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Omg is it that time of year already? [Year in Review, Part 1]

How on earth has another year zoomed by already? It felt as though I’d only just recovered from banging my head against my keyboard over last year’s year-end reviews when I had to start banging my head against my keyboard for this year’s batch. And okay, perhaps banging isn’t expressly necessary—but trust me, it’s become a standard part of the process.

Every year I love and dread doing these reviews; they are a blast to have written, but a bear to actually write. On one hand, while our regular recap format is pretty awesome for detailed reviewing on a micro level, it’s a fun exercise to step back and take a look back at the year as a whole, assessing dramas as part of the landscape. Because no drama exists in a vacuum, and as much as we love to focus on content, we can’t forget entirely about context.

On the other hand, omg so many dramas. I watched a ridiculous amount of television this year—even more than usual, which is saying a lot—and in an effort to keep these reviews manageable, we’re once again limiting our discussion to shows we’ve completed. First, that feels fair, and second, these posts would go on foreeeeever if we opened it up to series that were partially watched. But don’t worry—as in past years, we here at Dramabeans have done our best to cover as much ground as possible between all of us, and if I haven’t gotten to a title, chances are good that another reviewer will. We’ve got the panda eyes to prove it.

 
SONG OF THE DAY

Krystal – “울컥” from the She’s So Lovable OST [ Download ]

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Miss Korea

While Miss Korea technically premiered last year (and feels ages ago), it makes this year’s list for airing more of its run in 2014, and also because I left it out of last year’s reviews and surely it deserves mention somewhere. There’s a tendency for dramas that air very early in a year to be largely forgotten by year’s end (curse our short memories!), which is too bad when a drama such as Miss Korea drops off the radar after turning in a surprisingly thoughtful showing.

Understated and sweet, Miss Korea contained a lot more depth than you’d expected from its frivolous-sounding pageant premise. On the surface, the drama sounded lightweight: A young woman aims to become Miss Korea to find direction in her aimless life, and a young CEO backs her, hoping to save his failing cosmetics company. The stakes were low and the plot took its time, focusing on smaller challenges—say, preparing for pageant competition, or marketing lipstick. Does it sound like the most riveting concept? Well, no. And yet, the drama tapped into an emotional current beneath its surface, engaging our affections with its heartfelt characters and their underdog struggles.

Adding an interesting moodiness was the tinge of nostalgia lent by the drama’s setting—the late nineties, during a time of widespread societal and economic uncertainty, an unease that was reflected in the characters’ plights. As a result, Miss Korea was an example of a show that worked not because of a clever premise but because of its overall mood (feel-good, woven through with a thread of grimness) and execution (a bit gritty).

The cast provided the other X factor, bolstered by a earnest, adorable lead couple: Lee Seon-kyun can always be relied upon to deliver a charismatic performance, but it was really Lee Yeon-hee who broke through. Not particularly known for her acting skills, she changed some minds with her short stint in last year’s Gu Family Book, and built on that transformation to embody this lead role and give her character a sweet spirit and a backbone. A winning combination.

 

You From Another Star

There are hits, and then there are phenoms, of which You From Another Star is a prime example, becoming such a success that it’s actually hard to overstate just how popular it was worldwide. It made a huge splash both domestically and internationally, set trends left and right, and was dramaland’s biggest success story of the past year (more, even).

All of that makes it tricky to look back on You From Another Star now without being swayed, one way or another, by the outside knowledge we have about it. Inevitably, wild hype creates expectations that are different than those that existed at the time of the original run, and this kind of baggage has a way of altering people’s memories and inviting added scrutiny, because the drama becomes such a large target.

Be that as it may, I have nothing but fond memories of the show, which was a blast to recap. The story incorporated a number of romantic-comedy conventions, but its skill was in weaving them together to feel fresh and current; we’d seen shows with similar elements before, but not quite this exact show. There’s a built-in formula inherent in the romantic comedy format (boy meets girl, complications ensue, happily ever after) that can hamstring the genre when employed clumsily; I’d argue that it can be much more difficult to make a rom-com fresh than most other formats because of this. So when one comes along and hooks me with fantastic romantic and comedic chemistry, I’m absolutely going to watch the hell out of it and remind myself to savor the experience, considering how many times I’ve struggled to like something and been let down.

The drama certainly had its weaknesses, with a cartoonish villain (who was at least of the deliciously campy sort; Shin Sung-rok dove into the role with gusto) and weak second leads who were nice and all, but sort of just hanging around while the two leads got to sparkle. But I will never complain about the sparkle, which gave us Jeon Ji-hyun in a career-defining turn (in a long career that’s already had a defining moment (that would be My Sassy Girl)) and one of the more memorable characters of the year. Sure, galaxy-hopping alien genius Do Manager was drily hilarious, but it was Chun Song-yi—hilarious and poignant, ridiculous and genuine—whose star shone brightest.

 

Wonderful Season

When Wonderful Season premiered, I was encouraged by its low-key, naturalistic approach to the weekend family drama, a format frequently plagued with histrionics and makjang excess. It was refreshing to have a series that employed all the same character types and story tropes that we’ve come to expect of these dramas, yet utilized them in different ways. Instead of dragging out angst-ridden scenarios for weeks on end, Wonderful Season consciously avoided the standard rhythms in favor of a gentler ebb-and-flow of conflict. I appreciated the different approach and was eager to see it play out, since the success of non-makjang dramas might encourage a shift away from those tired hysterics.

That said, this drama needed some drama. Color me surprised when I found myself thinking, deep into its 50-episode run, Man, I could really use some makjang right about now. It turns out there can be such a thing as too little angst; what initially felt languorous soon became plodding, and the series was so placid that even the conflicts felt conflictless. On an intellectual level I appreciate that despite plot points like birth secrets, unfaithful spouses, shady business dealings, possible murder, first loves, and unrequited loves, the drama was really about a fractured family coming together and healing years of repressed hurt. Yet its approach went too far the other way and sapped the proceedings of any sense of urgency.

As a result, I watched with no commitment—why get worked up, when the show wasn’t going to? Slice-of-life works better when the drama is buoyed by humor or cuteness, but Wonderful Season wasn’t going for comedy. Thoughtful and moody was the intent—it’s just that it undermined its own melodramatic pillars. Every time the drama built up to a climactic peak, the conflict defused before it hit that point.

So maybe we don’t try to solve the makjang problem by doing away with tension entirely. Maybe all or nothing doesn’t have to be the game plan. Maybe nobody wants to watch a six-month-long anticlimax.

 

Sly and Single Again

My main takeaway from Sly and Single Again is that Joo Sang-wook should only do romantic comedies, forever and always—a belief that solidified further with Birth of a Beauty a few months later (mentioned further down on this page).

He is what made Sly work for me, taking what seemed on paper like yet another chiseled CEO prince type and turning expectation on its head; I adored his dorky, sheepish beta male lead who wore his heart on his sleeve. It’s true that an actor is more likely to draw critical acclaim through dramatic outings (as Joo did in Giant, the role that provided his acting breakthrough), but in my eyes he is much more of a standout in the comedy field. (At least when he’s the lead; he put in his time playing the standard, boring cardboard-cutout second leads in rom-coms earlier in his career and was entirely dull as such.)

Lee Min-jung was fine as the heroine, though I’ll file her away in the “acceptable” category (I’ll confess to being disappointed in her recent roles, having expected more development from her after memorable early performances). Still, I’ll give her credit for being part of one of the few (only?) separated-couples-who-reunite that I actually wanted to reunite this year (wasn’t that a tricky trend?). Their separation felt understandable and reparable—not an easy balance to strike. I could leave Sly feeling hopeful that they’d learned from their mistakes and would work hard not to screw up their second chance, which isn’t something I could say of some other unfortunate reunited exes.

Performances aside, Sly and Single Again was a competent, good-natured rom-com that hit all the bullet points of the genre and neither soared above the pack nor failed spectacularly. It was a comfortable watch, if broad and sweet fit your bill.

 

God’s Gift – 14 Days

I almost skipped writing this review because God’s Gift — 14 Days, I’m still mad at you! But then I figured the best way to work out repressed anger is to let it out rather than trying to pretend things never happened, sooooo… let’s let it all out.

Unlike other dramas that failed to live up to their hype (and there were plenty of those), God’s Gift offered a different kind of crushing disappointment. It wasn’t a show I was hoping would be good that ended up being dumb; it was a show that was utterly gripping, and then betrayed us with that stinker of an ending. That’s worse than just not getting a good show; it’s showing you exactly what kind of awesomeness we could have had… and then yanking it away. Neener neener.

Let’s start with what it did right: A compelling murder mystery, an intriguing jump in time to prevent said murder, an endless parade of suspects. Charged acting from Lee Bo-young and a winsome one from Jo Seung-woo. Red herrings and conspirators dotted the landscape, and while there were probably too many serial killers in the mix, at least the story did a solid job of keeping us guessing and injecting constant threats that kept us on edge. I felt an ever-present danger for our characters, which is something every thriller requires but doesn’t always provide. The risks must be real for us to care, and I cared.

Admittedly, I started to find the constant twists and turns tiring—there is a thing as overly convoluted—but I was willing to hang in there to get our ending. It didn’t need to be happy, but I had full faith that it would be satisfying. *Pause to mourn misplaced hope*

Without giving away the ending, let’s just say that the reason I have such hatred for it is not because it wasn’t what I wanted, but because I believe it actively undermined what the show was working toward all along—the very definition of a “Gotcha!” moment. When we give a show our faith, we accept that there are clues we don’t yet know but enjoy the mental exercise of speculating and playing along with the mystery—we don’t see the full picture but are on tenterhooks waiting for the show to provide it. So when the show eventually produces a big picture that doesn’t work, we realize with a sinking feeling that our faith was misplaced—and then every bit of excitement we’d felt along the way is retroactively diminished.

It’s why the last taste has more power than one in the middle—the sourness lingers long after the actual bite is gone. God’s gift my ass. God owes me a refund, is what.

 

Golden Cross

Golden Cross was an interesting case for me: I approached with caution, unsure whether it would hold my interest, was pleasantly surprised when it did, and months later remember so little of it. I chalk it up to the drama being a competent entry into its category—a Count of Monte Cristo-inspired revenge story set in the financial world—but missing that spark to take it beyond that baseline.

What that meant was that while I was actively watching the show, I was engaged in the week-to-week developments—I liked the story, I felt for the wronged hero’s plight and wanted him to come back strong against the privileged elites and take them all down. I was drawn to the conflict of a righteous prosecutor determined to help the hero and nail the criminal, not knowing said criminal was her adoring dear dad. And I appreciated that the bad guys were, for a change, not genius masterminds who always knew how to skirt the law; they were scared, panicky, and very human. Completely corrupt, to be sure, but this wasn’t villainy for villainy’s sake, but weak men acting desperately out of self-preservation.

On the other hand, Golden Cross felt rather cold, perhaps a bit connect-the-dots. I appreciated that the plot was well-thought-out, but it was mostly an intellectual appreciation that left the heartstrings untugged. That’s not entirely to be blamed on the lack of chemistry between the leads, though that certainly didn’t help—Kim Kang-woo and Lee Shi-young felt more like buddies than romantic interests, and their storyline never quite rang true, and therefore lacked memorability. Wait, what was I talking about again?

 

Gap-dong

Here’s an honest question: How do you make a show about multiple serial killers boring?

I found enough in Gap-dong to make it worth the watch, but it’s another title I’m filing under my list of disappointments. I suppose I can’t blame a drama just because it didn’t end up being what I wanted it to be, but the show bears some responsibility for skewed expectations given how it touted Gap-dong: a dark and twisted thriller based on real-life serial killings that also inspired the lauded film Memories of Murder.

So I was expecting something macabre and edgy, something along the lines of Silence of the Lambs with its eerie suspense. Yet once the show settled in and the copycat murders got going, curiously the show became less of a crime mystery and more of a psychological case study. Interesting? Maybe intellectually. Exciting? Not even a little.

I lay the fault at the writer’s door for actively getting in the drama’s own way; every time the mystery built up a modicum of suspense, the writing spoiled the payoff by telling us what happened up front, rather than taking us along for the ride of discovery. It’s akin to a comic giving his punchline first, then lecturing us on why the joke is funny, instead of telling the joke in proper order. Thus we saw the copycat killing a bunch of people while the good guys ran around mystified, which had the double-whammy effect of boring us and making them seem stupid for not seeing what we knew.

The acting was the saving grace of the show—there wasn’t a weak link among the bunch—with particularly strong performances by Yoon Sang-hyun as the dogged cop and Lee Joon as the emotionless psychopath. Their work elevated the material, honestly, because while the interplay between the good guys and the bad guys was narratively unsurprising, at least we could sit back and enjoy what the cast was doing with the emotions of the scenes. Interestingly, this made for a drama where the process of watching was more fulfilling than getting to the ending, which I guess you could take as a grand metaphor for life or something. Just beware the serial killers roaming around.

