Drama Ratings

 
Note: These are only series I’ve seen in their entirety. (I’ve seen a lot more series that I haven’t come around to finishing, whether it’s because I got bored, forgot, or couldn’t find the time. I haven’t “graded” those here.)

Also, I’ve separated ratings into how much I like something and how good I think it is objectively. Because there’s often a big difference. ;)

Because there’s nothing wrong with liking populist material. I just can’t quite bring myself to rate one, for instance, above something less “fun” but more substantial.

Javabeans‘s ratings in black. Girlfriday‘s ratings in blue.

K-DRAMA SERIES HOW MUCH I ENJOY IT vs. HOW I RATE IT (of 10)
49 Days (2011)
49일
Didn’t hate the ending, but it did make me think I’d given the drama way too much credit along the way. Decent effort at making a sentimental ghostly-possession story, mucky execution. (7 / 7) The writing carried the acting, but well enough for me to be swept along and care. Love the theme and tone, despite flaws in structure. (8 / 7) -GF
Air City (2007)
에어시티
Hot guys. Cold plot.
(5 / 5)
All In (2003)
올인
Gambling, intrigue, foreign locales—it was a blockbuster hit and people went crazy for Lee Byung-hyeon and Song Hye-kyo. It was almost swallowed by its own hype, but there’s a reason why every revenge/success/empire story tries to emulate this one. (6 / 7) –GF
Answer Me 1994 (2013)
응답하라 1994
Lovely small moments of friendship and family, buried under a mountain of sluggish, self-indulgent meandering. A ruthless editor would have done wonders. (6 / 7) Wonderful characters stretched thin in an endless tug-of-war that loses sight of the big picture. Heartwarming and nostalgic, but also makes you tear your hair out. (7 / 7) -GF
Answer Me 1997 (2012)
응답하라 1997
Nostalgic, witty, and sweet. Captures the pounding fervor and emotional extremes of youth with humor and heart. (9 / 9) This drama ran away with my heart and soul, probably because it felt like the story of my life, set to the soundtrack of my youth. Sharply written, with affection. (10 / 10) -GF
Arang and the Magistrate (2012)
아랑사또전
Creative universe built with a tightly plotted internal logic and a stirring romantic core. Quirky at times, dark at others, and sweetly satisfying. (9 / 8) Love the supernatural ‘verse with its own elaborate mythology, engrossing mystery, and leads bursting with romantic chemistry. A faster plot would’ve done wonders. (8 / 8) -GF
Athena: Goddess of War (2011)
아테나: 전쟁의 여신
You’d be surprised what two guys will do in the name of national security…over a girl. Starts out bloody and badass, but winds down into predictable and safe. (6 / 6) –GF
Attic Cat (2003)
옥탑방 고양이
One of the earlier cohabitation dramas that fired off a trend. Cute chemistry from the leads and funny situations, although the workplace storylines drag the thing down. (7 / 6) –GF
Baby-Faced Beauty (2011)
동안미녀
Plot and characters are familiar, and the heroine’s rather meek for my post-Sam-soon tastes, but it does the workplace setup and the cute noona-romance with a sweet, funny touch. (7 / 7)
Bad Couple (2007)
불량커플
Bursts out of the gate with peppy chemistry, then slows with tears and angst and The Dreaded Illness. Lost interest after episode 6. (6 / 5)
Bad Family (2006)
불량가족
Love it. Heart-warming and hilarious as this motley mock family becomes a real one, without dipping into cheesiness. Kim Myung-min is a hoot. (9 / 9)
Bad Guy (2010)
나쁜남자
I can’t heap enough superlatives for the drama’s assured directing, gorgeous visual appeal, music, acting, overall ambiance. Story drove me nuts. (7 / 7) The ending killed whatever love I felt for all of the above. (5 / 5) –GF
Best Love (2011), aka Greatest Love
최고의 사랑
Tight writing, hilarious scenarios, memorable acting, and a string of the wackiest, yet oddly appropriate metaphors I’ve ever seen in a drama. Feel-good and satisfying. (9 / 9) Pee-your-pants funny, killer cute, at times achingly romantic too. Hits that rom-com sweet spot. (9 / 8) -GF
Big (2012)
Like getting to the bottom of a tasty meal and finding a half-eaten worm. (6 / 4) Promising setup with body swap hijinks and a great cast, but fails to deliver anything but plot hodgepodge. Akin to an emotional drive-by. Perhaps more violent. (5 / 4) -GF
Biscuit Teacher Star Candy (2005)
건빵선생과 별사탕
Gong Yoo as a bleeding heart high school cutie and Gong Hyo-jin as a badass teacher? Sold! This one has comedy, a nice episodic pace, and most importantly, a lot of heart. One of my all-time faves. (10 / 8) –GF
Bottom of the 9th with 2 Outs (2007) aka 9 End, 2 Outs
9회말 2아웃
Two lifelong best friends turn 30 and take steps toward becoming adults…by shacking up together and denying their growing attraction. Yeah, good luck with that. Cute, sexy, and fun. (9 / 9) -GF
Boys Before Flowers
(2009)
꽃보다 남자
Such a hot mess, but a blast to watch. The fandom frenzy was sometimes more fun than the show itself. (8 / 5) It served up just the right amount of crack at every turn. By all accounts this should have been a disaster, but the sum of its parts is better than you’d think—you’ll be screaming at your screen while reaching for the next episode. (8 / 5) –GF
Brilliant Legacy (2009) aka Shining Inheritance
찬란한 유산
It’s the classic Candy Cinderella tale laced with just enough makjang elements to make it addictive. Nothing new, but a good family drama with a fresh-faced foursome in a compelling love square. (8 / 7) -GF
Can’t Lose (2011)
지고는 못살아
Cute and funny, proving that conflict can exist without crazies or baddies. Simple but sweet. (7 / 7) Cute earnest story about a couple whose marriage and divorce are just stops along the road to finding love. (7 / 7) -GF
The Chaser (2012)
추적자 The Chaser
A gripping political thriller with big ideas and a tense, well-woven plot. Worth a watch for the performances, though I wish the action was as good as the written material. (8 / 8) -GF
Chuno (2010) 추노 Visually breathtaking and characterized by sweeping grandeur, though a bit lacking in soul. (7 / 8)
Cinderella’s Sister
(2010)
신데렐라 언니
Marvelous start and stellar acting counter the heavy angst, but the frustrating plot slows to a near-crawl. (4 / 6) What began as a whimsical twist on a classic fairytale devolved into lots of soulful staring. Had enough plot for eight episodes, but at twenty, it stretched my patience thin, despite my love for the amazing cast. (7 / 6) –GF
City Hunter (2011)
시티헌터
It isn’t flawless, but it did everything I wanted it to and then some. Action, intrigue, humor, heart. (10 / 9) This show has ruined me. Now I want every drama to be as badass and heartfelt. Damn you, City Hunter! (10 / 10) -GF
Coffee House (2010)
커피프 하우스
Wacky, offbeat comedy with loose plotting and a light feel, though second half gets heavier. (7 / 7) Quirky characters and compelling main pairing, but it never hooked me completely. (7 / 6) –GF
Coffee Prince Store #1 (2007) 커피프린스1호점 Thoughtful rom-com hit that became a cornerstone for Hallyu. At times cheeky, at times poignant. Standout soundtrack. (9 / 9) Will forever be in love with Choi Han-gyul. The end. (10 / 10) –GF
Dal Ja’s Spring (2007)
달자의봄
Fresh and fun, with dashes of insight into modern (career-)womanhood, rife with Heroine’s romantic and professional foibles. Adorable main couple, great supporting cast, easy to zip through. (9 / 9)
Dating Agency Cyrano (2013)
연애조작단 시라노
Light on emotional heft, but angstless in a good way. Fun rapport between the agency family, breezy romance, and well-used cameos keep things zippy. (7 / 7) An example of a good movie adaption that’s light and quick on its feet, but it never really shot me in the heart. (6 / 7) -GF
Delightful Girl Chun Hyang (2005)
쾌걸춘향
High comedy factor with strong chemistry between the leads, playing teenagers forced to marry who fall in love later. Jae Hee is wonderful, and the directing is sharp. A sentimental favorite. (9 / 8)
Dr. Champ (2010)
닥터 챔프
Main pairing is cute beyond words, and the sports stories are surprisingly engaging. But the best thing about it? That camera. Made every shot moody, crisp, and stunning. (6 / 7) -GF
Dr. Jin (2012)
닥터진
This craptastic show is tons of fun to mock, with amazingly bad directing and laughable dissonance between intent and execution. And there’s no denying the idea itself was intriguing. But taken straight, as a drama? More pain than fun. (4 / 3)
Dream High (2011)
드림 하이
