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2015 Editors’ Picks [Year in Review, Part 11]

We’re finally here, at the end of another Year in Review series! We warned you it’d be long this time, but hopefully you all made it through with us. We promise this is the last one! (At least till next year. Which is, eek, almost this year.)

As ever, the process of selecting our picks of the year was fraught with indecision, angst over leaving things out, bitter tears and angry rants amongst our staff as we argued for our choices. Just kidding! The arguments were civil, though I won’t vouch for everyone being 100% in line with the final list—in fact, I can pretty much guarantee that nobody got everything they would have chosen on their own. But we did manage to find a consensus, and present to you our 2015 Editors’ Picks.

Thanks again to our dedicated, loyal staff of writer minions—HeadsNo2, gummimochi, LollyPip, dramallama, odilettante, Saya, and awcoconuts—we’re grateful for your constant efforts in helping spread the drama love, and to have your contributions to our year-end wrap-up. Here’s to another year of drama-filled goodness!

 

2015 Editors’ Picks

 

BEST DRAMA

Answer Me 1988

girlfriday: This was a particularly difficult year for the Best Drama category, because in all honesty, there was no single standout that made the choice easy, and our votes were split between the nominees. It was a year filled with good shows, but none that unequivocally fit the bill as the best of the best. That made Editors’ Picks harder on us, but really, what can you do but play with the hand that dramaland has dealt you?

Answer Me 1988 still has two more weeks left of its run, but as it turns out, who the husband is won’t change the quality of the show, which was one of the better things about it. The third installment of the nostalgic franchise that began as an ode to youth highlighted what this writer-director team does best: turn simple acts of love into moving drama, and craft a world that feels true to life in its smallness. The strength of this ensemble series was in showing that friendship and familial love could have as much nuance and pathos as any love story, and that you didn’t need villains to drive a conflict or make you watch with your heart in your throat. Real life was drama enough, and the emotions that came from everyday people facing realistic concerns like putting food on the table were immediately accessible, no matter where you lived or how old you may have been in 1988. On the surface, this drama was about little more than families living on one street, but what resulted in their stories was a stirring reminder that nothing is more extraordinary than a parent’s love, true friends can be counted on to accept you as you are, and good-hearted people still exist in the world. Or, at least they did in the ‘80s.

Honorable Mentions
Healer
Punch

 

BEST DIRECTING

Awl

javabeans: Awl came with some hefty expectations, and it would have been so easy to crumble under the weight of them: There was the webtoon with the fervent fanbase, the socially conscious plot based on a true story, the media clamoring for the next Misaeng and ready to crown Awl with that title even before it began. But its director, Kim Seok-yoon, took command of the drama with a strong vision and deft hand, steering Awl to find its place in the drama landscape—not as a Misaeng copycat, but as a drama of its own color (a little stark) and sensibility (sometimes bleak, often hopeful, and frequently laugh-out-loud funny), driven by a righteous underdog fight and an uplifting team spirit. The direction found inventive ways to incorporate Awl’s webtoon origins with spot-on castings, quirky cutaways, and well-placed flashbacks that quickened the storytelling pace and allowed us into the heads of our characters. Most importantly, the smartly edited narrative (paired with excellent acting and sharp characterizations) drew out an emotional core that made union-labor clashes not only suspenseful and fraught but downright moving. The plot itself could sometimes peel paint with its dryness, but somehow the clever directing even made history-of-labor lectures engrossing. The writing might have meandered away from the central story at points and took its time wandering back, but it was the direction that held everything together under its unified vision, delivering humor, brains, and heart.

Honorable Mentions
Bubblegum
Last

 

BEST WRITING

Answer Me 1988

awcoconuts: Coming off her prior successes, writer Lee Woo-jung was facing immense pressure. As a fan of both 1997 and 1994, I was ambivalent about the third iteration; certain it would be watchable, even enjoyable, I never dreamed that it would outshine its predecessors.

Color me surprised that Answer Me 1988 has all of the heart and nostalgia of the previous shows, and then some. With every highlighted year, the writer has used her talents (and the extended format) to flesh out the supporting characters, and the radius of people to care about and root for has expanded outwards. The who’s-the-husband game takes a backseat in 1988, and it’s the friendships and familial relations that come to the forefront. Between the longer episodes and the backstories of several individuals, the pace could easily have been plodding, the plot humdrum. And yet each week the writing expertly weaves together the stories of the wonderful Ssangmun-dong residents, satisfying viewers on so many levels and packing elements of comedy, romance, bromance, an unparalled ajumma sisterhood, and a tearjerking/heartwarming family drama all into one.

Honorable Mention
Bubblegum
Healer
Punch

 

BEST COMEDY

Oh My Ghostess

dramallama: We knew to expect plenty of laughs going into Oh My Ghostess just with the character set-up: thirsty virgin ghost possesses meek assistant cook, thinking virginity is her roadblock to the afterlife. Park Bo-young embodied (literally!) the feisty ghost character to deliver a cute, hilarious seduction of our Chef, whose confused attraction toward the lovable hot-and-cold heroine delivered an extra dose of humor and pinch of salt. Even the seemingly throwaway moments and marginal characters were given a chance to shine through frequent ad-libs. Though the mystery-solving and occasional demon-induced chills kept us on our toes, the show was most memorable as a comedy that was as heartfelt as it was outrageous. We came for the confused-identity hijinks, but were made to care about our ghost resolving her grudge and moving on to the afterlife, which pinched our hearts with bittersweet sympathy… before tickling our funny bones with each increasingly audacious attempt to get the Chef to pluck her flower.

Honorable Mention
She Was Pretty

 

BEST ACTION/THRILLER DRAMA

Last

odilettante: Last managed to combine a captivatingly gritty reality with carefully crafted action in a story about homeless men literally fighting their way up a chain of command in the Seoul underground. Each brutal brawl to gain another level in the chain was edge-of-your-seat nerve-wracking, all the way up to the big ultimate battle, and regularly induced anxiety over whether the protagonist would not only survive another day, but eventually achieve his goal and defeat Seoul Station’s “Number One.” But there was so much more to this show than men fighting for power (or food). The stories of the men who inhabited the colorful world of Seoul Station made for riveting viewing as they attempted to battle against the corrupt hierarchy, while also gaining forgotten self-respect and making for powerful stories of bittersweet redemption. If there ever was a show that exemplified the concept of the antihero, it is this one.

Honorable Mention
Healer
Missing Noir M

 

BEST MELODRAMA

Punch

HeadsNo2: It may seem like overstatement to call Punch one of the best examples of fully realized storytelling ever (though it certainly was one of this year’s), but it was truly one of those experiences that needs to be seen in order to be believed. The drama trifecta was in perfect working order here, with insanely nuanced writing, out-of-this-world acting, and a directing hand that all but disappeared in service of the story. As a story about a prosecutor who decides to fight the corruption around him when he’s given a terminal diagnosis, the premise is about as melodramatic as it gets, yet Punch never got bogged down by the kind of tearmongering so common in this category. It was human to its very core, the kind that’s so frighteningly realistic that it made us consider the world of law and order in a much different light. And for that matter, to consider the whole of humanity as not just shades of grey, but every conceivable color imaginable.

 

BEST HISTORICAL DRAMA

Six Flying Dragons

gummimochi: It may come as a surprise that a currently-airing sageuk halfway into its run would be considered the best historical drama this year, but Six Flying Dragons has proven itself deserving of the spotlight week after week. Set in a time of political unrest in the late Goryeo era, Dragons focuses on a small band of rebels united in bringing down a corrupt government and establishing a new nation. Though they may all share a common goal now, history teaches us that the road to a new Joseon will be a rough one from here on out, and the clash of political ideals we see now is only the beginning of a bloody trail of one man’s rise to power. But if that’s not enough to convince you, then get this—the best swordsman in Goryeo has the deadliest moves and sports the most colorful eyeshadow in all the land.

 

BEST ACTOR

Ji Sung, Kill Me, Heal Me

gummimochi: Bringing one character to life is hard enough, but making seven different personalities feel so whole and distinct requires some kind of hoodoo magic. Kill Me, Heal Me required its lead actor to run the gamut from a saturi-speaking ajusshi to a classic bad boy to an ever-sassy teenage girl, and yet Ji Sung went balls-out to make sure that each split personality had their own unique charm (so much so that we sometimes forgot it was one person playing all of them). Ji Sung’s tour de force performance was infused with an infectious enthusiasm that was evident in the whole cast and sucked us into its wacky energy, elevating the show to much more than the sum of its messy individual parts. And while those split personalities may be long gone, Ji Sung’s whole-hearted performance ensures that they’ll never leave our hearts.

