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Top 10 favorite drama writers

javabeans: So, this seems like a pretty self-explanatory list.

girlfriday: Our favorite writers? Yup. They write dramas. They’re our favorite.

javabeans: I suppose the only criteria we had for this list, other than liking the dramas these people wrote, was that we skewed toward writers with a strong overall history of writing great dramas. Rather than, say, just those who wrote our favorite shows, or those with spotty histories.

girlfriday: Yes, because otherwise this would just a list of our top dramas. And there are some writers, like the Hong sisters, that I loved for years and years… and then didn’t so much.

javabeans: That was a sad trajectory, because any other writer who had seven or eight solid hits in a row and a couple of duds would have still been considered great writers. It’s just that their weakest dramas came at the end, and all together, and made us worry that maybe they’re not so good anymore.

girlfriday: Or got tired. Which still makes me sad, but we can’t ignore the recent shows.

javabeans: Of course, there are examples of the reverse, too, where a writer we might not have thought much of over several dramas starts turning it up with great work. Those are happier trajectories.

girlfriday: There is something really gratifying about following your favorite writers and seeing them constantly trying to one-up themselves. As much as we love our favorite actors and actresses, ultimately as fans of dramas, it’s the writers who make or break a show.

javabeans: Yes, as we know from watching great actors work with crappily written material—it just doesn’t work. But as long as there’s a great story and great characters, I’ll follow you there.

girlfriday: For years, apparently. Here’s our list!

 

1. Lee Woo-jung

girlfriday: Lee Woo-jung has taken more of my tears than any other writer in dramaland; some were tears of paaaaaaaiiin, and some were tears of joy, but mostly they were tears of empathy for the way she portrays growing pains and familial love. That’s probably her greatest strength as a writer, and why her Answer Me series has become such a sensation.

The franchise began with no expectations, since as a variety writer from PD Na Young-seok’s crew on 1 Night 2 Days, she had no drama credits to her name. But with Answer Me 1997 she wrote a loving reflection on youth tinged with the nostalgia of simpler times, and she hit upon something that really spoke to viewers—shared memories of the pop-culture of that time, and the universal pangs of being young and lost. Though subsequent installments Answer Me 1994 and Answer Me 1988 borrow the same formula (a big reason why the first is unbeatable to me), they do stand on their own, and each season has her signature humor, sentiment, and heart. Love triangles may be what people discuss most about her dramas, but what I appreciate is the way she writes moms and dads, brothers and sisters, and friends who treat each other like family. Her characters hide their emotions on the surface the way real people do, but their quiet acts of love speak volumes and move me like no other.

Credits: Answer Me 1997, Answer Me 1994, Answer Me 1988, Grandpas Over Flowers, 1 Night 2 Days

 

2. Song Jae-jung

javabeans: One common criticism about K-dramas is the frequent recycling of storylines and tropes, and the general reluctance to be too risky, too adventurous, or too different. I love ‘em anyway, because to me a drama’s value isn’t only in its originality factor—I can love shows even when the outward conceit sounds completely familiar—but I certainly wouldn’t mind a more adventurous narrative spirit, either.

That’s where writer Song Jae-jung really shines, in her willingness to take her stories to newer territories, in innovative directions; she isn’t reinventing the wheel, but she’s tinkering with the spokes, fiddling with the structure, and generally open to trying new things. Queen In-hyun’s Man was a breath of fresh air as a time-travel romance that presented the problem of how a man from the past could be with a woman from the present when his vehicle between times was an ever-deteriorating talisman. Nine played with time in an entirely different way, with one person going back to purposely change a history that was resistant to being changed. And in W–Two Worlds, she ambitiously created a whole new world and mythos where two-dimensional cartoon characters could become sentient and travel to the real world—only to have their manhwa worlds evolving in response. Song’s complex worldbuilding wasn’t necessarily airtight, but her willingness to continually expand her world’s boundaries and take our characters on hairpin turns struck me as fearless in a way that dramaland very much needs. I didn’t walk away with all of my questions answered, but I was so impressed with Song’s dexterity in throwing in new twists and complicating her rules that I’m still very much looking forward to all the stories she has yet to tell.

Credits: Nine, W—Two Worlds, Queen In-hyun’s Man, Three Musketeers, Coffee House, High Kick Through the Roof

 

3. Noh Hee-kyung

HeadsNo2: Noh Hee-kyung has built her two-decade-long career on shows with deeply complex relationships and realistic characters that are never as simple as they seem at the start. She excels at getting to the heart of what makes people tick and highlighting the human connection between her characters, and her earlier dramas were characterized by a low-key, relatable appeal (More Beautiful Than a Flower, Goodbye Solo). In more recent years, she’s also tapped into a flair for showmanship with more dramatic, sometimes surrealistic stories, such as the fantastical, heart-wrenching tale of a man given a second chance at life in Padam Padam or the stylized high drama of a blind woman falling for the con man passing himself off as her brother in That Winter, the Wind Blows. It was It’s Okay, It’s Love that put all those elements together—intricate relationships, complex characters, fantasy, romance, and a heightened sense of reality—and gave her her biggest hit to date… until she penned Dear My Friends, a story of a group of friends learning about life and love through the years that found heartbreaking emotion in the everyday, and conveyed depth of feeling in the smallest gestures of love. It’s that ability for bringing us into her characters’ emotions that makes Noh Hee-kyung dramas so resonant and gripping—not because her plots are so dramatic, but because she finds the drama in ordinary life.

