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I Watched for You [Year in Review, Part 2]

Given the sheer volume of shows that dramaland puts out every year, I can think of plenty of reasons as to why I dropped a title or two from my watching list in 2013. And yet, I also realized that there almost always happened to be something or someone behind why I watch the ones I did to the (sometimes) bitter end.

So maybe you’ve finished some of these on this list, maybe you haven’t; but that’s okay, because I watched for you. Because you all rock and you make writing about them totally worth it.

One last thing: since there was such a variety of shows I watched this year, I’ve separated them by format, and then chronologically by airdate for your reading convenience.

SONG OF THE DAY

Monstar OST – “After Time Passes” [ Download ]

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DRAMA SPECIALS

Sirius

I verily believe that I knew I was going to like Sirius from its first dark and gritty few minutes. The show hit the ground running with a story centered around two brothers both alike in vanity, but who couldn’t be any more different in personality, thrown into a revenge-fueled battle of wits against a local drug lord.

It would have been fairly easy to write stock good versus evil differences between the identical twins, but this was where the writing stepped in to blur those moral boundaries enough to make you wonder how much choice and circumstance have an influence on the characters’ reactions and behavior. And that’s even before the identity switch.

Therefore I was eager to see how Seo Joon-young would juggle such two similar, yet starkly different roles in an ex-convict hyung with a heart of gold and a chief detective little bro with raging anger demons. Needless to say, I was impressed with his dual portrayal to make each twin such fascinating and intriguing characters, both in their adult and teenage years (the latter of which was acted by idol-actor Park Hyung-shik).

Not only that, Sirius also managed to handle mature content with delicate storytelling hands, from the horrors of a junkie’s life to the consequences of messing with the mafia underground, all within the boundaries of the show’s ratings (akin to PG-13). Sometimes all it takes is a depiction of crazed desperation for a seemingly innocent-looking energy drink bottle to grasp the terrors of drug addiction.

Despite whispers of possible budget cuts in the KBS Drama Specials department, Sirius never let its limited resources get in the way of producing a high-quality final product. From beginning to end, it was evident that showcasing an engaging story was the production team’s highest priority, which just goes to show that you can put out a great drama without piles of money at your disposal. You could learn a thing or two about that, dramaland.

At four episodes, Sirius boasts a high-intensity, heart-gripping personal revenge plot. Even though the story pulls back in its latter half, there’s no doubt that Sirius still shines the brightest in my night sky.

I watched for you: Dichotomous identical twins, who are really just two sides of the same coin.
 

Escaping Slavery

Although there were plenty of other short drama offerings this year, MBC Drama Festival one-episoder Escaping Slavery was the only other mini-drama that made it on my list. And I’m not gonna lie: it had everything to do with Park Ki-woong playing a Joseon-era good-for-nothing aristocratic son, ignorant of the world beyond his privileged status.

The premise alone could have made for an entertaining hour of watching his world turned upside down after being sold into slavery. But along with the laughs, we also got a hero’s eye-opening journey of witnessing the social injustices brought upon by corrupt authority firsthand (and getting a taste of it himself, to much hilarity).

Even though I knew the show had only one hour to tell its story from start to finish, I was still surprised at how swiftly the story moved; often times it was as if I was watching a bedtime storybook (you know, the ones with a moral lesson at the end) in action, complete with a satisfying ending.

Both humorous and heart-tugging, there’s also an adorable bromance between the nobleman’s son and his slave, which is really just icing on the cake. So if you have an hour to spare, or you just want to see Park Ki-woong take a spin in the Torture Taco (à la Dr. Jin!), it’s a good hour worth spending.

I watched for you: Park Ki-woong. ‘Nuff said.
 

THE SITCOM

Potato Star 2013QR3

As a fan of the High Kick franchise, I was looking forward to what Potato Star would have to offer on cable station tvN with its quirky premise of an oddly-shaped asteroid hurtling towards Earth.

It should come as no surprise that despite the producers’ insistence that this show exists in a totally, completely different world than the High Kick series (really, they swearz it!), the show retains much of its predecessor’s charms from its wacky characters to numerous cameos (Park Ha-sun portraying a crazed sasaeng fangirl and Lee Jong-seok’s callback to I Hear Your Voice being among my favorites) to pop culture references, and thoughtful character monologues.

Which is why at an average of 30+ minutes per episode, the show isn’t necessarily a sitcom in the classic Western sense but feels more like an episodic drama with various storylines to support an enriched yet enclosed universe. Boasting a full cast of familiar and fresh faces alike, I was excited to see both Yeo Jin-gu and Ha Yeon-soo tackle a daily series, and their friendly bickering relationship thus far is a pure delight to watch. And I’d be lying if I said a certain doomsday kiss didn’t make me feel guilty about how Yeo Jin-gu is STILL sixteen years old. Well thank goodness for cable, ‘s all I’m sayin’.

I admit that I was also looking forward to see Go Kyung-pyo play an cold, uptight chaebol for a change, only to deflate when his character reverts back to a dim and childlike state. Don’t get me wrong—it’s an adorable, lovable character type he plays so well, but also one I’ve seen him play time and time again.

Although the show faced a temporary setback in its first few weeks which led to airing two episodes a week versus its intended four, the story continued to chug along and has since returned to its regularly scheduled programming. At the time of this writing, the show is just shy of a third into its 120 episode run, and has settled into its narrative groove and blossoming lovelines, making this a breezy, easygoing watch over morning coffee or during lunch.

I watched for you: Yeo Jin-gu and your 18642 character names. Seriously, can’t I just call you Yeo Jin-gu-mong and be done with it?
 

DRAMAS

Flower Boy Next Door

Thinking back to Flower Boy Next Door almost a year later feels like recalling a wistful memory; it’s as if I can’t pinpoint the specific details, but faintly remember the overall buoyed feeling of its dreamy mood.

I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of mood in this third installment of the Flower Boy series since its predecessors (Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Shut Up Flower Boy Band) struck such different tones on my heart. But it was likely the difference between an introverted heroine (Park Shin-hye) and a lovable hero aka the energizer panda Enrique (Yoon Shi-yoon) that took my heart this round.

It was the uncanny communication of our hero being able to read our heroine and she in turn for him that drew me in, and the journey these two lonely hearts took together brought both laughs and tears. Even when the storyline considerably slowed later in its run, there was enough heart to keep me tuning in to see it through. And now having watched a little of the recently canceled Barefoot Friends, I’m convinced more than ever that Yoon Shi-yoon = Enrique. It’s wild.

In hindsight, Flower Boy Next Door is still a show I enjoyed with its quieter and poignant moments in our heroine’s own journey of self-discovery and the smaller arcs of her lovable neighbors. Though there were times that I wanted to tell the nice boy next door Jin-rak (Kim Ji-hoon) to get a move on already instead of nursing his crush, there was always his best bud Go Kyung-pyo to do that for me. ‘Cause that’s what friends are for.

I watched for you: The daily post-its and milk for three years that I also wish came with an in-person visit.
 

Incarnation of Money

Nearly everything about Incarnation of Money indicated signs of disaster before hitting the airwaves, what with the rushed, haphazard-looking promo materials to its leading actor Kang Ji-hwan getting the green light to start shooting a mere two weeks before its first broadcast.

I could only hope that the Giant/History of a Salaryman production team were assured in the revenge story of how money can both drive and sway truth, righteousness, and justice. If that sounds epic and grand of a tale to you, then I can tell you that Incarnation both was and wasn’t.

In fact, the show called for a great deal of patience with its storytelling from its viewers, starting off with a clever mystery, and then transitioned to a middling lull until the revenge plan finally reared its ugly head. And then it was on. Oddly enough, even seemingly miniscule details were smartly incorporated into its later narrative, which suggests that the writers knew the story they wanted to tell. The show came into its own in its second and third acts, a rare but welcomed treat, as our hero Lee Cha-don went head-to-head against his family friend/mentor/sunbae/villain Ji Se-kwang (Park Sang-min). The way each side sought to trump the other not only with money, but challenged each other’s definitions of justice and corruption often kept me on the edge of my seat.

Incarnation wasn’t without its flaws of course, with other laughable caricature-like villains and a superficial heroine in Bok Jae-in (Hwang Jung-eum) I couldn’t get behind for the majority of the show’s run. Furthermore, the outlandish, zany humor in the show’s beginning half felt off-putting and even borderline offensive at times. Our hero doesn’t even start out as likable and goes through a few personality changes before the underdog story kicks in. But damnit if it’s not a revenge plan done right, even if it requires our hero to throw himself into an insane asylum to realize just how deep that corrupt rabbit hole goes.

I watched for you: The closeup of Kang Ji-hwan in practically every episode cliffhanger. I geddit.
 

Mandate of Heaven

By the time Mandate of Heaven rolled into the sea of sageuk premieres (Gu Family Book, Jang Ok-jung) in what will forever be known as Sageuk April in my memory, I really, really hoped that this one would be a good one. And thankfully, it was.

