Drama Reactions & Reviews
Top 10 favorite drama directors
by | February 7, 2017 | 110 Comments

javabeans: Sometimes it’s funny when you pick your favorite writers or directors, and go back into their early histories and find projects in there that surprised you.

girlfriday: I know, sometimes I’m genuinely shocked at the mix of projects people have in their filmographies, and that’s actually more the case with directors, because often times they’re salaried employees at a network who take on whatever is assigned to them.

javabeans: Yes, and it’s interesting to see how their careers developed the higher they rose and the more control they had over the dramas they chose to work on. The trajectory is similar with writers, but fundamentally different because a writer still, you know, wrote her dramas. I mean, a PD still had to direct his shows too, but he may not have had much choice in the content.

girlfriday: And he may have been a second PD who did very little, or a second PD who did everything—it’s sort of impossible to know unless you’re on the set, since it’s different with every single drama.

javabeans: On the flipside of this same argument, I find that once a PD establishes himself (or herself), their style becomes more apparent than, say, a writer across projects. A writer who works with new directors each time may surprise you with how different those shows feel from each other, but a lot of PDs retain certain qualities across projects, no matter how different the story content. (Say, for instance, how I feel like Introverted Boss is like alternaworld Oh Hae-young Again.)

girlfriday: Yeah, if it’s one thing our favorite directors on this list have in common, it’s that they developed a style all their own over the course of multiple projects.

javabeans: Sometimes that distinctive style isn’t a good thing—say, when you’re thinking, “Gargh, that director really needs a new camera,” or “Ack, that director really needs a new camera operator.” But when it’s consistently good, we often fall in love with them and put them on lists like this.


1. Kim Won-seok

girlfriday: Kim Won-seok is a director whose style always serves story, whose directorial choices never seem gratuitous or flashy for the sake of style alone. I’m always fully immersed in the fictional world and caught up in the suspense of the moment or the emotion of the characters in his dramas, and almost always so addictively that they stick with me long after they’re over. He made his mark with fusion sageuk Sungkyunkwan Scandal, which hit upon a witty sense of humor and a beautiful visual style that was youthful and fresh. His follow-up, the music-themed Monstar, was cleverly directed with fantasy musical interludes and some truly moving moments that integrated music and narrative seamlessly.

Of course, it was Misaeng that made Kim Won-seok a star director, for bringing a beloved manhwa to life with the devotion of a true fan. He captured the bleakness of the day to day and made the everyman’s journey so emotionally gripping and fraught with tension that I couldn’t believe sometimes how invested I got in a mock presentation or a test to sell socks. Time-warp thriller Signal, though stylistically very different from Misaeng, had a similar relentlessness with its dramatic tension. This one felt like I was riding an avalanche hurtling down a mountain at breakneck pace—I felt every twist in my throat, and I was as frightened as I was thrilled. After two back to back projects that are arguably among the best directed dramas in all of dramaland, it ensured that I’d be watching anything with Kim Won-seok’s name on it from here on out.

Credits: Signal, Misaeng, Monstar, Sungkyunkwan Scandal


2. Shin Won-ho

girlfriday: Shin Won-ho is another of Na PD’s 1 Night 2 Days crew who worked in variety, and also co-directed the long-running drama series Old Miss Diary. After years in variety, it was the throwback youth drama Answer Me 1997 that shot him to fame, and the success of that project led him to create a whole franchise out of the concept with Answer Me 1994 and Answer Me 1988. I credit the director for making these dramas feel so lived in and genuinely celebrating each era portrayed, because it could be easy to focus on the trappings in a superficial way. But with this director, it’s abundantly clear that the stories are personal to him, and these are collective memories and songs of his youth that he himself treasures—there’s just no way to fake that kind of fanatical detail and tenderness for youth.

Now that he’s been through multiple casts with rookie actors who’ve gone on to less successful projects (enough to have created the so-called Answer Me curse), it’s clear that he’s the talent behind making unseasoned actors shine—he knows how to draw the right performance out and cut around their flaws. He moves in and out of side-splitting comedy and gut-wrenching drama with ease, and contrary to what I expected when I first heard that they’d be recycling the same framework for different eras going back in time, the series didn’t degrade in quality or lose its heart; instead the franchise just kept growing, and the audience along with it.

Credits: Answer Me 1997, Answer Me 1994, Answer Me 1988, Old Miss Diary


3. Ahn Pan-seok

HeadsNo2: PD Ahn Pan-seok has a special knack for creating frames that are both beautiful and economic—and he specially tailors his style for every show, whether it’s in the cutthroat medical world of White Tower, or the warm lighting and intimacy in Secret Love Affair, or the starkly detached, almost sanitized look of End of the World. One might call him a “prestige” director whose dramas garner critical acclaim; his shows display unmatched artistry in every shot while infusing the frames with purpose and meaning. He knows when to withhold secrets from the audience and when to let them in, and sometimes his handle on emotions (and how to make us feel them) is so good it almost feels manipulative. Here’s hoping that he continues to be unafraid to take risks, having proven himself not only capable of showing intricate family relationships (A Wife’s Credentials, Heard It Through the Grapevine) but also able to experiment and create something harrowing and unforgettable (End of the World).

