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2014 Editors’ Picks [Year in Review, Part 6]

And now for the Editors’ Picks, which closes out another Year in Review series (and another year, which hardly seems possible, but apparently time stops for no one, no matter how we beg). As ever, we’re grateful to gummimochi and HeadsNo2 for all their awesome recaps and reviews, whether rain or snow or, in some cases, physical ailments—the drama love is strong and relentless, just the way we like it.

This year we were happy to welcome new minions into our midst, and are thankful to have their contributions to Dramabeans, ensuring that we all get more of our drama fix than is perhaps healthy. Joining us in the Picks are dramallama, purplecow, and LollyPip, and we can’t forget the awesome work regularly put out by odilettante, Fanderay, awcoconuts, and Saya.

Most of all, thanks to all of you for being a part of our family and the humongous living room couch we like to think of Dramabeans as being. Here’s to one jam-packed year, and let’s all put in our wishes for a good one to come!

Much love and thanks from javabeans and girlfriday!

 

2014 Editors’ Picks

 

BEST DRAMA

Misaeng

girlfriday: In a dramaland where supernatural heroes, kings, and chaebols rule much of the landscape, it’s all the more extraordinary when a drama makes heroes of the ordinary—regular office workers in a regular city, in a regular income bracket with regular concerns like supporting your family and just making it through your day. Misaeng depicted that ordinariness with technical mastery and incisive social commentary, all with a sense of humor and an artistic flair. In some sense, it was a drama that made mountains out of molehills, but it’s in the daily battles that an Everyman experiences the dramas of life. What made Misaeng so relatable is that it bothered to ask the tough questions: Is my job all I am? Where do I belong? What do we do it all for? Am I really alone? And instead of giving us pat happy answers, it invited us to consider that we’re all living incomplete lives and none of us has all the answers. In that one thing—and so, possibly a great many things—we are not alone.

Nominees
Liar Game
Secret Love Affair
You From Another Star

 

BEST ACTOR

Lee Je-hoon, Secret Door

girlfriday: Secret Door ended up being a disappointment on many fronts, but it had some of the strongest performances of the year. Mostly that just adds to my heartbreak for the drama that it wasn’t, but I can still appreciate the beauty of Lee Je-hoon’s passionate performance as one of the most tragic figures in Joseon’s history. His Crown Prince Sado was at times youthful and idealistic, and other times crushed by defeat and boiling over with rage. But even as his own father gave him up as a political pawn time and time again, he managed to crush our hearts by playing each moment of despair with that last shred of hope still hanging on, underneath it all. I don’t know how he does it, but Lee Je-hoon can embody a character so completely that he’s simultaneously crying and smiling, while trying not to betray the lifetime of pain that’s reflected in his eyeballs, and not make it seem like acting.

Nominees
Im Shi-wan (Misaeng)
Jang Hyuk (Fated To Love You)
Jo Seung-woo (God’s Gift–14 Days)
Seo In-gook (High School King of Savvy)

 

BEST ACTRESS

Jeon Ji-hyun, You From Another Star

javabeans: Sometimes an actor has the good fortune to come across a character so well-conceived that it would have propelled anybody to success; those actors owe Fate a debt of gratitude for gifting them with the draw. And at other times, it’s the actor who brings her own magic to a role and creates her own success, as Jeon Ji-hyun did in You From Another Star, taking generally likable parts and fashioning them into a sparkling, one-of-a-kind character who became an instant icon. Jeon’s natural charisma was an asset, certainly, but it took more than mere charm to give our boldly brash, cheeky heroine her winning combination of hilariously skewed hauteur and earnest sweetness. Jeon could turn her emotions around on a dime, traversing a wide swath of comedic and dramatic terrain in a flash, drawing us into the immediacy of the moment. Sure, Do Manager came from outer space, but it was Jeon Ji-hyun who sucked us into her orbit.

Nominees
Han Groo (Marriage Not Dating)
Kim Hee-ae (Secret Love Affair)
Lee Bo-young (God’s Gift–14 Days)

 

BEST DIRECTING

Misaeng

javabeans: A drama tracking the daily ins and outs of corporate office workers sounds, at its most exciting, understated and realistic. But not for nothing has Misaeng broken molds and drawn praise for taking a new angle to dramaland storytelling; even the smallest of disruptions in the office quotidian were pumped full of feeling—not via heightened emotional melodramas, but guided expertly by the director’s ability to edit moments to their most effective kernel, and to their most biting effect. He built tension and agita with every cut, whether injecting a lighthearted beat with a thread of unease or undercutting a moment of despair with wry humor. Misaeng’s director refused to veer from his creative vision and kept a firm grip on its execution every step of the way. Thankfully for us, his creative vision was to deliver relatable emotions shaped by a razor-sharp insight that could veer on the painful, though in a good-ish way. The sting is what makes you feel alive.

Nominees
Liar Game
Marriage Not Dating
Secret Love Affair

 

BEST THRILLER

Liar Game

HeadsNo2: Smart, sleek, and tightly written, Liar Game was a psychological thriller of the highest order, not to mention one of the year’s best dramas overall. Tension came from all quarters, with a devious villain, an enormous cash sum, and a reality show where you can win it all if you not only sell your soul, but cheat your neighbor out of his. The game structure drove the narrative, a truly standout cast of characters shone, and each round brought with it its own unique set of challenges and seemingly insurmountable odds, bringing us to the edge of our collective seat by pitting a smart, scheming good guy against an equally smart, equally scheming, but way less good guy. Their confrontations alone were the stuff of any drama watcher’s dreams, almost as if Liar Game faced the usual pitfalls of its genre and said to itself, “I have a way to win.” And win it did.

Nominees
Bad Guys
Gap-dong
God’s Gift–14 Days

 

BEST COMEDY

Marriage Not Dating

purplecow: Marriage Not Dating was a wonderful surprise. The writing and the excellent performances by the leads breathed new and hilarious life into a familiar premise: fake it till you fall in love. Marriage Not Dating was rock solid in its execution, propelled by the fantastic comedic chops of Han Groo and Yeon Woo-jin, whether she was drinking like a fish or pooping her pants, or he was flexing his flabby abs. With in-laws snooping around the finicky bachelor and his faux fiancée who wore her heart on her sleeve, the show balanced humor with real emotion, eliciting laughter and tears in equal measure. It’s no easy feat to develop characters you can laugh at but still feel for, and the ease with which Marriage Not Dating accomplished that was one of its greatest strengths.

Nominees
Fated To Love You
High School King of Savvy
You From Another Star

 

BEST MELODRAMA

Secret Love Affair

HeadsNo2: Melodramas may not have their finger on the pulse of what’s new and noteworthy, but if their strength is their ability to plumb the depths of human emotion, then Secret Love Affair can be counted as this year’s best effort. Set in a world of cold chaebols and loveless marriages, it told the story of a woman trapped in a prison of her own making and her impassioned romance with a musical genius young enough to believably pass as her own son, and did so through the delicate intermingling of taut, focused cinematography along with the use of music as a tool to motivate, punctuate, and yes, sometimes even sexually stimulate its characters. Hey, no one said the best melodrama had to be the most well-adjusted.

Nominees
Full Sun

 

BEST HISTORICAL DRAMA

Empress Ki

HeadsNo2: There’s a distinction to be made between best and most historical drama, since Empress Ki wouldn’t be in the running if it was being judged by the latter distinction. But where other shows got bogged down by factual details, Ki thrived for its fifty-episode run by focusing on being entertaining above all things—because while history might’ve told us that the titular empress was once a Goryeo woman, it wouldn’t have featured her band of thieves, her cross-dressing past, and most importantly, her epic love triangle. It’s not easy being torn between the love of your king and the adoration of your doe-eyed invading conquerer of a husband, but that’s one of the perks of being Ha Ji-won.