The premise alone was enough to reel me in: a father on the run trying to clear his name for a wrongly accused crime, and be reunited with his sick little girl. Oof. What can I say? I’m a sucker for daddy-daughter relationships. And when you’ve got a little girl as precocious as little Rang, it’s no wonder that he would be willing to go to any lengths to save her.

Mandate started off with a bang as its gorgeous cinematography and epic music score made for an intense, heart-gripping hour, and we traveled alongside the One Fugitive in Joseon to escape enough close calls that sometimes made me wonder why it was so damn hard to catch one man. But then I suppose we’d have no story.

What saved this show from simply being a run-run-run narrative was in its directing and writing, as I enjoyed how whenever we found Won (Lee Dong-wook) in a fix, the show also rolled the clocks back to pull apart the intricate strings that brought us to that dramatic moment. It was these details that made me go “Ooh!” and “Oh!” and enjoy the ride from start to finish.

It’s too bad that the main romance between Lee Dong-wook and Song Ji-hyo was eclipsed by more adorable secondary pairings and even bromances, with Im Seul-ong putting forth an impressive performance. Political intrigue has never been something that holds much of my attention in sageuk, and yet, the Queen proved to be one of the most manipulative and interesting villains this year. After dealing with her, perhaps Won has done enough running for one dynasty.

I watched for you: The cutest little girl this year to grace the land of sageuk.
 

Monstar

I recall tuning into Monstar without any expectations apart from the fact that it would be a cast of fresh faces, news that made me both excited and nervous. So you can imagine my surprise to fall deep in love with its dreamy charm and refreshing quality from the start. And the music. Oh, the music.

In its strongest moments, the musical choices served as a narrative bolster to its character moments (such as an unforgettable duet in the first episode) that brought with them waves of emotions at the start, but those golden moments shifted to more frequent song breaks to showcase the overall cast’s superb talent. Therefore, what made this musical drama so special also became its biggest hindrance, and there was more than one time my finger hovered over the fast-forward button.

Still, Monstar’s heart remained with our core group of teenagers as they laughed, cheered, and cried together as a band. Even with such different personalities, it was a joy to watch new unlikely friendships emerge while old grudges were addressed, though, some were handled better than others. Each member was able to get their own shining moment, from our quirky heroine to the idol star to the lonely soul to the rebel girl, but they were always best as one collective.

An unconventional episode format allowed Monstar to play with a different style of storytelling as well, but the show’s unexpected popularity ultimately let its dreamy mood continue to linger in a meandering plot. The story then introduced more mysteries than the show could handle, and left the ending off with so many fraying plot threads that made me wonder why I waited for an answer if I was never going to be given one.

But even with its missteps, I’m reminded of how this show introduced me to so many classical hits of yore and whose soundtrack I still play as a lullaby. Or just when I just need a catnap.

I watched for you:: Yong Jun-hyung, a guitar, and his jjak.
 

Dating Agency Cyrano

Even without the Flower Boy series tag, I was curious about Dating Agency Cyrano, since the idea of helping people find love is both optimistic and idealistic, especially when your heroine embodies the very concept.

In a way, I appreciated how Cyrano subverted my romantic perspective to show how little magic is in the technical execution of romance; to look past the billowing curtain… and see the man behind the curtain with a leafblower with two other guys pulling the other strings. But even in a show about the ways of love, I still felt a detachment with its characters, who were all enjoyable to watch and held intriguing mysteries (but then again, what dramaland character doesn’t have a tragic past?), yet felt more like actors on a theater stage.

Perhaps that’s because the show placed more emphasis on the workings of the agency itself and the idea of love than those who work and occupy the theatre. The cases of the week sometimes felt like distractions for character development, and whenever there were any marked changes in them, those felt dependant on the cases rather than the other way around.

So while Cyrano didn’t fire at all cylinders with its breezy tone for the majority of the series, I still valued how the show addressed that people are so complicated that they simply cannot be puppeteered and swayed with a gimmick when it comes to something as complex as love.

I watched for you: Lee Chun-hee, where have you been all my life?
 

Heartless City

Heartless City OST – “The Man” [ Download ]

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Ooh, Heartless City—how can you be so smexy and so badass? I admit that this show didn’t hook me right away; I watched the premiere three times and actively sat through a few more episodes before I found myself immersed in the dark and bloody underground of drugs, cops, and drug lords.

Cable network jTBC has a reputation for putting out great content over the years (Padam, Padam, Can We Get Married?, and Cruel Palace: War of the Flowers, just to name a few), and Heartless City is no different with its solid writing and slick, sleek directing style that kept my heart pumping during the series.

A blaring Inception-like soundtrack aside (seriously, it was everywhere. Can we get the music director a chill pill?), the majority of the love is directed at Jung Kyung-ho, whose character Jung Shi-hyun or also known as Doctor’s Son in the show, is a large step away from his previous happier, nice boy next-door roles. Dark and mysterious suits you well, sir. His anti-hero character arc is messy, complicated, and sometimes even downright gruesome, but this is a world that will not relent; where a moment of weakness will guarantee your death. So if that means you have to cauterize that wound yourself, you’re gonna do it.

I’ll admit that the relationships in Heartless City can be confusing at times, since you can never really be sure where alliances truly lie since money and illegal shipments change hands in this drug empire. Just when you think you’ve figured out that one character is working for one side, the show throws you in for another loop, and then another. In fact, I’d argue that these topsy-turvy moments did the drama a disservice in the latter part of its run, but then again, this city is a cruel one.

Although the show mainly focuses on this brutal war, there is a romance between Shi-hyun and heroine, Soo-min (Nam Gyu-ri, whom I found likable and natural in the role). And get this—she’s no damsel-in-distress because she graduated from police academy and can actually kick ass. It’s awesome. I daresay that the bromance between Shi-hyun and Soo could rival the romance, and while Heartless City wasn’t always perfect, it still remains as one of the most memorable dramas for me this year.

I watched for you: Ajusshi. Gangster Ajusshi. Jung Shi-hyun. Shi-hyun-ah. Shi-hyun Oppa.
 

Who Are You

Who Are You was an unexpected watch that I picked up later in the year, but I kept it on my watchlist purely for the sake of seeing Kim Jae-wook on television post-army service.

I was surprised to find that the premiere took on a chillier tone than what the promo materials seemed to tout (which just goes to show that sometimes teasers can be misleading), and that the show appeared to take on a more suspenseful take on the classic ghoulish fare. Unfortunately, I honestly can’t recall more than a select few cases that So Yi-hyun and Taecyeon tackled each week, but I’m reminded of the opinion that these cops are, in fact, terrible cops. I couldn’t understand why our heroine—who is a ranked officer—needed to be constantly rescued from her predicaments. Let me just say that Soo-min from Heartless City could take her on any day, and she barely graduated from police academy.

But what confused me the most about Who Are You was in Kim Jae-wook’s character, whose appearance as the deceased boyfriend was tragic in of itself. His sad eyes conveyed more emotion than his words, which were few and too far between, and such a waste for his post-army comeback project to be stuck in a Groundhog’s Day flashback sequence to uncover the mystery surrounding his death. So by the end of the series, the paranormal nor the romance nor the cases stuck with me, but I left with the hope that my feelings will change in the coming age.

I watched for you: Kim Jae-wook’s sad, silent eyes. Ghosts have feelings, too—hurt feelings.
 

Good Doctor

Come to think of it, I could sum up the entirety of Good Doctor using the title alone: it was good (in the moral sense), but for the doctoring, well… not so much.

Medical dramas have never been an alluring genre in my book, but then again, you don’t get to see an autistic hero (Joo-won) battling social discrimination every day in dramaland. There was instant sympathy for him at the get-go, and the obstacles and struggles our hero faced at the outset touched upon the stigma and stereotypes that surrounds mental health issues within Korea.

But while I hoped the drama would press and explore that controversial front further, it became apparent that the show chose a more humanistic approach with its heartwarming medical cases, churning out life lessons like an after-school special. So at the face of any serious medical ethics breaches, there were no serious consequences that accompanied them and the best university hospital in Seoul later became the most idealistic hospital in the world.

And so at the hospital of happy rainbows, unicorns, and Tinkerbells, we were met with comical opposition in the administration, twiddling our thumbs waiting for the other shoe to drop. With it, our hero was often reduced to a plot device, becoming the one where all the aforementioned lessons circled around, while his fellow doctors had the relatively easier task to accept and acknowledge him.

The show itself traveled across several genres that jerked me in different emotional extremes from serious to heart-tugging to comedic in one episode, but at least I can come out knowing that the show strived to do good and be good.

I watched for you: Joo-won’s commitment to a commendable performance.
 

Two Weeks

Two Weeks is a fine example of how execution and writing can make a world of a difference even if two shows happen to share the same basic premise on paper (Mandate of Heaven). It’s the darker side of the coin that wastes no time to remind you that the next two weeks will be the most stressful and thrill-tastic weeks of our hero’s life.

