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2016 Year in Review, Part 7: Editors’ Picks

Another year has come and gone, and while I am more than happy to put 2016 behind us and look forward to greener pastures in 2017 (they’ll be greener, won’t they?), we can’t say goodbye to the year without looking back at the best of it (and the worst, in some cases) and giving the shows our final year-end salute. Sometimes voting on Editors’ Picks is an emotionally arduous task, full of tiebreaks and heartbreaks, but this year we had the pleasant surprise of consensus for many of our categories. Not to say that the staff was unanimous, but we at least avoided wailing and gnashing of teeth! We hope you’ve enjoyed our year in review series, and will join us in sending off the year. (Good riddance, 2016!) —javabeans

 

2016 Editors’ Picks

 

BEST DRAMA

Signal

girlfriday: Signal was an overwhelming favorite of the year among our staff, and I think that’s because it wasn’t just a dry, cerebral drama—it was addictively paced, emotionally gripping, and genuinely thrilling. In short, it was damn entertaining. We’ve seen many dramas dabble in time travel, but Signal manipulated time in a truly impressive way, telling two parallel stories in different timelines connected through unsolved crimes. What began as a mystery thriller told in an intricate web of past and present clues eventually became a powerful human drama, about three people who were connected by more than just the desire to seek justice. I never would’ve expected one of the year’s most powerful connections to be between two people who could never meet, but the magic of Signal was that it made those few minutes of human connection over a walkie-talkie as ardent and meaningful as any face-to-face. It’s a show that made us believe that if you really wanted to change the past and right wrongs badly enough, that desire could convince the universe to bend time and space and give you a shot.

Honorable Mentions
Dear My Friends

 

BEST DIRECTING

Signal

HeadsNo2: With Misaeng being the runaway directing hit of its time, everyone was looking toward director Kim Won-suk’s next project, and he delivered in a big way with Signal. By simply changing the aspect ratio of the scenes from the past, he was able to differentiate the two time periods by giving one a distinctive look, and in doing so, he was able to seamlessly navigate both past and present—even when they were occurring simultaneously. And the best part of it all is how assured the directing hand was while being practically invisible, since every shot was in service to the story, and every editing choice was made to help the audience experience the immediacy of every scene. The directing put us right in the middle of every moment of pathos, every heart-pounding moment of suspense, and every small triumph made, even if those moments carried consequences that were beyond what our two dedicated detectives could control. But for every thrilling moment there was an emotional center, and the fine directorial balance of all these elements is what made Signal such an unforgettable, resonant, and game-changing ride.

Honorable Mentions
This Week, My Wife Will Have an Affair

 

BEST WRITING

Signal

lovepark: Writer Kim Eun-hee has steadily made a name for herself as the queen of thrillers, and Signal justifies her title. She masterfully crafted a story flowing between two timelines while weaving the lives of the characters in each period as one coherent narrative that never felt haphazardly stitched together. She did not merely tell a tale about a person from the future wanting to fix the past, but depicted the struggle of two officers as they faced the dire consequences of meddling with time while still seeking justice in spite of everything. Without the solid writing, this drama could have easily fumbled and derailed due to the plethora of twists and turns, leaving the story in shambles and the viewers utterly confused. However, the plot constantly remained tight, which was crucial when time itself became a fluid variable in the storytelling. Thus, the writing always felt assured and never lost sight of its message—and the more complex the plot became, the more in control the writer appeared to be.

Honorable Mentions
Dear My Friends
This Week, My Wife Will Have an Affair

 

BEST COMEDY

Jealousy Incarnate

festerfaster: Jealousy Incarnate wasn’t just a funny drama. It was a heart-wrenchingly personal story of two people battling through their weaknesses that kept you laughing through its darkest moments. It annihilated its hero’s vanity, while celebrating the heroine’s determination to face every embarrassment and humiliation head-on. It plumbed the ridiculousness of human foibles to strip its characters of their pretensions, and then hit us with confrontations so raw that it left us bleeding. And through it all, it kept the humor of the situation glaringly alive, so that you chuckled even as your heart ached for Hwa-shin and Na-ri.

He was childish and proud. She bore every indignity with grace and patience. This woman who had never let embarrassment keep her from doing her job was the only one who could weather Hwa-shin’s vitriol and get through to the man behind the wounding words. Some of the hardest laughs the show earned were during intensely poignant moments, when boiling emotions spilled over in hilarious but touching monologues. And oh, how glorious was the comeuppance, and how satisfying the revenge was when prideful Hwa-shin suddenly found that Na-ri had become the center of his petty world.

Honorable Mentions
Shopping King Louis

 

BEST ACTION/THRILLER DRAMA

Signal

murasakimi: There were a number of dramas this year packed with heart-stopping twists and turns, but no other show constantly delivered thrills at the same level as Signal. Each case deftly built on each other, raising the stakes and further intertwining our well-intentioned, yet sometimes powerless, time-benders. In a story filled with complex and deeply troubled villains, none of the many action scenes felt gratuitous in any way. Instead, each moment of horror and tragedy propelled the story forward into more perilous territories. The sporadic and unreliable nature of the transmissions between eras served as an analogy for the almighty Time itself—sometimes saving lives only to take new ones, and at times unfailingly obstinate in overturning (or preventing) the deaths that mattered to our heroes most of all. The real-time consequences for every word that was, and especially what wasn’t, uttered between our main trio resulted in a truly unforgettable and breathless ride.

Honorable Mentions
W—Two Worlds

 

BEST MELODRAMA

Dear My Friends

dramallama: Perhaps a sweeter, lighter-hearted Dear My Friends could have been an equally enjoyable ride, but it would have been a travesty to lose the tragic and beautifully moving stories of our old friends. The carefree, fearless facades of the endearing aunties and uncles were often taken at face value, but never fully realized because age and time would break them down, often leaving them broken and vulnerable. Through Wan’s eyes, we witnessed how the comically irreverent jokes about death and loss were frequently overshadowed by bitter nostalgia, illness, and a yearning for life. They cared and they feared, and so did we. While the melodramatic components of the show evoked intense emotion and many tears, the show remained rooted in the fundamental human connection of family and friendship. I was left with my nose stinging, my eyes watering, and a poignant message that the rare good days lived fully and freely outshine the countless bad days still to come.

Honorable Mentions
On the Way to the Airport

 

BEST HISTORICAL DRAMA

Moonlight Drawn By Clouds

chocolatte: Moonlight Drawn By Clouds wasn’t your traditional sageuk by any means, but that was arguably in its favor—the show’s biggest strength might have been that it knew exactly what it wanted to be, and that it executed its vision on every level. From beginning to end, the show artfully balanced a breezy, youthful vibe with deeper moments of heartfelt emotion; add to that assured writing and directing with brisk pacing, spot-on music, and gorgeous costumes, and you’ve got a show that’s immensely watchable on all fronts.

The adorable romance between Crown Prince Yeong (in an indelible performance by Park Bo-gum) and his cross-dressing eunuch Ra-on certainly drove the show’s momentum. But what made Moonlight particularly special was the way it was able to elevate the relationships of all of its characters, major and minor, and its ability to tell their stories with the same lightness, humor and heart that characterized our central couple. While the show’s plotline dragged a bit in the latter half due to requisite palace politics, Moonlight never lost confidence in its storytelling, making it easy to become wholly immersed and on board with wherever the story chose to take us, right until the very end.

Honorable Mentions
Mirror of the Witch

 

BEST ACTOR

Jo Jin-woong, Signal

Saya: The stoic detective is a perennial staple in dramaland, but rarely has it given us a character quite as heart-wrenching, heroic, and beloved as Lee Jae-han, in a powerful and career-defining performance by Jo Jin-woong. He’s the kind of character I love most, full of desperation and doubt, yet strait-laced and unshakable in his convictions. Jo Jin-woong brought such a raw vulnerability to the role, with an extraordinary ability to pull you right into his moment—all his moments—to feel what he felt. In a case where the character was written extremely well, he could have coasted through without digging deep. But dig deep he did, and it was always the tide of his emotions that set the tone for Signal as a whole. Whether as a bumbling sweetheart, a gruff sunbae, a fiercely competent officer of the law, or a lonely boy’s best friend, our drama cup always, always ran over when Jo Jin-woong was on screen.

Honorable Mentions
Jo Jung-seok, Jealousy Incarnate
Park Bo-gum, Moonlight Drawn By Clouds

 

BEST ACTRESS

Seo Hyun-jin, Oh Hae-young Again

LollyPip: Not only did Seo Hyun-jin throw herself wholeheartedly into the role of “Just” Oh Hae-young, she did so in such a spectacular way that it blew away any preconceived notions we had of her as an actress. Her Hae-young was loud, insecure, demanding, and emotionally aggressive—everything we’ve been conditioned to believe a heroine shouldn’t be. And yet Seo Hyun-jin made Hae-young so infinitely relatable, so heartrendingly lovable, that we couldn’t help but cheer her on, even when she did things that shocked and surprised us. That’s the mark of an incredible actress, one who can take a character that in other hands would be unappealing and even off-putting and make us love her for those very flaws. She even made us love her morose romantic interest, Do-kyung, who could easily have been a character that brought down the show with his gloomy outlook on life. This role marked a turning point in Seo Hyun-jin’s career, and I look forward to seeing more of her unique style of characterization in the years to come.

