama full of dialogue that goes nowhere, without a story actually holding it up. You can put icing on a cake, but nobody wants to eat a cake made only of icing, and that’s what we’ve got here. It may boast a pretty surface but it’s ultimately empty of content, a drama made almost entirely of filler.

 

Secret

Raise your glass of: The vodka you chase down your pills with. Dangerous and loopy.

Secret OST – “폭풍의 언덕” (Wuthering heights) sung by Ji Sung [ Download ]

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What made Secret one of the miniseries hits of the year was the wild ride of emotion it took its audience along on, presented via characters acting in extreme, intense, and yes, sometimes psychotic ways. The characters didn’t always make the most sense, but the show swept you up in its fast-moving dramatic excesses so that you didn’t always care about the flaws. What mattered more was the emotional payoff.

At its best Secret was a compulsively watchable experience, of the kind that keeps you reaching for more popcorn with eyes glued to the screen. At its worst it was a parade of single-entendre histrionics engineered to blatantly push your buttons. That isn’t necessarily a failing, in light of the fact that Secret never made any bones about aspiring to nuance or even depth. Its in-your-face melodrama was a large factor in its raw appeal, drawing viewers into the plight of the heroine who got beaten down again and again by those who used and tormented her. And judging from the reactions of fans, the drama succeeded in connecting with viewers and sparking a fervent emotional response.

The series employed an unusual dynamic with its main romance, and for better or for worse (I’d argue worse), that fierce connection hooked fans in with its intensity—even though one would be hard-pressed to find anything healthy about it. The “hero” (a word we’d have to apply with comical looseness) frequently made me uncomfortable with his blazing hatred of the heroine, whom he stalked, threatened, and abused on the way to falling deep into passionate love with her, and sometimes even afterward. Lest you think I exaggerate, a key moment in his path to love is his anguished realization, “Why does it hurt me when I hit her?”

That’s no indictment on Ji Sung, who was undoubtedly compelling in the role; it’s his deranged manchild character I could not connect with, he who wielded power like a destructive toy. Not that Hwang Jung-eum’s victimized heroine was much better, playing the martyr role to the hilt and ultimately equating love with pain. (This is a connection made explicitly: “Thinking of someone and feeling pain—that’s love too. You brought me a lot… truly a lot… so much pain.” So many facepalms.)

But I will give Secret this: It was entertaining, addictive, and paced with such speed that it was able to kept its entertainment factor high. These people were cracked, but there was an undeniable pull to keep watching to see what they’d do next. Would they destroy each other? Band together as allies against the other enemy? Decide to let love do its magical healing thing? Those questions propelled the drama through to the end, helping to make even the messiest of plot turns palatable because the narrative swept you up with its momentum. I may not have liked anybody, but I sure wanted to see what became of them. Sort of like rubbernecking a trainwreck.

 

Nail Shop Paris

Raise your glass of: Bathtub moonshine. Throw everything together, toss it down, and hope your stomach lining survives the experience.

Nail Shop Paris is one-half of a good idea, mixed with about four or five bad ones. What an odd, jumbled, possibly straight-up awful drama, featuring a mishmash of tones and way too many genres to make for any sort of coherent plotting. It had crossdressing hijinks, flower boys, procedural therapy stories, nail art, love triangles, and gumihos, all rolled into one very strange mix that tried to be everything at once. There is only one reason it was saved from dropping into the category below this one, and while that was merely one positive in a sea of negatives, it was nevertheless enough: Song Jae-rim.

First off, the big discovery: Song Jae-rim can act? I have seen him in four dramas and it wasn’t until this one that I realized he was much better than the pointless sidekick he played in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, the slightly less pointless but nevertheless inconsequential sidekick he played in The Moon That Embraces the Sun, and the silent assassin in Two Weeks (which he did after Nail Shop but which I saw first). Perhaps it wasn’t until he was dropped into an entire cast of bad actors that I could see the full extent of his ability, in that he stuck out like a sore thumb for not sucking.

It wasn’t even that his character was all that special—it’s that he took a common role in a subpar drama and acted with commitment, and as a result he got me hooked to this terrible, terrible show. Damn you, Song Jae-rim! Because aside from him, the show is mostly crazy: In addition to the Coffee Prince-lite setup, we were dealing with fantasy interstitial sequences, a strange fixation with gumihos, and a team of nail artists who took as their mission the healing of strangers’ emotional pain via some inappropriate meddling in their personal lives.

Nail Shop Paris did manage to pull out one big surprise, which for me was its saving grace. (This next point cannot be made without spoiling the ending, so skip this paragraph if you’re spoiler-phobic.) I’d long resigned myself to another suffering second lead ending—Girl has crush on Pretty Boy, Second Lead falls for Girl, Second Lead suffers while being the silent pillar of support. We all know how this ends, right? So it was to my great surprise that the show didn’t insist on pairing anemic lead actress (KARA’s Park Gyuri) with the dull-as-dirt love interest she’d been pining over (Jeon Ji-hoo), subverting expectation to go with the underdog. I cheered out loud and then felt shame, but also a wave happiness for Song Jae-rim. So the show somehow got me to care about it after all.

Nail Shop Paris may have been a messily conceived procedural-paranormal-mystery-romance drama, and I really can’t recommend it to anybody as a good example of anything other than How Not To Mix Genres. But you know, it taught me that some silver linings can make up for a lot, and that’s a lesson worth learning.

 

DRINK TO FORGET
 

Level 7 Civil Servant

Raise your glass of: A bucket of cheap champagne. Leaves you with a pounding hangover and a puddle of regrets.

Yeaaaah, that picture pretty much sums up the Level 7 Civil Servant experience. Two lovebirds, flying weaponry, general spying incompetence, a look of confusion (on our faces).

The funny (or perhaps sad) thing is, there was no reason this drama couldn’t have worked in theory. When the movie version was first announced, I thought it would make a fantastic drama series, and after I’d watched the film—which had some ridiculous plot moments but was largely rollicking fun—I could have easily hopped aboard to watch fifteen more episodes.

But there’s no such thing as a sure thing, and even proven hits can be ruined with crazy writing and bad casting. Was there ever a more mismatched pairing? Even in the worst cases, I can usually put aside my misgivings to accept the drama’s reality of the coupling—but there was no saving Joo-won and Choi Kang-hee, who took non-chemistry to new depths. This awkwardness had little to do with age—I’ve been swayed by bigger age gaps—and everything to do with their aunt-nephew vibe, and once a rom-com fails in the romantic chemistry department you’re fighting a losing battle, even if everything else is working.

Of course, in Level 7′s case, everything else was failing in equal measure, from the juvenile logic driving the characters to the flimsy bad guy revenge plot to the incredible fail that was the NIS. Secret agents giggling over misfiring their guns, supposed professionals routinely ignoring their work (upholding national security) to angst over their love lives, and bad guys who just really needed a hug to make it all better—that was the thrust of the show. It was pretty much a universal fail, and you wanted to tell all parties involved that they were better than this. Well, perhaps except the writer, who should never be allowed to write women characters ever.

To find a silver lining in the mess, the experience of covering Level 7 Civil Servant was unexpectedly much more positive than the show itself. Without it, we wouldn’t have gotten the chance to try our hand at artistic expression via stick figures, or whip up recaps like this one. Not everything was a downside, although I think the more pertinent message to come out of our Level 7 experience is that our DB community can be a pretty awesome place of support and good humor, and I’ll always look fondly upon that reminder.

 
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Hum, I think you should be careful before quoting a drama when clearly you're quoting it wrong, it's not "why does it hurt when I hit her" but something like "why does it hurt when she hurts". You have the right to hate the main character but AT LEAST hate him for valid reasons.

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I just realized I forgot to mention the name of the drama (Secret). My mistake.

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Nope, I know exactly what scene I quoted, and I stand by it. "Why does it hurt me the more I hit her?"

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DB is correct - the phrase you quoted was a bad translation on some sites. Korean translator on Viki have also confirmed that. Some said it can also be translated as "... the more I hurt her".

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Figures lol. Some of the translations can be not so correct. Especially when its a cultural joke. Without further explanations foreigners dont get it at all. I Do I Do had that "Joo joke". I rewatched the series on viki but it was not explained. I cant recall where I first watched the show and it was explained.,. probably viki too Maybe I missed the scene it was explained haha

Anyways I could not stand secret. The main romance did not pull me in.
Ji Sung's character was equivalent to an homicidal maniac.
And Hwang's just settled for the only guy left in my opinion

I gave up on the show. It seemed demeaning to women. Sorta promotes abusive relationships I think

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Javabeans is correct, I watched this drama twice, on dramafire and KBS world. Same translations.