Nominees
Joseon Gunman
Three Musketeers

 

BEST WRITING

Misaeng

girlfriday: Adapting Misaeng had the double burden of being faithful to characters of a beloved webtoon, while fleshing out an entire drama world with all the nooks and crannies that don’t exist on the page—the loose, situational narrative had to be given an emotional through line, and characters that come and go for one episode’s conflict had to suddenly be given life stories. But Misaeng managed to make us care about minor characters and the minutiae of everyday office work by imbuing every interaction with unflinching realism, gripping tension, and a deep universal hunger for acceptance in this world. And what it did best was deftly subvert clichés by setting up loveless lovelines between rookie employees and their bosses, where there was as much meaning in a drink shared with a person you respect as getting a confession of love. In what other dramaverse is “See you tomorrow” or “Our kid” a declaration that pinches your heart and makes you swoon?

Nominees
Liar Game
Marriage Not Dating
You From Another Star

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Lee Sung-min, Misaeng

javabeans: It’s absolutely no surprise that Lee Sung-min would put in another strong performance in another drama, having built a long career in doing just that for every role he’s taken on. But even with that expectation, Lee connected to his Misaeng role with a wonderful synchronicity, breathing life into his character—it was a world-wearied, long-suffering life, true, but palpable in its realness. It didn’t seem as though we were watching an actor putting on a well-crafted act; Lee effectively became Chief Oh in all of his bedraggled, stressed, and relatable pathos. He was the kind of realistic hero you wished you could look up to and follow in real life, whether you were a Young-yi or a Baek-ki or a Jang Geu-rae. Although really, aren’t we all Jang Geu-rae?

Nominees
Han Seok-kyu (Secret Door)
Jo Jin-woong (Full Sun)
Shin Sung-rok (Liar Game)

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Park Eun-bin, Secret Door

javabeans: Secret Door was perhaps worth watching for the acting performances alone (I certainly wasn’t watching for its narrative focus or plot direction), and Park Eun-bin turned in an outstanding performance that was at once commanding, icy, and vulnerable. A lack of screen time can inhibit many an actor from fully realizing a character; Park was not thus hindered. She went ahead and crafted a full performance anyway, by degrees drawing warmth into the tightly controlled Princess Hyegyeong without dulling her steeliness or curbing her political acumen. This was a woman with an inner life, which Park was impressively able to convey in even the briefest moments onscreen. The viewers took note, finding relatability in an unexpected quarter, and the role developed into something more than was perhaps intended—more complex, more feeling, more genuine.

Nominees
Jeon Hye-bin (Joseon Gunman)
Kim Seul-gi (Discovery of Romance)
Seo Hyun-jin (Three Musketeers)

 

BEST ENSEMBLE

Bad Guys

gummimochi: Calling upon criminals to clean the streets of the dregs of society might sound like a dangerous gamble, but as it turned out, they were the best guys for the job. No one knew the underground better than a mob boss, an assassin-for-hire, and a genius psychopath serial killer led by one dogged detective; once these hunting dogs chomped down on a baddie, you could bet they’d never let go. And while these criminal consultants brought their individual expertise to the table, these Bad Guys worked even better as a collective unit, making them one seriously badass crime-fighting team that made being bad look so very good.

Nominees
Misaeng
Three Musketeers

 

BEST MUSIC

Plus Nine Boys

girlfriday: There used to be a time when the only way I ever knew that a boy liked me is if he made me a mixtape—feelings all laid out in a string of songs that tell a story you can’t quite say in words. Plus Nine Boys is that mixtape, not only deliberately in format, but in that lovingly crafted way where each song is loaded with sentimental meaning, sets a mood, and says all the things our characters can’t say. The drama’s writing itself lacked for the kind of cohesion found on the jam-packed soundtrack of indie love songs, which minute for minute informed as much of their emotional states as the dialogue did. Music was how the boys searched their dusty memories, confessed their pent-up feelings, and swayed their girls to give them second chances. It actually makes you wonder: If Loveholic didn’t sing it, would they never have found love?

Nominees
Secret Love Affair

 

BEST ROMANCE

You From Another Star, Kim Soo-hyun & Jeon Ji-hyun

purplecow: With the undeniable chemistry between Jeon Ji-hyun and Kim Soo-hyun in The Thieves (they only kissed once, but man was it steamy!), everyone had high hopes for their reunion in You From Another Star—and our leads didn’t disappoint. She was a fascinating character in her own right, at once wonderfully crass and refreshingly open, but put her in a room with the jaded professor-manager-alien and magic happened. They were the perfect match; if he wasn’t saving her life or offering her a shoulder to cry on, she was busy thawing his heart or poking holes in his crusty exterior. Their love transcended centuries, galaxies, a psychotic chaebol with crazy eyes, and—most horrifying of all—disease-causing kisses.

Nominees
Fated To Love You (Jang Nara & Jang Hyuk)
Marriage Not Dating (Han Groo & Yeon Woo-jin)
Miss Korea (Lee Yeon-hee & Lee Seon-kyun)
Pinocchio (Lee Jong-seok & Park Shin-hye)

 

BEST BROMANCE

Three Musketeers

LollyPip: If the strongest bromances are the ones that are hard-fought and hard-won, then it’s no surprise that the four-way bromance between the prince and his musketeers was the best bromance of the year. They went from butting heads to being willing to die for each other (though not without griping about it), with a few stops in prison and at least one death (or was it?) along the way. Best of all was rookie Dal-hyang and Prince Sohyeon’s journey from jealous men quarreling over the same woman to buddies who respected and honored each other. The show made sure to give each friendship of this foursome its own distinct flavor and appeal, making it a hoot no matter which musketeer was swinging his sword in battle, tricking his wife into kisses, or saving the others’ lives.

Nominees
Bad Guys
Misaeng
You’re All Surrounded

 

BEST GIRLFRIENDS

Surplus Princess

HeadsNo2: While no one would argue against a good bromance, having a solid female friendship used to be—and still is—the rare white elk of dramaland, which makes it feel that much more accomplished when a show really nails it. On the surface, Surplus Princess might have seemed overly bubbly or lacking depth, but it constantly surprised us in its ability to subvert well-worn tropes with a dash of good-natured comedy. Professional foodie Hye-young turned into a mermaid’s unlikely best friend, because despite the grumpy facade, nothing says love like late nights spent drying your friend’s fish tail back into human legs so she can woo the man of her dreams. That, and sharing your stockpiles of chicken legs, ramyun bowls, and mountains of takoyaki. Now that’s a real friend.

Nominees
Discovery of Romance
Let’s Eat
Witch’s Romance

 

BEST CHARACTER

Chun Song-yi, You From Another Star

dramallama: In a year of lovable office grunts, mathematical liars, and a sea of noble idiots, one character stuck out like a pair of glittery heels. Coming back to television after fourteen years, Jeon Ji-hyun hit another career peak by eliciting envy from a whole ‘nother generation of drama watchers in her creation of the fabulous, shameless, yet poignant Chun Song-yi. Her character was so well-branded that the real world reflected her virtual fame and googling “Chun Song-yi” meant inseparable related searches about her makeup, style, and lipstick. But behind the “effortless” beauty, brazen attitude, hilarious frivolity, and egotistical façade were heartbreaking vulnerabilities in her longing for acceptance and an escape from isolation. She was a wonderful combination of outlandish humor and heart, and best of all, she embodied the phrase “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” with a strut, a pop of lip color, and one simple word: sawry (not sawry).

Nominees
Chief Oh (Misaeng)
Ha Woo-jin (Liar Game)
Secretary Go (Iron Man)

 

BEST VILLAIN

Shin Sung-rok, Liar Game

HeadsNo2: Dangerous and smart (and dangerously smart), Liar Game’s Gamemaster embodied a man utterly unburdened by morality and hollow inside. His determination to lay bare people’s greed and show them for who they really were made him a darker breed of villain—he wasn’t out to claim anything for himself, only to peel off the hypocrisy people wear as a mask. Add that to his ability to read and manipulate people without them ever realizing, plus his talent for articulating his warped worldview into actual sense, and you got a mirror reflecting our deepest and most ugly truths right back at us. A villain who’s out to prove that we’re the real villains? What could be scarier?