Honorable Mentions
Ji Hyun-woo, Awl
Kim Rae-won, Punch

 

BEST ACTRESS

Park Bo-young, Oh My Ghostess

HeadsNo2: To go from a mouse of a girl used to apologizing for every single mistake—of which there were many—to a girl possessed by the ghost of another, much more boisterous girl would’ve been a tall task for any actress, but it was a particular treat to have Park Bo-young’s television comeback characterized by such an emotional seesaw of dramatic and comedic range. She made the two wildly disparate characters so lovable and winsome that you rooted for both of them to win their love, no matter that one necessitated the heartbreak of the other. It’d be really easy to get used to experienced film actresses gracing our screens in zany yet heartfelt comedies like Oh My Ghostess, where her performance could simultaneously make us laugh, cry, laugh again, and then maybe cry some more. It takes talent and commitment to bring such a theoretically outlandish character to life, but it was magic to see her rule the small screen. Come back soon, Park Bo-young. Chef-nim and dramaland need you.

Honorable Mentions
Go Ah-sung, Heard It Through the Grapevine
Hwang Jung-eum, Kill Me, Heal Me

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Byun Yo-han, Six Flying Dragons

HeadsNo2: There’s nothing like a good sageuk to test an actor’s mettle; the often notoriously difficult genre has been known to make or break a rising star’s career. On the heels of two back-to-back strong performances (one career-making, one cheerfully crowd-pleasing), Byun Yo-han has made the third equally memorable, knocking it out of the park as an angsty warrior searching for a righteous cause, who maybe also happens to be the best swordsman, period. To convey the depth of what his character has gone through, that feeling of being adrift in one’s own world—belonging neither here nor there, though desperately wanting to—takes a skilled hand, and there’s certainly no shortage of raw talent where he’s concerned. And being able to do so with those big, beautiful, soulful eyes? Well, that’s just an added bonus.

Honorable Mentions
Choi Siwon, She Was Pretty
Yoo Ji-tae, Healer

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Kim Seul-gi, Oh My Ghostess

Saya: Kim Seul-gi has been putting in sparkling performances in supporting roles for a few years now, and each successive role has seen her take a bigger bite of the apple. Playing Oh My Ghostess’s bawdy virgin ghost required so much more than a one-note performance, and Kim brought a complicated blend of emotion and spirit to a role more obviously given to comedy. Her wonderful comic chops are her best-known strength, making her lascivious ghost a riot. But it’s a character that was infused with deep notes, as she played a vulnerable girl struggling to face her mortality after the fact. It’s the saddest thing about Oh My Ghostess that the dead stay dead. The role really showcased her range as an actress—she’d have me laughing one minute and crying the next. With her keen sense of fun, she went all in to create a bubbly, quirky character—if only she had more face-time with Park Bo-young! Here’s to hoping 2016 brings her bigger, better roles.

Honorable Mentions
Ra Mi-ran, Answer Me 1988
Shin Eun-kyung, Village: Secret of Achiara

 

BEST ADAPTATION

Awl

girlfriday: Awl was more of a niche critical success than a commercial one, but it was a great example of an ideal relationship between original source material and its adaptation, where watching the drama made you want to go out and buy the comic books. The original webtoon by Choi Kyu-seok about workers at a supermarket fighting for their rights was populated with such captivating characters—flawed, idealistic people struggling to fit in when they were meant to stand out. It was really the unusual characters that made the labor union story an engaging tale of human triumph and not a boring treatise on labor laws and downtrodden workers. But I wouldn’t have felt that way if the drama adaptation hadn’t been so well acted and directed that it made me curious about what directorial touches had come from the drama alone or were inspired by the comic, or got me so completely engrossed in a character’s backstory that I’d forget we weren’t watching a drama about army life or student protesters. Admittedly, the drama fell short in some ways, but it did succeed in making me a fan of the webtoon that started it all.

Honorable Mention
Last

 

BEST MUSIC

Persevere, Gu Hae-ra

odilettante: Perhaps this almost seems like too obvious a selection, since Persevere, Gu Hae-ra was, on the surface, a drama all about music. The story took a standard underdogs-against-the-world setup (or in this case, underdogs against the corrupt and slick idol factory that’s out to steal one of their own and their music, too)—but the characters were so easy to care about and root for as they endured trial after trial to finally have their unique voices heard. This was so much more than misfits coming together—it was about finding family and learning to love yourself as you are. The music itself took a lovely indie spin on tried-and-true pop favorites, offering a fresh take through Team Persevere’s fun jazzy harmonies. Also fun was recognizing the countless cameos of music industry pros, from K-pop idols to ’90s sensations to past Superstar K contestants. But most of all, the music in the drama tied into emotional themes of the day, offering an outlet for the characters as well as serving as mode of communication, bridging gaps when sometimes the mind roadblocked the heart.

Honorable Mention
Bubblegum

 

BEST CHARACTER

Healer, Healer

dramallama: Healer had the best of both worlds, as a badass superhero who was also an endearingly human lonelyhearts. The personalized superhero was principled and smart, a night errand boy who refused to kill, with expert acrobatic skills and a badass sidekick team. But then, he was also his dorky alter ego, who despite being an invention could be seen as an extension of Healer’s incompetent side—the side that was embarrassingly, endearingly bad at being a normal person, with conversational skills limited to mission tactics and takeout orders. As Healer’s curiosity about our fearless heroine brought him back into the world, we saw all the blossoming of his long-buried better side, rooted in unbreakable loyalty to those he vowed to protect. Despite insisting that a deserted island was all he wanted, pushing past the hermit barricade revealed a vulnerability and deep-seated longing to love and be loved. Lucky for him, we’ve got plenty more love where that came from.

Honorable Mentions
Kim Shin-hyuk (Choi Siwon), She Was Pretty
Shin Soon-ae (Kim Seul-gi), Oh My Ghostess

 

BEST VILLAIN

Choi Won-young, I Remember You

dramallama: Why, hello there, monster. As the friendly forensic examiner and unassuming neighbor with a perpetually glossed-over stare, Choi Won-young played with an intriguing ambiguity that kept us guessing about his true nature. Even when it emerged that he happened to also be a functioning psychopath, he was unreadable in a compelling way, tempering his lack of empathy with a likable charm. That affability was almost more of a threat than his monstrous impulses; one was dangerous for being lethal and undetected, but the other was dangerous for making you like him anyway. Worse yet (or better, as villains go), he cultivated the next generation’s monsters, readily exploiting people’s weaknesses against them. His chilling accuracy in reading those around him allowed for smooth persuasion that planted fear and doubt in everyone’s minds. So when he would look at you with that wide-eyed stare and the slightest smile, it was in your best interest to look away.

Honorable Mentions
Lee Soo-hyuk, Scholar Who Walks the Night
Namgoong Min, Girl Who Sees Smells

 

BEST ROMANCE

Healer, Ji Chang-wook & Park Min-young

girlfriday: Healer was good at many things, but man alive, was it good at the romance. The love story between a night errand boy who courted danger and a dogged reporter with a nose for the truth had a crackling synergy that was in part due to the actors’ chemistry, but also the stakes in the narrative world where life, death, and the greater good were always hanging in the balance. No one ever said dating a superhero with a double life was easy, but I’m pretty sure that brave, plucky reporters are their type for a reason. At times sweeping with grand emotions, sometimes mundane and hilarious, other times simply romantic, this loveline had it all, and most importantly, it knew how to take us along for the ride. Every hand held in secret, every kiss stolen on a rooftop, every heartbeat skipped—we were made to palpably feel and greedily cherish, as if we’d been given secret access to watch their love story unfold. Is any wonder that we all swooned?

Honorable Mentions
Oh My Ghostess
Oh My Venus

 

BEST BROMANCE

I Remember You

Saya: I Remember You was a show that was driven by its bromance; its beating heart was the anguished, broken brotherhood between Seo In-gook and Park Bo-gum. Their whole estrangement was a journey towards each other, but Park was the livewire who made it all hurt so bad, with his desperate plea for his brother to remember him expressed in the most damaged of ways. I found myself just as desperate to forgive him, under the sway of that agonizing duality that transformed him from ominous in one moment to broken-hearted little brother the next. But Seo In-gook showed us that (brotherly) love’s not love which alters when it alteration finds, and he never gave up on his lost brother’s humanity—someone only he could save. It was a bond that came so fervently alive that I often forgot that it wasn’t real. Oh, it was real, and how.