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I was wondering about that too. I don't know Korean, so he might very well have said "hit" for all I know, but I think the generalized "hurt" makes more sense in context since he didn't actually literally hit her.

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I also thought it was "Why does it hurt me more when I hurt her?" That was the translation I saw on the video I was watching. But I guess that was because viki hadn't completely finished subbing and editing when I was watching, heh.

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I started unemployed romance because you did a recap of the first episode, and I do know if you finish the short series. But if you do, I am really hoping to see your review on that, even if its a short one.

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Do you like Unemployed Romance so far? I forgot about that drama, but I remember wanting to check it out. I didn't realize it was already airing.

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I liked it a lot, thought I haven't watched the last episode yet. There is a long flashback in the middle (like 4-5 episodes lone) that kind of drags a little just because you know they are gonna break up anyway so you just want to see how they get back together. But it also works because you see both sides of the story.

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"a baboon knitting while drunk.."

There you go, bringing up you misspent youth again :(

Overall I agree about 90% with the reviews of those I saw. I should mention that I started every one of those, but finished less than half. A couple of the worst ones I never made it past the 1st episode (WTF Paris for one).

Looking back, maybe it was not such a bad year after all, but it seemed to be that that there were a lot more REALLY bad shows, and not so much "not great, but watchable". Or maybe after seeing hundreds I am just getting jaded and much less tolerant of any show that relies on makjang, clichés, and manufactured crisis. Oh yeah, and really bad parents, MIL's, and chaebol mistresses.

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Favorite Dramas this year :)

1. Master's Sun (Best on/off screen chemistry I've ever seen. loved "kujah" and seriously the hand movements :) made me a so jib sub fan. Also addicted to the OST omg could it get any better?

2. Secret (This was the most addicting drama I've ever watched, finished it in two days, and cried buckets and buckets of tears, one of the most memorable dramas ever, made me a ji sung fan) love the ost for secret as well, so heart wrenching "tears tears"

3. That Winter the Wind Blows (beautiful acting and incredibly scenery to match. loved the story and felt for the characters through their journey on becoming better people)

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i agree, SECRET was kind of addicting. It was no ordinary love story. That drama changed my perception of Hwang Jung Eum.

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Same here. I didn't quite find her compelling before but here, she rocked the role of Yoo Jeong.

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Master's Sun is quite possibly my fave drama of the year, precisely because of that chemistry - So Ji-sub and Gong Hyo-jin were so perfect together, I just wanted them to be touching ALL the time.

Just thinking about them puts a big, stupid grin on my face, even now - sometimes, casting two big-name veteran actors is a gamble that really pays off, when the chemistry is right

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I saw Nine and loved it.
I also love Wang Family equally love it so far. It might just be my first 50 episode drama. I find the characters very sensical and engaging. The show is funny as hell. The wang family is a dysfunctional family. The second daughter not being loved by her mother and all her insecurities reflect in her approach to her marriage as it falls apart. The first daughter is the one that was told she could do no wrong and it is reflected in her marriage as well. It's one of the best acted show I have seen. I hope more people tune in and watch it. Han joo wan a new actor is so good that if his agent can't get him main lead in dramas after this he needs a new agent.
Heirs only redeeming value is Kim woo bin.

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Lost of shows I want to watch from how much you guys have rooted for them. They are:

1. Heartless City

2. Nine

3. Two weeks

4. Nice Guy

thank you java bean for the reviews and can't wait to read more :)

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You have to watch these! They're so awesome! :-)

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I liked 2 and 3, found 1 and 4 to be kind of bleh, mostly because of the endings.

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Ahhh its the end of the year already~
my drama highlights:
IHYV
Master's Sun
Good Doctor
Reply 1994
Heirs (not exactly in it for the plot I just like the casts xD)
I think IHYV really rocked out of all tho <33

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I loved AM1997 but haven't had the time to start AM1994... should I watch it or is it just the same drama in new packaging?

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I love A1994 characters much more and care about them, in A1997 I just cared for main couple and SW's family and that is it.

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I actually loved all of the cast in AW1997 so would I feel the same way about AW1994? Also are the dramas too similar?

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Okay, perhaps not a year for BIG hits that we can all really love, but definitely a year for unique characters to rise to the forte and defy typical hero/heroine character traits. (Anyone who isn't your typical hardworking candy or your typical rude chaebol with a soft underbelly are the standouts for me).

For the males:
1.Enrique from FBND. Come on! We need more bubbly enriques in k-dramaland.
2.Trash from AM1994. You can't quite find one like him.
3.Byung Hoon from Dating Agency Cyrano aka the korean sherlock holmes.
4.Shi on -- adorable autistic genius.
5. Su Ha of IHYV -- not the first puppy we've seen, but definitely the first puppy that WINS the heroine's heart, and manages to win all our hearts.
6. Doctor Son from Cruel City.

For the females:
1.Hye sung from IHYV -- haughty, overconfident, jaded all at once. Easy to dislike at first, but eventually winning hearts.
2.Taeyang from Master's sun. Who needs to worry about working jobs and makin' money when all you need is SLEEP?
3.Go Dok Mi from FBND. Surely we have never seen a go dok mi in dramaland but know that it's more common in reality than we think.
4.Se-Yi of Monster. Undoubtedly the quirkiest oddball heroine who likes her deadpan, dry humor.
5. Teacher Ma of Queens Classroom. Changing lives one student at a time. Also a witch.
6.Housekeeper Bok Nyeo of suspicious housekeeper. Possibly a robot mix.
7.Kim Bo Tong of Pretty Man. Rivals Se-yi of monster on quirky tendencies. Going for a cute-but-perverted vibe.
8. Soo Kyung of Lets eat. How many heroines do you know foodgasms atleast twice each episode? None. (BTW, just a random note, but i love how this show is like FBND meets Flower Boy Ramyun Shop. You get the neighbors in apartment building and the FOOD. oh my god. the food is alone WORTH watching.)

These are some of the ones i've pulled out from shows i've watched, but please, add to the list if you think i've left out any characters this year with hero/heroine defying traits! We need to populate dramaland with more variety, and i think this year was a good showcase for that.

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Yeah, I definitely agree that more than super wow outstanding dramas, there were way more amazing characters that were written and acted out. I liked almost all of the characters you mentioned in your list (the ones I didn't were just because I didn't really watch those dramas with them in it).

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If I might add, I liked the character of Dam Yeo Weol in Gu Family Book. I thought she was kick ass and was a liberal girl during her times, not waiting for anybody to save her but does the saving herself. I also loved how she accepted Choi Kang Chi despite him being a gumiho. That scene where she interlaced her fingers with him (when he was in hi gumiho state) to defy her father still gives me chills whenever I rewatch it.

By the way, that's a great list you have there. 2013 is indeed a year of atypical heroines. Yay for non-candys and non-doormats!

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I thought Dam Yeo-wool was a total Mary Sue - a character with no real depth, no real purpose in the story besides being the hero's love interest, and no flaws, always doing and saying the perfect thing in every situation and getting all the eligible bachelors in sight to fall in love with her. Wielding a sword alone doesn't make a character interesting, though to be fair it had something to do with the actress too - she could just about say her lines, but fleshing out her character was beyond her (limited) abilities.

In terms of interesting female characters, Gu Family Book had better examples in all its other female characters - Chung-jo and even Seo-hwa were flawed, tragic characters, but they would both have made for heroines with more to them.

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Agree. In the hands of a much more capable actress, DYW's character would have had better layers and more complex characterizations.

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I agree with most of your character list, especially 1-3 from the women's list :)

Though to the guys' list, I'd add Go Nam-soon from School 2013 (he's the prototype for Su-ha, though his fervour is devoted to his bff and not a love interest. I'd put Heung-soo on the list too if he wasn't totally a misunderstood thug with a heart of gold).

2013 was also a great year for second leads/supporting characters to shine, and in some cases steal the show wholesale from the actual leads. Cases in point:

1. Gu Family Book (DaddyHo and Chung-jo)
2. IHYV (Do-yeon <3333333333333)
3. Master's Sun (Little Sun <333)
4. some of the supporting characters in Heirs - from bitchy-but-vulnerable Rahel to wisecracking, roiling-under-the-surface Hyo-shin. I swear, they are what keep me watching.