Nominees
Han Seok-kyu (Secret Door)
Lee Joon (Gap-dong)
Shin Sung-rok (You From Another Star)
Yoo Oh-sung (Joseon Gunman)

 

BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE

Han Groo, Marriage Not Dating

gummimochi: Ever since wowing in her debut as a kickass assassin in Girl K, Han Groo has been building up her repertoire in a variety of genres—revenge stories, melodramas, romantic comedies. Still, it wasn’t until Marriage Not Dating came along that her comedic brilliance shone through, capturing our hearts and tickling our funny bones. She made us laugh with her willingness to go balls-out for the joke and cry with her character’s unconventional mix of drunken frankness, sweet vulnerability, and bulldoggish loyalty. Just 22 years young, Han Groo surely has a bright future.

Nominees
Im Shi-wan (Misaeng)
Lee Joon (Gap-dong)
Park Seo-joon (Witch’s Romance)

 

BIGGEST WASTE OF TALENT

Jung Il-woo, Records of a Night Watchman

LollyPip: While I actually enjoyed Night Watchman as long as I didn’t look too closely, there’s no doubt that Jung Il-woo was way overcast and overtalented for this silly, overwrought sageuk about an exiled prince who could see and fight ghosts. Considering that Jung Il-woo is one of those actors who can wring great wracking sobs out of me, it was a bit disheartening to see him trying so hard to bring meaning and depth to a show that just… wasn’t. Give him props, though, for deciding at some point along the way to just have fun with it. And he did. Even when the drama failed to make sense of its own mythology, he was the half-full glass of silver lining, flashing a crooked grin that said he would make the best of it, and he took us right along with him.

Nominees
Lee Beom-soo (Triangle)
Rain (She’s So Lovable)

 

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

God’s Gift–14 Days

gummimochi: Action-packed, riveting, and compelling, God’s Gift hit the ground running and had everything going for it—every hour built upon the one that preceded it, taking us through twists that made us gasp at each suspenseful turn. More importantly, there was an assurance that this murder mystery knew where it was going, so we were willing to go for the ride and root for the mother determined to save her child from a grim fate and the man committed to do anything to help her. Never have we been so wrong. It just so happens that you really can unravel fifteen hours’ worth of nail-biting suspense and character development in one hour, and I can still hear the cries of the wronged calling from the chilly waters of Noble Idiocy Lake.

Nominees
Age of Feeling
Doctor Stranger
Gap-dong
Secret Door

 

BEST ADAPTATION

Liar Game

gummimochi: In a sea of remakes and adaptations offered this year, Liar Game proved that it’s possible to tell the same story, make it your own, and make it awesome. The psychological thriller taught us that virtually anyone could be pushed to the edge of morality (and sometimes beyond) when tempted with a whiff of cold, hard cash. The lessons remained the same from its manga roots to the 2007 Japanese live-action to the Korean adaptation, although this version took a few liberties, sometimes even for the better. By turning a mirror on itself and setting its stage in a reality show, this Liar Game turned a cynical lens and satirical eye on the very kind of entertainment it provides. Purists might see that as gaps preventing this show from being the perfect adaptation, but it was one hell of an entertaining watch from start to finish. Not even lyin’.

Nominees
Cantabile Tomorrow
Fated To Love You
Misaeng
Three Musketeers

 

MOST DADDY ISSUES

Secret Door, King Yeongjo & Prince Sun (Sado)

girlfriday: Dramas are no stranger to daddy issues—we’re all quite desensitized to the depths of badness that fathers can reach in their ever-increasing ways to ruin drama heroes and heroines’ lives by now… or so you’d think, until you watch Secret Door. Han Seok-kyu’s King Yeongjo is perhaps the worst combination of traits you could ask for in a father: brilliant, exacting, tyrannical, paranoid, cowardly, distrusting, and quite possibly a little mad. But the worst part is that he was just loving enough to feel remorse for his actions and make his son trust him one last time, again and again. We might never know all the reasons that drove Yeongjo to order the death of his own son (and by such a gruesome method at that), but as arguably one of the Baddest Daddies in all of history, it goes without saying that he takes that crown in dramaland too.

Nominees
Joseon Gunman (Minister Kim & Ho-kyung)
King’s Face (King Seonjo & Prince Gwanghae)
Three Musketeers (King Injo & Prince Sohyeon)

 

MOST SUCCESSFUL AT CHEATING DEATH

Jin Se-yeon, Doctor Stranger

gummimochi: We had a lot of character deaths in dramaland this year. It’s pretty standard: they die, they go away, it’s over. Or is it? This year, Doctor Stranger proved that ain’t nuthin’ gonna keep you down, be it bullets, prison camps, Northern spies, the 38th parallel, or even falling from all of the bridges in all of the Koreas. Not even death, which could be cheated with new body parts, a cover life as a doppelganger, and a healthy disregard for logic. To be fair, perhaps Jin Se-yeon’s previous lives (er, deaths) were enough to appease Death this time around. No guarantees for the next one, though.

Nominees
Lee Jun-ki (Joseon Gunman)
Kim Yoo-bin (God’s Gift–14 Days)
Yoo In-young (Three Musketeers)

 

MOST DEAD

 

And that was 2014! Thanks for hanging out with us at Dramabeans this year, and we look forward to ringing in a new year chock-full of multiple personalities, blood-abstaining vampires, and the whole shebang of tried-and-trues—’cause where would dramaland be without our perky heroines, stuffy chaebol heroes, and all that addictive narrative crack?

 
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Great pick!
MOST SUCCESSFUL AT CHEATING DEATH- lol

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I swear there is a running joke in dramaland about how many times Jin Se Yeon can die in her shows.

*shakes head*

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Maybe one day she'll become the Sean Bean of kdramas...

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Sean Bean dies veeery well, though.

btw, someone came with a theory that SB dies in evey film, 'cause his name doesn't rhyme :D

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she should tell her secret to‎ Kim Nam Gil as well

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lol

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yes, I want to see Kim Nam Gil's charater put his kids to bed, not him end in a dirt bed

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Thanks so much you wonderfully talented DB people. I read your review with the greatest of delight and a grin on my face. So well thought out, well written, so true and even entertaining.

Bless you all for your work and passion, may good health dog your footsteps and may you continue to enjoy your 'work' in the year(s) ahead, even as you bring smiles and joy to our drama viewing lives.

A blessed and happy New Year to All! :)

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My version
Best drama: It's Ok It's Love (This is one of the original drama plot).

I would pick Discovery of Romance as bum and OSTs.

Break out performances: Jo In Sung and Eric.

Best historical drama: Jong Do Jeon (I wonder why Dramabeans never included this one since it got highly prises from historical experts in Korea and stated as one of the best historical drama ever).

Best melodrama: My Spring Days

Best actress: Ha Ji Won & Jun Ji Hyun

Best actor: Lee Jun Ki

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my version,
best drama :1.empress ki 2. three musketeers
best melodrama : temptation
best actor : joo jin mo
best charracter : king Wangyo, Danashiri, n prince Sohyun
for thriller n comedy i haven't found any drama that make deep impression for me
best actress :????

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THANK YOU.Empress ki is always the best drama. I got 2 drama converts out of this and one of them watched it raw,hypnotized. In total I've watched it like 6 times.
followed by its okay that's love.

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How are Jo In Dung and Eric breakout performances?
That term is reserved for actors that just can't into their own.
This two have been around and good for quite a long time

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Yeah. Jo in sung especially is an elite a-list actor.

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How come DB didn't include the three super awesome 'veteran actors' Jo In Sung-Jang Hyuk-Eric Mun??????????!!!! Jo In Sung , Oh my...his actings always the best whatever the roles he played. I watched all of his dramas and movie and till now I never felt disappointed. He will be the next Choi Min Sik. Jang Hyuk, whether comedy and melodrama, he played it really well. Eric Mun, the phenomenon 'without dialoque' actings were totally out of the box.

And Jeong Do Jeon. You guys should watch and I guarantee after that you could say this is the best of the 'true' historical drama that ever made.

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Sorry for butting in here, but since it seems like you've watched it, can you tell me your opinion on Jung Do Jeon? I mean, from what you're saying I'm guessing it was good. I love sageuk but I've always been leery of jumping in without knowing what I'm getting myself into.