Credits: Heard It Through the Grapevine, Secret Love Affair, White Tower, End of the World, A Wife’s Credentials


4. Kim Byung-soo

javabeans: Kim Byung-soo has been a to-watch director from the start of his career, beginning with the small but well-received cable series Chosun Police (whose writer went on to pen Misaeng), and then really made a splash with the super-stylish, pulse-pounding Vampire Prosecutor. With time-traveling romance Queen In-hyun’s Man, his style started to grow more complex and intricate, often playing with multiple lines of story, manipulating time or space or sometimes both. Queen In-hyun’s Man built a world that felt cohesive and unified, even when jumping 300 years back and forth in time, a trait that carried over into thriller Nine, which was like Queen In-hyun on crack, as far as the time aspect went: Not only did he depict two timelines cogently, he managed to unfold alternate realities on parallel tracks without getting us hopelessly entangled in the many threads crisscrossing each other. And just when I was thinking that time-travel and genre thrillers were his main strength, he came out with the thoughtful, sweet contemporary romance-melo Bubblegum—although yes, that drama also played with two threads of time, as a mother’s Alzheimer’s progressed and flashbacks intertwined with the events of the present day. It’s a nifty talent to have, this ability to tell two stories at once and progress both lines concurrently; it’s impressive as an intellectual exercise, but he never forgets to back that up with emotional developments, packing in that extra punch.

Credits: Nine, Bubblegum, Three Musketeers, Queen Inhyun’s Man, Vampire Prosecutor 1


5. Kim Seok-yoon

javabeans: Kim Seok-yoon has been around a while, directing Old Miss Diary back in 2004, its subsequent movie version in 2006, and the screwball period comedies in the Detective K series. Those projects garnered him positive responses, but it was with 2015’s JTBC series Awl that his work took on a weightier, more serious vibe; that webtoon-adapted series owes much of its appeal to the director’s strong, assured touch, somehow turning long labor union discussions into riveting drama. He demonstrated a remarkable ability to find humor in the darkest, bleakest of moments, sprinkling in surprising laughs amidst the bigger conflict. PD Kim followed that with last year’s This Week, My Wife Will Have An Affair, where that skill was again out in full force—never have I found scenes so simultaneously painful and uproarious to watch. He teased out the comedy in moments otherwise full of anxiety and heartbreak, yet never at the expense of the characters’ pain. It’s that ability to bring us into his characters’ emotional centers that makes these dramas so gripping; we’re not just in their minds, thinking their thoughts, but feeling their feelings too. You don’t get much more engrossed than that.

Credits: Awl, This Week, My Wife Will Have an Affair, Detective K: Secret of Virtuous Widow, Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island, Old Miss Diary, I Live in Cheongdamdong


6. Lee Jung-hyo

HeadsNo2: PD Lee Jung-hyo’s credits list is long and varied, and spans multiple genres, from historicals to melodramas to rom-coms and thrillers. It’s perhaps his ability to tackle these disparate styles—and be good at them all—that’s most impressive about him. In romantic comedies, he has a knack for zippy editing and maintaining a cheeky, upbeat tone (I Need Romance 1 and 2, Witch’s Romance), but then he turned around and gave us something dark, stylized, and gritty with the hyperreal neo-noir thriller Heartless City. Then he captured the youthful innocence of falling in love for the first time in, well, Because It’s the First Time, and went on to helm one of the most successful American-to-Korean television adaptations with The Good Wife, which was full of some truly creative shots that were as visually interesting as they were effective, infusing scenes with passion or subtle nuance. While his dramas run the gamut of genre and tone, what they have in common is an assured style that’s adaptable no matter what story you throw at him.


7. Yoo Je-won

javabeans: Yoo Je-won is one of the newer PDs on this list—his first drama series as a main director is 2014’s High School King of Savvy—but there’s something to be said for repeat successes, particularly when in quick succession. He didn’t necessarily reinvent the comedic wheel, but he showed a genuine flair for zany situational comedy in Savvy, producing a string of unpredictable, laugh-out-loud situations. He followed that with more playful quirkiness in Oh My Ghostess, taking a fantastical premise (bawdy ghost possesses a timid wallflower and tries to seduce her boss) and finding a warm emotional center—it felt like rom-coms had just been reinvigorated with a fresh dose of energy. Being a lifelong fan of romantic comedies means that I’ve seen more than my share of them, and grown exceedingly familiar with the genre’s rhythms, cliches, and bag o’ tricks. It’s a relief to have someone come along and show you that not every joke has been told before, and that there are ways to make something familiar feel fresh again. That’s a gift, and not one I’ll be taking for granted.

Credits: High School King of Savvy, Oh My Ghostess, Tomorrow With You


8. Kim Sung-yoon

girlfriday: Kim Sung-yoon is part of a group of directors at KBS who’ve collaborated on a number of dramas in varying pairs: Kim Sung-yoon and Baek Sang-hoon worked together on the hit fusion sageuk Moonlight Drawn By Clouds and the addictively dramatic Who Are You—School 2015, and Kim Sung-yoon and Lee Eung-bok (who went on to direct Descended From the Sun and The Lonely Shining Goblin) directed the thoughtful contemporary romance Discovery of Romance and the wonderfully earnest Dream High together. I almost feel like they come in a set, since you can’t talk about one without mentioning the others.

Kim Sung-yoon’s dramas are ones where I always took note of the amped up directorial style and editing skill—everything looks beautiful, every scene lasts juuuuuust the right length (seriously, that timing is a skill), and the music cues up my emotions in the ideal way—it’s textbook, but the drama is so good at the thing it’s supposed to do, every time. This was never more evident than in Moonlight Drawn By Clouds, where I felt like every directorial choice landed perfectly, and made me feel exactly the right emotions in any given scene, whether it was sweeping grandeur or cheeky wit. It’s the kind of style that heightens drama without being flashy, and uses music so effectively that I want to run out and get the OST so I can relive it again and again.

Credits: Moonlight Drawn By Clouds, Who Are You—School 2015, Discovery of Romance, Big, Dream High, Merchant Kim Man-deok


9. Jang Tae-yoo

HeadsNo2: PD Jang Tae-yoo is no stranger to popular dramas, starting his career off with light, funny dramas like Bad Housewife and 101st Proposal before hitting it big with the slick underdog drama War of Money, which garnered several awards and nominations. He went on to direct the beautiful, thoughtful Painter of the Wind, which stirred buzz throughout its run, which he followed with perhaps his most artistically assured venture yet in Tree With Deep Roots, which was both a cerebral mystery as well as an unconventional character study of one of Korea’s most famous kings.