Adorable friendships, great handling of youthful foibles and the shark-infested showbiz waters. A showcase for its idol cast; if only they were better actors, it could’ve been even better. (9 / 8) A feel-good drama about chasing your dreams, full of sing-offs and dance-offs. Earnest in the best way. (9 / 7) –GF
Dream High 2 (2012)
드림 하이 2
Was it lazy, trying to ride Season 1’s coattails, or was it overambitious, trying to be everything and ending up with idol/dance-off/rivalry/romance hodgepodge? It tries both too hard and not enough. (5 / 4)
East of Eden (2008-9)
에덴의 동쪽
Epic, sweeping backstory that broke my heart. The adult storylines had great potential, but landed in a spin cycle of the same conflict for dozens and dozens of episodes. I watched with fervor but am still waiting for my refund for the hours I spent. (6 / 7) –GF
Emergency Couple (2014)
응급남녀
Touted as a divorced-lovers-reunite comedy, it’s awfully low on comedy. Slick and beautifully shot, but emotionally feels empty. (6 / 5) Not bad as a glossy medical drama; as a romance, the couple never convinced me they belonged together. Cute, but forgettable. (6 / 6) –GF
Empire of Gold (2013)
황금의 제국
An ever-shifting game of one-upmanship with three whip-smart characters who bring the world of dirty backdoor business deals to life. A fascinating look at how money corrupts, with memorable performances. (8 / 8) -GF
Exhibition of Fireworks (2006) 불꽃놀이 Started great with lots of comedy, went downhill with convoluted evildoers gumming up the works. Kang Ji-hwan is the only good thing here. (5 / 4)
Faith (2012)
신의
Absurd villains, repetitive conflicts, and a clumsy director bog down execution. At least the leads and their romantic connection hold up their end; the rest tends to plod along. (5 / 6) If there’s any show I wish could get a do-over, it’s this one. Only I wouldn’t sit through all the episodes again. (5 / 5) -GF
Fantasy Couple (2006)
aka Couple or Trouble
환상의커플
Flawed but enjoyable opposites-attract comedy. Its humor overdoes the slapstick, but the Hong sisters writers keep the plot moving. (7 / 7) I could never really get on this train, no matter how hard I tried. The humor lost me, and the chemistry never went past tepid. It didn’t help that I hated the main character. (4 / 4) –GF
Fated To Love You (2014)
운명처럼 널 사랑해
(? / ?)
Flower Boy Next Door (2013)
이웃집 꽃미남
Wistful, sweet, and thoughtful. The first half is pitch-perfect, balancing humor and insight; the second half drags. (7 / 8) A fun cast of quirky characters and a refreshing contemplative tone. Wish the plot hadn’t lost steam in the end. (7 / 7) -GF
Flower Boy Ramyun Shop (2011)
꽃미남 라면가게
Super cute camaraderie in the ramyun family. Jung Il-woo is a hoot. Plot spins its wheels a bit, but it’s sweet and funny. (8 / 8) Adorable spazztastic tale of young love, full of wit and heart. Cheeky in the best way. (9 / 8) -GF
Flowers For My Life (2007) aka I Came In Search of Flowers
꽃찾으러 왔단다
Criminally underrated. Witty with a touch of dark humor. Set in a funeral home, it gives lovely, quirky insights on life and death. (10 / 10)
Friends (2004)
프렌즈 / フレンズ
Joint collaboration between Korea and Japan. Pleasant, with gorgeous leads Won Bin and Fukada Kyoko, but unexceptional. (6 / 6)
Full House (2004)
풀하우스
One of the most popular cohabitation dramas out there—lots of bickering-as-courtship, cute couple moments. It’s overrated (plot becomes repetitive), but enjoyable. (7 / 6)
Gaksital (2012)
aka Bridal Mask
각시탈
Epic in the best of ways. This show has major stones, venturing dark and grim to fearless degrees. It’s not perfect—though its grand, stirring culmination more than makes up for earlier missteps. (9 / 9) It’s not often that dramas can be both wildly entertaining and deeply moving, but this is one fist-pumping gut-wrenching hero’s tale that does both and really well at that. (10 / 9) -GF
Gap-dong (2014)
갑동이
How I wish this serial-killer suspense mystery had more suspense and mystery. The slow pace and lack of surprise can be frustrating, but it offers an intensive psychological study of some damaged characters. (6 / 7)
Girl K (2011)
소녀K
At 3 episodes, this badass shoot-em-up revenge story tantalizes with hints of what a full drama could have done. Doesn’t have time to really get you in the heart, but sets up a great world. If this is the future of cable, I’m onboard. (8 / 8) BADASS. (8 / 8) -GF
God of Study (2010)
공부의 신
Cute stories for the kids, but I am no longer studying for my SATs, so the rest of it bored me to tears. (4 / 5) –GF
God’s Gift – 14 Days (2014)
신의선물 – 14일
Starts with a heart-pounding bang. Plot’s overly convoluted, but strong performances and speedy pace keep it exciting. What could go wrong? OH, THAT ENDING. (8 / 7) Clever, gripping mystery with sparkling performances from Lee Bo-young and Jo Seung-woo. Too bad the plot spun itself into a destructive tornado. (8 / 7) –GF
Gold Rainbow (2013-4)
황금무지개
Please don’t ask me why I spent forty hours watching this show. Then I’ll be forced to answer. Oh, who are we kidding; Jung Il-woo, it’s all your fault. I want my hours back. (6 / 4) –GF
Good Doctor (2013)
굿 닥터
The medical stories are laughably simple and the politics are tedious, but the growth and bonding amongst the hospital family makes for heartwarming human drama. (7 / 7)
Goong (2006)
aka Palace or Princess Hours
Beautifully executed but slow. Gorgeous rendering of fictional monarchy—if only the plot didn’t drag. (7 / 7) I loved the fusion-fairytale world and all the strangeness of an anachronistic set of values placed in modern society. Candy-coated, but all the sweeter for it. (8 / 8) –GF
Goong S (2007)
aka Palace S or Prince Hours
궁S
A reverse-Cinderella tale as an ordinary guy becomes a prince. Disappointing start and poor acting. Still, picked up toward end, inversely to its ratings. (5 / 5)
Gourmet (2008)
식객
Solid execution perhaps obscures a banal story, but Kim Rae-won makes this work. Predictable but enjoyable, like comfort food.
(8 / 7)
Green Rose (2005)
그린로즈
Who doesn’t love a Count of Monte Cristo revenge story? Dramatic thriller veers into over-the-top territory, but the underdog revenge plot can get addictive. Great romantic angst. (7 / 7)
Gu Family Book (2013)
구가의 서
Drama, I sentence you to 422 years of time out. Maybe I’ll like you better then… or maybe sucky endings last forever. (5 / 5) A whimsical spin on gumiho lore with a cute romance at the center. I had fun, but I also tore a lot of hair out. I’ll let you decide if the pain is worth it. (7 / 5) -GF
Haeundae Lovers (2012)
해운대 연인들
Cute chemistry, but the plot is completely insane. Both Kim Kang-woo and Jo Yeo-jung have been better in almost anything else they’ve done. (4 / 4) -GF
Heirs (2013)
상속자들
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 weighty enough to bear its own crown of pain. Like one long angsty music video. (5 / 5) -GF
Hello! Miss (2007)
aka Hello Baby
헬로! 애기씨
Light and jokey, but not much emotional depth. Lee Da-hae can do (and has done) better. (5 / 5)
High Kick 3: Counterattack of the Short Legs (2011)
하이킥 3: 짧은 다리의 역습
Surprisingly well-drawn characters and relationships that mean something. Packs a lot of heart into those 20-minute episodes, and consistently, week after week. Slice of life and poignant. (8 / 8)
High School King of Savvy (2014)
고교처세왕
(? / ?)
Hong Gil Dong (2008)
쾌도 홍길동
This fusion historical drama has action, comic gags, romance, political intrigue, betrayal—but lacks subtlety. The tone is uneven, but Kang Ji-hwan is wonderful. (7 / 7)
Hyang Dan Jeon (2007)
aka The Story of Hyang Dan, 향단전
Fun blending of folktales and modern humor in a fusion romantic comedy. Only two episodes, it’s a silly, Shrek-like goof.
(8 / 7)
I Am Legend (2010)
나는 전설이다
Started off so well, but suffered an identity crisis halfway through. (6 / 5) Why is a law drama masquerading as a rock ‘n’ roll drama? I have no idea. Got off to a great start, and I was humming the songs for weeks. But then it went nowhere…and really, really slowly at that. (5 / 5) -GF
I Do, I Do (2012)
아이두 아이두
Started with cuteness, chemistry, potential. Unfortunately, a slow place and business machinations nobody cares about drag it down. Nice overall character trajectories for our leads. (6 / 6) Lee Jang-woo is the only good thing about this show. (6 / 5) -GF
I Hear Your Voice (2013)
너의 목소리가 들려