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I don't know why you like Sageuk - is it because of costume, war fighting scenes, or something else? This show consists of mostly court fights between two parties (one to continue GoRye dynasty- represented by Jung MongJu, and the other to take down GR and build a new country JoSeon -represented by Jeong DoJun). JMJ and JDJ were friends from SungKyunKwan institute (same as in 'SKK scandal'. This institute existed from king GongMin's reign - king in the show 'FAITH'). Jeong DoJun insisted that the country/GR went down so bad, and only a new country could give what people wanted, and Jung MongJu argued that no matter how bad they are, you don't abandon your parents. Eventally JMJ dies at the hands of Yi BangWon - Yi SungKye/first king of JoSeon's son- Later became king - SeJong the great's father. This show is basically about political fight between JMJ and JDJ, and YBW and JDJ later (this is history, so not spoiler). If you like Sageuk because of fight scene, ladies' war etc, this show might not be your cup of tea. I love Yi SungKye character played by Yoo DongGeun (Who is currenly father in the 'What's With This Family') the best. He was simply awesome!

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First of all, thanks so much for answering! What you just described sounds like my cup of tea. I love it all--I mean, yeah, of course I love the costumes and the sets and the battles/actiony stuff, etc--but I thrive on good court intrigue. Call me crazy, but I'm never happier watching a sageuk than watching a bunch of old men sitting in a room plotting and talking and philosophizing, so a drama about Jung Do Jeon, Lee Sung Gye and Lee Bang Won sounds immense. Thanks for refreshing me on the history, though! I find that time period really fascinating. You get a bit of it from things like Shin Don (like, as in, Lee Sung Gye shows up haha) and Tree With Deep Roots, but I want to see something directly about that time period so badly.

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No shockers there :) Looking back, 2014 actually had quite a few solid dramas that I really loved- most notably Misaeng of course, which kind of swept the Picks. Here's hoping 2015 is just as exciting!

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I really need to watch Misaeng.

But every time I come home from work, get settled for a dose of kdrama , I just can't click on play there. I just don't want to go back into the same world.

Anyone here who actually felt the same and yet saw and liked it???

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I have a week away from the office, so maybe now's the time to watch Misaeng.

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DO ETTTTT!!^^

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That's how I feel! I heard its relatable but at the same time I am scared it is too relatable. After a whole day 9 to 5, Mon to Fri of being a Jang Gue Rae at the firm, do I want to come home and watch someone be Jang Gue Rae?
But I always say to myself that I'll watch it sometime when I need a good cry about my job and encouragement that I am not the only one. ;)

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I was very reluctant to watch Misaeng first. I was afraid to think and get more depressed about my work. But I ended enjoying it so much! Give it a try! I am so glad I did.

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yeah I thought I had seen this kind of drama before because I had watched Hataraki man and a bunch of other jdramas that centre on the office but trust me once you watch that first ep, you'll start rooting for Geu-rae and get completely sucked in.

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agree. I really enjoyed many dramas this year -Misaeng, Modern farmer, YFAS, marriage not dating, Yoo Na’s Street, let's eat, liar game, three Musketeers, 14 days, 2 weeks, High school KOS, Sly and single again, Witch's romance, Secret love affair. Miss Korea, It’s Ok It’s Love, among others.

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I was waiting for this. Thank you Dramabeans!

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Honestly, this year i dont watch drama a lot compare with last year (2013). I trapped in real life i guess haha. Super sad :'( and i am wondering what should i watch? Where do i start?

I guess i will start with this list, the editor's pick :'') (happy dance)

Thank you!! I appreciate it so much!
I love this website and always stop by everyday haha :*

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Yay, I love Editor's Picks (quite possibly my favorite feature). And I'm actually really happy with the winners/nominees this year! Because most (almost all) of my personal favorites at least got nominated :)

I was pleasantly surprised to see Seo Hyun-jin get a supporting actress nod! I wouldn't call her role in TTM underrated, but I just figured she'd get bypassed for some more obvious choices. Park Eun-bin definitely owns that category though.

All in all, I'm actually very happy with this year. I know there are many who found it underwhelming (and ok, it certainly wasn't the best), but I found a lot to enjoy. Misaeng, Marriage, Not Dating, Let's Eat, Liar Game, Three Musketeers and many more have actually all become memorable dramas to me and ones I plan to come back to and revisit. I'd call that a pretty decent year in Dramaland.

Thanks so much, you guys! You're amazing :)

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Seo Hyun-jin was one of the best things about Three Musketeers for me - I started out the series feeling nothing for her character apart from indifference/irritation, but by the end she and the Prince were easily my favourites. And she is one of the biggest reasons for that change of heart.

It was also rather interesting because Joseon Gunman was airing at the same time and also had a heroine who cried a lot, but the only emotion I could muster up towards the JG heroine was extreme irritation, while I loved our Crown Princess (contrary to the opinions of people who insisted that anyone who had a problem with Joseon Gunman's heroine just "hated feminine characters"......and you could not have found a more feminine character than the Princess/Seo Hyun-jin's portrayal of her.).

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I agree! She was easily my favorite character and I totally didn't expect it. The writer has always written pretty great female characters, but there was something about Seo Hyun-jin's look in the promo material that had me worried...but then as soon as I saw her in action, I realized quickly that it wasn't so much the writing of the character (though that was very good), as it was her portrayal that made the character so winning.

I really really hope we see a lot more of her. In fact, I was most excited about her trajectory in the 2nd season (sob). Reading about the real-life Crown Prince and Princess got me so looking forward to seeing them take on China together.

Aw, see I LOVED Nam Sang-mi in Bad Family (her and Kim Myung-min = one of my fav couples from my early drama-watching days) and liked her a lot in Gourmet, AND I actually didn't dislike her in Joseon Gunman. She didn't annoy me that much, but I was never much impressed with her character either. That said, I actually stopped watching the drama so it's entirely possible that she got even more annoying at the end. Actually around the time I got obsessed with Marriage, Not Dating and put JG indefinitely on hold (gah, my love for Lee Jun-ki is bound to bring me back eventually), I was quite enjoying her character trajectory. But, in the end, Seo Hyun-jin was just SO wonderful, I can't help but totally agree with what you're saying.

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I finally dropped Joseon Gunman because the way the female characters were written in it drove me nuts. I'm currently watching Nam Sang-mi (and Lee Jun Ki for that matter) in Time Between Dog and Wolf and really liking her in that, so the issue obviously wasn't the actress. Even the best actor is going to struggle if the script is constantly undermining her character.

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I think it was a combination of writing and acting that felt so wrong in Joseon Gunman, really. The cutesiness of the role and the mannerisms NSM put on felt far more appropriate for a 20-year-old actress than a 30-year-old, and the script also kept trying really hard to shoehorn her character into the main story but couldn't do it in a way that felt organic.

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the misaeng and bad guys love is strong with this review. <3 I was so thinking that Misaeng would win best ensemble, but yay for Bad Guys having your votes!

(And for those not convinced that Misaeng should win best directing and writing, check out the special BTS episodes! I was in awe of the PD and the staff, and all the editing done to give us those breathless window scenes...so gorgeous - effect of filming with movie equipment! the production team deserves all the awards)

surprised you guys didn't comment on Shin Sung Rok vs himself for Best Villain haha. How about giving him a shared award instead!

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I had the same thought about Shin Sung Rok. What an incredible year for him!

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ready to see him in a Sci-fi mvoie as a super villain or as a hitman in a movie chasing someone down - scary good

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I think Lee Sung-min should also have been nominated twice this year in the supporting actor category -- for Misaeng AND Miss Korea.

And for me, in the "wasted actor" category, I'd have to go with Lee Beom Soo in Triangle. That show was a talky train wreck anyway though.

Also -- I didn't care for Jang Hyuk's performance in the later stages of FTLY but really liked Jang Nara's performance throughout -- I liked it better than Han Groo's in MND and think she deserved a nomination.

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God’s Gift–14 Days nominated for best thriller , lee bo young nominated fot best actress , Jo seung woo nominated for best actor and in the end wins the title of " biggest disappointment " hmm interesting ...
I haven't seen it myself yet , it's been on my to-watch-list for ages

 

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The end was a bit disappointing. While the drama itself was a thrill the whole way. That's what really counts to me, as I never remember endings anyway...
So yeah don't quite understand it got most disappointing. To me the dramas that went downhill after 4 episodes and I still had hope they'd turn out watchable but never did; those let me down the most.