There’s a very polished look to PD Jang’s work—he has an incredible way with lighting, and he has an excellent grasp on how to use style to create a sense of epic grandeur. He knows how to use his shots for maximum dramatic effect, whether he’s showing us something grandiose or incredibly intimate, and is never afraid to let his audience in on the story that’s being told. Those skills served him just as well in the realm of wacky rom-com; he gave You From Another Star emotional grounding (those Joseon scenes!) as well as its sparkle and flash in its zany comedy, turning it into one of the biggest global hits Hallyu had ever seen.

Credits: You From Another Star, Tree With Deep Roots, The Painter of Wind, War of Money, Bad Housewife


10. Na Young-seok, aka simply “Na PD”

javabeans: Na PD isn’t technically a drama director—he’s a Variety God, who’s churned out so many hit series that it’s hard to keep track of them all: 1 Night 2 Days, Grandpas Over Flowers (in Europe, Taiwan, and Greece), Youths Over Flowers (in Peru, Laos, Iceland, Africa), Three Meals a Day, New Journey to the West, Newlywed Diary. However, his genius at crafting narrative rivals the best of ‘em in the drama sphere, so he’s earned his spot on our list. (Not to mention that many of the crew who grew up and learned under him have since spread their wings in scripted series—and some of dramaland’s best, at that (the Answer Me series).

Na PD’s magic at weaving together compelling stories out of practically thin air is so consistent and strong that I go into all of his shows expectant of excellence, and yet am amazed when he delivers yet again. His greatest strength has always been in finding the emotion and the story—the human element—buried in hours of footage, whether that’s seven guys camping overnight and playing grade-schooler games, or a group of friends touring a foreign locale, or people sitting around and cooking. He’s turned random snippets of pets playing into full-fledged story arcs, and even though I know it’s entirely fabricated, it’s riveting nonetheless. Heck, the entire promotional tour for Three Meals a Day was everybody on the show predicting how badly it would fail because the concept was so boring, only to have it break records and become a smash hit. He’s so good at this one very specific but utterly crucial skill (making stories from nothing) that even when he’s built an entire format and has his trusted crew take over a known entity, the results are somehow missing his special spark—that touch only he has, in finding exactly how to appeal to us through the most mundane and universal slices of life.

Credits: 1 Night 2 Days, Grandpas Over Flowers, Noonas Over Flowers, Youths Over Flowers, Three Meals a Day, New Journey to the West, Star Golden Bell, High-Five, The Human Condition


110 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Den

    PD Jin Hyuk <3 <3 <3

    • 1.1 maknae_reader

      I was expecting him to be listed here too together with Lee Eung Bok PD of Goblin.

  2. elvira

    Na PD!!! .
    Be careful of the infamous-celeb-kidnapper-PD–not that I’m complaining about him kidnapping celebs and making really good varieties though.
    *I suddenly remember when Park Bo Gum was kidnapped. Oh, the poor kid!

  3. Shirleen

    Yay for Na Young-Seok PD!! I started watching New Journey to the West Season 3 out of pure curiousity (since I knew of Kyuhyun, Mino and have watched Kang Ho-dong and Lee Su-geun in Knowing Brothers) and I absolutely loved the show, the witty captions by the director, and I went off to marathon the first 2 seasons too 🙂
    Do watch this variety if you haven’t, it’s a real gem

    Currently watching youth over flowers in Laos and may watch Three Meals a Day soon too 🙂 I even watched the first episode of Newlyweds Diary and I must say he really made something better than We Got Married

    • 3.1 mai-mai

      Wondering where to watch the English sub for Newlyweds Diary.

      Anybody knows? Please 🙂

      • 3.1.1 Shirleen

        Sorry I can’t help you with that because I watched it with Chinese subs instead (I couldn’t resist although I’d usually prefer English subs)
        But if it’s any consolation, Na PD’s shows usually get subbed eventually, so it’s just a matter of patience 🙂
        For those who can understand Chinese subs, you can find it on maplestage.com / meiku.in (sorry I’m not sure if they are the official subs)

      • 3.1.2 revel

        Though I don’t watch them much, but for Korean variety shows these two sites are quite useful…


        Raw version of Newlyweds Diaries is already uploaded in the second one, so subbed version too should be out soon.

  4. Afii

    I love na PD’s work. Some of them may be boring for some people. But i like his style. His style is the show that watch after long and tiring day. A show that i want to watch when i had a dinner alone in home after work.

  5. therealpacman

    Surprised Jin Hyuk PD didn’t make the list.

    Loved that NA PD made it. It made me smile to see his name on the list, even if he’s not a drama director, he definitely deserved the spot.

  6. elric

    I was surprised to see Yoo Je-won first two
    films were romcoms. Tomorrow with You just feel so mellow and bleak sometimes. Yet when it injects humor into it, the drama doesn’t go overboard with it. I think that what I love about Tomorrow, the balance between mellow and comedy. It feels right and realistic.

    Also, has anyone notice if the aspect ratio or the color tone of the future scenes in Tomorrow differs with the present? I notice small changes in the video whenever So joon travels but I can’t seem to place what it is.

    • 6.1 Callie

      The future scenes have a wider aspect ratio (you can see black bars on the top and bottom of the screen). They also seem to be more blue-toned and might have a little more saturation than the present scenes.

      Interestingly, the one scene from the past that we’ve seen (the “accident”) has a similar palette to the present, but seemed to feature more warmer tones.