 

Trot Lovers

Shin Sung-rok – “펄펄 끓어요” from the Trot Lovers OST [ Download ]

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Trot Lovers could have turned out a better show than it did—okay, that’s true of any show, but it feels extra true of this show because the basic framework of the story was perfectly workable. Tried-and-true, even, given the universality of underdog stories, the raw-talent-versus-elitism divide, and opposites-attract romances. Plus, it provided a prime opportunity for cheeky K-pop meta commentary while also taking on the idol industry from a fresher, sideways approach with trot music.

Sadly, Trot was a failure of execution, and suffered from a mishmash of tone—you had your standard light rom-com moments, your feel-good musical performances, and silly side characters, but then you also had amnesia, murderous antagonists, and cover-ups. And for once, it wasn’t Shin Sung-rok pulling those strings! (On a side note, how odd was it to see Shin Sung-rok playing a quirky goofball, sandwiched between two murderous, evil genius roles? He clearly had a blast being the mastermind, to such an extent that I was half-expecting him to show his true colors and start killing in Trot Lovers.)

Trot never tried to be highbrow, but it never quite embraced its slapstick, lowbrow charm either, which would have been one way to salvage the halfhearted attempt. The show was never aggressively bad (as with shows that inspire a much stronger negative reaction in me); it was just limp and lackluster. The supporting cast did what they could to make the most of their comic-relief bits, and the fact that they became more watchable than the main characters tells you something about the blandness of the central story. Thank goodness, at least, for Jung Eun-ji’s impassioned singing—and the show did incorporate her performances into the plot effectively—without which there would’ve been no reason to stick around. Even with her, it’s hard to justify sitting around through that increasingly messy latter stretch; maybe just stick to the Youtube video excerpts?

 

Joseon Gunman

Joseon Gunman was one of my bigger disappointments of the year, which feels almost unfair to say given that I did in fact enjoy it and would give it a pretty high mark. It’s just that I was so ready for it to grab me completely—I was willing it to do that all series long—and it never quite got there.

It had all the makings: revenge tale, new identity, guns in Joseon, gorgeous cinematography, Lee Jun-ki! From a production standpoint, it looked top-shelf, and the story was rich with potential. Its key failing, as I see it, was that it was too afraid to leave the harbors of convention and take risks. The hero could take up a gun and embark on vigilante justice missions, but he wasn’t allowed to actually dance with the dark side—his goodness of character was always reinforced, lest we think badly of him. (And he only ever shot people in the arm! How’s that for unintended comedy?)

Likewise, the heroine was a paragon of virtue, as was her stalwart admirer, and the good guys had a frustrating tendency to be noble folks limited by external forces. Anytime your drama relies on external conflict at the expense of internal ones means that you’re shutting out an entire dimension of human emotion, and keeping conflict on a simplistic level. All of which meant that the most interesting characters ended up being the villains, because they were allowed complexity and shape, where the heroes were given only the one side.

Which isn’t to say that Joseon Gunman was a failure, since I definitely had fun watching it. The core story was well-drawn, even if nuance was dulled by the lack of dimension, and the hero and villain’s escalating dance of attack and counterattack kept the plot in motion. The action scenes were top-notch; Lee Jun-ki sort of spoils you for action scenes forevermore, because you can’t beat an actor who performs stunts completely on his own, negating the need for distracting edits or obscured shots. And the production poured loving care into the filming, scoring, and editing of the show, which is evident in the richness of the visuals—it looks like a winner of a show. It’s just, well, I wanted to give the drama my heart, and it just wouldn’t take it.

 

Marriage Not Dating

I almost bypassed Marriage Not Dating at first, which sounded cute on paper—bachelor attempts to outsmart pushy parents by presenting an unmarriageable fake girlfriend (and falls for her, naturally)—but in a been-there-done-that sort of way. The show launched rather under the radar with two lesser-known leads, but almost immediately picked up solid word-of-mouth, and for good reason: It was sharply written with witty dialogue, and cleverly edited to play with chronology, which resulted in a show that sounded like it should be familiar yet managed to keep springing surprises on us.

One of my favorite things about cable stations is their willingness to cast smaller names, because here’s a case where the leads just wouldn’t have worked as well without this particular pair. Both Han Groo and Yeon Woo-jin were probably a few years away from scoring lead roles in broadcast television, but as Marriage Not Dating proved, they were absolutely up to the task. I’d known Han Groo was a budding talent when she debuted in the stylish cable mini-drama Girl K as a teenage assassin, but she positively sparkled in this drama, proving that a cheerful everygirl with a trusting nature can be a winsome character, given that the right actress bring her to life. She left you with the impression that had anybody else been cast, well, the character would’ve been all wrong.

Marriage Not Dating was for the most part a conventional romantic comedy, but I credit the writing and directing with keeping the story fresh, and preventing it from falling into that late-stage slow-down that plagues so many shows. Time-skipping and playing with chronology drive me a little batty when they’re used as lazy shortcuts, but when employed thoughtfully, as in Marriage Not Dating, they’re effective storytelling devices, leading to some truly hilarious moments that I won’t spoil for you here. Let’s just say that the sharp direction was instrumental in keeping the pace moving, allowing the characters to shine as they bickered and flirted their way to their happily ever afters.

 

High School: Love On

Oh my gahhh, how is this drama still airing? When High School: Love On first hit the air, I was skeptical of its format—once a week, Friday nights, for twenty episodes—because it felt like a last resort that nobody was really happy with. (It was initially planned to be a standard prime-time drama, then got shuffled around, even considering daytime slots, before KBS created the Friday slot.)

I could complain that this format killed interest in the show before it even had a chance—and how the constant pre-emptions torpedoed any momentum that might be building despite it—but to be honest, my indignation has a limit because the show itself lacks oomph. I really, really wanted this drama to do well, for several reasons: to overcome its scheduling obstacle and prove that quality could win out; because Kim Sae-ron is an adorable and talented budding star; because it would set a precedent for “younger” shows getting bigger budgets and serious production attention, rather than being relegated to low-budget affairs; and because, most of all, the idea is great, creating an interesting paranormal world with an intricate set of rules.

Ultimately, however, it’s a show that’s better in concept than execution. It’s been an easy watch despite the many flaws, but because the world is so interesting, I’m constantly plagued by disappointment over what could have been. The acting is the most visible weak link, and even having Kim Sae-ron in the cast isn’t a guaranteed win; while she is by far the best actor of the bunch, she’s actually surprised me by being simpler and less nuanced than I’d expected, given her dramatic chops. She plays her fallen-reaper-turned-high-schooler heroine with a cheerful radiance, but her newness to human ways sometimes plays off as dimwittedness rather than quirkiness. The idol leads—Woo-hyun and Seung-yeol, both of Infinite—are a bigger gaping hole, and their stilted performances keep this drama in Saved By the Bell territory rather than Monstar, which gives us an example of a high school drama that didn’t feel juvenile and whose fresh-faced cast held their own.

The acting isn’t the only problem, however, since the drama suffers from a tonal clash between dramatic extremes—sometimes it’s adorable and sweet, and at other times the characters react with makjang levels of emotion to simple conflicts. It’s jarring and clumsy, made all the more noticeable because the look of the drama is so polished and smooth, while the content remains rough around the edges. It’s frustrating, because I remain intrigued in the question at the center of the show—will she turn human or have to return to being an eternal reaper?—and the steady evolution of the rules in the reapers’ circle hints at a well-thought-out mythology… but the expression of those ideas has been clunky, to say the least. Maybe this is what they invented fanfic for.

 

Surplus Princess

Surplus Princess was a bit of an experiment for tvN—or at least, that’s how the media depicts it, although I don’t really think the mix of fantasy and humor was that unusual. It did perhaps take an aggressive approach in establishing a cheeky, glib, quirky tone, full of pop-culture and meta references. While that may have been a bit much for viewers (the show didn’t have a strong showing in the ratings and got cut two episodes short), it’s also what makes it stand out against dramaland’s other comedies, whose senses of humor hew more conventional.

Surplus feels more like a fantasy drama than many of the other titles in that category, in that there’s a surreal quality to the show, and I don’t even mean the part where a mermaid turns human. It feels like a live-action cartoon, in a positive sense; there’s a strong directorial hand in maintaining that tone throughout, so that reality doesn’t threaten to break in and ruin the effect. Instead, we get a fizzy, slightly addled tale of a bubbly mermaid who establishes camaraderie with a motley group of misfits, and learns that being human means a lot more than sprouting legs.

In addition to the usual themes of humanity being all about love and friendship, the drama throws in the additional motif of employment—and, funny enough, manages to not make a joke of it, instead tapping into the cultural zeitgeist about what it means to be employed in Korea these days. (It’s no Misaeng, but then again, Misaeng doesn’t have butt-grabbing, French-kissing heroines, does it?)

Surplus Princess does appear to be the kind of show that inspires an all-or-nothing reaction: Either you like it, or you really don’t. If you’re in the latter group, chances are good that the entire thing is a turn-off, but if you’re part of the group who likes it, I’d pinpoint two points of dissatisfaction: the timing of the main romance, and the ending. I’ll try not to spoil anything major here, but with the romance, I’d point to mishandled timing of the two lovelines that left many (most? all?) dissatisfied. On paper the choice works, but experiencing the emotional trajectory as it unfolded onscreen pointed at some kind of miscalibration; it left us feeling wanting.

The ending is perhaps the bigger offense but also the one I’m willing to cut the show more slack on, mostly because I assume that the last-minute cutdown of episodes put the drama in a tough spot. The finale felt like a defiant middle finger to the station, and I can understand feeling backed into a corner. If that’s what happened, it’s too bad that the production essentially chose an act of TV road rage over making the best of a bad situation, because it’s us fans who are left trying to cobble together sense out of a taunting finale. For me, I choose to remember Surplus more for its zany antics and not its ending, which has the added bonus of letting me reimagine the romance the way I wanted it. (Namely: more kisses!)

 

Three Musketeers

Hype is a double-edged sword, but 2014 sure has given us a lot more of its downsides than ups. Three Musketeers definitely suffered from an excess of it, and those expectations appear to have been its undoing. With so much attention paid to the three-season format and location shoots and high production budget, focus shifted away from whether this was a good show to whether it would live up to its price tag—two very different questions.

Regarding the latter question, tvN seems to be leaning toward no, based on its vague and noncommittal attitude toward follow-up seasons (it hasn’t confirmed cancellation of such plans, but it doesn’t take a lot of reading between the lines to see which way the wind’s blowing). But as to the former, I’d say that yes, Three Musketeers is a show that on its own merits, independent of meta baggage, was solidly entertaining, capturing the spirit of swagger and cheekiness that we’ve come to expect of Three Musketeers-based stories. Humor was never far from the surface, and the camaraderie between the four leads made for light-hearted entertainment.

It’s also one of my top picks for adapted stories; I’m amazed at how fully it utilized the Three Musketeers story while at the same time feeling fully at home as a Joseon-era fusion sageuk. If you didn’t know it was the Three Musketeers, the story would work perfectly fine on its own as a fun interpretation on the Injo-Sohyeon period of history, and conversely, if you only knew it as an adaptation independent of its historical moorings, it feels very much in the spirit of the Dumas tale.

In hindsight, I do wish the series hadn’t spent the entire first season on the process of forming the musketeer posse, because we got so little time to enjoy them in their fully assembled state. Granted, this is the risk you run in planning something so deep into the future, but it’s also a reminder to not save your best stuff for last—in withholding your gems, you might end up not getting a chance to use them at all. In fact, all great writing should hew to that rule in general: Show us your best now, without worrying that you’re using it up too soon. Get us hooked now, and when we get to later, well—then you can think of something even better. Always aim for better.

 

Iron Man

Iron Man was my biggest surprise of the year, in that it had the biggest gap between what I’d expected and what I actually got. Well, inasmuch as I had no idea what to expect; in the lead-up to the premiere, it looked so strange and disjointed that I couldn’t begin to predict what it was trying to be. A thriller? A hard melodrama? A supernatural sci-fi piece? An action drama? A… comedy?

Once I saw the show, it turned out to be much simpler than I’d thought, plotwise. Yes, there is a man whose body sprouts knives when he gets angry, but that wasn’t so weird once you accepted the basic comic book premise; the Hulk turned green and inflated, Iron Man has anger spikes. More than the knives, I’d say that one’s response to Iron Man depends almost completely on tone: Either this deadpan, absurdist humor works for you or it doesn’t. And while all humor is subjective, the Iron Man divide seems a bit further out-there than other comedies, and certainly when we’re talking about dramaland.