Honorable Mentions
Kim Hye-soo, Signal
Go Hyun-jung, Dear My Friends

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Lee Kwang-soo, Dear My Friends

odilettante: If you asked me what actor would make me cry the most this year, I never would have guessed that Lee Kwang-soo would have made the top of the list. The “Asian Prince” may have become a household name thanks to his goofy Running Man schtick, and the popular variety show also seems to have solidified him being perpetually typecast as the comedic sidekick. So it was a pleasant surprise to see him take on a new persona in Dear My Friends, where he masterfully showed a more tender side as he portrayed a son caught between his desire to care for his aging mother while also providing for his wife and child. I still have the urge to weep just thinking about that beautifully heartbreaking scene in the movie theater, when Min-ho realized that the responsibilities of mother and child have now reversed. While I love Lee Kwang-soo the comedian, I have a growing affection for Lee Kwang-soo the dramatic actor, and hope that his small-but-memorable role in Dear My Friends will convince casting directors that there’s more to this lanky actor than his ability to make us laugh.

Honorable Mentions
Kang Haneul, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Kim Hye-ja, Dear My Friends

awcoconuts: It’s hard to single out one supporting member from the remarkable cast of Dear My Friends, but Kim Hye-ja deserves special recognition for her vulnerable and raw performance as Hee-ja, and her deft portrayal of a woman slipping deeper into the throes of dementia. Kim’s no stranger to acting awards, having won numerous Daesangs for her work in television and several Best Actress accolades for her films. We knew she was going to be good, but she was breathtakingly so in Dear My Friends, which seemed the perfect vehicle to display the esteemed actress’s range. She was so many things in the drama: a mother, a child, a widow, a grandmother, and a friend, and the camera loved to zoom in on the myriad of emotions that would flit across her beautiful, expressive face. She was asked to be at once stubbornly independent but needy, maternal but childlike, confused but with moments of deep clarity, sorrowful yet loving—and boy, did she step up to the task.

Honorable Mentions
Park Eun-bin, Age of Youth
Song Yoon-ah, The K2

 

BEST ENSEMBLE

Age of Youth

mary: Ask a group of people who their favorite character from Age of Youth was, and you’ll get different answers (if not some bargaining to let them choose two—no, three!—all at once.) It’s rare to have a show where each girl gets her own spotlight without seeming too episodic, but Age of Youth managed it beautifully, thanks to well fleshed-out characters that felt like they’d been picked from your own circle of friends and acquaintances, then dumped into a boarding house to fight over jam or beat up each other’s boyfriends as the situation required.

On paper, it’s a wonder that these girls got along at all, but that was exactly the show’s appeal. We liked and knew these girls individually, but we got even more excited when they were together, because we knew they were going to make every single thing an adventure. (And an exercise in patience and diplomacy.) Watching this show felt like Harry Potter seeing the Weasley house for the first time: mismatched parts thrown haphazardly together, perhaps appearing on the verge of falling apart, yet somehow all working together with a rambunctious charm. You can’t help but guess that it was glued together by magic.

Honorable Mentions
Dear My Friends
Police Unit 38

 

BEST ROMANCE

Moonlight Drawn By Clouds, Park Bo-gum & Kim Yoo-jung

girlfriday: This is always a competitive category when dramaland’s bread and butter is the swoonworthy romance—there are no shortages of grand gestures and self-sacrificing noble loves around here. But Moonlight Drawn By Clouds wins Best Romance this year, not for having the hottest kisses, but because it was the most romantic in the sweeping, idealistic, fairytales-come-true sense of the word. In this love story, it didn’t matter if you were man or woman, prince or pauper (or eunuch)—love had no status, it had no gender, and it didn’t give a rat’s patootie about the patriarchy. Take that, Confucius.

While the romance in Moonlight did sacrifice lives and kingdoms in the classic way, it was really the charming everyday hijinks of a prince falling in love with his crossdressing eunuch that won us over, one cheeky wink at a time. Because when the love itself defies the social order, you don’t actually need to put a kingdom on the line to feel the drama—it’s already there in every stolen gaze, and every utterance of the words “my person.”

Honorable Mentions
Descended From the Sun
1% of Anything

 

BEST BROMANCE

Descended From the Sun

tineybeanie: The witty banter and adorable romance between the Song-Song couple was delightful to watch, but the funniest scenes from Descended From the Sun—hands down—were the ones that captured the deep bromance between Song Joong-ki and Jin Gu. Their playful antics and mischievous dynamic reminded me of the relationship between me and my bestie: always full of laughter and inside jokes.

Big Boss and Wolf deserve Best Bromance of the Year for being such a loyal pair through thick (like being imprisoned in terrorist cells) and thin (going to an amusement park dateless but together), and everything in-between. Despite their differences in background, it felt like Jin Gu and Song Joong-ki were two peas in a pod who were always on the same wavelength. C’mon, you know it’s a true bromance when a friendship gets hostile girlfriends to go from arch-rivals to innocuous frenemies.

Honorable Mentions
Police Unit 38
Moonlight Drawn By Clouds

 

BEST GIRLFRIENDS

Age of Youth

SailorJumun: Living in a house with four very different girls is certainly no piece of cake, but when everything comes tumbling down around you, it’s always nice to have a group of girlfriends waiting for you at home. At first glance, the young girls residing in Belle Epoque house were nothing more than roommates tolerating each other. However, it only took one can of beer or one mention of a cute boy to perk everyone’s ears up and round them all up for some good ol’ bonding. Though all the girls differed in look and personality, they were able to come together seamlessly, as if they were already sisters at heart. And that’s what girlfriends are for: to be the annoying yet lovable sister you never knew you wanted. These girls did it all—they bickered, they fought, they stole each other’s food—but if anyone needed an emergency makeover or first date advice, there was always someone there for them.

Honorable Mentions
Dear My Friends

 

BEST CHARACTER

Kang Chul, W—Two Worlds

CandidClown: Who better to take home Best Character than an actual character? And not just that, but a manhwa hero with free will so strong that he defied his fate and literally brought the entire world to a halt in his search for the truth. Pretty badass.

From his first introduction, Kang Chul was just so fascinatingly faceted. He was the manhwa hero, the swoony romantic lead, the vengeful son of a murdered family, the disillusioned mortal confronting his own creator, and finally, a creator himself, manipulating both worlds to fashion his own ending. And at the center of all that was a young man desperately trying to prove that he had a say in his own fate, that his choices meant something. He brought to life the question we all face when considering the concept of fate: What do you do when it doesn’t matter what you do?

As a hero who was not only great to watch and exhilarating to root for, Kang Chul reminded us of the free will we take for granted each and every day. Who knows, maybe the Drama Gods DO exist, and this is all leading to the next episode. Anyone see a chyron anywhere…?

Honorable Mentions
Crown Prince Yeong, Moonlight Drawn By Clouds
Lee Hwa-shin, Jealousy Incarnate

 

BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE (Actor)

Kwak Dong-yeon, Moonlight Drawn By Clouds

awcoconuts: As a former child actor, he may have more years under his belt than some of his contemporaries, but Kwak Dong-yeon in his turn as the crown prince’s bodyguard in Moonlight Drawn by Clouds—well, he had me at his gat. It wasn’t just that he looked the part (damn did he wear those long locks well), but he swashbuckled his way into my heart as the stoic and steadfast defender of the future king. Sure, it was a cool role (He flew! And was a badass fighter! And could sew!), but bag o’ tricks aside, I was enamored with Kwak Dong-yeon’s portrayal of the humorless Byung-yeon, and I melted when a smile or a joke would slip through his gruff exterior. I appreciated his character arc, and I loved that, though his loyalties were tested, he managed to stay true to himself in the end. Kwak also brought a dignity to Byung-yeon that made me forget his youth (and his performance as a goofy boy-bander in Modern Farmer). Praise Gat for giving him this role!

Honorable Mentions
Jinyoung, Moonlight Drawn By Clouds
Gong Myung, Drinking Solo

 

BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE (Actress)

Kim Go-eun, Cheese in the Trap

HappilyEverAfter: With the fervently protective following that Cheese in the Trap amassed from its webtoon origins, anyone cast for the role of Hong Seol would’ve faced the pressure of some pretty high expectations. It’s a good thing, then, that Kim Go-eun stepped up to the challenge and managed to make Seol such an endearing introvert. Our heroine’s perpetually frazzled state (especially around Jung) was hilarious and adorable, and Kim Go-eun managed to strike a balance between Seol’s cute awkwardness and her tendency to anxiously brood, allowing viewers to empathize with every frustrating moment while still loving her nevertheless. The fact that Seol’s transformation (from the initially passive doormat who held everything in to someone who stood up for herself when her classmates tried to take advantage of her again) was so excitingly relatable was in large part due to Kim’s ability to make the viewer feel Seol’s growing exasperation. While the drama itself veered off-course towards the latter half, Kim’s portrayal of Seol really brought her into the limelight of dramaland, and it looks like she’ll be keeping it up with her follow-up role in Goblin.