Honorable Mentions
Answer Me 1988
Sassy Go Go

 

BEST GIRLFRIENDS

Answer Me 1988

LollyPip: When life gets hard, husbands drive you crazy, and children are ungrateful brats, there’s nothing better than having a friend or two that you know will always have your back (or cover your family’s dinner), no matter what. And that’s what the Answer Me 1988 ajummas are to each other—friends who live practically in each other’s living rooms, who come from different situations without letting that get between them. What’s important is just that they love and offer support in times of tragedy, sans the pity, crying together while simultaneously building each other up. They can be jealous of one’s good fortune while also being genuinely happy for her. They’re not afraid to speak their minds, whether it’s to tease, to give advice, or to tell the brutal truth. Or sometimes to just share a drink, laugh, dance, or be embarrassing with. We should all be so lucky to find a friend in this world who loves us enough to be so many things—friend, confidant, teacher, partner in crime—all at the same time.

Honorable Mention
Ex-Girlfriend Club

 

BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE (Actor)

Park Bo-gum, I Remember You

girlfriday: Park Bo-gum isn’t actually new in the strictest sense—he didn’t debut this year, and has been steadily amassing film credits and small supporting roles in television since 2011. But 2015 was unmistakably his breakout year, with not one, but two critically-lauded performances playing complex, layered characters. I Remember You made people stand up and take notice, and Answer Me 1988 turned him into a surefire star. It’s not hard to see why if you’ve seen either of these dramas, because Park has this appealing duality as an actor: He has the emotional restraint of someone far older than his years, but the face of someone not only young, but utterly innocent. And in a drama like I Remember You, that dichotomy was crucial in his portrayal of a morally ambiguous character who made us question our own morality for caring. It’s pretty amazing that he can convey with one look everything from anguish to adoring love to cold calculation. Add in some tears? Forget about it.

Honorable Mentions
Ji-soo, Angry Mom
Ryu Joon-yeol, Answer Me 1988

 

BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE (Actress)

Jo Soo-hyang, Who Are You—School 2015

javabeans: A couple things make Jo Soo-hyang’s breakout in Who Are You—School 2015 noteworthy: First, she came out of absolutely nowhere (her debut was in an indie film, Wild Flowers, that hadn’t released at the time of the drama’s airing), and second, the character that shot her to fame was utterly vile, one we (okay, I) wanted fervently off my screen as much as I was sucked into her performance. Often it’s goodwill that bolsters our affection for an actor, but in Jo’s case, the intense scorn she spurred within my futilely raging heart inspired an equal amount of respect for her acting skill. From her first scene, Jo commanded notice as the psychopathic bully making our heroine’s life hell and taking the utmost glee in it. Jo attacked her own character with as much gusto as her character attacked the heroine, seemingly unconcerned with protecting a budding actress image or winning viewer affection. Jo’s portrayal reminded us that perhaps the adage is true, that it is better to be feared than loved. And if that’s not true, shh! Nobody tell that to the teenage terror with anger management problems. I’ll just tiptoe over here, out of striking distance.

Honorable Mentions
Chae Soo-bin, Sassy Go Go
Ryu Hye-young, Answer Me 1988

 

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Warm and Cozy

gummimochi: Given the Hong Sisters’ long-established repertoire of stamping their trademarks on many a romantic comedy, Warm and Cozy had all the ingredients of a perfect summer refreshment: a picturesque island setting, a straightforward opposites-attract narrative, a potentially electrifying pairing between its two lead actors, and, as icing on the cake, plenty of food. But what came out of the dramaland kitchen was a middling dish: tepid dialogue, soupy plot, character hodgepodge, and rubbery motivation. The “will-they-won’t-they” conflict was stretched so thin and the drama recooked its simple plot so many times that it ultimately left an unpleasant aftertaste. By the end of it, I was convinced that I’d watched a sixteen-hour commercial produced by the Jeju Tourism Organization, and what should’ve been both a warm and cozy series was, at best, watery and undercooked.

Honorable Mentions
The Time I’ve Loved You
Who Are You—School 2015

 

BIGGEST WASTE OF TALENT

Yoo Yeon-seok, Warm and Cozy

awcoconuts: I’m still stinging from how criminally underutilized Yoo Yeon-seok was in Warm and Cozy, a show which felt like it was entirely phoned in by the writers. We know he’s capable of more; as Answer Me 1994′s lovable Chilbongie, he ignited the most fervent shipping war in recent history, and he’s played darker and smarmier roles in films. The Hong Sisters’ project lured him back to the small screen after a string of movies, but alas, this was not to be the career-defining project that many of the sisters’ previous works were for their leads. Despite the illogical and paper-thin plot, he tried gamely to connect with viewers as the insipid and self-absorbed manchild Gun-woo, but Yoo’s ability to captivate audiences was muted by the noble idiocy (and just plain idiocy) of his character. It’s to the actor’s credit that no actual objects were thrown at my screen while Gun-woo spent three-quarters of the show with his head far, far up his ass.

Honorable Mentions
Ha Ji-won, The Time I’ve Loved You
Kang So-ra, Warm and Cozy

 

WORST FORGIVENESS

Sassy Go Go, Chae Soo-bin

LollyPip: Sassy Go Go was bolstered by awesome friendships and an adorable lead couple, but a large part of what made it addictive was its high school villainess, who drove the plot with her constant and unrepentent machinations to get into an Ivy League college. She would lie, cheat, flaunt school policy, break the law, and use her classmates and teachers for her own personal gain. Sure, she may have been under tremendous pressure from a domineering helicopter mother, but all of her actions were hers and hers alone. So when karma finally came back for its payday and brought her down, it was baffling to see her classmates immediately launch a campaign to bring her back into their group, under the premise that they were still a team. While I loved our heroine and the kids for their huge hearts and forgiving spirits, it was frustrating to see them suddenly work so hard to accept this girl who’d been nothing but venomous, with no indication that she’d changed, or promises not push anyone else down the stairs. I’d watch my back if I were them, is all I’m sayin’.

Honorable Mentions
She Was Pretty, Go Jun-hee
Who Are You—School 2015, Jo Soo-hyang

 

MOST PROBLEMATICALLY LIKABLE KILLER

 

 
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I thought healer would be the best drama, but instead it's Answer Me 1988.

I thought Ji Soo would be the break out performance, but instead it's Park Bo Gum.

The rest is predictable :D

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Healer was below average for me, it kind of shocks me that international fans liked it so much. I think it just catered to many female ifans??

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I agree SO MUCH with you, healer was not all that for me either, and I'm forever surprised by how much people love it

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I'm also surprised that Healer was so popular among international fans. It wasn't that popular in Korea. I thought Healer was enjoyable, but it was disappointing in terms of the action/thriller.

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Very much agreed. I dislike Healer. It just so-so.

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Same Here! Healer was just an OKAY Drama for me to watch but it didn't stick with me in any level. I personally never understood the obsession with it. I saw it months after it ended and the hype had died down just because everyone was gushing about it here but I must confess that I had to force myself too finished it.

In my humble opinion "I Remember You" was The Best Drama of 2015.

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

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Healer's storyline is too simple. The villains in Healer are so one dimensional.

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AH god me too. Actually I enjoyed it a lot, esp in the beginning, it was more than okay for me, but I don't have the devotion its inspired in so many. It didn't stick with me either! Like well done, awesome, but it didn't have enough of a lasting emotional impact to stay in my heart. (Like for contrast, City Hunter was not as savvy as Healer, but it punched my gut like 50 times.)

Also the ending was pretty weak compared to the rest of it, sadly. It deserved more. I was watching alongside the hype but lost interest for the last like 2 or 3 episodes and made myself finish later.

But yes, I'm like so thankful to see the like minds here in the midst of all the healer love. Great show, well done, just lacked something important for me.

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agreed.. it's among the best drama only up to the episode where the heroin find the hero's house and sleep together in bed. the rest episodes onward felt like a conclusion of a nice story. especially with such a one dimensional simple villain

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Healer rode on the "squee factor" which elevated it's likability. Answer Me 1988 is a more well rounded drama that has something for everyone. Plus, it has both critical and viewer rating success.

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+1

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Had a really crappy ending, too. It was fun for like 3/4 of its run.

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+11111

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I totally agree. Honestly, healer was okay, but it wasn't that memorable or good as some other dramas.

Honestly i just really love things with a good plot or good character interaction and I don't think Healer really had that :/

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Oh my gahh... I love your choices!

Well, personally I think Punch deserves the best drama title, but I guess to get Honorable Mention is not bad too.

Ji Sung as best actor is definitely deserving. Even if he doesn't win any award (MBC I'm warning you!), he'll always be our winner here!