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I would add for the males, Shin Jun-ho from YTBLSS. All 50 episodes might have been hard to watch, but were some really great moments, an AWESOMELY adorable OTP, and some standout characters like Jun-ho. Jo Jung Sook really breathed life in the dorky but loveable Daepyonim, and he successfully brought out in the best in first-time lead actress IU.

By the way, their kiss scenes, especially the first one in EP 40, should have been included amongst those nominated in DB.

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What a great way to look at this year's dramas! It really was a wonderful year for unique characters. And you're watching Let's Eat? I 'm loving it so far.

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I'm just gonna add Joo Joong Won. A cold chaebol main lead who actually used his head during his selective amnesia and not losing some of his IQs? Brownie points from me~

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yeah, that was the redeeming part of that amnesia arc - he doesn't remember something =/= he suddenly became stupid! I was all cheers when he figured out the truth on his own, while still not remembering any of it.

My header right now is the one of So Ji-sub and Gong Hyo-jin, and even seeing that makes me smile at the memory of how good they were together.

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Time sure flew too fast! And I cant even recollecting my brain memories that listed I already watched quite a number of 2013's drama.

Bitter and excited for 2013 closure and open my mind for the fresh 2014 buzz.

I cant forget how '13dramaland had given me;
Smexeh Kim Woo Bin, and his wife Lee Jong Seok,
Fatality Oppa Crush Jo In Sung,
Overflowed Cutesy Min Hyuk,
Angel turns beast Choi Jin Hyuk,
My long lost husband Lee Jun Ki,

Ah, and still so many to list, or I just finding excuse to write Kim Woo Bin name again, lol.

Great gift! Dramaland.
Cant wait to unwrapped my present next year ! *wink*

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I approve of your need to write Kim Woo Bin's name again. Even I was looking for posts specifically about him. ;)

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haha, any excuse to write about Kim Woo-bin is a good one!

I feel like a proud noona, seeing how well my boys from School 2013 have done this year. Especially Woobie, if anyone else was playing his character in Heirs it would have been awful but he is slaying that role.

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hahah don't have time to read all this yet/right now due to finals, but i'm cracking up at just the titles ( and learning a lot of new alcoholic drinks)

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Hello dear javabeans,
First of all thanks a universe for recapping many awesome series this year & also for this great year-end review :D

This year was a good year for me since I watched many shows that were addictive & also some that hold my heart :D
for me this year's best dramas will be :

1. Ugly Alert : This show caught all my heart & soul <3 at the beginning I thought it's only going to be makjang but it soon became a great drama about how to understand one another without having prejudices. it had best frenemies (between two cousins, both were girls), best family bonds & fabulous bromances. There were fantastic changes from a normal drama such as the main guy being poor & uneducated & the heroine being the successor of a Group haha <3 It also has this step brother thingy in a new light with the step brother being actually a brother not an object of her sister's interest <3 from all these angles I loved this show to pieces & I really enjoyed the whole ride specially bcz it was a great example of a long daily drama done right (from the point of view of a girl who wasted her time watching half of Lee Soon Shin, I can dare say just go marathon this series to find out how can a long drama have story, growth & romances all equally in the most satisfying way possible)

2. I Hear Your Voice : always hated Noona romance but this show changed it for me. I really loved the main couple cause they could complete each other & make one another a better person <3 The heroine was an inhale of fresh air in K-drama land for me & I adored her <3 hmm as oppose to JB, they were the one for me cause I prefer my couple have an understanding of one another & accept eac other despite all flaws rather than a sizzling chemistry that can die out later in living together. sexual tensions die fast after living with someone :-P

3. Reply 1994... remind me of my all time favorite anime "Honey & clover", so it holds a special place in my heart. I never watched 1997 so I can't compare these two but this one has all these beautiful little character developments that i can't help but love.

4. School 2013 : if a drama can hold my attention & make me cry & laugh without having any romances but with different kinds of love & loyalties then this drama is one of the best. loved the students & their homeroom teachers <3 Jang Nara were amazing & I don't need to mention Kim Woo Bin & ... :D

5. Two Weeks

Good Dramas :

1. Master's Sun
2. Mandate of Heaven ( if only I Loved the hero 7 the heroine as much as the rest of the cast, it wold be in the best drama's category Lol)
3. Flower Boy Next Door
4. All About My Romance (despite the low-rating of this series, I laughed my socks off & actually enjoyed watching it but it could be a real political show if it tried & it could have a lot to say)

Dramas I loved at the beginning but their endings killed them for me :

1. Mi rae's Choice
2. that Winter The Wind Blows

Dropped :

1. Gu Family Book
2. Lee Soon Shin
3. Monstar
4. Good Doctor

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I've read all the comments (I think) and are you the first person to even mention Gu Book?

Did I skip over Javabeans summary of that drama?

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Nope. JB did not mention Gu Family Book in her review. I'm sure it will be mentioned in the coming installments of the YiR.

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I'm pretty sure GF will be the reviewer to cover Gu Family Book. It is, after all, the show she recapped to the bitter end.Many other shows are still waiting to be reviewed as well :)

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My most watched drama for 2013; (1 most fave)

1. Master's Sun (hot Ji-sub)
2. Answer Me 1994 (seoul man Chilbong)
3. I hear your voice (puppy eyed Su-ha)
4. School 2013 (Heung-soo and Nam-soon)
5. Monstar (sun-woo)

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Despite mixed reviews, Heirs is still among the favorite drama for many people

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I think that Heirs is one of those that is watchable but far from the best. I think one reason I have this "love to hate" relationship with it is the over the top gushing and drooling by fans that are totally uncritical of any of it's faults, especially the Neanderthal behavior by the male leads.

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I don't exactly hate Heirs, but I do think it would be far more enjoyable with a lot less playing of Love Is More Pain /The Moment and slow-mo shots of people walking past each other.

Also, if its OTP were less irritating as characters, had a bit of chemistry and a less lame storyline, it would actually be a good drama.

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Thanks for the review.
I was one of the rabid fans of Secret (thank you DB OT Anonymous for your support during my addiction). I don't think that dark/obsessive characters necessarily mean a bad drama. I still remember this strange movie Secretary about a love of two people with “special needs”.
What I was personally disappointed was that they didn't keep the characters until the end: like that Min Hyuk didn't use his passionate twisted character to win the corporate battles (and over his father), somewhat like when Jae Ha in K2H was a strong opponent to crazy Bong Goo. Or that Do Hoon didn't finish his journey to hell with conviction that he was without fault (that I thought was fascinating how he did everything, even indirect murder, to “prove” he didn't commit the hit and run).
I also wanted to more see that within their characters Yoo Jung and Min Hyuk grew and learnt and could bring the best from each other.

Answer Me 1994 has the problem with compactness. That's what Answer Me 1997 did better. I'm also not into the husband mystery and shipping camps. I like Garbage, Chilbongie and even Hatai (there was time when Hatai was my favourite one) and I think each of them can be a good husband for Na Jung. But I don't like when the show manipulates us or purposely confuses us just for the sake of the mystery.

Makkulli, exactly, together with the giggling when climbing to my bed after the drinking :--)

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Best drama: Nine

Personal favorite:
+ Master's Sun (Just looooved Hyojin and Jisub)
+ Flower Boy Next Door (the story kind of relatable to me :p)

Drop (for various reason):
- Marry Him if You Dare
- Heirs
- Cyrano Dating Agency
- Gu Family Book
- Unemployed Romance
- Heirs
- Reply 1994
- and many more xp (more drama I dropped than finished since somehow time move faster this year)

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I've watched some of them but never got to finish. I guess I just drop them when I'm not that interested anymore. Basically, this year, I only finished two dramas: Two Weeks and Gu Family Book.

I kinda feel bad for Lee Junki. For some reasons, his dramas had bad timing when they aired. Arang and the Magistrate was a really good drama but the timeslot was the same as Nice Guy and I forgot the other drama. Now, Two Weeks aired the same time as Master's Sun. It was a really good show and I'm kinda sad that it didn't get the ratings it deserved. It'll probably get some at year-end award ceremonies though. :)

I liked Heirs at first and I thought I'd get through it just with Kim tan but oh gosh, how I started to dislike him halfway through the drama. If I ever continue watching it, it would be for Bona-Chanyoung.

Mirae's choice was okay at first too but I dropped it...

I'm currently watching 1994 but that one is starting to lose me too.