If it didn’t work for you, don’t worry; pretty much all of dramaland agreed with you (Iron Man had pretty abysmal ratings, even taking into account this year’s depressed numbers across the board). It may have been a little too experimental for the average viewer, though I found it absolutely hysterical—it was witty, tongue-in-cheek, and wry, with a dreamy fantasy touch. Iron Man felt like a classic superhero comic book brought to life; the world in the show was in no way our real world, but the director maintained such a rock-solid grip on his vision that the artifice held up up. I mean, of course it’s ridiculous that the hero could sprout knives or fly—but in his universe, I believed that he could and accepted the drama’s worldbuilding vision.

Even so, even an intentionally absurd show requires emotional grounding, and Iron Man gave it to us in the two leads (I almost even liked Shin Se-kyung in this!) and the supporting characters like our awesome Secretary Go and precocious little Chang. The knives were a metaphor made literal, and the drama made sure to bring everything back to the source, at which point our manchild of a hero could begin his emotional healing. Okay, with some physical healing too; you don’t turn into Mr. Porcupine without encountering a few occupational hazards.

 

She’s So Lovable

Oy, this show. She’s So Lovable was one of the year’s big flops, and I certainly understand why—sluggish pacing, embarrassing dialogue, terrible acting. At the same time, I thought of it as benignly incompetent—and that’s why I was always surprised at intensity of scorn the Korean media leveled against this show, from before it even premiered through to its finale. I didn’t disagree with the assessments, but found it curious that reviews would be so scathing of a show whose biggest mistake was in being dull as dirt. (The headlines were pretty snarky and entertaining, making full use of the “She’s so [adjective]” structure to call it all sorts of things, but it did feel like picking low-hanging fruit.)

One explanation might be that the press was having fun tearing down yet another overhyped project from a big star, but I’d argue that She’s So Lovable wasn’t really one of the big buzz projects of the year, nor were the producers particularly big-name. Perhaps the likelier explanation is that there’s a bubbling dissatisfaction with idols-turned-actors in the general populace, and all that pent-up ire was just looking for a target upon which to unleash itself.

Whatever the reason, She’s So Lovable did itself no favors with its choices. One could almost forgive the production for casting Rain to play a fictionalized version of himself (or really, his producer/hyung/mentor JYP) for some meta kicks, and even though she was woefully out of her element, I can sort of see what drove them to cast Krystal in the lead. (I said sort of. If I squint real hard. And if the criteria are an idol star who’s acted before, regardless of suitability for this role.) But they had no chemistry to speak of, and she was so far in over her head that I almost preferred her scenes with L (the nadir of idol-actor castings), because at least then they were on even ground. Rain, bless his heart, did his best to act, but the contrast between what he produced and what his idol co-stars did was downright distracting, and he was best when out of their vicinity.

The story was equally flatfooted, and the dialogue was consistently noted for its ability to make you embarrassed for everybody involved in speaking it. Here’s a question: Did the acting lower the writing, or did the writing lower the acting? Or is that a moot question, because once we got into the downward spiral, all that mattered was that there was no way to save the sinking ship?

 

Secret Door

Arghhhh, Secret Door. Where did we go so wrong?

This drama had SO much to recommend it, and it kills me. Secret Door came ready-supplied with a gripping, grim, positively lurid story—one that has captured the interest and imaginations of people for centuries. The story of a king who orders his son to voluntarily step into his own gruesome death is epic and fascinating in the utmost—so how do you make a drama about that and let the tension slip right out between its fingers? How is there even a way to make the story of the tragic Crown Prince Sado prosaic?

Secret Door started out with promise—it did have a tendency to inundate us with characters and names and was pretty dense with historical data and politics, but at the core we had the tension between the king and crown prince to drive conflict. No matter how dry the politics got (and it could sometimes peel paint), the drama remained a worthwhile watch because (1) the political machinations were, if sometimes bordering on impenetrable, at least well thought-out and interesting as intellectual exercises, and (2) the emotional undercurrent tracked back to the father-son dynamic, which kept us invested.

But the longer the political chess game went on, the more it felt like the drama was purposely trying to be inaccessible, and the focus shifted away from Yeongjo. (How do you cast Han Seok-kyu and then relegate him to mere snippets of screen time?) That may have been forgivable had the shift occurred to give Sun (Sado) more narrative focus, but instead the drama jumped over to side characters and day players. I won’t even blame the actress swap as the source of problems (even though I found it jarring and unnecessary). That was, if anything, a symptom of bigger issues at play, which was a loss of focus and a drifting from the drama’s emotional center. Namely, you have amazing actors playing out a Shakespearean-level psychodrama, only to dial that down in favor of external factors. Politicking between our main characters was tolerable, but outsourcing that to eunuchs and scholars and outside political agitators? Unacceptab—zzzzzzzzzz.

I don’t think it’s a reach to say that many of us were hanging in there for its ending, to see how the drama would depict the prince meeting his infamous end. Heck, the power of that one scene alone was what got us all to tune in on Day 1—and probably got the drama sold in the first place. So I stuck it out for that ending, only to literally shout at my screen, “That’s it?!” The drama’s ending told us nothing we didn’t already know, and glossed it over in the most cursory way. It’s the equivalent of being stuck in a five-hour gridlock on the highway, expecting to see signs of wreckage or carnage at the crisis point, and finding absolutely nothing but a bunch of cars driving slowly. At that point you just wanna see some blood, okay? Where’s my payoff?

All that said, Secret Door did contain stellar acting, and was in no way a disappointment from a performance standpoint. The plot may have been slow and dense, but every beat was acted with full commitment and gravitas; Park Eun-bin was particularly strong as the terse princess, and Lee Je-hoon was, as ever, commanding and wholly emotional present. Han Seok-kyu took a King Lear-ian approach in his interpretation of a well-known figure, though I might note that it did seem a wee bit studied. But is that all moot in the end? If nobody’s watching, does that mitigate its own impact? If a tree falls in the forest, is there nobody to clap for an act of thespian grandeur?

 

Cantabile Tomorrow

Joo-won – “Innocente” from the Cantabile Tomorrow OST [ Download ]

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Aww, Cantabile Tomorrow. I will readily concede that this drama was not the show I’d hoped it would be, and that I could think of a dozen ways or more to improve it, and that the flaws aren’t even well-tucked out of sight but right there in the open. Even so, I had an overwhelmingly warm-and-fuzzy response to it, and in looking back on the show, it’s the emotionally stirring moments that come to mind, while the clumsy bits recede to the background.

It’s a shame that the beginning was as awkward as it was, because once the show found itself, it was quite sweet and punctuated with a steady stream of heart-stirring moments. The drama undoubtedly suffered from the weight of expectations, which was inevitable given the popularity of Nodame Cantabile, and took a few false steps before figuring out how to make this adaptation work. Attempting to mimic Nodame’s broad comic sensibility was a mistake that the producers thankfully adjusted away from, though it may have been too late at that point to win over people who’d already given up. You can’t blame people from being turned off; it’s always nice, of course, to be given the benefit of the doubt or a second chance, but it’s the drama’s responsibility to make the most of its one shot. So I understand why people dropped off, though it’s too bad that their only encounter with the show was at its worst.

With its easy storytelling flow and understated sensibility, this wasn’t an emotional show, per se, but nevertheless tapped into a vein of feeling. It wasn’t about wringing out sentimentality but in finding a point of resonance with the characters’ feelings; their journeys as musicians mirrored their maturation as people, and tapped into universal experiences of transitioning into adulthood. So it didn’t matter whether you understood the musical references or could relate to the specifics of playing an instrument, because the music was one way of representing a type of growth we can all connect with.

Every so often, it’s nice to get a show that reminds us that we watch dramas that move us and speak to us, regardless of their standing elsewhere. Cantabile Tomorrow was that show for me, and while I can’t quite pinpoint what about its messy alchemy speaks to me, it matters less to me why that’s so, and more just that it is.

 

Misaeng

Misaeng is the rare example of a drama that came with extremely high expectations and not only rose to meet the challenge but surpassed it. Met with universal acclaim, the drama has managed a remarkable feat and risen to pop-culture phenomenon status while successfully evading some of dramaland’s favorite conventions, like stunt-casting for star power, arranging characters into love triangles or squares or other geometric shapes, and falling back on familiar conflict setups. It is, without question, a stellar production that deserves all of its accolades.

The individual plotlines involving the company’s workings sometimes stir me to impatience at their deliberate pacing, though I don’t doubt that this is an intentional choice; the story is loosely plotted, but don’t confuse that for lacking energy or conflict. The episodes are strung taut with tension, and any appearance of meandering is illusory, disguising a sense of unease that’s always bubbling under the surface, ready to boil over in the form of the corporate crisis of the day. That’s part of its brilliance, in capturing the realities of office culture not only in appearance but also psychologically and emotionally. The directing is masterful in capturing this sensibility—sometimes in words, sometimes in images, sometimes in silence. It’s all the more impressive knowing that the director is doing this working from 2-D images of a webtoon, capturing the feel of the original Misaeng in a wholly new medium.

That doesn’t mean it has to be your favorite show; I recognize that it’s the best drama to come around all year but am not beating myself up about not feeling wildly in love with it. I find it smart and caustic and unbearably realistic at times, but it certainly isn’t a show I’m itching to rewatch—for one, it’s just so depressing. (A Korean article I read called it “the saddest drama without a single sad scene in it,” which is oddly apt.) It makes me feel bleak and a little dull inside after every episode—and is there a way to add “but in a good way” to the end of that thought? Sometimes it cuts a little too close to reality for comfort (and by sometimes I mean all the times), but that sense of discomfort may very well be part of its appeal.

Because nobody’s watching Misaeng to feel great and laugh it up, for sure. I suppose the appeal for much of the viewership is in finding snippets of oneself in Jang Geu-rae, the hapless new hire navigating the maddening politics of the corporate world, which he observes with the clarity (and horror) of an outsider. (Another Korean article cited that 44% of office workers felt they were Geu-rae—a pretty impressive number.) There’s a reason that enduring traumatic events with others elicits bonding, whether in the trenches of war or in the metaphorical minefields of office spaces. We’re all in this together, you sigh with relief to know you’re not alone.

 

Modern Farmer

You’ve got to give a show props for knowing exactly what it is and not having an inferiority complex about it. Modern Farmer is intentionally—you could even say aggressively—lowbrow, and whether you find it charming or dumb probably depends in large part your tolerance for that kind of humor.

Admittedly Modern Farmer’s voluntarily vulgar sensibility is not my bag, but I find it harmless and silly enough to follow along. There’s a good-naturedness that I like about the show; I can enjoy that everyone’s in on the joke and working to milk it to its best effect, which helps keep things fun rather than stupid. The cast is willing to do outrageous things for comedy, and I will always admire full commitment, even if it comes at the hands of the hundredth pee joke. (Oh my god the toilet humor. This drama has the joke repertoire of a ten-year-old whose idea of wit involves a whoopie cushion.)

Whether or not you find the humor hilarious or senseless, it would be pointless if the drama didn’t also have a heart, and that’s what saves Modern Farmer from being a throwaway catalogue of sight gags. The characters may spend all day (or night) running around wearing ajumma pants, perpetrating poop gags, being victimized by local wildlife, or singing to their crops, but they’ve also cultivated surprise friendships with the locals and come together in unexpected ways. It’s developed into an ensemble of interconnected relationships, becoming an example of the whole adding up to more than the sum of its parts. Modern Farmer may not make for sophisticated television, but if SBS wants to give us more good-humored, upbeat programming in lieu of fraught makjangs, I’m all for it.

 

Liar Game

Liar Game did something I never thought I’d say: It made math interesting. Fine, I didn’t always follow the mathiness in the show, but it sure spurred me to try, and that is something years of math (and subsequent years of recurring nightmares of math) could not get me to do.

This is a drama whose adaptation merits I can’t judge, having no experience of the originals—but I can say that as a brand-new viewer, I found the show downright addicting. One of my favorite things about it was that because the base concept was so strong, the drama could step away from the usual bin of tropes and take us in directions I wasn’t used to in K-dramas—no need for birth secrets or love triangles when you’ve got so much ground to cover with the Liar Game and its shady background. Rather than trying to guess what would come next, I was content to simply enjoy what was happening without feeling a compulsion to anticipate the next development.

The games did become rather convoluted and following the explanations could be a challenge, but each game was smartly written to draw out key character moments. I assume the credit for that must go to the original creator for coming up with such elaborate games, but I do also think the director deserved credit for finding suspenseful ways of depicting the underlying tension at each stage. So despite the dry rules and complicated qualifiers, the show found a way to follow the contestants’ emotional throughlines, which was a crucial point to keeping us with the characters as they lied and strategized their way through the rounds.

Liar Game also belongs in a minority of dramas this year whose ending didn’t bring about a precipitous drop, thank goodness. As the show headed toward its conclusion, rather than fraying at the seams as so many dramas unfortunately do, it became increasingly evident that Liar Game had been planned with extra care; details that had been tossed out earlier carelessly now came together, giving us an ending that made total sense while still succeeding in surprising us.