And yes to Byun Yo-han getting some love =D

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Byun Yohan should be given a leading role after 6FD!!!! He deserves it.

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Actually he already had a leading role (Ex-girlfriends club) but he's definitely on another level now after SFD.
Who would have thought that he'll be the one that is most talked about of among all the dragons?

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Our Suk-yul has come a long way, I feel like a proud mom :)

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Totally! Can't believe that only last year when he first came out at Misaeng being the 'annoying kind of pervert with ugly center-parting' to now being probably my fave actor on screen. Thank you SFD for casting him!

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Yes PUNCH deserve to be the BEST TITLE drama. Just look at the scripts and very well written. Its poetic without being over melodramatic.

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I cannot imagine if the best actor is not Ji Sung. LOL.

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and kinda surprised that KMHM wasn't one of the best drama... uhmm... but i respect our db's editors choice :D

and no TWENTY AGAIN? :(

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Healer is still my 2015's best drama and after that I Remember You and Oh My Ghostess. Looking forward to next year.:)

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me too

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My utmost choice is:
1. Healer
2. Healer
3. Healer

But, these will sound unfair to loads of others, So"
1. Healer
2. I Remember You
3. Twenty Again (now might be sharing #3 with Remember, War of the Son.")

Best Actor, my heart wanted to vote JiChangwook, but think to be fair, Ji Sung with Choi Won-young
Best Actor, my heart wanted to vote Park Minyoung, but to be fair: Choi Ji woo, Hwang Jung-eum

Best OTP: need i say more.
1. Seo Junghoo, Chae Young shin
2. Seo Junghoo, Chae Young shin
3. Seo Junghoo, Chae Young shin
(no other choices)

Breakthru Performance:
Park Bo Gum. (also no other choices)

Best Character: Healer-ya (of cause no other choices)

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didn't really watch Reply 1988.
since Beanie all said so, should be good and deserving.
congrat to all who root for Reply 1988 to be lauded the Equivalent of Oscar (in KD beanie world) to Reply 1988.

don't mind Healer didn't. (sincerely). cheers!!! :D

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am watching "Remember War of the Son" now.
hope next year "Remember" can get some beanie awards.
still yet to see how the story goes, the writing goes, and above all, how my OTP goes....

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Just from ep1 of "Reply 1988" didn't catch my attention.... I find the story Drastic and Sporadic... fine, It's about history and all that, but the feels is just (???, whatever!)... Kinda, I still love my country, hahaha.....

Then, the actors.. Ok fine, let's say this is about the past again... But please, make sure they're good looking on the screen... geeezz...

What matter's is the feels: thrills, emotions, suspense, plot, etc...

And HEALER has it all...

Oh, well... Whatever!!

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I agree with the list for most matters. 2015 gave us some really memorable dramas.

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Love reading all of this! Definitely some dramas I want to watch now (Six Flying Dragons, I Remember You...). :D

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I thought Punch would get both the Best Drama and Best Writing titles so I'm quite surprised to see Reply 1988 there.

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Me too. I thought that Punch would definitely get Best Writing so when I saw Answer Me 1988 I was like: "What?" At least it got an honourable mention. :)

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Punch was a great drama. I was so pumped when I started on it, because it's not often you get to a drama you know is A++ from the start (but late 2014-15 gave us quite a few, from Misaeng to Punch to Heard It Through the Grapevine, to even the unexpected gem that was Sassy Go Go).

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This is definitely on my watch list. But it sounds like something I have to really pay attention to while watching, so have to wait for a window when I can marathon it.

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You really shoud. I have been k-drama watchers almost 15 years now and PUNCH definitely has the best writing for this year if not the whole k-drama worlds. It is indeed that smooth and bring the old memories of the good ol days of k drama fans.

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if not one of the best for all k-dramas. definetly best drama and best writing for me this year.

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It's definitely one of my top 5 favorite dramas.

As I mentioned below, I'm watching it again and there are scenes that still give me chills.

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I'd watched Punch (after Head's review). Wow.. it's soo good ! Really ! So intensed. You must try it :)

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I agree. I'm watching Punch a second time and it's equally as good as they first time. I'm still in awe of the acting, characters and how the story unfolds. I definitely choose it as the Best Drama and Best Writing.

Best Music goes to R1988.

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+1

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I agree 1000%. It's engaging, fast-paced, and well-written. We have character developments on not only the main leads but also secondary and the villains. Definitely Best Drama and Best Writing. I haven't seen a good Kdrama that is this good since "The Chaser".

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I agree that Punch was very well done on the acting, writing and directing fronts, but it wasn't a show that I ended up loving. For all the sharp dialogue, I didn't totally buy all the character choices in the second half, and I found the double and triple crossing a bit repetitive after a while. I also had issues with the (perhaps unintentional) suggestion that since corruption is a fact of life it's better to side with open evil than with hypocrisy. While I guess it's better to know your enemy, I felt the show kept wanting the audience to root for the "less bad" folks rather than acknowledging that "bad" isn't worth cheering for no matter how it's packaged.

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Thank you for another year of recaps!! See you guys in 2016.

Btw...

Park Bogum is love!!!! ????

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Your choices make up for all the crappy drama awards that will inevitably be given out later on... and some that already have been given out.

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Drama Assembly not mentioned anywhere in this list. It simply like my top3 drama for this year.

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Agreed, it was a good watch! A bit cliche in some parts, but Jung Jae-Young totally draws you in. One of the underrated drama along with Ex-Girlfriend Club, which are these year's dramas I actually watched from beginning to end...

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I agree. Assembly was not something for everyone but then again nor was Awl. JJY's performance and his hero's vision were full of heart and yet, so close to reality. His passionate, overwhelming speech about " The 7 things that the next generation has already lost " while living and working in this socioeconomic environment, brought me back to real world. This drama was by far more than just a show...

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The only 2015 dramas that are worth watching IMO: Assembly, Punch, Heard It Through The Grapevine, Awl and Angry Mom (in no particular order).

I enjoyed Kill Me Heal Me, but I do think it's horribly uneven.

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I'm terrified to click the spoiler because there are so many dramas I haven't watched this year. lol. I will let it remain a mystery,

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I am the personification of curiosity killed the cat. It might as well have been a gigantic neon sign saying "CLICK ME!" (Thankfully, I've watched the drama and wasn't spoiled.)

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For me, the title of the spoiler speaks for itself LOL because there were only a few problematically likable killers out there and I think I've seen all the dramas with them in it so I didn't hesitate even a bit to go open it and guessed right :-D

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I loved Sassy Go Go - the chemistry between the three leads was adorable. Nothing about that here though.

Glad to see the recognition for Siwon for his role in She Was Pretty- he stole the show. I also thought Oh My Ghostess was amazing. I think it was a while a go so She was Pretty took the spotlight- but glaad to see the recognition here. . But the way she played the ghost possessing her and herself also- such a great job by that acress.

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Best Drama of 2015 is "Answer Me 1988"?

Well, that gave me a good laugh.......

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I thought "Answer me 1988" is one of the best drama of 2015. The 1 1/2 hr/ep might not be necessary bc it made the drama seems kind of slow at some point. But, the story has some much warmth and love in it. I love the comedy of it too. Guess it's just not your type of drama, same goes for me about Healer.

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I did marathon of Reply 1988 and I loved it so much that now I feel it as my fav Kdrama ever... it has so much warmth in it...

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Certainly it's different for each person. I absolutely love R88.

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Obviously, different strokes...

I love Answer Me 1988. Wonderful writing and performances.

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Healer is the best drama, everyone knows...

Also I think Kim Soo Hyun deserves an honourable mention for best acting in Producer. Or maybe IU, she was great too.

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IU definitely deserves the mention for Producer, she was great there. She seemed like she'd be just comic relief/a sidekick at first, but she more than held her own against far more senior and experienced (not to mention widely acclaimed) actors like Cha Tae-hyun, Gong Hyo-jin and Kim Soo-hyun.

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Could not stand IU's portrayal of her character's boredom at the beginning (granted, a bit difficult to make that interesting and not simply boring and annoying) along w/ others, but she started to shine once the script gave her character more to do.

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I agree. I thought IU was good especially towards the end of the show, but her acting was nowhere near great. Her character become more likable when she started falling for the main character. I always looked forward to her expressions and reactions when he was around.

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"Heqler is the best drama, everyone knows..."

No, I don't know.

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I second to that. I did not watch healer, not my type of drama and apparently korean agreed, it never reach double digits. Rating was a bit too abysmal to be declared as the best.

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Ratings are really no measure of quality, considering some execrable-to-mediocre dramas have ended up with high ratings, and some fantastic ones have had low single digits.