Not a subtly crafted show, but compulsively watchable with an addictive pace. The legal stuff is unrealistic, but who’s watching this for the law? (7 / 8) The noona romance to end all noona romances. The cast of quirky characters is memorable, the show’s message heartfelt, and the couple rivals my favorites of all time. (9 / 9) -GF
I Miss You (2012-13)
보고싶다
A screaming, wailing, fucking mess. (3 / 4)
I Need Romance (2011)
로맨스가 필요해
A frank, stylish rom-com about friendship, love, sex, and dating that manages to be fun but not frivolous. (8 / 7) -GF
I Need Romance 2012 (2012)
로맨스가 필요해 2012
Fun, but didn’t manage to capture the magic of the first, both in the friendship department and in the romance department. (5 / 6) -GF
I Need Romance 3 (2014)
로맨스가 필요해 3
Sexy, feel-good romantic comedy with another relatable contemporary heroine, as the franchise promises. Not many noona romances are sizzling, but this one lights some sparks. (8 / 8) –GF
IRIS (2009)
아이리스
Some smoldering performances decorate this explosion-packed action series but the writing gets spotty. More style than substance, a fun ride with eye candy. (7 / 7) Been there, done that. But it’s definitely slick and fun, if you don’t care about gaping plot holes. (6 / 6) –GF
It’s Okay, Daddy’s Girl (2010)
괜찮아 아빠딸
Okay, this show isn’t good. It’s got the potential to be, but is marred by poor acting and weird pacing—it’s like a highlight reel of a longer family drama. Yet, oddly, it draws you in with its good-naturedness and warmth. (7 / 4)
Jeon Woo-chi (2012-13)
전우치
A solid B-list drama. Strengths are its light comedy and the hero’s cute backup team. The villains and romance are its weaknesses. (7 / 7) Good for the laughs, not so much for the effects. Cha Tae-hyun is winning as always. (7 / 7) -GF
Joseon Gunman (2014)
조선 총잡이
Gorgeously shot, well-acted, engaging use of history—just a bit less exciting than I’d wished for. Consistently solid storytelling, but I would’ve taken lower lows to get higher highs. (8 / 7)
Joseon X-Files (2010) aka Secret Investigation Record
기찰비록
FANTASTIC. Quite possibly genius melding of historical record and sci-fi mystery. (10 / 10)
The King 2 Hearts (2012)
더킹 투하츠
A surprising series that hit all my drama sweet spots: idealistic, funny, epic, and sweetly romantic. It could do with better finesse in many areas, but has so much heart that it’s bursting at the seams. (9 / 9) -GF
King of Dramas (2012-13)
드라마의 제왕
Light, funny, and acted with commitment. But what really makes it stand out is the fact that henceforth, I will always see dramaland through the lens of this show’s world. Not a little accomplishment. (8 / 8) What Would Anthony Do? (8 / 7) -GF
King’s Family / Wang Family (2013-14)
왕가네 식구들
Ridiculous characters, beat-you-over-the-head simplistic with its outrageous conflicts. This is makjang in the most dumbed-down way, but there’s a silly entertainment factor that kicks in once you stop caring or taking anyone seriously. (6 / 4)
The Last Scandal of My Life (2008)
내 생애 마지막 스캔들
What happens when first loves reconnect 20 years later… when one’s an ajumma and the other’s a movie star lying about his age? Hilarious, touching, and well-acted. Never a dull moment. (9 / 8)
Let’s Eat
(2013-4)
식샤를 합시다
Part food commercial, part drama, it’s an experiment that has more than a few storytelling hiccups. But the friendship between neighbors is endearing, and the characters are memorable. (7 / 7) –GF
Level 7 Civil Servant (2013)
7급 공무원
I’d said that the funny, flirty spy-romance movie should be made into a drama. I take it back. Silly in the extreme, with no sense to speak of. How are these people functional adults, much less national agents? (3 / 3) This drama didn’t exist. I don’t know what she’s talking about. (3 / 4) -GF
Lie To Me (2011), 내게 거짓말을 해봐 It’s like Drama blew its budgetary wad on the stars and forgot to provide a story. Some randomly cute couple scenes, but mostly so boring. (4 / 3) Drama Cliché Soup, thrown together in the most unimaginative way possible. (3 / 4) -GF
Love & Marriage (2008)
연애결혼
Cute story between an uptight divorce attorney and bubbly matchmaker. It’s like a meal of dessert. Sweet filler, but speedy, flirty fun. (7 / 7)
Lovers (2006)
연인
Brisk start descends into weepy melodrama with birth secrets, family strife, and a Love That Cannot Be that’s more like a Love That Should Not Be. By the end I couldn’t stand it. Oh! The! Tragedy! (3 / 6)
Ma Boy (2012)
마보이
For being based on a big gimmick (pretty boy disguised as a girl star), this tween-targeted mini-drama displays surprising restraint with the gag—played more with sweetness than slapstick comedy. Doesn’t reinvent anything and the young cast is green, but there’s a nice simple story here. (7 / 7)
Man of Honor (2011)
영광의 재인
Cute players, but zero romantic chemistry, and the one-note story never goes anywhere interesting. (4 / 4) -GF
Mandate of Heaven (2013)
aka Joseon Fugitive Story
천명
A solid, heartwarming, well-paced fusion sageuk about a fugitive out to clear his name. Gorgeously filmed and packed with a bevy of awesome side characters who tend to outshine the hero and heroine. What it lacks in crack factor it makes up for with feel-good payoffs and consistency. (8 / 8)
Manny (2011)
매니
A cute premise and a light, episodic format keep this comedy watchable, but the romance angle is the least interesting. Why are the adults acting like kids? (6 / 6)
Marriage Not Dating (2014)
연애말고 결혼
(? / ?)
Mary Stayed Out All Night (2010)
매리는 외박중
Uber-boring. Worst drama I saw in 2010. (3 / 4) Not enough Cute in the world to cover up the crazy mess that is this drama. It sure does try though. And it fails. (4 / 3) -GF
Master’s Sun (2013)
주군의 태양
Smart use of ghost premise to drive the romance—a slow but steady burn, loaded with chemistry. Not quite crack-drama status, but satisfying and sweet. (9 / 8) A fantastic rom-com match-up in the leads. Everything else isn’t as sparkling as you want it to be, but there’s a lot to be said for a magnetic attraction. (8 / 8) –GF
Me Too, Flower! (2011)
나도, 꽃!
What a way to tank a promising series; watching its steady decline was a sad thing as the show lost focus on the characters we cared about. At first, it was unfairly underrated. By its end, deservedly so. But Yoon Shi-yoon is wonderful, despite being terribly miscast. (6 / 6)
Mi-rae’s Choice (2013)
미래의 선택
Agh, it could have been so sweet and interesting. Waffled around in indecision, and not even a cast of likable characters could perk up the cop-out of an ending. (6 / 5) W.T.F. (5 / 4) –GF
Miss Korea (2013-14)
미스코리아
Full of heart, despite a frivolous-sounding premise. Aimless heroine teams with desperate hero to become an underdog team worth rooting for. A sweet, if low-key, watch. (8 / 8) This drama caught me by surprise, but it had a breezy slice-of-life style that made it watchable, and a cast of characters that made it charming. (8 / 7) –GF
Miss Ripley (2011)
미스 리플리
Interesting character study of some unlikable personalities who draw you in with charged acting. Story loses its bite in the end, though. (7 / 7) Not nearly as dark as it sets out to be, but the swift pace makes it an easy-to-watch melodrama with engaging characters. (6 / 7) -GF
Mixed-up Investigative Agency (2007)
얼렁뚱땅 흥신소
Quirky, offbeat, extremely well-plotted. Strong acting, particularly by Yeh Ji-won. A comedy romp, treasure hunt, and mystery rolled into one. (9 / 9)
Monstar (2013)
몬스타
Had the makings to be really special, but fizzled in the end. Atmospheric with strong (though long) musical numbers. Too bad the dip at the end killed the already meandering pace. (8 / 7) Ultimately it didn’t live up to its potential, but it was a sweetly satisfying drama all the same, with good old fashioned teen angst and heart. (7 / 7) -GF
The Moon That Embraces the Sun (2012)
해를 품은 달
A straight-up juvenile romance, dressed up as a grown-up sageuk. The drama’s one-track mind keeps it from having depth or substance, but it’s easy to watch. (7 / 7) The conflict is laughably simple, but there’s a whole lot of pretty to keep you distracted for most of its run. (6 / 7) -GF
My Fair Lady (2009) aka Please Take Care of the Lady, 아가씨를 부탁해 Terribly written plot, even if the chemistry of the couple carries the drama. Skip. (4 / 4) What a waste of Yoon Eun-hye and Jung Il-woo. I felt zero chemistry between the leads, and the plot was so fluffy it evaporated. (4 / 3) –GF
My Girl
(2005-06)
마이걸
Fantastic fun, speedy pace. Super chemistry between the endearing lead couple. (9 / 8)