Now, all we need is a Season 2…

 

Birth of a Beauty

Necessary caveat: It’s a bit premature to write a review about Birth of a Beauty since it’s still airing, but I suppose it’ll be too late to cover in next year’s batch. And I’m enjoying it too much to want to skip over it entirely; its screwball antics are a hoot, and the two leads really sell their characters with loads of charm.

The rapport between the couple is the biggest factor making this show a winner for me; Joo Sang-wook turns in another adorable turn as a rom-com hero with a vulnerable dorky side, while Han Ye-seul plays her character with a sweetness with an edge. Together they’re a bit daffy in the cutest way, at first hilariously mismatched and then growing closer the more they see each other’s hearts behind the facades.

The drama’s sense of humor is like a lot of romantic comedies—cute, bold, fast-paced—with a wacky tinge to give it an extra spin. This extra quality goes a long way toward making the show work, because the tone is what’s keeping Birth of a Beauty from sinking into a dramatic angstfest—there are definitely plot points that could be played as aggravating, but are managed by the overall screwball sensibility. It’ll be up to the show to maintain that sense of fun as it tackles its latter half, and I’ve seen too many dramas to count on anything this early. Let’s just cross our fingers and hope for the best, shall we? And if this one crashes and burns, well, someone just might have to start a petition to ensure that Joo Sang-wook comes back with another crazy rom-com. It’s for his own good!

 

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no you'r all sorrounded?? :(

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I was also looking for it, since it's one of the most anticipated dramas and had an *ahem* terrible villain. But at least, the acting and bromance in the show made up for its flow.

How I wish Cha Seung Won and Lee Seung Gi win best couple award xD, I lub them together (in a healthy way of hot ahjusshi and puppy)

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Perhaps, it was left out because it was another humdrum drama in a year of many, many, many fails. I have to say 2014, was the worst year for Kdramas in a very long time. There was no break out drama, except maybe Misaeng. No water cooler sageuk, or action drama.

Just a whole bunch of over-hyped and unfulfilled dramas, with terrible plots and bad casting. Hopefully, the crash and burn ratings for many of the dramas will be a wake up call for the industry.

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Guess you were just expecting too much.

2014 kdramas were a lot more exciting than 2013, with TVN contributing almost 40% of the total shows produced this year.
I couldn't even keep up.
Too many kdramas, too little time.

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I agree... For a small-ish country (when compared with, say, China), Korea produced an avalanche of dramas this year! (Or, has it been like this all the time??) China, being big, can naturally churn out drama after drama...but I was/am genuinely surprised how quickly Korean writers and producers write and produce! It seemed to me like as soon as Seo In-Gook finished starring in High School King of Savvy, there he was again, already casted and acting in The King's Face.

A'way, I'm loving it... I don't mind in the least the fact that there are so many Korean dramas to choose from!

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Don't think javabeans watched it in its entirety. It ll be on girlfridays year end reviews for sure though.

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As the title states...
Omg is it that time of year already? [Year in Review, Part 1]..

Let's just wait for part 2.

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Thank you for this review. Been looking forward to it. From all the ones I watched the only one I really love is Miss Korea. I disagree that the stakes are not high because they do become quite high quite quickly. Well, especially compared to many dramas where the stakes are usually a filial relationship, a romantic relationship, etc..

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And the second lead couple is my favorite of all time.

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Who is that?

If its Teacher and Doctor, then I'm right there with you! Loved them to bits.

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<3

so underrated and understated

LOVE Miss Korea too!!!

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...But I'm still catching up on last year's shows. :(

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Me too!

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Me three!

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This year is not very good for K-ents...

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To be honest, Lee Yeon Hee's performance in Gu Family book was barely watchable for me. I felt that she wasn't drawing out as many emotions as her character called for, and it was really painful watching her try to act...

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I did not watch Gu Family Book, but trust me, she emotes as well as anyone I've seen in Miss Korea.

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Yeah, found LYH's performance in GFB overrated so dropped that show (though I liked Suzy's character~yeah judge me on that!*shrugs*) and dropped MK too after the first 2 episodes. If I have the time to watch it sometime before the year ends, I'd watch it for one reason only: Chief Oh, Lee Sung Min!

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Really? LYH was always known for being just a pretty face with no acting skills, but her performance seemed like she finally turned a corner. Maybe, your expectations were too high? In Gu Family, she showed the potential to be a decent/good actress. I along with many people were able to really connect to her emotionally in that drama.

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Lee Yeon-hee did really well on Gu Family Book. only the episodes she was in was watchable.

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Agreed. This might offend MANY but I thought she was far better than Suzy. I couldn't bare to watch Suzy's performance...

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I agree. I didn't find her compelling at all. The first two episodes of Gu Family Book was only bearable because of Choi Jin Hyuk.

I stayed watching to the end because I wanted to know if LSG and Suzy were going to work out or not but neither of these two acting really stood out.

Though I liked her character on paper but she feels too much like a teen in high school, which is for me more of the writing than the actress.

I was hoping to like LSG finally since so many people liked him but still found him overacting and his brash character annoying.

I tried Miss Korea because it had some decent reviews and though I thought LYH was 'better' but not enough to stick out a whole series for.

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What?? Misaeng and depressing!!!!! I agree that it has a melancholic feel to it but please it's far, very far from being a depressing show!!!

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The first two episodes were really depressing that I almost dropped it. There's only a certain level of 'realness' that I want to see on my screen. I want to escape reality, not remind me of what I want to escape from, present experiences or past memories combined. It reminded me of pretentious Nolan dreks, but thankfully I found the next episodes profound instead. I love this show!

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From the beginning, the show always maintained a certain level of hope during its most depressing times. The show made me desperately wanted to watch more episodes to see how the characters would overcome their obstacles. I personally like shows that are realistically dark and gritty. I'm a big Nolan fan.

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*bows in respect*

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+1

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Misaeng - dark, realistic and gritty, but depressing? absolutely not!

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I am at episode 6 now and I am loving it. Depressing is not a word to describe at all. It is gritty and realistic, but at the end of every episode it leaves me satisfied, the dynamic of the characters is so well thought of that I wonder how other dramas can fail so badly.
Although I have to add that Koreans may find this kind of realistic portrayal depressing because it rings familiar bells. Though being a rookie in the corporate world can be hard everywhere, I have to say that around me here it's not quite hard as what Jang Geu rae and his fellow interns(even Young Yi) are going through.

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Yes! Because the worse the things get for our heroes, the more satisfaction we get when they finally solve their problems.

I probably have never been that satisfied about anything. I keep giggling at the screen and am happy for hours after every successful denouement.

<3

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i agree with javabean about misaeng, i watch first episode the story is realistic, depressing because it happen too many office worker, those feeling hapen to me too n the bad side is that make me doesn't have curiosity about what's next
liar game, i watch first 4 episode but haven't really rush to watch it again, i think the scheme of next round reduce the curiosity, it's like we are getting thrill but suddently cooling down, i don't know when i will watch the next round
I enjoying Miss Korea,Sly n single again n Cantabile Tomorrow n reallly addicted with The Three musketeers

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I wouldn't call Misaeng exactly depressing - sobering fits better. You never feel like Geu-rae is going to give way to despair like you would when faced with his issues - you know he can handle it,but you're still sad he has to do so. I'm normally a rom-com ajumma, but this show has so much depth and wisdom that I don't miss the lovelines. This is the show I'm recommending to all of my friends as a good entry into Asian dramas. I love the window into the Korean corporate world and the peep into life as a young person there trying to find their way.

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Exactly, you know very well Jang Geu-rae (and Seok-yul, and Young-yi, and Baek-ki and Chief Oh) isn't going to become a chaebol but to me, who works in an office, it's definitely not "depressing".

There's just enough hope in there (that beginning sequence!) to keep you wondering how Gaeu-rae went from sad puppy with puppy eyes looking for Chief Oh's approval, to the confident young man we saw in Jordan at the start of the story. Sure, I feel really really bad for him a lot (and for Young-yi, Seok-yul and Chief Oh) but the hope is what keeps the story uplifting for me - it's a story of characters who are learning to survive, but it's also important for them to stay themselves (seok-yul's haircut made him conventionally cuter, but it was absolutely no compensation for the loss of his irrepressible spirit).

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My god is Misaeng depressing, I have enough office politics at work to deal with, no need for more after work.

What Misaeng has taught me is I will not transfer to an Asian branch ever. Not even if they give me a raise.

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Indeed!

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Agreed. I think Misaeng has a powerful message of hope actually, that even though people may be facing great adversity and injustice in the workplace, they are strong enough to endure and overcome it, and it is worthwhile to persevere. I think this is one reason this show is so popular.

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I so agree about Surplus Princess. People either loved it or hated it. I was one of the former, and I was so disappointed when it was cut short. The writers seemed to be forming the main relationship slowly, so when the cut happened, they suddenly had to speed things up. But they were actually doing an alright job with that in the final episode, except then they ruined it with the weird ending. I still have overall happy thoughts about the show though, and I'll never forget Apple Butt, lol

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I really love Surplus Princess as well. I picked it up at the onset because Kim Seulgi is in it (I loooove her and eat up everything she does), and fell in love with all the characters by its end. That ending is a bit of a letdown, but understandable given the circumstances. The show was outrageously funny too: Hani's shriek upon seeing her lady-parts for the first time and Ahn Gilkang fish-headed, human-legged sea creature will be instant pick-me-ups on a bad day.

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*sigh*

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Surplus Princess was a coincidental find for me and my first korean drama. I had never seen anything like it before wasn't aware of its relative quirkiness compared to other dramas at the time. desprite the problems that show had down the line, I found it so charming and different. So I set out to find more shows and got infected with the drama virus for good, so thanks for that, little mermaid!
And a big thank you to dramabeans for providing invaluable insight and guidance - you guys are awesome!

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Wow, what a drama to start with! Unfortunate that it was one of the very few that gets cancelled mid-run, lol. But it's funny that it was a different quirky drama that actually got you into k-dramas; i hope the next one you watched wasn't a makjang melo, that would've been a shock after Surplus Princess, ha ha

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My verdict: HA and sigh.

GO JO BOA!

Started out who the heck is Ohn Joo wan? ended with OMG HIS SMILE IS PUPPIES IN A BASKET UNDER A RAINBOW IN A FIELD OF HAPPY CHILDREN!

Also Kim Seul-gi!!!!

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The drama I felt most cheated watching was My Secret Hotel. That show had so much potential but it decided to go the will she won't she route? I think it was probably the biggest let-down of 2014 for me, along with You're All Surrounded and Trot Lovers which I couldn't even be bothered to finish watching. The drama I was most surprised when I watched was Angel Eyes. I had never seen Lee Sang-yoon in anything before that and Gu Hye-sun is one of those actresses I avoid like the plague, but I enjoyed the drama more than I thought I would. The chemistry between the leads, the lovely OST, the absolutely lovely-for me anyway-plot, and Kim Ji-suk. It ended up being one of my favourite dramas of all time which I would watch again and again.

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I agree! Angel Eyes was one of the most surprising and heartwarming dramas of 2014. I just think they did not do really well in the ratings, no?

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Agree. Angel Eyes was a kind and heartwarming drama. If only the plot was less predictable....
The younger versions and the main leads did a great job of their characters. It was unfortunate that the Sewol tragedy happened .People were avoiding melodramas then..

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I felt like 2014 wasn't a stellar year for Korean dramas. A lot of disappointments I must say.

In fact, I don't think I've ever started so many dramas only to drop it completely after 3-5 episodes. This was the case this year for Three Musketeers, Joseon Gunman, Cantabile Tomorrow, It's Okay, That's Love, My Secret Hotel and yes, I also almost dropped My Love From Another Star.

Now that I'm thinking back, I think I only finished 3 dramas! My Love From Another Star, Emergency Couple and Liar Game!

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ditto, I was such a drama addict that I wouldn't drop a drama or stop watching even if it got bad. This year changed that, I could barely finish any dramas - even the hyped ones.

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Agree, I never drop drama before and when I drop it I'll try my best to get back to the drama. This year some kdramas force me to bail out early even when I really like the actors. Miss Korea, Joseon Gunman, Secret Door, etc.

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Yeah, the hyped one this year have been pretty bad actually. My excitement for It’s Okay, That’s Love was pretty big. And I love Gong Hyojin! But I just couldn't continue on...

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I can't believe the amount of dramas I just didn't care about after the first 5-7 episodes. This was the worst year of Kdramas. The one and only drama I totally loved - aside from YFAS which seems like last year's drama - was "Bride of the Century." Since then, zip, nada, nothing.

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Hmmm...I finished YFAS, YAAS, Emergency Couple, and Blade Man. Most of the dramas I have finished this year were from last year, or the years before. I don't have a clue of which dramas to watch after The YFAS ended that it took me months to find good dramas to watch (I waited for the dramas to finish before I watch them except for YFAS, Pinocchio, and Pride and Prejudice). For most of the year, I couldn't find any drama that could keep my attention so I chose dramas from the previous years.