Credits: Dear My Friends, It’s Okay, It’s Love, That Winter, The Wind Blows, The World They Live In, Padam Padam: The Sound of His and Her Heartbeats, Goodbye Solo, More Beautiful Than a Flower

 

4. Park Yeon-seon

HeadsNo2: Park Yeon-seon has built her career around mastering the ensemble show, displaying a distinctly unique ability to bring a disparate group of personalities together in a way that’s resonant and unforgettable. It’s her ability to find tiny human moments and built characters and relationships around them that give her dramas such a rich, slice-of-life feel, which we saw in her early dramas Alone in Love and Mixed-up Investigative Agency. Her characters come to life as fleshed-out, living and breathing individuals; we see them as real people, either people like us or people we know, which all but guarantees our investment in their journeys.

Moreover, Park has shown range in style and genre, whether it’s the nuanced relationship study that was Alone in Love, the rollicking treasure hunt of Mixed-up Investigative Agency, the haunting psychological thriller that was White Christmas, or the heartwarming ode to growing up of Age of Youth. Her dramas don’t tend to be ratings bonanzas, but her work inspires mania followings—the kind that keeps fans talking years after the broadcast has come and gone.

Credits: Age of Youth, Wild Romance, White Christmas, Mixed-up Investigative Agency, Alone in Love

 

5. Kim Eun-hee

javabeans: Kim Eun-hee has always shown a proclivity for mixing procedural elements with thrills, from her early dramas onward; she co-wrote cable’s comedic mystery series Harvest Villa and forensic-crime drama Sign with her husband, Jang Hang-joon, and then worked solo as she took on cybercrime-themed Ghost and (sorta)-real-time presidential-abduction thriller Three Days. She showed a knack for creating strong premises that were sustained by a steady stream of suspense—and then last year, everything came together in the perfect storm with the massive hit that was Signal. For me, that’s what turned her from a writer I considered strong in a certain niche to a writer capable of greatness, period, because Signal was a masterpiece of tight mystery, crime procedural, complex character development (those eerie, awesomely drawn criminals!), and stirring emotional throughlines that tied the whole show together with deep feeling. I’ve rarely wanted so badly to enter my television screen to rescue characters in peril—and at the same time, feared that idea, because the dangers felt so real and present. I don’t know if she’ll find a way to top Signal with future projects, and truth be told, that’s a mighty high bar to meet, even for someone who set it in place—but that doesn’t keep me from eagerly awaiting what that next project might be.

Credits: Signal, Three Days, Ghost, Sign, Harvest Villa

 

6. Jung Yoon-jung

girlfriday: Jung Yoon-jung’s credits are an interesting mix, since she doesn’t stick to any one genre. She started out in historical dramas, with two seasons of the mystery sageuk Chosun Police, followed by the quirky supernatural sageuk Arang and the Magistrate, which is still one of the best examples of supernatural world-building that I’ve seen in K-dramas, full of gods and ghosts and a whole social order to the afterlife. While the youth music-centered drama Monstar was a departure from those projects, I remember being impressed at the way she weaved the music into the narrative, making the musical numbers feel like extensions of dialogue and the way characters expressed their true feelings, like a real musical.

Those dramas were modest successes, but then she adapted Misaeng, and took a beloved manhwa and turned it into a critically acclaimed hit that spoke to a generation. Obviously we can’t discount the power of the original work by Yoon Tae-ho, but we’ve also seen enough adaptations of popular webtoons go south to know that there are a lot of ways to do it badly. With Misaeng, she took a slice-of-life story about ordinary workers and turned it into a well-paced drama with narratively satisfying beats of human connection that still give me goosebumps to think about. What she captured wasn’t just the grind of the salaryman’s life; it was the drama of life’s little triumphs in big, emotionally compelling ways, telling us that all of our struggles mattered, and making so many of us feel like this was our story.

Credits: Misaeng, Monstar, Arang and the Magistrate, Chosun Police, Chosun Police 2

 

7. Park Kyung-soo

HeadsNo2: Park Kyung-soo is a writer who knows how to get to the deepest parts of a character’s psyche and burrow there for the entirety of a show, giving us some of the most multifaceted and deeply layered characters in dramaland. He creates masterfully complex stories centered around social issues, and manages to get to the heart of those issues in an addictively dramatic way. It was his first series as solo scriptwriter, The Chaser, that burst Park onto the scene as a writer to watch, drawing word of mouth and creating riveting drama out of a father’s desperate fight against the rich and powerful to avenge his beloved daughter’s death. He again proved his ability to create ratings hits out of intense, socially relevant conflicts with Empire of Gold, where he explored the topics of corruption and the class/wealth divide—issues he once again explored in Punch, which he built around a main character whom we shouldn’t like, but couldn’t help but feel for anyway.

The hallmark of his work is his ability to create tension through words and dialogue: We’re frequently trapped in a room with his characters speaking in long turns, but it’s a testament to his skill that watching his characters verbally spar can be just as exciting, if not more so, than a well-choreographed action scene. His dramas have a distinct, cerebral appeal—but don’t let that scare you away. The stories are relevant and accessible, even if they don’t always show the rosy side of life.

Credits: Punch, Empire of Gold, The Chaser, Legend

 

8. Song Ji-nah

javabeans: Of the writers on this list, I find Song Ji-nah’s credits list perhaps the most intriguing in its diversity; you can hardly peg her as one kind of writer or another. Her early career was marked with not one but two legitimate masterpieces: 1991-92’s Eyes of Dawn, and then 1995’s seminal Sandglass. Perhaps it seems odd to follow historical epics with a lighter campus drama, but she did so with 1999’s KAIST. Then, 2007’s grand-scale Legend took her into fantasy sageuk territory, while 2009’s sharp, smart Story of a Man gave us capers and bromance. What’s Up took her back to college, while time-traveling Faith was more sageuk, and then Healer gave us action and romance. I find it difficult to describe what kind of writer Song is without listing all the various shows she’s produced, and the only thread of commonality I can find is that her writing, for me, tends to hit that sweet spot of smart (but not overly cerebral), fun (but not too fluffy), fast-paced (but not too slick), and sometimes even important (but not self-important). I don’t always know what to expect in terms of what kind of story, genre, tone, or even millenium she’ll write about, but I do have a very high amount of faith that I’ll be entertained, moved, and satisfied.