    • 6.2 missjb

      Yoo Je Won directing in o. tomorrow with u is something else….

    • 6.3 Boomboompow

      Even though Savvy and Ghostess are romcom, they can be quite dark and bleak sometimes. You can feel the difference in the color palette when the same writer works with different PD in Weightlifting.

      I also love how PD Yoo Je Won encourage actors to ad lib. Oh and his fondness to Seo In Guk is also a big plus 😜 (SIG is the lead in Savvy, plays a cameo in Ghostess, and now sings for Tomorrow).

      • 6.3.1 elric

        I noticed that too! It would have been nice if Seo In-guk can also do a cameo for Tomorrow with You but it’s fully pre-produced, right? And SIG was busy with Shopping King Louis when Tomorrow was filming.

      • 6.3.2 MyGirl2016

        Oh.. Thanks for mentioning that boomboompow – about how Yoon Je-won PD encourages his actors to ad-lib. Sometimes spontaneous reactions to dialogues and situations add to the hilarity. I am glad that the PD nim is someone who creates a safe, friendly workspace for his creative team (mostly actors) to be able to do that. Definitely a factor that sets up apart as a director.

        • MyGirl2016

          Sets HIM apart..!

  7. piratri

    Na PD must already have big plan to kidnap Lee Seung Gi when he discharge at October this year, right? Seunggi is one of Na PD’s golden boy, and Seunggi bring lot of stories from army. That will be grand to variety.

    • 7.1 leaf

      Yes!! Especially since they did it with Kim Jong Min for 1n2d. Please Na PD, I hope you have some plans when Lee Seung Gi comes back too!!

    • 7.2 pine

      Oh I hope Na PD kidnaps Lee Seung Gi like he and the 1n2d crew did for Kim Jong Min!

      • 7.2.1 Ammy

        Jong Min is my favourite in any reality or fabricated show. He gives us full entertainment and doesn’t shy away from doing any kind of tasks.

  8. Kiara

    Ahn Pan-seok <33333333333333333333. Thank you Heads. He should be at number 1. I don't need to explain why. Check out all his works.

    • 8.1 astromantic

      Agreed. The dramas he’s directed are incredible.

    • 8.2 nchoe

      Is he that good? I’m not familiar with his works though. You guys make me want to check them out. Which one should I watch first? Any recommendation?

  9. Rach

    Speaking of Na PD, anyone know where Newlywed Diary is being subbed (english) lol. In desperate need of AJH and GHS interactions!

    • 9.1 earthna

      I’m not sure if anyone has picked the show up to sub but I’ve watched it raw and it’s so beautiful. Very different from Na PD’s usual works and the music is just amazing! Of course, the couple is beautiful. Made me jealous and happy. HAHA

      • 9.1.1 egg

        I watched the Mandarin subbed first episode and it says that the music is by Yoo Hee-Yeol!

        • earthna

          It did say Yoo Heeyeol but I’m not sure if it was THAT Heeyeol. I’d be so giddy if it was really him. Music Genius Yoo Heeyeol. lol

        • Rach

          Mind if I ask where you found the chinese subs?

  10. 10 aimi

    No Lee Eung Bok ?? remember school 2013, dream high, DOTS, goblin?

    • 10.1 Yui

      Goblin and dots are really in different level of cinematography. Wonder why they didnt put LEB’s name. But then, preference. Cant judge. At least signal pd nim and na pd are here.
      Db team might have different standard and even popular dramas like dots and goblin couldnt make it to the pd list. 🙂

      Aaaahh signal and misaeng season 2 juseyoooo…

      • 10.1.1 missjb

        Once they enter the liveshooting PPL driven episode, production value goes to the drain

  11. 11 indie24

    Thank you so much for your list of top ten favorite drama directors and writers. While we know that the actors are given much credit for the success of a drama, viewers should likewise accord due commendation to the people behind the scenes. I used to pick out what dramas to watch based on the cast of actors and actresses. But now, I also take the PDs and writers into consideration. The backbone of the drama is in the writing and direction afterall.

    • 11.1 happeyness

      Yes, I used to do the same thing with how I picked out my dramas! I haven’t looked into the PDs as much (I’ve never been able to distinguish a PD’s work as good or bad or special), but I’ve definitely looked at the writers some more – at least more than I used to!

    • 11.2 nchoe

      Who the writer of a drama is the most important aspect for me… and then the PD and the actors follow after. Sometimes I don’t really trust the PD, but if the actors are really good, then it’s a go. Sometimes the actors are not convincing, but if the PD is capable to bring the best in his actors, then it’s also a go.

      • 11.2.1 missjb

        well a bad pd can make aproper script look bad because how they interpret it through the screen. look at what Wild romance PD did to Park Yeon Seon work. he treat the script look like a fluffy rom com mix with cheap thriller. he almost singlehandly ruin that drama.

        Same with what PD kim Kyu Tae did with Noh Hee Kyung script. He almost singlehandly ruin wht is supposed to be intens scene thanks with his pretty cinematography and his overusing use close up scene with no flow.

        • nchoe

          Yep, you’re right. But that’s exactly why I takes PD into consideration, since even though I consider writer as the most important one, I don’t consider it as everything either.

          As the reason why PD comes second after writer is because there were times when I found dramas with bad directing and acting, but I still liked those dramas even though I criticized them endlessly. One of the example for this case is Moon Lovers Scarlet Heart: Ryeo. I still resent the PD for making this drama into a huge mess, but I still like the story since it felt so refreshing and was not too formulaic as most of KDramas.

          However it’s very rare for me to like dramas with bad or so so story even though they’re well directed and acted. For example: Marriage Contract. I love the directing and acting here, they’re really compelling. But the story was so cliche and outdated I could guess what’s going to happen next most of the times and I got bored.