I hope 2015 is better. I might love Joo Won's performance in Good Doctor but I would love to watch current dramas, too. Nevertheless, it's also the year where '86's and '87's are to be drafted--LMH, LSG, Joo Won, Seo In Guk, and Ahn Jae Hyun just to name a few.

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If there is one thing I have learned from watching successive waves of oppas go to the military, it's that there are always, ALWAYS some crazy talented and charismatic young men just waiting in the wings for their chance to shine, and they'll finally get it once their older colleagues are out of the way.

I think we're going to see some very promising performances out of the '88-'90 generation of actors once the '86 and '87ers (some of whom are, quite frankly, overhyped) are out of the way - Im Siwan (already killing it in Misaeng and The Attorney), Lee Jong-seok, Kim Woo-bin, Kang Haneul, Sung Joon......not to mention the newly discharged ('93-er!) Yoo Seung-ho and older but soon-to-be-discharged Song Joong-ki. Also new breakouts like Yoo Yoon-seok and Song Jae-rim, who are on the older side but don't have to go anywhere since they're already done with military service years ago.

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Pogo, thanks for reminding me. It made me feel a lot better. I haven't quite forgotten about them. It's just that it makes me feel sad that the majority of the actors I like are leaving for the army this year.

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I dropped My Love From Another Star at episode 4...

There was something about it that was very familiar like I've seen it somewhere before, I think it was a Hong Kong film, but really I didn't like the way Kim So Hyun played his character and Jun Ji Hyun was basically playing an older version of her character in My Sassy Girl which was a movie I hated with a passion.

It was so popular though, I wished I could have loved it like everyone else.

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I agree with all of javabeans' reviews except for YFAS. As much as I wanted to like it (especially being a huge scifi/fantasy nut), it just wasn't as exciting? dramatic? interesting? likable? memorable? as other dramas I enjoyed this year. Made it as far as Ep6, then gave up. It was truly baffling to hear how popular it was.

More lovable secretaries, please! I absolutely loved the supporting actors who played secretaries: namely, Secretary Go in Blade Man and Secretary Tak in Fated to Love You.

I agree that Joo Sang Wook needs to be in more rom-coms, based upon Sly and Single Again and Birth of a Beauty! Between him and Jang Hyuk, it just goes to show that talent, intelligence, and bodies (those abs!!!) only gets better with age!

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I believe you've got something here about how we might have hardly dropped any shows at all before but are doing so a lot now.

In the beginning I didn't think too deeply and just watched each drama through to the end for the sake of mindless entertainment, just had to complete them to be complete, bad or good. Then the tropes started getting too obvious and stories became too predictable. A case of familiarity breeding contempt?

Add to that, the insights that recaps and commentary in DB and elsewhere gives on what makes for good or bad shows, and it's no wonder we start dropping shows left and right. Our eyes were opened and it will take some powerful forces to enable us to shut at least one of them and continue watching what seems like a waste of time.

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SO EXCITED FOR THIS

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I stepped away for a couple of days, only to return to find not one BUT TWO Year In Reviews!! SO excited!

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So many of these I dropped because they just didn't work for me, in some cases even irritated me greatly (Naeil's Cantabile, Marriage Not Dating, Joseon Gunman).... or never finished watching because something else got in the way (You from Another Star... second leads... #$*@(#&).

Only two dramas that I loved: It's Okay It's Love and Misaeng. IOIL bailed a bit towards the end (still think the break-up with year abroad with no contact and then magical turnaround of mom upon return was unnecessary as well as not very realistic). Misaeng, I have unconditional love for. It's the kind of genre I like best (and Korean dramas never do), and I love everything about it. It's exactly my kind of drama and it might well end up being my favourite kdrama ever (still a bit to go).

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Exactly my thoughts on IOIL and Misaeng :) I finished a few other shows this year: Discovery of romance, Spring days of my life, Marriage not dating, God's gift 14 days, but they were all forgettable, My love from another star, on the other hand, i only watched the first episode and although i love Jun Ji Hyun, it just didn't grab me to come back and finish it. I need to watch Miss Korea, sounds interesting.

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I only read the recap (koala's) for Ms Korea. I might visit some point – I doubt I'll love it as much as the ones I did love, but it might end up being better than many.

I might finish MLFA one day... but I've seen enough of JJH's performance to appreciate it, I don't think I need the other 14-15 (?) episodes that I didn't watch yet, not with her obnoxious "best" friend etc. Watched parts of DOR and God's Gift, but they didn't work for me (or were annoying... still don't think everyone of DOR would have been better off moving on).

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Maybe I'll let my mom watch "Sly". She adores Joo Sang-wook and it will not be hard to ask her to sign that petition!

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Marriage, not Dating was so great. I came in to it with no expectations, and left (mostly) satisfied. I haven't loved a rom-com this much since Queen Inhyun's Man.

Which is funny, since QIM was a while ago. And yet, I've watched so many dramas this year, but most of them are forgettable. They're enjoyable, but they don't last.

I complain, but I know that next year I'll be waiting for the next drama that just...catches me.

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Agreed! Marriage not Dating was such a surprise for me. When I read recaps in dramabeans, I was very hesitant about it because the whole pretend-marriage premise has been SO overdone in Kdramas and can come off so cliche... but oh man did I make the right choice to check just a clip of it. I was immediately hooked by the actors' chemistry, and watching an episode of it confirmed the show's quality dialogue, clever film arrangements and lovable characters (except for the sometimes-annoying-as-heck second leads).

I definitely recommend MND to anyone who loves Rom-Coms and the pretend-marriage premise done well!

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Marriage Not Dating was a pleasant surprise for me, too! I started watching because of word-of-mouth but I went in not expecting much as I did not know Han Groo before MND and wasn't a fan of the actor, YWJ, (having only seen him in Arang). Boy did that drama change my views about both leads! I'm glad I did tune it to it as it turned out being better than many of the other dramas I had been so excited about watching this year. :)

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Liar is the best currently aired kdrama this year.

Pinocchio may be better than it once it's finished.

YFAS was great but well overated and had too many plotholes.

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Phew. This was a long read. And not all 2014 dramas are even here. I now understand how painstaking it is to write year-end reviews.Thank you for your hard work, jb!

In retrospect, I realized that 2014 is chock-full of dramas and i only watched a handful of them. Liar Game is easily the best drama of the year for me, and im brimming with ridiculous love for the show that will last me until season 2 comes along.

I havent started Misaeng yet, rave reviews notwithstanding, as many have been saying its depressingly realistic, and i dont want to self-reflect just yet. (Leave me in my perfect little bubble!)

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It's funny how JJH was the star of the show (pun intended) in YFAS, even outshining (pun intended) KSH. I thought both were equally great.

It's funny how these things work.

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I totally agree yet KSH Is getting the majority of fame and accolades. I think JJH sensed it was happening and just decided to hang back. Maybe she thinks it's his turn after her big break, My Sassy Girl, I don't know. She hasn't been to many award shows, done many appearances, etc while KSH is everywhere.

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Shin Sung Rok: shivers - dorky laughter - shivers. and I feel insane. I dont know what is what any more. he sure made us all paranoid towards people keenly interested in our health and mental state

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Hahaha - and don't forget how we were all expecting him to turn psycho in Trot Lovers :D He's just too good (at being malicious).

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I feel like that was almost like an ultimate prank. Everyone was just waiting for him to go crazy evil or something and instead you just get him being dorky all the way through (or at least the bits that I saw/read before dropping it).

It's like because people was filling in tension, they could just leave it out :p

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He was such a goofy guy in Three Dads, One Mom.

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Cantabile really not THAT bad. Ive been reading about how negative it is, i give a try anyway, just bare a few episodes, or skip them n read recap, then continue on. You will love it. I just finish it.

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yep, it's too endearing...I cannot even believe that the show is a remake. enough said from me :)

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It's so sad, so many people gave up after the first couple of episodes, because it really came into its own later. So glad I stuck around. This will be perfect to rewatch over the holydays (minus last two thirds of final).

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Not bad? IMHO it was really fresh for this year. The first half of this year had so many so-so dramas (even though the situation improved in second half). I think Shim EunKyung's acting was good even while she was acting "like a child." It was meant to be comic and I appreciated it as it was. And Joowon's acting was great, too.

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Ohhh..... It's doing wel for mel, and I think Cantabile is the most rewatchable drama of this year.

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i mean, me... :D

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Aw. That time of the year already? This list makes me nostalgic. Kinda makes me want to watch YFAS and Monstar and a bunch of other shows again.

On Surplus Princess: I loved that zany show, even when it broke my heart near the end. My poor sunken ship! It was arguably Titanic-levels bad. I completely agree with the miscalibrated plotting. Because while I really liked Ha-myung aka HornDog's character, his romance with Ha-ni felt shoehorned it. The writing and pacing didn't show a believable romantic progression. How can I ship him with Mermaid when 4/5 of the series was spent on Mermaid wagging her tail at Apple Butt? And grabbing said Apple Butt, and french kissing said Apple Butt.....'s mouth! I totally meant Apple Butt's mouth! I swears. Ahem. (Get your mind out of the gutter!)

I was really hoping the writer would buck the trend and just have the SL get the girl because, story progression-wise, that made more sense. Alas, the Underdog Hero got the Mermaid and my ship sunk to the bottom of the ocean (where it reemerged on the other side, in a parallel universe, where Apple Butt blessedly gets the girl. And he and Mermaid lived happily ever after, made lots of delicious food, and spawned ridiculously good-looking children with enviable tushes).

On YFAS: Sigh. THIS was my 2014 drama crack. I squeed and laughed and cried and squeed some more. Do Min-joon got me to swoon and sigh and pooh-pooh at the constantly-in-denial, fuddy-duddy, grumpy Alien who is practically play-doh in Chun Song-yi's hands. Not that I blame him. Chun Song-yi is DAEBAK--she is charming, brash, hilariously egotistical, loveable, confident but vulnerable. She won my heart so completely and utterly and if I could, I'd grow up to be like her. To me, SHE is the star and the sun, upon which all of YFAS revolved around. I wish the Alien vanishing trick made more sense but at the end of the day, I'm just glad our couple got some sort of happy ending.

On Samchongsa: I heart Crown Prince and Crown Princess! I wish they'd given us more of them as a couple. LJW was deliciously smirky and playful, if annoyingly poker-faced at times. I mean, come on man! Throw your wife a bone, er, some affection. And Jung Yonghwa surprisingly did really well. He was ON and in character. I hope he continues to get better as an actor.

As for the other shows, I mostly agree with the reviews here.

I enjoyed "Joseon Gunman" but it was a couple hairs shy from being cracktastic good.

"Marriage Not Dating" was HILARIOUS in the beginning. Though I started losing interest near the end with the repetitive near-outings and Bitch Female Second Leads whose eyes I wanted to spork out, slowly and painfully. I only stayed for Han Groo who brought charm, sass and winsomeness to what is essentially an annoying character on paper. Another take away is the fantastic OST. In particular, that Mamamoo song is in frequent rotation on my iTunes.

"Sly and Single Again" was a bit of a...

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I totally forgot about that character limit! Now what the heck did I say?? Let's see if I remember. And I'll get to the point this time.

"SaSA" was a letdown. 1) Because Heroine was neither sly nor cunning as the title implied. She was typical hard-working candy. 2) It wasn't as funny as I was hoping. This show was saved by Jo Sang-wook who was dorky and funny and just perfect as the sometimes awkward CEO.

"Trot Lovers" was MEH. So much MEH and wasted potential.

"She's So Loveable" was another MEH. Also, HOW CAN KRYSTAL NOT HAVE CHEMISTRY WITH RAIN? The man is gorgeous! How hard is it to fake attraction to an attractive man?

And Krystal's non-acting. >_< It's too bad since I really liked what little I saw of Krystal in Heirs. But I supposed that's the keyword: little. SSL clearly shows the limits of Krystal's current acting ability. Makes me wish they hired another actress who can sing. Kim Ji-won perhaps? She's young, can act, can sing. She fits the bill. Sigh. And the writing and pacing isn't doing any of the actors any favors either.

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Sigh, I wish Kim Ji-won was in SSL too! Or any actress that knows abc of acting. In fact, Suzy would've been a much better choice because Krystal is just embarrassingly bad. I've never watched a drama where I'd rather there was no female lead and instead we got Rain and his dog chronicles. He just didn't fit the world at all. Like they were teleported by a huge mistake and are being intense and emotional with blocks of wood in the background. Lol, I have no idea why I'm still frustrated with this show!

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Suzy is equally embarrassingly wooden, and even worse when there isn't a skilled writer like Park Hae-ryun trying to cover for her lack of acting ability.