Credits: Healer, Faith, Sandglass, Legend, Story of a Man, What’s Up, Eyes of Dawn, KAIST

 

9. Park Hye-ryun

girlfriday: Park Hye-ryun writes vibrant characters and emotionally uplifting dramas that always make me care a great deal. Her characters just speak to me and I love her earnest, idealistic sensibility, which makes for some fantastic coming-of-age stories like the music-themed Dream High and Page Turner, and also extends to her supernatural rom-coms I Hear Your Voice and Pinocchio, where adults are searching for their place in the world. She writes sassy, lovable heroines with funny flaws and quick comebacks, loving family relationships, and even her villains have some humanity.

Her dramas feel balanced while juggling comedy, drama, romance, and suspense (I Hear Your Voice is probably the best example of this, with a serial killer driving the plot at an addictive pace AND serving as motivation for romantic hijinks). And they hit those unabashed, heartfelt emotional climaxes the way you want (remember when Kim Soo-hyun started to lose his hearing in Dream High and Suzy saved him mid-song?). Her universe is more of an idealistic hope than a picture of the real world, but it’s one where good people do the right thing, justice wins out, and dreams come true—and more importantly, you find yourself fist-pumping along with every small victory, and believing that this is how things could be. Or at least how they should be.

Credits: I Hear Your Voice, Pinocchio, Page Turner, Dream High, Get Karl Oh Soo-jung, Nonstop 5, Nonstop 3

 

10. Kim Eun-sook

girlfriday: Kim Eun-sook is one of dramaland’s biggest hitmakers today, whose shows often become pop-culture sensations where catchphrases and memorable scenes get parroted and parodied endlessly; her classic romances like the Lovers series and On Air made her a household name, and I still see Secret Garden parodies on TV to this day. I think that phenomenon speaks to her specific appeal as a writer, more than just high ratings (though obviously, her dramas are mega-monster hits), because she writes dramas that are quotable and recognizably hers.

Kim Eun-sook is a wordsmith through and through—she crafts very particular speech patterns, enjoys poetic cadence, and turns a phrase like nobody’s business. Her writing is highly stylized (her characters don’t speak like normal people in the real world), but it’s a style I enjoy, full of wit and clever reversals. I can’t always say the same of her characterizations, which skew very heavily in favor of men over women, leading to dramas where the heroes are often glorified and heroines haven’t evolved much past Cinderella. But she has noticeably honed her skills with each new project, and I found her recent shows (The Lonely Shining Goblin, Descended From the Sun) most appealing; though their whopping commercial success probably speaks for itself. She knows how to consistently tap into what people like, which is no small feat. And though she may at times be a polarizing writer, it’s pretty certain that love or hate her shows, we’ll all be talking about them.

Credits: The Lonely Shining Goblin, Descended From the Sun, Secret Garden, A Gentleman’s Dignity, Heirs, City Hall, On Air, A Millionaire’s First Love, Lovers, Lovers in Prague, Lovers in Paris

 
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Kim Eun-hee has the right cup of tea for me : mystery crime thrillers !! :)

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Love this list!! I'm sad the Hong sisters aren't included, but I totally agree that I haven't loved their recent dramas as much as their earlier ones. It was interesting to see all together what dramas were written by what writers. I never would have guessed that the writer of Heirs also wrote Goblin! Some also made sense in a way - Queen In-hyun's Man and W- Two Worlds both being written by the same author.

Also, just want to say thanks for doing these top tens! You guys keep switching things up from what I would make top ten lists of, which would probably consist of things specific to the dramas themselves (not venturing out to who wrote it, who produced it, who starred in it). I feel like I'm learning a lot about the Drama World in general, what with the top ten idol actors and this [Read more]

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I keep on scrolling... and still no Hong sisters name on the list..
too bad

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They explained why in the intro.

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With regret i should have agree, that Hong Sister get slump. Their was my 1st writer i like.

Where is Park Ji Eun? He he he

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Agreed on the top 10 lists, the wide variety they are covering is really eye opening and educating too.

I think a top 10 for music in dramas would be great too, like top composers most often used within dramas. Some kdrama ost are too great for words. Would love to know which composers are more famous for which dramas.

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I agree, a top ten for OSTs or composers would be great! There's so much going on behind the scenes that could be featured in a top ten!

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Park Hye-Ryun is the one that got me biting my nails worrying over the fate of a character.... she turned out to be a benevolent goddess and let them live though. thank you for almost putting me into hospital with a nervous breakdown. until next time.

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Hands down, I think Dramabeans' fave writers are everyone's fave writers. We love them all, we enjoy them all.

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Honestly, although I like most of the mentioned dramas above, I found myself not always following the writers' production. I definitely like Lee Woo-jung, but then only first Reply I watched. I like Goblin so much, but then I remembered onlg Goblin I enjoy so much from Kim Eun-sook. Queen Inhyun's Man is my life time favorite romance, but then only it and W I watched from Song Jae-jung. Then, there is Punch, which at the beginning I did believe it wasn't my cup of tea, then I finished it and didn't feel stupid at all (I'm the type who can understand serious drama), the writer and the writing surprisingly could take me until the last, it's truly awesome.
Of course I agree that Signal is a masterpiece, and just like Punch. At the beginning I wasn't confident that I can finish watching this [Read more]

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I'm surprised that Lee Woo-jung tops this list, even though I know the folks at DramaBeans really like her shows.

She does write interesting side characters (family members, etc.)...but man, every time, it's the SAME OLD GIMMICK! And so many viewers get all wrapped up in it, and the shipping wars begin.