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I think it was because of that ending that GG14D was named Most Disappointing. Imagine you see a drama almost to the end and it was great but then the end spoils everything for you.....that was what it was.

At least with a drama that turns to nonsense after 4 eps you have lots of time to make fun of it and complain, and that makes yhe experience slightly better. But with GG we never even get to do that because the end is the only part we disliked.

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Oooooh now I got it thanks 4 the clarification ^^

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Channel of the year goes to tVn

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Totally! My fave this year is Misaeng, Liar Game and Three Musketeers. They're all from TvN!

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and Marriage, Not Dating as well !

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I totally agree! When korean dramas come out, I now check whether it's from tvn or not. The only k-dramas of this year that I finished were Liar Game, Misaeng, and Let's Eat. All from tvn.

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I also started almost all of the dramas mentioned in the article, but completed only Misaeng, liar game, and bride of the century

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While I loved Misaeng and MnD, they also gave us the letdown My Secret Hotel. Some shows weren't as infuriating, but I wanted to love them more, such as Plus Nine Boys and Emergency Couple.

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Thank you and bless all of you at dramabeans.

I didnot watch Dr Stranger but did catch a recap or two. What i get is she's almost like an Alias character. They never really dies...

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Alias characters, cockroaches, Voldemort. They never die!

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I don't think Im shi Wan is that great though to consider him being nominee as best actor.. but it's just me. He get helped alot by good directing that can cover his limit ...

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He actually did quite well in a variety of shows with different kinds of roles and directors, and even in Triangle (biggest waste of his talent) he msnaged to make me interested in his character despite the boring writing and meh direction.

"Limited" is the kind of word I use to be polite for idols like Yunho and Taecyeon. Not Im Siwan. That boy shines in all the acting projects I saw from him when they give him anything to do.

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@pigsnout
You again...like I said before. Taecyeon is still very bad at acting, but at least Yunho improved, became a decent actor, and got praised from K-critics and even K-netizens. It's a pleasant surprise.

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nahhhhh!! Siwan is really good! I recently watched the drama special, Waiting for Love, and the Attorney... the guy was good in both. Consistency and improving with every successive project is key for an actor and kudos to him for doing this whilst being an idol.

After having watched the two specials on Misaeng I was impressed (among other reasons) with him ad-libbing with KDM for the ST3 scenes.

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Agree with you

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I wouldn't call him an amazing actor or anything across the board, he was okay in the pre-Misaeng projects I've seen him in (Anticipate Love; Triangle) and he will still have to prove himself in the future projects he does to show how good he is and how wide his range is.

However, in Misaeng, he simply was Jang Geu-rae. I saw no weaknesses there, I only saw Geu-rae.

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As some people have mentioned, his acting style is an understated one (and when I say understated, I mean understated - it's not a euphemism for blank/wooden, and he does well at emoting subtly). It works well in most of his projects imo, and worked beautifully in Misaeng - he didn't just play Jang Geu-rae, he WAS Jang Geu-rae.

And quite honestly, he's a better actor than some much more hyped stars his age - including (oh yeah, I'm going there) Kim Soo-hyun.

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In KSH's defense (or maybe not defense lol), I think his acting has very much deteriorated. I don't know where the actor from WISFC and the first Dream High went but I hope he's still in there somewhere.

In my opinion, the hype surrounding him in the past was well-deserved but not so much post 2012 (even starting from Moon/Sun).

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This is exactly how I feel. And I wish I didn't. I want to like him as much as I used to...but I just don't :(

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Why is it you keep on going there? Kim Soo Hyun is a super mega star. He is the one star that made me watch kdramas. To me he deserves all the hype, Chinese agree with me I think. I like Misaeng but I cannot relate to the depressing office story. Perhaps because I am an Aussie? YFAS is fun drama to watch my preference. I enjoyed Modern Farmer too.

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Kim Soo Hyun is a great actor. Too bad you don't feel the same way. But please stop comparing KSH with other actors. Whether you like it or not, he is loved by many and people are eagerly waiting for his next project. Don't let your jealousy turn to hate. You can support your bias but there's no need to bash others.

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I'm sure the great directing helped but if Im Siwan was a terrible actor there was no way he would have been able to pump out that fantastic performance. I lost count the number of times he was able to break my heart with just a look from his face. His acting was very nuanced and so perfect for the character of Jang Geu-rae.

This is coming from someone who used to think he was extremely overrated and mediocre at best (especially in his first couple of roles like Moon/Sun and The Equator Man). I honestly did not understand the hype back then but he has really come a long way. Maybe his venture into Chungmuro was of help but I was very impressed with his performance.

I don't think he's amazing yet but I'm thinking he should pull a Lee Joon and just turn to acting full-time. Perhaps that way we could see even more growth from him as an actor.

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< just turn to acting full-time

not a bad idea... :-D

I confess I don't find his singing too impressive. Quite average voice. I guess that doesn't matter too much in K-pop (although some K-pop singers do have impressive voices).

I hope he does some films next, they probably would do a lot more to help him grow an an actor.

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Well, singing talent is entirely optional for idols, from what I've seen. And it's also true that Im Shi-wan, Lee Joon, Yoon Doo-joon, Choi Soo-young and Han Groo (yes, even her!) make far more engaging and charismatic actors than idols.

But I do think ISW chooses his projects well, in terms of them helping him grow as an actor - he's had a fairly diverse range of acting projects and isn't averse to taking a backseat to someone else, as long as the role sounds decent.

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I hope he chooses well (Kang Ha-neul should advise him, since he seems to make smart choices too... and some of his other Misaeng sunbaes).... good thing that he has so many offers now, that should give him a good range of projects to choose from.

I want to push him into film because they way movie productions work is different from dramas, and if he gets the chance to work with the right kind of film directors, he'll go a lot further than with dramas.

He certainly made the right choice with Misaeng, since his agency originally wanted to turn down the offer!

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and try watching his singing really...please...not just his whatnot part in his group...sorry, i just had to...since his voice/singing was the reason i got into the group in the first place...and that was before he became an actor...i guess it all goes down to personal preference...i wouldn't say his voice is the best, but i wouldn't say it's inferior to other idols...bcuz it's not like i'm a vocalist expert or anything but yeah...just try...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wccERrHBwQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTKJmaVL2-M
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CuWNL6fUlo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvizKugGA-s

maybe i just happen to like his sharp tone/voice...

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Siwan will be turning 28 (korean age) on New Year's (if I've finally figured how this age thing works there) so he should try to sign onto at least a movie and a drama before he enlists. And, yes he should act full-time!

Am thinking BYH's finished his MS what with debuting quite late. I cannot wait for what he chooses next... but am thinking he'll be favouring movies over dramas.

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OMG I never knew Im Siwan before until Misaeng. And now here I am checking out his singing videos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEFqELUlrfE It is hilarious to see Jang Geu Rae singing and dancing like this!!

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LOL, that performance is hilarious! Thanks for the laugh.

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The list for best actor appears to only include main characters and it's understandable that this year's top drama Misaeng was included. IMO, Im shi-wan did a solid job as Jang Geu Rae and was perfect for this role.

I want to mention Byun Yo Han, the actor for Miseang's Suk-yeol was really impressive. Before Misaeng, I've never seen him before, but he left a big impression on me. He is one of my favorite Misaeng characters along with Chief Oh.

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Mine too. I look forward to seeing him in more dramas. He seems inclined to do Indies though, I am not sure because of lack of exposure to big networks or just personal preference.

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pretty sure Byun Yohan would want to make it big too, and not just sticking to indie(i think i read his interview somewhere that he wants to make it big/get into a big project or sth before he gets 30...and pretty sure that interview was before Misaeng)...just that he got more opportunities there...but now he'll definitely capture attention of more productions.

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I'd say BYH got his wish since SY in Misaeng is definitely his breakout role. SY is a character I haven't come across in K-dramas. I LOVED his rants, raves, and his unapologetic love for Gae-rae!

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Second that! He's so funny yet earnest.