          Of course this formula was made by me based on my experience to meet my own liking. So it could be different from your and everyone else’s preference.

          • missjb

            Haha.. Well I’m 50 : 50 regarding what I choose between a good PD or a good script. It’s depend on my mood. BUt at times I’m a sucker of a good visual storytelling, Its like an art if you figure out their strong message that can elevate a mere decent script look good. But of course good PD and writers that match each other style is always great.

  12. 12 lunatic4KD

    OMG – I guess I really do have to watch Monstar.

    • 12.1 gem

      I loved Monstar but bring your expectations down for the closure. Think of this series as their experiment so you can fully enjoy the ride. 😉

    • 12.2 Wag_a_Muffin

      I watched Monstar with my (then) teen aged daughter. Perfect drama series for that age. (And I enjoyed it too.)

    • 12.3 nchoe

      Give it a go. It’s really good.

  13. 13 Gelai

    Ahn Pon-Seok has a knack for beautiful framing and lighting. It’s amazing and lovely to watch.

    Kim Won-Seok is brilliant for creating a world. The production values in his last two dramas are no joke.

    Shin Won-Ho knows the way to my heart and emotions. I am forever thankful for him for bringing to life stories about families, friendships, first love, and unrequited love.

    The top 3 are my favorites, so I can’t ask for anything else.

    But, What about directors of the olden days? I’m sure there are some brillitant PDs then

  14. 14 don'tknow

    Who’s the PD of Jealousy incarnate? I’ve always felt like I have seen his work before this one but couldn’t get what is this feeling…

    • 14.1 gadis

      Park Shin-woo PD. He penned Phantom/Ghost, Hyde Jekyll Me, and Angel Eyes before. Nothing special in his resume, and that’s why it was quite shocking for me because the directing in JI was so distinctive and unusual. I guess sometimes PD also need to find a writer that match his/her style to create something great.

      • 14.1.1 Chandler

        I really would love to see him teaming up with Seo Seok-hyang again. They both elevated each other, though she’s worked with good directors before. Not only did he use some really unique visual tricks and clever sound effects to great effect, he was really in tune with her scenes, knowing just when and how to take a moment from heartbreaking to hilarious and right back again.

        They could team up again with Jo Jung-suk while they’re at it! Since I know the writer likes to work with her main leads multiple times, I really don’t see why she shouldn’t continue the trend…

        I actually remember really enjoying the first 2 episodes of Angel Eyes, despite the bad cgi. I loved Kang Ha-neul and Nam Ji-hyun together, so much that I stopped watching and just pretended they were happy, lol.

        • siesta

          re: Angel Eyes
          me too, i LOVED the first 2 eps with KHN and NJH.. i was sad to see them go, and then the rest of the drama just bored me so i dropped it.i had the same problem with Moon Embracing The Sun- loved the childhood part so much more than the adult cast lol

          • Midnight

            100% agree on Angel Eyes. The childhood part was perfect. And it wasn’t because the child actors were better. The tone and sense of the story changed completely when they reached the adult part. It is in fact the only show I have stopped watching with only 4 episodes to go.

        • gadis

          Another project by this duo is much welcome (especially if Jung-seok oppa also come along). Writer Seo Sook-hyang seems to suit PD Park Shin-woo’s style, which is thoughtful but also hilarious at the same time.

          One of his visual trick that I think really brilliant was the way he show flashback scenes in JI. He insert those scenes in the present scenes, so we can see the character’s reaction in present timeline and prevent those scenes from being redundant. That was great and clever. And I can’t believe others never really use that kind of trick.

          • Chandler

            Exactly! I love when he would play a scene on a tv right over a character’s head. That was such a fresh way of showing what was on the characters’ minds without slowing down the narrative with actual flashbacks (which he did employ occasionally). It was also especially clever and fitting for a show set in broadcast news!

    • 14.2 MyGirl2016

      Oh ya.. That PD nim was daebak too. I’ve seen a picture of Gong Hyo-jin with her arms around the PD nim taken somewhere on the set and she posted the pic and wrote some nice words about him under the pic.. About him being a great dad and some other nice human being stuff (which I forget now). I love it when people are talented and also gentle and sincere. And he smiles a lot too in JI’s BTS videos. Good -natured, great with kids, gives away smiles freely – That’s my favourite combination in a man. Wait..what were we talking about again?

  15. 15 Chi

    Some people say variety shows in korea are heavily script. I dont think Na PD shows are not much script? more like he works his way through the material.

    • 15.1 Boomboompow

      Yep I think so. I remember the rumour (?) that when Jang Geun Seuk has to be edited out of his show because of a scandal, Na PD edit it in a way that the other boy took credit of his actual chore work in the show.

  16. 16 faith

    No Pd Jo Soo Won of ICHYV and Pinnchio, Gap Dong 😭😭😭. Its fine Pd Jo. I like the drama you direct. Too bad , you wont direct While You Are Sleeping😭

    • 16.1 faith


    • 16.2 Celine

      I like Jo PD too! I was expecting him to join forces yet again for WYWS but sadly he’s not part of it.

  17. 17 earthna

    He’s not even a drama director but Na PD’s variety shows have always been dramatic and shot beautifully!

    Where the hell is Jang Taeyoo? I’ve heard he’s been busy in China but I want him to do another Korean drama. Tree was just so beautiful all through out.

    The director of Flowers for My Life was really good too. That drama had really amazing poetic shots. Not so sure if he did more dramas after that.

    Also, Signal and Misaeng were both awesome pieces but it wouldn’t be as great if not for the director. He did really well.

    • 17.1 Chandler

      I was about to mention Flowers for My Life! There are a handful of dramas that I’ve loved the directing of, only to discover that the director hasn’t really done very much since…or very much to interest me, I guess. Loved the directing in Qué Sera Sera, but that director hasn’t done any noteworthy dramas in a while. Same with Alone in Love and quite a few others.