She needs to write a successful drama outside the Answer Me series, with no "guess the OTP" gimmick, in order for me to fully respect her as a writer. Definitely not my pick for top of the list.

So, personally, I'd take her name off, move everyone else up a notch, and add the Hong Sisters to the bottom of the top 10, based on their complete set of works (but hey, what do I know, even though Big was problematic, I didn't think it was a total failure).

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But they followed big with another boring jeju island snooze fest warm and cozy that starred the wonderful but criminally underutilised kang so ra and yoo yeon seok and it was just! So! Inexplicable!!!!! That these were the same writers that wrote my fav rom coms??? I think the problem was that we loved them for their reliability- and once that was gone they got struck off the list of fav writers. Obviously will check out their next work although I no longer have the YES IM GONNA LOVE THIS feeling that I once had

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Wasn't Master's Sun between Big and Warm and Cozy? Arguably, Master's Sun was one of their better shows...

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I totally agree that she needs to just stop it already with the Guess-the-OTP game, but she's still one of my favorite writers despite her overuse of that trope. Her casts of characters are hard to beat in terms of their ability to touch my heart and tickle my funny bone.

I think it's a real shame that some people chose not to watch Reply 1988 for fear of getting burned again because the focus in that one is much more on the whole community of families and neighbors in general. And it's one of the most heartwarming communities ever. It seems like most of OTP-related pain that people experienced from that drama came from the last few episodes, so I'd say just skip those if you're worried, but don't miss out on all the other goodness the drama has to offer.

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I agree with Risa to the T. What made Reply series awesome is the relationships that I feel speak to my heart, and I can only hope my children will get to experience. Reply 88 sense of community, can only be topped by Dear My Friends friendships for me. I'm not much of a crier in watching dramas, but R88 and DMF cmade me bawl my eyes out.

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*who cannot understand serious drama, I don't have that capacity in my brain.

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Definitely Park Hye Ryun and Jung Yoon Jung for me!
Tbh from the list Kim Eun Sook is the writer whose shows I watch the most.. since her shows are very popular..
but if we're talking about quality, I have soft spot for Park Hye Ryun (IHYV, Pinocchio, Page Turner) and Jung Yoon Jung (Misaeng & AATM).

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yeah..anyone got their own favourites..
My always TOP 3 will forever be

-Jin Soo Wan
-Park Hye Ryun
-Lee Kyung Hee

I really love their writing style..♥

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My mind cannot compute (still) that Heirs and Goblin were written by the same writer. The most improved writing award should go to KES! lol! May she continue to improve and never look back during the awful days of Heirs.

PHR is just amazing with her characterization. Her stories are nothing spectacular or out of this world, but her characters are fleshed out and I love that in my drama.

May these writers grace us with more of their wonderful work this year and the years to come.

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Agree with you about KES. I thought DotS was a joke (I enjoyed the humor, but everything else about it felt facetious), but Goblin is one of my all-time top ten (I'm still young-ish, and there are so many past, and yet-to-be written dramas to look forward to!).

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Secret Garden was first KDrama and was my crack drama for sometime. I will be forever thankful to Eun-sook for getting me into KDrama. But Ugh! That thing called Heirs??! I couldn't watch DOTS beyond episode 5. Maybe one day!

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I'm wondering if the inconsistency has to do with her back-up writer? I heard or read somewhere that DOTS was half-written by a 2nd writer, and it struck me immediately as a cop-out way to go about things. And would definitely explain inconsistencies between dramas, too.

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Same here... Goblin is waaaaay better than Dots and Heirs. Maybe fantasy is that writer's cup of tea: inventing from scratch is easier than writing plausible stuff. Dots' plot was awfully conceived and written, and both Dots and Heirs' idiocy fried my braincells (especially when the scenes were set abroad, with characters RUNNING from Hollywood to Malibu - like... 70 Km? - or when characters came back from the dead - fresh and new!- like nothing happened after being shot and adminstered CPR).

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Hong Sisters??? But u have watched ALL of their dramas. But I think I agree with the others in the list. And whoever wrote Queen In Hyun and Nine is my top 3. If We have top 10 male lead in a drama, Kim Bong Do will be my number 1.

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Yup.. felt the same..
no Hong sisters?
Why???

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They have explained earlier why Hong Sisters were not included in the list. I really enjoyed their earliest dramas. Since their latest dramas didn't do that well, their good dramas really felt like history.

BUT I am wondering where in the list is Park Ji-eun, the writer of My Husband Got a Family, My Love From the Star, The Producer, Legend of the Blue Sea? She's phenomenal too.

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Yes, Park Ji-eun.

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Ahh! Yes, I thought she was going to be on the list as well. YWCFTS was huge too... Oh well.

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I still don't agree with leaving the Hong Sisters out though. Few of the writers on this list have perfect records - some duds are definitely mixed in with the "greats", and considering just how many dramas the Hong Sisters have penned (10!) it makes sense there'd be some flops. But that doesn't take away from the amazing dramas they have penned, and have yet to pen in the future.

Why, just swapping the airdates of Warm and Cozy and Master's Sun (especially if Master's Sun had aired this year) would've propelled it onto this list. It's just because they're judging by the most recent crop; not by overall potential. Just watch: Their next drama will be another hit, and we'll be reading raves in the recaps while some of these "top" writers pen less than stellar stories.

It's clear tha [Read more]

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Yes, I agree. I could knock one or two off this list for the Hong Sisters. Rom/Coms are incredibly hard to really do well and they have several that I'd put on the best K-Drama rom/com list of all time. So I'll just respectfully disagree. Ha!

I also love the writer of 49 Days, Two Weeks and Twenty Again. She switches genres like crazy so from melo to action to slice of life. I just have so much respect for a writer that can do that.