Anyways, thanks for this. I really enjoyed reading. I'm quite intrigue with Nine. I'll watch it when I get the time.

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Oh, I just remembered, the other drama Arang was against was Gaksital. lol

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that was only the beginning few episodes. it was up against I Do I Do and Nice Guy.

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earthna is correct. Arang was up against Gaksital's last 8 episodes & Nice Guy's first 12 episodes. Arang followed I Do I Do.

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this year, i only loved in an emotional way, monstar. there were no other standouts as of this moment. am hoping let's eat will change that. and maybe bel ami too.

i did enjoy IHYV and secrets while it was showing. couldnt understand the MS craze nor the appeal of FBND.

am still exclusively watching kdramas after 2 whole years!! i cant believe it.

thanks to ALL in DB and my fellow drama addicts for keeping this love going :) and for all the hard work you all put in to keep us dramacrazy.

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I guess it's time to use back my "official" nickname, so yes, to anyone who noticed, i'm bishbash.

ANYWAY! it's the time of the year again! thanks to javabeans for the year in review post, and it explains why there's no noona over flowers recap.

i'd realised several years back (it all began with One Mom Three Dads) that i don't agree with javabeans' POVs, and i'm reminded again here (Wang's Family). but that aside, i find myself nodding with javabeans' thoughts about other dramas, most notably Two Weeks, Mandate of Heaven (SERIOUSLY, this drama deserves much more love), I Hear Your Voice, Good Doctor and Master's Sun. All have their flaws and winning points, and I agree with javabeans pretty wholeheartedly.

lastly, SONG! JAE! RIM! i have to admit he caught my attention solely for the fact that he totally looks like someone whom i was entangled with. but he can act?! tbh i think he was decent in two weeks, despite the role doesn't require much dialogue and he mostly just had to be this determined assassin. im looking forward to him in Age of Feelings. noona <3 u!!

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Was a bit disappointed that heartless city not being mentioned here ... was really looking forward to reading javabean's comment about this drama

parksa, jin sook, safari ...

this would be the #1 2013 drama for me ... i have wanted to rewatch it but it's not going to be an easy ride to endure such sadness and painfulness a second time

loved i hear your voice as well ... have rewatched the cute/sweet moments multiple times, but still feel heartless city is a far greater drama in terms of the production as a whole, the plot, the script, acting, atmosphere, musical score ... my only reservation is with the romance which i feel was not as well done ...

would love to see other writers on this site to comment on the great show

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'What makes King’s Family so incomprehensible is the way these parts have been woven together, which is to say with all the skill of a baboon knitting while drunk. One bad twitch and somebody’s bound to lose an eye. Somebody take away his prison wine."

I.... can't..... even......

BHAAAAHAAAHAAAAAAAAAAA

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Tis' the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Follow me in merry measure,
While I tell of Yuletide treasure,
Fast away the old year passes,

Lyrics from "Deck The Halls"

Although Kdramas can make you laugh, cry, scream in anger, or want to throw something at the screen...I am definitely hooked and thankful they exist and that I am able to watch them.

In the spirit of the season, I am thankful for the following 2013 Kdramas {listed in order by airdate from January - December}, characters, actors, and actresses:

My Daughter Seo-Young
[My very first weekend drama...it set really high expectations for all others...unfortunately, I soon learned that most don't and few actually do measure up to this weekend drama]

The King of Dramas
Anthony...What would Anthony do?...Definitely worth the watching and education/learning about what often happens behind the scenes of kdramas...and Who could forget "The Garlic Kiss" :)

Alice in Cheongdam-dong (AKA Cheongdam-dong Alice)
:) OST - Daddy Long Legs by Baek Ah-Yeon
[Definitely not perfect, but I appreciated the drama turning the "Candy" trophe upside down by exploring the motto/posing the question - Does/Will "effort will take me as far as I want to go?" Park Si-Hoo as Cha Seung Jo/ Jean Thierry Cha did a great job personifying the Madhatter.

School 2013
[Loved School 2013! My very first introduction to "Bromance" and aspects of school/education in Korea...Loved Ko Nam-Soon (Lee Jong-Suk) and Park Heung-Soo (Kim Woo-Bin)...I got to see Jang Na-Ra and Daniel Choi work together again...All the actors and actresses did a great job...Loved the fact that story/plot was devoid of romance among the teenagers and focused solely on their schooling and daily struggles with life itself]

Flower Boy Next Door (FBND)
[Loved FBND! My first in the Flower Boy series. I will never forget you Enrique Geum (Yoon Shi Yoon)... I loved this quirky drama with Enrique the human Energizer Bunny, the recluse/introverted heroine Go Dok Mi, Oh Jin-Rok, Yoo Dong-Hoon, and the webtoon company's manager.]

Ad Genius Lee Tae Baek
[Average drama but the behind the scenes aspects of the advertising industry, the constant competition between the two agencies, and the role that advertising plays in society is what I liked most about this drama.]

Incarnation of Money (IOM)
:) OST - P-Type & Swings Featuring Miss $(Kang Min Hee) - Money
[Really enjoyed IOM...Never dull and always kept me guessing what the characters (Lee Cha Don / Lee Kang Suk, Ji Se-Gwang, Bok Hwa Sool, Eun Bi-Ryung - who could forget her moments/utterances of "Oh S**t", etc.) would do and come up with next. The battle to win between the “good/corrupt” male lead and the “main villian” was like watching a chess match. It is rare to see both (good & bad) adversaries be smart, competent, and equal masterminds. It had it all - greed, passion, love, "love of money," value of money, lobbying, connections, corruption, law, murder, entrepreneurship, ownership, etc.]

When A Man Loves
[First Introduction to SqueeCaps from Shukmeister, JoAnne, kakashi on the Blog - "The Problem of the Unproblematic." :) It was fun to read their recaps/running commentary and to see all the gifs/images in slow motion of Song Seung-Heon in the tight fitted suits and shirts that he was styled in for the drama. Their blog is a must have for surviving the acting of Shin Se-Kyung in When A Man Loves!]

Gu Family...

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Gu Family Book
:) OST Yisabel - My Eden
[My first time discovering Choi Jin Hyuk. Choi Jin Hyuk as Gu Wol Ryung (Episodes 1 - 2 & 12 - 22) made Gu Family Book worthwhile watching. Kudos to Lee Yoo-Bi as Park Chung-Jo...stood out and did a good job as well. Lee Seung Ki, it was nice to see you on screen in variety shows (Running Man/Noona's Over Flowers) and another drama this year. I am a fan and enjoyed him in King of 2 Hearts, The Greatest Love, My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho, and Shining Inheritance.]

Heartless City (AKA Cruel City)
:) OST- Kim Yong Jin (김용진)- Wound (상처)
[First time discovering the Jung Kyoung-Ho. During the summer months, it was thrilling to watch Doctor's Son (Jung Shi-Hyun/Baksa Adeul), Lee Jin-Sook, Moon Deok-Bae (Safari), and Kim Hyun-Soo.

I Hear Your Voice
[I really enjoyed the characters, plot, and how tightly the storyline was pieced together. It had almost everything - villian, 1st/2nd lead triangle, first love, arrogant/jerky behavior, frenemies, comedy, action, birth secret, amnesia, timejump, backstory with child actors, suspense, murder, romance, workplace, "Sesame Street Law," incompetent cops, and etc. What could possibly be missing you ask - why an airport scene! :)]

Monstar
:) All of the Music in this drama!
[Absolutely loved Monstar!!! My first introduction to Yong Joon-Hyung of BEAST/B2ST fame and Kang Ha Neul. Favorite phrase "I'm A Star!" Lovely drama about teenagers who are scarred/ hurting, experiencing/going through angst, finding escape/solace through music, love, friendship, and their dreams. Lots of fondness for the Bromance = Yoon Sul Chan and Jung Sun Woo. Very talented cast of actors and actresses...they did a great job!]

Empire of Gold (EOG)
[I am glad that I watched this drama from beginning to end...all 24 episodes. Favorite phrase "Aigoo."
The family breakfast gatherings and family meetings sure were fascinating. For a twenty year time-span, it showcased strategy, the power struggle for control {the person(s) winning/losing in the battle to gain and maintain power}, greed, constantly shifting alliances, and hidden cards/agendas for Sunjin Group and its affiliates.
For example: Throughout the series, the cousins have the habit of drinking tea and reminiscing with one another about how they helped each other out intentionally or secretly during their childhood years and during vacations as they grew up. This ties in with the relevance of past actions impacting and paralleling with present actions/decisions when it comes to where each person stands currently in his/her situation/position.
EOG was originally set at 33 episodes but unfortunately it was condensed to 24.]