The writing by far was the standout feature of this show, grounded in the assurance that this condensed timeline was carefully thought-out and planned beforehand. Those efforts clearly paid off in the show’s execution with a balanced brisk and suspenseful pace without my having to worry that there would be any surprise loose ends. Plus, there wasn’t enough time for irrelevance in a relatively short timeframe.

It was gratifying to see Lee Jun-ki put in another solid performance as an ordinary hero who had to rely on his noggin’ and street smarts to get him out of some tight situations. I loved watching Kim So-yeon as a no-nonsense prosecutor with her own story to find justice, though I wished that her path crossed with Tae-san’s much sooner than it actually did. It was strange that the show’s villains felt two-dimensional at times with a rather simplistic evil motivation to drive their actions, though admittedly, those moments still induced much fear.

Even with its overall fugitive storyline, Two Weeks never forgot to keep us in tune with the man on the run. Suffice it to say that Tae-san is an unlikable hero at the start, and I liked that his character arc was one that he had to actively work at, because while words may have gotten him into his current situation, real change requires an action behind those words.

I watched for you: The nail-biting experience of counting down to D-day with crayons.
 

Master’s Sun

I was torn about whether to pick up another Hong Sisters drama since last year left me with a bitter aftertaste. Curiosity got the best of me, however, and while Master’s Sun didn’t completely restore my faith in the writing duo, it did remind me that their fairly solid reputation is there for a reason.

There’s no doubt that Master’s Sun was certainly pretty as its cinematography and special effects made it a treat for the eyes. Apart from the actual ghosts, that is, which sometimes (okay, most times) scared the bejesus out of me.

Still, I admit that it took nearly halfway into the show’s run before I started actively tuning in, appreciating the show from afar for fear of being disappointed again. I still laughed at the puns and the jokes, left intrigued by the hero’s past, and squealed at the paranormal ghost-chasing excuse for proximity.

I was excited to see Soh Ji-sub back in dramaland, and his chemistry with Gong Hyo-jin made for an enjoyable watch; I wouldn’t expect anything less from such experienced actors. However, I still grumbled with the late-game conflicts in the show, mostly due to missed opportunities for potentially interesting plot threads or a clunkier, more dragged out execution than I had hoped (the latter of which can be explained with the show’s one-episode extension; something I expected, but still pouted at).

At least I can safely say that there’s enough sunshine on the horizon for me to tune in for what the Hong Sisters come up with next, but I’ll carry a ghost-repellent spray with me until then.

I watched for you: Soh Ji-sub, I will gladly be your 10 billion won radar. Just pay me in kisses.
 

Mi-rae’s Choice

Mi-rae’s Choice came like a breath of fresh air in what felt like a dry year of light rom-com fare. The show brought with it a refreshing spin on the traditional happily-ever-after ending with the heroine’s future self risking time-travel to warn her against making that decision.

There was potential and promise at the outset, not only with the mysterious insistence for Mi-rae to marry the other guy in her life, but also with the challenge to wake up from her own aimlessness and to take ownership of her life. I was excited to explore how both the minor choices and the major decisions could or would influence the future, even if our seemingly omniscient Future Mi-rae remained fixated on her biased idea that one decision would change her fate.

Our time-traveler’s one-track mindset left me mostly frustrated and unsympathetic, especially since the consequences to her meddling appeared only whenever convenient for the plot; thus whenever something did affect her, I was amused, not panicked. Then our other character trajectories suffered as well, to the point that I started rooting for the second female lead’s life choices and happiness rather than for our heroine.

Our male leads fell victim to this path as well, as character development ceased or even took a few steps back, to my confusion. Naturally that drawback transitioned into the love triangle as well, which initially tugged in both directions and both continuously built up… and then trailed off into ambiguity. By doing so, the show failed to tap into the talents of Yoon Eun-hye and Lee Dong-gun, and took the wind out of Jung Yong-hwa’s much-improved performance.

It’s a pity the show got lost in its own storytelling as the teeny writing flaws at the start only became more apparent as the series progressed. I was prepared for a flawed time-travel explanation, and yet the one we were given was so convoluted that it somehow contradicted itself and failed to keep to its own logic. What a shame that such potential simply fell along the wayside.

I watched for you: Sixteen-hours ago Past Me.
 

Medical Top Team

Medical Top Team OST – “Light” sung by John Park [ Download ]

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On a technical standpoint, Medical Top Team is a surprisingly competent medical drama, but I can also see why it wasn’t a hit on the airwaves either. It’s a show that makes health professionals feel like they’re in Candyland, but for the majority for us outside that target audience, including myself, we get stuck at the mere thought of a roomful of genius doctors. Because, c’mon, they’re genius doctors.

Given how Medical Top Team premiered the day after another hit medical drama wrapped up (Good Doctor), it’s hard not to draw comparisons between the two shows, especially with how the medical aspect is handled. Suffice it to say that while Good Doctor emphasized the heartwarming moments, Medical Top Team shone its spotlight on medical jargon accuracy to such a tedious degree that a dozen or so captions might flash onscreen in the span of a few minutes.

In fact, I daresay that the show took its whole medical world so seriously that at one point, they forgot that the people doing the doctoring themselves actually mattered. That made the show a rather cold watch despite its saturated colors, but once the show did turn back to more of its character moments, the show became watchable again.

What I found amusing about the show was in the meta, where both the side characters and the team members themselves hung a lantern on that damned Top Team concept, showing that being elite doesn’t always equate to being powerful. The show also gave us some unlikely pairings in the romance department, which was certainly an unexpected turn for a viewer like myself, who I admit—savored those rare slivers of emotional connection.

So although the Top Team members themselves would wax bioethics all night long and the hospital politics were just as interesting as you might expect (read: boring), I don’t regret dedicating twenty hours of my life to it, thanks to a different reason…

I watched for you: Completely accurate medical terminolo—oh, who am I kidding; it was all Joo Ji-hoon.
 

Heirs

In comparison to the rest of this year's offerings, Heirs certainly outdid itself in everything by boasting the longest drama title and promotional period, and even surpassing its own grandiosity. On those grounds, I can easily place the show in its own class (hur).

I initially watched the show out of pure fascination of its characters, most of whom were either hateful, hate-fueled, or just plain hated within this dramaverse. There was an accompanied amazement of how any character could survive or even exist in this strange fantasized world, least of all the heroine. Despite being familiar with Writer Kim Eun-sook’s writing style, characters spoke words and behaved in ways that I could neither understand nor make sense of. Thus I found myself enjoying the lighter, zippy dialogue between minor characters, and grew increasingly agitated or frustrated with the characters who should have mattered. At one point, I was amazed that the mere thought of the show long after an episode aired evoked such strong spiteful emotions in me that mimicked the ones within the drama. And that’s just not fun drama-watching.

But I kept watching with a split-brain mentality with the actors, like how Kim Woo-bin’s character Young-do was a vindictive school bully, and yet I couldn’t help but appreciate the acting on a technical level. Or how Kang Ha-neul had a small but meaty role and did what he could. Or else we were deprived of an actor’s range altogether, as was the case for Choi Jin-hyuk. There’s no doubt that the show’s overall success and popularity will boost their careers, though, perhaps not the best example on their resumes that would showcase their talents.

The show kept me in a puzzled state with its narrative conflicts as they were dramatically pushed into the forefront, and then strangely dissolved and replaced with humorous or adorable moments. Moreover, I couldn’t enjoy those light-hearted scenes properly since they felt disconnected and unearned. Granted Heirs did seek to humanize its characters later on in its run, though by that time, those attempts to gain sympathy rang empty to my ears.

Overall, I can still appreciate the prettiness of Heirs, but I would be kidding myself if I ever thought that it was trying to tell me a story. In other words, Heirs is like a fabergé egg: imperial and ornate, but hollow and empty inside.

I watched for you: I don’t know what I watched for, but everyone needs therapy.
 

Answer Me 1994

At present, I can say that I look forward to watching Answer Me 1994 every week.
While I’m preparing myself in the event that those overall positive feelings could change in the next few weeks, I cling onto the hope that they won’t because I love these characters too darn much. There, I said it.

It’s strange, though, because I feel that Answer Me 1994 is both a better and worse example of a follow-up series to a highly successful and beloved show (Answer Me 1997). Just like how 1997 established its character relationships as friends, families, and lovers, I love how this show manages to roll all of those relationships within one boardinghouse in Seoul. I enjoy that not everyone in the house starts off on the right foot with each other, and that friendships (or sometimes more) takes time and commitment to build. They’ve become a secondary family to each other at this point, and I love watching how they have each other’s backs.

I came into 1994 with the worry that the cultural references would be just outside my timeframe to relate to them. I had nothing to fear in that end, since the Answer Me team proved once again that those bits were like easter eggs in the show: fun to find, but not a necessity for enjoyment. I welcomed the return of the droll humor and hijinks from 1997, the numerous cameos, and the thought-provoking monologues about life, family, and love most of all.