      • 17.1.1 missjb

        well It’s happened. It’s not their fault the writers sucks kkkkk. Kin Yun Cheol, Kim yong so, has way more talent than those several director above. also kim jin min. It’s just it’s not theor dault they keep getting work with bad writers

  18. 18 Jazz

    I guess the PD of Coffee Prince could be included as well

    • 18.1 Gelai

      She would have been, except that she also directed that drama we shall not name.

      • 18.1.1 Jin

        Yeah, that drama which-you-know-what makes her lose much respect.

    • 18.2 nchoe

      I guess not. Her notable work was only Coffee Prince. Oh well, CiTT was also very notable, only not in a good way.

      But I love her taste in music.

  19. 19 Yaya

    I’m still clueless about PDs, so this was a very nice introduction on what I should look for while watching a drama. Thank you☺

    • 19.1 happeyness

      Me too! I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point of recognizing a PD’s work just from watching a show.

  20. 20 siesta

    don’t really know who’s the person behind it but i have to applaud the stylistic directing of W-Two Worlds.. the way they make both worlds visually distinct was stellar. also the transitions between manhwa and real world were swoon-worthy

    • 20.1 wapz

      This! But I do think this pd has a tendency to go a little overboard. I felt like the two worlds in W were not as subtle but a little loud. The same with his previous work that was she was pretty, I thought the colors were a little loud. But nevertheless he still did a great job with W and all the cgi.

      • 20.1.1 siesta

        the manhwa world were brighter, the colors a lot more saturated, and everyone seems to have their own personal lighting lol, so the effect is more cartoon-ish. in the real world the colors and light were a lot more muted, more life like
        the differences were subtle but you could definitely tell which world we were looking at at anytime and that was pretty genius i’d say.

  21. 21 Needaname

    Wow…I can barely keep track of actors I don’t know anything about the directors! I guess that’s why there is Dramabeans! Such a great resource, thank you! I love your top 10s!

    Are you planning to do a Top Ten OSTs?! I was just thinking how hard that would be! I have been listening to the Goblin soundtrack and keep thinking how good Kdrama music is!

    • 21.1 Jin

      I extremely want this top 10 ost to happen!!!

    • 21.2 maknae_reader

      If this were to happen, Touch Love of Yoon Mirae should be in the list. One of the best ost in a kdrama.

    • 21.3 happeyness

      A Top Ten OSTs would be awesome!!

  22. 22 Flightey Gazelles

    Wow, I’m desperately ( apparently not desperate enough) needing to watch Secret Love Affair. The posters were provocative and gloriously burnished and now, that image used in the post( I’m thinking its from SLA right?) is just making me go…gah, where can I find the time? I love the expression of the lady, must be really healing music lol

    Glad to know the director for SLA also directed Heard it Through The Grapevine, I remember it been mentioned that the colour pallette of the posters for both shows were similar. I’ve watched neither but can’t wait to!

  23. 23 fay

    Goblin’s director should have received a mention. Don’t know about DOTS, but goblin was so well directed and the cinematography was so good to look at.

  24. 24 Taeki's Parking Teacher

    THANK YOU, DB!!!!!!!!!!!

    For putting Bogummie‘s TWO MOST SUCCESSFUL DRAMAS in TWO spots in this TOP TEN. Hihihihihihihihihihihihihi..

  25. 25 Taeki's Parking Teacher

    BTW, DB..
    Where can I find the result of 2016 Drama voting? I’ve been searching it everywhere but couldn’t find it. and all of the 2016 reviews as well.

  26. 26 wapz

    Such a great post guys. I have always been looking for pds and writers while choosing what to watch and this was extra helpful.

    You should do top 10 music composers of osts too because besides m3lon4’s post we know nothing about the people who bring us these wonderful osts in dramas.

    • 26.1 bbstl

      I was thinking recently that I should make myself the project of looking up the music directors of my favorite OSTs to see how many of them overlap, that would be an interesting list.

    • 26.2 m3lon4

      Yes! I’ve been waiting for a Top 10 OST/Music Director post from DB too. I did one sometime ago but it would be great for the DB staff to weigh their opinions in. I’m sure they’ll have fun researching.

      This Top 10 director list was great too. I would put PD Kim Won-seok at the top of my list. I’ve consistently watched all his mentioned works and will continue to do so for all his future projects. The others are a bit of a hit and miss for me. I’ve enjoyed some, but dropped a lot as well.

      • 26.2.1 missjb

        Music director from heartless city and My Beautiful Bride is one of my fav… Also Que Sera Sera and The Princess Man BGM music

  27. 27 MapleSilver

    A great post, a great list! And I am so glad you include the director of Awl and This Week My Wife Will Have an Affair. I love everything about This Week and I attribute that to this director and his team of writers.

  28. 28 chanelboy

    thankyou!! DB STAFF JJANG!

    I’m not sure, but TOP 10 Thread is one of my most waiting-favourite thread ever! hahha.

    is just voicing out our own Awards we have been keeping it lowww so many years! is different from Year Awards, since this is like the overall all dramas we’ve consumed over the years, and this is the EGG WE HAVE HATCHED!

    Can JB GF & DB STAFF heard another suggestion?

    I went thru old files & gasp, OMO, this drama? OH u exist! Bcs we tend to remember glorious dramas when some dramas, we surellyyy forgot they ever made in first place.
    ex : I personally forgot YongPal, when I still clearly rememba Gaksital, ok even stupid Fashion King is still in my mind somewhere.