But yeah, if you think something is overrated, you have every right to say so.

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Me neither!!!

And I watched it. (But agree that ratings don't necessarily say something about a drama's actual quality.)

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I loved Healer as much as the next guy, but Reply 1988 fully deserves its win. Healer was a fun, harmless, romantic watch, but Reply is heart-tugging, soul-crushing, and wrapped in the comfy nostalgia of childhood. For a lot of us, it's going to be remembered long after the Healer craze fades away.

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no. not everyone.

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i mean not everyone love healer.

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I think Healer is starting to get some anti-fans. lol Not because it's a bad drama but because people go overboard in their love for it. When you get enough super fans you create anti-fans. I guess that's how nature keeps balance. lol

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idk, I don't think anyone's going overboard either way on this thread, at least. I personally didn't dislike Healer because it was popular--in my opinion it wasn't irredeemably terrible, but it definitely wasn't good either. If anything, the sad decline of Song Ji-na and the whole trendy-in-genre's-clothing thing were far more annoying than its fans.

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Agree. Trendy dramas, though fantastic on the outside (good looks camera shots and cinematography), are actually ugly on the inside (the writing and directing). Whereas stories that are not so fantastic on the outside (no idols, veteran actors and better scripts) are often brushed off.

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Although I agree that up to the current episode it's still so good, I can't help but feeling wary about the last 4 episodes of Answer Me 1988. I really hope it's just my feeling because I love the show too much. And gahhh how can we only have 4 episodes left????

My faves might only got honorable mentions but I still agree whole-heartedly with your picks (really, at this point I don't care who got picked for Best Bromance and Breakout Performances, I love them all the same). And I got a little teary at Best Girlfriends category. It was hard to pick one for The Beanie Award but soon after the Ssangmundong ahjummadeul made their way into the game they've made my choice became easier.

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So happy that Bubblegum is an honorable mention in so many categories! It was definitely my favorite drama of the year!

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Its actually a good one, I started skeptically as there were so many negative comments but then it just sucked me in even though its slow-paced... and direction is just awesome...

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+1. For me Bubblegum was best in lots of categories. But I'm glad it has got at least 3 honorable mentions. And honestly, it should have got Best music (not only honorable mention) and honorable mention in Best Romance. Both scenario and directing were outstanding as well. I'm glad, that Beanies share my opinion on this ^^

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So true! I was surprised and delighted, lol.

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Same here, it is definitely one of my favorite ones this year after not watching a lot of dramas, and dropped a LOT of them after coming in with high expectations. Bubblegum to me hit that sweet spot of cute OTP moments and just the right amount of angst. So I'm glad that was recognized in here, although it was not a very popular drama.

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I was actually expecting you'd put up Healer as Best Drama seeing how you all spazzed over it here, but I was surprised to see Reply 1988 up there (even though I love it). I'm happy it won though, as well as in Best Writing, because it is really doing a great job in weaving all these numerous stories into a cohesive endearing role (no matter how ? slow the love triangle development is).

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I liked Healer more. But to each his/her own :)

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*cohesive endearing WHOLE

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Aw, is purplecow not a minion anymore? I enjoyed his recaps.

Thanks to all the DB staff for all the recaps and reviews this year. I can't watch a lot of dramas because of time considerations, but I love reading all the recaps. And I'm glad my fave I Remember You got so many mentions in the editor's picks! Go Hyun & Min!

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Splish Splash Love has convinced me that Kim Seul-gi needs to be lead in more things, and that she should be paired with Yoon Doo-joon at every chance they get. She's fantastic, and deserves better than to be left in supporting lead/smaller projects forever while actresses (idol and otherwise) who don't even have the talent she does in her pinky finger, get lead roles left and right.

I can't quite agree with the take on why the kids forgave Soo-ah in Sassy Go Go, because they certainly didn't absolve her of everything and made it clear to her that she still had to earn their trust once she came back. And we got enough of a peek inside her head to (imo) get that she really was conflicted even as she did the awful things she did, and sincerely regretted it once it was brought home to her just what she'd become - this wasn't even CLOSE to School 2015's 'I pity you so you get no official consequences, no need to actually apologise and only a mild scolding from your victim' wishy-washiness.

Now THAT was the worst forgiveness, hands down, because the bully wasn't even sorry for what she'd done, just sorry for herself!

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I know! I'm confused and slightly unsatisfied why Kwon Soo-ah got worst forgiveness.

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Argh, me too! For me that was definitely DEFINITELY Jo Soo-hyang from School 2015, with that half-assed 'oh lol just so you know, I'm not sorry,' and the lack of consequence all her evil had. Soo-ah's saving was really the kids' own redemption of themselves, because they didn't want to be the kind of people who drove someone to kill themselves.

I think distinguishing the motives and reasons are important in judging the character. JSH did a brilliant job with hers, but that doesn't make her character deserving of *our* forgiveness, especially when she wasn't even really sorry. Soo-ah, for all her misguided actions, *was* genuinely sorry, and it came through. I feel wronged on Chae Soo-bin's behalf :(

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I liked both Kwon Soo Ah and Min Ha Ri's forgiveness. The forgiveness I thought was the most nonsense waa Park Bo Gum's in I Remember You.

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And if I had editors' picks, they'd go something like this:

Best Drama: Heard It Through the Grapevine
Best Directing: Splash Splash Love
Best Writing: Heard It Through the Grapevine/Answer Me 1988
Best Comedy: Heard It Through the Grapevine
Best Action/Thriller Drama: Punch
Best Melodrama: Punch
Best Historical Drama: Not going to mention any since I've seen none that I liked other than Splish Splash Love which is a 2-episoder (and haven't seen enough of Six Flying Dragons to count)

Best Actor: Ji-sung (Kill Me Heal Me). Honourable mentions to Yoo Joon-sang (Heard It Through the Grapevine) and Kim Rae-won (Punch). And a footnote to Yoon Doo-joon for both Let's Eat 2 and Splish Splash Love!

Best Actress: It's a tie between Go Ah-sung (Heard It Through the Grapevine) and Park Bo-young (Oh My Ghostess) for me. Both flawless and pitch-perfect performances, in every single way.
Honorable mention to Yoo Ho-jung (Heard It Through the Grapevine), because she was perfect as the snobby and insecure but occasionally softening mother-in-law. It's not often that a totally terrible person can be the protagonist of a story in all but name and make me enjoy it - and she was fantastic, human despite her pettiness and absurdity.

Best Supporting Actor: Byun Yo-han's pretty killer from what I've seen of SFD.
But there has to be an honourable mention to Lee Soo-hyuk in Scholar Who Walks the Night - it's rare to get a truly great villain out of a terrible drama, but Lee Soo-hyuk did it. I've been used to him as a languid, ethereal screen presence for ages now, so seeing him actually draw on the best of Dracula, Loki and Severus Snape for Gwi was one of the few actually rewarding experiences to come out of Scholar Who Walks The Night. He nailed the combination of menace, genuine hurt and obsession so perfectly, he's possibly the main reason why I don't consider my time wasted on that drama.

Best Supporting Actress: Kim Seul-gi (Oh My Ghostess). She needs to break out of this category stat, she is leading lady material.
Honorable mention to Ra Mi-ran in Answer Me 1988, and IU for The Producers - sure, she had an endearing, challenging role. But she more than rose to it, which really does deserve credit.

Best Adaptation: Not seen any I like enough, so I can't comment on this one. I just hope Cheese in the Trap turns out decent.

Best Music: Heard It Through the Grapevine (sometimes a score isn't about how good it sounds on its own, but every piece of music here was perfectly chosen and complemented the mood of the respective scenes perfectly)
Also Answer Me 1988 (sometimes it really is all about the throwback soundtrack)

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and an honourable mention in the Best Music category must go to the whistling tune from Sassy Go Go!

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oh, and the whistling tune is called Hold On There, just in case anyone wants the name of the track.

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OMG, yessss!! It's stuck in my head ALWAYS! and it was so accurate for that drama!

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Yes, I love that. But I also think that opening track for Healer is fantastic as a OST refrain, for some reason, it never fails to start the feels again.

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Fantastic choices! Ji Sung was amazing, but Yoo Joon Sang in HITTG would have been my best actor. (I havne't watched Punch yet.)
I don't think HITTG really qualifies as a comedy though it was hilarious haha.
HITTG was really an amazing and different drama ^^

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HITTG isn't what we'd recognise as a kdrama comedy, but I certainly don't agree with it being called a melodrama either - it's just as they said, a black comedy. Absolutely hilarious, but very dark and absolutely merciless towards its characters and the viewers, there's no feel-good here.