Yet, I should have noticed the first technical red flags in 1994 both in its episode count and episode length, both of which did the 1997 version no favors. Even though 1994 had both an advantage and burden of that popularity, I still wish that the team would rely on the less is more mentality (which the 1997 did at first). What we’re left with then are ample filler scenes where I’m disengaged as a viewer because I don’t care enough to pay attention to those meandering conversations.

I wasn’t thrilled when 1994 posed another husband mystery at us, but I loved Na-jung (Go Ara, who is unbelievably winning in this role) so much that I wanted her to be happy and loved. Even now, when I have to sit through the longest wedding video in the history of the world, and left conflicted and frustrated each week thanks to the year’s most agonizing love triangle, I still just want her to be happy. So if that means I have to be patient and wait (but not too long, Answer Me!), then so be it. I’ll watch for that.

I watched for you: Oppa-ya and Chil-bong-ie and their abs. Why, weren’t you?
 

And that wraps up my year for everything I watched for in 2013! As always, my endless thanks and gratitude to javabeans and girlfriday, who let me write thousands of words each week on this digital paper, and to HeadsNo2 for the rants, the music, and the love of Oppa.

 
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I don't care if no one else likes Heirs, because I will always love it. It's my first kdrama, and my most special one, which will always be my favourite.

This person echeos my thoughts perfectly:

http://the-inheritors.tumblr.com/post/69858375703/episode-20-the-final-thoughts

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Ah, first K-drama (mine was like, 10 years ago, gasp). Watch more K-dramas and it's like a new world opening up before your eyes, but you'll always remember your first drama...and sometimes you end up wondering why you were so into it in the first place. It's bizarre :) glad you enjoyed watching it.

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LOL i feel you. Stumbled across BOF while watching Hana Yori Dango (which kicks bof ass) and while I cringed so much I could poop, I love(d) it in a weird way. And i'm still aboard the SoEul ship. It hasn't sailed yet!

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I actually prefer BOF slightly, even though I saw Hana Yori Dango first.

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yes BOF was also my first (right when I was about to give up on Netflix) and I liked it till it started getting too redundant and then could not finish it. I still kind of loathe it to this day.

I do remember it as my first drama but Lie to Me holds a more special place in my heart because it was the second drama I watched after BOF and I fell head over heels in love with it. It made me fall in love with K-dramas.

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My first kdrama was Playful kiss, which I stumbled on while rummaging through TV shows on hulu.com. Even though most people hate this drama, it will always hold a special place in my heart. I have since watched this much hated drama 3 times. I am in my 3rd year of my kframa addiction.

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My First kdrama was my name is kim sam soon which i wached last year...i fell in love with our Binnie at first sight!

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buahaha..
Oh god. Stairway to heaven. has a special place in my heart(in memory), quintessential hallyu hit, but also the one of the best showcases of a makjang-filled crazy fest. Might watch it in again down the road and face palm. But dam was it addicting in the early stages of k-drama hallyu wave.

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Stairway to Heaven was my first drama too! One of my friends in college had it. I never did finish it, but it inspired me to look for a drama that wasn't makjang :-)

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My first kdrama was Full House.. back in 2007. Though my first asian drama was Hana Yori Dango and I personally prefer it to BoF

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it was my first as well. Gah, I feel nostalgic whenever I remember it. It will always have a special place in my heart as well

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Yes, seems like makjang was in almost everything back then, right? It's a miracle so many people got addicted to K-dramas (or maybe I'm just a masochist! :D)

I never got into THE classic "Winter Sonata", but I admit I have fond memories for Stairway to Heaven! but not about to watch it again!!

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Same. never got into winter sonata for some reason.

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Stairway to Heaven was my third drama...and I realized, when I re-watched it last year (haha, just for old times sake!) and was mildly horrified at how makjang it was...and how I didn't realize it, at that time! hahaha ;P But yeah, good memories...of being glued to the tv marathoning this drama. It's funny to see how I was such a fan of Choi Ji Woo, Kwon Sang Woo, and Shin Hyun Joon because of STH...

Oh, and how could I forget...Baek Sung Hyun as young KSW and Park Shin Hye as young CJW...he's regarded as a better actor, and I read a lot of comments on here hatin on PSH (although, I have to admit, I haven't seen any dramas of hers lately, so maybe she deserves the criticisms...? Or maybe it's just the roles she has to play...?)

I never watched Winter Sonata either...mainly because it seemed similar to STH. I think I saw in succession 1) Autumn in my Heart, 2) All About Eve, 3) Stairway to Heaven ...and that just shows the makjang-apooloza in my first three dramas alone! ;P

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Same here. I didn't like those makjang stories. But somehow I did like Stairway to Heaven.
My first kdrama was Successful Story of a Bright Girl starring Jang Na-ra and Jang Hyuk. Ryu Soo Young was younger and I thought was very attractive then too.
Glad that he's doing really well till now.

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LOL, the classic "Winter Sonata" though it has all the Kdrama cliches but it was my 1st kdrama so it has a special place in my heart, I remember watching it back then in 2006 or something, to me it was fresh and interesting at that time, but I don't think I will ever watch something so heavy like those makjang old dramas after watching the recent ones!

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OMG - me, too! I was so obsessed with it, and actually the ending left me feeling really bitter. I was new to k-drama makjang world and didn't realize there was sometimes no happy ending.

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I casually started watching WS on YT one day with no clue about K dramas. I was both horrified and fascinated by all the over the top angstsy acting and watched the whole thing. FH and MNIKSS were so sweet and fun I loved them both. They are still special in my heart, 100 dramas later, not many have felt fresh or original

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Mine is Full House, love it!
*although now I can't watch it without cringing*

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AH, mine was Full House as well! I still can't listen to the OST without feeling nostalgic.

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Awww.... Mine was Full House too! Which I just can't re-watch now, without cringing.

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Yay! Full House 2 is on my list to watch, but the original Full House was a nice watch.

I remember thinking how could Rain be a leading actor, but his puppy dog ways just draw you in! Love the OST as well - I still listen to it :)

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Mine too... I loved it (and rain) to death. And was so so sure this was the best drama. the best actor, best actress best what not ever ever. Now.... Not so sure ;)

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Full House was my first k-drama too! It was a bizarre experience but immensely enjoyable. However, I came across My Name is Kim Sam Soon immediately after and now till this day MNIKSS is still my most fav k-drama of all time. Whilst I have never been able to re-watch FH I have re-watched MNIKSS countless times! That Clazziquai song omg.........

Back on topic..
I am a big fan of medical dramas, I definitely need to check out Good Doctor. Moon Chae Won and Joo Won is reason enough =D

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hahaha. i feel soo dated. I know i watched some before but the first drama that i remember watching from the beginning to end is All About Eve. Loved it! Jang Dong Geon, Chae Rim, Kim So Yeon, and Han Jae Suk!
You literally had so many of the stereotypical korean drama plot devices. The rich prince like guy, the goodie girl, the crazy uber bitch, the surpising death, the amnesia, and of course the super catchy title song by Fin.K.L.

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All About Eve was not my first kdrama. I watched it for the first time last year and loved it.

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Me too!! All About Eve was the drama that got me addicted to Kdrama (the first one actually Hotelier). The first Kdrama is like our first love... you can never forget it, but (sometimes) you wonder why you love him (it) at first place. Hee hee

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ME TOO!!! hahaha...I had posted a comment earlier today about when I first became a fan of Kim Soyeon, and I had said All About Eve and how that dated me! ;P hahaha....AAE was the second drama I ever saw, and that was 12 years ago! aahhh the memories...

AAE really was all of kdrama clichés rolled into one...of course, at that time, I had no idea but was hooked! I actually re-watched it last year, and just from the opening song, it brought me back to my marathoning days during winter/summer break in undergrad! :)

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Looking back now I cringe when I try to watch my favourite old J or K drama's. But despite their flaws, I think we always hold those firsts quite dear. As a seasoned drama watcher, Heirs was awful for me couldn't get past episode 6 and won't ever watch it. I love high school and college drama done right: School 2013, Reply 1997, Hana Yoli Dango (J version), Nobuta wo Produce, Hana Kimi (J version), Hakusen Nagashi, Asunaro Hakusho-the ordinary people (if you wanna go old school to name a few.

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then you should try shut up flower boy band. i think it's one of the best, if not the best, highschool drama :) and i meant it in intellectual, emotional and entertaining (read: addicting!) ways!

how many years has it been? i don't know. but it's the last 10/10 kdrama i've watched. yeah even with the answer me duo.

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For some reason that and Gaksital were two drama's that everyone says are brilliant that I have a hard time getting into. But I do plan to watch them someday as everyone gives them great reviews :-)

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I understand where you're coming since the heirs is your first kdrama you feel its perfect
I remember when I watched boys over flowers too(1st kdrama) I thought it was perfect till I started watching other kdramas though BOF still holds a special place in my heart
Imo Heirs wasn't a great drama just ok

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I've been watching You're Beautiful concurrently with Heirs and I think that drama too is all but perfect.