    *TOP 10 MOST ADORABLE/MEMORABLE SIDEKICKS (this is not the 3rd wheel / just bromance, is those small character that scene stealer everytime they shown up, we want more of them but thats it. I don’t know how to name them. ex : Deokhwa Goblin, Ajusshi City Hunter, Cheong Seong Yi’s lil brother in YFAS, etc

    I help u some : cheong song yi, she was pretty (the 3rd wheel i forgot her name), producer’s gong hyo jin, etc



    *TOP 10 MOST SATISFIED ENDING DRAMA (this one is super hard, i bet lol)


    • 28.1 MapleSilver

      I also want TOP 10 AHJUSSI and TOP 10 FEMALE ACTORS in THEIR 30s or OLDER (somehow AHJUMMA does not sound right).

    • 28.2 starswillshine


    • 28.3 bbstl

      Now this makes me want a Top Ten Eye-Rolling Head-Shaking Forehead-Slapping Ridiculous Villians. Yes, I’m looking at you, K2H 🙄

  29. 29 Maria

    Also Kim Kyu-tae is a very good drama director. His work includes: ”That Winter, The Wind Blows”, ”Padam Padam… The Sound of His and Her Heartbeats”, ”IRIS” and ”A Love to Kill”.

    • 29.1 Gelai

      He was also my favorite. But he also messed up Moon Lovers, a fully pre-prodcued drama. I’m baffled that he was not able to take control of that drama. He waste a lot of money there.

      But yes, Padam Padam was beautiful to watch thanks to him. With IRIS, he proved he can to do scenes in massive scale with great confidence.

      • 29.1.1 fab

        Wow, I can’t believe it’s the same director. You would think he had limited budget, but I guess that can’t be the case since it was slayed to be sold abroad for big money. UGH still bitter. Heh.

      • 29.1.2 Mashimomo

        The close ups were not as distracting to me when I was watching Its OK That’s Love (one of my favorite dramas ever), compared to my watching experience with Moon Lovers. Or maybe because Noh Hee Kyung’s slice of life approach works well with his directorial style, some close ups and really vivid coloring adds so much to the story I feel. I appreciated the beautiful faces in ML but it clashed so much with the whole flow of the story, not to mention that messy editing job that they did.

    • 29.2 sorrynotsorry

      Three of his signature dramas have the same writer, and they seem to work very well together. I didn’t love TWTWB, but I could almost feel the frost in the air while watching that drama it was so beautifully filmed. I think with ML he was given a big budget, didn’t have to worry about the live shoot and let his ego get away with him. Specifically in the way he did the close ups. It’s not like he didn’t do that before but certainly not to the level he utilized in ML. It’s very time consuming to set up those shots.

      So LJG signs on to ML specifically to work with this PD, and the PD has the writer re-write a chunk of the drama to focus more on the 8th prince character even though they don’t have the episode count to make that work like in the C-Drama; he doesn’t protect IU (did he not foresee the wide eyed look criticism coming) who I thought was good but she has a limit, and got the production so far behind schedule it was like a live shoot by the end.

      He is a talented PD but for letting his ego get the best of him, he doesn’t deserve to be on this list. And I say this as someone who actually liked ML (excluding least 3 episodes) and don’t have a problem with the way it ended.

  30. 30 Loolu

    I hope Na PD brings his next show to Guam. Just hoping…

  31. 31 garcia_marina

    what does PD mean?

    • 31.1 fab

      Production Director. I think Na PD is the best example as he seems to be managing both the producing and directing of his variety shows.

  32. 32 mk

    Aw, my faves Kim Yong-Soo and Park Chan-Hong are missing.

  33. 33 royal

    It’s amazing how two PDs of Discovery Of Romance are both PDs with solo works that I really like.

    Also ooooh, I didn’t know Tomorrow With You and Oh My Ghostess have the same PD. Now that I think about it, the silent moments on both dramas have the same melancholic feel to it. It’s just less pronounced on Oh My Ghostess because of the genre.

  34. 34 YuKi

    Yes… Na PD! I am so glad you guys added him in cos he really deserves this honour.
    I started to notice him from 1N2D and he got my hubby and me hooked onto S.Korea’s beautiful scenery and food, not forgetting the touching bromances between the members.
    When he branched out into cable, it gave him more freedom in creativity, churning out hits after hits from Grandpa over Flowers, Youth over Flowers and 3MAD to name a few. Honestly, his directing and editing skills are executed almost flawlessly, turning mundane activity like cooking into something of an art. He also gave celebrities like Lee Seo Jin (aka SeoJinnie), Cha Seung Won (aka Cha-jumma) and Eric Mun (aka E-Chef) a boost in their popularity by showcasing a different side of themselves.

  35. 35 MyGirl2016

    Omo..omo..omo! I can’t believe my eyes! My favourite PD-nim on the list!!
    @ javabeans – I admit. I have been sorta, kinda holding a tiny (Ok, fine, maybe not so tiny) grudge against you ever since you included King of High School in your list of dramas with a bad ending.
    But….from this moment onwards I want us to make up. Let’s officially bury the hatchet. Water under the bridge. Bygones be bygones. Let’s start over. Be friends again. 🙋

    Very happy to see you mention Yoo Je-won PD and very, very grateful too. Saranghaeyo ❤❤❤

    P.S. Also a big cheer for Na PD. His variety shows are the best.

  36. 36 Rinny Kingdom

    Please do Top 10 favourite BG songs directors next. \(>.<)/ kyaaa

  37. 37 CaramelBeurreSalé

    Nice top 10, Na PD is love so i’m glad you made a spot for him.
    What about a top 10 Drama vilains? those we love to hate and well written, thinking of YFAS’s delicious vilain

    I also think of Top 10 most ridiculous PPL scenes: looking at the K2

  38. 38 sorrynotsorry

    I usually focus more on writers and a few favorite actors than PDs though I’ve learned many writes and PDs work together since the trust has been built.

