[2017 Year in Review] Dramas that hit my soft spot
by Guest Beanie
Every year we get a good mix of wonderful dramas, as well as many that didn’t quite match up to our expectations. The amazing ones earn a spot in our personal collection of Best Dramas Ever, while the letdowns we drop after a couple of episodes (or survive till the end and try to convince ourselves that it wasn’t a complete waste of time). Of the dramas I’ve watched this year, I feel that unfortunately, a larger proportion of them were letdowns, with only a few gems. Thankfully though, these gems were well spread out and lasted me through the year.
This year, out of all the genres, it was the slice-of-life dramas and some thrillers that really clicked with me. I’ve always been into thrillers and had found slice-of-life dramas to be rather boring in comparison before this. Nonetheless, the commonality between all the dramas I liked this year was how they hit my soft spot and got me thinking deep—whether it be about ethics, morals, the ugliness of mankind, or just simple human relationships.
My love for slice-of-life dramas began with Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju, which I started watching only because of Lee Sung-kyung and Nam Joo-hyuk. As a student myself, Bok-ju’s friendship with her little clique of swag girls really made me yearn for such friends and made me reflect on my friendships: How many of the people I call friends today will I still be on talking terms with in five, or ten years to come? Will there be any friends left at all?
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju
I’ve always been an awkward child around just about anybody, so watching Bok-ju do her crazy cello antics to be close to her crush really did ease my nerves, because I could relate it to some of my own terribly embarrassing situations.
Then came Strongest Deliveryman, which totally got me. I felt a mix of admiration and shock that a drama so critical of the economic system would be allowed to air, but I’m certainly glad it did. I felt the correlation between Hell Joseon affecting Korea and the system in my school, which I felt was also trying to exploit us, whereby the school flourishes at the expense of the broke students. I can’t imagine how it’ll be in a few years, having to chalk up a few hundred thousand just for a prized university education.
But Strongest Deliveryman really affirmed the idea that this world is packed with rich and greedy people. Just like how in Monopoly, it’s always easier (and more beneficial) to rob the poor, in this competitive world, we have a choice of being either the Ohsung corporation, or the soup store grandma. A choice between bullying and being bullied, and rarely do we get a chance to pull a Kang-soo and blaze our own path.
Lastly, for the thrillers, Circle and Duel did a good job raising questions on how humans often use science for their own greedy purposes, and tackled the question of identity, but what I really loved this year was Defendant. Defendant really showed a parent’s love—sacrificial and almost without limits. Props to Ji Sung for his amazing performance, which made it terribly heart-wrenching to watch him give his all to save his daughter.
And even the antagonist of the story portrayed his love for his son till the end. No matter how evil, how terrible Min-ho was, underneath his thick layers of cunning was a heart that truly loved his son and was willing to give up everything he worked so hard for to protect him. Personally, my parents aren’t very outward with their love for me, and I also don’t open myself up to them, so on some emo occasions I’d feel unloved. But extreme circumstances like the ones in Defendant made me realize that if I were Ha-yeon, I’m confident that my parents would have done as Jung-woo did, and that would be the strongest expression of their love there could be.
In my year of drama watching, there have been a couple of good dramas, which regardless of genre, have come to touch my heart and opened my mind to personal reflections. I may not have watched as widely as other beanies, but I’m sure that we’ve all had similar experiences with dramas that have hit our soft spots.
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