Honorable Mentions
Heo Jung-eun, Oh My Geum-bi
Minah, Beautiful Gong Shim

 

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo

murasakimi: You could fill a room with Moon Lovers viewers worldwide, and each person will tell you a different reason for why the show never really lived up to its potential. Some might place all the fault on IU, others might blame the convoluted storytelling, or directing, or music. Perhaps Moon Lovers’s greatest source of disappointment was the extraordinary extent to which it failed to be the sum of its many (both good and bad) parts, and its stubborn refusal to offer its viewers any sort of payoff at the end. There could be eighteen special follow-up episodes that epically conclude So and Soo’s story, but they would never be able to explain why the show could not redeem its love story gone wrong in the twenty episodes it had. Maybe we all just need to wait for the re-re-recut special director’s anniversary version to finally watch this drama be what it could have been.

Honorable Mentions
Cheese in the Trap

 

BEST VILLAIN

No Face, W—Two Worlds

Saya: W—Two Worlds did a lot of things in a way they’d never been done in dramaland before. But perhaps its most startling offering was the actually faceless villain, who took us deep into a world of complex existential questions: What happens when a character becomes sentient to their fictional nature, but exists only as a plot device for the hero’s development? What if the villain takes control of the narrative? Can the villain stop being a villain? What happens after he fulfills his purpose? Part of what made No Face so radical was how different in concept he was, and how he constantly kept evolving—I mean, he literally evolved, and I surely was not the only one scared crapless when it happened.

Unlike the hero’s struggle for self-determination against the presets of his character, No Face was driven by the singular need to fulfill them. His meta-awareness and capabilities pushed the boundaries of villainy as we know it in a really fascinating way and ultimately left us wondering: Is the villain a villain at all, or just a tragic victim of bad writing?

Honorable Mentions
Hong-joo, Mirror of the Witch

 

BIGGEST WASTE OF TALENT

Ji Sung, Entertainer

SailorJumun: Of all the dramas we were given this year, this is the one that made me pause and wonder, “Why are you here?” Entertainer wasn’t the worst thing to happen to 2016—in fact, it was a relatively okay drama. But Ji Sung is far more than just an “okay” actor, which made his presence in the drama feel so misplaced that it was actually jarring. He blew all our socks off with his stellar performance in last year’s Kill Me, Heal Me, so his choice to follow that up with this role as a cocky talent agent felt like a huge step backward. Though the promotions insisted with all their might that Ji Sung was the big main character, his storyline as the has-been agent slowly gaining a heart wasn’t as compelling as the cute, heartfelt relationships happening on the sidelines. Because Ji Sung is Ji Sung, he did what he could with what little he was given, but at the end of each episode, there was still too little to care about.

Honorable Mentions
Lee Jun-ki, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo

 

BEST ADAPTATION OR REMAKE

The Good Wife

odilettante: Adaptions are nothing new when it comes to dramaland—manga, novels, and trendy webtoons are all popular sources, as well as original dramas from other Asian countries—but this year marked the first time an American television show has made the leap to Korean dramas. While it can be difficult to fathom how seven seasons of the hit American show The Good Wife could possibly be condensed into a sixteen-episode drama format, somehow it was done, and done well. Despite not having the same amount of time to focus on character growth, especially for the more secondary characters, the main thread which made the original series so successful was also present in the adaption. It was a stylish take on a legal procedural drama, possessed incredible acting talent that made the sometimes unlikable characters so relatable (and sexy!), and also had a certain fearlessness when it came to societal taboos. To be fair, the Korean version predominately took plots and episodic arcs from the first three American seasons, but that just means there’s still plenty left to adapt. (Hint hint to any potential tvN executives who might be reading this.)

Honorable Mentions
Moonlight Drawn By Clouds
1% of Anything
This Week, My Wife Will Have an Affair

 

WORST MOTHER OF THE YEAR

Park Ji-young, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo

HeadsNo2: There’s no denying that there were a lot of bad mothers in dramaland this/every year, and if Queen Sinmyeongsunseong took the cake, it’s only because she’d shove it into her son’s face at the first opportunity (if the cake were filled with nails). Here is her list of terrible, horrible, no good accomplishments: Irrevocably scarring her son at a tender age? Check. Using him for target practice? Check. Exiling him in the hopes that he’d die and never come back? Check. Repeatedly putting him in life-threatening situations? Check. Constantly plotting for his demise? Check. Never sparing an ounce of love or kindness for him? Check. Never even baseline tolerating his presence? Double check. Using manipulation tactics to mercilessly warp the inexplicable love he had for her against him? Check. Even when she had no reason to? Check. Even though she only wanted a son on the throne and got one, but he wasn’t her “favorite” son? Double check. Hating him so extremely for reasons we will never know? Triple quadruple check. Seriously, this lady was the worst.

Honorable Mentions
Eric’s Mom, Oh Hae-young Again

 

BEST AFFAIR

The Good Wife

chickachunga: When your love triangle is composed of Jeon Do-yeon, Yoo Ji-tae, and Yoon Kye-sang, it’s no wonder The Good Wife gave us the year’s most sizzling love triangle and hurt our heads as we tried to decide between suitors. But while Yoo was undeniably hot as the bad boy we couldn’t help be attracted to, his smolder was no match for the sincerity of the Other Man: It was impossible not to root for Jeon’s relationship with Yoon, who harbored a longtime puppy-dog crush since his school days and was sweetly terrible at hiding how much he cared for her at work. It was clear from the start that he believed in her potential as an attorney, and he became the pillar of strength she needed when her husband’s scandal threatened to erode her confidence, which made theirs an affair we could get behind, despite the whole adultery part of it. Their too-hot-for-words elevator kiss scene is one for the books, and even though affairs are “bad,” theirs was so, so unequivocally good.

Honorable Mentions
On the Way to the Airport

 

MOST EGREGIOUS MISCASTING

IU, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo

javabeans: What strikes me about IU in Moon Lovers is that I became suddenly aware of gaping weaknesses in her acting performance, although I’ve been watching her act for years and had thought her one of the more talented idol-turned-actresses in the industry. I didn’t feel she’d suddenly lost skills or forgotten how to act; rather, I belatedly realized how particularly well-cast she’d been in the past. After all, the art of casting is all about playing matchmaker between a project and its actors, finding the best fit of strengths, not just getting high-scorers on the acting aptitude test. Dream High and The Producers made great use of IU’s talents, allowing her to shine while covering any flaws she may have had so that we weren’t aware of them. Moon Lovers did something remarkable in casting badly in almost every role, but particularly misfired with its narrative and emotional center, the heroine. Not only was she shown to disadvantage by this director’s style (extreme close-ups aren’t moving when they lack expressive range) and this writer’s characterization (poorly developed and weakly expressed), she wasn’t given a chance to do any of the things she’s actually good at—immersing herself emotionally into a performance and stirring empathy, for instance. (It’s hard to empathize with a herky-jerky plot!) It’s like an example of anti-casting, where the heroine and drama match-up only showed each other at their worst, marring our memories of when they were both so much better.

Honorable Mentions
Suzy, Uncontrollably Fond

 

BEST FIRST HALF OF DRAMA

W—Two Worlds

gummimochi: If there ever was a drama that would turn the supernatural genre on its head this year, it was W—Two Worlds, which immediately captivated viewers with its mind-bending inter-dimensional premise that blurred the lines between fiction and reality. As the drama unfolded, a suspenseful, taut narrative drove each episode forward, making us question who was in control of this story: Was it the manhwa creator, his creation come to life, or something else entirely? Each crossover taught us something new about the rules of these worlds that made our heads spin with excitement.

…in the first half. But as we headed into the latter half anticipating answers, more arbitrary variables were tossed in through the narrative portal one by one, seemingly at whim, and those same rules we had once thought mind-blowing became fluid and senseless. What started off crisp and strong became confusing, making it a befuddled and perplexing watch to the finish. And yet, the excitement and inventiveness of the first half makes it hard to dismiss this show on account of its flaws, however major, which is why it deserves an award, even if it’s only for half the drama.

Honorable Mentions
Cheese in the Trap

 

SLEEPER HIT OF THE YEAR

Age of Youth

Laica: I was excited when this show was announced, eager to see a story about female friendship by acclaimed writer Park Yeon-sun (Alone in Love, White Christmas), but promotions were sparse, and it seemed doomed to fly under the radar. It had a slice-of-life, indie vibe and some characters who were difficult to understand, but week by week, this show took those opaque characters and subtly peeled layer after layer of armor and posturing away from them, until we knew these five women like our own close girlfriends—secrets, warts, and all. Fittingly, it was a study in the kind of awkward first impressions that perfectly personify the start of college. This was the little drama that could, quietly gathering love and ratings as it built to a powerful crescendo. By growing its fanbase and acclaim purely through its own merit, it proved itself week by week and emerged as this year’s surprise hit.

Honorable Mentions
Shopping King Louis
Oh Hae-young Again

 

WORST CHARACTER

Young-bin, Entourage

javabeans: I could go on and on about why Seo Kang-joon’s Young-bin character was a shitty person, but really, what made Entourage such a dud was that he was, above all, a shitty character. I’ve seen any number of terrible people make for interesting characters in dramaland, but being a terrible character is an entirely smellier kettle of fish.