Krystal at least had a couple of decent comedic performances in her repertoire before, but she just couldn't perform here. I'd say neither she nor Suzy is fit for lead roles, but I wouldn't wish She's So Lovable on even the most skilful young actresses I can think of - and especially not Kim Ji-won, who was impressive in Heirs.

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Haven't seen She's So Loveable but Krystal is a new actress. She'll get better. However, that being the case, it's better to stick to smaller roles and develop her acting chops rather than take on big roles when she hasn't developed her acting muscles. She should stick to singing for now.

Now, Dara had more acting experience so if they're looking for singers who can act, she should've been a better choice. Dara was an actress in the Philippines before moving back to Korea where she became part of 2NE1. It would've been nice if Dara did more acting.

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Totally agreed on 3 Musketeers and Surplus Princess btw. I really enjoyed our smirky Crown Prince, even when he was driving his poor wife nuts, and I enjoyed her too. Sure, we all wanted them to kiss and get to the baby-making already, but I actually thought it was one of the most believably developed romantic relationships I'd seen this year, even within the framework of a forced/unwilling on both sides relationship.

They both had a lot to work through and they did it, and from that perspective Sohyeon's opaqueness (and Lee Jin-wook is the right actor to make sure it never comes off as woodenness, he is so good at subtlety) really works. same with Seo Hyun-jin and the Princess's utter openness (again, a tricky thing to make sure it doesn't tip over into plain annoyingness, SHJ did it right).

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I may be one of those few people who enjoyed Iron Man, but I'd like to note that my enjoyment had little to do with the wacky, almost absurd superhero-like powers of the male lead. For me, it was all about the emotion, which I felt was played well by each cast member (barring one or two minor characters). This had a very simple storyline in that the main lead and his first love had been separated by family and that comes back to haunt everyone, beginning with a little boy whose lost his mother and a man who's too self-absorbed and angry to be a father. I was surprised to find that the first-love-comes-back was handled well, in that I didn't immediately drop the show and my hanging in there was well-rewarded. I liked that the lead couple - despite a lot of tears and angst - keep turning certain drama tropes on its head. I liked that they both accepted taking care of a dying woman was the first priority. I even liked (actually really loved) that the father who realized his actions had caused a lot of pain admitted that and went out of his way to apologize for it, and all at the behest of the heroine who wouldn't back down.

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Iron Man was really funny until towards the end. Then, I was criticizing the way the writer wrote the story.

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The ending was strange. Almost ridiculous. I'm pretending it never happened.

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Hmmm of the dramas that are not mentioned, I watched with growing disappointment My Secret Hotel and with delight, My Spring Days. The latter was almost poetic while the former suffered from change of writer and missed becoming at least a fun rom-com if not a stellar mystery romance. Sigh, but it could have been. :(

Emergency Couple was fun after the angst, Discovery of Romance was good but the Jeong Yu Mi's character irritated me. High School King of Savvy did not truly engage me but Seo In Guk was great. Angel Eyes was a bit long and they really could have done without the noble idiocy but it was a pleasant watch and I do re-watch bits (the romance was nice). Pride and Prejudice is not bad but I've got catch up to do.

Of the shows mentioned above, I did truly enjoy without thinking too much about them, You from Another Star, Sly and Single, the trope-less part of Trot Lovers... Enjoyed to a lesser extent Marriage Not Dating and She's So Lovable/My Lovely Girl I could not complete... it is also totally forgettable.

But among all, I really, really feel that The Three Musketeers, Liar Game and Misaeng are the best this year. Definitely not a waste of time, thought-provoking, entertaining and worth re-watching.

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After God's Gift< i didn't watch any more melodramas except for Secret Affair and probably Angel Eyes, if I find time. with too many kdramas this year, I just watched the romantic comedies.
My Love from the Star started in 2013 and for me it belonged to that year, and it is on a level all its own, coz I personally believe that it was from start to finish Hallyu Goddess Jeon Ji Hyun's kdrama for the telly, the first and only for the 21st century.

I would give the No.1 spot for MISAENG.

No.2 for Modern Farmer (for the laughs and Ki joon)
tied in second place , it's King of High School Savvy (just coz of Mr. Awesome- Seo In Guk) and King's Face, of course.

No.3 Witch's Romance;Marriage not Dating; Plus Nine Boys, Tomorrow's Cantabile, Liar Game, Pride & Prejudice and Bad Guys.

No.4 this would be for the other Romantic Comedies
Mr. Back / Birth of a Beauty/ Greatest Marriage/
The Secret Hotel/ I Need Romance 3/ Cunning Sly & Single
Bride of the Century/ Trot Lovers/ Fated to Love You
Discovery of Romance/ Emergency Couple/Sweden Laundry/
Surplus Princess (it was kinda fun when it started and I really thought she would end up with Apple bum as the proper prince charming)/

Special thanks to TVN for airing most of the shows I enjoyed this year. and SBS for Modern Farmer.

Looking forward to 2015 but 2014 will be most memorable for me, I think the great kdramas were aired this year, My No.1,2 and 3.

Happy Holidays to everyone!
and again, Congratulations to Dramabeans for the much deserved Dari Award.

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I forgot, but I really enjoyed watching Roommates Season 1, too.

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So what did you think of Secret Love Affair? I'm on episode 8.

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You know, I knew I'd watched/finished few dramas this year, but it wasn't until reading this Year in Review, that I realized how few I'd finished. Out of this batch, I only finished Liar Game. There are many here that I started but, for one reason or another, I stopped. You From Another Star just wasn't my cup of tea so I stopped after only a few episodes. Modern Farmer was way to screw-ball for me, so I stopped after episode 1. Iron Man was hilarious, but I've stopped watching, and haven't gone back after, like, episode 4 or 5. There are others here that suffered the same fate, but I won't go into more detail.

My reasons for not finishing most dramas vary, but let me just say this: 2014 has been a terrible personal year for me, especially in the summer. That, and the half-year prior to July, has been the major factor in my lack of drama-watching. I just haven't felt like it, and well, no drama was quite been able to hold my attention the way Liar Game did. And, actually, the lack of romance, in retrospect, was refreshing. I wouldn't have minded a love-line, but I didn't really crave it. I hope there is a second season, but I won't hold my breath.

Thanks for the mini-reviews, Javabeans! I look forward to more Year in Reviews!

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i really liked FATED TO LOVE YOU, MARRIAGE NOT DATING, WITCH'S ROMANCE, CANTABILE and MISAENG..

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I loved 2 dramas from your favorite list: Cantabile Tomorrow and Misaeng.

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I liked Fated to Love you too :D

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Fated to Love You = Jang Nara and Dramabean has no time for her thus the rather large hole in her review of the years dramas in skipping Fated.

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calm yo'self...did you miss part where the title says PART 1 in review....jesus.

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OMG is it time for Year in Review already? Thx a lot for writing this JB!

Aww..this post had me in the posters of Miss Korea and Wonderful Season, Love them! Even with their flaws, the two dramas above are the 2014's highlight for me..ah, so nostalgic..Time DOES fly!

My verdict, as Part 1:
Still couldn't drag myself to watch MND, dunno, it just didn't give me the urge..and..not sorry for not having the urge, hehe..*proof of the-dunno-why.
Really happy about Misaeng..it turned up to be a show that i've been wishing for it to be like. (almost) all of us can relate their slice-of-life with ge rae, so for me, no need to dig out more reason why it is so popular :)
Last but not least, looking fwd to watching Liar Game, *part of the reason is that I wanna be in the same ship with JB & GF who are smitten by the rugged LSY in here, too tempting for not jumping to the ship, haha..

Hv a wonderful time of the year, everyone!

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"I never thought I’d say: It made math interesting." Hey. As a math major, this comment offended me. lol just kidding.

For me, this wasn't a great year for k-drama. There were so many of this year's dramas that I started, but I only finished one drama, Liar Game. It'll be two after I finish Misaeng.

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There has never been a year when I dropped so many kdramas in the middle or with 4 episodes to go, because they just didn't seem worth it. And Korean viewers seem to agree too, with no weekday drama breaking even 15 percent average viewings after the end of YFAS/Empress Ki (or reaching 14 percent early on and then having a rapid downward fall, like Mr Baek and Dr Stranger).

In this climate, Misaeng doing this well is truly phenomenal because it means the viewers will tune in as long as the drama is decent (same with What's With This Family/Mama)

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I agree...my droppage rate was incredibly high this year...i found myself going back to older dramas I had missed or skipped since this year was such a fail...

Currently watching Flower Boy Ramyun Shop LOL its oddly interesting.

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Im still thiking the best drama this year is it's Ok That's Love

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My top dramas are always those that keep me from looking at the clock during work-out time. By that eccentric measure my top dramas were:

Misaeng
It's Ok It's Love
Bad Guys
Liar Game
Miss Korea

Healer bodes well for future work-outs, and currently Pinocchio is working for me. Marriage Not Dating would have made my list but for the dismal story lines for the second leads.

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I don't workout during kdramas but I have the same weird quality measure. I have the habit of checking the display clock and when I don't do it I know I'm really invested in the episode. :)

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Yay, I just wanted to let you know that this is my favorite part of dramabeans! All the year-end reviews, so I really really appreciate that you are willing to go through the grueling process of writing them for us! Thank you so much!

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It was a patchy year this year I found a lot of dramas started off wonderfully only to become absolute messes towards the end and there were a lot that I dropped.
Dropped list:
Miss Korea- didn't care for the main couple
Trot Lovers- too many tropes
Marriage Not Dating- I felt that maybe it went on too long
She's So Lovable- I mean why did Rain do this?
Iron Man/Blade Man-I actually really loved this but I heard it got cut so the finale wasn't good so I just didn't want to waste my time.
My Spring Days-I was waiting for it to finish to marathon it but the ending was something I didn't want to subject myself to.
Cantabile Tomorrow- I will probably pick this up at a later date but the first few eps didn't hook me.
It's Ok It's Love- I was just NOT ok with the psychiatrist asking an author for advice about her patients, tbh talking about her patients outside of the medical field just rubbed me the wrong way, too much seemed too much of a stretch.
Ones I actually bothered to finish:
Sly and Single Again- I watched this before emergency couple (which I did not finish) and just loved it, I felt that their reason for parting and relationship was really good and more realistic I connected completely with the female character.
YFAS- this was such a surprise for me I didn't think I would like it at all but I did and although the ending was a bit weird I did enjoy it maybe not as much as others but I can see why it's such a huge hit.
Fated to love you (remake)- loveeedddd the leads loved the beginning, hugely disappointed in the tropes.
Surplus Princess- Had it not ended they way it did and had its episodes cut, had it maybe moved the lead couple at a slightly faster or more well balanced pace it would have been my drama of the year, it was so fresh and quirky its probably the drama I miss the most.
Liar Game- Really fantastic, in a way I wish I hadn't seen the Japanese version because the k version is great although not as good as the j version but even so the k version I think was a very successful remake.
Secret Hotel- This drama just failed in every aspect and the ending was so rushed but some how I finished it probably because they dragged it out till the end.
Drama's I'm currently watching:
The Legendary Witch- I really love this drama, sure it's full of clichés and kind of ridiculous with patchy acting in areas, but I love the relationships between the women and the sandwiches look great!
Birth of Beauty: I loveeee revenge dramas so when it went fully into it I really got on board and the romance is cute, I love the two leads and the bad guys are quite interesting too.
Healer- really loved the first two eps can't wait to see where it goes my one problem is the lead females hair, it's just absolutely awful on her.
I intend to start Misaeng as everyone is talking about it

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Not a very good year for K-Drama.

Beside You who came from the star who actually get to create a hype I find this year K-Drama is abit dull.

Cable is upping their game by producing really good stuff which I'm impressed. But still am dissapointed with the BIG 3, no substantial plot that is captivating.

Disappointment: It's Okay It's Love (I don't think love means everything), Cantabile Tomorrow, Endless Love

Something that surprise me: Liar Game, Birth of a Beauty

Underrated: Pride and Prejudice (Definitely worth to watch)

Watched:
Wonderful Season (Writer can reduce it to 25 episode)
Golden Cross (front part is boring but I find the ending quite good) Emergency Couple (don't really enjoy the premise - those doctor seems dangerous and scary)
Fated to love you (nothing really special except Jang Hyuk and Jang Na Ra)
Hotel King (can't someone just tell that lady that guy is her son - you have 10 episode to do that - and anybody realise the meeting room scene looks like it film from a non hd camera)
Angel Eyes (can't we just watch only the junior part)
Temptation (OH GODD!!! MAKJANG)
God Gift (You're ending makes me want to revenge on you)
My Secret Hotel (1 episode is enough to make me to DELETE you)
You are all surrounded (Wasted cast)
Trot Lover ( Poor girl to stardom, plus makjang )
Secret Love Affair (Categorise as Artistic Film, you really need to digest their dialogue)
Pinocchio (Lee Jong Suk is really good)
Gap Dong (story line too dull)
A New Leaf (I kinda get lost half way)
Mr Back (the male lead looks too old)
Plus Nine Boy (is good at first but then it starts to circle around)
Flower Grandpa Investigation (Something new but yet it turn out to be a comedy and end with one too)
Healer (So far the story is quite good but don't know what to expect yet)

I know I watch too much yet not the mainstream one. Would like to share my opinion and hope that someone out there would recommend me something nice =)

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Thank you for mentioning Pride and Prejudice! I don't normally watched shows where NO ONE is recapping and it makes me feel so alone. XD

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There are a couple other kdrama sites recapping it. Couch Kimchi, Koala's Playground and Odessa Jones's Kdrama Today are recapping it. Odessa even made this kick butt chart for everyone to follow lol I highly suggest checking out the soompi forum thread for Pride and Prejudice. They've got a good healthy discussion going on and everyone's throwing theories back and forth and helping sort out all the mystery behind the head honchos.

and yes, sadly, it's underrated, but I'm glad it has an audience in Korea and is still currently leading the ratings despite Healer and Punch.