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I like Im shi wan, but I don't rate him any higher than any of his peers in the drama misaeng

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I've seen quite a number of people who called his acting boring, not that good or whatnot for not being expressive enough quite a number of times, but subdued acting/subtleness is also a technique...one that actually would match his character's characteristics. i studied acting, not much, but did. and subtleness in acting as opposed to big/exaggerated reactions is regarded important in adult's theater acting,while the latter is more for children's play(ok, so i just studied stageplay, not drama acting, but i think some rules can be applied both ways)
i'm not sure about his limits, since Siwan has done quite a variety of roles, maybe you can watch them all to decide on his limits. many seem to forget his earlier roles. but i'd recommend for ppl to try watch
Equator Man(dark, complex role...i actually thought his character as the teenage ver of the villain had so much more layers than the adult version...though, the adult version of everyone in that drama paled in comparison to the teenage versions methinks)...or maybe Standby(sitcom, but since he's one of the main characters...there's a variety of facades to his character to be studied)

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I don't think Im shi Wan is that great though to consider him being nominee as best actor.. but it's just me. He get helped alot by good directing that can cover his limit ...

And.. I might be the only one who are not a fan of Liar Game... The directing is just painful to watch.

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Agree with you. I thought I'm the only one thinks Im Siwan not as great as many said. I watched Misaeng but still not finished yet because I'm so curious to death about how so many people praised him but I found other actors are better than him.

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Actually me too :(

I liked Misaeng, but Im Siwan didn't stand out for me.

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Me too. :) I liked everyone in Misaeng but apart from Lee Sung Min I always felt the others were equally good, nobody stood out being better or stealing scenes.

About Liar Game, I liked the games, the side characters and the villain, that was it. :)

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I feel like that's a testament to the skill of the ensemble cast - all of them did a great job.

(though I'd say the Im Shi-wan/Byun Yo-han combination was quite close to being a scene-stealer)

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when you think "other actors are better than " Siwan you have to be careful. because a sign of really good acting is bringing out the best in your fellow actors. (I don't want to antagonize any respondents here--i read your comments with respect because the actors in Misaeng are all good). When a company works together its not a competition-- rather it's more of a mission, the better you do for the role the better you do for all involved. Personally, this show sparkled because of its subtle presentation by all the actors. and personally, I hope my fellow watchers see that they all did their very very best to support each other.

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To be honest, Im Siwan is not bad. His strength and his weakness is that he's a very subtle actor and understated. That kind of acting is fabulous in some dramas - Misaeng - and not that great in others: Triangle.

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i don't know if many people praise him that much, if anything, i've seen many ppl praise the whole Misaeng cast, it's just that Siwan happens to play the lead character n with all dramas, more people will talk about the main character. what makes his character stand out/talked about is just porbably bcuz Jang Geurae is the most relatable to many 'average' people out there...n Siwan happens to play that role.

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I think you might have gone a way too far... According to your opinion/theory, I could say all the good actors stand out because they just happen to play good roles.
Even the greatest role could be ruined by poor acting, and there are reasons that Shi-Wan is praised by many people.

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Thanks to all at Dramabeans! Its been another fabulous year watching dramas with you guys. xoxo

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Jo In Sung & Gong Hyo Jin= Best love team of the year! : P

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Great picks and I agree with almost every pick I watched myself. Most Disappointing is really debatable.
Thanks for your hard work. Every post/article is highly appreciated! I wouldn't know what to do with my love for drams if it weren't for your blog. Thank you very kamsa!

And oh gosh saeguks are really not my thing as I have started on few and never got to finish them. This year I wasn't wholly committed to my dramas anyway(still catching up)...pfffttt.

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My version:

Best drama: Misaeng
Best writing: Misaeng
Best music: Cantabile Tomorrow
Best comedy: Marriage not dating
Best historical: Three Musketeers
Best thriller: Liar Game
Best adaptation: Liar game & Cantabile

Best Actor: Han Suk Kyu (SD)
Best Actress: Jun Ji Hyun (YWCFS)
Best character: Chief Oh (Misaeng)
Best villain: Shin Sung Rok (LG)

Biggest dissapointment: Birth of a beauty
Biggest waste of talent: Rain (My Lovely Girl)

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Best romance: Secret Love affair (KHA & YAI)
Best bromance: Three Musketeers (3 musketeers & dal hyang)
Best girlfriends: Cantabile (Mini Minhee & seol nae bal)

Most overrated drama: My Love from the stars
Most underrated drama: Secret door
Most rewatchable drama: Cantabile Tomorrow

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I see Misaeng everywhere LOL. The drama totally deserves it.

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Awww so glad Secretary Go got a mention. He was so cute in Iron Man.

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BEST HISTORICAL DRAMA: Empress Ki?

No really, Jeong Do Jeon... I guess you didn't watch it. That's the only explanation. I liked Empress Ki too but it can't compare :/

Otherwise I agree with pretty much all of them :D

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I also stated in my previous comments of how DB never interested to review about this great historical drama. It was really good in every aspects. The history itself, the directing, the actings. The drama got positive comments from history PhDs in Korea. The critics even very rarely mentioned about Three Musketeer (that's why maybe they postponed the next session). I guess korean and international fans has different taste.

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It's a little difficult for international fans to appreciate Jeong Do-jeon when it's never been subbed. It's not a matter of our taste, it's that it simply isn't available to us.

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I think the big issue with Jeong Do Jeon is that it's never been subbed (at least not in a form available to anyone who isn't able to watch KBS World live). That means non-Korean speakers don't really have access to it. I'd love to watch it, but I think it would have gotten a lot more attention if it had been more available. Oh, well, maybe some day!

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Misaeng sweeping them all!! woot woooooottt!!

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I was starting to wonder about this year's shows, as I dropped way more than I completed.

A strong showing during the last quarter saved what otherwise would have been a meh year.

T T So sad that Yoo Na's Street got nary a mention. If you want a well written drama, excellent cast and loveable characters, treat yourself .

I'd love to see Jeong DoJeon, for whatever reason, KBS is keeping this from a broader distribution. What a shame. Looking forward to the new year and new shows.

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I second that. Someone should translate Jeong DoJeon for us foreigners. I adore Cho Jae-Hyun. And Yoona was so different and fresh.

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Agreed about Yuna's Street - it was a different drama - a 50-episoder on Mon/Tue (non-weekend) one at that! That too had a great ensemble cast with very well fleshed out plots.

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I don't want to sound like picking on DB but I do also notice the lack of mentions of Yoona's Street. I took it up after reading some really positive comments here, and it totally lived up to my (heightened) expectations, if not more...

It is such a great production, with "simple" day-to-day stories told about a group of average (well, if you call a pick-pocket'er average :-) ) folks living in a same complex. Heartfelt and intelligent story telling, excellent dialogs, very very very good acting/emsemble, and fittingly quirky music scores. A very complete package and it was never boring over the 50 episodes.

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My sentiments exactly about Yoo Na's Street! But cannot blame anyone except for JTBC because no one outside Korea could watch YNS. If JTBC had been as free with licenses as TVN, everyone would be debating Misaeng and Yoo Na's Street for drama of the year. Who knows what the bean counters at JTBC were thinking in not making licenses available to any of the 3 major subbing services..

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It's strange because JTBC has licensed plenty of dramas to DF and Viki in the past. Even dramas in the same time-slot (wasn't Secret Love Affair a Mon/Tues drama?). Perhaps it was DF that wasn't interested in licensing it (with the lack of idols in the cast). Maybe they thought there wouldn't be any interest, which actually doesn't make much sense since Secret Love Affair didn't have any idols either.

It's even more disappointing because this has occurred with another drama I was interested in the past (I Live in Cheongdam-dong - which highly recommend it if anyone is interested). At 170 episodes, I don't think it will ever be subbed :/

I'm thankful DSS picked it up in the end but I really wish the drama was more widely available. It's too bad.

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I think it's because of how many episodes Yoona has that people don't even want to touch it. It's really sad how this drama is so underrated coz it's just awesome (my favorite drama of 2014).

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Wow….I rarely see It's Ok It's Love, Discovery of Romance, Joseon Gunman and Jeong Do Jeon. All are some of well made dramas mentioned by many reviews beside Secret Love Affair and Misaeng.

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I guess DB loves TvN or TV cabel dramas like most of us but sometimes we could miss some really good dramas from public broadcasts too.