As the movie star around which the rest of the cast orbited, Young-bin was Entourage’s center in one sense, but not in the most important one: emotionally (or psychologically, or even just plain logically). One could argue that he was only one-half of the center of the show (with his friend-manager Ho-jin being the character we actually identified with), but there’s no way around the fact that we could never connect with his character, who was cavalier and reckless and oddly blasé about the career he didn’t seem to care about, which everybody else in his life ran around working their rears off to save. He displayed exasperating flashes of stubbornness, a hot temper, and a perplexing nonchalance that seemed to follow no reasonable logic, which essentially reduced him to a plot mechanism—one whose capriciousness moved story for everyone else, but wasn’t rooted in internal character logic. He was the grab bag of conflicts that the producers dipped into whenever they needed a new twist, which was a lazy writing tactic and a waste of a role. If the show didn’t care enough to make him a real character, how were we expected to care about him either? *crickets*

Honorable Mentions
Shim Bo-nui, Lucky Romance

 
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Agree with everything on this list and also the honorable mentions. YAS especially for signal getting best writing directing and best drama and best actor- much deserved I give all my flowers to you.

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Yeah, truly and definitely Signal is the best drama of this year but I love Moonlight Drawn by Clouds more because of its simplicity to catch everyone per episode. Hoping next year to have a good drama to watch out for!

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I am so ready to see Park Bo-gum grow more as an actor in the coming years because that boy is so damn good. I just hope his agency doesn't strap him in typical rom-coms now that he is a full-pledged leading man.

I know he is KBS's beloved son but man, KBS produces some shitty dramas so I hope he tries to jump stations next year.

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Hmm could he jump straight back into TVN's arms? *wags eyebrows* But more than the station or genre I just want 3 things for him

1. Good writer
2. Good director
3. Great producers

oh yes, and also, great on-set relations/atmosphere.

I can't wait for 2017 and Park Bo Gum ❣

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Both are truly my favorite dramas of the year, but Moonlight Drawn by Clouds has my heart because I was there with our prince and his beloved eunuch in their emotional journey, I felt for their every happiness, sorrow, heartache and dilemma. This is definitely a drama I will remember for a long, long time.

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Wow, looks like I definitely need to watch Signal? But I think I read on a DB thread that it had a crappy ending/pointless death at the end? I can't stand crappy endings and can no longer find the thread to confirm :(

I'm the type to not be able to stand a poor ending - if it's bad, the entire drama would be ruined for me (which is why I haven't watched W!)

I don't mind bittersweet or tragic endings that make sense in terms of the story, but if something illogical happens and the ending is just random or open, those drive me nuts.

Can someone help a fellow beanie out? Is it worth watching still?

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Oh please do. The ending wasn't crappy but more of an open ending that's signalling a sequel. If you like a thriller, this is a must-watch. Signal is very gratifying.

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Typically I don't like thrillers so I was hoping this could be my gateway. I HATE open endings though ><;; I've been recommending Signal to friends who generally don't like Kdramas though, even if I haven't personally watched it ahahaha.

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I am finally watching Signal. It is soooooo good.

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I haven't watched Signal yet, I hope to get into it after I sob through Dear My Friends next year, but I'll trust the DB staff on this one.

For me too Moonlight Drawn By Clouds is my favorite this year, I do love it the mostest. Objectively it is not the best drama, but some scenes, some words from the drama, the emotions, reactions, the chemistry *jeezus*, Lee Yeong .. are simply the best.
I went back to the final recap and read through again some of the fans' favorite lines from the drama and its like falling in love with the same drama for second time again.

From the editors' picks I'm thankful for recognition to:
- W
- On The Way To The Airport
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds
- Kwak Dong Yeon
- Jinyoung
- No-Face (ha!)
- Cheese In The Trap first half
- Kang Chul
- Lee Yeong
- Park Bogum
- Yeong & Ra On (YeongOn) romance
- Descended's Boss & Wolf bromance
- The figurative moonlight drawn by the clouds - our Crown Prince Lee Yeong & his faithful Bodyguard Byung Hyun's bromance.

My take away from reading this editor's picks is that I need to add The Good Wife to my drama queue since it beat out Airport in Best Affair category. I'm really curious to see how they beat my precious but adulterous couple, Airport & Hanriver. Just HOW did they do it? Lol, just kidding.

My ,i>real take away is that I so agree with the editor's picks for all the dramas I watched and/or read recaps of, and I'm convinced to see the sense even for the ones I didn't watch but only heard/read about, (only thing is I could add a couple more to the Worst Character picks IMO), all in all THANK YOU drama beans staff for always and mostly having the best words, the best insight, the best recaps, the best feeling of enjoyment of dramas right alongside your readers. Dramabeans, Mansae!!

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Every choice I mostly am in sync with. But Kang Chul as best character... that's bizzare to me (emphasize: to ME) because he was such a... character. As in I never got the impression he was ever a real person. It always stood out to me that unlike HHJ's character who felt very human, Chul was too much of a caricature to be relatable. Maybe it's a million other things but I couldn't connect with W because the male lead just never resonated with me. Oh well, I must be the odd one out which is okay by me.

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Agreed. Well put.

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well both 2 character is not relatable to begin with for me. No wonder the acting is so uneven. They are human after all, who already feel it when the character is not well written

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Hi :) Just asking, why do you shit on Lee Jong Suk all the time? I read some of your incredulous bashes here and in Koala and it always makes me curious.
Even when you are low-key shading as in the above comment.......is this necessary?

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well this time i actually bash the writers.

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As a character( literally BTW), Kang Chul resonated with me the strongest coz I interpreted him as a manga character instead of a real person .....that's why I agree with DB on this one
Props to LJS coz this was indeed a demanding role

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I agree, Mandy. This was a really odd choice to me for similar reasons. In what way was he a better character than ... say... the main male lead in Jealousy Incarnate, such an unusual character and so strongly acted? Or the main female character in Oh Hae Young Again? Perhaps my criteria for a well-written and fully-fledged character is different than the editor's.

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I actually thought it was an apt choice, because Kang Chul was truly a character of its own, a damn good character that fight for his existence.

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Totally the apt choice, maryxiah. Kang Chul's character had me in awe of W. Kang Chul in essence is W. The character was groundbreaking to me, cant argue with this editor's choice - its perfect

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+100000000
Totally agree, he weirdly stayed 2D for me throughout the whole entire thing. If they wanted to create a webtoon character in a drama, they succeeded but if they wanted to then turn this figure on a paper into a 3D character then.. idk, didn't work for me at least.

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I share your thoughts. While the premise itself was interesting, the writing nor the portrayal of Kangchul weren't memorable. The villain in W was much more interesting and engaging.
For me, best character means someone who's written with depth and enriched and elevated by the portrayal of the actor. Lee Hwashin (JI) fits that bill. As do Prince Yeong (MDBC), Geum bi and Bokju, too.

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Thank you for all the reviews and effort put into creating them. All the reviews are really helpful and fun to read. For next year, would it be possible to get a single consolidated list of like the top 10 must watch dramas of 2017? It could be based off the Bean Count or the results from the reviews. This is just a thought; thanks for your consideration.

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2016's list would definitely be (my conclusion as per DB year end's review posts),

1.Signal
2.Dear My Friends
3.Age Of Youth
4.Oh Hae Young Again
5.My Wife's Having An Affair This Week
6.The Good Wife
7.Moonlight Drawn By Clouds
8.Mirror Of The Witch
9.Jealousy Incarnate
10.Marriage Contract

from which more than half of them I've been watching from last few days.

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SUGGESTIONS for YEAR IN REVIEW:
- rather than have a list of dramas recappers choose for the year, why not have a list of all the dramas that all the recappers watched for the year? why?
(1) only 1 blurb for each drama (no need to read 10 blurbs of why 1 drama ie signal is the greatest thing since sliced bread because there are entries for public polls as well as editor picks); and if 1 drama was watched by a lot of recappers just do a draw of who will write it to be fair
(2) this method would list most dramas for the year, even the ones not covered on the site so this is more comprehensive in terms of reviewing dramas for said year as well as a sort of promo for those dramas not recapped but someone somewhere watched

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Agreed with this! Not that your writings become boring, but with this we can see more opinions mentioning other dramas too.

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Further elaboration (though, I'm sure it's not needed): I really put a lot of stock into the recaps and reviews on Dramabeans because I don't have time to watch as many dramas as I would like. For me, it would be helpful to have a convenient list of dramas that were most significant. This way, I could at least enjoy the winners throughout the following year.

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(3) and perhaps for editor picks, for each categories have a top 3 picks and all with written blurbs? this would probably divide the entry into a few parts though because it would be quite long...

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I started watching Signal just 2 weeks ago and I wonder why I didn't watch it back then. Daebakest drama of the year!
Whoah! IU bested Suzy! Hehe.
Seriously there's a lot of good dramas this year.
Thanks for all those recapa dramabeans!
Happy new year to all!

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Exactly my thought when I was marathoning Signal during Christmas vacation. I was awe-struck and addicted to the pacing and couldn't get enough, you could just imagine how empty I felt when Signal ended. But never too late to discover a great drama!

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I actually watched it during half-way of its run but due to the results today I marathon-ed it again 😂☺️

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Finish it, neener! You have New Year's holiday right? What a better way to spend it other than finishing up old drama?! Lol.

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Guess I have to go watch Signal now...and honestly Kang Chul was a fan girl's dream come true (literally).

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And he had even the viewers (MEEEEEEEE) fan-girling too. Gosh.

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Im so torn about who should get best new actor this year at KBS. Jin Young did outstanding job, took us by suprised. KDY is so hot. Onew was very memorable.