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Yes, writer So Huyn Kyung is my favorite (along with Kim Eun Hee). I love all the shows she wrote (maybe except for My Daughter So-young, her biggest hit, because I haven't seen it).

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Another vote for So Hyun Kyung here!

And I'm sure if this was like top 12 or something, the rom-com Hong sisters would be on here. With some many duds out there, i often forget there are actually still tons of great writers who just happen to have a less than stellar drama here or there.

There is something childish about most of the Hong Sisters dramas which can lead to unrealistic, underdeveloped, and unintelligent characters. And there hasn't been much maturation in their writing after 10 years. Nevertheless, they manage to develop fun dramas and make characters ridiculously lovable. they are magic at setting up chemistry. People tend to lay chemistry is all on the actors, but there needs to be chemistry between the actual characters on paper too.

I hope they do a sa [Read more]

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Ahhh! I almost agreed with you, until you included Mixed-up Investigative Agency, one of the most uniquely wonderful dramas of all-time. Hong sisters most definitely deserve to be on the list, but not before Park Yeon-seon.

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To be fair, that aired a really long time ago, so I may be getting it mixed up with a different drama... or maybe a similar movie. I just recall it being forgettable, which is why I added it to the list. Then again, Lee Minki is always a good reason to watch something anew, so maybe I'll check out the first few episodes to see if it rings any bells...

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I agree! Most of the shows listed are newer, so yes the Reply series came after the Hong Sisters were at their prime...so I wouldn't have dismissed them as they really gave us some of the best shows and were part of the beginning of the whole Korean drama wave. You're Beautiful is still one of my favorites and Best Love! They have been around longer so yes they have more repertoire both great and not so great. Oh well, it's good to see we have a generation of Hong sisters' supporters!

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The point is - it IS a subjective list based on DB staff preference. It is not culled from taking 1000 people survey for the top 10.

In fact I don't think it is even in order of preference.

Everyone has their own list and it's fun to share that here.

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What really bothers me, I think, is that they ARE Hong Sister fans themselves - so when their next drama airs, and it *doesn't* suck, they're going to go right back to singing their praises and their reasoning for excluding them here will become moot.

Meanwhile, a lot of new fans to drama-land, who don't know any better, won't bother checking out their past dramas because they weren't listed on this top-ten list. So even though it IS subjective, there's a huge influencing factor going on here that's hard to ignore, and unfortunately, not everyone's going to bother reading the comments to learn what those 1000 other people preferred to watch instead.

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Which is what we're doing....

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I agree. I mean, to not include the Hong sisters because they'd have some flops but still include Kim Eun-sook? Lol. Heirs is the worst drama I've ever seen and Gentleman's Dignity is up there too.

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This is absolutely amazing, nine of the ten persons on the list are women, traversing across all kinds of genres. This list was a wonderful read, because I don't tend to pay much attention to the writers in particular, other than being generally aware of the big names that keep cropping up; Song Ji-nah (whose What's Up is still one of my most favorite kdramas of all times, and I honestly cannot believe how underrated it is.), the Hong Sisters, Kim Eun-sook, etc. So it's really interesting to discover that so many of the dramas I loved were written by the same writers, and to now recall dialogue and tone and atmosphere, and see how it fits in within their narrative. Like, I would have never related Monstar to Misaeng in any way, except for Kang Hanuel's presence in both [Read more]

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It really is quite striking that so many of our favorite writers are women! Is the overall drama writer landscape skewed towards women? That would be an interesting study. What percentage of dramas are written by females vs. males?

I've noticed that many of the dramas I watch tend to have female writers but male directors and producers. In fact, I can't even think of a female director or producer off the top of my head! Is there a similar pattern in Hollywood?

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Actually, yes, I believe that most scriptwriters are women (and most directors are men, although I don't know why that is.) Maybe they feel like both are represented that way? They cover each other's blind spots?

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The only one female PD i know is Lee Yoon-jung who directed Coffee Prince, Heart to Heart, and Cheese in the Trap.

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Oh yes, I somehow forgot about her! Ah, and until the last few episodes of Cheese, I loved her so much.

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Good job to make something to appreciate the writers. I mean most of us only remember the acotrs mostly, but the writer played very important role.
I dont really think that Kim Eun Sook wrote the best drama, but imo she knows how to make her drama gained majority's attention. That's her specialty. Not only that, she knows how to make her drama popular even after years - see those parodies on Secret Garden. Ppl still talk about Heirs like it was just last year.

Personally I love the most Park Kyung Soo the most from the list. I love Song Ji Nah earlier works (Sandglass <3) but not on her recent works like Faith and Healer. Strangely enough I like Jang Hyeok Rin solely because he is able to create a complex /badass/ strong /villainous female character in his drama (Yong Pal-Ki [Read more]

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No Hee-kyung loves Jo In-sung,
Park Hye-ryun prefers Lee Jong-suk,
Kim Eun-sook has pack of A-list actors,
I love Kim Eun-hee the best.

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I read that Kim Eun Sook has always been courting Gong Yoo, including for DOTS, but he only accepted her offer for Goblin.

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Yeah. She courted him for the past five years which means she wanted GY in A Gentleman's Dignity, Heirs, and DOTS. Thank goodness he chose Goblin. It's the best role (and best work of KES) out of all the said dramas.

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True, GY has a good eye for script, maybe mixed with DOTS' popularity too that he finally gave in. Good for him, now we just have to wait for years before he's back in small screen :(

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Yea I want him back on the small screen as soon as possible.

Part of me is worried that this resurgence due to Train to Busan and Golbin may be his last hurrah though (at least for leading man roles).

He's getting old (for dramaland), unfortunately. At 37, I'm worried he's going to age out of leading man roles by the time he's ready to come back to the small screen.