Who Are You?
:) Erik Satie – Gymnopédie No. 1
[Suffered while watching all 16 episodes just for Kim Jae-Wook as Lee Hyung-Joon. Kim Jae-Wook, I would love to see you as the lead who gets the woman in a kdrama soon!]

Two Weeks
:) OST Nell(넬) - Run
[I absolutely loved this drama!!!!! My first time discovering
Lee Chae Mi. It was such a wonderful and endearing performance that she delivered. Lee Jun-Ki, you selected a wonderful drama to act in and graced us with your presence again this year. You were willing to shed tears, disguise/let go of your looks, show Jang Tae-San's inner battle, self-pity, weaknesses, faults, strength, journey toward redemption, and determination/desire to live and survive for his daughter no matter what! It is never too late to stop just existing...

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Two Weeks

It is never too late to stop just existing and to start living a meaningful life. Hands down all of the scenes between Lee Jun-Ki (as Jang Tae-San) and Lee Chae Mi (as Seo Soo- Jin) were my favorite. Kim So-Yeon, Park Ha-Sun, Ryu Soo-Young, and the rest of the cast/crew/writer should be commended for doing such a great job.

The Master’s Sun (AKA The Sun of My Master)
:) OST T Yoon Mi Rae - Touch Love
[I really enjoyed the incorporation of gothic imagery, clothing/background colors used as symbolism, romance, comedy, ghost of the week story (sometimes campy), and how it almost went into melo territory but came back from the brink of despairedge of the cliff. Who can forget the expressive and lovely hands of So Ji-Sub? He did an excellent job transforming into Joo Joong-Won - hairstyle, stride, voice, and delivery of lines. Likewise, Gong Hyo-Jin did as well. It was nice to see the heroine have her own distinctive style of aura and dress. Unforgettable and some of the best episodes of Master's Sun...pure examples of the Hong Sisters at their best...Episode 9 (Gong Shil/Tae-yang's Red Plaid Dress with the Open-back, Mac Rebel Lipstick on the Lips, and the "Kiss") and the last few seconds of Episode 12 (Tae Gong-shil. Saranghae (I love you.)”]

Barefoot Friends [Variety/Reality]
[It was nice to see the members travel to foreign countries and take part in challenges based on (diving, song writing, cooking, etc.). One of the highlights for me was watching Yoon Si-Yoon conquer his fear of water/diving through his constant committment to learning to swim and facing this fear head-on. Also, I enjoyed Kim Hyun-Joong, Eunhyuk, Kang Ho-dong, Yoon Jong-Shin, Yoo Se-yoon, and Kim Bum-Soo.]

Mi-rae’s Choice (AKA Marry Him If You Dare/Future Choice)
:) OST Melody Day – Only Me (혼자만)
:) Park Hyo Shin – It’s You
[Yoon Eun-Hye, Lee Dong-Gun, Jung Yong-Hwa, Han Chae-Ah, Oh Jung-Se, and Lee Mi-Do did a great job transforming into their characters. Now if my 'future-self' came to me giving advice about improving my life, career, or even the best/right person for me to marry - today, tomorrow, next month, next year, or etc...I would listen and take heed. I appreciate the writer for trying to incorporate feminism in the story. Seo Yoo-Kyung’s progression as the 2nd lead female character was a welcome change from the norm we often see or are subjected to in kdramas.
I don't regret watching all 16 episodes of this drama. I can already tell that it is like a book or another piece of literary work, where you read it for the first time at a certain time in life and you feel one way. Then as you reread the book or another piece of literary work at a different time in life; your reaction, perspective, and interpretation to it changes because there is always something new to discover.]

Heirs (AKA The Inheritors)
[People will either love it or hate it, but you have to watch and decide for yourself. Another Bromance = "real" OTP Kim Tan & Choi Young-Do fighting their way back to each other one episode at a time. Several of the characters are enjoyable, some are frustrating, heartfelt moments, and there are scenes that grab your attention. It is fascinating and mesmerizing to watch Kim Woo-Bin's facial expressions and to hear the range/diction in his voice and the delivery of lines. Future characters will be compared to Choi Young-Do. I loved Lee Min-Ho in Faith and I am enjoying him as Kim Tan in Heirs. Soon he will be...

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Heirs (AKA The Inheritors)
I loved Lee Min-Ho in Faith and I am enjoying him as Kim Tan in Heirs. Soon he will be heading off to military duty for 2 years, so I don't mind seizing the opportunity to watch and support his dramas while I can.]

Unemployed Romance
[I enjoyed this 10 episode drama...it was a nice change of pace. Often, unemployment can be a struggle as well as constantly experiencing hardships during the course of earning a degree/pursuing studies in higher education.]

***Secret Love...my thoughts...
[The writing for this drama was definitely fresh, atypical, and captivating.
However, you will...Never Ever... convince me that Jo Min-Hyuk stalking, obsessing, threatening, and abusing (emotionally, physically "choking", verbally, and financially "bakery/debt repayment/etc.") Kang Yoo-Jung will and should lead to Passionate Love - that this is acceptable; disregard his past actions; just overlook his behavior; or that it's alright to forget about it! Their relationship/interactions fall under the the category of "TOXIC...it is not love...they should go their separate ways and avoid each other at all costs!"

I end with the following lyrics by Bob Hope "Thanks for the Memory"

Thanks for the memory
Of sentimental verse,...
And chuckles
For better or for worse,
How lovely it was.

We who could laugh over big things
Were parted by only a slight thing.
I wonder if we did the right thing,
Oh, well, that's life, I guess,...
Of faults that you forgave,

We said goodbye with a highball,...
But we were intelligent people,
No tears, no fuss,
Hooray for us.

Awfully glad I met you,
Cheerio and toodle-oo
Thank you,
Thank you so much.

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"I Miss You"

It is not a drama that I regret watching it. The child actors did a great job. The cinematography was nice – like the winter/snow scenes, yellow umbrella, and other “non-trauma” moments that were captured on film.

I Miss You did touch upon the subject matter of rape, continuing with life after becoming a victim of rape, and the process of trying to heal.

There are flaws/faults with some aspects of how the drama handled this sensitive subject. Still, it is rare to see it openly talked about and have so many characters address or be impacted by this in a kdrama.

Did the plot/story seem to jump the track/go off the rails? Yes

Despite that, most of the episodes always showed the main characters emotional struggles, confronting and dealing with what happened and its aftermath, guilt about inaction or constant thoughts about what one could have done to try to prevent it…was powerful in its own right.

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Ah, I forgot King of Dramas crept into January! so I guess it's technically 2013 :) And if it's part of this year's batch, it would technically also be in my top 3 this year!

Yes, the Garlic Kiss (phwoarr)!!! I'm still missing Siwon's facial expressions. When is he coming back to dramaland?!

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I did not watch a lot and i dropped most.

Only love Master's Sun.

Finished I hear your voice. I like the lead character enough to finish the show but the plot was full of loopholes. The writer seems to think audience do not know anything about forensic. I was expecting a good court case but there was really none.

Dropped
1) Good doctor. I like the first 4 eps
2)Medical top team
3) Heirs. Really disappointed. I was expecting more given the hype. But there really isn't anything going on and i don't really like PSH character and i don't buy their love story.
4) Gu family book

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From the dramas above I just see Master's Sun, Mandate of Heaven and bits and pieces of Two Weeks (not completed yet). For me, Mandate of Heaven definitely the better drama and maybe the most underrated drama. It has compelling story with great cast and characters. Definitely the best completed sageuk this year because Empress Ki isn't yet finished and other sageuks are either disappointing or plain bad...

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Nine, Master's Sun, IHYV and AM1994 are my favourite, while FBND, Good Doctor, Cyrano Dating Agency and Two weeks are one stage lower to those four.
I wish Who are You and Unemployed Romance could be much better because I love the actors.
Thanks for the reviews. :)

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Whoa - Secret & Mandate of Heaven got a writeup but Incarnation of Money didn't? Wei - wei - wei?

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My favorites were Secret, IHYV, Who Are You, and, oddly, Nail Shop Paris. I'm adding in NSP because I did finish all of it despite the unbelievable crazy.

(And because I told myself, next time I cave to Heirs, I'm re-watching NSp: it'll make more sense.)