My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho (2010)
내 여자친구는 구미호
Super enjoyable, adorable chemistry, and great mix of the gumiho mythology with the rom-com bits. But somehow it’s only my No. 3 Hong sisters drama. (9 / 8) Show, you complete me. (10 / 10) -GF
My Love Patzzi (2002)
내 사랑 팥쥐
Short, cute drama with two too-perfect guys and a spunky heroine as an anti-Cinderella. Not very deep, but easy to watch. (7 / 6)
My Name Is Kim Sam Soon (2005)
내 이름은 김삼순
Poignant and funny, worth the hype. (9 / 9) This is the one to beat, in my heart of hearts. (10 / 10) –GF
My Princess (2011)
마이 프린세스
Who knew such a middling rom-com could be a turning point for Kim Tae-hee (and, to a lesser degree, Mr. Robot Hotness Song Seung-heon)? (7 / 6) Mediocre as far as rom-coms go, but the main pair is adorable and cheeky. (7 / 6) –GF
My Sweet Seoul (2008)
달콤한 나의 도시
Halfway between indie and trendy. Plotting is loose, but has a refreshing atmospheric feel and good directing. Unfortunately, I hate the main character. (6 / 8)
Myung-wol the Spy (2011)
스파이 명월
Could’ve been so wacky and hilarious, but changed its mind halfway through and tried for earnest angst. We got tedious moping instead. (5 / 5) What began as quirky absurdist humor ended up just plain absurd. (5 / 5) –GF
Nail Shop Paris (2013)
네일샵 파리스
A weird show, tonally—it’s a hodgepodge of crossdressing, flower boys, romantic comedy, melodrama, procedural, and paranormal. Anemic acting and strange writing make it a head-scratching experience. Song Jae-rim may be the only reason to watch this. (5 / 4)
A New Leaf (2014)
개과천선
(? / ?)
Nice Guy (2012) aka Innocent Man
세상 어디에도 없는 착한남자
Polished, suspenseful, addictively paced. Characters are whackadoo in the extreme, but intense and compelling. Not meant to be overthought; just go with the melo. (7 / 8) Dark and contemplative, with lead characters who are all fire and ice. Fun in a soapy way. (6 / 8) -GF
Nine: Nine Time Travels (2013)
나인: 아홉 번의 시간여행
The definite winner of the time-traveling genre, with a tightly written, complex (and yes, sometimes convoluted) plot that keeps you guessing. Intelligent and suspenseful. (9 / 9)
Oh! My Lady (2010)
오! 마이 레이디
Light and fluffy older-woman/younger-man, housekeeper-landlord romance. Choi Siwon’s charm carries the show. An easy, unchallenging watch. (6 / 6)
Ojakkyo Brothers (2011-2)
오작교 형제들
Cute, poignant relationships make you care about the characters, while the romance keeps you addicted. An example of family drama done right. (8 / 8) A funny, heartwarming drama about a family who gets turned upside-down when a stray little duckling waddles into their lives. (9 / 8) –GF
One Fine Day (2006)
어느 멋진 날
Akin to getting your eyes poked out. I watched for Gong Yoo, but even he could not save this train wreck of a drama that takes every cliché and makes it worse, if that’s even possible. (3 / 3) –GF
Only You (2005)
온리 유
Bleh. I can’t remember why I bothered. Han Chae-young is pretty, but Jo Hyun-jae is wasted. (4 / 3)
Oohlala Spouses (2012)
울랄라 부부
This marital body-swapper should have been uproariously funny. It had some amusing bits, but the couple was too aggravating to wish for reconciliation, thereby negating its entire point. (5 / 6)
Panda and Hedgehog (2012)
판다양과 고슴도치
A makjang dressed in cupcake clothing. Buy a cupcake and skip the drama. (3 / 3) -GF
Pasta (2010)
파스타
The couple is SO cute together, and individually very appealing. Yet there’s so very little plot. (6 / 6) Nothing happens. Ever. Although I would probably watch these two actors weave baskets for twenty hours, so… (6 / 5) –GF
Personal Taste (2010)
개인의취향
The jerky directing is the biggest flaw; the writing is engaging at parts but random in others. Lead couple is well-acted and have charming chemistry. (7 / 6) The untapped potential of this drama nearly kills me. But the main characters are fantastic and funny, and so damn cute. (8 / 6) –GF
Playful Kiss (2010)
장난스런 키스
Despite lack of conflict, the couple is sweet and Jung So-min lovable. But there’s so little story here. (6 / 6) It’s as undramatic as a drama can be, but the cute makes up for it…a little. Jung So-min carries it, although her character can be infuriating at times. (6 / 6) -GF
Poseidon (2011)
포세이돈
Choi Siwon and Lee Shi-young are an adorable matchup. Too bad this coast guard action thriller wants to be cooler than it is. (4 / 4)
Prime Minister and I (2013-14)
총리와 나
A warm, pleasant contract-marriage romance with cute rapport between the mismatched couple. A shame that the ending sputtered out so dully. (7 / 6) They make a sweet candy confection of a couple, but the drama played it so safe it never went anywhere remotely interesting. (6 / 6) –GF
The Princess’s Man (2011)
공주의 남자
Epic and stirring. Constant plot twists, tight political intrigue, and a strong Romeo and Juliet romance with stakes that actually feel life-and-death. (10 / 9)
Prosecutor Princess (2010)
검사 프린세스
Addictive and compelling tale of a modern Love That Cannot Be. The main couple is aces; the rest pales in comparison. It’ll make a Park Shi-hoo fan out of you, and you’ll thank me later. (8 / 7) -GF
Que Sera Sera (2007)
케세라세라
Took a few episodes to fall in love, but boy did I. Intense and unapologetic. Not for the casual watcher. Flawed but complex people drive this character drama. (9 / 9)
Queen In-hyun’s Man (2012)
인현왕후의 남자
Thrilling, romantic, adorable, and engrossing. One of the best of the time-traveler dramas. (9 / 9) Sweeps you up in the romance in a way that many dramas can’t achieve. Some glaring imperfections, but the tone is damn near perfect. (9 / 8) -GF
Queen of Reversals (2011)
역전의 여왕
A comfort-food workplace drama with a lot of heart. The heroine gets put through the wringer, but learns that there’s life after divorce, and maybe even love. (8 / 7) -GF
The Return of Iljimae (2009)
돌아온 일지매
Gorgeous. Poignant. Soundtrack and cinematography are exceptional. (10 / 10) Sweeping, romantic, poetic, and kickass too. I would watch this for a hundred episodes. And then watch it again. (10 / 10) –GF
Rooftop Prince (2012)
옥탑방 왕세자
Uproariously funny once the time-travelers land in Seoul. First and last episodes are an interesting sageuk story, though they feel out of step with the stuff in between. Adorable cast. (7 / 7) Cute, but the tone never hit the right spot for me. Wish it went all-out on the funny instead of spinning its wheels with the needless drama. (5 / 5) -GF
Runaway Plan B (2010)
aka Fugitive Plan B,
도망자 플랜비
Wastes a lot of time in the beginning with flashy action and goofy comedy, but once it settles down, there’s a compelling conflict here. Rain does a fabulous job juggling emotions, action, and humor. (8 / 7) Overly simplistic plot, but the humor and the performances carry it. (7 / 7) -GF
Scent of a Woman (2011)
여인의 향기
A drama about death that’s not really about death. The main trio’s stories edge out the aggravatingly meddly second leads. (8 / 8) Uplifting story about a death sentence spurring the heroine to begin living. Often bogged down by needless plot circles, but the good outweighs the bad. (7 / 8) –GF
School 2013 (2013)
학교 2013
The understated, slice-of-life storytelling packs a surprising emotional punch. (8 / 8) One of my favorite onscreen bromances of dramaland. A good example of youthful stories told in a meaty way, with substance and heart. (9 / 8) -GF
Secret (2013)
비밀
Addictively paced, the show churns out a steady diet of extreme behavior committed by people who are either morally reprehensible or dumb. Often simplistically melodramatic, it’s at least a soapy, entertaining watch. (7 / 7)
Secret Garden (2010)
시크릿 가든
Well-acted, sharp dialogue, great chemistry. Beautiful to look at, but it’s a lot of slick veneer. Alas, I found it hard to connect with emotionally. (7 / 8) Runs the gamut from hilarious to infuriating. Stellar performance by Hyun Bin, but I never managed to fall in love with the characters. (7 / 7) -GF
Shark (2013)
상어
Starts out as a dark, pensive revenge game, but peters out into a rather ordinary and almost pointless melodrama. Revenge should be sweeter than this. (5 / 6) -GF
Shut Up: Flower Boy Band (2012)
닥치고 꽃미남밴드
Pitch-perfect. It’s rockin’ with music and brotherhood, but most of all it’s about the heart-tugging process of finding yourself. (10 / 10) The best and worst of what it means to be young and lost, told with raw energy and a beautiful sense of realism. (9 / 9) -GF