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I was actually rooting for Jin-young to win because he really took me by surprise and this was my first time watching him. I will definitely look forward to his future projects.

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Moonlight drawn by clouds!!

My YeongOn feels....
miss them....

anyway #GetWellSoonYooJung #CheerUpKimYooJung

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SIGNAL is jjang... the best of them all...
truly deserves all the love...

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I miss YeongOn so much too! >_< I wish YeongOn could get special stage on KBS Drama Award. *pouty lips*

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my favorite drama couple in a long time, and 2016's best

Yeong x Ra on ❤ ❤

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Signal is 😍😍😍

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I can't wait to feel like this next year. Or should I drop everything and just start watching now, I feel like I'm in for a mind-blowing experience on par with how I felt watching W for the first time

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I have been watching dramas since 5 years and have been with DB since 3 years but this is the first time where I have sticked with DB's each and every post all year. So technically I can relate to this years editor's picks abd awards more than any other. Thank you so much DB for providing me a platform to discuss my love for kdramas with so many amazing people when only a few people around me watch them.

I am glad that JI got best comedy and JJS got an honorary mention and I am still bummed that I have yet to see the two most mentioned dramas, AOY and Signal yet. Totally agree with LKS as asupporting character, one of the reasons why I left the left the show, it hit home and was so emotionally realistic that I just couldn't see him cry anymore at realizing how his mom is getting old. I still think there was better bromance in PU38, Wife and JI (even though it turned into a love triangle fight their bromance remained and was also natural), than DOTS. But all the awards are well given and well deserved.

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Big yes to Signal for sweeping the awards - whoever haven't watched this, you have to! I even convinced my friend who is a guy and never watched Kdrama to watch this and he marathoned it in 2 days because it was that good.

In saying that though, I personally would give Best Actor Award this year to Jo Jung Suk. This guy can convey so many range of emotions with his eyes alone and he can make me laugh and cry at the same time (oh that bra scene with the mom). Not saying that Jo Jin Woong is a bad actor (in fact, he is brilliant and long-overdue for recognition) but it's just JJS is able to convey more range in JI due to the drama's genre.

Also agree with @wapz - Police Squad 38 has way better bromance.

And I wish there are 2 more awards this year:

BEST MOM - Lee Mi Sook and Park Ji Young (yep just give all the mom awards to her because she knocked them all out of the ballpark)

BEST SHORT DRAMA - Splish Splash Love (even though it's short, I still rank it as my top 3 drama this year after Signal and JI)

And last but not least, I would forever vote Dramabeans as BEST DRAMA BLOG because you guys made my drama watching experience better by tenfold! Thank you guys for the hard work.

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Yes to Best Short Drama - Splash Splash Love. Quick! Someone makes this a long drama and recruit Kim Seul-gi and Yoon Do-joon! I need them on my screen asap.

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And I would say the same for Lee Seon-kyun for his role in This Week My Wife Will Have an Affair. He conveyed being madly in love to having murder in his heart and everything in between.

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I really was hoping for a tie between the two, but if I had to pick, I would also give the award to Jo Jung-seok. Jo Jin-woong gave a powerhouse performance, one that remained unrivalled for me all year. But I have long lamented how comedic acting is often not given the same recognition as dramatic acting. And in JI, JJS gave such a hilariously vulnerable performance. He took scenes that could have been forgettable and ran with them, made them come to life and shine. Jo Jin-woong elevated every wonderful scene he was in...but there was just something more fascinating about watching all the little things Jo Jung-seok would do to keep me replaying scenes over and over and over.

But the ultimate tipping factor for me, that makes his performance undoubtedly the best of the year is his ability to reduce his audience to a state where they aren't sure whether they are crying or laughing anymore. I have a hard time thinking of other performances that displayed such a one-of-a-kind talent. Now I can only hope he'll get the chance to display these skills again soon.

I actually wanted Lee Jae-han as Best Character (only because I had this feeling Lee Hwa-shin would only get a nod anyway). I'm a tad underwhelmed by the winner of that category because, despite finding Kang-chul fascinating at points, I never loved or cared for him in the way I cared for several characters this year, even the less memorable ones.

GF said it accurately in her Review though: This year yielded a lot of different favorites across the board and, as a result, I'm not completely satisfied with all the picks this year and yet satisfied because I do get the appeal of those shows.

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Signal was indeed a great drama but I just can't shake off this thing in my head that I'm not completely satisfied because a lot of things were not explained. It's minor, really, but it's not complete. I was honestly let down in the last episode. The directing though, is hands down the best I've seen this year. The story wouldn't have worked out as well as it did if the directing wasn't THIS quality.

Ahhh Lee Kwangsoo... I teared up just reading that portion. I ugly cried so many times during his scenes and I haven't even finished the drama yet!

I'm still quite upset that Dragons didn't get as much credit as it deserved because it aired in an awkward time frame. Last year, people were wary about giving it credits because well it's not over yet but it just didn't count this year. It's the best drama of 2016 for me.

Thank you to all the dramabeans staff and beanies for another awesome year of kdrama love and discussions. Here's to more worthwhile dramas in the new year!

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I think the Signal writer purposefully let things go unexplained so it could be continued on for season 2 *crosses fingers-PleaseDramaGods*
I had to explain to my family (who were also in an outrage that she just ended it like that LOL) that she was definitely thinking of making another season because there was NO WAY IN HELL they could just leave it like that. ;___;

Also, 10000% agree with you on 6FDragons. Best drama for me too. But yeah, it's iffy cause of when it aired :( Though, I think SBS did give it some awards last year.

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Yep. Definitely because of a Season 2. But honestly speaking, I don't think it will be possible. I badly want it to happen too but it's not very plausible. There's also a risk of ruining the whole thing. That's why I don't like sequels so much. Only a few of them actually turn out good. That could just be me being negative though. lol

They did get awards from SBS and some of the actors received something from other drama ceremonies.

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Actually about Signal Season 2, the writer has stated that once she is finished with the sageuk she is writing she will start writing of the second season of Signal.

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Signal deserves the honors. Salute to the team behind it!

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Preconceived notion about Seo Hyun-jin as an actress?! LOL I doubt most people ever had any because she was awesome from the very first drama she starred and, having watched most of her dramas, OHY is even not her best performance though she was great in it too! Her best till date is King's Daughter Seo Baek Hyuang.

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It took way too long for dramaland to acknowledge her talents. She was always good way before OHY but sageuk is not everyone's cup of tea.

Maybe someday Jeon Hye-bin will get her turn. She is so underrated and still stuck in 2nd lead it hurts.

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I love King's Daughter. I agree she was fantastic in that.

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Esp. since SHJ played a similar role in "Let's Eat 2" - which was the better romcom overall.

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I completely agree with you. Overhyped Another Ms. Oh is considered a sleeper hit here.

Age of Youth flopped in ratings and both writer+ actors felt disappointed.

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I first noticed her in The 3 Musketeers, (which I loved and was disappointed that they ended it so abruptly and didn't do the next 2 in the series.) She was awesome in the role of the queen Yoon-Seo, who loved her husband, (played by Lee Jin-Wook) but also had a fondness for her first love--Park Dal-Hyang.

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I can't agree more that THE KING'S DAUGHTER, SU BAEK-HYANG is Seo Hyun-jin's best role to date of the ones I've seen, mainly because of the breadth and depth of character development and evolution that occurs in 108 episodes. Over the course of time she ends up playing multiple nuanced roles: country bumpkin, unni, filial daughter, tavern waitress, soldier, undercover spy, lady-in-waiting, palace security, dancer, and princess's double -- in addition to her on-the-job and off-duty personas hanging out with her brothers-in-arms from Kimun. Plus conflicted lovebird with the crown prince (Jo Hyun-jae). All while growing from an orphaned young farm girl into the legendary Centennial Flower, Protector of Baekje.

Her wonderful performance is due in part to the terrific ensemble cast she worked so well with, and partly because of the memorable characters who populate this tale of underdog perseverance penned by writer Hwang Jin-young. Not to mention her own considerable acting chops. Two of the most heartbreaking death scenes I've ever witnessed were between her and Yoon Tae-young as her deaf mute step-father, but in truth all of their interactions from the time she started playing the young Seol-nan were sublime. Her ability to empathize with the paranoid King Suni-mun of Gaya (portrayed by the excellent Kim Young-jae) was believably redemptive. The warmth that flowed between her and Lee Jae-ryong as King Muryeong and his adorable young queen (Im Se-mi) was noteworthy.

I fell in love with her in this role, and have made it a point to live watch OH HAE-YOUNG AGAIN and ROMANTIC DOCTOR, TEACHER KIM to see what she has up her sleeve. I have not been disappointed. Like another of my favorite actors, Jang Hyuk, she immerses herself in her roles and goes all out, even when it means appearing as less than perfect. A hothouse flower she is not. She delivered the goods in fight scenes that looked convincing, and still has me wanting to see her don armor again. Also like Jang Hyuk and Lee Jun-Gi, she deftly conveys nuanced emotion with her eyes and body language.

Oops. I seem to have been preaching to the choir again. ;-)

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You should submit a Why You Should Watch entry about this show! You've given such a wonderful rec here.

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Thanks, Momo!