I'd actually classify it as a comedy, because it is so aware of the absurdity of its own world and presents it with a straight face.

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oh? black comedy? then I must try to watch. I stopped at ep 1 because pregnancies, children, meh... but if you say black comedy, ooh.

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@redfox - nooo, give Grapevine a try! It's the smartest drama to emerge from 2015 imo, and once you get past the first few episodes of setup, it's one hell of a story about the class divide.

It's a thirty-episoder, but I think it's one of the few long dramas that actually justifies the episode count. And the writing, directing and acting are fantastic. I think if you visit any of the open threads between Feb and June, you'll see Jon G. and me in there fangirling/fanboying about how awesome it was.

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all right, since Reply 1988 has a hiatus anyway, I might try and start again.

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Yes to Heard it Through the Grapevine having the best music. It's not the obvious choice, but I think you're absolutely right. Black comedy is a very delicate balancing act between characters behaving horribly as a matter of course and the ruthless satire only the audience gets to see, and the music was crucial to setting the tone just right.

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yeah, the right music was central to Grapevine getting it right. But I love Jang Kiha & The Faces' version of Heard It Through the Grapevine, it playing over the bouncing shrinky keyhole at the end of every episode was the most memorable set of drama end credits ever.

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Yes! Just thinking about the keyhole makes me nostalgic lol--that was the last drama I really honestly loved this year...and it aired in, what? Februrary? Even putting aside his artistic talent for a second, Ahn Pan-seok is just such a professional PD--all of his shows have such a meticulous attention to detail, and he's so committed to telling the story he set out to tell. I have never watched a drama of his that failed to wow me in some way. Hopefully he will return with something even better in 2016.

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For me, it was Grapevine in the first half of the year and Sassy Go Go in the second, that really stood out from start to finish.

And they might seem like polar opposites in tone and subject matter, but they both had a surprising amount of attention to detail and refused to hew to normal kdrama tropes. I loved how the Han family home was built to look like a traditional Korean house - it really drove home the neo-sageuk nature of it all. (likewise with Sassy Go Go's slogan sweatshirts)

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I don't know if I can buy Best Direction for Splish Splash. Don't get me wrong, I loved it as you know, from the other threads - but arguably, two parter is less of a directing challenge than a full length mini series, or at least, a different kind of beast.

Also, I'm curious as to how you define "directing" - do you see it as the choices made with regards to casting, choices in cinematography, pacing, music etc?

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For me, directing is everything that a writer can't directly control -the yin to the writer's yang, so to speak.

I do realise that Splish Splash Love, being a two-parter, had different requirements because of its length. But imo a PD's most important job is the delivery and presentation of the story, not to mention going the rest of the way towards setting the tone. In SSL, that was the closest thing to perfect because the PD left no stone unturned - the casting may be a bit of luck, but I appreciated the amount of care and detail that went into everything from the way certain scenes were shot and framed (the aesthetics were absolutely on point), down to the choice of music and the assorted sight gags sprinkled through the two-hour run.

If I were to hand the Best Directing award to a series of more conventional length, I'd give it to either Heard It Through the Grapevine (not a single throwaway element in the presentation of that drama, from the insane low light to the sterile interiors of the Han home) with an honourable mention to Sassy Go Go for the level of care taken on every aspect, even with a not-so-pretty camera - they used their resources well and carefully, and I particularly liked how even minor characters were kept consistent through their actions in the background of scenes.

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I do take your point, about the assuredness of creating an entire world, and having every detail fit to purpose the story. Sometimes, the strength does lie in that particular department though (lighting, production design etc).

Sassy does that pretty well, but I'm pretty in awe of director and the production design team for Reply as it does include so many details that place it in that era.

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I didn't even mention possibly the most important part - harnessing the skills of the actors! SSL was as glorious as it was not mainly because of the pretty, but because the PD exploited Yoon Doo-joon and Kim Seul-gi's skills and chemistry to the hilt.

A writer can really help out, of course, but the director is the one who's got to translate all the things that go unsaid/unwritten, into chemistry onscreen.

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Agreed. Kwon SooAh wasn't so much forgiven as she was saved. She still had to work to right her wrongs and what the rest of the gang were doing was showing her that yes, she still has that chance so don't just go hopeless and end her life (either by commiting suicide or moping and cooping herself up or something).

Also, I didn't quite agree with Answer Me 1988 being best drama. I mean, it definitely is NOT a bad drama and not remotely the worst drama but these few episodes have been meandering. Sure, they have many stories to tell with so many characters but somehow, sometimes they overstretch a scene or add stuff that adds zero value to the narrative and yet not touching enough to add to the dramas' pathos. Yes, the drama is slice of life but it doesn't mean that you make the viewers go through every minute of the characters' lives. Oddly, I find the drama okay at 1 hr 30mins (of course the timing cannot be compared to 1997 with focus on such an ensemble cast in 1988) but anything more than that (like the last 2 episodes), and I'm sure to find scenes that can be cut off. I think I agree with you that best drama (for me) should be Heard It Through The Grapevine.

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Exactly, I'm really confused by that Worst Forgiveness award because I thought the drama and the other kids made it very clear that the slate wasn't wiped clean just like that - Soo-ah was genuinely humbled and grateful that they reached out to her, even with the punishments she took.

I mean, the girl was suicidal because she didn't know how to deal with the pressure she was under and the person she became as a result of the methods she used to cope with it (and as we saw very clearly in the drama, the people she looked to for guidance and advice tacitly encouraged her to focus on #1 and screw everything else, including fairness and decency). Her actions didn't develop in a vacuum, she may have come up with her various nefarious ideas on her own but the seeds are certainly planted by her mother and adviser.

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To be fair, the only unnecessary evil she did for the plot to move was leaving Yeon Doo in the store alone. To a person I believed she must have had some sort of attachment to (like, I found it much easier to believe she had it in her to swallow her conscience and hurt people like Ha Dong, using Ha Joon's weakness, accusing the homeroom teacher, even putting the stealing blame on Yeol, etc), I found it hard to believe she's evil enough to do such a thing. But then she did go on and try to push Yeon Doo down the stairs - but at that point we see that she really must have already lost it. Yeol's threats had pushed her over the edge and we have seen from the very beginning she doesn't handle pressure well.

All of her actions are rash and sometimes things that would have never crossed her mind. For instance when she picked up that thumbdrive, it was already a "seize the moment" kind of situation, followed by others giving her the idea to go on and blame it on Yeol instead.

Fortunately for us, we got to see a lot of her vulnerabilities and how much she regrets her own actions. After seeing Yeol badly hurt and having left Yeon Doo during camping she was so so so lost, and she had nowhere to turn to, and she knew that her whole life she had been taught by the people around her that ethics and human compassion comes second place to success - but she went to them anyway, because she knew she had screwed up big time, she knew she crossed the line, and she was just so desperate to be told off by her mother - and at the end she still got told that those very cruel things she thought she had done were mere petty sacrifices in her mother's eyes. When she's already at such a low, how much more emotionally tortured can a kid get?

It is so different from School 2015 which had no resolution whatsoever for the villain. This is why despite me being completely in awe over Chae Soo Bin's performance in SGG and though I think I've declared myself her fan, I can't choose between her and Jo Soo Hyang either bc CSB did have the writing of her character on her favour too. CSB made it spectacular, but JSH managed to showcase amazing talent with a character that never even seemed to justify any of her actions. I anticipate a long, wondeful career for these two brilliang young actresses.

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All of her actions are rash and sometimes things that would have never crossed her mind.

Exactly - we've seen time and again that Soo-ah generally took advantage of situations as they arose/cooked up plots on the fly, like when she overheard Teacher Yang talking about the whistleblowing, or framed Yeol.

As people have pointed out, she lacked the capacity to think up or carry out long-term plots (the most conspicuous example was her forcing Yeol's hand on the cheerleading right away, and not holding Ha-joon's self-injury over his head for longer), and tended to react in panic/anger a lot. Like leaving Yeon-doo behind at the store - anyone with a brain would know that would only piss her off, if she really was the blackmailer. But Soo-ah in panic mode is beyond logic. Even the final shove down the stairs.....the way the scene is played makes it seem like Soo-ah would have shoved her either way, but they just happened to be at the top of a flight of stairs when they caught up to each other and that made it worse.