It's a PSH thing ♥

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recommend you sungkyunkwan scandal if you love F4-thingy.
it's refreshing since it's in saeguk and less makjang and just full of fluff...

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My first k-drama was Playful Kiss. L.O.L. I can't help it though, it will always have a special place in my heart and I still enjoy rewatching my favorite parts.

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Awwwww ur first k drama I remember mine it was Goong be sailin the YEH & JJH ship ever since aahhhhhh good times good times

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High 5!! Goong was the first for me too after much persuasion from my bestie. I have hoards of YEH-JJH MVs, BTSs and Goong 1.5 stored and duplicated on various hard-drives. Aaahhh.....my kdrama first-love. I am still conflicted about my ships: YEH & JJH? Or YEH & KJK? The irony is that X-Man is my k-variety first love. Lol.

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Is it weird that wondeful life was my first kdrama at the tender age of 8 but BOF was THE drama that started my love for kdramas at 12 and GOONG (shin-gun omo my first love) confirmed my love for all things korean. And the rest, as you can say, is history. Looking back, i tried rewatching bof but couldn't even get pass ep 1 but i marathoned goong like 4 times already. Sigh...those were the days

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Iris was my first Kdrama but It didn't seal my love for Kdramas. After watching Iris I saw the promotional poster for City hunter and instantly fell in love with Lee Min ho and that's what sealed my love for Kdramas. City hunter is not my favorite and I don't have favorites I just love dramas as long as the lead is cute and hot. I love anything with LMH and kim soo hyun in it. I watched heirs for LMH.

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Ik I really tried sooooooo hard 2 wtch BOF again but I gets on my nerves as 4 Goong I'm on my 5th marathon but
yool makes me love him everytime😍

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This was my first drama too (Goong) - and its true, your first kdrama always holds a special place in your heart lol...its like your first love...no matter how flawed or how much other people dislike it, you'll always love it =)

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Wow, your first kdrama! I think a lot of people have soft spots for their first dramas, no matter how lauded (or disliked) they might be.

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So agree! I think it has something to do with the fact that ANY Kdrama has so much to offer compared to whaever programing we were watching before.

My first Kdrama was Faith. All the stylistic craziness confused the heck out of me. But it's introspective tone was so different than what I'd been watching, it drew me in and I couldn't stop watching.

I suppose looking at LMH in a mane of glory didn't hurt, either. :-)

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If you want to see a real romance with real life problems and the real definition of true love - then watch "A Thousand Days Promise". But bring a box of tissues.

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I cried the most in Miracle in Cell no. 7

Has to be one of my favourite movies of all time.

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My first Kdrama was City Hunter...that is a very high bar for dramas. I enjoy Korean dramas because they are typically 20 episodes -- instead of the ongoing series here in the US.

Drama Fever did a joint production on Heirs. Frankly,I think that if they did a joint production on City Hunter 2 - and got Lee Min Ho to take on the lead again - it would knock viewership out of the ballpark - both in Korea and internationally.

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My first kdrama was IRIS I.

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I feel dated too! but my first was "Lovers in Paris" (Lee Dong-gun was the suffering second male lead). Wouldn't go back and re-watch now. Think that franchise is well and truly dead (they followed it up with Lovers in Prague). If you're taking k-drama actors overseas, give me Grandpas or Noonas over Flowers any day! (and their Luggage/Luggage Boys, of course) :D

Other early ones I watched were "Full House", some Jang Nara oldies where she plays the Candy roles, and "Hotelier". That last one had Song Hye-gyo, Kim Seung-woo and Bae Yong-jun in it, but hardly ever gets a mention! I'd think that I just imagined it, except for the fact I've re-watched it many a time! Come to think of it, Yoon Yeo-jeong (from currently airing Noonas over Flowers) was also in it!!

It's totally cheesy, but Song Yun-ah's very likeable in it. It's also got the awesome Choi Hwa-jung (she played Dokko Jin's manager in Best Love) - another of those actors who pop up unexpectedly in small roles in dramas and totally rock their parts! Think she's also a successful radio host?

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ahhh the "FIRST" it always stays with you doesn't it?! my 1st asian drama was BOF, the taiwanese version and my 1st korean drama was Autumn in my Heart. These two dramas are atrocious in todays standards but like other k-drama druggies out there they hold a special place in my heart! lol

thanks gummimochi for these great year end review! ^__^

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I started watching chinese dramas before I found Korean ones oddly enough. First k-drama I am guessing either My Love Patzzi or the Successful Story of a Bright Girl I still remember the tiny RM videos and white on white subs so hard to see! Those days I was Looking for drama with Ariel Lin and found Jang Nara's chinese drama Bratty Princess thus leading me in turn the her early Korean drama and k-dramas

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Mine was What Happened in Bali back in 96, and it cemented my forever devotion for Ha Ji-Won. Of course, the downfall was that there was not that many k-dramas that could match the chemistry and quality of WHIB.... Or Damo, the second one I watched, or Hwang Jin-I, my third one...lol. Yes, yes, I am forever Ha JiWon biased.

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Gaaaahhh not 96, I meant '06. >_<

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lol i really dunno with which i started but i guess its coffee prince. THAT JUST GLUED ME TO KDRAMA. AND i am still finding the way out...:-(

i can understand you saying HEIRS as best because you are YET to see the REAL bests. then you will know how used plot its is in KLAND ....

i really love these reviews....but why do i feel the dramas reviewed is very few

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I got ganged up on by my mom and sis into watching kdramas so I gave "All In" a shot. It was not my cup of tea but I liked Song Hye Kyo in it so I watched "Full House" and found it amusing which got me looking into trendy rom-coms. Then I found "Coffee Prince" as my third Kdrama watch. Game over, stick a fork in me.. I was hooked ever since.

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My first was A Man Called god in 2009 or was it 2010. Anywho, I love Heirs too and believe it or not, I watched for the story and the chemistry between Tan and Eun-sang and the cuteness of Ki-ae and Ajhumma and Chan-young and Bo-na and the unexpected cutie that was Lee Hyo-shin oh and let's not forget Myung-soo(k) and the redemption of Choi Young-do.
I watched Master's Sun for Tae Yi-ryung and Kang Woo and that lovely song whose title I can't recall. I wonder why I Hear Your Voice isn't on this list. Anyway, at the beginning, I watched for Kim Seo-hyun (is that right?) Then I continued for Lawyer Oska although I can't bring myself to get past episode 5 it bored me for some reason.

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Well if that was first for you then I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that there are many dramas out there that are even (or rather much) better. That said, I understand that your first drama will always be special. You're Beautiful (also with Park Shin Hye) was my first and will always have a special place in my heart.

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Started watching on/off whatever kdramas was shown on television but never really got into it until Coffee Prince came along...the charms of Gong Yoo sealed my fate and turned me into a kdrama addict since...

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awww... thetinted glass save for first kdrama... Dun worry, everyone does that, I know I did.
My first drama is the tear-fest Autumn In My Heart/Autumn Tale. I still remembered I hate the ending so much & SSH, i avoid watching anything with SSH for years...

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I'm so dated! My 1st Kdrama is Autumn In My Heart and I'm still freaking waiting for over 10 years for WON BIN to come back to dramaland with SONG HYE KYO! He was my 1st KCrush such a gorgeous man...my 1st 2nd male lead syndrome in kdrama...SIGH...still waiting!

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The Heirs was such good fun, why do they have to nitpick on it, it was good and well worth the 20 hours watching it and the extra 5 hours consumed in posting comments for each episode. That was a great cast from the supporting actors to the top, 2nd and 3rd leads who are all very likeable, yes, even Rachel , she's the girl everyone likes to hate but secretly envied coz hey, she's got it all except for love but eventually she will. Everyone delivered, and it made me smile, laugh , cry and feel happy on every episode so if you don't like it , that is your own problem. If I have to nitpick - just Park Shin Hye and her closed lip kissing act, bleh!

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Oh.. it's your first! Welcome to kdramaland. It's good since you don't have much expectations yet. First kdrama will always take a special place in your heart. :-)

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My first was Goong, but I wasn't hooked until I watched My Name is Kim Sam Soon. Until then, I really thought all korean dramas were ridiculously sappy.

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Thank you for your year end review, gummimochi!

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For me 2013 had some bad dramas, some mediocre ones and a few good ones... but nothing really outstanding.

And I feel like I'm the only person who watched "Empire of Gold"! T__T

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nah it wasnt only u, it had me on a roller coaster ride n den in the ending it disappointed me....... sigh

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i watch it too, i thought my favorit drama in 2013 are good doctor, shark n empire of gold

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I watched it live, religiously.. and all because of my undying love for GS and LYW. I screamed, I yelled, I sighed non-stop yet keep watching it till the end, just like during WAML. Crestfallen, deprived and unfulfilled, that was me at the end.. *sigh*

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I'm still obsessed with it! Choi Seo-yoon, you're my queen forever!