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Watching Pride and Prejudice, too. Is it okay to mention spoilers? What episode are you on? It's probably Choi Jin Hyuk's last drama before he gets drafted.

What do you think of Goo Dong Chi's boss?

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@ Mari
I'm watching Pride and Prejudice (still have to catch up with the last few episodes though) and I've been having a hard time with Dong Chi's boss. He is written to be too inscrutable. Seems to say so much and so loudly but I've been wondering what he is really on about. There's a hidden agenda in all that noise!

Don't know if he is saying what he means or if what he means can only be said in some roundabout figure-of-speech. It's driving me batty trying to figure whether to trust him or not.

In fact it is his character and its portrayal (which irritated me) that made me pause watching the show, but I want to get back into knowing the mystery of Moo Yeol's brother, mystery of neighbourhood ahjusshi and boss and what's going to happen to little Chan. :)

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Oops, I mean 'Yeol Moo' ;)

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Cant stop laughing about, temptation Makjang. Worst kdrama of 2014!

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I would classify Secret Love Affair as an “artistic film" too... I wrote in another post that I felt like I was watching a long movie, not a drama. And I'm planning to read recaps (if there are any), too, cos the (intriguing) dialogue--which was the hook for me, along with our adulterer's voice--definitely needs slow-chewing over.

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It's funny how most of the dramas DB was so hyping about, ended up being real disappointments to you. (And to most of us.)

At some point I just stopped watching alongside you and waited for your final assessment, which - in most cases - was in strong contrast to the day-to-day-recaps.

I mostly agree with the reviews you gave today, JB. And I thank you and your fellow DB recappers once again for providing us with a space to discuss all the happy and sad feelings dramas make us feel.

My faves this year (aka the ones I will probably be watching again): Miss Korea, Empress Ki, Fated to Love You, YWCFTS, It's Okay It's Love, Liar Game, Misaeng, Pinocchio and (yes) You're All Surrounded

And, obviously, thanks to you I will now be staying away from Secret Door, God's Gift and Gap-dong.
(The other stinkers I've already watched. Unfortunately.)

And I will give 3 Musketeers and Birth of a Beauty a try.
I trust you not to disappoint me. :)

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Yes, I remember that while airing JB & GF were raving about the main leads of Secret Door and Cantible Tomorrow... so they made my to-watch list. But now, with the year-end reviews quite different from those earlier posts, I think I just might skip those two.

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Marriage Not Dating and Birth of a Beauty are my top picks for this year (even though the latter hasn't finished it's run yet).

I just have to gush about BoaB because it's so criminally underrated. Yeah sure the premise at first glance might sound like a turnoff to some, insecure girl gets plastic surgery to try and win her husband back. But it's so much more than that. It's excellently and rapidly faced, cracktastic and just plain fun to watch.

The two main leads are the heart of the show and compliment each other so well, you'd think they were parts of one greater whole. Han Ye Seul is great here as a plucky and sassy heroine who isn't afraid to tell it to you straight. Doesn't hurt that she's also an Olympic and black belt judo master who isn't afraid to kick your ass if you get on her bad side.

And Mister "Genius" himself, Joo Sang Wook, is great here as well as a genius "doctor" with a "heart disease" who helps the heroine face her past while feigning ignorance to his.

Shoutout to Ha Jae Sook as well for her minuscule but phenomenal role as pre-plastic surgery Sara. I love the rapport between the two females. The writer wants you to believe that these two females are the same person, and HYS and HJS are both so believable you'd think they were.

It's also great to see a show where the character comes first and not the person behind it. (For context, there are some scenes where the original Sara (HJS) appears with the main male lead and I just love that).

I can go on and on about this drama but I think I'll just let you guys decide for yourself whether to pick it up or not. Like javabeans mentioned, I hope this drama remains strong throughout the end of it's run and if not at least I'll always have the first half to cherish.

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Charm -- that's what it is -- Birth of a Beauty is just loaded with charm -- the cast is great and I appreciate the care that the writer has taken to show that beauty is more than skin-deep.

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Thanks for these reviews! In a year with such low ratings across the board (You From Another Star excepted), I'm actually surprised when I look back and realize how many good dramas also came out this year.

My picks for best dramas of 2014 actually premiered late in the year though. Crossing my fingers that Modern Farmer and Birth of a Beauty end on a high note! And that the latter gives us moreeee Joo Sang-Wook squeeworthy moments. <3

I now *need* to go back and watch Iron Man (as if I needed an excuse to watch Lee Dong-Wook in anything); it actually sounds right up my alley in addition to being something that might have worked for American television, so it's a pity it had such abysmal ratings in Korea.

I actually didn't understand the hugely negative response towards She's So Lovable. It was totally mediocre and only got more and more mired in cliche as the drama went along, but I didn't think any of the acting or overall writing (dialogue's another story since I'm not a Korean native speaker and generally rely on subs anyway) was that bad. Rain was pretty good (although personally I think that was mostly by comparison), Krystal and L were green but winsome and cute together. I think it wasn't so much the acting/lack of chemistry as it was that the entire premise was just wrong from the start... it would've taken a damn amazing pair of actors for me to buy the dead sister's boyfriend loveline, when the relationship between Krystal and L was actually age-appropriate, grounded in reality, and made sense.

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MSH was such a huge disappointment given I how taken I was by JYH and YIN's amazing chemistry right from the word go. When they gazed at each other in the drama's first scene, so much longing, pain and love, I though it was going to be a great show. It's so unfortunate because after the first few episodes all it went was down.

YFAS is love love love. It's a drama worth it's hype and then some. It's got so much feels and it's so romantic without losing its charm. The world the writer created was just so believable and it's probably why it got so much love. And of course JJH and her chemistry with KSH. She's such a star.

MND is my favourite apart from YFAS. Such a feel good drama and I'd be forever thankful to it for introducing me to Han Groo who's so amazing, she needs a lead role on network, pronto!

SSL - let's just say I'm not regretting going through this because of a certain someone. I'd rather watch Rain talking to himself and romancing himself/Dalbong than see Krystal and L piss the daylight a out of me. If Rain picks up such a huge stinker next time, I may just have to evaluate priorities. Or, I'll most likely go through crap again cursing all the way through. I thought I was over watching a shitty drama for an actor I love, guess not then.

IOIL - This managed to do what I thought was impossible. It made me like JIS... I hated it initially but still went through and it got so much better. I just think GHJ can have chemistry with even invisible air. She's so fabulous!

Trot Lovers - I must be the only one but I loved the amnesia track much better than the first half. I'm not even sure why, but it felt the emotions and hoped it lasted longer. I think it was the only time I cried in the drama and I'm an easy crier. Eun-ji needs to pick a better drama because she has all the potential to make it huge as an actress. She beat out everyone in that drama easily and has the born talent in acting. I hope she's back soon.

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I agree with most of your picks. For me, the awesomeness of a drama is directly proportional to the amount of feels it induces in me. So for that reason,
1. You Who Came From The Stars. The last time I cried this much while watching a drama was Can You Hear My Heart. I'm not a fan of JJH, I'm probably one of the few people who hated My Sassy Girl, but I saw her and KSH in The Thieves and I was wowed by their chemistry. I was super excited when they both signed to do this drama. But as much as I loved Do Manager, Chun Song-yi was the star of the drama. So much win! I really did like the ending more than most.
2. Angel Eyes. I saw the adult portion before the childhood portion and this is another drama that induced so much feels in me. Especially when her father died because I just lost my father too. I was so taken by the chemistry of Lee Sang-yoon and Gu Hye-sun, I had to pause and take a breath every time he said 'Yoon Soo-wan'. Again, I loved the finale more than most.
3. Marriage, Not Dating. God I loved this show, so very much. I would be willing to put up with any plot point as long as the OTP have enough chemistry, and Yeon Woo-jin and Han Groo had chemistry in spades. The show managed to keep its sense of humour too and I loved it till the very end.
4. High School King of Savvy. The only reason I loved this drama was Lee Soo-hyuk, who I discovered for the first time. Everyone else was awesome too, like gramps and the co-workers and even the OTP, but Lee Soo-hyuk was love.

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Totally agree regarding YFAS's ending! I'm actually still so shocked about some of the negative reaction It got. I thought it had the most perfect ending fitting for such a feel good story. How else should it have been written?? Anything more 'definitive' would've killed the charm of the drama. It left teaching us that it means to cherish every moment of life because we don't ever know what'll happen next. Song-yi and Min-joon did end up together and Song-yi said he can stay longer than he previously did and he already stayed a year and a half. They got a house together like they imagined and most likely seven girls (or a boy in the middle!) as well in the future. How is this anywhere short of perfection? If I get one half as awesome as YFAS every year, I'd thank the dramagods over and over again!

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What about Fated To Love? Or Discovery Of Love?

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I'm surprised that Discovery of Romance is not here too. From the podcast I know that they both loved it.

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Watched

Can We Love – Brilliant beginning, weak ending. *sob* Such a missed opportunity. A couple of eps less would have been much better. And, honey, you don’t stay with a husband who chocked you during a fight. No marriage vows in the world justify that.

A Warm Word – In the beginning good dealing with the difficult topic infidelity, but it frizzled out towards the end. With time the cold, discussing couple really got on my nerves.

Miss Korea – A really nice show which I liked but didn’t love except for my favorite second couple ever. What is not to love about ‘A woman only needs to know how to cook. Nothing else is needed. ‘ ‘You can live with a rice cooker then. (…) You can sleep with, hug, kiss, have sex, have little babies and live happily ever after with a rice cooker.’ Scruffy gangster and brainy scientist became the surprise couple of the show and I’ll ship them forever and ever.

You From Another Star – Loved it and really liked the ending. Has the cutest marriage proposal possible.

I Need Romance 3 –To me it was a car accident I couldn’t stop watching.

Let’s Eat – Such a tasty treat. Yummy. Lee Do-Yeon is comedy gold. Loved her.

Beyond the Clouds / Full Sun – totally underrated. This is how a melo should be done. It took me two eps to really get into it, but after that some great acting waited for me, although Yoon Kye Sang basically re-enacts his part from Crazy For You.

Bride of the Century – Cute and fluffy. The perfect marathon for a rainy weekend, although the last two eps could have been done better.

Secret Love Affair – This drama is a masterpiece in its own league, it was by far the best show of 2014, for sure the best (K)drama I ever watched. Absolutely everything pales in comparison to this show and it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever see anything like it again. Acting, directing, writing, cinematography, and music created a captivating spell. I totally get it’s not for everyone, but a mature audience, who likes an intelligent, very well told story with realistic, grey characters that demands a brain from the viewer and who is patient enough to appreciate a well-build story that demands its time is the target group. I got sucked into its world falling hard for it during ep 1. I fell in love with it, felt like having my own affair with it and after its end I grieved for it as if I had to let go a loved-one. This show doesn’t glorify extra marital affairs, as so many feared, but it tells us a realistic story about things that can happen in life and all the pain that comes with it. It’s a story about an illicit love and redemption. Even if you set up everything according to things you wanted in your twenties, it is possible that later in life something happens that blows you out of the water. Lots and lots of online discussions happened for a good reason. The writing is so exquisite, it is almost impossible to find all hints and fully grasp all layers of meaning in almost every scene on your own...

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...Recaps, tumblr and some Soompi are a must following SLA. Never before did I have a visceral, physical reaction like this watching a show or a movie. Especially towards the last episodes it felt as if someone ripped my chest open and squeezed my heart hard. After its end I felt gutted and couldn’t believe what I just had witnessed. It was a difficult, painful and long time, but Hye Won, Seon Jae and their cathartic journey will stay with me forever.

A Witch’s Romance – What a contrast. I was totally underwhelmed, didn’t feel the couple at all. Schematic, boring storytelling without a single surprise and way too much plastic surgery for the female lead.
Emergency Couple –A waste of time, which I only endured with lots of ff-ing for the hotness of Choi Jin Hyuk.