He can probably coast on the huge popularity of Goblin and Train to Busan for several years. But if he doesn't fit in a small screen role in the next few years while his demand is peaked, and chooses to wait, I'm worried we'd only see him in character roles or other supporting roles, not lead, when he does come back.

Perhaps my fears are unfounded and I'm totally wrong and he'll be with us in leading man capacity [Read more]

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@Emanresu I don't know how I feel about your comment. Part of me agree, but part of me disagree. For example, there's actor like Cha Seung-won who was over forty when he starred in the hit Greatest Love, and there's the talented Han Suk Kyu who is still working it as leading male actor despite being over fifty. I don't think age is a factor of whether an actor is capable of leading a drama. I feel like the more Gong Yoo ages the more charming and attractive he gets, and working in the big screen has made his acting more sharp and better than ever so I don't think we have to worry about him losing that male lead status. What we need to worry about is when is he coming back on the small screen again. I feel like it's going to be a long wait again, but at least I have Goblin to rewatch once i [Read more]

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@Kim

Yea I see your point.

I guess I probably didn't word my comment appropriately.

What I probably should have said is that I'm worried Gong Yoo will age out of conventional 'romantic' male lead roles, the bread and butter of many Korean dramas.

Granted I'm by no means prolific in my sampling of k-dramas. There's A LOT I haven't seen. But of those I have seen, and those I'm familiar with, most romantic leading male roles seem to be given to actors in their late 20s to mid 30s.

When they age out, yea they can get other types of leads. And play the 'older male lead' (e.g. the mentor, father figure). But, again, these are not what I consider the romantic male lead (and what I want Gong Yoo to play).

For instance, your example of Han Suk Kyu is a leading role yes, but not [Read more]

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Oh thank God he rejected DOTS

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for me i love DOTS more. alot of stuff happenning as the show going. Goblin on thr other hand. gah unbearably slow

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I'm opposite you on this one.

I found DOTS disjointed and uneven in quality and lost interest midway.

Goblin, on the other hand, I didn't find slow at all and, in fact, found compelling all the way through.

It's funny how taste and assessment of the same thing differs between individuals haha. :)

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Both DOTS and Goblin has disjointed parts though. they are even. I just never Understand that people think Goblin is more meaty in terms of narrative? In what narrative? because i don't find something meaty in any KES drama. haaha. we are just having fun watch ing her drama.

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Thank you for this list, love them all! I've watched 90% of the dramas on this list (the dramas listed below each writer)... which just means I watch a lot of K dramas!

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BTW, assume that KES is the most highly paid of the list, from her extreme hit-making skills?

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I'm will replace Kim Eun Hee with. Yoo seung Yool as a writers more capable delivering good chrime thriller at least for me in terms of the feels. the only drama I really love from Ki eun Hee is surprisingly Harvest villa. which has alot more intriguing more of her recent drama.

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Seems like we have the same taste regarding crime thriller genre. The most mentioned written by Kim Eun Hee, Signal didnot stun me that much, the setup is similar to the old movie "Frequency" (2000) and the Hong Kong series "To Get Unstuck in Time" (2004). I was also quite disappointed by the fact they treated death like a joke. I was still stuck at ep 12 or 13 (?), and maybe never finish it. Yoo seung Yool's drama, though not without flaws, somehow engaged me so much that I watched throughout till the end without a break.

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*Yoo Seong-yeol

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Yeah Yo Seung Yeol is not perfect, but he get's the basic right what makes a noir or crime drama stand out. structually sound, memorable character, and his underworld dynamics is also compelling. After watching my beautiful Bride, I can't wait to watch what his next drama.

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May I have a request? Can Javabeans and Girlfriday please have top 10 unforgetable sidekick? My number 1 will be Jaesuk, Dokko Jin road manager in Greatest Love. He was the same actor playing assistent for Park Shiho in Queen of Reversal. Please...please...please.

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+1
love the idea
Mine probably Soo-bong from W
or god byeong yeon from Moonlight
(but isn't byeong yeon also the main cast?)

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Most of my favorite writers and dramas are up here! One special mention I'd like to talk about is Yang Hee-seung, writer of Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo, Oh My Ghostess, and High School King of Savvy. None of her works are perfect, although WFKBJ is probably her best overall. Nevertheless, they make me feel so happy while watching them and always have distinctive characters that I will remember forever.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the writers of some of my all-time favorite dramas who weren't on this list and wow... the screenwriter of the amazing Shut Up: Flower Boy Band, Seo Yoon-hee, has only written that drama! She has NO other credits! That's crazy to me. SUFBB was so good, I hope she writes something else in the near future!

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Yes!! :D She immediately came to my mind when I read the title of this post. Maybe not the best dramas out there, but in the last years the ones that she wrote are among the dearest to me. Feel-good and entertaining stuff.
I would say that she and the writers of Misaeng and IHYV are the only ones that would make me watch a drama only because of them.

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Yang Hee Seung is also in my top 10 fave writer, I love all of her works (also in my top 10 kdrama).

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Yes to Yang Hee-seung! Definitely in my list. The previous two dramas aren't perfect. Each had one flaw in them, but overall good dramas. WFKB is the best so far from this writer. It's near perfect for me. What a wonderful story and truly lovable characters.

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Yes YHS! I'm totally looking forward to her works after WFKBJ and OMG! ❤

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OMG and FKBJ are better than the typical fare one gets from KES.

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No Hee Kyung never fails to bring out the emotions in me.
Kim Eun Sook, I watch her dramas just for the sake of watching them because sometimes I become addicted with no particular reason
Park Kyung Soo is a must whenever I want a serious kind of drama.
Lee Woo Jung makes me connect to her characters so much.
Kim Eun Hee will always be my favorite among them coz I've never been amazed by a drama before as much as the consistency that Signal gave me..