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my fave this year:Answer me 1994,Heirs,Secret and Flower boy next door.

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That was such a great year end review. I have to agree - Two Weeks was seriously under-rated. Though I didn't tune into it until after it had aired (I can only handle one drama at a time - le sigh), I was floored by it's pacing and its tight script. The sequences were dramatically entertaining, and never once felt ludicrous or clumsy in execution. The acting was on point with pretty much every character, both good and bad. The plot points were every bit engaging and cleverly layered. The writing, though intelligent, never sought to outsmart itself, carrying all the right emotional beats which took the audience along on the ride. I'm impressed.

Thank you

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I agree about secret. It's really makjang to the max... Despite it's flaws (and i don't even like the OTP relationship... they rub me the wrong way.. ), there is a satisfying emotion paid off for me. Someone said, a favourite it's not necesarry a good one in terms of quality.. (sometimes the acting and execution abit overwrought and their action sometimes makes me want to enter the screen and strangle the character) . And I think Secret is one those drama. Yo Joon and Do Hoon's story become one of those plot i invested in, their story is emotionally paid off, raw, complicated, and makes me understand their action despite it's really wrong.....

But My drama of the year has to be Heartless City... I am really emotionally invest with the character...

A show that abit lukewarm in my viewing but seems everyone love it:

two weeks: the only one I love about it is Park Ha Sun's performances and her character

school 2013: gah I couldn't connected to the character due to some actor can't act to save their life it bothered me so much

I hear your voice: I don't know, maybe I'm not in the mood in this kind of drama at that time?

My dissapointing drama:
Mirae's choice, shark

my worst drama:
Jang ok jung (please stay away from this drama if u don't want to waste your time. the first 8 episode is gold, and for some strange reason as if after that the drama change the writers halfway..

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Will only judge finished dramas. Have been burnt too often by the last ep (yes, I'm talking to you Secret).

Best drama: Nine

Really liked: Two Weeks, Scandal - A Shocking and Wrongful Incident

Finished, but not perfect for various reasons: Master’s Sun, Cruel City, Shark, Horse Doctor, Secret, That Winter, That Wind Blows, When A Man Loves, Last Cinderella (J)

Never finished (although the majority got at least eight eps to prove itself): I Hear Your Voice, Heirs, Jang Ok Jung, Goddess of Fire, Good Doctor, Mi Rae’s Choice, Who Are You, Empire of Gold, She is Wow, Cruel Palace: War of Flowers

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My number 1 drama didn't even make it to the list of dramabeans.

Cruel City / Heartless City. It was dark, gripping and Jung Kyung Ho gave a performance of life time. Only downside of the drama was Nam Gyuri. Even that wasn't too bad compare to other crappy drama we had this year. The plot, execution, the soundtrack all synced into places perfectly. (Yes I sound like a broken record but that's how much I loved it)

This drama is not for the faint of heart and definitely not fluffy.

My 2nd drama would be I hear your voice. Sure it isn't perfect but the plot is more unique than the other recycled plots we had through out the year(s). Even though I'm not a Lee Jong Suk fan (his plastic face makes me uncomfortable for some reason), I still enjoyed the drama.

and my 3rd would be Two Weeks. Because I'm blinded by Lee Jun ki. Hole in the plot be damned nobody can tarnish my love for Jun Ki. Maybe except Jung Kyung Ho with his post army abs that would make even Lee Dong Wook blush.

Rest I don't really remember much. Fairly forgettable.

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I loved Heartless City too! I'm hoping the drama makes it onto one of the other year-in-reviews. It was in my top 3 for this year (the other two being Nine and I Hear Your Voice).

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Gummimochi and Headsno2 were following cruel city (i know from twitter) so maybe one of them will review cruel city. I think Headsno2 finished all of it. Dont worry! ;) She tends to review shows that either underrated or no one really watches.

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I owe the OT for alerting me to Cruel City when it was just two weeks in. Because UNF, what a ride. Sure, it had flaws (stupid heroine, and Thighs) but in the face of an utterly spectacular performance from Jung Kyung-ho, they basically disappear.

(and I agree on Lee Jun-ki too. I watched Iljimae for him, thankfully his post-army choices have been more solidly scripted and acted, even if they didn't win the ratings battles)

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I haven't watched these :

The Master's Sun [sobs..but I will soon]
Dating Agency Cyrano
Who Are You
Basketball
Nail Shop Paris...

And my favorites this year :
Nine
Secret
Two Weeks
I Hear Your Voice
Reply 1994
King's Family

Mandate Of Heaven -I love this drama but like what JB says "It’s a shame that the lead actor (Lee Dong-wook) ended up being the show’s weakest link.."what a waste, good story, plot and script but his acting -____- I feel bad for some actors who has talent but unfortunately receiving poor scripts..

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SJH was another weak link too. Their pairing was painful to watch.

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yup..one with less expression[but sometimes she was likeable] and the other one makes me cringe almost all his scenes..thanks to PD, writer and other cast, I managed to watch MOH till the last ep^^ the best sageuk for 2013[?] due to the bad ending for JOJ, blade & petal and since Empress Ki is still on the show..

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You know you loved a drama when a silly smile spreads across your face at the mention of it. You also know yu love a drama when you want to defend it. ("hey, Wang Family isn't so bad!")

Thanks for the list:
My faves this year:
Nine
Secret
Two Weeks
Mirae's Choice
Wang Family
I Hear Your Voice
Flower Boy Next Door

Loved this --> "Raise your glass of: Box wine. At a certain point you’re just trying to finish it off." <<-- I didn't see LSS but I understand tha experience well.

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It must be really bad if even L7CS gets a mention in comments, but not a peep for Sword & Flower/Blade & Petal?! (unless I missed it?)

I admit, yes, it WAS pretty bad! But I enjoyed the first part - brownie points for good intentions :)

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Same thing for me re: Sword and Flower. I do kinda smile at what might have been and I don't go a day without listening to the OST. I even miss the sloooooooooooooooooow motion and weird repeating actions. No other drama is fooling around with cinema right now, like that one did.

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Wow! It's here! thanks JB. Haha, Heirs is really taking itself too seriously (love is the momeeent...) Not as entertaining as Secret but still watchable.

I loved:
Master's Sun - loved everything
Answer Me 1994 - Oppa ftw! The last time there was a fan war this intense was when I watched Dream High. I've never sided with a sinking ship yet so far.
School 2013 - bromance of the year
Heartless City - intense

Liked:
Nine
Dating Agency: Cyrano
Monstar

Entertained me despite or because of its flaws:
I Hear Your Voice - also not sold on the romance. also agree that LBY's character made me stick to it, not LJS'
Secret
Heirs

Fizzled:
Flower Boy Next Door
YTB Lee Soon Shin
Who Are You
King's Family
Medical Top Team

Never bothered:
Good Doctor
Mirae's Choice
Level 7 Civil Servant
Shark
Nail Shop
Basketball
Mandate of Heaven

Might catch this holiday:
Two Weeks
Empress Ki
Suspicious Housekeeper
Queen's Classroom

Still watching:
Pretty Man - thought I would be distracted by JGS hair, but he's really good.
Prime Minister & I - cute first episode. never thought I'd watch a drama with Yoona in it.

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Forgot that I dropped Gu Family Book. Never saw anything impressive with LYH & Choi Jin-hyuk as gumiho parents so I dropped it. Though I faithfully followed the recaps and caught cuts of scenes between the leads when it sounded adorable. I loved Suzy's character and felt that LSG's acting not that good maybe because of his character.

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Yeah, I sort of ditched that one too. The only good parts were the gumiho parents (mainly Choi Jin-hyuk, who actually stole LSG's thunder whenever they were in a scene together).

The sole reason why I don't think of it as a waste of my drama time was that it woke me up to the fact that Lee Yubi is fantastically talented. She'd have made a far more compelling heroine than the aegyo-ing Mary-Sue who was the romantic lead. (plus she had better chemistry with Seung-gi). I really hope she scores lead in something good, and soon.

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My favorites this year are probably I hear your voice and Master sun, although the currently airing Empress Ki is fast fast becoming my favorite of the year and we are only about 1/5 into it. Any other Empress Ki fans out here

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The ghosts were a mixed bag this year: Master's Sun (yay!). Who Are You (who cares).

Time travel - Mirae's Choice was a bit of a disaster. Gotta watch Nine asap.

Also on my watchlist: Two Weeks and Heartless City, but they're not exactly festive fodder.