Sly and Single Again (2014)
aka Cunning Single Lady,
앙큼한 돌싱녀
At times silly and overly simplistic with rather broad comedy, but the core of the show is sweet and heartwarming. The main couple (and actors) buoy the show. (7 / 7) Not a deep drama, but it shows what fun a rom-com can be when the actors commit to the comedy. (7 / 7) –GF
The Sons of Sol Pharmacy House (2009)
aka My Too Perfect Sons,
솔약국집아들들
Hilarious, heartwarming family comedy about a family with four sons who each find love, with some help (and interference) from their boisterous family.
(8 / 7)
Soulmate (2006)
소울메이트
Witty, trendy, funny. Fabulous soundtrack and surprisingly tight plotting. Skillful use of chronology and narrative. (10 / 9) Feels like indie cinema in the form of a drama. Edgy, while still capturing a bit of whimsy and romance. (9 / 9) –GF
Standby (2012)
스탠바이
Oh, how I wished this were better. So many actors I love playing characters I didn’t care about. Ha Suk-jin carried this sitcom for me, and for that alone it was worth watching. But only just. (6 / 5)
A Star’s Lover
(2008-09)
스타의 연인
Pro: Choi Ji-woo and Yoo Ji-tae’s acting and great chemistry. Con: Everything else (slow, repetitive, predictable). (5 / 6)
Story of a Man (2009)
aka The Slingshot
남자이야기
Intense, thrilling, smartly woven together. Great balance of light and dark. Hits on all three points of acting, directing, writing—and it’s FUN. (10 / 10)
Strongest Chil Woo (2008)
최강칠우
This is not a good drama, but thankfully its outrageousness (intentional and otherwise) keep it entertaining. Alas its hilarity doesn’t come as frequently as one would like. (6 / 6)
Summer Scent (2003)
여름향기
Probably my favorite of the Season Dramas, because it’s a) not about incest and b) more about the realistic moving on from first love into the present. Atmospheric, and actually uses the feeling of summer in a palpable way. (7 / 6) –GF
Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010)
성균관 스캔들
So cute and well-done. But, ran out of steam toward the end, curtailing the earlier addiction high. (8 / 8) Fantastic fusion sageuk world with gender-bendy shenanigans. Idealistic and addictive, but doesn’t deliver on all its setups. Makes up for it with bromance explosion of epic proportions. (9 / 8) -GF
Suspicious Housekeeper (2013)
수상한 가정부
A little mysterious, a little ominous, the drama turns out to be a heart-warming story of healing, growth, and bonding. Has some slowish moments, but refreshing in tone and message. (7 / 7)
Sweet 18 (2004)
낭랑18세
A breezy romance between a couple who marries first, then falls in love. Led by an adorable pairing (who became a real-life couple after this drama), the stakes are low and so are the dramatics, but the show keeps up a chipper tone as a sweet, innocent rom-com. (8 / 7)
Sword and Flower (2013)
aka Blade and Petal, 칼과 꽃
Overdirected and underwritten, with an ending that’ll make you want to throw your screen. The style actively works against substance. Often pretentious, sometimes insufferable. (3 / 4)
That Winter, the Wind Blows (2013)
그 겨울, 바람이 분다
Beautifully filmed, elegant schlock. Draws you in with its moody, almost dreamy melo touch, but the story it tells is nothing we haven’t seen in other (faux) incest-chaebol-takeover dramas. Disliked every character and the tiresome machinations. (5 / 7)
Thousand Day Promise (2011)
천일의 약속
Su Ae is commanding. Virtually no plot, just a grim progression of a disease with no hope at the end. Depressing and a little smug. (5 / 7) Compelling performances, but in the end you’re left wondering about the point of it all. (6 / 7) -GF
Three Days (2014)
쓰리 데이즈
As an earnest story about a president and his bodyguard, it succeeds. As a taut condensed-time thriller, it pretty much fails. Points for multifaceted characters, but I really wish the plot had been executed differently. (7 / 6) –GF
To the Beautiful You (2012)
아름다운 그대에게
I watched the whole thing and still don’t know why anyone did anything in this drama. It’s cute at times, but I’d trade that for story logic any day of the week. (3 / 3) -GF
Tree With Deep Roots (2011)
뿌리깊은 나무
Sharp writing, slick directing, stellar acting by Han Seok-kyu as Korea’s most famous king. Full of intrigue and thrills. (8 / 9)
Triple (2009)
트리플
Breezy and refreshing, but also slow. Tone feels like Coffee Prince, but lacks focus and direction. (6 / 5) What on earth was the point of this story? I still don’t know, and I watched every single episode. Seriously. Waste of a stellar adult cast. (4 / 3) –GF
Trot Lovers (2014)
트로트 연인
A silly show with outlandish plot twists that overdoes what could (should) have been a sweet story of romance and growth in the lesser-known world of trot music. Points for Jung Eun-ji’s awesome a cappella singing, which was a highlight—perhaps the only one. (5 / 5)
Twelve Men in a Year (2012)
일년에 열두남자
A fresh concept and a fun way to explore singledom. But the execution leaves a lot to be desired, and the heroine always felt miscast. (6 / 5) -GF
Two Weeks (2013)
투윅스
Skillfully maintains compelling pace that tempers a breakneck fugitive plot with character development. Wonderful growth trajectory for the underdog hero. (8 / 8) A fugitive story with laser focus and a heartfelt redemption arc. It succeeds in making you feel like you’re along for the harrowing journey every step of the way. (8 / 8) –GF
Unemployed Romance (2013)
실업급여 로맨스
Took what could have been an endearing story of a couple’s reunion and told it upside-down and backwards. I like that it’s about an underdog hero and heroine, but it’s paced all wrong. (4 / 4) –GF
Unstoppable High Kick (2006-07)
거침없이 하이킥
Loosely plotted family sitcom featuring an adorable cast of future superstars. The problems are small, but the show’s heart is big. (8 / 7)
Vampire Idol (2012)
뱀파이어 아이돌
You don’t make a show about alien vampire idol trainees, then half-ass the camp factor. Props for taking all the best parts of a ridiculous concept and adding adorable relationships on top. Sweetly dim. (7 / 6) Messy and low-rent, but all the more endearing because of it. The cutest dose of zany this side of Vampiritus. (8 / 6) -GF
Vampire Prosecutor (2011)
뱀파이어 검사
Sexy and smart, this action-crime drama is more procedural than paranormal, but damn if the paranormal (Mr. Vampire Hotness) isn’t sizzling. (8 / 8) Slick procedural with a supernatural edge that leaves you chomping at the bit for more. (8 / 8) -GF
Vampire Prosecutor 2 (2012)
뱀파이어 검사 2
The crew is back, the dynamic is funnier, and the addition to the team is a welcome and heartwarming one. And yet, it doesn’t quite have the bite (or the punch or kick) of the first season. (7 / 8) Same vampire, less sizzle. (7 / 7) -GF
The Vineyard Man (2006)
포도밭 그사나이
Mildly amusing, but very ordinary. Oh Man-seok is great, Yoon Eun-hye is forgettable. If you’re a Yoon fan, skip it and see Coffee Prince instead. (5 / 6)
Warrior Baek Dong-soo (2011)
무사백동수
Breathtakingly badass and bromantic. Can get draggy at times. Just fast-forward to the fight scenes. (8 / 7) -GF
What’s Up, Fox (2006)
여우야 뭐하니
Good follow-up by writer of Samsoon. Go Hyun-jung is always a treat to watch, as is Chun Jung-myung. Not necessarily exciting, but humorous and witty. (8 / 8) So. Cute. (8 / 7) –GF
White Christmas (2011)
화이트 크리스마스
Hauntingly stark and beautifully shot. A compelling, psychologically tense character study with a flair for darkness that leaves you amazed, and a little scared. (9 / 9) -GF
Who Are You? (2008)
누구세요?
This drama is all heart. Surprisingly better than its silly start, it gets steadily better as you go along, and the body-swapping is both hilarious and meaningful. Yoon Kye-sang is a standout. (9 / 8)
Who Are You? (2013)
후아유
Watchable mix of mystery, paranormal, and procedural cases lightened up by intermittent comic beats. Neither as poignant nor as dark as I wanted it to be; lead couple lacks that spark. Decent showing, but leaves some of its potential unfulfilled. (7 / 7)
Will It Snow For Christmas? (2009-10)
크리스마스에 눈이 올까요?
First half of this romance melodrama is poignant, emotionally wracking, layered; second half gets too convoluted for comfort. Go Soo is marvelous. (8 / 7)
Wish Upon a Star (2010)
별을 따다줘
Pro: It’s unexpectedly charming. Con: Messy plot and weak secondary characters. Adorable kids and an appealing heroine keep it watchable. (8 / 6)
Witch Amusement (2007) aka Witch Yoo Hee