    I’m glad DB mentioned that often PDs are given a drama and they have to get it done. Often I see when new dramas come out and the PD’s previous works are mentioned, they get dissed because of faulty stories which they don’t have much control over unless they are upper tier PDs. I think it’s important to realize a lot of times they are not given a choice of dramas.

    I also think that the actors are the most vulnerable. They get a a few episodes and a synopsis and constant criticism of “they need to choose more wisely” when it doesn’t go well. The more I learn, the more I realize it really is a crap shoot.

  39. 39 Porcelain

    Shin Won Ho PD for Answer Me series which series pretty much ruin me in a good way that my standards for dramas these days is so peculiar these days and…

    Na PD!!!! I swear this guy is reincarnation of some pure evil genius!!

    Albeit I was not part of the initial 1N2D series fan, but I watched almost all his varieties with TVN.

    Coming a high watching 3 Meal at Deukryang Island (Eric – heart eyes!!!) and watching New Journey to the West S3 now. Maybe one of the most fun variety ever!! I actually quite like when he is on screen arguing and being petty with the cast. Much hilarious.

    Me and my fangirl bestie is this close to worshiping him.
    He is able to make even mundane things lit up. Like the premise of New Journey to the West S3. Its just some random blokes playing games on a sight seeing tour much like 1N2D but he is able to make so fun, yet so full of heart and lol moments with witty captions and funny games!

    And the pets and animals!!! Never have I been so invested in random animals that are not my own pets… like Jackson the goat, Byul the pretty white kitty and Sanchez the puppy… all the chickens with very pretty name… crabs and abalone has name too!
    And omg.. Yoon Kyu Sang’s gorgeous kitties Kkongie and Mmongie in the recent 3 Meals. Their “stories” amuse me sometimes… how Kkongie is playing push and pull with Seojin’s attention.

    Really Na PD never fail to cease with his and his team casting… The halbaes, Grumpy Seojinie, Chajumma, kidnapping the Answer Me boys for Africa, E-chef Eric, Pessismictic Idol Kyuhyun….

    And I am actually worrying what happens after New Journey to the West S3 and can’t wait for his next new variety or next installment of one of the series.

    Really how could a PD (and his team of course), keep churning out so much awesomeness, I hope they continue for a long while more.

    I can go on but think I go rewatch the New Journey to the West S3.

  40. 40 healer, healer

    I think you for forgot LEE JUNG SUB…

    The director of:

    Healer, Glory Jane, Baker Kim Takgu, and Lawyer Jo, etc….

    • 40.1 maknae_reader

      Wow. I did not know that the same PD has done 3 of my favorite shows.

  41. 41 kanz

    Ah my favorite director is up there… Jang Tae Yoo PD!!!
    My love knows no end when it comes to this PD. My favorite drama is up there in his resume, Painter of The Wind.. as the name suggests this one about Joseon painter and boy did he craft the drama masterfully you’d see paintings come to life and a drama that brings out the audience feelings just in a right way. Not to mention, he could really trick us into thinking the character really did paint something, not the actors using body double who paint for them, with elaborate shots and editing.

    I love his other dramas too, Tree With Deep Roots and You From Another Star. You’d see the difference between YFAS and LOTBS right away if you compare the frames and CGI. YFAS is more subtle and more beautiful and the CGI is just the right amount.

    As YFAS also use two timelines, Joseon and modern, and his previous directorial success POTW that also involved paintings, somehow I kept thinking what if Jang PD directed Saimdang. With Saimdang PD, I feel an emotional whiplash going back and forth from Joseon era while at the same time doesn’t really absorbed in Saimdang’s story as artist/painter. It somehow looks unconvincing. As previously shown in POTW and TWDR, I think Jang PD would infuse each frame with creative flair and create a world where we’re convinced how great/talented/amazing Saimdang is.

  42. 42 h2h

    Kim Cheol-Kyu.. Of ‘my beautiful bride’ and ‘on the way to the airport’..he’ll also be directing the upcoming ‘chicago typewriter’ apparently..

    • 42.1 maknae_reader

      My beautiful bride had some awesome action scenes. I remember watching it and was in awe with the cinematography.

      • 42.1.1 missjb

        I agree.. his directing in my beautiful bride for me is just brilliant. More than the pretty, the whole package from BGM to action scene is just awsome and make the writing shine. I have to start watching On the way to the airport if his directing is just as awsome. But it might be not the same genre so the feels might be different.

        • h2h

          ‘On the way to airport’ might not be watchable for some people due to the nature of story. but the writing and directing are so good and complementary that together they create a very stellar product. I highly recommend it.

  43. 43 Ah In

    Yay for Ahn Pan Seok – Secret Love Affair & Grapevine – truly great direction. It was ART.

    Excellent PDs I have enjoyed most of their works
    Moonlight, You From Another Star, Heartless City, Sungyungwan Scandal, Answer Me series, Queen Inhyun’s Man

  44. 44 Ah In

    Director Kim Kyu Tae is conspicuously absent maybe because of the colossal close-ups on Moon Lovers which I heard f**ked things up. Oops, ha ha.

    He definitely has his distinct style though, that worked brilliantly well with writer Noh Hee Kyung’s edgy intricacy. I hope they pair up again in the future

  45. 45 zashi

    Some of my favorite PD’s are in that list. Namely NA Pd, you just know he was truly talented when he first worked on 1N2D early on. But he was golden when he moved to cable. The shows he produces though different themes and topics just are hits.

    Shin PD with his work in the Reply series was just touches your heart.

    Some of my other favorite PDs did not make the list. The fairly recent ones PD Lee (of Dots and Goblin). But sad the older PD’s are not in there . Namely the seasons series PD Yoon, I think they deserve mention too. After all Hallyu started with those gems of works.

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