For me, it was the year of breakout second female leads - and some male ones too, for that matter.

I know it's a little early, but a big thanks to the DB recappers for their dedication and insights, and for providing me with a place to rant and rave my way through my k-drama addiction - and to my fellow beanies who made it all so much more enjoyable, with or without alcohol!

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There are certain characters (actors/actresses) in kdramas that deliver must see television moments/events:

The father/daughter pairing of Lee Jun-Ki (as Jang Tae-San) and Lee Chae Mi (as Seo Soo-Jin) in Two Weeks is emotionally rewarding and uplifting.

Jung Kyoung-Ho as Doctor's Son/Jung Shi-Hyun/Baksa Adeul in Heartless City (AKA Cruel City) truly holds your attention. Many of us watched the drama just for his screen presence in the role.

These three characters are worth it!

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Thank you for the Part 1 Review!

As the end of year approaches, it's interesting to see all the different dramas we either raved about, completely disliked or that barely held our interest. ...... Regardless of what we all thought about any of the dramas, one thing was for sure, it always made for fantastic discussions! ....... for this I thank the entire DB community!

Drama faves for me this year:

Empire of Gold - Eating breakfast, sipping tea, or drinking coffee while strategizing your next business move were never more riveting as they were here.

Master's Sun - A different take on the "I-see-dead-people" situation, the OST, Gong Hyo-jin showing us once again why she's one of the best.

I Hear Your Voice - It had everything a good story requires, in all the right doses.

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my top picks:
1. the master's sun - fun, funny and delightfully entertaining
2. i hear your voice - interesting twists, edgy enough plots and cute noona romance

i agree with most of the sad reviews for the other dramas... the rest are so boring and unintelligent that i ended up watching japanese and taiwanese dramas instead. they had better stories to tell and a better pace that makes you look forward to the next episode. hope the coming dramas / romcom next year will be more exciting and entertaining.

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2013 is not a good year for K dramas. Other than IU-JJS's smothering chemistry in YTBLSS, Queen of Office (love it!) and Reply 1994, the other dramas I watched were all so forgettable.

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Oops forgot to add Heartless City (the ending was DUH though) and I Hear Your Voice as the other standouts this year.

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My favorites this year:
1) Master's Sun
2) Secret
3) Nine

Honorable Mentions:
1) The Good Doctor - predictable story, but Joo Won delivered another fantastic character
2) Flower Boy Next Door and Dating Agency Cyrano - while not really memorable, they were among the few above-average rom-coms this year.
4) That Winter, the Wind Blows - and it blew beautifully, even though there wasn't much of a story.
5) TW Drama Just You - Aaron. Puff. Yummy chemistry. As light and sweet as cotton candy, but oh so cute.

In progress but promising:
1) TW Drama: In a Good Way
2) Beautiful Man
3) Let's Eat
4) Prime Minister and I
...notice something? Three rom-coms and a drama with comedic elements and romance! The famine is over! Hurray!

So-so, IMO
1) I Hear Your Voice. I never could get past the life stage difference. I know most people could. Don't hate me.
2) Who are You - who was going to root for the male lead when the ghost guy is so much hotter! Also, there were two ghost dramas airing so close together, and one had great style and originality, and a sense of humor...this was the OTHER one.
3) YTBLSS - great OTP and good younger generation supporting characters. Too bad way too much time was spent with all the moody middle-aged women.
4) TW Drama Substitute Princess (aka King Flower). Started promising. Got muddled in the middle. Whether you loved the ending or not might depend on whether you thought the heroine made the right choice. But hey, better than Marry Him if You Dare.
5) Heirs. BBF remix.

Howling Dogs
1) Mary Him if You Dare/Mi Rae's Choice - the rom-com that was neither. 2nd worst WTF ending after Fashion King, and at least Fashion King was a melo (although, erroneously listed as a rom-com).
2) Nail Shop Paris. Would be in this list simply because of the howling bad acting. Add on the throw-in-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink plot. Also a WTF, have-your-cake- and-eat-it-too ending.
4) Passionate Love. Would have been simply a forgettable stereotypical weekend drama with below-average acting, if not for the most recent plot twist.

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Of those on your list, I think that Passionate Love might qualify for worst weekend drama of the year, though Golden Rainbow might beat it. I ended up dropping both a week or two ago - never have I seen so much makjang and noble idiocy and just downright stupid in dramas.

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I actually like Golden Rainbow, and think it will pick up based on the actors playing the now-young-adult characters.

But, every long-running/weekend Korean Drama that I've watched has disappointed me in the end, with the possible exception of Smile, You. Most of them use the extra time to delve way off into uninteresting characters and relationships. And/or spend a ton of time in the middle and towards the end driving the OTP apart, and then hurriedly bring them back together in the end.

Speaking of disappointments, I just realized from reading the other comments that I forgot Gu Family Book. It started out promising, but I would put it in the So-so list. I really dislike the reincarnation trick/twist being pulled out in the end (see also: Rooftop Prince).

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What? I thought the agreement was that ISYG was the worst weekend drama...

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My favorites this year:
I can her your Voice♥,(loved the inperfect heroine,Suha,awesome villian,fun plot with a good ending)
Master's Sun♥(just awesome,discovery of SJS...great chemestry)
School 2013(bromance all the way)
Cruel City(one of the best hero out there)
Empire of Gold(loved the dialogue and stabbings and strong heroine.hated the hero)
Empress Ki(HJW,can i say more than that,love it)
Nine-smart
Gu Family Book(loved it exept the ending,awesome hero,poor fate)
Secret(stalking to another level/awesome music and pace,naive/stupid heroine)
All about my Romance(hilarious hero and awesome romance/kisses)
The Queen Of the Office - one of the best comedy and awesome heroine
That Winter the Wind Blows-beautiful pairing,great camera,music,i like it even if it was melo
Monstar-one of my favorites now of her genre
AM1994 Nostalgia
Mirae Choice-great cast bad story

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Yay! The first year-end review! So excited to see I watched most of the dramas talked about here.

Loved Nine, Two Weeks, and IHYV for the reasons you stated, Javabeans. Reply 1994 does have emotionally good stuff but the husband mystery is kinda bringing it down. Whatever….I’m gonna root on for Oppa-yah no matter what. And I get a kick out of the shipping wars so not complaining too much, hehe. Mirae’s Choice and Basketball were highly disappointing because they had potential but wasted them on other unnecessary things. Weekend dramas start out promising but they end up being super annoying so I dropped them all at some point. I liked Good Doctor for its simplicity, straight-forwardness, and heartwarming nature; Joo Won was also great.

I’ll admit Secret was my crack this year. I watched compulsively and basically went nuts over hoping Yoo Jeong would finally get a clue on her ex-boyfriend’s disgusting nature while rooting for Ji Sung’s character to realize his big misunderstanding and bring about justice. It was a fun ride and I liked how things worked out overall. Best part was discussing the show with some of the Beanies on the OT, hee.

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One of the fun parts (though maybe not for DB :D) was how Secrets went from almost ignored at first, and ended up pretty much taking over the Friday OT. It is not often you see a drama come out of nowhere like that.

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Seriously! I know it annoyed some people but I didn't really care. I just had to let out all the burst of emotions that it brought in me. The OT was just perfect to go on and on about it, hehe. I tried to contain myself but you, Carole, Yumi, Lizzy, and some others brought out some really wonderful thoughts that it was rather impossible to not say anything. :D

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I am still emotionally drained from Secret and cannot connect to a new crop of year-end dramas. OT was the perfect place to talk about Secret.

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The OT discussions on Secret were simply amazing - thank you from this lurker (mostly) to all of you who contributed (special mention to yumi for her awesome insights on the character development of DH, YJ, MH).

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To me the two best dramas of the year by far the others aren't even close were Secret, which actually earned a spot behind Soul/Hon, Flowers for My Life, and Coffee Prince as my fourth favorite drama of all time, and I Hear Your Voice, from there it gets murky. You have Nine, School 2013 which I count as a 2013 show on count of ending in 2013 and the 2013 in the title, Two Weeks, Answer Me 1994, Flower Boy Next Door, Monstar, and Dating Agency Cyrano all jostling about for an order I can't give.

Flower Boy Next Door as much as I loved Flower Boy Band was to me the best of the Flower Boy series because despite our opposite genders I connected with Park Shin Hye's Dok Mi on a level I've never connected to any character before.