마녀유희

Endlessly mockable, but in the fun way. Pure eye candy, no nutrition. (6 / 3)
Witch’s Romance (2014)
마녀의 연애
This cute workplace noona-romance does nothing different in the rom-com genre, but it hits all the sweet spots and has sizzling couple chemistry. (8 / 7)
The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry (2010)
아직도 결혼하고 싶은 여자
Breezy, witty. Touching and fun depiction of modern friendships and romance. (9 / 8) If you’re ever having a bad day, watch this drama. Instant pick-me-up, and crackling chemistry to boot. (9 / 8) –GF
Wonderful Season (2014)
참 좋은 시절
(? / ?)
The World They Live In (2008) aka Worlds Within
그들이 사는 세상
True to the title, the world is the most compelling thing about this drama. It’s an inside look at drama producers and directors, and while I never loved any of the characters, I did find them fascinating. (6 / 8) –GF
You From Another Star (2013-14)
별에서 온 그대
With its winsome comedy, sizzling chemistry, and a zippy story, it’s not hard to see why this became the rom-com sensation of the year. It’s got some plot holes, but still is one of the best rom-coms to come around in a while. (9 / 9) Lightning in a bottle. A case where its astronomical popularity is well-deserved and then some. (9 / 9) –GF
You’re All Surrounded (2014)
너희들은 포위됐다
(? / ?)
You’re Beautiful (2009)
미남이시네요
Hilarious situations, fast-moving plot, memorable characters. Park Shin-hye is adorable (if dim), but it’s Jang Geun-seok who kills it. (9 / 8) I never knew I wanted to be a cross-dressing girl/boy in an idol band…until this drama. It takes crazy up a few notches, but in the best way possible. (9 / 9) –GF
You’re Here, You’re Here, You’re Really Here (2012)
왔어 왔어 제대로 왔어
As insipid as shows get. I cut it some slack for being on a fledgling cable station with a minuscule budget, but ultimately it flops. Winning leads in a dull world. (4 / 4)
You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin (2013)
최고다 이순신
Alternately adorable and aggravating; had all the parts of a cuter, funnier show yet failed to take advantage of its assets. Focused too much on the insufferables, not enough on the more enjoyable storylines. Not the worst family drama ever, but not the fun ride I wanted it to be. (6 / 5)
You’ve Fallen For Me (2011)
aka Heartstrings
넌 내게 반했어
Cute players, breezy, youthful vibe. But lacks anything resembling an interesting plot. (6 / 5) –GF

 

And for the old stuff…

Autumn Story (2000)
aka Autumn Fairy Tale
가을동화
They’re siblings! They’re not! It’s the classic twisty melodrama, and one of the earlier ones that came before Winter Sonata (same PD) and made stars out of Song Seung-hun and Song Hye-kyo. –GF
Feelings (1994)
느낌
One of the earliest trendy dramas boasting a hip, young, good-looking cast. Probably the first college campus drama. The drama that spawned my love of all things Lee Jung-jae. I blame you, Feelings. –GF
First Love (1996-7)
첫사랑
Choi Soo-jong and Bae Yong-joon as brothers in love with the same girl…their entire lives. It did solidify my early love of Bae Yong-joon as the tragic bad boy, although that image didn’t last very long as he went on to be the headliner of his own dramas. –GF
Forever Yours (1998)
세상끝까지
Watched this because it was the re-team of Kim Hee-sun and Ryu Shi-won, and was sorely disappointed by the overwrought melodramatic fare that never made use of their adorable chemistry (see: Propose, below). –GF
Hotelier (2001)
호텔리어
Bae Yong-joon and Song Yuna (also with Kim Seung-woo and Song Hye-kyo) in an early hit, about the ins and outs of the hotel business. A Cinderella story, of course, with a little wheeling and dealing thrown in. –GF
Icing (1996)
아이싱
A direct rip-off of The Last Match (see below), it tried to re-create its success with recycled cast and story. See Jang Dong-gun with Lee Seung-yeon back when they were trendy young things.
Jealousy (1992)
질투
THE original trendy drama starring still-famous Choi Jin Shil and Choi Su Jong. Funny and cute, see the drama that started the trend. Lightning in a bottle, I think. It was all about the lead couple and the cracktastic will-they-won’t-they. –GF
Last Match (1994)
마지막 승부
Superstar Jang Dong Gun in one of his earliest roles, featuring an extremely young and new Shim Eun Ha! Spawned the sports-drama trend. I loved this drama. To an embarrassing degree. –GF
Popcorn (2000)
팝콘
Oh, this was a bad drama. Mediocre acting and all the typical cliches—she’s dying, he cries a lot—but it’s old-school Song Seung-heon, before he hit his big break.
Propose (1997)
프로포즈
One of my favorite old-school dramas. A trendy romance that followed in the vein of Feelings, and highlighted the burgeoning love between two best friends, played by Kim Hee-sun and Ryu Shi-won when they were both adorably young. –GF
Sandglass (1995)
모래시계
One of the highest-rated dramas ever, and one of the most highly regarded. Stellar cast, stellar writing, this swept the nation and deals with some intense historical events, such as the Gwangju Massacre of 1980. Still probably one of the best, even by today’s standards. I still have a cassette tape of the soundtrack. –GF
Star in My Heart (1997)
별은 내가슴에
Early Hallyu hit and one of the first Cinderella-story dramas. Over-the-top by today’s standards, but who doesn’t love a rags-to-riches romance? Every girl in Korea wanted to be her. Yeah… –GF
Tomato (1999)
토마토
Another Kim Hee-sun vehicle, with a man and a woman as (gasp!) roommates. Sadly, it veered away from the cute and went towards the melodramatic as the series went on. –GF
Wedding Dress (1997-8)
웨딩드레스
Lee Seung-yun and Kim Hee-sun as sisters who both want to be married. I remember it as being wildly popular back in the day, probably because of the stars, as the story is family/romance, and nothing groundbreaking. –GF
Winter Sonata (2002)
겨울연가
The quintessential Hallyu hit, which skyrocketed Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo to mystifying heights. There’s amnesia, incest, switched identities, life-threatening illnesses, and a lot of crying. A whole lot. –GF
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1,157 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. 51 Peggy

    Just finished Who Are You. Loved it. Took a long time as I needed Eng.subs and finally resorted to streaming site. Lead man such a good actor and become so attractive as he became warmed up by his ghostly intruder.

    Really loved Flowers for my Life. Just good feelings all the way through.

    One of my first dramas was AJW in ‘STAR’ He was so wonderful despite the terrible hairdo …. Glad that changed. He still sings as well if not better. My first Korean heartthrob and I still like him. So attractive and mischievious.

    Love your writings and agree with most of your opinions.

    Ja ne.

    [Lol, that hairdo! Totally agree. Seriously, I don't know what some of those idols were thinking back then... which is probably what our kids'll say about our favorite idol stars now. -j ]

  2. 52 Lily

    I agree, Who Are You was great. Something about this drama was fresh and fun for me, especially Yoon Kye Sang’s acting. I think this drama is quite underrated but I’m glad to hear that many people enjoyed it. It may have not had any A-List actors, but this drama proved to be enjoyable in my book.

  3. 53 nixxochick

    i just came to looking at this section of your blog and i am REALLY happy that you gave Soulmate, Que Sera Sera, and Flowers for my Life the ratings you did…

    those three are my favorite dramas of all time….nothing that ive watched has even come close to how great their acting, directing, and music is!

    and i totally agree with your rating for Who Are You…this is one of those dramas i didnt expect much from but got a whole bunch in the end :)

    [Thanks! Always great to run into people who have similar tastes. :) -j ]

  4. 54 nixxochick

    i got to work and my co-worker was watching the Hana Yori Dango Finale trailer….

    so i couldnt help but wonder what you would rate that drama?

    i know its not a korean drama but im just curious cause to me its a 10/10

    [I enjoyed Hanadan, although I didn't watch it with as critical an eye as I do most my kdramas. It gets high points for execution (direction, lighting, overal aesthetic) and the acting. I think the second season got a little repetitive and the storylines are little over the top, but it's great fun. A 9/8, perhaps? -j ]

  5. 55 Anonymous

    I agree with you on “Only You”. I didn’t even bother finish watching it…what a waste of my time (and money…since I bought the dvds!!). And absolutely loved “My Girl”….! My fav so far.

  6. 56 Liz

    Hi there! My goodness, we must be around the same age because I think Jealousy with Choi Jinsil and Feeling with Son Ji Chang and Kim Min Jong is probably one of the first Korean dramas I have ever watched. I’ve been addicted ever since. The hype with Korean entertainment in other areas aside from Korea seems like a more recent phenomenon and am glad that because of subbing such as yours Koreans can share such great stuff. I am Korean American…probably more American yet there’s something in Korean dramas that really gets me/ touches me more than Friends, Sex and the City or something of the sort. I consider myself a Korean drama connoisseur and am glad websites such as yours have started popping up. Keep up the good work!

    [Ha, I'd bet we probably are around the same age. I agree that while I love American television, it doesn't ever get me on as emotional a level as kdramas routinely do. Can't explain it since I'd consider myself more American than Korean, too. One of those han/jeong things, maybe? -j ]

  7. 57 amb

    javabeans…ty for ur ratings..they are quite useful in my opinion…but i think that u shud av given MNIKSS 10/10 n CP oso..hello!miss shud get oni a 4/4

  8. 58 snow_drop*

    I have “started” to watch the majority but actually, completely, finish up to date I can only count a few. One of your highly rated one, Coffee Prince, I thought wasn’t that great. it was good until episode 12 where I thought it was dragging. No offense since different people have different opinions, likes and dislikes. I agree with the majority but I only like about 3 comedies and 4 sad dramas – that I completely finished watching – including: full house, my name is kss, my girl, and Glass Slipper (quite draggy but it was the first I watched), Winter Sonanta, Stairway to Heaven, and Save the last dance for me.