It would be great to have a Why You Should Watch for KDSBH. I don't know how to make the screen cap thingies, and don't want to promise what I can't deliver. Old IRL dog, new tricks. Currently under the weather. But if there were a collaborator or two... Hmmm.

If a WYSW for KDSBH does come to pass, I surely hope it's organized by episode, like DB recaps. Otherwise it'll be one huge mishmash.

When I started binge-watching on HULU months after the show started, I eventually discovered the SBH forum on Soompi. After catching up with the broadcast, I live-watched during the last month or so of the show's run, and became an avid discussion participant. Met a bunch of really great fan girls and guys, and truly dedicated recappers and translators of hanja. We all went collectively bonkers during the preemptions by the Sochi Olympics that chopped off 12 episodes. Good times nonetheless.

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i agree with all the editors' picks.. hahaha.. SIGNAL is totally the best drama this year..
who knows, TVN can produce a very good thriller drama..ahahhaa..
as for moonlovers, i think, the problems lies in the story.. it seems like, they try to match the story / history in the chinese novel to korean history,, which is, it makes the story not related at all..
since it is an adaptation of the chinese novel, i think, the chinese drama version is better than the kdrama.
in chinese drama "bu bu jin xin", the story is woven well.. i even find my self addicted to it although it is a 40 episodes drama..
so, can you imagine if a 40 episodes drama become a 20 episodes drama? how can you explain all the events, the depth of each character? the royal politics? etc... 20 episodes is too short and seems to be forced to put in korean history.. hahahha..

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Man, it looks like I have to get to watching Signal. I've been hearing great things about it all year round but for some reason, have STILL not gotten to watching it.

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Also would like to add that I found Mirror of the Witch to be a better sageuk than MDBTC. I enjoyed both shows but Mirror of the Witch was just so much more intriguing to me (possibly because of the fantasy aspect which was so well done) as opposed to MDBTC which lost my interest after a while. Maybe there should have been a best fantasy category! :)

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I also thought the same. But maybe that's just because I'm getting tired with all that cross-dressing trope. And also, Mirror was delightfully dark.

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There are many dramas this year but MDBC held special place in my heart. Everything about this. The cast is so young 17, 19, 22, 24, 25 yet doing a beautiful job. Im so happy to witness the beginning of their career.

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Indeed! All five leads are so young yet so good. They're good actors individually, but together, they meshed so well and their talents complemented one another and made the familiar, done-before story still fresh that viewers connected with them.

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Thank you all for your hard work!!!! I love your year end review, btw, weightlifting fairy was not mentioned here, was it because the drama had not ended it's run yet????

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Usually if the drama has not ended its run it would not be feature in the category (with a few exceptions).
I recalled Six Flying Dragons was placed for Best Historical Drama for 2015 despite not finishing its run. I guess it depends on how well liked the drama is and if they needed a drama for each category. But this is my speculations :P

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Oh.....Thank you 😘😘😘

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I think Kim Bokjoo is counted for this year. I'd vote for it as best romance but I haven't seen Jealousy Incarnate so can't really say anything to that.

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Do you mean Best Comedy? (Jealousy Incarnate got that, MDBC got Best Romance)

As someone who adored JI and is now adoring WF, I would definitely still let JI have Best Comedy. But WF would, hands-down, get Best Romance from me. I actually adored the MDBC couple, but the WF couple is unrivaled in being the most adorable couple to never dissolve into cheesiness. I love my JI couple too actually, certainly more than DotS and even 1%, as sweet as that pairing was. Lol, though I suppose they were too dysfunctional for some people's taste. But they just felt so real to me.

I really hope this isn't a sign that WF is going to get completely shafted. This is why I'd prefer if we just stuck to completed dramas because it's hard to see this show go without any recognition.

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Been reading tons about WFKBJ pair/OTP and how cute and amazing they are. I plan to marathon it once it's done. Sadly, it is counted in this year's review along with Geumbi and LOTBS. I also hope that only a completed drama gets to be included so that it can be reviewed in its entirety. That's just my opinion. DB staff has the prerogative to do year-end reviews the best way they see fit.

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@Celine, if you have the time, might as well watch WFKBJ! It's gonna end in two weeks time so yea, jump in the ship! ☺️☺️☺️

And I'm actually sad that WFKBJ is included in this year's review. 😭

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@neener hiiiii!! Nice to see you and other familiar names from MDBC community in this post! :) I am currently doing a marathon of PU38 and WFKBJ is the next one, so it'll be soon. My fave romance this year is still YeongOn. WFKBJ pair will probably be one of my top faves for my very own 2017 list. I look forward to it. :)

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lol Got them confused. Thanks for correcting me. I should check out Jealousy Incarnate when I get the time.

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I feel the same way. I would give Best Romance to WFBJ. And this isfrom someone who loves JI to bits and hates coming-of-age dramas. It was that good.

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Oh, I’m sad WFKBJ is included this year even if it’s not yet done! It’s such a sweet drama, and as much as I love Crown Prince and Ra-On in MDBC, KBJ and JH of WFKBJ are my new favorite couple! They are super adorable together and they’re equals—able to communicate instead of being angsty and they allow each other to be who they are. Arrghh I wish more people would appreciate WFKBJ! It portrays first love quite well! Quite sad it will end soon, I am going to miss it. <3

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Forgot there was the editors' picks, anyhow thank you for all your posts! Hoping 2017 will come out with a big bang in terms of quality dramas, especially historical dramas (since there are so many upcoming ones announced for 2017).
Hurray to Signal! I can't believe there would be a drama that had me in tears or sadness for every episode. The drama made me realize how we have advance in technology and that made me appreciate the achievements made in 2016 despite terrible events.
I guess I still have yet to watch Dear My Friends as any story that hits so close to home is quite a tear-jerker for me. Yet, I am glad that this drama exists and that it is well appreciated.
Cheers to the new year!

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I just want to give DB STAFF for all the hard work you gave this year! For creating new threads just for beanies to hangout. It has been a wonderful year - drama-wise, all thanks to you DB Staff and the beanies around the world.

THANK YOU!!

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Neener! Long time no talk! After Moonlight ended, I've been missing all of the Moonlighters, I hope you guys are doing fine and still remembering Moonlight when you see the moon. Sorry for getting sappy. Miss you~

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Maryxiah! I hope you had a wonderful holiday and still is! Jump on the weightlifting fairy KBJ ship 😂😂 not sure if some Moonlighters are there but the drama is good ☺️

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Neener, I did enjoy my holiday, I ended up marathoning Signal in 3 days. I hope you enjoyed yours too. I do watch Fairy occasionally but nothing tops my love for YeongOn yet. Anyway, Happy New Year to you! *hugs*

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YEHEY! Signal is just jjang! I'm currently enjoying mine since I can marathon any dramas or even rewatch some old ones hihihi

and I totally understand that no one can replace YeongOn yet but their in the different category in my own awards HAHA

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Always look forward to your less conventional categories for this post, and you didn't disappoint. My favorites were Worst Mother and Best First Half of Drama, haha. Even so, your categories make 1000% percent more sense than the silly drama award shows.

2016 mostly sucked but it was a good drama year. Here's to a better 2017, both for real life and dramas!

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I'm afraid the none of the editors here have watched the original J-drama of 'This Week My Wife Is Having an Affair'!!! Guys, no other K-drama remakes I've watched so far has done THIS good a job as MWHATW! It is better than the original in EVERY aspect!! Let me give u an example, in the original J-drama,NO netizen characters were shown! It's a pity that K-MWHATW didn't win the best remake category :(

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well agreed!

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I am also very bummed that This Week My Wife did not win best remake or any other category although it did at least get a few honorable mentions. I thought the bromance between Lee Sang Yeob and Lee Seon-kyun is very sincere and deep, much more meaningful than the one in DOTS. And LSK should have gotten at least an honorable mention for his portrayal of the betrayed husband.

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agreed, lee sung kyun performances deserved at least an honorable performances. For me he can even challenge toe to toe with Jo Jin-woong. His roles is a very meaty one.

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Agree with you. He and Jo Jin Woong are the most impressive drama actors this year. Some may not notice, but to make a normal, a bit despicable role shine and interesting is not an easy task.

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Yes.I love the DB stuff but Editor's Pick is different than just choosing ur fav drama.I wish while deciding the best remake, they at least had skimmed through the originals to compare, decide and choose the actual best.

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I think best remakes doesn't mean it has to be better than the original though. That's why 1% of anything got the honorable mentions alongside MWHATW. I didn't watch the Japanese version of MWHATW, but I did watch the Korean remakes here aand I love it! Meanwhile, I also watch bits of the American version of The Good Wife, and I love how the Korean version expertly put all those materials into 16 episodes. I guess you could have watched the Korean version as a comparison to judge of The Good Wife to see just how big, excellent, and stellar every aspect of that production was.

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@Kimsajang Mmm then what is the criteria on which you judge remakes? If you do not compare the remake with the original rather judge it as a separate show on its own merit then we don't need Best Remake category in the first place because you can vote in favor of it in other categories.
I'm not putting down A Good Wife or saying it did not do a good job as a remake, I'm just saying that I believe MWHATW did even better! :)

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I was torn in this category. I liked both the Good Wife and My Wife. I also watched their original versions. But despite Yoo Ji Tae being my aju fatale, I have to agree that My Wife was better all around. My Wife was about a very sensitive issue and it was very easy to mess up something like that. But the acting, writing and editing all came together to give us something special.