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Kim Eun-sook?? The writer who can't write strong female characters and can't even fill 16 episodes with a interesting plot....

Honestly I feel like she is only on the list because her two last dramas were so hyped.

I rather have one more Kim Eun-hee or Jung Yoon Jung on the list than her. But oh well... different ta

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What I meant to say:

Different taste, different opinions. So yeah I will just ignore Kim Eun-Sook.

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This list is for top 10 "favorite" dramas writer... so there's nothing wrong with DB staff putting her on this list.

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Which is surprising since the DB staff has largely been critical of KES's writing.

This is JV's description of DOTS.

"Credit where it’s due: This drama tapped into something special and took the country (and parts of the world) by storm. Plot wasn’t much to speak of, but it had that sweet romance, endearing military bromance, and charming Song Joong-ki. Not really my cup of tea, but I recognize that it had a magic touch. (7 / 8)"

Doesn't seem that JB was particularly impressed by the writing as she was by the ratings.

Both JB and GF were not impressed by the writing in "Heirs" either, and both seem overly generous in their ratings.

"I know it’s popular… but why? A big tease, and then nobody got off. Rom-com drama blue balls. (6 / 5) Not funny enough to be fun, not we [Read more]

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Never finished any of her work either, but she is popular, so that's it I guess

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I actually predicted the whole list before reading it, except for Kim Eun Sook

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7 out of 10 are my favourite writers, too. While the other 3 I still watch some of their drama but don't really love them as much as the rest.

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Among that top ten lists, the only writer whose dramas I consistently watched and liked is Park Hye-run. I loved all the life lessons that she tried to convey in her stories.

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Kim Eun Hee, and Park Hye Ryun is my favorite, I also like some of Hong Sisters work

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Song Jae Jung and Park Hye Ryun for the win. :)

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I'm not familiar with some of the writers' works. Especially Song Ji-nah's. Will try to catch up.

YAY for park Yeon-seon

And why Kim Eun sook? She penned hit dramas, but...but.. well, everybody has different taste.

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Where is Hong sisters? I know that Hong sisters last drama was so bad, but at least they deserved to be in our top 10 favourite writers list. Hong sisters wrote many good dramas.

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Yes...i mean they are responsible for maximum classic crack dramas of all time...

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Regarding the "Special Mentions" category, i would also like to add: Hong sisters, So Hyun Kyung, Choi Wan Kyu, Han Jung Hoon and Kim Young Hyun.

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Agree on Kim young hyun. Her dramas work for me. Queen seondeok, tree with deep roots and six flying dragons 💓💓💓

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Yeah. Greatests sageuk ever. I couldnt recall the writer's name tho.thanks

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I think the Hong Sisters get my "Most Dramas Watched" award just because they have written so many. My Girl, You're Beautiful, Master's Sun, Greatest Love... actually, that isn't that many. I have quite a few of theirs I still need to watch (like Gumiho).

I had to look up the other writers but I approve! So Hyun Kyung wrote Twenty Again which I adored! Haven't seen her others.

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I'm adding Park Ji-eun. Loved her since My Husband Got a Family then My Love From The Star then the rest is history!

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Definitely on Kim Young-hyun!

Queen Seon-deok, Tree With Deep Roots and Six Flying Dragons are "must see" sageuk dramas.

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Any list about writers is incomplete without the Hong Sisters. Yes..they did write bad shows recently (not including Master's Sun) but you can't ignore their wonderful trajectory before that...

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Hong Sisters wrote my favourite romantic comedies. Their meta sense is out of the world great and their puns are so punny!!!

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For me, it's kim tae hee, OMG who doesnt love sunkyunkwan scandal and beautiful mind?
Well, a lot maybe

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Where is park ji eun????? Hong sisters????

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I love all the writers mentioned above (well, except for Kim Eun-sook since I just couldn't enjoy any of her dramas). Honorable mention to Seo Sook-hyang (Pasta, Miss Korea, Jealousy Incarnate). She rise steadily as one of my favorite writer. I just love the way she writes character-driven drama instead of the more common plot-driven one.

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I am glad you mentioned Seo Sook-hyang. I feel a connection with her characters that I don't with other writers' work. Their words are words I would myself say, for example.

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Yah - MK was an underappreciated gem and JI was well done as well.

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Writing a top 10 list for writers would have definitely been tough since they are so many and so good.

I would have also added thw writers of Oh my Ghostess,Weightlifting fairy and Hskos as well as those of Jealousy Incarnate, pasta and miss korea to the list.
And the description of NHK is so apt.

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I agree. After JI and WF, my opinion of these two writers soared. They make it on to my list too.

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Lee woo-jung's Reply88 is the only one in the Reply series I have watched. I like how everybody is inherently good in this drama. No evil plotting, no stealing identities, no birth secrets. We even have a step mom with heart of gold! All the subtle ways the characters care about each other, show love for each other makes this so wonderful.

I loved Nine, liked TM (still thinks we need next season), haven't watched Queen In-huyn's Man yet. W confused me with no defined rules for travelling back and forth. I feel the writer never explains the world she creates. But Song Jae-sung story telling with all this complex universes are so fresh!

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Unpopular opinion :

Adding :
KIm Jin Won (Her Mawang and Ressurection one of my fav of all time, though all her recent drama is actually more a miss than a hit.)
Yoo Seung Cheol (His heartless city and My Beautiful Bride is so memorable to me)
Jung Sung-Joo ( Secret love affair might not be my cup of tea, but I love A wife credential and Heard it Through the Grapevine very much)

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Yes, I would definitely add Jung Sung-Joo!!

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PARK YEON SEON!!! She's got a way with words that makes me can't stop watching.

Noh Heekyung on the other hand makes me want to savour every minute of her dramas. I'm probably in the minority, but I'm such huge huge fan of The World They Live In.