    ^^ Since the majority of the dramas are recycled, I’m not too fond anymore. Maybe I will try QSS and Soulmate. I want to look into the ones you highly recommended…

  9. 59 Amanda

    java, I LOVE your site! i stumbled on it whilst searching out a Coffee prince synopsis (*which you did BRILLIANTLY*), and whenever I need a drama recommnedation, I always come here, b/c you have good taste. AND AN AWESOME EAR for good music. srsly. The Soulmate and Coffee prince OSTs are my favs. :)

    continue being awesome…I’ll continue reading.

    [Thanks! Music is a great love of mine, so I admit to a fondness for series that make great use of it. -j ]

  10. 60 avery

    gosh, why dont you like only you, the guy so good looking, i was so into this k drama , princess hours, my girl and only you, are the k drama im going gaga, gosh…..my all time fav these three, and with only you, its my be and end all, hook line and sinker… i wonder whats your basis, i guess, im more a rich guy meet poor girl type of plot thing…and im a sucker for handsome guy, thats why i dont watch full house coz i dont find rain so dashing, really…and right now , im into taiwanovela, so i guess all the more reason for me to misunderstand the reviews… just expressing my opinion coz( only you )made my day when it was shown before, i like the guy with way he fought for his love, the way he grab han chae young, gosh,im so dead……lol

    [I think the guy (Jo Hyun Jae) was much better than the girl (Han Chae Young), but she was so wooden that it really killed the story for me. -j ]

  11. 61 avery

    right now, im so hook with taiwanovela series, fated to love you, omg its top the ratings in taiwan, 6 something, equivalent to 10million viewers, as i mention, im for rich boy meets poor girl…….theres they kiss again a sequel to iswak I, romantic princess, devil beside you, why why love ….. really, all the lead guys so dashing…….but anyway, every person has different opinion…. this means, if i watched ONLY YOU, more than five times,not everyone’s perception coupled with mine, guess it answers me….

  12. 62 ANNIE BANANIE

    WHAT BOUT THREE DADS & ONE MOM. I LIKE BUT AT THE END THEY WRAP TO QUICK, DO YOU THINK THEY WILL COME OUT WITH 2ND DRAMA?

    [There aren't any plans for another season. Esp. since the two lead males are off in the army now. :( -j ]

  13. 63 ANNIE BANANIE

    good morning Javabean
    I watch the Delightful girl last night it was very good. thank you.

  14. 64 Andrea

    I’d love to read your reaction of Princess Lulu. It’s not a popular one but watch it! and then write about it! ok?

    [Really? Hm, all I know is that Princess Lulu was considered such a failure that the lead actress tried to get out of her contract because it made no sense to her... -j ]

  15. 65 mel

    thax for the ratings… We have similar tastes, though certain shows I don’t agree with your ratings. hm.. maybe I shouldn’t give up on “que sera sera” or “who are you”. I’ll try some of your suggestions :) Flowers For My Life? Never heard of it..

  16. 66 Wo

    You should watch Rondo (輪舞曲)! It’s a 2006 Korea-Japan collaboration drama with Choi Ji Woo and Takenouchi Yutaka in it. The show is a romance/thriller, and there is a considerable amount of gunshot and action in addition to the romance. The show NEVER drags, which in Asian drama is of virtue in and of itself. Oh, and it is nothing like Air City – I watched some of that too and found it just too gruesome/boring. Plus it is only 11 episodes long, like the typical Japanee drama!

    [I've heard good things about Rondo... maybe will have to add to the list. -j ]

  17. 67 it's all good

    Wo, I should watch Rondo. Only 11 episodes? That’s about the perfect amount.

  18. 68 Mapenzi01

    i reaally like the way you rate!!! you are so fair!

    [Thanks! I try. -j ]

  19. 69 Philip W.

    I see your only 10/10 so far is Soulmate. Soulmate is one of my favorites as well, and I can’t believe it was such a commercial failure. One thing I realized about watching an entire drama series in 3 or so days is that by the 5th episode, you get tired of the same song popping up every time something happens.

    Not for Soulmate. I agree that Soulmate had an amazing soundtrack. Every track seemed to fit perfectly with the situation it was used for.

  20. 70 venturamama

    Have you ever watched Whatever Happened in Bali..? Amazing, eye opening, couldn’t “put down” kdrama…have you seen it?? Please rate…I continue to salute you on your entertaining and informative blog site…great work!!!

  21. 71 Sono

    Hotelier ….One of the best !!! It’s missed

  22. 72 sscrumb

    Hi Javabeans, Great Site! Love your writing style. I’ve started to check out some of your kdrama recommendations since we seem to agree on the ones we’ve both watched. Have you seen Angry Mom/Mom’s Dead Upset? It’s a big time commitment but worth it.

    [Aie, I have an aversion to long series, not because they're bad but because of the time commitment. I figure I can watch five to eight dramas in the time it would take to watch a long one... -j ]

  23. 73 einnoc

    hey there :)
    thank you very much for your reviews.
    i was looking for good dramas to watch this summer .

    [Thanks and you're welcome. Happy watching! -j ]

  24. 74 sarah

    hi i’m actually a korean drama addicted,i’ve been looking for a way to watch the drama “Springtime” starring Jang Dong Gun,will someone pls plssssssssss tell me where i can watch it,i’m gonna be crazy about it i’ve got a lot of memories with it since i watched it when i was 10years old now i’m 19 y.old.
    it was my first Kdrama,can u help? thank you.

    [Hmm, tough one. It's pretty old so the only place you're likely to find it is clubbox. If you're willing to learn the clubbox thing, there are detailed instructions on d-addicts. It's a bit complicated, but once you're up and running, it's convenient. -j ]

  25. 75 Aisha

    I ve seen few korean dramas, just love them..though they had happy endings but none of them were satisfying.

    I ve seen who r u?, she is 19, crazy for u…I know I know they all have YKS ^_^. well now looking forward to you list. :)

  26. 76 kimmy

    i like kim jung eun’s dramas especially Lovers with lee seo jin

  27. 77 Ellen

    javabeans ,have u watched snow queen?

    [Nope. It never seemed all that interesting to me, although I agree it's beautifully shot. -j ]

  28. 78 Arlyn

    I love k-dramas & watched a lot already & thought I’ve seen all the good ones.. when I checked out your ratings I realized I’ve missed out on some. I saw delightful girl in your list, watched it & had a blast. Jae Hee was really terrific & Chae Young matched him well. I really believe that for k-drama to work out, the leads must have great chemistry, all the hype won’t help if they just don’t click on screen….Thanks for your recommendations & really love your site :) Will watch Soulmate next ;)

    [You're welcome, and thanks. Hope you like Soulmate. -j ]

  29. 79 ivanovie

    Wow..i agree with your ratings..that’s why i keep coming to your blog to find out which drama i should watch..coz we’re almost at the same taste.. but i’m surprised you haven’t watched or finished Memories of Bali which i think is a good drama too, being on my top ten along with QSS, MNIKSS..and others..
    Thank’s for all the wonderful reviews..^^

  30. 80 Chachan

    So there’s someone actually who loves Soulmate! Thanks God.. I thought i was the only one..

  31. 81 fraulein

    Like u Javabeans, I love QSS to bits. It was the first drama I’ve watched that made me think so much, on so many levels. Many ppl I know who also watch korean dramas dun agree but I was glad to see so many ppl on the QSS message boards who love

    MLSS was the first drama that got me hooked on korean dramas and it’ll remain my all time favourite. I dont see anything surpassing it,not even Full House which I also love. I was quite partial towards

    Thanks to your blog I have started watching Delightful Girl Chun Hyang – which is very enjoyable by the way. My next ” projections ” will be Dalja’s Spring and The Last Scandal of my Life respectively.

    I am curious – have you seen Women of the Sun ? Will you be writing something on it ?

    Thanks for doing a great job of maintaining this site = )

    [I hear Women in the Sun is supposed to be good, but I don't like those kinds of melodramas... -j ]

  32. 82 fraulein

    Oops forgot to add,

    QSS is more profound than it looks. Dont you agree?

    And I am one of those (only a few compared with the number of fans it has spawned, as I’ve gathered) who does not like Coffee Prince. It did nothing for me..

    [Oh no, you're not alone. There's a very vocal minority who hate Coffee Prince. It's all a matter of taste. -j ]

  33. 83 Deuk-gu

    And where are Dae Jang Geum, Snow Queen, Damo, Alone In Love? These are dramas to watch, not such mediocre stuff as Soulmate…

    [Meh, meh, perhaps someday, and on the list. -j ]

  34. 84 Ma

    What do u think of “Hello My Teacher”/ “Biscuit teacher & sugar candy”…this is one of the most unforgettable korean drama that I’ve seen. There’s not many review of it, “underrated” but excellent acting by all especially the leads Gong (the hero in Coffee Prince) & heroine!! It began with a crush by a notorious bad boy on his teacher which sustained till adulthood…also dealt with the teaching profession & its challenges…I find it great…How do you rate this 2005 drama?