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Hate to be a party pooper but I feel like I'm the only one that didn't LOVE Signal as much as the whole community here haha I feel like a black sheep. Sure it's good, actually no, it was great however I didn't really think it gave me that "cracktastic" feel that I usually associate with my favorite, most loved dramas. Nonetheless, I totally agree it was one of the most well written and directed shows this year.

My favorite goes to Jealousy Incarnate though, glad to see it got some mention here since I feel like it hasn't been mentioned/reviewed very much in other posts. It was pure gold, and Hwa Shin was probably the most coherent and consistent male character written for me.

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Hwa-shin was one of the drama character that went through huge growth, but essentially remained the same man we knew from the start. Just like you said, the writing for this character was always coherent and consistent, but I do think that Jo Jung-seok's potrayal elevated it to another level. And all that turn Hwa-shin into such a memorable character for me.

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Tbh, Lee Hwa Shin is one of the worst character, i.e. in real world I wouldn't date him or wish him to date any of my friends. But Jo Jung Suk made him shine and lovable - who can stand hating someone with such sad eyes?

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I agree. Hwa Shin should have at least get the best character award.

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at least gotten*

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I still chuckle when I think of Hwashin sliding face-first into the wall. 😁

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😄

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Don't worry, there are always be outliers in everything.

Some people think Signal wasn't that good and some people think Moon Lovers was a masterpiece.

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I dropped it before it even get to the halfway point. I might go back and finish it.

I've seen Bong Joon-ho's brilliant "Memories of Murder" and nothing will ever top it.
Maybe if I didn't watch it first I might have finish Signal.

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That's probably the problem. I also started watching Signal because it was apparently a remake of "Memories Of Murder" but it is not. Yeah the first 4 episodes center on the case of "Memories.." but the show is not a remake.

When you watch the show just look at it as a separate thing and don't compare it to "Memories..." and you will see what a great show it is :)

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"Memories of Murder" was just raw and so real. I've never seen anything like it from a crime film on the big screen or on tv. Bong Joon-ho is a brilliant brilliant film maker. The way he recreate these unsolved crimes is downright chilling to the bones. Totally burst my little safety bubble and I took my first step outside my comfort zone and become a citizen of Hwaseong.
The cast's performance were just as real. Song Kang-ho, Park Hae-ill and Kim Sang-kyeong.

I read about the real incidents after watching the movie and I kind of understand why Bong Jong-ho made it as real and as close as he could possibly can. It deeply affected him and this was probably his way showing his disappointment with the way these investigations were being handled etc.

Coming from that experience to Signal is not that easy. I just couldn't get into Signal. I love Lee Je-hoon but he kind of threw me off in the beginning.

I don't know about matter of tastes here because crime thrillers is not my thing but once in awhile something like Memories of Murder comes along and makes me dive into it instead of ff through it like I usually do with violent crime scenes.

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It's all a matter of taste and preferences, I guess. I tried Memories of Murder way before I watched Signal, I didn't finish Memories but I finished Signal in 3 days.

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I agree with you. I rarely watch the thriller type dramas, and Signal hooked me. That said, it always felt a bit cold to me. Maybe because I never connected with any of the characters?

Jealousy Incarnate was pure FUN. I am finishing it now and I can't believe that after binge watching a 24 episode drama I would be happy to watch more! That is not typical for me! Definitely my vote for favorite.

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I kind of feel the same. However, I acknowledge that Signal had all the winning ingredients in acting, directing, and writing. I think it is an excellent drama, but it's not my favorite. I did not really connect with it. I am an admirer from afar.

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Yeah, Signal had the right ingredients but then so do a lot of American tv shows. I don't watch Korean dramas to watch shows similar to American tv if I can help it. It's the rom coms and fusion sageuks that we don't get much of in North America that attract me to kdramas.

So Jealousy Incarnate wins hands down for me this year with Moon Lovers in second because I actually learned a lot about Korean history and myth looking stuff up and talking about it on Dramabeans.

We're all here for different reasons I guess!

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Oooh, this is a good way of saying it. Signal is not my favorite as well, but yes no one can say that it doesn't deserve it.

My drama of the year though goes to:
Age of Youth

Runners up are:
Signal
Dear My Friends
Shopping King Louie
Moonlight Drawn by Clouds.

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Oohhh. Someone after my own heart. Yes, Signal was a good drama but I didn't connect to it like I did with JI or MWWHA. Different people, different strokes, I guess, but it doesn't mean you are wrong about what you liked.

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I'm one of the few too. I enjoyed Signal; it just wasn't "the best thing ever" for me. Reading some of the other comments, maybe I also have Memories of Murder to "blame"? I know I shouldn't let it affect my expectations but it's difficult to just forget about some of the disappointments. Really, they were mild ones, but enough to keep me from being fully immersed into it. However, I am happy that other people enjoyed it so much. I am also happy that it won so many awards.

Although there were several shows I liked this year, I can't name a drama I was crazy about. CITT could have been it. Actually, there were several that were more than decent. Nothing like Six Flying Dragons or Misaeng though. Maybe I missed something? Even though I didn't complete a lot, I followed the reviews and the conversations on here, and it doesn't seem like I missed anything grand. Correct me if I'm wrong. Let me know if I have to watch anything.

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Dang! Must watch signal!

Thank you to the DB team & the DB community for an awesome 2016!

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Dear My Friends was my favorite of the year. The writing was so good. The way Noh Hee-kyung writes is so painfully realistic and beautiful. The characters are rich and so true to life. Gosh I love this drama.
And Jealousy Incarnate! what a good drama it was. The comedy really hits the spot. Made me laugh, and I really love all the characters they really stand on their own.
Signal is good too. It got great directing and a strong plot. It deserves to be best drama of the year.

I guess this year wasn't so bad.

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Noh Hee-kyung (Dear My Friends) and Park Yeon-Sun (Age of Youth) were my two favorites for the year.

Slice of life drama always gets me.

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These two are also my favourites of 2016, so adorable girlfriends to have beside you, while enjoying your youth and while at the last stages of life.

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abit dissapointed with acting breakthrough category. well I haven't watch MBDC. so even then the other 2 honorable mention is not even have Kim woo bin performances in UF.it might be category as most improved acting performances?

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I though Heo Jung Eun should be the breakout actress of the year, she was fantastic in every role she played in dramas this year and arguably the best child actress of this generation. Cant wait to see her growth into the next KYJ/KSH/MGY

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She's so good that some of her co-stars kind of pale in comparison.

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I´d give best villain to money (PU38). Honorable mention: Ma Jin-Seok (later ally)

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I am also glad Shopping King Louis get honorable mentions!

I finally managed to finish Signal, as it figures though, I am not as blown away as most Beanies. It was solid, but I never got emotionally involved so

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I actually wanted Louis to win something! Glad that it atleast got honourable mentions.. It was my favourite drama this year. But I understand why it might not be the popular choice.

Also while I loved Signal while it was airing, I don't think it was just that awesome to qualify for 3 or more awards. Like last year when Reply 1988 was winning almost everything, I was 100% with it because it just was that good, but not Signal. And dare I say it, it was also a lil boring at times!

Anyway, did you check out SIG's latest song. He looks freaking hot in it!

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Hope you and redfox don't mind me cutting in. Just too darn excited - been binge-playing BeBe on repeat since early this morning and probably drove my neighbours up the wall LOL. The song's so addictive though, the beat and arrangements and his voice just killing me. SIG's definitely hot in the MV. Just wished he didn't keep repeating the awkward gesture of covering his face (10x... Yes I counted... Heh).

Ok went off topic there. Sorry. Ending the fangirling.

SKL's likewise my fav drama of the year. No doubt SIG's portrayal of Louie played a huge part. But it was more than that. It was the whole cast, the overall tone, the choice to focus on the pureness of heart and the goodness inherent in people. The theme of kindness/sincerity begets kindness/sincerity. The drama was emotionally healing, if that makes any sense. At least it was for me. MDBC and Signal takes second and third place on my list.

Here's wishing all dramabeans staff and beanies a WONDERFUL 2017! :)

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Ooh I was so confused by that weird hand gesture too! He shouldn't ever try to cover his face anyway! :P That aside, his eyes are mesmerizing! He can melt away this girl by just looking into the camera! And yes that song is amazing! I don't even know the lyrics but I sing along when the English lyrics come! :P

I am so so jealous of all the lucky people who are going to his concert tomorrow!

Anyway, wishing u a very happy new year! :)

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@ObsessedMuch

Ahhh his eyes... Sighssss...

I am so envious too! Praying hard for many many fanvids.

And a very fantabulous 2017 to you too! *hugs*

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He looks like Shin se Gi in it. red coat and black turtleneck.

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Yup he does seem quite similar to Shin Se Gi!
Just Shin Se Gi + 15 + alpha though :P

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@redfox @ObsessedMuch

Shin Se Gi + 15 + alpha + 5 stars + 1 heart LOL

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I knew Signal would swept up all the awards available here. That drama is just THAT good. So I'm really happy that Jealousy Incarnate won the best comedy award, and both Hwa-shin and Jo Jung-seok still get an honorable mention.

P.S. Really love the Best First Half of a Drama Award. Both W and CiTT had so much potential that got wasted in the latter half.