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Three out of the four dramas mentioned by Fabian were recapped in detail here, and discussed in the end-of-year posts - I don't think it's fair to say DB didn't "mention" it under those circumstances.

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My version:

Best drama: IOIL - but if you ask me again in 2 wks I might say Healer or Valid Love.
Best comedy: Let's Eat or HSKS
Best melodrama: Valid Love
Best writing: IOIL
Best music: IOIL
Best historical: King's Face
Best thriller: None
Best adaptation: Liar Game

Best Actor: Jo In Sung - IOIL
Best Actress: Gong Hyo Jin - IOIL
Best character: Jang Jae Yeol - IOIL
Best supporting actor: Lee Sung-Min - Misaeng
Best supporting actress: Lee-El (LG)
Best villain: Shin Sung Rok (LG)
Best Breakout performance: Seo In Guk (HSKS)
Best ensemble: Misaeng

Best romance: None
Best girlfriends: None
Best bromance: None
Biggest disapointment: Pinocchio
Biggest waste of talent: Jung Il-Woo
Worst Ending: Liar Game
Best Ending: Misaeng

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Love the list as always! I'll marathon Liar Game later!

Jeon Ji-hyun jjang!

Hooray that I did not suffer SLS this year!

Thanks dramabeans!

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I noticed many are saying 2014 was a down year for dramas. As a relative newcomer to kdramaland I may not have the best perspective (not a lot to judge on) but for me a year with three in my top ten seems like a good one.

That said what years do y'all consider to be the best for k drama offerings (2012 perhaps?)

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2007

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2007 was incredible. It's amazing how many strong shows (in many different genres) came out that year.

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Yes, such a beautiful year. 2005 and 2006 were good, but then 2007 was just amazing. And it was still back when dramas weren't quite as 'glossy'. Probably by biggest complaint about dramas lately is that there's a certain kind of raw energy that I've found missing. Maybe the increase in product placement?

2010-2012 were pretty good years. These past two years may pale a bit in comparison, but I still found a lot of new favs!

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i didn't finish many drama this year, mostly i drop it halfway

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2012 was a great drama year, there were some fantastic dramas from public broadcast as well as cable networks, and many of my all-time favourites are from that year.

Just off the top of my head, here are a few:

Shut Up Flower Boy Band
Queen In-hyun's Man
Answer Me 1997
Arang & the Magistrate
Nice Guy
Gaksital
School 2013
Can We Get Married
The King 2 Hearts

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Shut Up is my favorite drama ever and Gaksital is pretty high but please dont remind me. I miss you-know-who very much.

there have been at least 2 dramas every year to be high on my list, but does it matter if I watch them as they come out or later? cause some 2012 dramas belong in my 2014 list.

but I must say, even if all dramas were not up to the bar, this year has acquainted me with many many new faces, actors and actresses, that I didnt know before or turned any attention to. there may not be many top 10 dramas but there are more than usual breakout performances or roles that were so impressive they could fool me for being real. Like Seo In Gook, Shin Sung Rok, Jun Ji Hyun, Park Seo Joon, Go Ara etc etc. the writers may have fallen on their heads, but actors got the game.

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but does it matter if I watch them as they come out or later?

Not at all, I believe in watching at your own pace. But I guess paying attention to what year a drama came out does lead to observations on themes and things that were common that year....like time travel dramas in 2012, ghosts in 2013, etc.

And yeah, in 2014 a lot of writers really did fall on their heads. No other way to explain some of these dramas...

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I so agree with your 2012 list. You could also add History of a salaryman and King of Dramas. (I may have to check out can we get married) This year indicated the rise of cable and offered dramas that remains modern classic in every genre. Best year ever!

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yeah 2012 was amazing:3

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MISAENG!

Great drama!

Love everything about it!

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No mention whatsoever of Emergency Couple or It's Okay it's Love?

They were, in my opinion, pretty good dramas, though the latter was a bit crazy in the craziest of world.

Thanks for the year review :)! I should try and watch Misaeng and Liar Game (loved the Japanese version, and since I was a bit disappointed by the Korean adaptation of Nodame, I didn't want to try my luck again and see the Koreans destroy another very likeable and very dear-to-me character...)

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Definitely Check out Liar Game and Misaeng! I've also watched the japanese version of Liar Game and Nodame. IMO, The korean nodame was disappointing while Liar Game was solid. Don't be discouraged by what some people say about Liar Game's ending because it was like a mid-season finale to set a possible season 2.

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Yeahh, I agree with you Red.
Some people say the ending of Liar Game is bad, even the worst, but i think that's not true, the ending of Liar Game is the key to continue to Season Two of Liar Game.
Even, if they realize, why the total episode of Liar Game only 12 episodes? if Liar Game has more episode, it will be easy to end the story just in one season, but we learn through the last episode of season one the reason to continue to Season Two.
Ahh, if there will be Season Two of Liar Game it will be good to add Love Line between Prof. Ha Woo Jin and Nam Da Jung, their chemistry is so goooood and i bet, the love story won't be just ordinary love, it's a love story between a tough and genius man with a really kind girl, and if PDnim of Liar Game read my comment, please don't change Ha Woo Jin's Hair Style... Chaeball... Hhehehe

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Hitting myself for not watchng Empress Ki. Thanks for the list. I so hope you guys will do a podcast soon and comment on What's With This Family? This is one great family weekend drama. Thnks for the year in recaps.

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Yeah Carole - i have been enjoying What's with This family? too - yesterday (Sunday's) episode when the all the families went 'clubbing' as one of the dad's bucket list of things to do was DAEBAK!!

It was touching and I sure hope the dad does NOT kick the bucket anytime soon!

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Most dead is my fav award ? why ki dong chan, why...why...why????

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BIGGEST WASTE OF TALENT
Jung Il-woo, Records of a Night Watchman

absolutely right on 'it was a bit disheartening to see him trying so hard to bring meaning and depth to a show that just… wasn’t'. on top of that, the chemistry between Jung Il Woo and the actress is nearly zero. It pained me to watch the two trying to be love birds. Poor him. I still have not managed to watch the final episode and I am not sure if I could ever bring myself to watch the final....

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Best Drama: YFAS. Cheon Song Yi and Do Manager were da bomb.

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I agree!

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Love reading all the Year in Review articles. Great job to the DB team. You rock!

Agree with most of the Editors' Picks ... at least on the ones that I watched.

I watched the Korean version of Liar Game, then the Japanese version although I've yet to read the manga. Based on the Japanese version as comparison, I wholeheartedly agree that the Korean version is a very good adaptation. It's the same but yet, not really the same. The tweaks gave the Korean version so much more 'meat' to the story and heighten the finale. I'm dying to watch the next season. Please tvn, grant us the next season.

I love Shin Sung-rok. His character in Liar Game is one of the Best Villains I have seen in dramaland and he played it so well; with one half chilling ruthlessness and the other icy madness. The other good villains that come to mind are the villain in City Hunter and the villain in Tree with Deep Roots.

If there is an award for Best Character Face-off Moments, I would choose Liar Game ie between Shin Sung-rok and Lee Sang Yoon.

Marriage, Not Dating is another one of my favourites. I find the series even funnier than You From Another Star although I love both the female protagonists! Fully agree with your pick on breakout performance and best actress. I thought they both shone in their roles.

A pity You're All Surrounded didn't get an award for best bromance. That would have been my pick especially between Lee Sung-gi and Cha Seong Won. Love them both in that drama although the drama was not that engaging.

Guess I would have to watch Misaeng considering so many people are raving over it.

Once again, thanks to DB team. Love your recaps. Keep up the good work!

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A big thank you to the entire Dramabeans team for this and all of your work in 2014.

While I watched many dramas this year, several from the picks mentioned here, I just couldn't get to all of them. ....... My list of dramas to "watch later" just keeps getting longer and longer!

From the ones I did get to watch, It's Okay, It's Love was my fave this year.

Wishing you all a great new year!

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As a huge fan of tvN in general and Three Musketeers and Marriage Not Dating fan, I'm very happy. Though I would vote in the adaptation award the Three Musketeers, since the work involved was complicated. The genious writer had to keep the structure, plot, characters (yes, even sort of the names, too) and mood while transforming 17th century France to 17th century Korea. Not an easy accomplishment but in my opinion she did it.