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No, you are not alone. I watched and enjoyed Empire of Gold too.

For more discussion about Empire of Gold (EOG), refer to the Friday [11/01/2013] Open Thread #395 - Post #16.

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I had a discussion series on my blog, and it's quite an interesting read, if I do say so myself. You can click on my blog link on my user name and check out the EOG tag. Hopefully it won't disappoint.

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Correction:

For more discussion about Empire of Gold (EOG), refer to the Friday [11/01/2013] Open Thread #315 – Post #16.

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psst. heads watched it! it might be in her review ;)

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I was ridiculously addicted to Empire of Gold. I waited and WAITED in vain for the OTP romance that never transpired. I have never felt so cheated lol but great drama nonetheless. Loved and felt for our deeply flawed Choi Seo-yoon. Rooted for her until the bitter end

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Thanks gummi, off to read, follow up comments soon...

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Fantastic review. My thoughts:

I did not recognize Ki Woong in that screencap, but he looks so cute. I'm glad you really like Swine Escape and it sounds great, I can't wait to finally watch it(still hunting for subs).

Cruel City - I had the same experience, it was hard to get into, it was confusing and so many characters to keep track but it turned out to be one of my favorites this year. It also had characters that I really loved: Parksa adeul, Jin Sook Unni, Soo and even Safari Samcheon. And finally the ost: Hearing "Wound" and "Everyday" just makes me break out into a smile.

Good Doctor - Joo Won ♥ 'nuff said.

Mirae's Choice - still bitter about this one but I only watched it for Han Chae Ah and by the end her character Yoo Kyung was the only one I still cared about.

MTT - I forced myself to keep watching this for one reason alone: Jung Ryeo Won and it was not worth it.

Thanks gummi, I enjoyed reading. :)

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Cruel City/heartless city is my fav this year as well... apart from the awesome Parksa, Jin sook and soo were my fav character.. the main otp felt flat.. but the bromance between parksa and soo and the relationship between parksa and jin sook unni are more memoriable for me. The OST is awesome.. before CC, i enjoy watching Jung Kyung-ho but now... i can't wait to see him in another drama..

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yeah, Cruel City was an odd one for me too purely because it took more than the first episode and lots of thinking for me to really get into it. but once i bought into this cruel,cruel city, i was invested in the characters journey.
I personally love the soundtrack cause the second i heard that inception-esque background music i was instantly captivated for reasons i didn't even know haha. Guess my brain associated it with a movie of complexities, so i wanted to unravel the gritty world of cruel city and its characters myself.
Definitely not a show without its flaws, and i'd have to say the writing faltered in some areas, noticably the heroine. But nam gyu ri wasn't that bad. I just wish she was given more meaty material. I was really hoping for her to be a changed woman after that horrible prison experience, really i was. But she still retained much of her innocence which was a disservice to the story.
Definitely not a show without its flaws, but also a show that is a welcome addition to the world of k-dramas.

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Agreed with this, and I just notced you mentioned 3 gaksital actors(2012's best drama) Lol! PKW, JW, and HCA. I dropped top team, too boring and jo ji hoon wasn't enough to keep me watching.

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Ah, first K-drama. Watch more K-dramas and it's like a new world opening up before your eyes, but you'll always remember your first drama...and sometimes you end up wondering why you were so into it in the first place. It's bizarre :) glad you enjoyed watching it though.

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Sorry, double posted :(

Almost forgot, thanks for the review gummi! :)

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I envy you, gummimochi, for watched and "enjoyed" all the dramas ^^
and thank you for your end year's review..

@ Alyyy.. I watched and enjoyed "empire of gold" that's only drama I followed week by week for this year ^^

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aww...one of the most memorable line from cruel city:
" Ajusshi. Gangster Ajusshi. Jung Shi-hyun. Shi-hyun-ah. Shi-hyun Oppa."

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my fav line too...

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I LOLed when gummi said this too. :D

But I was bawling when it was delivered in the drama itself.

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Me, too. *sniff* *sniff*

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Me tooooo.... and the music was perfect in that scene

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yes, really prefect! Everyday, everyday....

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yes! goodness I LOVED Heartless City~ especially Doc's son! Jung Kyung-ho did a great job portraying that role.

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Thanks for the year in review, Gummi.. Am nodding along while reading this, and LOL so hard at:

...I watched for you: I don’t know what I watched for, but everyone needs therapy...

Bwahahaha.. Yup, we do need therapy. If it involves all those pretties and smexy younguns' such as Heirs, noona would join in a heartbeat.. ^^

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oh, oh? where did you see Escaping Slavery, wanna see it too much?

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I want to see it as well! :)

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Me, too! Anybody knows where to watch that? I tried googling but nothing comes up.

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I am looking too. (I see that an alternate title is "Escaping Low Class," but I can't find either title anywhere.)

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i watched it on dailymotion when it first came out, but it got removed after a couple weeks i think. anyway i found this one on naver. its unsubbed: http://blog.naver.com/dnflwlq15305/100199038197

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Only one drama that completely won my heart this year: MASTER'S SUN! Still miss that drama like crazy (find myself watching a few select clips - ok just a lot of clips of So Ji Sub lol) every now and again. I need him and Gong Hyo Jin back together onscreen (or in real life... or both!) ASAP.

Major withdrawals still people!

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Seriously, Master's Sun is the last drama this year I truly fell totally in love with (it wasn't hard, just look at So Ji-sub and Gong Hyo-jin together), and I was just so happy by the end, despite its faults. Because they're the OTP of the year for me, no contest.

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Yup...totally having major So Ji Sub withdrawal after Master's Sun...and now going through his previous dramas, movies, variety, interviews, CFs to get through...

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my fav this year has to be Heartless City.. your line

'I watched for you: Ajusshi. Gangster Ajusshi. Jung Shi-hyun. Shi-hyun-ah. Shi-hyun Oppa.'

so so true.

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Heartless City was possibly my favourite surprise discovery of the year - I'd never even heard of it until people began buzzing on the OT, and I'm so glad I did.

And I totally watched it for Shi-hyun. Jung Kyung-ho carried that show like a boss, and the drug/crime 'family' were fantastic in their roles.

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I don't see I hear your voice on this list
Aww,I absolutely loved that drama
I loved master's sun too

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maybe because it was covered in the part 1? Some are repeated, but some are just covered in other parts, I think.

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Thanks! Now I'll be searching for Escaping Slavery.

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Please let me know if you find it. On a site that will not give me a virus, of course. Lol!

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Sirius; first time I watched Park Hyung Sik, followed by Nine. He was good and close to excellent in both drama regarding his status as an idol-actor and rookie in dramaland. That's why I really dissappointed watching his character in Heirs. He could play much better than as Myung Soo. Really.

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Where's That winter the wind blows? :(((

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Thanks for the reviews, gummi!

I totally agree with you on Good Doctor—it made for a cute, fun watch, but in the end it felt more like a rom-com set in a hospital than a medical drama. Joo-won's acting really deserves praise though; I doubt anyone else could have pulled the role off that well.

Just one thing, though—no School 2013 and I Hear Your Voice? *pouts* I want Adorable Puppy Jong-seok! Now! :(

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*I watched for you: Ajusshi. Gangster Ajusshi. Jung Shi-hyun. Shi-hyun-ah. Shi-hyun Oppa.*

My eyes filled up with tears to see this again

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mine too. Oh and Joanne, i loooooooooved your recaps. ( i finished watching Heartless city a few weeks back and read all your recaps!

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d'aww. you guys. Stop making me miss Cruel City even more than i do..

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Shi Hyun oppa - what a memorable character. And that song from the Cruel City soundtrack - it just totally brought me back to those emotions. Oh the tragedy of being buried in too deep to get yourself out of the situation. And confusion too.

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..... "Soh Ji-sub, I will gladly be your 10 billion won radar. Just pay me in kisses."

I see that gummimochi is reading minds now, in addition to drama-watching. ..... *giggle*

Seriously though, thank you for this review and all you do!

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I'm willing to share Oppa. Hehe. Thank you guys for reading - it's all for you!

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:)

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Glad i'm not the only person that watched Medical Top Team!!

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Heartless City is the best k-drama i've seen this year hands down.....

Couldn't get behind Good Doctor cos it was unrealistic and many fans of the show mostly didn't think things through before commenting.....Let me ask fans of the show one question, If you were admitted in an hospital and are to receive a serious life or death surgery, would you give the green light to an autistic resident doctor that you see acting funny to take care of you? HELL NO.... So while people were angry over the treatment of Joo Won's character i was happy cos that in it self was realistic everything else was just not.....

Incarnation of Money was another really good drama this year that i would not forget...

Heirs: AWFUL, tried pushing myself but couldn't after i think the 7th or 8th episode.

Master's Sun: had it's annoying moment but SO JI SUB...that's all i needed....

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I stayed with Ghost and Master's Sun till they finally hooked me only because of So Ji Sub's face. I just can't explain why I like looking at his face so much. I just love it!