    [I haven't seen it. I'll give it a shot when I've got some time... -j ]

  35. 85 Anonymous

    hehe

  36. 86 elle

    hey javabeans! im just curious, what dramas are you watching right now??? share with me so i know which ones are good and which ones to watch! please notice me, haha, if u can[:

    omg i just wanna say THANK YOU for giving me such GREAT drama recommendations. I LOVE flowers for my life, wow, just a moving drama. After i saw that drama, no other drama can compare to that number of moving moments. MIA was just enjoyable as heck! i fell in love with all the characters and i will never forget them. You have GREAT taste in dramas and people like you are rare! so please give me some great suggestions! thanks[:

    [Thanks! And you're welcome! Glad you found some good dramas to watch. -j ]

  37. 87 Anonymous

    i loved likable or not

  38. 88 Anonymous

    why is the website for likable or not unavailabe. i truly love this drama i am african american. i love chinese people. i wish i could me all the characters. i now wish i could visit china.

    [I didn't keep up with Likable or Not. Too long to keep me hooked. -j ]

  39. 89 toshirofan

    Have to say that I really agree with most of your reviews. However, I’ve watched the first two episodes of “Flowers for My Life,” and I don’t find it very fabulous. Does it get better at episode 3?

    [If you dislike it after two episodes, you probably won't change your mind that drastically later. It must be a matter of preference. -j ]

  40. 90 NDog

    모래시계 is a very serious drama. It is heart warming and is done on an epic scale, that is why I enjoyed it so much, it makes you feel as if the entire nation is involved in this drama, and as if it is really happening in time. Also the old-school feel of the film effect (1995) makes it feel even more genuine.

    Must watch to be Korean?

    Ask any Korean if they know it, and they will say yes.

    Thanks

    [Absolutely. I remember when it aired. Everyone I knew was watching it. -j ]

  41. 91 Serena

    ok, so a few months ago, I checked this entry and decided that my next drama would be Soulmate (you gave it the highest rating and I trust you. Plus our tastes seem to be similar. Like Bad couple. I started watching cos a friend had recced it to me, but I couldn’t even get to ep 6. I stopped at 5. The start was great, but then…meh). Anyway, I got the first ep. Then RL happened and forgot all about the ep, which sat quietly on my HD.

    In the meantime, another friend of mine, whom I trust, sent me Spring Waltz, the whole thing. Anyway, tonight Iwas in the mood for starting a new drama, and guess which one I started? Soulmate, of course. Even though I only have one ep.

    Boy, am I *glad* you recced this thing. I LOVED it. I *giggled* during the whole ep, starting from the very beginning, LOLling throughout the text scene (Oh God, don’t we ALL do that? Analyze every single word of the text to try to decypher what the other one is thinking or feeling) right until the end. And I. Do. Not. Giggle. That has never happened to me while watching a series or movie. Laugh? yes. Tear up? sometimes. Giggle? Never, ever ever happened.

    Ok, this long winded and contorted comment is to thank you! This drama is a thing of beauty. I don’t think I’m going to be disappointed, if the premiere is any indication of the quality of the script, acting, etc. I’m SO going to rec it to my friends. And hey, I’ve just started it, which reminds me that I somehow have to find the next installment. LOL Thank you so much!

    [So glad you liked Soulmate! Some dislike it, but I consider us fans in a special club. lol. -j ]

  42. 92 Bored..

    Nice! We have the same opinions =) …My least favourite drama is Stairway To Heaven, KSW does not deserve the fame he gets. Well..my fav is My Girl, Coffee Prince, MNIKSS and Hotelier.

    [Ooh, we do have similar tastes... -j ]

  43. 93 thosaid

    good job!! You gave Soulmate the ratings i would’ve definitely given it!
    it is so underated that it’s upsetting

    [Yeah, it's underrated but I'm glad to hear of more people joining in the love. -j ]

  44. 94 shasha

    ~Hi, javabeans..I totally agree with how you rate Goong a.k.a Princess Hours…I didn’t get how everyone is hooked onto the drama for so long..even manage to watch it many times… I hardly set my self awake while tuning in to the drama..probably slow-paced drama is not my area…
    Like your review on Soulmate also …
    Thanks javabean…

    [You're welcome, and thanks! -j ]

  45. 95 Alvina

    You’re right… I just watched Who are you? today and Yoon Kye-sang is an AMAZING actor.

  46. 96 iznaberry

    soo love the site. first time i’ve seen the summaries of the coffee prince novel. thanks! good to hear other’s opinion on korean dramas. and what to watch for. thanks for that! keep up the goodwork. i also love the blog’s design. keep up the goodwork java beans. you’re like the coffe while i’m working overnight! super thanks! i’m super inspired to write my own blog for my obsession. thanks!

    [I owe lots of credit to my banner designer, Luv. And yes, by all means start your own blog! It's great fun. -j ]

  47. 97 deannadsc

    my life has never been the same since coffee prince (i’m a devoted gong yoo fanatic)!! since then, i’ve become such a KDAddict, having watched # least 40 Kmovies & 40 Kdramas, by this time.
    i sooo rely on your blogs & reviews, mainly because you give the BEST!! especially love your detailed episode reviews..they influence me a lot as to what series to buy or watch online.
    hope you keep it up!! thanks!!

    [Thank you! Glad you enjoy the recaps & reviews. -j ]

  48. 98 c_gunawan541

    I think we do have similar taste in terms of ratings and liking dramas.
    Que Sera Sera actually reminds me of “What Happened In Bali”
    which made me love Jo in Sung, Ha Ji Won and So Ji Sub more than ever.
    I liked that drama better than MISA which is good as well but i think Jisub’s character is kinda dull in Bali but i’m always anticipating for his interactions with Jiwon.

    I’m wondering how will you rate MISA and what happened in bali…
    btw, i’m still loving Choi Jin Shil’s Star in my heart. All time favorite, i watched it when i was small and i still love to rewatch it again……. love Ahn Jae Wook in that drama, he’s hot in there. A pity that CJS left…

    [You're not alone! I remember a lot of fans comparing QSS to Bali when it was airing, and fearing that it would end the same way. -j ]

  49. 99 shp

    Hi Sarah,

    I was introduced to your blog in the spring, and am now a daily reader and fan. (I’m so nervous writing to you now in anticipation of a response! That’s a sly way to “force” you to reply. LOL!)

    First of all, many thanks for the copious amount of time you spend on your blog. (It sounds as if you are a grad student. You made a reference once that you were behind on your reading.) Your love of kdramas shows through in your smart, sometimes irreverent, writing. What I really appreciate is the way you are able to put your finger on the “feeling” of a drama. You are able to articulate what I enjoy about a drama but am unable to put in words myself.

    Having been born in Korea but growing up in Canada since the age of four, my Korean is not strong enough to watch a drama without subs. Even though I am Canadian by nationality, like you, Korean dramas pull at my heart in a way many Western dramas/movies don’t. Many Korean songs in the dramas make me so emotional without me even understanding the lyrics. Thank you for your wonderful and varied song of the day selections.

    Your glossary is very informative and your insights on fansubbing are fascinating. I can appreciate the difficult art of translating. I notice your grammar is impeccable, but that you have a great handle on slang, as well. (One very minor point that the teachings of my grade 10 English teacher compel me to point out to you:a person is “hanged” to death not “hung”. I believe that was from a recap of an episode of Strongest Wil-Choo)

    I’ve only watched about a dozen kdramas, having arrived late to the Hallyu scene, but your views on the ones I have seen resonate with me. Because of your recommendation, I watched Flowers for My Life and enjoyed it immensely. It sits at the #1 or #2 spot on my favourites list. The other being Que Sera Sera which I just finished watching over a period of 2 days. (My kids ate a lot of cereal and sandwiches over that time because I didn’t want to “waste” any time cooking. Thank goodness I have a really Korean mother like Dal-ja (Dal-ja’s Spring) and Eun-Joo (My Sweet Seoul) whose mothers pack food for them to take home!)

    The emotional intensity of Que Sera Sera was exhilarting. I just love the way Eric Moon’s character was put out-of-kilter by the blatantly innocent Eun-Soo. (Sometimes I wonder if it is healthy for me to get so wrapped up in the lives of fictional characters…I have a great relationship with my husband and kids but I find I am thinking about drama characters’ lives a lot! Or is this part of the fun/attraction of kdramas?)

    Your episode recaps add so much to my drama enjoyment. Your insight and opinions give so much more depth to the whole experience. After I watch a really good episode or two, I read your recaps and then watch the episodes again!

    I watched the first episode of Soulmate a few months ago, but was not really pulled in, but since I enjoyed your other recommendations are so much I will have to give it another try.

    This is a long-winded THANK YOU for all you do. Sorry that it’s so long.

    [Thanks so much for your words! Recapping is a lot of fun, but it's even better when I hear that they've been helpful and enjoyable to fans of the show. And I love that I'm able to introduce people to series they may have not known about. Sometimes my recs don't click with people (I don't expect them to, always) but I'm really glad to hear when they do. You must have similar taste to mine, seeing which dramas you've responded to! -j ]

  50. 100 shp

    oops, I mixed up the name *Strongest Chil Woo* (how embarassing)

    *exhilarating*

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