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OH! Thanks for reminding me, I loved the older actresses so much in The World They Live In and should have mentioned them in the "Top Girlfriends" List comments. That was a good drama and there are so many good characters.

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I really liked The World They Live In, too! I found refreshing, very different the usual k-dramas.

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*found it refreshing, very different from the usual k-dramas.

LOL, pardon the typos. I'm still groggy from my really short nap. But anyway, yes, I liked that drama. All the characters were really flawed and not a single one embodied a typical, seemingly perfect k-drama character.

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I actually got really addicted to The World They Live In until the very last episodes (those last plot points though...) because Hyun Bin and Song Hye Kyo were literally the cutest couple to ever exist. Made me terribly sad when everyone was saying it was a bad drama.

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I find Kim Eunsook's writing to be really smug and pretentious. It's in the way she crafts her wording that makes me feel her characters are such jackasses.

Plus I still can't forget how she butchered the cool and kickass Gil Raim.

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My favourite is definitely Park Kyung-soo. Largely because his dramas just seem to have more meaning and gravity. Plus, even though his works are often centered around male characters, the female leads are super cool as well. On the other hand, all the other writers have tendency to create somewhat candy-like female leads.

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Oh, Noh Hee-kyung is also the writer of "Did We Really Love?"! Back then I had a serious case of second female-lead syndrome with Yoon Son-ha as Cho Hyun-soo (she was so beautiful back then and still is in Heirs). It was also the second drama I watched of Bae Yong-joon.

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If we could have a Top10 dramabeans posts, I'd nominate this post. Though... how would one go about it? # of page visits? # of comments? But that would be akin to looking at TV ratings. That wouldn't give a true indication of which post stirred the ye old wanker.

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As a kdrama newbie over a decade ago, I would watch whatever the TV gods would see fit to air. Finally in 2007, when Coffee Prince was airing and I had to go Las Vegas for a conference, I spent days agonizing how was I going to watch the missed episodes when I decided to give Aunt Google a chance. She always promised me she could find me anything and everything. And she didn't disappoint and showed me a world of kdramas waiting just for me. So initially I started the good old fashioned way. Watched all dramas with Gong Yoo and then Yoon Eun Hye, The Voice. And soon the rabbit hole became my world. Later I realized that following the actors/ actresses was not enough. Not all dramas resonated even though the actors themselves were spectacular (some Jung Il Woo dramas come to mind). Then I st [Read more]

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I'm just glad there's Punch writer. I love that drama to pieces.
I agree with everyone here that Hong sister should be mention on that list (honorable name maybe) coz they have long list of great dramas. If this list is made 3 months ago i would definitely disagree with Kim eun sook name here but Goblin totally change that. LOL

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A definite Yes on Park Kyung-soo!

The Chaser, Empire of Gold and Punch were particularly outstanding.

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The writer of samdong let's go to school

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You didnt include The Legend of The Blue Sea, Producers, My Love From Another Star writer?

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Your top 10 posts though not perfect and being subjective – they are such great write ups!

Am enjoying them so much! And will be referenced so many times over so many years!

I cant believe we are already on number 8, is there only 2 more?!! :(

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And they hit those unabashed, heartfelt emotional climaxes the way you want (remember when Kim Soo-hyun started to lose his hearing in Dream High and Suzy saved him mid-song?) -

YES YES YES, I cried like a baby that time! I have got a urge to see that scene immediately. *goes searching for youtube vidoes*

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Park Kyung Soo was mind blowing, intricate & thrilling in Punch. those unforgettable word war & smart & cool characters are what stuck in my mind. Kim Eunhee in Signal & Jung Yoonjung in Misaeng are worthy to mention.
Kim Eunsook is queen of romance, then till now. From Lovers in Paris to Goblin, a consistent hitmaker. loving Park hyerun too esp in Pinocchio :-)

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I was quite unaware of the writers behind the dramas I love, so thank you for a very informative post. I had no idea the same person wrote Faith and Healer... will therefore check out Legend.

I would suggest a natural follow-up would be top 10 directors, even if we know great dramas are a result of teamwork... doesn't hurt to become more familiar with the names behind the scenes!

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Second this!
I'd love to have top 10 favorite PDs because every drama also need good PD alongside good scriptwriter and cast.
My fave will be forever Jang Tae Yoo PD-nim!

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I look forward to seeing Oh Ji-young, the writer who wrote Shopping King Louie, future works. I love Shopping King.

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Park Yeon Seong <3. Super underrated. She's fantastic.

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*Park Yeon Seon

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Kim Eun Sook? With Heirs and DOTS under her name..

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if i rate.. i will list it like that..
(1) Tie between writer Jung Yoon-Jung and Kim Eun-hee.. for (Misaeng) and (Signal) respectively...
(2) Park Hye-ryun for (I Hear Your Voice and Pinnochio)
(3) Noh Hee-Kyung ( That Winter, It's Okay)
i like dramas they write .. they usually write substantial drama... i have enjoyed their various dramas... :)

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I totally get your reasoning for the Hong Sisters...but the fact that I rewatch several of their best dramas to this day while several Kim Eun Sook dramas (despite being entertaining) don't stick with me at all, means that I can't very well leave them off my list. They'd take up the #10 spot for me.

But I'm just glad to see Park Yeon-seon and Song Ji-nah + several other favs.

The Weightlifting Fairy writer has been improving with each drama too. If she has a few more successes, she'll probably make it on my list too.

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Phew! You named 2 of my favorite K-dramas writers: Song Jae-jung and Park Hye-ryun. There are definitely dramas written by other writers that I love, but I will only like one or 2 of their dramas. But with SJJ and PHR I've loved everything written by them and some of my favorite shows are by them. So I am glad they made the list!

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