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And his hands! don't forget his hands! :)

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Love the hands

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Love the hands, the face, the hair, the smile...love everything So Ji Sub <3 <3 <3

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The last year in review 1 people kept recommending cruel city and I checked it out. Wow. It is so different from any kdrama I have ever seen. It looks like it should be on American tv on Hbo. The show is well made. Great script and amazing soundtrack.

I thought the music was not everywhere but always at the right place.

If I would recommend only tow dramas this year or to anyone watching kdrama a for first time Cruel city an nine would be those two.

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thanks for the great review!
heartless city, nine and masters sun were my favourites this year!
and i stopped good doctor after the first two episodes, it just seemed so idealistic... dying to see joo won in something else.

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Thank you, gummi! I enjoyed your Good Doctor recaps and heartily agree with you. Yes it's good, Joo Won played autistic savant character very well. He deserves acting award. MCW is also good as Cha Yun Seo. But the political machinations is laughable, the medical cases didn't taken seriously like a joke. Oh well, I'll remember it for introduced Joo Sang Wook, Joo Won, and cute moments

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Thank Gummi for your review.
This year I also watched some drama specials (something new for me). I haven't watched those you mention, but from those I did watch (and remember :--) ) I liked “My friend is still alive” and the 4-episode “Adolescence Medley”.

Potato Star – I'm still watching and enjoying the show (just my ungrateful me wishes for faster subtitles). I do miss Go Kyungpyo from earlier episodes. I rrrrrrrrreally loved him ;--) And I actually think he had better chemistry with Ha Yensoo than Yeo Jingu (OK, the kiss was hot, I admit). I also like his “sister” Seo Yeji, apparently she is a newbie, but I find her rather good. Oh, and I laughed so much with Lee Jongseok's cameo! Though I could do without the laugh track.

I said it many times that Answer Me 1994 should learn some editing.
It is a pity, because the episodes could be so much better... but well, now I got used to it and I'm enjoying the ride. And I don't mind the wedding video as I like watching the 5 male watchers in suits... shallow... :--)
BTW, funny thing that there is a sort of similar (and yet different) Taiwanese drama “In A Good Way” on Friday's nights. Those two drama's are the ones I'm looking forward now.

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I am going to watch Escaping slavery right now. :) thank you.

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Absolutely Loved Watching:

Flower Boy Next Door - I will never forget Yoon Shi Yoon as Enrique Geum!

Incarnation of Money - Money, Justice, and Battle of the Brains done right.

Monstar - I will never forget Yong Jun-hyung as Yoon Sul Chan!
"Yong Jun-hyung, a guitar, and his jjak" :)

Two Weeks - I will never forget Lee Jun-Ki as Jang Tae-San!

Master's Sun - I will never forget So Ji Sub as Joo Joong Won/Joo-Goon!

Worth Watching Just for the Character(s):

Heartless City - I will never forget Jung Kyung Ho as Doctor's Son/Baksa Adeul/Jung Shi Hyun!

Mi-Rae's Choice - Yoon Eun Hye (as Na Mi Rae)
Lee Dong Gun (as Kim Shin), Jung Yong Hwa (as Park Se Joo), and Han Chae Ah (as Seo Yoo Kyung).

Heirs - Lee Min-Ho (as Kim Tan), Kim Woo-Bin (as Choi Young-Do), Kang Ha-neul (as Lee Hyo-Shin), and Choi Jin-Hyuk (as Kim Won).

Watched Just for the Actor:

Dating Agency Cyrano - Lee Jong-Hyuk

Who Are You? - Kim Jae-Wook

Memorable OST:
Heartless City (AKA Cruel City)
Heirs
Incarnation of Money
Master's Sun
Monstar
Two Weeks

Honorable Mention:
Empire of Gold

To Watch List:
Potato Star
Answer Me 1994
Sirius
Escaping Slavery
Mandate of Heaven
White Christmas
Medical Top Team (Only for Joo Ji Hoon and Jung Ryeo Won)

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Wow, I realized as I read over gummimochi's list and that I watched A LOT of kdramas this year. I don't regret it at all - love my real fake kdrama life these days. I even got into manga inspired drawing (right now I'm working on portraits from Infinity Challenge Free Highway [Music] Festival and have drawn several of GD, Hong Don, Kim C, Dynamic Duo, a few others. Oh, and I am finishing one of Simon and Martina of eatyourkimchi fame- they're fun ! Kdramaland makes me happy :)

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I was surprised how many on this list that I have NOT watched - or in some cases simply never finished. Some, like saeguks, I just cannot handle much of, but discounting those, it seems like I started a lot more than I finished.

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Saejuks are not my thing either windsun33 . On this list I just bypassed Mandate of Heaven without even thinking about it. I am still pretty new to kdramas, so I don't usually stop watching, but I did not finish the last 2 eps of Two Weeks. Just couldn't watch another accident/crisis/twist/chase within that infamous 2 week time frame. The rest I watched - just finished Meh-dical Top Team tonight. It did not move my world, but the story was watchable. FBND, Heartless City, The Good Doctor , Monstar, Cyrano Dating Agency, Heirs - watched them all with happy memories. Was When A Man Loves on the other list? Not to mention that I got into quite a few entertainment variety shows since late summer, August or Sept. and follow them weekly as well. Yep, its a kdrama life for me ~

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Thatttsss it. Im going back to rewatch some select scenes from cruel city.
<3
BAKSAAAAA -- im coming for you!

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I just did that very thing this week (eps 9, 10 15). I think I'll hunker down for an all-out marathon over Christmas break !

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Thanks for the review, Gummimochi. It has generated my interest in Sirius and Flower Boy Next Door. I'll definitely try them out.

I agree with you that Incarnation of Money could have been very grand and epic. It was at times (when my heart rushed for a few measly episodes as Cha Don was baiting the baddies and making them squirm or when the tables turned onto him) but those times were fewer than I wanted. Moreover, I felt a bit disappointed that the money aspect of the drama was actually not a major concern as I thought it would be. Like, the show had started with the idea that money is what makes the world turn and that a person is useless without it. Yet, as Cha Don fought his battles against Se-Kwang, he did so without resorting much to money and more on his skills. Even Se-kwang did not have a focus on the money....he gained power through political connections using his position as a prosecutor to threaten/intimidate/flatter other politicians. So yeah, I'd say that I had expected a lot from this drama since it came from the team of Giant/History of a Salaryman and it did show the production team's excellent writing skills from time to time, but in the end, it didn't quite meet the expectations. I was even shocked that there was such a superficial character as Bok Jae-In....no annoying character has ever existed in the other dramas. They were all awesome in their own ways.

Regarding Dating Agency Cyrano, I think the best thing out of that was discovering Sooyoung. I'd like to see this actress on more dramas. She's very pretty and is capable of acting. Plus, I liked how she portrayed her character. Overall, the show was decent-ish. It could have been more exciting or emotionally tugging but I liked it.

I guess I should give Heartless City another go. I dropped it at ep 10 because the cop stupidity and the heroine annoyed the heck out of me. But in my heart, Baksa Adeul is calling and I keep gravitating towards him. Heh.

In Good Doctor, I fast-forwarded the hospital politics stuff. I was only in it to see Joo Won's Shi On as an autistic person make it into the medical world and fulfill his dreams. In some ways that went well and in others it didn't. I felt like his path to success was a bit too easy. Sure, he made mistakes here and there...but that was mostly on imaginary patients. By mid-drama, he was happily accepted by most people and doing rather well. Which can be pretty boring when the main conflict you're looking forward to is the one that got resolved a bit easily and quickly.

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i guess if there's one reason to keep watching Heartless City, it'd be Jung Kyung-ho. the story doesn't get better after episode 10, to be very honest. some of the story beats were already being recycled by then.

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You know when Baksa Adeul (Doctor's Son) calls, you have to answer. :)

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"Been waiting for your call, baby~"

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Lee Chun Hee in Cyrano Dating Agency? I didn't know that! Okay, I have to watch it. :)

Thanks for this, gummimochi~!!

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He was quite under-ultilized though :(

But do watch Cyrano. It was a light breezy watch that I enjoyed. The female lead was surprisingly likeable (I wouldn't have typically liked her character but she played it with a right amount of spunk, heart and fortitude) and some of the setups were quite clever and funny.

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CDA was fun and breezy!

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I started watching k-drama this year. My first k-drama was boys over flower but my favourite arE Secret garden and My Girl, I love those dramas (warts and all)

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My favorite for this year were

1- Heirs . what does any one whose in his right mind didnt like Heirs . Seriously . I adore it and enjoyed every minute in it .

2- Masters sun . At the beginning I wondered why is every one is talking about it . But after watching the first 15 min I became a crazy fan hhhhh

Thats all for me .