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@pogo That's true. I'm in no way trying to justify her wrongdoings, but it is made pretty clear from the get go that Soo Ah has been potrayed more like a lost child with momentary rage driven by panic rather than an evil mastermind schemer. I think to an extent, the reason for this is that she is also didn't want to. She seemed to want to do things that has instant results because she didn't wanna drag on, she wasn't aware that things don't just go your way because you bend the rules once; she thought she could just do one or two bad things and be done with it.
She finally put those feelings into words in her apology letter when she said not to trust the adults' lie of sacrificing today's happiness for tomorrow's. Chae Soo Bin was able to successfully show us her growing desperation episode after episode thus watching her realise that lies can only be covered up by more lies was a frustrating and painful process all at once.

SGG didn't give us a drama where the good guys are opressed 24/7. In 12 mere episodes, the villain's actions backlashed to herself more often than not although the consenquences was never all that fatal. We see repeatedly that neither the Baek Ho ones or Real King kids are naive or stupid, they have been cheesy and have tried to be righteous but they know that the world aint all that nice. Soo Ah was a girl trying to convince herself that posing as the bad guy was okay, but we see that she was uncomfortable and logically so would her friends. These kids spends most of their days together and 3 of the girls literally share a room with her. Little things like the scene where they were so happy to see her sound asleep bc they never before saw her peaceful tells us they too know of her struggles. Yeon Doo even knows exactly how her mother is like. They know each other. So when they decided to forgive/save Soo Ah and worked very hard to bring her back so that she won't fall into a pit of monsterville, I trusted their decision and was convinced they have put enough thinking into it. They're smart enough to know that giving her a chance to redeem herself will benefit all of them. Like mentioned below, they did what they did maybe not because they think she deserve it, but because they can.

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As for Answer Me 1988, I think the writing's mostly held up so far, but if the supposed main romance of the drama remains so meh, I might revoke that writing award.

Grapevine didn't have too much of a focus on its romance either, being more of an ensemble affair, but I thought they really did a good job of showing us a young couple who are already together and how that doesn't necessarily give them a happily ever after, just that they give each other more support for the problems that do crop up. I loved seeing In-sang and Bom in a relationship that was mostly healthy despite the tumultous start to their relationship, and it was an especially great contrast to the senior Hans' marriage.

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Nailed it. I don't think she was forgiven, all they did was save her. She was definitely gonna go and work really hard for their forgiveness. And they will surely still be wary of her and they will doubt her intentions from time to time, but that's what she returned for, to try and gain their trust. And more importantly, they didn't do it because they were just super forgiving or oddly angelic - they did it because they wanted to save her AND THEMSELVES.

I just said it in the prev post but I stated exactly why I think the kids saving Soo Ah was so beautiful and I'll just say it again. I’m sure she hadn’t reach a point where she really wanted to die, she just desperately wanted to be rescued. Some may say she’s guilt tripping the other kids and the other kids went a little overboard by putting the blame on themselves during the process of trying to save Soo Ah and get her to return; but it’s very humane, it’s just what happens. Sometimes only when another person gets hurt will we start seeing that we too have our flaws. We have the tendency to self blame, and will the kids go on in peace if she had killed herself? Would that have been a better ending? Would they have liked it if she just went off, living in guilt and continually living under pressure and eventually really turning into an evil person as an adult? I don't think so. Although that person doesn’t necessarily have the kindest heart, they did spend a lot of time with her and they have laughed, cried, worked together so when they were tryna save her, it wasn’t for her alone but literally for themselves too, for each other.

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I think you've described it beautifully. The ordinary human self thinks about calculations, like whether someone deserves forgiveness or has earned out trust, or merits our respect. But the kids in Sassy show it's possible to do one better - forgive someone that might not deserve it, just because they can - and everyone is made the better for it.

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..(contd.)

Best Character: (this is TOUGH). I think I'm going to give it to Han Jung-ho and Choi Yeon-hee (played by Yoo Joon-sang and Yoo Ho-jung respectively) of Heard It Through the Grapevine. It takes real guts to write and play characters who are utterly terrible people, and put them right at the centre of a narrative where they are the bad guys - it makes for a fascinating watch. They made me clutch my hair in frustration, yell at them for their pettiness, curse them out for being so terrible- while also keeping my fingers genuinely crossed that they'd change and cringing a little for them every time they were embarrassed in front of their equally snobby friends.

Honourable mention to Gu Dae-young (played by Yoon Doo-joon) of Let's Eat 2. I know a lot of people refused to look at this one because they didn't like the idea that the Season 1 couple didn't last forever, but Gu Dae-young is the character who really makes the show, in all his essential decency, glibness and occasionally conflicted feelings.

Best Villain: I agree with the choice of Choi Won-young in I Remember You (along with D.O. as his younger counterpart) -he is, hands down, the scariest of the entire lot, but far more than just that.

Best Romance: Sassy Go Go, Lee Won-geun and Jung Eun-ji. Quite apart from the unexpectedly blazing physical chemistry between the actors, I loved that this romance had its roots in the importance of friendship to both leads - they only started talking to each other in the first place because he needed to protect his best friend, and she valued her own friendships enough to understand why and agree. This is one of the rare cases where a bromance is what lays the groundwork for a romance! And it was a delight to see a hero who was not your standard kdrama jerk/bully at first, and is never in denial about his feelings for the girl he likes - he trolls, teases, flirts, and makes it clear at every stage that he adores her. And never, not once, do they fall into the trap of noble idiocy, not even for the people they love most. It's pretty amazing.

Honourable mention: Splish Splash Love (Yoon Doo-joon and Kim Seul-gi)

Best Bromance: I REFUSE to choose between Lee Won-geun and Ji-soo in Sassy Go Go and Seo In-gook/Park Bo-gum in I Remember You. I just won't do it.

Best Girlfriends: Ssangmundong ajummas (Answer Me 1988) <3333. That is all.

Breakout Performance (Actor): imo it's a tie between Park Bo-gum (I Remember You) and Ji-soo (Angry Mom). PBG had the edge in terms of playing a totally different role later in the year, but they both killed it in the actual dramas they first got noticed for.

Breakout Performance (Actress): It's a tie between Jo Soo-hyang and Chae Soo-bin for me. CSB might not have drawn as much praise for Sassy Go Go, but she gave a nuanced and surprisingly emotional performance that captured her character's...

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..(contd. again, because way too long)

Breakout Performance (Actress): It's a tie between Jo Soo-hyang and Chae Soo-bin for me. CSB might not have drawn as much praise for Sassy Go Go, but she gave a nuanced and surprisingly emotional performance that captured her character's self-delusion, roiling desperation and vulnerability all at once. Which is astonishing for a rookie actress who's all of 21 years old and only started acting a year ago.

Biggest Disappointment: Warm & Cozy. The Hong sisters really owe Yoo Yeon-seok and Kang Sora for never giving up on their performances despite a script that gave them no help (seriously, were they drunk when they wrote this?)

Biggest Waste of Talent: Yoo Yeon-seok and Kang Sora, Warm & Cozy. I just hope they get better projects after this, karma says they've earned it.

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LOL @ "killed it"

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hahahaha....i think ji soo didn't kill anyone though..

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ha!

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I agree about Soo-Ah. They basically just told her to sober up and start acting like a human being. they made it clear that that´s where it ends. I think it is the most reasonable thing to do. just tell the person to start living. chase out the demons and take control over your own morals.

It wasn´t forgiveness, not by FAR. She has SO much paying back to do. A lifetime. They got her now.

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Exactly. A lot of people behaved like Soo-ah got away scot-free like School 2015's Satan, but Sassy Go Go makes it quite explicitly clear that Soo-ah is facing both academic and social consequences for her behaviour.

The kids don't want her to die, but they know she owes them and they make it clear, and she gets it. They didn't give her a free pass on anything. And it would have defeated the entire message of the drama if she'd died or left for good - the message being that friendship can save you, no matter how desperate you are, as long as you're willing.

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I am so glad that you tipped the hat to Choi Won Young as the best villain. He makes the most of every role!
I did want to mention my favorite villain of the year...Yeon Jeong Hun in Mask. Can a bad guy make your heart beat with joy? He was awesomely evil!!

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I even enjoyed him as Choi Ji-woo's husband in Twenty Again. That man is just awesome.

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Exactly! I enjoyed hating him so much I think I didn't even hate him anymore by the end. He was the source of more than half that show's comedy for me. In fact, I think that he left a deeper impression on me than the leads.

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Looking back, you are right. I think I cared more for him than the leads.

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YJH has my vote, too. Let's give him "The Devil with an Angel's Face (plus figure)" Award of the year. Although he was the evil mastermind behind every scheme in that mansion, he had never, ever forgotten his facial lotion nor his stylish clothes (or his stylish hair-cut, lol). Honourable Mention to Namgoong Min for the exact same reasons...