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the thing is, the best episode for me in citt is the second half of the drama, episode 12 and 16

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It's funny to think tvn used CITT as hype for Entourage casting but Entourage ended up as tvn biggest flop of 2016.

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Agree with the list above except one ; The Best director should be given to On The Way To The Airport.

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Yeah... I really gotta watch Signal. AND Age of Youth! Oh, and Oh Hae-young, too! 😅

So happy to see my girl, Kim Go-eun, being mentioned here. I fell head over heels for her and Hong Seol when I watched Cheese. She was so cute, natural, charming and relatable. She's a kickass actress and I'm just so excited and proud to be able to watch her early on in her career and can't wait to see her continue to shine and be in more dramas with all my favs.

Happy new year, beanies! Here's to a new year filled with cracktastic dramas! 😜😘🎉🎊 thanks for everything, Dramabeans! You are and will always be my drama bible! 🙌🏼👌🏼❤️

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Kim Go-eun is pure raw talents. Fell in love her in almost every role she played on the big screen and here I am following her dramas. I hope she'll return to Chungmuro after Goblin.

I had no idea she can sing well in English. That infectious smile of hers <3.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnTJZs6W8vY&list=PLIJNkeTKfHwyEfTIR_OU2vYVipRFqjVmS&index=12

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Kiara! Hello! Glad to see you, fellow Kim Go-eun fangirl. 👋🏼😉 yes, our girl is so damn charismatic in every single role. She's just a charming person, really. And yes! She's got such a lovely smile! Even Yoo Inna pointed it out during the press con and said people should tune in for her smiles, if anything. Haha. I've seen almost all of her projects in its entirety, and gah, I can't get enough of her! I've only seen her parts in Advocate of a Missing Body and goodness, I loved her rapport with Lee Seon-kyun–she was so feisty and the ending was hysterical! I'd love to see them reunite in a drama or something. Now she's working with his Coffee Prince cousin, Gong Yoo. Hehe!

Omg yes! I absolutely love her singing voice! It's so hauntingly beautiful. That's why I freaked when she suddenly sang in ep 7 of Goblin. Ha! Have you watched that whole Happy Together episode? I watched it for her and it was fabulous because they really highlighted her in the show and I learned a lot more about her. Omg, id turn this into a Kim Go-eun appreciation post, but I'll refrain from doing so but will post this here in case you haven't heard it. She's featured in this song and it's truly beautiful!

The full song: https://youtu.be/IulEN-GEwz4
The making/interview: https://youtu.be/DnOcyA0rwDM

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There's something about Kim Go Eun, her face looks really clean and classic but at the same time she's cute. There may be many who have features like hers but she's really a unique beauty, not basic like some more hyped idol-type faces.

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Thanks for sharing. Love it!

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Where have you been able to watch The Advocate online? I have only been able to see the trailers and some BTS clips. But you are right, she and LSK interact so well and so naturally even with their large age gap. LSK himself acknowledged that in one of his interviews although he also said that perhaps her fans would disagree with him. I sure don't mind seeing them reunited in a drama although probably better not as love interests, coz you know.

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I wish I could link it here but I'm afraid to get this site in trouble.

She was the same way with Park Hae-il in Eungyo. I wouldn't mind seeing her and Lee Seon-kyun in a drama or film again.

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A well deserved best drama for Signal. That show really rocked my world during the start of the year. I was either angry, breathless, terrified, and just crying my eyes out. I have not seen a k-drama that affected me this much except maybe for Misaeng a few years ago. The ending was not perfect but close enough to 100% in solid writing and well conceived story line. There was no dull moment in all 16 episodes. Just really worth watching every minute of it.

Jo Jin Wong and Kim Hye Soo were just brilliantly casted and both delivered tour-de force performances. All the cast and crew brought their A-game and gave us this amazing show. Signal is a very tough act to follow and hopefully won't be the last show out of TVN's golden age of creativity.

Other K-drama networks can you top that?

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True that about making people angry, breathless, terrified and crying, let's not forget about The Omelette Who Made People Cry.

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In all honesty, I was told Signal would be emotionally draining and not to marathon it, but when I was watching, I didn't feel emotionally taxed at all, I was addicted to find out more from the stories. So imagine my surprise when the omelet scene came out, I felt so gutted and terribly emotional I had to pause the scene to cry out, I was a sobbing mess. I will never be able to look at omelet rice the same way anymore.

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They say everyone, everything in Signal acts, and that omelette is the best among his peers.

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Well i think "The Biggest disappointment" was the ONLY drama which has recorded more than 2 million views on youku and stayed NO.1 on many online streaming sites and drew more international fans who all went crazy for a proper ending and signed a petition resulting more than 75,000 people getting signed. So technically it's NOT a disappointment!

Sorry i don't agree that it is a complete disappointment,Yes, it was frustrating at times but it has definitely made a lasting impact on everyone who watched it because the story was too damn addictive and also due to the open ending.

The writer was actually witty at many places,we just have to analyze very deeply because of the complex characters and the story. According to me it IS the best drama of 2016 with such a complex story, perfectly flawed characters, beautiful OST's which altogether made a lasting impression and i still can't move on from this drama, rarely any drama does that to me actually.

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The only thing I agree with you is the great OSTs though some are better as standalone songs and not fit well into the dramas.

As for the other things,

Complex = all over the place, perfectly flawed = nonsensical

I guess we have our own interpretations on ML. :)

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I watched it all and it didn't make any lasting impression on me. And I don't think disappointment could only be defined as the number of people watching as well. Of course it's disappointing when you read things that don't agree opinions wise but it's okay everyone has different opinions really.

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Numbers aren't the only thing that matters, not here at least. If so Signal and Age of Youth would not have made the cut. Hell, wanna talk about fantasy Sageuk, even with much lower number Mirror of the Witch was better, way better than Moonlovers. Moonlovers secured those numbers thanks to Lee Jun Ki, not because of writing or anything else. And the writer had a source material yet couldn't deliver, that for me is unforgivable. How hard is it, to follow a novel and adapt when the drama was pre-produced??

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I think I can freely oppose you as I've just completed watching MLSHR two days back when I watched last 7-8 episodes in 2-3 hours as there was nothing to watch and everything felt crap. I din't really cut any scenes rather I watched all those episodes with 4x speed. I still respect your choice and I adore Lee Jun Ki, he was the only bearable one in this drama.

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Uncontrollably Fond recorded 4 billion views though and rated 9.9. It's the most viewed K-drama in YouKu. It's a feat especially since it only has Kim Woo-bin and Suzy. Moon Lovers has 2.5 billion as of this writing and is rated 9.7. Which is actually disappointing since it has a bunch of stars well-known in China and was adapted from a Chinese novel.

UF: http://www.soku.com/detail/show/XMTIyODA1Mg==?spm=a2h0k.8191407.0.0
ML: http://list.youku.com/show/id_z67d68692e98711e5b522.html?spm=a2h0j.8191423.sMain.5~5~A!2.YCzkCf

The OSTs are good but it didn't chart well. It was overshadowed by Moonlight all in all in South Korea. And I get that it was popular overseas but it's not DOTS levels of popular which again, is disappointing especially since it was promoted to be the next K-drama sensation.

If we're talking about figures alone, it is still disappointing.

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At least Moon Lovers was considered as "The Biggest Disappointment" here on Dramabeans. Disappointment must mean at least that one had high expectations and hopes of it to start with. The same cannot be said of Moon Lovers's reception in Korea. Despite the hype and promotion, the drama premiered at 7.4% ratings. It looked like most people weren't even looking forward to the drama.

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Oh, it did make a lasting impression on me all right, an example of a drama gone wrong. I understand that you might feel differently for Moon Lovers, as do many of its fans, and I have to admit Moon Lovers had its addictive quality, but not for being good, but for being so worst I was watching just to see how much worst it could get, it's like a fascination of watching a trainwreck my friend said. I was actually looking forward to this drama, and I would say it deserves it's biggest disappointment rank because it didn't deliver what it promised on it's teasers -- epic.

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Thank you for another year of drama watching! I'm using my winter break to cath up on dramas so I really enjoyed year in review series :D

I missed Santa's post this year tho :'(

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And for the 4th year in row, tvN drama hails as the Best Drama. Congrats and I'm so proud!

2013 : Nine
2014 : Misaeng
2015 : Reply 1988
2016 : Signal

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Actually tvN has many good dramas running almost throughout the year. I've actually started watching almost every drama of cable networks like tvN, OCN, jTBC...

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Those are probably going to become the next Big Three :)

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Thank you for your editor picks and great categories! ❤️ I can barely believe it's the end of 2016 already!

I finally Finally got round to watching Signal and it's been insanely awesome (I'm at episode 5) but also stressful because I can't marathon it thanks to real life and I'm So Afraid of Spoilers.
I end up skimming to skip anything related to it, and it's All Over all the reviews and comments here- Read read... Oh Signal! Skip skip skip skip...

And because I know it's been over for so long, statue of limitations for spoilers are long over, so I only have myself to blame if I'm spoiled. But gosh darn it Signal is really everywhere, why did it take me so long to watch!?! Lol

So I shall be back when I'm done watching to read all the great things about it again. 😝

Thanks for an awesome year Team Dramabeans! To more dramatic greatness in 2017!

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