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Let me break it for you:

Leading couple with no chemistry
Pussy AND controlling leading man
Second guy as controlling and jerk as the main guy
Secondary characters that were interesting having less than 3 minutes
Good actors being wasted
Lame kiss scenes
Annoying OST
Bullying everywhere. Everywhere.
PSH crying for almost all series no thank you
LMH blank face acting

And so on :)

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In a few years when you take off those fangirl sunglasses, you'll realize how mediocre Heirs truely is, just like those BoF fans a few years back.

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but fangirl sunglasses are the best, rose colored and all! Don't make me take them off, zodd, I love my kdrama world through fangirl sunglasses :)

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HEIRS:

All That Glitters is Not Gold!

Much Ado About Nothing!

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Thanks for the summary. You gave me a few dramas to consider watching.

" In other words, Heirs is like a fabergé egg: imperial and ornate, but hollow and empty inside."

I hate to be didactic, but - one of the most striking aspects of Faberge eggs was that they *did* have things inside. In fact, the most elaborately jeweled and cleverly engineered part of the design was usually the structure or surprise inside of the egg. It was part of their original cache, with the royals competing to own eggs with ever more elaborate "inner surprises." They included royal portraits, animals, flowers, or scenes made of jewels. The Faberge Royal Imperial Easter eggs were a prime example of eggs with very inventive insides.

Of course, one had to be interested enough to take the time to open them to find what was inside, though (analogy to Heirs, perhaps? :).

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P.S. Not really apropos to anything but my love of Faberge eggs, but ones with a great inner surprise is the Gatchina Palace Egg - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/22/House_of_Faberg%C3%A9_-_Gatchina_Palace_Egg_-_Walters_44500_-_Open_View_B.jpg - and it's here in my hometown of Baltimore, so I can visit it whenever i Like.

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Did anyone watch Birth Secret this year? Am I the only one who watched it?

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I only started dramas last year. My first one was 9 ends 2 outs which I loved, but Reply 1997 was the next one after that and it set such a high precedent that the dramas this year couldn't hold up to. Still, there many dramas I liked.

I only finished dramas I liked so I only completed the follwing:

1. Flower Boy Next Door
2. Master's Sun
3. You're the Best Lee Soon Shin (this is probably why I didn't catch as many other dramas).
4. Heirs
5. Last Cinderella for J-dramas
6. Tokyo Kiss for J-dramas
7. Skimmed but finished "She is Wow". This is probably the most disappointing.

I enjoyed them all. I tried I Hear Your Voice, School 2013, and Nine, but couldn't get into them. I think IHYV and School 2013 were too heavy for me, but Nine just bored me to tears.

I still want to watch Dating Agency, Potato Star, Reply 1994, and Monstar.

The year has been kind of meh for J-dramas and T-dramas. There were some nice K-dramas for me though.

Overall a nice first full year as a drama-watcher though =)

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On a side note, I want Park Shin Hye to take on a really extroverted, bombastic, maybe flirty character.

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I agree, and I'd take it one step further - I'd love to see her play a bad girl for once, just to see what she would do with it.

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She needs to take up a bitchy role -- fiesty, angry, temperamental, but SMART.
We've already seen what she can put out really well -- angst and tears. and more tears. girl's been wringing out those tears since the olden days of stairway to heaven which is prob why she's so good at it.
But i want to see her take on a more challenging role. Go Dok Mi from FBND was a challenging role that i think she did well with.
But i want to see this girl with some FIRE. and passion. And less stiff, closed-mouthed kisses.

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- Incarnation of Money was a joke
- Mandate of Heaven.... Rang-ah!!! <3
- Heartless City.... Doctor's Sun ^.^ Jung. Shi. Hyun... Shi Hyun-ah, Shi Hyun oppa .< In a good way... Lee Jun Kiiiiii =)
- Mi-rae's Choice was... a hot mess, s' all I'm sayin'
- Medical Top Team: still working on it... slowly... and will finish it... some...day.... BUT!! KWON SANG WOO (and his little lisp <3)!!! JOO JI HOON <3
- Heirs, like mentioned above: everyone, EVERYONE needs therapy in this on... it was one overrated, VERY OVERRATED, mind you, full of nothingness that needs help... cuz there was no story, and episode 20 just felt like mesh cuz the writer-nim needed to fork up 1 more hour of episode material, which *sigh* BUT, I will say this: CHOI. JIN. HYUK <3 THANK THE DRAMA GODS that he's been cast in a new drama, that will HOPEFULLY put his talent to good use, unlike how Heirs DIDN'T.... but I'm also worried for his health, cuz he's basically going from 1 drama set to the next T.T
- Answer Me 1994... MY HEART!!! MY FEELS!!! Oppa!!!!! Chillbongie!!!! HAITAI!!!!!

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whoops!! I was too excited about Heartless City and my Shi Hyun oppa that I accidentally meshed Two Weeks into it haha

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Don't worry Choi Jin Hyuk is not overworked! He hardly appear much in HEIRS with 5 min screen times each ep, most probably 1-2 days work per week. Like someone mentioned before CJH will someday mentioned this to his children "You know I was in this most hyped & talked about kdrama in my times and it was the easiest job ever! LOL!

Yeah, THANKS the Drama God indeed that he will get to show off his talent properly in his new drama, ER MAN & WOMAN Fighting!

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Medical Top Team :
"I watched for you: Completely accurate medical terminolo—oh, who am I kidding; it was all Joo Ji-hoon.
"

I first watched it for Jung Ryeo Won - then started to swoon everytime Joo Ji-hoon appeared on screen - (first time seeing him in a kdrama - have to go dig out his old stuff).

Swoon with puppy eyes every time his stern face appears on screen and then when he started to smile in the last 2 episodes - it completely did me in!

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Same! He was so subtle that you had to really concentrate on every nuance of his expression - I said before (kinda jokingly) that MTT had more actual romance than Mirae's Choice! but I stand by that - it's got more kissing too!!

And he and Seo Ju-young even did that sleeping pose from Master's Sun! Squee!

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I actually sort of liked Who Are You - but it would have been a lot better without the all too common k-drama "stupid cop syndrome".

Master's Sun and Secrets are still my favorites, but there seemed to be a lack of other compelling dramas. I watched many of them, but I also dropped a lot more than usual. And a couple I wish I had dropped, like Mi Rae :(

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@Windsun33
"I actually sort of liked Who Are You – but it would have been a lot better without the all too common k-drama “stupid cop syndrome”.

No way...Oh come on, I can't believe it. You have got to be kidding - right?

I am quite surprised by this :)

As much as you drilled it into us/posted for all to read week after week, episode after episode regarding your love for all things Secret Love - I am surprised that "Who Are You?" didn't render you with the desire to rant against/hate it like you do all things Heirs (your words dead fish lead actress Park Shin-Hye, must hate men writer Kim Eun-Sook, KT/ES's lack of chemistry, etc.).

Kim Jae Wook did an excellent job with the character of Lee Hyung-Joon in WAY. Most of us who watched WAY, felt that Kim Jae Wook should have been the lead!

It was a struggle to continue watching WAY week after week because of the absurd moments and the incompetency that Cha Gun-Woo and Yang Shi-On exhibited as police officers.

As the drama progressed, it was harder and harder for TaecYeon to persuade me with his portrayal of Cha Gun-Woo that he and Yang Shi-On were the OTP in this drama in comparison to the acting skills of Kim Jae Wook.
It was torture watching So E-Hyun and TaecYeon portray “romantic” chemistry that just wasn’t there. The chemistry between them felt more like a brother/sister type of camaraderie.

Also, the acting limitations of So E-Hyun were definitely exposed in her portrayal of the character Yang Shi-On. I doubt if it was just the way the writer wrote the character.

Heirs has its faults, but it is full of memorable and distinctive characters (portrayed by Kim Woo-Bin, Lee Min-Ho, Choi Jin-Hyuk, Kim Sung-Ryoung, Kim Mi-Kyung, Kang Ha-Neul, and Krystal) that for the most part evoked in depth discussions and reactions on the Dramabeans recap thread after each episode.

Sure, some of the early and latter episodes might have been slow paced and light (or filler) in terms of substance, but when its content, themes, fractured relationships, and plots were introduced, Heirs became a more engaging and thought provoking drama than Who Are You?.

Some actors (pairings) have it and some don’t (WAY and Heirs). I might not have cared for KT/ES as the OTP, but their romance or lack thereof didn't impede upon my enjoyment of Heirs.

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WAY was pretty much a casual watch for me, I did not have much invested in it emotionally either way. It was not good enough to rave about, not bad enough or annoying enough to hate. I make no apologies for my out of control Secrets fanaticism :D

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Correction:

(your words dead fish lead actress Park Shin-Hye, must hate women writer Kim Eun-Sook, KT/ES’s lack of chemistry, etc.).

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I am not taking back my dead fish comments. KES may or may not hate women but I don't like most of her female characters in what I have seen. Yup, no chemistry.

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Again, Queen's of classroom was not watched and ignored.

T______________T

I know a plot involving a teacher and children might not be exciting, but I swear that drama moved and warmed my heart more than the other dramas that aired on 2013.

A little underated gem.

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