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Yes, a lovely Devil!

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Choi Won Young was really good in IRY - he brought to life that kind of strange liveability that some serial killers supposedly have. Quite chilling.

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Very nice mix in dramas this year. No complaints from me as Healer, Reply 1988, Punch, Last, and Six Flying Dragons are all great dramas. I loved Awl at the start, but it's hit this sticking point where I reach for other dramas. But it definitely is one of the better shows from this year.

I'm trying to catch up on Reply 1988 before the last week. I'm actually surprised at how much I'm enjoying it because I went in finding episode 1 to be a bit on the boring side (and part of me was biased towards 1997). When I read how much people were enjoying it, I committed myself to push through and now, it's my favorite out of the 3. And I love love love Healer.... but I am definitely fine and happy with Reply 1988 getting best drama. It deserves it.

Only thing. For villain, does Lee Tae-joon from Punch not count? Cause I loved that guy to bits. Or rather, there should've been a special category for best unhealthy relationship.

yay for love for Byun Yo-han and Kim Seul-gi! Hopefully, Six Flying Dragons continues strong. If the drama wasn't split between two years, perhaps it could've been a good contender for best drama.

Thanks for another great year in recaps!

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Re: Finding ep 1 of Reply 1988 to be boring:

I think that Ep 1 of Reply 1988 is its weakest ep. In particular, the depiction of Bora as this "crazy bitch" of a bully is off-putting. That and the parade of characters pretty much takes up the 1st half of ep 1.

But then the show just goes from strength to strength week after week. Best writing and best girlfriends for sure!

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I agree that ep 1 of AM1988 was the weakest, but kinda understandable when had to introduce so many characters and would have been out of place to have started w/ a "bang" instead of showing the portrayal of the mundane, everyday life in the neighborhood.

Being a character-driven show, takes time to get to know the characters and getting to know them when layer after layer is peeled is what makes it so great.

Akin to that, it must have taken me 5-6 attempts before I got thru the 1st ep of "Coffee Prince" b/c it really didn't stand out for me in any way (and things really didn't start to get interesting once the gang started work on renovating the coffee shop) - but looking back, I chide myself for not having pushed thru earlier.

Also started to watch the film "Sunny" a couple of years ago, but didn't get back to it until recently and now it is one of my all-time fave K-films.

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I was honestly more disappointed with The Time I've Loved You than Warm & Cozy. With Warm & Cozy, I still enjoyed watching the leads and their chemistry with each other. Things were stupid, yes, but I still enjoyed it.

The Time I've Loved You on the other hand... literally nothing was happening... I guess my disappointment was also due to my love for the original haha

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I agree with you - The Time I Loved You was THE worst drama in 2015. I couldn't endure it and jumped ship on ep 5. On the other hand, I stuck until the end with Warm and Cozy; it had it cute moments.?

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I agree with your assessment. The Time I Loved You sucked big time. Ha Ji Won in that role was unwatchable and I dropped the drama after episode 3. With Warm and Cozy I was able to endure to the end because the leads and supporting cast were endearing despite the huge plot holes.

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I guess they weren't as disappointed since they didn't have as much expectations for The Time I Loved You compared to Warm and Cozy. K-drama adaptations of overseas dramas haven't shown to be the best examples of drama remakes and I know for one (if my memory serves me correctly) that Javabeans hadn't even watched the original before the remake was confirmed.

On the other hand, the Hong sisters have been solid hitmakers and have written quite a few "K-classics". With the execption of Big at that time, they've been K-drama blue-chips and you know, when something has served you so well and broken down only once, you tend to want to forgive the one time it failed and look forward to the next, most probably best thing, it'll give you like it had done for so long. Plus, I think Dramabeans sees Yoo YeonSuk and Kang SoRa very favourably so imagine their upset when Warm and Cozy not only didn't deliver but actually became a plausible cause of baldness.

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The only real Hong "blue chip" was TGL w/ MGIAG and "Master's Sun" being fun, but flawed works (best thing about them were the female leads - which were both memorable characters).

And there have been some very good K-adaptions of overseas dramas such as "He/The Man Who Can't Marry" and "Liar Game."

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By "Blue-Chip" I meant "introduction to drama addiction" chips. They've written more than a handful of dramas that many seem to hold dear, like My Name is Kim SamSoon and My Girl and Sassy Girl ChunHyang plus those you've mentioned, which is more than... 2 good remakes (and some say the japanese version remains better (I wouldn't know)).

So the historical count is biased in Hong sis' favour... which they obviously didn't deliver with Warm and Cozy.

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My Name is Kim Sam-soon was written by Kim Do-woo.

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I do agree with this list. However I believe that Kim Soo Hyun deserves an honourable mention for best acting in Producer too.

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Reply 1988 surpassed just being the best drama and writing of 2015. It's one of the best TV shows I've ever watched.
Thank you for sharing your top picks and honorable mentions!
I really need to catch up on my kdramas for the last half of 2015.
So glad I found this website!

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The signs, or should i say the reviews, keep pointing me to watch Answer Me 1988. Perhaps i should ?

I can imagine making these reviews is difficult, but I can assure you your efforts are worth it and very much appreciate it.

Thank you to everyone @DB for making this site the best.

P.S.
You guys should consider charging a subscription fee.

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Jeepers!, I disagree with many of the choices here, other than the no brainer Ji Sung win for Best Actor, Park Bo-Young for Best Actress, Park Bo-Gum for Break out role for this year and Choi Won Young as Best villian. Some of the other choices were kind of hit or miss for me. But I would've thought Sassy Go Go had more of a shot of Best Couple (omance) than Oh My Venus, for instance.

And Warm and Cozy doesn't deserve the title the Biggest Disappointment for the year. It was frustrating but not as bad or disappointing as Hyde, Jekyll and Me or even D-day. Dramas which we expected more of, but turned out to be way more disappointing than Warm and Cozy.

But different strokes for different folks, I guess.

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Oh and I wanted to add I loved Byun Yo Han as Supporting Actor Six Flying Dragons.

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And Six Flying Dragons for Best Histotical drama - spot on. By the 25th episode most dramas tend to slow its momentum and get draggy, this one proceeds full speed ahead, never loses its momentum and continually surprises us at every turn.

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D-Day deserves a nomination for "worst villain". Perfect example of how you should not write your villains ever!

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True. Smh.

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lol yes.

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lol this truth.

It's also a perfect example of how not to write disaster dramas if you want any degree of real-life plausibility (seriously, WHERE was the military, the entire time?)

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lol!

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Yeah, D-Day was both a massive disappointment, considering how ambitious its premise was, and a completely awful show on its own terms, putting aside my initial hopes for it. I felt like the meh writer/PD should have been balanced out by all the time they had to work on it, but in the end it just goes to show that some people are lazy hacks, with or without the live shoot system. Which is pretty depressing, to say the least.

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It was too bad about D-Day, which had a talented cast and a lot of potential.

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I think ur taste is more mainstrem and commercial

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So glad to see Reply 1988 as the best drama. Although I also love Healer. But anyway, Reply 1988 was something. It touched my heart every episode, and makes me jealous of their neighbor relationship.
After reading and saw a lot of PUNCH in honorable mention...now I'm curios and off to watch it!

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Did anybody here watch The Lover? I love that drama so much but I think not many people watch it or even mention it. It's a really really fun drama!

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I did. It was laugh out loud kind of drama but lacked in plot. It was feel good.

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It was a rare drama. I love that each episode got their own plot, not really big over-complicated plot but normal everyday issue plot. For me that drama one of the most strangest, funniest drama of 2015.

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It is strange, indeed. lol. Oh Jung Se is a gem.

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So proud that Park Bo-Gum won 3 awards. Anyone who watched his acting knows how easily it is to be sucked in into his performance, and to sympathize with him whatever character he plays. Wish he was more known before this, but it's great that 2015 was a great year for him. Hoping to see him in more lead roles in the future!

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Great choices! I'd be conflicted over Answer Me 1988 or Healer for best drama too, but while I have a penchant for action thrillers, I'd agree that Answer Me 1988 has a special formula this time around that makes it different from the usual prime time dramas we get. Yay for two great dramas in 2015. 2012 was the last year I'd enjoyed so many different dramas. This year had Mask, Angry Mom, Oh My Ghostess and even surprisingly, Sassy Go Go Go. I need to go add Missing Noir M and Awl on my to-watch list too.

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I love/watched most dramas here. I'm so happy!!!! Rewatching Healer, I remember you, Kill me Heal me, Answer me 1988 and more! for the nth time already! My Life <3

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