King of High School – Entertaining little gem with some bumps on the road towards the end due to the extension, but over all a nice show with a lovable last episode, if you believe in fairytales.

Marriage Not Dating – Although I liked a lot in this show eventually it just wasn’t for me.

Fated To Love You – Charming, but not flawless.

It’s OK, It’s Love – A total surprise to me how much I enjoyed watching this show as I had no expectations at all due to TWTWB. One of my favorites this year.

Misaeng – Second best show of the year after SLA. Mr. Oh and his team, the newbies and all those folks at One International were palpable and loveable characters. So, so good.

Pride & Prejudice – See Emergency Couple.

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Not finished

Empress Ki – I loved this show so much. It was my crack. I even started watching it unsubbed. Like so many others I shipped Puppy Emperor and Ki. Jo Jin Mo, whom I love, had to portray an utterly boring character and Ji Chong Wook outacted all his sunbaes. But then around ep 39 Secret Love Affair came along and I couldn’t watch anything else. And apparently everything went downhill with Empress Ki after 39, so I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it. Maybe some rainy weekend I’ll pick it up again, but I have a feeling it won’t happen.

Prime Minister and I - meh

King’s Daughter Su Baek-hyun – started it to bridge the waiting for Empress Ki’s eps, but lost interest though I really like JJH. The butchered face of SW was just too much for me. I must confess I covered the screen with my hands every time she appeared and eventually I stopped watching. :/

God’s Gift – Oh, boy. Predictable, forced story-telling, weird twists and behavior all around. After a couple of eps I already had to work my way through, I started ff-ing all parts without Jo Seung Woo and stopped after ep 9. I love JSW dearly and didn’t want to miss the chance to see him on screen, but the show was so crappy I couldn’t finish. The end was supposedly an epic fail, so I’m glad I saved some lifetime. Hopefully Jo Seung Woo returns with a better project soon.

Angle Eyes – Loved, loved, loved the first eps with Kang Ha Neul, but after them a downslide began, the plot was predictable and everything became far too cheesy for my taste.

Three Days – I started it, as I lub Park Yoochun, but then SLA came along and this show joined some others in oblivion.

Joseon Gunman – Love me some Lee Joon Gi, but this show was just not my cup of tea, though I tried hard.

Temptation – No words.

Pinocchio – Stopped after 26 minutes. A Slumdog Millionaire rip off combined with the absurd firefighter story and the manipulating journalists exploiting children. No. Just no.

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lol 26 minutes into the show and you're already calling it a rip-off. you barely even watched but ok......

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The idea of the first episode was clearly 'inspired', but what killed it for me was the story they chose as the foundation for their plot. The writer lost me with the ridiculously constructed onset and I lost faith that s/he could create something believable or good after such a bad start.
I really tried to finally like a show with Lee Jong Suk, but I fear, his projects are just not for me.

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Newbie, to call you an accident would be offensive to accidents.

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ShittyHunter - feel better now, honey? Glad I could be of some help.

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I'll agree that the first episode of Pinocchio was too makjang and unbelievable, but it gets better from there and the social comments it makes, plus the wonderful irony played out between the characters makes it worth the watch.

May I suggest you just skip to episode 3 onwards?

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Completely agreed about SLA. I'm still in awe at all the fantastic performances and the excellent story overall. Hopefully in the future there'll be more success for these kinds of dramas so we're not stuck with the same old recycled low-brow fare we so often get. Cable networks are always better when they invest in more creative, experimental productions

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Oh yes, Secret Love Affair was a pure masterpiece. I understand why some people don't want to watch because of the affair part, but it is hands down one of the best dramas I've ever watched.

It sounds like JB liked about 3 dramas this whole year? Miaseng, YFAS, and Birth of a Beauty...

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I'm being repetitive here, with this being my 3rd post about Secret Love Affair, but I so agree with all you've written about it. Maybe I haven't paid attention to note the "lots and lots of online discussions" over it, but I feel so much for the main lead and her thwarted expectations over the direction her life has taken. She's so zipped up in her poised perfection, down to the way she zips up her skirts...yet deep down she's raging away, just brimming over with passion long-held under wraps.

It's most definitely a drama that should be savored slowly.

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The online discussion went on over at Soompi's, also you might want to check out OutsideSeoul http://outside-seoul.tumblr.com/post/85744588099/episodes-outside-seoul-secret-love-affair-master as well as Miss Koala http://koalasplayground.com/tag/secret-love-affair/page/3/ and the special blog created after its end http://pianoconversations.wordpress.com/

Enjoy.

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I've bookmarked all these sites! Thanks again!

And, btw, what you wrote above, about Three Days was pretty cute. While I read a lot of books simultaneously, a bit at a time, usually with dramas, I'm a committed one-drama-at-a-time viewer. But I'm pretty sure, had I been watching more than one drama when SLA came along, that I would've ended up kissing all those other dramas goodbye, too.

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Modern Farmer is the real winner here for me and I am not the toilet humor type! It has been smart, funny, fun, and sweet...all the things that Marriage Not Dating started out with but lost along the way. With only two weeks (one more really, since it's currently airing) left to go, I know Mondern Farmer won't disappoint like the other I'd wish to forget!

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I also enjoy Modern Farmer. I also enjoyed Surplus Princess but not the ending. Both dramas are not about the couples but about people and friends surrounding the main leads and how they interact each other and grow themselves. I prefer this sort of setting in drama. That is why I also like Gomenne Seishun( J drama).

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The most salient point about this year's shows is that the ratings have been in an unprecedented downward spiral. In fact, KBS' shows have been doing so horrible that you have to wonder if they can continue keeping their drama department alive if something doesn't happen. tvN already appears to be in the process of recalibrating their line-up due to this year's poor performance.

SBS and MBC have just about survived the year, but only because of YFAS and Empress Ki, which both began airing in 2013 but did run for 3-4 months this year. These two shows were 2014's only true, major breakaway hits. The rest were almost unable to hold the interest of local viewers.

If the Big Three are unable to turn this trend around will Korean drama producers end up as sub-contractors for the Chinese marked?

Hopefully, 2015 will be much better. Although, from what we have heard of new dramas with split-personality heroes and vampires galore, I am not holding my breath.

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Maybe something is wrong with the network programming as a whole. Worldwide the complain of artists is that the television and cinema programming is done by managers previously employed in the car industry or high-tech businesses or some other enterprise completely unrelated to cinema and television. In God's Gift for example, the PD released a director's cut version of the last minutes of the last episode of his drama. Who decided that a drama lasting three minutes more than agreed is blasting the channel's schedule and who did the final editing? As far as the asian markets targeting, that would make sense if the dramas were shut and done BEFORE being broadcasted. There is a contradicting policy of maximum profit from advertisement, while targeting the 16-34 age profile, while aiming for the exportation of your product and the result sometimes, not just in korean dramas, is incoherent.

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The surprise is that weekend dramas have held strong all year - Wang Family with ratings close to 50 percent by the end, followed by Jang Bori and What's With This Family - all hit mid-30s on ratings for MBC/KBS, not to mention dramas like Mama or Rosy Lovers. So clearly, people are tuning in still - it's just that the content of Mon-Fri dramas fails to enthuse tv viewers, and they are making it known through these low ratings.

I really hope the big 3 take a cue from their failures and listen, instead of desperately throwing one idol or top star after another into hackneyed plots and messy scripts ridden with cliches. Crowing about overseas rights money is just a transparently obvious ploy to cover for the abject failure of a drama.

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You are right about weekend dramas but all of the shows you mentioned target a different age profile, mid 40s to infinite, thus the "family drama" title.

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But this, I think, to some degree underscore the networks' problem. Younger viewers are tuning out, so the majority of viewers left skews old. If Korean advertising in any way works like Western advertising - i.e., that ad companies only pay top dollar for younger segments - this means that hits based on a base of older viewers have little to no commercial value.

We have to remember that, while we, the fans, are interested in the quality of shows, tv stations only care about the money they bring in. Without high ratings, there is no money. And without money, at some point the whole production side will suffer.

There's a real danger that, with domestic income falling, k-dramas will increasingly be produced for the Chinese marked. Which of course will mean that the content of k-dramas will increasingly be dictated by the Chinese companies who hold the purse string.

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I don't know the korean market, but I'm sure it follows the same capitalistic principles as the rest of the world. Since the idea of producing dramas for the sole purpose of exporting them is unprecedented, we'll see where this novel concept will lead. The Koreans made it with high-tech, let's see if they rise to the challenge with television. But that means a total make-over of dramas in every aspect.

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I am sure the dramas paid for by Chinese investors will still be shown on Korean networks as well. But I am also sure that shows financed by Chinese investors will, to a large degree, be controlled creatively by these investors. I fear this is a bad idea. Not only because China is still a one-state authoritarian regime with a lot of censorship. But also because Chinese tv shows are, as a rule, inferior to Korean shows.

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2014 has been slim pickings for k-drama. Fortunately many were baaad from almost the get go so I dropped them early enough without feeling frustrated I wasted time over them.

But like javabeans, I "God's Gift" had me good until it was too late. Gets my bile going when I throw up my hands and give up right before the penultimate episode.

Anyone watching "Pride and Prejudice" that's currently airing? It's engaging.

"Legendary Witch" has been fun so far - it is nice to watch a staple weekend drama (kinda like comfort food) that hasn't gone off the rails with overdose of makjang just yet!

Yup, agree with javabeans that the writers shouldn't have held back with the "Three Musketeers". It was the most enjoyable adaptation and sageuk this year.

I just can't pass up saying I haven't been as appalled by terrible acting and writing as "She's So Lovable". Give us a break, k-drama watchers have standards. That should never have made it to the screen.

Thanks javabeans for the yearly roundup! I think it must be cathartic in some ways to vent on the dramas that disappointed or those you felt betrayed by the writer(s), and to laud those that made your day.

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Pride and Prejudice is definitely engaging. I like how the story only lets us know as much as the leads know and even if we get ahead (which we did with the car accident) they catch up soon. I hope we'll have everything figured out this coming week. :)

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Yes, Pride and Prejudice has been an underrated slice of engaging and Choi Jin Hyuk has been knocking it out of the park with his acting. My favorite scenes have been any scene involving him acting across Choi Min Soo. It's just so much fun to watch them do their thing.

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P.S. Joo Sang Wook should win an award for best actor in romantic comedies. He sure did brighten up the year with his dorky expressions, spot on comic timing.

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I totally agree with you : ). He's acting is phenomenal.

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Thanks for this .. fianlly there's someone who said about it. He's just more than awesome on two romcoms this year T__T

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Just spent the whole morning reading the reviews and comments. It was time well spent, I'm so refreshed, thanks dramabeans community! Now, what shall I watch in kdramaland for the rest of the day , so many choices, love it!

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Thanks so much for all the hard work you put into this review~ I hope you're feeling relieved and fulfilled now that it's done.

But how do I (we) even begin to thank you for all the blood, sweat and tears (as well as time, energy, money, talent, and love) you pour into this site? I shudder to think what life in K-dramaland would be like without you, gf, the wonderful minions, and this awesome community that you've catalyzed~ we are incredibly fortunate to be the recipients of your gifts and generosity.

I'm very grateful you and gf were willing to go through all the growing pains involved in recruiting and training the new minions this year so that db could expand. Profound thanks to all the minions who showed up, including those who weren't around for long but who made valuable contributions while they were. I'm also appreciative of the new site features such as the inclusion of Kolorful Palette's posts, awcoconuts' news bites, the informative guest post by The Korean, and your sharing a bit more with us in the Odds and Ends posts.

In addition to the immense gratitude I feel, I still have the same concerns about db that I have every year, which mostly revolve around being worried that you guys are gonna burn yourselves out. I noticed with dismay that even though you added the extra minions, your workload never seemed to decrease. That's not just because of minion boot-camp and the extra work of vetting all their posts~ it's also because you actually increased the average number of posts per day! (More recaps but fewer news posts would've been a smart move at that point.) Seriously, y'all need an intervention for your workaholism.

My wish for you for 2015 is that you take better care of yourselves, learn that less is often more in the long run (sustainability: good for the planet, good for dramabeans), manage to finally take a non-working vacation, and enjoy the heck out of what you do (at least for the most part).

Thank you for adding so much enrichment to my 2014~ here's to a daebak 2015!

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Aw, such a sweet comment, like it! :)
Ditto with all the good wishes for JB, GF, and the minions! Take a good care, everyone! And thanks soo much!!

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@ grateful1

My sentiments practically exactly... yes dramabeans and girlfriday, overwork is the real health killer in our world,

*** SPOILER ***

just look at Manager Sun in Misaeng!

***END SPOILER***
So do take care of yourselves for the long term. :)

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Great post! Sweet and full of the sentiments I wish to express. : )

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what about fated to love you and i thought surplus princress was hilarious......

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Curious if the girls seen High School King of Savvy

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