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I agree with all the Misaeng "Best", particularly the "Best Drama", "Best Director" and "Best Writing" – even more so after watching the two specials (esp. #2) that really gave some insight into the making of the drama and how detailed and different it was from most other drama productions.

Surprised by It's Okay Is Love going completely unmentioned/unrewarded here! Certainly at least deserved nominations in Best Drama and Best Actor in my book... though I do remember the recappers of that drama had various issues with it (which were mostly non-issues for me). I would have given it Best Actor (Jo In-sung), Best Bromance, Best Music (definitely the most memorable OST for me this year) and Best Breakout Performance (Lee Kwang-soo).

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Yes! I would also give it those nominations!!!

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I totally agree with you IOIL should at least get nominated in the best drama best actor (how did DB miss Jo In Sung in this category) best music best actress among others. IOIL is probably one of the most expressive drama for 2014. It's new, refreshing, unorthodox ( vs the common kdrama plot) it's inspiring and the love story is so real!

Anyway, thanks a lot DB for all your recaps and review for 2014. You guys has helped the viewers and the readers a new perspective everytime we watch a drama series.

Happy holidays!

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As a huge fan of tvN in general and Three Musketeers and Marriage Not Dating in particular, I’m very content. Though I would vote in the adaptation category the Three Musketeers, since the work involved was complicated. The genious writer had to keep the structure, plot, characters (yes, even sort of the names, too) and mood while transforming 17th century France to 17th century Korea with the entirely different history and background. Not an easy accomplishment, but in my opinion she did it.

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All dramas that I watched this year not listed in this. Maybe I'm not cable TV watcher.

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You're missing out big time!

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Wow. Lots of cable dramas mentioned here. I still have to finish them. I watched "Marriage Not Dating" with low expectations, but it was surprisingly good.

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Thanks Dramabeans!

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I thought 2014 was a pretty good drama year. Better than 2013 at least. It's nice to see the year being bookended by 2 mega hits (YFAS and Misaeng).

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I'd actually say 2013 was better in terms of having more decent dramas (especially on public broadcast networks) - 2014 had some real trainwrecks/disappointments and a handful of gems (mostly from tvN).

But I do feel a lot happier that the year is closed out with some quality dramas - there was a loooong dry spell between YFAS and the current wave of Misaeng/Pinocchio etc. So many dramas that underwhelmed.

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I had a different experience. This year, I was jumping from one good rom-com to another. YFAS to Bride of the Century to Witch's Romance to High School King of Savvy/Marriage Not Dating to Plus Nine Boys to Pinocchio.

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Met too!

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I had a few dry spells but for the most part I really liked alot of dramas this year! Someone posted all the great dramas in 2012 and I think I got into 2 or 3 of the ones posted lol...

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Thanks so much for the Editors' Picks!! And thank you to the whole DB team for your hard work!! It was really enjoyable reading your thoughts. =)

Happy 2015!! Looking forward to more amazing craziness in dramaland next year!! =D

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Misaeng's best drama of the year!

hope there are other great dramas like Misaeng next year

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Thank you so much for everything, guys! Kdrama watching would just not be the same without you <3333333

The Misaeng sweep makes me really happy - it was easily the most rewarding drama-watching experience of the year, and I have never been so sad to see a drama get its thumbnail moved down to the "Recently Completed" zone at the bottom of the page! (I suppose I will miss it equally badly when it disappears from even that).

Lee Sung-min was phenomenal as Chief Oh, it's been over a week and I still can't get over it. Weekends are not the same without our kid and Sales Team 3! (and the newbie friends of course, including Seok-yul - who's with me on Byun Yo-han also deserving a spot on the Breakout Performance nominations?)

It's also nice to see some other dramas and actors I loved getting the shoutout here - Han Groo, Jeon Ji-hyun, and of course the boys and girls from Three Musketeers and Surplus Princess! (I hope for great things for both Jo Bo-ah and Kim Seul-gi)

Again, thank you for everything, guys (and also my fellow commenters) and I hope you have a great 2015!

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<Byun Yo-han also deserving a spot on the Breakout Performance nominations

I'm with you on that one.

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He totally dark-horsed us, that one.

If that wasn't a breakout, I don't know what is.

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Byun Yo-han blew me out of the water. Truly did not see him coming. I'm actually going back and watching all his movies, I think a couple of them are indie so I might have trouble finding downloads/subs. And it'll probably be a while before Socialphobia hits the interwebz but I'm very excited!! ^^ I am so very much looking forward to future acting career.

Lee Sung-min is always amazing, I don't know how he does it.

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I agree! After Lee Sung Min's Chief Oh, Byo Han's Suk-yeol was my favorite character from Misaeng. Not anyone can make a perverted man who traded blows with our lovable main character into a really likable character.

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*Byun Yo Han

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Funnily enough, I came to love him because he made Geu-rae angry enough to throw punches, haha

Anyone who made our poor, meek puppy Geu-rae finally go GRRRRR was definitely worth watching. Especially if you remember how miserable ep 1 and 2 were for him, angry puppy was more fun to watch than miserable puppy.

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Best OST?

Best Kiss (ala MTV movie awards)?

Most Squee moment?

MostFunnest?

Most Rewatchable?

Me want more dramabeans posts on 2014 pweeze.

denks. =)

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Hi Samsooki! Happy New Year to you & family.

Best OST - YFAS

Best Kiss (ala MTV movie awards) - Eric/Jung Yoo Mi (Discovery of Romance), Lee Sang Yoon/Gu Hye Sun (Angel Eyes)

Most Squee moment - Toast Kiss?

Most Funnest - Yoon Hyun Min as Yong Soo Chul (Witch's Romance) / Surplus Princess

Most Rewatchable - at the moment, Surplus Princess (esp scenes without Witch Jin Ah)

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Happy New Year to you and yours, Nana!

What kiss on DOR was the best kiss? The kiss at the end was kinda meh.

Ooooh, the toast kiss. Yeah, if I could squee I would have squeed at that.

Surplus Princess was that good? I gotta check that one out then....

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Best OST - Trot Lovers (the trot covers, that is)

Best Kiss (ala MTV movie awards) - 1. Pinocchio, Lee Jong-seok/Park Shin-hye (the one after the toast kiss)

2. Triangle, Kim Jaejoong/Baek Jin-hee (because no one mentions this and it was actually good - best part of the drama in fact)

Most Squee moment - Accidental sleep-cuddling/ Dal-po watching In-ha sleep in Pinocchio

all the young OTP (Park Hyung-shik/Nam Ji-hyun) moments in What's With This Family

MostFunnest - Jo Bo-a/Kim Seul-gi, Surplus Princess

Kim Hyun-joo/Kim Sang-kyung, What's With This Family

Most Rewatchable - all of Lee Jin-wook's scenes in Three Musketeers

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"Most Rewatchable – all of Lee Jin-wook’s scenes in Three Musketeers"

I will just add another condition-All of Lee Jin-wook scenes with the Crow Princess.I've already watched E11 ten times so far!

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yeah, CP2 couple are my stealth ship of the year - didn't expect to care about them at all, but they snuck up on me and made me a shipper!

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POGO!

I agree on OST, but I would say that the Toast Kiss was as good as the second kiss after the Toast Kiss (the first kiss after the Toast Kiss being the Hand Blocked Kiss).

Another vote for Surplus Princess... really that good huh?

Gotta check it out....

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hey samsooki!

Toast Kiss is almost as awesome as the hand-blocked kiss, but I had to take off points because it was Dad's imagination and didn't actually happen in the story.

But Hand Blocked kiss......now, everything about that was perfect.

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Definitely missed a few I'd like to have seen too. I'm always up for a best kiss award. And the mane of glory category is fun as well whenever it appears! But I do like that every year's there are slightly different categories and something unique to evaluate.

Surprised there wasn't the underrated and overrated drama of the year though b/c thatI'm always curious to get their opnions on, but there's always 2015 to look forward too . . . eek!

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Girlfriday, omg, your comment on mix tape definitely brings back memory!

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