Secret was just so awesome thanks at least in part to Hwang Jung Eum and Ji Sung's sparkling chemistry which led to the first and only time in Kdrama history where stalking works because of the aforementioned chemistry and it allowed Min Hyuk to be there for Yoo Jung when she needed him even before either realized that's what they wanted.

I think I'm done talking about individual dramas on to questions.

I dropped Suspicious Housekeeper around episode 8 or so, not because I didn't like it but I had other things I wanted to watch more I always intended to go back and finish. Is it worth finishing or does it go crazy in the end?

The amount of hate Nail Shop Paris has gotten has intrigued me because surely it can't be that bad the haters must just be jealous of the pretty idol with the pretty boys or so I thought. My question is it worth watching just to make fun of and laugh or like Dr. Jin is it to awful even for that?

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I only made it through about 1.8 episode of Nail Shop, but what I remember most is just how WTF it was, and apparently it got worse later in the show.

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I agree with you about Flower Boy Next Door - the heroine was a more complex creation than your average kdrama heroine, and Park Shin-hye played her to perfection. Which kind of makes it hurt even worse to see her reduced to phoning in her Candy role in Heirs, as the followup.

School 2013 should definitely count as a 2013 show - its latter half aired in the new year, and the important plot/relationship developments took place there. But it's my favourite for the sheer strength of its bromance, Lee Jong-seok and Kim Woo-bin deserve every crazy fangirl they gained through that drama.

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Definitely agree with you. The bromance of School 2013 was the best thing ever about it and sticks out the most to me. But I'll also say that the other things that went on in the drama (ie, the class president's break-down and attempt at suicide, Jang Nara's character facing repeated rejections, Daniel Choi's character's traumatic past, Oh Jung Ho's troubled life, etc.) packed great emotional punches as well. So School 2013 was one of the best dramas for me.

Regarding PSH: I haven't seen her in FBND, but I do agree that she is also being wasted in Heirs as well. I can see her talent; unfortunately, the writing sucks majorly.

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@DayDreamer - yeah, the bromance might be the greatest emotional pull of School 2013, but that's not to say the other parts aren't great too - getting to see the teachers developing a genuine personal and professional rapport without going the expected route of romance (Daniel Choi and Jang Nara were wonderful) and the other kids' stories, especially Jung-ho and his friends, were definitely right up there as part of why I love the show so much.

PSH is so, SO wasted in Heirs. The character is horribly written - all the characters are, but the leads especially. But I'm very impressed with Kim Ji-won, who's doing a great job of making bitchy Rachel a character I actually feel for (and of course Woobie My Wuv, who has stolen this show so comprehensively from under the nose of none other than Lee Min-ho. I didn't think he could do it, but I'm in awe of the way he did)

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Regarding Nail Shop Paris...some spoilers ahead, you have been warned....

1) Almost everyone in the cast is a horrible actor.
2) The show tries to be too many things at once, and doesn't really succeed at any of them.
3) The writer likely thought she was being clever by introducing into the "real" plot supernatural creatures that the heroine was using in the story she was writing. Up to just the last few episodes, the viewer has no idea that the story is going to take a fantasy turn.
4) There was an apparent OTP switch mid-way through the drama. At that point, I didn't really care, and most people that did care seemed to like the new OTP better, anyhow. But bait-and-switch is one of my big issues with dramas.
5)The heroine, who has feelings for both guys who care for her, is not going to age past about age 25-30 or so, and going to far outlive the guy she chooses. And the OTHER guy is like her. Hence, she will at the very least have his close friendship for decades or centuries after the other guy dies. And, possibly more than friendship, if both want that.

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My Favorites this year:
Nine (my poor brain, Lee Jin-wook smoulders)
Cruel City (Baksa Adeul)
I Hear Your Voice (only K villain to actually terrify me)

I also loved:
Flower Boy Next Door (cozy winter + Yoon Shi-yoon)
Two Weeks (Lee Jun-ki loyalty)
Master's Sun (skinship! Gong Hyo-jin!)
Hope for Dating (Daniel Choi any day)
Monstar (until it fizzled out)

I might watch:
Nail Shop Paris (to be surprised by Song Jae-rim - we're dong gap; extra love to '85ers)

Did that happen this year?:
Can We Get Married (Sung Joon wasn't a teenager!)

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Aww, 2013 is the first year in which I've always been watching at least one currently airing drama, and despite the duds, it was a good year - despite their faults, I loved School 2013, FBND, IHYV and Master's Sun, and had a great time on the recaps for all those shows.

And who could ever forget the Great Commentsplosion of 2013 on the Master's Sun 12 recap? I think that's possibly the highest number of comments on any post on db, ever. And then the pouty sidebar when SBS announced that Master's Sun was airing only one episode the week after THAT cliffhanger!

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no, the highest one is hold by king of 2 hearts... thousands comments for almost every ep :D

but for this year, master's sun still held the highest record, dont know if last two final ep of heirs will surpass MS's comments later :)

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ah, I stand corrected - K2H did get more comments, on multiple posts. Though I'm not sure if Heirs will get more comments than MS 12, unless it throws something truly 'wtf' at us these last two eps (very possible) - more wtf than usual, anyway :)

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lol, ah the phenomenon of K2H. Not as popular in terms of number of people watching (as seen in 2012 year review polls) but probably the one show that made the most splash -- passionate fanbases that were so addicted that every comment was read and responded to. It was an amazing ride, i'll never forget participating in that thread.

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i know i've watched too many dramas when i covered more than half in this list and this is just part 1...sigh...bring on part 2!

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Same here - not to mention the Taiwan and Japanese ones I have watched. I should probably get a life or something.

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I list all dramas I watched by the time I watch them :)

That winter the wind blows : love it for great cinematography, love the ost "that one", and adore acting from both lead main (SHK n JIS) also for the first time I watch Eun Ji and get to know about kim tae woo! like eun ji (wish can watch reply 1997 soon) and truly in love with kim tae woo, my new ahjussi crush! :D

monstar : love yoon sul chan very much, Yong joon hyun potrayed the character very well, love the beginning but maybe it's just me that I feel this drama very very slow pace(?) didnt meet with my expectation, so not my favorite of the year.

queen's classroom : watch it because of go hyun jung and kim sae ron, but become kim hyang gi fans, love oh dong goo and shim ha na character the most, but maybe because I love and adore so much japanese version, so this drama isnt my favorite either but still adore it and it's one of most underrated drama of the year.

Cruel city/heartless city : ah, really I hope you watch it JB! it's best drama for me (I havent watched nine but will watch it soon!). Truly in love with parksa adeul, the coolest character ever in kdramaland, truly adore jung kyung ho's acting here, also very disappointed that you dont include his kiss scene in best kiss scene beanie awards, while for me, it's simply best kiss scene of the year in kdramaland! ah, I love the ost so much specially "wound" and "everyday", so classic and refreshing! very different than most of genre music in korea!

Master's sun : my most favorite drama of the year as well as my highest addiction ever for the OTP to be a real couple. Watching TMS for me it's like I am watching a real love story between GHJ and SJS :D best chemistry specially for off screen in my book :D truly adore SJS and GHJ mostly for their natural acting yet very realistic, specially GHJ, OMG, her TY's character is the cutest heroine ever in my book! cutest OTP too, TMS = CUTE + LOVELY + REAL :D ah I love the ost too, "TOUCH LOVE" and "THE LAST ONE".

Secret : best melodrama for me of the year... there is nothing new actually in this drama but I cried the most while watching this drama, truly adore hwang jeung eum, and speically bae so bin! remind me of park ki woong in gaksital, his character is complicated and bae so bin nailed it!

My top 5 ost kdrama 2013 : MS's touch love, CC's everyday, TWTWB's that one, CC's wound and MS's last one! love love love those songs!

my wish in the end 2013 of my korean world : God, please give us the news that SoGong couple officially in relationship, has been an item fand have planned to get married soon!

Javabeans, Thank you for your the end year review, honestly, I think that I have many similar taste of drama with you :D wish the best always for you! <3

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Because all rating should be compared to booze. Cheers!

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Waited so very impatiently for this moment. You don't even know.

You summed up mu thoughts on Heits pretty succinctly with "it takes itself too seriously." I had that exact thought as I watched last week. I know some people think that the writer is winking at us but I think she just has something in her eye (which explains why she can't see where her show is going). I really wish they were just being ridiculous for the sake of being ridiculous so I could at least laugh along. But every episode I feel like they are yelling "OMG, it just got REAL up on here!" And ink blinking back thinking "No, no it did not."

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